Tag Archives: Natural birth

Secrets to a successful all-natural birth

13 Sep

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21st April 2015: after a 4 hour labour my second child arrived as an unassisted-lotus born baby.

No drugs, no medical intervention and no disturbances.

“You were lucky” people said first time round when I birthed in this manner,…..

“it was bound to be easier for your second baby” people commented when they were unaware that my first child was also an unassisted-lotus birth.

Truth is that neither luck nor amount of birth experience have anything to do with birthing totally naturally.

The secrets lie in the power of your strength of mind alongside a few other factors which only you can control:

  1. Unwavering faith and belief in your body’s capability to birth unimpeded, as nature designed it to be.
  2. Absolute and genuine support, trust and positivity from all those who you choose to involve with during your pregnancy and birth period.
  3. To switch from the rational frontal part of your brain (and the noise from anyone elses’) to your limbic, mammalian brain in order to enter into the birth zone where you will draw from intuition and wisdom stored in the DNA from generations of natural birthing women.
  4. An ability to completely surrender to the inevitable and intense sensations: relinquishing control, letting go and relaxing into the experience. This can be learnt through hypno-birthing.

“But it’s ok for you” I hear you cry….”you had no birth complications.’ Well no I did not have a breach baby, or multiples, or a particularly ‘large’ baby or the cord wrapped around the neck or Shoulder Dystocia or Placenta Previa.

Guess what though, I did my research and came across at least one women for each of these categories who still managed a natural birth in spite of these complications. In the process I found out all sorts of interesting information that’s not so widespread amongst the birth fear-mongerers. For example, the placenta continues to deliver oxygen to the baby for a whole 5 minutes after the birth leaving plenty of time to unwrap a nuchal cord without causing danger of suffocation. Furthermore I learnt that a lot of the problems that arise during the average medicalised birth are actually caused by the initial medical interventions and disturbances of the natural birth process. By forcing the birth process in a time pressured manner, the artificial induction of a birth can create stronger and more painful contractions amongst other interferences in the delicate hormonal balance.

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If you allow your body to naturally secrete the hormones in each stage of birth as it was designed to without the interference of man-made drugs then the female body will not risk putting the baby’s life at risk by rushing the delivery. Relax in a safe space and calm environment and your body will dilate as it needs to. Move and position yourself according to your body’s own signals and push only when your body tells you to and the baby will respond accordingly by moving into the correct position that it needs to take in order to arrive safely.

It really is that simple. SIMPLE but not easy. Natural birthing takes courage, the kind of courage you are going to need to get through parenthood and build a strong relationship with your children so don’t bail out on them now!

It all starts here with a peaceful, non-violent birth. Birth DOES matter as it sets the foundations of the baby’s trust in the world around them and colours all future experiences and interactions into childhood and beyond.

Booby Traps: modern day obstacles to establishing a successful breastfeeding relationship

5 Aug

P1000009 Hands up everyone who admits to being a pro-breastfeeding judge of all those mummies who didn’t quite make it with their mummy milk?

I admit I was one of those people; surely successful breastfeeding is just a matter of perseverance and strong will I thought!

Since breastfeeding my son now for over two and a half years I can now attest that these two traits are definitely part of the process, however, there is a lot more to it than just knowing the benefits of breastfeeding for you and your child and deciding to follow through.

Here’s a list of ten ‘booby traps’ to breastfeeding that you may not have considered:

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1. RESTRICTIVE BRAS – any bra with a wired structure and no room to allow the breasts to expand is going to make breastfeeding unpleasant and often painful. Instead wear vest tops with built-in support or loose-fitting t-shirt bras; or better still why not try getting rid of your ‘boob crutches’ and going bra-less.

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2. AN ACTIVE SOCIAL LIFE INCLUDING ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION – everyone seems to know that a pregnant mummy should stay away from alcohol but how many people can admit that for the breastfeeding duration it is just as important to remain t-total? Your baby eats and drinks everything you do, without exception so why not use this time as a great excuse to get healthy by swapping your alcohol for water or a natural juice; I promise that you can have just as much fun and nobody even has to know if you stick it in a wine glass!

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3. NOT SURE HOW TO GET STARTED – many years ago women used to learn all about breastfeeding by growing up in communities where they witnessed it daily; they learned from mothers and aunties and knew what to expect. Nowadays breastfeeding is so uncommon amongst westernised cultures that we must take support elsewhere. Request a breastfeeding councillor if you birth at hospital and afterwards hook up with ‘La leche league’ for advice on all things breastfeeding. Expect a 4-6 week settling in period where perseverance is the key to get past any pain and latching on issues.

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4. FEAR OF OTHERS OPINIONS – there’s no better way to overcome self-consciousness like breastfeeding whilst others look on or make comments. I’ve found the best way to conquer this is through confidence that what you’re doing is natural and best for you and your child. Seek out helpful facts to help you face others with confidence:

  • International weaning age across the globe ranges from 2 up to 7 years old when the first ‘milk teeth’ begin to fall out; after that the jaw changes shape slightly making it more difficult to breastfeed thereafter.
  • Breast milk is the only food created for your baby, not any other animal, which can fully protect their immune system and provide all the nourishment they need by changing the formula depending on your unique baby’s needs at different times, stages and through varying climates. For example, in summer when it’s hot, your breast milk will automatically add in more water for optimum hydration.

