A Calm and Empowered Birth: Marie and Eden’s Story

Marie enjoyed a calm and empowered birth after attending Daisy Birthing classes in Derbyshire with Katie Halliwell.  Here, she shares her wonderful birth story…

“Anyone who knows me will know that the thought of carrying a child and giving birth was somewhat terrifying.  So you can imagine my surprise when one June morning, after an adventure holiday with friends had led me to believe I may pregnant, a test came back positive (along with three others!!).

As a theorist, I started on my mission to use this as an opportunity to learn.  Through my research, I came across Daisy Birthing and Katie Halliwell.

Daisy was offering the support to have a positive birthing experience, but provided the tools for a natural experience to cope with the different stages of labour.  This was unique in a minefield of information.  I knew I wanted to treat the birth of our baby as a natural experience – which was ironic as before I fell pregnant I felt it the most unnatural of states for me to be in!

I walked nervously into my first Daisy class and knew instantly it was meant for me.  Katie was super nice and so knowledgeable and passionate I just knew I was in the right place.

The term simplified the birthing experience and empowered me to make some brave choices to give birth to my first at a midwife unit.  A home birth was also a possibility but for my first baby, my husband and I decided against it.  It was the support of Daisy that empowered that decision and gave me confidence to explain to worried family that a hospital was not my first choice of birth location.

The fears of birth were stripped away one by one.  I was equipped with the tools I needed to go into labour: safe in the knowledge that no matter what the outcome I was birthing our baby positively.

Shortly after 1am on the 25th January (my due date), my labour started.  On the 26th January at 1:05am, I breathed our son into the world.

I say ‘breathed’ as this is what I did.  Using the tools of Daisy and my yoga knowledge, I stayed in a calm and positive state and trusted that my body knew how to birth our baby.  Through understanding the different stages, I gave birth without any pain relief into water in a squat position.  I then held our son for 40 minutes whilst the cord pulsed for him.  It was the most wonderful magical experience of my life and one I will never forget.

I could write so much more about the whole birth and I will happily if any one wants to read or listen!

I know this sounds ideal and it was perfect and as my birthing preferences outlined.  However what I hadn’t planned was losing a litre of blood (post partum haemorrhage).  Despite feeling fine, as a precaution I was transferred to hospital and our son was then admitting to the NCIU as he was struggling to breath.  The cord time had proved to be life saver in so many ways as was my precaution transfer.  We remained in hospital for a week and whilst he was treated for a possible infection that never was, I expressed his milk whilst he was on oxygen in a ventilator.

None of this formed part of the plan, but it proved where nature and medicine compliment themselves.

The whole experience not just some parts were positive and I look back now in awe of the whole thing.

Without the knowledge and support of Daisy (Katie) I would not have had the tools needed to be empowered to follow the natural path, and the ability to embrace the clinical parts a positive as well.

I will remain forever humbled and grateful and in awe of what I (and women) are capable of achieving.

“The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it” Marcus Aurelius”

Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful story Marie.  To find your local class, head to  https://thedaisyfoundation.com/find-a-class/

The Power of Oxytocin – The Hormone of Love!

Oxytocin – or the ‘love hormone’ as it’s sometimes known – plays a huge part in the process of labour, birth and breastfeeding.  Here Daisy teacher Chloe Sena tells us more about this amazing hormone…

I started writing a blog post about all the different hormones involved in labour and birth, but when I got to thinking about oxytocin, I soon decided it needed a whole blog to itself.  So here it is!  Let’s explore the power of oxytocin and delve a bit deeper in to this remarkable hormone.

What is it?

Oxytocin is a hormone produced in the hypothalamus and released into the blood stream by the posterior pituitary gland.  This is the hormone that makes us feel good when we hug, kiss, feel attracted to someone, have skin to skin, or when we have sex.

Oxytocin also regulates social interaction and sexual reproduction as well as playing a massive role in bonding between men and women, and parents and their babies.  It is also an antidote for depression.  Pretty amazing hey?  By understanding this wonderful hormone in more detail, it means you can help your health in general.  For the purpose of this blog, it can have a powerful impact on your labour, birth and postnatal experience.

Role in Labour

As labour starts, the body’s oxytocin levels begin to rise and this is what stimulates the ripening of the cervix by causing the release of prostaglandins.  Oxytocin also signals the regular contractions of the uterus.  As labour progresses, the oxytocin levels continue to rise, and this hormone can be likened to a kind of fuel for labour.  As the levels of oxytocin get higher in the body, this causes labour to move through the different stages – oxytocin helps labour to keep going strong!  So, just as you need to make sure you have enough fuel in your car for the engine to work smoothly; your body in labour needs the oxytocin levels to be high enough for you body to work efficiently.

Encouraging the release of Oxytocin

You can help your body release oxytocin during labour in a number of ways, and this is where your birth partner can help too.  Keeping your birth space calm and tranquil and deciding what anchors will help you relax during labour.  Things like candles/low lighting/music (maybe that you are used to from Daisy Birthing classes) will really help.  Preparing for birth and understanding how it all works can help too as it will take away some of the fear of the unknown.  All these little things will help when it comes to the big day as the production of oxytocin can be directly related to how calm, relaxed and focused the birthing mother feels.  If a mother feels calm, supported, at ease with her caregivers and her environment, oxytocin will be produced and released into the blood stream more easily.

Oxytocin levels are at their highest just before the birth and lead to the euphoria women feel in those first precious moments with their baby after birth.  Oxytocin release works in a bit of cycle and this is the same during labour.  The pituitary gland releases oxytocin which is carried through the bloodstream to the uterus, stimulating contractions of this muscle.  This then encourages baby’s head down on to the cervix which then stimulates the release of more oxytocin.  It is a positive feedback loop, where release of the hormone stimulates an action which means more of the hormone is released.  This is obviously very important when considering oxytocin in terms of fuel for labour.

What stops Oxytocin?

If feeling calm and relaxed can help increase oxytocin levels in the body, what can inhibit the production of this all-important hormone?  If a birthing woman feels afraid or scared, this can stimulate the release of adrenaline.  Adrenaline is often known as the ‘fight or flight’ hormone and can stop the production of oxytocin.  This system makes sense for mammals birthing in the wild, as it diverts oxygen to the systems that need it most for survival and will slow down labour or stop it altogether.  But adrenaline will have the same effect on women in labour and studies have shown that high levels of adrenaline – or ‘catecholamines’ as fight or flight hormones are collectively known – can lead to longer labours.

Immediately after birth

Skin to skin contact with their newborn means the mother’s body continues to release oxytocin, stimulating the uterus to contract and the placenta to come away from the uterine wall.  As the oxytocin levels are at their highest immediately after birth, this incredible hormone plays a massive role in bonding, and establishing feeding in those early minutes and hours after birth.  Blood oxytocin levels peak for mother and baby at around 30 minutes after birth and start to reduce after an hour, meaning for this first hour – mum and baby are both flooded with oxytocin, the hormone of love!  Doesn’t this just provide more evidence for how important it is for mum and baby to have a protected first golden hour together whenever it is possible?

And not just that……

Oxytocin levels stimulate the let-down reflex during breastfeeding and it continues to be released as baby suckles.  During the entire breastfeeding journey oxytocin levels can help the mother feel relaxed, can reduce stress and lower blood pressure.  If bottle feeding, feeding baby skin to skin can naturally increase the body’s oxytocin levels, encouraging bonding between caregiver and infant.

You can see why the wonderful love hormone, oxytocin needed a blog all to itself, it is an incredible hormone with so many positive influences for us and our bodies, both during labour, and indeed in life itself to help us on our journeys.

Love Daisy x

Some further reading



Your Awesome Cervix!

Following on from Ceri’s last blog post about your incredible uterus in all its glory, let us now marvel at the wonder of the cervix.  Daisy teacher Chloe Sena says, “Let’s have a look at the remarkable journey your cervix goes on as your labour starts and progresses.  It does so much more than just open, so during labour (as hard as it is!), try not to get too hung up on the number of centimetres dilated you are.  Numbers are not everything.  Anyone who has been to Daisy Birthing classes with me, will know how much love I have for the cervix. Honestly, I’m not a weirdo – hear me out ? ”

In Pregnancy

The cervix is without a doubt one of the most amazing features of the female body.  One of its main jobs is to protect the development of the baby and the uterus during pregnancy by remaining closed and plugged with mucus.  Then it has to to open and allow the body to birth your baby.

During pregnancy, it is like thick cartilage (a bit like the end of your nose), closed and plugged with mucus.  It is about two and a half centimetres long and starts off pointing towards the back wall of your vagina.  As your body starts getting ready for labour and birth, it will release hormones called ‘prostaglandins’.  These will help it begin to soften, ripen and do its thing!  As this starts, the mucus plug may also start to come away.  Sometimes called a ‘show’, you may notice it in your pants, or when you wipe after going to the toilet.  You may also not notice anything but it will come away at some point.  Then it begins.  Your cervix has one heck of a journey to go on and it will start before you even realise you are in labour!

So, what happens?

Firstly, the cervix will go from pointing backwards (posterior) to pointing forwards (anterior).  This will bring it into line with the vagina to allow the baby to move through more easily.  It also has to efface and soften.  The contractions of the uterus draw the cervix up and cause it to shorten (from approximately two and a half centimetres) before any dilation can happen.  This process is called effacement.  It also has to soften, or ‘ripen’ and go from being hard cartilage like material to be soft and stretchy like the inside of your cheek, or ‘soft like butter.’ Pretty cool, hey?

Dilation of the Cervix

In addition to all of the above, the cervix also has to dilate or ‘open’ to approximately ten centimetres.  In reality, the numbers mean very little and your cervix will get to a point of simply being ‘fully dilated’, whether that is 9, 10 or even 11cm.  Dilation can not happen unless it has done all of its other jobs.  So, if someone in labour is ‘stuck’ at say, 5cm – the other processes of thinning, effacing and ripening will be still going on.  The important thing here is to not get disheartened if you are ‘only’ 3, 4, 5cm….  as your cervix is still doing its splendid thing and you will get there!  And just to clarify, your cervix will not dilate to 10cm and leave a gaping hole just there, waiting for baby to come through.  Rather, it peels back over baby’s head – a bit like a polo neck jumper.  The dynamic movements, rotations, sways and rocks your body will instinctively do during labour all help aid this process of dilation, helping the cervix ease open over baby’s head with each contraction of the uterus.

It is Not a Crystal Ball

As we can see, the cervix has many jobs and every woman’s cervix will work differently. As Maria Pokluda says

Let me let you in on a secret, your cervix is not a crystal ball.  It cannot predict when labour will start. Nor can it predict if you will deliver before, after or even on your due date.  The cervix can do many wonderful things, but let’s not give the cervix more credit than it is due.  A cervix cannot predict the future.

So, no your cervix can’t tell you when you are going to give birth, but you can see progress in many ways.  When in labour, rather than thinking only in terms of numbers of dilation – ask your care provider to tell you if it is anterior, or how thin or effaced you are.  This will mean you can see your progress and not be discouraged if on examination you are ‘only’ 4cm. Think instead – ‘Yeah!  I’m 4cm – my body is awesome!  Look what I’ve done already!’.  Birth is different for everyone: a completely dynamic process that you can’t predict.

I hope you have enjoyed finding out more about your incredible cervix and that I have managed to show you of how truly tremendous it is.  In my opinion, it is the most awesome part of the female anatomy.

Love Daisy x

Further reading:


The Uterus: 5 Reasons to Shout About your Beautiful Birthing Body!

Your body is amazing.  It’s a baby-making, baby-growing and baby-birthing wonder.  And it’s high time we celebrated our bodies and shouted about them from the rooftops!  Here Daisy teacher Ceri Elms talks us through the wonder that is the uterus….

The female body is an incredible design and when we learn to tap into our natural abilities and trust our instincts, we are a real powerhouse of endurance, adaptability, strength and potency.  We bet you don’t give your formidable body half the credit or love it deserves, do you?  Well, maybe you will after reading more about the marvel of the uterus.

“There is no other organ quite like the uterus. If men had such an organ they would brag about it. So should we.”

Ina May Gaskin, Leading American Midwife *

1. The uterus is your baby’s first home

In its ‘simplest’ function the uterus conceives, grows and houses a brand new human being.  In pregnancy, the uterus carries your baby for, give or take, 9 months.  It protects your baby and provides your baby with everything they need to grow and develop and ultimately, be born.  That is quite simply incredible, and without the uterus, none of us would be here.

It stretches to accommodate a growing baby, is strong enough to hammock the baby safely and carefully in its cocoon and is powerful enough to contract and birth your baby when the time comes.  It is in fact an, until now, unsung Super Hero….

2. The uterus is the strongest super hero in the body

By weight, the uterus is the strongest muscle in your body.  Yes, the jaw is often listed as the winner of the strongest muscle category, but hear us out: the uterus is made up of vertical and horizontal muscle fibres that intertwine to create a mighty muscle force that can birth a baby.  The pressure and power the uterus employs in labour is the strongest force exerted by any muscle in the body (so there jaw, take a back seat please – you are very strong, but you are not birthing-an-actual-baby-out strong!).

3. The uterus is a super shape and size shifter

Pre-pregnancy, the uterus is a pear-shaped organ (only around 3 inches long and 2 inches wide) that fits snugly under your pubic bone.  It sits there, minding its own business – except for structurally supporting your lower organs and triggering menstruation each month of course (see point 5 below).  In pregnancy, as your baby grows, your uterus changes its shape and size to ensure your baby is perfectly cocooned.  It gradually inflates like a balloon up to your rib cage, pushing other organs aside (politely, we imagine) and increases to more than 5 times its pre-pregnancy size, with a capacity up to 500 times more than before!  Then, after birth, the clever organ returns to its original shape and size without you having to give it a second thought.  Now that’s amazing.

4. The uterus grows its own organ

This is one of the most incredible qualities of the uterus: it is an organ that literally grows another organ – the placenta.  The placenta has the hugely important job of nourishing and feeding the baby and connecting the mother and the baby.  Once the baby is born, the placenta is then delivered or released if you will, as its work is done and the uterus goes back to just flying solo as a lone organ again.  Until the next possible pregnancy, when it will grow a new organ all over again…

5. The uterus prepares for pregnancy every month

As we always teach in Daisy Birthing, preparation is key, and menstruation is actually the uterus preparing for pregnancy by creating a thick lining to welcome and fertilise an egg.  If an egg doesn’t embed itself into this lining, the lining breaks down and menstruation occurs.  The womb usually does this preparation process each and every month until the menopause, which is pretty impressive.  Even though periods can be a real pain, they have a real purpose that the trusty uterus adds to its long list of incredible functions.

And finally…
Some women have 2 uteruses. 1 in 2000 women have a condition known as uterus didelphys, where the two tubes that usually connect to create one organ, instead each develop into two separate organs.  Conversely, 1 in 4,500 women may be born without a uterus, so it’s not an organ to take for granted.

The uterus is incredible, isn’t it?  Let’s brag about it, and while we are at it, let’s celebrate the rest of our bodacious birthing bodies!

*Incidentally, American midwife Ina May Gaskin is also worth shouting about as she is the only midwife – and indeed the only woman –to have an obstetric technique named after her: the Gaskin manoeuvre (moving on to all fours to release the baby’s shoulders).

