On April 4th, The Nest Southwest CIC hosted a Community Day to celebrate our successes with tea and cake. Choosing Sylvania Community Hall as our venue, the day allowed members from all three sections of our organisation to come together – Menopause, Menstruation, Pregnancy & Birth. And what a day it was.
Equipped with various selections of drinks and sweet things (including the extremely tasty and aesthetically pleasing Nest logo cup-cakes from Bizzie Baking), the hall was filled with members of our community, with some of the little ones running in and out near the play area, while our newest members were cooed over, much to their bemusement. The floor was covered with brightly coloured mats and a collection of various toys, creating a cheerful and welcoming effect. And it seemed even the weather was on our side, as the sun gave our outdoor photos that bit of extra sparkle.
As a Social Media Intern, I loved it all. As a University of Exeter student, with currently no young children in my immediate family, I realised I do not often get to interact with very small children. Whereas, during our Community Day, I was able to meet so many people , who got to tell me about their little ones, some of which were only weeks old. It was a wonderful experience that I would never have received if it wasn’t for this day. And as a Social Media Intern, it gives me an invaluable opportunity to see exactly what community I am now a part of!
Most of all, I was astounded at how far-reaching The Nest’s support is. In a post-pandemic world, I believe we are all now accustomed to meeting individuals for the first time over Zoom or Teams. So it was refreshing to see so many aspects of the organisation together in one space. For example, for some of the volunteers, this was their first time meeting in person.
Yet that wouldn’t necessarily be apparent if observing the festivities taking place in Sylvania Hall on April 4th. The atmosphere was brilliant, a constant buzz from different members all communicating and interacting with one another created an infectiously jolly mood. It seemed the time whizzed past because far too soon, it was time to go home again – which seemed to prove the old saying; time does fly when you’re having fun.
The list of people we have to thank seems never-ending. Of course, LUSH Exeter, for providing us with their lovely luxury bath products – which, according to some people who DMed the page, proved a hit with both adults and the little ones. And we have all the volunteers to thank. From our helper who worked tirelessly in the kitchen making endless cups of tea, to the people who volunteered to set up and clean up. Again, another thank you goes to all the amazing volunteers and the talented Gwellian Rial of White Linen Photography who documented all of this with her brilliant camera. And a huge thank you goes to our co-founders, Hazel, Jodie and Nancy for masterminding the whole event.
Finally, I would like to say a thank you to all the members of The Nest community and those who made this day possible who couldn’t make it. But after observing the success of this brilliant Community Day, I am confident enough to say; don’t fret, there will be many more opportunities for you to join in the coming years.
The community day was funded by The National Lottery – Awards for All.
Yasmeen Louis – Social Media Coordinator and Analyser, intern from the University of Exeter.
Every year the 8th March is celebrated as International Women’s Day. It is a collective world wide effort for gender equality, not owned by any one single organisation as it is something that we all need to work towards together – co-creating a world of diversity, inclusivity and celebration. Celebrating all people who identify as women.
“You can do some rather extraordinary things if that’s what you really believe.”
– Toni Morrison
This blog post is to introduce you to the work of The Nest and signpost to some other women’s support organisations in the Exeter and Devon area. First we’d like to share this video by spoken word poet Anisa Nandaula…
The Nest Southwest is a community interest company based in Exeter, Devon, set up to support women and girls through the major life transitions of menstruation, pregnancy, birth and menopause. We offer social, emotional and informational support through a variety of women’s peer support groups, menstrual wellbeing workshops, webinars, social media presence and a hire service to reduce landfill waste while saving money. We are passionate about creating community by opening spaces that foster non-judgement, build peer support networks, and grow respect for self, others and the planet.
Whatever you choose to do with your time we hope you will take a moment after reading this blog to reflect on the world you live in. Big changes are often made up of little actions taken consistently over a long period of time, and to create a world where gender equality is a reality, the changes need to first start inside ourselves and our beliefs.
“Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard.”
Comments? Please drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you…
Grief is a collection of feelings we feel for a variety of reasons, most commonly understood to be something we feel when people we love pass away. But it’s one of the most complicated of emotions, and not limited to losing a loved one. It is not linear and does not follow an easy straight pathway back ‘to normal.’ Grief is also an initiation, as we are forever changed by the experience.
We are living in a time of loss for so many things. We open the doorway to grief and see how wide ranging it can be, and how often we are afraid of even opening the door to peek through because of what we might find. And although grief is unique to you and your situation, when we come together we can feel compassion with others which helps alleviate feelings of loneliness, and can ease anxiety and depression.
Here at The Nest we support women, birthing people and menstruators through the major life transitions of menstruation, pregnancy, birth and menopause. Grief can be encountered around many of these corners, and is something that is not often shared but is very common when we start talking about fertility.
Grief can come at many stages in the fertility journey, for example through:
Termination of pregnancy for social or financial reasons
Termination for medical reasons
Divorce / separation
Fertility treatment loss
Pregnancy after loss
Or any other grief related to the wide field of fertility… all is welcome
Grief tending in community
What do we do when the weight of sorrow lies heavy in our heart? How do we deal with it? Grief tending in community is a four hour event to give attention to our grief within a supportive group. It is a journey for connection with self, and others who also feel deeply and widely.
Humans are a social species. We are born to live in connection with other people, not just for the good times, but also for the difficult ones. Grief tending in community offers an opportunity to build a ‘village’ even if only for the day, which can bear witness and hold each other’s strong feelings. It can help to:
Build connection to other people
Give emotional release
Soothe the nervous system
Open to healing
Connect with life
Our next Grief Tending in Community event is coming up on Wednesday 6th April in Exeter. Please register your interest now:
Grief tending in community is a space to share some of those feelings within a like-minded group. We meet in person with a supportive team who hold the space for sorrow and have experience of supporting others in this way.
We recognise that grief is not an isolated event, but is affected by your unique personality, your family situation, your culture, language, spirituality and community. We welcome all genders.
Grief tending is about creating a non-judgmental and respectful experience to process some of our feelings while being witnessed and witnessing others. For too many of us grief is hidden behind closed doors, sometimes through fear or in an attempt to try and protect others from the depth of our pain.
Grief tending cannot take away what happened to you, but it can offer an opportunity to learn to live alongside the feelings.
Grief tending in community is not the first place to come if you are recently bereaved, or if your mental health is unstable. Please seek advice from your health care professional if you are in any doubt.
Neither does grief tending in community replace professional therapy, but can work very well alongside 1-2-1 work.
Grief tending is a good way to feel feelings, especially if you have felt stuck for a while, feel numb and don’t know what you feel. When coming to an event we advise that you find support for yourself both before and afterward. This could be a check in with a good friend or family member who can listen, or with a trained therapist or counsellor.
Ready to book?
Register your interest to be the first to know when booking opens for our event on 6th April 2022.
Exeter’s Menopause Café has well and truly launched.
Contributing to a nationwide drive, it’s every first Friday of the month, so it’s easy to remember. And it was so good the first time in October that I booked again for the second meet, and I’m already booked for the third meet – it’s literally that infectious.
So who amongst the menopausal ‘us’ doesn’t want to chat in confidence, in a safe, friendly environment, over coffee, share views and stories, and create new ones? In steps The Nest Southwest CIC (which stands for Community Interest Company) to provide just that. Courtesy of The Glorious Art House Café run by the unbelievably cheerful Rosie, she knew she always wanted to host such meetings.
How clever a name is The Nest which was set up to encompass the whole process from menstruation, pregnancy and childbirth to motherhood in their offering, through to the other ‘M’- Menopause. These are all milestones in the reproductive life cycle with which The Nest anticipated we might need help in our lives.
There’s so much more noise now about the menopause. We do really need to pause. We are in midlife, but menopause has been given a bad name for too long. Women have not known during that time what’s hit them. They still don’t. But they know more. At least the conversation has started, from documentaries to news items, (The Menopause Café Exeter Launch was filmed in part by BBC Spotlight), specialist doctors, to GPs. Word is getting out and round. The conversations are happening, choices and decisions are thankfully more informed, and we are being celebrated. We’re filling in the gaps and it’s causing quite a buzz.
We should campaign to re-name the menopause to something a bit more user-friendly. There are needless to say a few contenders but I personally like the sound of Second Spring , as it is a second chance at life, a rebirth. Whatever it’s called, it’s being reframed. It has to be. With the menopause, so much feeds into it, and comes out of it. We will now hopefully get a lot more out of it. Finally we are less than just a label and more a force to be reckoned with.
