What is that gross stuff on your baby?

Vernix Caseosa (vernix) is the white, cheesy substance found on the skin of a newborn baby, which starts developing from the sebaceous glands around the 11 week mark in the uterus and seems to be unique to humans.  

It is made up 81% water, 9% lipids (fats) and 10% protein.

Photo by Phil Konstantin

Photo by Phil Konstantin

It is known to act as a barrier against the amniotic fluid and promote epidermal growth in utero.  What this means is that it prevents your baby’s skin from becoming all wrinkled and looking like a prune, just like you do after a long bath.

Sometimes parents are grossed out by the appearance of vernix on their newborns body, but if you understand why it is there, then perhaps you would be more inclined to leave it there to do what it is meant to do rather than your midwife rigorously rubbing it off.  One of the couples that I worked with recently said they thought it was a great way to “gross out” their friends and family to prevent them from picking up and cuddling their newborn baby in the first 24 hours of his new life.


Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Some babies are born absolutely covered in vernix, particularly premature babies, covering every space and crevice of the body, while others particularly those after their estimated due date may have very little vernix.  It is thought that vernix helps with lubrication for baby to get through the birth canal more easily and reduce friction, and helps to conserve heat and protect the newborn skin, which is very sensitive. 

Research has shown that when left intact, vernix contributes considerably to functions such as maintaining a barrier to water loss, infection control, immuno surveillance, acid mantle formation (pH levels), antioxidant functions, thermoregulation and protection from ultraviolet light and other chemicals. 

That is why it is recommended that you only bath your baby in plain water once the vernix has dissolved to avoid irritating their sensitive skin.


Photo by Wikimedia Commons

One study showed that vernix has antioxidant properties Vitamin E and Melanin, and contains an antibacterial effect by forming a barrier preventing bacteria from entering through the skin.  Vernix also contains antimicrobial proteins that are active against Group B Streptococcus and E.Coli.  The authors of this study also noted that the immune proteins found in vernix and amniotic fluid is similar to those found in breast milk.

It is believed that the vernix serves to moisturise and protect the skin and some cosmetic companies have researched its properties trying to emulate it in their skincare ranges.

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Even the World Health Organisation (WHO) has also recommended that vernix not be wiped off newborn babies at birth for at least 6 hours.

So it is okay to leave that vernix on your baby for as long as it is there and just let it naturally be absorbed or dissolve away.  When my daughter Holly was born she had a lot of vernix and we didn’t bath her for the first 4 days of her life.  My eldest daughter who was 15 at the time thought that was the grossest thing she had ever seen but we are glad that we left it.

Photo by Vicki Hobbs

Photo by Vicki Hobbs

My name is Vicki Hobbs and I am a pregnancy and postnatal massage specialist at Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Wellness. I am also a certified doula and offer hypnobirthing and childbirth education classes. For more details about my services, please visit my website www.phoenixtherapies.com.au  











What got me through an affair, marriage breakdown, divorce, death and more? These techniques are so simple you won’t believe it….

Sometimes our lives can be so full on that everything seems stressful, when just a few simple techniques can provide a very effective way of releasing stress and learning the art of relaxation.

Everything from work, family life, children, partners, day to day hassles, finances, life events and noise can produce stressors that cause many changes inside our minds and bodies and everyone handles stress and anxiety in different ways.


What some feel as mild stress in others can seem extreme – we are all different, we are all individuals with our own set of thought patterns, beliefs and responses.

What gives us the motivation to change our current situation?

My professional career started out relatively calm, and then I moved into executive roles where I had a lot of responsibility, deadlines, long hours and the crème de la crème….working with difficult and demanding people. Then I went on to work for “not for profit” where I was working with an organisation that was striving hard to raise money so seriously ill and dying children and their families could have a wish to brighten their lives a little.

Then throw in a couple of deaths, traumatic pregnancy, several miscarriages motherhood, my husband having an affair resulting in marriage breakdown and divorce and the heavy burden of loss, grief and soon my stress was undeniable.  

