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What you don’t know … your cervix


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What You Don’t Know About Your Cervix Can Ruin Your Birth


How enviously I watched the rose bush bear her bud  ~

Such an easy, Lovely birth.

And at that moment I wished the sweet myth were true  ~

That I could pluck you, my child, from some green vine

But now as you breathe, through flesh that was mine

Gently in the small circle of my arms, I see the wisdom of investment

The easy gift is easy to forget.

But what is bought with coin of pain ~

Is dearly kept

~ Carol Lynn Pearson, Reprinted from Beginnings

What!?  Where?

Most women have no clue what their cervix is, where it is, its function or even what it looks like.  Well, here’s where it is:

And it looks like this (much like the head of a penis):

The first time I learned about basic reproductive anatomy, I was pregnant with my first child, and the only thing I really learned about the cervix is that it was at the bottom of my uterus (liking my cervix to the opening of a balloon and my uterus was the balloon part waiting to expand), and was supposed to dilate to from 0 to 10 during labor.

It was also supposed to thin out (efface) and go from what is like the tip of my nose to the web of skin between my index finger and thumb…melt away kind of like a lifesaver.  And that my cervix might need to be checked during labor to asses its progress.

But that was it.  It wasn’t until I was well into being a childbirth educator and a doula that I found out some other things about the cervix.  Things that would change how I forever approach supporting women in labor and birth.

Cervix Myth #1: 10 is the Magic Number

No, it is not.  Did you know that you can dilate past 10 cm? What?!  Now what are we all supposed to do?  That sounds horrific!  It IS horrific, right?

Not really.  Not any more so than dilating to 10 is.  I dilated well beyond 10 cm with my last birth, where my baby’s head measured at a whooping 14.75 inches.  That’s right, that’s 38 cm (circumference) of head coming through me, which means I would have had to have dilated to 11+ cm (diameter).  And guess what, I lived.  And guess what, too….it didn’t hurt any more than my other births where I dilated just to a 10.  So, just because you are 10 cm doesn’t necessarily mean you are ready to push.

If you do not feel the urge to push at 10 cm and are instructed to do so, you will force the cervix open “against its will” and bruise the cervix.  And if you have an epidural and don’t feel the urge, you are at even higher risk of injuring yourself.

Cervix Myth #2: Your Cervix Dilates in a Nice, Neat Circle

Your cervix does not dilate in a nice, neat circle like all the dilation model depict.  It actually opens like an ellipse as depicted here

Source: MidwifeThinking.com

“It opens from the back to the front like an ellipse. The os (opening) is found tucked at the back of the vagina in early labour and opens forward. At some point in labour almost every woman will have an anterior lip (meaning the top of the cervix isn’t completely dilated) because this is the last part of the cervix to be pulled up over the baby’s head. Whether this lip is detected depends on whether/when a vaginal examination is performed. A posterior lip is almost unheard of because this part of the cervix disappears first. Or rather it becomes difficult to reach with fingers first.”

Cervix Myth #3: Vaginal Exams Do Not Harm the Cervix and/or Hinder Dilation

Midwife Carla Hartley at Ancient Art Midwifery puts it this way:

“The cervix is not meant to be touched, there is an inflammation response from the foreign material (glove) as well as the pressure, and a hormonal response. It may be confusing to the body that while it is trying to empty the uterus there is interference from the cervix being touched and manipulated in a way that it is not meant to have to deal with. VAGINAL EXAMS ARE NOT PHYSIOLOGICAL AND ARE AN INTERRUPTION TO THE NATURAL PROCESS OF BIRTH.

Here is the thing about pushing….DON’T….your body knows how to eject a baby without your help….it is a reflex. Don’t even expect an urge…..expect a sensation of your body taking over in a big way, getting that baby out…..as it is DESIGNED to do…

I talk a lot about digital and verbal abuse in labor and vaginal exams are an example of digital abuse.

