Don’t Buy Her Flowers!

When my second baby was 2 weeks old and my husband had gone back to work, a very lovely friend left me a huge lasagne, a big loaf of sour dough bread, and some home made brownies on my door step with a note. It read ‘Dear Clemmie you’re probably feeling exhausted and the thought of cooking dinner tonight fills you with dread. Here’s some yummy grub to keep you going, no need to call and thank speak soon xx.’

It was such a kind and thoughtful present I burst into tears. This friend understood exactly what a new mum really needs, not another teddy for the baby, a hand wash only cashmere baby cardigan or even another bunch of flowers. New mums need things for them, survival packs, something that says well done for pushing a human out of your vagina now here are some treats for you!

Steph recently started Don’t Buy Her Flowers, selling thoughtful gift packages for new mums with the awesome addition of COOK food vouchers so new parents can stock up their freezer with proper meals they don’t have to prepare.

Me in first week

She says ‘I started it mostly because I think receiving an additional thing to care for when you’ve had a baby is, frankly, a bit bonkers and yet 96% of new mums receive flowers. I think women deserve to feel a bit cared for after having a baby because those first months are tough. New mothers, whether they realise it or not (and unfortunately I think we’re too busy punishing ourselves or feeling guilty about something to realise it) give a lot. We give over our bodies, our minds, our relationships and for a while for most of us, we lose a bit of ourselves. I don’t want to whinge about it – it’s not to say my children aren’t worth it, or I would do it differently if I had my time again and all those things women jump to say if they feel they’re caught having a moan about having babies. But I think it’s tough. Maybe because we don’t all have families around us, maybe because there is so much information available we can read something that tells us we are making a complete shitting mess of it. Maybe because unlike generations before us, we have expectations of ourselves to be out there and earning and creating and doing something brilliant. All while looking hot and in control and with a baby attached to us in some sort of sling.

I certainly didn’t feel hot or in control in the first months after having a baby. Actually that’s not entirely true – I constantly had a sweat on when breastfeeding, but you know what I mean. In those early stages, it’s all about someone else and I often got to 5pm before realising I hadn’t yet cleaned my teeth. For most of us, for the first time in our lives we’re completely at the beck and call of another person, doing something we’ve never done before, while handling the crackers hormones and for many the physical repercussions of birth.

When I had my first baby, I received eight bunches of flowers. I worked in advertising and the agencies sent these lovely bouquets that at any other time I would have felt hugely grateful for, but I didn’t have the energy to do anything with them and only had two small vases, so they left me feeling a bit weepy. Which in turn made me feel more weepy – what kind of woman was I if the kind act of sending me flowers left me feeling distressed?

After that, when a friend had a baby I sent them a little package of nice things for them and if they lived near, I cooked them something and left it on their doorstep. These friends sent the loveliest messages about how wonderful it was that someone had thought of them. I realised that it wasn’t only me that a) got a lot of flowers and b) found the new mum bit hard. At this point, I returned to work part-time after both babies and found the juggle tough. The commute felt like wasted time, the job felt ‘different’ (or I did) and then there’s the guilt when I got the inevitable calls that one of the kids was poorly. My career to this point had been managing multiple agency and internal teams to deliver national campaigns, and I’d loved it. If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s multi-tasking. And, if I’m honest, being a bit bossy. Once the seed had been planted that maybe this new mum gift thing could be a business, I couldn’t get it out of my head and everything I’d learnt before now felt like it was going to help me actually do this.

My love of all things ‘Sisterhood’ started because one of the things that helped me when I had my babies was support from other women. The ones that reassured me it was ok to feel a bit bonkers, and that breastfeeding can be a bit hard, and that it was all going to get easier.  My mum – a midwife and having had four babies herself – helped me when Buster was a few weeks old when I rang her crying, overcome with tiredness and feeling unsure I was getting anything right. She told me to just STOP. I didn’t have to do something every day in those first months. I didn’t have to meet up with people and trek around worrying that I was going to be late for a feed but not wanting to cut everyone else’s walk short. The baby didn’t need ‘stimulating’ at a few weeks old when he had my face to look at. Heck, some days I didn’t have to get dressed. It is such a short period of time in the grand scheme of things. On the days when everything is going to plan, get out there just try not to overdo it. When it’s not, pull the drawbridge up and do whatever you can to rest because the world will feel like a brighter place when you do. When you have a baby you have the best excuse in the world not to turn up to everything, it’s just unfortunate that most of us don’t realise that until later. None of it matters. Very little is more important than you being as rested as is possible for someone getting by on probably not a lot of sleep.

care-package-removed esentials-package-open-1 the-date-night-in-2

The packages I’ve put together are essentially to try and encourage that idea – for a mum to stop and take a few minutes to herself or with her partner. We launched with three packages; The Care Package, The Essentials and The Date Night In. COOK food vouchers can be added to any package, which also make it a great gift if you want to spend a bit more or buy a group present. I don’t know any new parents that wouldn’t appreciate food they don’t have to prepare. Whether it’s for someone having their first baby or their sixth, life is different to before and everyone will need a bit of time to adjust.