Why was I dealt this shitty hand?

What had I done to deserve so much pain, anguish and stress?

My life seemed to be spiralling out of control like one of those twirly wind chimes, spinning faster and faster as it gained momentum.

spiral windchime

I forgot about the art of relaxation. 

Is there such a beautiful piece of artwork?

A tapestry of woven magic that consoles and heals.

A paintbrush that can gloss over our stress with long soothing strokes.

Or gentle hands that mould the hard clay into a soft, smooth workable sculpture.

My love of the mind and body connection then set me on a pathway of healing to find my art of relaxation. 

I always had an interest in essential oils as my nanna taught me from a very young age a lot about different plants and their healing properties.

I then trained in massage, aromatherapy, hypnosis, meditation, stress management, life coaching and I suddenly realised that I had had to experience all those difficult times and different levels of stress to know what to do with it and how to help other people.  I was also give the opportunity to train as a “Heal Your Life” workshop facilitator based on the philosophies of Louise Hay and that was one of the most positive life changing events I was blessed to participate in.

Over the last 20 years my life has taken many twists and turns – too many to share in this article.  Recently though I had the doors of my beautiful wellness clinic closed as I couldn’t pay the rent – the last 12 months have been incredibly stressful having to deal with shopping centre politics, the exorbitant increase in rents and outgoings, staff and contractors and the everyday stresses of running a business and the “noise” – however if I didn’t use some of the techniques that I have learned along the way that I teach to others, I probably would be far worse off mentally, physically and emotionally than I am right now.

However, like always I do see a light at the end of the tunnel (or rather a neon flashing beacon) and as one door closes another one then opens and with it is the dawning and realisation that I actually got what I wanted.  The mist of the clouds were swept away from my head and now I am making new choices and stressing less.

It makes me think back to a unique piece of artwork that I picked up while travelling through Europe by Salvador Dali called “Dali’s Hand Drawing Back The Golden Fleece In The Form of a Cloud To Show Gala the Naked Dawn Far Away Behind The Sun.” (1977)

Salvador Dali

Now I have released and let go all anger, guilt and stress surrounding the closure of my beautiful clinic, and I realise I wanted those doors to close so that I could go back to basics and do the things that I loved doing before I opened those doors.  I want to spend more time and energy with the women who come to me and I want to feel that connection once again.

I wanted to find my “paintbrush” once again.

I wanted to just BE with the person I am working with in a healing capacity.

AND, I really do miss just BEING with the person I am working with – sharing their energy, their light source, their connection – and I realise that somehow my little clinic had drained that away from me.

The Universe blocked all attempts I made to keep those doors open.

My motivation for keeping the doors open was more about not wanting to hurt others, but in the meantime it was hurting me.

Live Your Dreams created by Sofan Chan

Live Your Dreams created by Sofan Chan

I am now practising what I preach…I am walking the walk that I talk.

I am being authentic.

My energy and motivation has increased.

I feel lighter yet stronger.

My mind is active again in a positive way.

I am meditating more and blaming less.

I am releasing and letting go.

I am honouring forgiveness.

I am visualising more and using positive affirmations again.

I am managing my time in a more efficient way.

I am saying no to things that do not serve me well.

Sacred Moment, Sofan Chan

Sacred Moment
Sofan Chan

I am connecting with those that I am working with in my little treatment room at home, where I feel safe, comfortable and free.

And the chatter in my mind is quiet.

That quiet is the releasing of my stress.

The “noise” is gone.

I acknowledge the stress and I am setting it free.

I have found my paintbrush, my tapestry, my clay.

Carpe Diem is my endless canvas.

My relaxation and stress releasing techniques have helped me once again to “seize the day.”

Life loves me as I am worth loving!

Whatever is going on in your mind, is affecting your body.

Do you want to find your paintbrush, your tapestry or your slab of clay?

