Category Archives: Pregnancy

Why Birthplace Matters

BIRTHPLACE MATTERS
Babies matter
Mothers matter
Fathers matter
Siblings matter
Midwives matter
Choice matters
Dignity matters
Rights matter
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Hospitals across the country are suspending their homebirth services

… which forces women to either pay for an independent midwife if they want a homebirth, move to another area, or give birth unassisted

… or go back to give birth in the same hospitals where they may have already suffered birth trauma and interventions that might have been avoided

… and every woman should be able to determine for herself what setting feels like the right place for her to labour, give birth and spend the first precious hours and days with her baby – not have the choice made by others.

Paula Cleary, writer, doula and home-birth mother of five spearheaded the Birthplace Matters campaign a year ago to urge her local hospital, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Norfolk, UK, to reinstate its homebirth service for women…..and a call for better information about the safety of homebirth and understanding of the strength of women’s feelings regarding the place they give birth to their babies.

Birthplace Matters is committed to restoring confidence in homebirthing and feel it is every woman’s human right to give birth at home.

Every woman should be able to choose the setting of her baby’s entry into the world.

Wherever women are told their birthplace choices are not important, wherever women are belittled or sacrificed at the altar of short-term birthplace policy, we will help. Women should not be at the mercy of a postcode lottery when we all pay the same taxes, and we will fight any trust that takes away its homebirth service until it is reinstated.

Our focus at this time is the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn, Norfolk.

Where next?

Her recent, rousing passionate writing compiles words from mothers and respected birth experts as to why birth place matters, exploring the efficacy of hypnobirthing, water birthing, doulas, fetal monitoring… It has received over 10,000 views already. It is a MUST READ for all birth activists and is available HERE for free.

ProCreate – showcasing artist mothers

The Placenta Effect

Image: ProCreate Project.   Creative Direction: Dyana Gravina.   Photography: Digpal Singh Rathore.   

I get approached by a lot of women, with a lot of exciting projects, not all of which I can get involved with.

ProCreate jumped out of my inbox at me.

As a creative mother, who has written a #1 Amazon bestseller for creative mothers – The Rainbow Way: cultivating creativity in the midst of motherhood… I was SOOOO excited to find out about this project, from Dyana Gravina, an Italian artist and entrepreneur currently based in London.

ProCreate Project is a collaborative medium for female artists that aims to support and
produce artist’s works during pregnancy and beyond. My dream is to make Procreate project become an agency dedicated to women, artists. I would like to be able to showcase through a vast range of activities their work, create and produce for and with them new pieces of art
using what for me is a generative force, pregnancy and the wonder of motherhood!

I asked her to share a bit more about her story with us…

After the 5th month of pregnancy my body underwent enormous changes: my belly grew bigger and as my physical transformation became more apparent, that force inside of me also grew stronger and more physical.

I was being influenced by that wondrous little creature that was generating a creative rush like I had never felt before, inspiring me to become even more driven and persevering.

I was in full bloom. I wanted to drown myself in the ocean of creative ideas crossing my mind; start painting and playing music again. So one night, before falling asleep, I suddenly pictured the logo in my mind’s eye: a light bulb and a foetus…and I would call it ProCreate.

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Just like that it came to me. At first I thought it was the beginning of an event; I was not sure what I was creating it for, and I was alone when I started this journey. But now I have travel companions and I am building up my company, and it is all thanks to this creative process that I experienced in my life…when I least expected it!

I struggled to find a community where other female artists could express this creative feeling or, indeed, any medium that talked about the connection between creativity and pregnancy. I wondered whether I might be going crazy; was I really the only woman on earth to be feeling this way?

So I started advertising online for other female artists who may relate to me and my newfound passion and it was not long before responses started to pour in.

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Image: Polly Penrose, 7 Years of Self Portrait, A BODY OF WORK – contributor to ProCreate Project.

