Nature's Mothers Blog

Childbirth, Parenting and Other Passions

The perfect gift for mum & baby this Christmas! December 17, 2011


Looking for something special for a baby or child for xmas? How about an amber teething necklace?!

They are £12.99 each and are made from genuine Baltic amber. They come in several different shades varying from ‘black’ to ‘sunshine’. There are matching ones for mums & dads too! Postage is FREE if you are in the UK!

To find out how amber works, to have a look at the various gorgeous designs, or to go to my online shop here

You can also find me on facebook here

Merry Christmas and a Happy new year to you all!

Blessings,

sharon

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The home waterbirth of Ayla Ivy! June 22, 2010


On Friday, June 18th, not many hours after my last blog post, after a big walk, some sex and feeling much more relaxed about whatever will be will be, I woke up at about 1am with some fairly strong contractions.  5 days after my due date.  I brushed them off as Braxton Hicks and snoozed for a while.  When I woke up 40 minutes later they were still going and I was beginning to feel like I couldn’t lie down through them, so I got up and started timing them and wandered around, just in case this was it.  They were 5 minutes apart and quite intense.  I woke Steven at about 2, saying that I thought this was it.  He didn’t quite believe me, as my waters hadn’t broken(they broke first with Erin) and he was sure they were Braxton Hicks, but when he saw me have a few contractions he began to believe me.

We called the midwife who said she’d be on her way, and we set about doing what prep was needed.  Steven was lighting the rayburn to heat the water, pumping up the birthing pool and lighting the fire in the lounge, while I was putting music on, lighting candles, moving my birthing altar in, lighting the oil burner with soothing, calming lavender oil and leaning forward and breathing through contractions.  I remembered the Rescue Remedy and Steven and I had a few sprays which really helped to keep us chilled.

Our amazing friend, Julie, who we live with had heard the commotion and was up making tea and snacks, helping with the fires and helping to fill the pool by the bucket load, and making sure we all had what we needed.  She had to leave at 5am for France, so sadly missed the birth.  Thankfully the lovely Spike, who lives in the mobile home, was around to keep an ear open for Erin(who was still fast asleep) and continue where Julie left off.  The pool got filled up and I got in.

By the time my midwife, Lynne,  arrived at around 4am my contractions were much closer together and pretty intense.  She did an internal examination to discover I was 5cm dilated. Yay!  She asked me where I’d like to give birth if the birthing pool never got filled up in time and I found a spot close to the birthing pool where I’d still be able to go onto all fours and lean against the pool, and Steven could still massage my back.

Steven was a superstar and let me boss him around telling him exactly how much pressure I felt I needed on my sacrum (his bodyweight a lot of the time!).  He also reminded me to breathe slowly and deeply and held me really tight so I could put all my bodyweight on him every now and then.  He was my calm, my rock – as always.

The pool got filled up and we got in.  The warmth and weightlessness was comforting and made the contractions feel less intense.  In fact I think it may have slowed things down because my contractions slowed right down.  Erin woke up at around 6.30 and she popped in to say hi and then went on a wander with Spike.  She came back in every now and then and was not at all bothered by the animal-like sounds I was making, and came up to me and stroked my hair and gave me little kisses.  I had not planned to have her there, but she seemed so comfortable that it seemed wrong to chase her away. This would only have made her feel left out.  And because she was comfortable, I was comfortable.

By 8ish, I was truly pooped and even thought how nice it would be to go back to bed and try again another day, but on examination I was 9cm dilated.  My waters had still not broken and the midwives (a second one had arrived earlier – they’re meant to have two there for the birth) did say that, while completely my choice, they could just prick a hole in the membrane( breaking my waters) and this would speed things up. I tried walking around for a while and going to the toilet, but this didn’t seem to do a whole lot.  Contractions were further apart and less intense. Were I still 5 cm and had lots of energy and contractions were going strong, I’d have refused having my waters broken – but being so close but with things seeming as if they were coming to a standstill I decided to go ahead and have my waters broken. It is a completely painless procedure and just involves them using something that looks like a long crotchet hook and breaking the bag that holds the water around the baby.

