Breastfeeding is not something you might expect to do your research on while pregnant, but there is certainly a lot of value in preparing yourself as much as you can while you have the time and space to do so. When your little one arrives you’ll thank yourself for being prepped as much as you can.
I’ve been asked loads to do a podcast on breastfeeding and I’ve resisted because I wanted to stay focused on the birth prep, but I’m getting way too many requests to ignore it – so here we are!
Today I’m speaking to Cindy Leclerc. Cindy is a Canadian Registered Nurse and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. She has helped over 12,000 families get started with breastfeeding. In addition to her nursing practice, she teaches prenatal breastfeeding classes both in-person and online. Together with a colleague, she hosts a website (cindyandjana.com) and an app (NuuNest) which provide reliable information to answer the questions new parents ask. NuuNest can be downloaded for free on their website.
During our chat Cindy shares the 5 things that every pregnant woman should know about breastfeeding.
But we don’t stop there! We also talk about
- breastfeeding positions
- growth spurts
- what to expect the days after birth in terms of milk
- how to know if your baby has fed enough – and it’s not to do with time spent on the boob!
During our chat, Cindy talks about her free breastfeeding course as well one of which is free. Check them out below.
Listen to the podcast
Birth preparation is a huge part of preparing for a positive birth. Lots of women don’t appreciate why doing birth preparation is so important with many leaving it last minute. The truth is if you want to stack the odds in your favour when it comes to having a positive birth experience, birth preparation is essential.
The thing is, birth preparation can seem like this huge overwhelming task, so it’s understandable that many shy away from it or procrastinate. To help you I’m going to talk you through what I believe are some of the most important elements of your birth preparation.
Why birth preparation is important
Preparing for your birth means that you’re saying no to the “winging it” birth plan. For the record, “winging it” or “going with the flow” is NOT recommended and is more likely to lead to a difficult birth;
- Your labour is more likely to be longer
- Increased chances of experiencing a painful labour
- You’re more likely to have a medicalised labour
- Increased chances of ending up with an emergency C-Section
I don’t know about you, but they are good enough reasons for me!
Essential Steps of Birth Preparation
So, in no particular order, here are some of the important steps that I think you need to include in your birth preparation.
Get clear on what you want
How can you prepare if you don’t know what you want? So this bit is super important. Think about what you DO want and what you DON’T want when it comes to your birth.
- Where do you feel the safest? Home or hospital? Birth centre? Maternity-led unit?
- How do you feel about medical staff? Do they scare you or make you feel safe?
- Are you considered high risk? If so, what does this mean in terms of your birth? Does your current health have any implications for your birth? If so, what?
- What birth assistance would you like? Birth pool? Pain relief? Space to move around? Home comforts? And, where is that most easily available?
- What’s the birth you DON’T want? Why? What is it about that that you don’t like/want? If this ended up being your birth how would that make you feel?
If you’re going to prepare for something, then it’s important to know what you’re preparing for so that you improve your chances of getting it. This means going all crazy on the details. So even though you might have things clear in your head in terms of what you want – you still need to plan for various eventualities.
With birth, nothing is guaranteed, which is why it’s also worth preparing for plan B and maybe even plan C.
The reason why I want you to prepare for the birth you don’t want is so that you do your homework on it. This does two things;
- it helps you to understand it better as a birth option, and crucially,
- this helps to reduce the fear you might have of it. After all, there’s a reason you don’t want it, right?
Having a load of negative emotion around your plan B will not be very helpful for you on the day if your birth ends up going that way. Being prepared means that you will be able to change tack without getting all stressy on the day, which would be no good for the hormonal cocktail that keeps labour moving.
So you see; being clear AND savvy on both birth options is important work! Start seeking out the information you need that will support your birth choices.
Who do you want at your birth? Your partner? Your mother? Friends? Doula? Photographer? Are they are fully briefed and “on the same page” as you?
Pain relief: do you know your options and consequences of their use? How do you feel about accepting pain relief? Does this carry emotional weight? What pain management strategies would you like to adopt?
What methods would you consider to induce labour if required? At what point would you accept an induction? Do you know which methods you’d accept?
What are your fears?
