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This blog is for sharing interesting information about yoga, pregnancy, birth, parenting and anything else I think you might be interested in!


I will also post related local events here.

By Tessa of, Jul 8 2017 05:20PM

Many congratulations to Jennie and Craig on the arrival of their baby son! Here is his birth story, which beautifully illustrates how when you know all the options availabe to you, you can make positive decisions as birth takes a very different direction than planned and still feel in control. Make sure to read the tips that Jennie has given you at the end of the story. There are lots of organisations out there that will support you in getting the best care for you and your baby.

Jennie says "After having made all the arrangements to have a home birth for our first baby, inevitably our 'plans' went out the window when at 36 weeks we established Noah was in the Frank breech postion (folded like a V shape). The home birth team were no longer able to support me and RBH more generally would only offer me an elective caesarean due to their staff's lack of experience and confidence in delivering breech babies naturally. 

I tried everything (spinning babies, moxibustion, acupuncture, ECV, visualisation) between 36 weeks and his birth to get Noah to turn but he is clearly stubborn like his mum and lazy like his dad as he didn't budge a centimetre. 

Being the dog with a bone that I am, I researched all our options and quickly established there was no reason we could not attempt for a vaginal breech birth (it was as safe, Noah was in best position, etc) except finding the care provider with the right experience to support us. After a 3 week battle with NHS trusts we got the agreement that the John Radcliffe would accept the transfer of our care to their specialist breech team who support VBBs.

I met a couple of their amazing staff for my transfer appointment on 29th June and clarified our plan, and I strongly suspect that it was after this meeting and knowing things were sorted out that my body relaxed enough for Noah to feel safe enough to make his way.

So, Saturday early hours of the morning i began to have 'tightenings' that were like strong period pains. I noticed them but assumed that it was just Braxton Hicks upping their anti. I attended yoga and a baby first aid course that day without any real issue. Then by 9pm Saturday I was getting suspicious as the tightenings were coming regularly (approx every 6 minutes for 40 secs) and were a bit stronger so I used some breathing techniques at times. I began to time them, and then accepted I was perhaps in early stages of labour (and had been all Saturday).

Sunday morning I suspected things had died off a bit, as tightenings were more sporadic. However low and behold at 8.30am I felt a pop whilst laying in bed and when I stood up my waters had broken! By 9.30am contractions were every 5 mins and stronger so I put my TENS machine on and we set off for Oxford (midwives didnt want to delay me coming in with him being breech).

When I arrived at the John Radcliffe contractions were every 2-3 minutes, and a continued to labour for approx another 8 hours. I only ever used the TENS machine and a birth pool for pain relief and I put this down to the breathing techniques, birth affirmations and education I had learnt and practised during pregnancy both at yoga and antenatal classes. The midwives made comments throughout my labour about how calm and in control I was, just breathing through contractions. I was very quiet and 'in the zone'.

It was funny as at various points in labour I could hear Tessa reminding me to keep breathing, imagine the golden thread/rope/chain, to keep jaw lose, and commenting things like "I trust my body and my baby to work together", which I really believed. I stayed mostly kneeling or on all fours, as it helped reserve energy but also meant I could do a lot of rocking, swaying and almost 'dancing' with my hips.

I had a really hands off labour with no examinations or interventions until the very end, when it was confirmed I was 10cm dilated but despite everyone's best efforts (and all my energy) Noah would just not come down into the birth canal. They could see his buttocks appearing when i contracted but then he would disappear again. After over an hour of my body pushing for him, we all agreed that something was stopping him from coming down and that a c-section was the right option (assisted delivery not an option with breech babies). 

I was lucky to have an amazing consultant and midwives who respected and advocated for all my wishes for a more gentle c-section, so Noah was eventually born at 7.39pm with delayed cord clamping, immediate skin to skin (where he stayed for the whole op), no cleaning, minimal noise, lowered screen so we saw his sex for ourselves, and not being taken to be weighed until I was all stitched up. 

Noah is gorgeous and I have absolutely no regrets about the way his birth ended up. The fight at the end of pregnancy was worth it as the whole labour was an amazing, positive experience and not one to be scared of.

The morals of this (very long) birth story that I wanted to share are:

-do your research.

-fight for your wishes as it's your body, your birth and your baby.

-accept that there is no 'right' way to birth your baby.

-your baby and body know what they are doing, and sometimes it is not aligned with what you may want! However, trust them.

