Nurturing the Fourth Trimester

I had a very special visitor in the clinic last week. A two week old baby girl (and her mamma of course).

I was privileged to have mamma trust me to provide her with specialist pregnancy massage during her first pregnancy two and half years ago and was honored that mamma returned for regular treatment throughout the duration of her second pregnancy. In fact, mamma even got her last pregnancy massage with me while she was in the early stages of labour at 38w and 3 days! (Luckily I didn’t have to step in as a birth attendant, and this mammas second child was born later in the afternoon) But I digress…

I was excited to have such a new visitor in the clinic. Mamma has been experiencing neck and shoulder stiffness from lifting, carrying, and nursing her infant. It is a common pain to be expected when you are caring for an infant, but by no means should a mamma “have to” put up with it. Mamma was optimistic that baby would be asleep during the treatment, and I suggested we “go with the flow”. If baby gave us half an hour for a treatment, great! Then we’d look at getting to 45 minutes and then the full hour. Just seeing how baby goes with being in a new environment I accommodated mum and baby as best I could. Through most of the treatment, baby wanted to be close to mum. I treated mum while she lay on her side and nursed her baby. Mum was able to relax, baby was able to feed, and I was able to treat the neck and shoulders with ease. Mamma even came back the following week, with her little baby in the carrier. This time, baby decided to sleep (with the help of a little white noise) and mamma was able to enjoy an hour long luxurious treatment, melting into the table and fully relaxing.

Some of the benefits of postpartum massage include:

  • Labour recovery, physical and mental exhaustion
  • Alleviating stress, anxiety and depression
  • Rebalancing postural changes and reducing pain
  • Aiding the repair of scar tissue from surgery due to cesarean birth
  • Providing relief from breastfeeding posture and mammary changes

In a postnatal massage, things don’t often go to plan. Mum may not be able to lie on her tummy for various reasons, such as discomfort from abdominal stitches following a cesarean, or soreness in the breasts. Or baby may decide that they want to cluster feed. The massage treatment can be performed side-lying so mum and baby can cuddle.

At By the Bay Therapies, we are passionate about empowering women to achieve exceptional health during pregnancy, and into motherhood. Are you ready to book your next treatment? Click here!

Looking at Life Through The Shit Tube

The other morning, I woke up looking at life through the Shit Tube. Allow me to explain…

I woke up, and it was cold “Winter is the worst”
Next up, breakfast “Ugh. Oatmeal again. Why is being healthy boring?”
Then, I attempted to get ready for work while wrangling a toddler. “Why can’t you just sit still so I can get you dressed and ready to go.”
When finally get in the car we are faced with traffic and road works on every street. “Who was the genius that thought doing all these road works at the same time was a great idea?”

When I finally got to work, I was fuming – nay seething with rage. It was 9am and I was in a foul mood.

And that’s when I realized.

I was looking at life through the Shit Tube. I was zoning in on all the mildly inconvenient and annoying things about my day rather than expanding my view and focusing on the positive.

Now this was a concept that was first introduced to me by my amazing business coach Elicia, so I cannot take all the credit for this description of the way we can look at life. It was one of the many business lessons I learned that can transfer to everyday life.

If we are always looking at life through a single lens and focused in on the negative, then everything will seem, well quite frankly – Shit.

If we remove the Shit Tube, and instead look at the world through eyes of Love, then life just might seem a bit different.
Instead of cold morning being the worst, I am grateful for warm clothes to keep me cozy.
Instead of despising oatmeal, I am grateful for nourishing food to fuel my body.
Instead of stressing of getting out the door, I am grateful for a healthy family.
Instead of road raging, I am grateful for the ability to travel.

With eyes of Love, I can see the positive. I can be thankful for the things that I have in my life.

When life gets you down, or feels monotonous or like you’re in a rut or if everything seems Shit, stop looking at life through the Shit Tube and put on your Love Glasses. I promise life will be a lot easier.

Belly Birth – Remy’s Birth Story

I am a proud belly birther.

When I was preparing for my birth, a cesarean was the absolute last thing I wanted to do.

However, as the day of Remy’s birth drew near, and I thought more and more about our options, I decided that if a cesarean was needed then I would go with the flow.

As it turned out, we had a cesarean. I told the doctors as they were getting the paperwork ready for the operation that I wanted it to be called a “surprise cesarean” rather than an emergency cesarean because, there was no emergency or life-threatening factors attached to the cesarean. The simple fact was my waters had broken hours ago and risk of infection was increasing, Remy was stuck, I was at 6cm and we were all exhausted and wanted him here already.

I was wheeled up the theatre, dosed up on drugs and waited for my baby to be born.

I had my favorite artist playing over the stereo, and I tuned into the music as the doctors did their thing.

I heard Remy’s cry and I teared up. He was finally here, and it was over. Nine months of waiting all brought down to a single moment. They bundled him up and handed him to us to hold while I was stitched up.

My baby was in my arms and that is all I needed. How he got here did not matter.

Having a cesarean is not an event it’s a journey. It is major surgery and takes time to recovery, physically and emotionally. There are days where I feel tenderness and pain around the scar. And there are days where I look at myself in the mirror and feel disgusted by my body. And then, there are days where I have freedom of movement and am proud of myself and my strength and my ability to birth my baby.

If you were to look at me nurturing, feeding, playing with, and loving my baby, you would never know the birth journey we had.  You would only see and happy mum and a thriving bub.

Be proud and stand strong, my fellow belly birthers . You are warrior women!

Welcoming Olivia – A Birth Story

Pregnancy Massage Practitioner Clare Houston, shares the story of birthing her second daughter, Olivia.

