HOW TO CONTROL ANXIETY IN THE FIRST 12 WEEKS OF PREGNANCY

- Parallel feelings between anxiety and excitement - 

By The Anxiety Wellness Queen 

"Pregnancy can be one of the most joyous, yet overwhelming and stressful times of a woman’s life.  Anxiety is a normal experience in pregnancy, particularly in the first 12 weeks where there are a lot of unknowns.  Amanda from The Anxiety Wellness Queen shares with us some simple tips for trying to keep the anxiety down."
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Catching up on the ZZZzz’s
This is the perfect time to catch up on your sleep before bub arrives. Lack of sleep alone can heighten your anxiety and stress levels. If you are having trouble switching your mind off and falling asleep try a nice relaxing camomile tea, some light hearted reading or close your eyes and do some mediation to help relax and slow down the mind.

Master the Breathing
Learning how to breathe is so underrated. One of the first things that changes when feeling stressed and anxious is your regular calm breathing. Commonly when feeling anxious, your breathing increases rapidly or you might find yourself holding your breath and then grasping for air. This has the ability to switch on your fight or flight response and gets the adrenalin pumping. Believe it or not there are so many different ways to ‘breathe’ but let's stick to the basics:
- First, breathe air in to the count of three, filling up your lungs, so your belly expands.
- Then, to the count of three, breathe out the air from your lungs, so your belly deflates to its normal resting position.
- Many find it helpful to close their eyes and place one hand of their chest and one on their abdomen whilst doing this exercise.  

Write it out
I am positive people are sick of me saying this, but there is something so magical and
therapeutic about physically writing things out using the old fashioned pen and paper. So many thoughts and emotions are flowing right now and keeping it all in your mind is not only exhausting but also leaves you feeling a sense of ‘heaviness’. 
Try to get in the habit of writing out your thoughts and feelings as you go along. By doing this you will:
a) Clear them from your mind
b) You are now able to visually look at your thoughts and feelings, address them more objectively, enabling you to make more rational and thought-out decisions.


Keep Moving
Physical exercise or movement produces all those feel good hormones we all want and LOVE! Not only will it make you feel good, it is fantastic for your physical health during your pregnancy as well. A great place to start is by doing some walking, pregnancy yoga, or having a dance around the house while doing your daily tasks (who doesn’t love a good dance around the house) 
Note: It is extremely important to listen to your body, and it is recommended especially during the early stages of pregnancy to discuss with your health care practioner prior to commencing any physical activity.

Amanda - Anxiety Wellness Queen 

 

Do I have to have a "C" section after tearing with my first baby?

Dr (Osteopath)Fiona Hooper shares her personal experience with us all. 

TO CUT OR NOT TO CUT?
I can not believe it! 
I've qualified.

Winning!
 NOT!
Are they serious?  

I am now 36 weeks pregnant and I’ve met a different practitioner at every appointment and every one of them has heavily encouraged that I have an elective caesarean to avoid the chance of tearing again.

Yesterday’s appointment was the icing on the cake.

Going from recommending to now pressuring me into having a C section (CS) and because I continue to refuse a CS I’m now told I’ll need an episiotomy because having another tear is inevitable and out of my control.

Obviously my immediate reaction to the suggestion was definitely not.
However it was quickly followed by feelings of utter disappointment and sadness, that if I’ve been pressured into making this decision how many other people have been also (amongst other interventions). 
No wonder the statistics of CS births are on the rise.
 
Most of all I am bemused by the amount of people suggesting an elective CS as a way to prevent another tear. 
They are suggesting that I go for a guaranteed severe laceration of my abdomen, cutting through skin and muscle and increasing the risks of all sorts of complications (especially long term), instead of having a ‘chance’ of lacerations on my perineum second time around.
Swapping the possibility of one adverse outcome, for the certainty of another. 
 
What a dilemma to be in! 
 
So I’ve decided to delve into why exactly this was the case and what the statistics really were of a re tear, If it’s the real reason why they recommend this option in the first place and not just for practitioner preference, convenience or their lack of up to date education and knowledge.

So I’m taking my professional hat off and chosen to write this as a mum.

I’m also happy to share with you the statistics and 

recommendations I’ve discovered and what I intend to follow myself this time around if the circumstances permit.
 
For me, it’s all about weighing up the pro’s and con’s of my individual circumstance, however if I can avoid even one unnecessary CS today due to nothing other than convenience then I’ve done my job.

So, throw me the stats!!
 
Around 80-90% of women tear during childbirth.
 
Unfortunately, it is not always possible to predict or prevent these tears however there are certain risk factors you can look out for such as,

• A bubba more than 4kg in birthweight
• First vaginal delivery
• Instrumental delivery, particularly with forceps if bubba is ‘stuck’
• Position of the baby’s head
• Second stage labour duration more than one hour
• Induced labour
• Epidural anaesthesia
• Shoulder dystocia
• Midline episiotomy
 
It was challenging to get my hands on statistics, however the best evidence based stats are from England where there has been an increase in the rate of reported third and fourth degree perineal tears with the rate tripling from 1.8% in 2000 to 5.9% in 2011 among first time mothers.
 
