I’ve always thought New Year was a terrible time to turn over a new leaf. You go from the most indulgent month in December to the most austere in January and I swear our bodies must be going into shock.
I have always thought the Spring Equinox was a better time to start afresh especially one including exercise, but by then I’ve forgotten that I ever had any good intentions in the first place.
It was only when my lovely friend told me that her secret to keeping happy in January was to not finish the port over Christmas that I realised I was going about New Year all wrong.
That said, if you do want to make a change, don’t let me be the one to stop you. In fact, let me help you along the way.
As a Natural Therapist, I combine various techniques in a way that best suits you and if you goal for 2018 is to be happier, healthier, sportier or sleepier then let me point you in the right direction.
Using muscles testing to ask the body a series of questions (so your brain can’t get in the way!) we can get down to the very root of what your body needs the most to kick start your good intentions.
And if you’re not sure, the great news is that I am offering some taster sessions THIS SATURDAY in Berkhamsted so you can give my treatments a try. I am expecting people to turn up with a whole host of issues and these could be some of them:
Digestive issues you just want gone
Hormonal imbalances you want fixing
Structural muscle issues which stop you moving without pain
Emotional blocks that are stopping you from moving forward
Food intolerance testing
You can even bring me the contents of your supplements drawer and I will tell you which ones are worth your while to take.
I love a good variety, and a challenge, so come down and see me and let’s pick ONE thing that you need to focus on to make this happen.
Saturday 13th January. 20 minute session for £25. At Carmenta Life (Behind St Peter’s Church) Chesham House (Ground floor), Church Lane, Berkhamsted HP4 2AX. To book please click on this link
Disclaimer: None of my tools are diagnostic tools. I will recommend Herbs, Supplements and Remedies but do not recommend stopping medicine prescribed to you, Please return to the prescriber to discuss. Taster Sessions are 20 mins long and payable on booking. For longer appointments please contact me. By undertaking treatment your are taking responsibility for your own wellbeing.
Every now and then we have a period which tests us to the limit and last month we moved house. I always thought that comparing it to a bereavement or divorce was a little extreme. It might be, but it was a lot more stressful than I expected.
We’re in now. I can’t decide if I cried more leaving my first ever house where I got married and my babies were born, or about the washing machine tap not switching off when we unplugged it. Both seemed equally traumatic at the time.
Traumatic instances drain us of all our resources. If we’re already running on empty then we’re digging deep into nothing to get by then we’re going to struggle to recover out the other side.
Being a qualified health practitioner doesn’t exempt us from sickness. Sometimes we’re terrible at looking after ourselves. I am. I haven’t seen my homeopath since June. I haven’t had time.
(Slaps hand) I haven’t MADE time.
With the move, it was the uncertainty that gets me. That’s my “type”. I like to know what’s going on and my way to manage anxiety is to control it, read all about it, inform myself thoroughly…. And of course so much about moving is completely out of our hands.
I am also impatient. And I couldn’t sleep for thinking about it. Arg Nit might have been a good thing to take but I didn’t think of it at the time. I took a stress mix from Helios instead which I found at the back of the cupboard. Easy enough to take but not as effective.
So what with organising the move and settling two boys into new schools and emotionally “holding” their space (that’s a polite way of saying worrying myself sick about them – they’re doing well though) and not being able to move from one end of the house to the other without seeing ten jobs which need doing… I knew I wasn’t looking after myself.
So I made myself one promise: I would drink enough water.
I filled one bottle per day and the deal was that I had to finish it. I could just about manage that.
Dehydration is a systemic problem for many of us, and at the root of most diseases. Have a read of “The Body’s Many Cries for Water” to see just what a mess we can get ourselves into without water.
I seem to have spent my time walking up enormous hills since we got here too. Not something my body is used to. So I am tired from moving house, tired from the emotions of moving. tired from the hills. And I can’t help thinking that, without all the water I’d been in a much sorrier state.
