A new childbirth education program that’s breaking the norms is now in Brisbane. Birth Boot Camp is on the rise and breaking boundaries in what we know in preparation for birth. We’ve all seen and watched ‘One Born Every Minute’ and the medicalisation of birth that we have grown so accustomed to. Whenever you watch a birth in the media it is never without excruciating suffering and women screaming from the top of their lungs, so women have it in built in their psyche that birth is torment, women must suffer and women are destined to have them eventually lying on their backs with their legs up in stirrups and give away their power for the sake of childbirth.
This movement of giving away our power in birth came to be in the 1950’s ‘The era of the twilight sleep’ and what was known to be the time of the psychedelic drugs women were forced to endure to knock them out during childbirth so that they didn’t have to ‘suffer’. We might have come a long way since those times but still today in Australia 34% of women on average have a caesarean birth, 30% are induced and according to the World Health Organisation our Cesarean rate is more than double what it should be to save lives and to better outcomes for mothers and babies. According to WHO our Cesarean needn’t exceed 10-15% and our induction rate should only be at 10% so what is going on in our maternity system at the moment that is necessitating mothers to undergo invasive operative surgery to birth their babies? And why are women being induced left right and centre??
As a Lamaze childbirth educator, HypnoBirthing practitioner and Birth Doula I feel women are bombarded into unnecessary intervention without informed consent and the evidence-based information to back up the information that is only rarely provided to expectant parents. I have supported couples through pregnancy and birth for the past 8 years and in doing so I have watched my clients struggle to get a ‘normal birth’ which in essence means one without any unnecessary medical intervention in the absence of medical need and respect from their care provider however this is an uphill battle. One of the best evidence based ways to reduce the risk of intervention is to enable labour to begin on its own however women are coerced daily to have their labour induced simply for the fact that they are what’s classified ‘overdue’ without any other pre-existing factors warranting a medical necessity to intervene and so the domino effect of drugs and their side effects begins and from there it is a slippery slope to a very disempowering experience not only for the mother, but her baby and the birthing partner.
Today in Australia 1 in 3 women will experience a birth trauma and 1 in 10 will walk away from her birth with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This means that we are in serious need to not only change the maternity system we are currently in but for this change to happen it needs to come from the consumer and those are the expectant parents. Women and their partners need to get educated on their choices so that they too don’t become a statistic and fall between the cracks and will be able to recall their story with positive memories instead of something that needs to be debriefed with trauma.
That is how Birth Boot Camp came to fruition. Carla Morgan from Birth and Baby Hub and I have developed a new program to educate expectant couple of just that and so much more. When you think of Boot Camp the first thing that comes to mind is muscle exertion to the max, mind over matter mental attitude and your body surpassing what you thought was humanly possible and that is what Birth Boot Camp is developed upon. We aim to inform, empower and provide a wealth of knowledge to women and their partners in an intensive 2-day program beyond no other.
Birth Boot Camp is a childbirth education program developed from our vast experience as childbirth educators that have taken all their learnings from teaching about birth, attending births and their own childbirth experiences to give parents the crucial information they need to know beforehand. When to go to hospital? How do you know if a medical intervention is needed? What do you do if baby is malpositioned? How do you cope with the pain and turn it into power? How can your partner support you to manage it all? What are your birth choices? How can you minimise the chances of having a tear? What can you expect in the postnatal period? And so much more!!
Birth Boot Camp is not about the end result of having a natural birth. It is about have a Positive birth in which mum, dad and baby come out of this birth holistically healthy in both body and mind and can reflect back on their birth with good memories.
“The phrase ‘healthy mum, healthy baby’ actually means ‘alive mum and alive baby’; we MUST have a higher standard than that for birth” ~ Julie Francom
Click here for upcoming workshop dates
Article written by Moran Liviani (2Life Doula)
There’s so much information about oils out there that it can be overwhelming knowing which ones to choose for labour and birth. I’ve compiled my pick of 3 essential oils that are must haves in your birth kit.
1. Lavender - the all time favourite oil for bringing a sense of calm, peace and relaxation to you and the room.
Diffuse at home while labouring and while transferring to hospital take a tissue with a drop or two on it so you can smell it along the way. Better yet, pop a few drops on an eye mask so you can wear it when you want to block out the action and lights of the hospital and stay calm and relaxed.
