Celebrating Portsmouth - A Positive Baby Feeding Place.
At Positive Birth Portsmouth we love a good news story. The PBP team were chatting about National Breastfeeding Awareness Week and realised how much there was to celebrate about breastfeeding support in our city.
Breastfeeding Awareness might not seem like an obvious part of positive birth, but positive birth is just the beginning of a family's journey. A positive first breastfeed can play a big part in a positive birth experience for many people and the same support that is needed for positive birth is needed for a positive start to parenting and to baby feeding.
Just like with birth, at PBP we support people to make their own informed decisions about feeding their baby. We share information about breastfeeding and we're also not afraid to say breastfeeding can be challenging and it's really normal to need support with getting breastfeeding established. We support your right to breastfeed anywhere and any way that suits you, and if you choose not to breastfeed, or to stop breastfeeding, we support your right to do that without guilt.
We think it's important to focus on helping the people around new families, the extended families, health professionals and members of the wider community to appreciate that, whatever choices women make, they have the right to support, encouragement and love and to be given accurate information and unbiased care.
So if you are pregnant and planning to breastfeed, or if you are already breastfeeding, do you know what support is available to you to help you have all the information to help you make sure you're making decisions and enjoying your baby?
If you're pregnant, one place to start is with the antenatal breastfeeding workshops provided by the infant feeding midwife at our local hospital, Queen Alexandra. All the information and dates can be found on the hospital website by clicking here: Portsmouth Antenatal Breastfeeding Workshops
Another place to go when you're pregnant, and again once your baby is here, is to any of the free local breastfeeding peer support groups run by the Breastfeeding Network. These are a great place to find out more about what it's really like to breastfeed and what's normal. There are also trained peer supporters available at many of them to help with any issues or questions you might have. Portsmouth is very lucky this service is still funded in the city as many of the peer support services across the country have had their funding cut in the last few years. There's also a very active Facebook Group where you can get sympathy at 1am and up to date details of face-to-face groups.
You can also get specialist breastfeeding support from lactation consultants across the city. To find out more about what an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) is, and what they can do, check out our post where we interviewed Lynn, who also runs a free breastfeeding support group in Southsea.
Last but not least, one of the main reasons women identify that they stop breastfeeding is concern over breastfeeding in public. In Portsmouth there is a brilliant way of finding places you can go and feel comfortable feeding your baby, knowing that they will support and welcome you. The Portsmouth Breastfeeding Welcome Scheme has many members across the city and will give you confidence getting out and about with your baby.
So much to celebrate and so much to be positive about in Portsmouth!
Not local to Portsmouth? You can get support with Breastfeeding via the National Breastfeeding Helpline - 0300 100 0212
To find your nearest Breastfeeding Network group visit https://www.breastfeedingnetwork.org.uk/
Snow on the day was not enough to stop our first conference. We heard some great talks and met some wonderful people. We're looking forward to doing it all again in a couple of years!
Can you explain a little about what being a Lactation Consultant involves?
The work of an International Board of Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) can be very varied with colleagues working within an NHS , voluntary or private setting.
Each of my working days are different depending on the number of calls I have had from parents about their infant feeding challenges.
In my private practice and voluntary roles I spend time on:
Wow you're really busy! What motivated you to become a Lactation Consultant in the first place?
My motivation to become an IBCLC stems from a long term interest in infant feeding. My interest in breastfeeding challenges and importance of breastfeeding, early support and safe bottle feeding was initiated during my NHS background in midwifery and health visiting and supported by my own experience. Studying for the IBCLC exam clearly demonstrated to me that I wanted to work intensively with mother and baby dyads and to be directed by their needs. Thus I set up Breastfeeding Matters to enable me to offer the help needed, in the comfort of the family home without time restraints of additional pressures. Having worked in several NHS roles concurrently with my private practice, in April 2017 I finally left the NHS, taking (early!) retirement to focus on my passion .
What are the main benefits of having the support of a lactation consultant for pregnant and new mums?
The benefits are multiple but succinctly, women who receive information antenatally about realistic expectations of breastfeeding plus early postnatal support are much more likely to have a satisfying and successful breastfeeding experience .
