THIS IS MOTHERHOOD - A DAY IN THE LIFE OF.

T.I.M - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

 

So after recently having my second baba, its fair to say that our day to day living has been turned upside down and life is well – mental.

Beautiful, bewitching, hard and well yes, insane. 

In short I felt compelled to share a wee snippet of daily living as a mother. In a slightly deranged moment of clarity the other week I chuckled to myself as I repeated T.I.M… it was the only thing that would effectively sum up the day I had just had. So ‘THIS IS MOTHERHOOD’ was born… inspired by TIA, an acronym I came to use frequently when I volunteered in Kenya some moons ago and which kept us all smiling even when faced with quite brutal realities day to day, the term ‘THIS IS AFRICA’ would say what we often couldn’t cobble together in words; sometimes hilarious, sometimes shocking, sometimes otherworldly. 

So here goes, a day in the life of…. A Mama... this mama, or to be exact, a woman, aka me, mother of one new bright and beaming 10-week-old boy and one very lively, inter galactic star dust fueled nearly 4-year-old. So, hold on to your hats:

 

 Photo artistry from the talented Leo

Photo artistry from the talented Leo

Morning; rituals, coffee and melt downs

4.30AM

‘Morning!?@3!!!

Yes, I hear you, WTF! To most sane people this is NOT in fact morning and is very much still the middle of the night. Try explaining that to a 3-year-old, and for those who aren’t familiar with the art of reasoning with a toddler, its simple, you can’t. The back story is our first beautiful baba has never really enjoyed the art of sleeping. So, after 3 and a half years of chronic sleep deprivation (that’s on our part – he was as bright as a button), he was just getting to a point of sleeping to a time we could reasonably call morning (anything after 5am) when, bam we went and added a new born brother to the mix. Arrrhh

So, the awesome human that is dad has been taking this grueling hit as I am in bed with baba attached to my boob. However, on this morning, trying to give him a much-needed lie in (again let me explain to those who are maybe unfamiliar, this anything is up to and beyond 7.30AM) I got up.

 

5.30am-6.30AM

Breakfast making, baby on boob, and one handed mastery (parents acquire new found skills in one handed wizardry when they have kids… holding a new born while, eating, cooking, putting shoes on, trying to dress another human, or yourself, feeding animals, making a cup of tea, going to the toilet, it’s all been done).

Then some CBeebies time for leo, aka time for me and baba to lie flat and try to pretend that we are still asleep while hey duggee does his oh so weird and wonderful thing in the background (if you have ever seen that programme its like a trippy dream anyway, so floating in and out of consciousness its quite fitting)!

So let me set the scene. we were all about no screens when leo was born. We had read a lot around this and it was something that was part of our family dynamic (insignificant fact, I met Sue Palmer who wrote toxic childhood the night before at a meeting and was a tad star struck). So pre-two years there were no screens. Now when your baba wakes multiple times in the night and calls 4,30am morning – well you can just imagine what that might look like? Suffice to say that me and robin have aged about 10 years in that time – look it up, severe sleep deprivation is a form of torture. Anyway, me and robin as parents have always said to each other and tried to live by; NO judgment. Everyone has to do it their own way, whatever works for them as a family. We have very much decided we NEED CBeebies to function so it is now part of our morning – I am 100% happy and could kiss Duggee..

 

6.45AM

Attempt to get dressed. Switch on the life support machine (the coffee machine – honestly when this nearly broke I had a heart attack – and again super dad came to the rescue, he is a fixing wizard). Attempt to get anyone else dressed - don’t succeed. Give baba a wee baby steam and facial – in the bouncer while I have a 2-minute shower, interrupted in that time by leo leaving a most fragrant deposit in the toilet. This is Motherhood… you will begin to dream of the day you may go to the toilet on your own uninterrupted. And it will happen, in about 10 years.

Get myself dressed, baba pukes on clean top. Wipe it and move on (3 puke rule, if it isn’t curdled – move on). When you see the pile of washing that amounts daily, you choose to ‘not notice’ the watery pukes (is this too much information??).  

7.45AM

Rising panic on my part that no one is dressed other than me, Leo is asking for more breakfast (usually he has 3, I mean 3 adult portions of breakfast). Baba is wet (sick and dribble), both wanting attention, all the while, dad is trying to get ready for work, while holding a baba and listening to the free flow babble coming from Leo – why is it that small humans need to verbalise their constant stream of consciousness. By 8am you feel like your brains been on a deep spin in the washing machine and youve been spat back out. It appears all we are trying to do is make it out the door before 9am for Leos gym class. I wonder, am I expecting too much??!

 

8AM

Email to say gym class is cancelled. Quick context, it is literally Leos favorite class, he asks ‘when is it Wednesday mama’, or hopefully most mornings ‘gym tots today???!!’. So, meltdown ensues at the same time baba wants a feed. Where is my 3rd arm I ask myself again. 2 arms just doesn’t cut it. Funny interlude… some text banter one day between mum and dad resulted in roaring laughter and the new title of ‘Gym Tits’ which we now call Leos gym class! Ah you have to love predictive text – those little golden nuggets keep me going when things get dark.

Leaving the house; Bribery and Poonami’s 

8-9AM

I try to think up a new plan while getting baba dressed and settled on a cushion, with Leo bouncing up and down unnervingly close to the 10-week-old precious cargo.

New plan – lets go to the castle around the corner. We can walk there, baba can have a snooze in the sling, ah mama what a genius plan. ‘But I don’t want to go outside, I hate walking, I want to build a rocket.’ So, after some sweet negotiation (Alas, another skill parents unknowingly acquire – the fine art of secret service style negotiation), we are off.

Well I say we are off. It takes us another hour to actually fully leave the building.

Coats on, feed the baba, put the baba down to tackle teeth brushing, mine included, return to find Zen buddha baba has put himself to sleep, utterly bored by the proceedings and drama that descends every time we try to, well, do anything all together. 

Put baba in the sling, go get the pram out of the shed while leaving Leo with a dangling carrot, ‘if you put your shoes on you can have a box of raisins, (don’t judge, another thing that went out the window, bribery… this is a formidable trick of the trade and 100% needed in order to maintain my sanity).

 

9.10AM

SAS training begins for the mama. So after having trained now extensively in post-natal recovery, healing, loving the mama and self-care, I find myself with a baba in the sling front side, and an insanely heavy backpack on my back (wtf is in there!!@??!). Que 2nd meltdown. The bike leo was excited to ride (that had also been a vital part of the bribery plan to get him out of the house), is in fact, wait for it, at the bike shop! Well fuck a duck. After mentally counting my breath, and restraining myself from having an ‘adult tantrum’, I move on, Watch a highly dramatic launch onto the grass from Leo, very angry shouts and some throwing of leaves and twigs. Poor little lamb, so we have a cuddle (no mean feat with another human strapped to your chest), i’m boil in a bag and we’re off, hallelujah! Hail the donkey pram full of more paraphernalia and Leo. Yes, we are using the pram as I suspected, not for the baby, but to avoid serious injury of the mama, me having to carry two humans and a bag would be the end of my shoulders and back.

 

 Real life Superhero in the woods.

Real life Superhero in the woods.

10AM

The buddha baba is not happy so we do a swap, baby in the pram, Leo on the skate board (the one I might add that has been the cause of my severely bruised shins). 5 minutes on, baba NOT happy, Im feeling like my own insides are going to explode and we are saved by a lovely woman who senses my strain and comes over to help. She picks up all the crap I dropped while trying to get baba back in the sling and chats to me about her own baba’s. BREATHE BREATHE BREATHE.

