Dear Obstetrician,

Dear Obsetrician, I am a birth educator. I see the full range of women in my work, some women feel safest with midwives in a birth centre. Medical equipment can make them nervous. Some women birth at home, they feel safest there.

But many, many women choose obstetricians – this is how many women feel safest.

This is a big compliment to doctors and I wonder if you have ever thought about this great honour and trust bestowed upon you?

Do you realise the huge influence you have over the path of this precious, life-giving ceremony?

How it starts, unfolds and ends…

Image depicts a ‘birth simulator’

As the days are unfolding close to birth, do you trust her – as strongly as she trusts you?

Do you give her a safe space, with patience and warmth and then keep your hands in your pockets unless in a true emergency?

Do you practise faith and observe with unbiased eyes?

She has come into your space to have her child ‘delivered’ safely.

She fully believes that you have the skills and knowledge to guide and assist her to labour in such a way to lead to the best birth outcome possible.

She does not know that when she steps into a hospital she steps into a world of ‘medical anxiety’, where many staff may unknowingly be harbouring exaggerated fears of the body malfunctioning and her, or the baby, dying. She does not know that this will affect her birth experience.

She does not know that your tension and your doubts, can lead to nervousness in her body and lead her to tighten her body. And that tight, tense bodies lead to slower, restricted descent of babies (have you spent much time reflecting on these somatic and subconscious issues affecting birth?).

(Do you warn your pregnant women that this material is not covered in the hospital-run, antenatal courses?)

She does not know she has a 33.3 % chance of being steered towards major surgery, often times under strong emotional pressure (where the urgent recommendations from medical staff are coming from a concerned and caring place – but are often also mingled with quite a bit of underlying medical fear).

She does not know that most often it is the lead-up care that causes the distress to baby and mother.

When healthy, low risk, women walk into their first appointment, do you or your midwife team members warn her of the high risk of chemical and surgical interventions awaiting her?

Are you a birth enthusiast, a birth passionate?

Have you read widely and passionately in this field? Are you familiar with the extensive work of the worlds’ leading Obstetricians and midwives like Micheal Odent? Ina May Gaskin? Hannah Dahlen? Andrew Bisits? Dr Grantly Dick Read (deceased)?

When you work with a woman, please know that she came to you to be safe and that this can best be achieved by a baby being born naturally and smoothly (unless in the case of a true medical emergency). The body is wise and functions completely differently from what you commonly see – but to see true, pure birth – labour must be allowed to begin, progress and complete – unhindered.

The women I work with, if you allow them, are eager and willing to demonstrate pure birth to you.

And you can become the next world famous OB leading the way in positive birth for women and be eagerly recommended by birth educators like myself 🙂

obstetrician

Sincerely,

Natalie Meade

GradDipC, GradDipPsyc, GradDipEd, Bsc (Hons), CCE, CH

What does labour feel like?

Labour is like many things in life, very difficult to explain to those who have not felt it.

To further complicate the issue, it can strongly be influenced by expectations, your reaction to it, your surroundings and your carers reactions to you!

One thing is for sure, if you are tense and holding your breath, it will HURT!

And another thing for sure… there are a lot of things you CAN do to prepare (these things are generally not covered at all in standard hospital antenatal courses, you will need to seek birth education specialists).

Here is a quote from a first time dad:

“This pain is a whole new beast”

James sought out a four hour, intensive birth preparation session with The Hunter Birth Education Centre for their second birth and had such a fast and smooth labour they had a vaginal birth after caesarean in their own doorstep.

A little birth preparation goes a long way!

Best wishes to the mum, dad and new baby.

Thank you James for sharing your quote to help share what you learnt from the birth of your first child.

ANSWER:

And to attempt to answer the question of “what does labour feel like?”

