Big Birtha on Good Morning Britain Tomorrow!

Exciting news!

(If you’re a morning person. If you’re a night owl like me it’s slightly horrifying!)

Big Birtha has been invited onto Good Morning Britain to discuss the site and the cause of us plus-size pregnant mums, and the discriminatory treatment we sometimes experience.

I’ll be on the couch with Piers Morgan (I’ve already been warned that I’m likely to get some difficult questions) and they’ll also be speaking to someone from the Royal College of Midwives to get the professional perspective.

It’ll be quick, just 4 minutes on screen, at 6.40am. So don’t blink or you’ll miss it!

Wish me and my sleep deprived brain good luck! Slightly scared, but very pleased that the cause is getting this exposure!

Big Birtha X

For anyone who missed the segment (understandable, it was at the crack of dawn!!) here’s the direct link:

and here’s my update on the encounter.

Sharing the love

The BigBirthas website has been active for a little over two years now. While I haven’t ever got as much time as I’d like to work on the site, it isn’t hard to stay motivated, as every so often I get a lovely email from someone in the BigBirthas community about how the site has helped them.

I don’t usually share them, but thought maybe it’s time I did (with permission!) so here is my most recent lovely email from ‘Jo’:

I just wanted to say an enormous THANK YOU for your website! I have just discovered I am pregnant after trying to conceive for some time so am over the moon! But am already being body-shamed and fed so many scare stories from the medics that I fear they will make me high risk purely through scaremongering! I’m certain sure my body is not high risk and needed some evidence and research to back it up!

Your wealth of information and reassuring guidance on your amazing website has calmed me down and empowered me to advocate for myself during appointments and in particular, push strongly for a water birth which I have always wanted. This must have taken an awful lot of time and effort (there is so much info there!), but it is a lifesaver for women like me. I will be visiting your page often throughout the next few months!

Thank you


So for Jo (huge congratulations!) and everyone else reading this, you are most welcome. It has been and remains truly a pleasure.

I’m only sorry I still haven’t got round to finishing researching and writing the many articles that are still languishing in my ‘draft’ box – many of which are little more than titles. I still think I will get round to it! But it seems the right time to reflect. I’ve been involved in a few campaigns over the time that BigBirthas has been active – trying to positively influence birth treatment and outcomes, for everyone, not just the larger ladies in our community, and now the Maternity Review was just published yesterday. I’ve not read all of it yet (there’s over 100 pages!) but it does seem to be suggesting more woman-centred care, which can only be a good thing, in my opinion!

So if you’ve just found out you’re pregnant and are apprehensive of what the future brings, welcome. There’s a community here. Be strong. Have faith in your body’s innate abilities. Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself. Request to see the evidence base on which treatment is being recommended, and object/refuse/work to find an alternative where you experience prejudicial treatment that has no good evidence for its imposition.

And if you’re ever feeling low, or as though you’re not ‘supposed’ to be pregnant, do a Google image search for ‘fertility goddess’ or ‘mother goddess’. See those carvings and sculptures of women with big breasts, big hips and big tummies?

The ancient people who made those figures knew what they were talking about.

You are a goddess.

Don’t you forget it.

Halcyon Birthing Centre Facebook Plea

You may have seen this pop up on your Facebook feed.

The text reads:

This is the Tranquility room at Halcyon Birthing Centre in Smethwick, where Rosie Bo came into the world yesterday. This standalone midwife led unit is an amazing NHS facility that is at risk of closure if it doesn’t increase it’s average birth rate of just 1 per month currently (since no-one knows about it)! Open to all low risk women, regardless of area. Fixed pool in each room, flat screen TV and DVD player, double bed for both parents to share after delivery and totally unrestricted visiting. Please help us spread the word by telling anyone you know who’s pregnant!

Halcyon Birthing Centre, Smethwick

This makes me so sad.

Why is such an amazing facility so underused? What is putting women off attending there? Do they really not know about it?

I know why I didn’t go there.

I gave birth to my second child in my lounge, with an inflatable pool, my husband, and two wonderful, supportive midwives just 2.8 miles from The Halcyon Birthing Centre.

Of course, I wasn’t eligible to use the centre on the grounds of my high BMI

No other complications. None. Monitored throughout for blood pressure, diabetes, macrocosmia (big baby), all the usual suspects. None arose. Just high BMI.

It was a fabulous birth.

Knowing what I know now, I would plan for all my future births to be at home. We’ve actually decided our family is complete, but at the time of planning what became a home birth, I would have been delighted to be welcomed to this facility, but it was not to be. And so, I fought my fight for my treatment to be on my terms, got the fantastic birth I wanted, and the Big Birthas site was also born out of the process.

You probably wouldn’t be reading this now if I had given birth in the Halcyon. But I wonder if I had, would you then be reading the above plea on Facebook?

If they want to increase attendance, they could perhaps consider how they evaluate ‘high risk’ cases as a starting point. Just a thought.

Maternity Review Update

If you added your views to the Maternity Review, a mini update has been posted on the NHS England website by Baroness Cumberlege, who chaired the review.

I particularly like the sound of services becoming more personalised and family friendly.

The Maternity Review is steadily drawing to its close, and we will soon publish our report on services in England.

During this process I have met inspiring women, midwives, and doctors up and down the country. It is no surprise to me that giving birth has never been safer.

I have blogged before about the stories we have heard, so many have been heart-warming, but there have also been agonising accounts of when things have gone wrong.

I am truly excited about publication as it demonstrates what we’ve learnt and begins to bring into reality, across the country, our recommendations for the benefit of all mothers, babies and their families.

Knowing that this report will shape how maternity services are delivered in the UK for many years to come fills me with great excitement. In the 20 years since my report Changing Childbirth was published we have witnessed great changes to maternity services, but we have not achieved everything we set out to achieve.

This time we have no choice – maternity services must become safer, more personalised, kinder, professional and more family friendly.

We are now confirming the finer details of how our recommendations will be put into practice. Naturally it is extremely important that we can ensure our recommendations can be delivered sustainably now and in the long term, so that future generations will benefit from maternity services that are among the best in the world, putting the woman, her baby and family at the centre of care.

The groundwork we are doing now will ensure that the report has maximum impact from the day that it is published.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all the mothers, families and healthcare providers who have taken the time to provide us with their invaluable insights into maternity services and how they feel they can be improved.

I will have to wait for the report publication to thank everyone who has contributed, but today I want to express particular gratitude to the charities including the NCT, Best Beginnings,  Sands and Bliss who have helped us so much, and the professional bodies the Royal College of Midwives and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Without the contributions of thousands of individuals up and down the country this Review could never have happened.

Baroness Julia Cumberlege

Fingers crossed that this heralds good things to come.

Of course, maternity services will probably be expected to implement any recommendations with no extra money, staff or other resources, so it remains to be seen how much change is actually possible in the current climate.

Nor should we forget how fortunate we are to have such excellent opportunities in maternity care already, and so many passionate and enthusiastic individuals working in the field.

That’s not to say that improvements can’t still be made in availability of services to us bigger girls, though, and even the attitude of some professionals towards us. 

Fingers crossed. Fingers crossed.