At 15 weeks – just one week above the EU minimum – Belgium's maternity leave is among the shortest in Europe. But, what if you want to spend longer with your newborn? Why not check out this article on The Village website. It looks at some of the options you have to extend your time at home. Plus, some handy hints on how to make best use of those options, whether it be maternity leave, breastfeeding leave, parental leave or a career break......
Independent midwives can care for you during your pregnancy, birth and after your baby is born. For most ex-pat women in Belgium a home birth is not considered as a possible option. But, with the support and care of an Independent Midwife it is possible and here's how...
1-3% of women choose to have a home birth in Belgium. If you are considering a home birth you need to find an independent midwife who can support home birth. Sometimes they can offer midwife led continuity of care within the four walls of a hospital.
Like gynaecologists, midwives are affiliated to particular hospitals but unlike consultations with a gynaecologist, consultations with most midwives are fully reimbursed by your mutuelle/ziekenfonds (social security organisation).
Birthing your baby at home is not just restricted to second and subsequent pregnancies. But, to be able to give birth at home, you need to meet certain criteria:
With an independent midwife you can give birth either:
Hopital Erasme is the only hospital in Belgium to have a midwifery-led maternity unit, Le Cocon. The unit actively promotes natural childbirth and midwife care for you throughout your pregnancy and childbirth.
How much does care with an independent midwife cost?
Unlike hospital births, home births and midwife appointments are fully reimbursed by the mutuelle/ziekenfonds (social security organisation). Your midwife’s additional expenses (such as petrol etc.) are at your cost. You may have to pay a contribution towards blood tests and scans, unless you have top-up insurance. It is a good idea to investigate what health insurance you have anyway, just to make sure you are covered for all eventualities.
Home Birth Care With An Independent Midwife
Before your baby is born
Each midwife, whether she works independently or within a team, normally has a partner midwife to help with deliveries. She is also connected to a hospital and a gynaecologist. Most (if not all) of your routine prenatal checkups will be with the midwife, although you will be able to visit the hospital for scans and the standard prenatal blood tests. It is a good idea to visit the maternity facilities of the hospital and meet the gynaecologist anyway, just in case things don’t go according to plan at home.
Finding a Midwife
Flemish Professional Organisation of Midwives (Dutch)
Union Professionnelle des Sages-Femmes Belges (French)
Both organisations provide information on how a midwife cares for you in pregnancy, birth and after your baby is born. Plus a search function on how to find a midwife near you.
The power of women, and their families, is strengthened by the power of the midwife.
● Homebirth, a practical guide. Wesson, N. (2006) London, Pinter & Martin
● New Active Birth. A concise guide to natural childbirth (chapter 10: Active Birth in home or in hospital). Janet Balaskas
● Water Birth – a concise guide to using water during pregnancy, birth and infancy. Janet Balaskas and Yehudi Gordon
● The Father's Homebirth Handbook Hazard, L. (2010) London, Pinter & Martin
● Homebirth: The Politics of Difficult Choices. Nolan, M. (2011) Abingdon, Routledge
A qualitative study has explored women's experiences in using hypnobirthing during childbirth.
A qualitative study has explored women's experiences in using hypnobirthing during childbirth.
Norwegian researchers explain that, “Hypnobirth is a technique that incorporates elements from hypnosis and is used to prepare women for birth."
"It aims to promote a normal birth and create a positive birth experience by equipping women with knowledge and tools to reduce fear, anxiety, and pain during labor.”
“The women reported that the knowledge they gained in the classes led to new perspectives and changed their view of childbirth."
"...as a result of the classes, their experience of labour changed from it being a potential risky event to an existential meaningful experience and transformation.”
“The women reported developing a new holistic perspective, where they considered pregnancy and childbirth a natural state for the female body. This increased their confidence in their own ability to give birth."
"They gained new insight into their inherent resources, and through active participation they developed ownership of their own childbirth. The knowledge they acquired made them more conscious of their rights and co-determination, and allowed them to critically assess and influence their own labour.”
"In our study, all the women thought that mental preparation should be an integral part of the antenatal classes offered by the public health service. Their positive experiences with the technique made them want other women to also have the best foundation for a good birth experience."
"The antenatal classes made them aware of the potential challenges they might face. Coming to terms with the inevitable uncertainty of childbirth can bring a sense of peace and thereby an acceptance that what happens, happens. Women can then start working on strengthening their belief that they will be able to cope with what happens."
