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Tory talks.... Calmbirth


Generally speaking, childbirth and parenting comes along with a generous serving of opinions and advice, some of it relevant, most of scary and daunting. This is why, I always preface my ‘advice’ with the most obvious yet rarely disclosed statement of ‘this is what worked for me.’ In saying that, CalmBirth was one of those experiences, I strongly implore people to consider very carefully…and by consider I really mean, do it.


The reason for my strong support of Calmbirth, is not shares in the company, it’s that I genuinely believe everyone has something to gain from the experience. My personal benefit came in the form of control. Throughout the course of the pregnancy experience, I was repeatedly reminded of how little I had to do with what was happening to me. Numerous mums told me that I shouldn’t bother with a birth plan because it was out of my control, the day I would go into labour and even if I’d actually go into labour was out of my control  then Drs told me that specific changes to my body and the pregnancy symptoms I would experience were out of my control. Not something easily absorbed by a control freak.

Enter Calmbirth. Don’t get me wrong…I had it pegged as some hippy, weird Lamaze deal, it was founded in Byron Bay after all! My gorgeous friend talked me into it and I will be forever grateful. It’s not remotely hippy and most certainly not some speed breathing race with other mums.

Calmbirth is a technique devised to give women their control back. Sure, we can’t pick the date or the circumstances but we can sure as hell chose what we do with them. After a very thorough, without being graphic, explanation of exactly what’s going to happen to you every step of the way, you will be armed with options and techniques to help with each phase. Notice I used the plural tense for options and techniques. There isn’t one solution, there are multiple so you can change and adapt to whatever works for you. The premise heavily relies on a form of meditation. You will learn visualizations skills supported by audio meditations. This is coupled with breathing, positions and yoga moves and supported by the use of the techniques the hospital will invariably supply also. There is also some pretty compelling evidence to support some actions you can avoid to promote an easier situation rather than a stressful one.

As the name suggests, Calmbirth rests on the ideals that if we can manage to stay as mentally calm and relaxed as possible for as long as possible then it allows the body to take over and do what it knows how to do. It takes into account people’s personal choices like water birth (obviously a recommended method) but also a hospital birth and offers solutions for all possibilities.

Of course this all sounds wonderful as long as you can manage to deliver naturally right? I know people who have used this technique during cesareans, natural labours and induced labours. No matter what situation they found themselves in, they managed to draw on the options and solutions they had to chose from to apply to them, walking away with what they all described as ‘positive experiences’. Suddenly the time it took or the method they used/were forced into using bared no impact on their perception of the experience.

Calmbirth gave me a skill that suddenly gave me a sense of control and determination. I went from approaching the birth date with apprehension, fear and concern and suddenly saw it as something I could have a say in. Even if things changed and I had to adapt, I was still equipped with skills to deal with it and that was a game changer.

If you’re interested in learning more, check out this dynamic Midwife-Yoga Teacher duo. With such an extensive background between them, you not only get a well-rounded view of everything but a few little extra gems of information as well!

Great natural products for mama

So, as you know I am always flagging products that I think are great for baby. There is a special place in my heart for products that are chemical free - natural.  

But what about mama???  I have posted before about quitting all my creams and potions while I was pregnant. This was when I discovered Rose Hip Oil which is now my one and only everything (plus a wash cloth and water!)

And I have mentioned that I moved the whole family to WOTNOT sun protection which is just amazing. 

Well, recently, my amazing osteo recommended I check out a great site - an online store run out of Sydney called :

They pretty much carry all the skincare and make up you could possible want.  They put it through a rigorous screening to make sure that it meets their natural standard.  You can buy vegan, non toxic, natural, gluten free - check out their buying policy, it's a great read. 

In the words of my osteo: "Her standard is super high with having to be toxic free and natural which I love because I know I can trust anything she puts on there 100%." 


And - no they are not super expensive and unaffordable.  I think you will be really surprised!

And... yes they do stock for baby as well.


Skin care products for baby

Skin care products for baby

The other day new parents to a beautiful baby boy asked me about skincare.  They had heard that J&J did not have a good reputation and wanted to know what else was out there.  So, I thought it might be useful to share...

newborn baby

To preface - the vast majority of baby products are laden with chemicals.  (As are adult products.) Not only is it difficult to understand, but most of them you can't even pronounce. It takes patience and time to find natural products that work for you and your baby. Everyone is different and every product works differently. The only way to know is to test, unfortunately.

