Pregnant? Here’s 5 reasons to hire a doula

Women need to feel relaxed, safe and both emotionally and physically supported during labour. Giving birth is not just a mechanical process- it is absolutely intertwined with our emotions, get the emotional support right and it can change the way you birth. Here is Chloe Mulholland explaining what and why you might look to hire a doula!

Pregnant? Here’s 5 reasons to hire a doula

Doulas are professional birth companions. They support you right through your pregnancy, birth and for those first weeks after your baby is born. They are knowledgeable about the biology of birth, the inner workings of the maternity care system and they often have a few tricks up their sleeves when it comes to a more holistic approach to caring for you.

But is it really worth hiring one? Here’s 5 reasons why I think it definitely is.

1) Hiring a doula means you are less likely to need a c-section in labour.

Yup, it’s true. A review of all the available evidence in 2017 (link- https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD003766.pub6/epdf/standard) , showed that  “continuous support was most effective at reducing caesarean birth, when the provider was present in a doula role”. They looked at continuous support from a member of hospital staff, doulas and a family member or friend chosen by the woman. Of each of these options, doulas had the most impact on reducing the rate of c-sections being performed. The presence of continuous support reduced the risk of a c-section from 146/1,000 births to 109/1,000 births. And astonishingly the continuous support also reduced the number of babies born with a low Apgar score (this is the score given at birth to ascertain if a baby requires resuscitation or not, the higher the score, the healthier the baby). So, it’s a win win for mum and baby.


2)Having a doula means you can simply concentrate on birthing your baby.

Modern day maternity care invariably means that you end up giving birth with a midwife you have never met before. This means that they don’t know your in-depth history, they don’t know your wants and wishes for the birth and they don’t know how you want to be looked after. The thing is- when you’re in labour, you don’t really want to be focussing on all that faffing around and conversation. You want to be tuning into your body and going with each urge and sensation it presents you with. The beauty of having a doula means that she can communicate with your midwife, she can make sure that everything is set up how you want it and you don’t need to lift a finger. It’s perfect.


3)Doulas reduce the need for pharmacological pain relief.

Doulas are experts in providing tailored care for your needs- so if having an epidural as soon as possible is on your list, then a doula can certainly help you with that. However, for a lot of mums, an epidural is something they would really rather avoid. Unfortunately, in the absence of good support, often an epidural is the only place to turn and lots of these mums end up with an epidural they didn’t really want. Having a doula with you when you give birth reduces the chance of this happening- and this is all backed up by the stats in the review we talked about earlier.


4)Having a doula is like having a best friend, that just so happens to be an expert in childbirth.

Imagine you were moving house and your best friend just so happened to be a conveyancer. You’d be on the phone to her straight away, right? Well, having a doula is the same thing. Doulas aren’t there to boss you around, to make you conform to the system or to make sure you’re doing everything the Joneses are doing. They are there to make sure you are listening to your own voice, that you’re making decisions you’re happy with and that feel right for you and your baby. They’ll make sure you’re not pressured into doing anything you’re not comfortable with and they’ll give you a confidence boost every time you need it. What more could you ask for?

5) Doulas aren’t just there for the birth, they are there to support you in those difficult early days too.

So often the birth of a new baby brings with it a euphoria that is like no other but it can also bring panic, loneliness and confusion. A doula is there to mother you, so you can mother your baby. A doula will make sure you’re eating right, that you’re getting the rest you need and that you’re getting the emotional support that is SO essential. They can be your shoulder to cry on, when you’re feeling overwhelmed. They can be there, celebrating all the small (and big) wins- baby’s first feed, baby’s first bath, your first mouthful of Brie- it’s all part of the wonderful journey that is parenting. The emotional support you can get from a doula is simply priceless, especially when we live in a society that often sees us far removed from our own immediate families. 

I can think of about a millions more reasons why doulas are wonderful and why I’d highly recommend hiring one for the birth of your baby but then we’d be here all day. So, I’m going to leave you with these top five reasons. 

If you think that a doula might be for you- why not contact a couple of doulas today and arrange to meet them. Doulas will nearly always meet you once for free and if you don’t feel comfortable, there’e no obligation to continue but my guess is you’ll be hooked and simply won’t be able to say no.

By Chloe Mulholland. Chloe is an ex-midwife, now working as a doula across London and Essex. If you would like to find out more about her click the links below- https://doitlikeamother.co.uk/pregnancy/birth-doula-support/ https://www.instagram.com/chloe_do.it.like.a.mother/ https://www.facebook.com/Doitlikeamotherupminster/


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Rachel's home birth - a first time mothers story.

