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Classes/Workshops etc January 2011

Monday, January 10th, 2011

Postnatal Classes - Monday mornings between 10 and 11.30 in the Woodstock Methodist Church Hall. Six week course starts this Monday though you are welcome to join us throughout the course. Intimate class of new mothers with babies up to 8 months old. Something for you though babies very much welcome. Still a couple of places so do email me asap if you’d like a place.Prenatal Class - Monday evenings 7-9 pm in the Woodstock Town Hall. Running every Monday night until Easter with a two week break in Feb. this class is usually very full so please email interest and I will let you know of there is a space or put you on the wait-list if there isnt. We have a lot of babies due this term so if you are wait-listed it shouldnt be too long until you get a place.Couples Workshop- the next couples workshop is Tuesday 15th March 7.15- 9.45. Places limited so early booking essential.Doula work- I have limited spaces this year so please let me know if you’d like to know more about the doula package I offer.

Home vs Hospital- the debate rages on

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Despite the fact that home birth figures in this country barely make a dent in statistics, the validity of home birth vs hospital births is still hotly debated. Very sadly the debate is cast in quite black and white terms, with advocates of each quoting scientific studies which back up the point that they are trying to make.To be honest this entirely misses the point. I am by no means averse to debate. In fact I wholly welcome it. If we are talking about where best to give birth, it means that women are thinking about it and that can only be a good thing. Active choices are the foundation of any positive birth experience and the more women become informed and armed with true knowledge about birth, the more likely they are to take their boirth choices into their own hands.I do not believe there is one best place for a woman to give birth. It is why i do not sit on either sid eof the fence in the home vs hospital argument. I am genuinely of the belief that birth is hugely influenced by a woman’s mindset, and crucially her sense of security. The key to birth is to be able to switch off, and for that we need to be in an environment which makes us feel nurtured and secure, surrounded by people we trust that can give us the emotional as well as the medical nurture that we need.What the science shows us is that for low-risk births, home is at least as safe as hospital. There are of course risks to a home birth- unforeseen and rare complications can arise, and in the odd case it might well have been better to be in hospital. But all too often the debate about hospital vs home birth emphasises the minimal risks of being at home whilst entirely ignoring the risks of being in hospital, as though the latter is devoid of risk, because it is a hospital. Yet 1 in 4 women who birth in consultant led units have complications. It is scientifically proven that once birth is intervened with you are more likely to need further intervention- the so-called cascade of intervention. Women who are attended to by obstetricians are subject to much higher rates of c-sections, forceps, induction and augmentation - all of which can sometimes be life saving but which can sometimes also be risky. There are risks to everything we do, and I think any debate on place of birth needs to take this much more into consideration. I do not believe that everyone should give birth at home, but I do believe the debate is biased, entirely ignoring the fact that births are fundamentally affected by the environment a woman births in and the intervention she has.For women who are low-risk, the choice to birth at home or in a midwife led unit is an entirely valid one. Yes, they might be taking the risk that intensive medical care is not within spitting distance. But they are also ridding themselves of the risk that their birth will be intervened with unnecessarily and increasing their chances of getting the kind of emotional care that is conducive to good birth outcomes.It is okay to speak of risks, but only when we do so honestly, showing that on both sides of the coin there are riss- and then leaving it up to the mother to work out what is most importnat to her. For some women, giving birth without the knowledge that an epidural or high tech medical care is only a corridor or floor away would be inconceivable. In that case they need to  explore their hospital options, but with an awareness that they are increasing their chances of intervention. For other mothers, hospitals might well be a place they associate with the ill and the infirmed and not places they feel they could truly open up and feel secure. For them, one to one midwifery care might well be the deal breaker.There is no right or best place for every woman out there. The debate is not black and white. Different women need different things. The key is, we need to be able to choose- and for that not only do we need those in a position of power to assure us that options will always be there, but we need to look more healthily at what those options are and what they really mean for our birth.Ask yourself the question, where would I feel safe, and why?  Make your place of birth a real choice.

Birth on Woman’s Hour

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

For those of you who missed it there was a birth special on Woman’s hour on thursday of last week. Sheila Kitzinger was interviewed and it is well worth a listen- she is as inspiring and eloquent as ever.

Homeopathy for Birth, Before & Beyond

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

As promised the link to the Helio Birth kit- I highly recommend it. The remedies are all 200c potency ( rather than the 30c that you’ll get in health food shops). The guide book that goes with it is fantastic and truly self-explanatory and it is just as useful after the birth as during. Its £26.95 truly well spent.

No class tonight Monday October 4th

Monday, October 4th, 2010

A reminder that there is no class this evening because the fair is on in Woodstock, which makes parking impossible and provides a completely inappropriate soundtrack to yoga! See you all next week.


Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

I am away until August 22nd. please email class interest then. DVD sales will be fulfilled from August 10th onwards.

Happy summer!

The imperative of choice

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

I have been watching Mad Men recently, and quite apart from how fantastic and beautiful it is as a series, it is completely fascinating to see into the (admittedly fabricated) lives of women in the 1960s. It wasn’t that long ago really, and yet sexism was rife, women were only beginning to be liberated and generally you get the sense that their choices were, by design or default, significantly curtailed by the cultural norms of the day. Fast forward 50 years, and we are all superwomen, capable of choosing between motherhood and careers or having both, informed and educated and spoilt for choice. Or are we?

