Am I walking too much?

“If I walk too much, will I give birth to a premature baby?”
“Am I having backaches and pelvic pain because I walked too much?”


Walking with the family is a great way to de-stress

Someone told me she was worried about giving birth prematurely if she walked too much. I asked if she has had issues in her pregnancy so far, and she said no. Then I said, in that case walking is good for you and baby, so please walk more!

These questions are valid concerns and I’m glad these mums-to-be asked me for clarification rather than prescribing themselves more bed rest. Bed rest means less physical activity and less physical activity means more potential problems during labour. So less time on the bed/sofa and more time on your feet is one tip to help ease your labour.

Why is walking good for you? Here are 5 reasons:

  1. More opportunities of being outdoors with fresh air and vitamin D from the sun. Walking produces endorphins, or good feelings from your happy hormones.
  2. Walking is one of the best cardiovascular exercises during pregnancy. It is gentle and does not require equipment other than a good pair of shoes (no heels please!). It keeps your heart pumping and lifts your mood at the same time.
  3. You make your muscles, especially the psoas and the piriformis, work and condition them for labour.
  4. Being upright (gravity) helps get baby deeper down into the birth canal.
  5. It’s free!

So do I have to worry about a premature birth?

Unless you have other underlying medical issues, there is nothing to worry about, InshaAllah! You see, many factors come into play before labour can start. Firstly, baby must be in a good position, and is low or close enough to the cervix. Secondly, baby himself must be ready, and their lungs will secrete a protein to signal onset of labour. Thirdly, the cervix must be effaced (soft and thin) and dilated (open) to allow baby to pass through the birth canal. Fourthly (but not lastly), mum herself has to be in a ready state of mind. So don’t worry about giving birth too soon before baby or mum is ready, walk lots to have a smoother labour when it eventually starts at its own time.

But I feel that walking too much will cause me to have backaches…how?

Walking won’t cause you to have backaches, in fact mobility actually helps to alleviate aches and pains. If you’re feeling like walking causes you to have more pain, check:

  • if footwear is causing the problem (please invest in good footwear!)
  • if posture is good (chest out, belly out, shoulders not hunching and tuck your tailbone in)
  • are you drinking enough? Dehydration could be a major cause for muscle aches
  • do you have symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD)? (If yes, then there are strategies to help give relief)

Many degrees of walking

Of course, what kind of walking is best? Window shopping constitutes walking too, but is that helpful for labour? (Ans: Yes, but not much). The most helpful kinds of walks are those that encourage the pelvis to really move and open. Power walking is one example. Walking uphill or on a terrain is also good. And how much walking should be done?  Ideally you should walk as much as you sit. So if you spend 8 hours sitting in the office chair, it is good if you can also cover 8 hours of walking, though this sounds unlikely achievable.  But that is a rough measure of how much walking should be incorporated daily.

At the end of the day, you should be happy with the things that you hope to do. Start with a positive and open mind. Never do things feeling resentful which will end with you in tears and stress. Pregnancy should be a happy and worry-free period! Take a break and tune in to your body if you ever start feeling out of touch. Listen to what your body needs.

May you always be in Allah’s care!



The Birth of Ahmad Ali


Syariati and her son, Ahmad Ali


I have known this beautiful lady since we were children tagging along our parents to religious/arabic class. She was fondly known as ‘Sherry’ then. We lost touch after that, till 2013 when Allah chanced for us to be yoga-mates at Kak Ella’s prenatal class. We immediately clicked again and the rest is history. This lovely lady has a special interest in essential oils for kids and is now training to become a doula, InshaAllah. I am truly excited for her! Read her gentle birth story below – Nur Hanani

Pregnancy, Labour and Birth of Ahmad Ali.

Every time I recall this birth story, I feel so much love, so blessed, so full of happiness. It was an empowering and humbling experience. I really felt Allah was with me through my labour and birth. It was beautiful.

Ahmad was not a planned baby. He was gifted when we least expected it. I had planned to space out my pregnancies (3-4yrs) after my first child. It took me a while to embrace the fact that I was pregnant but I eventually did. My husband and I decided that we would wait to go for a prenatal checkup at the hospital. I was fine and didn’t have any morning sickness whatsoever.

At week 12 into my pregnancy, I experienced bleeding. We decided to get a slot with Dr Citra (NUH). I called her office and managed to speak to her. She advised me to go to A&E to make sure that baby was ok. Alhamdulillah, that same week, we went to get checked and everything was ok, I had a polyp that might have caused the bleeding. It was harmless. We proceeded with routine checks with Dr Citra and discovered that she was friendly, supportive and open to discussions. She was ok with me having a birth plan and each visit was pleasant.

A little later into the pregnancy, my husband and I decided to go for a birthing class with a doula. we focused and I had a clearer image of what my birth should be, how I wanted it. This time, I did not want any interventions at all. I wanted to let baby come at his own time. I would wait it out.

The birthplan was done and submitted with minimal editing. The only thing Dr Citra negotiated with us was to have another plan of action in case I didn’t deliver by 41wks 3 days. It was hospital policy. I agreed.