Rachel and I follow each other on Instagram and Rachel reached out to me when I shared a post about cervical dilation and the ‘numbers’ not really being any indication of where you are at in labour - and Rachel had first hand experience of exactly this! Rachel is really passionate to share her experience of home birth as a first time mother.

Before the story I just wanted to add that if a woman plans a home birth and for whatever reason transfers into hospital for extra help it does not mean that it then becomes a ‘failed’ home birth -in any way! It is often the mother herself who decides she would like to transfer in, rather than any problem or complication.

Also, having a home birth does not mean you are refusing medical help, you have 1-1 care from your midwife and two experienced midwives for the birth - just a couple of the wrong assumptions that seem to float around about home births!


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Home birth was something that never initially appealed to me. Going to hospital to have a baby was just what you do, it’s what everyone I knew did. 

I’ve been a nanny for over ten years, and in the early days I worked for a lot of new mums with young babies, and they always had traumatic birth stories. 

Induction, emergency sections, forceps, ventouse, episiotomy. The list was endless. The injuries scary. 

Most of them hired me to look after their newborns while they had some sort of therapy to repair whatever damage they had sustained during the birth. 

I met Rebecca as she needed a babysitter and she had a three week old boy. I asked her how her birth went as I usually did when I met a new mother , and she replied “ah it was lovely, I had him here at home with a private midwife” and that was my first introduction into a whole new world. One that wasn’t full of fear and threats and panic. It was all just as it should be. 

Everything changed for me in that moment of positivity about birth. It didn’t have to to be bad. Maybe everyone thought you just go to hospital and it was what you do. But is it what you should do? Was it the best option for a healthy pregnancy? 

It would be nearly ten years later I was pregnant with my own son. But I held what Rebecca had said and I read and researched. The more I read and the more I researched the more committed I became. It all made so much sense. 

I had all my scans at St George’s hospital and at one point they found my baby had a small heart murmur. The specialist there said it was perfectly fine and not to change my birth plan of having the baby at home as they were confident it was no problem. 

However the home birth team at Kings College hospital rang me when I told them about the heart murmur and they decided they did not want to support my home birth. I was terribly upset. I felt let down and left all alone. They cancelled all my antenatal appointments and I felt they were trying to force me into something I knew was not right for me. Eventually they said that I could ignore medical advice and sign all these disclaimers, and they would “let me” have a homebirth- but I told them no. In my eyes they were now compromised. 

They didn’t agree with my decision, they were not supportive and they would have no doubt tried to transfer me into hospital as soon as anything wasn’t “textbook”. And that was not what I wanted. 

That is when I found Claire my independent midwife. She talked about all the things I believed in, Ina May gaskin - who is an amazing midwife. Hypnobirthing (which I had done a course and read books on). She understood what I was trying to achieve. 

We clicked and I felt safe. In my birth it was important to me to feel safe. To know that people would listen to me. To not try and force me to do anything I didn’t want to do. Respect is what I wanted. Respect shown to me as the women in labour and the women who was feeling all these pains and movement. Respect what I wanted.

 I wanted calm. Peace. Low lights. No talking. No rushing. All these things are what I craved from my labour and birth. 

And they are exactly what I got. My waters broke naturally at 10:30pm Wednesday evening, so my husband and I prepared the house together. We put the pool up, laid out cushions for me a kneel on if I wanted to. We got the music ready and put candles out. 

I started getting contractions a few hours later. I called Claire at around 4am, and at that moment the peace I felt knowing I wouldn’t have to leave my home and arrive anywhere and meet strangers was just amazing. 

I turned a low light on, the tv on, and laboured in peace on my own with my tens machine, while my husband slept and I waited for Claire. 

I laboured for quite a few hours but it was something I could cope with because I felt safe and calm and my mind was strong because I felt no fear or panic. I just felt tired because it is hard physical work. 

I used the pool as pain relief in the end rather than for the birth as it slowed down my contractions, but that was something that was very helpful at the time. Gave me a break. And Claire followed my lead. She let me be in charge of where I wanted to go, how I wanted to lay or stand or kneel. She just suggested things to me that may help. And she made sure I was fed and hydrated so I had energy. 

I got upset with some of the really intense contractions and I cried but she calmed me and told me how strong I was and rubbed my back. Encouragement I really needed. I had such great care as it was just her and I and my husband. Real one to one. 

