More Than Words

The law of attraction…….

Some of you will have heard of this and perhaps already apply it to your day-to-day life.  If you are one of those who haven’t heard about it, let me explain it a little for you.

Essentially, the law of attraction is when we are able to create and draw things in to our lives that we focus on. Some people talk about it in a way of the universe granting wishes, others talk about it in a way that means you are so focussed on what you want, that you pick up on all of the little opportunities that will help lead you to this.

Either way, this works in both the positive and the negative. Put very simply; say you’re approaching some traffic lights that are currently on green. As you approach, you begin thinking, “stay green, stay green, stay green”. This is a positive visualisation. If you approach thinking, “don’t turn red, don’t turn red, don’t turn red”, then the focus is on the negative red colour.

Now I’m not saying you have the power to change traffic light signals but you do have the power to influence your birth experience, as well as other people’s experiences.

The conscious and subconscious minds are affected quite differently by language and words. If we look at young children, up to the age of 6ish, they do not have the capability to reason. When they are jumping around on the sofa and you keep saying “don’t jump on the sofa!”, they’ll keep jumping on the sofa. This isn’t because they are trying to be defiant, but because their subconscious minds hear “DO jump on the sofa”. This is why parenting experts nowadays, suggest telling children what you do want them to do. So instead you would counteract with “let’s jump on the floor”. This shifts the focus on to the positive outcome and then everybody is happy. Well, unless in you’re in an upper floor flat with laminate flooring. That could be a very different story!

The reason I’m talking about all of this is so you can understand how a pregnant woman’s mind will work. Pregnancy can be a pretty worrying time for a lot of women. You find out you’re pregnant and all of a sudden there’s a whole list of things that you shouldn’t do and shouldn’t eat and every time you do something for the first time as a pregnant lady, you worry if it will harm your baby. Not to mention the portrayal of childbirth in tv, films and news coverage (as mentioned in my previous blog: No Expectations.

So it’s no wonder that most women are huge balls of anxiety by the time they reach labour and birth!

Pregnant women are highly suggestible so every midwife or consultant appointment, antenatal class, doula discussion or even a casual chat with friends, can leave her worrying and doubting over whether she is making the right decisions for her baby.

As a doula, I try to ensure that the women I care for are fully informed, so I do encourage them to explore all options around birth such as environment, type of birth, pain relief options etc, so that if things change, then it will be easier for the woman to cope with. However, I usually follow this up with talking about focussing on the positive choices.

As with the traffic analogy above, it’s the same with induction, for example. Say a woman is adamant that she does not want an induction. I will be encouraging her to focus on visualising a birth that doesn’t involve an induction, however she sees that happening. If she spends her days thinking, “I really don’t want an induction”, then it build up an element of fear around the birth and may increase the chances of it happening. By focussing on the positive, this keeps the woman in a positive frame of mind, rather than fearful or negative, which means she will be able to handle the situation better, should an induction be suggested. Such as asking for more information on risks and benefits, agreeing an alternative plan of action with her caregivers etc.

 

So that’s my advice on how mums-to-be can use the power of words to influence their birth. Now I need everybody else to take this information on board too!

A lot of women usually tell me that they spend a lot of time creating a positive mind set around birth, only for it to all come undone at the words of a well-intentioned, but negative thinking or thoughtless family member or friend.

I think that most women will be aware, that childbirth can be painful and I’m not saying to not tell women this (I think that would be pretty cruel!) but it’s important to not just tell them it’s going to hurt, or to tell them about your horrific experience or somebody else’s painful experience. By all means, please share your story but do so in an encouraging way. What did you find helpful? What did you find unhelpful? What would you have done differently? How can you help this expectant mother to have an awesome birth?

Think about how you use your words. Use them to empower, uplift and encourage. Share stories about positive birth experiences. Talk about the joy you feel when you hold your little one in your arms.

Be realistic, but don’t put fear in to women’s hearts. Childbirth can be an amazingly empowering and even euphoric at times and its important as women, that we support other women to achieve this experience. We’re all getting very good at supporting other women when it comes to business ventures or in life in general, but for some reason, this doesn’t seem to apply to childbirth.

YET!

Let’s change how we do this. Instead of competing to see who had the largest amount of stitches after birth, let’s share who felt the most amazing during birth. Instead of competing to see who had the longest labour, lets share who had a beautiful, uninterrupted first hour with baby after birth.

Just by helping a woman focus on what she wants, we can help eliminate any fear and give her courage to find ways to have her best possible birth experience.

Always remember to think before you speak.

C x

 

positive birth word cloud

(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman

Wow! What a big buzz and conversation about “natural birth” going on at the minute. 

I watched a debate on “This Morning” the other day, titled “Are women pressured not to use pain relief” which seemed to be based around the recent Instagram post by football coach Harry Kane. In his post, he gushed about how proud he was of his fiancée, Katie Goodland, for having an amazing waterbirth without using any pain relief (I’ll not point out to him that using a birth pool is a form of pain relief, bless him), finishing his post with the hashtag hypnobirthing. (Again, technically this can also be considered a form of pain relief). 

 

Anyway, they had two women on, discussing either side of the argument. Both are mums and one is also a hypnobirthing expert. The discussion got waaaaay too heated and got to the point that the presenter had to halt the discussion as both women were talking at the same time and you couldn’t tell what was being said. 

Our hypnobirthing expert kept trying to point out that it should never be the case that all women are expected to birth without medicinal pain relief, but it was about choice and what works for each woman. She also tried to reinforce the message about how important it is for women to properly prepare for childbirth by educating themselves on what to expect and what their options are (sound familiar?). However, our other lady kept repeating about how it doesn’t matter how you do it, as long as you get the baby out………….. 

 

I agree with the first part of this statement, it doesn’t matter how you give birth. However, it’s just as important that the mum comes through the process in one piece, just as much as the baby. If mum has gone through a traumatic birth where she felt utterly powerless and vulnerable, then she will not be in a great state of mind to begin looking after her newborn baby. 

 

What is important, is that we start having supportive conversations about pregnancy and birth and stop competing with each other. Over the last few years of being a birth worker, I’ve noticed that it seems to be the two complete opposite ends of the spectrum. When a woman announces to family and friends that she is pregnant, they seem to get one of two types of stories. 

 

The first are the horror stories. The mums who have done it already and seem to revel in the gory details with the winner seeming to be the one who had the most stitches. 

The other stories are the super birthers. The mums who managed to achieve an almost perfect zen like birth, making it feel like a benchmark for women to achieve with their own births. 

