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  • 12 Dec 2019 2:03 PM | Anonymous

    Words and Picture from Millie @raisingherbarefoot

    This photo here shows you one of the many reasons I absolutely adore co sleeping. It’s hard bringing a child up in a world where co sleeping in frowned upon. The sigh I’m hit with when I proudly say “she’s still in with us”. From the minute Indie was born, I have experienced precious moments like this every night. I’ve been lectured many times by anti co sleepers about the danger I’m putting my child in and I’m a terrible parent for not wanting to change our sleeping arrangement.

    We upsized to a king bed right before Indie was born instead of purchasing a cot. I grew up unaware that it was even a thing to sleep in the same bed as your child, so when I met my partner Josh who comes from a co sleeping family, I was desperate to give this 24/7 slumber party a crack. I think there isn’t enough coverage on the actual reality of sharing a bed with your child. I see all too often, stories with headlines “another baby dies while cosleeping”, which brings tears to my eyes because it shouldn’t have ended that way.  Bedsharing can be made either safe or unsafe and there is a very very slim line in between.

    When done safely, the effects on the mother-infant bond and wellbeing are remarkable as well as lowering the SIDS rate by one half!! In countries such as Japan, cosleeping is considered the norm. Which makes sense as it is biologically appropriate, unlike placing an infant in a room to sleep by themselves. The way I explain it to people is that co sleeping has been bred into our DNA, from thousands of years ago. Cavemen and women cuddled their babies to increase survival rates. This insured the child was kept warm, protected from predators, and easily fed when hungry. The human race would have died out if mothers placed their children in a cave next door and left them to cry, which is sadly the new normal in today’s society.

    The most asked question I get about co sleeping is definitely “so where do you have sex?!”. “Well! Who says you and your husband are restricted to a bed?” I reply. Co sleeping introduced my partner and I to a whole new world of exciting sex. Getting to set up the baby monitor and creep out of our room quietly is such an intoxicating feeling. It’s helped us to be far more creative than your standard missionary bed sex. We’ve done it everywhere. In the kitchen, in the shower, on the couch, on a dining chair, on the bedroom floor, on the edge of the bed, in the spare room, in the name it, we’ve most likely made love there!

    Of course there’s been times that co sleeping has gotten in the way of our sex life and been a bit of a 'cock blocker', but I just think, if my daughter needs me to settle her a little longer right now than that’s far more important than my personal pleasure. This is where the other popular question comes in “does co sleeping get in the way of your relationship?”. Hmmmm. Yes and no. Believe me, there’s been a few times I’ve thought “oh screw this! I wanna be like those mums that put there babies down in their cots at 6pm, no issues, and don’t see them again till 8am!!!”.

    There’s also been times I’ve thought “I just want to cuddle my partner without a baby hanging off my boob!”. The best advice I’ve ever been given is “always out your partner first.... because if your relationship breaks down and your family falls apart then your child will be effected the most not having both parents around”. I have felt guilt, anger, and frustration many many times, and that’s ok. My partner has felt neglected at times too, which is also ok.

    We have learnt to not make plans because someone will always be left disappointed. I’ve lost count of the nights that I’ve turned my partner down when he’s hinted sex. I’ve also lost count of the times that I’ve promised him sex and then cancelled last minute because I’d rather snuggle up to my daughter. That takes a toll on our relationship for sure, it would on anyone’s. work through it, take each day by day, night by night. It has gotten a lot easier over time and I know it will continue to get easier. Struggles aside, my relationship is thriving with both my daughter and my husband. We all get a better quality sleep and I feel safe knowing I am right at Indies side if she needs me throughout the night. Our bond is bound together so tight it could almost squeeze in bed with us!

  • 7 Dec 2019 8:04 PM | Anonymous

    Words and pictures from Mama Tranita Turner

    So! Team green Turned...

    Ok, let’s get to the story. I was having Braxton Hicks which developed into prodromal birth waves early Sunday morning. They were like 2-4 mins apart and lasted like 30 sec. I’d been on pelvic/bed rest due to an irritable uterus for about 15 weeks and since 36 weeks it has been lifted. Since I was no longer on rest, I decided that I would walk when I had the chance. My husband and I were going to stores, doing last minute pick ups and throughout the entire morning, I was having those waves. I was literally stopping traffic in aisles lol the discomfort wasn’t too bad but I did have to do some focusing. Around mid afternoon they just stopped ‍♀️

    We had some sex that night. I woke up to pee so many times I couldn’t count. Then at around 5 am Monday morning, I’d gotten back into bed after a peepee run and I don’t know if grunted or what, but fluid kind of spewed out of me. I got up to go pee again. Then I was thinking “maybe it was just left overs from last night... I did clean things up enough... ‍♀️” got back into bed it was almost time to get up. My husband got up a few mins later and so did I. I started telling him what happened and more started to leak out. I was in denial though. He asked me was I ready and I cried a little bit and said “I don’t know! ” with a rag between my legs.

    Called my doctor and she wanted to confirm so she told me to come on in at 9 when the clinic opened since I had an appointment already later on that day. This is around 6 am. We started to pack things up, put stuff in the car and my husband stopped by his job until the clinic had opened. I didn’t have any pads to catch the fluid so... I used one of my baby’s cloth diaper prefolds worked like a charm.

    When we got to the clinic around 10, they did my last ultrasound to make sure things were ok and took my vitals. My doctor checked my cervix. She needed a baseline to make sure I was progressing. We’d already discussed it prior to. Let’s do a flash back really quick.

    I have a bunch of fibroids inside and outside of my uterus. Some had amazing blood flow, some could have potentially been in the way where baby couldn’t descend and all of them could have prevented my uterus from waving like it should in order to push baby down. My doctor did not want to do a C-section on me because of where the fibroids were. We needed a vaginal birth.

    So when I came into the office and my waters were no longer intact, she knew that that check would be one of few that would be done because they did not want to put me at anymore risk of infection. I was about a half cm. She sent me to the hospital and told me to use nipple stimulation/pump to induce birth waves. The next options would be Cytotec or Pitocin. Cytotec would not be an option for me. ‍♀️ She also called the hospital and told them I was coming and to have a pro natural birth nurse waiting on me.

    On the way to the hospital, we made a pit stop. See, I was supposed to have a home birth, but due to the fibroid situation, plans changed. I’d fallen in love With my midwife team so I made sure to keep them updated and usually called them first lol she made sure to tell me to eat a high protein meal before I went in. We bought a whole rotisserie chicken, hummus and pretzels and I had some crackers. I ate a leg quarter then we still took the rest of the chicken up to our room. I was determined not to starve. That was the second best decision of my birth. The first was choosing Hypnobabies. I’ll get to that later.

    We got checked in, they wanted to hook me up to the saline lock. My doc and I had already discussed that as well. Since I had so many fibroid issues, it was important that I be ready in case I hemorrhaged and needed medicine to stop any bleeding. My Hypnobabies came in handy. Anyone who knows me knows that hospitals, injections, blood draws and needles can have me acting a plum fool. So I turned on my fear clearing track and allow someone to stick me not just once (and I didn’t even look! I always look), but twice. They had to place the catheter in for the lock and then draw more blood for the lab for if I needed blood. I was quite fascinated with myself. I even told my husband he could leave me to go pick up our breast pump.

    The hospital would not provide us with one to use for the purpose of induction. Third best decision I made was having that breast pump. Anyone who’s having a hospital birth, take your pump with you just in case you need it for the purpose I needed mine for. I hadn’t even opened it yet.

    I was given a birth ball that really didn’t work out because it was a bit too small. But I still used it until someone was able to come change it out. I got to work pumping on and off. One at a time, 15 mins on each. I switched it up when my nurse suggested I do 15 on each then break for 30. I continued to eat when I was hungry. I drank LOTS of water.

    Hypnobabies was amazing during the first stages of my birth time. I was able to sleep through birth waves multiple times listening to the tracks and would wake up rejuvenated on my own ready to pump, use the birth ball and walk the halls to help baby move down. I sat in the tub a few times and it really helped. Fell asleep there every time. My nurse made sure to remind me to relax my pelvic floor. That was one of the most difficult things to do because it involved being intentional throughout the birth waves. By the next day, I’d have it down.

    I allowed the nurse to check my cervix at 8 pm Monday evening to see if I’d progressed. I was at about a 2-3 and she could feel baby’s hair. She offered to stretch the membrane but I wasn’t ready for that. I kept doing my routine. At I think midnight she checked again and I was at about 5-6. I allowed her to stretch my membrane to 6 (or what her fingers measured at 6). Might I also add that she allowed me to wipe with a wipe that helped minimize the transfer of any bacteria every time. My temp was also checked periodically (to monitor for infection) and baby was monitored 20 mins break 40. At one point sitting on a birth chair made baby’s heart rate drop. When my nurse changed shifts, she left me with another amazing nurse whom I’d met before.

    I slept from about 6 am Tuesday, until probably 7:30-8 am. I did use a sleep mask and listened to my Hypnobabies track. Apparently my doctor and new nurse had come to check on me and was astounded that I was asleep and let me get some rest. I woke up on my own ready to go again. Didn’t really have an appetite but I tried to eat a banana. I took another bath hoping it would help baby move down. Pumped some more and we noticed the baby’s heart rate drop with each back to back wave. I was having them but they weren’t strong enough. I took one last hot bath then my nurse checked me around 11am and I was just at 6 fully from her finger measurements. We discussed Pitocin. The plan was to start at the lowest dosage and see what happens.

    I was given the sugar water in my arm and then at 11:30 am the P Drip started. Those waves were really becoming intense. The toilet was my friend and it was hard because I had to be unplugged from monitors in order to go to the bathroom. Two times I peed in the bed on the absorbency mat. It got harder to do that because my brain was saying no. I wasn’t comfortable on the birth ball anymore. I hated the bed and had to lower the bottom half and stay on my knees.

    Pitocin was bumped to the next dosage a hour later. By this time, I was very very very very vocal. I made sure to be intentional about my facial expressions and tried my hardest to keep my tone low. Couldn’t do high pitches. I stopped listening to my Hypnobabies tracks. I instead listened to a relaxing track I’d fallen in love with on a loop. There were a few instances where my words wouldn’t form. I was still alert and aware though. I started to shake uncontrollably and felt extremely uncomfortable and my husband pulled the emergency tab in the bathroom. Nurses rushed in. By this time I was naked naked. Clothes had become uncomfortable. They had to bring warm blankets for me.

    At around 3, my nurse asked it I wanted to be checked again. I said yes. I was still at a 6, BUT this time, I was like 98% effaced. She said paper thin. I wasn’t disappointed but more so determined. I couldn’t be in that bed anymore. I wanted to walk and move. The waves were coming back to back with about a minute in Between. One of my Hypnobabies tracks has affirmations that 20 mins will feel like 5. I think that’s what was happening by this time.

    My husband was a trooper. He kissed me, made me feel beautiful and sexy (even smacked me on the booty a few times- how appropriate ), tried your help me stick to Hypnobabies, pushed my hips in during pressure waves. He did an amazing job. The hip thing really helped!!!

    So it’s around 3, my nurse got the birth chair ready for me to sit on because I didn’t want the bed. It’s a stool with a hole inside. After a few waves of sitting there I felt something shift. Like to the point where I couldn’t keep quiet during a wave and my legs would work right. I couldn’t sit anymore. Kept telling myself that “it’s only temporary. It’s only Temporary.” I told my husband he needed to make me a pallet on the floor. I wanted to be on the floor extremely bad. He and the nurse made me a space close to the monitors. Within a few minutes, I was hyperventilating which caused the baby’s heart rate to drop so she told me I had to get up off of the floor and into the bed because I needed oxygen. “I can’t.” She said “yes you can.” But I really couldn’t. I had begun to feel pressure but I think I was questioning it because it didn’t feel like the description of having to poop. It felt like the need to push and I wasn’t telling her because I didn’t know exactly what it was. I kept losing the sensation. Then all of a sudden her and my husband picked me up (all 220 lbs) and put me in bed. She gave me the oxygen while I was starting to push.

    See she’d just called the doctor to tell her that I was 6 cm but I was effaced at 3. This all started happening at around 3:40! All of a sudden, a thousand nurses came into the room. Not students, nurses. I’m in the bed holding back grunts trying to breathe through the next waves and not push baby out like they’re saying because the doctor wasn’t there yet. I told my husband to put on the final Hypnobabies track to push baby out. I couldn’t even hear the words. I just knew that voice. I was so alert and aware and Unafraid. I was asking questions in between waves. They asked if I wanted my head back further and I said no. I told them that it didn’t feel right in a certain position. One nurse pulled my leg up so I was in a somewhat side laying position. My nurse could see baby’s hair and my husband was talking me through it. They called the hospitalist because my doctor wasn’t there yet. I still remained calm. She introduced herself. I already knew who she was. She had doubts. I didn’t want her but I remained calm. Then I looked over at the door and what do ya know, my doctor suited up and ready with her jolly self. They were saying not to push and I was trying not to. I started breathing through it. They said baby’s heart rate was dropping. I looked at the monitor and say that it was in the 80s. They were suggesting I push outside of a wave.
    My words: “I’m trying to get my mind right. Hold on”
    I was not about to push through without a wave although my doctor was doing perineal massaging. Baby was still in the 80s and I knew whoever I would meet would be fine.

    On the next wave, I pushed and embraced ever sensation with wonder because it wasn’t what I expected. It felt amazing! When I did feel the “stretching” it felt like a bandaid being ripped off really quickly and that was it. I felt the head come out, then the shoulders and body and nothing hurt. I was amazed. I could do it over and over again. On October 8 at 3:58 pm, Baby came out in 1 push weighing 6 pounds, 9 oz and measuring at 20 inches long.

    They put him on my chest and we didn’t know who we were meeting at first and then my husband opened his legs and said “It’s a dingaling!” We got a Baby boy! The cord turned white pretty quickly and he was able to cut the cord.

    He yelled at us for about 30 secs and then was fine. I cried because I couldn’t believe I had done it. I had a baby despite all odds against me. People doubted but I didn’t. I knew God had me. God shocked the whole floor. I didn’t have anymore pressure waves because the Pitocin was stopped before pushing. My placenta wasn’t budging. I could hear doc saying that the fibroids were probably in the way. So nurse came over to push on my belly and it released. My placenta was very small once it came out. Most likely why the cord turned white so quickly. It was about the size of a medium-large hand. I have a miracle baby. Those fibroids were most likely taking most of the blood supply when the placenta was forming.

    He pooped on his way out. Had a head full of hair and poop lol

    They pushed on my belly some more to make sure I wasn’t bleeding excessively. They could feel so many different fibroids inside of me and they all were so impressed. They left me on Pitocin just in case I did hemorrhage. I got checked every 4 hours during my 2 day stay. Made sure my uterus was going back down to size with no problem and checking my vitals. I didn’t get much sleep. My adrenaline was on 1000 after everything and I didn’t really crash until about 12 hours later. I still couldn’t rest well because I don’t like hospitals and kept waking up to check on my baby even though dad was there.

    My doctor said that she wouldn’t recommend I get the fibroids removed because I’d have to get C-sections after. She also said that in the future, I’d most likely not have to get Pitocin because my uterus knows what to do now. She said I should be able to have a home birth next time!

    Welcome Samuel K. Turner II to the world!
    He is a breastfeeding baby too! Working on the latch though.

  • 7 Dec 2019 7:51 PM | Anonymous

    Words by Mama Amie Robertson and pictures by Doula Rebecca McKinney

    From the bottom of my heart I would like to thank Samantha and Rebecca for believing in me and protecting my sacred and intimate birth on January 14, 2019

    ...but joy comes in the morning.... 2:04am to be precise. The first fives pictures were taken 2:03am ‘til 2:07am. Our newest little one came into the world 

    Dear Leia, 

    It’s been nearly a year since I met you. I feel like it was so long ago. Trying to describe your birth usually leaves me speechless. The kind of speechless that is brought by complete peace and joy. 

    During pregnancy, I was petrified of being your mother. I didn’t know how I was going to survive. That thought humors me now. But I remember the pain of not knowing how I was going to breath or survive. I remember that thought came pretty much everyday. Baby girl, fear is a lair.. 

    You, my sweet Leia, were our fastest surprise. You were just meant to be and Daddy was going to be home for you! I had such a hard year before before you with deployment and dealing with anxiety and adjustments. While you were growing, daddy wasn’t home a lot of the time. I grew even more weary. 

    Even though, I was scared to raise you the only thing I knew was I could birth you. If it was the one thing I believed in it was you and me working together to bring you earthside.

    I probably was going a little nutty at 38 weeks. For three days you were giving me constant warm ups. I called Rebecca, my doula, about how I was confused  to the point I was even crying telling her I felt like it was soon but I knew it could be in even a month. But every night a bath and bed it was and the waves would stop and I would sleep. At 38 weeks and 3 days, we were finishing up the remodeling of the bathroom (I told you I was a little nutty.) and yet again I was telling Christopher this might be the night. But since daddy had work in the morning he went to bed. 

    I hate timing contraction because I just love letting my body do what it’s suppose to do. First step to try to get them to stop, laying down. They didn’t stop. Second step to get them to stop; bath. They didn’t stop. But came faster. Texting my doula, Rebecca. Having a contraction, having another. Having another.... She called and asked if I thought it was it.  and asked if I wanted her over. Rebecca said, “You don’t sound like your ready but your hard to read.” I told I felt ready and to come. 

    I got out of the bath and smacked Christopher awake and told him to make some coffee because it is time.... I still wonder about his thoughts with a smile.

    She told me to call Sam, my midwife... I called Sam and did my best to explain that I was ready. I love her retelling the story of me  calling her.... It makes me laugh. Her using her hand as the phone and describing how calm I was.... “I’m ready you should come. Trust me. Oh wait I’m having a contraction. Hold on..... yepp I’m ready.” I felt so silly trying to explain it was time! 

    I got on the ball and excitedly bounced and giggled until Rebecca got to me. I remember the giddiness I felt. Waves are so amazing to me. Powerful beautiful waves bringing you to me. We went into our room and she looked around asking if I was a minimalist now or something. And we giggled about the changes to the house since I had Jacob. Rebecca was keeping an eye on me.... I could tell she was looking at me in a peculiar way. And then she asked, “So, you’re feeling the surges  still right.” I assured her I was, but in that moment I thought even she was skeptical if it was. Though I was talking through them I knew this was it and soon. Each time I felt a wave I knew you were coming. They were strong. I would smile and say, “The baby is coming.” 

    Sam got there with her student midwives. I did feel like a skittish animal for a moment, but I relaxed after a few minutes of settling. We got to giggle and laugh about Jacobs birth. There are so many cute little funny things I remember; Rebecca snuggled up in our bed while I labored and her enjoying my husband scratchy blanket and his pillow. And loving the blanket so much! He still comments about how Rebecca loves his blanket.

    The pressure started to build and all I wanted was my water to break so bad.. We wondered if the pressure I was feeling was my water about to break or you about to come. I shrugged and said we will see... I looked at Rebecca with my head tilted annoyed at the pressure look. She with the sweet smile said, “Let’s get you in your tub, okay.” We took in the peacefulness of  the beautiful bathroom daddy worked so hard to make it the most perfect birthplace just the very days before. It was truly amazing and perfect. 

    Oh the water, I barely got in and felt the waves get stronger. With in minutes I was telling Rebecca it felt like when we were on the bridge with Jacob. She smiled, nodded and gave cute, “yeah.” I was shifting my body for the next wave. I was guessing you would be here in about 20 minutes. That very shift and wave we all heard a huge pop of my water breaking and your head was delivered. At 2:04am, I say, “Oh! The baby is here.” Christopher said, “Really, Amie?!” And laughter filled the room in celebration. Honestly, it truly felt effortless. I’ll never forget my smile when you were born into my arms. I remember instantly wanting to protect you, scared the the water was to hot for you. I wanted nothing but to keep you safe. 

    As I was filled with wonder in the moment, I realized I still didn’t know who you were yet! I opened you little legs and gasped! Never in a million years did I picture a little girl. I looked at your daddy and said, “Baby, it’s Leia. It’s Leia Grace. Can you believe it.” 

    It was time to get us out of the water and into bed. All I remember, was I holding you and then waking up into Sam and Rebecca’s arms. I remember my first words were asking if you were okay. Daddy already had his shirt off cuddling with you. They were getting me into the floor with my legs up in the air. And Sam gave me a shot of pit. I could barely talk or move but moved the oxygen mask a little and with every bit of strength I had something to tell Sam. “I had to give you something to do.” She says she knew then I was going to be just fine. And I also said “still the best birth ever!” I was eyeing you as I was gaining my strength. Rebecca asked me if I wanted her to take you so Christopher could be with me... but I didn’t. I wanted you to be with daddy and I knew I was in loving hands with Rebecca and Sam. 

    It was time to get to bed and I was honestly scared of trying to get up again. LOL but I did.... Getting me settled in bed I lifted up my body so they could shift the bed padding under me. Sam commented about the strength I had even after birth. 

    I remember Rebecca coming into bed and her smiled said it all...  it was truly a perfect birth. You were my first baby to latch with ease. We gazed at you with admiration for a moment and Rebecca squeezed me good bye. She picked up her untouched doula bag and walking out she joked about how I didn’t need her. But I needed her more than she will ever know. I needed her emotional support through it all. I need her belief in me. I needed my sacred, intimate time protected. She truly did that in the weeks coming up to birthing day.

    One of my favorite moments was when everyone was gone, Daddy crawled into bed. We stared at you fondly as he told me about unbelievably incredible I was. 

    Bringing you into the world was proof enough that I have enough grace, love, patience and strength to get through this life. All the weariness and worries truly melted away meeting you. You were just another piece to the beautiful puzzle. You fit so perfect into our family. And what you taught me about myself, motherhood, my relationships, my journey with God, healing like never before. Leia, I’m forever grateful for it. I thank God for it everyday. I didn’t know what this life had to offer until God brought me you. You truly brought me to life. I love you my sweet baby girl. The baby I never dreamed of. Finally, all I can say is I didn’t give you the gift of life, life gave me the gift of you. It’s an honor to have the responsibility to be your mother.

  • 22 Oct 2019 1:23 PM | Anonymous

    Written by Bethany Ford, Pelvic Health Physiotherapist shared via Bethany Ford.

    As women, our bodies undergo some pretty amazing changes during pregnancy and birth. Its design is so incredible we are able to accommodate a growing baby for 9 months and then give birth bringing new life into this world. Wow. 

    While we marvel at the body’s ability to adapt and change, it’s also really important we consider recovery after birth and what this actually means. Never before have women been under so much pressure from a huge variety of different sources, including the media, to ‘bounce back’ and resume all the activities they were previously doing after having a baby, not to mention looking as they did before they were pregnant. 

    While we marvel at the body’s ability to adapt and change, it’s also really important we consider recovery after birth and what this actually means.

    Giving your body adequate time to recover from the effects of pregnancy and birth is the first important step, alongside some really good quality advice and information regarding when to resume different types of exercise and activity. The pelvic floor and abdominal muscles arguably undergo the most considerable change during pregnancy and birth, for some women recovery will happen all by itself but for many, there can be some delay and ongoing problems in the form of abdominal muscle separation and pelvic floor muscle dysfunction. 

    Separation of the abdominal muscles in a normal part of pregnancy, as your body accommodates to fit your growing baby, however some women develop a larger separation and post birth this can lead to weakness in the abdominal wall. You may notice a gap or hollow in your abdomen or even a doming or bulge when you sit up or move. Some women will also experience pelvic and low back pain as a result of their abdominal separation. 

    Pelvic floor dysfunction can present in a number of different ways. The effects of pregnancy and birth can lead to stretching and weakness of the pelvic floor muscles, causing incontinence from the bladder or bowel, as well as pelvic organ prolapse where you may experience a vaginal bulge, dragging or heaviness. For some women, the pelvic floor muscles can become tight leading to pain and discomfort during sexual intercourse. Pelvic health physiotherapy can help address these imbalances in the pelvic floor and design an appropriate programme to improve your symptoms. 

    No matter how you gave birth whether via caesarean section or vaginal delivery, I recommend all women should see a pelvic health physiotherapist postnatally for assessment and rehabilitation. It will enable you to safely return to activity at a rate that is right for you and your body, as well as addressing any problems right away, ensuring they do not become lifelong issues. 

    No matter how you gave birth whether via caesarean section or vaginal delivery, I recommend all women should see a pelvic health physiotherapist postnatally for assessment and rehabilitation.

    A ‘New Mum Check-up’ is a postnatal appointment with a pelvic health physiotherapist, where you will be offered a comprehensive assessment of your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles, as well as your posture, breathing and any discomfort you may be experiencing post birth. Your pelvic floor strength will be evaluated as well as any degree of abdominal separation and a bespoke rehabilitation programme will be designed for you. Your individual needs and goals will be taken into consideration, with a view to getting you back to doing what you love, whether that’s looking after your kids as a busy mum, walking the dog, running marathons or going to Crossfit. 

    I recommend an initial appointment from 6-8 weeks postnatally, however even if you are some years down the line after having your babies, it’s never too late to address problems that have developed since childbirth. Many women can come to accept these types of problems as normal not realising help is available. With pelvic health physiotherapy you can regain confidence you may have lost and improve your quality of life.

    Even if you are some years down the line after having your babies, it’s never too late to address problems that have developed since childbirth.

    If you have any questions about a ‘New Mum Check-up’ appointment get in touch via the ‘contact’ page or to schedule an appointment contact Inform Physiotherapy in Silverstream on 04 527 4155.  


  • 22 Oct 2019 1:13 PM | Anonymous

    Written by Bethany Ford, Pelvic Health Physiotherapist shared via Bethany Ford.

    As a pelvic health physiotherapist, one of the most commonly asked questions I receive from women is ‘I’m pregnant, how much exercise should I be doing?’. This is a crucial time when women want to make sure they’re following the right advice and not putting themselves or their baby at any risk. 

    This blog will take you through some of the latest guidelines for exercise in pregnancy, so you feel well informed and confident to exercise. 

    What do the guidelines say?

    Current Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANCOG) guidelines encourage the many well established benefits of exercise during pregnancy for women who have been advised they are safe to exercise. These include benefits for mum’s fitness, the prevention of excessive weight gain and psychological benefits which include reduction in symptoms of depression (RANZCOG, 2016). Taking part in regular exercise during pregnancy has also been associated with shorter and less complicated labour, as well as fewer neonatal complications for your baby (RANZCOG, 2016). 

    There is no evidence that regular exercise in an uncomplicated pregnancy has any detrimental effect to mum or baby (NICE, 2019). If you have any complications in your pregnancy or have any medical conditions that prevent you from exercising, please talk to your doctor or midwife for recommendations specific to your situation. 

    How often should I exercise?

    Pregnant women should try to be active on most if not all days of the week. If you have previously not been very active, try gradually building up to this - for example 3 or 4 non-consecutive days per week. 

    For how long?

    30 minutes per day is recommended with a maximum of 60 minutes. If you’re new to exercise, start with less i.e. 15-20 minutes and build up gradually to 30 minutes. 

    How hard should I work?

    This will depend on your current baseline level of fitness. If you have been inactive, maintaining a moderate intensity should be enough to get the benefits from exercise for health and well-being. If you are used to a high level of fitness and regular vigorous exercise there is no evidence that continuing with this level of exercise is in any way harmful to mum or baby. This being said, it’s really important to ensure you are not overheating and that you’re well-nourished and hydrated. 

    What type of exercise should I do? 

    The guidelines encourage women to perform both aerobic and strength-based exercises. Popular aerobic exercises include walking, swimming and static cycling. If you aren’t used to running, pregnancy isn’t the best time to start. However, if you’re a seasoned runner there is no reason to stop so long as you feel comfortable and you are adjusting your routine appropriately to accommodate for changes in comfort, tolerance and suitable intensity. 

    Strength based exercise should be aimed at the main muscle groups of the body and ideally 2 sessions per week on non-consecutive days. Resistance could be resistance bands, light weights or body weight. Women without prior experience can aim for 1-2 sets of 12-15 repetitions for each exercise. 

    Some things to avoid in pregnancy include: laying on your back for prolonged periods of time after your first trimester, any form of exercise where you might lose your balance or sustain a blow to the tummy; for example, horse riding and contact sports. If you experience any unusual symptoms while you’re exercising, abdominal pain or feel unwell, always contact your doctor or midwife immediately to seek medical attention. 

    Anything else to consider?

    As well as the aerobic and strengthening exercises the guidelines discuss, you might like to consider yoga classes for pregnancy. There is some preliminary evidence to suggest yoga for pregnancy can lower physical levels of pain including back pain, reduce stress, boost the immune system and reduce the likelihood of interventions in labour and birth (Jiang et al., 2014). A class is also a great opportunity to take some relaxing time for yourself and to meet other expectant mums. As a women’s health physiotherapist, I also stress the importance of functional pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy and in the postnatal period. 

    To summarise…

    In an uncomplicated pregnancy, try to aim for 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise on most days of the week. Importantly, find something you enjoy and take this time for yourself. Step outside your busy schedule and reap all the health benefits for you and that of your baby.

    If you would like some more tailored advice or an appropriate exercise programme for pregnancy, a pelvic health physiotherapist is an ideal person to design a programme for you. As well as exercise advice in pregnancy, they can help to treat pelvic girdle pain, low back pain, pelvic floor problems including incontinence and issues with abdominal muscle separation. 

    Bethany offers pelvic health physiotherapy appointments and pregnancy yoga classes at InForm Physiotherapy in Silverstream, Upper Hutt. Contact 04 527 4155 for bookings.



    1.     Jiang, Qinxian & Wu, Zhengguo & Zhou, Li & Dunlop, Jenae & Chen, Peijie. (2014). Effects of Yoga Intervention during Pregnancy: A Review for Current Status. American journal of perinatology. 32. 10.1055/s-0034-1396701. 

    2.     National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) Guidelines; Antenatal care for uncomplicated pregnancies. 2019

    3.     Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Exercise During Pregnancy. July 2016

  • 22 Oct 2019 10:25 AM | Anonymous

    Written by Dulce Piacentini, Holistic Sleep Consultant and Postpartum Doula at Motherly Hug

    It’s very common to see pregnant families preparing their baby’s room, buying baby’s clothes and accessories, also planning for birth, reading about it, making their choices… What we don’t see often is families preparing for postpartum. Antenatal courses touch briefly on the subject and are more focused on newborn care, showing families how to change nappies, swaddle, feed and burp their babies, all important subjects of course, but very little is said about the emotional roller coaster of postpartum and what you can do to have the mind, space and energy to deal with it when time comes.

    We, from Motherly Hug, always think of the postpartum period as a whirlwind. A whirlwind that happens physically and emotionally; in the body and in the soul. It’s easier to talk about the physical part. The body slowly going back to what it was before pregnancy (excluding the part of breastfeeding), the uterus contracts and returns to its place, you bleed for at least two weeks, the care with the scar of the surgery if you have gone through caesarean section, the recovery of the perineum, especially if there was laceration or episiotomy, the sudden drop in hormones, especially progesterone (at the same time as prolactin levels rise, if you breastfeed).

    Based on bodily changes, there are those who estimate the duration of the postpartum period in 40 days, but the truth is that, emotionally speaking, it lasts longer than those six weeks.

    The emotional roller-coaster comes to mark us forever. We may oscillate between intense joy and immense sadness. Between familiarity and strangeness. Between satisfaction and restlessness.

    Between gratitude and questioning. So much happens in this crossing between what we have been and what we will be! Like the chrysalis, we are transformed. And it’s intense, very intense. But it can be smooth. Intense and smooth, in this apparent contradiction.

    Hormones and the emotional well-being

    The physiological explanation for the emotional roller-coaster blames hormones. Not only there is a sudden drop in progesterone and estrogen, which were high in pregnancy, but prolactin (to produce breastmilk) comes in the scene, which makes us more sensitive.

    Apart from that, we must consider that we have just gone through one of the most important events of our lives, an unforgettable moment that will be with us forever. Whatever combination of hormones it is, it’s impossible not to be more sensitive, touched, with an open heart and soul. The mother's satisfaction with her birth experience, whether normal or surgical, greatly interferes with the level of the emotional turmoil at postpartum. The ones who keep fond memories of their baby's birth, even if it wasn't exactly as they dreamed, will feel stronger and more empowered to cope with the life-changing challenges they’re going through. On the other hand, the feeling of frustration and the emotional pain that some mothers have when they remember childbirth can make them more fragile and even more sensitive.

    The loss of identity

    Another important thing at postpartum, which plays a key role in our emotions, is the loss of identity. We are no longer who we were, but we don’t know yet who we will be as a mother. Our references are all far from our reality - work, hanging out with friends, going to a café, family lunches, going to the beach/movies, etc., now seem like distant memories. And those things and pleasures would “tell us” who we were. Now, on the contrary, we're dealing with new situations, and doing things for the first time can also make us nervous. To "aggravate", this time it’s serious. I mean, it’s not just butterflies in the stomach when driving for the first time after getting your driver's license, it’s not the nervousness we feel before going on a stage. It’s a vulnerable human being that depends on us. For everything! A little baby who doesn't come with a manual and who can't speak. It's such a responsibility that we may feel the weight of it on our shoulders for some time.

    The constant tiredness

    Tiredness adds to this equation. Whether it's because baby cries, or because we get up every hour to breastfeed, or because we care so much about the baby that we open our eyes from time to time during sleep to check if baby's okay, for whatever reason – after all every baby is unique and each family has its own experience – the fact is that the loss of good nights’ sleep also has an impact. Any tired human being becomes more irritable, with mood swings, more sensitive. Let alone a new mum. I remember those nights when I saw the sun rising without having slept one hour in a row… they gave rise to the days when I cried the most, when I wondered: what have I done with my life?

    Of course, each woman is unique and therefore each postpartum journey will have their own challenges. There are women who face postpartum feeling lonely, disconnected from their partner, with no family or friends around, and without the possibility to delegate the practical tasks of the house to others. There are women who, on the contrary, are never able to be alone because the visits keep coming, and they come with opinions, sometimes even judgments. In those situations, postpartum takes on proportions that I can’t even measure.

    So, for new mums to be able to deal with the emotional roller-coaster, which is something we can’t predict or precisely prepare for, there are things that can be done, especially while still pregnant, that will allow them the space, mind and energy to deal with the unpredictable and unprepared part of postpartum.

    I’ll be talking about them in the workshop “Preparing for Postpartum: The 4th trimester”, on the 2nd of November, from 1pm to 3pm, at Newlands Community Centre, in Wellington/NZ. Lots of useful information and practical tips that will give you the confidence you need that you’re paving a good road for a smooth and positive postpartum experience. Worth every cent and every minute of your time!

    Click here for more info!

    I look forward to sharing thoughts and tips with you!

  • 22 Oct 2019 9:58 AM | Anonymous

    This birth story is written by the birthing Mama, Alexa Pedersen shared via Luna Bloom.

    I believe strongly in the power and magic of natural undisturbed birth, which has led me to deep and extensive research about birth and all its faculties. I am now filled with gratitude and excitement to share the story of the most glorious and powerful experience of my life…

    Some weeks before the birth of my daughter a vision came to me, a vision of birthing outside, beneath our big oak tree, embracing nature and bringing my baby into my own hands. Though this vision was somehow counterintuitive to my own nature and to the elements of cosiness and darkness that are often preferred by labouring women. It felt like it had come from my baby and needed to be.

    And so it was….

    When morning dawned

    Labour began with a slight wet feeling in the middle of the night, and some minor cramps, a bit like menstrual cramps. I woke up excited but reminded myself that the process can stop and start so I stayed in bed for a while….but they kept coming!

    My partner Benji and I live in a yurt so we got up and started tidying the whole place, he even made a delicious soup! We snuggled, cuddled and kissed on the couch for a while, enjoying each sensation as they came along by the cosy warmth of the fire.

    Morning dawned and we went to visit the others on the land where we live to tell them our news, crouching in the grass to enjoy each surge while watching the baby calves and baby chickens.

    It surely felt like this was the right time of year to welcome a baby Earthside.

    The surges steadily progressed during the day and I spent time dancing, rocking my hips and using the braided red rope that was hung over the crown of the Yurt to support my labouring body.

    The surges steadily progressed during the day, each one felt so amazing and real, raw, right and so soo good!! I actually LOVED each surge…saying YES, YES, YES every time the sensation took over my body!

    I felt deeply connected to the many women who have laboured and birthed through time, thinking of my mother, my grandmothers and the red thread that connects my lineage and brought me here today.

    Wild and wonderful under a starry sky

    As night fell, our fire-heated outside tub was hot and ready for my body to clamber thankfully into as each surge grew more and more intense. My subconscious did the most amazing job of bringing awareness to all of the powerful words of wisdom I have gathered through time, allowing things to come through as I needed them. I remembered many birth affirmations that my friends gifted to me at my Mother Blessing two weeks before. “My body and my baby know what to do.” “Dance your baby down.” ” Each surge brings me closer to my baby” “My body was made for this”. Each affirmation was a powerful medicine and intention, bringing focus and meaning to my experience.

     I loved kissing Benji very deeply, it was a very sensual experience – so intimate. 

    I followed my intuition for when to move, to dance, to sing, as did my partner who was drumming, chanting or singing with me.

    It felt raw, real and wild being outside under the starry night sky. I felt the beautiful power and magic of my body, dancing my baby down!

    I got a little tired and kept falling asleep (even snoring!) between surges. At one point I reached down and could feel a tiny smushy patch of hair. My baby was coming! This got me so excited, so I woke again, and my body began to push…

    My power, her power, our power

     What an incredible, all consuming feeling…. it was truly my body doing it all, with no intention on my behalf! I had researched about the Fetal Ejection Reflex and here it was, in full force and beauty, my body birthing my baby. I was surrendering to what my body wanted to do. I stepped into an unexplainable POWER and surrendered to everything yet to come like I have never experienced before.

    I started to feel her wee head coming and remembered to let her slowly come through, so as to stretch me slowly…. she came three times and snuck back inside again.

    I was laughing, smiling and calling her, welcoming her to come. Benji said we were in deep dialogue together, her and I, as I called her, told her it was safe, she was loved and we were ready for her to join us. She was responding to me, hiccupping and wriggling inside.

    The fourth time, her head popped out. I sensed the intensity of fire.

    I reached down and felt her soft hair and two tiny ears. I was overwhelmed with love. I could feel her cord quite tight around her neck and wasn’t able to unhook it immediately so I knew I needed to bring her out in the next underwater push… so I did! That was the first and only time I consciously pushed during my birthing, rather than letting my body take the lead.

    Together Benji and I quickly unwrapped the cord and slowly let her find her way to the surface of the tub’s water. She opened her beautiful wise eyes and looked up at us from under the water. That moment burnt into my heart forever!

    A peaceful journey

    The whole journey was the most powerful and incredible moment of my life. I’m in awe of the perfection of the whole night and day, her, and how everything flowed and how magical it was!

    You know what? It actually felt AMAZING! The power of my own body bringing life Earthside!

    Suddenly the pool felt a bit cool, so we got out and went inside the yurt. We noticed she had some fluid in her lungs and was struggling to breathe. Benji started to work with her, blowing puffs of air into her lungs and giving her the breath of life, until she could breathe clearly on her own.

     At no point did I feel panic, I knew she still had her placenta attached, and that this functioned as her oxygen supplying organ, supporting her to digest, breathe, and live as it had for the last ten moons in my womb.

    She still had this connection for long after her birth, allowing the blood, iron and goodness to flow into her body through the intact umbilical cord. I trusted her, the process, and my deep knowing which I had within since the beginning – that everything will be beautiful and fine…. and it was! I have always wondered about my own intuition during birth, about how I would know what to do… and you know what? I knew what to do, just like that!

     We are madly in love with this tiny being who is so peaceful, calm and relaxed…. perhaps by nature or perhaps because of the way she entered this world.

  • 22 Oct 2019 9:54 AM | Anonymous

    This birth story is by birthing Mama, Emily Parks and shared via The Balanced Mama Project.

    Back story

    I know the majority of babies don’t come on their due date so I always said Olly would be born on Sunday June 11 – the day after his due date. This was never something I felt intuitively; I just thought I could handle waiting one extra night for our baby to arrive! June 10 came and went, then June 11 and suddenly we were one week, then nearly two weeks overdue.

    I had a pretty carefree attitude throughout my pregnancy but that all changed once we were 40 weeks and counting. Every morning I woke up felt like groundhog day – still pregnant, still no baby. I was suddenly so bored at home and becoming more emotional and anxious with every passing day. What made the situation worse was that my midwife was planning a 7 week trip around Europe and would be flying out of the country on the 22nd. I always knew I’d have another midwife for our postnatal care but I hadn’t prepared myself to go through labour with anyone other than my midwife (who I had built a relationship with over the past 9 months). I became fixated on this ‘final’ deadline and started to feel like my body was failing me as we started discussing the possibility of an induction.

    I tried every natural method possible to encourage our baby to begin his journey earthside. My midwife attempted a stretch and sweep four times before she left for her holiday (seriously unpleasant!), as well as giving me a concoction of homeopathic remedies to drink, clary sage to rub on my stomach, and encouraged plenty of sex and vigorous walking daily – I seriously tried it all – and more.

    On Wednesday 21 June I cried as I agreed to an induction for that coming Saturday and we were told to arrive at the hospital on Saturday 24 June at 7 pm. Writing these details out now makes me realise I was being a bit dramatic about the whole thing but I had my heart set on a fuss-free home birth. And while I always said I’d do whatever was best for the baby, I never thought I’d actually have to follow through with that and accept some level of intervention. I’d given up hope that labour would start spontaneously but went ahead and booked in for my second and final round of acupuncture on the Friday afternoon. If anything, I figured it would give me something to do.


    Early on Saturday morning I woke up feeling uncomfortable and figured I was having some strong Braxton Hicks. I went downstairs to lie on the couch but soon became uncomfortable in a lying position. I decided to time the ‘Braxtons’ at 6.50am and realised they were coming every 10 min. My partner came downstairs at 8am and I told him I’d been timing the contractions and they were coming pretty regularly. We both didn’t think anything was actually happening as we had the induction booked for that evening. I booked a midday appointment to get my eyebrows done and my partner left for the office to tidy up a few loose ends. I called the backup midwife to let her know our situation and told her I was having contractions every 10 mins but I remember hanging up and thinking I was definitely having 2-3 within 10 mins. As long as I was standing or moving around, the contractions were manageable. It was only when I sat down that I struggled with them. Something about being seated made me feel like I was trapped by the pain.

    Just as I was about to head to my appointment, my partner came home and said that he realised it probably wasn’t a good idea for me to be driving while having contractions – at this point I still didn’t think I was actually in labour but appreciated his thoughtfulness! We went to Plant Barn and bought some indoor plants while timing contractions. The app was telling us to go to the hospital but I still wasn’t convinced. All I kept thinking was “surely it should be worse than this?”

    All I kept thinking was “surely it should be worse than this?”

    At 11.30 am my partner called to cancel my appointment as we were walking around Takapuna. I suddenly wasn’t able to keep walking through the contractions and we decided it was best to head home. In the car ride I felt like everything suddenly amped up and by the time we got home I was pretty sure this was the real thing.

    Sometime between 2-3 pm we called the midwife to let her know my progress and asked about filling the pool. I remember being so anxious about getting in too early and slowing everything down but feeling like I really needed to get in the water. My partner rushed around filling the pool and laying plastic across our carpet while I went through the motions. The contractions came in surges and were so powerful. I didn’t have any of the ‘period-like’ pain they talk about rather, it was all in my back. I didn’t want to get too caught up in what I was feeling but did worry that the baby wasn’t in the right position because I’d read that posterior babies cause painful back labour. It took a while to get the pool set up and I got frustrated at my partner a few times for it taking so long. It might have been a good idea to practice this but we’d both got to a point where we thought we wouldn’t end up using it.

    It’s all a bit of a blur now but throughout the afternoon, before getting in the pool around 5 pm, labour was intense. The contractions would build up and I felt like I was being gripped around my hips – it was a pain I felt deep in my bones. A few times I desperately called out to my partner to push on my lower back and kept saying “push harder” even after my legs were shaking and I was struggling to stay standing against him pushing. But honestly, I never thought that I couldn’t do it and I truly believe you need to go into labour without any preconceived ideas about how painful it will be. I understand not everyone is able, or wants, to have a home birth but there’s something to be said for creating an environment you’re comfortable to labour in.

    While I was pregnant I read an article that explains how only a small percentage of labour is actually painful; the majority of labour is not painful at all yet the pain is all we talk about. This was such a revelation to me and I kept this in mind throughout the afternoon. Instead of dwelling on the pain and becoming fearful of the next contraction, I tried to focus on the rest I was experiencing between contractions – in those moments there is no pain!

    Around 5 pm I got in the pool and had about three very strong contractions which seemed slightly further apart than before. I was worried I’d got in the pool too soon but then almost immediately started experiencing contractions that had me involuntarily bearing down and desperately breathing through them. From my midwives notes, apparently we didn’t call her until 7 pm to ask her to come to the house. I had no sense of time throughout my labour and never checked my phone or looked at the clock so it makes sense that we took our time calling the midwife. I also think we both naively thought the baby wasn’t really coming so soon – he was two weeks late after all, surely he’d be a long time coming?!

    At 8 pm the midwife arrived and within 20 mins she’d called the backup midwife to ask her to come to the house. When I heard her say this on the phone I thought “maybe it’s nearly over?” because I knew the second midwife only comes for the actual birth, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up and went back to preparing myself for hours of labour.

    I was made to get out of the pool at 9 pm to attempt to pass urine (which didn’t happen on its own) and ended up labouring on the toilet for an hour. I could hear my partner and the second midwife chatting and both rushing around trying to keep the pool at the right temperature. However, once I got out of the pool I had no desire to get back in so their efforts were wasted. Just before 10 pm my midwife performed my first vaginal exam and was able to break the waters and push an anterior lip away. Apparently, this was what was preventing the labour to progress. At 10 pm I was in the lounge on my hands and knees and stayed this way until just before Olly was born, when I got into a squatting position to birth him. I didn’t actively decide to change positions but just remember suddenly feeling like I needed to get off my knees and onto my toes into a squat. It’s amazing how natural the labour and birth process is; no matter how much you know or don’t know about the whole thing, your body will do what it needs to do.*

    I feel incredibly lucky to have ended up with the birth I hoped for. I can’t believe how smoothly and ‘enjoyable’ the experience was. After giving birth, I was on a high for the first couple of days…until the dreaded night #2 hit and sleep deprivation killed my buzz! I felt so empowered at what I’d achieved and so amazed at this little person who emerged unscathed and thriving.

    * I was half a day away from needing an induction so I know that many births do not go to plan and sometimes our body’s do not do what they need to do. We are incredibly fortunate to live in a world with access to modern medicine and I appreciate the many ways in which we are able to give birth.

  • 22 Oct 2019 9:49 AM | Anonymous

    Mama Jessica shares her experience on how to prepare yourselves for the birth you vision. Jessica attended our online antenatal classes to help her achieve her best birth. Shared with permission of Jessica Mendes via Guided Space.

    Before and during my pregnancy I really enjoyed reading and hearing about other women’s birth stories for inspiration and advice so I thought I’d share my birth story in hopes of inspiring anyone else. Though everyone’s birth story and experience is completely different from the other, there’s always something new you can learn that can help you in your experience.

    Birth Plan
    From day one, I wanted a natural vaginal labor, medicinal free, and a holistic experience. I don’t necessarily mean a water birth or with a doula. Although I did have that in mind, I couldn’t resist the care of being in a hospital in case something went wrong in my situation because of some stories I’d heard. I just wanted to have a more soothing, holistic experience with music and calming birth affirmations as much as I could while in a hospital setting. I took an online holistic antenatal class via Empowered Parenthood and it really helped me feel more relaxed and knowledged on birthing and breastfeeding. I learned that I could give birth in different positions as opposed to the typical lie on your back position and learned many techniques on labor to help prepare my mindset for anything that could happen. I also researched A LOT about breastfeeding which was very crucial for me and even wrote a blog post on my breastfeeding experience so far after the first month to help future mamas. One year later and I’m still breastfeeding. :)

    From week 28 or so, Camila was already in the anterior position which is the "ideal" position for giving birth vaginally. It’s where the baby’s head is down in the cervix canal and facing your back. I was very excited but also nervous that she could turn around again, but luckily she didn’t!

    The Unexpected

    One thing I hadn’t heard about and was not prepared for was the pain of cervical checks for dilation. I went to the hospital on July 3rd thinking I was going into labor because my contractions were pretty bad. When the doctor checked my cervix for dilation which I thought was just a normal, simple painless procedure, I literally screamed so much from excruciating pain that my husband heard me down the hall in the waiting room. I instantly had tears coming down my face and asked the doctor wtf she was doing to me. Not kidding. She looked at me like I needed to calm down as if it was no big deal and asked why I was screaming. Calm down?! It felt like she was stabbing the hell out of me with a knife! I thought if I can’t handle a cervical check, how am I going to handle labor?! It turns out some women experience more pain during this process than others due to sensitivity but I can assure you it’s not the same pain as labor at all. Not every woman feels this way during cervical checks, but I’m one of the women who do apparently. The doctor said I wasn’t ready at all yet and told me to come back on July 13th unless my contractions were 5 minutes apart for about one minute each for an hour or 10 minutes apart for 2 hours. I was so bummed because I didn’t want to wait that long. My dad came to visit us on July 2nd and was only here for two weeks. I wanted him to meet his first grand baby and get to spend some time with her.

    Looking back at the pain I had leading up to the day of delivery, I’m pretty sure I had prodromal labor because I was having regular contractions for a few hours here and there for a few days and it was getting so exhausting dealing with the pain and the never ending waiting game for this baby to show. Because the contractions weren’t 5 minutes apart or less and not staying for more than 2 hours at a time I had to wait to go to the hospital until they were more consistent and deal with daily pain until I knew it was time.

    The big question people want to know is “How do you know when it’s time to go to the hospital and when it’s a false alarm?” My answer: Time your contractions religiously! I used one of my many pregnancy apps (Either Flo or Ovia) to track my contractions, and when they were between 5-10 minutes apart for two hours, getting stronger, and closer together I knew it was time.

    It’s Time!
    The next morning at 9:30am, I started having regular contractions. It was my birthday, July 4th, yes the big 4th of July, and I’m thinking “Omg yay! I could have a birthday baby!” but then I’d think “Omg are we seriously going to share birthdays? What if we hate that?” But in reality, I wanted her to be born on my birthday. I waited two hours and was still having regular contractions and also ended up bleeding a little when I went to the restroom so that was my final cue to go. We left around 12pm and I was pretty calm and collected. My husband and I grabbed our bags and left. My water hadn’t broken yet so I didn’t feel panicky because I knew this could take a while.

    When we arrived at the hospital, the nurses monitored my contractions and they were regular but still no dilation at all. It was so annoying because they hurt like hell but we had to wait until I dilated… And yes I had to get those dreadful cervical checks every so often for dilation, but I told them to be gentle every time and they got better at it each time.

    I waited in the waiting room with my husband but I was getting antsy with the pain just waiting around doing nothing so we grabbed a meal in the cafeteria all while I was trying to breathe through my contractions and fighting through the tears. We went back to the maternity dept at around 6pm and I told them I couldn’t handle the pain of contractions anymore. They told me to take a shower to relax. Didn’t work. Then they checked me again and I was about 2-3 cm dilated. Because I was dilating very slowly, they gave me an injection for the pain of the contractions to see if they were real birth contractions or not because I wasn't dilating and to see if it would help relax me and make me dilate. It barely worked. 

    I continued having regular contractions and finally dilated just a little so they put me in the labor room. I was so relieved about this because I was beyond ready to have this baby. Two midwife nurses came in and started prepping me and the room for labor. They asked if I was going to get the epidural. I was shaking not knowing what I wanted because I was in pain but felt maybe it was bearable so I could go all natural. They kept convincing me that it’s not worth being in pain when I can just enjoy it. They also said I could have the weak epidural to where I could walk around so my legs wouldn’t be numb. That to me seemed reasonable but I was so indecisive I wanted my husband in the room with me to help me decide but for some reason they wouldn’t allow him in there yet. Then around 8pm was when the anaesthesiologist came to see if I wanted the epidural and administer it. This is now 11 hours after the contractions first started that morning.

    The Epidural
    I have to say out of all the doctors and nurses I faced the days I stayed at the hospital, the anaesthesiologist was the absolute WORST. Before you get scared about the actual epidural itself, that was not the issue at all. The doctor came in and asked if I wanted the epidural and told me about the risks. I was very hesitant and indecisive because I wanted the all natural birthing experience and was scared about getting paralyzed or having permanent back problems down the road. I know the doctors are experienced but he said it himself, it happens. I thought I could maybe handle the labor pain, but when he told me the pain only gets worse the more I dilate and the fact that I had only dilated 3 cm and was in enough pain as it was, I told myself it’s not worth making my birth experience a crappy one when I can be more relaxed. I then requested the epidural that lets me walk around and move. This is where it gets bad. Because I was shaking from the pain and nerves I could not fully control my body and the doctor got so angry with me while trying to inject the epidural. He kept yelling, not telling, YELLING at me to lower my head so he could find the perfect spot on my spine to inject. This was not making it any easier for me to calm my nerves, so I asked if I could play some music to help me relax because I literally couldn’t and tried so hard, and he sternly told me no because he doesn’t like music. It was terrible. Luckily I had a nurse there in front of me to hold my hand and remind me to breathe through it all. I don’t remember feeling any pain while he injected the epidural. I just remember feeling something a little chilly but that was it and then I just kept getting worried I would accidentally pull on it if I laid wrong on it but all was fine. 

    Moving on, the midwife came and broke my water and gave me another injection at midnight to help me dilate. I believe it was oxytocin / Pitocin because it worked wonders. I slept till 2am and at 2:30 the midwife came in and told me I was fully dilated.

    I was a bit sad when I realized it was no longer the 4th of July in Portugal which meant she wouldn’t be born on my birthday but I knew she would still be the best birthday gift ever and technically in the US, it was still the 4th of July and she would be born around the time fireworks were going off.

    The Pushing

    It was around 2:45am and the midwife asked me to push whenever I was ready but I couldn't feel my legs so it was hard to push. I asked her to decrease the epidural and I began pushing as soon as I could feel my legs more. 

    I began pushing around 3am and asked the midwife if I could get in the squatting position and have music playing in the background and she said yes. I was so relieved because it was exactly how I wanted my delivery to be. I had Joe start my delivery playlist on Spotify and the first song that played was “My Girl” from The Temptations, which to me was perfect because I couldn’t wait to meet my little girl. I said “ok let’s do this!” It felt like background music to a movie. I was really happy and in the moment and so grateful that I had the best midwife ever. She told me she could see my baby’s head and that it was covered in hair. I asked if I could touch it and she let me! It was such an incredible feeling to be able to experience that and just be so comfortable pushing while squatting and not feeling any pain at all but still feeling in control. I remember feeling at peace for a bit and asking Archangel Michael and Rafael to surround me with their love and protection and guide me in this experience and make me feel their warmth. I truly felt something special. The power of breathing and mindfulness works like a champ when you remember to use it. 

    However, I lost focus and my legs were eventually giving up on me after pushing in the squatting position for about 15-20 minutes so I thought I could lay back for a bit to rest and go back to squatting position after, but I put my legs up on the leg rests and began pushing again. I honestly feel like I shouldn’t have done that, because after I laid down was when it really started to hurt. I feel that if I continued squatting, gravity would naturally do its thing and make the delivery go a lot smoother.

    I think either because I had requested to ease off the epidural or because I laid down on my back, I started to feel every contraction again but this time 1,000 times worse just like the anaesthesiologist said, and I had to push with each contraction but that was what hurt the most. The insides of my belly felt like they were being ripped apart. I’ve asked other women about this feeling and so far no one has said they felt that except one girl that shared the post delivery room with me and I think my cousin. Most women talk about the ring of fire which I thought was in the vaginal area, but I felt a ring of fire inside the womb. Maybe it’s the same thing? Anyway, I almost gave up in that moment. I honestly felt like I was going to die because of the excruciating pain. It was so bad that I was crying hysterically saying I couldn’t anymore, which made Joe cry. I looked at him and his face was in tears, voice cracking telling me I could do this and repeating birth affirmations even though he hated seeing me in so much pain. When I saw I was making him cry I remember thinking, “no, I’m not making my husband cry” so I tried harder because I didn’t want to give up on him. I pushed for about 2-5 minutes of that excruciating pain but it felt like it was never ending. 
    I have to admit it’s a bitch when you can’t feel like you can push anymore. You’re pushing so hard and in so much pain and feeling like nothing is progressing. The midwife asked if she could give me a small episiotomy because her head would not come through at all. I said yes right away and I didn’t feel a thing. Didn’t feel her cut me nor the stitches afterwards. All I felt was slight pressure. It’s amazing how as soon as her head came out I could feel the difference in having to push and then her body just easily slid right out. The moment I felt her come out was a relief and I instantly reached my arms out for her and basically thought “just give me my baby.” 

    Meeting Camila for the First Time

    Camila was born in Faro, Portugal on July 5, 2018 at 3:43am weighing at 2.810 kilos / 6.2 lbs. She was so tiny to me and I really thought she’d be bigger but she was perfect and healthy. I didn’t cry right away like most moms do. I thought I would because I’m one of the most emotional, sentimental people I know. Instead, I was very serious and taking it all in, making sure she was okay and admiring how she looked. Everything else around me was a blur. She was the only thing I was focused on, but the moment I realized what song was playing on in the background, that’s when I cried, because let’s face it, hearing the words “Home is wherever I’m with you” while seeing my baby for the first time was the perfect way for me to start my life with her. She was so alert, staring right at me. I know she can’t actually see me, but she knew I was her mom because she calmed with me as soon as the nurse took her to weigh her and gave her back to me. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever laid eyes on, hair all over her head and her tiny little arms and back. I was in shock because I had never seen that before but she was my gorgeous beam of light. People always told me love for a child is unconditional and unlike any other kind of love. I never knew a love so strong could exist but it does and it did the moment I met her. I love her more and more each day. Would I do it all over again? In a heartbeat. <3

    I hope you enjoyed my story. Please feel free to share your comments below or ask me any questions on anything you’d like to know more about. Maybe you related to it or maybe it gave you insight on what to prepare for on your delivery or gave you inspiration somehow. I’d love to know your thoughts. :)

    If you'd like to see a video of some moments of the delivery, feel free to check out the video below.

  • 22 Oct 2019 9:44 AM | Anonymous

    This birth story is written by birthing Mama, Aarti Mehta.

    She birthed at the amazing #Sanctum which is a natural birthing centre in Hyderabad, India who's mission it is to 'to effect change in bringing Healthy and Safe Natural Birth practices in India, One Mother-at-a-Time'.

    The Mother's journey

    From Pain To Power

    From feeling powerless to taking charge -

    First Birth: C-Section in April 2017 at 40wks+5 at a leading private maternity hospital in Bangalore.