I also have a sore throat, and a cough. Minor irritations which is my body’s way of telling me to slow down. And of course, as if I weren’t busy enough, I’ve signed up for another Kinesiology course.
So I have slowed down with the unpacking and lowered my expectations of the to do list. I can’t choose a wallpaper that I like but it doesn’t matter. Perhaps as the dust settles, I will be able to think more clearly.
So when you only have the head space to make one choice, drink water. Have it available. Offer it to people who look stressed. Check your children are drinking enough and that they actually like the taste. Never go out without a bottle. You get the idea.
The upside of the new house in a new town is a new clinic which is very exciting. This is the first picture.
I am looking forward to welcoming lots of people, exhisting clients and old, into the new Berkhamsted Clinic.
To mark Baby Loss Awareness Week, I am going to share a very personal story with you. My own experience of baby loss is what put me on the road to where I am today. I do not write this with the intention of pulling your heartstrings, but it’s only fair to give a trigger warning before you start.
I was heartbroken when they told me at 11 weeks that my pregnancy was no longer viable. At the hospital they were so kind and helpful but I was numb with shock. I had suspected something wasn’t right but had tried to carry on at work until my body finally shouted loud that there was a problem. By time I got to the hospital I knew in my heart that it wasn’t good news.
“I can see a baby [pause] but I can’t see a heartbeat I am afraid”
Sitting here now, I remember it clearly and I remember how I felt, but I don’t feel those feelings anymore. I went on to have another baby and I would never swap him for all that heartache. But it took me a long time to process. I visited doctors who had no answers and homeopaths who also had no answers but what they did have ways of helping me process my grief.
Then I visited an acupuncturist. I had heard it was good for fertility and I just wanted to be pregnant again. During one session she put a needle somewhere into my back and a yelped in pain.
“What was that?!” I asked.
“Your heart” she answered.
So there you go. I had a broken heart, and not a broken womb as I thought. I hadn’t got around to telling my work so the privacy of my grief was making me squash it down. Part of me liked pretending I was OK, but I did need to acknowledge the hurt in my heart to move on. Allowing that grief was the kindness I needed to offer myself at that time.
But did you see the language that I used describing what happened? I mention (a little deliberately, I admit) heartbroken, heartbeat, “I knew in my heart”, heartache.
I wanted to point this out because when you come to see me, I listen intently to the way that you describe what has happened to you.
Holistically, imbalances mostly come from an emotional place. By tracking it back there and listening to your language, you tune in to the way the mind has wound itself up in the trauma. And there lies the key to unwinding it.
I did take a remedy which has an affinity for the heart in the end. Sometimes, if the feelings pop up, I take it again. But on the whole I don’t need it anymore. This discovery, my return to well-being, and my subsequent pregnancy led me on a journey to study homeopathy and other therapies. I realised that trauma needs to be treated as a whole and that, even the subtle way that people explain what pains them is enormously important to the way that they heal.
If this is interesting to you then you are welcome to have a no obligation chat with me about whether we could work together. I work a lot with knackered mums and their hormones as this is where my special interest lies. Do get in touch if you think I can help you.
So, it was Homoepathy Awareness Week earlier on in the year and, as part of unveiling the mysteries of homoepathy, some passionate people have been working behind the scenes to find a way to make homeopathy more readily available…. by way of a new app.
Here are some good things about it: it’s free; it’s got a comprehensive list of acute situations where you can use homeopathy and some details about the remedies to help you cross check; its put together by different professional bodies in collaboration (how often does that happen?); it’s on your phone which means it’s with you most of the time.
The idea is that you find the symptom which best fit what’s going on for you right now. Then take that remedy. If you feel better, you don’t need to take any more, if you relapse, take another one. Sometimes it takes a few to get the message through, but after a few doses, you’ll soon get the idea.
Know this though: it’s 100% safe. If you pick the “wrong” remedy then nothing happens.
My recommendation to you, as you get to know the app, is to get hold of one of the remedy kits from one of the pharmacies. My person favourite is the Ainsworth kit. It has a good amount of variety and an excellent booklet with it.