Exeter couldn’t have picked a nicer, quirkier, inspired setting for its monthly morning meets to lift our spirits. The Glorious Art House Café really is glorious; two floors of a wonderful historic building with original features that have been so brightly furnished, updated and decorated, you’d consider yourself on holiday, so welcoming is the atmosphere. You won’t be surprised to learn it really is an arthouse.
At that time of the morning it’s a perfectly fashioned coffee and cake to settle down with, quirky crockery and tableware to boot. The menopause meeting takes place on the first floor to ensure the safety and confidentiality of the menopausal (and non-menopausal) café customers. Half way through, it’s almost a game of musical chairs to encourage more getting to know one another by shuffling around, even enlarging a chatty group and of course a chance to grab another hot drink.
It’s a chance to support local businesses and independents, (as many of the attendees here are) each other and fellow mid-lifers. There have been waiting lists both times so far, and it’s easy to see why this catches on. There’s the desired 14 of us max at the moment. We are here with a common cause. We have our own personal narratives, we become a voice, a menopause community. Initially as strangers we are friends we haven’t made yet. Friends come with friends, and make new ones. You might come in alone, but you are never alone. You don’t walk out alone. And soon the faces become familiar and might well form a core, conversations can veer off topic, just as they should, when you realise you have more in common than you thought.
See, we can ‘google’ all we like the classic symptoms of peri-and menopause, the ones most talked about, the loudest ones and even post-menopause as we are all at different stages of this midlife. But the quieter symptoms, they are the most exciting ones to talk about. We all end up laughing.
A Menopausal Café -goer from the inaugural meet in Perth, Scotland, originally told The Guardian newspaper, “Now I know I’m not alone. I’m not going mad.”
One Exeter attendee most recently said “I enjoyed it SO much. The whole meet was so uplifting and inspiring; you provided a space where I could thrive, in a way I haven’t been able to for so long – I came alive.”
Guest blog written by Barbara Wheatley. A former PR from London, with a BA in International Marketing, now living in Devon, writing flash fiction and creative non-fiction. Barbara is passionate about language and the written word, reading, writing, philosophising while researching and reviewing. Her work has appeared on Paragraph Planet and regularly on Friday Flash Fiction. She is a member of the SW Writer’s Register and proud to recently become a LITRO magazine contributor with her first ever 2000 word book review. She loves to take good photos, is into colour, music, all things pre-loved and is an advocate of mental wellbeing.
The Nest Southwest hosts the Exeter Menopause Café on the first Friday of the month at The Glorious Art House Café, on Fore Street, Exeter. 10am to 12 noon. All genders and all ages welcome. Entry by donation. Booking essential as space is limited. Book HERE now.
Pregnancy and becoming a parent is a rite of passage, meaning that it is a life threshold once crossed you are forever changed. And in the busy-ness of preparing for the practicalities of having a new baby in the house we can forget how to prepare for mental wellbeing and health. This hour-long webinar was recorded as part of The Nest autumn webinar series and is available here for you to view for free.
Wellbeing in Pregnancy webinar with Talkworks
In the webinar you’ll hear Becky and Rebecca reference the booklet that was sent to all webinar participants after the call. You can access this document below, feel free to print out and fill in to help you and your pregnancy:
The Nest Southwest CIC runs a weekly pregnancy and beyond wellbeing group called Nesters. They meet every Tuesday from 7.30pm, alternating between meeting online on Zoom and in person in Exeter at The Beacon Community Centre. Nesters is supported by a facilitator and by our PPSN volunteers (perianal peer support network) who are local mums who have been trained to offer support to new mums. If you are pregnant we welcome you to come along and find out more. Booking is via our events page HERE
Here at The Nest Southwest we are getting pretty excited about our monthly planner! What do you think?
As well as our regular weekly pregnancy groups and yoga classes we are also hosting some exciting yoga workshops – one specifically for menstruation, and one specifically for menopause. So wherever you are on the spectrum of life – if you are a menstruator we’ve got something for you.
We are also launching our winter program of pregnancy, birth and parenting live webinar sessions. So, if you or someone you know is pregnant, come along and learn more as well as meeting other local people preparing for a positive birth experience in the interactive Q&A sessions.