As with anything, check with your doctor if rashes or other skin conditions are not getting better.


My approach has been to limit, in general, how much I put on Caitlin's skin.  Mother Nature knows best is my approach...  I use products on a needs basis, which is sporadically.  We all have natural oils in our bodies that we produce as necessary. When you need an oil for either baby massage or to condition dry skin try Almond Kernel Oil, Avocado Oil and even Olive Oil. Gaia have an organic oil which is produced from multiple oils.

If you need to use powder - buy the natural variety which generally contains cornstarch.


Side Note:  If you are using standard powder on your baby - make sure that you don't use it around the genital area, especially for girls.  Has been linked to ovarian cancer.


It was at bath time that I finally found something that would work on her skin rashes - chamomile tea.  So, basically buy loose tea, put 3-4 heaped teaspoons into a cup and make it with boiling water as you normally would.  Leave it there for 10-30mins. Then add the tea through a strainer into your baby's bath, i.e. you don't want bits of tea floating in there.  This helps ease heat rashes and nappy rash for Caitlin.  I always have it in the house now!

I love the smell of lavender in the bath - I have used J&J Bathtime in the bath. I love the smell and a tiny amount in the bath is enough. But unfortunately J&J is far from natural. I also used the Gaia sleeptime bath which was also good (and organic). The one flaw with Gaia is that it is not as aromatic as J&J Bathtime, but I wonder if a drop of lavender oil in the bath wouldn't do the trick? 

I have also used the QV Bath Oil which came highly recommended by a number of people but I'm not sure how much of a difference it really makes to her skin and it contains products that are not recommended - its ingredients are parabens and petrochemical based.  

Nothing beats the Chamomile Tea for Caitlin.

One of my favourite products to use in the bath, which I have already shared on this blog before - the Konjac natural sponge.  Love it. 



I have been experimenting in the baby wipes area and am happy to report that I have found the most amazing wipes.  Bambeco wipes are not only natural but also biodegradable.  I order them in bulk online.  I have tried a lot (although not WOTNOT as yet) and Bambeco it is.  The reason why I like them is because:

  • they are strong without being overly thick;
  • they are gentle but effective cleaners;
  • they are moist but not soggy;
  • and the fact that they are bamboo, with natural ingredients is a major plus for me.

Nappies & Nappy Rash

I have a graveyard of nappy rash products - none of which have worked except for Amolin and the chamomile tea bath.  Let me say though - they work at the very early stages of rash and on mild rash only.  Once it has taken hold - which happened when the teeth were coming through - the only thing that helped was Hydrozole. A few days and it was all clear.  Hydrozole is a cortisone based cream and should not be used on an ongoing basis. Before using something like this on your baby, check with your doctor.

If you are concerned about chemicals on your baby's skin look no further than the average disposable nappy. (And don't even get me started on mattresses and cotton). We have written about nappy options in the past - find it here. There are a lot of factors which need to be considered but generally, for many reasons, cloth is best. 


Make sure to gently brush baby's head (or hair if they have any) from early on.  It helps clear oils which can build up and cause cradle cap.  So a bit of gentle brushing with a soft haired brush everyday. If cradle cap does develop, don't worry it's nothing serious, all you need to buy is a special brush & glove set which you use during bath time. It doesn't take long, and easy to do, and gets rid of it quite quickly.  It may come back but just keep using the brush set.  

For shampoo/body wash I have used Aveeno and Gaia.  Much of a muchness in terms of result.  Aveeno claim natural but the ingredients label on the back tells a different story.  Gaia is organic and easily available.




Last but not least - sunscreen.  The chemicals in sunscreen are a shocker - and have been linked to cancers and skin conditions.  Solve one problem create another 10....  I bought WOTNOT natural sunscreen originally for Caitlin but we have all now started using it.  


So there you have it - this is my list.  There are of course other products.  My list may not work for you, but I hope that it gives you a starting point. There are some great shops around now that stock organic and better for baby products, like Little Green Footprints & Nourished Life.

On a final note, I know it seems like a lot, so my suggestion is go step by step if it's all too much.  If you want to make a major change to baby's exposure to chemicals then start with one or more of the products that spend the most time on or near the baby's skin -  nappies, under clothing, mattress or skincare products.