As an IBCLC I have the time to dedicate to a home visit allowing women to tell me their story
total focus on the mother baby dyad. As an IBCLC the knowledge and skills required to pass and maintain the certification are extensive thus I have a range of experiences and suggestions to share with women. This does not mean, in anyway, that I always have the answer or solution but
I have a range of colleagues to ask, books to assist and time to search for information
with mothers and their families. We can look at options and support through the challenges
Continuity of care.
I can offer as many home visits as required. Women can access ongoing free support at my breastfeeding drop in group and email contact for some discussions . I can complete documentation in the baby’s Personal Child Health Record Book. I can liaise with health visiting and general practitioner colleagues.
Resources to support.
I will provide families with an electronic copy of my records and with links to supportive and relevant websites and leaflets.
What are the benefits for babies?
If new parents can be provided with the appropriate information and support, relevant to their needs, they will become more confident, response parents and their babies will be calmer. If IBCLC support results in a longer breastfeeding experience then a baby will enjoy the health benefits of breastmilk and breastfeeding . We also know how important is for ALL babies to be cared for in a safe and responsive environment and thus I suggest that safe bottle feeding occurs is a responsive way which is led by the baby.
Are there any specific situations in pregnancy or for mums when they might really benefit from the help of a lactation consultant?
Any pregnant lady may benefit from time with an IBCLC to focus on her needs particularly
to debrief on a previous breastfeeding or birthing experience and plan differently this time.
Some situations women benefit from support include;
Looking after yourself is essential in everyday living but women often have an additional interest in their bodies during pregnancy . This can be a time to focus on dietary intake, cut down ( ideally stop) smoking and alcohol, and engage in appropriate physical exercise .
Get to know your baby during pregnancy.
about life choices that are going to be important as time goes on.
Especially if it’s your second ( or more) pregnancy you may find it more difficult to rest if you have an active toddler to care for. Do accept any offers of help in pregnancy or book in for after.
It’s quite normal to worry about how your older children are going to react to your new baby . Consider, age appropriate conversations about babies and breastfeeding, visiting your library for books/ resources to support these conversations. Speak with other friends and family about how
they managed they can support you .
Enjoy your pregnancy, it’s an exciting time but do talk to people around you if you have worries about any aspect of your physical or emotional health
What sort of training do you do as a Lactation Consultant?
To become an IBCLC an individual needs to have a recognised profession and level of education in both theoretic and practical skills to apply to do the examination.
The exam curriculum covers a wide range of disciplines so the training and preparation for the international examine depend on previous skills and knowledge. In my case, as a health visitor I felt quite confident in the feeding needs of a two week old baby into toddler and childhood but less so on pregnancy and the preterm baby given that midwifery training was nearly 35 years ago! The exam is held internationally twice a year and involves two papers held in recognised exam centres. The assessments involve a mixture of scenarios, questions with a number pictorial situations .
As an IBCLC it is essential to keep knowledge up to date with a requirement to demonstrate ongoing training at five years and resitting the exam every 10… since qualifying in 2005 I have done both and will be due again in 2020.
Is there a way mums can find out what training levels the person providing their breastfeeding support has?
Yes, depending on the discipline of the person providing breastfeeding support a mum can access this information from their professional or voluntary body for example
National Childbirth Trust
La Leche League
Association of Breastfeeding Mothers
International Board Certified Lactation Consultant
Additionally, for registered health professionals, their credentials can be checked by visiting their regulatory bodies eg.
Nurses, midwives and health visitors - Nursing and Midwifery Council
Osteopaths - General Osteopathy Council
Doctors - General Medical Council
Dentists - General Dental Council
If a family are employing the services of any professional in a private capacity, in addition to checking their professional credentials as above, I would also urge them to ask to see proof of their indemnity insurance.
You can contact Lynn through her website www.breastfeedingmatters.co.uk or find her on Facebook
We also chatted with one of the mums who has benefited from Lynn's support here's what she had to say.
