Happy Mothers Day

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Happy Mother’s Day

Registered Charity No. 801395

March & April 2002


Copy deadline for the next issue is Friday 17th May 2002. If you are able to type your contribution and provide it on disk, please use WORD for Windows or ASCII text format. In these days of high technology, you can even email it to Views expressed in this Newsletter are those of the contributors and not necessarily the NCT. The information here is for the use of NCT members only in conjunction with NCT activities and may not be used for any commercial purposes. The conditions of the Data Protection Act may apply. In common with most publications, our acceptance of an advertisement does not imply that we have researched or endorsed a particular product or service.


I am running a set of antenatal classes over two weekends (Sunday 10th and Sunday 17th March). They will be held in the Crafton Day Centre in Stansted and I could really do with some help over the lunch period (between 12 and 1.30pm). I have asked the class members to bring a contribution to a shared lunch and just need someone to help with the setting out and clearing away.

Thorley Community Centre, Bishop’s Stortford
1:30pm - 3:30pm 4th March 1st April 6th May 3rd June Everyone welcome – especially newcomers. A good opportunity to make new friends

If you think you might be able to help, email:

£1 admission per family (including refreshments)

ADVERTISEMENTS If you wish to advertise in a future Newsletter, please contact Virginnia Haslam on 01279 864866 Charges apply as follows: Page Size

Newsletter Committee
Editors: Liz Donna Advertising: Virginnia 08707 65 76 28

Number of Issues
2 3

¼ page ½ page Full page

£10.57 £18.21 £35.25

£18.21 £34.07 £66.97

£22.91 £42.30 £84.60

Publicity Guru Needed!
The branch has lots of events planned this year and we need someone to take charge of publicity. Do you have good communication skills and the confidence to contact the local media? Let Beverly know ASAP!

Copy sizes: Full page 17.7 x 26.5 cm max ½ page 17.7 x 12.8 cm max ¼ page 8.75 x 12.8 cm max Copy deadline for next issue is: Friday 17th May 2002

Hello from the Chair! Springtime greetings to you all. It seems an age since I last sat down to put pen to paper (well actually fingers to keyboard!). Spring is just around the corner and hopefully bringing with it plenty of warm, dry days. As usual your fantastic Post Natal Support team have come up with plenty of fun filled events for you and the children to enjoy. We are always looking for new ideas, events to organise, and places to visit so when you are out and about remember us at the NCT and pass on your thoughts, ideas, and criticisms! The AGM, which was held back in November, seems a distant memory now. It was a great evening that helped us all reflect on the triumphs of the previous year and to focus on the year ahead. Somehow I seem to have managed to be your Chair for another year. When I first took on the mantle of Chair my aim was to raise sufficient funds to train a new antenatal teacher. My aim was well and truly smashed into oblivion – with a fantastic fund raising team chaired by Linda and Dan, and Nicki of the Ball Committee, we raised more money than ever before. Not only do we have sufficient funds to train an antenatal teacher, but also 2 Breast Feeding Counsellors, 2 Post-Natal Discussion leaders and still make a one-off donation of £1500 towards the National Breast Feeding Awareness campaign. From the bottom of my heart, thank you all. Each of the £’s paid at Tea & Toys or coffee mornings make just as big a difference as the £400 bid for a pearl necklace at the Ball! So, you may ask, what is the aim of the committee for the forthcoming year? Having been so successful in raising funds we now need to spend them! Virginia has already commenced her training as an antenatal teacher and we wish her all good luck. Hopefully soon I will be able to tell you about our other trainees. Our aim as a branch this year is to increase our profile within the local community. We want all expectant parents to know about the NCT. We want to educate the local health professionals on the advantages that being a member of the NCT brings to everyone. We want to offer our services to all, not just the local 170+ members that we have. With all of our help we will be able to make the NCT the ‘initial’ initials that are given to all new and expectant parents. If you have just a spare 5 minutes then please do call either myself, or any member of the committee, and I’m sure that we will be able to put it to good use. Take care,

Beverly – Chairperson

I hope you enjoy this edition of the newsletter; it is certainly packed with lots of informative news and articles. Whilst completing the formatting, I came to realise the huge amount of work that Donna puts in to producing this newsletter, a volume of work and commitment that perhaps most of us do not appreciate. Donna – give yourself a HUGE pat on the back. Putting the wrangling with my computer aside, I did enjoy my first go at editing but I must give due credit to my other-half Paul, who despite nicknaming himself ‘the NCT widower’, was kind enough to help out a fair bit!

Liz, Co-editor

As we announced in the last events list, it was decided to hold an EGM on February 5th, following on from our AGM in November. Some of the positions on the committee were open, with no volunteers and the idea was mooted that a possible way forward would be to operate with subcommittees each with a specific and designated role. This way we would be able to operate in a more efficient manner with little (or hopefully no) time and energy wasting. Only one person on each sub-committee would need to report in to the main committee so we could operate in a more business like manner – well that’s the theory anyway! The key committee posts, which we must have filled, are as follows: Chair: Branch Secretary: Treasurer: Membership: Beverly Zoë Rob Dan

The sub-committees that we have agreed on are listed below. These are by no means set in stone and we are always open to ideas and suggestions. If you have a specific problem, idea, or you just want a chat then please contact anyone who is on that committee who I am sure will be willing to help or point you in the right direction! Home Birth Support: Liz, Coordinator 08707 65 62 86 Nearly New Sale Post Natal Support Health Professional Liaison: Emma, Main Contact 08707 65 56 28 Ball: Other key roles, and general committee members are listed at the back of your events list. Each and every one of us are volunteers and, as I have said so many times before (and probably will continue to do so!) if you have a skill, a spare 5 minutes, a friend of a friend who might make a donation (large or small), a husband or partner that might like to help us in any way they can, then get in touch! Please join me in wishing our new committee every success in all that we aim to do in the forthcoming year.



Saturday 18th May 2002 The committee have decided to spend this year focusing on raising the profile of the branch and the services it offers. The ‘targets’ for this campaign will include: expectant and new families, health professionals and the media. With this goal in mind, we will be hosting a Pregnancy, Birth and Baby Exhibition and Seminar Day in the spring. Firstly, there will be an exhibition of pregnancy, birth and baby products and services, ranging from birth pools for hire and baby slings to buy, to information from nursery schools and paediatric osteopaths. Entrance to the exhibition is by donation and refreshments will be available. The second element will be the NCT information area and the seminar room. Each of the services offered by the branch and by the NCT nationally will be on show, from the Home Birth Support Group to the Breastfeeding Line. Local branch members will be on hand to discuss these services and to encourage the local community to make use of and join in with their provision. A whole host of speakers have been arranged to form the seminar aspect, which will be of interest to both the general public and health professionals such as midwives and health visitors: “We forget that the biological event of birth connects us to a community of parents… BABYWISDOM is a collection of voices from many different cultures. Each has a different perspective on aspects of babycare in the first year of life. The many voiced approach allows us to open our minds completely.”

Baby Wisdom

The ‘star of the show’ will undoubtedly be Deborah DEBORAH JACKSON Jackson, a bestselling author of parenting books. She will be discussing some of the findings of her new book ‘Baby Wisdom’ and will be taking questions from the floor. Come along and get hold of your own signed copy of the book! Professor Caroline Flint has been a midwife for 25 years and now runs The Birth Centre in south London. She is a past President of the Royal College of Midwives and has published 5 texts for midwives. Her wealth of experience in antenatal care and childbirth will be of interest to all but in particular, midwives. If we are lucky, Mary Cronk M.B.E., will also be able to join us. Mary has been a member of the NCT since the beginning in the 1950’s and has helped 1600 babies to be born! Mary Cronk is a champion of woman-centred care and holds on to, sadly almost forgotten, skills such as vaginal breech delivery and has embraced the new such as water birth. A truly fascinating woman, sure to interest everyone. Belinda Phipps, the Chief Executive Officer of the NCT, will be joining us to give a national perspective on the Trust, including all the latest news and information on initiatives such as the Breastfeeding Line and the new Birth Policy. Belinda is a very dynamic speaker and we are privileged to have some of her time. As the event will also be the official launch of the branch Home Birth Support Group, we will also have short talk from Claire Davis, Joint NCT National Home Birth Support Coordinator. Come along for a fantastic afternoon out and if you can spare some time to help out, please do let us know! – Health Professional Liaison Sub-Committee

