The following statistics are startling. Of the 309,000 Australian births in 2015:
97% were in a hospital
50% involved a spontaneous labour
67% of babies were born by vaginal delivery
33% of babies were born by caesarean section
85% of mothers who had had a previous caesarean section had a repeat caesarean section
Since 1985, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended a population caesarean section rate of 10–15% to ensure mortality rates are kept low for mothers and babies (RHR 2015). In 2014, Australia had the eighth highest caesarean section rate of 33 countries, with a caesarean rate of 34 per 100 live births. Factors related to mothers being more likely to have a caesarean section were:
having had a previous caesarean section (23%)
maternal age of 40 or more (52%)
mothers who had a multiple birth (69% of twins and 88% of other multiples)
mothers whose babies were breech, where the baby exits buttocks or feet first (87%)
women who gave birth in a private hospital were also more likely to have a caesarean section (45%) than women who gave birth in a public hospital (30%)
Maternal drug use in labour has been linked to drug abuse later in the child’s life and a traumatic birth has been linked to suicide in young adults born in this way. Postnatal depression is linked to both drug use during labour and a traumatic birth experience.
When exploring becoming a mother it is essential to learn about your own story, beliefs and attitudes, and the underlying fears behind these for us and in society. Questions you may like to explore include;
what were the details of your own birth?
how do the women in your family give birth?
what beliefs about birth have you accumulated in your life?
what does your culture, local community, partner believe about birth?
what do you believe?
During pregnancy our body sends us messages from our innate body wisdom. This is so we can heal them as we prepare for birth and motherhood. One of the best ways of recieving these messages and connecting with our baby is to meditate and journal. I really loved these questions for journalling and discussing with your partner:
how do I feel about being a woman?
how do I feel about the appearance of my pregnant body?
how do I feel about being naked in front of others?
how do I feel about my vagina and vulva stretching so far open to give birth?
how do I feel about the possibility of my vagina, vulva or perineum tearing?
how do I feel about urinating or defecating in front of others?
how do I feel about my birth team looking at my vulva?
am I concerned about the appearance of my vulva or vagina or my body after giving birth?
are there any patterns, stories or themes in my sexual relationships (past and present) that may come up during my birth experience?
how do I feel about having sex during pregnancy?
do I need to acknowledge, heal or let go of any stories or experiences?
how do i feel about breastfeeding? about breastfeeding a boy? a girl?
My recommendations are:
Raspberry Leaf and alfalfa tea from 32 weeks
EPO from 36 weeks - insert from 38 weeks
Perineum massage 10mins daily from 34weeks
You need to nourish your body in the lead up to your birth, you need to nourish your body during labour. I strongly recommend a plant based diet that looks a little bit like this;
Wake up - warm lemon water with a probiotic supplement
Breakfast - smoothie and a piece of avocado toast
Snack - carrot and celery with hummus
Lunch - Buddha bowl with 1/2-1cup rice or quinoa
Snack - two dates with peanut butter
Dinner - Broth or soup
I encourage all women to walk every single day for a minimum of 30minutes. You should perform three lots of cat-cow for 20minutes each time and at least five minutes of legs up the wall before bed. You should stretch your hips and shoulders as well as strengthen your wrists in preparation of birthing your baby. No one just rocks up and completes a marathon, similarly, a beautiful birth takes preparation.
Labour and birth
The best place for a woman to give birth is where she feels the safest.
Do not go into labour with fear. There is nothing to fear. Every single woman is capable of having a beautiful birth and your birth team should be 100% committed to helping you achieve this.
If you prefer to give birth in a hospital then continuity of care with a known midwife and doula throughout pregnancy, labour and birth, and into the postpartum period has been demonstrated to have the best outcomes for mumma, baby and family.
An Estimated Due Date (EDD) is an average, NOT an expiration date. Your baby’s birthday is decided by your baby, and it is still unknown what actually initiates labour physiologically. However, medical intervention and an obsession with EDD has meant that HALF of all births in Australia are induced.
Our culture is not one that tolerates pain. Pain medication is a huge market as we are just not willing to feel it. Pain is a subjective emotional experience; we psychologically interpret physical sensations as being painful. Pain is increased when ignorance, fear, insecurity, dehydration and/or fatigue are present.
For many women, labour pain is the most pain they will or have experienced. I love encouraging women to exercise before and during pregnancy, so that they can liken the uterine contractions to any muscle contraction. Pain during labour is also associated with the dilation of the cervix and the pressure of the baby’s descent on the cervix and ligaments, bones, tendons and muscles around the pelvis.
The purpose of this pain is to gain our attention and bring our focus to it. During labour, pain becomes the gateway to a deeper consciousness. It is also mitigated by the hormones we produce (when labour is not interfered with).
All of the drugs we can take to numb ourselves to the pain of labour and birth affect your baby and affect the normal physiological processes required for the newborn to adapt to life. It is a woman’s responsibility to understand the pro’s and con’s of all birth related practices so she can make appropriate choices for herself and her baby.
Relaxation of the labouring woman’s body is critical for natural pain management. In my experience, warm water, warm compress on the lower back and massage have been helpful in managing labour without drugs. Deep focus, as practiced during meditation and visualisation, will help and feeling safe are also vital. You do not need to escape this pain, embrace it. Each strong contraction you have brings you closer to your baby. You need to head towards your birth with a solid belief that you can do this. Trust the birth process. Trust your body. Trust your baby.
The best snacks for during labour are miso soup, veggies and rice, broth, almonds (tamari almonds are my fave), lactation cookies (I LOVE Franjo’s), smoothies, crackers with saurkraut and avocado, apple with peanut butter and cinnamon, vegemite toast, herbal tea, water, vitamin c and perhaps even a delicious raw chocolate treat.
Immediately after giving birth a mother and her baby require skin to skin contact, their hearts close together, which activates the baby’s senses and helps to stop the production of the adrenal/stress hormones baby and mother were producing during labour. The mother needs love, warmth, rest, sleep, food and water. The family need space to bond.
WHO recommend exclusive breastfeeding from birth to six months of age and from then, alongside food to at least two years of age. Statistics from the 2010 Australian National Infant Feeding Survey results indicate that 96% of mothers initiate breastfeeding. Thereafter, exclusive breastfeeding rates drop off. Just 39% of babies are still being exclusively breastfed to 3 months and just 15% to 5 months. Thereafter, statistics fromThe 2006-2007 Longitudinal Study of Australian Children study show that at 12 months, 28% of children were still being breastfed; at 18 months, 9% of children; and at 24 months, 5% were still being breastfed.
Please read the following as to why you should continue breastfeeding until your baby self weans:
If you enjoyed this blog post, you will love Jane Hardwicke Collins book Ten Moons, which I have paraphrased and thoroughly enjoyed. If you would like to enquire about my doula services from June 2019 please send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org