Featured post

Questions- Answered!

What is a Doula? A Doula provides emotional and physical support to mothers and families during their pregnancy and birth journey. A Dou...

Thursday, 24 November 2016

WHY DOES MY BABY HATE THE CAR?

WHY DOES THE BABY HATE THE CAR????!! AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT. 

No parenting class can prepare you for this moment. You are in the backseat of a car next to your baby, who is screaming himself blue in the carseat while you are travelling at 110km/h on the freeway.

It's one of those truely magical parenting moments that forgets to get a mention.

What does get a mention is how much babies LOVE the car. Puts them right to sleep. You'll drive around for hours.



Deceptively calm car baby.

Not necessarily.

So why do some babies hate the car and what can be done to help them, you and the general population on the road?

Let's have a look at some possible reasons for 'Screaming Car Baby'.

1. Car Sick


What is it?

This would suck wouldn't it. You've just been born mum keeps putting you in the seat that makes you want to hurl. Sometimes you do. Mainly you scream.


What to do about it?

- When the baby is old enough,  forward facing can help.

- In the mean time try and restrict car trips to nap time to avoid staring out at the constantly moving scenery.

- Keep the car cool.

- Try to avoid bumpy or winding roads.

- Avoid stop/start peak hour traffic as much as possible.

- Have a break or escape plan set up. Know the parks and cafes along the drive if you need to hop and and have a break until baby is tired or calm.

- Do not stop on the side of the freeway or motorway if you can avoid doing so. It is dangerous, attempt to exit the road first.

- Install an Antistatic car strap (click for picture)


- Use other modes of transport. Trains and buses seem scary and difficult to navigate. But you have grown and birthed life. You've got this. 


Freshly washed car seat cover. Luckily they aren't too tricky.

2. Bored


What is it?

This bubba wants stimulation and there isn't much happening facing the back of the car. 

What to do about it?

- Toys on rotation. And more toys. It's great if they make noises or have buttons/ sound effects. 

- A mirror to see mum.

- Some fantastic mind-numbing music. Try Disney's Frozen album (NB: do not let the steering wheel go).


3. Lonely


What is it?

This little one just wants a hug. 

What to do about it. 

- Mirror mirror on the carseat - adjusted so that baby can see your beautiful face. The mirror comforts the baby that you are there. It is also reassuring for you to be able to see your baby.

- Constant singing of a favourite nursery rhyme. Try the wiggles or anything from play school. Keep it up for duration of trip. 40mins of singing vs 40 mins of crying. It's not pretty, but I know which one I'd pick. 


4. Reflux/ Gassy


What is it?

If this is your baby... you probably know all about it. Fussing and crying is their game, with or without a carseat. These bubs are most comforted by being held upright, so a carseat is basically the opposite of what makes them feel better.

What to do about it?

- Wait. As the baby grows and the digestive system matures the symptoms should reduce.

- If you think your baby has undiagnosed reflux, it might be a good idea to check in with your GP.

- Avoid the car when you can. This baby does best in an upright baby carrier or sling, which coincidentally makes public transport a more achievable option.

5. Hot and Bothered


What is it?

Have you ever gone to get your baby out of the car and realised that they are really sweaty? Babies are still learning to regulate their body temperature, and since there is less surface area on them than an adult they can get really hot (and really cold) very quickly.

This can quickly become a problem as the weather heats up. Especially if your baby is screaming and using lots of energy.

What to do about it?

- If you have a capsule a refacing car seat may have better airflow.

- Buy a clip on fan like this (click here).

- Keep the a/c on the down low on hot days- it probably needs to be a degree or two colder than is comfortable in the from to reach the back at a decent temp.

Bonus hint: point air con towards roof so that you don't freeze but air reaches the back seat.

- Try to park in shady places.

- Place a reflective cover over the car seat while you are parked so that it stays as cool as possible.

- Check in with your baby frequently. If you are worried, stop the car in a safe place and check the baby.


6. Uncomfortable


What is it?

Pretty self-explanatory. Some carseats you can just look at and see that they will not be comfortable. Others look comfortable, however as the baby 'uncurls' from newborn to baby the ergonomics of comfort change. 


What to do about it?

- Try a rear facing car seat instead of a capsule.

- Consider getting baby checked by an osteopath or chiropractor in case there are alignment issues causing discomfort.



7. All of the above


What to do about it?

- Abandon your car for at least 6 months.... Save the planet and your sanity. 







Thank you for reading!!! And safe travels. 


Please feel free to leave comments below. 





xxxxx









Thursday, 20 October 2016

DOULAS ARE NOT MIDWIVES IN EMBRYO

THE ROLE OF A DOULA IN A HEALTH PROMOTION CONTEXT




Last week Christa presented a beautiful poster about the role of a doula to a crowd of around 500 birth professionals, most of whom were midwives. Like a boss. 

Christa Buckland: Doula Extraordinaire

Why did she choose to present to this audience?

Doulas know how important their role is. Their clients know how important the Doula is. Yet somehow, many midwives and doctors have become cautious in recommending or even accepting doulas into their practise.

