Saturday, 3 December 2016

It was like looking at midwifery care from the 1950's.

The article 'Where to now?' published in the Autumn 2016 issue of Midwives Magazine was a very interesting read on how to deliver continuity of care in today's cash crippled NHS. However, the illustrations to accompany this piece were draconian and outdated to say the least. All five of the pregnant women shown were lying submissive on hospital beds. It was like looking at midwifery care from the 1950's.

The care givers are all stood over the women in positions of authority and seem to be totally disempowering them. There are some token birth balls and birth pools scattered about but none of these are actually being used. If this is a reflection of how we view women today during birth then it is a very sad picture indeed.

I gave birth to my children in the 1980's when women were just a piece of meat to be put through the system. No thought was given to our physical or psychological needs at all. It took champions like Sheila Kitsinger, god rest her beautiful soul, and Sally Inch to fight for the rights of women during all aspects of pregnancy care.

The fact that such a demoralising illustration is being presented to us in our own Midwives Magazine is very disturbing. Society as a whole treats pregnant women with distain, constantly teaching them that labour WILL BE a very painful and traumatic event to be feared. Television programmes like One Born Every Minute do a great disservice to women by editing and highlighting births that appear very disturbing in order to win the rating wars. They often show midwifery practice at its worse. The hospitals who take part in these programmes should be ashamed of themselves and have set birth emancipation back decades.

It sometimes seems to me that pregnancy and birth is the last hurdle we have to overcome in a patriarchal society that takes every opportunity to treat women as 2nd class, keeping us in our place. Showing such illustrations does not help feminist aspirations concerning birth or any other aspect of pregnancy care. Has anything in the last 30 years really changed or do we just give the same old authoritative care, only now are we being taught to do it with a smile on our face to soften the insult?

Monday, 21 November 2016

Pain Free Labour web page.

At last, after months of work the Pain Free Web Page is now live at

It contains all the most relevant posts from this blog and more to help women find what they need.

Hoping that the new web page will help to spread the word about pain free labours and change how women approach labour so that the first stage can be pain free.

Let me know what you think. Thank you.


Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Clare's Home Birth After Caesarian

 I read an interesting article in Midwifery Matters magazine by Clare Caro who jumped through all the hoops put in her way to have a home birth after a previous caesarian section (CS). She was traumatised by her first birth where she says she was in labour for 3 days which ended in an emergency CS.

Women who are in labour for such a long time have mainly adrenalin to blame. As soon as women start to have contractions they become afraid and anxious. This is because society has taught them that labour WILL be painful and pain is to be feared, hence the fear. Watching One Born Every Minute should be banned for all women as it plants the seeds of fear that sprout and grow as labour approaches. Adrenalin, the natural result of anxiety, 'sticks' to the human cervix and makes it harder to open so labour goes on and on and on.

Just like me with my second, Clare lied about her due date from her last menstrual period so that she would have extra time to go into labour before the INDUCTION word would be mentioned. She justifies this by saying “I felt slightly bad for telling a lie, but if women are being told a date that has a 7% chance of being true, then who exactly are the ones being lied to here?

Clare says that home births are a natural choice when giving birth as you feel safer in a place “free from intruders, dark, warm and quiet. A place that harks back to the cave, where for thousands of years our ancestor's would have found safety from the world outside.” She goes on to explain how as soon as she reached hospital with her first they insisted on performing a vaginal examination (VE) and how this made her feel violated as she was put under pressure to have one. All women who present to a hospital in ? Labour are expected to undergo a VE, if you do not want one then you will not be allowed onto the labour ward. Some birth centers do not perform a regular VE, they use their experience of labour to assess the contractions and watch the woman's body language to decide if someone is in labour or not. A VE is very useful information for midwives and lets us plan your labour. However, if you decline then you should not be punished for it. Also lying down in labour is very uncomfortable and may make the contractions become painful so ask the midwife to be as quick as possible as you need to be upright for a pain free labour.

Clare explains that when you are at home you can relax and feel safe so that your brain can enter a theta frequency which is the deepest level of conciousness that we can experience in a waking state. This is what relaxation techniques taught in this blog and outlined in the books strive to achieve, a level of total relaxation whilst still being awake.
Eating Miso soup in labour was a new one on me. Apparently it contains all the 9 essential amino acids, is high in Vitamin K and minerals. This is the beauty of being at home in labour, you can eat and drink what takes your fancy and move around, adopting different positions to suit your own personal labour.

Clare had her home birth with no problems at all with a midwife she knew and her own doula in attendance. Whilst pushing her baby out in her bathroom after a nice warm bath she states “There was no time for thoughts right now, I was my body not my mind.” This is how women who are totally centered on their labour feel, no one shouting PUSH at them, just going with the flow of a fast moving stream delivering your baby to you.

hot flannel (on the perineum to help it stretch) and immense contractions, and with just one of those contractions out came a head and body – slipping right into my hands, I placed the baby gently on the towels in front of me. Nick and I got to know our girl, touching her, holding her and holding onto each other. Here she was, at the end of the journey.”

See the post VBAC AT HOME? ( ) for why a home birth could be the best way to avoid a second CS. However, an interesting fact that Clare brought up was to do with how hospitals in the USA sew back together a uterine opening, they do it differently to our surgeons in the UK rendering their CS scar weaker and more likely to rupture. Do they do this on purpose so that they can keep on getting more dollars for performing section after section and to hell with what the woman wants? Would not be surprised. 

Pain Free Labour Books available from Amazon. 

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Breast Feeding - giving baby more than you thought.

