My story, finding my woman tribe and trusting the path...

Our lives unravel in mysterious ways. We cannot know what will happen next even when we try to plan it or force it in a particular direction.

The things we do, and the paths we take change us, transform us, and fling us in many different directions. 

What we need and want are two different things.

So heres what I've come to know, and feel and understand.

I've been practicing yoga for 20 years now and teaching for 7, almost 8 years. I didn't expect to be a teacher or a mentor. But I do remember being a kid and feeling like I wanted to inspire change or help people to be more like themselves. Their true nature, blissful, at peace, healed.

I started out working at an art gallery whilst at school. I was nervous to answer the phone or make phone calls in case I was doing it the 'wrong way'. I was embarrassed.

After high school, I went to art school in Sydney, found a flat and practiced a lot of yoga. I didn't really understand then, and was striving for perfection.

I worked in retail selling jewellery to women with lots of money, and found a cool tribe of women there who I worked with and they changed my world.

I travelled the world, loved and danced and played. Fell in love with Paris, worked in Film production and found out I was good at producing and directing. Slowly, my gifts were emerging.

I found my voice much later, singing in my bedroom, recording songs, writing profound poetry that I still look back on and wonder where it came from. It was channelled and pure. So, so good!

Insert yoga teacher training. Teaching. Feeling alive, feeling more me, more in tune with myself. The deep listening begins. I meet the love of my life. He challenges me and brings me joy with his lightness and humour.

I performed, I tried to be someone else, and at the same time, couldn't quite be myself. My voice had not reached its peak and my confidence was not fully realised. I felt I wasn't good enough, I didn't feel I'd be accepted if I showed my true self.

Many years later, I birth a baby. I'll just use my yoga, I'll be fine everyone told me. Emergency caesarean. Failure to progress. Stuck baby or perhaps I was stuck too. I learnt so much here and continue to realise who I am through the healing of this birth. Wow! I thank my son for the teachings and lessons.

The singing stops, but in this quiet, I find myself more, I unravel, I fall apart, I rebuild and realign. I'm starting to reveal myself and trust who I am. 

Then wow! again! A miscarriage, I hurt, I grieve, I release, I appreciate the loss, I grow and become so incredibly aware. 

I Home birth a year later, at the end of my bed, in a lunge pose with all my women around me and my man. The pushing was hard work but I found the focus and discipline that I so truly crave and need right now. I thank this son for his lessons, for getting me to believe, for transforming my whole life. 

The confidence grows, my voice comes back, my relationship with my man changes and evolves and comes to a place of equanimity. I thank yoga for my ability to stay with even the toughest challenges. Happiness is within, how we tell the story is up to us.

And now here I am exploring new territory. Finding my women, the ones that call to the greater powers and mother earth for guidance. The women who have so far brought out the best in me. Allowing me to be myself and truly let go to the unknown. I thank Julia, Brooke, Bec, Sarah, Jane, Sequoia, Rosey, Vicki, Janet, Anneleise, Callieach, Gypsy, Talulah, Joanna and all the women I support and mentor.

I had my first piano lesson yesterday. I felt like a kid. But I had such focus and I learnt so much. The healing voice is coming. I can't wait to share it with you. 

I have learnt that you can't plan for happiness or equanimity in your life. You can't wait for everything to be perfect and expect to be happy then. Moments of wonder occur and guide you to your next place, without warning, without planning. The key to happiness is stopping the story we tell ourselves.

Stop the story about what someone else does to you. Stop the story about what you don't have. Stop the story that limits your potential. Stop the story that says its too late. Stop the story that tells you your body doesn't work.

Realign yourself with nature, with the unknown, with healing yourself. Notice that all that you've done and where you have been paints your story so far, but there is much more to come. See it so splendidly that no one or nothing can get in your way of you finding your tribe, your peace, your-self. 

If you want to change your path, go forth. If you want to ride the wave, ride it. If you feel you've had enough, listen. If you hear, feel and know your inner callings, listen and give in. 

Let your life unravel. Let it drip out of you like chocolate sauce down a sundae. Let it ripple, let it ooze out and flow and flood you with pleasure and pain. Feel the pain, go through it!

Feel every moment and then you may truly be one with the path...travelling like the wind, like the rolling ocean, like that sundae melting on a hot day, like an ice cream dripping down your hand, like that flowing dress you love to wear, like your hair playing with the breeze, like your laughter, cackling without notice, like the plastic bag that rips and drops all your vegetables, and watching them roll down the hill like a gymnast or depending on the fruit and vege, a ballerina.

Blessed Be. 

 

The Bella Birth of Finley Samuel Humphreys

The Bella Birth of Finley Samuel Humphreys

8th April 2013

9.17am ~ 3.43kg ~ 50cm

To begin my birth story of Finley, I first need to go back and tell you a bit about my first birth. It was an uneventful pregnancy; I felt great and was looking forward to welcoming my baby the way Mother Nature intended. I did yoga, ate well, exercised and prepared myself by reading lots of info about natural birth and active birth techniques. Unfortunately, I skipped the parts about cesarean, as in my mind I wasn’t having “one of those”. It wasn’t even a thought. I didn’t even consider it an option. That was a mistake. It made me very underprepared for what eventually unfolded. 

My waters broke, contractions started a few hours after and we headed into hospital soon after that, as things seemed to be progressing quickly. I was coping well, until I got the urge to push. After being examined I was told I was “only 8cm” and so “couldn’t start pushing yet”. My baby was posterior. I changed positions, used the shower and changed positions again. I did all I could (because I didn’t think there was an option to question the midwife) to fight against what my body was telling me to do – PUSH! Eventually I could not fight anymore and asked for an epidural. Things went down hill from there. After another 3 hrs, some synto and still at 8cm I was told my baby was “in distress” and I needed an emergency cesarean. I was devastated to say the least. The worst part for me was the separation from my baby for over 2 hrs after she was born. The nurse in recovery was so nonchalant when I kept asking if I could go and see my baby—she casually answered with “all you cesarean mums are the same”!! I was too shocked and upset to say anything back to her. I felt so disconnected. I knew I’d just had a baby, but I didn’t feel her come out – did she come out of me? Did I just give birth? Does she know I’m her mum? I wasn’t even the first person to hold her. I put on a brave face and just got on with being a mum. Breastfeeding came easily and I really think it was my saving grace – it really helped me bond with my daughter.

After her birth, I didn’t even consider having another c-section. I never knew the struggles I might possibly come up against. I just assumed that next time I would have a vaginal birth. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to happen?

So this led me on the path to my VBAC. I started reading lots of positive info about VBAC and joined a VBAC support group where I met some lovely mums, doulas and midwives who were all so supportive. It was so nice to be in a room talking with other women who had experienced what I had; who knew how I felt; who understood. I never really discussed my true feelings with friends and family as I just thought, “unless you’ve had a cesarean you can never fully understand how I feel”.

We fell pregnant when my daughter was 22 months. We were excited! We had been discussing our birth options before this and had decided that having a midwife was more preferable to an OB for a successful VBAC. I booked in to Gosford Hospital under the community midwives. At the same time I had met a wonderful independent home birth midwife and was interested in chatting with her about home birth and what it all meant. My husband and I had been reading lots of empowering and positive HBAC birth stories and we were starting to warm to the idea that we could have a home birth. I’d also been hearing of other women’s struggles with the hospital system for their right to birth how they wanted to and I just didn’t want to have to fight for what I knew my body could do. I didn’t want any negativity or doubt or hospital bureaucracy surrounding me.

 If you’d asked me before I had my daughter if I’d ever have a home birth, I would’ve said no way!

Sadly, that pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. We took some time out to grieve and in the time before we fell pregnant again, we decided that when we did conceive, we would be having a home birth with the beautiful Lisa Richards from Bella Birthing and our beautiful close friend Lauren Horton as our Doula.

Five months later we were pregnant again! We contacted Lisa and set up a meeting so my hubby could meet her. We never looked back. Lisa was a constant source of information, support and woman centred care. It was so special having her come to our home for antenatal appointments, often for hours, to chat about anything and everything. Mina loved her too as she always let her unpack her bag and help with my blood pressure and let her use the Doppler to listen to bub. She knew us and we knew her. I did yoga with Lauren every week, I had regular Chiro, reflexology, I rested and I ate well. We did a birth workshop with Lauren and Calm Birth classes with a student practitioner. 

We felt safe. We felt loved. We felt prepared.

The last couple of weeks of my pregnancy were tiring. By 38 weeks I really didn’t think I was going to make it to 40 weeks. I felt heavy, had lots of pubic symphisis pain, many strong Braxton hicks and a busy 3 yr old to look after, but I remained calm and relaxed. I never once doubted that I could birth this baby out of my vagina!

Saturday 6/4 – we had dinner at my parents place for my sister’s and daughter’s birthdays. I felt very irritable, heavy and tired. I couldn’t get comfortable. I went to the bathroom about 5 times in the hour we arrived! My mum noticed. She said to me before we left that she thought I’d have the baby on Monday. Well, mums know don’t they! She was right!

Sunday 7/4 (39 weeks 2 days) - I went to prenatal yoga as usual. It was heaven. I came home and we went about our afternoon as usual. That night Lauren came over to do some Reiki on both hubby and I. She worked her magic and told me after the birth that I had looked like someone about to go into labour.

Lauren left at about 8.30pm and her partner came over to watch some cycling on TV with my hubby. I went to bed after showering around 9.30pm totally disinterested in watching the cycling. I checked Facebook and returned some emails and text messages and turned the light out around 10.30pm. I was woken briefly at 12.30am by the guys’ muffled cheering but went back to sleep quickly. 

Next thing, I woke up with a slight cramping feeling. I think I’d just had a few more of those in my sleep. I glanced up at the clock; it was 2.55am. I closed my eyes and waited. Again, I felt a period like cramp creeping in. I glanced at the clock again. It was 3.10am. This got me wondering….. again I closed my eyes but to feel that cramping sensation once more. I looked at my phone; it was 3.22am. Mmmmm. I think today is the day! I opened my contraction timer app and timed a few more “cramps”. They were coming pretty much every 12 mins. After about an hr, I still hadn’t been able to go back to sleep, I think I was too excited. My hubby woke up from the light on my phone and I told him that I was having mild contractions. He brought me a hot water bottle, which felt nice and eased the sensations. I wanted to stay in bed for as long as possible as I didn’t know how long this was going to take and it was the middle of the night anyway, so I put my earphones in and listened to my positive birth affirmations.

Two hours passed; it was now 5.15am. I decided it was time to text Lisa and Lauren. I said to my husband that I thought it was a decent enough hr to wake them! I can’t believe I was concerned about waking them – I’m pretty sure given their job titles that they’re used to being woken at all hours! Oh the things a labouring woman is concerned about!

