It is TIME for a REVOLUTION in the way we THINK & CREATE!
It is TIME to create JOY & EMPOWERMENT rather than PAIN & STRUGGLE!
TOGETHER we can move mountains and shift GLOBAL consciousness to LOVE rather than FEAR
JOIN me as I explore this concept.

Wednesday 5 December 2012

Childbirth Without Fear

Childbirth without Fear!
“The Joy of Life must be the vision of motherhood, instead of the fear of death that has clouded it since civilisation developed”
Grantly Dick-Read[1]
Childbirth without Fear: what does that look like? 
Most mothers approach birth with anything from a phobic stir to debilitating, paralysing fear.  This fear can either be instinctual or learned through popular beliefs and expectations or a combination of both. 
We live in a culture that teaches women to FEAR what is essentially a natural, physiological function.  A function that a woman’s body is perfectly designed to do, if it is left undisturbed and allowed to unfold in its own way into the birth process.  Women are not taught the physiology of natural birth and often are offered the medical model of birth as the only viable option available to them.
I believe there was a time in history when women approached childbirth without fear.  They revered and trusted their bodies and they accepted that sometimes death is part of birth, each reflecting a transition from one state to another.  Birth was women’s business and men did not interfere with this sacred process.
Man has been tampering with the birth process for thousands of years. Lack of understanding of the natural physiology of birth, the Christian notion that suffering in childbirth was retribution for the sins of Eve, the adoption of the lithotomy (on back) position all contributed to higher pain levels, increased mortality rates and escalating fear.  This has led to the highly medicalised, interventionist style of birth that most of the developed world practices today.
In 1945, an obstetrician called Grantly Dick-Read wrote a book titled as above, Childbirth without Fear.  It is a remarkable tome of wisdom for which he received little credit and was quickly marginalised by the money making obstetric machine.  It came about when his notion of childbirth was challenged in 1920, by a young, working class girl, who, when he asked her if it was too painful, she replied, “It didn’t hurt doctor, it wasn’t supposed to was it?”
Her question shocked him and made him reconsider everything he had ever believed about childbirth.  He realised that there is no other physiological function of the human body that is painful under normal conditions.  Pain always communicates that something is wrong.  It is the body’s ultimate protection against damage.  He was now puzzled, why then did birth create so much pain and why did it create different levels of pain for every woman?
He studied the anatomy and physiology of birth and concluded that in fact, birth should not be painful under normal conditions.  He deduced that the pain, perceived or real, was caused by excessive tension in the body.  The tension was created by the expectation of PAIN through the emotion of FEAR.  He called this the FEAR-TENSION-PAIN syndrome.
“The most important contributory cause of pain in otherwise normal childbirth is FEAR”[2]
He realised that the presence of fear and the physiology that it creates was contraindicated to natural, painless childbirth.  Fear puts the body into a state of extreme alert, the ‘fight or flight’ syndrome, whereby adrenaline is released into the bloodstream causing blood to be diverted from the major organs to the extremities, tension in the muscles to increase strength and speed and inhibition of all the ‘birthing’ hormones; oxytocin, beta endorphins and prolactin.  In the mammalian brain, survival takes precedence over everything else, including birth.
He started to test his theory on his patients and he quickly discovered that if he reduced the levels of fear in the women that he assisted, he reduced the levels of pain and the birth proceeded far more quickly and effectively.  After over 20 years of seeing the positive benefits his approach to childbirth was creating, he wrote the book.
Initially his book had an impact, however in the post war capitalist expansion period it was soon swallowed up by the power, money hungry machine that is modern medicine.
The etymology of fear in childbirth is well explored and explained in his five Sources of fear in childbirth.[3]
  • Judgements of others about our ability (mothers, husbands, friends)
  • Anecdotal evidence from relatives and friends
  • Public opinion
  • Past Evidence from own experience
  • Experts opinion (medical, usually male)
You only need examine the actions of other mammals to see where humans are going wrong.  Birth is not a learned response; it is a primal, instinctual, physiological response that is in place to ensure the successful propagation of the species.  The lack of trust in the ability of a woman’s body has led to the development of all manner of interventions in a misguided view that they are helping the birth process.
Humans require the same conditions to be in place, as do our furry friends.  The primary and most important condition is the perception of safety.  The notion of safety is being in a familiar, secluded space where birth can proceed undisturbed and unobserved.  I don’t know about you, however, my understanding of the hospital environment does not fulfil those requirements.
The medical, pharmaceutical, insurance and legal industries thrive on creating FEAR amongst individuals, governments and corporations.  Fear drives profits as their products and services are consumed just in case something goes wrong.  We are disconnected from our own inner wisdom and power for, healing, birthing and taking responsibility for our own actions.
We need to get back to the understanding that doctors and equipment do NOT birth babies, women do!  Therefore women need to be in control of their own choices and their own bodies.  The Fear machine, driven by legal liability has created the situation where a woman cannot choose how, where and with whom she gives birth without being subject to legal and social ramifications.
I have had three empowered, drug free, stitches free homebirths and in each one, I can see where my own instinctual and learned fears played a part during the labour and birth, causing discomfit and longer labours than necessary.  Although my children’s births were amazing, empowering and ecstatic, I did not achieve what I now believe is every woman’s right, a pain-free, sensual, orgasmic birth.  Why? 
  • I had NO notion that it was possible! 
  • EVERYONE had told me that birth was painful!
  • I was unaware that past negative sexual experiences and “Victorian” inhibitions about natural bodily processes could adversely effect the birth process
  • I had NO knowledge about the exquisitely balanced ‘cocktail of hormones’ that are released during natural birth that once surrendered to will create higher levels of ecstasy.  Resistance is what causes pain!
I only had my gut instinct and my intense dislike of doctors and hospitals leading me to birth in this non-medical, non-interventionist way.  I triumphed over a system that has gone wrong, however I know that if I was to birth another baby now, I could take it all the way and achieve the type of birth nature intended, calm, joyful, sensual and orgasmic.  In an ideal world the holy triad of my husband, my baby and myself would be the only ones present during the birth with a midwife standing by in case of the need for assistance.  This new being would be welcomed in the same way that he/she was created, in love and ecstasy!
I am telling YOU that it is possible! This is the natural birth right of every woman!
Together we can shift the consciousness around birth, we can demand autonomy over the birth process and we can create ‘Childbirth without Fear’ for the generations to come! 
It might just change how we live and relate on this earth?

