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Articles in Category: Pregnancy

Breech Babies - Wisdom from The WOMB

Tips and Tools for Preventing Breech Position and Helping Breech Babies to Turn

What does it mean when a baby is BREECH?

A breech baby is one that sits feet or bum down in a birthing person’s uterus. This may make birthing more challenging when the legs or bum present first instead of the baby’s head. Some medical caregivers may suggest that a Caesarean birth may be a safer or only option.

WHY are babies sometimes breech?

There are many reasons a baby may be breech. Sometimes when a pelvis is misaligned or uterine ligaments are pulled one way or another unevenly, the uterus can change shape and cause it to be difficult for babies to sit comfortably in a head down position. This is usually a “soft tissue” challenge that is most commonly a symptom of the society we live in. Some causes may be long car rides, crossing our legs, carrying a toddler on our hip or other hip torquing activities.

But sometimes, a uterus has a shape that we were born with like a bi-cornate or heart shaped uterus. In these cases, we cannot change the integral shape of the uterus, but we can work to provide as much space for the baby as possible so that if they can turn head down, they will.

WEBSTER’S Adjustment

If your baby is breech (head up), there is a chiropractic adjustment called The Webster's Technique which can establish balance in a pregnant person’s pelvis, and reduces stress in the uterus and supporting ligaments. This balanced state has been clinically shown to allow babies who were breech to turn into a head down position. This Webster Technique has been shown to be 82% effective. The WOMB’s team of chiropractors are experienced in Webster’s Technique.

ACUPUNCTURE and Moxibustion

Moxibustion is a Traditional Chinese Medicine technique that involves burning an herb over various acupuncture points. The WOMB’s naturopathic doctors most commonly use moxibustion in combination with acupuncture to help encourage breech babies to turn into the head down position before birth.

COUNSELLING, Hypnotherapy and HypnoBirthingTM

Speaking with a registered therapist or using hypnosis can help loosen tight muscles in the uterus, release stress, and calm the body and baby. An integral part of the breech turn session is fear release therapy, where birthing parents learn to let go of their fears concerning their pregnancy, labour, parenting, and even everyday life.

SPINNING BABIES Techniques

Spinning Babies Techniques are activities that a pregnant person can do to increase the likelihood of their baby turning into a head down position. Working with one of The WOMB’s birth doulas who are experienced in Spinning Babies Techniques can help you safely learn these activities and use them regularly in your daily life.

https://www.spinningbabies.com/pregnancy-birth/baby-position/breech/flip-a-breech/

OSTEOPATHY treatment

Osteopathy is a form of body work that treats all systems of the body as a whole. The WOMB’s osteopathic manual practitioners release connective tissue tension to give space, balance and symmetry to the pelvis and uterus. This in turn can provide breech babies the opportunity to optimally position themselves head down.

PELVIC HEALTH Physiotherapy

A pelvic health physiotherapist at The WOMB can assess the tension around the diaphragm, ribs and pelvic floor, all of which impact space potentially for the baby. The physiotherapist will also provide education around a slumped c-curve sitting position and how this habit of sitting is connected with a less optimal position of baby to birth.  Pelvic Health Physiotherapy is the only treatment to release pelvic floor tension directly which can be a contributor to non-optimal balance through the pelvis and thorax. 

Prenatal YOGA

Prenatal yoga is an amazing practice that can help balance the body and calm the nervous system. Such poses as bridge pose can also help babies turn. Let your instructor know if your baby is breech and they can assist you with finding the right poses for your body.

 

ECV

External cephalic version (ECV) or “version” is a manual procedure performed by an obstetrician to turn a breech or side-lying baby into a head down position before labour begins. A medicine may be given before the ECV to relax the uterus and prevent contractions. While the uterus is relaxed the doctor will use one hand on the baby’s head and one hand on the baby’s bottom to push and roll the baby into a head down position.  

 

Daily activities that can help PREVENT breech position

  • Avoid crossing your legs for extended periods as this can change the positioning of your pelvis which in turn can impact the symmetry and pull of the uterine ligaments

When your baby is BREECH...

  • Sit on a yoga ball for good posture as opposed to laying back in bed or on the couch for extended periods which can compress the space a baby has to turn
  • Spend some time in an all fours position – even better, put an exercise ball under your upper body in this position to give your arms a break and allow your body to relax.
  • Balance carrying your other children on both hips – switch often! You could also use a toddler carrier to carry your child on your back and be hands free too!

 

WHAT IF my baby still doesn’t turn head down or stays breech?

Sometimes babies are just going to stay in a head up position and we don’t always know why. But we can prepare ourselves for either a vaginal breech birth with a knowledgeable and experienced medical provider, or for a beautiful and empowering caesarean birth.

A scheduled caesarean birth can be a joyful and loving experience. There are many things you can do to prepare yourself and your birthing team. Here are some examples:

  • Work with a psychotherapist to come to terms with your decision so as to minimize any traumatic effects that may impact you after your baby’s birth
     
  • Discuss with your birth doula how to communicate effectively with your medical team to advocate for your mental wellness, personal decision making and participation in the birth every step of the way. This can help reduce any potential birth trauma.
     
  • Work with a postnatal doula to prepare the set up of your home with baby stations so that it minimizes the physical impact as your body recovers
     
  • Arrange a pelvic health physiotherapy appointment for 4-6 weeks postpartum to help retore the function of your deep core muscles that connect to the pelvic floor.


For more information or to book an appointment, visit our website at www.thewomb.ca

Birthing Families are Wondering – “Why Hire a Doula During the Pandemic?”

COVID-19 for so many of us conjures varying degrees of anxiety and uncertainty and we are well aware there are few areas in our lives it hasn’t touched. Perhaps one area where, for a certain percentage of the population, COVID has really impacted our experiences, is in the pregnancy, labour and birthing time.

New families and families-to-be find preparing for a baby, the changes that occur, and navigating the myriad of options during their labouring time are already fraught with anxiety and uncertainty. Often, families-to-be consider getting additional support as they prepare for their little one. Enter: The Doula…

Why hire a Doula?

 The effect on births attended by a Doula is astounding: less interventions, shorter, more manageable labour, less caesareans, increased satisfaction with the birthing experience, and more successful and extensive breastfeeding. In a recent study conducted by Marshall H. Klaus, M.D. and associates,

“continuous labour support from a Doula in…ten studies reduced the odds of receiving analgesia by 31 percent, decreased the use of oxytocin to stimulate labour by 50 percent, forceps deliveries by 34 percent and cesarean sections by 45 percent.”

Statistics are important, but the true benefit rests still with the family – how any particular family feels about the birth of their child; are they satisfied? Did their child enter into the world in the way in which their parents had hoped? Did the birthing person experience the birth they most desired? There is obviously no way to ensure that everything every family desires is always possible. However, the Doula’s role is to instil confidence and trust in the birthing process and the birthing family so that even if special circumstances arise, they will feel supported and guided; held in care during this, their most intimate, life-changing and special time of their lives.

 For those who are familiar with what a “Doula” does, the image is often associated with a woman (usually), physically alongside the birthing person, wiping a sweaty brow, giving sips of water, offering words of encouragement, etc as the birthing person works through their labour. And these aspects of a Doula’s role are important, but what happens when that Doula is no longer allowed into most hospitals because of COVID?

This question has come up a lot in the last several weeks and months, and I think it is incredibly important that families know the full scope of a Doula's role throughout the time they work together prenatally and, depending on the Doula, the amount of time post birth. We are SO MUCH MORE THAN DOUBLE  HIP SQUEEZES!!! The tricky part is that it is a bit intangible to describe how we do what we do, and of course it comes down to each Doula's personality, experience, comfort level, scope etc., so it is always important to talk to a few Doulas before committing to any one.

I was speaking with my client not long ago and she had stated that although she didn't have a Doula for her first baby, she knew she wanted one for her second and she thought she was hiring me to "help her through her labour". Right? It's what we do. But 4+ weeks later, things are still tricky and she is still needing to talk through things she didn't expect. At the end of our call, she said, "I had NO idea how much I needed support before this baby, processing my first experience, moving past and through it to be able to birth this baby in a different way, and now weeks later, I'm STILL being nurtured and supported, comforted and heard. I had no idea." I’ll let her say it in her own words:

 “I hired a doula because, based on my first birth experience, I wanted more support during labour.  I knew the whole package included pre- and post-natal visits but I figured this was simply for discussing the birth plan and getting help with breastfeeding after the birth.  What I experienced went so far beyond my expectations. 

Ahead of my birth, the birth plan/wishes discussions truly emphasized the "why" and the "how." Following this I benefited from your plentiful, relevant, and customized resources to help guide both my mental and physical preparation for labour and delivery.  There was never any pressure or feeling that any of this was homework - it was simply a library of resources at my disposal.  You picked up on what resonated most with me (and my partner) and helped guide me from there.  My favourite resource was listening to a recording of birth affirmations before bed - it took the pressure off of needing to "clear my mind" like in a meditation and felt more passive and relaxing.  You also gave me written affirmation cards for my birth space, and I was pleasantly surprised with how effective they were during labour - I recall fixating on them during what I now realize was transition (I didn't realize it at the time - I thought I had a ways to go!) and my baby was born minutes later. 

As my due date approached you were proactive with checking in regularly and providing emotional support and understanding during a time that requires a lot of acceptance of the unknown or the unpredictable.  You helped me connect with my unborn baby, tap into my intuition and surrender to the experience.  When I struggled with this you sent me a short guided meditation which helped tremendously - so much so that my water broke about 12 hours after I did the meditation! 

In the days and weeks after my birth you have checked in on me regularly over phone and text, helping with anything from simple breastfeeding or newborn care questions to navigating being a mother to now two young children by providing both practical advice and a (socially distant) shoulder to cry on.  Even postpartum you've helped me tap into my intuition by guiding me not to the "right" answer but to the one that I already know is right for my baby, me and/or my family.

Although I had a homebirth with you present, I would have benefited from all of the above even if I had had a hospital birth without your physical presence. I feel like I got SO SO SO much more out of my doula experience than I could have ever hoped for and wouldn't dream of being pregnant or caring for a newborn again without you by my side!”

For those who still list 'labour support' as the primary reason for considering a Doula, I tell prospective clients that now more than ever having Doula support is crucial. Without our presence (virtual or otherwise), it is so easy to become lost and ‘swept-along’ in the COVID birthing climate. I let families know I spend extra time prenatally going over ways to be heard, to use their voices, to ask questions and know where their heart and instinct calls them. We spend more time on comfort measures and assurances. I remind them that I AM still with them, labouring at home until it is time to move, and can be a constant voice in their headphones, or be on a video call to listen to questions/suggestions being made by staff. I am clear that I am WITH them in every way and I am a lifeline should they feel confident labouring and just need to reach out periodically. I have found the silver lining in COVID; the ability for new families to have more agency in their birthing knowing I am there, but they "don't need me" perhaps in the way they thought they would. 

Considering a Doula for your hospital birth? Please reach out to a few Doulas, find out how they can nurture and support you and your family before, DURING, and after your baby is born, and perhaps you will find so much more than you had expected!

Karen McWilliam is a Birth Doula, Postpartum Doula, Childbirth Educator, certified HypnoBirthing (Mongan Method) Practitioner, a Birthing from Within Mentor, Lactation Educator and mother of two amazing children. Karen is a member of The WOMB's amazing team of practitioners and doulas.

Ending the silence

𝐌𝐲 𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐲 𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐛𝐢𝐫𝐭𝐡

𝟏𝐬𝐭 𝐌𝐚𝐲 𝟐𝟎𝟏𝟎 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐛𝐞 𝐞𝐭𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐧 𝐦𝐲 𝐡𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐚𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐝𝐚𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐦𝐲 𝐡𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐬𝐡𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐧 𝐚 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐥𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐩𝐢𝐞𝐜𝐞𝐬!

𝘐𝘵 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘥𝘢𝘸𝘯 𝘰𝘧 𝘢 𝘯𝘦𝘸 𝘣𝘦𝘨𝘪𝘯𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨

𝙄𝙩 𝙬𝙖𝙨 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙚𝙣𝙙 𝙤𝙛 𝙢𝙖𝙣𝙮 𝙘𝙮𝙘𝙡𝙚𝙨

𝘐𝘵 𝘮𝘢𝘳𝘬𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘭𝘰𝘴𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘮𝘺 𝘣𝘦𝘢𝘶𝘵𝘪𝘧𝘶𝘭 𝘥𝘢𝘶𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘚𝘢𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘢 (𝘮𝘦𝘢𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘱𝘦𝘢𝘤𝘦)

𝙄𝙩 𝙬𝙖𝙨 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙧𝙩 𝙤𝙛 𝙖 𝙙𝙖𝙧𝙠 𝙘𝙝𝙖𝙡𝙡𝙚𝙣𝙜𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙥𝙚𝙧𝙞𝙤𝙙 𝙤𝙛 𝙢𝙮 𝙡𝙞𝙛𝙚

𝘐𝘵 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘳𝘵 𝘰𝘧 𝘮𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘯𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘰 𝘴𝘶𝘧𝘧𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘫𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘮𝘺 𝘰𝘸𝘯 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘪𝘴 𝘴𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘥 𝘣𝘺 𝘩𝘶𝘮𝘢𝘯𝘪𝘵𝘺, 𝘴𝘶𝘧𝘧𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘰𝘧 𝘭𝘰𝘴𝘴 

𝙄𝙩 𝙬𝙖𝙨 𝙢𝙚 𝙧𝙚𝙘𝙤𝙣𝙣𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙝 𝙞𝙣𝙣𝙖𝙩𝙚 𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙥𝙖𝙨𝙨𝙞𝙤𝙣

𝘐𝘵 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘳𝘵 𝘰𝘧 𝘮𝘦 𝘰𝘱𝘦𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘮𝘺 𝘩𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘵 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘥𝘪𝘴𝘴𝘰𝘭𝘷𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘐 𝘩𝘢𝘥 𝘤𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘬𝘦𝘦𝘱 𝘮𝘺𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘧 𝘴𝘢𝘧𝘦

𝙄𝙩 𝙬𝙖𝙨 𝙥𝙖𝙞𝙣𝙛𝙪𝙡 𝙗𝙚𝙮𝙤𝙣𝙙 𝙬𝙤𝙧𝙙𝙨 𝙘𝙖𝙣 𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙧 𝙧𝙚𝙥𝙧𝙚𝙨𝙚𝙣𝙩

𝘪𝘵 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘧𝘶𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘨, 𝘪𝘵 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘭𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘨, 𝘪𝘵 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘭𝘰𝘯𝘦𝘭𝘺

𝙄𝙩 𝙢𝙖𝙧𝙠𝙚𝙙 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙚𝙣𝙙 𝙤𝙛 𝙖𝙣 𝙚𝙧𝙖 𝙤𝙛 𝙢𝙚 𝙞𝙙𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙞𝙛𝙮𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙖𝙨 𝙖 𝘾𝙤𝙧𝙥𝙤𝙧𝙖𝙩𝙚 𝙈𝙖𝙧𝙠𝙚𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙚𝙭𝙚𝙘𝙪𝙩𝙞𝙫𝙚

𝘐𝘵 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘢 𝘋𝘢𝘸𝘯 𝘰𝘧 𝘢 𝘯𝘦𝘸 𝘦𝘳𝘢 𝘰𝘧 𝘮𝘦 𝘙𝘦𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘯𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘰 𝘮𝘺𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘧 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘮𝘺 𝘦𝘯𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘴!

