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Birthing in unplanned circumstances; crossing cultural barriers and staying safe

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Birthing in unplanned circumstances; crossing cultural barriers and staying safe

Lina Duncan
Birth and Postnatal Doula and Neighbourhood Doula


Due to pandemics, natural disasters and other situations beyond our control, pregnant people may find themselves physically or emotionally distanced from family or friends. What can you do to stay safe, connected, calm, and bring your baby/babies into the world, peacefully?


Choosing a care provider that is the best for you and your baby/babies is important. Your options may be limited. Try and see what you can find out in your local area. Depending on your personal and unique circumstances and where you are in the world, will define some of your options. If you have lost touch or been relocated you may not be able to see the are provider you were seeing. If you have any notes from your pregnancy or previous pregnancies, take them along when you meet your new midwife or local care provider.


Women’s Voices

Have you ever heard your own birth story? Do you know your mother’s, grandmother’s or even great grandmother’s birth stories? It can be helpful to see what positive aspects you can draw from them and keep them in your heart, and maybe in your own plans. Perhaps there is a similar pattern that you can see? What about family or cultural traditions that are carried out in pregnancy, birth or postnatally? These can be a beautiful focus to draw the people you really want around you. Ceremony and ritual are powerful, spiritual and connecting aspects of the bigger picture. Distance need no longer be a barrier if you have a phone, we can do a lot of connecting via various technological mediums.


Planning for your birth

Think about what is best for you and your baby, will help you to focus. Google can be a helpful tool to research your choices. Before going on the internet to search you might want to consider the following:


What are you hoping for your birth?
Do you know your options?
Is there someone you can ask to be with you?
Where do you want to give birth?
What are the things you are anxious about and what are you sure of?
Do you know your childbirth rights?
What is important to you, to feel safe?
Do you have any cultural or religious traditions that are important to you?


Record in writing the special aspects of your birth plan and keep it with your pregnancy notes. If there is anything troubling you, try have an open conversation with your care provider or put your thoughts down in a written message if that works for you. Is your mother tongue the native language of where you will be birthing? Feeling safe and receiving kind and compassionate care can make a huge difference.

If it’s possible within your circumstances, think about arranging to have a birth companion to stay with you throughout your birth journey. This could be a family member, a friend, or a trained birth companion. They can help speak up for you, keep you safe and make sure you are seen and heard. They will be able to encourage you and rub your back. Having a birth companion gives you a higher chance of having a birth without interventions or complications.

If your plan is to use your local service, see if you can find out what is available and what will best suit you. Are there any local community groups or online information where the voices of women using the services are sharing positive experiences? If you have relocated or have had to travel away from family or loved ones, you may be able to access a national, trusted country contact via Midwifery Today. You may want to search for a Birth Buddy.

Make your best efforts to prepare your mind, body and spirit for birthing. Remember you are not alone.


In Summary here is a tool to birth safely in any circumstances:

S is for Search. Search out anyone who can give you reliable information about a good and safe place to give birth where there is a low caesarean rate and compassionate care. See if you can find a place with midwives.

A is for action. It’s your birth so you need to be the one to make things happen. Even if it is not very cultural to speak up, try to find the women and elders who will support and encourage you.

F is for Find. Find a birth companion who you feel safe with and who will help to speak up for you, rub your back and help you to focus and find out information that you need.

E is for Explore. Don’t worry about what others think or say about you. Your birth experience is something you will remember forever and it is your baby’s special entrance into the world. Explore the questions in your mind? Explore your fears and find a way to leave them behind. Discover the place within you to find peace. Focus on your baby coming into the world.

I wish you both you and your baby safety and a beautiful birthing day.


Links to birth repository resources



Country Contacts Midwifery Today

Birth Buddy

National Childbirth Trust – Local activities and meet online

Real Life Stories

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