Surrender…

Surrender...Pregnancy Yoga in Southsea

….where the wind blows…

The flower does not know where the seed will take root…The wind carries the seed surrendered to it…

As mothers there is so much that we cannot control…we can make the right choices, take the good birth classes, the informative parentcraft classes, carry our babies, breastfeed our babies, use a pram, mix feed or formula feed, we can take the *easy* route, we can co-sleep or cry it out…what we cannot predict, what we cannot control, is the outcome…

Pregnancy is your first lesson in surrender…you can be an olympic athlete & be floored by hyeremesis, or a binge-drinking chain smoker and not suffer a day of sickness or fatigue…You can walk and swim and yoga for all the right reasons in all the *right* ways, but your baby may resolutely stay spine to spine…You can slouch and slob and eat junk and find yourself in labour for short hours and pushing 1-2-3 “It’s a boy!”…

We cannot decide our lot in pregnancy.  We cannot dictate the nature of our labour or the birth of our baby…

Good birth preparation is about knowing how to manage labour, comfort measures, positive intervention, support, love and communication…and it is about knowing when to surrender…to the waves, to gravity, and also when the need arises to the medical intervention that may save the life of your baby…

Learn what you can, take the classes that mean that you feel calm & positive approaching the birth of your child…but be prepared to surrender to Nature, to accept that the birth you want may not be the birth Fate has designated for you…

Pam England holds fast that Fate decides the birth you will experience…that if her first had not been hard, and ended in caesarean, she would have remained in her own words *arrogant* and would have kept on lying to women & their birth companions about the reality of birth…

And if I had enjoyed the home water birth I planned with my first, perhaps I would remain arrogant…I consider myself lucky, the bumpy ambulance ride in case my son was *stuck* did the trick, and due to lack of labour ward staff, my midwives remained with me and a natural delivery followed, but it was on my back, in hospital, not what I wanted, not what I planned…and it stung that I hadn’t *achieved* my home birth…

But it taught me lessons…that we have to surrender sometimes to the experience & knowledge of those caring for us…that finding the right support gets you in a frame of mind that means you can accept that things may not be as you wished but will follow their own course…That babies have their own journey in mind…That motherhood is not about control…That birth is transformative & empowering no matter how it unfolds…it matters how we perceive it and talk about it, but the transformation, the power, the courage, the beauty ~ they are in every birth…

So, I say to the women in my pregnancy yoga – I do not guarantee you a pain free natural birth…I do not suggest that you opt for home birth…I suggest that you choose a birth place where you will feel safest, most secure, most supported…I suggest that you do what you can to communicate to those who will be with you your ideal of birth if you get to choose as it unfolds…I suggest that you surround yourself with love & positive stories so that you know  that birth can be natural…But too, you should know the medical interventions and what they involve, but that means risk as well as benefit…Learn to ask questions that will keep you empowered and involved as the most important person in the room as you exert that great pure effort to bring your child earthside…And then I suggest that you begin the work of surrendering…

Surrender to gravity…spend time on all fours, keep your posture upright to encourage your baby head down, in labour be upright, forward leaning, legs open…UFO…

Surrender to your breath…connect with your breath…if all else spirals away from you, if you have to surrender your *dream* birth to be safe, for your child to be safe, then breathe through it all…Stay connected, stay present, know every inhalation & exhalation, let it bring you to each moment, awake, aware, and let the outward breath be a release, a letting go, as you soften into the birth of your baby, however it may unfold…

Beautiful Mama…breathe as the wind blows…surrender…

OMx

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“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 

 

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

Surrender…

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“Here, this Mother Goddess holds her creation tenderly, sending all her love the way of the developing little soul inside her protective womb. This lovely piece by artist Sigrid Herr conveys a magical time not too long before the actual birth/creation takes place” – http://www.goddessgift.net

Surrender…to the Earth, feel her support you & embrace you as you feel grounded & centred…to Gravity, as you move, stretch, breathe and let the forces of Nature guide you through the sensations of your labour, allowing gravity to ease your baby’s passage Earthside.  Surrender to your body…let your instinct and goddess-nature take over, about letting go of “doing” or “trying” and just letting this great pure effort pour from you.  Surrender is not submission…

Understand your choices: know what your choices are, be clear with your birth partner what you choose ahead of time…

Rights…know them, and if needs be, assert them…birthrightsmore reading 

Relax…smile, laugh, remember sphincter law and let that oxytocin flow…

Enjoy…ask those you love & trust to be with you on this journey…listen to your favourite music, have something to hand with your favourite scent, one that evokes delightful memories and happy times…

Necessary interventions save lives: you will know if intervention is needed, trust your instincts, ask questions if you need to & be sure you feel fully informed…if there is a true emergency & there is not time to talk, you will know it was necessary…support after the birth may be vital to your confidence as a new mother, never be afraid to seek it…if you feel traumatised there is help available…

Delight…in the everyday miracle of your pregnant body and the wonders of childbirth…feel those sensations, know that each one brings your baby closer to your arms, this is the beginning of an awfully big adventure…

Expect to be treated like a goddess: you should feel like the most important person in the room…

Recognise…the strong, wise, powerful woman & mother that you are.