Midwives [and OB’s and nurses] who think vaginal exams are a good thing or necessary do not have sufficient education or they have not kept up with emerging science that proves that birth is safer if left alone. Hanzoffa, hanzoutta, mouthshutta midwifery is the safest.”

Cervix Myth #4: Your Cervix is Different and Isolated From All Other Body Parts

Ina May Gaskin, the mother of modern midwifery, has coined a term called “The Sphincter Law”.  The Sphincter Law states:

Your sphincters (including your excretory, cervical and vaginal) are responsible for releasing your baby into this world.  If your sphincters are tight you may not progress, and you will probably experience more pain.

So what exactly is Ina May’s “Sphincter Law”?

1.  Excretory, cervical (your cervix), and vaginal sphincters function best in an atmosphere of intimacy and privacy.  For example, a bathroom with a locking door or a bedroom where interruption is unlikely or impossible.

2.  These sphincters cannot be opened at will and do not respond well to commands such as push or relax!

3.  When a person’s sphincter is in the process of opening, it may suddenly close down if that person becomes upset, frightened, humiliated, or self conscious.  Why?  High levels of adrenaline in the bloodstream do not favor (sometimes, they actually prevent) the opening of sphincters.  This inhibition factors is one important reason why women in traditional societies may have mostly chosen women, except in extraordinary circumstances, to attend  them in labor and birth.

4. The state of relaxation of the mouth and jaw is directly correlated to the ability of the cervix, the vagina, and the anus to open to full capacity

Did you catch that?  In other words,

Open Mouth=Open Cervix

Open Throat=Open Vagina

It is near impossible to birth effectively with tightly pursed lips and a closed off throat.  Go ahead, try it right now….when you relax your jaw, open your mouth and open your throat, your bottoms automatically relaxes and sinks into your chair.  Ina May talks about the benefits of kissing, and keeping the lips and mouth lose and open.  Kissing also releases oxytocin adn other love hormones that raise your pain tolerance level and speeds labor along.

Please enjoy this short video of Ina May talking about The Sphincter Law


(source: MidwifeThinking.com)

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What I have learnt from my daughter ….

When I was pregnant with our first baby we didn’t want to know what we were having … it was exciting enough to know we were have a millennium baby (born in the year 2000) … we were happy either way … during the pregnancy I remember having strong dreams that could be interpreted that I was expecting a girl … I didn’t mind either way … buying clothing was interesting as I loved the greens, yellows & reds … splashes of blue as well as the white, beige and cream … was I nervous about the impending arrival of our baby … a little but it would be what it was …

Mother-daughter relationships are famously complicated, and my relationship with my mother growing up was no different.  I have to say that I have tried so hard to do it differently with my own daughter … ohh did I forget that bit … yes I birthed a gorgeous girl in April 2000 and life changed significantly …. nothing could have prepared me for the roller coaster that has happened since her arrival earth side … nearly 17 years to the day she finally made her entry … I am always in awe of her … feel very proud to say that she is my daughter … I’m never surprised when she says “Can I ask a question … ?” Our bond is amazing … do I get frustrated by and with her?  Of course … especially the bedroom that needs tidying … she’ll be mortified I’ve shared that … I could go one step further and share photographic evidence … but I won’t 🙂 … I am honoured to say I am her mother.

What have I learnt so far … birth is a journey, not just of a baby but of a maiden into a mother … and there is no rule book, there are no step by step instructions to tell you what to do, they aren’t a piece of flatpack furniture from Ikea … it’s a fly by the seat of your pants experience some days and most definitely nights!  It can be a lonely journey and you think you are the only one …. ohh thank goodness for circles of support … when you look at the woman chatting to you and slowly start to open that clam shell you have hidden yourself in and tentatively say how tired you are, how your baby doesn’t sleep, how you are feeling at your wits end with x, y or z … expecting to be told to toughen up, suck it up and get on with it … and low and behold … a new world is opened to you when they say “I know … I understand … little J or B is exactly the same …” …. ohh my goodness the world seems a lot smaller when you know you aren’t alone and that there are lots of other women who are struggling with a, b, c or x, y, z.

