Monday, May 26, 2008

Orgasmic Birth

Is it time women in the UK had the option of an ORGASMIC BIRTH?


With the alarming rise in Caesareans, as much as 34-50% in some London hospitals, many women will welcome the film 'Orgasmic Birth' as a ray of hope in a culture where medicalised births are becoming the norm.

Orgasmic Birth is a call for a revolution in birthing practices. A mother and child are inextricably connected on the physical and emotional journey they share during the pregnancy and birth. Science has now documented that our children are conscious and aware in the womb and at birth and they experience pain and pleasure as well.

How we birth our children matters. Are we displaying loving care for their sensitive nature and emotional intelligence or has mechanical and chemical intervention become the norm. These issues are at the very core of our culture and are part of the make-up of relationships, families, governments and society.

For a woman to experience an “Orgasmic Birth” is not a coincidence, nor is it about the big “O”. It is the result of the nature of the care she receives, her feeling safe and her being able to trust her body and the process of birth. This can come about through enculturation, education, environment and non-interfering support. Research now tells us what the best environment is for birth that will allow a woman’s body to birth naturally, even pleasurably.
When will we listen?

UK Premiere is on 29 May London followed by screenings across the UK. Currently scheduled in Glasgow, 4 June (in conjunction with the International Congress of Midwives), 12 June Brighton, Birmingham, Cambridge and Oxford and more soon to follow. These screenings are charity fundraisers benefiting AIMS, Doula UK, Fathers-To-Be, Fatherhood Institute, MIDIRS and NCT.

Orgasmic Birth’s Director, Debra Pascali-Bonaro is available for interview by phone and appointment.

She will also be in London 28&29 May and is available for TV/Radio appearances.
A preview clip is available on
Please access website to download more press details:

There are some great talking points on this subject with parents, midwives, doulas, doctors, antenatal educators, medical and health experts and sociologists. We have interviewees lined up in many of these areas.
Press contact: Patrick Houser:01892 890 614/07814040838

Information below(and attached) for screenings in London, Glasgow and Brighton
Please feel free to forward to friends and colleagues.

UK Film Screenings of ‘ORGASMIC BIRTH’
A documentary that examines the intimate nature of birth and the powerful role it plays in parent’s lives when they are permitted to experience it.

Powerful, passionate and thought provoking, with commentary by a dozen pre-eminent health professionals and many couples who share their birthing journey, Orgasmic Birth dismantles untruths about labour and birth that women have been told for generations. The women in this film are transfigured and transformed with the power of their own bodies.

Thursday 29 May London

Reception: 18:30 PM Hors d'oeuvres buffet included (cash bar/drinks)
Film: 19:15 PM Panel discussion to follow screening
Venue: Baden-Powell House, 65-67 Queen’s Gate, South Kensington, London

Debra Pascali-Bonaro, the film's director, will introduce the screening and afterwards
be part of a panel discussion with leading UK birth educators.

Tickets for this unique event are
Available at
A preview clip of this amazing film is available at

Proceeds to benefit AIMS, Doula UK, MIDIRS, NCT, Fathers-To-Be and Fatherhood Institute

In conjunction with the International Congress of Midwives
Wednesday 4 June
Welcome: 5:45 PM (Cash bar and snacks available)
Film: 6:15 PM
Venue: Glasgow Film Theatre, 12 Rose Street, Glasgow

Tickets £10
Available at
Also at the ICM, Waterbirth International Stand 118
(and at the door)
01892 890614
Proceeds to benefit AIMS, Doula UK, MIDIRS, NCT, Fathers-To-Be and Fatherhood Institute

Thursday 12 June
Welcome: 7:00 PM
Film: 7:30 PM
Venue: Friends Meeting House, Ship St., Brighton
Panel discussion to follow the screening
Tickets £10
Available at
01892 890 614
Proceeds to benefit AIMS, Doula UK, MIDIRS, NCT, Fathers-To-Be and Fatherhood Institute
Additional screenings are scheduling for
Birmingham TBA; Cambridge TBA plus...

