This beautiful little book is a NEW quarterly publication by the wonderful Emma at Isabella and Us. It’s written with mums in mind, with articles and features from other mums in business.
The first issue is all about self-care which as mums we know is super important! Being a parent is tough and we need to make sure we take of ourselves, make sure we have a break and spend quality time with our family and friends. This way we can be the best version of ourselves for our little people.
Emma has collaborated with a range of lovely women and mums in business to bring you this fantastic Zine. This issue includes a range of topics from Mindfullness, Top Tips for Self-Care, Mama Boss Feature, a Self-Care Planner, beautiful illustrations and much more.
✨All of our beautiful birth packs will include this fab Zine so all mums on a Connect Hypnobirthing course will get a copy ✨
Creating your support networks is key. I always thought I have a great group of friends, friends from university, school, my first job, my second job….brilliant friends I am still in touch with regularly. Today as I stood for a photo with the group of new mums like me that I met at our antenatal class I was so touched by just how amazing these women are. We might not see each other every week, but when we do it feels like we’ve always known each other. There’s a kinship, a bond unlike any friendship I’ve had. The transition from bump to babies is the biggest life event any of us has gone through before.
For each of us birth was different, some had natural vaginal births, some had inductions, other emergency caesarean sections. Each story different, emotionally challenging, and a triumph. Our babies, now 6-7 months old are bubbling happy babies, weaning, some with teeth! All with their individual personalities! We walked today, out, in the woods, by the reservoir, chatting about work, life, partners, babies, poo, teething, feeding habits, sleep, about everything and nothing. It was perfect, a perfect day of fresh air, mutual respect for each others successes and mum failures that week (mine involving Tabs tipping a salt dispenser upside down over her mouth as I changed her int he cafe!). All in all I feel so grateful to them for their reassurance and kindness-parenting is incredibly tough and nothing really prepared me for that! Relationships can be strained, sleep is gone forever and just leaving the house becomes a challenge!
In the early days, we would message a lot, often at 1am, 3am, 5am as our babies fed overnight, like night owls WIDE awake, eyes bright. I would stare at my screen willing it to keep me awake, desperate not to fall asleep with my baby in my arms, in bed or the rocking chair. Sometimes I would have to slap my cheeks to keep myself awake as she fed. Over time, we have just figured life out our babies nuances and have adapted to their needs. Some sleep through, others still waking 2 hourly- there’s no rime nor reason for it, but we cope and support each other. We share strategies for sleep, weaning and feeding constantly and its such a help!
As well as this group of friends and their gorgeous babies, I have found great support from other groups. Online breastfeeding groups in particular being like a rock, hearing other mums challenges and how they’ve overcome them, and posting my own, getting feedback and tips. My partner too has been a great rock, transformed into a dad overnight- I think we definitely have a daddy’s girl in our midst-her smile for him is unlike any other expression she makes!
My top tips for having a successful postnatal:
Go to a pregnancy antenatal class, Hypnobirthing or NCT or Bumps, Babies and Beyond- anything that gets you talking, and going away with a great group of friends.
Plan your postnatal– write down your wishes for those first 6 weeks: – at least think about a week in bed, a week on the sofa and a week in pJ’s.
Walking has been my godsend, with a sling I feel free, myself, and really getting into the countryside breathes life into your soul- plus your babies love it too.
Eat Cake! Really, do it- it feeds you, nourishes you! You can swap out for fruit one day when your babies have given you your first grey hair!
Whattsap groups are brilliant as a group for keeping in touch, and sharing support amongst you, there’s always someone awake at night who can send that much needed pep talk.
I’ve listed below my favourite groups/blog posts and websites, all well worth a read.
If you would like more, check out this padlet I’ve made- some of the links are password protected and you get full access once signed up to one of my hypnobirthing courses. Get in touch if you’d like to know more! Xx
I am so excited to announce Connect Hypnobirthing will soon be teaching both hypnobirthing and relaxation classes at Chakra Studio in Penwortham.
This studio is a stunning venue, with ALL the props, seating, pouffes, fresh fruit and endless tea you could want! If you are thinking about Hypnobirthing we have SUCH a good value course on offer! For just £150 you get 5 weeks of intense but full hypnobirthing teaching in small group classes. Then if you would like to add extra relaxation time to your pregnancy journey, you can join us for relaxation classes before class, to get you in the zone!
There is also a wonderful pre-natal pilates class on before ours run by the fab Louise, so you could stretch, relax and learn all in one night!