By sharing my story with other artists I finally realized that what I felt was real. After a long period of solitude, I felt I had found something beyond my initial expectations: the friendships I have formed with all these women, and the stories I have heard from other females are simply amazing. I am not saying that every woman feels or should feel as we do, but there are many that do and I truly believe it is important to empower and support that – and them. This journey helped me rearrange my priorities and find out what really mattered to me.

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Image: Dyana Gravina.

There are women who have created incredible art and worked more passionately during pregnancy, and we definitely need to encourage this and make it possible in any way we can.

Procreate Project aims to become an agency with the determination to showcase and produce artistic creations with and for creative mothers / to-be. We work alongside the creative compulsion of mothers (to-be) who are feeling or have experienced this power, in order for them to advance productively and connect them with the forefront of creative business, correlating them with relevant movements, scenes and diverse niche groups in society.

We have just launched MAMA – mothers are making art, in collaboration with The Museum of Motherhood of NYC. For more see: http://mommuseum.org/2015/05/31/m-a-m-a-the-art-of-motherhood-click
And http://www.procreateproject.uk/mama-international/

11018575_10152696878966616_2271151057474561475_nMy book, The Rainbow Way: Cultivating Creativity in the Midst of Motherhood, and some of my art will also be included.

You can see more of Dyana’s project, and learn how to get involved at her stunning website: www.procreateproject.com – all images on this post come from her site, with permission.

 

Struggling to Conceive?

Struggling to Conceive? Learn How Fertility Tests May Help

Although 85% of women are happily pregnant within a year of trying for a baby, for other couples it takes far longer than this to conceive. If you have not managed to conceive within a year of trying or within 6 months if you are over 35, you may decide to undergo fertility tests to see whether there is a particular reason you are struggling to become pregnant. Making this decision then allows you to get access to the necessary treatment, which may include assisted fertilisation.

Tests to diagnose possible infertility

As it’s possible for both men and women to have problems with infertility, it is wise that you both take part in fertility testing. For women the first step is usually a blood test to measures levels of your hormones that control ovulation, as this can assess whether you ovulate, which is essential if fertilisation is to take place. Your family doctor will usually carry out this test and at the same time check for levels of other hormones that control reproduction, such as those produced by your thyroid and pituitary gland. Your partner may also be asked for a semen sample, as analysis of this shows whether his sperm are in good health. If the results of these tests show that you are not ovulating or semen analysis highlights a problem with your partner’s sperm, you will usually need to see a fertility specialist, though if either of you have a history of STDs, pelvic or urogenital surgery, these are also indicators that you need more specialist advice.

Although your specialist will decide on the most appropriate fertility tests given your own circumstances, they may decide that an ultrasound scan to check your uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries is advisable. This can find conditions such as pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome, all of which affect fertility and are treatable. However, your doctor may need a more detailed inspection of your reproductive organs, in which case they will arrange a hysterosalpingography (a specialist X-ray) or a laparoscopy (a form of non-invasive surgery) to take a closer look. If these tests show any irregularities, your specialist will advise on the surgical procedures available. Your doctor may also recommend that your partner has a scrotal or rectal ultrasound to rule out any obstructions or other problems with your partner’s tubes.

Rarely a genetic condition may explain the cause of your infertility, so if other tests do not show any reason for your difficulty conceiving, your specialist may offer genetic testing to you both. However, you should bear in mind that with each further test you have, this will often increase the size of the bill you receive from your fertility clinic.

Undergoing fertility treatment

The results of your fertility tests will decide the most suitable treatment option for you, but these broadly fall under taking fertility medication to induce ovulation, undergoing a surgical procedure to correct a blockage or another structural problem, or starting assisted conception. If assisted conception is advised, IVF is the not the only option available to you, and your specialist will discuss the range of procedures available to aid conception, though the cost of these varies, which you may need to take into account. Whichever option you choose, your doctor will probably tell you not to give up on any lifestyle changes that you have already made to enhance fertility, as these may also increase the effectiveness of assisted reproductive treatments. For instance, research shows that losing excess weight, eating a well-balanced diet, taking regular exercise, managing stress and reducing caffeine and alcohol intake may all increase the chance of a successful pregnancy following treatment.