 

Prior to my stillbirth

𝙸 𝚠𝚊𝚜 𝚊  𝚖𝚊𝚖𝚊 𝚋𝚕𝚎𝚜𝚜𝚎𝚍 𝚠𝚒𝚝𝚑 𝟸 𝚋𝚎𝚊𝚞𝚝𝚒𝚏𝚞𝚕 𝚋𝚘𝚢𝚜 

𝙸 𝚠𝚊𝚜 𝚊 𝚖𝚊𝚖𝚊 𝚠𝚑𝚘 𝚑𝚊𝚍 𝚊𝚌𝚌𝚘𝚖𝚙𝚕𝚒𝚜𝚑𝚎𝚍 𝚎𝚟𝚎𝚛𝚢𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚝𝚑𝚊𝚝 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚠𝚘𝚛𝚕𝚍 𝚍𝚎𝚎𝚖𝚎𝚍 𝚊𝚜 𝚜𝚞𝚌𝚌𝚎𝚜𝚜 

𝚈𝚎𝚝 𝙽𝚘 𝚙𝚊𝚛𝚝 𝚘𝚏 𝚖𝚎 𝚏𝚎𝚕𝚝 𝚕𝚒𝚔𝚎 𝙸 𝚠𝚊𝚜 𝚜𝚞𝚌𝚌𝚎𝚜𝚜𝚏𝚞𝚕 

𝙴𝚟𝚎𝚛𝚢 𝚙𝚊𝚛𝚝 𝚘𝚏 me 𝚏𝚎𝚕𝚝 like 𝙸 𝚠𝚊𝚜 𝚏𝚊𝚒𝚕𝚒𝚗𝚐

 𝙸 𝚠𝚊𝚜 𝚏𝚊𝚒𝚕𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚊𝚜 𝚊 𝚖𝚘𝚖 

𝙸 𝚠𝚊𝚜 𝚏𝚊𝚒𝚕𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚊𝚜 𝚊 𝚙𝚊𝚛𝚝𝚗𝚎𝚛 

𝙸 𝚠𝚊𝚜 𝚘𝚟𝚎𝚛𝚠𝚑𝚎𝚕𝚖𝚎𝚍 𝚠𝚒𝚝𝚑 𝚠𝚘𝚛𝚔 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚍𝚒𝚍 𝚗𝚘𝚝 𝚔𝚗𝚘𝚠 𝚑𝚘𝚠 𝚝𝚘 𝚋𝚎 𝚌𝚛𝚎𝚊𝚝𝚎 𝚋𝚘𝚞𝚗𝚍𝚊𝚛𝚒𝚎𝚜

 𝙸 𝚠𝚊𝚜 𝚌𝚛𝚞𝚖𝚋𝚕𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝙸 𝚠𝚊𝚜 𝚎𝚡𝚑𝚊𝚞𝚜𝚝𝚎𝚍 𝙸 𝚠𝚊𝚜 𝚋𝚞𝚛𝚗𝚝 𝚘𝚞𝚝 𝙸

 𝙸 𝚠𝚊𝚜 𝚘𝚗 𝚊 𝚖𝚒𝚜𝚜𝚒𝚘𝚗 𝚝𝚘 𝚏𝚞𝚕𝚏𝚒𝚕𝚕 𝚖𝚢 𝚍𝚛𝚎𝚊𝚖 𝚘𝚏 𝚑𝚊𝚟𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚊𝚗𝚘𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚛 𝚌𝚑𝚒𝚕𝚍 

𝙰𝚜 𝚝𝚑𝚊𝚝 𝚠𝚘𝚞𝚕𝚍 𝚋𝚎 𝚖𝚢 𝚝𝚒𝚌𝚔𝚎𝚝 𝚝𝚘 𝚜𝚝𝚊𝚢𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚊𝚝 𝚑𝚘𝚖𝚎 

𝙰𝚜 𝚝𝚑𝚊𝚝 𝚠𝚘𝚞𝚕𝚍 𝚓𝚞𝚜𝚝𝚒𝚏𝚢 𝚖𝚎 𝚋𝚎𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚑𝚘𝚖𝚎 𝚝𝚘 𝚋𝚛𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚞𝚙 𝚖𝚢 𝚗𝚎𝚠 𝚋aby

 𝚃𝚑𝚊𝚝 𝚠𝚊𝚜 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚝𝚒𝚌𝚔𝚎𝚝 𝚝𝚘 𝚏𝚛𝚎𝚎𝚍𝚘𝚖 that 𝙸 𝚠𝚊𝚜 𝚋𝚊𝚗𝚔𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚘𝚗 𝚠𝚒𝚝𝚑 𝚍𝚎𝚊𝚛 𝚕𝚒𝚏𝚎

 

𝚃𝚑𝚎 𝚙𝚊𝚝𝚑 𝚝𝚘 𝚌𝚘𝚗𝚌𝚎𝚙𝚝𝚒𝚘𝚗 𝚑𝚘𝚠𝚎𝚟𝚎𝚛 𝚠𝚊𝚜 𝚗𝚘𝚝 𝚊𝚗 𝚎𝚊𝚜𝚢 𝚘𝚗𝚎

𝙸 𝚌𝚘𝚞𝚕𝚍 𝚗𝚘𝚝 𝚐𝚎𝚝 𝚙𝚛𝚎𝚐𝚗𝚊𝚗𝚝 

𝙸 𝚘𝚙𝚝𝚎𝚍 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚏𝚎𝚛𝚝𝚒𝚕𝚒𝚝𝚢 𝚛𝚘𝚞𝚝𝚎

𝙸 𝚍𝚒𝚍 𝚗𝚘𝚝 𝚛𝚎𝚊𝚕𝚒𝚣𝚎 𝚒𝚝 𝚠𝚊𝚜 𝚖𝚢 𝚜𝚝𝚛𝚎𝚜𝚜 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚘𝚟𝚎𝚛𝚠𝚑𝚎𝚕𝚖 𝚝𝚑𝚊𝚝 𝚠𝚊𝚜 𝚊𝚏𝚏𝚎𝚌𝚝𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚖𝚢 𝚏𝚎𝚛𝚝𝚒𝚕𝚒𝚝𝚢 

𝙸 𝚠𝚊𝚜 𝚓𝚞𝚜𝚝 𝚜𝚘 𝚌𝚊𝚞𝚐𝚑𝚝 𝚞𝚙 𝚒𝚗 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚑𝚊𝚖𝚜𝚝𝚎𝚛 𝚠𝚑𝚎𝚎𝚕 𝚘𝚏 𝚕𝚒𝚏𝚎 

𝙾𝚏 𝚋𝚞𝚜𝚢𝚗𝚎𝚜𝚜 

𝙾𝚏 𝚍𝚘𝚒𝚗𝚐

𝚃𝚑𝚊𝚝 𝙸 𝚑𝚊𝚍 𝚖𝚒𝚜𝚜𝚎𝚍 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚙𝚊𝚛𝚝 𝚊𝚋𝚘𝚞𝚝

𝚂𝚕𝚘𝚠𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚍𝚘𝚠𝚗

𝙰𝚋𝚘𝚞𝚝 𝚜𝚒𝚖𝚙𝚕𝚢 𝚋𝚎𝚒𝚗𝚐

 

𝘼𝙣𝙙 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙣 𝙞𝙩 𝙝𝙖𝙥𝙥𝙚𝙣𝙚𝙙, 𝙄 𝙬𝙖𝙨 𝙥𝙧𝙚𝙜𝙣𝙖𝙣𝙩 

