Pregnancy Yoga - Belly Flex...Childbirth Education....Labor/Birth Support...Mother Baby Yoga...Infant Massage...Breastfeeding Support
Belly Flex TM - yoga based childbirth preparation...more than just pregnancy yoga!
Margaret River...Busselton...South Western Australia
More than just pregnancy yoga!
Frequently asked questions and interesting facts
Yes. The pregnancy yoga classes (as well as the Mother & Baby yoga classes) are suitable for all levels, from beginner to intermediate practitioner. Everyone works at their own pace, and if you find a pose difficult I simply give you an alternative position.
No problem...part of teaching mother & baby classes is being flexible. Some days the class focus is on sitting postures, while the babies are having their morning tea. If your baby wants to be held and is unsettled that is ok too. The class is about having some time out for mother and baby. I find that most of the time, the babies are all happy to either receive a massage or simply watch mummy doing some yoga.
I believe in supporting couples in their birth choices, whether it be an induction, caesarian section, home birth, water birth, hospital birth or VBAC. I aim to provide all my class and workshop participants with the confidence to welcome their baby with love, enjoyment and happiness. Birth is only one part of the whole process of "Belly, Birth & Baby".
Your baby has plenty of room to perform 'baby gymnastics' as they grow, with most mothers identifying with a peak in baby mobility and activity between 28-32 weeks. After 32 weeks your baby has less room to move, and will have a tendency to adopt a head down (cephalic) position, simply as the head fits comfortably in the pelvis. A baby can turn from a breech to a head down position right up until a few hours before labor starts, or even just before they are born.
Regular practice of yoga in pregnancy helps to 'open' the pelvis, encouraging the baby to be head down. I can provide you with a few poses (in my classes) to help encourage a baby to turn, but ultimately it is up to your unique little baby.
28th November 2008
Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 2008 Oct;48(5):450-3.
Why planned attended homebirth should be more widely supported in Australia.
South Australia Maternity Coalition, c/o 2-B Sylvan Way, Glenalta, South Australia, Australia.
This article argues that the continuing reluctance on the part of professional and bureaucratic bodies in Australia to provide for and support planned attended homebirth for low-risk women is unfounded according to the research evidence. It also suggests that such lack of support might be encouraging some planned but intentionally unattended homebirths to occur in Australia, particularly as in recent years there appears to have been an increase in popularity in freebirth (or do-it-yourself homebirth). The article calls for RANZCOG and Australian state health departments to support planned attended homebirth for low-risk women in the face of what is now a considerable amount of evidence showing its safety, when compared with unplanned homebirth and hospital birth. The article raises a number of challenging issues for obstetricians, midwives and managers or planners of maternity services.
Res Nurs Health. 1988 Jun;11(3):175-81.
Home birth and hospital deliveries: a comparison of the perceived painfulness of parturition.
Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.
Cognitive assessments of the amount of pain associated with childbirth by parents electing either homebirth (n = 282) or hospital delivery (n = 191) were compared using Thurstone's univariate scaling method of paired comparisons. Subjects compared the pain of childbirth with 8 other painful events. The hospital birth group rated childbirth pain significantly higher than the homebirth group. In the homebirth group, females considered the pain to be less than the males, and in the hospital birth group, the females rated pain higher than the males.
13th October 2008
Birth at home, in your own comfortable and familiar environment with a homebirth midwife.
Birth is a natural and normal event.
Women who birth at home:
are more likely to have a positive and empowering labor and birth journey
are less likely to 'require' medical intervention
are supported, educated, nurtured, loved, encouraged, massaged and respected
8th October 2008
A new mother often hears this question from well meaning friends, relatives and perhaps even some health professionals.
All too often this question leads the new mother to think that she is failing as a mother as she answers in the negative...."Uh, no my baby is not sleeping through the night"
Perhaps people should instead ask "Is your baby receiving all the milk your baby requires around the clock for healthy growth and development?"
which would allow the new mother to answer with a positive answer and boost her confidence in her ability to care and nurture for her baby..."Yes my baby woke 3 times last night for a milk feed"
A baby under 6 months of age requires milk feeds at night for all their growing needs.
A baby who is fed on demand is more likely to be settled in between feeds.
25h August 2008
Many women in the last few weeks of pregnancy notice that they may experience emotional highs and lows in the lead up to the onset of labor. Some women can find this quite confronting, after all the societal expectation is that we (as the mother-to-be) ought to be radiant and glowing in the anticipation of the birth of our baby, and yes we certainly are but this is also a time of new beginnings and peaking birthing hormones.
