Monthly archives:May 2015

  • lauren18 crop

    Photography: Cathy Britton

    The work of midwives in all settings is valuable and impacts on the lives of many woman and children worldwide. Midwives teach, care for families, and positively impact upon a mother’s childbirth experiences. But what exactly is an average day for a home-birth midwife?

    The truth is that every day is different. There isn’t a midwife that goes to sleep after a work day knowing that her next will be the same. There are schedules, timelines, appointments and check-ups. There is a flow, there is routine, but when a woman goes into labour life becomes organised chaos in which they excel.

    Caring for women in the home differs from a clinic or hospital setting. A home-birth midwife must learn about the home and those in it. She must check the setting for the birth, educate the family and ensure that the basics are present and everything is safe.

    The first job of a home-birth midwife might be to reassure the expecting mother that her decision is a wise one, that a home-birth is just as safe for a low-risk woman as a hospital, and in many ways can be more natural and relaxed than the pressure of a hospital. And after that, there’s a structured process to follow. Initial meetings, routine checks and preparation talks lead up to birth day.

    The joy of being a home-birth midwife is being part of the journey. Over the term of the pregnancy a bond is formed, a trust built, a union created. For a new mother there may be apprehension, nervousness, and fear about the coming birth, especially when removed from the safety net of a hospital. And so a midwife is involved from the start, informing a mother, walking by her side until the day of birth.

    At that moment there is kindness, compassion and respectfulness. There’s strength, empathy, and empowerment. And there’s intuition to know when to act, what to say and what to control. Everything joins to create a setting of comfort and safety in which to bring new life into the world. It’s a tribute to, and a continuation of, the ancient art of midwifery.

    The best outcome from midwifery is a happy, healthy baby from a happy, healthy mum, and proper care doesn’t stop at the birth. Some mothers tend to focus on the birth, and so a home-birth midwife must then press the importance of what comes next, of the joys, challenges and reality of becoming a parent, and in doing so empower families to grow and blossom.

    But it isn’t a job without challenges. There are the obvious: being woken in the middle of the night, dealing with stressed patients, long hours and uncertain times. There are the practical and legal challenges that limit the realistic care abilities of a home-birth midwife, and there are the effects on a midwife’s family personal life. Forever waiting by the phone a midwife needs an accepting family of her own who understand that her women come first. For when that phone call comes, she needs to be free to drop everything, to go and to be with the mother. And for some midwifes, that means sacrificing their own personal experiences for the good their patients.

    But it’s a job that many midwives cannot do without, and for some it’s much more than a job. Through their work they help many women see giving birth as a normal life event. Through their reassuring presence they demystify birth, reducing the fear of the moment, and forever change a family.

  • Baby teething crop

    Is there anything cuter than a baby’s smile when they have their first tooth?

    Or anything that inspires as much relief as seeing that smile after the discomfort of teething?

    Most babies will start getting teeth between 3 and 12 months and new teeth will continue to come through until the age of three years old.

    No matter how old your baby is when they start getting their teeth, it can be an uncomfortable process for your little one, resulting in irritable moods, disrupted sleeping patterns and general restlessness.

    But there are ways to combat it successfully and come out smiling on the other side.

    Tips to soothe an unsettled teething baby

    Try giving them something to chew on like a teething ring, or teething toy – even a soft flannel will work. For extra pain relief, cool down the items in the fridge to help numb your baby’s swollen gums. Just make sure you can supervise them while they are chewing to make sure they don’t accidently choke.

    If your baby is old enough you might be able to use a teething gel for their gums if they aren’t coping. But if you can’t, or you’d prefer not to use a teething gel, rubbing a clean, cold finger across your baby’s gums will temporarily help ease the pain.

    How will my baby’s teething affect breastfeeding?

    Nursing on the breast is not only your baby’s way of feeding, but also a source of comfort so it is likely that they will want to keep breastfeeding throughout their teething period. Even babies who have started on solids may want to feed more frequently when teething as a way to soothe their discomfort.

    But all babies are different and some have a harder time with teething than others. If your baby has particularly swollen gums, it may be too uncomfortable for them to breastfeed and they will go on a nursing strike that can last a few days. Rest assured, it will only be temporary, and once the teething period is over, your baby’s feeding habits will go back to normal.

    If your baby’s gums are swollen, try massaging them with a cold finger before feeding to ease their discomfort. Try not to use a teething gel around feeding times as they numb your baby’s gums and tongue making it difficult for them to suckle properly.

    Once your baby’s teeth come through they may start to bite down on your nipple whilst feeding. To discourage them from doing this, try carefully slipping your finger into their mouth to gently break the suction when they start to chomp down.

    If you’re having ongoing problems, see a trusted lactation consultant who can guide you through the teething process.

    Should I get them to start eating solids?

    Just because your baby is starting to get teeth does not necessarily mean you need to start weaning them off breastmilk. The decision to wean is a highly personal choice that is different for everyone.

