Tag Archives: pregnancy

The Newest Essential for your Diaper Bag

Brace yourselves for a conversation about boobs, breastfeeding and breast milk – that precious, golden liquid. Forewarning: words like nipple, boob, suction and stimulate have been used in this post.

Here’s the irony.

I’m genuinely ANGRY I have only found this product now. After using and understanding Hey Kiwi‘s HaaKaa Silicone Breast Pump, you wonder why this kind of pump has never been thought of before. It is such a simple concept with such an effective outcome.

With babies #1 and #2, my breast milk supply was off.the.charts. I even donated breast milk to the Vancouver Milk Bank because I had such a huge supply. To my surprise, my milk supply was much lower with #3. It should have been more obvious that with the chaos of 3 kids, heading back to work at 4 months and just not stopping in general (in life) that my breast milk supply would be compromised.

So back to the pump – let me explain the concept: It is all about suction. Simply put, you suction the pump to your breast and let the pump do the work for you. It draws your milk out of your breast using suction. That’s it? Yip, really, that’s it.


To stimulate let down – you can ‘pump-the-pump’ by squeezing and releasing the breast pump a few times while on your boob. It’s funny, your boob kinda bounces in and out of the pump. But it works!

Here’s the HOW TO, from Hey Kiwi‘s website:

  1. After you have sterilized your pump, place top of pump over your nipple (make sure your nipple is in the neck of the pump and comfortable).
  2. Apply suction – you may need to adjust a couple of times. Once the pump is secure and comfortable you can squeeze the base of the pump (not interfering with the top/suction) to create some movement.
  3. A warm flannel on top of your breast is also a great tip and gently massage the top of your breast.
  4. Once milk begins to flow simply leave the pump alone to do its thing.
  5. Once the pump becomes full empty into a glass storage bottle and reposition.

From my experience: It took me a few tries to learn to apply the suction properly – but when it is on, it’s very comfortable and does not pinch. I did have to apply some massage (because my boobs were not full)! Had I used this when my milk came in, oh boy. I could have saved Cape Town’s drought with the amount this beautiful thing would have caught. Sigh.)

Once the milk begins to flow – HEY MAN – it’s INCREDIBLE. You can actually see streams of milk coming from your nipple. The plastic milky neck of other pumps I’d used never showed me that. I found it quite mesmerizing.

Here are my MAJOR (and unexpected) PROS:

  • It does not make a noise. So it doesn’t wake a sleeping baby. Hallelujah.
  • It is CORDLESS/does not need batteries. (When we were renovating, there was one spot in the house I could sit – in full view – and pump because I needed to plug it in. This is a game changer). This also makes it fully portable.
  • The base of the 100/150ml Pump creates a suction when you push it on a flat surface. My hard-earned milk is SAFE. If you’ve ever spilled breast milk – you’ll know that urge to break down and sob. Like a baby, without its milk.
  • I cannot personally vouch for this while breastfeeding a 9 month old but, I can confidently say that if one is struggling with engorged boobs, OR needs to express milk while nursing on the one side – this is the PERFECT gizmo to use. It allows you to quickly and easily pump for relief from engorgement, as well as collect milk from the side bubs is not latched on.
  • It’s SUPER easy to clean. Not like all the bits and pieces with ordinary machine pumps. This is a ONE piece item, (two if you have the stopper). Nothing fidgety about it. You can even pop it in the dishwasher.
  • 100% eco-friendly and safe for mom, baby and our environment.
  • It is less than 1/3rd of the price of any electric pump. (R450-R500 for pump and stopper)
  • You can pump hands-free. Once that thing is suctioned properly, sure, you can’t be doing the haka in your bedroom, but you can let it suction without needing to hold it. WHAT?!
  • It is just EASY TO USE. No fuss. Really.

Some of my most favorite people in the world are from New Zealand, so I’m a firm believer that things that come out of NZ are almost guaranteed to be RAD. I’m a total HaaKaa convert. I highly recommend giving this a go.

Want to know more? Contact Hey Kiwi onlineFacebook and Instagram. they also sell lots of other super cute goodies on their site here.

xxx

With Sincere Gratitude…

I can’t believe it has been a year since this… together with Pure Beginnings, we launched Debbie’s Pure Beginnings Pregnancy Journey.

And, as we’ve wrapped up this journey, I’ve become so nostalgic looking back over the past year. Pregnancy and parenting is such a mish-mash of excitement, stress, fear, trepidation, anticipation, joy, tears and leaking boobs.

Together with the incredible Team at Pure Beginnings, we created these videos, spoke at national Childbirth Educators Forums, and opened up many, many everyday pregnancy and birth related topics for discussion.

If you missed any posts – you can find them here:

I love this world; this crazy, frantic, joyful, intense, scary, emotional ride. This busy, tear-filled, beautiful, messy role of Motherhood. And I’ve felt so privileged to walk this road with you all, and the Pure Beginnings Team. What an absolute privilege.

And finally, in wrapping up, I can’t help but give you some inside scoop on who exactly it is, behind the brand. They are a family. But really, they are a real family. A husband and wife team (and some awesome extras), convicted to start Pure Beginnings when their own kids were born. Even with them living in Durbs, I’ve met them on numerous occasions, and been hosted in their home and have been incredibly inspired by their hard working ethic, their gentle and beautiful natures, their humility, care for people and their product and determination to do and be better and provide better alternatives for US.

You want to support that family sending their kids to soccer and/or piano lessons? Those are the people behind Pure Beginnings.

