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  • 22 Oct 2019 9:54 AM | Anonymous

    This birth story is by birthing Mama, Emily Parks and shared via The Balanced Mama Project.

    Back story

    I know the majority of babies don’t come on their due date so I always said Olly would be born on Sunday June 11 – the day after his due date. This was never something I felt intuitively; I just thought I could handle waiting one extra night for our baby to arrive! June 10 came and went, then June 11 and suddenly we were one week, then nearly two weeks overdue.

    I had a pretty carefree attitude throughout my pregnancy but that all changed once we were 40 weeks and counting. Every morning I woke up felt like groundhog day – still pregnant, still no baby. I was suddenly so bored at home and becoming more emotional and anxious with every passing day. What made the situation worse was that my midwife was planning a 7 week trip around Europe and would be flying out of the country on the 22nd. I always knew I’d have another midwife for our postnatal care but I hadn’t prepared myself to go through labour with anyone other than my midwife (who I had built a relationship with over the past 9 months). I became fixated on this ‘final’ deadline and started to feel like my body was failing me as we started discussing the possibility of an induction.

    I tried every natural method possible to encourage our baby to begin his journey earthside. My midwife attempted a stretch and sweep four times before she left for her holiday (seriously unpleasant!), as well as giving me a concoction of homeopathic remedies to drink, clary sage to rub on my stomach, and encouraged plenty of sex and vigorous walking daily – I seriously tried it all – and more.

    On Wednesday 21 June I cried as I agreed to an induction for that coming Saturday and we were told to arrive at the hospital on Saturday 24 June at 7 pm. Writing these details out now makes me realise I was being a bit dramatic about the whole thing but I had my heart set on a fuss-free home birth. And while I always said I’d do whatever was best for the baby, I never thought I’d actually have to follow through with that and accept some level of intervention. I’d given up hope that labour would start spontaneously but went ahead and booked in for my second and final round of acupuncture on the Friday afternoon. If anything, I figured it would give me something to do.


    Early on Saturday morning I woke up feeling uncomfortable and figured I was having some strong Braxton Hicks. I went downstairs to lie on the couch but soon became uncomfortable in a lying position. I decided to time the ‘Braxtons’ at 6.50am and realised they were coming every 10 min. My partner came downstairs at 8am and I told him I’d been timing the contractions and they were coming pretty regularly. We both didn’t think anything was actually happening as we had the induction booked for that evening. I booked a midday appointment to get my eyebrows done and my partner left for the office to tidy up a few loose ends. I called the backup midwife to let her know our situation and told her I was having contractions every 10 mins but I remember hanging up and thinking I was definitely having 2-3 within 10 mins. As long as I was standing or moving around, the contractions were manageable. It was only when I sat down that I struggled with them. Something about being seated made me feel like I was trapped by the pain.

    Just as I was about to head to my appointment, my partner came home and said that he realised it probably wasn’t a good idea for me to be driving while having contractions – at this point I still didn’t think I was actually in labour but appreciated his thoughtfulness! We went to Plant Barn and bought some indoor plants while timing contractions. The app was telling us to go to the hospital but I still wasn’t convinced. All I kept thinking was “surely it should be worse than this?”

    All I kept thinking was “surely it should be worse than this?”

    At 11.30 am my partner called to cancel my appointment as we were walking around Takapuna. I suddenly wasn’t able to keep walking through the contractions and we decided it was best to head home. In the car ride I felt like everything suddenly amped up and by the time we got home I was pretty sure this was the real thing.

    Sometime between 2-3 pm we called the midwife to let her know my progress and asked about filling the pool. I remember being so anxious about getting in too early and slowing everything down but feeling like I really needed to get in the water. My partner rushed around filling the pool and laying plastic across our carpet while I went through the motions. The contractions came in surges and were so powerful. I didn’t have any of the ‘period-like’ pain they talk about rather, it was all in my back. I didn’t want to get too caught up in what I was feeling but did worry that the baby wasn’t in the right position because I’d read that posterior babies cause painful back labour. It took a while to get the pool set up and I got frustrated at my partner a few times for it taking so long. It might have been a good idea to practice this but we’d both got to a point where we thought we wouldn’t end up using it.

    It’s all a bit of a blur now but throughout the afternoon, before getting in the pool around 5 pm, labour was intense. The contractions would build up and I felt like I was being gripped around my hips – it was a pain I felt deep in my bones. A few times I desperately called out to my partner to push on my lower back and kept saying “push harder” even after my legs were shaking and I was struggling to stay standing against him pushing. But honestly, I never thought that I couldn’t do it and I truly believe you need to go into labour without any preconceived ideas about how painful it will be. I understand not everyone is able, or wants, to have a home birth but there’s something to be said for creating an environment you’re comfortable to labour in.

    While I was pregnant I read an article that explains how only a small percentage of labour is actually painful; the majority of labour is not painful at all yet the pain is all we talk about. This was such a revelation to me and I kept this in mind throughout the afternoon. Instead of dwelling on the pain and becoming fearful of the next contraction, I tried to focus on the rest I was experiencing between contractions – in those moments there is no pain!

    Around 5 pm I got in the pool and had about three very strong contractions which seemed slightly further apart than before. I was worried I’d got in the pool too soon but then almost immediately started experiencing contractions that had me involuntarily bearing down and desperately breathing through them. From my midwives notes, apparently we didn’t call her until 7 pm to ask her to come to the house. I had no sense of time throughout my labour and never checked my phone or looked at the clock so it makes sense that we took our time calling the midwife. I also think we both naively thought the baby wasn’t really coming so soon – he was two weeks late after all, surely he’d be a long time coming?!

    At 8 pm the midwife arrived and within 20 mins she’d called the backup midwife to ask her to come to the house. When I heard her say this on the phone I thought “maybe it’s nearly over?” because I knew the second midwife only comes for the actual birth, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up and went back to preparing myself for hours of labour.

    I was made to get out of the pool at 9 pm to attempt to pass urine (which didn’t happen on its own) and ended up labouring on the toilet for an hour. I could hear my partner and the second midwife chatting and both rushing around trying to keep the pool at the right temperature. However, once I got out of the pool I had no desire to get back in so their efforts were wasted. Just before 10 pm my midwife performed my first vaginal exam and was able to break the waters and push an anterior lip away. Apparently, this was what was preventing the labour to progress. At 10 pm I was in the lounge on my hands and knees and stayed this way until just before Olly was born, when I got into a squatting position to birth him. I didn’t actively decide to change positions but just remember suddenly feeling like I needed to get off my knees and onto my toes into a squat. It’s amazing how natural the labour and birth process is; no matter how much you know or don’t know about the whole thing, your body will do what it needs to do.*

    I feel incredibly lucky to have ended up with the birth I hoped for. I can’t believe how smoothly and ‘enjoyable’ the experience was. After giving birth, I was on a high for the first couple of days…until the dreaded night #2 hit and sleep deprivation killed my buzz! I felt so empowered at what I’d achieved and so amazed at this little person who emerged unscathed and thriving.

    * I was half a day away from needing an induction so I know that many births do not go to plan and sometimes our body’s do not do what they need to do. We are incredibly fortunate to live in a world with access to modern medicine and I appreciate the many ways in which we are able to give birth.

