“False” Positive…

Lotus Blossom Visualisation of Dilating Cervix

The language of pregnancy, labour & birth is so powerful, and yet it is often so negative, or even misleading.  

Braxton Hicks are sometimes made out to be something other than preparation for the birth of a baby, a “false” sign of labour, and some sources cite that they have nothing to do with “real” labour and do not in any way prepare the uterus or cervix for labour & birth…

Braxton Hicks are also sometimes called “practice” contractions.  Whatever you call them, they help to tone the uterus & get your birthing muscles tuned in ready for the main event…

Think of BH, or prodromal labour, as trailers for the forthcoming attraction…frustratingly short lived, they tease & tantalise so that you look forward to the moment when you get the full show on the road, these non-progressing contractions are in no way false; they help to prepare your body to birth your baby…

In the latest days of your pregnancy, this prodromal labour is every bit as real as you, the mother, experience it to be: if you are told that is it “false” labour, turn that on its head – this is very real, it may simply mean that your cervix is not yet dilating…

So, if you have had a VE (vaginal examination) and been told that there is nothing doing, and this is *false* labour, ask your midwife (or other caregiver) whether they simply mean that you have not begun to dilate.  Has your cervix moved forward?  Is it softening?  Has it started to efface?  Has your cervix opened at all?  Some caregivers will not really *judge* labour to have started until you are dilating over 2cm…and that is one of last things that happens to the cervix…

Knowing that the cervix moving into position, softening (ripening) and effacing (thinning) are signs of real progress can help you move into a much more positive frame of mind as you approach the birth of your baby…

Moving into position?  Through most of pregnancy, a woman’s cervix points somewhat to her back, it gradually moves forward and during VE can be assessed to be posterior (pointing back), midline or anterior (pointing toward the front of your body)…

Effacing?  Your cervix is usually about 3-4 centimeters long and if you feel it, not dissimilar in touch to the end of your nose!  As it effaces, it thins to paper-thin and shortens – ask your midwife or caregiver to explain how they measure effacement & to describe yours to you if you have a VE…

Dilation?  This is the bit that we get all hung up on…the dilation or opening of your cervix is measured in centimeters with that magic number 10 being the goal…Opening of the cervix can begin before *positive* signs of labour are felt, and you may be 1-3cm dilated before it is *confirmed* that you are in labour…

Not one contraction is wasted, whether it is *just* Braxton Hicks, or *just* prodromal labour…each one is a wave that carries you closer to the birth of your baby…each one will be playing its part to help bring about the changes to your cervix and to prepare your uterus & other birthing muscles…

Think of these early sensations of your uterus contracting as the gentle lapping of the waves on the shore…in their own time, according to a rhythm only Nature can set, these gentle waves will start to roll and roil and then to crash and crescendo…And time & waves work wonders when you simply breathe…your breath keeps you calm, it keeps you buoyant so that with even the most stormy seas & the biggest breakers, you can keep your head above the water, knowing that each wave carries your baby closer to being in your arms earthside…anchor to your breath, luxuriate in the ebb & flow and when the time is right, your body will know its work, until then, float along on the tide and let Nature’s rhythms lull you…

OMx 

 

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Trust your baby, trust your breasts…

breastfeeding first time, newborn latch, newborn breastfeeding

My second son’s first latch, minutes after birth

For all mamas who are or who want to breastfeed:

Trust your body, trust birth, trust your baby, trust your breasts.

I have recently been shocked by how many women report being told that they are not producing *enough milk* in the days immediately following birth.

You are not supposed to produce milk immediately, your body is producing the perfect food for your baby, in perfect quantities – that beautiful liquid gold; COLOSTRUM. Your baby can only manage 5-7ml at a feed on day one, so you don’t need a gushingly abundant supply (nor is this ever the case since your body is perfectly capable of establishing a supply suited to YOUR baby’s need).

Watch your baby, not the clock. Offer your breasts often & without time restrictions. Aim for nursing your newborn 8-10 times within each 24 hours. If told your baby is *only* comfort feeding, smile & say “It’s never just for comfort” – by suckling at your breast, your baby stimulates your breasts, sending vital signals to your body to produce more colostrum, and gradually over a week or two, to increase the supply and your body will keep pace with your baby, the balance of nourishment/nutrients/immune protection all matching your baby’s need in a well-choreographed dance between your body & your baby.

That said, a baby sleepily suckling at your breast should not cause any more discomfort than a baby who is swift at the breast – if it hurts, gently pop them off & start again, and don’t be scared to ask for support, and to keep asking.

Breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world, but it is also an art that needs to be learned by you & your baby.

As a La Leche League Leader, I have offered support & information to pregnant and breastfeeding women for over 3 years (and prior to that as a mother to mother since my eldest son was born 6 years ago and other mothers I knew began to ask questions).  The questions and challenges remain the same but the solutions and the outcomes vary with each nursing couple, since no two mothers or babies are identical.

You can find a wealth of breastfeeding information here as well as links to finding local groups in your area:

La Leche League

NCT

BfN

ABM

Please, never *give up* because you *couldn’t* do it – make that choice to stop if it is what you truly want, but if you even slightly want to keep going, keep seeking support, you will find a way to breastfeed or human-milk-feed your baby.  Ttust your body, trust your baby, trust your breasts…

OMx

A good man…

Be a good man…it can really make so much difference to your woman in labour…

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Be positive – if your woman feels loved & adored, she will be more relaxed, it is better for your baby, and she will have that glowing beauty we admire in happy pregnant mothers….

Be attentive – whilst her bump grows practise saying “yes, my love, whatever you need, because as the mother of our child I will do anything to support you & demonstrate my love”…or you can just go with the asks & demands with a smile on your face & love in your heart ;D…when labour starts, you being ready to respond will help her navigate the labyrinth nature of childbirth…

Be ready & let her know that you are – make sure she knows she can contact you at any time, so if you travel for work, numbers of places you have to visit as well as your mobile, and if she packs a bag, pack your own – snacks, bottled water, change for snack machines & parking, phone charger, camera, change of clothes so that you can stay nearby without having to dash off for supplies.  If you’re planning to be home, know where the birth pool & its bits are, get the bed ready with a waterproof cover on the mattress & know where to find clean towels, sheets, extra blankets, pillows, stock the cupboards, make a sign for the door that reads “new parents falling in love with their baby, do not disturb”, let her know that you are protecting her space & anyone that comes in will be privileged & honoured to do so…

Offer her your love – your positive touch, your confident embrace, your deeply felt kiss, all flood her body with oxytocin, giving her a boost, helping her maintain labour & be ready to bond with your baby – and if you let yourself feel it too, you get that same big O boost & you’ll be ready to bond with your newborn…get ready to take that shirt off & get skin to skin, with your woman & your baby…

Learn some comfort measures, get to know about good movements & positions for labour, find out how to give her an anchor for her breath when the ocean of labour feels wide & scary for her, learn candle breath in case she needs to pause as your baby crowns, learn how to help her open her pelvis & find rest between rushes, practise foot rubs & back rubs now so that if your woman needs them in labour you feel confident & calm giving her what she wants…

Be a good man…your good woman needs you more than you imagine..

OMx