Relaxation classes – Fridays – 1830-1930 £9 drop-in. These classes run EVERY week, no need to book, just turn up!
Hypnobirthing Classes 5 week course – Fridays – 1930-2030. Just £150. BOOKING now open.
This blog post is written by me, Alice, Lancashire Hypnobirthing Teacher to share with you my insights into The Birth Pause, seen during my work as a Midwife in Lancashire.
The Birth Pause is a term coined by Mary Esther Malloy, a Doula from America. Mary recognised that by unhurrying the moment of birth, birth is transformed for both mothers and babies.
you’ve carried your baby for 9 long months
you’ve had long hours or intense rapid minutes of birth
your baby is suddenly sprung onto your chest
then you finally take a breath
BUT what if that birth was slower
you’ve grown your baby for 9 months
you’ve been supported your hours or minutes of birth
your baby is born between your legs
you look down
see your baby
register that your own creation is HERE
you wrap your fingers round your babies chest
and scoop your baby up to your chest
where your baby lies gently in skin to skin
Modern society has an urge to constantly be moving forwards, and we forget sometimes to slow down! In pregnancy too you might find yourself wishing your due date would arrive (especially in this heat!) willing yourself into labour and for your baby to arrive.
Clemmie Hooper describes too, the importance of slowing down when baby is born and your home, and suggests at least “a week in bed and a week on the sofa”. How else can we protect and support those precious first weeks with our baby.
Here we take a look at the physiology of birth, all about cord clamping and how introducing a birth pause to your birth ‘plan’ can transform how you remember those first moments with your baby.
What is the physiology of birth?
When babies are born they physiologically take time to transition to their new world. As they are born, the fresh air around them, and the squeezing of their bodies through the birth canal (or through the abdominal wall opening if born by caesarean) triggers the first breath. Much of the fluid (amniotic fluid that the baby has been taking in and out while in utero) is squeezed out during this process. Then with the first breath and cry more fluid is expelled from the airways and is normally all expelled by 3-5 breaths, and the lungs fill with oxygen filled air. The lung tissue itself loses the fluid into the surrounding tissue due to a pressure gradient (2), this takes about 4 hours typically. The transition from babies getting their oxygen from the cord, to getting their oxygen from the air and their lungs takes a few minutes, as the whole cardiovascular (heart) system reorganises itself. This includes the rapid closing of a small hole between the left and right sides of the heart (1).
What does this have to do with cord clamping?
When the babies cord is clamped immediately at birth, the flow of blood from mother to baby is stopped, and this blood flow carries babies oxygenated blood, as such, the clamping and cutting of the cord, reduces venous return (blood flow back to the heart) by 30-50% (3). Blood flow going from the heart round to the rest of the babies body is then also reduced. Then blood flow to the babies brain rapidly increases then decreases at that point, so as to preserve oxygen flow to the brain. Until the breathing establishes and the respiratory system has played catch up, the blood flow from the heart remains low till normal cardiac output is restored(3). By delaying cord clamping until ventilation is normal (so the babies breathing is established), the changes in blood flow to the lungs, and output of blood through the lung can adjust at birth more smoothly, without affecting cardiac output (blood flow from the heart) as the blood continues to flow from the mother through the cord to baby. Babies blood pressure also remains more stable during transition to breathing as a result. Delayed cord clamping also improves babies iron stores (4).
When to clamp?
When to clamp the umbilical cord has been debated for centuries, but the first ever mention dates back to Aristotle around 350BC. There are many terms for clamping of the cord timing: delayed cord clamping, wait for white, optimum cord clamping or deferred cord clamping. All these terms refer to waiting at least a minute before cutting the cord, as opposed to immediate cord clamping which remains the predominant practice worldwide. Optimal timing for delay in cord clamping in healthy term and preterm infants is not clear. For these infants it could be argued that its best to wait until the infant is physiologically fully adapted, with fully established breathing, and pink and warm. So at least 5 if not 10 minutes, but instead of timings midwives and doctors could observe the infant for those features.
If a baby needs resuscitation?
For babies born that require resuscitation (just 5-10% of all babies born in UK), most require the simplest method of resuscitation; stimulation and inflation breaths (these fill the lungs with air 5 times to aid the expulsion of water), which then stimulates respiration (breathing) by the baby. The Resuscitation Council have identified that at present there is insufficient evidence to give a time to when best to cut the cord for these infants, however it is widely acknowledged that for these babies, immediately starting resuscitation is the key need. Often in trusts across the UK, the resuscitation beds for babies are away from where the mother gives birth, as they need a firm, flat, warm, well lit surface, where the initial 5 breaths can be given with a bag/valve mask with air.
