Valerie Gommon Midwife’s Blog

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The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,200 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Guest blog written by Joanne Marie who is a qualified reflexology practitioner trained in maternity and baby reflexology.

Baby reflexology is a simple soothing treatment loved by parents and babies too. This relaxing fuss free treatment can be used anywhere and when combined with massage it is a real baby treat!

Reflexology is a natural complimentary therapy using finger and thumb pressure on points on the feet and hands that correspond to all parts of the body. The treatment is relaxing and calming for adults and babies alike, so if you love massage yourself or want to learn a simple, effective skill then take a look at Baby reflexology. This technique is a specially modified form of reflexology designed especially for babies, infants and toddlers.

Baby reflexology is a simple and enjoyable skill to help you and your baby manage day to day difficulties and common problems. It does not diagnose or treat illness and is not a replacement for medical care. Always consult your babies G.P. or your health visitor if you are concerned about their health.

Reflexology for babies and children was developed by a physiotherapist after 15 years of research into the effects of reflexology on children with asthma. They found that children were more relaxed and slept better and this helped them to better manage the problems associated with their asthma.

If you prefer using natural remedies for yourself and your family then reflexology for babies gives you a natural fuss free option. You just need to be able to touch your baby’s feet. You can use it at any time and in any place. In a restaurant, out shopping, visiting friends for a cuppa and a chat, at 4 a.m. in the morning!  Just about any time you need to help soothe and calm your baby.

Baby and infant reflexology and massage are beneficial for you and your baby in so many ways. Being a new mum can sometimes seem like a never ending cycle of feeding and dirty nappies. Massaging your baby gives you a time when you can relax and be together. Baby reflexology can help you to feel more confident caring for your baby and promote a sense of security and understanding for you both.  Baby reflexology is a lovely way to bond with your baby.  It’s not just for mums, I find that dads love learning baby reflexology and it’s a wonderful way to help them feel positive about their ability to soothe their baby.

It is never too early to start baby reflexology but beware your baby’s feet may be sensitive after their heel prick test at around 5 days old.  It can be enjoyed at almost any time but after their immunisations please wait 48 hours before doing reflexology.

A basic routine lasts only a few minutes and can be easily fitted into your day. It is best to practise at a time when you and your baby are feeling calm. You don’t need to lie your baby down, you just need to be able to comfortably hold and massage their feet.  I recommend using a solid balm for baby reflexology and massage as it’s much easier than risking spilling liquid oils. Bee balm works well, but if you are out and about you can still do reflexology with no oil or balm.

Here is a very basic routine to get you started.  You can learn specific techniques to meet your baby’s needs from a qualified instructor.

1: Hold both feet gently but steadily. Speak to your baby about what you are doing; this helps them to become familiar with the routine as they will learn to associate the word reflexology with the experience.  It also later allows your baby to refuse if they do not want reflexology at that time.

2: Rub the feet all over.  Long sweeping strokes work well, but you will find your own preferred method.

3: Glide your thumb or finger gently but firmly up the base of the foot from the heel to the base of each toe. These lines are the five zones of each foot.


4: Massage the tops of the feet from the toes to the ankles by rotating your thumb in circles moving across the foot. With smaller babies you may prefer to use the pad of your finger rather than your thumb.

5: Massage each toe in turn, circling the base of the toes and gliding down the front.

6: Massage the base of each foot using thumb circles. Move from the heel up to the toes until the whole foot area has been massaged.

7: Finish with a lovely rub all over the feet.

Your baby may want to kick their legs during the routine. This is fine; you don’t need to hold into their feet all the time and it’s better to let them kick. As they become familiar with the reflexology and how it feels they will start to remain a little stiller.

A few minutes of reflexology can be enough to be effective so please don’t worry if you baby only lets you do one or two techniques.  Gentle pressure is all you need, similar to wiping your baby’s skin clean.  Find a hold or cuddle that suits you and your baby, relax and enjoy.

Video showing baby reflexology techniques can be viewed here:

Joanne Marie is a qualified reflexology practitioner trained in maternity and baby reflexology.  She manages and works as a therapist at Breathe Holistic Therapy Kidderminster.  DY115LB.  Joanne has a ten year old son who can regularly be heard asking his mum for reflexology!