Antenatal Classes We run antenatal courses, usually in the evenings and sometimes at weekends so that dads can also attend. These classes are really popular, so you need to book early. There is a charge for this facility but we do not exclude anyone who is unable to pay. Contact to book or for further information. Breastfeeding Counsellors We have one fully -trained breastfeeding counsellor. Anyone experiencing difficulties or needing help and advice with feeding can phone her for help. This service is free and available to anyone. Contact for advice. Breastfeeding Line NCT counsellors man the NCT Breastfeeding Line seven days a week, 8am-10pm, and can offer support and information on breastfeeding concerns and queries. Tel: 0870 444 8708 Breast Pumps We have several Ameda Egnell electric breast pumps available for hire. This service is available to anyone. Contact for details. Experiences Register There can’t be many new or expectant parents who haven’t at some stage wished they could talk to someone who has experienced the particular problem they are facing, or who simply has more knowledge of a subject. We can put you in touch with someone who knows what you are facing and can provide further information, useful tips or just support. We aim to cover a wide range of subjects − caesarean section, miscarriage, multiple births, crying baby syndrome - so if you’d like to talk to someone, contact Nicki, who will put you in touch with the right person. Home Birth Support Group This informal group meets on the second Wednesday of every month and consists of branch members with experience of Home Birth. They offer information and support to those interested in or planning a home birth. All are welcome - partners, supporters and families (including nursing babies). For further information and support please contact Liz, 08707 65 62 86, Maternity and Feeding Bras It can be difficult to find underwear that is comfortable and practical while you are pregnant or feeding. NCT Maternity Sales offer pretty and practical bras in sizes from 32A to 46J. Our branch has an agent for MAVA Maternity Bras who can provide a free fitting service just before your baby is due. Contact for details.


Maternity Sales Catalogue The NCT have a good Maternity Sales catalogue called BOOM! It contains bras, swimwear, nightwear, baby equipment, books, tapes, toys and gifts. All profits are covenanted back to the NCT so any sales benefit every one of us. For a copy of the catalogue, call 0141 636 0600 or visit the website at Postnatal Support The postnatal support team have a variety of responsibilities, from arranging bumps and babes, inbetweenies and toddler groups, to organising social events for grown-ups. The team are also on hand to introduce new mothers to the local branch and its activities.


For most people pregnancy, childbirth and parenting young children goes ‘according to plan’. We expect the sleepless nights, toddler tantrums and runny noses - and we get them! However, sometimes things are not so straightforward. Antenatal tests, birth experiences, a family crisis or illness in either mum or baby cause a great deal of anxiety. Sometimes medical explanations or reassuring words from friends just aren’t enough to help. A few weeks into my second pregnancy I learned that a ‘harmless cyst’ in my neck was in fact a cancerous tumour. Surgery during pregnancy became inevitable. I’d had doctors’ reassurances about ‘safe windows’ and tremendous support from family and friends, but somehow all of this was not enough. How could I put my unborn child through the risk of major surgery? What I really needed was somebody to talk to who had actually been through the same thing. I needed to hear about the pros and cons from a mum’s point of view and I wanted to hear that somebody else’s baby had sailed through all of this and been fine. I asked my health visitor if she knew of any support groups. She didn’t and could only suggest that I start my own. It was then that I heard about the Experiences Register. Up until that point NCT had simply been the toddler group that I went to on a Friday. I hadn’t been to NCT antenatal classes and, aside from reading New Generation and our local magazine, I didn’t really know a great deal about the other ways that NCT could help. Within a day of phoning our local rep, she had called Alexandra House and found Sally, who lived in Manchester. Not only had Sally had surgery in pregnancy but she had had exactly the same operation at round about the same point. When I spoke to Sally on the telephone I couldn’t think of anything to say at first as the whole thing seemed so overwhelming, but hearing her talk about her positive outcome really helped me to face what was coming. My story has a happy ending. I had the surgery at 19 weeks and it wasn’t as bad as the horrors that I had imagined before I spoke to Sally. My son Sam was born 22 weeks later, 8lb 4oz and a textbook delivery. He was a delightfully happy baby and is now six and a half and still perfect. Sadly, not everybody’s crisis ends so happily, and ultimately many people may have even greater need of a friendly voice on the end of the phone. The NCT Experiences Register will continue to be just as vital for them as it was for me. I’ve just taken over responsibility for Nottingham’s Experiences Register from Lucy Wright. Thanks to her hard work we have a good list of people who are prepared to be contacted about a wide range of issues. Your experience doesn’t have to be a major crisis: it could be something simple like returning to work or having an unusual age gap between children. Philippa Long Eaton Group


Introduction As you may be aware, the branch holds an Experience Register of people who are willing to be contacted about experiences that they have had or particular problems they have encountered, so that they can share their information with others in the same position. It is a vital service and allows us to reach out to people in their time of need. On the next page there is an article written by someone who has been helped by the Experience Register service, which shows just how important this service is. The NCT, as a charity, tries to make sure that our services and activities are accessible to everyone. So while the Experience Register is a service facilitated by the NCT, you don’t have to be a member to join it or use it. How does the branch Experience Register work? Nicki, a volunteer within the branch, runs the Experience Register. She matches the queries of people who ring her with the experiences of those on that Register and puts the two in touch with each other. Before giving out any names and numbers, Nicki would ring the person on the Experience Register to check that it is not a particularly sensitive time and to ask when would be convenient for the other person to ring. People who are willing to join the Experience Register complete a form and return it to Nicki. We appreciate that the information supplied for the Experience Register may be of a sensitive nature; please be assured that it will be handled with care. If you wish to leave the Experience Register, you can do so at any time. If you would like more information about the Experience Register, either before joining it or because you would like to make use of it, please email Nicki, If you would like to join… Your contribution will be valued. Please contact Nicki. Don’t feel restricted by the categories listed – just add whatever you feel is relevant. And please don’t feel that only ‘major’ experiences count. Sharing ‘everyday’ experiences is just as important. We learn to cope with a huge amount throughout pregnancy and early parenthood and it is easy to forget we didn’t always know about those things! At the moment, we don’t have information for all the categories on the form, so perhaps you’ll be the person we’re looking for. Are you already on the branch Experience Register? If you have previously volunteered to be on the Experience Register, you will see that this is a new, much more detailed form. Please feel free to update your entry on the Register by returning the new form to us. Many thanks, Nicki


Why do we need a home birth support group? Home birth is a real option for pregnant women – first-time mums, older mums and those who have had a previous c-section can all give birth at home. In the NCT report Home Birth in the United Kingdom, it is reported that 90% of heads of midwifery across the country believe that home birth is as safe as hospital for ‘low-risk women’. This is echoed by evidence-based research reported in the British Medical Journal in 1996 and a comprehensive study by the National Birthday Trust published in 1997. Labouring and birthing at home provides continuity of care, a relaxed and familiar environment and no separation from family, as well as an increased chance of a natural, intervention-free labour. Women who choose home birth also report experiencing less pain than those who choose hospital. Unfortunately, home birth has become the abnormal choice: the ascendancy of hospital birth and the rule of the obstetrician in the 60s, 70s and 80s has deskilled health professionals responsible for maternal care and the provision of information and responsibility for promoting choice has fallen by the wayside. Only 2.6% of women birthed at home in 2000, whereas a report (Access to Maternity Information and Support) by the NCT in the same year showed that 20% of pregnant women would have liked more information on home birth. Disappointingly, health professionals are not always as supportive of home birth as they could be, particularly GPs (according to the NCT report on home birth and anecdotal evidence), who often put off even low-risk women in the very early stages of pregnancy. Parents-to-be are often told they are not ‘allowed’ to have a home birth, or that they will have to change doctors if they ‘insist’ on a home birth. It is every woman’s right to choose where to give birth and there simply is no case for anyone ‘allowing’ her to birth at home or forcing her to choose hospital instead. Moreover, midwives are qualified to be and often are the sole carers of pregnant and birthing women. Some women and their partners are presented with completely unfounded statements to try to justify why they can’t have a home birth and, sadly, some are even put under emotional pressure by suggestions that they and/or their baby could die as a result of home birth (when, in fact, if you read the article How Safe is Home Birth, you will see there is actually evidence that women who birth at home and those babies born to them suffer less illness and mortality.) Women who do not feel supported by their family doctor, midwife or consultant have less confidence in their decision and may also find gaining the support of their family and friends an even harder task. These are the reasons why nationally the NCT has decided that one of its key campaigning objectives will be to make sure women have the opportunity to choose home birth if they want to, and why Bishop’s Stortford and Sawbridgeworth area now has a Home Birth Support Group. Who is running the group and why? I will be coordinating the Home Birth Support Group and will be hosting monthly meetings. My first baby was born at home, in water in January 2001, and was a thoroughly


