Friday, 21 September 2012

Freedom For Birth...

Last night, like thousands of others around the world I attended a screening of "Freedom For Birth". I met some wonderful people with beautiful souls. It only saddens me that we met over a film that shows the truth of birth worldwide - and that that truth is that women are being denied the basic right to choose what is done with their body, being denied the right to birth where they feel safe and comfortable. Those that persevere in their desire to have a normal physiological birth are subject to accusations of child abuse or neglect, and the midwives that support them become subject to criminal charges.

Having autonomy over your own body is a basic human right. This right is often violated when it comes to women giving birth. You may think that in the UK we are lucky, we have the NHS, we have choices, that we should be grateful we have such resources and therefore use them. However, pregnancy and birth has become such a medical model that women are not aware of what their bodies are capable of, what their rights are. The freedom of information is not available to enable women to feel empowered in their ability to birth. Thus the medical model is followed and doctors are blindly trusted. Women are denied the right to birth how and where they want to because the medical profession says they "can't".

Do not get me wrong, I am more than aware that there are times when interventions and cesarean sections are life-saving actions. If a woman feels most comfortable and safest birthing in a hospital, I will support that 100%. But it has become such that pregnancy is treated as an 'illness' that must be 'cured'. In modern times we are so scared of litigation that women are being asked to sign waivers relinquishing doctors of responsibility should something happen to mother or baby in order to have the birth that they want. The whole process is led by fear.

"It's not consent if you make me too scared to say NO."

Fear stops birth in it's tracks. When the body is in a state of fear, muscles cannot work properly. The body's hormonal response to stress and fear is the release of cortisol. Cortisol inhibits the release of oxytocin - the hormone that kick starts labour and works in a positive feedback system with the body to keep labour progressing.

Women who do not have that innate confidence in their body's ability to birth, who haven't been provided with the information to understand the true process of birth, women who naively (but understandably) believe that their doctor has their best interests at heart are more easily coerced into agreeing to interventions, submitting themselves to doctors choices over where (hospital, birth centre, home), how (vaginally, surgically, in water, with/without drugs) and when (don't get me started on 'due dates') they should give birth.

There are some fantastic doctors and midwives out there who support women and empower them to make their own choices. Unfortunately, they are working in a system where funding, time management and resources are valued over a woman's right to choose.

The aim of this film is to bring awareness to the fact that women have these CHOICES. Women have these RIGHTS. You can choose what you do and do not consent you. You have the ability to do your own research before consenting to or declining any treatment you are prescribed.

This is not about dismissing the medical model, or medical professionals. As I have said there are some fantastic professionals out there. They have trained for years and have the knowledge that enables them to deliver your baby safely in the event of any complications and have been able to reduce maternal death rates dramatically. It's about understanding that there are always two sides to a story. It's about understanding that pregnancy is not an illness, it's a journey and you have the right to choose the path you take.

A woman's body was designed to give birth. Have faith in that ability and the things you can do to support it.

I am sure there will be times during my Midwifery training when I doubt myself and my ability to work 'with' the system. When I will feel ostricised and even penalised for my belief that we should be empowering women. However, as a very wise man once said:

"Be the change you wish to see in the world" - Mahatma Ghandi

For more information about the film, visit Freedom For Birth
To find out how you can help change maternity services for the better, visit AIMS

Sunday, 16 September 2012

As a Doula...

Last week I received confirmation that I had passed my Anatomy and Physiology Diploma with an A Grade :)

This means my place at Manchester University to study Midwifery has been confirmed - my dreams are coming true.

I've already started looking at one of my other courses - Holistic Pain Management.

I thirst for knowledge, and I want to help people, help women, help mothers. The Anatomy and Physiology course secured my Midwifery place and Holistic Pain Management will allow me to help mothers through their labour who desire alternatives to conventional drugs. It will help me as a Doula when that's the only optional available to me. Doulas do not provide medical advice or drugs. We provide emotional, physical and practical support. My knowledge of alternative pain relief will help me do that.

