Should We Be Proud Of Giving Birth Without Pain Relief?

Oh dear. Harry Kane is in trouble. With the announcement of the new baby Kane came his declaration of pride in his fiancée, Kate Goodland, for giving birth with no pain relief, and mentioning that they used Hypnobirthing.
There have been expressions of outrage from women, demanding to know why on Earth it should be something to be proud of.
So what are we saying?
The feminist in me is standing by those women, feeling a bit grated by a man setting the bar for a uniquely feminine experience. I hear them asking, “who are you to suggest we are somehow LESS if we got the epidural?!”.
Because really I think this is where the outrage is generated- a sense that if going drug free is something to be proud of, then taking all the drugs is something to keep quiet about, to feel shame or guilt about.
Clearly, thats not on.
But I don’t think that’s what he’s saying at all.
They already have another child, and I can’t find anything detailing how that arrival went, so let me offer you some conjecture that fits the pattern of so many women I work with the second time round.
They go into the first one naive to their conditioning. Naive to the ridiculousness of the maternity system- the lack of continuity, of evidence, and sometimes of compassion. They are led by fear, by risk and unwavering compliance.
Their experiences are often traumatic (sometimes for both parents), on account of a lack of bodily autonomy, knowledge about their options, or the fact that they even have any.
The ONLY pain relief options they understood were pharmacological, and came with the accompanying cons as well as the obvious pros. They weren’t heard. They had no other coping strategies and felt ruined and degraded by the whole experience.
And so they come to us, seeking something better. Does better mean no drugs? Sometimes, for them, yes. Sometimes it means all the intervention- an elective C-section that’s planned in detail to optimise for them and their babies.
What I believe Harry Kane is trying to express is his utter delight at seeing the woman he loves birthing on her terms. There’s no feeling like it, especially if previously you’ve lived through the other scenario, and looked back with regret. It may not always mean ticking off the dream checklist- circumstances can shift, pregnancy and labour can be unpredictable.
But when you’re equipped to make informed and empowered choices, you can STILL feel like the absolute fucking Goddess that you are- because all of it was YOUR CHOICE, and you got the best possible birth for you, in your circumstances. This is positive birth.
We have to get comfortable talking about our differential positive births, without taking them as a slight on us if we did something different. It’s HAS TO be ok for one family to be proud of their drug free birth, and another to be proud of their planned or unplanned C-section or instrumental delivery.
(Incidentally, I wonder whether we would have seen any backlash at all if he had praised her for her bravery in a high intervention delivery?).
Because ALL birth takes courage. And what I believe we should be proud of is twofold.
1. The incredible capacity of our bodies to create new life and bring it into the world, with or without help at any stage of the process.
2. The brilliance of our minds in cultivating an experience that leave us personally empowered in our own unique way.
It’s not a competition. Your own informed and equipped way is more than ok. So is theirs.
Let’s get really committed to a future where all women, and their partners, are entitled to celebrate their ownership of welcoming their child into the world, without judgement. One where the rest of us can thank them for showing the next generation that it’s possible to enter into parenting energised by our power, and in awe of each other. One where we, as women, can recognise that we know nothing of each other’s personal struggles, and simply be proud of each other.
If you want to get ready to give birth in whichever way is right for YOU – be that all the drugs, or no drugs – head to the courses page here to see everything we have available for you.
Keri x

Discover Like A Mother

You know by now that we are huge advocates of you making informed choices when it comes to birth, and that we love to have conversations about how to make the right decisions for yourself in different situations.

I’m also keen for families to enjoy exploring how they can continue make informed choices about things which can affect not only themselves, but the country and the planet.

It can be easy as an individual to forget the impact your choices can have – both negatively and positively. That there are literally millions of other people on the planet who may be thinking the same thing ‘I’m just one person’, ‘its just one straw’ or even ‘well I can’t not use a tampon can I!’.

When you consider that just one person x a million = 1million people; that just one straw x a million = 1million straws; or that actually, there ARE more options than mainstream sanitary protection, its easy to see why making even the tiniest changes can have a huge impact when it’s replicated by others. You have to BE the change, to SEE the change!

I am always talking and learning about this stuff (I mean did you know that they can make straws out of old seashells now?! I didn’t until this Saturday when I saw a poster in our local pub’s toilet announcing that that’s what they’re using now – and I need to dig deeper into this!) and we are taking steps towards improving our choices as a family all the time which means we are not perfect, and I’m actually not striving to be – because we have a life, we live in a fast paced society, and striving for the impossible is just silly!