"I wanted to help midwives and medical care providers understand that our role as Doulas is not treading on their toes and that we really do make a difference with the support we provide. Additionally, we are peers with the women we serve so we are not a threat to care providers in any way."- Christa Buckland

What's the deal with that? 
Christa speculates that some of the problems arise from confusion over what a doula actually does and whether or not it's helpful. I would go further to suggest that often the focus of a doula's role is shifted onto what they do not do, rather than the amazing things they do.

Doulas viewed in a Health Promotion context. 
She describes doulas as a grassroots health promotion strategy born from community need. The women who have chosen to become doulas have seen the need, created and filled the role to serve pregnant women.

"In a health promotion context, this comes under the banner of "community action and participation" so in this sense we are utilising a very effective strategy to improve health outcomes for women, babies and families."  -Christa Buckland

See that tail coming out of the sperm??? I know you do.
That's the doulas!!


Doulas as Community Action:


"This closely resembles a peer support or community-based model (HealthConnect One, 2014). This perspective may help to diffuse the tension between care providers and doulas, as it views doulas as part of the community, rather than part of the 'medical team'."  - Christa Buckland

See that lady wearing a cape there? ^ She's a Doula!
She is an allied health professional and community member. 


Alrightio, so how can a doula help?

With fractionated and unpersonalised maternity systems often the doula provides the only continuity of care received by childbearing women.

Which leads to the amazing conclusion that...
Doulas are amaaaazing!!

"Doulas are not 'intruders' in the birth room. Rather, they represent an excellent example of community action and empowerment." - Christa Buckland


Christa is a passionate doula, childbirth educator and health promotion graduate. She has a Bachelor of Health Science (Health Promotion) from Western Sydney University and is now embarking on postgraduate research studies. Christa is the President and Co-Founder of Doula Network Australia Inc 

Find out more: www.naturalbirthconnection.com



Brochure accompanying poster presentation:





Wednesday, 19 October 2016

DAY 3- OF THE 11TH INTERNATIONAL NORMAL BIRTH AND LABOUR CONFERENCE 2016

Normal Labour and Birth Conference 2016


This final day of the conference was filled with joy and sadness. Pretty much in that order as it started with keynote addresses on oxytocin and moved onto the deeper and darker side of maternity, coming to a head with Bashi Hazard's speech about human rights in childbirth. Keep reading to find out how that all went down!

Professor Kerstin Uvnas Moberg- 'The Oxytocin Factor'


This Professor knows oxytocin. And she wasn't shying away from putting it aaaall out there, good and bad. 

I'll start with a quote from her which brings everything she said in wonderful detail into a single point. 

"Normality in birth is usually best because everything was thought of when these systems were created." - Professor Kerstin Uvnas Moberg



Professor Kerstin Uvnas Moberg keeping it real.

So then what does she have to say? Here are the main points (I tried to condense for you)

1. Oxytocin is more than a hormone, it is a complex system. 

It has the same effect on all mammals, you can even give it to sandworms and they will lay eggs... the relevance of this information evaded me, but I thoroughly enjoyed it none-the-less and hope you do too. 

2. It's a long point but good- it was new to me and may be to you too so hang in there. I believe in you. 

There are two nerves that interact with the uterus (the new exciting thing is the nerves- hopefully the italics helped you with that). One is tapped into fight-or-flight system, the other waves the flag for rest-and-digest. (In labour, women have faster labours with less pain when they are channelling the rest and digest system). Synthetic oxytocin basically switches of the rest-and-digest nerve, and leaves the ugly cousin fight-or-flight nerve in control of the uterus. This gets messy because it means a reduced blood flow to the uterus and placenta- which is bad. It also causes unnaturally long contractions which the Professor speculates may then impact the baby because of the physical force- also bad. 

3. Epidurals may also impact these nerves, as the anaesthetic is given very close to where they are. Also the probability of needing synthetic oxytocin increases with an epidural. She really makes her point by adding that women describe epidurals as having reduced pain, however, do not describe their births as being more pleasant than physiological birth. 

I told you she wasn't shying away from telling it how it is. She uses the research she undertaken to illustrate her points. I think some of those points got a little bit pointy for some of the audience, but 'truth will out' right? She then goes on to describe unnecessary intervention as:

"Cutting off the roots of a positive, self supportive system" - Professor Kerstin Uvnas Moberg.

She said a lot more but that was the final cut. 


I probably needed a brain break at that point but onwards and upwards we went to Professor Maralyn Fourer's 'How birth space can influence normal birth". 


This talk was interesting, and began with the speculation that moving women from birthing at home to in the hospital was one on the most "amazing uncontrolled experiments ever". She then went on to examine how neuroscience is connected to architecture. Who would have thought.  

Professor Maralyn Fourer- setting the scene before talking about setting the scene. 

Quick facts:

1. Worldwide all hospital birth rooms have the same four features: Bed, Monitors, Neonatal Rhesus Bed and Bright lights. Pretty sexy. The bed is the biggest and most central feature of the room. 

2. Optimal birth space influences the brain to produce optimal oxytocin levels, increasing the probability of normal birth. This is because the fear of something going wrong increases adrenaline, decreases oxytocin and therefore it makes the chances of something actually going wrong much higher. 


3. There are some really cool birth rooms- my favourite was one with a projection of nature scenes onto the wall. Just showing this on the screen for 10 seconds was calming as a member of the audience, I can only imagine how effective it would be in a birth space. Excitedly (but under her breath) the midwife next to me commented that there are lots of white walls in hospitals. 

