May 25

More and more women are entering into their birth journey with a posterior positioned baby. Now you may be asking what this is.  When you go to your health professional to have a check up towards the end of your pregnancy, you are measured, your baby’s heart rate is recorded and the position of your baby will be determined.  A position known as posterior is sometimes found.

 

The most common position is for your baby to be head down and slightly turned on its side so you can feel the smoothness of the back on the right of left side and curled up arms and legs on the opposite side.  With a posterior position your baby’s back is in line with your back and the arms and legs are moving freely across your tummy.

So why do posterior baby’s pose problems?  Your baby’s head will enter the pelvis with a deflexed head, or slightly tilting back, this will cause the widest part of your baby’s head to negotiate the birth canal.  With a head that is nicely tucked in, with chin to chest, this will create a smaller diameter and an easier birth

Generally, posterior babies will cause backache during your pregnancy and severe back pain during labour.  So how do you prevent a posterior baby?  Your baby will rotate into the posterior position if you are constantly lying on your back or reclining for long periods of time every day.  Your baby’s back is heavy and the spine will fall towards your spine if you are reclining or lying down for too long.

There are simple things you can do to remedy this.  Try to adopt positions where your belly is hanging forwards, this will encourage your baby’s spine to swing forwards and rest in a great position, with your baby’s chin tucked in.  Below is a list of positions that you can practice each day.

 

  • Sitting forward on a chair with your legs apart and your belly hanging between your legs
  • Sit on a chair the wrong way, turn a dining chair around and straddle it, resting your arms on the back of the chair
  • Crawl around on your hands and knees.  Play with your other children or maybe spot mop the floor!  You don’t need to do this for very long
  • Sit on your knees and place a bean bag in front of you, lean over the bean bag and your tummy will hang forward cushioned by the beans

 

All these positions can be incorporated into your daily life.  Just being aware of this will help your baby get into the best possible position for your birth.  If you do any of these positions and it is uncomfortable or painful, please stop and seek advice from your health care professional.

You may still have a baby that is posterior despite your efforts; this is normal and is because this is the way your baby is most comfortable lying.  You can still birth your baby and 8 out of 10 times your baby will turn during labour, or you may birth your baby in this position, it is not a condition that will cause too many problems.  The main concerns are increased back ache in labour and maybe an extended first stage of labour.  If you find that you are in labour with your baby in the posterior position you can help your baby to turn by doing big marching steps.  Bring your knees up high and march on the spot, this will change the dimensions of your pelvis and give your baby more room to rotate.  You can also walk up and down stairs to do the same thing.  Another way is to put one foot on a stool and one on the floor and this will also change the dimensions of your pelvis and allow your baby to negotiate the birth canal with ease.

I hope this has helped all of the wonderful pregnant women out there, just remember to keep crawling on your knees and visualise your baby entering the world in the easy anterior position.  Good luck and happy birthing.

 

May 18



There must be so many pregnant women out there, as my blog is running hot and my inbox is clogged with questions!  So, I thought I would compile a list of the 3 most asked questions about pregnancy and birth from my blog and the women I teach.  Firstly, my background, I am mother to two beautiful boys 7yrs and 21months (still breastfeeding!), a Midwife of 9 years and a Lactation Consultant.  I work in a birthing unit, teach antenatal classes and run a lactation clinic at a pharmacy.


Question 1

How much pain will I be in during labour?

This is such a common question and most women will often ask their friends for the answer.  My standard reply to this question is how about learning some methods to cope with the pain, so whatever your labour feels like you are able to deal with it.  This takes the focus off the pain, which is something you cannot know, to something you can do.  You take the control back. 

It is very difficult to describe what type of pain you will feel, hence, the answer above.  Some people suggest putting a peg on your ear lobe and leave it there for a minute or pinch your ear lobe and gradually get firmer and firmer for a minute.  But really it is a question that has a different answer for everyone.  So learning more about relaxation and coping strategies is the key.  Strategies such as hypnobirthing, yoga and Lamaze will help you turn the pain into a positive.  Just really commit to learning and practicing the technique that suits you and allow it to become instinctual, this is how you will successfully cope with the pain of contractions.  To learn more about the many different relaxation techniques click here. 

Question 2

Is sex safe during pregnancy?

I have so many women ask this question and the answer is yes.  Sex is a great way to relax and bond with your partner; you may even feel really great about your growing body and want to have sex all the time!  If you have a low lying placenta (where you placenta grows close to or over the opening of your womb, cervix) then sex may be contraindicated as bleeding may occur.  Please check with your health care professional.   

Bleeding can occur following intercourse, usually during the later stages of pregnancy, most times there is nothing wrong, however, do check with your doctor or midwife.  If you are overdue sex can send you into labour, this is because semen contains prostaglandins which will soften your cervix and may trigger labour. 

Question 3

Do I need to prepare my breasts for breastfeeding?

This is a common question and the answer has changed over the years.  Women used to be told to toughen up their nipples with towels and other abrasive products.  This is not advised anymore, no preparation is needed, your breasts were made for breastfeeding and changes are taking place throughout your whole pregnancy. 

