Grumpy Midwife is ridiculously proud to announce the birth, after a 12 month gestation, of a brand new smartphone app for midwives, obstetricians, maternity support staff, midwifery and medical students. Funded by a grant from NHS Thames Valley Health Education Midwifery Fund and imaginatively entitled Childbirth Emergencies, the app gives step-by-step management of the Big Five of obstetric emergencies – plus sepsis. There is also a nice little section on support of women and their families and staff caught up in traumatic events. It’s available totally FREE to download from the Apple App Store (and, no, sorry, there are no immediate plans for an Android version; the money has run out). Follow @MidwifeApp on Twitter to find out more or just search “childbirth emergencies’ in the App Store.
Grumpy Midwife hopes that her baby will now make it’s own way in the world, spreading enlightenment, giving encouragement, empowering maternity care staff everywhere (although written for the UK, the content is pretty ecumenical). In the meantime, she would like to use this blog to do what all good midwives do: reflect on the experience and draw out some pertinent learning points. (In doing so, GM has, of course, blown her cover since her real name is all over the app – although it was only ever two clicks on this site away for observant readers.)
First: Working on this app has made Grumpy Midwife appreciate the maternity services: the infrastructure; availability of basic drugs and equipment; opportunities to train; expectations of cure; the knowledge that help will come running when we press that emergency call bell. Others who care for mothers and babies across the world are not so lucky.
Second: Grumpy Midwife didn’t think she would ever say this but communication in the NHS is easy. We speak a common language, based on culture and shared history, sprinkled with jargon, abbreviations, and innuendo. We laugh at things that gross other people, know our place in the hierarchy, act according to expectations. Talking to normal people is hard work, littered with potential for misunderstanding and confusion.
Third: The NHS does not have a monopoly on working hard or long hours. Grumpy Midwife’s early morning texts and nocturnal emails to her app developers were frequently responded to by return. Nor are we the only ones stressed by exacting bosses and moving goalposts. We in the NHS may feel daily dealings with life and death set us apart on some sort of moral high ground but the work of others is equally valid and life-affirming. We are fortunate to do work we love but not special or entitled in any way.
Fourth: Engaging other professionals to check content is necessary and reassuring and Grumpy Midwife is eternally grateful for all the suggestions, corrections, and requests for clarification. But there comes a point when one starts going round in circles trying to please everyone, endlessly referring and deferring. Teamwork is all very well but someone eventually has to take control, accept responsibility, and move things forward.
Fifth: In the last few days of this project, after a week of immersion in haemorrhage, sepsis, and ruptured organs, one of the techies told Grumpy Midwife of his impending marriage. Screens of coding quite suddenly took on a human dimension and GM was reminded how childbirth touches all of us.
Six: There is never an easy way to start talking about vaginas and buttocks and perineums to young men half your age.
Seven: Apple Macs really are things of great beauty and extraordinary function.
And finally, on the wall of the meeting room at at the app developers is a framed poster, in the style of vintage ‘keep calm’ notices. This one instructs employees to “Work hard and be kind to each other”. Nuff said.