Together with over 60 members of the First 1001 Days Movement, we have written to the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid, asking him to address the impacts of the pandemic on babies and their families, and to take longer-term action to ensure all our children have the best start in life.
The pandemic has been difficult for many families, with impacts on a range of factors that significantly contribute to child development. The letter points out that more than £3bn has been spent on mitigating the impact of the pandemic on older children, but nothing on those under two. We ask the Secretary of State to end the BabyBlindspot in Government's COVID-19 response and recovery plans.
The letter demands urgent action to ensure that babies’ health, wellbeing and safety is prioritised and that Government acts on its own commitment to “ensuring that children have the best start in life”. It describes three things that the Secretary of State should prioritise to make a significant difference:
You can read the full letter here
by Dr Zoe Williams published in Fabulous Magazine
IN a few weeks I will become a mum. Like all first-time mums-to-be I feel a mixture of emotions, from excitement to anxiety and back again.
I still haven’t packed my hospital bag and have only managed to tick a massive pack of Pampers off the long list of things to get.
Birth plans are encouraged but can prove difficult if, for some reason, you have to deviate, says Dr Zoe
But I keep reminding myself that if the baby was to make his or her appearance tomorrow, everything would be OK.
We live in a world where there are endless things you can get for your newborn, but if I was giving birth in a remote village in Africa I wouldn’t be relying on all those mod-cons.
While I might not have got everything on our list, I have been doing things to prepare both physically and mentally.
Birth plans are encouraged but can prove difficult if, for some reason, you have to deviate.
Women can feel they failed. That’s why I’ve tried not to get too stuck on one set plan.
Having had experience of obstetrics and gynaecology in my career, I had always thought about childbirth in very medical terms.
As a result, when I first found out I was pregnant I was really considering an elective C-section.
As a doctor, the only time you are generally called to a woman giving birth is if something is of concern or the mum-to-be is deemed high risk or has complications.
Most births can be handled by the wonderful midwives, without specialist intervention.
It’s only since being pregnant myself that I’ve really appreciated that straightforward births are the norm.
I chose to have a doula – a trained companion who is not a healthcare professional – to help me through my pregnancy and birth.
My partner Stuart and I have seen two doulas, Leti and Lauren, regularly and they’ve helped me address my over-medicalised view of childbirth while remaining evidence-based and appreciating scientific data.
Most women choose vaginal delivery and give birth without intervention.
As I have grown in confidence and felt my body do amazing things, growing and nurturing my baby, I have changed how I feel about birth.
I am leaning more towards having our baby at home, if my midwives deem it safe.
If I go into spontaneous labour before my due date, it’s likely they will support my hope.
But if I go beyond my due date, an induction may be recommended due to my age of 41, and hospital is likely to become a more suitable place.
Whatever it takes to achieve that, we will do.
by Lauren Millian
Why the isolation of the pandemic teamed with a rising celebrity trend has seen the ancient role of birthkeeper return to the fore.
Today marks the official launch of The Doula Association, a not-for-profit organisation that supports doulas to support women, birthing people and new families during pregnancy, birth and postnatally. The official launch of The Doula Association coincides with the start of the 10th annual World Doula Week - which runs from March 22 to 28 - which this year, appropriately, bears the theme: #DoulasFindAWay.
A doula is a non-medical birth worker, trained to support and care for new parents: to guide them through the pregnancy, providing answers and resources; to prepare them for the birth and their first few days and weeks with their new baby; and to hold their hands, physically and metaphorically, through the biggest transition of their lives.
“I feel extremely proud to represent this group of talented doulas as we emerge from unarguably the most difficult period that any of us have endured,” The Doula Association CEO, Kicki Hansard, says. “The past year has brought many challenges for birthing families and the doulas who support them, but the dedication, resilience, and perseverance of our doulas has improved birth and postnatal experiences for countless families across the country. Supporting each other as we support families, and working together to raise the collective profile of doulas, has seen us turn a corner in maternity care and mark the tenth annual World Doula Week with renewed commitment to our role.”
In 2020 during the Covid Pandemic, the doulas at The BirthBliss Academy felt the overwhelming need for an organised and collaborative voice for doulas in the UK - an overarching body that could both care for and campaign for doulas who were working hard to support clients despite restrictions. The success of #ButNotMaternity campaign - which we began as a way of highlighting the difficulties and maternity inequalities faced by birthing families, doulas, and healthcare workers due to the pandemic - inspired us to create a more permanent supportive structure for doulas, and the idea of The Doula Association was born.
The Doula Association now represents more than 200 highly skilled professional doulas who offer both birth and postnatal support – providing information antenatally to help clients prepare for a calm birth, staying with them during labour to provide practical comfort measures, and helping at home as the new family settles in and tackles feeding, newborn sleep and postnatal recovery. Studies show that women who choose to work with a doula are less likely to have unwanted interventions, including caesarean and assisted birth; have shorter labours; are less likely to use analgesia or anaesthesia; are less likely to have a baby who needs to be referred to special care; and are less likely to have a negative birth experience. Postnatally, women working with a doula have greater breastfeeding success; more confidence in their abilities as a mother; and lower rates of postnatal depression.
For more information about The Doula Association and the work that we do, visit www.thedoulaassociation.org. The tenth annual World Doula Week takes place from March 22nd to 28th. For more information or to find doula support near you, visit www.thedouladirectory.com.
by Lauren Milligan
Not everyone has family to support them through pregnancy and childbirth; enter the doula, a modern Mary Poppins every parent could benefit from
by Lauren Milligan
As birth partners remain locked out of scans, appointments and even the delivery room, a social media campaign is driving real change – but what is the long-term cost to the new families affected? Lauren Milligan investigates.