What prompted you to contact Lynn for support? How old was your baby and what was happening?
My baby was 5 weeks when I contacted Lynn. I was quite convinced by that point that my son had tongue tie but it had been missed by many healthcare practitioners at hospital, so it took me a long while experiencing pain from poor latch to seek help. I found out more about tongue tie from a breastfeeding support group on Facebook, and that was also how I found out how to find a specialist who could diagnose and cut tongue tie.
Where did you find out about the services Lynn offers?
The Association of Tongue-tie Practitioners.
How did Lynn help you and your baby with the issues you were having?
I met Lynn on Thursday and she was able to cut my son’s posterior tongue-tie first thing Monday morning. We had already discussed positioning too, which helped me get more comfortable. After the cut he was able to feed better instantly, with my pain gradually decreasing over a few weeks with some help from Mary Jane.
Did you go along to the group Lynn runs? If so how did you find that?
I went to the group first, at Lynn’s suggestion. The first few weeks it was my safe haven in a tough time, and I still attend regularly now (baby is 9 months). It was so helpful for me to hear stories from other mums who had been through or were going through a similar experience, I hope now I can pay that forward and help others. Lynn always has time for a chat and advice which is really helpful as my son and I continue our journey.
Did you also see Mary Jane the osteopath who works with Lynn at the group? If so how did you find that? Was it helpful?
Yes, Mary Jane was able to release a lot of tension in my son’s jaw from birth which had been hindering his feeding. She also helped later on with my pain and my son’s reflux.
Would you recommend using a lactation consultant to other families?
I would, and do, recommend lactation consultants regularly. I recommend Lynn and her group to locals, but through meeting Lynn have also been able to recommend others out of our area. They provide an incredible service which I think should be more widely recognised.
What's your top tip for any parent with a new baby?
Breastfeeding and bedsharing are my top tips. One allows me to feed my baby a perfectly tailored meal, whenever and wherever he wants it. The other allows me to do so easily overnight without losing much sleep. I would like new parents to know that breastfeeding is hard work for the first few weeks and you need support, but that the support is out there.
Continuing our series interviewing our conference sponsors this week we're talking to Sophy from Southsea Slings.
Can you explain a little about what babywearing / using slings is all about and what motivated you to become a sling consultant? What babywearing and using a sling is all about, is really dependent on you and your family's needs and preferences. Babywearing is a skill, carriers and slings are tools in a parenting tool kit. For some families, wearing their baby in a sling from day one is a plan they had long before they are awaiting the arrival of their child even. For others using a carrier is only a consideration when they taking their toddler on a camping expedition. The benefits of babywearing to newborns to preschoolers and their carers are numerous, and it was this fact and our personal experience of using slings with our babies that drove me to become and sling consultant. When I completed my training in 2012 I really wanted my work to be part of breaking down any cliques, and stereotyping around what kind of families used slings and why. I had been a La Leche League breastfeeding support leader for some years, and had loved how non-judgemental and empowering my training had been. I wanted to try and assist families to be empowered to use slings safely, in a way that suits their personal needs, no matter what their parenting choices were.
What are the main benefits of using slings for pregnant and new mums?
Using what is commonly called a wrap sling (essentially a long length of fabric) to wrap your bump whilst pregnant can be a great way to support your bump, improve posture, open up your rib cage and become more aware of your own body. It is also a great way to start to become familiar with the way a wrap or stretchy wrap works, meaning you are better prepared for its use with a baby. For new mums one of biggest benefits is having hands free from holding baby, whilst still meeting baby's needs of being close. This has major benefits to new mums being able to attend to their own needs, such as having a wee, getting a glass of water or grabbing a sandwich without the stress of leaving their baby unattended. Using a sling with a newborn promotes secure attachment , aids recovery from postnatal depression, decreases stress, makes getting around with baby easier and safer. The benefits for baby also benefit new mums, as meeting their baby's needs becomes easier and so they can enjoy new motherhood more.
What are the benefits for babies?