If I manage to complete this course before University, I also hope to start my Stress Management course. Modern day life has become so intense. People do not realise the effect of our body's hormone response - the "fight or flight" response of cortisol when there's no real threat. In Paleo times our body responded to the need to flee from a saber-tooth tiger - stimulating the release of glucose into your blood to fuel your muscles for running. Now, although your boss may be scary, it's unlikely you need to physically run from him/her, but your body still has the same response, and the cascade of hormone responses to long-term stress can be harmful. Especially to a mother-to-be.

I have a thirst to learn, and I'm hoping this extra knowledge will enable me to stand out to clients and potential employers. But this isn't just about me. I want to be able to provide women with the care they deserve. Pregnancy is an amazing journey of growing, loving, learning and whilst I believe it is a woman's responsibility to learn about her body, but I also think that information should be easily accessible, and unbiased.

There's no need for women to be pushed to have pain relief just because it's 'normal'. There's no need to scare a woman into having a hospital birth just because the home birth she desires is a minority decision. There's no need to tell a woman she must be induced at 41 weeks because you believe she's overdue when you haven't paid attention to her as an individual, HER body, HER cycles, what's normal and right for HER. Lift your head from the books and look at the woman standing in front of you.

Equally, I will never push a woman to go through labour with no pain relief when it all gets too much for her. I will never encourage her to give birth in a place that doesn't feel safe and comfortable to her, and I will NEVER try and tell HER body when it's time for her to give birth...

"I am a Doula because I want to empower women to believe in themselves and their innate strength as women and as mothers. NOT so I can advocate natural childbirth. But believe me, if that's what she wants, I WILL be there for her."

My job as a Doula is to be there, for YOU. Support you, encourage you, help you find the information you need to enable you to make decisions about YOUR care and YOUR body.

It's my job, and it's my passion.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

The Birth I Want...

Today's post is a guest post by Vicky Taylor, who is part of a UK Non-Profit Organisation called The Birth I Want. Their aim is to build a picture of current midwifery care across the UK, and make our voices heard about the birth that we want.

Has birth ever been so far from women-centered? How has it come to be that the mother and the baby she is carrying have so little influence over the policy that decides the type of care she receives in pregnancy and birth?

It’s not that the "powers that be" don’t realise that care needs to be more woman-centred – or at least that women want it to be. Successive governments have pledged to make it so. Yet here we are in 2012, nearly 20 years on from the seminal report Changing Childbirth which first made that promise, and what do we find? Pressures on NHS midwives creating ever more impossible situations where mothers-to-be are having to fight for the birth they want; with independent midwifery under threat because of over prescriptive legislation and fear of litigation; with a rigid and inflexible approach to implementation of policy; and with too many targets, too many protocols and funding locked into the medicalisation of childbirth. Every one of these driving women into the very outcomes they say they don’t want and driving up costs to the NHS. How can this be good for mothers, their babies and their families?

There is no one size fits all solution to birth, we are all different, every birth is different, yet policy makers all too often try to squeeze it quietly and conveniently into rigid boxes that can be managed efficiently and safely and in a uniform way. Often with the best of intentions (‘safety’) it creates an institutionalised bureaucracy of birth, an inflexible machine, with built in bureaucratic disrespect for the specific needs or wants of the mother even when the individual midwives, nurses and doctors might do it differently if they could. Increasingly this way of working as ‘cogs in a machine’ is wringing the life out of traditional midwifery. Yet it’s traditional, mum-centered midwifery that mothers are shouting out for.

Time and again surveys, studies, articles and reports have flagged up the wants and needs of women; more one to one care, a trusting relationship with their midwives, access to information, access to real choice over where they have their baby, for flexibility in approach. The evidence is clear this drives better outcomes too, at lower cost. It is even being heard (endless governments have told us it’s what they plan to do), it’s just that on the whole it’s left hanging there in space - the road to medicalised bureaucratic birth is paved with good intentions.

But change is in the air, it’s almost tangible. The debate around midwifery and birth is raging and it’s time for mums to bring together their collective voices and to stand up for the birth we want. We are the ones having the babies - we are starting to demand to be part of shaping our care.