Thank you Kate and Bruce (and Amanda) for allowing me to start this journey with Brea in the best way possible, with a Pure Beginning. xxx

Packing your Hospital Bag

If you’ve had a bub before, did you find packing your hospital bag strange? I kinda do. Maybe it’s admitting that birth is imminent and you’re ‘heading somewhere important’ or it’s just that packing your phone and charger can’t be done until the last minute so it’s all a bit ‘meh’?

Anyways, since my mom has been convincing me this bub is coming early (which now I’m not so sure of), I figured I’d better get it done. Also, thanks to Dischem and Discovery, half my goodies were all over the house and so ‘Nesting Debbie’ needed to put them in their place.

As a doula, I have a list called Packing Your Hospital Bag I usually send expectant moms, but I had to do a bit more research as it seems things are different in SA (they don’t give you nappies, pads or sexy stretchy undies in hospital? – WHAAAAT?).

I combined my doula list with the ones given to me by my midwife, HypnoBirthing instructor, and hospital and so here’s my summary of what you need to pack: (of course this all depends on your personal preference and how long you plan to stay in hospital).

Mom’s Bag: 
Clothes pre and post birth (with easy access allowing breastfeeding)
Slippers, socks and dressing gown
Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, deo, lip balm, shampoo, conditioner, hairband, hair brush, face cloth)
Pads
Breast pads (not many, as your milk will only come in on day 3 or 4)
Nursing/comfy bra
Those super sexy stretchy (but admittedly, very comfortable) hot pants.

Dad’s Bag: 
If planning a water birth, dad might need his boardies. (I refrain from suggesting a speedo type suit because really, that’s just not appropriate, unless you plan on laughing that baby out).
Change of clothes
Toiletries (if staying overnight).

Baby’s Bag: 
Change of clothes (for hospital and going home), beanies, socks, vests, baby grows etc.
Swaddling blanket/s
*Nappies
Wipes
Bum cream (this is most NB for that first meconium poo – slap your natural bum cream all over that kids tush to prevent the meconium from glueing itself to your newborns bum).
*I plan to cloth diaper but that’s not so kosher for while you’re in the hospital, so I’m using the samples sent to me by all the baby marketers.

Dare I be so bold as to say you DON’T need to use Vaseline or Surgical Spirits on your freshie? You can use a natural bum cream or pure organic oil (such as coconut) for his/her first nappy, and that belly button cord would be much happier with weeping wound or graze powder over surgical spirits.

Labouring Bag: 
Anything you have that will assist in labour, although your doula will have lots of tricks if you’ve hired one.
Massage oil, massager, TENS machine, hot/cold pack rebozo etc.
SNACKS! Including sugary drinks (such as Powerade/Energade), and any other nibbles of your choice.

Added Creature Comforts: Pillows, blankets, photos, visualization pictures (and prestick), music, iPod/phone docker, candles (check the hospital regulations on what they allow regarding naked flames), essential oil diffusers etc.

FINALLY, things like: your birth plan, pregnancy card (if you’ve been seeing a midwife), hospital authorization forms, ID books/cards, camera, phone, chargers (and adapter), car seat, cash/credit cards etc.

Anything I’m missing? 

Xxx

Back to HypnoBirthing… Did it Work?

And here we find ourselves on the other side of birth. Phew.

And yes, I’ve been asked from my fellow HypnoBirthing moms in the know, the skeptics, and everyone in between… Did it work?

beautifully-born

My answer: Ask my husband, who you can find on the corner of the street holding a huge placard reading ‘HYPNOBIRTHING REALLY WORKS’.

I guess it also depends on what you imagine HypnoBirthing being. I didn’t imagine a pain-free birth, and, well… my birth certainly wasn’t pain-free. I also didn’t imagine any rainbows, silver gloves, thermometers, control switches, and I didn’t tap into any deeeep, hypno, out of body experiences. Nada. None of that.

hypnobirthing-woman

Here are excerpts from the text I sent my fellow hypnobirthers (when I was all post-partum-hormoney) the day after our daughter was born:

pink-line

‘My last two births were similar regarding their intensity and speed but were chalk and cheese! Hubby (as am I) is convinced the hypnobirthing helped tons.

1) Breathing was AMAAAAZING. The calm breathing gave me tons of energy in between contractions (at one point I was dozing off in the bath) and the surge breathing gave me something to focus on during surges.


2) I had highlighted a few affirmations but in labour all I could think about was ‘bringing oxygen to my uterus/womb’ – I think because the physical side of how the uterus works made such sense to me. So every time I took a quick 20 count breath in and out in (surge breathing) I was imagining filling all of my uterus’ blood vessels with oxygen. And knowing that 2 or 3 breaths will get you to the peaked the surge helps you handle each one.


3) Our daughter was born sleeping. She woke after a min or so, and then went back to sleep. Heart rate happy the whole time. Hubby is convinced it’s because she was calm and there was no panic.


4) A doula is a REALLY good idea. My doula was on form and so helpful because she embraced the hypnobirthing idea. I definitely felt intensity and (dare I say) pain and so knowing natural pain relief techniques (hip squeezes etc.), combined with the mental strength was incredible.


5) I felt empowered. As each surge approached, I wasn’t panicky and scared (or just anxious/tense). So I felt like I took charge of each one – as opposed to my middle child’s birth where each one smacked me across the face… Hubby said this was very apparent to him.

