The Latest Birth Fashions

jeans pic

Jeans – that one item of clothing that almost everyone owns. Yes they’ve stood the test of time and they never seem to go out of fashion. There are different styles and ways of wearing your jeans; this season it’s out with the skinny fit and in with the loose fit complete with turn ups for a more casual vibe. Versatile, hard wearing and comfy, what’s not to love about jeans?

So what’s all this got to do with birth? Well believe it or not although babies are all born pretty much the same way, there are fashions and trends that emerge from time to time that shape the experience of pregnancy and birth for mums and their babies.

Here’s just a few of the latest birth fashions, will they grow in popularity or fall by the wayside? Only time will tell…!

Umbilical cord ties

This is a relatively new trend – some women are wanting their baby’s umbilical cord to be tied following the birth with a cord tie rather than the usual plastic clamp. A quick internet search will bring up several companies selling these cord ties with different styles to choose from. Check out this letter style design, what a great idea for identical twins – a different letter or colour helps tell them apart!

Screenshot_20160507-201923_1            Screenshot_20160507-202021_1      plastic clamp

Women that have used these cord ties say they feel more confident changing nappies without having the clamp to deal with. They also feel that skin to skin cuddles are more comfortable for them and their babies without the cord clamp getting in the way.

Birth Photography

Thanks to the smart phone there seems to be more photos being taken of women during labour and birth these days, but some couples are choosing to take it to the next level and are hiring a birth photographer to capture amazing emotional scenes such as these –

birth photo    birth photography


Yes of course hypnobirthing gets a mention! Back in 2009 when bumps ‘n’ babies came to be not many people had heard of hypnobirthing and midwives were baffled by the concept of women using self hypnosis for labour. In the last two years there’s been a hypnobirthing boom with more and more women raving about the benefits. Midwives are on board with it too. If a hypnobirthing mum arrives on labour ward smiling, reporting ‘just a bit of pressure in her bottom’ then its gloves at the ready – she might just be about to give birth! It’s true that some hypnobirthing mums can seem too calm to be in full blown labour, they surprise us by breathing out a 9lb baby with seemingly little effort, their calm demeanour can fool even the most experienced of midwives!!

Placental encapsulation

placenta encapsulation

Women eating their placenta following the birth is not exactly a new fad but placenta encapsulation is. With placenta encapsulation the placenta is steamed, dehydrated, ground and placed into pills for women to ingest post birth. This trend has recently grown in popularity thanks to the number of celebrities opting to do this, the latest being Coleen Rooney! It’s believed that these ‘magic pills’ can reduce post birth bleeding, ward off postnatal depression, improve the appearance of skin/hair/nails, and encourage a healthy milk supply. However there is little scientific research to prove these health benefits. Women choosing to have their placenta encapsulated are strongly advised to contact a trained specialist such as those registered with IPEN.

Vaginal seeding


Some mums giving birth by caesarean section are choosing to smear their newborns mouth, face and body with a swab soaked in their vaginal secretions, a trend known as ‘vaginal seeding’. It’s all about the microbiome! There is evidence to suggest that babies born by caesarean section appear to be at increased risk of illnesses such as asthma, allergies and food intolerances in later life compared to babies born vaginally and it’s believed that the lack of exposure to the bacteria present in the mother’s vagina at birth may have a pivotal role to play.

How it works – a sterile gauze is folded into a fan, moistened with sterile water, then inserted into the vagina and left to ‘colonise’ for one hour. The gauze is then removed and put into a sealed bag until birth when the swab can be wiped over the baby’s face and body to mimic the passage through the birth canal.

Although scientists are understanding more about the impact that the microbiome plays in human health, there is currently no scientific evidence to prove that vaginal seeding at birth is effective and mums should be aware that some bacteria in the vagina can occasionally cause illness in newborns.  We’ll be hearing the word microbiome more in the future, it’s a case of watch this space….!

Natural caesarean

natural c section

A natural caesarean is similar to the ‘bog standard’ caesarean section but with a slight twist. The ‘twist’ involves a slower, more natural delivery of the baby through the abdomen. How it works – An incision is made to the mother’s abdomen for the doctors to ease the baby’s head out, the screen is then dropped to allow the parents to watch as their baby wriggles its way into the world. The baby can remain in the womb for up to 4 minutes after the head is born, it is then guided onto the mother’s chest for immediate skin to skin contact with the cord still intact to allow optimal cord clamping. Mother’s are able to feel more involved during this special moment of ‘giving birth’ and trials are currently under way to determine whether a natural caesarean would benefit mums and newborns compared to the standard procedure. Read this mum’s story of her natural cesarean.

