Category archives: pregnancy

  • Reading together


    • Up The Duff: The Real Guide To Pregnancy Book by Kaz Cooke, 1999.  This will appeal to you if you want a light-hearted look at pregnancy, birth and babies.


    • Men At Birth by David Vernon 2006.  Full of stories written by men, for men, about their birth experiences.


    • Hello Baby by Jenni Overend & Julie Vivas, 1999.  Read how one family celebrate the birth of a baby at home with warmth, honesty and joy.  A beautiful book.


    • Optimal Foetal Positioning by Jean Sutton & Pauline Scott, 1996.  Suggests ways to help align the baby in utero in the maternal pelvis before labour starts.


    • The Business Of Being Born by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein , 2007.  This film interlaces intimate birth stories with surprising historical, political and scientific insights and shocking statistics about the current American maternity care system.


    • Expecting Adam:  A True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday Magic by Martha Beck, 2000.  A story about a couple’s second child who has Down syndrome and what they learned and unlearned.


    • The Pink Kit by Wintergreen & Common Knowledge Trust, 2007.  A multimedia kit includes tips on how to prepare your birthing body; childbirth skills using information from women of different cultures, religions and socio-economic backgrounds.



  • Pregnant woman in cozy jumper reading about child birth

    • Birthing From Within by Pam England & Rob Horowitz, 1998. An in-depth focus on birthing and self. An excellent read.



    • A Labour Of Love: An Australian Guide to Natural Childbirth by Gabrielle Targett, 2006.  The book covers topics such as: preparing for a positive birth experience, planning ahead, siblings at birth, being physically fit, special pregnancy issues, the power of pregnancy and labour hormones, and pain relief.


    • 25 Ways To Awaken Your Birth Power by Danette Watson & Stephanie Corkhill Hyles, 2004.  This book and CD cover visualization, affirmation, breathing exercises and relaxation as preparation and inspiration for the body, mind and spirit.



    • Birth Skills by Juju Sundin & Sarah Murdoch, 2007.  This book, based on the classes taught by Sundin, a well known physiotherapist and childbirth educator in Sydney, will help pregnant women understand what is happening to their body during labour, particularly dealing with pain.


    • Childbirth Without Fear: The principles and practice of natural childbirth by Grantly Dick-Read, 2004.  Explores the emotional journey of childbirth, offering reassuring and confirming reflections of your ability to birth and trust.  An old and fabulous classic.


    • Gentle Birth Choices – Book and DVD by Barbara Harper, 2005.  Very soothing, spiritual guide to birthing that helps parents to plan a meaningful, family-centred birth experience. The DVD blends interviews with midwives and physicians and shows six births, including water birth, home birth, and vaginal birth.



    • The Water Birth Book by Janet Balaskas, 2004.  Based on 15 years of working with water births, the book is packed with inspiring stories.
  • We hear so much about what we should and should not do when we’re pregnant. With so many opinions coming at us from different directions, some days it can make you want to take a short walk to the couch and call it a day.

    But getting out and staying active is good for you and your baby. Provided you act with the appropriate care to your body, there are some really great benefits to be gained from exercising during your pregnancy.

    pregnant woman in pool

    Benefits of Exercise

    Exercise during pregnancy can help moderate weight gain, even out the effects of fluctuating hormone levels, improve back pain, help you sleep better, help you maintain a good level of fitness and muscle strength so that your body can recover well after delivery, and can also prevent the onset of Gestational Diabetes (or help treat the condition should Gestational Diabetes occur).

    As a general rule 30 minutes per day on most days of the week of light to moderate exercise is beneficial for pregnant women. Even if you have not been active before your pregnancy, you can still reap the rewards by starting to exercise when you’re pregnant. Take it in small steps and build up to the recommended amount over time so that you don’t overexert yourself.

    A changing body means changing limitations

    In general, if you are a healthy woman who has exercised before her pregnancy, and is experiencing no complications, you will most likely be able to keep up with your exercise routine provided you feel comfortable.

    But there are many physiological changes that you will go through during your pregnancy and this may change how you participate in exercise as you progress through your pregnancy.

    Things such as:

    • change in centre of gravity
    • weight gain and change in body shape
    • loosening of ligaments and joints
    • increase in resting heart rate
    • decrease in blood pressure
    • weakening of the pelvic floor muscles

    can all affect how well your body can perform exercises that you did before you were pregnant.

    These changes can make it harder to keep your balance, for your body to handle ‘jerky’ movements or sudden changes in direction (like netball), and for your body to take strain in certain parts of your body.

    Importantly, whenever undertaking any exercise – listen to your body – it is often very good at telling us when something does not feel right. If you’re feeling exhausted, light-headed, dizzy, or experiencing pain or vaginal bleeding at any stage – stop and consult a healthcare professional.

