T’was the night before Christmas and all through the house … actually the morning before Christmas, but with tweens and teens nothing is stirring apart from me and my very hungry doula-cat, Frank! Yes there are sprouts, potatoes, parsnips and carrots to prepare, and hordes of visitors and relatives turning up this afternoon, but I just want to ignore all of that for a few minutes to think about what I would really like for Christmas.
2016 has been a tumultuous year for everyone, without exception. Very unexpected decisions have been made by large populations, we have seen grief writ large as many much-loved people have left us and there are horrendous ongoing war, terrorist attacks and refugee situations. It seems to be a time of chaos and disorder. My overwhelming hope is that this is what is meant to be happening before a shift in to a new phase of calm and acceptance.
In the world of maternity it seems there is a parallel with the world situation, but some clear voices speaking up for positivity and women’s rights and it is exciting to be a small part of that. If the 3 Magi were to visit with gifts for the maternity world I wish that they bring:
The gift of listening. So that we are truly able to hear what people are asking for when they speak up about their needs in pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period. So that we sit, without agenda or other distractions, and give someone the opportunity to open their mouth and let whatever is inside come tumbling out. So that we hear without needing to fix or give advice. So that we hear our colleagues and friends when they share about the challenging situations they have been in. So that we debrief and reflect in order not to carry trauma within us which can then negatively affect others.
The gift of collaborative working. So that we come together to support each other in our endeavours to give women, and their partners, the best experience possible, regardless of circumstances. So that we work together to improve our maternity services and to implement the newest National Maternity Guidelines. So that we share ideas and foster mutual support and growth.
The gift of respect. So that we honour what people ask for, even when it does not tally with our own thoughts, perceptions or feelings about how something should be. So that we acknowledge that everyone is worthy and comes from a place that deserves compassion. So that we show those around us who haven’t been taught about honouring others that there is another way.
Actually, I think these are gifts that apply to everyone, not just those in the maternity world. I still believe in human beings and our abilities to be positive, respectful and hard-working, though there are times this year when my beliefs have been really shaken. I hope 2017 proves to be the year when my beliefs are strengthened, that we move forward and make significant changes for the better.
Wishing you, your families, friends those you work with a very merry Christmas and a peaceful, harmonious new year.
Sophie Brigstocke is one of the owners of Nurturing Birth, offering Doula Training courses across the UK, Europe and beyond, an International Mentoring Programme and the Nurturing Birth Directory for families to find support before, during and after birth. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org