I can’t tell you how this will work out as it’s only been a couple of weeks. It’s started brilliantly and the feedback, from the quality of the products and the packaging to recipients weeping when they open their gift (in a good way!) has been so lovely to receive. There are partners, friends and grandparents that feel a bit useless at times and our website enables them to buy a gift that offers mums some TLC. Flowers say ‘I’m thinking of you’. A gift package from Don’t Buy Her Flowers says ‘I’m thinking of you, if you’re finding it hard it’s OK and I hope this makes you feel a bit better’.

Check out Don’t Buy Her Flowers website, where you’ll also find the Sisterhood (and all that) blog. You can follow Steph on Twitter @StephieDoug and on Facebook.

If that hasn’t got you nodding along and remembering how you really felt after having a baby I don’t know what planet you’re on. We have one lucky reader the chance to win a Date Night In with Champagne for someone that needs it, which could be a friend or yourself if you’re in need! All you have to do is tell me what was the most ridiculous present you got after having your baby. It can be something totally impractical, totally hideous or just totally bizarre. Leave your answer in the comments box. The winner will be revealed next Friday. Good luck!

Pregnancy Diary – 37 weeks

10301514_10152524118797472_8889592348655767233_n

This series of pregnancy diary entries are written by Siobhan, mum of one and now almost ready to meet her second baby due in 3 weeks time! Siobhan’s first birth 7 years ago left her feeling like she would never be able to have a natural birth again, but with a bit of prep work she is now preparing for a home water birth. Here she explains how her views have changed about birth, and hopefully install some positivity into any of you who may be in a similar situation.

‘I remember attending a series of ante-natal classes before my son was born and one being called ‘complications in labour’. The midwife assured us that we were unlikely to experience any of these complications and if we were unlucky enough to, then it would just be the one. Nobody would experience all of the complications discussed. Well, my birth ran like a checklist of everything covered that day, bar the c-section, which I narrowly avoided (my son was delivered vaginally on the operating table in theatre, after I’d consented to an emergency secton).

Fast-forward 8 years and I’m feeling a little older, not so much wiser, but certainly less nervous and more confident in my (now surely looser?) cervix’s ability to dilate spontaneously. Also having educated myself through attending some amazing hypnobirthing classes (more on that later), I now believe a lot of what happened with my son’s birth was due to a domino effect of fear, tension, pain, fetal distress and intervention, a pattern which then just continued throughout my 2-day Syntocinon- induced labour.

So determined to make this birth experience memorable for all the right reasons, my partner and I signed up for hypnobirthing classes with Hollie of London Hypnobirthing, which we attended last month, and booked in with the homebirth team at West Middlesex hospital. Clemmie (founder of this blog) deserves a big shout out here as she encouraged me to sign up for a homebirth and I’ve not looked back since. The quality of care is superior times a million (!!) and most importantly it just feels right for me.

I used to journey to the hospital, wait 40+ minutes in the waiting room, often with my impatient child, finally see an unknown-to-me midwife for a quick 5-minute check-up and then leave fraught, having forgotten to ask most of the things I’d wanted to know (sound familiar?). I now have a lovely midwife called Natalie who comes round to my house, we have a cuppa, she spends at least an hour with me, responds to text messages with a kiss and generally feels like someone who is my friend and who genuinely cares about me and my birth. I cannot rate the service highly enough.

I will admit when I initially signed up for a homebirth I was thinking I’ve got nothing to lose as I can always change my mind closer to the time. However I am now so committed to my beautiful, romantic, waterbirth at home that I can no longer remember a single reason why I thought hospital might have been a better idea. How things have changed!

But however calm and tranquil I’m imagining the birth will be, the reality right now is quite different! Almost 37 weeks pregnant, still working full time, juggling hypnobirthing homework with birth pool research and with outstanding ‘to do’ lists everywhere, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. But as we prepare to meet our water baby, Clemmie has invited me to share with you what’s going through my head and my heart and what we’re doing to make our birth a positive one.’

photo 1 (3)

Next week Siobhan reveals how she preparing her body and mind with hypnobirthing techniques for birth and why it’s always worth doing a ‘dry run’ for the birthing pool!