I went from room to room in my flat for the change of scene. I watched tv, I had music and candles. I sat in the bathroom and yelled when I needed to. I opened the windows as I wanted the cool air. There were no restrictions on me. 

My midwife doesn’t believe in checking for dilation ( and neither do I) so i was never checked during my labour because she says it actually tells you nothing. But I did check myself at one point. I was about 15 hours in and my cervix was 100% closed. Absolutely no dilation. Im sure if i was in hospital this would have caused a huge issue. However being at home with my independent midwife I just carried on regardless. After I had been in the birth pool I got out and checked myself again and I could feel I was suddenly open, and three hours later the baby was born, so numbers mean nothing.`

Birth is no easy road. But you can make it more comfortable. You can make it so you can cope. 

My second stage was prolonged. Something I actually wasn’t really aware of at the time. I just tried to listen to her when she was helping me understand how to push. 

With your first baby your body has never done this before so you might need some coaching like I did. And you need the right person to help you. 

Claire was patient, she explained calmly where exactly I needed to push down into when she realised I didn’t quite understand what I should do. She asked my permission anytime she touched me which made me feel respected. We didn’t do any examinations as I wasn’t keen on them (and neither is she) and they hadn’t been necessary, but I wanted her to show me where to push down into. It was difficult work, I was tired, but at no point did I think I couldn’t do it. Because I felt calm. 

I just needed time because this was new to my body. 

This unfortunately is not what many women who give birth in hospital are offered. They are rushed and panicked. Which results in all the things I mentioned at the start. 

I was given time and space and reassurance in the calm comfortable environment of my home. No strangers. No pairs of eyes. Just us in low light, and I felt safe. 

The baby was doing well, Claire was checking on him. She explained I needed to give it everything I had, as although the baby was happy and his heart rate was good, he had been in my pelvis a long time and it would be good if he was to come out soon. 

She explained I would need to get him out very soon as every time I pushed he came forward but was then slipping back, and I needed to get four pushes in a row rather then the three I had been managing, or we may have to transfer into hospital for some help to get him out. 

She never panicked me. I knew I could do it and I felt calm and collected. She just gave me guidance and after some hard work from me with those four pushes in a row a few times- which really took some inner strength I have to say, he was born. Smoothly and not long after we had that discussion. And it was really a discussion, I was clear headed, she was giving me my options and it was my decision what to do. I felt confident to stay at home as the baby was doing well and I felt totally fine physically and mentally and knew I could do it. I just needed a bit more time. I was so close. 

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Painful yes but just for a few moments. And no interventions, no drugs. I felt so well the minute that he was born and I could sit in my home and look at my beautiful baby boy with my husband. 

And then we all climbed into our beds and slept. 

What made me most happy is that my son Jonah was happy. He was born into such a calm environment. No bright lights, no one poking him and taking him off to do any tests that I knew he didn’t need. 

I felt like I protected him. He barely cried when he was born, and he fed and slept so well immediately. Having a homebirth was the best thing I could have done for him, and for myself. 

I recovered so well with a small tear that Claire stitched the next day in the comfort of my home, and a couple of grazes that were no problem really. 

Yes I still had to sit on a pillow and I had some normal after birth pains - but the key word here is normal. Normal pains, nothing I shouldn’t have had, and I healed really really well because they were all natural/normal after effects of birth. I wouldn’t change a thing. And to be able to say that about your first birth is something special. 

Like Rebecca I can say to people “It was great, I had him at home” and no horror stories about myself will pass my lips. 


Claire Chaubert, Independent midwife.

www.greatexpectationsmidwifery.co.uk

“I  have a passionate belief in women's power and capacity to birth and in their right to make their own choices. As an independent, private midwife I have chosen to work outside the NHS as I am committed to providing individualised personal care and supporting women and their families to have fulfilling and positive birth experiences - without the strict time limits, rules and procedures often inherent to hospital births. 

I have a particular interest in home vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC/HBAC) and in helping and supporting women regain their health and well-being after previous traumatic birth including those experiencing PTSD so that they can face pregnancy and birth without fear.”

Induction story - my choice

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When I was pregnant with my first baby I had an induction at around 41.5 weeks. Someone had told me the reason for induction was that my placenta would fail. So as soon as I reached 40 weeks every day that went by I thought my placenta could just stop working, so I actually wanted my labor to be induced at the time.