Dr Rachel Reed from Midwife Thinking is a passionate advocator for women in the arena of traumatic childbirth. She presented 'Traumatic childbirth: Women's descriptions of care provider actions and interactions'. 



I already loved her blog. Now I love her. #notweirdiswear


So what did she have to say?

1. Care providers are prioritising their own agenda over the birthing women they are serving. 

2. Rachel ran a survey, and of all birth trauma described by women 2/3 described care provider interactions as the traumatising event of birth (1/3 described physical trauma).

3. Women are left feeling violated, disregarded, coerced, judged, lied to, many reported screaming 'no' to their care provider, some said they felt as though they "were treated like a piece of meat". It's so so bad. 

4. Institutions are risk averse, with many unnecessary procedures being forced on women in the name of risk. However, in Australia, the leading cause of maternal death is suicide. That's a risk. 

5. Rachel noted that there are mandated workshops for healthcare workers in many areas, such as personal protective equipment and she suggests that mandated workshops on promoting wellbeing may be part of a solution to this insidious issue. 

It wasn't a feel good presentation. It was a get off your butt and do something presentation. If you have unresolved feelings about your birth please seek help. Birth Talk is a foundation dedicated to helping women with birth trauma, or you may benefit from professional birth debriefing, visiting a counsellor or psychologist. You are not alone.

Then, as though they knew we needed a big dose of cuteness, these lovely geese and their little goslings decided to give us a show. 


Our new friends sensed the oxytocin in the air!

Bashi Hazard 'Human Rights in Childbirth' - The last session of the conference did not disappoint. 



What an amazing woman. Here are some highlights from her talk:


1. Midwives have been persecuted in the past and continue to be in their current work, particularly home birth midwives, for example Agnes Gereb. 

2. We are fostering a system where women are being forced to choose between their mental health and their physical health. 

3. In countries such as India and South America, governments are getting rid of traditional midwives (often the only accessible form of maternity care in rural areas) and pushing women into institutions where they are abused and disrespected. This is called obstetric violence and is pervasive. 


Slide displayed by Bashi Hazard during presentation. Bam. 


I could say so much more I had such an amazing time!! Feel free to ask any questions. 


THANKS FOR READING! 

Comment below <3 




Wednesday, 12 October 2016

DAY 2- OF THE 11TH INTERNATIONAL NORMAL BIRTH AND LABOUR CONFERENCE 2016

NORMAL BIRTH AND LABOUR CONFERENCE 2016



The second day of the conference was just as engaging as the first. I'll start from the very beginning because I hear it's a very good place to start.

Keynote Address by Professor Sally Tracy and Professor Alec Welsh

Holy schamoley- these two trailblazers basically introduced a whole new model of care in their Tertiary Hospital's maternity unit. Just casually of course. 

They used a woman-centered midwifery group practice model for both 'high' and 'low' risk women. The Obstetricians, Registrars (fresh doctors) and midwives had meetings weekly to ensure quality care.  This model exemplified continuity of care, which is essential for good outcomes. You go guys. 

Bonus quote: "Let's do what we can together to keep birth normal" - Alec Welsh

Yessir.


Professor Alec Welsh and Professor Sally Tracy 

And then Dr Andrew Bisits wooed the audience with his presentation on 'Can breech birth normal?'... hot tip. The answer is yes. 

He basically addressed 500 women who either were already in love with him, or are now. 


Fun facts from his talk: 

1. Birth workers can use every breech birth as an opportunity to learn about and therefore normalise breech birth. His groovy example was that even during a cesarean he lifts the baby from the womb in such a way as to show his Registrars how a breech would naturally arrive. 

2. He suggested that women were just as, if not more interested in how the baby manoeuvres during a breech birth than the statistics surrounding the decision making process. 

This is where it gets really good. 

A lovely Keynote speaker in the Audience, Bashi Hazard (who we hear from tomorrow... exciting!) asked Dr Bisits to explain to her, as though she were the mother, how the breech baby was born. 

He may as well have sung us all a breech lullaby. 

By the time he finished everyone was deadly quiet, as they had been hanging onto his every word. 

In the spirit of education I'll attempt to replicate what he said below... if you want the real deal I highly recommend seeing him at any future conferences/ chances you get. 


The Baby Women Whisperer


How does a breech baby come out? A Dr Bisits Breech Lullaby: abridged version. 

Everything moves down as a unit
Baby's bottom presses on the cervix, replicating the head
Cervix dilates at the same rate as head first
Once the Cervix is fully dilated and baby reaches mothers pelvic floor
One of the baby's hips move into the mother's pelvis
Mother gets a strong urge to push that hip under pubis bone
Then the baby comes down hip first, two steps forward one step back 
Get to point where it's two steps forward no steps back
That is bottom almost out
Which is good because babies' hips are same width as their head, you know baby won't get stuck if their head is tucked in
Once bottom is out, baby turns
-At this point bottom, body and arms are out
Then the woman feels a strong urge to push- even through contractions
This pushing is encouraged as this last stage should only last 3-4 minutes. 
Baby's head comes out 
Voila 
Baby is born. 


Dr Bisits went on to describe breech birth competence as a "fundamental and nonnegotiable item for midwives and obstetricians".  

It was all too much! We cheered. Then got tea. 

