Sore Nipples and Breastfeeding: What You Need To Know

Sore nipples are one of the more common concerns new mamas face when beginning their breastfeeding journey. 

Breastfeeding mum and baby sore nipples

Breastfeeding is a wonderful, natural way for a mother to bond with her baby, and breast milk is recommended as the only source of food for a baby’s first six months of life. 

Whilst the production of breast milk occurs naturally, the art of breastfeeding doesn’t always go smoothly.

For many mothers the experience is simple and straightforward, but for some it can become a painful ordeal. 

Breastfeeding is a learned skill for both mother and baby, and there are bound to be some hiccups at the beginning. Sore nipples are often dismissed as part of the process but pain definitely isn’t something new mamas should ‘put up with’. Sore nipples can be so painful that a mother gives up breastfeeding altogether.

Find out what you need to know about sore nipples and breastfeeding, and what we recommend for prevention and support. 

Pre-pregnancy breast soreness 

Breasts, areolas and nipples come in all shapes and sizes and will change throughout a woman’s life cycle, from adolescence through to menopause. We need to have an awareness of what is normal for our breasts by doing regular breast checks so we can spot any unusual changes quickly. 

Breast soreness is very common. It affects most women at some time in their lives, usually in the form of swelling, lumps, bumps, general aches and soreness. Commonly felt at varying times of the menstrual cycle, breast soreness is usually regarded as normal. The soreness will vary from woman to woman, so it is important to be aware of what is normal for you.

If there is any unusual pain, extreme pain, or changes in the breast tissues (with or without pain) it needs to be explored further. This could be due to other factors such as cysts, tumours or mastitis. Seek advice from a medical professional for further investigation into the source of pain and treatment.

Pregnancy breast soreness

During pregnancy, your breasts undergo many changes, influenced by hormonal fluctuations. 

During the first trimester your breasts may feel generally sore and tender. The breasts often increase in size and as the pregnancy moves forward the areola and nipples will usually darken and become larger. 

It is important to make sure to be fitted with the right style and size of bra during pregnancy, to prevent not just soreness but long-term damage to the breast tissue.

During the third trimester the breasts will begin to make colostrum in preparation for milk supply for the soon to be born baby. This can be seen as a shiny, clear discharge from the nipples. 

Some women may hand express this colostrum after consultation with their midwife, obstetrician or doctor. In certain situations babies need supplementation after birth and a supply of colostrum in the freezer can be used instead of formula. 

Breastfeeding soreness

Breastfeeding is biologically the normal way to feed mammal babies and the production of milk (lactation) occurs naturally after giving birth. Breast milk contains everything your baby needs for nutrition for the first six months of life. 

Breastfeeding begins soon after birth, often with mum bringing the baby to her breast within minutes after birth. Babies left on their mothers bellies after birth have an innate instinct to seek out the breast, and will crawl up to the nipple. 

In the first few days, your breasts will produce colostrum and this provides everything your baby needs. Within a few days, your milk ‘comes in’ and changes in volume and composition. This can cause some discomfort as breasts become full and engorged, and your baby is increasingly hungry and more demanding.

Breastfeeding shouldn’t be painful. But in the initial few weeks, at the beginning of a feed, there may be some discomfort when the baby first attaches to the breast. The sensation should subside within a short time and as the feed continues it should not be painful.

There can also be other issues such as engorgement, mastitis, nipple vasospasm, thrush and other infections. Nipples may appear bright pink or red in colour, bleeding, dry, flaky, or have a white rash (thrush). 

Causes of sore nipples when breastfeeding

Sore nipples most often occur if the baby doesn’t have the proper attachment or ‘latch’ to the breast.This can cause cracking, splitting and bleeding of the nipple. Sometimes these sores are obvious, but small cracks can be hard to see, even if very painful.

There can be other issues such as a baby with tongue tie, incorrect use of breast pumps, or medical conditions such as dermatitis or an infection. In these cases it is important to seek help from a qualified professional to properly diagnose the problem and offer the right course of treatment.

Even if breastfeeding is going well problems can still arise. Nipple soreness can occur if mum or baby become complacent about latch, the baby has a growth spurt causing a sudden increase in feeds, or baby begins teething.

What can be done to help breastfeeding and sore nipples?

Even if you have breastfed before, breastfeeding each baby is new and can take some adjusting to. Being prepared for breastfeeding before you have your baby is a good foundation to understanding what can go wrong and what to do about it. 

Nurtured Birth recommends Born To Breastfeed, a comprehensive and accessible breastfeeding guide for mothers, answering all your questions and providing support for challenges. You can purchase this through Nurtured Birth’s shop here

  1. Seek advice straight away! The best person to help is a lactation consultant. They will have specialist training and knowledge on breastfeeding issues. Your midwife, maternal & child health nurse, postnatal doula or paediatrician can also provide some support. 
  2. Consider attending breastfeeding classes during pregnancy to prepare yourself and your partner. You can also make contact with a lactation consultant so they will already be on hand to assist once the baby is born.
  3. Try to feed on the baby’s first cues of being hungry, not waiting until they are crying. You can try putting the baby to the breast more often, expressing some milk prior to feed and offering the less sore side first.
  4. Finding the proper positioning while feeding. Getting the right set up of chair, pillows, baby’s position to allow for correct attachment to the breast.
  5. Keep nipples dry between feeds. Make sure to change nursing pads frequently and use 100% cotton for best airflow, not plastic lined ones.
  6. After a feed leave some fresh breast milk on your sore nipples and keep them open to air for a few minutes. Pat dry gently. 
  7. Products like the BodyICE Breast Pads provide relief for sore nipples. You can purchase these cleverly designed pads that fit into your bra through Nurtured Birth’s website here
  8. Soothing products to assist with the pain and healing: after a feed apply a saltwater rinse to the nipple or try a warm cloth compress. A lanolin ointment that is 100% medical-grade is also safe to use on your nipples after a feed.
  9. Check your expressing technique – some electric pumps can be too harsh and may need to be adjusted. Sometimes a manual pump or hand expressing can be gentler on sore nipples.
  10. Nipple shields can be used for short periods of time to ease sore nipples. They often lead to future issues with poor attachment so need to be used with advice and careful consideration. 
  11. Some causes of sore nipples need medical intervention. Thrush can be treated with an ointment that is safe for baby, mastitis may need antibiotics so it does not become serious and lead to hospitalisation. Always seek out advice from a medical professional.

Where do I find help?

You can contact the following organisations for more information:

Lactation Consultants of Australia and New Zealand (LCANZ) 

Australian Breastfeeding Association runs the National Breastfeeding Helpline 1800 686 268

Maternal and Child Health Line (24 hours) – 13 22 29

Nurtured Birth postnatal doula available for home visits in Melbourne, even during Covid-19 times. 