If you are keen to explore complementary therapies that may enhance the effectiveness of fertility treatment, acupuncture shows promise for increasing the rate of pregnancy and live births. Research also indicates that yoga boosts mental wellness among women before they receive IVF, which theoretically may improve the outcome of your treatment.

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Laura Wright worked in nutritional science and health provision before turning to writing for a new career. Now she combined ghost writing for a wide range of businesses and organizations with spreading the word about a number of health guides she’s personally invested in. When not writing, she likes spending time with her family and going for long hikes.

Light at the End of the Tunnel: Pregnancy and Depression

Today’s post comes from Laura Wright and is on a topic close to my heart. I struggled with depression during one of my pregnancies and after two. Please do also see my articles on pregnancy/ post partum depression in the free resources section, here.

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Last year, someone very close to me became deeply depressed while pregnant. In fact, it was my little sister. After coaxing her through this tough time with the help of her wonderful partner and the rest of our family, it got me thinking about what advice or information to give prospective mothers who feel depressed during this time.

I am aware just how lonely and isolated women can feel when the world expects them to be blooming. While I have two wonderful daughters of my own, my experience of depression had been purely academic until my sister’s experience last year. Now, I feel called to write more on this deeply personal topic, so that women who find themselves in this situation can find the support and resources to help them, and to know that they are not alone in this and that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Exploring the Treatments Available to Treat Depression in Pregnancy

While a diagnosis of depression during pregnancy is usually a shock, you are not alone; as many as a fifth of pregnant women suffer from low mood. It’s also important to remember that your diagnosis means that you will receive treatment, which won’t just protect your well-being, but also that of your developing baby.

Receiving treatment

Your doctor will advise on the treatments available to you, which will depend upon the severity of your depression and other factors in your medical history. In cases of more severe depression, they may suggest antidepressants as an option. However, as some of these drugs may pose a risk to your unborn child, they are usually not recommended in cases of milder depression, as the benefits are not sufficient to outweigh the risks. There is still plenty of help available though, as a range of treatments are effective when low mood is mild to moderate. These therapies can also be used in conjunction with antidepressants to enhance the outcome. Here we give an overview of some of the alternative treatments for mood disorders available to pregnant women.

  • Taking regular exercise during pregnancy is recommended to keep up your fitness to prepare you for delivery. However, keeping physically active is also beneficial for your mood when expecting, as it triggers a number of positive changes within your body that promote feelings of well-being. Exercise such as brisk walking, low-impact aerobics, swimming and yoga are all good activities, but check with your doctor about other suitable forms of exercise.
  • Psychotherapy can take the form of one-to-one counselling, where you may receive help you to build on your relationships or to change negative thought patterns. However, support groups designed to help people with depression may also be useful if you are comfortable participating in group activities.
  • The complementary therapy of acupuncture is an additional option to ease the symptoms of depression, as certain pressure points relieve feelings of low mood. Indeed, research has shown that this is a suitable option in pregnancy.

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Laura Wright worked in nutritional science and health provision before turning to writing for a new career. Now she combined ghost writing for a wide range of businesses and organizations with spreading the word about a number of health guides she’s personally invested in. When not writing, she likes spending time with her family and going for long hikes.

Guest Post: Miscarriage as a Rite of Passage

At the time of writing, it is exactly 2 months to the day that I gave birth to my stillborn son. Perfectly formed, yet utterly helpless at just 21 1/2 weeks’ gestation. Even writing those words now brings the emotion of the whole event welling back up, but I am glad to say that it is a only a feeling of healing that washes over me with the tears. There is no blackness to my memory of that day and of the weeks that followed, no dread or fear or trauma.