And, if you want to be more careful with chemicals around the baby, look at the home cleaning chemicals as well - including the dish washing liquid.  There are a great natural alternatives.  Check out our older posts here.

Playing favourites... Konjac Sponge

A while back – at the baby show, we purchased the Kuu Konjac sponge, a natural sponge derived from Konjac root plant. 

We bought it to trial it.  At the show the representative told us that it is a biodegradable product that actually degrades as you use it. So we bought it to trial it, to see whether it lives up to the story.  In short – it does.  It’s a great product. Great for soft baby skin.  And we were told it would start to degrade after 3 months, which it did, but it only really become unusable after 5 months of bathing baby every day. 

You can get more information from the manufacturer website, but to give you a quick summary:

  • 100% natural
  • Free from colours, additives and preservatives
  • Biodegradable
  • Very gentle on baby’s soft skin
  • Very soft once water has been absorbed, but dries hard

Frankly it’s not cheap.  $8,95 for one sponge.  But I certainly think it’s worth it.

Tips & bits... Mattress selection

cot mattress

Everyone always says buying a great mattress is a great investment in you.  We should spend a lot of time sleeping. And good back support, comfort and “snug” all make for a great night sleep.  So for a baby - whose bones and spine are developing, who spends most of the day and night on her back; and who spends most hours of the day and night sleeping – can you imagine how important it is to get a great mattress?

This is one area that you don’t want to be cutting corners. And you certainly don’t want pre-loved.   

There are three basic types of mattresses – inner spring, foam and natural.  Natural can also be organic but not necessarily.

There is more and more being written about the dangers lurking in mattresses, particularly frightening for babies.  Inner spring and foam mattresses are synthetic and can be made from petrochemicals and formaldehyde which are at best irritants to skin and allergy causing at worst carcinogens and responsible for immune dysfunction. The off gassing produced by these mattresses is not ideal for babies developing immune and nervous systems.

Natural mattresses are most commonly made of latex. (Make sure its natural latex not synthetic.) And some mattresses use coconut coir.  If you are going to the effort and expense of buying a natural mattress, make sure that the cover you use on it is organic.  Cotton is one the most pesticide laden crops (2nd I believe, after coffee) and off gassing occurs even after washing. 

Do your research and buy as well as you can. If inner spring is the best that you can afford, invest in an organic cover and bed sheets. At least that way there is a safe barrier between the mattress and your baby.

Here are some basic things to look out for when buying a mattress:

  • Must be firm – this is one of the most important factors when choosing a mattress. 
  • Must fits to the cots edges – product safety Australia regulates (maximum 20 mm from any cot side or end when centred on the mattress base; 40 mm when the mattress is pushed to one side or end.)
  • Buy new - bacteria, mites and mould are a danger with old mattresses. 
  • Sturdy edges - to minimise chance of child getting trapped between bed and mattress
  • Hypo-allergenic - Any allergies in family – e.g. to wool or latext?
  • Check for breathability – particularly in hotter climates
  • Weight – foam is lighter and therefore easier to change in the middle of the night.  Make sure that what you buy you can easily move around
  • How many coils – generally more coils may mean more support (but not always).  The quality of the coils is also important.  ( define "About 135 to 150 is a good midrange.")  Check for firmness – this is the absolute key.
  • Price – foam is generally cheaper – but think about this.  Your child will be spending a lot of time on this particular purchase.  A lot of time when the back and the body is developing and growing. This is not the purchase to save on. You don’t need the most expensive, but you need good quality from a reliable company.  And this is one purchase you want to look at carefully.
  • With inner spring mattresses warn that beware of the insulator pads (which keep the coils in) – “the lowest-quality insulator pads are made from woven polyester.” Coir fibre, hard felt and fibre-wrap pads are best.
  • Always get a protective cover  - water resistant or waterproof – make sure it is a firm fit to the mattress and buy organic if you can which means it will be water resistant not water proof.

As with anything to do with our babies, we want to do the best we can within our means.  I wish I could buy top of the range all of the time, but that simply is not my reality and I am sure I am not alone.  So my objective with any purchase is to get the  best that my money can buy and find ways to make it better in ways that is within my reach.

And the other thing to keep in mind is that you can always put some money aside - plan for it - if it's a big purchase.  Baby won't need a cot mattress for a while, if you have a bassinet, giving you some extra time to put away a little bit of money.