Birth

Unpopular Opinion: Parents Need To Shut The Hell Up

Please, keep your opinions to yourself. 

Why We Need To Dispel The Myth Of Late-Term Abortions

Contrary to popular opinion, women don’t use abortions as a form of last-minute birth control.

October 24, 2016

I Ate My Placenta To Prevent Postpartum Depression

I didn’t give my placenta another thought until it splashed loudly in my toilet.

May 25, 2016

Why I Drank While I Was Pregnant

Cheers to having agency over your own damn body.

May 20, 2016

Here’s What Happened When I Tried A Fitbit For My Lady Bits

I never thought I would be self-competitive with my vagina muscles, but it happened.

March 18, 2016

How I Learned Birth Plans Were A Waste Of Time

There’s no such thing as a birth plan that goes according to plan.

October 25, 2015

The Truth About Breastfeeding

There are things that happen during pregnancy that we love to talk about, like how you have a mother’s nurturing glow, how the baby is kicking, and how perfectly round your belly is getting. On the negative end, we also love to vent to our friends about the heaviness, the swollen ankles and those surprising bouts of morning sickness that happen in less than ideal situations.

RELATED: Top Tips For Your Pregnancy Workout

After the pregnancy is over and the beautiful bubba is born, the conversation switches to how the baby is sleeping, debates over breastfeeding versus bottle feeding, and quick snaps at anyone who asks you how your weight loss is going post-pregnancy. One thing that isn’t talked about a lot is what actually happens to the body after birth, especially sensitive areas like the breasts.

A recent post on Vogue about what happens to breasts after pregnancy and breastfeeding had me thinking about this even more. I’ve always joked to my partner that after we’ve finished having kids, he’ll have to buy me a breast lift to make up for the soccer team he wants, but for a growing number of women out there, getting a breast lift is no joke; it’s a way to feel like yourself again after giving your body to your children.

While stretch marks are newly taking some focus after birth, it’s still not a popular conversation to have about what happens to a woman’s most intimate places on her body; namely her breasts and vagina. Vaginal rejuvenation has become a popular topic, especially in Hollywood, but it seems that we are still hiding what our breasts are like after birth.

Every woman and her body are completely different, and our bodies react differently to child birth and breastfeeding, but for those who happen to sag significantly, it can affect self esteem and happiness. If you’re thinking that it’s shallow to want a breast lift after pregnancy, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But we should all have the right to feel great about ourselves, even if it means having a little help to get your breasts back to what makes you feel fantastic.

Women are slowly getting there in terms of what is socially accepted to speak about, but I think that what happens to a woman’s body after she nurtures a life is very important. This shouldn’t be a deterrent from breastfeeding; quite the opposite. Women should be empowered to feel great after having given birth to new life. They shouldn’t feel ashamed for not feeling happy with their bodies and shouldn’t feel guilty about wanting a little extra to feel great again.

It’s a new era, a new time; women can talk about these things. And we should be talking about these things and letting each other know that we are all beautiful and we all have the right to define beauty the way we want to, without judgement or critique. Let’s start being open about what giving birth is actually like and start being more open about the way women feel, and are allowed to feel.

Image via welladjusted.co

September 20, 2015

Good Health In Birthing And Beyond

During pregnancy, your body undergoes tremendous change to accommodate the growing fetus. Apart from the obvious physical changes like expansion of the abdominal region, hormonal releases can affect the function of your body’s internal systems. As your pregnancy progresses, the extra weight creates a shift in your body’s centre of gravity. Your supporting ligaments also soften. These factors can add stress to your body, causing problems like back pain, sciatica, insomnia, shortness of breath, swelling, high blood pressure and fatigue.

RELATED: Preparing Your Body For Pregnancy

One of the possible options for dealing with those issues would be osteopathy. It is a safe form of manual healthcare that treats the whole person. Osteopathy is proven to be a safe, gentle and effective therapy for mothers and babies. Osteopaths carefully select the most appropriate treatment techniques to maximise the safety and comfort of you and your growing baby. They can offer advice about managing these symptoms and demonstrate self-help techniques which you and your partner can use during pregnancy and labour. Their aim is to assist the natural process of pregnancy and birth – maximising your body’s ability to change and support you and your baby with a minimum of pain and discomfort.