[1] Childbirth without Fear, Grantly Dick-Read, P6
[2] Childbirth without Fear, Grantly Dick-Read, P 45
[3] Childbirth without Fear, Grantly Dick-Read, P77

Friday 9 November 2012

What do you Believe?

I was recently in Estonia and treated by my friend to a full sauna treatment in her own home.  As we went through the pre cleaning, scrubbing and washing rituals, I was reminded of similar experiences I have had in Turkish baths, Moroccan hamams and Balinese well being centres. When my friend mentioned that it was a cheap way of cleansing because she used natural, inexpensive products like salt and honey and that she had no need to use expensive skin lotions or hair products, a light bulb went on.  Of course, the western world is not going to adopt these more traditional, natural methods because there is no money to make in it. 
The experience of being in these totally wet rooms where water is liberally splashed around and bodies are scrubbed and cleansed with real intention and nudity is natural, is so liberating.  My experience has always been in bathrooms where the wet area is limited to the bath or shower and I am fearful to get the others areas wet.
As she explained the theory behind the rituals, I realised that previously I had always treated these types of experiences as a one off event as part of my travelling adventures and an aberration to my normal bathing/cleansing habits.  I had never considered that I should actually change my western, commercial and inhibited ways to these more liberated and natural methods of cleansing and purifying.  My conditioning led me to believe that bathing for short periods every day, alone, with no rituals and using expensive products was the only way possible for me. 
I grew up in a transplanted European culture that had no connection to the land it had taken over and instead of embracing the indigenous peoples and acquiring local knowledge of how to live off this new land, they hunted and persecuted them almost out of existence.
This led me to consider the current global birth crisis and I realised that it was the same conundrum.  Women who have been brought up listening to stories about technological, hospital births and have been born that way themselves, are going to dismiss an unassisted, natural homebirth as an aberration.  They are not going to consider that it is a safe and valid choice.  They are not going to be able to bypass their conditioning to believe that they could actually do this too!
The “system” doesn’t want women to adopt a low tech, natural, homebirth because then they would not make any money, birth is big business!  The “system” has to feed itself and its beliefs to keep everyone contributing to its money making machine!  The “system” keeps us fearful and disempowered so that we need it!
I believe that when a woman goes within, she discovers that all she needs resides inside her, her body is perfectly created to give birth without drugs, hospitals, doctors or medical procedures.  She can create whatever she desires when she opens to love rather than contracts in fear.  Love opens psychically and physically, allowing the baby safe and gentle passage into this world!
What do you believe?

