Eat dates blindly?!

Arghghgh I am going to pull my hair out if I see another post about pregnant women and the ‘magical’ dates!

I thought it was the final straw when I heard a wonderful, pre-natal yoga teacher telling their mums to eat dates to ‘improve their birth’, but then I heard from one of my pregnant mum clients that even a MIDWIFE was advising her to eat them to ‘improve birth’ too!

I think this is a perfect example of how very limited and small research  indications can grow a trend that might not even be founded in much at all! 


QUOTE from Evidence based Birth on this topic: “In summary, it probably doesn’t hurt to dates … and it may actually help in these small studies that we saw.”

Not that eating a date will harm you. I’m not “anti-dates”. I’m just anti blindly grabbing information as if it is pure fact.

I mean eat some dates, yes, go ahead and let the placebo effect (or possible real effect? who knows) reduce your labour length – if you believe in the magic of the dates strongly enough, then dates WILL help your birth!

I just want people to stop and reflect that true, full,  informed decision making needs to be based on more that one paper.

Don’t eat dates blindly, don’t take ANY kind of advice blindly. Even if it’s from a doctor or a midwife.

Why am I taking interest in the dates craze? A very esteemed midwife and researcher highlighted to our birth professionals group that the ‘date eating, birth improving paper’ was done on a study group where the study group had nutritional and dietary deficits – and therefore, she suggested that we consider that the dates may have had a significant effect simply because they were giving the women much needed sugar and nutrient benefits.

In other words, if they had used raisins in the study, then raisins could have been the latest pregnancy craze! (and imagine how chuffed the raisin industry would have been!)

Personally I have been guilty of sharing links without thorough reading, reflection or personal research myself…

We are all human!

In fact a long time ago, at the beginning of the craze, I saw the ‘date article’ being shared around and as a birth educator I shared it to my audience. Then, as a pregnant woman, I bought and ate some dates!! Hey it sounded like a great idea (plus I happen to love dried fruit and it made my breakfast suddenly far more yummy!).

And after one such delicious breakfast, heavily laden with delicious, sugary dates (which are said to be low GI), I did a random glucose finger prick test at the chemist (I was self monitoring to check for any risk of Gestational Diabetes) and I had a concerning reading, the first thing the nurse asked was “what did you have for breakfast?”.

Yes, folks, dates can compromise your sugar and insulin levels.

So be careful before upping your intake.. and by the way, those suckers are addictive – just like any sugar is.. and it all starts with just one or two and escalates from there.


I love looking at various sides of any topic,

All the best,

Natalie Meade.


The studies that show small indications of possibly dates being beneficial:

Al-Kuran, O., et al. (2011). “The effect of late pregnancy consumption of date fruit on labour and delivery.” J Obstet Gynaecol 31(1): 29-31.

Khadem N, Sharaphy A, Latifnejad R, Hammod N, I R. 2007. Comparing the efficacy of dates and oxytocin in the management of postpartum hemorrhage. Shiraz E-Medical Journal 8:64–71.

Kordi M, Meybodi FA, Tara F, Shakeri MT. (2014). “The effect of late pregnancy consumption of date fruit on cervical ripening in nulliparous women.” Journal of Midwifery and Reproductive Health 2:150–156.

Razali, N., et al. (2017). “Date fruit consumption at term: Effect on length of gestation, labour and delivery.” J Obstet Gynaecol: 1-6.

Go with the flow?

Just “go with the flow”?

It’s common advice given to pregnant women as they face the unknowns of childbirth. “Just go with the flow.” It is certainly a welcome and relieving strategy. But is it really helpful?

(I am sure it would work well, if you were in a cave with a fire, and one or two wise women).

BUT, women instead, often birth in a broken maternity system!

Personally… I was definitely in denial when I was pregnant about how hard childbirth can be. I’d heard the horror stories. and they terrified me. Denial was my only friend.

Consequently, I had no proper birth knowledge or plan worked out by the time I reached forty weeks gestation.

Rather than think too much about the possibilities – which led to fearful thoughts and images – I was just going to “go with the flow”!

