Sunday, 18 August 2019

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Labour?

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Labour? BOOK!

As discussed previously in this blog it is the fear of labour that can cause women to have painful contractions. Tokophobia is rife in the modern world with influences from friends, family and most damaging of all, the media.

In order to try and teach women how to approach labour so that they optimise their chances of it being pain free I have re-written my book with a new title. (labour being classified as the first stage of labour, while the contractions are opening the cervix to 10cm allowing the baby to descend into the birth canal) Includes new research that will help you deliver before your due date and thus avoid the dreaded induction of labour. Available NOW to download from Amazon.

All it takes is for us to believe. The truth.  xxx

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

How to best feed your new baby.

How to feed your new baby is often an overwhelming choice that leaves women feeling lost and alone. Formula cow milk for babies was developed when premature babies started surviving their early birth and needed milk to keep them going until mum's milk came in on day three after the delivery. It was meant as a stopgap measure but along the way someone realised there was a heap of money to be made by pretending that formula cow milk was a viable substitute for human milk.

Human milk, produced by mothers for hundreds of thousands of years, has been perfected until it is the ideal food for your baby. Human milk is in fact responsible for elevating us above the other mammals that we share the earth with. It does this by feeding gut bacteria special sugars that in return produce compounds that further develop the human brain to amazing levels as well as strengthening the immune system.

Formula cow milk, when fed to gut bacteria did nothing. No compounds were produced and therefore the baby brains are not being developed to required human levels. It does not tell you this on the formula cow milk packaging does it?

In fact, research has shown that giving new babies formula cow milk causes ECZEMA, ASTHMA, DIABETES, OBESITY and ALLERGIES in susceptible children. This has been known for years and yet the formula milk people do not advertise any warnings to make new mothers aware that they are putting their children at risk by feeding them cow milk.

NUT allergies in children are reaching unacceptable levels and research shows the cause is not giving human babies human milk. A survival trait in any mammal is that any food eaten by lactating mothers is filtered through their milk to the baby to ensure they will not develop an allergy to that food. If a mother therefore eats a varied healthy diet (including nuts) whilst feeding her baby she can protect them from this life threatening allergy.

Warnings are put on the side of cigarette packets to warn users that they are  at risk of getting certain diseases by using the product. Why then are formula cow milk manufacturers getting away with damaging our lovely new babies by pretending that their milk is a good thing to feet to your baby? Giving milk to human babies from another species of mammal is unnatural and dangerous.

Often women start with giving human milk to babies but do not get enough support to carry on within an NHS that is on its knees with lack of funds. However, there are local support groups available and charity organisations such as The Association of Breast Feeding Mothers (ABM), The Breastfeeding Network (BfN), La Leche League (LLL), The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) and the National Breastfeeding Helpline (0300 100 0212 available every day 09.30 to 21.30 hr.)

With the Climate Crisis finally being taken seriously we are going to need all the human fed clever people that we can get to ensure the human race does not become a victim of its own greed. In the future when all the research into human milk comes to the attention of the mass media women are going to get really mad that they have been conned into damaging their precious children by not being made aware of the risks by the formula cow people.

Perhaps instead of kicking the poor old NHS to death with claims for compensation we should be suing the formula people for damaging our children in a way that is simply not fixable. Once damaged they are damaged for good! Write to your MP and demand that formula cow milk have warnings on the packets so as to not mislead parents that this is a safe way to feed babies.

Only we can change the future. Only mothers can give the precious gift of human milk to their babies to develop them fully into the person they were always meant to be. Only women can make this choice but it has to be an informed one. Only we can save the planet by nurturing our babies as nature intended.

Are we human or are we cow fed?

Friday, 29 March 2019

Water births proved safer than land birth.

Research in Canada shows that water births are safer for mum and baby than land births.

Water Birth, Maternal and Neonatal Outcomes, Among Midwifery Clients in Alberta, Canada. 2014 - 2017.

A retrospective study by S. Jacoby RM and R.D. Wilson MD found a significant difference in the amount of perineal damage between water and dry births. Water births reduced the number of tears and also produced less severe tears such as third and fourth degree despite larger babies born to the water birth group. I have noticed this on the birth centre and put it down to the fact that warm water softens the perineum and helps it stretch for the birth.