enjoyable and empowering experience. During my pregnancy I found information on home birth was hard to come by, reactions to my plans from friends and family were mixed, and I certainly met very few people who were hoping for the same kind of birth, which was at times isolating. Although I met no outright opposition to my home birth, I have subsequently spoken to many women who have (largely through the online home birth support group run by Angela Horn, one of three National Home Birth Coordinators), and find myself thoroughly worked up and eager to do something on their behalf! I therefore feel that I can and should give something back by offering support and information to women planning a home birth in Bishop’s Stortford and Sawbridgeworth and surrounding areas. How will the group work? Informal meetings will be held on the second Wednesday of every month, commencing Wednesday 13th March at 8pm. Anyone with an interest in home birth, however small, will be very welcome – pregnant women and their partners, birth supporters, new parents of home-birthed babies (including nursing babies), parents who planned home birth but had to transfer, experienced home birthers, health professionals, anxious relatives etc. Both NCT members (of any branch) and non-members will be welcome. Over time I hope to put together a library of books, videos and information sheets, as well as a local birth story file. I hope we will be able to swap stories, information and experiences within a supportive environment and, if necessary, make use of local contacts to resolve any problems or difficulties women might be experiencing. There will be at least one home birth dad on hand at all times, which might be of help if there are any reluctant dads out there! Midwives from East Herts and the relevant Essex teams will also attend when they can. In the future I hope it will be possible to arrange for guest speakers to attend meetings. The group will also look at ways in which the profile of home birth can be raised and how awareness of home birth as a real option for normal women can be increased locally. This might take the form of a media or poster campaign, or a fundraising or special event. What can you do to support the group? • If you have had a home birth, or planned a home birth but didn’t stay at home for whatever reason, I would love to include your birth story in the birth file (anonymously if you wish). It will be very useful to prospective home birthers to read birth stories, particularly if they can be matched up in some way, to someone who has had a home birth under similar circumstances (for example, a waterbirth, a first birth or a birth with older children present). If you think you might be able to help with distributing flyers and posters publicising the group to doctors’ surgeries, community health clinics, community centres etc, let me know. If you have a book or video on home birth or a related subject that you no longer wish to keep, why not donate it to the home birth group library? Finally, come along to the meetings! I am sure they will not only be informative but also good fun too.

• • •

Liz 08707 65 62 86


As most of you know, Sticky Fingers is our monthly art and craft workshop for toddlers and young children. Sticky Fingers is getting more and more successful with more children and, inevitably, more mess. Thank goodness the mess is not in our homes! All we ask is that you bring an apron for your child and help to clear away all the mess afterwards! We are very grateful to Office World in Harlow who have very kindly offered to sponsor this event by providing all the supplies we need to keep it running. This is the only way we are going to be able to continue running these hugely enjoyable events. If you are interested in coming along to a future Sticky Fingers, please see the Events List in this Newsletter for details of dates and times and how to book places for your children.

Stansted and District NCT

Nearly New Sale
Saturday 13th April 2001 3 – 4:30pm

Sponsors of Sticky Fingers

Back-to-school equipment Office supplies Stationery
St. Johns Hall, (behind St. Johns Church) St. Johns Rd., Stansted Mountfitchet
We guarantee value for money. If you find the same product cheaper elsewhere within 30 days of purchase we will match the price. Ask in-store for details.

Fantastic Bargains…
email Entrance on donation Refreshments Available

Open 7 days a week


Everyone Please could everyone get in touch with me to ensure that his or her contact details are correct? If you have an email address and you are happy to be contacted via email, please do notify me because electronic communication helps to keep our costs down! Do you know someone who might like to join the NCT? Do you know anyone who is expecting a baby, or who has recently moved into the area that might benefit from all the Bishop’s Stortford and Sawbridgeworth NCT branch has to offer? We’d be happy to send them a copy of the Newsletter and Events List to let them know what’s happening, or you could bring them along to an event so they can experience it first hand and get to know some new friends. Dan, Membership Secretary Email: New Branch Website The branch now has a fantastic new website, the result of a lot of hard work on Dan’s part. The website is still in its infancy but a small team are working on ideas for future improvements. NCT Headquarters have quite strict rules on how the branch can present itself online but we think that, given the constraints, we have created a website to be proud of. The key to getting our website listed on major search engines seems to be use. So, please would everyone that has their own website add a link to the branch site and if anyone knows of any free web listings pages, let Dan know so that we can be added there too. Don’t forget to visit!


Bishop’s Stortford and Sawbridgeworth NCT Present

Pregnancy, Birth and Baby Exhibition Saturday 18th May 2002 1 - 4 pm
Venue: Arrow Electronics Building, Edinburgh Way, Harlow (in vicinity of superstores) Entrance by Donation, Refreshments Available • Speakers to include Deborah Jackson, author of parenting books such as ‘Three in a Bed: The Benefits of Sleeping with your Baby’ and the new critically acclaimed and fascinating book ‘Baby Wisdom’ (book signing on day); Professor Caroline Flint, Independent Midwife and former President of the Royal College of Midwives; Belinda Phipps the C.E.O of the NCT; Claire Davis, Joint NCT National Home Birth Support Coordinator • NCT information stands, manned by post-holders and volunteers who will be telling all our visitors about the wealth of support, services and social opportunities the NCT provides

Companies and individuals exhibiting their services and selling their products, from birth pools to baby sleeping bags

This is going to be a really big day for the branch and we will need as much help as possible. If you are willing to help us out and have some fun, please contact

By Angela Horn, National NCT Home Birth Coordinator In the past, evidence on the safety of planned home birth has been hard to find, because outcomes for all out-of-hospital births have been lumped together. These include unplanned home births – premature babies born suddenly, and concealed pregnancies born after no antenatal care, often with no midwife present. Not surprisingly, the outcomes from such births are often poor. But a planned home birth, with a midwife in attendance and facilities for transfer to hospital if complications occur, is a different matter altogether. To give a fair comparison, studies of the safety of planned home birth usually include outcomes for women who transferred to hospital because of complications in with the outcomes for those who actually gave birth at home. So, what does the research tell us? Women who plan home birth in general tend to have normal pregnancies and to be low-risk overall, and this means that the perinatal mortality rates for their babies are very low (around 1 in 1,000). A growing body of research suggests that, as far as death and serious injury is concerned, planned home birth in these circumstances is just as safe as planned hospital birth. Considering other outcomes, such as birth injuries and caesarean rates, planned home birth actually appears to give better results than hospital birth. We cannot, however, draw conclusions about the safety of home birth for women who are considered high-risk (eg who are expecting a breech baby, or twins) because the research simply has not been done. Does the medical establishment really accept that home birth can be safe? Increasingly, the answer is yes: • A summary of the issues surrounding place of birth published by the UK’s National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit found that: ‘There is no evidence to support the claim that the safest policy is for all women to give birth within hospital… For some women it is possible but not proven that the iatrogenic risks associated with institutional delivery may be greater than any benefit conferred’ [1] The latest edition of a famous text on evidence-based practice for doctors and midwives, A Guide to Effective Care in Pregnancy and Childbirth by Enkin, Keirse et al, says: ‘Several methodologically sound observational studies have compared the outcomes of planned home births (irrespective of the eventual place of birth) with planned hospital births for women with similar characteristics. A meta-analysis of these studies showed no maternal mortality, and no statistically significant differences in perinatal mortality between the groups. The number of births included in the studies was sufficiently large to rule out any major difference in perinatal mortality risk in either direction. Significantly fewer medical interventions occurred in the home birth groups (including women transferred to hospital), and there were significantly fewer low Apgar scores, neonatal respiratory problems, and instances of birth trauma among the babies...’ [2] The British Medical Journal of 23 November 1996 published several large studies on home birth safety, and concluded in its editorial that home birth was ‘safe for normal, low-risk women, with adequate infrastructure and support’ [3]




In 1997, the National Birthday Trust Fund [4] published the most comprehensive analysis ever seen of home birth in the UK. It covered nearly 6,000 women who planned home births in 1994-5. Each woman was matched for risk level and obstetric history with a similar woman in the area who planned a hospital birth. The outcomes for all women who had planned home births, whether they actually gave birth at home, or transferred to hospital because of complications, was then compared to the outcomes for the women who planned hospital births. The study found that: • • • • • • The home birth group had roughly HALF the risk of ending up with a caesarean section than the women who planned hospital births (2.0% versus 4.1%). The home birth group had roughly HALF the risk of ending up with a ventouse or forceps delivery than the planned hospital birth group (2.4% versus 5.4%). Mothers who planned home births were less likely to suffer a postpartum haemorrhage. Babies in the planned home birth group were significantly less likely be in poor condition at birth - ie have an APGAR score below 7 (5.2% versus 9.3%) or to need resuscitation. Babies in the planned home birth group were less likely to suffer birth injuries. Although many mothers at home had access to injected pain relief such as Pethidine, few felt the need to use it. Only 8% of the home birth group received the drug, compared to 30% of the planned hospital births.