Tuesday 2 October 2012

A litte bit of knowledge goes a long way

This week I received a beautiful and totally inspiring birth story from a friend in Estonia.  This brave young woman gave birth to her second baby in an ambulance in the middle of a harsh Estonian winter on the way to the hospital.

The writer of this story is young and shows a maturity far beyond her years as she uses the knowledge that she has gained about birth from her own experience, her doula and her studies in Source Process & Breathwork to guide the very inexperienced and unknowledgable paramedics who helped to deliver her second baby.

She had acquired a great deal of knowledge about calm, natural births and she also had a strong belief that this was the way she wanted to birth her child.  Each time the paramedics tried to make her do something that didn't resonate with her own knowledge, she very calmly and insistently showed them another way, her way.  In the end, the only choice the paramedics had was to step aside and allow her to give birth in all her own power, without drugs, interventions or other medical intrusions.

This is her summary of the experience;

I think the most suitable word for describing this birth is empowering. I have even more trust in my body, in my children’s bodies, in the human body alltogether, therefore in being physical. I know that I have a choice, a power to choose, a power to create. I have more faith in medicine, because I feel I can choose how to make medicine work for me, not against me. I don’t have to be a victim of doctors, we can be partners if we are open for a dialogue. I saw even more clearly that there is a working connection between everything and everyone. Giving birth was meant to be satisfying, wonderful, amazing, transforming. I sometimes have dreams about giving birth, they are always very enjoyable and I wake up a smile upon my face.
It surely shifted my own conciousness about birth and I am quite sure it made a big difference for all the mothers and babies who these paramedics have helped after this experience. Kertu’s birthstory started spreading quickly, at first in the hospital and among friends and now I have heard it even from a complete stranger who I met in a breatsfeeding seminar. I hope it will help especially women to trust, respect and cherish themselves and the natural process. I hope it will encourage a dialogue between mothers and medics. I hope that some mother who has heard it, has a little bit more courage to stand up for her and the baby’s right to experience childbirth in its full glory.

I am in awe and total respect for you Anni V.
Readers of this blog, please send this to your friends, let others know that birth truly can be awesome and knowledge and self belief are the keys!

Wednesday 19 September 2012


A transition is the point where one thing or state changes to another.

Birth & Death are transitions to and from the physical plane. If you accept that your essence of being is infinite with the ability to transition between the physical & the spiritual, then there is no place for fear.

Instead of resisting and fighting these profound transitions, you can embrace and welcome them with excitement and joy.

Imagine a world where death is celebrated like birth and birth is revered like death!

A transition is often a time of weakness and vulnerability. This is only temporary as your true power lies on the other side and all that is required is persistence and patience.

For the labouring woman, transition occurs between the cervix opening and the urge to push. Many women report feeling emotional, vulnerable and overwhelmed. They often feel like they can't do it and it is a time where encouraging support is required. The baby, too, must feel vulnerable and apprehensive as their journey to be born reaches it's climactic stage.

People who have observed death, particularly of the aged or ill, report that at the time the person transitions from life, a contented and peaceful expression passes over their face relieving their facial features of worries, age or pain.

Next time you experience a transition, albeit a minor one, remember to embrace it with excitement and joy and leave fear behind!

Sunday 9 September 2012

Birth - Nature's Way

If you have ever had a pet or observed animals in their natural habitat giving birth, you will have knowledge on the key components of successfully giving birth without external aid.
Typically animals birth their young at night under the cover of darkness as a form of security and the desire not to be observed.  They find isolated, protected places for the same reason.  The act of giving birth will take all their energy and focus so they will not be able to protect themselves or their newborns if they are attacked.  Our cat gave birth the other day to 6 kittens, it was her fourth litter and each time she has found a different "safe" place to give birth undisturbed!
Animals do not have obstetricians, midwives, birth manuals, birth preparation classes or partners to tell them what to do, they instinctually trust that their body's know how to birth and they relax into the process.  

