The Final Weeks!
Your Birth Journey is about to Begin
By Tanya Goreing RRPr, Doula, Educator
As a Maternity Reflexologist and Doula, I work with many women in their final weeks and days of pregnancy to help prepare naturally for the beginning of their birth journey. What I have found by working with these women is that there is a lot of misinformation out there that leads to women feeling fear, anxiety, and having mal-positioned babies. All of this causes longer labours, more interventions and mistrust of the mom’s instincts.
I work hard to re-educate women in these final weeks and help them to work with their body to prepare for a happy, positive birthing experience. I encourage each woman not to focus on *the* date, but on the subtle changes she sees her body. I empower her to understand that every “sign” of impending labour is another step in the right direction and each of those signs is an important step closer to the birthing time. Every step made before the birthing time is a step that doesn’t have to happen once labour begins. That equates to shorter labours and less interventions which = positive birthing experiences.
As much as I tell people to be patient and trust, we are a society of “doing”! And this is a good thing when it comes to birth because we need to be active participants in our own birthing experiences. We need to listen to our body, move as it requires us to move, stop when it needs rest and learn to trust our natural instincts. And the final weeks of our pregnancy is a time to DO. Why? Well think of birth like a marathon. If you were about to run a marathon, would you wake up the morning of the marathon and jump out of bed ready to do your best?Or would you train and practice in the months, weeks and days leading up to the big day? Likely you would want to prepare for the event physically and emotionally. Birth is the same. It is a physically taxing experience that is emotionally charged. You will be pushing your body and mind to their limits. Therefore, you should take time in the final weeks and days to prepare for the experience.
Below is a list of things that a woman can do in the final weeks or days leading to her birthing time. This list is not exclusive, nor is it to be in exchange of recommendations given by medical practitioners such as mid-wives and obstetricians. Every body, every baby and every situation is different. You may find that some of these suggestions are not practical for you, and you may add other thoughts that seem like the best for your situation. Use this list as a guide.
3rd Trimester Suggestions
Red Raspberry Leaf tea – this will help to strengthen the uterine muscles for more effective contractions when they to begin. Some women are not recommended to do this. Speak to your medical practitioner to ensure you are not an at risk candidate.
Prenatal Yoga Stretches – gently stretching your body, especially if you sit for long periods of time through the day, is a great way to help prepare your body for the physical demands required of it during your birthing time. Find a class in your area or search for a DVD or online resource that is specially designed for pregnancy. You can also check out the book: Active Birth by Janet Balaskas
Sitting on an exercise ball – push your couch or computer chair aside and bring on your birth ball!! Sitting on a ball will help you stay in an upright position which means baby is encouraged to be in an optimal birthing position. Each and every time you lay back, even on a semi-recline, your baby is able to turn into a posterior position (spine to your spine) and this will cause back pain, hip pain and back labour once your birthing time begins. To help ensure your couch doesn’t call to you, have the exercise ball in the same room as your tv or near your computer, wherever you spend your leisure time. Not only will gravity be on your side, but the ball will help you to keep your pelvis open and if you decide to do hip circles (which I highly recommend!), you will be releasing any tension held in your lower back and hip area. And the ball will be your friend in labour as well.
Stay active – unless there is a reason you are on bed rest, staying active through walking and stretching are still necessary (although strenuous cardiovascular activity may not be recommended for your situation. Check with your health practitioner to confirm) even though you may be feeling like the goodyear blimp. Women in history were active in the household activities throughout their pregnancy and this included chasing toddlers, gardening, cooking, hands and knees floor mopping, etc. and they had less medical interventions in birth. Remember that the next time you are tempted to go put your feet up.
Final weeks (36 – birth) suggestions
Continue doing all of the above and also add:
Dance – Let’s get this party started!! Remember the days at the high school dance or the clubs when you had no inhibitions and didn’t care who was watching you shake your booty? Get back there by putting on your favorite “get moving” tunes and have a dance party in your kitchen or living room (even the bedroom – see oxytocin below)! Dancing releases feel good endorphins that are necessary for birth. The movements are also great for keeping your hips loose and open, and encouraging baby to be in an ideal birthing position. If you are more into formal group sessions, check your local area for Dancing for Birth TM classes.
Hydrate – again thinking about the marathon, do the athletes do it without being fully hydrated? Nope! Your core body temperature is elevated during pregnancy which can lead to sweating, thereby a loss of essential bodily fluids. During the birthing time this is heightened even more! As well, increased fluids will help keep your bowels moving regularly and this is good for making sure baby has lots of room to move into a good birth position. So do yourself a favor and remember to drink lots of water. (If you don’t love the thought of drinking water, you can naturally flavor your water with fresh fruits). Other sources of fluids can be used as well.
Reflexology – although reflexology by a trained professional can be safe and effective to help with many issues throughout pregnancy, as a certified maternity reflexologist I have seen first-hand the benefits of a series of treatments in those final weeks as you prepare for birth. Could you use a better quality of sleep in those final weeks to prepare for your birth marathon? How about hormone balance? All of this and so much more is available by receiving this amazing “foot massage”! I suggest finding a local reflexologist who has been trained to work with maternity clients, or who have experience working with this population.
Chiropractic – through pregnancy your body is rapidly changing. Similar to reflexology, chiropractic care all throughout pregnancy can be helpful for easing back and hip pain and restoring balance, but in the final weeks it will help to keep your hips and pelvis in proper alignment which helps your baby get into, and stay, in an optimal birthing position.
Staying upright and using gravity – anything you can do in the final weeks to stay off your back and maintaining an upright position is best! Do the dishes instead of letting the dishwasher do it, go for a walk, gentle lunges and squats. Even sleeping on a slight incline can be beneficial.
Perineal Massage and Kegels – these activities, when done properly, will help prepare and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. This in turns is a great help during the pushing phase of birth to help ensure there isn’t any tearing or you don’t require an episiotomy. Well prepared pelvic muscles will also help your body birth your baby with less effort on your part.
Final days suggestions
Oxytocin – also known as “the love hormone”, this is the hormone released from your pituitary gland that begins contractions. It is necessary for bonding with baby as well. To help it be in full flow and ready for contractions to begin, you can do activities such as cuddling with partner, watching a romantic movie or reading a romance novel, nipple stimulation, looking at pictures of your wedding day or other loving events.
Bathroom breaks – because you are still remembering to stay well-hydrated, you will want to make sure you take the time each hour to use the bathroom. Even if you feel like you don’t have to go, the motion will help your brain and body get into an “elimination” mode, keep bladder empty so baby has room to move and open your pelvis.
Laugh, Have Fun, Relax – again you want happy endorphins flowing and to keep your body loose and open. The best way to do that is to release fears and anxiety and embrace positive thoughts, positive moves and be joyful. Remove anything from your life in those final days that are causing you stress (even if that means well intentioned friends or family who are calling to say “have you had the baby yet”). Watch funny shows or movies, find the joy in each new day as it brings you closer to holding your new baby!
What other ways can you think of that will help you prepare both emotionally and physically for your birthing time? We would love to add your thoughts to our list!
Your author, Tanya, is a mom, health care practitioner, doula and educator. Her clinical practice Soul Treatments, which specializes in the health of women and children, is in Cambridge ON Canada.
See that sweet little guy? This week he was one of my clients as I specialize in maternity and infant/child reflexology.
I couldn't wait to come home and tell you all about him because "Mr Smiley" was a total picture perfect client. If I was to do a treatment on an infant who just let me do the treatment, it takes about 10 - 15 minutes. Usually, however, infant clients take double that. This is normal and totally understandable. I am a stranger, they might be hungry, the treatment can work really fast so we might need a diaper change, they have short attention spans, the ideal time to do the treatment is during active alert and we can't always be sure when that will be - the list goes on! Let's just say that I book an hour for an infant treatment, and even then know that I might have to go over.
So why does all this matter? Because the adorable little man I had the pleasure of treating this week is 10 months old so he is happy to sit during the treatment. He decided my in home treatment supply bag and some of it's contents were the most fascinating things of all time and he happily played with it while I did his treatment. 10 minutes, no fuss, no concerns, all smiles :)
That's a good way to start your work day!! Could it be that he's already comfortable with me having heard my voice in-utero as I worked on his mom to help her prepare for a happy birth? Could it be that him and mom attended my infant massage class and because she's practiced he's used to healthy touch? Maybe. My guess is that his mom is pretty awesome and he is a happy, content baby. Thank you Baby M and Mama K for being the great people you are!
Soul Treatments Wellness Center welcomes Carey Lynne Hargrove, Registered Massage Therapist!!
Carey Lynne graduated in 2005 from Canadian College of Massage and Hydrotherapy and specializes in Deep Tissue, Trigger Point Therapy, Prenatal Massage and Injury Management utilizing her General Swedish Massage Therapy skills. She is passionate about what she does and is results based, catering each treatment to fit your individual needs.
Carey Lynne is a mother of two, and can relate to the physiological stressors and changes that a woman's body goes through with pregnancy. She has enjoyed focused treatments taking a woman through the pregnancy and providing relief as their body adapts to parenthood. She enjoys infant and child massage as well and encourages parents to bond with their children through healthy touch.
We are thrilled to have Carey Lynne on our team and look forward to our clients benefiting from the services she provides.
Tanya Goreing RRPr of Soul Treatments Wellness Center is conducting clinical trials!
We would like to learn more about the effects regular reflexology treatments have on the conditions listed below. If you, or someone you know, suffers from any of the conditions and would like to see how all natural, alternative health care can offer improvement, please contact Tanya Goreing of Soul Treatments at 519-220-2887 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Reflexology is an ancient healing art that could be seen as a modern day “foot massage”. These safe, natural techniques work on the principle that all the body parts –organs, tissues, glands, etc – are connected through the reflex points in our hands and feet. While reflexology does not claim to prescribe or diagnose specific conditions, the reduction in stress, relief of tension, improved blood circulation and continuous work with the nervous system have shown positive benefits in a variety of conditions based on the body’s improved ability to help itself.
We are looking candidates to conduct 3 clinical trials. If you meet any of the following criteria, please contact us!
----> Woman aged 18 – 45 suffering from PMS symptoms including (but not limited to) unusually heavy or painful cycles, irregular cycles and mood swings.
----> Woman aged 45 + experiences symptoms of menopause or perimenopause including (but not limited to) hot flashes, irregular or non-existant cycles, night sweats and mood swings.
----> Children who have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
Qualified participants must be able to demonstrate their commitment to the study by agreeing to:
* Time Commitment – Participant must have the available time to receive up to 20 full reflexology treatments (30 min – 1 hour each depending on the participant) spaced anywhere from weekly to monthly, based on the needs and specific health condition of the participant during the posted hours of operation at Soul Treatments.
* Financial Commitment – Treatments will be offered at the reduced rate of $25 per treatment (regular $65 Adult, $40 Child).
* Location Commitment – Without exception, all treatments will be given at the Cambridge clinic location of Soul Treatments.
* Health Disclosure Commitment – Confidentiality is very important at Soul Treatments and your private/personal information will never be shared. However, it is important for the practitioner to be knowledgeable of your complete health history and full disclosure is a necessary requirement of the study.
* Results Commitment – Participants must understand that while their personal results will never be shared, the results of the overall study may be used in future marketing and promotion of alternative health care benefits.
Dancing For Birth ™ classes come to Cambridge!!
Women learn movements designed to encourage intuitive “vertical birth.”
A moratorium has been declared on the back-lying, lithotomy position of birthing by Stephanie Larson, DFB, CD(DONA), CBE, BFA, Founder of Dancing For Birth™, whose vision is for women world-wide to have the enjoyment of dancing their babies into the world. Currently, the classes are offered on four continents. Larson says women can learn how to harness gravity and move their bodies during labor for more satisfying births. She was named USA's National Birth Hero 2011. Cambridge resident, Tanya Goreing, was in attendance at the Dancing For Birth ™ Instructor Training workshop held in Pittsburgh, PA this April, where she learned how to Energize, Enlighten and Empower ™ women in the childbearing years. She has now earned her Dancing For Birth™ Instructor Certification (DFB) and is forming classes for pregnant and postpartum women and their newborns right here in Cambridge. Tanya is a Maternity and Child Reflexologist, Doula and Instructor, and feels Dancing For Birth™ classes will be an important addition to her offerings for pregnant and postpartum women.
“Women’s bodies are not designed for birthing on our backs, which prevents the pelvis from opening fully and gravity from helping the birth process” says Larson, who feels that the norms (such as back-lying) and routine interventions which characterize many hospital births are not evidence-based and are hindering instead of helping birthing women. “We are mammals after all. Can you imagine trying to coax an elephant to give birth on her back with her legs up in the air? Our maternal instincts tell us to move during labor and plant our feet on the floor when it’s time to push.” One way to improve women’s birth experiences is to shift the paradigm from horizontal to vertical birth positions. In fact, a recent study, "Maternal Positions and Mobility During First Stage Labour" by Lawrence et al finds that women who are vertical during birth shorten their labors and request fewer epidurals.
Dancing For Birth™ prenatal/postpartum classes teach a “language of movement” specially designed for pregnant women and postpartum women wearing their babies in soft slings or front packs. Though the movements are inspired by ancient dance forms (like Belly dance and African dance) the 90-minute weekly classes, which combine dance fitness with little-known childbirth preparation skills such as optimal fetal positioning, are the wave of the future of birth and resonate with women. “Modern day women want to celebrate birth and be transformed by it!” says Larson. “They have innate wisdom of how to give birth with ease and lovingly mother their children, and Dancing For Birth ™ classes help awaken their abilities.” Women often come to class simply for fun and fitness, and find that they gain more than they expected to. “This class was fun and informative. I love dancing and I was excited to learn a how to incorporate it into this whole pregnancy and birth experience. I gained great moves to help me feel good, and birthing positions and knowledge of what I can do to help me through labor”, said Melanie Eng, pregnant with her first child.
Tanya says “Pregnant woman and their partners are searching for ways they can achieve more positive birthing experiences. Moving through your labour and birth, and making it a pleasurable experience by dancing, is a great way to provide that."
On Thursday June 20th at 6:30pm, Tanya will be offering a free demonstration class at her center that is open to all pregnant and postpartum women. You can register for this class here! Following that, the community can expect weekly Dancing For Birth™ classes at Soul Treatments Wellness Center, which specializes in the unique Pregnancy to Parenthood needs in the Waterloo Region alongside her partners Tania Heinemann of Yellowood Nutrition and Wellness, Andrea Ryan of Oh Baby Fitness and Isabel Griffith Chiropractor at Soul Treatments Wellness Center, located at 426 Queen St. W. Cambridge (H). Dancing For Birth™ classes were originated by founder, Stephanie Larson, a dancer, certified birth doula, childbirth educator, perinatal fitness expert and mother of four. For more information or for an interview with founder Stephanie Larson please visit www.DancingForBirth.com call 314-469-9118. For an interview with local instructor Tanya Goreing please call 519-221-0155.
When I first completed my certification to become a reflexologist, I worked at an amazing clinic with some great colleagues for a few months. It was a crazy time for me and after a few months I realized that as much as I loved the team I was with, it would be easier for me to work from my home. My son was still young and it was hard to miss bedtime snuggles.
But that was 5 years ago!!!
Today, my son isn't so little anymore, and our home isn't so big ;) So it was time to take the next step and find a home away from home for Soul Treatments.
I am so excited to be partnering with Oh Baby Fitness to open a center focused on the family health needs of our community!! Our new space will offer pre/postnatal fitness, nutritional support, maternity and child reflexology, massage and chiropractic services, breastfeeding support and informational workshops. As a one stop shop for growing families we will offer child minding services and work hard to have a variety of programs running each day to cater to the unique needs of our pregnant clients and new parents as well as their children.
You can visit us starting October 1st, 2012 at 426 Queen St. W in Cambridge. We are 2 minutes from the 401 and easily accessible from Cambridge, Guelph, Kitchener or Waterloo as well as surrounding areas.
I look forward to seeing you there!
Tanya Goreing is the proud mother of one boy and the owner of Soul Treatments. The natural health of woman and children is her passion!