The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 12,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 20 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

It is an awful thought that we might not be around to care for our children, but it is something parents should consider and make provision for.

Clive Morgan from The Will Partnership has kindly written some thoughts for this Guest Blog.  Clive can be contacted at

Guardians for Minor Children

One of the most important reasons for making a Will is to appoint guardians for minor children. If a child is orphaned (or the death of the parent with parental responsibility occurs) the courts – as advised by Court Welfare Officers and Social Services – will determine who will raise that child. The parent’s only method of avoiding this is to appoint guardians of their choice within a Will. If clients have minor children, they should be advised to choose guardians within their Will(s) – someone to raise them in the highly unlikely event they can’t. It’s not an easy thing to consider but clients can make some simple arrangements now that will allay some of their fears, knowing that in the extremely unlikely event they can’t raise their children, they will be well cared for.

Who Makes a Suitable Guardian?

– Is the prospective guardian/s old enough? (He or she must be an adult – 18 years old)

– Do they have a genuine concern for the children’s welfare?

– Is the client’s choice physically able to handle the role?

– Does he or she have the time?

– Do they have children of an age close to that of the client’s children and do they enjoy a good relationship?

– Can the client financially provide to raise their children via their Will?  If not can the prospective guardian afford to raise them?

– Is their home large enough to accommodate an increase in family size (if not clients may retain their own home for a period of time to house guardians plus children or provide funds for the guardians to increase the size of their home or move, particularly where the clients are certain their choice of guardian is right even through the accommodation is not)?

– Does the guardian share the client’s moral beliefs?

– Are the potential guardian(s) known, liked and trusted by both parents and the children?

– Are they living local to clients so that children could stay at the same school, with the same friends and have as little upheaval as possible during what will probably be the most disturbing time of their lives?

– Have a similar age and circumstances to the client?

– Guardians are usually a relative.

– Would all the children be able to stay together?

As any minor’s daily welfare will be the responsibility of the guardians, it could be worth considering the inclusion of one of the guardians as an executor.

A good question to ask the client could be: ‘If you had an urgent problem tomorrow, who would be the first person you would call to collect your children from school or to be here at home with them until your return and why?’

Clients should name at least one primary guardian (or if the main choice is married/co-habiting then both persons should be chosen) who would act in the event of the death(s) of all persons/parents who had parental responsibility. In addition it is advisable for clients to choose substitute guardians who would act in the event that the primary guardians could not or will not act.

Legally, clients can name co-guardians, who live at different addresses but it’s not a good idea because of the possibility that the co-guardians will disagree how the children will be raised. Where this possibility arises it might be best to appoint one as primary and the other as the secondary guardian which then clarifies the position.

If parents can’t agree

Both parents should name the same person as guardian in both of their Wills. If clients don’t agree on whom to name, a court fight could ensue if both parents die while the child is a minor. Faced with conflicting wishes, a judge would have to make a choice based on the evidence of what’s in the best interests of the child.

A personal view of the writer is that almost any guardian named in a Will is a far better situation than leaving it to the courts – as advised by social services – to decide. If parents can never agree anything else between them guardians is one area where it is vital they should.

Sometimes initially each parent wants each of their own parents as guardians for often different reasons. But once you have a conversation with them about who they think the children would want to live with and who they stay with most often, the ideal solution is often one set of grandparents become the primary guardians and the other the secondary substitute guardians. We inform the guardians of their role in order for them to accept, but we do not inform them of which level of guardian they are. The client may also opt not to inform them so there can be no family arguments over a situation which hopefully will never occur.

At the first meeting when the subject of guardians comes up and agreement does not appear straight forward suggest the clients talk with the people they’d each like to name. Candid discussions with their potential guardians may bring new information to light and help them reach an agreement in time to take their instructions at meeting 2.

Choosing different guardians for different children

Most clients want their children to stay together; if they do, name the same guardian for all the children. You can, however name different guardians for different children. Parents may do this, for example, if their children are not close in age and have strong attachments to different adults outside of the immediate family. For instance, one child may spend a lot of time with a grandparent while another child may be close to an aunt and uncle. In a second or third marriage, a child from an earlier marriage may be close to a different adult than a child from the current marriage. In every situation, you want to help the clients choose the right guardian they believe would be best able to care for each child.

