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
We offer Birth-Trauma and Postnatal-illness support - for Mums - by Mums.
We offer online support chiefly on facebook through our private Peer Support Group, & occasional small group meetings in local cafe's or local walks.
The Project began with a small anount of personal funding for our Facilitator Claire Kay to explore her passion & dream of offering Peer Support for North Wales Mums who were experiencing symptoms of Birth Trauma or perinatal mental illness.
then funding has been difficult to secure, & Claire volunteered a lot of her time & resources for free to keep the support available for which we are truley grateful.
Claire has now stepped down as our Facilitator, & a new group of Parent
Volunteers are continuing her work.
Birth Story Listeners would welcome new Advisory Group Members or ideas to raise funds as they transition into a new phase of the project .
WHAT WE OFFER:
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 in a Peer Support model.
Parent Volunteers are not health professionals, they just
share their own experiences of childbirth & perinatal mental illness, offer encouragement & online friendship, & signpost to others for further support.
Claire Kay, our group Founder, 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 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 changed to offer mainly online support through a closed Facebook Group, one-to-one meetings with Claire our Coordinator by request through the group, & small group support in local cafe's.
However since Claire has stepped down as the group Facilitator, our Parent Volunteers will no longer be able to offer one-to-one meetings with parents as they are not trained in this area. They will instead be maintaining the Peer Support Facebook
group for Parents, & offering small group meetings in local cafe or occasional walks. There are over 200 members in the facebook peer support group currently from the North Wales region (2018)
HOW DO PARENTS FIND OUR
Parents usually find our support through self-referral & word of mouth. We advertise on social media in local Mums groups. Some of our members come via Health Visitors who direct them to our support. There are
no referral forms to fill in. We do not store any data about our members.
DETAILS OF OUR SUPPORT: (Offering Individual, Group, & Online support)
Birth Story Listeners mainly offers Peer Support through
our private Facebook group for parents lead by parent volunteers.
*** Our primary source of support is our friendly little Peer Support Group on Facebook for Mums who have experienced perinatal mental illness or birth trauma. There
are currently about 200 members. Group members are encouraged to connect with each other via our facebook group where we post relevant articles, share experiences, & signpost to further support.
BSL also organises occasional small
group meet-up's in local cafe's or for a group walk. (The days, times & venues of meet-up's change regularly, so please check in the facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/birthstorylisteners/for the latest details.)
We can also refer Mums to local senior Midwives if they require a de-brief to talk over their birth experience, or if they have any concerns about a current pregnancy due to their experiences previously. However there is soon to be a 'Birth Afterthoughts
Clinic' in our region, so BSL will be referring our members to that source of support for de-briefs in the future.
We also encourage our member to attend 'Listening Sessions' run by the Maternity Services 'Maternity Voices committee' where parents can
feed back their experience of using Maternity Services in an informal group setting.
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 ***
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.
PLEASE JOIN OUR FACEBOOK GROUP https://www.facebook.com/groups/birthstorylisteners/
*** 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. ***
NB - Our Peer Support Group is EXCLUSIVELY for parents who have experienced birth trauma or perinatal
mental illness. Profssionals who work in the area of birth such as Midwives, Health Visitors etc are not encouraged to join the group unless they have personal experienced of these conditions in order to keep the group a safe & private space.
We thank you for your understanding. We would encourage Health Professionals to join the Birth Trauma Association UK or the check out the Birth Trauma Association Wesite.