(Uldal et al 2023)
You can read the full study at:
In some hospitals in Belgium, you can give birth with your own independent midwife who has followed and supported you throughout your entire pregnancy. All the benefits of one-on-one midwife care, with its focus on physiological birth and typically fewer interventions during birth, plus the added reassurance of being close to additional medical teams if needed during labour and birth. For some mums, it's the perfect option!
Just last week, CHU Saint-Pierre | UMC Sint-Pieter in central Brussels announced the exciting news that they're officially allowing independent midwives to use their facilities to support births in full autonomy!
They're currently in the process of setting up agreements with independent midwives, and as soon as we know more about which (teams of) midwives will be able to offer this option, we'll let you know!
Wondering which other hospitals offer this option?
From what we know, this is also possible in:
Note: Not all independent midwives can support births in these hospitals, as it depends on individual agreements. If you know of other hospitals offering this then please let us know!
Thank you Siobhan at www.thevillage.be for picking up on this important addition to midwifery care in Brussels and then spreading the word!
Mine are cosy, soft and very, very pretty and they make me feel safe – what are your pyjamas like, a bit tatty, out of shape, grey from the wash with elastic showing the strain? Uhm time to buy a new pair I think...........
We all have days when if we listened to what our bodies were telling us and we went along with how we truly felt we would end up spending a quiet day on the sofa in our pyjamas nibbling on treats, dozing and taking time out to recharge our batteries and who would want to do that in tatty PJ’s? But, we don’t listen to our inner voice and take a pyjama day, do we? We battle on regardless and often pay the price with illness maybe physical or mental. So, before your baby is born plan ahead for the postpartum period and buy yourself the most beautiful pair of pyjamas you can afford. Then wear them with pride for as long as you need after your baby is born...
Never are PJ days more important than in the weeks after your baby’s born, a time to nurture and be nurtured as you bond with your baby, adjust to motherhood and establish breastfeeding. It is a time for your body to heal, a time to wear your PJ’s as a uniform that gives a subliminal message to others - you are not ready to engage in the real world and are absorbed in caring for your baby and need to be looked after. In the Western world we seem to have lost sight of this and there is enormous pressure to get back into our skinny jeans, look like a film star at the Oscars and behave like a superhero as soon as possible after birth and many of us struggle. In many areas of the world this concept of rest and nurturing a woman after childbirth is written into their customs and rituals: For example in:
Taking time out for PJ days and just being with your baby has important benefits for you and your baby. By not being distracted by outside stimuli or exposed to too many germs guards against postpartum depression and promotes an easier physical recovery.
According to Karen Kleiman the period after birth is a time when you are most vulnerable to emotional illness. Failure to take care of yourself adequately can create the perfect opportunity for a serious depression to set in. No one likes to think about that. But the truth is mothers don't spend enough time thinking about how they feel. Understandably, most of your spare energy goes toward caring for your baby. But, the facts are clear, if you take care of yourself, you will strengthen the resources that will enable you to take better care of your baby.
The benefits for breastfeeding of having a prolonged period of PJ days after birth are tangible with enhanced breast milk production. Nancy Mohrbacher, an international board – certified lactation consultant, says it is very intense to care for a newborn in the first forty days. Your baby is feeding around 8-12 times a day with feeds taking as long 40 minutes and those are not evenly spread over a 24 hour period but in clusters, when you are literally routed to the spot feeding your baby for what seems like hours. There’s not much time for anything else. Giving in to this process and feeding on demand in a relaxed and nurturing environment is essential as it helps establish your milk supply. It’s a simple case of supply and demand. The amount of new milk created depends on how much has been taken out. It takes about 6 weeks for Mum and baby to get the hang of breastfeeding, slowly feeling more co-ordinated and breastfeeding becoming easier and faster.
Ok, so in the crazy, mixed up ex-pat world we live in in Brussels, away from our close family forty days in pyjama's recuperating and resting confined to the house is for most of us unrealistic, mores’ the pity. But, with planning and organisation before your baby is born and working as team with your partner you can manage to create that vital breathing space as you adjust to motherhood. So, here are a few things to bear in mind:
2. Nurture yourself It's really true. It can feel wonderful if you pamper yourself a little. Whatever it takes, manicure, pizza, long-distance phone call, hair-cut, a good book..... You will never find a better excuse to indulge in self-absorbed and perhaps, frivolous projects. (Remember, if you feel guilty about this, you will be defeating the purpose.) So, enjoy and go for it!
