Life-saving wallets will ensure wellbeing of expectant mothers
Director of Midwifery at Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust and head of the BAME Birthing With Colour Advisory Panel Helen Knower wth a life-saving Wellbeing Wallet
Proceeds from this year’s BAME Birthing With Colour conference in London will help fund life-saving wellbeing wallets printed in a range of languages for expectant mothers at Lewisham Hospital writes Bronte Carvlaho
The wallets are the brainchild of Heidi Eldridge founder of UK’s baby loss prevention charity MAMA Academy. Their inspiration was borne in personal tragedy. Back in 2009, Heidi’s first son, Aidan, was stillborn.
“His death was recorded as just one of those things. Nothing could have been done. It was just an ‘unexplained stillbirth’. I later found out that his death may have been preventable, and I just wish that I was given more information. I wish that they’d told me about certain signs and symptoms, especially how to monitor my baby’s movements.
I wish that they’d told me about certain signs and symptoms, especially how to monitor my baby’s movements.
“When I went to have my routine 36-week midwife appointment, it was then that they couldn’t find his heartbeat. The midwife asked me when the last time I felt him kick was, and I couldn’t even remember. It dawned on me that I didn’t realise it was something I should be recording. I always just thought ‘isn’t it nice to feel my baby move?’ I didn’t know that changes in that movement could be a sign of a problem.
“Earlier on, I’d had a really sharp pain under my ribs when I went for a walk. It was bad enough that I had to stop and wait for it to pass. I feel that, had I been more empowered and informed about certain risks, I would have gone in and reported that as soon as it happened.”
Like many expectant mothers, Heidi recalls being overwhelmed by the onslaught of new information in the first few months of her pregnancy. “Unless you’re given a leaflet relating to your specific condition you don’t tend to read it all. You don’t take all the information in.”
Left: MAMA Academy's Heidi Eldridge: Expectant mothers are deluged with information. Wellbeing Wallets help make sense of it - and have been proven to save lives
And even when the information does directly speak to a condition it does not always percolate through. As a diabetic, Heidi was given a leaflet about the risks associated with the disease to unborn babies but her consultant didn’t seem concerned. “She just said: ‘you don’t need to think about that’”.
To resolve this informational impasse Heidi created the Wellbeing Wallet.
The plastic folders are A3 sized and instantly recognisable with a number of colourful, eye-catching boxes printed on both sides with easy-to-understand bullet points of information about how to have a healthy pregnancy - as well as signs to look out for just in case you don’t. These range from the symptoms of an early labour to the warning signs that a problem might require immediate medical attention. It’s all presented with a comforting sense of directness. Each sentence is straight to the point and devoid of complicated language or medical terminology.
Inside an expectant mothers can keep the multiple medical notes, ultrasound photocopies and information leaflets she will accumulate during her pregnancy. Referring to this crucial information becomes second nature.
“The expectant mother brings the wallet to every appointment. This means the contents can be read while travelling to and from the clinic or sitting in the waiting room. If at any point you do have a problem, an expectant mother can ask herself, ‘what did the wallet say I should do?’ and then you might know that you should call your maternity unit for advice and have the number to hand as its written alongside other important phone numbers in the dedicated box on the wallet’s cover.
Every single trust reported a decrease in stillbirth rates
The Wellbeing Wallets have been a hit with expectant fathers as well: “We’ve had stories of mums being concerned about an issue, and their partner suggesting they check the wallet for guidance and they end up calling their doctor. Sometimes, it’s actually about empowering dad to encourage mum to make that call.”
A pilot trial funded by NHS England enabled Heidi and her team to distribute 80,000 Wellbeing Wallets to 15 NHS Trusts across the country. Every single trust reported a decrease in stillbirth rates while the wallets were being used. A report on the trial concluded that three babies’ lives were saved thanks to the information the parents had read on their Wellbeing Wallet.
RIght: Princess Royal Hospital in Bromley, Kent, taking delivery of a batch of Wellbeing Wallets funded by The Brun Bear Foundation, organisers of
BAME Birthing With Colour
“Our vision is for every mother to receive a Wellbeing Wallet at their first midwifery appointment and to produce the wallets in every language we can. We currently offer 10 different languages, and I’ve got another 20 on my backup list for the future, but it’s really all about funding. We need funds to be able to produce them for the women that need them most.
“For this reason we are especially grateful that part of the proceeds from this year’s BAME Birthing With Colour conference will help fund Wellbeing Wallets in a range of languages for expectant mothers at Lewisham Hospital.”
About BAME Birthing With Colour
BAME Birthing With Colour is a one day conference organised by registered charity The Brun Bear Foundation in association with a top team of healthcare professionals led by Helen Knower, Director of Midwifery, Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust.
The conference’s objectives are to draw together medical professionals, policy makers, the third sector, community groups and mothers themselves for an outstanding programme that helps shape, deliver, direct and influence higher standards of BAME Maternity care.
Proceeds from the day – which is being organised on an entirely voluntary basis – will support relevant medical and other causes.
For more information including speaking, attendance, sponsorship, media and supporting organisation opportunities please email firstname.lastname@example.org
To secure your ticket please visit www.bamematernity.com
Author: Bronte Carvalho
Subeditor: Edwin Lampert