Student midwives add to support for Leicester families

A student-led project to support expectant Leicester mothers has been given a funding boost in celebration of International Day of the Midwife.

Midwifery students, supported by School of Healthcare lecturers and clinicians, will host free antenatal classes for women and birthing people in Leicester and Leicestershire, following a grant from The Iolanthe Midwifery Trust awarded today (Thursday).

Classes will be targeted at pregnant people and their partners in the second and third trimester of pregnancy, and follow the establishment of a successful Infant Feeding Café on the University campus.

Studies show that antenatal classes are key to improving outcomes from pregnancy such as increased breastfeeding rates: women attending antenatal classes are 50% less likely to artificial feed, and also have a lower risk of requiring delivery by caesarean section.

The project is spearheaded by Sophie Rayner, a second-year student midwife at the University of Leicester. She said: “The genesis of the project came when discussing breastfeeding, and the lack of accessible antenatal education currently available to service users regarding feeding and all other aspects of birth and parenthood.

“We already have an established Infant Feeding Cafe so I asked my lecturer why we couldn’t do a similar thing with antenatal classes. Her reply was ‘write a business plan!’ and so it began. The Iolanthe Awards offer funding to midwives and student midwives for various projects, so we decided to apply for a grant.

“I feel so grateful that they deem this a worthy enough cause to fund. Not only do we hope this will bring confidence and empowerment to women and birthing people in Leicester and Leicestershire, but give an extra opportunity for the students running the classes to develop leadership skills and knowledge through teaching.

“It was really important to me that these classes were free to those accessing them, and accessible to all people, as many current forms of antenatal education cannot offer this.”

Sessions are part-funded by The Iolanthe Midwifery Trust, a registered charity that aims to promote and improve the care of mothers, babies and families through awarding grants and fellowships in support of midwifery education, practice and research.

Trust Patron, Baroness Cumberlege, said: “I am invited to take on positions, particularly as Patron, of a number of charities.  Several I refuse but Iolanthe is one I treasure and hold very dear because it provides such wonderful opportunities to those midwives who realise there is much more they can learn. The award winners bring a wonderful galaxy of different approaches to maternity and I congratulate everyone.”