Written by Sharon Clarke, Remedial Therapist at Nurtured Birth

Pregnancy Support And Dads: Supporting Your Partner

Most information about pregnancy focuses on the mama-to-be, but what about pregnancy support and dads? What role do dads take in supporting their partner during pregnancy?

Pregnancy is a time of celebration and excitement but there are also plenty of challenges. Dads play an important role in many ways during pregnancy, from conception all the way through to birth and beyond.

Believe it or not, dads supporting their pregnant partner is essential to her wellbeing, influences her birth experience and recovery afterwards. It also brings you together, strengthening your bond and creating a united team – your family.

How can you be the best support for your partner during pregnancy? Let’s focus on 5 important ways dads can offer support.

#1: Physical pregnancy support and dads

Pregnancy brings many physical changes, from morning sickness and tiredness to more physical effects such as sore joints and being unable to move easily. 

You can provide physical support to your pregnant partner to help her cope with these changes. It might she needs to make lifestyle changes, such as healthy eating, giving up unhealthy habits or taking up exercise. You can join her in the move to a healthier lifestyle, and offer encouragement and support. 

Pregnancy takes a physical toll on a woman’s body. Body aches and pains increase, she may get frustrated at not being able to do things easily, and feel generally uncomfortable all the time. Understand her physical limitations and be aware they will be constantly changing. Create opportunities for your partner to rest or provide caring support like a back massage or foot rub. 

Some women may feel self-conscious about how their body is changing. This can change their feelings towards sex. Talk to your partner about how she is feeling and be positive with responses. There are many ways to be intimate within your relationship. Cuddles, hugs and kisses may be the perfect support plan for now.

You can also support your pregnant partner by promoting a slower lifestyle, such as reduce busy schedules andcut back on socialising. If there are other children in the family, you can take on more of their daily care to give your partner  time to rest, meditate and prepare for birth, building a connection and bond with her baby.

#2: Emotional pregnancy support and dads

While often the attention is focused on the pregnant mama-to-be, dads can feel left out of the picture, a bit forgotten and ignored.  

Announcing your pregnancy news is a shared joy and any other celebrations  can involve you too. Pregnancy traditions such as baby showers or gender-reveal parties aren’t just for pregnant mamas – celebrating your new family together strengthens your bond as a couple.

Keep the lines of communication open. Often we wait until we’re asked to do something. Instead, specifically ask your partner to guide you in how to best support her. Make time to talk about how you’re both feeling about the birth and becoming parents. Ofter encouragement and reassurance and share your own concerns and worries, so you’re building a path of strength and resilience together. 

Hormonal changes during pregnancy can make pregnant women emotional and teary one minute, but bubbly and vibrant the next. They can even seem completely irrational at times.

It is important to understand these hormonal changes are out of her control. They can cause mood swings, reduce her energy levels and increase her need for sleep. The best way to offer support is by being understanding, comforting and encouraging her to take breaks and naps. A show of affection by offering a simple hug can make her feel loved and supported.

#3: Practical pregnancy support and dads

Taking on the essential daily tasks is a great way for dads to take the pressure off their partner, especially if she is still working. 

Pregnant women are giving so much of themselves to the growing baby they are often left depleted. You can assist or take over things like preparing meals, cooking, cleaning and washing, bathing other children.

Helping in this way is especially important when your pregnant partner is feeling particularly worn out or if certain cooking smells make her feel ill. 

Brainstorm ways your partner is going to need support after the birth of your baby and plan ahead. Will you take on cleaning and cooking, or should you organise a cleaner and meal delivery? Go shopping with your partner for items like prams and car seats.

#4.  Pregnancy support and dads

Being there from the start and being engaged is so important for dads. You can support your partner by attending pregnancy appointments such as ultrasounds and antenatal care check ups, helping to discuss options for care and planning your birth options. 

Take a proactive interest in being informed about pregnancy, baby development and birth. There are many well researched blogs and websites for you to choose from. 

Talk about the roles you will take on in parenting, what it means to you to be a parent and how you can share parenting roles. This can be a good time to work through any concerns about how you were raised and the things you want to avoid as a parent yourself. 

Dads can talk to their unborn baby to begin building a connection. By the third trimester babies can recognise voices and love to hear talking and singing. You can talk to your baby in your partner’s belly, to help build a bond with the baby and start developing your family connection. 

#5:Birth preparation support 

Dads can be supportive by preparing themselves to be the birth partner their partner will  need during labour  and birth. Nurtured Birth offers a specific workshop for partners to encourage them to be the best birth partner.

You can read up on the process of labour, and the varied scenarios that can occur in labour. You can start to think about your role in the birthing process, making sure to ask questions during antenatal visits. This makes it clear to health professionals you’re involved and want to be included too.

Attend birth classes and be proactive in your involvement. Nurtured Birth offers tailored and in-depth private childbirth education sessions you can enjoy in the comfort of your own home. Having a doula support you and your partner through pregnancy can be a wonderful way to connect and work through your fears and expectations about birth. 

During labour, make sure you are the best support by being her advocate and stay engaged with her choices and preferences. You can have an active role in birth by catching the baby, cutting the cord, supporting your partner to have a golden hour after birth, and enjoying skin to skin with your baby.

And finally…

You need to support yourself too. You still need to have some breaks yourself, if that’s time for exercise or visit friends or focus on a hobby.  Make sure you self-care, whatever this might mean to you.

You can always reach out to other partners to share feelings, ideas and tips. This can be family and friends, or you can make connections through childbirth classes and parenting groups. There are lots of resources out there for expectant partners.

Need to talk to someone for more information and advice?

Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436 to speak with a maternal child health nurse.

Raising Children Network, supported by the Australian Government, has videos, information and more available, such as the ‘Dads Guide to Pregnancy’. Go to raising 

Mensline Australia offers support and counselling services on 1300 78 99 78.

Beyond Blue offers support and advice for new dads on 1300 22 4636. You can download the book Emotional health and wellbeing: A guide for new dads, partners and other carers. There is a wealth of information and support on becoming a parent and what to expect.

PANDA National Helpline 300 726 306 for help for dads, parents and carers, specialising in prenatal and postnatal anxiety and depression.

Written by Sharon Clarke, Remedial Massage Therapist at Nurtured Birth


Fertility Massage: 5 FAQs About Fertility Massage

Fertility massage therapy can be an intrinsic part of the journey you will undergo as you travel towards motherhood. 

When you begin to explore your fertility with the hope of becoming pregnant, you may introduce many practices into your daily life.

There is much research to support the many benefits of massage not only for our physical body but also our emotional wellbeing.

But even in 2020 there is still an absence of study and evidence-based research into the specific results of massage treatment on fertility outcomes. So much remains unclear. So what do we actually know?

