Common fears about giving birth

Common fears about giving birth and how to cope

Common fears about giving birth
Birth is an incredible
, significant life changing event that you spend nine months preparing for, and for meeting your baby. Nothing can guarantee a perfect birth regardless of where it takes place. Despite the best planning, textbook preparations, and a strong desire for normal birth, not all births are without challenges. The best laid plans are subject to change when the moment arrives. Plans can change day by day. It can feel a bit overwhelming.

It is about navigating the risks and challenges and having the tools that assist you with making choices. It is about feeling empowered with the decisions that you make.

Learning and researching your options and consistency are so important. Education and preparation are key. Knowing about your options can help you to have a safepeaceful, joyful, and nurturing birth.

Your birth experience matters. Very few people start their pregnancy planning to have an induction of labour. If you choose to move forward with an induction of labour for example, you need relaxation and hypnobirthing skills more than ever.


Braxton Hick contractions are low level irregular contractions that are helping to prepare your body for birth. They are most common in the third trimester. The third trimester runs from 28 weeks until your baby is born.

Common signs are:

  • Infrequent and unpredictable
  • Non-rhythmic in pattern
  • Varies in length
  • Don’t build in intensity
  • Won’t cause cervix to dilate

If the contractions don’t demand your full attention try distracting yourself by going for a walk – whatever it takes to keep your mind off the situation.

When your contractions become more intense or you have concerns, it’s time to give your care provider a call or head to the birth centre and calm the nerves. If you end up being sent home, don’t worry, false alarms are common. Follow your birthing instincts and your own intuition.


A powerful voice. It nags us. It whispers usually. It’s the in-built sense of what women mustdo during labour It is generally hard-wired behaviour built into you. It also helps us to perceive and respond to our babies needs before they are verbalised.

A mother’s intuition is an important voice to pay attention to and the more prepared and educated you are the more you can trust your gut feelings. Think strong. Be strong and listen to your powerful voice. Pay attention to what your body is telling you. Any nagging thoughts, seek help. If something doesn’t feel right, it usually isn’t so it is important to listen to it.

Use your BRAIN, decision making tool to help you decide the best treatment options for you and your baby.

  1. Benefits
  2. Risks
  3. Alternatives
  4. Intuition
  5. Nothing

What are the benefits, risks, alternatives, intuition, doing nothing.

Consider your five senses and make sure you meet them with all with something that brings you comfort and relaxation.Birth partner’s, this is your job! Focus on the things that you can take control of.

Take your time, make the right decisions for you and your baby. You are in charge. Make sure it is your choice.

No matter what birth you are planning –  natural, inductionscaesareans included, we will help you to prepare for birth, giving you the tools to make it an empowering and positive experience.

Believe that you can still have an incredible birth. Never underestimate how you can change your birth environment.

Delve deeper into the importance of your birth environment and its importance and influence on your hormones and the birthing process, and decision making in our classes. There is so much more to think about.

Your intuition is your superpower. Understanding the physiological and emotional aspects of childbirth can help you to make informed decisions.

You’ve got this.

Birth environment

Why is the environment you birth in important?

Birth environment
Many women are unaware that where they give birth has quite an impact on their labour and birth. A safe, calm, secluded, familiar, undisturbed environment facilitates the flow of the essential labour and birth hormones oxytocin and endorphins.

The right childbirth environment differs from one woman to another, but it should be warm, quiet, safe, private and with soft lighting. The renowned French Obstetrician Michael Odent describes mammals needing low light and quiet, for their optimal hormone production.

Most women choose a hospital birth. While Home from Home hospital units strive to create a more home like environment, the reality is that some labour rooms can still look medicalised and may not feel homelyor warm and inviting.

A few simple physical changes and adjustments that you and your partner can make to your hospital room can make a significant difference to how you feel when you are in your birthplace. This has positive effects on your labour and birth and makes your experience more enjoyable.

The positive effects are not just beneficial to you and your partner. Interestingly, a study has also shown that when a birthing space is changed to promote the production of oxytocin, both the woman and her midwife benefit from the improved environment. Increased levels of oxytocin affect our neurophysiology and reduce stress. When we are in an environment where the noise is low, the lights are dimmed and all our safety needs are met, we are relaxed and at ease and generally happier which is positive for the birth process.

Also making changes to the birthing room can make it easier for you to move around, find comfortable upright positions and can help your labour progress more naturally.

Here are some ways in which you can change your birthing room tomake it feel more comfortable and calming.

