Dr Miriam Stoppard visits Brookes

Friday, 06 November 2009

Women's health expert Dr Miriam Stoppard visited Oxford Brookes University to give a talk to students and community midwives.

Women's health expert Dr Miriam Stoppard visited Oxford Brookes University to give a talk to midwifery and children's nursing students and community midwives.

Dr Stoppard, who has written more than 50 books on pregnancy and health and has been voted the most trusted UK 'baby guru', was also given a demonstration of one of only a handful of birthing simulators in the UK at the School of Health and Social Care at the university's Marston Road site.

Dr Stoppard has been a pioneer in the field of maternity care and pregnancy and, in recognition for her work, has been awarded an honorary doctorate by Oxford Brookes.

After being shown around one of the many clinical skills suites at Oxford Brookes, the birthing simulator was demonstrated by a group of midwifery students.

Dr Stoppard said: "I was interested to see how closely the simulator resembled a normal birth."

She added: "To be able to practise on non-real babies and non-real mums but have everything programmed by a computer is an amazing way to learn."

During her talk she told the invited audience there were still too few midwives in the UK because of a lack of Government investment.

"We are quite a long way from what the ideal midwife-patient ratio should be," she said. "The increased birth rates leading to increased workloads for midwives are not reflected in an increase in midwife jobs.

"The goal of there being a one-on-one relationship between patient and midwife is very rare. Now it's five to one or sometimes 10, 15 or 20."

Dawn Gilkes, Senior Lecturer in midwifery, said Dr Stoppard's visit had been thought-provoking and informative for both students and qualified practitioners. "It was fantastic to be able to show her around one of our clinical skills suites that enables students from all programmes to undertake simulated practice in order to improve their clinical performance.

"Dr Stoppard engaged in an enthusiastic and lively discussion with the students that emerged from her observations and her experiences within the field of maternity."

Her talk covered a number of topics, ranging from the growing numbers of mothers who are overweight and the link with obesity and premature birth through to the huge impact maternal mental health can have on an unborn child.

The UK also has the lowest breast feeding rates in the world, Dr Stoppard told her audience. By the time a baby is six weeks old just one in five women are breast feeding.

Pictured in the School of Health and Social Care's clinical skills suite with the birthing simulator are (from left to right): Emily Delacherie and Alex Mulford, both third year midwifery students at Oxford Brookes, Dr Miriam Stoppard, Jo Claridge, a senior post-experience student and Dawn Gilkes, senior lecturer (midwifery).