A Wonderful, Positive Birth Story: Raphaela and Nina

Raphaela attended 2 terms of Daisy Birthing in Bebington on the Wirral with Tracy McGinn.  Here she shares her wonderful, positive birth story...

“I just would like to thank you for the amazing 12 weeks that helped me immensely in building the confidence I needed to give birth to my baby girl.

Nina was born at 12:01pm on 27th January, normal delivery, only on gas and air as pain relief.  It took 3 hours from the time I got to hospital to when I gave birth to Nina.  As you said during class, everything we learnt and practiced during the course would stay in our head during labour.  I could literally hear your voice saying: “you feel calm, you feel in control.”  The breathing techniques helped me in every step of the way to overcome each contraction.  The midwives said that my breathing was amazing.  And of course, with the OUT breath, and in all fours on the bed (a position I never thought would be one to give birth in before doing the course), Nina was born.

It was the most amazing experience to feel so in control of my body, knowing exactly what to do during all stages of labour.  I could never have done this so well without what I learned with you.  I am forever grateful, Tracy.  I wish you all the success and that you continue helping people as you helped me.  Raphaela xx”

Thank you so much for sharing your story Raphaela!

Daisy Birthing weekly classes combine gentle yoga based movements with antenatal education, breathing techniques, relaxation and birth hypnosis to enable you to work with your body when your birthing day arrives.  These fabulous women only classes provide a supportive environment in which you can make friends and feel your confidence growing as your pregnancy progresses.  To find your local Daisy Birthing class go to https://thedaisyfoundation.com/find-a-class/

It’s Time to Talk About Weaning…

Weaning your baby can seem like a minefield.  There may be well-meaning advice given about what may be best for you and your little one, the guidelines seem to change all the time and there are many myths surrounding when a baby is ready to wean.  Here Daisy teacher Chloe Sena helps you to sort the facts from the fiction when it comes to weaning.

Weaning Guidelines

Firstly, let’s start by saying, you know your baby. You are their mother and motherly instinct can be a powerful thing – follow it!

Now let’s try to de-bunk some myths surrounding weaning so you know how to best prepare yourself and your baby for the next exciting chapter in your lives together.

The guidelines are to wait until baby is six months. It did used to be 4 months and in some cases, early weaning may be necessary but the guidelines now suggest that you wait until 6 months and even then, it should be a gradual process of dropping milk feeds slowly.  It isn’t that the guidelines change for no reason, they are the result of much research into infant developmental stages.

Why Six Months?

By six months a baby’s immune and digestive system are more mature so they can cope better with solids.  Also, the gag reflex reduces from six months, which means rather than spitting out a lot of food, with more ending up around their mouths or clothes, they will start to actually eat more.

What if your baby is chewing his fists and watching you eat, is he not ready for solids?  No, this is a developmental stage where the baby is learning more about himself and the world around him.  These signs do not mean he is ready for food.

If your baby has started waking in the night when they used to sleep through, does this mean they need food?  Again, this is not the case.  As baby moves through one developmental stage to another and begins to learn new skills like rolling, and sitting up, it can disrupt their usual sleep patterns.  Again, this doesn’t mean they are ready for solid food. It means you may need to increase their milk intake by giving them more milk feeds.

Signs of Readiness

Now let’s look at the signs that DO mean your baby is to start solid food.
Your baby should be able to sit upright and hold their head steady.  They should be able to coordinate their eyes, hands and mouth so they can look at a piece of food, pick it up and put it in their mouth.  Finally, they should be able to swallow food. If a baby can’t swallow food easily, they tend to push the spoon/food out with their tongue. If you are planning on weaning before six months, speak to your health visitor for advice on how to start.

It is important to point out that even though weaning may have started, a baby’s main source of nutrition should be from milk until 12 months old. Choose a time of day when you and baby are relaxed, and give them some milk first so they are not too hungry.  You may be wondering about going back to work, and baby needing to be on 3 meals a day before they start nursery – this isn’t the case and your baby will adapt to the routine you set for them and what fits into your lives.  It may be that your baby doesn’t eat much at first, again this is normal and not something to worry about, your baby won’t be the only one. Remember the adage ‘Food is for fun, until they are one.’

Types of Weaning – Puree or Baby Led?

Puree-led means a baby is spoon fed.  You start with fruit and vegetables, gradually increasing different textures before introducing finger foods around 7/8 months old – no later as if a baby is fed only puree for too long, it can affect their development.  It can mean babies may not able to self-regulate their food intake so are more likely to over eat and not learn the sensations of being full.  It is therefore very important to follow baby’s cues and not keep giving them food if they have had enough.

Baby-led weaning is giving finger food or the same as what you eat, with no spoon feeding.  It helps a baby develop their pincer grip and also means that a baby can self-regulate their appetite more easily.  It also means families can sit down together and eat.  Be prepared for the mess though!  Mums often talk about the fear of their baby choking but gagging is often mistaken for choking and gagging is an important part of baby learning how to eat and is a protective mechanism.  Again, there is a phrase “Loud and red, let them go ahead. Silent and blue, they need help from you!”.  With baby led weaning, there is less control over what baby is eating and some mums may struggle with this.


Whatever way you choose to wean, follow your baby’s lead and do what works best for you both.  Ignore well meaning advice if it doesn’t sit right with you, and just allow yourself to be guided by your baby.  Weaning will be a lot more fun if you take the focus away from how much baby is eating, and instead allow them to explore in a sensory way the many different textures and tastes food has to offer in a relaxed environment.  This is a sure-fire way to foster a healthy attitude towards food that will take your baby right through their life.

Love Daisy x

Useful links for further reading:



Mama Truths: Traumatic Birth – What Does it Look Like?

My name is Fi and I had a traumatic birth experience.

On the face of it I had a perfect home birth. I had prepared with a Daisy Birthing course and Couples Workshop.  I had read every research article, blog, opinion piece and watched all the positive birth videos my heart could handle!

I wrote affirmations and my birth plan with pride and fierce concern for mine and my baby’s well being. I coached my husband on what to do with the pool, interventions and such like.

My community midwife whom I had seen for every single antenatal appointment was on holiday when I went into labour……

“I can’t find a heartbeat”

I just didn’t want to be fussed or touched.  I had agreed to allow one heart rate monitor to be done when the midwife arrived and then I just wanted to get on with it.  It was so quick, 3 hours all in really.  Twinkly lights, soft music, my mum rubbing my back, my husband tending the pool and my emotional needs.  The baby was low, I was pushing, he was moving.  I was convinced he wouldn’t fit and we all had a laugh!  Then the midwife tried to get a heart beat.  My husband asked her not to.  Then he left the room.  She did it anyway.

I can’t find a heart beat

All those things I said before, aren’t really memories I don’t think.  I recorded the birth for posterity. I watched it back and I think I now recall the images from the video, if that makes sense.  But those words, the words the midwife spoke when she tried to find my baby’s heart beat and couldn’t, are seared into my memory like fire.  I ‘woke’ from my labouring state, that deep and wondrous birthing state that allows women to flow with the sensations and bring their babies earthside.  I woke and I heard her say,

I can’t find a heart beat.”

I honestly thought there and then that my baby had died and I was stricken.  This is seared into my memory and I replay it so often.

This is a traumatic birth and resulting birth trauma.

No one person can say how you will feel about what happens to you during your labour.

No one can look in from the outside and tell you that you should be feeling grateful for a healthy baby and ignore your emotions about how your baby was born.

Traumatic birth does not have to be an emergency or flashing blue lights or life or death.

Plan A, B and C

This Daisy mum’s story shows the importance of planning for every eventuality:

“I really, really wanted to avoid any medical intervention, mainly because the thought of epidurals, forceps or a c-section made me feel sick with fear!  A friend of mine, who had a wonderful birth experience (my ideal!) recommended Daisy to me as she had found it really helpful”

Having strong feelings about the type of birth you want is normal and natural, despite what people may try to persude you otherwise!  But it’s so important to think about what might happen.

“I was offered an epidural to help me cope.  This was something I was adamant I hadn’t wanted and I found myself almost immediately accepting once I understood that these tests would be taking place every hour and I was still only 5cms dilated.  My husband was so sweet in double checking with me that this was really what I wanted as I had made him promise to do so, even if I said I wanted one, as I really didn’t want to go down that route!  I remember explaining to him that all of my tools had been taken from me”

When things take a route you neither wanted nor hoped for it can be hard to carry on as your options are slowly taken away.  This mama had a great support team around her.

I remember saying that my birth plan must have seemed very naïve and silly, but they reassured me that it had actually been very realistic; I had laid out my plan A, B and even C (which is the one I ended up having!) and had always said they were only to be followed where possible and safe for my baby and me. I still find it funny that out of my whole birth plan, it was actually only a few lines that ended up being the most important and useful to the medical team.”

It’s never silly to plan, this team found the words regarding plan C helpful and it proved so useful to this mama’s experience.

Despite it being my worst-case scenario my actual caesarean was a very positive experience and is filled with very happy memories for me”

But emotions are real and birth grief is real, even with positive memories to cherish:

“I was also really disappointed with myself as I felt like I had not handled the pain well at all and had taken the easy option by accepting the epidural so early on. I also felt that I hadn’t given birth “properly” as I had ended up with a caesarean. On top of this I felt sad and angry that I had been denied the gentle and natural birth that I had so wanted”

Healing and Moving On from Traumatic Birth

It is possible to heal from traumatic birth. Surround yourself with people who will listen and respect what you are saying.  Seek help from online communities and tell your GP or Health Visitor.  Access the perinatal mental health team in your area.

If you can then therapies such a counselling, EMDR and hypnotherapy can help too.  Perhaps you might want to explore the idea of a rebirthing ceremony to help build new and better memories of when you first met your baby.

But above all, please know that you are not alone.

Love Fi x

Pregnant and Emotional? You’re Not Alone!

Sometimes it seems that the words ‘pregnant and emotional’ go hand in hand!  Pregnancy is a time when the body is changing and needs to still support you whilst also now carrying and nurturing your baby.  Your emotions may be all over the place and no wonder as your body is producing more hormones and in much higher levels.  Your levels of oestrogen and progesterone ramp up which can leave you feeling rather irritable, perhaps weepier and even more forgetful (baby brain anyone?).  You are also going through a transformation into motherhood – whether for the first or subsequent time, so you are changing too.  At Christmas, emotions can also be heightened with all of the excitement and planning; families coming together who may not often see each other and for lots of other reasons.  Here Daisy teacher Ceri Elms focuses on how you can positively handle your emotions over this festive season and beyond – to make sure you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Worries and concerns

Thoughts and worries about life after pregnancy with a newborn can also cause an increase in the stress hormone, cortisol.  Questions such as: ‘how will my life change with a new born?’; ‘how will I cope?’; ‘will I get support from my partner/family/friends?’; ‘will I be a good mum?’ can all start keeping you awake at night.  The fact you are even worrying about being a good mum, means that you care enough in the first place, so odds are that you will be!  Don’t let a worry bog you down.  The best and most basic piece of advice is to share it.  Speak up and tell your partner/your friend/your caregiver/a support group (http://www.pandasfoundation.org.uk/pandas-support-groups/).  Once voiced, the worry can be discussed and practical advice can be given or sought.  A worry shared really is a worry halved – and often, a worry gone.  If someone knows you are concerned about not getting enough support for example, they know to give you support themselves and can help you find it from others too.

Fear and anxiety

Fear can be the ugliest of the emotions, creeping in when you least expect it and making you worry about pregnancy, the baby and birth.  Often this stems from women feeling a lack of control in pregnancy and also not understanding what is happening to their bodies and how they can prepare for birth.  The fear of the unknown and the fear perception of birth is often reinforced by its ‘painful’ and ‘passive’ depiction in the media.  In addition, people’s traumatic and dramatic birth stories that really aren’t helping anyone to think more positively about birth, are often to blame.  Anxiety is the friend of fear and they often go hand in hand and can set your mind racing about all the things that could go wrong and make you focus on the negative.  This in turn can cause you to feel tense and possibly even panic.  In labour and birth, fear and anxiety produce high levels of the hormone adrenaline which can inhibit the birth hormones oxytocin and endorphins.  This can make your labour longer, less efficient and more intense – thus almost seeming to validate the horror stories and worries you had in the first place.  This fear-tension-pain cycle can be broken however, and quite easily.

Preparing for a positive birth

How do you protect yourself from things you don’t want to hear and see about birth and learn about how it can actually unfold positively?  How do you find out that most births are actually not traumatic or dramatic at all, and that you can absolutely be in control of your own birth story?  It’s actually very simple.  Prepare, prepare, prepare!  Do your own research, based on fact and reality, not on hearsay and dramatization.  Talk to the people who are surrounded by birth every day (not just relying on sources who have given birth once, maybe more, and are putting their perceptions and experiences on to you!).  Learn about all of the different ways it can happen and how you can actually help the birth process be more efficient, shorter and less intense.  Your midwives, consultants, positive birth groups and antenatal teachers are your best resources here.  Your Daisy teacher and Daisy village of other mums are always here for you too, and we have been there, felt it and dealt with it ourselves so use us for advice, support or just an ear to listen.  Check out the fabulous Facebook group Mama You’ve Got This! https://www.facebook.com/groups/MamaYouveGotThis/ for support and advice.  It’s also perfectly acceptable to tell people that you are focusing on your own positive birth so you don’t want to be influenced by their stories, thank you.

The power of an active birth

It may be beneficial to stop watching the way society and the media wants us to view birth too.  Turn off those TV shows that only show birth one way (the painful, medicalised and woman as just a patient usually) and look for other videos online of birth that is positive, natural and ‘active’ too.  An ‘active birth’ doesn’t mean the woman is constantly moving around in athletic poses at all – it’s about having the freedom and choice to move and knowing how to work with your body, and balancing movement with rest – what positions and movements you do is completely up to you.  Find out how different birth can be when the woman feels prepared, in control, listened to, respected and empowered by trusting her own body and instincts – as we were made to do.  You may be surprised how beautiful, natural and instinctive birth really can be.

The importance of self care

Another simple way to de-stress and get control over any emotions is to look after yourself.  Do something just for you: have a bubble bath; read your favourite book in a quiet room whilst someone else deals with the other kids/family for a bit; go for a walk; listen to soothing or uplifting music; just relax and breathe, and focus on how amazing your body and baby are.  Self care is incredibly important for your well-being, both emotionally and physically, and it can be surprisingly restorative and rejuvenating to just take a little time out, just for you.  Also remembering to eat well, drink lots of water and exercise regularly can make a huge difference to how you feel and really boost your mood.  Plus exercise promotes endorphins, which is a key birth hormone too.

Pregnant and emotional?  Talk it through…

However you are feeling and whatever you are worrying about, please always find someone you trust, whether a caregiver, professional or loved one and let them know.  Don’t just put it down to your emotions and suffer in silence.  You will be surprised how others can help you and how they will change their approach towards you, perhaps being more practically helpful around the house/work, more sensitive, supportive and positive.  Heightened emotions and worry can cause you sleepless nights (at a time when sleeping is already a challenge right?!), and can in more extreme cases cause panic attacks or other medical issues, so for the sake of you and your baby, please make sure you reach out.    

Here’s wishing you all a very Happy Christmas, here’s a free relaxation download from us, to you: https://thedaisyfoundation.com/pregnancy-relaxation/

Love Daisy x

Useful links:

Find your nearest Positive Birth Movement group: https://www.positivebirthmovement.org/groups/

If you are interested in finding out more about Daisy’s complete birth preparation course for you & your birth partner: https://thedaisyfoundation.com/daisy-parent/

 Helplines: https://www.mind.org.uk

Does a Birth Partner Need to Prepare? Yes!! Read on to Find Out Why….