Human milk has been found to contain complex sugars known as oligosaccharides with far more variety than our fellow mammals. There are to date 200 human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) identified and they are the third most abundant ingredient after lactose and fats. However, it has been discovered that babies cannot digest HMOs, so what are they for?

It is known that HMOs pass through the stomach and small intestine without being digested and are destined for the large bowel where most of our useful bacteria are. Kuhn and Gyorgy et al determined that the HMOs in human milk are there to feed microbes in your baby's gut.

The microbe who benefits most from the HMOs is Bifidobacterium longum infantis (B. infantis), often the most prolific microbe found in the guts of breast fed babies.  In repayment for being fed such a plentiful diet the B. infantis releases short-chain fatty acids, a food for gut cells. This food allows the gut cells to make proteins that act as a glue, sealing any gaps between the cells that could allow harmful microbes into the blood stream causing infection. B. infantis when fed on cow milk does not perform this service and explains why breast fed babies are so much healthier.

Research shows that breast fed babies have higher IQs. HMOs could be responsible for this. B. infantis also releases, when fed on HMOs, a nutrient named Sialic Acid. The amazingly fast brain growth that humans experience is nurtured by Sialic Acid and so it is safe to say that human milk makes your baby clever. Cow milk does nothing for a baby's immune system or brain development.

 Scientist have put HMO fed B. infantis to the test and so far they are protecting your baby from:
  • Salmonella.
  • Listeria.
  • Vibrio cholerae (cholera).
  • Campylobacter jejuni (bacterial diarrhoea).
  • Entamoeba histolytica (dysentery).
  • E. coli.
  • HIV.
Research is now being done on premature babies who can develop a fatal gut condition called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). As the name suggests, the baby's gut is being eaten away by bacteria which commonly turns the gut tissue black. Premature babies are now being fed breast milk and B. infantis to try and prevent NEC. B. infantis is no use without the HMOs proliferate in breast milk. They will not protect the baby if fed cow milk alone. Premature babies are not good at sucking but maternal milk can be pumped and kept out of the fridge for 5 hours to ensure that the ingredients are still alive when given to baby, often via a feeding tube. This new research could revolutionise how we feed early babies and put a stop to the all too common condition of NEC.

 Pain Free Labour Books available from Amazon. 

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Active Birth Pools

The benefits of using water for labour and birth are well known…

Meadow Birth Centre Venus Birth Pool

Here are the facts…
  1. Relaxing in a deep pool of warm water can be a wonderful aid in labour. It’s worth having a pool mainly for this reason.
  2. Using a birth pool helps mothers to considerably reduces the need for medical pain relief.
  3. The buoyancy of the water supports the mothers body weight allowing her to relax more easily and deeply. They can cope better with contractions and also rest more comfortably in between them.
  4. It’s easier to use upright or squatting positions and move freely from one position to another, than it is on land.
  5. Being in a birth pool gives mothers an increased feeling of privacy and security. This enhances the secretion of hormones which stimulate uterine contractions and act as natural pain killers and relaxants.
  6. Studies show that labours tend to be shorter overall when a woman enters the pool at around 5cms. dilation.
  7. Fewer women need the help of obstetric interventions.
  8. I cannot get rid of this number 8 no matter how I try.
  9. Now there is a number 9 as well!!!
  10. Thank you Keith for your lovely information on pool births.
  11. Active Birth Pools


    Pain Free Labour books available from Amazon. Yay, the numbers have gone!!! xx


Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Avoiding Induction of Labour - 2

In the last avoiding IOL post I reported on the use of date fruits, in the last 4 weeks of pregnancy, to get you into labour before your due date. Well.

Just for you I have been eating date fruits to see what they did to a non pregnant woman with some interesting results.

Our guts are made up of smooth muscle as reported previously in this blog. The uterus is also made up of the very same smooth muscle. There is only one type of smooth muscle and it all works in the same way.

So. I started eating date fruits at the rate of one a day and there was no difference that I could detect. So I moved up to two a day and have noticed a big difference in the way the smooth muscle in my gut is working extra well.

This is really good news as my guts are not known for their regularity if you know what I mean.

Therefore, I can say with confidence that eating date fruits do have an influence on smooth muscle. The research that I reported on recommended that pregnant women eat SIX date fruits a day for the last 4 weeks of their pregnancy, they had some very impressive results.

Dare I try eating THREE date fruits a day?

For you I will do anything.

Please please please let me know if the date fruits work for you and how many you had to eat.

P.S. I cut mine up into a salad or my daily porridge. Yummy. xx

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Research shows Pool Births are the Best.

