Midwife Cath on the thing that every birthing mother gets wrong.

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What are you planning to have in your “baby bag”?

The perfect “going home” outfit? Nappies, your birth plan (laminated), soothing music, jelly snakes, fairy lights and a pot plant to set the perfect scene? Some lippie for the post-birth selfie?

WRONG WRONG WRONG, says Midwife Cath – a woman who has had more than 40 years experience at more than 10,000 arrivals.

She says she’s seen a lot of change in her years of helping women have babies – from rugged 70s ‘active births’ to nine years of Enya CDs – and the thing that’s changed the most is we have all become control freaks.

“The generation now is so obsessed with what temperature the room is going to be, what clothes the baby’s going to be wrapped in… There are so many things that have put a fear-factor into parenting, when really it’s about common sense.

“It’s about feeding your baby, it’s about loving your baby, it’s about keeping your baby close to you. It is hard work, we all know that, but it should be uncomplicated. And what I think has happened is that birth has become more complicated.

Midwife Cath Curtin - telling it like it is. 

"People talk about calm birth and hypno birth and birth plans but you just can't plan it. We don't even know what's going to happen. We start you at the beginning and hope it goes well...

"What I say is that you have to trust. The outcome we're going for is a healthy mother and a healthy baby, and whatever way that baby comes out, that's fine."

As for your calming music? Good luck with that.

"After personally listening to Enya for nine years straight, all I say to them is that Enya will not dilate your cervix."

A photo posted by Rebecca Judd (@becjudd) on


Cath also told us on This Glorious Mess about some of the most remarkable things she's seen in the delivery room. She's seen a woman give birth within an hour ("that's really too fast") and she's seen babies crawl up to their mother's nipple ("Sometimes I give them a little nudge, like 'hurry up'") to start suckling, and yes, babies born in their caul.

Cath - whose new book is called The First Six Weeks - is no believer in getting your baby on the "7pm sleep bus" - she advocates a late-night bath when Dad should wash them, wrap them and - deep breaths, parenting police - give them a bottle of formula.

"I send the mums to bed and get the dads to bath at 10pm and give the bottle of formula. I was watching people bathing babies at 6pm and if you look a baby in those first 6-10 weeks, they want to settle about 10 or 11 at night.

"The formula is not bad for the baby, it's absolutely okay. I get criticised for saying that. I breastfed, and breastfeeding is number one... but what I also promote is a happy mum, and if a mum can get four or five hours sleep starting from two or three weeks, everyone's happy."

Do you agree with Cath that birth plans have got too complicated? 

Listen to the full episode of This Glorious Mess here: