‘Tis the season to have a baby… Fa La La La La La La

Why December is actually a great month to have a baby…

Christmas is a crazy busy time for most, with all the food prepping, turkey stuffing, tree decorating and present wrapping there is just no time to have give birth to a baby in between. I’m speaking here from someone who’s own baby could be born any day and with Christmas just less than a week away, I’m really feeling the added pressure. Will the baby be born before, will I be home for Christmas Day? Or will the baby come after Christmas? This pressure is REAL… any expectant mamas currently feeling the same?

It took me one Merry Christmas evening to feel totally different about this.

I was cosy on the sofa..

Festive PJs on ✅

Love Actually on the TV ✅

Winter scent candle was burning ✅

Twinkly lights from the Christmas tree ✅

Presents wrapped ✅

I was feeling all the good Christmassy feels. Relaxed, calm and really excited for Christmas Day. I had inadvertently created THE perfect scene for birth, or at least early labour before going into the hospital.

Oxytocin is a hormone that we need to have contractions. It’s the love hormone so is high when we feel “in love” calm and relaxed. Having high levels of stress tells the body that we’re not in a safe place to give birth, which can effect if you go into labour or can slow down your contractions.

At Christmas time, the build up can be magical, often more so than the day itself.

Cleaning the house like a maniac, sorting out old toys, clearing out old clothes to make more room for what Santa will bring. It’s nesting at its best.

The Shopping, the retail therapy! Need I say anymore. The Amazon prime purchases gives you all the good feels with the added bonus of being a perfectly justified time of year to be spending.

The chocolate orange or 2 can be eaten guilt free.

The lighting is tip top birth environment conditions, the dim lights from dark, early evenings and the twinkly lights from the Christmas lights. Nothing screams calmness quite like it.

It’s always exciting hearing the Christmas songs on the radio. The Christmas piano playlist on Spotify has been my go to chill out songs for all of December. So will definitely be my birth playlist if the baby comes this month.

Partners/Husbands usually have time off anyway so it means extra days off at home with you and the baby.

The roads are quieter for the drive to hospital … ok I’m probably clutching at straws on this one. But you get the idea, good spirits and festive cheer. You have a pre-made perfect birth environment and some amazing coping strategies already built in to the festive season (birth environment and coping strategy are techniques for birth that are covered in hypnobirthing.) There’s nothing that brings a boost of oxytocin quite like it.

Photo creds Chui King Li Photography

Pregnancy Labels- Labour Nose

“Sticks and Stones may break my bones but words can also hurt me. Sticks and stones break only skin, while words are ghosts that haunt me.”

Definition: Pregnancy Labels 

1. When you are pregnant your body becomes public property to be examined, scrutinised and judged. You are carrying all around so you must be having a girl. You’ve really got that pregnancy waddle going on.

2. Usually by someone with no medical knowledge or back ground at all. The lady at the Tesco counter says your bump looks big and she thinks you will go early. She also thinks you shouldn’t be carrying your toddler on your hip being pregnant. 

3. Your pregnancy labels then define who you are and what type of birth you are going to have. You are a geriatric mother so are high risk and will need to be induced at 40 weeks. You are a VBAC so are high risk and can’t have a water birth. 

Sound familiar? I wonder how many pregnant mothers out there have had a label thrown at them in pregnancy?  I have. I have actually had it quite a few times this pregnancy.

My big one (excuse the pun) for me in pregnancy is the ones that involve body image. Here are some little gems I’ve had said to me….

“Labour nose” – I won’t go into labour yet as I don’t have “labour nose” so my nose isn’t swollen enough. Apparently in my previous 3 pregnancies my nose looked massive a few days before I go into labour.

After being told I looked big, it was followed by… “But you looked pregnant before you were pregnant.” … Cheers!

“You can’t eat cake. I wouldn’t be eating cake if I had Gestational Diabetes”… I hadn’t even eaten the cake (yet!) I just said I wanted some!

Pregnancy labels to do with size of someones bump or body bothers me for two reasons…

The first one is that person has to get dressed and leave the house in the morning, choose from limited clothes that may or not fit her ever-changing pregnancy body and maybe even feel good about herself. She may be feeling sick or nauseous, worrying about the health of her baby, finances, suffering with pelvic pain and now also how she looks, as how she looks being pregnant is what everyone seems to comment on.  All these words repeating around in your head when all you should be doing is feeling good about the fact that your body is growing a tiny human. It’s not acceptable to comment on someones body when they aren’t pregnant, so why do we accept it when we are pregnant?