I remember naively thinking ‘Well, at least I will get to know when my baby is coming’. What I didn’t know was any of the risks involved with an induction as no one had mentioned them to me. All I knew was that it might be a bit more painful for me. I wish someone had sat me down and really explained the risks to me – I still feel frustrated about this even now. I also didn’t do any further research on placenta efficiency – if I had, I would have known the statement that my placenta ‘would fail’ was false.

Having had two natural labours since my induced labour, I know a labour started artificially is very different from spontaneous natural labour. In my experience it completely skipped the first stages of labour and went straight to very powerful, close together contractions of well-established labour – which meant neither my baby or I had a chance to get used to the sensations. My midwives were happy as the induction was ‘working’ but my baby and I didn’t feel so happy - I think we were both in shock!

My induction was followed later by an epidural, which I requested. The baby was in distress several times during labour due to the effects of the induction, the epidural and also the fact I believe I was stressed. There was a conversation about an emergency cesarean (unplanned) and in the end I had a ventouse delivery. My baby was taken to NICU after birth with no clear explanation why, apart from a possible chance of infection, which no one was certain about. So she was put on antibiotics just in case and we both stayed on the postnatal ward for around a week.

When I was pregnant with my second I was in a real panic about having to give birth again, and this is when I started Hypnobirthing. This helped me to process what had happened in my first labour, to understand why I felt the way I did and explained why my induced labour was so very different from natural labour. Because my labour had been started artificially this meant my body did not produce to the same level the cocktail of complementary hormones it would have if labour had started on its own - oxytocin ( feel good love hormone!) , endorphins ( calming & natural pain relief). 

I knew that I would not agree to induction for post dates again as I just wasn’t prepared to take the risks – not just because it would be more painful for me, but I didn’t want to put those risks onto my baby. But this was easier said than done, and we did have to fight for our right to decline.

Our midwives were all very supportive of our choice, bar one. But we were placed under intense pressure by several obstetricians to consent to an induction.

One day in particular stays in my mind as my husband and I were ushered into a small room, the door was closed and we were made to feel like two small children as an obstetrician tried to coerce us into consenting. She didn’t look up from her paper as she insisted we must agree to be induced pretty much there and then.

We also had another doctor come to speak to us who was a bit more understanding - she basically said her job was to ‘induce women’ but it was our choice. It was incredibly stressful and if I was a first time mum there is no doubt I would have agreed, as we were made to feel there was only one option.

We had faced extra pressure because the baby was showing ever so slightly smaller than average on the growth graphs, though not a decline in growth at any point. He still is a very tall and slim thing now with long legs!

Luckily for us, although we were shaken up quite badly that day, we knew our rights. We asked to speak to the consultant midwife at the hospital and she lifted a huge weight off our shoulders. Without telling us what to do; she just gave us the confidence that our decision was right for us.

So after having one of the most stressful experiences of our lives we left the hospital feeling happy with restored confidence and looking forward to the birth. Labour started that very same afternoon and our baby boy was born at home at 42 weeks plus 5 days weighing a healthy 7lb 3 oz. The midwife reported that he showed no sign of being overdue.

With baby number three I was prepared again to last to around 42 weeks plus. I had already decided quite early on that I would decline even to have a sweep and the plan was to do everything possible to relax about the ‘due date’ . I had also learnt not to tell anyone the exact due date! It took me to my third pregnancy to actually do this and it was the best thing to do!

The thought of another slightly longer pregnancy wasn’t the most appealing especially with two small people to look after. I wanted to be in the right headspace to give labour the best chance to start. At my 36 week home appointment with my midwife I brought up the subject of induction for post dates myself. I said that I would decline induction (informed decision) and if I reached 42 weeks I would have a meeting with the consultant midwife & monitoring.

This was all put into my notes. I then asked for induction not to be mentioned again in any appointment and this was also on my notes. My midwife listened to me and supported my decision. I did this in the hope to relieve my body of any pressure and to minimise stress. It absolutely did the trick and baby was born at 40 weeks + 6 days - by far my shortest pregnancy! So it turns out I do not have a naturally longer gestation... my babies just don’t like being told what to do. And this non-compliance has lasted well into the toddler years !

By not being put under pressure to perform my body was able to relax. I’m so thankful my midwife listened and supported me. This was by far the most relaxed I’ve been towards the end of pregnancy. And I believe avoiding any pressure whatsoever about induction and several relaxing reflexology treatments was key. If my baby or I had been unwell at any point I would have re- evaluated and been extremely grateful to have the care available for us, but for me personally post dates was not reason enough. I’m incredibly grateful for the excellent care from my community midwives who supported me to have two satisfying home births.