3. Sleep If your baby is getting you up at night, it is especially important for you to find time to rest during the day. That means, when your baby naps, you do not do the laundry or clean the floor. It means, you rest! If you can't sleep, then lie down on the couch, close your eyes and try to relax. Your body needs time to recharge.
5. Exercise moderately Try to get out and walk if you are not interested in regular aerobic activity. The fresh air will feel wonderful and the exercise will help keep you in shape and feeling good.
6. Stay in touch with friends Spend time with family and friends that you feel most comfortable with. Try to maximize the time you spend with people who will support you and help you out, if necessary. Isolation can increase feelings of loneliness and depression — try to stay connected with important relationships.
6. Try not to pressure yourself thinking that everything has to be done right now. Unfortunately, if you are used to getting things accomplished and prefer to be in control at all times (and who doesn't!), then this may prove to be particularly difficult for you. If procrastinating is just not your style, you may have to learn to let go a little bit and realize that some of the things that you want to take care of NOW, are just going to have to wait.
7. Learn how to say "no" Setting limits is not an easy thing to do. But this is not the time to do favours for other people or for others to take advantage of how accommodating you may be. You may find it necessary to say, "I would love to help you out, but today is not a good day for that” or “Yes I would love you to come over and see the baby but I'm really tired today. Maybe we can make plans for another time."
8. Simplify everything Laundry can wait. Your bed doesn't have to be made every day. Take-out dinner is fine. Everything doesn't have to be 100% perfect right now. Try to let go of your expectations that everything be exactly the way it was before the baby. It's not.
Giving yourself permission to relax and nurture yourself and your baby is not a luxury. It is vital to your well-being and you may be surprised at how wonderful it feels! So, go on treat yourself buy a new pair of PJ’s, make them the most beautiful you can afford and wear them with pride as you undertake the most important job in the world, nurturing a new life, everything else can wait.
Ok, not sure how I missed this as a option for having your baby if you live in and around Leuven, Belgium. Bolle Buik have a birth house! It's not home, it's not hospital. It is your home away from home! Here is what they are offering:
"If you prefer not to give birth in the hospital, but you don't feel like giving birth at home, you can visit our "Birth and Breakfast" to give birth with a midwife from Bolle Buik. Part of the home of midwife Patty Docx is made available for this purpose. There are three rooms. In the first room there is room to place a bath for during labor and/or childbirth. In the second room there is a double bed where the parents can rest with their baby after the birth. Of course you can also give birth there on the birthing stool, in bed, etc. And then there is the bathroom with walk-in shower, sink and toilet.
The condition for giving birth in the 'Birth and Breakfast' is the same as for a home birth. The pregnancy, labor and delivery should proceed normally.
After giving birth, the brand new family can stay for 24 hours. All meals during their stay are provided."
To find out more about the services of the Bolle Buik then check out their website: www.bollebuik.be/nl/geboorte
There is no doubt a woman's body is beautifully designed to birth her baby and a gentle vaginal birth offers the best possible start for her baby. But sometimes pregnancy, labour and birth can, for a number of reasons, take an unexpected turn and normal delivery via the vagina is not safe and caesarean birth may be the best option.
So, how can you ensure a caesarean birth is a positive, gentle and empowering experience?
In Belgium, the rate of caesarean births is around 21%, however, significant variations are observed between hospitals (from 11.8% to 32.9%). The WHO recommends a limit of 10% - 15% so Belgium exceeds this recommendation and the number has been rising steadily. So, it seems reasonable as part of your birth preparation to consider a plan for a caesarean birth.
A caesarean birth, whether expected or unplanned, offers unique challenges and circumstances for you and your baby. It is helpful to recognize that a caesarean birth is still a birth, and you can prepare in advance by including plans for a birth on your terms, even when it occurs in the operating theatre. Of course it goes without saying that you need to discuss your plan in advance with your caregivers to see what is possible in your situation and in your place of birth! It can be challenging to voice your preferences to your healthcare providers, but it is the first step towards creating an empowering birth experience. In the absence of a medical emergency, many gynaecologists in Belgium are happy to accommodate your requests - you may just have to make your wishes very clear.