Rhea Dempsey wrote the book on pain dynamics in birth. I know, because I bought it today. 



Just hanging out with Rhea Dempsey. Everything is normal. 


Rhea's session on Pain Dynamics and Physiological birth had so many layers and so much truth to it. Like a truth cake... or truth haircut. Anyway- here are the quick highlights of what I took away: 

1. There are many different mindsets of women regarding their perception of pain during labour. At one end of the spectrum are women who do not want to experience it at all (orders the epidural before labour),  at the other are women who are keen to embrace the pain and arrange their birth environment and support people around that preference (home birth, birth centre). The majority of women are in between these two options. 

2. There are primarily two mindsets of labour ward midwives. They are either a working with pain midwife or a medicate pain midwife. This creates a problem for the majority of birthing women in the middle, as they don't know which midwife they will get. This can be seen in the woman who, during labour, decided that she really wanted an epidural but the midwife talked her out of it and as a result she was devastated; and the woman who had an epidural but didn't really want it, but had asked for it and then felt guilty about her decision. 

It's basically a communication breakdown which is leading to neither party knowing the mindset of the other, creating a difficult scenario when women reach their "crisis of confidence" points in their labour- wherever that may be. 


Here she is again. Because two pictures is better than one


The final keynote address of the day didn't leave a dry eye in the house. Or in my row of seats at least. Professor Sue Kildea and Leona McGrath's combined presentation addressed 'Birthing on Country, from Policy to Practice' and an 'Aboriginal Midwives perspective'. They also introduced us to Ranae Coleman, an Indigenous student midwife. 


L-R: Renae Coleman, Professor Sue Kildea, Leona McGrath.
A quick overview: 

1. They opened with a series of sobering statistics about maternal and infant mortality and morbidity for Indigenous compared to non-Indigenous Australians. Basically every statistic that I would hope would be the same, was twice as high, if not higher. 

2. They implored that culturally safe care is vital. 

3. Ranae Spoke about her journey to becoming an Indigenous student midwife, the difficulties she encountered and overcame along the way. **insert tears**

4. The importance of developing culturally safe stand alone birth centres in rural Indigenous communities was raised with the aim of improving cost effectiveness, health outcomes and provide spiritually safe care. However, at this point in time this seems like a pipe dream, as funding has not been granted- Professor Sue Kildea speculates that public involvement may amend this. 

Rally anyone?


Please take time to read the quote that Renae read to us.


"When you tell me ‘you don’t look Aboriginal’, you are denying that I am Aboriginal. To deny that I am Aboriginal is to deny that my grandmother was taken by welfare because she was Aboriginal, by the dictates of past government policies. To deny that she was taken because she was Aboriginal is to deny that past policies attempted genocide of Aboriginal people. To deny that the government’s objective was genocide is to deny that the government is responsible for the widespread decimation of Aboriginal language, traditions, land rights and intact family trees today. To deny that there is no widespread crises of identity within Aboriginal individuals, families, communities – and indeed our entire country – is to deny our lived reality. And when you deny our reality, you deny us our humanity. And so when you tell me ‘you don’t look Aboriginal’, it goes much further than just skin-deep." - Mykaela Saunders

The full article can be found here.



Thanks for reading you gorgeous thing! 



xxxxxx



Comment below if it pleases you. 







Tuesday, 11 October 2016

DAY 1- OF THE 11TH INTERNATIONAL NORMAL BIRTH AND LABOUR CONFERENCE 2016

NORMAL BIRTH AND LABOUR CONFERENCE 2016



O.K. Today was a special day! The first day of a three day international conference (held in Sydney this year woooooh) exploring normal birth.

Here is the highlight reel for those of you playing along at home.

This guy... Professor Eugine Declercq

 

It doesn't look like it here.. but this guy had a room full of sleep-deprived birth workers giggling.

Somehow Professor Eugine Declercq managed to make statistics fun and informative... what kind of magic is this?

One highlight from Professor Declercq was:


1. Women are being told that their babies are too big... but babies aren't getting bigger. Interesting. 



Check out some fun data at the Birth by the Numbers website he recommended.


The next exciting development of the day.... got me all sweaty and nervous! 

 

As fate would have it I got to sit next to my doula crush Sarah Buckley! She wrote the first book that I ever read which got me questioning how we do birth in this country. *birthy swooooon*

 
Me and Sarah Buckley. I'm definitely not pooping my pants...
 my face just looks like that.

 

As if that wasn't enough... I then got to listen to a room full of amazing midwives talking about the third stage of labour!  

 

All the funs.

After a fun history lesson where I learned that apparently the drug Ergometrine originally came from a fungus that grows on rye (Delish!) then all the midwives were on the placenta train. Listening to their experiences was so incredible. I. can't. even. 

So three fun facts from this session:

1. Many midwives primarily practise managed third stage... some have never seen a physiological third stage- even at the normal labour and birth conference. 

2. Language is important. It's "placental birth"opposed to third stage. Instead of Delayed Cord Clamping they are labeling it Physiological and Early Cord Clamping should be used for anything other than Physiological.

3. Increased management of the third stage has not decreased post-partum hemorrhage rates. In fact they are increasing. 

And a bonus one for funsies

With delayed cord clamping placental blood transfusion to the baby can be anywhere from 50mls to 150mls. My good mate (who I said an entire two sentences to) Sarah Buckley brought this up, the hypothesis is that the baby can regulate the amount of blood he/she receives when optimal cord clamping is used. Clever things. 

