A healthy placenta is the single most important factor in producing a healthy baby. A pregnancy cannot proceed without a healthy placenta. The placenta is dedicated to the survival of the foetus. Even when exposed to a poor maternal environment, for example when the mother is malnourished, diseased, smokes or takes cocaine, the placenta can often compensate by becoming more efficient. Unfortunately, there are limits to the placenta’s ability to cope with external stresses. Eventually, if multiple or severe enough, these stresses can lead to placental damage, fetal damage and even intrauterine demise and pregnancy loss. When the placenta does not work as well as it should, the baby can get less oxygen and nutrients from the mother. As a result, the baby may:

• Not grow as well

• Show signs of foetal stress

• Have a harder time during labor.

The placenta has three functions. It is the gate between mother and baby, transferring food from the mother and waste from the baby; it makes hormones that signal to the mother what the baby needs; and it protects the baby from the mother’s immune system, which could attack the baby because it is “foreign” to the mother’s body because half of its genes come from the father. The development of the placenta begins when the embryo implants into the lining of the mother’s womb, on the eighth day after conception. The organ becomes fully functional in the tenth week of pregnancy. At birth its surface is oval in shape. It seems that the tissue along the length of the surface has different functions to tissue along the breadth.

Poor prenatal nutrition will affect the placenta. You are what you eat and so is the baby. Babies do not well on potato chips and sodas all day. There can be real consequences if moms do not take good nutritional care of their bodies and babies. Low levels of Vitamin D are now being connected to preeclampsia and gestational diabetes in pregnant women, as well as schizophrenia, autism, mental retardation and seizures in babies. Pregnant women should make sure to consume cod liver oil, fresh dark greens, vegetables, fruits, legumes, and wholesome grains all paired with exercise.

Belkacemi, L., Nelson, D. M., Desai, M., Ross, M. G. (2010). Maternal Undernutrition Influences Placental-Fetal Development. Biology of Reproduction. Vol. 83, No. 3 325-331.



Foetal Alcohol Syndrome

Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FASD or FAS) is a serious health problem that tragically affects its victims and their families, but that is completely preventable condition. FASD came to public attention in the early 1970s and is now recognised as a major health problem. FASD is a problem that reaches all corners of the Earth – where there is a love affair with alcohol, there is FASD. Unfortunately, it is also a problem that is misunderstood, and often perpetuated by ignorance and denial. Continue reading

Midwives in Other South African Provinces

South African Private Midwives are involved in every aspect of a pregnant woman’s health, from pregnancy screening to post-delivery care and the provision of family planning and pap-smears to detect cervical cancer. Independent Midwives work in both public and private hospitals. In the past, midwives helped women give birth at home, but there are no longer enough of them for this to be possible. Here is a list of some private midwives in South Africa. We hope that hospital nurses and private midwives would work together to improve the health of all South African midiwves. These midwives offer:

  • Antenatal and Postnatal Care
  • Home birth
  • Waterbirth
  • Hospital Birth
  • Birth in Birth Centre
  • Caesarian section attendance

Little Arrivals Private Midwife Services

Ntombi Mchunu

Address: Linkwood Hospital 24 12th Avenue Linksfield West,
Orange Grove, Gauteng 2192

Tel: (07) 2949 6058
Fax: (08) 6504 1808

Home Visiting Midwife

Address: Roodepoort, Gauteng 1724
Tel: 071 6367692

Hettie Grove: Carmi Clinic: Springs

RN, RCN, RM, BACurEdAdmin, advanced midwife, IBCLC, Internationally certified childbirth educator, Happiest kid on the block educator, Evergreen parent facilitator.Childbirth education, postnatal classes, well baby clinic, home phototherapy. PR 8806926.

TeL 011 815 2129
083 492 5861

Sue King 082 573 5191
Xoli Makabane 082 667 7947

Marilyn Sher 083 268 5422
Veronica Park 082 741 9281

Nicolette Barkhuizen 084 679 3026

Sharon Marsay 082 853 3445
Henny de Beer 082 788 2683
Karen v d Merwe 082 335 7731
Ntombi Mncunu 0729496058
Phindi Mashinini 084 910 7730
Ruwaida Moola 082 784 7949
Gail de Vos 082 855 5684
Verina Song 078 800 6939
Christy Loubser 0836110550
Sue Cohen 0825599911

Kathleen van Heerden 082 928 9841
Karen Powles 083 629 4622
Jenni Clarence 082 897 6652

Heather Pieterse 082 829 5309
Erna Loedolf 012 304 1818
Esti Viljoen 012 304 1818