There was also less bleeding after the birth as the placenta is detaching from the uterine wall. Plus a reduction in babies having a low APGAR score at birth (<7 at 5 minutes). Less babies were admitted to NICU after a water birth. All other criteria were too similar to determine a significant link.

So, book yourself in for a water birth. Practice one of the relaxation methods outlined in this blog. Get ready for an awesome birth. xx

Friday, 8 March 2019

Pain Free Labour for International Women's Day

Everything you really need to know about labour without really trying.
Happy International Women's' day.

Remember that pain is the body's way of warning us that something is wrong. No healthy tissue within the human body is designed to cause the sensation of pain when working under normal healthy conditions. Most labours are normal and healthy so there is no reason, other than fear, that they should become painful. Dr. Grantly Dick-Read (my hero) commented in his book, Childbirth Without Fear:
There is no physiological function in the body that gives rise to pain in the normal course of health.”
Any relaxation technique when practised regularly brings your body and mind into balance which increases energy and concentration levels. Energy levels are not being wasted, having to deal with unnecessary panic attacks throughout the day. When relaxed we have an increase in serotonin levels which make us feel well and happy, without the need to get drunk. When stress hormones are being released throughout the day they have a long term negative effect on us, we become tired and listless. Remember that in labour you can easily reach a state of utter exhaustion, if adrenalin is secreted for long periods of time. Sometimes it is not a case of being too posh to push, more a case of being much too drained.

Remember, it is vital to find a relaxation technique that appeals to your lifestyle and preferences. When you find the one that best suits you personally it can be used throughout the pregnancy so when labour begins you will not instantly go into panic mode. If you do then you can pull yourself back and start to take control by practising relaxing in a way that suits you best. Having calm people around you helps a lot. Make sure your birth partners are aware of your birth plans and are strong enough people to make it happen.
Remember to stay upright. It is very tempting to go and lie down on the nice comfy bed when you are feeling tired, but you must resist. The most dominant piece of equipment in a labour room is often the bed. When showing women into a labour room I always asked them to sit on one of the padded chairs. If I did not then they would make straight for the bed. Labour is not an illness. You don't have to lie down to labour or to give birth. In fact, lying down will make your labour painful and last a lot longer. Gravity is your friend during labour. Use her well.
Please try to stop smoking in pregnancy. I know it is hard cos I did it three times. After my third son was born I decided not to start again. When you become a mother, it is incredible just how strong a person you can be. Having a tiny baby reliant on you for everything is a life changing event. I stopped smoking because I wanted to tell my children that taking known harmful substances voluntarily into your body was not a good thing to do. Remember that there is help out there to give you the support you need to quit. Ask your GP or community midwife for advice.
Remember to ask your midwife for a blood test at around 28 weeks gestation to estimate your iron levels. A pain free labour is reliant on getting lots of oxygen to your contracting uterus. Having good iron rich blood will ensure that your uterus is not being deprived of oxygen in labour. The easiest way to take in extra iron in your diet is to eat extra fruit and vegetables in pregnancy. Anything dark has good iron in it like kiwi fruit and broccoli. These naturally also contain vitamin C, so the iron in them is automatically readily absorbed. Do not drink tea and coffee with meals as they will stop you absorbing any iron present there.
Drinking coffee in early pregnancy has been linked to an increase in spontaneous abortions. Why take the risk? Coffee is a stimulant as it contains caffeine and can become addictive. How many people do you know who simply cannot function in the morning till they have had a fix of caffeine? They are not very relaxed people. By not drinking coffee in your pregnancy you can become even better at the relaxation techniques. Remember what adrenalin, secreted after drinking caffeine drinks, does to your cervix in labour. It makes it very difficult to open. The contractions have to become stronger and stronger and eventually cause pain.
Remember not to slouch on the couch. Sitting with your back rounded for long periods of time in pregnancy will encourage your baby to adopt an OP position. Try and support your back with some cushions before spending down time on the couch. If baby does settle into an OP position then try some of the postures outlined in this book. Whilst walking try and keep your shoulders back and your head high. You will not only look good but the natural curve in your spine will discourage baby from snuggling into an OP position. In labour, contractions have to become stronger as the baby's head does not fit well in the pelvis when his back is toward your back.
Remember that most hospital staff firmly believe in painful labours and will call your contractions PAINS! You can ask them to stop. One young lady I booked for her second baby was telling me how she had got on with her first. I had previously taught her how to approach labour and she had been having pain free contractions at home. When the contractions were every 3 minutes and lasting 50 seconds she informed the hospital that she was on her way. On arrival the midwife noted her calm demeanour and apparent lack of pain and sent her home without examining her cervix or feeling her contractions. Once home she gave birth on the bathroom floor with her mum in attendance. Your midwife may not think that you are in labour if you are calm and pain free, ask for a vaginal examination before she decides to send you home.
I have lived with the knowledge that a pain free first stage of labour is achievable, for the majority of women, for more than three decades. I have tried spreading the word by telling friends and family, they were not very interested. I have become a midwife in order to teach women how to approach labour, they are too few. I have written articles for midwives magazines, they did not believe. If I had not experienced two pain free labours for myself, then maybe I would also find it difficult to believe. I am asking you to take a huge leap of faith; to try the coping strategies outlined in this book. I was so happy after my first pain free labour, I just wanted to sing and dance and spread the word. Please remember to TAKE BACK CONTROL. All it takes is to believe. The truth.
Please let me know if you use a relaxation technique (I used Progressive Muscle Relaxation for my pain free labours and there is a post in this blog to explain how to use this method) to have a more comfortable labour. We need to spread the word so that we can take back control from the medics with regards to labour. Thank you. Good luck. xxx

