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Chantelle's Story

Chantelle is a 27-year-old practising midwife working for NHS Highlands. She qualified in 2020 having discovered midwifery after initially being a Healthcare Assistant in an Accident and Emergency department. Originally, Chantelle had planned to be a nurse, but after one shift on her access course in the Obstetrics Department – she was hooked, and sent off her application to study midwifery the following week.

Chantelle says: “I absolutely loved my first experience of midwifery and I knew straight away that this was something that I wanted to turn into a career, so I thought I’d go for it! I had my interview a couple of months later, and was offered a place to study that day –I was incredibly lucky.”

 

During her second year of training, Chantelle had a pregnant woman come into her hospital with no foetal movement, this experience shaped her interest and passion about bereavement care.  It was during this time that she started to research the topic and discovered the Beyond Bea Charity and attended one of its conference days. She says: “I found the conference day so inspirational, and started to think more about the value and importance of compassionate bereavement care. I followed Beyond Bea on their social media platforms and took an interest in their online conversations and guidance.”

She continues: “I was so moved by the Beyond Bea conference, by the speakers, the parents and the spirit of the event; it made me feel so privileged to be a midwife.  The phrase ‘you cannot take their pain away but you can make it easier for them to digest’ has stayed with me. I know by having Beyond Bea training, I am trying to give bereaved families the care they deserve from me.

During the pandemic Beyond Bea have been unable to hold in person conference days, instead, Chantelle has attended one of Beyond Bea’s free online study sessions.

Chantelle says: “The online study session really helped.  It made me stop and think about my words and my actions. It helped me to feel confident in delivering bad news, and to listen and explore a parent’s requests.  On a more practical level, I learnt how to create memory making opportunities including foot and hand prints and moulds.

The session is both clinical being led by a specialise midwife, and also compassionate as the training includes information and pictures from the founder of the charity, Steph and her daughter, Bea, who died at 23 weeks gestion.  Chantelle says: “Incorporating Bea’s story into the training, really brings what we learnt home, it’s so important that we remember that behind a bereaved parent is someone who was excited about the pregnancy and had already connected with their child.”

Chantelle continues: “Throughout my midwifery training there was a lack of any meaningful bereavement care available – I wasn’t made aware of what facilities and charities were available to a bereaved family, and what choices were open to that family to explore. Many bereaved families crave time with their baby and prior to my experience with Beyond Bea I didn’t know how to make that happen or how to help families make special memories. Before the Beyond Bea conference, I’d never even heard of a cuddle cot before.”

Chantelle has used her Beyond Bea training as an impetus to find our what options were available for families where she works, and plans to improve the bereavement suite/area facilities too. She is also now informed to confidently signpost families to relevant charities and support networks. 

“I strongly believe that bereavement care should be mandatory for all midwives and health care professionals, and that expert training should be refreshed every year, just as other key clinical skills are. I personally feel secure in looking after a bereaved family, and when I have done so, know that I have looked after them in the appropriate and best way possible.

“It’s so important that we can help families dealing with a bereavement to make this negative experience as positive as we can.”

 

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