One of the most important roles at any birth is that of the birth partner.  You may not know as much as the midwife or doula (unless you are one as well!) – perhaps you know next to nothing about the birth process!  We can help with that by the way… https://thedaisyfoundation.com/daisy-parent/.  But your role is key, and can really make a big difference to how the mother feels during and after the birth.  Here Daisy teacher Ceri Elms explains just what you can do you support the mum to be in your life…

What does a birth partner do?

There is evidence that having one-to-one continuous support from someone you love, trust and/or know well can help women to cope better with labour and have a more positive and happy experience.  With the right support from a birth partner, the birth can also be shorter, more efficient and more straightforward, so it’s an important role not to be taken lightly.

So, what exactly is your role as birth partner?  In brief, you are a tower of strength: a rock, a supporting beam for the mother to literally hang from if needed in different positions for birth; as well as providing emotional support, encouragement, motivation and comfort as and when needed/requested/demanded.  If you have been chosen to be the birth partner, whether you are a husband, wife, partner, family member, friend, colleague or professional, it is a huge honour.  Yes, it is a big responsibility which you are more than capable of and can carry out with pride, ease and confidence…….with a little preparation.

Preparation is key

As with any important job, it pays to be prepared and know what you are doing.  You can give better support if you know what is happening, could happen and should happen.  Find out about labour and birth and the rights and choices available.  Use reliable online resources to read up on the signs of labour and when to go to hospital/call the midwife so you can help your partner decide what to do together.  Research the stages of labour so you both know what to expect and can help support each other in the best breathing techniques, movements and positions for each stage of the birth journey.  Doing an antenatal class or workshop together is a great way to prepare as you share the learning, and ask questions together.  You can then practice afterwards and build on your communication and practical skills – your birth toolkit.

 You don’t need an in-depth knowledge of every part of labour but a good overview of the process can really help build confidence in both of you.  Once you have knowledge, you have power, and once you start to understand what is happening and why, it becomes more natural and instinctive to work with the body’s natural resources.  This can then help labour to progress as you realise the importance of creating and maintaining a relaxed, low-adrenaline and calm environment for a more efficient and positive birth experience, however it happens.

What to expect

Once mum is in the throes of labour, she may go into a ‘birth bubble’ and forget to breathe properly or ask questions when options are presented.  This is where you come in.  With a little preparation beforehand, you can learn the same breathing techniques and positions that can help her.  You can remind her and talk her through them if she needs you to – even breathing with her to set the pace and rhythm to help keep her on track.   You can reassure her simply through holding hands if she wants to, or giving her eye contact to let her know you are with her.  This can really help to keep her calm and relaxed.  Comfortable and easy communication, and respecting her wants and consent, is so important between birth mum and birth partner.  Sometimes all anyone needs to hear are words of encouragement or positivity.  ‘Dig deep’ and ‘you can do this’ were the two phrases my husband and birth partner kept saying that really did keep me going and helped me to believe I could during my labour.  And I did!

 Mum may also forget to drink or eat or look after herself as birth takes over, so this becomes your job.  Make sure mum is hydrated, offer water or squash often; make sure she has enough energy and fuel through food if she can stomach it before, during and also after labour.  You are in charge of stocks, supplies and bringing change for vending machines!  Encourage her to rest when she can; remind her to go to the loo; keep checking she is comfortable, warm and feels safe and listened to and you aren’t just tending to her needs, you are actively helping her to increase her levels of oxytocin – the fuel for labour.

 Remember that you are there for her, ready and prepared to help, but also prepared and ready for her not to want you to help in the moment.  Don’t take anything she does or says to heart: birth is an incredibly physical and emotional experience and no-one knows how they will react until they are in it.  Even if she has given birth before, each one is different.

Birth planning process

Knowing what your partner wants and being part of the birth plan process is really important too.  This helps to ensure that her wishes and preferences – and perhaps yours too if you are the father or mother of the child also – are listened to, and help her to make informed decisions on the day if things take a different course.  Similarly, if other options, pain relief alternatives or treatments are offered, which is quite likely as its rare for birth to go completely ‘to plan’.  Encouraging your partner to make a birth plan, whether visual or written gives you the confidence to be able to speak up on her behalf if she isn’t able to.  Sharing the load of making potentially big decisions and researching options before the birth can really help her to feel supported and like she isn’t doing this on her own.  Which of course, she isn’t!

You can make a real difference!

Preparation really is key and gives you both shared confidence and is something you can do together to increase trust and communication too.  This is such a pivotal moment in both of your lives, and you wouldn’t buy a house, sit an exam, get married etc… without a little planning and preparation first.  It makes sense then not to be a birth partner without knowing what to expect, what is expected of you and how you can best support each other through the incredible birth journey.  You’ve both got this!

Mama Truths: Do You Enjoy Being Pregnant? If Not, It’s Ok!

Did you enjoy being pregnant – or if you are currently pregnant at the moment would you say that you are enjoying it?!  If not, it really is okay.  Here Daisy teacher Chloe talks about her own experiences of pregnancy and explains why for some women it may simply be a means to an end…


I did not enjoy either of my pregnancies if I am being totally honest.  I had debilitating tiredness with my first, and awful sickness with my second.  I had antenatal depression with both (https://thedaisyfoundation.com/antenatal-depression/) and once they started kicking, the feeling of having something move around inside me made me cringe.  I think I actually said to my husband at one point that it was like having an alien inside me.  How horrible does that sound?  It was not that I was unhappy to be pregnant, I wanted my babies very much, but I definitely didn’t enjoy the journey of growing them.

It is important that we, as women feel able to talk and be open about how we feel.  Yes being pregnant is such a magical time.  It is something only we get to experience and each pregnancy is magical.  However, for many women it is not the blooming, rosy cheeked, enjoying every second of the whole nine months thing.  I definitely don’t begrudge women for who this is the case and I know a few of my friends loved every minute of being pregnant.  Some even enjoyed the sickness as it meant baby was growing.  Good for them I say, but for me – I would give birth 100 times over but being pregnant? No thanks!


Let that guilt go!  There is nothing to feel guilty about if you don’t love being pregnant.  It does not mean that you do not want your baby or that you will not love your baby.  I love my kids to the end of the world!  Yes, they drive me mad sometimes but I could never imagine my life without them.  Still didn’t like growing them though!  If you find that you are not enjoying it, try and do something for you, something you may not have chance to do very often.  Enjoy a spa day; pamper yourself; get your nails or hair done; wallow in a warm bath for hours with a good book.  Have a nap in the day!  Spend a whole morning treating yourself with some online shopping (because walking around the shops may be a bit too tiring when you’re feeling massive and bloated!).  Take up a hobby, something to take your mind of it, like crochet or knitting (babies need clothes don’t they?).  Write a diary or a blog to chronicle your journey.  Do a puzzle or play a board game.  Something – anything – to take your mind off how you feel for a bit.

It’s a journey

If you don’t like being pregnant, just think of it as a means to an end.  You get pregnant because you want a baby and pregnancy is the journey we go on to get one.  Being pragmatic about it, and just accepting what it is may help you on your way.  Think about what it is you don’t enjoy and try to do something to help…

Tiredness: can you sneak a nap in here and there?  Who doesn’t love the chance to relax and sleep in the day?  We rarely get chance as adults.

Sickness: it should pass when you’re into the second trimester but if not, do some deep breathing and maybe research some techniques that may help.

Feeling sluggish: find a suitable exercise class or an antenatal class (maybe Daisy Birthing – shameless plug!).  This will give you a focus each week and a time to bond with your baby as well as giving you the benefits of movement, breathing and relaxation.

Being proactive at finding ways to deal with being pregnant in a positive way may help you feel better in your mind about the whole pregnancy thing.

Highs and Lows

Pregnancy is a bit like a rollercoaster: full of highs and lows!  Emotions can be fraught: you may cry at television adverts one minute and feel on top of a rainbow the next.  Add in to the mix extreme tiredness, sickness, bloating, aches and pains.  And if you suffer from Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) or Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) it may be an even more difficult time.  Putting on weight and a growing belly can be a concern for some people and one which they find hard to come to terms with.  For these reasons and more it can be clear to see why some of us don’t savour every moment.

Love it or hate it – being pregnant is magical.  You are growing a new human being; a new life.  And while you may not enjoy aspects of it, just take a moment to look at yourself in the mirror in awe and admiration – you’ve got this!  You are totally awesome!  You are on your journey to becoming a mummy for the first, second, third, fourth or more time.  With each subsequent time being just as special because each pregnancy is different.  Just accept that it may not be all roses and chocolates for you personally and you’ll get through it.

In the grand scheme of things, nine months is not a long time.  It is not even a year!  You can do it for nine months.  At the end of the journey you will be a mummy and the last nine months will melt away into nothing.  I would do it again in a heartbeat if only I could get my husband to agree!

Love Daisy x

Mama Truths: The Postnatal Period – What to Expect and How to Survive It!

Sometimes we are so focused on preparing for our baby’s arrival that we forget to think about how we may feel after giving birth.  Here Daisy Teacher Meg Hill talks about the postnatal period and what it entails…..

What is the postnatal period?

The postnatal period is roughly those first 6 weeks following the birth of your baby during which you start to recover physically and emotionally from giving birth. And I say ‘start’ because although (as we’ll see), there’s an expectation that women heal quickly – if not immediately; research has been conducted which shows that women aren’t healed for up to a year – even with a straightforward, low-intervention birth.

What happens during the postnatal period?

If you’ve discussed your postnatal period with your midwives, it’s likely that you’ll have focussed on those first few days following the birth of your baby.
This conversation will probably focus on the care you’ll receive in those first couple of weeks.  In the immediate days following birth you will be monitored for bleeding, bowel and bladder function.  Midwives will also ensure that feeding is established and make sure that you know how to care for your baby.  If you give birth in a hospital the average stay for a vaginal birth is 1-2 days, and for a caesarean section 3-4 days.  However, if you’re well following a vaginal delivery and choose to leave, you could potentially leave hospital within a couple of hours.

For most women, therefore, a lot of that initial monitoring will be carried out in hospital.  Midwives will then visit you at home following an individualised care plan, and then your care will be transferred over to the Health Visiting team.  This may be at around day 10 but it varies across different Trusts and might also be later if there’s a need for you to stay under the midwifery team.  As your baby gets a little older you will start to see your health care professionals less frequently – this doesn’t mean that they aren’t still there for you though, you can contact them at any time if you have concerns.

Why is it so important? All that matters is a healthy baby!

So what’s so important about the postnatal period?  Well even with a straightforward delivery your body has been through some really big changes: growing in size, making new organs, increasing blood volume then releasing baby during delivery, getting rid of the placenta, the extra fluid, lactating…it takes a lot of hard work from your body.  And that’s not to mention any other related discomforts such as Pelvic Girdle Pain or gestational diabetes!

But a healing body isn’t the only thing.  You will have heard many people say ‘all that matters is a healthy baby’ when talking about birth but is this true?  Does this diminish what a mother goes through in having a baby, and all that comes afterwards?  Mothers matter too and mental health during the postnatal period is particularly important: there’s a transition time between not being a mother and being a mother.  The postnatal period immediately following birth – that first month and a half – is the time when a woman is particularly vulnerable to developing post-natal depression.  So it’s especially important that a woman is supported both by healthcare professionals and other people in her life.  This can ensure that if she starts developing signs and symptoms of it, she’s well looked after in the most appropriate way.

Around 10% of mothers (and 4% of fathers) will develop PND and it’s thought to be a number of factors coming together rather than there being just one cause. These include having previous mental health issues: feeling unsupported by partner, family and friends: having a birth they feel was traumatic: struggling to breastfeed and being exhausted.  If you think that 25% of women suffer mental health issues in their lifetime, 40% would describe their birth as traumatic, and 59% don’t breastfeed for as long as they would initially hope to – highlighting a lack of support to help them breastfeed successfully – you can see that the postnatal period is a really important time to be supporting a mother.

What do women do during the postnatal period?

Having seen the importance of the postnatal period to ensure that mums are physically and mentally looked after and healing, what do we as a society think or expect mothers to be doing in the postnatal period?

When baby is born, how quickly are you asked if people can come and have a cuddle?  Pretty quickly, right?  And how comfortable do you feel if someone walks into your house asking them to make a brew, or push a hoover round?  You don’t, do you?  I certainly didn’t!  So you end up making tea, and pottering about when you should be resting.  And I know some of you are thinking that you’re not the type to be lazing on the sofa while people work around you but factor in soreness, tiredness and blood loss potentially increasing if you’re too active…

If you’ve been in hospital for a few days and not seen the outside of those walls, and you need to get something from Tesco (and admit it, you want to show off your tiny baby!), you pop to the shops which always takes longer than you think it will.  And maybe you have other children who need taking to school…  Or your grandma can’t drive so you offer to travel the hour it takes to go and see her…  And your workplace want to meet the new baby…  It all starts adding up, doesn’t it?  And very quickly instead of resting and allowing your body to heal, you’re trying to carry on at exactly the same speed as you were before you got pregnant!

And that’s not to mention the physical things that you need to learn as well! How to care for baby when they’re here; how to recognise their feeding cues, sleeping cues, if they’re over-stimulated; if they need their nappy changing…  Parenthood is a learning curve and a steep one for you, dad and baby!  It’s like walking into a CEO job of a Fortune 500 company knowing you’ve lied on your CV about your A levels – you know you can do it but you’re scared of being found out anyway!

You can see then, that when a mother is in a vulnerable state anyway, any anxiety she has over how she’s parenting (the so-called mummy wars!) could overwhelm her and link into her emotional state possibly contributing to her PND.  Part of this comes from the expectations she has of how life with a newborn is.  Perhaps she’ll feel like she’ll ‘bounce back’ like magazines insist on celebrity mothers doing – or carry on her life exactly as before because it looks to her like everyone else is.  Perhaps she doesn’t expect the constant feeding, or short bursts of sleep to continue for more than a week or so.  Perhaps she doesn’t fully understand the sheer relentlessness of looking after another person who relies on you for everything.  It’s easy to look at a snapshot of other people’s lives and think they’ve got it together while you’re in 2 day old clothes and haven’t washed your hair for a week and feel like you’re failing.  But if we can change your expectation that you have of a newborn and the way your new life is going to be, then it’s a great way to help stop that feeling of helplessness that you’re not doing things ‘right’.  One of the overwhelming things we hear from new mothers is ‘I didn’t know it would be like this’ and this is what we’re here to help you with.

What did women used to do?

It’s no surprise that as life generally has got faster-paced and more demands placed on us, that the demands placed on a new mother have increased.  There has been a shift in what she would be expected to do and how others would support her.

Historically, in a practice called ‘churching’, a woman in the UK would be set apart from their community for 5-6 weeks (or 40 days) while they tended to their new baby and healed.  During this time they would receive help from other close women – usually family or neighbours.  The timings differed slightly depending on which variant of Christianity they were but at the 40 day or 6 week point they would be reintroduced to their community with a blessing at their church. Although this was primarily a religious ceremony, the 40 day timing linked closely with the time it takes for a mother’s body to have that physical healing process, and this time frame is seen over and over across different cultures.
This tradition has fallen by the wayside in the UK due to a number of factors: the decline of Christianity, the medicalisation and masculinisation of birth and the birth world, migration of labour creating more fragmented communities, changes to the working patterns of women…many things.  But increasingly women are trying to carve back this time for themselves to be looked after.