A highly important point here; sometimes that parent you see struggling on the pavement, on a bus, in the supermarket, just needs some kindness, a smile, a ‘hello’, a ‘do you need a hand’. This human contact might be the first that parent has had after a 12-hour day surviving with little people and don’t ever underestimate the power that can have on someone’s mental health.

 So blah blah blah we get tp the castle – SLOWLY after a pee stop on route. No not me, Leo.

 

10.30-12PM

We play at the castle, run around, again logistically challenging with a baba strapped to your front. I find myself crawling through bushes, sitting in a tree and trying to do all those things I did pre baba number two.

 Then, you guessed it, Cack attack. When a small person needs to go, its instantaneous. No time to race to the toilet (again can’t run at speed with a baba on my body). So as the saying goes ‘does. bear shit in the woods?’. If I have lost any of you at this point, please rest assured, it was a clean affair, pooped on a pile of leaves then scooped them into a nappy bag and voila! Used the toilets to wash hands, and hey presto.

I’m totally done in already, so thinking it must nearly be lunch time, oh look its 11.10am!! it’s raining, so more playing in the woods, using a shelter we helped build that is still unbelievably standing. Then as suspected… ‘mum I’m hungry. Now again I feel I need to explain, I would say I take pleasure in being known as the mama of all pack ups. Well not today... I’ve done the unforgivable, Ive failed to bring not only the pack up, but any snacks. School boy error and a game changer.

 Does a bear shit in the woods? do toddlers ?!?

Does a bear shit in the woods? do toddlers ?!?

Lunchtime; Mum juggling, food and boobs

11.40AM – 1PM

Head home – so putting into context, the grand effort to get out took around an hour and a half and we stayed for about an hour.

Journey home in the rain pushing the over laden donkey pram. Get back, feed baba, and make lunch while trying to keep Leo entertained with hide and seek, aka you go hide and I’ll take a really really long time to find you.

 So when my ass hits a chair for lunch it feels like Ive been awake for 3 days already and – ah yes we are official about ½ way through the day.

While we eat lunch, I again dream of a 3rd arm, as I attempt to express while feeding. What does this look like I hear you cry… well it isn’t pretty. Half my sandwich ends up falling on Rumi’s head as he feeds but needs must (I don’t express every day but it does help me to carve out a bit of mama self-care time later on – read on to find out).

Afternoon Antics; crafty cuts, Dens and into the wild.

1-4PM

In a nut shell The afternoon looked like this…. 

Crafters; We got down to some serious creative play, we got messy, we did some high-octane crafting; imagine paint, glitter and glue explosions and you will have a pretty accurate picture…. Aka go wild leo, create, enjoy – lasted about 20minutes.

Den builders: blankets, chairs, teddies, me and baba and captain Leo. ‘Sister Sister’ as Leo calls it which is like ‘mummy’s and daddy’s’ and is a fav of mine as involves, ‘going to bed – lying down and pretending to be asleep – Hurray (if only).

Wild Beasts; back outdoors for some serious afternoon fresh air blasting and wild animal releasing (I totally get it, Im not a kid but it feels so good to hang upside down at the play park, run in a field and howl like a wolf – seriously good for the soul and your own sanity). After the set back of having gotten everyone actually dressed to go out, baba pukes all over himself and poo’s up his back. Que meltdown, everyone back in, to de robe a very unhappy baba, nappy change, clothing change then a feed to settle, all the while trying to soothe a very frustrated little person who just wants a cuddle without a baba hanging from your boob.

We get to the park, we run about, I go down the slide after saying I can’t because I have baba Rumi in the sling. After the 7th time climbing up and sliding down in a train with Leos feet digging into my back I admit defeat. Put a fork in me, I am done.

 unhinged!

unhinged!

We head home, all the while, i’m wondering why I always do it to myself, sweating profusely with a hot water bottle baba strapped to my chest a jacket and cardigan on which I now can’t remove as it stupidly put the sling on over them both in a rush to leave the house. Baba is wriggling and wants to stretch out after being in the sling. Walking home looking like a small pterodactyl is trying to break free from my chest.

Another melt down on the way back as the small human starts to struggle with, just about everything, The reality of waking up at 4.30am is that by 4pm you are totally and utterly cream crackered.  

We get in the door, everyone is crying, I send an SOS to dad who tentatively asks how our day has been!?! To which I reply; ‘Fucking hard’ – parent code for ‘come home NOW’… 

 

The Home Straight; SOS, cavalry and bedtime.

5-7PM

Dad, aka my savior gets back and scoops up Leo to his delight, gives me a compassionate look and a big bear hug and says…’well done mama – my hero’.… We have a gourmet meal lovingly prepared… fish fingers, potato wedges, peas and broccoli (get some green on their– all food groups represented – we are wining, and the little human is happy). Leo’s eyes are rolling into the back of his head and hes struggling to eat his tea (me and dad know this then means he wakes up in the night hungry and we have a restless night – Nooooooo), and right on que from our little pocket rocket, ‘im not tired mummy’ – of course not son ?!?@@! – Breathe breathe breathe only 2 hours till we can ALL go to bed (you think I am joking – this has become my bed time and I am 100% happy with that).

6.30PM

Quiet play, matching pairs Ninjago style, pJ’s on, teeth brushed, and then all into the big bed to read stories, one arm round Leo, one round buddha boy who’s feeding and snoozing. 

Dad takes Leo to bed, I lie down with baba and play back the day’s events, feeling utterly exhausted. Slowly as I re-tell the day to robin I find the humor in it all. Maybe I’m just delirious but the moments from the day where I felt I was actually going to have a full-blown adult ‘tantrum’ (yes, I can fully vouch, they do exist), had become laughable.

 

8PM

Then the very variable and final part of my day, some muma time, some yoga time. I haul myself out of bed and do a win win trade with robin, he snuggles in next to baba (Dads fav time of the day, he gets to snug in with his baba and an expressed bottle of milk on hand incase baba needs a top up). While I go and unravel on my mat. Sometimes I get 5 minutes of yoga, sometimes on a very good day an hour. Sometimes I just breathe then lie in shavasana. But Some time to just be in my body without anything else, to unwind the knots, decompress, breathe, move and be in my body, let go of my sometimes buzzing, sometimes foggy brain and just be is unimaginably blissful. Whatever kind of day it’s been, this is like my re set, it brings it all home (humor and chocolate also feature heavily, the number of squares of chocolate relay the kind of day - 2 on average, 3 if things got really trippy!). Whatever it might be for you, I would urge any Muma to find something, your own recharge swtich, decompression chamber, reset button… it’s a must. This is what wakes me up to the beauty that is my family of 4… the wild, raw, juiciness of it all and how grateful I am for the rainbow bonkers madness that is my day to day… it’s filled with a lot and Pure love is at the centre – thank the heavens for oxytocin… We all know you do wildly crazy stuff when you are inlove and parenthood is testament to this.

 9PM

In bed, Asleep, babe in arms. AKA cream crackered, day officially done! Winning at Mothering!

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So there we have it, a day in the life of. 

This is motherhood, or more accurately, this is MY MOTHERHOOD. 

Over and out.

 

T x 

MY SECOND HOME BIRTH

As powerful as lightening, and gentle as the night

I knew this time my baby would come early.

In this second pregnancy I always felt I was further along than my dates. I felt it not from any external physical signs but from deep in my womb, in the changes of my pelvis, and in my heart. 


This was one of the distinct differences I felt with my second pregnancy and maybe this is a reality for many mamas, I just knew. There was no questioning, I could sense and trusted those senses. Maybe as a result of having experienced it once before or maybe just because I was in a different time and space. 

This baba, our baba, came right on time, in his own sweet time.


Early Bird - Signs of labour.


