Giving Birth During Covid-19

Many women in our community are worried about how their maternity care will be affected by practices put in place when giving birth during Covid-19. 

These protocols and procedures are due to hospitals and medical centres preparing for potentially large numbers of infected patients. Fortunately cases of Covid-19 have remained manageable in Australia. 

For the pregnant, birthing and postnatal women in our community, Covid-19 has thrown them a curve ball. Even a straightforward and healthy pregnancy and birth comes with some apprehension. Now, women are concerned about how the new protocols and procedures will affect them and their connection within the health system. 

So what does maternity care and birth during Covid-19 look like? 

We asked Dr Danielle Wilkins, obstetrician and Director of Maternity Services at Cabrini Health, to give us an insight into what it is like for the women in her care during this pandemic.

Dr Wilkins answers all of our questions with an open and honest frankness relaying the message that pregnancy, birthing and the postnatal period can still be a beautiful and calm experience amidst Covid-19.

For women who are concerned about how their maternity care and birth during Covid-19 will look, this information can be a starting point to research options and make an informed decision about maternity care providers.

How are you coping during Covid-19? 

What a roller coaster this year has been! The highs are seeing how optimistic, adaptable and focused pregnant women are when their lives are turned upside down.

The challenges are working with those who are finding these changes overwhelming and the lows are not knowing what is around the corner. 

What’s it like for you as a doctor in the current situation?

This is such an emotional time. I found myself, like so many Australians, watching the international news in abject horror, unable to look away as my colleagues around the world try to fight this virus without protection, without rest and without success. I was losing sleep thinking about them day after day and night after night. So I had to listen to the same advice I have been handing out and I had to stop watching.

What’s it like for your prenatal clients in this time?

I have approximately 90 women who I am actively caring for at the moment. Since the restrictions in Australia started I have been keeping in touch with them much more closely than usual via a fortnightly email update. Through this I have kept them abreast of all the work that Cabrini has done to keep them safe and to keep them informed, negating any surprises.

I have introduced telehealth into Obstetrics which previously we thought would be of little or no benefit, and this has been pleasantly well received by those that have chosen to use it. I have encouraged all of my clients to make the informed choice themselves and to use the telehealth system as the safest option but if they prefer they can still come in for a face to face appointment.

I believe that providing them with relevant local information and also giving them options is helping them to navigate the situation.

What is the experience of women giving birth during Covid-19?

Fortunately we have yet to have a Covid-19 positive pregnancy in Victoria, nor have we had a positive partner or support person. Our women are able to have their one support person with them throughout their labour and their postnatal stay.

We are continuing to provide them with one-on-one midwifery support. The big changes have been for those women planning to have more than one support person with them, and for some women this was a very sudden change. But women are resilient! 

We have received feedback about how comfortable it was just having the 4 people present for the birth.  They are reassured they still have all the pain relief options available as needed.

Many of my clients were emotional about the postnatal stay, when relatives and friends would normally come to the hospital to meet the newborn. What has been striking is how rested the mums are, how connected they become with their midwife who has less juggling to do around visitors and how much easier they are finding it to breastfeed on demand.

What are the procedures in place for Covid-19 positive cases? 

We have a statewide guideline for any Covid-19 positive pregnancy cases which we have adapted for Cabrini. 

We have modified our largest room in the birth suite to accommodate anyone who is positive or suspected to be positive during labour and we have a guideline for partners and support people as well. These guidelines ensure the full support of the couple as well as the safety of all of our staff.

The trickier situation is the symptomatic Covid-19 positive partner or support person – this person will not be able to enter the hospital if they are symptomatic. This is a huge incentive for self isolation close to term.

Would the new mother stay together with her baby to breastfeed?

There was a wonderful success story out of Brisbane last week relating to this. The couple would need to wear gloves and a surgical mask when handling their newborn whilst they were considered to be infectious, but as long as they are well their baby will stay with them and they will be assisted with breastfeeding and encouraged to do so if that is their desire.  We will encourage these families to return home as soon as it is safe to do so and provide them with telephone support once home.

What could a birthing woman expect during her time in hospital?

Women can expect one-on-one midwifery care, a large room to mobilise with an ensuite with shower.  They will not be able to use nitrous and air for pain relief as it may increase the viral load in the room and put other staff at an increased risk.

The staff who provide their care will all be wearing full PPE (personal protection equipment). Whenever the woman and her support person move through a public part of the hospital they will be escorted by staff, will be required to wear a surgical mask, and asked not to touch anything along the journey. 

We will discuss their wishes for pain relief and explain that there may be benefits to an epidural if they are considering one. This is because all procedures will take a little more time to be performed as safely as possible, and in the event of any emergency in obstetrics we like to be as prepared as possible.