Some trusts are leading the way with bedside resuscitation stations, where babies can be safely resuscitated whilst still attached to the cord. This has the added benefit that babies are still receiving oxygen from the pulsating cord, which is then only clamped once the infant has started breathing (or the lungs are aerated). Hopefully more trusts will move forwards in this way as it certainly seems to offer the best physiological adaptation to life for babies. This is the link to Liverpool Women’s page. https://www.liverpoolwomens.nhs.uk/news/first-hospital-in-uk-to-introduce-bedside-neonatal-care/
So what is the birth pause?
So if we return to thinking about well babies, who, when born show signs of starting breathing spontaneously themselves, and are blue (not white), and have good tone at birth, these are babies we are reassured by. For these babies, whether born naturally, by Kiwi (suction cup/ventouse) or with forceps it would be AMAZING if at birth, rather than see babies immediately taken to mums chest and vigorously rubbed till they cry, if we would take a breath, pause and slowly introduce mum to her new baby. Mum (or dad) when ready and adjusted, studies her baby, touch her then reaching down, curls her hands around her body and brings her own baby to her chest, calmly and gently. For these babies, the smoother transition (often seen at water births) allows a calmer entry to the world and provided the room is warm and they are grimacing, they don’t need the vigorous rubbing, but a gentle pat to dry.
Pausing at the moment of birth allows a woman to exhale from the work of birth before she begins to inhale the presence of her child and her new identity as a mother
Mary Esther Malloy.
Even better is if mums are in a position to have babies either between their legs on the birth mat. I’ve seen babies born into their pool of water on the pad, which keeps them warm until mum is ready to transition to meet her baby. It’s such a wonderful moment, and one that keeps the birth room calm, quiet and gentle.
These beautiful images taken by photographer Whitney Hardie show what I am trying to describe better than words can!
Once baby has been warmly scooped up by her parents and hugged and all the events of birth have been completed, with baby on skin to skin, in time they find their way to feed. Either by the breast crawl if a mum wishes to breastfeed, or by signalling hunger with lip smacking and tongue sticking out. Then comes the moment for the first feed, best still with skin to skin, in a calm dimly lit room. The breast crawl is like magic, some babies need a little help but they work their way to the breast, with an instinct driven ferocity! and so the pause continues…the pause to feed, to take stock, lovingly look at your baby and to rest after the incredible hard work of birth.
Rudolph AM. Fetal and neonatal pulmonary circulation. Annu Rev Physiol 1979;41:383–95.
Hooper SB, Kitchen MJ, Wallace MJ, et al. Imaging lung aeration and lung liquid clearance at birth. FASEB J 2007;21:3329–37
Bhatt S, Alison BJ, Wallace EM, et al. Delaying cord clamping until ventilation onset improves cardiovascular function at birth in preterm lambs. J Physiol 2013;591(Pt 8):2113–26.
McDonald SJ, Middleton P, Dowswell T, Morris PS. Effect of timing of umbilical cord clamping of term infants on maternal and neonatal outcomes. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2013; 7: CD004074
Midwives know about the OXYTOCIN FACTOR but do you?
Birth environment….it’s all about LOVE
Understanding oxytocin is vital to you creating and obtaining a safe birth place, as it holds the key to relaxation and progress in labour. This magic hormone optimises the possibility for a calm, content birth experience as it contributes to effective contractions, reduced ‘pain’ felt in labour and improves your babies wellbeing, by reducing stress and promoting uterine (the muscle surrounding your baby) blood supply (1). That said whatever analgesia options you choose, whether epidural or gas and air or nothing these same tips apply.
Oxytocin is made in the hypothalamus, and is released in pulses from the posterior pituitary into the bloodstream (2). It is not known what triggers the start of ‘labour’, but once labour has commenced, oxytocin is released and binds with receptors in the myometrium to start and continue the rhythmical uterine contractions (3). The pulses of oxytocin have been described as increasing in frequency, amplitude (so amount) and duration (so lasting effect of release), though the amount of oxytocin peaks in the second stage of labour as the body pushes out the baby (4). The final powerful contractions in the second stage of labour occurs as the babies descending head stimulates stretch receptors in the lower vagina, triggering further oxytocin release, causing more contractions, promoting more fetal descent and so on, known as the Ferguson reflex (5). The urge to push becomes stronger and stronger, increasingly overwhelming and involuntary and has been described as the fetal ejection reflex (5) .