The Birth I Want is a new campaign with its sole purpose being to bring mums bang smack into the middle of the midwifery and birth debate. Its backbone is the bountiful experience and knowledge that mums have of midwifery care and birth, capturing it and using it so that decision makers are left in no doubt as to the birth we want. Please help us reclaim birth – The Birth I Want

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Bonding with your baby...

So originally, this was meant to be a post on connection with your instincts as a mother, but whilst researching for this blog post, I realised there is something else that needs to be addressed first – bonding with your baby. I wanted to talk about responding instinctually to your baby, but what about the women who feel they have no maternal instincts? The ones who feel they really have no idea what to do with their baby? The ones who know they should be looking at their baby and feel overwhelming love but instead feel nothing but fear?

Many are too ashamed to admit these feelings. I will say one thing: IT’S OKAY. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Maternal instinct is described as “a bond between mother and child”. What “they” fail to tell you is that it isn’t always instant. It may take weeks, months or sometimes years to build that bond with your child. There are a number of things that can affect you bonding with your baby. Hormonal changes after birth can cause post-partum depression. 1 in 5 mothers suffer from post-partum depression. This is not just “baby blues”. It’s a complete depression, a feeling of helplessness, worthlessness, sometimes accompanied by hallucinations (in extreme cases), increasing anxiety. It can affect your relationship with your partner and those around and lead to you resenting your baby, further affecting your ability to bond. The expectation for mothers to bond with their baby means that those experiencing these feelings often feel too ashamed to reach out for help. If you or anyone you know experiences these symptoms, please do not feel ashamed, you are NOT a bad mother and you are NOT alone. Talk to someone and ask for help. Medications and talking therapies can help and allow you to begin to build a bond with your baby. Please see the resources at the bottom of this post for further help.

Having a baby, especially your first baby, is a big change. This can also affect your ability to bond with your baby. You’ve gone from being a successful woman in the workplace, in control of your own workload and able to cope with numerous tasks to being a mum to a baby who doesn’t instantly latch on to your breast as you thought they would, who remains unsettled no matter what you do and you feel like you aren’t doing a good job. Being a mother isn’t easy. Tiredness from interrupted sleep can cause arguments with your partner, even in the strongest of relationships. All of these changes occurring at the same time can lead to thoughts that it’s the baby’s fault, or that you’re doing everything wrong, and feelings of resentment towards your baby. Please remember that you don’t have to be a mother alone. Modern day life has changed the way we parent – and not always for the better. Humans used to live in a more tribal setting, where all the females would help each other with the care of babies and children, even breastfeeding each other’s babies if the mother had trouble with her milk supply or was absent when the child was hungry. Nowadays we are more isolated from each other, but the first few weeks and months of parenthood is when you need a “tribe”. Not just to help with your new baby, but to help with the dishes, the housework, preparing a few meals, all of which allow you to spend more time with your baby in a more relaxed state. Remember, maternal bonding isn’t always instant. It can take weeks or months to build up that bond with your baby. Spending lots of relaxed, stress free time with them can help you do this.

Another factor that can affect bonding is your birth experience. Every birth is different and there is no “right” and “wrong” way to birth. However, complications that lead to a C-Section, pre-mature births or infant complications that lead to mother and baby being separated for extended periods of time immediately following birth can interfere with the bonding process. You may have heard of Oxytocin – the “love hormone”, it is a key hormone in labour which triggers the uterus to contract and move your baby out of your body. Interaction with your baby immediately after birth – skin-to-skin contact, baby being able to smell you, hear you and touch you – further stimulates the production of oxytocin, helping you to bond with your baby. C-Sections interfere with the production of oxytocin as the baby is not born vaginally, and the time spent starting your recovery from major surgery is often time that you are separated from your baby and that post-birth contact is delayed. Just 5-10 minutes of skin-to-skin contact after birth can help with oxytocin levels and strengthen bonding with your baby. Many hospitals are now beginning to recognise the importance of this and providing there is no immediate danger to mother or baby, are doing their best to provide this. If you are separated from your baby after birth, please don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you will never be able to bond with your baby, but it may help you understand why you may be having trouble bonding with your child.