And here’s where (mid birth) I tossed the HypnoBirthing idea out the water…

‘Breathing baby down’ felt like saying “here’s a watermelon, now slice it in half with your eyes”. Impossible. I tried to keep with the birth breathing but that force to push is HARD-CORE and when baby is right there it’s hard not to so desperately GET.IT.OUT! Not purple pushing, but not breathing either. Aggg.. and after all that rehearsing on the loo…’

pink-line

My biggest takeaway from the classes (and from the birth) which helped me, was UNDERSTANDING the body better (mainly the uterus, hormones, endorphins and what does what) and what my mind needs to do, to help my body get into its primed and ready birthing vibe. I’d recommend this course to ANYONE remotely interested in natural birth (be it with or without pain meds), but even just the education alone is incredibly empowering.

Have you done a HypnoBirthing class, or experienced a HypnoBirthing birth? If so, please share your experience…

Image credit: Rebecca from Love Made Visible. 

When all you want is to GET THE BABY OUT

To tell you the truth, I didn’t think I’d be here – post 40 weeks. Even though 40 weeks is the estimated time of a full pregnancy, all of that depends on your cycle and when you got pregnant and and and – it is no exact science as to WHICH particular date baby WILL be born. But still, I didn’t think I’d be here… at 40 weeks… still waiting.

Did you know that Term falls anywhere between 37 weeks and 42 weeks. Thats a 5 week window. That’s far off from an exact due date.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has redefined the meaning of “term pregnancy.” Pregnancies used to be considered at term, and babies ready for delivery, any time after 37 weeks. If mom went past that, those last three weeks (or longer) were almost seen as a write-off. Now, however, after a couple of decades that have seen too many C-sections and record numbers of babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), those last few weeks of pregnancy are being taken seriously. That’s why “term pregnancy” is now being broken down into distinct categories. (Source)

Early Term: Between 37 weeks 0 days and 38 weeks 6 days
Full Term: Between 39 weeks 0 days and 40 weeks 6 days
Late Term: Between 41 weeks 0 days and 41 weeks 6 days
Poster: Between 42 weeks 0 days and beyond.

That’s just some interesting info to chew on… but say you get to 40+ weeks and despite knowing that bubs is healthy and happy and fully developed for his/her impending adventure in the outside world – if a chemical induction (oxytocin/pitocin) is looming… what can you do to BAHM!!! speed labour along?

HUGE Disclaimer: Some people swear by these methods, and some seem to have zero effect. I am no medical expert. Please speak to your Care Provider before you try anything crazy and at the end of the day, baby will come when baby is ready, so play with this all lightly. Okay? Good.

Clayden skin 2

With our second, we were warned of a fast birth. And at 40+3 days we were getting a bit nervous. Hubby had a HUGE speaking engagement fast approaching and genuinely couldn’t miss it. So on the Monday (40+3), we went nutso on EVERYTHING to do with natural induction, and Tuesday at 4:30am I went into (fast and furious) labour, and at 6:30am, our second was born. So even if it is all mental – I can’t help but believe that our attempts at natural induction were a raging, rip roaring success.

I’ve come to learn it’s all about oxytocin. ALLLL about oxytocin. So, thats the goal. Get more oxytocin running through your body, and do what you need to do to keep it up (and your stress/anxiety hormones at a minimum).

As a mom, and a doula, here’s what I would suggest: (Obviously, again, please chat to your birth team care providers before jumping into any of this.)

Exercise/Long walks. Man these can be hard because you feel like a hand or a head will pop out at any time, but don’t give up. Keep active (within reason).

Stretch and Sweep/Membrane Stripping: Some are not so keen on this one, as it’s a bit intrusive, but it can be very effective. Basically, your doctor/midwife will use a gloved finger to separate the amniotic sac from the uterine wall. This action releases prostaglandins. We love prostaglandins. *Personal preference: I had a gentle stretch and sweep with my 2nd, it didn’t hurt, and it certainly helped. 

Nipple Stimulation: Stimulating your nipples can help release oxytocin and cause your uterus to contract and possibly bring about labor.

Sex: Although research results are mixed, anecdotes abound about late babies making an entrance soon after a love-making session. Semen contains cervix-softening fats called prostaglandins (also used in medical induction) and a woman’s orgasm can lead to strong uterine contractions. (source)

Acupuncture: Acupuncture stimulates the release of oxytocin in the body. In a randomized trial published by the Journal of Perinatal Medicine, over 400 women were given acupuncture, membrane stripping, or both procedures before their labours. There were no significant differences in the outcomes of the groups, but the vast majority of these women did not require medical inductions. Pregnancy acupuncturists are often super clued up with a number of tricks including how to try turn posterior babies – so keep an open mind. Even just for the fun of it.

Acupressure/Prenatal Massage: Some practitioners believe that acupressure can start and restart labor. The key is beginning the practice early and often, or else just head to an experiences prenatal massage therapist. Various pressure points are safe to press starting at 37 weeks. You can increase pressure the closer you are to your due date and during labour itself. But prior to applying acupressure to yourself, make sure you get proper instruction from a trained acupressure professional. Read a great Mommy Potamus article about it here.

pressure-points

Spicy Foods: Spicy foods can cause your body to release prostaglandins throughout the digestive process. These hormones may trigger contractions in the uterus. Either way, even if they don’t, you scored some chilli poppers out of the experiment. So it’s a win-win. (f you’re in the Cape Town area, may I suggest The Pickled Popper‘s Chilli Poppers).