In this article we will explore 5 frequently asked questions in relation to fertility massage and how it can help prepare your body for conception.

#1: Where do I find a fertility massage therapist?

At this important stage of your journey, it is essential to find the right people to support you.

A therapeutic or remedial massage therapist has the skillset and anatomy  knowledge and experience to apply to fertility massage. 

But it’s important to seek a therapist with specific experience in women’s health and pregnancy. They can offer holistic support, with greater understanding of the reproductive system and the menstrual cycle, the tests and procedures involved with gynaecology, and the processes used within assisted fertility. 

Continuity of treatment is also an important factor to consider. A specialised massage therapist can provide treatment from fertility, through conception and pregnancy, and after birth.  

#2: When should I start treatments & for how long?

Start fertility treatment when you have made the decision to start trying for a baby and you are ready to begin your journey into parenthood.

Regular massage treatment is important to help build a mind-body-spirit connection. Massage is a wonderful way to reverse the effects of stress, work, and the general busyness of our lives. 

Massage helps the body in many ways:

  • Maintain muscle integrity
  • Improve posture and circulation
  • Relieve aches and pains
  • Stimulate detoxification
  • Assist many systems of the body including immune, nervous, lymphatic and endocrine
  • Assist with emotional and spiritual aspects – managing stress and tension, providing emotional relief and having a positive effect on your mood.

Stress triggers can increase when assisted reproduction methods such as IVF are needed. Massage can be complementary to IVF and work in conjunction to reduce these stress levels, allowing you to be at your best during the important times in your cycle.

The best way to support fertility and conception is to make lifestyle changes to support general health and wellbeing. This include a healthier diet, exercising, eliminating bad habits, introducing supplements and more. Massage can be included as it supports your focus towards a healthier way of life.

The best results from massage happen when treatments occur on a regular basis. So don’t just go occasionally – make it a habit, plan your calendar and book your appointments ahead of time. Keeping up the focus on your self-care is a vital part of your fertility plan.

#3: What should I expect from treatment?

Your massage treatment should be individually tailored to target your specific needs. Your therapist will initially want to know where you currently are on your journey, how you are affected, stress levels and what you realistically hope to achieve. A dedicated treatment plan should be formulated to guide the therapist and you through to an agreed outcome.

This tailored massage program should centre on being nurturing, gentle, non-invasive and pain free. The focus is on relaxing you, soothing your muscles and calming your emotions with the goal to destress the body, mind and spirit. Massage for the whole body is extremely important to achieve this. 

At a minimum the treatment should involve the back, shoulders and neck. There will also be an aspect of massage on the abdominal, sacral and pelvic regions of the body. Some therapists may also include other specialities such as acupressure, reflexology, rebozo techniques and mobilisation and stretching.

#4: What physical and emotional benefits does massage have for my fertility journey?

Massage to the abdomen improves circulation to this region. As a result, this allows better blood flow to the organs and tissues within the abdominal area, including the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes, as well as to the digestive system.

Massage assists in the breakdown of scar tissue. Specifically in the abdominal region, this scar tissue can build up within and around the reproductive organs and digestive system. 

Massage helps to align the structures of the pelvic region: the pelvis, sacrum and coccyx. This restores the balance between the structures – bones, soft tissues, organs and releasing trapped nerves. Massage allows this area to reposition, tone and strengthen. 

Massage aids in hormonal balance. Negative energy can affect our hormones including the reproductive hormone progesterone, converting it to cortisol, the stress hormone. Using massage as a form of relaxation we are encouraging the body to destress and produce oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine for a positive mood and to be prepared and open for fertility.

Finally, massage allows the client to find emotional healing – providing the space to release tension held within the pelvic area. Massage can be a gentle way of addressing trauma and loss experienced in the past, anxiety, stress and the tension from invasive procedures such as IVF, curette, as well as previous pregnancy loss.

#5: Is massage just for the mother-to-be or can it also be beneficial for partners? 

The journey of fertility does not involve just the mother-to-be. Your partner is also sharing the fertility journey alongside you, with the shared goal of parenthood.

Although this journey may have different effects for each person involved, the health and wellbeing of both partners is important and massage can support you both in individual ways. 

As a partnership you can work to improve your general health and wellbeing with healthy meals, exercising together, getting good sleep and eliminating bad habits. Including massage therapy for you both is another way to share the journey in a positive and relaxing way.

When IVF is involved in the fertility process, it is the woman who undergoes the physical changes. But emotionally you will both share the stress of IVF. Your partner has a very important role in supporting you on your fertility journey and they should not be forgotten.

Nurtured Birth for Fertility Massage

In Australia, certified pregnancy massage therapists receive training beyond the national standards for massage therapists. They understand the pregnant body and how to address specific needs in pregnancy. They are equipped to care for women on their journey with fertility and conception and take a special interest in women’s health and wellbeing.

At Nurtured Birth our therapists are all trained and certified in massage and pregnancy massage, as well as being registered, insured and continually training and upgrading their skills. 

We have a range of specialist practitioners to offer treatment and support with massage, osteopathy, naturopathy, doula birth and postnatal care, childbirth education, prenatal yoga, pregnancy meditation and mums & bubs yoga. If your problem is outside of our scope of treatment we will refer you to one of our recommended practitioners. 

Imagine going through your fertility journey feeling supported and relaxed, both emotionally and physically. Our massage releases tension in your body, reducing aches and pains in muscles and joints. It overall improves your mood, your sleep and general sense of well-being. 

How frequently you have a  massage will depend on you and the plan of treatment you have with your therapist. If massage is going to be an integral part of your fertility plan, our knowledgeable practitioners will suggest what would best suit you, taking into account many factors, including your cycle. We can tailor massage therapy alongside our osteopath and naturopath to ensure your body is well supported during the challenges of fertility, flowing into pregnancy and after birthing.

Written by Sharon Clarke, Remedial Massage Therapist at Nurtured Birth


Top 9 Benefits of Pregnancy Massage

Newly pregnant and heard the buzz about pregnancy massage benefits? Congratulations on your brilliant news – we’re excited for you!

Pregnancy is a special and exciting time. Nine months may seem a long time to wait to meet your little one, but we all know how quickly time flies – you will be holding your precious bubba in your arms before you know it.

So what’s next? What foods should you avoid? What kinds of tests will you and your baby need? Can you still exercise? How do you choose a doctor or hospital? What are your options? Is what you’re feeling normal? 

The amount of information is overwhelming. And all of it feels vital. Pregnancy is a wonderful time but can also be the source of much apprehension and stress.

How do we deal with all of these essential questions and the many preparations that need to be made? How do we cope with the pressure we place on ourselves to already be the best parent possible for our unborn child?