Birth Story Of The Week – Alexis and Coco

IMG_4031_smq1
At 35 weeks pregnant I was starting to get excited about my first baby, I was convinced the baby would be late. My due date was 16th December and the pessimist in me was fully expecting to be in hospital on Christmas day. But at 35 weeks I got sick – I thought it was the Noro virus that was going around so I didn’t think too much of it, but when I was still having cramping pains a few days later I took myself off to visit the GP. He assured me that I was ok – nothing to worry about… so I carried on having hot baths in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep due to the pain on top of my bump. During the next week I went to my first NCT class, had my ‘baby shower’ afternoon in the pub with my friends and started training up my maternity leave replacement at work. So after what felt like a very long week we went to the hospital for our 36 week check. Hugh was hungover* and I was trying to feel positive after my exhausting week, I remember leaving work and meeting Hugh to get the tube – he suggested we walk to the hospital as it would ‘good for me’… little did he know how ill I was!
The midwife checked my urine and my blood pressure, not giving too much away she said she’d get the doctor to check me over – suddenly I was being found a bed “better stay in for monitoring” was the gist. I remember feeling surprisingly calm about it all, I think as I had been feeling so ill there was a little relief that the pain wasn’t ‘normal’, I had been dreading another 4-5 weeks of it.
The next morning my consultant came to see me. I remembered being told who my consultant was at my very first appointment: “If things go well, you’ll probably never meet your consultant” I was told. Well, here she was at 8am on a Tuesday morning telling me “if you’ve got any plans for the rest of this week I suggest you cancel them…you’ve got to have this baby soon”
Now in my mind, it’s Tuesday, this week – so Saturday… I might have the baby on Saturday… or even next Monday? does that count as this week as it’s Tuesday now? Well that wasn’t quite how things panned out. Hugh left to go home and get some stuff but 5 minutes later the consultant was back at my bedside asking where my husband was and telling me to get him back here. By the time Hugh had got back to the hospital, I was already being wheeled up to the labour ward. At 11am I was in a high dependency suite with a doctor about to break my waters with what looked suspiciously like a crochet hook.
I don’t know at what point the words ‘pre-eclampsia’ or more specifically HELLP syndrome were used, but throughout the whole process I was kept well informed, my questions were answered, I had truly amazing care and I felt very calm and surprisingly in control. We hadn’t written a birth plan – I didn’t have too many expectations of labour, to be honest I’d probably tried not to think about it – I’m the very opposite of my friend who was also pregnant at the time and was arming herself with every bit of information she could: ‘you wouldn’t run a marathon without doing training’ was her stance… well not for me.
Once my waters had been broken I was hooked up to the drugs to start my contractions – a hefty dose of syntocinon and I was in having regular contractions by 1pm. My body was ready to be rid of this baby!
As things started well the consultant was happy to give me a chance to have a vaginal delivery. Because the levels of platelets in my blood had dropped to a dangerously low level if a c-section was necessary I would be having it under general anaesthetic. I really really didn’t want a c-section, however bad the pain was I wanted to be conscious when my baby was born and I wanted Hugh to be able to be there too. However because the chances of having to have a Caesarian were high I had to stay nil-by-mouth. Also my body was basically leaking fluid into my organs so I wasn’t allowed to drink anything either. I had a catheter attached and all fluid going into my body (in drug form) and coming out was being closely monitored, as was my blood pressure which was seriously high…
Between 1pm and 6pm things progressed quite well, I knew being hooked up to so many machines wasn’t ideal but I just concentrated on the contractions which were regular as clockwork. Hugh worked with me and we really felt like a team – we had this strange little routine going where he would put his arm above my head as a contraction started so I could reach up and hold it while I breathed through it… but at some point in the afternoon I also started on the Pethidine. Ah, I know it’s not right… but it was soooo good! I was quite enjoying the drowsy effect.
We also had a visitor in the form of my brother in law who came by having been dispatched off to buy some essentials – we had nothing, no hospital bag, no baby clothes. Nada. Poor single twenty something having to locate maternity pads in Tesco. Meanwhile my Mum went late-night shopping in Mothercare instructing some poor assistant to pick out everything required to clothe and care for an early baby, sex unknown.
Sometime around 6pm after 5hrs of contractions it was decided that the fluid monitoring wasn’t really working, so it was I had to go to theatre to have a central line put in. This is basically a pipe inserted into your neck so that drugs can go straight into your main artery and blood can more easily be taken out. Hugh got to have a little break (and eat some food without making me super-jealous) while I was taken off to theatre. The midwife stayed with me and helped me to stay as still as possible through the contractions while I had a local anaesthetic and the tube inserted into my neck. I just remember looking at the clock and thinking “I should be at my NCT class now… not here in labour”.
Out of theatre things continued to progress well and I was finally allowed a few shards of ice… I was begging Hugh to give me more but the midwife who was with us was pretty strict with him! By midnight I was 5cm dilated and thinking that I only had a couple of hours to go, but at 2am I was only 6cm dilated. I was getting tired and the c-section threat was hanging over me. I felt like I’d come such a long way and I really didn’t want to have a general anaesthetic.
We were having constant monitoring and there was a midwife permanently at the end of the bed – often writing notes; I kept wondering what an earth she could be writing – eventually at about 5am in the morning after 14 hrs of regular contractions I’d got to 10cm dilated. It was time to push. I really cannot remember much – I was quite spaced out and so thirsty… I’d stared fantasising about a cold coke. Suddenly Marcia the midwife wasn’t writing any more and the room that had up to then been dimly lit and quiet was bright and buzzing with people. As my blood pressure rose they weren’t taking any risks so the stirrups came out and were fitted on to the bed.
Coco was born on the dot of 6am by forceps. I didn’t hold her straight away – I remember thinking she looked like a big blue slug! (I blame the drugs.) Hugh suddenly had to jump to it and find clothes, he got a telling off for not having a long-sleeved vest. Meanwhile of course I still wasn’t entirely finished… but the placenta was delivered pretty swiftly and suddenly I was holding this tiny tiny creature in my arms.
I remember feeling quite giggly, in that way you sometimes do in a crisis (or is that just me)? I couldn’t believe I was a Mummy, that this perfectly formed little baby was ours. Over the next few days I realised more and more how ill I’d been, I had more tests and a blood transfusion, I felt ridiculously weak but despite it all I think Coco’s early arrival was the best thing to happen to us. We took it in our stride, because we had no choice and that kind of set the tone, parenthood began.
* He’d had a Dad baby shower thing… is that normal!?… the morning afterwards my urine was looking a bit dark and I asked him to take a look – hungover Hugh couldn’t take it; I think it nearly made him throw up!

Birth Story Of The Week – Imogen and Fin

I have always only thought positively about what my births would be. I am surrounded by a cascade of medical interventions and hospital births as part of my job as a neonatal nurse, this medical picture of birth is my everyday. However I knew that this was not how I wanted to birth my babies. I knew I wanted something else but wasn’t sure what that was. Don’t get me wrong, I did worry and was concerned enough that things might “go wrong” that I choose to have my birth in a hospital, but I was determined to labor my way, safely, with as little intervention as possible.

I heard about Hypnobirthing when I was first pregnant, the idea that we could put ourselves in control of our birth and that breathing, relaxation, visualisation and the power of positive thinking would enhance our delivery seemed right up our street. This was what I had been looking for, now I had a name for it. HYPNOBIRTHING. Having the support of my partner in the role of “gatekeeper” throughout, protecting my birthing space & advocating for us when I was otherwise engaged, really appealed to me. “We are in this together”, we can do this.

This was back in 2008 & hypnobirthing was not as visible as it is today. I looked into Hypnobirthing and discovered that we could go on a course, so Chris & I signed up to a weekend course. It was everything we had hoped & we left feeling more confident & relaxed about our labor & delivery. We discovered the power of breathing, positive imagery and relaxation & Chris became familiar with the process of birth & how he could advocate for the birth we wanted & protect our environment.

I was excited and tried to share this with my colleagues but a lot of them thought I was naive & that it was unrealistic to think that I could birth my baby without intervention and pain relief. I stubbornly ignored them & continued to share my views & quietly got on with being pregnant. We listened to the CD, practiced guided imagery, wrote our script & waited, not very patiently, for our baby to arrive.

Because of what I do I was nervous about going over my “due date” so had agreed with my midwife to have a sweep on my due date. I had this with no noticeable effect. So we booked another for 6 days later. On Monday 21 July 2008, we caught the tube to the hospital, with just my handbag.

We were expecting to just have a sweep & then go home…

I was examined by a Dr & told that I was 3cm dilated, really, did that mean I was in labor & didn’t know it? I was given another sweep, which was VERY uncomfortable, and told that I was going to be admitted when a bed became available. How exciting, today we were having our baby.

Chris went back home to get our things & I went for a walk along the South Bank. Some time between walking & getting a bed my contractions started, quietly. I was confident in my breathing & had been listening to my CD and practicing my relaxation but I really wanted Chris with me.

I walked into the hospital at 12ish, was introduced to my midwife and settled into my room. I turned off the lights moved all the unnecessary equipment out of the way, drew the curtain around the resucitaire & kept moving around the room. All the while my contractions were continuing, but they were nothing I couldn’t handle. When Chris arrived back with all our things I was in the bathroom, in the dark focusing on my breathing.

At some point it became necessary for me to have continual monitoring, my midwife was great, still letting me move around & position myself where I felt comfortable. She never interrupted me to “assess” me or tell me to get on the bed. This allowed me to focus on my breathing & use the hypnobirthing techniques to relax and stay calm. This gave me confidence & kept the atmosphere in the room relaxed and I felt safe & supported. In the end I was most comfortable kneeling on the bed, resting between contractions. The time between contractions didn’t seem long at all. And then 4 hours and 45 mins later after not much pushing, but a very memorable “Ring of Fire” Fin was born. I helped to pull him out (catch him as he fell out with the help of gravity) and then held him skin-to-skin, uninterrupted.

IMG_1247_1 IMG_1252 IMG_1261 IMG_1280

AMAZING. He was here! Weighing 3.4kgs. Love him.