Over the next 45 mins my contractions had moved to 9 mins apart lasting for about 60 secs.  I was still listening to my birth meditation. It was 6.05am. Lauren and I text back and forward a bit more about how I was going. I was still lying on my side breathing through the waves. Lauren talked about Mina being at kindy that day and that’s when I thought “there’s no way she’s going to kindy today, we won’t be driving anywhere”. I knew it would be soon. The last message Lauren sent was at 6.30am. I didn’t reply to that one. I was now unable to just lie on my side; I was on my knees, head down over a couple of pillows. I was now putting all my focus into my contractions. In 25 mins they had gone from 9 mins apart to about 4 mins apart! I had hubby call Lisa as we hadn’t heard back from her yet (funny story – she’d done a “dream” text!). He was casually telling her that my contractions “were about 7 mins apart” – he wasn’t even timing them!! I was bent over a pillow next to him getting cranky saying that I’d just had 2 in the time that he’d been talking to her and another as he hung up! They were definitely about 3 mins apart now. I told him to call her back and ask her to come. I was concerned that now it was after 7am, by the time she got ready and left she would get stuck in school traffic (it was Monday morning) and she had to come from 30 mins away. Lisa and Lauren were both now on their way.

7.05am – I was now out of bed leaning over pillows propped up on the side of the bed. I spotted Mina at the bottom of our stairs looking a little shocked. She’d just woken up and came up to see what was happening. I was vocalizing by this point with my ahhhs and ohhhs. I asked her to come up and told her that mummy was having the baby today. We had prepared her well for this so she knew what was going to happen (to some degree!).

I don’t really recall times from now on but I now had the urge to use the toilet so I made my way through to our ensuite and sat down. I couldn’t go. Now that I was upright things ramped up again. I had the longest contraction whilst sitting on the toilet; I’m sure it lasted about 2-3 mins! I got off the toilet and ripped off all of my clothes. I felt so hot, clammy and flustered! I went straight onto my hands and knees; the cool tiles were heaven! Loz had arrived at this point and kicked into action putting pressure on my back with each contraction and bringing me drinks. It felt great! I was so relieved when she arrived as hubby was running around trying to finish blowing up the pool (apparently it wasn’t firm enough – I didn’t care at that point I just wanted to get in!!), filling it, reassuring Mina and putting pressure on my back every 2 mins! I felt irritable and hot and asked for a face washer. Hubby lovingly tried to wipe my brow, but I just snatched it off him and wiped my whole face roughly and threw the washer back at him! My wrists were also starting to hurt from leaning on the hard tiles so hubby brought me 2 pillows to put under them. I put one under my hands and threw the other one out the door, frustrated. I was now in transition!! I was starting to feel pushy at the end of each contraction and only for a minute, wondered how dilated I was? 

Lisa arrived around this time. She just slipped in and it felt like she’d been there all along. I felt relieved she’d arrived and I think I relaxed a bit in my mind knowing she was there. I had a few more contractions on the floor then Lisa suggested we move to the pool; it was ready. I think it was about 8am?

With Lisa’s help I walked back into our bedroom and eased myself into the pool. AHHHH it was bliss! It really felt like what I’d imagined. How all the birth stories I’d read described the feeling of the warm water. But for a split second I thought “Oh no, it’s too hot, I feel claustrophobic” and then that feeling left as quickly as it had appeared. I had a few more contractions and then during a break opened my eyes. The fog had lifted, labour land seemed clearer. I looked at Lisa and said “Hello!”. They reminded me later that I had also looked at Lauren and commented on how beautiful she looked!! I looked around our bedroom – my birth space looked calm, serene and birthy! Lauren had done a wonderful job setting it up; candles lit, music playing, birth flags hung.

My husband, my daughter, my midwife and doula, all there; supporting me, nurturing me. Pouring warm water on my back, stroking my arms, kissing me, talking to me, bringing me drinks and wiping my face. All of them there, all for me – I was a birthing goddess!

Lisa noticed that I was glancing at the clock after every couple of contractions so she suggested that it be turned around. I don’t really remember taking much notice of the time but it was in my view. I got back to the task at hand!

My body was so powerful; I couldn’t believe the intensity of what it was doing. I didn’t consciously push, not once – my body did it without instruction, it was unstoppable! It was overwhelming at times and at one point I even tried to get out of the pool and push his head back up! What was I thinking!

But all along Lisa, Lauren and Nick echoed their reassuring words around the room. At this point Lisa suggested that I feel down there; I was hesitant at first but then after the next contraction I put my fingers inside and felt a squishy head! Oh my, what a feeling! I was doing this! This baby was coming down and out of my vagina! From then on I couldn’t keep my hand away – during each contraction I felt him coming closer and closer. I could feel the pressure of his head; I could feel the burning as he, bit by bit, made his way out. I was vocalizing quite loudly during the whole pushing stage and used all sorts of noises that if I made now would make me feel very silly! But there in that pool, in our bedroom, surrounded by my birth team it felt right, I felt empowered, and I was uninhibited! I was vocalizing with the word “OPEN” when Lisa gently said “I think you should use DOWN now Brooke, I’m pretty sure you’re OPEN!”. This made me laugh. It was so nice to be reminded to laugh and smile. 

I had been leaning forward over the pool since I got in and I felt ready to turn over and lean back with my arms over the pool. I wanted to see my baby being born. I’m not sure how long it had been, but I had relaxed a bit by now and had my eyes closed. Lisa had let Mina use the torch and once she saw the head starting to emerge she called out “BABY” and stripped off her clothes ready to jump in. I asked hubby to get her to wait till the head was out as I was really focusing on getting through that. Not long after, I felt his head come through and what a relief that was! I put my head back on the pool thinking I’d have a little break before the next contraction brought his body out, but bubs had other plans. He kept on coming and swam quickly into his daddy’s hands!! He was out!! I did it; I just birthed my baby! Hubby passed him to me (we didn’t know the sex at this point) and I brought my baby to my chest and kissed him and talked to him as I cried and smiled and cried! He let out a cry and hubby kissed me and we looked to find that we’d had a beautiful baby boy. We watched in awe as he pinked up and cried and stared at us in wonder. His eyes said “I know you, you’re my mummy!” I was in love! We stayed in the pool for about half an hour drinking up our new baby boy. He was just perfect! His cord was quite short so we hopped out and got cozy in bed. About 45 mins after he was born, Nick and Mina cut his cord and we snuggled up for our first feed. Mina and Nick had cuddles whilst I was birthing the placenta. Unfortunately, my placenta was a little stubborn and I was still bleeding so had to have the synto injection to help it out. When it finally came out it wasn’t all there – I had retained some of it and I was still bleeding. It wasn’t an emergency and the bleeding did stop but the issue remained of the retained piece of placenta. Lisa and Megan (second midwife) discussed our options thoroughly, and we came to the decision to transfer to hospital for follow up care (but that’s another story!). I spent 1 night in hospital and was home in my own bed the next day snuggled in with my beautiful boy and to celebrate our daughters 3rd birthday. Yes, they are only 1 day apart!

I’m so grateful to my amazing birth support team. That, in my opinion, is the most important part of a woman’s VBAC journey.

I’m forever thankful to my amazing husband Nick, our beautiful daughter Mina, my wonderful midwife Lisa and gorgeous Doula Lauren.

 

And most of all to my son Finley, I thank you for being born! X x x

Van's Birth Story

Another healing birth story from Rachel and her journey to her VBAC. 

Van's Birth Story

The back story for me was two births that didn't feel like I was hoping for. My first son was born vaginally, but with much trauma. The midwife seemed nervous with the amount of noise I was making, and kept asking me about using pain relief (despite my birth plan and the Calmbirth strategies I had learnt during pregnancy). I needed to be monitored every half an hour as there was meconium in my waters, and this was absolute agony. I had to stay in one spot for five to ten minutes while I was monitored. I ended up feeling very tired and defeated after being awake for over 24 hours, and asked for an epidural. When I was fully dilated, I began pushing and continued to push and push. Nothing was happening (I would later find out that my son was posterior through my labour and pushing stage) and I was prepped for a c section. Nobody told my husband, Tim, nor I what was going on and I felt completely out of control, and extremely scared. There were about 10 people in the room and luckily, after 2.5 hours pushing, I managed to push him out safely. Unfortunately, I had a bad third-degree tear which required surgery and was quickly taken away from my newborn baby due to a large amount of blood loss. That was the hardest time of my life. Throughout the surgery and in recovery (about 2-2.5 hours) I was sobbing and just asking them to take me to my baby, I hadn't even had a chance to hold him. 

After this experience, I was scared when I fell pregnant 14 months later about going through everything again and immediately opted for a c-section. Tim and I were both so traumatised after what happened the first time and I sat in my first midwife appointment in tears. Attempting another vaginal delivery was completely overwhelming, but I knew that I might have to jump through hoops to have an elective c-section as I would be delivering my baby in a public hospital again. Luckily, the OB agreed and I am thankful that I was able to have a choice. Getting ready for a c-section was a completely different experience for me, and I stressed to the doctors and midwives that I wanted skin to skin with my son as soon as he was born. I got to hold him for hours after his birth, and the midwives allowed my husband to stay with me during recovery. It was beautiful, but I still felt like this wasn't the type of birth that I really needed. When my son was diagnosed with a number of intolerances and allergies during his first year of life, I strongly believe that this was due to his birth and I began looking into natural therapies to heal his gut and help him overcome these intolerances. 

When I fell pregnant with my third son two years later, I already knew that I wanted and needed some extra help, beyond what Tim so excellently provides. I enlisted the help of a doula, and knew that her support with Tim would give me the best chance of having a birth I desperately wanted (and needed).

Tim and I met with Julia MacLeod, and I instantly felt at ease after telling her our story. I knew that this is what we both needed and that she would help us to be informed, aware and confident going into the birth. During a chat with Julia later on in my pregnancy, I realised that my first birth traumatised me dramatically, and the fact that I wasn't able to hold my son after delivery was torture. The birth I had always pictured and wanted didn't happen and I was extremely disappointed and I felt guilty. I felt like I deserved one of these 'magical' births that everyone talks about. My births felt surgical, scary and overwhelming.

On Sunday, June 12th 2016 at 4.30pm my waters broke unexpectedly at 40 weeks, 5 days pregnant. Because of the fact I was having a VBAC, I was asked to come to the hospital, so my mum stayed with the older boys and off Tim and I went. It was confirmed it was my waters and I was told that I would need to stay in hospital now just in case. This was a decision I was okay with as we don't live 5 minutes away from the hospital and I felt safer knowing I was in there until the birth. Tim stayed as well and we were given a private room, with Tim getting a lovely mattress on the floor. That night we didn't get much sleep as I spent most of the night vomiting. Needless to say, we were exhausted on Monday.

