Cathy Warwick: Welcoming Remarks
North of England Breech Conference, Sheffield
Cathy Warwick CBE is the Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives. She opened the North of England Breech Conference with three key points:
1) The policy direction across the UK is embracing personalization of care and maternal choice. This conference is just absolutely critical in terms of personalization. We’ve got a long way to go in fully personalizing maternity care. Of course many people do it brilliantly. But many midwives and doctors think that they do it; however, a lot of what they offer to women is very driven by the needs of their institution or by professional agendas. We don’t really listen properly to what women want and to what they believe is safe for them. We’ve got to think long and hard about what personalized care really means.
She is on a personal mission to eliminate the phrase “women who birth outside of guidelines.” She hates that terminology! When we use that phrase, we put women into a box and say “they’re weird, they’re not normal.” We should stop doing that from this minute onward. [Audience applause] Women are trustworthy and can make their own choices. They are not mad, even if they want things she might not choose.
2) This conference is important in terms of education. We’re often not well-equipped to deliver personalized care. Most midwives and many OBs haven’t seen a vaginal breech birth in their training or practice. So it’s difficult for midwives and OBs to personalize care when they don’t know how to do it well and safely. Lack of education leads to fear, and fear leads to lack of personalization. Hats off to the Sheffield breech team for organizing this conference and for helping to educate all of us to be able to give women the care they deserve.
3) She really admires the multidisciplinary approach at this conference. For a long time there have been individual midwives doing breech births who felt isolated and unsupported. If we work together—midwives and OBs—we are much more able to deliver the care that women really want. When she was working at Kings College Hospital in southeast London, she helped establish a home birth service comprised of ten small teams of midwives. The thing that made her proudest was when the OBs began talking about “our” home birth service. We need to all work together if we’re going to make sure women get the most personalized care.