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Harper’s Birth

November 8, 2013

imageI went to sleep Thursday night feeling really restless. I had a bit of cramping and uncomfortableness but ended up finally falling asleep around 3am. My husband got up to leave for work around 6 am, shortly after he left I decided I get up to use the washroom. As I was crawling back to bed I felt a little trickle of fluid down my leg, thinking maybe I just didn’t sit long enough on the toilet I went back to the bathroom to only have the trickling continue and get heavier and heavier. I realized that my water had broken. It wasn’t a gush but enough to let me know that something was taking place.

I called my husband to let him know that “something” was happening but told him not to rush as I hadn’t experienced a surge yet. Well no sooner than five minutes after I got off the phone with him the surges started. He ended up coming home from the field and by the time he got home my surges were already 8 minutes apart. I decided to have a shower and try to relax but ended up getting a bit excited. This was my first baby and not knowing what to expect I got a tad excited when my surges quickly went from 8 min apart down to about 5 min apart. And we live about 45 minutes from the hospital. We decided we best get going.

The whole drive I practiced my breathing and visualization techniques. I was feeling very calm and in control, plus very excited. We arrived to the hospital around 8:30am. My doctor was in clinic and wasn’t able to see me until noon but by 10am my surges were coming every two minutes lasting 50-60 seconds long. They were pretty intense so I asked for another doctor to come and check me. Again being a first time mom I was convinced that since my surges were so close together that this baby must be right around the corner. Boy was I wrong. The doctor checked me and confirmed that I was only 1.5-2cm.

So I decided I would do whatever I could to speed this process along. I used my birth ball and found that sitting on it  and leaning over the bed helped a lot while my husband did some light touch massage and some pressure point on my sacrum. We continued to do this all day plus I listened to the spa channel on my iPhone which really helped me zone out and relax. The doctor came in at noon (2cm) at 4pm (3cm) at 8pm (3.5cm) and then once more at midnight where I had only progressed to 4 cm. I was feeling very tired and played out.

I found the best way to cope with the surges was to have all the lights out and to just focus on my breathing. I found it difficult to relax if people were talking around me so I had asked my family who was there with my husband and I to just keep things light and quiet. They took turns sitting in the room in the dark with me so that my husband could get a couple hours of shut eye.

I had my mother, mother in law and sister all along with us. It was super helpful having them there as a support system.

By 2 am I felt like I didn’t have a lot left in me and started to feel a bit defeated. I had walked, breathed, listened to music, light touch massage, pressure points on my wrist and ankles… Everything I could think of. I had intended to have this baby naturally but I found myself pondering some medication options as I just felt completely drained.

I had a fantastic nurse who explained to me some less invasive pain management options. At about 2:15 I decided to try some laughing gas or whatever you call it. Well that only lasted about ten minutes. I found having the mask on my face made it really hard to breathe properly and I found that it didn’t make a difference. I then opted for a small does of morphine given to me in the hip. That was enough to help me sleep through about 5 surges at a time. And then I would wake for a few and then have another mini nap.

I kept my eyes closed for almost the whole labour and tried to avoid looking at the clock. But when I opened my eyes to see the sun coming up I got very excited. I had either dilated over night or I was afraid my doctor was going to suggest we visit other options although she was very supportive of my  wanting a natural delivery.

My doctor soon came to check on me and I almost squealed with excitement when she told me I was 9.5-10 cm! I could barely believe it. She told me at 7am I’d start pushing and that I should start my hypnobirthing techniques and focus on moving that baby down over the next hour.

I honestly can say that the “pushing” phase was my favourite part. I didn’t feel any pain except for maybe some stretching-like discomfort right when her head was almost out. It was such a beautiful experience.

Harper Anne was born at 7:37am weighing in at 5lbs 14 oz and 19.5 inches long. She’s perfect and we love her to bits!!

I don’t regret having the shot of morphine as I felt its what I needed to do at the time to get through it all. Hypnobirthing certainly helped alot and I would recommend the class to everyone I meet!! Thanks again Marie!!

Written by Ebony K.

