20
June

Home Births…

A Dutch study has found that planned home births are less risky than planned hospitalised births, particularly for second-time mums. The study found the likelihood of severe complications to be one in 1,000 compared to 2.3 in 1,000 for hospital births.

It’s great to see something positive on home births – especially as the rate of elective sections are going up.

I had my son Zak at home in 2006 and the actual birth was a very positive experience. I felt in control and was able to move around freely which made all the difference.

There is always lots of controversy about home births, but it’s usually from people who don’t know the facts. When Zak was born I had a midwife with me for the whole time – and once I began pushing another came too – so I had two people just for me. You wouldn’t get that level of care in hospital unless you were very lucky. The fact I’d met the midwife before I gave birth was a good thing too – and again something that is less likely in hospital.

I’m planning on a home birth second-time-round too and am really looking forward to the event. The important thing if you’re planning on being at home is to make sure you prepare properly – as your pain relief options are clearly limited. I’ve hired a Doula already, am doing tons of yoga and have found someone who specialises in hypnosis for birth.

I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get the birth I want in the comfort of my own home – where I feel in control and at ease, rather than in a medical environment where the level of care is sometimes dubious to say the least.

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30
May

Hypnobirthing…

RUMOUR has it that the Duchess of Cambridge is considering using hypnobirthing when she has her baby in July.

I saw Maggie Howell when I was pregnant with Zak in 2006; she developed Natal Hypnotherapy in the UK in 2000 and also has a range of CDs that women can use at home.

Although I was slightly sceptical about it I found it  fantastic – it helped me massively during the birth and afterwards. I was lucky enough to have a one on one session with Maggie and then listened to her CDs at home – there was one funny episode when I was lying in my room listening to the CD and Maggie was telling me that ‘my vagina was like a concertina and I was able to push the baby out with ease.’ – at which point Paul burst into the room – and fled quickly after…

The great thing is there is a CD for whatever birth you’re planning on having. Because I was having a home birth I was able to listen to that particular CD which made it relevant for me. If you’re planning on having a VBAC or know you’ve got to have a section for a medical reason there is a CD for you. The idea being that whatever happens you will be calm and in control.

This time round I’m going to see a local practitioner Paula Teakle, as she’s just down the road for me and I can’t wait to see if it helps this time round as much as it did back in 2006.

I’m a massive believer in doing everything you can to help yourself – at the end of the day it’s not going to do any harm and I believe if you approach childbirth in a calm and relaxed fashion that is only ever going to be a good thing.

Good luck to Kate, I hope she gets the birth she wants.

 

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12
May

23rd….

A report compiled by Save the Children has concluded that the UK is the 23rd place to give birth. It’s a bit shocking when you look at the table and you see Estonia, Greece and Singapore above us.

The best place is Finland and Sweden – which adopts a very holistic approach to birth is second.

Apparently in Sweden acupuncture is just one alternative therapy that is routinely offered to pregnant women and women in labour.

I think the big problem for expectant mothers in the United Kingdom is the lack of time. Midwife appointments, although perfunctory are just that. There’s no TLC or even time for a chat. I teach about 20 pregnant women a week and many say they learn far more when they attend pregnancy yoga than they ever do when they go to their midwife.

I’m struggling a little with water retention at the moment and mentioned it to my midwife at my last appointment. Her answer, was the standard; “Oh yes that happens..” – Okay so what can I do about it?! Luckily I’d read up on it myself and spoke to her about nettle tea, to which she said yes it’s worth a go. Great, but it would be nice to be given some advice sometimes rather than always having to do the research myself.

During labour many women complain that they see so many different care-givers throughout the birth that they’re disorientated and confused. I know even midwives have the right to go home but I do think there should be more continuity so a woman feels that she’s in safe hands with someone who has actually got to know her. Again, back to Sweden, women see the same midwife throughout their pregnancy and get to meet the person who will be there during labour. The person who is there supporting you through birth has a tremendous impact on the outcome.

I’ve decided to hire a doula for the birth of my second baby, I’m a real advocate of having a woman there during labour and as I can’t be sure which midwife will be there for the birth it will be good to know there is at least one familiar face.

According to evidence, hiring a doula reduces the caesarean, forceps and epidural rate as well as shortening labour and improving mother’s satisfaction. If we invested a bit more in a slightly more holistic approach we would actually SAVE the NHS vast amounts of money – and women would have a better and empowering labour.

 

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10
May

Second Time Round…

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged and I’ve got good reasons; I’ve written another book about pregnancy yoga called YogaMamma which will be out soon – and more excitingly I’m expecting my second baby!

It’s something I’ve wanted for a long time, mainly because I’ve never wanted my son Zak to grow up an only child, and also, well I spend so much time with babies that I’d like another all to myself please!

It’s been an interesting few months and I’ve discovered just how much things have changed. Zak was born in 2006 and fast forward seven years it seems everything is so different; from the amount of midwife appointments you have, to the advice that you can now eat nuts (apparently this was revised in 2009) and how you mustn’t drink any alcohol. When I was pregnant with Zak nuts were a no no and you were allowed a couple of glasses of wine a week.

This is where I truly believe that listening to your own intuition is the best thing of all – as you can’t rely on all the ‘advice’ – as it changes all the time.

I’ve become even more aware since expecting just how many scary stories are published every week in the press; from what position you should sleep in at night, to what you should eat and whether exercise is a good or a bad thing.

Your body knows best and if you listen properly to what you actually want you’ll never go far wrong.

 

 

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14
November

Sara Cox…

There’s a great piece in the Sun today written by Radio 1′s Sara Cox http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/woman/4642979/sara-cox-on-mums-lying-to-be-perfect-parent.html about being a mum.

She believes that no parent is perfect and that it’s okay to let the kids watch the telly occasionally and to skip bath time sometimes – and is actually something she loved as a youngster herself.

I totally agree with her and 100% believe that so many women feel inadequate as mothers because of the pressure we put on ourselves. It’s something I discovered when I researched my book and it was lovely to hear how many other mums felt the way I did too.

Here are some snippets from my book about other women’s experiences of being a mum…

“I’d made a pact with myself that I wouldn’t ever give my baby a jar or packet food. I had it in my mind that people who used convenience foods with their babies were just lazy. Well that lasted for about two weeks. Every time I went anywhere I had countless Tupperware pots of food with me before it dawned on me that it didn’t matter if my child had the odd jar – the annoying thing was that he preferred the ready-made stuff too!” Clare

“TV! I thought we’d have none, but I have since decided that an hour or two a day is not the end of the world, especially when we have ‘earned’ it by taking the dog out or something.” Amber

“I swore I’d never give my kids sweets but as they got older I just realised it wasn’t realistic as sweets are all around them and I didn’t want them to be different to other children or become secret binge-eaters! I also hated guns and was adamant my children would never have toy guns, until I found them sitting eating their lunch aged two and four, shaping their sandwiches into guns and shooting each other!” Shelley

“I’ve always hated dummies and promised myself my children wouldn’t ever have them until I’d had a few sleepless nights and would have given them anything to help them sleep! Enter the dummy. I was strict with it and only used them for naps and they both gave them up by the time they were two – I really don’t know what I was worried about.” Marika

“Biscuits. I remember getting totally furious when despite asking her not to, my mother-in-law gave my daughter a biscuit! I stewed on it for weeks. Five years on I totally accept – and love that Nanny has a special biscuit box for the kids when they visit here. Everyone is happy and really… a couple of biscuits isn’t the end of the world!” Tamandra

Motherhood can be challenging and putting so much pressure on ourselves (and each other) only makes it more difficult – so hats off to Sara Cox for telling the world she’s not always a ‘perfect mum’ (whatever that is) – but she does the best she can.

If more celebrity mothers were honest it would certainly filter down to the masses.

 

 

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12
November

Baby Boom…

AS I expected, if my pregnancy yoga classes are anything to go by – the biggest baby boom for 40 years is expected to be recorded this year.

At a time when maternity cuts hit hospitals NHS services are being slashed we are having more babies than ever before.

