I’m working on an exciting new project called ‘Better Births’ which aims to improve maternity services in England. I’m one of fifteen mums in north-central London who have been recruited to find out what women and families need and want from antenatal, birth, and postnatal care.
I’m working as part of the Haringey team and we need to talk to a range of people in the local community to gather their views and suggestions. We’ve been trained in participatory action research methods in order to engage with parents in a dynamic and interactive way and to hear their voice, stories, and opinions more directly.
So far, it’s been a fascinating project to be involved in. The group of fifteen mums alone are an inspiring and powerful group of women to be working alongside. We all have such diverse and different backgrounds, vary in age and ethnicity, speak multiple languages, and have children of all ages. The one thing we all have in common is that we gave birth in one of the hospitals covered in the north-central London Better Births remit. Hearing their birth stories and journey into motherhood has been a fascinating and eye-opening experience in itself.
Out in the field, it’s been just as fascinating. It’s been a privilege to hear parents talk about one of the most life-transforming moments of their life. It’s also very hard to hear about traumatic experiences, when events didn’t go to plan, or when mums have been discriminated against or mistreated in some way. But it’s good to know this is exactly what the research aims to address and that the data we gather will help tackle these issues.
The project is a perfect match of my research background, interest in motherhood, and keenness to engage with the local community. It’s great to be working on a project where the commissioners are eager to hear the data and feedback (almost in real time) and want to implement change, which will ultimately have a positive impact on one of the most memorable moments in a person’s life. It’s a refreshing contrast to the constraints of academia where the research takes years to be printed, is behind an expensive paywall, that nobody reads or engages with. I look forward to seeing how the next few months unfold and where the project goes.