birth, our work, pregnancy

Call out to pregnant mamas

Clay birth power symbols sculpted by the group

I’ve had the pleasure of running an intimate pregnant mamas’ circle over the last 6 months with Roshnii. It feels like we have all been on quite a journey witnessing tiny bellies grow into full voluptuous curves. We are now on the verge of welcoming several of these mamas over the threshold into new motherhood. What an exciting time.

There have been tears, growth, realisations and much laughter shared. As well as teaching yoga for pregnancy our focus when working with pregnant women is to encourage and facilitate them to dive deeper into their subconscious and unconscious, to explore and uncover more of themselves. 

I feel such gratitude to be able to walk this path beside pregnant mamas witnessing the infinite transformations that occur as the miracle of pregnancy unfolds. These last few months we have enjoyed making labyrinths as a tool for childbirth, moulding clay into birth power symbols, experimenting with the power of the breath in its myriad forms and used drawing and visualisation as a way to access deeper parts of ourselves.

This cycle of women is slowly coming to a close over the next couple of months. We would love to continue the group so if you are pregnant yourself or know someone you think would enjoy a nourishing nurturing space to prepare body and mind for birth please shout out. We would love to hear from you.

Contact us for more information.

baby, birth, breastfeeding, motherhood, postpartum

The amazing benefits of Skin-to-skin: Investing in your long-term wellbeing

There is nothing more beautiful than holding your bare baby against your skin in the magical moments after birth.

For some years now, the practice skin-to-skin contact, immediately or as soon as possible after birth, has been found to be beneficial to both mum and baby.

Newborn skin to skin

However, here in Portugal, it is still common practice for the pediatrician to take the baby away for medical checks in the first crucial minutes  or hours after birth. Here, I am going to explain why asserting your right to spend the first hour of life skin-to-skin with your baby is an investment in the long-term health and wellbeing of both of you.

You may want to discuss your preferences with your caregivers during your prenatal appointments so that they know how important it is to you that you have an uninterrupted hour of skin-to-skin time immediately after birth. Your partner, doula or birth companion will need to assert your wish to have this skin-to-skin period at the birth when you, the mother, may not feel like speaking up.

Skin-to-skin, or Kangaroo Care (KC) as it is known specifically when the baby is in an upright chest-to-chest position with the parent, is not just something nice to do with your newborn. There are many important and tangible health benefits for both mother and baby.

Continue reading “The amazing benefits of Skin-to-skin: Investing in your long-term wellbeing”

birth, labour, reflections

Leave the clock behind

As a pregnant woman, surrounded by a birth culture that is obsessed with monitoring the progress of labour, it is hard not to focus on how long labour has lasted and how long and frequent your contractions are.

Yet it appears to me that the habit of ‘watching the clock’ from the first rhythmic twinges of early labour can make the process seem long, drawn out and eventually exhausting.

timing-contractions

Every woman’s labour is different to the next and the effacement and dilation of the cervix can happen in fits and starts rather than along a predictable curve, so even if you are closely timing your labour it doesn’t mean you know how far you’ve come or how far you have to go, which is ultimately what all women long to know.

In the world of birth, you hear a lot about long labours, fatigue and lack of progress, which then lead to interventions such as the use of synthetic oxytocin to speed up the labour or epidural anasthesia to enable a mother, who has been labouring for many hours, to rest .

But what if our image and expectations of labour were different? What if, instead of watching the clock or the smartphone app to time contractions, a woman in the early stirrings of labour set her mind on some other absorbing task? Continue reading “Leave the clock behind”

birth, labour, pregnancy, reflections

Why trust in birth?

Diving into Pam England’s latest book, Ancient Map for Modern Birth, I was faced with a section on the notion of trust in the realm of pregnancy, birth and post-partum, which urged me to unpick the phrase ‘I Trust in Birth’ – the name for our doula service.

The words ‘I Trust in Birth’ surfaced, as an affirmation for myself as an embryonic doula, in a session with a pregnant couple preparing for the arrival of their first child. The phrase encapsulated the faith in myself and other women to be able to give birth in their own natural way, given the right preparation and environment. My friend, who was my doula at my first two births, had embodied that unswerving trust in my ability to birth and I found it contagious. In both births, the staunch belief that she held in me helped me navigate some tricky twists and turns in events where I otherwise might have faltered. Continue reading “Why trust in birth?”

birth, reflections

The gift of witnessing unassisted birth

It occurred to me recently, after watching the videos below, how valuable and educational it is to be able to witness unassisted birth.