I continued yoga, eating reasonably well and waited. 40 weeks came and baby didn’t show, there were on and off contractions that went away with rest or sleep. I was getting impatient but did not want to be induced. I asked baby to come out into the world. 41 weeks came, I had skipped my checks. I became more impatient because I just wanted to birth with my Dr before she went on a holiday. I also did not wish to go against her advice of exceeding the 41wks 3 days. I prayed and realised that I was being selfish. I wanted a natural, intervention free birth, yet I was expecting to give birth by a certain time. I did lunges, squats, more yoga, dance, sex, bouncing on the birthing ball and even JUMPNG JACKS. Nothing induced my labour.

25th November 2015 I just got fed up. I told baby, that it was fine to come out when he was ready. I cried and submitted to Allah to help me. That afternoon, I stayed in my room and went to sleep.

6pm I woke up and had dinner. I felt mild contractions and informed my husband. It was bearable and we decided to go out for a drive, sending my mom in law for the classes at the masjid.

9ish pm we were at East Coast Park, I bought Nuggets and a Grape Float and ate through my pain. It was romantic. I enjoyed it, bending forward and rotating my hips to manage the pain.

10.30pm we went back to the car, I felt more intense pain. I sat in the car and remember breathing through the pain. My husband was calm. He drove to the masjid again where I then stepped out of the car to speak with the ustaz that night. He was giving advice on what to read and doa to quicken labour. Nobody but my husband and I knew that I was already into labour.

We reached home and put my Muhammad to sleep. I laboured in the room. My husband helped keep timing of the contractions, we were waiting for the right time to go. Somewhere in there, my mucus plug came and I started light bleeding. I asked a dear Doula friend and she encouraged me saying that it was progress. Let my body do what it needs. I managed to lie down on my side to rest for about 20mins. My husband massaged my back and applied soothing essential oils as we worked through the pains.

I believe it was past midnight.. I got up from my rest as I felt my baby moving down. I got up and was in so much pain that I vomited all my dinner and junk food out. After that I took a hot shower and got ready. I told my husband that I wanted to go to the hospital immediately. It was 1.30am ish. He said we will go at 2am. I said, no. NOW. So we prepared to go. He told his parents that I was going to the hospital to give birth, they had no idea how far along into the labour I was.

I was having irregular contractions at 6-8mins intervals but the pain was intense that told me that I was ready. We were ready. I walked to the taxi stand a couple of blocks away. when we got to the taxi stand, a huge surge came, I could no longer talk and was in the zone.

We got a cab almost immediately, and the driver, knowing that I had labour pain drove safely. My waterbag broke in the cab just as we turned one traffic light after we boarded. I felt water gushing and stopping. I had never felt this before. Each time a contraction came, I felt my baby going down and more water gushed out. I was happy. I was meeting my baby soon.

By the time we reached the hospital, I couldn’t walk. I knew that my baby was coming really soon. my husband half ran half walked to the delivery suite and as soon I we got in, I said, “BABY IS COMINNNG!”

2.15am we reached the hospital.
The team told me to get on the bed , I just did as told, they wanted to detect my baby’s heartbeat but couldn’t find it. I just repeated, that my baby was coming. True enough, I was already crowning, subhanallah. They told me not to push, I didn’t. They guided me to breathe, and finally give a tiny push, deep. My baby slowly came out at 2.45am. Ya Allah, I could not have asked for a better labour. My Dr came in shortly and helped make sure my placenta was delivered. I had minimal tearing.

I got my birth crawl, my baby had 1hr or more of skin to skin. totally no interventions and I felt so happy, alive and excited to be with my baby. After that I asked for some food and was high that I couldn’t sleep. I saw my baby and he was beautiful. I would go through it all over again. I was humbled by the power of accepting, submitting and letting Allah handle my affairs. So, blessed, humbled and in awe. Ahmad is now close to 10 mths old as I write this. Alhamdulillah indeed.

Sharing by Ustazah Fatimah Syarha

In the midst of feeling internally turbulent, partly because of a certain viral birth/death-related Facebook post, Allah sent me a gentle nudge to remind me of my duties as a gentle birth advocate. A dear sis Nor Ida, a former Yaqyn Birther, tagged me in a Malaysian Ustazah’s video post sharing spiritual tips on her gentle birth experience, and said that she was reminded of the tips I shared 4 years ago. 4 years ago! MashaAllah. :’)


Facebook screenshot

What are the tips? Here are the tips shared by Ustazah Fatimah Syarha in her video which I have transcribed in full below [in MALAY]:

Assalamualaikum wr wb

Salam sebarkan bahagia buat semua.
Semoga semua hari ini bahagia dan bersyukur dengan nikmat Allah swt.

Alhamdulillah hari ini sepatutnya saya membuat fb live bersama kalian semua untuk pelancaran buku Solitude, tapi Allah izin baby nak keluar awal. Alhamdulillah syukur.

Tak sangka ramai yang tanya kepada saya tip nak lahirkan anak dengan mudah.
Tak koyak, tak jahit, tak gunting, tak ambik apa-apa alat penahan sakit.

