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Archive for April, 2010

Being Good Enough

Monday, April 26th, 2010

On the same subject as ‘brining up babies’ that has been in the press recently, there was a fantastic half hour on Radio 4

Between Ourselves: Series 5 where Olivia O’Leary talks to Laverne Antrobus , and educational psychologist, and Oliver James, the now very successful author and child psychologist about what children actually need, and what we can do as parents to bring up happy, emotionally healthy children. I highly recommend a listen.

An Inconvenient Truth

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

This is a letter I sent to the Guardian this week in response to a comment by Zoe Williams ( who herself was responding to a very interesting article Baby Wars: parenting guru cries foul over Queen of Routine’s tough-love approach

I highly reccomend reading the article. My letter is below.

I disagree with Zoe Williams ( For Crying Out Loud, Thursday April 22nd). I am all for showing compassion to mothers- they are undervalued enough as it is- but stifling the critics and the debate smacks of political correctness gone mad. We seem to have developed an ‘anything goes’ mentality where we now avoid the difficult parenting and birth conversations in case we make someone feel guilty. Yet science has made huge leaps over the last decade and we are now capable of plotting the development of the human brain like never before. The importance of touch and of responding to a baby’s early cries can no longer be underestimated. This does, and should, throw new light on the parenting debate. It is, to borrow a phrase, an inconvenient truth to some that parenting is and needs to be intensive in the beginning, but to imply otherwise is simply doing mothers a great disservice. Everyone is up in arms if it is doscovered that we have been misled by a corporation, or if an industry seeks to withhold the facts- the cigarette industry immediately springs to mind. Knowing the facts doesn’t take away our choices, it simply makes them informed.
Nicole Croft

The Vanishing of the Bees

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

I once saw a very good documentary called The Vanishing of the Bees ( which if incidentally you get a chance to see then you should- quite haunting stuff but really well done and inspiring - if nothing else you’ll want to plant more flowers). The basic premise of the documentary is that industrialised farming, with their monocultures and their over-reliance on pesticides is detrimentally harming the very thing that farmers depend on- the bees which pollinate their crops. It reminded me of a fabulous book by Michel Odent called ‘The Farmer and the Obstetrician’ - which again I highly recommend you read. In it he argues that we have not understood the ills of industrialisation in the world of farming until it is too late- or at least until we have outbreaks like foot and mouth and mad cow disease, and that we are in danger of treading the very same path in our ‘industrialisation’ of the birth process. too much is undertaken in the context of birth for reasons of efficiency, and to cope with the sheer scale of hospitals and the number of births they are coping with. As a result, too little time is taken with each women, tending to the emotional side of birth. Protocols are introduced, be they the routine use of pit to speed up labour, or the arbitrary time limits imposed on stages, or the use of EFMs ( when they have been proven to bestow no benefit on mother and child and simply increase c-section rates) - not to make birth better or easier for the mother or baby, but to make birth easier to manage for the hospital. And all of this without any idea of where it might lead us or what the consequences- both medical and social- are of this huge interference with an otherwise natural process.

It was Ghandi who said speak only if it improves upon the silence. Surely we should apply that adage to any natural process- intervene only if it improves upon the natural process. In far too many cases it doesnt, and we are yet to discover what the consequences of this is. Surely we need to stand back to gain some perspective, lest it takes a disaster to warn us of the perils of interference.

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.

Classes for the Summer

Monday, April 19th, 2010

Classes are currently running every Monday night ( except bank holidays) until Monday July 19th after which there will be a break over the summer. I am currently taking bookings for mid-May and June. There will be a couples workshop in June, date to be confirmed within the next two weeks.  Please email interest or for details of either