REFS: [1] Where to be born? The debate and the evidence By R Campbell and A McFarlane, published by National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, Oxford, 1987, and Campbell & Macfarlane (1994) [2] p250-251, A Guide to Effective Care in Pregnancy and Childbirth By Enkin, Keirse et al, 3rd Edition, published by Oxford University Press, August 2000 [3] British Medical Journal No 7068 Vol 313, 23 November 1996 [4] Home Births - The report of the 1994 Confidential Enquiry by the National Birthday Trust Fund, The Parthenon Publishing Group, 1997


The Breastfeeding Line is a telephone support line manned by NCT counsellors, offering free support and information for women with breastfeeding problems or queries. It was launched on February 2nd 2001 and has been a phenomenal success. In its first year the line received an amazing 12,000 calls and every month sees an increase in callers. A survey of 2,000 callers revealed a high level of satisfaction with the line, and 98% of calls are answered.


Breastfeeding Awareness Week: 12th - 18th May 2002 This year's campaign is aimed at young mothers and mothers-to-be, their families, friends and health workers. Its key messages are: • •

Breastfeeding is convenient - you can do it anytime, anyplace, anywhere Breastfeeding is normal, it's natural and it's your right - it's fine to breastfeed discreetly in front of other people Breastfeeding is the healthiest option for mother and baby

The NCT produces a booklet called You CAN do it Here, which lists companies who have signed up to being breastfeeding friendly, and there is an accompanying sticker to display in shop windows. For Breastfeeding Awareness Week branches will have the opportunity to create their own local versions of You CAN do it Here. If you are interested in helping to create our own branch version, perhaps you could let Beverly know? A study of 19,000 US children born between 1959-1965 found that breastfed children have a 55% lower risk of obesity in adulthood. The researchers found parents frequently gave bottle-fed babies too much formula, and because the brain sets appetite patterns in the first few months of life, this increased their obesity risk. Breast milk contains everything babies need for their first six months, say the researchers. Breastfeeding may actually reduce the risk of breast cancer. Researchers in Iceland looked at over 80,000 women who attended a cancer detection clinic from 1979 and 1995, and found a strong inverse association between the total length of time they had spent breastfeeding and their incidence of breast cancer.

IS THE FOOD YOU EAT MAKING YOU SICK? If you suspect that something you are eating is biting back at you once it’s in your system, then you may have considered getting tested for the truth of the matter. If so, where do you start? Your GP may be helpful and may refer you for testing. If it’s not a case for your GP, then you can pursue the matter yourself. Where do you go? There are organisations that specialise in diagnostic services but usually you must be referred via a qualified nutritionist. Jill van Ristell has a clinic in Brentwood (01277 232300). Testing is carried out using a blood test and may cost from £50 to £150 depending on the extent of testing required. Closer to home, Teresa Powell in Sawbridgeworth will carry out tests using a Vega machine (a machine developed specifically to test for food intolerances); if you want to know more her telephone number is 01279 721401. The most time-honoured method is to exclude the suspect food from your diet for a period of at least two weeks, and see if you feel better. Then reintroduce it gradually and if you begin to feel unwell again you may have found your culprit. Easier said than done, possibly. Finally, if you would like a general chat about your food intolerances allied to a reflexology treatment; try Hazel Cook (01279 505737), who is a mine of information on food intolerance as well as being an excellent reflexologist. Ingrid


We Are What We Eat The word ‘allergy’ is derived from the Greek, meaning ‘altered reactivity’ - an allergy is an adverse reaction to a normally harmless substance, not just pollen or household dust mites, but also food. ‘What is food to one man may be fierce poison to another,’ wrote Lucretius, circa 75 BC; while over three hundred years before that, Hippocrates, on noticing that some people became violently ill after eating cheese, deduced that ‘we are what we eat’. These days that has never seemed more true, with food allergies rarely out of the news. And while the government quite rightly highlights the dangers of drugs, more people die every year as a result of ingesting peanuts than ecstasy. Classic food allergy sufferers – around 1.5% of the population, according to the British Nutrition Foundation – react rapidly, usually within two hours of eating the guilty foodstuff, generally with an itchy rash (urticaria or eczema), oedema (swelling, usually of the lips, tongue and mouth), nausea or vomiting. Very rarely, an extreme reaction called anaphylactic shock sets in, causing breathing difficulties, a drop in blood pressure, unconsciousness, and sometimes death. According to the US-based Food Allergy Network, 90% of all food allergic reactions are caused by wheat (gluten), milk, eggs, peanuts, soya, fish, shellfish or tree nuts. Oranges, pork, coffee, tea, beef, tomatoes, potatoes, yeast, chocolate, corn, sugar, yoghurt, berries, rye, buckwheat, oat, nuts, sunflower, olives and legume vegetables are also common culprits. Peanut allergy • This year at least six people in Britain will suffer a deadly anaphylactic reaction after eating peanuts. • One in 200 people is thought to be allergic to peanuts, but numbers are rising, and fatal reactions can be triggered by contact with a minute trace of nuts. One study at Southampton General Hospital in 1997 showed that as little as 5mg of peanut protein on the skin could cause severe reactions. • In 1990 a liver and kidney transplant patient developed peanut allergy after receiving organs from a man who had died as a result of a reaction to peanuts. • The Department of Health advises that pregnant and breastfeeding women who already suffer asthma, eczema and hayfever should avoid peanuts, and that children under three should not eat foods containing peanut products.


Contacts • Action Against Allergy has a database of NHS and private clinics, dieticians and alternative specialists who treat people with food allergies, three newsletters per year and a book mailing service. Send an sae to AAA, PO Box 278, Twickenham, Middlesex TW1 4QQ for details. Tel: 0208 8922711. • • • • • Books • The Complete Guide to Food Allergy and Intolerance by Dr Jonathan Brostoff and Linda Grant (Bloomsbury, £6.99) – a comprehensive guide to food allergies, with case histories, recent research and nutritional help The New Allergy Diet by Dr John Hunter, Elizabeth Workman and Jenny Woolner (Vermilion, £8.99) – based on clinical trials at the Department of Gastroenterology at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge Not All In The Mind, Dr Richard Mackarness (ISBN 0-7225-3020-X) – the classic thought-provoking study of food allergy and physical and mental health. Now out of print, you can usually get a copy in Bishop’s Stortford library The British Allergy Foundation provides information, advice and support to people affected by allergy: its website is Inside Story magazine details recipes, product reviews and food allergy research The Food Allergy Network – US site with general info, research and links The Breakspear Hospital, Hertfordshire specialises in allergy and environmental medicine, and will take NHS referrals. Tel: 01442 261333 York Nutritional Laboratories offers IgG ELISA tests, which screen for up to 113 foods. Tel: 0800 074 6185 or visit the website at





NESCAFÉ IS FOR MUGS You may know that the NCT supports the Nestlé Boycott but you might not know the whys and wherefores. As with many of these things, the history and the details are long and protracted but the essence is simple and straightforward. Nestlé’s marketing practices violate the World Health Organisation’s International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes with deadly results amongst the world’s poorer populations (and with many implications for our own society, the complexities and subtleties of which are, unfortunately, too numerous to mention here). When the stark reality is that around 1.5 million babies die every year because they are not breastfed (according to UNICEF’s report State of the World’s Children, 1991), and where water is unsafe a bottle-fed child is up to 25 times more likely to die as a result of diarrhoea than a breastfed child, it is vital that the sale and marketing of breastmilk substitutes is regulated. Why does bottle-feeding kill? • • • Unsafe water Inability to adequately sterilise bottle-feeding equipment Expense: it may use up half the family income, therefore increasing family-wide malnutrition; and formula over-diluted to save money leads to inadequate infant nutrition

‘Bottle baby disease’ is therefore a deadly combination of diarrhoea, dehydration and malnutrition. What is the code? The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes was adopted by the World Health Assembly (comprising the ministers of health of the world’s governments, and their advisers, eminent experts in the field of public health or specific health issues) in 1981 as a ‘minimum requirement’ to protect infant health, and is intended to be implemented in full. Although the code is not as legally binding as a treaty or convention, it is an international public health recommendation and carries significant political and moral weight. Article 1 lays out the aim of the code, which in essence is to ensure ‘the proper use of breastmilk substitutes, when these are necessary, on the basis of adequate information and through appropriate marketing and distribution.’ The term ‘breastmilk substitutes’ actually pertains not only to formula, but also to follow-on milks, bottle and teats and all other infant foods/beverages promoted for use under six months of age or as a replacement for breastmilk after six months of age (because the World Health Organisation strongly recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and continued breastfeeding for at least the first two years of life.)