2. Clary Sage - you’ll need the ever helpful clary sage if you’re facing induction, if your labour slows down or just isn’t progressing. Clary Sage can help to strengthen contractions so can be very effective in getting things started if you know you’re going to be induced or moving things along during labour. Clary Sage comes in handy to help the placenta along, for any after-birth pains and then later on when your periods return too.
**** Clary Sage should not be used in pregnancy (only in labour) and most hospitals will not allow you to diffuse Clary Sage if your midwife is pregnant. Place a few drops on a tissue to sniff or apply directly to your skin (I’d recommend diluting with fractionated coconut oil 1 drop to 5ml of carrier oil before applying to your skin) or DoTERRA have a handy roller ball blend called Clary Calm which is perfect for applying topically.
To increase contractions place a drop topically to your pinky toes at the nail bed, the inside ankle bones on both feet, and on the low abdomen every 15-20 min or until the strength of the contractions has increased. This isn’t recommended unless labour has started.
3. Peppermint - your pick me up! Peppermint can help reduce anxiety and hypertension, nausea and headaches. It’s a perfect cooling oil if you’re feeling tired and need a pep up or if you’re feeling nauseous and/or have a headache.
Sniff on a tissue, diffuse or make up a spray bottle for use during labour.
You can use all 3 of these oils individually as described above or in combination. Add to water in a spray bottle for a mist or add to fractionated coconut oil (1 drop to 5ml of carrier oil) for a birth massage oil. Massage over your back, belly and legs and enjoy!
If you don’t have access to DoTERRA oils and would like to order these oils or a birth kit - click here.
Please note: with essential oils there can be possible skin sensitivity. Remember to keep out of reach of children and consult your health care provider, midwife or obstetrician before using essential oils when pregnant or in labour. Avoid contact with eyes, inner ears and sensitive areas.
This information is compiled from ‘Essential Oils for Pregnancy, Birth & Babies’ Second Edition, Stephanie Frtiz Lm, CPM. The Essential Midwife. 2015. Gently Born Publications.
If you are setting up a new sleep space for your child or you’re expecting and setting up prior to their arrival here are some basic tips to creating a green sleep space that is low-tox.
Why is this important?
Your baby will be spending upwards of 16 hours a day as a newborn sleeping in that very space, then around 12 hours as a young person, so it’s worthwhile investing in a ‘green’ sleep environment. Some children are much more sensitive than others to smells and pollutants in their environment and suffer from allergies or disrupted sleep as a result. Whether you have a sensitive baby or not, there are also the potential long term effects of ongoing exposure to harmful chemicals that makes having a green low-tox sleep space imperative for the whole family, not just our little peeps.
What kind of pollutants am I talking about?
VOCs = Volatile Organic Compounds… think chemicals that are emitted by paints, paint strippers, cleaning products, pesticides, air fresheners and building materials. Then think that the majority of our flooring, underlays, paints, wallpaper, glues, rugs, furniture and mattresses (yes, mattresses) contains VOCs that emit these gasses initially, that’s the ‘new’ smell you can actually smell, but that also continue to release VOCs over time.
Tips for going green
Finally, as a general sleep tip, keep the sleep space uncluttered, neutral, natural and think about evoking a calm and not overly stimulating zone to keep it conducive to sleep.
By Carla Morgan. Carla is a Holistic Sleep Consultant, for more information or help with sleep support please see her website Birth & Baby Hub
When my midwives started talking about The Labyrinth of Birth I was immediately intrigued. I’d never heard of one before and hadn’t done anything like it when I was pregnant with my first child. With my second child, I really wanted a home birth so was working towards that when I did my Labyrinth. I’d done so much art when I was younger but very few pieces since I’d had my children… actually none since then at all.
The concept of the birth labyrinth that I’m talking about comes from the book ‘Birthing From Within’ by Pam England and Rob Horowitz. “The labyrinth is an ancient symbol representing our journey through life, ordeals, and transitions. Its single, convoluted pathway begins at the opening, leads directly to the center, and then returns along the same path to the outside again. Walking or finger-tracing a labyrinth invokes a sensation of turning inward, then outward– perhaps reminding us of our first journey from our mother’s body into the world.”
The Labyrinth of Birth is something women create when pregnant. It can be a painting or pottery, it can be made using rope or shells or a collage or quite literally it can be a life-sized labyrinth in sand or mud or rocks or grass that you walk or trace in person. You create it, then you trace it.
What’s the purpose?