Ya Allah, saya bukanlah insan terbaik untuk share tips dan amalan untuk mudah bersalin tapi apa yang mampu saya kongsikan sikit untuk manfaat semua muslimah di luar sana. InshaAllah saya akan kongsikan beberapa tip yang saya petik daripada buku Solitude dan memang buku ini menjadi teman baik saya sepanjang proses kelahiran ini.

Semua yang saya sayangi,
pertama kita nak jelas bahawa kita ada Allah dalam hidup jadi kita nak sangka baik dgn Allah swt dulu. Dalam buku solitude saya ada selitkan satu hadith yang sangat membakar semangat saya untuk bersangka baik dgn Allah swt.

Nabi saw ada menyebut firman Allah dalam satu hadis Qursi riwayat Tirmizi, sahih di sisi Tirmizi. Juga riwayat Ibnu Majah dan sahih di sisi Ibnu Majah. Allah swt berfirman:

Ana ‘inda zhanni ‘ abdi bi (Aku berada dalam sangkaan hambaku terhadapku)

Jadi sebelum bersalin, kita nak sangka yang Allah akan tolong, Allah dekat, Allah bersama. Kena banyak ingat Allah. Allahlah kekuatan sebenar-benar kekuatan . Tak sangka yang Allah akan mampukan saya bersalin dengan senyuman, dengan ceria, boleh sapa doctor, boleh sapa org2 yg ada disekeliling itu buat mereka bahagia. Kesian mereka, stress kan nak buat kerja-kerja sebegini. Jadi kita yang berniat memberi kebahagiaan kepada mereka walaupun kita tengah sakit . Niat itu main peranan untuk menjaga emosi dan ketenangan diri sepanjang proses nak lahirkan anak.

Allah janji: Wa ana ma’ahu hiina yazkuruni. Fain zakarani fi nafsihi , zakartuhu fi nafsi

(Jika dia menyebutKu dalam dirinya, Aku pun akan menyebutnya dalam diriKu . Jika dia menyebutKu di suatu tempat , maka Aku akan menyebutnya di dalam tempat yg lebih baik darinya)

Jadi syarat kita nak dpt kekuatan daripada hadith ini, ada 9 syarat. Ah, 9 syarat, 9 syarat… apa dia?

Pertama syaratnya: Yakin
Kedua: Yakin
Ketiga : Sangat yakin
Keempat: Kena tetapkan keyakinan
Kelima: Bertambah yakin
Keenam: Yakin dan terus yakin
Ketujuh: Yakin yakin yakin
Kelapan: Tetap yakin
dan kesembilan: Keyakinan itu perlu dibuktikan dgn tindakan

…dan Ya Allah Ra Rabbi, syukur sangat sebab dalam buku ini bukan satu hadith ni saja bagi kekuatan, banyak lagi ayat-ayat al-Quran yang lain hadith2 sahih yang lain yang bila kita baca tu kita rasa this is the best motivation yg kita perlukan dalam hidup bersama keyakinan bersama jiwa yg ada Allah. InshaAllah hidup kita kuat walaupun dalam hidup ini kita terpaksa lalui banyak detik-detik kesakitan, kesakitan ujian, kesakitan fizikal dan sebagainya, tapi dengan ada yang Maha Kuat, kesakitan itu boleh diatasi dgn ketenangan. Benar sungguh, benar sungguh janji Allah dalam Al-Quran. Orang yang banyak ingat Allah itu hatinya tenang dan dengan ketenangan itu adalah kekuatan untuk kita dapat kebaikan-kebaikan yg besar dalam kehidupan. Ini tip paling penting untuk kita pegang sebagai satu keyakinan dalam hidup kita.

InshaAllah kalian semua mampu, mampu buat lebih baik daripada saya . Kita nak sama-sama doa mendoakan, kuat menguatkan saling lengkapkan, saling memotivasikan untuk hidup dgn penuh keyakinan bahawa hanya hidup bersama Allah hidup akan bahagia.

Salam sayang, salam sebarkan bahagia daripada saya Fatimah Syarha sekeluarga. Terima kasih atas doa-doa semua. Sayang semuanya kerana Allah. Assalamualaikum waramatullah.

In a gist, she shares about how our basis in life starts with INTENTION (niat) and then followed by CERTAINTY, CERTAINTY, CERTAINTY (Yakin, Yakin, Yakin) that Allah is always with us. When our life is guided by such principles, peace will follow. Alhamdulillah, the name of my birth company YAQYN is based along these same principles, and that whatever we do, we must be certain that Allah is with us, Allah will help and guide us, and whatever outcome Allah chooses for us in the end, we must be certain that it is the best for us. This is husnuz zhon (good assumption), and we must always make good assumption with Allah, for He Knows Best.

Wallahu a’lam (He Knows Best).

That said, I’m just so happy I am being remembered for my good tips even if it has been many years ago, and I pray that it will always be so, InshaAllah! May Allah continue to guide us in everything that we do. Yakin! 😀

Looking for a doula in Singapore


Certified since 2010

I’m beginning to get more requests from mothers asking me to support them in their pregnancy and birth – more than I could handle, Alhamdulillah. This is a healthy sign that natural birth awareness is increasing in Singapore. I am also happy to share that more of us are getting to be certified as doulas, so InshaAllah there will always be enough supply of doulas to meet everyone’s demands.

