Just had a wonderful weekend training some amazing post-natal doulas. Every pregnant woman deserves a doula for pregnancy, labour, birth and most importantly once she has become a mother. A post-natal doula is not going to come in and tell you ‘how to’ or ‘when to’, because they know that a new Mum has all the skills she needs to be a fantastic mother. She will support you and empower you to tune in and connect to your new little person’s strange new environment. Understanding what your baby is seeing, hearing and feeling makes for a smooth transition from womb to outside. I encourage all family and friends to consider the precious gift of a post-natal doula. A truly caring gift.
New ‘laws’ from the Church of England now require a woman to ‘submit’ to her husband in the marriage vows! A definition of the word – ” to yield oneself to the authority or control of another”. I’m just trying to understand how this might work in pregnancy, labour and birth? She wants a homebirth, he wants her to have an elective caesarean section – does she submit? He wants her to have an ultrasound every month, she only wants one! – does she submit? He wants her to be induced, to fit in around the footy final – she wants to let nature take its course – does she submit? Imagine, they are at home in labour, where she wants to stay for as long as possible but he wants to take her to hospital now – does she submit? He wants a doctor to attend, she wants a midwife – does she submit? He wants her to have an epidural, she does not – should she submit? He wants her to be quiet but she cannot help make those deep gutteral groans – does she submit? He wants her to do as the staff instruct, but she wants to listen to her body and her baby – does she submit? He wants the lights on, she wants them off – does she submit? He wants his choice of music, she doesn’t want any music – doesod she submit? He wants her to push quickly and hurry it up, as the footy final is about to start and she wants to ease baby out quietly and calmly – does she submit? Baby born – he wants baby to have formula, she wants to breastfeed – does she submit? He wants her body back to normal a.s.a.p. and wants sex 4 days after baby is born – does she submit? He wants the baby circumcised, she does not – does she submit? He wants the baby to be fully vaccinated, she does not – does she submit? I could go on, and on. It is challenging enough to encourage couples to carefully consider and discuss all their options from the beginning of pregnancy, through labour, birth and parenting. Where does this ‘submit’ begin and end in a relationship. Has feminisim died? Would love to hear your thoughts.
Why is it that so many women rely on information from their family, friends and work colleagues about their choices for birth? I know of a 26yr old who is pregnant, who joined a private health fund 4 yrs. ago so she could have maximum benefits when she became pregnant. I do a lot of early consultations, walking couples through the medical maze that surrounds pregnancy and birth, so they are very clear about their options for caregiver, place to birth, pre-natal course, and doula. They find the information invaluable, and so this girl’s Mum, offered a consult as a gift. She declined, based on the fact that they have already paid a lot of money to the health fund, and now to an obstetrician (only met 1!) and have been told they are buying the best! This is such a common story. This uneducated decision making, which we know, inevitably leads to a cascade of medical interventions, just because they have been ill-informed and not understood their options. To understand that birth is a normal event, and does not need to be an expensive medical event, is to know that you are making these choices on behalf of your baby. Do not underestimate the importance of shopping around for all of the above. The Birth Right and Doulas book offers some amazing inside information about ‘how to shop around’, or book a consult.
I have found myself conducting a small study into the birth statistics of car salesmen! I spend a lot of my normal life, de-briefing, temporarily, women who have had traumatic birth experiences. I’m talking about the social situation, and following on from that opening line of “what do you do”? When women, in particular, find out what I do, I tend to get the long version of the birth story – which is O.K. So, currently looking at buying a new car – yuk! what a process! and of course there is a lot of ‘hanging around’ and negotiating. Once again, I have had each car salesman recount, in graphic detail, the birth story of their children. Now whilst I do appreciate that this is a small sample, but, currently there is a 100% caesarean rate among car salesman. It made me think that maybe the power of the sales pitch from one salesman (obstetrician) to another salesman (car) has a greater impact, as there is a mutual understanding? Each story has run along similar lines – pelvis too small, woman very tired in labour, and discovering that baby is too big, after 4 hrs. of labour and only got to 8cms.! The really sad thing is that they all believe this was the only way! OMG and all I want to do is buy a bloody car! I’m exhausted, and not looking forward to my next interview.
