I am a community midwife working as a family nurse with Renfrew Health and Social Care Partnership and I work within a large area of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC). The Family Nurse Partnership (FNP) is an intensive home visiting programme for women aged 19 and under having their first baby. Young women are invited to voluntarily enrol on the two and a half-year programme early in their pregnancy and are visited by a family nurse until their child is two years old, supporting their wellbeing while improving their health and educational outcomes using the Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) Framework.
In the new normal of living in Covid 19 Pandemic has the increased levels of anxiety my clients are feeling during pregnancy, birth and living with a newborn baby. Women are now faced with attending antenatal appointments and ultrasound scans alone due to social distancing rules. This can be a very scary time, especially if you don’t speak English and rely on using interpreting services.
Maternity services and family nurses are working to support women during this unprecedented time to reassure them, provide support and be present to listen to their fears. Smiling with my eyes as a face mask shields my smile. Human touch is replaced with the rubbery texture of gloves. While PPE must be worn to protect, both those we care for and ourselves, it does not take away the human kindness and we work hard not to let it be a social barrier.
Therapeutic relationships already built do continue to grow, but it can be frightening being cared by a person wearing PPE and we must as health professionals be mindful of this. At this time women are so thankful you are visiting them in person to supporting them, caring for them and ensuring their new bundle of joy is gaining weight, is healthy and thriving. Discussing the importance of immunisations in the following weeks that are imperative to protect their newborn.
Social distancing measures in place means clients are missing their family and friends that usually flock to see a newborn, while others are embracing the quiet time to bond as a new family and enjoy this special, private time without the stress of a steam of well-wishers. Living a bubble of feeds, nappy changes, cuddles, catching up on 40 winks and simply staring at their baby in amazement of the new life they created.
My role in providing support, guidance and containing my clients through this challenging time is paramount, and to the babies born during this pandemic who will forever be reminded of their birth and the amazing NHS and all they did to keep them safe in the weeks that followed.
I wanted to be a midwife for so many years and eventually after returning to education as a married mum-of-four aged in my 30s, I graduated with a BSc Midwifery. I worked in NHS Lanarkshire antenatal/postnatal wards and labour ward, eventually securing a community post. Being a community midwife was my dream job – I loved the relationship that grew between myself, women and their families. It can be such a magical time but unfortunately not for everyone. Some pregnancies are fraught with complications causing stress and worry. It was my role to support the family through this emotional time, addressing their concerns using my skill as a midwife to provide a positive pregnancy experience. My new FNP role is a natural progression – I now provide support to young women throughout pregnancy. This role allows me to nurture and support these young women through their pregnancy journey and after their baby is born until the child is two. Building a therapeutic relationship with young mums is key. In partnership with them, we support their personal journey, to visualise a life with a baby and to support them if they wish to focus on achieving their goals whether that is further study or employment to provide security for their future.
The first 1,000 days from conception to two years are critical in a child’s life; for emotional wellbeing and secure attachment. Being a family nurse is challenging, working with clients from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds. With dedication and role modelling nurturing behaviour, a therapeutic relationship is developed. Being honest, truthful and non-judgemental requires real self-awareness and in this way I am able to forge an equal relationship where I walk side by side with my clients, focussing on strengths, empowering and supporting them on their unique journey. We work with an expert team of professionals and collaborate with other agencies. We all work to ensure we are keeping each young woman and her child at the centre of all that we offer together. I recently supported a young woman who was in denial that she was pregnant. We saw each other regularly and I was kind, warm, caring, and spoke to her in clear language she understood. I made her feel safe and secure and reassured her. I could see the difference our relationship was having. She talked about a future with her baby, a desire to return to education, hopes and dreams of a successful career. Through our conversations she realised that all this was still possible even though she was a mum now. The transformation was overwhelming. Mum and child both have a very bright and happy future ahead and I am so grateful to have been a part of that journey from denial to hope. It’s such an enormous privilege.
Being part of the programme has changed me as a person, and a practitioner. It has enabled me to stop, be still and see with clarity that it is ok to question things, to challenge why we do things a certain way, to be curious, inquisitive and tenacious. Kindness and compassion is at the core of the Queen’s Nurse programme – values that mirror my own. It is a collective body of likeminded people on a mission to have community nursing recognised for the various, crucial roles available.