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The Visual Birth Plan from the Positive Birth Book

If you've already seen the beautiful positions for labour artwork by the amazing Kate Evans that feature in the Positive Birth Book, you'll be pleased to know that our collaboration goes much further!



I've been in love with Kate's art and imaginative flair ever since I read her amazing book Bump, so I nearly passed out with excitement when publishers Pinter and Martin agreed to commission her not just to do these amazing illustrations, but to collaborate with me on a much bigger part of the book - the Visual Birth Plan, or VBP.

I've loved the idea of a Visual Birth Plan ever since I saw birth plans made from little icons floating around on social media a couple of years ago. These little icons are pretty simple and basic, wouldn't it be better if the icons were more suited to every birth choice, and more beautiful, I thought?!

I know there are arguments to be made about birth plans 'per se', and I'm not going to go into those here - suffice to say, I t…
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What's going to be in The Positive Birth Book?!

Did I mention I wrote a book?!

Yup. A whole flipping book.

I'm not going to lie to you, it wasn't easy. My partner, my mum, and Bing bunny all helped a lot.

People sometimes say, "I don't know how you did it!"

Well here's the answer. Like this:


As you can see, I had not spent very long on my 'look' that day.

Nor had I apparently had time to finish plastering my fireplace.

But never mind all that! What's in the Book?

I thought, as we are now in PUBLICATION MONTH!! That I would share with you the ACTUAL CONTENTS PAGES OF THE BOOK.

It will give you a much better idea of what you're going to get and why it took around three years of my life and an intimacy with the voiceover skills of Mark Rylance to write it.

Here you go! *drum roll*








Thank you patient partner, thank you patient babysitting mother, thank you patient three year old, thank you Mark and Bing.

I could not have done it without you!

More on this blog over the coming days as we countdow…

A quick rant about the NHS approach to eczema

Followers of this blog will know that, about 8 weeks after my third baby was born (he is now 3), he developed eczema that was so severe, he looked like he had been burnt in a fire. Think I'm exaggerating?

This pic was taken on the 31st October, when he was about 6 weeks old:


Clear skin.

By 18th November, we were in Eczemaville:



By 4th December, we were in hell:



The next pic is one of those random snaps, probably taken by another child, but for me it encapsulates how I was feeling at the time, the concern I felt for him, the tenderness, and how I could not take my eyes of him, and how I wanted to make it all better.


And here's one more so you get the idea of how severe baby eczema can be. (I had no idea until it happened to me).



I've actually had to scroll my screen down so that I can carry on writing this post without having to look at these pics. They literally cause me physical pain.

Anyway! Let's cheer up because there is a good end to this story.

After a few more m…

We need to act now to save Independent Midwives - and birth freedom!

Independent Midwives...where do I start with what I owe to them? Without Independent Midwives, I don't know what kind of birth I would have had with my second baby. Traumatised and scared after my first birth (induction, forceps etc), I discovered, right at the last minute, that you could 'opt out' of the NHS. I contacted Independent Midwives Caroline Baddiley and Chrissy Hustler, and as soon as they walked into my living room for our first meeting, I knew that everything was going to be different from that moment on.

It's awkward to 'big up' IM's because doing so contains the implication that there is something wrong with NHS midwives. And of course, this is not the case. There are many many fantastic midwives in the NHS and many women have fantastic positive births under their care. The problem that I had, and that drove me to seek an alternative, was that I could not guarantee that I would know the midwife who attended me. In my local area at the time, m…

Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes, I just sits.

Oh, how long it has been since I have written this blog! Actually, I've really missed it, and it feels good to be back. But...life has really moved on in so many ways from the days when I used to sit at my desk, one evening a week, and sip wine, and think, and write.

It's been...how can I put this...hectic. We moved house, not to any house, but to a kind of derelict place, one half of which used to be the village hairdressers and the other half of which had been lived in by a lovely little old lady for about fifty years. Walls needed knocking down. Floors dug up. A staircase ripped out and another rebuilt in it's place, the other way round. For the past three years I have lived under a layer of brick dust, with the sound of an angle grinder haunting even my dreams. My partner - who was born to live on the road in a van and admits it himself - reminds me that many people the world over would be so glad to live in a building site and wouldn't mind the powdered concrete …

Baby eczema took over our life: have we found the answer?

"How come you have stopped blogging?", someone asked me recently. Short answer: I had a baby. Slightly longer answer: I had my third baby, my life is chaos, I got a job as a columnist and it's all I can do to get that done every week, I'm a perfectionist and it takes me ages to write anything, oh, and my baby got eczema and it's pretty much taken over our life.

Eczema? Isn't that just like, a rash? A bit of dry skin, the odd bit of redness behind the knees. That's what I thought, and almost laughed when the community nurse suggested I apply for disability allowance shortly after the eczema started. Four months on, it has nearly broken me.

I can't describe to you how awful it is just to see your baby not looking right. This might sound awfully superficial, but I'm sure it's much deeper than that. There must be something hard-wired into the deeper, older parts of a mother's brain, to feel ill-at-ease if her baby looks sick.

The skin of a bab…