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Sunday, May 21, 2017
The Importance of Relaxation in Pregnancy
 
 

Positivity and relaxation is incredibly important during pregnancy, in particular the latter trimester when there is a major development phase in the baby’s brain.  Studies have provided evidence that the hormonal signals produced by a pregnant woman transmit to the baby via the placenta and do impact upon the developing baby, in particular in terms of brain development.  Research shows that chronic levels of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol have a negative impact and our feel good hormones, endorphins such as oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine, have a positive effect.  Margot Sutherland, author of the Science of Parenting believes  ‘high levels of stress in pregnancy is one of the risk factors for depression and vulnerability to drug seeking later in life’.  Further research suggests that babies exposed to high levels of stress during pregnancy tend to be more difficult to calm and soothe.  


From the maternal perspective thoughts very much influence how we perceive a situation and can of course affect our physical wellbeing. It makes sense that chronic stress of course has a bearing on the wellbeing of the pregnancy woman.   The more positive your thoughts, the more positive you will feel and react to situations.  All aspects of our life can benefit from a positive outlook, relationships, job, health and our self confidence is also boosted.  Life is of course full of ups and downs but if we feel more confident and positive we cope and approach stressful events far more effectively.  The same goes during pregnancy and the early days of parenthood.


Realistically, stress is very much a part of every day life for most of us.  In our hectic worlds the pressure placed upon pregnant women is immense. Society expects us to continue to balance the demands of work with physically growing another human being at the same time. On the whole we are very good at doing this, we carry on dealing with work pressures and performing at a high level and those of our day to day lives despite the enormous ongoing physical and hormonal changes occurring throughout our pregnancy.  However, relaxation is important if not crucial to the overall wellbeing of us and our unborn child.  A pro-active approach to relaxation during the second and third trimester can truly aid our ability to cope with and overcome stress and challenge, therefore providing the unborn child with the best possible start in life.  


Studies show:


  • Relaxation has a positive impact on our emotional state and our ability to deal with everyday challenges including those associated with pregnancy.
  • Pregnancy outcomes improve with fewer admissions to the hospital, fewer obstetric complications, longer gestation, reduction of caesarean sections, and fewer postpartum complications. 
  • Higher birth-weights.
  • Relaxation is associated with reductions in maternal physiological including lower blood pressure and the release of physical tension.
  • Relaxation during pregnancy is associated with positive effects that include regulation of emotional states and physiology. 
  • Relaxation is also associated with positive effects both on foetal behaviour and on obstetric and neonatal outcomes. 


Pregnancy, birth and new parenthood are an amazing yet challenging time of our lives.  The excitement and challenge are a road of emotional peaks and troughs for most.  The ease this path we need to not only be supported and nurtured by those around us but also by ourselves, acknowledging that time out and relaxation is not a treat but necessary.   This gives us the best possible experience and our babies the best possible start.  All pregnant mothers deserve the chance to grow and develop their baby in calm relaxed and happy environment, both physically and emotionally and this directly impacts upon the unborn baby and their future wellbeing.


At huddle & bliss we are passionate about mother and baby wellbeing and have used our experiences and extensive training in this field to provide a range of classes, courses and sessions to support local parents and their babies.


Our Parenthood Preparation & Baby Confidence Course is a great way of discovering more about this and other important subjects to prepare and empower you on the new role ahead.  Our Pregnancy Relaxation Courses are ideal for putting the art of relaxation into practice and nurturing yourself and your unborn baby.  We have a offer on until midnight tonight when both courses are booked.  To find out more or ask any questions then please do not hesitate to get in touch by emailing classes@huddleandbliss.com or messaging the page.



References: (DiPietro, Costigan, Nelson, Gur-ewitsch, & Laudenslager, 2008b; DiPietro, Costigan, & Gurewitsch, 2003).J Perinat Neonatal Nurs. 2012 Oct-Dec;26(4):296-306. doi: 10.1097/JPN.0b013e31823f565b. Blossom & Berry.



