Tuesday, March 22, 2011

All in a day

You know this evening, I was thinking how wonderful and varied my work is.  In fact, I do not call it work, I actually call it a privilege.  To be the midwife chosen to share and participate in the care of the woman and her family makes it very special.

I can be on the road going from house to house doing antenatal checks and meeting the family one minute and then rushing off to delivery suite to birth a baby the next.  Then, if it is still early in the day, maybe do some more antenatal or postnatal checks on mums and babies.
I consider myself very lucky and I am humbled at the amazing inner strength of women as I share their journey with them as they go through their pregnancy, birth and grow into motherhood.  

The lifestyle can be unpredictable, in the sense that I can be anywhere at any given time, that said, I would not change that for the world.  Thank you for allowing me to share your journey.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Partners in the birthing room

I am going to talk about men.  Not men in the general sense but those who are planning to be present at the birth of their baby.  Usually sometime after the birth, I chat to the men to see how they got on when their partners were in labour and their thoughts and feelings on the process.

To give a sense of history, men have only been invited into the delivery room for the last 35 years.  Before then, when woman went to hospital to birth the baby, traditionally the men would have been sent home and told to come back the following day, or they were sent to waiting room where they would either chain smoke or pace the corridor until they were told the baby had been born. 

The results of a study carried out by Bedford & Johnson (1988), found that, father's perceived their presence and role in the birthing room as one of guidance, comforting and protection from an alien enviroment. However, recent research suggest that fathers felt they were excluded from the decision making and were left feeling isolated and frightened (Harvey, 2010).

The main concern that came from the discussions were that men perceived themselves as not being able to do anything for their partner, particularly the pain.  To put this into perspective, pain is subjective and it means different things to different people. That said, the pain in labour that your partner will experience is completely normal, in fact, I call it 'Good Pain,' because it lets us know that the woman is in labour and her body is working hard for the baby to be born. The pain of labour also helps her body to release endorphins which are its own powerful morphinelike painkiller.  

There are many things that you can do to help your woman in labour.  You can be there to hold her hand, tell her you love her, massage her back, tell her you are proud of her, wipe her brow, support her through the pain by  telling her how wonderful she is.  Help her to remember to drink water between contractions, to breathe through the contractions, to connect with her baby.  You can be there to guard the doorway to prevent over excited relatives turning up unannounced and interupting the flow of her labour (unless she has invited them).  The Midwife will be there as advocate and support you both, she will explain everything fully so both of you are able to make informed decisions.  

While searching for a link for new fathers, I came across an article where a top obstetrician suggests that men should never be at the birth of their child.  Michel Odent, who I have quoted before (see Oxytocin the love hormone) in my blog, suggests that, "his presence is a hindrance and a significant factor why labours are longer, more painful and more likely to end in intervention."

Makes interesting reading, here is the link to the article.

For fathers and their children

Bedford, V.A., Johnson, N., (1988).  The role of the father. Midwifery. 4 (4). 190-195.
Harvey, M., (2010).  More support needed for new fathers in the delivery room.  

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Diet in pregnancy

The reason why it is important for you to have a good diet is, not only for you to feel healthy and well during pregnancy, but also for your growing baby.  

I thought I would list here the important vitamins and minerals and the food sources where they can be found.

Vitamin A (needed for bone and tissue growth, , healthy skin, eyes and mucous membranes)
Raw carrot, leafy green vegetables such as spinach, pumpkin seeds, parsley, celery, capsecum, cabbage, watercress, tomatoes.  Also found in fruit such as mango, papaya, oranges and dried apricots.

Vitamin B (For development of the nervous system and brain)
Also known as the complex vitamin and is found in leafly green vegetables, meat, yeast extract, egg yolk, fish, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, beansprouts, avocados, banana, nuts, mushrooms, currants and wholegrains.  

Vitamin C (For the immune system, tissue formation and helps with iron absorbtion and is depleted by smoking)
Found in red pepper, leafy freen vegetables, tomatoes, parsley, kiwi fruit, cherries, broccoli, papaya, strawberries, citrus fruit and melon.

Vitamin D (Needed for bones and teeth)
Also called the sunshine vitamin.  Spend 20 minutes a day in full spectrum sunlight. Also found in fish liver oil, salmon, egg yolk and butter.

Vitamin E (Needed for circulation, wound healing and tissue growth)
Found in dark green vegetables, broccoli, eggs, whole grain cereals, tomatoes, olive oil, nuts, pumpkin seeds, avocados and wheatgerm oil.

Vitamin K (Required for normal blood clotting)
Found in leafy green vegetables, kale, turnips, brussel sprouts, broccoli, spring onions, tomatoes, lettuce and asparagus.

Iodine (Thyroid function and energy levels)
Found in seaweed, kelp and iodinised salt.

Zinc (Immune function, nervous and skeletal system)
Found in green vegetables, lentils, almonds, tofu, rice, nuts, pumpkin seeds, whole grain, brewers yeast and oats.

Calcium (Needed for muscle contraction, brain function, involved in blood clotting).  Stored in the bones and found in leafy green vegetables, kale, almonds, chick peas, carrots, avocado's, brown rice, sardines and celery.

Iron (Needed to make oxygen carrying proteins and found in red blood cells)
To prevent anaemia, it is found in egg yolk, fish, meat, brewers yeast, kelp, sunflower seeds, pulses,lentils, oats and seaweed.

A friends sister used to make a wonderful nutritious energy drink for our labouring ladies and consisted of delicious lemon and honey, both of which are easily absorbed by the body. 

Thank you to Nicole who loaned me, "The Birthkeepers" by Veronika Sophia Robinson.  A wonderful book that helps us, as midwives, women, and mothers to remember our roots and to protect and reclaim the ancient tradition of birthing.  I have to say that I loved it and it totally resonated with me.

Donley, J., (2003).  Compendium for a healthy pregnancy and a normal birth.  Auckland.  
Robinson, V.S., (2008). The Birthkeepers:reclaiming an ancient tradition.  Starflower Press.