It is really important that you understand the rationale behind why you are being offered a caesarean birth and own the decision to have one - it is your decision to make after all. If you are unsure of absolutely anything, ask questions and do your own research! Feeling it is the right decision will help you get in the right mindset and be able to fully appreciate the moment of your baby's birth.
What should you consider in your caesarean birth plan?
Your birth plan begins with creating an atmosphere where you can give birth to your baby in a peaceful and relaxed environment. An atmosphere that accepts a caesarean is major surgery but that works in tandem with yours and your baby's physiology. Your aim: to create as many aspects of a natural birth as you can within the operating theatre environment - a gentle environment for a gentle caesarean birth.
Your Birth Partners
Having two support people in the operating theatre is ideal. This allows your partner to stay with the baby if your baby needs special care. They can attend to your baby while a doula, midwife or other family member stays to support you. Your partner can:
Consider asking the theatre staff to introduce themselves when they arrive. There will probably be more people than you expect, all wearing masks and gowns. That little bit of human connection can go a long way for creating a positive experience. The staff should be focused on you and how you feel throughout the experience. This can include keeping the room quiet and using only positive words to explain what is happening.
Be Awake and Comfortable
Rarely an emergency caesarean birth requires a general anesthetic that puts you to sleep. However, for a planned caesarean birth, you can have an epidural or spinal block. This numbs the lower half of your body so you are awake for the surgery but feel no pain.
If you’re anxious or agitated, you might be offered other medication to help you feel groggy and less able to remember things afterward. You can let the anaesthetist know you would prefer to stay alert and involved.
It’s normal to feel jittery or nauseous in the operating theatre. To remedy this, instead of medications, peppermint essential oil on a cotton pad near your face will often do the trick.
Playing your own music can be deeply comforting especially if you’ve been planning something special. Ask to put on your own music. Make your own playlist! You can also be asked for the theatre lighting to be dimmed (not over your abdomen of course your gynaecologist needs good light).
Your abdomen is usually hidden from view during the operation by a curtain, but you can ask to see your baby being lifted from your uterus. Some hospitals even provide a clear drape to maintain the sterile field while allowing you to watch or the curtain can be lowered at the moment of birth so you can see your baby enter the world.
Announcing the Sex of Your Baby
If you’ve been waiting to learn the sex of your baby, ask if the staff can abstain from announcing it so you can discover it yourself when the baby is given to you.
Delaying Cord Clamping
Delayed cord clamping has been proved to offer a baby significant health benefits. It’s become the new normal for vaginal births but the practice isn’t so common for caesarean births. With delayed cord clamping the gynaecologist waits 3-5 minutes before clamping, then cutting, the umbilical cord. This allows extra placental blood to flow to the baby. You can read more about delayed cord clamping and its benefits at: waitforwhite.com/
Ask if your baby can be given to you immediately after birth for skin-on-skin contact, bonding, temperature/heart rate regulation and breastfeeding rather than being handed to the midwife for any routine procedures. This skin to skin contact promotes bonding, which has several advantages. Breastfeeding success is more likely, you'll develop attachment earlier, and your baby feels more secure after entering the world. It’s a great experience for birth partners, too, as they can benefit from skin to skin with baby and provide extra reassurance and support for you.
Ask if the IV catheter, oximeter and blood pressure cuff can be placed on your non-dominant arm and the electrocardiographic leads are placed on your back. This leaves your chest clear so you can hold your baby skin to skin on your chest.
Ask if all newborn procedures (e.g. weighing, vitamin K injection, dressing, etc.) can wait until after you’ve gone back to your room and had the opportunity to bond and breastfeed with your baby.
Talk to Your Baby
You and your partner can help ease your baby’s transition into the world by talking to them when they arrive. Hearing the sound of you and/or your partners voice is incredibly comforting for them and begins the next stage of your relationship. You might like to consider having a towel/blanket that you have slept in available to put over your baby soon after birth, helping to transfer your skin flora to baby (as with skin-to-skin).
Exteriorizing Your Uterus
Surgeons sometimes move the uterus out of the body to examine and repair it. However, research shows that this in no more effective than repairing it inside your abdominal cavity. Removing the uterus to repair it is tied to increases in nausea, vomiting, longer time to first bowel movement and postpartum pain. It is a worth inquiring about your gynaecologist's preferences
In a vaginal birth the final stage is the birth of your placenta. It is easy to forget that placenta delivery is also part of caesarean birth. As long as there’s no medical reason why your placenta needs to be sent away for testing, it can be given to you.
If you’re planning on placenta encapsulation, this can still be part of your plan. Your midwife can keep the placenta on ice for your partner to bring home. If you didn’t plan on encapsulation, it’s still nice to be given the chance to see this incredible organ your body made to keep your baby nourished in the womb. You can request a quick look before it’s whisked away, or ask a support person to take a photo.
How can a KG Hypnobirthing Course Support You In a Caesarean Birth?
KGHypnobirthing (KGH) can turn a scary and clinical experience into a safe and empowering one – knowing how to have a calm, confident and informed caesarean birth experience allows you to feel some of the benefits of a natural birth and have a positive birth experience, even if your birth takes an unexpected turn. There are a number of ways to emulate a natural KGHypnobirth in theatre. Here are some ideas for you to consider:
In labour and birth the hormone oxytocin is the star of the show and the amount you produce in labour dictates the strength, length and frequency of your surges (contractions). This is essential for a natural birth - but oxytocin can also support you when you are having a caesarean birth. Doing all you can to feel safe and happy will help you release the feel-good 'love hormone' oxytocin (it is not released when you are feeling scared or unsafe) which will in turn pass to your baby.
Whether the caesarean is elective or unplanned, you may feel apprehensive - you may have concerns about your baby’s health or your own and it is a major operation so somewhat significant! The calmer you are, the lower your stress levels will be, the more oxytocin you release and the calmer your baby will be. Breathing is the key to staying calm:
Oxytocin also plays a major role in bonding with your baby so the more of it you can have at the time of birth the better! And as oxytocin is also released in response to touch ask for a kiss, hand or reassurance from whoever is with you.
KGHypnobirthing affirmations / scripts:
Photos / affirmations cards:
Relaxations for a Caesarean MP3:
The KGH caesarean audio collection helps you prepare for your baby’s birth so you see it as a happy and positive event, and this makes a huge difference to your baby’s life. The audio includes:
You can purchase your caesarean relaxations at:
A KGHypnobirthing course provides the tools to support you through labour and birth regardless of how it unfolds. If you find yourself in the position where a caesarean is necessary, then you can be confident that the KGHypnobirthing techniques learnt on a course are also beneficial in the operating theatre and can give your baby a positive start in life.
A Positive Birth Story...
If at first you don't succeed (in finding a doctor who truly listens to your wishes and involves you in the decision-making process) try, try again! Kasia's story of the caesarean birth of third child is testament to everything you have read in this blog and how changing just a few details can change everything. Kasia's made small changes and her third birth was transformed into a healing, and most memorable birth experience. Read her story here at: www.thevillage.be/gentle-welcome-via-cesarean/
Why it is important to monitor your baby's movements?
What to look out for and most importantly what to do if they slow down or stop.
Did you know a decrease in baby's movements can be a key warning sign that a baby is in distress and 50% of mothers who had a stillbirth noticed slowing down of baby's movements beforehand?
So read on and find out how to monitor your baby's movements and what to do when their pattern of movements/kicks changes.
From around 16 - 24 weeks you begin to feel your baby as they move around in the womb and have a good understanding for how much they "kick", when and where. Your baby's movements are a reassuring sign that they are well if you notice a change then trust your instincts don't delay and get yourself checked out by your midwife or gynaecologist.
Most people usually start to feel their baby move between 16 and 24 weeks of pregnancy. You may feel your baby move as early as 16 weeks of pregnancy, especially if you’ve been pregnant before. If this is your first pregnancy, you may not notice your baby’s movements until you are more than 20 weeks pregnant.
What does baby movement feel like?
A baby’s movements can be anything from a kick, flutter, punch, swish or roll. The type of movement may change as your pregnancy progresses. Baby movement is often referred to as ‘baby kicks’
How often should my baby move?
All babies are different! There is no set number of normal movements. From 16 – 24 weeks on you should feel your baby move more and more until 32 weeks. After 32 weeks, movements should stay roughly the same until you give birth. It’s important to get to know your baby’s regular pattern of movement.
Why are my baby’s movements important?
Your baby’s movements are a sign of their well-being. A reduction or change in your baby’s movements can sometimes be a warning sign that they’re unwell. It’s important to know that it’s NOT true that babies move less towards the end of pregnancy. You should continue to feel your baby move right up to the time you go into labour and whilst you are in labour too.