Study confirms… Women who labour in water have lower rate of epidural analgesia


23 June 2016: K.D. Brainin
Randomised controlled trial of labouring in water compared with standard of augmentation for management of dystocia (cervix not opening) in first stage of labour
To evaluate the impact of labouring in water during first stage of labour on rates of epidural analgesia and operative delivery in nulliparous women with dystocia.
Design Randomised controlled trial.
Setting University teaching hospital in southern England.
Participants 99 nulliparous women with dystocia in active labour at low risk of complications.
Interventions Immersion in water or standard augmentation for dystocia (amniotomy and intravenous oxytocin).
Main outcome measures:
Primary: epidural analgesia and operative delivery rates.
Secondary: augmentation rates with amniotomy and oxytocin, length of labour, maternal and neonatal morbidity including infections, maternal pain score, and maternal satisfaction with care.
Women randomised to immersion in water had a lower rate of epidural analgesia than women allocated to augmentation (47% v 66%, relative risk 0.71 (95% confidence interval 0.49 to 1.01), number needed to treat for benefit (NNT) 5).
They showed no difference in rates of operative delivery (49% v 50%, 0.98 (0.65 to 1.47), NNT 98), but significantly fewer received augmentation (71% v 96%, 0.74 (0.59 to 0.88), NNT 4) or any form of obstetric intervention (amniotomy, oxytocin, epidural, or operative delivery) (80% v 98%, 0.81 (0.67 to 0.92), NNT 5).
Labouring in water under midwifery care may be an option for slow progress in labour, reducing the need for obstetric intervention, and offering an alternative pain management strategy.
(Extract from abstract of Randomised controlled trial of labouring in water compared with standard of augmentation for management of dystocia in first stage of labour by Elizabeth R Cluett, Ruth M Pickering, Kathryn Getliffe, Nigel James, St George Saunders published in British Journal of Midwfery January 26, 2004)

Women who receive less medical intervention generally stay in hospital for a shorter period of time.
The combination of an intervention free birth – with a short hospital stay result in a better experience for mother and baby.
Hospital staff and resources can be employed more efficiently.
Importantly – this results in significant financial savings!
A birth pool is a simple, inexpensive piece of equipment that can make a major impact on the quality of care and cost of having a baby.
The experience of hospitals who have birth pools shows that the cost of installing a pool is soon recouped by savings achieved through the reduced use medical methods of pain relief and intervention and shorter hospital stays.

Pain Free Labour Books now available from Amazon

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Avoiding Induction Of Labour

One of the main reasons that women are unable to give birth on their local birth center is that they go past their due date and face Induction Of Labour (IOL). This is usually offered when you are 10, 11 or 12 days past your date. Women undergoing IOL are not usually allowed on birth centers due to the extra risk to baby from a speeded up labour where baby may become distressed. This risk can result from the hormone pessaries used to initially soften and open your cervix or from the hormone drip that makes the contractions stronger and more frequent.

Researchers have found a very surprising way to try and avoid IOL. They recommend women start eating date fruit four weeks before their due date and have had some encouraging results.

The research was carried out at Jordan University of Science and Technology in 2008. Women were asked to eat SIX dates per day four weeks before they were due till they were in labour. They had a control group who did not eat any dates at all.

The women who ate the dates were more dilated when presenting in labour. On averate 4cm compared to 2cm. Intact membranes where more common amongst the date eaters, 83% vs 60%. As you know from reading this blog it is better for a pain free labour if your membranes remain intact untill you are ready to push.

Spontaneous labour occurred in 96% of those eating the dates compared with 79% who did not get a date. Use of the drip to speed up labour was only 28% in the date group and a very significant 47% in the control group.

Early labour was shorter in the date group and the researchers concluded that the consuption of date fruit in the last four weeks of pregnancy significantly reduced the need for IOL. So, in the interests of science I bought a bag of ready to eat dates to see what they tasted like. I liked them and am currently eating one a day to use them up. Not sure I could eat 6 a day, would have to cut them up and put them on porridge or have them with ice cream. But, what the heck, who cares what they taste like as long as they work.

Let me know how you get on. x :-Q

Ref: Al-Kuran O, Al-Mehaisen L, Bawadi H, Beitawi S, Amarin Z. (2011) The Effect of Late Pregnancy Consumption of Date Fruit on Labour and Delivery. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 31(1) page 29-31.

Pain Free Labour books now available from Amazon.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

The Peaceful Birth Project.

 Ancient Wisdom and Research Agree: Amazing Fruit Eases Labor and Prevents Postpartum Hemorrhage
 Eating dates to ease labor, oxytocyn and postpartum hemorrhage: ancient wisdom and research agree

The date fruit is the product of the date palm, a tree native to Northern Africa and the Middle East. There is a wide variety of dates including the better known Medjool and Deglet Noor. Each variety is unique in size, sweetness, flavor, and texture. Containing at least 15 minerals such as potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc, 23 types of amino acids, vitamins, carbohydrates, protein, 14 types of fatty acids, dietary fiber and a lot more, these sweet little fruits are a nutritional powerhouse. [International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 2003]

The photo is from a study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology which concludes that eating 6 dates daily during the last four weeks of pregnancy “significantly reduced the need for induction and augmentation of labor, and produced a more favorable, but non-significant, delivery outcome”.  Some significant findings:
  • Cervical dilation was significantly greater in the date-eating mamas upon arrival at the hospital
  • 83% of mothers who consumed dates had their membranes intact upon admission at the hospital 
  • 96% of the women who ate dates went into labor on their own
  • Use of Pitocin (synthetic Oxytocin) was significantly lower in women who consumed dates (28%), compared with the non-date fruit mothers (47%)
  • The latent phase of the first stage of labor was almost 7 hours shorter in the date-eating mothers compared with the non-date fruit eaters (510 min vs 906 min). Not bad for eating a few dates!

Very interesting research comparing the use of dates and Pitocin in the management of postpartum hemorrhage.  The study demonstrates a significant reduction in the amount of postpartum bleeding experienced by women who consumed date fruit compared to women who received synthetic oxytocin (Pitocin). The randomized clinical trial was done in two hospitals. Immediately after the delivery of the placenta one group was give 50 gram of dates. Another group  received 10 units of synthetic oxytocin in an intramuscular injection.  Blood loss mean in the end of first hour after delivery were significantly different in dates and oxytocin groups (104 ml vs 141.6 ml) The researchers suggest that dates are effective for management of postpartum hemorrhage because dates have Calcium, serotonin, tannin, linoleic acid, enzimes, iron and other nutrients beneficial to control bleeding and prevent anemia. Khadem, Sharaphy, Latifnejad (2007)

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Pain Free Labour for Kristyn.