Hopefully now the Government will review spending cuts and acknowledge how vital maternity care is. I hear stories every week from the women I teach about poor quality of care and it’s not on. It seems to be a lottery too – and the surgery you’re under appears to make all the difference.  Why?

The Royal College of Midwives estimate the UK is short of 5,150 full-time midwives. This is an issue that needs to be addressed and fast.

Apparently, a new scheme costing a whopping £25million is being considered to get men more involved in childbirth. The plans include double beds being installed in NHS maternity units and having larger birthing pools so that fathers-to-be can join their partner in the water. Right…

Surely that money is better spent on having more midwives?

 

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1
November

Men and Labour….

In today’s Mail, there’s a very honest piece written by a man about how being at the birth of his son really affected HIM http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2225936/A-husband-confesses-Seeing-wife-birth-sex-YEAR.html

It’s a very brave account of an issue that I think many men feel – but don’t want to talk about. There’s an expectation on men now to be there at the birth – but not all want to and not all are actually going to be very helpful either.

Personally, I think talking it through beforehand as a couple is vital. A man can still be supportive and care without having to witness his partner going through childbirth.

I had my baby at home and although my son’s dad was there – making tea and generally keeping busy – he wasn’t in the same room as me. He’s really squeamish and I knew he would get on my nerves quite frankly and wouldn’t be the support I needed.  I opted to have my sister in law to support me – and she was amazing. Because she’d already had three daughters herself I knew she would understand what I was going through – and she did.

Giving birth is incredibly emotive and deeply personal and society’s expectations shouldn’t dictate your labour – it’s something that you as a couple should decide upon – and be really honest about too. It doesn’t mean that your man doesn’t love or care any more or less whether he’s at the birth or not.

 

 

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28
September

New mums…

There’s a stat in the paper today claiming that new mums take an average of four months and 23 days to get the hang of looking after their baby. Apparently we are reassured once we get a routine.

I totally agree with that. I don’t think anything prepares you for motherhood until you actually have a baby. You can read all the books and have all the ideas in your mind but until you hold that newborn in your arms everything is hearsay.

I often say to the girls I teach the early days are a bit like a smack in the mouth (in the nicest possible way) because whatever you’ve anticipated it won’t be that – it won’t necessarily be worse, just different.

Here are a few snippets from my book from other mums…

“Know that your life will change forever and that there are no prizes for doing everything yourself. It is much kinder to you and your child and indeed everyone else to share!! Share responsibility, concerns, decisions and more. When your baby is born and sleeps (which they do loads but only for a matter of weeks) YOU sleep. Don’t clean the house for unnecessary visitors, iron your baby grows or try to keep up the work you were doing before. None of that matters but your health does. SLEEP or rest and do very little so your body can recover because within weeks your baby will be awake far more and you may also be breastfeeding which takes a lot of energy as well. It is all too easy to realise too late that you have squandered your precious recovery time and that now you are simply shattered every day and there is no need for this. So, take heed! Listen to advice from everyone; other mums, your mum, your partner’s mum etc. People just love to give it and often your realise you are not alone and in fact everything is perfectly normal and this gives you reassurance and strength. My lovely friend, Beryl said to me: “The good times don’t last, and the bad times don’t last. So enjoy the good times and don’t get hung up on the bad times as with babies/children, things change constantly.” This is true.” Karen

“You can love your children and still not be ‘fulfilled’ by only being a mother and it’s okay not to enjoy the ‘perfect mother role’ – but find the things you all enjoy together.” Amber

“Sleep as much as possible before your bundle of joy arrives – because you sure won’t be getting any after!” Jo

“You will only go out for dinner or to the cinema with your husband five times in the next five years so make the most your time together as a couple before your baby arrives. Motherhood is the best thing in the world and however hard it may seem in the first few weeks it only gets better and better.” Marika

“I wish I had known more about looking after a newborn. I didn’t put my little girl down to sleep often enough and ended up with a lot of screaming from over-tiredness! I would tell anyone just to go with the flow during labour – and that you can do it without pain relief – oh and to leave the cord once the baby is born so they get maximum blood. Have it cut once it’s stopped pulsing (not a long time).” Gemma

