By: 15 March 2019
Baby Lifeline launches national community midwives’ bags

Call the Midwife stars Linda Bassett and Leonie Elliott recently launched the trial of Baby Lifeline’s new standardised home delivery bag for community midwives.

Mother and baby charity Baby Lifeline provides ongoing training for maternity healthcare professionals, including midwives and paramedics who may attend births outside hospitals. Over the past two years Baby Lifeline has trained more than 1,000 community midwives across the UK. Its expert professionals of frontline midwives, paramedics and obstetricians came to realise that there was an urgent need to standardise equipment carried by midwives to births in the community, as well as the processes to keep the equipment and supplies up to date.

Baby Lifeline’s survey of frontline community midwives reported that 35 per cent of respondents had to buy their home birth bag themselves, 30 per cent felt the bag/container they used wasn’t safe, and 27 per cent felt that they don’t carry all the equipment they need. Significantly, 40 per cent said their bag didn’t meet all their needs.

Some midwives had to supply their own equipment and bags, while others had bags provided through their employer. Bags could range from plastic clinical waste bags holding a few bits and pieces, to a fully equipped tool chest, and midwives want to change this situation.

Baby Lifeline Founder and Chief Executive Judy Ledger said, “Baby Lifeline provides specialist emergency training to community midwives and paramedics. From the training provided, frontline community midwives reiterated the same thing that nationally, there is no standardisation in what equipment is carried to community births.

“Baby Lifeline believes that every woman who gives birth in the community, no matter where in the country she is, should have access to the same essential equipment through her midwife. Equally, every midwife should have access to the equipment needed to deliver safe and effective care. This is what we are working to achieve through this project.”

Judy continued, “We are working very closely with community midwifery teams from six NHS Trusts to trial Baby Lifeline approved bags to demonstrate the value of standardisation. What’s very important is that we’ve also developed the right processes to make sure the contents are replenished and kept up to date. Our dedicated health professionals have total confidence the trial will be a success, and they hope that other NHS Trusts across the country will adopt these bags.”

Starting in April, 42 of these bags will be trialled by frontline midwives in six UK trusts.

The Trusts taking part in the trial are: Barts Health NHS Trust; Hywel Dda University Health Board; Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust; Medway NHS Foundation Trust; North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, and partners City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust and South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust. The Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust was also part of the development team.

Our expert working group has developed a rucksack style bag with adjustable straps and optional wheels. It is compartmentalised and colour coded to make it easier to identify equipment quickly. The bag includes everything from scissors to cut the cord, to a hat and towels to dry and warm the newborn baby, as well as equipment for emergencies that, although rare, can occur.

The project is funded by Fawsley Birth Centre, a charity which promoted high standards of education in all matters affecting the ante natal, peri natal and post natal care of mothers and babies.