Expectations can also have an effect on you bonding with your baby. In today’s society there is a lot of information available about pregnancy, birth and babies. Although available with the best intentions, it can make some mothers feel inadequate and guilty – that they didn’t feel beautiful and glowing throughout their pregnancy (and were in fact throwing up numerous times a day), that they didn’t breathe through their contractions with ease and no pain relief, that they didn’t have a stunningly peaceful water birth or that their newborn baby didn’t instantly latch onto their breast and feed like a professional. Expectations can be one of the most influential factors for new mothers. Life doesn’t always go to plan, and things don’t always turn out the way you’d have liked them to. Some mothers may feel they have failed their baby. I implore you to do one thing: Stop comparing yourself to others. For starters, it’s never a fair comparison – you are comparing what you consider to be their strength, with what you consider to be your weakness. Secondly, everyone is different. Everyone’s body is different, everyone’s needs are different. You have incredible strength because you came through all the obstacles that you encountered, and the decisions you made in the circumstances you had, were exactly right for you and your baby at the time. It’s ok not to be the “perfect mum” and it’s ok not to be doing things the same way as the other mums around you. Be aware. Be proud of YOU and your strengths as a mother. You have brought a new life into this world, and that’s one of the most admirable things I can think of <3

Ways to help you bond with your baby:

- Touch. This physical interaction helps your baby connect with you. Try looking up baby or infant massage classes in your local area to take this interaction further.
- Eye Contact. A baby’s vision focuses at around 7-10 inches, about the distance you hold your baby to breast or bottle feed. Look into their eyes while you feed them, focus on them and talk to them.
- Sound. Your baby has been used to hearing the sound of your voice from inside your womb. Talking to your baby throughout the day, commenting on things you are doing, pointing out things you see can help you and your baby bond on a daily basis.

I hope you have found this post helpful, I would love to hear your views on it. In the meantime I’ll get back to writing about connecting with your instincts as a mother!

Love to all


Please note: Although considered and researched, my advice is not medically qualified and you should always seek advice from a professional if you have concerns.


Monday, 7 May 2012

Connection with yourself...

This post may not seem very pregnancy or birth related, but these first few posts are all related, and to me are the basic foundations. Connecting with yourself enables you to be better in tune with your mothering instincts, which in turn allows you to build a stronger connection with your child.

Are you connected with yourself? Modern life is so busy. Are you being true to you or do you mould to what others would like you to be, or what you think you should be? It’s easy to get wrapped up in the tasks and demands of everyday life – and the stress that goes with them. As time goes on, it’s easy to lose connection with YOU. Your gifts and qualities, the things you enjoy, the individualities that you can offer the world.

Taking some time out to connect with yourself is grounding. It reminds us that we are more than what we do each day and more than the roles that we have. It allows us, even for a few moments, to be the person we want to be. When you connect with yourself, you re-charge and re-focus, allowing you to then have more to give to the people you love (and that includes yourself!!).

When you connect with yourself, the things that really matter become clearer. That car that didn’t indicate at the roundabout? Not so important. You being observant and safe – be thankful for that. That piece of work you didn’t quite finish last night? You’ll have fresh ideas this morning. The time you spent catching up with your partner and their day instead – invaluable. That line of blue crayon on your kitchen table? No-one else notices. The drawing your 4 year old spent the afternoon making – it’s the most beautiful thing in your kitchen. 

You get the point.

Life is busy. Life is hard. Time is precious – invest some of it in yourself. A less stressed, more centred parent has a greater ability to meet the needs of their child(ren).

A few things you can do to take some time and connect with yourself:

- Compliment yourself Remind yourself about the qualities you admire about you.
- Make a list of what you love doing – This helps you see more clearly into you.
- Write down what you love about you – This list reminds you how special you are.
- Forgive yourself We’re all human and we make mistakes. Let the past go. Today is a new day.