Choosing a different person to watch the money

Some parents name one person to be the children’s guardian and a different person to look after financial matters. Often this is because the person would be the best surrogate parent would not be the best person to handle the money. For example, a client might feel that their bother-in-law would provide the most stable, loving home for the children, but not have much faith in his abilities as a financial manager. Perhaps clients have a close friend who cares about their children and would be better at dealing with the economic aspects of bringing them up. Clients can name one as guardian, the other as executor and trustee to manage their children’s inheritance and advance money to the guardian to maintain the children or it is possible and often prudent to appoint one of the primary guardians as an executor/trustee in addition, provided there are other executors and trustees appointed who are not guardians thus maintaining some balance with no one person (or couple) controlling all the money together with the raising of the children.

Making your wishes known

Most people have strong feelings about how they want their children to be raised. Clients concerns may cover anything from religious teachings to what college they’d like a particular child to attend. One option is to write a letter to the guardian, outlining thoughts and feelings about how the children should be raised where it is ‘wished’.  Whereas if it is to be a firm direction and condition/requirement of the guardian, then it needs to be mentioned within the Will. It is always best to be brief – without too much detail – as it could cause the guardian guilt and frustration, if unexpected circumstances thwart their attempts to carry out the wishes or directions of the client to the letter. The best guarantee of an upbringing a client would approve of is to simply choose someone who knows them and their children well, and whom they trust to navigate life’s complexities on their children’s behalf in the same manner as the clients would if they were alive to do so.

If clients don’t want the other parent to raise their child

If one of a child’s parents dies, the other parent usually takes responsibility for raising the child provided the surviving parent has parental responsibility. This, of course, is what most people want. If clients are separated or divorced, however, they may feel strongly that the child’s other parent shouldn’t have custody if something should happen to them. But a judge will grant custody to someone else only if the surviving parent:

  • Has legally abandoned the child by not providing for or visiting the child for an extended period, or
  • Is clearly unfit as a parent.

In most cases, it is difficult to prove that a parent is unfit, absent or has serious problems such as chronic drug or alcohol abuse, mental illness, or a history of child abuse. If clients honestly believe the other parent is incapable of caring for their children properly, or simply won’t assume the responsibility, you should advise the clients to have an Exclusion Form drafted. In the event of a court case this would give the judge something to take into account particularly because this is the only realistic way the parent who has died can make the court formally aware of the problems and their wishes. Judges are always required to act in the child’s best interest. In choosing a guardian, a judge commonly considers a number of factors in accordance with the welfare checklist, some of the the main ones are:

– The child’s preference, to the extent it can be ascertained

– Who will provide the greatest stability and continuity of care?

– Who will best meet the child’s needs?

– The relationship between the child and the adults being considered for guardian

– The moral fitness and conduct of the proposed guardians.

Some Important Points Regarding the Children’s Act, Parents, Children and Parental Responsibility

In English law Parental responsibility is a legal phrase used to define who has the rights and obligations in making decisions which affect the child’s life. Parental responsibility includes the following legal rights and responsibilities:

  • Providing a home for the child
  • Having contact with and living with the child
  • Protecting and maintaining the child
  • Disciplining the child
  • Choosing and providing for the child’s education
  • Choosing the child’s religion
  • Agreeing on the child’s health and medical care
  • Consenting to medical treatment for the child
  • The right to choose guardians for your children in the event of your death
  • Accessing the child’s medical and educational records
  • Naming the child
  • Responsibility for the child’s property
  • Allowing confidential information about the child to be disclosed

Who has parental responsibility?

– Mothers automatically have parental responsibility.

– If the parents are married at the time of the child’s birth then the father has automatic parental responsibility. If the parents subsquently marry, the father automatically aquires parental responsibility upon marriage if they have not done so by any other method.

