“Bump: How to make, grow and birth a baby” by Kate Evans

Beginning with a cheeky baby on the cover, ‘Bump’ is packed with wonderful cartoons; many laugh-out-loud funny ones, some hauntingly beautiful which accompany an at times irreverent yet sensitive, evidence based and yet visceral text; a combination which authentically depicts many of the roller-coaster rides of womanhood today. In “Functions of the Orgasms” Michel Odent said “the function of joy in pregnancy is to protect the unborn child against the effects of the harmful stress hormones”, and “to transmit from generation to generation the capacity to be joyful”, thus I recommend this book to all but especially to pregnant women. “Bump” covers the full gamut of reproduction issues; through pre-conception to trying to, or not trying to conceive, early to late pregnancy development and possible losses, preparing for the baby, birth options and rights.  Breastfeeding was the subject of Kate’s previous informative and entertaining book; The Food of Love; Your formula for successful breastfeeding”, therefore is not addressed in this tome. The unique aspect of this book is that it offers, in evidence based realist text with poignant drawings, information about how women can embark on the primal and universal journey of physiological or undisturbed birth in the care of a known, sensitive and appropriately experienced midwife.

In her “Forward, forewarned….” Kate acknowledges she has left out men, and their perspectives on these things, and that she refers to the unborn child as ‘them’ because she feels “we need gender neutral language, particularly when discussing the baby in the womb, whose person-hood can be felt before their sex can be identified.” Next comes the first of Kate’s “pick-your-own adventure moment” pages, where the reader can choose how to navigate this book according to whether they want to, in this instance on page 10; “find out how to make a baby” or not. Also through-out this book, Kate is a dispeller of fairy-tales, a realist, for example on page 29’s “pick-your-own adventure moment” she acknowledges that there are at least 6 different ways that today’s woman may have obtained sperm; not all loving nor human.  I wish I could have used this book as a guide to exploring my cycle, “fruity juices” and nature’s conspiracy to aid penetration of one ‘Lily of the valley’ smelling ovum by a single, “hyper-fast wonky swimming sperm”. Kate Evans also shows herself to be an inclusive feminist in her drawings and text, which acknowledge different racial and sexual identities, such as in the brief segment titled ‘Breeders and non-breeders’ she says we all need to respect that some women do not want children and that there are other paths including for those who are gay, straight or bi-sexual, some of whom may benefit from the practical information offered about understanding our bodies’ fertility, regardless of whether our cycles and lives are ‘regular’.

Medicine man vs Witch doctor” on page 68, is the first example of another of Kate’s themes in this book; the critiquing of Western medicine’s limited efforts to support “our bodies’ efforts” to reproduce. In comparison, this book offers an holistic, ecologically sustainable and physiological approach to fertility and childbearing, with info-graphics on complementary therapies such as acupuncture, inclusion of varying emotional states in the “Things that go bump” chapter (p 154) to “The psycho-bitch-from-hell feeling”(p 84), as well as practicalities; like explaining how to connect with one’s ‘Butterfly kissing baby in the womb, other than through scans (page 147) to The broke mum’s budget baby list” section (p 176) . In addition, Kate’s sensitive realism shines through in her efforts to address critical matters such as partner abuse; where she acknowledges the difficulties women have in accepting or leaving a relationship which was thought to be born of ’love’, but is in-fact toxic for herself, her baby and sadly could become lethal in a culture “which romanticise arrogant emotionally unavailable men, which blame women for being victims.” Chapter 13 “Ask Aunty Katy” (p 195) is the epitome of this book’s relaxed, girl-friend style and efforts to show that many of today’s fears have in fact a good news element to them such as “There’s a reason for the anatomical proximity of anus and birth canal and, If you can get through the birth of your child without simultaneously throwing up and wetting yourself, you’re doing better than me”.

Readers outside, and possibly inside of the UK, probably need references, which indicate safe bed-sharing is supported by the UK Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative and National Institute on Clinical Evidence (NICE) as well as backed by UK and international research, attached to, or inserted into the info graphic on it (p 177).