Create a Birth Nest

Close the doors. The closed door creates an atmosphere of peace, security, and emotional safety.

Pull down the window blinds or draw the curtains to enhance your sense of privacy and to feel cosier. It reduces any outside distractions.

Turn off overhead lights.

If there is a spotlight in the room direct it onto a wall.

Create soft focus, warm, dim lighting. Pack battery operated strings of fairy lights and LED tea lights in your birth bag and string/position them around your room.

Have spare batteries for your lights.

Bring with you a ‘Galaxy’ type night light to turn your room into soft focus colours with clouds and stars. Like a Spa !

Things to have from home.

A cosy blanket, throw or shawl from home that is familiar to you and makes you feel safe and calm.

Your favourite pillow or pregnancy pillow or bean bag.

our favourite pillow or pregnancy pillow or bean bag.

Photographs of family, children, pets, favourite places.

Positive Affirmations, images of birth. Bring some string and pegs to hang them up. Or Blue/White tac to position on walls.

A Bluetooth speaker for your music. Music can help you relax and alsocut out any external corridor/traffic noise. Or pop on your headphones.Have your playlists organised.

A small fan. The pram/ stroller clip on type fan is useful as they can be adjusted to clip onto any surface, and they don’t need to be held.

Ask staff to adjust heating in the room until you are comfortable.

Move the Bed

The bed in the centre of the room can take up a lot of available floor space. You can ask for it to be removed from your room and be placed outside until you want it. This creates more room for you to move around as you please and use all the available space.

When the bed is not taking centre stage in the middle of your room, you will be more likely to remain mobile and upright. Out of sight. Out of mind!

Gravity, Gravity and some more Gravity!

Alternatively, the bed may be positioned against a wall.

Adjust the bed so that you can use it in an upright position. Ask the midwife for a demo and how to change the bed into different positionsto help you get comfortable.

Ask for birth mats, birth balls and peanut balls to be brought into your room.

Ask midwives to move any medical equipment not in use outside of the room or cover it.

Lose distractions.

Ask the midwife to cover the clock or move it out of your line of vision.You do not want to keep track of time when in labour. Instead focus on your breathing.

Your privacy is of utmost significance, so speak to your midwives about minimal staff and disruptions.

Put a polite sign on the door asking staff to always respect privacy. This reminds the team to knock gently and wait to be invited into your room. It can help to reduce unwanted disruptions to your space and avoid disturbing the birthing process.

Your birth space is your sanctuary and should be treated as such by all those in it.

Setting up your birth space gives you access to a place where you can let go and tune in to your baby, your body and your instincts.

And finally.

Discuss with your birthing partner the elements that are important to you.

Research and discuss all your options and preferences for your place of birth with your Midwife/Obstetrician

Discuss with your Midwife/Obstetrician, as to what is available in each birth setting as they do vary.

Remember your labour and birth are yours. Keeping yourself well informed is vital.

Why choose birthdays

Why choose BirthDays?

We have over 30 years each of midwifery expertise. Though we don’t shout about the numbers! We have supported women right from their first hospital appointments, throughout the antenatal period, Labour and birth. We have supported woman birthing in consultant led labour wards, and midwife led settings including supporting women who choose home birth. We support women and babies and families in the post natal period at home too.

We are all rounders and have been there and done it and pretty much have seen most things. And we still do! We still learn every day and take opportunities to improve our knowledge and skills.

When you choose us, you will have the benefit of our knowledge and experience and enthusiasm for what we do.

We have designed our courses to provide you with the best possible information in a welcoming and calming environment. We know from our experience that it’s important to provide a comfortable space where you feel able to ask questions and meet other prospective parents. Your partner is always involved as we help them to to understand their important role and give them the tools they need to support you and look after themselves as well.

We work closely together as a duo and are usually together at our classes. We each bring our own unique set of skills and interests with us.

Our clients agree with us and you can read our reviews for each course here.

Counter pressure during labour

What is counter pressure during labour?

Counter pressure during labour
Counter pressure is
a great comfort-giving technique for birth partners to learn.

The evidence supports the view that counter pressure and massage are effective non pharmacological measures in helping to reduce labour pain. It’s great at helping to relieve any back pain and pressure felt during uterine surges and as the baby moves down in the pelvis. It can be a great coping and support tool for the birthing mum. Lessening the sensation of pain in that moment, promoting the flow of natural pain relieving endorphins, reducing the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin, helping her to stay focused. Touch can convey pain reducing messages. A hand placed on a painful spot communicates caring. If she loved it, do it again.  Sometimes as the baby’s head moves down, the perfect spot for counter pressure changes and may move down, so keep communicating with your partner.

