getting to know your baby before birth

Getting to know your baby before birth

getting to know your baby before birth

You don’t need to wait until your baby is born to get to know them. Getting to know your baby can begin during your pregnancy or maybe even before conception. Your relationship with your baby, like all relationships, needs nurturing. As baby is growing in your womb you may feel that you are gradually getting to know them better.

The early relationship you, your partner and family have with your baby is so important. This is as true before they are born as when they arrive.

The development of your baby’s brain begins from conception, before you even know you are pregnant. By week 8, electrical activity begins in the brain allowing your baby to co-ordinate their first (spontaneous) movements that can be seen on an ultrasound scan. Brain cells begin sending messages to each other and by the 18th week of pregnancy, your baby will have developed between one to two billion brain cells. During the last three months of pregnancy and the first two years of life, your baby’s brain develops rapidly.

Its never too early to start talking and singing to your baby and sharing stories.

The connections that are formed in the brain before the birth include baby’s hearing. Your baby can hear sounds from at least 18 weeks, and maybe even earlier. At first the baby hears sounds in your body, tummy gurgling and your heartbeat. At around 26 weeks babies in the womb can recognise mum’s voice but will recognise other voices that they hear frequently too. dad, siblings. Babies after birth will turn to the sound of their parent’s voice in preference to that of a stranger. From the moment that they are born, they will want to communicate with you. It is good to try to understand how your baby might be feeling.

Talking to your baby while pregnant is an important part of developing a relationship with them and helps them to bond with you. Thinking of them like a little person. Getting to know your voice makes them feel safe and secure and helps their development. After 32 weeks your baby may start to recognise certain vowel sounds from your language. Some research suggests that very early language development may begin before birth.

Find a quiet time when you and your baby can focus on each other and use a tuneful sing song voice. It doesn’t matter what music or song – if you like it so will your baby.

If you can’t think of anything to say, just start with a chat to your baby about your day or tell a story or a short children’s nursery rhyme. Rhythm and rhyme are easy for your baby to hear. You could read your favourite book or a magazine. Try calming stories when your baby is quiet or bedtime. Say goodnight before you go to bed and hello when you wake up.

Keep it going after your baby’s birth. Babies remember what they hear in the womb and hearing something familiar can be soothing.

Not everyone feels comfortable talking to their bump, however. Everyone’s different.

Feeling your baby.

During pregnancy you may start to recognise that your baby may be responding to your own movements or your mood. Baby may become active when certain music is played or hears your voice. Tune in to what your baby is responding to and to what your baby may be trying to tell you. Give yourself time to reflect, be still in the moment, go for a walk or have a warm bath and think about the baby. You may like to write a diary or stories to the baby about what you are experiencing.

Your baby is protected and nestled inside you, warm and cosy, hearing your heartbeat, getting constant nourishment from your placenta and able to reach out and touch themselves and you. Feel the baby by placing your hands on your abdomen and rest your hands quietly, feeling the baby move and kick. Gently stoke and rub your tummy and feel your baby respond. Dads can enjoy this too if it feels comfortable.

Having an ultrasound scan during pregnancy.

Seeing your baby via ultrasound scan particularly in the early weeks before you can feel any movement can reassure you that baby exists can increase the feeling that baby is real. Seeing your baby, often leaping about inside the womb for the very first time can be a very reassuring experience.  ‘Seeing is believing’ and the reality of a baby coming is reaffirmed. Often it is not until after the first scan that new parents share their exciting news with family and friends as they feel reassured, and they start to connect to their baby.

Have an ultrasound photograph that you can keep close and look at when you want to share a moment with your baby. Dads too might like to carry a picture of the ultrasound to feel connected to baby.

Getting to know your baby after birth.

We have all heard of ‘skin to skin’ and the high levels of oxytocin that happen right after birth. This encourages bonding and attachment to your baby. The new baby knows mum, recognises her smell, her heartbeat, even taste through the amniotic fluid. A mother and baby communicate with each other using sight, sound, and touch. Some new mums don’t experience this fully right away as they can feel exhausted or overwhelmed or feel concerned about their baby’s health. It is always good to remember that bonding and attachment evolve, and you can always revisit skin to skin – As you care for baby, just holding them, feeding them or nappy changing caring for your baby and being their primary care giver comforts them. All these activities help you both to connect to each other. Your baby needs you and you need them.

