The foundation of a pioneering maternity service at North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust which ensures pregnant women who need mental health support get the joined-up care they need has been cited by the Nursing and Midwifery Council as an example of innovation and professional leadership which all midwives should be striving for.
The ‘Magnolia Midwives’ service, which is the first of its kind in the UK, is a multi-disciplinary model which brings together antenatal care, obstetrics, psychiatry, psychology and social workers, to support women with moderate to severe mental health issues during their pregnancy.
Established in May 2019 under the leadership of consultant midwife Fiona Laird and specialist perinatal mental health midwife Jennifer Elliott, the service provides continuity of care for women during their pregnancy, birth and post-natally. In 2018, more than 600 women booking their pregnancy with North Mid needed the kind of joined-up service provided by the Magnolia Midwives team.
Now the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has used the innovative responsiveness that Fiona and Jennifer demonstrated in setting up the new service as an example of the standard of leadership they are looking to see in the midwifery profession across the UK, as part of the launch of their new midwifery standards which set out what the next generation of midwives should know and learn.
The new standards, which follow two years of engagement with women, midwives, student midwives and other health professionals, will act as an evidence-based benchmark for the midwifery profession.
Invited to speak at the England launch of the new standards at an NMC event in central London, Fiona said:
“For pregnant women already facing family, social or financial problems, the stigma that still surrounds poor mental health can be crushing, and can lead to them feeling even more isolated and vulnerable. Being looked after by the Magnolia team means they get to know their midwife, have access 24/7 to them, and get joined-up care from a whole range of health and care professionals under the one umbrella, which can really make a difference to their mental health.”
The Magnolia team includes not only midwives, but also a consultant obstetrician, counselling psychologist, perinatal mental health nurse, social worker, and safeguarding specialist. The joined-up care means that women don’t have to constantly go over traumatic and difficult issues with different people. The Magnolia model also includes community-based mindfulness sessions and peer support, helping new mums share how they are coping with the life-changing event of a new baby.
One of the mums who has used the Magnolia service joined Fiona at the event to speak about her own experience and why she thinks the new approach is so important. Katherine Woolly, who gave birth to baby son Charlie on 14 December, said:
“Pregnancy was bloody difficult and emotionally draining, but with the support of Fiona and the perinatal mental health team, I’m not afraid to go through it and birth again.”
North Mid’s chief nurse Sarah Hayes, who is the Trust’s executive lead for maternity services, said:
“As the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife begins, I’m delighted to see that the professional leadership and innovation demonstrated by North Mid’s maternity service is being recognised by the professional regulator of nurses and midwives in the UK in this way.
“Since joining North Mid in December 2019, I have been really struck by the commitment our staff show to their patients, colleagues and local community. The development of Magnolia Midwives which is an innovative approach to meeting a particular local need – and doing this in way which is not just good but exemplary – is just one instance in which Team North Mid is delivering our aim of providing outstanding care for local people.”