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Doulas, News

Reflecting on the closure of One to One and the current state of maternity care in the UK

Elle and I were shocked and saddened this week to hear the news that One to One Midwives have gone into administration. It’s a huge blow for birthing women and our hearts break for the midwives involved and most of all for the women whose birth plans now feel completely up in the air.

One to One Midwives logoIt is great to see women rising up and demanding change, creating petitions and sharing their outrage that yet another women-centred service has been forced to close it’s doors. However, I can’t help but feel like it won’t be enough to create any real, lasting change for women. The closure of services like One to One highlights a much wider issue around women’s services.

Why aren’t women a priority?

Albany Midwives, Neighbourhood Midwives, the drawn out difficulties for independent midwifery, One to One… services like these that really serve birthing women in a holistic and woman-centred way have always been and will aways be at risk. The closure of One to One is another example of how the NHS does not place any significant value on models of care that are proven to improve outcomes for women and their babies.

Should it be enough for trusts that following a birth everyone still has a pulse and nobody gets sued? The overall physical and emotional well-being of a mother and her baby don’t seem to be valued at all. Certainly not enough for the NHS to invest in services that recognise the importance and undeniable benefits of holistic models of care.

What about the woman left feeling traumatised after a birth full of unnecessary intervention? Then the resulting upset of the mother-baby dyad and the impact of that disruption on bonding, breastfeeding and the long term wellbeing of both the woman and her child? It’s a story we hear over and over because the system does not work.

What if things were different?

Imagine a world where all women birth in power and not fear and it’s not surprising that the state doesn’t want to support organisations and services that put women at the centre of their birthing experiences.

When we birth in power, we feel powerful! We feel capable of anything and no longer willing to be good girls. We dissent and take what we need because we see our countless strengths and recognise our worth. And by protecting the bond we have with our babies, we are able to pass this wisdom and power on to the next generation. Would a nation of powerful women be able to fit into our current patriarchal society?

Who does it serve when women birth in captivity and in oppressive environments that centre obstetric models of “care”? It’s certainly not women, ignoring our needs in an effort to keep us docile and compliant. And it works so well!

But what can we do?

Arunhati Roy quote “The system will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling - their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability. Remember this: We may be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them. Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”The cost to the system of listening to our outrage and responding to our petitions might be too great. But that doesn’t mean we can’t change birth for ourselves. What would happen if we stopped asking our oppressors to change the system and instead started to take back our power in birth? Real change will come from women living and birthing in power despite oppressive systems of care because it’s our birth rite.

Asserting our human right to birth however we choose to, only accepting interventions that we want, listening to our intuition over and above policies and procedures every step of the way, autonomous pregnancies and free birthing knowing that we are the ultimate knowledge when it comes to our bodies and our babies. Women supporting women rather than relying on a system that does not serve us.

What are Greater Manchester Doulas CIC doing?

We will continue to serve women across Greater Manchester, supporting them to realise their innate power and wisdom by protecting their human rights, providing holistic support and education, and building sisterhood between women. 

Art by Taynee Tinsley
Art by Taynee Tinsley

If you have been affected by the closure of One to One, we’re here for you. As doulas we aren’t substitutes for midwives. While we can’t replace the support you had from your One to One midwife, we do offer an additional layer of support that might help you to navigate this difficult time. Whether you want birth doula support, or want some help reimagining and preparing for your birth with our HoldingSpace service, please get in touch. We can offer long term payment plans, and have funding available if our fees are prohibitive. Know that we see you, we care and we’re so sorry that the rug has been pulled out from beneath you.

 

 

 

News

Go forth and vote!

We are delighted to have had our first successful application to the Tesco Bags of Help Grant Scheme!

Tesco teamed up with Groundwork to launch its community funding scheme, which sees grants of £4,000, £2,000 and £1,000 raised from carrier bag sales in Tesco stores awarded to local community projects.

Greater Manchester Doulas CIC, along with two other groups have been shortlisted in the Hale & Altrincham Tesco region, to receive the cash award and shoppers are being invited to head along to Tesco stores to vote for who they think should take away the top grant.

Our project offers vulnerable women continuous support throughout pregnancy, birth and early parenthood. With the funding we will be able to offer this service for free, for up to 5 women who are young, vulnerable (e.g. through domestic abuse/ previous trauma/ mental health issues), disabled, newly arrived and/or alone. By working with these women we are addressing the need for bespoke support to complex clients and offering support that may not otherwise be available to them.

As always, your support with this is hugely valued and we would love for you to pop down to the stores and vote for us! Voting will take place from Sunday 1st July to Friday 31st August 2018 at Tesco Extra Altrincham and Tesco Express Hale.

Wish us luck!

Lauren, Elle & Christine x

News

We are a social enterprise!

We were so excited last month to be able to share the news, that after weeks of hard work and waiting (lots of waiting!!!), we are officially a community interest company (CIC)! We received our certificate of incorporation for Greater Manchester Doulas Community Interest Company, our not-for-profit social enterprise.

A CIC is a special type of limited company which exists to benefit the community rather than private shareholders. As a CIC, we are regulated by the CIC regulator to ensure that our activities fulfil a community purpose and that all assets are used for this community purpose.

What does this mean?

Becoming a CIC won’t really change how we work with women in the short term. We have always aimed to support women across the North West throughout their reproductive experiences, and this won’t change. What we hope will change over the coming months is how accessible our services are to women, and to create stronger connections with communities.

We have always been aware that finances and other circumstances are often a barrier for those seeking out doula support, in particular women who could be deemed as being more vulnerable. Being a social enterprise gives us a better foundation and infrastructure so we can work on bridging this gap.

With funding and donations we are able to offer our services for free or at a reduced rate to women who are vulnerable and / or experiencing financial hardship. Through being accessible to all women, regardless of their circumstances, we are addressing the need for bespoke support to complex clients and offering support that may not otherwise be available to them.

We also hope to create community peer support groups, creating opportunities for women in the community to come together and establish positive social networks with like minded individuals. After all, what is more powerful than women supporting other women?

How can I help?

As a startup social enterprise, we rely heavily on support from people like you. Any support you can offer is so very much appreciated! Here are just a couple of the ways you can support us currently:

  • Like, share and engage with our posts on social media to help spread the word about what we do.
  • Make a donation, no matter how small, every little helps!
    Donations can be made in cash if you fancy meeting up for a brew, through PayPal, or by bank transfer (get in touch for details).

We are so excited about the future for Greater Manchester Doulas CIC and we hope you continue to follow us on our journey!

Much love

Lauren, Elle & Christine x