A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from a lovely lady who had really enjoyed the 5 Days to a Better Birth Challenge. She said she would love to hear more about my own births. Specifically, she wanted to know more detail about how I used my own techniques to birth, my three children, naturally, and if I had any tips about how to navigate the Irish hospital system.
So I thought it might be really useful to share more of that detail with you today. Make a cuppa and get cosy :-)
My first birth, like for most people, had the biggest impact on me and shaped my whole birthing experience. It was in 2009, and not much has changed in the Irish hospital system (apart from Covid!), in so far as the staff are blooming awesome, but sadly for them and for us, they are desperately understaffed and there is a growing tendency to treat birth as a heavily medicalized event. Therefore, giving birth in Ireland (and most of the Westernized world) can currently be a little tricky to...
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...
Is taking time out for yourself being selfish or is it an act of self-care/self-love? When you have a lot of other responsibilities and people depending on you, what is acceptable as loving yourself, and what is seen as selfish?
This is something that has personally come up recently and I'm surprised that it has surfaced. So I wanted to write down my thoughts and get your feelings too?
Whether you have young children, are pregnant, have a hectic work life, have family or carer commitments, or whatever it is, how do you find that balance? At what point is taking some time for yourself considered a necessity...or when does it tip over to be seen as a selfish act, that you are putting yourself first. Where do you draw the line?
Personally, I feel our parent's generation was not 'good' at this. When I look at my mom, my god she's a trojan...she rarely stops. She's amazing, phenomenal and at times I'm simply in awe of her! Is this to be admired, are we being soft, or...
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....
This morning as I was working, I came across an interview Tracy Donegan did with Gail Tully from Spinning Babies (both wonderful ladies doing wonderful things). And I was so thrilled to hear the conversation very quickly turn to the awesomeness of Prenatal Yoga. Then Gail spoke this magnificent line:
Pregnancy Yoga is the new childbirth education
I squealed in delight shouting 'thank you'! I don't know who I was talking to?! So what did she mean by that? Well, most ladies will come to me saying 'I've heard that yoga is good in pregnancy', or 'my doctor said it was good'. I'm just thrilled that this gorgeous lady is standing in front of me, not because it means dosh for me (you don't choose to become a yoga teacher if you want to be a millionaire!!!), but because she has just done the best thing she could possibly do for herself, her baby and her birthing experience. I don't say those words lightly. So why do the doctors and other professions...
On my first baby, when I found out I was pregnant, I stopped running in my first trimester. Why? Because having experienced a miscarriage a few months beforehand, there was just something in the back of my mind thinking "God I wonder does all this running and bobbing up and down somehow affect this tiny baby's ability to grow and cling on to life? So in essence, fear stopped me, and I guess also a lack of knowledge. I kept walking all the time throughout and eating healthily, but looking back, I really wished I kept my fitness levels higher.
Fitness and supporting women on their journey into motherhood are both big passions of mine. So, I committed to learning more about it. Learning the facts, the guidelines, the safety aspects - a couple of years ago, I completed my qualification as a Prenatal & Postnatal Fitness Specialist, (I already hold pre/postnatal yoga, Hatha Yoga, and several other qualifications in the related field).
In a nutshell, the question...
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...
When I set up NurtureMamas, my mission was to reach more women to help them feel strong, comfortable, fit and happy in Pregnancy, prepare for a Birth they could actually enjoy, and have a smooth and confident transition into Motherhood.
The Club, the monthly membership, is an extension of this, where I share all my knowledge, tips and experience with you to help you on your journey. It is personalised to specifically help you in the difference stages of Pregnancy and overcome the challenges you face.
If you ever:
* Experience Back Pain
* Think about your birth & feel anxious
* Have difficulty sleeping during your Pregnancy
* Wonder about the Pelvic Floor - what the heck it actually is & if you are exercises right?!
* Want to learn breathing techniques you can use during labour & birth
* Feel weak post-baby in your back, tummy muscles, or just desperately need a good stretch out?!
...then these are just some of the problems I will help you solve and improve.
This situation has happened countless times in my classes:
Mama says (with a very concerned facial expression) "my consultant says I'm having a big baby and I might need a section". One of the most disempowering lines a pregnant woman can hear, in my view, when they had never previously considered anything but a straight forward vaginal birth. Basically the doctor is saying, 'love, your body has grown a baby that's too big for you and you won't be capable of birthing it yourself'. I find it very frustrating, as so many times the comments are not based on facts. What doctors tend to be concerned about is that the baby gets 'too big for the woman's body' or may get 'stuck' in the birth canal, leading to a traumatic birth for both the baby and the mother. A valid concern certainly.
But looking at the facts, the actual evidence does not support the theory. So who exactly is 'at risk' of having a 'big baby'? There are some health conditions and your own birth history which can...
During my training for the Dublin City Marathon, I go for a long run on the weekends. This weekend, I wrecked my hip. During the week, I could feel it niggle so I rested, but after 8 miles on my long run, I had to pull up, make the call and get a lift home. I'm very peeved about it, but also, it actually happened on the other hip the last time I trained for the marathon. As with all challenges in life, I need to listen to the lesson in this! I'm sharing this as I know it will help a lot of women, regardless if you are pregnant, had a baby a few months or a few years ago!
I know myself I need to incorporate more glute (butt) strengthening work into my routine. I'm fairly flexible, so often what happens in the body is if someone is really flexible in some part of their body, they need to build strength or stability. And the reverse is also true. You'll often see very strong guys in a yoga class who are really inflexible. Finding the balance is key, particularly as you increase...