 

Both of these are genuine types of experiences for women. We need to stop criticising each other for having a different birth experience to other women. What is important, is that women feel supported, encouraged and in control and can aim for the type of birth they want to experience. And if, for some reason, that type of birth isn’t able to happen, then women need to know how to cope with that and be able to continue feeling in control of the situation.  

 

So instead of traumatising or pressuring women when they announce their pregnancy. Perhaps we should be congratulating and supporting their plans. Signposting to information we found useful or helpful. If somebody wants to birth with every drug under the sun, that’s for them to decide. If somebody wants to birth using only gas and air, that’s for them to decide. If somebody wants to only use hypnobirthing to cope during labour, that’s for them to decide. If somebody wants to birth in a stream with only a local badger to act as midwife, that’s for them to decide! Are you getting my point yet? 

 

Birth is about choice. It’s a personal choice for each woman and so telling somebody how to do it based on your own experiences is just not going to help. 

What will help, is making sure the pregnant woman knows how important it is to educate herself on her options. 

 

Knowledge is power people! 

 

C x 

 

knowledge-translation-and-exchange1

The Cure for Pain

Following on from my last blog about fear in childbirth, I though I’d have a look at pain relief options in labour, both medical and natural.

 

I kind of touched on the idea in my last blog about how your mindset can have an effect on your perception of pain but I wanted to start by looking at that a bit more closely.

 

If you’re scared, stressed or anxious, how does your body normally feel? I know that before I realise it, my shoulders end up at my ears and my jaw is tense. Now imagine trying to birth a baby through muscles that are tense and rigid. It sounds more painful doesn’t it?

 

Well, I hate to point out the obvious but it probably will be more painful.

 

Relaxing as much as possible during labour is one of the best ways to help reduce the pain or discomfort you’re feeling. Sure, that’s easier said than done when you’re waiting to push a baby out but there are other tactics to use with this.

 

Instead of waiting for and anticipating your next contraction, try to do something that will keep your mind occupied. One of the lovely women I worked with was sat on a birthing ball and using the bed to play a game of cards with her husband. I’ve also heard of a private obstetrician telling the women in his care that he would like them to bake a birthday cake for their little one once the labour begins so that they are distracted by simple and familiar tasks.

Think about it.

How many times have you cut or grazed your skin somewhere and not noticed it until much later in the day because you were busy doing whatever you were doing at the time?

 

As soon as you are able to switch off your “conscious brain” and allow your body to do its thing, you will instantly feel less pain and discomfort.

 

That’s the quickest and easiest way, now lets look at some of the other options available to you:

 

Doulas

Having continuous support in labour from someone that you trust has been shown through research, to reduce the requirement for pain relief as well as less interventions and better outcomes all round for mum and baby. For some reason, the research showed that the continuous support was most effective when it was provided by someone who was neither a member of hospital staff or within the woman’s normal social network.. Obviously I’m going to advocate for every woman to have a doula, we’re wonderful things to have. But there are some important things to consider before hiring a doula.

It’s important to meet a few different doulas before deciding who to hire as you need to be sure that you “click” and feel comfortable around them, not to mention trust them. The main risk here is if the doula is unable to attend your birth due to urgent personal circumstances. This is usually rare, and some doulas will also suggest a back-up doula to attend if she is unable to.

 

Hypnobirthing

I find the term “hypnobirthing” quite misleading as I think it gives the impression of hippy dippy chanting and OM’s which isn’t always everybody’s cup of tea. (I know the last time I was asked to chant “OM” during a yoga session that I spent the whole time trying not to giggle!) Hypnobirthing is more about giving you and your partner the tools to stay calm and focussed during birth. Everybody would have a much more positive birth if they used the tools and techniques from hypnobirthing classes. There’s so much more to tell you but I would have to dedicate a whole blog to it so go and have a wee read through “Why Hypnobirthing Matters” by Katrina Berry to find out more. It’s a fascinating little book and small enough to fit in a handbag too! (Always a win in my world!)

 

Keeping Active

Being able to freely move around during labour is another way to help ease discomfort. This allows you to find positions that are comfortable for you and also changes your mindset for taking an active role in your birth rather than passively lying on the bed. Different positions also help encourage baby’s head to put pressure on your cervix, which will trigger more oxytocin and prostaglandins to help your labour progress.

 

Heat/Cold

Having a hot water bottle or microwave heat pack can help soothe any discomfort felt in the lower back during contractions. Some women also prefer ice packs or frozen peas. Everybody is different. This is sometimes difficult to facilitate in a hospital setting depending upon the hospital policies so do try and find out in advance..

 

Aromatherapy

There are numerous essential oils, which can be used during labour to help with various issues. Whether you’re looking for a calming effect or something to help with nausea, there is an oil for everything. I would recommend consulting with someone who is trained in aromatherapy to check which oils are best and safe to use in pregnancy as some may have an adverse effect.

 

Massage

A great way to encourage relaxation, massage can be given by your partner, your doula or even the midwife if she is happy and comfortable to do so. Most women find very firm pressure in the lower back area the most useful for alleviating any discomfort during contractions. Massage can be combined with aromatherapy for better effect.

Some midwives and doulas will also do a “hip press” which is when they squeeze your hip bones together (usually while you are standing or on all fours) to take the pressure off your pelvis and try to open up the pelvic space.

Soft touch massage is also a way to trigger the release of more oxytocin. Gentle strokes of finger tips over your back and neck can help encourage the shy hormone.

 

Kissing/Masturbation

We’ve already mentioned how massage can be great at promoting oxytocin production. Following on from this, it makes sense that sensual kissing and even masturbation can also encourage an increase in the “love hormone”. While masturbation can still be a bit of a taboo subject, let alone doing it in the presence of a midwife or maybe doula, a lot of women feel that it can help initiate labour or help them relax during it. If the thought of clitoral stimulation is just too much for you, nipple stimulations has been found to have the same results.

As for the kissing, deep passionate kissing seems to work best. Some think that as your jaw relaxes during a kiss, it helps soften the rest of your body. Why not give it a try?

 

Laughter

They say laughter is the best medicine (I’m not sure who they are exactly) and they aren’t wrong! Having a proper giggle releases beta endorphins from the brain (the body’s own pain killer) and also helps you to relax. It can remove stress and anxiety from a situation and also means you’re ready to get “stuck in” so to speak when it’s time to birth your baby.

 

Dimmed lighting

As mentioned before, oxytocin is a shy hormone and having the lights dimmed, wherever you are having your birth (apart from outdoors, that could be tricky!) will help the good hormones flow and keep you “in the zone”.

 

Food and drink

Some hospitals in developed countries are still advising women not to eat or drink in labour. This began in the 1940s when women were being given chloroform or “Twilight Sleep” to make them unconscious during childbirth. This put them at risk of aspiration (the anaesthetic procedures were much less safe back then than they are now). However, research is now showing that it is important for women to be well nourished and hydrated during labour to ensure that you have the energy required for birth. Having a low blood sugar level also makes it harder to cope with the sensations you experience.

 

TENS Machine

These are little battery run devices which can usually be hired from places like Boots or Mothercare. There are small sticky pads which are placed on your lower back and once switched on, the machine sends electrical impulses to the nerves in that area. It is thought that these electrical signals interrupt the “pain” signals being sent to the brain and reduce the sensations of your contractions. This is all completely controlled by you which means you can increase the strength as your contractions increase in intensity and can boost it at the peak of contractions too. If the pads are not stuck in the right place, it can mean that you don’t get the full benefit of the TENS machine which will make you think it isn’t working. Ask a midwife for help or keep adjusting the pad location until you feel its working.

 

Self-Belief

As discussed earlier, your mindset going in to labour can make a big difference. Research has shown that women going in to labour with confidence are more likely to cope well with the experience.

 

Water birth

Using a birthing pool doesn’t mean you definitely have to give birth in the water. It can be used mainly for the labouring part as the weightlessness and warmth of the water can help relax the body and ease any tension. A bit like being cuddled by a giant hot water bottle. If you can’t get in a pool or bath, then some women find standing under a hot shower can have the same effect.

Research shows that women using birthing pools tend to use a lot less medical pain relief and are also less likely to tear in the water. Some women also feel a form of protection in a birthing pool as you are more difficult to reach or touch so they have to ask you permission more explicitly.

Some women who are considered “high-risk” will usually be discouraged from having a water birth due to increased risks of something going awry during the birth. However, as with everything in birth, this is your party so you get the final decision. If it’s something you would like to consider, make sure to discuss this with your midwife as early as possible to allow for planning. If you meet with any resistance then it’s worth asking to arrange a meeting with the Midwifery Manager at your local NHS Trust to discuss things further. (I’ll be writing another blog at some point regarding your rights in childbirth and how to negotiate the system to get the type of birth you would like)

 

Music

You can also use music during labour for a variety of benefits. A lot of hospitals now have CD or MP3 players, which means you can make up your own birthing playlists to accompany you. Check before you go in for labour and if not, take a little portable speaker with you.

Whether at home or at hospital or birthing centre, you can use the music to gently sway to in the early stages of labour. This can move the baby’s head over your cervix and encourage dilation as well as releasing more of those magical prostaglandins and oxytocin. You could also use music that provides you with happy memories and thoughts to help keep you in a positive place during birth.

 

So these are all the ways you can easily reduce your level of pain without using any medication whatsoever. As you can see for most of these options, the side effects or risks are minimal so you don’t really have anything to lose in trying them all!

Now lets have a look at your medicated pain relief options and discuss them further:

 

Paracetamol

Usually advised to take this when you’re in early labour before you attend hospital or have a midwife come to your home. Some women find it helps take the edge off while others don’t really notice an effect. There is currently a demand for further research on the effects of paracetamol on labour as the drug is known to make the production of prostaglandins more difficult and we all know by this point, the more prostaglandins the better! At the moment, anecdotal evidence suggest that it is causing women to have longer labours and perhaps even be a reason as to why more women are getting the “failure to progress” label in labour.

 

Gas and Air

Also called entonox, this is a combination of nitrous oxide and oxygen. Nitrous oxide is also called laughing gas as it can sometimes make people feel very giggly!

This can be used in the hospital or at home (as well as during a water birth) and is inhaled through a handheld mouthpiece. Inhalation means that you will feel the effects very quickly but the sensation, which will quickly stop again once you stop using it. This means if you try it and don’t like how it makes you feel, you can quickly and easily get back to “normal”. Some women report a very nauseous drunk feeling during the first couple of contractions of using entonox but this usually settles down. Having never tried it myself, I can only pass on descriptions I’ve heard women say during labour. Some have said it just makes them feel really drunk and out of control but they can still feel the pain and other find it works wonders and almost laugh their baby out!

The gas and air can cross the placenta and in to your baby’s blood stream but there is not known to be any negative effects on your baby.

 

Pethidine/Diamorphine

These are opioids and work by making you feel a bit drunk rather than actually stopping the pain. I remember one woman telling me she could still feel the pain but no longer cared about it. These are usually given to you by an injection in to your upper thigh. Some women find these a god send, especially if they have had an incredibly long labour and need a bit of a rest. Another woman I was looking after once fell asleep after having diamorphine and only woke up as her baby’s head was crowning!. The drawbacks here are if you don’t like the sensation it brings, you’ll have to wait until the effects wear off (usually between 2 and 4 hours). Opioids also cross the placenta which means that if you’ve had the injection quite close to the baby arriving, you will notice that they may be quite drowsy, can take a little longer to start breathing and can be a bit harder to establish breastfeeding.

 

Epidural

The one every woman demands for her birth in movies and tv shows! So much so, that most people think it is an absolute must for birth.

An epidural is a local anaesthetic, which is injected between the discs in your lower spine via a catheter which is then taped to your back. This means that the dose can be increased or decreased as required. Some hospitals also have patient controlled versions of this, which allows you to administer the dose yourself at set intervals (up to a maximum amount set by the anaesthetist). Research shows that when the woman is controlling her own pain relief with the epidural, she actually uses less than women who don’t have control. It is thought that having that element of control, allows women to feel more involved and in control of her birth.

The epidural is set up by an anaesthetist who will come to you and discuss all the risks in full before asking you to sign for consent. Sometimes there might be a delay in the anaesthetist attending if they are involved in another operative delivery. They will then get you to sit on the edge of your bed and raise this up to their comfortable working height. They will then ask you to curve your spine by leaning forward and pushing the bottom of your back out (a bit like a cat) and this will allow them to access the epidural space between the spinal discs, much more easily.

Some anaesthetists are able to give you a mobile epidural, which will leave you with enough sensation to still walk around. However, an epidural will typically mean that you are effectively numb from the chest down which will mean you will need to remain on the bed.

This is a massive benefit if you feel you are really not coping with labour and also does not directly affect the baby.

However, you should always be aware that having an epidural, does increase the chances of your birth ending up as forceps, ventouse (vacuum) or caesarean section. You will also usually need to have a catheter in to your bladder to help you urinate.