If your organisation would like to host a screening please contact us.
Orgasmic Birth Film Screenings are an excellent opportunity for fundraising.

Research shows: Men who respond to impending fatherhood by reflecting on the way they were parented produce happier children.Fathers Make a World of Difference!Now available, Fathers-To-Be HandbookPlease enjoy

Breastfeeding Love In Action

A story to warm your heart! The breastfeeding heart knows no bounds.

It also reminds me of another story I heard recently about a lady in Africa who breastfeeds 17 orphans a day in an orphanage. It's worth noting that she never had children of her own...kinda makes you question this big western myth of insufficient milk syndrome when a woman who has never had the hormonal responses to activate lactation can breastfeed so many children, so beautifully, day in and day out. It confirms everything I believe about breastfeeding ~ that it comes from the heart and that any woman with intact breasts CAN breastfeed, if she opens her heart.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Breastfeeding: Humanity's code for peace, passion and partnership

For those mums and dads who'd hoped to come to my Manchester talk (may 22) but couldn't because an evening was difficult with young children, well, due to requests for a daytime slot, we changed it to June 1st ~ a sunday, at 3.30pm - 5.30pm which seems to be much better for most families. Hope to see you there.

It's being held in the city centre and you can book tickets from the Art of Change. or phone 01342 823 809

Groups of five or more (or unemployed) £6 each
TM subscribers £7.50
Full price £8.50

Please note this is a 'ticket only' event.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Continuum concept and fine dining

Today's cuppa: Fancy joining me for a brew of lemongrass tea?

In my late teens, I worked for a professional babysitting agency in Adelaide, South Australia. My jobs were mostly for new parents who wanted to leave their newborn babe with a complete stranger (me!!) and go out for dinner. As one mum said to me, ‘where’s the romance in dirty nappies?’

When my girls were babies they were constantly with me, ROMANCING in my arms ‘continuum’ style, and sleeping in the family bed. I took my role as a parent very seriously and simply would never have abandoned my girls by leaving them with a babysitter ~ regardless of whether that person was a stranger or my best friend.

I made meals with my girls in the front pack, and they sat in my lap or their dad’s as we ate our meals.

When I became a mum to two children under the age of two, I would pop them in bed beside each other and breastfeed them to sleep. Most nights we’d eat at the table first, but occasionally Paul and I would enjoy fine dining while the girls slept. By fine dining I mean we ordered Indian take-away. We would sit on the end of the family bed and eat our dinner by candle light to the soundtrack of our precious daughters’ breaths. It would never have occurred to me to leave a tiny baby sleeping in a room without an adult there. Parenting IS romantic, if we choose it to be so; if we allow ourselves to truly fall in love with the creations we’ve invited Earthside. It’s a very romantic journey if you don’t take your life partner for granted, and you take each day as a sacred opportunity to give thanks for all that you are and all that you have. If you make magic in your marriage you don’t need to go out to dinner and leave your babies behind. Absenting yourself from your baby won’t fix your marriage if it looks like Swiss cheese.

Our culture sees my attitude to parenting as completely over the top, but I simply followed my heart. I imagined what it would be like for a little baby to wake up and not have a familiar heart beat or face or smell or touch. I imaged how unstable her world would feel and how she’d have to cry or scream to be ‘heard’. So I never left my babies in situations where they would for one minute feel unsafe. Our night-time parenting is every bit as important as our visible daytime parenting.

But in all those years I never felt like I was sacrificing myself or my life. I willingly obeyed my heart’s calling and listened to the inner prompts which encouraged me to nurture, nourish and protect my babies.

Paul and I have never gone out to a restaurant without our daughters. We’ve never felt the need to. Last night, while eating at the world’s finest restaurant, the dining memories of our early parenting years came flooding back in a joyful rush. I remembered, with love, all the bedside dinners and how the gifts we give our children are truly priceless. We may not always see how important our presence is at the time, but if we simply trust in our children and ourselves we’ll never have cause to doubt our parenting.