A paediatrician will be present at the birth, as overseas data has suggested that the babies to Covid-19 positive women sometimes need some initial support to transition from inside to outside the uterus. This is only for a brief period in the vast majority of cases. 

What is giving birth during Covid-19 like for women who are healthy and well?

Unchanged!  We are wearing a little more PPE for births but that is not affecting our communication or support for women, nor our ability to provide one-on-one midwifery care.  You can expect us to be wearing a clear visor, a surgical mask and a gown during the pushing stage of labour.

What are the main challenges women face with these new protocols? How are you finding their adaptation?

Women are finding their strengths, they are finding their way. Those that had different plans for support through their birth are spending prenatal time telehealthing with their support team and working together to develop strategies and plans for the different stages of labour and birth. 

There is so much support for them already online and I have included a lot of this information in my newsletters to help support them. I am constantly impressed but not surprised by their determination and ability to adapt. 

What is it like for women after they give birth during Covid-19? 

This is a challenging time for first-time mums who are very nervous about not having the support of maternal and child health nurses, mother’s groups and in many cases their parents and families.

I am encouraging them prior to their labour and birth to make plans for accessing support, to be prepared and to know they can continue to link in via the phone and via telehealth.  We may soon see an easing in restrictions which will put our first-time mums at ease I think. 

Your final thoughts on what you believe it is important for people to know…?

Keep doing the right thing.  Read what is relevant and don’t get overwhelmed by what isn’t. It is really important to remember that we are all in this together and we are all getting through it together because we are doing what is best.  And remember to look up.

Giving Birth During Covid-19

About Dr Danielle Wilkins

Dr Danielle is an obstetrician and the Director of Maternity Services at Cabrini Health. Her practice rooms are located at Cabrini Mother and Baby Centre. She offers individualised care to the twelve women she sees each month through her boutique obstetric practice.

Danielle graduated with honours from Monash University, trained at Monash Health and gained twelve months of obstetrics and gynaecology experience working in a busy unit in Ireland.

She spent nine years as the Director of Women’s Health training at Monash Medical Centre, and six years as the Discipline Coordinator for Women’s Health for Monash University. She was the Head of the Multiple Pregnancy Unit at Monash Health before moving to her current role at Cabrini.

Danielle has extensive experience caring for twin pregnancies and supporting women wishing to have a normal birth after a caesarean birth.

Dr Danielle Wilkins can be found at Cabrini Mother and Baby Centre, Cabrini  Hospital Malvern,  Level 2, 183 Wattletree Rd, Malvern

 

Massage In Times Of Coronavirus (Covid-19)

We at Nurtured Birth are happy to announce that after six weeks of no massage in the time of coronavirus (Covid-19) we’re reopening for limited massage sessions. 

As Covid-19 became a new reality within our community, we made the difficult decision to close our doors temporarily. This move was to keep our clients, staff and families safe.

It has been over six weeks of self-isolation and social distancing and no massaging.

All of us at Nurtured Birth miss our clients, especially our pregnant and postnatal mums. We know how daunting pregnancy and early motherhood can be, with the physical and emotional changes both bring. 

Massage therapy provides support for the physical and emotional aspects of pregnancy and to provide the best care possible for a safe and healthy pregnancy.

Massage In Times Of Coronavirus (Covid-19)

We are sure all our pregnant and postnatal clients are in need of a massage treatment, with the special care, support and expertise that only Nurtured Birth can provide.

Nurtured Birth will reopen for limited massage sessions at the Windsor rooms, beginning Thursday 7th May 2020. 

Reopening our clinic for massage therapy is exciting news, but massage during Covid-19 times means extra protocols and precautions to keep us all safe and healthy.

Protocols For Massage & Covid-19

Nurtured Birth will reopen as per the Victorian Government legislation and following the advice of our association, Massage and Myotherapy Australia (MMA).

In Victoria, as of 17th April 2020, MMA confirmed remedial massage and myotherapy members are permitted to provide professional services at this time.

We have enlisted the following protocols for our clinic:

  1. Appointment times are spread out to provide time for thorough cleaning and disinfecting between clients.
  2. Only one client in the clinic at a time.
  3. Clients must wait in their car until the therapist contacts them to enter the clinic for their treatment.
  4. Hand sanitizer provided on entry and exit of clinic.
  5. All clients asked screening questions prior to their treatment. 

Precautions for Massage During Covid-19

Dr Norman Swan, Australian physician, journalist and broadcaster has provided guidelines for massage therapists through MMA.

The following precautions are important for massage therapists to use as a guide to massage during Covid-19, to protect clients and keep themselves and their families safe.