Bonding with your baby is likened to building a brick wall. To make a strong wall you build a good foundation with you as their mother being the primary care giver for your baby. Then you lay the bricks with the cement of love. This holds everything else together and makes the wall strong. The bricks are the activities that make a growing baby happy, healthy, and safe. The bricks are the kisses, warmth, good food, warmth, a safe home, talks, cuddles, clean clothes, clean nappies, laughs, stories, medical check-ups, bedtimes, playtimes, rules and attention.

Talk to someone about your feelings and ask questions when you see your maternity or postnatal team. Try to increase your support network and meet other expectant and new mums to share your experiences. Try to look after your own health and wellbeing, and make sure you get enough rest and relaxation.

ways to increase oxytocin during a c-section

Ways to increase oxytocin during a C-section birth

As we approach the end of caesarean section awareness month, we thought it was important to share ways to increase oxytocin during a C-section birth. This post is to help support and empower all you amazing mums are who are having a planned C-section birth. Sometimes, for medical reasons, a C-section may be the safer option for you and your baby rather than a vaginal birth, or you may choose to have a C-section for other reasons. Don’t be afraid to ask your consultant doctor or midwife for more information. They can explain the benefits and risks as well as discussing all your birth options. They will help and support you to make informed choices about your care and your birth.

 When it comes to birth, knowledge is power.

Oxytocin, known as the ‘love hormone’, is produced in the brain in response to positive experiences such as cuddling and kissing. Oxytocin is strongly linked to our emotions – fear and anxiety can decrease it whereas, feeling calm and relaxed can increase it.

We know about its significant role in labour causing powerful uterine contractions. But its job is so much more than that. As discussed in our previous ‘birth hormones’ blog, oxytocin makes us feel good, relaxed and triggers nurturing feelings which deepens the mother and baby bond and encourages maternal behaviour. It helps to facilitate breastfeeding by helping the breasts to lactate and the milk to flow to the baby, by triggering the let-down reflex.

So, you can see why it is just as important for our brain to produce oxytocin even if we don’t labour and have a C-section birth.

So how can this be achieved?

  • Oxytocin is strongly linked to our emotions. Fear and anxiety decrease its levels. Feeling calm and relaxed can increase it. So, using relaxed breathing and hypnobirthing techniques before, during and following your caesarean will help you to feel calm and more in control.
  • Delayed cord clamping and allowing mum to be the first person to lay her hands on her baby.
  • Bringing the baby straight to mum’s chest for skin to skin and drying off with a warm towel. There is lots of evidence that this can help mums feel immediately better about the birth of their lovely baby.
  • Avoiding separation of mum and baby unless there is an urgent medical need.
  • Having an opportunity to have uninterrupted bonding, perhaps delaying the ‘routine checks’ and weighing just a little longer.
  • Letting mum and baby touch, nuzzle, kiss, smell and stroke each other will stimulate that all important natural oxytocin.
  • The excitement. The happiness and the relief of seeing your baby for the first time. You can experience all of these at the same time.
  • That special opportunity to have a quiet everlasting memorable moment with your partner or birth partner.

Having a C-section, in particular can cause lots of emotions that you may not feel prepared for. Talking about it and educating yourself about it can help.

There is no reason, why this can’t be achieved at most caesarean births. Talk to your midwife and your birth team about what is possible for your birth. They are professionals and humans, who want to make sure your birth experience is the most memorable day of your life. They will go the extra mile to ensure that your experience is the best that they can give. Don’t be afraid to ask for clear and transparent advice and to make your own suggestions.

Being honest about how you are feeling will help your whole birth team to support you.

To find out more about our C-section Birth Prep courses, just contact us.

doula tips fourth trimester

A doula’s tips for surviving the fourth trimester

doula tips fourth trimester

To celebrate World Doula Week (22 March – 28 March), we met Nicola, ‘Doula-of-Belfast’, to discuss her top tips for the fourth trimester as well as her role as a doula in the postnatal period.

Nicola’s top tips for the fourth trimester postnatal tips include:

  • Take time to recover
  • You are baby’s safe place
  • The dishes can wait
  • Lots of skin-to-skin
  • Hire a doula

As a birth and postnatal doula, Nicola provides physical and emotional support for mums-to-be during the process of giving birth and in the postnatal period after delivery. There is no better place to see a doula making a difference to a new family than with postnatal doula services. So much preparation goes into preparing for birth, and that is right and good, but how much prep goes into life with a newborn? It doesn’t all come easily. Getting a supportive team around you is imperative. It has been said it takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to help and nurture the parents.