If this area interests you check out my post 10 Things To Do With Your Placenta



Then I went to Bernadette Leiser's Session about acupressure for the perinatal period. 

 

I'm not sure what drew me to this one in the first place, but I do feel more confident in using the tools they showed us for women during labour. 

Things I learned:

1. There is a bucketful and a half of studies showing that acupressure is effective- including randomised control trials. 

2. There is a woman called Deborah Betts who is super passionate about this all and has lots of info for parents on her website. Check it out here.

3. There is an acupressure point that stimulates your bowel. Interesting right? 


*Then I had a lovely doula catch-up lunch where talking about placentas over pasta was acceptable* 

 


Next keynote speaker was Caroline Homer, the President of the Australian College of Midwives. 

 

Holy mackerel.

This woman is clever. And I mean clever. She pretty much blew everyone away with her address. It was centered around the inequalities that women face in low income countries.

Taking into account all of the places she has visited, papers she has worked on and things she has done, I have deduced that she is at least 130 years old.
Things I took away from her talk: 

1. Developing countries have incredibly low cesarean rates (sometimes as low as 0.25% in poor rural areas) and women and children are dying because of it. This is due to many factors; primarily access, funding and education.

2. Where women in low income countries do have access to a cesarean birth, they may have many complications as a result- including approximately 20% of all women developing birth fistulas as a result of the operation. Further concern surrounds future birth for these women who may not be able to access healthcare again from small villages.

3. If local women in developing countries could be trained adequately as midwives, many of the inequalities surrounding birth could be addressed- the money doesn't need to go into fancy machines.

The take away message was that globally our healthcare system is in desperate need of balance.



THANKS FOR READING YOU LOVELY PERSON YOU!!! 

 

 

Please feel free to comment below! xx


Friday, 2 September 2016

IS TOO MUCH NEWS BAD NEWS?

What is the news doing to our babies?

World news follows us everywhere. Everyday. In our cars on the way to work, on our Facebook feed, in our homes, in conversations, even in our laundry... probably.

It's important (and often expected of us) to know whats happening to advocate and respond to important issues. But really. We're making babies. Ain't nobody got time for that. 

Every day we are bombarded with popularised version of the 'news'. The media select stories aimed at ratings and clicks. The more emotionally distressing, the more clicks and responses.



But do these stories affect us?  And especially for pregnant women and new mothers- what is the impact on our children when we read about another mother's children that we can't save? 

Here's a science bomb. No pun intended. And if it had been it wasn't punny. Keep reading though it's worth it.

When we read about these events or see them on television our bodies illicit a stress response. Stressful huh?

Basically our hormones click into fight or flight mode. This prepares the neurotransmitters in our babies' brains for danger that isn't imminent or even directed at them. The impact of our fight/flight responses create a ripple metabolic effect that has detrimental consequences. Basically we're freaking our babies out. 

Stress is bad for pregnancy. Yet we are subjecting ourselves and our families to the weight of the world, rather than focussing inwards on our humans, the ones who will be taking the reigns for the world of the future. Let's surround them in love and certainty while we have the privilege to do so; to raise them to be trusting and peaceful, caring and loving. 

As much as we might like to tell ourselves a bit of news won't stress us out- how can we predict what will be in the news next? Is the benefit of hearing Waleed and Carrie's witty banter really worth the risk?

The stress response also uses up nutrients that are required to remain calm and collected in other scenarios- like dispelling the tantrum our two year old is having in Woolworths, when the toilet paper roll has been left empty in an untimely way, or when a stranger rubs your pregnant belly- for reals. GTFO.

Stress also impacts the immune system. Which we need. For living. 

Really ladies and gents, Elsa had it right. It's ok to let it go.

At least for a short time anyway.

By steering clear of emotionally charged sensationalist 'news broadcasters' on our Facebook and twitter accounts we could be doing our babies and families a massive favour... not to mention saving time!

Heck, let's unfollow friends' feeds if they frequently post about the news (I am this person and wouldn't be offended even if I did know- which I wouldn't as it is a private function).

While we're there, let's de-friend anyone you don't like too- if they aren't friends in real life why are they friends on Facebook?

Let's use our pregnancy and newborn-mother phase to create safe spaces, where little bodies receive your warmth and compassion that you haven't exhausted on a stranger. 

Or don't. I'm not your mum. 

Leave a comment if this resonated with you... or the opposite!

xxxxx



Sunday, 31 July 2016

SUPERMUM SMOOTHIE

SUPERMUM SMOOTHIE

Because Mums deserve the best


For all of those Mummies out there who need a bit of love or a pick-me-up this one is for you!


This is a cruelty free smoothie I designed for mums who need a bit of love or a pick-me-up. It is great at breakfast or for an afternoon boost- or both!

*Hot tip- it tastes even better if someone makes it for you!




This Supermum smoothie is designed to help keep busy mums healthy and full. All of the ingredients pack a punch with plenty of B vitamins, dietary fibre, iron, calcium, antioxidants, magnesium, omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin C just to name a few!