Pretoria North
Marietha Yasbek 082 576 3558

North West Province​

Brits Nnana Molefe 078 014 7197

Rustenburg Antza Bingle 0721154446 / 014 596 5699

Northern Cape​

Hartswater: Jane Keyser 082 703 7030

Eastern Cape​

Port Elizabeth​

Nicole Angling 0733895243

East London to Port Alfred

Karen Clarke 082 776 3622

Uitenhage to Kirkwood​

Mynie Bester 082 758 5149

Cannon Rocks / Kenton-on-Sea / Grahamstown / Port Alfred

Ingrid Groenewald 082 789 3021

East London

Hannelie Roodt 082 828 5810

Kwa-Zulu Natal​


Cheryl Rowe 083 288 8203

Annie Skea 082 789 2963


Liza Harkess 082 564 9786


Arlen Edge 082 488 8417


Jabu Mlambo 082 786 8273


Hilary Davis 072 073 9413


Sue Lamb 072 526 0325


Lebowakgomo Mabore

Elizabeth Senama 072 132 5173

Bela Bela / Thabazimbi / Modimolle

Corney Nel 083 340 5812 / 014 734 1985

Free State Province​

Bloemfontein and surrounding areas

Yolande Maritz  084 604 2921



Birth & Midwifery Groups Western Cape

There are two main options open to a pregnant woman when having a baby in Cape Town: midwife or ginecologist. Whichever the woman choose, the midwife or ginecologist will remain the person in charge of her care throughout the pregnancy and will be present at the birth so there is very reassuring continuity of care. Here are some contacts for private midwives. Please feel free to add to the list and give your recommendations. Most of the private hospitals in Cape Town offer antenatal classes which  must be paid. Continue reading

Breastfeeding is hard

Breastfeeding is beautiful and natural. But breastfeeding is hard, and it hurts. Yes it is hard and it is not a picnic. It is not always “natural.” Initiating breastfeeding is often painful. Cracked and bleeding nipples are every bit as unpleasant as it sounds. Many women will tell you there babies latched poorly, they bled, had cracked nipples, got mastitis not once but three times. Some of them are in pain during breastfeeding, breasts are swollen, making them miserable. For many new moms the experience was not comfortable or natural or easy at all. Continue reading

Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative

The Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) was launched by WHO and UNICEF in 1991, following the Innocenti Declaration of 1990. The Innocenti Declaration is a document that outlines the optimal feeding of babies and children. Part of this declaration was a recommendation that all governments should develop national breastfeeding policies and implement systems to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding. The initiative is a global effort to implement practices that protect, promote and support breastfeeding.  Continue reading

World Breastfeeding Week

World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year from 1 to 7 August in more than 170 countries to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. It commemorates the Innocenti Declaration made by WHO and UNICEF policy-makers in August 1990 to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) was formed in 1991 to act on the Innocenti Declaration (1990) to protect, promote and support breastfeeding. As part of its action plan to facilitate and strengthen social mobilisation for breastfeeding, WABA envisioned a global unifying breastfeeding promotion strategy. A day dedicated to breastfeeding was suggested to be marked in the calender of international events. The idea of a day’s celebration was turned into a week. Continue reading

Umbillical Cord Knots

The umbilical cord is about 30 to 60 cm in length at term. So at 36, 37 weeks it really is quite long. The important thing about it is, not only is it long, but it’s really thick. So it’s up to 2, sometimes 2 ½ cm thick, and not only does it contain two arteries and one vein. But it also contains a lot of jelly-like substance called Wharton’s Jelly that protects the blood vessels. So it really is encased in quite a thick covering and then the blood vessels have jelly around them. So that stops them getting twisted or occluded in any way. Continue reading

Umbilical Cord

The Purpose of the Umbilical Cord

The umbilical cord is one of the most important things in an unborn baby’s environment. The umbilical cord begins to form between four and six weeks as the embryonic disc takes a cylindrical shape. The proximal portion of the umbilical cord is in the lower third of the embryo, and begins to form and develops a sac. The proximal portion houses the guts until the tenth week of gestation. At this time the umbilical cord is short, usually shorter than the than the head-to-tail length of the embryo. By ten weeks the intestines leave the proximal cord and return to the stomach, the elongation of the cord begins and the location of the umbilicus positions in the middle third of the embryo. Continue reading


Oligohydramnios is the condition of having too little amniotic fluid. About 8 per cent of all pregnant women are found to have low amniotic fluid at some point, usually in their third trimester. Among those still pregnant two weeks past their due date, 12 per cent have this condition. Amniotic fluid provides the fetus with fluid and nutrients, protects the fetus from trauma, has antibacterial properties and is necessary for the development of a healthy fetus. Studies have suggested that dramatic changes in amniotic fluid volumes can be a reflection of abnormalities in maternal or fetal status increasing the risk of perinatal morbidity and mortality.  Continue reading