Shared by Kristyn
I was 41 weeks 4 days and had, had several bouts of practice labor that never went anywhere so I was growing discouraged. Baby had certainly kept me on my toes between having to be manually turned (ecv) twice the last time being at 38 weeks as well as going so late, so I had lots of chances to practice deep meditation. The thing that helped me the most was a play list of songs who’s lyrics were very meaningful to me and my faith. When I was really worried or upset I would turn on the worship songs and close my eyes and sing even during my practice contractions. And I found that when I did it was far easier to relax and embrace them.
The reason this was important to me was the realization that contractions are there to open your cervix. If you relax through them they are not as painful and they are far more effective.
I learned this through the hypnobirthing course I took as well as the book “Ina May’s guide to childbirth” I highly recommend both in preparation for birth.
The morning of his birth I woke early with very strong waves that were coming every 4 minutes. I ate breakfast took a bath, walked around and after an hour they were still coming but this time accompanied by show, loose bowels and other symptoms that let me know this time was likely the real deal. We called everyone and began preparing the birth space. I realized that they were spacing out and again became discouraged. Around 1 pm we went in to the midwife who did a membrane sweep and we began homeopathics. They immediately started coming every 3 minutes and didn’t stop. We headed home from the birth center.
I labored for an hour before my midwife called and decided the team needed to come. I bounced on the ball and stayed upright as much as possible.
At one point my sweet husband wrapped his arms around me. I grabbed his face and kissed him. Bam fireworks. My body immediately responded by giving me strong intensely pleasurable sensations. I kissed him some more. They were definitely contractions but instead of hurting they just made me knock kneed and want to kiss him  more. My entire body buzzed. I felt madly in love and connected with him more then ever before. We did this for a good 30 minutes before the midwifes arrived and it was pure nirvana.
They checked me and I was a 7. I got in the tub and it was euphoric. I relaxed in the tub and let the warm water envelop me. I still couldn’t believe that I was actually going to meet my sweet baby boy soon.
One of my very favorite songs came on and I began singing. Soon a contraction began and it was strong. I started to tense up but then I remembered from the days before that when I sang, it became easier and so I continued to sing along and the most incredible thing happened. The pain went away, my body relaxed and I soaked in the gorgeous lyrics and beautiful melody floating across the water bringing praises to my maker. Tears of gratitude poured from my eyes and I just said thank you over and over again.

I stayed here for a couple of hours, singing through contractions, rocking back and forth, praying, and making out with my super sexy man. I was so relaxed and so grateful for this amazing day that the birth team was having a challenge determining when I was contracting.
After a while I got out of the tub and drank water, had a small snack of apples and apple juice and labored on the toilet for a while. I had loose bowels and felt the urge to poop every time I had a contraction, because of this I noticed my body tensing so when I sat on the toilet I completely relaxed and everything began intensifying. I felt him dropping, and my bag bulging. Though the contractions were more intense, as long as I sang or my husband rubbed my shoulders I could manage them well and felt them opening my cervix.
I decided to lay down for a while and asked my midwife to break my water because I felt like it would speed things up. It did. The second she broke it he moved down deep into my pelvis. The pressure was intense and I decided to move back to the tub. I was a 9 and my body was working hard to bring him into the world. I leaned against the tub and my precious midwife wrapped her arms around my shoulders.
I decided at that point that I was ready for him to be born and wasn’t scared anymore about tearing. I accepted the possibility and let go. I said out loud,
 “My cervix is fully open, He is not too big. He will fit, I won’t tear.”
And literally 2 contractions later I was pushing. 7 minutes later I was holding my beautiful son. I didn’t tear and was so relieved to finally be holding him that I cried happy tears. I wanted him to be born into a peaceful worship filled environment and I got my wish. I am still so amazed when I look back at the video and am absolutely blown away by how peaceful and pleasurable his birth was. Jorge Ryan was 8#10oz,  21 inches long and pure perfection.

Pain Free Labour books available from Amazon.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Why I believe in Pain Free Labour/Labor

I firmly believe in Pain Free Labours. Why, because 2 out of my 4 labours where pain free during the first stage, which is when the cervix is dilating to 10cm and you can push your baby out.

My first was an induction of labour at term for hypertension. My waters were broken and I was put straight onto an oxytocic drip. Today we give women 2 hours after having their waters broken to mobilise and go into a more normal labour before offering the drip, but this was in the bad old days 34 years ago. This was not a pain free labour.

My second was a spontaneous labour at T+7. I had researched more natural labours at my local library. Google was still a distant dot on the horizon 31 years ago. I found out how primitive women laboured without fear and stayed mainly upright. I found how to relax in yoga books so I would not feel afraid. I was ready. At 1am I started having painful contractions that woke me up. Sat on the couch downstairs I did progressive muscle relaxation and the pain stopped, but the painless contractions kept coming. When I got to hospital I sat on a comfy chair and relaxed till I was 10cm dilated. This was my first pain free labour.

My third was a spontaneous labour after a sweep at 39 weeks. I was having a pain free labour at home, my mum came round to mind the boys and I set off happily for hospital. Oh dear. A midwife from HELL made me lie down on a bed with a monitor in progress. When I explained that I had to sit up on a chair she laughed at me and pushed me back down. This was not a pain free labour.