If you are looking for further information to make your own decision around induction of labour, a good place to start is by reading the book 'Inducing labour: making informed decisions' by Sarah Wickham.  

Cervical-centric birth - article share

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I wanted to share this article Vaginal examinations: a symptom of a cervical-centric birth culture -  written by Dr Rachel Reed back in 2015. This article is about our birth culture and the emphasis we put on a womans dilation being measured. This is so culturally ingrained that it isn't easy to birth without thinking about time v's dilation - or an intervention being advised based solely on this. 

With baby's number 2 &3 I decided to stay at home, try to avoid vaginal examinations and to not clock watch. But I even found it difficult myself to shake this notion of how many cm I was - and I only felt happy to get into the birth pool when I was 'x' cm dilated. When I finally gave myself permission to enter the pool I must have dilated from 7cm to 10cm in a matter of minutes - dilation is unpredictable.

In my last labour I consented to one VE - if I had routine examinations every four hours perhaps it would have shown that I was only at 'x' amount for 'too long' and if that seed of doubt had been planted , how might that have affected my progression? . What I do know is that my contractions stopped when I was worried about my older children, contractions also slowed down when my midwives first arrived at our home - but soon picked up again once all settled. The link between my emotional state and my progression could not be denied. 

https://midwifethinking.com/2015/05/02/vaginal-examinations-a-symptom-of-a-cervix-centric-birth-culture/

One more birth story...

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Here is my birth tale of baby number three, written, as he lies on my lap only a day old! I’m happy to write this story down now even if it is more rambling than a coherent story, as I can already feel the magic of his birth slightly fading. We haven’t decided on a name yet, so I will just have to call him baby!

So on paper his birth was around 2 hours, but of course that’s established labour, which doesn’t recognise all your hard work behind the scenes in the lead-up! This birth was a little more stop and start than I’m used to, which my midwife explained  (in the nicest possible way) is actually quite common with third births and she described them as sometimes being unpredictable!

My older children go to nursery two days a week, so rather sensibly my body decided that labour should start Friday morning –which is a nursery day! So around 4am I started waking up with some tightenings. I went downstairs around 5am and just watched TV before the kids woke up. Then I got them ready for nursery and my husband Patrick dropped them off. Their overnight bags were already packed so I just needed to add in all their other essentials, cuddly toys, drink bottles, sleeping bags etc so I still had a few things on my mind! We then tidied the house up a bit together.

I was expecting things to just ramp up from there, but labour pretty much stopped for the day with only a few sensations on and off. In the back of my mind I was probably thinking about the kids being collected from nursery and getting to their grandparents - so I wasn’t completely relaxed at that point!

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Things then picked up again on Friday night. Patrick went to sleep and I attempted to but I wasn’t comfortable lying down. So I sat on the birth ball by the side of the bed, balanced some pillows on the bed and nodded off in between surges. I am pretty sure I had my TENS machine on at this point as I wanted to make sure I used it from early on in labour. In the early hours of the morning I made my way downstairs and the pacing up and down started. I started walking back and forth from the dining room to the front room whilst visualizing I was walking barefoot along a sandy beach. The fairy lights were on by this point and I was already using lavender oil on muslin, which I had used in my previous labour and always used when I practiced my Hypnobirthing. I also had a birth ball upstairs as well as downstairs so that was pretty useful.

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I woke Patrick up about 5.30am as I didn’t want to be alone any more. So for a couple of hours I worked through the surges focusing on my breathing. By 6.30am we decided to call the birth centre and let them know we were booked in for a home birth. The midwife told us on the phone that the midwives changed shifts at 8am so we needed to choose if we wanted someone over there and then, or hold on till 8am. I felt I wanted to have the midwife there, but Patrick wisely suggested we hang on so as to avoid the shift changing, causing interruptions which would have affected me and slowed things down.