For mothers and fathers to be, their children, and medical professionals to see what birth looks like when nobody intervenes in any way is a gift in helping us to understand what birth can be in its natural form, uncontrolled or influenced by outside forces.

newborn-kiss

The decision to birth without the presence of a midwife or other medical professional is a very personal one, which only a small percentage of women in ‘developed’ countries consciously take.
My second child was born without a midwife present, although it wasn’t exactly premeditated. I considered the option of calling ‘them’ but it never felt like the appropriate time to allow a stranger into my birthspace – as having a homebirth with the UK National Health Service at the time would have meant that I would not have met the midwife who was sent out to my home on that early March night. And the second stage of labour, when the contractions accelerated massively in intensity and frequency, thrust me very quickly into natural pushing, which resulted in the sudden arrival of my baby boy. Continue reading “The gift of witnessing unassisted birth”

birth, literature

Immaculate Deception

41tP3UbeWpL._SY373_BO1,204,203,200_

I have just finished reading a book called ‘Immaculate Deception – A new look at birth for American Women’ by Suzanne Arms. The book was published in 1975, so it’s far from new now but is nonetheless a thought-provoking assessment of technology-led obstetrics versus person-centred midwifery care and, despite its age, has many insights that are relevant to Portugal in 2018.

The idea that has really stuck in my mind is this one:
“According to most studies, 70% of all birthing women in America, if given adequate prenatal care, could deliver their babies normally and without need of medical intervention at all. Another 20% may have complications that require extra prenatal care and some special attention, but these mothers, too, could give birth normally, again, without need for medical interference. This means that at least 90% of all birthing mothers can have normal, spontaneous births and have healthy babies. Many doctors, among them the noted author and natural childbirth advocate Dr. Robert Bradley, believe that 90% is far too conservative an estimate for normal births, and that 93-96% is a much more realistic figure.” (p.48)

Continue reading “Immaculate Deception”

birth, labour

Toques: Ferramenta útil ou intervenção desnecessaria? / Vaginal exams: Useful tool or unnecessary intervention?

Inserir os dedos na vagina de uma mulher deve ser uma das formas mais íntimas ou invasivas de tocar o corpo de uma mulher. Ainda assim, este continua a ser o método mais utilizado para determinar a progressão do trabalho de parto.

Existem de facto muitas maneiras para uma parteira avaliar o quanto o trabalho de parto de uma mulher já progrediu, tais como:

  • escutar os sons que ela faz;
  • sentir o odor presente na divisão;
  • verificar a linha púrpura que pode surgir na pele entre as nádegas;
  • notar como a mulher está a interagir com os que a rodeiam.

Continuar a ler este artigo na Vida Ativa.

—————————-

Inserting one’s fingers into a woman’s vagina must be one of the most intimate or invasive ways to touch a woman’s body. And yet, this continues to be the most commonly used method of assessing a woman’s progress in labour.

There are in fact many ways that a midwife can assess how far a woman’s labour has progressed, such as: listening to the sounds she makes; observing the smell in the room; checking for the purple line that may rise on the skin between the buttocks or simply noticing how the woman is interacting with those around her.
As well as being an invasive and sometimes painful procedure that may make a labouring woman feel uncomfortable or tense at a time when she needs to feel relaxed and at ease, vaginal exams (VEs) can be problematic for a number of reasons.

Continue reading “Toques: Ferramenta útil ou intervenção desnecessaria? / Vaginal exams: Useful tool or unnecessary intervention?”

birth

Ajudar é não perturbar / To help is to not disturb

Originally published on umamaenasceu.org

English version below

«O parto é um processo fisiológico involuntário; não pode ser ajudado, mas pode ser perturbado.» – Michel Odent (citado de memória do curso Paramana Doula, Janeiro de 2011).

Enquanto que algumas pessoas afirmem que para muitos de nós humanos, o parto pode ser um evento emocional e espiritual, este é incontestavelmente um acto fisiológico.

Muitas vezes falamos de mulheres que são «assistidas» no processo de dar à luz ou mesmo é utilizada a frase «o dr. X fez o parto». Mas como a citação de Michel Odent demonstra, é enganador pensar ou dizer que uma mulher pode ser ajudada a dar à luz. De facto, assumir essa perspectiva pode mesmo causar mais problemas do que trazer resultados positivos.

jc1213.JPG

Pelo contrário, talvez seja mais seguro afirmar que a melhor forma como podemos apoiar um parto é ajudando a criar as condições nas quais as mudanças fisiológicas necessárias possam acontecer no corpo feminino. Isto significa limitar as perturbações que interferem com estes processos.

De forma a fazer isto, é necessário ter um conhecimento básico da fisiologia do parto.

Continue reading “Ajudar é não perturbar / To help is to not disturb”