Supermum Smoothie Recipe

Quantity:
2 Large Serves

Ingredients:
1/3 Cup LSA (Also used in Lactation Bliss Balls recipe) 
1/3 Cup Pitted Dates
1/2 Tbsp Coconut Oil 
2 Cups Berries (I used frozen raspberries)
1 Banana
1 Handful of Baby Spinach 
1/2 Avocado
2 Cups chilled Coconut Water

Method:
  1. Blend LSA and Pitted Dates on high for 20 seconds or until blended.
  2. Add all other ingredients and mix on high for 2 minutes until all ingredients are emulsified.
  3. Serve!

Tips:
  • 2 minutes seems like a long time to combine ingredients but the result is a much better consistency if you stick with it.
  • You can freeze some of the mixture into an icecube tray to add to other smoothies. 
  • For a cool, thick consistency use frozen fruit or add an extra half a cup of ice.
  • Store LSA in the fridge.
  • For even more mummy goodness try adding a probiotic caspule.
  • If you're looking to impress, I used a pastry brush to paint Golden Syrup around the lip of a Mason jar and sprinkled over Chia seeds. I then topped the smoothie with Coconut Flakes.

Enjoy!


Tuesday, 19 July 2016

10 THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR PLACENTA

POST-BIRTH OPTIONS: YOUR PLACENTA PLANNING GUIDE

The placenta is often viewed as an unpleasant albeit necessary part in the pregnancy and birth process. On first inspection it can even elicit feelings of shock or disgust. 

But things aren't always what they appear to be- and that bloody, vein covered placenta? It is amazing.

What if I told you that the placenta actually forms during the very beginning stages of cell division?  Some cells divide to become your baby, and the other cells go on to form the placenta.

Take a moment to consider all of what it has done for your baby. Delivering nutrients and filtering out unwanted wastes, delivering hormones. The placenta is attached to both mother and baby in the most basic, beautiful, reciprocal relationship. It is the baby's lifeline. 

The branch-like appearance of the veins has inspired images of the placenta being likened to the tree of life. 

Your placenta has been what your baby has first touched, a soft, warm, tactile comfort that it has known and grown with since your baby's very existence.

OK AWESOME: you know how incredible the placenta is... now what to do with it?

Options:

1. Eat it: There is speculation that immediate consumption of placenta, and/or chewing on the umbilical cord, results in less blood-loss immediately postpartum.  This option is sometimes recommended immediately after the placenta has been delivered.

Alternatively, you could cut a slice off and make it into a smoothie. Any way you like your smoothies- just pop a bit in for a nutritious boost (If giving birth in a hospital you may like to organise a (really good) friend, family member or doula to take some of the placenta home and prepare and bring the smoothie back to the hospital). 

2. Encapsulate it:
there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that consumption of the placenta leads to less postpartum anxiety/depression, increases milk supply, stabilises mood swings and is overall amazing. And it's almost impossible to distinguish from its original form in those lovely little capsules so.... bottoms up!?

3. Print it:
You can D.I.Y. this or leave it in the hands of the professionals. There are birth-centric Doulas and artists out there who will creatively print your placenta onto paper for you to frame. So why not decorate your baby's room with a likeness of it's previous womb-mate?!

4. Take it Home and Bury it:  If the thought of eating something that was once half of your baby's first cells puts you off, but you want to thank that beautiful placenta for sustaining your baby's pre-natal life, consider taking it home and burying it. This is actually also appropriate disposal of the placenta for a variety of cultural and religious groups. 

Keeping placenta buried close to baby is also meant to create a feeling of well-being and good attachment for the baby.

5. Make a Homeopathic Tincture: This is cool because it can literally last a life-time. Once you have the 'mother tincture' it can be used to create an ongoing supply. In a nutshell the placenta/cord is added to an alcoholic solution (e.g. Brandy). A drop is then taken from this mixture and added to a smaller bottle (1/100 drop ratio) and succussed (tapped/shaken). This is then repeated again and again- the shaking of the smaller bottle is repeated, the stronger the remedy is said to become (here is a more detailed explanation).

People use these tinctures in times of stress/anxiety/unrest to remind their child of the closeness and bond that was shared with their mother in the womb. A sort of bringing-back-to-family tonic. It can also be done with just the cord, which is great if you want to combine it with the other options.  

6. Make Jewellery: There are women who, if you send them a capsule or three of your placenta will create the most beautiful rings and charms for you to wear your baby's placenta with you. If you are worried that this is a little unusual never fear, no-one else has to know why your jewellery is so gorgeous if you don't want them to. 

7. Make a Dream Catcher: This combines the assumed protective power of that life-bringing placenta, with the Native American practice of creating dream-catchers to ward off bad dreams. Basically the cord is shaped and then wrapped in wool/silk to form the outer circle. These can be truly beautiful to look at too.

8. Make Umbilical Cord Art: While it is soft you can create a word/shape with the cord and then dry it out so that it retains this shape. This service can also be done by professionals.

9. Practise Lotus Birth: Another practice that has a lot of symbolic meaning is to leave the placenta and cord attached to the baby until it falls off naturally. Women chose to do this as a way of letting nature take its course. Should you wish to do this you would need to salt the placenta, sometimes with herbs. You would also need a bag to keep it in and make sure that it dries in an appropriate position for changing and bathing (Sarah Buckley gives an in-depth introduction to Lotus Birth here).

