Poor Mary on her donkey trying to find a nice place to have her precious baby, only to be showed to a stable filled with animals. If this was to happen nowadays we’d all be fuming that we didn’t get to our hospital room with a bed, warm water and a midwife.
But I want to share with you why I think Mary’s stable birth wasn’t as bad as we once thought.
1. When Mary was in labour, she set off on her donkey to find somewhere to give birth. She would have been upright sat on that donkey with her legs straddled wide, her open pelvis would have meant plenty of room for baby Jesus to travel down and this would have meant lots of pressure on her cervix to help it dilate.
2. Notice on her very long search for a place to birth she didn’t just accidentally have her baby on the pavement outside the local pub. That wouldn’t have made a very biblical story now would it?? You see our bodies have this funny way of having our backs. If adrenaline is high and we are stressed (for example being told a big fat, “No room at the inn” several times) our bodies can stall labour. Only when she found a safe place to birth did her labour crack on (that stable would have been nesting at its best!)
3. There was no bed in that stable. Beds are not always our friends in labour yet lots of birth rooms make the bed the centre point. Having no bed in the centre of the stable would have meant that Mary would have needed to walk, kneel, lean, squat, go on all fours to get into a comfortable position. This would have meant that baby Jesus would have been able to navigate through the pelvis a lot easier than if Mary saw a bed and then got on it.
4. It was dark. It was night time and there would have been no lights to just switch on in the stable. A dim lantern would have been the only light (and the North Star of course) meaning that melatonin (the darkness hormone) would have been at its highest. Melatonin acts on the uterus to increase contractions meaning a smoother labour.
5. There were no onlookers. Her mother didn’t just pop in to see if she was ok. Her other children weren’t demanding snacks or needing picking up from the school run. There was no midwife, no doctors, no change of staff, no staff just popping in to take equipment or check the resus. There’s a theory called the Fear Of Observeration. Whilst we may not consciously realise this, having people watching us in birth can make us behave differently and this can interfere with birth. I’m not for one minute suggesting that Mary shouldn’t have had a midwife there but, I think limiting her birth partner to just Joseph was a good idea.
So before you rush out to book the nearest Inn complete with stables and animals for your birth, notice that these 5 Top Tips for birth can be transferred to any birth scenario. Meaning that you can boss your birth like Mary, in all birth settings minus the straw and hay in your manger.
Want to know more about how you can help get the birth you want? Read a real life birth story and how she stacked the odds in her favour- Gayles Birth Story here.
My husband and I did a one day hypnobirthing course in August and I just wanted to thank Beth and TBTBC for making such a difference to our birth experience. It was more wondeeful than I could have hoped for and I am sure that all the advice, positive stories and hypnobirthing tools made it possible. I’ve written my birth story below if you wanted to share it…
My first birth was not a great experience, my son was induced after my waters broke and nothing happened for 48 hours. I ended up having an epidural and a stressful delivery which resulted in a third degree tear. Even after leaving hospital the early days with my baby were equally stressful as my milk did not come in for several days and my son was unsettled and losing weight. We were ok after a few weeks but I always wonder about the impact of stress during the birth on my son’s start in life.For this, my second baby, I was offered a planned C-section due to the risk of severe tearing a second time around. I felt confident using BRAIN and saying no to the consultant, wanting to avoid a medicalised birth and give my body a chance to do what it was built for. My due date came and went without any signs of labour and my midwife offered a stretch and sweep, which I declined at my 41 week appointment to allow a few extra days for nature to take its course. She booked me in for an induction at 41+5 days, which would mean I could still go to the birth unit rather than the hospital for the birth.
With nothing happening, I decided to go for the sweep at 41+2 days to try to move things along before the planned induction. I started to feel mild cramps the next day and after two days (the day before the planned induction), they became stronger and more regular. I relaxed at home listening to my favourite music, eating chocolate and pottering around, playing with my son, breathing through the surges, which felt like stronger period cramps. I put on my TENS machine which was a very effective distraction and made me feel in control of the surges. By late afternoon they were coming around every three minutes so I called the birth unit who advised to wait until the surges were strong enough that I couldn’t talk through them.
An hour later we made our way to the birth unit and were taken to a lovely room with a birthing pool, leather sofa, bathroom and soft lighting. I declined an immediate internal examination and said I wanted to settle in first. The lovely midwife was fully supportive and listened in to our baby on the Doppler instead, commenting on how nice and relaxed I was (and probably thinking I had a while to go…) The baby was very active and the midwife suggested we went for monitoring in the triage unit to make sure everything was ok. We agreed and I focused on my music and TENS machine to help me breathe through the surges while attached to the monitor. Thankfully everything was fine. My husband stepped in to make sure we were released to go back to the birth unit as quickly as possible as I could feel things were progressing and I wanted to get back to our comfortable space and get refocused. Not long after getting back in the birth unit room the next few surges were coming thick and fast and I asked my husband to fetch someone. He then gently massaged my shoulders and mopped my brow which helped make the strong surges more comfortable.