Sunday evenings 8-9pm on zoom is our weekly Yin Yoga to unwindsession hosted by Chloe. A beautiful way to end a week and set intentions for the new one about to begin. Suitable for everyone, whether you are menstruating or not but we thought we’d put it up the top of this long list of yummy offerings!
Later in November Chloe is offering a menstruation specific yoga workshop. Whether you are trying to conceive or are interested in living more in harmony with your menstrual cycle, this yoga workshop is for you. We will explore each of the four stages of our cycle and discover how we may wish to adapt our yoga practice to suit each of the stages – enabling us to work with the fluctuations and changes our body goes through each month, rather than fighting against them. Discover why the exact same yoga practice can seem impossible some weeks, but easy others and learn more about yourself, your body and your unique cycle in this two-hour workshop. There will be time for questions and conversation, as well as guided meditation, breathwork, yang yoga, yin yoga and deep relaxation. It will be a time to tune in and embrace the wonders of the female cycle. Everyone is welcome. If you are not currently menstruating, you are able to use the same tools around the moon cycle. Beginners to yoga are also very welcome.
Yin Yoga to unwind on Sunday evening is also very nourishing is you are peri-menopausal or menopausal.
Exeter Menopause Café. Our monthly group on the first Friday is fully booked for November and bookings are now open for December. Due to it’s popularity, and by request we have decided to offer a Menopause Café in the evening on Friday 12th November! This is a launch event as we try out what it’s like to gather together in the evening with a glass of something or warm drink of choice in the beautiful surroundings of The Glorious Art House Café on Fore Street, Exeter. This is an open meeting for people of all genders to come and chat about all things perimenopause and menopause related. It is aimed at breaking down the taboo around menopause, increasing awareness of the impact of the menopause on those experiencing it, their family, friends and their colleagues, and reflecting on the ‘third stage of life’.
Essential ground rules: *Non-judgemental – people might have different views to you and that’s ok. *Respect – ourselves, each other and the space. *Open hearted – trust that everyone is doing the best they can. *You don’t have to share personal stories but you might need to be prepared to listen. *Confidential – what’s shared in the café stays in the café (except your own stories that you’re free to do what you like with of course!).
This month we are also launching a special yoga workshop specifically for the menopause transition. Join Virginia for this 2 hour ONLINE session which will include time for information sharing and discussion as well as gentle (accessible for all) Yoga movement and breath work and deep relaxation. Virginia is a former nurse and now a Yoga and Ayurveda therapist who is fully post menopausal and loving it!
Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond
Our wonderful welcoming weeklyNesters Pregnancy & Beyond groupis a place for pregnant mums and birthing people to come together and chat about all things pregnancy, birth and early parenting. It’s hosted by Jodie and runs weekly, alternating between in-person at The Beacon Centre in Exeter, and on Zoom. Once you’ve had your baby we welcome you to continue to come to the group during your ‘fourth trimester’ which is up until around the 3 month mark postnatally. All ethnicities welcome. We are LBT+ friendly. and welcome non-binary parents along with pregnant mums. We chat, drink tea and eat cake! We also have various craft activities or short talks about subjects relevant to the group.
The group is supported by the Pregnancy Peer Supporter Network, a group of volunteers who have lived experience of birthing in the pandemic` and are trained to support birthing people. They are not medically trained, and cannot give advice nor tell you what to do but offer a listening ear and can help you explore your options to find the best choice for you.
Every Wednesday evening join us for a relaxing yoga session designed around you and your baby. This is hosted by Nancy, who is a physiotherapist and a yoga teacher with a specialist interest in women’s health. As a mother herself, Nancy has first had experience at understanding the changes a women goes through on their pregnancy journey. She will guide you through techniques on grounding and connecting with baby, breathing and visualisation, gentle movement, and deep relaxation. No yoga experience or specialist equipment is necessary , just bring yourself and bump (or baby) a blanket and plenty of pillows.
And of course, Yin Yoga to unwind on Sunday evening is also very nourishing is you are pregnant or with a baby.
This Autumn The Nest is launching it’s series of pregnancy, birth and early parenting webinars to provide access to quality information about the transition to parenthood. And we are kicking it off with a wellbeing Pregnancy Webinar will be facilitated by practitioners from Talkworks who are experienced in working with perinatal mental health and wellbeing.