-put in serious commitment to learning and practicing breathing techniques if you want to avoid other types of pain relief.

-listen to Tessa, she knows her stuff!! Keep breathing, keep calm and keep moving."

What an amazing story. 'Gentle caesarean' is increasingly being recognised as a mum- and baby-friendly approach, including the practice of seeding the microbiome (see article in the Guardian here, an article by the Positive Birth Movement here, and in Huffington Post with links to the Microbiome movie here) .

I can't wait to meet Noah! What a super cutie :)

By Tessa of, Nov 15 2015 01:41PM

Your microbiome consists of trillions of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microscopic organisms that line vital body parts such as your intestines, mouth, and skin. They have evolved with us to help us function optimally. The microbiome plays a role in digestion, regulation of your immune system, disease prevention, would healing, gut lining protection, appetite control, brain development and even your emotions. You don't really want to mess it up!

Newborn being weighed after birth
Newborn being weighed after birth

Your developing fetus is almost completely sealed off from your microbes in the womb. However, just before birth, a pregnant woman's vagina acquaires new bacterial species that would normally live in the gut. These species then come into contact with the baby's skin, eyes and mouth as it passes through the birth canal during a vaginal birth. The birth canal also supplies newborns with the bacteria Lactobacillus, which hleps babies digest milk and develops the immune system. This sets up the newborn's own microbiome for a healthy start in life. In contrast, a baby that is born by a caeserean birth does not come into contact with all of the same species and is more likely to have the surgeon's bacteria and ones prevalent in hospitals such as E coli. As a result then have a slightly heightened risk of developing allergies, gut infections and diabetes, although more research is needed into the longer term effects of missing out on this transferral of the mother's microbiome. Some research has indicated that those born by caeserean have a 20% increased chance of developing asthma than those born vaginally.

The important part of this blog is that you know there is something you can do about it! This microbial 'birthday suit' can be passed to the baby even when s/he arrives via a caeserean birth. Research trials are looking at the effects of placing a gauze inside the vagina an hour before surgery, then putting it in a sterile pot. Immediately after the birth, the gauze is wiped over the baby's mouth, head and rest of the body. If I was to have a third child, I would do this in the eventuality of a caeserean birth while we wait for the research results. Research supports the importance of the microbiome and I wouldn't wait for it to become standard procedure before acting! With a quarter of babies being born by caeserean in the UK, I'm sure that this will become standard procedure in a couple of years time. So another thing for your hospital bag: gauze and a sterile pot, and a willing partner to help you swab the baby afterwards. If you are having a planned caeserean, you could also speak to your consultant about 'seeding' the baby's microbiome.

I haven't read anywhere about the effects of induction on the microbiome, but I wonder whether inducing the expectant mother before the baby is ready to come could also lead to a reduction in the species transferred. If a woman's vagina acquires a new bacterial species just before birth, to interfer with the natural timing of birth could mean that these bacteria aren't present when an induced baby descends through the birth canal. Of course, sometimes inductions are necessary, but other times I wonder whether we should trust the process and not the hospitals' timeframes for different stages of birth.

Another important aspect of the newborn's microbiome is created through breast milk. Breast milk supplies a baby with a healthy dose of bacteria. New research has found that 10% of every woman's breast milk contains complex carbohydrates that a baby can't digest. So why is it there? Researchers speculate that it is there specifically to fortify the baby's microbiome bacteria. The microbial composition of breast milk changes over time, and is shaped by the mother's weight and whether the baby was born vaginally or via a caeserean birth. Any breast milk will help create the newborn's microbiome, so giving only the colostrum will help. However, if an infant has antibiotics, for example for an ear infection, this can diminish the species in the microbiome, which breast milk can help repopulate.

Pictures of the diversity and amount of species show the difference between babies born vaginally and breastfed, those born vaginally and formula fed, those born via caeserean and breastfed, and those via caeserean and forumla fed. Some cite the rise of caeserean and exclusive formula feeding as contributing to an epidemic of long term ill health. This blog is not written as a judgement on any of these practices, but to raise awareness of the consequences (that are only just becoming apparent) and how we can tackle them.

I come back to what I always say in class: the female body is truly amazing! As we recognise how amazing she is, we can give her a helping hand when necessary.

For more information (and all the evidence to back the above up): see and

I would also recommed you watch the MicroBirth movie, which is available on FMTV free on the 10 day trial.

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