Newsletter 4, November 2020, By Laure Depuydt

Le Cocon is the first Belgian Alongside Midwifery Unit that opened its doors in Brussels in March 2014. This was a huge step in a country where the obstetric climate is, let’s say… challenging. In Belgium there is mainly obstetric led care – even for low risk women – and numbers for obstetric interventions such as caesarean sections, inductions of labour and episiotomies remain high. It was thanks to the work of a group of dedicated and visionary midwives and obstetricians at the time, that this pioneering project saw the light of day.

Six years later, we can no longer call Le Cocon a project, as the centre has grown over the years and now represents 10% of the total number of hospital births and 16.2% of total obstetric/midwifery activity. In May 2020, Le Cocon celebrated the 1000th birth on the birthing centre. Service users are highly satisfied by their care at the midwifery-led unit and praise the open mindset and patient-centered care of the Erasme University Hospital.

To achieve all this, Le Cocon has been inspired by many existing birth units abroad. In the beginning it was hard to know where to find ‘likeminded’ midwives and obstetricians to learn from and to get help when difficulties occurred. It was mainly thanks to MUNet that big steps forward could be taken in the last few years.

First of all, connecting to the MUNet community was a big eyeopener for Le Cocon. We have been able to grow our network with international colleagues during conferences and online sessions. We have frequently been using the Facebook platform for questions and concerns. We have learned so much through their E-learning modules, summer school and even more during a three-day workshop last year. We loved it so much that we booked a date for next year straight away!

Our ‘new vision’ and patient centered care has been questioned over and over again, but the MUNet team has always been there to support us, get in touch with our management and provide evidence-based information when needed.

Lucia, Ellen and team invited us to take part in their pilot project and thereby test their new tool: The MU Standard Self-Assessment Tool. It’s basically a tool that allows you to look at your birthing unit from different angles, see what is missing and where you can improve. Filling it out every three months helps us to set goals for the future. MUNet has pushed us to really raise the bar and plan high impact actions such as regular stake-holder meetings, implement personalized care and see how we could provide postnatal care on the birthing unit.

And then there are the smaller achievements over the past few months: improving communication on our social media, writing new procedures, guidelines and a two-monthly newsletter, putting a mailbox for parents’ ideas and suggestions in our waiting room, making sure we are collecting our data on a regular basis, …

As you can see, lots of things have been going on at Le Cocon lately. Together with MUNet we are moving on to better births in Belgium!

By Laure Depuydt

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