Reduces stress, aids digestion, great assistance for babies with colic or reflux, promotes greater periods of sleep and of the quiet alert state; babies cry less, promotes mothers responding to babies' initial cues for breastfeeding, great for temperature regulation, more cuddles with the sound of a heart beat! Reduces the incidence and aids recovery from of plagiocephaly (flat head syndrome) and torticollis (stiffness in the neck). Less stressed carers are always a benefit to baby too.
Are there any specific situations in pregnancy or for mums where babywearing can really help?
This is a really difficult question, because there are so many specific situations where babywearing really helps. It allows mothers and any carers the ability to attend to their baby's most basic and paramount need to be close to their care giver, whilst allow the care giver a greater amount of freedom to attend to their own needs too. Kangaroo care for premature babies is a great example of a specific situation where babywearing really helps, promoting greater weight gain, better temperature control, promoting positive, secure bonding and attachment, better breastfeeding outcomes, and less social isolation for parents. Mothers with specific disabilities making carrying baby in arms impossible altogether or for long periods of time. Mothers who have had a c-section that have have to use stairs, having two hands free to safely support themselves, whilst carrying baby. I could go on and on with examples. I suppose it may help to imagine the question the other way round; it is rare but sometimes slings do not help because parents have had bad experiences of trying to use a sling without sufficient knowledge of how to use it safely and then slings are not helpful! Hopefully we can help prevent this happening with the support we offer to help families learn to use slings safely and comfortably.
Do you have any hints or tips for pregnant women or mums to help them look after themselves, their physical health and their mental health?
Being kind to themselves. Not trying to be superwoman. Definitely finding a antenatal group, even if you feel like you have very little in common with the class attendees, you have babies in common, and that is a very special factor. Everyone will have ups and downs with being pregnant and or becoming a mother, and just being able to chat to someone going through a similar experience at the same time in your lives is so helpful and supportive, even if you have very different ideas on parenting. I think social isolation and fear of judgement is massive negative factor for many mothers, new and experienced. So if at all possible go along to some groups whilst pregnant and when your baby comes along. Using a sling is great for your physical and mental health and having a gentle walk out and about is a great way to start to recover from pregnancy and birth.
What sort of training do you do as a sling consultant?
Training varies depending on the course that you attend. I attended The School of Babywearing UK (Externally regulated by OCN Eastern Region) 5 years ago now, and since have done 100's of hours of client contact time. I attended a face to face course and then had to complete course work, including reports and feedback from families on consultations. I now to keep up to date with current recommendations from manufactures as well as keeping abreast of ongoing research, attending conferences etc. Rachel Hammerton, who also runs Southsea Slings, trained with Slingababy (very popular and well established babywearing training school based in UK). Our courses both covered aspects of child development, mother and baby physiology, safety, and benefits to babywearing - use of the various kinds of slings and carriers, aspects of history of babywearing, woven wrap carries, special circumstances. Skills of being a consultant, in terms, for example of pedagogy, empathy and observation. Organisational skills , such as how to run a workshop etc. Both myself and Rachel are fully insured as Babywearing Consultants.
Is there a way mums can find out what training levels the person running their local sling library has?
BABI - British Association of Babywearing Instructors is an association that can assist with a great map, with details of who runs what and what qualifications they may have. Listings and details on line are commonly updated by volunteers and may sometimes be slightly out of date. Trusted antenatal groups, as well as NHS health professionals are good to ask about local services. There is no one official umbrella regulatory body for babywearing consultants or sling libraries, but there are reputable organisations striving towards maintaining up to date detailed listing. One of the best is Sling Pages, a website, currently undergoing a re-vamp. If in doubt a good group or sling library will be happy to answer any queries from clients as to their qualifications, if they are not happy to chat then it may be worth finding another service.
If you're wondering what parents think of the service from Southsea Slings check out the many positive reviews on their Facebook Page like these ones.
"A great way to find your perfect sling. I had slings in the past that I was not 100% happy with, and thanks to the helpfulness of Southsea Slings I have found my perfect sling.