- Practice Self-Love
– This is hard but the more you get to know YOU and become the genuine person inside, the easier it gets.
- Trust yourself – Have confidence in you and your abilities (This one is VERY pregnancy related. If I could say ONE thing to women in labour – this would be it.)
- Spend quality time with yourself – The most important thing you can do :) and the one we neglect most often.

It doesn’t take long to re-connect with yourself. Can you spare just 10 minutes a day? For those of you who may be interested in meditation, please check out the following link for a free course that a good friend runs on how 10 minutes of meditation a day can help you feel happier, healthier and more positive.

Take time. Connect with yourself. You are just as important as everyone else in your life ;)


Saturday, 5 May 2012


There are so many things to think about during your pregnancy, so many things to plan, to decide, to buy. What to eat, what to avoid, which tests to have, whether to have ultrasound scans, where you want to give birth, what kind of pain relief you would like, who you would like around you at the birth....Indeed if you have been trying for some time to conceive a baby there are many things to consider around conception too.; your diet, tracking your cycle, pre-natal vitamins, exercise.

I considered many topics for my first blog post – Breastfeeding, Skin-to-Skin, Cord Clamping, but my heart kept coming back to one simple thing – Connection.

You may, or may not, have a lot of professional input in your pregnancy – doctors, midwives, maybe a Doula. No matter what “the professionals” can tell you about your pregnancy, no-one knows your baby and your body better than YOU.

There are three connections I would love to discuss with you:
- Connection with your baby;
- Connection with yourself;
- Connection with your instincts as a mother.

Connection with your baby

Connecting with your baby starts when you become pregnant. Your baby awaiting birth is physically, emotionally, and spiritually connected to its mother, its source of life. It’s more than the overwhelming love you feel the first time you hear their heartbeat, the first time you feel them kick, it’s knowing that you truly feel your child, you understand them, you intuitively know their needs.

Parents are somehow expected to know what to do and when do it. That “somehow” is your instincts. Sadly, for some mothers and families that is not always the case. They are so bogged down with the “advice” and information thrown at them by everyone else, they’ve forgotten to connect with their baby and follow their instincts. 

Finding the emotional connection with your baby should be one of the most important aspects of parenting. Creating a relationship based on love, security and bonding is not only vital to the wellbeing of your child, but will aid you endlessly in your first few months of caring for your baby.

Children that are positively emotionally connected to their parents develop a positive sense of trust, a sense of self, and a feeling of security. That feeling of security leads to a calmer, peaceful baby in the first few weeks and a less stressed out Mum. It doesn’t mean your baby will never cry or be in pain, but having that connection there means baby knows Mummy loves them and will take care of them, they won’t have to cry forever. Holding them close to you, carrying them in a sling – close to your warmth and your heartbeat just as they were in the womb, helps to maintain their sense of security and connection to you.

When your baby is still in the womb, still growing, take time to develop that connection. Talk to them – evidence shows your baby can start to hear sounds as early as 16 weeks. Your voice can be soothing to your baby. Spend time with them – that may sound silly, you are carrying them around in your womb 24/7 – but take some time, put your feet up and truly focus on your child(ren), put your favourite music on and enjoy sharing some one-on-one time with your baby.

Share this time with your partner too. (S)He may not be able to feel baby inside as you can, but they can still connect – lay a hand across your tummy, talk to the baby – they can hear their voice too! Cherish this time you have to connect with your baby, and the opportunities your baby has to connect with you – a kick when they recognise your voice, or a feeling you experience when you spend some quiet time focusing on your child. 

Connection is invaluable and can have an untold effect on your child’s life …the memory of the security and love felt may well intrude upon negative acts of self-destruction as a young adult. 

Imprint your love now, and may it last forever


Friday, 4 May 2012

Coming Soon.....

I'm currently working on finishing my website at the moment and hope to have both my website, and blog, up and running in the next 2 weeks. Thanks for showing an interest already and thank you for your patience!!

Peace and Love