You may experience leaking of yellowish, thick fluid; this is normal and can happen quite early in the pregnancy.  Leaking or not leaking is not an indication of your ability to produce breast milk.

Women have different shapes and sizes of breasts, small or large breasts are both capable of producing enough milk for your baby.  Your nipples can be any shape and may even look pulled in – this is nothing to worry about now as your baby will pull them out whilst sucking.  True inverted nipples can be managed with some help from a lactation consultant when your baby is born.   

One thing you can do before your birth is to look at your breasts, feel them and get to know them.  Breasts are amazing and will give your baby protection, satisfaction and the best start in life.  If you want to learn more about breastfeeding a fantastic book has been written called 5 Seriously Simple Strategies to Survive Your First Week of Parenting and Beyond written by Jenny Jones.  Jenny is a registered nurse of 40 years, a certified midwife of 36 years, a Lactation Consultant and an Early Childhood Nurse of 12 years.  Jenny has witnessed first hand the anxiety parents feel in the first week of birth…and gently guides you with her compassionate and nurturing advice.  This book will give you the confidence and arm you with the best questions to ask when learning how to breastfeed.  It is a free book when you download my natural childbirth education package, click here to find out how you can transform your birth and breastfeeding experience to one of joy and confidence.

If you have a particular question that you would like answered, please contact me through my blog and I will be more than happy to answer any type of question you have.  Enjoy your birth preparation and make relaxation part of your routine.

 

May 10

Hello to all the wonderful pregnant women who are nearly at their due date or over!  I know how you feel, I went 6 days over with my first child and it felt like 6 years!  I am wondering why we are constantly told a due date, I mean really, only 1% of babies come on their due date.  Babies are mature enough to be born from 37weeks and can go safely to 42weeks.  This is a gap of 5 weeks and we focus on ONE due date……insane!

Now for those of you who are over 41weeks and are facing medical induction head on, then I thought I would write to you about Natural Induction.  There are many methods that have been used over the years, none have been guaranteed to work 100%, it is just your own preference.  Before you start any Natural Induction method, please seek advice from your medical carer especially if you have any form of pre-existing medical condition. 

There are great ways you can try at home and then there are those methods that practitioners can help you with.  I will list the latter first, however, it is very important to ensure that the person treating you is qualified, and is knowledgable in pregnancy and birth. If they do not have appropriate training or knowledge of pregnancy and birth, this may be unsafe as extra care must be taken when pregnant and in labour.  Please find a practitioner that you feel comfortable with.

  • Accupressure – Use of pressure points to stimulate labour.  Debra Betts has put together a fantastic document on acupressure for pregnancy, labour and post birth. 
  • Accupuncture
  • Homeopathy
  • Sweeping of Membranes – strip and stretch, separates membranes from cervix
  • Massage – Bowen Therapy

There are some fun ways you can try and Naturally Induce labour, the first one is sex.  Sex can firstly relax you and give your body time to forget about labour, which may in turn put you into labour.  Also semen carries prostaglandin which can soften and ripen the cervix ready for labour.  Recently a study has found that intercourse made little difference to inducing labour and no cervical changes were evident. This may have been the case in the study, but who can be relaxed when part of a study and be examined after sex!

However, sex can be a great way to relax, and contrary to the study, many mothers have found that they have gone into labour after having sex, especially during early labour. Even Ina May Gaskin, a long time natural and homebirthing advocate doesn’t think too much of this study as she has seen otherwise.

Another great part of sex is when a woman experiences orgasm, she produces oxytocin – the labour hormone. So while having intercourse seems to not be of much help, it can still play a role in the bigger scheme of things!

Another Natural Induction method is nipple stimulation.  Nipple stimulation will release oxytocin in your blood and hopefully induce labour.  You can use your hand and fingers to do this or a breast pump.  Do this for about 20mins, have a rest and repeat if you are up to it!

Raspberry leaf is another natural induction method that acts as a uterine tonic and can stimulate labour.  It also has an added benefit after birth for breastmilk production.  It’s generally recommended anytime after 12 weeks in a healthy pregnancy – make sure you check with your medical carer and a naturopath for doses and to see if it’s appropriate for you.

Now that you are armed with all these natural induction methods you may want to know what to do if you are in early labour to keep things moving.  Below is a list for you to follow if you are in early labour.

  • Rest at night if your contractions will allow
  • Walk around to stimulate your contractions
  • Climb stairs – this will help your body work with gravity and get your baby into a great position
  • Have a shower to ease the pain, try to avoid swimming and baths as it will counteract gravity
  • Keep upright – work with gravity, lean into contractions as your uterus leans forwards during contractions, bend your knees and bend to about 45 degrees
  • Keep busy to take your mind off labour
  • Keep well hydrated, your body is working as hard as if it were running a marathon.
  • Relax

I hope these natural induction suggestions help you on your journey towards birth.  Remember to relax and have faith in your body and your baby.  Enjoy the lead up to your birth and your birth journey.

