The Daisy Foundation Coronavirus

Keeping our communities up to date on the most recent news relating to the Coronavirus and our response.

The journey from pregnancy through to toddlerhood is often one filled with uncertainty and new challenges, and we are very aware at Daisy just how our current health climate may impact you.

We know that the situation and guidance is changing daily, and we are taking our response very seriously, believing we all have a duty to be a part of the solution.

This page will be kept up to date with any changes in policy as and when the guidance changes.

To access the most up to date information:

NHS – Coronavirus

Information for pregnant women and their families from The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Royal College of Midwives and Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

Department of Health & Social Care – for updated Government policy, response and information on self-isolation.

UK Wide Summary – 1st September 2021

At each stage of the pandemic journey we have ensured we are operating fully in alignment with the latest Government guidelines and are placing the health and wellbeing of our communities first. We have responded quickly to every change and commit to continuing to do so as we navigate the COVID journey together.

At this time across all areas of the UK all Daisy classes and workshops are permitted to be delivered in-person. All Daisy Teachers are now supporting their communities in person, with the exception of Daisy Mama (which is both offered as an online and/or in-person at the discretion of the Daisy Local Teacher) and in 1:1 services where requested. This of course is under constant review and should any restrictions be re-introduced we will act accordingly.

At this time our policy is reflected below:

COVID-19 Customer Charter

At Daisy we are excited to return to in-person classes. The health and safety of our clients and teachers is paramount. We aim to balance government guidance around the safe, welcoming and nurturing ethos of our classes. To keep you safe, we pledge to do the following:

  • Only to deliver in-person classes and workshops when it is permitted in line with Government restrictions, and to ensure any and all changes to local/regional guidance measures are acted upon as a matter of urgency.
  • Only permit pre-booked clients to enter class to ensure we have the relevant contact details and updated medical questionnaire for all participants and can limit numbers to ensure any current social distancing measures can be honoured, and assist track and trace when necessary.
  • Teach in person only where teachers are free of any symptoms of COVID-19.

Some of our measures that have been applied at varying points in the COVID response journey may still be respected by individual teachers at their discretion:

  • Ensure all clients are spaced 1 metres + apart or in some cases 2 mt.
  • Space classes out to allow for adequate cleaning between groups.
  • Clean all hard surfaces between classes.
  • Sanitise all equipment between classes.
  • Sanitise hands at the beginning and end of every class.
  • Ensure a regular cleaning regime for high traffic areas (door handles, bathrooms, hallways).
  • Ask you to bring your own equipment for classes (mats/blanket etc).
  • Offer you pre-sanitised baby toys for your own use in Daisy Baby Wrigglers and Cruisers classes.
  • Ensure your ‘home-base’ socially distant area is clearly marked in all Daisy Baby classes.
  • Provide hand sanitiser and ensure hand washing facilities are accessible from all classes.
  • Follow guidance for ventilation within teaching environments, leaving windows open.
  • Follow guidance where required for the wearing of face masks in common areas of venues and ensure all changes to guidelines are adhered to. We are adopting a policy of ‘Wear your mask till you reach your mat’ as a minimum.
  • Make any appropriate amendments to class content so as to minimise risk, including but not limited to singing in baby classes.

In return we would ask that our clients help us to maintain this safe environment by following the guidelines below:

  • Do not come to class if you (or your baby) has had any symptoms of Covid-19 (you must follow government guidance to self-isolate).
  • Respect the guidance in relation to the wearing of face masks whenever and wherever they are required, or it is possible. We ask to you to adopt a ‘wear the mask until you reach the mat’ approach as a minimum where possible and respect the guidance for your UK region.
  • Sanitise your hands upon arrival and leaving class – there will be sanitiser available.
  • Exercise patience upon arrival and departure to avoid congestion around doorways and common areas – respecting others and adhering to the 2 metres social distancing guidelines at all times.
  • Arrive on time (and leave promptly) for your class to allow for the increased cleansing time between classes to take place.
  • Bring any equipment to class that your teacher has suggested in your welcome email for your specific class – this may include yoga mat, cushion or your baby’s favourite instrument or rattle etc.
  • Adopt the ‘catch it and bin it’ method for all coughs and sneezes – and ensuring all soiled tissues, nappies, wet-wipes or other waste is collected and disposed of at home.
  • Understand that we may need to make small alterations to sections of class if we believe it to minimise the risk – this may impact singing in class, babies touching the book in wrigglers and cruisers etc.