We asked the beautiful Julia to come in the morning on Monday to try and get labour started as I was told that if I wasn't in labour by Tuesday morning that I would be induced. We went for a walk, did some aromatherapy and tried to get things started. We had a nice lunch and then Julia left so Tim and I could have a midday nap. 

At 9pm Monday night I started to get some contractions. By 10pm they were 3-4 minutes apart and lasting a minute so we asked Julia to come back to the hospital. The contractions were this way until about 5am Tuesday morning, increasing with intensity. I then asked to get moved to the birthing suite as I had had enough of being in the maternity ward and trying to keep quiet amongst all the newborn babies and mothers. During this stage, I was sick again as well, so needless to say was very dehydrated despite Julia and Tim's efforts to give me water and ice.

At about 6am we went to birthing suites. On the way there I heard a baby crying from another suite and I was in tears, I was very emotional. I was put into the room with a bath and was so happy as I felt like everything was falling into place.

Unfortunately, when my cervix was checked I wasn't progressing very well and my contractions were starting to taper off. I think I was too dehydrated. The midwife said that the doctor wanted to start me on a drip and I was beside myself. That was the last thing I wanted. I started to question how I would cope with the contractions as I was so exhausted having been awake for 2 nights. I started crying as I was extremely disappointed, this is not what I had planned! Yet I decided to go with the syntocinon drip as I knew I couldn't labour all day as I was so exhausted from being awake for 48 hours. When they put the drip in I remember looking at Tim and sobbing. I said to the midwife that it is so unfair I am not going to get the birth I wanted as I 'knew' I would need an epidural after hearing horror stories of the drip. I had lost all faith. Julia reassured me not to think too far ahead, we would get through it.

The drip went in at about 7.45am on Tuesday 14th June. I was put in a nice warm bath after it was put in, attached to the monitor (procedure with the Syntocin - I had previously decided against monitoring because of my VBAC) and also given some IV fluids and Maxalon to counteract the vomiting. After about an hour the contractions were ramping up and were pretty intense. Julia and Tim sat next to me while I was in the bath and I started to doubt myself, the pain was out of control. I used my voice to cope with the contractions and also had birth affirmations on the wall that I focussed on. Julia also gave me stress balls which I squeezed and hit on the bath. At this stage, I had an absolutely beautiful midwife who was like an angel. She stayed in the room the whole time and took note of my contractions as the machine wasn't picking them up. She was gentle, reassuring and calm. Just what I needed. She never mentioned pain relief and never made me feel like I wasn't doing a good job. The room was quite dark, calming and nice to be in. Nothing felt surgical like my previous births.


At about 9.30 I was in 'active labour' and my contractions were crazy intense. The baby's heart rate kept dropping so I had to get out of the bath and the midwife asked if she could check me. I said that was fine but told everyone I will probably only be 3cm and knew it would break my heart. When checked the midwife said I was nearly 7cm dilated and I was in shock. It was about 10am. The heart rate was really good while out of the bath so I decided to stay out for a while and focus on getting gravity to help me push him down. I leaned over Tim and Julia used acupressure on my back and counting through the contractions to help me. The pain was unbearable and the contractions were 30-35 seconds long but as I was on a drip they were so intense. The midwife said she was just popping out for a minute and I knew I was nearly ready to push. I felt different and a bit 'spaced out'.

Not long after the midwife came back and Julia suggested I get back in the bath. I instantly needed to push. I had to adjust how I was sitting so Tim hopped in the bath too so he could support me. This was at 10.30am. I held onto Tim's neck and pushed my feet against the side of the bath. I visualised a coffee plunger pushing down, which is a visual used from Juju Sundin's book, Birth Skills. 

20 minutes later I delivered my son, Van, into my arms in the bath. It was extremely emotional and I was overcome with a sense of achievement and I said, "I did it!" I couldn't believe it. I was so sure that I would end up with an epidural and have issues because of the drip, but it really just helped me to speed things up a bit. 

I got to stay in the birthing suite until 4pm and have skin-to-skin, feed Van and have a bit of a nap. Nothing felt rushed. I didn't see one doctor during my labour or Van's birth, which was completely awesome. I did have another tear but it was stitched in the room with my son in my arms, very different to my first birth.

It's still a bit unreal that we did it, and that I finally got a birth I could be happy with. I have now experienced so many different birth outcomes but understand now why it is so special. We were so lucky with the supportive midwives we had, especially the one we had during my labour. I felt supported, understood and respected during my birth. I truly believe that without the unwavering support of Tim, Julia, and the midwives at Gosford Public Hospital that I wouldn't have gone into the birth the way I did. I felt confident and had so many birthing skills to use during labour to help me cope. My birth was so very healing, and thinking about my first two births doesn't fill me with sadness anymore. I feel like without those two births I wouldn't have had such an amazing experience this time around. It was an out of the body experience, filled with nothing but love and affection.

 

HEALING BIRTH STORY - PAULA'S VBAC JOURNEY

Here's Paula's beautiful story about her experience of her overwhelming, unexpected outcome with her first born, to a vaginal birth after caesarean at home with her second bubba.

"15 hour induction failed. 'We're taking you for a cesarean right now. Your body isn't coping and if you want future children she has to come out right now'. Cold. Fear. Shock. Can't stop shaking. Tears running down my face. Pain. Yelling.. 'I can feel it!!', but they won't listen to me. 'Be quiet or we'll knock you out and you won't see your baby'. Fear. Shaking. Pain. Yelling out again.. 'I'm in pain. I feel it!'. 'Calm down or we'll put you to sleep'. I scream, I shake, I cry.. I'm feeling threatened. They won't listen...
My baby! She's here! I hear her cry, but I don't see her. She's then placed on my chest. 'She's healthy, weighs 4.51kg' they say.


She is perfection. 'Welcome to the world, Grace'. All I see, hear and feel is her and I. What a big love. 'I love you already!'.


They take my baby from my arms... Sharp pain returns. I want my baby back. I start to yell out in pain. I feel many hands pushing and pulling all over me.. My baby is back but I still feel the pain. Daddy takes our baby girl.. I see them together.. Then I black out. I come too as I'm being wheeled to recovery. I have no idea how long I was out for or why.. but my husband told me I was never asleep.


On the surface, I feel so happy and in love with my new baby girl, she is more than I could have ever imagined. Just under the surface I feel.. sad, numb, ashamed, guilty, angry, confused, cheated.. I'm not a woman. How can I be? I've failed. My body has failed me and I've failed my baby. 'She was too big, she was never coming out any other way. She was too big and got stuck', is what I'm told.
I'm not enough... I couldn't even birth my baby....

My daughter, Grace was 18 months old when we conceived her baby brother. We loved her so, so much and we couldn't wait to give her a sibling. I had been dreaming of this moment for 18 months.. I was finally pregnant again and I was certain that I was going to birth this baby vaginally. No matter what it took, I would have a VBAC. I would not be a broken woman anymore! I had acupuncture on my scar and used healing essential oils in the months leading up to my second pregnancy, I lost 35kg, I completely changed my diet, I researched all things VBAC, I joined Facebook support groups, I read my hospital file over and over to understand more of what went wrong.. I then decided my best chance was a home birth with an independent midwife and I knew I absolutely needed and wanted a doula to support me during my second birth.


At 6 weeks pregnant I contacted a midwife. I did not expect to get turned down.. But I did.. Over and over again, I heard 'Sorry, you're too far away'. I was crushed. My dream of home birth and my VBAC was becoming harder to grasp.. I told myself I couldn't go to hospital to birth. My labour will stop as soon as we leave the house, just like last time. I will not be induced again.. I can't go through that again. This journey WILL be different.


I reached 16 weeks and still, I couldn't find anyone to support me at home.. I was a mess. I felt as though I was going to have to prepare myself to free birth my baby on my own, at home, with no support. Shaun (my husband) was not okay with free birth, but he too desperately wanted to ensure that I got a chance to have a healing, supportive birth this time around. We felt we were out of options and were just stuck.. I decided to contact some of the midwives again and PLEAD.. BEG them to help me! One asked us to come and speak with him, as he cared so deeply about my experience. He wasn't sure if he could help, but wanted to chat. Daniel was a perfect fit for us, we could tell after that one visit that he was who we needed to help us.. He believed in me. He wanted to help, but felt he was too far from us. He told us to wait a few weeks, see what he could do and he'd be in contact to let us know if he could support us.


I was just over 20 weeks pregnant when I received his phone call to tell me that two other women in my area also wanted his care, so he was more than happy to support us on our journey. I felt so relieved that I didn't have to free birth my baby and I was going to have amazing support this time. I was planning a home birth!!!!!


We booked in with our beautiful doula, Lauren. I was so thrilled to have her support!!
We found out we were having a boy and we were so thrilled! Everything was going along perfectly.. Things were falling into place, finally. Thank you universe!


Suddenly I was hit with this feeling of "I'm not enough". It came out of no where.. I cried so much. I'm not enough of a woman to do this. I don't deserve this experience. I had no idea where this was coming from.. I spoke to Lauren about it and she asked me, 'Can you recall your first period? What was it like? How did you feel?'. I had not been expecting such a question.. but I answered, 'Bad. Horrible. I had no idea it was going to happen and I denied that it was happening to me for months on end. I felt like I didn't deserve that to happen to me every month, why do I have to go through this?'.


I felt a huge shift within me.. Lauren was amazing. 'It sounds like these feelings of not being enough and not deserving this experience are coming from your passage into womanhood being negative and not being prepared or honoured in the right way.. It is very connected to how you feel about your path into motherhood'... It made perfect sense! She told me to speak with my Mum about it all to acknowledge it and come to acceptance/forgiveness and then honour that time in my life by doing some writing around it and then taking a nice bath with candles etc. to nurture that past part of myself as I began my journey into womanhood. The feelings and thoughts of not being enough and not deserving a positive experience shifted and I felt lighter.


I also wanted to birth this beautiful baby myself, with no one else touching me. I felt I needed to birth my own baby to fully heal from my daughter's cesarean birth, but at the same time I knew in my heart that I wanted and needed love, support and encouragement around me. I was struggling with allowing others to help me on this journey.

Lauren organised a Mothers Blessing for me with two very close family members and a friend. They showered me with love, support for my upcoming VBAC, nourishing food, flowers for my hair, lovely beads for a birthing necklace, beautiful words/energy and I had some awesome henna done on my belly. It was an amazing afternoon and it helped me start to be okay with allowing others who care to do things for me. The energy I felt afterwards was big and I felt so happy/loved up.

