What makes a mama a true goddess? In my humble opinion a mama is not a goddess because she was able to have an all natural unmedicated birth. And, a mama is not a goddess just because she breastfeeds her baby. While these are wonderful, healthy choices they are just that... "choices".
I believe a mama is a true goddess when she makes informed choices relating to her body, her birth and her baby and when her choices are supported by science, psychology, medicine, (both eastern & western), instinct and love. I believe a mama is a true goddess when she accepts, (without self-judgement, self-recrimination or feelings of inadequacy or shame), her own body and birth when things don't go as planned. And, above all, a mama is a true goddess when she respects and supports other mamas whose choices differ from her own
At the end of the day the objective is to bring a healthy new soul into the world. Giving birth is simply the first step into the very sacred sisterhood of motherhood. Almost daily a mother will find herself confronted with situations when she may be tempted to judge and shame herself or another mother. Social media, replete with images of mamas that look like they’ve just stepped off the red carpet while breastfeeding a newborn, can quickly become a trigger for guilt, criticism and shame. This motherhood stuff is tough enough! Mamas must strip away the internal and external judgement and respect & support one another.
Let's lift each other up through education, compassion and respect. As that old African proverb goes...It take a village to raise a child. Let's create a village of true mama goddesses and happy and healthy children.
From my heart to yours,
Fact: We are the only mammals that routinely sever the umbilical cord as soon as our babies are born.
What is OCC? When your baby is born approximately 1/3 of your baby's blood is outside your baby's body. That blood is still pulsating through your baby's umbilical cord and the placenta. This blood is rich in iron and oxygenated red blood cells, rich in immune supporting white blood cells and rich in stem cells. When that blood has had a chance to travel back into your baby's body it is the optimal time to clamp and cut your baby's umbilical cord.
How long does it take? Well, that varies; however, on average it takes at least 90 seconds, but generally about 3-5 minutes for most of your baby's blood to return to your baby's body. That said, some opt to wait until the placenta has been fully delivered before severing the cord. A simple guideline is to "wait for white". Wait for your baby's umbilical cord to turn limp and white.
What are the benefits? There are immediate and long term benefits for waiting to sever your baby's umbilical cord. Three that stand out for me are:
As always, I encourage you to do your own research. An educated birth is an empowered birth. When we know better we do better.
From my heart to yours...
Here are just a few resources to start with:
When a birthing woman feels safe and supported, when she feels uninhibited and free to respond to her body, when she is undisturbed and unmedicated, then the innate wisdom of her mammalian body takes over and orchestrates a powerful, yet delicate cocktail of birthing hormones.
A birthing woman’s hormones gradually build up during the birth process and peak as her placenta is delivered and the woman holds her baby in her arms and initiates breastfeeding.
So, let’s talk about these miraculous hormones...
First there is Estrogen and Progesterone….Basically these hormones initiate labour. They coordinate the uterine contractions and activate natural painkilling pathways in the brain and spinal cord.
Then there are the Beta-Endorphins-...These hormones primarily serve as natural opiates- natural painkillers.
Then there are Catecholamines or Epinephrine and Norepinephrine...These hormones kick in toward the end of the birthing process stimulating the FETAL EJECTION REFLUX and giving the birthing woman extra strength and energy to push.
Then there is Prolactin- often referred to as the mothering hormone. Prolactin prepares a woman’s breasts for lactation (breastfeeding). Prolactin rises sharply in the moments after a woman gives birth getting her ready to nourish her baby.
And, I saved the best to last …Oxytocin- In addition to being the most powerful contraction causing hormone, oxytocin is often referred to as the love hormone. We see oxytocin levels rise during meaningful human connection, love making, birth and breastfeeding. After birth, skin-to-skin contact and the initiation of breastfeeding produce high levels of oxytocin in the mother and her baby to facilitate initial bonding.
Now, this is a very simplified explanation of the birth hormones. I strongly encourage you to look into the work of obstetricians Michel Odent and Sarah J. Buckley on undisturbed physiological birth and the hormones of birth.
Here's the bottom line...Mother Nature is smart. She wants you and your baby to be safe. So, labour and birth happen best when you feel you’re in a calm and private place—a place where you feel safe, protected and relaxed. Often the care a woman gets around the time of labour and birth may be stressful. For example, bright lights, noise, medical equipment, frequent vaginal exams, and people coming in and out of the room can be pretty stressful. Your body may “view” these things as threats. If your body feels that you’re not in a safe place, your birth hormones may not work very well and labour may slow or even stop. So, no matter where you give birth, it is important to mitigate any potential stress. Choose where you give birth and whom will be in attendance wisely. Your body knows how to give birth; it just needs to be allowed to do so in peace.
From my heart to yours🙏
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response.”
~ Dr. Viktor Frankl
I will never sugarcoat it...having an unmediated, physiological birth can often be quite painful. Yup, I said it...painful. That said, no woman should ever suffer from the pain of childbirth. Pain and suffering are often thought of as synonymous, but they’re not. There are distinct differences between pain and suffering -especially in childbirth. Basically, pain may or may not cause suffering.