Join me at my Carpe Diem Nurturing Workshop.

Together, we will find your Art of Relaxation and enjoy a day of soul-nourishing enrichment that will stay with you for a lifetime.


For more information click on the link:-


If you would like more specific information or you have questions about this workshop or anything else you can email me directly Vicki@phoenixtherapies.com.au

Carpe Diem….


Vicki Hobbs
Phoenix Therapies Transformational Workshops
Phone: (08) 9303 9111

Pneumococcal Meningitis – Holly’s Story

With World Meningitis Day on 24th April, I have written about my daughter Holly’s experience of contracting Pneumococcal Meningitis two years ago when she was just twenty six months old. This was one of the most traumatic times of our lives, it was incredibly sudden and Holly didn’t haven’t the “usual” symptoms such as a rash. The Meningitis Centre was a big support to our family and two years on are still a big part of our lives with us doing all we can to raise awareness of this deadly disease. I hope by reading our story, which I have written from my diary notes, that you will see how sudden this disease can strike, and how “every second counts”.

Our quick action and the actions of the doctors on duty that day, saved our daughters life.

This is Holly’s story.
Wednesday, 6th June 2012 started as any other day. Rushing around getting ready for work, getting our 26 month old Holly up, fed and dressed to go to daycare. Graeme had already left for work much earlier and our eldest daughter Hannah had gone off to catch the bus to high school. Little did we know that today was a day that will live in our hearts and minds for the rest of our lives and bring about a tremendous realisation of how blessed and lucky we are to have our little girl with us today.

I dropped Holly off at daycare, which was right next door to me at work. She gave me a big kiss and a hug then ran off to play as she would do normally. After going out the door, I would always peek through the window of the door to watch her play with her friends for a couple of minutes, just to make sure that she wasn’t going to cry when I left, but she never cried, she loved being at daycare. However, that morning I was running late and so I didn’t linger to watch her through the window, I didn’t take that time that I always made the effort in doing, and that was the first of my wake up calls that “family should come first”.

Graeme usually picked Holly up in the afternoons and when he got there at 3:30pm she did as she normally did, ran up to him, he picked her up and gave her a big kiss and cuddle and they went home. In the car on the way home (which was only 5 minutes up the road) she would normally bop away to the radio playing and insist on Graeme turning the music up loud. On this day, she sat there quietly and didn’t seem too interested in chatting or listening to the music. When they got home he asked her if she wanted something to eat and she said no, which was extremely unusual as Holly has always been the best eating baby / toddler I have ever known and always had a huge feed upon getting home.

Graeme then noticed that she went and lay down on the couch so he put telly on for her to watch while she laid there. After about 15 minutes she then started to cry and when he went to comfort her she started vomiting. He did all the right things, kept giving her fluids and just let her rest on the couch. He rang and left me a message at 5:15pm and said that Holly was vomiting and asked what else he should do. I rang him back at 5:30pm and we chatted and I said that I had seen that two of the rooms at daycare had notices on the doors saying they had had cases of gastro in those rooms (but not Holly’s room), so I said that she had probably picked up gastro, so just keep giving her fluids as there wasn’t a lot we could do for that but keep her hydrated.

When I got home and saw Holly she was flopped over the pillow on the couch and her little body was just like a rag doll. I immediately got the thermometer to check her temperature and it came back as 37.8, nothing to really get worried about. I kept checking her temperature, and also checked her body for any rash – thinking more along the lines of chicken pox as Hannah had had chicken pox as a toddler. No rash, nothing to feel alarmed about and so I just kept giving her drinks through a straw but she kept vomiting after each drink. I gave her some Panadol and she slept.

That night I slept out on the couch with her as she cried when I tried to move her. All through the night she continued to vomit and I just kept the bowl handy so that she didn’t have to get up.

