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?

Dollarphotoclub_23478252

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

Come and join us for an awesome night out!

home birth Canterbury

If you are interested in pregnancy, birth and newborns come and join us for an evening of inspiration and information! I'm really looking forward to being part of Kāhuarau, an event put on by Home Birth Canterbury as part of Home Birth Awareness Week 2017. I will be sharing about the role of a doula, what opportunities lie at the feet of future NZ doulas and how these could benefit future NZ parents. Whether you are a health professional, parent, or parent-to-be, planning to give birth at home or not, you'll definitely get heaps out of attending! Don't miss out on your ticket!

Birth Matters… for the rest of your baby’s life

microbirth

Did you know that the process during birth, what happens in the first hour after birth, and then how you feed your baby for their first years can set them up for disease prevention for the rest of their life? Birth appears to be set up as one giant 'inoculation'! So what happens to the infant who had human intervention during their arrival?

Microbirth School (founders of One World Birth, and the film Microbirth) have released a FREE webinar which explores the process of 'seeding' the microbiome at birth, and the implications of human intervention. Available until Tuesday, this is a must see for any pregnant family, or health professional working in the maternity sector.

To find out more check out microbirth

Premature Baby? Every second makes a difference

baby7

Premature baby? Don't immediately clamp & cut the cord at birth! "Preemies have left a whopping 50% of their blood behind in the placenta. A delay in clamping of just 45sec decreases the risk of complications, including life-threatening necrotising enterocolits." -Kate Evans, Bump: How to make, grow & birth a baby

Rest, rest, and rest some more…

Pregnancy Multitasking

Growing a whole human being is HARD WORK! So anytime you feel like a rest, and can, just do it!! Learning to disregard the 'list of things to do' and focus on taking care of you and your womb baby is great training for life with a newborn. 

From Birth Trauma to Empowered Birth

Bloom Birth Photography

Bloom Birth Photography

A mother from England

After two normal births which I had, nonetheless, suffered all the standard interventions of conventional obstetrics, I was determined that my third delivery would be different. If all went well, I was prepared to find a midwife and insist on a home birth. But an ultrasound scan confirmed that the baby was breech at thirty-four weeks, and no one was confident that it would turn. The doctor at the local hospital suggested that a date be decided upon for me to be induced and said that an epidural and forceps would be used. If that didn’t work, I understood that cesareans were quite common for breech babies.

The old depression returned. I had desperately wanted this baby’s birth to be natural, and there was no choice of hospital other than the same one that had all the associations of the last confinement, when I had felt that the baby had been taken from me. On that occasion, as I was stitched, asked the doctor, “Why are we less efficient in childbirth than animals?” I already felt that the birth had been ruined for me, and I was troubled by the amount of “routine” intervention in what I had considered to be a normal physiological event. His response was “It’s an entirely different matter for animals.” He implied that women are not efficient in childbirth. I had seen this doctor at prenatal visits and he seemed to have understood my wishes for the birth. Despite this, he had managed my labor for his own convenience, and my nervous system felt shattered for months afterward. I had postpartum depression that I knew was not simply hormonal in origin. I felt cheated almost to the point of grieving. Yet now my hopes for a better experience seemed doomed. This was to be, to my mind, another “factory” baby.

I had heard about Pithiviers; I knew that women traveled there from other countries. However, I could hardly envisage it as a real possibility for me –I was by now thirty-seven weeks pregnant. Still, I rang Dr. Odent a few days later, when I had decided that I would regret it forever if I did not gather my strength and make an effort to go to Pithiviers. I asked if I could come. He said, “Why not?’ When I said that the baby was breech, he replied, “It makes no difference.” I immediately felt confident and energetic about the proposed journey.

My husband and I knew very well that time would be short if an emergency arose. Set against this risk was the inevitable recurrence of my depression; before we made the decision to go to Pithiviers, it had already started again. I knew that I could not relive the depression that I experienced after my last confinement and expect to function as a wife and mother to three young children. At my last prenatal check in England, I was nearly in despair as the nurse explained, with the aid of a doll, how breech babies are delivered. I heard myself protesting as never before in my three pregnancies. I said to my doctor, “If you send me to that hospital again, that will finish me.” The nurse made me feel ashamed, exclaiming, “If that baby could hear you talking!” I suddenly realized that I really had rejected “the system” for the first time in my life. I no longer cared who thought I was making a fuss. I had previously been so polite and helpful to all the medical personnel, and it had got me nowhere –even my own children had been born for me, and this was probably my last chance to take what life has to offer. I just had to take responsibility for myself for a change, and Pithiviers offered an alternative that attracted me. Even its distance from home appealed to me. I felt a certain animal longing to get away from it all, to have privacy from the people I knew and to find a special place to give birth. I had to get to Pithiviers before labor began. This baby was going to be mine and safely mine. I said to my doctor, “Things are changing, though, aren’t they?” “Yes” he replied, “but that is in a foreign country.” My husband informed him later that that was exactly where we were going.

Ironically this story occurred over 30 years ago, but could easily be a story from today. Printed in Dr. Michel Odent's book 'Birth Reborn: What childbirth should be', it really demonstrates how far obstetrics has failed to evolve in the last few decades. It also reinforces the fact that an empowered birth doesn't depend on whether or not a birth occurred "naturally". In fact, we do never hear the ending of this story in the book. Maybe this family did end up having a natural breech birth at Pithiviers Hospital. Maybe the baby turned in the last week of pregnancy and was born LOA. Or maybe the mother ended up with a caesarean after all. But none of these factors would determine whether or not they had an empowered birth. 

An empowered birth matters not so much on the physical process that occurs, but on the way a woman is made to feel during her labour and birth. Pithiviers gave this family the confidence to take responsibility for their birth and their baby. They were able to stand up for what they wanted. They felt they had choices. They were treated with respect. 

That is the basis for empowered birth. 

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