My second reason is what does it mean to carry a big or small baby for that woman’s birth. If someone is told enough times that they have a big baby growing in there then they will start to believe it. Recently an expectant mother told me that she no longer wanted a waterbirth because she thought she was having a big baby. She was going to opt for an epidural instead because then if any interventions were to happen in her birth due to the big baby then she would have her epidural ready. Even though scans showed a normal size baby, the words and stories of others had got in her head. With this example, the epidural would be more likely to cause intervention than the “big” baby. Another example is I have looked after women who have requested inductions of labour due to worries of a big baby, again due to other peoples words and stories making women fearful of birth.

What are your #PregnancyLabels that you have had thrown at you either in your current pregnancy or past pregnancy? It could be size, age, high risk, low risk, cesarean, overdue. I’d love to hear your stories and see your bump pics. Let’s start spreading some #BumpPositivity maybe to remind people that words are powerful and to use them wisely. We should be using our words to encourage pregnant mothers and making them feel beautiful so that these pregnancy moments can be treasured. Remember to tag @thebumptobabychapter in your photos.

You can see where others have got involved in Instagram here.

#BackOffTheBump

Big thanks to Kate from Little Cheltenham for these photos and to Sophie and Brittany

<3

I’m Beth and this is my blog about all things pregnancy and motherhood. I’m a mother of 3 soon to be 4 and a midwife. Me and the midwifery team at The Bump to Baby Chapter also run antenatal classes and hypnobirthing across Gloucestershire. You can see more from The Bump to Baby Chapter on Instagram, Facebook and  Twitter

Dads… in the Birth room or in the pub?

Let’s throw it back to the 1950s where only the aristocratic Dads may have made an appearance in the birth room to welcome a son. The majority of Dads would be waiting in the pub for the news of the arrival of the baby at a homebirth or sat in the hospital waiting room, only to see the baby when their wives would be clean and decent. It was deemed inappropriate for the wives to be seen by their husbands behaving the instinctive, primitive way that labour brings.

Fast forward 60 years to now and Dads are thrown into the birth rooms with often not a scooby doo to what to expect or to do. With the role models from one born every minute spotlighting Dads to be jokers and a spare part in the birth rooms, more concerned with whether they’re going to eat the pickled onion monster munch or the sour cream Pringles. It’s no wonder with the media portraying Dads this way that they find their comfy chair in the birth room, open up their snacks and load up the iPad with the latest football match and settle down for the next few hours, leaving their other halves and the midwives to it.

What would you think if I told you that as a Dad, you are the best asset to birth? You can reduce the want for pain relief and make birth run more smoothly. Oxytocin is the reason why. Dads are the biggest source of oxytocin, with this hormone being the love hormone. A high level of oxytocin means a high level of endorphins (your body’s own morphine supply) and stronger, more regular contractions (oxytocin directly acts on your uterus muscles.)

So to the Dads out there that want to be that difference to the birth (that’s all types of births), here’s my tips for you…

1. Touch- Holding a hand, massaging the lower back, popping a hand on your partners shoulder. Touch increases the oxytocin and let’s her know you’re there.

2. Have a good poker face- No matter how you’re feeling underneath, bring out your best poker face. If she sees fear in you, she’s either going to feel scared herself or feel like she has to reassure you. Either of these are not ideal for her oxytocin levels.

3. Encourage her to eat, drink and wee often. Eating and drinking because the uterus is a muscle that needs nutrients to work effectively. You wouldn’t run a marathon without fuel. Wee often because if the bladder is full then baby’s head can struggle to get past it- women in labour often don’t get the same urge to wee as they do in pregnancy so need reminding to go.

4. Help pack the hospital bag- during birth if she asks you for her flannel for her forehead, or her Vaseline as the gas and air is drying out her lips, you’re going to want to know where it is in that bag. If your partner has a cesarean then all the baby clothes/hats/nappies are going to be your responsibility to find afterwards.

5. Get involved in the birth prep too. Help make the playlist, help research the birth plan. Knowing what will be happening in all avenues of the birth will mean that you can be confident and provide reassurance. Antenatal class can help you with the knowledge that you’ll need. If you know the choices she’d like then you can work with the midwife to make this happen. In the thick of contractions it can be a challenge to make and voice decisions so you’ll be the main communicator.

6. Tell her she’s doing amazing, tell her everything is going well, rather than asking her if she’s ok. If she’s feeling uncomfortable with contractions then she’s probably not going to say she’s fine and dandy.

7. Be a leaning post. If your partner is upright and leaning forward her pelvis will be open an extra 28% meaning more room for baby to pass through. And again the closeness will increase the oxytocin.

8. Be present. Try and limit the use of phones or iPads. When you’re trying to birth a baby and your hubby is scrolling Facebook it can feel a tad isolating.

9. Get your dose of skin to skin after with baby. It can be great for your bonding with baby, helps regulate their temperature, heart rate and breathing. Plus it gives your partner the chance to rest after birth and have two hands to eat the well deserved tea and toast.

10. Look after yourself. There’s nothing worse than having a hangry Dad in the birth room. Pack yourself lots of snacks and drinks so you can stay well fuelled too. Pack yourself a change of clothes too and maybe a toothbrush as labour and birth can take a while.

12. Practise the techniques with her in pregnancy. This can be breathing techniques, counting, visualisations or relaxations from hypnobirthing. What ever coping techniques you are going to use, you’ll need to know what they are to be able to prompt them when the going gets tough- this can be in the car on the way to the hospital, in the waiting room or during transition when birthing mums tend to momentarily lose control.

13. Sort the practical stuff- know who to call, where to park, how to get there, how to get the car seat in the car for the ride home. This will take lots of the pressure off.

Remember YOU are the biggest source of oxytocin in the room. Don’t underestimate your role in the birth room.

The Unexpected Trimester- Nancy’s Early Arrival

It was a Saturday, I had just come home from my baby shower, and put my eldest 2 children to bed. Although there was copious amounts of yummy food at the baby shower, being a glutenous pregnant woman I made myself comfy on the sofa and ordered in a Fat Toni’s. Local people know this is the trophy of all pizzas.

I was 34 weeks and 3 days so not expecting what the night had in store for me but fast forward to 9.50 am, Sunday (I will save my birth story for another day) I had my little baby girl in my arms. Weighing a healthy 5lb 14oz she was in almost tip top condition. Although she was making noises when she was breathing, for what we call ‘grunty’. This is common in premature babies and is a sign that their little lungs are struggling to breath… so off she went in an incubator over the corridor to NNU (Neonatal Unit).

This was Nancy in the first 20 minutes or so after being born, just before being taken over to NNU. You can see a slight ring around her nose and mouth where she needed help with her breathing from a mask.

Although my delivery was very calm, I happened to lose a fair bit of blood, so I stayed on the delivery suite till I was deemed safe to venture across the corridor. And there she was. My gorgeous little girl warm, cosy and peaceful in her incubator, not even aware that she had entered this world.

I looked onto her like she wasn’t my baby.

A baby that I couldn’t hold. I sat there watching her sleep. Scared to touch her; in fear of knocking a wire. I felt so useless and disconnected that I went back to my delivery room. Filled with guilt and dread I sat on my bed and expressed some milk as that was something I knew I could do. As a midwife I have been into NNU many times, looking at other mothers baby’s who I have delivered. This had felt like one of those moments- just an onlooker.

That evening I visited again. I sat watching her in tears. I was unprepared for her arrival and unprepared for not feeling ‘the bond’ with my baby. That evening, with the help of the amazing NNU staff, I held her against my skin and could smell the top of her head. I can remember this feeling more than when she was first put in my arms. We stayed like that for about fifteen minutes, then she was placed back in her incubator. I can’t say that I was overwhelmed with love but I knew that the little bundle in my arms was mine to protect. We named her that evening, Nancy Constance.

 

 

The following day, Nancy was discharged to the nursery. Then, only 48 hours since birth, Nancy was discharged home. We were extremely fortunate that she was able to come out so quickly. There are certain things as a midwife I think you need to go through totruly understand. A baby on NNU for me was clearly one of them. From the short time we spent on NNU and from caring for other mothers with baby’s on NNU I would like to say to any mother who finds themselves in the same situation…

  • Don’t feel guilty for not being able to sit at your baby’s cot side.