Around 6am Holly sat up and just started crying and holding her hand against her forehead, so I knew she was in pain. I got up and moved in front of her and was calling her name and asking her to show me where it hurt. At that point she was staring at me but was not focusing on me. I then said “Holly look at mummy, where’s mummy” and she just wasn’t seeing me. Then her eyes just rolled back and she just started screaming and it was in that instance I felt an urgency I had never felt before. I knew that this was not good, it was not normal and all my instincts were telling me to get her to a hospital quick.

I yelled out to Graeme and when he came out I told him what happened and I said that we needed to get Holly to hospital. I checked her temperature again and it was elevated to 39.2 so I gave her some more panadol, which I thought would also help with the pain in her head. By then Holly was quieter but was just limp and listless and non-responsive.

Graeme said that she was probably really dehydrated and so would be a bit delirious and we should just keep an eye on her and see how she went over the next couple of hours and take her to the doctor when they opened later on around 9am.

I just knew that we had to go, there was just this strong feeling in my gut that things were not right and I felt a little panicked so said to him “no we need to get her to PMH now!!”

He was a little quiet then said “okay but we will go to Joondalup Emergency as traffic will be building up and trying to get into PMH and find parking will be a nightmare.” He was unconvinced that we needed to go to hospital, but he knew by my tone that either he took me or I would take her on my own.

When we arrived at Joondalup Hospital emergency we hadn’t even got to the reception desk and Holly started vomiting again. They took us straight through to a private room and the doctor came and checked her immediately. I told him what had happened from when she got picked up from daycare and also mentioned about the gastro at the daycare so he then started treating her for gastro. He said that if she had been vomiting all night and was dehydrated then she probably had a headache, which made sense.

Holly on arrival at Joondalup Hospital Emergency Department

Holly on arrival at Joondalup Hospital Emergency Department

We had to syringe 5mls of hydrolyte into her mouth every 10 minutes and record the times and amounts. She was doing so well, and after an hour started to become a little more alert and started talking and pointing out the posters in the room “Happy Feet” on one side of the bed and “Little Mermaid” on the other side. We got through the first 250ml of hydrolyte and everything seemed to be going well.

The nurses said that they also needed to get a urine sample to see if there was a urinary tract infection so they put one of those silver “pie tins” (the ones they make custard tarts in at the bakery) into her nappy to try and catch the wee. “Good luck with that” I was thinking. Imagine having an alfoil tin stuck in your nappy – how uncomfortable.

So we then started on the second cup of hydrolyte and waiting on a wee, which just didn’t want to come. She seemed to be improving all the time so we were feeling relieved so asked the nurse if we could take her home and get her to do a wee and bring the wee back for testing. The nurse said that the doctor didn’t want her to leave until she had done a wee and said that she should have done a wee by now so that was concerning him. I then told Graeme to go home as it wasn’t any point us both being there waiting, and that I would call him when the doctor said we could go home.

In the next hour things changed very quickly. Holly still had not done a wee and she got half way through the next cup of hydrolyte and then started vomiting again. She got very pale suddenly, and while I was watching her I realized her chest was moving in and out very rapidly. I lifted her shirt and could see her chest just heaving up and down. I called the nurse and she came in to check her and she put the heart monitor on. Suddenly all the alarms started going off on the machine and I asked the nurse what was wrong with her chest that it looked like it was about to explode. She said she would call the doctor to come and check her again.

The doctor came back and said that he would organize some blood tests and called the paediatrician who was on the ward to come and check Holly out. The paediatrician came down within a few minutes and after talking with the initial doctor said that she was sending us off to have X-rays on Holly’s chest to rule out a chest infection. I had rung Graeme and he came straight back to the hospital as we were being taken to the X-rays.

By then it was around 12pm and as we were walking along the long corridor from emergency to the main hospital I was walking on one side of the bed talking with the paediatrician and Graeme was walking on the other side of the bed. The paediatrician then asked me “how long has it been since Holly has moved her head?” I looked over at Holly lying in the bed as it was being wheeled along and noticed that her head was turned towards Graeme but every time I talked her eyes would move to look over at me – she wasn’t moving her head at all.

