Observations of a doula

I recently supported a first-time mom through her birth. She is an educated and determined mom. And if it wasn’t for her sheer determination, she may not have gotten the birth she wanted. She really wanted a natural birth, but to her surprise her labour was long and challenging. She had surges for a couple of days already before she asked me to join her. When she reached the hospital, her surges were intense. However, when a vaginal exam was done, she was only 2cm! So still very early in labour (many people don’t even consider it labour) Needless to say, she felt quite frustrated! They decided to be admitted into hospital anyway.

The funny thing was, her surges were long! Like lasting a minute each, with very short breaks in between. They were also irregular. Immediately, I thought, “Baby’s position”. I braced myself for a long labour. I had seen quite a few cases of this in the past several years. And this one was no exception. With cases like these, the surges would not regularize until the baby got into a good/ optimal position.

So because mom was already very tired, I encouraged her to rest when the surges weren’t frequent. She managed to doze off a couple of times in a lateral position and forward-leaning position, leaning on the side of the bed, while sitting on a birth ball. But many times, the surges were relentless. So we got into all the positions we could think of, polar bear, all fours, squatting, forward leaning while standing/ sitting, hip-swaying, etc. She got into the shower and used hot water, which was helpful for awhile. She was becoming visibly tired though. Her husband and I made sure she was hydrated and ate small bites of food.

Finally she was fully dilated, and the baby started to descend. However, the descent took a long time. Six and a half hours to be exact! Bless her good doctor and the staff at Pantai Bangsar for having the patience to let the mother birth baby in her own way and time. Of course, the fetal heart rate was monitored diligently, but mother was still able to move freely, squat, breathe her baby down, go on all-fours, and assume any other position she wanted.

In the end, the labour and exhaustion took a toll on mother, and we could also see her cervix prolapsed when baby’s head was visible. So she finally decided on a vacuum extraction, and a beautiful girl was born gently into the world. And sure enough, the doctor announced that baby was in occiput transverse position and it took a few tries to vacuum baby out. The mother is generally happy about how it all went, and so is the father, and as her doula who witnessed and supported the family throughout, I could not be more proud of both of them – doing so beautifully and responsibly throughout the whole birth.

The purpose of this post is actually to make aware to mothers of the importance of our lifestyle and posture during conception and pregnancy, and the effect that it can have on our births. Our mind might be so determined to have a gentle birth, but our body might be saying something else. And when the mind-body connection is out of sync, then we have a problem.

‚ÄčOur nervous system needs to be in balance for our mind to be in good communication with our body. When this happens, we will INSTINCTIVELY know what positions and postures to assume and our body will automatically tell us to get off sitting on the chair and take a walk or do some stretching or cat-poses instead.

These days, because we live so differently from how our foremothers used to live, we have lost touch with our primal body awareness. We are so sedentary, eating unhealthy processed foods, getting pregnant later in life, into instant gratification with our countless gadgets – it is no wonder that fertility issues are at its worse compared to any other time in history.
So what can we do about it?

Begin with body awareness activities – tune into your body and your baby. Exercises like yoga, walking, swimming may help, but the nervous system has to be in balance too. Chiropractic care is invaluable in this regard – it helps to enhance the mind-body connection by balancing the nervous system. There is also research to show that continuous chiropractic care throughout pregnancy can reduce interventions during birth. The mother in this post actually went to see the chiropractor but it was only for one session. Usually mothers need a minimum few sessions, and some mothers need quite a lot of adjustments to help their nervous system get into equilibrium. There are many other benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy.

Wherever you are in your pregnancy, make sure to put in the effort in taking care of your body as well as your mind. Our posture and lifestyle will affect our baby’s position in-utero, and this can mean a difference between a fast, straightforward labour & birth, or a long, drawn-out one! Baby’s position while in our uterus is just so important. I learnt this early on – during my first pregnancy a midwife explained this to me – and I haven’t stopped being fascinated about fetal positioning and how it can affect our births. The problem is I’m seeing more and more of these episodes, and I feel the need to inform mothers about this.
ObGyns won’t know about this because they are not trained in fetal positioning. Rather they are trained in medical aspects of birth.

It might take a simple tweak in your lifestyle – nutrition and exercise and body awareness. Pregnancy is the BEST time to take a long, hard look at our lifestyles, and take steps to improve it. You NEED to become active, and be more in touch with your body and how powerfully awesome it is. You need to get in touch your feminine and nurturing nature. That’s what pregnancy does to us. It presents us with the opportunity to get in touch with our mothering, instinctive selves to prepare us for the huge task of parenthood. And childbirth is just ONE part of it.

To read more about optimal fetal positioning, you can go to www.spinningbabies.com. It is quite technical, but it can definitely help. And DON’T discount any small effort you make during pregnancy towards being more instinctive and more healthy!! There’s a reason why we are given 9 months to prepare! It is a gift and a ni’mah (blessing), so USE it!! ūüôā

Hi, I'm Nadine

A self-confessed birth junkie, I love all things birth and breastfeeding… I’m so lucky to be able to work with expectant families and share this very special time in their lives with them :) I am also a Life Coach helping mothers overcome burnout and overwhelm.

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