Evening Primrose Oil: Though EPO itself may not cause labor, it can prime and soften your cervix. You may take the oil orally or insert it vaginally for the best results. You can prick the oil capsule with a clean needle and insert. While healthcare providers have long suggested taking EPO to ease birth, there is little proof that it naturally induces labor. Rather, treat it as something which softens your cervix, and that can’t hurt (source).

evening-primrose-oil

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea: Midwives often recommend drinking red raspberry leaf tea in combination with evening primrose oil as your due date nears. The team at OBGYN North in Austin, Texas, share that the tea tones the uterus and helps to organize irregular contractions into regular, productive patterns. Even if it doesn’t work, you’ll stay hydrated. (source)

red-raspberry-leaf-tea

Eat Pineapple: The bromelain in pineapple and other tropical fruit is said to induce labor by stimulating the uterus. Alternately, it could just be the intestinal stimulation from eating large amounts of pineapple that gets labor started. And you would really need LARGE amounts for it to actually kick labour into gear. Either way, this is a delicious way to induce labor naturally.

Eat Dates: Date fruit contains saturated and unsaturated fatty acids such as oleic, linoleic, and linolenic acids, which are involved in saving and supplying energy and construction of prostaglandins. In addition, serotonin, tannin, and calcium in date fruit contribute to the contraction of smooth muscles of the uterus. Date fruit also has a laxative effect, which stimulates uterine contractions.” (source) There is another great article by Wellness Mama about dates and labour here.

dates

All that being said, I’d love to hear if you have tried any of these methods and if anything helped you. And of course… Good Luck!

Image credits: herbs.lovetoknow.comwww.youngandraw.comwww.checkpregnancy.com.

One Step to Reducing Chemicals on your Skin

With all the talk around chemicals and our exposure to them, I’ve had to take time to rethink what I do automatically, every day, without thinking, and if it’s a good or bad move on my part, especially during pregnancy. You know that saying ‘Every time you eat or drink you are either feeding a disease or fighting it’… well I think the same rings true for what we put ONTO our body.

every-time-you-eat-or-drink

One of my New Years Resolutions for this year was to find homemade recipes for all the make up I use and l have it be all natural by 31st December 2016. Then I got pregnant, so let’s not be holding me to all that right now. I used to make my own mascara in Vancouver (with raw egg yolk – not even kidding!), and it was awesome, and EASY, but I feel like I now need a bar fridge in my bathroom to store all my homemade products. Regardless of my lack of research into natural make up over the course of this year, I do stop and think, and pick my battles wisely.

One of these automatic, sub-conscious things I do each day, is wash myself in the shower. Having reconsidered what I use on the kids, it was only appropriate that I reconsidered what I used on myself (and hubby, who really just grabs whatever I put in the shower for us to use). I tried making homemade soaps, but the ingredient list got too long and I always found them a tad oily, and arghhhh, was just never happy with it. I prefer a good (foamy) scrub using a liquid gel, and once I tried out Pure Beginnings’ Body Wash with Organic Baobab and Ylang Ylang I was sold. There is a fair amount of exposure around their baby and kids ranges, and so has been great to see their Organic Care range expand over the years, with products such as these.

organic-care

Small steps guys, small steps. You don’t need to change EVERYTHING you use in one huge tidal wave motion. Small changes that can be maintained are where it’s at. I love how this body wash foams (unlike castille soap, which I really like, but have found some frustrations with), and how it smells and how clean it makes me feel. Also, we love a pump bottle – quantity control. It really can last much longer than squeezy bottles. I’ve even let some friends use it (I’m generous like that :)) and while initially critical, they’ve been pleasantly surprised and well impressed!

pb-care-wash

“Suitable for the whole family, this natural SLS-free body wash infused with community sourced organic Baobab fruit extract will leave skin feeling soft and clean. The natural citrus and ylang ylang fragrance combine to make bath and shower time a delightful experience”. 

Also, don’t be fooled. This is a bigger issue than you might think. This natural body wash is not just eliminating the BAD stuff (SLS, parabens, etc.) but it is using and introducing the GOOD stuff.

It optimises environment for beneficial microbes:

  • Includes inulin, a prebiotic, to create a healthy micro-climate for beneficial bacteria.
  • pH balanced to avoid stressing the skin.
  • Gentle surfactants to ensure natural skin oils and beneficial microbes are not stripped and skin is not compromised.

It defends agains environmental stress:

  • Baobab Fruit Extract and Vitamin E, both strong anti-oxidants, fight free radical damage from pollution, the sun and the environment.

It hydrates and nourishes:

  • Natural plant oils such as Jojoba, Coconut, Argan and Sunflower oil deliver essential fatty acids to hydrate and nourish.
  • Inulin provides moisturising properties.

It soothes and calms:

    • Aloe Vera acts as a natural anti-inflammatory to soothe irritation and calm the skin.

And so just like that you have more than enough reasons to stop, rethink, and reconsider what you are putting on your skin each day, reduce the amount of synthetic chemicals you are exposing yourself to and be properly awesome at the same time.

If you want more inspiration, and have conquered step one by changing your body wash, why not go wild and rethink your toothpaste, deo, shaving cream and hair care?

My Experience with HypnoBirthing

I toyed for ages whether or not I should sign up for a HypnoBirthing® class, and then I just did. I mean, this was my 3rd pregnancy, I’d done all the prenatal stuff overseas, attended the breastfeeding lectures, the home birth info evenings, and had witnessed and assisted at many births, so did I need it? Gah! I tend to overthink these things, so I just jumped, which I guess is the best way to do stuff sometimes.

Like a number of people I’ve chatted to, I was a little put off (maybe confused is a better word) by the name, HypnoBirthing®. Kim from Beautifully Born suggested I come for the first week and if it wasn’t up my alley, I could duck and never return. Sounded like a sweet deal to me… of course she knew I’d fall in love with the concept and be itching to return – which I was.

beautifully-born

Kim is the HypnoBirthing® Faculty Member, Regional Liaison, Practitioner trainer for South Africa, and Founder and Owner of Beautifully Born HypnoBirthing® – so you must know she knows her stuff. When you’re dealing in the potentially ‘airy fairy side’ of all this hippie birthing goodness, you want someone legit. Kim is legit.