The perfect sling is a very individual choice and the service that Southsea Slings provides enables that choice to be made. Thank you so much"
"This is a must attend morning. I had my own sling but have not really known how to use it up till now. I’m so much more comfortable and my baby is much more secure. Baby wearing is magic too. He falls asleep within minutes of getting in. Thank you so much. Lovely ladies too"
"Superb service pre baby so I was ready and confident! The ladies here are lovely and happy to help with a great selection of products and knowledge. Would highly recommend them."
Where can you find them?
Running regular free to attend drop in sessions in Portsmouth (weekly term-time) , Havant and Chichester (monthly). Their services also include private consultations in the comfort of clients' homes, as well as, workshops, talks and event stalls. Southsea Slings is a social enterprise and offers 50% reduction for monthly hires to clients in receipt of social security benefits, such as Universal Credit. https://www.facebook.com/SouthseaSlings/
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 07801222714 www.southseaslings.co.uk
Can you explain a little about what Holistic Therapies involve and what motivated you to become a Holistic Therapist?
‘Holistic’ comes from the Greek word holos, meaning ‘whole’. Rather than just addressing an immediate symptom, a holistic therapist will look for the underlying cause by considering current physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual states of health and wellbeing. They will then work to restore the body’s natural balance.
I have always had an interest in the alternative lifestyle, and finding myself in a situation of being a single mother of 3, I embarked on retraining to start my own business in something I am passionate about. I used homeopathy all the way through my pregnancies and wanted to build on that to offer a service for mums to be. Massage & Reflexology were not so readily available when I was carrying my babies. My youngest is now 18 years old, eldest is 27, to give you an idea of the time scale. Options like water births and positive birthing was all very new and quite “out there”. I was way ahead of the times! Look where we are with it now!
What are the main benefits of Holistic Therapies for pregnant and new mums?
Pregnancy is a time of great hormonal changes and this often stirs up emotions such as fear, apprehension and anxiety. Studies indicate that receiving regular massage and/or reflexology during pregnancy can reduce anxiety, decrease symptoms of depression, relieve muscle aches and joint pains, and led to fewer complications during birth.
What are the benefits for babies?
Evidence strongly suggests there are maternal and newborn health benefits when therapeutic holistic therapies are incorporated into regular prenatal care. – A healthy baby starts with a healthy pregnancy.
Are there any specific situations in pregnancy or for mums or babies where Holistic Therapies can really help?
Holistic Therapies may help to ~
Do you have any hints or tips for pregnant women or mums to help them look after themselves, their physical health and their mental health?
Being pregnant is unique to each mum to be. Some sail through pregnancy with no complications or symptoms, and others suffer. My advice is to hydrate regularly, increase your daily fluid intake. Your body and your vital organs must have water to function properly. It is also essential for healthy blood cells. Adequate hydration is especially important during pregnancy and after birth as your body needs more water to cope with the demands of your changing body.
Water is needed to form amniotic fluid that surrounds the baby, support the increase in blood plasma volume and produce breast milk and essential for good lactation.
Adequate hydration can also help to alleviate common pregnancy-related conditions, such as constipation. Drinking enough water may go some way to helping prevent urinary tract infections. Dehydration during pregnancy can lead to many complications such as headaches, nausea, cramps, oedema and dizziness.
It is also essential that mums to be reduce their stress and anxiety. Research suggests that prenatal stress plays an important role in the health, growth and development of growing baby during gestation and over their life span. Exposure to high levels of stress, have been associated with issues affecting the metabolic, immune, endocrine and cognitive function in babies.
Pregnancy yoga, holistic therapies, aromatherapy, gentle exercise can all play a role in reducing the levels of stress mum to be might be exposed to.
It is also vitally important that new mums also take care of their needs. So often new mums are so wrapped up in their new baby, with adjusting to demanding routines of feeding and being sleep deprived, that they are running on a depleted energy reserve, which in its self can lead to postnatal depression, baby blues and general fatigued and burnout.
Even though giving birth is a “natural occurrence”, the physical trauma of pregnancy and birth is huge! I always advise my clients to visit me as soon as possible post-birth, with baby too, to have a reflexology session. This is great time for mum and baby to have some bonding, whilst I work on acupressure points on her feet, to promote relaxation, boost energy levels and address any underlying imbalances.