In today’s modern world, our family and friends may be unavailable to help us out. Parents may still be working, and our friends could be scattered across the globe. This is where having a postnatal doula is an investment.

We asked Nicola to describe a typical day in her life and she explained:

“I will come into your home, make a pot of tea and a nourishing snack for you as we discuss how I can help you for the day.
While you take some time to catch up on sleep, essential care, or catch up with friends, I will take baby, if you would like, settle him/her down, and put a load of laundry on, prep that evening’s meal or help the other kids with homework or make space for you to have one-to-one time with the other children.  Maybe you would prefer to discuss and process your birth, or have some breastfeeding support. Perhaps you need some essential groceries for the weekend. I can get those on my way to you.”

Western society has dictated that we should be “back to normal” immediately. But becoming a mother, there is now a new normal. Our bodies need time to recover from birth and pregnancy. We need to use that time to bond with and get to know our new baby. Responsibilities change, but unfortunately they still need our attention.

Postnatal doulas will help you prioritise and lighten the load in those first few months of sleepless nights, uncertainty and incredible overwhelm.

If you would like to find out more about how Nicola can support you, send her a DM (@doula_nicola_jayne), or email nicolajayne@doulaofbelfast.co.uk.

hormones birth oxytocin

Hormones and birth: the role of oxytocin

hormones birth oxytocin

You will have four major hormonal systems active when you are in labour and after birth. A cocktail of hormones that nature prescribes. You and your baby are born with the natural ability to go into labour and give birth, breastfeed and become deeply bonded to each other. The flow of hormones in your body drives these finely tuned and complex processes. It is important that you know how these birth hormones work. You also need to understand how to work with and avoid disrupting these natural processes. This will help you to make informed decisions regarding your birth.

Birth hormones are chemical messengers that your body makes. These hormones originate in the deepest parts of the brain and cause physical processes as well as a powerful influence on emotions.  Your baby makes birth hormones too. These hormones work together to help make labour and birth go smoothly and safely for both of you.

Birth hormones help to guide you and your baby in many ways. Such as:

  • Getting your body ready to give birth
  • Starting your labour contractions
  • Driving your contractions during labour
  • Telling your breasts to make milk and getting your baby ready to breastfeed
  • When you and your baby fall in love, birth hormones are part of those feelings too

Let’s talk about Oxytocin.

Oxytocin is often known as the “hormone of love” or the “shy hormone” because it is involved with sexual activity, fertility, contractions during labour, birth and the release of breastmilk during breastfeeding. It helps us to feel good, relaxed and it triggers nurturing feelings.

Oxytocin is the most powerful contraction-causing hormone. Contractions that are essential to the birth process, thinning and opening the cervix, moving the baby down and out of the birth canal, pushing out the placenta and limiting bleeding.

Low levels of oxytocin during labour and birth can cause problems. These include:

  • Contractions can slow down or stop, making labour last longer or even stall and can be more painful
  • Increasing the need for medical interventions
  • Increased bleeding after birth

However, there are several ways that you can promote your body’s production of oxytocin.

  • Staying calm, comfortable and having confidence in your body and capabilities as a woman. Fear is a disruptor to oxytocin production and the natural birthing process. The use of relaxation, hypnobirthing and breathing techniques will help you to feel in control.
  • Avoiding disturbances during labour and birthing such as unwelcome people, conversation, noises, lighting, and uncomfortable procedures. Ensure a private, warm and a cosy protective birthing environment.
  • Staying upright and having the freedom to move with your natural birthing instinct. Gravity helps your baby to press against your cervix during labour. Listen to your body. Birth mats, birth balls, peanut balls and pillows in the birth space will help you find the most comfortable positions that feel right for you.
  • Stimulating your nipples before birth and actions of your baby suckling after birth increases the release of oxytocin.
  • Enjoying skin to skin and eye contact with your baby also optimises oxytocin release.
handle morning sickness

How to handle morning sickness

handle morning sickness

 

 

 

 

 

 

Approximately 70-80% of pregnant women experience morning sickness to some degree. For most women, symptoms are relatively mild. However, vomiting and nausea can be severe for around 3% of pregnant women who experience it, particularly in the first trimester. This is called hyperemesis gravidarum. If you are experiencing morning sickness (or nausea/vomiting at any time of the day), let your midwife or GP know.