TIME WILL TELL (ha ha ha) if my HypnoBirthing® training will be effective or not (look out for THAT blog post!) but I thought pre-birth, let me inform you what HypnoBirthing® is all about… well, what I understood it be.

“I’ve been a Labor & Birthing nurse for 17 years; and after attending HypnoBirthings,  I’ll never look at birth in the same light. It’s incredible.”
– Traveling Nurse, Judy Richardson, RN

marie-mongan-hypnobirthing
What is HypnoBirthing®?

HypnoBirthing® is a tried and proven method that guides and prepares a woman in giving birth in a peaceful and extraordinarily beautiful manner. It is a program that considers the psychological, as well as the physical, well-being of the mother, her birth partner, and the newborn, independent of context, whether that be in the quiet of a home, a hospital, or a birth center.

The HypnoBirthing® program is built around an educational process that includes special breathing, relaxation, visualization, meditative practice, attention to nutrition and positive body toning. Most importantly it fosters an air of mutual respect for the birthing family, as well as the health-care provider in a traditional health-care system or an alternative setting. (source)

The HypnoBirthing®  Premise

For me, a LOT of this made sense. Especially experiencing two different birthing cultures, in South Africa and Canada.pink-lineFor most of their lives, women have been inundated with the negative stories of other women’s birth experiences. Everyone, from their mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, friends, and even strangers, wants to tell them the horrors of giving birth. They have been conditioned to believe that excruciating pain is associated with labor; and because of this, women today hold an unprecedented fear of giving birth. This extreme fear causes their bodies to become tense, and that tension prohibits their bodies from easily performing a normal physiological function. The result is exactly what they feared most–long, painful birthing or unnecessary intervention.

People who are drawn to HypnoBirthing® have long been searching for a way to give birth confidently and as calmly, safely, and gently as possible, whether they have chosen to birth in a hospital, a birthing center, or at home. Until HypnoBirthing®, this kind of birthing almost seemed unattainable for the general population.

Through a very simple program of self-hypnosis and education, healthy, low-risk women, as well as women who need medical assistance because of special circumstances, learn to dismiss fear-based stories, misinformation, and birthing myths; and they are helped to see birth as normal. They learn to trust that their bodies know how to bring their babies into the world in the calm and gentle way that Nature intended. (source)pink-lineNot all HypnoBirthing is the same. Make sure you find a legit teacher, teaching the Marie Mongan Method.

Got it? Easy peasy, right? Ha. There are more details at the very bottom, but for the majority of you, I think you’re reading this to find out what I (the average human) thought of the class. I’ll put it in bullet point for you:

  • Liberating and Empowering – reminding me that natural childbirth is just that, natural. Possible. Beautiful. Doable.
  • I understood it as finding a state of relaxed-ness where your body can do what it was designed to do.
  • The importance of understanding the fear – tension – pain cycle and how it can inhibit birth.
  • Learning about the uterus’ muscles and what your body is doing when the beautiful, gentle and shy hormone Oxytocin leads the way…
  • Rephrasing birth/labour lingo (this was interesting, and refreshing).
  • Remembering the importance of positive thinking, the role of the subconscious, visualization and affirmations.
  • Some of the mild hypnosis (deep relaxation) stuff was a bit out-there, and I’m nervous I might struggle without the lead of someone like Kim, but I’m very keen to give it a go and see how it all plays out.

Practically, here’s what I’ve been doing over the last 5 weeks: Reading the book (NB!), listening to the Rainbow Relaxation track on my phone every night (I fall asleep after about 20 seconds), and listening to positive birth affirmations in the car. Hubby has been practising the light touch massage (like a back tickle – so good!) and I’ve been rehearsing my 3 different types of breathing: calm, surge and birth breathing.

birth-affirmations

Honestly, I could ramble on and on and on about this (ask our Friday night dinner friends). Pre-birth, I would recommend this course to anyone who is inclined towards a natural labour (not augmented) and birth and is wanting to be instructed as to how to think about birth differently – with a fresh, new mindset, and NOT one where you feel like you’re out of control and are being filmed for the next horror movie.

Now tell me, have you tried HypnoBirthing? Did it help? What worked, what didn’t? Talk to me… but really… I need to implement this stuff within days. Yeeeee…

hypnobirthing

I’m sure you have questions. Some of them might be answered here. If you are playing with the idea of attending a class, chat to Kim. You can contact Beautifully Born online and on Facebook.

The Deets: HypnoBirthing® Classes are taught in a format of five, 2 1/2-hour classes.

You will be provided with the official HypnoBirthing® book, Rainbow relaxation CD and all course materials. Refreshments will be provided during classes.

Course prices

  • The cost per couple for a group course is R1950.
  • There are private courses available in your own home or at a practitioner’s venue – contact Kim to find out about your nearest practitioner, prices and availability

Payment terms for all courses can be arranged, please ask your practitioner.

Here is the outline as to what is covered:

Week 1 – Building A Positive Expectancy

Introduction to the remarkable HypnoBirthing® philosophy
The History of Women and Birthing
Why and how you can have an easier, more comfortable, and safer birthing
How Nature perfectly designed women’s bodies to birth
How to assist, rather than resist, your natural birthing instincts
The vocabulary for calm and gentle birthing
Visualizing gentle births by viewing beautiful birthing videos.