I would say I felt the beginnings of this labour brewing at 38 weeks. My energy changed, I felt more introspective, I was less keen to make plans or meet friends, and where ever possible relished in spending time with me, Myself and I. 

My daily constitutionals consisted of yoga, breathwork, visualisation, relaxation and swimming twice a week. Swimming and yoga were my absolute tonic and sanctuary in this pregnancy, where my sickness and low energy lasted much longer into the second trimester.

I had a huge emotional release the week before my labour. Feeling overwhelmed by love, excitement, joy and apprehension about how our lives and hearts could open any more, guilt at the prospect of my son having to share my love and affections with his new sibling and how this next chapter would unfold. 


So, I turned to my trusty saviour in times like this where multiple and simultaneous changes can feel totally overwhelming, I looked deep into nature. We had a huge wild and windy walk on the Saturday by water. I was surprised by the little voice telling me baby was coming. Surely not, not quite yet. On the one hand I couldn’t imagine or see myself being pregnant another 2 weeks, but I also wondered if that voice was wishful thinking. My doula was going to be away around my due date and there was a part of me that thought that voice was actually just what I hoped would happen.

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That afternoon I took myself off to bed, I couldn’t do anything else. 

On sunday we went swimming as usual, as a family. Well I say we, I swam and robin threw a delighted leo round the pool. I swam feeling so light and weightless that 40 lengths felt effortless.
Afterwards I went off to do a few jobs and have some time on my own. This was not a usual occurrence, but I felt compelled to be on my own.

 

High As a Kite - Nature weaving its birthing magic

I knew I was flooded with hormones by this point as my senses had gone on hyper alert. I got out of the car and the edging of leaves in the tree opposite where crystal clear and vibrant.  I felt in a total daze all afternoon, high, and giggling to myself.

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That evening i made time for a bath and hung out with robin – something which was far less common in this pregnancy. The reality of being parents and realising just how much ‘free time’ we had before a gorgeous small human occupied on average 90% of our energy day to day.

We put on face masks, Robin rubbed my feet and legs and we did a birth meditation together.

I woke at 12am alert. My usual frustration at the pregnancy insomnia had been replaced by a calm feeling, I sat in the silence of night and made lists (hilarity!!).

- Shit we need to do for the birth.
- Shit we need to put away (aka throw in the attic) before the birth.
- Lovely things to do with Leo and Bobby!!!!

I got into bed at 4am and falling asleep, I thought I had wet myself. Then realised, due to the Niagara Falls style flooding that was occurring, that in fact, my waters had broke. 

This was exactly the same as my first pregnancy. Weirdly I am that 4% statistic and my waters were my first sign that baby was coming. I was flooded with excitement and joy and then utter shock. Shit we have so much to do, and this was supposed to be our day to do it. Robin had taken the Monday off, so we could basically do all the stuff we hadn’t had time to do in prep for the birth. 

The livingroom (aka the birth cave) was full of boxes from the attic. The birth pool was in a bag in the corner yet to be set up for a test run. I hadn’t finished my playlist. We didn’t have spare towels, the freezer wasn’t stocked… I sat and mentally ordered the lists I had just made, chuckling to myself about the power of intuition and magical universal order… The night before I had made birth chocolates, my recipe I had used in the last 3 births I had attended. Great for a high energy boost and for helping with the 3rd stage…. fluke perhaps.

I instantly wanted to tell robin but resisted and let him sleep. 
I got up with leo at 5am and by 6am could wait no longer. I woke robin, who sat bolt upright and said ‘FUCK! Amazing… shit we better get on it!’.

I left him with a cup of tea told him to chill and read through the list. I also got him to read something I had spontaneously written 2 nights before. My birth visualisation, which had just come to me, so I scribbled it down. Not a birth plan but a journey through this birth, how I felt in each phase, what I would be doing, how robin was supporting me.

At 7am I messaged Nicola our doula and told her I felt this birth was going to be fast. She reminded me of last time and said it might not all start for another 12hours or so like the first time. The oracle (aka Nicola) was of course right!

 

The Birth Cave - Getting Ready for a homebirth

We had a morning of doing, Robin dropped leo at nursery and did the practical shit, chucking stuff into the attic, setting up the pool, an essentials trip to the shop. I had a quick nesting session, cleaning and tidying and getting a small collection of essentials for me - birth face spritz, birth oils, face towels, rescue Remedy, lip balm, bobbles, head torch. I then set about preparing the birth cave while taking little rests to do some yoga or talk to baby. I made the space dark, sorted lightening, padded the floor with mats and towels and hung my birth affirmations up around the pool and the wee shrine I had made a week before. As I hung the affirmations I repeated them to myself and baby trying to breath and seal them in.

 I finished my playlist then lay down and listened to a birth visualisation. I slept until robin got back.

We had a beautiful day pottering, listening to music and talking excitedly about the birth and meeting our baby. I continued to feel tightening’s, but they were honestly enjoyable and totally manageable as I either rolled on the birth ball, swayed and circled my hips or rocked back and forth in a lunge.

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 Friends had kindly picked up our son, so we could have abit more time on our own. I knew I wanted to go outside even though it was raining. So, at 5pm we went for what I call the ‘birth walk’ through the woods and park. I was let’s just say high as a kite. I looked like my former 20 something self-coming back from an all-night rave. Wearing Sunglasses and a snow jacket and honestly feeling like I was slightly removed from my physical body. I floated along next to robin, smiling and giggling and totally no clue of what he was talking about.

 Me high as a kite ready for the labour walk to bring baby home!

Me high as a kite ready for the labour walk to bring baby home!

The Dream Team - honouring the birthing mama

At 6.30pm we were just coming home, and I had my first sensation that stopped me in my tracks. I turned and leaned against my neighbour’s wall and breathed through an intense aching deep in my lower belly and back. I then felt a distinct change, I got robin to help me back to the house and had another on the stairs. I got in and went straight to ‘the birth cave’. I knew leo would be home soon and I wanted to see him before he went to bed so he would know what was happening. He came back and bounced on the ball with me, happy and cuddling.

I felt I could manage the sensations until robin had finished putting him to bed but they suddenly they were coming thick and fast. Robin called Nicola so I wouldn’t be on my own for too long.

Nicola, (aka mama moon, oracle, nicapedia) arrived at 7.45pm and robin followed soon after. I remember Nicola floated in as she had for my first sons birth, nestling herself in like she’d always been there. For a labouring woman I can’t explain the impact of having a birthing mama there with you, holding space, it’s like the ultimate exhale, the body softens, the heart rate drops, the release is felt like a comforting hug. That’s how I felt when robin and Nicola where both there. I was ready. I remember telling her I was off my face and feeling amazing! She nodded and smiled and I can’t remember what she said but it was probably something like – ‘good love, that’s perfect’.

 

The rest was quick and I can only describe as an intense, spellbinding, mesmerising trip.

And just like that, like a switch had been flipped to say – baby in bed, awesome birth team assembled, let’s do this! My uterus responded, baby responded, and the oxytocin flooded in and the next hour and 20 minutes was like a hazy, crazy dream.

I spent the next 3 contractions standing in a wide legged goddess stance feeling my baby as it moved deeper into the widest part of my pelvis, and then moving to the floor, lunging back and forth until the peak of the sensation passed and resting my head to the ground bum in the air relishing in the sweet calm before the next one came.