As the name suggests, morning sickness is worst early in the day yet it can strike at any time and can affect your daily life. Typically, it starts around nine weeks after conception and usually clears up by weeks 16 to 20 of your pregnancy. Common symptoms include vomiting and nausea, often triggered by heat, certain odours or foods, spicy food. Often, there are no triggers.

We have put together some tips to help relieve morning sickness symptoms:

  • Try to get plenty of rest as tiredness can make nausea worse
  • Pay attention to nausea triggers and stay away from foods or smells that make you feel ill
  • Eat small meals and eat often
  • Try to eat foods high in carbohydrate and low in fat
  • It is important to stay hydrated so drink plenty of fluids
  • Ginger seems to alleviate morning sickness for some women so try eating foods or drinks containing ginger
  • Try acupressure – some evidence suggests that putting pressure on your wrist, using a specific band/bracelet, can help relieve symptoms.
  • Reflexology can calm down upset digestive and kidney systems through your feet. By applying pressure to a specific ‘reflex point’, a messenger travels to the corresponding area in your body to deliver its’ message, which could decrease your morning sickness and nausea symptoms. Check out our BirthDays reflexology course for more information.

Morning sickness can be an uncomfortable but encouraging reminder that you’re pregnant. The same hormones that make you feel sick are also helping your baby to grow. However, if you have tried the tips above and find your symptoms have not improved, let your midwife or GP know.

colostrum harvesting - Northern Ireland, belfast

Everything you need to know about breastfeeding

everything you need to know about breastfeeding

Breastfeeding may be natural but it’s also a skill that takes practice. About one in three mums need extra support at some point. If you have good information, support and the confidence you need, you are likely to be able to overcome any difficulties. BirthDays offers a ‘baby feeding’ course which covers everything you need to know about feeding your baby – whether that’s by bottle or breast.

As a breastfeeding mum, keeping your milk supply balanced is one of your top priorities.

Many mums worry that their baby may not be getting enough milk. Sometimes you may be mistaken in thinking you have not got enough milk but this can happen at any time – either because breastfeeding has not got off to a good start or because breastfeeding problems haven’t been solved. Only a small number of new mums have some difficulty producing enough breast milk due to medical reasons, for example following a large blood loss (more than 500mls) during the birth, hormonal disorders, diabetes, thyroid problems or previous breast surgeries. Speak to your midwife if this applies to you.

Signs your baby isn’t getting enough milk

Slow weight gain

Babies are individual and it is normal for newborns to lose weight in the first few days as they use their fluid and fuel stores. After that, they should start to gain weight. Slow weight gain can be normal for some babies but for others, it can be a sign that they are not getting enough milk. A baby who is not getting enough will continue to lose weight and be slower to regain their birth weight. Most breastfed babies should regain their birthweight by 2 weeks, but this can vary greatly. It is important to talk to your midwife, health visitor or GP if you have any concerns.

Insufficient wet or dirty nappies

The number of wet or dirty nappies your baby has is a good indicator of whether or not your baby is getting enough milk. Most babies have a dirty nappy several times a day in the first weeks and within the first 3 to 4 days they should have soft, runny poo’s.

On days 1 and 2, your baby will have two or more wet nappies and one or more dirty nappy of meconium (the first dark black poo).

With the latest disposable nappies, it may be hard to tell if they are wet, so to get an idea if there is enough urine, take a fresh nappy and add 2 to 4 tablespoons of water. This will give you and idea of how heavy a nappy should be.

On days 3 and 4, expect three or more wet nappies and two or more dirty green nappies.

After day 5, your baby should have at least six heavy wet nappies and by days 5 and 6, have a soft yellow poo at least once to three or more times every day.

By days 10 to 14, your baby should pass frequent soft runny poos every day with 2 poos being the minimum you would expect.

After 4 to 6 weeks, when breast feeding is more established, this may change with some babies going a few days or more without producing a dirty nappy. Breast fed only babies don’t usually become constipated and when they do poo it will be soft yellow and abundant.