I always encourage potential clients to go doula-shopping, i.e. interview as many doulas and find one who they can have chemistry with. It is going to be a very long relationship with someone you are going to be sharing intimate details with, so you must find someone who can really meet your needs.

If you don’t know where to start looking, you can go to the society for Doulas of Singapore webpage to look for a doula. The doulas registered under this society have gone through an interview and screening process and are able to work in Singapore hospitals. Yaqyn Birth is a member of this society.

There are also other independent doula bodies such as Fourtrimesters and Amani Birth who can also work in Singapore hospitals.

What to look for in a doula (general guidelines):

  • Able to meet your requirements (in terms of age, personality and background)
  • Able to support you with adequate information
  • Able to support your emotional and psychological needs
  • Able to meet your budget
  • Able to commit herself during your estimated due date
  • Has a back-up doula (in case of emergencies)
  • You feel good sharing intimate details with her

I feel that every woman should be entitled to get doula support so I hope that these links above can help you look for a suitable doula who is able to meet your needs and requirements.

Happy looking! – Hanani, Yaqyn Birth

Boosting with lactation cookies

Simply amazing lactation cookies (halal) by The Batter Kitchen

Eating lactation cookies is one of the fastest ways to boost the milk supply for a pumping mum. Of course the cookies are only meant as a supplement on top of eating nutritious and well-rounded meals plus drinking plenty of water. (Also remember that a baby’s direct latch is the best milk booster)

How do these cookies work?

They are made of milk-boosting ingredients that help to increase prolactin (a hormone to produce milk). The key ingredients are: Oats, fenugreek and flaxseed. These ‘seeds’ taste bland when they’re eaten on their own so when they’re mixed with other yummy ingredients to form a cookie, its tastier on the palate which makes us happy. We produce a lot of endorphins (happy hormones) when we eat something we like – especially an occassional treat like cookies – and that helps to increase milk too.

Do they really work?

They usually do, but even if they don’t affect much of your milk supply, remember that oat, fenugreek and flaxseed can be really beneficial for a nursing mum. They’re packed with lots of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. 

You can try these lactation cookies as a treat even if you don’t intend to boost your milk supply. The whole family can enjoy it too. 

Important note: In boosting milk for breastfeeding, prioritise these points in this order first-

  1. Latch baby directly on demand, always and often (most important)
  2. Eat well-rounded meals and eat nutritiously
  3. Drink plenty of water
  4. Milk-boosting components such as the lactation cookies are only meant as a supplement to the items above. The cookies will not be effective if the other points are disregarded.

What do I do with the placenta?

For most first-time Muslim parents, this question usually comes to mind only at the end of term or even after birth itself. Most do not know what to do with the placenta, or unsure how to clean it, or do not know if its a good idea to dispose of it instead.

Here is MUIS’ statement about the burial of the placenta:

3. In Islam, must the placenta be buried after the birth of the baby?

While some scholars are of the opinion that it is encouraged to bury the placenta, it is not compulsory.
For those who wish to bury it, it should be done properly and safely. It is also permissible to leave it at the hospital.

The same ruling goes for the Malaysian body, JAKIM. Burying the placenta is regarded as harus (ie: it is alright to do, or not to do).

A placenta that is not claimed at the hospital will be disposed of properly as medical waste. It will not be used in any clinical experiments or stored in a blood bank without your consent.

So how do I clean the placenta, and how do I bury it?

Here is a step-by-step guide with pictures on how to clean and bury the placenta (in Malay):

Why is it recommended to wash the placenta before burying? This is to reduce the ‘meaty’ smell from the placenta to prevent animals from scavenging it. It is done for the sake of hygiene, and not because it is part of a ritual. Cleanliness is part of the faith, hence the emphasis.

Make sure the hole is also dug deep enough to prevent accidental exposure when humans or animals walk over it.

Other questions:

Do I need to bury it behind a mosque?

This is not compulsory, you can bury it anywhere as long as it is a good and legitimate place. In Singapore, this is usually in the compounds of a landed house of somebody you know. Due to our land scarcity, most mosques do not allow any placenta burial. Some families I know even bring it across the causeway to bury it in a relative’s kampung compound.

Do I need to use an urn to cover the placenta before burial?

This is done for hygiene (again to reduce smell), so while it is good, it is not compulsory. A cotton cloth would suffice. Or if nothing is available, you do not need to cover it with anything as long as the hole is dug deeply.

How do I store the placenta while in transit (after cleaning and before burial)?

You can store it in the freezer part of the refrigerator just like how you would store any other frozen food. This will eliminate any smell and prevent bacteria from multiplying too quickly.

Not everyone will have the convenience of acquiring land to bury the placenta. If you find it too difficult to bury the placenta, it is highly recommended that you let the hospital dispose it for you instead.

May we all be under Allah’s guidance always, Ameen.

– Hanani, Yaqyn Birth

How to make a hot sock


Did you know that using heat therapy is one of the most effective natural pain relief available?

One of the best ways to cope during active labour is to use heat therapy. I usually recommend my clients to have a hot shower at this stage and see if they would feel comfortable enough in the shower to last through a few intense contractions.