I continued to reflect within myself for the rest of my pregnancy.. Things arose and lessons popped up for me in all different ways... They all had the same message, to 'let go'. To accept that I can't control everything, all of the time. To allow others to help and feel okay with receiving it. I needed to allow things to come into my life - thoughts, feelings, situations, people.. whether I liked it or not, and allow them to just be there. To sit in the uncertainty, to sit in the energy that surrounded me (good or unpleasant) and know it is okay. I was okay. Just allow it to be, acknowledge it and then let it go. I also decided to withdraw myself from Facebook, to really connect to my body and my baby. This was all part of my preparation for the birth journey that was about to unfold before me..

I had many chats with Lauren leading up to my birth.. I was 40 weeks and 4 days when she came to see me. We worked through and confronted many things that were coming up for me in my thoughts as she did a Reiki session.. It was so freeing. I cried and I felt so cleansed of my thoughts and energy. I felt so ready to go on this birth journey. 'You've got your birth face on' said Lauren as left. I went into labour 16 hours later.

At 2am on the 9th of June, I woke up to quite an intense contraction.. 4 minutes passed and another.. and another.. It's happening. This definitely is not pre-labour this time!!
I tried to rest, but it was uncomfortable to lay down.. so I got up and pottered around the house doing a last minute tidy up.


Around 5:30am things were getting much more intense.. so I called Lauren to let her know 'It's happening!!'. I rang our midwife, Daniel and he said he would get his things together and be over about7am. I messaged my Mum and she too got here around 7am.
Lauren arrived some time after that.. I got in the pool as I was feeling the energy all in my back and I then lost all sense of time...

At first, the raw energy of the contractions was overwhelming me and I found myself trying to push up against them. I had fear that I would scare my daughter, Grace.. So I was holding back.


I was thinking. I couldn't stop thinking, though I desperately wanted to stop thinking. I couldn't stop my thoughts from going around and around in my head.. I was over thinking all of it. What I needed to do was switch off and let go. I managed to get to that place of nothingness in my mind after a while.. I saw Grace was happy and okay with her Daddy and this helped me relax a little. I was just allowing myself to feel each contraction, letting it come, letting it stay and then letting it leave. I rested between each one as best I could.


Each time someone spoke to me or I heard voices.. I lost that control, the thoughts started to come back and I'd have to find that place in my mind again. It became easier to do with time.. I wanted to stay in this place of not thinking. It made everything much easier.
I don't know how long into labour I was, but Daniel felt it best if he checked my progress as it had been quite some time now. I was extremely nervous about this.. this was where my body had "failed" me previously in my first labour. I had only ever reached 4cm in 15 hours with Grace.. I agreed to check how things were going, but asked him not to tell me how many cm I was dilated as it may discourage me. He checked me and with a big smile asked if I'd like to know as he felt it would help me.. I nodded and I heard 'You're 6cm dilated!'. Oh my gosh!!! This is further than I got with Grace, I can absolutely do this!! Shaun and I were so thrilled I was making such good progress.. I was doing it!!!


I fell back into labour land rather quickly and things really started to pick up.. I had let go even more now. I was roaring and being very vocal. I felt a really intense urge to pull. I had to pull on something!! Lauren set up a sarong for me to pull on and everyone took turns holding it as I pulled. It felt so good.. I started to push a little with some contractions, which was helping my baby turn into a better position for birthing and move down further. I envisioned this in my mind.


However, hours later, I remember coming out of labour land, looking up and seeing it was now night time.. I started questioning myself. Can I do this? I'm not sure I can.. How much longer is this going to go on for? My whole body aches. My legs hurt and feel heavy from squatting and my arms are tired from pulling. I. Am. Exhausted.


Daniel checked me again and I was then at 8cm.. I was doing this and I was almost there! He told me, 'You have more in you than you know'. Those words I heard many more times, at exactly the right moments that I needed to hear them.


I was back in the pool and continued to pull on the sarong.. If I wasn't in the pool, then someone had to press on my back as it was so intense with each contraction. I had noticed that if I stood up and was out of the water that everything was much stronger and felt I made more progress.. So, we decided I would hop out of the pool and see how I went.


It was hard for me to get comfortable and I felt really irritable. Lauren suggested that Shaun and I go into our bedroom to kiss/cuddle and just be alone together to encourage oxytocin to flow more. Once we reached our room I had to crouch down on the floor with my arms up on the bed in Shaun's lap.. I couldn't move. Lauren came in with my Mum and said she'd like to try some acupressure points to help me dilate that extra 2cm. After a few contractions doing the pressure points I felt such an intense urge to push with my whole body.. So I began really pushing now. His head was right there, I could see it in the mirror but it kept going back up.. He was trying to turn the right way as he was slightly posterior.


Pushing felt amazing.. I didn't feel the need to push with every contraction, but from that point I didn't really feel the contractions anymore.. All of my energy was focused on pushing and a heavy feeling in my legs.


I don't know how long I pushed for.. but all of a sudden I saw lots his head in the mirror and I suddenly got fearful. 'I can't do it'. Lauren was telling me to go with the feeling and allow it to come.. but I started to be fearful of pushing because my back was hurting so badly with each push and I was frightened after hearing he looked to be a "decent" sized baby. I squealed and yelled and roared.. His head was finally out. A few minutes passed and I didn't feel like pushing again just yet.. but my midwives got concerned it had been a few minutes and nothing was happening. They saw he was slightly stuck with his left shoulder and needed some assistance.. so I was flipped over and laid back to birth his body.


He was out! Our precious Leon was earth side.. All 4.57kg of him at 11:06pm on June 9th. He was placed right onto my chest and into my arms. The relief I felt was incredible! I remember asking 'Is he okay??', as he wasn't crying.. just laying there peacefully. 'He's perfect!' exclaimed Daniel... I was happy with that. I was propped onto pillows and laid on the floor at the base of our family bed.. relieved, resting and enjoying my new baby!
I was so tired. My mind was all on Leon.. then I hear Lauren whisper to me "Paula... You did it!! You got your VBAC". It hadn't completely sunken in yet.. but I was so thrilled to hear those words. Grace had watched in awe as Leon was born, she crouched down to see him for the first time and I felt whole. I birthed my baby the way nature intended.. I got to hold him for hours whilst he was still attached to the placenta, I got to birth and see his placenta, we burned his cord (which Shaun and I did together (I never saw Shaun cut Grace's cord at birth), but most importantly.. I was with my family in the comfort of home. Surrounded by people I loved and whom loved me, they believed in me and supported me through one of the biggest and greatest achievements of my life to date.. the birth of our son. I just needed the right people around me who believed in me and would hold space for me as I laboured and birthed.


I am woman. Hear me roar! Grace now tells everyone 'Mummy is a lion!! Roar!!'. I have power and strength in me that I never knew I had! This birth experience has helped show me so many things about myself and it has changed who I am as a mother, as a wife and as Paula. I feel whole as a woman and I've found closure in my previous birth experience.

If there's one thing that I could tell all beautiful mothers to be... I'd say, 'You have more in you than you know'."

Increase your inner peace - A breath practice you need this winter

If there were ever a breath practice to do during Winter, BHRAMARI BREATH (Humming Bee Breath - named after the Indian Black bee) is the bee’s knees!

Bhramari breath is beneficial for stress, anxiety, anger, sinus infections, high blood pressure and thyroid problems. 

When practicing Bhramari breath, the body naturally produces nitric oxide. Nitric oxide contributes to many functions and biological processes in the body. 

 Nitric oxide contributes to nonspecific host defense against bacterial, viral, fungal, parasitic infections, hence takes care of infection in the body. 

What a great breath practice for the nervous system during winter! Fight colds, improve gut health and calm yourself in times of stress.

How to do it: Sit comfortably on your yoga mat or on a chair. Relax your face, your throat and shoulders. Block both ears with your index fingers and take a good inhale breath. On the exhale breath close the mouth and make a loud humming sound like a bee. You will feel this energy buzzing in your head. Practice for 3-9 rounds to reap the benefits. Sit in contemplation after the practice and notice any profound or subtle changes. 

This practice is perfect for everyone and very calming for pregnancy, birth and postpartum too. Its a great practice to teach the kids, to help them deal with the gamut of emotions. 

Enjoy and share on!

Lauren x

3 ESSENTIAL WAYS TO PREPARE FOR BIRTH...

I’ve been supporting women through pregnancy, birth and postpartum for the last 7 years though yoga, birth mentoring, workshops and attending births. I have also experienced two very different births of my own, with my two sons. These two births have shaped me and taught me a lot about birth and postpartum preparation. So, here are my top 3 essential ways to prepare for birth…

EXAMINE YOUR FIRST RITE OF PASSAGE - MENSTRUATION

We often over look the power of the first rite of passage as a woman. Menstruation can be an incredibly powerful moment, when a girl becomes a woman and takes forth with her the importance and power of the moons monthly cycles. Some of you were initiated into this rite of passage with support, guidance, love and knowledge, and some of you were given a pad and told to get on with it. Some of you had troubles with tampons, which may have even formed your first belief about your body. My body doesn't work, I can’t insert the tampons, my muscles are too tight, my vagina istoo small, how is a baby going to fit out of there? How am I going to have sex if I have a small vagina?

Can you see where these beliefs about your body may have begun?

Start to write about your first experience of menstruation. What did it tell you about yourself? What did your mum tell you or not tell you? What are your feelings towards menstruation?

Notice what comes up and then perhaps talk to your mum or other women about what you’ve learnt. We need to teach ourselves, other women, sisters and our daughters about how much of impact this rite of passage has on our beliefs and how we can heal the disconnect with our bodies.

This can help us to understand why we don't trust our bodies. If you didn't trust your body at the first rite of passage, then how can you suddenly trust it now in preparation for birth, if you haven't trusted it before. No amount of affirmations are going to fix that disconnect, except going back and healing the past.

Notice how your beliefs about yourself could impact your birth. This is your own personal journey. You need to move forward in your own unique way. What steps will you take?

TALK TO YOUR MUM ABOUT YOUR BIRTH

Talking to your mum and/or dad about your birth and their beliefs about birth, can help you to understand where your own beliefs or feelings towards birth may have come from. It can also give you insight into how your birth has influenced you as a woman. All of the information you glean will go towards creating a map of where you came from and where you are now. What beliefs have effected you? What beliefs have influenced you and stayed with you? How can you change any negative beliefs that no longer serve you and move forward with new beliefs?