Tips for increasing breast milk production

Start breastfeeding as soon as you can

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends early and uninterrupted skin to skin contact between mothers and infants as soon as possible after birth. This helps to initiate early breastfeeding within one hour of birth, providing the baby with colostrum which is rich in antibodies and essential nutrients.

In the early moments after birth, babies are in a quiet alert state and ready to learn. Babies use all five senses to explore that world. They use their eyes to memorize their mothers faces, their ears to associate her voice with her face, and their sense of smell to guide them in finding the breast. They also have a heightened sense of taste too and this is particularly sensitive to the taste of breast milk.

Breastfeed for as often and as long as your baby wants (min 8 times in 24 hrs)

Your milk supply is based on supply and demand. You continue producing milk only if it is taken from the breast. The more milk is removed, the more milk your breasts make. When your baby is breastfeeding effectively, you make milk in response. Respond to your baby’s feeding cues, mouth opening, turning head, seeking/rooting and sucking fists.

Breastfeeding at night is important

Your body produces more prolactin (the hormone which promotes milk production) when you breastfeed at night, so night feeds help to keep up milk production ensuring that baby gets all the milk they need to grow and thrive. Breastmilk consumed through the night makes up an important part of their total 24hr intake.  Get organised and keep things close by so you don’t have to go anywhere to get what you need – nappies, snacks etc. Keep the room as dark and as quiet as possible.

Make sure your baby is well positioned and attached

When positioning is comfortable and the baby is well aligned with the breast, a deep and effective latch is more likely. This makes sure that breast milk is transferred effectively to baby. At the beginning of a feed, the baby makes quick shallow sucks to get the milk flowing before settling into deeper slower jaw action suckles.

Don’t skip feeds

Frequent removal of milk is essential for adequate milk supply. If you regularly skip feeds, eventually your body will send signals to decrease the amount of milk it produces overall.

Give your baby lots of cuddles and skin to skin contact

This stimulates the hormone oxytocin, which gets your milk flowing. Whenever you breastfeed, the hormone is released in your brain and your baby’s brain too. A rollercoaster of interaction takes place in your body so you can feed and protect your new baby, and this process relies on oxytocin.

Get more rest

A good night’s sleep or a great nap can do wonders for your milk supply keeping your body in optimum condition.  Don’t burn the candle at both ends as your body gets worn down. Use relaxation techniques, such as listening to music, to reduce anxiety that could affect supply.

Wait before introducing a dummy

Research suggests that it is best to avoid dummies in the first few weeks after birth. The use of dummies should be limited to soothing babies after breastfeeding is well established.

Eat and drink well

As busy as it can be caring for a newborn, to increase a milk supply you must prioritise eating and drinking enough throughout the day, ensuring you optimise your own health and energy reserves. Keep snacks and a bottle of water close by to remind you to keep eating and stay hydrated. Be sure to drink whenever you’re thirsty.

Asking friends and family to provide nutritious and energy boosting foods to you regularly can be a great help and support in the early days and weeks.

Some women add “breastfeeding foods” to their diets specifically to boost their milk production including oatmeal, barley, brewer’s yeast, ginger, basil, banana, and pumpkins . This may vary depending on culture and traditions and personal preference.  It certainly doesn’t hurt to include foods like these in your diet, but you may not see significant changes in your supply.

colostrum harvesting - Northern Ireland, belfast

Everything you need to know about colostrum harvesting

colostrum harvesting

What is colostrum harvesting? Colostrum harvesting is hand expressing colostrum from the breast antenatally, to store for after the birth. It is advised that you do not start harvesting colostrum until you are 36 weeks’ pregnant.

Some of the many benefits include:

  • It will make you feel empowered and have an active role in the care of your newborn.
  • It teaches you how to hand express.
  • It makes you familiar and more confident with how breast feeding works.
  • If in the early days your baby requires supplements, the colostrum can be used instead of formula e.g. preventing the risk of low blood glucose levels in the newborn or slow weight gain.
  • Nipple stimulation/the act of expressing milk  can be a natural way of initiating labour because oxytocin is stimulated.

How to express colostrum

You can hand express milk from 36 weeks gestation* (DAME study, The Lancet).

