I was so thrilled to receive an Iolanthe Award, and it has enabled me to implement a popular new service in my area in South Wales. Through my role as a community midwife, I am often asked if there are any local pregnancy related exercise classes available, as women are keen to keep active and meet other local women. I enjoy practising yoga, and felt confident that there would be a demand for free pregnancy yoga classes in my area.
I discussed this with my manager and it was agreed that I could facilitate the classes as part of my community role, although the Health Board was unable to fund the training course. My Iolanthe Midwives Award made it possible for me to attend the course in June 2017, where I gained my Level One Certificate in teaching pregnancy yoga.
The classes started the following week on a drop in basis, held in the evenings in the antenatal clinic waiting area in the hospital. I was keen for the classes to be free for women to attend, and running the sessions within the hospital meant that there were no fees for venue hire.
Twenty women attended for the first session, and the feedback was extremely positive – they really enjoyed meeting other women and enjoyed the exercise.
The class continued to grow in popularity, and it quickly became clear that I would need to run more classes and operate a booking system to ensure the safety and enjoyment of the women. I started running two classes back to back on a Thursday evening, and women booked a place by calling the birth centre who kept a diary for me.
The classes are still extremely popular, with as many as 30 women attending each week. The women are really enjoying staying active and making friends with other local mums to be. They have set up a closed Facebook group to keep in touch between classes, to arrange meet-ups and to share birth stories and baby photos. Many of the women have shared that they found the breathing invaluable during labour. The women also attend local groups with other ‘yoga mums’ once they have had their babies.
The classes have facilitated the forming of a community, both online and offline, where women are supporting and encouraging each other, and sharing their journey of motherhood.
I am thoroughly enjoying running the sessions, and working with the women to stay active and learn breathing and relaxation techniques. Furthermore I feel privileged to witness the women making connections and friendships that are lasting into the postnatal period and hopefully much further. I am very grateful to the Iolanthe Midwifery Trust for the funding award, as they have enabled me to implement this popular service that has many benefits for women and babies.