Antenatal Support Group in Providenciales, Turks & Caicos

Jessica Maternity low res-2

My husband, Edward, and I held our first workshop together this Wednesday on Acupressure & a Gentle Birth. The idea for the workshop was inspired by all of the research that I have done on pregnancy and childbirth after I had a tough time delivering my daughter five years ago.  It has been a long healing journey for me and I’m excited to announce that we are expecting our second child who will be making their entry Earth side in October :-)  The intention for the workshop was to inspire women (including their partners) to take back their power, embrace the right of passage of becoming a mother and prepare for the many possible outcomes along this journey.  Having a husband that is an acupuncturist, I also saw the valuable opportunity of imparting knowledge surrounding the many options that Chinese medicine offers women in support them through pregnancy, labour and beyond.  What has resulted from facilitating the workshop is a deep desire in me to start a regular antenatal support group in Providenciales for pregnant women (along with partners too if they want) to gather, share their concerns, educate one another and most importantly empower each other to fully embrace this sacred right of passage.

Edward and I didn’t expect many people to show up for the workshop, but when the RSVPs kept rolling in, we knew that we were onto something.  As far as I’m aware, Providenciales doesn’t have any antenatal support groups.  Most of the women in the room were first time mothers all planning on giving birth on the island.  Being able to hear their concerns as well as the experiences of others that have both given birth as well as had medical procedures on the island was eye opening and concerning for me.  Despite having excellent health care facilities for such a small island, from what I have heard the level of intervention and restriction during labour and birthing is high – i.e favouring continuous electronic fetal monitoring vs intermittent, not permitting eating and drinking in labor in case of c-section, no use of shower/bathtub in labor/birth, favouring supine (lying on one’s back) than other birth positions, no VBACs (vaginal birth after c-section), a high c-section rate and home birthing is not an option.

I feel passionate about creating this space because having not attended anything like this myself whilst preparing for my first birth, I now recognise the value of it.  I would like to invite even the women who have already given birth on this island and are finished having their children to attend because their stories are so valuable.  The researcher in me would love to document these stories and some how make them available for future generations.  I would love for members of the medical profession to join us as well so that we can share our views, concerns and find a common meeting ground.

I had an emergency c-section in the United Kingdom which was mostly due to the pre-eclampsia symptoms that showed up towards the end of my pregnancy.  All along I had been planning a home water birth and there wasn’t much room for change on my birth plan.  In hindsight, I see how a lot of the agony I have experienced has been because I didn’t educate myself enough before hand and I certainly wasn’t prepared to be flexible with how I wanted the birth to happen despite numerous attempts from people that love and cared for me to help me see things differently.  Then of course was the fact that my daughter came with her own plan of how things would be for her birth 😉

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I now know differently and these words by Leslie, a midwife living in the Dominican Republic who is focusing on teaching and changing birth in the country sums it up perfectly for me:

The most important thing is to educate yourself. The process of birth is the same for every woman. It’s the experience of it that is different. The women who enter labor educated about the process, ready to accept whatever comes their way are the ones who are prepared to confidently walk into the dark.

If you’ve watched The Business of Being Born, a documentary by Rickie Lake, you will know that birth as it was known only 1oo years ago and embraced as a perfectly natural and normal process that happened at home with midwives, has since been falsely portrayed as a frightening ordeal to be endured and in most cases medicated or surgically assisted.  So much fear has been introduced and with that comes endless complications for what was a perfectly healthy pregnancy that could have transitioned into an unmedicated labour and unassisted birth.  The effects of this experience can often lead to post natal depression amongst many other complications.  I’m not saying that medical intervention isn’t necessary in certain situations.  My daughter and I would most probably not be here today if it hadn’t been for the medical team that supported us, so I am grateful and humbled by their efforts.  My argument and passion for education is in helping the women who do have a healthy pregnancy and deserve to be given the chance to give birth on their own terms, guided by the incredibly intuitive knowledge of their own bodies.  For this to happen women need to empower themselves with knowledge and a middle ground needs to be met in the hospitals. I also think that there is a desperate need for midwives in Turks & Caicos.

If you are interested in joining the support group, have a story that you would be happy to share with us or have any other information that could be relevant please reach out to me either in the comments section below or by email – info@athomewithmalita.com.  This idea is still new and fresh and the details of where and when to meet will emerge based on who reaches out.  I look forward to sharing the journey with you and empowering ourselves with knowledge about this sacred art.

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