Inside this kit are 42 of the most common remedies in small vials. It will cover most things you might need and it’s handy to have them on hand if you suddenly succumb to something.
If you would like the Ainsworth Kit, I recommend calling them to order: +44 (0)1883 340332
If you don’t have the right remedy, the pharmacies are quite quick to get it out to you. I started with a kit like the one about and quickly had an over flow box a bit like this one:
There are some lovely books, if you would like to learn more there are some lovely books which you can read around the subject, but for now the booklet and the app would do the job.
So what about us homeopaths? Will we be out of business? Absolutely not! The most beautiful healing that is done is not for earaches or diarrhea – you can use the app for that – but for broken hearts or deepest fears. Homeopathy at it’s finest might start with a physical complaint, but, as you pull away the layers, heals something much more deeply. We were trained to listen and unpick the pieces and an app will not do that for you.
The app will give you confidence in homeopathy. You will see some miraculous shifts just by helping your friends and family and you will want to know more. That’s what we are hoping. More people might just try homeopathy. More people might look up a natural alternative before medicating their headache.
It’s simply called “Homeopathy”. It’s on both Android and Apple and it’s free! So what’s not to like? Look for these graphics.
Many of my patients have tried to come off Anti-Depressants in the past and been unsuccessful. This can leave them with a sinking feeling of being stuck on their medication. Working with the body, rather than sending it into a state of shock and withdrawal, it is possible to do a naturopathic detox which puts the body under less pressure.
It’s worth saying before you read on, that being drug-free is never conditional to working with me. It is never my recommendation that you should come off any medication. This should be discussed with the person who put you on the medication in the first place, likely your GP. Only you are responsible for your own wellbeing but I am here to support you.
Take Citalopram as an example, this is an often prescribe anti-depressant which is an SSRI or Selective Seratonin Reuptake Inhibitor. Briefly, serotonin is our friend, it makes us feel happy. By blocking the uptake in the brain, we think we have more serotonin than we do. But by blocking the brain what else is happening? Seratonin is made in the gut, so by altering the production here we are messing with our gut flora and by extension our entire nutritional uptake.
By supporting the body naturopathically, it is possible to reduce these symptoms and ease the body into transitioning much more gently.
I am not here to tell you all the reasons why it is bad to take this medication. But it’s important to understand what areas of the body are affected by this recoding because these are the areas we need to support as you come off the medication.
Did you know that it takes 35 hours for Citalopram to come out of your system? This means that, if you skip a day of medication, about half way through the day, your body will start to panic about why it hasn’t had its top up. This is why we recommend reducing the strength before the frequency.
While we’re still on Citalopram, we know that it detoxes mostly through the liver, but partly through the kidneys, so both of these organs need to be assessed for susceptibilities and most likely supported.
Together, we come up with a clear plan to follow: organ support in various forms; nutritional replenishment and a slow and steady removal of the drugs from your system.
Effectively, you need the right stuff in your body to discharge the bad stuff. This is needed at a cellular level with water at heart of it all, hydrating and cleansing every cell in your body. Putting these minerals and vitamins back into your body is essential for the mechanical functions of your body. So we look for the deficiencies and aim to reintroduce these back into the body. We make sure what you are taking will work with you rather than against you.
Honestly, it’s slow and you won’t feel much different for a few months while the dose is reduced by your GP. But it’s gentle and at the end you will be drug free and altogether healthier for it. Some people take 5 months, some people take 2 years. You don’t need to see me regularly in that time, but I am here if you need me.
When unsupressing the action of drugs on the body, we dig up some old feelings at the same time. There will be a reason why you started on antidepressants in the first place and it’s important that these feelings a properly supported through the process.
Everyone’s reason for starting anti-depressants is different and the beauty of this treatment is that it is an individual as you are: tailored to account for how you got to this place in the first instance.
Coming off any kind of medication requires some adjustment. If you think this option might be for you then I offer 15 minute no obligation chats to discuss what your personal treatment plan might look like.
