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The Birthing Room seeks to empower parents through evidence-based education about pregnancy, childbirth and parenting.

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Winner winner, chocolate brownie dinner!

choc brownie

Ever on the hunt for more good food, I took out Lauren Parsons' book "Real food, less fuss" from the public library this week. In doing so I discovered not only a great informational book on nutritious eating, but the best, healthiest chocolate brownie recipe ever! No kidding, this actually tastes like chocolate brownie, and yet it is packed with good nutrients. For once, this recipe actually made more than our family needed (meaning I could put a whole lot in the freezer for another night's dessert), and it was pretty cheap to make compared to many other healthy dessert recipes. It's also vegan friendly and could easily be converted to gluten free. This recipe would be an ideal one to make during pregnancy and then freeze in individual portions for you and your family to enjoy in the newborn phase. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!


1/3 cup of cacao or cocoa powder

1 cup wholemeal flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

90g dark chocolate, chopped

60g raw walnuts (we did half walnuts, half Brazil nuts)

1 cup stewed apple*

3/4 cup date puree*


  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees C (340F) and line a square baking dish.
  2. Combine the first four dry ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Chop the chocolate and nuts and mix in all the remaining ingredients until just combined. Avoid over-mixing.
  4. Transfer to the baking dish and press down flat. Cook for 25-30mins until set in the centre. Allow to cool for 10mins before cutting with a sharp knife. 

Serves 12, prep time 10mins, cook time 30mins

*Stewed apple

Remove cores of 3-4 apples, leaving skin on. Chop, place in pot with 1/2 cup of hot water. Bring to a gentle simmer with the lid on. Cook stirring occasionally for 15mins until soft, then blend with a stick blender.

*Date puree

Place 2 cups of dates and 1 cup of boiling water in a food processor with an S blade. Leave to soak for 5mins, then blend until smooth. 


New Zealand’s paid parental leave increases to 26 weeks -What’s still missing?


Paid parental leave in New Zealand is set to increase to 26 weeks by 2020. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced yesterday that the increase will be incremental, changing first to 22 weeks as of July 1st 2018. The increase in paid parental leave from NZ's current 18 weeks is great news for kiwi families, allowing more time for exclusive breastfeeding and bonding. 

Whilst an increase is very beneficial, it is our hope that government will look at also take a broader look at what other financial impacts expectant parents have. Currently a pregnant woman is able to take 10 days of 'special leave' from her work during her pregnancy, to attend antenatal appointments, education etc. This leave is unpaid, and I believe is not available for her partner. Her partner however can apply for 1 or 2 weeks leave around the time of the birth (called 'partner's leave'), but again, this is unpaid. 

It is The Birthing Room's hope that in the future, not only are parent's wages continued whilst they are on parental leave, but that expectant mothers and fathers are also given paid leave to attend antenatal education and midwife appointments together, as well as paid time off for fathers around the time their baby arrives. Surely this would have a significant benefit to families. 

I Need a Caesarean… Is my baby’s microbiome doomed?

Photo credit: Bloom Birth Photography

Photo credit: Bloom Birth Photography

Photo credit: Bloom Birth Photography

Photo credit: Bloom Birth Photography


One of the most hot topics in birth research right now is the human microbiome. Those thousands of tiny bacteria that make you... well, you! In fact, your human self has more bacteria than human cells. An infant's microbiome has the very important job of training his or her immune system what is friend, and what is foe. It is your baby's first line of defense against disease. Set it up right at birth, and it helps protect your baby for his or her whole life. Setting it up wrong can have very serious life-long implications. Research has shown that 'setting it up right' is comprised of three main events: Vaginal birth, skin to skin after birth, and breastfeeding for a long duration. So what on earth do you do if you know you need a caesarean? Is your infant doomed for life?

Never fear, there is hope! The following ideas can go a long way to improving your baby's microbiome.

  1. Ensure Mum's microbiome is healthy during her pregnancy and breastfeeding duration. A healthy diet, exercise, decreasing stress, getting out in nature, and avoiding antibiotics and antibacterial products can all boost numbers of the good guys.
  2. Hold off the caesarean section until labour has begun, and preferably waters have broken. Baby then will be able to have some 'seeding' from the vaginal bacteria as he or she would have had in a vaginal birth.
  3. Ask for a 'gentle caesarean' to be done. More can be found about this option on the internet.
  4. Mum has skin to skin in theatre with baby as soon as possible. If Mum cannot, then Dad.
  5. Ask for heaps of breastfeeding support. Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, and then (as well as feeding baby food) breastfeeding  for as long as possible (e.g. over 2yrs) will go a long way to setting up a health infant microbiome.
  6. Look into the newest research, and talk to your midwife about it. There are suggestions that artificially seeding baby's microbiome with a coated gauze swab at birth, and giving infants evidence-based probiotics can help. Probiotics contain lactobacilli (the same good bacteria that lives in the vagina), so giving them to baby may help boost their lactobacilli population. However I wouldn't recommend doing these options without the partnership of your health professional.

If you'd like to find out more about the importance of a healthy infant microbiome, check out Microbirth Online

Come and join us for an awesome night out!

home birth Canterbury

If you are interested in pregnancy, birth and newborns come and join us for an evening of inspiration and information! I'm really looking forward to being part of Kāhuarau, an event put on by Home Birth Canterbury as part of Home Birth Awareness Week 2017. I will be sharing about the role of a doula, what opportunities lie at the feet of future NZ doulas and how these could benefit future NZ parents. Whether you are a health professional, parent, or parent-to-be, planning to give birth at home or not, you'll definitely get heaps out of attending! Don't miss out on your ticket!

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