Another great tip would be the simple hot sock. When surges intensify, women usually speak of pain throughout the hips and buttocks area. Applying the hot sock would help give some relief.

How to make a hot sock?

  1. Take one piece of sock. You can use a brand new piece of sock, or an old one. 100% cotton or wool sock would be best as it heats up evenly. When using socks with nylon or other synthetic fibres, take great care after heating as it might burn you.
  2. Scoop in 3-5 cups of rice into the sock, depending on how soft you want it to be. I usually prefer a taut sock because the sock can stretch. Make sure to leave enough sock space at the top (to tie a knot).
  3. Tie a knot at the top to seal the sock.

Congratulations! You have made a hot rice sock.

How to use it?

Microwave it for 30-60 secs (depending on heat of microwave). The idea is to get a reasonably warm sock that can last at least 20-30mins of usage.

If it is not hot, simply microwave it for a longer duration. If it is too hot, you can either wait for it to cool, or wrap a towel around it before applying on skin.


  1. Did you know that you can request the EmmaCare midwives in NUH to heat up your hot socks? They have a microwave available somewhere in the labour ward.
  2. In between contractions, daddies can use the hot sock over their aching shoulders!
  3. Kids love it too. My daughter enjoys playing with the sock (unheated) like a squishy stress ball. If your children are old enough, they can use the hot sock to get involved with your labour and help give you some relief. It is nice when children understand that labour is not a scary episode. When they learn to use simple tools for pain relief, they will grow up to be more confident of labour and birth, InshaAllah!

Have fun with your hot sock! Just do be extra careful when handling it fresh from the microwave~



The Birth Story of Nuha Zahra


InshaAllah I will try to be more diligent in posting birth stories of Yaqyn Birthers. Today’s story happened in 2010 when I was still under the great Doula Ginny Phang’s tutelage. It was very special to me because Nuha’s mother is a good friend and I am forever grateful to her for letting me be Ginny’s back up.

Her labour took a very long time and her bag of membranes had broken many hours before she finally went to the hospital. Had she been under a gyn/ob who wasn’t supportive of her choices, she would have sooner been cut up (c-section) as there was a point in time at the hospital that her labour didn’t ‘progress’. Read on to find out what happened in the end:

*Reprinted with permission from:

I had two EDDs given by two different gynaes. The first gynae I went to set my EDD as Oct 30. Dr X at TMC brought forward my EDD to Oct 26. My final gynae, Dr Mary Rauff, took Oct 30 as my official EDD.
Nuha was born on Nov 5 at 12.23am. She missed her Daddy’s birthday by 23min. Going by the official EDD (Oct 30), she was a week overdue. Had we stayed on with Dr X, I would have most probably been induced for labour.

