For most people, childbirth is seen as a painful means to a wonderful end – but a new group is trying to change that.
The Positive Birth Movement’s global network has now expanded to include the mothers of Worthing, who meet once a month to work through their anxieties surrounding pregnancy and labour and to get advice.
The group is run by a trio of professionals, including midwife Jessica Smart.
She said it was important to change the perception about giving birth: “With most things in life, we associate pain with something being wrong with us. But when it comes to birth, that experience changes because the pain isn’t bringing you any harm; it is bringing you your baby.”
The 28-year-old is also joined by hypnobirth teacher Naomi Newland and Shirley Gain, yoga teacher and wellness coach. Together, they will teach deep breathing and relaxation methods which will help make labour less stressful for mother and baby, and discuss topics such as what to do if you are overdue and the mother’s birth rights.
The first meeting took place at St Paul’s Church in Worthing last month and attracted a wide range of people, including an expectant father and a student midwife.
Jessica opted for water births at home in Goring for the delivery of her sons Dexter, four, and Casper, two.
She said: “It was so transformative and powerful, and the best days of my life – and not just because I had my babies, but because the experience was that amazing.”
Sat in a pool of warm water in the comfort of her own home, Jessica said she felt more relaxed and in control of her labour – and said it was key that women were allowed to make their own choices about where and how they would give birth.
The post-natal period is also important. And as an independent midwife, Jessica has done some more experimental rituals, including a South American ‘closing the bones ceremony’, which involves wrapping the mother tightly in shawls, and making capsules out of ground placenta.
After slicing it thinly, the placenta is put in a dehydrator for 16 hours, and the resulting jerky is ground into a powder and put into capsules. Each placenta can yield around 120 tablets.
The Positive Birth Movement’s next meeting is on Saturday, October 14 at St Paul’s Church.