A much-loved midwife made it her mission to give women having multiples the birth they deserve.

Pam Langford works at East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust as a Multiple Births Specialist Midwife. She’s also an audit midwife for Twins Trust on our Maternity Engagement Project.

Pam might never have ended up in the career she did had she not attended a union course where she met a team of midwives who attracted her attention. She has worked at the same trust for more than 23 years, initially in the biomedical sciences department. Her career took a swift turn after attending a course while she was working in the pathology department.

Pam said: “There was this bunch of really rowdy women that I felt drawn towards, this was the crew I knew I wanted to be with. I learnt that they were a group of midwives attending The Royal College of Midwives’ training. I went home and said to my husband that I wanted to be a midwife. I explained I had met a group of women were so passionate and so focused on changing things for women. I was left inspired.”

Pam met up with the head of nursing at her hospital who said there was no funding for her to change roles and retrain as there was no pathway from pathology to midwifery. Other staff had not followed this route before. Pam was adamant she wanted to change career and, not allowing anything to stop her, she kept following it up until the Head of Nursing found leftover training funds so that she could be seconded. This was of course if she was lucky enough to gain a place. She applied to the University of Hertfordshire to start the direct entry midwifery course to train to become a midwife. After writing a 3,500 word essay about why she wanted to be a midwife, her application was successful and the next chapter of her working life began in September 2002.

Now more than 20 years on, Pam admits she still absolutely adores her job.

The passion for women’s rights and how we change things for women, it’s just paramount to my entire focus of midwifery

At 32, Pam says she finally found her calling and went on to make big changes in the world of midwifery. She was even presented with a CMO silver award from Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent OBE, the NHS’ Chief Midwifery Officer, for going above and beyond in her services to midwifery working with families of multiples.

She said: “I flourished in the first three years of my career. I became a band seven coordinator really quickly on the delivery suite, that was unheard of then.”

After starting work at the QEII hospital in Welwyn Garden City, she then took on her next post at the new Diamond Jubilee maternity unit at Lister Hospital, Stevenage.

“A new consultant midwife had started at the trust and had a vision of trying to get a really good team to start it off. The unit was going to be very much autonomous midwifery.

“We created a new birthing unit, which was hugely successful when it first opened. That is what made me the type of midwife I am today – that ability to think autonomously and create and develop plans for women to be able to have the type of birth that they deserve and want,” Pam said.

She added: “I worked alongside Obstetric and Gynaecology consultant Douglas Salvesen at Lister Hospital. He supported me in changing the way that we managed multiple pregnancies. We weren’t really offering a gold standard service to the women so we started to change things up. We then received a huge opportunity to engage with Twins Trust.”

Pam Langford

The unit completed its first audit through the Twins Trust Maternity Engagement Project and Pam was able to see the real benefits of the project.

“I was able to take guidance from Twins Trust and implement the NICE guidance the way it should be done. Mr Salvesen was very open to change and improvement,” she added.

Pam knew she wanted to work with families with multiples permanently. She looked at continuity of care and knew she could amalgamate this with multiple pregnancies to improve things for parents.

“I knew I could knock this out of the park. I created a business plan with my husband and made an appointment to see the Director of Midwifery at Lister Hospital. I said I could offer continuity of care but just working with multiples.”

It really did occur to me what a difference I could make

Speaking about the Twins Trust Maternity Engagement Project, she said: “It became really clear to me when doing the project and audits that what we were offering these women at Lister Hospital was kind of half-baked. After speaking to these women and gathering their feedback over the years, I felt we could offer them the type of maternity journey and birth that they deserve. They just needed to be given 1:1 support for the whole of their journey.

“I did the first audit and then continued with the engagement and then completed the second audit. The improvement was fast. The feedback was off the scale with cards and postnatal baby cuddles and even invites to the twin mum and baby groups. It’s just the best job ever.”

Pam reflected on the changes for mothers over the years as she spoke about birth being ‘a pivotal moment in your life'.

She said: “Years ago it was all about the safe delivery of the baby/babies. We have moved on so much as women now. We of course want the safe delivery of our babies but we also want to enjoy that experience and not have trauma and flashbacks of the awful event where people were running into the room and there was blood and gore and feeling out of control. It really did occur to me what a difference I could make.”

When a job opportunity came up for Pam to work with Twins Trust on the Maternity Engagement Project audits, she jumped at the chance.

She said: “I remember the email asking for help and I replied just saying, me, please pick me! I wanted to go to other hospitals and support other midwives like I had been. I wanted maternity services to be able to offer to women the same service across the country. It had been so successful at my hospital, I wanted to roll that out everywhere else.

“Twins Trust makes a huge difference to women. It’s not just about knowing you’ve got that one inclusive group of people where everybody understands what you are going through, that is huge but it’s not just about that. It’s about the changes Twins Trust is constantly vying for. The charity is engaged with the government and NICE maternity guidelines and the RCM to ensure women’s voices are heard. It’s about the balance of safety over new research and above all - listening to the voices of our women.”