There are many options when it comes to labour and pain relief. Some are very natural and others require injections and drugs e.g. an epidural and morphine/pethidine. There is no one set or correct way to deal with pain relief in labour, as everyone is different. Some women tend to have a very high pain threshold, whereas others do not. Your Obstetrician will be able to provide you with a full list of options available. Please find below some natural options for labour that women may choose: Use of Shower and Bath Some hospitals offer the use of a baths or shower for women to use during the first stage of labour. The warm water can be very soothing and help reduce the pain of labour. It can be a good way of relieving the back pain often associated with labour. TENS machine TENS machines are a popular pain relief method during labour and consist of attaching electrodes to the lower back. These electrodes send electric pulses to the brain and compete with pain impulses from the uterus, and assist with reducing the pain experienced from contractions. They are good because it means you can move around and you are in control of when you use it. You can hire the machines and it is always a good idea to get someone to show you how to use it, and ideally see a professional for advice. Hypnobirthing It is becoming more popular to use relaxation methods such as hypnobirthing, which involves learning how to relax and how to reduce the fear and anxiety that may be experienced during labour. There are a number of programs such as Calmbirth that enable you to learn how to take control of your birthing experience, and some women find it works really well. Massage and heat packs Asking your partner to your massage you can help during contractions. In addition applying heat packs when needed can help your body to release endorphins, which will assist with the pain from contractions. It is important to remember that whilst these are some natural options for […]
The exciting day of your baby’s arrival has finally arrived! There are a number of stages that count as labour and it doesn’t always mean you have to race to the hospital immediately. Read below in my post. Pre-labour – Braxton Hicks contractions Braxton Hicks contractions do not mean that your baby is coming – they are “practice” contractions and occur when the baby’s head moves into the pelvic area. First Stage – Early Labour In the first stage of early labour it is often possible to stay at home. The uterus is starting to contract at this stage, and the cervix thins as well and starts to dilate. You may find that contractions feel mild and gradually build up, and get more intense as labour progresses. First Stage – Active Labour In the second phase of early labour this is often called ‘active labour’. The cervix dilates from 4cm to 8cm, and contractions become even more intense. If you are not in hospital already by this stage, this is usually the time to make your way to the hospital. Labour is advanced at this stage, and the cervix dilates from the 7/8cm in active labour to 10cm, which is when the cervix is fully dilated. Second Stage of Labour The second stage of labour starts when the cervix is fully dilated. If all is well, then it may be useful to allow the baby’s head to move down the birth canal with the contractions alone, without active pushing. Active pushing can then begin, and the baby will move further down the birth canal, and then the baby’s head crowns, and your new baby is born. Third Stage of Labour The final stage of about is the delivery of the placenta. After the arrival of your baby, the placenta will separate from the uterus, and you may be given oxytocin to help encourage the placental separation.
When new mothers have their baby often friends and families’ reactions (not intentionally) are to spoil the precious newborn and to forget about mum herself. This Christmas, why not be that friend or family member that makes mum feel special too? Below are some ideas of what you could do or buy. Pamper hamper for the new mum Why not buy a luxury hamper packed with decadent goodies to help ‘mum’ feel special? Or you could do it yourself – buy a basket and fill it with special items such as a luxury bath robe, toiletries and things you know that they love. Alternatively pay for mum to have a massage, and babysit whilst they go! DIY ‘helper’ certificates for new mums All new mums like to be helped (even if they say they are ok!), so why not give vouchers for services that you will do or have someone else do such as a cleaning voucher, babysitting duties, pedicure, and cooking? Any new mum would be very appreciative of this gesture. Give the new mum something sentimental There are lots of personalised items available to buy that would make lovely keepsakes for a new mum such as a nice necklace with baby’s birth date and name on or birth posters, photobooks. I found some great ideas on Pinterest – see here. Hair makeover for new mums For those mums that are not really into massages and pedicures a hairdressing voucher is another great and functional idea to give as a gift giving mum a new hair cut and some pampered time. Food delivery Cooking especially in the first few weeks is not usually on the radar for many new mums as there is so much else going on, so a great present if you aren’t a lover of cooking is to send food via a food delivery service such as UberEats or Foodora.
