Tweet the midwife! says Basildon Hospital

PREGNANT women who plan to have their baby at Basildon University Hospital are now able to directly contact a midwife with non-urgent queries via social media.

Launched in December 2015, the ‘Maternity Direct Plus’ service is available via Facebook and Twitter, where our online midwife has already answered dozens of queries raised through the service.

Lesley Overy, midwife, has been leading on the project. Lesley explains: “Our community midwives each visit around 17 pregnant women a day, and in addition can receive up to

10 telephone or email queries. Some of these are urgent and the midwives respond as soon as they are able, however a number are general such as questions about whether a certain food is OK to eat, or feeling sick in early pregnancy for example. It is these sorts of queries that the Maternity Direct Plus service has been set up to deal with, as it means women receive a response more quickly and the community midwives are better able to concentrate their time on women who need their specialist attention.”

Since going live just a few weeks ago, Maternity Direct Plus is already proving to be popular with expectant mums, who can also access the service by email. Rebecca Tranter has been the midwife at the other end of the ‘line’, posting items of interest on the social media sites, and answering questions. Rebecca, who is a midwife with more than 20 years’ experience, said: “Women want access to correct information from a source they can trust. Being able to ask a question and get a quick response, sometimes within a just a few minutes, can help alleviate some of the anxiety often experienced during pregnancy.

“By using social media, which is available via a smart phone or other web-enabled device, the service is easily accessible to women and their families. Mostly, women (and a couple of men) have chosen to use the Facebook private messaging function or email to ask a question which means that our conversation stays private. Presently, Twitter is mainly used to raise awareness of the service and to post information.

“If somebody does contact the service with a more urgent query or the matter requires specialist attention I am able to quickly put them in touch with the person best placed to respond.”

Maternity Direct Plus builds on the Maternity Direct service that has been offered by Basildon Hospital for several years, where local women are able to notify the hospital of their pregnancy direct without needing to see their GP first. Women are then put directly in touch with a community midwife.

Lesley adds: “Maternity Direct Plus is providing an additional way for women, and their families, to easily access good quality advice and care during pregnancy. We would like to encourage all pregnant women to ‘like’ our Facebook page, and save our email address, so that it is to hand if needed.”

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