One New Zealand reviewer of this book suggested that Chapter 15; “Crossing the sea” should be a pull out frieze for women in early labour”. As a midwife I appreciate the woman to woman encouragements and entreaties to go forth into labour and birth; “To remember your baby loves you. Close your eyes and journey in your mind to somewhere beautiful with your baby. Talk to your baby, tell them it is time to come through.” It is unique and invaluable that birth is presented as “what has happened when women have had babies since time immemorial” (p 227), usually without men and not in some-one else’s domain, so it would seem like Kate is promoting homebirth for those who only know hospital as where to be delivered. It is also vitally important that this account includes an understanding of the labour and birth hormones, as well as the factors which can enhance or limit their working, as a key ingredient in the unfolding process. It is fitting that legendary English Midwife Mary Cronk is the model for Kate’s wise-woman, knitting midwife, as Mary has helped midwives all over the world retain the knowledge to support and assist the natural birth of all babies but especially twins and breech babies. Her crone encourages the ability of Monkey Mamma’s inner, ancient mammalian brain to send out hormones which make the womb-work till the last act of procreative genius whereby the living ligatures of her womb births the placenta and stems bleeding. This chapter’s pace, content and tone are a contrast to the next; “Totally Bananas, which, though it begins a little confrontationally; “Who put men in charge of childbirth? I mean honestly, what was that about?” , it is actually an evidence based and historical review of medicalised childbirth. Thereafter follows less emotive sections on the physiological needs of labouring women, different maternity systems, women’s “Birth rights” and other birth options including a positive caesarean section (p284).  The book ends as it began with another cherubic baby, though this time in the form of another of Kate’s info-graphics; the “New centre of the Universe”.

I think the disclaimer and entreaty that “this book doesn’t have all the answers, but it might inspire you to further research” would be more appropriate as part of a separate section titled ‘Further Reading”, rather than placed at the beginning of the ‘References and Index’. This is because there is a lot more information, as well as international, national and local support groups for issues addressed in this book, which readers could have been encouraged to Google. However, overall I am thankful that someone has put humour, emotions and fact in such a delightful package for women and their midwives, and I would like to see this book on the reading lists of all Childbirth Education and Midwifery courses.

Denise Hynd
Midwife


Denise

How we Birth Matters!

A midwife explains labour and birth from a baby’s perspective!

The knowledge about how to give birth is within every woman.

The knowledge about how to be born is within every baby.

Labour is an instinctive dance between mother and baby !

Birth is a ‘pas de deux’!

Connection is Everything

Growing knowledge and awareness about the physical and emotional implications of the mother-baby connection, and how our actions from conception to early childhood can help or impede this relationship, is resulting in promotion of practices which support this relationship.

In Pregnancy.

Authorities are beginning to acknowledge that parenting begins before birth, and possibly before pregnancy. There is mounting evidence from scientific experiments, and personal stories of children and adults about their experiences before birth, which makes us realise that memory, learning and communication begin in the womb; a long time before we acquire language. Babies in the womb have a fast developing sensory system which allows them to react to individual voices, stories, music, and even simple interaction games with the mother from about the second month (8 weeks) of pregnancy.Therefore the quality of the emotional, as well as the physical uterine environment is affected by the parents, their behaviours and their lives.

Most women become aware of their baby’s movements from about 16 to 22 weeks of their pregnancy, depending on various things like; is this their first baby or not, is the placenta at the front of the uterus which may also be well covered with fatty layers, both form padding which can lessen the sensation and awareness of baby’s movements. These days many women do not notice the time of the first, or subsequent movements as they are busy working long hours, this lack or late perception maybe a sign that a mother needs to slow down, rest so she can connect with and nourish her baby, to help it grow emotionally, as well as physically. Those who study stillbirth in Australia and New Zealand, encourage mothers to be mindful of their baby’s behaviours, advising that as the baby grows the number and types of movements will change depending on the mother’s activity. They also warn that “a change in the number or pattern of movements may be an early sign that the baby is unwell and should be checked” with their maternity care provider, rather than waiting for the next appointment or monitoring. Sleeping on her left side during the last weeks of pregnancy will also helps to nourish and maintain its growth by not compressing her blood vessels which give the womb and baby its blood supply. Drugs like smoking, alcohol and strong pain killers are known to alter a baby’s behaviour, and this is why we need to decrease the exposure of pregnant women to noxious substances such as car fumes and cigarette smoke. Continue reading

Giving birth in a stable might be better than a labour ward

From  on Tuesday, Dec 23 2014 with New Zealand modifications by Denise Hynd

The ‘greatest birth story ever told’ has a lot to teach 21st century policy makers, writes Milli Hill

baby with a santa hat and green background

© Getty Images

When it comes to giving birth, maybe newer, shinier and more technological isn’t necessarily better. The world was baffled recently when new UK guidelines for pregnant women stated quite clearly that hospital was the LEAST safe place to give birth – how very mysterious! Could it be that those beeping machines and vigilant docs, which we’d all been led to believe epitomised progress and were so very essential to our labours, were actually making things worse?!