Counter pressure is firm pressure applied to the lower back or the bony sacral part of the pelvis or pressure on the side of each hip using both hands. It can be used in conjunction with heat using hot water bottles, hot moist compresses over the lower back.

Use the fleshy heel part of your of your hand, it provides an even, steady pressure. You canuse both hands one on top of the other to provide even more pressure to one spot. Some women like the pressure to be steady and unmoving.  Some women like to feel some movement, so see what she likes better. Remember to communicate.

Any position that is comfortable for her and where you have access to her back is a good place. Lots of different positions can be used and you need to be willing to follow your partner as she moves from one position to another as her needs change. On hands and knees on the floor or bed or couch, leaning over or sitting on a birth ball, sitting on a toilet, leaning over a kitchen counter, leaning against a hospital corridor wall on the way to the birthing room, in the shower, bath or pool.

Remember to nurture yourself regularly too as supporting birth, bending over applying counter pressure for longer periods at a time can be straining on your back and energies too. Check in with yourself every hour. Do you need food or a snack or a drink? Do you need to have a stretch?

There is no need to wait until labour to try counter pressure. It can provide relief during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester and give a feeling of togetherness as you prepare for birthing.

Home birth

Things you need for a home birth

Home birth
We have pulled together
a suggested list to help you prepare for your home birth. Most items can be found around the home without any extra costs. We suggest putting a box or container together so it is easily accessible.

o Birth kit from your lead midwife. Discuss what is provided with your midwife.
o Waterproof cover for your mattress.
o A waterproof shower curtain or PVC table cover that can be bought by the meter at a hardware shop works well to protect beds, sofa, chairs, flooring and bedding (or wherever you may end up).
o Disposable large waterproof absorbent sheet pads (puppy training pads can work well).
o Natural electrolyte drinks, coconut water or similar.
o Bendy straws and two plastic tumblers one for chilled water and one for energy drink.
o Easy to make comfort meals, batch cooked meals.
o High energy snacks that you like. Don’t forget about your birth partner to e.g. honey, dried fruits like apricots, dates, sultanas, nuts, seeds, yogurts, fruit smoothies, flapjacks, energy bars, crackers and cheese, wholemeal toast, and anything else you fancy.
o Gentle, natural soap in the bathroom(s), along with a clean towel(s).
o 1 roll of strong paper towels/kitchen roll.
o A roll of bin liner bags for disposal of rubbish and for dirty linen.
o Large zip-type freezer bag or a cleaned 1 litre ice-cream container if you are keeping your placenta for encapsulation or other tradition. Midwives will take it away if you prefer.
o Bath towels x 6 at least (not new as less absorbent and may get stained).
o Thin wash cloths x 6 (don’t have to be new).
o 6 receiving blankets for baby. Please wash in baby safe detergent and dry even if they are new.
o 2 lightweight cosy blankets for you that you don’t mind getting soiled or stained.
o An extra set of pillowcases and sheets. These may be old but clean.
o Whatever comfy clothes mum prefers for labouring in, baggy old soft tee shirts etc.
o Stain remover to add to laundry to remove stains.
o Keep a supply of ice in the freezer.
o Fan.
o 2 large metal or plastic bowls.
o A bucket and plastic jug.
o (Optional)slow cooker for warming perineal compresses or a large pan for stove.
o An additional space heater for the room.
o Hot water bottle for warming baby receiving towels and blankets.
o Hot water bottle to help mum with labour.
o Flashlight and batteries.
o Extension cable if outlets are not nearby.
o Ambiance setting tools, music, battery tea lights, string lights, affirmations, dim lights, window blinds, galaxy light if desired, aromatherapy oils and diffuser if using.
o Birth/gym ball.
o Rebozo scarf if using.
o TENS if using.
o Pregnancy Massage balm/oil.
o Socks.
o Find your oldest big pants and put quite a few in your box
o A short sleeved or button front shirts to aid skin to skin.
o Prospective grandparents to assist with other children and pets.
o Camera.
o Phone with signal.