Did you know that at around 38 weeks your endorphin levels (those wonderful feel good hormones, our own natural pain relief) reach their highest level in pregnancy (they have been steadily rising in pregnancy). Endorphins make us feel light and wonderful, a little forgetful and also prone to weeping and laughing all in the same breath.
Your endorphin levels are matched by your oxytocin levels, the hormone essential for the muscular contraction of your uterus in labor, also known as the hormone of love as it is released in male and female orgasm. Your oxytocin levels are also climbing throughout pregnancy, reducing stress and encouraging sleep.
I find that some women feel that they need to 'hold themselves together' as they near the end of their pregnancy but I encourage the release of any emotion in preparation for labor and birth. Let yourself be however you feel, go with it, relax and let go and you will find that as you approach the baby's birth that you are much more able to relax and release your breathing, your muscles and encourage optimal birthing for you and your beautiful baby.
Birth is natural, normal and emotional :o).
Give in to the physical and emotional release of being a birthing woman.
8th August 2008
Your estimated due date is just that...estimated. Normal human gestation is noted to be between 37 weeks and 42 weeks. Your estimated due date can be calculated by one of 2 methods. The first is with the dating method which is calculated from the first day of your last menstrual period (assuming that you have a regular cycle variations of cycle length can be taken in account e.g. 28 or 33 day cycles). This is called the Naegele's rule (counting forward 9 months and adding 7 days from the first day of the last menstrual period). The other method is dating with an ultrasound which relies on measurements of your growing baby, such as length of the long bone (femur) of your baby's leg.
Many women find as they approach their estimated due date that some health care providers will start mentioning induction (artificially starting your labor) post dates. The term post dates is loosely applied and for some health care providers they will consider you post dates as early as 5 days past your estimated due date and for others 10 days. You are, however, not post term until 14 days after your estimated due date.
Current research suggests that post term pregnancy (that is past 42 weeks) occurs in 10% of all singleton (one baby) pregnancies. A woman who has previously experienced a post term pregnancy is more likely to experience the same again, and a first time expectant mother (primigravida) is more likely to birth after her estimated due date than before. In fact a large proportion of first time expectant mothers birth within the first 10 days post their estimated due date.
So why am I telling you this? Firstly so that you know that you are not putting yourself or your baby at any risk remaining pregnant past your due date, and therefore should not feel any pressure in a normal and healthy pregnancy to have your labor induced.
The benefits of avoiding the induction police include:
Your baby is birthed when he or she is ready
Your birthing hormones are peaking and will work optimally during your labor and birth
You are more likely to have a positive and empowering birth experience
You are more likely to successfully breastfeed your baby (due to optimal hormone release in natural labor)
Improves bonding with your baby
Reduces medical intervention during your labor and birth
1st August 2008
A woman in labor and birth who is cared for by a known, experienced and trusted birth partner;
(when compared to a woman who does not have birth support)
Is more likely to experience labor and birth as a fulfilling, positive and empowering experience
Is less likely to require medical pain relief such as an epidural
Is more likely to have a reduced overall time in labor and birth
Is less likely to experience medical intervention, such as vaginal examinations, induction, hastening of labor artificially, instrumental delivery, episiotomy, directed pushing, caesarean sections
Is more likely to successfully breastfeed her baby (WHO recommends at least 6months)
Is less likely to suffer (birth) post traumatic disorder and possible onset of postnatal depression
25th July 2008
I have many women ask me why a posterior labor hurts more, and the simple answer is because the uterus has to work harder to rotate the baby to an anterior position leading to an increased workload for the uterus and an increased oxygen need for the muscle (and also your baby).
As a western based society we spend a great deal of our time sitting, whether it is in the car, at work or in the evening, watching television on the couch. The reclining posture of these positions encourages a posterior tilt of the pelvis, and the reclining action causes the baby to adopt a back to your back lie, due to the influence of gravity.
To prevent a persistent posterior position of your baby, the regular practice of yoga and the awareness of posture that this brings, will encourage a forward (or anterior) tilt of your pelvis. Positions that encourage your baby to adopt an anterior position in your pelvis (or back to your front) include:
A posterior labor is generally felt mostly in the lower back, and labors do tend to be longer simply as the baby has to rotate further around before moving into and out of the pelvic cavity. Counter pressure on the sacrum works well to relieve the back ache, as well as certain positions, such as an all 4's or a supported squat. The bath is also wonderful, as it gives you buoyancy and comfort.