Write all your thoughts in a journal. Journaling can help you to get it all out of your head and your body so you can start fresh, with new eyes, ears, heart and mind.

TALK TO OTHER WOMEN, FORM A COMMUNITY AND SHARE STORIES

“It takes a village to raise a child"  - African proverb

Growing a community of women for support during pregnancy, can really help you postpartum when times get tough. In fact, way before they get too tough, you can call on your women to support you. This may come in the form of regular weekly catch ups, phone calls or times during the day planned. Share your fears and thoughts with other pregnant women. Share your thoughts and fears with other women who have children already. Be open to their thoughts and advice and take on only what you intuitively feel is right for your family.

You don’t have to be strong and do it all on your own. This goes for birth and postpartum. You don’t have to feel all alone when you collapse in a heap from exhaustion. You can call on your ‘queens’ and they will be there for you.

Ode to pregnancy

Photo by Jane McCrae

An Ode to Pregnancy
(An irregular ode without the rhyming. For those of you Greek historians types out there
who think its not an ode. It's an ode because I say so. :)


To pregnancy. 
To the wonder of the unknown
and the miracle of growth and change.
To the challenges that arise that test us beyond belief,
and sometimes have us doubting ourselves more than we should.
To the little souls who enter our lives without us really knowing
when or for how long they come.

To pregnancy.
To my three pregnancies.


To the first.
To the first pregnancy that I rushed though, wanting to get to the end.
To the experience that changed my life and taught me about
expectation. About projecting. About attachment to outcomes.
About the power of positive and negative thoughts,
depending on which path you choose to take.
To the soul that now lives with us,
who brings us happiness with his spirit, his humour and his sensitivity,
I bow down to you.
You are my golden egg.

To pregnancy.
To the second.

To the second pregnancy that didn't last as long as we expected,
and to the soul that arrived and left too soon.
To the intensity of those first 6 weeks and time spent in Europe.
Carrying you in my belly through customs,
through the alps, the streets of Paris, my old London town.
You taught us about loss.
About the things we sometimes need to lose
in order to change and grow.
You brought me great relief.
I finally realised
that I didn't need to be in control all the time or at all.
You taught me that letting go and approaching life without force,
was the most graceful path.
I bow down to you.
You are my golden ticket.

To pregnancy.
To the third and current.

To this third pregnancy that I've held so dearly.
To this pregnancy that I've been so present in.
That I've been myself in.
To this pregnancy that I've not rushed or
at any moment been ungrateful for.
To this pregnancy that has taught me about the present moment.
About my body, my needs,
my fears, my affirmations, my intuition.
About the power of meditation and positive affirmations,
that I truly had to believe, and repeat, and repeat and repeat
over and over, until 'I' listened, and my mind finally shut up...
for long enough to change the mindset for good.
To the soul inside my belly, booting me and moving around,
you are my little Buddha.
I can't wait to meet you, sing you a song and thank you for your
wisdom.

To all the women who I've had the
pleasure and honour of mentoring through yoga, as your doula
or your friend.
To all the women who came to my Mother Blessing
and made me see what I really and truly needed.
I needed you!

To my mum, to my mother in law, to my grandmas who have passed.
Gratitude.

My ode to pregnancy.
9th December 2014.









 

Waiting for baby...

Waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting waiting...

Are you on the home stretch? Did you think that your baby would be coming early? Did you think you would be able to manage your mind if you did indeed go over your 'Estimated Due Date'?

Thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking...way too much thinking :)

Here are my yoga inspired tips for managing this 'waiting' time with grace, ease, and compassion for both you, and your baby.

1. EACH BABY IS DIFFERENT
My first son is a Virgo and he likes to rush through things to get to the end. He doesn't really like to do the in between stuff, unless its lego, where he gets to build it in his own way. He likes getting to the outcome, and now that hes 4 he just wants to be a big boy, and do big boy things.

Second son (not born yet) is most likely a Capricorn. Capricorns do things in their own time, but in a different way. They don't like being forced, they like to take their time. The conditions have to be perfect and they assess the risks before doing anything. It has been brought to my attention that respecting his journey, is just as important as my own.

Looking at my labour/prelabour in this way helped me to be more at ease with 'waiting' for this baby. Even if its your first baby, you should still have an understanding of their patterns of movement in your belly, their personality, and general feeling of their spirit. Connect with your baby on regular basis and have a chat.

Don't tell your baby what to do or use firm words to coerce your baby out. Would you like to be forced, or told what to do when you weren't ready? How would you like to be treated or spoken to during this special time in YOUR life?

2. ACCEPTANCE AND COMPASSION

Accepting where you are now can be a challenge. But I can't blame you, I want to meet my baby too. But if you remember that you and your baby are one, and connected on a physical and spiritual level you may realise that your baby is not doing this to you. Whatever is frustrating you on your journey together, may be the thing that you need to address, and focus on for resolution and birth preparation. Be compassionate to your own needs. Don't push through pain during your pregnancy. Slow down and really listen.

Place your hands on your belly and say:
"I send you love, compassion and patience. I trust your birth journey as much as my own. We are doing this together."

3. CONNECT WITH NATURE
Spend time connecting with nature. Whether its walking in the grass barefoot, having a swim in the ocean or taking a walk in the fresh air with your family. Getting outside will bring you back to all that is around you, rather than the space that we sometimes live in, in our minds. Experiencing nature will again remind you to take your time, be present, and approach your remaining moments during pregnancy with grace.

3. ENGAGE IN WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW

Am I engaged with my baby and listening?
Am I engaged in the present moment?
Am I engaged with our true needs or
am up in my head in a negative mindset?

If I'm not 'engaged' with my body or baby, then I'm usually up in head, and thinking too much. I need to re-connect maybe 100 times a day with my baby and stay present with our journey together. If there is something I need to do he will tell me. I have to trust that he has something greater to teach me. Notice when you are up in your head and not focused on your baby in your pelvis. Send that energy down there and re-connect.

YOU DON'T NEED TO THINK TO BIRTH. YOU JUST NEED TO BE!

So these are just a few insights into my pregnancy as it moves into its final weeks. I hope that you can glean something special to take with you into the new year of 2015. I wish you all the best for your pregnancy journey. Share your comments below and share with all your ladies who are approaching the final weeks of pregnancy. :)

Lauren x

10.2 pounds of love. A VBAC story...

HBAC (Homebirth after caesarean) OF MARCEL GARTH
BORN SUNDAY 4TH JANUARY at 9.48am
Weighing 10.2 pounds

Four years ago, on September 19th 2010, I experienced a birth that would change my life and career forever. The caesarean birth of my first son, George, took me completely by surprise and then took its toll on me again postpartum. I struggled to connect with my baby and had continuing problems with breastfeeding. I resisted asking for help because I thought I should be able to do it all myself. This pregnancy, with Marcel, I learned to ask for help, and let my women look after me. It felt so good to be supported and mothered by my midwives, doula, friends, and my incredible partner.

During Marcel’s pregnancy, I meditated daily, practiced yoga, and visited him in the womb every day through visualisation. Marcel was willing me to be free, to be myself, and to let go. It wasn’t easy to be shown my negative habits and force myself to really work through them. It was now or never, though. I had to face these habits and change my mindset. Fear or self love? I chose SELF LOVE.

For childbirth education, or self-discovery, during Marcel’s pregnancy, I attended a workshop called “Connecting to the Shamanic Dimensions of Pregnancy” with Jane Harwicke Collings. I also made a Shamanic Drum with Tallulah Gough. I learned so much about myself just through the creative process. Both of these workshops were so healing and inspiring. They contributed greatly to my positive mindset and road to trusting the process.

So here’s Marcels birth story. 

I had been feeling pre-labour symptoms (period pain, tightenings and Braxton’s) since about 36+4 weeks. During the same week, I organised a meeting with the head of VBACs at our local hospital to talk about birthing options, and to have a general rapport with him in case of transfer. The meeting was a bit of a waste of time, as he wasn’t very supportive. He also had no compassion for my previous birth experience even though he played a part in the subsequent surgery (haematoma drainage) that I required after a caesarean from a failed forceps attempt. A waste of time yes, but I found strength in knowing that I had made the right choice to homebirth and had a super supportive team behind me no matter what the outcome. The fact was, I had no control over when my baby was coming, how he would be born, or where he would be born. So I really had to trust that he knew exactly what I needed at every given moment. 

Turns out the pre-labour lasted for almost 4 weeks. It was exciting and frustrating at the same time. I got excited most nights when the period cramps started to amp up, and then disappointed when they faded away after an hour. Marcel was always trying to show me patience. Each day I would take a deep breath, connect with him, and realise that it was his journey too. This little guy was taking his time and this was perfect. Each time I started to doubt my journey, my midwife Janine and partner Angelo always knew how to get me back on track. They were my guiding lights and I trusted them with my life.

I lost my mucus plug on Saturday, the 3rd of January, and had the chance to rest for most of that day to prepare for birth that night. I had a strong feeling he was coming soon, so I knew I needed my energy. I drank labour aid all day and resisted the urge to nest. I just had to let go now.

I started to feel period pain on the Saturday afternoon and into the night. But it wasn’t until I went to bed that period cramps turned into more regular contractions.

At 3am on Sunday morning, I went upstairs to wake up my partner Angelo. He was sleeping upstairs in the spare room to give me more space. I really had to breathe and focus through the contractions, but I still wasn’t convinced I was in labour. I called my midwife and told her my contractions were lasting about 30 seconds and not to rush. But as soon as I got off the phone with her they grew stronger. My two midwives and doula were on their way.

I was in denial through all of it because of the long pre-labour leading up to the birth, so I decided to time one contraction to see if I was in active labour or not. Turns out the contractions were lasting 1.10min, not 30sec. Oops. Luckily, the midwives and my doula were on their way.

I stayed in bed and Angelo put pressure on my lower back. He was also trying to blow up the pool, but we found out there were holes in it. He tried to tape them up, but to no avail. A water birth was out of the question, but it was ok. I wasn’t attached to any one type of birth. My baby was going to show me where to birth.

My midwives and doulas arrived about 1.5 hours later and by then I was in active labour for sure. It was so intense and the contractions were coming about 3 minutes apart, and lasting 1min or so. This labour was so different and so much stronger than George’s birth. The contractions were low in my pelvis and the intensity in my back and bottom was indescribable. I needed constant pressure on my back. Hot towels were a godsend (thanks to my doula for being intuitive). I was making loud, animalistic grunts and moans. There was a point where I noticed I was singing or wailing like someone had died. Maybe it was me dying so I could prepare for birth. I know lots of women who say they felt like they were dying during labour. I definitely felt as though I was letting go and becoming something new.