  1. Screening questions need to be asked at the time of booking and/or at presentation to the clinic at the beginning of the appointment.
  • Do you feel well? Do you have any symptoms of cough or cold, fever, difficulty breathing?
  • Have you travelled overseas in the last 14 days?
  • Have you had contact with anybody who has tested positive for Covid-19?

Any positive results from this screening process would be reason to postpone the appointment.

  1. Washing hands with soap and water thoroughly for 20 seconds.

Covid-19 is a virus with a fatty outer layer. Soap dissolves this layer of fat and makes the virus inactive. This stops the spread of the covid-19 virus. 

Alcohol-based hand sanitizer works the same way but you need to use more  liquid to cover all areas of your hands.  Gloves are optional but generally do not provide protection from infection unless in a sterile environment.

  1. Masks for the therapist are not essential but make sense as a precaution due to massage putting the client and therapist in close personal proximity.
  2. Waiting area – limit and organise appointments to only one person at a time and/or allow for 1.5m distance in waiting areas; remove all reading material; clean regularly with alcohol wipes/disinfectant.
  3. Creams and oils used in massage are for single use only. Washing hands with soap and water after treatment is important to remove all products from the skin.

General Facts About Covid-19

Every day we’re learning more about Covid-19 and how it is spreading around the world. There is also much research going into treatment for those who are infected and also prevention of the virus.  

Covid-19 has some things in common with influenza but they’re caused by different viruses. We do know Covid-19 is mutating slowly. Influenza has a shorter incubation rate but Covid-19 is more contagious and has a higher mortality rate. Covid-19 has a more devastating effect on older people and those with chronic health issues.

The common symptoms of Covid-19 can be similar to a cold or flu:

  • Fever
  • Tiredness
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Breathlessness.

Other symptoms have emerged that not everyone experiences but may indicate cover-19 infection:

  • Aches and chills
  • Nasal congestion
  • Loss of taste and smell.

The major risk factors are contact with an infected person and overseas travel. 

Self isolation and social distancing are important to reduce the spread of contact transmission. Australia is doing well in preventing the spread of Covid-19 and the health system is prepared well to deal with any patients.

For more information, news, advice and support about Covid-19:

Massage Appointments During Covid-19

We are happy to be able to massage again and would love to see you in Nurtured Birth’s clinic space as soon as possible. Our healing hands are ready and waiting for you to arrive.

Please make a booking for a well deserved massage at Nurtured Birth:

Author: Sharon Clarke, Remedial Massage Therapist at Nurtured Birth

Does Pregnancy Make You Feel Touched Out?

During pregnancy it’s not uncommon for women to feel touched out at some point.

Pregnancy can be a very exciting time and brings many changes, some of which are new, confusing and completely unexpected. 

You might discover you can’t eat your favourite ice cream; you cry at the drop of a hat; or have incredibly vivid dreams. 

There are many wonderful and unexpected changes going on in your body during pregnancy. One of them you might find very surprising is to find you really dislike being touched. 

It can range from not wanting to be touched by strangers to avoiding certain forms of intimacy (like a kiss on the cheek). Some women feel physically ill in the presence of certain people. 

Other pregnant women find they become intolerant to certain people, including their partner. You might find this aversion to touch can heighten your interactions with people, leaving you feeling tense and anxious. 

 The difficulty is people are drawn to pregnant bellies and their desire to touch is often well intentioned. Often pregnant women think they’re being silly or feel guilty about not liking being touched. 

pregnancy touched out

It doesn’t help when people use language that makes you feel you’re public property. Family might say things such as ‘it’s not just your baby in there, it’s our grandchild’. A friend might say ‘but I never minded it when people touched my belly’. Strangers might comment on your size, their own pregnancy experience, or tell you horror stories about birth.

This increases your anxiety about allowing those people into your personal space. It’s ok to not like being touched but many of us never really question what’s behind this aversion during pregnancy.  

Why do I feel touched out during pregnancy? 

It’s believed your amazing pregnancy hormones change the way your brain deals with information. Feeling touched out during pregnancy can last weeks and months. 

Aversion is your primal instinct saying ‘no thanks, I don’t want that, I don’t like it’. It protects you from harm. Even though it doesn’t seem rational a person touching your belly could cause you harm, pregnancy hormones do fascinating things with deep feelings. 

Women are conditioned to accept certain behaviour is normal when they’re pregnant, and feel guilty that they don’t like it. Your response is a signal from a primal level in your body and mind.

Whether it’s a physical or emotional signal being triggered, spend some time honestly exploring your response to being touched. This can help you to connect with yourself on a deeper level, paving the way for more positive interactions. 

