Guest post! – Food cravings in pregnancy

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Do you get strange cravings for food during pregnancy? It’s really common and in this guest blog post Anna, the Nutritional Therapist from The Gentle Touch, explains what pregnancy cravings are along with some healthy alternatives for what you crave!

 
Cravings may happen at any point during your pregnancy. Sometimes unusual cravings can develop, which are known as pica. Some pica include ice, freezer frost, washing starch, corn starch, clay dirt, dust or charcoal.

Dust, charcoal, dirt and ice cravings may indicate an iron deficiency.
Chalk and plaster cravings may indicate a calcium deficiency.  More commonly expectant mums get really hungry, and often really crave certain foods. If you can’t get enough of the following foods, here are some alternatives which may be the root of your craving:

 
Chocolate – may indicate a need for more magnesium. High quality chocolate such as dark chocolate (70% cocoa) can provide some antioxidants, iron and magnesium and less sugar than milk chocolate. Magnesium rich foods: whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and green vegetables such as spinach.

 
Crisps – You may be after the sodium, or perhaps you love the feeling of crunching food. How about trying kale crisps, humus with raw veg sticks, or roasted chickpeas.

 
Pickles – Sometimes this can indicate a need for more sodium. Try sauerkraut which also added bonus of probiotic benefits, or adding pickle to a salad.

 
Cake, stodgy carbs – It’s really common to crave these foods when you’re tired and need energy. Try to increase your protein intake to help boost your energy levels. Can you make some nuts and seeds into energy balls with dates? Or how about flapjacks made with banana to sweeten instead of syrup.

 
Spicy foods – A common craving in pregnancy, spicy foods cool down body. Add chilli and spices (e.g. ginger, pepper) to food and enjoy it.

 
Sour tastes (e.g. lemon)- You may enjoy the sharp taste or sour foods so add lemon to water and drink through the day.

 
Get some ideas for healthy pregnancy foods and recipe ideas from The Gentle Touch – they are running a new Pregnancy Nutrition Workshop on 18th November in Southville. There is a 2 for 1 offer on booking until 12th November if you book with a friend, and loads of discounts and offers in their booking bundle.

Email info@the-gentle-touch.com or call Anna on 07812010412 for more details.

Anna has a diploma in naturopathic nutrition from the college of natural medicine, she is also a member of the BANT and CNHC
www.the-gentle-touch.com
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/thegentletouchbristol/

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Giving birth with virtual reality for a positive experience

cofSo here’s the question that’s been playing on my mind recently – could using virtual reality (VR) technology be helpful to women in labour?

You might associate these VR gadgets with your average teenage boy who is obsessed with the world of gaming and is glued to his Xbox, however the use of VR in healthcare is actually gaining momentum. There have been promising results with its use in areas such as pain management, physical therapy, PTSD and cognitive rehabilitation. In fact virtual reality offers growing opportunities in many areas of our lives – you can even experience the clubbing world through VR as described by a club goer here – VR dancefloors: Techno in Berlin.  Of course clubbing and gaming are forms of entertainment, but the physical act of giving birth with VR…really? how would that actually work?

The idea is that women would be encouraged to wear a VR headset whilst in labour that projects relaxing images whilst playing peaceful music or birth hypnosis tracks. This technology helps takes them away from the reality that they are birthing in a medical setting surrounded by strangers wearing uniforms which for many women can be unsettling and give rise to fearful thoughts and negative feelings.

The famous obstetrician Dr Grantly Dick Read wrote his renowned book ‘childbirth without fear’ back in 1942. He hypothesized that the emotional and physical effects of fear can hinder the birthing process which is the basis for the hypnobirthing antenatal courses that we teach today.

Our courses teach deep relaxation and hypnosis techniques to avoid the fear response and have helped many women to have a positive and sometimes pain free and enjoyable birth experience – yes really!! One of the techniques we teach is visualization – encouraging women to take themselves mentally to their ‘safe and peaceful place’. The VR headset would really help women to do this by taking them on a visual journey away from the labour ward surrounded by monitors and other medical equipment to a more tranquil setting. Such relaxation techniques help to suppress adrenaline and encourage the flow of endorphins and the hormone oxytocin to bring about effective contractions that can results in an easier birth. So we know that mental relaxation can bring about physical relaxation which can in turn aid the birthing process, however the hospital birthing environment these days is not conducive to this.

