Marianne Littlejohn is a professional nurse and midwife in Cape Town, South Africa. An ambassador for natural birth, Marianne completed her training at Tygerberg Hospital (Western Cape, South Africa) in 1979, though her real training began with women after the homebirth of her first baby in 1981 and she has since helped women to give natural birth for over thirty years. She has attended home births, water births and hospital births and facilitates calm birth, gentle birth, undisturbed birth and ecstatic birth, as well as assisting women who require a caesarian-section to stay connected with their baby skin-to-skin after the operation. She has also conducted research in the fields of Kangaroo Mother Care, Postnatal Depression and Attachment Parenting.
Marianne has an Honours Degree in Psychology and is a published co-author in the International Journal of Infant Mental Health. She has written articles for the South African Journal of Natural Medicine and is often asked to write articles for various parenting and health publications. Marianne also has three adult sons, all born at home, who fuelled her interest in birth and child development and she facilitates peaceful parenting practices. She says “Giving birth and raising children is the most life-changing event a woman ever experiences. It was both a peak experience and deeply spiritual at the same time. ”
A practised horsewoman, Marianne learned to ride horses as a child on farms in Natal, and takes time out to be with her horse as often as she can. She says “I have reflected on how being with horses has influenced my work with women and families. One needs alot of patience with horses, especially when they have been traumatised by bad treatment. So many women have experienced abuse, both physical and mental/emotional, and I draw on the same kind of patience that I have used with frightened horses. They need calm words and kind treatment, good eye contact and a gentle touch so that they learn to trust they are not going to be hurt again. Then they will give co-operation and effort. In a way this is very similar to the requirements during the process of giving birth.”
“Horses are masters at reading the text of human emotion when they encounter humans. They have the capacity to reflect a person’s trauma and can assist with healing in therapeutic ways, such as with disabled children, autistic children and abused women”. Marianne has plans in the future to enhance a couples understanding of the birth process through interaction with a herd of horses in Kwazulunatal, South Africa.
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