Nature's Mothers Blog

Childbirth, Parenting and Other Passions

10 ways to encourage labour June 13, 2010


Today is baby’s official due date!  I was expecting her to come a little early as Erin was born on her due date, and normally the second comes sooner, but apparently baby Beanie has not read the books!  I wouldn’t say I’m fed up of being pregnant, because I’m not that huge and not terribly uncomfortable, but I would like to meet my little girl soon!  I’ve been having mild contractions off and on over the past few days, but that must all be practice ones.  At least I know something is happening, my body is doing all the right things. Slightly more twinges than normal today…we shall see, I don’t want to get too excited! Babies generally come when they’re ripe and ready, although sometimes they don’t and need a little help!

There are a few tricks I can try to help things move on…

  1. Walking –  I went for a long walk on Friday, and yesterday did plenty of walking and exercise too.  This morning Erin and I took the goats out, went to check for alpaca babies in the far field, swept & vacuumed the house (well, a bit of it anyway), and watered the poly-tunnels. This was taken during our long walk on Friday.On a long walk!
  2. Sex – as mentioned in a previous post – this worked with Erin…my waters broke minutes after sex with her. (not worked so far this time!) Semen contains prostaglandin which causes contractions. Sex also causes the release of the “love drug” oxytocin, which causes contractions.
  3. Yoga – there are a few yoga postures that are good, specifically squatting and rotating your hips. This helps get baby’s head down there, and hopefully triggers things off…I’m squatting as I type!
  4. Driving on bumpy roads – I drove the tractor over bumpy lanes and fields yesterday to go collect some wood. Perhaps I should do that again this afternoon.
  5. Spicy food – or anything that gets your bowel moving, it’ll often get contractions going apparently. I’m not sure I want to try that one as I’m going to hopefully be giving birth in a pool, and am not sure I want to risk it…if you get my drift?! Castor oil is another one that is meant to be successful but can make you feel nauseas for your entire labour…no thanks…unless I’m desperate.
  6. Herbs – black or blue Cohosh.  I have neither, but may try to get my hands on some if I start going way overdue.  I’ve heard of things happening REALLY fast with these, but you have to be careful and should only use them under the direction of a herbalist, as they are powerful plants.
  7. Homeopathy – Caullophyllum: I’ve heard of women delivering REALLY fast after taking this and then it doing nothing for others.  I have it in my Homeopathic birthing kit…I shall save it for when I’m desperate!  You should really consult a Homeopath before using this…
  8. Reflexology – The reflexology points on your feet which relate to your uterus and ovaries are said to help trigger labour.  This is best done by a Reflexologist, but you only need to do a google search to find out where these points are. So it’s worth demanding a thorough foot rub from your other half if you go overdue, focusing on those points….click on chart to see bigger version.
  9. Essential oils – Clary Sage!  You can mix a few drops with a carrier oil (olive oil from the kitchen will do) and rub it on your belly, or burn it in an oil burner, or alternatively put it on a tissue on a radiator. Why not get your other half to massage you all over with it if you’re way overdue.  I only have to sniff it to get a contraction.  I did add a couple of drops to my stretch mark oil this morning and rubbed it all over my belly. I am probably being a bit too impatient.
  10. Relaxation, Hypnosis or guided imagery – these help many woman…I have yet to trial them myself, although I do relaxation and visualizations a bit when I do yoga.  I also have been talking to baby Beanie and hoping that she feels safe enough to come into this big, wide and completely different world.
 

6 more sleeps until Beanies due date! June 7, 2010


Well, it could be any day now! With new babies due date looming and nesting having kicked in fully, I am well prepared (and hoping) to go into labour soon!  There’s no real signs of it yet, except babies head  feels low and I have the odd Braxton Hicks contractions.  I see the midwife on Wednesday so shall see what she says.

