Honouring the maternity journey with the right elements
Holistic Wellness Coach Nehanda Truscott-Reid (left) on maternal care that honours a mother’s journey
“When I was first pregnant I found that the services that were available often felt very broadstroke and outside my own nuanced and specific experience,” recalls Nehanda Truscott-Reid. “I needed to see and be seen by somebody who understood where I was coming from. And so I decided to become the person I needed for others. I trained as a Holistic Wellness Coach with an interest in energy and African spirituality, and the ways in which we have become disconnected from nature and ourselves.”
Ms Truscott-Reid founded Soul Mama as a way to support women’s wellness from preconception through pregnancy and into motherhood. “Many of the women I work with have been encouraged to disassociate from their feminine wisdom and spirituality in order to succeed in this society. My work is about supporting women to remember their wisdom, those innate and intrinsic truths, through spiritual practices and reconnecting with our bodies and our wombs specifically.” This includes creating self-care rituals that unpack and question the narratives around womanhood and motherhood that many expectant mothers may have grown up believing and seeing.
It is so important that her voice, her decisions, her instincts, are not dismissed or diminished
One such narrative, says Ms Truscott-Reid, is the idea that doctors and midwives hold all the knowledge and authority and that the expectant mother has none. It’s an especially harmful narrative as it puts women in a position of fear, powerlessness and doubting their own bodies. “A lot of the work that I do helps women reframe this in a way which re-empowers and re-centres the woman's instincts and choices. It is so important that her voice, her decisions, her instincts, are not dismissed or diminished.”
Ms Truscott-Reid speaks from experience. “When pregnant with my second child I was considered a high risk towards the end – because of a low platelet count – even though I felt confident in my body’s ability to birth naturally. My ‘recommended birth plan’ was a highly interventionist pre -managed birth on the labour ward. I didn’t want that. I wanted the opportunity to birth naturally without intervention. I had to attend several meetings with consultants and sign papers saying I take full responsibility for what would happen if I proceeded against recommendations. In our case, we were connected to the head midwife who listened to what I had to say and honoured my requests as far as possible. She created space for us to collaborate rather than speak down to us or assume that I didn't understand my own needs. We worked together to create what I wanted, which was a natural birth, with no intervention. None of the worst-case scenarios I had been presented with as being a statistical certainty occurred.”
One of Ms Truscott-Reid’s messages for those who work with expectant mothers is to ‘manage their own energy’
One of Ms Truscott-Reid’s messages for those who work with expectant mothers is to ‘manage their own energy’. “The interactions that take place when a woman is pregnant or in birth and is in a heightened state of sensitivity can have heightened repercussions. The caregiver may be doing their job however if they themselves are super stressed, or carrying a lot of anxiety, or overworked and that carries over into the appointment, it can end up translating into the ways an expectant mother gets treated.”
The postpartum phase also requires special care. “It can feel that unless you're suffering from an obviously presenting postnatal disorder, there really isn't much support for the wellbeing of the mother beyond ticking the boxes that the baby is well. Often, women are depleted post birth – whether emotionally, mentally, physically or a combination of all three – and it goes unnoticed and unprepared for. And that that can develop over time into other symptoms for the mother like anxiety and depression etc. that often then, never gets linked back to the fact there was no conversation during pregnancy or after about postpartum restoration."
Women need to be able to meet, share and connect and to some extent become support workers for themselves
Ms Truscott-Reid ultimately would like to see more supportive community spaces available for women during pregnancy and postpartum. The free local breastfeeding clinic that was available for her are now few and far between. Women need to be able to meet, share and connect and to some extent become support workers for themselves.
“It’s what has led me to the present event. BAME Birthing With Colour is a wonderful example of that community building in practice. We can only benefit from bringing together the different interest groups for honest dialogue in a supportive atmosphere.”
About Nehanda Truscott-Reid
Nehanda Truscott-Reid is a Holistic Wellness Coach and is passionate about supporting mothers whose voices, stories and needs are often left out of the mainstream. Nehanda founded The Soul Mama Journey to support women overcome fear, anxiety, stress, low energy, intergenerational trauma and negative cycles through mindfulness, ritual, self-care and energy balancing practices.
About BAME Birthing With Colour
BAME Birthing With Colour is a one day conference organised by registered charity The Brun Bear Foundation in association with a top team of healthcare professionals led by Helen Knower, Director of Midwifery, Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust.
The conference’s objectives are to draw together medical professionals, policy makers, the third sector, community groups and mothers themselves for an outstanding programme that helps shape, deliver, direct and influence higher standards of BAME Maternity care.
Proceeds from the day – which is being organised on an entirely voluntary basis – will support relevant medical and other causes.
For more information including speaking, attendance, sponsorship, media and supporting organisation opportunities please email firstname.lastname@example.org
To secure your ticket please visit www.bamematernity.com
Subeditor: Edwin Lampert