How baby responds to your mood swings during pregnancy

lady smilingAs your baby grows, they become ever more attuned to changes in their world inside your tummy. You may not realise it, but your mood can affect your body, which in turn can affect your baby. When you are excited or happy, for instance, your foetus reacts to the chemicals that are released in response to your elation. When you are calm and relaxed your baby benefits from your sense of ease. And, if you are experiencing particular stress or worry, from the second trimester your baby’s heart rate and activity will increase in reaction to your tension.

It’s easier said than done, but try to rest up, eat the right foods and where possible avoid stress. Grab any offers of help from your partner, family and friends with both hands – the more relaxed you are, the more relaxed your baby will be too.

Three signs that you’re going into labour…

3 signs you're going into labourEvery first time mum wonders whether they will recognise that labour has really started. After nine months of your body going through changes, will you know when the big moment has arrived? Here are three signs that you’re going into labour:

1. Bloody Show

Bloody show is the passage of a small amount of blood or blood-tinged mucus through the vagina near the end of pregnancy. It can occur just before labour or in early labour as the cervix changes shape, freeing mucus and blood that sealed the cervix during pregnancy.

Not all women notice this discharge, and some women begin contractions before the mucus plug is discharged.

Don’t confuse this with a brownish, bloody discharge you might experience after a vaginal exam at any of your final appointments with your midwife, which is totally normal.

2. Your waters break

Although a lot of people think this happens to all expectant mums, it only actually happens to about one in four women.

The amount of clear amniotic fluid that escapes also differs from woman to woman. For some it’s just a little trickle – for others it can be a gush.

It can actually occur during labour instead of before it.

When it happens prior to labour, however, there’s a good chance that labour will start within 24 hours. If your water breaks, note the time it breaks, the colour and amount of fluid, and whether there is any foul odour. Then call your midwife and let her know all of this.

3. Contractions
The most obvious sign that that you’re in labour, is the start of regular contractions. At first, these early contractions feel like period cramps or a low backache that comes and goes.

Gradually, the aching or cramping becomes stronger and lasts longer. The contractions also get more frequent, until they come every three to five minutes.
It is recommended that you time your contractions and write down the exact time each one begins and how long it lasts.

Your midwife/hospital will advise you as to when you should go to the hospital/birth centre, if that is your chosen option.

Hold tight, your baby is on its way…

What is hypnobirthing?

When someone is in a situation where they are scared or fearful (for some this can be labour) the body can go into ‘fight or flight mode’. This fear will force adrenaline around your body, which will cause your body to tense up and it will restrict the flow of blood around the body. Should this happen in labour, the muscles of your uterus will not work as well, because they are deprived of blood and oxygen. This can make labour harder and longer. Your baby will be getting less oxygen too.

Tension and fear, will stop oxytocin – the hormone that eases labour – to be released and you will also produce fewer of the natural hormones (endorphins) which numb pain and help you feel good. As a result you will probably have a hard labour.

Hypnobirthing

Hypnobirthing is a tried and tested method that prepares a woman in giving birth in a peaceful and natural way, often without the need for medical intervention. Women who hypnobirth learn special breathing techniques, relaxation, visualisation and meditative practice that help them stay relaxed in labour, and as a result tend to have an easier and shorter labour.

Hypnobirthing classes will teach you and your partner:

  • Positions for labour and birth. Staying in an upright position can help to shorten the length of your labour.
  • Deep relaxation and self-hypnosis. These methods can help you to stay alert, but at the same time shut out the world and focus on your body.
  • Breathing techniques. Ensure your blood and your baby has high levels of oxygen.

The ideal time to start classes is any time after 20 weeks of pregnancy. This will allow you ample time to practise. If you’re already past this stage, don’t be put off. You can still benefit from classes in your last weeks of pregnancy, if you can manage to set time aside to do the techniques.

Birthing partners are welcome to classes. Birth partners can sometimes feel outside the experience of labour and birth. They may be there in the room with you as you labour, but find it hard to understand what you’re going through.

In hypnobirthing classes, your partner will learn alongside you. You will both learn breathing, relaxation and visualisation techniques, which you should do together at home. You should pracise the techniques regularly in the latter stages of pregnancy so that it’s easy for you to bring them to mind when you need them.

Once labour starts, keeping focused can help you and your partner stay as close as you can to your birth plan. You’ll need to think calmly if labour doesn’t go as expected, and you need medical help to give birth.

If you have a stressful job, recognise the benefit to your baby of taking time out during each day. Even if it is just five minutes…

Keeping your birth as stress free as possible, for yourself, and for your baby, is vital. Your state of mind impacts your decisions, your experiences and your physical well-being during labour.

Pregnant lady relaxingEven if your birth takes a different course than expected, being able to stay calm and focused has a positive impact on your baby. During labour it is possible that you might experience nervousness at the unknown of the event, when this happens the oxygen supply to your baby is reduced. If you are anxious and your heart is beating fast, research shows your baby’s is too, if you’re relaxed and calm your baby will benefit. Your baby will benefit from you being centred and confident, giving birth from a place not of fear but of strength.

8 easy techniques that will make labour more comfortable

There are lots of ways to make yourself more comfortable during labour. Try these easy techniques during labour to help relieve the pain and help you relax.

Easy ways to get comfortable in labour

1. Hypnobirthing
Women who have hypnobirthed agree that this is a non-invasive way to reduce muscle tension and pain in childbirth. Hypnobirthing is something you can learn and practice ahead of time so you’ll be comfortable using it in labour.

Breathing techniques help keep you relaxed and focus your attention and visualizing a beautiful scene in your mind, one that makes you feel safe and relaxed is also taught, so that you can focus your mind on this place when you have contractions.

2. Massage
Have your partner massage your arms, legs, or back during labour to help you relax and to relieve tension and pain.

3. Aromatherapy
Wonderful smells help you relax and feel better, so take fragrant lotion or potpourri for your room to give yourself a lift.

4. Rocking/Birthing Ball
Time spent in a rocking chair, gently moving back and forth as you breathe and relax can help you relax during labour, or try bouncing gently on a birthing ball.

5. Walking or Rocking
Walking, or even just pacing right by your bed, decreases discomfort while helping your contractions become stronger and more regular. Or you could try rocking back and forth with your partner while leaning on him.

6. Being in or under water
Try sitting in a shower with a jet spray against your back, or lying in a whirlpool bath. Not all birthing centres or hospitals have a tub or shower in the room, so this is not always possible.

7. TENS machine
A TENS machine sends electrical pulses (on your back) which are believed to prevent pain signals from reaching your brain and stimulate your body to release natural, feel-good substances (endorphins).

8. Music
Make sure you have your favourite, relaxing songs on your phone, tablet, or laptop. Don’t forget your headphones or earbuds!

What is Magical Baby Moments?

Magical Baby Moments is a new company that is currently developing its offering for expectant and new mothers.

As a mother of two, who used hypnobirthing techniques for both of her pregnancies, I strongly believe that for women with low-risk pregnancies, there is absolutely no need for you to be fearful of your birth. That labour doesn’t have to hurt, that you can have a natural birth, without unnecessary medical intervention.

With the correct preparation and the right mindset, you can understand how your body works – after all think of all the magical steps it has taken to create your baby from conception to foetus and soon to be a baby in your arms – and know that labour is the process your body needs to go through to enable your baby to exit its existence in the womb and to join you and your family in the big wide world.

In autumn 2015, I will be offering one-to-one and group hypnobirthing classes to help expectant mums and their birthing partners prepare for a natural birth, in London and Essex.

In my blog, I will be covering the benefits of hypnobirthing as well as general matters from maternity to motherhood.

Follow me also on Facebook.