𝙄 𝙘𝙤𝙪𝙡𝙙 𝙨𝙢𝙚𝙡𝙡 𝙛𝙧𝙚𝙚𝙙𝙤𝙢 

𝙏𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙢𝙤𝙢𝙚𝙣𝙩 𝙤𝙛𝙬𝙝𝙚𝙣 𝙄 𝙝𝙖𝙫𝙚 𝙢𝙮 3𝙧𝙙 𝙗𝙖𝙗𝙮

𝙄 𝙬𝙞𝙡𝙡 𝙢𝙖𝙠𝙚 𝙖𝙢𝙚𝙣𝙙𝙨, 

𝙄 𝙬𝙞𝙡𝙡 𝙚𝙣𝙟𝙤𝙮 𝙢𝙮 𝙡𝙞𝙛𝙚, 

𝙄 𝙬𝙞𝙡𝙡 𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙮 𝙝𝙤𝙢𝙚 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙗𝙚 𝙖 𝙢𝙖𝙢𝙖 𝙖𝙥𝙥𝙚𝙖𝙧𝙚𝙙 𝙘𝙡𝙤𝙨𝙚𝙧 

 

I was working long hours, 

Doing as much as I could, cause, 

In my heart this was all soon coming to an end

 

𝘈𝘯𝘥 𝘪𝘵 𝘥𝘪𝘥, 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘫𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘢𝘺 𝘐 𝘩𝘢𝘥 𝘦𝘹𝘱𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘪𝘵 𝘵𝘰

𝘑𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘢𝘺 𝘐 𝘸𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘢𝘯𝘺𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘦𝘭𝘴𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘦𝘹𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘦 

𝘐 𝘸𝘰𝘬𝘦 𝘶𝘱 𝘰𝘯 𝘖𝘤𝘵 31 𝘣𝘭𝘦𝘦𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘩𝘦𝘢𝘷𝘪𝘭𝘺 

𝘐 𝘩𝘢𝘥 𝘢 𝘯𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘮𝘢𝘳𝘦, 𝘐 𝘴𝘢𝘸 𝘮𝘺𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘧 𝘴𝘶𝘳𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘥 𝘪𝘯 𝘢 𝘱𝘰𝘰𝘭 𝘰𝘧 𝘣𝘭𝘰𝘰𝘥

𝘉𝘶𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘪𝘮𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘯𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘮𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘥𝘪𝘥 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘦𝘯𝘥 

𝘐𝘵 𝘩𝘢𝘥 𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘦𝘥 

𝘛𝘳𝘪𝘱 𝘵𝘰 𝘌𝘙 𝘵𝘰 𝘧𝘪𝘯𝘥 𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘣𝘢𝘣𝘺 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘴𝘢𝘧𝘦

𝘛𝘰 𝘧𝘪𝘯𝘥 𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘶𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘐 𝘩𝘢𝘥 𝘢 𝘴𝘶𝘣 𝘤𝘩𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘪𝘤 𝘩𝘦𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘳𝘩𝘢𝘨𝘦

𝘛𝘰 𝘧𝘪𝘯𝘥 𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘶𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘐 𝘸𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘯𝘦𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦 on 𝘣𝘦𝘥 𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘵 

 

So now I was laying in home on bed rest

Not working, free from the overwhelm 

Yet felt so overwhelmed 

 

I was given permission to lie down and not do anything 

Wow a break from the constant rushing around

Did this make me feel relieved? Happy? Freedom?

No in fact, I was laying in bed wishing to be back in the hamster wheel that I was familiar with 

 

𝙸 𝚠𝚊𝚝𝚌𝚑𝚎𝚍 𝚖𝚢 𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚗 𝟺 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝟻 𝚢𝚎𝚊𝚛 𝚘𝚕𝚍 𝚋𝚘𝚢𝚜 𝚝𝚎𝚛𝚛𝚒𝚏𝚒𝚎𝚍

𝙸 𝚠𝚊𝚝𝚌𝚑𝚎𝚍 𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚖 𝚌𝚘𝚗𝚏𝚞𝚜𝚎𝚍 𝚊𝚜 𝚝𝚘 𝚠𝚑𝚢 𝚖𝚘𝚖𝚖𝚢 𝚠𝚊𝚜 𝚕𝚊𝚢𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚘𝚗 𝚋𝚎𝚍

𝙸 𝚠𝚊𝚝𝚌𝚑𝚎𝚍 𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚖 𝚠𝚘𝚗𝚍𝚎𝚛 𝚠𝚑𝚢 𝚌𝚊𝚗𝚝 𝚜𝚑𝚎 𝚝𝚊𝚔𝚎 𝚞𝚜 𝚝𝚘 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚙𝚊𝚛𝚔 𝚊𝚗𝚢𝚖𝚘𝚛𝚎

𝙸 𝚠𝚊𝚝𝚌𝚑𝚎𝚍 𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚖 𝚌𝚛𝚢 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚊𝚜𝚔 𝚠𝚑𝚢 𝚌𝚊𝚗𝚝 𝚜𝚑𝚎 𝚙𝚞𝚝 𝚞𝚜 𝚝𝚘 𝚋𝚎𝚍 𝚊𝚗𝚢𝚖𝚘𝚛𝚎

𝙸 𝚠𝚊𝚝𝚌𝚑𝚎𝚍 𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚖 𝚕𝚘𝚘𝚔 𝚊𝚝 𝚖𝚎 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚠𝚘𝚗𝚍𝚎𝚛 𝚊𝚛𝚎 𝚠𝚎 𝚎𝚟𝚎𝚛 𝚐𝚘𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚝𝚘 𝚐𝚎𝚝 𝚘𝚞𝚛 𝚖𝚊𝚖𝚊 𝚋𝚊𝚌𝚔?

 

While it appeared that I should be relaxing and enjoying 

As I had just got a “get out of jail” card

The truth is I was so filled with fear and anxiety that every moment felt like an eternity 

Every moment was one that I had to face 

Every moment was one that reminded me that I was not safe 

Every moment that made me question if baby was ok

Every moment I felt guilt, watching my partner run around and do everything 

Every moment I wondered is this the end?

 

The end and the beginning

 

The end came when I least expected

At 38 weeks, I celebrated that we had made it

And on that exact day of celebration

She chose to soar with her beautiful angel wings

She died in my womb, I was rebirthed 

It was the end of our dreams 

But the start of ones we had never dreamed off

 

 

To the mama who is/has been on bed rest I want you to know

That I feel you, I see you

That I know how lonely it feels even though your loved ones are right there around you

That it’s ok to not feel relaxed 

That of course you would not feel safe

That your protective mama bear instinct is super activated

That the fear of losing your baby may rob you from the joy of acknowledging his/her presence in your womb

 

To the mama who has witnessed a loss, miscarriage, still birth, I want you to know

I hear your silent cries

I feel the tightness and pain you are feeling in your heart

I see you crying in the middle of the night

that what you feel is real

that a loss is a loss, no matter at what stage you were in your pregnancy

it is a loss of dreams and hope of how you see your family grow

it is a loss that is worthy of acknowledgement!

 

As for me in the now,

 yes there are times when grief still visits

and I welcome grief and allow the tears to cleanse me in ways I will never know

and yes in my heart I will always carry her

she is my angel

she is my gateway to my journey of living in the now, of slowing down, and for that I am eternally grateful

 

Ummul Patrawala is a yoga instructor and facilitator of The WOMB Healing Circle at The WOMB: The World of my Baby in Milton, ON. She is a mom to 3 wonderful and active boys and a former marketing executive. Ummul has grown up with yoga and has been actively sharing and teaching yoga to her own kids and within her community since 2010. She is currently preparing a program called Birthing into Motherhood - a prenatal yoga and mindfulness childbirth and parenting preparation class. 

@ummulpatrawala on IG, https://www.facebook.com/groups/consciousmotherscommunity

Prenatal Yoga:

The Many Reasons It Works to Prepare Women for Pregnancy and Birth

With experts recommending at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day for pregnant women, prenatal yoga is an excellent way for expecting mothers to unwind and stay physically fit all at the same time. If you're not familiar with prenatal yoga, here is a quick run-through of how it can help improve your quality of life and even promote your baby's health while in the womb.