My Continuum Concept ‘babies’ are big girls now. Bethany is 12 and Eliza is 10.

Last night they took us out to dinner. Where did we go? Nowhere and everywhere! Home and away…

Bethany transformed the dining table with a cloth and brought in flowers from the garden ~ bluebells, daffodils and twigs of eucalyptus. She brought to the table a candelabra with locally-made beeswax candles. With table set, she poured Elderflower Presse into her late Nana’s recycled wine glasses and then seated Paul and I. She serenaded us by playing Moon River on her violin. And Eliza, resident chef, brought in our first course ~ Greek Salad ~ abundant with rocket and other mixed baby green leaves, kalamata olives and cherry tomatoes in flaxseed oil and lemon dressing.

Bethany then played Für Elise on the piano as Eliza served us her vegan Moussaka (recipe in issue 29 of The Mother, July/August 2008). That girl is a genius with food!

I’ve been overwhelmed by gratitude for many, many things in my life lately, and last night was just one more example of the richness I find in my days. I keep asking myself, ‘how did I get so lucky?’

The Continuum Concept years haven’t ended. They’ve evolved. I don’t carry my daughters in my arms any more, and they now have their own beds, but Paul and I still carry them ‘energetically’ in how we live our lives.

Being present for our children ~ REALLY present ~ is one of the greatest gifts they’ll ever receive. Our children are sponges for love and affection. When we enjoy the opportunities which are always available, we find abundance dancing through every cell of our being. It’s an abundance you won’t find in a bank account. It’s a richness of heart.

Have a gorgeous week
~ Veronika ~

Tea Leaves

A reader of this blog asked me the other day what tea I’m drinking as I’ve not been mentioning it in my entries. Oooops! Sorry. I’m mostly drinking water at the moment with a slice of lemon and a spring of spearmint from the herb garden, but I still love my fennel tea by day and the occasional valerian tea before bed.

I have two baskets with an assortment of teas so I shall remember to scour them for something tasty to share in blogland. For now, though, I'm about to make a juice or two for my goes beautifully with this hot weather. Mmm, carrot and celery and later apple with spearmint.

The ideal life

I was chatting on the phone to a friend down south the other day and asked her what her ideal life looked like. “YOURS!” she said. I laughed out loud. It’s funny how different other people’s lives look and also how sometimes it takes someone else’s view of our life to help us see it in a new light. My friend longed for a cottage in Cumbria.

Most people in our culture wouldn’t aspire to my life as it doesn’t represent the ‘currency’ valued in our society. I don’t have the fancy car, big fat mortgage, sizzling career, bi-lingual nanny and kids in independent school.

What I do have are two healthy and happy girls, a soul mate and best friend, and a work/life balance that few people ever achieve. I am writing these words by birdsong in the delicious heat of this glorious spring (early summer!). My little cottage, and the past nine years of what society would call ‘dead’ money by paying rent, has given me almost a decade of constant holiday in the heart of the countryside.

I am able to grow my own vegetables and herbs. Today as I walked around the garden I marvelled at the blueberry bushes, now in their 3rd year, absolutely heaving with baby berries. Ditto the gooseberries, strawberries, black currants, black berries, cherries, pears. ..and the plums and applies will yield a gorgeous crop too.

Here at the base of the Pennines I enjoy my life’s journey, a mere stepping stone in my soul’s evolution. I’m constantly aware of the blessed life I live and how very different things could have been had I made different choices along the path.

This amazing weather over the past week or so has seen us increase our daily three mile walk to two 3 mile walks a day. Together we marvel at the incredible beauty around us ~ birds, butterflies, bees, trees, baby rabbits, sunshine. This morning we walked through the woods, thick with bluebells, and down to the Eden river. People pay money to holiday in places like this and here it is on my doorstep 24/7.