I can honestly say I loved every second of his birth (I know, my labor was relatively quick). I was able to have him with no pain relief (not even a paracetemol), have skin to skin straight away, establish breastfeeding & go home 6 hours after he was born. At no stage was I scared of the pain (this was true throughout my pregnancy) I knew what that pain was and what it meant and that it was bringing my baby closer to me. I have no doubt that my amazing labor & delivery was directly related to the skills & confidence I had in my body’s abilities that I gained from hypnobirthing & I don’t hesitate to share this with anyone who will listen (and those that don’t).

Calm Birthing

Let me tell you a little story. When I was a student midwife 10 years ago I was looking after a woman with my mentor who has having a ‘hypnobirth’. This term was a bit alien to me and it certainly didn’t sit well with some midwives and doctors. ‘Surges how ridiculous’ laughed some members of staff in the staff room at hand over. ‘Labour is painful there’s no way she can think it isn’t going to be’ remarked the anaesthetist. I was young and inexperienced but trusted my mentor as we continued to support this woman and partner through their birth.

Skip forward 9 years and Hypnobirthing is something I’ve seen become more and more popular in birth. It is single-handedly changing birth in more ways than anything I’ve seen in a long time. I witnessed women birth their babies so peacefully that I didn’t even think they were in labour. I’ve seen women had to change their plan from a home birth to a hospital birth because of complications but remain calm, and in control through the transition. I’ve also supported women who have been so traumatised by their first birth who have used hypnobirthing techniques to over come their fears and gone on to have wonderful second time births. At no point did I hear any whale music or see Paul McKenna appear with a pocket watch. No vagina whispering or an incense stick in sight.  And on a personal note I had an induction with my second daughter, yes it was a water birth but it was horribly painful, sometimes violent and I felt at times totally out on control. If only I learnt some hypnobirthing techniques to help me ‘let go’ of that fear.

So here is Hollie from London Hypnobirthing and co founder of The Calm Birth School to put all those myths aside about hypnobirthing and explain about her new exciting adventure!

TCBS_white square philippajamesphotography-1083

What is The Calm Birth School?
The Calm Birth School is the world’s first hypnobirthing video program. It’s a four-week antenatal home study program – combining the core principles of hypnobirthing and active birth – training women and their birth partners to create calm, joyful births from anywhere in the world.

How did the idea of a video course come about?
A lot of women will find hypnobirthing classes near them, and we both love teaching women face-to-face and have been doing so for a number of years. However, in this time we’ve had lots of enquiries from all around the world from women who can’t find a practitioner near them, or women who don’t have the time to travel to a weekly class. We have responded to this need with The Calm Birth School home study program, by bringing our tried and tested techniques to you, so that you can enjoy the benefits of hypnobirthing in a way that suits your lifestyle and location.

Hollie, can you tell us a bit more about you and Suzy?
For a start, we’re every day mums on a mission. We don’t knit our own houmous or henna lotus flowers on our bellies. We like a G&T and the odd round of disco dancing, and yes, we sometimes pick Wotsits out of our kids’ noses. In fact before having our own children, our lives were far removed from breathing techniques and relaxation, as we both had busy careers in the media and design industries. For both of us though, having our own positive, euphoric, comfortable births (which believe me, I didn’t think was possible!) made us want to spread the word of hypnobirthing and stop women dreading birth. From that, we have been independently running our own hypnobirthing classes in London since 2011, and have now joined forces to create The Calm Birth School – providing a holistic and flexible approach to women’s antenatal care. I live in West Dulwich with my husband and son, Oscar, and Suzy lives down the road in Ladywell with her husband and two children, Caesar and Coco.

H&Sphilippajamesphotography-1011

A lot of people are put off by the term hypnobirthing, what would you say to that?
In creating The Calm Birth School we wanted to dispel the myths of what people think hypnobirthing is. Yes it sounds weird, but drawing on our professional experience of working with hundreds of pregnant couples, we’ve been able to tailor make our own program and cut out the fluff. No vagina-whispering, kumbaya-singing, goddess-channeling nonsense. Just scientifically-proven calming and relaxation techniques, so that you know what is happening in your body and how to work with it.

You sound pretty fired up about this.
You can say that again! We know birth can be different to what the media is intent on showing us. We know it can be comfortable and calm and we know birth is changing. Suzy and I are totally committed to creating positive births all over the world. We’re on a mission to reduce the birthing horror stories, one informed woman at a time, and that’s why we’ve created this virtual course – so women and their partners can empower themselves and learn these incredible techniques without taking their slippers off.

Is it just designed for those planning home births?
No way. Whether you’re planning a hospital, home, or midwife-led birth, The Calm Birth School will guide you and your partner through our unique method for creating a smooth birth experience…all from the ease of your armchair. So that for the rest of your pregnancy, you’ll feel fearless, not freaked out! Whilst we love a home birth, we understand that they’re not for everyone, and we believe that the best place for you to birth is where you feel the most safe, comfortable and private. Your birth environment is paramount to a great birth, but we will educate you on your choices and teach you how to create your nest wherever you choose to birth.