The Benefits of Prenatal Yoga

Most childbirth preparation classes take a multifaceted approach to helping mothers stay active and healthy as they prepare to give birth, and prenatal yoga is no different. A prenatal yoga class works to encourage:

  • mental clarity
  • physical stretching, and
  • focused, controlled breathing,

All of which can lead to a number of benefits—including better, deeper sleep. In turn, that can lead to more physical energy during the day.

Research supports the safety of prenatal yoga along with its many benefits for both expectant mothers and their children. Aside from improving your quality of sleep, prenatal yoga has the capacity to reduce your stress and anxiety, both of which are linked to poor sleep, poor nutrition, and low morale. Meanwhile, prenatal yoga can increase your strength while helping you improve flexibility and even improve your muscle endurance, all of which is very beneficial for you're impending childbirth.

Prenatal yoga can even help you conquer some of the symptoms of pregnancy, such as lower back pain. It can also help in relieving headaches, nausea, and help you avoid shortness of breath by giving you powerful breathing techniques and exercises that you can utilize both in and out of the classroom. Finally, prenatal yoga gives you the opportunity to bond with other expectant mothers through shared experiences as you progress through your pregnancy journey.

What Does Prenatal Yoga Entail?

If you have never attended a prenatal yoga class before, let all of your worries fade away! There is nothing strenuous about any prenatal session and every class centers on gentle stretching, deep breathing, and a number of postures that mix sitting, standing, and prone positions to develop your balance, flexibility, and strength. Props, including cushions and blankets, are also often used to provide added support and keep you comfortable.

Every prenatal yoga class also includes a proper cool down and relaxation session where you'll get to relax and restore your body to its resting heart rate and breathing patterns. This is often when attendees are able to focus on their sense of inner calm and work on clearing their mind, which is another big part of prenatal yoga's focus.

Would you like to see for yourself what prenatal yoga can do for you? Angela Del Franco - Certified Optimize Coach and Yoga professional, currently teaches Prenatal Yoga at The WOMB (World Of My Baby) in Burlington every Thursday at 7pm. Visit thewomb.ca to learn more.

Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy – What do Kegels Have to do with it?

Hello! I’m Jenny Telfer-Crum and I am a Women’s Pelvic Health Physiotherapist (aka Pelvic Physio). This means I have regular Physiotherapy training (ie looking at pain and movement patterns through the neck, shoulders, back, hips, knees etc), but have also taken extra courses to be able to assess and treat the Pelvic Floor muscles. My goal is to educate and empower women so that they can be comfortable and confident regarding their pelvic (and general!) health. There is a lot of misinformation about bladder leaking, pelvic pain and discomfort out there, so in this blog I’m going to talk about the Pelvic Floor muscles, signs that something may not be working well for you, and how Pelvic Health Physiotherapy works.

What are the Pelvic Floor muscles?

The pelvic floor muscles are at the bottom of the pelvis, between the pubic bone at the front, the tailbone at the back, and the sit bones side to side. They go around the urethra (where we pee), the vagina in women and the rectum (where we poop). These muscles also interact with muscles and tissues in the abdomen, back, and hips (ie glutes and hip flexors). Just like any muscle in the body, we want the Pelvic Floor muscles to be strong, flexible and coordinated in order to function at their best.

pelvic floorpelvic floor2

https://myhealth.alberta.ca/Health/Pages/conditions.aspx?hwid=zm6406

https://www.risephysicaltherapy.com/blog/an-essential-part-of-the-core-the-pelvic-floor

Common Myths about the Pelvic Floor:

- bladder leaking/dribbling is normal after having a baby or as I get older

                -FALSE! This is something that is “common, but not normal”. Pelvic Health Physiotherapy can help to address this, without surgery.

- pain with sex is normal

                - FALSE! Pain with sex can be due to tight pelvic floor muscles/related tissues and hypersensitivity of the nerves in the pelvis. These can be addressed through Pelvic Health Physiotherapy.

- my pelvic problems are not related to my back pain

                - FALSE! All of the muscles in the body work together. If you have wrist pain, Physiotherapists look at your hand, wrist, elbow, even up into the neck! If you have back, hip, abdominal or even leg pain the pelvic floor muscles and structures can be contributing and/or reacting to the pain and muscle patterns you are using. It’s important not to overlook this piece of the puzzle.

When should I see a Pelvic Floor Physio?

The Pelvic Floor muscles work with the nervous system, abdominal pressure system and connective tissue system to support our pelvic organs (ie bladder, uterus and bowels). That means that training these muscles to contract and relax appropriately can help with problems such as:

-  bladder urgency and/or leaking (urinary incontinence)

                - stress incontinence: leaking with laughing, coughing, sneezing, laughing, jumping, running

                - urge incontinence: getting the sudden urge to pee then leaking before you get to the bathroom.

- bowel urgency or leaking (bowel incontinence)

-  pelvic organ prolapse (heaviness or falling out sensation at the vagina or rectum)

Because of the location of these muscles, they can also influence sexual function such as:

- women: pain with sexual activity (dyspareunia, vaginismus), sexual arousal

- men:  prostate-related pain (non-bacterial prostatitis or recovering after a prostate surgery), erectile dysfunction

As I mentioned above, the pelvic floor muscles also work with the neighbouring muscle of the back, hips and abdomen. If you have pain in the pelvis or these neighbouring regions it is always worth getting the Pelvic Floor muscles assessed to see if they are contributing to or responding to the pain response in the body.

back pain pregnancy

Another time to see a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist if you are a woman is during pregnancy and/or after birth. There are a lot of physical changes that happen during pregnancy and Pelvic Health Physios have extra training to help your body move and cope it’s best during this time of change and preparation. We also have a lot of information regarding birth and recovery strategies that you can integrate into your birth plans/preferences with your midwives or OBGYNs. During vaginal birth the pelvic floor muscles and tissues are stretched and often have some degree of tearing or injury that occurs. During caesarian birth, the abdominal tissues very close to the pelvis are involved, which often contributes to changes to the pelvic floor.  Not to mention that birthing and caring for a baby is a big physical, emotional, cognitive and social demand! Pelvic Floor Physiotherapists can help to assess and address any pelvic, abdominal, back or hip concerns related to pregnancy and birth recovery. This includes rectus diastasis (the abdominal stretch that happens to nearly everyone during pregnancy to make room for Baby).  Pelvic Physios have lots of exercise ideas and recommendations to help you return to your fitness activities of choice (including lifting a three month old in their carseat!) while respecting any changes or healing that is occurring throughout the body.

What happens in a Pelvic Health Physiotherapy appointment?

Just like during a regular Physiotherapy appointment, I start by getting to know who you are and any concerns that you have. This might mean talking about any pain, pressure or leaking sensations you are having, but I also ask questions about lifestyle factors such as work, exercise, and stress levels, as these factors directly relate to pelvic AND whole body health. A Pelvic Physiotherapy session is a unique and safe space where you can ask about anything – bladder, bowel, mental and sexual health questions are always welcome, and I will share any information, strategies, exercises and resources that I have to help you along.

physio appointment

For the physical part of the Pelvic Health assessment, I tend to look at how you are moving in standing (ie back movement, walking and standing patterns, squats and lunges), then we look at the abdomen and pelvis. At the abdomen I am looking to see how you like to breathe and move your arms and legs off the bed – this gives me an idea what patterns your body is already using to get work done.