By committing to this charter, and asking you to follow it too, we can relax and enjoy being back at in-person classes and enjoying the Daisy Magic as safely as we possibly can!

Daisy’s top priority is helping all of our communities to stay safe – but that being said, pandemic or not – our absolute priority is providing a safe space in which expectant and new mums/families can be assured of informed education, unconditional support and community. It is our responsibility to ensure that this service is continued for you and all Daisy Teachers have strategies in place to support continued service.

We understand how lonely and confusing it can be under normal circumstances throughout pregnancy, birth and the early parenting days – we will absolutely be here for you to help you stay connected, supported and to access the education Daisy excels at.

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).

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).

Antenatal Depression

Antenatal Depression – it’s real and it’s scary!

Finding out I was pregnant should have been a wonderful thing. Having a baby is exciting! A new chapter, a new beginning and the start of our family. To be honest, after the initial shock, it was. I was lucky with my first that I didn’t feel too sick. A bit nauseous, but it didn’t interfere with my life. I was just extremely tired. As I got towards six weeks pregnant, something didn’t feel right. I felt really low and I had no enjoyment in anything in my life. Even getting out of bed each morning was a struggle. Gradually, each day it started to feel like a big cloud was descending over me. I put it down to normal pregnancy hormones and carried on.

When I was seven weeks pregnant, my husband and I went away to Portugal where we told his mum we were expecting a baby in December. She was over the moon, but I felt nothing. No joy, no happiness. Just total and utter dread. What would my life be like with a baby? I saw parents with their children playing on the beach and felt sheer terror. I had an overwhelming feeling that I did not want my life to change. I did not want a baby, this baby. My husband, though sympathetic, could not really understand and kept saying I should be happy. It was actually during this holiday that he proposed to me. Of course, I said yes; but I was not happy, I had no rush of joy. I just felt numb.

These feelings continued for weeks but still, I put it down to hormones; to feeling sick, to feeling a bit scared at this new stage in my life. When I was fourteen weeks pregnant, I woke up one morning and remember my head felt clear, like a massive weight had been lifted off my shoulders. It felt absolutely incredible. I felt free. My life was good and my baby was healthy. The rush of joy and exhilaration finally came! It was then I realised that maybe I had been suffering from depression. It was not just the usual pregnancy blues. I found something I had written during the first trimester questioning the point of life. What was the point of doing anything if we just die in the end anyway? No one will remember you and you will not remember your life so what is the point? I don’t remember feeling suicidal and I really do not think I was. These feelings were a manifestation of my depression. It was frightening finding that though.

I found out I was pregnant for a second time, when my son was eighteen months old. A surprise, but a happy one. When I was 6 weeks pregnant, I got the same sinking feeling. I felt the cloud descend over me, taking me back to that dark abyss. I felt panic at how having a baby would affect my son who was still breastfeeding, and that he didn’t deserve to have his little world turned upside down. I felt numb, I felt no joy or happiness at all. I was much sicker this time and even considered terminating the pregnancy; something I would never do in my normal frame of mind. I spent my days lay on the sofa feeling sorry for myself. I was lucky to have a good support network to help look after my son, but I am saddened that I remember very little from that stage in his infanthood. I feel like I was missing for a chunk of his life. When I was sixteen weeks pregnant, I woke up one morning feeling light and free. The weight had gone and my head was clear. This time I told my midwife exactly what it was, although all she did was note that I was more likely to suffer postnatal depression; thankfully I didn’t either time.

The PANDAS foundation suggests that one in ten pregnant women will suffer from depression at some point during pregnancy, and around one in thirty will suffer both antenatal and postnatal depression. The triggers for antenatal depression can be physical, emotional or social. I think mine was caused by the hormonal changes or imbalances of the first trimester as it lifted when I was into the second. Antenatal depression is still not widely recognised, with most people putting it down to hormones, rather than real depression. This is not useful for those suffering from it as it can be completely debilitating. It may also be hard to admit how you feel; you have a new life growing inside you and you should feel ecstatic, right? If you think what you are feeling is more than ‘normal’ pregnancy blues, do seek support. Talk to your midwife, be honest with family and friends. It is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of and does not mean you will not love your baby. Antenatal Depression is most definitely real and it is a very scary place to be in.

