Category: Ask A Midwife

A Midwives Top 5 Birth Tips

Ask A MidwifeTop 5 Tips

1. Pelvis and Positions

When your baby is in an OPTIMUM position – baby’s head is down in your pelvis and baby’s back is running alongside your abdomen. If you are standing up baby is looking/facing your back. When a baby is in this position the smallest part of baby’s head enters the pelvis first and your baby can navigate through the pelvis a lot more efficiently- making your labour and birth quicker and less of a chance of needing intervention.

To assist your baby into this position- there are a few things you can do… Think of the back of your baby’s head is its’ heaviest part and you want that to be swinging to the front of your abdomen, this should help you understand the correct positioning.

• When you sit down/ relax in the evening try and ensure that your pelvis (top part) is tilting forward – it’s sort of like your bum will be sticking out.

• Your knees should also be lower than your pelvis too.

• Birthing balls (blown up correctly) and straddling a chair (so backwards and leaning over the back) are great ways of sitting.

• If you do want to lie down or slouch back in a comfy sofa I would always do so on your side.

• If you do a lot of driving then you can pop a small cushion at the base of your spine to again, help you lean more forward.

These are all tips that you can adopt at any time of your pregnancy. However, it is most important from 36 WEEKS as baby will be entering (getting engaged) into your pelvis at this point. You can continue to adopt these positions in labour to keep baby in this optimum position by leaning FORWARD (on your partner, a wall, leaning on a bed- whatever is in sight) with contractions so the strength of your uterus contracting will also be working to get baby into this optimum position.

Another thing that you can do to make sure that your ball is going to come out that maze quickly is by keeping your pelvis UPRIGHT. Imagine dropping a ball through a pelvis, it’s going to come out the bottom. If you lie that pelvis down then put the ball in there- you no longer have gravity on your side. So another top tip for birth is to stay standing or walking as then gravity will be pulling from the bottom whilst your uterus is pushing from the top. Use the forces of nature to lend you a hand!

2. Protect your space

Lights, camera, no action. If anyone here is anything like me and is slighty, Instagram obsessed then I am sure you are partial to a photograph. Any avid photographers amongst us? But, have you ever noticed the most creative photo opportunity of a loved one, with perfect composition and great lighting. Only to get the camera out and they have moved from a chilled out, natural form to an uncomfortable, stiff pose? I always think of Chandler and Monica here too, Friends fan anyone? The minute the photographer goes to take a photo of the newly, engaged couple, Chandler puts on the most awkward of smiles. Anyway you get the idea.. The camera makes people act weird! Similar situations can occur during labour. It is called the ‘Fear Of Being Observed’ and it makes total sense. If you think about being in a new situation, such as birth then put your friend in the corner, or your mother in law or the postman etc. this is going to change the way you react to your tightenings. Birth is instinctual and primitive. Tightenings can make you want to squat to the floor or lean over on all fours, they are going to make you want to breathe rhythmically and sometimes noisily like you do if you are exercising. Sometimes having extra people in the birth room, such as a friend, mother in law or sometimes even your own mother (depending how close you are I suppose) can alter how you behave and this can effect the hormones in your body.

So this tip would be PROTECT your space. If you are feeling overwhelmed with birth and your surroundings, take yourself into your bathroom as it is often the only place where you can guarantee that you will be on your own for. Just until you have got back in your zone again.

3. DIM LIGHTS.

Having bright lights on decreases your production of melatonin (the night time hormone). This hormone directly works on the uterine muscles assisting them in contracting, so we need dim lights for lots of melatonin to be produced. Also, think of mammals, they always go into a dark space- free from distraction to birth. It is again a primitive instinct as in this environment we would have been free from predators, making a safe birthing environment. Also, most likely the reason why women often go into spontaneous labour in the night time, the darkness indicates the environment is free from predators.

Keep the lights dim in labour, either whilst you are at home or in the hospital.

