Waterbirthin Ireland was the theme of this year’s Home Birth Association annual conference on Sunday. If you were following me on Twitter, your timeline would have been bombarded with a blow by blow account of the day. Between myself and my fellow Irish Parenting Blogger David who was representing Birthingmamas on the day, I think there probably wasn’t one inch of the conference we didn’t cover!
The biggest take away for me was that water birth – whether you’re talking about just labouring in water or both labouring and delivering your baby in water – is most definitely not the preserve of women planning a home birth. Having access to birth pools in both hospital and home births is a great option for labouring mothers and the over riding recommendation seems to be “get thee to some warm water!”.
We heard great speeches from renowned UK midwifery lecturer Ethel Burns and Philomena Canning, Dublin-based self employed community midwife, who between them have over 70 years of midwifery and water birth experience. Ethel took us through her fascinating 2012 research on outcomes for women using a birth pool and Philomena spoke about her experience and the benefits of water birth.
Here’s some facts you may not have been aware of:
All midwifery units in the UK have a birth pool. We have very few in Ireland
Use of a birth pool during the first stage of labour decreases the need for analgesia (pain meds), results in less augmentation of labour, more spontaneous delivery, less infection, reduced pain perception and increased maternal satisfaction. That’s an awful lot of good things.
Evidence also shows that using a birth pool results in more intact perinae, no increase in extensive perineal trauma, and no increase for minor or major primary post partum haemorrhage
It is not necessary to wait until you are x many centimetres dilated to get into a birth pool. You can get in when you want to get it in.
If you are interested in or planning a natural birth, Ethel’s research proves that both labouring in water, or labouring and delivering in water, increase your chance of having a normal birth. Ethel also pointed out that data shows that if you are a healthy first time mother with no complications, you are in a very high risk group for an emergency C-section. Getting yourself into water for your labour will reduce your chances of this happening.
Both Ethel and Philomena gave great tips on the practicalities of using a birth pool:
Ethel recommended that the temperature of your birth pool should be slightly cooler than your normal bath temperature but said that you shouldn’t get hung up on temperature. Cooler is better and be comfortable. Philomena agreed that your own comfort was key and suggested a temperature between 37 and 38 degrees.
Philomena stressed that the most important thing about using a birth pool is to make sure that your partner does a trial run of filling the pool beforehand. You need to know how much water you’ll need, how long it takes, that the hose, taps, nozzles etc all work together.
From a timing perspective, Philomena recommended that if you’re having a home birth, don’t wait for your midwife to arrive before preparing the pool. Have it filled and ready to go before you think it’s time to call her – otherwise you mightn’t make it that far!
Philomena made three really important points about water birth and natural birth. She said that mothers will always benefit by going with nature as much as you can and that the great thing about a water birth is that it keeps your caregivers away from you and “hands off”. She also called water birth the epidural of home birth. Having laboured in a birthing pool myself I can attest to that last one and also add “but much more pleasant”. 🙂
You can access Ethel’s research at this link here if you’d like to read more. As was mentioned a number of times at the conference, birth pools are so widely available now and quite affordable, so there’s no reason why you couldn’t decide to have your own birth pool at home to labour in before going into the hospital if that’s what you wanted to do. Given the relatively few birth pools available in Irish maternity units it’s certainly something to consider.
There were a number of other topics discussed at this year’s home birth conference including policy developments in home birth in Ireland in the last 12 months and women’s rights in childbirth to choose both where and how they deliver their babies. I’ve covered those same issues here myself in the last couple of months so you might be interested in reading my earlier post, Giving Birth Is a Feminist Issue and my guest blog on Feminist Ire.
Mind the Baby is celebrating its one year anniversary this month – can you believe it?! – and I wanted to mark this happy milestone with something very cool for my readers. I’ve mentioned before how much I love Pilates and the huge difference it made to my wellbeing and fitness after having a baby. I even included it my list of 11 things I’d definitely do if I were a new mum again post. So I thought what could be better than to give my lovely readers the opportunity to enjoy it too?
Reform Pilates in Blackrock, Co Dublin – whose new Postnatal Pilates App I reviewed yesterday – have jumped onboard to offer one Mind the Baby reader 5 free classes of prenatal or postnatal Pilates. What a prize!
For those who are pregnant, Pilates:
Provides expectant mothers with a safe environment in which to strengthen their bodies to prepare for labour
Reduces the time which it takes to regain that strength postpartum
Helps to provide the pelvic stability required for a pain free pregnancy
For those who have just had a baby, Pilates:
Strengthens the pelvic floor and deep abdominal muscles to restore core strength
Strengthens and lengthens the whole body to assist with the demands of looking after a growing baby
The other great thing about attending a Reform postnatal Pilates class, is that you can bring your baby with you to class. They can have a little sleep or kick along beside you while you get in some gentle exercise. Don’t worry if they get hungry or need to be changed. The class is tailored to you and your baby so anything goes. Babies up to 12 months are welcome.
How to Enter
THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED.
Terms and Conditions
The competition runs from Friday 12 April until 6pm on Friday 26 April.
You must like both Facebook pages and leave a comment below confirming your Likes to qualify for entry.
Entrants will still qualify if they have Liked either Facebook page in the past. Please still confirm that both Facebook pages have been Liked in the comments below to qualify for entry.
A winner will be chosen on Tuesday 30 April using Random.org, and will be announced here on Mind the Baby.
The winner has two weeks to contact me at mindthebaby[at]gmail.com to claim their prize. If a prize is unclaimed after two weeks, a new winner will be drawn.
The winner’s contact details will be provided to Reform Pilates so that the prize can be arranged. Competition is open to Republic of Ireland residents only.
The prize is non-transferable and cannot be redeemed for cash or any other equivalent. Classes must be booked before 1 November 2013.
The winner may choose whether they would like a prenatal Pilates course or a postnatal Pilates course. The prenatal class is suitable for all those over 12 weeks pregnant with a low risk pregnancy (if your pregnancy is categorised as high risk please provide a doctor’s note to Reform at your first class to confirm it is safe for you to attend class). The postnatal class is suitable for all mothers who are at least six weeks post partum (normal delivery) or 10 weeks post partum (C-section).
Note: Reform Pilates have provided the prize to me for the purposes of the competition. As always, my opinions are my own and I am not paid to give them.
I remember very clearly a disastrous and very teary Saturday morning when my baby was just a couple of months old and I was determined to get to a special yoga class for postnatal mums, but a hungry baby had me running behind schedule and when I arrived late for class the receptionist wouldn’t let me in. I fought back tears as I walked out the door but ended up bawling all the way home in the car at the injustice of being rejected – how could they be so insensitive to a hormonal post partum new mother?, I thought – and also the realisation that maybe I wasn’t quite ready to leave my baby alone for a few hours. I would be in time, but not quite yet.
I never went back to that class and instead tried to seek out some other way of getting a bit of “me time”, some much needed exercise and also meeting the needs of my baby. A few months later, a new Pilates studio opened up near me and I was delighted when I discovered they offered postnatal Pilates classes where you could bring your baby along and let them sleep or kick along beside you while you got in a seriously good workout.
The owner of Reform Pilates, Anna Frankland, is a mother of twins herself and understands the importance of being able to easily exercise without having the extra burden of having to factor in childcare. Also aware that not everyone has access to a class or is even ready to go along to a class, Anna has developed a postnatal Pilates App for mums to use whenever and wherever they like to help them get back in shape and also get some well deserved “me time”.
The App is divided into three sections. “My Body” covers questions you might have before you get started. “Workouts” brings you into the structured programmes to follow and finally, there’s an A to Z of all exercises at the end if you wanted to try them individually rather than going through a specific workout.
There are three workouts to choose from:
1. Babybelly (& Bum), a quick workout to strengthen deep tummy muscles, pelvic floor and bum (15 minutes long)
2. Adore Your Core, a quick workout to strengthen deep tummy muscles, lower back and pelvic floor (15 minutes long)
3. My PreBabyBody, a full workout to get your pre baby body back. (20 minutes long)
Each of the three workouts has a gentler “new mum” version for women who are 0-3 months post partum and a stronger version once you’re 3 months plus.
I tried the Babybelly (& Bum) 15 minute workout for new mums first as a starter. When you select this workout, it displays 11 exercises in order and lets you know how many repetitions you should do. From there, you can follow the exercises in two ways – either tap on each exercise and follow the step by step images, or select the video button in the top right hand corner and you can watch short videos of each exercise as you work through them. I found the step by step images easy to follow but I’m a visual learner so watching the videos really brought the instructions to life for me, especially being able to watch the flow of the exercise. There’s also an option at the top of each workout to “play all” so you can run straight through the exercises one after the other.
Working my way through all of the exercises, I quickly realised that this is a proper workout for new mums rather than paying lip service to it. When the 15 minutes were up, it did feel like I had engaged and really connected with my ab muscles and pelvic floor. I also felt a good stretch in my bum and upper thighs. I can see how this would be a great introductory workout for a woman who has recently had a baby and is ready to start exercising and toning again. It’s not strenuous or over-exerting in any way but it’s just enough to help you on the road to getting your body confidence back. The pelvic tilts also ease you gently into getting the tone back into your pelvic floor. Anyone who has already had a baby knows that feeling of trying to engage their pelvic floor muscles in the first couple of weeks and it feels like there’s nothing happening there at all!
The instructions are easy to follow and I was able to pop my iPhone on the floor beside me and just tap the screen to move along to the next exercise. Your baby could easily be lying beside you while you completed this workout or you could grab 15 minutes while they were sleeping.
I jumped to the My PreBaby Body workout at the end next just to compare. I’ve been doing Pilates for quite some time now and I’m no slouch, even if I do say so myself, so I was keen to see how challenging it would be! This is an excellent 20 minute workout for mums who are tight on time but are keen to give their body a good conditioning. This workout has 17 exercises in total and after completing the full workout, I certainly felt like I had given all of my main muscle groups a good going over. This is definitely one to work up to and a nice challenge to achieve. I think if you were doing this workout maybe 3 times a week, you’d definitely see and feel results, particularly in your core area.
There are three versions of the Reform Postnatal Pilates App. You can buy just the three new mum workouts for women who have had a baby within the last 0 – 3 months for €4.49 or just the post-3 months workouts for the same price. The full version of the App with all of the workouts costs €7.99. This is a lot for an App but given what you get for your money, I think it is well worth it. When you consider a Pilates class can cost you anywhere between €10 and €20 a week, this App allows you to have a comparable short workout in your own home, whenever it suits you and your baby and as often or as little as you like.
The other thing to bear in mind is the benefit to your pelvic floor of regular Pilates practice. I don’t think you can underestimate the importance of strengthening your pelvic floor after growing and carrying a baby for nine months. The preventive life long positive impact it can have on subsequent pregnancies, incontinence and your sex life is immeasurable. Just take a quick bounce on a kid’s trampoline or have a particularly strong sneeze with a weak pelvic floor and you’ll get an idea of what I’m talking about!
I think if this App had been around when my baby was born, it would have really met my needs of wanting to start getting my body back but not being quite ready to leave him yet. I think it also would have helped me take the pressure off myself to be back “out there” after a baby. I could have taken things at my own pace and in my own time. I’d highly recommend this to new mums. It’s definitely worth the investment.