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5. LACK OF SUITABLE PLACES TO BREASTFEED IN PUBLIC – shopping centres usually have a parent and baby room near the toilets. Nobody should be expected to feed their child whilst sitting on a toilet to avoid feeling uncomfortable. If you find that you can only relax whilst feeding discreetly and out of view then the best option is to buy a comfortable, breastfeeding-friendly sling so you can feed your child anywhere, anytime, even on the move.

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6. TOO EXHAUSTED TO BREASTFEED – there’s definitely a general consensus in the parenting world that being a parent is tough and tiring, no getting away from it! There are ways though that we can try to make life a little less stressful and more restful. Apart from taking nutritional supplements (Udo’s choice oil and Chlorella are a great start)  and assigning food preparation duties to someone apart from the breastfeeding mummy, the best parenting tool you can add to your kit is Co-sleeping in mum’s bed. Sleeping close to your child not only helps keep them safe and regulated in terms of body temperature and security, it also ensures that the mum receives subtle signals that baby is hungry and ready to feed without having to cry the house down and wake everyone up. As long as you aren’t intoxicated or seriously ill you are highly unlikely to roll over or harm your baby by sleeping with them. Mother’s have an innate instinct to protect their child, even when they’re asleep!

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7. INNACURATE MEDICAL ADVICE – it’s interesting to note that most medical training includes barely a month of basic nutrition out of several years and medical schools also do not offer compulsory teaching about lactation. It is common advice that you should only feed your baby every 3-4 hours. This makes for some very unhappy, hungry children. Unlike cow’s milk, breast milk is lower fat and lower protein to account for the fact that human’s as a species who should stay close to their helpless young for a long time before they venture off alone. Due to this compositional difference, human children must feed as regularly as their unique constitution requires them to (especially through the night). On demand feeding creates a natural demand and supply relationship between mother and child. Other interesting medical opinions include those who state your baby is the ‘wrong weight’. The charts which are determining that ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ weight are actually based on bottle fed babies who, like cows gain weight quicker and digest their milk much slower, making them less active and more dozy, sleeping more.

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8. SUPPLEMENTAL FEEDS WITH FORMULA MILK (especially before 6 months) – formula milk is created as a lab food by pharmaceutical companies using allergens such as cows, goats and soya milk as the base and a whole host of artificially created chemicals, rancid fats and flavourings on top. All this not only makes it difficult on your baby’s digestive system but also, like many other man-made  foods, the taste can become addictive. The introduction of formula milk at any time during the child’s younger years is far inferior to a full-term breastfeeding relationship complimented by whole foods, however, supplementing breast milk with formula early on in the baby’s feeding relationship is bound to encourage them to prefer the taste of the artificial formula milk and reject breastfeeding more and more. The only healthy alternative to supplementing or replacing your own breast milk for your child is to use another mum’s pumped breast milk as women use to do years ago when ‘wet nurses’ were common place.

9. MEDICALIZED BIRTH INTERVENTION – if you birth your baby in a hospital, the chances of achieving a successful breastfeeding relationship are greatly reduced. There are a few reasons for this:

Hospitals are filled with sick patients, bright fluorescent lights, lots of noise and rushed staff, hospital environments are highly stressful whilst breastfeeding requires that mum and baby remain relaxed and comfortable. Opt for a home birth, it’s your right to choose.

Common place procedure involves Immediate separation of mum and baby after birth to do medical checks/interventions which interfere with the vital first moments when mother and bay connect and bond, the baby becomes use to mum’s smell, lying on her stomach, feeling safe, he crawls up and locates his food source. Make a birth plan and state clearly that baby must be handed directly to you for immediate contact, even if this means intervention has to take place with the baby held in your arms. See below for an example of a birth plan taken from http://www.MamaNatural.comAlthough many women know the importance of keeping toxic and harmful substances away from their body during pregnancy, they do not seem to make the connection that during birth your baby is still directly receiving everything that comes into the mother’s body. This includes powerful, narcotic, pain-relieving drugs which not only have to pass through the baby’s liver but also interfere with the hormone production which make breastfeeding a pleasant experience for mum and baby. Try exploring alternative pain relieving methods such as yoga breathing, hypno-birthing and homeopathy during your pregnancy in preparation for the birth.

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10. RETURNING TO WORK WHILST STILL BREASTFEEDING – a successful breastfeeding relationship is difficult to achieve without close, constant contact between mother and baby. When your baby cries due to hunger, the breasts will miraculously begin leaking milk even if you are far away from your child. Expressing milk is a great alternative to breastfeeding as baby is still getting the nourishment from your body however, milk does change according to the time of day and even breast milk taken from a bottle cannot replicate the loving connection a baby receives when feeding directly from the breast. Wherever you can, arrange to work from home where your child can have full access to breastfeeding whenever they need to. If this is not possible then consider selecting a child carer who is willing to be flexible and visit you at your workplace during break times for baby to feed and re-connect with mum. This is now becoming more widely available in places such as OfficeCreche who allow you to work from their own offices whilst providing flexible childcare on site with breastfeeding access. Also there are many nannies and childminders who will work from your own home. If there is absolutely no way you can arrange for your child to have contact with you during your work hours then do insist on a private and comfortable room to made available where you can express breast milk regularly to keep your supply up.