Do you really know who you are? What is your relationship with your baby in utero? Have you thought about your birth and how you will parent? Do you understand the needs of your unborn and newborn baby? If you want to explore these and many other questions then enrol in the Hypnobirthing program, and enjoy a new connection with yourself and your baby. The program will teach you life skills about how the mind works and invaluable techniques for enjoying pregnancy, labour, birth and parenting. To be present and support a birth where Mum is connected with her baby, working with her baby, to birth in a calm, quiet way, is a joy to behold. These babies are born looking, relaxed and so alert. What a great start in life. Don’t miss out, book today.
No wonder women are fearful of birth. There are so many negative references to birthing, in the media. Latest one I noticed was an add for hair loss in women. Apparently hair loss can be caused by stressful and traumatic events such as childbirth! Who writes this stuff? Isn’t there anyone around who can point out that childbirth is not, has never been and should not be referred to as a stressful and traumatic event. The traumatic event, lies in the battle for women to surround themselves with positive and joyous references to birth and to trust their beautiful birthing bodies.
I want to share with you a story of a challenging birth I have just supported. She very much wanted a normal birth, preferably a waterbirth, but had chosen a private obstetrician and private hospital. She had practised hypnosis for birth, attended acupuncturist, naturopath, pre-natal yoga, homeopathy, to enhance her chance of a normal birth. At 42wks. she went into labour, following the dreaded membrane sweep by the obstetrician. From the beginning it did not look like normal labour, with strong and very short, frequent surges (contractions). She demanded an epidural immediately. Her partner became very angry at her decision. He left. Disappeared for about 4 hrs. and uncontactable. She depended on her doula, even more. After many hours, with much intervention, she had a successful caesarean section, with a baby who was presenting in a very awkward position. Her partner was still angry, but present, as best he could be. I supported her choice to have an epidural, followed by the ensuing medical intervention, including the caesarean. It was the best and only choice for her and her baby. She said, many times, that her partner was always much more committed to a normal birth than was she. It raises many questions when men have a very different view and how these women can feel totally disempowered and intimidated by their partners wishes for their baby to experience a normal birth, with no drugs or other intervention. As her doula, I was able to advocate for her choices, bring them together as a couple, encourage Dad to support and nurture their very unwell baby at birth, negotiate with the obstetrician, anaesthetist, midwives and operating theatre staff. Every birth is different, and I can only hope that ‘Doula Power’ made a difference in the mother-father-baby connection.
Whilst we all have to respect the Victorian Coroner – recent case investigating deaths of babies, I am concerned when someone as high profile as he is, puts out a blanket statement that co-sleeping is dangerous and should never be done – that is certainly the media interpretation! Co-sleeping with a newborn baby/child is safe, if parent’s follow the SIDS guidelines, and have a SIDS friendly sleeping environment, which is basic common sense. There is just so much confusing information for new parents today. For those Mum’s who have been in tune with their baby during pregnancy, labour and birth, she should be encouraged to trust her instincts as to the best place for her to continue bonding. There are so many advantages in sleeping safely with your baby, including better quality sleep for Mum and baby, breastfeeding made easier, but most importantly, it provides a gentle and wonderful transition from womb to the ‘real world’. So don’t give up, just follow the SIDS guidelines and trust your instincts.