It seems like the world is finally waking up to the fact that birth is something so fundamentally human – like eating, sleeping, making love – that it does not benefit from the interference of modern technology. With birth, we need to go back to basics, and to allow ourselves to be mammals. And so, although the straw might be a little spiky on the knees, a stable might be just the place to have a baby. Here’s why: Continue reading

Microbirth

More Auckland screenings of Microbirth  will happen in 2015 -if you would like to host one please contact Denise 

“Microbirth” examines evidence which links modern delivery practices with the reduction and loss of some critical biological processes making our children more susceptible to non-infectious diseases through-out their lives. For example recent studies have shown that babies born by Caesarean have an increased risk of developing asthma, type 1 diabetes, obesity and other diseases linked to the immune system;up-to 30% higher than children born vaginally. Other research also shows that the process of vaginal birth which involves a cocktail of hormones for mother and baby in labour, sets the best beginnings for our immune system and subsequent health. International experts in the film also forecast that the current escalation of these non-communicable diseases is a potential world health catastrophe which could bankrupt many nations!

Auckland hospitals Caesarean Section rates in 2013 are; National Women’s 30%, North Shore 30%, Waitakere 24.6%, Middlemore 22% !

Further explanation of the Microbiome and its implications on pregnancy is here; Midwifethinking

Placenta Birth Choices.

The placenta and its care is a vital part of a healthy pregnancy and birth, as together with the baby’s cord, amniotic fluid and 2 membranes or sacs, it is “The Fetal Life Support System” until the baby is living outside the womb.

Each baby and its placenta, cord, amniotic fluid and membranes develop simultaneously following the union of the ovum (egg) and sperm. Placental function begins from implantation until the baby has moved to life outside the womb, if we allow it to complete its work. Continue reading

Love and Fear.

There are only two feelings: Love and Fear

There are only two languages: Love and Fear

There are only two activities: Love and Fear

There are only two  motives, two procedures,

Two frameworks, two results : Love and Fear,

Love and Fear.

Michael Leunig

 

NZ Media and Caesarean Realities.

This Friday 13th (September 2013) saw TVNZ One News coverage of the Women’s Health Research Centres’ report on the rising Caesarean Section (C/S) rates in NZ, ignore and, or misrepresent the following facts;

1)  There was no suggestion let alone reference, or hint by TVNZ of growing international evidence and experiences which show that a surgical delivery has more risks for both mother and baby compared to a vaginal birth, in all the examples to which they referred. However the viewpoints offered by TVNZ about those situations suggest that Caesarean delivery is an equal, acceptable or even better birth option for these mothers and their babies.  Continue reading

Home Birth Safer than Hospital.

BBC News; 14 June 2013

Home birth complications ‘less common’ than hospital

Mother and newborn
In the UK, home births account for around 2.5% of all births – the figure is 20% in the Netherlands

Planned home births are less risky than planned hospital births, particularly for second-time mothers, says research in the British Medical Journal.

A large Dutch study found the risk of severe complications to be one in 1,000 for home births and 2.3 in 1,000 for hospital births.

The Royal College of Midwives said the study was further evidence of the safety and benefits of home birth. Whilst Obstetricians warn that the system in the Netherlands is different to the UK.

For low-risk women having their first baby at home, the study calculated their risk of being admitted to intensive care or needing a large blood transfusion to be small – and similar to women giving birth in hospital.

This was 2.3 per 1,000 for home births, compared with 3.1 per 1,000 for planned hospital births.

But in women who had given birth before, severe complications were found to be less common during planned home births.

The researchers, including midwives and obstetricians from universities in Amsterdam, Leiden and Nijmegen, said those figures were “statistically significant”.

In this group of women, the risk of severe blood loss after delivery (also known as postpartum haemorrhage) was 19.6 per 1,000 for a planned home birth compared with 37.6 per 1,000 for planned hospital births.

“We should be aiming to see home births at the levels of the 1960s when a third of women had their babies in their homes” said Cathy Warwick of The Royal College of Midwives Continue reading

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The greatest joy is to become a mother; the second greatest is to be a midwife. — Norwegian proverb
Trust children. Nothing could be more simple, or more difficult. Difficult because to trust children we must first learn to trust ourselves and most of us were taught as children we could not be trusted. — John Holt
We need to have their hearts before we can open their minds. — Dr Gordon Neufeld
No other natural bodily function is painful and childbirth should not be an exception. — Grantly Dick-Read
Nothing in life is to be feared it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more so we can fear less. — Marie Curie
I can promise you that women working together - linked, informed and educated - can bring peace and prosperity to this forsaken planet. — Isabel Allende
Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible. — Frank Zappa
A loving heart is the truest wisdom. — Charles Dickens
All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward. — Ellen Glasgow
Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers – strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength. — Barbara Katz-Rothman