How does smell play such an important role in bonding with your baby?

 The Unique Connection between mother and child - does it exist? 

Photo source: Pandora - Unique Connection

Photo source: Pandora – Unique Connection

I loved watching the video which has gone viral on social media. It has everyone talking about how clever the children are to find their mums, and it got me thinking about how so many couples don’t understand the importance of that skin-on-skin bonding that occurs immediately after birth, but not only that, the pre-bonding that is being created during pregnancy that brings that beautiful connection to mother, father and baby (and of course siblings as well).

Here is the video showing children being blindfolded and asked to find their mother in a line-up of women.  All the children were able to locate their mother through touch, smell and I believe their unique energy.

The Unique Connection – video created by Pandora

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRoqk_z2Lgg

Today, evidence has shown the importance of smell in the bonding process of newborn mothers and babies.

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

One thing that has come to light recently is this whole new procedure of putting hats on newborn babies.  It was thought that it was better to hat babies so they didn’t lose heat through their head, but now it is evident that mothers keep their babies warm and regulate their temperature through that skin-on-skin contact and by not having a hat on baby this allows mums to smell their babies from head to toe taking in their babies pheromones more easily. 

As babies are feeding from the breast it is natural for the mum to lean down and smell the top of her baby’s head, but with a hat on, this is then a wasted opportunity for bonding even deeper.

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

Back in the “olden days” they didn’t put hats on newborn babies. The baby was born then given immediately to mothers to be held and kept warm and fed. There was that belief that women trusted their body and their own ability to birth then nurture their baby – it all came down to mothers instincts.

This is bonding.

The mother takes in the smell and feel of their baby.

Baby also gets wired to the smell and touch and sounds of the mother.

This bonding also begins before baby is even born.

During pregnancy a baby will become connected to the mother not only in a physical sense though the umbilical cord to the placenta attached to the uterine wall of the mother, but also connected energetically and spiritually.  The baby comes to identify the sounds of mother and father and in fact when they are born they are more inclined to move towards the sound of their mother or fathers voice even when in a room full of people.

It is important to be aware that whatever the mother feels that energy is then transferred through to her baby.

If she is stressed and upset she is releasing stress hormones that cross the placenta through to her baby and likewise if mum is experiencing great joy and pleasure that produces endorphins (the feel good healing hormones of the body) which also cross to her baby.

In Dr Sarah Buckley’s book “Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering” she writes:

“The experiences that will begin to fire and wire your baby’s brain start in your womb, with the physical sensations that provide the earliest learning. These include being physically supported by the womb and amniotic fluid, being kept warm by your body warmth, being gently rocked as you walk, being exposed to different tastes from your diet via the amniotic fluid, hearing your voice and voices of other family members, and feeling calm and settled when you are calm and settled. Conversely, high levels of stress during pregnancy can fire and wire your baby’s brain for dysfunctions in learning and over-reactivity to stress.” 

Dr. Sarah Buckley

Dr. Sarah Buckley

 A mother and her partner creates this amazing bond with baby in utero by so many every day activities such as humming, singing, reading, relaxing while rubbing belly, talking to baby and visualising what your baby looks like, or playing with baby when they kick by poking them back gently – you will soon discover this becomes “play time” between you and your baby.

A wonderful way to share your pregnancy with your baby as they are growing up is to take photos and videos during your pregnancy, during your play time and at certain milestones of your pregnancy and creating a “Bonding With Baby Book” where you can sit and share these images with your child as they get older.  This is a fantastic way to bond with children or in particular soothe them when they are sad or upset, as it becomes “your time” for reflection and quality time together. 

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

So let’s look at how all this bonding and connection takes place.

The journal “Neurolmage” suggests that we are instinctively wired for bonding with our babies and the sight and smell of newborns triggers a deep seated response to care for that child.

It is interesting to note that scientists have also found that when a woman gives birth, the father actually grows more neuron connections in certain areas of the brain (prefrontal cortex) which is involved in caretaking and bonding.  When they become fathers the receptors for the chemical vasopressin increase, which is related to nurturing and attachment. 

Dads can have just as strong attachment / bonding as mother as a recent study showed oxytocin levels rise equally in both new mum and dad.

It also appears that babies are born with a brain that expects this bond to form in the first place.

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

 Another study funded by the National Institute of Health and conducted by the Brain and Behaviour Research Foundation claims that “Infants can learn from their mothers about potential environment threats before their sensory and motor development allows them a comprehensive exploration of the surrounding environment.”  What this means is that the experiences or traumas that a mother has during pregnancy can be passed on to her baby including any stimulus such as smell, which then causes that child to experience distress and anxiety or in some cases post-traumatic stress syndrome, when they smell that smell after birth, without having ever experienced that trauma directly themselves.

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

That close physical contact at birth with skin on skin starts the powerful process of bonding between mother and baby. The baby also receives smells from the mums’ nipples, which attracts baby to that area, to instinctively start breastfeeding – creating the beautiful display of the “breast crawl.”

Take a look at this video created by www.breastcrawl.org demonstrating the breast crawl of newborn baby to mother’s breast.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3oPb4WdycE#t=15

Babies will recognise the milk from their own mother over the milk from another lactating mother. Skin-on-skin contact helps to imprint all the olfactory stimulus of the mother to the baby and vice versa, providing that security of being able to identify each other when they separated – this is the “imprinting” process which is part of our evolution.