I feel honoured to have parented my daughter and I hope there are many more years to come … she is an amazing young lady … she’s embraced challenges of the everyday and bigger ones that have been like climbing Mount Everest but the smile on her face afterwards has been worth it … she has taught me so much … yes some of the lessons I so wished we hadn’t had to journey but they were soul changing and have opened up discussions that we never thought we would embrace … they have challenged us … but we are a strongly connected unit … and accept that these experiences are part of her personal development … helping her become the strong woman that she is and will continue to be ….

Some days I feel like I have been dragged half way up Mount Everest and then left to flounder, slip and slide my way back down … the old saying 10 steps forward 5 steps back …hitting your head against a brick wall … yup that is me on some days when parenting has felt hard … really hard … and other days I have marched my way up to the top of the hill … like the Grand Old Duke of York … and marched back down again … full of beans and fist punching the air that today was a great parenting day … I survived … I made it … and my child is still alive …

My daughter is strong.  Stronger in more ways than I ever was at her age.  But I look at the societies in which we have both grown up and I have to say I think this is a much tougher audience to please and in some ways I know sometimes we say “ohh I wish we could trade places with them” but the reality is … no I wouldn’t want to be her age group now!  We have had the inevitable chats of “I have a boyfriend … ohh who is he?” … ohhhh and we have had the inevitable heart break … appearing at the door, collapsing into my arms and sobbing her heart out  … so many lessons learnt and actually I feel so sorry for the poor sod who tries in the future to mess her around … be warned this is one strong woman … she’s going to see you coming from 50 yards and the wall will be up … you are going to have such a hard job of breaking it down or climbing over … be prepared to do battle … in order to win the smallest of concessions … and that might be a trip to the cinema … you have to earn the rest … don’t say I didn’t warn you …

Hormones … ohh boy … if someone had said to me what this aspect of having a daughter would be like … I might have said pop her back and change her … but through thick and thin we have mustered on … in tune with her in primary school knowing that her menarche was coming being in an amazing place to celebrate and journey with her for this rite of passage to support her and guide her … over the years being very aware and sensitive to her cycle … trying to ask the males of the house to be more aware and sensitive and ‘not push the buttons” so that she wouldn’t stomp out of the room or be aggressive … they were good at pushing the right buttons … but as she has started to become more aware of herself she is able to support and nourish herself … take herself off to spend some quality time doing what she needs to support herself …

Sleep – if someone had told me that an early rising child could suddenly change to one who loved to lie in and sleep … I would have passed out … but that is just what happened … overnight she suddenly changed … her bed … her pit … she can spend hours in the land of nod … and emerge and look absolutely exhausted … what I have learnt about teenagers is that they need their sleep … that if they don’t they can be an absolute nightmare …

She’s journeyed her GCSE’s and survived – yes if you are reading this and are about to sit them … you will survive and what happens on Results day is not the end of your world … you have to believe and follow your heart … she hasn’t looked back and is loving her course and all the challenges that come with this … meeting deadlines, stepping out of her comfort zone … if you’d told me she would learn to play base guitar and actually look pretty awesome doing so … I wouldn’t have believed you but she has and does …

She continues to volunteer in Girl Guiding and had the most amazing trip Stateside last summer raising over £2000 so that she and her team – @Princess_Posse Link  could take part in a 100 Challenges across the USA and Canada … they were amazing and won the challenge … here’s the amazing video of their trip … I think you can tell that I’m a little bit proud … most definitely …  and the fact that they were the Princess_posse and … ohh but that’s going to spoil the last little bit of this …

Anyway … my daughter … our daughter … has a plan … a grand scheme … a bucket list … a passion for travel … and all the other interests she has … but over the last few days she has started to formulate a challenge we chatted about way back when she was 14/15 years old and decided that she was going to grow her hair out so that she could at an appropriate time then cut it off for the Little Princess Trust; a Charity that provide wigs to children with cancer to help them cope when they lose their hair.