Pain, by definition, is an unpleasant physical sensation that is transmitted through the central nervous system to your brain. Suffering, however, is the response to pain- it’s your thoughts, your judgements, your beliefs, and the stories you tell yourself about the pain. Suffering results from mental and emotional responses to pain. Learning how to effectively respond to the pain will allow you to cope so that you need not suffer.
So, how does one effectively respond to the pain of childbirth?
#1 Know that the pain associated with childbirth is unique. It’s not like the pain of breaking a leg. The pain of childbirth is a side effect of a normal physiological process. A process that is finite, that comes to an end, and has a wonderful outcome.
#2 Fully understand why contractions hurt and that each contraction brings you closer to meeting your baby. That knowledge alone can often see you through the birthing process.
#3 Learn natural comfort measures and all you can about the birthing process.
#4 Ensure that you will be lovingly cared for in a peaceful, comfortable and safe environment where you will feel completely uninhibited and free to move in response to your body.
Bottom line… Your response to the pain is where you have power. When a birthing woman becomes overwhelmed by the pain, feels helpless, or has feelings of being completely out of control that is when pain turns into suffering. And, no woman should ever suffer from the pain of childbirth.
When a birthing woman knows ways to effectively respond to the pain of childbirth she doesn’t suffer- she copes.
From my heart to yours,
If you've ever taken a prenatal class with me you know that I am a huge advocate of informed choice. I strongly believe that an educated birth is an empowered birth.
I often refer to the acronym BRAIN as a metric to assess your birth choices:
B-What are the BENEFITS?
R-What are the RISKS?
A- Are there ALTERNATIVES?
I -Use your INTUITION
N- What would happen if I do NOTHING?
Well, one of the more major choices you will need to make when getting ready to bring your baby into the world is whether or not to have a medicated birth. And, in particular, whether or not to have an epidural. Currently in Canada, about 60% of women choose to have an epidural. With so many women opting for an epidural you might assume that epidurals are completely benign. Well, you would be wrong.
Let's start with a simple description of an epidural. An epidural is without a doubt an effective method of pain relief. The actual anesthesia is most commonly a combination of a narcotic, (usually an opioid like fentanyl), and a local anesthetic that will numb the nerves in the uterus and cervix, but will also numb the entire lower part of your body.
Generally, there are two different types of epidurals: a standard epidural and a “walking” epidural. Now, a “walking” epidural is really a misnomer. The reality is that you will likely be confined to your bed, but it will allow for more freedom to move in bed. The primary advantage of a walking epidural is that you will be able to participate more actively in the 2nd stage of labour “the pushing stage”.The primary disadvantage of a walking epidural is that it doesn’t provide as much pain relief.
How and when is an epidural administered? Typically the epidural will be given when your cervix is dilated to 4-5 centimetres. An anesthesiologist will ask you to either sit up in bed or lay on your side and will then inject a local anesthesia into your lower back to numb the area. Then a very thin catheter is placed into the space surrounding the spinal nerves. The medication will then be delivered through the catheter.
What are the Benefits? Quite simply the key advantage of an epidural is that it will reduce or eliminate the pain of childbirth. As Penny Simkin, childbirth educator and author of the best selling book,:The Birth Partner, makes clear, "When it comes to coping with childbirth, there is a difference between pain and suffering." There is no way to sugarcoat it...childbirth is painful. That said, there is no need to suffer. If you are coping well with each contraction, you may not want an epidural; however, if your pain crosses the threshold to suffering you may want to consider an epidural-especially if you’ve been labouring for a long time. An epidural will allow you to rest and relax and may improve your overall satisfaction with your birth experience.
Now, what are the Risks or Side Effects? Some women experience fevers, headaches, backaches, nausea and difficulty urinating. In rare cases, an epidural can trigger a seizure or cause temporary or permanent nerve damage.
An epidural may cause your blood pressure to suddenly drop, which may inhibit adequate blood flow to your baby, requiring further medical interventions.
Depending on the type of epidural you choose, the 2nd stage of labour, the "pushing stage", may be difficult and additional interventions such as forceps or vacuum extraction may be needed and in certain cases a caesarean section may be necessary.
An epidural often causes your labour to slow down which will likely lead to a cascade of other medical interventions to augment or speed up your labour.
An epidural WILL absolutely interfere with the production of the natural birthing hormones. For more information on the natural birthing hormones I would highly recommend reading Dr. Sarah J. Buckley’s book, Gentle Birth Gentle Mothering.
And, lastly, you may be wondering if an epidural can effect your baby. Well, although the research is ambiguous, most studies suggest that while in-utero, your baby might become lethargic and have trouble getting into position for delivery. Additionally, epidurals have been known to cause respiratory depression and decreased fetal heart rate. And, lastly, studies suggest that epidurals may have an effect on how well your baby is able to breastfeed.
Are there alternatives to having an epidural? Absolutely! Yes, there are many medical and natural alternatives. I will have to write another post on the alternatives soon:)
So, most importantly, trust your Intuition and know that the choice whether or not to have an epidural is yours and yours alone to make.
From my heart to yours,