Monday, 31 December 2012

Goodnight 2012. Good morning 2013.

Wow! 2012 is about to end.  

Had to happen really.  Time moves on.

So, what's ahead for 2013?  Well this year I will be doing more studying and writing.  I have a course that I'm in the middle of writing, but more of that in the New Year.  I have booked into MAMA Conference 2013 and am really looking forward to it.  This year I'm going up a day early and leaving the following day.  This will allow me to breathe and reflect on the things that I've heard and the people I've met, rather than rushing back home.  Of course one of my past clients has now booked me for a baby whose guess date is around then.  I have a fabulous back up doula on standby, but am praying that she births before I leave. 

Having seen the amazing affects of placental encapsulation, I have decided to train to become an encapsulist myself. I come at all things with a gentle sense of cynicism, and become the strongest of converts.  It will be an interesting time I think.

In May I will be attending Penny Simkin's FROM TRAUMA TO TRIUMPH: Understanding and Healing the Effects of Trauma and Sexual Abuse on Childbearing Women.  I'm looking forward to that. I wanted to go a Penny Simkin workshop a couple of years ago, but my on call status prevented me.  This time, if I'm on call, I will have to rely on a back up doula.  At the moment though, I will have just come off call.  Whatever happens, I do believe that we are at the births we are meant to be at.  

All of this study will start with a time of inspiration as I attend a You Inspire Me Community Meet up hosted by Corinna Gordon-Barnes.  A gorgeous sister doula, Maisie Hill told me about her and so I'm excited by it.

2012 was incredibly exciting for me.  I saw the physiological birth of twins, VBACs, HBACs, long slow labours and incredibly fast labours.  I'm looking forward to the births of 2013 and I'm looking forward to enhancing my knowledge and meeting more and more people within this amazing world of birth.

I wish you joy, health, happiness and laughter in 2013.  Happy New Year!

Monday, 24 December 2012

Christmas wishes

Suddenly it's Christmas again.

I've been off call for about 3 weeks now.  It's the longest I've been off call for ages.  I had two clients go into labour on the same day (back up at the ready) and the first gave birth just after 2pm and the second waited a couple more days.  Both births were what the women were hoping for.  The first a VBAC - Vaginal Birth After Caesarean, the second, a waterbirth, following a very long latent phase.  Both beautiful births.  Two happy families left behind me. Just the way I like it.

So what next for me?  Well 2012 is coming to a close.  It doesn't seem but yesterday that I was writing about my hopes for 2012.  Well, I wasn't disappointed.  I saw some amazing births.  What a privilege to be a part of them.  I know that I say that all the time, but I really really mean it.  What a privilege.  I am blessed amongst women.  I was invited to talk on blog radio with Empowered Papa.  Exciting times. 

So 2013 is knocking at the door.  And I know the wish that I have for this Christmas that I would love to see.  I want to see women have informed choice and informed consent about birth and I want them to hear the positive birth stories that are out there.  I will do my best to be a part of that grass roots birth movement.  I would love to see Agnes Gereb freed and for homebirth to be an option for all women across the world.  Human rights in childbirth is a cause close to my heart.  Well, birth is the field in which I work.  It doesn't take a genius to work out how much money would be saved if women were supported in their birthing choices, freeing up time and space for the women who need obstetric support.  We need the doctors and the specialists, but we need them for the women that need them, not every Tamsin, Dorothea and Harriet.  How can you give me the best Christmas present possible? (Why thank you very much).  Click on to the Freedom for birth link, join in the Positive Birth movement and tell your good birth story.  

And so from me and mine to you and yours... Have a wonderful Christmas and a joyous New Year

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Time to get positive

Recently I was told that a blog post I had written was rather negative, and it wasn't an unfair comment.  So I thought that I would write something more positive.  Of course much happened between then and now and I was spurred into writing about the plight of a local birthing centre.  That wasn't full of positives, but included positive births.  So now... well I absolutely have to share that there is something amazing that is happening.  There is a grass roots movement to offer positivity about childbirth.  Yes!  About childbirth and it's via a global network of free Positive Birth groups, linked up by social media.

I adore social media.  All of it.  It's such an amazing resource.  It enabled me to link up with Empowered Papa, Joe Valley via twitter.  We chatted last night on his blog radio.  It was great fun.  We've been chatting for over a year now and talking to Joe fills me with joy.  I love hearing his passion for dads and how he wants to know all about dads and their role within childbirth as well as parenting.  It seems a simple thing, but I like simple things.

So... why positive birth?  Well why not?  There is so much negative out there.  You only need to turn on the television to see scared, screaming women.  One Born Every Minute anyone?  Then there's the press.  How did you read that article?  Did it fill you with hope or with fear?  To date the best, fictional, tv birth that I've seen had the gorgeous Chizzy Akudolu, who plays Mo Effanga in Holby City in the role of the birthing mother.  There was no screaming, but it wasn't plain sailing.  She birthed standing up.  I stood and cheered when I saw it.  Yes!!!!  Finally, a fictional birth that looked like births I have seen.  My daughter's friend is here this evening.  He asked what I did and when I explained he said "You must get your hand squeezed tight while they scream".  This is birth to a 19 year old boy.  Hand squeezing and screaming.

