Monday 7 March 2016

We're off to the midwife of the year awards tomorrow

I nominated our epilepsy midwife Kim for the Emma's Diary women's midwife of the year awards and I am so thrilled that she won for our region and tomorrow we get to attend the awards ceremony to find out if she has won overall.  It would be so fantastic if she did firstly because her knowledge and support is incredible and she deserves to be acknowledged.  It would also be a fantastic way to get the issue of epilepsy and pregnancy into the media and bring it to the attention of midwives across the country.  Even  if it just means that a few midwifes decide to read a little bit more about epilepsy that can only be a good thing for women with epilepsy across the country.  So fingers crossed.

Epilepsy Action have written up our birth story and explained why we nominated Kim here, but I'm going to share the article below as it sums it all up perfectly.

Award-winning midwife, Kim Morley’s specialist epilepsy and pregnancy knowledge gave new mum a better second birth

Clair Cobbold had a very traumatic first birth. Despite wanting a second baby, she didn’t know if she could bear another experience like that. She tells Epilepsy Today how midwife Kim Morley gave her the confidence for a second baby.

Ahead of the RCM Annual Midwifery Awards ceremony on March 8, Clair Cobbold explains why Kim Morley is a very worthy winner of the South of England’s Midwife of the Year 2016 award, and nominee for the Midwife of the Year award.
“I was diagnosed with epilepsy 12 years ago when I was 19. It was just after I’d started university that I had a couple of tonic-clonic seizures.
“It took a long time to get the correct diagnosis, as the general neurologists I saw while at university and after returning home didn't recognise I was also having focal seizures. After starting medication, my tonic-clonic seizures went from one a month to one a year.
“Eventually, I was referred to Queens Square in London where they ran more tests and found I had temporal lobe epilepsy. I get focal seizures, which are like a feeling of anxiety sweeping over me and they can sometimes alter my vision. They only last a couple of seconds. I also get tonic-clonic seizures where I go very blue and it takes me a long time to recover from these.
“I changed medication about 18 months ago from lamotrigine to levetiracetam and for the first time since being diagnosed, I have been a whole year without having a seizure. So now I am reapplying for my driving licence back! I never thought this day would come and had accepted my seizures
were probably here to stay.
“I found being diagnosed with epilepsy at university hard. I felt it took away a lot of my independence and stopped me from doing the things I wanted. But I found a way to turn things around and became an Epilepsy Action Accredited Volunteer when I was 20. I have learned so much about epilepsy and now it's not as scary anymore. I don't let my epilepsy stop me anymore and just find ways to make it as safe as possible so I ride my horse and ski.”
“Riley was born on June 3rd 2012 weighing 8lbs8oz. Throughout my pregnancy I saw a lot of health professionals because I was considered high risk. The local hospital where I was planning to have Riley wasn't used to dealing with women with epilepsy. They all came up with a plan that was very medicalised and controlled. I just went along with it because I didn't know any different and I wanted us to be safe.
“When I got to hospital I was already a long way through labour (9cm dilated) but they decided to follow the plan anyway. They gave me clobazam to reduce my risk of seizures and an epidural to control my pain, as they were worried that could trigger seizures.
“Both of these slowed my labour down and 12 hours later Riley still hadn't arrived and we had both become distressed. I was taken to theatre and she was delivered by forceps. It was very traumatic and my husband, Rich, wasn't told what was going on and thought we had died.
Clair had a difficult experience of pregnancy and brith with Riley
“After the delivery, I was in a lot of pain and very distressed and confused. The neurological team at the hospital decided to drop my epilepsy medication dose back down to my pre-pregnancy dose overnight putting me at risk of breakthrough seizures.
“Rich wasn't allowed to stay with me on the ward and Riley was placed in bed with me to feed for hours on end as she was very upset. This put her at a huge risk if I'd had a seizure, which, luckily, I didn't.
“Following the birth, my husband and I were both very upset and found those first few months really tough. I had some very low times in those first few months and looking back, I wish I'd found help. But we got through those tough times and then I loved being a mum. We put lots of safeguards in place to keep Riley safe if I had a seizure.