 

All of these medial pain relief options are usually offered in the order they are listed here. Rather than come in and demand an epidural from the off, midwives and doctors usually prefer you to see how you get on (as you never know what you are capable of if you don’t give it a bash!) but they cannot refuse to give you the medication unless it is medically unsafe to do so.

 

So as you can see, there is a whole load of things you can do to help reduce the pain of childbirth. The main thing to remember is that pain is personal. What worked for your friend or sister might not work for you. Only you will know what you want to do and when, but hopefully the ideas in the first part of this blog will help provide some options for you other than medication. And remember, it’s not a competition. If you’re feeling like you’re in agony and becoming distressed, don’t turn down pain relief just because somebody else you know didn’t use it!

 

All the best

 

C x

pain-relief

No Expectations

When I say GO, I want you to picture a typical scene of childbirth…….. Ready?

GO!

 

OK, lets start with where you were picturing…….. I’m guessing you imagined it taking place in a hospital?

What about who was there? Was the partner there? Was the woman being cared for by a midwife or doctor? More than one of a midwife and/or doctor?

Where is the woman in this scene? Lying back on a hospital bed?

What about pain relief? I would imagine you’ve pictured the woman desperately clinging to the gas and air and perhaps screaming for an epidural?

What sort of environment or atmosphere does this scene have? Is everybody running around frantically trying to do everything before the baby arrives? Does it seem stressful and scary?

What about the woman? Is she screaming at her partner for saying or doing the wrong thing? Is he terrified? Does it feel like everything is dramatically going wrong?

 

How did I do? Pretty close?

 

Why is this the typical description of childbirth?

I now want you to think about where this idea of childbirth comes from? Have you witnessed a birth like this in real life? Is this the description given to us by our family and friends? Have these images come from scenes in a television show or film?

 

Lets run through a typical film version of childbirth……

The woman is probably in the middle of doing some sort of day to day activity such as shopping, watching TV, cleaning and then her waters suddenly break with no warning whatsoever. Cue the crazy and dramatic rush to the hospital (imagine the scene from Bridget Jones’ Baby with Colin Firth and Patrick Dempsey actually carrying Bridget to the hospital before plonking her down on the reception desk). Next she’s rushed up to a labour room in a wheel chair, quickly changed in to a hospital gown and up on the bed on her back. She becomes hysterical, demanding pain relief, writhing in agony, screaming through contractions, screaming at her partner that it’s all his fault. She’s pushing as soon as her bottom hits the bed and with a few good “bear down and push until your face turns purple” pushes, the baby appears and all is well again!

 

So why is birth always shown this way?

The key to this is drama. Drama is what hooks viewers in. Drama has you on the edge of the seat, popcorn tumbling out of your open mouth as you stare at the screen in shock.

 

Well I hate to burst the drama bubble but real life isn’t usually that dramatic. Even the reality series “One Born Every Minute” is heavily edited to show us the most exciting bits and the bits that make you go “awwwww”.

 

Our other source of fear around childbirth comes from the near constant drip feed of horror stories from news outlets. These can be stories about mum and/or baby nearly dying during birth, staff negligence, overcrowded labour wards, the woman giving birth in the car or hospital car park.

 

Sadly these things can and do sometimes happen but its really isn’t that common. Why are we seeing all these stories and none about the relatively quiet and calm homebirth that Susan in Falkirk had last week? Again: drama sells!

 

Unless you’re a birth worker, you’re probably not going to get excited about an article describing a “straightforward” birth where everything goes to plan, mum doesn’t become distressed or use any pain relief.

 

Birth might not always be dramatic or exciting, but it is awe inspiring, moving, emotional and simply amazing!

 

So why is it important to change this perception?

 

Having a fear of childbirth can have an impact on the birth before you’re even in labour.

For example, if you are stressed and anxious, this can cause your blood pressure to rise. This might then mean that you end up on a “high risk” pathway, which means your care will be led by a doctor rather than a midwife. This in turn then means that you will be more likely to have unplanned interventions during labour and birth.

 

If you’re scared and anxious during labour, this causes your body to start producing adrenaline as part of the “fight or flight reflex”. Back when we were cavewomen, this was useful to stop labour in it’s tracks if we felt unsafe or under threat from predators. Now however, these age old instincts can be triggered just by travelling from home to hospital or remembering that birth horror story that your friend’s, sister’s, boyfriend’s auntie told everyone at the last family get together.

 

Unfortunately, adrenaline stops the body from producing oxytocin (sometimes known as the love hormone), which contributes to a better birth. Oxytocin is also sometimes called the shy hormone as it is produced best by the body when it is in a dimly lit, relaxed environment when the woman feels safe and loved. (Interestingly, this is the hormone that is released in a massive surge after sex and promotes love and bonding. It seems a wonderful design by mother nature that the hormone involved with getting baby in there in the first place is the same one that is best to help it out again!)

 

The magical cocktail of oxytocin, relaxin and beta-endorphins (all produced naturally by the body) is designed to make childbirth as pleasant an experience as possible.

The gradual build up of contractions allows the body to prepare for the next increase of intensity.

Believe it or not, you do not need to actively and consciously push! Your body will guide you and push your baby out. It has been documented that women have given birth naturally whilst in comas!

The production of relaxin allows the joints and ligaments of the pelvis to soften and loosen, creating more space for baby to be born.

AMAZING!

It’s as if the female body was designed to give birth………..

 

This is only part of how the body instinctively prepares for birth. If it’s something you find interesting, I would highly recommend reading Chapter 4 of “Childbirth Without Fear” by Grantly Dick-Read (I have a copy if you’d like to borrow it).

 

So how else can we combat this fear of childbirth and vanquish the terror and fear that is expected of us by so many?

 

Empowerment and positivity!

 

Having a positive birth isn’t necessarily about everything going to plan. Birth is a very unpredictable event and unfortunately, we can’t pass on the birth plan to the baby. It is about having an active role in the decisions made around your birth.

 

The best way to get involved is to read around any of the topics that are relevant to you. Familiarise yourself with decisions that you will likely be faced with on your journey.

“The Positive Birth Book” by Milli Hill has a fantastic checklist in it to help you create a visual birth plan. This is a great way to make sure that everybody involved in your birth is aware of your wishes.

Going through the checklist also helps to consider all of the options ahead of time rather than having to make quick decisions when you are in a more vulnerable position.

Make decisions based on what you feel is best for you and your family. Ask why a certain procedure is being recommended or not recommended for you. Gather as much information as possible about risks and benefits and make the decision that feels right for you.

Above all else:

 

Trust your body and your instincts!