The BBC keeps telling me we do. Is it a taboo? I don’t think so. I think we do talk about it, but I don’t always agree with the solutions presented. I am prompted to write after listening to this piece on Radio 4. Don’t bother with the start, just skip to the end when Dr Susan Bewley says that most “pioneering” ideas about holding off the menopause or replenishing egg stores have been mostly devised by male scientists. Ignore the non-substantiated claims in the middle that the risks of HRT outweigh by the benefits (By whom? For whom? Everyone?) Just because the beeb is the beeb is doesn’t mean we should believe their blanket statements without question.
The good bit is where Dr Bewley frames the menopause in a more positive light saying that the menopause spares us the damage of conceiving when our body is not as ready as if used to be, freeing space for the next generation, and for grand parenting. I say it is more than this.
But do we need to talk about it more, or just consider it more? For women, hormonal health affects us through all our life, not just in the unattractively named “climactic period” but our lives get so busy sometime that we stop noticing our ebb and flow.
I see lots of people raising awareness, I don’t think that’s a problem. Here’s a lovely post by a champion of Women’s Health, Kate Codrington: the Truth About Menopause. I couldn’t have put it better myself when she says this:
Menopause is a natural time of transition, a time of shedding masks and the compliance of childbearing years to finally live your purpose. A time to examine who you are, what you have done and who you want to be next. No wonder we get stroppy; there’s a lot to be stroppy about!
So people are talking, but I can’t help thinking that there should be some kind of introspective process at the same time? It’s OK to acknowledge that this is what is going on for you, but perhaps you would rather keep some of the ensuing emotions to yourself? Perhaps what needs curing will come from some kind of inner healing?
The Endocrine system (your hormonal system) includes more of your body than you may think: your hypothalamus, pituitary gland and pineal gland in your brain, your thyroid and parathyroid, your heart, stomach, intestines, pancreas, adrenals, kidneys, fat cells AND your reproductive organs. So we’re not just talking about fertility or even just about women, hormones encompass things like sleep, digestion, nutrition as well. This is a much bigger picture.
It’s a feedback system so to keep you in homeostasis (balance) constant messages are sent around the body and constant updates are required. In fact some of the symptoms associated with the onset of the menopause are in fact the pituitary gland trying to restart ovulation but getting the wrong feedback. Natural hormones work a bit like the right key for the right lock. Modern medicine for hormones involves suppression, which send this feedback system into confusion: the key looks the same, seems to work but doesn’t do the whole job. So by interfering with the natural feedback, medicating your hormones becomes like a game of whack a mole: bash one symptom down and another will appear.
Imagine a group of women are sitting in a room discussing their experience of the menopause. Superficially their symptoms are similar. They take comfort in that (and comfort is healing and good). But the truth is that they are all experiencing a powerful shift in their own individual way.
The Holistic view considers the whole picture. It considers a transition no different to that of menarche (first period) or into fertility and motherhood. But the sum that makes up the part of our imbalance is entirely unique to us and our response should be individual to us too. The following things might be considered:
Change. Are you good at change in general? It can be very unsettling at the best of times but very personal when it’s your body. Is there something in particular about this change which is more distressing than other elements?
Children. Whether you have them or not, the emotions associated with your childbearing years carry huge associations for us all.
Resources. Do you have enough petrol in your tank? Are you in energy or nutritional deficit?
Minerals. Again, how are your stores? On a cellular level we need our minerals to be in balance for any systemic change.
Elimination. Women’s periods are the third line of elimination, after urine and bowels, but when we don’t bleed anymore does our eliminative process still hold up? If our bowels don’t move so well or we don’t drink enough, the act of no longer bleeding can be like a road block.
Sleep. Do you have enough restorative sleep? Probably not. We rarely do!
This in combination, but by no means exclusively, all contribute to your unique components. There’s no one solution to balancing, but awareness is the place to start.
Thinking about symptoms being “side effects” gives them permission to be there, thinking of them as “messages” give us opportunity to respond.
