Why did I create The Empowered Birth Programme?
Because after supporting new mothers and parents antenatally and postnatally in my capacity as both an antenatal teacher and a psychotherapist for the last 8 years, and from my research into the impact of a woman’s birth experience on her postnatal mental health, I started to become aware of several things.
I noticed a theme of disempowerment in the birth stories of women who had experienced a traumatic birth. The impact of a traumatic birth on maternal mental health, and the wider impact on families and society is well documented. This would suggest that how empowered we feel or don’t feel during childbirth has a significant impact on our postnatal mental health.
I noticed that women describing giving birth in similar ways could have completely different experiences. One woman would have experienced birth as traumatic while another woman experienced a sense of empowerment. Although there are too many variables for two births to ever be identical, I began to explore what was different about the experiences of the women who felt empowered. What was different about their birthing environment, their birth preparation and the support that they received before, during and after birth? What other factors play a part in how we experience empowerment during our baby’s birth?
I also became aware of how paternalistic our maternity healthcare system is, and how disempowering this can be for women and parents. For example, the language that is used to describe what women and parents are ‘allowed’ or ‘not allowed’ to do. The power imbalances that can happen between medical staff and the women they support. The infantilising of women during pregnancy and birth. The lack of respect for a woman’s bodily autonomy. The list goes on.
I started asking: ‘how can women and parents feel empowered within a potentially disempowering healthcare system?’
I started to wonder what women and parents needed in their antenatal education which would help them to have an empowered experience. Knowledge is power for sure, but what else do we need in order to experience a sense of empowerment?
My curiosity about this led me back to university in January 2019 where I have spent the whole year undertaking a research project to explore how women experience empowerment during childbirth. It has been a huge learning journey which has involved studying hundreds of research papers on birth, empowerment and antenatal education. The evidence from the existing research is clear: a woman’s overall birth experience has a significant impact on her future births, her maternal health and the health of her baby and family. Research also shows that the advantages of the empowerment of women are felt by the whole society. It therefore feels essential that women and parents have access to the information they need to experience empowerment during childbirth.
This is why I created The Empowered Birth Programme. Because every woman deserves to have an empowered birth experience. All woman deserve quality maternity care, antenatal education and support.
Everything I have learned from my client work, my research, training and experience has gone into the programme. Because one thing I know to be true is that you can’t feel TOO prepared for birth and parenthood. Giving birth to another human is a life-changing event and becoming a mother is arguably the biggest psychological transformation that a woman will ever experience. In my experience, the more mentally, emotionally, physically and practically prepared women feel antenatally, the more empowered they feel during childbirth and beyond.
This year I also joined forces with the amazing Ceci Goldaracena who brings with her many years of experience, knowledge and wisdom from supporting families as a birth and postnatal doula. Together, we are continuing to develop The Empowered Birth Programme and we have just added two bonus hours of content making it the most comprehensive antenatal course that we are aware of.
If you are pregnant and local to Saffron Walden, and want to find out how you can have an empowered birth experience, you can find more details on our upcoming course and book your place here.
Our courses run at the beautiful Mokshala yoga studio in the centre of town and we currently have three spaces left on our January 2020 course.
If you are not local to Saffron Walden but love the sound of the course, we also offer online antenatal classes, coaching and support via Skype. Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
We offer free consultations if you would like to have a chat first about what you are looking for and how we can support you. We also offer unlimited support via our free Facebook group: The Empowered Birth Club