I’m faithfully drinking my 4 cups of raspberry leaf tea every day, the occasional cup of chamomile for heartburn and to help me to chill out (although I’m feeling pretty chilled), nettle tea for the extra calcium, potassium and iron.  I’ve also started taking Arnica to help with bruising, aches, pains, exhaustion. I plan to carry on taking it until my “bits” are back to normal after the birth.  I’ve also started using my wonderful perineum massage oil, to hopefully avoid tears! It’s sweet almond oil mixed with rose petal oil, gentle and wonderful for the skin!  Still no stretch marks…I do believe I owe my thanks to both genes and my mum-to-be stretch mark oil.

Here’s a bump photo just taken…it’s a pretty big bump now. I’m going to miss it, but I’m longing to meet my new little lady now. I wonder if she’ll also be the splitting image of her daddy?!

I am feeling ever so slightly panicky that I may go overdue.  I didn’t with Erin, and I know I still would have 14 days before I may be encouraged to be induced, but still….it’s a slight concern. Apparently, your second child comes around the same time or before your first, so I’m believing that and hoping/expecting it to happen this week still!  Birth pool is in it’s box, having being trialled. It will only take about 10 minutes to blow up (if the pump doesn’t pack up!). Wood is stocked up for the rayburn to heat the water. Steven is off work. It’s raining (not sure if that’s a good thing or bad, but good weather for a cosy fire and good weather to lie in bed and marvel at a newborn!)  COME ON BABY BEANIE!

Steven and I have still not agreed on a name…we like several, but no decision has been made. I guess we shall see which one suits her most. Perhaps trial a few…one name a day for a few days…hahaha! If ‘she’ turns out to be a boy, we’re sorted…we have a boys name!

I’ve been doing yoga again for the last week or so (after not doing it for a month or more!), and am feeling really good. All signs of the sciatica I had a few weeks ago has disappeared…I do believe this is due to stretching my hamstrings a little. Just slowing down and thinking about my breathing has helped me to feel more confident too.

Steven and I have been going through the Active Birth book by Janet Balaskas again. It’s such a great book and has, once again, left us feeling so positive. I’m looking forward to letting movement and gravity help me, and I really do trust that my body knows how to birth naturally, and I’m so looking forward to doing it again!

 

Why would I go for a natural birth? April 30, 2010


With being 6 weeks away from giving birth to my second child, childbirth is definitely on my mind. I am constantly reminded that I have a little person growing inside me, by the bumping and thumping and somersaulting going on, and the little hands and feet, elbows and knees and bum, often protruding from my ever-growing belly.

Erin has developed a fascination with baby beanie now that she can actually see there is something moving in there. I wonder what she thinks really? It is rather alien even to me, second time around, and sometimes quite incomprehensible that there can be a real little person in there – someone who is half me and half Steven, but a complete individual at the same time. Pregnancy is such an amazing time. I do love it. I can feel my attention turning inward more and more everyday as the special day looms closer, and I can feel a connection with this little being who is alive and kicking, and cannot wait to meet her!

 

My “plan” for this birth, (although I know plans do not always work out, I have no reason to believe that this won’t), is to give birth in a birthing pool at our new home that our wonderful friends Andrew & Julie will be sharing with us as from next week, on the same farm where Erin was conceived. In a beautiful little private section of the lounge, where there are Buddhist shrines, a fireplace and a wonderful feeling of peace and tranquility.

 

The birthing pool is inflatable, big enough for Steven to get in with me (very important!) and looks like this. It has a little step to sit on, and handles to pull yourself forward during contractions, etc. Advantages of water in labour are many…interesting video here .

 

So, given all this, it goes without saying that I want a drug free birth and I want to be as active as possible during my birth, as I want gravity and nature to assist in the delivery of our new baby girl as much as possible. I enjoyed being in the water so much when in labour with Erin, and can’t imagine going without it. It was warm, comforting and felt safe.

So hold thumbs for us…

 

To answer a question many ask me: Why would I choose to have a natural birth if I could have drugs or a caesarean section and not feel a thing?

