All posts filed under: Comment

A quarter of mothers’ birth decisions were not respected

Women are meant to be the primary decision makers in their own care – this was established by the Montgomery Ruling 5 years ago – yet a new study by Birthrights and Mumsnet has found that: *24% of the mothers surveyed say their decisions and opinions about their care were not respected*30% say their decisions and opinions were not sought In a world where women should be kept fully informed and included in their care in pregnancy and as labour unfolds it comes as no surprise to me that this is not happening. As an advocate of communication, options and assertiveness, I speak to expectant and new mums all the time about the challenges they have faced with their care. And while there are also very positive experiences where women have been included, respected and listened to, this should not stop us from wanting to see change so this becomes the norm for all pregnant women. As a mum of three, a former doula and a busy antenatal teacher who has worked with thousands of …

Comparing babies

As a postnatal practitioner it is not lost on me that many parents compare their babies with a mythical baby who sleeps and naps well, eats well, is settled, has a schedule, who is an absolute delight, leaving mums rested, happy and fulfilled. Through the decades, parents have been sold a bit of lie, leaving many of them tired, frustrated, unsupported and feeling they are getting it wrong. Babies are neither robots nor dogs to be trained, they are in a constant state of growth and development and, as such, their needs vary greatly, making them unpredictable. It is this that is normal. Biologically, babies are designed to be needy – they physically need looking after and they only have one verbal way of communicating their basic needs for food, comfort, sleep and reassurance. There are subtle body language cues but they are not always obvious and a baby’s needs can vary so much from day to day, especially in those early days and weeks. There are no easy answers or quick fixes where babies …

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Managing birth expectations

It’s a difficult issue and one which is never perfect but it’s an important issue which I try to focus on with my classes and with my writing. Some people have general expectations about birth and others are more fixed, which a specific labour/birth in mind – this is all really valid and normal. Getting the balance right can be difficult though – over the years I have spoken to make mums who have only focused on some type of hypno as their birth prep and have felt completely equipped and prepared for the reality, which could mean more challenges. Every birth practitioner has a difference perspective on this, as does every pregnant woman – some focus only on straightforward birth for fear of jinxing it by learning more about caesareans and interventions, others focus on the straightforward and the complicated. I am a well trained and experienced antenatal teacher and I know dealing with expectations will never be spot on for every expectant parent – my practice is all about knowledge, skills and assertiveness …

antenatal classes newcastle tyneside

Birth on TV

I don’t watch many real birth programmes on TV mainly because they upset me so much and make me angry. The ones I have seen mainly show women on a bed – with no apparent reason for being there; and it’s all bright lights, interruptions and being told what to do and then is it any surprise that each labouring woman struggles and needs assistance. Labour and birth can be bloody tough – there’s pain, there’s endurance and there needs to be the right mindset/preparation, knowledge and support for the unpredictability and the amazing intensity. Women’s needs vary so much in labour but as a mother, as a doula and as a seasoned antenatal teacher I do know what can make a difference: being listened to; being asked what you need; being treated with kindness, compassion and professionalism; a gentle birth environment so you are encouraged to move and respond to the needs of your body and your baby with active birth equipment and birth pools; softer lighting and quiet; medical staff who are part …

Mothers and the emotional load

Much is written about the motherload – the organising of children’s schedules and the household, – but let’s focus on the emotional load for a second – feeling responsible for, monitoring and worrying about your child’s wellbeing and development. It’s a huge load to carry, it takes time and investment and it can be overwhelming and exhausting. It’s part of the parenting package, it is crucial to older children and teenagers yet it is another invisible role often of mothers although I am sure plenty of dads take this on as well. Children always need our time and attention, as parents we need to listen to what they are really saying through, often through their actions rather than their words. And this is vital as children get older and then become teenagers – we often need to be their cheerleader, their counsellor, their life coach and their personal assistant (in addition to taxi driver, cook and entertainment’s officer) for them and their friends. This role starts when we carry our newborn baby when they need …