A range of problems may interfere with the normal musculoskeletal development of a child. Trauma during the birth process, childhood accidents and falls can create or contribute to problems associated with bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons and nerves. Other issues faced by children include posture problems, inflammatory conditions and sporting injuries. In all these cases an osteopath can help. In birth, the descent of the baby through the pelvis is influenced by a range of factors. If the mother’s pelvis is twisted or stiff, it can interfere with the baby’s passage through the birth canal. Osteopathic care may restore and maintain normal pelvic alignment and mobility, helping to reduce musculoskeletal stresses during birth. After the birth, your osteopath may advise you to make return visits with your newborn to help prevent or manage problems like pelvic and low back strain, pelvic floor weakness, mastitis, incontinence, interrupted sleep and fatigue. An osteopath can make referrals to other health professionals if needed. This will help you meet your baby’s needs, whilst caring for your own.

Your osteopath can also assist in the management of feeding and digestion issues including reflux, constipation, difficulty feeding, unsettled or poor sleeping. Clinical research that included the osteopathic module found that the treatment might reduce the hours of crying per day and improve sleeping time in babies who have been described as having ‘colic’.

Osteopathic care is a safe, gentle and effective hands on healthcare approach. It can assist the young body to adapt to growth-related changes which can prevent other health problems. It can help your baby grow into a healthy child and, ultimately, a healthy young adult.

December 9, 2014

Water Birth: Pros And Cons

I was mildly curious about water birth, but I didn’t think it was the right option for me until I got a midwife, who was a big water birth advocate. She kept on asking me about it until I finally added it to my birth plan, with the provision that I could change my mind when the time came, if I really didn’t feel like getting into that pool.

As it turned out, I didn’t change my mind. In fact, I couldn’t wait to get in. Before that I was trying to control the pain with hot water packs and the pain kept on escaping me. When I put the hot water pack on my belly, the pain would move to the back. When I held one to my back, the pain would travel to the sides. Once in the water, there was warmth all around me and it brought instant relief.

Why choose water birth?

  • The warm water is very effective pain relief.
  • Peaceful birth. The warm water environment feels more like the uterus to the baby and is said to contribute to a less stressful transition. I can’t confirm if this was true or not for my baby, because the first moments after the birth remain very hazy. There didn’t seem to be excessive crying or I would remember, but then I didn’t experience excessive crying with any of my non-water babies, either.
  • More privacy. While you’re not very like to care how many people see you naked while you’re giving birth, it’s still nice to have your private parts covered.
  • It was my midwife’s belief that the warm water makes the skin of the perineum softer and helps it stretch. I haven’t been able to find scientific evidence that this is exactly what happens, but there’s research showing that women are less likely to experience tearing during water births. That was my experience, too. I didn’t feel the stretching sensation as strongly in the water and my water birth was the only one out of three when I didn’t need any stitching.
  • There’s preparation involved. It takes time to fill up the water and if your labour is quick, you may not even make it into the birth pool. On the other hand, if your labour is long, the water may get cold and would need to be refilled.
  • Possibility of infection. You may accidentally open your bowels while giving birth and even though your midwife will clean up quickly, you’d worry that your baby is being born into the same water. On the other hand, non-water birth is not sterile either and most studies have found no increased infection rates for water births.
  • Safety concerns about the baby being under the water. During the birth of my daughter the midwife explained to me that the baby doesn’t start breathing until contact with air, so I had to keep her under the water until the body was born. But if I accidentally brought her out, I had to be extra careful not to put her back into the water again. It all seemed logical at the time she explained to me, but everything got foggy in my brain in the middle of labour, so I was grateful to have people around me who knew what they were doing to direct me and make sure my baby was safe.
  • You will have to leave the pool if there are any complications and the transition may be unsettling.

Sounds great, but are there any cons?

Overall, my water birth experience felt very gentle and empowering, and I’d chose it again.

Image by PublicDomainPictures via pixabay.com

By Tatiana Apostolova

September 3, 2014

Do You Really Need A Birth Plan?

The word ‘plan’ usually freaks me out. Surely I didn’t escape the corporate world to have a baby just to be told that I need to write a birth plan! And how exactly was I supposed to write it when I’d never given birth before and I had no idea what to expect? Yet, after three births I can see that a birth plan has its place and is not just an attempt to control what you can’t control.

Your support people know how to support you

Sometimes when we’re overcome with pain, we don’t make the best decisions in the moment. With a plan our support people can try to steer us in the direction we’d rather be going, but are too scared to.

After reading a few stories about epidurals gone wrong, I had developed almost irrational fear of epidurals and I wanted to avoid it during labour at all cost. Yet, in the middle of it, I found myself screaming for epidural and I was very persistent. If my partner and the midwives hadn’t known how strongly I felt about it, they would have given in. As it was, they kept on offering alternatives and I got through it. The birth left me feeling elated for weeks. I’m not sure I’d have felt the same way if I had had the epidural.

The plan helps deal with your fears

If you have any fears concerning the birth of your baby (who doesn’t?), the birth plan can help you address those fears, so that you can be prepared. Most likely what you fear will never happen, but having a strategy in pace to manage it gives you a peace of mind.

The birth of my second child was very quick and they say every subsequent labour gets even shorter. So before I was due to give birth for the third time I was afraid that I won’t make it to the birth centre and I’d have to give birth alone at home. What if it happened during the day when my husband was at work? What if the baby came out with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck and I wouldn’t be able to undo it on my own?

I talked to my midwife about my concerns and I half expected her to laugh them off. Instead, she walked me through a process of giving birth at home on my own and encouraged me to have a list of people to call at a short notice who’d be available during the day. I wrote everything in my plan and even though I didn’t end up needing it, it made me feel a whole lot better.

Allow for flexibility

While the birth plan has been helpful for me, I know women who felt disappointed with their birth experience because it didn’t go to plan. It’s important to use your birth plan as a tool and not a standard to measure yourself against. The birth of your child may end up being completely different from what you imagined. Allow yourself the flexibility to change your plan and do what needs to be done. The birth of a baby is a miracle, no matter what. Let it feel like a miracle.

Image by PublicDomainPictures via Pixabay.com

By Tatiana Apostolova

August 12, 2014

How To Explain Childbirth To Young Children

‘How will the baby come out?’ As your child is excitedly awaiting the arrival of a new sibling, this question will likely come up sooner or later. When it happened to me, I asked a few other mums for suggestions. Some had chosen to answer that they’d go to the hospital where the doctor would take the baby out. This answer didn’t sit well with me. It wasn’t true (there’d be no doctor at the birth provided that everything went well) plus I wanted to promote birth as a natural process. Granted, none of my kids would be having babies any time soon, but you’d never know what would stay in their little minds.  So I volunteered a minimalistic, but honest answer.

“Through the birth canal, which is here.” My son looked at me sizing up my belly, then the space between my hips. “No way. It’s not big enough.” Tell me about it. Labour is not called ‘labour’ for nothing. As it turned out, a minimalistic answer wasn’t going to cut it. My kids simply didn’t believe me. In search of better explanation, here are some points that I found helpful and maybe, you will, too.

It’s ok to be honest about anatomy

The discomfort you and I may be feeling about discussing our bodies, especially genitals, comes from our upbringing. As far as kids are concerned, the genitals are just body parts, same as their knees or bellies. A matter-of-fact attitude makes the birth conversation a lot easier. It also helps when kids know the correct anatomical terms; then you won’t struggle to find the right words.