I could sense my body was ready to push and sure enough, when the midwife returned to examine me, my waters had broken, I was fully dilated and making primal noises through the surges! After breathing through a few more surges with gas and air to help I could feel my body start to push and the down breathing that I had been practising on the toilet for the last few months came into play! I really did feel as if I was doing a giant poo! The midwife helped me into an all fours position on the bed and after a few more surges I could feel the baby’s head emerging. The next surge, the head came out fully and then I felt the rest of the body slip out with a massive sense of relief and joy. I actually shouted “Amazing!” as it happened. The midwife said “Look down!” and there was our baby girl.
I lay back on the bed and had skin to skin and a first feed with her while my husband cut the cord, and I then delivered the placenta with a few more pushes. I needed a few stitches but minor damage compared to my first birth. The brilliant midwives then prepared a bath for me and tea and toast, and my husband and i had a wonderful peaceful few hours with our new arrival while awaiting the all clear to go home. Having arrived at the unit at 6pm, baby Daphne was born at 9.10pm, and we were back at home by 6am the next morning to introduce her to her big brother and grandma and grandad.The whole experience made me feel like a superhero, so amazed by what my body was capable of. Most importantly Daphne’s first moments were peaceful and calm, and she is a healthy and relaxed baby.
It really was as simple as breathing, relaxing and letting my body do its thing with the help and support of my husband and some brilliant midwives. And of course the knowledge, tools and positive mindset provided by TBTBC that prepared me for this magical experience Thank you TBTBC!
Gayle and Luis,Mum and dad to baby Daphne, born 27th October 2019
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 in Gloucestershire, 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.
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 just relying 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 maternity ward in Glos. 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. 92% of first time mothers in Gloucestershire 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.
For other ways you can start preparing for your birth remember we now have an online antenatal and hypnobirthing course as well as our local group courses. For more info about the online course, click here. Use code Friday50 for 50% off.
My waters broke at 3.50am and we went to triage at 5.45am after my parents arrived to look after my 4 year old son. Mild contractions started while we were there. We went home with rough plans for either an induction or caesarean the following morning if things didn’t progress due to waters having broken and associated risk of infection. As a VBAC mum I wanted to keep my options open.
Once home I used my Hypnobirthing techniques to help bring the contractions on fully. Things that really helped:
– watching my favourite film eating doughnuts and chocolate
– having a bath with dimmed lights listening to Hypnobirthing script
– using TENs machine once out the bath listening to my favourite songs
– using the contraction timer from Freya
By 12pm I was finding the contractions intense and they were 3 in 10 minutes. As a VBAC mum I wanted to go to hospital so they could monitor me more closely.
In the car my contractions ramped up and I started to panic when we hit traffic so I used my breathing techniques and put the radio on (kisstory!) to keep myself in the zone
I contracted four times from the car to triage and just blocked out all the things around me. I never imagined I could stay focussed in the middle of GRH car park! We randomly bumped into my community midwife on the way in which was great to see a familiar face!
When I got to triage they hooked me to a monitor but didn’t offer any pain relief or gas and air so I kept with my TENS machine and breathing.
At this point things went a bit off plan, the monitor showed baby’s heart rate was dipping when I was contracting so I was admitted to the labour ward to be examined. I was allowed to use the jasmine room which is a special room with mood lighting and birthing pool a bit like the rooms in the birthing unit.
I was 3cm dilated but cervix was stretchy. I went on the gas and air and wireless monitoring whilst my husband set up the room with aromatherapy, photos and tea lights. The contractions were coming very close together and were very intense. The midwife and doctor were concerned about baby’s heart rate and the doctor examined me to find I was now 6cms dilated just an hour after the last examination. Labour was progressing quickly but baby’s heart rate was really worrying me and I found I couldn’t focus on my breathing as well. Then baby turned back to back and I had the overwhelming urge to push but knew I couldn’t. This is when this labour started to feel like my first labour. My first baby ended up being born by emergency c section and had a short spell in special care with no skin to skin for over 24 hours and my ultimate outcome I wanted this time was to avoid this baby being separated from me.
At this point my baby’s heart rate was recovering well from the contractions so I knew she was ok. My instinct was to ask for a c section. The dr explained there was no medical reason for this but they wanted to take a blood sample from baby to see how she was coping. They explained the results would take an hour. I agreed to the test but shortly afterwards decided an hour is a long time if baby is in distress so I finalised my decision to have a c section. Instead of feeling a failure as I’d expected if my VBAC failed I actually felt really empowered and that I was following my instincts for the best outcome for my baby.
Preparations were made and my midwife, Beth, was fantastic at keeping me calm and had obviously read my birth plan as she informed the theatre staff what we wanted. My playlist was put on and I heard all the staff singing along to sex on fire and mr brightside! They were all so happy and relaxed. Everyone introduced themselves and said encouraging things to me. My tealights were put out and after the spinal was put in and I was lying down the anaesthetist asked me and my husband about our son and a recent holiday. I kept watching the tealights, thought back to the holiday and my breathing and trembling (from the adrenaline) calmed down. Not long after that my beautiful daughter was born. She had delayed cord clamping, was weighed in front of me and had skin to skin for an hour while they completed the operation.
Olivia had no health problems and she stayed with me in recovery (and every minute since😂)
The doctor visited me in recovery and explained the blood test for Olivia had showed she was in distress so they would have recommended a c section had I waited for the results. There was also something about my placenta which was unknown during pregnancy which could have resulted in a serious bleed and risks for me and Olivia as labour progressed. He was pleased I’d followed my instincts and it was absolutely the right birth for me and Olivia.
Without Hypnobirthing classes I wouldn’t have had the confidence or knowledge to decide on a c section and the techniques/toolkit helped in so many ways on the day I can’t recommend it highly enough!
If, like Emma, you want a toolkit of techniques to help you in all birth scenarios then…
This has got to be one of the biggest highs in life EVER!! Who else can remember those moments after their baby was born? You see this little being that you’ve made and grown for the first time.. you smell her little head, watch her screwed up little face trying to look beyond the swollen nose and eyebrows to work out if your baby looks like Mum or Dad.
The couple of hours after Delphi was born was amazing. We were left in the room in skin to skin, with dim lights just to get to know this brand new baby girl. It was a magical time all round as Rob got his hands on a coffee for the first time that night (it was about 5am!). The midwife threw in some toast too so it was pretty much perfect.
I’m under no illusion that it’s always this magical and always this early. After long births or ones that have had intervention, it can be really overwhelming and tiredness can become all consuming. But there will be a time, maybe a couple of hours later or a couple of days, if baby is in SCBU or if you’re feeling shattered where you can enjoy this time.
I did hypnobirthing with one couple who focussed more on this time than the birth itself. She thought to herself that no matter how Birth happened she wanted to do everything in her power to ensure that she got her “Baby Bubble”. She delayed weighing, wanted dim lights and uninterrupted skin to skin. It’s these moments that you could argue means so much more than the birth itself.
This Golden Hour has so many benefits such as helping with bonding, breastfeeding, helping your baby adapt to life in the big wide world. The rush of love can happen now or it can happen in the next few days, never beat yourself up if this doesn’t happen straight away as birth can be overwhelming.
Any pregnant Mums thought about this time and how you’d like it to be?
What was your first couple of hours like with your baby? Join the conversation here.
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 🌟
Some days the let down reflux doesn’t play the game... and some days you just get a whole lot more than you asked for 😆 💦 👶🏼
It was 7am this morning, after a night shift. I usually feed Delphi overnight so my boobs were, needless to say, FULL. I had nothing more to do during my shift, no more “tasks” no more writing in the notes, everyone was happy and the night had gone well. I was chatting to this new Mum and her 1 day old baby started to cry, watching his little fingers move around and root around like a little bird looking to feed was just too cute 🥰 My head went immediately back to my little baby as I thought how this was her just a year ago looking so tiny in the clear hospital crib.
Meanwhile... low and behold... my right boob was also thinking the same as the let down reflex kicked in and I popped my hand up to feel, you guesssed it, a leaky boob. I folded my arms to cover it, said my goodbyes and went to the toilet to shove some tissue down my bra like my Year 7 ‘desperate to grow a pair’ self. 🍉
So the let down reflex ...
Def: When your boobs decide to release your milk.
🍉 Happens when oxytocin is high- think skin to skin, smelling your baby’s head, when your baby lets out a cry, when you see your baby rooting around for a feed.
🍉 It’s back to the old oxytocin vs adrenaline play off again, so if you’re feeling stressed or busy, your let down reflex can be slow or inhibited. For example, if your baby has been crying for a while and/or if your baby is struggling to latch on and you’re feeling the pressure. This can reduce your milk coming.
In my case, my boobs didn’t leak all night because I was busy. The minute I stopped, felt chilled and thought of my baby ... 🥛 💦
What you can take from this...
🥛 If you’re feeling stressed when feeding your baby then take 5 ⏰. It will be easier for everyone if you pass baby to Dad, go and make a brew then come back and start again.
💦 Anything that increases your oxytocin is good for milk supply. In the early hours/days with your baby it is soooo important that you have plenty of skin to skin with your baby. In the first 24 hours especially, it is more beneficial that your baby has done lots of skin to skin and you’ve been with your baby than how much colostrum your baby has actually had. Plenty of skin to skin in the early days will be great for your milk supply in the up and coming days.
🥛 Breast pads are a must. You may find that when you’re out and about with your baby in the weeks/months after baby then sometimes even the sound of someone else’s baby crying can start your let down reflex.
Anyone got any experiences to share about the let down reflex?
Breastfeeding as well as formula, bottle and combi feeding is something that we always cover at antenatal with our lactation expert and midwife, Sue.