If you’ve missed me, I’ve missed you more!

A very warm Salaam to all of you and thank you for always asking how I’ve been and how I’m coping with 3. To be honest, I have underestimated the break I needed as I try to regain momentum to start doula work again. I’ve promised some people that I will resume my classes in April or May, but its July and I’m nowhere near to setting a date yet (I am working towards it though!). I’m thankful for my group of first prenatal yoga class friends (plus some ex-clients) who seem to keep multiplying so I do get to keep my doula knowledge and skills in check, InshaAllah!

Speaking of knowledge-upgrading: Last January, I attended a follow-up Spinningbabies workshop for birth workers in Singapore conducted by Gail Tully herself. I got to bring baby Honeystar who was then barely 3 months old so that was good. It felt so nice to be ‘hands-on’ again after many months off physical doula work!

Practising side-lying release

Practising side-lying release

Last I met this lovely midwife was in Liverpool 2012!

Last I met this lovely midwife was in Liverpool 2012!

I am also happy to note that several new Muslim doulas have just gotten certified so our Muslim mothers will have even more choices now. Alhamdulillah for more gentle birth choices! Feel free to speak to me for a recommendation. 😉

And finally, my biggest project is still on hold: project Birth of Honeystar write-up! So many learning points to share that I’m unsure what to start with. Alhamdulillah baby Honeystar is now 8 months old – amazing how fast time flies!

My #2 and #3 - Rosebud & Honeystar

My #2 and #3 – Rosebud & Honeystar

These are my brief updates for now, just to let you know I’m still here. I’m available for contact, but preferably via Whatsapp please. InshaAllah, till next time! 😉

Wassalam

With Love and Thanks – Doula Hanani, Yaqyn Birth

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

Sneak peek – birth supply kit!

Deja vu! It was only less than 16 months ago that I prepped the same things for Rosebud’s birth. The last time, they were packed in an IKEA box (which I still have!). This time round I decided that a bigger, translucent and less flimsy box would be better for everyone, InshaAllah.

IMG_4107.JPG
What’s in there?
Basically there are the essentials to contain the ‘mess’ (contrary to popular belief, there’s very little mess in a home birth!) like plastic sheets, underpads, trash bags, towels, sheets and containers. Then there’s the baby stuff like diapers, clothes, socks, hats and blankets. There’s items for mummy too like disposables, sanitary napkins and soothing labour items like hot socks and massage oils. Other miscellaneous important things include my gyn/ob’s card in case of a hospital transfer, thermometer and flashlight. My midwife will be bringing her own birth kit (the medical stuff) on the birth day itself.

The things I’ve prepared above are for a land birth. For those having a home water birth, you’d need more stuff like extra plastic sheets and towels, pump and water thermometer. And of course the pool itself!

So when DH overheard all the hustle and bustle of me putting the kit together, he jokingly remarked, “You’re making me nervous!”. Lol… Well, actually I kind of am too myself 😊. But nervous is good, it makes you prepared, InshaAllah! I hope I’ve covered most things~ Allah help me, InshaAllah… Ameen~

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 😘

Coming up: Project Honeystar!

I thought for a long time on how best to approach this, and I even entertained the thought of keeping it a secret at first. Secret because I love to give an element of surprise to my loved ones, readers included!

After much thought, I realise it wouldn’t be fair to keep it from all of you for these 2 reasons:
1) Interested potential participants keep wondering why I’m always on a ‘break’
2) This is happy news, meant to be shared with others and for me to ask your prayers for, right! 🙂

And so, with that I am happy to announce that I am 8 months pregnant with baby #3, Alhamdulillah! I have chosen not to know the gender, so I am going to call him/her little Honeystar for now. Cos lil bub has been so sweet like honey and wonderful like a star!

IMG_3606.JPG
Naah, that’s not a real baby. That starfish blankie is cute, though!

