It's a time when you're emotionally and physically changing in ways you've never experienced. Every twinge, ache or peculiar symptom is often followed by a frantic search online. Add in the need to know what 'to do' during pregnancy - what to eat, what not to eat, which exercises are safe, and so on...
If we accept that birth has become a multi-billion dollar business around the world, then all expectant parents are consumers of that business. As consumers, all expectant parents have rights and they have a voice. Collectively, theirs is a very powerful voice that can be used as a catalyst to drive change.
A complete norm, or the truly typical does not exist. How long it takes to conceive, the exact length of your pregnancy, how much your baby weighs, feeds, fills her nappy, wants to be held and sleeps is no different. Neither your body, not your baby have the latest iBaby App or manual from a childcare expert telling them what is expected...
It's important that we recognise that some men will not benefit from being at the birth of their child. For some people this would seem like a step backwards, the exclusion of anyone based on their sex, from anything, will always be seen as such, but we must remember that a father's mental health is important too.
As a recurrent miscarrier, it can be hard to be around pregnant women and babies. Emotions swing between jealousy, self-hatred (I never used to be so nasty) and sadness for what I've lost. Self-preservation has a lot to do with it. That and the abject humiliation of having to leave a 2 year old's birthday party because you can't stop crying (got the t-shirt).
Before the recent historical win by Germany in the World Cup Championship and the riotous parties in the streets, there were other strong magnets to Berlin by young outsiders. A new generation of international women have been flocking to Berlin for its green, woman-centric, and family friendly culture.
Reading the energy of an unborn baby is so magical, pure and present. There are rarely any energetic blockages in an unborn baby, which makes it really easy to tap into their needs from and questions for the parents. What's been striking is that there is a clear recurring pattern of needs that nearly every unborn child has for and from their parent-to-be.
The latest scientific research is now starting to indicate that if the baby is not properly seeded with the mother's own bacteria at birth, then the baby's microbiome, in the words of Rodney R Dietert, Professor of Immunotoxicology at Cornell University, is left "incomplete". Consequently, that baby's immune system may never develop to its full potential, leaving that infant with an increased risk of developing one or more serious diseases later in life.
I cannot imagine being in labour and forced to trek miles and miles in the hope to deliver in safe conditions. One woman I met Kula, delivered her baby on the side of the road in the dark with the threat of snakes and other dangerous animals to contend with. She had walked miles from her village to the one where we met to hire a canoe. She didn't make it as far as the village before she gave birth and her baby only made it as far as the water's edge when it passed away as she waited for two hours for a canoe to take her and her newborn baby to the clinic. Kula's story shocked Kate and I to the core. We were overwhelmed with grief for her.