How tragedy motivated USW midwifery student to help others

When Myscha-Dene Bates’ daughter Bobi was born stillborn 36 weeks into her pregnancy, it was obviously a heartbreaking time.

But the loss of the little girl, in June 2010, proved to be a huge part of Myscha’s life that has seen her create positivity from a personal tragedy.

In the months to follow Bobi’s birth, Myscha, who is now 28, and her fiance Damian, now 31 established the Bobi-phiel Memorial Fund, to fundraise locally and support bereavement services within maternity care. The funds raised helped to maintain a bereavement suite and an infants’ memorial garden.

In May 2011, Myscha’s second daughter Phoenix was born ­– an event that gave her the inspiration to move into healthcare.

"It was coming the full circle and experiencing both ends of the spectrum of pregnancy and birth –  from huge tragedy to immense joy at the safe arrival of Phoenix – that created my passion for a new career,” she explained.

"Despite already running a successful photography business, I decided that I wanted to study to become a midwife."

It was a role that Myscha had always been interested in.

"I loved caring for people from when I was a child. I am the eldest of six children, and without consciously knowing it when I was young, I wanted to be a midwife. I was always interested in pregnancy and birth as my mother went through it,” she said.

"Having been through two very different life-changing experiences when becoming a mother, I felt I had an appreciation of the diverse, challenging, yet rewarding, role of a midwife, as I feel it is important to have a realistic view of Midwifery when applying and training. In 2014 I began training to become a registered midwife."

National recognition for Myscha

Now in the final year of the Midwifery degree, Myscha’s efforts to raise awareness of infant loss have gained national recognition.

At the National Infant Loss Conference in March 10, Myscha was presented with ‘The Foundation of Infant Loss: Student Midwife of the Year 2017’ award, which honours an ‘A student midwife who has demonstrated a commitment to raising levels of bereavement care in maternity services following a pregnancy or infant loss’.

More recently, a poster on fetal movements, designed as part of her course, is being used by health boards across the UK and beyond.

Myscha produced the poster to dispel myths commonly heard about babies’ movements in pregnancy, to help encourage pregnant women to monitor their unborn baby’s movements, and to contact their midwife or local maternity unit if they notice any changes.

"There is literature available on the subject of fetal movement, but it can be quite wordy and lengthy, so these often just get put into a handbag, never to be read again – I wanted this to be different.

"I had a clear vision of how I wanted my poster to look; as if the messages were coming from the baby to the mother.

"But more importantly, I wanted it to give clear information about what is and isn’t normal when it comes to fetal movements. Many women continue to act on information from non-evidence based sources, or age-old myths such as ‘babies move less in the third trimester’, which is just not accurate. This can prevent them from seeking help quickly enough, or even at all.

"Many women also continue to use fetal dopplers at home as a method of reassurance when they feel baby’s movements have altered, but these can give false hope when they pick up a heartbeat, and are not advocated by midwives. I feel it is our responsibility as midwives to make every effort to dispel myths such as this, which is why I created Make My Movements Matter, to encourage women and midwives to work together to bridge that gap."

Poster is being used and shared internationally 

Myscha recently shared her poster on social media and has been overwhelmed by the huge response it has had from midwives, clinicians, pregnant women and mums across the UK and even as far as Australia.

As well as being adopted by midwives at Cwm Taf University Health Board, the poster will be used by one of the UK’s largest NHS trusts in London and others across the country. One post from Ellie Durant via Facebook received 616 shares in 48 hours!

It has also been backed by fetal medicine consultant Dr Bryan Beattie from Innermost Learning, a charity dedicated to supporting students and midwives in improving education in women’s health and pregnancy care.

The poster has received positive feedback and support via Twitter by Public Health Wales, which leads the Safer Pregnancy Campaign, and the Royal College of Midwives.

Myscha added: “I put my heart and soul into the poster. I love being creative and looking for ways I can make positive changes for the benefit of women and families, but never did I expect it to go anywhere beyond my course tutor, except in a folder on my desktop.

"The fact that it has been used and shared globally by so many people has been incredible. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to make a difference to one aspect of midwifery care that I am especially passionate about."