facebook    twitter    pinterest

Prenatal Hypnobirthing and Yoga Retreats

Retreat

I am so excited to be able to introduce Queensland Hypnobirthing and Yoga Retreats!
These retreats have been in the pipeline for a long time…they started as a glimmer of an idea that I kept inside of my head for far too long, then they evolved into a series of often frenzied emails between myself and Bettina, now they are actually happening!

So what exactly are we doing?
We are hosting a four day educational baby moon.
Nestled in the rainforest of Little Cove, a short walk from Noosa Beach, the retreat will be informative, restorative and luxurious!
I will teach hypnobirthing.
Bettina will lead the mothers, and partners if they so desire, in prenatal yoga classes.
There will be plenty of group down time.
And plenty of time for couples to relax!

This aim is to give parents the practical, physical and mental skills to have calm and empowered birthing and parenting experiences.
Don’t worry though…we won’t be teaching and preaching for four days straight!
The parents-to-be will have plenty of time to get to know likeminded couples and to reconnect as a pair…both are so important during the challenging but so rewarding transition to parenthood.
If during their chill out time, couples are interested in pampering treatments like massages or activities like a pregnancy photo shot, we are happy to facilitate that.
Sounds good doesn’t it?
Spread the word to your pregnant friends…or maybe work on getting pregnant yourself!

If you are interested in the nitty gritty details, here they are.

The first retreat will be held from June 20 to June 24 at Little Cove in Noosa.

The rough schedule is as follows.
Friday -
Evening: arrival and dinner
Saturday -
Morning: breakfast, hypnobirthing, tea
Lunch: group or couple lunch
Afternoon: hypnobirthing, tea, yoga for mothers and any interested partners
Evening: group dinner
Sunday -
Morning: light breakfast, yoga, tea
Lunch: group or couple lunch
Afternoon: hypnobirthing, tea
Evening: group dinner
Monday -
Morning: breakfast, hypnobirthing, tea
Lunch: couple lunch
Afternoon: relax and enjoy
Evening: group or couple dinner
Tuesday -
Morning: light breakfast, yoga

The price is $1200.00…a hypnobirthing course is generally $500.00, a yoga retreat is generally $500.00, so you get four nights of five star Noosa accodation and most meals for $200.00!
I am a firm believer in investing in birth.
You only get to birth your baby once.
And that birth becomes a crucial part of a mother’s story and of her child’s story.
The strength you discover through birth gives you the self-knowledge and self-confidence to trust yourself as a parent.

If you are interested in what is covered in the hypnobirthing portion of the retreat, please head on over to my Hypnobirthing Brisbane website.
Bettina over at Little Old Souls can field any questions about yoga!

Want to join us?

Bryony’s Birth Story

I love this birth story.
Perhaps because the mother, Bryony, is one of my dearest friends.
But I also love it because she demonstrated such strength and determination in the face of adversity.  It would have been so easy for Bryony to give up.  But she didn’t.  She stuck to her hypnobirthing guns!  She made the decisions that were right for her and right for her baby given the circumstances…and those circumstances were about as challenging as they could be!
I am so proud of her!
I hope you are as inspired by her birth story as I am!

999786_10151770817087761_483953387_n

My first baby was born via c-section. I had psyched myself up for a beautiful hypnobirth, but found out that my little boy was breech. All attempts to turn him failed, and my waters broke the day that I was due to speak to a Professor about having a vaginal breech birth, so I had an emergency caesarean.

Two and a half years later I was expecting my second baby. A repeat caesarean didn’t enter my mind. I was determined to have a VBAC. My great friend, Caitlin, who I met during hypnobirthing classes a few years ago and has since become a hypnobirthing practitioner herself, gave me a great refresher. I was really excited about diving into relaxation practice, but at around 28 weeks found out that my second baby was also sitting breech, so I plunged myself into breech VBAC research and this was on my mind every waking minute. All of my antenatal appointments were taken up by interrogating midwives, and trying to find a caregiver who felt comfortable with a breech VBAC, and who also supported a “hands off the breech” approach. I flitted between feeling empowered and determined, and feeling terrified and sobbing that I had a second breech baby. My husband and I decided that it would do me some good if I relaxed and took my mind off things, so we went to the beach one Saturday. When he was playing in the sand with our son, I listened to a fear release script and the surge of the sea relaxation track, and felt more relaxed than I had in a long time.  At my next antenatal appointment, the midwife brought in the bedside scanner, and gave us the great news that the baby had turned. I burst into tears of relief, and immediately started focusing on enjoying the rest of my pregnancy.