Somewhere through time, we have lost the ability to listen to our bodies, perhaps because of modern medicine providing a “pill for all ills” and consequently masking the messages. Our bodies have not changed: we still bleed the same way; we still birth the same way; we still transition the same way.
So what to do? You don’t need to see any kind of practitioner to tune in. Consider the list above, keep a brief journal of observations, get some clarity then decide what to do next.
Can I help? Of course I am always happy to help. I offer 15 minute telephone conversations free of charge to see how we might work together. My tools are varied, but the commonality is that I treat the Endocrine system as a whole in whatever life stage you find yourself.
Homeopathy: find the feelings at the heart of the imbalance and gently dissipate them.
Iridology: find any hormone imbalance, organ strength, or functional deficiencies
Detox: any synthetic hormone or drug that might be acting as a block
Nutrition and Herbs: replenish and rebalance
So do let me know if you think we can work together to make your Menopause Marvellous… or at the very least a positive transformational experience.
Whatever you do beware the NICE guidelines due out at the end of the year on the management of the menopause, avoid the over medicalisation, acknowledge the lack of woman-ness and the attempt to “cure us of being human” (Bewley again – she’s on to something!).
All my recommendations are individual to you and free of any affiliate bias.
So today the NHS announced that they are piloting the idea of a £3000 birth budget you can read the article (here).
And it got me thinking: a while ago I wrote an article for the local NCT magazine about the cost of alternative therapy through pregnancy. I calculated that I had personally spent around £1000 on massage, natal hypnotherapy, yoga and McTimoney Chiropractic and that, looking at the cost differential between a forceps delivery and a c section, it just happened to be the same amount. I argued that, having “invested in my pregnancy” I had saved them that money and I wondered if they would reimburse me some of it. I never asked, but what if you could…?
Anyway, £3000 to custom-make your own pregnancy sounds ideal, doesn’t it? Apparently you could pay for a home-birth, a birth pool, hypnotherapy or extra breastfeeding support? Some women need more attention than others so how does this net out? Does this include access to the thousands of alternative practitioners (like me) who could make a difference to the experience?
A word on the breastfeeding support though, according to this inflammatory article which hit the media a few weeks ago, the UK has the worst rate of breastfeeding in the world with 80% of women intending to try and 0.5% still breastfeeding after one year. In my eyes, breastfeeding is a grossly –underfunded area of postnatal care and should be offered as a matter of course for as long as help is needed.
My second pregnancy was fine up until 38 weeks. I probably would have spent my budget on “nice to haves” like yoga and hypnotherapy rather than anything medical (the lines are not clear about what is included) but at 38 week my body started to produce too much amniotic fluid. The midwives measured my bump and I had gone up 4cm in 1 week which is way too much. Without the routine appointment, I am not sure I would have noticed, so I grateful that these are not optional. I was admitted to hospital at 40 weeks exactly, my waters broken artificially and I delivered my son without any further intervention three hours later. I am 100% happy with my birth as a result of a highly skilled consultant and a little bit of uncomfortable fiddling.
But what if I had spent my budget before then? Any then I needed intervention at the last minute. What if I wanted a home birth, was docked the money accordingly and then ended it up in hospital? What if I had a completely hassle-free birth and my best friend struggled through her whole pregnancy with a complicated medical condition which required attention in excess of £3000? Could I give her something from my pot? All the questions that we need to understand.
It’s a bit flawed (and we Brits love a good argument to pick holes in) but I still think it’s a genius idea. It’s empowering. It gives us choices and it puts the control very firmly back in the hands of the pregnant mother to be. We have lost so much of our choice in a factory process where we tick the boxes and are expected to conform to a pregnancy “norm”. We suffer from not quite having enough time and attention from the NHS and I believe post-natal depression is on the rise as a result. Midwives are some of the loveliest people on earth but they are stretched and stressed and sometimes we need more than they can give.