“We feel blessed that Riley doesn't seem to have been affected by my epilepsy medication or the seizure I had at the beginning of my pregnancy. She is now a healthy, happy three-year-old, and has grown up learning a lot about epilepsy. She knows exactly what to do if I have a seizure and is a pro at getting trains and buses!”
Meeting Kim
Kim Morley won the RCM South of England Midwife of the Year 2016 award
“Epilepsy Action approached me to write for the pregnancy diaries and help with the HealthE mum-to-be campaign. I found that was a really positive thing for me. I wanted to make sure other women got more support during pregnancy and being a new mum than I did. Sharing my story seemed a good way to do that.
“It was, in fact, while helping with some pregnancy and parenting workshops for the campaign, that I first met Kim.
“A few years on, we started thinking about another child as we wanted Riley to have a brother or sister. But the idea of going through that trauma again was too much so we looked at other options. We looked into adoption, but unfortunately were rejected because Riley was too young. That was when I decided to have a chat with Kim to see if the birth experience could be different.”
Kim helped Clair gain the confidence
to have her second baby, Benji
“Benji was born 2nd October 2015, weighing 9lbs. He is now nearly 5 months and doing well. I am breastfeeding him still and we are lucky because he sleeps a lot better than Riley did. He's a really happy, smiley baby and we feel really lucky to have him. Riley loves being a big sister and Benji thinks Riley's the best thing ever!
“Our birth experience with Benji couldn't have been any more different and most of that is due to Kim. The second time around, we just wanted things to be less traumatic and to be able to enjoy those first few months rather than battle our way through them.
“The first time we travelled down to see Kim (it's about 2 hours away from us) she gave us so much of her time. She just gave us the opportunity to talk about what had happened and to cry.
“She said she thought we had both suffered from post-traumatic stress following Riley's birth. She said things didn't have to be like that and we did have options to make a second birth a more positive one.
“Not long after that, I found out I was pregnant. I sent Kim a number of emails with questions and she just answered them in a calm reassuring way.
“We went down to meet her again and put my birth plan in place. Kim's knowledge about epilepsy and pregnancy is so incredible, that we just felt we'd found someone who could answer all our questions.
“Kim never told us what to do, she gave the control back to us. She asked us what we wanted and gave us all the facts and her own insight and together we came up with a plan.
Riley and Benji
“My biggest concern was that I didn't want the birth to be overly medicalised; the less intervention the better. Kim said that because my epilepsy seemed to be pretty well controlled, there was no reason why I needed lots of intervention.
“Kim gave us the confidence and medical backing to go to our local hospital and say we wanted a natural birth with low intervention. Kim made me realise I didn't have to say yes to everything the doctors said. She gave me the confidence to enjoy my pregnancy rather than worrying what might happen because of my epilepsy.
“When it came to labour I stayed at home for most of it as Kim had helped me come up with strategies to reduce my anxiety. I got to the hospital already ready to push so all the midwife had to do was catch Benji, pretty much. I just had a little bit of gas and air during pushing but other than that no other intervention – no clobazam, no epidural and no IV.
“I remained active during my labour, and I can remember the whole thing. Afterwards, I was able to just sit and cuddle Benji and even have a cup of tea and a shower and Rich was there the whole time. It was such a positive experience and my recovery after was so much better.”
Midwife of the year
“We were looking for a way to say thank you to Kim for all she did for us. When I saw the award, it seemed perfect. Without Kim, I don't know if we'd have felt confident enough to have another baby, and I wanted a way to say thank you for helping bring us Benji.
“I am so happy that she has won the south England region award! Kim doesn't realise how amazing she is. She is a very quiet person who doesn't shout about her achievements. And yet, she has made such a huge difference to the lives of so many women with epilepsy.
“She really deserves this award. I also hope it will highlight the need for better support for pregnant women with epilepsy to lead to better experiences for others.”
RCM awards
The RCM Annual Midwifery Awards 2016 will be held in London on March 8. The RCM will announce the winner of the Midwife of the Year award, for which Kim Morley is nominated. The Epilepsy Action HealthE mum-to-be campaign has also been shortlisted for an award at this event in the Best Charity Initiative category.


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