Here are 6 of the more common reasons why women feel touched out during pregnancy. 

#1: The lioness instinct

Many women feel very protective of their body and baby when they’re pregnant. You’re creating another human being and while that’s exciting, there’s also a lot of anxiety about doing it ‘right’. 

Should you be eating this? Is it safe to go to that place? Will you make a good mother? Are your needs being met? Do you have underlying fears about pregnancy or birth? You might be overwhelmed by information and advice, or feeling incredibly unsupported by those around you. 

Feeling on guard and anxious can heighten your lion mama heart. Seeing a hand stretching out to touch your belly can trigger a sense of protectiveness towards your baby. 

#2: Unresolved feelings

When there’s one person in particular who makes you recoil, it’s likely there are unresolved deeper issues and feelings with that person. This might be your partner, a close family member or friend. 

In a recent interview, Sarah says “Be observant about what’s happening…If you’re feeling really triggered, think what’s going on behind that reaction — there might be underlying emotional stuff that needs to be addressed.”

Going deeper into those feelings and working through them can benefit you. Carrying negative feelings during pregnancy creates tension in your muscles, disrupts your mind-body connection, and can show up during labour and birth.

#3: Past trauma and aversions

We know there’s a link between past experiences of trauma or abuse and touch aversion. This is something that may have happened long ago and is triggered by feeling vulnerable and anxious about being in control of your body during pregnancy.  

There may also be a buried memory of a personal or observed experience that has been linked to being touched during pregnancy. This can be triggered by a smell, a sound or feeling judged. Some women are body conscious, stemming from their early childhood experiences; which triggers an intense aversion to being touched.  

#4: You are still you

You may feel having your belly touched makes you feel less like a person and more like an incubator. Pregnant women are still women, yet there are people who think body autonomy doesn’t apply when a pregnant belly is involved. 

There is also the sense you’re not being seen for yourself as a pregnant woman. This can have a significant impact on your emotional wellbeing. Many new mamas feel they are forgotten in the excitement around the baby. This can lead to feeling isolated and without support, triggering a protectiveness or physical dislike to being touched. 

#5: Cultural differences

Different cultures have their own beliefs and traditions relating to pregnancy. When someone automatically reaches out to touch a pregnancy belly, they are ignoring the potential cultural differences.

In certain cultures there are customs and traditions about touching a pregnant belly that have negative consequences for the mother or the baby. Or strangers touching your belly can cause disapproval from your community. 

This can leave you feeling incredibly protective about being touched and possibly anxious about having to prevent it happening. 

#6: Sensory overwhelm

Even if this is your first baby and you don’t have other children constantly

 

grabbing you, there’s a baby inside of you and this can lead to feeling touched all the time. 

Often it’s a beautiful feeling, knowing you’re never alone. But pregnancy can make you feel super sensitive to sensations and touch. This is commonly known as feeling touched out. 

Feeling touched out often happens when too much is going on, your senses are overwhelmed. A person rubbing your belly can be the last straw andtrigger a physical feeling of aversion. 

What can I do about feeling touched out?

We’re hardwired to want contact with other human beings. Being pregnant doesn’t make this less so, rather it increases our need to be connected with our community. 

Talking about it to your partner, family and friends can help them to understand it’s not about them. Feeling touched out during pregnancy is usually temporary. Their respectful and sensitive understanding can help you to feel connected and safe. 

If overwhelm is a trigger, bring some awareness on how you can take care of yourself. This can be simply getting enough sleep, eating well and spending some mindful time in the fresh air and sunshine. 

You may need to learn to ask for and accept help when you need it. Self care or self love is a common phrase we hear today, but it’s an important reminder to prioritise meeting our own needs. 

Overwhelm can be a sign of something deeper. Having a trusted support person such as a doula can help you explore and create space for working through concerns, such as fear around birth or anxiety about your baby’s wellbeing. Therapies such as yoga and massage can also help you restore a positive connection with your body. 

You don’t owe strangers free access to your body, under any circumstances. The way you feel about being touched might not change. Being aware of your aversion to touch can empower you to respond to someone’s intention to touch you without feeling guilty or ashamed that you don’t like it. 

Find out more about Nurtured Birth and the services we offer that may support you through pregnancy here.

Author: Sam McCulloch, Wordsmith at Nurtured Birth

Top 5 Benefits of Prenatal Yoga Online During Covid-19

Nurtured Birth is now offering our prenatal yoga classes online with Zoom so we can continue to support expectant families during the Covid-19 pandemic. To book your place in our online prenatal yoga class click the button below. 

