Midwifery Units Network Launch – City University

I was thrilled to be invited to ‘docu-illustrate’ the launch of a very important and very exciting new development in midwifery – the Midwifery Units Network – at London at City University.

The Network is a newly formed organisation that will

support to those wishing to develop midwifery units (birth centres), and to already established midwifery units. The network will act as a hub to share good practice and information resources, and be a community of practice with a shared philosophy essential to offer consistent, excellent and safe care for women and their families. ”

More information can be found here: www.midwiferyunitnetwork.com

So, a short summary of speakers as follows:


Sheena Byrom OBE, Co-founder, and co-founder of the Midwifery Unit Network, and Cathy Warwick CBE, Chief Executive, RCM welcomed everyone warmly to the launch and set the evening’s tone.




Baroness Julia Cumberlege, Chair National Maternity Review was introduced as Chair for the evening, and she humorously hinted that her acute timekeeping skills would be put into practice.




Mary Newburn, Co-founder Midwifery Unit Network and service user advocate, spoke about the Midwifery Unit Network, why it was needed and what it would aim to do. Involvement was encouraged through the Network website and blog. ‘If you have a story to tell, share it here.’



16-04-MUNet_Miranda_DodwellMiranda Dodwell, Co-founder of Birthchoice UK discussed the importance of information in birth choices for women. Birthchoice UK has teamed up with Which to offer a website for women to understand birth options, and a birth professionals website containing detailed statistical information for GP’s, midwives and childbirth educators.



Dr Rupa Chilvers, Project Manager, RCM Better Births Campaign talked of her RCM Mapping project, gathering statistics on birthing environments. So far her team have mapped 226 units in England alone.




Pauline Cooke Consultant Midwife, St Mary’s Birth Centre and Queen Charlotte’s Birth Centre, gave a wonderful audio example of Why Midwifery Units matter, leaving most of the audience with watery eyes after listening to a birth in one of her units. Empowering and emotive stuff.




Emma Spillane, birth centre lead and Anna Cosgrave, birth centre midwife, St George’s Hospital, London, gave a fantastic case study on how they improved working environment in their AMU at St George’s. The results they found by making small changes in policy positively affected staff wellbeing across the department, having a big impact for staff and also patients. Really inpiring.


Kathryn Gutteridge, Consultant Midwife, Halcyon Midwifery Birth Centre and Serenity Midwifery Birth Centre, City Hospital, West Birmingham, spoke on Creating new Midwifery Units, using a fabulous motto ‘you birth in our home‘, and leaving the audience with a fundamental statement ‘Dignity is critical in terms of growth as a human being‘.



Prof Susan Bewley, Obstetrician, Chair of the Guideline Development Group, spoke on NICE Intrapartum Care guidance. ‘We are a powerhouse of evidence. How will you use it?’




Dr Tracey Cooper, Consultant Midwife, Chorley Birth Centre, Lancashire Teaching Hospital, continued the case for using evidence, giving invaluable advice on how to implement the evidence in choice of place of birth guidance. ‘Use the evidence, don’t generalise‘.



16-04-MUNet_Kate-BrintworthKatherine Brintsworth, Maternity Head of Commissioning for North East London spoke about transforming services together with a joined up approach. ‘We need to start building bridges‘ within working environments.



16-04-MUNet_Filipe-Castro-Cardona1Felipe Castro, Consultant Midwife and Co-founder Midwifery Unit Network, Whipps Cross University Hospital, Barts Health NHS Trust informed everyone on the superb Midwifery Unit Network website and social media presence including facebook and twitter.

(You may wish to share your own twitter accounts in the comments below)



Lucia Rocca-Ihenacho, NIHR Fellow City University and Co-founder Midwifery Unit Network spoke briefly on her research at City University, and finally




Denis Walsh, Associate Professor in Midwifery, School of Health Sciences, University of Nottingham reminded us what makes a good maternity unit.





Baroness Cumberlege summarised what was an energetic and lively stream of hugely influential and inspirational speakers. ‘We can build the case now because we have the evidence‘. She closed with an honorary note to Cathy Warwick CBE, Chief Executive, RCM, and thanked her for a continued contribution to midwifery. This was responded to with huge rounds of applause and cheers. Fabulous.


Katie Brooke is an illustrator and author of ‘Whoosh! A Little Book for Birth Companions’ – available to purchase for £9.99. Add your email to the mail list to receive updates.



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