My daughter recently shared a video on her Facebook page that has truly inspired her.  In the video, Jae West invited the public in Times Square to cut or shave a piece of her hair with the message that “Beauty isn’t dependent on the external appearance”.  Link

Imogene has set herself the challenge of raising £1000 to support the work of the Little Princess charity but is taking this to another level … she would like to invite the general public to shave off the remainder of her hair.  Believe me when I tell you that I have sobbed over this as her hair is amazing … however I respect and support her fully.  My heart will be in my mouth and there will be tears flowing when she meets the target or exceeds it however I am so proud that she wants to support such precious work and ensure that a young girl somewhere will have the gift of hair.

If you feel that you can please do sponsor her … if you can’t … thank you for reading this …. and please do share the message of what she is doing … we all have amazing children that will go to great lengths to support causes that they feel passionate about … I know when I was younger it was the British Heart Foundation, as a teacher Cancer Research trekking to Peru, then Tommy’s when I started to work in the birth and baby world, doing The Moon Walk for breast cancer not even thinking that I might complete the challenge and a few months later have a team member embarking on her own breast cancer journey.  I know my endeavours have encouraged Imogene and the fact that the Stateside team were the Princess_posse and she is doing this for the Little Princess Trust … it’s meant to be …

We never know what is around the corner, we need to live life in the moment … as the acronym YOLO says “You Only Live Once” … and you know what my daughter will go on to do many more wonderful things and her hair will grow back … I look forward to see her undertaking this challenge and succeeding at raising the money and supporting a charity that she is passionate about.  Thank you for sponsoring her … hugs Cx






Do you have a “sale” on?

I’m not sure what your Friday and weekend has been like but I have to say that I am truly p****d off with the number of emails I received from various companies offering me discounts, free shipping, this deal and that deal … for goodness sake one company sent me 6 emails in 1 day … if I did that you would all unsubscribe and certainly have something to say to me …

However … what really made me sit back was an email from a lady who said she was waiting for my Black Friday email offering my classes at a discounted rate … she’d heard that they were amazing classes and that the ladies and families who come along had benefited so much but she was looking for a deal …

My answer was:

Dear x, thank you for the lovely comments in your email.  It’s great that the classes are recognised for being so wonderful and for what they offer to support couples into becoming a family and starting off on a positive foot …. however I am unfortunately not offering a “sale” 

and here’s why:

Let me start off by saying that I don’t like discounting my courses …

That’s because early on I decided to focus on quality rather than price, which allowed me to invest time and money into creating an experience for all women & families.   I also believe that many of my clients value what they receive … engaging and listening to their bodies, their babies and believing fully in their experience ensuring that their care givers listen to them and hear their wishes …

Yes it would be great to ensure that every pregnant woman in Northampton and the surrounding area knows about the magic of the Ripple Effect Yoga classes.  Gosh I would be unindated …. So I’m taking my time to tell you about the “special qualities” of a Ripple class and why everyone should have a “Claire”  … I am unique, there is only one of me however many a time I wish I could clone myself, have more hours in the day … I deliberately keep my classes small (a maximum of 4 in any class I teach, or I facilitate groups that wish to stay together).  I always check in and tweak my classes to facilitate x, y or z … eery baby matters and every mama matters too .. this is clear in the testimonials the ladies and families share … I love what I do … I am passionate that women should have an empowered experience …   when you book with Ripple Effect Yoga … you are ….


Whatever you invest in … let’s do it consciously and intentionally.

This is an experience that we may only get one shot at and one that we would wish to look back on with love and positivity in later years … 

I invite you to join a Ripple class …

It’s not just a yoga class, it’s an education, it’s elating, encouraging, an emotional support network.  The lot!  There’s nothing else quite like it!”  