For Baby and Post Birth

o Approved infant car seat.
o Baby clothes (cotton), nappies, vests, soft cap, baby grows, cardigans.
o Blankets, washed and dried.
o Natural Cotton cleansing pads (makeup removal pads) as well as gentle soap, baby and planet friendly biodegradable wipes.
o Digital thermometer.


o Loose tee shirts, Nursing nightgowns, pyjamas, nice staying in bed clothes to encourage lying back and relaxation after the birth.
o Ibuprofen, paracetamol or similar in case mum has afterpains or needs simple analgesia.
o Supply of own medications handy.
o Softest, thickest maternity sanitary pads you can find x 3 packs at least. One packet in every bathroom.
o Optional nipple cream e.g., Lasinoh or an alternative.
o Breast pads, disposable or reusable.
o A freezer full of pre prepared meals.
o Optional extras such as luxury toiletries, notice for front door, present for siblings.

For the comfort of the midwifery team the following might be appreciated

o Ensure they have correct directions to your home.
o Leave lights on at night.
o Ensure there is ample parking for them close to the house.
o Healthy snacks, water, and light meals available (some births take a long time).
o A table or coffee table cleared for supplies and equipment.
o The area alongside the pool or bed cleared out for easy access.

Prepare a hospital bag just in case of a need for transfer

o Copy of Birth Preferences.
o Phone numbers of family and friends.
o Night shirt and robe.
o Nonslip footwear, wet/bathroom room suitable like flip flops.
o Nursing bra and underwear.
o Going home clothes that are easy to nurse/move in.
o Clothes for your new baby.
o Sense of humour and flexibility.

Things to do before you go into labour

o Tape a list of important numbers to your fridge, include midwives’ telephone and back up numbers, nearest hospital, hospital of choice if different, doctors’ number, family members.
o Make sure your car always has at least a half tank of fuel and that you have an approved infant car seat available and ready.
o Make sure you have gathered all your supplies and that you know where they are.
o Ensure that you have sufficient heating oil etc to heat your home and ensure sufficient hot water for pool/showers/baths etc.
o Clean your bathtub and shower area as you may want to use it.

When you begin regular contractions or your waters leak

o Notify midwife using pre agreed arrangements. If you don’t receive a call back, call again!
o Lay a tarpaulin under the pool.
o Inflate your birth pool if using, with the provided air pump and liner.
o When your labour is getting active, start filling it with water using a water hose according to your instructions.
o Ensure your sink or tap has the correct faucet adaptor.
o Prepare the bed: Strip the bed and place clean sheets you want to use post birth on it.Then place shower curtain(s) or plastic sheets over them. Place it on the side of the bed you are going to birth and/ or sleep on. It should hang off the side of the bed so that the sides of the bed are covered as well. Cover this with the sheets you may want to birth on or have for immediate post birth.
o Gather all your items on your checklist and place them in the room that you are likely to birth in.
o Your midwife will have all the other supplies. If you have any questions, please ask her/him.
Tips for breastfeeding from a midwife

Tips for Breastfeeding

Tips for breastfeeding from a midwife

We have compiled our top tips for breastfeeding after having the privilege of supporting hundreds of women to breastfeed.

Did you know a stress free breastfeeding journey begins before your baby is born? Please take a few minutes to read our guide so you have all the tools you need to make the best possible choices for your baby and you. 

Did you know that both your labour and birth can greatly affect your breastfeeding journey?

Be informed about pain relief
To make an informed choice on pain-relief, make sure you research your options. Opiate pain relief such as diamorphine and epidurals can affect your newborn by making it sleepy, thus delaying the very important first feed in the Golden Hours after birth. They may also delay your milk coming in. There are many options for pain relief so discover what is best for you both.

Avoid unnecessary interventions
If possible, it is best to avoid unnecessary interventions during birthing. Discuss with your care provider any procedures such as ‘sweeping your membranes’ or induction and ask the benefits, risks and alternatives to these. It is important to understand that unnecessary interventions may increase the need for pain relief.

Immediately After Birth
As far as possible, protect the golden hours after your baby is born. Often in a hospital setting it can feel rushed so here are our top tips to help you:

  1. Skin-to-skin. Hold your baby on your chest and in your arms immediately after birth. This has physical and emotional benefits for both your baby and you.
  2. Avoid routine procedures, e.g. weighing of your baby. Instead, prioritise skin to skin.
  3. Ensure only you touch or hold your baby – your partner may hold your baby too but it is best to avoid visitors particularly in the early hours after birth.
  4. Look at and observe your baby in your arms and watch your baby breastfeeding. This increases the oxytocin level in your bloodstream.

Your new baby will naturally and instinctively move towards your breast when it is having skin-to-skin with you.The correct poisoning and latch is important and the first feed may take a few hours to complete. The rich colostrum is full of goodness for your baby and will soon make way for your breastmilk to come in.

