Having worked for the NHS as a midwife for 15 years, and realising that the protocols supported the system rather than the birthing woman, Mia Hill knew she wanted to work with women in a more holistic and woman-centred way. She began creating an alternative – Village Birth – and found her true calling: to walk with women in all stages of their motherhood journey, from preconception through to many months and even years postpartum. She is proud to be growing Village Birth within her local community, offering women’s circles and in-person and virtual support, covering the whole journey through pregnancy, birth and beyond. Here Mia talks to The Natural Parent Magazine about the inspiration behind her business, the challenges she has overcome, and her hopes and dreams for the future.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
The work of traditional midwifery has been my passion for as long as I can remember. I have always known, deep in my being, that this is my soul’s purpose for this life. I wanted to work with women in a holistic and woman-centred approach and felt I needed to complete a professional midwifery training to achieve that. To become a licensed midwife in the UK, the training is limited to within the NHS under the guidance of the Nursing and Midwifery Council. So that’s where I began and consequently worked in that system for 15 years.
The road from system-based maternity care to holistic birthkeeper has been a long and winding one. Three years ago, I began sticking my head above the murky waters of licensed midwifery and into the possibilities of what truly being with women could mean. I talked to freebirthing women, listened to inspiring podcasts, and realised what I needed as a mother myself. I did a deep dive into my beliefs around what midwifery means and began the process of unlearning a lot of what I had been taught in the system.
After realising the protocols within the NHS are there to support the system and not the birthing woman, I began creating an alternative – Village Birth. This work is my true calling, to walk with women in all stages of their motherhood journey, from preconception through to many months and even years postpartum.
I am now growing Village Birth within my local community with women’s circles and offering in-person and virtual support to women on the whole spectrum of the perinatal journey. I feel truly aligned with this ancient practice of being with woman and I am always learning and growing from this work.
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
Village Birth started out as an idea formed between friends. Myself and my friend Jaye, who was a doula at the time, began imagining what it would be like to create a midwife/doula partnership. I held the knowledge and she was the driving force and inspiration to do things differently. We were a great team and began creating offerings for women together in 2020.
We ran an antenatal course on Zoom during lockdown as well as free weekly Q&As for women navigating the maternity system during Covid. We evolved into doing 1 to 1 sessions for women and started taking on birth clients in 2021. At this point, Jaye was primarily doing the postpartum work and I was focusing on holding the prenatal side of things.
By the end of 2021, life had pulled us in different directions and Jaye stepped back from all work with Village Birth. I was still incredibly passionate about evolving this business and so took on all the work solo. I began developing my presence on social media but mostly I talked to women in my community. My first full package clients came through face-to-face interactions and ultimately word of mouth. Village Birth is still developing and I do not underestimate the power of being in community, sitting in circle with women and building trust to really grow my business.
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
I have had many breakthroughs throughout the course of building Village Birth but perhaps the biggest one was the realisation that in order to truly serve women I needed to move away from the system I was working in. For a while, I was offering a limited private service as well as working a job within the NHS as a community midwife. In the year leading up to leaving my job, I knew all along it wasn’t where I wanted to be and I really struggled to work within the constraints of the hospital protocols.
Once the blinkers came off it was very hard to not see the coercive, fear-mongering ways used to get women to comply. I could no longer turn a blind eye to the obstetric violence being demonstrated by some professionals within the system. I could clearly see the knock-on effect of the cascade of intervention, which more often than not led to birth trauma for many women. I have always known there was a better way to be ‘with women’ than in this modern maternity system, but I truly felt it in my bones since deciding to leave this way of working.