Active birth positions are very important. Not many people can picture themselves doing it but the key thing is to just glance at them and take it in. In labour your body doesn't need telling it just does it. But it takes repetition and practice so it becomes ingrained in your subconscious mind.
Why do we actively birth? Because it is natural. Try doing a poo lying on your back. It makes it much much harder and a bit of a struggle. When you use an active birth position your pelvis is up to 28% more open which leads to less of a risk of tearing or the need for an intervention. Use a door, use a chair, use your partner! Whatever it is just use it and go with what your body is doing and telling you.
You have to let go and trust in your body to move and do what it needs to do to birth your baby :)
Photo credit @spiritysol
Where to begin? This is probably the biggest discussion in an antenatal class along with the stages of labour. With the over medicalisation of birth since the 1950's the need for women to know how to use more natural methods of pain relief and become more in tune with their body is at an all time high.
At the moment I am creating an activity for my NCT classes for pain relief and so I thought I would share my thoughts and findings as a guide. Here are all your choices:
Oxytocin (the love hormone) is the mother of all hormones for labour and birth. It starts labour and it ends labour. It is the magical natural drug we need in order to birth our baby and the placenta and initiate feeding. Mix oxytocin with endorphins (our natural pain relief) and you can birth your baby. What's really clever is that endorphins will increase as your contractions increase so your body is able to deal with this uptake. What we don't want is adrenaline which produces our fight or flight response. There may be a small spike of adrenaline during the "bearing down" stage to give you a real surge of energy to birth your baby but we want to keep it at bay otherwise. No fear thank you!
2. Breathing and relaxation techniques/Hypnobirthing
Mind over matter! Research has shown that the use of hypnosis for labour leads to shorter first and second stages, less reported pain, less need for opioids, and less incidence of postnatal depression. No known cons! Focusing on something other than "pain" could be your saving grace. What happens when you dread something? It takes twice as long to happen. But what if you welcome your contraction/surge and count how many deep long breaths you can take while its happening? I promise you it will feel super quick.
I am obviously pro massage as a massage therapist. The list is endless but massage in labour has been found to reduce stress, encourages effective good oxygen filled breathing, lowers blood pressure, reduces anxiety levels, reduces pain, floods you with oxytocin when your partner or doula or someone you trust does it, stimulates your natural endorphins, relaxes your muscles so that your uterus relaxes too. It is also a wonderful way to bond and connect with your partner in pregnancy and then in labour as it brings you back to those wonderful moments of practice.
Be it a warm bath, a warm shower or a birthing pool of water filling your body with warmth on the outside can fill you with endorphins as it relaxes your muscles, creates a sense of feeling safe, homely, warm, protected, surrounded with love. A lot of women report that their body instinctively needed water during their labour and the minute they submerged all "pain" was gone from their body. 75% of your body weight is supported in a water birth pool. Amazing!
5. Entonox (gas and air)
A gas mixture of 50% nitrous oxide and 50% oxygen which you breathe in through a mouth piece.
Pros: You have control of the mask, doesn't affect the baby, it works quite quickly, the effects also wear off quite quickly, you can stay mobile and active, can be used at home.
Cons: Might make your mouth dry, you may feel sick, you may feel light-headed, may not be as effective as you hoped.
6. Tens machine
TENS is a drug-free kind of pain relief often used by women in early labour. TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. The machine sends small, safe pulses of electrical current via the leads to the pads on your skin. The pulses pass through your skin and into your muscles and tissues. This gives you a gentle tingling or buzzing sensation, which may be stronger or weaker, depending on the setting level.
Pros: You have control, you can remain mobile, doesn't affect baby, can be used in early labour, can be used with other pain relief, can help back ache, can remove easily if not affective.
Cons: Not everyone finds it helpful.
A morphine based drug which can help you to relax. It is given by injection into the muscle of the thigh by the midwife. Meptid is an alternative that can be used at home births or midwife led units. You will be given an anti-sickness drug at the same time, it takes 20 minutes to work, can last up to 4 hours and can have up to 2 doses in labour.
Pros: Can make you sleepy so you can rest if needed, can relax your womb, may take some of the pain away.
Cons: May make you feel sick or woozy, can not use water after using pethidine, may affect babies breathing when born, feeding may be difficult to establish, it is a sedative so may not work for reducing pain as it makes you sleepy.