I look forward to hearing from you … and to the lady that emailed me … I do hope you will come along and enjoy the classes.

Huge hugs Cx


Respecting the 4th trimester and your postpartum body …

Respecting your body in the 4th trimester …. we read so much about the 1st, 2nd & 3rd trimesters of what to expect … however have you considered the 4th trimester and what YOU need to have in place to support you?
Your body is expected to do this amazing feat … to feed your baby, to do nights which might be very disturbed … to get out there and get back in shape (hey what???) yup the pressure women place on themselves that they need to lose the baby weight and get back into those pre-pregnancy jeans asap is immense.

In my role as a doula and pregnancy & postpartum yoga teacher … I have heard some scary stuff … I need to get back to where I was pre-pregnancy … I need to start running …. STOP 

Consider this … your body has just worked exceptionally hard for 9 months nurturing & nourishing a baby … your pelvic floor has carried your growing baby(ies) … you have these amazing hormones whizzing around your body … why do you have to jump back onto the hamster wheel?

I see ladies come along to class struggling with discomfort in their pelvis, pain in their lower backs, misaligned pelvises, there pelvic floor feels like it is non-existent, they haven’t eaten breakfast or been able to have a hot drink … they are struggling from having had a c-section … remember this is major abdominal surgery that can take quite a while to heal from … you want to feel that what you are engaging in is nurturing and nourishing you … yes there will come a point when you feel that you can start that “buggy fit” class and that you are ready …. but what happens x number of months, years down the road when you are suffering with pelvic leakage, prolapse …. this is the time to gently reconnect with your body, to be gentle and learn what it can do and what it needs … nurture and nourish your pelvic floor ready for your next baby or for the next stage of your journey.  Just because x or y says you should do it doesn’t mean it’s right for you at this moment … take the space to nurture yourself until your baby is at least 6 months … respect your body, respect the amazing concoction of hormones.  

There are many cultures who honour the postpartum woman … with periods of lying in … special foods, herbs, treatments to keep the body warm and nourished, massage … sounds divine … I so wish when I had had my babies that I had had this … after trying to get up and out after having an amazing VBAC birth with our second baby I ended up in the local supermarket bumping into someone who had only that morning opened the email to say “M had arrived earth side … welcome & all were well and doing fine” … imagine the shock on her face to see me coming through the doors … she was catching flies … I must add that I struggled to do what I needed to do and ended up going home and doing an online shop and promising myself that I was going to be gentle … it was too soon and too much … I ended up online shopping and taking a couple of weeks to myself … I learnt the hard way … and I chat about this a lot in class … but again social expectations are that we should be bouncing back and up at it … and also the pressure we put ourselves under.  

Take the six weeks to connect with your baby, start those gentle breaths we connect with in class … reconnect with your abdominal muscles and pelvic floor, respect your body, your baby but ultimately respect YOURSELF … you are enough and you do not need to be super woman … your are nourishing & nurturing yourself and a baby … enjoy … have those pyjama days, snuggle with your baby, don’t pack your days running form an activity in the morning, lunch with a, b & c and then another activity in the afternoon.  Pace yourself … have space to spend time at home … to enjoy your baby … connect to what your body needs … 


Claire runs Well Woman Happy Baby classes … she is based in Northampton from The Space in Boothville. www.rippleeffectyoga.co.uk  She has over 15 years of supporting women and is passionate about pregnancy and the postpartum period.  The classes are a combination of postnatal mummy yoga to realign and reconnect, baby massage & baby yoga plus a whole host of different techniques to support you and your baby.  There is a always a cuppa and some treat  that is created by Claire … plus the amazing support of those in class with you.  Classes are kept to a maximum of 4 mummies and babies.  Very bespoke to you and your little one.  
Claire encouragés you to listen to your baby, to journey together and if you need to baby wear in class she will adapt the class to facilitate this and it might just surprise you that you will do a relaxation with your baby fast asleep on your chest and it will be the most amazing experience … come and explore but be prepared to be here for a good few months … so build this into your postpartum care budget … it will be money well spent on you both.  Happy mummy, happy baby = happy daddy.