Focusing on good nutrition post-birth is not only vital for the production of breast milk, but also to support the recovery from birth, restoration of hormonal imbalance, and to replenish diminished nutrient stores. Maintaining your blood sugar levels during this time has been shown to support post-natal mood. When our levels become unstable, anxious and depressive tendencies maybe aggravated and worsened.
What sort of training do you do as a Holistic Therapist? Is there a way mums can find out what training levels their Holistic Therapist has?
I undertake regular training that adds to my already existing tool box of therapies, several times a year. Further CPD is requirement of the governing body that I belong to, The Federation of Holistic Therapies (FHT)
All therapists have to be fully insured to carry out Holistic Therapies. We all hold certificates in the therapies we have undertaken. This can be requested to be seen by the client prior to treatment. It is vitally important to check that your therapist is fully insured and qualified to treat with the services she offers. I have written a full blog outlining this very thing.
If you would like to know more about what it's like to experience and more of the benefits of Tania's care check out this blog on her website.
We're so happy to have such a great selection of sponsors for our conference and market place event. We will be interviewing them all over the next weeks and months. In our first interview we talk to the Daisy Foundation Hampshire South Coast Teachers.
What are the main benefits of Daisy Foundation Classes for pregnant and new mums?
There are so many benefits for mums! For pregnant mums we help ease the aches and pains of pregnancy, we prepare body and mind for birth, and we help to demystify birth, taking away the common fears and worries. We teach them how their bodies work and how to work with their bodies during labour - simple knowledge and understanding that can have a big impact on their birth experience. For new mums our classes provide a safe space to just 'be' with baby, building a support network and learning songs, rhymes, massage and movement to use at home. These methods of verbal and non-verbal communication help mum to understand baby’s behaviors, cries and language so that baby feels loved, valued and respected. Positive touch and movement between mum and baby helps nurture positive attachment, bonding, closeness and gives mums confidence to respond to baby’s cues and needs.
What are the benefits for babies?
By combining baby massage and movement, babies enjoy greater benefit from some of the more practical techniques such as relief from colic, wind, constipation and teething discomfort to the longer term benefits such as secure attachment, reducing emotional distress, improved co-ordination, physical development, body awareness and brain development. Wrigglers and Cruisers classes for older babies are designed to encourage the development of hand and eye co-ordination, fine and gross motor skills, speech, listening, visual development, play and laughter.
Are there any specific situations in pregnancy or for mums where Daisy classes can really help?
Daisy classes are suitable for all mums, whatever their previous history, birth plans or parenting style. However, they can be especially beneficial to anyone feeling particularly nervous or anxious about birth or parenthood. By providing information and a support network, mums start to feel more confident in themselves and their ability to give birth and be a mum.
Do you have any hints or tips for pregnant women or mums to help them look after themselves, their physical health and their mental health?
Taking time out is so important during pregnancy and in the early days of motherhood (and beyond!). We lead such busy lives that we rarely sit down and truly relax - there's always something to do or someone else to look after. Mums-to-be need to take the time to rest, allow their bodies and minds to relax, and ensure they eat and drink well. For new mums they need that time to allow their bodies to recover from 9 months of pregnancy, to allow their minds to adjust to their new lives and to give themselves some space, even if it's just 5 minutes to drink a cup of tea. And for all mums, building a support network is crucial, be it through organisations such as the Positive Birth Movement, through antenatal and baby classes such as those The Daisy Foundation offer, or through existing friends and family. Having someone to offload onto and call on for help makes a massive difference!
What sort of training do you do as a Daisy Teacher? Is there a way mums can find out what training levels the person running their antenatal or baby class has?
All Daisy Foundation teachers have completed in-depth practical training, home-study, coursework and assessment through The Daisy Foundation in order to deliver the FEDANT approved classes. Anyone wanting to find out more can contact The Daisy Foundation HQ direct via the website.
We asked a mum who has been to Daisy Classes what it was like for her and if she would recommend them to other mums.
