Mummy's Star: Online Training (Review)

Like with Beyond Bea, I recently attended an online study day with Mummy’s Star. Whilst they haven’t advertised the fact that they are offering these, I really wanted to hear them speak, especially as I missed out on the Midwifery Society’s organised day in March as I had my SNTA interview. I ended up organising a special session just for our cohort and it was really great. Also, the way it fell, just happened to be during Cancer and Pregnancy Awareness Week and also my birthday week, so I ended up doing a charity fundraiser to further support them, as a charity. If you wanted to donate, you can do so here until it closes, otherwise head here to donate directly to them.
Mummy’s Star is another incredible charity which I am very fortunate to be aware of. They support families, provide choices and break myths. It is the very first cancer support charity of it’s kind, after a gap of other charities in supporting women diagnosed with cancer during or in the year after pregnancy was found, starting in June 2013. As with so many organisations, the CEO began the charity through personal experience and motivation after his wife passed away from cancer, just 10 weeks after giving birth to their second child.

One of my favourite things about learning more about the charity was that they support women and their families until they decide to stop communication and the relationship, therefore it is an ongoing and continual community. They also have an incredible team of staff involved in the work they do: healthcare professionals, staff with lived experience, legal aids and counsellors. I was really impressed with the range of services they offer as well, with not just family support but creating a community to support peers, financial aid through grants and the legal advice in regards to parental and maternity leave, which can often cause difficulties, especially in birth before 24 weeks. This is on top of the support that they provide directly to healthcare professionals themselves, in terms of support in information, advocating for clients in their care and seeking advice in regards to facilities available, like breast milk donation.

Some stand out moments during the session in which I learnt, I think are actually really important for society to be aware of too, although without scaring people. Things like pregnancy can mask symptoms, as some are "normal" in physiological changes. Women need to be listened to and advocated for in seeking specialist services.
Also, for a pregnant woman with cancer to be treated as a pregnant woman first and foremost and should be cared for as a pregnant woman. Whilst this was said as a professional taking care of her, I also think it translates because even family members will probably concentrate on the cancer, instead of the baby. From a professional perspective, simple activities like extra scans can bring the focus back to the baby and away from cancer.

Plus, some additional topics were explored, such as the concept of domestic violence and with double the focus on the woman - pregnancy and cancer - this increases the risk doubly. Additionally, the partner's voice was also a conversation that had a lot of impact and not to forget about them as they also need reassurance and are going through the same experience. Include them in conversations and keep them involved in decisions and signpost to support, if needed.

With the current pandemic, shielding in pregnancy has caused a lot of conflicting advice, especially at the start of the lockdown period. Importantly, women are not getting checked during this period as appointments are being put on hold due to unnecessary contact. Pete made an interesting point in that we expect for diagnoses of cancer to increase quite dramatically soon because there has been no investigation being done and therefore when this restarts, it will have all built up. On top of that, they have also had to lower the maximum amount awarded in each grant.

The whole session was incredibly informative and it’s very clear they provide a vital service to families and professionals alike. I know the money they raise will really aid the charity and go a long way in helping them support families who are going through such an awful and upsetting time. It’s never a “good time” to get cancer, but to be diagnosed during or just after pregnancy - which should be a joyous occasion - is truly unimaginable.