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So, the midwives arrived at about 8.15am, and one was Laura (the midwife that had been with us at home for my son Bax’s birth) -  so that was amazing! I was really unsure as to whether I wanted to have a vaginal examination,  as I just didn’t want anything to throw me off and I thought if I’m ‘only’ at the beginning   that would affect me emotionally. But I was undecided at that point, and I later changed my mind when I felt as I really did want to know. So I had my check and at that point I was 7cm, so then felt happy to get in the birth pool! Things progressed pretty much straight away after I was in the pool and I just started to feel this incredible urge to push. I thought surely this was too soon and I even asked the midwives - of course because they were brilliant midwives they both said ‘listen to your body’ so that’s what I did! I felt myself really pushing at one point and I just needed to slow down, as I wanted to breathe the baby down rather than push. So, I tried to just breathe and take it easy which helped hugely and I believe that’s why I didn’t have a tear, even with baby making an exit with his arm up by his face, just like Superman as Laura described!

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I’d put in my birth proposal, which was pretty short and sweet, that I wanted to be the first to catch my baby and for my midwives to help me. So that’s what they did and I managed to kneel up, reach down and guide baby up to the surface once he was born!

I wanted to get a photo of the baby with the placenta and to watch the cord run white so I knew all the blood was back in the baby, and again this was on my birth proposal. As I was planning to get my placenta encapsulated, my midwives made sure I birthed it onto a clean towel and helped pop it into a container after its photo shoot!

So baby boy was born an hour after the midwives arrived, at 9.20am weighing 8lb 2oz. As I’m writing this I it sounds a bit too good to be true, and I know I’m very lucky, but I’m not brushing it off as no big deal. It was incredibly powerful and pushed me to my limits and more. Afterwards, it again reminded me how amazingly powerful women are, however they birth their babies.  What helped me was my birth partner, Hypnobirthing, the birth pool, lavender oil and my TENS machine, and feeling supported by my midwives at home in my familiar environment.

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So yep, that’s about it and afterwards Patrick was happy as it was in time for the World Cup match.  I was happy as he went to get us a Mc Donald’s for lunch -which I devoured and washed down with a large chocolate milkshake!!!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflexology, pregnancy and labour!

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I have just had my second at home treatment with Ruth from Reflexologywithruth, and once again it was pretty blissful , but I definitely felt as if things were a little more intense this time as Ruth worked on de congestion, releasing tension, opening up and creating space in the pelvic area and promoting oxytocin (all pretty useful for birth!)

As I am now 'full term'  Ruth applied pressure to points on my feet which are linked to the uterus and this was pretty intense but manageable . For me, this was absolutely not about 'bringing on' or inducing labour, I will not be serving my baby an 'eviction notice' or hurrying these vital last few weeks. But, I was happy for Ruth to begin to work on these areas helping to prepare emotionally for birth, to reduce adrenaline and promote oxytocin production! Again, I used my appointment as a time to just relax and listen to my Hypnobirthing tracks - the combination is a fantastic stress reliever !

Below Ruth tells more about the benefits of reflexology during each trimester of pregnancy

Reflexology is a natural therapy based on the concept that different points on the feet correspond to different parts and systems of the body. Through working these points the flow of energy is stimulated and balance in the body can be restored. 

Reflexology is considered safe at all stages of pregnancy, women looking for a Reflexologist should ensure they are insured and registered with a recognised body such as The Association of Reflexologist and ask about their experience of working with women during pregnancy. There can be contraindications to receiving reflexology during pregnancy, these include Placenta previa, Pre-eclampsia, Polhydramnios/Oligohydramnios and DVT.

Reflexology can be used throughout pregnancy, in all trimesters, to support relaxation and reduce stress. Regular treatments will offer the greatest benefit for clients in pregnancy, optimising health and well-being throughout each period.

The first trimester is a transitional stage characterised by major hormonal changes. It can be a particularly emotionally and physically challenging stage of pregnancy, while the body adjusts to its new state. Reflexology offers support and can reduce anxiety and worry during this period, encouraging relaxation. It can also help to alleviate unwanted symptoms of pregnancy like nausea, fatigue and constipation. 

The second trimester is a time when lots of changes are happening to a women’s body and the first movements can be felt. This a period when most women feel very well. Reflexology during this period offers a space to be able to relax and switch off from the demands of a busy life, and for an expectant mother to connect with her baby. 

The third trimester is a period of rapid foetal development. The increase in the baby’s size may start to put a strain on the mother’s body. As birth becomes more imminent feelings of worry and anxiety about the impending labour and birth are common. Reflexology during this period can offer emotional support, promote relaxation and help an expectant mother prepare for labour.

From week 34 of pregnancy,  reflexology treatments can be focused on preparing for labour and reducing stress and anxiety in the run up to birth. After 37 weeks gestation specific techniques can be used to encourage labour. 