But I am SUPER excited to be opening up our gorgeous space, the HQ, on a monthly basis to other families interested in Discovering how they can make choices which still work brilliantly for themselves, but are better for the Earth, other people, or animals. It’s going to be informal and friendly (as always!), a community of curious parents getting together in a safe space where conversation can flow, questions can be asked, and information & resources are shared. 

Everyone will have their own reason to be interested – it’s not always the wider benefits that intrigue people, although you may well be worried about Earth Overshoot Day moving earlier each year, or about the health of marine life; but perhaps you or your kids have sensitive skin and want to explore natural or organic skincare, maybe you are keen to throw less nappies away now your bin collection is fortnightly and the smell is bothering you, perhaps you’ve noticed that there is a lot of excess packaging when shopping in some places compared to others, or maybe you just want to save money rather than keep buying the same things again and again because they aren’t made to last. There is no right or wrong reason to join us!

Each session will have a focus, and I’d love you to tell me what things you are interested in covering. If it’s a topic you are familiar with and have something to offer – join us to share your wisdom. If its brand new to you and you don’t even know where to start – join us to ask your questions. A community requires people from all walks of life! Some sessions we will welcome guest speakers, others we may have a dabble at creating something ourselves (in which case there may be an extra fee for materials, or the needn’t to bring something along), but every session will be full of support and information, and served up with drinks and snacks!

I look forward to welcoming you to Discover Like A Mother on Saturday 18th August for the very first session – you can grab you space here now!

Steph x

Review – Kinder Feet Gummi Shoes

I’ve been eager to write this review, but felt I should hold off a little to give Florence a chance to try them, and to see if there’s anything I needed to add beyond the fact that I bloody LOVE them!

I also feel I owe a bit of a back story here because to me these aren’t just any old barefoot shoes, these are super special! I discovered Kinder Feet when Florence was a baby though a parenting group I’m on. I’d asked for barefoot friendly first shoe recommendations and there was an overwhelming response to check them out. so I did, and boy were they cute. There was so much to love about the brand as well as the shoes themselves.

Evi, who makes the shoes, is originally from Germany but now resides here in the UK, she started the company after struggling to find shoes as soft, comfy and good quality as the ones she found for her children in Germany. The shoes are made using the most ethical and eco friendly leather available with 100% traceability guaranteeing that no child labour or nasty chemicals have been used in its manufacturing process. So after falling in love with them virtually, I got in touch to have Florence’s first shoes made. Evi was attentive and so helpful when I was asking for advice on sizing and care, and nothing felt like too much trouble for her. The shoes are custom made, and arrived really quickly.

Evi had explained that as they were leather soled they weren’t really designed for outdoor use, but because Flossie was new to walking and not going far we used them outdoors and actually they were brilliant, and kept so well that they’re tucked away at home ready for when Lenny can use them! When she finally outgrew them she was walking more confidently and further distances and we wanted something with a slightly more robust sole. At the time Kinder Feet were only making leather soled shoes so we tried some other barefoot brands (for more on barefoot shoes check out my earlier blog here) but I would periodically check in on Kinder Feet and check if soled shoes were on the agenda… and they were, but it was not an easy process for Evi figuring out how best to attach a soft but sturdy sole!

About a year ago, after another (not so) subtle message, Evi said she though she might have cracked it but needed testers to try the design out – obviously I jumped at the chance and got a pair for Florence. They were awesome, and Florence adored how comfy they were, but there were still tweaks to be made. The soles didn’t adhere brilliantly and we had to reglue them a couple of times during their use. Despite that Florence found them incredibly comfy, quick and easy to put on, and they fitted for ages due to their generous cut and forgiving soft leather! Called them her Comfy Heart Shoes as they were red with navy hearts on the front.

As luck would have it, just as she outgrew them I saw the best Kinder Feet announcement – that soled Gummi Shoes were happening, they had been perfected and would be available very soon! I’d not long spent a decent amount of money on a pair of shoes for Florence and initially resisted buying, despite Florence regularly asking for ‘new comfy shoes, but yellow’, but when England won their match against Sweden in the World Cup Evi put out a discount code and the temptation was too much!

Evi was as always beyond helpful discussing sizing, adjusting the width for Flossie’s narrow feet, and providing tighter ankle elastics for her slender legs, and before you know it… New Comfy Yellow Shoes were en route!!