If you enjoyed reading this story, you might also enjoy the story of my son Markus’ birth

Welcome to the World Markus

At 4 days postdate I was starting to get a bit antsy waiting for baby to arrive.  Wednesday was an emotional day for me.  So that evening I decided to take my own advice and watch a love story to get the oxytocen flowing.  It seemed to work (that in combination with the acupuncture of Tuesday) and I woke up at 2:30 am with surges.  I didn’t want to get my hopes up, so I just relaxed into them and waited to see what would happen.  Sure enough they were coming consistently.  So at 3:15 am we phoned the doulas and they got on the road to Regina.  Keep Reading

 

Quinoa_SaladQuinoa Salad – Protein for Pregnancy

Quinoa is very high in protein, and it’s a complete protein.  Using it in a salad is a great way to increase your protein intake during pregnancy.  Not sure how much protein you need?  Learn more here.

For those of you new to quinoa, it is a whole grain which is naturally high in protein.  You cook quinoa as you would rice, 1 cup quinoa to two cups water for about 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed, let stand covered off heat for 5 minutes to fluff.    Keep Reading

Make Your Own Poo-Pourri

October 7, 2013

I love this great idea and super duper marketing campaign.  The ad is worth the watch just for the laughs!

If you are up for creating your own version.. here is a great recipe.

Here what you’ll need:

  • 10 drops Lemongrass Essential OilMake your own poo-pourri
  • 10 drops Grapefruit Essential Oil
  • 10 drops Bergamot Essential Oil
  • 8 ounces of water
  • (1) small spray bottle

Fill the spray bottle with 8 ounces of water, add 10 drops each of the Lemongrass, Grapefruit and Bergamot Essential Oils, and shake.

Here’s how to use:

BEFORE “nature calls”, shake the bottle again and then spritz the #2 Spray into the toilet bowl. Approximately 3 or 4 spritzes should do it. Then do your “business”. The oils will disperse over the water creating a vapor barrier and trapping any offensive odors!

I hope that helps you make the call of nature more pleasant for everyone one.

Marie

ps – I use DoTERRA essential oils because I truly believe they are the best quality oils on the market.  You can learn more by reading the post listed below.

If you liked this article, you might also like these two blog posts.

Lavender leaf and EOWhat Makes DoTERRA Essential Oils Different?

Although there are good essential oils available to consumers, many products claiming to be essential oils often are not pure aromatic extracts and often contain fillers and non-aromatic compounds. Furthermore, there are no current regulatory standards for the descriptive use of the “therapeutic grade” for products labeled as essential oils. The CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade® mark represents dōTERRA’s own internal standards for sourcing and testing 100% pure aromatic botanical extracts using independent laboratory analysis. The dōTERRA brand and registered CPTG mark represent dōTERRA’s guarantee of 100% pure essential oil extracts that meet high standards for both purity and material composition and for accurate product labeling.   Keep Reading…

Using Essential Oils for Labour and Birth

Using essential oils during your labour can be a wonderful way to support what your body is doing in a gentle and holistic way.  If you are new to the idea of essential oils, please read my earlier post about why using essential oils is safe and beneficial.

During birth there is truly a lot going on, at every level : physically, emotionally, mentally and even spiritually.  The thing I love about essential oils is that they help at all these levels and really give the body, the mind and the spirit tools to help regain balance.  Keep Reading

Henry’s Birth

August 28, 2013

DSCF1767I woke at 5:00 am on July 8th with regular surges, nine days past my guess date. I was very excited that things were finally starting, but I still tried to sleep or relax until a little later in the morning. Finally I woke my husband, Kris and we went for a walk to keep things going since the surges were still quite mild. We went and visited some friends and tried to keep moving, but close to lunch time the surges started to fade away so we met another friend for Indian food, then kept on walking. I made a special smoothie with castor oil in it in the afternoon and things really got started then. I laboured at home until 5:00 am on the 9th.

It was great to be home where I was comfortable and could move. Kris was an amazing support, and I also had two doulas, plus my mom and a very close friend. It was a bit of a party. Unfortunately there were no midwives available during my pregnancy and birth. I spent a lot of time in a warm birth pool (which was the very best pain relief!) or rolling around on a yoga ball. I listened to the “musical acupuncture” CD and used lots of different positions and deep, low vocalizations. I remembered a lot of the good advice from Hypnobirthing, yoga, and aquasize classes, and I felt relaxed and happy, even through some pretty intense moments.

