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The Birthing Room seeks to empower parents through evidence-based education about pregnancy, childbirth and parenting.

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Your Labour Sounds -Are they helping or hindering?

Photo credit: Bloom Birth Photography

Photo credit: Bloom Birth Photography

Watch any film or TV show that features a birth and you are almost guaranteed a scene in which the birthing Mama is screaming at the top of her lungs... 

Unfortunately these scenes often feed into the perception that birth is scary; a terrifying medical event that is to be feared. In reality, birth is a life event that is wonderfully exciting! The sounds you choose to make in labour will often be a reflection of whether you perceive birth as something to be feared or something to embrace. And those sounds will either help or hinder the progress of your labour! Different sounds use different parts of your lungs, and tell your brain different messages. The bottom line is that in order for your body to release this beautiful baby, it needs to feel safe. So let's have a closer look at your options:

Literally 'screaming at the top of your lungs' 

  • High pitched sounds
  • Uses upper chest, shallow breathing
  • Activates your fight/flight system
  • Slows the progress of labour
  • Wastes energy

Uninhibited labour sounds

  • Low pitched, deep, 'moo' like sounds
  • Uses diaphragmatic breathing
  • Activates your calm and connection system
  • Speeds up the progress of labour
  • Conserves energy

The good news is that you have a choice. Even if you don't go into birth feeling fearless, choose to tell your brain otherwise! Activate your calm and connection system through long, deep, calming noises. Share this information with your partner or birth support so that they can help remind you if find you loose your way a little during labour. Practice low noises and diaphragmatic breathing before your baby's birth-day so you feel more comfortable using these skills on the day. And most importantly TRUST yourself. Deep, low sounds are the noises that most birthing mothers will make if they feel private, safe and unobserved during labour. So if you feel those sounds coming, dive deeper and trust your body knows exactly how to birth your baby. 

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Winner winner, chocolate brownie dinner!

choc brownie

Ever on the hunt for more good food, I took out Lauren Parsons' book "Real food, less fuss" from the public library this week. In doing so I discovered not only a great informational book on nutritious eating, but the best, healthiest chocolate brownie recipe ever! No kidding, this actually tastes like chocolate brownie, and yet it is packed with good nutrients. For once, this recipe actually made more than our family needed (meaning I could put a whole lot in the freezer for another night's dessert), and it was pretty cheap to make compared to many other healthy dessert recipes. It's also vegan friendly and could easily be converted to gluten free. This recipe would be an ideal one to make during pregnancy and then freeze in individual portions for you and your family to enjoy in the newborn phase. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Ingredients

1/3 cup of cacao or cocoa powder

1 cup wholemeal flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

90g dark chocolate, chopped

60g raw walnuts (we did half walnuts, half Brazil nuts)

1 cup stewed apple*

3/4 cup date puree*

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees C (340F) and line a square baking dish.
  2. Combine the first four dry ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Chop the chocolate and nuts and mix in all the remaining ingredients until just combined. Avoid over-mixing.
  4. Transfer to the baking dish and press down flat. Cook for 25-30mins until set in the centre. Allow to cool for 10mins before cutting with a sharp knife. 

Serves 12, prep time 10mins, cook time 30mins

*Stewed apple

Remove cores of 3-4 apples, leaving skin on. Chop, place in pot with 1/2 cup of hot water. Bring to a gentle simmer with the lid on. Cook stirring occasionally for 15mins until soft, then blend with a stick blender.

*Date puree

Place 2 cups of dates and 1 cup of boiling water in a food processor with an S blade. Leave to soak for 5mins, then blend until smooth. 

New Zealand’s paid parental leave increases to 26 weeks -What’s still missing?

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Paid parental leave in New Zealand is set to increase to 26 weeks by 2020. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced yesterday that the increase will be incremental, changing first to 22 weeks as of July 1st 2018. The increase in paid parental leave from NZ's current 18 weeks is great news for kiwi families, allowing more time for exclusive breastfeeding and bonding. 

Whilst an increase is very beneficial, it is our hope that government will look at also take a broader look at what other financial impacts expectant parents have. Currently a pregnant woman is able to take 10 days of 'special leave' from her work during her pregnancy, to attend antenatal appointments, education etc. This leave is unpaid, and I believe is not available for her partner. Her partner however can apply for 1 or 2 weeks leave around the time of the birth (called 'partner's leave'), but again, this is unpaid. 

It is The Birthing Room's hope that in the future, not only are parent's wages continued whilst they are on parental leave, but that expectant mothers and fathers are also given paid leave to attend antenatal education and midwife appointments together, as well as paid time off for fathers around the time their baby arrives. Surely this would have a significant benefit to families. 

I Need a Caesarean… Is my baby’s microbiome doomed?

Photo credit: Bloom Birth Photography

Photo credit: Bloom Birth Photography

Photo credit: Bloom Birth Photography

Photo credit: Bloom Birth Photography

 

One of the most hot topics in birth research right now is the human microbiome. Those thousands of tiny bacteria that make you... well, you! In fact, your human self has more bacteria than human cells. An infant's microbiome has the very important job of training his or her immune system what is friend, and what is foe. It is your baby's first line of defense against disease. Set it up right at birth, and it helps protect your baby for his or her whole life. Setting it up wrong can have very serious life-long implications. Research has shown that 'setting it up right' is comprised of three main events: Vaginal birth, skin to skin after birth, and breastfeeding for a long duration. So what on earth do you do if you know you need a caesarean? Is your infant doomed for life?

Never fear, there is hope! The following ideas can go a long way to improving your baby's microbiome.

  1. Ensure Mum's microbiome is healthy during her pregnancy and breastfeeding duration. A healthy diet, exercise, decreasing stress, getting out in nature, and avoiding antibiotics and antibacterial products can all boost numbers of the good guys.
  2. Hold off the caesarean section until labour has begun, and preferably waters have broken. Baby then will be able to have some 'seeding' from the vaginal bacteria as he or she would have had in a vaginal birth.
  3. Ask for a 'gentle caesarean' to be done. More can be found about this option on the internet.
  4. Mum has skin to skin in theatre with baby as soon as possible. If Mum cannot, then Dad.
  5. Ask for heaps of breastfeeding support. Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, and then (as well as feeding baby food) breastfeeding  for as long as possible (e.g. over 2yrs) will go a long way to setting up a health infant microbiome.
  6. Look into the newest research, and talk to your midwife about it. There are suggestions that artificially seeding baby's microbiome with a coated gauze swab at birth, and giving infants evidence-based probiotics can help. Probiotics contain lactobacilli (the same good bacteria that lives in the vagina), so giving them to baby may help boost their lactobacilli population. However I wouldn't recommend doing these options without the partnership of your health professional.

If you'd like to find out more about the importance of a healthy infant microbiome, check out Microbirth Online

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