My fourth was a home birth. I started contracting on and off during the day but was too busy with my 3 lovely boys to really notice. I was not afraid to give birth as I knew I was doing it at home and no one could make me lie down again. I fed, bathed and bedded the boys and then sent for the midwife. A lovely Irish midwife came to my house, she sat with me eating biscuits and drinking tea until I leapt off the couch when my waters went and wanted to push. This was my second pain free labour.

I so wanted to share this well kept secret with everyone that I then went to university to become a midwife. One senior midwife, who I told about my Pain Free Labour book, said "What is it really called, Bollocks, Bollocks and more Bollocks?"

Society teaches women that labour WILL be painful so that when they start to contract, adrenalin is secreted and messes up their labour. There is another way.

See posts on this blog:
Progressive muscle relaxation
Why labour hurts - 1 to 5
Hazards to a pain free labour 1 to 6
Evidence to support a pain free labour 1 to 3

Pain Free Labour books available from Amazon.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Colic in breast fed babies?

The cure for colic

When Oliver James's newborn son got colic, he and his wife prepared themselves for the horror of sleepless nights. Then they attended a breastfeeding clinic ...

Two weeks after our son Louis was born, three months ago, he started showing signs of colic. Just when my wife Clare and I were at our most exhausted, at around six in the evening, he would cry loudly and inconsolably for no apparent reason, his back arched and his legs doubled up. Since our daughter Olive (now three) had done the same, we were not altogether surprised. But we groaned at the prospect of months of long nights walking him around to no avail and nocturnal drives with the Pet Shop Boys Introspective album blaring. (This was the only thing guaranteed to shut our daughter up. Somebody should do a study of which popular music is most effective in quieting troubled babies - I swear by the Pets.)
To add to the grief, my wife got mastitis, which we assumed was the reason each feed felt as if she were having her nipples slashed with razor blades. The antibiotics to treat it only made our son worse, upsetting his tummy. As we lurched towards meltdown and bottle-feeding, a health visitor suggested we visit midwives Chloe Fisher and Sally Inch, said to be the international queens of breastfeeding, at their drop-in clinic at Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital.
That they could help us with the mastitis seemed plausible, but I was sceptical when Fisher told us that the colic was also to do with my wife's breastfeeding technique. I had studied the scientific literature in the past, and despite contact with dozens of health professionals over the years, and endless discussions with other parents, no one had told us that colic had anything to do with how you breastfeed.
About one-fifth of all babies get the full colic syndrome, of whom only a small minority (5-10%) have any identifiable physical cause. It's a serious problem because half of those mothers with severely colicky babies are liable to become mentally ill, falling to one-quarter if the baby is only moderately colicky (compared with 3% of mothers with none).
The ailment has baffled medical scientists seeking a biological cause. Only social, rather than medical, science seems to provide some clues. Most, if not all, babies in developed nations get some of the symptoms, yet it is rare or unknown in developing ones. A possible reason is that in the latter countries, babies are constantly held, fed effectively and on demand. Babies cry less whose mothers carry them for three hours or more, or feed on demand during the first two months.
Another reason could be the lack of social support and the hard-working, stressful lives of pregnant mothers in developed nations. A study of 1,200 mothers interviewed prenatally and when the child was three months found that a good relationship with the partner before the birth reduced colic. Seventy per cent of mothers had colicky babies if they had a lot of prenatal stress, felt isolated and anticipated needing a lot of postnatal help, compared with only 25% of babies of mothers without these problems. Prior problems with the mother's mother also predicted it. When asked during pregnancy or shortly after the birth, mothers who recalled distressing childhood memories or expected a lack of support or excessive interference from their mothers were more likely to have a colicky baby.
It came, therefore, as a great surprise to me when Fisher told us that colic in the breastfed baby is primarily due to something as simple as not attaching the baby to the breast correctly, which means that the baby is unable to "drain" the breast properly during feeds.
Arriving at the clinic on a Monday afternoon, we were met by the sight of a clutch of desperate mothers, their babies suckling for Britain. There were two pairs of twins; our frazzled minds boggled at the prospect of trying to keep them satisfied. But Fisher and Inch radiated supreme confidence that salvation was at hand, roving round the room, providing emphatic instructions.
Fisher enunciated two principles: "First, don't assume the breast is like a bottle. The milk is in the breast, not in the nipple, whereas with a bottle, the milk is in the teat. To feed effectively from the breast the baby must scoop in a deep mouthful of breast, whereas with a bottle, it can just suck on the end of the teat.
"Second, people wrongly assume the middle of the baby's mouth is halfway between the top and bottom lip. In fact, the middle is between the upper surface of the tongue and the upper palate. For the baby to draw sufficient breast tissue into its mouth, it must be able to get its tongue well away from the base of the nipple and that won't happen unless the breast is presented between the tongue and the upper palate."
If the baby did not attach properly, the midwives told us, it would not drain the breast properly and would keep compressing the nipple between the tongue and hard palate, turning it into something resembling minced lamb. Putting this into practice proved surprisingly difficult but after a bit my wife got the hang of it.
Next came the other important point: "Only switch breasts when the well-attached baby comes off the breast spontaneously and seems completely satisfied," said Fisher. "In offering the second breast, let the baby decide whether he wants it. If the mother starts each feed on alternate breasts [regardless of whether the baby has had one or two at a feed], the breasts will get roughly even use. The important thing is to allow the baby to finish the first breast first."
Failing to do this is the main cause of colic. Fisher also told us that the initial milk is low in fat and calories. If you switch breasts before the high-fat milk has been drunk, the baby will take more from the second breast than he would otherwise have done. Despite the relatively huge volume of liquid in its stomach, the baby will then be wanting another feed before long, because low-fat feeds are processed quickly, leading to a pattern of very frequent feeding. This can cause mental illness-inducing sleep-deprivation, but worst of all, it will cause colic.
Both poor attachment and breast switching result in the baby taking frequent, large-volume, low-fat feeds, which in turn lead to rapid emptying of the stomach into the large intestine. If too much gets there too fast, there is not enough of the enzyme lactase to break the sugar in the milk (lactose) down. The gut turns into a malfunctioning brewery, with fermentation of the sugar in the excess milk creating gas and explosive poos. The crying, arched back, rigid tummy and irritability of colic follow.
I was flabbergasted. If all this were really true, why on earth wasn't everyone told about it, especially considering the damage done to the mental health of parents by colic? Fisher replied that she and Dr Mike Woolridge had published the hypothesis in the leading medical journal the Lancet 17 years ago. "I was expecting that after that it would solve the problem. It seems pretty extraordinary to me that it has not."
Fisher believes she is right because she has seen thousands of mothers solve the problem by following their advice, but since the 1988 paper, her theory has been scientifically tested. A 1995 study compared two groups of 150 mothers: one asked to let the baby terminate the feed on the first breast; the other asked for the baby to feed equally from both breasts. Twice as many of the mothers who fed equally with both breasts had colicky babies (23% versus 12%). What is more, finishing the first breast first resulted in significantly less breast engorgement.
This turned out to apply to us too. Inch doubted that my wife actually had infectious mastitis or had needed antibiotics for it and easily proved her point. A few days after my wife had started taking the antibiotics, the problem had developed in the right as well as the left breast. Since infectious mastitis is a bacterial problem, and since the germs should have been killed by the antibiotics, Inch pointed out that such a transfer could not have happened if it was a bacterial pathology. Rather, the inflamed breast was due to back pressure within the ductal system of the breast, she said. Ineffective milk removal was not keeping pace with milk production so the milk could no longer be contained within the ductal system. It was forced into the connective tissue of the breast, where it gets treated as a foreign protein, with subsequent inflammation and pain.
All of which proved to be of more than academic interest to us. While we returned to the Thursday clinic for a booster course in attaching to the breast, from the first moment my wife did it properly, the pain was much less. From that very night our son was free of colic and within a week, the "mastitis" was disappearing.