Surrender does not require weakness, it requires an open heart and a quiet mind.  Prepare yourself to be amazed by what your body and your baby can do…time & waves work wonders, breathe and let them do their thing…

OMx 

 

Just a mother…

I just knew I was pregnant…

The first time, I was lying in bed on a boat on the Norfolk broads; my first ever boating holiday.  I’m a vegetarian.  I like late nights and late mornings.  I had been craving fish.  I was waking at 6am, bright & alert.  I had this feeling.  I’d been through over a year of heart ache about not being able to conceive.  We’d set limits on how long we would try, how invasive we would allow the treatment to be, planned an alternative if parenthood was denied us…And I waited a whole week with my secret.  Delicious and delicate, I couldn’t bear to tell anyone, just in case…And when we returned home, on my birthday, I made excuses, rushed to the chemist, hid in the toilet…And that little pee-stick confirmed my secret joy.

Second time around, sure it wasn’t long after Christmas, and we’d only just decided this was the year to see if we could conceive again.  But there it was, that feeling…And sure enough, on the day one of my dearest friends gave birth to her second child, I peed on another stick to confirm the budding joy in my belly.

I just knew…

I just grew a placenta, and I just grew a baby…

Nature is an ordinary, every day miracle.  My instincts told me I was to become a mother.  My body just knew what to do…

I just laboured,I just breathed, I just made this great, pure effort…

I just gave birth to my babies, breathed them out into my arms, welcomed them earthside, kissed their bemused faces, gazed into their open, curious, loving eyes…

I just breastfed my babies…I trusted nature, and my body nourished & nurtured my babies…

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Tandem style ;D

I just changed around 12,000 nappies…

I just woke hourly to my first born for over a week, who could not sleep in his moses basket alone.  So I just brought him into our bed, which has become our family bed…I just brought my second newborn straight into our family bed…I just nursed and comforted, sand to and soothed, my babies, keeping them close…I just welcomed my three year old into our family bed once more, wakeful and anxious will illness or bad dreams or both, he sleeps with one arm around my neck and I just about get the odd hour of sleep and I just managed to wake in the morning and I just still pack lunch, walk the school run, persuade my reluctant eldest once more to walk into school, I just manage to do it without crying at the relief that today a teacher did not have to drag him sobbing, peeling his arms from my neck…I just manage to admit that I cannot meet a commitment made and I just acknowledge that I need someone to soothe my soul…and I just find that in friends I can be nurtured and understood…and we just take our sons to the beach and swim in the sea and feel cleansed & revived and we just sit in the sunshine and make names in seaside stones and dig for buried treasure with magic sticks…and we just dream that we can mothers and make a living doing something we love and something worthwhile and something that other mothers like us will love too…

I just let my babies begin to wean themselves.  I just noticed that tiny hands grabbed at morsels on my plate, that little bodies were strong enough to support the sitter unaided, that little tongue did not thrust curious mouthfuls floorward…I just noticed, my almost 6 year old eats nearly as much as me…

I just rolled out the roll of second-hand shop wallpaper in the garden, filled the plastic plates with paint, stripped my baby naked and let him revel in the rainbow and spread his hand and foot prints all over the blank sheet and my heart…

I just washed the millionth load of family laundry…I just cleaned the loo…I just changed the bedsheets…I just cooked hearty soup for lunch and mouthwatering mascarpone & tomato pasta for tea…I just grew some veg in my back garden patch and watched my child eat sweet raw corn on the cob with eyes wide with glee…I just tidied away the same toys I tidied this morning, and yesterday, and the day before, and last week…I just hoovered up couscous…was it from the mini treasure hunt game or dried from spilled dinner two days ago?…I just sorted out small clothes that once swamped the tiny frame of my little person but that his little brother has even outgrown…I just played hide & seek and was told every time where to hide and where I could find my toddler even as his feet stuck out from under the coffee table…I just read the book I read every day for a month last year, and will read again and again and again until I can recite it sleepily without having to see the pages over the head that is gradually resting higher and higher against my chest as my smallest child grows in my lap…I just sang the songs that I have sung nightly for 6 years and will sing until I am told “Mum…I’m too old for lullabies…” because I just know that one day those words will almost break my heart…