Now that you’re clearer and a bit more savvy about this whole birth lark, you’re in a much better position to tune into any fears you have. My experience tells me that fears around pregnancy and birth usually fall into one of two categories;
- Fear of the unknown – “I’ve never been through this before and I have no idea what to expect”
- Deep-rooted fears – “I’ve read all the birth books but I’m still completely terrified of the thought of x”
Maybe you don’t have any. Early on in pregnancies, this is possible but it may well be because you’re not fully aware of them yet. If you’re feeling confident and excited, that’s brilliant. But don’t make the mistake of denying that you have any fears or pretending that you don’t have any.
Be open to explore this as soon as possible. If you dig for them and don’t find any, then even better. But the last thing you want is for them to pop up in the weeks before you’re due because then you’ll have nearly no time to sort them out.
Perhaps you started with some fears, but now that you’re a bit more savvy, you’re feeling less fearful. Or maybe not! Whichever it is, it’s important to give this some focus so that you put some effort into sorting this out.
Going into your birth with fear is not a good thing because fear has a direct physiological impact on your birthing body;
- Fear will slow labour down, if not stop it altogether, due to the effect it has on your hormones
- Fear can increase the likelihood of you experiencing pain, and/or increase any sensations of pain you have
- Increases likelihood of an instrumental delivery or c-section
As you think about your birth, what fears are you aware of? When you tune into your fears, do they feel strong? Do you notice them in your body?
What is contributing to your fear? Friends or family sharing stories? Things you’ve read?
Boost your birth confidence
There are always two sides to everything. I talked about fears, well the flip side to that is confidence. They both affect each other; the more you have of one, the less you have of the other, so we’re going to help you to tip the balance and stack the odds in your favour.
Find ways that you can boost your birth confidence. No matter how you feel about birth, feeling even MORE confident about it can only help.
Your level of confidence going into your birth is crucial, so finding ways to boost your birth confidence is an important step. This will differ for everyone but might include things like;
- Start listening to positive birth stories
- Stop listening to the scary ones
- Listen to the Fear Free Childbirth Podcast! Or indeed other podcasts 😉
- Seek out positive and balanced sources of birth information
- Create firm boundaries with people who aren’t supportive or encouraging
- Write birth affirmations and post them around your home
- Get even more savvy about the birth process
- Find brilliant and supportive people to be on your birthing team
- Edit your Facebook stream to limit the scary stuff and boost the positive stuff
- Join supportive Facebook groups like the Fear Free Childbirth Facebook Group
- Read birth books
- Watch some birth documentaries
The great thing about many of these is that they’re free. But, they do require persistent action.
Think about how confident do you feel RIGHT NOW? What thoughts do you have around birth? How does birth and motherhood make you feel?
What has the potential to sap your birth confidence? Fear? Lack of support? Lack of knowledge? Lack of encouragement?
Identify your birthing tools
One thing that will help you to boost your confidence going into your birth is having a bunch of tools you can use to help you cope with what’s happening and to stay in your birthing bubble. This applies no matter what kind of birth you’re working towards.
The most obvious thing that people want help with is pain management. The thing is, pain is as much as a mindset thing as it is a physical thing, and when it comes to birth, this is even more so.
With a lot of these techniques, you will need to practise using them. It’s when you have confidence in your techniques that you boost your birth confidence. They need to be second nature to you on the day so time spent practising is worth it. And remember, it’s not just you who has to prepare in this way; your birthing partner needs to too!
I’m going to break this down a bit, so that it’s easier for you to find things that can help you;
Pain management techniques are the most common ones that are worth doing your homework on as there are quite a few for you to choose from. Acupressure and massage can be really helpful for pain and is an ideal way for your partner to get involved and feel like they have an important role.
Being relaxed will help you to manage the tension that may arise which in turn will help you to minimise the pain. Things can help you to relax include breathing, listening to music or hypnosis tracks, or applying pressure on acupressure points.
This is more about helping you to keep your mind clear of fear and focussed on the birth. The aim here is to minimise mental chatter and negative self-talk, but be clear of emotion so that you can tune into your body. Having some fear-clearance or positivity boosting techniques will help to boost your confidence. Breathing can also help you to keep your mind clear.