For unmarried fathers the rules are more complicated. Being the biological father of a child does not mean that they have an automatic right in law to parental responsibility. Likewise, even though they may be registered as the father on their child’s birth certificate, this does not always mean that they have automatic parental responsibility. If the father is unmarried and separate from the child’s mother and does not have parental responsibility, then they do not have a legal say in the child’s upbringing.

Fathers do have parental responsibility if:

  • They are the father of a child born after 1st December 2003 and their name is on the birth certificate.

They do not have parental responsibility if:

  • They are the father of a child born before 1st December 2003 and are not married to the child’s mother.
  • They are the unmarried father of a child born after 1st December 2003 and they are not named on the child’s birth certificate.

Applying for parental responsibility

There are a number of ways of getting parental responsibility and these are:

  • Entering into a voluntary parental responsibility agreement with the mother
  • Marrying the mother
  • Applying to the court to obtain a parental responsibility order
  • Obtaining a residence order
  • Being appointed as the child’s guardian

To apply to the court for a parental responsibility order, a father needs to show a number of things:

  • The application is being made in the interests of the child’s welfare
  • A degree of commitment to the child exists
  • A degree of attachment between the child and father exists
  • The father’s reason for applying for the order is genuine and well-meaning

If parental responsibility is granted then it has to be exercised jointly with the mother of the child and therefore any decision regarding the appointment of guardians must be a joint one. 

– The right to appoint guardians rests solely with the parent or parents who have parental responsibility and therefore unless the father has parental responsibility he has to be appointed guardian in the mother’s Will in order to raise his own children or apply to the court upon the death of the mother.

-Step parents acquire some rights for stepchildren upon marriage but the right to determine guardians is not one of them. If a step parent wishes to raise stepchildren in the event of the death of their partner they would have to be appointed as a guardian within the Will of the deceased person who has parental responsibility.

– Guardians raising a minor child acquire the right to appoint guardians in the event of their deaths.

– Guardians commence acting upon the death of the second parent or first parent if the mother has sole parental responsibility.

I have recently had a client whose baby had ankyloglossia and needed a tongue-tie division (or frenulotomy), the baby was having some difficulty with breastfeeding, and the mother was experiencing nipple soreness despite good positioning.

Tongue-tie may be hereditary and is a condition where there is a short or tight membrane underneath the tongue; it can be hard to diagnose and is easily missed. The skin “tie” can be attached at the tongue tip or further back and as a result the tongue-tip can appear heart-shaped; the tongue movements to lift, move from side to side and protrusion can be restricted and this may affect the way the baby feeds.  A recent study found that of babies having feeding difficulties up to 10% had a tongue-tie.

What should you look for?

You may experience pain on breastfeeding your baby, your nipples may become damaged and you may develop mastitis or find it difficult to establish an adequate milk supply (although all these symptoms can relate to positioning issues too).

The baby may have difficulty feeding and may need to feed frequently and for prolonged periods of time to be satisfied. There may also be weight problems, noisy feeding, dribbling and increased windy behaviour (although again your baby could have these symptoms without tongue tie).

Some babies can feed perfectly well despite having a tongue-tie and adjustments to positioning and attachment may be all that is needed if there are problems with feeding.  It is definitely advisable to seek specialist breastfeeding support such as La Leche League, National Childbirth Trust, Association for Breastfeeding Mothers or Lactation Consultants GB and if the problem continues despite this support then tongue-tie division or frenulotomy is an option. You may be able to get an NHS referral from your local breastfeeding clinic or GP; hospitals providing this treatment are listed on the Baby Friendly website, however there are also private practitioners who will perform this for you and some of them are listed at the end of this article.

Should it be decided that a frenulotomy is necessary, the procedure is very simple and takes a few seconds.  Your baby is swaddled and held gently to keep the head still. The tongue-tie is snipped using sterile, sharp, round ended scissors without the need for an anaesthetic; your baby may feel a small amount of pain but will usually settle quickly and will be able to feed, indeed some babies actually sleep through the procedure!  There is usually very little bleeding and any oozing is controlled by applying pressure to the area with sterile gauze and encouraging feeding as soon as possible.

Good information on tongue tie can be found here on the Lactation Consultants GB website.


