A love letter for my midwife

Written in the style of http://www.mothering.com/articles/love-letter-midwife/ (Thank you Kristen Tea for the inspiration!)

Bismillah,

Dear Red,

Firstly I thank Allah for giving me the opportunity to engage you as my midwife!

Thank you for attending the birth of my third born, Honeystar.

Thank you for your continuous support throughout my pregnancy, labour, birth and postnatal period.

Thank you for your wisdom, guidance and knowledge.

Thank you for showing great respect to my pregnant, birthing and post-birth body.

Thank you for being gentle, patient and kind.

Thank you for the monthly (and then weekly) prenatal visits to my home and spending an hour patiently discussing my concerns or just chatting.

Thank you for taking the time to reply to all my phone and whatsapp queries.

Thank you for including Raizan in as many meetings as possible even if this meant having to come to my home after office hours.

Thank you for giving me evidence-based information for my decision-making and then respecting me in my choices.

Thank you for guiding and preparing me on the possible scenarios and necessary backup plans.

Thank you for trusting in ‘nature and the divine’ which happen to be aligned to my Islamic beliefs.
*note: the thing that struck me most about Red was her ‘setting an intention’ to everything that we want to do. That is in essence the basis of our Muslim practice, as the hadeeth goes – Innamal a’maalu binniyyaat (meaning: Actions are dependant upon their intentions).

Thank you for being respectful of my ‘labour space’ and allowing me to freely move and choose my positions.

Thank you for the sacral massage during labour which magically reduced the intensity (not kidding!).

Thank you for not doing any unnecessary interventions.

Thank you for ensuring that the environment was safe for Honeystar to come in to.

Thank you for not rushing the baby or me and allowing me to take a one-sec breather before letting me pick up Honeystar myself.

Thank you for the newborn checks done after we had time to bond as a family.

Thank you for the postnatal visits.

Thank you for the constant reminder to respect my post-birth body and let it heal properly (Indeed! Recovery has been quickest for this birth).

Thank you for doing what you do! Thank you for giving women like me the option to birth safely and comfortably at home with family.

Thank you Allah, for choosing Red to be my midwife!

(And not forgetting my other midwives: AbangH’s – Jacqui, Rosebud’s – Amelie and Honeystar’s assistant midwife – Amy. Thank you for all the love!)

IMG_4376.JPG With Rosebud & Honeystar’s midwives

IMG_4234.JPG Freshly birthed

IMG_4290.JPG Weighing Honeystar

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Yesterday’s random fb post

Random pregnancy post tonight:

1) Several days ago, when I picked and chose AbangH and Rosebud’s newborn clothes to be washed for baby Honeystar, I seem to subconciously pick out more of the blue-coloured outfits and wraps! Confident ke Honeystar will be a boy?

2) Also several days ago, I told my midwife that I am “…confident Honeystar’s head is still high”, only to be met with her wide-eyed response of “…nooo!! She is just *this close* (makes small gap indication with thumb and forefinger) to the middle of the pubis” from her after palpating the belly. Similarly the next day, I confidently told Cik Nor, my pre/postnatal massage lady, that baby is “…still high!” only to be met with the same response as my midwife. “Baby is already in a ‘prostrating’ position (ie occiput anterior), ready to come out! Be sure to stay more at home ok”, she said. Allahhh…. 😅 Whenever you’re ready, baby… 💕

3) I am 37+6 weeks today, Alhamdulillah Mohon doa semua~ And I seek your forgiveness for my wrongdoings! Please keep me in your prayers ok 😘

I am officially an Aunt!

Assalamualaikum wr wb,
Bismillah…

Forgive me for the long absence. I took a break in Ramadhan and Syawal as I had been overseas in Melbourne during this period for a much needed break. Its good to be back in Mum and Dad’s arms! :). It so happened that this period coincided with the birth of my first nephew, Musa, the son of my brother. My sister in law had been so sweet to ask me to be her doula, and of course I agreed!

Her birth story was pretty straightforward, with 2 days of mild early labour. We did the usual works – birth ball, massage, hot shower and she coped beautifully. There were times when my brother asked me if its time to go, and I’d see that she’s still chatty and fine and I’d say let’s hang on a while. On the 3rd day, when her labour became more established, things picked up pretty quickly and soon she knew it was time to go. The hospital was just a 7 mins drive away, but by the time we reached there, she was starting to bear baby down (aka, wanting to push). Here’s a doula action shot taken by my dear bro! (Don’t mind the handbag, we were waiting to be escorted into a room, hee). Not long after, my handsome nephew was born! And today is his first month, Alhamdulillah.

 

Pelvic squeezes while waiting for a room

Pelvic squeezes while waiting for a room

 

In other news, I am (finally) resuming my birth talks in September, InshaAllah! 7 September is already half full (priority for those who asked to be put on waitlist), but there will be 2 more on 14 and 21 September. Please msg/wa me for more details! Seats are really going fast and I’d hate to disappoint anyone.

Signing off for now, but do stay in touch as I have good news to be shared in the next few weeks, InshaAllah! ❤

Where’s my waterbag?

I got a very interesting question in my inbox today:
“Hanani, normally for us whose waterbag has burst first before giving birth, where’s the bag when baby comes out?”

Have you every thought about this? For most mothers who give birth in hospitals, they are usually not aware of their placenta or how it looks like. I asked about this in my class, and 90% of my students did not take note of their placenta after birth.

In a birth setting with a midwife though, the midwife will check the placenta *together* with the mother and explain what all the parts are (or if there are any missing parts). I remember after the birth of Husainy, my midwife checked my placenta and excitedly declared: “All intact! Would you like to see it??” At that time, I wasn’t very wise and I thought it very strange to be asked if I wanted to see it.