WHEN: Every Tuesday  6:15pm till 7:30pm

COST: 15+gst

 

2020 is shaping up to be a very different year for all of us. As Covid-19 sweeps through communities across the entire world, we are left feeling apprehensive and uncertain about what the future holds for us. 

These feelings are enhanced for expectant parents. Not only do they worry about keeping themselves safe, but also about their unborn baby and the uncertain future they are bringing a newborn into. 

During this time of the unknown and of isolation it is more important than ever pregnant women have avenues of support, comfort and safety.

It is essential to find ways to draw the focus towards themselves, their pregnancy and the joys it brings, rather than the confusion of the outside world.

Prenatal yoga is a wonderful way for pregnant women to care for themselves and their changing bodies.

There are a variety of changes a woman experiences during her pregnancy; changes to the body, the mind and energy levels. Prenatal yoga is a great way to listen to, cope with, find support and connect positively with these changes.

Top 5 Benefits of Prenatal Yoga Online During Covid-19

Pregnant women can practice yoga within the safety and comfort of their own home. Prenatal yoga online offers a calm and restorative therapy for the physical body and emotional state, supporting the flow towards a happy, healthy, pregnancy and birth. 

  1. Body & mind connection: improve your emotional state in these uncertain times

Taking stock of your current mental health is important when travelling through the trimesters of pregnancy. It helps you to understand what areas of your life are overwhelmed and when you might need support. 

Prenatal yoga brings about a mind-body connection as it includes working the physical body alongside the mental and emotional being. The deep breathing and mindfulness exercises used in prenatal yoga promote calmness and ease the emotional ups and downs pregnancy brings.

Attending regular online classes is a way of forming routines and this in turn helps us to feel in control of our own lives and destiny.

Prenatal yoga helps to release ‘feel good’ endorphins that lifts our mood and energy levels. This improves your state of mind during these uncertain times. 

  1. Physical fitness and strength: happy and healthy, prepared for birth and beyond

Prenatal yoga can not only enhance the mind-body connection but also supports your changing body. You learn how to listen to your body, work within your body limitations, and trust your body. 

We know exercise in general improves your physical fitness. During pregnancy you can continue your normal exercise regime, being guided by your body, your trainers and health professionals, making adjustments as your pregnancy moves forward.  

Even for those who don’t do regular exercise, prenatal yoga is a gentle way to allow you to strengthen your muscles to support your body during pregnancy, prepare for birth, and assist in recovery postnatally.

During pregnancy, changes in your body can happen quickly and your body can need help adjusting and accommodating. Prenatal yoga offers pregnant women optimal ways to stretch and strengthen their muscles to support their growing belly, improve circulation and flexibility.

Prenatal yoga eases common pregnancy complaints such as headaches, back and joint pain, shortness of breath and insomnia. It is important to keep core, abdominal and pelvic muscles strong during pregnancy. Keeping these areas toned and functioning helps support the body, as well as assisting the birth process and recovery after birth.

Even during Covid-19 isolation it is still important to focus on our health and fitness. Our society may be slowing down but pregnancy doesn’t stop or slow down so keeping yourself well is vital. Prenatal yoga is available online so you can continue with your exercise program.

  1. Breathing techniques: what you learn in pregnancy, carries through to birth

Prenatal yoga improves muscle tone and leads you to understand where tension is held in your body. Prenatal yoga teaches you to practice simple breathing techniques to release and let go of tension, especially on days when the current situation seems overwhelming.

Learning and practicing breathing techniques can help assist with reduced lung capacity during pregnancy and in lowering blood pressure.

Breathing techniques practiced during prenatal yoga can be carried through to birth. When in labour, focusing upon your breath cycle and using practiced techniques allow for a smoother and more positive birth experience.

  1. Mum and baby connection: build a bond and prepare to meet your little one

Regularly attending prenatal yoga classes is an act of self-care and a reminder to let go of the stresses of life and focus inward to bond with your developing baby.

Engaging your senses and developing an awareness of this little human living inside your body begins the connection. The pregnant woman can use techniques to visualise their baby and grow this connection.

This is important as the connection will continue between mother and baby during labour and bonding after birth. 

As your belly grows, prenatal yoga helps you learn and appreciate the amazing work your body is doing: growing and nurturing your baby.

  1. Connection with others: building community and support 

Although we are in isolation we do not need to feel isolated. A regular prenatal yoga class creates a sense of community and connects you socially with a support network that continues after your baby is born. 

Nurtured Birth’s prenatal yoga teacher Lanie shared:

I love that we are still able to offer something during this challenging time. It can be so isolating and I worry about expecting mums having to be without all the usual activities that support their growing pregnant bodies. Although it is not my preferred way of teaching, as I do love teaching in the studio and being with people in person getting to know each of the students, I do understand that we all have to be adaptive in this current unprecedented situation.