4. Birth Affirmations

A POSITIVE MINDSET, is something that you will always own in all situations and I encourage you to utilise this to your advantage. Use affirmations to strengthen this mindset every day. Your mindset will be using words like CONFIDENCE, STRENGTH, RELAXED.

I make the right choices for me and my baby.

I breathe for calmness.

I feel confident about birth.

I feel relaxed about birth.

Birth is safe.

I relax my mind and my body follows.

I believe in myself.

I am strong.

I birth without fear.

(Note here that birth is ALL modes: Instrumental births, vaginal births and cesareans)

By following a positive mindset- your body will naturally align with this, without you predicting or planning what will happen.

The more you go over these affirmations and follow this positive mindset- the more your body believes that all is well and will naturally align with this. What I mean by this is there is going to be less adrenaline in your body, which is a hormone that can stop / reduce contractions. If you are feeling calm, relaxed and confident about birth then the OXYTOCIN hormone is going to be released-keeping your contractions effective and therefore reducing the need for intervention.

Your feelings surrounding birth you can control, which can influence your birth for the positive. However, to plan a birth journey, not so much.

5. STRAWS

I bet you’re thinking what has this small bit of drinking equipment got to do with birth??

Well let me tell you this drinking tool goes two fold…

Firstly let’s talk about the less obvious one… I’m going to take you back to a time where you felt a bit nervous about something maybe a presentation at work or an impending exam. The things that we notoriously do to our bodies around this time is hold tension in our shoulders, hands and jaw. Even now sitting here, reading this email be aware of your jaw are you holding tension in it?  What about your shoulders? Roll your shoulders back and down and you may notice that they were tense beforehand. Ever noticed how you clench your fists when feeling stressed? Our body is connected all the way down- if we are holding tension in our jaw, hands and shoulders then the rest of our muscles in our body hold tension as our body feels as if it is under stress. If you then apply this to your cervix.. a cervix that is tense will not open as readily as one that is relaxed. Which leads me onto a STRAW… when you drink a drink through a straw your jaw is relaxed. You try drinking through a straw with a tense jaw.. it is impossible!! Therefore, with the same rule applying- if your jaw is relaxed then the rest of your body is going to follow suit, meaning that your cervix will be relaxed enough to open efficiently. You can apply this same method to your palms, ask your birth partner to stroke your palms to encourage them to remain open and relaxed. Also, to your shoulders, having your birth partner pop his hands on your shoulders and reminding you to relax them will have the same effect. An extra bonus of both these too is that TOUCH increases the birth hormone OXYTOCIN, which again will encourage contractions.

This same method can and should be used in all birth situations. If you are having a cesarean, it may not be as important what your cervix is doing, however, you are still going to want to be feeling relaxed and calm during the cesarean and when meeting your baby. Get your partner to pop his hands on your shoulders whilst the spinal anaesthetic is going into your back, ask him to hold your hands and stroke your palms during the cesarean. Get that oxytocin flowing at this point, it helps greatly post birth with breastfeeding and bonding with your baby. PLUS it makes you feel good.

Second point of the straw is HYDRATION. Your uterus is a muscle. Think about going to the gym to body bump or HIIT and not bringing your water bottle… ludicrous!! It’s exactly the same as in labour, your uterus contracting requires fluid to work effectively.

Nb. Get yourself a recyclable straw then you’ll be helping your birth and the environment all at the same time.

So that’s a wrap for your 5 POSITIVE BIRTH tips.

For more tips for pregnancy and birth and the fourth trimester come to antenatal class or hypnobirthing.

What you can do to reduce vaginal tears in birth?

Ask A MidwifePregnancyTop 5 Tips

Ok ok I get it.. it’s not the most nicest of subjects to talk about and I’m sure you’re all crossing your legs as you read this 😵. But rather than focusing on how horrid this may be or worse still sticking your head in the sand, start thinking about what YOU are going to do about it!!! Because there’s lots of things that have been shown to lessen the tear, and with around 90% of first time mums having a tear that needs sutures, the more you know the more you can do to help reduce them. Knowledge is power after all. One of the biggest fears expectant mamas have about birth is vaginal tears so I thought I’d do a post on a few things that can be done to lessen the tear (number 6. is one that you can do from 34weeks pregnant.)

