Should we be grateful for a bad outcome?

So many times, I am hearing and witnessing new parents being grateful to the “professionals” for saving them and their baby. Where this is true, the healthcare staff do save lives. What appears to be worrying trend to thank the interventions that may not have actually been necessary and actually caused the need to be “saved” in the first place.

Statistics show that on average in the UK 70% of births have some form of intervention happen. Do we really think that we have evolved so only 30% of humans can birth the next generation without help? Yes, epigenetics may be having an effect on this (watch for new blog post) but to such an extent? I’m really not convinced this should be so low.

Therefore, these interventions will, mostly, be unnecessary.

In practice as a Doula and trainee Counsellor working in this area, I am seeing that when women realise that what happened to them may not have needed to happen, they have a whole range of emotion. Anger, distress, sadness, anxiety, distrust, the list goes on. I also see women coming and saying, “They saved mine and my babies life, so why do I feel this way.”  “It was done to me, not with me” Then they do not wish to approach what happened in any detail and piece things together. Mothers, and fathers seem to enter a dissociated state, a trauma state.

Acknowledging that those who “saved” a mother and baby may actually be the one who caused the need to be saved is a really difficult journey and should not be ignored. Many parents come to us quite angry at what happened. “It was done to me. I didn’t know I could say no, I trusted them.”. This is NOT consent.

Gaslighting is a term used to describe what abusers do to their victims in order to manipulate them to be grateful to the abuser. Even manipulating the victims version of really that they doubt their reality. It appears this may be happening on a societal level.

All this is not saying that maternity professionals are deliberately causing harm to then save women and babies. This appears to be more a societal/ cultural issue. “Well at least you have a live baby”. “At least we have a free health service” “they do what they can with limited funding”. Should we be grateful for limited care? The worry within the medical professionals to act before a major incident could be contributing. The worry of litigation. The lack of education around birth expectations. The overworking of staff. The lack of funding within the health care system. Many factors can be contributing to this.

So, what can birth workers do? Listen, even if a mother comes to us reporting these things, listen. Do not dismiss.

What can we do to prevent this? This can be a difficult balance. Sometimes intervention needs to happen to save lives. Consider if the intervention is too soon and a bit panicky. For example, is this induction truly clinically indicated if she is 40+10? Does the mother and father have the full range of information to make the decision? Time can be limited to do this, I know. So, let’s think how this can be done. The lack of funding in the NHS is a real problem. Staff and the public all feel it. I’m not sure how that can change anytime soon without a real shake up of government policy. (a whole other blog/debate) I do believe that we can all ease the burden of this with compassion and acknowledging where we may get it wrong.

Antenatal education is important! Find an antenatal class or Doula who can give all the information for all eventualities so you, as parents, can have all the information available before you could be in the moment needing to make a quick decision. In our classes we talk about the BRAIN.

Benefits – what are the benefits of doing or not doing this?

Risks – What are the risks associated?

Alternatives – What alternatives are they? True alternatives. Not just carefully selected alternatives to coerce into something.

Instinct – what is your instinct saying? Listen to it, it is important.

Nothing –  what happens if you do nothing? Can you just wait? With any decision there is always the option of doing nothing.

Second opinion or Smile – Can you have a second opinion? Or just smile and ask for some time to think. Even if 1 minute.

Everything pregnancy and birth related is the choice of the parents. More than that it is the choice of the mother.

If you are afraid to say no, then it is not informed consent.

If you are reading this and are feeling some distress or that something like this has happened to you then please call us, we have trained staff to talk to. Or contact your local mental health team, Birth Trauma Association, Samaritans.

You can also feedback to your local maternity and health service as they do want to learn how to make care better.

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What does a Doula do?

This is a question often asked.

In the UK, Doulas are becoming more and more popular, for various reasons.

Each Doula works slightly differently. Even within Snowdrop Doula we have Doulas with different expertise.

Basic Doula training usually contains:

Basic birth physiology
Listening skills

Breastfeeding knowledge.

