It’s been a while since I posted but i hope to get back in the saddle and start posting regularly.

During this very busy time I have been immersed in the birthing world and have had many, varied experiences. Some amazingly great and others amazingly ordinary whiles a few were amazingly horrific. Through all of this I have come to see how people prepare for the arrival of their baby. Some approach this event in a very technical way, others more intuitively. There is great effort and preparation for some whilst others just follow the flow and hope for the best.

This has got me thinking…What are people doing? Many say this birth day will be the greatest event of a woman’s life others claim it is just another day. So how much preparation is enough.

Well let’s take a closer look at what is happening here. We have 2 people who have (hopefully) fallen in love and decided to be together. This decision to be together hasn’t been entered into lightly. Some people may decide to have a formal union others may decide privately to dedicate themselves to each other. For those choosing a formal union there is great preparation. Think of how much work, time, effort, money and preparation goes into planning the wedding. There is the dress to find and try on. Multiple dress rehearsals are done before the right one is found and then it will be the best one that can be afforded. same thing goes for the venue, the menu, cake and invites. The happy couple doesn’t just pick at random and hope to get a good enough result, they plan for month in advance of the great day. Nothing gets left to chance. On the big day all their efforts pay off as things go smoothly (or mostly) and the wedding happens like a dream.

The honeymoon is also not left to chance but a location is decided upon where this newly wed couple can go to in order to get to know one another intimately away from prying eyes. A destination is picked that is far away from the normal bustle of their everyday lives. Meals are eaten out or room service is ordered in. (Who has ever heard of a bride cooking on her honeymoon?) Time is spent gazing at each other lovingly and lying in each others arms, skin to skin. After several weeks this new couple feel well bonded to return to the everyday reality of their new lives together and upon entering this reality they are suddenly aware at how vulnerable they feel. They wish they could have kept that sacred space they had just for themselves a little longer.

So now we have a new family of two that has bonded and loved one another unto death do them part. What happens when the happy couple decide to have a baby? Should the same process not be followed when adding another member to this family? Why should the child receive less attention and preparation? It is disconcerting to hear how people choose a caregiver because they were affordable and how they won’t do classes or have a doula because it isn’t important enough.

A baby is another member to the family. Where is the prenatal preparation and the babymoon? The effort we put into getting married and our honeymoon should be put into having a baby. research the best possible caregiver who has your philosophy and that does not expect you to do as they want but is willing to do what you want within the norms of safety. Seek second opinions of things that make you uneasy or unsure. Why are we leaving up to chance the next biggest day in our lives? Surely we should be preparing for the welcome this new life into our warm and loving arms. Prenatal preparation is not all equal. Some classes give the bare basics whilst others train you to accept what the hospital wants you to do. Seek out the class that will prepare you emotionally, physically and spiritually to be present in every way at your birth. Make the birth day go as smooth as possible by preparing for it beforehand and not leaving it all up to chance. Your baby’s happiness and health depend on your decisions and choices, make sure you are informed about them. Make each big day in you life something that you’ll want to remember for the rest of your life!


3 B’s

Bodies, Breasts and Babies…

This is what it boils down to when you think of having a baby and all the decisions that need to be made.

This is your body, so what do you want to do with it? How will you birth your baby?

To breast feed or to bottle feed? This is the question countless women are faced with regarding their breasts.

And finally, the person all this is related to: Baby! The ultimate passenger going along with the ride but without a voice.

So who is speaking for our babies if we don’t? Who do we delegate the responsibility for what happens to our bodies and babies?

If our society is so concerned about their bodies and their breasts why, oh why are fewer and fewer people concerned about the babies?
Now, I ask: what is more important to you…your body, your breasts or your baby?

And before you go all out to defend each part –  STOP! – and think about why you are having a baby in the first place. Once you can answer this for yourself truthfully, you will know the order in which to put the three things.

We have lost sight of why we are doing the things we do, perhaps a timeout to reconnect and re-establish ourselves would help mothers around the world to nurture their own mother-self that is being born with their babies.

Instead of living isolated in our nuclear families lets extend ourselves to connect and contact others around us that have similar or other experiences to share. Let’s recreate the Village with it’s wisdom and support, care and connection.

We may surprise ourselves at how much we would enjoy it.

Mother and baby bonding.

It is interesting how I have come across a lot of people lately saying that they would prefer epidurals in labour as pain relief instead of other forms such as Pethidine or Atarax because of the misguided belief that the epidural doesn’t impact on the newborn as much.