To receive the download 9 Steps to a Fearless Birth just pop your details below.
Birth Prep Program
These are some of the steps from my Birth Prep Program that is included in my Fearless Mama Ship member area. The Birth Prep Program includes activities, questions, downloads and information resources to help you to prepare for your fearless birth.
I’m a huge fan of conscious conception and pregnancy and I believe that taking a conscious and deliberate approach to your journey from pregnancy to motherhood is the gold standard to aim for. But I also know that not everyone has got that memo and simply don’t get it.
To help you understand this in more depth, today I’m chatting to Jane Jennings about conscious conception and pregnancy. Jane is a Conscious Conception Doula and works with families throughout the pregnancy journey and that often means BEFORE conception.
What is a conscious conception and pregnancy?
I know that many of my listeners choose to listen to my podcast as part of their preparation for motherhood and so THIS is what I’m talking about here; being conscious and deliberate about your journey to motherhood.
Living consciously isn’t limited to pregnancy and birth. It’s something we can all do at any time, if we’re ready and open to it. Put simply, living consciously is being deliberate and mindful about your choices and conscious of their consequences. Many people live unconsciously from moment to moment and allow themselves to be carried by the current of life, instead of choosing to pick up an oar and paddle in a certain direction.
When it comes to a living a conscious conception and pregnancy, things you might want to explore include;
Create the space in your life for your baby
Many couples who are expecting their first baby, do not intentionally create the space for a new person in their life. Particularly if the baby wasn’t entirely expected. It can be all too easy to try and bolt the baby onto your young, free and independent life (I know because I was guilty of this!), but taking the time to think about what you need to let go of so that you can welcome your baby fully, is worthwhile.
Take a closer look at your work, chores, hobbies and relationships that are simply not compatible with family life. Be prepared to make changes to enable family life to flourish and thrive. Often, family friction comes from this resistance to let go of the life habits that suited a younger person with no responsibilities. By accepting your new role sooner, you can avoid much of this, but importantly, it gives a clear message to your new family member that they are welcome, valued and loved.
Work On Your Relationship with Your Partner
The greatest gift you can offer your future child is a loving relationship between his or her parents. If there are any unresolved issues between you and your partner, make a point to work on them before your baby arrives so you can welcome your child into a peaceful home. Take time to devote to your relationship, whether through therapy or counselling, simple open communication or even a baby-moon. A happy couple and a happy home massively increase your chances of having a happy child.
Journal your pregnancy experience
Write about your thoughts and emotions during pregnancy. Aside from the physical changes that accompany pregnancy, explore your ideas around how you want to parent, the relationship you hope to have, and the qualities you expect to foster in your child. Not only will this be interesting to read years from now to see how things panned out, but it will be a wonderful gift for your baby.
Our pregnancy journey impacts our babies in ways that we might find hard to grasp. Babies develop their senses very early on in utero and will be picking up on a lot of your thoughts and experiences. The emotions that you will be experiencing will be affecting your baby in quite profound ways; one of the key reasons to address your emotional wellbeing during pregnancy.
Regularly connect and communicate with your baby
Build a relationship with your baby early on in your pregnancy so that your baby is used to a two-way dialogue and trusts you. During birth, there needs to be trust between the two of you. Trust that you’re both capable and confident of doing what needs to be done and that you can rely on each other. Just as you need to have trust with your partner, trust with your baby is also important.
During my chat with Jane, we talk about much of this.
The conscious welcome for baby
Jane talks about how we can welcome our baby consciously into the world so that we can imprint some positive energy and emotion into our baby at a time when they are very open and vulnerable energetically and emotionally.
- Breath down into your heart as soon as baby arrives, and breathe your heart space out to welcome you baby in
- Get yourself into a place of calmness in preparing for the moment you hold your baby
- Hold eye contact with them meeting them with intention of love. Do this for a good minute or so.
- Make sure dad is near or close so they get to see and feel them too
About Jane Jennnings
Jane is an Awakening Soul Doula, energy healer and mentor. For 18 years now Jane has been supporting babies and their families to meet each other in conception, pregnancy and birth.