From there I can assess the Pelvic Floor muscles at the entrance of the vagina. Unlike other internal exams women are used to at the Doctor’s office, I am not using a speculum or any devices, just feeling for muscle patterns at these pelvic floor muscles. I am looking at strength (can you kegel?), flexibility (can you relax the kegel?) and coordination of these muscles (do they work well with other muscles?). I can also look to see if there is any movement in the pelvic organs, which is assessing for any pelvic organ prolapse. This internal assessment is extremely valuable to get the full picture of what is happening at the pelvis, and is always done within your comfort level and it is always your choice to start or stop this assessment at any time.

Once I figure out what your body likes to do on it’s own, my goal is to help you reconnect with the pelvic, abdominal, back and hip muscles through breath and movement. I work with you to help your muscles figure out a different way to work together in order to relieve any symptoms or concerns that you have. Treatment often consists of home exercises, a little manual therapy (often through the back and abdomen to help with general relaxation) and some lifestyle recommendations to help with bladder, bowel and stress management. We might also talk about Pain Science concepts to help calm the nervous system to decrease levels of pain or discomfort in the pelvis or neighbouring areas.

mom babe snuggle

Pelvic Health Physiotherapy is an extremely valuable modality to explore for whole body health and wellness. The best part of my job is teaching women about their bodies so that they feel more connected and in control of their own bodies and well being. I hope this blog provided some insight about your Pelvic Floor muscles. If you have any questions or want to learn more you can email me directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Take care,

Jenny

Pelvic Health Physiotherapist MSc (PT)

Helping Your Body Help Itself through Education, Exercise and Empowerment. 

Call (905) 842-2434 or book online at http://thewomb.ca/index.php/make-an-appointment 

Navigating Pregnancy Options for New Canadians

By Abigail Corbin RM, Hawthorne Midwives

It can be overwhelming when you are new to Canada and pregnant. Every country arranges their healthcare differently. Even if a title - such as “midwife” - is the same, what they do and how they are trained can be very different. 

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In Ontario, when you are pregnant, you can decide whether you want to have a midwife or a doctor. Both options are paid for, though slightly differently. Doctors are paid through Ontario Health Insurance (OHIP) and midwives are paid through the Ontario Midwifery Program. This difference means that residents of Ontario do not have to pay for midwifery services, even if they don’t have OHIP. In fact, clients of midwives without OHIP have access to a grant that pays for their laboratory and ultrasound tests and any consultations with physicians. 

In Ontario midwives are experts in low risk pregnancy and birth. They follow you throughout your pregnancy, labour and birth, and for 6 weeks after your baby is born. Midwives can order any routine tests and can consult with a physician if complications arise. Midwifery appointments are longer than doctors, which is particularly beneficial if English is not your first language. Some even provide interpretation services. 

Midwives attend births at home and in the hospital. If you do not have OHIP you will need to contact your local hospital to arrange for payment for the birth (there is no cost for a homebirth). It is best to contact the financial office as soon as you know which hospital you want to deliver at.

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An obstetrician requires a referral from your family doctor (or walk in clinic if you do not yet have a family doctor). Midwives take self referrals - this means you can access midwifery care by filling in an intake on their website or calling their office. If you know you will be moving to Ontario you can request care before you arrive.  

AbigailCorbinAbigail Corbin is a registered midwife with Hawthorne Midwives in Milton.  Hawthorne Midwives specializes in providing care for new Canadians. For more information, go to their website www.hawthornemidwives.com

Gratitude for the Gift of Life

A Blessingway Start

Kuepfer Tammy Maternity 2015 Apr 12 18 Edit WEB 2

Life is full of gifts. Receiving life in the form of a child, is one of the most beautiful of them. I have four of these gifts in my life and with each one, I’ve learned something along the way. And for each of these lessons, whether challenging or easy, I am grateful. 

My first son taught me about the unknown. Standing at the threshold of a new life I pondered: How do I give birth “the right way”? Is my relationship with my partner ready to be “ruffled” by a new soul in the house? When will my child arrive? Will I be a good mother? In the end, his gift to me was that of fulfillment – I was finally a parent. 

My second child, I will admit to you, was brought into the family so our first wouldn’t be an only child. I couldn’t help but worry that if something happened to us, our first would be left alone. We couldn’t do that to him. So, my second taught me “family”. He taught me that “special time” was time together – not time individually. We were a unit bigger than just me, my partner and a child. We were a pride, a gaggle, a herd. BUT I also learned that looking after two children is challenging (to say the least!) and can’t be done alone. You will sacrifice your whole being if you don’t have any supports or resources in place. You will need your circle of support to remind you that even in those moments when you believe with all your heart that “I wasn’t meant to be a mother”, they will be there to tell you, “Ya, I felt that way too!” 

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With the arrival of our third son, I relaxed finally into parenthood. My first two could play together and I could sit back with my newborn on my chest and just watch and spectate the beauty of their interactions and glory in different personalities and passions. I saw myself no longer as someone “trying” to be a mother, trying to meet someone else’s standards, to do it in a blogger, Baby Center kind of way. Instead I stopped caring what anyone else thought and listened to my own intuition and what was right for me. 

Having a fourth child just solidified that belief that intuition is the success to my parenthood. I know my children best (despite what google or someone in the grocery store says), I know their ins and outs and I know that I don’t need to force anything for them to grow, love and develop. I have said on many occasions that I wish everyone could have their 3rd or 4th baby first, to have the confidence in their heart to listen to their own wisdom and to relax into the process. So I’m writing this blog so that you can have a sample or starting point at which to begin to understand who you are as you become or grow into being a mother - a place to begin to listen to your own inner voice called intuition.

History has shown that in these beautiful times of planning, gestating and anticipating new life, people turn to things that have deeper, greater and more enduring meaning. As mothers and mothers-to-be, we stand at a threshold of unknown - searching books, sites and asking other mothers about “what to expect” physically, mentally and spiritually. Will I know how to do this? To birth, to be a good parent… Who will I be? What will the “new me” be like? 

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What you need to know first is that allowing the spirit of “who you will become” after your child’s arrival, is a gift – probably one of the most important for yourself. Opening your heart to the unknown and allowing the process of life to unfold in front of you can be both challenging and rewarding. With a baby coming, there is so much to worry about, so much to prepare, so much to buy and have ready, so much to know! Have you ever sat back and considered what YOU need to be a mother? Write it down. Move toward it. Have you sat in a quiet room, by yourself and listened to your inner voice and just followed it? Try it. Practice it. It will be courageous of you to see what happens when you follow your own advice. 

While you await the gift of your child, another way to receive for yourself and open to your new self is by celebrating the woman-you-are-to-become through a Blessingway or Mother Blessing. Traditionally, a Blessingway (in the tradition of the Navajo) or Mother Blessing (a north American term) is a birth ritual or ceremony that celebrates a woman’s passage into motherhood. The ceremony acknowledges the changes a woman is going through in the months leading up to her baby’s arrival, and the greater impact of birth and early parenthood on her, as a person. In a close circle of women, the mother-to-be is nurtured in storytelling, adornment, gifts, blessings and food. Bead bracelets can be made, which the mother-to-be will carry with her into birth as a reminder of the strength and support her circle of women sends with her. The group can hold a red string ceremony to connect each with the other as women, and when the announcement arrives that baby is earth-side, the red string around the participant’s wrist or ankle is cut and released free. From all of this, the mother-to-be comes away with a strong sense of belonging, support and confidence that she will need as she nears the birth of her baby and after her baby is born. 

WOMBMoms

Chances are you have attended or have heard of a “baby shower”. This type of celebration is a wonderful chance to rain baby presents upon the family so they are prepared with the materials they may need for their child. A Mother Blessing can be another option or in addition to a Baby Shower. Celebrate and recognize the mother-to-be as she transforms and transitions. You don’t have to follow any set agenda or order. Mother Blessings can vary in proceedings and rituals, so choose what you would like to do in yours. You can make it as “North American” or “Granola” as you like. Receiving your gift of love, belonging and support will give you the confidence to listen to your inner voice and be the mother you were meant to be – one who can also teach your children to live the life of gratitude for their gifts and inner voice too.