You have just given birth. You will need to eat, drink, take your pain relief, visit the toilet, have your post natal checks, sleep and shower. Those trips up and down from maternity ward to NNU can take its toll. You can only give to another from a full cup. Most of all your baby needs you to be well.

  • Think of your baby’s time at NNU as an extension of your womb. The unexpected trimester.

In Nancy’s case she should have still been in my womb, in my mind for reassurance, that’s what the incubator replicated.

  • You WILL bond with your baby.

If you don’t feel connected to your baby, ask for someone to help you into skin to skin, stroke her hands, smell her head. This will all help with bonding. If you can’t do these things have faith that soon, you will be able to. Your feelings now are not a reflection on your future relationship.

 

Babies recover at different rates and no amount of time at medical school can make a doctor or nurse predict the future. It’s unsettling to be not given a time frame of baby’s discharge but this is not through lack of knowledge from the staff but from plenty of experience. We were told to expect Nancy to stay in for 2 weeks, when she was out the following day. Expect the longest then anything less is a bonus.

Most importantly, know that you are doing your best and you are doing incredibly. Nobody can plan for this unexpected trimester.

Robyn’s Way Into The World

Fayes birth story.

So…. We didn’t have a birth plan we were just happy to go with the flow and it’s a good job we did! My due date had passed, and I was starting to feel a tad inpatient so I had a bath with a ‘sex bomb’ (bath bomb from Lush!) which was recommended to me by a new mummy friend I had made on the Bump to Baby Chapter antenatal course. I even had to go to my mother in law’s for the bath because the previous week I had got stuck in our bath due to the taps being in the middle!! 

 

I was 5 days overdue so my partner and I went out for a thai curry at lunchtime, again in a bid to get things started. By 4pm that day the contractions had started…. 10 minutes apart and not very consistent however it was all starting to happen. My partner went off to five-a-side football at 5.30pm and when he returned at 7.15pm they certainly felt stronger and were more like 7 minutes apart however still not always consistent.

 

I had a tiring night, however I managed the pain using my hypnobirthing breathing and visualisations, paracetamol and a tens machine. Sleep was tricky though because well… I was a tad uncomfortable and I was needing to time my contractions. By 4.30am the following day it was time for us to make our way to the birth unit at Gloucester Royal, things seemed more consistent and my pyjamas bottoms suddenly appeared wet! My partner drove us to the hospital saying ‘this is it!’, it reminded me of that early morning trip to the airport when you are feeling a mixture of excited and nervous!!

 

We arrived at the birth unit and after being assessed I was advised I was 3cm dilated and only part of my waters had broken, therefore diamorphine was recommended to me so that I could rest and catch up on some sleep for the day that was ahead of me. They also started me on some IV antibiotics because I had Group B strep.

 

Several hours passed, my waters hadn’t broken naturally, I felt super relaxed and drowsy and I hadn’t dilated anymore. I felt at this point a little frustrated and waved goodbye to any hope of a water birth because I needed to be looked after in the delivery suite and have the rest of my waters broken. It was at this point that I was started on the hormone drip to try and increase the intensity and frequency of the contractions (or so I thought this was).

 

The level of hormone drip changed throughout the day, and by 10pm that evening I was 6cm dilated, this felt so wrong to both my partner and I at the time after such a long day. However, earlier that night we had a wonderful surprise when Beth came on shift and was assigned as our midwife. Seeing a friendly face was just the best we could have hoped for and my partner was pleased because he could straight talk with Beth! I was shattered and was only using gas and air as pain relief, otherwise I was managing with my hypnobirthing techniques. I remember feeling really quite insular and just focussing in on my breathing. A cesarean was offered and discussed at 11pm however we declined this suggestion on the basis that I didn’t want the recovery afterwards. Albeit, I was very tempted and did ask whether they could guarantee our baby would be born in the next hour so that it’s birthday could be the 16th of the month the same as her dad- barmy I know!! My partner laughed at this reasoning, in my head it was justified given the day I had experienced! Instead we were advised the hormone drip would be increased and we would be assessed again in 2 hours.

 

Those two hours I remember being really tough, however both Beth and my partner were very supportive and I remember them both being really positive. Finally, at about 1.30am I was more or less fully dilated, however (there are lots of howeversin this story!!), our baby’s head was facing 10 o’clock as opposed to 6 o’clock and therefore I needed some help from a doctor to move baby into a more optimum position for birth. I have also learned since that her heart rate was also creating an odd pattern and I wasn’t in any fit state to take instructions on how to push because I was attached to the gas and air for comfort and was exhausted! Therefore, the next part of the story involved signing a consent form and going to theatre. The two options I had were forceps and C section- both of which I had prayed I wouldn’t need so I remember feeling like a failure. Given our feelings about the recovery after a C section, we opted for forceps first.