Daisy x

(Blog contributed by one of our Daisy Teachers Chloe Sena)

Useful Links


The curse of colic


Being a new mum bought with it many challenges, some I expected – like sleepless nights, constant nappy changing and baby sick – but I didn’t expect that I would have a crying baby who couldn’t be consoled, no matter what I did.

Starting every day at 5pm, my two week old baby would start screaming. I walked him around, rocked him, fed him, changed his nappy, sang songs, gave him a bath, winded him, walked him around some more, rocked him again and so it went on and on. It was exhausting.

The health visitor said it was colic. She said that I could give him over-the-counter medicine, which might or might not work, but he would get better by 4 months of age. It seemed like a long time away but she was right. By 4 months of age, I had a different baby and evenings were no longer the most exhausting time of the day. (That changed to 3am!)

If you have a colicky baby, you probably know the feelings of desperation and frustration as you try to soothe your baby and nothing seems to help. Like me, you have probably tried rocking, walking, feeding day after day to no avail.

If breastfeeding, you may have found that you offer milk to help calm your screaming baby. As they quieten on the breast, you can breathe again, but when your baby finishes, the crying starts again, so you offer the other breast. Evenings may start to become a cycle of crying, feeding, crying from colic, feeding to soothe, crying from colic, feeding to soothe. This can make nipples sore and crack, making breastfeeding painful and increasing the challenges of coping with a colicky baby.

If you are a mum with a colicky baby, let me tell you one thing – you are not alone (30% of babies are estimated to have colic) and it does get better. In the meantime, this will help you to understand what colic is and give you tips to ease colic.

So what is colic?

There is no medical test for colic so doctors diagnose colic using the definition created by Dr. Morris Wessel, who conducted a study on babies who cried excessively for no obvious reason. His definition of a colicky infant (that doctors still use today) was a child who cried for more than 3 hours a day, for more than 3 days a week, for over 3 weeks.

What causes the constant crying is unclear – sorry that this isn’t what you want to hear when your baby is crying every day – but there are a few theories that may help.

One of these theories is that colic is a pain in the stomach that is caused by an immature digestive system. This suggestion fits with the typical high pitched scream and legs pulled up to the stomach that babies with colic present with.

As colic usually occurs in the evening, some suggest it is a result of a sensory overload throughout the day that accumulates by the evening. The baby can’t switch off and so becomes stressed and shows this through physical actions such as arching the back, screaming, squirming and jerky movements.

There is also the theory that colic is a result of the fourth trimester where it is thought a baby is not ready for life outside the womb and therefore reacts to this by crying. This is supported by the fact that most babies grow out of colic by 3 months.

Other possibilities…

Some babies who cry uncontrollably and who have been diagnosed with colic, may have other underlying conditions which also cause crying.

One of these conditions is acid reflux, a painful condition when the muscular valve allows stomach acid to come up into the oesophagus. This can cause discomfort which can present itself by arching away, refusing to feed and crying. A more severe condition is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which requires medical treatment.

Another one of the more common medical causes of excessive crying is cow’s milk protein intolerance. This condition can affect babies who drink formula that contains cow’s milk. It can also affect breastfed babies whose mothers consume cow’s milk products.

Tongue tie affects 4% – 11% of newborn babies. It is a condition that can prevent a correct latch when breastfeeding, which can then lead to colic.

A less common condition, but one which produces crying in young babies, is infantile migraine. Symptoms include intermittent head-holding, head tilting, ear-pulling, crying, irritability or vomiting.

How To Ease Colic

Just as there is no one cause, there is no one solution, but here are some suggestions that may help your colicky baby.

Medicines for colic, such as infacol, bring together all the small bubbles of gas that can get trapped so a baby can burp it out more easily, which may reduce stomach pains and the consequent crying.

Similarly, if a baby has colic due to digestive issues, a stomach massage may help. Circling the stomach in a clockwise direction can shift the gas downwards and out. Massages given during the day can help to prevent the build-up that may cause the excessive crying in the evening.

Using a baby sling with your baby in an upright position can be beneficial as the warmth and pressure of your body against your baby’s stomach reduces discomfort. Equally, a bath may help.