Membrane sweeps everything you need to know

Membrane Sweeps – Everything you need to know

Membrane sweeps everything you need to know
If you reach your estimated due date, you may be offered a membrane sweep.

Ask questions to make sure that you feel comfortable with it. You should know what the risks and alternatives are.

A common reason for induction of labour is that the baby may be overdue’. There may be other reasons why induction of labour is being recommended.

Membrane sweeps, sometimes known as a stretch and sweep, are offered in many areas routinely. They are always performed with your consent and are completely voluntary. It is performed by the midwife or doctor inserting one or two fingers inside the cervix and making a ‘sweepingcircular motion to separate the membrane sac surrounding your baby from the cervix. It may also be known as stripping the membranes.

It should always be discussed in depth with you. You should feel fully informed and have the opportunity to ask questions. There are pros and cons with everything. It may not be suitable in all pregnancies e.g, if baby is breech. If a membrane sweep is successful, labour may start within 48 hours.

Membrane sweeps are also considered a natural form of induction method and offered before hormonal induction, encouraging spontaneous labours since it doesn’t involve any drugs at all. It can be done in any clinic setting such as an outpatient antenatal clinic. It is usually done by your community midwife or your doctor. The goal of sweeping the membranes is to initiate labour and thus to reduce the need for more formal induction of labour. After the procedure is done, prostaglandins are released which assist in softening of the cervix and getting contractions started.

Membrane sweeps are a quick simple procedure, and it can be done in just a few minutes. You will be asked to lie down, remove your underwear, be covered in a sheet, and ensuredthat you feel comfortable .The midwife or doctor will also first check your baby’s positionand heartbeat

During the internal vaginal examination, the provider inserts their lubricated finger throughthe vagina and then into the cervix and makes gentle sweeping movements around to detach the amniotic membrane from the cervix. This stretches the cervix at the same time, and this is a bit like removing the peel of an orange.’ Your cervix must be a little bit dilated to do this. It may feel uncomfortable or painful, but you can tell your midwife or doctor to stop at any point if it’s too uncomfortable. Using hypnobirthing, relaxation and breathing techniques can help.

During a membrane sweep there is also a chance that your waters may release or break. A sweep may also, not get you into labour, but just make you crampy with irregular contractions and feeling uncomfortable. You might also want to wear a sanitary pad after a membrane sweep as you may have slight spotting or bleeding like a show.’

After the sweep you can go home and go about your normal day.

If you have any concerns following the sweep about bleeding or think your waters have gone or your baby movements change, you should ring your maternity hospital triage without delay.

A sweep that doesn’t work can result in further sweeps and doubting that your body might never go into labour. A sweep may be the trigger for natural labour, but there is no guarantee it will work. It may take several attempts and often have to be done more than once.

Induction of labour and many aspects of induction of labour need further discussion with you and your individual circumstances. Induced labours with artificial hormones are very different from labours that start spontaneously. It also comes with a range of possible side effects. Induced labours may take longer and need closer monitoring. Take the opportunity to discuss your feelings and your preferences.

Its natural to feel impatient in the final weeks of pregnancy. Try to get some rest and relax as you will be meeting your baby soon.

skin-to-skin contact with your baby

Skin-to-skin contact with your baby

The simple act of snuggling your baby on your bare chest has powerful benefits and helps babies adjust and adapt to life outside of the womb.

Skin-to-skin. So Simple. Hugely Powerful.

It is as simple as it sounds and is when baby snuggles on mum or dad’s chest bare chest, covered in a warm blanket. Skin-to skin is good for all babies, whether they are breastfeeding or formula feeding.

Babies need lots of skin-to-skin with mum and dad, both in hospital and at home. Skin-to-skin time is precious time and one of the loveliest moments in birth:

The benefits of skin-to-skin

  • Triggers the powerful oxytocin ‘hormone of love’ that lowers mums stress levels as well as promotes healing and mothering.
  • Calms your baby ensuring that they feel safe and cared for.
  • It can help to reduce cortisol (stress) levels in baby.
  • Helps baby to cry less.
  • Regulates your baby’s body temperature, breathing rate, heart rate and blood sugar following birth.
  • Improves baby’s oxygen saturation levels.
  • Helps your colostrum (the first milk that is full of nutrients that protect baby) to flow more easily.
  • Stimulates baby’s digestion and encourages an interest in instinctive feeding behaviour.
  • When breastfeeding, it will boost baby’s immune system and helps to protect against illness and disease.
  • Helps mum to breastfeed longer by building her milk supply and helping her to make a stronger connection with baby.
  • If expressing milk, volumes improve if mum expresses following a period of skin-to-skin contact.
  • Builds a strong baby brain.
  • Increases baby’s senses of touch, taste, textures, smells and sounds the baby experiences in their environment while they are on mums or dad’s chest.
  • Gives mums a chance to take a rest or take a break.
  • The rush of hormones does not just happen to mums. A similar rush happens when dad has skin to skin contact with baby. For your new-born, the next best thing is skin to skin with dad.
  • Research shows that it relaxes dad too and has an important parenting role.
  • Promoting an important bonding experience between a father and his new-born child.

