Maddie McMahon – Birth Confidence summit

Maddie McMahon'ss Bio

After careers teaching English and in publishing, Maddie retrained as a doula in 2003 and has gone on to support thousands of families not only as a birth and postnatal doula, but in her work as a breastfeeding counsellor and is a founder trustee of two breastfeeding related charities. 

Time Stamps.

Maddie describes the exceptional support she had by her mother in law for the birth of her first child which was so beneficial as she had not known what she needed and contrasts that with her second child where the element of a quiet unassuming woman in the corner who had her back was missing.

Why and how birth is a feminist issue.

6.51  Birth is not something that happens in isolation in your life but is culmination of hundreds of threads that start in your childhood roots in how we were mothered.    Having learnt in childhood the birth was quick and easy  when her first birth was long and hard she still had no doubts she  just assumed that I needed to carry on what I was doing and the baby would come out and that is what happened.  

Second advantage is my generation was  which can inundate us with fearful stories.

11.43  the need for more than innate confidence, need information.  How failure to wait can lead to a c-section and is also failure to believe that she can do it and failure to provide loving consistent continuity of midwifery care with midwives who have compassion, and empathy in a safe warm and private environment.

14.30 Why a stiff upper lip as we often have in the UK is not a good example of how to support ourselves and Maddie's advice to her younger self for how she would have supported herself through a challenging postnatal period.  Take time to heal psychologically before 'the wheels fall off.'

18.44 Maternity system  in the UK is not fit for purpose. Being pregnant is not an illness and not something that needs fixing and needs to be lovingly nurtured because it is growth and if we want a flower to blossom, if we want vegetables to grow in our allotment we can’t just blindly follow steps so we have to adapt to individual circumstances and care for those things.  What is lacking in maternity care is the care, the time to ask someone how they are.

23.44  Gather your clan,  you need women around you that believe in you, this is  how we've played this since the dawn of time where older women who've been through it  share their wisdom. and walk alongside you in your journey.

27.30 if you have fear then that  fear needs addressing and this is slowly starting to happen in the NHS. The whole spectrum and not just primary tokophobia needs to be treated  so if birth gives you the cold shudders it is worth unpicking that and getting to the root of where that came from.  Your aim is to build a sense of awe in your capabilities and know you can do it psychologically.

31.49 Even tiniest fear is still worth unpicking  as it may affect the physiology and holding it back takes energy you need. Sometimes all you need is acknowledgement and a cuddle.

35.25 If we want to change society the place to start is at the beginning with birth. If  women are bathed in oxytocin and feel loved and supported then birth is going to go well and she will feel strong and capable. It is not rocket science.   

37.35 Motherhood is a feminist issue and  Maddie would love to see women stand up and come together and demand better better support, be less invisible.  She would like politicians to understand that we are a brilliant resource. Invest in mothers and amazing things can happen.

3949 Maddie is  passionate about women understanding that we are worthy to be supported and worthy to be seen. She wrote her books   to remind you how awesome you are as a mother.

Maddie also serves on the editorial board of The Practising Midwife Journal as part of her passion for building trusting relationships between doulas and midwives. Maddie loves to write, primarily on her blog, but has also published two books; Why Doulas Matter and Why Mothering Matters.  In her spare time she works on the AIMS helpline and has also held a number of voluntary roles in Doula UK. She is passionate about supporting all birthworkers to work together to change the face of birth.
Maddie lives in Cambridge but has aspirations to live by the sea. She is stepmum and mum to 3 grown or nearly-grown children. She will always swim in wild water if given half a chance and always has a book in her bag.

Charlotte Kanyi