    Second Birth: VBAC in August 2019 at 42wks+1 at The Sanctum

    Aarti's Version

    We got to know about The Sanctum in the Lamaze classes we took during first pregnancy. Brushed off the idea to travel to Hyderabad instantly at that time. Why?

    I guess we were overconfident that with knowledge from books, support groups and Lamaze classes we will be able to navigate the very commercial medicalized birth system that exists currently.

    That pregnancy was eventful with a fractured foot, GDM, SPD pain and an IUGR scare. We changed 2 doctors and finally found someone who was willing to wait at least till 40 weeks with GDM.

    (It's quite common in our medical system for women with GDM to be induced at 38 weeks)

    At 40wks+3 (2 days before my scheduled induction date). I consulted Dr Vijaya over the phone for some advise on how to manage the induction in the best possible way. By then I was pretty convinced that an induction at a hospital is unlikely to lead to a normal delivery.

    At the end of the call she asked, if my husband would be willing to drive me to Hyderabad next morning and I was sure that he won't. With a heavy heart I ended the call and accepted my fate.

    After delivery I consoled myself

    -that I carried my baby till 40wk+5

    -that I did not need to take insulin even though doctors did not believe in my resolve to manage it by diet and exercise

    -that I escaped being forced into taking steroid injection at 32 weeks

    Postpartum Recovery was difficult. I used to wake up every day feeling as if I were run over by bus at night. After visiting a few doctors I concluded that I need to re-build my strength from scratch and so I got started after my daughter turned 8months.

    After about 6months of diet, exercise and focusing on myself I felt better. And at that time I got on Skype with Dr Vijaya for a preconception counselling.

    Second Pregnancy

    I was determined not to get GDM again, hence maintained a good diet and exercise regimen.

    I shared the news of my second pregnancy with Dr Vijaya when I was 20weeks and we met her in Hyderabad at 28weeks.

    Other than Pelvic Girdle Pain / SPD from 8th week onwards, I did not have any other issues through out the pregnancy.

    We set our base in Hyderabad from 36 weeks onwards. Prenatal Yoga, Prenatal Aerobics Weekly appointments, keeping our toddler engaged and some sightseeing occupied our days and weeks that we were there.

    Each Prenatal Aerobics used to give such an endorphins boost! I felt sweaty but energized after each class.

    Early Morning Prenatal Yoga was calming and meditative.

    As weeks passed, the messages/calls started flowing in about "what is the news" !

    Crystal's wisdom kept me in my tracks and not take any stress of social pressure.

    I had increased my physical activity as weeks passed by. There were days when I would do yoga in the morning, aerobics in the day and a 45min walk in the evening. No signs of labor but I felt great about my body's ability!

    At 41wks+3, a scan was advised. Everything looked good and we accepted Natural Induction as the next step. Three days of Natural Induction with a very very slow progress, we then accepted Medical Induction at 42 weeks.

    We had blind faith at The Sanctum team. That is the reason we travelled from Bangalore. So that we have a care provider we can trust.

    And that is what we did! Just went with the flow.

    The progress was still slow through the day and just when my confidence started to break by evening, Dr Vijaya's tiger mom attitude and words took me out of that slump.

    I continued laboring through the night with support of Erin (our Doula), Kiran, Nurses and my husband. Managed the contractions by staying well hydrated, changing positions, deep breathing and back massage.

    By morning I was exhausted, weak, nauseated and hopeless to continue. My husband tried but could not get me out of that zone. And that is the EXACT time when Dr Vijaya's Prowess was seen to be believed! She gave me a mocktail of tough love and motivation to go on. Above all, she showed blind faith in my ability just like I had in hers. The next few hours were the final test of my determination for VBAC.

    We went through many manouvers over the next two hours with everyone supporting me through each and every contraction.

    One final Internal exam at about 11am with a big grin and high five from Dr Vijaya - "Aarti we are at 8 cm!"

    But I was again out worn out and doubting myself. I'm moved to the toilet seat to get a hot shower before the final leg of the labor marathon. The shower doesn't happen but what takes place is beyond my comprehension. With each contraction I feel an unimaginable pressure and strong urge to push through my butt. The pain intensity is highest at that point. And I instinctively squat several times at each contraction. I hang on to my husband, looked into Dr Vijaya's eyes and Erin continued to massage my back. I felt disconnected from everyone, could not hear anyone and just squatted and grunted for a while which seemed like eternity to me!

    Then I hear the words "birth stool" and I felt shocked am I really that close to the Grand finale!

    I had thought of pushing to be the most difficult but within a few pushes on the birth stool, after 24 hours of laboring, our 3.5kg healthy baby boy arrived!

    The experience has left me empowered to feel that I can do anything! And who did that magic to empower me? Dr Vijaya and The Sanctum team!

    A woman needs a birth team, mine comprised of my husband, midwives, a doula in the foreground and our Nanny and my Mother in law in the background who took care of our toddler.

    The father's journey of VBAC

    From being husband to being Birth Partner

    Vikram's Version

    Leap of faith:

    We had our first baby through c-section because of our modern medical system's heist (let's leave it at that for now) and for our second pregnancy we were determined to try our best for a natural birth. We packed our suitcases and with our 2 year old toddler moved to an airbnb in Hyderabad (a completely alien city for us) during 36th week of pregnancy. It was very rough on all of us to get uprooted and that pressure cooker of questions from everyone made it even more difficult. But we told ourselves over and over again: we are here to give ourselves the best shot by being with The Sanctum.

    Marathon :

    From 36th week onwards there were series of sessions of aerobics, yoga, lamaze etc. Every week's consultation session with Crystal or Dr. Vijaya was a fresh start of the week with great vibes in sharp contrast to last pregnancy's doctor visits where we were scared and poked everytime with tests, scans and were told how sensitive things were and how careful we should be. Aarti was doing jumping jacks now at 40weeks!

    At 41wk 3days our go to plan was to start with natural induction but even after 8 hours per day of hard work for 3 days, we reached end of our 42nd week without rhythmic contractions. They were coming and going. At 42.1 weeks, pitocin drip was started and then started the last mile run. After 14 hrs of hard labor, dilation was still only 4cm. Baby's head position was not optimum. She was in haze and was finished physically. Almost raised the white flag when she got to know about the progress.

    Second wind :

    At Sanctum, they don't give up on you even when you do. She was suggested to try out different positions during contractions. With no energy to even standup she cried in my arms and said that she is about to faint and can't go further. But with the belief that second wind is around the corner, she took the first step and eventually finished the full circuit of positions in close monitoring of everyone and that too while going through sharp waves of contractions. Second wind came from her belief in everyone around her and the stamina she gathered from all those trainings sessions.

    Third Wave :

    By the end of this circuit of positions white flag was out. In energyless whisper in my ear she said "I am done. Second wind is gone. Can't continue". And I agreed. The third wind was Dr Vijaya. She sat next to an exhausted Aarti and asked her to look into her eyes. She caught hold of her soul and with her words made Aarti stand up again. She told her that next part is going to be the toughest and will make sure that she will see her on other side. This followed by squats and positions with Dr Vijaya working with Aarti with Rebozo, her eyes and words. I was in tears to see Aarti go through this part but it was a mystical dance of a possessed body of mother in labor, and her midwife. The last maneuver that Dr Vijaya made Aarti do was a rare masterpiece according to other midwife and doula in the room. It was a woman in labor in almost a backward tilt position during contractions. After all this, Aarti and I were 100% done without a doubt. And then Dr Vijaya told that baby is in great position now and we should get ready for final stage and actually the hardest in the book : the pushing.

    Victory lap :

    Though it's the hardest stage in the textbook labor but I knew by now that with the support we have in the room it will be the easiest. Aarti was taken to the shower and room was getting ready for the last stage. Again while pushing on the toilet seat Aarti's eyes were just in Dr Vijaya's eyes again and soon only last few pushes were required. We had a beautiful birth on birthing stool in front of mirror with my wife in my arms and baby coming out. We just laughed and cried for a few minutes and soaked in the moment.

    Special thanks to :

    Dr Vijaya : When she is around you can feel her control and you jump when she says jump :) . You want her to tell you what to do.

    Crystal : She can make decisions for you and you will know that decision is right because during her consultations she will ask all the right questions and will get to know mother well physically and mentally

    Kiran : She is the horse power of the center. Usually the first responder during day or night and can be always seen with one mother or another. I don't think she sleeps :)

    Erin: Our doula who is from US and moved from Cambodia for a while to intern with The Sanctum. She was like Aarti's 4am friend who is a great listener and is always there for you. If The Sanctum is run by midwife, she was the mid-husband during our birth :) as Aarti's second full time partner during whole labor.

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