Breathe…and just let our body do its thing. Be kind to yourself. One thing that is essential to put on your to-do-list is pregnancy massage. Read on to see how pregnancy massage benefits and nourishes your physical body and emotional wellbeing throughout the whole nine months of pregnancy.

What’s happening to your pregnant body?

Pregnancy affects the body in a variety of ways: physically, hormonally, emotionally, mentally. It has an impact on every system of the body. 


During the first trimester your body undergoes many changes. Hormonal changes affect almost every organ system in your body. These changes can trigger symptoms even in the very first weeks of pregnancy.

Pregnancy massage is safe in the first trimester but only with a specially trained therapist. Pregnancy massage can help relieve some of the common symptoms such as: 

  • Fatigue or extreme tiredness
  • Nausea
  • Mood swings
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Heartburn.

Pregnancy massage will also assist in relieving pre-pregnancy aches and pains.   

2nd trimester

Most women find the second trimester of pregnancy easier than the first. Often you have a renewed source of energy. You might notice symptoms like nausea and fatigue go away.

But other new, more noticeable changes to your body are now happening. Your abdomen expands as the baby continues to grow. And before this trimester is over, you will feel your baby beginning to move!

As your body changes to make room for your growing baby, pregnancy massage benefits include alleviating discomfort from aches and pains associated with: Back, hip, glute, abdomen, groin, sciatic, Carpal tunnel syndrome, oedema.

3rd trimester

You’re in the home stretch! Some of the discomforts you had in your second trimester will continue. Many women find breathing difficult and notice they have to go to the bathroom even more often. This is because the baby is getting bigger and is putting more pressure on your organs. Don’t worry, these problems will lessen once you give birth. Get excited — the final countdown has begun!

Pregnancy massage will help ease the discomfort and pain caused by:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Heartburn
  • Oedema
  • Insomnia
  • Back/hip/glute/sciatic pain
  • Pelvic girdle pain
  • Pelvic instability.

How does pregnancy massage assist?

Pregnancy massage has a long history in many cultures around the world. In countries such as Japan and Mexico, massage during pregnancy and even labour is deeply embodied in the normal care of pregnant women.

Pregnancy is an amazing state of being for your body, constantly changing and growing and challenging you. Regular pregnancy massage benefits and nourishes your physical and emotional wellbeing through all of these changes.

Massage during pregnancy is modified to accommodate and support your changing body, to ensure you reap the benefits of massage safely.

Top 9 benefits of pregnancy massage


During your pregnancy massage we can use visualisations and breathing techniques to promote and grow your connection with your baby. We can also use massage directly on the belly for a physical connection, to help blood circulation in the abdomen and promote that pregnancy glow. 


Pregnancy massage can assist in reducing anxiety and stress in two ways – physically and emotionally.

Physically pregnancy massage is applying treatment to the muscles and tissues of the body to soften them, encourage healing and reduce pain levels. This brings about a feeling of increased relaxation and calmness.

Emotionally a pregnancy massage allows space for the mother to be calm and focused, remove herself from her busy day-to-day life, close down her thoughts and just be in the moment.


Pregnancy massage acts on the nervous system, helping to soothe and relax nervous tension. 

When muscular pain and discomfort is reduced through pregnancy massage, the mother will be more comfortable in bed and will be able to sleep more easily and more deeply,


Pregnancy puts a lot of pressure on your upper and lower limbs. Swelling can occur in the feet, ankles, calves, hands and forearms. Massage can help relieve this pain and swelling by aiding the lymphatic system and flushing this excess fluid from the body. Removing the lactic acid and other cellular waste products from your system also reduces muscle cramping and muscle fatigue.


Muscular conditions common in pregnancy involve the back, shoulders, neck, joints, buttocks, legs and arms – just about the whole body. Pregnancy massage will reduce musculoskeletal pain, cramping, tension and stiffness. It can alleviate headaches, oedema, leg cramps, sciatica.

Pregnancy massage can treat complex conditions and presentations such as carpal tunnel syndrome, pelvic girdle pain and pelvic instability. 


Pregnancy massage is a wonderfully natural way to aid circulation and the extra work of the heart during pregnancy. In turn this keeps the blood pressure in check.

Pregnancy massage works to eliminate waste products through the lymphatic and circulatory systems which combats fatigue so you feel more energetic. By improving the condition of the smooth muscles this normalises venous function and outflow. Better outflow, greater vitality; less fatigue, better nourishment for baby.

Pregnancy hormones cause many changes to the mother’s body, including depression and anxiety. Pregnancy massage benefits include relief from these negative effects and promote a more positive outlook for the pregnancy.


As your baby grows and takes up more room in your abdomen, there is less room for your diaphragm and lungs. This can cause shortness of breath and even pain in the ribs. Pregnancy massage treats directly into the intercostal muscles of the rib cage and uses deep breathing techniques.


During pregnancy your body is constantly changing and needs to be supported throughout each trimester and during labour.

Pregnancy massage promotes overall body awareness. With regular treatments you will develop an understanding of your body, the origins of your pain and ways to self help.

Pregnancy massage benefits not only include tension release in muscles, it helps to realign your posture, improve your range of motion and increase your flexibility. This is especially important during the third trimester and in preparation for labour.


Be proactive about preparing for labour by tapping into your inner resources of strength and mindfulness. Regular meditative breathing brings calmness and control, accessing your energy and focus; excellent skills to have in your labour toolkit. Pregnancy massage promotes visualisation and breathing techniques that you can use in preparation for labour.

Pregnancy massage helps your awareness and understanding of your pelvic space which helps prepare for healthy birthing. By working on your posture, strength and flexibility, your baby can find the best position for birth.

During labour, massage reduces the stress hormones and tension that interfere with the normal process of birth. You can improve your chance for a shorter and positive labour with less need for interventions and medications.

Pregnancy massage is a lush and lovely way to help your body ripen and prepare for birth.


In Australia, certified pregnancy massage therapists receive training beyond the national standards for massage therapists. They understand the pregnant body and how to address specific needs in pregnancy.

Our therapists are all trained and certified in massage and pregnancy massage, registered, insured and have a special interest in caring for women from fertility and conception, through pregnancy, during labour and postnatally. 

We have a range of specialist practitioners and supports to help with any particular issue that may arise during your pregnancy. Apart from pregnancy massage we also offer osteopathy, naturopathy, doula care, childbirth education, prenatal yoga, mums & bubs yoga. If your problem is outside of our scope of treatment we will refer you to one of our recommended practitioners. 

Imagine going through pregnancy feeling relaxed emotionally and physically. Pregnancy massage relaxes tension in your body, reducing aches and pains in muscles and joints. This improves your mood and comfort. You sleep better and your skin glows.