We know that pregnancy and the transition into parenthood can be challenging. This webinar will give you strategies to help to promote and managing wellbeing in pregnancy and beyond, including; bonding with your bump, the importance of self-care, identifying and managing negative thoughts and worry, managing relationships, improving communication and thinking ahead to parenthood. We will also give an overview of how Talkworks may be able to support you further to promote wellbeing in pregnancy and beyond.
We welcome anyone who is pregnant, has recently given birth or supporting someone else who is.
Thanks to everyone who has been a part of building our little Nest community over the past two years, it has been an honour and a pleasure to work with you and share some of your stories. We look forward to meeting more people and being part of this exciting project as it grows to support women, girls and menstruators across Devon during the transitions of menstruation, pregnancy, birth and menopause.
Our vision is to live in a world where women and girls feel empowered and fulfilled at each stage of their life. We want to be part of creating a cohesive society where these rites of passage are honoured as gateways of personal development as well as biological milestones.
Our mission is to provide emotional & educational support, improving well-being & self-esteem to enable peer mentoring and increased wellbeing. We support women and girls through menstruation, pregnancy and childbirth, to post-menopause.
We believe in intersectional feminism by promoting gender justice and racial justice. We are anti-racist and pro-trans rights. We believe in equality for all women and girls everywhere.
We offer compassionate peer support, and providing a safe, nurturing environment to explore emotional & physical literacy as we traverse these gateways. There is no right or wrong way to go through these gateways, they are as individual as we are. But we don’t have to do it alone.
Read more about us, our mission and our events on the website: thenestsw.org
Monday 18th October 2021 is a day dedicated to raising awareness about the menopause. Here at The Nest Southwest CIC we are committed to providing social, emotional and informational support about this major life transition, and we do this through our groups, yoga sessions and carefully curating a list of recommended resources.
We are an independent, grass roots, not-for profit organisation based in Devon. We are led by and for women, and non-binary menstruators. We are not sponsored but we do receive grant funding that is in alignment with our ethics and code of conduct to enable us to deliver some of our services at reduced rate or for free.
Why is it important to talk about the menopause?
If you started menstruating, you will one day pass through the menopause. This fact is something many of us simply put off thinking about until the moment comes, and while for some the menopause transition is a smooth passage for others it can be horrifically debilitating and create an overwhelming sense of loneliness. But you are not alone and talking to others in a safe and supportive space can help normalise the wide range of menopause symptoms and explore any treatment options.
Yet the world is rapidly changing and this year the topic of menopause seems to be popping up everywhere, from local radio stations to national news coverage to employer tribunals. However there is still not much support and women can feel isolated.
Introducing The Exeter Menopause Café
Following the World’s first menopause café, held in Perth, Scotland in 2017, a number of menopause cafes have been organised throughout the UK, including in some workplaces. The Nest Southwest was inspired by the simple yet profound idea to bring people together over a hot drink to talk about all things peri and menopause related, so this month we launched our very own Exeter menopause café. We gather at The Glorious Art House Café on Fore Street in Exeter. All genders are welcome to come and share stories and listen to each other.
AND in honour of World Menopause Day today we are holding an online pop-up café on zoom. Book your spot HERE
Why is this open to all genders?
Menopause does not happen in a vacuum, it can affect the whole of society because the people it affects live and work within that society. Partners often struggle to understand what is happening and have no idea what is normal and what is not. Also, people who were assigned female at birth and menstruate but don’t identify as women will also go through the menopause. This is why we open our menopause café up to people of all genders, to create an open non-judgemental, confidential space to share experiences and talk to each other about this transformative experience.
Hopes and dreams going forward…
The Exeter menopause café is just the beginning in our work around the menopause. We also offer weekly yoga classes and monthly menopause workshops online and are exploring options in 2022 to create menopause educational sessions, grief tending opportunities and weekend retreats. Our dream is to create a thriving, empowered community that supports each other, building on peer support and access to quality information.
How can people get involved?
Exeter Menopause Cafe
This is an open meeting for people of all genders to come and chat about all things perimenopause and menopause related. It is aimed at breaking down the taboo around menopause, increasing awareness of the impact of the menopause on those experiencing it, their family, friends and their colleagues, and reflecting on the ‘third stage of life’.