Good luck and happy breastfeeding!

Happy Baby Feet: How Yoga helped my pregnancy and unassisted birth

15 Dec

ImageAt the time I fell pregnant I had just embarked on a life changing decision, I had been managing a children’s Yoga franchise along with my husband using a business loan and the dream was not all it had promised to be.

More money was coming out than coming in and not enough teachers could be found to help me share the work load.

I had just returned from a magical trip to Goa where I had my beautiful wedding following four intense weeks of Yoga and I found that I was ready to move out of the parental home and find my feet in the world shortly after landing back in England.

It was at this time that some friends of ours were looking at renting so we decided to pull our resources together and go for a house share, unaware that the universe had different ideas.

Plan A to move out never materialized and left my husband suggesting a dramatic plan B to sell up everything and go to sunny Australia on a working holiday visa to see what would await us there.

Weighed down by far too much luggage and fear, home with all it’s unfinished business and lose ends dragged us back again after 3 months at which time the baby bump was well and truly apparent.

During the early phases of pregnancy I mostly travelled around Australia and New Zealand so I armed myself with Tara Lee’s Pregnancy in Health DVD and practiced whenever I was not exploring and hiking through nature.

As I had only been practicing yoga for two years on an irregular basis I often found the full 70 minute routine too challenging to complete and furthermore all of the poses which satisfied my ego’s need to achieve such as inversions and binding poses were now disallowed, knocking my motivation even further.

I did however, delight in the partner sessions which were a wonderful way to involve and connect my husband in to my pregnancy experience.

I also regularly took part in the amazing visualization and restorative practice which always without fail left me feeling re-energized and re-vitalized.

My pregnancy treated me well, or perhaps you could say that I treated pregnancy well, eating a vegetarian diet and keeping stretched and on the move I’m sure helped me avoid most common pregnancy ailments.

Towards the final trimester I could thankfully still balance in tree on one leg and was as supple as ever. The only downside was having to get up and have my sleep disturbed every night to keep using the toilet…little did I know that this would prepare me well for the arrival of baby!

At the beginning of my pregnancy I was debating on whether to tell close family my choice of birth.

Having always been an alternative and non-conformist type I knew that others liked to question me and did not always understand my choices.

I could never have for seen the amount of fear that my decision to have an unassisted home birth would create amongst so many people, perhaps because it questioned our culture of letting others take responsibility for our own actions and their consequences?

No amount of research or re-assurance that I understood my own body would convince those around me that I was sane and not endangering the life of myself and my child.

Knowing that mind always conquers matter it was difficult dealing with others negativity and lack of support for the choices I had made and I thank god for my amazing husband who was with me every step of the way, even to catch the baby as he arrived!

It was at this stage of pregnancy and birth where pranyama (breathing techniques to mange pain), mantras (using sound to control emotions) and positive visualizations came into their own.

These are aspects of Yoga that many people who step on to their mats often forget about but which were a vital part of any successful active pregnancy and birth.

My birth was approximately 12 hours long and was by no means easy although anything worth doing rarely is!

My son Ulysses was born at 2.25am weighing approximately 7lbs with no complications. He arrived on a very chilly Sunday 5th December 2010 in the bath tub in our small one bedroom flat in Brighton.

I had not undergone any scans or antenatal care only blood tests so had no idea what was coming my way. I had a trust in the ability of my body being able to perform exactly what it was designed to do.

We had the hospital number in case of emergency but did not wish to invite in any interference with midwives or anyone else who I did not trust in 100%.

I do not claim to be a midwife, just to have the same right to give birth the best way I see fit for me and my child as women do all over the world everyday.

This is my human right and is not illegal as many health care practitioners often proclaim it to be. My child didn’t need a doctor to get in the womb and did not need anyone to help him out either.

Yoga helped me to understand and connect with my body so well that it gave me the confidence to manage my own sensations and trust my own instincts about how the birth was progressing.

The whole experience was the most intense and amazing time of my life and I wouldn’t have changed a moment of it.

Letting go has been a big aspect of my life since my pregnancy and birth. I’ve let go of material possessions, money, people, work and most importantly my fear…when you come face to face with the responsibility of bringing a new life in to the world without intervention or direct guidance it really is the closest a women can come to facing her own fear of death.

I have learnt that the fear of birth and death go together hand in hand and it is at times like these when a spiritual practice such as yoga can be your best guide and source of support.

Furthermore, I chose to have a lotus birth and leave the umbilical cord to detach from the placenta naturally. I believed this would give the best physical and spiritual start for the baby.

There were just two things I needed for my birthing experience, my supportive birth partner, my husband and my Yoga.