Two midwives from Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals have won one of the UK’s top prizes for their profession at the Royal College of Midwives’ annual awards.
Carolyn Garland and Alison Williams, who are specialist healthy lifestyle midwives, scooped the Philips AVENT Award for Innovation in Midwifery for their work to help pregnant women improve their eating habits and begin gentle exercise to enjoy a healthier pregnancy.
Carolyn and Alison were prompted into action by the high rates of pregnant women with weight management issues that are encountered by NHS staff in Doncaster, and the knowledge that services for the women were limited.
The pair were aware that clinical outcomes for women with a high body mass index were often worse than for women with a healthy body mass index.
Maternal obesity rates in Doncaster are nine per cent, a figure which is almost double the national average.
The service set up by Carolyn and Alison has been running for three years and bosses at the hospitals trust believe the results and the impact of their work are impressive.
Health chiefs say they have seen some significant results among the women using the service, including a fall in the numbers of Caesarean sections which have to be carried out among those taking part, and significantly improved breastfeeding rates, with more mothers initiating breastfeeding. They have also found those taking part in the scheme are typically breastfeeding for longer.
Plans are also in place to develop the service in the future, with ideas lined up including introducing text messaging support.
“We are really thrilled to receive this award,” said Carolyn. “Pregnancy is a time when women can experience a vast range of emotions and concerns, and this can include their body image and weight.
“Our work is about supporting them in a sensitive and non-judgemental way to make lifestyle changes that will enable their babies and them to enjoy a healthier pregnancy and the best possible start in life.”
Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, praised the health workers who had entered the awards.
She said: “The volume of entries and their quality this year was exceptional, so to win is a real achievement.
“As these winners demonstrate, amazing and innovative work is going on across the UK. These are midwives and teams pushing at the boundaries of practice to deliver a better service for women and their babies.”
The award, sponsored by Philips AVENT, was presented at the Royal College of Midwives Annual Midwifery Awards at a high profile ceremony, in London, which was hosted by Natasha Kaplinski.