AngieStenback3If you have any questions about blessingways or Mother Blessings, or would like to host one, The WOMB has space in Milton or Burlington for rent. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., cofounder of The WOMB and Doula can also help you facilitate the right ceremony for you.

Three things every birth needs

A Birth Doula answers the Partner's questions

Stanleybirth31Photo credit: Kieran Darcy

Over the past 5 years, I have had the honour of walking alongside so many wonderful families all over the GTA as they welcomed their awesome babies. It is my dream job (although it doesn’t feel like a job!) and I am so thankful for the many moms, dads, partners, grandparents and extended families that have trusted me over the years. As people find out more and more about birth doulas, the most common questions I get are ‘what does a doula do”, “what’s the difference between a doula and a midwife”, and “what about the dad/partner? What role will they have if you are also there to support the birthing mom?” All of these are great questions! But I have to say my favourite question was asked early on in my doula career by a hands on partner who wanted to know “What are the 3 things you use at every birth?”

He asked this question because he had taken lots of classes and read lots of books and felt that he was pretty well versed on how to support his wife. But, due to all of his knowledge, he also felt that he wasn’t trained specifically in the ebbs and flows of birth and wanted to know what role on their team I would uniquely fill. I LOVE this question as it is one that most people I meet with want to know but don’t think to ask.

So, here is my list of the 3 Things That I Use At Every Birth. 

#1: My Voice

During birth, your senses as the labouring mother are all heightened. And as labour progresses and gains in intensity each mother needs to find her own rhythm and ritual to aid her in breathing and letting tension go through each contraction. This is where I come in. I use a variety of gentle, guided relaxation breathing prompts as the birth sensation begins, builds and then recedes. I use the knowledge that I’ve gained in my prenatal visits with moms to use words and phrases that would best suit and motivate her. Although I do not teach Hypnobirthing or Hypnobabies, etc, I am trained in stepping in and supporting a mom who has taken these classes and wishes to use these techniques. I believe that, although there are some similarities to how each birthing mom needs support, that each birth is unique and specific to each mom. So, I pride myself in my adaptability to support every mom where she is; not to guide her to where I think she should be.

Where the partner fits in

As I am guiding mom in the breathing and relaxation techniques, this is where your parter shines! Your partner knows you better than anyone in the room. Your partner loves you more than anyone in the room does. And it is this connection with you that has amazing benefits! Oxytocin is the natural love hormone that is necessary for birth sensations to begin and to build. Who better to help foster an oxytocin friendly environment than your partner? Often partners aren’t sure what to say and how to specifically guide you through each sensation.  That’s the benefit of having me there! :) I can support mom in the ways I am trained to, and your partner can, with a touch, a presence and words tell you how amazing you are, how strong you are, and how they can’t wait until your baby is here.

#2: My Hands

Stanleybirth1Photo Credit: Kieran Darcy

How to provide hands on support for a labouring mom was a key part of my doula training. There are many different positions that not only support mom and give her some relief, but are also great positions for baby as they make their way to her arms.

Applying counter pressure via a double hip squeeze during each sensation is something that most moms absolutely love at some point during their labour. As baby makes their way out of the uterus and into the birth canal, mom can often feel more pressure in her lower back. This is where applying sacral pressure to her sacrum (located in the middle of her back, at the very bottom) can greatly assist in comfort for mom. I also have a rebozo (a long flat piece of fabric) that I can use to bring comfort to moms and also can be used to aid in babies positioning during labour. Having experienced labour and childbirth personally four different times has also heightened my senses and intuition of what may give relief and support to a mom during each sensation. Often something as seemingly innocuous as a gentle massage on mom's back in between sensations can help her greatly in getting into her rhythm and ritual mindset. I’ve often gone from performing the double hip squeeze to a rhythmic massage on her back and if I stop to take a drink, mom will turn her head and say “Please keep going! That helps so much!” :)

Where the Partner Fits In

Similar to how the parter can provide support with their words, your partner's touch can bring a huge amount of relief and reassurance. I love to show partners how I do certain counter pressure techniques and love when they gain confidence as they do them. I’m a visual learner and have found that a lot of partners are too. They often watch for the first little while and then when I suggest they step in and try, they are quick to learn how to do it. Aside from the technical moves, having your partner right beside you, holding your hand, stroking your hair or face, or giving one of their awesome back or foot rubs can bring amazing support and relief as you labour.

#3: My Patience (Holding Space)

Just like it took 10 months for your babe to grow and develop, birth can take time. Your body may have a few starts and stops over several days (or weeks!) as it preps for active labour. This pre-labour and early labour stage can be emotionally and physically draining on both mom and partner. I make it a high priority prenatally to really go over the importance of patience during this stage. I make it a point to simply BE with moms and partners during this stage. This may be to just listen, or it may be to encourage them to shift perspective - to make these next few hours and/or days before babe, a special bonding time with just them - to see how special this time is..the time between ‘almost and not yet’, and to hold space with them there. Then once labour actually begins and babe is ready to get things moving and I am on my way to them, I am very conscious of the need for me to model patience for them, and to be in tune enough to recognize the moments when my voice or my hands aren’t needed...that the greatest tool in some moments of birth is simply holding space.

And finally as baby is birthed and mom and her partner finally get to see and hold and kiss and love their new sweet baby, I quietly take pictures and videos of those amazing first moments. And as much as possible, foster an environment in the room that respects those first incredible and life changing moments.

Where the Partner Fits In

stanleybirth2 1Photo Credit: Kieran Darcy

The most common thing I hear partners say at births or prenatally is “I just want to help her.” And it really wasn’t until I became a doula that I fully appreciated how difficult and emotionally draining the role of the support person could be. And that is amplified 1000% for your partner as they love you and it can be so difficult to see the one you love in pain. And because of this enormous love and concern they have for you, sometimes it is difficult for them to remember what your birth wishes are - especially when all they want to do is take your pain away. But once your partner is able to see the tremendous value in simply holding space for you and simply BE by your side, it’s really amazing to watch what happens. It empowers the birthing mom in an amazing way! She can "read" her partner better than anyone else, so when her partner's face is lined with worry or doubt, she can see that. But, when she sees her partner calmly and confidently just BE-ing, the calm and confidence transfers to her and empowers her to trust her body.

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So those are the 3 things every birth needs! I have many other tools that I bring and use at different births and during different stages of labour, but these three things - My Voice, My Hands and My Patience are the 3 that I use every single time.

AngieStanley

Angie Stanley is a Birth Doula. She is passionate about supporting women and families and has worked with various non-profit organizations over the past 15 years.  She truly believes that the pregnancy and birthing stages are some of the most life changing and special times of a woman's life.  She considers it an honour to be present to walk alongside women and their families at such a special stage of life. Setting up a FREE consultation with a Birth Doula is easy! Visit us here!

Exercise During Pregnancy

When & What? Advice from a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist

A common question I get as a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist is: “What kind of exercises are safe to do during pregnancy?”. The short answer is that most forms of exercise are safe and advocated. Maintaining fitness, preventing health issues such as gestational diabetes and preparing the body for an optimal birth and recovery are a few of the reasons why regular exercise is important. Of the different types of exercises, “core exercise” is often a hot topic for pregnant women. Although your deep core muscles do assist in breathing and pushing efforts during birth, your uterus does most of the work so you don’t need abs of steel to to have a smooth birth (another blog to come on this topic). Engaging in different types of exercise will keep you well in pregnancy and beyond.

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Safety: When shouldn’t I exercise during pregnancy?
In rare circumstances there may be reasons to more drastically modify standard exercise recommendations or avoid exercise all together. If there is an underlying condition involving the uterus, placenta or your overall state of health, your primary care provider will typically indicate when this is the case. Refer to this link for more information.