I just abseiled, and ran into the New Year’s Day waves, and picked up a spider with my bare hands, and walked smiling and laughing through dark woods with my child in a sling held close to my heart so that my son will see a brave woman, a strong woman, and will know there is nothing to fear…

I just lost my temper and used harsh words and a cross voice and then tearfully held my child close and apologised for just being human and would he forgive me…And I just got a hug that only my child could give that knows that I am unconditionally in love with him…And I just know that he loves me that way too…And he won’t always like me, nor I him…But we will always have these moments of kisses and cuddles and stories and songs…

I just know that I will never regret a moment spent in the company of my babies, my toddlers, my children…I just love them, heart and soul, with every fibre of my body and every breath I take…

I’m just a mother…

OMx

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I am just a mother, and these are the lights of my soul & the songs of my heart

Amnesty for Agnes…Freedom for Birth

TODAY I AM AGNES GEREB

TODAY I AM AGNES GEREB

 

Want to know more? Free Agnes

 

I light a candle

I say a prayer

I take a deep breath

I dare to hope

There will be freedom for this woman

There will be freedom for all women

There will be freedom for birth

OMx

Bless your blooming body…

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As your body blossoms and you bloom into labour, remember that the astonishing arrangement of oxytocin-adrenaline-endorpin release is like a delicate flower, for full effect let it open in its own time. Your own endorphins are 20 times more powerful than morphine. Give them a little time, release your fear and feel them flow as your blooming beauty brings forth your baby

Overheard…

“…yeah, just ask for an epidural and all the drugs…………………I’m sure then it’ll be fine….”

I was standing in the queue at the parcel collection office, two women in their early 20s were chatting, and I overheard this snippet.  It made me think.  I know many women are fearful of labour and childbirth.  What I question is why so many are fearful of a natural process, a beautiful journey that sees the interplay between mother and baby unfold so powerfully that it results in the birth of a new soul and the emergence of a mother.  And yet, they are not fearful of accepting synthetic painkillers and accept epidurals without asking the risks involved.  Many women ask for epidural in the belief it will make childbirth easier.  What they are not told is that it can inhibit their production of oxytocin, which can both reduce the effectiveness of uterine contractions, therefore making labour longer (and therefore inevitably harder) and also reducing it to such a level that the intended, natural peak of its release at birth is not sufficient to trigger that moment of all-consuming love…

This is what women should be afraid of, that their reliance on medical pain relief will affect their ability to labour and to birth their babies, and subsequently may inhibit their motherly instincts for a time.  It is essential that women also come to understand that several types of analgesics (pain medications) are associated with more crying, less breast-seeking behaviours and less sucking (ie inhibition of breastfeeding) and that babies may be less alerd, less able to orient themselves and have less organised movements than babies whose mothers did not receive medication in labour, and that these differences were measurable for the whole first month after birth (The Breastfeeding Answer Book, La Leche League International, Third Revised Edition 2003, Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC & Julie Stock, MA, IBCLC).

Women are afraid of the great unknown of labour & birth that has been the norm of human existence for thousands of years, and yet perfectly prepared to accept medical intervention that has existed for mere decades.

It is time that we encouraged all mothers to know what medical interventions mean – not simply how they may *benefit* the mother, but how they may affect her in other ways, how they may impede her natural ability to birth her baby, how they may mean her baby is born sleepy and less able to breastfeed effectively, how they may impact her health in the long term.

Until we ensure that women are presented with the risks as well as the *benefits* of intervention, there is no such thing as freedom in birth, no such thing as informed choice for pregnant, labouring, birthing women.

Don’t be afraid of what we know – that women have survived & even relished labour and childbirth for millennia.  Be afraid of what you don’t know when offered drugs that will make it *easier*.

Want to find out more – these are some good places to start…

www.aims.org.uk

www.thebirthiwant.org.uk

Want to see a good birth, a beautiful birth, what it really looks like? Check out this amazing film (only about 5 mins) and then have a good look around the rest of the site too ❤

www.documentingdelight.com

from http://www.documentingdelight.com – Madelaine’s Birth

Of stones & bones

Hagstones hold such fascination for me. Stones hewn smooth by rolling waves…holes and channels worn by micromovements…the smallest grain of sand can create its free passage through given waves and time…

Water through stones…Babies through bones…the everday ordinary miracles brought into being by waves and time…

Give a birthing woman time and her body’s waves will do the rest…

Let her breathe…feel her breath ebb & flow…let her move…feel the rolling of her hips, her spine…let her vocalise…feel her true voice flow with the building energies…let her rest…feel the quiet power of deep currents beneath her calm surface…