On Friday 29 November (39 weeks exactly), I was feeling really huge, hot, and fed up. That evening I was feeling particularly grumpy and sulking over something innocuous that my husband had said when I felt a pop, and knew what it was. My waters had broken, at exactly the same point as they had with my son. That snapped me out of my sulk! Although I had hoped to put off going into hospital, I knew that with prelabour rupture of membranes (PROM), and particularly with a VBAC, it was a good idea to head into hospital, just in case. My husband took our son over to our lovely friend’s house, while I rushed around packing up the last few bits for the hospital bag.

When I got to the hospital I was having irregular contractions and was strapped up to the CTG. I was told that as I had PROM, the baby was at risk of infection, so was given a 48 hour deadline before I would have to be induced or have a Caesar. I was told that I could go home, and would be admitted the next morning. I went home, feeling excited about the prospect of having a lie-in, with my son staying at our friend’s house. I hadn’t thought about the fact that contractions would keep me awake. All of the sensation was in my back, and it was impossible to sleep.

The next morning, Saturday 30 November, we packed up again, drove to the hospital, and I waddled from the carpark to the hospital. I still wasn’t having regular contractions so I waddled back to the car and went home. I tried to sleep, but it was impossible to keep still during the contractions. I lost track of how many Game of Thrones episodes we watched that day.

Sunday morning, after another sleepless night, we went back to the hospital again. I’d decided that there was no way I was coming home a third time.  I  just wanted to get settled into the birth suite. I still wasn’t having regular contractions, and having not had any sleep since Thursday night, I opted for the last thing that I thought I would have – syntocin. It dawned on me that if I still wasn’t having regular contractions at the 48 hour deadline (9 that night; 63 hours since I last properly slept), I would be too exhausted to then been induced.

So it began, and I met my wonderful midwife, Irene. She was a tiny, gentle lady who I immediately felt safe with. If anyone was born to be a midwife, she was. She felt my tummy and said that our baby was lying semi-transverse, hence the back pain. She wasn’t phased at all by the fact that our baby wasn’t presenting as she should have been, and her calmness rubbed off on me.

I had gone in with the mindset that I would be flexible. Of course I wanted a non-induced water birth, with no monitoring, and no drips, but I was realistic. I was happy to go with the flow, but had a few preferences such as a wireless CTG, and delayed cord clamping. Irene warned me that because of the meconium it would be likely that our baby wouldn’t cry when she was born, and would be whisked off by a paediatrician, so delayed cord clamping was unlikely. I didn’t argue with that.  I had done my research into infections, and although the likelihood of infection was minimal, it was a risk that I wasn’t willing to take, especially because of the presence of meconium in my amniotic fluid.  I was able to use a waterproof wireless CTG, so I could walk around and take a shower.  I was wired up to a syntocin and antibiotic drip.

Gradually the syntocin built up. I was breathing through the contractions, trying to use the breathing to maximize the effectiveness of each one, and visualising a wave rising and falling. The sensations were very intense, and all in my back, but the breathing was really helping to keep me calm and focused. I paced up and down the corridor, wheeling my drips alongside me, and stopping to bury my face in my husband’s chest and squeeze his thumb with each contraction. After several hours, Irene offered to examine me (which was fine as I was already hooked up to antibiotics). I was so hopeful that I was nearly there, but I was only 4cm dilated. The midwives in the corridor, who were aware that we had had such a prolonged labour, kept commenting on how well I was doing, which at the time I thought was rubbish. Looking back though, I can see how calm I was, and how I quietly breathed through each contraction.

Every time I saw Irene, she subtlely increased the syntocin, and the contractions became more intense. The contractions were still all in my back, and when hot showers stopped doing the trick, I opted for sterile water injections. Irene said that it was great for back labours, but warned me that the four injections felt like a bee sting. Having been stung by many a bee, I thought it would be easy peasy. I should have known that was an understatement when she explained that two midwives would do two injections at the same time (no doubt, because after the first, most women would refuse any more).  I was bracing myself for the “beesting”, when I felt the mother of all hornets bore a hole in my back. This was the first and last time that I shouted that day. I reeled off quite a list of expletives, and followed it up with a very British apology. Instantly though, the pain had gone from my back, and all I felt were “normal” contractions at the front, which were nothing compared to what I had been feeling in my back. The relief started to fade almost immediately however, and after twenty minutes, had worn off completely. I politely declined Irene’s offer of more hornet stings, and got back in the shower.

