A diary or journal of entries arranged by date reporting on what has happened over the period starting on April, 12th - This diary reflects the experiencies, thoughts and ideas discussed between the artist Juan delGado and the community midwives team, Jenny-Clare Kelly, Kath Walker and Sally Air.

There are 5 posts in this diary.

Meeting with Kath Walker and Helen Knowles

Posted by Helen Knowles Posted: Wed 6th Feb, 12:54:45

Conversation about the stickers used at the forum.


Met with Kath Walker this morning in Manchester in a small cafe. We were meeting up to discuss how the collaboration with Juan has been going. We got onto the subject of the stickers designed by Francesca Granato for the Birth Rites Forum, Matrix which was an evening event. Juan had mentioned to me that some of the midwives had felt uncomfortable with them and I was very intrigued to ask Kath about this. Her underlying reason for this was that some of them did not portray the positions in birth. It is an interesting point, they are overtly provocative and they were designed by Francesca from looking at active birth postures and noting their similarity to some of the postures used on calling cards which are obviously sexual in nature.

It got us onto the subject of the sexuality of childbirth .....is it a sexual experience? How useful is art like this? But it did get us discussing this. Do the stickers denegrate pregncancy or celebrate it?


May, 4th

Posted by Juan delGado Posted: Wed 18th Jul, 18:03:19

Meeting Sally Air

I met Sally at Didsbury Medical Centre – she was busy switching the computer and preparing documents before her first visit.

K who is 31 weeks complains of sleeping problems – Sally recommends she lay on her side with a pillow between her legs. She’s attending the active birth classes to gain control over her pain. The active birth class offers information on what happens during labour and inform women about the choice of having a home birth as well as the optional use of Etanox [ gas + air ] and Epidural [ a pain killer injection in the spine ]

Another woman J who is expect 30 weeks and suffers from asthma and is worried that her baby is too small.  This would be M’s second child and she is currently under the consultant’s supervision.  Sally reassured her that everything should go well.

Later we meet M, who is 35 weeks and on her third child.  The baby’s heart rate is between 110-120 which considered normal. I asked M if I could record the baby’s heart beat and she agreed.

M is considering having an epidural.  Sally offered M the option of receiving pain management by using TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation).  TENS is a portable unit that is placed on the surface of the skin.  It provides electrical impulses to relieve pain.  These impulses can be adjusted to suit the mother’s needs.


I went with Sally to make a visit to the home of N a Muslim woman whose baby was 5 days’ old. N’s mother-in-law invited us in though she told me that I was not allowed upstairs to see N because I was male.  Sally went upstairs and I took my shoes off to go to the living room, whilst N’s mother-in-law made me a coffee. A little while later, N allowed me to see her upstairs. 

N has been having difficulty breast feeding her new born because she has also been bottle feeding. Sally promoted the benefits of breast feeding and asked N to decide on one method only to use as it was difficult for the baby to have both at this early stage.  There was a very large bottle of milk prepared for the baby and Sally suggested to have smaller amounts and dispose of the milk when the baby finished feeding.

I noticed how N’s baby quickly stopped crying after a cuddle.  I realised how special it was to be able to see the delicate and intimate relationship between mother and child.  When we left I thanked N and her mother-in-law for receiving me in their home.

April, 17th

Posted by Juan delGado Posted: Wed 20th Jun, 09:57:54

Aqua Natal, Chorlton Baths

By midday, Kath and I arranged to meet up at the Chorlton Baths where I will have the chance to meet some of the women at the aqua natal class. Kath asked for the keys of the room where we will met after the class for a chat and drinks.

Inside the swimming pool was really warm. Kath asked the women for permission to have the photograph taken. Only one woman said that she didn't want to be filmed.

The Aqua Natal is a place where not only pregnant women but also young mothers meet - they exercise following the midwife suggestions whereas a speaker plays music - some push chairs with the babys sleeping were lined up alongside the pool.

Kath started some movements and later she would jump into the water - I would heard later a Iwoman saying that she prefer the midwife to be inside the water and she did not like when the midwife was standing outside performing the movement. I told her that perhaps this was to allow the women to see the movements which it would happen if the midwife were inside the pool.

Some minutes later, Hayley, another midwife who I had not met yet,  joined us. Some women would take the chance to ask her questions and worries about their babies. It seemed that Hayley knew them very well. After the pool session, the women meet in a room to talk about how they feel, etc. This is a way to establish a bond amongst them.


Back at the Clinic I meet Kath tells me how shestarted working as a nurse in 1987 and progressed to become a midwife in 1997.

