7 ways to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic as a birth professional

“Many professionals are morally conflicted, feeling incredibly torn by the decisions they’re being asked to make, and worried about returning home in fear that they might spread the virus to their loved ones.”

Dr Jan Smith, Clinical Lead at Make Birth Better

We hear you. We understand the enormous amounts of pressure you’re under. The Independent reports that ’the proportion of vacant midwife posts has doubled in the last three weeks as midwives are redeployed to care for people with Covid-19, fall sick themselves or are forced to self-isolate because of illness in their own households’. We are collecting data and insights to canvas opinion on the impact Covid-19 is having on the changes being made in maternity services choices available to birth professionals. Share with us how you are feeling, the changes you are experiencing and the support you have received by completing this quick survey.

From a midwife: Honestly work has been emotional, we have had communication short falls, personal protective equipment (PPE) concerns and staff deficits. But this last week has brought with it almost a sense of calm, things have changed as staff have become more familiar, adapting to a different way of doing things. Emotions are still high but everyone is making a conscious effort to care for each other. There is fear and uncertainty but there is also resilience, support and team work.”

Yes, times are extremely challenging, but there are some things that can enhance our capacity to cope. Here are our 7 top tips.

1. Connection

Connection is absolutely key right now. Consider opportunities to set up peer-to-peer support within your team or across your local NHS Trust. 

2. Sharing

See if there is a leader in your team who can provide short and regular reflection sessions where you can unload your concerns.

3. Solidarity

Perhaps you can think of small acts of collective care you could make to look after one another right now. Look at the Good Deed Feed on the NHS Intranet for example.

4. Support your mental wellbeing in the here and now

Rather than processing what is an incredibly challenging situation, what can you do to support your mental wellbeing in the here and now? This might include journaling, speaking to loved ones, brief meditation – anything which gives you a small chance to rest and reset. From the British Psychological Society: It’s hard to slow down all this knee-jerk reaction, but I truly think that systems need psychologically informed action, not psychological intervention, now. Upping access to counselling and psychotherapies is probably not the most prudent use of resources, it’s better that they support managers and systems to ‘contain’ distress, just as much as we are trying to contain the virus. We have to be very careful of encouraging emotional processing of trauma when right now people are not in safe spaces to do this – let’s think about principles of psychological first aid instead.”

5. Use helplines to offload

There are a number of helplines being run by mental health professionals including, so do reach out for support:

6. Use evidence-based and reliable resources

In the information overload try and not get overwhelmed by focusing on evidence-based and reliable resources:

  • Dr Jan Smith, Clinical Lead at Make Birth Better, has created a resource for individual staff wellbeing and fostering staff cohesion within teams. You can download it here.

  • For any changes on maternity services, see the new NHS England guidance.

  • A group of psychological trauma specialists, coordinators of the psychosocial response to trauma and wellbeing leads at NHS Trusts has put together evidence-based information and resources. You can find this information on The Trauma Group.

  • The British Psychological Society put together some useful tips, advice and links to articles that can be helpful in dealing with the effects of the pandemic.

  • Here is a video for NHS Staff on coping with stress.

  • During a period of lockdown where many of our basic freedoms have been limited, the autonomy and safety of pregnant women can easily be overlooked. BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health shared an article on Ensuring personalised care for pregnant women right now.

  • Kimberly Wilson, Chartered Psychologist, started #FlattenTheAnxietyCurve where she shares useful videos and tools on how to manage anxiety and uncertainty.

7. Join a support session

Here are two support sessions that we recommend if you are looking for a safe space where you can come together with other healthcare professionals.

  • The Association for Infant Mental Health UK (AIMH UK) are running online supervision for Health Visitors working on the frontline. This will be conducted in groups of around 5-6 practitioners, with one supervisor, for around an hour – you can contact via their website here.

  • At Make Birth Better, our Clinical Lead Dr Jan Smith is running weekly psychological support sessions for all NHS workers: “NHS staff are currently facing unprecedented demands, and potentially heightened stress levels. ‘In it Together’ is a free weekly wellbeing group, running for 1.5 hours over the next 4 weeks, for any NHS staff to come together.” This is a confidential and safe space for staff to ‘offload’ and learn some tips to manage their own wellbeing and stress levels during this time. It is not a reflective session.

Wednesday 15th April 5:00-6:30pm

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 964 117 557 Password: 050374

Friday 24th April 1:00-2:30pm

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 938 998 083

Password: 07033

© Make Birth Better CIC 2019

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