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?”

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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!

-Hanani

Looking for a doula in Singapore

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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

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