Midwives learn sign language to help deaf pregnant women

Midwifery students in Leicester learn basic sign language to talk to deaf mums-to-be

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Midwives in Leicester are being taught how to give sign language instructions to deaf women during labour. Students training to become midwives at De Montfort University (DMU) in Leicester will be taught basic signing and be briefed about the issues facing deaf people – specifically mums-to-be and new mums.

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The course is running with the help of Action Deafness, a local charity. Bernadette Gregory, senior lecturer in midwifery at DMU said, “The workshops have highlighted some of the problems faced by deaf parents accessing midwives, and their unique communications needs.”

“We hope to teach the next generation of midwives how to communicate and provide better care to these women at such an important time in their lives,” she added.

Action Deafness representative Dr Joanna Downes, welcomed the move. “These workshops are not only about teaching British sign language but they enlighten the student midwives on the psychological, emotional, social and communication issues facing deaf parents and hearing parents of newly diagnosed deaf babies,” Dr Joanna said.

“The aim of this is to make the pregnancy and labour experiences for both the deaf parents and the NHS professionals more positive and effective,” she added.

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All newborn babies are given a hearing exam shortly after birth.

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