How does Nestlé violate the code?

By providing information to mothers which promotes artificial infant feeding and discourages breastfeeding. By donating free samples and supplies to health facilities to encourage artificial infant feeding. By giving inducements to health workers for promoting its products. By not providing clear warnings on labels of the benefits of breastfeeding and dangers of artificial feeding. In many cases the labels are in a language that mothers are unlikely to understand.


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At first glance, you might not be overcome by the injustice of this list of violations. While you and I have the luxury of informed choice, clean water, literacy and money in the bank, these violations have little, if any visible, impact on our lives. Bottle feeding will not put your child’s life on the line but there really is no contest in the developing world: breastfeeding is easier, safer, cheaper and actually offers numerous health benefits (all the more important in countries where health is compromised on a daily basis). More to the point, it is available to almost all women because it is extremely rare for a woman to be physically unable to breastfeed. Unfortunately, however, multinational companies such as Nestlé seem all too willing to prey on the vulnerability of women and infants in the poorer societies of the world, gambling with lives in order to jostle for market share and brand recognition. The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes doesn’t ban breastmilk substitutes; it simply wishes to ensure that they are marketed safely and appropriately, which is a more than noble cause. What can you do? 1) Boycott Nestlé. The simplest way to do this is to stop buying and drinking their flagship product: Nescafé. If you are offered a cup of Nescafé by a friend or in a restaurant, take the time to explain why you decline. If you have the will, you can successfully boycott all Nestlé products but you will need to read the following list of products and go through your house (and not just your kitchen) with a fine-toothed comb. It can be done (my house is Nestlé free, bar a few Christmas gifts) and I even have friends who have explained the boycott to their school-age children in simple terms, who now in turn make a conscious choice to avoid Nestlé products in the sweet shop. 2) Write to Nestlé and tell them you will be boycotting Nescafé and/or all of their products: Peter Brabeck-Letmathe Nestlé SA Avenue Nestlé 1800 Vevey Switzerland

Or fill in the form here:

3) Join a group such as Baby Milk Action:


Want to know more? You could visit the following websites: (International Baby Food Action Network) (World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action) and you could read the fantastic book by Gabrielle Palmer, The Politics of Breastfeeding.

Nestle Products Confectionery: Aero, After Eight, Animal Bar, Baci, Black Magic, Blue Riband, Breakaway, Cabana, Caramac, Caramel Wafer, Cello, Creamola, Dairy Crunch, Drifter, Eclipse, Festival, Fox’s Glacier Mints, Fruit Pastilles, Good News, Gray & Dunn biscuits, Jellytots, Lion Bar, Karima, Kit Kat, Matchmakers, Milky Bar, Montego, Munchies, Novo, Polo, Quality Street, Rolo, Rowntree, RPC, Savana, Secret, Smarties, Toffee Crisp, Toffo, Tooty Frooties, Walnut Whip, Weekend, Yorkie Cereals: Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cocoa Puffs, Crisp Rice, Energen, Force, Golden Grahams, Lucky Charms, Robertson’s cornflakes, Shredded Wheat, Shreddies, Sunny Jim, Team, Wheatflakes

Beverages: Build-up, Caro, Elevenses, Flo-Mix, Libby’s C Drinks, Milo, Mix-O-Choc, Moonshine, Nescafé (Alta Rica, Blend 37, Cap Colombie, Cappuccino, Decaff, Fine Blend, Gold Blend); Nescoré, Nesfit, Nesquik, Slender, Superquik, Um Bongo Mineral water: Ashbourne, Contrexéville, Perrier, Vittel, Vittelloise

Dairy products: Bonjour, Carnation, Chamby, Chambourcy, Coffeemate, Creme Vienna, Darlky, Flanby, Fulcreem custard, Fussells, Hippopota, Ideal, Jacky, Kremly, Le Grande, Lyons Maid ice cream, Milkmaid, Nouvelle, Robot, Tip-Top

Spreads/pickles: Seasonings: Branston, Gales honey, Holgates honey, Pan-Yan, British Shoyu, British vinegars, Cook-in-theSun-pat, Tartex, Vessen paté Pot, Dufrais, Sarsons. Cosmetics and eye care: Alcon, Claudel, Lancome, L’Oreal Processed food: Alphabetti, Bonne Cuisine, Buitoni pasta & canned foods, Crosse & Blackwell, Dish of the Day, Eskimo, Findus, Four Seasons, Healthy Balance, Lean Cuisine, Maggi, Pasta choice, Rice & Things, Scrunchies, Waistline Pet foods: Friskies, Go-Cat, Go-Dog Supermarket own-name brands: Nestlé makes Tesco’s Bran Flakes, Cocoa Flakes, Cocoa Puffs, Corn Flakes, Puffed Rice and Sultana Bran; and the Co-op’s Easy Serve Ice Cream, Peanut Butter and Rich Chocolate Mousse. Nestlé makes nothing for Budgen. Sainsbury’s and Safeway refuse to reveal who makes their products.


Washable Nappies: Dispelling the Myths

Myth: washable nappies give babies nappy rash. Fact: independent studies have shown there is no causal link between the type of nappy used and nappy rash. Bottom soreness is caused by a reaction between the chemicals in faeces and urine and poor bottom hygiene. Because you use a one-way liner with a washable nappy, baby’s bottom stays dry even if the nappy is wet, so a cloth bottom is no more likely to get sore than a disposable

Myth: washable nappies make baby hot and sweaty in the summer. Fact: washable nappies are made from cotton and modern nappy wraps are made from breathable materials such as fleece, cotton, polyester and wool, ensuring that baby is cool and clean. In fact, in German tests looking into a possible link between the worldwide decline in male sperm counts and nappies, it was found that baby boys in disposable nappies with high plastic content had higher scrotum temperatures than baby boys in cloth nappies.

Myth: washable nappies are laborious. Fact: washable nappies do take a few more seconds to put on but that only means a few more minutes each day. They are not ‘complicated’ at all – even husbands and grandfathers can manage them! And what is one extra load of washing when you have children?

Myth: washable nappies make the house smell. Fact: washable nappies do not smell overly offensive if you wash every third day or so. In fact, after using washables for a week, you will find that a disposable nappy will suddenly have an unpleasant, chemically smell.

Myth: washable nappies are bulky and stop babies from moving around. Fact: washable nappies are bulky but you managed to crawl and walk in your Terries, didn’t you? A well-known benefit of a cotton bottom is that it is well-padded for when baby falls down! Some American paediatricians think that the rise in spinal injuries in babies is caused by the rise in disposable nappy use. The only consideration to be made with washables is the need for clothes with bigger ‘bums’.

Myth: washable nappies need to be soaked, rinsed, bleached and boiled. Fact: washable nappies can simply be stored ‘dry’ in a bucket till wash day, when a 60°C wash (40°C for wet-only nappies) will suffice. Some people like to add essential oils to their nappy buckets, some like to programme the machine to prewash and super rinse, others like to add vinegar or bicarb to the machine but these are all just personal foibles and by no means necessary.

