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Reflection on the International Maternity Experience: Maternity services after Covid 19

During these difficult and challenging times having access to this international online experience was a fantastic experience.

Midwives have always been great at multi-tasking, but as someone who has enjoyed face to face teaching, the concept of this experience was so rewarding. I “multi tasked” drinking tea, housework, ironing, answering emails and many other things, which watching or just listening to many of the presentations. Having access at a later date to sessions that I have missed will be great over the next few weeks.

So who have been highlights for me? Mary Renfrew reminded us of the worldwide reactions to the pandemic and how we have been able to cope, adapt and transform in so many ways. She shared both some positives and negative reactions in the early days. She finished by saying we need to celebrate the positive changes made to maternity and educational services during COVID-19.

Personal views of midwifery and their own experiences were intertwined throughout IME. Dr Lucia Rocca-Ihenacho and Judy Evans shared how Covid-19 had impacted on education and clinical roles from their own perspectives.

Professor Lesley Page and Maria Booker (Birthrights) challenged us to ensure any changes to services were “proportionate responses”. When these occurred (home birth, waterbirth and birth centres closed, restricted visiting and non attendance for birth companions at clinic or scan appointments) could be legally justified even with the Corona Act 2020. As I complete writing this review the NHS have just published “Framework to assist NHS trusts to reintroduce access for partners, visitors and other supporters of pregnant women in English maternity services”.

The wider public health issues and perinatal health had various presentations and perspectives from Dr Andrew Weeks (Liverpool) to Luseshelo Fanny Simwinga (Malawi and Samson Udho (Uganda). Truly inspirational work is being developed, and continued in maintaining “respectful maternity care”.

On the last day there were three pre-recorded presentations. The sessions came from different perspectives, NMC regulation, compassionate leadership and waterbirth during Covid. There was an opportunity to ask questions via live chat when possible.

The conference gave a worldwide view of how the pandemic has affected maternal and newborn care. The speakers gave very clear, informative and where possible, evidence based materials.

Well done to the IME team with their skills in the putting together the diverse agenda, technology and encouraging variety of speakers. This maybe the way forward but I hope in the future we will be able to meet and interact face to face.

Freelance midwife

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