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 I then knew I had to go the toilet, I squatted and stayed there as the sensations grew deeper and lower radiating all across my lower back, abdomen and around my pubic bone. I remember Nicola saying as I worried I’d never get off the toilet, ‘that’s great, your bodies just making space, just as long as it doesn’t feel like a head is coming out’ we all laughed (humour is sooo good in the birth space). I then had to move, it was too intense to squat, I couldn’t breathe fully enough, I tried to move but had to grab the side of the bath to lean over… I then was taken aback, I could actually feel and visualise where baby’s head was, moving down through the inlet of my pelvis and I felt an almighty pressure on my pubic symphysis joint, it felt like it was going to split open, so I started rocking and circling my hips and with help moved back to the ‘birth cave’. I remained in a high squat and leaned over the birth pool curling my tail under at the most intense point. I could feel babies head was descending fast. I was then totally overwhelmed by the pressure, speed and intensity. Nicola and robin encouraged me to get in the pool which honestly, I’d forgotten about. I climbed in and sank into the water feeling again that deeply comforting feeling, my muscles, body and breath melting into the warm water.

At this point another rush of intensity fully immersed me like a wave. This analogy is so often used in birth preparation, hypnobirthing etc but it is exactly how this felt. I was not doing anything, my body had been taken over by this high octane frequency and I could do nothing to stop it. It was mighty, otherworldy and totally overwhelming the intensity in my back passage. I was suddenly overtaken with fear… shit this is way to intense already and I still must have ages to go, I can’t manage any more of these, its too much.

I remember very distinctly that my head was saying; ‘remember last time, you thought the head was coming but it took along time, baby kept moving down, then back up. There is no way you are there yet’. Then my heart telling me; ‘baby is coming, baby will be here very soon’.

I didn’t have time to acknowledge anything else, as I rocked back and forth on my knees, I knew another one was coming and said, I cant do this, Nicola took my hand whispering encouragement and robin looked into my eyes, holding my shoulders and in that moment, I felt the power and strength of all 3 of us. I glanced at all my affirmations around me, I knew my body and my baby were going to do this and I just had to breathe fully and deeply through every sensation, every frequency without resistance. So thats what I did.

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The midwife arrived around the time that I knew baba’s head was crowning. I was in disbelief, surely not. I didn’t want to trust what my heart was telling me incase it was wrong. I had got so immensely overbearing so fast. I must have breathed out the words again, I can’t do this, as both the midwide and Nicola sung, you are doing beautifully, baby is nearly hear, just keep breathing baby out.. The midwife tried to listen in to the heart but I was fully in the throes of another one and she said ‘well you are doing beautifully, I’m going to put these away, baby will be here any minute.’

 

I was still taken aback by the speed, how had this happened so quickly, surely this wasn’t the head already crowning, maybe we still had a long way to go. But I knew it was. I looked up and saw the string of affirmations I had hung that morning. I saw ‘Be.Here.Now. I knew baby would be here in the next minute or two and I had to fully dive in and embrace every moment.

At the most intense point of each sensation I instinctively dipped my head forward and blew bubbles into the water, this was all I could do. It felt like a universally charged energy, like the raw energy of light was passing through me, and my only power, the only thing I could do was breathe and let it happen. My body and my baby were moving together. I physically did nothing at this stage, no pushing, no holding, just breathing in and out and moving my body forward and back on my knees. I could then feel the burning sensation as the head was crowning. I grabbed robins arms (apparently nearly pulled him in), and bore my eyes deep into his, without a word I felt as though I was passing the sensation through us both, liquifying and diluting it. Then there was a release… surely not I thought as I felt with my hand and was stunned to find the head had been born. I was in shock, how can that be. Then with the next wave the body literally shot out. I was in disbelief, as I leaned back against the pool and saw my baby right there in the water. Pure Bliss.

Birthing the Placenta - my soul meets your soul

The rest was a sweet love haze I don’t fully remember. I stayed in the pool while baby found the breast. I remember drinking some gorgeously sweet cinnamon tea, Nicola had made, and one of Gloria Le May’s recipes for helping to birth the placenta. I told everyone to have a chocolate Id made to help with birthing the placenta and lay my head back listening to the happy soft chatter of everyone. There were no sensations to suggest the placenta was coming but I knew it would. I eventually got out of the pool with baby and lay on the couch as the 2nd midwife arrived. I later sat on the toilet with a bowl to catch the placenta which I could feel moving as I squatted. It then came out and I rested back on the sofa with my beautiful buddha boy and Robin. I don’t know how long we stayed like that letting it all sink in. I looked at the placenta and traced the cord back to the baby’s tummy and marvelled at this otherworldy organ, a soulful entity uniting two beings - mind-blowing.

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It was 10.30. The birth had started in ernest at around 7pm and baby Rumi Rae came earth side at just after 9pm. The placenta was born at 10.30pm and the cord was then cut before 11pm. I was checked over by Carol my lovely midwife and had no tears or grazes. My gorgeous baby boy had come with the power of a lightening bolt and as gentle as the night.

Me, Robin and Rumi were tucked up in bed by 12.30am.

 

The next morning Leo came through at 6am to meet his baby brother, his beaming face is forever imprinted in my mind and heart.

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Three became Four.

 

A truly magical, electrically charged, transformative experience. Light years away from my first homebirth in its unfolding, equally beautiful, lifechanging and empowering an experience.


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Tx


If you would like to share your birth story please get in touch I would love to hear from you!

 




 

WAITING FOR BABY.... 5 WAYS TO RELEASE & EMBRACE YOUR BIRTH

Making space for birth... ways to release, relax and let go.

So the topic of ‘due dates’ comes up a lot in my pregnancy classes and workshops. So, do questions about how to best prepare or get ready for birth, and how to avoid the often dreaded topic among expectant mamas of ‘induction’.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, there are many ways to help support and prepare a woman and her partner physically, mentally and emotionally for their birthing experience and you can read more here about support, yoga, nutrition. Today though I wanted to share about the need to address or shed any mental or emotional holding in order to release and make that much needed internal space to welcome your baby into the world. As Pam England states in the wonderful book ‘birthing from within’;

“Childbirth is a profound rite of passage, not a medical event.

The essence of childbirth preparation is self-discovery not assimilating obstetric information….

it is a continually evoling process, not a static structure of techniques and knowledge.’

Due Date looming....

The whole idea of ‘due date’ and the increasing pressure applied to pregnant women to go into spontaneous labour very close to or on their calculated due date is immense.

We know the stats for women giving birth on their due date is a tiny 4%. Today in the UK, 1 in 5 labours are induced and what I have increasingly found as a doula and birth support, listening to, teaching and learning from women during pregnancy is that they feel a real pressure regarding induction. A feeling that the clock is ticking as they near that 40th week and for many even earlier. The impact is their focus and attention moves away from their body and into their brain.

Now I must add here that I fully advocate and encourage that women understand all their options and choices in birth. It is important that women are informed in a totally balanced and unbiased way of the benefits and that they feel supported with whatever choice they make. We know that this support impacts directly on women’s positive experiences of birth. Yet I feel we have to look more closely at what it is we are communicating to women about their ability to birth in the process.

So for this post I wanted to shift the focus point away from intervention and managed birth and back to the woman. To explore how we can reframe the societal imprint that birth is something difficult and dangerous that we have to manage and instead look at how we can begin to nurture women’s trust and faith in their bodies, their babies and the physiological process of birth. 

 

I’m over due… what now? 

Climbing out of the attic - Feeling over thinking.

Often one of the biggest obstacles for an overdue mama is often not the body, but the mind and external pressure. There are lots of great posts about natural induction methods and how to encourage spontaneous labour (see links below), but here I want to highlight the importance RELEASING, and exploring ways to let go to make some internal space in preparation for birth. 

Birth is a visceral not an intellectual experience. Women need to be encouraged to actively climb out of ‘the attic’ of their mind and dive deep into their heart and soul. The ‘expert’ in birth is the birthing woman, and the doctor, midwife, doula or birth support teams role is to protect and honour her birthing space, listen to and allow her to birth without interruption (unless medical assistance is needed).