Amazing research which the media have embraced today – ‘there are advantages to singing a lullaby to your baby’ – who would have thought!! Revolutionary – NO, New – NO! Interesting listening to the media discussion about how few women have time to sing to their baby and find it much easier to play the CD, click on itunes etc. I saw a new Mum recently with her 48hr old baby, in the basinette with her smartphone perched next to baby’s brain, playing a ‘tune’. She assured me it made baby sleep beautifully. This is not rocket science and whilst we all know and embrace the benefits of smart phones etc., there is a time and place to introduce technology to a child. All new Mum’s just get back to basics and follow your instincts. What your baby loves most is to hear your voice, singing and soothing, along with the touch, rocking, smiling that automatically goes with the soothing sounds of your voice. This is guaranteed to settle your baby much more successfully than using technology. You are making a very important imprint of deep love in a safe and reassuring way, so ditch the gadgets and follow your instincts.
Pre-Natal Education is vital. It does depend on where, when and with whom! Shopping around for the best education is important. So many women are pushed through into the hospital classes, without any discussion about other options. Choosing private pre-natal education will give unbiased information and free discussion about all topics. Having been a Childbirth Educator in the hospital system for many years, I know how restricted the information is. The hospital hierarchy, especially Obstetricians have a huge influence on what and how information should be presented. Working in a private hospital I was instructed to teach couples the benefits of epidurals and caesarean sections because “That’s What Women Want” (according to a group of MALE Obstetricians and Anaesthetists!). I won’t go into how that conversation progressed?? BUT choosing wisely by shopping around for a good childbirth educator (I have a list of questions you should ask in both my books), will ensure you have good knowledge, which is the only way to be empowered. I met a couple last night who believed they did not need any education as it was all so natural. They changed from a homebirth midwife at the last minute and booked into a hospital. She had a very long labour, failed ventouse, failed forceps (medical language!) and a forcep/caesarean birth. The baby looks so bruised and battered. He has the most swollen, bruised lips I have ever seen on a newborn. He is irritable and not feeding. The Mum is very angry, confused and does not understand why it ended this way. It will take her a long time to heal, physically and emotionally. Remember you don’t need to be taught HOW to birth, you just need to learn ABOUT birth. This important difference in education is what causes confusion, so when shopping around, find out the educator’s philosophy, which should follow the previous line. As women, we certainly do know how to birth, but it is so essential to learn about birth and the system.
Surprise! Surprise! More women coming out and proudly announcing they are breastfeeding ‘older’ children. The media commentary on this is really quite extraordinary. This is not anything to do with a sexual relationship. A woman is feeding her baby and giving him the absolute best start in life. It would be interesting to interview those in the media who are so repulsed by this. In many other countries it is frowned upon if a woman is not breastfeeding her toddler. Hold your head high and be proud all you beautiful breastfeeding women!
I supported a woman a couple of days ago who had a very long labour. We started at home, she spent lots of time in water, transferred to a Birth Centre, and after about 10hrs. was almost fully dilated, which was welcome news. Unfortunately baby was very ‘stuck’ and was not able to move down the birth path as easily as is usual. A wise decision was made to transfer to the Delivery Suite. Some 4 hrs. later, still no further downward movement from baby. She was very upset, but remained brave, strong, and even maintained a sense of humour. The attitude of the midwives left a lot to be desired. One very, very, young midwife sat on the edge of the bed and told her that it really, really hurts to have a baby and she should expect to have a lot of pain! and that her baby was ‘distressed’. Amazingly this woman had the strength to inform the midwife that she was absolutely O.K. and her baby also was O.K. and was NOT distressed. She was right, of course, and I felt very proud that this once fearful woman, had learned throughout her pregnancy, by doing HypnoBirthing and having a doula, to now come full circle and feel so empowered – especially at this stage. She did have a caesarean section – one of the few that is actually ‘needed’, and her and baby are doing well.
Breastfeeding a 3yr old on the front cover of Time Magazine has created a media storm! Unbelievable amount of ignorance and misinformation has been uttered from, in particular, women in the media. One young TV media mother announced she found the photograph ‘extremely uncomfortable’, another stated it was ‘sexualising breastfeeding’, and yet another thought it would create an unstable and insecure child.