And they did not disappoint! Florence was over the moon when she saw them, and even after owning a couple of pairs before, I couldn’t get over just how buttery soft the leather on them is! The leather is such amaxing quality and despite being completely naturally dyed they are such a lovely bright sunny yellow colour.

The improved soles are perfect, a super thin (1.8mm to be precise) layer of rubber to protect the inner leather sole. the shoes were adjusted to fit Florence brilliantly – wide enough to have plenty of wiggle room for her growing feet, but not so wide they slide around inside. The elastics are just snug enough and the shoes are long enough that they will likely last a full year too. Currently they are on the very maximum ‘extra space’ suitable for a child and as such occasionally when running catches them.

I know that in 3 months time they’ll be even better than they are now, and they are already Florences ‘go to’ shoes! the lack of padding, heel, or arch support allows her full range of movement when running and climbing and they’ve already been put to good use outdoors. They were fabulous for running around the local Country Park, and she’s been able to easily climb at the local park as the shoes let her grip the rungs of ladders, or the rough terrain of hills and trees with ease.

Overall we are both incredibly happy with the shoes, and the service Evi provides. I can wholeheartedly recommend Kinder Feet if you are looking for completely customisable, ethical, eco-friendly, locally produced shoes (okay maybe not *local* local for us, but within the UK!). Oh and its not even just shoes. This talented lady also makes adorable clothes, and has recently teamed up with an incredible cloth nappy maker to bring our nappies to match her clothing line!

Where can you find these gorgeous shoes?

The Kinder Feet website can be found here

and the facebook page here. 

I apologise in advance for your bank accounts dwindling on account of all the gorgeous things your babies now need to be bought! Much love, Steph x

 

Why My Birth Plan Evolved Between Babies

Pregnant with my first baby in 2014, I discovered hypnobirthing. I was searching for something to help enable me to birth at home and avoid an epidural. I’d always been keen to have a homebirth for various reasons, but heard time and time again that I’d need the epidural once things got going – yet the idea of anything going in my spine was far worse than the idea of ‘pushing a watermelon out of my nostril’ as people would described it to me (FYI its NOTHING like that!! For a start your nostril is not designed with hundreds of tiny folds which are able to open up around a watermelon, neither does any part of it gradually soften and open at the top to facilitate this process…anyway, I digress.) so I knew I needed something, I just didn’t quite know what that thing was! I started to read about hypnobirthing classes locally but at the time I was unsure if they expense would be worth it, and as I was still working long hours & I would likely miss some of each of the classes for the 4 week duration, we decided against it.

At some point during my pregnancy I signed up to a pregnancy/mothering forum online, and I still remember the excitement at seeing a post asking for women to test out a new online hypnobirthing course. It could be accessed at any time, from anywhere, and because it was in its testing stage it was even free. The universe was looking after me and ensuring that this hypnobirthing stuff came into my life!

My pregnancy was fairly straightforward in terms of its progress, but I was labelled ‘high risk’ at my booking appointment due to my low BMI which meant I was given consultant appts and additional growth scans. I was able to use what I learned to help navigate the small hurdles along the way, and continued to plan a homebirth although I was advised against it around 20 weeks. By 32 weeks I had the homebirth ‘signed off’ by a consultant who was happy with baby’s growth and I began to think about my birth plan…

At the time I was 100% happy with it, I knew what kind of birth I was focussing on, and I ensured that all of those boxes were ticked when writing down what I was aiming for to help our midwives care for us on the day. It was quite detailed and very focussed on that one outcome.

Looking back as I approached my second labour, I couldn’t help but feel grateful that thing’s had (mostly) gone as planned, because I massively underprepared! Yes I was asked to transfer in as there was a staffing issue and we were able to navigate that with confidence, and yes I lost a reasonable amount of blood as I birthed my placenta – again negotiating remaining at home as I felt fine, didn’t need any treatment to stop the bleed, and didn’t really want to take my newborn into the hospital environment after a calm, empowering delivery in the comfort of our own home… but nothing happened which truly required me transferring in, or needing any intervention or surgery.

It struck me that especially now I knew more than before, that I hadn’t truly considered or planned for the very real possibility of needing to deviate from my plan. So if that had of happened, I would have been planless if that’s a word! I had no real idea how I would have ensured my transfer was as minimally disruptive to my labour as possible, or how I would have optimised a C-Section to suit myself if it was on the cards. I mean its likely I could have thought of some things to help on the day but it would have meant me engaging my neo-cortex (a real no-no for facilitating birth most comfortably) and conversing with my care team in detail which would have been far from ideal.

