Imagine, a consultant, a midwife, a doula, a support worker, a commissioner, a campaigner and a mother all coming together to help support and improve maternity services for all women and their families.

Wonderful you may say, but will this really ever happen you may wonder?

The answer is yes!

MatExp – Improving maternity experiences.

#MatExp is a wonderful grassroots campaign using the Whose Shoes?® approach to help identify and help improve our national maternity services. By means of workshops in local hospital trusts, users of maternity services are brought together with those who care for women and their families to join conversations about their experiences of maternity care, share what really made a difference to them personally and talk about ways that care can be improved. These workshops enable health care professionals and local communities to listen and work in partnership with women and their families to find ways to improve local and national maternity services. Anyone can take part whether your a maternity service user, community group or healthcare professional, from chief executive to volunteer, all are welcome to attend and share.

Also on twitter using the hashtag #Matexp and the #Matexp facebook group there are many amazing people sharing personal stories, experiences, achievements and how they are actively trying to improve care both in their local hospitals, but nationally too.

Personally for me #Matexp is truly wonderful and something I feel so privileged and proud to be part of. After suffering poor care with my first birth which resulted in birth trauma and PTSD, Matexp has given me hope.

Hope that things can change.

Hope that women are at the centre of maternity care.

Hope that the culture of birth and our maternity services will improve.

Hope that the voices of women will finally be heard, listened to and acted upon.

As part of #Matexp I have made contact with some amazing people such a Flo and Gill. These wonderful individuals are doing amazing things to improve services for women often after personal experiences.

Knowing that there are so many people who genuinely want to work to improve services and make care better and who truly value women has helped me heal and also restored my belief in maternity care. It has given me the opportunity to to tell my story and then feel part of improving things to make care given better for others, something I am so passionate about. It has also given me confidence to be bold and change things in my own job and NHS trust, as I feel supported by some amazing people. Seeing their successes has spurred me on and helped me believe that we can all make a difference.

More importantly #Matexp has given me hope that one day we will provide a maternity experience that is individualised, respectful, treats families with dignity and allows for informed choice. That puts a woman, her baby, her family and their needs first. I hope it will mean birth experiences that do not result in trauma but that even under difficult circumstances will make a woman feel loved, protected and supported. Yes I have hope, because finally not only has my voice been heard but the voices of women and their families everywhere will be heard, no matter who they are, what they do, or what choices they make.

Why is this so important?

Because your birth experience stays with with you your whole life, it can have a profound effect on you as a family as you start on your journey as parents. All women, babies and families are special and deserving of the best maternity care possible. So join in, get involved, share your stories, your ideas and let your voice be heard.

There are exciting times a head in #Matexp and together we can make a difference.