Our Values Unite Us?…….Having Strong Opinions And Getting To A Collective YES.

I have em, they lurk beneath the surface of all that drives me forward in life, that’s right, strong opinions. 


I think it’s true to say they flow from a sense of values but get crystallised around ‘issues’ or ‘practices’ that I tend to think of as being ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. 

Our ‘birth world’ is full of them, just watch on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as people’s strongly held ‘positions’ get slugged out for the world to see. 

I often wonder what a newly pregnant woman makes of it all as she seeks to inform herself about what’s best for her baby? 


What choice is she going to make regarding where to have her baby? How is she going to feed him/her? Does she get screened for group B strep? Will she do Hypno birthing? Etc etc etc. 

How can we birth professionals engage with others who have different ‘strong opinions’ to us, without creating this ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ tension that currently seems to be rampant in the birth world?   


A place to start is realising that no so called ‘evidence’ ever arrives at ‘Truth’, it’s not to be believed, it’s always to be ‘tested’ in our personal/collective experience.


There are certainly areas of my strong opinions where I am wrong, maybe partly wrong but just as likely completely wrong. 

Holding this possibility allows me to be more humble when confronted with a co professional who disagrees with me.  

This experience of holding my ‘opinions’ as, to be ‘tested’ hypothesis, creates a listening space so that hearing another’s point of view becomes possible.

When I begin to really hear what some one is saying to me, not listening just hear the points I can disagree with, magic happens.

The magic as it unfolds surprises me, I get to notice that the one I thought was ‘wrong’, or deeply misguided has thought through reasons for holding her strongly held opinions which seem to flow from a set of deeply held ‘values’. 

On the many occasions I have had this experience, when my ears are attuned to hear her ‘values’ being expressed, I notice that we agree with each other and a foundation for understanding is established. 


Men, Love & Birth: I thought my life had ended😔

8 years ago today I thought my life had ended, when my wife of twenty years died in my arms, my world become monochromic, time seemed to stop in its tracks and my body felt so heavy I struggled to get out of bed.

Life changes. 

Men, Love & Birth has won an award ☺️


The truth of it, I never planned to write a book, start a podcast, speak at conferences or run workshops. 

Speaking at the doula conference 3 years ago, was my first birth related public event; thank you Doula Uk!  


Pinter & Martin approached me about writing a book and I said yes please and the rest as they say is history. 

I spent 18 months ‘trying’ to write a book, I was running out of time, the deadline had been extended twice, Martin was getting worried. 

Then it happened, I heard kurt vonnegut speaking about writing (no comparison intended). He said something about his writing process that changed my mind about writing dramatically. 

‘Each of us writes what he must write’

And else where he say:

‘write to an audience of one’

When hearing him say these things something broke free in me, I knew there was stuff I ‘must’ write, and my audience became my adult sons, in fact all the men in the ‘conversation’ section of the book are my sons☺️

The book came out of me in its current form in 6 weeks, of course a writer is as good as his editor and Susan Last from Lonely Scribe is AMAZING. 

When it was written I truly didn’t care if anyone read it or liked it, to have my experience comitted to writing as a gift to my children was  all the reward I needed. 


Ps: Thank you Pinter & Martin, Doula Uk and Susan Last 

Why Hasn’t Birth ‘Debrief’ Worked Very Well? 

Maybe you think it has? 

Every since I trained as a midwife in 1994 one form or another of ‘birth debrief’ has taken place in the UK.

Recent research suggests that what we have been doing all these years hasn’t worked very well at all.   

The ‘confidential inquiry into maternal death’ report (2015) is very clear that postnatal mental health issues are becoming a leading cause of death following child birth.

What can be done? 

The Maternity Review (2016) has pointed towards increased investment in our NHS postnatal service, a call to action which is long overdue. 

Mia Scotland (clinical psychologist, doula, hypno birther and author) and I are choosing to make a contribution in this area. 


On Thursday 9 June 2016 we are running a co-led workshop exploring this very important subject. 

Details regarding what we are going to cover will follow, but we will certainly be taking about :

the ‘signs’ that can be seen in clients that would prompt a professional birth worker to refer a woman to specialist services.

Ways of listening and speaking that create an environment for a woman and her partner to heal within. 

What process’s we have used that support the on going recovery of person ‘stuck’ inside a story of trauma. 

These subjects and much more will be discussed on the day. 

Places on the workshop will be limited, here is where to book:



A Deep Respect For Someone You Disagree With…..Not Easy Right?

