I’m an Ambassador for MAMA Academy

I’m hugely honored to have been invited to be a blogger and ambassador for MAMA Academy; a website and online academy dedicated to being positive about pregnancy and supporting mums and midwives to help babies arrive safely.

MAMA Academy was founded in 2012 by Heidi Eldridge, who is also the current chairman. In May 2009 Heidi was pregnant with her first baby and delighted to be pregnant. Aside from developing gestational diabetes she was fit and healthy and the pregnancy was progressing well for Mum and baby. But at a routine appointment at 36 weeks, everything changed for Heidi when the midwife was unable to find her baby’s heartbeat .

Aidan James Eldridge was born still on the 15th May 2009 weighing just over 5lb. His death is marked as “unexplained” on the post mortem results but it is thought that Heidi’s placenta had stopped working and this is why her baby had unexpectedly died. Heidi’s life was completely turned upside down with the loss of her son and she had no idea that babies were still dying in the UK, or how common it is.

Since Aidan’s death in 2009 Heidi has been blessed with two children; a little boy called Tobiah (meaning Goodness of God) born in 2010 and a little girl called Tilly born in 2013.

After losing Aidan, Heidi attended various meetings run by SANDS (the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death charity) where she noticed that many mums were receiving inconsistent advice from their healthcare team. After a lot of research she got in touch with her local hospitals to present my findings at their MSLC (Maternity Service Liaison Committee) meetings where she learnt of the true value of midwives, and that they need support and access to new information, just as much as expectant mums do.

This led her to set up MAMA Academy, whose main aim is to help decrease the numbers of babies dying from preventable causes. MAMA Academy intends to achieve this by educating mums and midwives as to how to have a healthy pregnancy, the warning signs that mean something might be wrong and how to access the best help and support.

The MAMA Academy team includes a wide range of healthcare professionals such as doctors, midwives, bereavement counsellors and researchers. The team also includes parents who had little or no experience of healthcare until they had their own babies. Like Heidi, some of these parents have lost their own children whereas others have had different experiences that have prompted them to help improve maternity services in this country.

The team is supported by a wide range of partners including The Royal College of Midwives, NHS England, SANDS, Group B Strep Support and many more. They are also supported by CBeebies Presenter Katy Ashworth and paediatrician Dr. Ranj Singh who can be seen on ITV’s ‘This Morning’ as their health expert and also on CBeebies ‘Get Well Soon.’

I’ve been in contact with Jenny Hicken, the MAMA Academy General Manager who joined the team after he son Joe was induced in September 2010 at 37 weeks gestation due to Jenny having developed pre-eclampsia. Joe was tiny, weighing just 5lb 9oz but was otherwise healthy and Jenny’s experience prompted her to join the MAMA Academy team in 2014. Jenny has recently welcomed baby number two to the family so many congratulations to her on her baby’s safe arrival.

Jenny gave me a more in-depth introduction to MAMA Academy; a UK registered charity helping babies arrive safely by promoting positive pregnancy.MAMA Academy aims educate expectant mums on how to keep healthy and when they should call their midwife for advice. They also support midwives by keeping them up to date with current guidelines and research to aid consistent maternity care. All our information is written and approved by our team of medical professionals and is accredited by The Royal College of Midwives.

The MAMA Academy website features a huge number of clearly signposted resources for both mums and midwives, including topics such as pregnancy conditions, labour and pain relief, antenatal and postnatal depression, baby loss, bereavement support, group B strep and hyperemesis gravidarum. There is also a wonderful section where new mums can write a testamonial to thank their midwife and a lovely photo gallery of the babies born to MAMA Academy ‘graduates.’

Currently, MAMA Academy has several active projects aimed at improving maternity care and education. These include their Made to Measure campaign, which aims to save 1000 babies’ lives every year by calling on all UK hospital trusts to adopt the Perinatal Institute’s GAP programme. GAP uses customised growth charts alongside a package of training and support to better detect growth restricted babies, a key risk factor for stillbirth.

Their other big project is their Wellbeing Wallets, which  are designed to keep antenatal notes safe and are printed with important educational messages for a healthy pregnancy. The advice is regularly read whilst mums wait for appointments in antenatal clinics which should hopefully make the knowledge second nature. The wallets also help midwives start conversations with mums on vital pregnancy topics such as monitoring babies’ movements. MAMA Academy are working closely with NHS England to provide our wallets to ALL trusts so that they can give them  to mums at their booking appointment.

As a MAMA Academy blogger and ambassador I will be helping to spread awareness of important messages that MAMA Academy is trying to share, championing their aims of promoting healthy pregnancies and reducing baby loss. In the future I’ll be sharing news and stories from MAMA Academy through social media as well as having posts featured on their website. Some of these posts will be written especially for MAMA Academy in response to current media issues or new campaigns but I’ll also be sharing existing blog posts with them which we feel would be of benefit to mums and midwives.

As a neonatal nurse and mum myself these issues are hugely important to me and I am proud to be using my blog and social media presence to hopefully help raise the profile of MAMA Academy and encourage others to lend their support. MAMA Academy is a relatively new charity and is very much in need of funding to help develop our resources for both mums and midwives, including antenatal education for parents and training materials for health professionals. As one of a whole team of bloggers and ambassadors we all aim to use our blogs to bring MAMA Academy into the public consciousness and to recruit more fundraisers to aid their work.

For more information and to view the complete list of resources available for mums and midwives you can visit the MAMA Academy website at http://www.mamaacademy.org.uk

MAMA Academy is also on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/MAMAAcademy) and you can tweet them @MAMAAcademy using the hashtags #PositivePregnancy  #TeamMAMA or #MAMAKnowsBest

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Louise is a full time mum and a part time neonatal nurse who has battled depression for many years but particularly during her pregnancy. She lives with her husband (the Northern One) their little boy (Squidge) and their three guinea pigs who live in the kitchen.

Louise blogs at 23weeksocks (http://23weeksocks.com) about lots of different (and seemingly unconnected) topics that she’s passionate about, including mental health, antenatal depression, neonatal care and baby loss.

In 2015 she was shortlisted in the ‘Fresh Voice’ category for the BIB (Brilliance in Blogging) Awards and the ‘Bereavement Worker’ category for the Butterfly Awards. She was also one of the keynote speakers at BritMums Live reading’Twinkle Twinkle’ which was her account of caring for a premature baby on the day that he died.

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