Prenatal yoga online is a wonderful opportunity to bond with other expectant mums, forming friendships and the beginning of a valuable support network.

To begin enriching your pregnancy journey with prenatal yoga online, please contact us or visit our prenatal yoga page for sign up for yoga classes. 

All prenatal yoga classes during Covid-19 will now be online using Zoom until further notice.

Author: Sharon Clarke, Remedial Massage Therapist at Nurtured Birth

6 Top Tips To Prepare For Successful Breastfeeding

Successful breastfeeding is expected by most new mamas, because it’s … well, natural.

The truth is, since the beginning of time, new mamas naturally fed their babies after watching and learning from other women around them. It’s only been in our recent history that breastfeeding has come less naturally to new mothers.

Changes in social attitudes meant birth and breastfeeding became less visible. Our grandmothers, mothers and our own generation missed out on that vital firsthand experience of watching others go through these life-changing events.

It’s actually not surprising that today while most new mamas do breastfeed their newborns after birth, very few continue to exclusively breastfeed until 6 months.

We know how important breastfeeding is for babies and mothers, and getting it right from the start is key to a successful breastfeeding relationship.

If you are a mama-to-be who wants to prepare for breastfeeding, here are some valuable tips to ensure your journey is successful:

#1: Learn about successful breastfeeding before birth

Research indicates quality education about postnatal parenting and breastfeeding is the best step to ensure a successful breastfeeding experience.

Learning about breastfeeding before you give birth means you have the time and energy to actually take on the information. Trying to learn about breastfeeding when you and baby are recovering from birth can be overwhelming.

You’re also more likely to implement some of the other tips covered in this blog post. How you decide to learn about breastfeeding can be through attending a class, such as those the Australian Breastfeeding Association runs, antenatal classes at your hospital, or with a private lactation consultant (see tip #6 for more information).

#2: Understand normal newborn behaviour

I don’t think there’s a parent alive who hasn’t been in the presence of their newborn for the first 24 hours and thought ‘wow, we hit the jackpot with a quiet sleeping baby’.  The first 24 hours or so after birth, a newborn tends to sleep a lot, feed a little, and maybe cry some too.

Then 1-3 days after birth, your baby is more awake and aware. They also realise food isn’t on tap anymore, are quite hungry and cry a lot more. They tend to want to feed very frequently.

This is actually very normal newborn behaviour. They have small tummies and need to feed often, especially as they’re helping to increase their food source – your milk supply.

Most new mamas aren’t prepared for this change in their baby. They feel they’re doing something wrong, their baby isn’t getting enough milk and that’s the reason for the crying and fussiness.

This stage doesn’t last, but it can be very frustrating and exhausting when it does. Being aware that this is very likely to happen, and being patient with yourself and your baby is a step toward getting through this stage.

#3: Who’s got your back?

In the months and weeks before giving birth, have a look around your immediate support network. Who do you know breastfed for at least 6 months, even beyond? Ask that mama questions about what she felt helped her the most.

It’s a good idea to discuss your intentions to successfully breastfeed with your partner, family and close friends. Research shows partner support is one of the biggest factors in new mamas continuing to breastfeed. If you feel your partner might be less supportive or concerned, get along to a breastfeeding class together. Talk to your partner about how important it is to have their support.

Think carefully about the people in your life who are less likely to be supportive. Many women find the older generation has a very negative attitude towards breastfeeding. It can be wise to be aware of this and have a frank discussion beforehand about your intention to breastfeed and expectation they will refrain from being negative about it.

#4: Create a successful breastfeeding plan

It’s likely you’re already preparing your birth bliss plan, the document that lists your intentions and preferences when you go into labour. Include your breastfeeding bliss plan on your birth plan too. This should state your preferences for the first hour after birth (see tip #5).

In the first hour after birth, your baby will likely be quiet and alert, which is the perfect state for the first breastfeed. Stay skin-to-skin with your baby and allow your baby to seek your nipple.

This can take a little time but all babies have an innate instinct to find their mother’s nipple very soon after birth. Ask care providers to refrain from touching or forcing your baby to take the nipple until they’re ready.

It should be said, most maternity hospitals support early breastfeeding when labour and birth has been uncomplicated. It’s usually when you or baby have needed medical intervention that breastfeeding can be interrupted.

Where appropriate, have skin-to-skin with your baby (or with your partner). Where possible, seek support to feed your baby directly from your breast. It can be useful to have on your birth preferences that your baby is not to be given any artificial nipples or formula unless medically indicated and with your consent.