It’s tricky isn’t it? A deep respect, notice I didn’t say like, or have a desire to hang out with them as mates. 

The kind of respect that acknowledges that person as some one who has thought through their position, and expresses it with an intelligent grasp of the issues. 

They probably keep away from the ‘personal attack’ style of rhetoric, they don’t ‘preach’ or set up ‘straw man’ arguments.

As I thought about who the people are that I disagree with, almost completely, yet deeply respect, I struggled to think of many people who fell into that category. 

Why is that? 

Maybe there just isn’t many of them, maybe my opinions are just so elevated and intellectually superior that those of others can’t compare with them?

That can’t be it can it? Just ask my girl friend, or children and they will put right on that front! 

So why is it? 

My guess is that I have elevated my ‘opinion’ to the status of ‘Fact’ and in the process created a ‘moral value’.

Those ‘Moral values’ go on to act as unconscious ‘filters’, filtering for the way I perceive those I disagree with. 

I do not see others as they are, but as I am. 

What can I do about it? 

While this process is going on outside of your awareness you will be the ‘victim’ of it, the unwitting ‘puppet’ led into conflict with others, with little knowledge of why you dislike them so much.

From this mind/body state being able to listen to another until we truly understand is near impossible. 

My practice has been to notice the intensity of my dislike of the one who’s opinion is different to mine, this noticing seems to create the space I need to catch a glimpse of my own ‘moral judgement’ led blindness. 

So who is it you respect but disagree with? 

For me Peter Hitchens comes to mind☺️


A Summary Of What Women Want……

The Maternity Review 2016

When outlining what women said they wanted from their maternity services this is what they said:

* What we heard from women and their families 
Safe and personalised care 

    * 3.2.  Women and families whom we spoke to or who contacted the review through another route told us that they want to access maternity services that are safe and that keep them as safe as possible. They understand that birth is not risk-free, but that advances made over the last decades in medicine and healthcare have made giving birth safer than it has ever been. 


   * 3.3.  We also heard equally strongly that women want to be able to choose the care that is right for them, their family and their circumstances, and that they want the care to wrap around them. They understand that there are finite resources, however they expect that their needs are able to be supported. We were told that women do not always feel like the choice is theirs and that too often they felt pressurised by their midwives and obstetricians to make choices that fitted their services. They resented the implications for their care of being labelled high, medium or low risk. Above all, women wanted to be listened to: about what they want for themselves and their baby, and to be taken seriously when they raise concerns. 

    * 3.4.  Women told us how important it was for them to know and form a relationship with the professionals caring for them. They preferred to be cared for by one midwife or a small team of midwives throughout the maternity journey. It was felt that this could provide better support for women, and enable midwives to better meet their needs, identify problems and provide a safer service. Continuity was also important for obstetric care, especially after a traumatic experience.

A good summary of the many areas of challenge that birth professionals face as we seek consensus moving forward. 

Woman understanding that birth is not risk free, but they dislike the ‘high and low risk’ labels that are attached to them from day one. 

The balance between understanding the ‘risks’ that are present, but at the same time wanting to be at the center of care which is tailored to suit them, not the service that’s providing the care, is clear. 

As I watch the ‘social media’ discussion from ‘both sides’ of the the debate it seems to me that in the evidence to The Review women have the ‘balance’ about right; something that can not always be said for the debaters in Twitter land.  


How Do We Get To A Collective ‘Yes’? Creating consensus in a fragmented world…..

Our lives are filled with little negotiations, getting the children to school, to eat their dinner and tidy up after themselves. 

Work is no different, we would like a pay rise, a project we are working on needs the support of other team members who have a different point from view to us. 

In the birth world it’s no different, as midwives and medical staff our work environment at times can feel like one long ‘summit’. 

There is no shortage of differences of opinion about what the ‘right’ course of action is in any given clinical scenario. 

Given a growing personal insight into our own unconscious presuppositions, and an awareness of what we ‘believe’ is ‘right’, as a kind of ‘faith’ response, how can we use our daily opportunity to be a negotiator to the build a cohesive multidisciplinary team?

Let’s be honest, it’s going to take a strong multi disciplinary team to take the findings of The Maternity Review forward, to courageously transform our current birth culture into the woman centred powerhouse women and their families deserve. 

In their amazing book ‘Getting to Yes’, Fisher and Ury give us some much need help in negotiating the undoubtedly choppy waters ahead. 


Their work, based on research produced by Harvard University offers us, as close to a map as we are going to get, whilst exploring this terra nova ahead. 
The next few blog posts are going to explore their methodology in the light of The Maternity Review.