From womb to the world – My birth story

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This wonderful photo was taken one lovely afternoon with our family and our 2 very talented friends Chris and Em Allen just 3 weeks before our precious son arrived. Here is how it all went down…

I was due on Fri 17th May. As my daughters had arrived at 38 and 39 weeks respectively, reaching full term was a real test of patience. I went for a check up with my gynae on my due date to find that I was 2 cm dilated and baby’s head was very low… my gynae was convinced I would go into labour that weekend, and if not, she wanted to induce me on Monday evening 😦  NOTHING happened all weekend, and I was feeling pretty glum about being induced as I had had a rather traumatic failed induction with my 2nd daughter. I called my doc on Mon morning and asked for her to give me a few more days as I really wanted God to choose the date of my baby’s birth day and not science. She was wonderful and agreed, but asked that I come in the next day to assess my placenta and water levels.

I woke up on Tues 21st May with a dull period like pain, but had felt it before, so wasn’t too concerned, but something in me decided to pack my hospital bags as I headed out to see my gynae. I went in for my check up to find that I was 4 cm dilated with my membranes bulging – I was in active labour! I was admitted at 2pm.

The maternity ward at Alberlito hospital is AMAZING! Friendly and attentive staff; quiet; large labour wards with birth balls, couches, stools of all sizes and a shower – a huge change from the hospital I’d previously birthed in. And most wonderfully, I had a wonderful midwife assigned to me for the duration of my labour.

Nicole (midwife) hooked me up to the foetal monitor and informed me that if I wished to have an epidural, I would have to have one immediately… I politely declined to raised eyebrows. I didn’t want to be a hero, I just wanted to experience this birth in the manner God intended it and reap the incredible sense of empowerment and achievement a mother can be blessed with after delivering her baby naturally.

Dr. Mthethwa came in to rupture my membranes to get labour going. My husband and my doula, Taryn Turner, arrived around 4pm. I was still not in any real pain – I was having contractions, but felt them more as tightening sensations. At 4:50, Dr. Mthethwa came in to assess me again – I was 7 cm dilated (woohoo!) but she said my waters hadn’t broken properly – so she had to re-break them. Wowee – this certainly got the labour train going – the bullet train!

My contractions got very intense very quickly and I had to focus completely on my breathing techniques, visualisations and readily accepted the wonderful massage from my husband, Taryn and Nicole – all of whom did the most amazing job and whom I could not have done without. I had my favourite worship music playing allowing me to focus on God and allowing Him to be with me during my hardest contractions.

After an hour and 20 mins of very intense contractions, sometimes 3 on top of eachother… I began to feel the unmistakable urge to push our baby out. Excuse the overshare, but it feels like needing to do a number 2 VERY badly! 😉 Nicole called Dr. Mthethwa and I was ready to push. Taryn was an amazing labour coach – she got me on to all 4’s to help the baby descend easily, this position saved me a whole lot of time and was probably the sole reason why I didn’t require an episiotomy or tear. Utilizing gravity to assist the baby down the birth canal seems like a no-brainer, but it is seldom an option with epidural dominant births.

Oh my goodness… the ring of fire. I have never felt anything like it. I thought my baby’s head was the worst, I even remember saying in desperation “Can’t you just take it out of me!”, boy was I wrong, I literally felt as though I was going to split in 2 when his shoulders came out… but then… as intense as the pain was, it completely disappeared as his warm little body passed through the birth canal and Dr. Mthethwa passed him to me. I will never forget that moment, as we hadn’t found out his sex, as I saw my son for the first time. I cried with joy and my body shook uncontrollably from the massive surge of adrenalin racing round my veins. I held our son in my arms as my husband and I thanked God for our beautiful boy.

it is seldom known to happen, but the wishes I wrote out in my birth plan a few weeks prior to my birth were all realized. I truly had the most amazing birth with all the right people in place. I could never have achieved my dream of a completely natural labour if it was not for the support of my husband, my wonderful doula Taryn, the cool-as-a-cucumber Dr. Nombuso Mthethwa and midwife Nicole. Mostly I thank God for His tangible presence during my labour and the gift of not only a fantastic birth, but also the blessing of our precious son Damian to our family.

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A ball and a bump…

An exercise ball and your precious bump are all you need to do the following simple 7 step exercise regime. It targets all the major muscle groups – quads, hamstrings, glutes (bum), chest, shoulders and core. You will be using your own body weight for resistance and can be done in the comfort and privacy of your home.

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The Lunge: begin in a standing position holding the ball out in front of you (position a). Step backwards into a deep lunge (knee hovering just above the floor) and raise your arms above your head (position b). Be mindful to contract your pelvic floor during the lunge for added support. This exercise targets your glutes, hamstrings, shoulders and core. Repeat 10 lunges on each leg.

 

 

 

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The push up: begin in a kneeling position leaning against the ball (position a). Holding the ball firmly in place, lower your upper body down into a push up against the ball (position b). If the position is too strenuous, lean the ball against the wall. You will be working your pectoral (chest) muscles and activating your abdominals too. Repeat 10 times.

 

 

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The dual crunch: recline against the ball and allow your spine to relax into the natural curve of the ball (position a). Raise your shoulders off the ball and contract your pelvic floor and lower abs at the same time – your sacrum (base of your spine) should move away from the support of the ball. This dual movement targets the upper and crucial lower abdominals. Repeat 10 times.

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The deep squat: begin in a standing position holding the ball out in front of you (position a). Lower your bottom as if you are sitting down into a chair (position b). The ball in your arms will help to counter balance you. You will be working your glutes, hamstrings, core and shoulders. Once again, contract your pelvic floor for support. 10 repetitions.

 

 

 

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The plank: rest your elbows on the ball and balance on your toes trying to keep your trunk as straight as possible. This is an intense core strengthening exercise. Try to hold the position for 30 seconds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The hamstring curl: lie on your back with your feet on the ball. Contract your pelvic floor and raise your hips up to form a bridge between your feet and shoulders (position a). Slowly bring your knees in towards your bottom (position b) and straighten them out again – this is one repetition, repeat 10 times. This exercise works your hamstrings, glutes and lower back. This exercise can be omitted in the third trimester if you battle to lie on your back due to added baby weight.

 

 

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The oblique twist: begin in a “v” position with your feet hovering off the floor and arms above your head (position a). Swing the ball from side to side contracting your abdominals as you move your arms across your body (position b). Repeat 10 times each side. This exercise is pretty strenuous, so drop your feet to the floor if you find it too difficult. The twist works deeply on your oblique abs and core and tones the shoulders.

 

 

 

Resistance and body weight type exercise are an essential part of being healthy during your pregnancy. These exercises help support your skeleton as your growing belly increases the strain on your muscles, ligaments and tendons. Exercising throughout your pregnancy will help alleviate back pain, assist with keeping your energy levels up, and help you get back into your pre-pregnant condition once you have your baby.

Always inform your gynae or midwife about your exercise programmes. Be sure to hydrate yourself adequately during exercise, and never overdo it – you have the rest of your life to be super fit and strong. Enjoy this time as your prepare your body to bring forth life.

 

 

 

 

Powering through pregnancy with yoga…

I accidentally stumbled upon yoga while trying to rehabilitate a severe hamstring injury I got while running. I can honestly admit that it has been one of the most challenging forms of physical exercise I have ever attempted, so naturally, I was hooked. As I had already been doing yoga regularly when I fell pregnant, I carried on attending classes all the way through.

I cannot emphasize how wonderfully yoga has complemented my pregnancy. I feel stronger, more flexible than ever before (relaxin has added to this), and have an incredible sense of body awareness that I know can only be attributed to my yoga practice. As my due date creeps up on me (2 and a half weeks to go…eeek!), I find myself sitting in various poses for relaxation and opening of my pelvis while I practice my breathing techniques for labour.

I have been fortunate to find a wonderful yoga instructor. She is incredibly strong, compassionate and literally oozes calmness from her pores; she has also been a wonderful mentor and friend throughout my pregnancy. She has been kind enough to pose for some photos showing which yoga poses I have found to be particularly helpful during my pregnancy.

Cobbler Pose:Image

Opens the Hips, Knees and Ankles
Relieves pressure in joints
Calming pose
Encourages deep thoracic breathing

Cobbler Pose- Forward Fold

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Deepens the stretch to the Hips and Pelvis

Creates a long extended Spine

Drops head below heart, which takes pressure off the cardiovascular system

Calming for the nervous system

Prepares body for relaxation

Cat stretch Series:

A)     Rounding the spine:Image

Takes pressure out of lower back

Opens up shoulders and scapular

Stretch to the spinal muscles

Tones up abdominal muscles

B)      Arching the spineImage

Opens up the chest and ribcage- encourages deep thoracic breathing

Makes space for baby to drop down, which takes pressure off spine.

Wonderful pose for heart burn or compression of baby onto stomach.

Compresses kidneys and adrenal glands, toning up the endocrine system 

Cobra pose: Knees on the floor variationImage

Relieves lower back pain

Opens up chest and ribcage

Strengthens arms

Opens up the throat- to facilitate correct breathing

Downward Facing Dog:Image

Tones up the arms and shoulders

Moves the weight of the baby back into lower pelvis- strengthening ligaments, muscles and tendons in the hips and legs

Stretches and strengthens spinal muscles

Floods brain with oxygenated blood- nourishing the nervous system

Downward Dog- hip opening variation:Image

Encourages balance

Works the muscles of the arms and shoulders

Creates a flexible, mobile spine.

