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Julia’s Story – Becoming a Parent Rep

Our co-chair Julia discusses why she wanted to become a parent rep with the Leeds MVP, and shares her experiences of her first Walking the Patch.

Becoming a Parent Rep

Ever since I can remember, I have always been interested in maternity and babies. In hindsight, I probably should have followed a career path in Midwifery, but I’m not sure if I could have handled the shift work, blood and gore! However, I am highly passionate about anything to do with pregnancy, birth and babies. When I became pregnant myself, I loved the pregnancy journey that myself and my partner were on. We were on a rollercoaster journey filled with excitement and anxiety. Any of the antenatal and postnatal appointments that I had, whether they were in the community or at the hospital, I was always in awe of the work that the team did and the care and support that they gave me.

When I heard about Leeds Maternity Voice Partnership and the fantastic work that they do, I knew that I really wanted to get involved. Being able to be a Parent Rep and work alongside the maternity team and service users, to help improvement maternity services in Leeds, is a great privilege. Being pregnant and having a baby is a different experience for everyone and not everyone’s journey is easy and enjoyable. If I can help improve that experience and care and make Leeds a great place for women to have their babies, it would be a great achievement for me and very rewarding.

Walking the Patch

A few weeks ago I got the fantastic opportunity to walk the patch at St James’ hospital. We were on the antenatal ward, talking to parents waiting to be induced. Walking the patch gave me insight into some of the experiences that women have encountered during their pregnancy and their thoughts on their impending induction. We asked the parents-to-be questions around the induction process: had they been briefed? were they given a leaflet explaining the process? how they were feeling? and whether Dads/birth partners would want to stay overnight during the induction process?

The feedback was mixed, with some ladies feeling informed and understanding the process, and others feeling like they needed more time spent with them explaining what was going to happen. All of the Dads and birthing partners said that they would like to have been able to stay overnight with their partner if they could have. Some ladies that we spoke to appeared quite calm and relaxed, whereas others were quite distressed, concerned and worried. It definitely confirmed to me that every woman is different, every pregnancy is different and the needs and wants for each woman need to be available and customised to their own situation. That’s why the work that Leeds Maternity Voice Partnership does is so important, as it can help every woman in Leeds be able to get the support, care, birth and pregnancy that they need or want.

Being back on the maternity ward where I had my children and going into one of the rooms where I started my labour with my second child, gave me a buzz of excitement and all of those emotions that I was feeling when I was in labour came flooding back to me. I suddenly found myself being able to empathise with those ladies on how they were currently feeling, but I knew that they were in great hands with the midwives at St James’.

After walking the patch, we headed off to a team meeting to feedback to the maternity team the research that we had gathered off the ward. Walking into that meeting room, which was filled with the maternity team, made me gasp at just how many people there were in there. I couldn’t believe how many senior maternity team members there were, but it was great having them all there to be able to listen to our feedback. All of our comments were taken onboard and it was great to be able to hopefully make a difference in supporting women and help improve the care and support that they receive during pregnancy and postnatally across Leeds.