I encourage my daughters to fully absorb the incredible power and energy in the earth, sky, sun and plant life around us. These days are precious. Eastern mystics tell us that ‘life is an illusion’. I’m loving this illusion and feeding off this Earth’s energy like a ravenous beggar. Daily, I’m nourishing myself with soul-food. And for that I give thanks. If that is what an ideal life looks like, then yes, I've got it!

Two million bananas????

I had the strangest experience the other day. I popped into a local village shop a few miles away and noticed that in the fruit and veg section, the only bananas on display were green ones. There were a dozen really ripe ones in a box on the floor to be thrown away. I couldn’t believe it!

I put them in my basket and when I went to pay for my goods the assistant said I couldn’t have them because they were rotten. “Er, no they are not. They’re ripe. Beautifully sweet in smoothies” I said. She was adamant that she’d take them away and get me some from the shelf. “Um, NO..they’re green. I don’t want them I want these”. She was beside herself.

A short time after leaving the shop I heard on the radio the ongoing debate about how much stuff Britons throw out each week. Among *our* rubbish were 2 million bananas. My bet is that most of those bananas COULD have been used…in smoothies, icecreams, cakes…all sorts of things!

Apparently we throw out a third of our food each week. Not in this house we don’t! I’m intrigued as to what people throw out and can only assume that it is processed stuff with use-by dates.

As my family’s diet relies on fresh fruit and vegetables there isn’t anything to throw out! We buy our seeds, nuts, etc., in bulk through Suma, the wholefood co-operative. Such things have quite a long shelf life so there’s no problem about getting through them.

I started buying organic food consistently about nine years ago. I do believe that, because organic stuff is more expensive than chemically grown food, I have an attitude of reverence for the meals we eat. I simply wouldn’t pay good money for food and then throw it out. I’m not that insane!

I’ve spent years growing vegetables and because I know how much time they take to grow, and the nurturing required to yield a good crop, again, I simply wouldn’t take any fruit or vegetable for granted.

The disposal mentality of our culture is widespread. We throw out food, nappies, formula milk tins…and the list goes on. We’ve a lot to learn from indigenous cultures about having an eco-consciousness.

Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Breastfeeding Awareness Week is with us ~ 11th – 17th May 2008

This week I’m speaking in Birmingham at a conference for breastfeeding experts. This year’s theme for the week is ‘every drop counts’.

We need to bear this in mind when people around suggest we wean before our child is ready.

I’d love to hear from you if you’re doing anything to promote breastfeeding awareness.

My freckles have names

The locals are dropping off like flies as the temperature here in Cumbria warms up to rather delicious standards for my body. I don’t use sun block and don’t use it on my children. Raised in Australia where the mantra is ‘slip, slop, slap’ to get everyone using sunblock, I was the eternal rebel.

For me, holistic sun protection is about recognising how important the sun is to the human body and not to be afraid of it. Sensible sun protection means gradually building up your exposure to the rays. It means using a hat or long sleeves or sitting in the shade.

We’ve been indoctrinated to see sun block as protection from the sun….it’s time we connect the dots and see that those countries which use it the most actually have the highest rates of skin cancer! Time to think again?

If you really want to protect your skin there are two key things you can do

[] avoid wearing sunglasses unless necessary (like driving into the sunset) as the brain receives a message that it is ‘dark’ and won’t send messages to your skin to ‘deal’ with the sun

[] avoid unnatural fats in your diet. Studies show that when we have fried foods this affects our skin’s ability to deal with the sun. stick to fresh raw foods as much as you can and avoid fried foods.

Compulsory vaccination for the UK ~ speak now to protect our children

Rumour has it that the government want to introduce compulsory vaccination in the UK.

All I can say is “not in my bloody lifetime!”

If you’re concerned by this Big Brother threat then I urge you to scour your back issues of The Mother and send copies of Joanna Karpasea-Jones’ vaccine articles to your local MP and get him off his butt to stop this nonsense!

Call for vaccine opt-out penalty

"Tough sanctions are being proposed for parents who refuse routine vaccinations, such as MMR." …as reported by BBC news yesterday.

