BIRTH STORY LISTENERS (North Wales)

Birth Story Listeners is an independent voluntary organisation in NORTH WALES, supporting Mums in the areas of Conwy County, North Gwynedd & parts of Anglesey. (Some of our members come from further afield in Wales but only connect online for reasons of distance.)

We offer Birth-Trauma and Postnatal-illness support - for Mums - by Mums.
We offer Individual, small Group, & online support chiefly on facebook.

Currently the project is run entirely on a voluntary basis.  We are always welcoming of new Advisory Group Members or ideas to raise funds.

 

WHAT WE OFFER:

Birth Story Listeners offers low-level 'listening support & encouragement' for Mums who have either had a traumatic experience of childbirth, or who may have developed difficulties with their mental health following the birth of their baby such as Anxiety in pregnancy or post-natally, OCD, Post-natal depression, Birth Trauma/Post-traumatic stress Disorder, Psychosis etc.
We also welcome Mums who have not been formally diagnosed with a mental health condition, but just know they are not feeling right after the birth, & who would welcome some additional support & an opportunity to talk about their birth & to feel less alone.

Support is offered by Mums - for Mums. We are not health professionals, we just share our own experiences, although our group Coordinator is skilled in offering support in addition to her own personal experiences.

 

HISTORY:

Claire, our group Coordinator, initially received some personal funding from a Christian Trust Fund to allow her to explore her passion & dream of offering this support for a few hours a week for local Mums in North Wales (following extensive experience of offering support with similar groups online.) The Project has needed to be flexible & to adapt to the local needs of members over the initial 3 years, beginning with an aim of recruiting & training volunteers to support other Mums locally & booking premises for regular meetings.... & as time has gone on the format has been changed to offer mainly online support through our closed Facebook Group, one-to-one meetings with Claire our Coordinator by request through the group, & small group support in local cafe's.  Our initial funding has now come to an end & we run purely on a voluntary basis.  There are over 140 members in our facebook peer support group currently (2017)

 

ABOUT CLAIRE OUR COORDINATOR:

Claire has experienced a traumatic birth herself which affected her mental health several years ago & is now fully recovered  She has intermediate Counselling skills & Listening skills qualifications, a Mental Health First Aid qualification, experience in Advocacy, previous employment supporting students with Mental Illness, voluntary experience in a Mental Health Drop-In Centre, & previous employment in Community Development work.  Claire also led a toddler group where she used to live for 4 years & a Baby group in her home for 2 years.  Claire is Admin for the 'All that Matters' Project at the Positive Birth Movement, & is part of the local PBM in North Wales. She also leads an entirely separate Birth Trauma support group for Christian Mums online.  Claire has close links with the National charity the 'Birth Trauma Association' & other national birthing netorks.  Claire is a member of the Women's Voices panel for the RCOG, & a member of our local MSLC.  She has a degree in Culture & Communication & Women's Studies. Claire also campaigns to improve local Maternity Services.  She attends local Health Board meetings, & writes campaign poetry & information to promote perinatal mental health awareness nationally, as well as speaking at conferences & offering training to student midwives annually.  Claire is married with 3 teenaged children.

Claire has gathered a small Advisory Group & has all the relevant policies, procedures & safeguarding & insurance in place etc. Birth Story Listeners has been advertised at all the local GP surgeries in the local North Wales area, amongst health visitors, & in various online social media groups for parents.

 

DETAILS OF OUR SUPPORT: (Offering Individual, Group, & Online support)

Birth Story Listeners currently offers ONE-TO-ONE MEETINGS with Claire our group Coordinator (upon request via the facebook group) between the hours of 9.30am - 3pm week days.
BSL also facilitates a small PEER SUPPORT GROUP where some of the Mums who have got to know each other through joint invites to meetings with Claire can connect in a small informal group.  This is a welcoming group for all Mums who are struggling with their mental health following childbirth. 

We also organise occasional social gatherings & attend baby & toddler groups & events in the community to promote mental wellbeing in pregnancy, childbirth & postnatally, & to offer a birth story listening service in the community.

Group members are encouraged to connect with each other via our facebook group where we post relevant articles, share experiences, & signpost to further support.

(The days, times & venues of meetings can change, so please check in the facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/birthstorylisteners/for the latest details.)

 

WHERE WE MEET:

We usually meet in café's close to where our Mums live at their request. 
There is no charge for our meetings, just the cost of a cup of tea at the cafe!

 

CAN WE BRING OUR CHILDREN WITH US?

Some Mums bring their babies or toddlers with them, but others prefer to meet when their children are being looked after by someone else so that they can talk with fewer distractions & not have to worry if they feel emotional in front of their child.

 

BIRTH-TRAUMA & POST-NATAL ILLNESS SUPPORT - FOR MUMS - BY MUMS

"I know when I had my first baby after a gruelling marathon of a labour & emergency section at the pushing stage, it affected me deeply, especially when I could not breastfeed either. I didn't know then what was wrong with me... why I cried so much, why I thought about the birth every single day, why I felt like such a failure, why I felt disconnected to my baby, why I just couldn't seem to cope or be happy like the other Mums."

Have you recently had a baby but found it to be a traumatic experience? Do you think about it constantly, or maybe try to avoid everything birth related? Do you often find yourself in tears or feel unable to cope? Do you suffer from flashbacks or nightmares about the birth? Do you feel you were not listened to? Did you experience medical intervention that you found upsetting? Are you struggling to bond with your baby? Were you or your baby ill following the birth? Are you often sad or angry?
If you can say yes to several of these you may be suffering from what is known as "Birth Trauma" ...which is where you have a healthy baby but you somehow cannot seem to get over the birth & move on as those around you may be encouraging you to do.)

*** Here at Birth Story Listeners we know how hard it is to keep your story on the inside when it feels like no one understands or wants to hear. We want to hear. We want you to feel safe to share your story with us, to begin to process what happened to you in a safe environment amongst others who understand what you are going through ***

OR- perhaps your birth experience was positive, there were no especially traumatic incidents, but following the birth you started to feel unwell. Perhaps you went on to feel low, depressed, confused, anxious etc. Perhaps you have been diagnosed with a perinatal mental health condition such as PND or PTSD, Anxiety or Psychosis. Birth Story Listeners is here to support you too through our friendly Support Group where you can gain the encouragement of other Mums who have been through similar experiences.

We are also here to support Mums who have not been diagnosed with mental illness following the birth, but just know they don't feel right & would welcome some additional encouragement & support in their community.

WE OFFER 'ONE TO ONE' MEETINGS WITH OUR GROUP COORDINATOR UPON REQUEST, AND SMALL FRIENDLY GROUP MEETINGS WITH OTHER MUMS WHO HAVE HAD SIMILAR EXPERIENCES IN LOCAL CAFE'S HERE IN NORTH WALES.
WE ALSO OFFER SUPPORT THROUGH OUR FRIENDLY PRIVATE FACEBOOK GROUP.

FOR FURTHER DETAILS OF TIMES/DATES/VENUES OF GROUP MEETINGS, OR TO REQUEST A ONE TO ONE MEETING... PLEASE JOIN THIS FACEBOOK GROUP https://www.facebook.com/groups/birthstorylisteners/ OR EMAIL: birthstorylisteners@gmail.com

(NB: We are not an alternative to medical help or professional counselling. We offer low-level group talking therapy & friendship which may enhance or compliment others sources of professional help.)