Human beings are part of the animal world and we operate with many of the same instincts.  If left to go into labour spontaneously, most women, especially first time mums, will labour and birth during the night.  We too want to feel safe and unobserved during labour and birth.  Having a baby in hospital, in an unfamiliar environment, surrounded by strangers, under bright lights, being monitored and observed constantly must place most labouring women into "stress" mode.  This stress or fear activates her"fight & flight' system, releasing adrenaline into the system, which creates the opposite physiological effect to the one required to birth naturally.

Most women "choose" to go to hospital because they believe that it is the safest place to birth.  For many decades now we have been told that women need doctors, hospitals, pain killing drugs, monitoring machines and interventions to be able to successfully birth their babies safely.

The majority of women do not need any of those things to birth naturally and safely.  
What they need is:
  • a secure, safe environment
  • to be mostly unobserved
  • trust in their own bodies
  • support by significant others in their life
  • to be uninhibited so they can access their primal self
In the forty years since birth has moved primarily from the home environment to the hospital environment, there has been no significant improvement in maternal and infant mortality rates, in fact in some countries the maternal mortality rate is on the rise.  What has increased is the number of surgical births, now 30-40% in most developed countries and even as high as 80% in Brazil.  It was only 5% of births in 1970.  The use of synthetic hormones has increased astronomically and many women experience traumatic, painful and deeply dissatisfying births.

Women all around the world are being denied their right to birth in Natures Way.  Many are convinced that they need unnecessary surgery and interventions.  The trend is getting much worse and the potential exists that surgical birth could completely replace Natural birth!
The time to act is NOW!
It is time to reclaim birth - Nature's Way

Monday 27 August 2012

Freedom for Birth

Freedom For Birth is a 60 minute campaigning documentaryfeaturing a Who's Who of leading birth experts and international Human Rightslawyers all calling for radical change to the world's maternity systems.  

Made by Britishfilmmakers Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford, Freedom For Birth filmtells the story of an Hungarian midwife Agnes Gereb who has been jailed forsupporting women giving birth at home. One of the home birth mothers  supported by Ms Gereb decided to take astand.

Hermine Hayes-Klein, US lawyer and organiser ofthe recent Human Rights in Childbirth Conference at the Hague, the Netherlandssays, “the way that childbirth is being managed in many countries around theworld is deeply problematic. Millions of pregnant women are pushed intohospitals, pushed onto their back and cut open. They are subject to unnecessarypharmaceutical and surgical interventions that their care providers openlyadmit to imposing on them for reasons of finance and convenience. Women aroundthe world are waking up to the fact that childbirth doesn't have to be likethis and it shouldn't. Disrespect and abuse are not the necessary price ofsafety”.

When pregnant with hersecond child, Anna Ternovsky took her country to the European Court of HumanRights and won a landmark case that has major implications for childbirtharound the world.

There will be over 1000 screenings of this landmark film on Thursday September 20th 2012.  Log on to www.freedomforbirth.com to find out if there is a screening near you.

I will be screening this film on Thursday October 4th at my home in South West France. 

Monday 6 August 2012

Inspiring Story

The other night I had the priviledge and the honour to meet Olympic Gold Medallist, Kristin Armstrong.  On the night that she successfully defended her Beijing Time Trial Title, she paid tribute to her coach and family for supporting her and believing in her.
Kristin shared that with only 22 months before the Olmpics, her coach convinced her to return to training only months after the birth of her first child.  It was a struggle to get her recently pregnant body to respond to the rigours of training, however both her and her coach persevered and were richly rewarded with an amazing success.

To win one Gold Medal is an awesome achievement in itself, however to defend your title to win Gold again only two years after having a baby is truly inspiring.

Kristin shared with me that actually the birth of her child was a wonderful experience and extremely easy with only one hour of full labour.  She consciously chose not to attend birth preparation classes as she felt they engendered too much anxiety in first time mothers.  The belief Kristin had in herself surely contributed to her easy and joyful birth.


Monday 23 July 2012

How has your BIRTH influenced you?

Birth is one of most important events in our lives.  It shapes our future and most of us are unaware of how and why.  It is the point that we transition from a water mammal to an air breathing mammal.  It is our first experience with physical and emotional change.  Although many of us don’t realise it, at birth, we were conscious and making decisions.
What happened at your birth?
How might the events of your birth have influenced the way you are today?

