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Passion for supporting women and their families through pregnancy, birth and the transition to parenthood

Emily joined the Leeds Maternity Voices Partnership because she has a passion for supporting women and their families through pregnancy, birth and the transition to parenthood

Emily – volunteer for the Leeds Maternity Voices Partnership

I’m Emily and I’m a local Antenatal Practitioner and a mum of three. I’m new to the Leeds Maternity Voices Partnership (MVP), and I joined because I have a passion for supporting women and their families through pregnancy, birth and the transition to parenthood.

I’m really looking forward to meeting more local families and working with our wonderful health professionals.

Help women to feel more empowered and positive about birth

To be involved with something that would help women to feel more empowered and positive about birth

Sally – volunteer for the Leeds Maternity Voices Partnership

I’m Sally and I’m a mother to two beautiful girls, Lois who is three and Lori who is just over three months now. I found out about the Leeds Maternity Voices Partnership (MVP) through seeing a post being shared on Facebook and I knew instantly I had to be involved! It was something I had been searching for but didn’t know existed.

After the birth of my second daughter I wanted to be involved with something that would help women to feel more empowered and positive about birth. I had this overwhelming sense of pride for what my body could do after birthing my children, and I wanted to help others to feel like they could do it without any fear. After all we are built to do this! After my 20 week scan on my second pregnancy, I was told I was having a ‘big’ baby so was booked in for growth scans every three weeks. I seemed to hear the words ‘big’ baby every time I went to a hospital appointment but not really much else. I asked what this meant and at the time I really wish I hadn’t. All I was given was negative outcomes to having this ‘big’ baby. Words like ‘getting stuck’, ‘complications during labour’, ‘tearing’ and I didn’t really hear anything that was positive. So that was it, fear set in and with a bit of my own “Dr Google” I really became quite scared. I didn’t feel I had any support and I even started to look in to how I could stop my baby growing! (Which you can’t by the way, they are the size they are) This was crazy as we want a healthy baby and that’s all.

Anyway a long story short I was induced at 39 weeks and my labour started instantly, after three hours later I was holding my beautiful baby girl. I had a wonderful and straightforward birth with no complications, or any need for any sort of pain relief or intervention, I did it, I birthed my baby all 10lb 4oz of her all on my own. My midwives and my husband were amazing during my labour, and didn’t doubt for one second that I wouldn’t be able to do it. This support got me through those hours and I will always be grateful for that.

Birth is amazing whatever way you do it and the main thing is that you CAN do it.

I’m just a mum who wants to help other mums find their superpowers.

Emma’s Story – A Positive Birth

Having a positive birth is possible for the majority of women and the care they receive can greatly influence their experience. Emma shares with us her experiences.

Hi, my name is Emma, I’m a mum of three, a step mum of three, and a wife to one, living in Farsley, West Leeds. I’m a service user representation for the Leeds Maternity Voices Partnership (MVP) around my work and family commitments, and I’m a bit of a birth geek. I’ve had three babies in the last six years and, I’d like to tell you my story.

Why I became involved with the MVP

I become involved with the MVP because my three birth experiences have been hugely different from each other. The difference between them has inspired me to believe that positive birth is very possible for the majority of women and that the care a woman receives can greatly influence their experience. Frankly, I think that although care is often excellent, sometimes it is not, and I would like to add my energy to improving this for women, to enable them to face the challenges of parenthood without the challenges of a difficult birth to hinder their efforts.

My birthing stories

Baby One – The High Intervention Birth

My first experience wasn’t great. Initially I was fine but my labour escalated dramatically and after some intervention (that I later learned was unnecessary), it led to further intervention and ultimately a lot of healing for my poor battered body. My initial aftercare was very poor and I left the hospital in quite a bad way. I felt awful for some time afterwards, but I thought it was normal, after all, birth is supposed to be hideous isn’t it?

Baby Two – The Undisturbed Birth

Three years on, I was pregnant again and I was sailing through physically but emotionally I was NOT OK. I had fantastic support from my community midwife and I employed a doula, a professional birth attendant, and between them both I got my head in a better place.

When it came, my experience was so different it blew my mind. I stayed in control, I stayed mobile, I stayed calm. Labour was intense but manageable. When I had my moment of panic I mentally forced myself to relax. My baby descended with each breath without any pain, without panic, without pushing. It was such an amazing experience I couldn’t believe it had happened. I couldn’t believe it had happened to me and I felt amazing and I was on a high for weeks afterwards.

Baby Three- The Home Birth

For baby number three I wanted to repeat my second birth experience but with a birth pool and I wanted to get into my own bed afterwards. I was confident I could birth my baby on my own without the facilities of a hospital behind me and I knew I would feel more comfortable at home. I was not disappointed. My baby was born in the pool, I didn’t experience the peace of my second birth but instead I roared through the sensations as I felt my baby move down. It was intense and incredibly satisfying and I fished her out of the pool with my own hands! I felt amazing. She was born all wrapped up in the cord and still with the caul/membrane sac partially around her. She was pink and healthy and was clearly happy with our birth experience too!

These three experiences were so different it seems hard to believe, but this is my story and my truth. I am left in awe of birth and with a great respect for the birth process and the human body and its innate capability to create and nurture life. The effect of a negative birth experience vs a great one is like trying to compare being in a horrible car accident to having trip in a hot air balloon. They are so different.

Is birth is a trial to be endured?

I was left with an enthusiasm for birth and yet an empathy for those who have had a hard experience. My eyes opened to the ‘bad press’ birth has, which has become intrinsic in our generation. We see films and TV programmes where women scream and holler through labour strapped to hospital trolleys, have you ever seen a calm, peaceful birth on TV? Our expectations of birth are very low and I want to change that for my daughter, and for my sons. As a non-medic I didn’t know what I could do, but as the MVP was forming I thought perhaps I could do something. I still don’t know what exactly, but maybe telling you my story is a start.

My advise

My advise to pregnant women and their partners would be to learn, to make a plan, and a plan B and possibly a plan C too. To be advised but to know your own mind too. To consider who you trust and to take them with you, either literally or in your mind. To remember that you have the history of thousands of birthing women behind you and know that you can do it too. To ask questions, and keep asking if you don’t understand the answers and trust that your body knows it’s business. Know that you matter too, know that you will be OK.


If a woman doesn’t look like a goddess in labour then someone isn’t treating her right

Ina May Gaskin