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Belief of painfull labours (Tokophobia)

When a thing has been done a certain way for a long time, resisting change can be a reflexive instinct, and the powerful interests of the status quo are hard to move resulting in a pandemic of tokophobia.

Hi Ann,

That's so interesting that in England nurse-midwives are called obstetric nurses. I tend to agree. The dynamics in the US are pretty strange surrounding women's rights in birth. However, homebirth is not illegal in any state, but there are a few states (not the majority by far), that prohibit home births to be attended by midwives. That is a terrible law for states to have because it leaves women vulnerable to having an unassisted birth when they would've chosen otherwise or to birth in the hospital.

If I had my way I would've become a direct entry midwife (non-nurse midwife), but the career opportunities are not as stable as if I became a nurse-midwife. CNMs are legal in every state, as opposed to CPMs.

I love your blog. I will keep it as a resource. You're so right that the importance of caring for a woman so she can remain calm and relaxed is the key to keeping her labor pain free. That's also one of the main reasons why hypnobabies works. When mom is completely relaxed she no longer interprets her birthing sensations as painful. I hope that when it is my turn to be a midwife that I will live up to all I've ever wished a midwife to be for moms and babies, so that their birth will be a wholly positive experience for everyone involved.

Thanks so much for reaching out. Be well.

From RCM, research by jean greer in Ireland re the fear of childbirth.
‘Tokophobia’ is defined as morbid fear of childbirth (Bhatia and Jhanjee, 2012), and this diagnosis has recently been endorsed within the UK as an indication for planned CS (NICE, 2011). This decision seems contrary to current trends within maternity services that focus on promoting normality in birth (Gould, 2012). However, there have been concerns for some time among midwives that the conceptualisation of fear of childbirth as a pathological process, situates the problem within the individual woman, and deflects attention from maternity care provision (Walsh, 2002).
All the women feared the pain of labour and were reassured by the availability of a 24-hour epidural service. Despite this, the majority of the women (65%) expressed hope that they could labour without an epidural, although they lacked confidence in their ability to cope and feared the pain would be too severe. Six of the primigravidas in this study (40%) had already been advised to have an epidural during labour by family or friends and all the men wanted their partner to have as much pain relief as possible during the birth: “She [her mother] said: ‘If you want my advice, you get an epidural as soon as you go into labour because you’ll never be able to cope.’ You see they all know me and know what I’m like” (W10, prim).
 Four participants (11%) identified midwife support as a resource to help them cope with birth. These were two multiparous women and partners. Recalling previous births,
they described how the midwife had reduced their fears: “...from what I could see, the midwife had everything under control and like it seemed ok... so I was pretty relaxed” (M3, third baby).
Normal birth was still very alluring for most of the women in this study. It has been reported previously that women idealise normal birth while also rejecting it as dangerous (Maier, 2010). Most women in this study (89%) aspired to a normal birth but more than half (68%) feared they would not be capable of achieving it safely without medical intervention. Gould (2012) contends that this is a consequence of the language of risk that is used when offering birthing choices to women. This perception of riskiness reduces the comprehensibility dimension for women, and increases their need for resources to help manage birth. 