What happens around the world?

I’m willing to bet that you’ve either said or heard about a woman in a different culture giving birth in a field then getting right back to the work they were doing, right? It’s a tale trotted out frequently but actually it doesn’t have much basis in truth.  Most pre-industrial or traditional cultures all honour the 40 day period after a woman has given birth, with additional support being given to her and her family.  Nobody is compelled to feel like they have to get right back into the swing of things, and they’re honoured and celebrated for bringing new life into the world.

Consider these practises from across the world:

  • China – zuo yuezi – sitting the month – a big focus on the warm, nourishing food for the new mother to eat and replenish herself with, as well as practical support.
  • Korea – no cold or hard foods, and no going out into cold weather. New mums are looked after for 21 days but sometimes this increases all the way up to 100!
  • Latin America – la cuarentena (quarantine) – Approved food, no sex, no hair washing, lots of rest!

Now it’s clear that times have moved on and there’s very few women who would consent to following the full confinement to the full extreme – I definitely couldn’t go without washing my hair for more than a couple of days!  But it’s interesting that universally there is an acceptance that time cherishing the mother after a baby is born is really, really important for so many reasons.  The way in which we look after the mother and allow her the space she needs to recuperate and to learn how to be a mother shows how we understand and appreciate the newborn baby.  In some respects, having that protected time without having to worry about too much of the outside world can make the intensity of life with a newborn seem easier as your focus is on them and not a hundred other things.

Make a plan for the postnatal period

When you’re pregnant and planning for life with a baby, think about creating a postnatal plan. After all, we spend time planning our births, planning what car seat and pram we’ll use, what nursery they’ll attend – isn’t planning to protect your wellbeing equally as important?  Think about who can help you in the early days, and what they can do that’s practical and will mother the mother.  Think about what external support you might need and where you could go for that. Think about if things aren’t going so well and you need help urgently – what might that look like and have you got people who know what to look for?

Most of all – take care of yourself, and enjoy that lovely new baby.

Love Daisy x

Informed Choice vs Too Much Information: Striking a Balance in Birth preparation

When it comes to understanding and weighing up your options about birth, it’s easy to feel daunted as there is a lot of information out there.  How do you find the information that will prepare you for birth, and not scare you?  Where do you start, and what do you really need to know in order to make an informed choice?  Here Daisy teacher Ceri Elms explains all…

Learning to work with your body 

First things first, you already know how to give birth. It is something women have been doing quite literally since the beginning of womankind so you have the natural ability and instincts within you already.  You just need to believe in yourself, trust your body and use the resources available to you to make the experience as positive and efficient as possible.

Learning what is happening to your body in pregnancy and labour can help you to feel more confident and prepared and make you feel more in control, no matter what happens.  When you learn that you can use gentle movements to ease indigestion, or that the positions you get into on a regular daily basis can affect the position your baby gets into in the womb you can work with your body and feel empowered through knowledge.  For example, if you often lay back on the sofa to rest and sit at a desk all day leaning back in your chair, you may find that your baby is encouraged to settle into a posterior position (back to back) which can make their descent less efficient and more challenging for you.   Learning other positions that you can adopt instead, such as getting into all fours, using a birthing ball as a seat or sitting cross legged, can encourage your baby into a more favourable anterior position.  These positions can also help to bring balance to your womb and open up and release vital birthing muscles.  As well as making things more comfortable for you in the long run,  this is very powerful practical information to have at your disposal.

Birth Choices

It’s clear to see how learning more about the changes in your body during pregnancy and birth  and what may happen in labour may help you to keep calm and feel in control.  In addition, learning the practical things you can do to look after yourself and your growing baby makes sense and has huge benefits.  But how about your birth choices?  How can you make sense of all the options available to you?  From the kind of birth you want (homebirth, hospital birth, c-section, vaginal delivery etc…); to the finer details e.g. do you want a managed or natural 3rd stage of labour (the expulsion of the placenta)?  How do you even know which option you do want, and can you change your mind?!  It may seem overwhelming at first, but there are only so many ways a baby can be born and only a certain number of drugs, interventions and treatments that may be proposed, so getting a good balanced over-view is actually easier than you may think (as is getting too much information, but we will come to that in a bit!).

 The best way to get your head around your birth and what you want is to prepare and ask questions now, whilst you are pregnant.  Use your midwife and consultants, or your GP.  They are used to people asking questions and they are there to help you decide what is right for you and your baby.  Never feel afraid of asking ‘too many questions’.  I kept a log of questions on my phone which I kept adding to whenever a new thought or worry popped into my head, and whenever I had a midwife appointment I went through my list and wrote her answers in brief next to each one.  We did joke about my ‘never-ending’ list of questions, but she answered every one of them and I had them to hand to refer to when I was making my birth plan and it just made me feel more confident, less anxious and more clued up.

Informed Choice

Making an informed choice about your birth means knowing what your options are in each scenario through asking questions.  Perhaps you may join an antenatal course where you can discuss options freely and openly.  In addition, you can do some of your own research and reading on reputable sites such as www.nhschoices.co.uk or https://www.which.co.uk/birth-choice.  The Daisy Foundation also has a fantastic, accessible round up of the key informed choices you will want to consider around birth, and other areas of parenting too, all in one handy place – bookmark this and use it as a starting point to creating your own fully informed choices https://thedaisyfoundation.com/inform-my-choice/

 Remember that you do have choices in every birth scenario, even if it doesn’t feel like it.  For example, you might be thinking “I’m having a caesarean, so what choices do I have?”  Lots!  You can choose if you want to see the birth by having the screen lowered (if not an emergency); you can choose to walk to the operating theatre and put yourself on to the operating table, rather than be ‘wheeled’ in; you can choose to be talked through the operation (if not under general anaesthetic).  There are always choices in every birth situation so always ask.

 You can consent, decline or ask for more information at any point.  Whether it is about a drug, intervention or treatment being recommended to you; or a change of course to your desired birth direction being discussed – to every detail in-between.  If you feel pressured into making a certain decision through fear or coercion then this is not consent.  Informed consent is when you are told about and understand the risks and benefits to any treatment or option being offered to you, as well as being informed about other options you could take instead.  This may include the option of doing nothing (more on that later).  You  should also be given the chance and plenty of time to ask further questions and have them answered to your satisfaction as well as being able to discuss what you want to do with medical staff and/or your family/birth partner/s etc…  All of these steps should lead to you making a decision that you believe is in the best interest for you and your baby, based on facts and information.

 Preparing for birth

To help you prepare for birth, it is a great idea to book in a visit to the labour ward or birth centre that you plan to use to have a tour and talk with the midwives – usually you can just call them up to book a slot or speak to your midwife about this at your next appointment.  However, some maternity suites don’t offer this anymore as they are simply too busy, but they should have an option to access an online tour via their NHS website so do ask your midwives about this.  Walking around or seeing the rooms online and noting the different options first hand; familiarising yourself with the space, the smell (if possible), the lights; finding out how to access the building at 4am in the morning; knowing where to park etc… can all really help you to relax.  And to see what a ventouse or foetal monitoring unit looks like, and to find out if there are mobile epidural units at the hospital and see one up close.  This can make them all suddenly much less intimidating.  Then if you do decide to use them, or end up having to for any reason, the fear of the unknown will already have been removed, so you can focus on staying calm, breathing and keeping that adrenalin at bay.  If you are having a home birth, find out what the set up will be and what your midwives will be bringing and when etc..  If you want a water birth, take a look at a birthing pool and find out how long it takes to fill etc.. to make everything more familiar before your birthday day.

 Trust your instincts

Making informed choices is also about trusting your gut and going with your instincts.  Only you know what you want and it’s your birth at the end of the day.  You may understand the reasons for a ‘natural’ drug-free labour, and be fully armed with your Daisy breathing and active birth movements, but still want to have gas and air and pethidine if you need it because that’s your choice.  You don’t have to explain your reasons, just trust your instincts and get enough information to feel confident that whatever you decide is right for you and your baby.  Know as well that you can change your mind too (it’s advisable to speak to your midwife/consultant team about local protocol around birth options and changing them on the day too so you know what to expect). 

 Use your B.R.A.I.N!

The key questions to ask about each stage of birth and any interventions, drugs, treatments or courses of action being discussed or proposed are: what are my options?; what are the pros and cons to each of them?; and what support will I receive to make the right decision for me and my baby?

 A great way to remember how to make a calm and informed decision, in any situation, is to use your B.R.A.I.N and ask the following questions (it’s also a great idea to share this with your birth partner so they can support you in making the right decision):

 B – BENEFITS: what are the benefits of this option?

R – RISKS: what are the risks involved?

A – ALTERNATIVES: are there any other alternatives available?

I – INTUITION: what does your intuition say, how do you feel about it in your gut?

N – NOTHING: what will happen if you do nothing? (Sometimes simply waiting for a bit can be an option too)

If you have given yourself time to find out about all your options, even if you don’t think you will need them, you will be confident enough to make a change that’s right for you in the moment.  You might be planning a home water birth so don’t think you need to know about c-sections or labour wards, but birth doesn’t always follow the path we would like it to. You may end up having to go to hospital and having a caesarean if complications arise.  If you haven’t prepared yourself for this as a possibility at all and don’t know what may happen or what options and rights you have in this situation or what you can still do to keep calm and positive, it could be a scary and potentially traumatic experience.  But it really doesn’t have to be.  It’s all about building as full a picture as possible of ‘what happens if…’, so you can pick and choose the elements that work for you and understand what is happening if things change course, as they may well do.  Being prepared is the key to staying calm, confident and positive.

 Too much information?

There is a tipping point however, when ensuring you are informed and know your options, can turn into over saturating yourself with too much information which can be confusing, make you more anxious and cause you to question what you really feel.  The best advice I can give you, that I wish I had followed during my pregnancy and birth planning, is step away from search engines and chat forums (and you don’t need to read all the birth books!).  It’s so tempting to keep searching for article after article, blog after blog and opinion after opinion about birth or perhaps get fixated on a certain area of birth that really scares you.  For me, that was episiotomies and the bearing down stage which I didn’t think I had the ability to do.  As a result, I read too much about both and became even more frightened of being cut or tearing, and even more convinced I wasn’t capable of giving birth (I hadn’t found Daisy Birthing at this point sadly!).  In the end, I had an episiotomy and I didn’t care one bit as at the time it was the best decision for my baby, and I managed to give birth and bear down just fine, despite doubting myself and despite every horror story I had read and listened to about possible complications and negative birth experiences.

That’s the other main piece of advice I’d like to give you, take friends, family members, and other well-meaning people’s birth stories as just that – their stories.  Just because it happened to them or their friend’s aunt’s daughter, doesn’t mean it will happen to you!  We still have a society that likes to shout about the negative, traumatic and horrible things that can happen – rather than celebrating the wonderful births that take place every day where things do go to plan; or things work out well regardless of the twists and turns!  These births, the positive, empowering and ‘ordinary’ ones (though no births are ever ordinary in my opinion as birth, in all its forms, is amazing!), are actually the most common.  They just don’t make as juicy a headline, or as shocking a story so sadly they don’t get the air time or sharing that they really should.

I hope you have the birth that you want, and that you find the time to prepare yourself for what can happen, even if it isn’t what you want right now. I also hope that if your birth doesn’t ‘go to plan’, and isn’t quite what you imagined, that you have the confidence to ask questions, make informed choices and to understand the other options available to you.  However your birth happens, I hope you feel as calm, positive and as in control as you possibly can, and that you feel listened to and empowered by having choices.  And let’s do all women a favour, and keep sharing more of our positive birth experiences.

Love Daisy x

Mama Truths: Piles and How to Deal with Them

Piles…haemorrhoids…bum grapes (yes, really)…whatever you want to call them, affect 1 in 10 women during pregnancy and around 25% of women who get piles during birth, still have them 6 months later.  Talk about adding insult to injury right?!  In today’s Mama Truths Daisy teacher Ceri gets to the bottom of piles (sorry) and how to deal with them.

What are piles?

In simple terms, piles are swollen veins in the bum.  They may be inside the anus or stick out externally and can be as small as a raisin (bet you’ll never look at one of those the same way again after reading this…) or as big as a grape.

Will I know if I have piles?

Um, yes.  If you are ‘lucky’ they will just be a bit itchy and uncomfortable.  They can cause sharp pain and bleeding when you go to the toilet, and in some cases (and unfortunately, I speak from bitter experience here) they can be debilitatingly painful.  They can make it difficult to sit down properly and make each bowel movement an excruciating experience that will require your Daisy Out breath just to get through it (and no, I am not exaggerating but not all cases are this bad).

Sounds terrible – how can I avoid them?

Unfortunately, for some women, pregnancy alone can just make you more prone to piles because of the pressure your growing uterus puts on the pelvic blood vessels.  Also the hormones Relaxin and Progesterone seem to conspire against you to cause the walls of these veins to relax .  This means that they swell more easily and slow down the intestinal tract which can lead to constipation; which likely results in prolonged straining during bowel movements. Straining is one of the biggest causes of piles. 

 During birth, it is the strain you can put on your pelvic floor, in particular the anus, whilst pushing that can cause piles to develop.  This is another reason that we encourage you to bear down and not push during Daisy Birthing classes: we really don’t want you to get haemorrhoids if you can help it!

 One of the best things you can do to lessen your chances of getting piles or to speed up the healing process if you do get them/have them already, is to eat a high fibre diet with plenty of water every day.  This is probably more water than you think you need – around 8-10 glasses daily is ideal; and get some regular exercise too.  This means stacking your plate with lots of fresh fruit, veggies, wholegrains and beans: a healthy balanced diet basically, and doing some light daily activity, perhaps a brisk walk with your baby or some yoga style stretches.  All of this is to keep you regular, and keep thing moving along your digestive system and out – you do not want a build-up of bigger poos to have to pass due to constipation or sluggish digestion, believe me.  And of course keep working on those pelvic floor exercises to keep things toned and maintained down there: all positive things which will help in other areas of your pregnancy and postnatal recovery as well.

What can I do to relieve the pain of piles?

Witch hazel will become your best friend so stock up on it now just in case!  You can get some incredibly cooling and soothing pre-soaked witch hazel wipes specifically designed for treating piles.  Alternatively, you can make your own cold compress by soaking a clean wad of toilet paper with some witch hazel.  It works by helping to reduce swelling and discomfort and feels so good.

 Ice packs covered in soft loo roll can give an instant relief to the area (never apply direct to your skin – ouch!).

 Having a warm (not hot!) bath can also help and it ensures the area is kept clean, which is vital to prevent further discomfort and infection.  Some people swear by lavender oil (a natural anti-inflammatory), but test a little first on a cloth to the affected area if you can, as it may aggravate any cuts or sensitive areas.  Alternating ice packs with warm baths can also give some very welcome relief throughout the day.

You won’t want to wipe your bum as normal with a dry piece of toilet paper after a bowel movement as this can aggravate and open up any cuts which are starting to heal, so get a jug and wash the area instead, then pat dry gently with soft toilet paper, or use some moist baby wipes instead.  This is also where the pre-soaked witch hazel pads can come in to their own too (I really cannot recommend them enough for such sweet relief after going to the loo as a piles sufferer and survivor).