As I mentioned before, I had a very pleasant pregnancy. I was extremely happy (almost all the time), I was positive about everything, I didn’t throw up, I didn’t have headaches or backaches or backside-aches. The only discomfort I had was when my pelvic bone, in its enthusiasm in preparing for labour, began separating as early as my 20th week. Apart from that, I really had the perfect pregnancy. I ate well but didn’t put on too much (oklah, 12kg in total), I could walk for kilometres during job assignments, I happily snorkelled for hours in the Maldives. I was blessed.
I bet Nuha, too, was extremely happy in my tummy – which probably explains why she was reluctant to come out into this world. I started my maternity leave on 25 Oct, just five days before my EDD. I didn’t want to waste my precious leave during pregnancy because I was certain I wanted to spend as much time with my babe as possible. I extended my leave further and took two months of unpaid leave. This would give me an uninterrupted six months with Nuha, thus establishing breastfeeding and attachment.
Oct 30 came and went. My tummy just got bigger and I became more restless. I looked out for any signs of tummy discomfort that could possibly be Braxton Hicks but nothing happened. In an attempt to kickstart labour naturally, I did lots of walking, squats and stair-climbing. Still nothing. As promised in my birth plan, I was due for my membranes to be swept at 40.5 weeks or Nov 3.
On the morning of Nov 2, I woke up at 9.45am and thought I peed in my sleep. My panties and pyjama pants were wet. Finally, I thought, I’ll be going into labour. I called Adil who was at work and excitedly asked him to come home. I then SMSed Ginny (doula) to inform her about my wet pants. She told me to get lots of rest and try to sleep. Sleep? You kidding me? I was too excited about seeing my baby for the first time.
I showered, checked my hospital bag and put aside the clothes I planned to wear to the hospital. Before this I had planned on labouring at home as long as possible but my waterbag bursting did not present the most ideal situation. I was tested GBS positive which means that my baby might be at risk of being infected by life-threatening bacteria once the waterbag is gone. Most doctors recommend that the mother be administered antibiotics 12 hours after the waterbag has burst to prevent the baby getting infected. I read up and figured that the baby should be safe for at least 24 hours. This means the latest I should go to the hospital would be 9am the following day (Nov 4).
I put on a sanitary pad and waited for the contractions to come. Nothing happened. Adil came home at 11.30am with chicken rice and ice kacang for me. I ate with gusto, keeping in mind that I’d need the energy to push later.
We returned to our bedroom after lunch, switched on the aircon, put on some nice music and pulled the curtains to darken the room. I tried to sleep. But as the hours passed, I couldn’t help but worry about the lack of contractions. My sanitary pad was also dry. By 4pm, I was becoming very restless and felt like I needed to get out of the house. I also felt like eating some hot fluffy chapatis.
So at 5pm, Adil, my mum and I went to Geylang Serai Market to feast on some chapatis. Alas, the stall was closed so we did some tudung shopping instead. That cheered me up somewhat. Shopping never fails to cheer me up.
I started feeling some random contractions at around 9pm that night. I felt quite relieved but the contractions were not regular and it didn’t look like I was going to give birth anytime soon. By then, I knew that I couldn’t escape the antibiotics the next morning.
Contractions came and went randomly throughout the night. By 1am, Adil and I decided that we should go to the hospital at 8am because GBS is scary. We woke up at 6am, showered, prayed and left home. My mum had already left for work. I kissed and hugged my father goodbye like I was going to war. Very emotional.
I had one final request before going to the hospital. I wanted a McDonald’s breakfast (yes, I was greedy and wanted to eat all the time). We had a leisurely breakfast and called Ginny again to tell her we would be going to the hospital. Are you sure, she asked. I said I needed the damn antibiotics because GBS is scary. She asked if I’d been steadily leaking water. I said no, the only time water leaked was yesterday morning. After much discussion over the phone, we came to the conclusion that my waterbag was most likely still intact. It leaked but did not burst. Hurrah!
I was ecstatic because it meant I didn’t have to surrender myself to the hospital. I could go home. I finished my breakfast in high spirits and walked out of the McDonalds in East Coast. And that was where it happened. Right there at the carpark. My waterbag burst. This time for real. It was like water gushing out of a pipe. I was so stunned I just stood there like a kid who peed her pants. I turned to Adil and said: “Okay, our 24 hours (to get the antibiotics) start from now.”
Much to my father’s surprise, I was back at home two hours after “going to give birth”. I took a nap at 10am and was awakened 45min later by mild contractions. I tried to pass the time by reading a book. I had beef noodles for lunch and Awfully Chocolate ice-cream and cupcake for tea. Adil pampers me.
My contractions were not getting any more frequent by 9pm that night. We Skyped with Ginny and she taught me how to do belly lifts to speed up labour. We also decided to go to the hospital by 4am no matter what happened because I needed antibiotics for the GBS.
I went to bed but barely got any sleep. I was frustrated with my body. Why aren’t my contractions coming faster than they should? At 4am, once again we showered and left home. This time both my parents were home. I kissed and hugged them like I was going for war. And this time, there was no more coming back home. This time it was for real.
The roads and highways were deserted as we drove to the hospital. It was a very pleasant early morning drive. We reached the hospital at 4.30am only to find that every single delivery suite was occupied except for one (which wasn’t equipped for waterbirthing). The hospital staff assured us that they’d move us to the water birth suite as soon as it was available.
Like a good girl, I got into bed and obediently gave the hospital staff details of my labour thus far. I got raised eyebrows and frowns when I told them my waterbag had burst 18 hours ago. A female doctor did a VE and I thought I was going to die. It was the most painful thing ever and I hated her. She said I was 3-4 cms dilated. Ginny was happy and said some encouraging stuff. I wasn’t paying much attention because I was busy thinking murderous thoughts of that doctor who just treated me like a cow in a James Herriot story.
At Ginny’s coaxing, I tried to get some sleep but felt like an invalid on the bed. So Adil slept on the bed while I slept on the armchair. Hanani came to take Ginny’s place at 9am. We yakked like I wasn’t labouring. The woman in the water birth suite finally gave birth and I got to switch rooms. While waiting for them to clean up the suite, I chatted with Hanani at the corridors. By then I could feel my contractions getting a tad stronger and coming more regularly, about 15min apart.
By 10am I was settled happily in the water birth suite that I wanted. I changed into a pretty pink pyjama dress which I’d bought specially for labour. Adil set up his laptop and played our favourite songs and a slideshow of happy holiday photos which he had prepared. My ION Orchard scent was placed by the bedside.
At 1pm Adil and Hanani tried to persuade me to eat some lunch. I normally love Delifrance quiches but that day, I really had no appetite. I could still yak a lot though. I chatted with Hanani happily and watched Wheel of Fortune on TV, solving the puzzles before the contestants and shouting out at the TV.
At 2pm, I had another VE. It was extremely painful and I wanted to kill that doctor as well. I was dilated 5cm. By then I was getting quite tired. When is this ever going to end? I dilated 2cm in 8 hours. That’s an average of four hours for every cm. At this rate, I’d have to wait another day before I give birth. Ginny asked if I wanted to speed up my labour and I agreed. So I was put on pitocin.
Once the pitocin was administered, I could not sit down and yak happily anymore. Each time a contraction came, I stood up and swayed my hips. In hindsight I do not know why I did that. But at that point of time it just felt like the most natural thing to do. Hanani applied some hot compresses to my back and that really helped with the pain.
At around 4pm, the contractions became markedly more painful. I asked to go into the tub. I had another VE, this time by Dr Rauff herself. It was a gentle VE and I was grateful. I was 7cm dilated. I was taken off the Pitocin and went into the water.
The water was a welcome relief. I swear I felt less pain in the water. By around this time, I don’t really have a clear memory of what happened exactly. Events became rather fuzzy. I remember the dark bathroom and being in the calming, warm water. I remember being told to breathe through my contractions and Ginny asking me if I wanted the water to be a little warmer. I also remember the nursing staff coming in often to adjust the fetal monitor belt around my waist. That was a nuisance because I really just wanted to focus on I breathing through each contraction. Somehow, once real labour kicked in, I became pretty quiet and just wanted to be left alone.
The next four hours were a blur. I remember getting out of the tub at some point, putting on my new fluffy bathrobe and then sitting on the toilet. I think the toilet bowl was my favourite place when I was labouring. It felt a lot more comfortable sitting there, I don’t know why. Hanani snapped some pictures of me labouring and weeks later when I looked at the camera, I saw some shots of me on the toilet and Adil sitting across me and patting my tummy. He was talking to my tummy and trying to reason with the baby to come out faster.
I think at some point the nursing staff realised that the pitocin was causing distress to the baby. They took me off pitocin and also got me out of the water because they needed to monitor the baby’s heartbeat better.
I don’t remember what time that was but once out of the water, I remembered being in extreme pain whenever the contractions came. They forced the oxygen mask on me which made me feel suffocated and didn’t make me breathe better at all. Someone should destroy that thing. I wanted to go back to the jacuzzi tub or toilet bowl that has become my ‘sanctuary’. But that was not possible because they needed to monitor the baby.
The odd thing was even at this time, my contractions were still coming every 10 minutes or so, like it did 12 hours ago.
I think I had another VE sometime then and I was 9cm dilated AND the baby was not in the optimum position. I no longer had the energy to resist my VEs or think murderous thoughts of the doctor who did it. I was just tired and I wanted the whole ordeal to end. At that point of time, had someone suggested cutting me open to get the baby out, I think I would have readily agreed.
Back to the story. I was suffering on the bed and Hanani was at my ear asking me to recite some du’as. I tried repeating after her but I think I was just mumbling some mumbo jumbo. Amidst my daze, I overheard Dr Rauff, Adil and Ginny speaking in hushed tones by the door and I heard words like “fetal distress” and “emergency caesarian”. My heart sank. What is happening to me? Why isn’t the baby coming out? Must I really have a caesarian after all those hours of labour?
I didn’t realise this but according to Hanani, at this time, she asked Adil to make one final plea to the Almighty. So Adil made some du’as over my tummy and believe it or not, I suddenly felt the most painful grinding sensation on my pubic bone. I don’t think there’s an English term for it but in Malay, we call in ngilu. It made me want to clamp my legs together and bite down my lip. I remember repeatedly telling Hanani that I felt ngilu. I think Hanani said something like, “Dee, the baby is turning! Alhamdulillah she’s turning!”
Minutes after that, I felt the urge to push. The nursing staff encouraged me to do so and so I pushed and pushed as hard as I could while lying on my side on the bed. But it was just plain uncomfortable pushing on the bed. So I appealed to Dr Rauff to allow me to get back into the water. Please, I said. She said okay.
So at about 9.30pm, I got back into the jacuzzi tub and started pushing whenever a contraction came, which was once every 10 minutes. Even the doctor found it odd.

