I'm Sandra, I live in Ennerdale, and my children were born at West Cumberland Hospital. I have been involved in relating the service user/ family perspective in maternity and children's services since my youngest son was 18 months old, and he is now at secondary school. Maternity is such an important time in a woman s life, and her partner/ family's life. There is room for all to have a say in local services and lots of opportunities to be involved and make a positive difference. I'm Chair of West Cumbria Maternity Voices Partnership Group and acting Chair of the Carlisle & Eden MVP.
I have birthed and breastfed 6 children, I’ve had a wide range of birth experiences. I understand how important things are to women including the right birth environment and also the language and communication by health professionals. That is the case whether you are being given information about breast feeding or being informed that your baby may be disabled.After having my last child I found that, unlike myself, some women in Cumbria had, unfortunately had, negative experiences when being informed their baby has Down's Syndrome. I am now secretary to Cumbria Down's Syndrome Support Group. I'm keen to ensure that these mums and their partners have a voice in shaping future maternity services in Cumbria.
Local Programme Management Lead
I am Nicola, I have two grown up daughters who also work for the NHS. I am the Programme Management Lead for our local maternity system and responsible for the delivery of the Better Births Programme. I work closely with the Maternity Voices Partnership and with colleagues in North Cumbria Midwifery Service. I am passionate about delivering the best NHS services for babies, children, young people and families.
Emma Heseltine Armstrong
Hello my name is Emma and I am mum to two boys, one born at the Cumberland Infirmary and one born at home. I got involved in Maternity Voices in the hope of helping and encouraging other mums who have had similar experiences or are interested in VBAC choices. My eldest was born early via emergency c-section and spent some time in SCBU. With the advice and support of the midwives and consultant I was able to have a VBAC with my youngest, although I had not planned on him arriving at home. I am orignially from Leeds but moved here 10 years ago to compete a farming apprenticeship, I now farm with my husband and am involved in the local farmers markets.
My name is Becky and I’m a midwife at NCIC based at the Cumberland Infirmary. I trained and worked in Manchester but recently returned to Cumbria with my husband to be closer to our families. In 2020, I became a first-time mum and had my very own lockdown baby. I had a high-risk pregnancy due to reduced growth so was closely monitored and received shared care from my community midwife and obstetrician. My pregnancy was challenging for many reasons. I struggled with sickness and nausea throughout and had many worries due to the uncertainty of having a baby during a pandemic. I grieved for the loss of normality such as attending antenatal classes, my partner being present at my scans and was really worried he wouldn’t be there to witness the birth of our baby. However, I was privileged and very lucky to be on the receiving end of fantastic care. I was induced and had the most amazing positive birth experience. I am keen to be part of the MVP as I’m passionate about improving services and embracing multi-disciplinary teamwork for women centred individualised care. My experience of becoming a mum has highlighted even more so how important it is for women and families to feel listened to, to be involved in decision making and feel empowered throughout their pregnancy, birth and postnatal journey.
Hi I'm Michaela, mum to my 4 children who were all born at the Cumberland Infirmary. I had 4 very different experiences of maternity care which inspired my journey to midwifery. I am currently a 3rd year student midwife within North Cumbria. I am passionate about supporting women to feel empowered and confident throughout the perinatal period and ensuring I delivered women-centred care at all times. On qualifying, I hope to work within our local trust and contribute to improving maternity services for the better.
Hi, I’m Sara and mum to 3 little ones who were all born at the Cumberland Infirmary. I was able to breastfeed all 3 of my babies. I trained and volunteered as a Breastfeeding Peer supporter for 5 years, I was keen to give something back as I’d received such good support myself. I feel strongly that the key to successful breastfeeding is information so that women can make informed choices about how to feed their babies, whether formula or breastfed; and local support if they choose to breastfeed. With local breastfeeding support groups being cut I attend public health meetings and have been a lay member of Maternity Voices for 3 years helping to raise awareness of local maternity needs for families. I live near Wigton and currently run Wigton Baby Social which is a weekly meet for local mums and little ones.
Hello I'm Katherine. As well as being a mum to my three amazing children (who were all born at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle), I am Chief Executive of The Happy Mums Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation based in Carlisle supporting women with maternal mental health problems like anxiety and postnatal depression. I experienced PND myself after my first daughter was born in 2011, so I know how important it is to embrace mental health during pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period. The MVP meetings are a great opportunity to ensure that women and their partners have a voice and can work with maternity professionals to continually improve local services.
Hello! I'm Hannah.
As well as being a Mum of three wonderful children, I am a specialist newborn photographer and primary school teacher.
I have chosen home birth for all three of my children and I am a big believer in women being given choice over whatever birth experience they choose. I actually ended up having my first two children in hospital. But this has made me even more passionate that women's choices around birth are respected and acknowledged.
I chose to get involved with Carlisle & Eden MVP after having my second child and I think this service is a great way for people accessing maternity services to have their voices heard.
NHS - Maternity Administrator
My name is Belinda Rae and I provide administration support for the Maternity Voices groups in both the West and Carlisle & Eden areas. I work as a Team Secretary within the Maternity Department and am based in West Cumberland Hospital. I provide administration/secretarial support for the Head of Midwifery and the Senior Midwifery Management Team, as well as the Maternity team in general and work closely with Maternity Voices to ensure effective meetings and communication with both the public and staff. I enjoy attending the meetings (and can sometimes get a little more involved than I should!) and I am passionate about Maternity and the provision of excellent services for women in our area. I look forward to seeing you at one of our meetings.
NHS - Chief Matron
I am mum to Joshua and Darcy, twins born at 23 weeks gestation. Due to their extreme prematurity we spent several months on the NICU at both the University Hospital of North Tees and the RVI in Newcastle. The twins had a rocky neonatal journey but are now thriving 5 year olds. Joshua has ongoing health conditions and learning difficulties and I balance being a carer for him with working and volunteering for a neonatal charity, Leo’s. I am a trustee and peer supporter for Leo’s and am passionate about helping other neonatal families who have been through similar experiences to mine. Joining the MVP is one of the ways I hope to give voice to other parents and try to give something back to my community.
Hi I'm Sherrelle mum of two daughters who were both born at the Cumberland Infirmary. I'm currently a 3rd year student Midwife studying at the University of Cumbria and I'm very passionate about supporting women and implementing change to improve women's experiences in our local area. I hope to work locally upon qualifying. As a 3rd year student, I'm about to join the new Continuity of Carer team which is very exciting.
I’m Sarah and I have one child who was born at the Cumberland Infirmary in 2018. I suffered badly with my mental health during pregnancy and after my daughter was born, which led to a 2 month admission to the mother and baby unit in Morpeth. It also started my involvement with Happy Mums, a non-profit foundation based near Carlisle for mums and pregnant women with mental health problems. I have since volunteered and been employed there as a peer group facilitator and now project lead for our exciting new project #HappyMumbria, which aims to bring peer support to women across north, east and West Cumbria. I am keen to make sure the voices of those who battle mental illness alongside the challenges of pregnancy and motherhood are heard.