I absolutely love the daisy foundation and the classes offered are fantastic! I first went to the daisy classes, run but the very calm and very lovely Sarah Lewis, during my first pregnancy. It was just what I needed; the right mix of education for making informed choices, breathing techniques, relaxation and building a positive mindset for birth, especially as I was planning a first time Home birth. We even had a 1:1 session in my house to bring my partner up to speed, which was invaluable to prepare him too. Once baby was born (at home, as planned) I attended: first Teenies, where we learned lovely massage techniques and met other new mums (who were still friends with two years on), then wrigglers, where we played and stimulated the babies with rhymes and gentle activities. It was such a great set of classes to introduce babies to the world and were so lovely and calm too - just what you need before hitting the crazy toddler sessions as they grow! As soon as I became pregnant the second time round, I went straight back for birthing classes and really valued time to focus on number 2 and get my head back in the right headspace for doing it all over again. We had another lovely Home birth, in the water this time, and are currently doing teenies classes again as they’re just so lovely! I’ve recommended Daisy to lots of my friends and they all absolutely love the sessions with their babies and have hugely valued the birthing classes too! If I had a third, I’d definitely be back doing it all over again! Amazing, supportive and welcoming sessions for both Mum and baby!
As a positive birth group, we think it’s important that women’s decisions and choices are paramount. We believe there’s no such thing as a perfect birth but rather a positive birth requires only that women be respected as the power holders in their own births.
We also believe in order to make the decisions they need to make about the care they receive during pregnancy, labour and birth they have the right to have all the information about the risks and benefits without bias.
We often find that women are not encouraged to ask questions of their care providers but rather to just go along with the usual procedures without question. We aim to gently and positively encourage women and their partners that it’s not only ok but actually a really good idea to ask questions and take responsibility for what they choose to accept or decline of what is on offer to them.
Here’s a few thoughts from Lucy’s blog to read more find it here
“…yeah, just ask for an epidural and all the drugs…………………I’m sure then it’ll be fine….”
I was standing in the queue at the parcel collection office, two women in their early 20s were chatting, and I overheard this snippet. It made me think. I know many women are fearful of labour and childbirth. What I question is why so many are fearful of a natural process, a beautiful journey that sees the interplay between mother and baby unfold so powerfully that it results in the birth of a new soul and the emergence of a mother. And yet, they are not fearful of accepting synthetic painkillers and accept epidurals without asking the risks involved. Many women ask for epidural in the belief it will make childbirth easier. What they are not told is that it can inhibit their production of oxytocin, which can reduce the effectiveness of uterine contractions, therefore making labour longer.
Women are afraid of the great unknown of labour & birth that has been the norm of human existence for thousands of years, and yet perfectly prepared to accept medical intervention that has existed for mere decades without realising they may not have all the information they need to make that decision.
It is time that we encouraged all mothers to know what medical interventions mean – not simply how they may *benefit* the mother, but how they may affect her in other ways.
Until we ensure that women are presented with the risks as well as the *benefits* of intervention, there is no such thing as freedom in birth, no such thing as informed choice for pregnant, labouring, birthing women.
Don’t be afraid of what we know – that women have survived & even relished labour and childbirth for millennia. Be afraid of what you don’t know when offered drugs that will make it *easier*.
Want to find out more – these are some good places to start…
If you are wondering why we are so excited about planning a conference the answer is because we know how refreshing a whole day listening and thinking about how to better support women and families can be. Here's a taste of the enthusiasm we have felt at the conferences that have come before this one from Vikki's blog:
This weekend something A.Mazing happened. I attended a Home Birth Conference and met some truly inspirational women. Sheena Byrom, Hannah Doe and Clara Haken were all speaking about so many important aspects of the care we give to women in pregnancy and the influences that surround us. There was for me, a very special speaker. Someone I have admired for over 20 years, Ina May Gaskin.
I bought her books in 1995 and she has without doubt been the single, greatest influence on my birthy path in life. And this weekend i got to wee in the SAME toilet as her. This was not the highlight, don’t worry too much for my mental state. I also TOUCHED HER ARM. It’s ok, i’m just about getting a grip. I have a picture of myself with her and an equally star struck mate, Elizabeth . We look like total geeks.