My 4 year old son emerged from his sleep at about 6am and his first words were “I’m bored”. Typical 4 year old response after 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Hilarious! The midwives read him a couple of books but he just kept saying “I want to go to Nana’s”. So Nana made her way over to pick him up for a special morning at her house. I wasn’t attached to my son needing to be at the birth, I just wanted him to feel comfortable.

The contractions continued to ramp up. I was changing positions regularly from standing, to squatting, to lunging, to leaning, to going on all fours. My midwives and doula were so intuitive with positions, I didn’t need to doula myself.

We made our way to the bathroom and filled up our tub, but realised it wasn’t going to be deep enough to birth in. I wasn’t very comfortable in there, anyway and the water wasn’t as effective as the hot towels on my back.

As I got out of the bath, all of a sudden, in true Hollywood style, my waters broke. It was quite an event. The midwives had never seen such a dramatic explosion of waters. It was quite funny, actually and a big relief. It was game on. Now it was even more intense and all-consuming.

There were so many times I wondered if “I can’t do this” or “When is this going to be over” or “Is he really going to descend and come out of my vagina?". Each time, my mind wandered to an eventuality that wasn’t true to the present moment. I would then return my focus to my body, and listen to my incredibly clever baby.

We made our way back out into the lounge room and got into a forward kneeling position on the couch, and then a squat, and then a standing lunge to help the baby open the cervix fully. There was a slight anterior lip that we managed to move just by changing positions frequently.

I was getting contractions 1 minute apart now and with each step I took, the contractions came hard and fast, bringing loads of pressure into my bottom. I made my way to the bedroom for a side lying pose with a leg in the air to help to move my baby round the corner. He was descending! I didn’t quite believe it. My doula had to take photos to show me his head was coming down. I was overwhelmed each time I saw his head and kept on believing that I could do it even when the intensity of the contractions got so strong that I was saying “I can’t do this”. My midwives, doula, and partner Angelo, didn’t let me get away with that negative self talk, though.

We moved to an all fours forward leaning pose over the end of our bed. With each contraction I yelled to my partner Angelo “Pull my arms”. I felt like I needed to pull on something so I could really send the energy down into my bottom for pushing. I was going with my body, making grunting sounds, and feeling all the sensations as my vagina stretched and opened.

The experience of the stretching had to be one of the most overwhelming, but rewarding feelings of the birth. I felt it was most definitely the hardest part. I was pushing out a 10.2 pound baby with a 38cm head, remember. I had to do some extra work to get him crowning. I came into a lunge pose for the rest of the birth to help him move down with more ease. I still wouldn’t believe everyone when they said the head was almost out. I could feel the opening and ring of fire, but I just didn’t believe it was actually happening. Oh how a caesarean birth can take away your confidence.

As my baby crowned and stayed there, I remember wanting to escape. But at the same time, I wanted him there. I wanted to feel it, as I had said during my pregnancy. I wanted to feel it all. Instead of pushing at this point, I panted and took very long breaths. I could feel my babies ears slide out of my vagina as his head was fully born. I still didn’t believe his head was out. My doula had to take another photo to convince me.

I was impressed to find that I didn’t tear when the head emerged, so I know I was listening to my body and staying present with the sensations.

And then, on the next contraction, his body was born. That part went so fast that I didn’t really have time to savour it or prepare for it. I was overwhelmed by the sheer miracle of birth.

Marcel came out screaming and did a huge poo on arrival. My midwife passed him between my legs and up into my arms. Our little man Marcel was gorgeous, huge, and so healthy. I was in love straight away.

My partner Angelo looked at me. We both had tears in our eyes. We did it! Angelo was totally blown away by the whole experience. He said to the midwives after, that it was by far the most incredible experience of his life.

What an amazing team I had looking after me! I was so lucky to have the midwives, doula, and my partner by my side. They not only trusted me to birth, but I trusted them to hold the space for me in a way that allowed me to be ME. With all my demands, moans, grunts, needs, desires, fears, my nudity, I was FREE! It didn’t matter what they thought of me, and I didn’t care if I was doing it right or not. What I experienced was FREEDOM.

I am extremely grateful for this birth experience. Not because I achieved a vaginal birth, but because I got to witness and be a part of the power of a group of women working together and trusting each other. The trust and support I felt was by far the best part of the birth. I felt so good in their presence.

To Janine, Emma, and Lu, I can't express enough how grateful I am for your presence at my birth. Under unique circumstances, too. Your dedication to your craft and to your women is exceptional and overwhelmingly inspirational. I love you guys and I cry when I think about how good I felt during the birth. Thank you, thank you, thank you :)

To my man, Angelo. You were exactly what I needed. You didn’t need to say anything. You listened to me, you nurtured me and you held my elbows perfectly. Ha! Even though I yelled "Hold my elbows, there, no not there, like this, pull my arms!" Thank you for being so supportive of the homebirth and helping me through some of the most challenging moments during the pregnancy and birth. I love you babe :)

Thank you to all the women who bought me food (especially Auntie Brooke), to Sarah for your exceptional breastfeeding advice and listening ears and heart, and my mum for being George’s wingman.

Breastfeeding is going really well now after a challenging start and both Marcel and I are thriving.

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Please share with your pregnant friends, especially those ladies who are hoping to have a VBAC. I have so much insight to share with you all now.

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"You look like you're going to explode!"

I recently had a rant on Facebook about people who make comments to pregnant women about their growing bellies. People never really mean any harm by what they say, but sometimes we take these comments personally. When we take these comments personally a seed is sewn. 

Sometimes these seeds are hard to uproot, especially when a woman is told the same thing on a regular basis. This can have an effect on her confidence, her pregnancy, the way she prepares for birth, and the birth outcome. For example, I once worked with a woman who was told over and over again by numerous friends, family, and work buddies that her baby was going to have a big head. They came up with this thought because her partner had a big head, and thought the baby would have the same. Unfortunately she could not get past this thought, and got 'stuck' during her labour, unable to progress.

What you say to a woman during pregnancy, birth and postpartum can have a huge impact on her mindset. Its important to be compassionate, mindful, and aware of what effect your words can have. 

So on a less serious note, I'm going to attempt to be a bit funny here. Here's some of the most common comments pregnant women hear and what people should really being saying...

1. "YOU LOOK LIKE YOU'RE GOING TO EXPLODE"

HERE'S WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN/SHOULD SAY: "You look amazing, I wish I looked like that when I was pregnant. Your belly is so sexy, round and beautiful, I'm jealous"

2. "YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE A BIG BABY"

HERE'S WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN/SHOULD SAY: "Wow you are so lucky, your baby must have a huge brain. You must start looking at schools for the gifted straight away. Don't worry your vagina will open up like a blossoming flower, you can do it"

3. "YOU'RE SO COMPACT AND SMALL"

HERE'S WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN/SHOULD SAY: "Oh your bubba must be so flexible being so squished up inside that beautiful belly. You should book him or her into mums and bubs yoga asap. Oh and by the way, your baby will slide out of your vagina with ease."

4. "YOU CAN'T HAVE LONG TO GO NOW"

HERE'S WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN/SHOULD SAY: "Oh look at that beautiful belly, you must be getting excited. Even though I don't know you at all, I'll be thinking of you. Tell me when you are due and I'll light a candle for you for good luck"

5. "ARE YOU SURE YOU AREN'T HAVING TWINS"

HERE'S WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN/SHOULD SAY: "My god your body is accommodating the growth of your baby and placenta incredibly. Our bodies are all so different aren't they?."

6. "YOU'RE DUE IN 6 WEEKS? REALLY? YOUR BELLY IS HUGE"

HERE'S WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN/SHOULD SAY: "In my eyes your belly looks big, but what do I know? I don't know you, have never met you before, and I have no idea about how to measure fundal height. Ha, why am I even commenting, I have no idea what I'm talking about."

7. "YOU'LL NEVER MAKE IT TO THE END"

HERE'S WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN/SHOULD SAY: "I really feel for you carrying around that extra weight, your beautiful baby. You are doing an awesome job of bringing a child into the world. No matter when you go into labour, I bet you'll have loads of energy and inspire women everywhere with your strength."

8. "IF YOU LOOK LIKE THIS NOW, YOU ARE GOING TO BE HUMUNGOUS AT 40 WEEKS"

HERES WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN/SHOULD SAY: "Whoah! Thats an awesome belly. You're all baby. I bet you're going to look amazing at 40 weeks. Get into one of those figure hugging dresses and show off those curves, or get that body down to the beach in a bikini. You sexy minx."

Just a bit of fun...

To all my pregnant and postpartum women, I salute you. You are brave beyond belief! Keep up the awesome work of growing and nurturing your babies. You deserve nothing but kindness, compassion, and love.

Namaste

Laurenx 

HOW MAKING ART CAN HELP YOU PREPARE FOR BIRTH. A Q&A WITH LOCAL ARTIST, MUM AND INCREDIBLE LADY, ALITA BLANCHARD

During Marcel's pregnancy, I often made time for making art and being creative. I sang, danced, played with my son outside and made sculptures, a drum, drawings and a belly cast. I found making art during my pregnancy helped to quieten my mind for moments at a time, and I would often get lost in the colours of my drawings and with lines I was making. As I went further into the process of drawing, I noticed that it wasn't so much about the outcome, but about the process and how it made me feel. 

I learnt about things about myself through the creative process that helped me to prepare for birth. It doesn't matter what the art work looks like in the end, its more about letting go and being free to express yourself. This can do wonders for your mindset. 

I often introduce making birth art into my birth workshops to show couples how drawing can reveal their beliefs about birth, their fears and feelings towards certain aspects of pregnancy, birth and postpartum.

Join me now for a Q&A with the talented Alita Blanchard, as she takes us through how making art during her pregnancy has inspired her and helped her prepare for birth and postpartum.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself

Alita and Henry

Alita and Henry

Originally from a high country sheep farm in NZ's south, I have lived in Australia for 15 years, the last 5 years on the Central Coas, after making the move up from Sydney to escape the rat race and start a family. I have a supportive and mostly patient husband and 2 young boys under 5 with another on the way due n February. We live in a small beach style cottage and I am passionate about food as medicine, nutrition, decluttering, simple and low tox living, peaceful parenting (an everyday challenge!) and making bright and colourful art that makes eople happy. 

2. What inspired you to start painting?

I hadn't painted since before kids (5 year break) and then only sporadically and for private use in my home. I had received favourable comments on my artworks hanging in my home and my Mum and husband both had often said I should pick up the brush again and make a real go of it, as both an outlet and a possible business. Well I finally cleared some space in our tiny spare room and got stuck in one day while hubby took the kids out and it just flowed. My mind almost completely cleared and I truly felt like I was in a meditation - no kids, no social media distractions, no pressing need to get some chores done...just painting. The feeling of true escape for even an hour or so, addictive. 