 

'With great respect and love

I honour my heart

My inner teacher'.

 

 

5 Ways to prepare for spontaneous labour 

Ultimately baby will come when baby is ready but any activity in that lead up to your labour day which helps you to feel supported, loved and protected is so important. Here are some practical tools to help release tension, address fears and foster self belief, to support a physiological, spontaneous labour. 

1. Emotional Release - Have a good cry!     

 An emotional release or a good cry can sometimes be just the ticket. I’ve found over the last few years supporting women that after a strong emotional release, labour often swiftly follows. Some women as they move into the ‘overdue’ period (technically from 42 weeks but which seems to be suggested as starting from 40 weeks) can feel overwhelmed with worries, thoughts and external pressures and for some women this isn't always conscious. 

Often an emotional release is a way of the body processing or letting go of held tension. This might be through uncontrollable laughter, a good scream, or cry. I’ve both seen and listened to women recall a real dip in mood or uncontrollable weeping in women just before their labour starts.

There is such a complex range of emotions, thoughts and physical feelings which come throughout pregnancy and which for many women are heightened during those final weeks. In the world we now live in there is not much we have to wait for so patiently and waiting for the unknown is challenging. 

Letting emotion come without need to label or judge it as ‘bad’ or ‘good’ but rather allowing yourself an outlet for expressing it, will help to create internal space and release so you can relax and trust the birthing process. 

Kevar Whilby.jpg

 

2. Get it on - intimacy and the calm connection response

Intimacy and making love when the woman and partner feel comfortable is such a powerful way to help release held tension, both physical and emotional in the body. It is also an act which encourages us to FEEL, rather than THINK and importantly stimulates release of oxytocin in the body. In those last 4 to 6 weeks leading up to labour, there is a natural and steady hormonal increase of both oxytocin and prolactin in the body and one of the most powerful ways to encourage this release of oxytocin, is through intimacy and touch. 

Oxytocin plays an essential role in the calm and connection response in the body and supports well-known qualities such as receptivity, closeness, openness, nurturing and nourishment. The calm and connection reaction is marked by lowered heart rate, blood pressure, and lowered levels of the stress hormone cortisol, all of which are the building blocks for a physiological birth. However you could say oxytocin is a shy hormone which is why a labouring woman needs to feel totally unthreatened and unobserved to facilitate this delicate balance of hormones.

Ways to stimulate this calm and connection response?

  • A warm bath

  • Massage

  • Sex

  • Meditation or any conscious, mindful breathing

  • Hugs!

  • Gentle touch, caresses or strokes from a loved one

  • Take a peaceful walk in nature

  • Feeling the warmth of the sun on your body

  • Gentle yoga or movement

  • Laughter – watch a favourite movie or series

  • Disconnect - especially toward the end of pregnancy withdraw from heightened drama and stimulation from media/news/devises.

 

3. Clear your mind

Today our ability to access information is immense and all consuming. In daily life we are surrounded by visual, auditory and kinaesthetic stimulus. As a pregnant woman it can be very difficult to differentiate from the learned social, cultural, familial and medical opinions, views, beliefs and advice about birth, and find space instead to trust and listen to our own hearts.

As a woman preparing to birth her baby the challenge is to reduce the chatter of the mind and preconceived notions, expectation or judgement about birth and make space to really feel and open and welcome whatever experience, surprises, intensity or challenges arise.

  • Take some time to sit quietly

  • Away from distractions

  • Turn of devises

  • Light a candle

  • Or play some relaxing music

  • Or enjoy the stillness of silence

  • Find a comfortable position where you can sit with a long tall spine (lean against something or lie down if that suits)

  • Focus for a few moments on your breath

  • Feel the rhythm and length of your inhale & exhale.

  • Observe how you don't have to 'DO ANYTHING' the breath will look after itself

 

4. Make friends with fear.

As Michel Odent suggests, the fear of losing control experienced near the end of labour is needed to facilitate the physiological process of birth. We need that heightened peak of adrenaline to give us the energy to birth our baby. Adrenaline and fear are not the enemies in birth, however too much adrenaline in the body in the lead up to birth can draw a woman into a high alert ‘fight or flight’ response. This highly active 'doing' mode results in increased cortisol and suppresses the production of oxytocin in the body.

 

Below are some practical ways to address and explore your fears, so you can acknowledge and begin to process them. Before you try the suggestions below, it can be helpful to take a moment to clear your mind as described above.

  •  Identify your Paper tigers;

‘In appearance it is very powerful but in reality, it is nothing to be afraid of; it is a paper tiger. Outwardly a tiger, it is made of paper, unable to withstand the wind and the rain.’

It is totally normal to feel apprehensive, scared or even fearful and most women have experienced these emotions at some point during their pregnancy, be it imagined or suggested.

Fear is a physiological part of labour and most often near the transition phase women will be confronted by fear. This is usually the point that signals they are very close to meeting their baby and where the the birthing woman support team play a valuable role in making her feel secure, protected and empowered to trust herself and let go.

it is a really invaluable practice to explore some of your fears during pregnancy and to make peace with this process, rather than being first confronted by this when you are in labour.

Below are some questions you could explore;

FIRST;

·     Write down your hopes for birth?

·     What do you feel women fundamentally need for their birth?

THEN ;

·     What are your fears about birth?

·     What do you feel most strongly about my birth?

·     How have you faced challenge in the past?

·     What could I do to prepare for or even prevent what I am worrying about?

·     What questions do I want answered?

 

  • Create some Positive Affirmations

A great way to process fears and use them constructively, is to create personal affirmations (visual or written). Again this comes back to empowering and owning your birth experience by cultivating your inner belief, trust, strength and resilience to birth your baby.

To benefit from this its important to really embrace these affirmations; put them up where you can see them, repeat them to yourself verbally or mentally. Feel them, visualise them, really BREATHE THEM IN and let them anchor. See the affirmation as a seed, and the more you repeat and absorb it the more your belief in it will grow and flourish. 

  • Release held tension - Breathing with sound

Using sound with the exhale is an excellent way to help draw the attention away from the mind, to calm the nervous system and lead the body into a really healing stillness.

  • Settle in a comfortable position

  • Start inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth

  • Take a few moments to feel the natural rhythm of your breath

  • Consciously relax your face, jaw by allowing the the back teeth to Un-grip

  • Draw your shoulders away from your ears to relax the neck

  • Try licking your lips or yawning to relax your lips and mouth

  • Take a few exhales to let a sigh release as you exhale

  • Breath and feel the waves of breath releasing tension

  • Take a few rounds of breath like this

  • Now you can begin to introduce sound with the exhale

  • Let the breath be natural and slowly let each exhale extend as the sound draws out.

  • Allow the lips and jaw to soften and let the sound vibration move through the body to release held tension

  • Try the following sounds;

  • Ahhhhh’ ‘OOOoooohh’ ‘MMmmmmm’..

  • Then sounding out the vowel sounds; “AAAAAAaaaa’, ‘EEEEEeeeee’, ‘IIIIiiiiiii’, ‘OOOOOooooooo’ ‘UUuuuu’

 

5. Self Expression

 Photo Credit: Photo by RhondaK Native Florida Folk Artist on Unsplash.jpg

Photo Credit: Photo by RhondaK Native Florida Folk Artist on Unsplash.jpg

Finding a way to actively and creatively express yourself is a fundamental part of moving out of your head and to a place driven by feeling and trusting your intuition.

Exploration of this nature helps us to process and bring to consciousness our strengths and sometimes over looked resources and also identifies obstacles and inhibitions.

