4 Options for Baby and Maternity Care
There are many reasons why women and families choose a midwife to be their primary care provider for their pregnancy, birth, and postpartum period. Below are listed the 5 most common reasons I hear from clients.
A low-intervention birth
Midwives are experts in healthy low-risk pregnancy and birth. Unless complications arise, a physician will not be involved in care. Midwives recognize pregnancy and birth as a normal, healthy process. Midwifery clients have lower obstetrical intervention rates, including lower rates of cesarean section, instrumental vaginal delivery such as vacuum or forceps, episiotomy and re-admission rates to hospital.
An active participant in their own care
Midwives believe strongly in the concept of informed choice. What this means is that midwives are partners in your care, offering knowledge and recommendations as appropriate but you are the primary decision maker. Women are assisted to make autonomous decisions about the care that they receive. Women are respected as the experts of their own body.
Relationship with their care provider
Midwives care for women from early pregnancy (as soon as you pee on a stick!), throughout the entire pregnancy, attend your labour and birth, and care for you and your newborn for six weeks postpartum. You will meet a small group of midwives and one of your known care providers will attend your birth. Prenatal appointments are often at least 30 minutes long to allow for discussion and questions as well as complete clinical care. Midwives are also on-call 24/7, so your care provider is always just a page away.
Care and support in the postpartum period
Midwives care for you and your baby for six weeks postpartum. Midwives provide home visits in the early postpartum days to ensure the wellness of you and your baby and to assist with breastfeeding. Usually, there are several home visits by the time your baby is 10 days old. This allows you to receive care in your home so that you can focus on what is most important: the rest, recovery and bonding of you and your baby. Unless there are concerns, the first time your baby needs care from another health care provider is for a well baby check-up at eight weeks old.
Choice over where they give birth
Midwives support a woman’s choice to birth where she feels best. Midwives are the only care providers who are privileged to offer births in hospital, at your home or in a birth centre where available.
Women who choose midwives are highly satisfied with their care. Midwifery services are FREE. Please contact your local midwifery offices or Canadian Association of Midwives for more information or to find a midwife near you.
Applying hypnosis to the process of childbirth, best known as hypnobirthing, has become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason! On the whole, women who integrate hypnosis into their experience have shorter, easier, more comfortable births due to the power of deep relaxation and mind-over-matter. Given the benefits, it's important to dispel the myths that prevent some people from making use of this excellent tool.
It’s just new age “woo woo”
Then you'll be pleased to know that hypnobirthing works by engaging the parasympathetic nervous system, includes childbirth education (it's not all about the hypnosis!) And has been used by women from all walks of life. Further, the medical application of hypnosis is supported by extensive research. In addition to childbirth, hypnosis can be used to speed healing from surgery, manage acute and chronic pain and even reverse certain disease processes.
You can’t have birth without pain
True, pain is a part of most labours at one point or another. Hypnobirthing consistently results in the reduction of pain during labour, and some women do report feeling nothing more than pressure – no pain at all. While it’s inaccurate to say that hypnobirthing will ensure a pain-free birth, if a woman applies the techniques learned and is well-supported by her team, the hypnosis will take her a long way in terms of pain management. Most women who use hypnosis during labour do not choose to use pharmaceutical pain relief. Instead, they work with their mind and body to encourage their own endorphins and other feel-good hormones to get the job done.
I don't want to be “out of it” during the birth
Good! Labour is a very important time to be tuned in to yourself and feeling connected to your baby. Despite what movies portray hypnosis to be, it's essentially a relaxed state of being. We all experience it every day when zoned out with a screen, driving a familiar stretch of road or going for a run. Hypnobirthing uses hypnosis in the weeks before your baby's birth in order to prepare your body and mind; and in labour, hypnosis is used to centre you in a peaceful, aware state so you are able to work with your body and your baby. When in hypnosis, you are able to talk, move about, make clear decisions and know what is happening, just like when you're driving that well-known route from work to home.
Hypnobirthing is only for natural births
Nope. A quality hypnobirthing program (they're not all the same) will equip you and your team with a thorough understanding of your choices in labour and a clear sense of empowerment. Many women who are drawn to hypnobirthing are planning a natural birth and are seeking a natural way to manage pain. However, any of us may choose to have a medical intervention, or unquestionably require one for the best possible outcomes, and hypnosis can still be of great benefit. For example, a mom who requires a Caesarean birth for medical reasons can feel calmer, safer and experience an easier recovery if she uses hypnosis before, during and after the birth.
Craniosacral therapy is a gentle hands-on therapy that helps the body and whole being to realign to a natural healthful state. Using very light touch, bones of the head, sacrum and areas of the body are subtly shifted to free restrictions. The brain and spinal cord are nourished and protected by cerebral spinal fluid which is encased by the meninges. The aim is to release tensions of the nervous and meningeal systems.
