I am Catherine Bell
The Birth Cartographer and author of The Birth Map: boldly going where no birth plan has gone before
I was a mother-in-waiting for three years (you can read about my Life BC below), but it was not until I was in ‘the club’ that I became privy to certain knowledge – after I needed it. There have been so many ‘if I knew then’ moments!
By the time my third was born, I had completed my Masters in Science Communication, which I had begun before having children. Alongside this, I trained as a doula and as a breastfeeding educator and counsellor (with the Australian Breastfeeding Association). Both these traineeships revealed the lost information that all mothers need. Combined with my Masters, I was driven to improve the woeful communication in maternity services.
My website was born out of my drive to share this knowledge. I was frustrated at the need-to-know nature of the maternity system, and the limited information provided when facing decisions.
To provide all women with the means to make informed decisions regarding their pregnancy care, labour, birth and parenting
The next phase in my mission is to test my hypothesis, that Birth Cartography is the bridge to facilitating communication and informed decision making, with a PhD study. The anecdotal evidence suggests that Birth Cartography has the potential to improve birth for women, their partners and the care providers. A simple revolution which takes us from an informed consent model into an informed decision making one. Woman-led Maternity: where care providers work together to support women, assist as needed and honour and respect the immensity of matrescence.
Life Before Children
Becoming a parent changes us. Significantly. In my Life BC, I was becoming a Marine Biologist – a marine mammal researcher. I was on the cusp of a PhD chasing killer whales around the Aleutian Islands (Alaska) when my biological clock started booming – a matter of months after the trip of a life time to the Antarctic. It was like I had ticked off my childhood dreams, and was ready for adulthood…all thoughts of whales and phd’s (previously an intense passion) were replaced with dreams of babies. It was a long awaited pregnancy when it finally came, and in becoming a Mother I was forever changed. I re-evaluated what mattered, and found my scientific brain turning to breastfeeding knowledge, then birth physiology, and then all my previous experiences were channeled in new ways toward my current journey as The Birth Cartographer, and a PhD about facilitating communication in birth preparation.
The document below began as a series of email updates, sent weekly from the ship. There was no internet (a daily transfer was made, and the IT person was in control of all the world news). There was no social media.
The photos were taken on a film camera, and the film was scanned.
I am still that Catherine. She is very much a part of me, but sometimes it is like she was a completely different person, someone I knew once…an old friend fondly remembered, but not a part of my life any more. I still have her collection of Bryan Adams tapes and CDs.