Click the picture to enlarge it, then please sign our petition, if you haven't already.
Click the picture to enlarge it, then please sign our petition, if you haven't already.
I'm not just blogging blindly; I'm interested in what other people think and say, and I also am interested in how people find this website, and where people are linking to it.
I watch referring sites in my log stats, and often visit back. It was in this way that I came across a parenting forum this weekend.
A mother of three posted with a link to Jessica's Trust, urging people to read the information contained herein and, if they feel as strongly as she does, to sign the petition.
I was, though, dismayed to read a third reply to her post, from another mum, who didn't think that MEOWS charts were necessarily a good thing. She felt they could lead to unjustified intervention, use of prophylactic antibiotics, and only benefit 1 in half a million women.
Oh how I was dismayed! Where do I begin?
Midwives already take temperatures and observations. They already record them in a mother's notes. If there were more midwives who had more time to spend with the increasing number of mothers delivering and recorded observations more frequently, that would be a good thing. Surely no one would dispute that.
The use of MEOWS charts - which is already standard in a small but growing number of units - is widely supported and encouraged. It is not a new test/observation, but a different and inherently clearer way of recording observations. This means that a women who is beginning to deteriorate will be picked up faster and given any treatment that she requires for a range of conditions including, but not exclusively, childbed fever (CF). This means that severe illness and/or death can be avoided.
I am not an advocate of prophylactic use of antibiotics, indeed more women than are saved from sepsis may die of allergic reaction.
As for benefitting only 1 in 500,000 - how wrong is this. Purely looking at sepsis, in 2003-2005 the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health recorded 18 deaths (0.85 per 100,000) from Genital tract sepsis (GTS). This would be 4.25 per 500,000, but more women than that give birth in this country each year. The average number of deaths per annum from GTS/CF is 6.
Far, far more are affected (no data is recorded, but it should be) by childbed fever than this. I continually hear tragic stories of illness from survivors.
Would any of them not have wanted to receive earlier antibiotic treatment?
Group A Streptococcal infections are on the increase, according the the Health Protection Agency. The concern so far has been largely in cases of Scarlet Fever, which last December reached a 10 year high, the HPA reported.
The news is that there is now an enhanced surveillance protocol of severe group A streptococcal disease. Not quite the study of cases of childbed fever including those that do not result in death that I'd like to see (and is, I know, in planning) but a welcome step in the right direction.
If group A strep infection is more prevalent in the community at the moment, then there will be more cases of childbed fever as well, one could assume. Let the doctors and midwives be aware and be alert, lest it result in more death.
We have started a new petition on the Downing Street website, asking the Prime Minister to...
"...ensure that every new mother has regular observations recorded on a Modified Early Obstetric Warning System (MEOWS) chart in hospital and in the community and is given clear information and advice on the recognition of childbed fever (also known as puerperal fever and genital tract sepsis) and that doctors and midwives are given clear sepsis guidelines."
This petition will remain open for 9 months.
However, please sign our petition now, with one name per line - signing as 'Mr & Mrs Smith' will only count as one signature! Every British citizen or resident can sign if they have a unique email address.
When you have signed please remember to click the link in the confirmation email you will receive, then pleaseÂ share the link to this page with anybody who you think might like to sign it as well.
For more information about the petition, childbed fever, MEOWS and Jessica's Trust please read our website.
Since becoming a registered charity, we have partnered with Justgiving.com to allow us to receive online donations.
All money donated or raised through sponsorship will enable us to continue raising awareness of childbed fever through printing and distributing leaflets and posters, running our website and striving to achieve our aims.
Bookmark our website or join our update list to keep abreast of what we're doing.
Thank you for your help. Together we can make a difference.
I was very glad to attend the South East Regional CEMACH conference in Basingstoke today. I was askedÂ to speak a few months ago, and as anyone who knows me will testify, I hate public speaking. As a result I blanked it until the last minute and just revised my last speech at the eleventh hour.
As yesterday approached, CEMACH offered me a corner of their table for my leaflets and books, then a table of my own. By the entrance/exit.
I was made to feel so special I forgot to be nervous this morning, especially as the chair of the conference handed me some Bachs Rescue Remedy. By the time my slot arrived I was feeling comfortable in the lecture theatre, knew what I had to say and launched in.