The syntocin was now eight times higher than at the beginning, and I started to lose control. The contractions were so intense and rolling into one. I didn’t have any time in between contractions to calm down and refocus, and I lost control of my breathing technique and started to panic. With the panic came the pain. I called my Mum, convinced that she could magic the pain away, but she basically told me to toughen up. I sobbed that I couldn’t do it, and when I told my husband and midwife that “I can’t do it”, and they said “you’re doing so well!”  I almost screamed “nobody’s listening to me!” Irene offered gas and air, which did nothing to relieve the pain in my back, so I made the second decision that I thought I wouldn’t make, and opted for an epidural. I was expecting everything to stand still, and for everyone to gasp “No! Not an epidural!” but Irene just calmly  obliged without judgment and called the anaesthetist.  One the epidural was in, I called him my hero, and straight away lay down and started to relax. For the first time since Thursday night (it was now 5pm on Sunday), I managed to get some rest. I lay there for an hour, thinking of my affirmations, and breathing in the smell of the lavender, which I’d used as a anchor during my relaxation sessions. Just after 6pm an obstetrician came in and Irene checked my progress again. “You’re fully dilated!”, and she almost high-fived the obstetrician. I hadn’t felt such relief since I was told that my baby wasn’t breech.

I knew that I was time limited with this stage, because I was a PROM VBAC, so I knew that I had to work really hard. One birth breath and Irene saw my little girl’s head. It sounds silly, but the one vivid memory that I have from this stage, is Irene letting me rest my foot on her hip. In that moment I really felt a bond with her that I’ll never forget. Twenty minutes later, Elizabeth Ivy Mary was born.

I ended up with a birth that I never thought I’d have. Before becoming a mother, I thought I’d only have a natural birth with no interventions; after having my first baby, I thought I’d only ever experience caesareans.  I ended up with a birth that had both induction and pain relief, and I wouldn’t change a thing. The induction allowed me to birth my daughter before I was too exhausted to do so, and the epidural allowed me to refocus and relax enough for me to birth my daughter vaginally, without a repeat caesarean.  My journey has taught me that birth isn’t about testing yourself as to how much you can endure, and who can do it with as little intervention as possible.  For me it was about dealing with the cards that I was dealt and responding in a way that felt right for me.  Hypnobirthing helped me to do that. The odds weren’t in our favour, with prelabour/prolonged rupture of membranes, meconium, and a semi-transverse VBAC baby, but I am proud of the way I birthed my little Elizabeth!

Aromatherapy for Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond

Wellness is a term that generally means achieving a healthy balance of the mind, body and spirit that results in an overall feeling of wellbeing.
I personally like defining wellness as an active process of making choices to consciously pursue a more successful existence.

I think I first became aware of the concept of wellness way back when I lived in NYC and went for regular acupuncture treatments.
My introduction to the world of wellness was positive and so when I learned I was pregnant, I turned to hypnobirthing.  Many of the techniques I practised and used…guided relaxation, meditation, yoga, aromatherapy…helped me not only with my pregnancy and birth but also with myself.  I felt my mind was calm and focused.  I felt in tune with my body.  I felt at ease.
After giving birth, I forgot my new found clarity and instead became completely engrossed in my charmingly mysterious baby.
When he was about eighteen months old, I realised that even though I was no longer consumed by my baby, I hadn’t returned to feeling like myself.
I missed that sense of connection with myself and so I turned to the wellness techniques that had worked so well for me in the past.
Over the past year I have had regular acupuncture treatments to revive my body and to restore my energy levels.
I have prioritised meditation.
And I am returning to aromatherapy.

Before Christmas I discovered Ameretat Essentials…a local business owned and run by Shireen and her mother Roshni.
I recently spoke to them on the phone…their knowledge is incredible and their passion is absolutely infectious.
Here is what I took away from our conversation.

 How Aromatherapy Works

The scientifically proven theory behind aromatherapy is that the inhalation of essential oils stimulates the part of the brain connected to smell…the olfactory system.  A signal is then sent to the limbic system, the part of the brain that controls breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, stress levels, hormone balance, memory and emotion.  As the limbic system governs the release of chemicals that have physiological and psychological effects, aromatherapy has therapeutic potential.

Burning essential oils is very different from burning a candle.
Essential oils are extracted from plants, are therefore one hundred percent pure and are said to preserve the life force of the plant.  By burning a few drops of essential oil in a diffuser, you are filling the atmosphere with the volatile elements of the plant which, when inhaled, generate natural feelings of physical and emotional wellbeing.
Most candles are made with fragrant oils which are a mix of natural and synthetic chemical components and which are then diluted to created a uniformity of aroma strength.

How To Use Essential Oils

in a vaporisor
put a few drops in the bottom of your shower
add to a hot bath
massage
as an additive to natural cleaning products and as a natural room spray
more specific uses include steam inhalation to clear a cold or a hot or cold compress to relieve inflammation or swelling

Like with most good habits, I think you have to make aromatherapy a part of your daily routine.
Add a few drops of an energising oil to your shower every morning to prepare you for your day.
Or add a few drops of a soothing oil to your bath every night to ready yourself for rest.
Use an oil to enhance relaxation meditation…you will find that you quickly begin to associate the smell with feeling calm and at ease and simply inhaling the scent will transport you to that deep state.
Put a vaporiser in your child’s room and, while you are reading to them before bed, add a relaxing scent that will lull them to sleep.

Oils For Pregnancy

Pregnancy and childbirth are natural physiological events in the life of a woman and aromatherapy acts as a complement to conventional care.
Blends for stretch marks and for birthing
Spearmint (but NOT Peppermint): relief from nausea
Lavender: helps induce relaxation and restful sleep

Oils For Labour
Blends for a positive and effective labour
Clary Sage: hormonal balancer, encourages labour and helps birthing mother relax, assists with post-natal depression

Oils For Baby
Blends for cradle cap, congestion, colic, nappy rash and massage.
Chamomile: a gentle and soothing oil, eases tension, calms the mind, promotes restful sleep
Orange: a happy and optimistic oil, conveys joy, may also help with insomnia

Oils For Post Partum
Bye Baby Blues Blend
Geranium: a natural hormone balancer, enhances relationships, creativity and sensuality, helps lift spirits
Jasmine: use if feeling inadequate or undesirable, helps post-natal depression, an aphrodisiac

Oils For Every Day
Synergies are blended oils that have a more powerful physical, emotional and spiritual effect than do individual essential oils.
There are synergies available to aid sleeping, relaxing, meditating, alertness, sensuality, respiratory problems, nausea, and to add to your laundry.

Please take care when using essential oils and consult an expert.
Some oils are not safe when pregnant or breastfeeding and others can aggravate asthma and allergies.

Pregnancy Mythbusters: Food

Baby sushi costume available at The Wishing Elephant on Etsy

Baby sushi costume available at The Wishing Elephant on Etsy

When I was pregnant I thought a lot of the loooooong list of things I all of a sudden couldn’t eat was a lot of bollocks.  That being said I also wasn’t about to throw caution to the wind and start downing blue cheese like it was going out of style because I certainly didn’t want anything to happen to my baby.  Turns out I was correct to listen to that little nugget of fear within me…did you know that pregnant women are twenty times more likely to become infected with the listeria bacteria than the normal adult population?

Because that little tadpole growing inside of your is only half you…the other half being the owner of the sperm that found its way inside you…your body would normally reject it and attack it.  What saves your little peanut is the fact that for the duration of your pregnancy your immune system essentially lets down its guard.  So because your immune system is not defending your body with the strength that it usually does you are vulnerable to the effects all kinds of bugs that you normally wouldn’t have a problem eliminating.  And certain foods contain lots of bugs.

Listeria is the main bacteria bug that you want to avoid during pregnancy.  While listeriosis won’t have much of an effect on you…flu like symptoms for a few days…it can have dire consequences for your baby.  Listeria can infect the placenta, the amniotic fluid and the baby and can cause miscarriage or stillbirth.  Very bad.  Not worth some camembert.

So where are you likely to encounter listeria?

Any dairy products that are made with unpasteurised milk.  Stay away from brie, camembert, goat cheese and feta.  That being said pasteurised versions of most of those cheeses are available……just check the label and ensure that it says pasteurised milk in the ingredients.  Cottage cheese, ricotta, cream cheese and hard cheeses like cheddar and Parmesan are generally fine but it is probably worth a peek at the label just to ensure that they have been made with pasteurised milk.

Last night’s dinner.  Contamination can occur after food has been cooked and listeria can survive and continue to grow in the fridge.  So reheat the hell out of any leftovers.  The microwave becomes your new best friend when you are pregnant.  Make sure any leftovers are nuked until they steaming hot.

