We recently had the pleasure of chatting with Yasmin Rose, a fellow expat, founder of Rise Birth Centre & Co-Author of 'Birthing with Heart' to find out all about midwifery, birthing abroad and more!
1: Yasmin, tell us about your life in Dubai! Have you always lived there? Are you living the expat
life? What do you love/hate about living in Dubai? Would you recommend living in Dubai to
fellow female expats/digital nomads?
As a nomad does, I came and left Dubai twice, but I always come back =) I first came to Dubai in 2008. I love the diversity of people in the UAE; I am always learning more about cultures and countries from conversations with interesting people I meet here. I definitely recommend living in Dubai for female expats/digital nomads. There is so much to do, it’s a short flight to a huge variety of fun destinations, people are generally friendly and open because we’ve all been new here at some point. It’s very safe as well, I’ve never felt uncomfortable walking alone at any hour.
2: You are the founder of Rise Birth Centre and Co-Author of Birthing with Heart! This all sounds
incredible - tell us more!
The start of this career track was when I became a birth doula which is someone who supports mothers emotionally, physically, and mentally during pregnancy, birth, and early postpartum. As I attended more and more births with families, I recognised there was a different way to approach birth that is not offered here. Currently, births take place in a hospital environment under the supervision of an obstetrician. Rise Birth Centre is bringing midwifery-led care in a homelike environment to the Middle Eastern and Gulf regions for the first time.
“Birthing with Hearth, the Birth of a Mother” is a beautiful collection of advice and stories from doulas and midwives. It has something for everyone, whether a parent or not. We cover what to expect, how to prepare, cultural traditions, hypnobirthing, and the harder aspects like IVF, loss, and postpartum depression.
3: Can you tell us more about your area of expertise - 'passionately committed to supporting
positive birth experiences' - and how women can have a positive birthing experience?
To explain my passionate commitment, I have been working since 2017 on bringing midwifery-led care to the Middle Eastern region, without being committed and truly believing in it (yes, having passion for it), I would not still be here succeeding in opening the region’s first birth centre. I think one of the biggest factors to having a positive birth experience is a need to feel involved and part of the decision making processes. If someone is informed about all of their options, understands what is being offered, is the one making the decision for herself and her baby, then even if it didn’t go to plan, there is still a satisfaction in knowing it went as well as was possible. They were surrounded by the right team, who were all on the same page with the same goals and did what they all could to achieve the desired outcome. Trauma occurs when things happen suddenly, to you, without knowing why, without knowing what it means, without knowing what lead you there etc. Along with general fitness and health, the best ways to prepare are to get informed, find the right team, and work on any fear you may be holding about birth.
4: You mention that there are marked differences in midwifery care and obstetrical care - can you talk about your thoughts on midwifery throughout the world and where you think women get the best/worst care?
Midwifery throughout the world is vastly under-utilised and under-recognised. Midwives are the best-positioned provider for those having a straight-forward pregnancy and birth. Specifically, if someone is wanting a physiological (non-medicated) birth, that is what a midwife studies. An obstetrician studies medical emergencies and are best suited for high-risk cases. Some countries do not have midwives working to their full capacities, many times because they do not recognise midwives as an autonomous provider, and have resulting high intervention rates. A study
was published in 2020 calculating the number of lives that would be saved if 88 countries that lead the maternal and neonatal deaths scaled up their midwifery; the outcome was if universal coverage of midwife-delivered interventions were available, 4.3 million lives would be saved every year (https://www.who.int/d ocs/default-source/mca-documents/maternal-nb/midwifery/potential-
impact-of-midwives.pdf). For developed countries, USA is the worst care. They are the only high-income country to have maternal mortality rates increase! Different states have different regulations on how midwives are allowed to work, and there is racism, many times institutional, that plays a large role in the poor outcomes. Then there are many low and middle income countries (LMIC) that do not have enough providers to care for women and/or care is not accessible because of location, funds, roads, and cultural norms. The country with lowest maternal mortality rate is Iceland, where
the main provider is midwives and all options of home, birth centre, or hospital births are available. Excellent care is also provided in Finland, the Netherlands, and New Zealand where again, midwives are the prevalent providers. Quite a few countries also recognise the importance of the postpartum period and have different traditions and options for the first 40 days. A few of the European countries send someone to your home to help with the mom, baby, and household; I believe Germany does daily for the first 10 days, Denmark does weekly for the first year, Netherlands has a
minimum of 24 hours spread over multiple visits.