* Labour can feel like a strong period pain (although one client who had experienced severe endometriosis all her life felt that her labour could not be serious yet as it hurt less than her period pain)
* Labour can feel like an aching, pressure in the back (a good friend of mine did not know she was in labour as she just though her bad back was playing up again, it was only when she finally noticed the ache was coming in a repeating pattern that she realised)
* labour can feel like shooting cramps and/or muscle spasms down the thigh
* Labour can feel like pulling and/or aching deep inside the lower pelvis and/or all over the uterus, front back and sides
* Labour can feel like a severe, strong pressure and tightening anywhere in the front, back, sides, high and/or low Uterus, groin and stomach regions
* Labour can feel like you just want to crawl up into a little ball and cry
* Labour can feel like you will do anything to rest
* Labour can feel nauseating
* Labour can feel exhausting and never ending
* Labour can feel exciting, funny, immense, life changing and even orgasmic!
* When I was in labour for a miscarriage (which can feel exactly like actual labour) I could literally feel some longitudinal uterus muscles pulling upwards inside my mid region and the cervix muscle expanding open.
* If you focus on the uterus as a big muscle that contracts and expands, labour can feel powerful and expansive.
* I could go on forever.. But my toddler will benefit from some attention soon 🙂

Ina May Gaskin suggests that during labour you give a contraction your entire focused (and curious) attention.. if you can do that for a few contractions, then please send me an email with your own explanation of what labour feels like!

All the best for your birth adventures,

Please call if you have any questions,

I’m always happy to give 15 minutes phone consults with no obligation and free of charge!

For passion, not profit!

Natalie Meade

Creator and Manager of HBEC

0406 934 645

Low Lying Placenta

Worried about your ultrasound? Told you have a low lying placenta?

So many women are told this at their early ultrasounds and then asked to check back at about 32 weeks.

They spend the next 10 weeks of pregnancy worrying and panicking, thinking they may need a caesarean or that there is something “wrong”. Only to be told at the next ultrasounds that “its okay” , “its moved up”.

Congratulations on finding and reading this blog! You will be able to understand the situation now and see that the chances of your placenta being any problem for birth is extremely low – it is most likely that all is very normal and very well 🙂

What IS happening?

Following conception, the placenta implants itself somewhere in your uterus, in no specific position. It may implant low, high, posterior (back) or anterior (front).

In your first and second trimesters, the uterus still has much growing to do, so an ultrasound late in your third trimester (after the uterus has finished growing) will give you and your doctor or midwife a better picture of what’s really going on.

An ultrasound may show that a placenta is near the cervix in early pregnancy. But, only a few women will develop true placenta previa. It is common for the placenta to move away from the cervix as the uterus grows. Only two to five percent of placentas that are “low lying” end up grade three or grade four previas by full term.

If the placenta does remain near or over the bottom of the uterus neck at the cervix, then there can be signs or symptoms to look out for:

Sudden, painless, bright red vaginal loss, usually in the later half of the pregnancy
Painless vaginal bleeding after sex
Uterine cramping with bleeding
Bleeding during labour

How Close To The Cervix Can My Placenta Be?

Doctors have different limits for how low they are happy for the placenta to be before they will tell you that you shouldn’t have a vaginal birth. It can be useful to get second/third opinions on a low placenta if you would like to avoid a caesarean section. Some doctors will be happy with the placenta to be above 2cms (20mm) from the os (cervix) and some prefer 3cms (30mm).

Get informed, find out what distance the placenta is from the cervix and ask your doctor or midwife if they would be willing to support your wishes for a vaginal birth (should it not move, as well as what measurement they want it to be).

What else you can do?

Insist on a tansvaginal scan to get a thoroughly accurate picture of what’s happening.

Transvaginal ultrasound scan is more accurate to assess placenta previa, trans abdominal scan usually over diagnosis it in up to one-fourth of the cases.

MRI: Can clearly outline the location of a placenta previa, but it is much more expensive and less readily available.

Birth Story PND Mental Health

‘My birth story, speaking the truth’ – Shared by a local Newcastle Mum

(Although this mother wishes to remain anonymous for now, she is choosing to share to help normalise and speak out about Post natal depression and mental health struggles for women).

