The dark side of Social Media

It’s been a long time since I have felt so distressed about work related issues. The bleakest moments are known by so many, as they are detailed in Catching Babies. And I’m not an apprentice when it comes to being in the media spotlight in a negative way, indeed I wrote about it for the March edition of Essentially MIDIRS.

Lots of you will know that I am also an advocate for social media and the amazing benefits it brings, I regularly give talks on the subject and have written about it extensively.  During the sessions and in my written work, I always mention the ‘dark side’, when social media has a negative impact, and how it's important to protect yourself. There is an abundance of clear guidance  to help with this.

But nothing prepared me for the events recently, and I am still processing the effects it has had on me personally. I won’t be mentioning any names. Firstly, I don’t want to draw attention to individuals who make it their life’s work to damage the lives of others. Secondly, I am clear about my professional boundaries, and personal integrity. But for those who continue to intimidate, harass and bully individuals and professional groups, and to undermine evidenced based models of maternity care, I have one message.

I have wobbled, but your actions have made me stronger.   


After writing this post, my supportive and inspirational friend @JennyTheM sent me this. What more can I say?


Another attack - when will it stop?

6th November 2015

Those of you who know me won't need to hear this. But for those who don't, please let me tell you that I've never bullied anyone in my life, let alone bereaved parents. I don't know what pleasure individuals get from being slanderous and cruel to others - it's beyond me. I suppose it's fuelled by the same emotions and hatred that starts wars.

Ignoring libellous allegations is all I can do, but I am saddened and perplexed how my name can be used maliciously with no recourse. It seems unjust, but I will not respond. I will not succumb to negative exploits with more anger, instead I will show compassion - which is more than the pity I feel. That's not to say I don't suffer in my silence. 

I am privileged that my career has been totally dedicated to serving others, and for many years when working in the NHS, my role was focused on those in need, bereaved, or traumatised. I retired from my employed midwifery position with the NHS in 2010, to study, travel and to help with my grandchildren.  Because of an incessant drive and passion to improve maternity services, based on decades of experience, I continue to work mostly voluntarily, supporting and encouraging maternity care workers, and parents.  I gift my time and energy to others, and I love it. 

Nadia and Paul tragically lost their beautiful baby son Ellis, when he was stillborn. Nadia sent me this, earlier this week.


Compassion, love, kindness and respect are the foundations of life. 

May, 2017.

She's done it again. Why does anyone have so much hate of someone they don't know at all, enough to spend time writing lies and vitriol? It is bizarre. This time I have declared the attack on my Facebook wall, and I've been absolutely overwhelmed with positive comments, support, and love. 

So of course I won't respond, there's no point.

I will continue to spread the sunshine. 



How do health professionals use social media?


In preparation for an article I am writing for a midwifery journal, I decided to conduct a short survey to ascertain why health care workers use social media in a professional capacity.  The survey ran from 10/4/14 until 27/4/14, and was disseminated via Twitter and Facebook.

321 individuals responded, and the brief results are outlined below. The full article will be published in June edition of MIDIRS as the Hot Topic, authors Sheena Byrom and Anna Byrom

The questions asked were:

1. Do you use social media for professional reasons?

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2. Please indicate your profession

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3. In what country do you currently reside in?

Respondents were from Australia, Brazil, Canada, England, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland, USA, UK, Wales.

4. Which social media network do you prefer?

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5. How often to you log into social networks?

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6. If Facebook is your preferred network, what are the benefits to your professional role?

These included widely used, networking, sharing, support, with a significant amount using private communication through closed groups. Even though the question wasn't asked, several respondents mentioned the fear of  recrimination.

'Posting information to my audience, getting them involved by comments. They get to know me and recommendations come from being known' Participant 2

7. If Twitter is your preferred network, what are the benefits to your professional role?

Benefits included fast responses, more professional than Facebook, access to wide network of individuals and groups,  connecting with other professionals, flattened hierarchy (access to leading professionals), support, sharing, global contacts, easy to use.

'Enables conversation - debate - information and knowledge exchange- encourages active student engagement - modelling professionalism - relationship building and networking' Participant 161

8. Please rank the benefits of your social media use


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9. Please give examples of how social media has helped you in your professional role.

The responses further elaborated on the above factors,

'Connecting with health professional who have enabled me to reflect and learn Increasing my professionalism Enabling me to have a voice and communicate my value' Participant 98

'It helped launching CenteringPregnancy in the Netherlands! Connections with obstetrians outside my area. Enlarged my view on midwives, emancipation, women, public health etc' Participant 107


I would like to sincerely thank all those who participated in the survey.