 

If you’d like to read some lovely positive birth stories, go check out www.tellmeagoodbirthstory.com

There are some beautiful stories of all different types of birth to help inspire and empower you.

Also please do take the time to check out www.positivebirthmovement.org and help change our perception of childbirth.

Hope you can help spread the positivity!

C x

Knowledge

Heart and Soul

“What do you do for a living?”, is quite an open question. To do something for a living implies to me that you eat, sleep, drink, breathe your chosen “living”.

 This is true of doulas.

Whether we are on call, phones stuck to our hands, ready to spring in to action from the moment you ask us to come, or reading through our next book to expand our wealth of knowledge on pregnancy and birth, we are living as doulas, 24/7.

If you ask a doula about her job, she will gently tell you that it is not a job. It is her passion, her calling.

Doulas love to doula.

When explaining what I do to someone who has never heard of a doula before, I sometimes get the response “Oh nice, so you turn up for the birth, make sure everybody is happy and then walk away with your fee?”

Oh no no no, it is so much more than that!

Once we have met, I will be thinking about everything you told me at our first meeting. What kind of birth does she want? How can I help her achieve this? Does she want a hippy zen kind of experience or is she looking more for guidance, support and an advocate? What makes her scared? What makes her excited? What information can I share with her to help her make decisions? Does her birth partner need my support too? What tools should I put in my doula bag for her?

I will be helping create your birth plan, making you aware of potential obstacles and how to negotiate around them. I will be signposting you towards information and support that is relevant and safe for you. I’ll be constantly consulting my hive of a doula network for extra tips and advice to bring even more knowledge to your birth. I will be answering the questions you text me that have been worrying you for days but you felt like they were too silly to ask. I’ll be there to keep reminding you that you can do it and you can own it!

Once you text or call to say that you are starting to have mild contractions, I’ll be ready to come when asked. As you pace about your home during early labour, I’ll be pacing mine, mentally planning and preparing, hoping that you get the birth experience you desire. Once I’m with you, I am completely with you. By your side until you are ready for me to leave. My instincts tell me when to go all out protector and implement your wishes with those attending your birth, or whether to melt in to the background allowing you to focus on you and your body and your partner.

I’ll keep you smiling, nourished, watered and empowered to be the birthing goddess you know you can be. I’ll keep coaching you through your contractions, wishing I could take some of the load for you. We’ll breathe through them together, one surge at a time. I’ll encourage your partner to get involved in the process (if he is comfortable) and show him how to help you through. I’ll sense your partner’s emotions: excitement/anxiety/elation/fear/wonderment and guide them too.

I’ll feel your joy and raw emotion as your baby arrives in to this world and I’ll spend the next half hour telling you how amazing you are, how incredible you did and how beautiful your baby is, and I’ll mean it. I’ll quietly cry when you do and when your partner does and I’ll feel all of the emotions that arrive when your baby does.

I’ll stay with you until you no longer need me, quietly taking my leave, contemplating your birth as I drive home again. I’ll be available to give advice and support from the moment you arrive home as a new family until you’re happy and confident in your abilities as a mother. I’ll visit with a different doula bag, bringing supplies to help you enjoy your babymoon. I’ll coo over your little bundle of joy and tell you again how amazing you were during your birth. We’ll talk about your birth over a cup of tea and I’ll answers your questions about anything you didn’t understand or were concerned about.

And when the time comes that you no longer need me, I’ll give you all a big cuddle and say my goodbyes. And although I’ll be leaving you, you’ll never really leave me. You and your family will forever be part of my heart and soul and your birth will always stay with me.

A doula puts her heart and soul in to caring for and supporting you and your family. Expect nothing less from us and never feel like you’re asking too much of us. Being a doula is a calling and a passion. When we eventually discover this passion, we realise that we were always meant to be right here doing just this.

Heart and Soul image

RESPECT (find out what it means to me!)

I want you to imagine that you are pregnant, towards the end of your pregnancy but not quite at the “magical” 40 weeks gestation. Now imagine that after a routine antenatal appointment with the midwife, you were sent up to the hospital to be diagnosed with pre-eclampsia. (For those of you who aren’t sure what exactly that is, click here to find out).

A doctor comes to discuss the diagnosis with you and tells you that your labour must be induced straight away, as there is a risk to you and your baby. After careful consideration, you decide to go against the doctor’s recommendation as you feel well and the check on the baby has shown that the baby is also well. The doctor is clearly unhappy with this decision and goes away to update your notes. Before you know it, you are being detained under the Mental Health Act (even though you are not suffering from any mental illness and are deemed competent to make decisions) and a judge allows the decision to perform a caesarean section, against your wishes.

How would you feel?

This is an extreme example of the violation of human rights in childbirth. As shocking as it sounds, this did actually happen. Later, an appeal court found that the woman’s autonomy had been violated and that she had been detained against the law.

“A competent pregnant woman can refuse treatment, even if the refusal might result in harm to her or her unborn child”.

So many women are just not aware that they have the right, the human right, to make their own decisions about the care they receive during pregnancy and childbirth. The absolute majority of women are only trying to make the choices that are good for them and their babies during pregnancy and birth and there is no one else better placed to make that decision. I once overheard a conversation between a midwife and a doctor where the midwife was explaining the woman’s birth choices to the doctor, who replied with “This is her first baby. How can she possibly know what is best in this situation”. This still really upsets me!

Occasionally, women do get it wrong, just as the medical professionals sometimes do. No childbirth is completely without risk but this risk is usually very small in the developed world. I recently came across new research published by the Lancet that shows that statistically, your birth partner is more likely to die during your pregnancy than you are.

Causes of death

By ensuring women have access to honest and evidence based information, we allow them to choose which risks they are prepared to take and so make the best decisions for them.

The Association for Improvements in Maternity Services (AIMS) is a fantastic organisation that helps to provide access to research and evidence around maternity care. Click here to read one of their journal articles called Challenging the Medicalisation of Birth.

The AIMS website can be found here, whilst another useful website called Evidence Based Birth, also provides a fantastic amount of information around birth choices.

So why are human rights in childbirth so important? Society nowadays sees women commonly treated as the means for the production of a baby. Sure, we are now voting, allowed to work and have our own rights as women, but we still see the woman’s rights diminished or neglected in preference of the baby’s needs.

“What a traumatic birth you had! But the baby is ok, that’s the main thing”

Is it?

