Birth Story: The birth of Cole

There is a common misconception that second and third births are quicker and easier. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. It depends on many things – what you have been doing these last few years and so many other circumstances that come into play. Birth is a psychological process as much as a physical one.

Mostly I find that pre-labour can actually go on longer with subsequent births – which usually has to do with the first baby being taken care of, and mum allowing her body to go into labour. And sometimes we have spent so little time taking care of our bodies in subsequent pregnancies that we miss out on critical chiropractic and physiotherapy support leading to mal position. We forget that it’s critical to get back into ‘the zone’ of birth with our She Births® book and visualisations and talk with our partner about the upcoming changes. If you have done She Births® before remember that you can always sit in on a course a second time, or do the online program for revision.

This week’s birth story comes from Alena who gave birth to her third baby Cole in England. Alena’s story is a great example of how you can prepare the body and mind for a beautiful birth when equipped with the right tools and knowledge. It shows us that with each birth you are given an opportunity to learn something new about yourself, and to travel even deeper into the process and transformation each time. Alena was deeply committed to learning – she was humble in her preparation for birth even though she had done it twice before. She read more and continued researching birth all throughout pregnancy, and it paid off beautifully.

We LOVE hearing your birth stories so please keep them coming – either via facebook or email. In sharing them with our community you help us educate and inspire others.

Love and gratitude,
Nadine xxx

 

 

I am an Australian living in Bath in England, and have just had my third child, Cole – born 29 December 2016. My first two were born in Australia and I completed She Births with Nadine back in 2012 before the birth of my second.

 

How did your labour start?

Being 44 (almost 45), I was considered “high risk” and despite a very healthy and straight forward pregnancy was being advised by obstetricians (called ‘consultants’ here in the UK) to induce at 38 weeks. In the hope of starting my labour naturally I went about doing all things ‘natural induction’ from specialist massage, acupuncture, sex, spicy foods as well as an Ayurvedic protocol designed by Dr Gowri Motha involving special oils in special body parts (!) to just resting, meditating and visualising whilst doing lots of practice birth positions, breathing and stretches, as well as using an epi-no to prepare the vagina and prevent tearing. What followed was a very slow onset of labour – a ten day ‘latent phase’ of low level, stop-start contractions at home. Some were so strong I had to breathe through them…leaving me unsure if I was in labour or not.

At 38 weeks I went to the local public hospital for a sweep. My induction had been booked for the next day, and the midwife said that my membranes were ‘ripe and bulging’ and that I would likely go straight to having my waters breaking without the need for any pessaries, that prepare the cervix for induction.

The following day the labour ward was very busy and so I was not called in that morning, as expected. It was strange to be at home expecting to be called and waiting to go to the hospital to have my baby. By the afternoon, the ward had settled down and I got the call to come in to begin induction.

Once admitted, I requested a room on my own (so I could get into the zone without distraction), which thankfully was available and I was examined.  It was decided that we begin with the milder hormonal pessary and give it 24 hours to work. My husband and I had our other two kids being minded at home by grandparents so we settled in. He was on a mattress on the floor, and I was in the bed.

The following evening, after not much change, they advanced to the stronger pessary and gave it another 6 hours to work. There was some monitoring of contractions, but they were relatively mild. Well, in fact, they were quite strong on the monitor and high range, but I could not feel them much. I think my uterus had been doing so much practice for the week prior that I had become accustomed…and my natural endorphins had been building up. Like we learnt at She Births® this can be an advantage of a longer pre-labour.

By midnight of that second night, the cervix was soft and ripe and I was ready to go downstairs to the birthing suite. It was very exciting, and again I had a flutter of nerves and anticipation as we packed up the room to go meet our baby. To say the build up had been long is an understatement. Preceding this story, was a three-and-a-half year fertility journey.

The midwife returned. The birthing suite was too busy. She would check again in the morning. The good news was we got to rest overnight after a very tiring few days of ups and downs.

By 8am the next morning it was all systems go, I had been booked into the birthing suite and we went downstairs with our essential oil vaporisers, music lists, and funky rugs in hand. The midwife showed me into a bog-standard hospital room. My heart fell. I asked if they had any other rooms available. We were shown into the most wonderful space. It had a birthing couch, a view of a green courtyard, a birthing pool bigger than any I’d seen before in a room off to the side and one of those cool chairs with long strips of canvas hanging above so you could sit learning forward to contract. No hospital bed to be found. Mats all over the floor. This will do nicely, I said.

Next step, water broken, monitoring. Not much action. I went for a walk through the hospital which was just plain weird. I needed to be back in my nest. As soon as the monitoring stopped, my contractions started (no surprises there). I was out of the thinking brain and into the ancient, birthing one. My midwife had read my 2-page birthing plan diligently and was basically just sitting back and wandering in and out of the room by this stage, so it was just me, my husband and doula mostly.

About an hour after the waters were broken, contractions began in earnest.

 

How did you bring your baby into the world?

Moving from the birthing chair to the birthing couch, which was helpfully pressed up against the wall, I found the best way to handle the contractions once I got tired of dancing around the room, was on my side pressing my hands against the wall with the doula or my husband pressing against my lower back – that’s where most of my sensation was. I breathed (as I had practiced the She Births breathing) and made sure my mouth was wide-wide open on the out-breaths to keep all my diaphragms relaxed.