With Rosebud, my midwife went a step further and asked me if I wanted to touch/feel how strong the membranes are (the amniotic sac). Of course I wanted to touch it! SubhanaAllah, that bags of water that held my child safe for 9 months felt very tough! Its very thin, like plastic, but very tough, like rubber. SubhanaAllah SubhanaAllah SubhanaAllah…

Here’s a photo of the placenta with a burst amniotic sac (aka waterbag) without the baby. *warning – bloody photo* It’s not mine though 🙂

As you can see, the amniotic sac that surrounds the baby is attached to the placenta, so when it breaks , it will look like part of the placenta unless you stretch it as in the photo in the link below. Hope that answers your question, my friend! 😀

http://pregnancy.about.com/od/fetus/ss/placentaexam.htm

A Saturday with Spinning Babies – easier childbirth with fetal positioning


I had a tough month of March. It was a true test to my work as a doula, but at the same time it was also a gift. Alhamdulillah I am now fully recovered.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, I attended a very useful workshop conducted by Gail Tully of Spininngbabies.com fame at Liverpool Women’s Hospital. In our doula community, we rely heavily on her website to help us in our work. Her website helps pregnant mothers deal with a misaligned/disproportioned reproductive system that may be causing pain or discomfort during pregnancy and birth. Pregnancy shouldn’t be uncomfortable and shouldn’t cause pain, numbness or soreness. If it does, then there is a good reason why the body is shouting for help. You will need to do something about it… and quickly too, or else it might have a possible unwanted outcome on how your labour works out later. Ideally, a good labour would mean gradual progress from less intense to more intense in a systematic manner. However, too many times do we hear of labours that stop halfway, or that the intensity doesn’t progress, etc. Her works also include useful positioning/exercises to help mothers have an easier and more comfortable labour/birth with help on how to get stalled labours going or how to help turn babies in a bad position back to a good one (which is what is causing labours to stall or be painful in the first place).


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My main take away from this workshop is that I must understand and accept that mothers in the future will face a lot more challenges in their pregnancy and labour, and it is not their fault. Why is this so? It is due to the way we live our lives now. You’ve all probably heard of the saying “orang dulu-dulu senang je nak beranak” (“our ancestors birthed without problems”), and this is true, but it doesn’t mean that just because they had it easy, we would too. Now, we don’t work on our hands and knees, we seldom sit on the floor anymore, we slouch a lot, we sit in a motor vehicle to get us around, etc. There are so many other examples of how modern technology reduces our mobility and the need to stay upright and balanced (the 3 main recipes for an easier pregnancy and birth). All these habits may displace the optimal foetal positioning that would be ideal for a comfortable pregnancy & birth. Human beings are meant to be upright, mobile and balanced. Not sitting down on an office chair all day, only to go home sitting slouchily on bus or car seat. So what do we need to do? We need to do extra help for ourselves… from the start.. or even before we get pregnant! Thankfully, spinningbabies.com has all sorts of information that will suit everyone.

So the 3 principles of spinningbabies.com are:
1) Balance
2) Gravity
3) Movement

What do we balance? Not only the joints of the pelvis, but also the muscles, fascia and ligaments of the entire reproductive system. If your body is balanced, you should not feel pain/sore/numbness in one side.  Make your daily actions (eg: sitting, walking, using computer, sleeping, washing etc) as balanced as possible. If you tend to use more of your right muscles for instance, now is the time to work those left muscles too.
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Imagine an egg balanced on two elastic bands as in this picture. That egg is your uterus and the two elastic bands are your uterine muscles. Gail says in her website: “Sometimes the uterine ligaments are not equal on each side of the body. If one side has shortened ligaments the entire lower uterine segment can have a twist in it. This effect is not uncommon among women who twist to do their work (massage therapists, nurses, chiropractors, etc.) or who hold a child on one hip frequently. A twist in the cervical ligaments can put the lower uterine segment into a slight twist which reduces the room for the baby to have a good head-down position. The baby may remain breech, posterior, or come down asynclitic.”

Activities to help increase balance: Rebozo technique and the Forward-leaning inversion

When we have balance, having gravity and movement will now greatly help in foetal positioning or for labour progress. Gail mentions that exercises like yoga, walking, swimming, stretches, dancing, pelvic tilts will only work better after doing the balancing activities mentioned above.

If you are a pregnant mum or hoping to get pregnant in the future, I really urge you to have a look at the superb website spinningbabies.com. It will give you an insight on how babies spin/rotate and the mechanisms that take place in doing so. MasyaAllah how grand is Allah’s design!

Gail Tully also provides useful tips on how to help a breech baby turn head down, how to engage baby in labour, and lots more! It is so amazing what she has done all these years to help mothers have an easier pregnancy and birth. Alhamdulillah I am so blessed to have met her!

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Gail Tully & Doula Hanani


If you have any questions to ask me about this workshop, you can send me a message over at my Yaqyn Birth page. 🙂

The Power of A Prayer

I was at a birth that had a labour taking more than 36hrs long (I was with the mother for a good 16hrs+). Things were slow to pick up even at the hospital and the baby didn’t want to go into the optimal birthing position (occipital anterior) no matter what position we tried her in. The possibility of a c-sect was looming not too far away. As a last resort, I encouraged the father to sit close to his wife’s belly and recite every prayer (du’a) he could think of.

Not too long after, things suddenly picked up and there was hope for a normal birth. The medical staff called it a sudden ‘twist of fate’. I chose to see it as the power of a prayer. This image of the loving father softly whispering to the mother’s belly coaxing his child to come out will forever be etched on my mind.