“My husband and I had been talking about starting a family for some time but struggled to find the ‘right’ time. I had started a new job and was throwing everything into my work. We had also just moved into a rental property and were looking to buy a house. With everything in flux, I was determined to get settled into work and a new house. But my body had been aching for a baby. Everyone seemed to be pregnant or holding small children.

When we found out we were expecting a baby we were in shock as it was our first month of trying. We expected, especially after my complications with Hypothalamic Amenorrhea, to have to wait a long time to fall pregnant. We felt so lucky and relieved and nervous. It was the hardest secret to keep. I was very, very lucky to experience a wonderful pregnancy with little sickness or pain.

We decided to make a decision to change our birthing plan at about 22 weeks. Before then I had been seeing an obstetrician through the private hospital but I had been thinking about other options. Another woman I knew had a midwife and a natural birth and I had been reading into Hypnobirthing. I decided one day, just when I was about to book into the private hospital prenatal classes, that I would call a local Hypnobirthing specialist, and ask some questions. Our conversation was everything I was after. Natalie also pointed me in the direction of the Belmont Midwifery Group Practice, where natural, drug-free births take place at their birthing suites or at home. I called them and had a midwife arranged. Within a week or so, we had completely changed our plans and we couldn’t be happier.

I began devouring information on the birthing experience. I read and re-read ‘Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method’ (my husband read this one too, which was helpful). I fell in love with books by Ina May Gaskin and learnt about acupressure for birth (which we completely forgot to use). I watched Ted Talks and read blogs. I learnt all of the hypnobirthing terminology and knew about each phase of labour. I had become a complete birth nerd.

When I got to 38 weeks, I was sure labour would start soon. My mother had wonderful pregnancies and delivered three times at 38 weeks and I am just like her. But for two long weeks I bounced up and down on my yoga ball eating pineapple and curry.

At 40 weeks and 1 day, I started experiencing contractions (or surges, for the hypnobirthing folk out there) at around 10:30pm that came every ten minutes or so. I was able to get a couple of hours of sleep but woke up at about 4am. I drew a bath, diffused Clary Sage and told my sleeping husband that today would be the day.

Dinner time rolled around and I was still experiencing contractions every ten minutes. That night I got very little sleep as I was awoken every ten minutes- just as I’d start to doze off. I also reheated the wheat bag about twenty times! I made sure my husband slept through all of this because I knew I would need him when labour began.

By Sunday I was sick of being housebound and certain that I was never going to have a baby, so we decided to take our mind off things and keep me active with a little Christmas decoration shopping. I rested on seats at the shops and held on to reindeer or Christmas trees when the contractions were too strong. We decorated the tree when we got home and I took another bath.

That night, we went to a family birthday party as it was close to home and I was feeling up to it. When I was at the party, I noticed the contractions were getting closer together and I was struggling to hold conversations. I struggled to get through my lemon meringue pie (a sure indication that something was happening) and we decided to head home early.

Before bed, I had another bath to soothe my aching back. The moment I got into bed my waters broke, which I never expected to happen! My husband called the midwife and told her what had happened. There was no rush at this point- I was to wait until I had four contractions in ten minutes. But contractions started coming hard and fast so we were to head straight into the birthing suite.

When we reached the birthing suite, I got straight under a hot shower and then spent several hours in the bathtub. I found at this point that I could not focus on the meditation tracks but preferred soothing music. The midwives checked me routinely and wiped my forehead with a washer soaked in icy water. It was bliss! They left us to be on our own for most of my labour, which was exactly what we wanted. I was using the hypnobirthing balloon meditation through each contraction, focusing on a variety of colours which ended up following a particular pattern. This technique helped me to focus on my breath and an awareness of expansion rather than contraction.

belmont midwifery group practise

After several hours and position changes, I got out of the bath. My midwives recommended sitting on the toilet. I took whiffs of Clary Sage and held my husband tightly. I was finding labour incredible intense at this point and was losing energy.

