A blog about Sheena Byrom, birth photography and a room full of student midwives.

What happened when Sheena Byrom, birth photography and a room full of student midwives got together for an event in South Wales?

Let me fill you in…

Way back in November 2017, I received a message from a student midwife named Holly, she asked if I’d be interested in being part of an event she was organising in February 2018.

Of course, I jumped at the chance (who wouldn’t)

This was such a great opportunity to get my work seen not only by birth professionals but also families in and around South Wales.

Finally after much prepping, exchanged emails, late-night messages and a couple of meetups, the day of the event finally arrived. It was jam-packed full of everything birth, and I soaked it all up!

I arrived at 9.25 am and I took part in a small workshop called BirthSpace, where women could come and talk about their birth stories. This was such a humbling start to the day, full of emotion and proved to be a huge success.

At approximately 11 am Sheena Byrom arrived with her husband and I went over to introduce myself (my heart pounding as she reached out to give me the warmest of hugs!)

The most fantastic looking cakes circulated in abundance around the Cinema & Co cafe-style lounge, and everywhere I looked people were devouring these scrumptious delights.

Katherine Weare took centre stage at 11.30 am to perform a play called “choices” an incredibly moving script written by Stacy Gregg as part of the B!rth Project. Her performance was spellbinding and touched on many topics. Most shockingly was the reality of anti-abortion rights in Ireland.

Next up was me (yikes!)

I managed to find the courage to stand up in front of 50+ people (mostly a lovely mix of Midwives, Student Midwives, Birth workers and some wonderful women who had come along to the event) I talked about my background, including my own births and how I eventually stumbled upon birth photography. This short moment in the spotlight allowed me to share my thoughts on the importance of birth photography and how it’s playing a huge role to help shape the way birth is perceived. Despite it being a bloody nerve-wracking moment standing there nestled amongst my work and talking about my love of birth – I’d happily do it again in a heartbeat.

Then without further ado, we all sat back and sank into The Business Of Being Born (which I can hardly believe is 10 years old) Watching this again filled me with all kinds of emotions, both sadness, joy, anger and a hope for change.

Then came the highlight of the day (the cherry on the top!) Sheena Byrom talked to us!

Honestly, I could quite easily have sat there all day long listening to Sheena reminiscing about her life and career as a Midwife. She told us about her own birth stories of her four children and reflected back on how different each of those birth was. She also touched on her transition from working in Hospitals to Birth Centres and how this shift had an enormous influence on the rest of her career as a Midwife.

I loved that she engaged with her audience and challenged the “future midwives” about the changes that are still much needed. One of my favourite questions was –

“What things are you doing now would you like to see changed in the future?”

Here’s a brief list of the topics we discussed:

  1. Less vaginal examinations

  2. Less paperwork to fill out

  3. Uprights birth with no lithotomy positions

  4. Less unnecessary interventions

  5. Fewer inductions of labour

  6. More positive media attention

Sheena also talked about her travels and her partnership with her daughter Anna. She also showed two small clips of people currently working in the birth world that are campaigning for change. One of the videos was of Dr Neel Shah The Data Detective who has noticed that the number of cesarean sections being performed is skyrocketing.  The other short video called Birth Time is a trailer based on a powerful documentary story that is currently in the process of being made. It based on supporting women to take ownership of their births. To be informed of their choices and supported. I highly recommend you take five minutes to view the short videos. (links below)

Alas, the talk ended and issues of The Practising Midwife Magazine was gifted to everyone. Sheena took her time to talk to all those who’d attended the event. She posed for photographs, signed copies of her magazine and dished out plenty of hugs.

The day ended with even more talk about birth with Holly and Melissa over a much needed evening meal. (the less said about the actual meal itself the better!)

I would like to conclude by giving an enormous thanks to Holly, without whom, this whole event would not have happened. To The Swansea University Student Midwifery Society for funding the event. The Cinema & Co, Swansea for their stunning space to hold both my exhibition and the event. To Tracy for facilitating the BirthSpace morning workshop and to Katherine Weare for her spectacular performance. Also, Ricki Lake for giving us the rights and licence to show The Business of Being Born.  Lastly, to Sheena Byrom for taking the six-hour-long drive to Wales to visit us. (please come back again soon!)

Wait, don’t go just yet…

Do you love Instagram? (particularly birth photography accounts) Then you’ll LOVE this!


Dr Neel Shah Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-X-S8EHkFg

Birth Time : Birth Time Trailer

B1RTH Project Link here:http://www.birthdebate.com/

Cinema & Co: https://www.cinemaco.co.uk