I said that I had not even noticed so couldn’t tell her. I said that when we were in the emergency room she had been looking at the posters on the wall from one side to the other, so that had only been an hour or so ago. She then told the nurse to take us to X-rays and that she was going to talk to her colleagues and would see us when we got back.

Once at the X-rays the nurse said that we had to take the silver tray out of Holly’s nappy which was still dry. We took the tray out and put her nappy back on and as soon as I lifted her onto my lap I felt her nappy was warm with wee, and a lot of it. She had been holding on all that time, poor little chicken. She also started to cry and appeared to be in pain, but I couldn’t work out where and I just rubbed her back, but when I touched her she cried more. We had the X-rays done and the doctor said that he could not see any sign of infection.

The nurse wheeled us back to the emergency department and when we walked in we were shocked to see 5 other doctors waiting there with the paediatrician. One of the doctors came forward and introduced herself as the Registrar and her name was Bernadetta. She said that they were there to observe Holly and they had a theory of what may be wrong with her. She asked if she could put her hands underneath Holly’s head to move her head around. We agreed and she moved around to the top of the bed, slid her hands gently under Holly’s head and then tried to turn her head and Holly let out a gut-wrenching scream. This scream was like nothing I had ever heard in my life – it was the most heart stopping scream I had ever heard.

I just couldn’t bare it and I remember just yelling at them to stop because they were hurting her.

In that moment there was a flurry of activity and I don’t know how I got through that moment, but I was totally aware of everything being said and I knew that in that moment, Holly was in a bad way.

The paediatrician then said to us “we need to do a lumbar puncture.”

I was just devastated but was able to say “yes okay, just do it.”

By then, Graeme was extremely distressed and I told him that he needed to go outside, that I would stay with Holly and that this was what they needed to do to find out what was wrong with her. I surprised myself with how definite I was about that and how strong and calm I was. I felt that this was an important step, something that had to be done. I am a big believer in Angels and Spirits and I felt that all that time I was being guided to do what we had to do for Holly. I had absolutely no hesitation in agreeing for them to do the lumbar puncture.

While they were preparing for the lumbar puncture, they then took blood tests and also decided to get Holly’s urine through a catheter. They tried several times to insert the tubing into the urinary tract but it seemed each tube was too thick and because it was taking too long they decided to leave that for the time being and just do the lumbar puncture.

It was around 2pm when they were ready for her. There were two nurses to hold Holly into position. They said that I should wait outside with Graeme, but I refused so they said that I could help to keep her calm by holding her hands and talking to her. In the end, she was so limp and weak that they didn’t need both the nurses to hold her. They rolled her into a foetal position, so one nurse held her in position and I held her hands as she was facing me while I sang nursery rhymes to her.

I remember just before the paediatrician inserted the needle I asked her “you have done this before, right?”
She looked me right in the eye and she said “I’m the best.”
“Okay” I said “go ahead”.

Holly hardly moved through the whole procedure and just let out a little whimper and a cry as the needle was inserted into her back, and I felt the hot tears falling down my cheeks as her panicked eyes looked at me like a scared, trapped little animal. When it was over one of the nurses said they had never experienced a child so lifeless while having a lumbar puncture before – normally they have to be held into position really tightly.

By this time it was roughly around 2:30pm and I hadn’t had anything to eat apart form a muffin that Graeme had bought me at the café earlier that morning for breakfast. I was starting to feel sick myself and told one of the nurses I felt like I was going to faint. She then asked if I had eaten anything and when I told her I hadn’t she took it on herself to get me a plate of sandwiches and some juice. We suddenly became the focal point of everyone on duty – everyone was there to offer support and help any way they could and I felt very thankful and relieved.