I often hear that advice on mummy pages and the well-meaning women that give the advice probably had good births. “Trust your body” they say. “It knows what to do.” “Go with the flow.” It’s well-intentioned but it can easily be interpreted as “go along with whatever happens at the hospital”. Or “don’t bother planning , it’ll all go well”.

But, I’m not sure how well that advice could really work for women who birth like me – full of tension, panic and extreme pain!

Luckily I happened to enjoy a long gestation and by the time I had waited ten day past forty weeks, a good friend had emailed me a few birth stories and an Indie-Birth Plan and I began educating myself and even began planning my birth. I literally did it out of boredom and looking back, I am so lucky I did. I thank that friend’s input in those last two days, for my natural, vaginal birth.

By handing up a birth plan stating that I was “hoping not to have an epi or use drugs”, I ended up with midwives who stood by my plan, and even when I BEGGED for drugs, they carefully supported me and my ability to cope.

And I did it!!!

I coped and I birthed naturally! I didn’t need drugs.

(I just thought I did – for a while there)!

Now, when I hear a woman saying she is going to just “go with the flow” I feel terrified for her. I know how broken the maternity system is. It’s not shaped to be able to provide pregnant women with the time, patience and support they need.

I’ve seen women forced into uncomfortable positions on a bed, with CTG straps on her belly and the baby heart monitor alarming everyone. Mother and baby are in obvious distress, I can see something is very wrong with the position the mother is forced into. The mother is nauseous and in agony, she needs to move! But she is told to stay still for monitoring. And finally (with panic all around her) the mum insists on shifting to a new position – and the heart trace becomes perfect!

I know how quickly a low heart beat can be turned into a cascade of interventions and often the first, worst interference was the uncomfortable and unnatural position the mother was put in to get a heart trace in the first place.

How then does a woman “go with the flow”, but also, regain her ability to have a say?

How different would the advice be, if we just jiggled just one single word and advised her to follow “her” flow and not “the” flow?

As a birth educator, I want to encourage women to follow their instinct and not be passive in the face of procedures.

I want all women to know how valuable their instinct is.

A woman in an uncomfortable position with the monitor on, has the right to get up and move if she feels the instinctual urge to do so!

Following instinct is a safer birth!

During birth I encourage women to move in a way that feels good. Groan, moan, breathe, grunt and sigh – however they need to, however they want to.

That instinctual flow, that natural rhythm, that is birth!

Only the woman truly knows what it is needed.

The mothers’ body feels the baby with every cell of her brain and uterus.
(she knows what her baby needs, she knows it deep down).

Can a women in labour hear her flow?

Are supporters being quiet, allowing her to listen to herself?

That’s what I strive for as a doula, I ask her what she wants, and birthing women are so wise – they follow their flow and find the answers they seek.

Natalie Meade
GradDipC, GradDipPsyc, GradDipEd, Bsc (Hons), CCE, CH

0406 934 645

NOTE: I am not suggesting that babies health should not be monitored. But there are less obstructive ways of doing it and the purpose of this blog is to raise the question of how often it could be done following the womans natural positioning and needs instead of limiting her natural flow?

go with the flow

go with the flow

Natalie Meade: Formally trained and highly experienced as a Childbirth Educator through the HypnoBirthing Institute, I now bring together all my wide and various birth wisdoms and birth education activities and techniques, demos and deliver my own private, independent Birth Education courses.

Dear Obstetrician,

Dear Obsetrician, I am a birth educator. I see the full range of women in my work, some women feel safest with midwives in a birth centre. Medical equipment can make them nervous. Some women birth at home, they feel safest there.

But many, many women choose obstetricians – this is how many women feel safest.

This is a big compliment to doctors and I wonder if you have ever thought about this great honour and trust bestowed upon you?

Do you realise the huge influence you have over the path of this precious, life-giving ceremony?

How it starts, unfolds and ends…

Image depicts a ‘birth simulator’

As the days are unfolding close to birth, do you trust her – as strongly as she trusts you?

Do you give her a safe space, with patience and warmth and then keep your hands in your pockets unless in a true emergency?