We talked about that day’s news – how a research report from the Office of National Statistic revealed that 1 out of 4 children in the UK were brought up in a single-parent family in 2006. 

Single parenthood may occur as the result of many things. Often it is opted for by the parent (as in adoption, artificial insemination, surrogate motherhood, or extramarital pregnancy), and often it is an unforeseeable occurrence (as in the death of one parent, divorce, or abandonment by one parent).

June 4th

Posted by Juan delGado Posted: Mon 4th Jun, 16:54:48

Meeting Jenny


I met up with Jenny at Ladybarn Clinic. Jenny started as a nurse in 1991 and worked until 1995 with elderly, people who suffered from a stroke or had been badly burnt. In 2002, she started working as midwife at Wythenshawe hospital.

We have nine women to see until midday. Most of them are between 25 and 34 weeks. Jenny would ask them how they felt and gave them some tips to help with pain and body posture.

A woman who is 37 weeks complains of a sore throat and at times, knuckle pain. This is her first baby which according to Jenny may stay longer in the womb as first babies generally do.

Another woman would highlight that her hand and feet are sweating most of the times. Jenny explains that this is normal and is due to the high level of fluids in the body.

We meet R, an Asian woman who is 29 weeks looks depressed and a bit down. Jenny tells me that there is a high rate of women from refugee background who have a poor attendance.  This makes it difficult for the midwives to establish a relationship with them and to observe how the pregnancy develops.

For every woman present, Jenny tests a urine sample, records the blood pressure and finally, she listens to the baby heart beats.  

The women are invited to ask more questions then a date is arranged for their next meeting. This is the clinic routine procedure from week 8/10 until a woman is due.

Jenny mentioned that there was a Panorama documentary on tv the next day showing the work of the Ante-Natal Unit at St Mary’s Hospital in Manchester.

April 12th

Posted by Juan delGado Posted: Thu 3rd May, 14:54:40

Withington Community Hospital

On April 12th, I eventually managed to arrange meeting with Kath at the Maternity Unit - She said that we would go to do some home visits in the morning and clinic work in the afternoon. I felt quite excited and nervous at the prospect of starting my collaboration with them.

Withington Community Hospital and Diagnostic and Treatment Centre is a hospital in West Didsbury, South Manchester and its facilities include an MRI scanner and endoscopes. It is operated by the South Manchester NHS Primary Care Trust and opened in 2005.

I arrived at 9:30 am and was welcomed by Kath who introduced me to the staff who work at the Maternity Unit - she offered me a cup of coffee and quickly explained what we would be doing through the day.

A few minutes later, we were inside "blue boy" - her car - looking at the names and addresses of the women we were going to visit this morning. Kath mapped out the journey and we agreed that unless I had permission from the women being visited that I should stay in the car.

Our first visit was to Mrs. A., a black woman who'd had her baby at St Marys' 6 days ago.  Mrs A. allowed me to accompany Kath. She told me that she had been helped by a male Spanish midwife, Ricardo. As some of the women  seemed to prefer a female midwife, Ricardo was not always welcomed but Mrs A. was very happy  to have Ricardo  assist her and apparently her labour went really well and she gave birth to beautiful baby-girl.

Kath explained to Mrs A. that she will be carrying out a rutine check to the baby which would involve weighing her and also carried out a blood test. The young mother was concerned about her baby's hearing the baby and Kath contacted St Mary's to make an appointment at the audiology department.

Later, we headed off to a hostel to meet a young woman who had become homeless. M was from Liverpool and was 31 weeks. She complained of headache and low pressure. M was living with her partner in a very small smoky room - Kath suggested that they should try not to smoke inside the room and allow some ventilation.  An appointment was arranged for M to visit the day clinic.

Our third visit was Mrs. L who had her baby girl 4 days ago - We walked into the living room. Mrs L told us that she had some complications at labour and her baby broke her shoulder - Kath looked at the baby's face who was wearing wood gloves in such a warm day. She suggested that perhaps there no need for the baby to be wearing so many clothes - Mrs L looked a bit tired and Kath recommended her to have some rest as her partner could look ater the baby.

Back into the 'blue boy' and arranged to meet up later at the clinic in Oswald Road.

Here, we have scheduled to see 9 pregnant women - Kath would explained who I was and what I was doing there. Then, she would ask them if they would mind me to be present during their visit - I was lucky as they all agreed to allow me being there.

L explained to Kath that she wanted home birth - Kath told her about the National Child Trust, a charity for pregnancy, birth and parenting based in the UK. The NCT has "developed so that today it is politically active, working to correct the imbalance of power between professional care-providers and women giving birth, to educate those in the professions, and to endure that positive government policies are translated into practice".