I looked at the bed and knew in my gut that I had to lie down and rest. My contractions had slowed and lost intensity but my baby’s heart rate was strong. My midwives observed that I was dehydrated and would need to drink water or have a saline drip. I tried drinking a fair amount of water followed by a sip of my husband’s orange juice but ended up vomiting. I had the drip and focused on relaxing my body, which wouldn’t stop shaking.

I fell into this strange yet blissful state that lasted hours. I felt contractions coming and going, but also drifted in and out of consciousness. My husband, too, doesn’t know what happened between about 2:30 and 4:30am!

My contractions strengthened and a wave of energy came over me. After about 54 hours of regular contractions, I was on my last legs. I moved to the birthing seat and found the handles to be life savers. One of the midwives took some incredible, raw photos at this point, which I look back on sometimes to remind myself of my strength.

I definitely didn’t employ the gentle birth breathing I’d prepared for – I was pushing with all my might! The midwives were great at helping me channel my remaining energy into birthing. At 6:43am, our darling little boy made his way into the world and into the hands of his father. He was put up on my chest and made his first cries. I truly couldn’t believe what was happening and joined him in the crying!

He stayed on my chest for some time after that. I had learnt that newborns go searching for the nipple when they’re born and I wanted to see if he would too. He did, and with a little help we were breastfeeding.

After our first breastfeed, we phoned our parents and our midwives did all of their measuring and weighing. I also needed to have a few stitches. We were going to have our parents visit us at the birthing suite, but after a quick shower and another breastfeed we were ready to head off and decided to meet them at our house. They brought around morning tea and we settled in for a cuppa.

Belmont birth

My mum stayed for the whole day (and came over on many days after that!), allowing my husband and I to catch up on some sleep in the afternoon. Our midwives visited daily for a week or so to check in on all of us. And from then on, we were parents!

While I was very fortunate to experience such positive pregnancy and birthing experiences, I was one of the many women who struggled with mental illness following the birth of their first child.

I had always assumed that if I had a wonderful pregnancy and birth, the postpartum period would be wonderful too. If only life were that clear-cut!

What I haven’t included in my birth story is my mental health struggle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and anxiety that re-emerged a week before my baby was born.

OCD is an anxiety condition that affects about 3% of people. A common, well-known form is contamination OCD, such as the fear of germs or diseases, but OCD encapsulates any obsession that causes thoughts, images or doubts to loop in your mind, along with the resulting physical or mental compulsions (such as hand-washing or rumination).

I had previously dealt with what I believe now was OCD a few years prior. I had been travelling overseas on holidays with my husband during a frantic time in my career. A doubt that I would never sleep again came into my head somewhere between the jetlag and the work stress and I couldn’t let it go. I spent much of my ‘holiday’ awake, crying to my exhausted husband in bed, or on the phone to my mother, or avoiding caffeine and late nights and alcohol and anything that could interfere with sleep, fearing it from morning until night.

belmont birth mental health

It ebbed and flowed for months after out return home. I didn’t seek treatment other than the standard sleeping pills and vitamins. Eventually, life came back into the picture and the fear was buried.

This experience set the stage for what occurred before my son’s birth. A week or so before my son was born I woke up at 2am. I was used to waking up throughout pregnancy and my sleep had been overall excellent. But this time the doubt struck again. What if I can’t sleep when my baby arrives? This then spiralled into many other doubts- what if I can’t sleep well enough before the birth and I’m too exhausted to deliver? What if this causes postnatal depression? What if I can’t take care of my baby? What if I blame my baby for this? What if I then don’t love him/her?

I struggled with these doubts and with sleep for several months. Even when I’d have a good night of sleep (carefully added up first thing the following morning), I’d still spend the day gripped by anxiety and fear. Unfortunately you can’t rationalise with OCD! I sought therapy at this point, which helped a great deal. My anxiety decreased and sleep improved, but I still hadn’t addressed it to the extent I needed to and as such, a new obsession emerged. It was at this point that I was diagnosed with OCD.