One thing that we know is that for physiological birth to take place the neo cortex functioning needs to be reduced. Language is verbal communication is something which can greatly hinder a woman’s visceral response to birth. In this same way, to really move inward and connect on a deeper level during pregnancy it can be most effective to explore non-verbal forms of expression and communication to really tune into our inner psyche and remove or reduce the influence of external restrictions or impressions from social or cultural beliefs.1  

  • Journalling

Without direction just noting down what comes into your head, how you feel, what you’ve done etc

  • Drawing / doodling / Birth art

Again without direction or and end goal, draw, make marks or colour. Mandalas, spirals and labrinths have all 

  • Recalling your dreams

it’s really common to have very vivid dreams during pregnancy - this maybe in part to do with hormonal changes in the body and waking during a dream as a result of babies movements. 

Why not use your dreams as inspiration for your journaling or birth art! This is another way to explore hopes/fears/wishes/anxieties that maybe held in the body on a deeper unconscious level.

 

Trust yourself mama...

Trust your body....

Know your baby is coming....

 

 

 

Further reading if you want to know more about induction, and natural ways to bring on labour…

 

Links / Reference

https://evidencebasedbirth.com/evidence-on-inducing-labor-for-going-past-your-due-date/

https://midwifethinking.com/2013/03/27/feel-the-fear-and-birth-anyway/

http://www.sarawickham.com/articles-2/ten-things-i-wish-every-woman-knew-about-induction-of-labour-the-article/

https://www.bellybelly.com.au/birth/how-to-bring-on-labour-naturally/

http://www.sarawickham.com/research-updates/keeping-birth-normal-by-reducing-inductions/

Books

Birthing from within – Pam England & Rob Horowitz 

Eat Pray Doula – Robin Lim

The Oxytocin factor – Kerstin Uvnas Moberg

5 YOGA POSES TO DO DURING PREGNANCY

Here are 5 key yoga poses to include in your practice to support you during pregnancy. With regular practice they can help to support the changes occurring in your body as your baby grows, to nurture your own needs in pregnancy and can help you to prepare physically, emotionally and mentally for a calm and connected birth experience.    

You can also check out my previous post all about why yoga is so beneficial during pregnancy and how it can impact positively on your birthing experience.

 

SOLE TO SOUL – The importance of finding your feet.

So firstly I have to just talk about feet! The feet are like the gateway to your whole body. Working upward from your foundation, connecting with your feet is like establishing your root system and helps you to feel grounded and stabilised.  Anatomically the soles of the feet map out the whole of your body. Your feet communicate and act like a mirror to the wings of your pelvis. Awakening and activating the feet is vital to ensuring the support and integrity of the pelvis during pregnancy, birth and beyond. Connecting to the ball joints of the big and little toe and the outer edges of the heel will automatically create a drawing up of the pelvis and switch on the muscles around the hips and up to the abdomen. Take time to get to know your feet, nurture them, massage them (better still get someone else to do it!). Take some time every day to stand and explore your centre of gravity, as your body is constantly changing and evolving. This is so significant if you are experiencing any pelvic girdle pain.

For all the poses featured here let the quality of your breath be your key focus and establish a strong connection with your feet. Think about expanding the breath, creating more space and a deeper connection with your body, your baby and how things feel from the inside out, working up from your feet. Let your breath guide you through your yoga practice and if something doesn’t feel right just DON’T DO IT. Through your yoga practice you are helping to cultivate your inner knowing and learning to listen to and trust your instincts, this is one of the most invaluable parts of practising yoga during pregnancy.

Keep these words in mind when you practice;

SOFT

SLOW

NOURISHING

 

5 beneficial yoga poses for pregnancy and birth.

 

HIGH (CRESCENT) LUNGE

WHY BOTHER?

Lunges require major activation of the gluteus (butt) muscles to achieve stability and balance. The gluteus medius is the muscle responsible for stabilising the pelvis, therefore it’s important to support the mobility of this muscle during pregnancy.

This yoga pose actively helps to stretch the psoas muscle. The psoas attaches to the spine, connects the upper and lower half of the body and plays an integral role in the quality and depth of the breath, as it connects to the diaphragm. This muscle is embedded in the structure either side of the spine and runs from the spinal column (T12) to the top of the femur (thigh) bone. As a result, it can influence the position of the baby as it enters the pelvic brim.

 

 Hands can remain on your waist to stabilise. 

Hands can remain on your waist to stabilise. 

 LOW LUNGE Option - Rest the back knee down if you are tired.

LOW LUNGE Option - Rest the back knee down if you are tired.

BENEFITS

  • Helps to lengthen hamstring and front quadricep.
  • Helps open and lengthen the psoas muscle, as the origin and focus of the movement comes from the groin.
  • Supports balance of the pelvis for optimal foetal engagement (aka easier engagement of baby into the pelvis).
  • Improves balance and stability by strengthening the gluteus muscles.
  • Great preparation for birthing a larger baby. 

HOW DO I DO THIS POSE?

Stand at the top of your mat, with hands on hips step your right leg back.

Keep the back heel lifted, both feet are facing toward the front of the mat.

Step your feet wider for more stability and balance.

Inhale deeply into your chest.

Exhale bend into both knees and repeat slowly with the breath a few times to warm the knees and hip flexors (posas).

Then take a few breaths lengthening out through your back heel. Back leg can be straight or with a soft bend.

Direct your exhales down to your pelvis, the focus of the stretch is in the hips and groin.

Soften your jaw and find a comfortable position for your neck gazing forward.

Option to lengthen arms overhead shoulder width and energise through to the finger tips 

Inhale press from back foot and step forward.

Do a few hips circles with feet parallel at the top of your mat.

Repeat stepping back the left foot.

REPEAT: 5-10 breaths on each leg

MODIFICATIONS

Take a short stance if you have any pelvic girdle pain.

If you are tired do the same poses with the back knee lowered to the mat (Low Lunge) and take padding under the knee.

If you have high blood pressure practice with your hands on your waist.

 

 WINDMILLS (PRASARITA PADOTTANASANA)

WHY BOTHER?

This wide angled forward bend with an open twist is an excellent yoga pose for strengthening the spinal muscles, helping to relieve lower back discomfort, stretch the inner and back leg muscles and lengthens the hamstrings. This is a great pose to do in pregnancy to help relieve sciatic pain.

The open rotational twist in this pose is so important especially during pregnancy. But is it safe to do twists during pregnancy? Open twists where the abdominal area is not compressed are really beneficial during pregnancy. Twists help to squeeze and service the spinal column helping to improve mobility and restore vitality to your whole body. However closed twists, where the abdominal area is constricted or squeezed are not advisable to practice during pregnancy. 

 Use Props to enable the spine to remain long.

Use Props to enable the spine to remain long.

 Keep a Micro Bend in the Knee if straightening the legs

Keep a Micro Bend in the Knee if straightening the legs

BENEFITS

  • Loosens the muscles around the lower back, hamstrings and gluteus muscles, helping to relieve any pressure on the sciatic nerve, reduce or prevent sciatica.
  • Daily practice can help to release the sacral area and align the lower uterus with a more balanced pelvis.
  • Lengthens the oblique muscles in the mid back and helps to increase pelvic flexibility to support the opening around your baby during birth.

HOW DO I DO THIS POSE?

Step one foot out so you have a wide stance, facing the long edge of your yoga mat with your feet parallel.

Take your props and place them where you can reach them once you have folded forward.

Take an inhale from standing and forward fold as you exhale placing your hands on the props or to the floor if that is appropriate.

Inhale reach your right arm up and feel the energy spread all the way to your fingertips.

Exhale lower your arm and connect with the feeling of stability and support through your feet and pelvis.

Inhale raise your left arm and continue with the breath twisting side to side.

Ensure the spine remains long and adjust props so you can avoid any rounding in the back. 