The fourth trimester of pregnancy often referred to as the postnatal period, is a time when a baby is getting used to the transition of living in the very different environment of the outside world. It also an intense and often overwhelming time for new parents. Hormone levels again are rapidly changing and the reality of caring for a newborn is often different to the expectation. This is a time when a relaxing and nurturing reflexology treatment can support a new mother and allow her to feel completely cared for. 

Ruth Mirza is a qualified and insured Reflexologist registered with the Association of Reflexologists. She is also a practicing Children’s Nurse of 16 years. Ruth works on a mobile basis in and around Crystal Palace in South East London. She has a special interest in women’s reflexology working with many women throughout pregnancy and the postnatal period, she also offers family treatments. 
For natural health inspiration follow Ruth on Instagram
Website: www.reflexologywithruth.co.uk

 


What do I need for a home birth?

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If you are planning a home birth here is a list of things to think about, I put this list together for my last home birth so the links should be up to date!. I thought I would just share this to help anyone else who is also planning their home birth. This is a list of the practical stuff, if you are planning a home birth also think about how you will mentally prepare joining a hypnobirthing course will give you a great foundation to continue to practise at home.

This list is probably not extensive,  so if you think of anything else please send me a message and I will add it on! If you are planning a hospital birth most of these things will be useful as you will likely to be labouring at home most of the time. 

If you are wanting to use a birth pool it makes sense to put it into the room you feel most comfortable in, the most relaxed in , just check the hose reaches to fill it up. Its best to avoid moving furniture around if you can because it can then become slightly unfamiliar ( familiarity is of course one of the huge benefits of being at home, so it makes sense to just keep it as it is!)

  • 'Birth pool in a box' - I went for the Eco mini size. You can also hire a pool or arrange to borrow one from your birth centre. The liner comes with the pool, you can also buy a liner separately if you are borrowing a pool. If you would like to hire a pool from me please get in contact - I have the Eco Mini and Eco Regular size. You can buy complete accessory kits to go with your pool, remember always buy a new hose and liner.

  • Tap adaptor! You can buy a tap adaptor from the Birth pool in box website. Our kitchen tap doesn't have a thread, so we have a bought an adaptor for a thread less kitchen tap- which you tighten against the tap to create an airtight seal. This sounds more complicated than it is - here is the link .

  • This is something to definitely check before the big day! It's also a good idea to do a dry run and inflate the pool and also a wet run ( fill the pool up a little bit with water and then just times how long it will take to fill the whole pool) .

  • Pump to inflate the pool and deflate again!

  • Pump to remove water from the pool when you're finished . You can do this by hand with buckets but the pump is much easier!

  • Plastic sheets and non slip mat - or an old towel by the side of the pool will do the job also. My midwife bought waterproof plastic sheets with her last time, but you might want to have some extra.

  • Tens machine - you can buy or hire, or arrange to borrow from your birth centre . Have a look at the instructions and try it out ( perhaps on your arm) beforehand so you are confident how to use it during labour.

  • Lavender essential oil and a carrier oil for massage

  • Five flower remedy

  • Hot water bottle for early labour, good to place on your lower back or front.

  • Torch and batteries for your midwife to use ( your midwife may bring this with her), especially if your room is very dimly lit

  • Candles and fairy lights to make the room dark and comfortable

  • Bendy straws so you are able to drink easily and not have to change position, or lift a glass ( far too much effort in labour!)

  • Birth ball and extra pillows to lean on or place under your knees if you are kneeling. When you go into labour its really useful to have more than one birth ball so that as you freely move around there is always one nearby to stop and lean into. Especially useful to have one in the bathroom or upstairs.

  • Snacks to keep energy levels up - bananas, snack bars , granola bars, water to stay hydrated - bottle or a cup and straw

  • Hot and cold compress - heat can be soothing on your back or a cold flannel on your forehead

  • Tea, coffee and snacks for your midwives!

  • Bin liners for any waste

  • Comfy labour clothes, I found loose clothing better and didn't want anything tight around my tummy

  • Maternity pads

  • Older childrens overnight bags packed and ready to go if they are staying with relatives

  • Your hospital bag packed and ready if you decide to transfer into hospital. But double up on things so that you have all your comforts to hand.

  • Lots of old towels

  • Baby clothes & blankets for when the baby is born, nice to have this visible so you can focus on the end goal!

  • Dressing gown, warm clothes, and a blanket for you after the birth- you can be a little bit cold and shaky from the adrenaline rush/ euphoria after the birth!