The Labyrinth mirrors labour. Once labour starts and you step inside the labyrinth, you take step after step, progressing towards the centre which is representative of the birth of the baby, birth of the mother and birth of the family. Unlike a maze that has dead-ends, multiple entry and exit points and requires strategic thinking or luck to get out, the labyrinth has one entry, many twists and turns leading to the centre and a return path to exit. You can’t get lost in there. So this can be representative of our labours, there is a path to the birth, there is no time-line, there are no wrong turns, just movement, one foot in front of the other that leads us to the centre of the experience, the birth. The Labyrinth of Birth can be used to learn about the history and meaning of labyrinths but also to teach us that the journey of birth is about a lot more than just an outcome. It’s about the experience and moving through this step by step to have your baby and become a family.
With my labyrinth, I created a picture using charcoal, coffee, cardboard and paint. I added affirmations and animals that signified strength for me because I wanted to look at this in labour and be reminded of the Labyrinth and draw on the energy and strength displayed there.
Actually, I started one, then stopped because I didn’t like how it looked, so I started another one. This did freak me out a little because I wondered whether that was ‘ok’ or not. Did this mean I would have two ways my labour could go? Did it mean I would have labour start then stop then start again? Did it mean I was being too much of a perfectionist and needed to let go of my vision of my perfect birth?
As it turned out, the labyrinth of birth that I created did mirror my birth quite significantly. Some correlations were:
If you are pregnant and this idea appeals to you, I’d strongly encourage you to do a birth labyrinth. It’s a great way to connect with the baby and connect with yourself, your feelings, wishes and hopes for the birth you are about to experience. On a practical level it can be a visual tool to use in the weeks and months leading up to your birth by serving to remind you of the birth you want to have and to work towards this vision of your birth. Then during labour it can be used as a tool for you and your support team, they can use affirmations if you write them or remind you of your path through labour and encourage you to keep moving forward.
I remember saying to my sister at one point (close to transition in retrospect), “I’m finding it difficult to breathe fully when I have a surge”. She replied “You are in it now, you are doing it now, all you need to do is find your rhythm and go with it”. This helped me keep moving forward, keep pressing on towards the centre, just like the Labyrinth of Birth.
For more information visit:
By Carla Morgan
‘The first 40 days of life will impact the next 40 years of life’…this is an Indian saying deriving from an ancient tradition in which the minutes, hours, days and weeks following your birth should be spent nourishing your baby and nurturing yourself by having family and friends take care of you so you can rest and recover from the birth of your baby. In sikh practice they believe that when there is less stress on the mother in that crucial post partum period than she is more likely to be able to release the hormones that allow for better bonding and breastfeeding to nourish her baby and to ward off the potential of getting post natal depression.
So it may be impossible and not affordable for some to stay in this confinement for 40 days but are there ways in which we can take note from these traditional practices and incorporate them into our post-partum plan. I thought whom better to ask then the guru of post-partum care, a women whom has dedicated her professional work to assisting mums in managing these weeks following the birth so that they feel more confident, less stressed, well nourished and be able to enjoy this post-partum time aka the ‘Fourth Trimester with greater ease. Julia Jones is a well-respected Post Natal Doula who also has a wealth of knowledge in Ayurvedic medicinal care and has even written a recipe book based on the nourishing foods that will assist any mother in the healing process after birth called ‘Nourishing Newborn Mothers’.
Welcome Julia…thank you for your time with me today away from your very busy schedule.
Please tell me a bit about what you do and your experience working with mums?
Julia: I found my passion in postpartum before I was even a mother myself. I travelled in India after I finished University and got really sick, as many people do in India! I discovered traditional Indian medicine, called Ayurveda and I became healthier than I’d ever been.
When I was looking for teachers so I could learn more about Ayurveda I came across Ysha Oakes and she introduced me to the amazing concept of “40 days for 40 years,” meaning postpartum is a life changing experience! An opportunity to reinvent yourself as a mother and woman from the inside out.
I was hooked!
When I had my first baby I realised a lot of the detail I had learned from Ayurveda, about food combinations, and quantities of herbs and timing of medicines was really overwhelming! Baby brain does not deal well with too much information and rules. I felt stressed and overwhelmed.
From there I researched hormones and neuroscience and discovered sooo much amazing research about how a new mothers brain works. Understanding how we change and learn and grow in the postpartum period has really guided my work with Newborn Mothers.
It’s through merging both the scientific and traditional wisdom that I created an entirely new approach to postpartum support that I know teach to hundreds of midwives and doulas all over the world.