*unless there are any contradictions e.g. certain medications. Always discuss with your midwife if you are on any medications to see if these are compatible with breastfeeding.
  1. Wash you hands.
  2. Gently massage your breast and nipple to stimulate the hormones needed to release colostrum.
  3. Position your thumb and index fingers in a C-shape, 2-3cms back from the base of your nipple.
  4. Gently press and release, and keep repeating until colostrum starts to flow.

Hand expressing 2-3 times daily is recommended and the amount of milk will vary from a few drops to a teaspoon. These small amounts are ideal for your baby as colostrum is high on calories and packed full of antibodies. You may find when you are harvesting your colostrum your uterus tightens and relaxes. These are called Braxton Hicks contractions.

Storing colostrum

  1. Breast milk can be kept in the same syringe. Syringes should be capped and kept at the back of the fridge at a maximum temperature of 4degrees.
  2. At the end of the day syringe(s) of colostrum should be sealed in a breast milk storage bag and frozen.
  3. Each syringe should be labelled with your name, date and time of expressing.
  4. Colostrum can be stored for 2 weeks in the ice compartment of a fridge or up to 6 months in a freezer at -18degrees .

Don’t forget to bring some frozen colostrum into the hospital when admitted for your baby’s birth. Let your midwife know you have it and they will arrange to have it stored correctly. They have to record the date and time it was removed from the freezer. Defrosted colostrum should be discarded or used within 24 hours. If your breast milk is frozen then the best way to transport it is in a coolbag with cool block.

own your birthing room - Northern Ireland, belfast

How to own your birthing room

own your birthing room

When you think of a birthing room do you see something in your mind’s eye from a TV programme like ‘One Born Every Minute’? A clinical, bright room, similar to an operating theatre. Would you feel relaxed in a place like this to birth your baby or feel secure and supported? If you are not relaxed during your birth, stress hormones can slow or even halt the birthing progress.

In this blog, we give you suggestions on how to create a peaceful, private place with a calm ambience for your birth. We have put together a few tips to quickly create a serene space within your birthing room where you can feel cocooned and comfortable. This is a great way to facilitate your natural birthing hormones to work positively with your body and your baby. Feeling relaxed and at ease will reduce adrenaline and allow oxytocinon to flow, making your birth experience more enjoyable.

Ensure privacy – set the boundaries
Once inside your labour room, close the door.  It is ok to ask anyone who needs to enter to knock first. Some Hypnobirthing families put a notice on the door to remind everyone that they are needing a quiet undisturbed space to focus on their birth.

Ambience
Think of each of your senses and to each one apply a positive change to create the perfect environment for your birth. Within one minute, you and your birthing partner can change the atmosphere in your room to make it a positive birthing space.

Your sight
Bright lights can be startling and stimulate the sympathetic nervous system – the fight or flight response. This can hugely hinder the birthing process.  So, instead dim the lights. Most women prefer a dimly lit environment to birth in. Draw any curtains and pull down the blinds. Use battery operated led candles and strings of non flashing fairy lights dotted around the room. Individual tee lights can be placed in the bathroom and birth pool area too. This creates a relaxing vibe. Place a few photos from home that bring you comfort and make you feel at home. Perhaps a photo of another child or your pet can calm any anxiety and distract the senses. If there is anything bothering or distracting to you in the room make it known and ask if something can be done about it.

Your sense of smell
Make a small sniffing pot of appropriate essential oils to use during contractions or to leave open in your birthing room. An electric diffuser may not be permitted so ask for permission first . Always seek a qualified aromatherapist’s advice in advance to discuss which essential oils are safe for pregnancy and birth. The fragrance from the oils will invoke a calm, relaxing feeling in turn reducing adrenaline. The ‘fear-tension- pain cycle’ is reversed make you feel calm, confident and in control.

Sense of touch
What you choose to wear while birthing is important too! It has to feel comfortable on your skin. Try it on before you pack this item into your birthing bag. It should be soft and light allowing ease of movement and allow easy access for skin-to-skin or a breast feed after your baby is born.

Also, think of what would be comfortable to wear in a birthing pool. Some ladies like to wear a bikini top, others a tee shirt. If it is the latter a short light teeshirt is best as a long one can absorb water and become too heavy. Your own blanket, pillow or pregnancy pillow or other textiles from home may make your room feel much more personalised and much less clinical.

Ensure your birthing partner knows how to do pregnancy massage. Light touch massage releases endorphins- these are neurotransmitters known to relieve pain and stress. At our hypnobirthing session we teach birthing partners a variety of methods of massage to to use during various stages of labour.