So this was how my pushing went: The doctor and nurses would look at the contraction monitoring machine while I sit there in the water. Once my contraction came, they would cheer and shout for me to push as hard as I could. So I pushed and pushed like my eyeballs were going to pop out. Long and hard. They could see the baby’s hair peeking out but then the contraction would go away and the baby would slide back in. By the time the next contraction came 10 minutes later, the baby would be back in its original position as though I never pushed at all.
So this pushing business went on for two hours. I remember this part very clearly because I really had to work very hard. I remember wondering if it was possible for my eyeballs to shoot out from the sheer force of my pushing. Anyway, I was getting tired and Dr Rauff could see that this pushing thing was going nowhere. So she asked me if I’d like some help. What kind of help, I asked. She said that she can hold the baby’s head in place with a vacuum in between contractions so that the baby won’t slide back up. But I’d still have to do all the pushing work myself. I agreed immediately. So for the last time that night, I got out of the jacuzzi tub and obediently climbed back into bed.  I never imagined myself giving birth this way, with both my legs splayed open, surrounded by my husband, my doctor, two doulas and at least three nursing staff. All these women and one man cheering me to push and counting 1, 2, 3, 4….as I pushed and pushed. Thanks to the vacuum which held her in place, the baby crowned after two contractions.
No wonder people call this moment the ‘ring of fire’. I felt like I was being burnt and stung under there and for a split second, I actually wanted to stuff the baby back in. The only thing that kept me back was an even greater desire for this whole ordeal to end asap.
Nuha fully emerged after some pushes and belted out a string of loud hearty cries.