How frequently you have a pregnancy massage depends on you, as each woman and pregnancy is unique. If you want massage to be a central part of your pregnancy care, we suggest you talk to one of our knowledgeable practitioners to find out what would best suit you. We can tailor massage therapy with our osteopath to ensure your body is well supported during the challenges of pregnancy.

Put yourself into the hands of experienced therapists with extensive knowledge of pregnancy and labour. Your treatment will be tailored especially for you.








Nurtured Birth offers pregnancy massage at The Mother Baby Centre at Cabrini Hospital in Malvern and our clinic in Windsor.

To begin nourishing your body and mind, please contact us or book your appointment online today.

Giving Birth During Covid-19

Many women in our community are worried about how their maternity care will be affected by practices put in place when giving birth during Covid-19. 

These protocols and procedures are due to hospitals and medical centres preparing for potentially large numbers of infected patients. Fortunately cases of Covid-19 have remained manageable in Australia. 

For the pregnant, birthing and postnatal women in our community, Covid-19 has thrown them a curve ball. Even a straightforward and healthy pregnancy and birth comes with some apprehension. Now, women are concerned about how the new protocols and procedures will affect them and their connection within the health system. 

So what does maternity care and birth during Covid-19 look like? 

We asked Dr Danielle Wilkins, obstetrician and Director of Maternity Services at Cabrini Health, to give us an insight into what it is like for the women in her care during this pandemic.

Dr Wilkins answers all of our questions with an open and honest frankness relaying the message that pregnancy, birthing and the postnatal period can still be a beautiful and calm experience amidst Covid-19.

For women who are concerned about how their maternity care and birth during Covid-19 will look, this information can be a starting point to research options and make an informed decision about maternity care providers.

How are you coping during Covid-19? 

What a roller coaster this year has been! The highs are seeing how optimistic, adaptable and focused pregnant women are when their lives are turned upside down.

The challenges are working with those who are finding these changes overwhelming and the lows are not knowing what is around the corner. 

What’s it like for you as a doctor in the current situation?

This is such an emotional time. I found myself, like so many Australians, watching the international news in abject horror, unable to look away as my colleagues around the world try to fight this virus without protection, without rest and without success. I was losing sleep thinking about them day after day and night after night. So I had to listen to the same advice I have been handing out and I had to stop watching.

What’s it like for your prenatal clients in this time?

I have approximately 90 women who I am actively caring for at the moment. Since the restrictions in Australia started I have been keeping in touch with them much more closely than usual via a fortnightly email update. Through this I have kept them abreast of all the work that Cabrini has done to keep them safe and to keep them informed, negating any surprises.

I have introduced telehealth into Obstetrics which previously we thought would be of little or no benefit, and this has been pleasantly well received by those that have chosen to use it. I have encouraged all of my clients to make the informed choice themselves and to use the telehealth system as the safest option but if they prefer they can still come in for a face to face appointment.

I believe that providing them with relevant local information and also giving them options is helping them to navigate the situation.

What is the experience of women giving birth during Covid-19?

Fortunately we have yet to have a Covid-19 positive pregnancy in Victoria, nor have we had a positive partner or support person. Our women are able to have their one support person with them throughout their labour and their postnatal stay.

We are continuing to provide them with one-on-one midwifery support. The big changes have been for those women planning to have more than one support person with them, and for some women this was a very sudden change. But women are resilient! 

We have received feedback about how comfortable it was just having the 4 people present for the birth.  They are reassured they still have all the pain relief options available as needed.

Many of my clients were emotional about the postnatal stay, when relatives and friends would normally come to the hospital to meet the newborn. What has been striking is how rested the mums are, how connected they become with their midwife who has less juggling to do around visitors and how much easier they are finding it to breastfeed on demand.

What are the procedures in place for Covid-19 positive cases? 

We have a statewide guideline for any Covid-19 positive pregnancy cases which we have adapted for Cabrini. 

We have modified our largest room in the birth suite to accommodate anyone who is positive or suspected to be positive during labour and we have a guideline for partners and support people as well. These guidelines ensure the full support of the couple as well as the safety of all of our staff.

The trickier situation is the symptomatic Covid-19 positive partner or support person – this person will not be able to enter the hospital if they are symptomatic. This is a huge incentive for self isolation close to term.

Would the new mother stay together with her baby to breastfeed?

There was a wonderful success story out of Brisbane last week relating to this. The couple would need to wear gloves and a surgical mask when handling their newborn whilst they were considered to be infectious, but as long as they are well their baby will stay with them and they will be assisted with breastfeeding and encouraged to do so if that is their desire.  We will encourage these families to return home as soon as it is safe to do so and provide them with telephone support once home.

What could a birthing woman expect during her time in hospital?

Women can expect one-on-one midwifery care, a large room to mobilise with an ensuite with shower.  They will not be able to use nitrous and air for pain relief as it may increase the viral load in the room and put other staff at an increased risk.

The staff who provide their care will all be wearing full PPE (personal protection equipment). Whenever the woman and her support person move through a public part of the hospital they will be escorted by staff, will be required to wear a surgical mask, and asked not to touch anything along the journey. 

We will discuss their wishes for pain relief and explain that there may be benefits to an epidural if they are considering one. This is because all procedures will take a little more time to be performed as safely as possible, and in the event of any emergency in obstetrics we like to be as prepared as possible.

A paediatrician will be present at the birth, as overseas data has suggested that the babies to Covid-19 positive women sometimes need some initial support to transition from inside to outside the uterus. This is only for a brief period in the vast majority of cases. 

What is giving birth during Covid-19 like for women who are healthy and well?

Unchanged!  We are wearing a little more PPE for births but that is not affecting our communication or support for women, nor our ability to provide one-on-one midwifery care.  You can expect us to be wearing a clear visor, a surgical mask and a gown during the pushing stage of labour.

What are the main challenges women face with these new protocols? How are you finding their adaptation?

Women are finding their strengths, they are finding their way. Those that had different plans for support through their birth are spending prenatal time telehealthing with their support team and working together to develop strategies and plans for the different stages of labour and birth. 

There is so much support for them already online and I have included a lot of this information in my newsletters to help support them. I am constantly impressed but not surprised by their determination and ability to adapt. 

What is it like for women after they give birth during Covid-19? 

This is a challenging time for first-time mums who are very nervous about not having the support of maternal and child health nurses, mother’s groups and in many cases their parents and families.

I am encouraging them prior to their labour and birth to make plans for accessing support, to be prepared and to know they can continue to link in via the phone and via telehealth.  We may soon see an easing in restrictions which will put our first-time mums at ease I think. 

Your final thoughts on what you believe it is important for people to know…?

Keep doing the right thing.  Read what is relevant and don’t get overwhelmed by what isn’t. It is really important to remember that we are all in this together and we are all getting through it together because we are doing what is best.  And remember to look up.