 

May 4

I have written many posts on natural birth planning as I believe it is the key to a successful birth experience. Having your mind and body on the same positive page will give you an amazing birth experience. Today, however, I wanted to talk about breastfeeding, I want you to try and think beyond the birth for a short time and take in some great breastfeeding hints and tips.

The women I teach have many questions on birth, but when it comes to breastfeeding they are really not as interested, this is just because the birth is first and foremost in their minds. I can totally understand, it is hard to get past the birth, it is all consuming.

To help you have an amazing first breastfeeding experience I have put a list together for you to educate yourself about what physically happens to your body and your baby’s during the first hour after birth. I concentrate on the first hour because it is the most significant feed of them all. See below to find out why.

  • Your baby’s whole body will change from receiving oxygen from the umbilical cord to using their lungs to breathe air
  • Birth your placenta – usually15-30mins and can be up to an hour
  • Oxytocin levels at their highest to encourages milk let-down
  • Strongest suck in baby at this time so the first feed will imprint on your baby’s brain and will have subsequent successful breastfeeds

Knowing what physically happens in the first hour after birth will help you really plan and prepare yourself for this event. It is an amazing time that you can look forward to, not worry about. Just remember not to worry about feeling awkward when you first feed, you are not an expert at this stage and you are bound to feel a little uncomfortable.

If you are birthing your baby in the hospital, birthing center or at home there are some simple, yet powerful ways to maximise yours and you baby’s experience. I have compiled a list of things to educate you on the workings of your baby and what you can do to encourage your baby’s natural instincts. This will in turn give your baby the right environment to feed successfully.

  1. Initiate skin-to-skin contact
  2. Early feeding cues – eg fist to mouth, tongue protruding in and out, massaging your breasts with their tiny, beautiful hands and turning and mouthing towards your breast and nipple area. Recognise these early feeding cues as your baby will feed better at this stage. Crying is a late feeding cue and will create a more stressful environment when feeding
  3. Try and keep handling of your baby to a minimum until the first feed is completed (partners allowed)
  4. Leave weighing and measuring until after your baby’s first feed
  5. Turn your baby towards you so their chest is facing yours gently guide your baby towards your breast by placing your hand between the shoulder blades allowing the head to tilt back so the chin comes in first to the breast

To really get the most out of skin-to-skin contact it would be beneficial to talk to your birth attendant and plan for this. You can take off your clothes when birth is imminent and ask your birth attendant to either place your baby gently on your chest or you or your partner could actually help with the birthing process and be the first to touch your baby and bring him/her to your chest in your own arms. This is an amazing feeling, you may not want this but then again it might give you something to think about!

If you are planning for a cesarean section then ski- to-skin contact can also be achieved. You can talk to your obstetrician and midwife about skin-to-skin contact and its importance. If this is something you really want then you must be persistent with your wishes and remind all staff during your cesarean section. Although there may be circumstances in which it is impossible for this to happen, most times babies arrive into the world with a big cry, and this beautiful noise will mean that your baby is breathing and ready to be placed on to the warmth and security of your chest.

I just wanted to talk briefly about your baby’s feeding habits in the first few days before your milk comes in. It is common for mothers to wonder if they have enough milk for their baby as they tend to cry often for a feed in the first few days. To give you a reason behind this will make it easier to manage. Newborns have a stomach the size of a marble in the first day, it then grows to the size of a larger marble and then to the size of a golf ball on the third day. If you think about this for a moment it does not take much to fill a baby’s stomach and even less time for them to empty it, therefore they are ready for another feed in only a few short hours, ranging from 1-3 hours. Knowing this fact will give you the insight to follow your baby’s cues and allow him/her to feed often. It is not spoiling if you give in to your baby’s needs, in fact, having their needs met will actually create a happier contented child.

I have one last point before your get back on to your Natural Birth Planning, I know, I am almost finished! If your baby seems to be feeding constantly for over an hour and not settling at all then you need to ask for help. It usually means your baby is attaching to the nipple and not to the breast surrounding the nipple. This will leave you with sore, painful nipples and an unsettled baby it also could delay your milk coming in. Positioning and attachment are crucial at this time and having help at each feed will create a wonderful, successful breastfeeding relationship. Below is a diagram of great attachment, have a look at it and then put it to the back of your brain so you can draw on it when the birth is over.

                                                                  

Now, I know you want to get back to Natural Birth Planning. If you would like some fantastic up to date information on natural birthing then take a look at my book “7 secrets to Natural Childbirth”. You will find wonderful information that will change the way you look at birth. If you are having a cesarean section you can find some great ways to relax and really turn your birth into the experience you want.

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tip about breastfeeding just before your go…..I know I am pushing it!! I advise you to look at your breasts, feel them and get to know them. Marvel in the fantastic job that they will do – give your beautiful baby the gift of breast milk. It will line your baby’s stomach with the strongest defence system that can never be replicated by something man-made. This wonderful gift of human breast milk will keep your baby healthy for the rest of their life.