I think that is about it. And don't forget your Hypnobirthing tracks to listen to - and comedy films/ series lined up to watch during early labour! 


If the baby can turn, it will turn.... Claire Dabreo

Breech presentation is a baby who is feet or bottom first rather than in the usual head down position for birth. If you are told your baby is breech at 32 weeks it's perhaps better to think of it as your baby just hasn't had the chance to turn yet. Staying relaxed is both physically and mentally beneficial for you and your baby, so avoid unnecessary stress early on!

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If your baby is breech at 36 weeks you may be offered a External Cephalic Version (ECV). EVC is when your obstetrician will attempt to manually turn your baby from the outside, success rate is 50% , and it can be uncomfortable. 

Many women also look into gentler methods to encourage a baby to turn - acupuncture and moxibustion are often on the list. If this sounds a bit 'out there' to you, it is worth knowing that even 'The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists' stated the following in March 2017 :

"Women may wish to consider the use of moxibustion for breech presentation at 33–35 weeks of gestation, under the guidance of a trained practitioner".

[New 2017] External Cephalic Version and Reducing the Incidence of Term Breech Presentation Published: 16/03/2017 The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

 

I have spoken to Claire Dabreo of The London Acupuncturist to bring you some more information on what it is she does to help encourage a baby to turn! ...

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Finding out your baby is in a breech position can wobble even the most pragmatic of mums to be, as this news can come with all sorts of implications for birth plans.  It’s often at this time I see women who have never had acupuncture before, keen as they are to get the baby head down.  So when Lydia invited me to share a little more information about how this can work I leapt at the chance.  Success in helping a baby turn is often about timing as well as approach so here’s the things you need to know:

 

·      the first approach an acupuncturist is likely to use is moxibustion, which is a herb used to warm a point on the little toe,

·      this is a treatment you do at home once you have seen an acupuncturist and it is done daily for 20 minutes a day, for 10 days,

·      bring your partner or someone who can help you do this for your first session, as it can be quite tricky to get into position.   It’s far more relaxing to sit with your feet up as someone else administers the treatment!

·      if you have high blood pressure then moxibusiton is not used, and needles are used instead.

·      this treatment is most effective when started at around 34 weeks.  Any earlier and the baby may well turn and turn again.  Sometimes you don’t find out until the 36 week check, but if you can get an appointment in quick then I strongly recommend doing so.

·      I often suggest scheduling a visit in with a specialist chiropractor or osteopath at the same time.  This ensures that the baby has the internal room to move  - there’s no point encouraging them to get into position if they physically can’t.  Chiropractors use something called Webster Technique and I have 100% strike rate at getting babies turned in my clinic when these techniques are combined.

·      It doesn’t matter what kind of breech presentation you have, transverse, incomplete, frank, footling, or unstable line, this treatment can be used

·      Acupuncture doesn’t just support ‘head down’ but ‘optimal position’.  If the baby is in optimal position for the shape of the pelvic brim, then labour is likely to be more effective (and crucially for first time mums, a bit shorter).  

·      ‘If the baby can turn, it will turn’.  One of my teachers said this to me and I believe it to be true.  Sometimes nature knows best and there’s a really good reason the baby won’t turn.

Some encouraging facts to bear in mind….

- only 3% of babies remain in breech position at full term

- 50% of babies who are breech at 34 weeks will turn with no intervention

- 75% of babies who are breech at 34 weeks will turn with acupuncture, effectively doubling your odds

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Claire Dabreo is a seasoned acupuncturist who takes a whole body and mind approach to ensure optimum health and wellbeing.  Specialising in fertility, pregnancy and birth, Claire offers acupuncture to support a healthy, happy pregnancy and is experienced in working with pregnancy related issues.  She offers pre-birth acupuncture packages for the final weeks of pregnancy, as well as moxibustion for breech babies, and acupuncture for ‘late’ arrivals.

So if you are worried your baby is breech, or are looking for support from 36 weeks to help ensure your baby is in the optimal position for an effective labour and birth, consider acupuncture as one of the mothership’s most powerful, natural weapons.  For a directory of practitioners in London with specialist training go to www.ACTLondon.net

Some hospitals are re skilling their midwives by pulling together expert breech birth teams as more women want to to explore their choices for birth, breech presentation does not always mean an automatic cesarean section (if that is not what you choose). Further information on your choices around breech birth can be found at www.aims.org.uk.