Interview with Milli Hill, Columnist for Telegraph Women & Founder of The Positive Birth Movement
Milli Hill is a freelance writer, a columnist for Telegraph Women, and the founder of The Positive Birth Movement, a global network of antenatal groups where women meet up and share positive stories and information about childbirth.
Her book, The Positive Birth Book, is out on March 16th. She lives in Somerset with her partner and three small children.
Read her empowering interview:
1. Describe a typical day for you?
Well, I have 3 small children so a typical day for me usually involves chaos of some form or another! The eldest two are 9 and 6 so if it’s a school day, the first hour or two are spent trying to get them to clean their teeth, searching for lost shoes or socks, and attempting to channel Mary Poppins as opposed to Miss Hannigan – never an easy task.
Then I’m left with my littlest, Albie, who is 3. If it’s a day when I have childcare or he has pre-school, I’ll spend that time at my desk, frantically trying to catch up with my work for the Positive Birth Movement, or maybe working on a commission for the Telegraph or the Guardian.
On the days we spend together, we generally tend to flit from play dates, baking, trips to the park etc, to the usual frantic hoovering and shoe rack analysis that goes with mothering a small family, and typically some Cbeebies etc while I work or make a phone call, which for some reason makes me feel more guilty than ignoring him while I clean the oven (why IS that?!).
2. What do you feel are your biggest achievements?
At the moment I’m pretty thrilled to have written a book. It’s taken me quite a lot longer than it probably should have done to realise that writing is my main talent. I wish I’d focused on it right from the start, but I’ve had a bit of a butterfly career path really, moving from a solid degree in English Lit, to drama school, to work as a creative arts therapist, to…motherhood – the latter of which I’ve found very all-consuming. I’m not sure I can list my children as ‘achievements’, as this makes them sound like just another ‘product’, which they very much aren’t! They are wonderful individuals with a mind, life, personality of their own, but I am of course very proud and constantly amazed that I grew them in my very own uterus! And of course, I’m hugely proud of the Positive Birth Movement – when I get emails from women who feel it has made a real difference to them and their birth experience, that really makes my day.
3. What’s in your handbag/ satchel?
A little microcosm of the chaos that is my life. Don’t look.
4. What are your ambitions in life?
I think my ambition is to get to a ripe old age and not feel that I’ve wasted any time – not have any regrets. To fulfil my potential, basically. I think that’s easier said than done! I also want my children to be proud of me and to be happy in their own lives, and happy in their skin. I know that I can’t totally control that but as a former therapist, I do know what a big influence parenting and childhood can have on the way a person’s life pans out and I can’t help feeling the weight of that, at times, as I think all mothers do.
That aside, I would love to write more books, and take the Positive Birth Movement forward in a way that really works for me and everyone involved in it. Wouldn’t it be great if we could really improve birth, if in twenty or forty years time women were going into labour with a midwife they knew and trusted, in a lovely dimly lit birth room, full of excitement and confidence in their bodies?! If that happens, I’ll feel chuffed to have been a small cog in that particular wheel.
5. What advice do you know now, since becoming pregnant you want to share with others?
Well actually, that is why I have completely loved writing the Positive Birth Book! Basically, whenever I see a pregnant woman, I have this terrible urge to pounce on her and basically give her a 3 hour personal TED talk. For years I’ve been holding back – but when I got to write a book, I was finally able to just let it all out: what birth is actually like, why it’s 77% pain free (true! I did the maths!), how your expectations of birth can shape your reality (which is why you should NOT watch OBEM!), how you absolutely MUST have a plan (if necessary, be Birthzilla!) and how birth is NOT pot luck (can you tell from my shouty capitals that I’m getting a little impassioned here?!), why you should not ‘go with the flow’, how you have choices and HUMAN RIGHTS in childbirth (human rights? yup!), and how you can have a brilliant birth in any location (yes, even the operating theatre, we can do SO much to improve caesarean!).
Plus loads of other stuff about everything from the microbiome to breastfeeding to orgasmic birth to whether you even need to PUSH. Yup, I have a few things to share – they are all in the book!
6. What do you wish you’d known at the start of your career you now know?
I wish I’d had more confidence in myself in my early years as an adult, and I actually wish feminism had been more of a ‘thing’ then. I love how much progress is being made at the moment in all areas for women – politics, broadcasting, body image, art, music, protest – and yes, even childbirth – it’s great! I think we thought we were liberated in the 90’s because we could sleep with who we wanted but in the excitement of that we forgot that there was a quite a lot of other areas that needed work. Or maybe that was just me!
7. Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Hopefully if I had a crystal ball I’d be surprised by my future. I don’t want my life to be predictable – so I’m open to going where it leads me, really, and as long as I have my family around me and we are all happy and healthy, I’ll take that.
8. What advice would you give a budding author?
Hone your craft and use social media. There are so many ways to promote yourself now and if you’ve got something to say, there are lots of platforms and ways you can say it! Many authors (and I am one of them) go from blog to book – although there is a lot of work involved in between those two stages! What I’ve found is that writing is like any other skill, the more you do it, the better you get. If you enjoy it, try to find your unique voice, and be disciplined about writing regularly – you will get better and you will get noticed!
9. Finally, happiness is…