Giving Birth During Covid-19

About Dr Danielle Wilkins

Dr Danielle is an obstetrician and the Director of Maternity Services at Cabrini Health. Her practice rooms are located at Cabrini Mother and Baby Centre. She offers individualised care to the twelve women she sees each month through her boutique obstetric practice.

Danielle graduated with honours from Monash University, trained at Monash Health and gained twelve months of obstetrics and gynaecology experience working in a busy unit in Ireland.

She spent nine years as the Director of Women’s Health training at Monash Medical Centre, and six years as the Discipline Coordinator for Women’s Health for Monash University. She was the Head of the Multiple Pregnancy Unit at Monash Health before moving to her current role at Cabrini.

Danielle has extensive experience caring for twin pregnancies and supporting women wishing to have a normal birth after a caesarean birth.

Dr Danielle Wilkins can be found at Cabrini Mother and Baby Centre, Cabrini  Hospital Malvern,  Level 2, 183 Wattletree Rd, Malvern


Does Pregnancy Make You Feel Touched Out?

During pregnancy it’s not uncommon for women to feel touched out at some point.

Pregnancy can be a very exciting time and brings many changes, some of which are new, confusing and completely unexpected. 

You might discover you can’t eat your favourite ice cream; you cry at the drop of a hat; or have incredibly vivid dreams. 

There are many wonderful and unexpected changes going on in your body during pregnancy. One of them you might find very surprising is to find you really dislike being touched. 

It can range from not wanting to be touched by strangers to avoiding certain forms of intimacy (like a kiss on the cheek). Some women feel physically ill in the presence of certain people. 

Other pregnant women find they become intolerant to certain people, including their partner. You might find this aversion to touch can heighten your interactions with people, leaving you feeling tense and anxious. 

 The difficulty is people are drawn to pregnant bellies and their desire to touch is often well intentioned. Often pregnant women think they’re being silly or feel guilty about not liking being touched. 

pregnancy touched out

It doesn’t help when people use language that makes you feel you’re public property. Family might say things such as ‘it’s not just your baby in there, it’s our grandchild’. A friend might say ‘but I never minded it when people touched my belly’. Strangers might comment on your size, their own pregnancy experience, or tell you horror stories about birth.

This increases your anxiety about allowing those people into your personal space. It’s ok to not like being touched but many of us never really question what’s behind this aversion during pregnancy.  

Why do I feel touched out during pregnancy? 

It’s believed your amazing pregnancy hormones change the way your brain deals with information. Feeling touched out during pregnancy can last weeks and months. 

Aversion is your primal instinct saying ‘no thanks, I don’t want that, I don’t like it’. It protects you from harm. Even though it doesn’t seem rational a person touching your belly could cause you harm, pregnancy hormones do fascinating things with deep feelings. 

Women are conditioned to accept certain behaviour is normal when they’re pregnant, and feel guilty that they don’t like it. Your response is a signal from a primal level in your body and mind.

Whether it’s a physical or emotional signal being triggered, spend some time honestly exploring your response to being touched. This can help you to connect with yourself on a deeper level, paving the way for more positive interactions. 

Here are 6 of the more common reasons why women feel touched out during pregnancy. 

#1: The lioness instinct

Many women feel very protective of their body and baby when they’re pregnant. You’re creating another human being and while that’s exciting, there’s also a lot of anxiety about doing it ‘right’. 

Should you be eating this? Is it safe to go to that place? Will you make a good mother? Are your needs being met? Do you have underlying fears about pregnancy or birth? You might be overwhelmed by information and advice, or feeling incredibly unsupported by those around you. 

Feeling on guard and anxious can heighten your lion mama heart. Seeing a hand stretching out to touch your belly can trigger a sense of protectiveness towards your baby. 

#2: Unresolved feelings

When there’s one person in particular who makes you recoil, it’s likely there are unresolved deeper issues and feelings with that person. This might be your partner, a close family member or friend. 

In a recent interview, Sarah says “Be observant about what’s happening…If you’re feeling really triggered, think what’s going on behind that reaction — there might be underlying emotional stuff that needs to be addressed.”

Going deeper into those feelings and working through them can benefit you. Carrying negative feelings during pregnancy creates tension in your muscles, disrupts your mind-body connection, and can show up during labour and birth.

#3: Past trauma and aversions

We know there’s a link between past experiences of trauma or abuse and touch aversion. This is something that may have happened long ago and is triggered by feeling vulnerable and anxious about being in control of your body during pregnancy.  

There may also be a buried memory of a personal or observed experience that has been linked to being touched during pregnancy. This can be triggered by a smell, a sound or feeling judged. Some women are body conscious, stemming from their early childhood experiences; which triggers an intense aversion to being touched.  

#4: You are still you

You may feel having your belly touched makes you feel less like a person and more like an incubator. Pregnant women are still women, yet there are people who think body autonomy doesn’t apply when a pregnant belly is involved. 

There is also the sense you’re not being seen for yourself as a pregnant woman. This can have a significant impact on your emotional wellbeing. Many new mamas feel they are forgotten in the excitement around the baby. This can lead to feeling isolated and without support, triggering a protectiveness or physical dislike to being touched. 

#5: Cultural differences

Different cultures have their own beliefs and traditions relating to pregnancy. When someone automatically reaches out to touch a pregnancy belly, they are ignoring the potential cultural differences.

In certain cultures there are customs and traditions about touching a pregnant belly that have negative consequences for the mother or the baby. Or strangers touching your belly can cause disapproval from your community. 

This can leave you feeling incredibly protective about being touched and possibly anxious about having to prevent it happening. 

#6: Sensory overwhelm

Even if this is your first baby and you don’t have other children constantly


grabbing you, there’s a baby inside of you and this can lead to feeling touched all the time. 

Often it’s a beautiful feeling, knowing you’re never alone. But pregnancy can make you feel super sensitive to sensations and touch. This is commonly known as feeling touched out. 

Feeling touched out often happens when too much is going on, your senses are overwhelmed. A person rubbing your belly can be the last straw andtrigger a physical feeling of aversion. 

What can I do about feeling touched out?

We’re hardwired to want contact with other human beings. Being pregnant doesn’t make this less so, rather it increases our need to be connected with our community. 

Talking about it to your partner, family and friends can help them to understand it’s not about them. Feeling touched out during pregnancy is usually temporary. Their respectful and sensitive understanding can help you to feel connected and safe. 

If overwhelm is a trigger, bring some awareness on how you can take care of yourself. This can be simply getting enough sleep, eating well and spending some mindful time in the fresh air and sunshine. 

You may need to learn to ask for and accept help when you need it. Self care or self love is a common phrase we hear today, but it’s an important reminder to prioritise meeting our own needs. 