All the yoga positions in Yoga for Belly, Birth & Baby work to promote optimal positioning of your baby in your pelvis in late pregnancy and into labor and birth.
18th July 2008
Relaxation is a skill that requires practice. Some women spend the time of pregnancy choosing nursery equipment and reading baby books, but not taking the time to prepare themselves psychologically for labor and birth of their beautiful baby. Research has shown that relaxation reduces a laboring woman’s perception of pain as it works to decrease tension and anxiety, promoting a calm and relaxed woman, therefore reducing the release of adrenaline and promoting the release of endorphins. A relaxed woman breathes more effectively, promoting optimum oxygen levels for the uterus and baby, and reducing muscle tension.
Before you can learn to relax you must first become aware of how you breathe, and this is where many women find the practice of yoga is beneficial as it creates awareness of the breath. Remember we need to breathe to oxygenate the uterus as it works (in labor) and also breathe to oxygenate our baby. If the breath becomes short, shallow and sharp, as it often does when we are feeling anxious or fearful, the baby is deprived of oxygen, resulting in dips in your baby’s heart rate. If this occurs when you are in labor, it will more than likely result in a cascade of intervention to monitor your baby more closely and potentially limit your ability to move around to find positions of comfort, reducing your feelings of control and involvement. The uterus also suffers from a decreased blood supply, and like all muscles, the uterus will suffer as a result of decreased oxygen. The uterus will continue to rhythmically surge and retract, as it is designed to, but will do so in less than optimal conditions…resulting in discomfort as the muscle strives to do its job. Additionally when we don’t breathe efficiently, our ability to make decisions and remain ‘feeling’ in control is somewhat lessened, and for the laboring mother-to-be takes away her confidence in her ability and positive interpretation of the birth experience.
This is taken from my article Relaxation
11th July 2008
I came across this interesting research study....
Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2008 Jun 18:1-5.
The influence of lunar cycle on frequency of birth, birth complications, neonatal outcome and the gender - a retrospective analysis.
Department of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, University Medical School of Hannover, Hannover, Germany.
Objective. The relation of lunar phases to the birth rate has been the focus of considerable research with still controversial results. The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of the lunar cycle on the frequency of birth, on instrumental delivery, neonatal outcome as well as a possible relationship between lunar position at time of conception and the gender of the child. Material and methods. Six thousand seven hundred and twenty five deliveries were retrospectively analyzed from 01 January 2000 to 31 December 2006 at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the University Medical School of Hannover. Inclusion criteria were: spontaneous vaginal births without induction, vacuum and forceps extractions as well as non-elective cesarean sections, all cases without labor induction. Exact lunar phases were determined by means of birthday and birth time by a specific computer software. Results. The analysis revealed no significant correlation of birth rate to lunar phases. There were also no significant differences regarding birth complications, neonatal outcome and gender to the lunar cycle at the time of conception. Conclusion. There is no predictable influence of the lunar cycle on deliveries or delivery complications nor to the gender of the baby. As expected and in agreement with some recent studies this pervasive myth is not evidence based.
4th July 2008
The benefits of infant massage are numerous, and include;
Relaxation for mother and baby
Increased sensory awareness for the baby
Enhanced bonding between mother (and father) and baby
Reduced discomfort associated with colic, reflux and wind
Improved sleep and settling patterns
Read more in my article: Benefits of baby massage
27th June 2008
It is a common misconception that a woman is unable to safely give birth vaginally after a caesarean section.
Women can and do safely experience the joy of vaginal birth after caesarean...or VBAC.
This is a massive topic and more information can be found on the birthrites web site.
To birth your baby vaginally is safer for you and your baby after a previous caesarean section.
The birthing hormones released with a vaginal birth improve mother/baby bonding and increase the success of early breastfeeding attempts.
The squeezing action your baby experiences during their journey through the birth canal reduces the risk of your baby developing respiratory distress following birth.
A VBAC does not need to be a medical birth. You do not need to have continuous electronic fetal monitoring nor do you need to have an intravenous drip in your arm (it takes moments to put one in if really required). You also do not need to have vaginal examinations.
What can you do?
Know you can safely birth your baby out of your vagina.