“Forget about planning the birth, nature has its own plan. Keep calm and carry on. Don’t compare yourself to other mothers. There are few people who tell it how it really is. The rest are just kidding themselves or pretending to be perfect. Know you’re doing a good job – because nobody else is going to tell you that you are. Really try to enjoy it because it will be over in a flash. Basically it’s the best and the worst job you will ever do.” Sue

“It’s your baby, do what you feel is right for you; whether you choose to breastfeed your baby, give them a dummy or wean them early – or not, there’s no right and wrong and I don’t understand why some mums look down on others for making different choices to their own.” Abi

“Routine is the way forward – and that until three months a baby shouldn’t be awake for more than about an hour and a half at a time so as not to get over tired. But the big one for me is to trust your instincts. If you think something is wrong keep pestering the doctors and don’t them fob you off saying all babies cry a lot. You know your own baby. Result for me was that my youngest had a milk allergy – change of milk = happy baby.” Rachel

But it’s wonderful and very, very quickly – in a mere four months apparently – we know what we’re doing. I wouldn’t have changed those crazy early days for anything. That precious time when you get to know your new little person is simply wonderful – and the beginning of a lifetime together.

 

 

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17
September

Teaching…

I know a lot of people have found it hard to get back into the swing of working after the long summer break. It can be really hard to motivate yourself again when you haven’t had to for weeks and weeks.

I’m really lucky that I genuinely enjoy my job(s) and when I hear from women how much my pre-natal yoga classes have helped them it makes it all the more worthwhile – and helps the apathy to lift!

I bumped into Fran in Asda last week. She’d just had her second baby Romeo a couple of weeks before. The reason it was so good to see her was she was dreading giving birth as had a really hard time with her daughter and was frightened it would be awful again. But luckily it wasn’t and labour she said was great and the breath really worked - far more than she thought it would. Labour is often easier second time round and knowing that I’ve played a part in another success story is really lovely and I left her with a definite spring in my step.

Last night I received an email from Angela

“I just wanted to say a huge thank you for your superb teaching, information and guidance during the pregnancy yoga classes that you teach.  Although I was new to yoga when I started classes with you at 20 weeks pregnant, I thoroughly enjoyed each lesson, found it was a good way to exercise gently during my pregnancy (especially in the last two months when the gym was simply out) and I gained so much useful information.  I had a wonderful birth and I put this down largely to what I learnt during your lessons.  The squatting came in very handy, not only did my waters break squatting to pick up my shower gel after swimming at David Lloyd, I also squatted to deliver my baby and I am sure this sped everything up, it at very least made it easier!”

So although the summer holidays are now a distant memory there are lots of things to loook forward to and many more women to meet.

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30
August

Grin and bear it…

There’s a piece in the paper today claiming there are plans to reduce caesareans and pain relief for women in labour http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/woman/health/health/article4511275.ece

While I think that’s actually a good thing I don’t think the NHS has thought through their plans. You can’t take away pain-relief options without offering alternatives – and where will women go to find out about self help?

It seems like all branches of the NHS it’s a lottery – some midwives are incredibly supportive and knowledgeable and others not so.

At a time when there is a massive midwife shortage and not enough information for women given out by the healthcare professionals – cutting pain relief is about as bad as it gets. I remember my midwife appointments were five minutes if I was lucky and as a first time mum I had so many questions that I needed answering. Luckily I had people to speak to and knew where to look for other options – but it’s not like that for everybody and I think it will be the most vulnerable members of society who end up suffering unnecessarily.

There are many, many things a woman can do in labour to make things better but the fact is a lot of women aren’t aware of how much is on offer – and so their choice is to have the stronger pain relief options.

I know of many women who have had such an awful labour they’ve ended up with post-traumatic-stress which is shocking to hear about in this day and age. The fact is many women are scared and until that is addressed as a society and things are put into place women will want all the pain relief available – and I don’t blame them.

We need to educate women about childbirth and labour but pain relief should ALWAYS be on offer for any woman who needs it and a woman shouldn’t ever be made to feel that she’s failed by having an epidural or section. It’s not fair.

 

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