Sunday, May 14, 2017
The Myth of The Due Date
 
 

I think we are encouraged way too much to focus on our ‘due date’.  The minute our baby is born before this point we deem them to be ‘early’….the minute they are not born on the due date they are ‘late’.  In fact only 4% of babies are born on their due date and only 70% are born within 10 days of it.  The variability of births is an amazing 37 days!  Why is it even called 'due date' that in itself creates the belief that this is when baby should be born.  I think VETA would be a better term...vague estimated date of arrival!  All 'due dates' are estimated from the date of your last period, in turn providing the estimate for when you ovulated and there is no way we all ovulate at the same time as everyone else or the same time every month.  We don't really know how long sperm survive in the female body after male ejaculation...so let's be honest it is very much a rough guess at the very best!


Yet this pre-occupation with due date continues and creates so much frustration and expectation.  I have been there, with the added confusion over the due date itself.  I suppose it is only natural.  At this point we are tired physically, not sleeping well, uncomfortable and just want to meet our baby that we have been nurturing within our body for 280 days.  But I do think more could be done in terms of raising awareness by midwives and health professionals in respect of the fact that the due date is a very rough estimate as to when your baby will put in an appearance.  I can remember analysing every twinge, pain and feeling in the hope that it was the ‘start’.  I did the raspberry leaf tea, curry, long walks, sex and birthing ball….all to no avail.  Working with hundreds of mums-to-be over the last few years I really believe now that for the most part that babies simply come when they are ready!  No amount of attempted manipulation on our part will instigate labour…apart from of course medical induction.  Again in my experience….I would avoid this if at all possible.  Sometimes it is necessary for medical reasons but I do believe it is far better to let nature take is course if at all possible.  We understand so little sometimes it's best to go with the flow and let life take care of itself.  If you are waiting for your arrival...just remember that they are not necesssarily late...just doing their final growing and preparations for the immense event of entering the outside world.


This is mind....glad to say my niece is finally on her way....apparently 8 days late....or simply just not ready to put in an appearance till today...or perhaps even tomorrow.


Sherry x


Source
  1. A.M. Jukic, D.D. Baird, C.R. Weinberg, D.R. McConnaughey, A.J. Wilcox. Length of human pregnancy and contributors to its natural variationHuman Reproduction, 2013 DOI: 10.1093/humrep/det297

Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Why is touch so important to infants?
 
 

Touch is one of our fundamental senses.  Our sense of touch develops in the womb. More so than the other senses.  Babies in the womb see light and dark, their hearing is somewhat muffled, their sense of smell and taste are inactive as they are submerged in amniotic fluid.  However cradled in their mother’s body they have a strong sense of touch which is fully developed even before birth. At even just 8 weeks a foetus will move away from a probing touch during examination.  At first in the womb they are rocked and constantly floating and as baby grows they experience a much firmer hold and touch from the muscles of the mother’s body.  The unborn baby is is very used to constant touch and stimulation from the safe environment of the womb.

During the course of labour and birth itself the baby experiences strong, sustained and rhythmic massage from the uterine contractions.  Contractions and pushing provide strong stimulation to the baby’s skin and peripheral nervous systems preparing them for their arrival into the outside world.  Babies are born unable to move or fend for themselves.  It is therefore reasonable to accept that they should be held and cradled by their parent for much of their early life.

There are studies that have shown that the majority of parents in the western world only touch their baby whilst attending to some need the baby has and rarely touch purely for communication and  engagement reasons.  Studies now reflect the fact that we should be encouraged to touch, hold and cradle our babies 'just because'.  This can have a greatly positive impact on the parental child relationship and overall emotional and physical wellbeing for both.

It is often forgotten that the skin is itself an organ, in fact it makes up 18% of our body and is the largest sensory organ that we have.  The skin protects the entire body from many external things.  Via our nervous system it alerts our brain to our body temperature, protects us from foreign substances and infections.  The skin provides our other body parts and organs with physical layer protection too.  
Giving and receiving touch enhances the social and physical being of us all.  Touch, holding and engagement with a baby contribute greatly to the child’s social, mental and physical development and their awareness of themselves.  Touch promotes a strong, loving and close relationship between parent and child. Many children who have not had ample physical and emotional attention are at higher risk for behavioural, emotional and social problems as they grow up.  