Pictures can be easier to understand than words

There are wonderful books with stories and illustrations to help young children understand birth and how to welcome their new sibling. Some books I recommend are ‘My new baby’ by Rachel Fuller and ‘Welcome with Love’ by Jenni Overend. I also found it helpful show my kids some educational videos with illustrated images. They couldn’t understand the explanations, but the pictures made it very clear what was happening during the birth process. It’s good to have a look at the books and the videos before you show them to your kids, both to determine if they are appropriate and to prepare your commentary when your kids start asking questions.

Others have done it before you

Children a curious and ‘How will the baby come out?’ is a common question. Ask other parents for suggestions and you’re bound to find something that will work for you, too.

While birth is an interesting topic in itself, this conversation presents the perfect opportunity to prepare your child for life with the new baby. The birth will come and go, and it’s just the beginning of a beautiful sibling relationship.

Image by Nina Matthews via Flickr.

By Tatiana Apostolova

June 26, 2014

Pregnancy Etiquette 101: Be Kind To Bumps

Pregnancy is a very exciting but tumultuous time – the last thing you need is people being insensitive and rude when it comes to your ever-changing body shape. You’re already dealing with raging hormones, extreme tiredness and strange, new bodily afflictions which can change daily. Yet a funny thing happens when a woman falls pregnant – suddenly, your body becomes public property.

Strangers, co–workers and family members rapidly develop foot-in-mouth disease, offering constant, unsolicited comments ranging from everything from how you’re carrying, to your bump size and how tired/happy/glowing you look (or don’t look, shock horror). Personally, I think the kindest thing you can ever say to a pregnant woman is: “How are you feeling?” And then listen, really listen, even if she lurches into a mad rant about horrific pregnancy complications which make your toenails curl.

When I was pregnant with my first baby, a very senior male manager with whom I worked at a media giant took one look at my blossoming form, having not seen me for months, then remarked with distaste: “Oh! I didn’t think you’d be that big?!”

“I’m terribly sorry to inconvenience you with my growing baby bump, you stupid, sexist male oaf?!” I shot back.
Just kidding. Instead, I was so embarrassed and bewildered; I wanted the floor to swallow me up. Then, with my second pregnancy, there was the elderly male neighbour who’d bellow at me: “Are you sure you’re not having twins?!” every single time I waddled past his house to get to the local shops.

I did give birth to two ten-pounders respectively, but that’s beside the point. When is it ever OK to make loud, public and very personal comments to a woman about her appearance, especially when she’s undoubtedly hormonal, emotional and hypersensitive? And, then there was the other neighbour who repeatedly commented on the largeness of my baby bump. Now, I may not have had the most petite of bumps, both pregnancies, but I hardly compared to say, “Octomom”.

And are women so insanely competitive, we need to measure up our bumps against the size of someone else’s?
Needless to say, I was thrilled when we moved to a new neighbourhood! I say it’s high time we start being a lot kinder to pregnant women. We should offer them kind words of praise and encouragement – if indeed they seek our opinions at all. Whenever I see a pregnant woman, I try to offer a kindly smile and nod of understanding and empathy. Pregnancy can be the most glorious, sexy, wonderful state, but also one often plagued by anxiety, fear and discomfort – we should all do our extra bit to ensure our pregnant sisters feel wonderful.

Dos:

  • Compliment a pregnant friend, family member or colleague at every opportunity. Never tell her she looks tired.
  • Ask her how she feels and offer to help her, where possible. Be positive about her pregnancy – comments like “You won’t know what hit you!” or “You think you’re tired now?!” are mean and unhelpful.
  • Offer her gifts of rare gems (just kidding) – food parcels are a lovely way to aid her long days on her feet.

Don’ts:

  • Never comment on the size of her bump, whether small or large. Both are equally offensive.
  • No tummy touching, unless you have her permission first. Even then, I’d tread with caution. Hormones are a killer, she might (and rightfully so) throw a punch.
  • Resist the temptation to regale her with your birth horror stories. This will only add to her anxiety levels, so keep it to yourself, sister.

By Nicole Carrington-Sima

June 5, 2014