Do you practise faith and observe with unbiased eyes?

She has come into your space to have her child ‘delivered’ safely.

She fully believes that you have the skills and knowledge to guide and assist her to labour in such a way to lead to the best birth outcome possible.

She does not know that when she steps into a hospital she steps into a world of ‘medical anxiety’, where many staff may unknowingly be harbouring exaggerated fears of the body malfunctioning and her, or the baby, dying. She does not know that this will affect her birth experience.

She does not know that your tension and your doubts, can lead to nervousness in her body and lead her to tighten her body. And that tight, tense bodies lead to slower, restricted descent of babies (have you spent much time reflecting on these somatic and subconscious issues affecting birth?).

(Do you warn your pregnant women that this material is not covered in the hospital-run, antenatal courses?)

She does not know she has a 33.3 % chance of being steered towards major surgery, often times under strong emotional pressure (where the urgent recommendations from medical staff are coming from a concerned and caring place – but are often also mingled with quite a bit of underlying medical fear).

She does not know that most often it is the lead-up care that causes the distress to baby and mother.

When healthy, low risk, women walk into their first appointment, do you or your midwife team members warn her of the high risk of chemical and surgical interventions awaiting her?

Are you a birth enthusiast, a birth passionate?

Have you read widely and passionately in this field? Are you familiar with the extensive work of the worlds’ leading Obstetricians and midwives like Micheal Odent? Ina May Gaskin? Hannah Dahlen? Andrew Bisits? Dr Grantly Dick Read (deceased)?

When you work with a woman, please know that she came to you to be safe and that this can best be achieved by a baby being born naturally and smoothly (unless in the case of a true medical emergency). The body is wise and functions completely differently from what you commonly see – but to see true, pure birth – labour must be allowed to begin, progress and complete – unhindered.

The women I work with, if you allow them, are eager and willing to demonstrate pure birth to you.

And you can become the next world famous OB leading the way in positive birth for women and be eagerly recommended by birth educators like myself 🙂



Natalie Meade

GradDipC, GradDipPsyc, GradDipEd, Bsc (Hons), CCE, CH

What does labour feel like?

Labour is like many things in life, very difficult to explain to those who have not felt it.

To further complicate the issue, it can strongly be influenced by expectations, your reaction to it, your surroundings and your carers reactions to you!

One thing is for sure, if you are tense and holding your breath, it will HURT!

And another thing for sure… there are a lot of things you CAN do to prepare (these things are generally not covered at all in standard hospital antenatal courses, you will need to seek birth education specialists).

Here is a quote from a first time dad:

“This pain is a whole new beast”

James sought out a four hour, intensive birth preparation session with The Hunter Birth Education Centre for their second birth and had such a fast and smooth labour they had a vaginal birth after caesarean in their own doorstep.

A little birth preparation goes a long way!

Best wishes to the mum, dad and new baby.

Thank you James for sharing your quote to help share what you learnt from the birth of your first child.


And to attempt to answer the question of “what does labour feel like?”

* Labour can feel like a strong period pain (although one client who had experienced severe endometriosis all her life felt that her labour could not be serious yet as it hurt less than her period pain)
* Labour can feel like an aching, pressure in the back (a good friend of mine did not know she was in labour as she just though her bad back was playing up again, it was only when she finally noticed the ache was coming in a repeating pattern that she realised)
* labour can feel like shooting cramps and/or muscle spasms down the thigh
* Labour can feel like pulling and/or aching deep inside the lower pelvis and/or all over the uterus, front back and sides
* Labour can feel like a severe, strong pressure and tightening anywhere in the front, back, sides, high and/or low Uterus, groin and stomach regions
* Labour can feel like you just want to crawl up into a little ball and cry
* Labour can feel like you will do anything to rest
* Labour can feel nauseating
* Labour can feel exhausting and never ending
* Labour can feel exciting, funny, immense, life changing and even orgasmic!
* When I was in labour for a miscarriage (which can feel exactly like actual labour) I could literally feel some longitudinal uterus muscles pulling upwards inside my mid region and the cervix muscle expanding open.
* If you focus on the uterus as a big muscle that contracts and expands, labour can feel powerful and expansive.
* I could go on forever.. But my toddler will benefit from some attention soon 🙂

Ina May Gaskin suggests that during labour you give a contraction your entire focused (and curious) attention.. if you can do that for a few contractions, then please send me an email with your own explanation of what labour feels like!