I’ve been very busy with the big sister-to-be Rosebud aka Humaira’ (who’s just learnt to walk) and big brother Abang Husainy (who’s starting primary school next year) that I sometimes forget I am pregnant! But Honeystar has been so sweet giving me little kicks & nudges every so often as if to assure me “I’m alright, Ibu!“.

IMG_3605.JPG
Me in June 2014 @ 6 months. With the ever reliable Abang Husainy, my firstborn 🙂

Mohon du’a semuanya agar dipermudahkan urusan persalinan kelak InshaAllah! I seek your kind prayers for me to have a smooth and safe labour & birth, InshaAllah! Please forgive any mistakes and shortcomings on my part!

So will I be having another home birth? God willing, InshaAllah, please do make lots of du’a for me. I will do my best to keep everyone updated about this! 🙂

Lots of love,
Hanani, Yaqyn Birth

Handling the emotions

IMG_3350.PNG

Sometimes I get fun and quirky couples who will not hesitate to share their pregnancy laments, though most of them tongue-in-cheek. The other day, a husband quipped that he “…nak tengok bola pun tak boleh, wifey moody je, how?”, and that really made me chuckle.

Dear wives, having been pregnant multiple times myself, I truly understand the (sometimes unexplained) neediness and emotional outbursts, which I’m not spared of myself, hee! So here’s sharing with you a quick tip to help you get through the testing days/weeks/months.

IMG_3348.JPG
(Before that, quick note for the clueless husbands: yes, pregnant women can get very needy and even a 0.5 sec of inattention away from her can sometimes cause floodgates of tears to open. Don’t ask us why, its the hormones! 😉 These also include but not limited to other things like:

1) not giving her complete attention when she is telling you something (even though unintentional!)
2) forgetting to ask her what she had for breakfast/lunch/dinner. Or forgetting to ask if she had even eaten… Oops.
3) not getting the hints about her cravings she’s dropped to you (Dear wives, stop with the hints already. Just tell him what you want! 😂)
4) forgetting to get her what she asked you to (especially if its a craving!)
5) replying simply with an “eh?” when she complains to you about her backache, leg aches or sore anything
6) complaining that you had such a tiring day at work (unless you’ve already asked her about her day plus act completely interested about it – that, or unless she asks first).
7) …and many more.

And if you wish to focus on your soccer game at night, remember to get her something she likes before that! 💝🎁

My humble advice: do try and put in extra extra effort at this stage because it is not only for her, it is for your own good too. This is really not the time to convince your wife that she is strong and independent so she’ll manage well on her own (oh dear, no!). Remember the golden rule: A happy mummy makes a happy baby! And a happy baby will make a happy daddy kan? Sabar ye, tak lama… 9 bulan aje 😁

IMG_3349.GIF
That said, if you’re already the thoughtful husband who’s never committed any of the ‘offences’ above, I say Thank You Very Much on behalf of all pregnant mothers out there 👏. At this point, I’d also like to thank DH for being very supportive throughout my pregnancies, especially in the care of the younger ones, Alhamdulillah 😘).

Where was I?
Oh yes, back to the quick tip on how to deal with our own emotions as a pregnant mum.
So the next time you feel a potential emotional moment setting in, and your hubbies just don’t seem to get it, my advice is not to let your emotions get the best of you. Just tell yourself:

“Oh Allah, I gladly accept this test as long as dear hubby is contented (redha) with me during labour and birth”.

I promise you that this will instantly light up your heart, InshaAllah! Remember that you are never alone, Allah is always with you! 💞💖💞💖

IMG_3254.PNG

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! ❤

Home birth story of my little Rosebud

What took me so long to write the birth story of Rosebud? Frankly I wasn’t quite sure how to approach it. If you all know me by now, you’d know I love to insert learning points in my writings. I imagine that if I were to write the story properly, it would turn out to be a 10 page article and risk boring you all to death, lol!

Here is the (hopefully) brief version:
(Some other things happened before this, like how I walked for 3 hours at Giant Supermarket the day before and later had the ‘show’ etc, but I shall cut to the chase and get to the point):

3am of that Sat, 22 June: Woken up by a ‘familiar’ sensation – a mild energy surge that vibrated through the whole body.