This is very good news for women suffering the curse of colic who are dedicated breast feeders. I always thought breastfed babies could not get colic. Will pass thin info on to all my new mums.
Pain Free Labour books available from Amazon. 

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Untucking the Tail for Birth.

The forgotten art of untucking the tail.

This post was originally published on 7 Nov 2015 at

A tiny detail we’ve lost since the hunter-gatherer times and how to fix it
Illustration by Jillian Nicol at
I’ve been spending most of my time lately learning about biomechanics, healthy alignment and how movement affects our bodies in relation to gravity. The research from the last few years shows that the way we move affect us not only mechanically, as it was previously thought, but also causing biochemical changes on cellular level, changing us from inside out. This process of the body adapting to and being shaped by movement is called mechanotransduction.
We seem to be living in the world that encourages sitting with the tail tucked under.
The furniture we use sitting all day is optimised for comfort and convenience, but usually not ergonomically adapted for pelvic floor health. Who would even think about that?
There is a well spread myth in our society that pelvic floor issues are a normal consequence of pregnancy and birth, or ageing for men. But we would rarely think of looking for a cause a bit deeper, in the way we have been living and moving before that.
Did you know that the anatomic function of our remnant of a tail is, amongst others, to control opening and closing of the pelvic outlet. If you look at a dog, or a another tailed animal, you can see that they keep their tail up, happily wagging when they are in a good mood. And this is the default. When you see a dog wearing his tail down between his back legs, it is usually a sign that the dog is on the fight of flight mode and his pelvic floor is tense as a part of his whole body reacting to danger.
Even though we now have only the beginning of what was once a real mammalian tail, it behaves the same. Untucking the tailbone opens the pelvic outlet, tucking it closes it — tightening the pelvic floor. The dog with his tail down between his legs is an equivalent of you sitting on your sacrum, the back supported by a chair or a couch. If you spend multiple hours a day in this position, your pelvic floor doesn’t really have a chance to release and allow the muscle fibres to regain their natural length at resting state. So gradually it shortens.
In his book Pelvic Power, Eric Franklin compares natural movement of the pelvic floor to a kite. As you stand up the pelvic floor slightly lifts and narrows similarly to a kite picking the wind and taking off. Reversely, as you sit down (with untucked tail, using your sitbones) the pelvic floor widens and releases to its full length, like a kite descending down, opening and landing. But what if we never allow it to release?
Tight muscle does NOT equal a strong muscle.
Biomechanicist Katy Bowman compares an optimally functioning pelvic floor to a trampoline. It supports the weight of all our pelvic organs and allows any extra load to just bounce off its healthy, elastic fibres, tensing and releasing naturally. Keeping the muscles short all the time doesn’t let them perform their function optimally. And further on, as our bodies naturally adapt to the way we use them, we gradually end up with shortened muscles.
This is further exacerbated by using pelvic floor exercises (‘Kegels’) on ‘the more the better’ basis — Bowman explains. Doing more and more repetitions of contractions of the muscle isolated from the rest of the body without allowing it to ever fully release, you get a muscle that is tight and locked short. Tight muscle does NOT equal a strong muscle. A strong muscle is able to both fully contract and fully release.
So why I am telling you all this now? Reading Katy Bowman’s last book — Move Your DNA, I’ve started to incorporate more movement into my life other than and independently from exercising. And especially, I’ve started to squat more, when playing with my toddler, picking things off the floor and even going to the toilet.
Learning to untuck my tail has made me finally realise why I still had to push my baby out and not bear it gently down, letting the gravity do the job, in spite of all the birth preparations and beautiful relaxation techniques I mastered beforehand.
To “breathe the baby out” you have to first untuck your tail.
Anatomically, in order for the baby to come out the pelvic floor has to release, but you can’t possibly release the pelvic floor with the tailbone tucked under. You can only use the strength of your muscles (transverse abdominals and diaphragm as they instruct you to hold your breath and “puuuuussssh!”) against your pelvic floor. And that’s a sure way to end up with a nice tear and possibly a pelvic floor disfunction. I was lucky that the athletic challenge, how my birth experience felt to be honest, ended without any serious damage. My body just took over at the last moment and following a very primal instinct jumped on a dining chair opening the pelvic outlet fully. The squats and kneeling with rounded back would have probably taken me to an assisted delivery.
“Modern birthing science has placed a large burden on secreted hormones (like relaxin) to prepare the body for needed mobility.” Katy Bowman says. Yes, hormon relaxine is useful in letting the body open up for the birth, but it’s not enough, unless we have strong muscles that can fully contract, but also fully release. But then, strong isolated muscles are not enough either. In order to have smooth births we ned to have a whole-body endurance. A great way to develop endurance is to walk as much as you can. “The woman who wants to go about a birthing process naturally can follow the lead other “natural” processes women have been doing for millennia — walking 5–6 total miles per day, and squatting to bathroom multiple times daily.” — she adds.
So, the bottom line is: get off your tail and sit on your sit bones instead, walk more, squat more, move more. It’s all about really using the body. Reintroducing a variety of movement we can strengthen the muscles of the pelvic girdle and release our tail once again, allowing it to respond freely to the demands of natural movement. And this can make a big difference for our pelvic floor health and the general level of our wellbeing.