Women with a previous tear who had a vaginal delivery for their second birth had an increase chance of severely tearing at 7.2%, compared to 1.3% in women who didn’t tear first time around.

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What are the current guidelines today?
 
The RCOG (Royal Collage of Obstetricians & Gynecology) Green Top Guidelines suggests that,
 
‘All women who have sustained a third or forth degree tear in a previous pregnancy and who are symptomatic or have abnormal endoanal ultrasonography and/or manometry should be counseled regarding the option of elective caesarean birth'.
 
'Women who have made an uncomplicated recovery and who have remained asymptomatic can consider vaginal birth again’.
 
Bang!  There’s my answer!

 
What’s the G.O with episiotomies?
 

Episiotomy during vaginal delivery was first recommended in 1920’s as a way to protect the pelvic floor from lacerations and to protect the baby’s head from trauma.
 
It was rapidly adopted as a standard practice and has been widely used since then. However, over the last several decades, there has been a growing body of evidence suggesting that an episiotomy does not provide short or long term benefits to the mother and may contribute to more severe perineal lacerations and future pelvic floor dysfunction.
 
Evidence based research has now suggested that the role of episiotomy in subsequent pregnancies is not known and therefore an episiotomy should only be performed if clinically indicated not ‘just in case’.
 
As an Osteopath I love this article extract! 
Highlighting the body’s ability to heal more effectively and efficiently from a natural trauma rather than a man made one.

'Many surgeons believe a surgical cut to be better than a natural tear, although scientific data has proven otherwise. The misconception stems from the fact that obstetricians are surgeons accustomed to sewing up openings that have been made with a scalpel. That is, cuts that are straight and clean. Whereas tears are ragged and irregular. It is perhaps counter intuitive to surgeons that a tear is better than a cut. What they don’t appreciate is that a tear follows the lines of the tissue, which can be brought back together like a jigsaw puzzle. An episiotomy cut, on the other hand, ignores any anatomical structures or borders and disrupts the integrity of muscles, blood vessels, nerves, and other tissues, resulting in more bleeding, more pain, more loss of muscle tone, and more deformity of the vagina with associated pain during sexual intercourse'. Marsden Wagner. Born in the USA: How a Broken Maternity System Must Be Fixed to Put Women and Children First (p. 56). Kindle Edition.

'Many surgeons believe a surgical cut to be better than a natural tear, although scientific data has proven otherwise. The misconception stems from the fact that obstetricians are surgeons accustomed to sewing up openings that have been made with a scalpel. That is, cuts that are straight and clean. Whereas tears are ragged and irregular. It is perhaps counter intuitive to surgeons that a tear is better than a cut. What they don’t appreciate is that a tear follows the lines of the tissue, which can be brought back together like a jigsaw puzzle. An episiotomy cut, on the other hand, ignores any anatomical structures or borders and disrupts the integrity of muscles, blood vessels, nerves, and other tissues, resulting in more bleeding, more pain, more loss of muscle tone, and more deformity of the vagina with associated pain during sexual intercourse'.
Marsden Wagner. Born in the USA: How a Broken Maternity System Must Be Fixed to Put Women and Children First (p. 56). Kindle Edition.

WHAT AM I GOING TO DO THIS TIME AROUND?

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These are the recommendations I’ve discovered so please take and leave what you wish.
 
Seek an Osteopathic treatment  - or the kind to evaluate your spinal and pelvic alignment.  A rotation in the pelvis for example may decrease the diameter of the pelvic outlet and thus decrease the room available for the baby's head.  Even 1 cm is going to be a game changer. Having an optimal pregnancy posture will also reduce tension on the pelvic floor muscles and pelvic ligaments (think of it as a hammock and having the ability to twist and torsion which will also hinder the baby's exit).
 
Don’t lie on your back during labour - Think of how your spine is curved and how your tailbone is tucked under.. When the baby’s head descends the coccyx moves out of the way. But it cannot when you’re lying on it.  Again decreasing the available space is going require your perineum to stretch more.
 
Kegal exercises -  only if you are inactive during pregnancy. I believe that you can also have a pelvic floor that is too tight if you over train these muscles. In my experience no patient ever does ‘too many’ rehabilitation exercises so I would perform these more for awareness especially if an epidural is performed.  This will give you some awareness of how to relax and contract this area when you cannot actually feel the body’s natural expulsion reflex to push/bear down and need to take your practitioners word for it.
 
Consider current nutritional status and general level of fitness and energy - Nutrition and fitness level is what provides the strength and elasticity to the connective tissues and muscles in the pelvic area.  Like the muscles in the rest of our body, if we are hydrated and fed nutritious foods we function at our best and exercise helps to keep the muscles toned and responsive to the task at hand.  My Naturopath has given me supplements to improve the elasticity of the previous scar tissue and tissue contractibility ‘down there’.  It may sound crazy but knowledge is power.

Perineal massage – yes you heard me. I will be honest, I skimmed over this with my first pregnancy. However after suffering a tear personally I’m very open to looking at all options to avoid a recurrence. Research suggests it’s only effective for your first delivery however I’m open to trying anything.  This can be done during pregnancy (from 36 wks) until the lead up or during the labour. It’s a pretty confronting type of option however worth considering.

Go for a swim - Well maybe a little soak in the bathtub during labour as this will soften the tissues and allow them to stretch with more ease.
 
Squat -  Squatting will allow gravity to act in your favour.
 

Warm compression to the perineum during the second stage of labour.
 
It’s important to make sure you avoid focusing on any fears of tearing. By worrying that you’re going to tear, you’ll likely end up tense and stressed, which can hinder the labour process and your experience of it. Your body is designed to birth – always remember that. Even if your ‘thinking’ brain says it doesn’t know how to do it, another part of your brain, the ancient brain stem, does. Your body effortlessly breathes, blinks, digests food, just as your perineum will stretch in order to give birth. You don’t need any fancy devices to make your body work better – after all, mother nature has worked beautifully all this time! You conceived, you can give birth too.
 
Quick labours also happen.  So if your labour is quick the rate of tearing may be higher also. You could consider trying positions related to slowing the birth by reducing the effects of gravity.  Knee-to-chest or lying on your left side with a pillow under the hips (this will still allow movement for the coccyx).
 
Focus on breathing, not pushing. I honestly feel the word ‘pushing’ needs to be removed from the birthing vocabulary.  This was my problem during my first labour.  I’ve watched all those Hollywood movies and being fit I thought, I’ve got this!  So I held my breath, didn’t listen to my body because I wanted it over with and pushed like I was running the last 100m of a race. Idiot!! Once the baby is low enough the automatic expulsion reflex takes over and it’s just the uterus doing the pushing. All I needed to do was breathe and bare down with it.  Hence why I’m doing hypnobirthing this time around.  Or you could try a           yoga or meditation for breath awareness.
 
 So what are my odds

 Ok, so I pretty much have a 5 fold increased risk of re tear, which is pretty obvious however I’m willing to take the risk by implementing the tips above.
 
Knowledge is power. Do your due diligence and question EVERYTHING! 
Otherwise I would be booked in for an elective caesarian.
 
We need to give our body credit where it’s due. We already know subconsciously how to give birth just like we don’t have to actively remember ourselves to make the baby’s heart, kidneys and brain for example.

IT JUST HAPPENS!

- Fiona Hooper Mpower Health 

Stress & ANXIETY Through the preconception phase - By The Anxiety Wellness Queen

‘Stress makes you believe that everything has to happen right now. Faith reassures you that everything will happen in the right time.’
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The pre-conception phase is ideally the time to prepare your mind and body for pregnancy. Many couples find this time stressful.  They feel an added pressure to take note of dates and ovulation cycles whilst also meeting in with the time frames and expectations they have set up for themselves. What most people do not realise is that stress and anxiety play a major role in the outcome of the preconception phase. Issues based around infertility for both men and women have a strong link to the state of a couples’ mental health and emotional wellbeing. 

It is important to listen to your body during this time and keep your medical practitioner up-to-date with the way you are feeling both physically and mentally. 

When our bodies are in constant fight or flight mode, we produce hormones such as adrenalin, noradrenalin and cortisol. These stress hormones can cause numerous changes to the body and negatively affect our health. As with anything the way stress impacts fertility is very individual. It is not exactly clear how stress impacts the preconception phase and issues with delayed conception or infertility, although according to research there is a significant link between high levels of stress hormones, ovulation, libido, sperm count and the right levels of hormones present in the body for conception. Contributing stressors may include:
- General everyday stressors
- Poor diet
- Work
- Relationship issues
- Health issues
- Lack of movement and/or exercise
- Grief, loss, and trauma
 
It has also been shown that when stress-reduced practices are regularly applied by those struggling to conceive, a considerable increase in their chance of conception is evident. Below I have included some ‘stress reduction’ activities.

Meditation is a great way to help restore your calm and channel your inner peace. The beauty of this practice is that you only need to spend a few minutes a day in mediation to notice a significant difference.

Yoga practice has benefits for both the mind and body. It will help improve your strength, balance, stamina and flexibility as well as this amazing mental discipline. I love how it strengthens the connection between the mind and body allowing you to practice becoming more in tune and to listen to your body when it speaks.
  
Massage helps to relieve the physical tension in the body. It basically puts the body in the complete opposite to the ‘fight or flight’ response lowering your heart rate, slowing down your breathing and relaxing the body.

Acupuncture works in a similar way to massage in that it also elicits a sense of calm within the body by turning down the fight or flight response. It produces the ‘feel good’ hormones and opens the gateways within the body to encourage a steady flow for your feelings, emotions and physical alignments. 

Mindfulness and Relaxation practice is a great way to focus and set your intentions for the day ahead as well as an excellent way to unwind at the end of a busy day. Learning how to access this mental state can serve as a very powerful tool during times of stress and anxiety.  

Sleep or lack of sleep greatly contributes to your heightened stress and anxiety levels. Your body rests, heals and rejuvenates during your sleep. Experts say that the average adult needs between 7-9 hours of sleep per night! Sleep tight!  

Eat a Healthy Diet full of fresh produce, low in refined sugar and junk food, minimal caffeine, alcohol and plenty of water. Fuelling the body with all the right things keeps us happy and energises the mind.

Taking care of your health and wellbeing is just as important through the preconception phase as it is during pregnancy. It sets the foundation and building blocks to begin with the right energy and confidence for a healthy, happy pregnancy and introduction to motherhood. 

Amanda xxx 

Pregnancy Training Basics

Congratulations you are pregnant! Pregnancy is a very exciting time for all women but it can also be very daunting, tiring and overwhelming. 

There is so much mixed information on EVERYTHING to do with pregnancy and it doesn't stop once you have your bundle of joy.

In this blog I want to outline some basic guidelines for exercising and training while pregnant. These guidelines are for the average person - not an elite athlete, seasoned gym junkie or someone who has a special/restricting condition. I also want to stress you MUST gain medical clearance from your doctors or OB before commencing or continuing any exercise program while pregnant.

The most important thing to remember when training while pregnant is to listen to your body and if something does not feel right, hurts or is uncomfortable - stop immediately. You don't need to be super woman - pregnancy is like a 24/7 workout in itself. 

Another point I'd like to make is that you don't need to be like some of the "fitness role models" you may have seen in the media lately. You are good enough the way you are and you are also doing the right thing by toning it back and taking it easier during this time. The long term benefits of practicing safe pregnancy exercise will out weigh any short term benefit of staying "fit" or "bouncing" straight back. I'm in no way saying what they are doing is wrong for them but every woman is different and the majority of women out there are not elite athletes or gym junkies.

These tips may seem overly cautious but I'm ok with that - I tend to give overly cautious advice as there is nothing more important than the health & safety of Mum & bub when pregnant.

PREGNANCY TRAINING GUIDELINES TRIMESTER 1:

- Gain medical clearance from GP or OB.

- Have a check up with a women's health physio to structure a plan for you through out your pregnancy.

- Avoid overheating during exercise by keeping it at a moderate intensity (6/10). This is very important as there is major organ development occurring during first trimester and the baby is unable to cool itself it the womb so what ever temp your body is so is your babies.

- Take time to rest especially if you are suffering from morning sickness and or nausea.

- Start working on your pelvic floor strengthening exercises - KEGELS!!

- Start working on strengthening your back muscles to help your posture.

- STOP focusing on abdominal workouts - no crunching, double leg lifts, vsits or sit ups.

- Avoid heavy lifting.

- Avoid any movement or exercise that causes bearing down, dragging or heavy feeling in the lower abdomen.

PREGNANCY TRAINING GUIDELINES TRIMESTER 2:

- All pregnancy guidelines for trimester 1 to be included

- Gain medical clearance from GP or OB

- Remove all high impact movements (jumping, skipping, running ect.)

- Remove all heavy lifting to protect pelvic floor.

- Remove pull ups & full push ups. 

- Use a swiss ball or wall for movements a an alternate.

- Have feet in a narrow stance for ( no more than shoulder width) when performing squats & deadlifts.

- Perform squats and deadlifts shallow-  no deeper than a 90 degree angle ( thighs  parrallel to floor) , this will protect your pelvic floor and pelvic joints.

- Avoid supine (laying on your back) exercises from 16 weeks.

- Avoid prolonged stationary standing to perform weight training - perform seated on bench or swiss ball. 

- Work on strengthening your posture.

- If you are experiencing pelvic pain avoid one legged movements such as lunges or any movement where your weight is on one side of your body.

- No walking lunges.

- Remove abdominal workouts and focus on your core and pelvic floor instead

- Continue with your pelvic floor exercises.

- Light weights, resistance bands and body weight for resistance training. 

- 20 - 30 mins max of moderate cardio.

- Listen to your body and if you are not comfortable or something does not feel right stop immediately.

PREGNANCY TRAINING GUIDELINES TRIMESTER 3:

- Obtain medical clearance from GP or OB

- All pregnancy guidelines for trimester 1 & 2 to be included

- Tone it right down and work at a low to moderate intensity 

- Concentrate on strengthening your core and pelvic floor

- Use a swiss ball instead of standing for most movements.

- Low to no impact movements only.

- Take stress off your back and pelvis by performing movements on all fours

- Relaxation , yoga and stretching is very important to help you feel less stressed, tired and sore.

- 15-20 mins max of moderate cardio.

- Very light weights or body weight for resistance.

- Listen to your body and if you are not comfortable or something does not feel right stop immediately.

- Staying active is great but if it is causing more tiredness, aches , pains or is uncomfortable maybe short walks are enough and its time to put your feet up and rest.

The above are basic guidelines for the average person and may not suit you or your specific needs. You MUST gain medical clearance before doing any exercise whilst pregnant even if you were fit or active before. Please contact me via my website or DM me on Instagram for any specific help.

Remember to listen to your body during this time and do not compare your self to others - we are all on our own journey and what suits one Mum to be may not suit another.

Love,

Brittany xx

Follow Britt's journey - http://www.thefashionablefitmum.com - @fashionablefitmum

 

 

 

Dear Azalea - Dr Fiona Hooper <3

Thank you for blessing me with the perfect labour..... 

Well in comparison to your sister Maddison it was pretty close!

Your dad and I have always wanted 4 children however the circumstances surrounding Maddison’s delivery both physically and emotionally was almost enough to make her an only child!  So thanks for potentially opening the door to a 3rd child, a boy (come on, we all know it’s going to be the next question).

Watching your sister completely melt all over you with uncontrollable love was also the first time I had accepted our 3 heart crushing miscarriages before Maddison. 

You would have been the 5th and you wouldn’t be here today.

That alone brought a tear to my eye.  The second I held you I couldn’t imagine my life without you in it.

The thought of another pregnancy after Maddison put my anxiety through the roof!  However, I’ve always dreamt of a big family and I knew that whilst I couldn’t change the past, I could do so much now to have a positive birth experience. 

I'm proud to be able to share with everyone how happy I was with your quick entrance into the world.

One less horror story is always a good thing!

So did I??

Those who followed my pregnancy journey thought I was crazy making my birthing preferences so public and revealing the details of my delightful grade 3C tear received by Moo.

Every doctor/obstetrician during your pregnancy suggested I have a C section (some were more intimidating than others) to reduce the risk of a re tear and the potential complications I could experience later in life.

However your mother was determined (others call it stubborn) to not fall victim to the medicalization of labour and make decisions based on the facts at the time and ultimately do what’s best for YOU!!

So I took massive action to educate myself on how to reduce the chance of a re tear during your pregnancy and labour.

I even wrote an article to share the knowledge I had discovered with others in the same boat (this article can be found here). 

While your story doesn't have the excitement, drama and suspense as Maddi’s, (with broken down cars and wolf creek scenes) you still deserve to have it documented for a keep sake and to know that the reason you are highly favoured in the will is because you were ALOT kinder to me ;P

So did I?

Did I tear?

Drum roll please.......

NOPE!

Not even a graze.

THANK YOU!

You are the best!

I didn't believe them at first and so I asked them to check again.  Who does that?!

So I'm proud and relieved to be able to say that if you choose, you too can give birth naturally after a severe tear and with a bigger baby!!

Gosh I can’t believe I just said that! I don’t even want you out of 000 size clothes never mind having a baby!!!

But it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

Even to the day I had moments where I wanted to cave and just go with the 'easier and safer' option. 

I had many ask what's the difference in terms of the benefits for you with a natural delivery over a C section and I'm going to do an article on that too (one day).

Now what helped me achieve your amazing delivery?

I personally believe the Hypnobirthing course your dad and I did online was hands down the best thing and the greatest contributor!!

And when I say your dad, I mean it!

Sure there was the odd occasion where I had to wake him up as he’d fallen asleep (due to being tired from work not the content ;p)

But no s**t he was the bomb in labour!

To the point where he was so focused and on a mission that anyone would have thought he was in labour!

A few weeks leading up to your birth I had been experiencing non painful tightening’s or I guess you could say braxton hicks. 

The Friday night before you were born they returned a little stronger. Just enough to message daddyo, who was sitting on the other side of the room watching Geelong bomb out of the AFL finals to stop drinking just in case he needed to drive us to the hospital.

They stopped so I went to bed.....

Monday arrived.  Due date!  

I wondered if you would arrive on time like your sister....you didn’t.

I knew Maddison wouldn't want to share that stat with anyone!

Another day went by and we were booked in for a growth scan and a 'possible' stretch and sweep on the Wednesday. 

Each visit to the doctor was really a ‘Fiona, shut up, listen and keep your opinions to yourself’ type of appointment. 

There was no point in wasting my energy telling them my intentions until the situation arose. 

However your poor father would cop the backlash after every appointment and I swear he’s so informed now on all things pregnancy and labour that he could pass as an Obstetrician too ;) (although he’d say he would prefer to be a hydnobirthing dad ;p)

I will admit, I was getting pretty nervous that things were starting to head onto a direction that was out of my control and toward intervention L However I was prepared to roll will the punches and take a positive spin on any direction we took.

But you, my little cherub are just like your father and left it right up until the last minute to get a move along.  Procrastination they call it, and is a favourite characteristic of your dad’s but maybe you liked it in there ;)

That Tuesday night the tightening’s turned it up a notch and I knew the show was about to start (ha ha pardon the pun ;) but there was no ‘show’).

I went to bed hoping I could fall asleep like I did with Maddison and wake up 6cm dilated.

No deal.  It was too uncomfortable to sleep so I jumped into the shower while Ol mate was still sleeping.  I wasn’t able to use the shower with Maddi but it worked a gem with you until the water went cold!!!

I called your dad in to time the contractions on the groovy app on his phone and they were a consistent 30 seconds long, 2 minutes apart.

I noticed without the shower I was really tensing up which started to elevate my pain. I was to the point where I didn’t think I could survive a car ride, so we rang the hospital and updated them. 

They down played it and said it sounded like the start of labour and to come in if we wanted.

Ahhhhh yes please!! I need a hot shower!

So I chucked on the tens machine for the car ride, balled my eyes out as I said goodbye to your sleeping sister, had a final contraction hanging over the stairs and then jumped (more like rolled) into the car. 

We arrived at the hospital just after 12.30.  I had another 3 contractions down the hallway before I entered the labour ward.

Your dad was quick to act and pulled out the birth preferences to lay down all the rules to the midwife.

Can we please dim the lights? Water?  To fill up my drink bottle with electrolytes,Can she get into the birthing pool?……..all before we’d even said hello!!

I could sense they were a little stand offish at the beginning so in between contractions I tried to soften the requests a little as all I wanted was to have some gas and find out how dilated I was.

The moment I walked in that room I wanted to poop ;p

But I couldn't tell if that was the cabbage I'd had for tea or your head!

Tip : Don't eat any foods that make you gassy leading up to the birth as it seriously confuses you.

They insisted I first be monitored to see how you were coping with the labour.  I’m all for this, but there was no way I was doing it on my back.  How does anyone sit still in pain?? It’s so natural to move to get comfortable so that’s what I did.

At this stage the tens machine was still working wonders but the bloody thing kept switching off. 

The gas threw me off this time so I threw it away after a couple of surges. Hypnobirthing taught me to breathe in and out through my nose and this was having a greater effect than inhaling the gas through my mouth.

When they finally had worked out that you were happy they checked to see how dilated I was and said 'ah yep you're good to push now'

Say what??!!  Already??I was like, nah you just grab the baby out, I'm too scared to push.....

So with a couple of poor/freak out attempts they told me I needed to have a real go and that's when my Hypnobirthing brain kicked in we worked as an amazing team.

Then with no more than 5 attempts at bearing down you arrived!

They passed you to me and asked ‘what did you have?’

A girl!! Crap a girl?!! (I swore you were going to be a boy)

We remember just in time to delay your cord from being clamped to allow for up to an extra 30% blood volume to be delivered to you.

Then your daddy cut your cord. What a moment!  You were perfect!

Welcome to the world little girl you are now your own being ready to share your gift with the world.

There was an instant warmth (and I’m not talking the warmth from the gooiness all over you ;p) and calmness like we were already best friends.  I had so many moments leading up to your arrival of fear, sadness and uncertainty of not being able to love another little cherub as much as I love Maddison.

Well wasn’t that silly. 

To think that I had really loved before children was even sillier ;) 

Half an hour later your placenta was still not delivered and I was being prepped for surgery.

I begged to have one more attempt where I could try and help push the placenta out with them at the same time.

Fortunately it worked and I’m so grateful that I got to stay with you and cuddle you.  I didn’t get this opportunity with Maddison L

This initial bonding time cannot be underestimated.  It was incredible! 

So at 2.11am you, Azalea Bell Hooper arrived and we sat in the delivery room frantically brainstorming new names and searching google as we didn't like any of the names on our list.

You are named after a flower on Dad’s favourite golf course and Bell is your great grandmother's maiden name (which has so much more meaning since she passed away last week at 96 years old).

So there you have it!!

Welcome to the world beautiful girl and thank you for blessing me with an amazing birth experience and giving me the opportunity to recover quickly and keep up with your bigger sister.  

Love Mum XXX

 

Emily & Alina <3

As I sit here writing this I am staring at my sleeping 11-day old daughter in her bassinet and wanting to pinch myself! I can’t believe she is finally in the world. My heart is so full and I’m so grateful she chose me to be her mummy!

I have loved documenting my pregnancy journey with you and I’m excited to be sharing my birth story. Whether you’ve had children, are currently pregnant or want children one day I must say as women we are absolutely incredible, powerful beings when it becomes to creating life. I’m proud to have experienced a healthy and enjoyable pregnancy and I can now say the same for my labour and delivery experience.

On the 22nd January 2016 I awoke around 2am with bad stomach cramps and a backache. I felt like my insides were being squeezed, tugged and twisted all at the same time and the feeling was coming in waves. Being 41 weeks and 4 days pregnant I’d gotten a membrane sweep the day before so I was expecting things to start moving but I really wasn’t sure if what I was experiencing was labour pains or if I really needed to go to the toilet! After spending a good 15 minutes sitting on the toilet with nothing happening and the feeling still coming on and off I decided to take a bath and see how things progressed from there.