‘Fear of childbirth’ and ways of coping for pregnant women and their partners during the birthing process: a salutogenic analysis

05/09/2014 - 14:15
To explore ‘fear of childbirth’ and its impact on birth choices among women and their partners in Northern Ireland.
Jean Greer BSc, RM. Anne Lazenbatt PhD, MSc, BSc. Laura Dunne PhD, BA.


British Baby Box?

Why Finnish babies sleep in cardboard boxes


For 75 years, Finland's expectant mothers have been given a box by the state. It's like a starter kit of clothes, sheets and toys that can even be used as a bed. And some say it helped Finland achieve one of the world's lowest infant mortality rates.
It's a tradition that dates back to the 1930s and it's designed to give all children in Finland, no matter what background they're from, an equal start in life.
The maternity package - a gift from the government - is available to all expectant mothers.
It contains bodysuits, a sleeping bag, outdoor gear, bathing products for the baby, as well as nappies, bedding and a small mattress.
With the mattress in the bottom, the box becomes a baby's first bed. Many children, from all social backgrounds, have their first naps within the safety of the box's four cardboard walls.

Mothers have a choice between taking the box, or a cash grant, currently set at 140 euros, but 95% opt for the box as it's worth much more.
The tradition dates back to 1938. To begin with, the scheme was only available to families on low incomes, but that changed in 1949.
"Not only was it offered to all mothers-to-be but new legislation meant in order to get the grant, or maternity box, they had to visit a doctor or municipal pre-natal clinic before their fourth month of pregnancy," says Heidi Liesivesi, who works at Kela - the Social Insurance Institution of Finland.
So the box provided mothers with what they needed to look after their baby, but it also helped steer pregnant women into the arms of the doctors and nurses of Finland's nascent welfare state.
In the 1930s Finland was a poor country and infant mortality was high - 65 out of 1,000 babies died. But the figures improved rapidly in the decades that followed.
Mika Gissler, a professor at the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki, gives several reasons for this - the maternity box and pre-natal care for all women in the 1940s, followed in the 60s by a national health insurance system and the central hospital network.

Contents of the box

  • Mattress, mattress cover, undersheet, duvet cover, blanket, sleeping bag/quilt
  • Box itself doubles as a crib
  • Snowsuit, hat, insluated mittens and booties
  • Light hooded suit and knitted overalls
  • Socks and mittens, knitted hat and balaclava
  • Bodysuits, romper suits and leggings in unisex colours and patterns
  • Hooded bath towel, nail scissors, hairbrush, toothbrush, bath thermometer, nappy cream, washcloth
  • Cloth nappy set and muslin squares
  • Picture book and teething toy
  • Bra pads, condoms
Dressing baby for the weather: Finland's official childcare advice

At 75 years old, the box is now an established part of the Finnish rite of passage towards motherhood, uniting generations of women.

Reija Klemetti, a 49-year-old from Helsinki, remembers going to the post office to collect a box for one of her six children.
"It was lovely and exciting to get it and somehow the first promise to the baby," she says. "My mum, friends and relatives were all eager to see what kind of things were inside and what colours they'd chosen for that year."
Her mother-in-law, aged 78, relied heavily on the box when she had the first of her four children in the 60s. At that point she had little idea what she would need, but it was all provided.
More recently, Klemetti's daughter Solja, aged 23, shared the sense of excitement that her mother had once experienced, when she took possession of the "first substantial thing" prior to the baby itself. She now has two young children.
"It's easy to know what year babies were born in, because the clothing in the box changes a little every year. It's nice to compare and think, 'Ah that kid was born in the same year as mine'," says Titta Vayrynen, a 35-year-old mother with two young boys.
For some families, the contents of the box would be unaffordable if they were not free of charge, though for Vayrynen, it was more a question of saving time than money.
She was working long hours when pregnant with her first child, and was glad to be spared the effort of comparing prices and going out shopping.
"There was a recent report saying that Finnish mums are the happiest in the world, and the box was one thing that came to my mind. We are very well taken care of, even now when some public services have been cut down a little," she says.
When she had her second boy, Ilmari, Vayrynen opted for the cash grant instead of the box and just re-used the clothes worn by her first, Aarni.
A boy can pass on clothes to a girl too, and vice versa, because the colours are deliberately gender-neutral.
The contents of the box have changed a good deal over the years, reflecting changing times.