Well I am truly disconcerted that there are professionals in South Africa that can actually teach this to a class full of eager and trusting minds without explaining the WHOLE situation that potentially could happen as a consequence of an epidural.
If the epidural is as innocuous as they claim, why then is a mother



  1. strapped continuously to the electronic foetal monitor
  2. with a drip in her arm to keep the line open for emergency interventions
  3. having a blood pressure cuff strapped on reading her blood pressure every 20 minutes
  4. catheterised and told she should not try to get up from the bed she is lying in
  5. Moved from side to side if the epidural is in for a long time to prevent the medication from settling in one zone of her body and therefore not working efficiently.

In my research I came across an excerpt from a book called ‘The Soul of the Great White Ant” by Eugene N. Marais. It is very interesting to read his experiments on wild life relating to the use of anaesthesia and as he puts it ‘unlocking the mother complex’. Marais is trying to prove (or disprove) the connection between birth pain and mother love.

Marais continues to write on page 89 and 90 “For the experiment I used a herd of sixty half-wild buck…I have proof that during the previous fifteen years there had been no single instance of a mother refusing her young in normal circumstances.

  1. Six cases of birth during full anaesthesia of the mother induced by chloroform and ether; unconsciousness in no case lasted for more than twenty-five minutes after delivery. In all six cases the mother refused to accept the lamb of her own volition.
  2. Four cases of birth during paralysis – consciousness and feeling were partly paralysed but not destroyed by the American arrow poison curare. In all four cases the mother appeared for over an hour in great doubt as to the acceptance of her lamb. After this period, three mothers accepted their lambs; one refused it.

To prove that refusal on the part of these mothers was not due to the general disturbance caused by the anaesthetics used, I did the following experiments:

3. In six cases of birth the mother was put under chloroform anaesthesia immediately after delivery was complete but before she had seen her lamb. Unconsciousness lasted about half an hour. In all six cases the mother accepted her lamb without any doubt immediately after she became conscious. Similar experiments with curare gave the same result.

From these and other experiments I became convinced that without pain there can be no mother love in nature, and this pain must actually be experienced psychologically. It is not sufficient for the body to experience it physiologically.

The mother love is activated during natural childbirth so that she will utterly and completely accept and safeguard her child at all cost. This makes sense, surely!
But what is happening in our hospitals and all around the world? More and more mothers are using some form of pain relief to escape the pain of childbirth. The very pain that helps bonding to occur, the pain that creates a family.

Frequently mothers have asked me why did I not feel motherly from the instant my child was born? Why did I have to work at bonding with my child? Looking into their birth history I see time and again that either there was an epidural used or a caesarean birth was performed. These factors have contributed to much sadness and strife in many families all over the world.

I just thought it was time others starting realizing how delicate and precious bonding is how this link can be so easily damaged. When all goes as nature planned, in her immense wisdom so long ago, then the bond is strengthened immediately and continues to flourish without added assistance but if this link is delayed then bonding becomes harder to achieve and takes so much longer to establish. Not all is lost for we can still salvage the bond but it takes so much more work whereas it comes so easily if left alone.

Experience has shown me personally as well as with women that I have assisted in various ways that a natural, un-interventive birth works out so much easier in the short and long term.

We all want what’s best for our children but sometimes we are not given all the facts to make a truly informed decision. This is but one aspect of how epidurals impact on us and our children’s lives.

Pack things to take to hospital:
– Wash cloth (for wiping face and relieving thirst) check
– Lip balm to prevent dried/chapped lips whilst breathing heavilycheck
– CD player with soothing music and courage musiccheck
– Video camera, Camera, film, flash check
– Snacks, drinks, ice chips, cooler, sandwiches check
– Something to focus on during contractionscheck
– Beanie bag or sock filled with brown rice to warm up in microwave for lower back or belly pain check
– Rescue remedy for shock and trauma check
– Something to wear: check
During labor
During delivery
On trip home
– Nightgowns, robe, slippers check
– Bra’s (nursing) check
– Disposable panties for the first few days after birth check
– Heavy socks check
– Baby clothes check
– Baby book – for foot prints, etc. check
– Doula … ahh…cross
– Midwife … ummm…cross

Well most new parents have a list similar to this with a whole lot more too. There are very few that consider the doula or the midwife an essential part of giving birth.

Here’s a little look at the difference between maternity caregivers.

A midwife provides personalised and supportive care during natural childbirth. She is trained and qualified to assist in any possible complications that may arise in childbirth and she can take preventative as well as emergency measures to ensure safety for all. Since she is usually with women in natural childbirth her experience is wide and varied and to some extent far superior to that of an obstetrician.