Even more reason to keep off the bed during labour and birth? Not sure about "squatting to bathroom" though, sounds messy.
Pain Free Labour books available from Amazon.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Your first labour does not have to be long and hard.

Women need to find their own way of coping in labour. For some it will be to use relaxation techniques like hypnobirting, bake a batch of cup cakes, or for one lovely young lady I know it was walking round and round in a circle! 
12 February 20:00
"Hi Ann! Thank you very much! I can't believe how quick it all was!
I woke up at 1.45 in the morn Srom'd (her waters went)  started getting tightenings at 2. They were every 2 mins from the word go so I went downstairs and thought I'll start timing them. I was just walking around in a circle focusing on going round and round! By 3 I thought these are pretty strong now, woke hubby up. Needed to wash my hair thought I cant go into hospital without doing that so managed to have a shower between the contractions! By half 3 I rang MAU (Midwifery Assessment Unit) and said I think I'm going to have to come in. Got into hospital for just after 4 (put the hypnobirthing music on in the car on the way!) Was examined and said I was fully dilated! I said are you sure can u recheck?! I was shocked despite the pressure I had with every contraction i still thought no way could I come in fully dilated with my first baby!
Went to the birth centre got in the pool had some gas & air just to use as the contraction built up before I pushed then had him at 5.56 in the pool! It was amazing my perfect labour I couldn't have asked for anything more!"

Your first labour does not have to be long and hard. Distraction techniques like walking have been used for centuries to take women's minds off their labour. When women center totally on their contractions they start to panic and then adrenalin, released due to any kind of anxiety,  'sticks' to the cervix and makes it harder to open. Whatever coping technique you choose be confident in your ability to birth your baby, we are women, we are built to give birth and when we take charge during our labours we can have the birth of our dreams.

Pain Free Labour books available on Amazon.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Increasing breastfeeding worldwide could prevent over 800,000 child deaths and 20,000 deaths from breast cancer every year.

January 29, 2016
The Lancet
Just 1 in 5 children in high-income countries are breastfed to 12 months, whilst only 1 in 3 children in low and middle-income countries are exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months. As a result, millions of children are failing to receive the full benefits provided by breastfeeding. The findings come from the largest and most detailed analysis to quantify levels, trends, and benefits of breastfeeding around the world. 
Then why are women still not getting the message?
 Although breastfeeding is one of the most effective preventive health measures for children and mothers regardless of where they live, it has been overlooked as a critical need for the health of the population.

"There is a widespread misconception that the benefits of breastfeeding only relate to poor countries. Nothing could be further from the truth," says Series author Professor Cesar Victora from the Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil. "Our work for this Series clearly shows that breastfeeding saves lives and money in all countries, rich and poor alike. Therefore, the importance of tackling the issue globally is greater than ever."

Breastfeeding not only has multiple health benefits for children and mothers, but it also has dramatic effects on life expectancy. For example, in high-income countries breastfeeding reduces the risk of sudden infant deaths by more than a third, while in low-and middle-income countries about half of all diarrhoea episodes and a third of respiratory infections could be avoided by breastfeeding. It also increases intelligence, and might protect against obesity and diabetes in later life. For mothers, longer-duration breastfeeding reduces the risks of breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

Furthermore, the authors calculate that boosting breastfeeding rates for infants below 6 months of age to 45% in the UK would cut treatment costs of common childhood illnesses (eg,  pneumonia, diarrhoea, and asthma) and save health care systems at least 29.5 million in the UK.

