Birth Environment Consultancy

The problem

By definition, an holistic approach to childbirth encompasses all aspects of childbirth, including psychological preparation, maternal and fetal monitoring, the labor itself, and follow-up of the family afterwards. The environment in which all this takes place deserves close examination, not only to optimize outcomes but also to ensure it enriches the experiences for all concerned.

All too often, though, consideration of the birth environment begins and ends with what we might call the “perinatal period” of a birthing unit. Once it has been constructed and is operational, everyone just accepts the status quo. There might be the occasional cosmetic update (a new coat of paint, perhaps) or the addition of some new machine, but the overall working environment and the workflow it dictates remain pretty much “set in stone”, often for decades.


Sometimes the deficiencies are recognized by those who use the facility, but there is insufficient vision or resources to effect a change. Many more times, though, people are simply unaware of the entrenched counterproductive elements in the birth environment.

Does it matter?

Just as, consciously or unconsciously, we notice and react to any number of things when we visit our doctor, so too does every detail of the birth environment matter to the women, partners, babies and midwives who work within it.

Sadly, even brand-new facilities can have serious flaws. It is amazing to watch planners spend hours on determining where to position power outlets while at the same time failing to recognize fundamental shortcomings in the overall design.

Where BirthRite can help

BirthRite can provide an external perspective, steeped in years of experience on the inside. Its Director, Monika Boenigk, brings to her Birth Environment Consultancy practice the perceptive observation, sensitivity to women’s needs, concern for her fellow midwives and inventiveness that led her to design her groundbreaking birthing setting, the BirthRite Floor Studio. As one of the world’s leading exponents of holistic midwifery, in both theory and practice, she is well placed to assess all aspects of a woman’s journey to childbirth and beyond.

Important as it is, birthing equipment is only one part of midwifery practice. Holistic midwifery has a multitude of facets, many of which pertain to intangibles. Failure to appreciate and deal with them can mar the performance of even the best equipped birthing unit. Monika can show maternity units how they can adapt their existing physical and psychological birth environments so as to achieve a more conducive place for childbirth.


Monika’s recommendations will benefit women and their partners, as they feel better understood at a deeper level and have greater confidence in their attendants. Midwives benefit from increased awareness of their actions, closer involvement with their clients and heightened professional satisfaction. Administrators benefit from the enhanced reputation their units enjoy, amongst both their professional staff and members of the community they serve.

When is it worthwhile?

Engagement of the Birth Environment Consultancy service can be beneficial at any time in the life of a birthing facility. However, there are some specific situations in which it can be especially useful:–

What is involved
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The consultation program can be tailored to meet specific needs but typically involves on-site inspection and consultations with unit leaders and midwives, looking at all aspects of the birthing environment, from antenatal clinics and education rooms right through to birthing rooms and nurseries. The focus is on identifying and eliminating psychological and physical stumbling blocks to a positive birth experience.

An indicative but by no means exhaustive list of things to be considered includes the ambience of the unit, the first point of contact, noise levels, “busy unit” syndrome, the problem with uniforms, psychological barriers and protection of a couple’s intimacy. All too often, the midwife herself is overlooked in deliberations on the effect of the birth environments. An important part of Monika’s work is stimulating ongoing discussion amongst midwives so as to embed holistic thinking in the culture of the unit.

Issues of concern are identified and suggestions for improvement offered. A number of follow-up consultations via phone, email or return visit to the site are scheduled during the 12 months following the initial visit.

Monika is happy to work with birthing units regardless of their size. She recognizes that many units have only a small budget but are nevertheless keen to make positive changes in the birth environment they offer.


For bookings or further information, please Contact Us.
Last altered: 2016-03-14 [ISO 8601] Copyright © 2015–2016 BirthRite. All rights reserved.