Midwife, motivator, and mother of two, Asabea Britton on her true calling.
In this edition of Friends of Babyshop, we meet midwife Asabea Britton who, with her desire to help women have the best possible experience of childbirth and beyond, has become something of a guru on the issue. On social media, she shares her own and others’ stories about childbirth, breastfeeding, and postnatal care in a beautiful, open, and human way.
HI ASABEA, GREAT TO HAVE A CHAT WITH YOU. TELL US, HOW WOULD YOU INTRODUCE YOURSELF?
“Hi! Well, my name is Asabea, which is pronounced As-á-bi-a, not Assa-Bea like many people think. I’m 33, star sign Cancer, mother of two, youngest of five siblings, girlfriend. And I’m a trained midwife.”
WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU?
“One of my great vocations in life is to help women to make the experience of giving birth and being new mums as positive as possible. ‘Peace on earth begins with birth’ is a quote that is close to my heart. So that’s very important for me, as is working for change and improvements in Swedish maternity care. But most important to me is my family.”
TELL US ABOUT YOUR FAMILY!
“My close family is my partner and my two sons, who are one and three. My immediate family consists of my parents, my two sisters and two brothers and all our children. My extended family consists of lots of aunts and cousins. My mother’s side of the family is from Ghana but we’re spread out all over the world.”
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE BRANDS OR GARMENTS FOR YOUR KIDS?
“I think it’s important that children feel comfortable. I want their clothes to be easy to play in. So for my oldest, there’s a lot of tights and comfy outfits. Preferably in a colorful set. Many of their clothes are from Mixed Grill, Bobo Choses, Stadsmissionen and things we’ve inherited. I also rent clothes. I rent virtually all their outerwear from Hyber. From Babyshop, I really like Bonmot Organic, Marmar, The Campamento, Weekend House Kids, Wynken and Oii.”
SECOND-HAND OR NEW, WHERE DO YOU STAND?
“Preferably second-hand or rent. I think renting is perfect for children because they get through their things so quickly. In addition to Hyber, I rent from A Second Love Affair which has a lot of nice things. My children also have several slightly older cousins so they inherit a lot of things.”
WHAT DO YOU ALWAYS PUT IN YOUR CHANGING BAG?
“It really depends. If I’m wearing a shawl, which I do quite a lot, I’m really minimalist. I might have a bum bag with a couple of nappies in it. I don’t think you need much more than that if you’re not going out for that long. My son is still breastfeeding but eats what I eat, so I don’t have to think about it so much. But if we’re going on a longer excursion and have the pram, we usually pack nappies, a change of clothes, baby wipes, and maybe something to eat. We usually bring pajamas and a toothbrush if we’re going away in the evening and the children will fall asleep on the way home.”
… AND WHAT ABOUT SELF-CARE, WHAT DO YOU DO TO FEEL GOOD?
“Ha, makeup! Or that was the first thing I thought of: I love it when I have the chance to be totally on my own and be creative with makeup. It makes me calm and happy. But for me, self-care is also about just giving myself time to be myself - time when I don’t have to take care of anyone or accomplish anything - it doesn’t happen very often, but often enough. I'm also good at asking for a lie-in when I need it. I’m also good at giving lie-ins! They’re the best gift you can give your partner.”
WE THINK YOU’RE BIT OF AN EXPERT ON CARRYING BABIES IN SHAWLS. WOULD YOU CHOOSE A SHAWL OVER A SLING?
“It’s a matter of taste really, but personally I prefer a shawl. I have not used a sling much at all though; the times I’ve tried it I’ve not found it as comfortable as a shawl. I find shawls more comfortable and more comfortable for my children, especially when they are newborn. You can change shawls a lot with different types of knots. I also think shawls are much more beautiful - which is a bonus!”
WHICH SHAWL BRANDS WOULD YOU RECOMMEND? WHICH DO YOU USE?
“I have lots of shawls and most of them I’ve received as gifts. My best and most luxurious shawls are from Sling Studio. I also like a little Dutch company called Tulipe Turquoise and Sweden’s Sjala och Louie who make ring shawls.”
HOW DID YOU PREPARE FOR YOUR HOME BIRTH? WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS IMPORTANT TO THINK ABOUT IF YOU ARE CONSIDERING A HOME BIRTH?
“I prepared in many ways, especially mentally and by creating an environment where I would feel completely at ease. I put together a group of people who I knew would give me the support I needed: two midwives, one of whom I knew, my two sisters, a friend of mine, and my boyfriend. They fully understood the oxytocin-boosting environment I wanted around me with dimmed lighting, quiet, calm, etc. And my mother, who was there to look after my son. I prepared to give birth in water. I did a hypnobirthing course which led me to use affirmations, visualisation, and special breathing techniques. I practiced relaxation daily from around week 20. And of course my whole midwifery training was like one long, incredibly detailed prenatal course, so I felt very confident about what was happening to my body during the birth. What did I do? Well, I did prenatal acupuncture with my colleague Helena Maass twice just before the birth. I ate six dates a day for the last few weeks before the birth, drank raspberry leaf tea and took evening primrose oil. What I liked most about these things was the ceremonial aspect of them because it helped me feel that this was happening soon and that it was something beautiful.”
“If you’re planning a home birth, I think it’s important to think about who you have with you at the birth so you have the support you want. You also need to have good strategies to manage the intensity of the birth, take the time you need to practice relaxation and breathing, and know what increases and reduces your oxytocin levels. I’d also recommend swimming because this is a great form of pain relief. I also think that it’s important to be aware of the fact that there’s a lot of ignorance about home births and that you try not to let other people’s worries and fears get to you. You don’t have to tell everyone that you’re planning a home birth if you don’t want to. I’d also recommend going to information meetings about home births if they’re available where you live, otherwise there are certainly good forums online.”
WHAT IS YOUR PHILOSOPHY FOR LIFE THAT YOU TRY TO LIVE BY?
“Hmm, I can’t say that that’s something I think about every day, but maybe to be as kind to myself as I want others to be to me. Also, try to think of mistakes as lessons and agree to scary things to develop as a person.”
WHICH PRODUCTS WOULD YOU RECOMMEND FIRST-TIME PARENTS TO INVEST IN?
“I would really say less is more. In my experience, a newborn baby in particular needs incredibly little. Skin to skin and boobs get you a long way, (if you’re breastfeeding). I honestly don’t think I bought a single new thing for my second child. However, I have found the following things hugely helpful: babysitters, baby nest, towel nappies, organic softening creams, and clothes of course.”
AS A MIDWIFE, YOU MEET MANY MOTHERS. DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR THOSE YOU ARE PERHAPS FEELING NERVOUS ABOUT GIVING BIRTH?
“My preparation helped me a lot, especially having practiced to quickly go into deep relaxation. My affirmations, visualisation and conscious breathing during the different stages of the birth were also helpful. I wouldn't change a thing if I were to give birth again. I’d also recommend gaining some knowledge about the different stages of birth with less focus on the possible negative things and more focus on how to make it as relaxed and gentle as possible.”
ONE LAST QUESTION, DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR OUR READERS?
“Not to take everything too seriously. We’re here for a good time, not a long time.”
INSPIRED BY ASABEA: