Category Archives: Intensity

Respecting the 4th trimester and your postpartum body …

Respecting your body in the 4th trimester …. we read so much about the 1st, 2nd & 3rd trimesters of what to expect … however have you considered the 4th trimester and what YOU need to have in place to support you?
Your body is expected to do this amazing feat … to feed your baby, to do nights which might be very disturbed … to get out there and get back in shape (hey what???) yup the pressure women place on themselves that they need to lose the baby weight and get back into those pre-pregnancy jeans asap is immense.

In my role as a doula and pregnancy & postpartum yoga teacher … I have heard some scary stuff … I need to get back to where I was pre-pregnancy … I need to start running …. STOP 

Consider this … your body has just worked exceptionally hard for 9 months nurturing & nourishing a baby … your pelvic floor has carried your growing baby(ies) … you have these amazing hormones whizzing around your body … why do you have to jump back onto the hamster wheel?

I see ladies come along to class struggling with discomfort in their pelvis, pain in their lower backs, misaligned pelvises, there pelvic floor feels like it is non-existent, they haven’t eaten breakfast or been able to have a hot drink … they are struggling from having had a c-section … remember this is major abdominal surgery that can take quite a while to heal from … you want to feel that what you are engaging in is nurturing and nourishing you … yes there will come a point when you feel that you can start that “buggy fit” class and that you are ready …. but what happens x number of months, years down the road when you are suffering with pelvic leakage, prolapse …. this is the time to gently reconnect with your body, to be gentle and learn what it can do and what it needs … nurture and nourish your pelvic floor ready for your next baby or for the next stage of your journey.  Just because x or y says you should do it doesn’t mean it’s right for you at this moment … take the space to nurture yourself until your baby is at least 6 months … respect your body, respect the amazing concoction of hormones.  

There are many cultures who honour the postpartum woman … with periods of lying in … special foods, herbs, treatments to keep the body warm and nourished, massage … sounds divine … I so wish when I had had my babies that I had had this … after trying to get up and out after having an amazing VBAC birth with our second baby I ended up in the local supermarket bumping into someone who had only that morning opened the email to say “M had arrived earth side … welcome & all were well and doing fine” … imagine the shock on her face to see me coming through the doors … she was catching flies … I must add that I struggled to do what I needed to do and ended up going home and doing an online shop and promising myself that I was going to be gentle … it was too soon and too much … I ended up online shopping and taking a couple of weeks to myself … I learnt the hard way … and I chat about this a lot in class … but again social expectations are that we should be bouncing back and up at it … and also the pressure we put ourselves under.  

Take the six weeks to connect with your baby, start those gentle breaths we connect with in class … reconnect with your abdominal muscles and pelvic floor, respect your body, your baby but ultimately respect YOURSELF … you are enough and you do not need to be super woman … your are nourishing & nurturing yourself and a baby … enjoy … have those pyjama days, snuggle with your baby, don’t pack your days running form an activity in the morning, lunch with a, b & c and then another activity in the afternoon.  Pace yourself … have space to spend time at home … to enjoy your baby … connect to what your body needs … 

————-

Claire runs Well Woman Happy Baby classes … she is based in Northampton from The Space in Boothville. www.rippleeffectyoga.co.uk  She has over 15 years of supporting women and is passionate about pregnancy and the postpartum period.  The classes are a combination of postnatal mummy yoga to realign and reconnect, baby massage & baby yoga plus a whole host of different techniques to support you and your baby.  There is a always a cuppa and some treat  that is created by Claire … plus the amazing support of those in class with you.  Classes are kept to a maximum of 4 mummies and babies.  Very bespoke to you and your little one.  
Claire encouragés you to listen to your baby, to journey together and if you need to baby wear in class she will adapt the class to facilitate this and it might just surprise you that you will do a relaxation with your baby fast asleep on your chest and it will be the most amazing experience … come and explore but be prepared to be here for a good few months … so build this into your postpartum care budget … it will be money well spent on you both.  Happy mummy, happy baby = happy daddy.

The ladies and their babies who come along really benefit from these amazing classes … 

“I found these classes invaluable my pelvic floor took a real hammering in labour and I have journey for 7 months working really hard to gain stability, balance and strength back.  I couldn’t have done that without your classes …. thank you I am very grateful!”

“I find the WWHB invaluable! And H loves them!”

“Please don’t stop ….. the progression from pregnancy yoga to WWHB was fab for us, J loved it and invaluable for me taking those first steps into mummy-life xx”

“Definitely keep them, I loved them with Z and N!”

“These sessions have been so important to me! I love them and have had a welcoming and safe place to come every week. I tell everyone I meet!”

“I can’t wait to have another baby just so I can come back to you Claire!”

 

Sacred Pregnancy … raw, emotional and a journey everyone should undertake (if they are ready)

IMG_1350   IMG_4246

So for a few months I have been busy beavering away with a couple of online courses … Sacred Pregnancy so that I can offer 8 week mama classes, 4 week couple classes and 2 day mini retreats plus postpartum services.  I have loved every aspect of it even if it has challenged me at times and trying to combine studying with running my own business, looking after my own tribe and everything else that needs your attention has had its moments.  .

But then I decided that I would go on Retreat and spend 6 days in the depths of Snowdonia at Cae Mabon and delve into me … my god did I know what I was trying to undertake … probably not but the layers had to be peeled away and stripped back to the bare bones.  I knew it wasn’t going to be a pretty sight but I wasn’t on a holiday I was on a journey of self discovery and sisterhood.  Boy I got that in heaps!!

edit-5748 - Version 2

Sacred Pregnancy for me has been like coming home … it calls to me … actually it shouts to me … so much that I would be stupid to ignore it … there are some wonderful aspects that I have just loved and others that have challenged me but I have been determined to overcome them, embrace them and find me.

This journey is about finding you and the most amazing Sisterhood! You have to be ready to face this … it’s heartbreaking, honest and SAFE! Safe? …. as in the space that is created by the community of sacred women and the facilitators.

My SP journey started online with Sacred Pregnancy … this challenged me with the artwork … I am not an artist but I decided that I could do this … take my time and meet every task. I had a few family challenges along the way but wow … just WOW! I thought I had worked through so much especially the birth of our first … but low and behold the first day on the live retreat completely floored me and when we introduced ourselves, who we were, our birth stories, I couldn’t quite believe how emotional I was and how raw it felt, our oldest recently turned 14 so I think it was closely linked to this …

The first day was very emotional … I knew what was coming but it didn’t prepare me … I was on the most amazing rollercoaster that was phenomenal. So on day 3 after the intro, the releasing … I felt so at peace and there was a sense of serenity that just washed over me. It was like unpeeling layers and I was revealing me … the real me … where had I been? I was buried under layers and layers – no actually years of being teacher, wife, mummy and finally I found ME!

IMG_4278 - Version 2

What was my highlight? Well there were quite a few …. if you can imagine a group of women celebrating life, then think out of the box … it was awesome … but for me it was the Roundhouse dance.

We were asked to dance solo in the Roundhouse with the fire lit. It was amazing. It’s been several years since I have done any performance dance and I was a little nervous. Holding back until the very end, nervous about the music Anni would choose for me … but I should have believed in the Universe …

edit-5482

Photo:  Josie

It was amazing … I felt free … I didn’t have any inhibitions and loved every minute listening intuitively to the music, moving as my body wanted to … interacting with the rhythm, lyrics, setting the mood for the dance.   Anni choose Eva Cassidy’s version of Time after Time and this was perfect. I really wish it had been videoed as I could remember certain movements but not the whole or the music! One of the ladies on retreat asked if I had done professional dance! Wow that was awesome … I was a gymnast until 22 years old and it’s been over 20 years since I really danced properly but I loved every single minute and am going to build it in that I dance every day!
What an amazing experience. I can’t believe I was so resistant to doing this when I was on the online course. I kept putting it off and off! Never again!

The live retreat was so much more … exploring, fighting, resistance, give and finally acceptance for who I AM!

edit-5440

I so loved this journey and can’t wait to support other women in their journeys … to finding themselves. It’s so powerful and at times so overwhelming that I did wonder if I would survive. I had a couple of nights that were disturbed (my apologies to my room mates!)

IMG_4247

but I felt so serene on day 3 and everything seemed to come together. I loved the honoring day … it was magical and I so miss Cae Mabon … and the beautiful Sisters I met and befriended. I know I am not always easy to get on with but there was a real connection with some beautiful women. Thank you for being there for me!

I can’t wait to share this wonderful journey with the women who wish to connect with themselves and their babies … strip away the layers and find the real you before you embark on the journey from maiden to motherhood and as a couple to see each couple find their roots so that they can build on this as they move from being a couple to a family.  It’s truly Sacred and to be Honoured!

Photos courtesy of:

Josie Gritten – https://www.facebook.com/pages/True-Image-Photography-by-Josie-Gritten/146962578671945

Jakob  – http://www.jakobgoldstein.net

& personal photos of Claire

 

My beautiful VBAC baby is 8 today

So Matti is 8 today … ohh my I am smiling & crying as I remember the day he arrived earth side and it was truly amazing for both myself and my husband.  So in celebration of a wonderful little boy here’s his story and how it empowered me to believe that anything is possible.

Claire’s Caesarean

With Imogene I went into labour on the 19th April 2000, Grand Prix day in Northampton which my husband had tickets for!! You can imagine the rest!!

5am I had a show and had been advised due to a persisitent rash that as soon as anything happened I was to go into hospital immeadiately. Like a good little girl I did and so started a cascade of intervention from pessaries, to pethidine to oxytocin & eventual c-section for what we thought was failure to progress but was in fact heart rate decelerations not just for baby but for me too. I had been going for 41+ hours and dilated to 1½cms maximum.

It took 5 years to even think about another baby becasue I was so frightened that I would have the same experience and that I would be treated like I had then. But empowerment is certainly a friend indeed.

Claire’s VBAC

I started to write this just after Matthieu had arrived but found it very difficult as I was so elated and excited but also shocked that I had had the birth experience I had. Matthieu will be 4 months in a few weeks and I am due to return to work, and feel that now I can do his birth justice and lay to rest the feelings of despair and failure I had experienced during my first birth experience.

I had never contemplated having another baby, but I became so engrossed in massage for pregnancy & labour & ultimately babies, that a pathway emerged that felt very natural to follow, almost as if it was my destiny to put right the pain, desolation and the sense of failing I had carried with me for 5 years. My pathway led to the door of Michel Odent and Liliana Lammars where I undertook their Paramana course to embark on the beautiful journey of becoming a birth doula.

Mark and I had been trying for another baby for months but each month I just choked back the tears and began to wonder why this was happening to me. A belief in holistic therapy and the fine tuning of some Bowen tecnhique treatments by Mark, helped release the negative emotions & feelings and allowed my body to start to heal itself and start the nuturing process.

Michel talked through my birth experience, as I had broken down on the course introductions not realising that I felt so emotional about it all 5 years on. He listened carefully to what we had experienced and asked me pertinent questions and at the end declared that there was no reason why I couldn’t birth a baby. Spurred on I came home and talked to Mark about everything, it had opened up this well and it was brimming over.

Our lovely daughter, Imogene was born in the year 2000, I say born because I didn’t birth her the way I would have chosen and ultimately choice was taken from us in a split second when we were made to face the reality that it could be one, both or none to survive. I realise that this is scaremongering now, but at the time, I ended up going under the knife to have my child, who I had had such aspirations to enter this world in a beautiful pool of water by the glow of a dimmed light and gentle, calming music.

After 40+ hours and dilating to 1½ cms, we ended up after so much intervention experiencing an emergency c-section instead. I couldn’t understand why months afterwards I would have these dark feelings of failure, now I know that I was probably suffering with post-natal depression. But onward & upward I mustered and kept the troops at bay. I have a beautiful bond with our daughter, which was kindled from the moment I knew I had conceived her and even now there will be a look or a touch between us that we both understand. She is a beautiful, loving little girl full of fun & character. What better than to give her a play companion and to make the family complete.

Imogene wanted a brother or sister to play football with, not too much pressure but enough, which counteracted with the roller-coaster year I had just experienced (being made redundant) seemed to be working its odds against us. During the 18 month period running up to this big event, I had opted to retrain as a massage practitioner and during this training became very interested in pregnancy & labour massage. The circle seemed complete when I was told about Peter Walker’s Developmental Baby Massage programme.

We found out 6 weeks later after the Paramana course and a few tailored Bowen technique treatments that we were expecting our second child. Everyone was elated. Talking to our Consultant really helped to focus us on what we wanted from this pregnancy and birth. I hoped in my heart for a VBAC and then when I was edged into a corner by a new midwife I decided to take the bull by the horns and plumped for a HVBAC. Of course at this point I felt opposition but I wrote expressing what I wanted and received a lovely letter back stating that they were happy for me to go ahead with our planned birth. No discussion about scar rupture or trying to scaremonger me.

Our planned homebirth started on the Monday before Matthieu was born, feeling sick and traipsing around Tescos, scaring the lady behind the checkout and finally coming home to flop and admit enough was enough. I should have known all the signs but choose to ignore them. It wasn’t until Thursday when Imogene promptly threw up, not once but four times that I had to admit those Braxton Hicks were actually contractions and perhaps I should do something about them. Emergency call to the doctors for Imogene not me and a trip to Tescos, Mark not me, followed by a quiet sit in the chair and then a call to the on call midwife, who said she would come round and check and see how it was going. Calpol given to child, poor husband looking blurry eyed and me deciding that I wasn’t in labour topped the early hours and finally I got some sleep catnapping during the day with a sick child lying on the floor covered with a huge blanket and a well positioned bowl.

Saturday dawned bright & our daughter promptly got up and announced “I’m going to play” after being at deaths door. This was the point that the wall finally gave way and I allowed my body to go into labour. Contractions were off & on all day Saturday and throughout the evening & night. Finally on Sunday I decided to call the local midwife and our Doula, Julie, to let them know how things were going. Julie came over and settled in, being very positive, doing reflexology, using homeopathic remedies to assist the birth process and generally being very supportive and taking my mind off everything.

But everything ground to a halt, so after the midwife had been in the evening we decided that we would all go home and have a rest. Ha Ha I couldn’t go anywhere, I already was at home!! I really didn’t feel like cooking, so take out it was and I sat on the birthing ball feeling really deflated but secure in the knowledge that the baby’s heart rate was very stable & there was no cause for concern, & my waters were intact.

We had dinner and I decided to have a lie down, poor Imogene must have gone to bed, I don’t remember very much, thinking I was going to get a lovely sleep, only to find half an hour later I was screaming with the pain and calling Julie back. She had managed to have dinner with her husband and then a quick return. We decided not to call the midwife until it was really necessary. A need for some pain relief, as I was open to the idea of gas & air, prompted us to call the midwife, who had said before she left I don’t want to hear a smile in her voice because I know then that it is real labour. She most certainly didn’t get a smile, just lots of cursing and moaning.

Labouring at home was beautiful, we were in control of what we were doing, massage, eating etc, the calm music, essential oils, lighting and the whole environment was conducive to a beautiful birth. I could wander with or without clothes as I choose. Finally the midwife arrived with the entonox and relief, but it was soon apparent that our little bundle was turning OP depending on the position I was in. The massage was invaluable and I changed positions, ate, drank plenty of fluids regularly, even invented some new positions. At 3am ish the midwife decided to check progress and it was declared I was 3cms. I was so elated and they felt really guilty for having to tell me. They reassessed the situation and decided to transfer us in.

Alas at this point I did lose it, but had to keep in my mind that I could still achieve a vaginal outcome even though it would be in a hospital environment. As the midwife had said when she came to visit me in hospital, the birthplace wasn’t important because I had laboured beautifully at home and we had created a really special environment. Julie was great in reinforcing that I should continue my positive thoughts. I must admit I was all for giving in and letting them section me, but deep down I knew that everything had been so favourable at home: baby wasn’t distressed; my stats were good; I felt that I could do it and Mark kept saying to me that we had got this far and not to give up!

We arrived at the hospital at 4am and we were handed over to a new midwife and team who wanted to intervene, intervene, intervene etc and they kept meeting the barriers of “Why?”, “No” etc. We did refuse continual monitoring because we were sure that the baby was fine as there had been no indication otherwise. We signed to agree to intermittent monitoring (mobile) and I asked for confirmation that everything was ok, I think to reassure me that we were going along the right path. We also refused to have the IV sited just in case, as I felt there was no need and I wanted them to believe that I could birth my baby. We also refused the fetal scalp monitor as there was no indication that baby was distressed.

We did let them do ARM as we felt that this would be a good indicator to show whether there was any foetal distress. There was no meconium and on arrival it was estimated we were 4cms dilated, after ARM we were 7-8cms. Time seemed to pass slowly especially as from the moment I had arrived I had shut my eyes and communicated very little, allowing Mark and Julie who were both very clued up to my preferences, to speak on my behalf. I have been told that time passed quite quickly. Julie kept referring them to our birth plan and they finally read it, after this the Registrar didn’t come back, only the midwife stayed. I had conversations with the entonox fairies and knew that transition was close because I kept thinking just give me an epidural, no better still c-section me, I was not with it and I know that if I had voiced these thoughts both Mark and Julie would have talked it all through with me, but transition is transition and lots of bizarre thoughts go through your head, you feel very vulnerable and at a loss, you just want to feel protected. I know that every time the lights were turned down, I could sense them being turned back up, hence why I kept me eyes closed!!

I remember saying that I needed to push and trying to get off the bed, only to be hauled back up onto it in a sitting position. The midwife asked me if I wanted to touch the babies head and I kept thinking it’s not there and she told me off for wanting a physiological birth and not touching, I was in disbelief that the head was there!! Only a few minutes / seconds (?) later I definitely knew the babies head was there when it crowned, the searing pain, and the “ring of fire” was astounding. The head was out and on the next contraction I experienced the most earth shattering experience, my beautiful baby swam out was placed on my tummy and I just couldn’t believe that I, we had done it. It was awesome. I kept looking at this bundle and thinking we did it!! It was absolutely beautiful; I kept my eyes closed the whole time until he was placed on my tummy and I met my son and his daddy’s eyes which were full of tears (of joy and awe). It was spectacular to have a baby placed on my tummy and have skin to skin immediately. Matthieu’s birth helped me to heal the experience I had had with Imogene.

As for Mark’s reaction, he was inspiring and I saw a very different side to my husband. The tears of joy and (relief?) rolled and I think at that point I realised just how much he had believed in me and that we could do it. The months of persuading him that it was safer for me to birth vaginally and I didn’t want a negative experience really paid off, even though we did end up having a hospital VBAC.

I look at Matthieu and there is such an overwhelming emotion of love and with it a real sense of achievement in that I birthed him according to my terms and with great support from my loving husband and a fantastic friend & colleague. Matthieu arrived on the 21st November 2005, 9 days early at 07:35, established labour was 9 hours 5 minutes.

A huge thank you to everyone for listening and believing in me when I said that I wanted a VBAC. The belief that I could birth a baby naturally and have the most amazing experience will help me to inspire other mums that they too can achieve a positive birth outcome.

Claire’s Thoughts on having a VBAC

I am so please and still on cloud nine four months down the road of achiving my VBAC. My advice to clients is that “It is possible to do it on “Your” terms even in “their” environment. You just have to have someone steadfast in their mission to stick to the birth plan and question why something should be done.” Mark, Julie and I were brilliant at this.

– By Claire Morrow-Goodman

I am going to add this here as I thought this was quite interesting .. a few months after I had Matti I was chatting with a Leicester based midwife and she asked me how far I had dilated with Imogene.  When I explained only 1.5 cms she explained to me that I was one of the women they deemed as never able to birth a baby.  I was surprised and asked why and she said because your cervix didn’t dilate … do you realise how lucky you are and how wonderful your body is?  I did realise that my baby & my body had worked hard and I will be eternally grateful for those that really believed in supporting me to have Matti naturally.  Thank you.  Hugs Cx

Contractions – what do they feel like?

Link

Very interesting:

 

Cailin’s Experience Of Contractions

“Contractions to me are like period pain – the most painful type of period pain, but unlike period pain they have a pattern. With period pain it is consistent and in most cases all over. However I personally found that it came in waves across my tummy and it would rise peak and then ease off towards the end of a contraction. Sometimes other pains would add to the contraction like back pain or pelvic pain but overall the contraction pains are a separate feeling, in my opinion.”

Lucy’s Experience Of Contractions

“For me, contractions felt like this: imagine you are REALLY thirsty, and you finally get your hands on a bottle of water. That drink bottle gets tipped your lips and you drink as if your life depends upon it. You know how the drink bottle contacts in, as you gulp? And with each gulp it contracts more? Until you finally lower the bottle to take a breath yourself? And the water bottle then relaxes and goes back to normal?

I was lucky… I never felt that my contractions actually hurt all that much. But the tightening sensation was out of this world.”

Sam’s Experience Of Contractions

“I would describe contractions to be like a cross between a stitch and the worst pain you get when you have gastro x 100 low down in in the pubic bone and in my bum.

They start and I feel my heart begin to pound and I feel a tightening in my body. They build to a peak when I can’t talk or think about anything, then they begin to ebb and fade away. Between contractions I don’t think about the pain and relax a bit till that next time my heart begins pounding again.”

Shannon’s Experience Of Contractions

“A contraction starts off with a small tingle somewhere in the middle of the torso, I assume this is at the top of the uterus, it grows and grows, feeding the surrounding muscles with a cramp like feeling, which radiates and spreads to the back down near the tailbone and starts to ‘bite’ into the muscles like someone is pinching on the spine. It is like a tide which pushes and pushes up and up in intensity while you breathe through it in big deep breaths, until you can feel it ‘let go’ and start to recede back down again, and even though this takes longer than one would like, at least you know that it’s coming to an end and you can feel the release. It leaves a tingling feeling for a few seconds afterward, but then vanishes completely. I would say it feels like someone rubbing the top of your baby bump, then hands grabbing your belly and starting to squeeze, harder and harder, and after a few seconds of this, someone else putting their elbow in your back on your spine and pushing and pushing harder and harder, then it all releasing and things going in reverse again until there is no pain. They are relatively predictable and you can know pretty much how long until the intensity increases, then how long until the apex, then how long until it starts to ease off, then how long until the end of it, although it does change slightly as you progress, you can pretty much predict it contraction to contraction and allow for the slight changes.”

Chloe’s Experience Of Contractions

To be honest I don’t have a good memory for anything that is painful – I just block it out. When I was in labour with Imran I felt alot of back pain.

For me early contractions feel a bit like period pain, kind of achy and some lower back pain. The later more intense contractions kind of felt like someone is digging their elbow into your back only more wide spread – kind of like lots of elbows spread out evenly. When I had Yasin the final pushing contraction felt a bit like doing the world’s biggest poo.”

Melanie’s Experience Of Contractions

“Contractions start like the tummy cramps you get with an upset belly. They come every few minutes and make being upright uncomfortable. Then very soon they are so much more intense that they are completely overwhelming. And they are more frequent, so that there is no time to recover from one before the next hits. Soon getting through the wave of pain is the only focus. You long just for a few minutes to rest but then before the thought is fully formed; there is that all-encompassing pain again. But then it is time to push and the thought pushes into my brain, ‘I am actually helping myself to split in two’. The pain, discomfort and focus of pushing overtake the pain of the contractions, and suddenly they are the lesser of two evils. Until there is a head to feel, lots of fluffy hair, and then another push and a husband saying “he has boy bits” and the relief (and joy) is so complete. And I am so glad that I have done it, given birth without pain relief, but at the same time knowing that it’s not something I ever want to do again. 24 hours later though, I’ve changed my mind and decided I want another baby!”