Every soul that grows within a peaceful family field and receives a gentle conception and birth, contributes to the rising of consciousness for humanity. The quality of how a soul is welcomed, heard and seen, right from the very beginning, matters greatly.
Jane’s wisdom and experience as a healer, means she can hold the whole family field. Each of your family members will be processing their own emotions and what it means to them to welcome a new soul into their lives. At this time of transition, it is likely to evoke many new feelings and apprehensions.
Most families creating the time to explore this pre conception and before birth have a more comfortable journey into parenting and stronger relationship dynamics for the whole family. Jane holds the space and guides each of you to explore what this feels like for you and for your whole family.
Caesareans are often feared by women going into birth, but there’s a new trend coming through that could hope to reduce that somewhat. The gentle c-section otherwise known as the natural caesarean is a much softer approach than the usual surgical ritual.
To help explain what a gentle c-section is I’m being joined by OB Andy Simm from Nottingham City Hospital (my local!). It is Andy who was the OB behind the gentle c-section positive birth story that I shared last season. He’s a bit famous around my neck of the woods!
What is a gentle c-section?
In a gentle c-section, or natural caesarean, the drapes which normally screen the operation from the mother are lowered – so she (and her partner) can actually see the baby being born. The baby is also given time to “wriggle out” of the womb, rather than being instantly lifted out by the obstetrician. The newborn is then placed on the mother’s chest for her to hold, cord intact, instead of being whisked off for weighing and measuring.
To help the mother to have some skin to skin, the ECG wires are taped to her back which means that she is more likely to be able to breastfeed straight away.
All this is quite a departure from what we know c-sections to be like, but it doesn’t stop there. A gentle -c-section is also one where the environment of the operating theatre is tweaked to help make it more friendly… lower lights basically!
This women-centred approach has many reported benefits for mother and baby including: improved breastfeeding rates; a better birth experience; increased bonding due to instant mother and baby skin to skin contact; plus reduced risk of lung issues as the extra time allowed pressure from the uterus to expel liquid from baby’s lungs.
Of course, a natural caesarean is not drug-free or risk free – but local anaesthesia is carefully used to ensure the mother is alert and able to hold her baby. This is HUGE!
During our chat we identified a gentle c-section checklist that you can use as part of your birth planning;
- lighting and environment (music)
- let baby wriggle out on their own
- skin to skin
- delayed cord clamping
- birth narration
- seeding the microbiome
About Andy Simm
Andy Simm has worked as a Consultant Obstetrician in Nottingham for 15 years, with interests in diabetes and endocrine disorders in pregnancy and fetal growth disorders. He has a keen interest in management of labour where this deviates from the norm, and promotes the importance of communication, team work and other non technical skills. This has been recognised with both awards from within the Trust and nationally.
Andy has a large obstetric clinical practice, and as College Tutor is responsible for the overall quality of education and training of junior doctors within his unit.
Most recently he has become involved in undertaking the ‘gentle’ caesarean section, with video footage posted on social media websites getting 10 million hits. ‘Gentle’ caesarean is undertaken in a softer environment, with a slower delivery that facilitates autoresuscitation of the baby, namely expulsion of fluid from the fetal lungs, and a gentle transition to breathing in air by undertaking deferred cord clamping. Women are enabled to watch the birth if they wish, and immediate skin to skin contact is facilitated. Demand for the procedure is increasing
The psychology of pregnancy doesn’t often get discussed and I don’t know why, so today I’m remedying that.
Pregnancy and the journey of motherhood are such a huge time of change that it’s no wonder that there are psychological implications. The thing is, we don’t often stop and think about what those might be. In today’s episode I’m going to be lifting the lid on the psychology of pregnancy and motherhood so that you can have a better understanding of what might be going on for you. To help me, I’m joined by Leah Butler-Smith who is a therapist and a coach as well as being a mum of three. Leah had a very successful practice in London’s Harley Street and has worked with many women on the whole motherhood spectrum. This includes from fertility and miscarriage to overcoming pregnancy fears and birth recovery.