Whilst looking after your new bundle of joy is crucial after giving birth – so is looking after yourself. Each pregnancy and birth will be very different, and your body will react differently as it gets back to normal. It is important to give yourself time to recover. In this post you will find some helpful information on how to recover after the birth of your baby. Physical changes to your body Giving birth is not like the Hollywood films show it, and once your baby is born your stomach does not immediately shrink back to what it was. It can take time. Your uterus will contract for a number of days after the birth, especially each time baby feeds. This may cause some discomfort, and it can take up to 8 weeks for it to shrink to its pre-pregnancy size, so do not be concerned or feel pressured to get your weight down too quickly as it is not safe and not healthy to do so in the weeks after giving birth. In addition, depending on how you gave birth will depend on the recovery and period of time. If you had a natural birth, you will probably find that your recovery is much quicker than if you had a severe perineal tear or caesarean section, and your mobility and general ability to do day-to-day activities may be longer after a caesarean. You may also find that in the first few days after giving birth when your milk ‘comes in’ that you may experience tender breasts which can be treated using ice packs or a warm shower. Body discomforts Haemorrhoids can be experienced during and after pregnancy. These haemorrhoids can cause significant discomfort. They can be treated with witch hazel or cream that you will be able to get from your local pharmacy. Alternatively chat to your Obstetrician who will be able to provide alternative recommendations if needed. Constipation is another common side effect of giving birth. Pear juice is a great option to help keep the bowels moving, as well as drinking plenty of water and a fairly […]
Congratulations on the new addition(s) to your family. You’ve been through (up to) 9 months of pregnancy, and you’ve just had your baby. Here’s what to expect next broken down into some simple points: Straight after the birth You might get the shakes Many women get uncontrollable shakes after the birth which are a result of your body’s hormones and/or the anaesthetic. They tend to go away within a few minutes, but this is all perfectly normal. Spend time with your baby It is at this time that you will be able to spend some intimate time with your baby. This is actually the time that they will be the most alert, so it’s a great time for skin to skin time and to start to try breastfeeding as this helps the uterus to start contracting and to help reduce any bleeding. Your obstetrician or midwife may also massage your belly to ensure that your uterus is contracting well, and check on any vaginal bleeding. You may experience contraction-like pains for the first couple of days after the birth, especially whilst breastfeeding and if you are a first-time mother. This is all perfectly normal. Stitches Vaginal and perineal tears can occur during the birth. Your Obstetrician will perform any stitches needed just after the birth before you go back to the maternity ward. The sutures are absorbable and will dissolve over a couple of weeks, and do not need to be removed. Checks Your baby’s Apgar score will be recorded after the birth to check their overall well-being. Your baby may be given vitamin K and Hepatitis B injections with your consent. Hospital stay The duration of your hospital stay may depend on how your birth was and whether it was a natural birth or Caesarean birth. The midwives will help and advise you on how to breastfeed, and give you some tips on looking after your baby. This is a good time to get help with getting your baby to sleep and in a routine whilst surrounded with help. You may notice a few things with you and your […]
World Diabetes Day took place on Tuesday this week, and there was a resounding urgency to raise further awareness of gestational diabetes which can occur in pregnancy – with one in seven births affected. A large number of women that develop Gestational Diabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes in later life. My post below explains gestational diabetes (GDM) in more detail. What is Gestational Diabetes? In a previous post I explained that when a woman is pregnant, her body requires two to three times more insulin than when she is not pregnant. Gestational diabetes occurs when the body is not able to produce this increased insulin, leading to higher glucose levels than normal, as the action of insulin in the body is to reduce glucose levels. During your pregnancy at around 24-28 weeks you will have a Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT) to ensure your blood glucose levels are not higher than normal. If the glucose levels are abnormal, then it is at this stage that your obstetrician will diagnose gestational diabetes. Problems can arise in the pregnancy if gestational diabetes is not diagnosed and managed properly. It can lead to problems with the baby’s growth (usually leading to big babies, but sometimes there can also be growth restriction, leading to small babies), and the risk of stillbirth is increased in mismanaged or undiagnosed gestational diabetes. What happens if I am diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes? If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, the best way to manage it is with help from your Obstetrician, dietitian and diabetic educator, and your doctor who will provide you with help to manage your gestational diabetes. Daily management Blood glucose level monitoring It is extremely important to monitor the blood glucose levels during pregnancy once gestational diabetes has been diagnosed. This usually involves checking the blood glucose levels 4 times per day – before breakfast, and then two hours after each main meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner). The current targets for blood glucose levels are: Fasting (pre-prandial) <5.1 mmol/L 2 hours after meals (post prandial) <6.8 mmol/L The targets are stricter than the targets used for […]
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) (or cot death as it is also known) is the sudden unexpected and unexplained death of a baby aged between 4 weeks – 1 year. It generally happens when a baby is asleep in its sleep environment. In 2013 in Australia 117 babies died suddenly, and of those deaths 54 were identified as SIDS. Despite these deaths, SIDS is rare and the risk of your baby dying from it is low. The cause of SIDS is unknown but the risks can be reduced by: Using a cot that meets Australian and New Zealand standards AS/NZS 2172:2003, and not co-sleeping with your baby or on a sofa, armchair or letting them sleep in a rocker Not smoking whilst pregnant or after the baby is born, and not letting your baby be in an area where someone else is smoking Keeping all toys, blankets (tucked in half way down the body is ok), pillows away from where the baby is sleeping. Practise safe wrapping techniques or use a sleep suit to keep your baby nice and snug. Red Nose has a great brochure on safe wrapping Not putting a baby to sleep on its tummy or side Keeping the area where your baby is sleeping nice and cool, and not too hot Keeping your baby in your room where you can keep an eye on them when they are very young Breastfeeding your baby, whilst this is not always possible this is another practise that is potentially shown to reduce the risk of SIDS Not letting your baby sleep in an area near to pets or other children If you have any concerns whatsoever do not hesitate to speak to your Obstetrician to discuss further. For more information about SIDS visit the Red Nose website (formerly SIDS and Kids)
There are lots of longstanding jokes around experiencing ‘baby brain’ as part of pregnancy. In a recent ‘first of it’s kind’ study undertaken by Nature Neuroscience earlier this year it was found that being pregnant does in fact change the architecture in a woman’s brain, and that can last for at least two years after she has given birth, and the amount of grey matter decreases in areas of the brain that respond to social signals. So technically baby brain does exist – but whilst the grey matter in the brain decreases – this is temporary and women tend to become more adaptable and efficient in other areas i.e. knowing what their baby needs and being in tune with their role as a mother. Symptoms of “Baby Brain” The first trimester is a very ‘busy’ time for your growing baby. This is the time when all the major organs are developing and a lot of rapid growth happens. It is fairly normal therefore to feel increasingly tired especially if you are working or have other children to care for. If you are experiencing morning sickness, again this would make you feel fatigued also – therefore feeling tired, having a lack of focus and feeling forgetful are perfectly understandable at this stage. Later on in your pregnancy you will likely continue to feel tired from the growing baby but this is also when your brain alters and grey matter decreases – and it is as this stage that you may find that your short term memory and your ability to focus becomes more difficult – feeling like you have ‘baby brain’. If you find you are feeling constantly down and depressed however – this is not typical in a pregnancy so it is important to speak to your Obstetrician to get help. Tips to Overcome “Baby Brain” There are a few ways you can help combat the feelings of forgetfulness by setting up some simple processes: Always put things away in the same place i.e. car keys, house keys, handbag Write lists of things you need to do throughout the […]
So you have just found out you are pregnant! Congratulations! Now what? You have up to nine months to prepare for your arrival – which can seem like a long time – but there are some key things you could start doing to make sure you are all set when your new baby arrives. I’ve listed a few helpful suggestions below: Reading If this is your first pregnancy then you may be unsure what to expect. Whilst your friends and family may have lots of advice to give, it’s also good to read about pregnancy and hear from the experts. There are lots of books on the market to read which will offer advice day by day, week by week, where to get help and when you should be concerned and what is perfectly normal. Some great books/websites to start with are: Websites www.whattoexpect.com www.babycenter.com.au www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au Books What to Expect When You’re Expecting, by Heidi Murkoff For a more light hearted approach: Up the Duff, by Kaz Cooke Cooking As you get closer to the arrival of your new baby it can be really helpful to stockpile some food as when your baby first arrives you and/or your partner may not have time to be preparing food. A really easy way to do this is to simple double recipes when you are cooking and to freeze half each time, and in no time you will have a freezer full of food ready for when your new baby arrives. Nesting It’s good to be prepared for your new arrival and to start thinking about what extra furniture and items you might need such as a change table, bassinet, pram. Start thinking early before it comes a bit harder to walk around. Have a chat to friends and family and see whether they have any items they are not using anymore and get some ideas and advice of what you might need. There are so many shops for you to choose from it’s good to get advice so you don’t buy things that ultimately you will end up not using. Keep moving […]
Being pregnant and giving birth can be both emotional and overwhelming. We are told the excitement of becoming a mum for the first time (or again) is meant to be one of the happiest days of our lives – but for some, due to all sorts of reasons such as a traumatic birth or a sleepless baby, it isn’t always the case. It is normal to get a dose of the baby blues a few days after giving birth – but for some women negative feelings and sadness do not go away and can lead to postnatal depression, which if left untreated can be very serious. Baby Blues Approximately 8 in 10 new mothers will have a case of the baby blues soon after giving birth which is a result of hormone levels fluctuating. Feeling sad for no reason and completely overwhelmed are common traits of the baby blues, but within a few days this normally settles down. If these feelings do not subside and they get worse then it could mean the development of postnatal depression. Some of the common postnatal depression symptoms include: inability to cope guilt low self esteem lack of appetite frequent crying feelings of anxiety suicidal thoughts Treatment If you are experiencing symptoms of postnatal depression speak to your family and share how you feel, and tell your Obstetrician as they will be able to get you help and get it properly diagnosed as quickly and effectively as possible. Remember regardless of what you may read, postnatal depression is real. It is a condition and it does not mean you are not a good mother. If you’d like to discuss postnatal depression in more detail with an experienced obstetrician, please feel free to contact us for a consultation.