I pushed at home for about 3 hours, but the baby didn’t seem to be moving much, so we decided to go to the hospital. I walked across the street and was put in a wheelchair and wheeled right into Labour and Delivery where baby Henry was born 2 hours later. His dad guided him out and put him on my tummy. I didn’t need any drugs or interventions, just a change of scenery and some new positions to push in – those beds that convert all the different ways are pretty neat, and the hospital staff were very respectful of the birth plan that we gave them. DSCF1788

It ended up being very good that we went to the hospital in the end anyway, since I lost a lot of blood right after and the placenta had to be manually extracted by a doctor with small hands and long fingers – OUCH, but I

IMG_0920

was glad to not need an epidural or tools for the process. We had some lovely cuddle time right from the start and Henry nursed well – when he could keep his eyes open. One day later we went home and I have felt pretty good since!

Henry Atticus Dueck weighed 8 pounds 15 ounces and was 23 inches longs (56 centimetres). When the maternity visiting program nurse met him a few days later she asked if he was a hypnobirthing baby, since he was so calm, which I thought was nice. We have had wonderful support from our family, friends, and community.

Written by Dennie, August 2013

If you enjoyed reading, this story, you might also enjoy…

photo (10)Reeve’s Birth Story

Marie’s Note : I am deeply grateful to Jill for sharing this HypnoBirthing story.  It’s often difficult to find positive birth stories if you are in a situation where there is a medical reason for an induction.  I hope everyone who faces such a situation is able to read stories like this one.  And trust that no matter how your birth unfolds the HypnoBirthing skills of calming yourself and staying connected to your partner and your baby will serve you well.

At 34 weeks and 3 days, I was diagnosed with a condition called Cholestasis.  Cholestasis is a condition in which the normal flow of bile in the gallbladder is affected by the high amounts of pregnancy hormones.   Keep Reading

avocadoGiving Birth with an Intact Perineum! Or How to give birth and not tear.

First thing to remember is that they are many factors will play into the situation. So I think that it’s important to realize that no one technique will be the ticket! The best advice is to do all of the suggestions for preventing or limiting tearing. The more angles that you come at this from the more likely you will birth your baby with an intact perineum.

Ok. Starting the list of techniques…  Keep Reading

Parenting Corner : Grab the Kids and Get into Nature

August 21, 2013

Did you know – recent studies are showing that kids are losing touch with nature.  Yet when children were given the opportunity to be out in nature all kinds of good things happened.

More JOY : who doesn’t want more of that!  🙂   Exploring a pond and watching all of the tiny life inside, or following a deer trail just to see where it goes or finding a bird’s nest.  There is lots of enjoyment for kids in nature and for you too!

Better HEALTH : while there is no doubt that getting out and walking, cycling and scampering up a hill are all good forms of exercises, being in nature goes further than that – research is showing that connecting with nature is good for our mental as well as physical health.  The vast majority of us live in urban settings so we deal with overstimulation from traffic, noise and other people.  Spending time outside in nature leads to lower levels of aggression, less procrastination, better ability to solve problems and more general wellbeing.

Here are three great considerations for spending time outside with kids…

1. Fun : Forget your boring goal-oriented adult approach.  Kids just want to have fun.  So let them.  Get sidetracked.  “Waste” an hour finding frogs.  The moment the fun stops… the whining starts.  So that’s why this is consideration number one.

2. Let them be Wild : Gleefully throw out some of the normal rules we live by in civilized society.  Kids adore dirt and cleanliness is a rather modern fetish anyways.  If you aren’t getting dirty in nature, you’re probably doing something wrong.  So let them climb, explore and yell.  Because heck if you can’t go wild in the wilds, where can you?

3. Give your kids Responsibility : Let them choose the route, carry some of the water, let them wear shorts and getting eaten alive by mosquitoes.  Let them make mistakes – and they will, but they will also learn to make meaningful decisions, screw-up and then re-evaluate.