 

I cannot always find the right words to explain it, without making other people feel like I’m criticizing their choices (or often their doctors choices – whether legitimate or not, is another question altogether…), but my reasons are many and go something like this:

  • Pregnancy and Childbirth are not illnesses, they are completely natural and (in the majority of cases) if not tampered with and if we can let go of the horror stories we hear which just feed the fear, which causes negative thoughts and stress during birth, which I believe in many cases is what causes things to go wrong in the first place, I believe that the majority of us can and should give birth naturally. (I say this because everyone I know who has been completely relaxed about giving birth, fully trusting their bodies and believing in birth being a perfectly natural process has given birth naturally, without intervention.) The infant and mother mortality rate is lower in natural home births, than in births that have been messed with.
  • Natural births are statistically safer than births with interventions…I care for the safety of my child!
  • Childbirth is a rite of passage. It is an event that marks your progress into motherhood. It is instinctive. It is beautiful. It is empowering. It is an other-wordly experience. It is transformative. I feel sad for those who have been convinced that birth is a medical procedure, as I really feel that they have missed out on something incredibly special and important in their life as a woman. There is a saying that goes: “Epidurals rip women off of an opportunity to experience themselves as competent adults” ~Margaret Egeland
  • Epidurals, C-sections, Pain drugs all affect you and your brand new unborn baby. I just would not choose to drug my unborn child. (Obviously there are rare occasions where it is unavoidable) We go through pregnancy avoiding certain foods and alcohol and then at the most crucial moment for them (and us), we drug them(and ourselves). This goes against nature and is surely not kind. Women who have these interventions are more likely to struggle to establish breastfeeding, are more prone to post natal depression and often have trouble bonding with their babies. Not surprising when at the most important time, the minutes after birth, both are drugged, and the oxytocin (the incredible love & bonding hormone) is not released. These drugs stay in babies system for up to 5 days. I’ve seen video footage of the difference between a natural birth and one where drugs were involved, where the babies are placed on mum’s tummy. The drugged ones just lie there, the undrugged ones crawl up and find the breast within minutes. As nature intended. In how many other ways do these drugs affect our newborns who cannot tell us how they’re feeling? What are the long term affects of these drugs? Could they be related to the rise in Autism and other problems? Does this not make this important part of our journey into motherhood more difficult than it already is? A C-section is major surgery…here in the UK you cannot drive for 6 weeks. Do you really want to be recovering from major surgery while trying to bond with your new baby? We need to fight for our right to give birth naturally…very occasionally it is necessary to intervene, but not nearly as much as it happens… (it is interesting to note that if monkeys are given a c-section, they reject their babies…no oxytocin means bonding is much harder…)
  • I want to feel everything. I do not want to be numb. I want to be there, present, in the moment. I want to feel the floods of oxytocin, of ecstasy and of pain.
  • When I think of what baby is going through…from a safe, warm sack of water where she’s been curled up for 9 months, hearing my heart beating, being nourished by my body, hearing muffled sounds to a cold and airy,(and sadly- often clinical) spacious world with gravity, loud noises, bright lights, to breathing on her own, eating on her own…I want to travel with her. I also want to feel something. I want to feel everything. I want to laugh and cry. I want her to be caught by me or passed straight onto my body for skin to skin contact with her new, soft, warm, slippery body. I want to be there for her 100%, help to reduce the shock of her transition to being a little earthling. I do not want her to be swept off and weighed, fingers and toes counted. I do not feel this is necessary, certainly not immediately. I want the best for her, naturally, I’m her mother.