She was put on my chest, which was uncomfortable because my head was positioned lower than my body at that time. I looked up and just stared at her as she cried and looked back at me. I don’t know who was more relieved at that time – me or her – that the birth was over.
I put her to my breasts and she latched on like an expert. It was apparent by then that I have an extremely lazy uterus. My placenta refused to emerge so I was put on pitocin again. But by then I was back to my happy, chirpy self. As Dr Rauff stitched me up, I told her about how my mother took 40 hours to give birth to me and it seems like I’ve come full circle.
Nuha was checked and weighed right there in the delivery room where we could still see her. She weighed a healthy 3.87kg. My parents were shocked when they heard this because they were expecting a smaller baby haha. I wasn’t surprised because I ate a lot of cookies during Hari Raya. All that butter and sugar had to go somewhere.
So was I happy with my birth experience? Definitely. Considering how slowly my labour progressed and how my contractions casually came 10 minutes apart right til the end, I could have easily ended up with an emergency c-section. Labouring in the water brought huge relief and even though I gave birth on land, I had no regrets trying for a water birth.

Will I try for a water birth the next time? Yes I will. When will that be? Not anytime soon, insyaAllah🙂

Fertility Awareness Method

This is my current read:

I am always looking to upgrade myself, and this time I have taken an interest to learn more about fertility awareness. Just halfway through reading this (very) thick book, I have learnt that:

1) Cervical fluid (keputihan) is not always a bad thing. It can indicate fertile/non fertile periods.

2) Luteal phase (the period between post-ovulation and menstruation) is not affected by stress and largely remains an average 10-16 days in most women. If you have an average cycle that is long (longer than 28-30 days), it means you ovulate later than the textbook 14th day. 

3) What point no.2 means is that if your normal cycle is longer than 30 days, and if you are pregnant, your estimated due date based on the obgyn pregnancy wheel should be moved later and adjusted accordingly. 

4) While I have had difficulty conceiving my first two children, I have now learnt that I may not have ‘true/clinical’ infertility, but in fact I have had very little pockets of ‘fertile windows’ that I have failed to observe and make use of because of my irregular periods. The best way to understand your body and your cycle is to start charting your waking temperature and observing cervical fluid. 

5) I have to chart my own cycles for at least 6 months before I can start teaching others about fertility awareness. I have since started, but will need at least a couple of months to be able to see a pattern. 

6) Fertility awareness method (FAM), if understood correctly, can also be used as a pregnancy prevention tool.

7) FAM is not the same as the rhythm method.

8) How can charting help? It can help identify if one is ovulating or not, and if so, when.

9) For those trying to conceive (TTC), charting helps to eliminate a part of the invasive medical tests you have to do to check if you are truly infertile or simply missing your precious fertile windows.

MashaAllah, I have learnt so many new things I thought I already knew before this. And this is just half of the book. Chat me up if you’d like to find out more about FAM.

Meanwhile, back to the book! 📖

– Hanani

Listening to your pregnant body

How do you listen to your body?

I’ve often been asked this question by clients and students alike. And those who have ever attended my talks would know that my favourite quote would definitely be ‘Listen to your body!‘.

For example, when they ask me if I think they’re drinking enough or walking too much or whether they’re eating adequately or resting enough, I’d say (after some bits of advice): ‘…most importantly, listen to your body!’.

“But I don’t know how to, I don’t trust my body!”

I’d tell them that they are the best person to know what’s happening inside their own self, and most times a simple thought can influence the body’s state of healing (mind over matter).

Now I’m not trying to simplify matters, but truly, if we start paying attention to signs our body is giving us, we will notice that we know a lot more than we actually think – especially when it comes to our own pregnancy.

Take note of small changes – from your pee colour, stool colour, skin and nail condition, new sensations around the body, to your emotions – they’re all telling you something. If you feel something is a little off, pause for a moment and listen deep down to what your body is trying to tell you.

Earlier this week, a lovely pregnant lady, in a little panic, asked me if its normal to feel tightenings (small contractions of the uterine muscles) in the 2nd trimester which were really uncomfortable. While it may not require emergency medical attention*, it certainly means something is not quite right with the body so I asked her to look for clues like ‘what did you do differently today?’. Turns out she was fasting and that particularly hot day was taking a toll on her body. Her body was dehydrated and her muscles – the uterus especially – were signalling for her to get help. When she broke her fast and hydrated herself with water, her tightenings immediately stopped.

You’d be surprise at how simple this solution sounds in writing, but the truth is that not many people hear what their body is trying to say, especially when they feel their judgement might be biased by panic and fear.

When this happens, slow down, and ask your body questions – aloud works fine too 😀

Most of the time your body hurts to tell you something, not to attack you. It gives you a chance to plan a strategy so listen to it. Pay close attention and you will find the answer. And trust about what it is telling you to do. Because truly Allah has made our bodies very smart!

 And He has created you in different forms and different conditions. See you not how Allah has created seven heavens in perfect harmony, and has placed the moon, therein a light and made the sun a lamp? And Allah has caused you to grow out of the earth as a good growth. Then will He cause you to return, thereto, and He will bring you forth a new bringing forth. (71:14-19)

*Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, so please use good judgement to identify serious medical issues. The stories I share are suitable for the majority of healthy and/or low-risk pregnancies. Please do not ignore symptoms if you already have a pre-existing medical condition. Thank you!

** If you already tried listening to your body, but really can’t hear anything, sometimes a doula may just be the person to ask the questions for you. And we’re always happy to do so! ❤

Love, Hanani