Part of the reason things went to plan first time around was of course my preparation, creating an optimal birthing environment for myself, having an engaged birth partner, remaining active etc, but I am not silly enough to ignore the fact that many things in labour are beyond anyone’s control, and that I had been gifted a good dose of luck and health too.

This time I wanted to make sure I had more eventualities covered, that I could hand over to Matt with confidence knowing we had discussed all the options, and that both he and our care team could refer to our written birth plan if needed. We had our Plan A, with even more detail than the first time around, but we also had a Plan B & C which covered transfer, care within the hospital environment, and my C-Section preferences. Of course I was hoping not to need them, but it was calming to know that if we did it was something we were clear about. That we had a plan, that Florence would be minimally disrupted, that Matt would know exactly how to support me in different circumstances.

So with knowledge comes change. My first birth plan wasn’t wrong, it was obviously exactly what I needed at that time, but with hindsight I saw room for improvement. Now as an antenatal teacher I urge all of my clients to consider what would be important to them if their plans deviate from their original hopes. Not because I want to scare them, or don’t have faith in them, but because ultimately labour is unpredictable and when something beyond your control happens, you need to be able to grasp the things you CAN control and feel good about the experience.

If you are looking for support with your birth prep, you’ve come to the right place! We have sessions available from as little as £10 right through to tailored private courses. Head to the courses page to find out more or book your space, or drop me an email – steph@doitlikeamother.co.uk

We look forward to supporting you on this exciting journey,

Steph xx

The hypnobirthing teacher, the midwife and the mother.

 

I want to write about this topic. I want to write about the current relationship that I have observed between these three roles. It’s intricate and delicate and, to be honest, it’s causing me a bit of an internal conflict- because I am all three of these things.

When I first qualified as a midwife, hypnobirthing wasn’t really a thing. It did exist but it certainly wasn’t mainstream. Most mums seemed to attend the local NHS antenatal classes or NCT classes. However, when it came to making decisions about their care, mums tended to rely very heavily on the advice of their midwife or obstetrician. Of course, I am generalising here and just sharing what I remember the majority of my experience being like back then.

Now- almost 6 years on, I think that things have shifted slightly. We have a new wave of antenatal education, in the form of hypnobirthing. It’s amazing- a new string to add the bow of techniques for mums to use when they give birth. I loved it so much, that when it came to my turn to give birth, I instantly knew that I would be using it. It worked an absolute treat for me and helped me through a very quick and intense birth.

So, why am I feeling this inner conflict?

Well, because I feel like the three roles are not working in harmony in the outside world.

The thing is, that when I think about these roles, I know that the most important one is (and always will be) that of the mother. She must be the centre point for all care and decisions. She must be the point that we all start from and she must always be our focus.

But we are not helping her. The world of birth is changing ( I believe for the better). Women are no longer expected to blindly conform to the local guidelines of a hospital, no longer expected to just do as they are told and no longer expected to make the decision that a doctor or midwife would like her to make, just for the sake of it. This is great. Informed maternal choice is the gold standard- what we should all be aiming for.

Instead- what is happening, is that midwives are being painted as these human beings that don’t care about normal birth, that want to intervene at any given opportunity and that are intent on ruining a calm birth experience. Whilst, hypnobirthing teachers are seen as the bringers of ‘dangerous’ decision-making, devout followers of normal birth at any cost and as creating unrealistic expectations for mums.

None of this is true.

I am a midwife and a hypnobirthing teacher and in both roles I want the same thing- for every mum to have the best birth experience she possibly can.

I think this is true for most midwives and most hypnobirthing teachers but I also think that both professions can, on occasion, cast doubt on the other.

What does this mean in reality?

It means that hypnobirthing teachers arm mums with the tools and knowledge they need to no longer fear birth itself but they leave them with a fear of midwives and doctors (the very people there to help- should they need to). It means that mums arrive ready to have their babies (and a fight with the staff- in order to get their wish list). It means that midwives are left feeling deflated, like an interference and a bother. Unable to build a meaningful bond with a mum for fear of disrupting the birth plan.

Of course, I am exaggerating slightly here and I am sure that this is not the experience of many but I am seeing this kind of thing more and more (both in online communities and in my day to day work too).