I realise it might be a bit controversial to even ask that but bear with me on this. Evidence shows that women who have a negative experience of childbirth, report a profound impact on how they feel about themselves. Sure, you have a happy healthy baby and that is incredibly important to you and to most of us. But if your choices have been ignored during a traumatic birth, your decisions taken away from you and you end up taking a passive role during the experience, then you can end up feeling like a victim of what happened to you. Birth trauma is only recently becoming more widely recognised with some women even being diagnosed with PTSD. Now think about what you already know about sufferers of PTSD. Do you really think they are able to care for a newborn? The woman and her unborn baby are often classed as separate beings but in fact, they are symbiotic organisms, only separated by birth.

Sadly, our obstetricians have no training in human or civil rights and the fear of litigation can cause doctors to forget about these human rights when women act against their advice. This is when doctors start to practice defensively, meaning that they try to control birth so to minimise any risks, sometimes intervening in the natural processes which ends up creating a cascade of interventions that are usually unnecessary. As midwives are the experts in “normality” and low-risk births, most obstetricians have only experienced complicated or high-risk births. So from their experience, every birth is high risk.

This could be easily remedied by having junior doctors shadow midwives for some of the shifts during their rotation in to obstetrics. Dr Amali Lokugamage, a consultant obstetrician, is very aware of women’s autonomy and feels that mandatory training in human rights would help to solve the issue. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to be prioritised as the NHS is severely underfunded and any training, costs money.

When women make choices in childbirth, they are not doing so to make a political statement. Choice in childbirth is a basic human right and the current hot topic in maternity services in the UK.

Does making a choice only count if women make the “right” choice of homebirth or a midwife led unit?

What about the first time mum requesting an elective caesarean section due to an overwhelming fear of dying during childbirth?

What about the woman requesting an early induction as she is aware that a depressive episode is looming as the pregnancy continues?

What about the woman who has requested an abortion because she has found out that her unborn baby has a medical condition that means it is incompatible with life outside the womb?

It is still illegal to have an abortion in the Republic of Ireland. Women either have to travel across to Scotland or England to request an abortion, or else they resort to home abortions or back-street surgeries, often unhygienic and unsafe. A campaign has been running for some time now, called Repeal the Eighth, which is a call to repeal the 8th Amendment to the Constitution of the Republic of Ireland. If you would like to help bring about change, please click the link above and sign the petition and help spread the word!

Having somebody to support women during pregnancy and childbirth who is trained and experienced, helps empower women to take control of their birth experience. Women’s desire to have continuity of carer is becoming evident from the increasing use of independent midwives and doulas. Doulas are able to support choice in childbirth as they are there to share knowledge and support, empowering women to make the decisions best suited to them.

Don’t believe me? Then check out the evidence below on why doulas are so awesome!

 

Plenty for you to think about until next time!

C x

Who runs the world? Girls!

Wow! Has it really been nearly 2 months since my last post? I honestly don’t know where the time goes! I had planned to write this straight after my weekend at the Doula Preparation Workshop but yet again, the weeks have escaped me and now here we are, mid May already!

There’s so much to tell you about the workshop that I’m going to have to take my time and make sure I don’t forget anything!

Firstly though, I want to apologise for the length of time that has passed since my last post. April was pretty manic and just flew by in no time at all! I honestly can’t remember if I mentioned it or not in a previous post but way back in December, I thought it would be a good idea to organise a charity ceilidh for my 30th which took place on the 14th April, 3 weekends before my actual birthday. In the end, it was a fantastic night with a great amount raised for charity, but the 2-3 weeks leading up to it were so stressful with last minute changes and hitches. It really took its toll on my body with breakouts and an IBS flare up (which has been mainly under control since finishing uni) and just general fatigue and restlessness. Annoyingly, because my body had started to get used to this stressful state, I was mega anxious in the couple of days before the workshop, getting worried about silly things like what food to take to share and whether I’d be “too clinical” to fit in. All completely unnecessary and possibly a little neurotic!

Anyhoo, I’ll start from the beginning now.

Sheila Kitzinger was an anthropologist who is known as being “the high priestess of natural childbirth”. She has written many books during her lifetime which I would highly recommend reading, but the one I have gained most from, so far, is “The Politics of Birth”. Kitzinger looks at childbirth around the world and discusses how politics and the developed world has impacted on the natural processes of childbirth. When you look at pregnancy and childbirth throughout history and across the globe, it has such a spiritual connection. It is also woven in to the various religions around the world too with many different beliefs and traditions shaping the pregnancy and birthing journey to parenthood.

I’ve managed to find a short list of some cultures and traditions which you can read by clicking here. As you can see, most of the cultures are based around nurturing both the woman and her newborn in the early postnatal period.

Now, I would describe myself as a semi-spiritual agnostic with an open mind and respect for other people’s beliefs but before the course, I was a little worried that it would be too “hippy” for me and that my “logical” mind would find it too outlandish to get much out of it. Seriously, I had a full conversation with my other half about it and whether he thought I would cope with it. (Thankfully he’s a lot less neurotic than me and believes that I’ll cope with anything!)

Well as you can probably guess, I had nothing to worry about. (I’m going to call our course leader Dinah just for the sake of anonymity.) Dinah was freakin’ awesome! Being the neurotic person I am, I ended up arriving pretty early (had left super early to make sure I could find a parking space and then find her home) and she welcomed me in like a friend. The rest of the girls arrived in dribs and drabs and then we began the breastfeeding workshop. I probably didn’t need to do this part of the course following my studies and experiences in uni but I wanted to try and gain some more confidence in my skills. I’m so glad I did.

The afternoon was spent discussing each of our experiences with breastfeeding; whether as someone who has assisted, someone who has breastfed their own child or even someone who has only observed breastfeeding. We discussed our thoughts and feelings towards it and then at the end of the session, Dinah answered any specific questions we had in relation to breastfeeding.

The Saturday and Sunday were both spent focussing on pregnancy, birth and the early postnatal period. The workshop took place in such a relaxing environment that I almost forgot we were learning. Although I had the “medical” knowledge of childbirth, I gained so much more knowledge around the more holistic ways that I can support women and their families during this period. At all times, Dinah made us feel like we could do and achieve anything we set our minds to. She was like a steady fountain of calmness, wisdom and courage, gently guiding the conversations to make sure we covered the content required.

Although I had never met any of the other women on the course before the weekend, I left feeling as though I had known them for so much longer. I enjoyed hearing of their own experiences and plans and shared in their excitement as they talked about their futures as doulas.

The course, and the weeks that followed, have reminded me how important it is to have a strong circle of women in your life. Although we are all different, women understand women. We can learn from our differences and build on our similarities. I am lucky to have so many strong women in my life who help me to be the best version of myself possible.