You may look up toward your raised arm if it feels comfortable, otherwise look to the side or down.

REPEAT: Up to 8-10 times Daily.

MODIFICATIONS

If the spine is rounding, use blocks or cushions under your hand. 

You can equally do this pose resting one hand on a sofa or the end of a bed, so you have more height and can lengthen the spine. If you have pelvic girdle pain take a shorter stance and use props as above.

 

SUPPORTED SQUAT (MALASANA)

WHY BOTHER?

Squats help to open the pelvis and releases the birthing muscles from the tightening effects of sitting. Squats have a really grounding quality, helping you to connect with your feet, the earth beneath you and to the downward flow of energy in the body (apana). This can be so beneficial during pregnancy as it helps you to feel connected to the earth, to mother nature and to a deeper universal support and wisdom you can call on during birth.

BENEFITS

  • Improves Joint and perineal flexibility
  • Tones the entire lower body; quads, hamstrings, glutes, lower back
  • Stretches groin, inner thighs and hips
  • Strengthens the thighs
  • Stimulates digestion
  • Activates and improves your birthing stamina
  • Brings strength and vitality into your pelvis and back muscles.
  • Opens the pelvis up to 30% more

HOW DO I DO THIS POSE?

Take your feet at least hips distance and turn your toes out.

Have your props ready in position to lower down onto  (a bolster, cushions, a low stool).

Slowly with your exhale bend your knees and lower down to your props. 

Knees should be roughly in line with the direction of your toes.

Use the props to offer some support but don’t collapse all your weight onto them.

Focus on lengthening and straightening your back from the crown to the tail bone.

Take a few breaths, focus on lengthening with the inhale and exhale down into your pelvis, really visualise the opening and space you have to birth your baby as you do this.

Slowly press into the feet and on an inhale, use your hands on your thighs to come up or slowly sit back

REPEAT: 30 secs to start – if comfortable you can work up to 1 min and repeat several times a day.

MODIFICATIONS

Do not squat if your baby is breech.

Take sufficient support and height under your seat – If the lower back is rounding, or you feel you are collapsing in the ankles, knees or chest, sit up higher.

If you have knee injuries or pelvic girdle pain, avoid this pose if there is any discomfort.

It is advised not to practice deep, unsupported squats in the last few weeks of pregnancy or if your baby is breech.

If your heels don’t touch the floor roll up the end of your mat or use a folded blanket or block.

 

CAT COW (PELVIC TILTS)

WHY BOTHER?

This pose helps to strengthen and stretch your spine and relieve common lower back ache, pain and pelvic girdle discomfort. This is a pose many women naturally adopt during labour to alleviate pressure and discomfort in their back.

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BENEFITS

  • Soothes lower back ache
  • Lubricates the spine to avoid discomfort
  • Can help encourage baby to engage into the pelvis 
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HOW DO I DO THIS POSE?

Come to a table top position with a flat back.

Hands are under shoulders with your middle finger pointing to the front of your mat.

Knees hip distance or slightly wider if more comfortable.

Inhale deeply here feeling breath expand and lengthen the front body and open the chest.

Exhale round your back, tuck your chin and letting your abdominals hug baby in, feeling everything move toward your spine or back body.

Inhale return to a flat back then exhale repeat as above, rounding your back.

Rhythmically move your body at your own pace through this sequence up to 5 times with your breath.

REPEAT: 5 times synchronising with your breath.

MODIFICATIONS

You can take padding under your knees or wrists. 

If your wrists are very tight or aching take them slightly forward of the shoulders or rest your fore arms on a block/bolster/cushions.

 

SUPPORTED WIDE LEGGED FORWARD FOLD (UPAVISTA KONASANA)

WHY BOTHER?

This supported wide legged forward fold helps to increase pelvic mobility and is really beneficial during pregnancy as it helps to relax the pelvic floor muscles. The pelvis is stabilised and anchored in this pose helping you to feel grounded and supported.

Regular practice can help you to connect and feel confident about your body’s ability to open, widen and soften, trusting the space you have in your pelvis to birth your baby

 

 You can use props here, to rest forward onto.

You can use props here, to rest forward onto.

BENEFITS

lengthens the spine and helps to relieve tension in the lower back

Stretches inner thighs, hips and groin.

Can help to alleviate pelvic girdle pain

Enhances the release of tension through the spine, shoulders and neck.

Widens the diameter of the pelvic canal – helping to establish a feeling of openness.

Lengthens and releases backs of legs and inner thighs

 

HOW DO I DO THIS POSE?

Sit comfortably taking something under your seat so you can lengthen through the spine.

Have your props in reaching distance (cushions, bolster, blocks or a rolled blanket).

Draw the legs out to s comfortable distance, lifting the toes up and connecting heels toward the ground.

Inhale to sit up tall and slowly as you exhale settle forward.

Gently rest your head onto your prop so you can relax and release with your breath.

Each inhale find length in the spine and roll the thigs up and back gently.

Draw the chin in slightly to lengthen the back of the neck and actively relax throat, neck and jaw with the exhale.

If repeating you may have space to take the legs wider – but go gently, respect your body, let go of competition or a need to do more and feel into what is right in the moment, knowing it will change every time.

REPEAT: 5-10 Breaths (option to repeat 2ndround).

 

MODIFICATIONS

A folded blanket, or cushion under your seat can help to create length and space in the lower back if you feel you are rounding.

Keep the legs closer together if there is any discomfort in the backs of the knees or if I pelvic girdle pain.

You can also take some soft support (a folded blanket), under the knees if you feel discomfort there.

If you are feeling tired you can do this pose upright leaning against a wall to support the spine and leave out the forward fold.

 

TO FINISH THE MOST IMPORTANT POSE OF ALL TO FINISH YOUR PRACTICE...


 RELAXATION - SHAVASANA

WHY BOTHER?

Relaxation involves letting go, surrendering and allowing both your body and mind to release. This is the time when you can seal in all the benefits of your practice and allow your body to absorb and integrate all that you have learned. I could write a whole post about this and will do at some point but for now lets just say....DONT LEAVE THIS ONE OUT!!!

 Use Props to get as comfy as possible!

Use Props to get as comfy as possible!

BENEFITS

  • Helps soothe the nervous system
  • Focuses and calms the mind
  • Relaxes the physical body
  • Balances Emotions

HOW DO I DO THIS POSE?

At the end of each practice make time for relaxation.

Ideally give yourself 10 minutes, 5 minutes as a minimum if possible. 

Lie on your left side with support under your left knee and ankle, your right leg can be straight or bent.

Draw your right shoulder blade forward so you are resting on the shoulder blade NOT the edge of your shoulder.

Place a cushion under your head and make sure your spine and neck feel supported (you can place a bolster or cushion behind the spine).

Take your time to get settled and really comfortable, then focus on the natural rhythm of your breath, in and out. 

Don't worry if your mind wonders or thoughts come into your head - acknowledge them and then return your attention and focus to the breath.

To finish, draw your attention back to your baby maybe placing a hand there and feel your breath in your belly around your baby.

Tae some time to deepen your breath and only make small movements when you feel the urge.

Come up slowly.

 

ENJOY MAMAS x

 

 

WHY DO PREGNANCY YOGA?

How can pregnancy yoga help? 

Becoming a mother is a very personal, transformative and profound experience. Practicing yoga during pregnancy can help a woman to cultivate strength, awareness and emotional wellbeing, to embrace the changes taking place, to feel empowered and to prepare for childbirth and motherhood, physically, mentally and emotionally. 

IMG_6364.JPG

As your baby grows, pregnancy yoga can help to strengthen, tone and make more space for your growing baby. 