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

In one experiment, researchers tested newborns by holding a pad carrying maternal odours 17cm from the baby’s nose. In response, the babies wriggled towards the pad that contains the scent of their own mother.

A recent study also showed that 90% of mothers who were left to bond with their baby uninterrupted for a minimum of one hour were able to identify their baby through smell alone.

My suggestion is rather than baby being brought straight up to mums chest at birth for skin-on-skin contact, baby is placed on mums stomach, so that mum has the opportunity to have time to take in the look, the feel and the smell of her baby.  Baby also gets the opportunity to connect with mum on the outside and will start to smell the breast milk and by using the breast crawl technique will instinctively forage their way to the breast and start suckling, increasing the release of oxytocin for the placenta to be birthed and the mother to embrace her new role as a newborn mother.

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

So now go and pick up your baby, hold your baby close, skin-to-skin and breathe in slowly to take your fill of pheromones and enjoy that beautiful connection for life.

My name is Vicki Hobbs and I am a pregnancy and postnatal massage specialist at Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Wellness. I am also a certified doula and offer hypnobirthing and childbirth education classes. For more details about my services, please call me on (08) 9303 9111 or email vicki@phoenixtherapies.com.au

Thank you to all my beautiful hypnobirthing families who have shared their amazing photos for this article.

Resources:

http://www.livescience.com/19108-baby-love-human-brain.html

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1651-2227.2004.tb00856.x/abstract

http://www.jneurosci.org/content/26/22/5888.full

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15841774

http://www.newsweek.com/mothers-fears-are-passed-children-through-smell-study-suggests-261754

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20453850

http://www.nature.com/pr/journal/v21/n4s/abs/pr1987171a.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK55973/

http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/node/518

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-brains-of-our-fathers/

http://www.parentingscience.com/newborn-senses.html

http://healthland.time.com/2013/09/26/why-moms-find-that-new-baby-smell-so-delicious/

http://www.breastcrawl.org/introduction.shtml

 

Why I Teach The Hypnobirthing Australia Program

I have been teaching hypnobirthing for a few years now and originally trained in 2009; however I have now chosen to teach the Hypnobirthing Australia program as I was really impressed by the extensive, professional practitioner training that I received earlier this year, which I found lacking when I originally did my hypnobirthing training.

Hypnobirthing-Logo

This program is Australian, modern, up to date, and has high quality class resources including the comprehensive folder that is given to the birthing couple for easy reference to class content and hypnobirthing techniques, beautiful visualisations that are professionally drawn by a graphic artist, along with clear and easy to understand birth prompts for the birth partner.

In our Hypnobirthing Australia classes, the professional powerpoint presentation highlights the conditioning of the sub-conscious mind while participants are enjoying the relaxed atmosphere of the class.  We show recent birth DVD’s of Australian and NZ women hypnobirthing exclusive to Hypnobirthing Australia that are not accessible on social media, the internet or YouTube.

More importantly for me I now find that the classes just “flow” and simply make so much more sense.  When I am sharing this information with birthing couples, I see that light bulb moment for the mums of understanding and knowing, and I see the partners really take on board all the information about the mind, the body, the hormones and the emotions and what they can do to make it a more positive experience.

In my classes, I also provide many extra tools to help with the visualisation, conditioning, relaxation and hypnosis triggers to help you along your hypnobirthing journey.

10606283_10152507777821298_6826695059848245337_n

With the Hypnobirthing Australia course references are also made to world-renowned childbirth and hypnosis experts such as Dr Michel Odent, Dr Sarah Buckley, Dr Grantly Dick-Read, Dr Milton Erickson, Dave Elman and Ina May Gaskin – to name just a few!  It does not focus on just one individuals’ ideals and views on what is the “right way” of pregnancy, labour, birth and parenting and it certainly doesn’t set you up for any unrealistic expectations of having a pain free birth or that by doing hypnobirthing you will be guaranteed a natural birth, however what it does do is provide you with the tools and knowledge to support you in having a positive, calm birth.

Another bonus to being a part of Hypnobirthing Australia is the cohesiveness of an amazing group of women all across Australia who run their own hypnobirthing businesses, but are part of a wonderful team who meet daily on social media and through webinars to receive ongoing training, support, encouragement, knowledge, experience, research and to share positive, amazing birth stories.

This is all coordinated by the Director of Hypnobirthing Australia – Melissa Spilsted, who is undeniably one of the most dynamic, intelligent, charismatic, professional and proactive women I have met in birthing circles.  She is such a positive and calm person, who strives to ensure that Hypnobirthing Australia is seen as a positive childbirth education program working independently of all other programs but in no way discrediting or making false statements that could damage the reputation of any other program.

IMG_1161

In my mind that shows someone with integrity and professionalism – something so many others could learn from in business.  She provides all the Hypnobirthing Australia practitioners with a safe environment to share our thoughts, ideas, suggestions and experiences and is constantly finding ways of value adding to the course and providing the best hypnobirthing program in Australia.

Hypnobirthing Australia was developed in Australia (Queensland) for Australian practitioners who undertake extensive training taught directly by Melissa, to provide quality assurance and who then must continue with ongoing professional development to remain certified.

Hypnobirthing Australia practitioners regularly have webinars for training purposes and we interact with one another in such a positive and productive way daily.  We are a positive and supportive team, not just individuals, and we share our achievements, our concerns, our exciting birth stories and brainstorm on a regular basis and this is invaluable as a practitioner and a fantastic resource.

The team is fortunate to have so many diverse professionals who generally come from a health or birth background such as midwives, counsellors, birth attendants (doulas), massage therapists, naturopaths, nutritionists, clinical hypnotherapists and so on to share their expertise and provide a platform for growth.  Melissa is constantly reviewing Australian birth practices and procedures and updating our course materials on a regular basis so the information that we provide to couples is the best possible information currently available.  We also provide additional links and resources to credible information and studies for couples to further their own research (rather than Google) to enable them to make confident choices to include in their birth preferences.

IMG_0426

There are many differences and similarities between all the hypnobirthing programs and my suggestion to you if you are looking for hypnobirthing classes is to do your research, find out what the differences are between the programs, talk to the practitioners offering classes and find the one that suits you best.

Melissa Spilsted has also written on the Hypnobirthing Australia website some of the differences between our program and some others in the market today.

http://www.hypnobirthingaustralia.com.au/what-is-the-difference-between-hypnobirthing-australia-hypnobirthing-the-mongan-method-calmbirth/

All Hypnobirthing Australia practitioners are passionate about their work and we love sharing this amazing transformation from fear based birthing to positive, confident birthing no matter how your baby decides to be born.

We know we are changing lives not only during an exciting yet sometimes challenging time for couples as they work their way through the unknown, but for the rest of their lives as well, as all the tools and techniques we teach can be used in so many different circumstances in everyday life.

Even dogs love being a part of the hypnobirthing classes!

Even dogs love being a part of the hypnobirthing classes!

As I read over what I have just written, I notice my heart is just bursting with love, emotion and pride to be a part of such an awesome group and I know that this love, emotion and pride shines through in my hypnobirthing classes when I teach.

And so it is……

If you would like more information about the Hypnobirthing Australia program in Perth, please contact me on 0488 030 006 or email info@hypnobirthingcentrewa.com.au

Happy Hypnobirthing!

Vicki Hobbs
Certified Hypnobirthing Australia Practitioner

 

I’m pregnant – why does it hurt so much?

Preparing for birth is like preparing for a marathon.

You need to condition both your mind and your body.

You need to release fear, which creates tension, producing more pain, creating more fear, which starts a whole vicious cycle in the mind and body as described by Obstetrician and leading advocate of natural birth, Dr Grantly Dick-Read in his book ‘Childbirth Without Fear’.

However, let’s look at an area of the physical side of pregnancy.  One of the important physical aspects of the body during pregnancy is the pelvis.  Your pelvis is not one fixed bone, it is made up of the sacrum, coccyx and the two sacroiliac joints, one on the left and one on the right, which are joined at the front by the pubis symphysis, a fibrous cartilage.

Surrounding the pelvis are really important muscles which help to stabilise the pelvis, but let’s really just focus on the psoas muscles (pronounced so-as), which also works to send messages back to the central nervous system.

The psoas major muscles are quite large muscles and are the only muscles that connect your spine to your leg on either side of the spine.  The psoas connects from the last four vertebrae of the spine between the pelvis and the ribs and then wrap around to the front of the pelvis and drop down to attach at the lower end to the top of the thigh bone.

psoas muscle

The iliopsoas is a hip flexor and externally rotates the hip and the psoas (major) part of the muscle assists in lumbar extension and moves the ribs forward into a thrust, lifting the chest.  When these muscles contract they will shorten, when the muscles relax they will lengthen and release tension.  The psoas is shortened more so during pregnancy due to the anterior pelvic tilt, as your uterus expands, baby grows and you are carrying more weight.

During pregnancy, the psoas contributes to pain through the lower back, groin, adductors and can even cause weakness due to the extra pressure from the weight of the uterus.  Being in a sitting position for long periods of time can shorten the psoas muscle causing pain and tension in the pelvic floor, the hips and the spine.

It can also affect the space in the abdomen, affect the alignment of the skeletal system and limit the range of motion in the spine, pelvis and legs, which in turn will limit the functionality of birthing positions such as squatting.

The psoas plays a significant role in Optimal Foetal Positioning (OFP) and can be a reason a baby stays in the breech position, as it can prevent the hips from extending and restrict the opening of the pelvis.  It can cause the disks in the spinal cord to compress and also shorten the hamstrings and calf muscles.  Pregnant women should learn to relax, release and lengthen the psoas muscles on a daily basis so that baby will find an easy transition into the birth canal.

Optimal Foetal Position

Medical Illustration – Nucleus Medical Media

 

Childbirth Educator and Physical Therapist Penny Simkin writes:  “It is less important to know the foetal position than it is important to respond to the needs of the birth.  The muscles, ligaments and bones may need accommodation regardless of foetal position.  In other words, tension in the psoas pair of muscles or pelvic floor can delay an anterior baby and a posterior baby.  Extension of the anterior foetus’ head can prevent engagement in some pelvises.  The main point is that we can, when needed, promote progress regardless of foetal position.”

It is also important to be aware that the hormone ‘relaxin’ does not reduce muscle tension.  It softens the abdominal muscles to cope with the growing size of your belly and relaxes the pelvic floor muscles.  Relaxin promotes the rupture of the membranes, the opening and softening of the cervix and vagina, relaxes the pelvic ligaments and joints, the intrauterine ligaments and the pubis symphysis to help with the smooth transition of baby from womb to world, however pregnant women need to do more of their own work to stretch out and release stress and tension in the muscles (particularly the psoas) as the hormones will not do this for you.

Liz Koch from Core Awareness is an advisor for the well-known Spinning Babies organisation and recommends this simple gravity technique to help release the psoas muscles during pregnancy and to also encourage Optimal Foetal Positioning while relieving stress and anxiety.

Liz Koch - Core Awareness

  1. Lie on your back and use pillows to create a diagonal support from your sit bones to your head (if you’re not pregnant, you can just lie on your back).
  2. Bend your knees, with your heels about 12 – 16 inches away from the buttocks.
  3. Keep your feet about a hip width apart and parallel with each other.
  4. Place your hands on your belly or at the sides of your body and simply rest in this position for 10 – 20 minutes.

Well known Physical Therapist Susan McLaughlin demonstrates how to release the psoas and relax the pelvic floor muscles, which can also be incorporated during pregnancy.

Susan McLaughlin - psoas release

  1. Place the bolster near the bottom of the shoulder blades.
  2. Make sure that the ribs remain relaxed and flush with your abdominal wall.
  3. Extend the legs.
  4. Make sure that the back of your thighs fully touch the floor.
  5. If they don’t you need to bolster up higher.
  6. Relax like this for 5-10 minutes.
  7. Allow your legs and torso to relax.
  8. Practice breathing.
  9. Focus on allowing the pelvic floor muscles to relax on the inhale.
  10. Tension in the pelvic floor can pull on the sacrum, limiting sacral mobility that is necessary to widen the pelvic outlet.

Regular massage will certainly release tension and stress in the pregnant body encouraging the feel good hormones endorphins, aid in increasing circulation and reducing oedema.  A qualified pregnancy massage specialist will be able release the psoas muscles as well as teach a pregnant woman how to stretch and relax the psoas on a daily basis to ensure her body is ready for labour and birth, and assist in Optimal Foetal Positioning.

I am a Pregnancy Massage Specialist with a Diploma in Pregnancy Massage and Maternity Care from both Well Mother and Pregnancy Massage Australia.  My business is Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Wellness  located in the northern suburbs of Perth and I have been operating since 2004.  I work with women during pre-conception, pregnancy and the postnatal period as well as after caesarean section to promote rapid healing both physically and mentally.

I am also a certified Doula, Hypnotherapist and Heal Your Life Facilitator while running another business as a Hypnobirthing Practitioner at the Hypnobirthing Centre WA and a Member of Hypnobirthing Australia.

To book your pregnancy or postnatal massage or just to get more information please call me on (08) 9303 9111 or email vicki@phoenixtherapies.com.au

 

 

Stretch Marks During Pregnancy – is there a miracle cure?

Around 70% of pregnant women develop stretch marks during pregnancy and this is due to scarring that develops in the deeper layers of the skin.  When there is a lot of stress, stretching and strain on the collagen fibres in the skin, and repetitive stress and tension in the deeper fibres (dermis) this causes the fibres to break, which then creates the marks on the surface of the skin that we know as stretch marks.

stretch marks5

Being pregnant creates that type of stress and strain on the skin, and depending on what type of collagen, elastin and skin type you have will determine whether you are more likely to get stretch marks.

Unfortunately there is no way you can prevent stretch marks, as research shows that stretch marks are hereditary, so if your mother had stretch marks during pregnancy, then the likelihood is that you will probably get stretch marks too due to your genetic makeup.

stretch marks4

However, for those who are likely to get stretch marks you can reduce the severity of them with your diet and how much weight you put on or how rapidly you put the weight on.  Stretch marks over time will eventually fade, but the texture of the marks will be permanent.

stretch marks2

Many companies out there are claiming to “cure stretch marks” and you need to be wary of spending thousands of dollars to undergo treatment that you hope will cure your stretch marks.  You may reduce the appearance of them and so maybe in these circumstances many women can regain some confidence in their body image, which is obviously a good thing, however on the other hand many women have found that it did nothing for them – my old saying “we are all individuals, what works for one person may not work for the next.”

stretch marks3

There is no miracle cure for stretch marks – no cream, lotion, potion or machine that can do that so don’t be fooled by clever marketing.  A recent study published in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment identified that laser treatment that was trialled on 17 women with stretch marks, over six treatments performed weekly, seemed to be effective in improving the texture and appearance of the stretch marks, however again it did not remove them completely.

Laser_Stretch_Mark_Removal

We recommend that you keep your skin hydrated by using a rich, thick cream, which will also help to stop the itchiness of the stretching skin with your growing belly or a lotion such as the well-known brand Bio-Oil, which has active ingredients to help improve the look and tone of stretch marks, however even they highlight on their website:  “Stretch marks are permanent in nature, and although Bio-Oil is formulated to help improve their appearance, it can never remove them.”

boi-oil

When you are applying cream or oil to your belly we recommend you massage it in a clockwise direction – the direction of your digestion.

phoenix-16

Drinking plenty of water will also be helpful in hydrating your body and your skin.

Now it’s time to think of your stretch marks as your “Creator Stripes” as you remind yourself and everyone else who sees them that you have earned these stripes – you are now a mother, a creator, a life long energetic connection to another human being who was created and who grew inside you, and that makes you another amazing, awesome woman of the world.

women are strong

Thank you for nurturing your babies in your bodies and bringing them into the world. What an amazing achievement!

 

Vicki Hobbs
Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Centre
Hypnobirthing Centre WA

 

(Disclaimer – I do not own some of the images on this page)

The Power of Hypnobirthing

Vicki Hobbs from the Hypnobirthing Centre WA is a certified Hypnobirthing Practitioner with Hypnobirthing Australia and is passionate in educating women to have a more positive and relaxed prenatal, birthing and post natal experience.

