Everyone has their sayings that they repeat in their head when they need a little pick me up. It might be a, “ Come on… You’ve got this!” before you stand in front of your team to do a presentation at work or “Stay calm, stay calm.” when you’re driving in the car and some douchebag has pulled out in front of you.
It’s commonly seen amongst sportsmen and women where they shout, “Come on! Come on!” when they are walking on pitch or warming up. We see it as psyching themselves up but they’re actually just telling themselves to come on. They’re telling themselves that they can do this and they have got this.
It’s the phrase that you remind yourself when you want to behave in a certain way. Now, often these phrases are so engrained in us that we now don’t even see it as an “affirmation” as that’s just SOOOOO hippy. They are phrases that are so engrained in us that t’s just something we say or do. And this kind of familiarity is what we want to achieve in pregnancy through birth affirmations.
In labour, during contractions, there will be times where they are so intense that you will feel like you can’t do it any longer. Now, if you have been practising your birth affirmations throughout pregnancy then it will be at this point where you might start repeating over in your head, “I can do anything for 60seconds, I can do anything for 60 seconds, I can do anything for 60seconds.” (FYI – 60 secs is about how long a contraction lasts). You will say it till you believe it to be true. This is easier to do if you have read them to yourself every day or couple of days in the build up to your labour. It will be even more helpful if your partner knows them too as these phrases can then be reminded to you when you need a pep talk in labour.
If you want to learn more about birth affirmations and other techniques that you can use so that you can get through labour or your cesarean birth in the calmness way possible. Then check out TBTBC antenatal and hypnobirthing online course. Built by UK midwife, Beth to give you a tool box of techniques to be used in all birth situations…..
This is for you if you’re from 34 weeks. If that’s not quite you yet, then save this link or screen shot so you’ve got the info for in a few weeks/months time.
If this is you then these are some things that you can start doing that will improve your birth.
So, what can you do to start prepping for your birth?
With 20% of mothers in the UK having a labour that’s induced and between 10 & 25% of 1st time mothers having an instrumental birth across the UK, the possibilities of these scenarios happening are for you are very real. With this info you can do what you can to stack the odds in your favour to reduce this happening for you.
Here are a few things that now you’re 34 weeks or after, you can start doing to prepare for your birth.
1.Dates a) the food kind Did you know that eating 6 dates a day from 34 weeks can reduce your chances of intervention. There was research on 2 groups, one group ate the dates, the other group didn’t. The group that ate the dates were less likely to be induced, less likely to have a hormone drip in labour and also had a shorter labour time (specifically the pushing). b) the romantic kind Putting some regular time in for date night with you and your partner can seriously help you stay calm in labour. It reminds you of all the other things, rather than relying solely on drugs, that will keep you calm. Things like dim lights, music, essential oils, massage and a bath or shower are all things that should be utilised when you’re at home in early labour or having an induction on the ward at hospital. Practising this little date night routine weekly will mean that you are conditioning your body to associate all the above with calmness, making it more effective when early labour starts.
2. Raspberry Leaf Tea Instead of frantically googling “Ways to naturally induce labour” when you’re a week over due and realising that you could have done things weeks ago to help yourself, buy some raspberry leaf tea now! Drinking a cup a day from 34 weeks has been associated with avoiding induction. With this one the research doesn’t actually support this theory. What it does support though is this… RLT tones your uterus, so women who drank the tea from 34 weeks had a shorter labour than those who didn’t drink it. It also assists in bringing your uterus back to its pre pregnancy size. Nb. RLT shouldn’t be drank if you are booked in for an elective cesarean, are having a VBAC or have a scar on your uterus from previous surgery.
3. Perineal Massage
Massaging your perineum (the bit between your vagina and your anus) has been shown to reduce the severity of your vaginal tear for first time mothers. Around 90% of first time mothers in the UK have a tear of some kind. To lessen this tear use some olive oil/coconut oil on your thumbs, insert them into your vagina about half an inch and massage down towards your perineum. The research doesn’t support that this makes any difference for second or more time Mums.
So what do you think? Are you going to put any of these techniques into practise or add these items to your next food shop.
If you want to know about ways to keep calm during your birth, ways that you can stack the odds in your favour to have a great birth and techniques that you can start practising now in your pregnancy to prep for birth, then you can get all the information from the convenience of your own home on your own time, by accessing the hypnobirthing and antenatal education online course for £27. An online course put together by UK midwife, Beth offering both hypnobirthing and antenatal education, which has helped women across the globe feel confident and calm during their birth.
