The Positive Birth Movement has arrived in Hackney (a short hop from Bloomsbury on the 38 bus)
Established in 2012 as the brainchild of Milli Hill, the Positive Birth Movement represents a grass roots movement set up to spread positivity about childbirth, both throughout the global online community and in face-to-face local, free, meetup groups.
In just a year, groups have sprung up throughout the UK and across the globe. From Bristol to Kansas, and now here in Hackney. Local organiser Elizabeth Ford tells us more…
The moment an expectant woman’s bump appears, it can feel as though she is a free target for any woman, be it on the bus or at a family get-together, to pin her to a wall to chew her ear off about the ‘nightmare’ of childbirth. We are besieged by images in the media of screaming labouring women. Few of us are expecting a picnic, but it can be difficult to tune into the quiet voice of the positive birth amongst this noise. The power of sharing a positive birth story cannot be underestimated. Like an ideal birth partner, she whispers those invaluable words ‘You can do it.’ Whilst many of us will attend a birth class in preparation for the big event, birth is not an exam, and is so much more than remembering a series of facts. Birth is a three dimensional process, involving the mind and emotions as well as the body, and that begins long before the medical profession’s clock starts ticking at forty weeks.
We should immediately dispel any preconceptions that anyone might have about this movement; ‘positive’ birth is not to be confused with ‘perfect’ birth. Discussion will include every type of birth, as the intention of this group is to help local women to get the most out of whatever birth they want, or find themselves facing. We certainly would not want anyone to be put off attending due to the thought of a room full of smug sanctimummies, patting one another on the back for their textbook natural births (although, they are welcome too).
A pregnant woman who prepares for her birth may often find herself dismissed with ‘What a lot of fuss over just one day.’ As the recent legal charity Birthrights study shows, a woman can be affected by her birth for her lifetime. It can affect how she feels about herself, how she bonds with her baby and how she interacts with her partner. A well woman can give her full attention to feeding and caring for her new baby, as well as her own post-partum healing, whereas a negative birth experience can make this period that much more challenging. A positive birth cannot be measured by the mode of birth; it is more about whether a woman feels safe and supported in her choices.
‘Birth plans? Not worth the paper they’re written on!’ Another oft repeated phrase directed at the pregnant woman. Managing expectations is one thing, but the key to a positive birth is preparation. By creating a supportive environment that encourages open discussion and resource-sharing, a family can build their own support network. If one family has their imagination piqued by hearing another family’s experience, or a new avenue of choice is opened for them that they may have never previously imagined existed, then we will have achieved something.
The Hackney Positive Birth group is open to anyone who is interested in talking about and learning about birth, be it in a professional or a personal capacity (parents, pregnant women, pre-pregnant women, birth partners, midwives, doulas, hypnobirth instructors, lactation consultants, etc.). The group is relevant to all types of developing families, and in turn, everyone will bring something different to the group. Together, by collating the knowledge and resources from the online sphere into our community, we can create a practical support network for local families.
The atmosphere at the meetings is intended to be relaxed, with a flexible format and attendee-led discussion and content. The local area offers a wealth of knowledge, expertise and compassion – come and tap into it; get involved.
Meetings take place on the first Monday of every month, from 19.00, in Dalston. For location details please contact Elizabeth Ford at PBMHackney@gmail.com.
For more information, take a look at the Positive Birth Movement website
This is a guest blog, first published in Hackney & Islington’s NCT December 2013 Newsletter.