Taste
It is important to keep hydrated throughout labour to ensure the body has energy to support the birthing process. Pack drinks that appeal to you and also snacks that serve the same purpose making sure that they are easily accessible to you. Often a cup of your favourite tea is very acceptable in the early stages. Don’t forget honey as a small teaspoonful in water can give you that added boost of energy required. A mouthwash/toothbrush and toothpaste will help you to feel refreshed.

Sense of hearing
The mind and body are so closely connected it is vital to reduce any negativity during your birth. Positive affirmations are one way of keeping positive during birthing. These should be short, simple phrases that replace any negative thoughts. They can be pre recorded on your phone/ iPad playing softly in the background or on headphones. They can also be written on cards and framed or post it type notes and placed around your birth room. These should be familiar phrases that have been practiced in the weeks leading up to the birth.

A well thought out play list of gentle rhythmic music is also really beneficial. It will have a soothing, uplifting affect and can provide distraction therefore reducing stress. Spending some quiet time listening to the music during your pregnancy enhances the relaxation effect. It’s also worth mentioning that sometimes in the birthing room, quiet is what you really want and need. Quiet is good too!

We thoroughly recommend our hypnobirthing sessions for education and information on all aspects of birthing. From correct breathing techniques to advice for your birthing partner who is then equipped with all the best tips and tools to be your advocate through birth. A birthing partner who journeys through the labour as an encourager, carer and advocate means the mum-to-be can relax and focus on bringing her baby earth side  knowing her birth wishes are fully understood and she is prepared and nourished ready for the most exciting journey of her life.

hypnobirthing - Northern Ireland, belfast

What is Hypnobirthing?

what is hypnobirthing

Hypnobirthing is a complete antenatal training programme. Some people are put off by the word ‘hypno’ thinking it involves stage hypnosis or associate it with the ‘hippie’ life. Nothing could be further from the truth.

What is commonly known as the ‘Fear-Tension-Pain cycle’ plays a huge part in a woman’s mind and body when they think about labour and during birthing . This theory describes how a rush of adrenaline ( natural response to a fight or flight situation) if it is experienced during birthing  will suppress oxytocinon and hence delay the birth. Adrenaline will not just suppress the birth hormone but it will also cause pain as the uterus becomes tense as a result of reduced blood supply.  This negative cycle  must be understood by parents to enable clarity on the importance of a calm environment, the release of endorphins and a positive mental approach to facilitate a relaxed birth. In essence hypnobirthing teaches and empowers the birthing mother and her birthing partner to work together to reverse the affects of stress, to let the birthing hormones do their job!

Hypnobirthing works by not only reducing the fear and worries of the birthing process but also giving mothers and their partners  an understanding of how their birthing body works. During our hypnobirthing sessions, we give the best tips, tools and golden nuggets to use at birth in order to positively enhance the experience. The main objective in hypnobirthing is to be in control, to feel calm and confident, no matter what turn the birth takes.

How does it work?

The techniques used are gentle yet effective.

Hypnobirthing sessions begin by learning correct breathing techniques – diaphragmatic breathing;  this allows the body to lower stress levels by reducing adrenaline and increasing the feel good hormones, ‘endorphins’.

Also, relaxation techniques and antenatal education empowers a woman and her partner to birth fully in control, without anxiety, no matter what turn the birth takes.  It encourages a woman and her partner to remain positive throughout the birth and to work with the body and mind to gain control over her labour. It promotes birth as a natural bodily function. Hypnobirthing also uses visualisation, massage and the use of anchors such as positive affirmations. These all help to redirect the birthing mother’s thoughts, to detach her from her focus on any pain.They help by putting her focus on automatic pilot, this is a natural state of mind and occurs regularity in your day eg it is the same as when you are driving the same route home, you arrive and don’t remember passing the signs. The mind was on automatic pilot . It is a state of consciousness requiring focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness of the outside world.

This is hypnobirthing! Breathing correctly, deep relaxation, massage, positive affirmations, an informed, in-tune   birthing partner and a quiet, calm environment.