The testing side of things was over probably quicker than what I thought at the time, and by 3pm we were taken through to an isolated room on the paediatric ward to wait. Holly was hooked up to a drip and by then she was just so weak that she just slept and was totally oblivious to what was going on. They weren’t able to tell us too much and said that they had sent the fluid from the lumbar puncture straight to the Chief Microbiologist at PMH who would contact them when he knew something.

Day 3 at Joondalup Hospital

Day 3 at Joondalup Hospital

At around 5pm two of the doctors came back and told us that Holly had Pneumococcal Meningitis and that she was a very sick little girl. They said that the fluid in her spine had been very cloudy where normally it would be clear so they knew that the bacteria had spread all the way day the spinal cord and this was not a good sign.

They explained that the microbiologist was growing the bacteria and then would treat each culture with antibiotics to find out which one would kill it. In the meantime they were going to give her 4 lots of antibiotics along with anti-inflammatories and pain killers through an IV to get her through until they knew.

They told us that this was a critical time and that we needed to prepare ourselves for the worst as she was a very sick little girl. She was too sick to move to Princess Margaret Hospital so they were liaising with the microbiologist and specialists but they assured us that we had the best team possible working with Holly.

She had swelling and inflammation on the brain so they said they would continue to give her 4 high doses of steroids per day to help. The paediatrician told us that normal inflammation levels are around 10 but Holly’s was at 157 on that first night and then jumped up to 340 the following day.

It was just heartbreaking seeing her in so much pain when she moved and they were giving her as much pain killers as they could. She couldn’t lie on her back or be lifted as that pulled on the nerves along the spinal cord and meninges which made her scream and she couldn’t wear any clothing or have the blanket on as that also caused her pain. It was obvious that she had the pain in her spine when we first went to Xrays and that was why when I was stroking her she was in pain as her sensitivity had increased.

We were very well looked after by all the nursing staff and specialists and her two paediatricians spent a lot of time with Holly. One of them told us to imagine ourselves with our worst ever hangover and then multiply that by 10 and that is the kind of headache that Holly would be experiencing.

For 5 days we just watched her lifeless, unresponsive body lying in bed, hooked up to all sorts of machines and drips praying for our precious little girl to get better after a gut-wrenching morning of Holly screaming in pain (which saw me really break down in a blubbering mess for the first time after having to hold it all together for so long).

It wasn’t until day 6 that things really improved in the afternoon quite suddenly and then continued to do so.

She became a little bit more responsive and the doctor then came to tell us that her inflammation counter had come down to 19 (the normal level is 10) so they now knew that she had turned the corner. The doctor said it was still a long road ahead with treatment but she had taken a good step forward on the road to recovery.

On Day 8 I was just bursting with happiness as Holly was wide awake, was eating, giggling and we could see the sparks shining in her beautiful blue eyes. She was so good that her doctor said that we could take her in the wheelchair for a walk. We got her in the chair hooked up with all her tubes and machinery but then the nurse said “you won’t be able to go outside as its wet and rainy out there” and with that the clouds parted, the sun shone brightly through the curtains, the rain stopped and there was a massive rainbow outside the window – it was incredible! The Universe was letting us know that it was time for Holly to get some fresh air.

Holly's first outing while in hospital.

Holly’s first outing while in hospital.

By day 9 Holly had improved remarkably. She was sitting up, eating, talking, laughing and being a cheeky monkey and even giving us some attitude but we loved every minute of it. The doctor said that we would still be in hospital for at least another 7 days as she still needed the penicillin through the IV to ensure that they killed off every bit of the bacteria. Her painkillers were reduced and she seemed so much more comfortable. She couldn’t stand or walk unassisted, but she had started pulling herself up by herself on the bed to a sitting position so that was a really good sign.

We could see our beautiful Holly becoming healthy again.

We could see our beautiful Holly becoming healthy again.

The doctors were really pleased with her progress but said that the microbiologist had said that because of the severity of her condition there were no short cuts – that we were stuck there until they were sure that the bacteria had been fully treated.