When the leg is in the air- it encourages correct lymphatic and vascular drainage of the legs, preventing varicose veins

Be sure to repeat on left and right

Camel PoseImage

Chest Opener

Makes space for baby to stretch and move around

Gives mom space to really open the ribcage and breath deep into the base of the lungs

Opens up the heart centre- energising the body and the mind

Warrior 2:Image

Strong pose to work on the muscles of the legs, glutes and pelvis

When the lower body is strong, the pregnant woman can carry her upper body with ease.

Warrior 2 encourages strength of the mind and the body.

It tones up the legs, and works on correct rotation of the pelvis and hips.

Squat pose: Hands at chest variation.

THE QUEEN POSE of pregnancy.Image

Do this pose every day- As many times as you can.

Strengthens the legs, the pelvis and the spine

The pose helps to move baby down into the birthing canal- to facilitate for easy natural labour.

It opens the pelvis- moves the hip bones into correct alignment for birthing, sends blood into the pelvis nourishing these organs.

 

 

READ THIS…..

READ THIS.....

I have just read this wonderful book which places the power and control of naturally birthing a baby back in the hands of it’s rightful owner – the MOTHER!

These days, especially in South Africa, pregnancy and child birth is treated like a medical condition, and this book beautifully strips labour down to the natural, powerful, God-intended process it is meant to be.

By reading this book, I have gained so much confidence in my body’s wonderful and perfect ability to birth a child naturally, which empowers me as a woman and is “medically, ” actually the best way for a baby to enter into this world.

Feeding my soul in the land of milk and honey

My husband and I were lucky enough to visit Israel for a week this March. It is something that we have both wanted to do for ages and had the most wonderful, relaxing, Spirit-filling trip before our little one arrives in May.

We visited Galilee and traced the steps of Jesus during his 3 years of miracles; immersed ourselves in the breath-taking spiritual, biblical, cultural and historical wonder that is the Old City of Jerusalem; indulged ourselves in the amazing fresh produce that Israel has to offer (baby grew 600 grams!!!) and enjoyed the peaceful and regenerative effect that being in the Holy Land seems to have on a person.

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Although this post doesn’t have anything to do with being active or strong physically, I have posted it to emphasize the importance of preparing oneself mentally, spiritually and emotionally for the birth of your baby. Take time to pray about, meditate on or visualize your pregnancy and especially your labour. This helps you to address fears and anxieties, and get control of your mind. A powerful mind results in a powerful body.

Running while pregnant

ImageWe live in an UBER fit society, where so many sports and fitness regimes are on offer to us, from kettle bells, to yoga, to zumba and pole-dancing! One of the simplest, most affordable and most enjoyable ways to exercise is to head out for a run.

Unfortunately, our fitness forward society still somehow manages to view pregnancy as a “condition” and hence expectant mums feel lost and intimidated by the gym floor, the studio and the road.

The good news is that you most definitely can run when you are pregnant! There are a few things to consider though. Pregnancy is not the time to start a running regime, but if you have been a regular marathoner, or even just an “around-the-blocker”, you can carry on doing what you love. Here are a few things to consider before you lace up:

  • Be sure that your pregnancy is risk free –  always consult your gynae/midwife
  • Tread extra carefully when carrying multiples, think it is probably best to stick to power walking 😉
  • Wear a heart rate monitor. Most research says your heart rate shouldn’t rise above 140 bt/min. Most runners know that keeping it this low is pretty difficult. So wearing a monitor will help you stay within your recommended comfort zone. My general rule of thumb, is if I can keep a conversation going, my heart rate is low enough.
  • Have a good pair of running trainers – perhaps go for higher mileage shoes as you will be starting to carry extra weight and may need the cushioning.
  • Wear a comfortable and strong support sports bra. Your boobs will (if not already) be getting larger and more sensitive in preparation for feeding, so protect your assets!!!
  • Hydration is essential. I find it a little bothersome running with a water bottle, so I will usually log a route that has some “water tables” along the way – petrol station, or friend’s house. Great plan for staying hydrated and having a little rest to get your heart rate down. Always make sure you have a bottle of water waiting for you in your car to drain post-run.

Overheating is probably the greatest health risk to your baby, so avoid running in very hot weather for extended periods of time.

After every run, it is a good idea to have a good stretch, especially your glutes (bum) and ITB (ilio-tibial band). See picture below:

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Another good idea is to some KEGEL exercises post run. This just helps to maintain strength in this area, particularly after the added pressure of a run.

I ran very comfortably during my first pregnancy up until about 32 weeks, and until 26 weeks and 25 weeks with my 2nd and 3rd. I let my body lead me, I ran until I began to feel uncomfortable. As much as I am missing my running now (am going on 29 weeks), I know that I have the rest of my life to run and be fit, now is the time to do what is best for this pregnancy and this baby… I have traded my shoes for goggles and am enjoying the laps.

Good luck, be safe and sensible when running and enjoy adding vitality to your pregnancy…