Is the course only for first time mums?
Absolutely not. The Calm Birth School home study program is for everyone. Whether it’s your first baby or your fifth, our unique program will equip you with the tools for the empowering birth experience you deserve. In fact, our techniques have been proven to help mums who’ve had previous traumatic birth experiences overcome these to change their birth this time around.

So how exactly does this video course work?
Well unlike all of your other pregnancy-related appointments, we come to you! The Calm Birth School program is a video course that will be delivered to your inbox once a week for four weeks. That’s 12 short videos split into 4 classes, so that learning the secrets of positive birth can fit into the nooks and crannies of your day. And to make sure you don’t miss out on the benefits of a face-to-face class, you’ll feel completely taken care of in our private Facebook group where you can connect with other pregnant couples, and with our bi-weekly teleconferences.

Does The Calm Birth School guarantee a pain-free birth?
No, we can’t make claims quite that bold. Birth is a natural physiological event and as such there are many affecting factors that can be out of our control. What we can guarantee is that you will feel more prepared for a better birth, and a positive birth experience. In our eyes, hypnobirthing is about controlling what you can, and letting go of what you can’t.

We will teach you some amazing techniques that will stimulate the production of your body’s natural pain-relieving hormones, but as with anything, the more practice you put in, the more effective these techniques will be on your baby’s birth day. That said, in our experience, around 76% of the mums we’ve taught have given birth with NO pain relief whatsoever.

We are so excited about the launch of The Calm Birth School, that for the next 14 days we have a very special gift for you. We are giving away FREE hypnobirthing classes that you can enjoy in the comort of your own home. Click on this link to claim your classes today!http://bit.ly/freehypnobirthing

Essential Vitamins and Minerals For Your Baby – Guest Post

fruit and veg

Eating a healthy diet helps one derive all the minerals and vitamins that the body needs. There is a direct link between the food we eat and our body health. Proper nutrition equals good health. This is common during pregnancy since effects of proper nutrition can be seen both in the mother and the baby during and even after pregnancy.

The following are the essential Vitamins and Minerals during pregnancy:

Iron

Pregnancy can exhaust a mother’s iron stores. Iron is a vital nutrient since it’s used in formation of hemoglobin in the red blood cells of the mother and the infant. Its intake increases with pregnancy due to increase in blood volume as the pregnancy progresses. – Iron can be obtained from plant and animal products. Absorption of iron is better when taken from animal foods as compared to plant foods Red meat contains the most source of iron as compared to other animal foods such as chicken and fish Iron can also be obtained from dark green vegetables, legumes and cereals. -Taking a glass of fruit juice or food rich in vitamin C after a meal containing iron nutrients increases the absorption of iron into the body as compared to taking a cup of tea or coffee which in fact reduces iron absorption. – Iron deficiency leads to anemia which can result in a. premature birth; b. low birth weight; c. weakness; and d. over-tiredness of mothers.

Vitamin D

In pregnancy, vitamin D do not only strengthen a mother’s bones but also provides the baby with vitamin D nutrients which are very important during the first trimester. A mother should take at least 10mcg of vitamin D in a day. Vitamin D also helps regulate the level of calcium and phosphorus in the body hence leading to strong bones and teeth both to the mother and the baby. -The best source of vitamin D is direct sunlight. However, other foods such as breakfast cereals, eggs, fish liver oil, fatty fish and fortified milk contain vitamin D. -Lack of sufficient vitamin D leads to a. softened baby bones; b. rickets; c. retardation; d. skeletal deformation; and e. likelihood of C-section for mothers.

Calcium

Calcium is important in strengthening a baby’s bones and teeth. It’s also important in development of the nervous system and in muscle contraction in the fetus. On the other hand, it strengthens a mother’s bones, teeth, improves blood clotting and reduces chances of hypertension. Moreover, it’s a natural pain relief during labor for mothers. -Dairy products and fish with edible bones contain a lot of calcium. Breakfast cereals, dried fruits and leafy vegetables also contain calcium nutrients. -Calcium intake levels increases with pregnancy. Calcium deficiency leads to pregnancy and developmental complications in the fetus.

Folic Acid

It’s a type of vitamin B which is useful for infant growth and development especially for brain and nervous system development of an infant in the first trimester. Its requirements are more in pregnancy because of the developing baby in the womb. When taken before and during pregnancy, it reduces risks of neural tube defects in pregnancy. -Sources of folic acid are dark green vegetables, citrus fruits, liver, broccoli, pulses, cauliflower and walnuts. -Folic acid intake levels decreases as the pregnancy lengthens. Shortage in intake of folic acid leads to anemia and other birth defects.