All the best for your birth adventures,

Please call if you have any questions,

I’m always happy to give 15 minutes phone consults with no obligation and free of charge!

For passion, not profit!

Natalie Meade

Creator and Manager of HBEC

0406 934 645

Curious mums, hundreds of clients

Dear fellow birth educators,

I feel so happy and excited when I hear a mum being curious about antenatal education!

I often hear: “I heard of HypnoBirthing and wondered if it was worth the money”,
or, “What is the difference between Calm Birth and HypnoBirthing? “
or, “Have you heard of Lamaze, She Births, Birth Savvy, Birth from Within, Wise Hippo…?”

…the questions go on.

curious mums

I believe that these curious questions show us that a woman is in a state of being open to independent birth education and that as birth educators we have a great chance to give positive encouragement to these women!

We get a chance to assure her that the course she is curious about, is wonderful and worth doing (whether we teach it or not). This woman is right on the edge of enrolling if she is encouraged with positivity! And if she enrols, it could well be, one of the luckiest moments of her life!

The last thing she needs is a big lecture about “other courses” and all the “differences”. No pregnant woman wants to find herself feeling confused and unsure.

Discussing differences could suggest that some courses are “right”, and by default, that some courses are “wrong”.

Please don’t kill the mothers enthusiasm with tedious comparisons of available courses…

All Independent Birth Education courses are totally awesome!!!

I will say that again!

ALL INDEPENDENT Birth Education Courses are totally awesome and wonderful! They are all packed full of great quality information to prepare a woman for her birth.

Any woman, doing any independent birth preparation, will be guaranteed to have a more positive birth experience for having done it 🙂

curious mums

Tell yourself the truth! All the courses cover the exact same essentials and most of the identical tools and tips!

Surely we must admit to ourselves that topics like the following are just normal in a birth education course:
eg. hormones and physiology, trust in birth, birth as having normal physiological pain, reducing fear-tension-pain, relaxing and breathing into natural birth trance/zone, partner involvement eg acupressure, massage, positive words of encouragement, being active during birth, following gut instinct, working with gravity, pelvic opening positions, relaxing open the jaw, meeting the womans’ needs for privacy, safety, environment, choosing caregivers carefully, following evidence based research, humans rights in childbirth, ways to question medical care providers … blah, blah, blah… the list goes on.. these are really just standard for any current independent birth education program!).

Listening to tedious explanations of differences and competitive comments about other courses is just going to ruin her awesome birthing MOJO!

Is it to try and get clients? I am assuming this is why programs are doing this? Or is this just some human psychology thing where us humans want to convince ourselves that our course is original, special, better?

Yes, I say “us humans” because I have caught myself doing this in the past too! I sometimes still need to remind myself that birth education is not a competition, it is about improving birth for women and families!

Please take a moment to reflect on this next sentence…

There – is – NO – shortage – of – clients!

There are hundreds of thousands of clients being herded into the hospital courses every month in this country and these pregnant mums have no idea what they are missing out on.

Here is my idea, the next time a woman seems curious about an independent birth course, just say to her:

“That course is awesome – enrol now – go do it!”

And you could always add:

“It will change your life forever in a positive way.”

and, “Congratulations for having the open mindedness to explore something special for your birth”.

You could also share this link that really drives the point home… i.e. don’t waste your time and money on a run-of-the-mill, hospital course!

If we work together to keep women in a state of curiosity, we will change birth quicker and it will feel nicer 🙂

That’s my idea, I hope you like it.

Natalie Meade

Hunter Birth Education Centre,

Newcastle, NSW, Australia

0406 934 645

p.s. I have attempted to list and tag all birth courses available in Australia, I bet I missed tons, please email me to let me know about your program and I will add it to this blog post.