The story of the maternity pack

  • 1938: Finnish Maternity Grants Act introduced - two-thirds of women giving birth that year eligible for cash grant, maternity pack or mixture of the two
  • Pack could be used as a cot as poorest homes didn't always have a clean place for baby to sleep
  • 1940s: Despite wartime shortages, scheme continued as many Finns lost homes in bombings and evacuations
  • 1942-6: Paper replaced fabric for items such as swaddling wraps and mother's bedsheet
  • 1949: Income testing removed, pack offered to all mothers in Finland - if they had prenatal health checks (1953 pack pictured above)
  • 1957: Fabrics and sewing materials completely replaced with ready-made garments
  • 1969: Disposable nappies added to the pack
  • 1970s: With more women in work, easy-to-wash stretch cotton and colourful patterns replace white non-stretch garments
  • 2006: Cloth nappies reintroduced, bottle left out to encourage breastfeeding

Authentic parenting

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Pain Free Labour

Written by Ann Bentley, Pain Free Labour

Hi, I am a midwife from Manchester England who is pashionate about giving women the best chance
possible for a lovely labour. I have experienced myself 4 labours, 2 very painful and 2 pain free. Society teaches women that labour will be painful, when they start to labour they become naturally anxious. It is this anxiety and the hormones secreted that cause changes in the body that lead to contraction pain.

The international best-seller Dean Koontz captured the essence of why we accept painful labours so easily when he wrote:

“Fear is the engine that drives the human animal. Humanity sees the world as a place of uncountable threats, and so the world becomes what humanity imagines it to be.”

In our dark dank past women were exploited. No surprise there then. They were not even allowed an education so that they could say “Hey, stop exploiting me you patriarchal society you”. We have had to fight tooth and nail for our relative freedom. The only battle that has yet to be won in the civilised world is childbirth.

Fear of childbirth has been instilled in us for hundreds of years. Doctors have made money out of us by keeping us in fear so that their services are needed to provide a medical model of care to help us birth. Early midwives were burned as witches so that women would turn to the medics in their time of need.

Modern health care follows blindly the believe in painful labours as the norm. There has been no research that I know of to support this belief. Within the UK we pride ourselves on offering evidence based practice and yet there is no evidence that uterine smooth muscle is designed to cause the sensation of pain when contracting normally. Yet we continue to believe. “The world becomes what humanity imagines it to be.”

Perhaps women want painful labours. Perhaps fear is the engine that drives the human animal. Perhaps we only feel comfortable when something we believe in comes true. Any other outcome would be too hard to accept, too big a paradigm shift for us to relate to.

Well tough. Get with the plan. Pain Free Labour has begun to seep into our belief system concerning childbirth. Midwifery led birthing centers are springing up all over the UK. Women are having pain free labours during the first stage when taught how to approach labour. Relaxation techniques are being learnt in parentcraft sessions to keep women from entering the stress/pain cycle often seen in labour.

We are being allowed to learn the truth about labour now in the UK only because the strain on the NHS from medicalised care has become too much. A calm pain free labouring woman in a pool is cheap compared to a theatre full of expensive equipment and staff. The caesarian section rate has reached an all time high. We have lost faith in our innate ability to labour naturally.

If I had not experienced this phenomena of pain free labour personally then I may well have been one of the supporters of offering elective caesarian sections for maternal choice. As a midwife I have helped countless women to have a pain free labour. As an author, I have explained in detail why uterine smooth muscle was never designed to cause the sensation of pain during a normal contraction.

So, who will join me in supporting the massive shift that we need in our belief system that will enable women to labour as nature intended; with medical support on stand by if needed? Who will be brave enough to swim against the tide and face the wrath of humanity when one of their “uncountable threats” is removed leaving them uncertain and afraid? Who will take a leap of faith in order to free women from the last of societies manacles holding us down? Who, maybe you?

Ann and Mark after a pain-free labour
About the author

Midwife from Manchester trying to change the way women approach labour today. My first labour was so horrid that I set out to find a better way to labour before I had my second. My second was wonderful and the first stage was pain free. A midwife from hell made my third very painful as I was not allowed to sit up to labour. My fourth was a home birth and once again pain free. If I can do it then anyone can. Simply follow the advice in my blog and you too can discover the secret that the medics have kept from us for the past three hundred years. The first stage of labour was never designed to cause the sensation of pain. 

Labour well. 
Ann Bentley.