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....
Ok, it's 5 months since you've had your gorgeous little one, but you feel your belly is still looking pregnant. I'm not talking about the natural excess weight that we all put on during pregnancy, but instead, this is a noticeable belly 'pooch' that is not in line with the rest of your body. You may also have accompanied back pain, and, or some mild incontinence when you laugh or sneeze. What is going on? Is this normal after having a baby?
The answer is NO, but it's extremely common. What you are actually dealing with here is a separation of the abdominal muscles which happen during pregnancy, the 6-pack muscles (Rectus Abdominis), which runs the whole length of the abdomen, from the middle of the ribcage through to the pubic bone. In pregnancy, particularly at the latter stages, the muscles are designed to stretch from the pressure of the growing baby. For many women, within the first 3 months they naturally knit back together, but for so many other women, they don't....
After the 30-week mark of your pregnancy, ask your doctor or midwife to check which position your baby is lying in. Most of the time, they'll be able to give you a very good indication of how your little one is positioned. Why is it important? Well, the quick answer is that once a baby is lying in a 'good' position, you will have a shorter and easier labour, as the narrowest part (smallest diameter) of baby's head is coming down through the pelvic rim, and is in great alignment.
What you are looking for ideally, is for baby to be lying with their back towards the front of mama's abdomen, and slightly to the left. The position where baby's body is lying with their back pointing forwards is called OA - Occiput Anterior. The occiput is the lowest bone in the back of the skull. It's important to also note that the cervix is positioned towards the back of the uterus - it's not just a straight chute to the exit ;) So when baby is lying in the OA position, particularly to the left,...
Many congratulations on your newest addition! No doubt your whole body is feeling awesome but rather exhausted, stiff, and full of tension in those early days after having baby.
Below are 5 things you can do to ease the discomfort. If you are still experiencing pain from a section or from your vaginal delivery, simply focus on the breathing exercise and those parts that bring you joy and no pain!
1. Belly Breathing – place two hands onto your belly and inhale fully and deeply so that your hands lift up gently, and breathe out long and slow. On the exhale, ensure you fully squeeze out every last bit of air, and draw the belly inwards. Breathe like this with the eyes closed for 5 minutes.
2. Engage and release your pelvic floor muscles. Take a breath in to start and as you exhale, contract the muscles, inhale to relax. You can do this alongside the Belly Breathing, and they can be done right after the day you give birth. It...
You’re 38 weeks pregnant, you feel enormous, in fact you feel a bit like a whale, a sweaty whale, a whale who can’t put her socks on anymore (if whales had feet), a whale who finds it really hard to turn in bed at night and keeps waking up to pee, a whale who adores her little bubba inside but can’t wait until the thing comes out…any of this sound familiar?
Even though pregnant mamas have been waiting patiently for the arrival of their precious bundle for 9 months, those last couple of weeks seem to take F.O.R.E.V.E.R. Mamas-to-be can tend to feel so impatient at this stage as obviously they feel big, uncomfortable, achy and blooming irritable. Sometimes this can lead to a negative mindset, and potential conversations with care givers about how to maybe get a ‘helping hand’ in the hope of starting labour early (this generally ain’t a good thing (unless medically necessary) and rarely works, particularly on first time mamas).
Being a pre-natal yoga teacher, I see lots of women whose babies are breech or are lying in a funky position. I find it really frustrating that their medical caregivers are giving little advice on how to try turn their baby naturally, before they get to the 38-week mark when most babies are less likely to turn, particularly for a first time mama. My mamas are faced with either a 'let's book you in for a section' chat, or 'we could do an ECV or a section'. However, shouldn't we be encouraging a natural solution first surely...and earlier on in the pregnancy?
For many of my mamas, at first they might be dubious to try some of my suggestions below, but they are willing to give anything a go to avoid major surgery if at all possible. I'm so thrilled to say that I have helped and advised countless mamas in their quest to 'flip their baby' around the 'right way'. So let's dig in and actually go through the different options. There is SO much you can try...
I recently wrote an article for the Huffington Post about Exercising in Early Pregnancy. It was always something I felt unsure and even nervous about, particularly having experienced 3 miscarriages.
As well as being a Prenatal & Postnatal Fitness Specialist, and Prenatal Yoga instructor, I'm a keen runner and exerciser in general. I've always had so many worries and queries myself, so I've gone through all the areas of concern and answered all the questions you could possibly have inside the blog!
You know that I'm going to reassure (and advise ;-)) you that you should be exercising, all throughout pregnancy, but there definitely are important things you need to know about.
So if you'd like to know more, please delve in...
If you have any questions at all, just comment below or get in touch on email or social media links.
Helen Plass is a Pre & Postnatal Fitness...