1. A warm compress. Having a midwife support the area with a warm compress can reduce tears.

2. Position. Pushing on your left side, all fours or semi- recumbent have been shown to have the lesser tears.

3. Communication- Blow and don’t push when the midwife says. This is so baby’s head can be born SLOWLY.

4. Hands on approach. Having a midwife support your perineum again, especially with a warm compress.

5. Did I mention…

S-L-O-W-L-Y

6. Perineal massage- Massaging the perineum with your thumbs (or getting your partner to do it) from 34 weeks with some olive oil has been shown to lessen any tears in first time mums by 10%.

These tips are all evidence based guidelines from the RCM or from an a midwife Julie Frolich who made a care bundle which has been shown to reduce tears.

If we’re talking about tears then we need to talk about recovery and healing.

1. Change your pads regularly to reduce infection.

2. Stay hydrated. It’s concentrated urine that may sting your stitches.

3. A high fibre diet will help with that first post natal poo. That’s dates, prunes, bran, fruit and veg.

4. Tea tree in the bath can aid healing. Other than that you can wash as normal but don’t use soap on the area. And pat dry.

5. Arnica tablets can help with bruising in that area regardless of if you have a tear. Have a look in your local health shop for arnica tablets to take during labour and post birth.

Any questions…? Please comment and I’ll do my best to answer them.

An insiders guide to obstetrics…

Ask A MidwifeBirth StoriesPregnancy

It’s 11pm and I’m 3 hours into my shift as an obstetric registrar. I look up at the lady I am delivering and tell her that I’m putting the ventouse cup on – a glorified sink plunger that’ll hopefully help me get the baby out. I ask her if she’s having a contraction.

There’s a pause as she sucks deeply on her gas and air, before finally replying

“….no it’s gone.”

“Ok. No worries. With your next one I’m going to help you birth this little one.”

Her husband catches my eye. He’s exhausted – his face is full of fatigue, anxiety, anticipation. I hold his gaze and compose my face. The obstetrician’s poker face is well practised. Beep, beep, beep, the baby’s heartbeat ticks away steadily; it’s almost soothing. We wait for the next contraction. Meanwhile, Beth (the midwife) and the neonatologist (baby doctor) are present in preparation for the delivery. My concentration is momentarily interrupted by a fluttering in my belly and I’m reminded of my own passenger. I turn back to the husband.

“You know you’re the only one in the room who isn’t pregnant?”

Everyone, including the birthing lady in front of me, laughs, before our attention is rapidly recaptured by a building contraction; I am distracted from my own pregnancy because I’m managing another.

 

Beth asked me a shamefully long time ago to put some thoughts on paper about the experience of being a pregnant obstetrician. What insight had it given me? What could I offer my past self in terms of hints and tips? What greater understanding had I gleaned from gestating?

 

I suppose the first thing to say is that I have found pregnancy and motherhood a surprise. I’ve met a lot of pregnant ladies, felt a lot of bellies, scanned a lot of uteruses and delivered a lot of babies. Grandmother; eggs, I thought. Despite being immersed in all things obstetric, I was astonished by how it felt to be pregnant. Despite almost every woman telling me how tired they were when I met them in early pregnancy clinic, the degree of my knackered-ness was astonishing. I’d arrive in the car park 20 minutes early and set my phone alarm just so I could have a cheeky snooze. Then I’d leap out of the car, dry-heave on the curb for five minutes, explaining to passers-by that, no, I wasn’t still drunk, then sprint to labour ward looking wan and sheepish. Unsurprisingly, pregnancy is hard to hide when you’re surrounded by those in the know. The Eau de Vom doesn’t help either.