Overwhelm can be a sign of something deeper. Having a trusted support person such as a doula can help you explore and create space for working through concerns, such as fear around birth or anxiety about your baby’s wellbeing. Therapies such as yoga and massage can also help you restore a positive connection with your body. 

You don’t owe strangers free access to your body, under any circumstances. The way you feel about being touched might not change. Being aware of your aversion to touch can empower you to respond to someone’s intention to touch you without feeling guilty or ashamed that you don’t like it. 

Find out more about Nurtured Birth and the services we offer that may support you through pregnancy here.

Author: Sam McCulloch, Wordsmith at Nurtured Birth

Top 5 Benefits of Prenatal Yoga Online During Covid-19

Nurtured Birth is now offering our prenatal yoga classes online with Zoom so we can continue to support expectant families during the Covid-19 pandemic. To book your place in our online prenatal yoga class click the button below. 

WHEN: Every Tuesday  6:15pm till 7:30pm

COST: 15+gst


2020 is shaping up to be a very different year for all of us. As Covid-19 sweeps through communities across the entire world, we are left feeling apprehensive and uncertain about what the future holds for us. 

These feelings are enhanced for expectant parents. Not only do they worry about keeping themselves safe, but also about their unborn baby and the uncertain future they are bringing a newborn into. 

During this time of the unknown and of isolation it is more important than ever pregnant women have avenues of support, comfort and safety.

It is essential to find ways to draw the focus towards themselves, their pregnancy and the joys it brings, rather than the confusion of the outside world.

Prenatal yoga is a wonderful way for pregnant women to care for themselves and their changing bodies.

There are a variety of changes a woman experiences during her pregnancy; changes to the body, the mind and energy levels. Prenatal yoga is a great way to listen to, cope with, find support and connect positively with these changes.

Top 5 Benefits of Prenatal Yoga Online During Covid-19

Pregnant women can practice yoga within the safety and comfort of their own home. Prenatal yoga online offers a calm and restorative therapy for the physical body and emotional state, supporting the flow towards a happy, healthy, pregnancy and birth. 

  1. Body & mind connection: improve your emotional state in these uncertain times

Taking stock of your current mental health is important when travelling through the trimesters of pregnancy. It helps you to understand what areas of your life are overwhelmed and when you might need support. 

Prenatal yoga brings about a mind-body connection as it includes working the physical body alongside the mental and emotional being. The deep breathing and mindfulness exercises used in prenatal yoga promote calmness and ease the emotional ups and downs pregnancy brings.

Attending regular online classes is a way of forming routines and this in turn helps us to feel in control of our own lives and destiny.

Prenatal yoga helps to release ‘feel good’ endorphins that lifts our mood and energy levels. This improves your state of mind during these uncertain times. 

  1. Physical fitness and strength: happy and healthy, prepared for birth and beyond

Prenatal yoga can not only enhance the mind-body connection but also supports your changing body. You learn how to listen to your body, work within your body limitations, and trust your body. 

We know exercise in general improves your physical fitness. During pregnancy you can continue your normal exercise regime, being guided by your body, your trainers and health professionals, making adjustments as your pregnancy moves forward.  

Even for those who don’t do regular exercise, prenatal yoga is a gentle way to allow you to strengthen your muscles to support your body during pregnancy, prepare for birth, and assist in recovery postnatally.

During pregnancy, changes in your body can happen quickly and your body can need help adjusting and accommodating. Prenatal yoga offers pregnant women optimal ways to stretch and strengthen their muscles to support their growing belly, improve circulation and flexibility.

Prenatal yoga eases common pregnancy complaints such as headaches, back and joint pain, shortness of breath and insomnia. It is important to keep core, abdominal and pelvic muscles strong during pregnancy. Keeping these areas toned and functioning helps support the body, as well as assisting the birth process and recovery after birth.

Even during Covid-19 isolation it is still important to focus on our health and fitness. Our society may be slowing down but pregnancy doesn’t stop or slow down so keeping yourself well is vital. Prenatal yoga is available online so you can continue with your exercise program.

  1. Breathing techniques: what you learn in pregnancy, carries through to birth

Prenatal yoga improves muscle tone and leads you to understand where tension is held in your body. Prenatal yoga teaches you to practice simple breathing techniques to release and let go of tension, especially on days when the current situation seems overwhelming.

Learning and practicing breathing techniques can help assist with reduced lung capacity during pregnancy and in lowering blood pressure.

Breathing techniques practiced during prenatal yoga can be carried through to birth. When in labour, focusing upon your breath cycle and using practiced techniques allow for a smoother and more positive birth experience.

  1. Mum and baby connection: build a bond and prepare to meet your little one

Regularly attending prenatal yoga classes is an act of self-care and a reminder to let go of the stresses of life and focus inward to bond with your developing baby.

Engaging your senses and developing an awareness of this little human living inside your body begins the connection. The pregnant woman can use techniques to visualise their baby and grow this connection.

This is important as the connection will continue between mother and baby during labour and bonding after birth. 

As your belly grows, prenatal yoga helps you learn and appreciate the amazing work your body is doing: growing and nurturing your baby.

  1. Connection with others: building community and support 

Although we are in isolation we do not need to feel isolated. A regular prenatal yoga class creates a sense of community and connects you socially with a support network that continues after your baby is born. 

Nurtured Birth’s prenatal yoga teacher Lanie shared:

I love that we are still able to offer something during this challenging time. It can be so isolating and I worry about expecting mums having to be without all the usual activities that support their growing pregnant bodies. Although it is not my preferred way of teaching, as I do love teaching in the studio and being with people in person getting to know each of the students, I do understand that we all have to be adaptive in this current unprecedented situation.

Prenatal yoga online is a wonderful opportunity to bond with other expectant mums, forming friendships and the beginning of a valuable support network.

To begin enriching your pregnancy journey with prenatal yoga online, please contact us or visit our prenatal yoga page for sign up for yoga classes. 

All prenatal yoga classes during Covid-19 will now be online using Zoom until further notice.

Author: Sharon Clarke, Remedial Massage Therapist at Nurtured Birth

Easy Ways You Can Prepare For Pregnancy Now

How to prepare for pregnancy seems like a no-brainer. Sperm meets egg, cells divide, baby grows…it doesn’t seem that complicated.

But your journey to motherhood starts long before you see that positive pregnancy test. Whether you’re trying to conceive on your own or with medical assistance, preparing for pregnancy is an important step to take to ensure a healthy baby and pregnancy.

Before you get serious about creating a new little human, there are some things you and your partner should think about. If you’ve already started the baby-making process, don’t worry – it’s never too late to make changes to improve your lifestyle and health.

Preconception check-up

The health of each parent is one of the key components of improving your chances of conception and a healthy pregnancy.