Even before I ever thought of having children myself, I could not mentally compute how a woman could survive the ‘horrors’ of pregnancy/childbirth followed by an emptiness – nothing to hold and nurture, nothing to show for all of the effort, all the months of expectancy. Why would you not just fall apart completely with the grief, the torture? How could you be expected to go on living life as normal afterwards?

My son’s birth was neither one thing or the other in medical terms: too late to be deemed a ‘regular’ miscarriage; too early to be ‘viable’ as a living, breathing human baby boy. In my mind, this was absolutely the worst part. To me, he was my baby, and he was absolutely healthy and perfect – yet the matter of a few weeks meant he just wasn’t ready for the world either biologically or bureaucratically. If he had just held on for 3 more weeks, all might have been very different. Equally, if it had happened earlier, I may not even have noticed him slipping away and it would have been sad, yet understandable – it is thought that about 1 in 7 known pregnancies end in miscarriage, and 8 out of 10 of those happen during the first 13 weeks.

Technically, our son was a “late miscarriage”. On our postnatal notes the midwives have recorded his birth as “stillborn”. Both terms are correct, but having spent the day giving birth to him, I feel that the midwives’ description does more justice to the event as well as the perfect little creature who arrived. We got to meet him, to say hello and goodbye at the same time. And I had all the usual postnatal recovery to go through, including milky boobs and uterine contractions. Still, it was a miscarriage, and like every woman who goes through this, my heart and head could only keep coming back to the same bewildered question: WHY?

In my case, nobody had the answer. I was ultra low-risk, had just had a very healthy looking 20-week scan, and everything looked great and bang on track. If I’d been a smoker or a drinker; if I’d been overweight or had a particularly unhealthy diet, the authorities may have pinned those down as possible factors. But no, one morning I woke up and my placenta had detached itself. Baby had died probably during the night as a result. End of story.

And this is what makes us animals. This is what takes us back to our roots. Because, hard as we find the truth to swallow, we are not infallible. Humans, like any animal, simply don’t always function to perfection, for whatever reason. Miscarriage is one of those things that just happens sometimes. Having a cerebral cortex and living in a world with the incredible capabilities of medical science cannot alter that fact.

That is why there is no doubt in my mind that any woman – and indeed any family – who goes through a miscarriage should see it as a rite of passage. The more that miscarriage is seen as horrific, as something which somehow could have been preventable, and is therefore blamed on the woman’s health, fitness or diet, the more we are denying ourselves as fallible animals. We are making women responsible somehow for these acts of nature. We are instilling guilt and fear, layer upon layer. The result is a woman, and by extension her family, who no longer trusts her body to do what is right. It must be faulty – it miscarried. Her body was not healthy enough, not experienced enough or somehow not adequately formed to be able to carry the pregnancy to full term.

This is not a healthy attitude to have, and can only result in more negative birth outcomes. One of the reasons I do not have a black tinge around my memories of my son’s birth is that, through it all, I trusted in my body. I did what I could, and although I couldn’t understand WHY it had happened, I came to accept that this time was just not meant to be. I am an animal, and I am fallible. This time I fell into the statistics of 1 in 7 pregnancies failing. There’s really no more to it – no guilt, no shame, no fear for future pregnancies; it’s just not appropriate.

Having gone through this whole process I now feel more of a woman. Yes, really. Not only have I experienced the horror myself, but I have had countless other women suddenly willing to share their own story with me. In a sad way I feel as if I have entered a secret club, something taboo and a bit shameful. I’m not really sure why nobody wants to discuss miscarriage, when it affects so many of us. If it were accepted as a rite of passage for any woman, as much as childbirth itself, I feel we’d all have a more positive outlook on all births, whatever the outcome.

 Zoë Foster is a yoga teacher and real food ambassador, following her dreams in South Devon with her husband and two small children. Read more about her exploits, experiments and adventures at www.rawyogauk.com and giveanearthly.blogspot.co.uk, or find her on Facebook and Twitter under RawYogaUK.