Labour MP Mary Creagh said "children should have to prove they are vaccinated before they start school to improve uptake of MMR".Should we trust British politicians with our children's health:- ( I don’t!!!)

British Government's Reckless Disregard for Child Health SafetyThe Hannah Poling Case
autism and other health problems from vaccines for British childrenSir Sandy's medical contemporaries behind the Wakefield witchhuntStrong Evidence Vaccines Cause Autism - A Population Level Rechallenge in JapanRisk to Children & Government Scaremongering

Fundamental rights

I heard recently about someone saying that The Mother magazine is too fundamental. Darn right we are! She felt that The Continuum Concept wasn’t really practical for most people.

The in-arms phase
is fundamental
to our lifelong health and wellbeing.

Parents may be too selfish, ignorant or neglectful to parent in a continuum fashion, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t vital for the child. It is absolutely fundamental to them. As for practical, well, personally, I think that is just an excuse. So yes, I agree, The Mother magazine is fundamental. And there’s a reason for that: our children need ‘fundamental’ child rearing.

Monday, May 05, 2008

WAHM ~ what it means to me to be a work-at-home-mother

I knew that I wanted to be a writer long before I had children. In fact, I was a child myself when I made that decision. I was blessed to have a mother who stayed at home with her children for my entire childhood. It’s a gift which will stay with me for my lifetime. It’s something that I now consider so priceless I’m in awe of the life path she chose.

My mother was (still is!!) amazing. She ‘worked’ from dawn to way beyond dusk each day...not in a paid profession, but as a mother. She spent hours making us a beautiful home and a massive edible garden, growing a huge number of trees so we could be self-sufficient. We had olives, avocados, paypaya,figs, carob trees and all the fruit trees imaginable. My youngest brother’s placenta was buried under the pear tree, and boy, did that tree yield some incredible fruit!

She always learnt new skills and was able to build us amazing structures in the garden from wood; she made us a flying fox, and lovely doll houses, castles and so on. One of the things I most love about my childhood is that my mum actually WANTED to be with us…she played with us. We felt this genuine affection and care. I remember once we were all playing hide and seek in the garden (and the garden was a few acres so the ‘seeking’ bit of the game could take a while) and we just couldn’t find her anywhere! Turned out that she was under the upside down wheelbarrow! I remember at the time thinking my mum was a genius. Move over Einstein.

My mother sewed me gorgeous dresses and dolls. And yet, while blessing our lives with her talents and skills she also fulfilled her own needs by studying various philosophies and esoteric traditions. My mum would rise at about 4am and do yoga on the lawn, then meditate and squeeze fresh orange juice for all of us when we woke up. Our house was always clean and tidy. I don’t think she ever watched a daytime soap. In fact, she never just ‘sat’ in front of tv when it was on...nope, the ironing board was out, or clothes were mended.

My mum managed to do all this and look after a 700 acre property single-handedly. Having land in the Australian bush is no easy job. Bore pumps break down, horses get hurt, droughts cause damage, etc.

She was, in essence, a single mum who raised eight children. My dad worked overseas for months at a time…and was only ever home briefly. To me, she was a superwoman. From my mum I learnt that women can do ANYTHING.

I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I wanted to stay with my children too when I became a mother. In my childhood mind I figured that being a writer would enable me to ‘work’ and still be with my children especially if I ended up becoming a single mum or my husband died. The reality, as I’ve since found out, is that you can’t write when your children are around. Writing involves being able to follow through on a train of thought without being interrupted by “can I have this…can I have that…can we…” Writing, for me, is something to do when the house is clean, the children are asleep and there are NO distractions.

Bethany was six and Eliza was four when I began editing The Mother magazine. I’d written some children’s stories before that time and Cycle to the Moon (at night while they lay sleeping) but I had spent their early years as a stay at home mum ~ and unlike many mothers who claim they had to go back to work because motherhood was boring, I simply never found that. I thoroughly enjoyed their company and the little lasses always kept me on my toes…there was simply no room for boredom. We’ve always spent a lot of time going out for walks, first when we lived in New Zealand and Australia (where the weather is far friendlier!!) and for the past nine years here in the north of England.