There are many countries around the world where breastfeeding toddlers is very much the norm. A message to the media – if you do not understand a ‘topic’, then don’t offer an opinion. Find someone who has expert knowledge about breastfeeding, and can explain, simply, why women do breastfeed their toddlers. Of course the benefits are huge, for both mother and baby. Let’s not criticise our mothers.
As a society we should be very proud that these women are giving their baby the best start in life. It’s a well documented guarantee that the longer a child breastfeeds the better his immune system and the less likely he is to grow up and be a drain (literally) on our health system. If, as a community, we can’t offer our women positive encouragement and support then PLEASE leave our mothers alone. I still feel enormously proud of my breastfeeding efforts, having breasfed my second son for 3yrs. He is now a 28yr old, very healthy, happy young man, who has never needed to go to a GP!
Pregnant women should be able to trust, absolutley their caregiver and the information/education they provide. But they cannot. Our hospital system for birthing women, is indeed, a broken system, with many who work in it, out of touch with reality. The problem with many staff is they become institutionalised, often out of necessity as they must follow the ever increasing policies and protocols. They certainly don’t have the capacity or the will to think outside the square. I observed a young woman who came into a hospital to give birth to her 3rd baby. As she leaned over the bed and quietly experienced a surge (contraction), the midwife asked could she rate her pain level on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the “most severe”). Midwife told her it looked like an 8!! So, of course, the woman, who seemed confused by the question, reluctantly agreed with the midwife. There was no reassurance or positive support or even a congratulations offered. No smile, no understanding, no support for Dad. The midwife managed to totally disempower this birthing woman with one sentence. The midwife was ‘in charge’, not the woman. The very sad thing about this story is that the midwife actually believed she was very experienced and was doing a good job. The lack of knowledge and understanding of a birthing woman’s needs was glaringly obvious and certainly has a negative impact on how a woman labours and gives birth. To avoid this – please employ a doula!
Dealing with family and friends when you’re pregnant can be a challenge. Everyone has an opinion. You have the familty who insist on you booking into a private obstetrician and private hospital, because, they feel strangely relieved that everything will be O.K. because you now have the best care! Really? Then you have the family member who pushes you to go to their doctor because they were ‘lovely’ or worse still ‘divine’! It seems to be that many families pass on fairly horrific details about various births and how excruciating painful it is. This results in a huge increase of the fear and anxiety that a pregnant woman already has, from the media, magazines, TV etc. and other well meaning friends and work colleagues. So how do you deal with this? Ideally start at the beginning, after you have done your research and shopped around and chosen an appropriate model of care, caregiver, place to birth, pre-natal course and doula. Then at the same time you are announcing the joyful news to loved ones, simply and proudly tell them what you have chosen, that this is an informed choice that you have made on behalf of you and your baby and you look forward to all their support. Remember, pregnant women, NEVER hand over your power, not to anyone. So, don’t ever, invite anyone’s opinion. Given the right information a pregnant woman will always choose what is right for her and her baby.
DOULAS – WHY EVERY PREGNANT WOMAN DESERVES ONE. My new book has received some great publicity. I hope you have all seen the latest TV interview on Channel 10, The Circle on Tues. 3rd April. It was a good interview with the panel showing genuine interest in the benefits of having a doula. I am determined to change the general views about birthing being painful and something which has to be endured. My message is not just about doulas but about birth as a normal, life changing event in a woman’s life. One that, given she makes the right choices for her and her baby, is a beautiful, rewarding and deeply empowering experience. It is important how we birth our babies. To all you beautiful pregnant women – NEVER HAND OVER YOUR POWER – get yourself a doula. Happy Easter to all.