 

To my delight, a colleague (and now great friend) was roughly the same gestation as me, but was unfortunately having a rough ride during pregnancy. We regaled each other with tales from the pregnant trenches. I once had to flee a delivery room – to “get some equipment” – only to be so desperate to puke that I left the loo door open; the birth partner eyed me quizzically from the corridor. My craving for salty carbs was also out of control: one morning I inhaled a packet of ready-salted crisps between every patient on a morning theatre list. There were six patients that session. My friend, however, out-did me by fainting dramatically on a ward round. The consultant, ever considerate, revived her with a playful kick.

 

By comparison, second trimester was a delight. I stopped feeling sick – hurrah – and started relaxing into the swing of things. I even started to feel more attractive – that ‘glowing’ business didn’t seem to be all nonsense. At least, that was until I mentioned my pregnancy to a colleague.

“Oh, congratulations! Naturally, I just assumed that you’d really enjoyed Christmas.”

Great. Not fit, not ‘glowing’, just fat.

Putting my apparent gluttony aside, I waddled on unabashed.

 

My husband and I planned a trip to the Brecon Beacons when I was 24 weeks. We hadn’t been before and I thought it would be lovely to see it in the snow. I read avidly about ambitious hikes and told my husband that, no, pregnancy wasn’t an illness and it was him who was going to struggle to keep up with me. Yeah. Near the summit of Pen Y Fan, feeling like a breathless Weeble on ice, I came to the painful realisation that pregnancy does, indeed, c hange your exercise tolerance. A planned 6-hour jaunt spiralled into a 10-hour expedition complete with blizzard, white-out and obligatory marital spat. The conversation had become increasingly terse as our phone compass failed (I know, I know…), we got lost, and I put my foot in a deep, icy bog. He had the temerity to laugh.

 

My husband requested something less ambitious second time around, so, at 28 weeks, we went away for a more sedate weekend in St Ives. Pottering around shops and ‘enjoying one another’s company’ were the order of the day – it wasn’t just the pasties that were hot. I couldn’t understand why I was crippled by tightenings all weekend, and mentioned it to a senior midwife when I got back. She smiled then gave me a naughty wink. How had I not known this from my job?!

 

In an attempt to inhabit a more maternal, less obstetric, mental space, I booked NCT classes, and did my best to listen and not interrupt when doctors were portrayed as scalpel-wielding patriarchal butchers. I was only partially successful. Discussion turned to life after the baby, and how we would manage. It still all felt very hypothetical, despite knitted boobies, role-play and swaddling baby Resusci-Ann dolls.

Eventually, around 35 weeks, it dawned on me that this was really happening. Having refused to acknowledge that this pregnancy might actually result in a baby for months, I finally sat down to write my birth preferences. And you know what I discovered? I’m a bit of a hippy. I bought the essential oils, sat on the birth ball, made a playlist (different for 1st and 2nd stage, obvs) and expressed a wish for a normal birth, skin-to-skin, low lighting, Ina May Gaskin and Michel Odent knitting quietly in the corner. Of course, being a massive cynic, I also explained my wishes in event of a Caesarean under general anaesthetic, because failing to prepare is preparing to fail and all that.

In the event, labour was predictably unpredictable, but suffice to say it involved a dog that knew my waters had broken, a husband who was too drunk to drive, and a high-speed trip to hospital whilst alternately screaming and cracking jokes, lying across the back seats of a Mini. Well, we obstetricians do love a bit of drama…

 

 

If you had your baby in Gloucester some time between 2014 and 2016 you may notice this lovely lady in the photo (although typically looking more fresh faced in these photos! ) This Obstetric doctor may have come to visit you during your pregnancy, childbirth or even had the pleasure of helping you deliver your baby. 

Whilst now on maternity leave she is continuing to provide a service to the pregnant mamas of Gloucestershire and beyond with the shoe on the other foot, with this blog about pregnancy as an obstetric doctor.… You’d think it would be teaching Grandma to suck eggs right?

So here is Dr Medland… at your cervix!