What I am trying to say is this… as a mum you have a voice, listen to those around you (your midwife, your doctor, your hypnobirthing teacher, your doula, your partner) but then listen to the voice inside of you. What feels right for you? Let go of the expectations of others and follow what you know is right for you. Don’t worry about wanting to birth how your hypnobirthing teacher would want you to, don’t worry about causing a fuss if you don’t want to go along with the suggestion of a doctor or a midwife. Own your birth experience- make it yours, birth the way that is right for you and #doitlikeamother.

And please, please, please remember that your NHS team are there to look after you, they are not there to pressure you into doing anything you don’t want to do, they are not there to persuade you into one unnecessary intervention after another. The vast majority of them do the job they do because they love people, they love caring for people and they want the best for you. Yes, there will be the odd bad egg out there (just as there is in any profession) but if this is the case, then ask for a different midwife.

 

 

If you’d like to learn about the hypnobirthing courses that we offer, check out our offerings available in Southend and Upminster under the ‘Courses‘ tab.

Period Pains vs Labour- THE TRUTH

Where to begin? I’ll start with a summary of my perspective (which I think could really help you out if you’re concerned about labour), then I’ll delve into it from a couple of angles…

Period pains are worse than labour.

More accurately, period pains are worse than the pain of surges (that’s contractions, if you’re new round here). Here’s 3 reasons why…

  1. Duration. I dunno about you, obvs, but my period pains begin the day before it arrives. They begin as a low level rumble, building up for the main event. On day 1, they can be overwhelming. I almost always pop a couple of paracetamol (paratroopers as they are affectionately known in my fam). And they are there ALL. THE. TIME. They start to ease off after about 24 hours on a good cycle. In labour, even if it goes on for 24 hours, most of the time you’re not having surges. During that time, you might be entirely pain free (this was true for me for lots of both my labours). Even if surges are really challenging, between them there is rest and recovery. Not so with the period pain.
  2. Purpose. I mean, yes, periods have a purpose, but it ain’t so profound as moving the human you grew out of your body. There’s massive benefit to keeping our eyes on the prize when our bodies are up against it- think about how anyone running a marathon may struggle, but find capacity to cope. Would they find the same resilience if it was an unmeasured, untimed, unrecorded solo run round where they live that no one would know about? Doubt it. Context is important.
  3. Focus. When you’re in labour, no one expects you to be doing anything else. It’s unique in that sense- the rest of life is on pause, and you’re able to employ any and all coping tools available to you. We teach couples 3 breathing techniques, massage styles, movement tactics, optimal postures for comfort, environmental cues for pain reliving hormone activation etc. When you have your period, life just goes on and you’ve gotta function as a mother, an employee, a business owner, wife, friend, whatever. You’re not helping yourself in the way you can in labour.

Hang on. I’m a hypnobirthing teacher, and I’ve used the P word (pain, I mean, not period- that’s not as taboo) loads of times. What’s the crack here? Aren’t we meant to avoid speaking about it? Yes. And no.

I do firmly believe that we should avoid talking about pain whilst IN labour- I don’t think there is any benefit to framing our experience of the surges with the p word. Instead, I suggest to our clients they think of the intensity of the sensations or the strength of the surges- more neutral, less scary, agreed?

But in the run up, I am honest with the women I work with- I don’t believe that all women can eliminate pain in labour. Yes- we can all reduce it SIGNIFICANTLY. I mean, SO MUCH that if we all understood this, our birth culture would be transformed within a generation. But eliminate? I don’t think so.

The pain we equip women to wave off is the created pain- that which exists as a result of fear and tension, suboptimal postures and crappy environments (in terms of all the senses, the people in it, etc). That’s a HUGE chunk.

But what’s left? The fact that you’re getting that human you made out of your body. “BUT YOU WERE MADE FOR IT!!”, cry the purists! Yep. But you weren’t made to sit down slouched for most of your waking life, to consume the type of food that’s available to us, to be so poorly hydrated, to be exposed to so many other unnatural substances.

We can’t be living thoroughly modern lifestyles for decades, then turn up for birth like, “BUT I’M AN ANIMAL!” and expect pain free. Periods can be painful. (Interestingly my crunchy friends who don’t use conventional sanitary products report less pain). Sex can be painful (notice that fine line there though between pleasure and pain). Exercise can be painful (same again).