Thursday 7 June 2012

Birth - Our first experience of CHANGE

Birth is one of most important events in our lives.  It shapes our future and most of us are unaware of how and why.  It is the point that we transition from a water mammal to an air breathing mammal.  It is our first experience with physical and emotional change.  Although many of us don’t realise it, at birth, we were conscious and making decisions.
What happened at your birth?
How might the events of your birth have influenced the way you are today?

Monday 13 February 2012

Birth Without Violence: Trailer

Frederic Leboyer has been talking about birth from the baby's perspective for over 30 years. He acknowledges both the innate wisdom and consciousness of the newborn baby. I am grateful that I was shown his film at school when I was 15 and it created in me a desire to have beautiful births. I didn't understand what that meant at the time and I always thought I would be in a hospital or birth centre, however it was something that I drew deeply on once I actually became pregnant over 20 years later.

Friday 3 February 2012

Breech Home Birth

Finding out our baby was breech completely rocked my world.  I couldn't believe that my perfect home birth was not going to happen.  I was so committed to having a home birth that I started to research everything that I could about natural breech birth.  I found out a lot of things in that research and the most important was that the reason most hospitals in the western world recommended a c section for breech babies was due to the findings of a 30 year old Canadian study.  I then discovered that the Canadian study was flawed in its design.  The women used often had other conditions such as pre eclampsia or placenta praevia and that the women were in a hospital situation, being monitored, lying on their backs and not being allowed to move around.  All factors that are contra indicated for a breech birth.  It is any wonder that a C section turned out to be the safest option.  I couldn't believe that no more recent or better designed research had been undertaken since this one flawed study.  As far as the medical profession was concerned, this was a definitive study and 30 years later, trainee obstetricians were accepting its validity without question or exploration.  I had the pleasure of meeting one such trainee obstetrician at Guys hospital in London.  He was trying to convince me that I should have my baby in hospital.  I responded with "As soon as I walk in these doors you will have me on my back and on the way to theatre for a c section before I can even draw breath"  He spluttered and then said indignantly, you can try and have your baby naturally and then he quoted the Canadian study.  I told him what I knew of the study and then he threw in his trump card, "Well if you are willing to risk the life of your unborn child....."  At this I nearly exploded in rage and stormed out of the hospital, more determined than ever to birth her at home!
I also read from cover to cover Maggie Bank's book, Breech Birth, Woman Wise.  Her incredible wisdom and experience convinced me once and for all that I could birth my breech baby at home.  The only issue was that I had to hire independent midwives.  I feel so incredibly grateful that we were financially able to afford two very experienced midwives, who offered us the most wonderful support from the moment we hired them @ 36 weeks to several weeks after the birth.
Their confidence, calm demeanor and wisdom in birth allayed all of our fears, even my mother's.  I then just had to grit it out while friends from all around offered all manner of judgements, fears and "just you wait until you are screaming for an epidural".  I metaphorically put my fingers in my ears and went la, la, la, la, la.

Interestingly, Zenya's birth was my most text book, everything progressed just like all the books said and she was born safely at home in "normal" time frames for a first baby.  At no stage did I feel the need for pain relief or other interventions.  Even though I had never birthed a baby before, my body instinctively knew what to do.  Second stage (pushing) was a little long at 2 1/2 hours and I know now that was due to me holding back.  The energy and power of the contractions so blew me away that I felt that I couldn't completely go with them in case my body ripped in two.  Once I decided to really work with the energy then everything happened and she was born 20 mins later.  The difference with a breech delivery is that you have to birth ALL of the baby as the largest part, the head, comes last, however as my midwife told me, there is an advantage to having the smaller part pave the way and create the opening just like a wedge.
The Moral of this story is DON'T just accept what you are told at face value, do your own research.  The truth is you don't have to have a lot of knowledge about natural birth to know more than most of the physicians and obstetricians out there.  Remember their expertise is trauma and surgery!

Why I Chose to birth my babies at Home!