 

I recollect being in theatre feeling like I was on Holby City- surrounded by lights, legs in stirrups and lots of clinicians around me including an anaesthetist trying to get a spinal block into my back however I couldn’t sit still due to the contractions. I recall him getting more and more cross and frustrated with the situation and perhaps me due to my lack of cooperation (not on purpose I might add!!). Once the spinal block was in, the process started and the one doctor could not turn her head, nevertheless I was lucky enough that another doctor was available to try. She was successful, however our little baby turned back! At this point, I remember Beth saying ‘you are definitely having a girl because she is being a right diva!’ this made me smile because we didn’t know at this point what we were having. The same doctor managed to turn her again and very much gave the impression that this was my opportunity to push my baby out. Beth was monitoring the baby’s heart rate and feeling my tummy for contractions, when a contraction came I was supported, encouraged and motivated to push as hard as I could three times. I am pretty sure after 3 lots of 3 pushes our baby was born! Forceps were used to help direct her out and I had an episiotomy. 

 

Beth told us we had a baby girl and I was ecstatic because my partner already had a boy so I secretly hoped for a girl! Unfortunately, she was born very startled and with a slightly disfigured chest so was whisked off to the corner of the room for checks. My partner recalls how anxious he felt at this time, nevertheless within 15 minutes of being checked over by the doctors, her chest had recovered and all was good in the world. Well for her anyway… I on the other hand was still lay on my back, legs in stirrups feeling quite uncomfortable whilst the doctors manually removed my placenta which got a little stuck, hence my 1.7 litre blood loss. Due to this loss I started to feel more and more unwell- shaky and sick. By now, our baby girl was in my partner’s arms having lots of lovely cuddles and I couldn’t control my shakes whilst in recovery so had to opt for looking at her and stroking her hand for the first hour and a half of her life. Once I felt better I made up for it with some skin to skin contact and a good feed. Holding her for the first time was just the best medicine for feeling better and this is how I have decided to remember her birth.

 

 

 

 

Sports Psychology vs. Hypnobirthing. Why are they so similar?

Sports Psychology vs. Hypnobirthing.

Why they are so similar.

If I said to you names such as Wayne Rooney, Andy Murray, Johnny Wilkinson and Jessica Ennis. What would you say they have in common? They are all sportsmen/women, yes. All great achievers in their chosen sport, yes. But did you know they all attribute a lot of their super sports powers to visualisation? They basically HypnoSport. 

Wayne Rooney- Before a match he visualises his game right down to the colour of his socks and pants. Being specific in your visualisation – thinking of all your 5 senses- is associated with enhanced sport performance. Rooney has said to have visualised everything from the sound of the crowd to his full kit. 

Hypnobirthing- If you imagine yourself in birth and think about those 5 senses. Just like Wayne it will help with your visualisation, it will also mean that when you are in birth and you smell that lavender smell or are in that birth room that you’ve imagined- it’s not going to be an alien thing to you – your body has already learnt to associate those 5 senses with calmness and birth, reducing your anxiety.

Jonny Wilkinson – Renowned for visualising the perfect kick, from the line that the ball will follow to the feel of a great kick on his boot. The match before that perfect drop kick in the World Cup wouldn’t have been the first time he’d been in that situation. Having visualised that kick or others similar many a times that week before. This is positive visualisation. In Wilkinson’s words, “If you have realistically imagined situations, you feel better prepared and less fearful of the unexpected.”

Hypnobirthing- Again, putting yourself in lots of situations and feeling positive about it and in control means that if you have a cesarean you will feel confident during that birth. If you have an induction you would have imagined exactly what you will be doing whilst coping with those early, induction contractions. Prepare yourself by putting yourself in these situations so you feel less fearful of the unexpected, just like Jonny.

Jessica Ennis-Hill Olympic Gold medalist “I used visualisation to think about the perfect technique,” she says. “If I could get that perfect image in my head, it helped me channel my physical performance.” Researchers have shown that practising things in your head fires off the same neurons as if you were doing it in real life. Sort of like your mind doesn’t know the difference between practising in real life or imagined.