The ladies and their babies who come along really benefit from these amazing classes … 

“I found these classes invaluable my pelvic floor took a real hammering in labour and I have journey for 7 months working really hard to gain stability, balance and strength back.  I couldn’t have done that without your classes …. thank you I am very grateful!”

“I find the WWHB invaluable! And H loves them!”

“Please don’t stop ….. the progression from pregnancy yoga to WWHB was fab for us, J loved it and invaluable for me taking those first steps into mummy-life xx”

“Definitely keep them, I loved them with Z and N!”

“These sessions have been so important to me! I love them and have had a welcoming and safe place to come every week. I tell everyone I meet!”

“I can’t wait to have another baby just so I can come back to you Claire!”


Tongue tie

For families in Northampton here are a few contacts wo might be able to guide you in the right direction for tongue & lip tie.

This information is from the following link   http://www.tongue-tie.org.uk/tongue-tie-practitioners-east-midlands.html


Suzanne Barber
Qualifications: Registered Midwife, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant
Area covered: Generally 30 miles radius of Bedford.
Tel: 07547 897876
Professional indemnity insurance provided by Hiscox Insurance Company Limited
Email: babytobreast@gmail.com
Website: www.babytobreast.com
Additional information: Clinics on Saturdays in Leicester, Thursdays in Hatton, Warwick and daily in Bedford. Flexible times available in Bedford. Online booking system available through main website. Home visits by request.

Petra Traynor
Qualifications: Registered Midwife and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.
Area covered: Northamptonshire, Leicestershire & Bedfordshire.
Tel: 07983 267512
Professional indemnity insurance provided by Hiscox Insurance Company Ltd
Email: info@nuturingnaturally.co.uk
Website: www.nurturingnaturally.co.uk
Additional information: Saturday mornings in Northampton. Saturday afternoons in Leicester (new venue from May 2016) Home visits for all above areas available upon request and considered for families within a 40 mile radius of Northamptonshire.

Diana Warren
Qualifications: Registered General Nurse (RGN), ABM Breastfeeding Counsellor, Neonatal QIS, Local Breastfeeding Peer Supporter
Area covered: Warwickshire, West Midlands, Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, referrals from all areas welcomed as clients to attend clinic in CV13 0HX
Tel: 07910 608179
Professional indemnity insurance provided by Hiscox Insurance Company Limited
Website: www.tongue-tie.info
Additional Information: Regular clinics held for babies up until 9 months old. Please contact Diana via website link or telephone number as above for further information or to book an appointment.

Breastfeeding & medication

There are some great resources out there for mamas who have to take medication

Here’s the links:

Link    https://www.facebook.com/breastfeedingandmedication/?hc_location=ufi

Link   http://www.breastfeeding-and-medication.co.uk/page2.html

Link  http://breastfeedingnetwork.org.uk/wp-content/dibm/antihistamines-sept.pdf





Bumi Sehat

As some of you are aware last year I had an amazing holiday to Bali and one of the things on my bucket list to do with my passion around mums, babies, positive birth and all that jazz was to visit Bumi Sehat.

They are amazing and provide a scared space for families to come and have their babies … people come from far away to have their babies in the Space …

For those of you who very kindly donated clothing that we took last August when we visited Bali this is where they went to … Bumi Sehat is amazing … and such a highly respected organisation … they are held in awe and spoken of with such reverence … thank you Cx

Here’s a video that shows you so much more than I can share with you … just how powerful the birth space is … and giving birth …

A huge thank you to the wonderful donations that were received … we took them and passed them on with lots of love …