Inform your care provider that this is your birthing choice.
Surround yourself with a positive and empowering birth team.
Have a birth plan.
Educate yourself and your partner about VBAC.
20th June 2008
Did you know...that your baby (and all babies) are perfectly designed for breastfeeding.
A receding chin and a cute button nose are physical characteristics that allow your baby to attach beautifully to your breast to initiate breastfeeding.
Babies are born wanting to feed at the breast.
Skin to skin contact after birth helps to initiate breastfeeding, and a newborn baby can if left on a mothers abdomen make their way to the mothers breast within 60 minutes of birth. This is known as the breast crawl.
The first breastfeed (and subsequent feeds) releases endorphins into your blood stream which is also passed onto your baby through your breast milk, making you both feel wonderfully relaxed. After the first breastfeed (in which your baby receives 3-5ml of colostrum, the first high fat breast milk) it is normal for your baby to sleep for a period of time before initiating demand led feeding (every 2-3hrs is normal for a newborn).
The nipple stimulation of breastfeeding stimulates oxytocin release which involutes (contracts) your uterus after birth reducing bleeding and facilitating the birth of the placenta after birth.
Continuous skin to skin contact after birth is also the best way to warm your baby.
What can you do?
Write in your birth plan that you wish for your baby to stay on you after birth.
Ensure you husband/birth partner is wearing a simple shirt/jacket so that he may place his baby to his chest for skin to skin contact just in case you are unable to do so.
Indicate in your birth plan that you wish for your baby to breastfeed on demand, and do not wish for any any bottles or formula to be given to your baby.
When you go home seek the professional support of a lactation consultant if you experience any problems.
13th June 2008
No you don't :o). There is no increased risk to you or your baby if you stay in the water to birth (even when you membranes have ruptured).
There is no increased risk of infection.
You are cocooned in the warmth and nurturing embrace of the water. Your relaxation in the water facilitates the optimal working of your birthing body.
Water is an excellent method of natural pain relief in labor and birth.
Birthing in water reduces the risk of perineal damage.
Read my article: Water and its use in labor
6h June 2008
A Doula is a term from taken from the ancient Greeks and historically is defined as slave to (a woman in) labor and birth, but today a Doula is provider of emotional and physical support in pregnancy, labor and birth, and into early motherhood.
29th May 2008
Did you know that the bag of waters (forewaters) that sits in front of your baby's head actually cushions the cervix in labor, reducing the intensity of the sensations of your surges.
The practice of ARM is often used to 'speed' a woman's progress in labor, and it can sometimes reduce the length of your labor, however it almost certainly increases the intensity of sensations (which may be interpreted as pain) associated with your surges, which in turn may increase your need or desire to seek medical pain relief that you had not previously required.
ARM is a medical intervention, and often one medical intervention increases the risk of additional medical interventions in your labor and birth. This is also termed the cascade of intervention.
Any unnecessary medical intervention places both you and your baby at risk in labor and birth.
Did you know that your bag of waters will naturally break at around 7-8cm (of your cervix opening) and that it is considered good luck in some cultures for your baby to be born with the membranes still intact (known as being birthed in the caul).
What you can do...
You can say no to ARM
Be confident in your ability to birth your beautiful baby
23rd May 2008
Continuous electronic fetal monitoring is a routine practice in many birthing centers across Australia.
There is no current evidence to suggest that the use of CEFM in natural labor and birth improves outcomes for mother or baby.
Did you know that the use of CEFM does not improve your or your baby's health in labor and birth, and that your baby's heart rate can be monitored just as (if not more) effectively with a hand held device.
Having CEFM reduces your ability to move freely and adopt positions of comfort in your labor.
A 20 minute admission CEFM does not benefit you or your baby in any way, and is a way of assuming 'control' of your labor and birth by your health care provider(s).
Having CEFM dramatically increases your risk of multiple medical interventions during labor and birth.
CEFM means your health care provider is watching the machine and not you.
When you have CEFM your health care provider listens to the machine and not you.
You cannot get into the bath or shower with CEFM.
You cannot get off the bed when you have CEFM.
With CEFM you will also feel more discomfort with your surges (contractions) due to the inability to move to find positions of comfort or have your back rubbed, and as your stress hormones increase as a direct result of this environment your endorphins decrease and your baby will respond to your distress and may show a 'negative' heart rate.
What you can do...