  • 22 Oct 2019 9:49 AM | Anonymous

    Mama Jessica shares her experience on how to prepare yourselves for the birth you vision. Jessica attended our online antenatal classes to help her achieve her best birth. Shared with permission of Jessica Mendes via Guided Space.

    Before and during my pregnancy I really enjoyed reading and hearing about other women’s birth stories for inspiration and advice so I thought I’d share my birth story in hopes of inspiring anyone else. Though everyone’s birth story and experience is completely different from the other, there’s always something new you can learn that can help you in your experience.

    Birth Plan
    From day one, I wanted a natural vaginal labor, medicinal free, and a holistic experience. I don’t necessarily mean a water birth or with a doula. Although I did have that in mind, I couldn’t resist the care of being in a hospital in case something went wrong in my situation because of some stories I’d heard. I just wanted to have a more soothing, holistic experience with music and calming birth affirmations as much as I could while in a hospital setting. I took an online holistic antenatal class via Empowered Parenthood and it really helped me feel more relaxed and knowledged on birthing and breastfeeding. I learned that I could give birth in different positions as opposed to the typical lie on your back position and learned many techniques on labor to help prepare my mindset for anything that could happen. I also researched A LOT about breastfeeding which was very crucial for me and even wrote a blog post on my breastfeeding experience so far after the first month to help future mamas. One year later and I’m still breastfeeding. :)

    From week 28 or so, Camila was already in the anterior position which is the "ideal" position for giving birth vaginally. It’s where the baby’s head is down in the cervix canal and facing your back. I was very excited but also nervous that she could turn around again, but luckily she didn’t!

    The Unexpected

    One thing I hadn’t heard about and was not prepared for was the pain of cervical checks for dilation. I went to the hospital on July 3rd thinking I was going into labor because my contractions were pretty bad. When the doctor checked my cervix for dilation which I thought was just a normal, simple painless procedure, I literally screamed so much from excruciating pain that my husband heard me down the hall in the waiting room. I instantly had tears coming down my face and asked the doctor wtf she was doing to me. Not kidding. She looked at me like I needed to calm down as if it was no big deal and asked why I was screaming. Calm down?! It felt like she was stabbing the hell out of me with a knife! I thought if I can’t handle a cervical check, how am I going to handle labor?! It turns out some women experience more pain during this process than others due to sensitivity but I can assure you it’s not the same pain as labor at all. Not every woman feels this way during cervical checks, but I’m one of the women who do apparently. The doctor said I wasn’t ready at all yet and told me to come back on July 13th unless my contractions were 5 minutes apart for about one minute each for an hour or 10 minutes apart for 2 hours. I was so bummed because I didn’t want to wait that long. My dad came to visit us on July 2nd and was only here for two weeks. I wanted him to meet his first grand baby and get to spend some time with her.

    Looking back at the pain I had leading up to the day of delivery, I’m pretty sure I had prodromal labor because I was having regular contractions for a few hours here and there for a few days and it was getting so exhausting dealing with the pain and the never ending waiting game for this baby to show. Because the contractions weren’t 5 minutes apart or less and not staying for more than 2 hours at a time I had to wait to go to the hospital until they were more consistent and deal with daily pain until I knew it was time.

    The big question people want to know is “How do you know when it’s time to go to the hospital and when it’s a false alarm?” My answer: Time your contractions religiously! I used one of my many pregnancy apps (Either Flo or Ovia) to track my contractions, and when they were between 5-10 minutes apart for two hours, getting stronger, and closer together I knew it was time.

    It’s Time!
    The next morning at 9:30am, I started having regular contractions. It was my birthday, July 4th, yes the big 4th of July, and I’m thinking “Omg yay! I could have a birthday baby!” but then I’d think “Omg are we seriously going to share birthdays? What if we hate that?” But in reality, I wanted her to be born on my birthday. I waited two hours and was still having regular contractions and also ended up bleeding a little when I went to the restroom so that was my final cue to go. We left around 12pm and I was pretty calm and collected. My husband and I grabbed our bags and left. My water hadn’t broken yet so I didn’t feel panicky because I knew this could take a while.

    When we arrived at the hospital, the nurses monitored my contractions and they were regular but still no dilation at all. It was so annoying because they hurt like hell but we had to wait until I dilated… And yes I had to get those dreadful cervical checks every so often for dilation, but I told them to be gentle every time and they got better at it each time.

    I waited in the waiting room with my husband but I was getting antsy with the pain just waiting around doing nothing so we grabbed a meal in the cafeteria all while I was trying to breathe through my contractions and fighting through the tears. We went back to the maternity dept at around 6pm and I told them I couldn’t handle the pain of contractions anymore. They told me to take a shower to relax. Didn’t work. Then they checked me again and I was about 2-3 cm dilated. Because I was dilating very slowly, they gave me an injection for the pain of the contractions to see if they were real birth contractions or not because I wasn't dilating and to see if it would help relax me and make me dilate. It barely worked. 

    I continued having regular contractions and finally dilated just a little so they put me in the labor room. I was so relieved about this because I was beyond ready to have this baby. Two midwife nurses came in and started prepping me and the room for labor. They asked if I was going to get the epidural. I was shaking not knowing what I wanted because I was in pain but felt maybe it was bearable so I could go all natural. They kept convincing me that it’s not worth being in pain when I can just enjoy it. They also said I could have the weak epidural to where I could walk around so my legs wouldn’t be numb. That to me seemed reasonable but I was so indecisive I wanted my husband in the room with me to help me decide but for some reason they wouldn’t allow him in there yet. Then around 8pm was when the anaesthesiologist came to see if I wanted the epidural and administer it. This is now 11 hours after the contractions first started that morning.

    The Epidural
    I have to say out of all the doctors and nurses I faced the days I stayed at the hospital, the anaesthesiologist was the absolute WORST. Before you get scared about the actual epidural itself, that was not the issue at all. The doctor came in and asked if I wanted the epidural and told me about the risks. I was very hesitant and indecisive because I wanted the all natural birthing experience and was scared about getting paralyzed or having permanent back problems down the road. I know the doctors are experienced but he said it himself, it happens. I thought I could maybe handle the labor pain, but when he told me the pain only gets worse the more I dilate and the fact that I had only dilated 3 cm and was in enough pain as it was, I told myself it’s not worth making my birth experience a crappy one when I can be more relaxed. I then requested the epidural that lets me walk around and move. This is where it gets bad. Because I was shaking from the pain and nerves I could not fully control my body and the doctor got so angry with me while trying to inject the epidural. He kept yelling, not telling, YELLING at me to lower my head so he could find the perfect spot on my spine to inject. This was not making it any easier for me to calm my nerves, so I asked if I could play some music to help me relax because I literally couldn’t and tried so hard, and he sternly told me no because he doesn’t like music. It was terrible. Luckily I had a nurse there in front of me to hold my hand and remind me to breathe through it all. I don’t remember feeling any pain while he injected the epidural. I just remember feeling something a little chilly but that was it and then I just kept getting worried I would accidentally pull on it if I laid wrong on it but all was fine. 

    Moving on, the midwife came and broke my water and gave me another injection at midnight to help me dilate. I believe it was oxytocin / Pitocin because it worked wonders. I slept till 2am and at 2:30 the midwife came in and told me I was fully dilated.

    I was a bit sad when I realized it was no longer the 4th of July in Portugal which meant she wouldn’t be born on my birthday but I knew she would still be the best birthday gift ever and technically in the US, it was still the 4th of July and she would be born around the time fireworks were going off.

    The Pushing

    It was around 2:45am and the midwife asked me to push whenever I was ready but I couldn't feel my legs so it was hard to push. I asked her to decrease the epidural and I began pushing as soon as I could feel my legs more. 

    I began pushing around 3am and asked the midwife if I could get in the squatting position and have music playing in the background and she said yes. I was so relieved because it was exactly how I wanted my delivery to be. I had Joe start my delivery playlist on Spotify and the first song that played was “My Girl” from The Temptations, which to me was perfect because I couldn’t wait to meet my little girl. I said “ok let’s do this!” It felt like background music to a movie. I was really happy and in the moment and so grateful that I had the best midwife ever. She told me she could see my baby’s head and that it was covered in hair. I asked if I could touch it and she let me! It was such an incredible feeling to be able to experience that and just be so comfortable pushing while squatting and not feeling any pain at all but still feeling in control. I remember feeling at peace for a bit and asking Archangel Michael and Rafael to surround me with their love and protection and guide me in this experience and make me feel their warmth. I truly felt something special. The power of breathing and mindfulness works like a champ when you remember to use it. 

    However, I lost focus and my legs were eventually giving up on me after pushing in the squatting position for about 15-20 minutes so I thought I could lay back for a bit to rest and go back to squatting position after, but I put my legs up on the leg rests and began pushing again. I honestly feel like I shouldn’t have done that, because after I laid down was when it really started to hurt. I feel that if I continued squatting, gravity would naturally do its thing and make the delivery go a lot smoother.

    I think either because I had requested to ease off the epidural or because I laid down on my back, I started to feel every contraction again but this time 1,000 times worse just like the anaesthesiologist said, and I had to push with each contraction but that was what hurt the most. The insides of my belly felt like they were being ripped apart. I’ve asked other women about this feeling and so far no one has said they felt that except one girl that shared the post delivery room with me and I think my cousin. Most women talk about the ring of fire which I thought was in the vaginal area, but I felt a ring of fire inside the womb. Maybe it’s the same thing? Anyway, I almost gave up in that moment. I honestly felt like I was going to die because of the excruciating pain. It was so bad that I was crying hysterically saying I couldn’t anymore, which made Joe cry. I looked at him and his face was in tears, voice cracking telling me I could do this and repeating birth affirmations even though he hated seeing me in so much pain. When I saw I was making him cry I remember thinking, “no, I’m not making my husband cry” so I tried harder because I didn’t want to give up on him. I pushed for about 2-5 minutes of that excruciating pain but it felt like it was never ending. 
    I have to admit it’s a bitch when you can’t feel like you can push anymore. You’re pushing so hard and in so much pain and feeling like nothing is progressing. The midwife asked if she could give me a small episiotomy because her head would not come through at all. I said yes right away and I didn’t feel a thing. Didn’t feel her cut me nor the stitches afterwards. All I felt was slight pressure. It’s amazing how as soon as her head came out I could feel the difference in having to push and then her body just easily slid right out. The moment I felt her come out was a relief and I instantly reached my arms out for her and basically thought “just give me my baby.” 

    Meeting Camila for the First Time

    Camila was born in Faro, Portugal on July 5, 2018 at 3:43am weighing at 2.810 kilos / 6.2 lbs. She was so tiny to me and I really thought she’d be bigger but she was perfect and healthy. I didn’t cry right away like most moms do. I thought I would because I’m one of the most emotional, sentimental people I know. Instead, I was very serious and taking it all in, making sure she was okay and admiring how she looked. Everything else around me was a blur. She was the only thing I was focused on, but the moment I realized what song was playing on in the background, that’s when I cried, because let’s face it, hearing the words “Home is wherever I’m with you” while seeing my baby for the first time was the perfect way for me to start my life with her. She was so alert, staring right at me. I know she can’t actually see me, but she knew I was her mom because she calmed with me as soon as the nurse took her to weigh her and gave her back to me. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever laid eyes on, hair all over her head and her tiny little arms and back. I was in shock because I had never seen that before but she was my gorgeous beam of light. People always told me love for a child is unconditional and unlike any other kind of love. I never knew a love so strong could exist but it does and it did the moment I met her. I love her more and more each day. Would I do it all over again? In a heartbeat. <3

    I hope you enjoyed my story. Please feel free to share your comments below or ask me any questions on anything you’d like to know more about. Maybe you related to it or maybe it gave you insight on what to prepare for on your delivery or gave you inspiration somehow. I’d love to know your thoughts. :)

    If you'd like to see a video of some moments of the delivery, feel free to check out the video below.

  • 22 Oct 2019 9:44 AM | Anonymous

    This birth story is written by birthing Mama, Aarti Mehta.

    She birthed at the amazing #Sanctum which is a natural birthing centre in Hyderabad, India who's mission it is to 'to effect change in bringing Healthy and Safe Natural Birth practices in India, One Mother-at-a-Time'.

    The Mother's journey

    From Pain To Power

    From feeling powerless to taking charge -

    First Birth: C-Section in April 2017 at 40wks+5 at a leading private maternity hospital in Bangalore.

    Second Birth: VBAC in August 2019 at 42wks+1 at The Sanctum

    Aarti's Version

    We got to know about The Sanctum in the Lamaze classes we took during first pregnancy. Brushed off the idea to travel to Hyderabad instantly at that time. Why?

    I guess we were overconfident that with knowledge from books, support groups and Lamaze classes we will be able to navigate the very commercial medicalized birth system that exists currently.

    That pregnancy was eventful with a fractured foot, GDM, SPD pain and an IUGR scare. We changed 2 doctors and finally found someone who was willing to wait at least till 40 weeks with GDM.

    (It's quite common in our medical system for women with GDM to be induced at 38 weeks)

    At 40wks+3 (2 days before my scheduled induction date). I consulted Dr Vijaya over the phone for some advise on how to manage the induction in the best possible way. By then I was pretty convinced that an induction at a hospital is unlikely to lead to a normal delivery.

    At the end of the call she asked, if my husband would be willing to drive me to Hyderabad next morning and I was sure that he won't. With a heavy heart I ended the call and accepted my fate.

    After delivery I consoled myself

    -that I carried my baby till 40wk+5

    -that I did not need to take insulin even though doctors did not believe in my resolve to manage it by diet and exercise

    -that I escaped being forced into taking steroid injection at 32 weeks

    Postpartum Recovery was difficult. I used to wake up every day feeling as if I were run over by bus at night. After visiting a few doctors I concluded that I need to re-build my strength from scratch and so I got started after my daughter turned 8months.

    After about 6months of diet, exercise and focusing on myself I felt better. And at that time I got on Skype with Dr Vijaya for a preconception counselling.

    Second Pregnancy

    I was determined not to get GDM again, hence maintained a good diet and exercise regimen.

    I shared the news of my second pregnancy with Dr Vijaya when I was 20weeks and we met her in Hyderabad at 28weeks.

    Other than Pelvic Girdle Pain / SPD from 8th week onwards, I did not have any other issues through out the pregnancy.

    We set our base in Hyderabad from 36 weeks onwards. Prenatal Yoga, Prenatal Aerobics Weekly appointments, keeping our toddler engaged and some sightseeing occupied our days and weeks that we were there.

    Each Prenatal Aerobics used to give such an endorphins boost! I felt sweaty but energized after each class.

    Early Morning Prenatal Yoga was calming and meditative.

    As weeks passed, the messages/calls started flowing in about "what is the news" !

    Crystal's wisdom kept me in my tracks and not take any stress of social pressure.

    I had increased my physical activity as weeks passed by. There were days when I would do yoga in the morning, aerobics in the day and a 45min walk in the evening. No signs of labor but I felt great about my body's ability!

    At 41wks+3, a scan was advised. Everything looked good and we accepted Natural Induction as the next step. Three days of Natural Induction with a very very slow progress, we then accepted Medical Induction at 42 weeks.

    We had blind faith at The Sanctum team. That is the reason we travelled from Bangalore. So that we have a care provider we can trust.

    And that is what we did! Just went with the flow.

    The progress was still slow through the day and just when my confidence started to break by evening, Dr Vijaya's tiger mom attitude and words took me out of that slump.

    I continued laboring through the night with support of Erin (our Doula), Kiran, Nurses and my husband. Managed the contractions by staying well hydrated, changing positions, deep breathing and back massage.

    By morning I was exhausted, weak, nauseated and hopeless to continue. My husband tried but could not get me out of that zone. And that is the EXACT time when Dr Vijaya's Prowess was seen to be believed! She gave me a mocktail of tough love and motivation to go on. Above all, she showed blind faith in my ability just like I had in hers. The next few hours were the final test of my determination for VBAC.

    We went through many manouvers over the next two hours with everyone supporting me through each and every contraction.

    One final Internal exam at about 11am with a big grin and high five from Dr Vijaya - "Aarti we are at 8 cm!"

    But I was again out worn out and doubting myself. I'm moved to the toilet seat to get a hot shower before the final leg of the labor marathon. The shower doesn't happen but what takes place is beyond my comprehension. With each contraction I feel an unimaginable pressure and strong urge to push through my butt. The pain intensity is highest at that point. And I instinctively squat several times at each contraction. I hang on to my husband, looked into Dr Vijaya's eyes and Erin continued to massage my back. I felt disconnected from everyone, could not hear anyone and just squatted and grunted for a while which seemed like eternity to me!

    Then I hear the words "birth stool" and I felt shocked am I really that close to the Grand finale!

    I had thought of pushing to be the most difficult but within a few pushes on the birth stool, after 24 hours of laboring, our 3.5kg healthy baby boy arrived!

    The experience has left me empowered to feel that I can do anything! And who did that magic to empower me? Dr Vijaya and The Sanctum team!

    A woman needs a birth team, mine comprised of my husband, midwives, a doula in the foreground and our Nanny and my Mother in law in the background who took care of our toddler.

    The father's journey of VBAC

    From being husband to being Birth Partner

    Vikram's Version

    Leap of faith:

    We had our first baby through c-section because of our modern medical system's heist (let's leave it at that for now) and for our second pregnancy we were determined to try our best for a natural birth. We packed our suitcases and with our 2 year old toddler moved to an airbnb in Hyderabad (a completely alien city for us) during 36th week of pregnancy. It was very rough on all of us to get uprooted and that pressure cooker of questions from everyone made it even more difficult. But we told ourselves over and over again: we are here to give ourselves the best shot by being with The Sanctum.

    Marathon :

    From 36th week onwards there were series of sessions of aerobics, yoga, lamaze etc. Every week's consultation session with Crystal or Dr. Vijaya was a fresh start of the week with great vibes in sharp contrast to last pregnancy's doctor visits where we were scared and poked everytime with tests, scans and were told how sensitive things were and how careful we should be. Aarti was doing jumping jacks now at 40weeks!

    At 41wk 3days our go to plan was to start with natural induction but even after 8 hours per day of hard work for 3 days, we reached end of our 42nd week without rhythmic contractions. They were coming and going. At 42.1 weeks, pitocin drip was started and then started the last mile run. After 14 hrs of hard labor, dilation was still only 4cm. Baby's head position was not optimum. She was in haze and was finished physically. Almost raised the white flag when she got to know about the progress.

    Second wind :

    At Sanctum, they don't give up on you even when you do. She was suggested to try out different positions during contractions. With no energy to even standup she cried in my arms and said that she is about to faint and can't go further. But with the belief that second wind is around the corner, she took the first step and eventually finished the full circuit of positions in close monitoring of everyone and that too while going through sharp waves of contractions. Second wind came from her belief in everyone around her and the stamina she gathered from all those trainings sessions.

    Third Wave :

    By the end of this circuit of positions white flag was out. In energyless whisper in my ear she said "I am done. Second wind is gone. Can't continue". And I agreed. The third wind was Dr Vijaya. She sat next to an exhausted Aarti and asked her to look into her eyes. She caught hold of her soul and with her words made Aarti stand up again. She told her that next part is going to be the toughest and will make sure that she will see her on other side. This followed by squats and positions with Dr Vijaya working with Aarti with Rebozo, her eyes and words. I was in tears to see Aarti go through this part but it was a mystical dance of a possessed body of mother in labor, and her midwife. The last maneuver that Dr Vijaya made Aarti do was a rare masterpiece according to other midwife and doula in the room. It was a woman in labor in almost a backward tilt position during contractions. After all this, Aarti and I were 100% done without a doubt. And then Dr Vijaya told that baby is in great position now and we should get ready for final stage and actually the hardest in the book : the pushing.

    Victory lap :

    Though it's the hardest stage in the textbook labor but I knew by now that with the support we have in the room it will be the easiest. Aarti was taken to the shower and room was getting ready for the last stage. Again while pushing on the toilet seat Aarti's eyes were just in Dr Vijaya's eyes again and soon only last few pushes were required. We had a beautiful birth on birthing stool in front of mirror with my wife in my arms and baby coming out. We just laughed and cried for a few minutes and soaked in the moment.

    Special thanks to :

    Dr Vijaya : When she is around you can feel her control and you jump when she says jump :) . You want her to tell you what to do.

    Crystal : She can make decisions for you and you will know that decision is right because during her consultations she will ask all the right questions and will get to know mother well physically and mentally

    Kiran : She is the horse power of the center. Usually the first responder during day or night and can be always seen with one mother or another. I don't think she sleeps :)

    Erin: Our doula who is from US and moved from Cambodia for a while to intern with The Sanctum. She was like Aarti's 4am friend who is a great listener and is always there for you. If The Sanctum is run by midwife, she was the mid-husband during our birth :) as Aarti's second full time partner during whole labor.

  • 22 Oct 2019 9:39 AM | Anonymous

    Written by Renee Scott, Mama to her beautiful triplets.

    I hope this will be an encouragement to someone! (I’ll try to keep it short!)
    When I gave birth to my triplets, I was told that I wouldn’t be able to exclusively feed them my breastmilk (by so many professionals). Rather than encourage me to frequently express (my babies were in the NICU & SCN for their first 3 weeks of life), I was encouraged to get as much sleep as I could because ‘I wouldn’t be able to soon’.

    My oldest daughter was only 16 months old at the time, and I had just finished breastfeeding her 4 months earlier, so I knew that if I didn’t express/remove milk regularly, it would’ve been harder for me to build up my supply. I was in hospital for the first week after giving birth and every 3 hours, day and night, I walked over to the feeding room (I actually have no idea what this room was called! Just that there were pumps in there ) and expressed. I continued to express very regularly once I came home, and haven’t stopped since!

    It has taken a lot of time and hard work, but I am so proud to be able to continue to give my babies breastmilk. Even when so many people told me I wouldn’t be able to maintain my supply.
    This is a photo of my babes when they were 6 months old, with my stash of frozen bm.

    They are now 8 and 1/2 months old and my stash looks nothing like that now because they drink a lot of milk! (We’ve used up about 3/4 of the stash).

    But they are still growing from my breastmilk, and absolutely loving it too.

  • 22 Oct 2019 9:38 AM | Anonymous

    By Dulce Piacentini, Holistic Sleep Consultant and Postpartum Doula at Motherly Hug

    In the beginning of May, just 2 days after Meghan Markle gave birth to a baby boy, she was asked during interviews if her baby was sleeping well and if he was a good baby. I cringed when I heard that, as every baby is a good baby, and “sleeping well as a newborn” is a concept that definitely needs an update! You don’t need to be royal to be asked if your newborn baby is sleeping through the night. This is a question that comes up in everyday conversations, even among mums! And where the idea of “a good baby is one who sleeps well” comes from, when most babies don’t sleep through the night in the first few months, many not in the first year, is something I really wonder. Why does our society have this expectation of a baby so young sleeping through the night when even science has proven it’s not natural for a newborn to do it?

    Sleep has been more and more researched in the last couple of decades, and science tells us that a newborn sleep is polyphasic (they sleep multiple times in a 24-hour period), they spend 50% of their sleep in REM, that is light sleep, and nature has made them this way as a surviving tool. It’s important for a newborn to wake up several times overnight, since that decreases the risk of SUDI (sudden unexplained death in infancy), allows them to be fed regularly – we know their stomach is really small and breastmilk digests really fast – and allows babies to wake up and cry with any discomfort. Clearly all very important to make humankind thrive!

    But science hasn’t stopped there. In December last year, Pediatrics published a study by Canadian doctors who worked with 388 babies when they were 6 and then 12 months old to know if they were sleeping through the night. Bear in mind researchers considered a night when they slept blocks of 6 or 8 hours uninterruptedly. So, before I tell you their conclusions, even if 100% of the babies were sleeping 8 hours straight, in many cases this would still mean a broken night for parents, as babies usually have a night 11-12 hours long.

    The results? At 6 months, 38% of the babies didn’t sleep six hours without waking and 57% didn’t sleep eight hours at once. At 12 months, 28% didn’t sleep six hours straight, and 43% didn’t sleep eight hours. We have even more exciting news out of their research: there was no difference in the mental development of the babies if they slept or not through the night.

    Science has also shown us that melatonin, the famous sleep hormone that relax body and mind and therefore paves the road to sleep, starts being produced by baby’s brain around 3 months, and baby’s body clock – a group of cells in our brain that produce our circadian rhythms, which controls our daily activities – won’t be fully developed until that same age.

    So there you go: super normal for young babies to not know the difference between day and night. Are there things you can do to support their brain development regarding that? Yes, there are. But again, whatever we do it won’t make newborn babies sleep through the night.

    Some of you might be thinking: “But I have a friend whose baby started sleeping 8 hours in a row when he was 4 weeks”. Indeed, there are babies that, for several other reasons (but not because they’re “good babies”!) that don’t fit in this post, will sleep through in the early weeks. I had a baby like that myself – when my daughter was 8 weeks old, she was sleeping 9 hours straight. That didn’t mean though I was sleeping 9 hours straight too. After two episodes of mastitis (because milk production is higher during the night and as baby was sleeping – and not having a feed – my breasts got so full that I ended up having mastitis), I had to wake up in the middle of the night anyway to pump. Also, the fact that I wasn’t breastfeeding during the night when the levels of prolactin, an essential hormone for milk production, are at their highest, ended up affecting my milk supply and I wasn’t able to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months, as I wanted to. So, is it always an advantage to have your baby sleeping through from the early days? Not necessarily.

    Of course, if a baby has been waking every hour during the night for weeks in a row, this will affect their parents, who will probably go really sleep deprived, and that situation can start affecting baby as well. Again, science has already given us tools to help improve the situation in sleep-deprived families. But we should never expect a newborn baby to sleep through the night.

    So, it’s about time we stop asking Mamas of young babies if they’re sleeping through the night. On the contrary, we should accept it’s their nature NOT to sleep through and ditch any expectations we put on new and experienced Mamas regarding baby sleep. What we can do instead is offer Mamas help, is to support them in their daily tasks so that mothers can have more opportunities for a rest and really make use of them.

    Supporting a mum in having more time to bond with her baby, in going through the emotional rollercoaster that is typical of postpartum feeling supported, in giving her the time and space she needs to find out who she is as a mum, among other challenges that come with the arrival of a baby, is essential to promote a healthy sleep for families with a newborn. And now we know that a healthy sleep doesn’t mean sleeping through the night.

    Newborn sleep definition = Updated!

    If you are in Wellington, for several tips on how to deal with sleep challenges when you have a newborn and how to promote a healthy sleep for the whole family in those first few months, come to our talk on “The Science of Newborn Sleep – holistic tools and understanding” with the Holistic Sleep Consultant Dulce Piacentini, from Motherly Hug, and Kate Anderson, Lactation Consultant on the 3rd of September 2019. You can find the event here.

  • 22 Oct 2019 9:25 AM | Anonymous

    By Claire Cardno, Co-Founder or Empowered Parenthood and Doula.

    Motherhood is a spiritual rite of passage, that in our society is commonly overlooked. You’ve read about the sleep deprivation that is so intense it’s incomprehensible. You’ve read about postnatal depression and the importance of self-care. You’ve read about all the sleep regressions and you are pretty much sure of the ‘parenting style’ you align with. But have you considered the spiritual transformation that occurs in motherhood? Have you considered the evolutionary leap your soul makes from going from maiden to mother?

    Maiden to mother > a sacred rite of passage. A death of one and rebirth of another. In many cultures around the world, the labor and birth women process is the sacred transformation. The woman's body is being stretched and pulled apart to bring forth life - a process that is not guaranteed. Both the child and the mother are at risk of losing their lives. It is often said a woman will go into an altered state of consciousness when having an unmedicated birth, she will visit the stars and bring back the soul of her baby.

    Whether or not you have that experience through birth, one thing is for sure. When you birth your baby, you are rebirthed yourself, into this new role. One massive shift that has taken place, is the shift of your focus. From a maiden with an inward, self-focus, to a mother with an outward, child-orientated focus. Even women who do not hold their babies in their arms, the shift of focus has already occurred from the moment of conception. Conception can occur in the mind, long before in the body. Women who struggle with infertility can still feel this shift.

    Put a group of mothers in a room together, and they will not be able to help but resort back to talking about their children. The very cells of their being have shifted. So if this is a process so profound, why is this not talked about in pregnancy? Why are we not prepared for or initiated into this sacred life transition?

    Well some cultures do, so I’ve put together some ideas below that can help your spiritual transition into motherhood - whether you’re pregnant, a new mother, or been a mother for some time.