Debriefing own experience

With Snowdrop Doula our Doulas are training in additional skills such as:
First aid adults, babies and children

UNICEF BFI training
Infant feeding support
Counselling and listening skills Smoking cessation
Domestic violence
Knowledge of obstetric emergencies.
With constant supervision and continuous professional development

So what do Doulas do.
• Support,
• Listen,
• Empower,
• Non judgemental,
• Private antenatal class,
• Help offload
• Help you to know your options
• Support choices
• Birth support,
• Infant feeding,
• Relationships expectation support
• Help you to manage expectations,
• Massage
•Postnatal support (from holding baby whilst you shower to helping with food prep)
• Mental health support

What Doulas don’t do.

• Birth or deliver babies (Mums do that)

• Diagnose
• Advise
• Medical checks

Our Doulas are all mothers (and a grandma) who have various experiences of birth, their own and others. They have additional training around pregnancy, birth and infant feeding.

Some describe as “the wise woman that would’ve been in the village helping all the pregnant women”.

We’ve even had a dad explain Doulas as “an insurance policy”, “someone there that you may not need but is good to have for the moments of not so calm.”

So, what do Doulas do? Lots of things. Be there for YOU!

My home birth story

Birth of H 23/04/2013

Photography click click bang photography, copyright snowdrop doula CIC
Photography click click bang photography, copyright snowdrop doula CIC

The pregnancy was a complete shock. I thought my family was complete with the two children I already had. I was in a new relationship and we definitely were not planning to have any children between us.
The universe had another idea and I fell pregnant. As soon as we found out I knew the baby was sent for a reason. I believe everything happens for a reason.
I immediately looked into hiring an independent midwife and doula. I couldn’t afford either. I knew immediately that this baby would be born at home and I wouldn’t be induced unless medically necessary. I felt prepared and not scared.
The scan from the hospital out my dates back 2whole weeks. Which I felt gave me breathing time for NHS induction protocol to kick in.
By my dates (i feel ovulation) 40 weeks came and went. By the scan date, 40 weeks came and went. I wasn’t worried I knew things would happen when they should.
On the Monday 22nd April 2013 (43 weeks exactly by my dates) we had a normal day, big 2 at school then we ate and relaxed. We had made some play dough over the Easter holidays so we all played with that making allsorts of things. We had a mini competition, between me and Roger, over who can make the best Yoda. Whilst playing I’d started to feel uncomfy and a need to move about. I had bad SPD and on crutches since about 16weeks so this wasn’t easy. I had been getting the twinges on and off over the previous week so said it’s probably nothing and to see what happens. I said let’s wait for the “flush out” if my body expels then perhaps it’s more. Expecting nothing.
An hour or so later I needed the toilet and yep “flushed out”. Lightbulb went and I knew things were shifting. The surges seem to becoming regularly and with each one I felt a need to go inward. Yet I knew it wasn’t strong enough yet.
Bedtime came for the big 2 and I took them up to bed and tucked them in. I rarely do this as they like to sort themselves out. Somehow I knew this time to do it and cherish the last moments with them before another baby. I said to them, “I think you’ll have a baby brother by the time you wake up so get some sleep.” They were soon asleep which was unusual. As soon as they were in bed things started to become stronger and faster. Almost immediately to the point I went into my bedroom straight away to breathe and go inward. I listened to my body, I felt liberated.
I shouted R (my “boyfriend”) to come upstairs. I didn’t want to time things but I think I was doubting I was actually doing this again so we downloaded a “contraction timer” app and they were very regular. I said perhaps we should phone the midwife, knowing that my previous labour was very fast and the midwives may have to journey from Yorkshire.
They agreed to send midwife over as they knew I was in labour.
Midwife arrived about 45 minutes later by this time I definitely knew I was in labour. The surges felt painful but I was breathing them through and switching off. I think I was finally admitting I was pregnant and another baby was coming. Everything ran through my head and some instinct kicked in. Once I accepted what was happening I thought right let’s do this! Something clicked and I trusted myself and my body more than I’ve ever done before or since. (I really must trust myself) Instincts are a powerful thing and I now know this.
I bounced on the gym ball and rocked bak and forth during the surges. Remembering everything I know about switching off and listening to my body I went further and further inward.
The midwife, Lynn, came in nice and calmly mid surge and said hi to R, winked at me and simply observed. YES! I’d got a good one!
Once things subsided I came back “in the room” gently to talk to her. She introduced herself, asked questions about what I wanted to happen. She asked about me and we chatted about doulas. R was back and forth with buckets of water filling the birth pool up. Took him almost 2 hrs in the end.
My chats with the midwife gradually got shorter and shorter and she and I knew to stop chatting and allow me to move inward.
She asked me if I wanted to be examined. I was curious and ready to ask so consented. 2cm. I didn’t think much of it as I know cervix can dilate quickly and I know mine definitely can. She had also asked if she should do a little sweep too. I said yes, knowing it could get things moving and it was now midnight.
I have no idea if it was that or it did something psychologically but I did feel something change and turn up a gear then.
We called my parents to come and keep an eye on the big 2 so we could concentrate on me and new baby. I was conscious that I was naked but for a blanket I had over my shoulders and that my parents hadn’t seen me naked since childhood and specifically conscious that R and my parents were there. They didn’t seem to be phased by this though. They arrived soon after and quietly arrived, as if they just “knew”. My mum signalled in between contractions that she’d brought food for PN and sorted into freezer and fridge for me. They asked if they should just go upstairs and I said yes. Apparently they put tv on low and sat on my bed.