Because the women of New York have just had a huge choice taken away from them ( see article). Last week,  the closure of one of NYc’s most progressive St Vincent’s hospital spelt the end of legal backing for midwives who worked independently. As o that day, there is not a single midwife in New York who can legally attend a home birth. That is millions of women now deprioved of a very basic choice as to whether to birth at home or in hospital. In a country that honours freedom as much as the US does, that borders on the sacrilege.

Not everyone wants a home birth, and not everyone should have one. But for those that do, the lack of choice will feel stifling. The most important thing a woman needs to consider when she is planning her birth is what environment she will birth best in. Security and privacy are two complete essentials - if a woman feesl safe she will birth better. Fact.

For some women, that safety comes from being in hospital, with medical attention only a corridor or two away, and an epidural on hand should she cry out for one. But for other women, safety comes from the comfort and familiarity of their own homes. Research on home birth shows that for risk-free prgenancies birth at home is at least as safe a in hospital, and Holland, where the home birth rate is a whopping 30%, has some of the lowest maternal morbidity rates in the world. According to the science both places are safe for mothers in general, but certain places are better for mothers as individuals. And it is only the women themsleves that can decide what is right for them.

Except in New York they cant.

Birth is hormonally driven, and hormones function best in particular environments. When a woman is denied the right to choose that environment, she is effectively ebing denied the right to a good birth. There is, and should be public outcry about this.

Let us also hope that this particular little development is one that we dont decide in the UK to follow. Birth practice in the US seems to be exported, even when it is found to be faulty. I have never been one for protectionism, but there is a time and a place, and when it comes to choice for mothers, that time is now.

Breech - don’t panic

Monday, April 19th, 2010

Palpating ( which is when the midwife feels for the position of the baby) is beginning to be something of a lost art. Whilst midwives are all trained to do it, there is increasing reliance on late scans for confirmation of a baby’s position, and it seems to diminishing the confidence and therefore the ability of midwives to accurately determine which way around a baby is lying. Admittedly it is very easy to mix up a head and a bottom- whilst the head is rounder and harder than the bottom, a baby’s bottom is fairly bony and fat=free, so the mistake is easily made. Supposedly the best way to check is not simply to focus ont he supposed head or bottom, but also on its position relative to the shoulders.

All too often women in my classes are told at 35, 36 or 37 weeks  that their babies are breech. The obvious panic ensues as it is now routine to schedule 38 week c-sections for breech babies. Women then fling themselves down into knee-chest position, call or email me in a panic, and search for every possible alternative method ( acupuncture, incidentally, is probably the most successful of all the ones on offer) to turn their babies before uuuming and aaahing over possibly consenting to an uncomfortable ( but often successful) external cephalic version ( where a doctor manually turns a baby whilst it is still in its mother’s tummy- more on that in another post).

Whilst it is important to be informed in the face of a possible breech baby, my first piece of advice is now always, dont panic. Just because someone has said that they think the baby is breech DOES NOT MEAN IT IS. In my experience, the diagnosis is becoming more frequent, and 9 times out of 10 it is wrong. So the poor mother has read up, panicked, stressed and worried, only to discover at the scan that the baby is happily head down and all her worry has been for nothing. A huge 95% of babies are head down at term, leaving only 3-4% breech and the odd one transverse, but those that are in these more unusual positions can also change position right up until the end. Of course babies are sometimes stubbornly breech, and knowing that in advance of labour is important, but our increasing relaince on scans as a back up, as well as the fear of undiagnosed breech babies ( which few midwives have the experience at delivering now) means that more and more women are being told that their babies are breech when they are not.

So if you are told your baby might  be breech, take a deep breath, focus on the ‘might’ and make your decisions once you know for sure.

Couples Workshop

Monday, March 1st, 2010

The next couples workshop is Tuesday 23rd March 7.15 to 9.45. Places are limited and filling up quickly so please email your interest.

Preparing for Birth - why bother?

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

‘I just wanted to share this with you. It is the beginning of a rather wonderful email I got from a woman in one of my classes who faced with placenta previa was admitted into hospital early and had to have a c-section, all on the back of really diligent preparation for a natural birth.

Her words are an absolute lesson in why women need to prepare for birth no matter how it turns out, and to feel that they are wise to its nuances. They are also testament to the extraordinary support one gets from feeling a part of a community instead of isolated and alone.Instead of facing the unknown with fear, she mustered up courage. Instead of lamenting what ws happening to her, she held her head high and dealt with it.

Birth requires you to be brave. Whether you are choosing to give birth without drugs or you are faced with a c-section, either way, you need to be brave. In fact, to become a mother at all you need to have endless courage and to get it, not only do we often need to dig deep, but we need to prepare and to feel supported. And if we do, and if we are, we truly can face anything.

‘I thought I would write to let you know that Arthur the Acorn was born on Friday 12th at 8.15 weighing just under eight pounds. I wanted to thank you for all your help over the last few months. The yoga has been a complete joy - as much as the actual yoga itself, coming into a group of such lovely, friendly ladies, all struggling with worries and anxieties about their bumps and life afterwards, laughing about waddling and puffy feet, and being reassured and coaxed towards the inevitable by your superb lectures. Because of all this, when it came to the inconvenience of being in hospital, the mild panic of contractions starting, and the sheer terror of walking into theatre, I did not feel alone. As scared as I was, I knew you would all cheer me on and tell me it was going to be alright. And it was.