Saturday, 7 June 2014

Birth and beyond

At first I wasn't sure how to approach the writing of this blog, so I have decided to release this series at the same time we focus on these topics in CrossFit Mummas, and at the one year mark of my beautiful daughters HBAC.
There is no script when it comes to birth, you can read 100 stories and not experience anything even closely resembling one of them! The main points I would like to discuss are 
• due dates
• how to avoid a c sect, and
• positive birth experiences
I am no expert on birth however having experienced both a traumatic emergency cesarean and a healing home vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) there are some things I believe all women should hear.
The human gestation period is 37-42 weeks, remember that an Estimated Due Date is not an expiration date. Please find more information on how to avoid an induction HERE I went into pre labour with River about 4days prior to the EDD and had him delivered on the very date! I went in to labour with Raine about 4days after. It's very hard to "go over" especially with everyone's obsession about how far along you are and at the exact 12week mark you must announce the pregnancy and at exactly 21weeks you must stop exercising on your back or you will cut off all the blood supply to your baby and at exactly 40weeks you must be induced because your baby will get too big! My advice is to tell a few people the EDD and everyone else can know a possible month.

Now how do we avoid an unwanted cesarean? The odds seem stacked against us when we look at the current rates in local hospitals...we appear doomed as we hand in our birth plan to the midwife after having to highlight the text requesting no unnecessary medical interventions...when birth is a medical process how can we find the support to achieve not only a natural birth but a positive birth experience?
First of all you need to do some research.
Where do you want to give birth? There is no shame in desiring a home birth and there is no shame in desiring the luxe birthing suite at the most expensive hospital. Really ask yourself what you want and need. If you have a medical condition you may need some extra hands on deck, if you and bub are healthy you may not need as much as you think. Turns out for me I really needed to be in my own space with carers that knew me well and empowered me. 
Make sure your birth partner/s are as well informed as you are. Focus on optimal foetal positioning. Keep your weight gain on the lower side and keep active throughout the gestational period. Have several action plans. Visualise. Read positive stories and talk about what you want. Watch videos not stupid tv shows. YouTube homebirths/calm birth. Do not let anyone swamp you with their own stories or tell you you will "scream for that epidural". Of course pushing a baby out of your vagina hurts but we have these lovely hormones that help us to give birth and to feel good. Some women even orgasm! My opinion here is that a CrossFit mentality, expect the unexpected and to push our bodies daily, makes us awesome birthing goddesses (though I believe every women should be treated as such).
There are a few extra guidelines, find a highly qualified midwife/ob who will share their statistics with you. If you do exercise please see a trainer who is very qualified and one who has actually been pregnant or trained through pregnancy. I know very few trainers that actually trained through pregnancy but the ones that have really know their shit. Same goes with a yoga teacher or Pilates instructor. Even further with your chiropractor or other choice of body care. The idea is to build a team around you that will believe in you and support your birthing choice. I cannot stress how phenomenal my photographer and sister were during my journey and most especially during the birth of Raine. And I probably had the most beautiful and empathetic man by my side. Both pregnancies I had very invested and involved partners, get your partner to be that guy!

Finally you need to learn to block out other people's projections and stories. I had some very negative women try to belittle me and scare me during Rivers pregnancy, I also had some well meaning women project their unhappy experiences onto me. The worst I encountered was the GP who asked "who have you permission to attempt a vaginal birth?!" When I was pregnant with Raine. My belief is yoga, meditation and visualisation can help you achieve your perfect birth. Things can go wrong but providing you are low-risk and have an experienced support team there is no reason why even a cesarean has to be an unpleasant experience.
For the best most positive stories
Top Tips:
Have your birth plan
Delay cord clamping 
Avoid intervention
Get to know Ina May Gaskin
Breastfeed within the first hour
Encapsulate your placenta

Rest your goddess self post birth (have your baby sleep with you skin to skin) allow visitors to bring you food and change baby, clean your home and tell you that you look beautiful. Post partum you may need help getting to the toilet and bathing. My sister Alex was a god send after my c sect...she helped me have my first shower giggling at my funny jelly belly and being careful with my scar. I will never forget her kindness then, when I felt so helpless and alone. And everyone's humor at my peeing in a bucket after having Raine made me feel ok about it! 
If you are having your second, involve your first born...get them excited about the new arrival and if they don't often stay with relatives don't ship them off without a trial run. We had 4+ people on call to help with River and it turned out that his dad was the only one he wanted and we were lucky he was home! 
Prepare your meals, assign a friend or relative to do your washing, HOG your baby to your chest because you DID it! Congratulations, it's time for bonding and breastfeeding on demand!
Breastfeeding is hard, join the Australian Breastfeeding Association prior to giving birth. Have the number by your bed to call as needed. Watch women feed their babies. Look at the babies latch, get comfortable with it. Don't decide how long you're going to Breastfeed just decide to do it. Take it day by day. Talk about it. See a lactation consultant. Establish feeding before you leave the hospital. I've been breastfeeding for three years and I love it! There have been times I hated it, times I wish for some breathing room...through nipple shields and pumping, mastitis and thrush, cracked nipples and poor latch....and we survived. It gets easier, it is handy, and damn it is healthy! Create healthy little CrossFitters....cows milk belongs to calves.

Thanks for reading this giant blog. Thankyou for the Happy Birthdays sung to Raine. Thankyou to the people that have supported us from her conception and through her first year. So much love, so much peace.