Ask A Midwife- Yes that exists

Ask A MidwifeNew mumNewbornPregnancy
In response to your ‘Ask A Midwife’ Qs we have put together a few of our favourite ‘Yes That Exists’ myth busters…

Baby brain.. You’re swearing at your husband for drinking all the milk (see below ‘hate your husband’) he swears blindly he hasn’t drank it all. Then you find it in the cupboard where you left it after making yourself a bedtime brew. My baby is now over one and I still find myself asking silly questions and saying daft things like, “Does Ireland have beaches?” Your mind is so full of important things like keeping a human alive that Geography, kitchen orientation and other unimportant information just falls straight out.

Night sweats… Around night 2 after having baby, I woke up thinking I’d peed the bed my mattress was so wet. However the smell of BO was unquestionable. Change in hormones around day 3 are responsible for this (and many other things nb… see ‘hate your husband’)

After pains… These are the feelings you get after baby is born and your uterus is contracting down to its pre-pregnancy size. can get painful the more children you have but they are normal. Just stock up on your Paracetamol and Ibuporfen, especially while breastfeeding as this can trigger them.

Under rib pain… During my pregnancy, especially during my third trimester I would always get this same pain underneath my rib. I also hear lots of other expectant mamas talking about it too. It gets worse in the evening and the only way to relieve it is by stretching out on the floor. It’s annoying but not serious.

Breastfeeding can hurt… Breastfeeding isn’t suppose to hurt? Who else calls B@*$@*??? Your nipples are a very sensitive area and unless you are use to something attaching onto your nipples at least 8 times a day then of course you are going to have some level of discomfort. Pain can sometimes be a sign of poor attachment (and other complications) so always ask a midwife or feeding consultant to watch your feed. Otherwise time and plenty of Lansinoh will be your healer. It does get easier!

You may hate your husband.. Showers on his own, toilets on his own, gets a hot cup of coffee to drink on his lunch break (whats that again?) at work. Although your hormones may be telling you to throw the towel (or kettle) in/at him, guys also need encouragement and support in their new roles after having a baby as it’s a major life change. Although they may show their struggles in different ways, it can be apparent nonetheless. Make time for yourself as a couple, even if it is something as small as eating dinner together or popping out for a coffee or walk together whilst baby sleeps in the pushchair.  And just like breastfeeding, time and plenty of lansinoh will be your healer. It does get easier!

If you have a question that you want answering or a childbirth rumour you want to know if true or not then you can ask us here… Ask a Midwife. All posts will be anonymous and we will answer your questions in a similar format as above so follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to keep an eye out for your answer.

Newsletter

Social Media

The Bump to Baby Chapter

Winner of 🌟The Best Pregnancy Support Service in Gloucestershire 2017🌟, The Bump to Baby Chapter has something for everyone. 🌟For expectant couple wanting to know all you need to know about labour, baby and those early days we have midwife led antenatal courses. 🌟For a second or third time mother wanting to birth without fear after a negative birth experience. There’s hypnobirthing one day classes for the busy Mum. 🌟Free blogs with tips on birth and baby for all 🌟Buggy walks in Cheltenham for new mothers to bring the sisterhood in motherhood. So whatever stage of pregnancy and whatever number baby have a look at the page, website and get involved 🌟
The Bump to Baby Chapter
The Bump to Baby Chapter
This was me this fine Sunday morning... walking out of my last shift on delivery suite and in to maternity leave, feeling all the good feels 🙌🏼. That’s not because I dislike my job, in fact it’s quite the opposite, I’ll kind of miss catching babies this year I’m sure. But I have all my career to do midwifing and my little person is only going to be a little person once so I’m sure going to make the most of it.

Had a good last shift with these 2 beauts (we’re all looking a bit foggy post nights!), Mia on the left will be TBTBChief for the next few months so you’ll be seeing her face a lot more over here. All classes continue as normal, always with a midwife, giving you the most real and up to date info.

Anyone else finishing for maternity leave soon? 😬

https://www.thebumptobabychapter.co.uk/antenatal-classes-hypnobirthing/
TOTS100 - UK Parent Blogs
TOTS100