I get many messages on which types of workouts are safe/not safe during pregnancy. I was going to do an instagram post on this topic but it would eventually disappear down my grid and be of no use to anyone. Plus, I have A LOT to say about it – 2200 characters wouldn’t cut it! ￼Therefore, I’ve written this article for you, about things to consider, when training during pregnancy.
To answer a very important and common question first:
Am I able to start strength training for the first time, whilst pregnant?
Often we are told not to take up a new sport, whilst pregnant but this is a bit of a myth. There is no reason why you shouldn’t take up strength training during pregnancy, I’ve had pregnant clients start with me, that have never stepped in a gym before. BUT (and it really is a huge BUT), my advice would be to go to a specialist PT, even if only to get you started. I recommend a specialist PT as not all PTs are qualified in pregnancy fitness and even some of those that are, the theory has been thin and it’s more of a tick in the box. Whether you are pregnant or not, if your PT is not talking to you about how you breathe during working out and vitally, if you are pregnant or postpartum, how to engage your TVA, then to put this bluntly, you need to find a new PT. That’s not to say your PT isn’t good but their strengths may lie elsewhere, just as I wouldn’t train an athlete or prep someone for a physique competition, as that’s not where may strengths lie. My strengths lie in pregnancy, postpartum and menopause support and I am passionate about helping all women throughout these various stages of our lives.
I digress. If you are pregnant, don’t just copy instagram or youtube videos, speak to a specialist that can write you a programme and explain the fundamentals to you. Most gyms will have a PT that will be able to get you started safely.
Ok, here are my TOP 5 areas for you to focus on, should you start or continue to strength train during pregnancy. NOTE: With the exception of the first one, Relaxin, you should be doing these anyway, regardless of whether you are pregnant or not.
Relaxin starts coursing through your body early on in pregnancy and while at the end of pregnancy, it is there to help prepare your joints, tendons and ligaments for birth, it may affect some women earlier or more intensely. Even if you feel strong and sturdy, you don’t really know what’s going on inside of you. Be kind to your body – don’t over do it. Lower your weights and increase your reps instead of trying to go heavier. The last thing you want to be doing is throwing your back out or worse, suffering fromSPD.
It’s imperative with training anyway but even more important during pregnancy, that you EXHALE (breathe out) on exertion, i.e. the hardest part of the exercise = the part of the exercise that goes against gravity. E.g. with squats, breathe out on your way up; with bicep curls, breathe out as you curl up and with deadlifts, breathe out as your drive up. Long breaths out through your mouth and deep inhale through your nose on the eccentric part of the movement. It is the opposite to normal breathing so pay attention and ensure that you’re doing it right.
TVA – LOCK IT IN!
Thetransverse abdominis (TVA) helps with the process of breathing, by assisting in exhalation and compressing the internal organs. However, its main function is to activate the core muscles and stabilise the pelvis and lower back, prior to any movement of the body. So, it’s pretty important! Therefore, on the exhale mentioned above, you want to ensure that your TVA is switched on when you’re exhaling too. This engages your core and pelvic floor and keeps them protected and strong. To lock in your TVA, squeeze below as if you are stopping yourself from weeing and pooing (sorry :)), then immediately after that, zip up from your pubic bone pulling your belly button into your spine. Your TVA is now on. Relax it as you inhale, switch it back on as you exhale.
Diastasic Recti (DR) is commonly referred to as ‘ab separation.’ Everyone will have DR during pregnancy. How much will differ from woman to woman. We are told that it should “go away” or “return back to normal” by the time we are 8 weeks postpartum but this really isn’t always the case.
The first thing that I want to say about DR is that I don’t believe that it is purely based on doing things right or wrong during pregnancy. I say that because I know super fit mums, with rock solid abs, that have adhered to all the advice to avoid DR and have still had it quite badly, even at 3 months postpartum (but have gone on to repair them). I’m not an expert on the effects on the anatomy during pregnancy but this is what I’ve witnessed for myself. I do think your body type plays a part in how much your abs separate during pregnancy. For example, I didn’t have much ab separation at all, even during pregnancy, because I have a super long torso. Add to that a wide hip canal and there is plenty of room for baby to grow and nest lengthways, without having to push out width ways. I am all body! In contrast, someone with a short torso is more likely to have ab separation as there isn’t much room for baby to spread out length ways so mama has to grow width ways. In this instance, you can do as much as you can to mitigate the negative impact of DR but you are still likely to get it. If you’ve already had a baby and already have diastasic recti, please do not panic. It is a vicious rumour that your abs should come back together completely. In fact, you may have had some separation before you were even pregnant. Contrary to what we are told, 1 to 2 cms of DR is actually ok to live with. What matters is a little thing called ‘tensegrity’ or ‘tension integrity’ – I promise I’m not making these words up.If the gap is firm, then that is actually fine. When you’re pregnant, it’s not just your abs that separate, it’s your organs, fascia and everything else swimming around inside of you. Therefore, it seems crazy that we should expect everything to go completely back to how it was pre-kids, doesn’t it? And the more children that you have, particularly close together, the more likely you are to suffer. If the gap is more than 2cms and/or loose to touch, i.e. your fingers sink in, then you’re more at risk of problems such as lower back and pelvic floor issues to more serious issues such as prolapse or hernias. If you have any concerns about DR, get in touch with a Women’s Health Physio. If you are local to Cheltenham,Louise Rahmanouis your lady and the top of her field. You couldn’t be in better hands.