We are no longer living in the 1950’s when most women gave birth in the familiar surroundings of their own home with a midwife they had come to know and trust through their pregnancy. Yes we really do love the T.V. series ‘call the midwife’ but this is 2017 and times have changed. It seems likely that the business of giving birth in the UK will be obstetric led in the not too distant future. With more than 25% of all labours in England being induced the reality now for many women is that they will have a medically managed birth on labour ward with midwives and doctors they have never met before. Many of us midwives have now accepted this as fact even if it doesn’t sit comfortably with us because research suggests that continuity of care from midwives in a low risk setting (unless women have serious medical or obstetric complications) results in better outcomes. Many women that do plan to birth at home or in a midwifery led unit actually find themselves giving birth on labour ward due to unforeseen circumstances such as staff shortages /  midwifery units being closed etc.

The use of technology in the birth room such as VR headsets is however questionable –
Should we really be encouraging women to detach themselves from the ‘present moment’ whilst giving birth, why would this innovation be a good idea?

Well there are many women that suffer PTSD following childbirth. Many have pushed their babies out without assistance, some even with an epidural, which goes to show it’s not just the mode of birth or addressing the pain that some women experience in labour that prevents PTSD – birth trauma is more complex than that. If changing the perception of birth through methods such as VR enables women to experience birth in a more positive way and avoids PTSD then surely we should be embracing this.

One study into women’s experience of episiotomy repair post birth whilst using V.R gave positive findings.

And it’s not only patients that can benefit; medical staff can too through training with VR. Will future student midwives experience their first ‘catch’ through VR? From a practical point of view this could improve patient safety. As always we midwives need to focus on making birth not only a safe but a positive experience for all women and move with the times.

For pregnant women what will the future hold? Maybe as you arrive at the hospital in the throes of labour, you’ll be greeted by your midwife, and given not only a pot for your urine sample, but also a VR headset to wear too, just what the doctor ordered!

Midwife Amy has recently attended one of our hypnobirthing courses taught by Katheryn and has agreed to give VR a go during her labour. As with the other hypnobirthing techniques she’ll practise using the VR headset during pregnancy as she relaxes at home. This will condition her mind to associate the calming images and sounds with deep physical relaxation so that when her contractions start and she puts on the VR headset she will be transported back to that peaceful ‘virtual place’. We’re looking forward to hearing how she gets on…. watch this space, we’ll keep you posted!

Sharon x

www.bumpsnbabies.org

Top 5 Tips For The Aspiring Midwife

Screenshot_20160525-122450_1Hello future student Midwives! Just a little note to introduce myself –  My name is Kelly and I am a third year student midwife studying at UWE in Bristol.  I will be coming along to give a presentation at the bumps ‘n’ babies Aspiring Midwife Study Day on Saturday the 4th June at Cossham hospital. I’ll be talking about life as a student midwife to give you an insight to  – the academic side, clinical placements, expectations and realities etc. So jot down a list of any questions, concerns and queries that you might have and I will be more than happy to address them on the day.

There are just a few tickets left for this event that proved to be very popular last year, so join me, and midwives Sharon and Jade, to learn more about the journey to becoming a midwife.

Clink on this link for more info – Aspiring Midwife Study Day

Here are Kelly’s Top 5 Tips for the Aspiring Midwife

  • Looking after the public enables you to care for a variety of women and their families. During your placements expect the unexpected, and when situations arise always remain professional, treat everyone equally and most importantly keep yourself, your colleagues and your women and families safe.

 

  • Sexual health, Pregnancy, Pregnancy Loss and Parenthood are some of the most common, yet unique experiences women and families encounter in life. During your training and career as a midwife always remind yourself that although these experiences are common, normal and frequent to you, for the women this is their individualised, special and unique pregnancy so always be just as excited, enthusiastic and compassionate each time.

 

  • Prepare to be extremely tired – working shifts, meeting academic deadlines, social and family life are manageable but you have to be organised – you will get use to it over time!