Deli foods.  For the same reason that you have to reheat your leftovers do not eat any cold cuts or deli meats or pates or smoked fish or any prepared salads unless they are cooked until they are steaming hot.  So no pepperoni unless it is on a pizza.  And my GP told me one terrible story about a woman who ate a meat pie from one of those pie warmers and lost her baby.  So I am going to add meat pies to this list.

Other food you should avoid are sprouts, soft serve ice cream and sushi.

Speaking of sushi, fish is another food group that all of a sudden gets confusing when you are pregnant.  You read that fish is full of omega-3s that are fantastic for your baby’s developing brain and so you should eat lots of fish while you are pregnant.  Then you turn the page and read that fish is full of mercury that is harmful to your baby and so you should not eat fish while you are pregnant.  Arrrrgh.  As if you don’t have enough to worry about, now you have to worry about fish!

Let’s start with mercury.  Mercury can damage many parts of the body including the nervous system, the lungs, the kidneys, hearing and vision.  Certain types of fish are known to contain high levels of mercury…stay away from shark, swordfish, marlin, king mackerel and tilefish.  Fish that have low levels of mercury include prawns, salmon, trout, squid and octopus, halibut and canned light tuna.  Next up, omega-3s.  In addition to providing you and the baby with all those nice fatty acids that are so important to brain development, omega-3s have been linked with other benefits including a longer pregnancy and a larger birth weight.  Fish that are high in omega-3 levels are salmon, mackerel, trout, bluefish and canned light tuna.  So if you imagine a Venn diagram with fish with low mercury levels on one side and fish with high omega three levels on the other then in the middle you get salmon, trout and canned light tuna.  So that is what I ate when I was pregnant!

So that is it…those food myths aren’t really myths at all…confirmed!

Now you can eat up…as long as you aren’t too nauseous to eat!

Interview with Lisa from Mummy Manifesto

Today I am over at Mummy Manifesto talking about one of my favourite topics…birth!

Lisa is a midwife and has interviewed various health and birth professionals asking them to explain the importance of their role in supporting pregnant women.
Her hope is that if we share our collective knowledge, mothers will be able to more easily, safely and calmly navigate the worlds of birth and women’s health.
Such a noble aim!

I was honoured to be included and to explain my perspective on natural pain relief.
If you are interested, you can read the interview here.

LogoHeader

Baby Wipes and a Johnson’s Baby GIVEAWAY

I think baby wipes are one of the best parts about having a baby.
Well besides the gorgeous snuggles, the unmitigated affection, the unconditional love, and watching them grow into their own lovely selves of course!
In addition to the obvious, baby wipes have a million other uses.
I do not know what I did before baby wipes.
What did I clean spills up with?  How did I gather up crumbs?  What did I use if the couch needed a quick wipe down?  Or if I needed to spot clean my shirt?
I suppose none of these situations existed before I had my boy…or at least they didn’t occur with the regularity that they do now!

When my toddler was just a baby, we had baby wipes only on his change table and in his diaper bag.
Now that he is more mobile…and more messy…we have baby wipes everywhere.
On the change table, in his bag, in my bag, in the kitchen, in the bathroom, in the craft area, in the pram, in the car…rarely are baby wipes more than an arms reach away!

Johnson’s Baby is a brand that I grew up with…No More Tears Johnson’s Baby Shampoo was perched on the edge of our bathtub and Johnson’s Baby Oil was lined up right beside it.

So when looking for baby products for my little guy, I was pleased to see that Johnson’s Baby was still around.
Johnson’s Baby Wipes leave my baby’s skin clean and smooth…they get the job done when it comes to cleaning my baby’s bottom that is what I am most concerned about!

Courtesy of Johnson’s Baby, I am giving away a package including Johnson’s Baby Wipes, Johnson’s Baby Bedtime Bath, Johnson’s Baby Bedtime Lotion, Johnson’s Baby Bedtime Oil.
All you have to do is like Hypnobirthing Brisbane on Facebook and leave a comment here on the blog…you can tell me a funny nappy changing story or an unusual use for baby wipes!
Entries close Sunday 10 November.
The winner will be announced on Facebook and on the blog.  Please include your email address in your entry so I can easily contact you should you be the winner.
Open to Australian residents only.

Good luck!
And while you are at it, enter the Facebook giveaway for a free Hypnobirthing Brisbane session!  On the Hypnobirthing Brisbane Facebook Page, scroll down the news feed to October 9, like and share the giveaway photo and cross your fingers!

Baby Bureaucracy

For the first few months it seems that, as a mother, you are primarily a food source and a personal assistant.  For such little people, babies require an insane amount of administrative work.
Let’s start with what needs to be done before the baby is even born.
1. Start the claim for Paid Parental Leave.
This is done through Centrelink.  The website has a  calculator you can use to determine which scheme is better for you and your family.  If you decide the Baby Bonus is for you, the online claims service is available here.  If you opt for the Paid Parental Leave, you can start your claim here.  These claims are a pain in the butt.  Centrelink requires so much information…passport information, tax file number, income information.  So you search through that huge pile of paper in your “important documents” folder, find everything you need and then think you are done…but you are not, not even close!
After the baby is born you get another form which asks for all of the same information that the online claim did.  I thought that I didn’t have to fill in the Newborn Child Form because I had already done the online claim and it was literally asking for the same, exact information…but no, you have to do both.  And when you apply for the Child Care Benefit and the Child Care Rebate you have to fill out another nearly identical form.  Apparently Centrelink has an even worse memory than the mother of a newborn!
So, my advice, if you can print out the final claim from the Centrelink website do that.  But if you can’t print it out, write down all the information and keep it somewhere handy as you will need it again and again and again.
2. If your child needs to attend child care before they are fifteen months old, get them on some wait lists.
Most child care centers have one nursery…which means they have exactly eight spots for children under the age of fifteen months.  After the age of fifteen months they are considered toddlers and most centers have two toddler rooms so competition for the spots becomes a lot less fierce.  Out of those eight spots, preference is given to families who already have a child at the center.  So that might leave five or six nursery spots for new families.  And as one center told me, they get one application a day.  So that is 365 applications for the nursery a year…so that means 357 babies won’t get spots.  Another center cheerfully told me that there were 200 unborn babies on the list ahead of my unborn baby.  Maybe it is just because of where we live…close to the CBD so apparently many families drive to the child care center, park the car near there, drop the kids off and then walk or take the bus to the city…but getting into child care is no joke.  So if child care is something that is going to be necessary for your family, get on a wait list or two or three or four.
Baby Feet Photo
Okay, now the baby is born and the list gets even longer
1. Get a birth certificate.
This is a bit hazy because I was the sleep deprived mother a newborn while I was filing out all these forms but I believe you first have to register the birth.  You get a birth registration package from the hospital.  The clock is ticking with this one…you have 60 days to fill out this form and return it to the Queensland Government.  Once the birth is registered then you can apply for a birth certificate.  These forms are also a pain in the butt as they require certified copies and witnesses.  Once you have the birth certificate the form fun really begins!
2. Finish Centrelink claims and enroll in Medicare.
I believe the hospital also supplies you with the Newborn Child Form that you need to complete the claims.  And once you have your baby, have submitted their online claim, have their birth certificate and have this form you can march on into the Family Assistance Office where there will likely be some other administrative nonsense and then finally you can officially register for the Baby Bonus or for Paid Parental Leave and enroll your baby in Medicare.
3. Apply for a passport.
My baby and I flew to the US when he was three months old so we had to get his passport sorted but even if you don’t have plans to travel you might as well take care of applying for a passport…at this point what is another form.  Applying for a passport involves….you guessed it…filling out a form…this one also requires a certifier and a witness.  And it involves a fee.  And it also involves baby passport photos!  Try to get a three week old baby to have their eyes open on demand!  They cannot be crying.  And if your baby is of smiling age they cannot be smiling…or have their mouth open.  We were at the post office for about three hours.  The first two of which my baby decided to enter the deepest slumber he had ever had…he would not be woken.  The last of which we spent trying to get an acceptable shot.  Probably because accomplishing this is a next to impossible task and requires the shop attendant to have the greatest patience, not all post offices take baby passport photos so check with your local post office before setting out.  Once you have your photos, your fee and your form then you can make an appointment with the post office…they review the application and with any luck you will receive your passport in the mail a few weeks later!  Baby passports last for five years…although a post office representative told me that they will reprocess passports with new photos free of charge.  I haven’t tried this yet but likely will before we head back to the States as my baby will look very different at age three years than he did at age three weeks!
4. Get on wait lists for private kindergartens and private schools.
This is all obviously if you want your child to attend private school but as we learned with the child care centers, wait lists are no joke.  So if you have even the slightest desire for your child to be educated in the private system you might as well get in early.  Most of these schools require you to fill out a simple form and to pay them some money…the fees range from ten dollars for a kindergarten to three hundred dollars for high school.  And keep in mind that after the form and the fee you are just on a wait list…that does not guarantee you a place at the school but it allows your child’s application to be considered when the time comes.
5. Claim for the Child Care Benefit and the Child Care Rebate
If your child is going to go child care then you will need to claim for these schemes through Centrelink.  From what I understand the Child Care Benefit is means tested.  The Child Care Rebate is not and allows you to get half of your child care costs back…up to $7500 a year.  For reasons I do not understand, in order to apply for the Child Care Rebate you have to also apply for the Child Care Benefit.  As I said above the claims for these schemes require all the same information that you have already provided to Centrelink at least twice.  So delve back into that “important documents” folder, take a deep breath, and instead of cursing Centrelink, give your little one a big kiss!

