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!
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? 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
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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Isn't intuitive, natural birthing instinct so interesting? The Royal College of Midwives share in their article "Childbirth Myths Around the World" that "Among the Gadsup of Papua New Guinea, when a woman begins labour, she walks with her mother and aunts for an hour up through the forest to a birthing hut. They believe that the blood from childbirth is so powerful, it could cause illness and even death for the village men. Birth blood mustn’t come anywhere near the men or ‘get into plants or garden roots’ at any time."
I wonder how much this walk up through the forest would have helped baby descend? I'm sure it would have really helped labour kick off! It would have also given the labouring mother a chance to talk alone with her mother and aunts, and for them to encourage her in her task ahead. Interesting!
This could be your opportunity to help families have better mental health during pregnancy and parenting! The University of Canterbury is looking for women, aged 19+, who are having 1 baby, are <24wks pregnant, and are living in Canterbury to help them with their research. The study is looking at the link between micro-nutrients in pregnancy and improved mental health.
If you think you could help, or would like to find out more information contact: (03) 369 2386 or check out www.bit.ly/pregnancy-study
Let’s be brutally honest. There are two types of birth support people. Ones that help, and ones that hinder. Unfortunately it’s not always easy to know whether the person Mama’s chosen to be with her during labour and birth is a help or a hinderer until labour starts! Just in case Mama’s got a closest hinderer on her team, here are 3 things she can share with her birth team ahead of time that will greatly enhance her labour and birth experience.
One: A support person’s belief in the Mama is CRUCIAL
No matter whether Mama is planning on having her hubby, Mum, bestie or someone else with her during baby’s arrival, what they think in their head and their heart deeply matters. This is because labour has little to do with the physical process and everything to do with the emotional and spiritual. If a birth team secretly doubts Mama’s ability to birth her baby, it’s more than likely that she just won’t. Can you imagine running a long distance race thinking how well you are doing, only to find well meaning friends and family at every km saying “You look tired, why don’t you just walk for a while?” “You won’t get a medal for finishing” etc. Discouraging huh?!
Support people, make sure you communicate your belief in Mama in every word, every touch, every look. When labour intensifies it can be as simple as saying “I truly believe in your ability to birth this baby”, or looking into her eyes with a calm, trusting smile.
One of the roles of the birth team is to hold the space. So support people, make sure your phone is turned off and you are not constantly sending updates to people. If you feel something needs to be said, consider if it’s necessary, and with how few words you can say it. E.g. Instead of saying “Would you like a drink of water?” just hold up the cup and straw and say “Water?” Avoid the temptation to make small talk with the midwife, or chat amongst yourselves. There will be plenty of time to catch up after baby arrives. Quietness during labour helps to close off the analytical part of Mama’s brain, meaning her primal brain (the part of her that instinctively knows how to birth her baby) can be running at its full ability.
Three: Self Care
During labour a Mama’s sense of smell is heightened, much like during the first trimester nausea phase. A spray of smelly deodourant can feel overwhelming to a labouring Mama. She’ll be able to pick up anyone’s secret smoking habit. She’ll know if you had coffee 2hrs ago. So be thoughtful ahead of time. Whilst Mama will have a bag or a box packed full of her birth supplies, support people will need this too. At a bare minimum pack a toothbrush and toothpaste, water, and a change of top in case labour takes some time. I’d also encourage you to pack lots of healthy, energy giving snacks (to give you endurance), something to do e.g. a magazine (if Mama needs some alone time this will stop you looking like you are observing her), and to take a wee break every couple of hours during labour so you can keep giving Mama your best.
Being a kind and thoughtful birth support person helps Mama have a more positive birth experience!
Cooking something 3 ways. 3 choice cuts of expensive meat cooked in 3 elaborately delicious ways. On Masterchef. And only on Masterchef, because here in the real world most of us could rarely afford to buy enough expensive meat to cook 1 way, if we eat meat at all. Our family had a blast watching the Australian Masterchef series recently, although I must admit it left me deeply contemplating… Who gets feed all the wasted off cuts of food? Who has to do all the dishes? If money was no object, what would I cook for dinner?
As I’m sure most of you reading this can identify with the horror that grocery shopping brings (and no, not because you are shopping with small people). But the horror that comes with wandering around the supermarket isles having no idea how you are actually going to feed all of your family on so little money. So I thought I would share with you how to rock Masterchef’s cooking it 3 ways in the real world.
Cook as much food as you can ‘3 ways’. Over the last fortnight I have turned one frozen chicken into a roast, a chicken broth, and chicken sandwiches for lunches. One 250g packet of bacon has been stuffed baked potatoes, a broccoli salad, and bacon and egg pita breads for lunches. One 5kg bag of spuds has been turned into numerous things. And the whole cabbage I bought has been made into at least 5 dinners, ranging from a side of coleslaw to steamed cabbage with the roast.
Buy dried lentils. These little things are seriously awesome. High in iron, a great source of protein, and cheap as. You can hide them in everything from a slow cooked stew to spag bol. Just be sure to read the cooking time on the packet as some cook very quickly, and others take a while.
Teach your kids to scavenge. I know it sounds bad, but it really is good! Recently my son proudly brought me a whole bag of newspaper he had scavenged from a recycle bin to save me buying a newspaper to light our fire with. Proud mother moment. We also go door knocking if we see pear’s falling off someone’s tree, pick friend’s lemon bushes, collect walnuts when we are walking etc.
Be extraordinarily generous. If you expect people to share with you, you should be sharing with others. It’s very hard to give to someone if they are tight fisted, so make sure you always have an open hand.
Grow your own. Veges that is. I laugh at the $5 bunch of spring onions in the supermarket knowing I can readily pick these out of my garden when I want them.