 

  • Read, read and more reading –knowledge is power. Start with the simple things, NHS choices is a reliable source to get started on pregnancy pathways, terminology and the maternity services that are available. Familiarise yourself with the basics and then use midwifery textbooks such as Mayes and Myles midwifery for more in depth information.

 

  • As a student midwife always remember you are there to learn, to grow and to deliver a safe and professional service. Even if you have children of your own or have other midwifery experience – there is always something new and valuable to learn from each woman and from the midwives, be a sponge, and absorb it all!

Looking forward to meeting you all soon!

Kelly

xx

The Latest Birth Fashions

jeans pic

Jeans – that one item of clothing that almost everyone owns. Yes they’ve stood the test of time and they never seem to go out of fashion. There are different styles and ways of wearing your jeans; this season it’s out with the skinny fit and in with the loose fit complete with turn ups for a more casual vibe. Versatile, hard wearing and comfy, what’s not to love about jeans?

So what’s all this got to do with birth? Well believe it or not although babies are all born pretty much the same way, there are fashions and trends that emerge from time to time that shape the experience of pregnancy and birth for mums and their babies.

Here’s just a few of the latest birth fashions, will they grow in popularity or fall by the wayside? Only time will tell…!

Umbilical cord ties

This is a relatively new trend – some women are wanting their baby’s umbilical cord to be tied following the birth with a cord tie rather than the usual plastic clamp. A quick internet search will bring up several companies selling these cord ties with different styles to choose from. Check out this letter style design, what a great idea for identical twins – a different letter or colour helps tell them apart!

Screenshot_20160507-201923_1            Screenshot_20160507-202021_1      plastic clamp

Women that have used these cord ties say they feel more confident changing nappies without having the clamp to deal with. They also feel that skin to skin cuddles are more comfortable for them and their babies without the cord clamp getting in the way.

Birth Photography

Thanks to the smart phone there seems to be more photos being taken of women during labour and birth these days, but some couples are choosing to take it to the next level and are hiring a birth photographer to capture amazing emotional scenes such as these –

birth photo    birth photography

Hypnobirthing

Yes of course hypnobirthing gets a mention! Back in 2009 when bumps ‘n’ babies came to be not many people had heard of hypnobirthing and midwives were baffled by the concept of women using self hypnosis for labour. In the last two years there’s been a hypnobirthing boom with more and more women raving about the benefits. Midwives are on board with it too. If a hypnobirthing mum arrives on labour ward smiling, reporting ‘just a bit of pressure in her bottom’ then its gloves at the ready – she might just be about to give birth! It’s true that some hypnobirthing mums can seem too calm to be in full blown labour, they surprise us by breathing out a 9lb baby with seemingly little effort, their calm demeanour can fool even the most experienced of midwives!!

Placental encapsulation

placenta encapsulation

Women eating their placenta following the birth is not exactly a new fad but placenta encapsulation is. With placenta encapsulation the placenta is steamed, dehydrated, ground and placed into pills for women to ingest post birth. This trend has recently grown in popularity thanks to the number of celebrities opting to do this, the latest being Coleen Rooney! It’s believed that these ‘magic pills’ can reduce post birth bleeding, ward off postnatal depression, improve the appearance of skin/hair/nails, and encourage a healthy milk supply. However there is little scientific research to prove these health benefits. Women choosing to have their placenta encapsulated are strongly advised to contact a trained specialist such as those registered with IPEN.

Vaginal seeding

bacteria

Some mums giving birth by caesarean section are choosing to smear their newborns mouth, face and body with a swab soaked in their vaginal secretions, a trend known as ‘vaginal seeding’. It’s all about the microbiome! There is evidence to suggest that babies born by caesarean section appear to be at increased risk of illnesses such as asthma, allergies and food intolerances in later life compared to babies born vaginally and it’s believed that the lack of exposure to the bacteria present in the mother’s vagina at birth may have a pivotal role to play.

How it works – a sterile gauze is folded into a fan, moistened with sterile water, then inserted into the vagina and left to ‘colonise’ for one hour. The gauze is then removed and put into a sealed bag until birth when the swab can be wiped over the baby’s face and body to mimic the passage through the birth canal.

