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RCM honours top midwives

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The Royal College of Midwives annual awards have honoured the makers of an educational DVD to help treat women that have undergone genetic mutilation and an initiative that has improved home birthing rates in Bradford.

At the eighth annual ceremony, held in London on 19 January, consultant midwife Yana Richens and consultant gynaecologist Sarah Creighton won the Award for Excellence in Initiatives in Public Health.

They developed a DVD on how to perform a deinfibulation – opening up the scar tissue to restore the normal vaginal opening – on women who have undergone genetic mutilation, which the Royal College of Obstetricians wants to use as part of its programme for doctors.

The award entry said: “The nature of female genital mutilation is still little understood; particularly in the long term morbidities (life expectancy) associated to women (who) have had this done to them. Raising public awareness and marrying a clinical message with a public health message which can be understood by all is an incredibly innovative way to address a complex problem.”

Ms Richens said she felt “passionately about highlighting the issue of health inequalities for non-English speaking women”.

“Female genital mutilation ruins many women’s lives and can cause severe gynaecological and obstetric problems,” she added.

Bradford widwives Alison Brown and Deborah Hughes won the Bounty Award for Promoting Natural Birth for a series of workshops they ran in the region on home births. These included discussions about the practical aspects of home birthing and offered advice to prospective mums, dads and partners.

The city’s rate of home birth in 2007 was 0.5%, compared with the national average of 3%. By September 2010, this had risen to 2%.

Ms Brown said: “We spend time in the sessions discussing coping strategies for labour and birth at home, including the use of water, and the ways in which midwives can work in partnership with mothers to help them achieve the births they hope.”

Also honoured were midwives from the Abertawe BroMorgannwg University Hospital Health Board in Wales for their promotion of breastfeeding. They worked with mothers to set up a charitable trust that covers South Wales’ valleys and coasts. The trust has set up eight peer support groups and trained 75 peer supporters.

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