Disposable Nappies: Counting the Cost Nationally… • We use and throw away eight million disposables every day. • They constitute 4% of household waste. • For every £1 spent on them, it costs taxpayers 10p to dispose of them. • The total annual cost for their disposal is £40 million. In Essex… • 15,000 babies are born every year. • They create 23,000 tonnes of nappy waste. • This means a quarter of a million nappies are buried in Essex landfill sites every day. • And the residents of Essex are liable for £1 million each year to collect and dispose of single-use nappies. To manufacture disposable nappies instead of cloth nappies… • Uses 3.5 times more energy. • Uses 90 times more non-renewable material. • Requires four times the land for growing natural materials. • In the UK uses seven million trees per year. • And takes a full cup of crude oil to make enough plastic for one disposable – (because disposables are almost 100% extruded plastic, despite their cottony feel.) Some parts of disposable nappies are estimated to take at least 500 years to decompose on a landfill site. • • • • • One baby will need about 6,000 disposable nappies between birth and 2.5 years. Only 24 reusable nappies would be required for the same period and can be used for 2nd, 3rd, 4th.… children. To keep a baby in this many disposable nappies could cost between £650 and £800. If you buy and wash cloth nappies you could save £600 on the first child alone! In 2000, lab tests carried out in Germany (commissioned by Greenpeace) and subsequent tests carried out in the UK (commissioned by the Women’s Environmental Network) found tributyl tin (TBT) in several leading disposable nappy brands. TBT is known to interfere with human sex hormones and the immune system. It is not known what (if any) effect TBT might have on babies wearing disposable nappies.

Facts and figures taken from the websites of the Women’s Environmental Network (, the Real Nappy Association ( and Essex County Council Environmental services (


ARE THEY SITTING COMFORTABLY – AND SAFELY? According to the Hertfordshire County Council’s Road Safety Unit, 80% of children’s car seats are incorrectly fitted, while national statistics show that a scary 13% of children aged from birth to four years are not restrained in any way when travelling in the back of the car. Is it any wonder that every year 16,000 children are injured while travelling in a car and around 70 children under 15 are killed? Or that 90% of those injuries and two out of three deaths could have been avoided if child car seats had been used correctly? IT’S THE LAW! • By law, all children under three must have an appropriate child restraint when travelling in the front seat of a car – one that is suitable for their weight and which can be fitted correctly into the car. They must also use an appropriate restraint in the back, if available. It’s illegal to hold a baby while you’re sitting in the front seat of a car (we’ll presume this only applies while it’s in motion…) You are allowed to transport a baby in a rigid carry cot (not a Moses basket) on the back seat, with the cover on and using special straps to secure it – but it won’t provide much protection from the forces generated in an accident. The driver is responsible for ensuring that passengers under 14 years are suitably restrained and is liable to prosecution otherwise. It’s a legal requirement that all seats display the British or European Standard R44.03 on their labels. Children between aged between three and 11 and under five feet (1.5m) must use an appropriate child restraint if available; if not, an adult seatbelt must be worn. If they are over five feet tall, they must use an adult seatbelt if one is available.

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DO • • Remember that it’s not the child’s age that’s important when choosing a car seat, but their weight. Take into account the car(s) in which the seat will be fitted – you may find that the seat belt in some models is not long enough to fit round the seat or that the buckle rests on the seat, which it shouldn’t. (If it can be used both rear and forward facing, check it fits properly both ways before buying.) Ask the retailer to let you try the seat out first to ensure it fits before you buy it – if they refuse, take your custom elsewhere! Follow the manufacturer’s fitting instructions to the letter, and keep them handy so if anyone else is driving your children, they know how to fit the seat properly too.



• Check the seat is correctly fitted on every trip (once, still in a post-pregnancy haze, I drove back from Tesco with Angus safely strapped into his seat, but the seat itself just resting on the back seat – a true blood-runs-cold moment when I came to lift him out…). It should not move more than an inch – this may mean using your knee to persuade it snugly into the back of the car, and then yanking on the seat belt so it’s as tight as possible (weight training may come in useful here). Check the harness is tightly adjusted on every trip – especially important as winter gives way to spring, and clothing is less bulky. You should not be able to insert more than two fingers under the harness across the child’s chest, collarbones or shoulders. In a forward facing seat with a harness, ensure the shoulder straps are at or below the child’s shoulders. Use the seat on every trip – most accidents happen on short drives close to home, and the average collision speed is 22mph. A child can be killed by being thrown forward at as little as 5mph.



DON’T • Never place a child safety seat in a passenger seat with an airbag – in fact, the latest safety advice is that no child under 14 should use a front seat with an airbag. If your car seat will only fit in the front seat and there is an airbag there, get it deactivated by your dealer (however, this may affect your car insurance, so don’t forget to tell your policy providers). Never use a seat that has been involved in an accident – for this reason, don’t buy secondhand seats. Never modify the seat in any way. Never fit a child seat with anything other than a seat belt or the manufacturer’s approved fitting kit. Never fit a seat belt under a child’s arms – if you crash, their upper body won’t be restrained. The diagonal belt should always go over the shoulder – but away from the face and neck. Use the locking guide to ensure it’s fastened firmly and is not slack. Never allow your child to play with the buckles on the harness or car seat belt. If they do, stop the car and refuse to drive any further until the situation is resolved. This applies equally to stroppy eight-year-olds going on 20 who think it’s uncool to use a seat or booster – no seat, no ride.

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The Bishop’s Stortford health visitors present an informative car safety talk several times a year as part of their excellent Post Natal Support Group programme. Meetings are held on Fridays from 1-2.30pm at Canterbury Ward, Herts and Essex Hospital. Topics covered range from sleep problems, child’s play, language development, safety, returning to work and aromatherapy to an essential resuscitation class. You can have a tea or coffee and it’s a great opportunity to meet other parents and widen your social circle! Ring 01279 827311 for more details of the next car safety talk.

There are four main centres available for advice on in car safety if you live in this area.
1. Car Safety Centre, Edinburgh Way, Harlow (at the Road Safety Track just past the Burger King roundabout on the right). Open on the first and third Friday of each month from 10am to 2pm, they are extremely helpful, knowledgeable and patient and have a wide range of seats to try (but not to sell). There is a safety officer based in Epping; contact Linda Hague on 01992 564000. 2. The Road Safety Office in Enfield, not too great a trot down the M11, has around 120 approved child seats, which you can try out in your car(s) to ensure the seat belts will fit. The Try Before You Buy service is free, but you must make an appointment – call 020 8379 3638. It will also check any seat you already have, and holds regular in-car safety exhibitions. 3. In-Car Safety Centre, 5 Erica Road, Milton Keynes, Beds; tel: 01908 220909 They are open every day and are on a larger scale than Harlow but if you are unlucky in your choice of timing you may have to wait. However, it is worth it in terms of the choice of seats available to try and buy, and for the care and attention given to finding the correct seat fitted correctly in your car or cars. 4. Quickfit. Inertia House, Lowther Road, Stanmore, Middlesex; tel:020 8206 0101 The in-car safety officer for Hertfordshire County Council says this is a similar set up to Milton Keynes and is highly recommended, particularly where disability or other special needs are involved. It will also sort out seat belts that are too short for child seats. Note: if you know what you need, they can also do mail order.


Hertfordshire County Council have an in-car safety officer, Barbara Crane, 01992 556814. She is extremely helpful and well informed and is genuinely dedicated to the cause of in-car safety. She agrees that too many children, once they reach toddler stage, are put onto booster seats years too early; if they do not wriggle off the seats they are too small to be appropriately protected in the case of even quite minor accidents. She runs a number of schemes: • Trained staff at certain retailers: Halfords, South Street, Bishop’s Stortford, 01279 506579 Bushbabies in Ware, 01920 484555 Mothercare World in Brookfield Farm, Cheshunt (01992 636625), Stevenage (01438 750211) and Watford (01923 246093) Trained staff at the following Bishop’s Stortford garages: Charvill Brothers, Stansted Road, 01279 755100 L J Shepherd, Dane Street, 01279 757700 Sewell Ltd, Stansted Road, 01279 755906 Staff will give you an expert and entirely free check of your car seat and it’s fitting Child seat checking days at supermarket car parks. There are usually about ten over the course of the year. The first this year will be in March and may take place at Sainsbury’s, Thorley – call Barbara for further details. She will meet you at a retailer if you are about to buy a car seat and need specific help in making the right decision and getting it fitted properly. Again, call her to make an arrangement. She will also do talks and demonstrations for groups





Generally the advice from all parties is: do not buy a seat unless it can be tried in the car for correct fitting. If the retailer will not come out to your car to ensure it will fit and show you how to fit it properly then go to a source which will give that service or visit an in car safety centre for their advice. If you have any doubts about a car seat you are already using or have just bought, do the same as soon as you can. If you have any doubts about how safely and securely your child is seated in a car – get advice and do not rely on good luck!