Although scientists are understanding more about the impact that the microbiome plays in human health, there is currently no scientific evidence to prove that vaginal seeding at birth is effective and mums should be aware that some bacteria in the vagina can occasionally cause illness in newborns.  We’ll be hearing the word microbiome more in the future, it’s a case of watch this space….!

Natural caesarean

natural c section

A natural caesarean is similar to the ‘bog standard’ caesarean section but with a slight twist. The ‘twist’ involves a slower, more natural delivery of the baby through the abdomen. How it works – An incision is made to the mother’s abdomen for the doctors to ease the baby’s head out, the screen is then dropped to allow the parents to watch as their baby wriggles its way into the world. The baby can remain in the womb for up to 4 minutes after the head is born, it is then guided onto the mother’s chest for immediate skin to skin contact with the cord still intact to allow optimal cord clamping. Mother’s are able to feel more involved during this special moment of ‘giving birth’ and trials are currently under way to determine whether a natural caesarean would benefit mums and newborns compared to the standard procedure. Read this mum’s story of her natural cesarean.

When it comes to giving birth it’s not one size fits all. As with clothing fashions what appeals to one person might not be to another person’s taste, so it’s great that women have choices. It’s crucial that women are involved in making decisions about how they bring their babies into the world to shape their birth experience by the use of research findings and what’s right for them.

Sharon x

http://www.bumpsnbabies.org

Bristol, the best place to have a baby!

clifton-suspension-bridge-balloons-bristolIn 2013 Bristol was named best city in the UK to live in. This came as no surprise to us Bristolians, we know we’ve got it pretty good living here. Just one look online at right move will tell you that many are flocking to our city to grab a piece of the action, flippin’ house prices going through the roof – arghh!!! So why do people love Bristol? Well it’s not just the place itself but the people: Us Bristolians are a pretty chilled out, unassuming lot.

When the one born every minute cameras set up camp in one of Bristol’s large obstetric units in 2014 we could see for ourselves how easy going the midwives were. We watched as they supported many women birthing their babies in water, standing up, on all fours, surrounded by bean bags, pillows and mats etc. Even HYPNOBIRTHING got a mention! Fair play to those midwives, as any midwife will tell you keeping birth as natural as possible on a busy, highly medicalised labour ward can be a challenge, it takes a fair bit of encouragement from the midwives to make this happen.

Across the city at the other large obstetric unit things were even more easy going. Yes it’s true; a therapy dog did in fact accompany a woman in labour as she birthed her baby on labour ward, and what a cracking birth partner he was!! Sitting quietly in the corner, no demanding cups of tea every half hour, no questioning ‘how long is this all gonna take’. Maybe we should replace all the dads with a lovely Labrador and see how well the women birth then. I’m sure the famous French male obstetrician Michel Odent would be up for that cos he’s not too keen on dads at the birth!

Meanwhile, a few floors up on the induction of labour unit, a couple decided to use their initiative to induce labour naturally. An overdue pregnant lady and her chap were caught having jiggy by one of the cleaners. Brilliant!! What gets them babies in also gets ‘em out!  News of this reached America to the famous birth guru Ina May Gaskin who was also really impressed. She said on her facebook page “Good for St Michaels hospital in Bristol. The prostaglandins in semen can be most effective in starting labour. I hope it worked for this couple and thought the reporter should have found out!” Ha, her comment was liked by over 4k of her followers!

The daily mail got a hold of both of these stories and the readers were quick to leave their thoughts in the comments section no doubt thinking that us Bristolian midwives are completely bonkers. No we’re not bonkers, just open minded.

You’ve also got a great choice of where to give birth in Bristol. Over the last 3 years many babies have been born at the brand spanking new Cossham birth centre. The first baby girl born there in 2013 was a bumpsnbabies hypnobaby! Read Andrea’s birth story here.

And both the major obstetric units in the city have also opened new midwife led birth suites alongside their labour wards because research shows that a relaxing home from home environment with care from supportive midwives encourages the birth process. 4946776-large

This month the St Michael’s midwife led unit officially opened by the late Lynda Bellingham back in June 2013 was ranked top in the country for it’s maternity services!! How proud are we!!

Of course let’s not forget home birth too. I know of a few roads in Bristol that are ‘hot spots’ for home births, keeping those community midwives busy!!

