The following alphabetised list gives details about each of the services/categories of support offered on the Nurturing Birth Directory.
Acupuncture is a treatment derived from ancient Chinese medicine in which fine needles are inserted at certain sites in the body for therapeutic or preventative purposes. Treatment can stimulate nerves under the skin and in muscle tissue. This results in the body producing pain-relieving substances, such as endorphins. It is likely these substances are responsible for any beneficial effects seen with this form of acupuncture. Traditional acupuncture is based on the belief that an energy, or “life force”, flows through the body in channels called meridians. This life force is known as Qi (pronounced “chee”). Practitioners who adhere to traditional beliefs about acupuncture believe that when Qi does not flow freely through the body, this can cause illness. They also believe acupuncture can restore the flow of Qi, and so restore health. [Back to top]
Antenatal teachers provide individual or group sessions, which may cover the following topics:
- The pregnant body and changes
- What happens during labour and birth
- Comfort measures for pregnancy, labour and birth
- Health, lifestyle and diet in pregnancy and beyond
- Multiple births
- Role of the partner
- Preparing for life with a new baby
- Caring for a newborn
- Relaxation techniques
- Emotions surrounding pregnancy, birth and the early postnatal period
Courses will vary according to the type of antenatal course training the teacher has undertaken, and personal philosophy. Investigate and choose a course appropriate to your own personal beliefs and requirements. Some courses may be more medicalised, whilst others may take a more holistic approach. [Back to top]
Baby Massage Teacher
Baby Massage teachers run groups or individual classes for parents of infants, usually from 6 weeks onwards. Baby massage promotes positive touch and interaction between the adult and baby, encouraging bonding and trust, and reducing postnatal depression. It can provide soothing relaxation for both adult and child as well as specific techniques to relieve common baby issues such as colic, constipation and teething discomfort. Baby massage instructors teach soft touch techniques to the adult, which can be used at home and for as long as the child is willing to participate. [Back to top]
Playful interaction and communication between parents and baby promotes healthy development. Baby Yoga follows on from baby massage, expanding the benefits of touch with those of movement and relaxation. [Back to top]
Babywearing is the practice of keeping your baby or toddler close and connected to you as you engage in daily activities by use of a stretchy wrap, fabric wrap, sling or soft-structured carrier. It is a traditional practice in many cultures that has many benefits for both children and caregivers. Babywearing promotes bonding, supports breastfeeding, makes caregiving easier, and can be a lifesaver for parents of high-needs children. [Back to top]
Babywearing is not about any particular parenting philosophy and can be practiced by a wide variety of caregivers; in short, anyone who cares for a newborn, infant, or toddler. There are safe and effective sling/carrier options for every budget and taste. [Back to top]
Babywearing Consultants offer advice on what type of sling/carrier may be the most appropriate and may offer a library for mothers to borrow from before committing to buy a particular type. [Back to top]
A Breastfeeding Counsellor is a trained individual knowledgeable in the anatomy and physiology of breastfeeding. As well as being able to manage, assess and evaluate problems, a Breastfeeding Counsellor will be able to resolve problems by using listening and practical skills. They may work over the phone or in person, in a clinic setting or on a one-to-one basis. Breastfeeding Counsellors are required to undergo ongoing training within recognized, certified organisations. [Back to top]
Breastfeeding Peer Supporter
A Peer Supporter will usually be a mum who has breastfed and who has undertaken a Peer Supporter training course. She will be able to listen, empathise with, support and empower mothers with good, up to date information about breastfeeding and related issues. She will have access to resources, such as books, leaflets and DVDs, to share with mothers and helps them talk through their choices. A Peer Supporter knows her boundaries, not giving advice, and referring on to an appropriate practitioner as necessary. Most Peer Supporters volunteer in breastfeeding clinics/Milk Spots supervised by a health care professional, but she may also offer home visits. A Peer Supporter should be attending ongoing supervisions and learning to support her skills.
It is important that the community, and the mums attending the support groups, know that a Peer Supporter is not a breastfeeding expert. [Back to top]
A Doula \DOO-luh\ is someone (usually a woman) who offers emotional, practical and informational support to a woman, or couple, before, during and after childbirth. Discover more about Doulas and the vital role they play below.
A Birth Doula is a valuable one-to-one support during the antenatal period and throughout the birth itself, enabling parents to make informed choices, signposting research-based information and providing a continuity of care.
- She will provide a number of sessions antenatally to prepare for the birth and discuss expectations, fears and options.
- She will go on-call from an agreed date (often 38 weeks) and will be present during the birth, providing whatever support the family needs, from practicalities to advocacy.
- She will be well-equipped to provide comfort measures such as basic massage, suggest optimal birth positions, teach breathing techniques, encourage visualisations, offer food and drinks, warm compresses and cool flannels.
- She will enable the woman’s partner to be the best support they can be.