As baby is born, a mother experiences continued high levels of oxytocin that peak at 30 minutes after birth, and this supports the contraction of the uterus, delivery of the placenta and preventing postpartum haemorrhage (bleeding after birth). This continued and vital oxytocin also supports breastfeeding, as it stimulates the let down reflex of milk, and is further released in pulses as the baby suckles. So its vital after birth that the mum and baby as much as possible are left undisturbed, with continued low lighting, calm atmosphere, skin to skin, eye contact, and warmth. Oxytocin also stimulates natural mammalian instinctive behaviours of the mother of protection and love for her baby.
So…how do you support your body’s production of oxytocin?
The trick is to shut off your BRAIN! This happens not just in labour but before, in pregnancy.
Read and surround yourself with only positive birth stories (that’s not to say the challenging births aren’t out there-they are a fact of life BUT you don’t need to hear them while growing your tiny human!)
Take time out everyday to BREATHE…find a relaxation track, mp3, hypnobirthing track, your favourite music, get comfy and LISTEN. For those few minutes be uninterrupted, hands on your tummy and RELAX.
TALK to your birthing partner about your options, and what you imagine your labour and birth to be like, that way in the thick of it they can be your advocate as well as your midwife.
Get to know your midwife and talk to her about your wishes, visit the birth centre or delivery suite and familiarise yourself with your environment to be so it feels more comfortable when you go in in labour *(unless your at home!).
Get moving in pregnancy so your legs are able to move you in labour, it’s a tough physical challenge so prepare your body! This will also prepare you for many hours of baby rocking once the baby is earthside!
You may also want your midwife close, as a Cochrane review has shown that women who received continuous support in labour (this can be by your birthing partner, doula but better still by your midwife) were more likely to give birth ‘spontaneously’, i.e give birth without caesarean section, ventouse or forceps (6,7). Not only that but women were less likely to use pain medications and had slightly shorter labours (6). This labour support being emotional, comfort, giving information and promoting advocacy, enhances your feelings of control and competence (7).
When in labour your body will produce oxytocin, naturally triggering contractions and there is so much you can do to support its production! We’ve not mentioned hypnobirthing yet, but it also has everything to do with oxytocin stimulation, as by using calming breathing techniques, keeping yourself in the zone, allowing the whole mind and body to be intent on achieving birth, and with a strong sense of purpose.
Oxytocin = LOVE! So get loving!!!
Have you thought about Hypnobirthing but have yet to find a class for you? Want to find out more?
Connect Hypnobirthing classes run in Leyland, Lancashire so are perfectly placed if your in Preston, Blackburn or Chorley. All bookings can be made here.
Lederman RP, Lederman E, Bruce W, McCann DS. Anxiety and epinephrine in multiparous women in labor: Relationship to duration of labor and fetal heart rate pattern. Am J Obstet Gynecol [Internet]. 1985;153(8):870–7. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0002937885906921
Leng G, Meddle SL, Douglas AJ. Oxytocin and the maternal brain. Curr Opin Pharmacol [Internet]. 2008;8(6):731–4. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1471489208000908
Challis JRG, Matthews SG, Gibb W, Lye SJ. Endocrine and Paracrine Regulation of Birth at Term and Preterm*. Endocr Rev [Internet]. 2000 Oct 1;21(5):514–50. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/edrv.21.5.0407
Fuchs A-R, Fuchs F. Physiology of Parturition. In: SG G, editor. Obstetrics, Normal and Problem Pregnancies. New York: Churchill Livingstone; 1991. p. 147–74.
Michel O. The Fetus Ejection Reflex. Birth [Internet]. 2018 Jun 27;14(2):104–5. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1523-536X.1987.tb01463.x
Hodnett ED, Gates S, Hofmeyr GJ, Sakala C, Weston J. Continuous support for women during childbirth. Cochrane Database Syst Rev [Internet]. 2011;(2). Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD003766.pub3
Ross-Davie MC, Cheyne H, Niven C. Measuring the quality and quantity of professional intrapartum support: testing a computerised systematic observation tool in the clinical setting. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth [Internet]. 2013 Aug 14;13:163. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3751507/