    However, if you do want to start introducing solids, giving them something cold to chew on – such as pieces of chilled apple, or carrot – can help soothe the mouth at the same time.

    For further questions…

    If you have any more questions about breastfeeding,  call us on (08) 9498 6033.

  • Ideal age gaps between siblings?

    If you’re planning on having multiple children, you might be thinking about the ideal age gaps between siblings to enjoy a harmonious family life. But, is there such a thing?

    There are no rules to planning a family, and different families are as unique as the personalities that make them up. However, there are some considerations you may want to think about when it comes to planning your family.

    Toddler on kitchen counter with family in background cropped

    Your Health and Wellbeing

    There are a few factors to think about when it comes to assessing your health and wellbeing. If you’re considering having a child soon after your last pregnancy, you might like to think about how quickly you recovered after your last pregnancy and the physical stress that another pregnancy might put on your body.

    If you had any complications during your last pregnancy, or labour, it’s a good idea to seek medical advice from a trusted medical professional about how long you should wait before falling pregnant again.

    Are you able to nurture a new pregnancy as well as breastfeeding your baby? Both activities demand nutrients from the mother, so it’s important to carefully consider nutrition and what is needed to sustain two babies, as well as yourself, without compromising your health. If you have any concerns about fertility you may not want to space out your children over a few years when that might make it harder to fall pregnant again.

    Your finances

    Children are expensive, there is no doubt about it, so it’s a good idea to think about family income and budget when thinking of adding another child to the family. While every family’s ‘comfortable budget’ will look different, things like taking extra time off work, additional day care fees, and medical expenses might impact your household cash flow quite significantly.

    You might even find yourself considering purchasing a bigger car, or larger house to accommodate your growing family. These large assets can have a big impact on day-to-day life and may also influence your decision.

    Your family dynamics

    There is as many opinions as there are people on whether or not having children close together increases their companionship with each other. Children who are close in age may more naturally become friends during their younger years, whereas children who are further apart may have a more hierarchical relationship.

    But equally, it may not work that way. Your children have their own personalities and the potential to fight with each other, or be best of friends, will vary from day to day (or hour to hour) no matter how big or small the age gap is between them.

    The pros and cons

    Having babies close together might condense your total years of parenting, but might also make the process more intense as you raise children who are at similar developmental stages of their lives. In the early days, this might mean more sleepless nights, intense days as you juggle two wholly dependent infants, and more consecutive time out of the workforce.

    However it might also make it easier to reuse clothes, keep them both occupied as they play together on activities that suit both of them, and the reduction of overall years in active parenting which might be especially helpful for older parents.

    On the other hand, spacing children apart by a few years (or more!) will increase the total years in active parenting, but will allow for some breathing room between each one. You can go back to work between maternity leave blocks, if that’s something that’s also important to you. You also might be able to get back to better sleep patterns after those intense months of night-time feeds.

    At 2 or 3 years old, an older sibling will be a little bit more independent than their infant sibling, and won’t rely on you for quite as much. They can walk beside the pram, occupy themselves a little bit more when you have your hands full, and will be less reliant on your breast milk.

    However, it might also increase the likelihood of sibling rivalry and they might be more reluctant to play together, particularly when one child can’t do as much as their older sibling. It will also spread out the years of active parenting which may not be ideal for you, depending on your plans.

    The final word

    It really is up to how you and your partner feel about how a new baby will affect your lives and family. Your priorities will determine whether having another child soon after the last will be ideal for you, or whether it would be preferable to wait.

    There is no right answer but, whatever you decide, your family will be just the way it was meant to be all along.


  • Mother and daughter
    Before I was a MumI slept as late as I wanted and never worried about how late I got into bed. I brushed my hair and my teeth everyday.
    Before I was a MumI cleaned my house each day. I never tripped over toys or forgot words to a lullaby. I didn’t worry whether or not my plants were poisonous. I never thought about immunizations.
    Before I was a MumI had never been puked on – Pooped on – Spit on – Chewed on, or Peed on. I had complete control of my mind and my thoughts. I slept all night.
    Before I was a MumI never held down a screaming child so that doctors could do tests…or give shots. I never looked into teary eyes and cried. I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin. I never sat up late hours at night watching a baby sleep.
    Before I was a MumI never held a sleeping baby just because I didn’t want to put it down. I never felt my heart break into a million pieces when I couldn’t stop the hurt. I never knew that something so small could affect my life so much. I never knew that I could love someone so much. I never knew I would love being a Mum.
    Before I was a MumI didn’t know the feeling of having my heart outside my body. I didn’t know how special it could feel to feed a hungry baby. I didn’t know that bond between a mother and her child. I didn’t know that something so small could make me feel so important.
    Before I was a MumI had never gotten up in the middle of the night every 10 minutes to make sure all was okay. I had never known The warmth, The joy, The love, The heartache, The wonderment or the satisfaction of being a Mom. I didn’t know I was capable of feeling so much before I was a Mum.