'No woman should ever have to be faced with the prospect of giving birth alone'

louise boyce maternal mental health
'No woman should ever have to give birth alone' Louise Boyce - Hearst Owned

Today, May 5th, marks International Day of the Midwife, an annual event which has inspired me to reflect on my own birthing experiences, and the vital role midwives and healthcare professionals have played in helping to bring my three amazing children into the world, safely.

A mother holding her newborn baby in her arms for the very first time is one of the most precious moments there is. But from my own experience, I wouldn’t be writing this right now if it hadn’t been for the incredible midwives and medical staff who cared for me.

I’ve given birth three times and although all three of them were vaginal, they were all very different. I feel incredibly lucky to be a mum to three healthy children. I know that childbirth can be fraught with jeopardy, but I wanted to share my experience of my second birth to demonstrate how much I appreciate the help I received at the time from a lifesaving team.

Giving birth to my eldest child all went to plan - at home in a birthing pool within four hours. The dream labour. I assumed this would be the same for my second child… I was wrong.

I was two days over my due date and at home laying on the sofa when my toddler jumped on my very pregnant tummy. Thirty minutes later I was haemorrhaging - my bathroom looked like a horror scene and I was rushed to hospital in an ambulance. I was scared. The blood didn’t stop so I was rushed to the emergency room and as I was dilating very quickly (I went from 2cm to 10cm in 40 minutes) and was in the most excruciating pain to the point where my body went into shock. They knew this baby was coming.

After my son was safely delivered, the blood haemorrhaging got worse. I remember a button being pressed and 10 other healthcare professionals came running into the room to provide the medical assistance I urgently needed. I was so involved with meeting my new baby I didn’t realise they were saving my life. Without these brilliant people, and the medicine we so often take for granted, I would have died.

international day of the midwife louise boyce
Louise Boyce before the birth of her second child Save the children

The presence of a doctor, nurse or midwife during childbirth means more mothers get to hold their newborn babies safely in their arms. Yet new analysis from international children’s charity Save the Children estimates that 24 million mothers will give birth without a doctor, midwife or nurse in 2024.

Put simply, this isn’t good enough. We must do more to ensure every woman has the right to give birth safely and with dignity, which is why I am supporting Save the Children’s maternal health campaign to ensure women everywhere can expect better.

Against the global backdrop of growing conflicts, climate and humanitarian disasters, the children’s charity says mothers and children are more vulnerable now than ever.

international day of the midwife louise boyce
Louise’s life was saved by a team of specialist doctors Save the children

I can’t even imagine what it must feel like going into labour without the support that all mothers need. Giving birth can be a wonderful and spiritual experience but it can also be terrifying and life threatening. Knowing that women are giving birth without the mental, physical and medical support that is needed makes me want to help in some way. No woman should ever have to give birth alone.

We need to make sure mothers do not lose their children, and children do not grow up without mothers. The charity trains midwives all over the world to create lasting change for children from the moment they enter the world. These midwives travel for hours to rural locations and go where they’re needed most – from war zones and refugee camps, to borders and remote communities.

If, like me, you feel compelled to act. Don’t delay. Join me and support Save the Children.

  • £15 could buy a birth kit for a midwife

  • £6.50 could buy a clean delivery kit for a self-birth

  • £1.70 could buy pregnancy vitamins and supplements for 6 months for an expecting mother

To find out more about how Save the Children is delivering lasting change for children and their families please visit www.savethechildren.org.uk

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