Week 2 – Falling in Love with Your Baby/Preparing Mind & Body

The remarkable mind of your newborn baby—Prenatal bonding techniques
Rapid and instant self-relaxation techniques and deepening techniques
Breathing techniques for labor and birthing
Hypnotic relaxation and visualization
Selecting the right care provider
The Birth companion’s role in birthing
Preparing your body for birthing with massage and toning.

Week 3 – Getting Ready to Welcome your Baby

Preparing Birth Preference Sheets
Preparing the Body for Birthing
Light Touch Labor Massage
Your body working for and with you
Avoiding artificial induction and achieving a natural start to labor
Releasing negative emotions, fears and limiting thoughts.

Week 4 – An Overview of Birthing – A Labor of Love

Onset of Labor – Thinning and Opening Phase
Birth explained simply
Settling in at the hospital or birthing center
Preparing for home birth – or baby’s choice of birth
As labor moves along – passing time through labor
Hallmarks of labor
If labor rests or slows – Companion’s  prompts and activities
As labor advances – birthing with your baby
Protecting the natural birthing experience
Birth rehearsal imagery.

Week 5 – Birth, Breathing Love, Bringing Life

Moving into birthing
Positions for descent and birthing
Breathing baby down to birth
Baby moves to the breast
Family bonding with your baby.

Image credit: andrewmicahornoch.tumblr.commombodystroll.com, www.beautifullyborn.co.za, https://us.hypnobirthing.com.

The One about Hiring a Doula

Birth is expensive – I get it. I’m facing all of that right now. Scans, blood tests, Dr’s/midwife bills… it goes on and on. On top of that, I’ve just signed up for HypnoBirthing classes, and for first time mom and dads there are prenatal classes, prenatal yoga, lactation consults, buying a ga-zillion (often expensive) things. It’s all just hectic.

And then there is the doula, which doesn’t seem all that important when facing the million bills, unexpected needs, third trimester exhaustion and hubby asking “what on earth is a doula?”

I’ll save you my shpeel on why I think you really, really reaaaaaally should consider hiring a doula (I am a doula, and have had a doula at both previous births – so am a huge advocate) but I’ll just give you some food for thought, inspired by Wellness Mama Blogger, Katie.

if a doula was a drug

As a doula, it is an honour to be invited to participate in anyone’s birth team, and having done it numerous times, I am always inspired and in awe of labouring moms. There really is something so primal and raw about a mother labouring – it is beautiful and astounding to witness. While doula’s are certainly not the be-all-and-end-all of births, there is a lot of evidence that the presence of a doula can shorten labours and (in some cases, drastically) improve birth outcomes.

What is a Doula and What Does She Do? (Source)

doula-ing

What Does a Doula Do? The word “Doula” comes from the Greek word doule, meaning “handmaiden” or “woman who serves.” That is precisely the role of a doula for a laboring woman: to serve the laboring mother and help her have her desired birth outcome. 

In essence, a doula is a massage therapist, friend, therapist, DJ, court jester or anything else a mother needs her to be in labor. She is a shoulder to cry on or an encouragement when the mother thinks she can’t go on.  Most doulas go through a rigorous training program before assisting women in labor.

A doula is trained in labor and childbirth and provides continuous support to a laboring mother. Her focus is tending to and helping the mom and supporting the relationship of the laboring couple. Doulas often support laboring women by:

  • Providing continuous emotional and physical support,
  • Giving information if asked and helping the mother find resources to research her birth choices (before labor),
  • Using comfort measures like massage, suggesting different positions and helping with relaxation breathing,
  • Accommodating the mother’s wishes for the birth environment (low light, soft music, etc) to the extent possible in the place of birth,
  • Encouraging the mother to communicate with her doctor and to be informed about any procedures and interventions (a doula does NOT give medical advice or interfere with the doctor/mother relationship),
  • Supporting the father or birth partner in the best way to support the mother. A doula never replaces the very important role of the birth partner and a good doula will help the birth partner by suggesting ways that he can support the laboring mom and things that can improve their synergy in labour.

But WHY a Doula?

Women have complex needs during childbirth and the weeks that follow. In addition to medical care and the love and companionship provided by their partners, women need consistent, continuous reassurance, comfort, encouragement and respect. They need individualized care based on their circumstances and preferences.

Doulas are educated and experienced in childbirth and the postpartum period. We are prepared to provide physical (non-medical), emotional and informational support to women and their partners during labor and birth, as well as to families in the weeks following childbirth. We offer a loving touch, positioning and comfort measures that make childbearing women and families feel nurtured and cared for.

Doulas are also great at practical help: taking photos at your birth, moving your bags from one room to another, keeping you hydrated, massaging your lower back through a tough contraction, helping you understand ‘medical talk’ going on around you, filling the bath if you desire a water birth, and they’re always on the other side of the phone when your waters break, you lose your mucus plug, or you’re onto your 17th cup of red raspberry leaf tea…

red-raspberry-leaf-tea

Numerous clinical studies have found that a doula’s presence at birth

  • tends to result in shorter labors with fewer complications,
  • reduces negative feelings about one’s childbirth experience,
  • reduces the need for pitocin/oxytocin (a labour-inducing drug), forceps or vacuum extraction and cesareans,
  • reduces the mother’s request for pain medication and/or epidurals.

Research shows parents who receive support can:

  • Feel more secure and cared for,
  • Are more successful in adapting to new family dynamics,
  • Have greater success with breastfeeding,
  • Have greater self-confidence,
  • Have less postpartum depression.

So, how do you go about Hiring a Doula?

In South Africa, the best thing to do is to check out WOMBS (Facebook and website) as well as MamaBamba and just ask around. Chat to your gynae or midwife. Doulas gain the most business from word-of-mouth, because I think actions really do speak louder that words in this type of ‘industry’.