Where is your family favourite outside space?

Here are my top three close-by nature spots that me and my hubby and my kids enjoy.

1. Wascana Trails – this is a super duper nature reserve on the way to Lumsden.  It’s in a little valley that the wacana creek has carved out.  There are tons and tons of trails through it – going up from the top of the valley and down to the creek below.  There are lots of birds to find and watch.  There is great spots of scampering and climbing up and down which my kids love.  And there are lots of forested bits which are a welcome change to the prairies.  If your kids are old enough to mountain bike, this is a great place for that as well.  And just this Sunday, we saw a turtle sunning itself on a rock.  So it’s great for a little bit of wildlife too.

2. White Butte – this is another great nature preserve East of the city, off the number 1# highway roughly just north of White City.  This is a large area with lots of longer trails.  Some are prairie trails, and others are wooded trails that take you through a birch tree area.  In winter this is an awesome place to cross country ski.  In spring, there are tons of puddles, and ponds and lots and lots ducks.  Really it’s great all year around.

3. The Hidden Dock in Wascana Park : This is a great little find that we discovered during the Wings Over Wascana festival.  You head down to the far side of McDonald hill (located at the end of McDonald St across from the Douglas Park track and field area).  If you are feeling energetic climb up the hill (it’s one of the best views of the city) and then let your kids scamper down the other side.  Otherwise you can just walk around it.  Continue following the path on the other side of the hill along the lake’s edge… keep going for about 10-15 minutes and you’ll come to a marshy area with a dock.  Bring a pail and a few little nets and then get down and explore.  It’s awesome.  Lots of cool water bugs and frogs and fish eggs.


My kids and two friends searching for tadpoles at the hidden dock in Wascana this spring.  And friends are the corollary to fun.  Add a friend to any nature adventure and the fun increases.

If you have other spots close by that you love, please share… I would love to hear about them!  🙂

Finally here are two awesome books to read on the subject.

Wild with Child: Adventures of Families in the Great Outdoors, by Jennifer Bove

 

Last Child in the Woods : Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv

 

 

 

Kinley’s Birth

July 31, 2013

kinley1

My guess date was Jan 12th 2013.  A week passed with no real sign of labour. I tried just about everything possible to get things going. After three acupuncture sessions and trying some Clary Sage essential oil from Marie, I finally started feeling some surges at 1:00am on Jan 23. I was so excited that I was going to meet my baby! I got up and took some gravol and Tylenol to help me sleep through the rest of the night, but excitement of timing the surges kept me awake anyway. When my husband woke up to his alarm at 6:30, I told him he should call into work and tell them that today is the day! We called our parents to give them the heads up. My mother, who was to be my second birth partner, told us she would come as soon as she could get away from work. When my mother got to our place, we decided to go for a walk around Walmart to get things moving and to pick up some last minute things for the hospital bag. I could feel the surges getting more intense as we were walking, but there was no definite pattern forming. We walked for about 2 hours before deciding to head back home.

At home, I used the birthing ball to get comfortable. I found being on my knees and leaning over onto the ball to be the most comfortable. This position also made it very easy for my husband to massage my hips and lower back. As the day continued, the surges still didn’t seem to be consistent. They were as far apart as ten minutes and as close together as 2 minutes. When I felt myself getting frustrated, I focused on my breathing and repeated affirmations in my head such as “Soon my baby will be in my arms” and “I am relaxed and comfortable”

At 11pm, my husband called our midwife to let her know the situation. She decided that she would come and check  me. She got to our place about an hour later. After the check, it was determined I was only 1cm dilated and 80% effaced so, therefore, was still in early labour. I found this very discouraging since I had been having fairly intense surges for almost 24 hours.

That night, I spent 8 hours in the bathtub. I found the tub to be the most comfortable place to be, and was able to sleep between surges. The same thing continued into Thursday.  I listened to the Rainbow Relaxation and spent most of the time in the tub or on the birthing ball. I found it comfortable to sit on the ball while my husband sat on a chair. I would lay my head on his lap and rotate my hips. The urge to spiral my hips was so strong I could barely control it.