By the sounds of it the birthing situation in South Africa is similar to that in America…over medicalised and a money making racket (In the US a hospital birth costs an average of $13000 and a homebirth with midwife costs $4000 and is safer!). Doctors make us believe that we cannot birth naturally, that we should not trust our own bodies and that we should trust them only (possibly not intentionally). They install a kind of fear that if we don’t listen to them we will have problems. I would love all my friends (South African and American especially) to watch Ricki Lake’s film called “The Business of Being Born”. Trailer here http://www.thebusinessofbeingborn.com/trailer.php

 

It is indeed safer (statistically) to have a normal vaginal birth. The safest place for this is at your home or birthing unit with a midwife, because then you are not being pressured into having Pitocin (to hurry things up) and then an Epidural (because now the contractions are too strong too suddenly) and then more Pitocin (because the Epidural weakens the contractions) and then you can’t feel the contractions but the baby can and goes into distress and you end up having an emergency c-section…. This all puts so much stress on your body and your brand new baby. Do your research before having a baby and know what you want.

 

Of course there is a time and place for c-section and other drugs, and thank God for them because they have saved lives. But the extent to which they are used nowadays is completely unnecessary and often just for the convenience of the doctor (which is why most c-sections are at 4pm or 10pm – before supper and before bed time), and often cause way more complications for mom and baby afterwards.

 

I believe being active in your labour plays a huge part in a succesful birth too. When you are lying on your back, you cannot use your tummy muscles properly, your pubic area is possibly at it’s smallest and you are not working with gravity. When squatting or kneeling or standing, you are working with gravity. Baby’s head is going in the right direction. You automatically move your hips, helping baby to do the twists and turns it needs to do in order to come out between your pelvic bones. As nature intended.

 

Squatting or kneeling are also the best positions to reduce the risk of tearing or episiotomy’s. Think about it, squat and have a feel…everything is open wide…so different to when you are stranded on your back like a helpless turtle, with doctors holding your legs up and shouting orders at you.

 

The long and short of it all is that our bodies instinctively KNOW how to birth. All we have to do is listen. And enjoy the awesomeness of pushing out your own child and knowing that this is the kindest thing you can do for both of you.

Preparing your mind and body for this special day is so important. Do some gentle yoga, read about active birth, don’t listen to horror stories, believe in yourself and use gentle herbshomeopathyperineum massage oil, stretch mark oil,Floradix and relaxation techniques. Wonderful kit of goodies here!

 

Trust yourself. Trust your body. Have an amazing birth, bring your child into this world calmly and safely and be empowered!

 

Erin’s birth day! April 4, 2008


I thought I’d record my birth experience while it’s still fresh in my mind….

Steven and I were lying in bed last Sunday morning on Erin’s due date at about 9.45 and we both heard a popping sound and felt my belly move. We decided it must have been a big kick! When I stood up it didn’t take me long to realise that the pop must have been my waters breaking! Steven and I looked at each other and had a little nervous giggle and wondered what happened next. We each had a little spray of Rescue Remedy and then Steven ran me a bath (with a couple of drops of lavendar oil to help me stay calm) and let Jodene know what had happened (We had been holding thumbs it would all happen while Jo was visiting). I called the midwife who called back while I was in the bath. She said that it was good news and she’d like to think that at some stage I’d start feeling a bit of pain, that she had a few other calls to make and to let her know if my situation changed.

Steven lit my labour candle and let those who’d been at our mother and father blessing know that my waters had broken. They all lit their candles and it was comforting to know that there were friends out there thinking of me and sending me positive energy and strength.

After my bath I decided to keep myself busy. Steven and Jo cleaned my car, and Jo started making loads of yummy lasagna for later and to freeze while I vacuumed the house and packed away clothes and generally tidied up. Occasionally I had to stop and make sure I had a towel under me, as everytime Erin moved I had an extra little gush of waters and otherwise a constant dripping. By about 12 my contractions were noticeable but not painful at all, but Steven started timing them and by about 1pm I was having a contraction every 5 minutes and they were starting to get painful, so I thought I better give Liz (the midwife on duty) a call, just to let her know that there was definitely something happening. She happened to be at a friend of mines who is also pregnant when she got beeped, she had no signal on her phone so borrowed my friends home phone and read my number out which Zelda recognised…so she knew something was up! Liz said she had one more call to make and then she’d come on over to see how I was getting on.