An obstetrician is trained and qualified in high care obstetrics and is an invaluable resource when there are known complications or problems. Women who are high risk usually birth with obstetricians since they are experienced in this kind of management. It is understandable that since these specialised doctors (because this is what they are – specialised in obstetrics) see so many complications in their practice that they become less trusting of the natural process. They are on the lookout for any possible or probable problems that may occur thus in some occasions they produce the very thing they wish to avoid – a complication. If you are healthy and having an uncomplicated pregnancy you should be looking for a midwife to deliver your baby.

A doula, on the other hand is someone who is trained to support (as if women need training for this sort of thing, it comes naturally) labouring women. They do not provide any medical support even though they have an educated understanding of what is happening. The doulas role is strictly for the parents support, emotionally, physically and psychologically. A doula can complement a birth witha midwife as well as with an obstetrician. I like to think of the doula as someone who bridges the gap between the medical world and the parents reality.

So whatever your decision is, having a doula at your birth kind of gives you the best of all worlds!

Waterbirth International in danger of closing

I cannot yet imagine a world without the voice and work of Waterbirth International – we get calls and emails every day from women who need help convincing one hospital or another to let them labor or birth in water. If we die – a big part of the movement
dies. Waterbirth has shown us all that women know how to give birth and babies know how to be born. Waterbirth gave us “hands-off”, sit back and let the baby out. I see waterbirth mentioned on Blogs every single day, not to mention Baby Story on the TV. I took Waterbirth International to ACOG two years in a row – and was the ONLY booth
showing birth films to obstetricians and especially to student physicians. There were tears, laughter and outrage – just the thing to stir up those young crop of doctors. I am finally realizing a life’s dream. But now I am faced with letting this dream go. Perhaps I have done enough. Perhaps it is time to quit.

About 18 years ago, maybe it was longer, when Mothering Magazine was facing bankruptcy Peggy did a heartfelt plea asking their readers to consider ordering a Life-time subscription. I think the subscriptions were $1000 or $1200, I can’t remember now. I do remember that I couldn’t imagine not reading my Mothering. So, I bought two and gave one to my obstetrician’ s office.

How can you help us stay open to take the next phone call? – to convince the next obstetrician to incorporate waterbirth into his/her practice – to work with the nurse midwives to install pools in their facilities? To educate an entire hospital on the benefits of allowing women freedom of movement in the water. How much is it worth to see waterbirth become the norm in the US, like it is in the UK? I think we only need a few more years to make that happen. Do women really want waterbirth to be an available choice in every hospital? I think so.

Can you help us by getting the word out on blogs and lists? I had to let go of all of the staff except one person to process orders. Miraculously, we made payroll today, but we can’t hang on much longer. We need a miracle.

If I need to call every single waterbirth parent personally, I will. I don’t want 25 years of work to end over a measly $200,000.

The work that we have done the last few years has been phenomenal. How God arranged for me to teach in hospitals and medical schools around the planet – Taiwan, Venezuela, Turkey, Mexico, Canada, Holland, Portugal, China, Trinidad, Croatia – I’ll never figure that out. I laugh out loud sometimes when I get up in front of an
audience of physicians in a medical school overseas – who all want to hear about waterbirth and the incorporation of Gentle Birth practices and principles into their routines.

Think about what you can do and call me if you want to chat or if you have some great ideas on how we can quickly move into the black and keep waterbirth alive and thriving.

We need your help. Barbara Harper needs your help. The waterbirth/gentle birth movement needs your help.


Barbara Harper, RN, CLD, CCE
Waterbirth International
503-673-0026 -office (out of US or in Portland)
800-641-2229 – toll free
503-710-7975 – cell phone

We LOVE helping women get into Hot Water!! And have been doing it for 24 years!!

Quite a strong statement, I know but with the recent trend it can almost ring true. I’m all in favour of gynaecologists because they do have so much expertise and knowledge. They are trained and educated in high risk obstetrics and therefore see disasters lurking behind every door. When a women needs the care of a specialised obstetrician then I am 100% supportive but I’m not for all the proposed routine interventions they wish to offer low risk women and I cannot fathom how they expect women to just lie back and take whatever the almighty doctor decides is convenient for him or herself.

I’ve heard many times a nurse saying to a labouring mother…

“There dear, we need to
– shave you / give you an enema /have you lie flat on your back /give you an epidural – (take your pick)
 because the doctor really doesn’t like it when
– he cannot see down there / you make a mess / he’s not comfortable delivering / when you are screaming and making a noise.”
The gynaecologistis the new God, never to be questioned or inconvenienced. Woman have foolishly handed over their power to their doctors and in the process they are losing a most valuable part of the process of become parents – looking out for themselves and their families. Many women are mistakenly led to believe that they have very little choice in regards to how and where they birth.