Two years before I became pregnant with my first child, I undertook training to become a holistic practitioner.  During the training I learned about the "power of the mind".  I also learned that we are "conscious beings" from even before we are born and that a baby is consciously aware of the birth process, although the memories are supressed and held in the subconscious.  When I was 16, I had an experience which changed my perception of the medical profession and the safety of hospitals.  I badly injured my knee, my parents insisted that I consult our local GP, although all the sporting professionals and Phys Ed teachers at my school said that I should go to an "expert".  As my parents paid the bills, I had to go along with their wishes.  Our GP completely misdiagnosed my knee injury which led to me further damaging it and requiring a major operation.  During my two weeks in hospital, I experienced less than expert or compassionate care from the nursing staff, I contracted a Golden Staph infection and experienced far more pain and discomfort than I should have.    I concluded that the medical profession are not always "right" and that hospitals were not nice places to be.  This contributed to my willingness to avoid the medical profession when it came to birth, especially as I realised that birth is not a "medical" condition.  I did not want to put myself at the mercy of others, especially those who did not have the same beliefs about birth as I did.

After I married, I started reading birth literature and Christiane Northrup's book "Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom" had a profound effect on me.  Her chapter on pregnancy and birth was all I needed to convince me that as long as all things were normal, then a home birth was the best way to birth a child.  The fact that she was an obstetrician and not just an alternative health practitioner helped convince me of the truth in her words.  I asked my husband to read the relevant chapters and he agreed to support me in regards to having a home birth.  I was elated and some months later when I found out I was pregnant, it was a no brainer and we signed up for the community home birth midwifery program.  The rest is history as they say!

Wednesday 1 February 2012

TRUST is the KEY

Human beings have been created with the most amazing physical capabilities.  A woman's body has been designed to grow another human life and also to birth that new life into the world.  In Ancient cultures this was a well recognised and celebrated fact.  Women were revered and considered extremely powerful because of their ability to a) bleed without dying (menstruation) and b) give birth to a new life. What has happened between then & now? Over the millenia we have completely lost trust in the female body's ability to give birth naturally.  Women in the developped world have so little TRUST in their own bodies, so little faitb in their own intuition that they place all their POWER & TRUST in the hands of the medical professionals.  Obstetricians, doctors, nurses and even a lot of midwives these days are not trained in Natural birth.  They expect something to go wrong and they don't understand the unique and perfect physiology of a natural, uninterruupted birth.  The "birth system" is so perfectly balanced and sensitive, that any interruption or intervention to it causes it to stop functioning properly.  This is where we get the scenario that one intervention then leads on to another and then another until the system has completely shut down and a c section or forceps delivery is the result with both mother and baby traumatised and disempowered.
Things that interrupt the "birth system" can be going to the hospital, being induced, being monitored, drugs of any kind, epidurals, not having freedom of movement, lying on your back, change of support staff, loud noises, harsh smells.  Anything that increases the mother's level of fear or anything that interferes with her natural hormonal response to birth will disrupt this perfectly balanced system.
It is TIME for women to once again learn about their own bodies and TRUST in its ability to birth.

Monday 30 January 2012

There is another CHOICE

I became aware that there was another choice about how we birth our children in the couple of years leading up to the birth of my first child in 2001.  The information that I was reading led me to realise that doctors, hospitals and medical intervention were actually not a necessary part of the birth process.  What I needed most was a SAFE environment and TRUST in my own body to birth my baby.  When I became pregnant soon after, I chose to birth at home with a midwife.  My husband supported me and as I was living in England at the time, the system also supported me.  I could use the local community midwives who would attend me pre & post natally at home.  This choice was then challenged when my baby was diagnosed as BREECH (bum first) at 32 weeks.  My world was thrown into turmoil and I researched everything I could about breech birth and I decided that I could still birth this baby at home without medical assistance.  My midwives couldn't support me as the NHS insisted that all breech births be in a hospital and highly recommended (read insist) that they be by caesarean section.  I found independent midwives to support me for a natural breech delivery (for a fee of course). My baby was born safely and beautifully at home on 30th November 2001.  The energy and power that I experienced through this completely natural, drug free, intervention free, stitch free birth supported my belief that THERE IS ANOTHER CHOICE!
I ask all of you who read this blog to join me in the revolution of BIRTH.  It doesnt' matter whether you have ever birthed a baby, it doesn't matter whether you suffered traumatic births, it doesn't matter whether you delivered your baby by C section, we can all join together to HEAL and REVOLUTIONISE BIRTH