When Liz arrived soon after 2pm I was starting to have to breathe, lean forwards and rotate my hips through my contractions. She examined me and said I was 2 centimetres dilated and that I would have a baby today!! This made me smile! She asked whether I wanted to have baby at home, but I opted for the birthing unit because a massive bath of warm water really appealed to me. The birthing unit is midwife run and has no pain relief available besides gas and air, which is what I wanted…40 minutes drive from real pain relief would save me from giving in in a moment of weakness. Liz went to another call and then called me at about 4pm to say she’d be opening the birthing unit for me in half an hour. At this stage Steven was trying to pack the car and Jo was packing food, etc for the evening ahead, but I wouldn’t let poor Steven go far. I found that him pressing down on my sacrum (as we were taught by my yoga teacher in a birthing workshop) really made a difference, so everytime I felt a contraction coming I’d shout for Steven and he’d have to come running.

The 30 minute car trip to the birthing unit wasn’t too much fun. I sat on the back seat with Jo and she rubbed my back through my contractions while I leant forward and grabbed Stevens shoulder. It didn’t slow things down though, my contractions kept coming regularly and the first thing I did was get in the birthing pool. Steven got in with me, which was great…my personal masseuse! Being in the water was really nice and I didn’t feel the urge to get out, except for toilet trips. It was not the pain relief I had read it could be, but it felt good all the same. As the contractions got more painful the rest of the day became a bit of a blur. My mind did a good job of zoning out completely. I disconnected from everything around me and just focused on the birthing process. Jo kept an eye on me, she put Emiko’s aromatherapy oil blend that she made for me for labour on a piece of cottonwool on the radiator (we couldn’t light burners and candles …health & safety) and put in music of my choice. Jo also kept the Rescue Remedy coming when it looked like I needed it and made good use of the homeopathic birthing kit, asking me how I was feeling and giving me the appropriate remedies. I got to a stage where the contractions were very painful, the massage wasnt’ working and I didn’t really feel like being touched, so poor Steven didn’t have much to do, but both him and Jo kept me chatting between contractions so that I wasn’t just waiting for the next one. They also reminded me to breathe through contractions if they could tell I was holding my breath or not breathing evenly. It was very reassuring to have 2 people there with me who were so positive and knew that I could do it, even though there were moments when I didn’t think I could!

Liz, the midwife, was wonderful. She could tell that Steven and Jo wanted to be very involved, so she put up a partition so that she was sitting in her office doing paperwork and we had complete privacy. She came in roughly on the hour to check babys heartbeat, which she could do while I was in the water, and occasionally took my blood pressure, and offered me words of encouragement. Erins heartbeat stayed regular and Liz commented that she was one chilled out baby.

I think it was about 6 or 7pm when I got out to be examined again…I think I was 6 centimetres dilated by then and Liz said I seemed to be progressing by a cm per hour. I was starting to feel tired but just kept focusing on my breathing and Jo kept giving me apple juice and a bite of a breakfast bar between contractions to keep my energy up…I still had 5 hours of hard work ahead. Pain relief didn’t cross my mind, I knew I could do without and I knew it would be the best for me and Erin and Steven and the whole bonding and breastfeeding process. At some stage, probably around 9ish I started “growling” through contractions. Steven made me feel that it was ok to make a noise and I found it really grounding. It helped me turn my awareness inwards and stay with the process. The noises must’ve been a bit scary for Jo & Steven, but they knew to expect them (we’d watched a birthing dvd beforehand!!) They’re not noises that you’ll make at any other time in your life.

At about 10pm I was obviously in a lot of pain (but still with short breaks in between, or less intense contractions), and Steven made me aware that there was Gas & Air (Entonox) available and reminded me that it wouldn’t be harmful to either me or Erin. I decided to give it a try. It didn’t do much for pain relief, but helped me to stay focused on taking deep breaths in and out. If I started sucking on it when I felt a contraction coming on, by the peak of the contraction I had a nice tingly sensation for a few seconds which dulled the pain a teeny tiny bit, or at least acted as a distraction from it.