What has happened to ‘offering’ testing during pregnancy? A client of mine, 28wks. pregnant, went for her routine hospital visit. We had discussed, just last night, about the GTT (glucose tolerance test). She had no risk factors and decided she would decline the test. It appears she was bullied into it. The midwife told her she “had to have it” and today was the only time they could do it. Liz (not her real name) told me it became all too hard to have an argument and so to keep the peace she swallowed the awful sugar drink, and immediately was sick. All pregnant women please take note! It is not compulsory to have any testing! It is your choice. You are making this decision on behalf of you and your baby. In an ideal world the conversation should go: midwife “it is normal for us to offer you this testing at week 28. Do you know and understand the reasons for this? Would you like any further information? Have you made an informed decision on behalf of you and your baby? Please let me know”! We all know that unfortunately the conversation does not flow in this way. I suggest to you that if you have made a decision NOT to have a particular test, ultrasound, blood test, Strep. B etc. then make sure you have a good one liner to deliver ! “I know about the test and have made an informed decision to decline, thank you”! Keep it short and sweet and remember – NEVER hand over your power.
Am I Allowed? This is the constant cry from pregnant women, especially when we are discussing options – you know all those choices a pregnant woman SHOULD have during pregnancy and birthing. I had a group in at the weekend for a pre-natal course in hypnosis for birth. The questions of “Will they let me do……?” and “Am I allowed to do…..?”. Getting the message firmly imprinted is my goal! This is your birth, your labour and birth and your baby. It is a normal event and you are the Director of that event. Whilst we must all respect the institutions (hospital) rules and regulations, policies and procedures, and the staff, it is very important that a woman goes into labour, confident in her ability to birth in her own way, directing her own birthing and feeling absolutely in control of all decisions she makes on behalf of her baby. To all you beautiful pregnant women – NEVER hand over your power!
Working with a midwife the other evening, at a small regional hospital, where there was a 19yr old in labour. This young girl lived with her grandmother, her boyfriend was present (he lived with his Dad). She had no education, had not read any books about pregnancy or birthing but had managed quite a few 3D and 4D ultrasounds, just for pictures. It seems there is either the 35 + yr old, or the teenager! I don’t have many inbetween. I questioned the midwife about informing this young woman about essential options and choices. Her comment was that if this girl was so uneducated and therefore uninformed, let’s not bother. It was in the ‘too hard’ basket. Now the young woman no doubt came into hospital way too early, she had no idea what was happening, no connection with her baby, and no understanding of what was normal. She most certainly was not aware she had choices. I couldn’t help comparing this with a 35 + yr. old, who has no doubt ‘over’ read, ‘over’ researched, ‘over’ educated (that is possible when a woman has attended so many different pre-natal courses and is confused!) It is quite shocking to think that health professionals can treat these two demographics so differently. As a result, this young woman had way too many vaginal examinations, way too many CTG’s, way too little information given. We must be very careful about targeting our information and education to reach all women. After staying in hospital for about 14hrs, she had her membranes ruptured by a doctor, and birthed 25 minutes later. She is, apparently, happy. Whilst she had a very supportive grandmother who stayed with her the whole time, this could have been quite a different experience, if she had been supported throughout her pregnancy by a doula who could have educated, informed and influenced the course of the labour and birth.
One day this week as I was watching a well known morning breakfast TV program, I was horrified once again at the comments regarding pregnant women. I do wish that the media would keep their mouth shut when it comes to pregnancy and birthing issues. The discussion was around weight and how women are obsessed with their weight post baby. This all came about after Beyonce’s outings!! looking nothing like a new Mum! The well know presenter stated how uncomfortable and anxious she felt when the obstetrician weighed her at every check-up!! I’m sure she is an otherwise intelligent woman, but what archaic practice this is, and who would normally allow someone else to check their weight. Is a woman not intelligent enough to monitor her own weight, if she desires? Can she not read the scales, all by herself and then inform the obstetrician of the number, if she desires? and what has this got to do with the growth of the baby? – absolutely nothing! Of course we all need to be discussing with pregnant women the importance of good nutrition and exercise. No-one should be humiliating a pregnant woman by insisting she stand on the scales, being watched and recorded. Well that’s my soap box done for the week. Look forwad to your comments. Susan