Interviewing a number of potential doulas is really important – but might feel a bit weird, right? Even if you’re not sold on the idea, I’d recommend just meeting with a couple and chatting stuff through, and soon enough you’ll get a feel for what they can do to support you in your birth and if you want them as part of your birth team.

Here’s a cheat sheet on what to ask (thanks to Wellness Mama)

Important Questions to ask when considering a Doula:

  1. What is your training? If certified, through what organization?
  2. Are you available around my due date?
  3. How many other clients do you have around this time?
  4. What is your philosophy about birth and how do you most often support women in labour?
  5. How many births have you attended?
  6. Have you attended births at my birth location and what were experiences there?
  7. Do you have experience with my caregiver?
  8. Do you have a backup doula and will I meet her?
  9. At what point in labor do you meet up with us?
  10. How do we contact you during labor? Are you always on call?
  11. What coping techniques do you find most helpful?
  12. What are your fees?
  13. Why did you become a doula?
  14. Have you given birth yourself? Did you have a doula? What were your birth experiences?

It is also really important to connect with your doula and feel like you can trust her. She will be with you during one of the most intimate and vulnerable times in your life, so your comfort with her is vital.

Money, money, money…

The cost of a doula varies greatly depending on where you live. Doulas who are working toward certification (student doulas or doulas-in-training) may offer discounted or free rates (WIN!), while some really experienced doulas can cost a pretty penny (but often offer awesome benefits such as a whole toolbox of tricks, use of a TENS machine, prenatal massage, training in HypnoBirthing and so on). In general in South Africa, the rate seems to be around R3000. For the most part, medical aid will not cover this cost, so needs to be calculated into your birth budget.

This might sound like a huge additional (and maybe even seemingly unnecessary) expense, but considering the additional expenses that can occur without the presence of a doula, can be just as much if not more. If for no other reason than protecting the birth experience and the deep (deeeeeep) memories associated with your birth experience, that was enough for me. In my mere 32 years of being alive, one thing I’ll always believe in is community, The Village, and it is in these times of very real vulnerability that continuous loving support can make or break. We were never ever meant to birth alone.

And so, have you ever had or considered using a doula? What was your experience?

Image credit: blissfulbeginningsdoulacare.wordpress.com, antipodeanmushroom.wordpress.com,

 

About being Reprimanded by a ‘Gynae’ at Woolies

So here’s a funny story. I like coffee, right? And while I stayed away from coffee in my first pregnancy, I relaxed a bit in my second, and now with my third – well this one loves it. Pick your battles and everything in moderation are things we need to tell ourselves, daily.

So I’m standing in a queue at Woolies this morning with a Vida in my one hand (which could have been anything – hot choc, decaf, anything)  and a chocolate croissant in the other, and I hear this voice say “you know that’s not good for your baby?”. And in a sure state of shock and ‘did I actually just hear a stranger say that to me?’, I lifted to my head to hear the voice once again… “You’re talking to a gynecologist”.

I think I stammered some kind of response like “I’m fine, thanks” and “can I please pay for this croissant?”, to which the (supposed) gynecologist asked “don’t you feel your baby kick much more after a cup of coffee?”. At this point I’m trying desperately to a) wrap my head around if I’m really living this and am actually being publicly judged, b) get out of this conversation I really don’t want to have with a stranger at 9am on a Friday morning, and c) just pay for my croissant.

Said gynecologist then wished me well (I think with the seemingly small amount of social awareness he possessed, he had picked up that I was not interested in having this conversation about my bad parenting with a stranger in a public setting) and he went on his way. The very sweet cashier and I exchanged a brief conversation with lines such as ‘each to their own’ and ‘at least I’m not smoking dried paint and drinking petrol’. And that was that. Funnily (hang on, horrifically) enough, my pregnant colleague experienced a very similar thing recently.

be kind flowers

Whether or not you agree with drinking coffee or alcohol, eating cupcake batter or dying your hair while pregnant, that’s not really the point. Each person has their own story, and their own convictions, and while maybe I’d choose to use natural products and cloth diaper my kid, doesn’t ever mean that I should judge or condemn anyone who does something differently to me.

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It got me thinking, as I sipped my evil coffee and nibbled on my wheaty, starchy, gluten, vegetable fat, and fake-flavour-filled croissant about how quickly we naturally judge others who choose different ways of doing things to what we do. Even as I blog about our greenISH life, I hope you never think I’ve got this down and that I’m all high and mighty. My story began from a personal conviction, NOT from wanting to tie a noose around my neck and label myself as perfectly ‘green’. I’m definitely not, and I’m happy to say so here. I write to inspire others, NEVER to make them feel judged. I’m failing miserably (and I sincerely apologise) if that has ever been the outcome.

So around all things pregnancy and birth (because that’s where my head is currently): I love this quote:

deer

I know of a beautiful, mixed, vastly different cultural group of friends who have never had a sip of caffeine and those who have had numerous (but safe) alcoholic drinks in their pregnancies. From HypnoBirthing, to elective cesareans, to un-medicated home births. I have dear friends who have had cesareans which have saved their and their babies’ lives. Those pro vaccine, and those anti. Those who eat strictly paleo, and those who live on quick, sneaky convenience food. Those who exercise excessively throughout their pregnancies and those who glue themselves to the couch from Day 1. Breastfeeding, bottle feeding; stay-at-home moms, back-to-work moms. Last night you would have caught me listening to positive birth affirmations, on repeat, in a candle-lit bath; and ask my hubby, each night we are currently listening to Marie Mongan’s Rainbow Relaxation CD as we fall asleep (after the Olympic Artistic Gymnastics of course). Oh, we are all so very, very wonderfully different.