By Day 11 the doctors said that the next few days would be more about getting her mobile as she was still not able to walk unassisted (although we had seen an improvement), but the doctor was confident that she just needed to get her strength back in her legs so we were doing push ups with her legs – (her pushing her feet against our hands) to try and strengthen the muscles.

It wasn’t until day 12 that we learned the full extent of Holly’s illness. Graeme had a lengthy talk with the paediatrician as we wanted to know and understand some of the treatment and procedures still being done and she then told him that Holly had also developed Septicaemia (blood poisoning from the infection) and her inflammation count had risen over 420, but they had decided not to tell us that at the time. No wonder she was so sick, no wonder we were being prepared for the worst and no wonder she had been in so much pain that no one especially someone so little should have to endure. Bless her to have come through this and still be smiling. She is definitely a fighter and our little miracle!

Holly with Dr. Dapika Wagh (Paediatrician) who met with Holly in the Emergency Department and was instrumental in saving her life!

Holly with Dr. Dapika Wagh (Paediatrician) who met with Holly in the Emergency Department and was instrumental in saving her life!

On day 15 the specialist paediatrician came and gave us the good news that Holly’s blood tests and cultures had come back all clear and told us that Holly was being released the next day and I started to cry – big, happy sobs of joy.

He gave me a hug and then asked what had prompted us to bring her to hospital so quickly. I told him that I felt it in my gut that something was really wrong, I felt an urgency to get her to hospital and felt confident in agreeing to do the lumbar puncture. He said that if it hadn’t been for us getting her to the hospital when we did that it would have been a completely different scenario as the rate the bacteria had developed and grown in a short period of time indicated that if we had left it another few hours she would either have ended up seriously brain damaged or would have died. He congratulated us on realising the seriousness of her condition and getting her to hospital so quickly particularly when she didn’t have the usual symptoms of a rash associated with meningitis.

The next day Holly had her final treatment of penicillin at 6am and we were released at 1pm to go home.

At last on our way home.

At last on our way home.

What a perfect end to our terrible ordeal as we drove home we were guided and protected by yet another rainbow and as we pulled into the driveway of our home, there shone another rainbow right over the top of our house.

Rainbow as we pulled into the driveway.

Rainbow as we pulled into the driveway.

We recently had Holly’s final check-ups at Princess Margaret Hospital and she has been cleared of any side effects such as hearing loss or brain damage, which we are very thankful for. Holly just celebrated her 4th birthday as Princess Rapunzel, and we look at her every day and feel so blessed. Graeme says that he will never doubt “mums intuition” again. He still says today that he is thankful that I was so strong in my conviction to take her to hospital when we did.

Holly's 4th birthday party as Princess Rapunzel

Holly’s 4th birthday party as Princess Rapunzel

My advice to all mums is “go with your gut instincts.” It is better to have a “false alarm” than to suffer the consequences if you were to leave your child “another few hours.” At the time I knew something was seriously wrong and everytime I tried to brush it off, it just got stronger. Now….go and hug your children and feel blessed that they are safe and well.

Please check out The Meningitis Centre website www.meningitis.com.au for more information about all strains of meningitis, the signs and symptoms and to order a fridge magnet with helpful information and instructions.

Vicki Hobbs

Are You Stressed?

Studies show that stressful situations can develop into more serious health conditions.  For example: a sudden or unexpected stressor can activate your adrenal glands, which sends adrenaline and other hormones into your bloodstream.  This brings about an increase in your breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and blood flow to the muscles.  

This physical response was appropriate generations ago when it was needed for our very survival, but today much of our stress is emotional.  With the high number of mental stress incidents that we can experience each day, these repetitive physical responses can begin to wear out all of the body’s intricate systems. 