It takes about two to three months to form mature sperm and eggs take about 100 days to mature before ovulation. This means your current fertility status is the result of your lifestyle, diet, environment and health from three or so months in the past.

So you can see, it’s important to be as healthy as possible even before conceiving a baby. It’s a good idea for you and your partner to have a health check up to find out if there is anything that interferes with conception or a future pregnancy.

This check-up should take into consideration your diet and lifestyle, your medical and family medical history, any health conditions you have, medications you take, and any previous pregnancies.

Any long-term existing health conditions should have a management plan and be under control before you fall pregnant.

As you prepare for pregnancy, it’s also a good idea to book an appointment to see your dentist. Gum disease has been linked to pregnancy complications such as preterm labour, gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. If you need any fillings or dental work done, it’s better to have it done before you’re pregnant.

Your naturopath and other practitioners can support you to improve your overall health and fertility, to prepare for a healthy pregnancy. Lou from Nurtured Birth explains that an initial consultation with a naturopath would usually involve gaining a comprehensive understanding of your current health condition, past health concerns and other factors which are important for optimal fertility.

Here are some lifestyle tips to look at:

Prepare for pregnancy with nutrition

As said earlier, your current fertility status is the result of the past few months diet and lifestyle. Having both you and your partner in peak nutritional health at the time of conception increases the chances of a healthy baby and pregnancy.

Your body needs a regular supply of nutrients for growth, energy and regeneration. These requirements increase during the beginning of pregnancy to the end, and then beyond in the time after birth as you recover and nourish your baby.

Prepare for pregnancy by boosting your daily nutrients through the food you eat. While the occasional treat is fine, your diet should be comprised of the highest quality foods possible. You can enjoy a balanced diet with protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. As much as possible, avoid processed foods that provide empty calories with no nutritional value, such as biscuits and cakes. Instead aim to eat mostly vibrant, fresh fruit and vegetables.

A good place to start is to see your naturopath for an assessment of your current nutritional status.

This consultation would also include an analysis of your current food intake, with suggestions made to improve your diet. Your naturopath can work with you to create an individualised plan to ensure you get all the nutrition you and your partner need for a healthy conception.

Your baby also needs plenty of nutritional support, from the moment of conception. Adequate levels of vitamins and minerals are vital, including iron, calcium, iodine, omega-3 and selenium. Folate is very important as it helps to prevent spina bifida in babies.

Choose a prenatal supplement carefully or with the help of your naturopath. You may have specific needs which can’t be addressed by a generic prenatal supplement.

Healthy weight before pregnancy

If you are under or over your ideal weight, it’s important to address this before pregnancy if possible.

Being underweight can create problems for women trying to conceive, as it creates hormone imbalances that interfere with ovulation. Women in the underweight range are likely to take more than a year to conceive compared to women in the healthy weight range.

Being overweight can affect sperm motility and count so your partner’s weight also matters.

Conceiving at a healthy weight means pregnancy complications are also less likely to occur, and your baby has a better chance of being healthy at birth and into their future.

This means you are also likely to have a more positive birth experience. Why? Because health conditions increase your risk for complications that need medical intervention.

Prepare for pregnancy with exercise

How your body functions before you conceive can impact how your body copes with the changes that pregnancy and birth brings.

Exercise offers more than just physical fitness. You are learning how to work with your body, releasing feel-good hormones like endorphins, and paving the way to an easier labour and recovery after birth.

Don’t believe us? Studies have found that women who exercise during pregnancy have shorter labours and are less likely to need pain relief.

If you already exercise, you should be able to maintain your current program through most of your pregnancy. Be guided by your body and ensure you don’t overheat or push harder than your abilities.

Yoga, swimming and walking are brilliant ways to increase your exercise if you don’t do any. Yoga has the added benefit of helping you with the mind-body connection, something we’re big on at Nurtured Birth. You can find out more about Nurtured Birth’s prenatal classes here.

Quit smoking, alcohol & social drugs

We’re not here to judge but smoking, drinking alcohol, and taking drugs are the most problematic habits for overall health, fertility and pregnancy.

All of these substances can make it much more difficult to get pregnant and significantly increase the risk of miscarriage, birth defects and stillbirth.

Alcohol can harm a growing baby, causing birth defects, stillbirth and miscarriage. No one has been able to determine a safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, so it’s wise to abstain altogether. Drinking alcohol can also bring down your partner’s sperm count, affecting his fertility as well.

The use of marijuana also decreases sperm density and motility and increases the number of abnormal sperm. Recreational and street drugs are dangerous for you and pose huge risks for your baby.

Women who smoke find they’re more likely to have problems getting pregnant and higher risks of miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth and low for weight babies. Smoking in men causes damage to the DNA in sperm, while also decreasing sperm count and motility.

Babies born to mothers who smoke are at risk of SIDs, as well as health problems in their future. Passive smoking is also a risk for pregnant women and babies, so now’s a good time for your partner to stop smoking.

Caffeine & caffeinated drinks/foods

Most adults drink caffeine in some form or another, whether it’s your morning cup of tea, the coffee you ‘need’ to get through the day, or soft drink, even chocolate! And yes, we think it’s important you watch your caffeine intake.

High intake of caffeine may interfere with your ability to conceive, increase the risk of miscarriage, and of having a baby with low birth weight.

It’s best to limit your intake of caffeine to 300mg a day or avoid it as much as possible. Swap to decaffeinated coffee, try herbal or rooibos teas, and avoid energy drinks which are high in both caffeine and sugar.

Prepare for pregnancy by chilling

You might not think your emotional and mental health is related to your fertility. After all, what your brain is doing shouldn’t affect sperm meeting egg, should it?

We all experience stress and emotional upheavals. Low levels of stress occasionally are normal, we adapt and move on. It’s when we’re going through persistent high levels of stress we start to see the effects, both physically and emotionally. This can also affect fertility, as your body produces stress hormones which impact reproduction, such as interrupting your cycle and decreasing sperm quality.

Not to mention making it less likely you have the time and inclination to actually have sex at the optimal fertile time, adding to the stress of trying to conceive. Managing stress can be easier said than actually done and often couples need solid support in place to help them ease back on the stresses in their lives. Counselling can be a powerful tool, alongside therapies such as massage, yoga and exercise.

Taking stock of your current mental health is important when preparing for pregnancy. It can help you to understand what areas of your life are overwhelmed and need support.

Pregnancy doesn’t just bring physical changes, you are transitioning into a family and this can have a profound impact on you and your relationship. Take the time to invest in communication with your partner to discover how you can support each other on this exciting journey.

At Nurtured Birth we are here to support you as you prepare for pregnancy. Find out more about us and our services here.

Author: Sam McCulloch, Wordsmith at Nurtured Birth