Why would my baby’s movement reduce?
When the baby is being deprived of oxygen they will slow their movements to conserve oxygen. Cord compression, a failing placenta, or a high intake of smoke may all lead to reduced movements and could be potentially fatal.
What should I do if I notice reduced movement?
If you think your baby’s movements have slowed down or stopped, contact your midwife, gynaecolgist or maternity unit immediately. Midwives and doctors are there to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Don’t put off calling until the next day or wait until your next scheduled appointment. Don’t worry about picking up the phone, it’s important for your doctors and midwives to know if your baby’s movements have slowed down or stopped.
What if my baby’s movements are reduced again?
You should contact your maternity unit again, however many times it happens. Even if everything was normal last time, don’t hesitate to contact your midwife or maternity unit for advice. You’re always doing the right thing.
don’t ignore your instincts, don’t ever put off getting movements checked and make sure you’re aware of any changes in movements as it could quite literally save your baby’s life
Why are my baby’s movements important?
Your baby's movements are a sign of their wellbeing. A reduction or change in your baby’s movements can sometimes be a warning sign that they're unwell. It's important to know that:
If my baby's movements change does it mean my baby is definitely unwell?
Not at all. Checks by medical professionals usually find that everything is OK. Most women who report one or less episodes of reduced movement go on to have a healthy baby and straightforward pregnancy.
However, it's important to be checked to make sure the change isn't because your baby is one of the few that are unwell. Reporting concerns about your baby's movements could save their life.
Should I prompt my baby to move?
As it can cause a delay in getting medical advice, trying to make your baby move isn't recommended. If your baby's movements are concerning you, always call your maternity unit/midwife or gynaecologist.
Should I use a phone app or home doppler to check the baby's heartbeat?
Please don't use any device to check your baby's heartbeat, especially if you're concerned about their wellbeing. Even if you think you're listening to their heartbeat, it's possible you're actually listening to your own. The presence of a heartbeat alone does not mean your baby is well too- you both need to be checked by a healthcare professional if you're worried.
Kicks Count aims to reduce the UK's high stillbirth and neonatal death rate by raising awareness of baby movements. You can find more out about Kicks Count here
Adapted from the Kicks Count website (Jan 2023)
Following from my blog post FRONT AND CENTRE IS WHERE YOU NEED TO BE -WRITING YOUR BIRTH PROPOSAL read on the find out more about how to write your birth proposal.
Midway through your pregnancy it is an idea to discuss your birth plan with your midwife or gynaecologist. It is a way of registering your preferences for the process of your labour so that your wishes can be carried out whilst you concentrate on relaxing, breathing and focusing on the birth of your baby.
The ethos of hypnobirthing is to encourage natural childbirth and empower you to be in control of this process. Here are a few areas for you to discuss with your midwife and add to your birth plan if you wish. In a hypnobirthing course these are covered in more detail but please feel free to drop me an email or call if you want to discuss any of these areas.
A quiet and calm environment where you feel safe and confident will help keep you relaxed and let your labour develop quickly and smoothly. It is easier to create this environment in your own home but points to consider include:
If you plan on taking a course and practising for a Hypnobirthing Birth it is a good idea to let your caregivers know this so they can be fully supportive. Whilst Hypnobirthing is becoming more widespread there are still a number of health professionals who have not had any experience of the process. Simply put, practising hypnobirthing empowers you to have a calm and gentle, natural and drug free birth, and uses self hypnosis, breathing, and deep relaxation and visualisation techniques.
It is best if you request patience and understanding to refrain (in the absence of medical emergency) from any intervention, or any procedure that could unnecessarily stand in the way of you having the most natural birth possible. It is good to state this clearly on your birth plan/proposal.
Activity During Labour
Although gentle movement can be beneficial in the early stages of labour, please bear in mind that you need to conserve your energy for actual birth of your baby. Eating whatever snacks appeal to you in the early stages of labour helps to maintain your energy. Remember the muscles of the uterus are some of the strongest muscles in the human body and they are working to capacity. Labour can be entirely comfortable and, at the same time, the muscular effort is powerful.
If you prefer to be undisturbed, you can decline an internal examination with no risk to yourself or your baby in normal circumstances.
Monitoring Your Babies Heart
Your baby’s heart can be monitored by Doppler ultrasound or with a stethoscope if you prefer not to expose your baby to the risks of sonar.