Babies in special care nurseries can be given breast milk by oral syringe or feeding tube, so ensure all care providers are aware of your preferences. Speak to the hospital lactation consultant (or your own) about pumps and how to best keep up your supply if you’re separated from your baby for some time.

#5: Plan for a normal birth

Women have been giving birth since the beginning of humanity with minimal intervention. It’s only been in the last few centuries we’re started to interfere with the process. Mostly this has been with good intention, to prevent anything risky from happening.

Unfortunately, intervention during labour has consequences and often the time after birth is affected but least considered. During your baby’s first hour, if they are given skin-to-skin contact with you, this helps them to regulate their temperature and respiration, boosts their immunity, helps with the third stage, and improves successful breastfeeding rates.

Babies born to mamas who haven’t had pain medication are also more likely to breastfeed than those mamas who have. That being said, if you do need medical intervention or choose to have pain medication, you don’t have to miss your baby’s first hour.

See tip #4 above for suggestions on how to make that work for you and your unique situation.

#6: Call the breastfeeding expert

It might seem pre-emptive to hire a lactation consultant when you’re pregnant and not yet breastfeeding. But when it’s day three after birth and you’re in tatters because your baby is crying and won’t latch and it seems impossible to go on, you will be glad to have your LC on speed dial.

A lactation consultant is a breastfeeding specialist. They have special training and can help identify what’s not working and how to resolve it. Most early breastfeeding challenges can be fixed, with the right, qualified support.

If hiring a private LC isn’t possible, ask your midwife what support is offered by your hospital or through your local council. Keep the Australian Breastfeeding Association helpline number handy for help too.

At Nurtured Birth we are here to support you in your journey to breastfeed after birth and beyond. Find out more about us and our services here.

Author: Sam McCulloch, Wordsmith at Nurtured Birth

Easy Ways You Can Prepare For Pregnancy Now

How to prepare for pregnancy seems like a no-brainer. Sperm meets egg, cells divide, baby grows…it doesn’t seem that complicated.

But your journey to motherhood starts long before you see that positive pregnancy test. Whether you’re trying to conceive on your own or with medical assistance, preparing for pregnancy is an important step to take to ensure a healthy baby and pregnancy.

Before you get serious about creating a new little human, there are some things you and your partner should think about. If you’ve already started the baby-making process, don’t worry – it’s never too late to make changes to improve your lifestyle and health.

Preconception check-up

The health of each parent is one of the key components of improving your chances of conception and a healthy pregnancy.

It takes about two to three months to form mature sperm and eggs take about 100 days to mature before ovulation. This means your current fertility status is the result of your lifestyle, diet, environment and health from three or so months in the past.

So you can see, it’s important to be as healthy as possible even before conceiving a baby. It’s a good idea for you and your partner to have a health check up to find out if there is anything that interferes with conception or a future pregnancy.

This check-up should take into consideration your diet and lifestyle, your medical and family medical history, any health conditions you have, medications you take, and any previous pregnancies.

Any long-term existing health conditions should have a management plan and be under control before you fall pregnant.

As you prepare for pregnancy, it’s also a good idea to book an appointment to see your dentist. Gum disease has been linked to pregnancy complications such as preterm labour, gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. If you need any fillings or dental work done, it’s better to have it done before you’re pregnant.

Your naturopath and other practitioners can support you to improve your overall health and fertility, to prepare for a healthy pregnancy. Lou from Nurtured Birth explains that an initial consultation with a naturopath would usually involve gaining a comprehensive understanding of your current health condition, past health concerns and other factors which are important for optimal fertility.

Here are some lifestyle tips to look at:

Prepare for pregnancy with nutrition

As said earlier, your current fertility status is the result of the past few months diet and lifestyle. Having both you and your partner in peak nutritional health at the time of conception increases the chances of a healthy baby and pregnancy.

Your body needs a regular supply of nutrients for growth, energy and regeneration. These requirements increase during the beginning of pregnancy to the end, and then beyond in the time after birth as you recover and nourish your baby.

Prepare for pregnancy by boosting your daily nutrients through the food you eat. While the occasional treat is fine, your diet should be comprised of the highest quality foods possible. You can enjoy a balanced diet with protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. As much as possible, avoid processed foods that provide empty calories with no nutritional value, such as biscuits and cakes. Instead aim to eat mostly vibrant, fresh fruit and vegetables.

A good place to start is to see your naturopath for an assessment of your current nutritional status.

This consultation would also include an analysis of your current food intake, with suggestions made to improve your diet. Your naturopath can work with you to create an individualised plan to ensure you get all the nutrition you and your partner need for a healthy conception.

