In anticipation of the Lola&Lykke Female Changemaker Podcast series and the International day of the midwife, both celebrated on 5th of May, Laura and Maana got the change to sit down, virtually of course, with the Modern Midwife Marie Louise. The three spoke about education, hypnobirthing, and mental health during a global pandemic among many other things. Keep reading for a sneak peak into the podcast!
Who is Modern Midwife Marie Louise?
Marie Louise (the_modern_midwife) is an NHS midwife, with over a decade’s worth of experience of midwifery. She is also an educator, author, advisor on the UK TV and radio, a true maternal health champion, as well as a new mum.
When asked what the moniker Modern Midwife meant, she told us:
“A modern midwife is making sure that you are always understanding the evolving population and understanding women’s needs by being up-to-date and being part of a community of other modern midwifes. So, for example, I started an event called Modern Midwives Meetups, with the point to bring together as many birth experts as possible, so that we could all share best practice. And so that we can all talk about, “Okay, what can we do to make a collective difference”. Because me by myself, I’m going to make a difference, you know, doing what I have done like recoding an online series and talking to other birth experts and practitioners. But understanding that we can all be collective modern midwives, and modern birth experts, I think that is really important. So although I call myself a Modern Midwife, that is not exclusive to me.”
Marie is a known face to those already subscribed to the Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond series where she is joined by Lola&Lykke’s maternity experts on a journey taking you through what to expect from each pregnancy stage and giving you tips and useful tools to manage symptoms and situations aiming to equip you with the knowledge and confidence to approach birth without fear and to help you navigate the first few weeks as a new parent.
Read more and join the Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond series!
Marie is also a mum and she has personal experience giving birth during the pandemic. Her baby girl was born last year in the middle of lockdowns and collective uncertainty, and her first pregnancy and birth experience was heavily impacted by Covid-19 rules and resource allocations. However, being able to find comfort through her profession made her able to rationalise the restrictive regulations and lacking resources.
”As a mum, I was quite disappointed at times about the lack of input my partner was able to have I suppose because he was unable to attend my scans and for me, that was quite disappointing. I understand the thinking, the reasoning, and the structure that was put in place to protect our NHS, I get that, as I am an NHS midwife, but I can’t act like I wasn’t upset by that because it affected me personally. Not having him there at the scans, you know, 20-week scan I was sat in the waiting room and I was nervous. This is the first time as a mum that I had been pregnant before.”
“As a midwife, I always had an idea what my own pregnancy was going to be like. But of course it didn’t happen like that; the pandemic happened and that massively threw me off. But knowing I wasn’t going to go to my 34-week appointment, I knew how to monitor my baby, I knew what my body was doing, I knew when I should ask for help and when I should ask for support. All of those things were massively beneficial. I also understood a little bit more about Covid and I wasn’t overly concerned by it because I had access to the evidence, latest information, because I was being provided that by my workplace. So, I was able to read up on the latest information. Because we were then giving that information to women. That was very helpful in one way. In a massive way actually, but still, it wasn’t easy.”
Mental Wellbeing in Motherhood
Mums’ mental wellbeing is close to Marie’s heart and her mission is to have positive impact on maternity. Both points Laura, myself and our whole Lola&Lykke team can agree on, as the beginning of our small business was heavily impacted by the wish for a holistic space where you could get information, education, and physical equipment to help you through the early stages of pregnancy all the way to complete postnatal recovery.
Regarding the ambition for a holistic platform, Marie wanted to share how the Lola&Lykke Core Relief Pregnancy Support Belt helped her.
“The first time I put it on my boyfriend was like ‘Are you okay??’ because I just went uuuhmm in content. I was more than okay; it was life changing. Understanding pregnancy does not make you exempt from its’ symptoms, so the weight of Georgie was taking over my pelvis. I kind of thought I knew all about pregnancy, I’ll manage it – No, actually the pregnancy support band helped me manage that!”
When Laura asked Marie what the one thing was that new mums should do to support their mental wellbeing, her answer was clear:
“First and foremost is checking in with yourself and looking at how you really feel. A lot of the time in this day and age we are rushing, you know, …, everything is about very fast pace in our lives. I think that we need to slow down during pregnancy, and we need to check in with ourselves properly rather than pushing those feelings aside.
If there’s ever a time in your life when you gonna look after yourself properly, it’s during pregnancy because – and postnatally – because by looking after yourself you are looking after the baby. And a lot of the time you think oh, the baby is fine, whether that’s during pregnancy or after birth, everything must be fine. No, actually, your needs matter and you need to be able to sustain what you are doing and that’s really important.”
So for all you new and experienced mums out there, take note of the following.
Have a daily head to toe: think about how you are actually feeling and let yourself think about them. Are they emotions or physical sensations? Are you getting headaches? Do you drink enough water? Drinking enough, according to Marie, is such an overlooked thing. so simple, yet it can reduce may unwelcome pregnancy symptoms, even leading up to the birth. Notice your needs.
Learn more: Your comprehensive and FREE Mental Wellness e-guide
Thinking Positively Going Forward
The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic will likely be visible in maternity care for some time. While maternity care pathways were heavily effected, there may be something positive growing from the sudden pull away from the traditional.
Maybe, just maybe, it’s allowing women to become more central in their maternity care.
Limited services, such as appointments, are clearly coming back. Home births were put on hold due to lacking ambulance capacity; one way to ensure a safe home birth is the quick transportation to a hospital should the situation require it. And, in Marie’s words, “that is extremely rare”.
But other things are worth considering, too. Marie recorded the Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond series. Women have learnt, through an incredibly hard way, how being aware of their options is a good thing, and how knowing what to expect can make all the difference. Some women have monitored their own blood pressure, and taking away the hassle of rushing to hospital, finding parking, finding the room, it can be quite comfortable to do that in your own house in your own time.
“I’ve heard of one hospital where women are asked How do you think your baby is growing? and that is a question we don’t traditionally ask because we would measure the size of the uterus. And that gives women more space, it empowers them to actually think for themselves – and of course women think for themselves but sometimes when you have a tape measure out and you are telling the woman your bump is actually too small or big… We would focus on the tape measure. And now we are engaging differently and relying on them [the women] to know what’s going on with their bodies, with their pregnancy.”
Tune in on May 5th for the launching of Lola&Lykke’s Female Changemakers Podcast series, on your preferred podcast platform. Follow us on Instagram to be the first to hear about the podcast launch!
*The Female Changemakers series is dedicated to individuals whose professional and personal passions have driven them to do something extraordinary, bringing sustainable positive change to women’s wellbeing. In the course of the series, our Co-founder Laura McGrath will be talking to amazing women´s health experts, professionals and parents who have gone out of their way to accelerate change and create a positive impact around them.