3.30am: Woke Mr DH up and told him this may be it, but still not quite sure. Sensations were very mild and random. It could still take days, I thought. Alerted Amelie (my midwife) anyway but told her not to come yet. Went back to bed to try and sleep it out. The surges of energy continued to come in irregular waves.

5am: The surges didn’t dissipate with rest, in fact I could feel ‘more’ of it (stronger, longer and more frequent) so decided to let Amelie know that she should probably come soon.

I was off the bed at this point. Mr DH moved the sleeping Abang H up from the mattress to our bed as I needed as much floor space as I could have. I moved everywhere in the room. I leaned standing on the edge of my dresser, leaned sitting on the edge of my bed, went on all 4s on propped pillows on the floor, leaned against Mr DH etc. I was also very aware of my deep and long breathings which relaxed me a lot (thanks to all the breathing practice sessions I did, Alhamdulillah). Intermittently, I visited the loo every once in a while as I felt this tremendous pressure akin to wanting to do a bowel movement – but it was not. Mostly I just sat on the toilet bowl for comfort.

5.40am: Amelie reached my house and brought her birth stool which I was initially confident I wouldn’t need. With Abang H’s labour, I was contented just being on my hands and knees; but with Rosebud, the feeling was all pelvic floor pressure. I couldn’t even sit on the birth ball as the pressure was too much. So the birth stool with the hole was just perfect!

6am: Even though the surges began to get closer and more frequent, the intensity was still pretty low. At one point, I remember thinking “Oh dear, at this rate, I’m going to make everybody wait the whole day!” My mum came in the room to ask me if everything was okay at one point and I confidently replied that it will still be some time (“Lama lagi, Mak”). My sister asked me if I wanted her to take pictures, but I shook my head confident that there was nothing interesting to capture at that point, lol! (Yes, am regretting that decision very much now ;p)

For all this while, my wonderful midwife provided amazing support simply by just watching over us from the sideline. She respectfully left Mr DH and me alone (my choice) while giving us the energy and confidence without having to say so much. Mr DH is deeply grateful for her confidence boosters which empowered him so. He was a superb birth partner!! Even though he had zero experience having missed Abang H’s birth, he was a natural. He knew where to massage, what to say and what to support and constantly reminded me to zikir. He was always there at the right time and the right place.

7.45am: That feeling of wanting to clear ‘something’ out came more intensely. I told Mr DH and Amelie that I would be more comfortable sitting on the toilet bowl for a while. Amelie said go ahead. Again, nothing came out of course, but the feeling suddenly got more and more intense, taking my breath away.

8am – 8.12am: A period of primal intensity which I would never forget. Time warped at that point. A second felt like an hour. I was so inwardly focused I could remember every bit of what happened within me but not around me. I remember clinging on to Mr DH for life and gripping his shoulders (we were both standing). He told me I could do it. I sensed his confidence, and could feel the energy that passed through me passed through him too. At that moment, I let go (Bismillahi tawakkaltu ‘alaAllah), and let my instincts take over. I breathed Rosebud down in about 3 big (and loud) breaths. I remember simultaneously thinking “I could really feel her slide downwards with every breath!” Then I somehow ended sitting on the birth stool which Amelie had brought into the toilet (did not consciously do this – time/space warp! Lol) while pausing (as noted by Amelie) my breath as Rosebud’s head crowned (again, this is an instinctive reflex to minimize perineal trauma, so I did not have a tear but just a graze). She came so quickly after that, before I could gather myself to catch her. She slid pass the birth stool into Amelie’s hands and was immediately placed on me. It was most surreal!