So, what can we do to minimise the risk of DR?
Breathing correctly, as mentioned a lot already. Breathing correctly during exercise ensures that you don’t put any unnecessary pressure on your intra-abdominal wall.
When you wake up in the morning, roll on to your side and push yourself up to get up – don’t use your abs to sit up.
Avoid exercises that put unnecessary pressure on your intra-abdominal wall, such as planks, crunches, sit ups, double leg raises, hanging knee raises and high impact jumping, particularly jumps where both feet come off the floor and land at force at the same time. Jumps also put unnecessary pressure on your already compromised pelvic floor. Which brings me nicely on to…
I’ve left this to the end on purpose, even though you may feel it’s your biggest area of concern. The reason for this is because, if you follow all the guidelines above, you’ll have been taking care of your pelvic floor without even realising it. Woo hoo!
Breathing: the quality of your breathing mechanics doesn’t just affect your lungs. It travels past your lungs and down into your diaphragm. Therefore, it has the potential to improve your pelvic floor, bowel and bladder function.
TVA: lock it in and you are working your pelvic floor before you even start an exercise
DR: Minimal DR means less risk of pelvic floor issues
Regarding fitness, what I would add to the above is this:
PRIORITISE YOUR GLUTES!
Modern studies show that youcannot have a strong core or pelvic floor without strong glutes. FACT. Our glutes are set up to be idle, despite being our biggest muscle group, because we mostly sit on them all day and stretch the muscles. Therefore, work them! Activate them with bands as a priority and make hip thrusters your best friend. For inspo, check out these videos on myyoutube channel.
So, there you have it! My top tips for training throughout pregnancy! I hope you’ve found this useful. If you know anyone else that would benefit from reading this article, please use the share button to pop it on your facebook.
Please note, this article is written by Nicky Ryder from Fit Inside Out, based on experience, evidence and training from Burrell Education. There is no one size fits all when it comes to our anatomy and physiology. Some women continue to do marathons, crossfit, HIIT and other high impact exercise during pregnancy and do just fine. It’s unlikely that they are doing these things for the first time though and many of them will have professional support and guidance. If in doubt, follow my guidelines above and listen to your body.
This is a brand spanking new ANTENATAL WEEKEND that TBTBC Midwife team are offering to expectant couples of the Cotswolds and beyond. It’s a jam-packed weekend filled to the brim to totally prep you for birth and baby in a great country setting with scrummy food, surrounded by other like-minded, expectant couples.
This weekend is designed specifically for couples who find attending a weekly course challenging to fit around other commitments and who want the benefits of meeting other pregnant couples from a group course. We’ve built this course for you.
Being a midwife, I see so frequently how antenatal classes make a difference to women and couples, both in the delivery room and after with their baby. So I have put together this course with the goal that you…
✨Have an antenatal course from a midwife who SEES BIRTH and CARES FOR women and partners in the delivery room and the immediate time after. Who works in Gloucester so that all the information you will get is up to date and relevant to where you will be giving birth. So that the information given to you is real, honest with practical tips that really work.
✨Know what to expect with having a baby and as new parents. To know what is normal and what is not. How to keep your baby safe and well.
✨Have a tribe of mums/dads so that you can share the highs and lows of parenthood with and you have someone to message in the 2am club.
It will cover everything you need to know about birth from an active birth to cesareans and everything in between, all led by midwives who help expectant mothers and fathers during birth in their day to day work. Life with a newborn and those early days are also covered, from how to feed your baby, signs of a well fed baby, bathing, nappy changing, what’s normal and what’s not.
I’m keen to add to the social factor as it is so important to find your village. The classes are really chilled, so relaxed that we have lunch together as a group, two courses off Cowley Manors delicious menu. There’s also a bar at the venue, the partners usually make use of this to have a beer at break.
Remember if you want to add Hypnobirthing to your Bump to Baby Chapter you can do so with a 30% discount for booking an antenatal course with us too. You can also access our post natal courses for FREE when your baby is born, including Sleep, Colic, Reflux and Weaning.