    Low to moderate exercise is recommended

    Some good exercises to try are:

    • Brisk walking is a great cardio exercise that is easy on the joints, whilst still being a moderate form of exercise (provided you don’t stroll).
    • Swimming is wonderful because it alleviates most of the effects of gravity, making it easier to be active. Just make sure the pool isn’t heated too-high as this can have a negative effect on your unborn child. Not to mention making you uncomfortable or dehydrated.
    • Aquanatal classes make good use of the low gravity conditions that are present in water to help pregnant women be active whilst alleviating pressure on the back and joints.
    • Cycling is fantastic exercise that can be done at a light to moderate level. The changes to your body during pregnancy can affect your centre of gravity and your balance. If you are feeling a bit off or lightheaded, ride a stationary bike indoors to avoid nasty falls.
    • Pregnancy Yoga and Pilates are great strength and conditioning exercises for the body and can be easily adapted for pregnant women. Visit a practitioner that is properly qualified and experienced in teaching pregnant women as they will know how to adapt the exercises for your body. Avoid hot yoga while you are pregnant.
  • working pregnant woman

    How to Juggle Work and Pregnancy


    You’ve told your family, celebrated the news with friends, and now you’ve let your manager know too – You’re pregnant! Congratulations.

    But while you have visions of yourself in the Superwoman costume (maternity edition, or course), you’re not quite sure what it actually takes to successfully manage work and pregnancy while still giving yourself (and your baby) the care you need.

    Here’s a few tips to help you master the juggling act.

    Fatigue during the day…

    It’s hard work growing a baby which is great when you get to eat for two, but not so great when you start falling asleep on the job. Eating foods rich in iron and protein, drinking lots, and keeping up light exercise can help boost energy levels during the day.

    At most workplaces, sneaking in a power nap is not going to be possible. If you work from home, nap on my friend. If you don’t, try and break up your day with a short walk to the other side of the office, get out and see a client, make yourself a snack or a tea, anything to avoid waking up with your keypad indented on your forehead.

    Baby Brain? Not a problem…

    It’s one of those things that happens to almost every pregnant woman at least once. But when ‘baby brain’ strikes at work, it can have us appearing as though we’re behind the eight ball.

    Our best solution to combat forgetfulness? Take notes – lots of them. Make a habit of writing everything down, and make short notes of your phone conversations to refer back to later.

    Also try and do the most challenging things when your feeling switched on and put your email calendar to good use by setting alerts and reminders to help you keep on track throughout the day.

    Morning sickness blues

    There is nothing worse than having persistent morning (or all-day) sickness when trying to keep up appearances at work. Hopefully your boss will be understanding of your symptoms, but the less you have to call on his/her patience, the better.

    To help keep the nausea at bay, try drinking carbonated drinks like sparkling water, and eating bland snack foods before you get hungry – keep some dry crackers by your desk, or in your drawer for a quick fix.

    During meetings, sit by the door for a quick and discrete exit if you need one. It’s also a good idea to carry mouthwash with you so you’re prepared for the times when your stomach really does ‘heave ho’.

    People touching your belly uninvited…

    As your baby bump grows, the frequency of friends, colleagues and strangers trying to touch your stomach can have you feeling like a bronzed Buddha. If your levels of discomfort skyrocket above ‘red alert’ when someone touches your bump, consider hiring a belly (body) guard…

    If you have to be your own belly guard, don’t be afraid to say something when someone (including your manager, colleagues, and clients) touches your stomach uninvited. A simple ‘I’d prefer it if you didn’t touch my stomach’, or ‘Please don’t touch my stomach, it makes me uncomfortable’, is all it takes to let people know they’ve crossed a boundary.

    Some people might be affronted or taken aback, but most will be apologetic about having invaded your space without your consent.

    Fitting in all those antenatal appointments…

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if pregnancy automatically meant that you got more hours in the day than everyone else, just to fit in all those extra appointments you have to go to?

    Unfortunately, the rules of time and space don’t make exceptions for the pregnant working woman, but don’t worry too much because all those antenatal appointments can be taken from your sick leave allowance.

    So long as you do the right thing by your manager by letting him/her know in advance, they’ll be able to work around you.

    Leaving the workplace…

    Your career might look different after you have a baby, but that does not mean your hard-won career gains will disappear down the drain. There are plenty of mothers who successfully balance motherhood with their careers, and there is no reason why you can’t do the same.

    But, as a parent, you will have new obligations, so try to stay open-minded about your options and discuss them with your employer before you leave.

    Come to the conversation prepared with ideas about how changing your work situation could be mutually beneficial, and you’ll both feel good about the evolution of your role when you return to the workplace.

  • iStock_000002991707Large

    If you are reading this right now it is likely that you are heading into the final months of pregnancy and an unforgiving Australian summer and chances are you have thought on more than one occasion, to check whether the air-conditioner is set on the heat or cooling setting, just to be sure. You may be feeling hotter than usual and more than a bit bothered by this stage so here are a few ideas that will help you breeze through the coming weeks, and labour without having to permanently prop open the freezer door or install multiple air-conditioners.