If bottle feeding, you could try different types of bottles and nipples to reduce the air that your baby is taking in. You may also wish to change formula to see if that improves the colic symptoms.

If breastfeeding, try avoiding foods that may cause gas in your baby. More common intolerances are dairy products, caffeine, spicy food and chocolate. Eliminate one possible cause for a few days and see if it makes a difference.

As some babies have colic due to sensory overload, try to keep the room that your baby is in calm, dim and quiet. Even a mobile phone screen near a newborn may be too much towards the end of the day when they are trying to unwind.

Trying to simulate the womb can help calm your colicky baby if they are less than 3 months. To recreate the womb, try swaddling them (or holding them tightly), swaying them in your arms in a sideways position or on the stomach, patting your baby’s bottom or back, making a sssshhhhh sound, and finally, suckling on a finger, dummy or breast.

As there may be a medical condition that is causing the excessive crying, you should discuss your baby’s symptoms with your doctor.

And Just For You…

If your baby has been diagnosed with colic, it is not unusual to feel alone and struggling to cope. You may be exhausted from trying to calm your baby and frustrated that your baby is still crying.

It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help. If you have a partner, maybe you could ask them to take care of your baby while you have a bath or a shower.

Don’t worry about the housework or any other jobs that you feel need doing. These can wait until you are less tired.

Talk to other mums. Trust me – you are not alone with a colicky baby. If you go to baby groups, mention that your baby has colic and you should receive support and understanding. There are also online forums and groups that will give you advice and kind words.

If the crying is getting to you and making you tense or angry, put your baby in bed, or give him to someone else to hold for a while, so that you can take some time out to feel calm again.


This will pass. I know that when you have a baby with colic, it seems to be never-ending, but it does get better. I know because I’ve been there. In the meantime, feel confident that you are doing the best for your baby and look after yourself.

Daisy x

(Contributed by our Telford Teacher Janette Davey)


Letting go for labour

The fear-tension-pain cycle – letting go for labour, ways to prepare your mind to release.

So you’re pregnant – congratulations! Now you’ve started to share the good news, we at the Daisy Foundation are willing to bet that you’ve started getting the horror stories – the failed inductions, the 3rd degree tears, the days long labour…right? In the words of Chandler Bing could that BE less helpful?

Think about your reaction when you got the last round of grim labour stories. You winced, you grimaced, you clenched your pelvic floor and tensed your knees together? Oh yes, that’s the good old fear factor – fight or flight – setting in. Fear makes your nervous system produce adrenaline, which increases your heart rate, makes your breathing shallower, blood diverts from your non-essential organs and your muscles tense. Perfectly understandable…but now think about where your baby’s going to come from. Uh huh. Your body being tense from your belly button to your knees isn’t going to help your baby on their way, is it? Your fear leads to tension, and tension leads to pain.

When adrenaline is produced in a labouring woman, it inhibits the production of two other hormones; oxytocin and endorphins. It’s these two hormones that are responsible for stimulating the contractions of the uterus, and for blocking the feelings of pain a woman feels. Without these present in sufficient quantities a woman’s labour will be longer, more stressful, and more painful than if we allow our bodies to limit the production of adrenaline.

So what if you were told that you can help prevent the pain of labour? Let’s start by looking at the fear aspect of the cycle. Fear of the unknown is a well-established phenomenon and it holds true in labour too. Just as each woman and each pregnancy is different, so too is each birth experience. For a first-time mum with no point of reference, the thought of pushing a baby out of a hole that small can be pretty terrifying. Reduce the unknown, however, and you can reduce the fear. And that’s where antenatal education comes in. A knowledgeable, informed woman is one who no longer fears the unknown. Now – no woman can plan their birth experience entirely, otherwise we’d all be having two-hour labours with no tearing or pooing (am I right?) but by becoming knowledgeable about the birth process, about the options available to you and about how you can influence the birth to be the best possible outcome on the day by playing the hand that’s dealt, then you can make it all a lot less scary. What’s more, by being so well prepared, this knowledge becomes innate and you won’t have to rouse yourself too much from your birth bubble to give consideration to anything that might need a decision from you. Coming out of that internally focussed zone allows adrenaline to creep up – not good for your oxytocin levels.