10. Do Nothing: You have to deliver it (here is an excellent article on the third-stage of labour) - but after that, if you don't want to ever see it you don't have to. The hospital will take it and most likely incinerate it.

Also known as standard procedure- it's the less romantic option- but I'm sure it's appealing to some.

Bonus option: 
Take some photos: then send it on its merry way to the incinerator.


There you have it! Now all you have to do is make the decision.



Sunday, 3 July 2016

POST-NATAL EXPRESSION- THE ART OF 'LEANING IN' TO EMOTIONS

What's a postpartum mum to do when emotions take charge?



Knowing what is happening physically during the immediate postpartum period provides an insight to what is happening emotionally.
 
Your body has physically been stretched to its limits over the past nine months, growing and sustaining precious life.  Just when pregnancy is getting physically overwhelming you give birth to your baby. Here is where your hormones peak- and as they fluctuate on their way back down, they take your emotions with them on a roller coaster ride.

You might be feeling exhausted, exhilarated, amazed, on a high, in love, robbed, stricken, in shock; everything and anything possibly all at once like you have never experienced before. To add to this, you will be experiencing lochia (postpartum bleeding), you might have major surgery to recover from, stitches that are healing, be experiencing after birth pains, your breasts may be tender and sore, your arms may be so heavy with weariness from what you have experienced.

Hormones are flooding your system. Three common hormonal influences include oxytocin (the love hormone), adrenalin (think fight or flight) and prolactin (the milk maker).  Many women report not being able to sleep for the first night after delivering their baby- even though it is typically the time when a baby sleeps for a longer stretch- you can likely thank your adrenalin for that. Adrenalin is not all bad though- it is wonderful for exhausted mums who need a surge of energy during the second (pushing) stage of labour.

Then your oxytocin will fill your heart and body with love like you never knew existed and you think you might just burst. As the oxytocin levels decrease you are effectively withdrawing from that intense state, leaving you feeling emotionally raw and in the depths of emptiness.

On the heels of oxytocin's decline, prolactin levels increase, which, as the name suggests helps with lactation. It also helps to gear a mother's actions towards protecting her baby. The increased instinct to protect a baby in breastfeeding mothers means that they are roughly twice as aggressive as bottle feeding mothers (think mumma bear effect).

Is it really any wonder then, with all the fear, love, joy hate, desperation, determination, and deprivation (sleep) that a new mother has the need to express these feelings? The expression of this depth of emotion is unpredictable, but the inevitability of strong emotions should be expected and prepared for.

'Lean in' to these huge emotions often expressed in the form of crying, yelling or strong feelings of helplessness and/or joy.  Open yourself to really feel the pain or happiness or fear- push the feeling further. Be in the moment, accept it for what it is and feel with intention and awareness what your body, mind and spirit are telling you that you need to express.

Here is a strategy that may help you 'lean in' to your post-partum emotions (you may find other strategies that work for you):

  1. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and imagine your breath moving to the part of your body where you physically feel that you are experiencing this emotion (e.g. heart, stomach, chest)
  2. Name the emotion (e.g. I am feeling sad) and then tell yourself that it is OK to be feeling this way (e.g. I am feeling sad and I'm going to let myself feel sad. I don't need a reason to be feeling this way at the moment. It's OK. I am just going to feel it)
  3. After the main emotion has subsided, count (mentally or out loud) to ten to re-centre yourself. If you can't make it to ten, maybe there is still some residual emotion to address

By doing this, rather than opening Pandora's box of emotions, you are using them, feeling them, relieving the need to express them in other ways. In other words, you are avoiding repressing them.

Repressing emotions is culturally typical and often deeply ingrained in both a mothers psyche and in those surrounding her. This can make experimenting with such a depth of emotion an awkward, uncomfortable or even scary experience. It is beneficial for the post-partum mother to be surrounded by people she can trust and express her emotions in the presence of. Planning prenatally to include only people you feel emotionally safe with during the first few days and weeks post-partum can assist in creating your safe space for post-natal expression.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

6 HOT TIPS FOR COMMUNICATING WITH CARE PROVIDERS


How to communicate with care providers


I wrote this with the occasion of labour in mind, but the tips are useful for many encounters with healthcare professionals.

Communicating effectively improves your chances of getting the birth you want, as well as increasing satisfaction.

These awesome tips are not just for mum!  During labour it can be difficult to do things such as establish eye contact or talk. They are practical things that Dad can do to help keep communication clear, enabling informed decision making.

TIP 1- EYE CONTACT
Making and maintaining eye contact (as culturally appropriate) is a way of building a connection and trust with healthcare professionals. Eye contact is an important body language signal and demonstrates that you are listening and thus prompts further conversation. You will also be more likely to notice any hesitation or reluctance from your care provider, and will be able to then verbally explore the possibility and reasons behind any of their hesitations.

TIP 2- REMEMBER THEIR NAMES AND USE THEM
Midwives are busy. Very very busy. Using their name, and in particular remembering their face and name can interrupt their the cycle of 'doing the job' and refocus the midwife onto your individual situation. One way to remember a name is to repeat it, for example, "nice to meet you, Janis" as opposed to just "nice to meet you" on multiple occasions when you first meet your midwife.