I was determined to only let the body push and do no active pushing, so I had asked the word to be omitted from the room. It worked excellently! By the time the baby was crowning I asked the midwife what to do and she just kept repeating, just do what your body tell you. It was the best advice. I got up on my knees at the end of the bed, leaned forward onto my husband’s shoulders, who was kneeling on the floor, and squeezed his neck. He got a quite intense massage while I breathed the baby out! I reached down instinctively to feel what was happening and touched the bubs head which gave me a great rush of hormones and drove me on. Nearly there, I thought.

In the last moment, I only found out weeks later, Cole had the cord around his neck. The midwife sat beside me and used a doppler (hand-held monitor) and realised the heartbeat was slightly reduced for the first time during the birth. She said, if you were going to do any pushing, now would be the time on this next contraction. So the very last contraction, I did one active push and out he came. I remember thinking at the time that it was curious that she turned the baby around before handing him to me once I lay down. She never mentioned the cord, not even once.

The head midwife on the ward that day was called in to watch the final stages. She told me I had restored her faith in birthing women. It meant so much. Still gives me chills remembering that. I think she really needed to see this.

 

Who supported you throughout labour and the birth?

Midwives, husband, doula (and my women friends all over the world with their thoughts and encouragement in the days preceding).

 

What was the most challenging part of the birth?

It’s hard to say. Possibly the expectations or birth starting being delayed by hospital busy-ness? Honestly, it was pretty amazing.

 

What most helped you through the birth experience?

The breathing and the support – both the hands-on (husband and doula) and the hands-off (midwife) kind. I had also done a LOT of preparation, for months, maybe even years. Deciding to go for a birth kneeling upright and forward, and with no active pushing, as well as preparing my body and mind for that, is perhaps the best thing I did. I spoke to a lot of people, read a lot of books and articles, wrote about things, researched things, and most of all was my own strongest advocate throughout the pregnancy – including standing up for myself in the face of skepticism from the occasional hospital doctor. I did say no a few times to medical advice, but always armed with properly researched, peer-reviewed and evidence-based information.

 

What did you learn about yourself this birth?

I learned that…

  • I am able to tune-in to my body and its messages – it can be simple and easy to understand if I am present in the moment and to what is happening / how I’m feeling
  • I actually have absolute confidence in this ability from training myself and physical / mental and spiritual preparations I had done prior to the birth
  • If I surround myself with the right people (who are also prepared and conscious of their presence), they can hold the space for me to be in my body and allow it all to happen
  • Being honest with myself about the stories I had told myself about the preceding births and being open to what I needed for this one were key processes leading up to the birth
  • Coming into it with knowledge, gratitude and flexibility helped me greatly
  • Anything is possible

In what way was this birth different to your others? 

  • I did not consciously/deliberately push, rather allowed my body to do its own pushing until the very last contraction
  • I was in the UK, not Australia
  • I had a very experienced doula
  • My husband had ‘one under the belt’ and was a bit more prepared
  • There was less intervention medically and no doctors involved, only a very non-interventionist midwife
  • I did far more physical preparation (Ayurvedic oil pessaries, acupuncture, breathing practice, epi-no, yoga, massage, visualisation etc)
  • I was older (44)
  • I was more relaxed
  • I did a lot more research and asked a lot more questions of the doctors and the hospital, even meeting with the head of department to spend an hour asking questions about their induction policies and processes (knowing that would be likely)
  • I brought a lot more into the room – oils, music, rugs etc to create more of a nest
  • I requested the room I wanted and spoke up for myself, also told my support people what to speak up for
  • I had a long and thoroughly well-considered birth plan
  • I had an unmanaged third stage (after-birth)
  • I was not lying on my back for any of the delivery
  • I went into it with absolute faith in my body

Describe your birth experience in 3 words:

Empowering. Wondrous. Life-changing.

 

Alena has a natural parenting blog that inspires mums to feel healthy, organised and present www.soulmamma.org and you’ll find her on instagram @soul_mamma_

Photos by Olivia Moon Photography 

What is a doula? Why do you need one?

Photo by Jade Tauber

 

I have been a doula for almost 15 years now and in that time have learnt so much about labour and birth. As a prenatal yoga teacher and mother I have also learnt a lot… but particularly as a doula.

The doula is at the coalface of birth – there is no better way to say it. We are there the longest time. We give the greatest continuity of care over any other caregiver. We provide information and we are the pain relief. We empower couples to advocate for themselves, and support them in getting what they want. And most importantly we ensure mum has a high degree of birth satisfaction!! Because birth is hard work and you are doing a great job, always!!

It was through my work as a doula and those many intimate hours with couples that I created She Births®. I saw what worked and what was missing from people’s education prior to birth. I saw the emotional hurdles they were not prepared for and the lack of practical tools partners and mums had to draw upon.

I still attend births and was at four amazingly beautiful births last year – each one different and powerful and yet perfect in its own way.

Roughly about 60% of She Births® couples employ a doula. We do have some star ‘Daddy Doulas’ too that we are going to award very soon but more about that in the coming weeks!  In all my years I have never heard a couple say that having a doula was a waste of time…I’ve only ever heard the comment ‘Next time we are getting a doula’ 😉

The times when I have seen doula work be the most beneficial is when birth doesn’t go to plan. I know that She Births is the best education around, but unfortunately, we cannot be there with a woman 24/7 helping her through all the twists and turns that may arise during pregnancy or birth. We have books, videos, comprehensive information, holistic tips, etc, but we are not able to actually be there holding her hand, explaining and reassuring her she is doing the best job she can…That’s why I always say get a doula!

