Sunday, 18 March 2012

Mothering Sunday

This morning my youngest three woke me with the largest cup of tea I have ever seen and a scone with blackberry jam.  Then left me with homemade cards etc so that I could 'enjoy my lie-in' and read.  Fabulous.  The smell of bacon is now filling the house as Miss Thing makes me a second breakfast.  I'm looking forward to that.

My mummy and her second great grandson

So at the moment I'm counting my blessings and giving thanks for the wonderful children I have been blessed with.  I'm also thinking about my Mum who raised her daughters alone.  I think she did a pretty good job.  Each of us are moving happily through life filled with the love and principles she gave us.  Mum is enjoying her role as grandmother and great grandmother.  Then I think about my sister, the first of us girls to have a baby.  I remember so vividly the night before my niece was born.  I remember holding my sister's hand as she was getting ready to become a mother.  It was scary and exciting, all at the same time.  Fast forward a few years and it was my turn to take those faltering steps into motherhood.  Oh it was good to be able to call my sister when I couldn't work out why my gorgeous baby boy cried and cried.  And suddenly another sister had a son.  Wow!  Our family was growing.  I was clearly the one to do her bit for increasing the quota of grandchildren because I went on to have four more children.  My gorgeous, firstborn niece is now the proud mother of two boys.  Three generations of Motherhood in our family.  Incredible.

My mummy, her daughter , her granddaughter and her great grandson

I have to step back for a moment though.  I need to take time to remember my friends who are  no longer with us.  I'm thinking now of their children and my heart breaks for the times that they won't share and I smile when I think of the memories that they made.  I also remember the friends who are currently facing life-threatening illnesses just now.  The mothers who are unable to rejoice in Mothering Sunday due to medication and/or separation from their children.  And I think of my friend Leigh whose daughter is currently in remission whilst waiting for a bone marrow transplant .  I pray for those brave mothers, their incredible children and their partners as well as the grandmothers who support them.

To all the Mothers whose babies I have seen come into the world... It has been a privilege, honour and a blessing to share that with you.

On this Mothering Sunday I want to say thank you for the wonderful blessing that is my family and wish you all a wonderful day as you celebrate and are celebrated.

My mad family and I. Mothers, sisters, aunts and niece.

Monday, 12 March 2012


One of my gorgeous ladies called me the other day.  She'd been having problems with sore nipples.  It turns out her daughter not only had a tongue tie, but she also had a bubble palate.  Despite all of this she managed to get more than enough milk to keep midwives and health visitors happy.  Mum is producing copious amounts of milk.  Once all of this had been sorted, my lovely lady took her daughter to be weighed.  When she called me to update me she told me which percentile her daughter was on.

We spend a lot of time being worried about percentiles.  I tend to have a standard answer for my ladies, which hopefully gives them pause.  A percentile simply means that x amount of babies at the same age as your beautiful baby are bigger and x amount are smaller.  If all of our babies were on the 50th percentile, well to be fair, none of the percentiles would make sense.  We would all be standard!  Now, I love people watching and I can tell you, in a non scientific or statistically proved way, that no two people look the same.  We are different shapes, sizes, colours and frames.  I see tall people, short people, skinny people, not so skinny people and huge people.  We were not all designed to be the same size.

So why, knowing this, are we obsessed with percentiles?  Lady Baby spent her babyhood very happily on the 2nd percentile.  She also had a lovely time on the 0.9th percentile.  Boy Child happily went from the 9th to the 50th to the 75th percentile.  I fed them the same milk and swapped breasts regularly.  Even now, aged 8, they are different sizes.  I put that down to them being individuals.

I look at some of my clients and they are tall people.  I imagine that their babies will be larger.. I see skinny people and imagine that their babies won't do the rolls of fat thing.  I look at my clients and know that they will do their best to raise healthy children.  

Now, before you jump up and down, there will be some babies who, for some reason, fail to thrive.  They won't meet their weight milestones, they might inexplicably lose more weight than is healthy.  This I know and for this the percentiles are kind of handy.  However, if all babies were to continually jump the percentiles (this is my impression of what health care professionals want) then surely they would be severely obese one year olds?  

Babies, like people, come in different shapes and sizes.  If our babies lose too much weight, we increase their feeding.  We put our babies back to the breast more often and we watch them grow.  We check their tongues, their attachment, their 'milking' of the breast and effective feeding.  If there is a problem, we go and get it sorted out (at least I hope we do).  We remember, please remember, that the 50th percentile simply means that 50% (or should that be 49%) of babies of this age are bigger and the other 50% are smaller than this baby.  We're not all average, and nor should we wish to be.

Friday, 9 March 2012


Last week I was at Gail Tully's Spinning Babies workshop.  It was a wonderful day, but it felt strange to be there.

Now, I introduce myself to potential clients as 'a Doula with no tricks' and tell them how a North London hospital refers to me as 'the sensible Doula'.  It's funny really, because Spinning Babies is all about doing things, so I found myself learning and wondering how, why or if I would use the principles.  This is something that causes debate in the Doula world, or maybe just the Doula world that I inhabit.  We are there to BE rather than to DO.

So, as it is spinning around my mind (did you see what I did there?), it is being blogged.  So do forgive me if I pop things down and end up at an expected conclusion.  Who knows.  My mind is busy busy busy with this.

Gail talked about balance, gravity and movement.  Now as a Doula I spend a lot of time thinking about gravity and movement.  I'm not sure why balance didn't occur to me.  I encourage my ladies to be mobile in labour (where they want to be and sometimes when they are not so sure).  I tell everyone who will listen that gravity will help bring the baby down and get the baby out.  It's a no brainer.  But balance?  I hadn't thought about that at all.  Thinking about the fascia was new to me.  I have cranial osteopaths that I recommend to my clients.  Muscles?  Pregnancy massage.  What's not to love?  Ligaments, well they stretch don't they?  And that was about as far as I had gotten until Gail's workshop.  Now I'm changing my thinking.  Perhaps it is my balance that needs checking.

There is a thin line between Being and Doing and so one thing I need to think about is, when is it appropriate?  That will be a balance thing.  One of my lovely ladies was the model for the workshop.  She was wonderful because she had been using Spinning Babies techniques for herself and had only recently been told that her breech baby was now head down.  Another reason why she was wonderful was the way that she responded to questions. Her answers spawned new questions and thoughts.  It also taught Gail that on this side of the Pond, we speak the same language differently.  lol.  What I learned from her presence was a simple reinforcement of signposting and allowing (sorry Mary) my ladies to take and leave what they wanted from the information that I am so keen to share.  I will admit to a little jealousy that she has now taught her husband how to use a Rebozo.  I'll be the Doula in the corner reading. 

The workshop also answered some questions in the recesses of my mind with regards to labours I had been unable to 'read'.  I wouldn't have changed much of what I did, but I would have pointed my ladies towards Spinning Babies and I would have made more informed suggestions at those times when my ladies ask me 'what more can I do?' and I tread that tightrope called Being and Doing.

So perhaps the Doula with no tricks does have one or two up her sleeve!