Bristol is also a mum and baby friendly place to be, which is a good thing cos it’s a city literally full of bumps ‘n’ babies. As you walk down North street in Bedminster you feel like you’re on some sort of assault course negotiating all the pregnant women and buggies. The tobacco factory, bubbahub and the hungry caterpillar are just some of the many breastfeeding friendly cafes in the area; you’ll often see a babe on the boob as mumma sups a latte. No need to head off to the loo to breastfeed here. And no wonder the women here are happy to get their ‘Bristols’ out because did you know that in 2010 Bristol was the first city ever in the UK to receive the prestigious UNICEF baby friendly award for promoting and supporting breastfeeding mothers. Go Bristol!!!

And for those of you wondering why boobs are called Bristols, well here’s your answer, its good ol’ cockney rhyming slang for ‘titties’  ‘A fine pair of Bristols Cities’ = ‘titties’. What is that all about? How does a bloke manage to link the football team Bristol City with women’s boobs?

A few other Bristol things to rave about:

The fab free positive birth meet ups for expectant parents and anyone else interested in the world of birth.

Bristol’s street art, even that happens to be mum and baby friendly, this one by artist El Mac is obviously our fav! street art

So there you have it, just a few reasons why Bristol is the best city to have a baby, but shhhh don’t tell everyone, especially those from the big smoke thinking of relocating to a smaller city cos did I mention the housing market here? and for us midwives at bumpsnbabies trying to move house right now it’s a bloody nightmare!!

Sharon x

http://www.bumpsnbabies.org

10 things a midwife has heard many times

 

Phonto (1)
  • ‘Never again!’   The classic phrase muttered by many women usually in the throes of labour. Of course us midwives believe you, even though we know you’ll be back again for baby number 2, 3, 4, 5.
  • ‘We don’t care whether it’s a boy or a girl, as long as it’s not ginger!’  Said with true conviction by many a mum or dad-to-be, please remember though there are ginger midwives within ear shot!!
  • ‘I think the parking ticket has expired’   A popular phrase said by the dads . The parking, that one job he has to take care of as the woman has the momentous task of birthing a tiny human. No don’t leave her just as the baby’s crowning to sort it out, she won’t thank you for it!
  • ‘This stuff is frickin’ amazing!’  Said by the woman who has just been handed the gas and air, and yes she is right!! Who ever came up with this wonder drug is a hero, we salute you!
  • ‘Don’t put it on facebook …!!’  Said by both new parents to the mother-in-law as she takes it upon herself to announce the new arrival to the whole world via social media before the woman’s even had chance to birth her placenta and put her knickers back on.
  • ‘But what if I poo?’  Said by the mum-to-be in early labour. The midwife’s response – ‘You might, you might not, don’t worry about it, sometimes in life sh*t just happens….!’
  • ‘I’m not looking forward to having a poo!’  Said by many a new mum on the postnatal ward. Midwife’s response – It’ll be fine, trust us, once that first post birth poo is passed everything seems right with the world.
  • ‘When can I go home?’  Said by the excited first time mum with a newborn just a few hours old that hasn’t quite got the hang of breastfeeding yet. As opposed to ‘How long can I stay?’  Said by the mother of baby number 4 who has a pile of washing waiting for her at home, along with 3 other kids and a hubby that all want feeding.
  • ‘Pass me a nappy, no they’re not in that bag, they’re in the other bag, no not there, more towards the left under the sleep suits, no that’s a vest not a sleepsuit!’  Said by many a new mum to her hubby as she recovers in bed with a baby attached to her boob. Word of advice from us midwives – get the hubby to pack the birth bags, then he’ll know where everything is!
  • ‘God I’ve had such a great night sleep on this busy postnatal ward’ – Said no new mum EVER!!!