My midwife had called that morning and asked if we still wanted to keep an appointment we were scheduled for that morning. I said we would because I thought it might be good to get out and drive on some bumpy Regina roads. This enhanced the surges greatly. At the appointment we found out I was 4cm dilated, and she did a second sweep and stretch. I was happy with the outcome of the appointment and was hoping it meant the baby would be here soon!

That night, I continued the same routine, in the tub or on the birthing ball. In the morning, the midwife called and told me I would have to be put on the induction list in order to stay under her care. The hospital called us at noon and told us to come in as soon as we could. I finished a smoothie that my husband forced into me and we were off! Not the way I had planned on going to the hospital, but I was relieved to finally be going.

At the hospital, I was put into a triage room right away and hooked up to monitors to monitor the baby’s heart rate before starting the Syntocin. It was only suppose to be a 15 min process, but because they needed to see some spikes in the heart rate before starting the meds, it took about 1 ½  hours. Since the nurse had told me to stay lying down on my back during this process, I found this time very difficult. I made it through that time by using my breathing techniques, and listening to Rainbow Relaxation.

When we finally were taken to a birthing room, the nurses were quick to get me a birthing ball and start the Syntocin. After one hour, the nurse checked my cervix and I was 5cm and 100% effaced. We were excited and I was encouraged by the quick results. My midwife came soon after this and I was very happy to see her! She was so great and helped me into positions she felt would help progression with the smallest amount of Syntocin. I labored easily throughout the evening using visualization, breathing and massage. I found it especially helpful for my husband to put pressure on my hips during surges.

The midwife checked me again at about 10pm and we were discouraged to find that I was only 6cm and we would have to up the syntocin.  After that I noticed a huge difference in the intensity of my surges, they started coming 2 or 3 in a row with no break in between. I found it extremely difficult to stay focused during those doubles and triples and had to rely on my breathing and added some vocalization into it at that time as well.

The Synto was upped again at around midnight. At that point, my midwife told me that if the contractions didn’t start coming in a regular pattern, we might be looking at an epidural, as this can help to regulate contractions. An hour later, with no improvement, I had an epidural. Even though this wasn’t in my plan, it felt wonderful to be able to sleep after going three nights without. It never did work to even out the contractions but I progressed slowly while sleeping.  At 3:30 the midwife checked me again and I was 10 cm! Finally!! I began pushing, in the usual way. My midwife felt that was the best way to be able to coach me, as I wasn’t able to feel much. I pushed in numerous positions such as kneeling on the bed, on the toilet, on all fours on the bed and the birthing stool. It was so rewarding to be able to feel her head when I reached down. This kept me motivated to keep going.

At 5:20 am our 6lb 15oz Kinley Ella Dawn came into the world. She was placed on my chest and my husband and I announced her gender. We were able to enjoy a minute of skin to skin, but since she had passed some meconium during the birth, she had to be suctioned. Within a few minutes she was back in my arms and latched on right away.

In the end, almost nothing went according to my birth plan. I am so thankful for the Hypnobirthing techniques that we learned. Even though we didn’t get the exact birth we had planned, Hypnobirthing helped me to be able to cope with the things that didn’t go as planned and to stay relaxed and focused throughout the whole labour and birth experience.  Thanks so much, Marie!!

Written by Alyssa D., May 2013

If you enjoyed reading this birth story, you might also enjoy these two articles.

avocadoGiving Birth with an Intact Perineum! Or How to give birth and not tear the perineum.

First thing to remember is that they are many factors will play into the situation. So I think that it’s important to realize that no one technique will be the ticket! The best advice is to do all of the suggestions for preventing or limiting tearing. The more angles that you come at this from the more likely you will birth your baby with an intact perineum.

Ok. Starting the list of techniques…  Keep Reading

happy birth storyThe Birth of Félix

The skills I learned in hypnobirthing helped me throughout Félix’s entire birth, especially in the active stages of labour.  I view his birth as happening in two stages.  The first stage started with my water breaking on May 27th at 1:30 a.m.  I felt calm and reassured my husband that everything was fine, but that we needed to get to the hospital (after having talked to my midwife) because we needed to see how Félix was doing.  Keep Reading

How to Know Your Life’s Purpose in 5 minutes

July 27, 2013

I have the joy of working in a field that allows me to connect with so many wonderful people everyday.  One of these people shared this video with me.  It’s about finding your life’s purpose in 5 minutes.  So go on… I dare you – you have 5 minutes right now – watch and share your answers in the comments below.

