It’s my time for a blog post now!
I have a little rambling/reflection about continuity of care that I just wanted to share with you all…
As midwives it is so important that we are able to reflect on our actions (or inactions!) so that we are able to continually improve the quality of care that we provide to women and babies. Ange, Marnie and I often discuss our experiences over coffee – this is why we drink so much! It is important to debrief, to deeply reflect and to move forward and improve.
I recently cared for a woman in labour – this in its self is not unusual, it’s my job, I do it most days (I know I am very lucky!!) but this was no ordinary woman. This was a woman who I knew very well, I had provided care for her at The Nest during this pregnancy from very early on. The first time we had met was during her first labour many years ago. By the time she went in to labour, after many hours together during her pregnancy, I knew her well. But she also knew me!
I knew that this beautiful woman was anxious about birth and breastfeeding, I knew what books she read and what exercises she did during her pregnancy. I also knew that she wanted minimal birth intervention and that she was gaining in confidence with every pregnancy visit that we had! I knew that she loved a Cherry Ripe, that her husband was an amazingly supportive fellow and that her daughter had a dolly named Rachel!
As I mentioned earlier though, this was not a one sided relationship. This women knew me very well, she knew that I had every confidence in her and her body, that I would do everything in my power to advocate for her choices, that I had exceptional taste in T-shirts and an odd obsession with my rabbit! She knew that I would be there in whatever capacity she needed during her labour and in the long days and weeks after her baby was born.
So other than everyone knowing each other intimately, what is my point?? – my point can be found in my own personal reflection of her birth. This may be mostly of interest to other midwives, but I feel that it is important to share, becausewhen we are discussing pregnancy care, we can never over emphasise the importance of continuity on outcomes and wellness for both women and midwives.
This amazing woman went in to labour, she laboured gently at home for most of the day and came in to the hospital when she felt the time was right. I was at the door when she arrived, she laboured quietly, so quietly in fact that I was questioning if her labour was progressing! She was lying down and appeared to be sleeping, she made very little noise and needed nothing physical from me. In hindsight of course, she was in ‘labourland’ – that beautiful place that Michel Odent speaks about, the place where women need to get to to allow their primal instincts to take over from their thinking brains and allow their babies to be born.
Remember that I knew her… I knew what she wanted and didn’t want during labour, I knew what she was afraid of, allergic to and excited about. It was because of this knowledge that I did nothing (that sound’s terrible I know!), I did the important things of course, I ensured that both her and her baby were safe and well, but beyond that I watched and listened. Even as I watched her sleep and every cell in my body was questioning if her labour was progressing or stalling, even as I considered encouraging her to change positions or offering her an internal examination ‘just to check’ – I did nothing, I continued to watch, wait and listen because I knew that both her and her baby were well and that she didn’t want any of that.
Guess what?? After less than two hours of being in that room I could hear the instinctive sounds of a woman who was ready to meet her baby. Under the shower, without coaching, instruction or intervention, she birthed her baby girlpowerfully in to the waiting hands of her husband. She had done an amazing job, and by knowing her well, protecting and respecting her choices and birthing space I had done mine. What an absolute privilege continuity of care is.
The physical pain had been bad enough, but it was nothing compared to the shame, disappointment and utter uselessness I felt at not being able to breastfeed my baby. Not only had I not been able to birth her properly (I’d laboured for what felt like years only to end with a caesarean section for ‘failure to progress’ past 4cm) but I was useless enough to be bad at feeding my baby too. She was constantly crying, hungry I assumed and after a lot of soul searching, I put her on formula. No big deal, right? At least she was being fed…..?
Baby number two and, after being told that I needed another caesarean because of the first, was determined to breastfeed this one – no matter what. This baby was more obliging, (or was it because I was more comfortable?), and for the most part, fed well. The pain was tolerable but still there. When she came off looking like an infant vampire, with blood mixed with milk trickling out of the side of her mouth, she too was put on formula. I’d failed again.
The overriding reason I did not continue to breastfeed my babies was that I had little to no support. We were living in Darwin in the early nineties, far away from family and friends who may have been able to help, or at least been there with a cuppa and a shoulder to cry on when things felt they were going south. I had no idea where to go for help other than the child health nurses who, while lovely, were too busy to give the time needed to sit with me and guide me. I knew of the, then, Nursing Mothers Association (now Australian Breastfeeding Association), but no idea they had meetings, if indeed they did.
Consequently, it came as a huge revelation to me when, 14 years after the birth of my first child, sitting in a lecture hall during a midwifery lecture, that I sat, open mouthed, at presentation on breastfeeding. ‘Was THAT all I had to do?’ ‘Could it have been THAT easy?’ I cried all the way from Wagga Wagga to Bungendore at what could have been if only I had been given the right support.
I distinctly remember the moment and place I was when I was hit with an epiphany. I was driving down Smiths Gap into Bungendore and decided that no, I was not going to have another baby in my fourties to prove I could now breastfeed, but I would make it my mission to make sure no other woman felt the way I did those fourteen years ago.
So, with a lot, and I really mean heaps, of study, seminars, discussions, exams and finally lactation certification and the unwavering support of my friends, family and my fabulous Nest partners in crime, Ange & Clare, The Lactation Lounge at The Nest was born.
The Lounge is meant to be a place for women to gather and chat about all things baby, including feeding. It is not an exclusive place for breastfeeding mothers, but FEEDING mothers, with a Lactation Consultant available if needed. Although my main mission is to assist breastfeeding mothers, I totally understand the feelings that can come when deciding to formula feed your baby, as well as the need for all women to support each other, especially in those early weeks and months.
So, if you're having any trouble with, or questions about, breastfeeding or just need somewhere comfy and safe to feed your baby, HOWEVER you feed your baby, want to have a chat & meet other parents, please feel free to come in and enjoy a lovely cuppa and biscuit. The Lactation Lounge is on every Thursday morning from 10am-1pm at The Nest, 77 Campbell St Moruya. If you are not comfortable asking me about feeding in front of a group, I am more than happy to have a chat to you, in private, on the day.
Above all remember: YOU'VE GOT THIS
Announce a pregnancy and the word around you erupts. The focus becomes centered around the beautiful new soul growing within your body. Friends and family are ecstatic, they celebrate a child to complete or add to a family. You research what to eat, how to exercise, what supplements to take, all in an effort to provide the perfect living conditions for this equally perfect new being growing inside of you. The modern tradition of a baby shower see’s all manner of battery operated baby related accessories coming your way. People focus solely on the new baby, as do you. You research birth relentlessly, you plan each part of the process even outlining how and when you would prefer the placenta to be released from your uterus.
After the birth you receive beautiful gifts for the baby. People come to visit and hold your newborn. Your house is filled with pink or blue and your Facebook feed is filled with beautiful images of your perfect new addition.
You on the other hand are exhausted. Who is celebrating you? Crossing the threshold into motherhood for the first and every time is something so sacred and something that should be celebrated for the miracle that it is, but you hadn’t planned past the placenta.
You find that the shiny baby accessories remain in their shiny boxes and are rather useless for sleep deprivation, sore nipples and a sore bottom and they certainly can’t cook for you!
You feel the pressure to ‘get on with things’, to go grocery shopping, clean the house, get back to work and pull on those hideous gym clothes, all the while proving to everyone around you how amazing you are because you can do it all.
Your body, once celebrated for creating and housing a miracle, is now something that needs to be fixed. Its soft womanly exterior now immediately needs to firm and flatten.
At what point did you or anyone around you take a moment to appreciate and nurture YOU during the sacred days and weeks after the birth of your baby? To rest, recover, appreciate, love, connect and heal physically, emotionally and spiritually from the life changing process of birth.
Honoring the sacred postpartum is not difficult. It does not require expensive shiny accessories. It requires connecting with your baby and thanking your body. It involves nourishing and healing food from the earth, warm nurturing people and rest. Lots of rest. It does not involve exercise or grocery shopping.
During the sacred weeks after birth many cultures honor women in beautiful ways. In non-western cultures the focus is on healing the mother and on restoring her energy and life-force. The avoidance of ‘cold’ such as cold drinks, water and wind is common as it is believed that during birth the woman loses blood, therefore losing warmth from her body. The postpartum period is seen as a time to restore warmth and in doing so restoring energy and vitality.
How ever you choose to spend your postpartum weeks, ensure that you do think about it and plan for it. Give your body time to recover, appreciate and honor it for all it has achieved, surround yourself with people who will nurture and love you and allow you to just ‘be’.
With the days becoming longer and warmer, we thought it might be a good time to talk about breastfeeding your baby in the hot weather.
One of the most asked questions during hot weather is whether or not to give your baby water. While this does sound logical and tempting, there is no need to give babies water for them to stay hydrated.
Giving your baby water will fill him or her up on empty calories. It is of no benefit while they are breastfeeding, as breast milk has enough nutrients to hydrate well as nourish babies.
Baby may want to feed more often and for shorter periods in hot weather. This is because the first milk baby drinks (the foremilk) is lighter in fat and able to quench baby’s thirst. They may just want a quick feed (5 to 10 minutes) to quench their thirst, settle and be awake wanting a feed at the usual time, or just feed more frequently. This is totally normal. It does not mean your baby is not being satisfied with the amount of milk you are producing.
Keeping cool is also important so as not to overheat mum or baby. Make sure you have plenty of cool water to drink during the day and have it with you when you breastfeed, as this will lessen the risk of you becoming dehydrated.
Air conditioning feels wonderful in hot weather, but baby may lose more fluids through his or her skin, so in this case, being cool does not necessarily mean baby will not be thirstier and want to feed more.
Holding baby in hot weather can be uncomfortable, to say the least. No one wants to be close to another body when they are feeling hot and both mum and baby can become hot, sweaty and frazzled in the heat while breastfeeding. Things you could try include cooling your baby with a luke warm cloth or bath before feeding, as this may cool him down and make him less irritable and more willing to feed. Also, feeding baby lying on your side or placing a towel, nappy or light cloth between you and babe stops the skin to skin contact, reducing heat transference and perspiration.
While being skin to skin is extremely important in the first few weeks of baby’s life ‘on the outside’, gently talking, smiling & ‘cooing’ to your baby also maintains closeness and bonding.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us at The Nest if we can help you with breastfeeding issues, or alternatively, the Australian Breastfeeding Association is an excellent resource.
Ange, Clare and Marnie would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a safe and happy 2017.
Here at The Nest we have been busy filling our calender with exciting offerings for the New Year! Check out our education and workshops tab to see all of our new additions and contact us to register.
Hello fellow Nesters!
It's starting to heat up outside and we are running full steam ahead here at The Nest too!
Coming up next week we have our first Nuts'n'bolts of birth night were the focus is on dads. It will be a fun night learning new skills and a few hot tips for supporting your partner during labour & birth. There's still a few spots left, so drop us a line via our contacts page to register!
We have started seeing women for pregnancy care and we feel so privelidged that these women have chosen us to walk with them on their journey towards parenthood.
Please give us a call or drop us a line via fb, email or old fashioned phone call to chat about how we can make your pregnancy special.
Ange our resident apothecary is busy making some amazing all natural pregnancy products including a magical belly nourishing serum and our gorgeous Bengkung belly past to go with the gorgeous wraps. Products will be on the shelves in the new year, so be sure to pop in and check them out!
We are live!!
We are so excited to launch our new website & offer you a range of services to support and nurture you during your pregnancy. Here we will be regularly updating you on our journey and our latest offerings.