There are also supplements of these minerals and vitamins available in maternal hospitals to help mothers maintain right levels of minerals and vitamins consumption throughout pregnancy. With the help of the European health insurance card, a mother can access maternal advice on proper nutrition during pregnancy and even obtain the above minerals and vitamin supplements at the expense of the card.

Birth Story Of The Week – Claire and Anna

183

BabyMouse was scheduled to be born by caesarean section on 17th March, due to the fact that she was breech and because of her needing to be born a bit early because of the potential dangers of me having obstetric cholestasis. [That was a long sentence, sorry. This is a long post, and is a bit of a ‘mind splurge’ so may not be entirely coherent.] However, things did not go entirely to plan…

On 25th February, we went to our usual Tuesday appointment at the hospital in London, saw the midwives and the obstetricians, showed my parents around the hospital so they knew where to go when the time came for the birth, and went home, all without incident. When we got home, we had dinner and watched Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing (an excellent film) on DVD. At about 9.30 pm, I decided to go to bed early because I was (as usual) feeling rather tired. I got into bed. At about 10.00 pm, I turned over in bed and [apologies for too much information] thought I’d wet myself, although it didn’t really feel like that. I went to the toilet and realised that this was not the case – it was actually that my waters were breaking! I sat on the toilet for a while – every time I went to get up more ‘water’ came out and I didn’t want to make the floors wet – and called for Mr C to let him know what was happening. He rang the hospital who, in true traditional fashion,told us to stay at home, wait another hour and take a paracetamol! To be fair to the midwife who answered the phone, Mr C didn’t tell her my medical history, and I wasn’t in pain at that time, so she had no reason to tell us to come in, although at the time I was rather cross and decided this wasn’t on and rang the hospital again. I spoke to someone else and told them about all the complications, and that we were going to come in straightaway, to which she agreed.

We called a taxi, which, thankfully. arrived within about five minutes. Mr C packed up all the things we might need – he already had a bag ready and just had to add a few last minute things. I took a towel with me because I didn’t want to make the taxi seat wet! I explained to the taxi driver that I thought I was in labour, and he was totally nonplussed!

When we got to the maternity triage they monitored the baby to make sure she was OK. This took about 20 minutes, by which time the pain had got much worse and it was confirmed that I was definitely in labour. By the time the obstetrician examined me I was already 7-8 centimetres dilated. We rang the London hospital to let them know what was happening and they talked about possibly arranging a transfer to them from the local hospital, but in the event there was no time for that! We were going to have to deliver the baby at the local hospital – at this point it was still the plan to do a caesarean and I was taken to the delivery suite to be prepared for this. Needless to say, I was in a bit of a state by this point; mainly because of the pain of the contractions, but also because I was worried that the people in the local hospital wouldn’t be able to deal with all my complications – the plans we’d set in place had gone out of the window and we were entering (even more) unknown territory…

The anaesthetist came to talk to me about pain relief, and asked me lots of questions which I found difficult to answer because I couldn’t think or talk very well due to the increasing pain and frequency of contractions. The anaesthetist was lovely, and waited for me to answer her questions in the bits of time where I wasn’t in pain, and was very clear in what she said, as well as taking the time to listen to my concerns about things, Luckily we had the delivery plan from the London hospital in my notes, and I let someone know about this so they could see what drugs I was allowed (or not), and the different methods of monitoring that were required. (I have to be monitored more closely because of my heart condition).

We went to one of the maternity theatres, and I could see all the surgical instruments being laid out for (I still assumed) the caesarean. There were about eight medical people in the theatre, as well as Mr C, who was now decked out in green scrubs and a surgical mask. He tried to help me breathe through the contractions. I had got to the point where I didn’t think I could carry on because the pain was so bad, and was gulping in lots of gas and air. I’m not sure that this helped with the pain, but it was a distraction, and helped my regulate my breathing,

Because it was in the original plan drawn up with the people in London, the anaesthetists tried to put in an arterial line – this gives more accurate blood pressure readings and can also be used to measure oxygen levels in the blood. Having an arterial line inserted hurts – fortunately I was given local anaesthetic (which also hurt, but I assume not as much as if I’d been able to feel the line going in) every time they tried to put it in, because they tried to insert the line lots of times before finally giving up due to my arteries refusing to cooperate and at the request of Mr C who told them there was no point trying to continue.

Another factor in stopping the attempts at insert the arterial line was the fact that BabyMouse was now well and truly on her way out! A c-section was no longer an option, so we were going for a natural delivery for a breech baby, something that is rarely attempted nowadays. I was given a spinal block to numb everything that needed to be numbed – it was such a relief not to be able to feel anything! It was now about 2.00 am and I was put into position on my back, leaning on a wedge-shaped cushion with my legs in stirrups. Not very dignified. It was now about 2.00 am and time to bear down and help BabyMouse out! It was very odd trying to bear down when I couldn’t feel anything, and it was hard to take deep enough breaths and let them out slowly enough when I was pushing.