The anaesthetist puts a hollow needle into the lower part of the back and uses it to place a very fine tube near the nerves of the spine. The needed is taken out and the tube remains in place to deliver pain relieving drugs throughout the rest of your labour.
Pros: Most women get very good or complete pain relief, it can reduce blood pressure for those with high blood pressure.
Cons: Takes time to set up and you have to sit very still, the pain relief effect may be patchy, 1 in 6-8 women may need the epidural repositioned, immobility means you may lose the "pushing" sensation, you need a drip to maintain blood pressure, you need monitoring every 15 minutes, your baby needs to be continually monitored, you will likely need a catheter, the chance of an instrumental delivery goes up from 7% to 14%, loss of active birth, and you may get a headache.
So there is the rundown of your options. So many others such as the home? Would you consider your home an effective pain relief option? Surrounded by all your lovely things, your smells, other children possibly, your bed! Nothing beats your home comforts when you want to be COMFORTABLE AND SAFE. So sit down, have a read, have a think. Know your options, learn about them, talk about it with your partner and go into birth fully informed and empowered with the knowledge to make those crucial decisions about pain relief whether natural or with opioids.
Antenatal teacher, hypnobirthing teacher, pregnancy and postnatal massage therapist, soon to be doula and breastfeeding counsellor.
A lover of all things birth related and the fight for birth rights.
As a massage therapist of nine years I obviously believe in the power of touch. I have seen it, I feel it and I spread it. It can be one of the most powerful tools of communication between people. But how powerful is it for babies and pregnant women?
It was in 1979 Columbia, with high infant mortality rates from premature births and a lack of incubators arose a new model of care called Kangaroo care. It was an idea that arose out of desperation, but to this day is inspired and quite obviously natural instinct. Essentially premature babies were worn in a sling skin to skin for 24 hours a day by their mother, father, sister, brother, grandmother, neighbour whoever was able to and close to them in their life. The results were astounding as they found “skin-to-skin holding stabilizes heart and respiratory rates, improves oxygen saturation rates, better regulates an infant's body temperature, and conserves a baby's calories”. This groundbreaking model of care set the field for more research. How could being skin to skin be that powerful and how far does it go?
Now, after you birth your baby every hospital across the country should promote skin to skin straight away with the mother, father or other birth partner. For me the most important outcome I have seen and experienced from skin to skin is it’s natural ability to suppress pain. Before I had children I didn’t really know how this was possible and I was very skeptical. It wasn’t until the birth of my second that I realised the impact it would have on me.
During my labour, I was practising hypnobirthing and the one thing that kept me rooted, on course and not afraid was my husband’s hand being constantly on me. I kid you not, the minute he took his hand away I felt a rush of pain go through my body. Lucky for him it was only a four hour labour! I was completely mind-blown and so was he. But then it went further and our second born was going to open my mind completely. From the get go he wanted to be on me, skin to skin, day and night; far from the western approach we read about. This was completely new to me as our first wasn’t like this. I had to explore co-sleeping in depth as he had to be in bed with me or he just cried, he breastfed really well and loved it and he just always wanted to be in a sling on me with his head on my chest. Fast forward to now and he is nearly two yet he still LOVES skin to skin. If he is teething, falls over or is poorly he just sticks his hand in my top and he stops crying immediately. He had a surgery when he was thirteen months old and when he came out and the anaesthetic was wearing off all I had to do to calm him was put him on the boob with his little hand stroking my chest and he fell asleep for two hours, on the boob, content as anything and woke up like nothing had happened. Unreal eh?
But enough about babies let’s explore how this can help you when you are pregnant. Firstly, when you feel your baby feels. That is really important to remember. So if you go and get a pregnancy massage, reflexology, your nails done whatever it is you like that includes some kind of contact you enjoy...your baby is feeling those feel good hormones too. Jackpot! When my clients get a pregnancy massage it is different to a regular massage. The techniques used aren’t that different but it’s the way the woman is reacting. Your body is under a lot of stress physically and emotionally, hormonal changes and just going through something you may not have experienced before so a massage during this time can tick loads of boxes.
Positive touch through a massage can be so uniquely powerful as it can give you both emotional and physical healing. Ever heard of emotional release? Yes it can give you that. Ever heard of back pain? Tick. Ever heard of fluid retention? Yes it can make that better. The list is really endless. Now, what’s even better is if you can anchor those feelings right there and then to your birth through hypnobirthing. If you listen to particular music or scripts and get a pregnancy massage at the same time, BOOM...job done. You will plant these wonderful oxytocin filled feelings into your subconscious so when you go into labour you can simply press play, listen to the music you had on during your massage and get your partner to then massage you. Labour pains? No thank you!
So what are my top tips for maximising your use of skin to skin? If you are pregnant it could be your way of relaxing, it could be a chance for you and your partner to bond and for him/her to help you, it is helping you relax emotionally and physically and you are passing all that oxytocin oxygen rich goodness to your baby. Once baby arrives put them on you, embrace them being on you skin to skin and just enjoy it. Plant yourself on the sofa, do some necessary healing and time out and just be in the moment.
Some positive touch could be all you and your baby need to make a life changing difference and pave the way for generatations to come.
I am going to readily admit I am rubbish at doing enough for me. I obviously tell people to do it as I've been a massage therapist for almost 9 years but I do not practice what I preach. Before children I did I loved getting massages more than anything but once my boys came along it steadily declined. Priorities change and my self care had to change. Now I get a massage maybe every 3 months...eek feel ashamed to admit that! BUT my husband does give me massages as he is also a massage therapist and I massage him too so even though it's not as relaxing as we chat it still counts in my books.
What do I do for self care now I have children? Alone time. For me just having some peace and quiet alone, not cleaning the house, is pure bliss. At the moment Love Island, yes I said it, is my zoning out time where no one can disturb me and I completely shut off and have a laugh. Every 3-4 weeks I get a pedicure which is so lovely and that's one hour of pampering I can do and not have a heart attack over the price. But at the moment my biggest self care hobby is exercise. After our second was born he ruined my body. He was so big, 10.10lbs, and I felt so hungry pregnant and breastfeeding that I just couldn't shift the weight and I put a lot on. When I stopped breastfeeding when he was 15 months old (he is now 22 months old) I finally got my fitness bug back on. I don't go to classes where the kids come along it would just stress me out and defeats the purpose in my eyes. I go for one hour and I completely focus and get my A game on and I LOVE it. It's not selfish. It's what I need.
So find that "thing" that gives you the self care you need. No matter what it is just find that time, consume yourself in it and enjoy it. No matter how small or big, it will give you the time that you need to be the best you can be and when you have small people to look after you need to be at your best.
#self care #toolsforlife #setanexample #findyourthing #antenatalteacher #positivecoach #positivebirthcoach #realistic #enjoylife #supporteachother #mumssupportingmums #hypnobirthing #parenthood #azeetanielsenpreandpostnatal #azeetanielsen
This is such a good question and an impossible one to answer but lets give it a little go. First thing I always say is have a really good birth preference; NOT BIRTH PLAN. Just an A4 sheet and make two copies so you can slot one into the front of your antenatal folder and keep a second one for if there is a midwife shift change. If you have a really good birth preference sheet you can simply go through it in depth with your antenatal teacher, hypnobirthing teacher, doula or midwife for all your options and to help you make some informed choices. It also makes birth realistic and you can have key discussions in place so you can be educated and not shocked if birth doesn't go to "plan".
If you aren't getting the supportive care you envisioned then seek out some antenatal support with a teacher you bond with. It is amazing we have the NHS in this country but they do not have the resources to give us the one to one care you would get privately. But one to one care can be invaluable in some form or the other. If you want someone at your birth then a doula is a fantastic route to go. You can have two birth partners remember! Also don't forget you can have a postnatal doula as well; do not undervalue how much emotional and physical help you might need post-birth. Hypnobirthing teachers not only teach you hypnosis for your pregnancy and birth but also teach you quite an in depth into what you also learn at other antenatal courses such as the NCT. Not as thorough but still invaluable and you could also see if they will be at your birth!
Pick an antenatal class. Whether it be at the hospital through the NHS or an NCT class pick one. I had a client recently who said she just avoided all the classes and thought ignorance was bliss but this was far from the truth. She had a really traumatic birth and regrets not doing an antenatal class which is such a shame. But she is pregnant again and on the ball this time, yay.