Back to my doula life now though. I have now bought a web domain and am starting to build up my website which is so exciting! (and very time consuming!). Hopefully, if I pull my finger out, I can launch this next month and start actively advertising my doula services.

I also have a few ideas in the pipeline on extra doula related activities but I’m keeping those under wraps for now. I feel like now I’m passed the big 30th birthday, I have renewed sense of identity and purpose and a lot more determination!

Anyway, I’ve written enough for today. I’m off to write some more website content! Hopefully I won’t leave it so long until next time.

C x

Girls!

A Letter to 12 Year Old Me

Dear 12 year old me, 

As I have just discovered, we are still rubbish at starting off new writings, like letters or blogs (a blog is like a diary but for some reason, instead of keeping it hidden, we now put it on the internet so that the whole world is able to read it). I wanted to write this letter to you to tell you that primary school was easy peasy compared to the years ahead but please don’t worry. We are about to turn 30 and we’re still alive, we are still happy and still relatively sane. 

To begin with, I just wanted to let you know that the world is not gone to end at midnight at the end of this year and that little gooey alien egg toy won’t miraculously open it’s eyes either. Seriously. It’s just a lump of goo! Also, while we’re on the subject of toys, give up on your Tamagotchi pet. Nothing happens. It just continues to eat and poop and sleep.

When you start high school in a few months time, you’ll be pretty nervous but don’t be. Enjoy these years as this is when you’ll learn who you are as a person. It’ll be easy to stick with the “in-crowd” and be just like everybody else but please don’t lose yourself. You are a wonderful human being and I know you always want to make everybody happy but sometimes they don’t always deserve it. You are very sensitive to people’s moods and emotions so you will try your best to make them smile and you will find it incredibly frustrating and upsetting with the bullying that will come your way but hold your head up high and don’t let them stop you being you.

Don’t worry about fitting in with other people and hiding your quirks. Your quirks are what make you stand out from the crowd and that’s not a bad thing, although right now, you probably can’t think of anything more horrifying! When I think of all the successful people in the world right now, they are all uniquely themselves. Different from the crowd and not afraid to do something new. Be bold! Be brave! Push yourself out of your comfort zone! It took us a while to do that (we’re still not even all the way committed to it but we’re getting there!) but it’s worth it.

Don’t stress about being accepted in to the little social groups in school and in life. If you’re happy with who you are and just as content in your own company then you will find that people will naturally be drawn to you. You’ll find that your kindness, steadiness and confidence in others will be something people need in their lives. Know that you are these things and don’t apologise for them. Don’t be scared to tell people that these are some of your best qualities. The world is quick to criticize when you’re not good enough but even quicker to criticize you when you think you are.

Don’t worry about a plan for your life. I’ve learned that the more you plan, the harder it is to stick to as life has a tendency to throw curve-balls at you and knock everything off course. Have a rough idea of what you want to achieve if you must, but learn to go with the flow and recognise opportunities when they appear in front of you. One of the most important things I’ve learned so far is to do what makes you happy. Don’t just go along with the plan of high school, university, career for life. Don’t do what other people think you should do. When you get there, you’ll be the one doing the job, not the other people, and if you’re not happy doing it, it’s an endless grind of 9-5 misery. Find your passion, do what you care about and do what makes you happy.

You’re not going to be married at 30, (hell, you don’t even own your own home!) but that’s ok. Don’t settle. You deserve someone who makes you want to be the best possible version of yourself but still loves you when you’re far from it too. Hold out for someone who will make you laugh, make you feel amazing about yourself and who 100% completely and utterly gets you. Although it’s nice to have someone tell you you’re good enough, don’t rely on it. Tell yourself daily that you are good enough, and you absolutely are! Nobody has the right to tell you that you aren’t good enough or that you can’t do something. If they do, be more determined to do it!

Some quick little nuggets of advice:

Look after yourself both physically and mentally. Take time out for yourself and life will be easier to deal with.

You’re going to end up with braces later on in high school. It is not the end of the world and is totally worth it. You’ll end up with an amazing smile that always gets compliments.

Boys are going to come and go in your life and you’ll have your heart broken on more than one occasion but learn from them, don’t regret them. In fact, don’t regret anything. Everything that happens makes you in to a better person!

Find happiness in the simple things in life. Don’t strive for the “perfect life”. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t exist.

Tell the people that you care about that you do actually care about them. Don’t take anyone for granted as you never know when they will leave your life.

Computers and reading books and generally being nerdy is considered cool now so keep enjoying them! Also, get started reading those Harry Potter books. They will teach you more about life than you realise……..

Lots of love,

Your happy-most-of-the-time, 29 year old self

Knowing Me, Knowing You (Aha)

Yes! Yes, I absolutely did just quote an Abba song for the title of this post. Or if you are into your niche comedy, Alan Partridge (thanks S for inflicting your weird taste in TV shows on me!). This post is loosely linked to doulaing but more about knowing yourself and being happy with who you are. Sorry to disappoint if you were hoping for an Abba or Alan Partridge tribute post. You should probably stop reading now if that’s the case. I don’t really feel like I know enough about either to dedicate a whole blog post to them.

Anyway, I am digressing already, and I’m only just on to paragraph two! These last couple of weeks have been a bit weird for me. My self-doubt has come creeping back in and so I feel like I’ve kind of retreated into my safe place; my own head……… I don’t think anyone else would find it a safe place. It’s weird in there sometimes! So yeah, I had a random little dream a couple of weeks ago where I was doing a bank shift as a midwife. It was a stressful shift but my dream self seemed ok with that. When I woke up, I had this massive fear that I have made the wrong choice. It left a knot in my stomach for a couple of days but stupidly, I didn’t really talk to anyone about it. (I guess this blogging is now partially my off-loading / therapy). For those few days, I was pretty distant, going backwards and forwards in my head about whether I should try bank midwifery to keep my hand in, so to speak. However, even just the thought of doing a shift as a midwife now fills me with fear and I start to feel a bit stressy. Added on to this is a small fear that I’m not the right type of person to be a doula. Am I confident enough to act as an advocate? Am I relaxed enough to promote a calm persona and environment? Am I even likable enough to be able to book clients? What if I’m totally going down the wrong route and should stick to a nice easy, 9-5 type desk job?? Arrrrghhhhh!!

It seemed, for a time, that nearly everyone I know has their s**t(sorry mum)  together. I felt so envious that these people in my life had made plans and stuck to them and were so………. well……. together.