Venue: Cowley Manor, Near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL53 9NL
Saturday 14th and 15th September 2019 (Due dates October- December)
Time: 10 am start both days – itinerary to follow- 4pm finish. (Overnight stay not included.)
This baby here was born ‘en caul’ which means that the baby was born still in its amniotic sac.
This is a fascinating photo and a fascinating (and rare) type of birth for the birth nerds amongst us but there’s 2 other important things to gain from looking at this photo.
1. Opposed to popular belief, this photo is evidence that waters don’t have to pop for you to be in labour. Babies can, in fact, be born with their waters still intact.
2. For most baby’s, they are not swimming in a giant balloon of amniotic fluid. If you look at the top of this baby’s head, the membranes are very close to baby’s head. If you then imagine that baby’s head tightly in a pelvis acting as a plug- you can see why some women second guess themselves on whether baby’s waters have gone or is it just a little bit of pee. Sometimes the waters trickle out, which NEVER happens in the movies, right?! Don’t always expect a flood gate and always call in if you suspect your waters have gone.
Two of my babies have been born with waters still intact when their heads were born. It was like giving birth to a little astronaut 👩🚀
Has anyone got an interesting story to share on their waters breaking?
You can read the comments and join in on the conversation here.
Hospital Bag Items. So the lists online are endless, but what do you actually need in your hospital bag?
Here are a few of the things that as a midwife, I see most helpful in the birth room and there after ….
💡Lip balm- Gas and air can make your lips really dry. So can hospitals with their dry air.
💡 Earplugs/Eye mask- This one is useful if you need to spend any time on the antenatal maternity ward eg. induction of labour. Ear plugs are definitely not for after you’ve had the baby!!
💡Flannel/water spray/mini fan – You can get HOT in labour. Also hospitals 🥵
💡Socks- if you have an epidural or spinal. When it wears off your feet can feel cold!
💡 Always pack an extra bag to keep at home for a relative to bring in if you unexpectedly need to stay in for longer
💡 Dads/Partners- Pack yourself a bag too. Think change of clothes, food, toothbrush, food, drinks, food. Paracetamol is also a good one for you to have, hospitals can’t dish out the drugs to Dads and lack of sleep and hospital air can mean headaches. Did I mention snacks? There is nothing worse than a hangry Dad.
But it’s not always about the practical things that you may need. Such as clothes to wear, food to eat, nappies for baby etc.
Have you ever thought though about packing items that may make your birth better?
Here are a few hospital bag items that will help improve your birth.
1. A Pillow – The most relaxed time in your day is most likely the moment just before you go to sleep. Your body, without maybe even realising it, will find comfort in the smell of your pillow. Bring your own pillow with you to help keep you relaxed in labour. Plus, pillows are like gold in a hospital!
2. An IPad or laptop – One of my TBTBC ladies went through her whole labour watching the athletics on her iPad. She had an induction of labour and was on the hormone drip. I remember going in to see her whilst she was in labour as I was on shift. I left the room thinking she is far toooo calm to be in labour as she just perched there watching the athletics. Turns out an hour later I was in the room as she birthed her baby. It was amazing! The iPad for her offered a great distraction method.
3. Headphones – If you think about the times that you have maybe been to the gym for a gym class- music is a massive part of any session as it acts as a distraction method. You notice less when you are feeling out of breath or exhausted because a good song is on. The same can apply for birth, complie a birthing playlist with your fave tunes on and bring a speaker or some headphones to listen.
4. Lucozade – Your uterus is a muscle, so during your contractions your uterus will need water and energy to work efficiently. Lucozade (ideally not the fizzy one) is great to keep your uterus hydrated so it can keep on contracting well.
5. A flannel- Many birthing mothers get very hot in labour. A flannel can be put on your forehead or nape of your neck to help keep you cool and comfortable. If you forget a flannel,, a sanitary pad on your head can also work the same way !
And for baby…
Pack enough nappies for 48hours days.. 8-10 nappies to be on the safe side. If your baby only does one poo a day then you’ll be fine. Equally, they can poo 4 or 5 times a day or more so better to pack safe. If you’re in for longer than have extras already packed in your “extras” bag at home.
A hat is a must. Babies lose heat through their heads and they don’t regulate their temperatures very well in the first few days.
As a rule of thumb, baby should be wearing one more layer to you. So in the winter, you are likely to be putting your baby in a vest, baby grow and a cardigan. Then blankets too. Cardigans though are great for the winter baby. 5x vests and 5x baby grows and 2 x cardigans would be plenty for a 48 hour stay in the hospital.
Want the complete checklist? You can get it here to print off and tick off when you have added it to your hospital bag.