WHAT WE BELIEVE
Birth is a crucially significant process for women, babies and their families, which has lifelong effects for the family and for the wider community.
Birth can, and for most women should be, a positive experience, which profoundly impacts on family health and well-being.
The relationship between a mother and a midwife she knows and trusts is the single most significant factor that has been shown to improve outcomes for mothers, babies and families during pregnancy, birth and postnatally. Of all the maternity interventions and practices that have been tried, therefore, it is the one which should be most supported.
Recognising and respecting the mother and baby dyad facilitates the long term physical and psychological health of both mother and baby
Midwives and others working to increase community support around the time of birth strengthens mothers, families and communities.
Based on sub-optimal mortality and morbidity statistics and the unhappy experiences of women, families and midwives, it is clear to us that maternity care in the UK and Ireland is in crisis. Although we have applauded government policy in all parts of the UK over several decades which has produced excellent advice to maternity health providers emphasising women’s choice and woman centred care, little in terms of Government funding has been available to ensure policy implementation. At the same time, policies have been introduced that have begun to dismantle health care as a common good. This covert change in direction has involved paving the way to private service provision throughout the NHS, while allowing chronic shortages of staff to weaken publicly provided services Centralising and standardising maternity care and allowing, without challenge, the demonization of normal birth and midwifery is unacceptable, given that all women need individualised care.
To raise the profile of longer-term impacts of birth on health and well-being for women, as well as babies, families and communities.
To challenge structural factors affecting individual choice, including poverty and stress which have measurable effects on the physical and mental health of babies and mothers.
To provide a clear political analysis showing how core needs of families (which include income, employment, healthy environments, safe housing and safe healthcare) impact on birth and how these might be addressed through collective, community action.
To support midwifery and midwives to continue to follow their professional ethic to respond to women’s needs and requests and act as their advocates.
To advocate for woman-centred, individualised midwifery care which is known to be beneficial for the whole family.
To support continuity models and challenge the inappropriate industrialised model which have been shown to be not fit for purpose.
WHO WE ARE
Birth Activist, Author &
Beverley Beech is a birth activist, formerly Hon Chair of the Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services and formerly Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine. She lectures, both nationally and internationally, on parents’ rights, user issues in maternity care and the over-medicalisation of birth. She has represented lay people on numerous national organisations and government bodies e.g. the Maternity Transformation Council. She is author of numerous books and articles about maternity care, the most recent is Am I Allowed? a book that informs women of their rights in maternity care.
Birth Activist, Teacher &
Gill Boden has a background in psychology. “I’ve always been interested in birth, and after having my own three children I became actively involved in campaigning for women’s decisions to be central in the birth process and for midwives to be accorded respect as autonomous professionals. I’ve worked locally in Wales, in MSLCs, and in policy areas such as breastfeeding and antenatal screening, and more widely within AIMS and the Midwifery Committee of the NMC. Currently I am a lay representative on the RCOG Intrapartum Clinical Study Group, and OBS 3, a research project tackling postpartum haemorrhage based in Cardiff.”
Speaker & Consultant.
Helen Shallow has never stopped asking ‘why is it like this?’ during thirty years of midwifery practice. This has led to a varied career both in the UK and abroad, as well as studying for a Masters degree, a post graduate teaching certificate, to share her learning, and most recently a PhD. All aimed at understanding why, despite the evidence, care for the majority of women in maternity services gets incrementally worse. Maternity care is a barometer of society and Helen experiences both in crisis, despite the rhetoric. She concentrates her time on presenting, to raise awareness, writing and consultancy.
Speaker & Researcher.
Sara Wickham is an independent speaker, author and consultant who is based in the UK and works globally. She has worked in midwifery practice in a variety of counties and settings as well as in midwifery education and research. Sara has been editor of three midwifery journals and is the author/editor of fifteen books. She heads up the Birth Information Project which aims to keep midwives and birth workers up-to-date with current research and thinking, and she runs live and online courses as well as providing consultancy services for birth-related organisations around the world.
Editor & Birth Activist.
Jo Murphy-Lawless is a sociologist and writer, a member of the cross-national Birth Project Group, and also a member of the Elephant Collective in the Republic of Ireland which has worked for three years to obtain legislation for mandatory inquests into maternal deaths.
She is co-editor, with Nadine Edwards and Rosemary Mander, of the recently published Untangling the Maternity Crisis.
Midwife, Senior Lecturer,
Activist & Researcher.
Sarah Davies is a senior lecturer in midwifery at the University of Salford, UK. She teaches students and qualified midwives at the University of Salford U.K., leading modules on the physiology of normal birth and continuity of carer. Her most recent published research was a qualitative study into the traumatic experiences of student midwives. She also works with the Manchester City of Sanctuary Maternity Stream, which seeks to improve the maternity care of asylum seeking and refugee women in Greater Manchester. She is a member of Keep Our NHS Public.
Birth Activist, Educator
Nadine Edwards is a birth activist, educator and researcher, formerly the Honorary Vice Chair of the Association for the Improvements in the Maternity Services.
She has written a book, book chapters and articles on the politics of birth and the relationship between women and midwives.
She recently wrote an updated version of Birthing Your baby, co-authored an updated version if Birthing Your Placenta with Sara Wickham, co-edited Untangling the Maternity Crisis with Rosemary Mander and Jo Murphy-Lawless and is currently writing about the closure of the internationally acclaimed Albany Midwifery Practice with Becky Reed and women’s experiences of freebirthing with Mavis Kirkham.
Birth Activist, Researcher
& Visiting Professor.
Jean Robinson was a member of the Association for the Improvements in the Maternity Services for 40 years, and was its Hon Research Officer and then President for many of those. Her previous roles include Chair of the Patients Association, member of the Oxford Community Health Council, member of the Oxford Regional Hospital Board, an appointment by the Privy Council to be a lay member of the General Medical Council for 12 years, co-option on to the Standards and Ethics Committee of the Nursing and Midwifery council (then the UKCC) and visiting Professor at the University of Ulster specialising in medical ethics. For the past 12 years she has been supporting parents who are threatened with having babies removed for adoption, following the introduction of a target to increase adoptions by the previous government, with large financial rewards attached for local authorities. She responds to many government and other consultations, as well as writing submissions to NICE guideline consultations.
Professor Emerita Midwifery,
Author, Speaker & Researcher.
Mavis Kirkham is Midwifery Professor Emerita at Sheffield Hallam University. After forty years as a clinical midwife and researcher, she is interested in reflecting and writing on midwifery in its wider context.
A major theme of her research has been the way in which working experiences impact upon midwives. Another of her central concerns is with continuity of maternity carer: the conditions which foster it and its enabling effects upon mothers, families and midwives.
She has long been concerned with how birth stories are negotiated and the impact of these stories on tellers and hearers; she is currently collecting freebirthing stories with Nadine Edwards.