I have handed out my copies of Spiritual Midwifery and her Guide to Childbirth to each and every one of my pregnant friends over the years because they are by and away the most positive birth books you can read. They are full of such empowering stories of strong birthing women. Ironically, both my copies are currently loaned out to those in need and so i had to purchase a shiny new book of hers so that i could come away with a signature (Of COURSE it was necessary). I read Spiritual Midwifery and immediately wanted to move to The Farm (a commune in Tennessee) and become a midwife or have 10 babies. I did a bit of both.
The message that resonated out of the Home Birth conference was one of the very real need to share the positivity. Tell the positive stories, say them over and over again. To anyone who’ll listen. Saturate the world with them so that women hear all about how birth can be a great and positive experience. Milli Hill has set up The Positive Birth Movement with the sole purpose of doing just this. “Birth works” said Ina May at the conference and that woman knows what she’s talking about.
It’s our passion that women (and their partners and families) have the chance to feel positive about their pregnancy, their birth and having and caring for a new baby.
But we also find very often people expect that we support ‘natural’ birth, or ‘drug free’ birth or home birth. Maybe that’s because we’re also fond of saying we believe in women and their bodies. So, let’s just get this straightened out.
What do Positive Birth Portsmouth members really mean by positive birth?
There are as many answers to that as there are people who you ask the question but here’s a selection.
“It's not about where or how she births, it is about feeling loved, heard, informed, supported and honoured.”
“A positive birth is one where you feel you had choices and support making and upholding those choices.”
"Positive birth happens when women are able to be free from unnecessary fear and feel empowered to own their own pregnancies and births. Supporting each other is often an important part of having a positive birth"
"Positive birth happens when women are empowered to be the authors of their own birth stories."
“Birth is something women should look forward to. I did! I'm totally committed to making sure women have the BEST birth experience for them.”
“Free of fear, supported by the ones you love…”
“Positive birth means knowing you have choices, knowing you don’t have to just ‘do what you’re told’ making informed decisions and being supported in them.”
“Positive birth is one where you make your own choices and everyone caring for your respects and supports those decisions.”
“...every woman and every child born are given the best opportunity to have a healthy and happy experience.”
That's a lot of thoughts what's the number one thing that makes a birth positive?
The main theme is that a positive birth is one where you know your choices, have all the information you need and feel supported in those choices. As a group, we don’t offer advice unless it is this, do your research and make your own choice. We think it’s important that no one opinion is more valuable than another we listen to the whole story of how you feel, to what it’s like to be you and to why you make the choices you make and we support you to make the choices you want to make with all the information you need. Then we stand behind you as you confidently insist that your choices for your own birth are respected and listened to.
So we do believe in your body and your ability to birth, but your ability to birth as you choose to do, not valuing any choice above another.
Why can't we just go with the flow, birth can't be predicted so why build up your hopes?
Yes it's true birth in unpredictable but preparing for a positive birth means being prepared for the flow to change but knowing you still have choices and birth is something you're ding not something that's happening to you.
We also know that many women have been taught to fear birth through the messages in the media and the horror stories they have been old since they found out they were pregnant (and sadly sometimes through previous experiences). But more than that, we know this doesn’t have to be the way, that we can provide an atmosphere of sharing between women where the positive stories of how amazing it is to work with your body and be supported through such an overwhelming experience and make your own choices and meet your own baby can be shared. The more we share stories of positive birth experiences the more women will be able to know that could also be their experience and go on to have their own positive birth. We find most women will be surprised with how not scary after all labour and birth can be and how when given a positive environment their body's do just work.
We also find that even when birth doesn’t go smoothly with support and informed choices women can still find it’s a positive experience. You can have a positive homebirth, positive water birth, positive birth centre birth, positive birth on labour ward, positive epidural birth, positive assisted birth, positive c-section. As long as each of these things happens in an atmosphere where you know you are supported and your decisions are yours alone and are the best ones for you on that day.