No two pregnancies are the same, so it is very important that you continue to look after yourself by eating and resting as much as you possibly can.  Remember this time you are also looking after your little one(s) too.  You may feel better or more tired this time around; and certainly having a toddler is hard work.  If your toddler sleeps then you should rest and not rush around doing housework!  If you are exhausted try asking a friend if they would have your toddler for a couple of hours so you can rest.  I can’t stress enough that you need to eat a good diet – ensure that you eat plenty of protein and iron rich foods.

You may notice that you “show” earlier second time around, this is because your tummy muscles have been stretched before and is quite normal.  You may also notice baby movements a little earlier because you know what you are looking for, but don’t worry if you don’t!

Some women say that they are anxious about labour second time around; if you had a difficult labour talk to your midwife about it – ask her what happened and why it happened and what are the chances of it happening again, however second births are usually much easier and shorter.  It is usual to be a bit anxious about labour – most women are, but remember you did it last time and you can do it again!

I think it is definitely worth attending childbirth classes if you can – I had four children and I went to classes each time – it gives you time to concentrate on this pregnancy and this new baby; and a birth plan is a great idea, second time around you are better prepared as you know what to expect, you know what you want and don’t want to happen so put it down into a birth plan and if you need advice speak to your midwife.

Successive reports have called for one-to-one care in labour as all outcomes are improved, for example women are more likely to have a normal birth if they receive one-to-one care.  However, to some women this means having the same midwife from booking, through the antenatal period, labour and birth and until postnatal discharge – this type of care may not be available in your area unless you employ an Independent Midwife

Consider having your baby at home, there are so many benefits, women usually have shorter and easier labours and this time you will be better able to read your body and can stay at home if you feel comfortable and relaxed and you won’t have to leave your first child whilst you are in hospital.  Staying upright and active will help with the contractions and also keep the baby in the best possible position for birth, but your body will tell you what you need to do; try to relax and have faith in the birthing process.

Women generally recover quicker second time around, this is partly because labour is usually quicker and easier – and also because being an experienced mother usually helps to establish feeding more quickly.

Unfortunately, the more babies you have, the stronger the after pains usually are – this is because your uterus is having to work harder to contract.  Ask for paracetamol which will help and is perfectly safe to take.

Remember that your other child(ren) will need extra love and reassurance – your new baby is much tougher than you think, try to involve the older sibling(s) in what you are doing and have patience – it is usual for children to regress a bit when they have a new baby in the house.  Accept any help that is offered and consider staying in your pyjamas for a few days – it shows that you are not at full strength.  I think women try too hard to be superwoman, just allow yourself some time to enjoy your new baby – they aren’t babies for long, although it sometimes feels like it when you are in the thick of it!

Another guest blog by Sarah:

Harlow Zen’s Birth Story

Harlow is my third baby having had Rohan 9 years previously and Nayt almost 8 years ago.  With Rohan I was induced at 10 days late, in hospital, with an epidural given as I was told he was back to back and it would be too painful, I ended up after 17 hours flat on my back, with a nasty tear and a pretty miserable painful experience to tell but a beautiful baby nonetheless.  I had Nayt 16 months later and keen to never set foot in a hospital again, we used 2 Independent Midwives and had an amazing natural home water birth, in less than 4 hours with no pain relief, no stitches and 23 days late! I was out and about within days, a completely different experience to my first. Both babies were reasonable sizes at 8lb 13oz and 9lb 2oz respectively.

With Harlow, because he was my husbands first and I was a bit rusty having had a good few years off baby making, we decided to use another Independent Midwife as the 1-2-1 care is like nothing else, and gives you the confidence that you will get the best birth outcome and overall experience possible, as they really get to know and understand you.  As my pregnancy progressed it was clear this baby was going to be on the large size, which I had kind of expected. I was advised to cut down on sugar but with a massive cake craving, this didn’t really happen, so I tried damage limitation by continuing to ride as long as I could and towards the end to swim daily and keep up with walking the dog.

I think my confidence in giving birth was knocked a bit towards the end because I had to have a series of late scans to check the placental position, as was slightly lying low at the 20 week scan. This showed up that at 34 weeks the baby was the size of a full term baby. I am reasonable at simple maths, and that added up to one BIG bubba!!

