Melbourne Doula

Welcome to 'Melbourne Doula', the place where I share what birth work is teaching is me, and what I am learning from the wonderful families who have invited me to share this most special season of their lives. Here you will find information about me and the doula services I provide, birth stories from remarkable women and their loved ones, as well as all kinds of resources to enrich your own journey of discovery. And welcome also to BLISSFUL HERBS, the home of beautiful herbal teas and bath herbs to support wellness through every season of life.

Staying 'Low Risk' and Healthy for Pregnancy and Birth

There are many perfectly normal variations of pregnancy and birth that are pathologised and fall outside of increasingly narrow and unreasonable parameters of what is deemed to be 'normal'. The effect of this is to reduce women's confidence in their bodies and instinct, and increase their dependency on risk-averse obstetrics ... where the money is.
Examples are: vaginal breech birth, vaginal twin birth, vaginal posterior birth, VBAC, gestating longer than an estimated 42 weeks, primips who dilate more gradually or slowly than "1 cm per hour", PROM for longer than 18 hours, the presence of meconium in the liquor of a healthy term baby, placentas that take longer than 30 minutes to separate, and having a BMI that is considered 'too high'. Although, like any birth, risks *can* occur in any of these scenarios, none of these are instrinsically dangerous and by labelling them as 'high risk', women's options and alternatives for safety and normality are greatly reduced.

In this post, when I talk about 'staying low risk', I don't mean, 'struggling to somehow stay within these narrow parameters that do not take into account naturally occuring variations of normal such as occur in all of nature." Do all teen-age girls begin menstruating at the same age? Do all pregnancies have to end before the 'guestimated' 42 weeks?

Rather, this post is to discuss simple ways that diet, nutrition and life-style can reduce the chances of developing states of disease that can cause quite serious complications that you can do without.

You may have experienced one of these, or know someone who has:

Pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH)
Preeclampsia, toxemia, HELLP syndrome
Placental abruption
Intra-Uterine Growth Retardation (IUGR)
Pre-term labor and bed rest
Drugs to reduce blood pressure and halt pre-term labor
Small for Gestational Age (SGA) babies
Premature babies

There’s some simple measure you can take to greatly increase your chances of successfully avoiding such complications and to prepare your body to give birth more easily.

NAPSAC (National Association of Parents & Professionals for Safe Alternatives in Childbirth) say that two major factors that improve safety and outcomes for babies and mothers are:

1. Nutrition. Well nourished mothers will have slightly larger babies but will manage labour better – because well nourished cells and tissues function well – just like an athletes’ do.

2. Faith & confidence in your body and in the process of birth. What cause faith to grow?
Knowledge replaces fear and uncertainty.
Love: “Perfect love drives out fear” – a supportive environment does much to allay fear and boost your confidence.

It is the single most important factor in having a healthy baby and a healthy mother. Your diet nourishes all your tissues, and your placenta – from where your baby receives all his or her nourishment.

Dr. Tom Brewer's proven Brewer Medical Diet recommends:

* PROTEIN: Eat 80-100 grams of high quality protein every day. Protein forms the foundation of every cell of your baby's body. These can be lean meats or vegetarian combinations.

* SALT: Salt your food to taste. You actually need more sodium in pregnancy, not less, especially if you're experiencing excessive swelling or increased blood pressure. Lack of sodium will worsen these symptoms. Your taste buds are uniquely designed to tell you how much sodium you need, and your body is naturally able to regulate how much sodium stays and how much is excreted, according to its needs. Feel free to use alternatives to table salt, such as kelp, and let your taste buds be your guide to quantity.

* WHOLE GRAINS – brown rice, wholemeal bread, wheatgerm, lentils etc

* RAW FRUIT & VEG – eat a rainbow of fresh fruit and veg daily

* WATER – drink plenty of plain water every day

Regular physical exercise can help build strength & stamina, and help you develop the mental toughness to persevere even when it ain’t easy or fun anymore. It also makes it easier to recover after birth. The muscles you move get plenty of blood flow and oxygen, and stay supple for birth. Exercise also helps plenty of blood flow, nourishment and oxygen reach your baby through the placenta. Good blood flow means good delivery of the hormones that prepare your body for labour and make your labour progress well. Choose low-impact – walking and swimming are exellent. Make the effort now – it may help your birth go easier. Practicing Optimal Foetal Positioning and Active Birth positions for labour can greatly increase your odds for a straightforward, complication-free birth.

Get informed so you can make responsible decisions that are right for you and your family. If you don't know what your choices are, then you don't have any. Study the Medical Model approach to birth, compared with the Midwifery Model approach to birth – then decide which model best fits your needs. (Be aware that not all midwives follow the midwifery model – some midwives in some institutions follow the medical model.) Consider attending birth classes that are independent of hospitals.

Avoid Harmful Substances
Quit (or at least cut right down) tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, and try to avoid pollution, pesticides, household and industrial chemicals, and any medically unnecessary medications, including over-the-counter drugs. Before taking anything, including herbal remedies, check with your care provider.

Choose a Careprovider Wisely
When choosing a doctor or midwife to assist at your birth, it is important you choose one who not only matches your birth philosophy, but also respects your right to make choices that are right for you. If you discover along the way that you are no longer comfortable with your original choice, it is important to know that you have the right to change care providers.
Example: if you have your heart set on a “natural birth”, by choosing a high-tech hospital that follows the medical model you may well be disappointed – even traumatized – by your care. Choose a birth centre or homebirth with careproviders who understand your wishes, if a natural birth is your goal.
Understand that when you hire a surgeon, you will likely get surgery. If you choose to give birth in an obstetric hospital, you will likely have an obstetric birth. Be clear about your intention: if you truly want a 'natural birth', booking into a hospital is like expecting pizza to be served at McDonalds. If you're serious about a 'natural' birth, look outside the obstetric model. Hire an Independent Midwife and either plan a homebirth (that's you're best chance) or if that still seems too scary, at least plan to labour at home and have the IM accompany you to hospital.
If you plan a Birth Centre birth, again I suggest your hire an Independent Midwife, and have a back-up plan for if you go past 42 weeks - at which point you will be transferred out of the Birth Centre and wind up in the Obstetric wards, regardless of whether you consent to induction or not. If you have an Independent Midwife lined up, you have the choice of waiting for labour to begin and having a homebirth; or waiting for labour to begin, labouring at home with your midwife's support, and moving to hospital when you're ready, with your midwife by your side.

Choose Your Birth Place Wisely
Hospital, Birth Centre, or Homebirth? When choosing where to have your baby, it is good to know that homebirths are as safe as, if not safer than, hospital births. Think about where you will feel the safest and most comfortable. While it is possible to have a healthy natural birth in a hospital setting, it is certainly more difficult. First rule of safe birthing? Location. Second rule of safe birthing? Location. Third rule .... Location.

Hire a Doula
A professional labor assistant, or doula can be a big help to you through your labor. Studies have shown that having a doula can reduce the need for medication, cesarean sections, syntocinon to speed up labor and other interventions common in birth today.

Birth Plans
Create a birth plan that outlines your goals and preferences. Communicate clearly what you want for your birth and how you intend to achieve it. Here is a comprehensive Birth Plan from CARES


Six Keys to Preventing Complications and Giving Birth to a Healthy Baby
by Marci O'Daffer, CCE, Doula
© 2001 Midwifery Today, Inc.

How to Stay Low Risk and Healthy during Pregnancy and Birth
by Amy Haas
© 2001 Amy Haas and Midwifery Today, Inc.

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