I truly believe that prenatal yoga – getting into your body, slowing down, doing She Births® and getting a doula is the best thing you can do for yourself, your birth and your relationship.

All of our She Births® educators are either midwives or doulas. Bree Downes, our new Melbourne-based educator explains what a doula actually does and how they can support you throughout pregnancy, birth and into parenthood. I hope you enjoy this week’s edition with Bree, and if you would like to share your birth experience with a doula, please get in touch as I’d love to hear from you.

Nadine xxx

What is a doula and what do they do?

A doula is a woman who gives support and information to another woman during pregnancy and the birth of her child. It is a Greek word meaning ‘woman servant’, as traditionally doulas were servants skilled in attending women in labour. Modern day doulas are often mothers themselves, who offer continuous physical, emotional and informational one on one support, to improve your birth experience and outcome.

Birth is a highly emotional journey for most women and their partners, and to have someone dedicated to supporting you through the entire journey is invaluable. The care, respect, comfort and information that a doula provides is a role unto its own and cannot be replaced by other health care providers.

Doulas are fast becoming a must-have companion for birthing women, particularly in the hospital setting, who want a natural or vaginal birth and need assistance navigating the hospital system of medical procedures and protocols.

A doula is an ambassador for natural birth, they see the link between an empowering birth and a smooth transition into motherhood; and ultimately a nurturer of the future generation for this planet. A doula will also support you to have an empowering caesarean should it be necessary. Giving you options through the whole process no matter what path your birth takes is extremely empowering.

Doulas know how the birthing body works, and have a toolkit of positions, movements, touches, techniques and endless ideas on how you can engage with your natural birthing powers.

There are also post natal doulas who work extensively with a new family after the birth of their child. Their role is varied with each mother as they tailor their role to suit each woman. It may include things such as shopping, cooking, cleaning, and minding baby or older children while the mother catches up on sleep. They are often also able to offer breastfeeding assistance, or support and information on any post birth hurdles. Also birth debriefing and a compassionate ear to listen to anything the mother needs to get off her chest.


Why have a doula?

There are many benefits to having a doula during your pregnancy and birth. Some expected, and others not. Women often find that a doula provides much more than what was expected and have a sense that they don’t know how they could have had the same experience without a doulas support.

Having a doula provides you with a direct line of information, options and resources. It’s like having your own personal birth hotline! Most doulas are constantly available to you by phone and email during your pregnancy, on top of your pre natal face-to-face appointments, and then on call 24/7 from 38 weeks onwards. A doula will help you fully understand all of your options and choices at every crossroad in your journey, and this results in a fully informed process where even if your birth does not go to plan, you will have benefitted immensely by knowing your choices, options and rights throughout the whole process, leaving you feeling empowered and like it was still YOUR birth. Being informed allows you to be an active participant in the decision making for your birth.

Another benefit is actually for your partner. Unless your partner has done some special training, intensive research or attended many births before, they will not have the skills or knowledge to support you through what may be one of the toughest things you will ever do. This pressure to be and do all for their loved one can often feel like quite a load to carry or they may feel anxious or concerned about how they are going to cope AND be your everything all at once.


How does a doula work with mum’s partner?

Partners often put quite a bit of pressure on themselves to be the only support a birthing woman needs, to fulfil on their role as provider and be their woman’s ‘everything’. To look after her and provide for her. Usually first time partners don’t even realise what will be required of them on the day/s of birth and they will be just as vulnerable and unsure as the birthing woman.

A birthing woman has endorphins pumping through her system to keep her going, often through many hours without rest or sleep. Partners unfortunately don’t get these endorphins and often need to rest or take breaks to re-fill their energy levels so that they can keep giving to their woman and still be present when their baby arrives, so having a doula there to relieve the partner can be immensely helpful.

Doulas are also very mindful of always encouraging connection between the couple. They will offer suggestions for the partner so that they can provide effective support, and will explain each process as it unfolds, pointing out beautiful signs of labour’s progress that they may have not otherwise noticed. Providing explanations and insight into the birthing process often amazes and deepens the partner’s experience of birth, and their role as the woman’s main supporter. Often partners become more involved in supporting a birthing woman as they learn and adopt many of the doula’s comforting techniques. If the labour is particularly trying, difficult, or emotionally charged, a doula’s presence soothes nerves and raises a birthing couple’s confidence.


How does a doula work with the hospital team?

Doulas are not midwives, obstetricians, or nurses. But together with these professionals, doulas work beautifully to support a woman through her birth. While the focus of the medical team involves safeguarding the physical health of both mother and baby, a doula focuses on the holistic wellbeing of the mother. A woman will feel safest and most cared for when there is a team vibe and calm in the room, where everyone is working for her.

A doula can help explain any medical terms to the birthing couple and also refer to the couples birthing preferences when discussing options with the medical care providers. A doula can also request for the couple to have time to discuss and think about options when intervention is being suggested. A doula is also often great at asking questions of the medical care providers that the birthing couple may not think of, which can also assist in important information when making decisions. At the end of the day, the ideal situation is that everyone in the room is working for the woman, bringing their own unique skills and knowledge and share a deep respect and reverence for a woman’s natural ability to birth.


How and why did you become a doula?

I became a doula through a 9 month face to face course with Rhea Dempsey, Birthing Wisdom, in Victoria. Sitting in circle with like minded women once a month whilst we shared and discussed everything a doula needs to know, including unpacking our very own birth journeys. I’ve also read many many books and watched countless birth films. This knowledge plus the learnings from my own three labours and listening to many women sharing their birth stories continually deepens my doula work. No two births are the same so you can never stop learning or growing as a doula.

I became a doula because I feel birthing a baby is life’s most sacred work and I wanted to offer women the information, care and support that I deeply cherished in my own birth. We have lost our way as a society in regards to birth and stopped trusting our bodies and our intuition. I wanted to remind women that they are strong and that they were in fact made for this. Birth can be such a spiritual and life changing event if you let it be.


Why do you think birth education is important, even for those who have a doula?

The strength, power and decisions come from within the woman – not from the doula, nor the woman’s partner, nor the medical care providers. A doula’s greatest work at a birth is to hold space for the birthing woman to let go and surrender, to keep her informed along the way should she arrive at any crossroads, and to offer physical support when needed.

For the birthing woman to be able to make empowering decisions in her birth she needs to know all her options, understand all her inner and outer resources, and also to have a deep understanding as to why she has made the choices she has so that she feels firm in her decisions. There is a great saying that “if you don’t know your options, you don’t have any” and I feel this is so true. 


Why did you decide to become a She Births educator?

I have always been passionate about intensive pre-natal preparation with my clients, so when I discovered She Births® and the holistic approach in which it is constructed, I was so excited and couldn’t wait to be part of this offering. Women deserve to be given all the pieces of the puzzle so they can create their own beautiful picture of birth, and I am so excited to be able to offer this by teaching She Births®.

Nutrition for pregnancy, birth and beyond – Part 3

Over the past couple of weeks we’ve looked at nutrition requirements to support fertility and pregnancy. This week we discuss nutrition for the fourth trimester (yes, there’s a fourth!). As a new mama it’s so important to continue to look after your health once bub is born!

Tabitha also shares her recipe for sweet potato, red lentil and wild salmon patties – yum!

We hope you’ve enjoyed this three-part interview series with Tabitha McIntosh from Awaken Your Health and found it useful and informative.

If you have any favourite recipes for mamas and mamas-to-be, please send them to us via facebook or [email protected] and we’ll share them on our facebook and instagram pages.

Nadine xxx

 

What is the fourth trimester?

Your baby’s ‘fourth trimester’ starts from the moment they are born, and lasts for about three months. This term is used to describe a period of significant change and development in your newborn as they adjust to life in the world as we know it.  This is also a time of significant change for the parents, in particular the mother who’s sense of herself can shift quite significantly as she learns to tend to and feed her newborn.

What are the key nutrient requirements for mum and bub during the fourth trimester? It’s the recommendation of the World Health Organisation that mothers worldwide exclusively breastfeed infants for the child’s first six months to achieve optimal growth, development and health. At about the 6 month mark, nutritious complementary foods can be given, with continued breastfeeding up to the age of two years or beyond.

Newborns need to feed between 8-12 times a day, or every 2-4 hours around the clock for the first months of life to receive adequate nutrition. This means that in the first 6 months, an exclusively breastfeeding mum will produce somewhere between 800-1200mL of breast milk every day – this is an enormous task!

A breastfeeding mother’s body donates large percentages of essential nutrients to their baby to ensure them the best possible start in life. As such, daily nutrient requirements while breast-feeding are even greater than any stage of pregnancy: it is essential to replace the water, protein and nutrients lost in your breastmilk.

New mothers often notice their appetite increasing: every breast-feeding mother needs an extra 500 calories every day. Try to think about what your diet can do for your breast milk – quality control is up to you. In particularly, there is a significant increase for protein, which has a positive impact on milk supply. For example, a woman who is about 70kg, needs to eat a minimum of 84g of lean protein every day – which requires some significant effort. Consulting with a clinical nutritionist or naturopath for ideas and a meal planner can be a big help.

Breastmilk naturally contains Omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, especially docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), although the concentration can vary widely since the maternal diet ultimately influences actual composition. Breastfeeding mothers should be encouraged to continue to get adequate intake of DHA, especially during the baby’s first six months. In recent years, the scientific literature has emphasised the important benefits on the baby’s development and maternal health. DHA is a major component of nervous system cell membranes and, thus, is critical to the development of the baby’s brain and retina; and maternal intake of DHA during the post partum period may actually impact the child’s IQ and ability to pay attention in the following years. Not getting enough DHA omega 3 may also create a state of vulnerability that contributes to risk of Post partum depression in the mother.

Adequate intake of essential fats such as Omega 3 DHA can be achieved from regular consumption of small oily fish such as wild salmon, trout, mackerel, anchovies, pilchards and sardines, as well as some marine algae. Pasture raised beef and eggs are also a reasonable source of omega 3 DHA. Supplementation is often warranted, discuss with your health care provider for advice.

The breastfeeding mother may also wish to pay special attention to her calcium intake, to decrease the loss of calcium from their own skeleton when breastfeeding. All of the nutrients discussed previously in weeks 1 & 2 remain relevant to the breastfeeding mother, and a little bit of zinc post-partum can go a very long way in enhancing healing and speeding recovery following delivery.

Finally, aiming for a minimum of 3 litres of spring water and herbal teas daily will account for the water lost in your breast milk, plus allowing for optimal function of other bodily processes.

Many mums have a really difficult time breastfeeding. Seeking support from your team (GP, clinical nutritionist, naturopath, lactation consultant) is a wise idea as there are many strategies, natural remedies, and interventions that can assist. In addition, there are some wonderful resources available such as the Australian Breastfeeding Association and the Breastfeeding helpline.

 

Sweet potato, red lentil and wild salmon patties

The patties are not just simple to make, but taste great and contribute very generously to the daily protein and DHA requirement of a breastfeeding mother. The salmon suggested here is Wild Alaskan salmon, known to have a significantly better omega3:omega6 ratio than our fresh farmed salmon from Tasmania.

As a bonus, these patties freeze well, so can be batch made and pulled out a couple at a time for a quick and nourishing meal. Enjoy!

Ingredients

Makes 8-10 patties

1 can of red lentils (drained and rinsed)
1 210g can of wild red salmon (drained) – I use Paramount brand
1 medium sweet potato 1 cob of corn, kernels cut off
1 medium Spanish onion (the purple ones)
1 bunch fresh coriander or parsley (chopped finely)
1 egg (to bind)
½ a cup of chia seed bran to dust (or gluten free flour can be used)

Method

  1. Wash the sweet potato and onion and put them in the oven to roast at 250 degrees for one hour. After one hour, test with a skewer to see if soft. If skewer goes through, take out and let cool.
  2. When they are cool, take the skin of them and chop them up. Place into a large mixing bowl and mash.
  3. Add finely chopped coriander, raw egg, cooked corn kernels, drained red salmon, and the drained & rinsed red lentils. Mix well.
  4. Add Chia bran to the wet mix. This will dry it out a little and help it to stick together. Mix very well.
  5. Heat a frying pan on low to medium heat with some olive oil or coconut oil.
  6. Take handfuls of the mixture (around size of a golf ball) and place into hot frying pan.
  7. Lightly brown the patties (1-2 mins on each side) so they are warm through. You don’t need to cook them, just heat and brown them.
  8. Serve hot or cold with greens, tomato, avocado, tahini, or chilli sauce.

 

To get in touch with Tabitha, or to find out about her special pregnancy package head to www.awakenyourhealth.com.au

Nutrition for pregnancy, birth and beyond – Part 2

We hope you enjoyed last week’s Q&A with Tabitha McIntosh, Naturopath and Clinical Nutritionist from Awaken Your Health, and her yummy recipe (click here if you missed it).

This week Tabitha discusses important nutrients to support mum throughout her pregnancy, as well as baby’s development.

Enjoy this week’s recipe for Tabitha’s hunger-stopping savoury muffins – a great nutrient dense and easy lunch or snack (whether you’re pregnant or not)!

Nadine xxx

What are three key nutrients needed throughout pregnancy to support mum and baby’s development?

In addition to the common knowledge that dietary folates (and supplemental folic acid or 5-methyl folate) is an important consideration for preconception and throughout each trimester of pregnancy, there are numerous other nutrients that are critical to both mum’s health and the health of developing bub in utero – in particular iodine, iron and calcium.

Iodine

Preparing the thyroid for pregnancy is something I work on with clients in clinic often. The thyroid gland is the body’s reservoir for iodine, and in that first trimester of pregnancy (often before a woman even realises she is pregnant), the thyroid has to work overtime to produce enough thyroid hormones (T4 and T3) for both herself, and her baby; who will not have their own thyroid until the second trimester. Iodine is a critically important ‘building-block’ for adequate thyroid hormone production, to ensure healthy brain development in the baby. Requirements for iodine increase in pregnancy by more than 150%, and maternal iodine deficiency and subsequent thyroid dysfunction can sadly result in adverse outcomes for the baby such as reduced IQ and mental impairment.

The western diet is not adequate for iodine. Recent Total Diet Study Surveys conducted by the FSANZ showed that 70% of women of child bearing age are not consuming enough iodine – and that a substantial amount of Australian women enter pregnancy with inadequate iodine status. Australian soils are well known to be low in Iodine, and really we can only rely on foods from the ocean (ocean fish, seaweed, microalgae), fortified foods such as iodised salt, and a good quality pre-natal and pregnancy supplement to supply us with our dietary iodine to support healthy thyroid function during pregnancy. It’s always advised to have a basic thyroid screen in the first trimester of pregnancy as well as to supplement with between 220-280ug of iodine as part of your normal antenatal supplement. The richest sources of dietary iodine include mackerel, sardines, wild salmon, dulse granules, seaweed, and iodised salt. Remember that not enough iodine and too much iodine can both be an issue, so go gently and seek advice from a health care provider who is experienced in pregnancy nutrition.

Iron

Iron is a mineral that is critical to the health of both mum and infant throughout pregnancy. Most notably because of the significant haemodilution (expansion and dilution of mum’s blood volume) that happens between 12 weeks and 28 weeks gestation. Symptoms of low iron for mum during pregnancy include poor stamina, shortness of breath, dizziness, dark rings under eyes, and poor immune capacity. As iron supplementation in the first trimester of pregnancy can contribute a bit to nausea, it’s wise to prepare prior to conception by building your iron stores (ferritin) to a reasonable level, to carry you through early pregnancy. Most women do require some iron supplementation from 12-30+ weeks gestation, to ensure that they have a comfortable pregnancy, and to allow for the baby to set up its own iron stores from mum in the third trimester as well. Rich sources of iron include lean pasture-raised beef, lamb, egg yolks, sardines, chicken thigh, pork, bone broth, parsley, spirulina, buckwheat, pine nuts, green leafies, and cashews. Iron stores should be assessed pre-conception and mid-gestation to ensure adequate levels.

Calcium 

Calcium is particularly important in the second half from 20 weeks onwards (and all the way throughout breastfeeding, too). As the baby’s skeleton starts to ossify and harden in the second half of the pregnancy, it’s critical for mum to achiever her daily calcium requirement so as to protect her own skeleton. I find most mums can achieve their daily amount with some education around the right portions of hard cheeses, tub-set yoghurts, milk and fortified milk alternatives (such as almond / coconut / soy / oat). However in women who choose to be dairy-free, we have to work harder, with fish with bones (sardines, salmon), green leafies, unhulled tahini, chia seeds, and potentially a supplement.

The cost of not covering your dietary calcium requirements, particularly throughout the second half of pregnancy and post-partum, include compromise to mum’s own bone density, and potentially cracking a tooth / losing some height, and developing osteopenia (pre-osteoporosis). The development of bub’s skeleton is prioritised over the maintenance of mum’s skeleton, so the main cost is left with mum. Vitamin D status is also relevant to protecting mum’s skeleton, particularly in the autumn and winter months.

Staying on top of some of this basic pregnancy nutrition can not only ensure a smoother ride for mum, but also best outcomes for baby-to-be. We all want out babies to have the opportunity to reach their best health potential, and the investment of seeking personalised advice from an experienced Clinician in the area of pregnancy nutrition can pay off a thousand fold.

 

Hunger-stopping savoury muffins

A savoury frittata that contains eggs, ocean trout or wild salmon, and greens such as parsley / baby spinach, and some parmesan, grilled haloumi or cooked fetta, is a filling and nutrient dense snack that covers off on all of the above mentioned minerals. These savoury muffins are really a blank canvas – you can include whatever ingredients you have handy at home. They taste great and a sprinkle of dulse flakes on top for additional iodine goes a long way!

Ingredients

(Makes 12 muffins) 

12 eggs (organic, free range)
A little coconut oil, olive oil or organic butter, or baking paper to line the muffin tin
Sea salt, pepper and dulse flakes to taste
Vegetables – the following combinations work really well:

  • Tomato + basil Parmesan cheese (1 cup chopped tomatoes, 1 cup chopped fresh basil, ½ cup grated parmesan)
  • Kale + garlic (1 cup chopped kale, 2 cloves chopped garlic)
  • Sweet potato + onion + feta cheese (1 cup cubed and baked sweet potato, 1 small red onion chopped finely, feta cheese 100g crumbled)
  • Asparagus + baby spinach + smoked salmon (1x 100g pack of Tasmanian smoked salmon, 2 bunches of chopped blanched asparagus, 1 cup baby spinach chopped)
  • Parsley + grilled haloumi + broccolini (1 cup chopped organic parsley, one pack of haloumi grilled in small pieces prior to adding, and 2 bunches broccolini, finely chopped)

 Method

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees.
Lightly grease muffin tins with coconut oil, olive oil, organic butter, or baking paper.
Place vegetable combination of choice.
Whisk eggs well in a large bowl, add sea salt, pepper and dulse, then stir in veggies.
Optional shaved parmesan on top.
Bake for 20-25 mins, or until eggs are fully cooked through.

 

To get in touch with Tabitha, or to find out about her special pregnancy package head to www.awakenyourhealth.com.au

 

Nutrition for pregnancy, birth and beyond

There are so many different ways that you can prepare for a better birth experience. Over on our blog we will be interviewing various experts to provide you with interesting and useful information to support your pregnancy, birth and journey into parenthood.

If there’s a particular topic you’d like us to cover, or someone you’d like us to interview please let us know!

Our first interview is with Tabitha McIntosh who I have known for many years. She is a brilliant Naturopath and Clinical Nutritionist who runs her own private clinical practice in Sydney, Awaken Your Health. She has also just published a book, co-authored with Dr Sarah Lantz, on nutritional and environmental health solutions, called One Bite at a Time: Reduce Toxic Exposure and Eat the World you Want.

At She Births we take our nutrition protocol and suggestions pretty seriously. So many little things you can do for an easier pregnancy and birth plus a healthier microbiome.

This week Tabitha offers her top tips to couples preparing for pregnancy, and shares a yummy simple healthy recipe.

As part of a three part mini-series, next week we’ll discuss with Tabitha the key nutrients you need throughout pregnancy, and we will cover nutrition requirements for the fourth trimester and breastfeeding the following week.

Nadine. xxx

Why is it important for couples to consider their nutrition and lifestyle when preparing to conceive?

Just as we plan for other big events in our lives (exams, weddings, interviews), so we should plan for one of the most important decisions in our life: to have a baby. There is an abundance of research to indicate that our health in the months leading into pregnancy (nutrient status, toxic load, lifestyle habits) not only impacts pregnancy outcomes, but also influences the genetic material that is passed on to the next generation. This is both incredibly empowering, and an enormous responsibility!

Establishing a good nutrition and lifestyle program that both partners can follow for three months before conceiving is a wonderful way to ensure you are stacking the odds in your favour for the best pregnancy outcomes.

What are some key priorities women need to consider?

Discussing with your health care provider the best way to ensure you are getting enough folate, iodine, iron and vitamin D three months prior to conceiving is a great way to begin. Cleaning up your diet to ensure an abundance of colourful, in-season plant food is also protective: I call it ‘eating the rainbow’ every day. Also discussing with your health care provider the benefits of choosing some organic produce is advisable, so that you can be making informed decisions to prioritise your organic dollar.

Reaching a healthy weight is paramount, as individuals that are a healthy weight tend to have quicker time to pregnancy and also less pregnancy complications.

Another key priority when preparing your body for pregnancy is coming back to basics with your lifestyle. Minimal alcohol, very little caffeine, avoiding passive cigarette smoke, and avoiding traffic-related air pollution have all been shown to contribute to healthier pregnancy outcomes.

And for the guys?

As much of a cliche that it is, it certainly takes ‘two to tango’: the male’s role in preparing for pregnancy is equally as important. In fact, the sperm is the smallest cell of the entire human body – making it exquisitely vulnerable to environmental toxins and adverse impacts from heat (choose boxer shorts over tight undies!); from wifi; and from electromagnetic radiation via laptops and smart phones. I always remind men planning a family to keep their phones out of their trouser pockets, or at least on aeroplane mode if they must be carried on the body. And no laptops or ipads on laps – ever.

Any other tips?

Pre-conception is a great time to reduce plastics in your life, as plastics can leach chemicals that interfere with natural hormone balance in the body. Switching to steel food containers, and glass water bottles and pyrex dishes for freezing leftovers is a simple way to reduce chemical exposures in the pre-conception stage. I also encourage clients to ditch the perfumes, smelly candles, and heavily scented personal care products: and to treat their bodies in the three months prior to conceiving as if they were in fact already pregnant.

Making some of these simple changes to your daily choices in the months prior to pregnancy is not just about maximising your own health, but also the health of your next generation.

Broccoli and quinoa rainbow salad

Being a ‘seed-grain’, quinoa offers a complete protein, making it a filling and nourishing complement to the veges here. Quinoa also is generous with its mineral content – magnesium, iron, manganese, and zinc – all wonderfully protective pre-conception minerals. Really any vegetables work, as long as they offer up a rainbow of colour. Broccoli, adparagus, corn, snow peas, purple carrots, red capsicum – all contain generous amounts of fibre and plant-based antioxidants to protect the health of your cells and DNA. When you combine a rainbow of foods, you not only have a beautiful plate, but an antioxidant and nutrient dense one too.

Ingredients
1-2 cups cooked quinoa
3 cups raw broccoli, cut into small florets and stems
2 medium garlic cloves, roasted for a softer taste
1 bunch finely chopped curly parsley
1 cup raw nuts – cashews, almonds or pine nuts
200g Goats fetta cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil and fresh lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
2 cups of cherry tomatoes, halved
Yummy optional toppings- sliced avocado , hemp nuts,
raw chopped nuts or seeds. You can also add a can of red salmon
or tuna for an extra protein hit.

Method
Rinse the Quiona then bring it to boil with 2 cups water. Then simmer for approx 10 mins until water is mostly absorbed, then set aside with lid on for a wee bit to soften further and absorb remaining liquid. Stir and then allow to cool (pour off any excess liquid).

Bring a pot of water to boil and season generously with 1 tbsp good sea salt, then add the broccoli florets and allow to turn bright green with just 1-2 mins max cooking time. Drain and then run cool water over to stop it from cooking further. Set aside 3 cups of this cooked broccoli for
use later.

Roast the garlic and finely chop. Now halve the cherry tomatoes, finely chop the parsley, and add to the cool quinoa in a large bowl.

Add the olive oil, garlic and lemon juice, and crumb the feta through the mixture.

I also add a few tablespoons toasted seeds mixture. Obviously if you use 2 cups of Quinoa this will be a larger and more grainy salad. For a dairy-free option refrain from using the feta and try some extra toasted seeds, fish or roast sweet potato instead.

To get in touch with Tabitha, or to find out about her special pregnancy package head to www.awakenyourhealth.com.au

Birth story: The birth of Claudia

How did your labour start?
I started getting very mild contractions throughout the weekend, 3 days before my due date. On the Saturday night I couldn’t sleep as I was getting up to go to the bathroom what felt like every 30 minutes. On Sunday evening about 10pm just as my husband Ben and I were about to go to bed, my contractions started to become more frequent. I was so excited it was finally happening so I stayed up instead, and within the hour dragged Ben out of bed. We brought all of our ‘tools’ into the bedroom – heat pack, yoga mat, gym ball, rebozo, the lot, and it all kicked off from there!

How did you bring your baby into the world?
After staying up all of Sunday night labouring with a heat pack on my lower back and Ben squeezing into my hips/glutes with every contraction (just as we’d been taught at She Births), we arrived at the hospital at 9am on Monday. I hadn’t slept for 2 nights and was sure that our baby must be close. When my midwife told me I was only 2cm dilated, I was devastated but adamant that I wasn’t going back home.

I desperately wanted to get into a bath but all of the birthing suites were taken so the midwife found me a room in the antenatal ward with a shower. My contractions seemed to slow down in frequency and strength and I started to doubt that I was even in labour. I was so confused! The midwives suggested I go home to rest but I couldn’t imagine staying up a third sleepless night so I told them that I was going to have the baby today and that I just needed to get into a bath.