It is a sad reality that women give birth on their backs not because this is how it is done but because the doctor won’t have it any other way. Midwives are regularly on their hands and knees with mothers. They are the greatest contortionists I’ve ever seen. They deliver babies in any position the mother chooses. Ever seen a gynaecologist bend down and look from the floor up to see the progress a mom has made. Never!

More education needs to be given to the new family with regards to informed choices and basic rights. There are basic rights that each labouring woman can undeniably expect, all she needs is to know what they are. All woman have the power to take back what is theirs and make choices based on what they need and want.

The WHO (World Health Organisation) states the following:


  • Encourage the woman to have personal support from a person of her choice throughout labour and birth:

– Encourage support from the chosen birth companion;

– Arrange seating for the companion next to the woman;

– Encourage the companion to give adequate support to the woman during labour and childbirth (rub her back, wipe her brow with wet cloth, assist her to move about).

  • Ensure good communication and support by staff:

– Explain all procedures, seek permission and discuss findings with the woman;

– Provide a supportive, encouraging atmosphere for birth, respectful of the woman’s wishes;

– Ensure privacy and confidentiality.

  • Maintain cleanliness of the woman and her environment:

– Encourage the woman to wash herself or bathe or shower at the onset of labour;

– Wash the vulval and perineal areas before each examination;

– Wash your hands with soap before and after each examination;

– Ensure cleanliness of labouring and birthing area(s);

– Clean up all spills immediately.

  • Ensure mobility:

– Encourage the woman to move about freely;

Support the woman’s choice of position for birth.

  • Encourage the woman to empty her bladder regularly.

Note: Do not routinely give an enema to women in labour.

  • Encourage the woman to eat and drink as she wishes.

– If the woman has visible severe wasting or tires during labour, make sure she is fed. Nutritious liquid drinks are important, even in late labour.

  • Teach breathing techniques for labour and delivery.

– Encourage the woman to breathe out more slowly than usual and relax with each expiration.

  • Help the woman in labour who is anxious, fearful or in pain:

– Give her praise, encouragement and reassurance;

– Give her information on the process and progress of her labour;

– Listen to the woman and be sensitive to her feelings.

  • If the woman is distressed by pain:

– Suggest changes of position (Fig C-2);

– Encourage mobility;

– Encourage her companion to massage her back or hold her hand and sponge her face between contractions;

– Encourage breathing techniques;

– Encourage warm bath or shower;

– If necessary, give pethidine 1 mg/kg body weight (but not more than 100 mg) IM or IV slowly or give morphine 0.1 mg/kg body weight IM.

Figure C-2  

Positions that a woman adopt during labour 

What if someone said to you…

Would you please get up and go eat your food in the toilet.

I’d be quite taken aback. Wouldn’t you? I mean that is pretty revolting but it seems that our society doesn’t think twice when expecting a breastfeeding mom to do just that: feed her baby in a toilet.

Ever noticed in a shopping mall how there are clear signs for spaces to bottle feeding  your baby but no indication where a nursing mother should go.


I think it is time that we raise awareness and start getting some change done. Every public place should have a room for lactating mom’s with a clear international symbol  illustrated for all to see. The alternative otherwise is to ask others eating in public to please take their food and  go eat in the toilet!

International Breastfeeding symbol





1. Childbirth is a profound rite of passage, not a medical event (even when medical care is part of the birth).

2. The essence of childbirth preparation is self-discovery, not assimilating obstetric information.

3. The teacher is “midwife” to the parents’ discovery process, not the expert from whom wisdom flows.

4. Childbirth preparation is a continually evolving process (for parents and teachers), not a static structure of techniques and knowledge.

5. Parents’ individual needs and differences determine class content.

6. Active, creative self-expression is critical to childbirth preparation.

7. The purpose of childbirth preparation is to prepare mothers to give birth-in-awareness, not to achieve a specific birth outcome.

8. Pregnancy and birth outcome are influenced by a variety of factors, but can’t be controlled by planning.

9. In order to help parents mobilize their coping resources, it is critical for childbirth classes to acknowledge that unexpected, unwelcome events may happen during labour.

10. Parents deserve support for any birth option which might be right for them (whether it is drugs, technology, home birth, or bottle- feeding).

11. Pain is an inevitable part of childbirth, yet much can be done to ease suffering.

12. Pain coping techniques work best when integrated into daily life, rather than “dusted off” for labour.

13. Fathers help best as birth guardians or loving partners, not as coaches; they also need support.

14. For parents, pregnancy, birth, and postpartum is a time of continuous learning and adjustment; holistic support and education should be available throughout that period.