We have lost so much of our choice in a factory process where we tick the boxes and are expected to conform to a pregnancy “norm”
Empowerment in pregnancy helps us make better decisions: we eat better; we drink more because we know it helps and we don’t expect to be able to take a pill to make symptoms disappear. Many women come to homeopathy in pregnancy because it is a safe alternative to many over the counter medication which is now forbidden. In alternative medicine they find the ownership. How amazing would it be if they could find that in the mainstream too, instead of being told what to do?
Let’s see what transpires. But whatever it is, anything that makes it MY pregnancy not THEIRS is already going in the right direction.
This year I am taking a special interest in Post Natal Depletion. That is, the idea that, having had a baby, your resources are low and, however hard your try, you do not seem to fully recover.
In my patients, I have seen a number of reasons why this might be the case. Many are emotional and
may well be associated with a difficult birth or unexplainable feelings that you experience as a new Mum. This can include Post Natal Depression, but is not exclusively this. I have found that every mother has down days and has a right to call them whatever she pleases.
Some causes are also physical. It could be that a nutritional depletion is stopping your body from functioning at full capacity. It could be a hormonal imbalance that needs gentle bringing back into line. Often, the tolls of working while growing a tiny human leave us knackered before the baby even arrives and we give the best of ourselves to the children first, leaving us a little empty in our reserve tanks.
Perhaps you can’t shake a cold. Perhaps you can’t sleep even when the baby is sleeping. Perhaps you have feelings that you don’t really want to say aloud to your family and peers. I am here to help.
My tools are varied and I draw from my training in all kinds of alternative and energy therapies. I use Naturopathic Iridology to asses nutrition and body function. I prescribe homeopathy, flower essences (think Rescue Remedy), supplements, food and re hydration! There is an individual treatment plan for everyone who sees me which is gentle and responsive to your healing needs.
I wrote this a while ago while I was sitting with my son who was sleeping off a fever. I thought it might be interesting to see my thought process around treating an acute illness was and how I made my remedy selection. This was the first day of what turned out to be a three day illness with fever and coughing. After he was well again, I treated him more broadly for some of the fears he expressed when he was poorly. This is an individual prescription specific to his personality and usually prescribed after a homeopathic consultation so I have left that bit out.
Have a read and leave a comment if you have any questions.
My little one is poorly.
He’s nearly four and he’s usually a bundle of energy. Yesterday he was playing loudly and happy and this morning he woke up distressed because his face was covered in snot! Goodness knows what he has been doing in the night!
Anyway, PULSATILLA is a remedy that likes to discharge in the morning (try taking it at bedtime to unblock a stuffed up nose) and he was quite weepy – PULSATILLA is a classic remedy for children who aren’t coping very well with feeling unwell.
So I gave it in a 200c, which I was always taught is the “do it now” potency. I have found this to be true in my own practice too.
About half an hour later my husband said our son was a bit hot. His cheeks were red, he didn’t like to be touched and did not want to get out of bed, his eyes were a bit glassy, so I gave BELLADONNA, again in 200c. This does not lower the temperature, but it does support the body to fight the virus and may shorten the length of time that the temperature is high.
Skip forward an hour and he’s agreed to get out of bed. He’s had some water and is bossing me about asking for the “poorly blanket” and the TV on. He’s a bit raspy, from the phlegm and has a bit of a barking cough. He’s thirsty, and he’s putting his water bottle to his temple and saying it feels nice.
I find it hard to be objective with my own children. Despite being being a qualified homeopath and well equipped for any illness. I thought that feeling would go with more knowledge but now I think it’s impossible to take your Mum hat off.
So I go back to my training and do it by the book. With a decent book like Miranda Castro’s Homeopathy Handbook you can do this too and here’s how.
I identify the symptoms as a whole which are:
Fever (feeling hot not chilly)
Better for cold things (water, ice etc)
The top remedies are ACONITE, DROSERA and SPONGIA. I have all of these at home. I have a quick read of their picture and decide that DROSERA is chilly so I rule it out. ACONITE has a sudden onset but SPONGIA is worse after sleep. There both quite anxious pictures (now I think of it my son keeps asking if it’s because he didn’t wash his hands at nursery- bless him!) ACONITE has dry eyes, SPONGIA has watery eyes so I am going to go with that one.
