Our Pregnancy Reading List

Our top 5 pregnancy reads before bub’s arrival…

So many books, so little time! So here’s our top 5 pregnancy reads before bubs arrival.

1. For great weekly pics and blurbs about baby’s development, our pic is an oldie but a goodie (be prepared for some serious 80s bush!)…Lennart Neilson’s ‘A child is born’. Originally published in 1965 it’s old, but the pics are fab!

2. A go-to reference for the early development in the early days of parenting. Dr. Howard Chilton provides information, that is evidence based. Simplistic and reassuring. A must-read!

3. Written by a woman known as ‘the mother of midwifery’, Ina May Gaskin shares her knowledge of natural birth. This isn’t a “hippy dippy, garden dancing” read. Spiritual Midwifery regales you with real birth stories that we can all learn from. Ina May shares techniques to get you through labour and birth, as well as understanding the mechanics of labour. Fabulous to get you confident about birth and ready to meet your bub!

4. Originally written in 1959, Childbirth without fear isn’t to be feared (unlike the front cover – not one for the bus!) Written by an old-school obstetrician, the wording can be technical at times (I just skipped over these parts!), but the information surrounding fear  is fundamental. He explains the impact fear can play on the outcome of your labour and the importance of having the right people around you. It’s well worth having a squiz.

5.Written by a registered nurse / midwife / early childhood nurse with over 30 years, Baby Love, is a go-to. Simplistic, realistic and a great reference to have on the shelf –  for everything from sleeping and crying to nutritious recipes. Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 4.49.12 pm


Dear Birth Support Person…

Dear support person – you have a fabulously important role to play!

I read an article this week on The Sydney Morning Herald‘s parenting offshoot website, Essential Baby. It was written by a Dad, for Dads, about their role in birth and how best to support their partner (see article here).

Mucous plugs, wedding ring indentation marks and encouraging mantras aside, the crux of the article, was about the importance of silent support and the safety of having a loved one by your side.

So we’re going to share with you a few birth tips as well, but firstly, a quick breakdown, hormonally of what’s happening in labour and birth.

Two hormones play a massive part in labour and birth, these being Oxytocin and Adrenaline. Oxytocin, otherwise known as the ‘love hormone’, is released in moments of bonding; hugging, kissing, breastfeeding, sex….and is also what brings on contractions, helping to dilate the cervix, move bub down the birth canal, as well as deliver the placenta.

Adrenaline on the other hand, is our ‘fight or flight hormone’, that mammals produce primally for survival. Fear produces adrenaline. And unfortunately, adrenaline inhibits oxytocin which can make labour slower, more painful, or panic the woman (and let’s face it, the partner)…potentially leading to intervention or increased pain relief?

So naturally, if you think about when Oxytocin is released, it’s at moments of intimacy; when you’re in a safe and private environment. So why would birth be any different? It’s not!  Enter dear support person – you have a fabulously important role to play!

A few tips:

  • Try to keep the room quiet (not the woman,though; trying to control her would be like trying to stop a steamroller in its tracks…not good, not good). But being mindful of phones…people coming in and out of the room and the volume of your voice (I’m particularly mindful of this, considering my boom-box voice, especially when I’m excited or stressed).
  • Keep the room dark – particularly for labour. As a woman’s cervix dilates, her pupils dilate, making her more light sensitive.
  • Touch her…not in a creepy, handsy way. You’re both in a foreign environment and and not having babies every day of the week, so it can be a bit unsettling to see her in pain, and frightening for both of you.
    Holding her hand, giving her a kiss (this is a great one – oxytocin booster, intimate, makes her feel safe, reduces adrenaline, and is a way to show her support), and massage are all ways in which to let her know you’re there.
  • When a woman is ‘transitioning’ into second stage of labour, the massages that she’s been loving…the baths that’ve been helping…the pregnancy ball rocking….the topic of conversation…the words of encouragement…ALL OF A SUDDEN, SHE MAY HATE!  When this occurs, don’t be upset or worried, see this as a sign of progress and that bub might not be too far off. Just being next to her, so when she opens her eyes she sees you there, can be all she needs in that moment in time.
  • Be her advocate. Know what pain relief she wants. If she has said 3,000,000 times in pregnancy that she doesn’t want an epidural, and someone keeps banging on about it and offering it to her, be her advocate.
    On the other hand, knowledge is key. I truly believe the best birth plan is no birth plan, but an informed pregnancy. If you both know the ladder of pain relief (blog post on this is on it’s way) then you’re able to take labour and birth as it comes, starting with non-pharmacological relief and slowly working your way up to the big guns.
  • Last but not least, know your limits. If you’re one of those people that are a bit queasy, hate needles or aren’t crash hot with blood, tell the midwife or obstetrician. Be proactive and have a chair (up the top end of the bed) ready, and sit down and support if you you start feeling giddy. No one needs you in E.D!