 Buy the softest plain luxury loo roll you can, you will thank yourself for it later, and please do yourself a favour and stay away from any scented varieties.

 If sitting is uncomfortable, then you can buy doughnut shaped inflatable/stuffed cushions with a hole in the middle to help give you a softer landing, (or use an inflatable swimming ring if you have one).  The idea is that this shape of ‘seat’ offers weight relief and takes the pressure off legs, thighs and the rear.  Standing and sitting slowly with support can also help you not to twist or tilt or put pressure on the affected area – no sudden movements!

 You can take pain relief tablets such as ibuprofen to help ease the swelling and pain, just talk to your GP first if you are breastfeeding.  There are also over-the-counter creams, ointments and suppositories that you can buy to help with swelling and itching but don’t use them for longer than 5 days as they can make the skin more sensitive, which you don’t need.  It’s always worth asking your pharmacist for advice, and if the problem lasts beyond a couple of days, seek your GP’s advice.  They may also be able to prescribe other treatments such as steroid cream to reduce inflammation, laxatives or a stool softening solution to ease bowel movements. 

 If you have any rectal stitches from an episiotomy or tear, then please consult your GP before trying any of the above, and if the pain is unbearable or if you start to avoid going to the loo because you are afraid of it (I know I was, and this only makes matters worse because then you can cause your stools to dry up and harden meaning bigger and more terrifying consequences than before), please seek help.  If the problem persists or gets any worse, always go to your GP sooner rather than later – your recovery is so important.

When will I be rid of them?

Piles can last just a few days, and for most women it’s just a temporary condition that passes quickly.  They can however also last a few months, sometimes more in extreme cases.  The piles will shrink and the pain will come and go though (in rare cases minor surgery may be required or specialist treatments) and they will become more manageable over time.  I ended up giving mine nicknames as a sort of coping mechanism, and because they soon became just another part of my postpartum body that I learnt to deal with using a combination of the suggestions above.  Do whatever you need to do to get through and follow these easy steps when you have to go to the loo

How to cope on the loo with piles

  • Take your time – you may not poo straight away after giving birth, but when you do, relax, breathe deeply and let it go. And don’t be afraid: the pain will pass, it really will.
  • Don’t push and don’t strain.  As we teach in Daisy Birthing, a clenched jaw closes the pelvic floor and you really want your rear to be able to release with ease in this delicate situation, so keep calm and don’t force it out!
  • Don’t sit on the loo for longer than you need to (read the magazine elsewhere – good diversion technique but it will encourage you to take longer!).  Sitting in the same position for too long can put un-necessary pressure on an already delicate area, so just get the job done – gently – and get out. 
  • Go to the loo as soon as you feel that you need to, don’t wait even if you are scared of what is coming, as waiting makes it much worse (trust me!)
  • Wipe gently, or better still wash and pat dry, and stay as clean as you can down there!

 Good luck! You’ve got this.

 Useful links:



 Further reading on the power of the Out breath to help with opening the bowels (this can also be beneficial after an epidural/ c-section) as well as its power to help breathe your baby out: https://thedaisyfoundation.com/positive-induction-using-power-breath/

Why Are We Afraid to Plan for Birth?

Women have been giving birth for a long time – we are one of the most successful species on planet Earth.  Yet it seems now more than ever that society wants to actively dissuade mums-to-be from planning the birth of their child.  Perhaps there is still the perception that a ‘plan’ is a rigid set of fluffy ideals that mums must be discouraged from attempting for fear of not achieving the perfect birth?!  Here Daisy teacher Fi Hennessy explores some of the reasons why we may be afraid to plan for birth…

The Perfect Birth

What even is the perfect birth? Let me tell you what the perfect birth is – one that mum, partner and baby can feel happy and positive about. That’s it.  A perfect birth is down to each individual to decide what they want and how they feel about it afterwards. It is simply nothing to do with you or me.

 When you are approaching one of the biggest events in your life, why wouldn’t you want to plan for it?  I often wonder if because we have a free at point of service NHS that mums are more reluctant to present a plan for birth, not wanting to be seen as ‘that’ mum who demands this and that.  If we had to pay and knew we’d be presented with a bill for however many thousands of pounds for a birth that we would be more inclined to ask for the best.  Need I remind you, we DO pay for our NHS!

 Birth is still shrouded in mystery and often the reason presented for not planning is that you can’t know what’s going to happen so why bother trying to plan?  Again, I say this is the perfect reason to plan!  Precisely because you can’t know how it’s going to go – why wouldn’t you want to work out your preferences for each stage?  Despite what people think birth is not mysterious and unknown and there are a finite amount of ways that baby will be coming out!

But I don’t know how I will react to labour – I just want all the drugs!

Of course you don’t know how you will react, especially if it is your first. That’s fine. All the more reason to plan. If you want all the drugs, great!  What order would you like them in?  What happens if you react badly to the drugs?  How will you mitigate the effects of the drugs on your labour?  All  of these things can be outlined in a birth plan.

A birth plan gives you the upper hand. It means you have probably done a little research into what might happen.  You may already know what your options are and how to go about getting them.  You may have heard of new information which could help you in your specific situation.  You are aware of available pain relief options, the benefits and disadvantages and this helps you to inform your choices.  You know you can choose where to give birth and the advantages of each location.

 So let’s collectively stop telling women they shouldn’t plan for their birth and actively helping them to decide what’s best for them.

Love Daisy x

Katy’s Birth Story: Pregnant and Prepared?

For some people the idea of ‘preparing’ for birth seems a little strange, and this was certainly the case for Katy.  Now a Daisy teacher herself, she shares her journey of how she went from being unsure about the reasons and benefits of ‘antenatal classes’ to becoming pregnant and prepared…..

Pregnant and prepared?

When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I was elated.  It hadn’t been an easy journey, but there it was – the blue line on the stick……  Oh, and the nausea……but I was (we were) over the moon.  I hadn’t done much reading around pregnancy or childbirth, but assumed that as long as I was where I needed to be (the hospital, in my mind) surrounded by midwives, doctors and drugs on the day of my child’s birth, everything would be ok.  I thought that there wasn’t much else I could do to prepare for the big day.  Yes, I signed up for an antenatal class – but I think that was more to meet friends than actually learn anything.

Fast forward a few months and my son arrived safely (in a hospital) but I was left feeling quite affected by the whole experience for some time.  I was lucky and the birth wasn’t particularly traumatic, but I had felt completely out of control of both the situation and my own body.

Pregnant….and prepared!

Several years on, following 2 miscarriages and a lot of sickness, we happily announced that we were expecting our 2nd child, a daughter.  After a lot of heartache and pain, I had started yoga to try to prepare my body as best I could for a successful pregnancy.  Once I fell pregnant I was keen to continue with the yoga classes and found a local antenatal yoga class run by a midwife.  The classes were a perfect way to escape, once a week, from my busy everyday life and soon became a regular part of my routine.  I attended the classes from around 16 weeks of pregnancy (once the sickness had subsided!) until 39 weeks. 

When I went into labour the following week, my body seemed to instinctively know what it needed to do.  I knew which positions felt comfortable, and when offered a bed to lie in, I politely but firmly refused.  I took some towels out of my bag and quietly went back to the comfortable (upright) position I had been in at home, on the floor.  Looking back I may have looked quite odd, going to ground as soon as I got in the room, but I was in my labour bubble and I knew where I needed to be.  This time around I had the confidence to go with my body and what it was telling me.  My daughter arrived not long after we arrived (much to the midwife’s surprise), in a (relatively!) peaceful, calm and controlled environment.  I felt completely in tune with my body and what it was doing and was positively buzzing afterwards.  My daughter was so content that she latched on and was feeding within 15 minutes of birth.

Daisy classes

At the time I didn’t know about the Daisy Foundation, nor did I know all the reasons why what I did 2nd time around would help me.  Knowing all I know now about active birth (and why lying on your back isn’t likely to help you); why breathing is so important (and vitally how to breathe at different stages of labour); what your body is doing in labour (and how to help keep things moving along) … I want to tell the world!  Every woman should have access to this information so that they too can have every chance at the birth that they want and deserve.

Daisy Birthing classes are so difficult to explain until you’ve been to one.  Yes, they include yoga-based movements, all specifically designed to help with common pregnancy problems: indigestion, puffy fingers, swollen ankles – and help your body prepare for its birthing day…..but they include so much more than that.  The antenatal education that we share with mums-to-be is delivered in small bite-sized chunks – just 15 minutes a week.  However, every week I see the penny drop and women saying ‘why don’t all women get told this stuff? It just makes so much sense!’.  YES!  And yet there is more: the classes finish with a beautiful relaxation segment. Time-out for ladies to relax, connect with their babies and prepare their minds for their forthcoming birthing day.  And the classes are as much about preparing the mind as preparing the body, which is absolutely right.  How you think or feel about something and your thoughts can have a very powerful effect on your body.

If you are expecting a baby and would like to prepare for your birthing day, please have a look at our ‘Find a Class’ map to find your local teacher. Classes are just as suitable for 2nd or 3rd time Mums as they are for your 1st baby.  Daisy Birthing classes run throughout the country in 6 week terms, each class lasting 1.5 hours and are for ladies only.  Suitable from 14 weeks of pregnancy right through to the arrival of your little one, classes can be adapted and are supportive of all birth choices. 

How lovely to see that Katy’s experiences led to her becoming a Daisy teacher herself!  Thank you for sharing your story Katy x

A Positive Induction Using the Power of the ‘Out Breath’

After attending both Daisy Parent and a term of Daisy Birthing with Tracy in Cheshire, Louisa felt prepared for her positive induction.  However, she was still taken by surprise with the speed of little Harrison’s arrival!  Here she tells her story….

A positive induction

I was induced on Thursday at 40 weeks at 4.30pm with a pessary and labour started from this.  I started getting pain around 11pm and decided to sleep through them which I did until 2am.  This was because the midwife had said the pessary can cause very bad period pains which aren’t necessarily contractions.

When the pains started getting worse around 2am I didn’t actually think they were proper contractions at this point as they were only low down in stomach.  I was tired still so decided to lay down on my left hand side then just after 3am my water broke whilst lying down.  The midwife wanted to monitor baby’s heartbeat.  All was good and she examined me and I was 6cm dilated so she said she would call down to labour ward to get me moved.

A speedy delivery!

Whilst she was out of the room the pain suddenly sky rocketed and I really needed some pain relief (all I had so far was some paracetamol at midnight).  It had got so bad Keith had to buzz for them.  When the midwife came back in she could see how much pain I was in and asked me if I felt like pushing which I did.  She quickly examined me again and in the space of about 10mins I was fully dilated and she could feel his head!  Several more midwives arrived and they discussed if it was safe to move me which they decided it wasn’t.  Soon after our little man was here!!!  Harrison James Kelly, born Friday 25th August at 4.34am weighing 8lb 8oz.  With no chance for any pain relief!  Keith was very impressed that I managed to use the ‘out’ breath when pushing.  This was the breath that got him out.

It wasn’t quite how I thought it would all happen but it got him here quickly and safely and the main things we wanted happened: immediate skin to skin and an hour’s plus of this in a dim light; delayed cord clamping and a physiological third stage.  Breastfeeding is going well too.

Thank you again for the classes.
Best wishes
Louisa & Keith

Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful story! Daisy x

The Power of the Body: Luiza and Sofia’s Amazing Birth Story

Here we hear the amazing story of first time mummy Luiza, who planned a c-section but baby Sofia had other ideas….leaving Luiza marvelling at the power of the body.  Her story is told to her Daisy teacher Pippa.

Mama Truths: Sex After Baby

Today we are excited to bring you the first of our ‘Mama Truths’ blogs: where we will answer the questions you may feel too afraid to ask!  Our first topic is one many of you will have thought – and maybe even worried – about: resuming sex after baby.  Here Daisy teacher Chloe Sena explains all…

Big changes

Yes, sooner or later you are going to have to get back in the saddle – and it can be a very daunting prospect.  You have just pushed a baby out of your vagina, or if you had a Caesarean section, been through major surgery.  All women will still have lochia for a few weeks after birth and the post-birth hormones will be flowing freely.  Why on earth would you then want anything going back up there?!

Your body may not feel like your own for a while: a lot changes after you’ve had a baby, and that’s okay.  Breastfeeding, making up bottles, dealing with crying, colic, sleepless nights.  Plus if you have other kids to deal with – well, you may feel like you are running on empty.  Will you always feel like you could fall asleep standing up?  Do you think you will ever make it through a day in the same clothes you started out with?  Will your libido will ever come back (it will, don’t worry!).  Why does it feel like you would rather stick pins in your eyes than even consider having sex?!

Relationship impact

You could have had stitches, had a tear (big or small) and may feel quite different ‘down there’ than you did before you had your baby.  You may be worried it will hurt, or that you won’t enjoy it…..  This is all normal.  The post-birth hormones running riot in your body can supress your libido and make everything feel as dry down there as the Sahara desert.

Plus, the fourth trimester period for you and your baby, the transition period from womb to world, can make you feel like you have been hit with a ton bricks.  Sex is likely to be the last thing on your mind – I know it was for me after my two births!  You may feel quite lonely and like you are the only one feeling like this, but I can assure you, you won’t be.  No matter what you may hear, read or imagine, you won’t be the only one worrying about having sex again and even putting it off.

No-one can prepare you for how having a baby will change your life.  When you have a baby your focus will change and your relationships will shift.  It is important to remember your relationship with your partner might change as well.  You will still love your partner of course, but it may feel different post baby and it can take a while to settle into your new situation as a family of 3 (or 4, or 5!).  You may even feel more like housemates for a while post baby too.  This is okay, and is to be expected.

You will be having broken sleep, days will all roll into one; the house will be a mess and you will probably struggle to even get dressed some days.  The last thing on your mind could be showing affection to your partner, a hug or kiss on the cheek may take all the effort in the world, and sex – well, what’s that again?  With so many demands on you already, it is likely your relationship with your partner is the one that has to wait.

Don’t panic…it’s not all doom!

Do not panic!  It is not all doom and gloom, I promise.  And it will get better: you will enjoy sex again.  Sex after baby can be the best sex you’ve ever had!  Trust me 😉  It is vital, however, that you and your partner are both aware that things may change, and you will both feel differently.  If your partner is patient and understanding, it will make all the difference in how you cope with the changes and how quickly you are ready to get back in the sack, so to speak!

Don’t feel pressured into having sex too quickly.  Sex can be an emotional thing for any woman, let alone if you are currently in the middle of the post-birth hormonal rollercoaster.  It is important to feel ready, and then you are more likely to find it an enjoyable experience.  If all you can think about is climbing into bed and hibernating for a week, chances are you won’t be able to get in the mood for sex.

Sex after baby: top tips

So, here are some ideas to help make the first time you break that post-birth seal a little easier and hopefully more pleasurable.  Firstly: relax and breathe.  You have done it before, and you can do it again.  Set the mood: get a babysitter for a couple of hours, a romantic dinner by candlelight maybe even a massage or a hot bath.

Pick a time when you don’t feel too tired.  Right before bed may not be the time you feel most ‘up for it’, and so are more likely to fall into bed, rather than out of your PJs!  Use your imagination – the bedroom is not the only place you can have sex – if baby is napping, seize the opportunity and be creative!