5: What advice do you have for female expats who are planning to have a baby or maybe get pregnant and they are in a foreign country of their own and may not have the right support around them..?
My advice for anyone is to find a doula. Even if you decide not to hire one to be with you for your birth, they will know the landscape and be able to direct you to a supportive team and have full awareness of what your options are for your current living situation.
6: What is an unmedicated birth? Can you explain to women who may be thinking of entering motherhood?
An unmedicated birth means labouring and birthing without any medication. The goal is
to enjoy the natural release of endorphins and oxytocin your body readily provides, however this can get hindered by adrenaline and fear making the process more painful. Going for a physiological birth usually is chosen by those wanting to participate more in the process as you can be fully mobile and moving as per instincts to help things along. It also keeps the baby from getting drugged. The narrative our society gives us about birth is full of misinformation and leaves many quite scared of the process. Gaining a better understanding of what happens and releasing any fear about birth makes an extreme difference to the experience.
7: Where have you traveled/lived/worked that really inspired you personally and professionally?
I think the most impactful trip I had to my personal outlook on life was visiting extended family in a refugee camp when I was 10. There is a level of appreciation for life when you understand how differently other people live and what privilege I was born into. Hiking through Sapa Valley with a sweet lady and her 5 month old baby strapped on her back probably lingered into my own motherhood journey as well. Perhaps it contributed to my attitude of strapping on my kids and carrying on with things; I just bring them along! Living in the UAE inspired me professionally in that I completely switched career paths to fill a desperate need I identified in the region around birthing practices.
8: What do you like to do in your spare time?
I'm an avid audio-book listener. The kids and I like to play board and card games, we also enjoy traveling when we have the opportunity. I like to carve out time to tend to my garden, salsa dance, and accompany myself on piano.
9: What is life like as a ‘doula’?
It brings out a wide range of emotions from pure joy while watching a mother the first moments after birth to pure frustration when recounting something done that is not based on any evidence and inconveniences the labor. Other than the birth itself,
I love helping people understand more about birth, helping them feel prepared through
education and exercises. It is fun to watch a couple’s journey to confidence. Being on call as a doula can limit your personal life to some extent. Travel is not an option, all commitments are a bit loose because the priority will always be to get to a birth. Generally things work out well though and I’m able to plan more concrete events away from birth windows. The timing of births can be quite long as well and generally overnight, so you need to make time to catch up on sleep as well after each birth. It’s highly rewarding overall and gave me my life’s purpose to ensure respectful and gentle births are a possibility.
10: What advice would you give to women who have experienced trauma in their female reproductive system and are looking to have a baby now?
Find a way to work through the trauma so it is not a part of your body and subconscious. There is no time where you will see the direct correlation between the mind and the body so clearly as during labor and birth. Your body can resist the process if you are blocked/holding back/scared. There is a line of research now that is looking at mothers’ emotional states during pregnancy and the impact on baby; basically the baby feels the mother’s emotions. If this is the case, it is relevant to try to be in a
positive state of mind and looking forward to birth. Dealing with past trauma is really
individualised, but I would encourage identifying what might best work and trying that. It would be worthwhile to research the many different techniques for healing and following what resonates. Possibilities include finding a support group, taking a course, journaling, therapy, and subconscious reprogramming. Find supportive maternity providers who understand your situation and can work with your comfort levels, keeping you informed and getting consent for everything. Also, keep only those you feel safe with inside the birthing room with you.