The Psychology of Pregnancy
Many women approach pregnancy and birth with very little if any preparation and assume that they can just take it in their stride. This might work for some, but given the seismic changes that are involved in becoming a mother, it’s worth taking some time to doing some preparation. Going from being an individual with no responsibility for anyone other than yourself to becoming a parent has its own set of challenges and adjustments to overcome. Add pregnancy and birth to the equation and you’ve got a mighty cocktail of craziness right there.
During our chat, Leah shares some interesting insights into the psychology of pregnancy and birth that might very well help you to unpick what is going on for you. Leah talks a lot about how our irrational mind is responsible for our beliefs and fears. She explains how those beliefs and fears may have been implanted in the first place, which is very interesting to listen to. I work with this stuff all the time so while it’s not new to me, I still find it super fascinating!
Leah also talks about her experience of working with women on the fertility journey. She talks about how, in her experience, fears play a huge role in our ability to become and stay pregnant. Leah shares stories of women she’s worked with who, once they’ve worked on the mind and the fears and anxieties at play, are able to then go on to be pregnant. Certainly worth a listen for that alone!
Managing pain with the mind
You will have already heard me talk quite a length about how pain is a mental thing and how we can manage our ability to cope with pain by using the mind. Well, Leah bangs this drum to. During our chat, she shares a brilliant technique for managing pain during labour and birth.
During our chat, Leah mentioned a free download that she was creating. To get hold of the download CLICK HERE.
About Leah Butler-Smith
Leah Butler-Smith wittily refers to herself as a ‘Rapid Transformation Specialist’ who has a ‘particular set of skills’ (think the popular movie, Taken LOL). Having worked with celebs, creatives, sports personalities, entrepreneurial business owners including a few Billionaires. Since the late 90’s, her experience and knowledge is surpassed only by her constant enthusiasm for helping others. Her many skills include being awarded the title of Senior Hypnotherapist – one of the first awarded by the GHSC, Advanced Psychotherapist, Analytical Hypnotherapy, NLP Trainer, TFT Practitioner combined with the latest proven techniques Havening, EMDR and EFT. She now fills any spare time with studies in Neuroscience, Bio-Medicine and any other research that supports her members & private clients.
You can get access to Leah in person inside her newly formed community inside Facebook. There you’ll get regular tips for improving your mindset, learning NLP & other techniques proven that will help you improve your mindset, overcome challenges, build your confidence and support your business growth.
You can also get a Free Coaching Guide at WWW.LEAHBUTLERSMITH.COM
Placenta encapsulation might not be something you know too much about. So, I thought it was about time I covered this on the podcast because many women report that placenta encapsulation can help them emotionally in the postpartum period.
Consuming your placenta (placentophagy) is undergoing a bit of revival at the moment. So, who better to have on the podcast than two placenta queens, Maria Pokluda and Maryn Taylor who run their own Placenta Encapsulation business in Dallas Fort Worth, Texas
Some view this as a way of celebrating the placenta’s significance as well as promoting postpartum physical and mental health. Placenta encapsulation is becoming a popular method of preparing the placenta for consumption. What this basically means is creating capsules that are a bit like tablets for you to take with a drink. The other way of consuming the placenta is through placenta smoothies which, apparently is not as bad as it may sound.
If placenta encapsulation sounds appealing to you, discuss your plans with your midwife or doula during your pregnancy. Ensure that it is highlighted as part of your birth plan. Be clear that you wish to keep your placenta. If you don’t feel up to the job right away, you can freeze your placenta until you are ready to process it. A specialist can come to your home, process your placenta and produce the capsules for you. Or you can have a go of this yourself. There are plenty of articles about this online so you can research the subject at your leisure.
There is limited evidence when it comes to placenta encapsulation, but what there is in bucket loads are testimonials and anecdotal evidence with mothers report lots of benefits from consuming their placenta during the postpartum period, including;
- more breast milk
- more balanced feelings
- more energy
The only thing that I could find in terms of evidence was this.
During our chat, we talk about
- when to book your placenta encapsulation
- what your options are
- what the process is
- placenta traditions
- umbilical cord art
About the Placenta Queens
MARIA POKLUDA: Maria has prepared more than 700 placentas. Doula since 2007. Mom of four. Owner of Great Expectations Birth Professional Doula Services. Creator of BEST Doula Training Voted Best Doula in North Texas six years in a row.