TIP 3- BE GLAM WITH A PLAN
Have a birth plan/preferences/wishes/flowchart/map/roulette wheel (you got me... not the last one).  Know what you want and what you don't want (in an ideal world) so that if your situation deviates from that path you can step purposefully forwards having made a decision about your preferred alternatives, rather than being pulled along with the tide. Creating a plan with someone experienced in birth planning creates options and alternatives you may not have known existed.

TIP 4- ASK FOR A COUPLE OF MINUTES TO THINK
When conversations get tense, or there is a change in the plan, if you are feeling even the slightest disquiet about a decision, ask for time! It can be difficult to communicate with your birth partner effectively with an audience of a doctor, midwife, nurse or all of the above. In lieu of a genuine medical emergency, your healthcare providers should be more than happy to provide you the privacy you need to take a moment to think and communicate as a couple before committing to a decision.

TIP 5- BRAIN ACRONYM
The art of asking the right questions! SPOILER ALERT- this tool is fabulous!

Benefits- what are the benefits of the procedure/change in plan
Risks- what are the risks of the procedure
Alternatives- are there any alternatives (this could be as simple as choosing more time)
Intuition- what does your gut say?
Nothing- what if you do nothing?

TIP 6- COMPLIMENT THEM... WITH A TWIST 
Twist your compliments up with a little bit of advocating (Bonus points for using their name here!). Check this out:

Birth Partner: "Hi (midwife, nurse, OB's name), I just want to say how grateful I am to have you here supporting (mother's name) to achieve her natural birth. It really means a lot to us."

If possible- it's best to have your healthcare provider on your side. Sugar talking is great, but be genuine... and keep your compliments relevant, even if they do have nice hair.

There you have it! 'Birthy' communication in a nutshell.






If you have used these or have any more tips, feel free to add to the comments section below!

Thursday, 16 June 2016

TESTIMONIALS

Complete Package Testimonials

"What an amazing experience. Ellen helped us create with the birth of our second son. Words cannot describe how you were there in exactly the way that we needed and helped with our older son being present through part of the labour. 

The debriefing a few days later with a home made picnic was a great way to finish. Thank you so much Ellen. You will always have a special place in our hearts. x"

~Joanna



"My name is Fiona and I had my son through the regular public hospital system. That would have been ok, but I imagine it would have been a very different experience without Ellen.  The midwives at the hospital were fantastic, but you get a different person every shift (I had a very long labour) and Ellen was the constant and reassuring support that I needed - before, during and after.

I can't recommend Ellen highly enough. I found her through a friend who says the same thing.  From the first meeting I felt comfortable and trusting with Ellen. It was very clear that she really knew her stuff and was up to date with the latest hospital procedures, facilities and capabilities. She was studying midwifery at the time.

She drove the 2 hours to my place about six times before, after and during my pregnancy and birth.  I had heard an ABC programme where they interviewed a female midwife, male obstetrician and a female doula with differing opinions and backgrounds, and every one of them recommended that "continuity of care" is the best way to prepare and get through birth, especially if it's your first baby.  To know and trust the person who will be coaching you through one of the hardest (and best) challenges of your life, is impossible to match. 

In the words of my friend who recommended Ellen to me - 'Doing a birthing course is like reading a book on athletics. Having a doula is like being coached up to and through the biggest race of your life.'

Ellen made me feel like I could do anything. And lucky for me, I had a natural birth with just gas pain relief at the end. But it was her talking me through every moment and reassuring me that everything was going correctly, that enabled me to let my body do what it needed to do, without any inhibitions from my mind. She allayed my fears and made the whole experience empowering.

Your partner/husband also benefits from the support of a doula on a practical and emotional level, particularly if it’s your first child together.

Lastly, Ellen visited us afterwards and showed us how to bath, carrier wrap and swaddle our newborn boy, among other countless gems of wisdom which helped immensely in those first weeks.  We really couldn’t have asked for more."
~ Fiona



Birth Planning Testemonials

"I'm so grateful for Ellen's help with my birth plan for my second labour. After feeling pressured into medical interventions with my first labour, I really appreciated having Ellen's knowledge and insight into what interventions are necessary and what are merely convenient for the staff. 

Ellen was able to help me figure out how I wanted my second labour to progress if possible and the best ways that my husband and I could ensure our voices were heard while working alongside the hospital staff. 

She is so friendly, encouraging and supportive of your wishes. Ellen really goes above and beyond to care for you and make sure you feel empowered before your labour. 

This time around, I felt much more prepared and confident. I was able to vocalise my wishes and even have the birth I'd hoped for!"
~ Alison

"Ellen helped me significantly in the months leading up to my labour. Being my first pregnancy, both my husband and I had no idea what to expect both physically and emotionally.

Ellen guided us both throughout the whole process, and the knowledge we gained from her was invaluable -many times more useful than any class we took, or book we read. She was understanding, patient, supportive of the birth experience I had envisioned for myself, and completely non-judgemental.

What I loved and appreciated most about my time with Ellen was her total honesty about the birth process. It was this openness and her laid-back, calming presence that helped ease any fears/concerns I had regarding labour, and replace them instead with a feeling of overwhelming empowerment.

Ellen - I can't thank you enough for all that you did for us! I couldn't have asked for a better doula experience.
"
~ Alisha


Learn more about the services I offer here.