British registered midwife Lynn Darbyshire in Munich
You are a British registered midwife with over 20 years experience. Can you tell us what brought you to midwifery in the first place?
I originally qualified as a Registered Nurse. After working as a nurse for two years I decided that I would like to train as a midwife. I think initially I went into midwifery as I liked the concept of being an autonomous practitioner; but very soon I realised that there was a lot more to being a midwife than this. I liked the complete care you could give a woman from early pregnancy through to the postnatal period, and that in many cases you have the privilege to look after women in more than one pregnancy.
You have a special interest in postnatal depression in the immigrant population and the positive impact of social and peer support. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
I have worked away from my native country for the last 15 years and in this time have worked with many women who are also not native to the country that they live in. From my work with these women I realised that for many women having a baby away from home was a lonely experience. Without their own mother, sister or best friend from school and often not speaking the local language Motherhood can be lonely. They say it takes a “village to raise a child” and there is some element of truth in this. I was interested to find out whether immigrant women had an increased risk of postnatal depression (PND) and what could be done to help these women.
Whilst studying for my MSC degree in Midwifery and Women’s Health I needed to provide a dissertation; this seemed an ideal opportunity to research into whether there was an increased risk of PND in the immigrant population. My original assumption from what I had observed over the years was correct. The key factors that increased a woman’s risk of PND were social isolation, language barrier and cultural issues. What became apparent was that where women were able to create or be part of a support group in the prenatal period these women had a decreased risk of PND. At Pippagina I provide prenatal and postnatal classes for expectant parents and new mothers but what I also provide is a built in support group, making sure women are connected through Whatsapp groups and email, so they have support in these early days of motherhood. What has become apparent is that for many women this is the beginning of life long friendships and I see my ladies still meeting up years later. It is so comforting and rewarding when I hear ladies tell me that the ladies they met at Pippagina “saved” them in those early days of motherhood.
How and why did you set up Pippagina?
I set up Pippagina because I saw there was a need for expat/immigrant women in Munich to have childbirth and new mothers classes in English provided by a practising midwife. From this I realised that to provide postnatal groups for these women was important.
Do you find that most of the pregnant women who attend the classes you offer are going to be mums for the first time?
I provide childbirth classes for first time mums. A One Stop Class that is specially tailored for the busy expat couple. I also provide a separate refresher class for Second Time Mums. In my new mothers classes, although I predominantly have first time mums I am finding more and more that ladies I have looked after in their first pregnancy are now signing up to do the classes again. For many women they want a refresher, but for others just wanting that community of women with babies the same age as their own.
What can you offer to women who have already been through one labour?
I have a second Time Around Class. This class is for Mothers only, and is during the day (hopefully when their older child is in Kindergarten). This class addresses issues of the last labour, pain relief, positions in labour, vaginal delivery after cesarian section as well as looking at preparing the older sibling.
How early in your pregnancy should you start looking for a midwife?
In Munich you need to start looking early. Realistically by the time you are 12 weeks pregnant.
How important are postnatal classes?
Postnatal classes are not only informative in helping women cope in the early days of motherhood with feeding, gas, sleeping etc. but are also a great way to get women to connect with other ladies in Munich who have babies the same age. The majority of women at Pippagina are not native to Munich. Motherhood for these women is potentially lonely. Pippagina helps these women find a supportive group of other mothers.
What is the most common cause of worry for mums with new born babies?
I think feeding and sleeping are the two most common concerns. These issues, along with many others, are supported in our classes.
How can infant massage help with communication skills between mother and baby?
Massage not only helps a baby physically especially with issues of gas, but is also a great way for Mother and baby to communicate and get to know each other.
What do you love about your job?
I have been a midwife for over 26 years. For me being a midwife is a privilege. As a midwife your role is not only that of a medical carer but also an educator and supporter of a women in their new role as a mother. Watching a woman grow into her new role as a mother is perhaps one of the most rewarding journeys you ever get to take with someone.