Yet, worldwide rates of breastfeeding are low, particularly in high-income countries. For example, the UK (<1%), Ireland (2%), and Denmark (3%) have some of the lowest rates of breastfeeding at 12 months in the world. "Breastfeeding is one of the few positive health behaviours that is more common in poor than richer countries, and within poor countries, is more frequent among poor mothers. The stark reality is that in the absence of breastfeeding, the rich-poor gap in child survival would be even wider. Our findings should reassure policymakers that a rapid return on investment is realistic and feasible, and won't need a generation to be realised."

Persistent underinvestment in protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding by governments and international funders has exacerbated the issue. Social media do not portray breastfeeding women in a positive light. It was banned on FB to show a BF woman as you could see some of her breast! OMG.

Powerful political commitment and financial investment is needed to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding at all levels -- family, community, workplace, and government, say the authors. Additionally, more needs to be done to regulate the multi-billion dollar breastmilk-substitute industry which undermines breastfeeding as the best feeding practice in early life. The authors point out that the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes could be an effective mechanism if adequate investment is made to ensure its implementation and accountability across all countries.

Global sales of milk formula (including infant formula and follow-on milks) have increased from a value of about US$2 billion in 1987 to about US$40 billion in 2014...Political commitment, investment, and effective international, national, and local leadership are needed to end promotion of products that compete with breastfeeding."

Ask your Community Midwife for help and advice about breastfeeding your baby before you decide. There is lots of help and support out there when you have had your baby, just ask.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

"No way am I trying this natural!" How Hypnobirthing can make your birth beautiful.

I went into this pregnancy not knowing how I wanted to give birth. At first, I said, “No way am I trying this natural! Why would I do that?” Then after doing lots of research and learning about all of the benefits I decided it was the only way to go. Moving forward I had heard about Hypnobirthing. “Whaaaaaaaaat? That’s weird, right?”

I was referred by a friend to Julie Byers and her 6 week Hypnobabies class. I also went into this class not knowing what to really expect. I already love to meditate and thought it may be the same thing. It was the BEST decision I ever made! I began the class very unsure and insecure about pregnancy and birthing period. It was the most informative, educational, supportive, and uplifting class that gave me confidence and my own voice about MY birth! The techniques I’ve learned through this class made me realize, I can do this! I wanted an all natural waterbirth.

My guess date was September 7th. On September 1st I thought maybe I would try this “midwives cocktail” out that I had heard about from a friend who said that she drank it and was in full blown labor within 3 hours. (1 cup apricot juice, 1 cup champagne, 2 tbsp almond butter, 2 tbsp caster oil). I was teeter tottering with the idea but actually decided I would wait because this baby knows when to be born. At 11:30pm that night, I lie down to go to sleep and *POP* I hear, and feel, what felt like a tiny water balloon in the top right side of my uterus. “Was that what I think it was???” Sure enough, a few seconds later, I felt the small gush. It was definitely my bags of water. “Now what?!” Do I call the midwives? Do I call my doula? I did both. They both told me to chill out, get some rest and just wait because I would need the energy for when my pressure waves begin.

I slept maybe 4 hours that night. I woke up in the morning and still no pressure waves. I went to work. YES, I WENT TO WORK! Just for a few hours…. Around 2:00 pm I called the midwife on call and she said to go ahead and drink the “midwife cocktail” to try and induce, otherwise, I would have to come in and start a pitocin drip which was the opposite of my birthing plan! After drinking the midwife cocktail, I sit and wait… around 4:30pm I get a call from the midwife and she says to come in so they can confirm that my water had actually broken and see how much amniotic fluid I was losing.

As soon as I get in the car, I feel my first pressure wave! “Yay!!” At this point, I know it’s GO TIME! I get to the hospital, get admitted. At this point, if I was not dilating, they were going to start the pitocin. At 5:00pm Susan, the midwife checks me. I am dilated at 2cm and changed to 4cm literally in her hand. The pressure waves were coming longer, stronger and closer together! I called my doula and had her come to meet me! It was time to use my Hypnobabies techniques. I turned the lights down, tried to relax and hum my way through each one. I used the birthing ball, many different positions, walking, and a hot shower (my favorite) to labor. It was peaceful.
Around 10:00 pm, during a pressure wave, I felt the urge to throw up! To me, I’m thinking, “okay, power and purge, this is normal right?” As soon as that happens, my doula runs and grabs Susan and we get my beautiful wife on video chat! (She is overseas for work) Apparently this means I’m going into the transition period of labor! Susan comes in and checks me again and I’m 9cm! Time to grab the water birthing tub and fill it up!
Once the tub is filled, I hop in quick! Oh it felt sooooooo amazing! It relieved most of the pressure I was feeling! I began pushing and about 5 minutes later I could feel her head with my hands. It was the most beautiful experience I have ever been through. I only pushed for about 10 minutes and my baby girl, Venice Aliana Marie was born at 11:53pm on September 2nd. She was 7lbs, and 19.5 inches long. Just perfect!
I had an amazing pregnancy the entire time and my birth was even better! I am all about putting out the positive things you want in life and not listening to anyone’s negativity! I hope that my birth story can inspire at least one person!

Lovely. Not sure why she did not get in the pool sooner and labour in there. Have seen it aid the relaxation techniques used in Hypnobirthing loads of times. 

Pain Free Labour books available from Amazon.