2020 - strange to call it positive? But possibly it will be looked back on as the year that change came about - change in the environment that we all hope for, and our attitudes towards sustainability, but also change in the World of Birth
My passion, and field of work is the Birthing World. A World that epitomizes the strength of the body, whether human or animalistic, that is full of ‘magic’ and wonder often untapped. And a world that has historically been filled with fear but should never be.
I am passionate about ensuring that women and all birthing people get the support, information and care that they need to understand what their body is doing and how to work with it to have a positive birth experience, and I think 2020 could be a pivotal year for success.
In 2020 the lack of support for birthing people was highlighted massively – the #butnotmaternity campaign, started by Kicki Hansard of BirthBliss, was hugely responsible for raising awareness that women and birthing
people were being left alone and in fear. This has been a tragedy and is proving to have had devastating knock-on effects with regards to postnatal depression and psychosis, plus PTSD. But, before this campaign and before the virus, it might have been the case that birth was still massively unsupported and ill informed. What the campaign, and therefore the virus, has done is highlight the need for education, information and support. The year has highlighted the fact that without good support and information, birth and everything that surrounds it can be traumatic. It has drawn attention to the need for good strong nurturing care for birthing people, and got the attention of people who perhaps had never even thought about it before.
In my eyes, it has also drawn attention to the fact that the NHS hierarchy is not as birthing people friendly as it needs to be. Midwives have striven, and succeeded, to bridge the gap in support and they have done an incredible job, but perhaps
it has also highlighted that there are those in maternity care whose ideas are at times outdated. This is not a criticism, it is constructive. Every business, establishment and even individual, needs to refresh their thinking at some time in their lives, and what the Pandemic has done is highlight where we all need to rethink our attitudes to Birth.
We need to learn that women and all birthing people, must be listened to, how their voices are
the primary voice in a birthing situation. How they may have been ignored before and most importantly, what the effect of not listening has to both the birthing individual and their baby. Medicalising birth has led to women placing themselves, sometimes blindly, into the hands of others, and when giving birth has been stripped bare, as has been the case in the various lockdowns, birthing people discovered that they have not been given the knowledge they need, and to understand the vital importance of being empowered by that knowledge and support. An empowered individual who
is going through the process of birth is one of the most powerful images there can be.
I do stress the word women in the birthing scenario as in this case I feel it is important to recognize that it is mostly women put in a situation that is mostly run as a patriarchal system. And I stress the ‘mostly’ as there are amazing women in the birthing world who are putting all their force into making change happen, and birthing people of every race, creed, religion and gender who are suffering at the hands of the system.
The key discovery through all that we have unexpectedly been through in 2020 is that birthing people have a voice. They’ve used it in social media and been heard by everyone from the newspapers to the MPs, from birthing campaign groups to the hospitals, and even reached the PM who mentioned it in one of his announcements.
And most excitingly and most dramatically birthing people have listened to other birthing people, women to women, across the genders and across the races. They have heard each other, supported each other and learnt to speak out. Birthing people telling their stories has been one of the most beautiful and at times sad things that has come out of the virus, and they’ve found a way to reach across
to so many of us.
2020 has not been a bad year, it has been an extremely challenging one, and change is challenging and frightening at times, but change has been needed in the birthing world for a long time and with a little bit of luck, 2020 has started to bring individuals to ask for that change.