And so while I’ve spoken to many gynaes, midwives and birth professionals about the yes or no to coffee, let’s all just hold our tongues a little quicker before we think our (personal and unasked for) advice is what every stranger in the queue behind us wishes to hear. I’m not saying we should live in a society where we can’t offer our opinion (please no), but let’s make sure it’s within relationship, it’s healthy, encouraging, and loving, even if it does involve rebuke. Okay? Awesome.

Happy Weekend you beautifully different, and equally wonderful people!

Epsom Salt – and why it’s awesome

I first heard about epsom salt way back in 2008 when I used to work at a Health and Wellness clinic. Primarily it was used to pop in a warm bath and increase magnesium absorption (which is good for you obviously). It’s a pretty cheap product to buy so I used to get some from time to time, and even used to make my own magnesium scrubs with epsom salt and essential oils (you know, before kids).

A friend had a truck load she was trying to get rid of and so I bought 6kg. Usually my go to – is to run a nice hot epsom salt bath, but there are MANY other uses for this little whiteish rock type stuff and knowing it was great to use during pregnancy, I thought I’d remind myself of its uses and benefits.

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Thanks to Wellness Mama, here is a super comprehensive list of ways and means to use it. Hold your breath – its coming up…

First off, epsom salt is a really good source of magnesium. Magnesium is necessary for hundreds of functions within the body, but is especially important for:

  • Gives rigidity AND flexibility to your bones (more important than Calcium in many cases)
  • Increases bioavailability of calcium
  • Regulates and normalizes blood pressure
  • Prevents and reverses kidney stone formation
  • Promotes restful sleep
  • Helps prevent congestive heart failure
  • Eases muscle cramps and spasms
  • Lowers serum cholesterol levels and triglycerides
  • Decreases insulin resistance
  • Can prevent atherosclerosis and stroke
  • End cluster and migraine headaches
  • Enhances circulation
  • Relieves fibromyalgia and chronic pain
  • Treats asthma and emphysema
  • Helps make proteins
  • Encourages proper elimination
  • Prevents osteoporosis
  • Proper Vitamin D absorption
  • Protection from radiation
  • To aid weight loss
  • Lessen or remove ADD or ADHD in children
  • in proper digestion of carbohydrates
  • emerging evidence is showing a preventative role in many cancers
  • (source)

… all I can think about now is how I can persuade my hubby to buy me a huge free standing bath, equipped with candles, surround sound of All Sons & Daughters (what the heck, just make it sound proof), with Lindt dark choc balls on request. Surely that’s not too hard.

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Here is the list of ways in which you can easily use epsom salt. I’ve bolded my fave.

  • As a relaxing Magnesium Bath Soak – Add at least 1 cup of epsom salt to a warm bath and soak for 20 minutes.
  • Splinter Removal – soak in concentrated epsom salt water to pull out a splinter.
  • Magnesium Foot Scrub – make a homemade magnesium scrub (recipe here) for a boost of magnesium and super soft skin.
  • Better Vegetables – add a tablespoon of epsom salt to the soil below a tomato plant to boost growth. (Your veggies need magnesium too!)
  • Facial Wash – add a pinch of epsom salt to your usual face cleaner for a skin exfoliating magnesium boost.
  • Tile/Grout Cleaner – mix equal parts of liquid dish soap and epsom salts and use to scrub tile and grout. Rinse well for a streak free shine.
  • Body Aches – add 2 cups of epsom salt to a warm bath and soak for at least 20 minutes to help relieve muscle sprains and for a transdermal magnesium boost.
  • Homemade Sea Salt Spray – make your own sea salt spray to add texture and volume to hair- recipe here.
  • Water House Plants – help house plants grow by adding a couple tablespoons of epsom salt to the water when you water them.
  • Volumeizing Hair Mask – combine equal parts of conditioner and epsom salt and leave on hair for 20 minutes. Rinse well and let air dry for thicker hair.
  • Foot Soak – for a concentrated magnesium boost, add 1 cup of epsom salt to a hot foot soak and soak for 20 minutes.
  • Get rid of slugs – have slugs in your garden or on your patio? Sprinkle epsom salt to deter them. (I’ve heard you can do this with moles too!)
  • Making Magnesium Lotion – using magnesium flakes is a better option, but in a pinch, you can use epsom salt to make homemade magnesium oil (recipe here).
  • Laxative – for occasional constipation, a teaspoon of epsom salt dissolved in water can help. Check with a doctor first.
  • Beautiful Roses – add a tablespoon a week to the soil around rose bushes before watering for faster growth.
  • Soil Prep – before planting, we add a few bags of epsom salt to the soil in the garden and water in to help replenish soil magnesium levels.
  • Headache relief – there is evidence that soaking in a soothing epsom salt bath may help relieve headache.
  • Smooth skin – mix 1/2 cup epsom salt with 1/4 cup olive oil and scrub skin in the shower for healthy and smooth skin.
  • Itchy Skin or Bug Bites – dissolve a tablespoon of epsom salt in to 1/2 cup of water and cool. Spritz on itchy skin or apply a wet compress to help relieve itching.
  • Minor Sunburn Relief – use the same ratio in the itchy skin relief above and spritz on to minor sunburns to help soothe them.
  • Help Kids Sleep Better – add a cup to kids’ bath water before bed to help them sleep peacefully… (I’ve definitely done this on a number of occasions).

 
That’s enough to keep us going for a while. If you’re interested to read more about magnesium, check out this link.

Now, go and run that bath already.

Image credit: www.doctoroz.com and www.livestrong.com