Ah, lovely hormones! You are probably sick to the teeth hearing about hormones during your pregnancy. They seem to be the answer to all our ails...morning sickness...hormones; constipation...hormones; pelvic pain...hormones! However, what if I told you that understanding the role of hormones during your labour and birth can have a profound impact on your birthing experience. That's a pretty bold statement! So let's delve right in and discover how to make your labour smoother, and your birth easier.
There are 3 main hormones involved in the labour journey and they are oxytocin, adrenalin, and your endorphins.
The hormone of love! Oxytocin is a magic hormone and plays a crucial role in the birthing journey. In birth, oxytocin production increases as labour progresses, but interestingly it is also released during sexual activity, male & female orgasm, breastfeeding, and is also responsible for uterine contractions, and protects against postpartum hemorrhage. So it...
Good question! It's one I get a lot :)
So I would break this into 4 areas - Physical, Mental, Breath and Community.
I'm not a believer in doing very little exercise just because you are pregnant. In fact, if you exercise for about 30 minutes a day, it is proven to help you have a more comfortable pregnancy, a shorter and therefore easier labour, and a faster recovery. So a 'shorter and therefore easier labour' should bring music to your ears mamas-to-be! Focusing specifically on labour and birth, prenatal yoga will help you stay strong, toned and open, therefore making your labour easier and more manageable, and helping you have the strength and stamina required to keep you upright for as long as possible. Sometimes, and of course not all the time, labour can be a long process particularly for first-time mamas, whose bodies haven't gone through the experience of childbirth before. The majority of first-time mamas who come to my classes in Dublin, can be quite surprised...
Ok, so you’ve had your darling baby but holy God your back is wrecked! Now you are constantly picking baba up, bending forward, feeding, rounding your back and probably are noticing that your core tummy muscles have somewhat disappeared. What can you do?
Let’s not panic and recognize first off just what an amazing body you have and that we need to treat it with some respect! So slowly slowly is the name of the game.
The strength of your back depends on so many things – how your pregnancy was, number of pregnancies you have had, how much weight you put on, how strong your core muscles were pre & during your pregnancy, how fit you were and are now, and how long it has been since you gave birth.
In order to start back exercising, make sure you have GP clearance. If you have suffered from any form of Pelvic Disorder during pregnancy or have any Pelvic Trauma post birth, you must go to a Physiotherapist before you start exercising again. Also if you feel...
In part 1 of our discussion about the Pelvic Floor, we talked about the anatomy and what exactly the Pelvic Floor is. We discussed its role and detailed what could happen if you have weakness or injury to the pelvic floor, and I gave you suggestions on what to do to strengthen it. So if you haven't read Part 1 yet, you can catch it here.
In part 2 of this blog, we'll go into more detail about what to do in those first few days after having baby, how to heal the pelvic floor post-delivery, and when you can recommence exercise.
What to do in those first few days after having baby:
After you have had a vaginal delivery, your body is tired, your pelvic floor muscles have been stretched and you need to do one very important thing...REST! 2-3 days of full rest is extremely important to help your body begin the recovery and healing process. Some bruising and slight tearing or laceration to the vagina and surrounding tissues can be pretty normal. You will most likely feel...
One of my gorgeous pregnant ladies in class once said to me "I don't need to worry about doing pelvic floor exercises now cause I'm having a section, right?"
There is this myth that Pregnant Women don't need to get their pelvic floor in order before, or during pregnancy, just after the main event. Couple this with the common 'preggo stance' of an overarching low back, where you stick your belly out in front and backside behind, you are setting yourself up for abdo-pelvic-back disaster once baby arrives!
My lovely lady was also carrying twins, so I'll tell you what I told her:
First off, let's talk anatomy - what is the 'pelvic floor'?
It is a large hammock of muscles which run from the tail bone at the back to the pubic bone at the front. There are two layers of muscles which are intertwined around and within each other. They control each of the 3 openings in women, and two in men. The pelvic floor muscles also serve as a passageway for baby during a vaginal delivery. To keep the...
When you were pregnant, all your energy, thoughts and resources went into feeling as good as you possibly could, and into your impending birth! Your mind wasn't that focused on how you were going to manage life once baby arrived. No doubt you thought you were going to sail through this thing called motherhood. You bought all the gear...you looked excitedly at the buggy system you had just invested massively in. You knew that some babies could be 'tough going', but yours would be cool. You and your partner would be able to deal with the baby's arrival. You were looking forward to spending those first couple of weeks together as a new family going out for brunches, little walks and spending quality time together. The change in your relationship would be for the better, and 6 months off work seemed like great craic...sure how would you even fill your days? Think of all those lunches and coffees you could have, right?!
Well, congratulations my dear, this is super exciting! It's what you've been waiting for, for 9 months.
Very often, early labour can be challenging to identify, particularly if you have been experiencing Braxton-Hicks like tightenings for a few weeks. One of the easiest ways of distinguishing true labour from this early stop-start labour, is when you get into a warm bath, the surges won't really get any more intense or increase in length. Any surge, tightening or contraction will all be helping your body to get ready to birth your baby, so think on it as a very positive and exciting event!
So if you think you are in this early stage of labour, here are some things to do:
Quite the controversial topic, I admit! But with more and more women becoming more and more overweight, it's really important that we address it so we can take control of our health and understand the impact it has on ourselves and also on our children. A recent study by the World Health Organisation forecasts that by 2030, 57% of Irish women and 48% of Irish men will be obese. I know most women understand they don't actually have to eat for two during pregnancy, but there is confusion over exactly how much extra you need to eat, and how much weight you should be putting on during each trimester. So I'm going to do my best to answer all those questions now.
What happens to our metabolism when we are pregnant?
During the first half of pregnancy, when baby’s growth is limited in size, the mother’s metabolism is in an anabolic phase, meaning it is building itself up. Glycogen stores (energy storage) are increased in the liver and the muscle, and protein synthesis is...
Congratulations Mama, you are almost there! Within a number of days, you are going to be snuggling with your beautiful little one, breathing in that gorgeous new baby smell :)
That is exactly what I want you to focus on. It's generally at this stage when heavily pregnant women who are right near, or have passed, their 'estimated due date', get understandably really frustrated. They just want this baby outta here! I totally understand, I do.
However, I'd like you to flip your mindset for a moment, and instead of thinking negatively, and feeling incredibly impatient, I'd love you to start looking forward to your baby's birth. Understand that within days, or weeks, you ARE going to be a new mama. Take a moment to bring your hands down onto your belly, and take a big deep breath in, and a very long exhale. Do that three times, with a half smile on your face and repeat quietly 'my healthy baby is coming'. Understand that right now, baby is doing exactly what baby is meant...
If someone told me when I was pregnant, that the way I sit or stand can affect the length of my labour...I'd be listening to them with each cell of my body! And that is what I'm here to share with you today.
As well as the type of labour you could have, your posture alone can also have an unbelievable influence on the levels of comfort / pain in your pregnant (and postnatal) body.
So let's talk about labour first. Having a short and active labour (which is what we all want, right?!) is a bit like a jigsaw puzzle, requiring different pieces to slot in nicely together. Your posture and lifestyle during pregnancy is one of those crucial puzzle pieces. It's never talked about, which blows my mind, so let's get into it.
Something as simple as slouching back into your chair in the evenings, during those last important few weeks of your pregnancy, can have a huge impact on how your baby lies inside you. Our lifestyle does NOT encourage baby to get into a 'good' birthing position....