When your stress is chronic, your body releases cortisol; a hormone designed to help the body handle a period of prolonged physical stress.  This hormone is hard for the body to metabolise and consequently can lead to an immune system that becomes heavily suppressed, a damaged cardiovascular system, and a worn out endocrine system (the system responsible for handling stressful conditions).  


Here are some common stress symptoms: 

  • Frequent headaches, jaw clenching or teeth grinding;
  • Neck ache, back pain, or muscle spasms;
  • Frequent colds and infections;
  • Difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness and confusion;
  • Excess anxiety, worry, guilt or nervousness;
  • Depression or frequent mood swings;
  • Insomnia or nightmares
  • Lack of concentration and forgetfulness.
  • Significant weight loss or gain without diet change;
  • Nervous habits such as fidgeting;
  • Constant tiredness, weakness or fatigue 

Regular massage is the ideal remedy for a stressful life.  With massage your blood and lymph circulation is increased, which helps all parts of your body to receive essential nutrients, dispose of waste products, and defend against disease. 


Stress may take its greatest toll on the nervous system.  Massage can address the imbalances that stress causes in your body by stimulating the sensory receptors that interconnect and harmonise all areas of your body, bringing it back into proper balance.  This brings about that sense of wellbeing you experience that goes far beyond the release of tense muscles.  

Studies have shown that stress hormones consistently fall after massage, and night-time sleep patterns also improved.  By having a regular massage (even once a month will make a difference) – you are giving your body, mind & spirit the chance to de-stress before it will give you distress.


 Surveys have been conducted by a number of Australian organisations, with the following findings: 

  • Workplace stress costs Australian companies up to 1.2 billion dollars a year;
  • 50% of workers reported an increase in workplace stress from the previous year;
  • Workplace stress-related claims are increasing by 20% each year;
  • 26% of employees admitted they have taken a day or more off due to stress, most using regular sick leave;
  • 20% of teachers in one survey reported a medically diagnosed stress disorder;
  • Major reasons for work stress cited by employees are:
    • Management issues, including lack of communication;
    • Increased workload and longer hours;
    • Job insecurity and lack of career opportunities;
    • Organisational change and restructuring, and
    • Inadequate staff and resources. 

work stress


When the musculoskeletal system is “stressed” a biochemical stress response sequence is initiated.  The sequence includes the following events:

  • A stressor causes an increase in muscle tone.
  • Increased tone for extended periods leads to retention of metabolic wastes.
  • Increased tone simultaneously leads to a degree of localised oxygen deficit, resulting in ischemia (restriction in blood supply).
  • Increased tone may also lead to oedema (swelling / fluid retention).
  • These factors (retention of waste, ischemia and oedema) lead to discomfort and pain.
  • Discomfort and pain results in increased or maintained hyper-tonicity (increased tension of the muscles).
  • Inflammation or chronic irritation results.
  • Poor functional patterns develop leading to chronic musculoskeletal problems and pain.


Tools that you can adopt to promote health and wellness, and manage stress levels include:

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One of my favourite tips I love and share with our clients who are tense and stressed is every night before you go to bed “pull your hair”… I am serious, just grab clumps of your hair close to the roots and gently pull – don’t yank so that it is painful – and then grab another clump of hair and gently pull. What this does is releases the tension in the hair follicle and therefore releases the tension in the scalp. You will notice the difference instantly and it will help you to sleep better as well.  

Go on try it right now!!

It is such a simple yet effective way of releasing head tension and ease headaches as well.


As a massage therapist we have lots of different techniques and helpful tips to support you in your “stress less” journey to better health and harmony in your life.


At our centre located in Darch (northern suburbs of Perth) we have 5 highly trained remedial massage therapists who all offer different styles and techniques of massage.  We also have a chiropractor who works from our premises so you can be assured of a variety of different options to help ease your pain and reduce / eliminate your stress related dysfunctions.

After hours appointments including Saturdays are available.

Contact Phoenix Therapies Wellness Centre today to book in for a massage or any one of our stress management therapies with Vicki Hobbs.