3. How many weeks pregnant are and have you been painting your whole pregnancy?

I am almost 38 weeks pregnant and have been painting my whole pregnancy with some breaks at times when the inspiration simply wasn't there or I was focusing more on the business side.

4. How has making art supported/inspired/influenced/helped your pregnancy?

I started painting again about 3-4 months before I fell pregnant and it was a wonderful release from the rigours of full time parenting (with a husband that commutes and works long hours and the kids not yet in daycare). Once I fell pregnant, it certainly continued to be an important release, though at the same time I have set it up as a business 'Keep it Fresh Art' and thrown myself into all that entails - painting but also marketing and communications, design and market stall set up, which has been difficult at times with lots of late nights. I had a major bleed at 11 weeks and thought I had lost my baby (thankfully all was well) so in the following weeks, a lot of uncertainty and fear came up around my pregnancy. I too had a huge amount of fear and feelings of vulnerability around releasing my art into the public arena but the process of actual painting seemed a good way to release a lot of these feelings (along with a lot of tears!)

5. Whats your main influence when you paint? 

I am influenced by other beautiful works of artists I love, colour formations in the natural environment, paintings I have loved in magazines, photos of landscapes and Instagram. 

6. Do you have a theme in mind, or are you going with the flow? 

I tend to mostly go with the flow but when I experiment with a new style (I am mostly self taught so learning and playing as I go), I will play with that technique for a while until I feel ready to move on.

7. Do you find painting relaxing, what is it about it that you love? 

It is like a meditation - my mind completely clears and I find a really peaceful place and time just flies by which is a sign that I am doing my passion. Hours can feel like minutes. It is an escape from the everyday monotony (and joy) of parenthood and housewifery...though I must say I feel like I am failing in those areas a lot more these day (something's gotta give!). 

8. Have you ever questioned your paintings and felt unsure about what to do next?

Absolutely. Constantly. I usually hang them in my house for few weeks and they will either grow on me or be painted over. I have also sold many paintings that I just didn't love, which is interesting to me - the realisation of how incredibly subjective art is. 

 9. What impact has making art had on your wellbeing, your preparation for birth and your role as mum? 

It has been a definite release during this pregnancy and for my general wellbeing. As a stay at home mum, it is easy to feel lonely and isolated - no matter how many friends you make -  and to feel like you are not contributing to the world in any great way (though in reality we are raising the future thought leaders and change makers). My role as a mother is my greatest joy and priority however painting is something that is purely for me and gives me a sense of purpose outside of motherhood. I am winding down the business side of things now as I get ready for the birth of my third child, but I still look forward to painting as a release, as time allows. 

10. Is there anything you would love to tell other mums who are afraid to make art, or unsure about doing something creative they love? 

Just give it a crack...anything. A lot of people will say they don't have a creative bone in their body. It is simply untrue - every child is born creative, it just gets educated out of us through the schooling system, where the focus is on literacy and rote learning (to the detriment of us all I believe). I never believed my art would be of interest to others but I have had more success than I could have imagined, making some wonderful sales, receiving commission requests and, best of all, meeting new and interesting people. However the most fulfilling part of the whole process has been finding something I truly love to do that switches off my mind from everything else going on in the world. 

So, ladies get out there make some art during your pregnancy to help you prepare for birth. Thank you to the wonderful Alita for sharing your thoughts with us all. If you are keen on her work, you can find her on INSTAGRAM @ KEEPITFRESHART

Alita at the markets selling her work. Look how gorgeous she is with that belly!

Alita at the markets selling her work. Look how gorgeous she is with that belly!

Lauren xxx

PS. Come and try some birth art at our next birth workshop on March the 12th. Join us over on BIRTH WORKSHOPS for more info :)

A postpartum recovery timeline & Abdominal separation recovery tips...

Firstly, before I start ranting about slowing down after birth, I want to say that every woman is unique and requires a unique approach for recovery after birth. That said, theres some things you need to be aware of in order to nurture your body and heal the stretched, and sometimes bruised tissues/muscles/ligaments after birth.

Heres a timeline from a yogic perspective on how you can bring the practice of yoga back into your life after birth. There are also cues for other forms of movement as well. This information comes from reading and studying biomechanist Katy Bowman from Nutritious Movement, Geeta. S. Iyengar and from my own experience knowledge of yoga over the last 20 years. The following is what I did after the birth of my second son. 

0-1 week after birth - This is in caps to be very clear - STAY IN BED, STAY IN BED, STAY IN BED, STAY IN BED. Get up only to go to the toilet, shower or change your clothes. You may even want to STAY IN BED for 2 weeks if you can, and have the support to do so. It is important for your pelvic floor to rest and not carry any load after birth. The only thing you should be carrying is the weight of your baby in the strength of your arms. AVOID DEEP SQUATS AND LUNGES.

0-2 weeks after birth - When you are feeding your baby, practice breathing. Breathe with awareness in and out of your nose, with focus on a fully torso breath. Feel the belly expand lightly, the side ribs and the chest, but don't use force. Very gently, getting to know your breath again. On the exhale breath gently feel your belly button draw towards your spine, BUT, DON'T TUCK YOUR PELVIS UNDER WHEN YOU DO SO. On the inhale breath, let everything expand again, notice your ribs expanding filling the lungs with air. Be aware of your body and how it feels. Notice areas of tension. Check in with yourself. AVOID DEEP SQUATS AND LUNGES.

2-6 weeks after birth - Allow your body to bleed and totally finish bleeding. Most women stop bleeding at 6 weeks. Before then, don't do any strong abdominal work, back bends or inversions. Practice breath awareness, saravasana (final relaxation) and reclining bound angle pose. This pose helps to decongest the pelvis, helps with fatigue, lowers blood pressure and blood sugar.  If you don't have props, no worries, use pillows and towels instead. You can also do this lying on your back too. Bring the feet together and knees apart, in a diamond shape. Support underneath the knees, to take pressure off too much opening in the pelvis. AVOID DEEP SQUATS AND LUNGES.

6-12 weeks after birth - After bleeding has finished, continue to follow breath awareness, meditation, guided relaxations (and or yoga nidra), light walking and swimming if you have had ok from your chiro, physio and GP. Low impact exercise is good. See Tara McKenzie at Healthy Self in Erina for a pelvic floor and abdominal separation check after bleeding is finished. 

12 weeks after birth - I say, you can go back into the world and begin to practice in a normal yoga class again. Your pelvic floor has had time to heal, your muscles and tissues are healed from any bruising. If you have had a caesarean birth, you may enter a normal yoga class again, as long as you have had ok from your chiro or physio. If you have organ prolapse, instead look at a whole body approach to the problem. How do you stand, walk, and sit? Is this contributing to a lack of pelvic stability and abdominal weakness? Check out the Katy Bowman link for some great tips for recovery. Everyone else, except those with organ prolapse, can return to SQUATS AND LUNGES. Start with high squats and low lunges on your knees.

3 months to 9 months - Start to slowly introduce more yoga poses and go to some general classes. Take it slowly and don't over do it to start. Start with the gentle variations on poses and as you feel more confident you can move to the more intermediate variations. Don't rush, theres more to learn in being aware of what you can and can't do. 

TO RECAP  

0-2 WEEKS - STAY IN BED

2-6 WEEKS - BREATH AWARENESS, RELAXATION, MEDITATION, RECLING BOUND ANGLE POSE, YOGA NIDRA

6-12 WEEKS  - ALL OF THE ABOVE, GO SEE A PHYSIO OR CHIRO FOR A FULL CHECK. SOME MAY SUGGEST GOING BEFORE THE 6 WEEK MARK. LOW IMPACT EXERCISE.

12 WEEKS  - SLOWLY START TO EMERGE AND START YOGA CLASSES AGAIN WITH VARIATIONS.

3 -9 MONTHS  - INTRODUCE MORE YOGA POSES WITH VARIATIONS AND GO TO SOME YOGA CLASSES WITH A TEACHER WHO CAN GUIDE YOU AT YOUR LEVEL.

ABDOMINAL SEPARATION

Having abdominal separation and weakness after birth may not be just from giving birth and carrying a baby for 9 months. How you carry yourself, how you walk, sit, stand and do things, will give you an indication of where you are straining or placing too much force. The linea alba, the connective tissue between the two sides of the rectis abdominus, will stretch, regardless if you are pregnant or not, if you are placing too much force in the abdominal area. For example, if you reach your arms above your head, do your ribs shift? Do you arch into your back to allow for the arms to raise up? If so, you are placing force or load or have been on the linea alba. Therefore, you have been encouraging abdominal separation or weakness, even before you fell pregnant. You are probably in the habit of using other muscles to allow for that movement or there is tightness in your hips, waist and lower back. 

The light cream down the centre of the muscles, represents the linea alba. Notice the different ways that connective tissue can separate.

The light cream down the centre of the muscles, represents the linea alba. Notice the different ways that connective tissue can separate.

In short, recovery from abdominal separation, is a whole body solution, not just about quick abdominal exercises every now and then. And, it might take you a year or two to rebuild your strength. This goes for vaginal births and caesarean births too.

So, I suggest reading Katy Bowmans book Diastisis Recti: The whole body solution to abdominal weakness and seaparation and avoiding the following yoga poses.

You know what? Also avoid these poses if you are 0-12 weeks postpartum:

  • AVOID - Full boat pose, plank pose/half plank, headstand, yoga poses that involve strong force on the abdominals
  • AVOID - Over dramatic/strong back bends like bow pose, wheel and anything that puts force, load and stretching on the abdominals. You will make it worse.
  • AVOID - twists. There is a gentle twist that is ok in Katys book that is really gentle and beneficial to stretching the waist and hips. But generally twists encourage separation.
  • AVOID - weights - CARRY YOUR BABY INSTEAD. Swap from left to right using your arm strength, not your hips. Carry your baby on your back, front side, alternate! 

Ok, so lets be positive now, WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Firstly, get Katys book, shes amazing, and has so much knowledge. She'll tell it to you straight and in a way you will understand, trust me!