I’m not going back on my advice to avoid the P word in labour. I’m not scaremongering you about the discomfort levels. I’m saying we should think about this absolutely logically and intelligently- not just choose the parts of the picture that suit us. Because if you expect hypnobirthing techniques to give you the same absolute relief as an epidural, and that’s not what you get- then what? You begin to feel confused, concerned, to blame yourself even- for not doing it right or trying harder. Ugh.

Our number one assertion is that ANYONE WHO IS GIVING BIRTH SHOULD ONLY KNOW HER POWER. No matter how it goes, you should be genuinely perplexed as to why no one is queuing up to kiss your feet, not second guessing your own worthiness because you didn’t live up to some unicorn-esque expectation.

Even if there is (probably some) residual pain, if you are prepared, you can perceive it in an entirely different way than you imagine. You can learn to own the sensations rather than them owning you- to be inspired and encouraged by your own capacity and strength, and to welcome what you feel.

When I think back to when Rory was born what I remember is certainly my power. I know, intellectually, that there was pain, but it was a tiny part of a much bigger, and very profound experience. I never once considered asking for the gas and air- not because I’d set myself any kind of challenge to do it without drugs, but because I’d cultivated a perspective where I didn’t want to eliminate the sensations- there were other ways to handle them.

Saying that, there are all sorts of reasons why you might opt for other forms of pain relief, and we support that, without judgement (because who the F are we to judge anyone for anything?). All we care about is informed choice.

To be frank, if I could get a 24 hour epidural on day 1 each month, without having to consider the impact on a labour or a baby, I’d probs go for it. Someone make that a thing.

If you’d like to know more about working with us, you can see our courses section here. You can find us on Instagram and Facebook 

Do It Like A Crunchy Mother – DIY Deodorant

So for some crazy reason last week I decided to have a go at creating my own natural deodorant, and test it on one of the hottest week’s of the year… I mean, I could possibly could have chosen a better time of year to try this, but hey – in for a penny in for a pound and all that!

I’ve been using a natural deodorant (a salt crystal one) for over a year now after opening my eyes to the ingredients used in my previous deodorants which I chose for their promise of supreme sweat protection, they seemed to function well only there were negative effects which can come hand in hand with the high level of effectiveness these ingredients offer. The brand I bought most religiously contains these three ingredients which I didn’t feel comfortable to continue using after looking into them:

  • Aluminium Zirconium Tetracholohydrex Gly – used for its ability to prevent sweat leaving the body by obstructing pores.
  • Dimethicone – a silicone based polymer which forms a plastic like barrier over the skin, it is known to dry skin out over time.
  • Hydroxyisohexyl 3-cyclohexene carboxaldehyde & Alpha-isomethyl ionone – fragrances which can care irritation to skin.

At times my skin would feel very irritated or stingy/itchy, other brands caused little pimple and redness, it was also difficult to remove the layer of product with gentle washing, so began to explore more gentle options. 

Also more recently I have become more aware of the questions surrounding the use of aluminium in products such as deodorant. Although there has been NO evidence based connection between the use of antiperspirants and breast cancer currently, it has been raised by some scientists that there MAY be a link. There has been research which suggests that regular use of aluminium based deodorants may have an estrogen-like effect on the body, and as breast cancers can be ‘fed’ by estrogen some scientists have suggested that aluminium based deodorant may contribute to the development of breast cancer or have a direct effect on breast tissue. The fact that there is no clear answer on this either way, leaves me preferring to choose not to use it until it is proven safe. (more info on this can be found at breastcanceruk.org.uk)

There is also research which shows that using antiperspirant deodorants can increase the smell causing bacteria living on your underarms whilst killing off the beneficial bacteria, so although you think you’ll smell less the opposite can be true, and at best you may not smell but are altering your body’s natural colony of healthy bacteria!

So decided to try making my own to reduce the nasties being put on my skin on a daily basis, and I figured I could reuse a glass jar and save myself some money in the process – win win if it worked! I’d already had a search for DIY deodorant recipes and there are loads, with varying ingredients. I opted for a super simple one with ingredients which can all (bar the optional essential oils) be found in most kitchens. I went for a small quantity to try in case it needed tweaking but it can of course be scaled up if you find it works for you:

5tsp coconut oil

4tsp arrowroot

3tsp bicarbonate of soda (you can use more if needed, or less if you have very sensitive skin)

And a few drops of your chosen essential oils

Simply mix all of the ingredients together! In warmer weather you may need to store it in the fridge / a cool place as the coconut oil can melt, then apply with clean fingertips as needed and leave to sink in for a few minutes before getting dressed.