 

Sharon x

http://www.bumpsnbabies.org

Perceptions and Birth Stories

perception

There is no truth, there is only perception……… Gustave Flaubert

Yes it’s another one of those irritating quotes that pops up as you scroll through your instagram account. But before you roll your eyes and groan, think about it, it’s true – There is no truth only perception.  When it comes to a birth story how much is truth and how much is perception? Us midwives love a birth story. Sometimes we hear the story from several people that were there at the birth, all chipping in with their own version of events and that’s when this quote really hits home, because one person can perceive an experience way differently to another.  A woman who has laboured high on a dose of birth hormones, adrenaline and some gas and air thrown in the mix will tell you her version of events, but then so too will her mother and her partner that were there with her and they all tell the story slightly differently. Confusing? Yes! So what is the truth? What really did happen during that birth? Who knows.  Let’s not forget there was another person in that room too with her version / perception of events …the midwife!   Us midwives know we have a massive role to play in a woman’s birth experience, but probably only to a degree, the rest is down to her and the way she perceive the event.

Let’s go back to the gas and air for a minute. Gas and air is fantastic stuff. It’s a mind bending, thought altering, wonder drug. It takes you to another planet where you just don’t give a toss about anything. Many women get right off their faces on it in labour. ‘This stuff is bloody amazing!’ they say as they cling onto the mouth piece for dear life. The gas is seen as her new BFF and she aint givin’ it up for no one. You know when a woman is in ‘gas land’ when she comes out with random things in-between contractions with a strange smile on her face. “Everyone just seems so far away man…just totally thought I was Barry White”. Yep, she’s in gas land. So if she thinks she’s Barry White what else does she perceive about this momentous moment in her life that will shape her version of her ‘birth story’.

Likewise another biggy when it comes to altering perceptions during birth is the beast that is adrenaline. Adrenaline flowing through a woman’s body in labour will trigger the flight or fight response within her. She becomes stressed, perceives she is in danger, fearful thoughts run through her mind. She leaps off the bed mid contraction yelling “that’s it, no more, I’m going home”.   She wants to flee the danger that she perceives, but of course she doesn’t get very far, she’s in rip roaring labour and about to have a baby. All that adrenalin surging through her body isn’t particularly helpful during labour and is likely to influence her perception of the birth in a negative way.

And why is it that one woman in labour can perceive the physical sensations of her contractions so differently to another? Some women describe their contractions as agonizingly painful; others report feelings of euphoria with no mention of pain at all. Perception has a part to play here too. In our hypnobirthing classes we demonstrate this idea by bringing the couples into a relaxed state and encouraging them to image that their right hand is in a bucket of cold icy water. We suggest that they perceive their hand becoming cold and then numb. We encourage them to bring their numb hand to their face and feel the numbing sensation transfer to their cheek and mouth. At the end of this hypnosis script the couples themselves seem pretty baffled at what they’ve just experienced. There is no bucket of icy water, that’s the truth, so how come they genuinely felt that their hand was icy cold and numb? What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve” ( Naploean Hill ). Clever stuff eh!

So can us midwives really influence a woman’s birth story in a positive way? Well yes, obviously it goes without saying, being kind, showing compassion etc. but it’s not always that simple thanks to good ol’ perception. The calm voice and those reassuring words that you used worked a treat as you supported a woman through her labour last week. The encouragement you gave to spur her on through her labour was spot on. She sent you a lovely thank you card and a cracking box of chocolates. In the card she wrote “Your kind but strong words helped me avoid the epidural that I considered having, I had a fantastic birth experience, thank you”.  But beware, woe betide the midwife that thinks she’s cracked it and becomes smug, thinking she’s worthy of a midwife of the year award, because tomorrow you might find yourself in a similar situation; you care for another woman in the same way, yet she perceives your encouragement as patronising and insensitive. She perceives that you prevented her from having her happydural and her birth story is far from positive. No thank you card or box of choccies from her. You feel deflated, cussing yourself that you got it so wrong this time, you bad midwife you.

Most women will have some recollection of the day they gave birth, but it seems time also has a part to play. A woman’s birth story can alter over time, cleverly edited by her mind with key events highlighted that she remembers forever, others becoming foggy and maybe less relevant to her. We shouldn’t dismiss a woman’s perception of events during her labour as irrelevant because it’s not. A woman’s birth story is exactly that – her birth story and that’s fine. Life is based on perception. Perception is based on opinion. Opinion is based on thought. Thought comes from the mind. So as midwives whilst we have some control over certain factors that influence a woman’s birth story, whether positively or negatively, we cannot fully control her perceptions.

Sharon x

http://www.bumpsnbabies.org