Everything taught through our hypnobirthing sessions makes sense – it has a good mix of science, experience and wisdom. Using hypnobirthing techniques during birth makes a real difference to a woman’s experience.

prepare for birth - Northern Ireland, belfast

How to best prepare for birth

prepare for birth

Are you a little anxious or nervous about giving birth? Feeling prepared and having the right information can have a positive impact on your confidence during your labour and birth. A positive birth story is an incredible and empowering experience. Here are some of our top tips to prepare your body, and your mind for birth.

Keep moving…

  • During your pregnancy keep active! Movement improves your wellbeing and supports flexibility. Walking helps to tone and keep muscles supple in pregnancy. Listen to your body carefully. Adjust the time and pace to suit your needs. The pelvis opens better during birthing when it has been kept mobile and balanced.
  • Using gravity is beneficial – walking helps your baby’s head to settle in the head down position in your pelvis in the final weeks of your pregnancy.
  • Avoid carrying a toddler on one hip as this will cause an imbalance in your pelvis..it is best to carry the toddler at the front or on your back to balance the weight.
  • During pregnancy your body releases the hormone relaxin which makes your pelvis more flexible, ready for giving birth, but also means that any extra pressure on joints may lead to lower back pain or injury.
  • Wear comfy flat shoes rather than high heels or keep them for special occasions as high heels can change your posture-they change your centre of gravity putting extra strain on your back and joints.
  • Don’t sit too long in one position and avoid reclining on sofas. Getting up and moving around every 30mins or so is a good idea.
  • See an expert/physiotherapist if you have any history of pelvic injury or discomfort.
  • Wear the correctly fitted maternity bra and get expert advice re size. A good fitting bra ensures support and allows ease of movement.

Invest in a Birthing Ball

Benefits of using a birthing ball in pregnancy:

  • It distributes your weight more evenly relieving spinal pressure and may ease backache, while keeping your hips and pelvis flexible during pregnancy.
  • It will help you resist the urge to slump e.g. in a sofa or armchair therefore promoting good posture.
    Sitting upright on a birthing ball is like a mini workout as your abdomen and back muscles have to work hard to keep you upright. Ensure that your feet stay flat on the floor while you are sitting on the ball.
  • In the latter stages of pregnancy leaning forward over your ball may help with optimum fetal positioning i.e. ensuring the baby is lying in an anterior position ready for birth. It is a good idea to ask your Midwife about the position of your baby around your 34 week appointment.
  • Do not bounce on the ball forcefully instead use gentle movements.
  • In labour you may instinctively rotate your pelvis while having contractions and your birthing ball will give you good support for this.
  • Birth partners can easily access your back for light touch massaging or lower back massage during your pregnancy or while birthing.
  • During the birth you may like to lean over the ball on a hands and knees position.
  • This may reduce pelvic pressure and allow lots of room for the baby’s head to descend and birth.

Using the correct size of birthing ball is vital:

If your height is 4’8″-5’3″ a 55cms ball is appropriate 5’4″-5’10” a 65cms ball is right

5’11’-6’4″ a 75 cms ball is the correct size
*remember sometimes for Mums with longer legs a larger ball may be appropriate to ensure your knees remain at a lower level to your hips when sitting on the ball.

*Your birthing ball also must be properly inflated.

Mind your mental health…

‘Self-care during pregnancy is the first gift that a mother can give to her child.’

Taking time to look after your mental health throughout your pregnancy is vital.

Factor in some time daily to ‘Be Still,’ to process your thoughts and emotions during this amazing but often daunting journey to motherhood. Physical changes, alongside fatigue and perhaps sickness can make you feel overwhelmed without the added pressures of modern day living and social media pressure. This is the perfect time to connect to your developing baby -to talk to them. Becoming a Mother also means a change of role, which some may find challenging. It may also be a trigger for Mums-to-be on their life experiences and there is help for those who have anxieties whether it is about the birth or other concerns. You can self-refer to a midwife or see your GP for support. There is a new perinatal mental health community service recently funded here in Northern Ireland, find out what services are available where you live.

  • It is time to plan ahead-think now of building your support system-surrounding yourself with positive friendships and family.
  • Ensure your partner is included and involved throughout your pregnancy, and is aware of their role at the birth.
  • Be kind to yourself and don’t compare yourself to others.

‘Remember there is no way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be good one!’

Joyce and Annie, Midwives at BirthDays want to nurture and support you throughout your journey to parenthood to make it a positive memory that you can treasure forever.

To view our range of course, click here.