It is hard for me to believe but darling daughter #2 is turning 5 in two weeks. Olivia is strong-willed and passionate, and I cannot believe she will be in prep next year. With that in mind, I thought I would share Olivia’s birth story. Every birth story is unique, and I hope my story can help some other women who may be experiencing a similar situation.

I was desperate to have this baby to be out and, in the world. The pregnancy itself was good, the only “problem” was that she was tracking big. But with having a toddler who climbed all over me all day, pelvic instability which made moving in bed or even walking very hard, but I had done this once before so I could do it again.  I wanted her out as soon as possible. I was still overdue though when contractions started.

Eventually the hospital set a date to be induced, I was relieved to say the least. I was even starting to show signs of labour, which was great, it meant my body was doing what it was designed to do. This fact even helped me while talking to the insurance company about a recent bingle. While I was talking to them over the phone, I mentioned I was having a contraction and we didn’t pay a cent!

The day before the induction, at about 2am I felt the strongest pains I had felt yet and knew that this was the day. My partner Macgregor helped me to attach the TENS machine at home and we called the hospital. The contractions were about 3 mins apart. They suggested we come in.

We knew from attending our childbirth preparation class that the transition to hospital can slow contractions. Macgregor and I were confident that the contractions would return soon. The midwives set me up in the birth suite and of course, my contractions slowed. Half an hour later the midwives came back in and told me I wasn’t in labour and should go home.

I was livid! I trusted my body and knew the contractions would return.  For one of the few times in my life I stood my ground and said I would be coming back in 24 hours anyway.  I said “I am not leaving, can you break my waters and see what happens.” I was all but crying to get them to agree. I was planning to sit in the waiting room all day if need be. I couldn’t go home and stress dearest darling daughter #1 (she can be a worry wart) and mother-in-law had come in at 3am to look after her. And did I mention I was so done with this pregnancy!

So finally, after a staff change, they agreed and put in the cannula and attached the monitors, all “just in case”, then they broke my waters. The contractions did start to pick up again. I spent a lot of time on the Swiss ball, trying to find comfort in the waves.

I hit the point where I knew I needed to push, and it was about then they decided my contractions were not regular enough and they would start the drip to help them along. I was concerned about using the drip because during my previous birth I felt it was too intense and I had no chance to rest or catch my breath between contractions. But I was at the point where I wanted this baby out and knew I had to let go. In what felt like five minutes, Olivia was earthside and in my arms.

Because the midwives worked with me during the pushing stage, I was able to come away without tearing or any major issues. The midwives left me and Mac alone for a while to get acquainted with our little girl.

We were overjoyed and I was proud of myself for standing up and telling the midwifes and doctors what I wanted during the birth.

I hope that my birth story helps you to stand up and speak up for your needs in the delivery room. In the clinic, I hear so many stories where families did not have the birth they envisioned because they felt disempowered and unable to speak up for their needs.  And while I didn’t like giving birth and it was uncomfortable and painful, I know I did the best job I could, and you will too.

The 5 Facts You Must Know Before Your Labour

Pregnancy Massage Practitioner Clare Houston has birthed two beautiful babes, and in this blog, she shares her knowledge and what you must go into labour knowing.

Trust your body.

The human body is really quite amazing and you are too! It was designed to grow another human and to birth it. In saying this, empower yourself and get all the information you can. I found a really good book was Birth With Confidence, by Rhea Dempsey. Also know what was available at your hospital – what their timelines are, how long will they let you labour, are water births available.

A birth plan helps.

My sister laughed at me when I wrote one before both of my daughters were born, but it helped me sort out what I was comfortable with and what I was not. For example: I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of how some pain killers would affect the baby, so I put that in writing. Also, I wanted to avoid a C-section unless it was medically necessary. This gave me peace of mind, knowing the options available to me.

Labour is a positive feedback loop.

The body works continuously to maintain homeostasis, where the body continuously adjusts temperature, hormones and fluid levels to maintain equilibrium. This is achieved with feedback loops, negative and positive. A negative feedback loops work to reduce the initial stimulus, so if you are bleeding the body will send platelets to the area to aid clotting. A positive feedback loop amplifies the initial stimulus, so when labour begins baby pushes down on the cervix causing it to dilate, sending a message to the brain to release oxytocin, which then causes the smooth muscle of the uterus to contract causing the baby to push against the cervix again – and this will continue till the baby has been born and the placenta is out. For me, knowing this made it a little easier knowing my body was doing the right thing and it was normal.

Calm Birth courses are great

(or any other Child Praparation course)

It is not just for the mother-to-be but it can give great advice for birth partners too, and how they can help when they are thinking “Oh God, what did I do to her?!”

These courses also helped me understand the ebb and flow of contractions – they do not last forever and have a rhythm/flow to them. When I did the Calm Birth course for my first time, they had us hold a piece of ice for the approximate length of a contraction, then let go for the rest and then pick it up for the next contraction.

It was good to know that there is a natural break of sorts, and if you stay calm and focus on the breath, it gives you time. Your contractions can slow down or stop when you reach the hospital – this is due to leaving a familiar place and going somewhere unfamiliar and much colder than your home environment.

No one knows how things will progress.

You could have a beautiful home birth and love every second of it, or you might have complications that were not able to be detected before you got to the hospital. Everybody has a different story and experience. Listen to those around you if you want to, but don’t think what happens to them will happen to you.

And know we are here for massages when you need, (wink).

If you would like more information or advice to see if Pregnancy Massage is right for you, contact us or book your next appointment now!