On an Autumnal day in New Zealand in March, 1996, I gave birth to my first child at home in a birth pool by candlelight. Mozart’s music played in the room, and she arrived in this world peacefully. She didn’t cry or fuss, but just looked into our eyes and took in her surroundings.

Half an hour later, it was time to cut the cord (if I knew then what I do now, we’d have had a *lotus birth and not cut the cord). She howled and screamed. It has been said that cutting the cord doesn’t hurt, but she clearly felt ‘something’ as our physical connection was severed.


Seconds after giving birth at home, by candlelight and Mozart, to my daughter Bethany.

Seconds after giving birth at home, by candlelight and Mozart, to my daughter Bethany.



For eighteen years, we have shared our lives. At seven this morning, we waved goodbye. That umbilical cord was well and truly cut. And it bloody well hurt me too. She’s on her own now. This part of my mothering journey with her is over.

I’m no longer there to protect her, make sure she eats her greens, warn her off certain boys, and prompt a bedtime to ensure adequate sleep. My job is done.

I look forward to hearing all the stories about university life. But today, I grieve. Today I trust the tears which fall so freely to cleanse old wounds.

I have found it interesting in these past few weeks how differently people respond to pain. Those who have attachment parented their children ~ they understand. They allow me my grief without trying to band aid over it.

And then there are people who are quick to remind me that she’ll be home in ten weeks. It’ll zip by, they say. Maybe. But I doubt it.

If you ever miscarry, someone is bound to say ‘never mind, you can try again’ or ‘it wasn’t meant to be’…rather than just honouring the loss. They mean well, of course, but it doesn’t help.

Yes, Christmas might be just around the corner (at my age it’s always just around the corner!)…but that’s more than 150 meals we won’t be sharing together. More than seventy mornings where I won’t get to see her smile or share a cup of tea.

As a bonded family, every day is a lifetime to savour. So, in some people’s world ten weeks is nothing. This morning, for me, it is a long time away.

I appreciate she’s not going off to war or ill in hospital. She’s a beautiful, healthy young woman with adventures ahead of her ~ but that doesn’t make the cutting of the umbilical cord any less painful.

The eighteen years between giving birth and saying goodbye, now THAT has zipped by.


Veronika Sophia Robinson giving birth in water

Veronika Sophia Robinson giving birth in water

Many years ago, in fact it was the first time I was living in England (about 1994), I heard a voice in my dream so real that I wondered if it was a dream. The voice said to me: You will write The Beautiful Birth book. At the time, I was working as a Media Officer for Compassion in World Farming having just finished a stint doing the same job for the Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.


I thought it an odd dream ~ my work was about animal welfare and animal rights. What did I know about children? And actually, at that time, I wasn’t even interested in having babies. (How quickly that would change ~ I gave birth two years later!)


But the voice was strong. Kind, but strong. I popped into a beautiful little New Age bookshop that morning. It was called The Open Window, and was in my village of Petersfield, Hampshire. Two books on waterbirth literally fell off the shelves (spooky, I know) and landed at my feet. I bought them, and devoured every page.


My mother, who had birthed eight children, had given birth unassisted at home to the last three. If I had any idea of beautiful birth, it would stem from her experiences of tuning in with her body and birthing in private.


So, my life changed. In 1995 I set up the National Waterbirth Trust (in NZ), wrote affirmations for a CD called Peaceful Pregnancy (which my husband did the voice over for), and in 1996 gave birth to my beautiful daughter Bethany, by candlelight and the sounds of Mozart, in our bedroom. Oh how my life was to change. Between then, and 2002, I had given birth again, and lived in three countries, and began publishing The Mother magazine (which I went on to edit for 12 years).



Seconds after giving birth at home, by candlelight and Mozart, to my daughter Bethany.

Seconds after giving birth at home, by candlelight and Mozart, to my daughter Bethany.

Writing The Birthkeepers was, I believe, the book I was told about in my dream. It describes the three biological needs of a birthing woman, and how important they are for an easy and ecstatic birth. Half of the book contains stories from women who had empowered births. As the subtitles states, it is reclaiming an ancient tradition. To birth, in tune with our bodies, is to do what our ancestresses did long before man interfered with the birthing process.


The Birthkeepers

The Birthkeepers

When I was pregnant with my daughter Bethany, I knew straight away that I wanted a waterbirth. I so strongly resonated with the sea that I swam with dolphins off the coast in the far north of New Zealand.

Seconds after giving birth at home, by candlelight and Mozart, to my daughter Bethany.

Seconds after giving birth at home, by candlelight and Mozart, to my daughter Bethany.

I met with a woman who’d had five waterbirths, and she shared a book with me by Elaine Morgan, called The Descent of Woman. I immediately resonated with her theory of evolution which cites recent geological and anthropological evidence that large areas of Africa were flooded and covered by vast seas, with the exception that some upland areas were islands. Her theory is that one group of apes adapted to an aquatic environment, and when the water receded new ecological opportunities opened up. We lost our hair because it was better to keep warm in water by a layer of fat inside the skin than a layer of hair on the outside. It certainly helps to make sense of the reflex babies have which allows them to be born underwater.

descent1 descent2

We were made to float, it would seem: it’s in our genes.

I’ve always loved water. Warm water. Whether that is because of my connection to my mother’s gorgeous womb, or the ancestral memory of my foremothers, I don’t know. Maybe it’s both. When I float in the water, am I remembering them “bobbing blissfully” and hearing the surf in their ears? Could that shallow salt sea of five million years ago still be so readily heard? I’m certainly open to the possibility.

When I bumped into a friend last week, I had no idea that she’d taken over a local complementary therapy centre. I was really interested to hear about the floatation tank. It sounded peaceful. Paul and I jumped at the chance to have a float.


What I didn’t realise was what a valuable tool it is for health and well-being on so many levels.


I’ve just finished reading The Floating Book: Exploring the Private Seas, by Michael Hutchinson. I can’t recommend it highly enough. I love it when I can match intuition with science.


I wish I’d known about these studies, and had the experience of floating behind me, when I wrote my book Natural Approaches to Healing Adrenal Fatigue. Floating is the perfect antidote (cure) for the rush of hormones which cause stress. An hour in the tank gave me more energy that afternoon than I’d had in ten years. The beautiful thing about floatation therapy is that the effect lasts much longer than your time in the pool. It can last days, and for some people, weeks.

Floating not only alters the set-point to help us lower adrenal activation, but also increases our tolerance for stress. It significantly decreases blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen consumption, blood lactate and muscular tension.

If you suffer adrenal fatigue, it’s worth knowing that floating decreases levels of fight or flight chemicals such as epinephrine, norepinephrine, ACTH, and cortisol. Floating counteracts the fight or flight response. That’s just from one float. And the beauty of it is that is has a maintenance effect, lasting many days after. Studies show that it alters the metabolism (or homeostatic set points). It enhances our relaxation response.

Not only is floating great for easing pain or injuries, and bringing relaxation to our bodies, it has been proven an ideal way to enhance visualisation, due to the effect on the brain waves. Studies show it is an invaluable tool to learning, too. When we float, we are in the ‘zone’, a place of pleasure that allows us to literally go with the flow. Many people have experienced enhanced creativity, inspiration, life-changing insights, and gratitude for life by floating.

I look forward to making floating a regular part of my life, and giving my whole being the nourishment it desperately needs.

If you’re in Cumbria, why not have a floatation session at or look up one local to where you live.