Online – Zoom
In Person at The Glorious Art House Café, Fore St, Exeter.
Join Virginia for this 2 hour ONLINE session which will include time for information sharing and discussion as well as gentle (accessible for all) Yoga movement and breath work and deep relaxation. Virginia is a former nurse and now a Yoga and Ayurveda therapist who is fully post menopausal and loving it!
A beautiful way to end a week and set intentions for the new one about to begin. Yin yoga is a very slow, still practice where we hold just a handful of poses for a few minutes each. It’s a great practice for calming both body and mind, letting go of stress and shifting into our rest and digest mode. Suitable for all women, whatever life stage.
Our mission is to share more about the perimenopause and menopause; to normalise this stage in a woman’s life by providing holistic access to quality information. Check out our resource section for a list of useful websites and a reading list.
In June we launched our countywide survey for women, girls and all menstruators in Devon – aiming to gather information about menstruation, pregnancy, birth and menopause experiences and how they can affect key areas of life. The survey was designed to focus on the impact of these life transitions and the access to support and advice – or lack thereof.
We received more responses than expected, (242 in total!) with so many valuable and important experiences being shared with us. It was inspiring to read the comments left by respondents and discover recurring themes throughout each section – it reminded us that although each individual’s journey through the major life transitions is unique, there are so many shared experiences which unite menstruators together.
The stigma, and lack of conversation & education around these topics contributes towards a lack of the support systems that can bring women, girls, and menstruators together, and as a result the stories and experiences of menstruators are not shared as much as they could be. Which is why so many of the survey respondents said that the one thing they wished they had known from their first bleed is that they aren’t alone.
The survey revealed gaps in information and support, especially when it came to preparation and information about the menopause and postnatal care for mothers – which, now that it has been identified, The Nest hopes to provide extra support to cover those neglected areas. We already provide a variety of groups and services for women in Devon, see our events page for more details.
And you can download the whole report HERE or keep scrolling and read below…
We want to train a team of ‘Transitioneers’ to provide menstrual health workshops for pre-teens in schools in Exeter.
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM AND WHY IS IT A PROBLEM?
Only one in five girls feels comfortable talking to their teacher about periods.and 49% have missed an entire day of school due to their periods. It’s 2021 and young people are still ashamed of their periods, they are still missing school and period poverty is still a reality for many young people here in the UK.
Menstrual health may feel like only a small part of young people’s well being but it can affect all aspects of their life. Their relationships, accessing education, our society has created a culture of silence, ignorance and shame impacting on mental health and wellbeing. Rates of self-harm and attempted suicide are alarmingly high (suicide rates of girls increased by 83% in the last 8 years).
WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?
Our inclusive education for young people of all genders wants to change this culture. Delivered by a team of approachable well informed volunteers who are able to open up the conversation build body and emotional literacy and break period taboos.
What if YOU could help empower the next generation to not be afraid of their periods, to talk about them openly, to improve their confidence, social connections and wellbeing. Helping pre-teens navigate the transition to adulthood in a positive and informed way.
In Sep 2020 UK law changed and PSHE education became statutory in secondary education, however teachers are under more stress than ever due to the covid pandemic. Adding PSHE to their already stretched workload means it can be an uncomfortable burden for both teachers and students. We want to help.
Our pilot programme aims to train 24 transitioneers focusing on the topics of: -Sustainable periods -How periods affect different people -the importance of menstrual wellbeing
Once trained up they will be supported to go into school and deliver interactive, open, unpressured workshops where all students have the opportunity to ask questions and find out more about how menstrual wellbeing can and will affect their whole lives.
Over the last few years, period poverty here in the UK has become more understood, there has been a collective raising of awareness about this topic and as a result free sanitary products are now available in all schools, however access to products is only half the solution. Taboos still exist, schools are now obligated to provide education about periods too but how do they tackle this?
MEET THE NEST TRANSITIONEER TEAM
Hazel, is one of the directors of The Nest Southwest. She is a celebrant and women’s circle facilitator regularly holding spaces for transformation. She is passionate about supporting the major life transitions from menstruation to birth to menopause as she sees these phases as having many similar qualities that can hugely benefit from the presence of social, emotional and informational support.
Chloe, has spent the last 6 years working on menstrual health programmes around the world and promoting the use of reusable sustainable period products such as menstrual cups and washable pads. In 2017, Plan International UK, commissioned her to conduct the first national research into young people and period poverty. She’s learnt the most important thing for changing societal attitudes about periods is creating the space to be inquisitive. She’s excited to work alongside the Nest to go back to her roots, sharing her knowledge and experience with the Transitioneers.
Abigail, The Nest’s social media intern. From her previous work with young people, she has witnessed the shame and uncertainty that surrounds menstruation. She is excited to be part of this project which wishes to change the narrative and empower young people.
WHAT ELSE HAS THE NEST DONE SO FAR?
The Nest already runs an established volunteer program for perinatal peer supporters, training mums who have given birth in the pandemic to support other pregnant people. In the last 12 months we have delivered over 50 sessions including a monthly menstruation awareness group. This cycle awareness focused group has supported women all over Devon, helped them find a like minded community and share menstrual wellbeing ideas.
WANT TO HELP SPREAD PERIOD POWER?
Please support us to break taboos in Exeter schools by donating to our crowdfunding campaign or donate us your time and become part of the Transitioneer volunteer team here at The Nest Southwest.
Ready to find out more about becoming an Empowerment Menstrual Educator in Exeter… CLICK HERE or fill in the form below
This week sees the exciting launch of The Nest Southwest’s Perinatal Peer Support Network (PPSN). This small but mighty group of women have lived experience of birthing in a pandemic and are being trained to support local pregnant women and birthing people. They offer a friendly, listening ear from someone who has been there, they can help you to explore your options to find the best choice for you. No medical advice, and no-one telling you what to do as you are the expert on your own life. The perinatal support network helps you understand your options and maybe what helped us might help you too. Not counsellors and not psychologists, we’re all local mums supporting local mums and birthing people. The Nest works alongside the local NHS maternity & clinical care services to offer informal, peer support over a cup of tea. 🙂
The idea for the PPSN came out of our work last year supporting pregnant women via our weekly Zoom Pregnancy Wellbeing groups. and those groups started as in March 2020 as a covid response during the first lockdown. To date we have run 51 session over the last 12 months, and the response has been amazing! Women have joined this little group, and kept coming back every week for many moths of their pregnancy, then returned with their newborn to share their birth experience and also continue the friendships with other women still pregnant. After that many women also stayed in touch with The Nest community via the linked WhatsApp chat groups. The nurturing Nest held the space. Friendships have grown. Babies have been born. Problems have been shared. Solutions have been explored. Stories have been heard.
In December 2020 The Nest ran a survey open to all women who had come along to one of our groups. We asked what they liked, what we could do differently and what they’d like to see from us next. We also ran some in-depth case studies, with surprising results.
The women we spoke to wanted to ‘give back’ to the Nest and volunteer to help other pregnant women struggling during the covid-19 pandemic as they recognised just how much the group had supported them during a difficult time. and so the Perinatal Peer Support Network was born.
The project is all about connecting women who have lived experience of giving birth in the pandemic and those who are preparing to do so. Using online spaces as well as physical ones, we aim to reach across communities and unite birthing people in their common held goal – for a safe, positive, empowered birth experience. We will work to build confidence through education, reduce stress through social connection, increase mental well-being through self-esteem, develop parenting competence and create strong, long-lasting friendships and peer support.
The Zoom group is an hour long and begins with a quick round of introductions and sharing of any issues that week. Sometimes people feel uncertain how about much they’ll have to share and the answer is only as much as you’re comfortable with. Topics can be discussed without personal details being shared if that’s more comfortable for you, but many women find the safe space and confidentially inside The Nest gives them some space to talk things through.
When we meet in person the session is an hour and a half long to give time for plenty of tea drinking! The format is the same as the zoom group: talking about current issues and exploring options but there’s also space for some simple craft activities.
Things that we’ve talked about recently include (but not limited to): iron deficiency, birth plans, placental injection, vaginal examinations in labour, positive birth company, exercise after pregnancy, shared parental leave, benefits of COVID and pregnancy.… and more!
Please share the news of the PPSN with any local pregnant people, and if you’re pregnant yourself – sign up and come along. The kettle is on and the door is open <3
Get in touch to find out more or book into a future session: