Tag: pregnancy

The Truth About Labour – The Placenta

Often, there is so much information to take in with regards to labour, that many people don’t know the facts from the falsehoods.  Here is the truth about: The Placenta.

The Placenta

Delivery of the placenta is very easy, and you are largely uninvolved with this part of the delivery. You will most likely be focused on your baby, without realizing what is going on around you.

(more…)

The Truth About Labour – Your Birth Plan

Often, there is so much information to take in with regards to labour, that many people don’t know the facts from the falsehoods.  Here is the truth about: Your Birth Plan.

Your Birth Plan

Your birth plan can change.  It doesn’t happen often, but it is always possible that your birth plan may need to change and your original ideas may not go according to plan. You, therefore, need to be prepared for this. Complications can, and do, happen. In order to be better prepared for this, it is important to go in with an open-mind. By all means, have a birth plan in place and know what you want, but remember that anything can happen.

It is also important that you have a trusting relationship with your Obstetrician or Midwife and believe that they want the best for you, and will help you make decisions in the interest of you and your unborn baby. Remember that although you may want to deliver in a specific way with specific conditions, at the end of the day, the most important thing is that both you, and your baby, are safe, healthy and happy.

plan

 

A New Method for Improved IVF Outcomes

The latest research in the world of infertility is how scratching the endometrium (the lining of the womb) in the few weeks prior to undergoing IVF treatment can increase pregnancy rates to as much as 49%.  This is a massive jump from the usual expected 29% success rate for the majority of IVF cases.

It is found that this scratching also increases the live birth rate from around 23% to 42%.

The concept is still under trial, however, and is not currently being routinely practiced – however, it seems that this is the route that most IVF clinics will follow.

It is unclear why endometrial scratching works, however it is thought that it may increase white blood cells in the area, thereby increasing the amount of growth factor in the area and controlling the implantation of the embryos.  Another thought is that it may result in gene switching – some scientists speculate that genes responsible for the embryo implantation are not ‘switched on’ at the right time, and that perhaps endometrial scratching can assist with this.

Check The Telegraph and Create Health for more information.

ivf

The Truth Behind Labour – Back Pain

Often, there is so much information to take in with regards to labour, that many people don’t know the facts from the falsehoods.  Here is the truth about: Back Labour.

Back Labour

Many women experience intense lower back pain when in labour.  Often it can be a constant ache, or it can come and go.  ‘Back Labour’ is usually due to your baby’s head pushing against the sacrum and lower back.  It is also thought to occasionally be caused by a baby in the ‘occipito-posterior position’, in other words, when baby is facing the stomach as opposed to the back.

A comparison of the most common head positions a baby may present with.
A comparison of the most common head positions a baby may present with.

Most women don’t describe back labour as being extremely painful; it is more often described as an intense ache.  However, if it is constant pain, it is more difficult to ignore.  Women can try prevent having back labour during their pregnancy by regularly performing pelvic tilt exercises, sitting on a birthing ball often, and keeping her knees lower than her hips when sitting during the day – these exercises are to try and prevent the baby from taking on an occipito-posterior position.

There are a few ways that are thought to help ease the pain of back labour.  Kneeling on all fours is found to be of big help, because gravity moves the baby’s head off the lower back and sacrum, therefore decreasing the discomfort.  Bouncing on a birthing ball and performing pelvic tilt exercises also helps minimize the pressure in your back.  Massage of the lower back helps many women, so make sure you have a loved one or doula present to help with this – counter-pressure on the lower back seems to help relieve the pain in a big way.  You could try massage with a tennis ball against the lower back during or between contractions.  Warmth also helps the pain, so try get into a warm bath or shower, or use a hot water bottle on your lower back.

How Animals Give Birth

Here’s some interesting animals and how they give birth.

1. Horses

Horses are pregnant for about 11 months.  They usually ‘foal’ at night and it can take anywhere from 30 minutes up to a few hours for them to give birth.  When delivery is imminent, she will become restless and paw at the ground while lying down and getting up repeatedly.  The foal is usually born with it’s nose and front hooves first.

horse12.  Seahorses

The male seahorse carries the pregnancy (why wasn’t I born a seahorse?) and gestation usually lasts between 4 and 6 weeks.  They can release between 100 and 1000 young in one delivery, with the help of muscular contractions.  This usually occurs at night.  The young aren’t nurtured after birth, and go it alone from the start.

seahorse3.  Sharks

Some sharks lay eggs, some give birth to live young and some carry the eggs inside their bodies until they hatch.  Most sharks are ovoviviparous which means they carry the eggs inside their bodies, and give birth to live young.  Some shark pups display cannibalism by either eating the other eggs or the other embryos in the womb.  They give birth in sheltered areas, after being pregnant for around 18 months.

helpful-shark4.  Elephants

Elephants are pregnant for almost two years, and calves weigh about 120kg at birth – usually one calf for each pregnancy.  The calf will drop 2-3 feet in birth, but is cushioned by the amniotic sac that then bursts when it hits the floor.  Often, the mother will kick the calf in an effort to help it move out of the sac and avoid suffocation. Watch this.

elephant5.  Kangaroos

Once an egg is fertilised, the neonate emerges after about 33 days.  It is blind, hairless and only a few centimetres long.  It’s hindlegs are stumps, and it has to use it’s forelegs to claw it’s way through the mother’s thick hair to find the pouch (this takes about 5 minutes).  Once in the pouch, it fastens onto a teat and starts to feed.  This joey grows for about 190 days before it is ready to emerge.  It usually permanently leaves the pouch after 235 days, once it feels safe.

kangaroo

5 Things You Probably Don’t Know about Infertility

Infertility is one of those things that no one really speaks about – there is a big taboo attached to it, and I truly wish this wasn’t the case.  It is estimated that around 1 in 10 couples struggle with infertility, however, it could be even more common than this as many people don’t seek help.  Here is a list of things you probably didn’t know about infertility.

1.  Being overweight can affect your chances of falling pregnant.

Obese or overweight women have a lower chance of falling pregnant than women of a healthy weight.  Overweight and obese women are likely to take longer than a year to fall pregnant.

2.  Smoking has a link to infertility.

Smoking is believed to cause tubal and cervical changes, it is also attributed to early ovarian aging and miscarriages.  In men, smoking damages sperm – making them less likely to fertilize an egg.  The effects of smoking on your fertility can last for up to 3 months, if not longer.

3.  Contrary to popular belief, being on the pill will not affect your fertility in the future.

The pill is a reversible birth control method, and the effects are not long-lasting – therefore, they won’t affect your future fertility.  Even if you’ve used the pill for years, ovulation will start again within a few months after stopping the pill.  The pill is just a synthetic version of the hormones already produced by your body

4.  Male versus Female

It is often thought that infertility is mostly attributable to female factors.  This is not necessarily true, and more often than not, infertility is caused by contributory factors from both the male and the female in the relationship.

5. Secondary InfertilitySecondary infertility refers to a couple who have one child together, and then struggle to fall pregnant again.  Secondary infertility is more common than primary infertility (struggling to fall pregnant for the first time).  The rule of thumb for seeking a medical opinion for possible infertility is to give yourself a year trying to conceive if you are under 35 years of age, and 6 months of trying to conceive if you are over 35 years of age.  After these time periods have passed, it’s best to get help.

My Tips for a Successful Birth

1.  Attend antenatal education classes.  The lessons learnt here are invaluable as you will learn everything you need to know about pregnancy, labour and childbirth.  It also provides an arena for you to ask questions and receive immediate feedback.  Most antenatal classes are ‘couples’ classes so that your partner can feel involved and learn about the process too.

2.  Follow a healthy diet, which is proven to lessen the incidence of high-risk pregnancies.  Eating well can also prevent pregnancy symptoms such as morning sickness.  Take pregnancy-appropriate supplements and vitamins to guarantee you are well nourished and to ensure your baby is developing appropriately too.

3.  Perform appropriate exercises during pregnancy.  Pilates is a great example of beneficial exercise as it can help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles to help during childbirth.  Exercising in water provides gravity-free resistance with less risk of injury on joints and muscles, while increasing muscle tone, your strength and your flexibility.

4.  Go for regular check-ups with your gynae or midwife to identify any problems and to make sure baby is growing well.  This will help you feel reassured when it’s time for baby to arrive.

5.  Develop your own birth plan.  Your birth plan should outline everything you want and need out of birth and be sure to show this to your healthcare provider.  Your birth plan should cover all aspects, such as whether you want a medication-free birth, what type of birth you’d like, even what music you want playing when you give birth.  Remember, however, that not all births go according to plan – so be prepared to alter your birth plan if required.

6.  Bond with your baby and establish a relationship with your baby, before you have given birth.  Speak to baby, get your partner to give gentle massages, play music for your baby.

7.  Be prepared in advanced.  Have baby’s room ready, and be sure to have all the necessary equipment you’ll need for a newborn.  Pack your hospital bag in advance.  Being prepared will help you feel more calm as your labour nears, and not having a mad rush at the end of your pregnancy is essential to a calm and stress-free experience.

8.  Choose the birth option that suits you best, be it home birth, hospital birth, water birth, vaginal delivery or a caesarean section.  Research all the different types of birth and decide which one you are most comfortable with.  Be informed and make your own decision without being influenced by others.

9.  If you decide on a vaginal delivery, be sure to perform perineal massage to reduce the risk of episiotomy or tearing.  You should also practice Kegel exercises.  These activities will help increase elasticity as well as strengthen and tone the perineum for childbirth.

10.  Formulate your own positive expectations regarding birth.  Don’t expect pain, as you will then experience pain.  Dreading the idea of childbirth is sure to contribute to a negative experience.  Recognize birth as the welcoming of a beautiful and joyous addition into your life.

11.  Have a support person with you on the big day.  Whether your partner, a family member or even a doula, don’t labour alone.  Knowing you have someone to support you will help you relax and feel more confident.

12.  There are a variety of techniques to use during labour to make it easier and more manageable.  Consider massage, aromatherapy, and music therapy to help relax you.   A calm, quiet environment will help you feel more in control.  Water acts as a powerful pain management method.  Climbing into the bath once you’re in the active phase of labour (around 4-5cm dilated) will help greatly with your contractions.

13.  Consider different birthing techniques to help you during labour.  Hypnobirthing is a fairly new concept using active birthing, which alters the way in which you view birth.  For example, you view pain as ‘pressure’ and contractions as ‘waves’.  You allow your body to take over the process of birth.  Waterbirth is becoming more and more popular and provides a quiet, serene atmosphere for your baby to be born into.

14.  Don’t compare yourself to others.  Everyone is free to make their own choices, and everyone has different experiences of pregnancy, labour and birth.  Guilt is commonplace with pregnant women.  The important thing is to do what makes you happy and comfortable.  Try not to question your own decisions.

15.  Most importantly, believe in yourself.  Know that you can birth successfully.  Have a positive attitude.  You have essentially had nine months to prepare for the big day.  You can do it!