After the birth the doula will visit the couple once or twice to debrief the birth and offer any further signposting/support.
A Postnatal Doula is able to provide the support that women used to expect of their extended families and community in times gone by.
- She can raise self confidence in the new mother as she learns how to respond to her baby/babies’ needs, helping her to recover from the birth and find her feet.
- She may support the family practically with some domestic help such as cooking, running errands and general tidying.
- She might well be able to offer feeding support as well as many other sources of parenting information.
Ultimately, she is there to support the transition into parenting and the emotional challenges ahead. A doula believes in “mothering the mother”, enabling a woman to have the most satisfying and empowered time that she can during pregnancy, birth and the early days as a new parent. This type of support also helps the whole family to relax, adapt to and enjoy the experience. A postnatal doula will usually charge by the hour and may come in daily, or every few days, as the parent requires.
Herbalists take a holistic approach to illness, treating the underlying cause of disease rather than just the symptoms. They are able to prescribe herbal remedies to be used alongside other medication and treatments. [Back to top]
Homeopathy is a form of holistic medicine used to treat both acute and chronic conditions. It is based on the principle of ‘like cures like’ – in other words, a substance taken in small amounts will cure the same symptoms it causes if it was taken in large amounts. [Back to top]
Homeopathic medicines are manufactured using a process combining serial dilution and succussion (vigorous shaking). Homeopathic medicines are perfectly safe to use for babies, children and pregnant or breastfeeding women, who are under the supervision of a medically-qualified practitioner.
The term “hypnobirthing” has been coined by many using hypnotherapy/hypnosis for pregnancy and birth and there are many different schools available. Hypnobirthing teaches women/couples techniques for deep relaxation, visualisation and self-hypnosis which can be used during pregnancy and birth to enable them to remain calm and positive whatever setting or situation the woman is in at the time. It encourages women to explore their fears about birth by discussing these feelings prior to the birth. Hypnobirthing encourages partners to be involved in the support process by keeping the laboring woman calm and relaxed. [Back to top]
An independent midwife is on call for the women she cares for 24/7, from the beginning of pregnancy until (typically) 4 weeks after their birth offering evidence-based, individualised care throughout. Antenatal appointments usually take place in a woman’s own home, are unhurried and allow for all aspects of physical and emotional wellbeing to be supported.
Although there can be no guarantees in birth, choosing an independent midwife as your caregiver does increase your chances of a ‘normal’ physiological birth and independent midwives have become very experienced in areas of childbirth that within the NHS are usually dealt with by obstetric management including Breech, Twins and Vaginal Birth After Caesarean (VBAC). [Back to top]
Lactation consultants are health care professionals with specialised knowledge and clinical expertise in breastfeeding and human lactation.
An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) is certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners. An IBCLC works in a wide variety of health care settings, including hospitals, paediatric offices, public health clinics, and private practice.
Lactation Consultants educate women, families, health professionals, and the community about breastfeeding and human lactation; act as advocates for breastfeeding as the child-feeding norm; and provide holistic, evidence-based breastfeeding support and care from preconception to weaning for women and their families. [Back to top]
Miscarriage and Stillbirth Support
Losing a baby in pregnancy can be an isolating, frightening, confusing and painful time. The shock at losing a baby can mean that understanding choices and accessing support can be difficult. You may feel that you want someone with you in the hospital to offer emotional support and a constant presence. Or that talking to someone on the phone is a way of being heard and feeling less alone.
A Nappy consultant promotes and sells modern cloth nappies. Most consultants use the “party plan” method of selling organisijng parties or demos in their own home or customers’ homes. They might also demo at antenatal classes, at maternity hospitals, or run a stall at childrens’/family/craft markets. Consultants can advise which nappies will suit your baby best, how to save money and care for your cloth nappies. [Back to top]
Photographer – Pregnancy, Birth, Newborn
Birth Photography is about capturing the journey of labour as it happens, and the photographer will work closely with the parents in advance so she/he is familiar with their birth wishes. The Birth Photographer will also be familiar with the birth process and will remain respectful of the birth environment at all times. [Back to top]
Placenta specialists provide a safe and professional service offering advice and support to new mothers about their options regarding placenta consumption, encapsulation and other remedies. [Back to top]
Postnatal exercise classes are usually run by qualified, experienced fitness instructors, with a specialist interest and knowledge in safe postnatal exercise. [Back to top]
Postnatal Night Support
Many doulas will offer an overnight service, coming to the home to help care for the baby during the night. They may bring the baby to the mother for feeding and take on the other responsibilities of nappy-changing, settling and being close to the baby, or offer bottle feeds, according to the parents wishes. [Back to top]
Reflexology is a non-intrusive complementary health therapy, based on the theory that different points on the feet, lower leg, hands, face or ears correspond with different areas of the body. [Back to top]