Gill & Ingrid


The architect who planned Harlow New Town, Sir Frederick Gibberd, made his home in the countryside near Old Harlow. He found a large plot of land of several acres sloping down to a stream, in the middle of fields, and over the years created a most unusual garden. It is divided into a number of distinct areas and there are surprises at every turn. If, on the London train a little after Sawbridgeworth, you have ever spotted a very tall Grecian column just visible above the trees of a wood by the railway line and wondered what or where it was, you will find your answer at the Gibberd Garden. After visiting the garden every child will wish for an architect grandfather –a motte and bailey castle he built for his grandchildren is in one corner. It must be 20 feet in diameter and ten feet high, a grassy mound with a castle on top, surrounded by an eight foot moat diverted from the stream that runs through the bottom of the garden, and crossed by a proper working drawbridge. Great battles for the castle alternated with charges to the big tree swing up the hill, which overlooks it. It was hard to drag the children away from the castle to play hide and seek in the marshy bamboo jungle. There is lots to delight adults in the garden and plenty of scope for children to explore and play games, not only on the castle. It’s not a plantsman’s garden with classic borders, much more a landscape garden playing with sculptures, little buildings, paved pathways on a woody slope. I am very fond of the huge shiny stainless steel sculpture that looks like a bird or an insect on First/Mandela Avenue in Harlow – other smaller pieces by the same sculptor are in the garden and you can find out his name. Sloping down a small valley to Pincey Brook, An excellent tea room near the house served tea Sir Frederick Gibberd’s garden has been and home-made food and cakes when we visited. described as ‘one of the most important in It was also selling some autumn produce from the the history of the 20th century.’ Sir garden – apples and a variety of ornamental Frederick Gibberd, who was appointed gourds! master planner of Harlow New Town in 1946, was also the architect of the famous The Gibberd Garden is off the B183 Sheering and idiosyncratic Liverpool Catholic Road, just outside Old Harlow. It is signposted to Cathedral (known locally as Paddy’s the left along Marsh Lane. As you drive there you Wigwam), and the landscape architect for will see why my abiding impression of the house the Kielder Reservoir in Northumberland. and garden is of its being hidden away and in the He designed and made his garden from the middle of nowhere yet only minutes from Harlow late 1950s until his death in 1984. ‘Garden and Sawbridgeworth. Well worth a visit, with or design is an art of space, like architecture without children. and town design. The space… must be The garden is run by The Gibberd contained and the plants and walls enclosing Garden Trust and is open Saturdays and Sundays it then become part of the adjacent spaces,’ 2-6pm from Easter Sunday to he once explained. ‘The garden has thus the end of September. Admission is £3 become a series of rooms, each with its own (concessions £2), children free. character, from small intimate spaces to Tel: 01279 442112. large enclosed prospects.’ Among its many groves, glades and alleys are 50 sculptures, John pools and a gazebo.


I grew up here in Bishop’s Stortford and when it came to swimming lessons my mother would drive us over to Saffron Walden because they had the luxury of an indoor pool. Bishop’s Stortford at that time had an outdoor pool roughly on the site on the present library. I still remember school swimming lessons where you were pushed in if you had not got in by the count of five. Inviting it was not on all but a handful of days during the height of summer. Bishop’s Stortford was bigger than Saffron Walden then and has expanded over the years at a much faster pace. Saffron Walden has managed to retain its market town feel and more individual shops. We have the benefit of M&S, Next, ELC etc but parking is difficult and our individuality as a town has virtually gone. The swimming pool here in Bishop’s Stortford was built on a flood plain and, not surprisingly, this autumn it flooded badly. It will reopen sometime in March and when it does the facility will be desperately over-stretched. Uttlesford District Council is building a new facility in Great Dunmow and a dry leisure facility in Stansted in the near future as well as putting £600-800k into a facelift for the Lord Butler Centre in Saffron Walden. The facilities available there now far exceed anything we have here in Bishop’s Stortford. The current population for Saffron Walden is 15,000, while for Bishop’s Stortford it’s 33,210 and growing. Perhaps it is time for East Herts District Council to plan ahead and consider building a new leisure centre on land off the bypass with ample parking, facilities that will cope with the population as envisaged in five years time. It could be run by a private management company who can maximise usage of the facility and press for its continuous maintenance. But that would involve planning and EHDC just doesn’t do planning for Bishop’s Stortford – look at Rascals (minimal parking), McDonald’s (down a cul-de-sac), leisure complex and cinema (no parking at all) Bishop’s Stortford suffers as it is right on the fringes of East Herts and the councillors from Ware and Hertford can band together to prevent projects that might be beneficial or grant applications that may not be in our best interests as proposed. There is a large area of land on the town side of the bypass from the roundabout near Homebase etc up to Tesco’s earmarked for residential development. It will happen in some form and be labelled airport-related development. As with all the recent developments the people moving in will need to shop, be educated, receive healthcare provision etc within Bishop’s Stortford but the infrastructure of the town has limits on the development it can sustain even if money were unlimited. The saddest fact is that the planning required to meet the demand is sadly lacking. The houses have been built in large numbers and existing primary schools are full to bursting. Where do these children go for their secondary education? If you’ve just moved in to the area, it is lovely and everywhere is changing. If you like it let us all try to protect what we have so that more can be welcomed to an area where we all enjoy facilities planned to meet our needs.



With Easter being so early this year, I am sure there will be lots of miserable days when the children need to do something different. There is fun to be had (hopefully) with chicks, lambs and rabbits but, I have also tried to include a few activities for the slightly older ones too –have fun!

• Chocolate Nests : melt 225g of cooking chocolate in a bowl (either over hot water or in a microwave). Break up Shredded Wheat until it resembles grass and mix into bowl of melted chocolate (about 8oz per child) then stir, making sure everything is well coated. Put largish spoonful into paper cases and make a hollow in the middle of each to put in little chocolate eggs. Looks pretty impressive with limited skill input. Easter biscuits: mix 4oz of butter and 4oz of sugar, then add 6oz of flour and one egg. Cut out fancy shapes (Maslens sell metal animal ones ) and bake at 180°C/gas mark 4 for about ten minutes. When cool, decorate with yellow and green swirls etc. Easter eggs: hard boil eggs, adding a few drops of food colouring when cooked and cooled. Decorate with felt pens. Easter Egg Tree: take bare twigs, dry and then paint (bright green, yellow or white). Make tree by standing twigs in Oasis/Plasticine etc and put in a pretty pot. Then make Easter baskets (cardboard circle decorated then formed into cone), attach ribbon and fill with homemade biscuits/little eggs. Technically, these should be kept for Easter Sunday, but my children don’t have that much willpower! Marbled eggs: cut out largish egg shape from paper. In a tray (use an old roasting tray) add one dessertspoon of oil to about one inch depth of water, sprinkle some paint (ready mixed preferably) and swirl together. Drag largish paper egg shape over surface and leave to dry. This paper also makes pretty baskets for Easter Eggs tree. You can make these into lovely Easter cards too.


• •


Easter cards: cut out basic templates of eggs (big oval), rabbit (little circle on top of big circle with long thin ovals for ears) and chicks (little circle at edge of big circle with triangle for beak and tiny black circles for eyes). The permutations for this one are endless - tissue paper balls, cotton wool, paint, crayons, pipe cleaners for legs and rolls of narrow strips of paper for fur. Easter bonnets are fun, especially if a few children get together and have a ‘hat parade’. Just measure child’s head and cut right strip of cardboard, stapled together to form band - add eggs, rabbits, paper flowers, lots of yellow ribbon etc. Happy Easter! Judith


Arrington Royston (eight miles southwest of Cambridge) Tel: 01223 207257

If you haven’t been to the lambing weekends at Home Farm, now’s your chance. Very popular and appeal to all ages. From 23rd March open 10.30-5pm every day: Open weekends from 11-4pm beginning of April: Lambing weekends: 6/7th, 13/14th, and 20th/21st April Admission to farm: £4.90 adults £2.80 children Under threes free

White Stubbs Lane Broxbourne Tel: 01992 470490

As well as all the ‘usual’ animals, Paradise lets you get up close and personal with fabulous tigers. Lots to do and see. Easter Egg hunts are planned for the holidays but no details available at time of writing. Phone nearer the time. Opening hours: 10am-5pm, seven days a week Admission charges (until £8 adults 31st March 2002) £6 children Under twos free


Audley End Near Saffron Walden Tel: 01799 541354 (Estate Office)

AUDLEY END HOUSE (English Heritage)
Tel: 01799 522399 (information line)

If you’ve only visited the train ride to see Santa, why not take a trip to admire the spring flowers. Audley End House and Gardens open on Good Friday for the summer season, so take a picnic and combine the two. Train rides start on March 23rd every day for the Easter holidays, then after that the train is open every weekend until the summer. Train times: 2-5pm Train charges £2.20 adults £1.20 children


Bridge End Gardens Saffron Walden Tel: 01799 510444 (Saffron Walden Tourist Information) If you’re looking for something to do that won’t cost a penny, the Maze at Saffron Walden is worth a visit. Collect the key from the Tourist Information Office in Market Square (a small deposit is required). No advanced booking is required but I’d phone just to check. Small children love mazes and nearby on Swan Common is the rare grass maze, one of only a handful in Britain. There is also a small play area.