Positions to Give Birth In
There are a variety of positions you can give birth in but ultimately you’ll do what you feel like at the time. Many women find that a vertical, slightly forward position is the most comfortable, so that the weight of the baby is not pressing on your circulatory and nervous systems, gravity is on your side, and the capacity of the pelvis is at its maximum.
Popular positions include:
Many women find having a bath or shower very comfortable in pregnancy, and this feeling of relaxation in water can continue in labour. Being relaxed and at ease in the water allows your muscles to work more freely and so your baby is born more quickly. A birth pool is warm and you’re buoyant so you can move more easily into any position that suits you. Being in the water also increases the chance of respectful care, and women say it improves their experience. Birth pools were pioneered by Michel Odent in the 1970s on the grounds that a baby had been in ‘water’ for the last nine months and so would find it a more gentle introduction to the world.
Skin to Skin Contact with Your Baby
Immediately after your baby is delivered they can be placed on your tummy, giving skin to skin contact. This is very beneficial because the only things in your baby’s new world that it recognises from it’s old world are your skin, your heartbeat and breathing, and you and your partners voices. Skin to skin contact helps to build the bond between you and your baby and helps establish breastfeeding. You should allow any vernix to be absorbed into your baby’s skin so there is no need for any cleaning or rubbing. It can be done later if needed with a soft cloth.
Delivery of Your Placenta
In hospital directly after the birth you will often be offered an injection of artificial oxytocin. The purpose of this is to cause uterine contractions and to prevent or stop postpartum haemorrhaging and help with a fast delivery of the placenta. However evidence shows this may be an unnecessary procedure in many women and may inhibit the production of natural oxytocin. It is often routinely being used without full knowledge of the mother. The choice is yours, and it is wise to do some research beforehand. This is one of the many subjects which are discussed in a hypnobirthing course.
A drug free and natural way for your body to achieve the same process as above is to immediately breastfeed your baby which will assist with the natural delivery of your placenta, as well as give your child the sustenance and comfort it needs at the beginning of life.
A few other ideas you might like to consider:
Vitamin K for your baby
Vitamin K is offered for babies and again the choice is yours. It can be given by injection after they are born and helps prevent a rare disease called Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding. It can be also be given by mouth in several doses after your baby is born which saves them from an injection within the first few hours of arriving in this world. If you choose to give the vitamin K by mouth it is essential that it is completed in full. Of course you can choose not to give Vitamin K.
Cutting your Baby's Umbilical Cord
Delaying the cutting of the cord until it has stopped pulsating enables the full supply of oxygenated blood to reach your baby. This also provides a dual support system while your baby learns to take its first breaths.
Supporting and encouraging you to breastfeed several times during the first few hours after birth. It’s a wonderful way of establishing your bond with your baby.
Medical Interventions can be life-savers in an emergency situation, and unnecessary interventions can themselves create unnecessary problems; something to be considered carefully and researched in advance. Medical interventions are discussed in detail on a KG Hypnobirthing course. You might want to check the AIMS website: www.aims.org.uk/ for more information.
There are a number of different pain relief options and many women use a combination of them. To enjoy a natural and comfortable birth, a hypnobirthing course will go a long way to helping you have a calm and gentle birth. Thank goodness pain relief is available, but many hypnobirthing mothers find it is not needed as birth can be comfortable and calm.
Induction of Labour
Induction of labour is often offered as standard, and often presented as if you have no choice. Remember you are entitled to a full discussion and explanation of the pros and cons before you decided on any intervention. Always listen carefully to medical advice; your midwives and doctor are knowledgeable and experienced, but remember that it is ultimately your decision.
On the KGH website you will find a free interactive birth plan you can complete to discuss with your caregivers. I will be discuss many of these topics in more depth on my hypnobirthing courses. But, I hope this has given you some food for thought at this exciting time.
When you're expecting your first baby, it's easy to feel overwhelmed figuring out what baby items you 'need' to buy. This is a fab article from www.thevillage.be/baby-essentials/ They have put together some tips to help you choose your baby essentials, as well as lots of suggestions for how to make your money go further when sourcing baby gear!
In fact www.thevillage.be/ is a brilliant resource to delve into it you need any information on having a baby or raising a young family as an ex-pat in Belgium. Navigating the system is not always easy or straightforward and the village covers everything!