We live in an age of awesome technological advancement that I have no idea how I was surprised when I read about the virtual birthing simulator that scientists at the University of East Anglia are currently developing. It really did blow my mind – possible because, as mum of two, I know how unpredictable the birth experience can be!
The tool is brilliant – basically, the simulator (the first of its kind) considers mum-to-be’s body shape and pelvis size as well as the shape and position of the baby and inserts the information into a virtual tool that creates a model of said mum’s body, enabling simulation of labour – how the birth will happen.
Birth simulation in hospitals is not new (apparently it’s being doing down since the 1800s) but models are based on known scenarios; the new model can simulate the unpredictable because it is patient specific, considering the factors unique to each labour.
What’s the point? – You may ask.
Well; the virtual birth simulator is a way that doctors and midwives can prepare or difficult or unusual births – it could help decide whether a baby should be delivered naturally or by caesarean, or at least help doctors be at the ready if there is a strong likelihood that a caesarean will be necessary.
The tool is not yet perfect; it only simulates three of the possible seven movements made by the baby and doesn’t include movements of the perineal muscles of the mother’s pelvis but undoubtedly scientists will work it all out.
If you’ve decided on a drug-free labour but still wouldn’t mind a little pain relief, a TENS Machine is a good option.
What is a TENS Machine? TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator (TENS machine). The device looks like a TV remote control cum cellular phone, to which (usually four) electrode pads are attached. These pads are placed on your back during labour.
TENS relieves pain by having a direct effect on the pathway the pain is taking into the central nervous system. By delivering small electrical pulses to the body via electrodes, it reduces the sensitivity of the cells which transmit the pain onwards up towards the brain.
You can manage the intensity of these electrical pulses with the TENS control.
TENS Machines are used for all kinds of pain but there are TENS devices designed specifically for women in labour – a ‘maternity TENS Machine’.
First off, what is a Doula? I won’t assume you’re all knowing because I certainly wasn’t – I had never heard of such a thing until I was pregnant and a friend told me about her Doula mum.
So, in simple terms, a Doula is a birth coach; a non-medical labour assistant who provides support for a woman by encouraging her and explaining what’s going on in the delivery room.
My husband was my unofficial Doula, and he was totally awesome. Here’s a little FYI: Doula comes from a Greek word meaning ‘female servant or slave.’ My fabulous man certainly slaved to my every need and I love him all the more for it.
But back to business; why consider a professional Doula?
A recent survey carried out by Doula UK revealed that births with Doula support have more chance of successful breastfeeding and a lower chance of intervention during labour.
* 93 per cent of women interviewed attempted to breastfeed, with 70 per cent still exclusively breastfeeding after six weeks. (Compared to the latest stats from the Department of Health, where 74.1 per cent of new mums attempt breastfeeding with only 47 per cent still exclusively breastfeeding at six weeks.)
The theory is that women who use upright birth positions (walking, sitting, standing or kneeling) during labour may shorten their delivery time by as much as an hour. Lynn Goodman, spokesperson for British Doulas, says that staying upright and moving the hips helps ease the baby’s head towards the birth canal.
Sounds logical to me.
That said; each birth experience is different and women should be encouraged to do what is most comfortable for them. There are a number of birth positions that can be adopted:
1. The Slow Dance – exactly as the name suggests (think high school disco): stand facing your birth partner, put your arms around his shoulders and neck, resting your head on his chest. He’ll support you by placing his arms around you and clasping his hands behind your back. Best at the ‘active stage’ (initial stage).
2. The Crab – (I laughed out loud when I read this birth position!) Kneel down on all fours, keeping your legs open. Use a birthing ball or lean on a chair for extra support. Best at the ‘transitional stage’.
3. The Rock ‘n’ Roll – Sit on a birthing ball with your feet a comfortable distance apart and flat on the floor. Placing your hands on your knees will offer extra support. Best at the ‘transitional stage’.
4. The Lap Dance – With your birth partner sitting on a chair, rest your head on his lap whilst kneeling on cushions with your legs open. Best at the ‘transitional stage’.
5. The Frog – The most common delivery birth position: sit on the bed with your back against the bedhead, bringing your knees up. Best for delivery.
Birth, and the mere thought thereof, can be utterly overwhelming.
When I was pregnant, I decided that living in ‘Pleasantville’ until the day my water broke was the best option. I attended one antenatal class, at the last moment, and it got me through 12 hours of labour and a pretty straightforward delivery. But I am not the best example! Not at all! Learn as much as you can mums-to-be…
… and to help; there is a new antenatal iPhone app! How cool is that!?
Lazy Daisy, the UK’s fastest growing Active Birth and antenatal class programme, has launched an antenatal iPhone app to help educate mums on the go.
The antenatal iPhone app has been designed to guide expectant mums through a toolkit of techniques to support pregnancy and birth. The antenatal class app explains pregnancy and birth visually (with top tips for each trimester), auditorially (through guided relaxations to boost birth confidence) and practically (with virtual labour practise designed to help mums embrace the sensations of labour.