    1. Have an ice pole. Obviously!

    Ice poles are also great relief during labour. If you are labouring at home, then just grab one out of the freezer. If you are going to a birthing centre or hospital take an esky with you to keep them cold or ask staff to put them in the freezer for you. While you may not feel hungry during labour, your body is working hard and is using a lot of energy. Suck on an ice pole in the early stages of labour or between surges. If you are looking at combating dehydration and fatigue during longer labours try substituting regular fruit juice style ice poles with electrolyte rehydration ice blocks available from your local pharmacy.

    Ice poles are by far one of the most fun ways of keeping cool, and one of the simplest. Stock your freezer full of them and when you have one, use it as an opportunity to stop whatever you are doing, put your feet up and relax in this mini moment of bliss. If you are looking after small children while you are doing this, giving them one too will give you a better chance at actually achieving this.

    2. Drink water.

    It may seem obvious but as your baby grows and puts more pressure on your bladder, you might start to do the maths on trips to the toilet verses water intake and avoid drinking altogether at certain times of day. Keeping up water intake during pregnancy is important and will also help you avoid lethargy and headaches.

    3. Be in the water during labour. Pregnant lady belly picture

    Water can have many benefits during labour. If you have been in the pool, beach or bath during pregnancy you will know the feeling of weightlessness is unparalleled by any other during pregnancy. Being in water promotes relaxation and can be fantastic for pain relief and staying calm. Being in a birth pool during labour can allow you to get into positions that are comfortable for birth and can assist with optimal foetal positioning. Alan Watts, a British-born Philosopher, says it best.

    “To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.” Alan Watts.

    4. Attend a preparation for birth workshop.

    Information is power. Learning about what to expect from pregnancy, birth and early parenting can answer the many questions you may have and leave you feeling informed, empowered and ready to bring your baby into the world. You will also learn relaxation techniques that can assist you through labour pain, keep your mind focused and your blood pressure and from skyrocketing. Also, it is highly likely that your venue will have air-conditioning (that is definitely switched to the cold setting) and may be willing to give you a shoulder massage if requested.

    5. Mind over matter.

    When all else fails, ask your partner, a friend or a very understanding work colleague to fan a folded up newspaper in front of your face while you wedge an icepack under the collar of your shirt, and focus on how infinitely unimportant this will all seem, when you finally get to hold your baby in your hot, sweaty arms for the very first time.

    Thinking about situations that are cool and refreshing can be of comfort. Close your eyes and imagine you are walking bare foot through the snow, or standing under a cool waterfall (when in fact you may be barefoot on your kitchen tiles or standing in the shower). At worst it will distract you for a little while and at best it will remind you that your mind is as powerful as your body during pregnancy and labour.

    Reference:, accessed 12/01/2015.

  • Look after your pelvic floor muscles in pregnancy

    Pregnant mums exercizing pelvic floor muscles

    Pregnancy and childbirth are two of the major life events associated with urinary incontinence, which is why the Continence Foundation of Australia has launched an awareness campaign focusing on maternity.

    One in three women who have ever had a baby experience some form of urinary incontinence. Moreover, of the 4.2 million Australians (aged 15 years and over) affected by urinary incontinence, 80% are women, with problems arising primarily after childbirth and menopause. The Continence Foundation’s project, Pelvic floor awareness in pregnancy, childbirth and beyond aims to prevent pregnancy-related incontinence and reduce the number of women unnecessarily putting up with urinary incontinence after childbirth.

    The Continence Foundation’s project manager and health promotion officer, Samantha Scoble, said that women needed to prioritize their pelvic floor health by incorporating pelvic floor exercises into their daily routine. She said clinical studies showed that pelvic floor muscle exercises were effective in treating incontinence among pre and postnatal women.

    Five steps for a health pelvic floor:

    1. Practice good toilet habits – Don’t get into the habit of emptying your bladder when it’s only half full; go only when you get the urge. And when you go, don’t rush. Be sure to empty your bladder fully or you may risk a bladder infection.
    2. Maintain good bowel habits – Ensure you consume enough fibre and liquid to avoid constipation, because straining on the toilet can strain and weaken your pelvic floor muscles.
    3. Drink plenty of fluids – Ensure your daily fluid intake is 1.5 to 2 litres, unless your doctor advises otherwise.
    4. Look after your pelvic floor muscles – Learn the correct way to do your pelvic floor exercises (go to or phone 1800 33 00 66) and do them everyday. You can also be guided by your midwife, your doctor, continence nurse or physiotherapist.
    5. Exercise regularly – Walking is great, but if you want to be more active, engage only in pelvic floor-safe exercises that do not put excess strain on your pelvic floor. Go to for more information.