Our professionals give you the lowdown on birth and beyond.
Essential Advice For Expressing
There are plenty of times when mums might want or need to express their breast milk for their little one. It could be to feed a baby in NICU, allow you to feed your twins, give your partner the chance to feed your baby, or just to give you some much-deserved time off breastfeeding.
It may take your body a little bit of time to get used to the breast pump, so don’t worry if your first expressing session isn’t as fruitful as you would like. Here are some tips to help you get the most from your expressing sessions:
• Try expressing from the left while you feed from the right, or vice versa. The skin-to-skin contact and act of baby feeding will stimulate more milk to flow.
• If you are expressing away from your baby, have a photo or an item of their worn clothing to hand, or something else that reminds you of them. This will also make
it easier for you.
• Try to express at a time when you know your baby will be settled in between feeds – many mums find this to be mid-morning or
• Your body is clever and works with you to ensure that baby will always have enough milk. Expressing will not affect your supply, or use up milk for later feeds!
• A single pumping tip – when you pump one breast at a time, switch from one side to the other several times.
• Massage your breasts before and occasionally during pumping to encourage your let-down and milk flow.
• Once you have expressed your milk, you can store it in the fridge for three to five days, or in the freezer for six months. Once removed from the freezer, use within 24 hours. Make sure you use it all in chronological order.
• Wait until you and your baby have established breastfeeding (about two to three weeks) if you want to express for your partner to feed baby. However, if you find that your baby isn’t feeding well or you can’t breastfeed, you can exclusively express to support your milk production from birth.
The Fourth Stage Of Labour
What is the fourth stage of labour?
This is the time period beginning immediately after baby is born, and after the placenta has been delivered. It can last for six weeks.
Your body is preparing to return to its pre-pregnancy condition, hormonally.
Will I notice any changes?
During this period you may experience the odd uterine contraction as your uterus prepares to return to normal. You may also occasionally feel emotional, this can also happen when your milk starts to come in (around 96 hours after the placenta has been delivered).
Is there anything I should look out for or be aware of?
I suggest to all my clients that they are aware of why they may feel weepier on some days more than others. This is totally normal and nothing to be worried about.
At any time is there a need to worry?
If at any stage you feel you are finding it hard to cope with your emotions and are aware that you are crying a lot more than you were, or if you feel you have experienced a traumatic birth and you keep going over this (or other things) in your mind, then I would suggest you have a talk with your GP, midwife or health visitor.
How to build resilience
Being a mum is the toughest gig on the planet – and the most rewarding, of course. But we need tons of resilience. You can’t remove any of the stresses, and unless you have an entourage of domestic helpers, you can’t reduce your workload. All you can do is find ways to deal with the daily onslaught.
Start with what you eat. We need three basic building blocks for resilience: energy, strong willpower and good health. Nutrition forms the basis of all of three. Most importantly, avoid blood-sugar highs and lows. Eat breakfast, ideally a protein-packed meal such as eggs or porridge, within 30 minutes of waking. Eat three regular meals a day, don’t skip food. Being hungry is the number one enemy of resilience. Eat lentils and protein with vegetables for lunch, and similar for dinner. Steer clear of sugar, fizzy drinks (unless it’s the odd champagne or San Pellegrino!) and only eat white carbs as treats.
Secondly, sleep. I know – if you have a newborn, park this goal for now. However, sleep must be prioritised if you want to feel strong and capable. Lack of sleep affects everything – our ability to have willpower, to regulate stress hormones, our immune system and even weight gain. Don’t ever have a screen of any kind in your bedroom (iPhones, iPads, TVs) and don’t look at your phone or laptop for at least one hour before bed. This one change can be transformative.
Lastly, perspective. It’s hard to be sad or angry when you’re grateful, but it’s easy to forget how lucky we are. Every night before you go to sleep, or during your morning shower, list all the things you’re grateful for and think of those who would give their right arm to have a life like yours.
Why is your first pregnancy ultrasound so important?