 

When I left school teaching, to set out on my own as a hypnobirthing practitioner and pre and post-natal yoga instructor,  I was blessed to have taken a course called Business 101 for Birth workers.  During that course, the instructor got us to reflect on this very same idea.  Getting clear on what is your purpose so so worthwhile.

So here it is….

1. Who are you?   Marie Berwald
2. What do you do?  I teach women prenatal and postnatal yoga and hypnobirthing childbirth education.  I teach them how to use Essential Oils to take care of their own health and wellness.  I practice one on one clinical hypnotherapy.
3. Who do you do it for?  Pregnant women and new mothers and families.
4. What do those people want or need?  They want safer, easier and more comfortable pregnancies, births and an easier transition into motherhood.  They care about health and wellness.
5. What do those people get out of it or how do they change as a result?   They have the skills, techniques and tools to increases their physical, mental and emotional wellness during the pregnancy, birth and early days of motherhood.

TADA!  Seriously that took me 5 minutes.

Post your answers below.

Marie

ps. Here is my little shout out to Alanna Bergquist, a steller hypnobirting mom and the owner of Shifting Perceptions who inspired this post.     Check out her answers and her blog.

 

If you enjoyed reading this post, you might also like…

heart-webLiving from the Heart

 “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Basically, it means that whatever is strongest inside you – whatever is most abundant – shows up in what you say, how you act and what you do.  What does the way you talk and behave say about what’s in your heart?

Body : tangible physical presence in the word

Mind : attitude, thought, determines what you think and feel.

Spirit : core heart…. determines who you are

Unless this three are functioning in sync or in harmony we can’t experience total wellness!  Keep Reading

Lavender leaf and EO

Introducting DoTERRA Essential Oils for Health

I always discover something great at the annual HypnoBirthing conference.  This year it was essential oils.  Did you know?

  • Oregano oil (*CPTG) can kill warts? My Markus had 14 warts (yes you read that right) 14 planter warts on the sole of his right foot.  We treated with Oregano oil everyday and now they are all gone.  No painful burning or freezing required!
  • Lavender oil (*CPTG) make the best treatment for scraps, cuts and burns of all kinds including sunburns.
  • Melaleuca oil (*CPTG) can kill athletes foot and “pinkeye” along with ear infections and many other infections.
  • Breathe oil (*CPTG) can soothe a child’s cough almost immediately. This is what one mom told me in an email after a class. “Thanks again for the amazing Essential oils class last night! My daughter was coughing so bad when I got home that she couldn’t sleep…I put “breathe” oil into the diffuser and in 5 mins she was sleeping and I didn’t hear another cough. This is too crazy!”     Keep Reading

Giving Birth with an Intact Perineum! Or How to Give Birth and Not Tear Your Perineum

July 17, 2013

avocadoFirst thing to remember is that they are many factors at play in this situation. So I think that it’s important to realize that no one technique will be the ticket!  My best advice is to do all of the suggestions for preventing and/or limiting tearing. The more angles that you come at this from, the more likely you will birth your baby with an intact perineum.

Ok. Starting the list of techniques…

1. Good Fats Eat healthy food rich in good oils and fats. The reason for this is that the skin absorbs what you take in through your digestive system. So if you are eating good fats then your skin will have more moisture and elasticity. Foods rich in vitamin E are great for this; like wheat germ (add to baking, cereal, smoothies etc) and avocado. Local midwife, Lana Knoll, did her final research paper on this topic and concluded that the top factor for tearing or not tearing was the health of the tissues. Eat a very healthy diet rich in the good-for-you fats and you will have healthy tissues.

2. Perineal Massage  The massage increases both the overall health and elasticity of the perineum. Healthy tissue = better chances! The trouble is that although people talk about perineal massage,  no one actually explains how to do it.  As result people don’t do it. But truly it’s very easy. This is to be done six – eight weeks prior to birth – starting about the 32 to 34 weeks mark. And it is to be done EVERYDAY for five minutes.

Ok here is how to do it.

Pour a little oil (must be natural fragrance free oil – I suggest Coconut or Olive Oil – both are cheap, accessible and hypo-allergenic!) into a shallow bowl.

Sit with your back resting against pillows and get comfortable. It’s a good idea to use a mirror during the first few times that you do this exercise. It will assist you in identifying the muscles involved and allow you to observe the easing of the edge of the perineum.

Dip your thumb into the oil (finger nails smooth and short and hand very clean) and thoroughly moisten it. If a partner is doing the massage, he will use his first and middle fingers. The thumb and fingers should be dipped into the oil to the second knuckle and inserted into the vagina approximately two to three inches, pressing downward on the area between the vagina and the rectum. Rub the oil into the inner edge of the perineum and the lower vaginal wall.

Maintaining a steady pressure, slide the fingers upward along the sides of the vagina in the U sling type motion. This pressure will stretch the vaginal tissue, the muscles surrounding the vagina and the outer rim of the perineum. Be sure to stretch the inner portions as well as the outer rim of the perineum. In the beginning you will feel the tightness of the muscles, but with time and practice, the tissue will relax.

If you are doing the massage by yourself, you’ll find it easier if you place one foot on the seat of a chair, with the other approximately two or three feet away from the chair. This allows you to work around and under your abdomen from the back.

3. Kegel or Pelvic Floor Exercises   Again everyone talks about them but no one really explains them in depth. I actually attended a weekend workshop all about the pelvic floor – so there is a lot to discuss!

Ok… so there are actually two layers of muscles that we are talking about here. There are the deeper internal muscles that line the walls of the vagina (remember the vagina is more than the labia or lips – the vagina actually refers to the muscles walls going in and up to the uterus.) So you pull up with these muscles.

The second layer of muscles are the surface muscles – these run like a figure eight around the vagina (including the urethra) and around the anus. The cross of the figure eight occurs between the vagina and the anus, known as the perineum. This muscle layer pulls together during a Kegel. It helps to imagine the four points of the pelvis – the tail bone, pubis, the sitz bones (the bony bits in your bum when you sit down). These four points mark your pelvic outlet and if you imagine pulling them all closer together than you will have the correct muscle action in this area.

A full kegel involves pulling up and then pulling in or engaging the inner muscles and then the surface muscles of the pelvic floor.

There are variations you can do with this… short pulls, long holds, the elevator – my personal favourite – ground floor is completely relaxed, second floor a bit engaged, third floor – mostly engaged and fourth floor completely engaged – and then you bounce between floors!

All of this helps to strengthen the mind-body connection between your awareness (mind) and this particular spot (body). That is another reason it is worthwhile… it’s subtle at first but the more you do it, the more you will feel like you know and understand this area.

As an aside, even women who are having a planned C-section need to do this exercise because the weight of the pregnancy weakens the pelvic floor.

Now if you are totally unsure if you are doing it right, try this.

These muscles are the same ones used to stop the flow of urine. So next time you are in the bathroom, attempt to stop the flow while you are urinating… however do NOT practice in this way as it can lead to bladder infections!

Also I need to add that a muscle that is healthy stretches better – that’s why it works to do kegels (which are tightening exercises) in order for the perineum to stretch more easily.

4. Optimal Fetal Positioning   Baby’s position also plays a factor. The optimal position for birth is baby with head down, chin tucked in, spine facing out against your belly and their arms tucked down by their body.  In this position, it’s easiest for the bones of baby’s head to mould making it easier for them to move through your pelvis. And if baby’s arms and hands are down this also greatly impacts the integrity of the perineum. So how can you increase the chances that baby is this optimal position? Spend time on all fours, doing cat stretch for instance, helps because gravity then works to move baby’s spine forward (facing outwards against your belly which is optimal).  I love the website www.spinningbabies.com for its discussion and ideas about optimal positioning.  Visualization is another powerful tool. Envision baby is the prefect position in the days leading up to labour.  This image will help you visualize baby in that optimal position.  And talk you your baby about being in this position – “sweetie when it’s time to be born, be head down, with your spine against my belly, your chin tucked in, and your arms down at your sides.”   Over the past decade of working with birth, visualization practice during pregnancy, has been one of the most powerful tools I’ve encountered as a way to prepare the mind and body for labour.

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5. Support The Perineum During Birth  Have someone; nurse, doctor, doula, or your partner, support the perineum when baby’s head is crowning. You can do this with using a hand, or a warm face cloth or warm oil compress. A study in Norway, published in 2008 found that when a women’s perineum was manually supported and the woman breathed deep and slowed down (no pushing) as the head came through, then the incidents of tearing were dramatically decreased.  And you might not have considered this – but YOU can support your own perineum.  That’s right – it’s actually your body and you are allowed to touch it!  So if you feel the urge to place your hands “down there” when the vulva are opening and bulging – do it.  Follow that instinct.  While you are pregnant, this is a great time to talk to your care provider and see if they are willing to gently manually support the perineum during birth.

6. Use Helichrysum   Use helichrysum essential oil on the perineum during crowning.  This is a deeply healing oil and it has a powerful ability to stop bleeding and prevent tears.   Mixed with fractionated coconut oil, at a rate of 3 drops to 2 tablespoons, Helichrysum is a wonderful for perineum support.   Gently gently massage it on the perineum during crowning and also rub gently over baby’s head.  For moms, it will help the prevent tears and for babies, it will help prevent bruising and swelling.  Learn more about essential oils for birth.

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7.  Keep Mouth, Jaw and Lips Soft  As the famous midwife Ina May Gaskin always says: “whatever your lips up here are doing, that’s what your lips down there are doing”.  This is called the sphincter law.  For some reason, the muscles of the mouth and jaw and linked to the vaginal opening muscles.  So if you are bearing down with a really tight mouth and jaw (which many women do if they hold their breath) then that tightens up your bottom.  You can actually do this right now.  Lock your jaw, bite down, tighten your lips and push down like when you are having a bowel movement; you’ll notice that your bottom tightens up as well.  Next exhale with soft lips, space between your back teeth and a loose jaw; notice how soft your pelvic floor is when you exhale in this way.
8. Your Position  The last important factor is your own position at birth combined with how forcefully baby is “expelled” or slips out of your body. Some positions seem to be better. Anything off your back is generally better. And taking the time to breath baby out with several breaths… the baby’s head needs time against the folds of the vagina in order to fully allow them to flower and open. If baby comes too fast, for instance because of very strong pushing, tearing is much more likely. Remember the uterus pushes, which is different than you forcefully pushing. If you breath down and out through your vagina then you can let the uterus do most of the work. However, there are situations which can necessitate forcefully pushing – such a sustained and substantial drop in the baby’s heart rate. But in the absence of such the situation, then the best plan is to slowly breathe baby’s head through your vaginal opening.  When your baby is crowning and you are right in the intensity of the moment, feeling like you are going to split apart because it’s such a huge feeling, you might think to yourself  “All I need to do is give one almighty push right now and it will be all over – and who cares if I tear, just push like hell and get it done”.   IGNORE that thought! Tune into your wisest self and think to yourself “Just go slow, hang in there.  It’s ok.  Just breathing through and letting my tissues unfold will help me stay together and that means a lot less discomfort in the long run.”    Choosing the right care provider (doctor or midwife) can really help here.  Someone who says something along the lines of  “Okay Sarah, easy…. baby is almost here, easy easy… breathe with me… haaaaahhh   haaaaahhhh    haaaaahhhh…. good… nice and slow…  you are stretching beautifully…”   That’s the kind of birth attendant that you want.  So have a discussion with your care provider about how they generally manage this part of birth.

And that’s it. I think it’s important to mention that with this, as with everything in birth; it is really crucial to prepare your mind and body with dedication and then to LET GO OF ALL ATTACHMENTS when you are actually in labour. Rather than being focused of your plan, you need to be focused on the moment! Birth can be the ultimate living in the present moment (very much a yoga philosophy). Trust yourself, your body and your baby.

Marie

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