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...
I get emails and phone calls all the time from gorgeous pregnant mamas, and so many of them are wondering the same thing.... is it too late for me to start yoga? I can hear the slight anxiety in their voices.
For many pregnant women, the time has flown by, particularly if they have other children at home and life is busy! They can be around 30 weeks pregnant sometimes before I talk to them. The very short answer is NO, it is never too late to start prenatal yoga in my opinion! Even if you are 38 weeks pregnant and you attend one class or practice Prenatal Yoga online once, you will always get some benefit from it.
In all my years teaching, I have yet to meet someone who didn't enjoy at least some aspect of the session! The very least you will get from yoga is a good stretch out, reduced back pain, and a blissful period of relaxation. So if I was 38 weeks pregnant, I'd certainly take that!
But just look at what a few weeks or months (or longer!) of yoga practice can do for...
I was reading an article recently by the fabulous Gail Tully, from Spinning Babies, and I had an 'aha' moment! More than 7 years ago while I was in labour with my 2nd son, I remember sitting on the edge of the bed, with my feet towards the floor. I kept arching my back and leaning backward during a few contractions, over about 30 minutes, just before he was born. I never really 'got' why I did that until now!
When I read the article...I'll explain it now in a second...I thought to myself, 'jeepers, I wonder if that what I was doing before Sebastian arrived'.
Gail's article was about Walcher’s Position. This can help to engage (engagement means the widest part of the baby’s head has dipped below the entrance to the pelvis (the brim)) a baby that is still high and hasn't entered the pelvis yet. The baby may be stuck at the brim or inlet (entrance) of the pelvis, and needs help to engage. Getting into Walcher's position, and staying there during...
On Sunday 25th March, I was blessed to deliver my third baby, a beautiful boy, into this world. I'm delighted to let you know that I had, once again, an active, short and kick a*s rockstar birth! It was fast and intense at times...so let me share my experience with you:)
On the days leading up to Nico's labour, I had been keeping myself really calm, happy and active. On the Saturday, I went for a lovely long walk, getting myself up a few gentle hills! That night, I went to bed after my nightly bath, super relaxed, and at 2am I woke up with a start! I jumped out of bed as my waters had started to release...but only a little bit. After a quick trip to the loo, pretty much immediately, some very mild contractions started, along with a bit of a 'show'.
Excitedly, I knew that the journey was starting, so I popped back into bed to get as much rest as I could. The surges were there, but were really mild and I nodded off every now and then. I...
As I approach my own third birth, my mind drifts back to the amazing interview I did with the incredible Dr. Sarah Buckley, during the Pregnancy Wellness & Empowering Birth Online Summit.
If you haven't heard of her before, Dr. Sarah Buckley is a world-renowned author of the internationally best-selling book Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering, and in the summit, she discusses how our hormones are programmed to enable us to have an empowering birth but also to instinctively care for and love our new little baby...among many other amazing benefits.
Sarah wrote an ebook (which I'd highly recommend you all read), and the opening line is: "Giving birth in ecstasy: this is our birthright and our body's intent". I asked her to explain what she meant by this. She started off by talking about how an ecstatic birth is 'Mother Nature's superb design' - it's hardwired into all mammals. Really, what follows is mindblowing. Sarah talks about how the orchestration of hormones during birth...
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...
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,...
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).
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...
I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Laura Carroll, the fabulous women's health Chartered Physiotherapist at Live Well Waterford Clinic. As the body changes dramatically during pregnancy, it can have such an impact on how a lady feels, sleeps and manages a normal daily routine.
As an anatomy nerd, I was so excited to get this chance to sit down and chat with Laura, to uncover some of the reasons why Pregnant women suffer from so many ailments like rib pain, leaking while sneezing or coughing, and pelvic pain. I found it so incredibly insightful and I know you will too! Even if you aren't suffering from any major ailments, Laura gives advice on how to prevent the onset of physical difficulties during pregnancy.
The main 4 things we should all be doing more of are:
We talk about all of them inside the interview!
As I feel so strongly about keeping physically...