Skin-to-skin with baby is vital in neonatal units where it is sometimes known as ‘kangaroo care.’

From the Start

What happens during this special time?

The first hour after birth is sometimes called the Golden Hour. It is an incredibly special bonding time that begins when your baby is snuggled skin to skin with you right after they are born. Baby emerges from the warm dark haven of your womb (uterus) into an unfamiliar world. It is cold by comparison and has new lights and sounds. When a mum holds her baby in skin to skin after birth, it initiates a strong response connecting the mum’s body to the baby’s body. It connects the mum’s brain to the baby’s brain and the mums mind to the baby’s mind. Your baby can be soothed by hearing the comforting sound of your heartbeat, which is familiar from time in the womb. If you talk softly, baby will recognise your voice and will also be familiar with dad’s voice.

After birth you can expect the baby will have:

  • The first birth cry. It is so distinctive.
  • A relaxation period as they recover from the birth
  • Increased alertness. Opening their eyes, looking at you for the first time, responding to familiar voices, smells, and becoming more active, moving hands to mouth, and exploring your breast and suckling for the first time.

Make undisturbed and uninterrupted skin-to-skin part of your birth preferences if your baby is stable. Discuss with the Midwives before your birth that you wish to treasure and enjoy this special time.

Allow yourself plenty of time to hold your new-born and gaze at them.

Most healthy term babies will follow this process, providing that they are not interrupted by anything. Most routine things like putting on baby identity bands and checks can be done with baby skin to skin and obtaining a birthweight can be delayed until after this important period. Try not to hurry or interrupt this process as some babies and mums take a little longer particularly after a long or difficult labour or birth when adrenaline levels have been higher. Stress reduction with skin to skin helps to maintain new-born blood sugar levels and general stability. Let it continue for as long as you wish if there are no concerns for the health of you or baby. Skin to skin is an important part of the care provided by your maternity team following birth, so they will know to prioritise this crucial time.

This also and importantly applies to babies born by assisted and caesarean section birth.

Dad may also like to be prepared and wear a loose tee shirt or shirt that can be unbuttoned so that he can easily snuggle baby skin to skin. Your midwife will show you how to hold your new baby.

The benefits of skin-to-skin care extend beyond the moment of birth. Skin to skin can take place at any time a baby needs comforting or calming. There is no specific age when skin to skin should stop if your baby is happy with it. It provides powerful benefits for baby the entire time they are an infant, in the hours, days, weeks and months to come. Ongoing skin to skin contacts during the early days and weeks release oxytocin and prolactin which can give stress reliving benefits for mum too.

If your baby has medical problems and needs urgent treatment, it may not be possible for either of you to hold baby straight away. Any touch is a comfort to your baby. If you cannot cuddle baby skin to skin, you could hold their hand so they can feel your warmth and recognise your smell.

You can catch up with skin to skin as soon as you are both well enough. Whenever you start skin to skin, it will have lots of benefits for your baby, and for your relationship.

How to do skin-to-skin?

If you are doing immediate skin to skin following birth, the midwife will dry your baby, place them on your chest and cover baby’s back with a clean dry towel or light blanket. The midwife will continue to observe both you and your baby. That is all there is to it!

You can lie down with your baby on your chest, if you are sure, you won’t fall asleep. Ask for assistance when you need it.

Otherwise, sit up while holding your baby skin to skin, and keep baby upright with their chest against your chest. Wearing a nappy on baby is ok if you are worried about soiling.

You are allowed to ask for help. In fact, you should.

Following birth, feeling tired afterwards is very normal and it can take time to ease into motherhood. Motherhood is full on and lots of mums can find it hard to ask for help. Do not be afraid to reach out for help and support from midwives, other health professionals, family and friends as you adjust to life with your new baby. Identifying things that people can help with and allowing others to support you is a giant leap to nurturing yourself.

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.