What To REALLY Expect

I was reading a friend of a friend’s blog and she did an entry about the ubiquitous book What to Expect When You’re Expecting. For those of you who haven’t had a baby since the Dr. Spock era, What to Expect is the must have manual for moms to be. It is a helpful guide to pregnancy but it does provide a rather vanilla version of the whole experience. So, inspired by both the book and a fellow blogger I thought I would jot down some of my thoughts about what you may really expect of pregnancy and motherhood.

1. Expect to cry a million times more than you did before you became a mother. This starts before you have the baby and gets worse afterwards. I don’t mean actual sad crying, I mean the emotional sort of crying. I cannot get through a feed the children type ad without tearing up.  Sometimes just looking at my husband and my baby playing will bring on that teary feeling. Other times just thinking about my baby will get me all choked up. I think you just get so full of love that there isn’t enough room inside you for it all and it has to escape through your eyes.

2. Be prepared to realize your naivety on an almost daily basis. It is amazing how much you…and probably your baby…learn and how quickly you learn it. And with that steep learning curve comes constant moments of grasping what an idiot you were. I suppose this is why they say the second child is easier. But with the first expect to look back on a month, a week or even a day and understand that at the start of it you were completely clueless…this happens again and again and again and I imagine you remain on this cycle of cluelessness until the baby is no longer a baby but is instead about eighteen years old.

 3. This is somewhat related to the point above…don’t put too much effort into trying to figure it all out. Books, websites, doctors, your own mother, will all tell you what is best. Or rather what MIGHT be best. Because it might not be best for you and your baby at all. I suppose the real point is that all of these sources put pressure on you as they make it seem like there is an answer…and that at some point it will all become clear and you will become the perfect mother with the perfect baby. Sometimes there are no answers…why did my baby sleep all day yesterday but not at all today…no one knows and really, putting effort into analysing it isn’t going to make my baby take a good nap tomorrow. Even if you were able to come up with an answer, babies develop constantly and just when you have them figured out they go and change on you. I think once you realise that you won’t ever have all the answers, you can simply enjoy your baby.

4. You will at the same time care more and less about body fluids than you ever have before. The more involves diapers…has the baby had enough wet diapers today, is baby poo supposed to look like that. The less involves you…baby pee on my shirt, baby vomit in my hair, breast milk all over my bed.

5. You will become more efficient than ever before. I know this seems counterintuitive but once the baby comes along you can’t leisurely do anything…except be with your baby. All other tasks have to be crammed into to that ten minutes when the baby is happy on the play mat or into that forty minute morning nap. Although I have heard legends of babies who actually sleep for hours during the day, my baby was not one of them so for me, doing the laundry was done at a sprint.

6. You won’t sleep. Again, I have heard legends about these babies who sleep…allegedly I was even one of them. But when my baby was four months old, I could count on one hand the number of nights I had a decent sleep.  You just learn to function at code red sleep deprivation levels.  Of course this is not to say that you don’t crave sleep.  You do.  And you would do almost anything to get through the night without having to open your eyes!

Sleep Like A Baby

Acupuncture As A Form Of Induction

When my pregnancy clicked over to week 38 and my baby still was not even engaged, I began to panic.  When my obstetrician, who was very pro natural childbirth, began to talk about a caesarean section, I started crying.  After taking a few deeps breaths and remembering that I was prepared to cope with whatever turns my birthing took, I called an acupuncturist.

Much like Hypnobirthing, acupuncture is considered alternative.  However, much like Hypnobirthing, acupuncture is an ancient, repeatedly and consistently tried, tested and documented practice.  And one that has been used to naturally bring about the beginning of birthing.