You can say no to continuous electronic fetal monitoring
Be confident in your ability to birth your beautiful baby
Write in your birth plan that you do not want CEFM
16th May 2008
In many hospital based birthing units a woman has her progress 'monitored' with regular vaginal examinations
(read my article on why you don't need a vaginal examination in labor) and once fully dilated, or 10cms open, a woman may be instructed to push. This is termed directed pushing. Directed pushing means you are giving your birthing over to your care provider and not listening to your body.
Directed pushing “take a breath and hold it and push for 1, 2, 3” until the baby is birthed. This method of instructed and disempowering pushing decreases oxygen to your baby and can also damage your bladder, pelvic floor and perineal muscles.
Directed pushing increases medical intervention at birth (such as forceps and vacuum) as the mother tires and her baby's heart rate drops.
As you move into second stage of your labor, the birthing of your baby, it is not unusual for your uterus to rest, giving both you and your beautiful baby a break from the strong surges of labor. This rest gives you as the birthing woman an opportunity to close your eyes, rest and perhaps change position. This time also gives your beautiful baby an opportunity to restore their blood oxygen levels for the work of birth.
As the surges start again your baby's head moves into the vagina and the pressure from your baby's head results in the beginning of the feeling of fullness (or the urge to empty your bowel) that increases with every surge and results in the overwhelming urge to push. There is no 'how to push' just go with what your body and baby are doing.
In a relaxed and uninhibited birthing woman this urge to push may not be felt, but rather an 'opening' sensation of the vagina and relaxation of the pelvic floor as the baby's head moves down. This is termed the Maternal Fetal Ejection Reflex (Dr Michel Odent) and describes the peaking of birthing hormones, causing efficient and powerful uterine contractions, and the birth of your baby. This is how I experienced birth with Jay (read Jay's birth story)
What you can do...
You can say no to vaginal exams to asses your progress in labor.
You can say no to urges or instructions on how to push, you are the one having the baby!
Relax in between surges to facilitate optimum birthing hormones
Rest in the time between the opening of your cervix and the urge to birth your baby.
Breathe to oxygenate your baby and your uterus.
Be confident in your ability to birth your beautiful baby.
9th May 2008
In many birthing units (Australia) the accepted rate of opening or your cervix (or dilation) is 1cm per hour. This gives women 10hours in which to labor, and often requires regular (2-4hourly) vaginal examinations to asses progress and ensure the cervix is opening at a rate of 1cm per hour.
However, the 2 stages of labor, latent and active labor phases, sees the cervix open at varying rates according to birthing hormones, the position of the baby in the pelvis, the position the laboring woman adopts and the natural pattern of every individual woman's birthing body.
For the first time laboring woman, the cervix softens before it opens, and this latent phase of labor can occur over a few days or weeks. Once the cervix opens to 4cm the active phase of labor commences, and for the first time laboring woman the opening of the cervix can occur as gradually as 0.5cm per hour.
A woman experiencing labor for the 2nd (or 3rd, 4th...) time will experience the softening and opening of her cervix at the same time, which can result in a shorter labor.
The birthing body does not commonly correlate to the standard labor measurements written in books.
A relaxed woman will facilitate optimal release of the hormones oxytocin and endorphins, encouraging effective surges (contractions) and the gradual opening of her cervix in the response to her body's natural birthing rhythm and at a pace that nurtures the health of her beautiful baby.
What you can do...
You can say no to vaginal exams to asses your progress in labor.
You can go home in early labor.
Rest in the early phase of labor.
Adopt upright positions in the active phase of labor.
Breathe to oxygenate your baby and your uterus.
5th May 2008
Happy International Midwives Day
Many women feel pressured to have their labor induced at term (anywhere from 37-42 weeks) when they experience spontaneous rupture of their membranes (waters breaking) without the immediate onset of uterine contractions, fearing increased infection for their baby.
Research indicates that women who experience SROM when expectantly managed (the 'lets just wait and see' approach), 60% will go into labor within 24hrs and 85% will go into labor within 48hrs, with no increased infection rates for mother or baby.
Expectant management of women who experience SROM at term will significantly reduce the incidence of medical intervention and cesarean section without placing the mother or infant at a higher risk of infection.
What you can do...
You can go home if your waters are clear or slightly pink stained.
You can go home if your baby has a good heart rate, with no signs of distress.
You are more likely to go into labor in a familiar and comforting environment...you can go home.
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