Positive energy. May sound silly but just being positive can do wonders for you. The big question I get from clients is "What is your biggest tip for when in labour?". My answer is "Don't get caught up in the moment but think ahead as this process means your baby is finally on the way". It's easy to get flustered and dread a contraction coming on but what if instead of this you focus on how many breaths you could do in one contraction? It will then fly by. Learn the positive energy and relaxation tools for coping and be open to your labour moving in different directions. But make sure whoever is looking after you in labour keeps you informed, part of the process and has your best interests at heart.
Birth is a big journey. Just look forward to it :)
We have all been utterly and emotionally traumatised by the news recently about basic human rights being completely and utterly shot with families being torn apart when crossing the Mexico/US border. You would think basic human rights would of been logically used here or at least compassion but it took a complete media uproar across the world to make a change that should of never ever ever happened in the first place.
What about human rights in childbirth? As you can see from the picture this little book is a must read. So many women I see reflect on their births with trauma because their basic human rights have been breeched. The big problem is that we don't necessarily know what our rights are until we realise too late.
Childbirth educators across the country, and the world, are trying to make this a key factor towards having a positive birth. By positive I don't mean the "natural birth" experience but one where you feel empowered, informed, listened to and above all else that your human rights in childbirth were executed. I'm doing a course next week called the rewind technique that deals with birth trauma and how to overcome the trauma but it makes me sad that this is a technique that is so needed because birth trauma is so prevalent and so real.
However, childbirth education is huge. With so many places to go and people you can see to help you on your journey we really are spoilt for choice. A lot of people don't know the NCT can subsidise places on their courses so if you can't afford it but want to join then pop them a message. Local hospitals have free classes and a lot of hospitals are also offering subsidised hypnobirthing and alternative therapies. For me I have to click with my teacher and I think my clients have to click with me too so find that person you click with, form that bond and let them be your rock. Let them be your village!
Learn about your human rights in childbirth, be the badass woman you are and rock that birth no matter what path it takes. Don't let your basic human rights be taken away.
"Birth is a women's issue, birth is a power issue; therefore birth is a feminist issue", Sarah J Buckley MD, author of gentle birth, gentle mothering.
#childbirth #humanrightsinchildbirth #beinformed #educateyourself #badasswomen #pregnancy #childbirtheducator #womensrights #hypnobirthing #antenatal #hertford #ware #muswellhill #northlondon #azeetanielsen #azeetanielsenpreandpostnatal
This is the question I always get. Why do a hypnobirthing course? What makes it unique to all the other courses out there? The simple answer is it gives you the full package. Most people google hypnobirthing and think it’s just going to be a bit of hypnotherapy. But it is so much more! The full course is an antenatal course. The classes cover hypnosis, acknowledging pain, mind body connection, relaxation tools, anchoring, power of the birth partner, prenatal bonding, full birth plan writing, birth choices, massage...the list goes on and on. Why do I teach it? Because I know it works. I have two hypno babies and the power hypnobirthing had on making my births positive is completely amazing. I was very sceptical first time round but second time round I re did the course because of the profoundly positive effect it had first time round and boy was it. First time round my husband couldn’t find the hypnobirthing MP3’s but my midwife luckily understood that I was doing hypnobirthing and she dimmed the room, got me in the pool and played some lovely hypnotic music and the 6 hours flew by! Second time round I had my amazing doula @cianfini. Again my husband did not know where the MP3’s were but when she walked in, I was also induced so surges came on quick, she pressed play and I was completely entranced. This time to the music I had been practising with throughout my pregnancy and my anchor was my husband. He had to be by me or have his hand on me or I suddenly felt pain. How fascinating? I remember it so well and we had the greatest honour of having it filmed so I watched it back and seeing the effect hypnobirthing had for my personal journey is something I treasure forever. So that’s why a hypnobirthing course is worth the time and investment. It is for you and your baby. It is the best tool for your mind and body to make sure you are informed, prepared and ready to meet your baby in the most positive way possible. For more info: www.azeetanielsen.co.uk/hypnobirthing
I am really really tired. The last few weeks have been tough. There have been some deaths that hit me harder than I thought. I don't deal well with death so I tend to glaze over it and then I suddenly become very sad a week later. But then Charlie got slapped cheek virus which was very apt timing. So I have been tired and feeling emotionally miserable for the last week. With children this is really hard as your feelings have to take a bit of a step back. The problem with this for someone like me is I have OCD which developed after my second child. I have alway's been quite tidy but after Charlie was born it felt so overwhelming and I haven't been able to stop thinking about anything and everything. There is no shut off light. So with all these feelings, no sleep at night from a poorly boy and dealing with the emotions of death it can all become quite strangling.
