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Tales from a travelling midwife: Interview with Janie Al Alawi

The Passion and Possibilities in Birth Interivew Series showcases the who's how's and why's of creating a community of support around you as you prepare and create your best birth experience.  Intended to inspire you and open you to new and old ideas there are 11 different birth profesisonals sharing their passion and wisdom. We kick off here with experienced independent midwife Janie Al Alawi.


Watch the video or listen to the  audio only version below the video.  If you are limited for time use the notes underneath to skip to what most interests.

Notes: 

Janie Al Alawi discovered her passion for midwifery during a 4 week placement to the Jessop Hospital for Women during her nursing training that she completed in 1985. It was here she returned to become a 'Jessop girl' with 18 month training to become a midwife.  She experienced labour ward and community midwifery before moving to Abu Dhabi in 1990 to the Corniche Hospital. 12 years, 4 different jobs including the busy delivery suite where 100,000 babies were born annually, Janie returned to the Uk to work as a community midwife. where she remained untili 2014.  2014 saw her creating acorn birth services as an independent midwife.

4.10 Janie describes why she loves midwifery so much -"Being a midwife for Janie is not a job it is something in you".

5.41 All about The Pinard. 

This is the long trumpet that you see my husband using to listen into my baby's heartbeat, under supervision of Janie.  Janie explains why she loves this traditional tool and why it is still useful today even though we have hand held dopplers and technological aids to listen in.

6.40 The difference between working for the NHS and working indpendently.

9.32  All about choice and the mantra " guidelines not tramlines" when arranging  your birth plan with your care providers. 

10.30 Why you are the expert in your own birth.  The importance of communication especially listening to the woman, the mother. REmember 'The customer is always right' is the mindset to cultivate.

12.44 Billy the dog. A midwife's faithful companioni.  He remained off screen but present so here is a little picture of the bundle of mischief.

13.30   Why the presentation and interpretation of data is a problem with induction research and what Janie would like to see change  ( We mention Sophie Messager who as a scientist and birth educator has also written eloquently on this subject Check out this blog on induction )

 15.31  Why sweeps are the bane of Janie's life and her water slide analogy to help you understand and choose.

20.15  As a population we are healthier than ever so why are we having so many more problems? Discussing the need to trust women and their bodies, with a special mention of big babies as an example of how planting fears that weren't there can affect you.

23.30  What Janie would like to see women doing to prepare for the birth of their child- including slowing down in the third trimester particularly.  How she sees 'wired babies' when the mother hasn't slowed down, babies reflecting their mothers state of being.

26.40 Janie shares some tales from her travels to other cultures including the Emiratesand Angola  where she witnessed the elder traditional midwives working alongside her in the hospital and mothers being looked after round the clockin the postnatal period.  

31.44 Discussing easy to implement tips and techniques to support baby into the best position inlabour including using the stairs and the racing start.

33.30   A saddening tale of how quickly traditional skills and home birth/active birth preference were lost in the Emirates as an overmedicalised model took over in this nation which today sees 50% c sectoins. On her first visit she used 1 epidural in 12 years and very low c-section rates so the change is astonishing and quick. Janies mission and passion (one of many!) is to bring back home birth to th Emirates.

40.27 How you speak to a woman in pregnancy and birth will stay with her for life- so be mindful.  And a reminder that YOU are superwoman! As Janie describes how she is still excited at every birth after 31 years as a midwife.

43 The heartbreak Janie feels when women are only given one option when there is almost always more choice than that. ( Check out this blog for more skills on how to get offered the choices available )

44  Mary Cronk Exclusive! Midwives on a mission of mercy.  Janie shares a story from a trailblazing midwife who has done much to support women's choices in childbirth and to preserve skills such as birthing a breech baby.
You can read about her legacy  here .

46  Some women need some help with some labours, BUT  this help is the last line not first line as women can do this and have been for 1000s of years.


Final thought: Women are amazing, brilliant, and we are  doing what are bodies are designed to do.

Find Janie at Acorn Birth Services.
Find a local independent midwife in the Uk here.

Charlotte Kanyi

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