When the midwife broke the waters there was a bit of merconium (baby poo) in it.  Lynne was not concerned as she said it looked fresh. The second midwife, however, was talking about sending me to hospital – as if baby swallows merconium it can be dangerous, and it can be a sign that baby is in distress.  However baby’s heart rate was great and Lynne, thankfully, put her foot down and insisted that I was having baby at home and there was no need for concern. She said that the only thing the hospital would do was monitor me, and they could do that right there in the birthing pool. I felt like there was no need for concern and knew that I was probably too close to the birth for them to send me to hospital anyway. It just shows you though, if Lynne were not on I may have been sent to hospital completely unnecessarily, so thank you Lynne!

I’d been nibbling breakfast bar, bananas and weetabix throughout and having sips of juice and tea and Lynne had a hand held doppler/heart monitor that she could use in the water to listen to baby’s heartbeat whenever she needed to.

Breaking the waters meant that babies head came right down onto the cervix, getting the last of it out of the way so that babies head could move down the birth canal. I got back in the birthing pool and contractions suddenly became very intense and painful, but I had the midwives and Steven there to help me to stay strong, stay calm and breathe.  I refused gas and air this time, as although they say it has no effect on baby, it is under researched and nobody knows for sure. I was also feeling a bit nauseous and didn’t want to risk gas & air making me be sick.

I don’t know how to explain how I was feeling at this time. I switched off to everything around me, and felt really internally focused and safe, but almost out of my body at the same time.  In a good way. Before I knew it I could feel Beanie’s head moving down and after a biiiig push, and a stinging feeling (the ring of fire) as baby’s head crowned, I felt down in the water and I could feel her head. The hardest part was over. I waited for the next contraction to push her body out.  I waited for more than 5 minutes but didn’t have a contraction. I was calm though and ready. The midwives suggested Steven rub my nipples, which he did, and this brought on a strong contraction. I was on my knees leaning forward against the side of the pool. Her little body came shooting out between my legs and I reached down and lifted my gorgeous little grey bundle out of the water for her first breath ever.  Welcome to the world, little Bean!

Erin was apparently there for the birth although I was completely oblivious to this. Soon after, she jumped into the water with Steven and I, and we all marveled at the little miracle who was slowly turning from grey to pink. We stayed in the birthing pool for probably 30 minutes or so, Erin was overjoyed to be swimming, and ended up under the water a few times probably drinking mouthfuls of blood, membrane, etc! But she loved it. Baby had her first feed, latching on just as easily as Erin did. No breastfeeding problems apparent here! Steven and Erin went for a shower, while I got out of the pool and delivered the placenta naturally in a squatting position (I chose not to have the injection). Baby was still attached to the cord and when Steven and Erin got back, Steven cut the cord.  We put the placenta in the freezer as we plan to bury it and plant a tree on top of it.  And I only had a tiny, skin deep tear on my perineum that didn’t need stitching and healed within the first day – thank you perineum massage!

It was an incredible experience and although painful and tiring at the time, it was exhilarating and empowering, I would do it again in a heartbeat for the same result. Our daughter is gorgeous and we are loving falling in love with her! Erin is a fantastic big sister and just wants to help and cuddle her little sister all the time.  We’ve decided to call baby Ayla!

A few people have said how brave I am to have baby at home, but for me it would have taken much more courage to go to hospital and have interventions, so I feel very blessed to have had the birth of my dreams, once again.  I was also blessed with wonderful midwives who really did talk me through those final stages, reminding me to trust my instincts and that my body knew what it was doing and that I was strong.  I know that the midwife who wanted to send me to hospital only wanted to do so out of fear of things goings wrong, and she redeemed herself by being wonderfully calming and gentle and I felt really safe around her.

I do believe that my natural pregnancy – my diet, exercise, the products I have used, books I have read, and my determination to stay positive and believe in my body – have helped me to achieve this wonderful result.

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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!

 

 
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