The action of touch promotes the release of the hormone oxytocin which is a natural  feel- good chemical produced in the body.  Oxytocin is sometimes known as the ‘hug drug’ or the 'love drug' and is responsible for many positive actions in the body.  There have been a number of articles recently confirming that a cuddle really does help! It has a calming and pain relieving effect which is extremely useful when trying to settle a baby that is suffering as a result of teething or colic.  Oxytocin is associated with lower stress levels, better sleep patterns and therefore an improved immune system. The hormone is also linked to bonding, in fact a mother’s body creates large amounts of oxytocin at the time of birth which aids with natural maternal bonding.  Breastfeeding is also known to significantly increase production of this hormone.

Baby massage directly aids the production of this important hormone in baby and this can greatly assist a parent in overcoming many common causes of discomfort and distress in a baby.  Regular massage can also help with the development of co-ordination and balance.  Babies that receive regular touch and engagement from their carer are generally more relaxed and have better quality and longer periods of sleep.  During massage the digestion system is stimulated which can result in less colic or constipation.  In this instance massage can be used to both ease symptoms and work as a preventative measure.  The action of massage stimulates the respiration and immune systems.  

Touch can literally communicate many words and feelings.  On a personal level I recall a very difficult and traumatic time in my life.  A neighbour from my village, who I do not know overly well, used to always give me a knowing look and a quick gentle squeeze to my arm.  It meant so much to me, conveyed so much and gave me such strength.  Nothing was ever said, just the look and the touch.  It truly helped me and gave me a boost when things were particularly bad.  

A number of studies have been carried out regarding touch and the effect it has.  In each case the outcome has proven that touch is essential to the overall well being of individuals.  Medical practitioners worldwide endorse the undisputed benefits provided by touch and consequently baby massage.  If we lose our other senses our body is capable of compensating to overcome difficulties and ensure survival.  However there is no compensation for loss of touch and humans do not live or survive well without it. 

 


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

What to wear in labour? By Sarah Mees
 
 

I am the sort of person who loves to be prepared, probably a bit of a control freak in some ways. But being organised makes me calmer. When I was pregnant with my first child I was extremely nervous about labour and birth. I naively did my birth plan thinking that this would give me some element of control over the proceedings! As I began to prepare my hospital labour bag I asked myself what should I wear? To me the most important things were comfort and discretion. Oh I know experienced mums say that you don’t worry about such things during labour and just put an old t-shirt on, but that just isn’t me…and you may well relate to that too! I personally felt that to be as relaxed as possible I needed to be a) comfortable and b) be covered somewhat!

I looked at maternity nightdresses, considered a baggy t-shirt and pj bottoms – but these just didn’t tick all my boxes. I wanted something sleeveless so that I could remain cool and a midwife friend said sleeveless was best as it made it easier for medical staff to take your blood pressure etc. I wanted the option of breastfeeding immediately without exposing my entire body and I wanted to be able to be intimately examined without showing the world my wares!

Hence my excitement at discovering the huddle & bliss labour & birthing shirt! Perfection! No sleeves, unbuttons down to your tummy and has this amazing scoop at the front. At first I thought the scoop was a little odd but when I was pacing up and down, sitting on a birthing ball or being examined I got it entirely. One of the best things was the fact that the birthing shirt is made from 100% cotton and is so soft, breathable and has lots of give! My midwife even asked me where I got it as she thought it was such a good idea. She now recommends the labour & birthing shirt to all her mums-to-be. It was so comfortable to wear, I restrained myself from wearing it before I actually had my baby, although I was extremely tempted. I wore it at home for several weeks after the birth – with leggings it was a great cover up and easy to feed my baby in. With hindsight I wish I had bought 2! One of my experienced mummy friends has just used the birthing shirt for her 4th child and admits to wishing she had one with the other 3. So the answer to the question ‘What to wear in labour?’ is a huddle & bliss labour & birthing shirt ☺ Sarah x






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