Holistic Birth Preparation starts hereJun 26, 2021
Dear Pregnant Vegan,
As a midwife I have observed many births.
They are all special and magical and always fill me with wonder at how - once again - a little human emerged.
Gets me. every. single. time!
Looking on, it is apparent that in some cases it seems to take significantly more time and effort for this to happen than others. Like many of my colleagues I am intrigued by why that is.
Is there anything that can be done to help make it easier?
The answer is there are plenty of ways to prepare for birth. I am going to focus on Yoga, aromatherapy and nutrition as a holistic approach to birth preparation.
Talking to people about yoga has made me realise that most seem to hold one of two perceptions about what it is.
One - 'Yoga is just relaxation, right? I mean you lie down to meditate?
Well, my first thought here is this: 'just' relax is easy to say!
And yes, there are elements of relaxation in yoga. But like anything else, true relaxation, true stillness of the mind is a skill in and of itself and therefore you need to practice it.
Two - Yoga is a sport. It's for incredibly fit and bendy folks with the ability to contort their bodies into shapes unobtainable by mere mortals (thanks Instagram).
Not true! My yoga teacher Paddy always says 'Everyone who has ever stepped onto a yoga mat will meet their limitations, we just all meet them somewhere different.' Paddy, as the name suggests, is Irish, but that's not the take away message here.
The truth is that pregnancy yoga classes are filled with people like you and me.
A quick rundown of what yoga is:
Yoga is an ancient practice that has 8 'limbs' to it.
The physical (asana) and meditation (dhyana) practices of yoga only form two of them.
As a full practice yoga considers attitudes toward our environment (yama),
attitudes toward ourselves (niyama),
breathing practices (pranayama),
sense restraint (pratyahara),
and finally complete integration (samadhi).
In the world of birth preparation we already know that meditation, breathing and sense restraint work well in helping labour along.
Take the various self hypnosis for birth programs for instance.
They all teach participants how to slow their breathing and how to integrate the bodily sensations of labour by altering their state of mind. This is aided by having the birth environment dark, quiet and free from interruptions.
They also all teach the parents what they need to know about pregnancy and birth in order to make informed decisions. Parents approach labour with confidence and the ability to advocate for their birth choices.
Birth partners are encouraged to learn how to help the birthing process by giving massages and talking their birthing loved one through guided relaxations.
And it works! I have seen it many many times.
And you don't have to take my word for it. There is evidence to suggest that these measures reduce the overall use of pain relief and may even result in fewer labours being augmented using synthetic oxytocin drips.
The effects are enhanced when the birthing person and the birth partners alike have spent time practicing regularly prior to the big day itself.
The ability to relax the body and mind in labour helps with keeping the voluntary muscles more relaxed. This in turn allows the involuntary processes of birth to happen with more ease.
The womb can labour the baby down without resistance from the abdominal and perineal muscles.
Most noticeably women who have learned a self hypnosis method in pregnancy are calm in labour. Sometimes they even tell us that they enjoyed their labours.
In Germany, my country of birth, it is widely understood that 'Schwangerschaftsgymnastic' (excercise in pregnancy) is an important part of birth preparation. And guess what? A lot of the recommended exercises are based on Yoga and they incorporate breathing and relaxation techniques, too!
So, a well structured birth education program will include relaxation, meditation, deep breathing and physical work as well as teaching about pregnancy and birth.
At The Pregnant Vegan we strongly believe that teaching parents about the importance of nutrition is equally as important.
Adequate nutrition cuts down on your likelihood of pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes or having a small baby.
Therefore the signature birth preparation program at The Pregnant Vegan provides you with holistic birth preparation as well as vegan meal plans adapted to meet all your nutritional needs throughout your pregnancy.
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