The doctor actually delivering BabyMouse was lovely (in fact all the staff were lovely) and calm and he talked me though each push, and everyone else in the room helped me to know how long to push for. One of the midwives had her hand on my tummy, feeling for each contraction and telling me when to be ready and breathe. At about 2.25 am, BabyMouse was born! She weighed about 5lb. I had a quick glimpse of her just after she arrived and then she went over to the nurses, as she needed a bit of help with her breathing. Mr C went over with her. A few seconds later we heard her cry, which was a big relief. Someone showed her to me again for a second or two, and then she went to the special care baby unit. I delivered the placenta and the obstetrician dealt with my bleeding – unfortunately this was quite heavy as my heart condition meant that couldn’t have the usual amount of the drug used to contract the womb.

Once the bleeding was under control, I was taken to a recovery room. As is my wont after anaesthetics and/or traumatic medical procedures I spent the next hour or so shaking quite violently. (I’m not actually sure what causes the shaking – maybe just adrenalin.) My oxygen was quite low so they gave me some more, and I also had some tea and toast. Mr C went to see BabyMouse in the special care unit. The nurses took a photo of her which he brought to show me. It was lovely to see her, if only in a picture.

After a while I was taken to  the high dependency unit overnight so I could be monitored closely. The next day I was moved to the maternity ward. BabyMouse stayed in an incubator in the special care unit for three days, as she had trouble maintaining her temperature. She was fed through a tube for the first week or so of her life, because she was so early she didn’t have enough energy to take milk herself. Once she was able to maintain her temperature at the right level she was moved to the special care nursery and taken out of the incubator and put into a cot, although she sometimes had to have an overhead heater on her when she got too cold. The nursery was nice – it had murals of trees and animals all over the walls. A few days after this she moved with me to the transitional care unit, where mums and babies stay together until they’re both well enough to go home. Dads can stay as well, but they have to sleep on chairs (or on the floor if there are no spare chairs). If you’re lucky enough to get a reclining chair they’re quite comfortable, otherwise not so much. Mr C spent a few days on various floors as we moved round the hospital, but also got his fair share of reclining chairs, for which he was most grateful.

BabyMouse and I stayed in hospital for two weeks, until the staff at the hospital were satisfied that she was able to feed properly and didn’t have to have her tube in anymore, and we eventually went home on 12th March.

Before I finish this post, I would like to say that the care we received in Medway Maritime Hospital was exemplary. We could not fault it. The staff were unfailingly competent, kind and thoughtful. Most importantly, the medical staff listened to me when I had concerns, and went out of their way to find answers, reassure me, and help BabyMouse and I as much as possible. I think my experiences at Medway over the last couple of weeks were probably the best experiences of hospital I’ve ever had, and I’ve had my fair share of hospital experiences! I can’t thank the staff enough for everything they did for us. All the people we spoke to said that they also experienced a high standard of care during their stay at Medway. It’s a shame people’s good experiences don’t get reported in the press, but then I suppose that wouldn’t sell papers.

Read more about Claire and Anna over at Bookmouse

Preparing For Birth – The Only 7 Things You’ll Ever Need To Know

photo (26)

This was recently sent to me by a Hypnobirth teacher Shirley who felt that if women follow this advice no matter what road their birth takes they will have been fully informed the whole way, increasing their chances of a birth that is calm, relaxed and a positive experience. I couldn’t agree more so with permission I decided to share it with you all.

1. Learn to understand the birth process from start to finish and what factors can help and hinder it

2. Learn about your birth rights so you can make informed decisions that are best for you and baby

3. Look into your choice of place of birth ( if not at home ) and find out what their statistics are for interventions and c-sections, if these are high you should question this and maybe reconsider a different birth place

4. Find out what your place of births’s policy and procedures are. By knowing in advance you will know certain suggestions are policy and not what is necessarily best for you. Remember it’s your birth – your choice. You should never be told to do anything only be given options. Every option offered to you should include benefits and risks and should have alternatives

5. Mothers should know latest studies, show for first time mothers its safer to give birth on a Midwife Led Unit, followed by homebirth. For second or subsequent babies it’s home, then Midwife Led Unit, hospital comes third both times (The Birth Place Study)

6. Preparing your body by regular, gentle exercise, eat healthy and drink plenty of water. Birth is very physical. Everything you consume and breathe goes to your baby. Most importantly prepare your mind, the easiest way to do this is through hypnobirthing. Hypnobirthing ALWAYS makes a difference. What you put in is everything!

7. Your guess date (due date) is only an approximate date, your baby will come when they are ready and just like apples on a tree they ripen at different times. There is no such thing as a late baby only different lengths of pregnancy. So smudge the date you are given into a rough estimate, 5th of May becomes late April to mid May. 27th June becomes mid June to mid July.

www.yobabymusic.wordpress.com/hypnobirthing

www.thecalmbirthschool.com

www.londonhypnobirthing.co.uk