Maybe make that first time a bit of a ‘quickie’ so it isn’t too much of an endurance test if you are not feeling the love.  Once that first time is over, you will feel a hell of a lot better about the whole sex after baby thing, I guarantee.

Oh and don’t forget the lube…

Love Daisy xx


The Question Every Pregnant Woman Asks – What Does Labour Feel Like?!

What does labour feel like?  A question asked by new mums the world over as they prepare to meet their babies.  Here Daisy teacher Fi Hennessy gives you the answers you’ve been searching for. 

What is labour like?  What does it feel like?  What do contractions feel like?  Does it hurt?  How will I know I’m in labour?

The answer?  You’ll know!

But HOW will I know?  Why can’t anyone describe a contraction?

Do you know something?  You will.  Trust me.  Here’s why:

Your baby, your body

You and your baby are in perfect synchronicity.  You’ve made this baby by whatever means and are growing this baby, perfect for your womb to carry and your body to birth.  Sometimes it might not feel like that with all the scans, growth charts, tape measures and weeing into pots, but you are perfect together.

Your body knows how to give birth, instinctively.  Your baby knows how to be born, instinctively.  Even if mum can’t move, she can still birth.  Check out this article about a mum in a coma giving birth – while incredibly rare it goes to show how much of this amazing thing called birth is powered by our bodies and minds and not our rational thoughts and action.

Coping with labour

By tapping into this intuition and listening to your body and your baby, you will know when you are in labour.  Think about other bodily functions that you do – perhaps a bowel movement – you know what it feels like to need to go to the loo, you follow that nudge and off you go.

It’s worth pointing out that it doesn’t usually happen like it does in the movies or other people’s stories.  There isn’t usually a dramatic gush of waters, a mum clutching her stomach with agony rippling across her face  (usually!).  As the delicate interplay of hormones and endorphins gently nudges you and your baby towards your birthing day, the back ache becomes a little more insistent, the period type ache becomes noticeable and Braxton hicks become even stronger!  Your discharge changes, your baby moves, the tightenings of your belly are increasing in duration and frequency, you move gently to your chosen rhythm of birth, whether staying at home or moving to hospital.

The feelings of labour

It is difficult for most mums to remember the actual feelings of labour – most of labour is lost to the wonderful hormones and endorphins which drench your body and mind to help you through this process, switching off the rational neocortex where memories are made.  Unfortunately if this delicate balance is disturbed then mum can become more aware of what is going on and perhaps more aware of the feelings and intensity of contractions.  This not only might make it harder for mum to cope at the time but perhaps makes her more likely to report labour as being painful, hard and that she was unable to cope.

So when you are asking mums about their labour experiences be sure to bear in mind that it was their personal journey and feelings involved in the process.  Many things can happen during labour and not all of them will happen to you.

 As Ina May Gaskin put it so eloquently,

“Don’t think of it as pain, think of it as an interesting sensation which requires all your concentration”

How bad is labour really?

In my own opinion which is the only one I can give honestly and completely, the first time for me was intense, scary, out of control, emotional, hard work, wonderful.  The second time I was more prepared as I had opted for a home birth, I researched more, read more, invested more time and energy in knowing my options.  I knew second labours could be quicker and the midwife nearly didn’t make it as I was certainly quicker second time.

I birthed at home in a labour which was honestly quick and easy.  It wasn’t pain free but the feelings were manageable, there was a point to each contraction.  I knew the journey I was on and I trusted my body and baby to achieve it OR to let me know if something was wrong.  I absolutely loved my second birth, it rocked.  I was awesome and I knew it.

One thing that commonly unites mums is the feeling afterwards of being the cleverest person in the whole wide world!  Outside life continues, normal, boring, mundane – but here, in this room, this ward, this theatre suite – you have given birth – and my goodness!  What a feeling that is!  Your world will never be the same because of that day, it really is something pretty special.

 Top Tips for labour

 1)     Prepare yourself and your birth partner

2)     Know your choices

3)     Move, breath and relax

4)     Stay hydrated and nourished if you are able to eat

5)     Write your birth story afterwards as soon as you can – it will be a wonderful memory or a valuable practice if you need healing.

Love Daisy x

A Wonderfully Calm and Positive Birth!

Here we hear from one of our own Daisy teachers Jilly, about her calm and positive birth – a world away from her first experience of birth with her son…

“I honestly cannot thank Daisy enough, as a mum, for giving me the tools and the confidence to achieve the most amazing, healing birth!  I had a 3rd degree tear with my son and didn’t have the best experience so I was so determined to have a completely different birth the second time round.

Empowered to make choices

I went to my scheduled 41 week midwife appt. on Mon 25th July.  I had been getting irregular contractions for the previous few days and earlier that morning had a bit of a show so I thought things were heading in the right direction but not imminent.  At the appointment my blood pressure was raised so they sent me to Barnet MDU and warned me that I’d likely be admitted.  I started mentally preparing to fight for my wishes as I was desperate for my birth to be at Edgware Birth Centre.

We were monitored for an hour, my blood pressure went down during this time so that was fine but both our heart rates were too high.  Hers settled into a nice pattern after a while so they sent me for a walk and to eat.  I went back on the monitor for another hour and both our heart rates had settled.  They could see I was having quite regular contractions at that point from the trace but I knew they weren’t that big.  Although I was using my centred breath throughout them I could have held a conversation during them if I needed to.  I was just trying to focus on reducing my heart rate and relax so I could go home!  A midwife persuaded me to have my cervix checked before I left (with the promise of coming back in two days for a blood pressure check) so I could gauge how quickly I’d need to call in when contractions got stronger.  Several midwives suggested a sweep several times, which I declined as I felt that things would happen by themselves.

A calm, active labour

At 9pm I was 1.5cm but my cervix was still 1cm long and quite firm, so I was convinced that nothing would even progress that night, which actually I was thankful for as I really wanted some sleep!   We got home at around 10.30pm and I tried to go to sleep but my contractions were getting stronger.  I made my husband put the TENS machine on about 12am with the vain hope I’d still sleep (they were coming every 5min or so) but I was struggling by that point to use the centred breath through them.  Once the TENS machine was on I felt much more in control.  I realised that by giving up on sleep, getting up, putting on my Daisy music (through headphones so as not to wake my son), moving around, doing gentle rotations, leaning forward during contractions and using the Escalator Breath things felt a lot easier.  By 1.15am Paul made me phone the midwife as contractions were coming every 3min and really strong but I was convinced I was ages away still.  As an on call community midwife was coming directly to Edgware from home they’d told me it was better to call early.  The midwife said that she would leave immediately and meet us there.

The power of breathing

At 2.30am I was at Edgware, my blood pressure and our heart rates were perfect and my cervix was 2-3cm dilated, soft and completely effaced.  The midwife gave us a choice to stay or go home as she’d already filled up the pool.  Luckily we chose stay as I couldn’t even make it down the corridor to help fetch our bags from the car as everything had just ramped up even more!

I was coping fine with the TENS machine and using the Escalator Breath, although I had started gravitating lower towards the floor with each contraction so I thought I was nearing established labour by about 3.30am.  The midwife disappeared at this point to hurry the other two midwives (one student).  However, I didn’t click that anything significant was happening as I was still laughing about how hungry I was in between contractions, but never having enough time to actually eat!

A slow, calm, natural delivery

The midwife had suggested using the pool for delivery to avoid another bad tear like I’d had with my son.  At this point she had mentioned using the pool a few times so I got in.  She could obviously tell I was close, if I wasn’t I would have got out and gone back to using the TENS as I didn’t actually find the pool that comfortable!  I kept instinctively pushing during contractions so I told the midwife and she said go with it as it was either my waters bulging and about to go, or it was the head.  Before I knew it two other midwives and my second birth partner had arrived and they started setting everything up for the baby’s arrival.  Once the midwife managed to persuade me to open my legs to have a look she told me it was the head and to keep following my body.  I’d be using the Out Breath near the end of every contraction rather than all the way through as we specifically wanted the delivery to be as slow as possible.  It was amazing to be able to listen to my body the whole way through labour but particularly during the delivery stage.  To slowly allow baby to descend using the Out Breath the way I felt I needed to, and to feel baby wriggle around when she was releasing her shoulders was so bizarre.  It was nothing like the controlled pushing from my first labour! The delivery was so calm that she was born in her sac!

Evie was delivered at 4.25am on Tuesday 26th July 2016, weighing 8lbs 3oz, so very quickly from start to finish but it was exactly what I wanted and a world away from my first birth and we were home as a family of 4 just 12hrs later!”

Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful calm story Jilly!  Love Daisy x

Beautiful, Empowering Images of Pregnancy and Birth

Pregnancy and birth can be a wonderful, empowering time for us as women yet often we hide behind the camera, ashamed of our growing body and unfiltered faces.  Which is ridiculous, right? Our bodies are doing the most amazing feat imaginable and we should be shouting out loud about how proud we are that we are growing, nourishing and developing entire new humans.  Here Daisy teacher Meg Hill presents a selection of her favourite empowering images of pregnancy and birth.

Maternity photoshoots and birth photographers have become more popular in recent years. Sometimes it’s only when you look back that you can see how beautifully empowered and strong you were, which is why it’s nice to have a third party there to discreetly take shots as you do your thing. But sometimes it’s the simple snaps taken by someone you love that manage to capture the pure emotion of this time. Whichever way you get your images, having them is something you’re going to be grateful of forever.

We at The Daisy Foundation believe that pregnancy and birth comes in all shapes, sizes and ways which is why we love these images taken from bump to birth. We don’t care about the stretch marks, sweat and tears – in fact, we embrace them! So step out from behind the camera and make sure some of your most cherished memories are captured forever.

The following images are all very different but all capture the spirit of Daisy; confident, strong and empowered in their choices, and for that, we love them.

Pregnant and proud – our very own Sheffield Daisy teacher Fi Hennessy showing us how radiant a pregnant woman can look. [photo credit Amie Parsons Photography]


This mama has celebrated the gift of life by painting her bump with the tree of life.

Birth pools can give incredible pain relief, look how tranquil Delyth looks while she awaits her baby!

This couple seem almost to be in a dance of love, as dad supports mom through her labour [photo credit Sue Lloyd Photography]

As the intensity increases, this mama shows how fierce she is as dad looks on. [photo credit Hazel Hughes Photography]

Freshly arrived in this world, baby shields his eyes from the brightness of the world compared to the womb. [photo credit Sue Lloyd Photography]

The raw emotion on mama’s face as baby is brought to her chest for the first time clearly shows her strength and love.

It’s not just parents for whom birth is a joy – check out the unbridled happiness on the midwife’s face as she welcomes another new life to the world! [photo credit Sue Lloyd Photography]

Baby is carefully raised for parents to see, as doctors carry on working on mama.

Mama gets some cuddles as dad looks proudly on while the caesarean section is completed.

Newton-le-Willows teacher Elouise Oakley enjoys skin to skin time with her brand new Daisy Baby.

Baby stares into mama’s eyes as they meet for the first time.

Both mama and baby enjoy the golden hour together after birth.

Kangaroo care is especially important for babies who are born needing extra care.

Double the love at this twin homebirth.

Even when things don’t go exactly the way you’d hope, there’s no mistaking the love this mama exudes.

Sometimes the newborn period isn’t quite what we expect, but memories like these help us show how far we’ve come.

All babies have the power to surprise us but none more so than this baby’s parents who prepared for Italy but went to Holland

New babies: it’s a family affair.

Big brother can’t believe his eyes when he gets to meet his brand new sister for the first time.

We hope you enjoyed looking at these fabulous pictures as much as we did!

Love Daisy x


The Magical Golden Hour – What is it and Why is it so Important?

As your baby is born, they are suddenly in a completely different world to their cosy, secure and warm womb.  They have to breathe for themselves, they feel hunger and thirst, they cry, they feel cold/warm.  All the things that are regulated for them in the womb, become things they are now having to deal with for themselves.  Here Daisy teacher Chloe explains how having an undisturbed ‘golden hour’ after birth can help this transition.

Meeting Your Newborn

To try to describe what that moment feels like, when you hold your baby for the first time, is nigh on impossible.  As you breathe in your newborn: their smell, how they look, are they the image of you or their father?  Most babies look like their fathers by the way, some kind of survival mechanism to ensure their fathers don’t abandon them – quite amazing really, no?  How it feels to have your baby finally in your arms, taking in every part of them as you hold them close.  As the saying goes ‘not only is a baby born, so is a mother’.  Why rush this transition from womb to world?  Why not savour every single second?  You won’t get that time back.  It is magical.  Undisturbed time together can mean mum’s birth bubble is protected for just a little while longer and can give mum and baby those precious first moments together where mum can just focus on her new baby.

Cultural Norms

Our culture generally removes baby from the mother as soon as they are born.  Clamping and cutting the cord, carrying out the various newborn checks and ‘cleaning them off’.  This thankfully, is slowly changing: leaving mum and baby together, undisturbed is becoming more common – which is amazing!  The checks that need to be done, as well as weighing and measuring can all be done after this golden hour together – they don’t need to be immediate.  Michael Odent suggests that ‘The hour following birth is undoubtedly one of the most critical phases in the life of human beings’.  If this is the case, here is why having an undisturbed hour with your newborn baby can be extremely beneficial for you both, and could be something worth adding to your birth plan.

The Benefits of the ‘Golden Hour’

Once baby is born, they can be placed skin-to-skin on their mother and both be covered in a blanket to keep them warm and relaxed.  Having baby skin-to-skin immediately after birth can promote bonding between baby and caregiver.  The production of oxytocin, or the love hormone as it can be affectionately referred to, is promoted.  Oxytocin in turn helps promote maternal behaviour and can also encourage breastfeeding.  An undisturbed hour can help support optimal cord clamping.  As mum and baby enjoy their first moments together, the cord can be left intact so baby gets all the wonderful goodness remaining in the placenta.  Being skin-to-skin also helps baby regulate their temperature and breathing: remember they are breathing for the first time for themselves and being in the protective arms of their mother, skin to skin, will aid this process.  Do not beat yourself up or worry if you do not feel a rush of love straight away for your baby.  Birth can be quite an overwhelming experience and those feelings of intense love can take a while to build.  You and your baby will still enjoy all the benefits of an undisturbed hour after birth.

Golden Hour After C-Section?

What about if you have a caesarean section?  Is this magical hour still possible?  Depending on the circumstances this may or may not be possible straight away.  If it is a planned C-section, discuss your wishes with your midwife and consultant to see how they might be able to accommodate this for you.  The ‘gentle’ caesarean is becoming more widely available. If you end up having an emergency caesarean, having spoken to your midwife and the care team beforehand will help make them more aware of your wishes, and what they can do in this situation to help you.  If it turns out that it isn’t possible immediately after birth, your partner can have skin to skin until you are able to.  Skin to skin is beneficial at any time though, so don’t worry if it has to be delayed for any reason.

If your baby has to go to the special care unit, please do not think you and your baby are missing out on all the benefits listed above.  ‘Kangaroo Care’ for premature infants or those with high medical needs is being researched and offered more and more.  This is a process of baby being held skin to skin with their mother as much as possible each day.  By being aware of what it is, and what it means, this will give you the confidence and knowledge to make sure you and your baby are accommodated in every way possible.  By talking these options through with your neonatal and birth team, you can enhance your bonding experience as mother and baby.