My obsessions have changed several times in the past year and I am still tackling this condition one day at a time. Therapy, medication, exercise, meditation, yoga and supplementation have helped a great deal, as has sharing my struggles with friends and family and letting go of my perfectionist tendencies. 

For baby number two, I’ll make use of the techniques I’ve learnt through Natalie and her private Birth Education and hypnobirthing. I’ll also apply Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) strategies that I’ve developed in my mental health journey this year. While two differing practices, I believe they both have wonderful insights to offer and that it’s important to personalise your approach to birth, just as you do to your life.

If there’s anything I’ve learnt through my pregnancy, birthing and postpartum experience, it’s that life – just like birth – is often that bit messier than we expect it to be.

Although this author wishes to remain anonymous, she shares her very personal story to help normalise and speak out about mental illness struggles for mums.

Click here for more information about Belmont Midwifery Group Practise

Click here for more information about Natalie and her Birth Education Services

NOTE: If you are experiencing mental and/or emotional struggles, call PANDA, free phone counselling for pregnancy and beyond: PANDA National Helpline (Mon to Fri, 9am – 7.30pm AEST) Call 1300 726 306 https://www.panda.org.au/info-support/support/calling-panda-national-helpline

and read more here: https://www.panda.org.au/info-support/postnatal-psychosis

Natalie Meade, Manager HBEC

Hi, My name is Natalie Meade, Manager HBEC.

natalie meade HBEC

 

Who am I?

On the surface I am the creator and manager of the Hunter Birth Education Centre.

Deeper, I am a woman passionate about learning, education, womens’ birthing power and our amazing brains and bodies.

On the surface, I am highly educated and qualified.

Deeper, I am a questioner, a curious human, a challenger of the status quo.

On the surface, I am a mother and a partner.

Deeper, I am a consciously caring and nurturing person. I deeply value intimacy and trust in all my relationships.

On the surface, I am an active volunteer and fundraiser within local birth groups and birth education events.

Deeper, I am passionate about community connection and community mutual support.

On the surface, I offer birth education, birth support and counselling, hypnosis and mindfulness for birth and relationship/intimacy coaching.

Deeper, I bring people closer to themselves and to each other.

 

I hope we meet – some day soon,

Natalie Meade.

Creator and Manager, Hunter Birth Education Centre.

0406 934 645

Natalie Meade HBEC

 

For more detail on my qualifications please see below,

University Studies:

Bachelor of Advanced Science with Distinction Honours (1997) University of NSW 

Graduate Diploma of Psychology (2010) Sydney University

Diploma of Education (2007) University of NSW

 

Institute Studies:

Childbirth Educator Certification, HypnoBirthing Institute, 2009.

Graduate Diploma of Counselling within the Masters of Counselling and Psychotherapy Jansen Newman Institute, Sydney

Certificate of Advanced Clinical Hypnotherapy, Academy of Applied Hypnosis.

Hypnobirthing Antenatal Program and Birth Skills Training,  HypnoBirthing Institute, Gold Seal Mongan Method (2009-2017)

Couples ‘Love Works’ Educator, the Australian School of Tantra.

 

Organisation Involvement:

Admin leader and meetings facilitator of the “Positive Birth Movement Newcastle” Community group.

Clinical Member, Australian Hypnotherapists Association (AHA) (Member No: CM2015098)

Past Supervisor Co-ordinator and NSW Treasurer, Australian Hypnotherapists Association (NSW)(2010-2016)

Registered Practitioner and Ambassador, HypnoBirthing Institute.(2009-2017)

Lifeline Telephone Crisis Supporter (2007-2012)

Lifeline Training Facilitator (2013).

Auburn Council ‘Lifelong Learning’ HypnoBirthing Course Facilitator

 

Specialized Training:

Mental Health First Aid Certificate (2010)

Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training Certificate (2012) ASIST Living Works Training

NLP Training, Further Education Sydney University Courses.

Mindfulness Training, Further Education Sydney University Courses.

Dance for Birth, Level one practitioner training completed 2015, Embody Birth, Maha El Musa.