The pool was now full and R had been rubbing my lower back (seems to be my thing in labour) for quite a while now. I thought about getting in the pool but thought, ” hmm I feel comfy enough doing what I’m doing” and the thought of getting a contraction with one leg in one leg out put me off. I decided to not get in.

Labour continued and I moved on to my knees on the settee with my face planted into a pillow on the back of the settee. R continued to rub my back. My mum quietly came up and down stairs and just sat quietly watching in the corner. We hadn’t previously discussed this but had said that in my previous labour her rubbing my back didn’t have the same effect as my then partner did. Thinking now I must somehow connect with the father of the baby during labour. Her being there in the corner this time felt quietly empowering. She seemed calm and just a “mother/ women” energy. Something quiet ancient and primal. She has since said that it was an empowering experience for her too.

I began howling and growling, swore a little too, but was inward and imagining thing moving and opening. My dad, who was upstairs throughout, said my sounds were very different to those my mum made and were very animalistic and primal.

As things were getting closer I felt an urge to kiss R and he felt it to. He said there was something quite attractive about it all. (This is a man who never wanted children, let alone watch a birth!) we had a “moment” as I felt baby descend. This I can only describe as semi orgasmic, I didn’t notice anyone else in the room at this point. A 2nd midwife had arrived by this point, who i knew from antenatal appointments. She was now checking heartbeat quietly through contractions. I didn’t mind this and when I felt uncomfortable a couple of times she stopped.

So baby descended. I hardly pushed. Waters now popped. (First time this has happened naturally in my births) Gotta love fetal ejection reflex. I had a panicky moment which I think was me actually realising I was having a baby in next minute and requested gas and air for the first time. The mw went to retrieve from her car. I had one slight puff, which was definitely a psychological thing and baby came out!

I felt the familiar “flop” feeling and he’d landed on the settee. 4:13am on 23rd April 2013 H was born on my settee. Weighing 8lb9oz, he wasn’t weighed for over an hour.

Newborn with skin to skin.  Copyright Michelle Bromley, Snowdrop Doula
Newborn with skin to skin.
Copyright Michelle Bromley, Snowdrop Doula

I turned over and picked him up and immediate he reached for the breast and we stayed there for ages! I don’t know how long. My parents were upstairs by this point and apparently my mum turned to my dad the moment baby was born and said, “oh he’s here, let’s see if we can see.” My dad replied, “how do you know?” She said, “I just do!”. Amazing! They were slowly peeking down stairs (open stair case) not long after. They were again quietly in background. The moment felt wonderful and magical and very healing and cleansing even though I had NO idea I needed healing/cleansing. Wonderful!

I do know that I was in that position for over an hour as we waited just over an hour for the placenta to emerge. I opted for the injection after the hour as I was knackered and just wanted to
go to bed. I had a drink of water and some biscuits R had made the day before and went off to bed. I will never forget the experience. Amazing, magical, wonderful. I truly felt like a goddess for months afterwards, the high wouldn’t leave and when I think about it I still smile and feel all tingly!
I am Woman, Hear me Roar!!

Delivering babies or birthing babies?

image-1Are babies delivered or do women birth them?

