#Matexp – Improving maternity services for women and their families.

We hope that Collaboration for Children members will share updates, ideas and information through this blog. This first blog post was written by Collaboration for Children member Emma Sasaru

Imagine, a consultant, a midwife, a doula, a support worker, a commissioner, a campaigner and a mother all coming together to help support and improve maternity services for all women and their families. This is the foundations of #MatExp: By working together these people are building a powerful social movement for change

Why?

The maternity experience a woman has can stay with her, and her family, for life. All women and their families should receive consistently good maternity care and the best support before, during and after birth as they adjust to parenthood or a growing family

Sadly, at the moment, women can feel disempowered, and some say that they are not treated with dignity and respect. The standard of care we see in our maternity units needs to improve.

To do this we must all work together: staff and service users, men and women. We all want women and families to be supported in their choices and have the best possible care. We owe it to women and their families to make a change.

#MatExp is bring people across the country together to improve families’ experiences, through identifying and sharing best practice across the nation’s maternity services.

It is focussed on real people, real families and real lives; on hearing the voices of women and families; on promoting dignity and respect and on driving action. Maybe each person can only make small changes, but when they all join up together that means big changes for women, for families, for us all.

What?

#MatExp is a wonderful grassroots campaign using the Whose Shoes?® approach to help to improve our maternity services. Workshops in local hospitals enable users of maternity services to discuss their experiences of maternity care, share what really made a difference to their experience and talk about ways that care can be improved. These workshops enable health care professionals and local communities to listen and work in partnership with women and their families to find ways to improve local and national maternity services. Anyone can take part: parents, local charities, community groups and NHS staff – from chief executive to volunteer – all are welcome to attend and share.

MatExp has also taken off on Twitter. Many amazing people are using the hashtag #MatExp to tell personal stories, share experiences and achievements, and explain the ways they are actively trying to improve care. People from across the country, of different backgrounds have also been sharing their thoughts and experiences on the Matexp facebook group.

How?

June has been a busy month for #MatExp and a great example of what the campaign can achieve:

During #FlamingJune, everyone was asked to share the things they are doing to improve maternity experiences on the Matexp facebook page, using the twitter hashtag #Matexp or on the Matexp website. Four key ideas emerged:

  • Many people said they would LISTEN more to women. This shows how important this simple action alone is in pregnancy, during birth and afterwards.
  • Many spoke of how they would ADVOCATE for women and families through blogs, campaigns, working with local maternity liaison service committees or simply voicing their own experience.
  • Another theme CHOICE. This included campaigning for choice, making sure women are aware of and given choices, and that their choices are listened to and respected.
  • Finally, there were many amazing ideas and actions about how best to SUPPORT, families. This included support for breastfeeding, for families with babies in NNU or on paediatric wards, for those with perinatal mental health problems, and for families that have lost their precious babies.

June also saw us celebrate father’s day and the importance of dads to families. We saw beautiful pictures on the Matexp facebook page of dads doing skin to skin, holding, playing and loving their families. It was so moving, and truly showed how valuable they are to the wellbeing of families.

It was also #celebratebreastfeeding week in June. Again we saw amazing pictures and comments of the good support that families have had, but also many posts on the lack of support for many families. With many areas finding cuts are being made to breastfeeding support it is a timely reminder that feeding support is part of a good maternity experience.

#FlamingJune also saw the release of the first – we hope of many –  videos on Matexp.

Finally, this month we saw the first #Matexp workshop to be held outside of  London- hopefully the first of many workshops all over the UK.

What next?

Everyone is warmly invited to get involved to get involved in #MatExp– whoever you are!

Taking part is really easy. You might:

  1. Join the Twitter conversation, using the #MatExp hashtag
  2. Tell us about the actions you are making to improve maternity experiences.
  3. Watch a #MatExp video on Youtube
  4. Chose one of the eight #MatExp actions or make and add an action of your own!

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