Labour is an intense experience for most women. We've all heard of labours that lasy for days, and while there is certainly a genetic component, the good news is that there are a few things you can do to shorten the duration of your labour (and get your baby into your arms sooner!).
Exercise During Pregnancy
There is a lot of evidence to support the fact that exercise during pregnancy helps shorten the duration of labour. It may also help you have an easier time pushing your baby out as well! This study found that pregnant women who exercised for four weeks before their due date had a shorter first stage of labour (the part where contractions are happening but dilation has not reached complete) than those who did nothing at all.
Exercising regularly can come with many benefits and it's recommended by most doctors, unless they're advising against it in your specific case. But if you've been given the green light, here are some easy exercises to try:
One of the best ways to shorten labour is to stay active during labour. Movement helps the baby move down through the birth canal, which can speed up the process. Labour can also be sped up by using gravity to your advantage. For example, standing or squatting can help the baby move down faster. This is because the pelvis is more open and there are fewer obstacles in these positions. Our Active Birth Workshops go over a variety of different positions and exercises that can help through each stage of labour, and also suggest ways that your birth partner can be involved.
Eating dates during pregnancy can help to shorten the duration of your labour. A study was done on women who ate six dates a day in the last four weeks before their due date, and they were found to have less need for induction or augmentation of labour than those who did not eat dates (Hale 2012). It is believed that the benefits come from eating dates because they contain natural oxytocin, which is a hormone that helps with labour.
Boosting Your Oxytocin
Oxytocin is a naturally occurring hormone in your body which surges during Labour and pregnancy. It's also known as the “love” or “feel good” hormone because it creates feelings of bonding and euphoria within our bodies. It plays an important role in Labour, helping to move labour along by:
Oxytocin is produced in the brain, but it's also released by physical touch. Labour can be sped up by getting a massage from your partner or going for a long walk with them - oxytocin is known as the "cuddle" hormone! You can also try anything that makes you feel happy and safe - romantic comedies, dim lighting, essential oils and mantras all come in handy! Labouring in an environment that makes you feel safe and loved is also important because it’s easier for the body to release oxytocin when we feel relaxed.
Taking opportunities to rest
Labour is a marathon, not a sprint. You need to be able to focus and conserve your energy so you can use it when you really need it! This is why it's important to take advantage of opportunities to rest - even if that means taking a nap in the middle of labour. Labouring at home for as long as possible also gives you this opportunity, as opposed to being in a hospital where you may feel like you need to be constantly moving.
Cultivating a positive mindset and environment
Believing that you can and will birth a healthy baby and that your body is capable of bringing your baby safely and soundly into the world can make a huge difference to your labour experience. Fear can delay labour and lead to interventions, so try to keep your mind focused on the positive aspects of labour using a combination of the tips above.
Being in a good frame of mind will help your body release oxytocin more easily, leading to a shorter, easier Labour. So take some time for yourself in the weeks leading up to labour - get plenty of rest , read a good book, have some “me time”. Labour will be so much easier if you step into the labour and birth process feeling rested and ready!
Cultivating self-compassion and confidence are some of the best ways to shorten labour. If this isn't something that comes naturally for you, our Active Birth workshop covers techniques like meditation as well as other relaxation & visualisation techniques designed specifically with pregnancy in mind.
Remember, every labour is different and what works for one person might not work for another. These are just some ideas on how to shorten your labour - do what feels best for you! For more information or advice, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us. We're here to help!
If you're a new mum, you might be wondering what the best type of rehab is. We genuinely believe that postnatal Pilates is definitely the answer! Here at our clinic, we recommend it to all our patients who have just had a baby. Pilates is gentle on the body and can be adjusted to your ability, making it perfect for postnatal rehabilitation no matter where you are in your journey. Not only will Pilates help rebuild your overall strength, but it can also help address issues with your pelvic floor health, help to close abdominal separation and with it's focus on movement and breathing is wonderful for mental wellbeing.
There are many Pilates classes available, but we highly recommend seeing a Pilates instructor who is either a physiotherapist or exercise physiologist and/or who has training in postnatal Pilates. They will have the knowledge to help you safely and effectively build your strength back up again. It's also important that they can assist with helping you address issues such as diastasis recti or pelvic floor dysfunction.
Pilates is Gentle
The Pilates method of exercise is a gentle and effective way to begin rebuilding your strength after having a baby. It usually involves small, controlled movements that are focused on activating the core muscles as well as improving overall strength throughout the body. The Pilates exercises can be modified or made easier by using alternate positions and equipment if you're not ready for more advanced exercises yet. Pilates makes it easy to work at your own level while progressing through different levels of difficulty when you're ready so it's perfect for postnatal rehabilitation!
Pilates Can Help Restore Pelvic Floor Functionality
A very common issue in women during pregnancy and postpartum is pelvic floor dysfunction, including leaking urine (incontinence ) and prolapse. Pelvic floor dysfunction can be caused by a number of things, including pregnancy, childbirth and aging. A weak pelvic floor can also lead to other problems such as lower back pain and discomfort during sex.
Pilates is one way that you can help to restore functionality of your pelvic floor muscles. The exercises are designed to specifically target these muscles, helping them to become stronger over time. With regular Pilates sessions (ideally twice per week), you may start seeing an improvement in your symptoms in just a few short weeks!
Pilates Can Help Address Diastasis Recti
Another common issue post-pregnancy is abdominal separation, otherwise known as diastasis recti. This occurs when the two halves of the rectus abdominis muscle (the muscles that run vertically down the front of your abdomen) separate, often due to the increased pressure on the stomach during pregnancy. Diastasis recti can cause a number of problems such as back pain, urinary incontinence and pelvic prolapse.
Pilates is one way to help address this issue. The exercises are designed to work all the abdominal muscles, including those that have been separated. With regular Pilates sessions you may start seeing an improvement in your symptoms within a few weeks. Not only will Pilates help to close the separation, but it will also help to improve overall strength and stability in your core!
Pilates Is Wonderful For Mental Health
Pilates is a wonderful form of exercise for helping to improve mental wellbeing. The Pilates method focuses on increasing body awareness, improving posture and breathing while also providing time out from the stresses of daily life. It's a great way to help reduce stress levels after having a baby! Pilates is gentle enough that you can do it even when you're exhausted or feeling low - in fact those are times when we recommend Pilates most!
At our clinic, we offer Pilates sessions specifically for new mums (check out our upcoming Postnatal Reformer Classes here), so if you're looking for somewhere to start your Pilates journey then get in touch today! We would love to help you on your journey back to health.
Creating your own personal mantras and affirmations can be a great way to stay positive during pregnancy. They can help you focus on the good things happening in your life, and keep you from getting overwhelmed during a unpredictable time. Affirmations are statements that you repeat to yourself, while mantras are chants or prayers - they're similar but slightly different, but both can be extremely positive if used correctly during pregnancy and labour. In this blog post, we will give some examples of mantras and affirmations for pregnancy, the benefits of using them, and talk bout how to create your own affirmation or mantra. There's no right or wrong when it comes to using these statements - they should be completely unique to you, and should help you find peace, calm and happiness in moments you need it most.
What is a mantra?
Mantras are short, sacred phrases or chants that are repeated over and over again - they are generally written in sanskrit, but can also be found in many other languages. They can be used as prayers to be sent out to the universe or a higher power, or to focus the mind during meditation. Mantras have been used for centuries in many different cultures. The word “mantra” comes from the Sanskrit word “man” which means “to think” and “tra” which means “tool”. So a mantra is basically a tool for thinking or shaping your thoughts.
There are many mantras to choose from - ranging from the simple "om" or "aum" which is the original sound of the universe, or more complex mantras like "Sa ta na ma" describing the endless cycle of death and rebirth. An experienced yoga teacher will be able to guide you through different manta chants and help you find one that resonates with you. Both soothing during pregnancy and focusing during labour, you can play with tone, volume, repetition and speed with mantras to see what feels good for you.
What is an affirmation?
An affirmation (or sankalpa) is a positive statement said in the present tense. It is designed to help create a positive mindset, and can be used to counterbalance other thoughts (usually negative) that try to take over. They can be particularly useful if you are feeling anxious or fearful. In our culture this is particularly prevalent for birth - we often don't trust in our bodies and the miraculous things they can do.
Here are some examples of affirmations for pregnancy:
"I am healthy and strong."
"My baby is healthy and strong."
"My belly and baby are the perfect size".
"I will get to hold my beautiful baby soon".
"My baby knows exactly when to arrive".
"I am a capable mother."
"Labour and delivery will go smoothly."
"My body knows exactly what to do".
"Every contraction brings me closer to my baby."
"Thousands of women are labouring right along with me."
"I trust in my body and it's ability to birth my baby safely."
What are the benefits?
The benefits of mantras and affirmations during pregnancy include:
Mantras and affirmations can be used at any time during pregnancy, but are especially useful during the third trimester when many women experience an increase in anxiety or stress. They can be repeated silently or out loud, depending on what feels best for you. You may also want to write them down and carry them with you, stick them on the mirror, or use a recording to help you stay focused.
Creating your own affirmation or mantra is easy. Just find a phrase or sentence that feels true for you, and repeat it to yourself as often as possible whenever you feel like you need it. It can be helpful to write it down and carry it with you, or use a recording to help you stay focused. Our Active Birth course looks in more details at mantras and affirmations and can be a great place to start practicing using these tools. If you come up with something that really speaks to you, feel free to share it in the comments below! We would love to hear from you. :)
If you're looking for a versatile and inexpensive tool that can be used during pregnancy, labour and postpartum, you need a rebozo! A rebozo is a large, rectangular piece of cloth that is typically made from 100% cotton. It has been used for centuries in Mexico and other parts of Latin America for various purposes, including: supporting the baby during pregnancy, helping with labour and delivery, and aiding in the healing process after childbirth. If you're interested in using a rebozo during your pregnancy or postpartum journey, keep reading for more information!
The rebozo was originally created in Mexico where it was originally created by indigenous people as part of their traditional clothing. These days there are many different types of rebozos available online or at local craft stores - some even come with embroidery designs on them too and can be a beautiful keepsake from this special time.