Love Daisy x

The Power of Breathing, Movement and Positive Affirmations

Today we hear the story of Daisy teacher Jenny’s positive birth where she used the power of breathing, movement and positive affirmations throughout her labour.  Prior to becoming a teacher herself, Jenny attended three terms of Daisy Birthing classes in Belper and finished about a week before having her baby Georgia.  Georgia was born at 2:40am Sunday 20th December weighing 7lbs 10oz at Derby Birth Centre.

Membrane Sweeps

“I’d had a sweep on the Monday which although favourable led to no more than a few cramps and part of my show.  I was booked in for a second sweep on the Friday in the hope of getting things moving.  Friday morning came and I had some blood on wiping but thought nothing of it having had part of my show earlier in the week.  The midwife, however, was concerned as it wasn’t particularly ‘mucusy’ so sent me to the pregnancy assessment unit to get checked out.  After half an hour on the monitor and an examination from the doctor it was determined that it was just part of my show and that I was 1cm dilated but my cervix was still 3cm long and posterior.

​So I got my second sweep.  About 1pm, whilst on the monitor I noticed that I was starting to get quite regular braxton hicks but wasn’t expecting it to come to anything.  Back home the tightenings continued so I bounced and rotated on my gym ball, practised my breathing and made sure we had wrapped up all the remaining Christmas presents!  The braxton hicks became stronger throughout the afternoon to the point where by around 7pm I was able to definitely tell the start and end of each so I started to time them.  They were around 7 minutes apart and lasted 30-40 seconds.  Over the next few hours this intensified again until about 4am, when at 4 minutes apart each lasting a minute, I contacted the birth centre and decided to go in.

The Power of Breathing and Movement

Unfortunately, when I was examined, I was only 1-2cm dilated with my cervix 1cm in length so I was sent home.  The trip to hospital had slowed my contractions so I was able to get a couple of hours broken sleep.  I woke on the Saturday still having contractions but they were a lot more irregular, though lasting around 45 seconds each.  The intensity meant that I was having to breathe through each one.  I spent the day watching films (an American Tail and Elf being my favourites), dozing whilst propped up on my left when I felt tired, and rotating on my ball and moving around when I had the energy.  I even threw in a camel walk for good measure!

At 7pm I had a very strong contraction and lost some blood.  This was a lot more than I’d ever seen before and it was red so I went back to PAU to be checked again.  Baby again was fine and my contractions could be clearly seen and were about 5-7 minutes apart.  On examination I wasn’t actively bleeding so it was again just part of my show.  My cervix was now 2-3cm and fully effaced so heading in the right direction.

Back at home I settled on my ball to watch strictly come dancing but quickly found that I couldn’t concentrate as the contractions were getting more intense.  After a further hour where the contractions were at the point that I was crying out each time, despite being relaxed and listening to my relaxation CD, I decided to go back to hospital as I felt I couldn’t cope with it anymore and needed further pain relief.

The Power of Positive Affirmations

The journey to the hospital was not a nice one but thankfully there wasn’t too much traffic and before I knew it I was crouched in the corridor of the labour ward having another contraction.  They’d definitely ramped up and were coming every 3 minutes and lasting 90 seconds.  I said to the midwife that I needed more pain relief so she agreed to examine me as if I’d got to 4cm then I could have stronger stuff.  During the examination the midwife looked up, surprised, and said “oh! Do you want to guess how far along you are?”.  I just shook my head, worn out at this point, but extremely relieved when she told me I was 7cm.  I was immediately given the gas and air and started to feel a lot calmer.  The next 50 minutes passed by in a blur of breathing and rotating through each contraction.  Ray was speaking my positive affirmations and relaxing phrases to me, and I felt a real sense of peace and enjoyment.

Breathing the Baby Out….

Then suddenly my body pushed.  It was the strangest sensation and one I had no control of: my body just knew that’s what it needed to do.  I buzzed for the midwife who said “well if you need to push go ahead” whilst settling back on a chair.  With the next contraction the feeling was even stronger and I launched myself forwards from the position I was in on the edge of the couch, towards Ray who was kneeling in front of me.  I think I scared the poor guy but I just needed to be closer to the floor and on my hands and knees!  I could feel her every movement as I pushed downwards.  It was all a bit of a blur at this point but I do remember shouting out a swear word, saying “I can’t do it” and mooing a lot!  Seems my Daisy ‘out’ breath was also a natural instinct.  I also distinctly remember smiling as I knew I’d meet my baby soon.  The midwife had to break my waters as I was starting to birth them.  But very quickly afterwards Georgia made an appearance after 10 minutes of pushing.

I was handed her through my legs and stared in wonder at this perfect little creature that I’d just pushed out!  We left the cord to finish pulsating before Ray cut it and between the two of us we then had at least one hours skin to skin with her.  She was so alert from the start after showing us the power of her lungs when she was born.  I delivered the placenta without intervention: the midwife recommended the injection but I pushed out the placenta before she was able to give it to me.

All in all it was an amazing experience.  I felt so powerful!  I’m proud of how Ray and I got through it together and Georgia is the most wonderful gift at the end of it all!”

The Fourth Trimester – Why Your Baby Wants to Be Held

The chances are that if you’re a new parent you’ll have uttered one or more of the following phrases: “my baby will only sleep on me!”; “my baby hates their cot!”; “my baby will never be put down!”.  If this sounds familiar, read on to discover the science behind the ‘fourth trimester’ as explained by Daisy teacher Meg Hill.

The ‘good baby’ myth

The phrases above are often uttered as part of an existential crisis and accompanied by the idea that you don’t know what you’re doing, you can’t do this and that you’re a rubbish parent.  You ask and search around for help and the nagging doubts you have of yourself – that you’re not parenting in the right way – are cemented because so frequently these questions are packaged as a problem to be overcome.  A problem to be worked on, to fit in to the “good baby” narrative that is so frequently forced on new parents.  (Sadly, from which many so-called ‘experts’ exploit new parents into shelling out many, many pounds).

Baby’s experiences in the womb

Yet picture, if you will, the life your baby has had while growing inside the womb.  Dark within the confines of your uterus, warm and protected by your body.  Comfortably hammocked, rocked by your movements, the swoosh of amniotic fluid in their ears.  Their every primal need met instantly by your body that they’re connected to.  Then they are born.  The world is a vastly different place to everything they have known to this point.  Temperature changes, the feel of nappies and clothes on their skin, sights, smells, feelings of hunger and thirst.  All these wonderful things we take for granted in this world are brand new sensations for babies.  When you appreciate this, you suddenly take in the enormity of life as a newborn and understand why babies cry to be held close by you.  Why they yearn to be nestled in your warm embrace, able to smell you and hear your familiar heartbeat.  Wanting to be with you is not a problem to be fixed: what baby is biologically designed to need is often not what our environment and culture encourages.

The fourth trimester

If we look at and treat the first three months of a baby’s life as a transition period, the so-called fourth trimester of pregnancy, a lot of the heartache and pressure we place upon ourselves as parents can be reduced.  We need to understand antenatally that when baby appears we must treat them as though they’re still in utero.  If we do this, that terrific pressure of wondering why our baby won’t be put down, why won’t he sleep in his cot, what am I doing wrong will disappear.  You are not doing anything wrong.  Your baby is behaving exactly as he/she should.  You’re doing a great job!  Let’s repeat that, because it’s so very important.  You are doing a great job by tending to your baby’s needs.

There are some great ways of replicating that womb-like environment for a baby, many of which help to soothe them, reducing crying, and reducing the effect of their crying on you.  Because let’s not forget how important you are in this picture.  A phrase which is uttered almost as often as “my baby won’t be put down” is “a happy baby is a happy mom”.  It’s certainly true that if a baby is crying your own stress levels will rise, making it more difficult to understand and react to what your baby is trying to communicate with you.  But remember, none of these are guaranteed to work all the time for all babies because every baby is different and will react in different ways at different times.

Movement: Your baby is used to moving when you move. Which is why so many will be soothed to sleep by the gentle rocking motion of a car or pram.  This is also why so many parents have developed their own baby-sway which is often so well-used that you can see it in practice when baby isn’t even with them!

Noise: Forget the lullabies and soft music: anything that mimics the swoosh of amniotic fluid will help soothe your baby best.  So some serious SHHHHHHing, the hoover, Ewan the Dream Sheep or one of the multitude of YouTube videos.

Water: A nice deep bath mimics the feeling of the amniotic fluid around your baby while they were inside you, and can soothe (or at least distract!) from a troubled soul.  Even better if you or dad can get in the bath with them as the skin-to-skin contact will do wonders for both of you.

Sucking: Sometimes a baby is cross because they’re hungry, so it’s important to be led by their feeding cues rather than a schedule, whichever way you choose to feed them.  However, sometimes babies crave non-nutritive sucking, similar to when they suck on their own fingers in utero.  If you’re breastfeeding offer the breast even if you don’t think baby is hungry, and if you’re bottle feeding try a dummy or a clean finger.

Babywearing: Slings and carriers aren’t just a good way of not getting the pram muddy when you go for a walk!  They’re a really useful tool to enable you to keep your baby close-by while you go about your day.  Research has shown that babies who are carried in slings cry less than their non-slinged counterparts, not just while they’re being carried but throughout the day.  That’s a pretty compelling reason to babywear, right?

Skin-to-skin: Not just for the golden hour after birth, but helpful at any age.  Skin-to-skin contact can help regulate your baby’s temperature, regulate their breathing and heart rate, reduce stress hormones (in both of you!), and can boost oxytocin (the love hormone) production in you both.

Co-sleep: 50% of babies in the UK bed-share at some point before they are 3 months old. Many because their parents recognise that they will both get better sleep when they’re close to each other. Make sure that this is planned, and safe. More information can be found here https://www.basisonline.org.uk/

Many of these methods of recreating the womb-like environment for baby can be used in conjunction with another.  Sometimes one will work where it didn’t yesterday.  Dad may find one works best for him while you find another works best for you.  All of this is ok.  These are tools to add to your growing parenting toolkit and nothing will unilaterally work for all babies and all parents in all situations.  And that’s ok.  Enjoy your fourth trimester <3

Love Daisy x

A Calm, Positive Water Birth – Elouise’s Story

After sharing her lovely positive induction story last week, Elouise returns today to share the story of her relaxed, calm water birth with her second child.  This experience ultimately led to her becoming a Daisy teacher herself…

Any mummy of more than one child will tell you I’m sure, it’s certainly no picnic growing another human whilst trying your best to keep the one(s) outside your womb alive.  Glowing?  Radiant?  Afternoon naps?  No.  Knackered?  Pale?  Sick?  Yes!  Although I had managed to achieve the birth that I wanted when I gave birth to my daughter, people were so quick to state “Ooh you never have two births the same” or “you’ve had your straightforward birth”.  Yes, two births are never the same but does this mean that one has to be negative and one positive?  Surely if I could achieve the birth I wanted the first time around I could also achieve it the second time around?  Cue Daisy Birthing.  I needed a weekly dose of Daisy Birthing and I needed it quick!

A Daisy Birthing Sanctuary

This time round that weekly dose of Daisy was served to me by the very lovely Charlotte Collins in the desirable leafy village of Lymm.  These classes soon became the highlight of my week.  My sanctuary.  My time to switch off from that busy class of lively six year olds, from those piercing cries of a teething baby and from those anxious thoughts about soon becoming a mummy of a toddler and a newborn.  This was my time to simply relax, focus on me and my growing baby and just breathe……heaven!

Nine blissful classes later I found myself tucking into a tuna baguette and chips at a local garden centre with my mum and dad.  It was a beautiful sunny Wednesday in June 2016 and there I was, huge and four days over my ‘due date’. How on earth had this happened?  With the surprise early arrival of Luella, I was convinced her sibling would surprise us in a similar way.  But no: there was no way he was giving up the place he had made his home for the past nine months easily.  So there I was on that sunny Wednesday afternoon in the garden centre waiting for my mum and dad to pay for the lunch I had just devoured when an elderly lady walked straight up to me and asked “Can I?”.  She was referring to my bump and whether she could touch it.  Now my usual response to this would be “Hell no” but she was so smiley and sweet that I heard myself reply “Of course”.  The lovely lady proceeded to rub my bump and simply uttered the words “Just Beautiful…Just Beautiful…”.

Staying calm past 40 weeks..

That touching scene kept replaying in my mind as I drove to a reflexology session I had booked the previous day.  Although I had had a positive induction experience when having Luella, I really wanted labour to start more naturally this time.  With being past 40 weeks I knew that it wouldn’t be long before medical inductions would soon start to be offered.

A blissful hour later and I was driving home from my reflexology session with those two simple words ‘just beautiful’ going around my head once more.  Not because I was thinking about that sweet old lady in the garden centre but because it was the only two words that best described that heavenly reflexology session I had just had.  I went to bed that night feeling positive, calm and relaxed…

So there I was, almost 40+5 days pregnant fast asleep, when I suddenly woke at 2am with that familiar ‘gush’ like feeling.  It was reminiscent of that cold Saturday November night when Mark Wright had whipped his shirt off!  My waters had broken – not quite like Niagra Falls this time but enough for me to quickly ‘google’ whether I was in fact in labour and make that call to the midwife.

By the time my mum and dad had arrived from a nearby travel lodge to take care of Luella, I had started to experience some period like cramping which definitely confirmed I was in labour.

A calm and relaxed water birth

We headed to the hospital where in the car I started to hear Charlotte’s soothing voice repeating the phrase ‘relax the jaw to release the pelvic floor’ and I knew instinctively to relax and just breathe.

We arrived at the hospital by 3am and after a short period of monitoring, centred breathing and telling the lovely midwife all about Daisy, I was examined and was 5cm dilated.  I asked if the birthing pool was free as I had been toying with the idea of using the water to help me relax and to my delight, it was. I got changed and as elegantly as I could (not very!) climbed into the pool.

Wow, I couldn’t believe what a difference the water made! My body felt much more relaxed and I just felt more supported when trying various positions until I found one that felt right and it allowed me to ‘rotate to dilate’ with ease.

Once again, I found myself in my own ‘birthing bubble’ for what seemed like minutes but was a few hours.  During this time I listened to my favourite music, puffed on my gas and air, repeated positive affirmations over and over again and discovered that there was another use for a sieve other than just getting lumps out of flour.  It wasn’t long before I felt that uncontrollable urge to bear down. Similar to the birth of Luella, this again was the toughest part of my labour but having the support of the water this time meant that I could keep upright and work with gravity.  After a lot of encouragement from my other half, the midwives and using every ounce of energy I had left in me, oh, and a pair of shoulders getting stuck  (the drama queen) my gorgeous baby boy Levison Oakley was born.  8lb 10oz of pure loveliness born at 8.30am, exactly eighteen months to the day his older sister was born and just like that sweet old lady had said, he was just beautiful…

A desire to support other mums-to-be

I was completely in love and not just in love with another little human being but as cheesy as it sounds, completely in love with Daisy.  Yet again it had empowered me to achieve the birth I wanted.  I felt calm, relaxed and in control.  I had well and truly turned right at that crossroads in my life and was heading down that road at full speed to become a Daisy Birthing teacher and support other mums-to-be in the fantastic way that Charlotte had supported me in my birth journey….

Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week: Mothering from a place of anger

Continuing with the theme of Maternal Mental Health, today we have a powerful and moving blog post written by Daisy’s very own Executive Director, Sian Gilmartin.