Hypnobirthing- You can’t practise birth, you can’t go training like the athletes do. But you can put yourself in the situation in your mind. This will increase your confidence in yourself and your body’s ability when the day comes. All of these tricks to reduce fear means that your body will have less adrenaline in your body. Adrenaline in birth is responsible for feeling tense, panicky and therefore pain. It can also reduce your contractions. Meaning that imagining things going positive in your birth means your channeling your physical reaction by controlling your hormones so that they’re not firing off the stressful adrenaline. 

I find it odd that visualisation in sports performance is so supported and recognised and massive in the media in such a positive way. Yet if you do this for birth it can still be seen as hippy and maybe even naive.  People are wary of visualising in birth due to worrying that their actual experience will differ from what they’ve imagined- as we know that birth has lots of other factors involved that are often beyond our control. Yet again this is the same for sports. Jonny and Wayne would have both relied heavily on their other team players and you can never control how well the opposing team are playing too. But they know that if you are feeling confident and prepared, you’re stacking the odds in your favour- that applies for both sports and birth. 

Maybe if we called it birth psychology these techniques would be more mainstream, maybe if we called sports psychology “Hypno sporting” the term hypnobirthing would be more acceptable! Either way the powerful technique of visualisations shouldn’t just be limited to use in sport. Exactly the same techniques can be used for business, organising your home life, an important presentation, your wedding or an important dinner party. And of course, as a technique to be able to birth like a boss.

 

photo creds Monet Nicole

Top 10 Photos to capture in your birth room

Moments in the birth room are moments to be remembered. Here are just a sample of 10 of my favourite captures.

1. The support given from your partner.

(Beautiful photos from Luna Palm Photography Cheltenham)

2. The Lion King moment- During a cesarean when the drapes are dropped and you first set eyes on your baby.

(📸 Monet Nicole)

3. The Moment you catch your baby.

4. Your partners face when you catch your baby. This Dads face is priceless.

(📸 Monet Nicole Births)

5. The cord being cut. This is one being trimmed after a cesarean birth.

6. Baby’s first checks such as weight and head circumference.

7. The first family photo.

(Sam and Rich ❤️ when 2 became 3)

8. Those tiny fingers and tiny toes.

(📸 Chui King Li Photography) Cheltenham

9. Midwife and Baby- If you’ve had a good relationship with your midwife, one of your baby and your midwife is a popular one to take.

(📸 This is myself with gorgeous Casia. Her Mama Lucy’s blog is a good one to read.)

10. The going home photo-

(A Bump to Baby Chapter papa taking his new baby home ❤️)

These are my Top 10. Have I missed any special captures out? I’d love to see yours in the comments…

Beth

❤️

The Cascade of Intervention- Just a Myth.

The cascade of intervention is a term thrown around in lots of pregnancy classes by lots of natural birth advocates, it means…

Having an intervention (an intervention being an induction, an epidural, cesarean etc.) in pregnancy or childbirth will increase your chances of having more interventions as birth progresses.

I myself am a mahoussive natural birth advocate. However, I’m more of a woman’s choice and safe birth advocate. The cascade of intervention is a phrase that I’ve recently begun to question. Let me tell you why…

Firstly, let’s ask ourselves does the phrase in itself do more harm than good? Let’s take induction as a starter. So many pregnant women fear the process of induction because of this cascade concept. If you’re scared of an induction then science tells us that fear makes things more painful anyway. Your body becomes tense so contractions feel worse. Often because of this fear mindset women are more likely to choose an epidural with an induction- this cascade of intervention is one that is supported by research. Let’s flip it on the other side though, if pregnant women weren’t aware of this phrase or the negative stories that surrounded induction and were prepped more on what to expect from an induction then would that cascade be less or non existent from a reduction in fear? I have seen so many women have amazing induction experiences, they’ve hypnobirthed there way through, had waterbirths, stayed active and mobile with the hormone drip. It’s these stories that pregnant women need to be hearing to reduce the fear of being induced. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.. if you tell a pregnant woman that they’re more likely to choose an epidural after induction then they are more likely to make that choice.

