Born Today

Wellcome Collection, London, March – May 2011

Born Today aims to provide views of what it is like to be born now. Through a series of four programmed discussions from March to May at Wellcome Collection, London, it will tackle key issues concerning childbirth in the areas of medicine, society, culture and the arts. The series, curated by Thereza Wells, will include the participation of medics and midwives, anthropologists and artists, to bring together a collage of viewpoints from across the globe.

All events are free, please go to Wellcome Collection website for bookings.

Giving Birth

10 March 2011
How we are born depends dramatically on where we are born. In the UK most women give birth in hospitals, but globally home births are the norm. Giving birth in the West is relatively safe, whereas in low-income countries it is often life-threatening. Why is this?
Speakers: Professor Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, former president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists; Professor Sheila Kitzinger, social anthropologist of birth and author of 23 books on childbirth; Professor Cathy Warwick, General Secretary of the Royal College of Midwives.

Engineering Birth

17 March 2011
Caesarean sections were originally undertaken when the life of the baby or mother was at threat. Today a Caesarean section can be carried out as much for convenience as for safety. Are we taking the dramatic intervention involved in a C-section too lightly, and should they be curtailed?
Speakers: Mr. Jonathan Brooks, obstetrician and gynaecological surgeon at Portland Hospital, London; Professor Michael Stark, developer of a simplified caesarean section technique and President of the New European Surgical Academy (NESA); Professor Joan Raphael-Leff, psychoanalyst and social psychologist specialising in reproductive issues. Anna Freud Centre, University College London.

Describing Birth

28 April 2011
The representation of childbirth in the arts had for many centuries been confined to religious paintings and medical treatises. In the 20th century, this changed, as artists and writers began to explore the subject in more personal ways. This event will uncover the ways childbirth has been described and documented by artists, writers and photographers.
Speakers: Catherine Bailey, model, wife of David Bailey, mother of three, Jill Dawson, writer and editor of an anthology on childbirth in literature; Nancy Durrell McKenna, photographer, documentary film maker, and founder and director of Safe Hands for Mothers and Fay Weldon, CBE, novelist playwright and screenwriter.

Ritualising Birth

5 May 2011
Giving birth is an event rich in ritual. Here in the West it is often overlooked, perhaps because the great majority of births take place in hospital. This event will explore not only Western birth rituals, but also those from other cultures, how they are perceived when they are brought here and what we can learn from them.
Speakers: Mavis Kirkham, Emeritus Professor of Midwifery, Sheffield Hallam University; Comfort Momoh, midwife, founder of the African Well Woman Clinic, and campaigner for the abolition of the practice of female genital mutilation; Dr Gowri Motha, obstetrician and creator of the ‘Gentle Birth Method.’

To visit Wellcome blog about the Born Today events. click here.

There is a linked event taking place in Cambridge on 7 May, organized by Dr. Francoise Barbira Freedman, Medical Anthropologist, University of Cambridge. For more information click here.

Also in Cambridge there will be an installation of childbirth related contemporary art curated by Thereza Wells which will open at Clare Hall, University of Cambridge on 7 May.