We’ve looked at how you can reduce your fear by preparing your cortex (your ‘thinking brain’, responsible for knowledge and decision making) ahead of the big day, but you can also prepare your limbic system (or ‘emotional brain’) to release fear. Now your limbic system is responsible for many things, one of which is your fight or flight reflex…yep, that again. And where knowledge and information can affect your cortex, we need a different language to speak to the emotional brain. Something that will help you exercise the part of the brain which switches on – and off – that adrenaline switch. This is where relaxations and visualisations come in. Using guided visualisations such as seeing each contraction as a wave building up in intensity, peaking and gently rippling away while in a state of pain-free relaxation can encourage your body to return to that state when anchoring itself to those visualisations in labour. Your breathing becomes easier and floods the body with oxygen, your muscles are relaxed and free of tension which makes each contraction more effective, you’re disassociated from feelings of pain which keeps oxytocin and endorphin levels high. Pretty impressive, right?

There’s another way to keep adrenaline, fear and tension out of the birthing room with you, and that’s the room itself. Imagine a stark white, brightly lit room that smells slightly of Dettol that hums with the electric lights. Now picture a dimly lit, warm room filled with your favourite scent and music. It’s unlikely you’re going to be feeling very comfortable in room number one. And if you’re not comfortable, if you don’t feel safe and secure, then your adrenaline will rise and your labour might stall. So really think about preparing your birth space to be a place where you can feel comfortable in. Many hospitals and birth centres are really accommodating at letting you take in goodies from home.

The most important thing to remind yourself in labour though? I trust my body to birth my baby. What we believe, our bodies can conceive!

Daisy x

(Contributed by one of our Cheshire Daisy teachers, Meg Hill)

Does instinct overrule evidence when it comes to birth?

How can you best prepare to navigate your birth experience? There are those that will follow their instincts and trust in what they think or know their bodies are capable of – which is great! There are others who will consume every last shred of evidence they can get their hands on and make decisions accordingly – also brilliant. So how can you marry the two options – trust in your instinct or follow the evidence?

In an ideal world, mums to be would be fully informed of the choices she could make during pregnancy and labour. The information would be presented in a non-biased and non-threatening way. (1) She could take the time to assess the different options and be listened to and respected for her choices even if they went against current medical advice. Of course this does happen for many women accessing maternity care however for some the experience may feel different. So what is going on?

What is ‘instinct’? Do we all have it? And why is evidence important if we have instinct?

“an innate, typically fixed pattern of behaviour in animals in response to certain stimuli.” (2)

“the way people or animals naturally react or behave, without having to think or learn about it “(3)

Women are built to birth because we have done since the dawn of time. Our limbic brains run on hormones which when undisturbed will run the dance of labour and birth in almost magestic normality. Women who birth undisturbed demonstrate instinctive behaviours without being told to – they breathe through their noses and mouths, they sway and move, they moan and crouch, they seek privacy and dark, they adopt comfortable positions to ease their labour and birth their baby’s – they instinctively hold and stare at their newborns and smile the smile of love. So yes, in some respects we all have an instinct to birth.

Modern Instinct?

We tell mums to ‘trust your instincts,’ ‘of course you’ll know what to do’, ‘trust your body’ but at the same time bombard her daily with messages of how she can’t trust her instincts or her body or her baby. Time and again mums say that they didn’t really believe they were pregnant and it was so reassuring to see the scan picture. And from that scan we get growth charts and EDD’s and progressions and expectations and neat box ticking exercises which gently erode mums confidence that her body and baby are built to work together. Society tells mums what to eat, what not to eat, how much alcohol to drink or not drink, vitamins to take, activities to avoid and those to take part in. Is it any wonder that mums own instinct becomes harder for her to hear?


But sometimes it’s not as simple as just listening to your instinct, your instinct may tell you that a c’section is the right decision for you, that induction is ready for you – how do we balance the evidence we recieve about pregnancy and labour with our own instincts about what is right for us?

“the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.” (4)

Untangling the evidence can be a mine field. But it’s always worth asking questions of the evidence presented whoever is presenting it. What does the absolute risk versus the relative risk (5) how does this fit with your personal comfort with that risk? What do your instincts say at every point of gathering new information?