Heres a list of things you can do in yoga land for abdominal separation:

  • Breath awareness. Where do you breath? If its all in your belly, you're probably putting too much force in the abdominal cavity. Do you breathe shallow in your chest? Sit in a comfortable position and notice your breath. Try belly breathing to begin with for 10 breaths, then add the ribs and then try to breath with the chest too. Then try to breath with all three parts, belly, ribs and chest. This is called Three part breath or yogic breath. Don't worry if you don't get it first go, it can take practice, be kind to yourself. Its as much about relaxation, as it is about awareness.
  • All fours, gentle cat cow with attention to not expanding too much into the belly, calf stetches, forward bends
  • Gentle back bends, reclining poses with supports
  • Hip opening poses with supports
  • childs pose with variations (see Katys book)
  • Hamstring stretches, side/waist stretches
  • lunges with variations
  • boat pose variation - if youre curious, ask me about it :)

This list is very simple and I would need a one on one session with each of you to really see what the whole body situation is. But, all of the things above are helping you to notice tension in your body, that are potentially taking the load of your body, that your abdominals should be helping out with. Your abdominals should work without you having to switch them on intentionally and you shouldn't have to hold your muscles all the time for them to work. 

Oh by the way, DON'T BRACE YOUR ABDOMINALS, DON'T SUCK YOUR TUMMY IN AND DROP YOUR RIBS DOWN. You are not a gymnast or a circus performer. Im sure they have so many physical body problems from the way they contort their bodies. LET YOUR MUMMY BELLY HANG, DON'T HOLD IT IN, THIS INCREASES FORCE IN THE ABDOMINALS. You gotta let it go. Once you start to let this go, your organs will shift back into their original place and you'll also breathe easier.

Anyway, theres so much I could say, but I've said enough for now. I hope that you find this helpful. I see postpartum as a time to rest and reflect on the incredible work that your body has just done. As I said at the beginning, postpartum recovery if unique for each woman. But, make sure you check with your careproviders, Chiros or physios before starting a strong exercise program. You can make things worse if you force your body at this delicate time.

Please comment below if you have any questions or would like to see a postnatal recovery workshop in the near future. 

Love Lauren x

The Q to the A...An informative Interview with Lisa Taylor on Gestational Diabetes...

I've been meaning to post this interview for a while on Gestational Diabetes with the lovely Lisa Taylor fromwww.gestationaldiabetesrecipes.com

Here goes...(Ps that Mango Lassi to the left looks amazing!) Check out the recipes on Lisa's site.

Firstly congrats on your beautiful website and success in the media, how did the website come about?

Thanks! I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) in 2009 while pregnant with our son. It was a really rough journey. I went from feeling awesome and in the prime of my pregnancy, to being diagnosed with diabetes overnight and having to watch everything I ate, drank and thought about eating or drinking! At the time I was just trying to get through it. But post-pregnancy, I just kept coming back to the thought that surely eating with GDM didn't have to be that depressing. There had to be some delicious meals you could eat!? So I started researching and sure enough, I discovered that basically no-one had taken the time to develop a recipe resource because most health practitioners think the period a woman has GDM for is really short. Sure, it can be for around 14 weeks, but that adds up to about 300 meals which all have to adhere to the strict diet. So I partnered up with a fantastic accredited practising dietitian who reviews all the content I write and I started adapting and creating recipes that I love, but for the GDM diet. I also feel that the mental health side of the GDM experience is almost entirely overlooked in the health system. So we have a section with interviews with 'Other Mothers' who've had GDM in the hope that their stories inspire or normalise what many other women are going through. We get around 10,000 visit a month from all around the world and lots of heartwarming and encouraging feedback weekly. I'm really proud of what we've started. 

Can you tell us a little bit about gestational diabetes? And why a specific diet is necessary to keep it under control? 

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a (usually) temporary form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. It happens when the hormones made by the placenta during pregnancy make it harder for your insulin to work. Insulin is a hormone that helps process your food and keeps your blood glucose level stable. If you can’t make enough insulin your blood glucose levels will rise. High blood glucose levels can cause the baby to put on too much weight and this can impact on the baby’s wellbeing and your delivery, and can affect the baby’s health later in its life. The whole premise of the GDM diet is to moderate your fat and carbohydrate intake, two things which make it harder for your body's insulin to breakdown glucose in your blood. The idea is to eat the same amount of carbs at roughly the same time of the day to keep your blood glucose levels stable. It really is surprising to discover how much carbohydrate we are actually eating and drinking. I was shocked and definitely have a much better understanding of nutrition because of GDM. The other part of the GDM diet is exercise. You are encouraged to exercise for half an hour, twice a day. I would walk in the morning and in the evening and I have never been so fit in my life! 

When you found out you had gestational diabetes, how did you feel? 

I was completely floored. Similar to what many women say, I had been eating well and exercising quite regularly so why me!? There was no diabetes history in my family and I was 31 years young. I went through a cycle of emotions common to most women diagnosed with GDM. First there was shock, then denial, then guilt, then anger and then depression. Looking back I would say that I didn't feel like I received individualised care from my hospital. It was routine, thorough and rigorous but I was never really asked how I was doing emotionally. Each week I would present my finger prick blood test results and my food diary and be told I had one more week to get my numbers into line before I'd have to inject insulin. In hindsight, I wonder if this was simply a tactic to keep me on track. I felt afraid and worried most of the time because of this threat and the dietary restrictions. But I am proud of myself that I kept up the diet and exercise and came out the other end with a healthy and happy baby. 

What advice can you give pregnant ladies with gestational diabetes? And how can your site help them besides the yummy recipes?

I would suggest they read our factsheets on Understanding GDM and Eating Well before going to their first appointment.
http://gestationaldiabetesrecipes.com/understanding-gdm/
http://gestationaldiabetesrecipes.com/eating-well/ 

It should get you thinking and generating questions you can ask your diabetes counsellor - it's really important to begin your journey with GDM from a place of enquiry and education not from fear and misinformation. The faster you can move from shock, sadness and sorrow to action, motivation and inspiration the better off you will be. 

Read some of our 'Other Mothers' interviews http://gestationaldiabetesrecipes.com/community/other-mothers/to learn how other women have gotten through it all. And then finally, make a big cup of tea and sit down for half an hour and flick through our delicious recipes and see all the yummy things you will be able to eat. Personally I would also suggest women think about the benefits of joining GDM forums or chat sites (on baby blogs or Facebook). I feel like there is a lot more chest thumping and tear-jerking than positive messages. You have diabetes, you will get through it, now move forward. Sure, you won't be able to eat a slice of banana bread everyday of your pregnancy but there are some big payoffs like; laying the foundation for good nutrition for your children, changing your eating habits for the better and staying fit during pregnancy and beyond. I try to think that I'm lucky that I was given a heads up that that I am at-risk of developing type 2 diabetes in later life. I've been given a chance to do something about it now, rather than when it's too late. 

What are the fears relating to birth and GDM? How was your birth experience?

I think there is a fear that your choices will be taken away from you, but my experience was positive. My son was 10 days over his due date (which was the limit at my hospital as there is a higher risk of still birth with GDM pregnancies) and the midwives tried 3 different forms of induction (a balloon catheter, the gel and breaking my waters) before they moved me across to the labour ward where I ended up having syntocinon (induction with synthetic hormones). Despite that, the midwives from the birth centre came with me to the labour ward which made me feel right at home. Following the labour, my baby and I had our blood glucose levels tested and the GDM went away (as it usually does) in the 24-48 hours post labour. 

So glad you had a positive experience. Lastly, whats your favourite piece of inspiration for pregnancy & birth? A quote, an affirmation, a thought?, something that helps to get you through the challenges.... 

I think the proverb, 'This too shall pass' must have been created specifically with mothers and mothers-to-be in mind! For me it's a really powerful reminder in both good and bad times.

Thanks so much Lisa. Ladies if you want to check out some really yummy recipes and great up to date information on Gestational diabetes, pop on over to Lisa's site. www.gestationaldiabetesrecipes.com

RESCUING MY SON FROM HIS 2AM YOGA POSE...

In the wee hours of this morning, 2.35am to be exact, I woke to my son screaming and crying. So being a super hero, I bolted out of bed to rescue him from danger. 

I was expecting the worst. My son lying on the floor after falling out of bed, or perhaps in the cupboard looking for the door to his room. (It runs in the family, we are night walking, talking, kicking, arm flailing during our sleep type characters.)

When I got to his door, I was surprised to see a most peculiar yoga pose he had formed with use of props he had stumbled upon. He used the 'Little white chair' for support and the 'bed rail' to give him the lift in his legs. I was half way between distress and hysterical laughter, as I noticed he was trying to master a Adho Mukha Vrksasana (handstand) or perhaps even Pincha Mayurasana (forearm balance) in his sleep.

Im only sorry I didn't get a proper photo of it. I know thats mean, but his alignment and balance was incredible. He came and slept with me in our bed and woke me up again at 6am. 

Thats how we do it at our house!!

Tell me about your son or daughters yoga practice. Have you got anything funny to share?

The most hectic day of my life

Going by the photo, it looks like we had a fun day. My sons hair is messy, I'm smiling and the weather seems glorious.

What started as a 'good' day, ended with no sleep, many tantrums, shampoo on the floor (the whole bottle), drawings on the wall, a nice little push to the tv and a kick in the breast. 

I called this post 'The most hectic day of my life', a) because it seemed pretty hectic at the time, b) because I wanted to grab your attention and c) because I'm curious about our use of the terms 'good' and 'bad' to describe experiences.

How do you define a good day or a bad day?

Good is usually associated with happiness, laughter and when things go according to plan or to your liking. A bad day is associated with chaos, stress and perhaps anger or when things don't meet your expectations.

I often reflect at the end of each day on how I reacted/responded to certain situations and whether I could have dealt with things differently. I also try not to define the day by words like 'good' or 'bad' because I feel like those words are both very subjective based on personal experiences and perspective. What may be an okay day to one, may be a day of 'gold' to another, and a challenging day may even be a huge learning experience and where the most growth is being made as a parent and a child. 

I find that the most challenging days are the most rewarding, even though this is usually realised in hindsight. 

Today was a particularly challenging day for me and it was mainly because I wanted my 2 hours to myself when my son usually sleeps. When I realised he wasn't going to sleep, I was quite frustrated and angry with him, but I quickly figured out that it wasn't about him, it was about my own expectations. Unfortunately being a mum, you don't often get a choice on what your day entails, its the luck of the draw, its fly by the seat of your pants and if you get time to practice yoga for 20 minutes you sing hallelujah! 

Pema Chodron's most recent quote on her facebook page is:

"Chaos should be regarded as very good news."

I really like this. Because theres nothing wrong with chaos. Chaos is a sign of change, of movement, of growth and energy. Chaos is trying to move us, to change us, to provoke us, to challenge us.

Be challenged parents! Let it hurt like hell and enjoy that gritty, frustrating, raw emotion associated with parenting and children.

Its all good.

Oops...

Its all...as it should be.

Namaste

Lauren