By between 10.30 and 11pm I reached the stage where I was groaning “i don’t think I can do this anymore”…this is typical of transition into the second stage of labour(actually giving birth), so while uttering these words I KNEW the end was near. Thankfully I had Steven and Jodene to make me realise that soon I was going to meet our child and that I was strong and I could do it. A second midwife, Fiona, arrived as there has to be 2 at the birth and she was great though I was in no state to make conversation her.

At about 11.10 I felt like I needed the toilet and I got out of the pool and sat on the loo. All of a sudden I got the urge to push and felt down, only to feel Erins head. I told Steven to call Liz, who came and immediately started getting things ready in the birthing room…I did not deliver in the toilet thankfully! I didn’t feel the need to get back into the pool, I had gravity to help me outside of it. I leant forward onto a chair half standing, half squatting and Erin arrived at 11.24 after a few pushes, which, I won’t lie, burnt like crazy. I was obviously very zoned out at this stage, because I hardly remember it (which is natures way of making sure we are not put off and have more babies!) Steven and Jo saw Erins little scrunched up face come out, Liz expertly guided one of Erins shoulders through the opening and out she popped into Stevens eagerly waiting hands.

Steven then passed her through my legs to me and they guided me to sit on the edge of the bed. We wanted to only cut the umbilical cord once it had stopped pulsating, but it was a bit short and would have made it difficult for me to hold Erin so Liz put the clip on it and Steven cut the cord. I then had my precious little girl in my arms and every bit of pain was completely forgotten!

I had decided to have a natural third stage (normally they’d give you an injection as the baby is born to make your placenta come out fast…not normally necessary but convenient for medical professionals especially in hospitals where your bed is in demand). Breastfeeding makes everything contract and helps the placenta to come out and I wanted to make the most of that first few hours when Erin was awake and alert and making eye contact, and obviously I wanted to feed her as soon as possible so I spent about the next hour waiting for the placenta to come out. One of the midwives suggested putting a bowl in the toilet and me sitting on the loo, as the position could help and it did, I delivered 1 x placenta (which is quite pretty and shimmery and big, but soft and easy to deliver) into a bowl…charming…but by this stage I didn’t care, I had my beautiful baby in my arms, who looks just like my husband!

I then had a quick shower and a final examination where a little tear on my perineum was discovered, but didn’t need stitching. Steven dressed Erin Petal while the midwife filled out the paperwork, Jo packed the car and we left the birthing unit at about 2 am, home to our lovely warm beds. I enjoyed a massive plate of lasagna and a glass of port first though. Steven and I spent our first night just looking at our beautiful little girl and feeling overwhelmed with love for each other and her. Erin has been super alert and has had no problems breastfeeding. The midwife said that she was so alert because I had no drugs and her breastfeeding so easily is probably due to the fact that she was not seperated from me after the birth, neither of us were drugged and she went straight to the breast. She smiles loads in her sleep (some say it’s wind, others say it’s something more magical) and she’s just the happiest most chilled little girl.

Steven and Jodene were both absolutely amazing. They looked after me so well, and helped me so much and I’m so thankful to them for being there for me! I’d do it all again tommorrow for the same result!!

I do believe that my natural pregnancy kit contributed greatly to me being prepared for this special day and for making it so amazing!


A walk to Durgan beach, a few days before.


Jo & I just finished fish & chips in Porthleven

Collecting wood…the day before Erin was born
Between contractions in the birthing pool in helstonDuring contractions…Steven working hard Our little precious grey bundle!!Liz the midwifeFood timeErin’s first nappyErin Petal sucking her fingers
Hello Aunty Jojo! Erin’s first bath

A proud daddy!
A happy family!

 

 
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