I knew to expect the rustle of tissues, but I was overwhelmed by the support shown afterwards, and the number of requests for a repeat performance in other parts of the country, and the speed at which copies of Friday's Child flew off the table later.
As promised to a number of delegates, here is the link to the text of my speech in Birmingham last year - largely unchanged today. And yes, I will consider recording it and putting it on YouTube. The more (student) midwives that hear it the better.
Things will change, thanks to Jessica.
Tonight our long summer holidays end. We've had an amazing time, visiting Scotland and Portugal, enjoying glorious sunshine in both, but tomorrow all three of us start again at school. I go back in my working capacity in I.T., Harry returns now in Upper School and Emily joins us for her first day at 'big school' in Reception.
How vividly I remember Harry's first day three years ago: shy and nervous, clinging to my arm. How quickly he learned to adore his teacher, an adoration Emily is already learning, before she has started, of the same teacher in the same classroom. How happy Emily will be. How proud a mother Jessica would have been.
But enough of holidays and school. I must also reverse the partially deliberate neglection of the blog and Jessica's Trust. I must pick up the reins and gallop into the enormous amount of work, the Charity Commission's queries, notes that need be written for the meetings I have and the speech I must deliver to a conference of midwives in October.
I feel recharged and energised, and as if I didn't already have enough reason to put my back into Jessica's Trust, I have heard from yet more families who have been deeply affected by childbed fever with horrendous long term illness. We must look beyond the statistics of maternal death to these uncounted cases of horrific suffering and pain from genital tract sepsis and its consequences.
In the meantime, my apologies for going AWOL and my warmest thanks to all those who have left messages of support and appreciation.
Four years ago today, a good mother died unnecessarily from an archaic illness. The world may not have noticed immediately, but the three year old boy crying in his bed, the six day old girl feeding in her father's arms and the grieving widower did.
Together the three of us have kicked, screamed and cried at more than one time or another, not necessarily in synchronisation.
We are now building a new life for ourselves but a few things haven't changed in the years that have past: we don't like what happened, we miss Jessica and we don't want another son, daughter or husband to live through what we have.
All three of us, to the extent of the understanding that we each have, want to do what we can to prevent another mother's death from childbed fever, but we need your help.
Please ask them to do the same as well. Thank you.
Ben, Harry and Emily. x
She mentioned Friday's Child last week, in comparison to a historical novel about childbed fever, and this morning I find that dovegreyreader has written about it more fully in her post, Friday's Child by Ben Palmer. I won't comment - it speaks for itself.
I was sent an early copy of a new book, Touching Distance, last week. I was gripped by it from start to finish and it consumed most of my weekend.
Touching Distance is set in 1790, in the middle of an epidemic of childbed fever in Aberdeen. A young doctor, Alexander Gordon, discovers - and sacrifices his career and his marriage to publish the fact - that it is he, his peers and midwives who are spreading the disease.
To continue the brief history lesson, Oliver Wendell-Holmes published the same information in 1843. He too was ridiculed by his peers. A few years later, and Ignaz Semmelweis, drew the same conclusion, markedly reducing maternal death by using a chlorinated lime solution for hand washing. He too was ridiculed.
Medicine has moved on: in the West, hygiene practice means that childbed fever does not reach epidemic rates of occurrence - it is not being spread by doctors or midwives. What has not changed is that streptococcus, the cause that Gordon et al couldn't have known of, is still with us. It may wax and wane in prevalence, but it is in us, on us and with us at all times. It is still causing deaths from childbed fever.
We cannot assume that hand washing makes our mothers safe. We can't vaccinate and we can't wash it out of the world, but we can spot the symptoms of its infection while there is still time to treat a mother before she requires long term hospitalisation, a hysterectomy or she dies.
It's also book launch week, and there's a bit of press coverage lined up too.
Obviously I won't be sad if Friday's Child sells a few copies or more, but the real happiness that I yearn for will come through the people who read of Jessica's plight and are moved enough to spread her story.
If every reader tells their colleagues, family and friends, then it will be a lot of people who know about the continuing danger of childbed fever and infection in otherwise healthy new mothers.
I really want it to be the start of the end of this cruel and un-prejudiced killer. Please, help me to make Jessica's untimely and unnecessary death one that counts.