While in the bath the cramps and backache were now becoming quite intense and coming in more consistent waves so I decided to start timing them. They were coming every 6-7 minutes so I decided to call the midwife to explain what I was experiencing and see if it sounded like early labour. The midwife told me it absolutely did sound like I was in early labour and to try and get some rest and phone back when the contractions were around 4 minutes apart.

I must have stayed in the bath for a good two hours all the while the contractions were becoming more intense. I decided to get out of the bath and tell my husband what was going on. As I was still able to get through each contraction myself we decided it was best that he got some more sleep as he was going to be my rock for the rest of the labour, I needed him rested.

I decided to go downstairs and fold some washing and tidy up a little while watching TV, being on my feet was helping at that point. As each contraction came I would hold onto something and breathe until it passed and continue doing what I was doing. It got to around 5am and the contractions were now coming every 4-5 minutes and were now very intense, I couldn’t even talk through them.

Though I’d still not had my waters break or lost any of my mucus plug I phoned the midwife again to see what I should do. She told me to come in and get examined and we’d go from there. I woke the husband up and off we went to the hospital. I was in so much pain but so excited at the same time!

We arrived at the hospital around 6am and I was now in agony, the contractions were coming every 3-4 minutes. I couldn’t move or talk through them (aside from the odd swear word here and there). I had about 3 contractions from the car park to the foetal assessment unit, all the while groaning like some sort of wild beast clutching onto my husband. When one contraction subsided we’d walk a few more metres until my next one. It felt like eternity until we got to the ward.

When the midwife examined me I was only 2-3 centimetres dilated! I can’t explain the fear that set in at that point as I knew we were going to be sent home to keep labouring and I already felt that I couldn’t bare the pain I was already experiencing.

(I’d read about the pain, heard my friends stories and watched countless episodes of one born every minute but nothing, and I mean nothing could prepare me for what it was actually like!)

The midwife said that she wanted me to go home and keep going as I had been until I felt I could no longer take it, I remember looking at my husband and he looked me straight in the eye and told me that I’ve got this. He said I’m the strongest women he’s ever met and he knows I’m going to get through this like a boss. He made me believe in myself and I remember re-focusing on what was actually happening, the pain was horrible but it meant something! It meant my body was doing what it was designed to do and with each contraction I was closer and closer to meeting our daughter. Ok Em, you’ve got this!

We got home from the hospital around 7.30am and I went straight back into the bath, I laboured in there until around 9am where I felt I needed to get out and move around through them. So I put some comfortable clothes on and I used a fit ball to lean over while on all fours and I laboured like this for a good hour and a half, all while my husband was applying pressure to my back through each one, I literally did not move from that ball for anything.

At this point we were no longer timing my contractions as they were coming so close together there was no point, we knew we were in labour haha! All I could do was breath and recover before the next one came and as each came, the next was more intense! I decided it was time go back to the hospital, I got the hubby to call up the midwife as I couldn’t talk and she must have been able to hear me through the phone because she told us to come straight in. Off we went again, the same horrible car ride (labouring in a car sucks!) The same excitement!

We’d now arrived back at the hospital for 11.45am and my husband wanted to drop me at the front of the hospital while he went and parked the car. The thought of being apart from him was too much as he was getting me through this, I didn’t want anyone else’s help  (if someone came to my aid) or to be left waiting on my own so I went with him to park the car. We did the painful walk to the entrance and once we got there the staff rushed up to us and offered to put me in a wheel chair. I was hesitant as I just wanted to get up to that ward and there was still no sight of the offered wheel chair, they went off to get one and it felt like eternity. When I finally got on it, it was so awkward! I was sitting in this stupid wheel chair, having a gut wrenching contraction. The hospital staff and my husband were trying to shove my hospital bags until my legs so that my husband had his hands free to wheel me upstairs. I remember yelling at all of them to just give the bags to me to carry on my lap (I must have sounded like Satan haha.) Once we sorted the bag situation my man started wheeling me on what was the slowest friggin wheelchair ever made!

We’d again reached the ward (I was determined this was the last trip here, I was not going home again). The midwife was notified we’d arrived and as we were waiting for her there was another couple in the hallway who were just in for a regular antenatal appointment, I honestly feel so sorry for that woman and her husband! I was hard-core labouring right in front of them, I can’t even remember half of it but I know there were a lot of made up words, swearing, tears and I sounded possessed! I do remember turning around and the look on their faces I will never forget! I think I scarred them for life! (poor thing was going to go through this soon).

The midwife took her sweet time to come and get us! Once she finally did it was time to be examined again and I was now 5 centimetres dilated! Hallelujah, I’d made progress! The midwife was still examining me when she said she could feel my waters bulging but they were still intact. She’d finished the internal and placed her hand on my stomach, that’s when the baby kicked and we all heard a pop, out gushed my waters! Little miss was more than ready to get things happening!

It was then that things got much more intense, which I wouldn’t have thought possible! The midwife told me that Alina was posterior. My husband had actually noticed this because as I had each contraction he had seen a dip in my stomach but didn’t want to tell me because my friend had just given birth to a posterior baby and her birth was very traumatic, he knew that would scare me. Well, the position of bubs explained the pain. Apparently labour with a back-to-back baby is the most intense (lucky me).

For those of you who’ve read previous posts you’ll know that I wanted a natural, drug free birth. Well in that moment I didn’t care about what I wanted, all I wanted was relief from this awful pain I was in, I was begging the midwife for an epidural, drugs, anything please don’t let me go through this anymore! That’s when my man stepped in and reminded me of what I wanted and why I wanted it, that even I had said I know there’ll be a point where I want drugs but don’t let anyone give them to me no matter how much I say I need them. My choice to have a natural birth was not to be a hero or to prove anything to anyone. I wanted to experience the birth for all that it was which obviously includes the pain. It was a very personal choice and I’m so glad my husband stepped in when he did and reminded me why I wanted it.

I was offered gas and air and I had about 6 breaths on that but it made me feel disgusting so I didn’t continue to use it.

This is where the water birth came into play. My hospital has a birthing tub and they had started to run it for me as a form of pain relief because they knew I didn’t want any other form of pain relief and using the bath at home had helped me in the early stages.

It was about 1.30pm by this point and I’d gotten into the birthing tub, my man put on some soothing music and I had a cup of ice to chew and suck on (this actually assisted greatly). The second I got into that bath something changed within me, there was this power that entered me and I went deep within myself. The pain I was in was another level, I was actually having an out of body experience. It became me the water and my baby. We were all working together and after about two houes in the bath my body was telling me it needed to push. Without me even trying, as each contraction came I was pushing. The midwife just thought my body was getting prepared and practicing for when it was time to push. I remember saying that I felt something was coming down with each contraction and then going back in each time it subsided so I was told to get out of the tub and she’d check how far dilated I was. When she examined me she had this look on her face that worried me for a second and then said ‘your baby’s head is right here, it’s time go get back into the tub and deliver her’. I couldn’t believe how fast this was all happening!

Back into the tub I went, my husband directly behind me soothing me with his words and breathing through each contraction with me. The midwife had a mirror for me so that I could see Alina as she came out. As each contraction came I was baring down with everything I had within me. For the whole labour I was breathing through and exhaling out noise, for the pushing I was silent, that’s what I remember. I remember this one contraction came and I looked right at the midwife and told her it burns!!! She said I know lovely, that’s because she’s coming out, give me one big push and that’s what I did! I gave one mighty push and out came Alina’s head! I’ll never forget that moment, seeing her beautiful head for the first time. Then with the next contraction out came her shoulders and then with one last push Alina had pushed off of me and was out into the water. That’s when her daddy reached over me into the water and scooped her up. He was crying and just looking from her to me and put her on my chest… That was the most delicious moment of all! Our lives had forever changed and we’d fallen so in love with our child and so much more in love with each other. I wish I could re-live that moment for the rest of my life! It was 3.41pm and our angel was born.

We’d gotten out of the tub and I’d lain down on the bed. I still had to deliver my placenta so I lay there with Alina while hubby and I were just looking at her and loving her. She started to cry and I had an urge to offer her my breast, when I did she took it straight away. There I was, laying on the bed with my baby in my arms, my husband by my side and feeding her straight away.

After I’d delivered my placenta we were taken into my room and I needed to be examined because I had a tear to my labia (how on earth), I didn’t have any tearing to my perineum which was great but my goodness the place I did tear was very sore. I got some stitches and was able to have a shower afterwards, which was so relaxing! I put my pj’s on and spent the night with my beautiful baby girl feeding, cuddling and loving her. It was amazing to bond with her just the two of us (dad’s aren’t allowed to stay over night).

We were discharged from hospital the next day as everything was going well and bub and I were healthy. It was so nice to be back in my own environment so soon, I really dislike hospitals and I didn’t like being away from my husband so it was lovely to be home and start the journey of life as a family!

For the past week we have been getting to know our beautiful girl, she is such a good baby. Breastfeeding is working really well for her and I, she feeds often and at first wasn’t sleeping for longer than 30mins to an hour but this week she’s decided that she loves to sleep and I am actually finding myself wanting her to wake up! I have had a few cries here and there, sleep deprivation and hormones are a b*tch but I’m taking every day as it comes. A lot has changed in a really short amount of time, my body has changed, no sleep, no one on one time with my man, no time for myself BUT I know I’m doing an amazing job! I keep finding myself staring at her and just being amazed at every part of her, the love is deep and ever lasting. I look forward to the future and watching this beautiful little soul flourish in life, I’m blessed to be her mother.

Love Emily x

Follow Emlily & Alina's journey @emily.and.alina