For most of their lives, women have been bombarded with negative stories of other women’s birth experiences or what they see on TV or in movies.  They have been conditioned to believe that excruciating pain is associated with labour; and because of this, many women fear giving birth.  Additionally, if they have already experienced a traumatic birth they generally have fear associated with their next birth.

fear-2

This fear creates tension of the muscles, which then creates pain that generates more fear, so this creates a cycle that inhibits their body from performing a normal physiological function.  The result is exactly what they feared most – long, painful birthing or unnecessary intervention.

Fear-Tension-Pain-cycle

Hypnobirthing is a self-hypnosis childbirth education program that prepares women for birth without fear or tension and to allow her body to function as it was designed to.  It will be one of the most valuable investments a couple can make towards a positive and empowered birth and for the rest of their lives.

Surge of the sea

By learning these self-hypnosis, relaxation, affirmation, visualisation and breathing techniques it will fully prepare the mother and give her confidence to birth in a calm, positive way, regardless of whether she has chosen to birth in a hospital, at home, a birthing centre or even if she is having an elective caesarean or special circumstances arise unexpectedly.  During classes we incorporate fear releasing hypnosis and conditioning of your mind to release your bodies most powerful healing hormones, the endorphins, which are said to be up to two hundred times more powerful than morphine.

endorphin - morphine

Expectant mums learn to trust in themselves and their bodies and they are prepared no matter whatever turn their birthing takes.  This program does not set up any unrealistic expectations for birthing and partners also play an integral part in helping the mum to relax, offering support, positive reinforcement, asking questions of medical caregivers and advocating for whatever decisions they make together.

KerryLee & Jarret2

There are so many benefits to using the hypnobirthing techniques and evidence shows:

  • It creates a more integral role for the birthing partner;
  • The first stage of labour can be shortened by several hours;
  • Labour fatigue is greatly reduced for the mother;
  • Postnatal recovery time is faster;
  • It greatly reduces medical intervention;
  • There are lower induction and caesarean rates;
  • There is substantially less pain relief administered;
  • There is a higher success for breastfeeding;

Jacob1 - Krystle & Mitch

For more information about hypnobirthing course details in Perth, please contact the Hypnobirthing Centre WA on 08 9303 9111 or website www.hypnobirthingcentrewa.com.au

 

Hypnobirthing Story of Lachlan – born 15th April 2014

HBLogo3

On the morning of the 15th April 2014, I went into natural labour with my first baby at 5 days past his guess date.  At 5.00am I woke to go to the loo, and had my show.  I knew this could happen days before labour so tried not to get too excited!  However at 7.00am my waters broke and it was as in the movies… a big rush!  I knew that I had to get labour going within 24 hours to avoid being induced, so I hopped in the shower, got dressed and hubby Jarret and I took the dogs for a walk.  I was getting Braxton Hicks quite regularly, but they were nothing more than a light tightening sensation.

KerryLee & Jarret1

Once home, I got onto my fit ball and started doing hip rotations.  At 10.00am I started to feel light surges and by 10.30am I knew I was officially in labour!  The surges started at 4 minutes apart and quickly got closer and closer together.  They were not painful at all… in fact it is hard to describe the feeling. It was more like intensity and a tightening in my lower tummy.  I practiced my surge breathing and listened to my hypnobirthing music and Surge of the Sea relaxation and visualisation CD, which I really felt worked well for me!

My whole body remained loose and limp… it looked like I was fast asleep most of the time.  I decided to hop into the bath to relax, listening to my affirmations, which kept me very relaxed and calm.

My husband timed the surges, and by 12 noon they were 2 minutes apart.  He suggested we get ready to go into the Birth Centre, however I was unsure as I was expecting things to get far more intense before having to go in.  I wanted to avoid being sent back home, and they were so completely manageable that I really didn’t believe I was ready to go.

The midwife told us we needed to come in ASAP, so we packed our things and got to the Centre at 1.00pm.  I continued listening to the affirmations in the car to avoid slowing my labour with a change of environment and this seemed to work well!

KerryLee & Jarret2

Once at the Birth Centre, I agreed to be examined.  I was already 8cm dilated!  I could not believe it!  I hopped into the bath around 1.30 pm, and relaxed to my hypnobirthing music, practicing my breathing and sipping on water.  At around 3.15 pm I felt I was ready to bear down, and my body started doing this automatically without me even trying.  I told the midwives and they encouraged me to work with my body.  As he moved down the birth canal, the midwives kept asking me if I felt a burning sensation but I didn’t feel a thing.  About 45 minutes later, at 3.56 pm, our baby boy Lachlan was born.

KerryLee & Jarret3

I pulled him out myself which was incredibly empowering.  Apart from being checked when I first arrived, I had no one touch me my entire labour.  It was amazing!

When I pulled Lachlan out of the water, his heart rate dropped and they had to cut the cord straight away.  He gave out a little squeak, but he was not breathing so they had to take him away to give him oxygen.  I hopped out of the bath and started hemorrhaging and lost 850mls of blood in a very short space of time.  I was so in my ‘hypnobirthing zone’ that I was completely unphased by what was happening.

KerryLee & Jarret5

I felt for my poor hubby who was in a state as he did not know who to go with!  I was so calm and relaxed that I told him to go with Lachlan.  He began breathing fine, but they needed to monitor him for a couple of hours to make sure he was all ok.  My bleeding stopped on its own (they think I had a burst vessel from the placenta coming away from my uterus), but I also needed a couple of stitches.

Once baby and I had both been sorted out, they brought him to me and placed him on my chest and he started breastfeeding straight away!  He was very alert from the get go, and is a very relaxed and calm baby.  He feeds like a little champion too!

My labour was such a breeze, and such a wonderful experience.  I used to be so fearful of labour, but hypnobirthing really enabled me to work with my body and have a wonderful pain free experience!  Many people do not believe me when I tell them that it was so wonderful, and I didn’t even need so much as a Panadol.

KerryLee & Jarret4

I cannot recommend hypnobirthing enough!  I will also say that part of it was due to very healthy eating before and during pregnancy, as well as me being very fit before falling pregnant and keeping up with exercise throughout my pregnancy.  I don’t think my labour would have been nearly as quick and easy if I was not fit and healthy.

Thank you to my hypnobirthing practitioner Vicki Hobbs from Hypnobirthing Centre WA for being such a great support and resource!

To see a short video of me during my surges and leading up to Lachlan being born, please click on the video link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=giYkYTaTYeM&feature=youtu.be

Kerry-lee & Jarret
Tapping, WA

Pregnancy Massage – Is It Safe?

The popularity and education of prenatal massage has increased significantly over the past few decades.

In tribal cultures, prenatal and labour support massage was common.  Anthropologist George Engelmann documented these techniques in the mid 1880’s; however the first documentation of labour massage was in 15th century England.  It was common practice for midwives to use massage while the mother was in labour to make her more comfortable and to relieve pain.

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The elder women of the Nama Hottentot tribe of South Africa give massage treatments to the pregnant women of the tribe several times a week to prepare for the upcoming childbirth.  In Uganda, pregnant mothers receive massage daily in an effort to make their muscles and joints supple for an easier labour and delivery.

Women in tribal societies resume their normal everyday activities almost immediately after giving birth.  Among the natural methods used to restore strength and decrease post-partum depression in the new mum, the most important and widely accepted tradition is massage.

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In our medically advanced society, massage can often be over-looked as an important part of pregnancy health care.  However, this tried and tested tradition is one of the oldest forms of the healing arts and has been used for thousands of years in almost every culture.

Every pregnant woman deserves some pampering and massage is a wonderful way to reduce stress and promote general wellbeing.  Massage can be received during all three trimesters of your pregnancy for both normal and high risk pregnancies.

With the exciting news that you are pregnant, your body is about to undergo stress-producing changes.  Some of the consequences of these changes can leave a woman feeling sore, tired and uncomfortable.  Massage is therefore a great way to relieve this discomfort through the positive effects of soft tissue manipulation.

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Pregnancy Massage therapy helps the body adjust to accommodate the life growing within.  It can assist in reducing stress, encourage relaxation and prepare muscles and joints for childbirth.  Not only can this be a treat for you, but a much needed therapy to ease some of the aches and pains experienced during pregnancy.

It has been claimed that during the first trimester, pregnant women should not have massage as it may cause miscarriage, however if the pregnant woman is healthy and proper guidelines for working with pregnant women are followed, then there is absolutely no medical evidence to support that a massage could harm the pregnancy or cause miscarriage.  Most times this myth is circulated by the very ones who should not be doing pregnancy massage as they are not qualified to do so.

Just recently the Australian Association of Massage Therapists (AAMT) has announced after completing their own research that pregnancy massage during the first trimester is considered safe “if undertaken by a trained pregnancy massage specialist.”

Here is a recent article about this breakthrough in pregnancy massage during the first trimester:

http://pregnancymassageaustralia.com.au/break-understanding-first-trimester-massage/

Probably the main reason for not getting massage in the first three months is more about comfort as it may trigger dizziness or increase your morning sickness – on the other hand it may eliminate these symptoms.  You won’t know until you try it and then you can let your therapist know if you start to feel uncomfortable and adjustments can be made or you can just stop the treatment.

Remember, there is no danger, just the potential to be uncomfortable.

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The most important thing to consider with pregnancy massage is using a qualified Remedial Massage Therapist who has had specialised training in pregnancy massage and knows the anatomy and physiology of a pregnant woman.  Just being a massage therapist doesn’t mean that they are qualified to give massage to pregnant and postpartum women.  Be cautious that just because a brochure offers pregnancy massage, it doesn’t always mean that they are qualified to do so.

It is essential to ask any questions or raise any concerns you may have to your therapist at any time during the treatment.  A professional pregnancy massage will always start with a minimum fifteen minute consultation prior to actually having a massage each and every time you attend.  You should be asked specific questions about the progress of your pregnancy, your current condition, your antenatal appointments and specific areas of discomfort and range of motion checks.

A trained pregnancy massage therapist will safely and effectively answer any questions you may have about having a massage during any stage of your pregnancy.  We also do not recommend the tables with the hole where the belly hangs down, as this puts so much more pressure on the sacrum, lower back and can strain the ligaments around the uterus and pelvis, not to mention your growing breasts which may be tender or uncomfortable.  Just imagine all that weight of your baby in your womb, just hanging down with the force of gravity – while your therapist is also then creating more pressure during the massage with the massage techniques (or not effectively working through this area so they don’t put more pressure there), so then your glute (bum) muscles are tensing trying to overcompensate for the pressure created in your back.  The best position during pregnancy massage is in a side-lying position, with your top leg at a 90 degree angle supported by a bolster under your leg and knees stabilising the hip joint, along with your top foot also being supported, not just hanging down at the edge of the bolster. Support cushions will also be used to stabilise your body to prevent you from rocking or rolling from side to side.

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Vicki Hobbs of Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Centre is a qualified Remedial Massage Therapist specialising in pregnancy, induction, labour and postnatal massage.

Vicki is a highly trained pregnancy massage specialist having completed the Diploma in Pregnancy Massage course in 2013 with Pregnancy Massage Australia.  This training is an advanced level of training for pregnancy massage, but also specialising in working with high risk pregnancy clients such as those with pre-eclampsia and other conditions such as pubis symphysis separation, pelvic girdle pain, lower back and hip pain, injuries and other pregnancy related dysfunctions.

She also holds a Diploma in Pregnancy Massage & Maternity Care after training in 2008 with Suzanne Yates, who is a well-known author, shiatsu practitioner, midwife and the Director of the Well Mother Centre in the UK. www.wellmother.org

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Vicki has expert knowledge and training of the anatomy and physiology of the pregnant body, stretching during pregnancy, labour position techniques and massage instruction for your partner.  She is also a Certified Birthing Assistant (Doula) and Childbirth Educator and conducts regular “Essential Birthing Journey” workshops for pregnant women.  Vicki is passionate about sharing her knowledge as a Hypnobirthing Australia Practitioner having been trained in this method earlier this year and also in the Mongan Method (originally in November 2009 and then completed a refresher in November 2012).

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In addition to this, my insurance company specifically covers me for pregnancy massage, not just remedial massage, which further ensures that all strict training criteria and guidelines have been met for your own peace of mind.

As with most therapies, there are always precautions involved with receiving treatment during pregnancy, however pregnancy massage (when performed by a trained and experienced therapist) is a safe procedure with benefits far outweighing the risks.

For your own peace of mind, you can even discuss with your medical practitioner or obstetrician of your intention to have a pregnancy massage, and they will advise you if they feel that you should not do so for whatever reason.

BENEFITS OF PREGNANCY MASSAGE

The benefits of massage in general are numerous, however more specifically for pregnancy they include:

  • Relief from muscle cramps, tension, spasms;
  • Relief from pain especially in the lower back, neck, hips and legs;
  • Reduction of stress on weight bearing joints;
  • Improvement of muscle tone;
  • Dilate the blood vessels, therefore improving blood circulation including the placenta, which brings greater nutrition to the tissues of the body and enhances waste removal;
  • The lymphatic system circulates faster and more efficiently which results in more energy and less fatigue and helps to reduce swelling;
  • May help with the reduction of varicose veins;
  • Stimulates glandular secretions which will stabilise your hormonal levels and reduce their side effects;
  • Enhancement of elasticity and pliability of skin and connective tissue (ligaments and tendons);
  • Helping with sleeplessness or insomnia;
  • Increased range of flexibility and movement and become less prone to injury;
  • Helps to calm the nerves and reduce anxiety, which is also transferred to your baby to help them feel more relaxed and soothed;
  • Prepares the muscles and tissues used during labour and birth.

Many of the problems that arise during pregnancy are due to muscle strain, weakness and poor posture.  Proper exercise and appropriate stretching will increase your energy, strengthen the muscles most strained during pregnancy and labour, stimulate circulation and increase flexibility in the joints.

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Here is a great testimonial from one of our regular pregnancy massage clients:

“I would recommend Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Centre to anybody.  I first heard about them in an advertisement in the local magazine Offspring.  I was 24 weeks pregnant, working 25-35 hours a week in a busy café and was starting to feel a little tense in my lower back.  I decided to treat myself to a massage but I was a little nervous about having a massage while pregnant so I did some reading on the internet and Facebook which helped me to make a decision.

Vicki and Sarah are very professional and welcoming and I felt comfortable in their abilities almost instantly.  The bodyCushion that they use is so comfortable and supportive.  Pregnancy massage was such a great way for me to relax (body and mind) before the arrival of my baby. I continued to work right up to 36 weeks (3 weeks before baby was born) having a massage every 2 weeks or so definitely helped me stay very active during my pregnancy especially towards the end. I look forward to going back for a massage without my big belly!

Thank you Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Centre”
Laura

MORE INFORMATION

For more information or to book a pregnancy massage contact Vicki Hobbs of Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Centre, which is now located from my lovely home in Landsdale (the northern suburbs of Perth).

My details are (08) 9303 9111 or check the website www.phoenixtherapies.com.au

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Pregnancy Massage and PreEclampsia

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Nearly 75 of pregnant women experience swelling during the last trimester of their pregnancy and most of the time it is relieved by good posture, massage, staying cool, elevation of legs and rest.  However, when something like pre-eclampsia develops, severe swelling or ”pitting oedema” is merely one symptom of sometimes a more serious condition known as pre-eclampsia.

Pre-eclampsia affects 2 in every 100 pregnant women.  This is a severe type of high blood pressure, where the only known cure is to deliver the baby. Until now, the only way to diagnose pre-eclampsia has been to check for high blood pressure and to measure the level of protein in the urine but both tests can be unreliable, meaning the condition can be both missed or misdiagnosed with babies being delivered prematurely for no reason.  Until now doctors have also had no way of telling how severe the condition was for each individual woman.

In the UK there is now a blood test which gives an accurate result in just 15 minutes, by measuring the level of Placental Growth Factor (PIGF) in the blood.  Those that show a very low PIGF level have severe pre-eclampsia and will be admitted to hospital for birth, and those with a high level PIGF are unlikely to have a severe form of the condition, regardless of any other symptoms present, and therefore can carry their baby to full term.  Having enquired about this blood test to King Edward Memorial Hospital recently a spokesperson confirmed that this test is not available in WA at the moment, however steps are being taken to be able to perform this blood test in the near future.

Generally speaking, the fluid retention that causes mild swelling the last few weeks in pregnancy is a normal defense mechanism against blood loss during childbirth. Your body will be able to quickly replace lost fluids and begin breastfeeding at the same time, with these fluid stores in place.

Pregnant women experience dilation in the blood vessels, especially in the lower extremities, and “pooling” of blood, which causes oedema (swelling).  The best way to deal with excess fluid is not to restrict it, but to mobilize it. Keep it from staying in areas that cause the most discomfort, such as in the legs, feet, fingers and abdomen. Assisting the kidney function is one way of doing this. Rest and fluids are the two best ways to help the kidneys rid themselves of excess fluid.

So, what are the differences between normal and pitting oedema?

  • Normal Swelling in Pregnancy: Normal swelling is usually limited to the feet, ankles and lower legs but can also affect the wrists, hands and fingers. It generally gets worse after long periods of standing or sitting upright (like driving a long distance or flying).  Normal swelling usually decreases after resting, especially resting with your feet raised and whilst sleeping overnight.  Also, normal swelling will not usually leave a pitting oedema mark in the skin.
  • Pitting Oedema in Pregnancy: A major sign of pitting oedema is when you depress the skin and it does not go back to normal within a few seconds – it stays indented.  This basically means that if pressure is applied to an area of oedema with the finger or thumb for 20-30 seconds and then removed, the area being compressed will have a ‘pit’ or hollow in it which can be both seen and felt easily and does not subside within 30 seconds. Oedema will be obvious both to the sufferer and to those around her.  A very good example of this was when a pregnant woman placed a 20c piece on her lower leg and left it for 30 seconds and when she took it off she was able to see the imprint of the design of the coin on her leg clearly for several minutes.  This is definitely cause for concern and should be checked out immediately.
Notice the difference between normal and pitting oedema - when you depress the area it stays indented.

Notice the difference between normal and pitting oedema – when you depress the area it stays indented.

Severe headaches and visual disturbances (flashes or blurry vision), pain in the upper right abdominal area under the ribcage or right shoulder are also warning signs that you should contact your doctor or midwife immediately.  Another warning symptom of serious swelling during pregnancy is swelling that extends above the feet and legs; particularly if you find your face or arms are swelling contact your health care provider.

If this is the case, then pregnancy massage is highly contraindicated, which means that massage must not be performed until the client has been to her health care provider to be tested for the onset of pre-eclampsia or any other serious condition such as a deep vein thrombosis (DVT).  This is why it is so very important for women to go to qualified pregnancy massage therapists who have been specially trained to identify conditions that are contraindicated for massage particularly this one.

I’ve had a real interest in working with women who are diagnosed with pre-eclampsia.  I have had first hand experience of dealing with pre-eclampsia that quickly went on to become eclampsia and toxemia. This was not diagnosed even though during all my prenatal visits I had high levels of protein and high blood pressure, which I had never suffered prior to pregnancy. The swelling in my feet and legs was incredibly noticeable, (I went up two shoes sizes and still they were tight) however I was being told that swelling was normal during pregnancy and I shouldn’t be concerned. It wasn’t until I passed out going up the stairs at the shopping centre that it suddenly became a serious concern. I was rushed to King Edward Memorial Hospital and had an emergency caesarean at 32 weeks. I was then transferred to intensive care and closely monitored with my blood pressure at 160/100 and my baby girl Hannah was taken to the Special Care Nursery.

For 48 hours we were separated – I was just too sick to visit her and all I had was a polaroid photo that one of the midwives had kindly taken for me.

Special Care Nursery - Hannah born at 32 weeks weighing 4lb 8oz

Special Care Nursery – Hannah born at 32 weeks weighing 4lb 8oz

In milder cases of pre-eclampsia pregnancy massage would be beneficial for the woman’s well-being and obviously the baby as well, however the massage is quite different to your usual massage.

Lymphatic massage of arms and legs will reduce oedema by forcing the excess toxins into the excretory system to be eliminated.  However, if the pre-eclampsia is severe, massage would in fact add more strain on the kidneys.  Protein in the urine is already a sign that the kidneys are struggling to process the wastes.

Seeing Hannah for the first time 48 hours after birth. My legs and feet still very swollen and I couldn't walk.

Seeing Hannah for the first time 48 hours after birth. My legs and feet still very swollen and I couldn’t walk.

Recently we had a client who came for pregnancy massage who we referred back to her health care provider before we could do the massage, and it was found that she did in fact have pre-eclampsia bordering on eclampsia.  What this means is that her kidneys are already over functioning to try and remove toxic waste from the body, therefore having massage would have put even more strain on the kidneys and could have had a really negative effect on her wellbeing.

Only a fully qualified pregnancy massage specialist can provide massage to a client with pre-eclampsia, as this is a very specific type of massage and can have huge benefits to the mum if done correctly.

Vicki Hobbs of Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Centre is trained and qualified through Pregnancy Massage Australia to perform this type of massage and can be contacted on (08) 9303 9111.

For more information about the signs and symptoms of pre-eclampsia go to the Pre-eclampsia Foundation
http://www.preeclampsia.org/health-information/sign-symptoms