15. Childbirth preparation is also parent preparation.

 For further information please contact Rosalia 082 780-8965 or email rosalia@birthing.co.za


Here is a song I learnt while out in New Mexico with Pam England, author of the book Birthing From Within.
I sing it whilst with women in antenatal classes but most especially in labour.

I am opening up to the sweet surrender,
to the luminous love light of my child.
I am opening up to the sweet surrender,
to the luminous love light of my child.
I am opening, I am opening.
I am opening, I am opening.

It is such a sweet tune and the words help mother’s remember to open up to the love of their children but also to open their bodies for birthing. It creates an awesome feeling of connection to the baby and to other women who are labouring at the same time.

Try it now while you are still pregnant. If you sing it daily the baby will become familiar to it and then when you sing it in labour it will be soothing. Some sing it when welcoming the baby into the world.  Imagine the baby hearing the song out in the open after it has heard it for so long through the protective filter of the womb.

The tune can be made up otherwise call me up and I’ll teach it to you 😉 

Way back when there were no electric lights and transportation consisted of a cart pulled by an animal, there was a strange concept about a village. We no longer think of villages unless we think of some remote place away from civilization. The demise of the village from our lives takes with it so much more than just a small group of people.In modern day, our village consists of our own nuclear family with perhaps a small portion of elected extended family members subject of course to approval.  We have lost the benefits of having a village. The support that goes with it is also lost. The related experiences that are told in the form of folklore or myth that assist in making sense of what is happening in our lives has become some gift that few can tell. This is a dear price to pay indeed and I’m not just talking about birthing mothers. We all suffer from this loss.An interesting note is how in little villages, which provide support in all areas of life, there is less crime. Each person knows his neighbour and interacts with him on a daily basis. This is probably true for all the members of the village; everyone would know everyone else whereas today in our mega-metropolis we seldom know our neighbours let alone those in the complex where we live. So where do we find our support?Tough one. Even if you have a large group of friends you will be hard pressed to find a buddy that would support you in the deepest, darkest moments of your life. It would be a true friend that would be with you as you flounder in the sea of bankruptcy or something equally trying. The same is true when it comes to providing support after you have birthed your precious child. I don’t see many friends cueing up to provide shopping assistance for the new family or laundry services. What about cleaning? We all just assume that everyone has a maid. Not true. There are still those that clean up after themselves and do their own laundry and ironing.Having a baby should be a community affair. People should all be supporting and encouraging these new parents-to-be. Support before the baby is born can be provided in many ways.
Here are some tips how to help someone you know is having a baby:

  • Provide accurate and positive information about birth and parenthood (no birth horrors, please)
  • List things that were truly useful for you if you’ve had a baby. There is so much that really isn’t needed.
  • Invite the couple out once in a while to still enjoy activities such as eating out at a restaurant, going to a movie etc.
  • Prepare meals that can be frozen so that the mom-to-be can just take them out of the freezer when she is having a slow day. (Pregnant women have some really low days where everything seems too big an effort).
  • Celebrate the mother’s journey into motherhood with a Blessingway instead of a baby shower. Presents are showered on the mother in honour of her transition in this rite of passage.
  • Do not call her three times a day to ask her if she has had the baby yet. The new parents will be the first to let everyone know when the baby is born. Have faith in this, it has worked every time.
  • Avoid asking her if she has popped yet. She is not a pimple but a human giving birth to her baby.

 Support for during labour:

  • Light a prayer candle in honour of her journey.
  • Sms or call another person she knows to let them know that labour has begun and that they should light a candle foe her and call someone else to do the same.
  • Prepare more meals for the new family so that they can babymoon for a week or two after their precious baby has arrived and not worry about cooking.
  • Do not call for updates; no-one will be answering anyway.
  • Buy a newspaper of the day the baby was born as a sweet memory of what was happening in the world that day.

Tips for after the birth:

  • Volunteer to take care of some aspect of daily life, i.e. cleaning, laundry, shopping, babysitting older children etc.
  • Prepare a baby welcoming ceremony to give presents to baby this time. Now everyone will be sure whether it is a boy or girl.
  • Do not ask what you can do for them, just do it. They will never want to bother you but if you spontaneously rock up at the door with a casserole you can bet your boots that they won’t turn you away.
  • Do not forget them as the months go by. They may have their hands full and not get a chance to go out. Organise a trip to the movies for them in the morning when there is less likelihood of a baby crying interrupting others viewing pleasure otherwise it will be years before they go to the movies again.

Of course support can be extending to the actual birth itself. A doula is an amazing support for both mom and dads in labour. Consider paying for a doula as a blessingway present.Now, as it was probably never said, go out and be supportive.