The Birth of Ahmad Ali

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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.

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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. :’)

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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! 😀
-Hanani

How to make a hot sock

ricesock

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.

Tips:

  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~

-Hanani

 

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. 🙂

Can doulas work remotely?

If you hadn’t known yet, I am not living in Singapore at the moment. From Sept this year, to Sept next year (2012), I will be in a lovely place known as Leeds in the UK. DH is pursuing his studies at the Uni. of Leeds and brought me and DS along. 😀

Settling down had been easy, Alhamdulillah, thanks to our previous experience in Aus and NZ. This time round we’re wiser; we didn’t bring the whole house with us. I’ve made a lot of lovely friends, mostly Malaysian postgrads also from the university, and they have been very kind in helping us get the hang of things in Leeds.

Work-wise: my doula work from Singapore came with me to the UK and I’m very happy to announce that not one, not two, not three, but *four* of my mothers had a great birth experience with me as their ‘remote doula’. Watsapp is an amazing invention! Now, I had actually recommended them to get a different doula who can support them in Sg, but they reported that they had more confidence in me even though I’ll be far away. Alhamdulillah! *big smile* (I don’t recommend this though, for a guaranteed better experience, it is recommended that you get a doula in your country who can come to you and give you back massages and see you face to face, etc).

I told my mothers that “for every inch of confidence that you have in me, you must place the same amount of confidence in your birthing body and allow your baby to birth with zero or minimal medical intervention”. They listened and laboured in the comforts of their home with their DHs till the very last moments and spent just a short time in the hospital before they birthed! One first time mother was even ready to push as soon as she reached the hospital doors! SubhanaAllah, when they later told me their birth stories, I couldn’t help feeling their joy and almost feeling like I was there with them. But no, all the hard work and 100% credits go to the mother and her DH, for she had faith and confidence, and trusted her body to give birth exactly as she willed. All I did was to add that extra push of confidence to empower her. And Alhamdulillah, job done!

So you see, you *can* overcome your labour contractions at home yourself (or with DH) if you would learn to trust that Allah has designed your body for this amazing thing called childbirth. If you have had a healthy pregnancy, there is no need to panic when labour starts… you will be prepared… *breathe deep*…. and you will know how to take them in stride… *move your hips*… one contractions at a time… *visualise your baby coming down the birth canal*… and before you know it, your baby will be in your hands!

I’ve started a facebook page because I like to post links from other gentle birth sites, so please click ‘like’ and join me there. At the same time, I will also try to post updates here from time to time.

So what do you think? Can a remote doula work as effectively as a personal doula who comes to you? My honest opinion is she can’t, a ‘live’ doula can do so much more, ie: give you massages, give your DH a break, remind you to hydrate yourself, remind you to breathe, relax, loosen, to drink, to pee, etc. But if all you need is a little ‘push’ or confidence booster via watsapp, then I’ll always be here to help!

Warmly,
The Sg doula in UK

Of the Rebozo technique and our traditional midwives

Last week, I attended a very useful doula sharing session at Fourtrimesters. Doula Catherine shared some useful tricks she learnt from a birth conference she attended in Cairns last year. We took turns practising it on each other. What do you get when you combine 10 sister doulas practising labour techniques on each other – lots of fun and laughter of course!

It wasn’t my first time hearing about the Rebozo technique, but it was definitely my first time trying it first hand. It didn’t strike me at first how familiar this is all supposed to be to me – that my own Malay traditional midwives practised this since 100 years ago. I didn’t realise this until I asked my next client if she would be willing to let me try it on her. Her immediate sms reply – “Is it like lenggang perut?”

Lenggang perut or swinging the belly has been a traditional practise in some clusters of our Malay community, typically the Javanese. Like the Rebozo technique, it makes use of a long piece of cloth or shawl (the mexicans used rebozos, the javanese used batik cloth) and when placed under the lying mother’s bottom or hip area, the cloth extends like two long arms. The midwife or doula will stand over the mother and pull the cloth right and left to swing the belly.

How is this helpful?
This technique can be done throughout pregnancy to encourage optimal feotal positioning. It is also useful to turn a posterior baby if done during late pregnancy.

The modern Rebozo (click on pic for original source)

vs The traditional batik cloth

Risks of early induction

During a recent meet with a potential client, I was told that her doctor had given her a choice to be induced on the 11th of January 2011, so the baby can have a ‘nice’ birthdate of 11/01/11 about a week short of her EDD. Needless to say I was taken aback (but didn’t show my reaction of course). Shocked also because she talked so casually about it and seemed to be considering that offer.

Now, I am not judging any mothers who opted for induction. I have had several mothers myself who were either induced or labour augmented because they were overdue or had other high risk medical reasons. That is a different thing. What I am saddened about is when doctors make early induction offers to mothers who have had a good and healthy pregnancy, and make it sound as if it is the most natural thing to do. Now remember that these first time mothers know no better because their doctors don’t really discuss the medical risks that entail an induction.

So Bismillah, for my community’s sake, here’s why you should try to avoid an early induction as much as you can help it…

– You might think that there’s no difference between birthing a baby at 39 weeks and 40 weeks (especially when you’re so tired by that time and all you want is to get the baby out!), but just an extra week of baby being in the uterus can make a significant impact on baby’s lung and brain capacity. Now don’t you want the best headstart for your baby?

– Last few weeks of pregnancy are most critical to baby’s lung and brain development. Some complications that may arise for elective deliveries between 37-39 weeks include among others: increased NICU admissions, increased feeding problems (difficult to establish breastfeeding) and increased respiratory distress.

– I’d like to touch on pitocin (synthetic oxytocin) – the drug they give you to induce contractions – but that would take another whole blog entry. Briefly put, this articifial hormone, while it mimics your own, is very different from naturally produced oxytocin from your body because it does not cross your blood-brain barrier. Why is this important? When a contraction gets intense, natural oxytocin crosses your blood-brain barrier so another ‘pain-relieving’ hormone known as endorphins (also known as happy hormones) can be released as your body’s natural pain-killers. But with pitocin, you don’t get this same dose of endorphins to counter the pain and intensity, so most of the time, the mother will want an epidural~

InsyaAllah we will discuss about epidural soon! Comments are most welcome 🙂