When I meet with my ladies for the first time, I tell them... try not to let people tell you their birth stories until you have your own to share, because people seem to love to share the horror stories.  Find the positive birth stories.  Listen to them.  And here, to my absolute joy and delight is someone who has has that same thought and turned it into a new birth movement (yes, I know... it shouldn't be new, but in this current climate, it is).  I could go on and on (stop it at the back... I can see you), but I won't.  I shall let The Positive Birth Movement speak for itself.   

We are a grass roots movement, spreading positivity about childbirth via a global network of free Positive Birth groups, linked up by social media.

We aim to challenge the current epidemic of negativity around childbirth by bringing women together to -

Meet Up, Link Up, and Shake Up Birth.

Meet Up - Free, and local to you, find information about regular Positive Birth groups, gatherings and meetings.

Link Up - Join our larger groups in cyberspace to build a global network of shared expertise, power and positivity.

Shake Up - Challenge the culture of fear that surrounds birth, and empower women to approach birth differently.

Here's how to get involved:

If you are Pregnant...
Find your nearest Positive Birth Group -

If you are a Doula, Midwife, Birth Worker or just passionate about Positive Birth...
Set up a Positive Birth Group -
Add an existing birth discussion group to our growing network -

Either way...
Join us on Facebook
Join us on Twitter

And shake up childbirth!

Please send any enquiries, helpful information or suggestions to

Why not join in and let's see this grow.  

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The illusion of choice

This year I have been to some amazing births, I've been to some not so amazing ones, but one the whole... amazing!

I was filled with awe and a sense of wonder when I was at a totally physiological birth of twins within a West London hospital.  This wasn't an easy thing to achieve, but with some determination, good information and great communication, it was achieved to the joy of the parents, babies, medical staff and doula.

I've been privileged to be at the East London homebirth of a second child.  The first was born after a very long and difficult, medicalised hospital birth.  Homebirth was not on this couple's initial agenda, but made plenty of sense to them as they wanted to avoid many of the interventions they had experienced the first time.

I was recently at a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean) in an East London where mum had held lots of anxieties, particularly after the birth of her first.  This VBAC left mum ecstatic as she had lost faith in her body's ability to birth a child.

I supported a couple through a long, slow labour that culminated in the birth of a gorgeous boy in water at a West London birth centre, staffed with the most incredibly loving midwives.

I could list all of the births that I was privileged to be at this year, but that would take some time and I would drift off into memory and not get this much neglected blog written.  I simply wanted to share that not all of the births that I attend are within hospitals.  

What has spurred me on to write today is the shocking news that the Homerton Homebirth Team has been reduced from six amazing midwives to four.  One has been removed from the team without her consent, the other is leaving and will not be replaced.  The midwife that has been removed, Angela Barry, was the reason one of my ladies (not mentioned above) had a wonderful VBAC in hospital.  Angela, who had visited her at home, talked with her about her homebirth and hospital options and been instrumental in bringing calm and banishing fear from her birth.  

Why is it shocking?  There has been no consultation process with the midwives in question, no consultation process with the women that they support, nothing mentioned at the MSLC (Maternity Liaison Services Committee) and, to date, no clear rationale as to why this very popular service has been reduced.  There is no lead in time for this and so women are suddenly left unsupported as planned through the remainder of their pregnancies and the subsequent births of their babies.  I dread to think what will happen during the postnatal period, a time where more and more women are being told to go into Children's Centres rather than have a midwife visit them at home.  Remember that this is a time when they should be resting and recovering from the birth process, not shlepping over to Children's Centres.  (Did that sound a little miffed?  Wow! I'm getting better at holding my disgust in).

I am advised that at a level of 4 team members it will be impossible for the Homerton to guarantee a 24 hour/7 days a week homebirth service. This will make a real difference to the choices available to women in Hackney and also is a likely indicator of a lack of investment by the Trust in providing choice and continuity of care to the women of Hackney, wherever they choose to give birth. It is particularly worrying in light of the homebirth team's recent statistics which show a 9% caesarean rate against approx. 26% in Homerton itself.

If this news concerns you, as it does me, I would like to ask you to help me by letting the powers that be at Homerton know that this is not acceptable. To this end I would like to invite you to :

1) Open the attached pro-forma letter outlining the situation and the concerns. Please personalise this as you wish and send to: Chief Executive Officer Tracey Fletcher: Divisional Operations Director Daniel Waldren:

3) Forward the attached letter to any contacts you have who you know would be willing to write in

4) Link to the petition via your twitter/facebook/website and encourage others to sign up

5) Send me a sentence or two, if appropriate, about what the Homerton homebirth service has meant to you and why it needs to stay as is. Let me know if you are comfortable for this to be including in any future press release to the local papers.

I would love to hear of any ideas that you might have about how we might prevent this worrying reduction of Home Birth provision in Hackney. 

We are told on one hand that every woman has the right to choose how and where she births her child.  This is not ignoring medical advice etc, this is about the human right to choose.  With postnatal services being withdrawn, Independent Midwives being forced out of work, less midwives being hired as well as home birth and birthing centre teams being deliberately understaffed... where is the choice?  Or is it just an illusion?