Your work is based on ayurvedic traditions, can you please explain a little bit about what ayurvedic medicine can do to aid a new mum in her postnatal care?
Julia: Ayurveda is an elemental science, meaning it is based on concepts of air, ether, earth, water and fire. When a mother gives birth she becomes cold and dry and our work as support people is to warm up Newborn Mothers and bring more juiciness into their lives.
Many, many postpartum traditions from other cultures have similar concepts! Common postpartum therapies include smoking, saunas, soups and belly binding.
In your work with postnatal mums, what do you find is the most challenging aspect for them in their post partum recovery?
Julia: I think the biggest challenge we face know is socially and culturally bound. We no longer have villages to support us and we no longer have realistic expectations of postpartum. These two things combined can make postpartum extremely challenging for new mothers. 80% of new mothers feel exhausted and overwhelmed, two out of three don’t meet their own breastfeeding goals and the leading cause of maternal death is suicide.
Do you find in your work with mums that their birth can affect their post partum recovery and emotional/mental well being?
Julia: Sometimes. It’s not always as related as we’d think. I know women who have had blissful peaceful birth and then their postpartum experience has been a train wreck. I’ve also worked with mothers who have had terrible birth experience and a blissful and peaceful postpartum.
How can a post natal doula assist mums in easier healing and quicker recovery at the post partum period?
Julia: Whilst there are specific food, herbs and therapies that can be really helpful, I actually think that most of the work is internal. Where we really see massive shifts from exhaustion and stress to peace and joy is when we work on a mothers inner world. Deep listening, empathy and companionship are massively important. I also think much of the long term results come from demonstrating to new mothers that self care is not optional, it is essential, and also teaching them how to let go of pride and control and ask for help.
Should mums do a post partum plan like they do their birth plan to be prepared for what’s ahead?
Julia: Absolutely! And same as a birth plan they need to be flexible as circumstances change. I think the core of a postpartum plan should include, at the very least:
What do you think is your best tip for mums preparing for their post partum journey that they can take away with them to make this transition easier?
Julia: Ask for help!!! In traditional cultures babies were seen as a social responsibility, with 8 adults sharing the load of one child. You are not a failure if you share the care of your baby, instead you are a giving your baby a great start in life. A happy mum, and a strong bond with many different people.
Newborn Mother /n(y)o͞ oˌbôrn ˈməT͟ Hər/ Noun
A recently born mother, whose strength is asking for help. She acknowledges that the birth of a mother is more intense than childbirth, and that she is as sensitive and vulnerable as her baby. Her heart is wide open and her needs are high. As she nourishes herself she nourishes her children.
For more info please head over to Julia’s website
By Moran Liviani
You only have one chance to get your placenta encapsulated safely, so here is a quick list of 10 questions to ask before booking in with a Placenta Encapsulation Specialist. You should be able to find this information fairly easily on their website so if you can’t, that would be a good reason to ask outright.
1. Are you a Certified Placenta Encapsulation Specialist?
There are three main organisations that offer training for Placenta Encapsulation so your provider may be qualified through IPEN, PBI or APPA. IPEN offer face-to-face training and PBI and APPA offer online training.
2. Are you trained in handling Bloodborne Pathogens?
Most specialists as a minimum will complete a Certificate in Bloodborne Pathogens and Infection Control for Placenta Encapsulators and a Food Handler’s Safety Certificate.
3. What are your cleaning and disinfecting procedures?
Your specialist should be open and transparent about his/her procedures and be able to show you a written policy if requested or if they are adhering to the principles outlined in the Bloodborne Pathogens and Infection Control Certification. Basically, equipment should be disposable where possible (everything except knives, steamers, dehydrators, grinders and capsule machines) with all re-usable equipment being thoroughly washed, rinsed and then fully immersed (or wiped if unable to be submerged) in hospital grade bleach solution.
4. How many placentas have you encapsulated?
Most Encapsulators will readily know this and be happy to share this information with you. They should also have testimonials they can share with you or clients who are happy to relay their experience if requested.
5. What’s your policy if you have two women birth on the same day?
Some Encapsulators will have a backup Encapsulator and refer the second placenta on. Some will have a first in, first served policy and complete the first placenta then thoroughly clean and disinfect (or use a separate set of equipment) before beginning the second. Some will only process one placenta per day so if yours is the second placenta, it will be processed the following day.
