Birth Campaigner, Doula and Spoken Word Artist
gives the lowdown on why she gave birth on TV!
Having your birth filmed isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
Airing that birth on mainsteam TV in front of an audience of 1.5 million on BBC1 isn’t either!
So why did I do it?
Well partly it’s because I’m probably a bit bonkers.
But mostly it’s because it’s really important women see undisturbed births.
Most, I think, don’t know it’s possible or what the advantages are.
Seraphina Skye’s birth featured on the BBC1 documentary “Childbirth – All or Nothing”. It aired in February 2015. Here’s a mini clip of it
I got tremendous feedback after the show aired. To this day people still contact me to say that show inspired them to have a home birth.
Landmark Films who made the show for the BBC did a great job.
My Fear of Childbirth
Pregnant the first time, I thought I had tokophobia, a fear of childbirth but I didn’t.
I had a fear of the medicalisation of childbirth, something there is currently no word for!
My mum told me from a young age birth was the worst thing ever.
She said it was so bad she couldn’t believe women have more than one child!
She hadn’t prepared to feel any pain.
Her very charismatic Gynaecologist told her he would take care of everything.
And when she did feel pain, she was scared.
She had no inner tools to deal with it.
There had been no practice of breathing or visualisations, nothing.
She woke up after the epidural and thought her legs were paralysed.
Then she got an infection and stayed in hospital for two weeks.
Not the best start either for her or me.
But it was catalyst for me to do everything I could not to repeat this experience.
In fact, it was the midwife at my first antenatal appointment in 2011 who suggested I should watch ‘One Born Every Minute’ as it was ‘very realistic’.
And yes, feel free to reel in horror!
I came home and diligently watched the show for the first time. I was petrified!
The women I saw didn’t seem in control. They looked really scared.
Somehow, it just didn’t look right to me. Too much panic and too many distractions.
‘Why can animals birth, almost always, effectively and yet somehow humans are deficient? Surely birth doesn’t need to be like that! What is going on?’ I thought.
Learning To Relax
And so I started to research. I was working at the time for the NHS in the Psychological Medicines service in Physical Health.
So my interest has always been how the mind affects the body and the body affects the mind.
I wanted to know what I could do to prepare for birth.
I discovered the Association of Radical Midwives, self hypnosis for birth and Ina May Gaskin.
I discovered techniques to calm the mind and affect the body.
I learnt how providing an environment that’s conducive to the birth is so crucial.
And my partner found out how he could be a better birth partner and how his role of keeping me calm was so important.
I feel lucky to have experienced continuity of care from a fabulous midwife and I had a doula too.
The things I learnt were not available in my NHS classes which seemed to be more focused on the various ways of surviving childbirth and how the system worked. There was a great emphasis on the vast array of pain medications available but little about the side effects.
I wanted to know how I could actually support myself to have a better birth experience.
After the show aired, I felt I had more to say. So much was lost in the edit.
I had the idea to create my own series of bitesize films and my friend, Cathy Brewster of Greater Manchester Homebirth Support Group suggested I crowdfund the money to make them.
So I set up the crowdfunding platform and was overwhelmed by the support from friends, family and so many people I didn’t know. Amazing!!!
And so, ‘The Birth You In Love Project’ was born; a series of mini-vids to help empower parents to be.
While they’ve been being being created, I’ve been using spoken word to speak at birth conferences, events, festivals and midwifery study days all over the UK.
Among them, I’ve spoken at the Manchester Home Birth Conference, The MAMA Conference in Scotland, I’ve been on Sprogcast (twice), been on the line up with Ina May Gaskin (twice) and I even got a gig in Norway at a conference called Women’s Right’s In Childbirth: Take Back Control in October 2016
After this gig, I changed my twitter profile to Kati Edwards: International Birth Warrior!
No really, I did!
Giving birth in front of 1 ½ million people on mainstream TV gave me a new focus. I left my NHS job and I’m now a doula, a hypnobirthing teacher and I speak and write about the changes I’d like to see in maternity services.
The Birth You In Love Project EMPOWER series will be a FREE video resource to recommend to women wanting to know how they can support themselves through birth.