What does it feel like?
It can be as relaxing as a massage but with a much lighter touch. You might become energized, or feel subtle shifts in your body, and some people may not feel much at all. You may notice some of the benefits right away or shortly after the treatment. You might feel a general sense of wellbeing or specific tissue releases. Some people experience emotional releases.
How are babies and families treated?
With great gentleness and care. Babies are often held by the mother or partner, lay on a flat surface or are held by the practitioner. The baby can be awake, sleeping or nursing. Remaining flexible is important when working with babies and children. Some children will become very relaxed and may appear to fall asleep, or let out a cry as they release a restriction. Babies (and adults) often benefit from oral work, as they use their sucking reflex to help release restrictions in the head. The child often benefits when the parents also get treated at the same time or separately, as we often find that babies and children hold similar restriction patterns to their parents and other close family members. A release in one member of the family can help facilitate the release in the other person.
Benefits are often seen after two or three craniosacral treatments, although this can vary depending on the case.
What are the benefits of craniosacral treatments?
Generally speaking, clients find it very relaxing, rejuvenating and balancing. Some people find that they feel more open to life and energies, and more connected with their bodies and emotions. It is a great complement to other healing therapies and creates a space that allows for deeper healing to occur.
Improving pelvic alignment during pregnancy
Restrictions in the pelvis can be released to allow for smoother passage of the baby. Any residual traumas that haven’t been processed and that remain in the body can be released prior to the birth.
Counteracting intervention side effects
If induction, epidural, forceps, vacuum, or c-section births were necessary, there could be residual effects on both mother and baby. Epidurals can lead to babies with a sucking reflex that is not as strong as it should be. Craniosacral therapy can gently encourage the removal of the numbing medication, improve the suck reflex and adjust misalignments in the palate, jaw and cranial bones. Cranial moulding or strong preference to breastfeed on one side can indicate a need for craniosacral treatment.
Improving sucking reflex and establishing breastfeeding
A good latch is very important right after birth because the body creates more breast milk when there are strong suckling cues. Sometimes the latch and sucking reflex are not efficient because of medications or birth trauma. If a baby is not getting enough milk, this can also be something that makes the baby fussy, and not gain weight. The stress from a fussy baby can also affect the mother, impacting her ability to produce milk. I like to change this negative feedback loop using craniosacral therapy for baby and mama, and herbal teas and nutritional support for mom.
This is the next largest concern after the eating concerns. A common and welcomed “side effect” after a craniosacral treatment is a feeling of being sleepy. This is because the body heals during the parasympathetic or resting state. There could be significant restrictions in the nervous system that can cause discomfort in the baby disrupting their sleep. Once a restriction is released, their ability to fall asleep and stay asleep can improve.
Reducing back and shoulder pain
Craniosacral therapy along with acupuncture and nutritional support can help relieve these tensions from birth and breastfeeding.
Improving the family bond
This is the most beautiful benefit by far.
Placenta Encapsulation is the act of taking the cortisone, oxytocin and iron rich placenta and placing it in an easy to take pill form for new moms in the weeks and months after the birth. It is a process derived from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which sees the placenta as a powerful healing tool and believes that the placenta can help assist with breastfeeding and balancing of the mood and energy after baby’s arrival.
Why would I encapsulate my placenta?
Many women report such benefits as increased energy, consistent milk supply, decreased feelings of depression and exhaustion and decreased postpartum insomnia. I have had clients tell me that when they are having a “down day” that taking a few extra pills have helped them to combat those feelings. Ultimately, in TCM, the placenta is seen to be a sacred part of the birth process, and as such is treated in a sacred way and prepared for Mom to ingest in order to ensure its properties and minerals are reabsorbed in those important days after birth. It is believed that the hormones and iron contained in the placenta are unique in that they are in such high concentrations and are easily reabsorbed into Mom’s system since they came from her. In addition to North America, encapsulation is very common in Western Europe, South East Asia and New Zealand. You may receive fewer “raised eyebrows” than you anticipate when sharing with your family and friends your decision to encapsulate your placenta!
How is the placenta prepared for capsules?
Encapsulation of the placenta starts with the placenta being prepared and steamed in traditional herbs (such as lemon and ginger). After this, it is slowly dehydrated and ground and placed in capsules that are easy to take and look very much like most vitamins and supplements available in stores. Some services offer the choice for you to add herbs to the pills, such as fenugreek for breastfeeding support or chamomilla for feelings of calm. Most encapsulation services will offer to pick up the placenta from your home or hospital and return the pills to you within 48 hours. Some services will even prepare the placenta in your own home.