The big question… DID IT WORK?!

YES!! We have had a mix of warm – hot weather recently (I think its been flitting between about 20-28c) and I have a chunky 16 week old who is worn in a sling quite a lot, so the potential for sweat is pretty high to be fair. I’ve found this to be just as effective as my last deodorant – perhaps even slightly better! On the really hot days, especially if wearing Lenny in the sling, I’ve sweated a little, and amount which feels healthy for my skin yet not uncomfortable – there have been no big underarm wet patches! And at the end of each day my underarms have either smelt of nothing at all, or slightly reminiscent of the essential oils I used. I’m calling this a successful first run. I may include a small amount of shea butter next time I make some to offer some moisturing/nourishing properties – I reduced the amount of bicarb compared to some recipes as it can be irritating to sensitive skin, I’ve not had any issue even after shaving, but I think it may be nice.

So that’s it – I guess I’m an official deodorant dodging hippy now haha Perhaps my little experiment will give some of you the push you need to try out making your own skincare products – I find it really rewarding to use things I have made myself for so many reasons. It really is super simple, and as someone who used to think I was a serious sweaty betty I’m very impressed with the results. Let me know if you try it, or have any other recipes/suggestions you like me to try!

 

Love,

Steph x

NEW Fundraising Partnership: SOSDAP

We have our Motherhood Night Out at Henry Burgers and This Mother Is Enough: Brunch with Lauren Derrett (herself a domestic abuse survivor). Details about the events and exactly what will go to the charity can be found by clicking the relevant links.
Thank you, as ever, for your solidarity in being the change we all wish to see in the world.
#doitlikeamother #doitlikeamotherhood

Do It Like A Crunchy Mother – Dental Care Gone Green

Dental Care Gone Green

Twice a day, every day, we brush our teeth. Four or more times a year we replace the toothbrush we use. Our toothpaste of choice is scrubbed around our mouths around 60 times a month, and although it’s largely spat out, I bet over a year a reasonable amount is consumed – and with a child that amount will be much greater despite a parents best intentions! Why I didn’t question the ingredients sooner I don’t really know – I suppose like with many things its assumed safety / necessity, but I decided a while back that it was time to make a change. We only ever used a tiny smear anyway, but I began to wonder if there was a more natural, or healthy alternative.
The first one I tried was Lush Tooth Fairy – a powder which you dip your wet brush into and use as normal. I personally didn’t love this, I wasn’t a fan of the taste and if I’m honest its probably still stuffed at the back of my bathroom cabinet unless Matt has got rid of it!
There were a couple of others we weren’t won over by, then we tried Aloe Dent Whitening which has no harsh chemicals, and has a great taste and texture – so that’s what we have been using for a while now as we are really happy with it, but I’m now on the scout for something which doesn’t require a plastic tube – I think I’ll have an experiment with making my own and come back to you if I find something I love!
One of the main factors for investigating more eco friendly brushes was seeing a photo online which was captioned to explain that each and every toothbrush ever made, is still on the planet somewhere – many of them have made it into our oceans and are causing marine life harm. It was a real eye opener. I worked out that we would get through well over 300 toothbrushes in our life (all being well on the longevity scale!), and decided it was an impact I was no longer prepared to have on the earth.
So the search began. There are loads of eco friendly toothbrushes available now with widely varying price tags, from the more mainstream brand the Humble Brush, which is made from bamboo with nylon bristles. They are sold in Waitrose as well as other highly street retailers for around £4, so they’re a great easy to access option.
We have been using the Environmental Toothbrush for ages now as we are able to buy them in bulk for a really reasonable price (they work out at under £2 a brush! They’re available online for around £3 too), they come in soft/medium/firm bristles as well as a kids sized brush. Their bristles are also nylon – so they’re obviously not 100% degradable but as with the humble brush you can simple snap the head off to put in the bin, and put the main part of the handle into compost.
If you want a fully compostable brush (and aren’t vegan!) you could look at wooden / bamboo brushes with boar bristles such  as the Naturborsten brushes which come in adult or child size and cost around £8.
We also tried the Jack & Jill biodegradable kids toothbrush but found the bristles too soft and they frayed too easily so we have returned to the kids Environmental toothbrush.
For Florence we use Organic Children’s Mint & Aloe paste, I wasn’t keen on the Aloe Dent kids one – the strawberry flavour wasn’t very fresh smelling, and the orange bubbles left a right mess on her clothes if she missed the sink!