At about 1pm they let me use a bath that isn’t normally used for birthing and I stayed in there for almost an hour but felt that my contractions had slowed down even further so Ben suggested that perhaps we do just go home. The midwife came and checked me, and I was 6cm dilated!! I couldn’t believe it, and neither could she! I was so happy! She sent us into the birthing suite which had a nice big bath and I got straight in.

One hour passed in a blur and all of a sudden I felt an urge to push and felt something come out. Ben was just about to press the emergency button as the midwife came in. I assumed it was the head and thought wow that wasn’t so bad but it was just my sack of waters perfectly intact! The midwife broke my waters and then it all got intense very quickly. Our baby girl Claudia arrived in the bath soon after! I pushed for 40 minutes, in the bath on all fours, with Ben outside the bath pressing into by hips – that was my only pain relief and it was incredibly effective!

Who supported you throughout labour and the birth?
My husband was with me the entire time (except for when he went to get some lunch from the hospital cafe). The midwife was only with me briefly when I arrived at the hospital and a few hours later to check my progress. She got us set up in the birthing suite then returned just as I was ready to push! She was amazing when it came to pushing but for everything else I was completely reliant on Ben – I hate to think what would have happened if we hadn’t done She Births!!

What was the most challenging part of the birth?
Just before I got in the bath I was questioning myself about whether I was really in labour as the midwives were saying I could go home. I was so tired I started to think that maybe I should have some morphine so that I could rest before labour really started. I began to doubt that I was strong enough to get through it. Luckily my midwife gently reminded me that in my Birth Plan I had said I didn’t want any drugs. And the pushing was definitely a challenge! That was intense!

What most helped you through the birth experience?
In the lead up to the birth I did everything by the She Births book – from eating dates, to perennial massage through to the visualisations. On the day, it was my husband that got me through labour and the hip press he had learnt at She Births!! I feel very lucky it all happened the way it did.

Describe your birth experience in 3 words:
Crazy. Surreal. Incredible.

USA here we come…She Births – LA, Boulder, NYC

It is with great excitement that Leroy and I are packing our holiday bags and getting ready for a big USA trip. My baby boy is off to an amazing school in Colorado for the Summer Term called The High Mountain Institute.

We are going to take a break together and then I will leave him there!!! AAAhhhh…. how quickly letting go comes around as a parent…Love and Let Go, Love and Let Go (rpt. rpt. rpt) From about 2 years old it’s what parenting is all about right?

So, if you have any mates ready for the world’s most comprehensive and scientifically verified program in the world… let them know we are coming !!!

I will be in Los Angeles, Boulder and New York meeting folks and planting seeds. Hoping to find venues and great people to work with.

I will return in October 2017 to run couples courses and in January 2018 to train USA doula’s/midwives.

In case you are wondering why the US needs She Births, consider this…

The United States:

  • Have seen a 500% increase in c-s rates over just 2 generations
  • They spend the most money on maternal health than any other country – approx. $5 Billion p.a.
  • Yet they rate the worst in maternal morbidity and mortality rates of all the developed countries

So many issues contribute to these horrendous stats. An unfair health system, litigation fears become over management of pregnancy, a lack of team work amongst different caregivers, limitations on access to providers or locales for birth choices…And the chronic birth fear that seems to be spreading like an epidemic.

Mostly it is no different to what we have here in Australia…just amplified… and possibly where we are heading unless our Govt and systems start to adopt innovation and change.

Ultimately change will come from the bottom up – from YOU, from US. All of us working together in support of better births that every woman around the world deserves.

If you have folks you think I should meet over in the U.S. then please send me a message or an introduction.

xxx Nadine

CHILDBIRTH IS A GLOBAL PROBLEM – SHE BIRTHS IS THE GLOBAL SOLUTION

Free She Births® Courses around Australia

The time has come to share the love with families near and far.

Over April I trained another 7 fantastic Educators. Some of them with backgrounds in midwifery, doula’ing, counselling, yoga and even 17 years birth education and training!

It was an absolute pleasure and honour to be sending these women back to their communities so they can support new families as I have done for the last 10 years here in Bondi.

If you, or you have a friend, who are strapped for cash and would love to partake in the full She Births® program with some of my new Educators we have a few spaces left on the South Coast and in Canberra and Sydney. Just send me an email and share a few lines about why you would like or need the program and I will do my best to get you in.

In a couple of months time we will have courses running in Nambour, the Gold Coast and Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide, even Coffs Harbour, Bellingen and Armidale.

We look forward t
o hearing from you soon,

Nadine xxx

Evelyn’s Birth – “I did every thing you advised us!”

I just wanted to thank you, as my daughter was born last Tuesday, and I had a wonderful labour thanks to your She Births course.

I did every thing you advised us, from the sugar & wheat free diet to the yoga, to the epi-no, to eating 6 dates a day, to attending Dr Chilton’s talk & to reading the book you recommended, ‘Childbirth Without Fear’. My obstetrician said it was the shortest labour he has seen in a long time.

I surprised myself that I didn’t need an epidural – and what was more surprising, that the actual delivery wasn’t painful. I have you to thank, because you really helped me through my labour from afar.

Thank so much Nadine. I will recommend your course to every pregnant friend I have.