I’d been lent a copy of Compleat Mother, a natural birth, pregnancy and breastfeeding magazine published out of Canada, which felt like ‘coming home’. It gave me a real sense of community when I first came to the UK. When the founder, Catherine Young, died of breast cancer, I felt moved to start a magazine to continue the light she’d held for many years. I’m pleased to say Compleat Mother is still going strong to this day.

The Mother magazine is an entity in its own right with a broader base of articles (covering health, education, finance, ecology, global citizenship, etc) but our ethos is similar.

Being a work at home mother is a completely different kettle of fish to being a stay at home mother. I simply couldn’t do what I’m doing now if I had little kids. I WOULDN’T do what I’m doing now if I had a baby or toddler. I feel it would be cruel to the mother-child bond. A blog reader asked me the other day why I never had more children. I get an enormous amount of satisfaction in ‘producing’ a magazine every two months…it’s like a little birth each time and I never fail to be excited when I pick another copy hot off the press. If I was to have another child I would no longer ‘work’ …whether on this magazine or writing books, doing talks, etc., while the child was young. Clearly I wouldn’t sit on the sofa all day (unless I was breastfeeding continuum-raised triplets!) ~ my in-arms baby would learn about my ‘work’ life from being with me in the garden or around the home or village or in town.

But my life as a magazine editor involves putting myself into the ‘artificial’ and unhealthy electromagnetic world of a computer onto a daily and regular basis. Although we don’t have broadband (and are probably the only house in the UK to still have dial up LOL and I certainly would never have wi-fi, the exposure of the computer isn’t something I’d inflict on a baby or child. As anyone who’s read The Drinks Are On Me will know, I’m very concerned about the rise in the number of women who NAK (nurse at keyboard) for this reason.

My girls are of an age where they disappear for hours on end doing their own projects and activities and playing with their friends in the village. It’s in those times that I ‘work’, or, more often than not, I wait until they’re asleep at night (that’s getting trickier now they’re older and protest at their ‘early’ bed time of 9pm ~ “but the sun hasn’t even set!”).

Life’s infinitely easier now that I’m no longer dealing with administration, publishing, mail outs etc…and for that I’m enormously grateful to The Art of Change for being partners in the business.

Working from home means I can spend all day in my PJs if I want (I don’t!). It means I can have a cup of fennel tea or piece of fruit when my body wants it, rather than a boss imposing eating and drinking times on me. It means I can hang the washing out when the sun makes an appearance. Working from home means that I can check emails while Eliza is cooking (she doesn’t like anyone in the kitchen while she’s creating) or Bethany is playing the violin or piano. It means I’m with my growing daughters full-time and we can enjoy long walks along the fields by the fell (hills) or dip into the woodland or picnic at the local stone circle. It means I can create my own working hours.

It also means my children don’t have to miss out on being able to ask me questions when the urge arises, or if they have other needs to be met.

Working from home means that my family and I can find a great work/life balance that works for all of us. My husband now works from home with me which means after all these years I have the space and time to actually write (and not just edit other people’s writing) as the girls have another parent available for when I’m not, and the same goes for when I need to pop away for a lecture/workshop.

I don’t regret the choices I made, and nor does my husband. I don’t pine for a career I could have had if I’d stayed in the media after giving birth. Actually, becoming a mother has completely opened my eyes to what a manipulative and bullying industry it can be.

I love the work I do and being in ‘ethical media’, but the bottom line is that my children come first. They know this. Both girls fully support me in my life’s work and recognise the importance of showing women and men how to empower themselves. Neither of them want me to stop what I am doing.
For all the hours I spend on The Mother magazine and related projects, I think of myself first and foremost as a stay at home mother, rather than a working mother.

Every mother is a working mother, whether she chooses a career or not.


~ Veronika ~