Acupuncture can be used not so much to induce labour but to encourage the natural onset of labour.  The general theory of acupuncture is based on the premise that bodily functions are regulated by an energy, called qi, which flows through the body.  This energy can become unbalanced or blocked but through the stimulation of certain anatomical locations, this energy can be corrected.  In the case of birthing, acupuncture may release an energy blockage preventing the normal onset of labour form occurring.

When I spoke to my acupuncturist, he said the treatment principles he employs for mothers approaching their guess dates acts on three areas; calming the energy in the mind, strengthening the energy in the body to progress towards birth and to prepare for labour, and gently moving the energy around the baby so they are inclined to drop into the correct position if they are not yet engaged or to engage further if they are engaged.  The end result of the acupuncture sessions should be a mother who is ready to birth and a baby who is ready to arrive.

Like pregnancy, childbirth, and mothering, how you will react to acupuncture is very individual.  In my instance, I had an initial session about two weeks before my due date.  The first time I visited my obstetrician after receiving acupuncture, there was no change in my baby’s status; he still was not engaged.  The next time I went for acupuncture, I used my Rainbow Relaxation techniques in the hopes that a deep state of relaxation would enhance the treatment.  I am not sure if it was the acupuncture, the relaxation or just that my body and my baby were finally ready but the morning after my second session I started having mild surges and not long after that, my baby was born!

The Hormones Of Birth

As my background is nursing, the aspect of Hypnobirthing that appeals most to me is that scientifically, Hypnobirthing makes sense.  Even though the name makes it seem like the techniques might involve a bit of voodoo, the program is founded on common physiological knowledge and evidence-based practice.  I believe that once you understand the very basics of how the hormones your body produces naturally enable you to experience beautiful birth that will leave you feeling euphoric and empowered, you will be convinced that Hypnobirthing is a program that is worth investigating!

Keep Calm And Hypnobirth

The primary hormones involved in birth are oxytocin, catecholamines, prolactin, and beta-endorphins.

Oxytocin is the hormone that causes the uterus to contract, producing surges.  Oxytocin is present throughout pregnancy but shortly before your body is ready to begin birthing, your uterus develops thousands of oxytocin receptors.  When the oxytocin present in your bloodstream bonds with these receptors, birthing begins.  The level of oxytocin increases throughout labour and is highest at the time of birth, contributing to the sense of elation that you feel when you deliver your baby into the world.  Once your baby is born, the high levels of oxytocin also ensure that your uterus continues to contract, delivering your placenta and reducing the risk of bleeding.

It is important to recognise that synthetic oxytocin given during inductions or when surges are deemed to be inefficient, may not be effective because if your uterus has not developed the essential receptors then there is nothing for this drug to bond too; if your baby is not ready to be born then all the synthetic oxytocin in the world will not bring about labour.  Additionally, synthetic oxytocin does not cross the blood brain barrier so does not produce the same post birth high that naturally occurring oxytocin does.

Catecholamines, including adrenaline, help you summon the final burst of energy that is necessary to birth your baby.  Just prior to the release of the catecholamines, you may feel that you need to rest and you may experience a moment of doubt.  But just as your body knew exactly how to grow a baby, your body knows how to deliver a baby.  Without you realising it, your adrenaline levels rise, you will feel the need to switch from surge breathing to breathing down, and it won’t be long before you are holding your baby in your arms.

Prolactin is the hormone primarily responsible for breast milk synthesis.  Prolactin works through a positive feedback loop; when your newborn baby suckles at your breast, prolactin is produced, the presence of the hormone in your bloodstream causes your mammary glands to contact, milk let down occurs, and the continued suckling causes prolactin to continue to be released.  Like oxytocin, prolactin also has an effect on your emotion and behaviour.  By increasing submissiveness, anxiety and vigilance, prolactin encourages a selfless devotion to your baby.  Essentially it turns you into a mother.

Beta-endorphins help to relieve pain.  Interestingly, very high levels of beta-endorphins can slow labour by reducing oxytocin levels helping to decrease the intensity of labour according to your individual ability to cope with surges.  Similarly to oxytocin, beta-endorphins induce the feeling of euphoria and as the hormones present in your bloodstream are also present in your baby’s bloodstream, these hormones ensure both mother and baby are ecstatic and ready to bond.

Together these hormones prime you to have a perfect, natural birth.  And by using the relaxation and meditation techniques of Hypnobirthing you are able to take full advantage of the way these hormones work with you and with your baby.  By permitting your body do what it was born to do, you will deliver your baby successfully and begin motherhood feeling positive and full of love.