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(All photos published in this blog article, were taken by the talented Lindsey Kliewer)


Do We Need Midwives? By Michel Odent (2015)

The importance of privacy in labour

Birth and Breastfeeding By Michel Odent (2003)

We must put the sex back into birth – Ted Talk, By Kate Dimpfl

Fertility 411

Here are the ‘Top 5 Fertility Factors’…

There are many fertility myths flying around as fact out there! When it comes down to it though, every woman is different and will find certain things work better for her and her partner than others. But so this article isn’t a total cop out; we’ve done some research on the “Top 5 Fertility Factors” according to The Fertility Site of Australia YourFertility and medical journals (references below)..

1. Age

There isn’t a nice way to put it, the older you are…statistically, the trickier it makes things. This is considered the single most important factor in conception.

Conceiving naturally (without the help of say, IVF) statistics say:

  • From age 32, the odds of conceiving naturally begin to decrease gradually (but significantly).
  • From age 35, natural conception decline speeds up
  • By age 40, fertility has been reduced by half (at 30, the chance of conceiving each month is approximately 20%. At 40 it’s approximately 5%)

Not to make it all about the female biological clock…and you do hear time and time again, “oh he can have kids whenever, women have the biological clock…”… it may seem that men do to. Research has found that:

  • The average time to pregnancy for men 25 and under is a little over 4.5 months. Men at 40 it’s around 2 years (if the woman is under 25).
  • For men over 45 years, there’s a five-fold increase in time to pregnancy.
  • For couples travelling down the IVF route, if the male partner is 41 or over, then your chance of not falling pregnant is 5 times higher than men younger than them.
  • The volume of a man’s semen and their motility- their ability to move towards the egg, decreases continually between the ages of 20 and 80.
  • Miscarriage is twice as high for women that are with partners over 45 (and they themselves are under 25).

2. Weight

Parents to be, both sides of the parenting partnership, to better your odds at fertility, you should be within a healthy weight range.

Diet and exercise, not only for personal health gain, but in shaping healthy lifestyle habits to share with your to-be-bubs is worth taking incredibly seriously! Check out the following links to help you assess where you sit health wise, and access to some good tips re food choices.

Conversely, being underweight makes falling pregnant tricky too!

Check out your BMI here:  Better Health Channel

3. Smoking

We all know smoking is bad, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s not crash hot for fertility, either! Smokers may be at twice the risk of infertility than non-smokers and are 1.5 times more likely to take more than a year to conceive. Partners that smoke may also contribute to infertility.

Something I hadn’t considered was passive smoking and the effect is has on fertility. Research shows that actively smoking is only marginally worse than passive smoking, when it comes to fertility. Female passive smokers are more likely to take over a year to fall pregnant than women from non-smoking houses.

QuitPacks are fabulous, and midwives are trained in helping mama’s and their family members make short term and long term goals to either cut back, or kick the habit altogether!

Keep in mind, smoking does affect your baby, in more ways than one. See here for more information.

4. Alcohol

In a nutshell, heavy drinking will reduce your chances of falling pregnant. Of course, once pregnant, because we are unable to gauge a safe amount of alcohol, to reduce chances of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, it is recommended that women do not drink throughout pregnancy. Please speak further to your midwife or obstetrician if you have further questions regarding alcohol in pregnancy.

Need help to reduce or stop drinking? Visit the Australian Drug Information Network for a list of national and state services in Australia.

Unsure what’s classified as “a standard drink”? Visit DrinkWise Australia.

5. Timing

Rather than trying to reword this, I’m doing the sneaky, and borrowing all words from ‘The Women’s guide to Fertility and Timing’, from YourFertility. See below:

Pregnancy is technically only possible during the five days before ovulation through to the day of ovulation. These six days are the ‘fertile window’ in a woman’s cycle, and reflect the lifespan of sperm (5 days) and the lifespan of the ovum (24 hours).

If a woman has sex six or more days before she ovulates, the chance she will get pregnant is virtually zero. If she has sex five days before she ovulates, her probability of pregnancy is about 10%. The probability of pregnancy rises steadily until the two days before and including the day of ovulation.

At the end of the ‘fertile window’, the probability of pregnancy declines rapidly and by 12-24 hours after she ovulates, a woman is no longer able to get pregnant during that cycle.

For those women who are not aware of their ‘fertile window’ or when they ovulate, sexual intercourse is recommended every 2 to 3 days to help optimise their chance of conceiving.


***A couple of extra things – I get asked a stack of questions about certain foods, in particular Soy. There seems to be conflicting conclusions drawn on the relationship between soy and infertility in studies found online. I personally have an opinion, however want some cold hard evidence to back it up. I’m in and out of hospitals this week, so I will keep you posted after some discussions with colleagues.

imageImage: static.businessinsider.com

Resources and Fact Sheets:



The role of exercise in improving fertility, quality of life and emotional well-being

– The role of complementary therapies and medicines to improve fertility and emotional well-being

Effects of caffeine, alcohol and smoking on fertility

Pre-conception checklist for women

Five Factors of Fertility

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