    The Expecting Mama

    Self-care - this is easier to implement if you are pregnant for the first time, and a bit harder if you have children to care for already, but taking these weeks of pregnancy as a chance to slow down from the fast-paced culture we live in. Tuning in to your body through meditation, yoga, massage, long baths. Even learning to eat intuitively and satisfy your cravings to meet your body's needs, this is all part of self-care. Honoring your changing shape and taking the time in pregnancy to acknowledge every change your body goes through start priming your mind for the shift that is unfolding.

    Blessing-way, Mother’s blessing, baby shower alternative - a Navajo tradition is intended to prepare women to transition into motherhood. Surrounded by a group of women, you can expect to create a birthing necklace with a special bead bought by each guest and blessed, make birth art, be pampered, decorate your belly with Henna or do a belly cast, and share a nutritious meal together. This is a sacred ritual to fill the expecting Mama’s emotional and spiritual cup before her big life transition. This is a time women who are already mothers can share their birthing or motherhood experiences (empowering and supportive, not fear-based) to welcome the expecting mother into her new role.

    The New Mama

    Honour the first forty day tradition - Many cultures honour the first forty days postpartum. You can modernise this tradition by implementing what best aligns with your needs and values to support you during the postpartum phase. I personally followed the 5/5/5 method: 5 days in the bed, 5 days on the bed, 5 days near the bed. This allows you recovering time in the first 5 days to deeply rest and recover from your birth. Followed by time of slow days sitting on the bed with your new baby and napping, and then the final 5 days “near” the bed just means staying close to home and not committing yet to outings or appointments if it doesn’t feel good to you. Some women feel they are ready to get up and out of the house. Make sure you are listening to your body and doing things from a place of what works for you and not out of obligation. Remember that the fourth trimester is an important time for your baby to integrate into out of womb life, it is new and scary, so your baby will want to stay close to you at all times. Lots of skin to skin and avoiding any stress where possible.

    Processing your birth - an unfortunate reality it, in today’s day, it is less common to have the transformational birth experience of our ancestors. We are so lucky to have modern medicine, and I know many women, myself included, that owe the survival of our babies to modern medicine, but we can also objectively look at the statistics and see that birth interventions are increasingly common and most, not all, but most hospital births will be with some kind of medical intervention. Some women are left feeling less than satisfied, even traumatised, by their birth experience. Whether or not you are happy with your birth experience, an important ritual is processing your birth. Writing down your birth story and your feelings surrounding it can help with the processing, as can talking with supportive people who can hold space for you to feel how you are feeling. If you are feeling particularly raw from the experience, a postpartum doula is a fantastic tool to have to get the emotional support you may need. Birth experiences can sometimes take a while to recover from, emotionally and physically. Be gentle with yourself and allow yourself the time to possibly grieve the loss of the birth you wanted, or just integrate the life-changing experience you just had.

    Mourning the loss of your past life - A realisation will come that you are no longer the same women. Your perception and experience of yourself will be different. Your body will be different. Your hopes, dreams and desires will be different. It is important to allow yourself time to grieve the loss of the person you were, in order to welcome in this new chapter in your life. Your career goals may change - whether that is wanting a career, not wanting to return to work just immerse completely in this new role, or changing careers down the track. Only you can choose what is right for you, so tune out the influence of society and what you think you should be doing, and allow your new self to feel into what is right for you now.

    A perception that can be common is the expectation that you will immediately feel different, like a mother or have the instantaneous love for your baby the second you give birth. This is not the case for all women, and motherhood is a continually unfolding journey which you travel for the rest of your life. Your heart will grow, your transition will unfold - motherhood is a flower, that needs to unfold in its own due course. Allow yourself time and space to feel and process, without judgement, the experience you are having.

    The Tired Mama

    Journalling - if you did not get to experience the integration and initiation into motherhood in a spiritual and ritualistic way, you may find that several years down the track you are still feeling lost and a sense of something missing from this new life path. Many mothers will experience some sort of ‘identity crisis’. Everything has changed, and without an emphasis in our culture of the sacredness of this transition we can be left feeling hollow. Journalling your emotions, thoughts, dreams and desires can help you to connect with your higher self and seek guidance from your inner wisdom. Asking questions and writing about the complicated emotions that motherhood can stir, can bring you clarity and some grounding into your life path.

    Connect with a tribe - having mum friends is great, and vital for solidarity in this new experience, but you want to connect with women who you can be vulnerable with. Not everyone who has a child will fit the bill of being your tribe. Exposing your human emotions and talking about the transitions you have all experienced can really help bring some clarity and compassion to your new path. Openly discussing the spiritual transformation and how you are truly feeling can be so healing.

    You are walking a road that has been walked by women from the beginning of time. Open up to that power and access your inner wisdom and strength, and know that you can and you will. Take the time to find balance for yourself, and ask for help. Be brave, be true and you will, with an open heart, guide the next generation to walk this Earth at a higher vibration.

  • 22 Oct 2019 9:22 AM | Anonymous

    By Michelle Deerheart, Co-Founder of Empowered Parenthood and Consultant Midwife.

    When you think about cloth nappies do you have visions of big white squares soaking in buckets and needing expert origami skills to fold and get them on a baby? While this traditional style of cloth nappy is still available and loved by many parents, the cloth nappy world has moved on a lot as well. Modern cloth nappies are made from a variety of materials to give us nappies that are very much like their single use counterparts – easy to use, reliable and best of all, easy to wash and care for. Read on to find out more about getting started with cloth nappies.

    Why use cloth nappies?

    • Money savings

    Depending on what type of nappies you use, you can save at least $2000 over single-use nappies. And obviously, the money savings increase if you use the nappies on subsequent children.

    • Kinder on the environment

    The plastic in disposable nappies takes approximately 500 years to break down – which means that every disposable nappy ever used is still somewhere in or on our earth! And given that a baby can go through around 6000 nappies during their early years, using cloth nappies over that time can prevent around a tonne of waste heading to the landfill.

    • Better for baby
      When using cloth nappies, your baby’s delicate skin isn’t sitting in plastic and chemicals day and night, which is a good thing especially around such a sensitive area of the body!

    • And the benefits you never hear about!
      The great advantage to using good quality and really great fitting cloth nappies is that they’re much better at containing those dreaded poo explosions than disposables. If a cloth nappy is fitting your baby really well, you’ll rarely have to deal with those situations where your baby is covered head to toe in poo! They also contain any smells really well.

    How many cloth nappies do I need?

    Just how many cloth nappies you’ll need depends on a few factors – the age of your baby, whether you plan to use them part time or full time, how often you’ll wash and also the climate where you live (as this will determine drying times).

    Generally, for full-time use and washing every second day you’ll need:

    • Newborns - 24-30 cloth nappies (newborns go through a LOT of nappies each day over those first few months!)

    • Young infants (around 4 months old) - 18-20 cloth nappies

    • Older infants (around 8 months old) - 14-16 cloth nappies

    • Young toddler (around 12 months old) - 12-14 cloth nappies

    • Older toddler (from 18 months and older) - 10-12 cloth nappies

    What else do I need?

    There are lots of cloth nappy accessories out there, some are nice to have, but there are a couple of essentials that you’ll need if you want to use cloth nappies:

    • Something to put the dirty nappies in until wash day – a bucket or wetbag, for example

    • Laundry detergent to wash the nappies in

    Some other extras that can be useful throughout your cloth nappy journey include:

    • Nappy liners – there are both reusable and disposable options available. These can help make clean up a bit easier and less messy!

    • Cloth wipes – when using cloth nappies, it makes sense to use cloth wipes as well as everything can go straight into the nappy bucket to be washed after nappy changes. Cloth wipes can be more efficient at cleaning up than disposable wipes and you’re also preventing any unnecessary chemicals coming into contact with your baby’s delicate skin.

    • Wetbags – these are washable, waterproof zip up bags that are handy for taking out and about. Throw in any dirty nappies and wipes and when you get home you can tip everything out into the washing machine. Wetbags are useful for hundreds of other things too, especially with little ones, so having more than one is a must!

    How do I wash and care for cloth nappies?

    The materials used to make modern cloth nappies are really easy to wash and care for. There’s no elbow grease required come wash day, that’s what your washing machine is for!

    Things to keep in mind:

    • Choose a good quality detergent – remember that cloth nappies are some of the dirtiest laundry you’ll do, so you need to make sure that the detergent you use is strong enough to deal with poo and wee! If it’s not, you’ll run into problems with smelly nappies and that’s not going to make your cloth nappy experience very fun.

    • Rinse out any excess poo from nappies (this is where liners come in useful) or cloth nappies that have been used overnight. If your baby is breastfed, the poo is water soluble and washes out easily so there’s no need to rinse these.

    • Dry pail in a bucket or wetbag until wash day. Dry pailing simply means not soaking in any kind of chemicals or water.

    • Try to wash at least every two days to prevent stains and smells setting in.

    Basic cloth nappy wash routine:

    1. Start with a short prewash cycle with a small amount of detergent – this helps to wash out the worst of any wee and poo in the nappies.

    2. Follow with a long heavy duty cycle with a full amount of detergent (as per the detergent manufacturer’s advice for heavy soiling).

    3. Air dry or you can use a clothes dryer on low, but try to do this sparingly as long term hot drying can quickly deteriorate any elastics and PUL in your nappies.

    Who actually uses cloth nappies?

    All sorts of parents around the world from all walks of life! People make the decision to use cloth nappies for their own reasons and very few regret that decision as it is an amazing choice for your baby, your finances and our environment. You may actually be surprised how many people use them – as nappies aren’t usually on show, you probably won’t be aware of just how many babies around you are wearing cloth nappies!

    How do I get started using cloth nappies?

    Before investing in a huge number of a particular style or brand of cloth nappies, it’s a good idea to try out a few different types to see what you like using best, but also what fits your baby best. Not all cloth nappies suit all babies and it can take a bit of trial and error to find out what works well. Most cloth nappy stores offer trial packs to get you started.

    Keep in mind that using cloth nappies doesn’t have to be an all or nothing thing – it is perfectly fine to use disposables AND cloth nappies. Remember that every cloth nappy does make a difference – if you were to use just one cloth nappy a day on your baby, over one year it would save you approximately $70 and prevent around 70kg of waste going to the landfill!

    Sometimes the hardest part is actually getting started. So find a nappy that you think might suit you and your baby and give it a go. You’ve got nothing to lose and so much to gain!

  • 22 Oct 2019 9:14 AM | Anonymous

    By Michelle Deerheart, Co-Founder of Empowered Parenthood and Consultant Midwife.

    Hey there, mama. Are you feeling like you're worn out? Exhausted? I hear you. Or maybe you're feeling pretty on top of things? Awesome! I hear you too.

    Motherhood is such an emotional roller coaster. Some days you feel like it's the best thing that has ever happened to you, yet other days you're just trying to hang in there from sun up to sun down. It's chaotic and beautiful and messy and heart-warming... but it can also be quite consuming. After all, we love our babies with all of our being, so we want to give them all of ourselves - we put everything we have into making sure their needs are met.

    But what about us? What about our needs?

    It's important that we prioritise taking care of ourselves as well; not only do we deserve it (because we do!), but also because it's simply not sustainable to expend so much energy caring for others without taking time to recharge ourselves. I'm sure most of us have heard the expression “you can't pour from an empty cup” - and it's true! Whilst it's possible to run on coffee fumes and survival mode for a short period of time, if it carries on long-term you risk burnout, increased stress levels (which means high cortisol levels), exhaustion, physical fatigue, weakened immunity against illness, higher risk of mental health issues such as depression, and so on. I don't say that to scare you - it's just important to understand that self-care isn't a luxury, it's a necessity. Even if you feel like you do well at looking after yourself, it's important to continue to consciously monitor your self-care; to ensure you keep doing all the right things.

    It can be hard, I know, to fit in self-care time in between the feeding, the washing, the cooking, the errand running, the nappy changing... and if you're a working mum, the job doing! It's helpful to remember though that self-care doesn't necessarily mean booking in for an hour-long massage and facial each day (although I'm sure we'd all agree that'd be nice!); self-care is simply carrying out acts of kindness to yourself and ensuring your physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs are met. This might sound like a lot to do, but little and often goes a long way here. The biggest key to ensuring you maintain your self-care is to make it achievable for your situation and work it in as part of your routine. In practice, this will look different for different people, so it's a good idea to sit down and decide what needs you have that need to be fulfilled - and how that is going to happen in real time.

    Since it's always helpful to have suggestions to refer to...

    If you feel completely overwhelmed and think "well, I brushed my hair three days ago - or was it four?" when you think about your self-care, you could start with:

    • Allocating ten minutes each morning for showering (without kids)/brushing teeth/toileting in peace

    • Spending five minutes drinking your coffee/tea/hot chocolate while it's still hot

    • Making sure you eat breakfast - even if it means letting the kids fend for themselves for five minutes

    • Putting on some uplifting or energetic music and having a dance around the kitchen - with or without company!

    • Leaving the housework for a while and taking a nap

    • Preparing yourself a treat meal that you don't normally get time to make

    • Preparing bulk snacks so you have something to grab & go for the next couple days

    • Putting fresh sheets on the bed

    • Calling a friend - put the phone on speaker if needed

    • Clearing and cleaning one counter, surface or small area in your house that's been bugging you

    • Allowing yourself to feel what you're feeling, rather than comparing it to what you think you should be feeling

    • Playing music you like, rather than music for the kids

    • Opening all your curtains and windows to let fresh air and light in

    • Going to bed early (or at least on time)

    • Playing a funny or motivational podcast or TED talk in the background

    • Learning to say "no" when you need to

    • Planning something small in the near future to look forward to (like a night out)

    • Asking for help when you need it (yes, this definitely counts as self-care!)

    • And reminding yourself regularly that you're doing an amazing job, and that your family are so lucky to have you

    If you feel like your basic self-care is OK but your emotional needs could use some uplifting, you could try:

    • Taking the kids for a walk in the buggy somewhere that makes you happy

    • Joining a playgroup for mum/baby social interaction

    • Mindfully sipping a cup of herbal tea and focusing the flavours that come out (you could even treat yourself to a delicious new blend!)

    • Finding an online group you can connect with

    • Listening to a ten minute guided meditation or podcast

    • Getting some inspiring books out of the library (and make time to read them)

    • Moving your furniture around for a change of scenery

    • Making time each day for something you enjoy doing (eg. art, colouring, writing, yoga)

    • Visiting somewhere special to you that you don't get to visit often

    • And remind yourself regularly that you're doing an amazing job, and that your family are so lucky to have you

    If you feel like you're the queen of self-care (go you!) but know that extra ideas are always good, you could try:

    • Joining a class for something that interests you (eg. languages, cooking, photography, sport)

    • Starting a project for something you're passionate about (eg. family albums, renovations, building a business, blogging)

    • Setting yourself an achievable personal goal (eg. to run a marathon, write a novel, improve your fitness)

    • Remembering to stop every now and then and just relax

    • And remind yourself (you guessed it!) that you're doing an amazing job, and that your family are so lucky to have you

    No matter which stage you're at, try and regularly check in on yourself to make sure you're at least looking after the basics (eating healthfully and regularly, getting enough sleep, etc); but ideally also taking care of your deeper needs as well. Start small, then add more in as you can. Try not to think of it as "yet another thing" you have to do; try and remember it's something you get to do and that you want to do - just for yourself.

      • 17 Oct 2019 6:00 PM | Anonymous

        Written by Bunny Turner from GlowMama.

        I'm not sure when I first *clicked* that something was seriously wrong.  Looking back now, I can see that it slowly crept up; but at the time, the changes were so subtle I didn't realize I was falling down the rabbit hole.  In fact, I was rather stubborn and so for months, I refused to admit there was even a possibility I was slipping.

        But now I can openly say: I'm Bunny, and I have postnatal distress.

        Postnatal distress (PND) is the umbrella term for postnatal mental health struggles, ranging from the baby blues to post natal psychosis at the more severe end.  I struggle with depression and anxiety and have done for over a year now. It's been an up and down journey, but the beauty is that by going through it myself, I can use my experiences to hopefully help others who are in the same boat.  1 in 5 women will suffer PND at some stage after becoming mothers, so I am definitely not alone in this.

        In the beginning, I just felt worn out - which is very common when you have a tiny human to nurture!  Then I started having days where I just felt low, and I attributed these to the tiredness. I started feeling worried that either my kids or my partner and I were seriously unwell but that we didn't know it yet.  I worried that my baby was going to stop breathing in his sleep. Gosh, writing about it a year later, and I'm still tearing up about it! I'd be upset if he woke during the night and I'd be anxious if he didn't. I'd lie awake at night watching the monitor, going in and checking that his chest was still rising and falling.  I stopped eating, stopped cleaning… I stopped leaving the house if I could help it, and got angry at my partner for leaving to go to work. I felt like I didn't fit in with our friends anymore, I felt like people didn't want me around. I worried that when we were out in public we might get attacked. When I was at my lowest, I felt like if someone were to walk in and find me dead, they wouldn't care - and I was sure no one would bother coming to a funeral.  In hindsight, I'm amazed and heartbroken that those thoughts were so frequent that I thought they were normal.

        I had my suspicions, of course. Whenever I read stories about other mums with PND I'd get really emotional and upset - but then I told myself it was just because I'm a very empathetic person (which is true).  Then I'd google PND symptoms and get really sad again, but still didn't want to admit it. PND was something that happened to other people, people in difficult situations, people who had reasons to be depressed.  I felt ashamed at the mere thought that I wasn't coping, I was sure that if I let people know, they'd look down on me or think I was crazy. After all, I had everything I wanted - great kids who I adored, a wonderful relationship with an incredible and supportive partner, a home, food on the table… I had no reason to be unhappy.  So on top of everything else, I had immense self-guilt as well.

        Eventually, my partner convinced me it'd be a good idea to talk to my GP.  “It doesn't have to be a major deal,” he said. “Just have a chat, start the conversation and see what happens.” So I hesitantly made an appointment.

        I sat in the waiting room, still Googling PND symptoms, still thinking “that's not me”.  The second she asked, “how are you?” I burst into tears. I cried and cried, then hastily tried to tell her that I was OK, I was just really tired.  Thankfully, she didn't believe me on that one. She confirmed a diagnosis of PND, and after discussing which treatment route I wanted to go down, booked me into counseling the following week.  I walked out of her office feeling so much lighter. I now had something to work with. That's the key, I think; feeling heard and feeling empowered.

        Alongside my counseling and with the support of my loved ones, I made several changes to my life in order to manage my PND holistically.  I started making sure I ate properly, I went out for walks with friends, I started meditating and repeating calming and reassuring mantras to myself. 

        And I talked about it.

        I talked as much as I could because then it became less of a ‘thing’ that had a hold over me. It meant people could understand if I struggled with some things.  It meant I found out that so many of my friends - strong, brave, funny women who I looked up to as mothers - were struggling too. It meant I found a whole new village of strong women, triumphing over their own battles. We're now able to hold each other accountable for looking after ourselves and support each other when we can't.

        Through all this, I've managed to find myself again.  I'm still on the journey, I still have days where getting out of bed feels unbearable.  But now I know why - and I know how to get through it.

        If you've never experienced depression or anxiety, it can be a tricky one to get your head around.  Even if you have experienced it, it can still be hard to comprehend, particularly while you're going through it.  But if you think you might be developing it - or even if you just have a tiny feeling in your gut that something's not quite right - go and talk to someone about it.  There is no shame in needing help, and there is no need to struggle alone. Parents have a wonderful way of banding together when one of their own is in need - so find your village, and let them in.  Because you deserve to feel happy, you deserve to be safe and you deserve to enjoy this beautiful gift of parenthood.

        Written by Bunny Kim

      • 17 Oct 2019 5:30 PM | Anonymous

        Pregnancy Tea and Breastfeeding Tea is a mixture of nourishing herbs that are packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.  Some herbs, like nettle and alfalfa, are good well-rounded herbs for general wellbeing, and other herbs, like red raspberry leaf, are particularly valuable for pregnant women. 


        Pregnancy Tea


        • 1 part nettle leaf

        • 1 part red raspberry leaf

        • 1 part oatstraw

        • 1 part spearmint

        • 1 part lemon balm

        • 1/2 part red clover leaf

        • 1/4 part alfalfa

        • 1/4 part anise seed

        • 1/4 part rose hips

        • 1/4 part dried orange peel

        To make a nourishing tea infusion

        Mix all herbs in a bowl so evenly distributed
        To make the tea put 2 tablespoons into a one litre or quart glass jar
        Pour hot water over and place lid on
        Leave for 4-8 hours or overnight
        Put through tea strainer and sweeten with raw honey if desired
        Drink up to one quart/litre throughout the day.
        Store the tea mix in a clean glass jar with lid and prepare as above when needed.

        Breastfeeding Tea


        • 1 part nettle leaf

        • 1 part red raspberry leaf

        • 1 part lemon verbena

        • 1 part borage leaves

        • 1/2 part anise or fennel seed

        • 1/2 part fenugreek seed

        • 1 crushed cinnamon stick

        Mix all herbs in a bowl so evenly distributed

        To make the tea put 2 tablespoons into one litre or quart glass jar
        Pour hot water over and place the lid on
        Leave for 4-8 hours or overnight
        Put through the tea strainer and sweeten with raw honey if desired
        Drink up to one quart/litre throughout the day.
        Store the tea mix in a clean glass jar with the lid and prepare as above when needed.


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