(NB SPONGIA and DROSERA are not in the Basic Helios Kit, DROSERA is in the Ainsworths Kit. If you just had ACONITE you could see how you got on with that, or stick to PULSATILLA and BELLADONNA).
So I gave him the PULSATILLA and BELLADONNA because I could see they would help, when he was settled I looked for the best remedy to suit his picture. I have all sorts of potencies, but I am going to choose 30c and give it twice and see what happened. (If you only had 200c that would be fine).
What I notice is that he thinks it’s something he has done wrong. He asks about hand washing and eating sugar. The idea that it’s somehow his fault is an interesting SRP* and something I am going to park for the next time I take him to a homeopath. As well as the observation that he’s moving through the remedies quite quickly. For now, my goal is to get him well enough for school photos tomorrow.
I practice homeopathy around the hours that my children are at school. It was a deliberate career strategy for me. But I can’t help but think about the patients I had to reschedule this morning to be at home. I know I must put this aside. My impatience to get him well again, or my irritation at the change in my schedule is not as important as stopping everything and sitting on the sofa with my son and the poorly blanket. I should probably take a remedy for that myself….
Don’t forget, there’s a skill to picking the right remedy but it comes with practice. You can’t go wrong: the “wrong” remedy won’t work, but if you can find a remedy that not 100& right, it might remove a symptom and make the next remedy more obvious. Give it a go. Trust your mothering instinct about the well being of your child.
From 7am to midnight you can use the homeopathy helpline for support. Calls are £1.58 per minute (you’re not on very long) and it helps if you have a first aid kit or you will need to order the remedies. You can also call the pharmacies within working hours.
*SPR means strange rare and peculiar and is homeopathy speak for something unusual that might contribute to the patient’s imbalance.
In the history of birthing it’s the men who joined the party last. Up until the 1970s their place was well away from the birth, possibly pacing up and down in the hallway listening for a cry?
It was the NCT who campaigned for the man to be in the room. And these days, I find myself wondering whether this change in circumstance was actually a good thing or not.
I remember it being an assumption when it was my time, that the father of the baby would be the birth partner regardless of whether they were the best person for the job. I watched useless men on “One Born Every Minute” (it’s not birthing it’s entertainment, remember) and rolled my eyes. Then suddenly it dawned on me: it takes a braver man to opt out of being in the room.
It’s seen as a sign of weakness, a sign that you’re not up for being a Dad.
How many women complain that their partners haven’t read a single thing going into labour? Or drag them unwillingly to antenatal classes? Antenatal classes do an excellent job in my experience of involving them and catering to what they might need, but you can bring a horse to water and all that.
Some men come out of labour in a complete shock. And it’s not always from being unprepared. Labour is a one way street with an inevitable outcome and sometimes things can go wrong along the way. Intervention can be swift, emergency c sections are done under a general anesthetic and the birth partner left in the labour room with the hospital bag exploded all over the room, waiting for news of his wife and new baby.
There’s new research out from last year that suggests that many men are left bereft by birth. The expectations from them to step up and take care of the family are huge. But they’ve probably spent a night in labour without the hormones to adjust to the sleeplessness. Deep sleep helps our brains process trauma and, with a newborn in the house, this can be a bit lacking. Before they know it, they have to return to work after the briefest of time adjusting to fatherhood.
One of the main themes of unease was men feeling ‘stripped of my role: powerless and helpless
I am absolutely not saying that a man’s role is greater than a woman’s in labour, but he does deserve some space to process it. One of the main themes of unease was men feeling ‘stripped of my role: powerless and helpless’, which can resonate deeply, especially where there were already insecurities.
Getting men to visit my clinic is like pulling teeth. It does happen, although I won’t take bookings from wives! They come and sit, arms folded. If they do manage to get through the door, I gradually see an unfolding of the arms and a re-balancing of the emotions. Details of how I work can be found here.