For now, Laura’s work and research are divided between London and Italy for her doctoral studies. Her research project focuses on supporting and observing the implementation process of a new Midwifery Unit in her hometown of Grosseto, Italy.
Below is an inspiring story of how this came to be. We hope you enjoy it!
If the implementation of a new Midwifery Unit (especially in non-UK countries) inspires you and you’d like to find out more, please join our free monthly webinar on Tuesday 25th May, 12:30-14:00 (UK time). You can register via the button below:
With thanks, The MUNet Director Team (Lucia, Chantelle, Ellen and Richard).
The Midwifery Unit Network (MUNet) was first launched in 2016 after a European meeting hosted by City, University of London. During that meeting international experts, activists, midwives and obstetricians came from many different countries to learn more about Midwifery Units (MUs). Many of them went back to their own countries with a renewed enthusiasm and more trust in this model of care due to the exposure of the research evidence and networking with international colleagues. One of them was Dr Enrico Colosi, an obstetrician from Tuscany (Italy) who thought that this type of implementation needed to be implemented in his organisation too in Grosseto.
In Italy, the maternity system is mainly obstetric-led and indicators show a medicalised culture of birth. In 2019, a national report showed how the caesarean section (CS) rate in Italy was 33,7% (CEDAP, 2019), one of the highest in Europe. Big differences were reported across different regions and between the public or private sector and this variability shows that work needs to be done on the professional and organisational level.
For Dr Colosi, an opportunity came along when a new hospital building was constructed in the hospital in Grosseto. This meant that some areas and departments within the old hospital needed to be reorganised and he took advantage of this and started to promote the creation of an alongside midwifery unit (AMU). Both the local and leadership teams were soon convinced by his charismatic and persuasive skills. From 2017, Dr Colosi and his team started a solid collaboration with MUNet with the organisation of further research projects, seminars and multidisciplinary training.
Since then, many things have happened. Sadly, Dr Colosi passed away in 2019, meaning the campaign for the AMU lost a caring, energetic and charismatic leader. However, his legacy lives on! It has not been easy and at times, doubts and uncertainties had taken over the professionals’ passion and motivation. However, little by little and with some support by the network, the team has shown incredible resilience and they are still working hard towards the integration of the AMU.
A three-year implementation research project was started in 2019 involving all stakeholders in the change that the maternity team is approaching: professionals, managers and most importantly service users. Some amazing architects from Florence worked on the preparation of a renovation plan and together with the organisational leadership submitted this plan to the Regional Maternity committee in 2020.
The path towards change is never linear or easy, especially when the change involves different stakeholders and when the local context and culture are not used to the innovation. However, if a seed is planted in a receptive and fertile ground, the tree will start growing. Slowly maybe, but still growing. This is what I believe happened back in 2016 during the First European MUNet meeting when the passionate MUNet team, led by Lucia Rocca-Ihenacho, were able to reach the participants’ minds and hearts. A seed was brought back home to Italy, it was planted and today we can see the effects of that change beginning to take shape.
Written by Laura Batinelli, Midwife and Researcher