Pregnancy yoga can offer a little piece of sanctuary, providing a safe, supportive space to cultivate connection and awareness.

 Many women who practice yoga during pregnancy, comment on the positive impact of yoga in building their awareness of their breath and praise the use of conscious breathing techniques to manage and even eliminate pain, intensity and anxiety during labour. 

Pregnancy yoga is a safe and highly complementary practice during pregnancy, helping to foster a sense of calm, strength and inner balance so women feel empowered and equipped to navigate the many changes and challenges of pregnancy, birth and motherhood.

 

What is pregnancy Yoga?

Yoga is a wonderful practice to do during pregnancy as the essence of this ancient practice embodies the ‘union’ of mind, body and breath.  The developmental, physiological and emotional changes which happen during pregnancy are supported by the practices of movement and asana (poses), breath awareness and breathing techniques (pranayama), meditation and relaxation. These practices can help to support the many transitions of pregnancy, alleviate common symptoms throughout this transformative time and help you to feel more connected and in tune with your body, your baby and your breath.

There are many different schools of yoga, but all emphasise the importance of breathwork, relaxation and mindful movement. Pregnancy is not a time to overexert yourself but rather a time to cultivate deep respect and self-love. Practising yoga during pregnancy can help you to prioritise nourishing and caring for yourself and your baby, making space just for you and acknowledging just how precious pregnancy is as a time in your life. 

IMG_6366.JPG

When can I start pregnancy Yoga?

Most pregnancy yoga classes may specify that you can attend any time from 12 weeks of pregnancy. This will depend on the teacher and it is best to connect and discuss this directly with a specialised pregnancy yoga teacher 

It is important to find a teacher that you trust and feel comfortable with, so you feel both supported and at ease within the class. Think about what you would like to get out of the class and let that be your focus rather than a class which is nearest or at the studio or centre you already attend. Some pregnancy yoga classes may incorporate birth preparation, relaxation and visualisation and open discussion whereas some classes may focus primarily on a yoga sequence of movements or poses adapted for pregnancy. 

 

I’ve never done yoga before.

Anyone can do yoga during their pregnancy, in fact it is a really wonderful time to start and can offer such a powerful opportunity to really embrace all that is happening and use the practices of breathwork, movement and relaxation to feel a little more ‘at home’ in the physical body.

 

Why should I do Pregnancy Yoga?

The practice of yoga should evolve with you as you journey through your pregnancy and prepare for life as a mother.

1st Trimester

During your first trimester it is vital to listen carefully to your body and take this time to really connect with the body’s innate wisdom, letting that be your guide for any activity. It is advisable to avoid any strenuous exercise during the early stages of pregnancy, as your baby develops from an embryonic cell into a growing fetus and makes its home in your uterus. This is a great time for a more meditative practice and very gentle movement. A perfect opportunity to give yourself space and time to really absorb, acknowledge and reflect on the changes taking place.

2nd Trimester

In the second trimester most women feel more energised and often find sickness and tiredness abates. This is a great time to build both physical, mental and emotional strength and stamina exploring standing postures, squats and poses that focus on building awareness of the freedom around the hips and pelvis, to prepare physically for birth.  Gentle movement and exercising your body using asana can help to cultivate deeper awareness, trust and intuition for the needs of yourself and your baby.

3rd Trimester

During the final trimester towards the end of pregnancy the emphasis is on cultivating a more restorative and meditative practice, exploring the power of the breath and its relative influence over both the mind and body. The use of breathing techniques, meditation, visualisation and positive affirmation is a really powerful way to prepare for the process of birth and motherhood. These practices are ones which are often dismissed in our very goal orientated society where ‘doing’ and productivity is viewed in the highest regard and more contemplative, inner work can be viewed as lazy, easy, boring or pointless. It is these subtle and intricate practices which can be the most challenging and subsequently which can have the deepest cellular effect on a physical, mental and emotional level and these breathing and mindfulness practices which can provide such support during birth and motherhood.  

 

What is pregnancy yoga good for?

The yoga practices of asana, breathwork and meditation can help to nurture positive qualities such as courage, acceptance, trust and patience and encourage women to really listen to and trust their natural instincts, let go of the need to control and to surrender to the moment. These qualities are some of the most powerful and positive tools during the process of birth. By exploring and integrating these yoga practices before labour, the effect is that women then intuitively use what they need during birth, as the benefits of practices have been embodied. The emphasis within any yoga class and not least in pregnancy yoga is that there is no prescribed perfect sequence, pose or set of techniques to learn.  Yoga is such a great practice during pregnancy as it supports you to find movement and deep connection with your body, your baby and in labour to work with the natural hormones released and to discover and embrace your own power and intuitive knowing.

 

Becoming comfortable and at ease with different breath techniques and incorporating sound into these practices has a physiological impact on the body helping to relax the jaw and muscles around the pelvis and in particular sound vibration and releasing tension in the lips can impact upon cervical dilation and the physiological progression of labour. 

 

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Say hello to your pelvic floor

The pelvic floor muscles provide a multi plex hammock which attaches to your lower back and abdominal muscles. These muscles undergo significant changes during pregnancy to support your growing uterus and other organs. Deep breathing and specific stretches help to increase the elasticity of these muscles. Learning to locate, activate, isolate and relax these muscles is an important process in supporting a physiological birth and improving the efficacy of uterine contractions. 

The breathing practice and adapted yoga postures used to tone and connect with your pelvic floor in pregnancy can continue to benefit you through birth and beyond and help to boost energy and relieve pelvic pain.

 

Managing change, intensities or pain in the body - Breath is Boss

The use of breathwork and in particular the extended exhale achieved when practising the golden thread breath is the bodies antidote to pain. The exhalation is when tension and anxiety are released, reducing the feeling of pain in the body.  

Yoga offers us the opportunity to both connect and discover, leading to greater self-awareness. The breath is tone rhythm of the body we can consciously influence. Calming the breath, slows the heart rate, and moves the body into the parasympathetic nervous system and away from a ‘stress’ alert or fight or flight response. So the impact of conscious breath work techniques such as the golden thread breath help us to connect with a state of ‘feeling’ rather than ‘thinking’. This helps to shift the focus from a ‘doing’ state, to a ‘rest and digest’ response. This can actually boost vitality, and support women to honour to the emotional, spiritual and physical adjustments during pregnancy, birth and the post-natal period. 

 

Learning to listen to our bodies - Moving intuitively 

Awareness of breathing rhythms helps to relax and nurture your wellbeing which directly extends to your baby, this is significant throughout pregnancy and beyond but particularly in the latter stages of pregnancy where heightened levels of cortisol in the mother’s body can actually inhibit the onset of labour.

Yoga tunes us into our instinctual nature, so invaluable in pregnancy, birth and motherhood. Rather than relying on willpower and a need to control, yoga and use of conscious breath techniques can help us to listen to the bodies cues, to connect and bond more deeply and intuitively with our baby and respond to changes taking place calmly.

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Give it a go!

I encourage any mama to be, to explore pregnancy yoga as a means to really embrace the full spectrum of their pregnancy journey to prepare for birth and life as a mother. It can provide opportunity to feel the power and impact of community and support from a circle of women and the space and sanctuary to come home to our truest nature as we nourish and celebrate the new life within us.

 

Check out my Next post - 5 of my favourite yoga poses during pregnancy

Be sure to check out my next post on 5 yoga poses for pregnancy & birth preparation, understanding these poses are doing on a physical level and the benefits regular practice can have on an emotional and spiritual level in preparation for birth and motherhood.

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Looking for a class?

I offer weekly pregnancy yoga and birth preparation classes, for full class details check the website.

Details and updates on workshops, events and happenings can be found on the YesYoga instagram and facebook pages.