(Waterbag broke a few moments before the head crowned. Mr DH was surprised that there was very little blood involved throughout)

After 8.12am: This deserves another long entry on its own really. In short, Amelie helped me to transfer myself to the mattress and I birthed the placenta about half an hour after that (8.50am). Rosebud’s cord was left unclamped for a good hour to let all the nutrients get to her. Amelie checked me for tears and retained membranes, then checked Rosebud, weighed her and made sure that her reflexes were in order. Alhamdulillah, everything was. Amelie left several hours later after feeling assured that both baby and I were doing well (upon Amelie’s advice, we brought Rosebud to have a proper check up with the peadiatrician only 2 days later, but that’s another lovely story I shall save for another day).

Oh, did I mention that Abang H slept throughout the whole experience and woke up to a happy Ibu cradling his new baby sister? As much as I had wanted him to share the experience, I was also glad that he missed it while still being near to us (same room). Amelie said that nature always has an explanation for when things happen, and I couldn’t agree more. Verily, Allah is indeed the Best of Planners!

So there you go, the not-so-brief version of Rosebud’s birth story. I’ve said so much, yet explained so little, really. I will continue to write learning points of my birth story to share, so keep reading this page! Meanwhile, here is a picture of my fantastic birth stool (picture courtesy of midwife Amelie – I totally forgot to take this photo when it was at home!)

Image

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

Unlearning some common beliefs about birth

Image

A traditional midwife uses a fetoscope to listen to the baby’s heartbeat
Pic courtesy of http://www.mcc.org

“Kenapa nak kena belajar dan ambil tahu tentang proses bersalin ni? Kan ni perkara fitrah, nenek moyang kita semua pun boleh buat…”

(Why do we need to learn and prepare about birth? Birth is natural and our ancestors could do it…)

Alhamdulillah if you have that thought in your mind! Positively it means that your mind is 50% prepped for birth, that you understand that this process is natural, and you are prepared to embrace what comes with it~!

However, understand that there is a lot of difference between the way our ancestors birthed and the ‘norm’ it is now… It was normal to birth at home then. It is not the norm now. It was normal to not have checks throughout pregnancy. It is not the norm now. It was normal to not be seen by the doctor. It is not the norm now. It was normal to receive your baby yourself (while the husband goes to look for a midwife). It is almost unthinkable now.

Point is, if a mother would like to have a natural and uninterrupted birth now, it would be more achievable if she learns to *unlearn* some things.

But first, the question: What happened along the way?

We have now been raised to believe that birth is safer in the hands of a trained medical professional (Well yes, for a highly risky pregnancy, but not for a healthy pregnancy, no). That is what we have been taught and now ingrained in our way of life. When it is time to birth, this thought, subconscious or not, will have an effect on our mental state during labour and birth.

Therefore, reading, preparing and studying about birth helps to undo some of those thoughts. Undo some practices and *unlearn* some beliefs.

Among some unlearning that we need to do:

1) Labour contractions are painful and have no purpose (They do have a purpose! To bring the baby down…)
2) Labour shouldn’t be long (A long labour is just a variation of normal)
3) We won’t be able to tolerate the pain (its definitely more painful if you have to lie down yes, but it shouldn’t be that way!)
4) We need to see a doctor to have a safe birth (doctors are trained for surgery. If you have a complication during pregnancy, then it is wise to get it checked by a doctor. If you don’t, then you’re better off seeing a midwife who is really the one who is trained in childbirth).
5) So many more!

Teach ourselves:
1) What every pregnant mum needs: good diet, exercise (lots of mobility during pregnancy), relaxation, good mental health, and have a good knowledge, info and guidance about birth from the right people.
2) Instead of spending on expensive monthly ultrasounds and doctor’s consultation fees, invest in a birth coach (doula), seeing a chiropractor, having a good yoga teacher and attending proper childbirth classes that teaches relaxation and breathing techniques (eg Hypnobirthing or Lamaze).
3) It is safe to birth in places other than the hospital (eg, birthing centre or home), and it is safe (and definitely more comfortable) to birth in another position other than lying down on your back.
4) Understand how birth works –  only then you will realise why contractions has a purpose, why breathing and relaxation techniques are important and why being mobile and upright helps!