Your baby also needs plenty of nutritional support, from the moment of conception. Adequate levels of vitamins and minerals are vital, including iron, calcium, iodine, omega-3 and selenium. Folate is very important as it helps to prevent spina bifida in babies.

Choose a prenatal supplement carefully or with the help of your naturopath. You may have specific needs which can’t be addressed by a generic prenatal supplement.

Healthy weight before pregnancy

If you are under or over your ideal weight, it’s important to address this before pregnancy if possible.

Being underweight can create problems for women trying to conceive, as it creates hormone imbalances that interfere with ovulation. Women in the underweight range are likely to take more than a year to conceive compared to women in the healthy weight range.

Being overweight can affect sperm motility and count so your partner’s weight also matters.

Conceiving at a healthy weight means pregnancy complications are also less likely to occur, and your baby has a better chance of being healthy at birth and into their future.

This means you are also likely to have a more positive birth experience. Why? Because health conditions increase your risk for complications that need medical intervention.

Prepare for pregnancy with exercise

How your body functions before you conceive can impact how your body copes with the changes that pregnancy and birth brings.

Exercise offers more than just physical fitness. You are learning how to work with your body, releasing feel-good hormones like endorphins, and paving the way to an easier labour and recovery after birth.

Don’t believe us? Studies have found that women who exercise during pregnancy have shorter labours and are less likely to need pain relief.

If you already exercise, you should be able to maintain your current program through most of your pregnancy. Be guided by your body and ensure you don’t overheat or push harder than your abilities.

Yoga, swimming and walking are brilliant ways to increase your exercise if you don’t do any. Yoga has the added benefit of helping you with the mind-body connection, something we’re big on at Nurtured Birth. You can find out more about Nurtured Birth’s prenatal classes here.

Quit smoking, alcohol & social drugs

We’re not here to judge but smoking, drinking alcohol, and taking drugs are the most problematic habits for overall health, fertility and pregnancy.

All of these substances can make it much more difficult to get pregnant and significantly increase the risk of miscarriage, birth defects and stillbirth.

Alcohol can harm a growing baby, causing birth defects, stillbirth and miscarriage. No one has been able to determine a safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, so it’s wise to abstain altogether. Drinking alcohol can also bring down your partner’s sperm count, affecting his fertility as well.

The use of marijuana also decreases sperm density and motility and increases the number of abnormal sperm. Recreational and street drugs are dangerous for you and pose huge risks for your baby.

Women who smoke find they’re more likely to have problems getting pregnant and higher risks of miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth and low for weight babies. Smoking in men causes damage to the DNA in sperm, while also decreasing sperm count and motility.

Babies born to mothers who smoke are at risk of SIDs, as well as health problems in their future. Passive smoking is also a risk for pregnant women and babies, so now’s a good time for your partner to stop smoking.

Caffeine & caffeinated drinks/foods

Most adults drink caffeine in some form or another, whether it’s your morning cup of tea, the coffee you ‘need’ to get through the day, or soft drink, even chocolate! And yes, we think it’s important you watch your caffeine intake.

High intake of caffeine may interfere with your ability to conceive, increase the risk of miscarriage, and of having a baby with low birth weight.

It’s best to limit your intake of caffeine to 300mg a day or avoid it as much as possible. Swap to decaffeinated coffee, try herbal or rooibos teas, and avoid energy drinks which are high in both caffeine and sugar.

Prepare for pregnancy by chilling

You might not think your emotional and mental health is related to your fertility. After all, what your brain is doing shouldn’t affect sperm meeting egg, should it?

We all experience stress and emotional upheavals. Low levels of stress occasionally are normal, we adapt and move on. It’s when we’re going through persistent high levels of stress we start to see the effects, both physically and emotionally. This can also affect fertility, as your body produces stress hormones which impact reproduction, such as interrupting your cycle and decreasing sperm quality.

Not to mention making it less likely you have the time and inclination to actually have sex at the optimal fertile time, adding to the stress of trying to conceive. Managing stress can be easier said than actually done and often couples need solid support in place to help them ease back on the stresses in their lives. Counselling can be a powerful tool, alongside therapies such as massage, yoga and exercise.

Taking stock of your current mental health is important when preparing for pregnancy. It can help you to understand what areas of your life are overwhelmed and need support.

Pregnancy doesn’t just bring physical changes, you are transitioning into a family and this can have a profound impact on you and your relationship. Take the time to invest in communication with your partner to discover how you can support each other on this exciting journey.

At Nurtured Birth we are here to support you as you prepare for pregnancy. Find out more about us and our services here.

Author: Sam McCulloch, Wordsmith at Nurtured Birth