Given my area of work I should have been aware of the risks, the likelihood or perhaps even the inevitability of becoming a postnatal depression statistic. As we tick off the list of risk factors that applied to me at that time: stressful life events; previous PND; lack of support network – it seems impossible to imagine any other scenario.

At the time, I was looking in to the eye of a perfect storm and only seeing the calm in the centre. Looking back, I can see the twists and turns of damage it left in its wake. In my most hopeful moments, I can see a stable path with as gentle a rollercoaster as my hormones will allow, before we hit what many fear but I long for – the menopause: release from this hormonal hell!

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

I had never heard of PMDD before, but some 3 years after the birth of my 2nd child, 3 years of deep despair, agonising frustration, isolation and anger – anger doesn’t seem to do the emotional turmoil justice, the depths of the emotions seem inexplicable somehow – the search for answers began. It’s often described as: “an abnormal reaction to hormone changes related to your menstrual cycle” – sounds simple enough right?

Herbal remedies, supplements, acupuncture, diet changes, exercise, zero-alcohol, and the contraceptive pill were all part of the search for a solution. Only along this path did I learn about the reality of PMDD, reading as much as I could on the subject, listening to the differing opinions on it (was it just severe PMS or something entirely different?).

The seemingly simple little tick list that appears in the literature on the subject defining my whole life, goes like this:

  • Mood Swings – check
  • Depression or feelings of hopelessness – yep
  • Intense anger and conflict with other people – my poor parents who we were living with at its peak – eek!
  • Tension, anxiety and irritability – I had this in spades!
  • Decreased interests in usual activities – erm, yep
  • Difficulty concentrating – Yes!
  • Fatigue – Ha!
  • Change in appetite – if that means piling on 2 stones, then yes
  • Feeling out of control – Hello?!
  • Sleep problems – well, I had two wee ones so that was a given
  • Cramps and bloating – I think this is the only one I didn’t tick off!
  • Breast tenderness – slightly skewed here due to breastfeeding, but we’ll say yes!
  • Headaches – YES, thanks to the stress causing a terrible jaw and teeth grinding issue that plagued my teeth for years
  • Joint or muscle pain – tick to that one too, sore hands and feet to top it all off were a bonus

Educating my own GP on what it was along the way led to popping pills being the best ‘solution’ on offer.

Did I have PND at all or was it always PMDD? Or did one morph in to the other as I neglected myself and found myself choosing stress over self-care as my ‘go-to’ emotional state? I wonder in the moments I feel like a passport photo of myself (expressionless, void of emotion and still) has my ‘wiring’ been altered forever?

The Road to Acceptance

It’s been nearly 6 years since my daughter was born, 8 since my first dalliance with PND – but in hindsight I can see that it’s been a lifetime of unhealthy patterns, hormonal blips and less than ideal nurturing grounds for the powerful transition to motherhood.

For now, I accept that a combination of factors keep me on an even keel: being alcohol free; dog walking and 20mg of Fluoxetine a day keep me from being the “Fire Breathing Dragon(as my kids and I call my PMDD alter ego with the kind of affection you might give to a comedy panto villain).

Other things are more of a daily battle of wits between surviving and perhaps entertaining a more positive mind-set: caffeine, sugar, more exercise, more sleep, stress reduction. All seemingly at odds with the stressful identity I have given myself, and often part of the story I tell myself: ’the self-employed single parent’, like this alone means I should be stressed, alone and suffering?!

I have accepted that PMDD will be a part of my life now, something to be always mindful of, watching out for triggers and trying to maintain as even a hormonal state as I can. My two children and I laugh as we make up funny stories about hormones and their rampages through my mind. We chat about my rollercoaster of tears and tantrums when the stress mounts and have been known to enjoy a ‘family-scream’ together (very therapeutic) when tipping over the edge looms. We all pay attention to the lunar cycle and prepare ourselves for when my cycle more often than not times itself with the full moon. My kids both know the ‘centred-breath’ we use in Daisy and have been known to remind me to use it!

It’s a challenge – yes, but also a blessing: the three of us together have a deep understanding and appreciation of each other’s emotions and how internal and external factors can shape our mood. We have mastered the art of using song and dance, silly faces and games to boost our endorphins or divert us from tantrums (not just mine I should add!). I am grateful in the moments when comparing my monthly cycle records, of the vast improvement I can see now, where perhaps 20% of the month is a challenge rather than the 80% of years gone by.

In a conversation with my Mum recently on the subject, we explored the comparing ideals of a life filled with joy versus a life filled with purpose and meaning. It is in these thoughts I find my own version of joy. It is in the depths of the compassion and dedication that the teaching community within Daisy displays every day, by supporting women on their own journey through motherhood that I find my meaning. Our purpose is not defined by preparing for birth, teaching baby massage or educating couples on baby care….it is defined by the fundamental belief that every woman should have a supportive hand on their journey, no matter how smooth or turbulent that road may be – it should never be travelled alone.

It’s OK not to be OK.

Love Sian (a.k.a Mrs Daisy or Mama D).

The homebirth story of my third child

A homebirth story from a Daisy Foundation Teacher:

“This was my third pregnancy and I was hoping for it to be my second homebirth. I’d given birth at home to my daughter Greta, 3 years ago and had actually also planned to birth my first child at home 5 years ago. With that labour I did start at home but then chose to transfer to hospital part way through. That’s another birth story for another time but suffice to say that I valued that time I did spend at home early in that labour and it inspired me for my next. I’ve noticed how much our local Trust, BHRUT, has progressed in terms of helping to ‘normalise’ homebirthing and indeed in some aspects, even promote and encourage it though I do think that it’s important that women are reached earlier on in their antenatal care with good quality information on their choices for where to give birth as homebirthing takes a fair bit of planning and emotional preparation, in my view.

The birth of my second child, Greta, at home had been a positive one; at around 4 hours all up, a good deal shorter than my first rather lengthy labour. It was the birthing experiences of Avaline and Greta that actually inspired a complete career change for me as in 2013 I trained as an active birthing educator and the Daisy Birthing classes that I now teach were to play a hugely beneficial role in my third birthing journey.

As well as preparing physically for the birth of my third child, I felt there was much to be done emotionally and I was mindful of the need to manage my own expectations and be aware that although G’s birth had gone ‘to plan’ that may not necessarily be the case this time round. Whilst planning for a homebirth, I ensured that I gave due consideration as to how and what I could do to remain connected to the experience should I need to be in hospital, possibly even facing something as ‘unexpected’ as a c-section. I’d learnt from my first labour as well as my own teachings in Daisy Birthing classes that having a flexible mindset was vital to me maintaining a sense of control throughout and how pivotal that sense of control is to the whole experience.

My husband and I took some time out of hectic family life to get away for a night (our ‘babymoon’!) to talk through and write down our Birth Preferences and ended up compiling some fairly detailed notes for our caregivers to read through. In this birth ‘plan’, I tried to cover different angles, such as being in hospital rather than at home and I found this process in itself empowering and helpful to dispel some of my own fears of a more ‘medicalised’ birth.

Both of my daughters had arrived [so called] ‘late’ so I was fully expecting the same this time round and felt far more relaxed about this prospect than I had been previously, as in the past I had felt a considerable amount of angst caused by pressure ‘the system’ placed on the need to be routinely induced beyond a given timeframe. I had also previously been told I ‘wasn’t allowed’ a homebirth if my baby was overdue by more than 10 days whereas this time I felt better informed and knew that of course, the choice of where to give birth was mine to make. This time round I was fully prepared and confident enough to trust my instincts and do what felt right for me and my baby and was ready to wait out baby’s arrival if need be. I also believe that pressure for induction could have a physiologically limiting effect on my body and paradoxically inhibit the very hormones that were needed to allow my body to release baby so feel it may not have been a coincidence then that, without worrying about all of this, my labour started just one day after my estimated due date!

I had no inkling the day before that labour was near and had been telling everyone how I was settled in for another week or two’s wait! On the Monday night, I woke (as usual throughout the latter part of my pregnancy) to pop to the toilet and noticed my mucus plug had come away but knew that whilst having ‘a show’ could mean labour was imminent, it could also still yet be some time to go, so I tried to go back to sleep. I dozed off and on but found myself a little more restless than usual. Some hours later, still in bed, I started to feel the odd ‘period pain’ type twinge (hello, old friend) but nothing worthy of stirring my sleeping beauty of a hubby beside me.

The next morning we got up and were having breakfast with the girls and the occasional twinges continued, stopping me in my tracks enough so as to give us a clue that this could be IT. There were still lengthy breaks in between of half an hour or so and in terms of intensity, gently holding my five year old daughter’s hand was all that I required to get me through them. Hubby had by now called my parents who came round after breakfast to get the girls and sort them out on their school runs. I didn’t feel having siblings present for the birth would allow me to fully relax and focus and in any event the girls had school and were looking forward to the opportunity for a ‘sleepover’ at nanny and gramps’ house!

With the girls gone, hubby and I were now able to start setting up ‘homebirth mode’ and do so at relative leisure, with my contractions still feeling fairly moderate and infrequent. I even questioned whether this really was ‘It’ and hoped we wouldn’t be needing to pull up all the plastic sheeting on the floor and deflate the birthing pool without putting them to use that day! Of course, we weren’t to know that our baby would be born around 6 hours later!

By the time we had the room set up as we wished I was feeling tired from my lack of sleep that night and so had a bit of a nap on the sofa bed that was now set up in our living room. When I woke, my husband suggested we go for a stroll around the block, knowing that this might help my labour gain some momentum (his Daisy Daddy training kicking in!). As we walked, I started to feel my contractions intensifying, which I found exciting as any doubts I had about whether baby was actually on its way started to dissolve. I found it helpful to just pause from walking and focus on some of the visualisations and repetitive movements along with the centred breathing technique I teach at Daisy classes.

Once back at home, I told hubby to call the midwife. From here I felt I progressed quite rapidly. I felt excited yet calm, focused on the task in hand and very powerful. Soon, three midwives had arrived, one of whom was a student who I had given permission to be there. I requested the midwives read my (rather detailed) birth plan upon arrival and sensed they would be supportive and respective of my wishes, giving my husband and I the space we wanted to embrace this intense and emotional time of our journey together.

As my sensations became more powerful I found myself calling upon other elements from my own Daisy classes and the knowledge and understanding of what was going on and why it felt as it did ensured that I felt completely calm, capable and in control. I had indicated a preference for minimising internal examinations, ideally only having one to assess baby’s position and had this, being told I was around 4-5cm dilated. I then decided to have a few puffs on the gas and air and found that it just helped me avoid ‘overthinking’ things as I’d started to do at this stage. Hubby popped some lavender oil on a hanky and I found it refreshing to inhale this between my contractions.

I continued to call upon the ‘toolkit’ of practical and emotional elements I’d picked up from Daisy Birthing and around 10 minutes after my examination started to feel a sense of pressure (just like needing to do a poo, which I did try first of all!) and this made me consider getting in the birth pool. The midwife mentioned that the water might slow down my labour progressing but also made it clear that the choice was entirely mine and I felt so attuned to my body that after the next contraction I was certain that this where I wanted to be. And so, into the wonderful pool (kindly loaned free of charge by BHRUT to homebirthing mums in our area) I went and almost instantly felt my body’s natural expulsive reflex kick in – the water had given me the freedom to relax and quite literally RELEASE (without fear of doing something on my kitchen floor that I’d reprimand my dog for!). I yielded to my natural urges and simply used my breath (thanks again to the wonderful Daisy birthing classes I teach that had helped me trust that ‘out’ breath that came so instinctively as being so effective). Hubby commented afterwards that he noticed at this time that I made some unusual noises that he recognised as being significant from our previous labours and he was right as within a few exhilarating minutes I announced to all that my baby’s head had been born! I loved the fact that the child I had grown for nine months inside me was now entering the world and it was my hands that gently embraced her as she emerged into the water. I lifted her out and into my embrace as she took her first ever breath. It was a moment I will never forget and as I brought new life into our world I felt so vibrantly alive myself that words cannot explain this feeling.

My husband proudly announced that we had our third daughter ad we named our little girl Constance. We were both so proud and in awe of her being born in such a calm and gently way, in our own cosy home, filled with love and happiness.

I’d expressed a preference for delayed cord clamping and a physiological third stage and after several minutes relaxing with Constance in the pool, chose to move onto the bed where we were enshrined in our cosy blankets. I was aware of the importance of keeping adrenaline levels low for this stage of my labour and felt calm and relaxed but nonetheless, when after a while the placenta hadn’t been birthed, I decided to have the injection and ‘manage’ the third stage as I wanted to avoid needing to transfer to hospital if at all possible. Shortly afterwards, the placenta made an appearance and the midwives kind of faded again into the background whilst we gazed at our little creation, enjoying skin to skin with her, putting her to the breast for her first feed and embarking on the next chapter of our journey with her.

My pregnancy and birthing was over; I could break out the pate and blue cheese to celebrate but also reflect on how fleeting a phase in my life it had been and resolve to enjoy every hectic, crazy moment that was to come with my new arrival alongside my other two daughters! What an amazing, emotional and positive experience my labour had been; something I felt proud of and will never forget. I bristled when a visiting midwife a few days after the labour asked me “who delivered your baby?” meaning which midwife – it was me that delivered my baby!! But I do feel thankful to have had such a supportive and confident team of midwives there at the birth as they also helped to empower me with their support throughout and believe that this, coupled with my own very thorough antenatal preparation were the main reasons my birthing was such a positive experience.

Some women write their birthing story as part of a cathartic, debriefing process; I feel blessed to be writing from the viewpoint of wanting to preserve the vivid clarity of the moment, knowing that the detail, the full colour version will soon be somewhat displaced by the crazy, hazy, blurry days of motherhood (perhaps more so than ever this time round with three children under 6!). I do hope though that sharing this story might inspire other expectant mothers; maybe to consider homebirthing and to perhaps do so earlier on in their pregnancy, but in any event to hear how wonderful childbirth can be. The best things in life are worth working hard for and for me, much of that preparation took place before the big day itself”.

Story told by:

Lynn Zanatta teacher for The Daisy Foundation Havering

Tel. 07549 009 834

Email lynn-zanatta@thedaisyfoundation.com


Beautiful daughter Aurelia Rose Dias was born yesterday!

Hello Sara, I won’t be at Mondays class as our beautiful daughter Aurelia Rose Dias was born yesterday!

I was induced on Tuesday after concerns of reduced movement. By 5.30am Wednesday my waters broke and I was examined to find I was between 7-8cm dilated which they couldn’t believe. No pain relief whatsoever at this point just some deep focused daisy breathing. I was then taken straight to delivery suite where I was delighted to find the gas and air which was such a help. I managed to experience the birthing pool as I had planned which was lovely with the daisy cd playing throughout. Baby got a little too comfy so I got out of the pool towards the end and by 14.22 she was born.

The midwives were hugely complimentary and asked if I had done any breathing classes! I wanted to send my sincere thanks as the breathing techniques were what got me through the labour.

I can’t recommend the couples workshop enough as Andrew was the most supportive birth companion I could have wishes for. He kept me focused on the breathing techniques, reminding my to loosen my jaw and to rotate to dilate! So the information clearly sank in and he did me proud.

We are in love with our gorgeous daughter and can’t believe she’s ours to keep!!

Thank you once again and good luck to the other ladies, Teresa x