Using a rebozo during pregnancy
Rebozos can be a great way to help support your growing baby - used with a partner, the robozo can help take the pressure off the growing weight of their belly, plus can be a lovely way to massage especially around the lower back and hips. You can also use it as a compression garment to provide support to your belly throughout the day - simply place the rebozo around your waist, and tie it securely in the back. This will help keep your little one close to you and provide some extra support. Many women find that using a rebozo during pregnancy helps reduce lower back pain and improve circulation.
Using a rebozo during labour
There are various ways to use the rebozo during labour to help with recovery between contractions as an alternative pain relief option. It's also been shown to help speed up labour, by providing counterpressure on the uterus and helping to move the baby down into position. If you choose to labour or give birth at home, having a rebozo on hand can be really helpful, and doesn't require any pre-planning or expensive tools.
Using a rebozo postpartum
After delivery, the rebozo can be used to help with the healing process. It can be wrapped around your waist again like a compression garment, used to massage and "close the bones" or used as a sling to carry your baby. Plus, it's great for breastfeeding! The rebozo can help support your back and keep you comfortable while nursing.
If you're interested in using a rebozo during your pregnancy or postpartum journey, we highly recommend checking out our online store (we have lots of beautiful colours for sale), and booking in to our Active Birth Workshops where we explore their use in more detail. We can show you how to use these for massage and support, and give your birthing partner time to practice using it before the big day.
Wanting to grab a rebozo in Brisbane and need to arrange a time to pick up? Give us a call on 07 3061 5050 to arrange.
A baby carrier can be one of the most important items you own as a new parent (and even more important when baby number 2 or 3 comes along!). It provides a simply way to carry your baby hands free, is helpful for creating a strong bond (with either parent), can help settle and upset baby, can help your baby to fall asleep, and can help you to easily get out of the house to places where a pram can't access. You'll want to find a good quality carrier that is comfortable for both you and your baby, distributing the baby's weight evenly and keeping them in a safe position. You also want a carrier that is adjustable, so that it can be used be multiple people and can grow with your child. You can find more information on carriers, brand and fit online or in babywearing classes (like in our Mothers Group). We're huge fans of baby carriers here, which is why we've listed our top benefits for babywearing (to convince you to grab one if you haven't already got one!).
Baby Carriers Foster Healthy Attachment
Babies who are carried often have healthier attachments to their parents, and are more likely to develop secure attachments as they grow older. This is because babywearing allows parents to be constantly in contact with their baby, providing them with the security and comfort they need. It also helps promote baby's development, including their vision and motor skills as they are moved around to different environments. It can help new parents to bond with they babies too fostering healthy attachment both ways. Carrying your baby close and even practicing skin to skin in the carrier and provide lots of feel good hormones like oxytocin for all parties involved!
Baby Carriers Allow You to Get Things Done with Both Hands
Baby carriers also allow parents to get housework, shopping and basic tasks done while caring for their child. This can be especially helpful for mums who have more than one child, and need their hands to help their toddler (and by help of course we mean stop running away or climbing something dangerous). You can also use a baby carrier to take your baby with you on errands - grocery shopping is much much easier with two hands, and daycare drop offs for older kids are a breeze with the baby strapped to your chest.
Baby Carriers Allow Your Bub to Nap on The Go
Baby carriers make it possible for babies to take naps on the go, meaning you aren't trapped by naps and can get on with your day and out of the house. The rhythmic movement of being carried helps baby to relax and fall asleep, meaning you can continue to move around, go for a walk or get things done while they snooze. This is a great way to get your baby some rest during the day, especially if you are out and about - many babies are out like a light within minutes of being popped in the carrier, and it can be a great way for dads or other carers to get babies to sleep allowing mum to have a rest.
Baby Carriers Save Your Arms and Back
Baby carriers can also save your arms and back (especially as your bub gets bigger) as older babies still like to be held a surprising amount. Carrying your baby in a carrier for long periods is much better for you (and more comfortable) than carrying them in your arms. As your baby gains weight be sure to seek out a carrier that distributes the weight easily through your shoulders and hips, changing the settings or moving to a toddler carrier if needed. It's certainly possible to use your carrier to carry your bub well into their toddler years without too much strain, with many good quality carriers holding 16-18kg toddlers with ease.
Baby Carriers Make More Places Accessible
Anyone who has tried to get a baby plus their pram up a flight of stairs knows what we mean! A baby carrier can open up a lot more places to you and your baby. You can take them into small shops, on public transport, or even on hikes or to the beach. With a good quality carrier your pram doesn't feel quite as necessary in situations where maneuvering it is difficult.
As you can see, there are many benefits to babywearing – for both baby and parent if you find the right one. So if you are looking for a way to bond with your child, get things done around the house , or just take a break, babywearing may be the perfect solution for you.
Our 8 Week Mothers Groups always have a babywearing expert as one of our fabulous guest speakers! Plus, we're always happy to recommend our favourite brands and consultants so you can find out more. Don't hesitate to pop us an email to email@example.com if you're interested in more information on babywearing, or you would like to be a part of our 8 Week Mothers (Parents Group). We would love to help you and your bub!