Well! Guess what! It’s not always the case. In a society that is now so dominated by social media and perfection, it’s easy to feel like you’re the only one wandering through life, hesitating at every fork in the road, sometimes considering returning to the previous fork because that seemed like an easier time. I guess I’ve kind of known it for a while now, but it’s only really sunk in during this last week. The social media version of a person is very different to the person who is known by their friends and family. And that person is also completely different to the person you are when you are alone. We live in a culture of perfection. The perfect life, the perfect body, the perfect home, the perfect family. But who gets to decide whether these things are perfect enough? Who is setting the gold standard of perfection? Psssst! The answer should be you!

Why do we put so much effort in to constantly trying to make ourselves and our lives perfect when actually, it really is the imperfections and flaws that make us more interesting. (I was going to say beautiful there, but that was borderline cliché!) Only you will know what is perfect for you. Life is way too short to spend it trying to be perfect for others but being unhappy with what you have. Love yourself! Love what you have! Be grateful for what you have in life rather than constantly yearning for what you don’t have. Somebody might be looking at your life and wishing theirs was as good as yours. I’ve realised that very few of us know what the hell we’re actually doing. Yeah some of us have a rough plan and usually stick to it, but that doesn’t mean there is no self-doubt involved.

A very wise man I know told me it’s about keeping opportunities available to yourself. Rather than the old adage “when one door closes, another door opens” he prefers to operate on the basis of “collect as many doors as possible so that you can go ahead and open each one as and when the time is right”. A pretty good life tactic I think! Plus, I really like the idea that you’re going and opening the doors yourself rather than waiting for them to open them to open for you. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Linking back to my doula life crisis; it’s another door to add to my collection. I don’t know how things are going to pan out until I try it. But I know that if I don’t try it, I’ll always be wondering if I would have been any good at it. And as long as I keep collecting doors as I go, I will always have other opportunities available. Some will be great alongside doula life and others might be an alternative but I just have to burst through each door and go with it. I have to go with what makes me happy and I know for sure, that for me, happiness does not lie in being a midwife. I’m hoping this cathartic blog post will close and lock that door for me now but I suspect those little doubts will pester me every now and then. I just have to make sure that my certainties are louder and more bolshie (I love that word). To quote Alan Partridge: “Would it be terribly rude to stop listening to you and go speak to somebody else?” (For those Partridge fans that continued reading beyond my warning, well done for making it this far!).

So, stop worrying. You are you, and nothing can change that. You are going to do what you want to do, and what makes you happy, and nobody can change that either. I’m going to finish with a nerdy but very relevant quote from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: “Worrying means you suffer twice” – a very wise Newt Scamander.

So until next time, chill out and enjoy what you have!

C x

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It’s been a while…..

Happy New Year!

I realise January is almost at its end but I haven’t posted for a while. Things have been pretty hectic with work, family, life in general. But so far, 2017 is kicking 2016’s ass!

So I turn 30 this year (I know, I know, I’m still in denial!) and I had been thinking about having a big shindig to celebrate. However, I thought it would be nicer to have a charity ceilidh instead. So I’ve been busy venue viewing, ticket and advert creating, band booking and menu planning since the end of last year. Thankfully, I now have the main details pinned down and can start selling my tickets! I’m so excited!

I have decided to raise money for two charities. The first one is the Doula UK Access Fund. This is a fund that enables vulnerable women to use the services of a doula. The second charity is the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. This is a cause quite close to me as one of my relatives has a child affected by cystic fibrosis. The trust is continuously looking for a cure and always working on ways to minimise the symptoms. I contacted both charities to see if they had any information leaflets they could provide for the event. They have been amazing. Not only have they sent leaflets, I also have balloons, badges, banners etc! Anyway, that’s all happening on the 14th April so I’ll have to work my toosh off making sure I sell enough tickets.

My next awesome news is that I’m booked on a doula workshop at the end of April! (It’s going to be a busy month!) I’ve been looking over the reading list and wow! I have a lot of reading to work my way through! Although I was a little pleased that I already have some of the books so that should help. I can’t wait to get started. The whole ethos of the course feels like just what I’m looking for.

On to a slightly weighty topic now (sorry for the change in tempo but I have a lot I want to talk about). For those of you who aren’t aware, the NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council) have recently made the decision that the private indemnity insurance used by IMUK (Independent Midwives UK) for their members, is no longer adequate. This means that the independent midwives have had to immediately cease providing midwifery care during childbirth, leaving hundreds of women to find last minute alternative care for their births.

Women choose to have an independent midwife for a variety of reasons. They may have felt let down with a lack of continuity of midwife in a previous labour. They might be looking for a home birth and their local health trust may not be able to facilitate that choice. They might have had a previous traumatic delivery and feel they need complete one on one support. Whatever the reason, women have the right to a choice. A choice in their place of birth. A choice in how they are treated. A choice in what happens to their body. A choice in what happens to their baby.

When you look at some of the decisions the NMC have made recently in relation to midwifery practice, then it would seem that women’s choice is not too if their agenda.

1. Going forward, there will be no midwives on the the NMC which regulates the role and sets standards by which midwives are judged. This means that midwives will be required to work to a set of standards which are set for an entirely different profession.

2. In March this year, the role of Supervisor of Midwives (SoM) will cease to exist. They will be replaced by managers who are unable to go against health board policies. SoMs had the capacity to act as a mediator between women and health boards. For example, if a woman has been recommend to have an induction by her doctor but she doesn’t wish to have one, an SoM can make sure the woman is fully informed about all the risks and benefits of her choices and is able to negotiate around strict hospital policies. Something which the managers will not be able to do.

3. Legislation is currently being put in place to protect the role of the midwife…….. “Well that’s good, isn’t it?” I hear you cry. Not really. It will only protect the role in assisting during childbirth. Not with antenatal and postnatal care. This means NHS trusts won’t be required to provide a midwife for antenatal and postnatal care. Midwives typically work in a higher pay bracket than nurses due to their requirement to administer certain drugs during childbirth. Will these trusts keep paying for midwives when they can use nurses and save some money?

So really, at the moment, it feels like the NMC is now just the NC, governing over a role entirely different to nursing. Surely a completely separate and independent board should be set up for midwifery? A board of midwives for midwives?

Unfortunately, women’s choice in childbirth will continue to be restricted until the women who use the services begin to speak up and demand choice. The way I see it, as things currently are, most women are not aware of the choices available to them unless they have been through a 3 year Midwifery Degree Course or in depth antenatal classes. This is one of the reasons I am keen to work and perhaps specialise as an antenatal doula, and run birth education classes. I am passionate about raising awareness of choice in childbirth so watch this space!

C x

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