People often ask if they’re as good… now I can’t speak for everyone, but we have found our teeth are as healthy as before, with much less of a negative heath / environmental impact. My dentist looked worried when I visited last year as he asked about what we use – I told him and he said I should worry more about my oral health than the environment as it is important (of course!) and said I should think about swapping to an electric toothbrush to help, then he looked inside my mouth and said he was impressed as my teeth were great, as were Florences 😀 so I’ve stuck to the bamboo brush and have had no issues.

Fancy making the change? There are so many options available, have fun experimenting and finding what makes you feel good whilst keeping your family’s teeth sparkling clean!

Steph x

Three surprising ways to know which phase of birth you are in…

OK, before I get started I obviously have to add a HUGE caveat, that this is by no means medical advice and that these things won’t apply to everyone- every birth is different, every mum is different and there never has been and never will be a one-size-fits-all measure of how close you are to meeting your baby. However, what I’m sharing is patterns that I have noticed in many of the births I have attended over the years. So, maybe read on and see- if you’ve given birth before, did these apply to you? If you haven’t, maybe you will see similarities when you do.

Let’s get started…

  1. The pattern of your surges (for those who aren’t into hypnobirthing- these are the powerful waves created by your uterus to birth your baby).

I don’t mean the timing of them. Traditionally, we are told that for first babies when your surges reach a pattern of 3 minutes from the start of one, to another, with each one being a minute long- that your cervix is probably 4cm dilated and that this means you should call the midwife. Well- as with everything this may be right for some, but not others.

What I have found to be a slightly more accurate way of telling is actually how each one feels. When each one feels consistently as strong as the last one and they are coming frequently and on a regular basis (i.e. not a 5 minute gap, then a 2 minute gap).

Often, when the cervix is still thinning out (click here to find out more about the changes that happen to your cervix throughout the birth)- surges are irregular in their length and strength, with one feeling particularly intense and long and then another feeling milder and shorter. Once the thinning of the cervix is complete, then you often find the surges become much more regular. This is normally around the same time as the cervix reaching approximately 4cm  (NB I could probably write an entire thesis on just how useless a measure of 4cm dilatation genuinely is but, for now, it’s the measure that is used in most UK hospitals to determine the onset of ‘established labour’, so this is why I am using this language here).

2) How much are you talking?

So, this one often comes next. Once the cervix has finished thinning out and is really beginning to open up, mums often ‘go within’. Meaning, that they are totally aware of what is going on around them but that they don’t really take part in conversation and respond in the usual way. For example- you may go from saying “Do you know? I really fancy a drink. I think I packed some elder flower cordial in the pink bag over there. Could you be ever so kind and pour me a drink please?” to “Drink… please.”. This is simply a sign that your body and your brain are focusing on the birth. Just think, when you’re exercising it becomes difficult to talk, you just focus on doing that next squat or getting to the next milestone. It’s the same in birth- talking takes energy (mentally and physically) and your body knows that all the energy you have has to be ploughed into the birth, so speaking  becomes low on the priority list.

3) How sleepy are you?

Of course, if the birth has been going on for a long time you will probably feel tired but even if it hasn’t many mums reach a point in the birth when they feel extremely sleepy. This is actually a really good sign and not necessarily a sign of exhaustion. What happens, often just before the baby begins to really descend into the pelvis for the downwards (or pushing) phase, is that the cocktail of hormones within the body bring on a sense of sleepiness. We often want to fight this- feeling as though we have to be alert and awake for the birth. But the best thing to do is to breathe through the surges and then rest, rest, rest in between. If you suddenly find yourself falling asleep- it could be that you are nearing this particular phase of the birth. Exciting!

So, there you have it. The three things that I have noticed over the years, that can give an indication to how close you are to meeting your baby. I’d be so interested to know if you experienced any of them (I think experienced all of them when I gave birth) and I’ve seen so many mums go through similar births too- and of course a whole host of other experiences that would certainly throw each of my musings out of the window!

 

 

If you’d like to learn more about birth, we have a whole range of resources- from more blog posts, to weekly relaxation classes, to whole hypnobirthing courses (groups and private). Just get in touch to find out what might suit you- Southend area (keri@doitlikeamother.co.uk or steph@doitlikeamother.co.uk) or Upminster area (chloe@doitlikeamother.co.uk).