Because of this, I was told to expect an early baby. Unlike my other two pregnancies where I had no pre-labour signs whatsoever, I was starting to get runs of proper contractions about 3 weeks prior to my due date. I had so many signs in fact that I have decided there are no signs until the baby is literally crowning!! Along with contractions, I was nesting, had a show,  had a permanently bad tummy, babies head engaged….never happened to me before labour with the other two, bump shifted down….and then my due date came and went…and my bump un-engaged and shifted up!!!

On Tuesday 18th May after my husband Adam had taken the kids to school I started to get decent contractions. I really felt like today was the day. By midday they had gone, and annoyed I took my dog on a hill walk hoping to jolt the baby out with some gravity! Nothing! I was really sure that was it too, as my dog Phoebe had been all over protective, following me around and sleeping beside me wherever I went.

They started again around 11pm, but having sent our midwife numerous ‘I think its started’ texts over the last few weeks, decided to sleep on it.  At 1.55am Wednesday 19th May I woke up with a jolt as my waters literally burst all over the place. I managed eventually to wake my husband up who had fallen asleep on the sofa downstairs and after a massive clean up operation we called our midwife Valerie and she came out straight away.

The contractions had stopped but restarted around 3am and were roughly every 3 mins, reasonably painful (a 5-6) but not lasting too long. We all tried to get some sleep at 6am, but the contractions slowed down a lot.  By the time my kids woke up and we had agreed they could take the day off school, they were back to quite painful and we all thought finally ‘this is it!’. By about 9.30am I got into the birth pool my husband had busied himself filling and my labour ground to a halt and slowed down. My parents came and took the kids out for lunch as it was my Dads birthday, and gave me a bit of space and peace. At 1pm-ish we asked Valerie to examine me and I was disappointed to find I was barely dilated, and all that pain and hard work had merely helped Harlow to get into a better position.  Valerie left for home and me and Adam went for a walk, had some lunch and then at 5.20pm decided to get some sleep.  My kids were sent off to their rooms to watch a film.

At this point I was feeling despondent and was sure my pain threshold was rubbish. I started soon after to get contractions every 8-9 mins, lasting almost 2 mins and they were really painful. The peaks seemed to last for 40 seconds before subsiding. By almost 7pm I was crying and convinced I was still about 3 cm dilated.  I got very emotional and was convinced I would end up in hospital with a c-section. Adam was amazing and really supported me. He suggested we call Valerie, who had just text me. She came out with the entonox and as soon as she arrived I was getting the urge to push. I was on all fours and could not move into any other position…how I got downstairs I have no idea!!!

I managed to get downstairs and Adam re-filled the pool which we had drained down partially earlier.  I got in, and contractions were very close, strong and the peak lasted ages. Adam was great and helped me get the gas and air when I needed it, and provided emotional support as well as an arm for me to dig my nails in (sorry Adam!!), and Valerie helped me to get past the panicky ‘I cant do this’ with encouragement that I could really trust in.  At 8.20pm I could feel Harlow move down and he was born in the birth pool at 8.40pm. Valerie had called my kids down and they both watched their little brothers entrance into the world.

Harlow was born behind me, so with some jigging I was able to climb over my cord and hold him.  He cried a little and had a feed quite soon afterwards.  He was covered in vernix and his skin felt so soft.  He looked just like 3d scan picture and apparently my first words were ‘Hello Harlow’.  Adam cut the cord after it stopped pulsating and Valerie tied the cord with a cord tie I made specially for the event, and as I delivered the placenta naturally an hour later, Adam, and the kids had all taken turns to hold Harlow and make their introductions. It was the most special sight ever and something they will never forget, nor will I.

At 10.30pm we sent the kids to bed, and after a glass of champagne with Valerie; myself, Adam and Harlow settled down for our first night together. Perfect.

We were all a bit shocked that Harlow tipped the scales at 10lb 6oz, and I got away with a tiny tear and a graze and no stitches!! It was a more painful labour than Nayts birth, and the longest overall labour, but an amazing experience that 5 days after the event makes me ask ‘when can I do it again’???.