Sticking with the theme of induction, a new piece of research this year found that cesareans were less in the group of women who had uncomplicated pregnancies and chose to have an induction at 39 weeks compared to women who waited for labour to start naturally or had an induction using current guidelines (such as at 42weeks for being overdue). This bit of research suppports another theory of why the cascade of intervention isn’t necessarily true. For example, let’s look at pregnancy conditions like pre-eclampsia. If you’re offered an induction due to having this, then during labour have an emergency cesarean, it’s more likely that the cesarean was due to the pre- eclampsia than the induction itself. Similarly, if you’re offered an induction due to being overdue and a similar situation occurs then that’s not necessarily the induction that’s made that happen but placentas work less efficiently past 42weeks which may be the reason. So the cause of further intervention is not the first intervention, but the reason why the intervention was chosen in the first place. 

I feel like we need to change the press of interventions. When women choose not to have an induction because of the worry of the cascade of intervention then their choice they’ve made has been swayed by a concept that’s not entirely true.

My tips for all pregnant mothers when offered an intervention would be…

  1. Always know your options and ask why you’re being offered an intervention. Birth interventions get a lot of unnecessary bad press when actually they are a much needed part of the birth world.
  2. Keep your mindset strong. Choosing one intervention doesn’t mean you’re automatically going to cascade yourself to a negative birth experience. Keep reminding yourself that you’re making positive choices for you and your baby.
  3. You can use this acronym to help you make a choice when given an option of intervention.

E- Is this an Emergency?

B- What are the Benefits?

R- What are the Risks?

A- Are there Alternative options?

N- What happens if I do Nothing?

What are your thoughts on the cascade of intervention?

Photo credits- Instagram @benzalphotography

For more tips and info on anything covered in this blog come to antenatal classes or hypnobirthing!!

A Midwives Top 5 Birth 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.

I had big plans…

I had big plans for this pregnancy with it being my last. I was going to spend my days in flouncy dresses, drinking green juices and doing yoga 3 times a week. But, that was far from the reality. I couldn’t bare to cook, the smell of meat would make me vom. The kids lived off anything that could go in the oven for 12 weeks and I went through loaves and jars of buttery, marmite on toast. Nothing veg-like entered my mouth and the only shade of green I saw was the colour of my face after I tried yoga the once. Doing the sun salutation was like being on the worlds windiest rollercoaster (and I’ve never liked rollercoaster.)

It all kicked off about 8 weeks, the week before I booked a scan at Early Life Ultrasound as I felt NOTHING. Not a single pregnancy symptom. Not a tingley nipple, no nausea, no bloodhound nose… Zilch. 8 weeks from the moment you pee on the stick to the NHS scan is a looong ass time to wait to know that all is ok. So off I went to my scan, feeling all the sickness by this point. Nancy played with all the toys in the waiting room whilst I sat and flicked through pregnancy magazines. Moments later we got called in and there was my 4th little nugget on the screen. Heart rate flickering away. It was awesome. This grey little smudge on the screen that was in 9months time going to be part of the Kitt- Holden crew. I got my photos and then went off for lunch. I’m so glad I have these photos because the day of my NHS 12 week scan, turmoil broke out. Rob went to work with the car AND with my wallet in it. I scraped the house to get pennies for the bus then walked the rest of the way to the hospital with 3 kids in tow. Was so dehydrated because of the marathon walk in the heat that there was nothing in my bladder for the scan so had to wait for my bladder to fill drowning myself in water in the waiting room. I then didn’t have enough money for the scan photos either. Was one of those epic fail moments… no not moments, days. So no 12 week photos for this baby.

I’m the worst at keeping secrets, more so my own exciting ones. But the crazy intuition of midwives is second to none in guessing who’s pregnant. I remember telling one midwife at work that I’d managed to sleep all day before a night shift… she immediately thought, pregnant! Plus when you’re heard vomiting in the toilet no one suspects a bug. A baby is far more suspected amongst the midwives.

I would be sick whilst getting in the car, sick when getting out of bed, sick whilst entering the house from a day out. My fave place for those months was in the safety of my own home or better still, bed, where no one could see. It can be a pretty lonely place! I ate what made me feel better, I took a back seat at life and I did not feel guilty about it.

Being now 18weeks, I’m back to my coffee/tea drinking self and feeling a lot more normal. I’m still holding on to my green juice/yoga plans… watch this space. Although, I’m four pregnancies in and I’m still waiting for that glow. Second trimester you owe me…

Pregnancy- The happiest reason to feel like crap.