I was honoured to be invited to participate in a Facebook Live event today, hosted by Maternal Mental Health Matters 2020, who represent a number of key maternity advocacy groups in Australia. Over an hour an a half we heard from staunch maternity advocates Annalee Atia and Sally Cusack (from Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond Media), birth trauma experts Dr Lauren Tober (psychologist) and Debby Gould (co-author of How to Heal a Bad Birth and founder of Birthtalk), strong and proud First Nations midwives Melanie Briggs and Cleone Wellington (from the Waminda Birthing on Country project), midwife Professor Hannah Dahlen and lawyer Bashi Kumar (who along with Virginia Schmeid authored the book Birthing Outside the System: The Canary in the Coal Mine), and obstetricians Associate Professor Andrew Bisits and myself.
Together we discussed what birth trauma is, how common it is, and why it happens. We heard about the particular challenges faced by First Nations women who often have a history of trauma related to their contacts with other government funded systems, and of the transformative effect that having comprehensive and culturally appropriate maternity care can have on women, their babies, and their whole communities. We explored the question of whether there is value in physiological birth. Suggestions were offered about how to address the problem of birth trauma in our maternity care system.
I had an amazing time participating and listening to people generously share their knowledge, and am still on a buzz several hours later. A video of the event is available here and is well worth investing a tiny bit more than an hour and a half of your time to watch.
Please consider making a donation towards the Birthing on Country project while you are at it!