Cambridge Corn Exchange Tel: 0123 357851

The stars of CBBC live on stage with a brand new show starring Polkaroo, Marigold, Bear, Humpty & Dumpty, plus Bibble. Ideal for children aged two to seven. Show times: Tuesday 2nd April 1.30pm and 4.30pm Wednesday 3rd April 10.30am and 1.30pm Tickets: £8 adults £6.50 children £25 family ticket (two adults and two kids)


Something to do locally that appeals to a wide age range – history for grown ups and older children and lots of friendly animals roaming freely for the young ones. Opening times: From 10th March, 10-5pm, seven days a week Prices: Castle There is a discount for £5 adults visitors to both £4 children attractions on the same day. Museum £4 adults £3 children

Widdington Near Newport Saffron Walden Tel: 01799 540400

Even if you’ve been lots of times before, young children always seem to enjoy Mole Hall – perhaps because it’s on a small scale. Try to time your visit to see the otters being fed – smelly but fun. The Butterfly Pavilion opens for the summer in March (as does the café). Tickets: £5 adults £3.50 children Under threes free

HATFIELD FOREST (National Trust)
Tel: 01279 870678 (Head Warden) Still one of the best places to go locally although the inner car park opens at Easter, which spoils walking on the road with unreliable toddlers as you are constantly looking over your shoulder to watch for cars (and you have to pay £3 to park from Easter if you’re not a member). However, the loos have now been improved (hurrah!), as have the paths around the café area. On Easter Sunday there is the traditional Easter Egg Hunt in the forest organised by Dunmow Round Table. No need to book, just turn up. A small charge per child is payable (wasn’t able to find out exactly how much but ‘probably a couple of quid’!)


Studio Theatre Harlow Playhouse Tel: 01279 431945

Join Pandora to find the hidden treasure. Lots of joining in, slapstick comedy and fun. Perfect for the under tens. Show times: Tickets: Thursday 4th April, 2pm Friday 5th April, 11am and 2pm £5 adults and children

With all these places to visit, you are sure to have a fantastic Easter break! Louisa


Bishop’s Stortford and Sawbridgeworth NCT

Home Birth Support Group

Informal monthly meetings in a supportive environment ALL WELCOME: Parents-to-be, birth supporters, new parents (and nursing babies), experienced home birthers and anxious relatives (both NCT members of any branch and non-members)

• Library of books, videos and leaflets • Learn about home birth • Discuss plans, raise queries • Share experiences and swap stories • Occasional guest speakers

• At least one home birth dad on hand at every meeting! • Local knowledge and contacts • Midwives from relevant Herts/Essex teams often attend

Meets second Wednesday of every month, commencing Wednesday 13th March 2002 at 8pm
Call or email for venue details 08707 65 62 86


Please welcome friends to our events. The more they know about the NCT, the more we will benefit…and so will they! Perhaps they would like to join us as members or just benefit from the information that we have to offer them.

We hold coffee events at people's houses on different days and times each week. Bring your children along to play whilst you enjoy a coffee and a chat with other parents. Refreshments are 50p per family. Please bring your own nappies, wipes etc. Breastfeed when you want; if you and your baby prefer it a quiet area will be provided. The host will provide a jug and hot water to heat bottles if needed.
All of the groups are approximate ages and welcome siblings. Bumps n Babes: Blooming Tummies to Unsteady Walkers (0 – 14 months) Inbetweenies: Unsteady Walkers to Surefooted Strides (14 months – 2 years) Toddlers: Surefooted Strides to Pre-school (2 years – 4 years)

Email for details

TEA & TOYS – First Monday of Every Month, 1.30-3.30pm, Thorley Community Centre, B/S Tea & Toys is a great opportunity for everyone to join in no matter what the ages of your children – there is even a special soft area for babies with bouncy chairs and baby gyms making new mums particularly welcome. We now have use of a brand new, spacious and very well equipped hall so come along and meet up with old friends and make some new ones. Refreshments, lots of toys, crafts, a separate baby area and the added attraction of some interesting sellers each month, such as children’s clothes, cards, books and cosmetics. Cost is £1 per family. Contact

STICKY FINGERS – Second Tuesday of Every Month, 2.30–4pm at the Markwell Pavilion, B/S. If you feel guilty that you can’t face getting those paints out or the idea of playdough on the carpet turns you into a quivering wreck then maybe STICKY FINGERS is for you! We are going to run a messy play session on the 2nd Tuesday of the month open to all ages. All we ask is that you bring along an apron for your child to wear. The cost is £1.50/child (£1 for siblings) Contact


MUSICAL MOVEMENTS – Third Wednesday of Every Month, 2.30 - 3.30pm at the Markwell Pavilion, B/S A lively and danceful session with full active participation with children and their “big people” open to all walking ages and will include songs, action rhymes, stories and percussion with the aim of introducing young children to the joys of music-making and dancing. So get those vocal cords working, those toes tapping and come and join us! The cost is £1.50/child (£1 for siblings) Contact HOME BIRTH SUPPORT GROUP – Second Wednesday of Every Month, 8pm This informal group meets on the second Wednesday of every month and consists of branch members with experience of Home Birth. They offer information and support to those interested in or planning a home birth. All are welcome - partners, supporters and families (including nursing babies). Midwives form relevant Herts./Essex teams often in attendance. Contact: Liz, 08707 65 62 86

LUNCH AT THE COACH & HORSES Tuesday March 5th at 11:30 – 1:30 Join us at a lovely pub that welcomes children and adults alike! The food is good and the atmosphere is clean and cheerful. Choose from a lovely menu and if it is a sunny day, there is a garden to enjoy. Contact EASTER EGG HUNT Tuesday March 19th at 2:30pm, Venue TBC £1 per child. Contact EASTER PARTY Thursday March 28th, 3-5:30pm, St. Michael’s Mead Community Centre Lots of Easter fun and games. £1.50 per child. Contact CHILDREN’S COOKING CLASSES – AGAIN! Wednesday April 24th at 10:30 - 12am Messy, mucky and outright fun. Please wear appropriate clothing and bring a plastic cooking bowl…both adults and children. Please book early…it has been a successful event! There are 8 adult/child spaces at £1.50 per child. Contact


HATFIELD FOREST NATURE EXPLORE & COFFEE Tuesday April 30th at 10 – 12 What a nice way to keep your children occupied and interested in nature! We will be exploring the different things that nature presents to us…leaves, flowers, animals as well as lots more. Each child will be given a bag for collecting treasures and we will also do some crayon impressions! Please dress for the weather and expect a bit of a mess! Rain or shine…we will meet at the coffee house inside Hatfield Forest. Contact

PIZZA NIGHTS Let’s eat out of the box, have a glass of wine and chill out. A perfect evening and keep it as relaxed as possible. Dominos’ Pizza is always hot and delicious! Contact CHEESE & WINE NIGHT Thursday 14th March at 8pm Contact CHINESE MEAL Friday April 26th at 8pm Contact


Chairperson Branch Secretary Treasurer Membership Secretary Beverly Zoë Rob Dan

Antenatal Class Bookings Breast-feeding Counsellor Breast Pump Agents Rachel Bridget Sue Donna Experience Register Health Professional Liaison Home Birth Support Group Coordinator MAVA Bra Agent Newsletter Advertising Newsletter Editors Nicki Emma

Liz Sue Virginnia Liz Donna

Tea & Toys Coordinator



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