Celebrating 100 years of progress in midwifery

Reflections a year on, from Katie Thurlow

Today marks International day of the Midwife 2023 with this year’s theme“Together again: From Evidence to reality”.  The International Confederation of midwives are thrilled to be ‘Together again’ meeting again face to face in solidarity  after the past years of Covid and Travel restrictions. 

 The theme also gives a perfect opportunity to highlight the real difference having a midwife can make  to birth outcomes. Midwives continuously strive to be defenders of human rights, supporting bodily autonomy of women and birthing people.

When a midwife cares for you the evidence speaks for itself.  

  • More likely to have a vaginal birth
  • Less likely to have a premature birth
  • More likely to have a positive postnatal experience. 

I had recently joined PKB when I wrote my blog last year. Resharing it here, I’m proud to reflect on the progress we’ve also made ‘together’ with so many incredible maternity teams across the UK.  

PKB is currently bringing data to thousands of women  and birthing people to support their pregnancy journeys.  Enabling access to blood results, ultrasound scan reports and  Personalised careplans all ensures informed decision making around birth and beyond. Our personal health record also enables improved information sharing -both  library information collated by maternity teams with access to local leaflets and  national guidance –  supporting better understanding obstetric procedures and that all important partnership between midwives and parents-to-be.


Katie Bettell-Higgins, Vice President of Customer Success

As the very excitingly titled ‘Vice President of Customer Success’ here at Patients Know Best, a large part of my role, and that of my team, is to assist our customers through the sometimes challenging journey of clinical transformation. We help them to navigate the path from being a clinical team that uses perhaps paper based or legacy IT systems, to one that feels confident and comfortable working with their patients using a digital personal health record.  This transformation helps to improve clinical outcomes and raise patient engagement and activation.

The reason that our Patients Know Best Success team is able to work so closely with the clinical teams and understand the challenges they face is that among our project management staff, a large contingent have a background in years of front line clinical work.   This is something that we actively recruit for and encourage. Currently within our Success team we have 4 qualified nurses (including myself) with a background in such varied areas as gynaecology, orthopaedics, sexual health, community, medical assessment and school nursing! We also have a previous health care assistant and phlebotomist, a pharmacy assistant, a second year physician associate MSc and I am so thrilled that we now have an experienced midwife, Katie Thurlow, to add to the mix, who has been with us for 3 months. 

Katie has joined our team at an exciting time, as we move forward with several maternity teams across our customer base. I am delighted to introduce her to you and to thank her for writing this fantastic blog in honour of International Day of the Midwife. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did and I look forward to Katie helping our customers to take their maternity deployments from strength to strength.

Katie Thurlow, Project Manager and former Midwife

Patients Know Best is proud to support International day of the Midwife on May 5th as it focuses on 100 years of progress. Whilst the last hundred years have certainly been a time of great progress in midwifery, the practice of midwifery has been long standing before this, being traced back to around 40,000BC. Midwifery has come a long way since, in advancements in healthcare, greater knowledge in physiology, and improvements in technology to support safety and improve quality of maternity services for women and their families. 

It could be said though that the true purpose of midwifery has never really changed, the golden thread running through maternity services are the midwives who strive to provide the best possible care to ensure the best outcomes for all. 

It’s important to recognise that midwives aren’t just there at birth, as highly skilled practitioners they support the health and wellbeing throughout pregnancy and postnatally: listening, holding hands, advocating, educating, empowering, giving life saving treatment to both mothers and babies. 

There is no doubt that the impact of the pandemic has affected the midwifery workforce, exposing long standing issues within maternity in the UK, but it has also shown how highly dedicated, hard working, adaptable and resilient midwives are. Challenges within the pandemic meant huge digital transformation in many organisations, with midwives continuing to support women’s individual healthcare needs with only essential face to face appointments. 

As part of the Better Births vision, as maternity care continues to evolve after the pandemic, the recommendations of providing quality of care through the use of digital innovations aims to make it easier for health professionals to collect and share data with each other and their patients. 

Patients Know Best is working with maternity teams to benefit midwives and the families in their care, providing the opportunity to use personal health records, giving greater visibility, control and understanding of their health and maternity information. 

My experience as a midwife

At some point a midwife has likely touched a part of our lives whether it was at your own birth or supporting yours or your partner’s pregnancy and labour. Being a midwife is one of the most challenging and rewarding careers. I have been a qualified midwife since 2019, having trained for three years prior to that.

It’s difficult to describe a day in the life of a midwife; the job is so varied, every day is a different challenge as every mother-to-be is unique in their needs. Building relationships with women and their families is key to this, developing a trusting relationship for women to be able to talk about their anxieties and worries, to be able to reassure and support them through what can be a challenging period in their lives. Nothing makes me happier than seeing a woman’s confidence grow throughout their journey into parenthood.

From the first time I witnessed a birth it was magical, as a student midwife I remember the feeling in the room as I watched a woman become a mother. A huge transformation took place in front of me, their world had just changed in an incomprehensible way and I remember feeling how lucky that I got to be a small part in that. That magic is still not lost on me. I’ve been present at over 150 births, I’ve seen the magic not just in women but also in the team of midwives and doctors around. As midwives we cautiously watch and wait, monitoring baby and mum, and most of the time we are silent workers in the room ensuring everything is going smoothly. On the occasions when things don’t go as smoothly, we are there to ensure the safety of both the mum and her baby. A whole team jumps into action, lifesaving manoeuvres, medications, transfers, every highly skilled professional working at lightning speed together. Those days are challenging and emotionally demanding but it’s when you see the resilience and strength of the midwives and the women in our care.

I’m passionate about women having autonomy over their maternity care, knowing their rights, advocating for women, educating and empowering them to have a positive experience of childbirth. As a midwife, it’s crucial to recognise and respect the contribution that people can make to their own health and wellbeing and this is why I’m now working for Patients Know Best as a project manager.

Having worked in a hospital where patients had little access to their health record I see the value, not just for patients having ownership of the personal health record, but also for healthcare professionals. Women are able to see their test results, have access to care plans and a library with a wealth of evidence based information at their fingertips. Currently some community midwives are carrying mobiles to be able to communicate via sms. The functionality of Patients Know Best to allow messaging that is recorded in a health record gives greater levels of safety for patients and professionals. It means that the quality of face to face appointments is improved, with the ability to maximise choice and personalisation of care, in turn, leading to improved safety for women and their babies. 

I’m so excited to see the difference Patients Know Best can make to women in maternity healthcare and hope it empowers both service users and midwives to create positive change and outcomes in maternal health and the future of Midwifery.

Thank you to Katie Thurlow for sharing her experience and excitement in the progression of midwifery with us, we can’t wait for your skills to be used to support our customers in this journey. 

To find out more about our existing deployments in Maternity and our upcoming deployments and their aspirations for their use of Patients Know Best, contact your Customer Success Manager or enquiries@patientsknowbest.com.

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