The first ultrasound scan is an exciting day in a lot of people’s lives. It is difficult to forget the first time you hear your baby’s heartbeat. All of a sudden, all the stories other mothers had shared with you become real and personal. It is more than just a positive pregnancy test – it’s the realisation that there is a small life growing and growing. When you see your baby’s nose, you’ll start comparing his or her nose to your relatives’ noses. Then you’ll begin to see baby’s hands and feet, the heart and stomach, the eyes, the face. It is all very exciting.
When will I see more of my baby?
At the anomaly scan at 20 weeks you will see your baby in a lot more detail. If the baby is in a good position we will surprise you with a 3D or 4D image of the baby’s face. Many mothers feel that this is one of the most important bonding experiences they get before their baby is born. Feeling the movements is one aspect, but seeing the face of your baby for the first time in colour is very special.
When should I consult my doctor or midwife about having a scan?
• When you have discovered that you are pregnant, so you can have your first pregnancy scan and consultation.
• To arrange a fetal anomaly scan between 18 and 21 weeks.
• If you feel you need reassurance.
What should we be doing in the first six weeks post birth?
There can be a lot of confusion over what is ok to do in the first six weeks post having a baby, and many think they shouldn’t do anything for six weeks and then can go straight back into exercise.
Did you know that the NHS and Department of Health advise women to get moving as soon as possible and that there’s lots we can be doing earlier than 6 weeks?
The postnatal edition of The Bump Plan features advice for those first six weeks, which no other postnatal plan offers (often due to insurance reasons).
Hollie will take you through the anatomy of the body, breathwork and pelvic floor exercises in the ‘Recovery Phase’, all of which has been signed off by experts and will prepare you for when you can begin to gently exercise after your six week check in with the doctor.
Hollie has explained what we should and can be doing in the first six weeks post-baby:
With The Bump Plan Postnatal we encourage new mothers to start in the Recovery Phase of the plan. In this phase we work on basic movement routines, that will help get new mother moving safely whilst also understanding the basic principles they will need for Phase One. Members will be split into either the Vaginal Birth Recovery Phase, or the Caesarean Recovery Phase.
We will be encouraging any women who join on day one after giving birth to rest their bodies in that first week for vaginal birth, and first two-three weeks for Caesarean birth. They can use the opportunity to watch the educational tutorials in their plan, and learn what has happened to their body while they were pregnant, what happens during a Caesarean or Vaginal birth, how we breathe, what our abdominal are and how do they work etc.
We’re using that first week to allow them, if they want to, to start thinking about exercise. They can also familiarise themselves with the Education Hub too which covers topics such as postnatal sex, birth trauma, newborn sleep and much more.
Then, when they’re ready, they can start doing things like breath work. When you’re pregnant, your uterus grows right up towards your diaphragm, so when you’re pregnant it’s difficult to breathe effectively. When we breathe effectively, we naturally stimulate our abdominals and pelvic floor.
Therefore, sitting and relearning how to breathe is a harmless way of starting to bring some stimulation back to the muscles of the core. Breath work is vital for healing, reducing stress levels and improving pelvic floor function.
We can also start getting the pelvic floor back on track. If you’ve had a vaginal birth, your pelvic floor has lengthened to allow the passage of the baby. Some people may notice some trauma to their pelvic floor. Equally if you’ve had any tearing during birth, pelvic floor exercises bring blood to the area which can help with healing.
If you had a Caesarean birth, you’ve still had 9-10 months of carrying a baby which is really demanding on the pelvic floor. Your pelvic floor also communicates with the rest of the core, so doing these exercises can help to bring a bit more awareness back to your core.
The third thing you can do is deep core work. Every time you move, cough or pick up your baby, you’re already using your core. Therefore, by bringing more awareness to your core, you aren’t doing anything you’re not already doing. We want to gently bring awareness and strength back to the core by stimulating it gradually.
Some people will feel ready before six weeks to move on from the Recovery Phase and into Phase One, which starts to include more functional movement into the routines. However, we imagine most people are going to want to wait until that six-week check-up so that if they do have any concerns they can speak to their doctor.