What kind of exercise should I be doing?
General exercise guidelines still apply during pregnancy – cardio for lung and heart health 30 minutes, 5 times a week; muscle strengthening 3 times a week; and stretching daily. There is also a lot of new research outlining the importance of daily mindfulness to counteract the chemical stress response that most of us have in our busy lives. Try a 15 minute guided body scan (lots on YouTube), meditation, prayer or gratitude journaling.

Some women find during the first trimester symptoms of morning sickness limit them from doing strenuous activity. Be patient with yourself and give your body some time. Starting with a gentle walk for 15 mins 2x/day just to get the blood pumping and muscles moving is still beneficial. The same principles apply if you are new to exercise – start slow and gentle and progress as you are able.

What about Kegels?
A “kegel” is a sustained and repeated pelvic floor activation named after the OBGYN who started advocating for them in the 1940s (Dr. Arnold Kegel). Yes, we want our pelvic floor muscles to be strong but we also need them to be flexible; they need to be able to relax, and to be coordinated with our muscles. As a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist, I can help you set up an inner core program incorporating pelvic floor muscle training that will support you through your pregnancy, during exercise, throughout labour and into your recovery post partum. 

What about Yoga?
Prenatal yoga can help with flexibility and relaxation during pregnancy and also has the added benefit of meeting other Moms-to-be for you to connect with during pregnancy and into motherhood. Yoga is a great compliment to your strength and cardio program. Note that hot yoga is not recommended during pregnancy as the increases in core temperature can impact fetal development.

prenatal yoga

High Impact Exercise: What about Running? Crossfit? HIIT? Power Lifting?
In the media there tends to be an all-or-nothing approach to pregnancy – either all you do is yoga or you continue to power lift until the day you birth your baby. If you were performing high intensity or high impact exercises before pregnancy it is typically safe to continue these, but the intensity will taper down during pregnancy. Here are some things to remember:

You must acknowledge that your body will change during pregnancy and it is wise to honour these changes. There are a number of physical adjustments that affect your posture, breathing and your muscles' ability to generate power as the length of muscles change and the relationship of structures adjusts. Good form when executing high-impact exercise is always very important and simply put is more difficult to do when pregnant. Unfortunately, most trainers do not have the adequate knowledge to guide women through these high impact exercises in a safe and appropriate manner. Sit ups, curl ups, toes to bar, V sits, boat pose, Russia twists and double leg lowers are examples of traditional core exercises that increase abdominal pressure and overrecruit our external core which can contribute to rectus diastasis or “Mummy Tummy”. To prevent pelvic floor issues and abdominal wall issues, you are best to touch base with a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist who can appropriately guide you through the exercise program you desire.

pregnant running

Don’t forget that pregnancy is a time for maintaining your strength and endurance then tapering the intensity as your needs change. The goal is not to develop fitness at this time through max lifts or personal bests, so an adjustment in your approach to exercise and fitness is important. During pregnancy you should be able to talk throughout your workout, recover quickly and modify your movements easily.

I hear I am supposed to listen to my body – what am I listening for!?

  • Pain – of any kind, especially in the back or pelvis.
  • A feeling pressure or heaviness in the pelvis
  • Loss of control of urine – leaking with lifting, running, coughing, sneezing, laughing
  • A “tenting” or “coning” through the front of the abdomen with any movement
  • A tendency to to hold your breath to perform a movement
  • Development of hemorrhoids or varicose veins

These events signal there is a muscle and pressure imbalance through the body that needs to be addressed. Again, as a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist I can help you connect with these imbalances and educate you as to how to manage them going forward.

Take Home Message: Exercise is Medicine in Pregnancy and Beyond!
Exercise during pregnancy is safe for most women and should be fun, engaging and rewarding – physically and emotionally! You can start at a low intensity and build your way up, or continue with the work you were already doing and make modifications along the way. At the WOMB we have workshops, fitness classes and our Pelvic Health Physiotherapy team ready to support you through your pregnancy and into motherhood. 

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Jenny Telfer Crum is a Registered Pelvic Health Physiotherapist at The WOMB. She has a special interest in helping women exercise safely during pregnancy, prepare for labour and return to their exercise intensity of choice after birth while honouring their body along the way.

 

What you need to know about Postnatal Doulas

There is a big difference between a Postnatal Doula, and a Night Nurse or a Mother's Helper

The incredible treasure that people don’t know about…and it’s at the WOMB!

Imagine, after a long and tiring process of trying to conceive, finding out you have finally been blessed with what you were praying for…and then some…you are pregnant with twins. As you move through that first trimester you start to process the awesome reality of what is happening to you. As you start to notice some of the difficulties managing your new circumstances with the babies contained within your womb, you wonder how you are going to manage once these two precious humans enter the world? An exciting and daunting prospect!

This was me. Although I was more excited than anything else, I did wonder how I would be able to enjoy those early days of motherhood. How might I manage to cherish the blessings that had been bestowed on me when I felt like I did not know a thing about being a mother, and I was in for double duty?

It was my sister who was the one who educated me on the existence of Postnatal Doulas, upon learning about my pregnancy she unequivocally said, “You need to get one”. At that point I was aware of the existence of a Birth Doula, however, I have never heard of a Postnatal Doula. In my sister’s enthusiastic words, she declared a few descriptors of a Postnatal Doula: “baby expert”; “helps get you on a rhythm as you transition”; “eliminates chaos”; “assist with family sleep”. I did not need to hear more…”sign me up”!

007 DuforFamily HRM 1My Postnatal Doula support did not disappoint!! In fact, my expectations were far exceeded. I can honestly say without a doubt is was the best money I have ever spent in my life. My husband and I used to joke that we had been so lucky to find an incredible treasure that no one knew about…our Postnatal Doula, a real-life Mary Poppins, who just made life better!

So, what did the support look like for us? Well, we started with having support 3 nights a week (for approximately 7 hours at a time) and this pared down to twice a week and then once a week until we were all managing really nicely on our own. At this point I changed my support to 1 day a week, (for approximately 4 hours) to assist me as we adjusted to other transitions as our children developed.

Now, I do want to clarify that there is a pretty big difference between a Postnatal Doula and a night nurse or a mommy’s helper. It is the role of the Postnatal Doula in particular that is golden, so let me elaborate.

A Postnatal Doula is an expert in postnatal family support and baby care. She understands the transitions parents and siblings make when adding a new baby or babies to the family. Here are some common supports our WOMB Postpartum Doulas provide:

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• Teach you how to soothe baby
• Provide assistance with food and hydration so you can care for baby
• Support your breastfeeding/feeding efforts and help you problem solve
• Help you and baby to sleep better at night
• Allow you time to nap by taking care of the daily household chores
• Help you keep the house organized so that you feel less stress
• Teach you about your amazing newborn and stand by you as you learn, reminding you that you are doing a great job!
• Help you look after your other children so that they feel engaged and can adjust to their new sibling AND so you have time to bond with your baby

I know what you’re thinking. “This really exists? There are people who can do this?” Yes, it does. Wonderful right? Here at the WOMB we have these amazing treasures and their goal is to support you through empowerment, so you have the tools and skills to be on your own and be the best mother possible.

I continue to be surprised, six years after my own experience with Postnatal Doulas, that people still do not know about this incredible resource. As one of the Pelvic Health Physiotherapists on the WOMB team I have an opportunity to see the value of all our Doulas have in our clients lives. There are many instances when my feeling is that a client of mine would benefit more from Postnatal Doula support than from the pelvic floor intervention that have sought me for. More people need to know about Postnatal Doula support. We are talking about an incredible treasure that should not be hidden…spread the word!

Sinéad Dufour PT PhD


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