Amanda Cushing – Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust Bereavement Support Midwife.
I am massively honoured to have been nominated for The Butterfly Awards – Bereavement worker category among some really wonderful people. Thank you to the lovely family who nominated me, your kind words have meant so much and your little girl will always be remembered by all of us who were lucky enough to meet her.
I have been a midwife since 2000 and bereavement support midwife since 2011 at Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
Being a midwife has always been a real privilege, we are let into families lives to support them on their most important and special day. I knew I wanted to be a midwife as soon as I entered the labour ward during my placement on the maternity unit as a student nurse, I was struck by what an amazing job this was. After finishing my nursing diploma I applied for midwifery training and in August 2000 qualified as a midwife.
I was right, it is a truly amazing job, we as midwives are hugely privileged to care for families at such a special and sacred time as the birth of their baby – both in the best and worst of times. It struck me very early on how we as midwives can make a difference in the care we give, that it should be safe, and given with empathy to their own individual needs. I worked as part of the labour ward high risk midwifery team, then as a labour ward coordinator, starting my current post as bereavement support midwife in July 2011.
It is really important to me that we all work to make a difference when a family are going through the saddest of times and I have worked hard over my six years in the role to strive for the best care possible for our bereaved parents, part of my job is to offer training to other health professionals to help them gain insight, grow in empathy and confidence when caring for a family during a devastating time. We only have limited time and once chance to do as well as we can to support the family in caring for their baby and it is so important we get things done in direct response to the families needs. We aim to see every family as the individuals they are, ensure that that they have all of the information they need are able to make the choices that are right for them, and to work to get these done for the family.
I spend time helping parents and supporting other team members to help parents collect memories of their little one, taking hand and foot prints, clay impressions and clay plaques and look further afield to source as many beautiful memory items as possible to offer to families, so they have memories to treasure of their little one, as they face the difficult times ahead.
Once the family have gone home from hospital I am happy to see them for listening visits, to answer any questions and concerns, organise any extra photos or visits or further tests and referrals as necessary and I provide a telephone contact service where the family are free to contact me by phone or text at any time. This support extends into their next pregnancy should they find this helpful, and I am always happy to answer a call or text and help set someone’s mind at rest. Another important part of my role is working towards reducing the number of baby’s deaths and I work as part of the team to report cases of baby loss to MBRRACE UK and work with our MDT to reflect on situations, learn if we can from care given and to help improve our service and reduce the risk of a family going through such devastating loss.
No midwife is an island, and there are so many people who help and support me as part of our multidisciplinary team that deserve to be acknowledged for their hard work and commitment look after our families, our maternity unit team, mortuary APT, medical photographers who take beautiful photographs and process the photos we as midwives take out of hours.
I would also love to acknowledge the help I receive from families who have sadly been through bereavement and have wanted to help others in their time of grief, from those who have started support services and memory making packages, supplying us with unique bespoke items for babies and those who have given us gifts such as our cold cots, moses baskets, memory items pictures and furniture. Our Butterfly Suite would have nothing without you all and I can never thank you enough for helping me to make it such a beautiful sacred place. I have help from so many wonderful baby loss advocates and charities, some of who I am honoured to stand alongside in the nominations for The Butterfly Awards. You are all such kind and beautiful people and I am so honoured to stand alongside you all.
Thank you for reading my profile. I wish all of you the very best.
What Others Had To Say
She makes us feel like we are the only people she has to care for. I know she also volunteers for bereavement counselling. How she does it I really don’t know – she must have been cloned!!! She is an amazing, amazing person, who has brought light where there is darkness.
Her first few visits were over 3 hours. She has endless time for us and never rushes us. Every question she answers by researching, emailing experts or just passes on the info we have needed.
She went to see our baby girl at the weekend, after her post mortem, so she could tell us if she still looked ok before we saw her. Whilst there she took additional handprints and photos for us