6. What’s your refund policy if my placenta is taken at birth to pathology or if I’m no longer able to keep it?
Many will refund (less deposit) in this situation but some won’t so it’s worth checking beforehand. Most will keep their deposit for the administration costs and for being on-call for you.
7. What are your pick up and processing times?
These can vary greatly. Some will guarantee pick up within 12 hours or less, some will say 24-48 hours. Processing times usually vary from 24 to 72 hours (1-3 days). This is important to check because if your encapsulator can’t pick up for 48 hours and then takes 3 days to encapsulate that’s 5 days before you get your capsules. If you want them as soon as possible, be sure to ask about collection and turn around times.
8. If I birth late at night or early in the morning, what’s your pick up procedure?
Some encapsulators are on-call 24/7 so will come out to hospitals or your home at any hour. Most usually state pick up times anywhere from 5am to 10pm. Either way, it is always your responsibility to keep the placenta chilled while waiting for your encapsulator to arrive.
9. What do I do with my placenta while I’m waiting for you to arrive?
There is a 2-3 hour window from birth to when the placenta must be placed on ice or in a fridge, any longer than 2 hours and the placenta may not be viable for encapsulation. Please check this with your Encapsulator, you certainly don’t want to take any risks by leaving your placenta at room temperature for any length of time, particularly if this means you will no longer be able to have your placenta encapsulated and also because you may not have your money refunded in this case.
10. What happens if you are unable to pick up or process my placenta on the day I give birth?
Most encapsulators will have a reliable and experienced backup available for periods of time when they are either sick, if there’s an emergency or they are unable to process your placenta for other reasons. They should be explicit about this when booking and be able to provide you with a name and contact details should you need it.
By Carla Morgan
Carla and Moran are both qualified (trained) and extremely experienced Brisbane-based Placenta Encapsulation Specialists. For more information on encapsulation services please visit their respective websites below.
Carla Morgan - Birth & Baby Hub
Moran Liviani - 2Life Doula
Any mum that has suffered through postnatal depression or anxiety knows that it is a silent disease that feels like your all alone in the hopelessness that is your mind. But now the new drug Zulresso that promises some relief for that is paving the way to give these women some hope for a better tomorrow, but are we losing touch with what’s underlying deep underneath the surface and the real issue here??
I was that mother that wanted this pain to go away and as I became a mother at the age of 24, I really didn’t comprehend the emotional, physical and mental impact that becoming a mother would take on my body. I also had previous childhood trauma that resurfaced for me at the birth and brought fear head on through my arduous labour process that only exacerbated the way I felt. So, I walked out of the hospital with a newborn baby in my arms and I had no family support, no ‘village’ no postnatal plan and a husband that had to go back to work not long after we brought our baby home and so anxiety crept in which then led to a feeling of constant dread and that’s when depression took hold.
So, I can understand these mothers that want a drug to take this all away and feel ‘normal’ again, I really do!! But is this the answer? I don’t think so. I think we have lost touch with what’s really important and that is giving women that holistic support during her pregnancy and paving the way for her to make a postnatal plan that incorporates her being well nourished, loved, heard, supported and create that ‘village’ beforehand so she has someone to turn to when she may or may not start to feel like it’s all too much. I also fear that this drug eventually will get over prescribed like we do with other interventions in birth where it’s a one stop fix for any mother that says she’s feeling sad instead of looking at the whole picture.
At the moment this drug is only offered intravenously at $34,000 per treatment and because it has such adverse side effects like dizziness and unconsciousness it means that mums would need to be admitted to hospital to be monitored for these effects and in the trials that they did for this drug they had a big placebo group which had promising results themselves so what does that tell us?? I truly believe that if women are given the proper counselling, nourishing food, birth debriefing, breastfeeding support, someone to be there with their baby so they can get sleep and taking care of them in those first 6 weeks at least then we can have healthy mothers in every way. We can have women that can function without drugs to keep them going and that can bond with their babies and most of all be happy functioning women like they should be. Let’s make that change, let’s make those plans in pregnancy so that we aid mothers in every way possible to be the best that they can be.
By Moran Liviani
how to prepare your dog for your newborn
If you already have a fur baby at home and are just 'hoping for the best' when it comes to bringing home your new baby, implement these steps beforehand for a smooth transition for everyone.
Before baby arrives
Bringing baby home
PHOTO CREDIT: Jody Ryan Photography
By Carla Morgan - mum of three + two fur babies.