This subject has been on my mind for a while so I thought it’d be a subject to blog about.

We often hear or read birth stories and the word “delivery” is almost always in there somewhere. “I delivered my baby…”. “Midwife x/ doctor y delivered my baby”. To me, and many other doulas/ birth workers the word just doesn’t sound correct.

Copyright Michelle Bromley, snowdrop doulaSo what does the word mean and why doesn’t it feel right?

The dictionary definition of “deliver” does mention, “The act of giving birth to a child”. Although overall the definition does talk of the handing over of goods.


(Plural) -eries

  1.  the act of giving birth to a child   ⇒ she had an easy delivery
    1. the act of delivering or distributing goods, mail, etc.
    2. something that is delivered
    3. (as modifier)   ⇒ a delivery service
  2. manner or style of utterance, esp in public speaking or recitation   ⇒ the chairman had a clear delivery
  3. the act of giving or transferring or the state of being given or transferred
  4. the act of rescuing or state of being rescued; liberation
  5. (sport)an actual or symbolic handing over of property, a deed, etc
    1. the act or manner of bowling or throwing a ball
    2. the ball so delivered   ⇒ a fast delivery
  6. the discharge rate of a compressor or pump
  7. (in South Africa) the supply of basic services to communities deprived under apartheid


Delivery is associated with goods. We take a delivery of goods we have ordered from somewhere. Do we order our babies to be delivered by a third party? Like a good from eBay?

Who is this third party?

With sentences such as, “thank you to my midwife X who delivered my baby” we are constantly seeing women giving over their baby’s birth to the midwife or doctor. A third party is delivering their baby. Through this the process of birth and transformation of a woman to a mother gets somewhat lost as women constantly believe that someone else “delivered” their baby.

Is it a case of language and communication?

Language in everyday life is so important and especially important surrounding birth. As a birth worker it is essential to empower women to have responsibility of their experience and empower them however the birth turns so they feel in some control. It is proven that if a woman feels empowered and in control then she will have a positive experience of birth. If a women is believing that a midwife delivered  her baby rather than her birthing her baby herself then we let her to give over an extremely important part of her life to someone she may never meet again. She gives over the responsibility of her birth and transformation. She never owns it. As birth workers we know the importance of a mother needing to own the birth and her baby. Some (perhaps me included) would say that if women can’t own their birth then how can we expect them to own the “product” of that birth (i.e. the baby) fully and easily? We see in the animal world that if there is any intervention in the birth then the mother rejects the baby. Can we relate this to a human being allowed to believe someone else “delivered” her baby as allowing a third party intervention?

How about we all birth our babies?

The word birth conjures up allsorts of thoughts and feelings. Of magic, wonder and owe to orgasmic to fear, pain, hurt, blood and possibly horror. So many different and opposite feelings. However, birth should be and can be a positive experience.


  1. the process of bearing young; parturition; childbirth related adjective natal
  2. the act or fact of being born; nativity
  3. the coming into existence of something; origin
  4. ancestry; lineage   ⇒ of high birth
  5. noble ancestry   ⇒ a man of birth
  6. natural or inherited talent   ⇒ an artist by birth
  7. (archaic) the offspring or young born at a particular time or of a particular mother
  8. See give birth

Verb (transitive)


  1. to bear or bring forth (a child) 

I think the last sentence in the definition of “birth” speaks volumes. “To bear or bring forth”. Can a third party do this easily? I say not. What about, “the coming into existence”? This is more spiritual, positive and magical. A woman has to do something here to bring a child into existence. This word doesn’t allow for a third party to take full responsibility. Unlike the word “delivery” which immediately conjures up images of a third party help necessary.

Women will recall the fine details of the birth of their children forever. When we let women say, “The midwife who delivered my baby” it can make the lady feel somewhat detached from their experience for their whole lives. To empower women and mothers and therefore future generations surely we need to give them their births back? Let them own it.

Even when intervention is necessary is possible to give women ownership of their bodies and birth of their child? I would say yes, this is especially important, so they don’t feel like they have failed. They have still birthed their baby, albeit with help. It’s important to empower the woman to call the shots and own what is happening.

So, are babies delivered or do women birth babies?

Can we rethink the language we may use and how we respond to those comments?

Let’s empower women and mothers.