I have a tic when I'm stressed that no one picked up on when I was younger. I used to strain my neck a lot and it would bring on headaches but as time went on this stopped. The last few months it's my forehead. I lift up my brows and it is a really repetitive motion when I can really feel my OCD raging inside me. Today for example I am still tired so it is on overdrive and I really just want to rearrange the whole of upstairs. Isn't that ridiculous? I could just take the kids swimming or to the farm but my head and my body just can't. So I am going to have to do it for the sake of myself and for the sake of them.
This is why I am drained and writing a very honest post. Not a post pointing out why life is amazing but a post about why I am still real, still allowed to feel this way but still going to be able to deal with it and move on. Because feeling rubbish is real and normal. But being able to let it out, understand it and deal with the emotions is the tough part and we all do it differently.
I let it out.
It's my breath.
I can move on.
This is our youngest boy Charlie. He has had a really harsh winter and now spring of constant illnesses but this is what happens when you have a brother who is at preschool. I feel for him as he had surgery in November 2017 which knocked his immune system for a few months and he has been plagued with some sort of virus ever since.
I would say the hardest thing about being a parent is when your kids are sick. It stops you in your tracks, your heart becomes flooded with emotions, they rely on you completely for the next 48 hours at least and you have to somehow manage to carry on with everything in life whilst having a little person attached to you. Don't even get me started on when both children are sick! That is just a ship yourself off to grandparents if you can day.
But one thing I do realise when my boys are ill is that they are such troopers. We as adults tend to complain and roll into bed for a few days and feel the world has ended. But kids are so resilient. They still want to explore and play. They still want to giggle. They still want to live life. They may have fevers which means TV bound but once they come out of it they suddenly grab that scuttlebug and zoom around the house until they bring on another fever. Their little bodies still somehow manage to keep the fun going. It doesn't just stop, which I absolutely adore.
So I am taking a page out of their books this week and I have been trying to bring the fun back into life. I work really hard as that's what I love to do. Without it I would be very lost I realised quite recently. I listened to Fearne Cotton's podcast with Gok Wan recently and I completely resonated with it. They work hard because it is their life. They love it, they want to immerse themselves in it and it keeps them sane. Bang on! For me it can consume me and it has been so I am taking that fun page and I have started taking snippets where I just relax, laugh and enjoy life. Because that's what life is about. Why live and not enjoy?
Looking through the eyes of a child can be so healing and reflective x
I am currently really tired from being woken up at 4.45am by my youngest because he wanted to watch TV. But both my boys are asleep and should wake soon so I wanted to take this time to write as my OCD goes into overdrive when I'm tired.
The other day I posted about birth and had written that I had two natural births. By this I meant vaginal, but that's not something everyone wants to read, and in the birthing world the word 'natural' is used for this. This really hit a friend's heart as she felt really let down by that word as why should her caesareans not be natural? I totally totally agree. I have alway's had a problem with the term natural birth. Everyone wants one. Not everyone will get one. Is that so wrong? The whole point of doing birth preparation classes and hypnobirthing is to prepare you to become a master in relaxation and to use those tools to have coping strategies and a positive and empowering outlook for birth. Not to plan to have a particular birth that is 100% going to go your dreamt up way. We have no way in knowing how that day, or few days, is going to go. We should not plan. We should have a preference!
So I changed my post and instead decided to just put their weights. What I was originally trying to do was highlight that big babies can indeed be born vaginally which seems on the contrary to many doctors. But the fact the term 'natural' on my post could make another mum feel like a failure really hit me. That is the opposite of my goal in life. Especially as an empath I feel everything and I have problems letting emotions float away. So I want to highlight that a 'natural' birth does not mean what you think it means. It simply means 'vaginal' and we should say that...VAGINAL..!All births are so beautiful but it's how you feel about it after that's important. No matter what course it takes if you feel positive, empowered, listened to, respected, heard and happy then you rocked that birth.
Let's celebrate all births for the beauty that they are.