When it comes to giving birth it’s not one size fits all. As with clothing fashions what appeals to one person might not be to another person’s taste, so it’s great that women have choices. It’s crucial that women are involved in making decisions about how they bring their babies into the world to shape their birth experience by the use of research findings and what’s right for them.

Sharon x

A Trip Down Midwifery Memory Lane

call the midwifeSo after a crazy few hours on labour ward one night, suddenly all became calm. A chance for us midwives to recharge our batteries before the pregnant women of Bristol began contracting again. We all headed to the staff room to grab a cup of tea, eat cake and catch up on the gossip. The team that night consisted of a few fresh faced student midwives and a few ‘golden oldies’- those midwives counting down the shifts to their retirement. And so the conversation began….
Oh remember when…..? My ears pricked up. I love the remember when conversations, listening to the golden oldies telling us how things used to be in the world of midwifery, like watching an episode of call the midwife.
‘Oh remember when we used to give all women a pubic shave and an enema in labour. Yes without fail even if the head was visable and baby was on its way, she still had to have a pubic shave or sister would go mad if she didn’t!!’
‘Oh remember when it was unusual for the woman to have her husband with her in labour, and there was no such thing as a birth plan in those days’.
And so the conversation continued….
Now I’ve only been in the game for 13 years, I am by no means a golden oldie (yet!) but even I can join in these conversations now with my own remember when moments and this got me thinking how routine practice and procedures can change or disappear almost overnight, just like fashion, an end of an era. So here are my top 3 remember when midwifery moments…..

Number 1. Remember when we used to suction out the baby’s nose and mouth before it was even born!

The baby’s head would be out, but the baby still not yet fully born. Everyone in the room would be waiting in suspense for the baby to arrive with the next contraction. Now at this moment, if the amniotic fluid was green because the baby had opened its bowels in the womb, we would poke a thin plastic tube up the baby’s nose and in its mouth to hoover out the green stuff. We did this to try and avoid the baby inhaling it once born which could cause breathing difficulties. However this hoovering method wasn’t very effective and achieved very little. It may even have done more harm than good as it stimulated the baby, encouraged him to breathe too soon, so he could potentially inhale the green stuff anyway, thereby defeating the whole object. So this no longer happens. Now we assess the baby once it’s born and decide then whether suction would benefit the baby or not.

Number 2. Remember the payphone on wheels?

This was before everyman and his dog owned a mobile phone. If a woman on bed rest asked to make a call we would drag in the heavy payphone on wheels and plug it into the wall for her to make the call. The payphone on wheels has long gone, nowadays the women are tweeting, texting and updating facebook on their smart phones whilst in the throes of labour! I kid you not! Modern technology in the birth room, a good thing or not?? Lets save that question for another post!

Number 3. Remember when we used to ‘feel for the cord’!

I remember this from my days as a student midwife. The baby’s head would be out, and again that ‘weird moment’ – everyone waiting for the next contraction for the baby to be born. My midwife mentor would bellow at me ‘feel for cord! Is there cord around that baby’s neck, does it need to be cut?’ With direction from my mentor I would fiddle around the woman’s rather sensitive nether regions searching for cord. The woman and partner would both look at me with terror in their eyes waiting to hear if their baby had been strangled by its own cord. Then came the dreaded moment of me telling my mentor that ‘yes I can feel cord around the neck’. Back then some midwives would have told me to clamp and cut the cord to ‘free the baby’ before the next contraction. Thankfully I’ve never had to do it, I’ve seen other midwives do it, but it happens very rarely these days because we know so many babies are born with cord around their necks and it doesn’t usually cause a problem. I looked after a woman who birthed her first baby naturally without any drama and was suprised as I unravelled 4 loops of cord from around its neck! That baby didn’t seem at all bothered during labour that it was wearing its cord like a scarf.
So now we avoid ‘feeling for the cord’ and there is a move towards delayed cord clamping which is becoming more common practice. Rather than cutting the cord as soon as the baby is born, we are more likely to wait a while, until the cord stops pulsating before we cut it because research suggests there are health benefits for the baby.

All this got me thinking about the future of midwifery. What’s the ‘in thing’ at the moment? What might change? Maybe in years to come I’ll be sat in the staff room, older and wiser with a few more grey hairs and I’ll be saying….
‘Oh remember when we used to cut the baby’s cord as soon as it was born?’
Maybe in the future we won’t cut the cord at all? Maybe the postnatal wards will be full of baby’s in their cots snuggled up to their placentas waiting for their cords and placentas to detach naturally (AKA a lotus birth)?? Only joking!! The golden oldies would be shuddering at the thought I’m sure!

I’ll sign off with this fab quote by Maya Angelou ‘Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better’.

Sharon x