“Risk is a very personal concept and different women will consider different risks to be significant to them. Everything we do in life involves risk. So when considering whether to do X or Y there is no ‘risk free’ option. All women can do is choose the option with the risks they are most willing to take. However, in order to make a decision women need adequate information about the risks involved in each option. If a health care provider fails to provide adequate information they could be faced with legal action.” (6)

Balancing Instinct and Evidence

So where does that leave you? The mum approaching her labour to meet her new baby, perhaps over whelmed by the amount of evidence, advice and stories being fired across your path. The first thing to do is take a step back and have a big breath of air! (7) You’ve got this, you really do (8)

Secondly, make a plan – you don’t have to leave your instincts and evidence to chance, understanding your options means you have options. (9) Book a class (10) understand what it means to give birth and have a think about your options, where to give birth, how to manage your birth preferences, get your birth partner prepared. Balance your personal level of comfort with risk give your circumstance – don’t just go with the flow, after all you never know who’s flow you might end up going with.

Take the time NOW, this side of labour to consider the evidence and then when you and your baby are ready listen to and trust your instincts which will be the perfect balance of mind, body and soul for your labour, to meet your baby.

Lots of Love,
Daisy x

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Written for Daisy By Fi Hennessy, our Sheffield teacher.

Going your own way

Why going your own way can be lonely and fantastic at the same time

I can still clearly remember the first time we gave our (now 3-year old) son his first bath. We carefully tested the water with our elbows, made sure it wasn’t hot, got the towels ready and lowered him in, ensuring he didn’t slip and his precious head was supported at all times. He screamed blue murder. And he did the same the second time.

It wasn’t until we asked our midwife to show us how to bath him that we realised that you didn’t need to have the water at approximately 20o, a temperature that would have made me scream too! A nice, comfortable 37o bath wasn’t going to scald his precious little body any more than it damaged mine.

The problem with pregnancy and birth is there is so much information out there, and so much emphasis on the things you can do wrong, that it is easy to lose sight of common sense and your instinct as a parent. If we’d taken a minute to step back and think about what temperature of water we would like to be put naked into, we’d have got it right first time.

When you are a first time mum, your baby is so precious, and – more importantly – often so completely baffling that you can end up spending more time worrying about the things that might be going wrong than relaxing in the joy of watching them figure out the world and their place in it.

I used to worry about everything.

The first time I took him out in his pram down the busy main road to the supermarket, I worried that I was poisoning him with the traffic fumes.

When he was 5 months old, and still showing no sign of trying to turn over, I worried that I hadn’t given him enough tummy time and was stunting his development.

I worried that using wipes for his bottom instead of clean, healthy (and frankly useless) cotton wool buds would lead to permanent skin problems.

The one thing I never worried about was weaning. I knew before I had my son that I was going to do baby-led weaning. I knew this based on one pub lunch I had with a friend about 2 years before I even got pregnant, when I watched her share her sandwich and salad with her 6-month-old child. I watched the pleasure both of them got from him trying proper, grown-up food, testing the different, textures, colours and flavours and figuring out what to do with it all. It was lovely to see both mum and baby happy and relaxed around food – the thing that brings families together, but can so often turn into a battleground.

And as I sat there and watched, I thought “When I’m a mum, when I’m the world’s most perfect mum, who never gets stressed about anything and knows exactly what she’s doing, I will do that.”

It was the easiest and best decision I have made as a parent so far. I loved baby-led weaning; my son loved baby-led weaning. Even the grandparents loved it, despite it going against everything they were told when they were bringing us up.

The only negative aspect was losing my peer support. I have a lovely, supportive, fun and honest set of friends with children of a similar age, but I used to sit in cafés with them on a regular basis, listening to their stories of endless pureeing, freezing and spoon feeding and feel entirely on my own. It would have been great if I had known one other person who was doing what I was doing, to swap recipes, stories, successes and failures with. I was sure that I was doing the right thing, but being different and going it alone can be scary.

At the end of the weaning story, I am proud of my healthy, active, inquisitive and energetic son. What I’ve come to learn is that being a mum is all about doing what is right for you and what is right for your baby. Sometimes that means following the advice to the letter (I would never have given him formula in a bottle that wasn’t sterilised, for example), but sometimes it means going your own way, and having the confidence to know it’s the right thing for you and your family.

Written by Sue Jackson, a mum that did her own thing!