What a Pooping Unicorn taught me about birth

Have you seen the video for the Squatty Potty?  It features a unicorn pooping rainbow ice cream and a lot of talk about your sphincter.

My 7-year-old daughter LOVES this video (Poops + unicorns = hilarity).  Shout out to my dad for sending it to us.  I've now had to listen to my daughter talking about unicorn poops for a week.

Did you know that our bodies were designed to squat?  And not just for pooping.

My 94-year-old grandmother squats when gardening and sometimes just to hang out.  She was born in Indonesia, and like many other Asian countries, squatting is considered a normal part of everyday life.  

When I took my yoga teacher training, squatting was an essential part of our practice.  Poses like Garland (Malasana) encourage the hips to open and is always taught in my prenatal yoga classes.

How does this relate to birth?

According to Evidence Based Birth, "For women without an epidural, pushing in an upright position is associated with a decrease in the risk of episiotomies, vacuum and forceps-assisted deliveries, and fetal heart rate abnormalities, an increase in the risk of second-degree tears, and a possible increase in the risk of having blood loss more than 500 mL"

That's pretty great news!  But it's not just for pushing.  Squatting lengthens the pelvic muscles and can actually provide some relief while labouring.  

What about if you have an epidural?

The great news about epidurals is that it numbs pain and sensation and allows mothers to rest.  The not so great news is that it restricts movement (since it's not safe to rely on your legs due to loss of sensation).  So during labour, rest, and when it comes to pushing, your partner and/or doula can help you into an assisted squat using a rebozo or squatting bar (if the facility you are giving birth in has one).  And studies have shown that women with epidurals who remain upright in the second stage of labour can shorten labour (ask us about the Queen of Sheba throne!)

As birth doulas, we know squat.  And now, I'm going to get some ice cream.

What position did you use to birth?  Tell us in the comments below!

I'm an older mom

I was 35 when I found out I was pregnant for the first time.  I had been married for 2 years and had no intentions of starting a family for most of those 2 years. 

At my annual physical, my doctor asked me about when I planned to have children.  I said, "oh you know, maybe at 40?"  I mean, there were lots of celebrities who were having babies over 40, and I was not feeling ready yet.  I sometimes wondered if I even wanted kids.  I grew up surrounded by kids - being the youngest child of much older siblings, I became an aunt at the ripe old age of 6.  (I have 9 nieces and nephews).  So it's not like I had a lack of babies in my life. 

Besides, our friends fell into one of three camps:

1)  Married in their 20s, had kids, and kids were now older, thus parents were running around shuttling them to various activities.  So no time to socialize with them.

2)  Married with little babies or kids, which meant pretty much no more socializing with them because they could never go out

3)  Blissfully single and/or married with no kids.  Some by choice, some because they were struggling with infertility. 

My doctor wrung his hands and told me about the risks of becoming a mom over age 35, and that many people struggled with infertility at my age, and if I wanted a child, I should try immediately and come see him in 6 months if I couldn't get pregnant so he could start me on IVF.

We stopped using birth control, hoped for the best, and got pregnant 2 weeks later. 

My daughter was born a few days after I turned 36.  Here's what I've observed about being an older mom:

  • I had many misconceptions of motherhood (like many childless women!)  Because of what I had achieved in my career, I figured a baby would be easy by comparison.  And when things didn't go right and I couldn't find an easy fix, my confidence was shattered.
  • I wasn't the only older mom in the neighbourhood, but I found most moms were younger than me (or those closer to my age were already on their 2nd or 3rd baby).  I couldn't relate to the 20 something moms (or even the early 30 somethings).  As my husband pointed out, "Would you be friends with this person if you didn't have a baby the same age?"  For a lot of them, the answer was no.
  • I was tired all the time.  While this was normal, I couldn't recover from being tired as easily as I could recover in my 20s (all night parties followed by a full day of meetings at a sales conference was a snap compared to motherhood).
  • Lack of family support.  Because of my age, my parents and in-laws were also older and didn't have the strength to help me out with a new baby. 
  • I missed my pre-baby life.  I had 36 years of being responsible only to myself, not having to care for anyone, and basically being able to do whatever I wanted (within the confines of a full-time job and money).  Spontaneous dinners out and weekend trips were easy before baby.  36 years of independent living, filled with freedom and travel, is a lifetime.  Adjusting from that was really hard.
  • Worry.  I worry when I'm too tired to keep up with her at the park.  I worry when I think about how when she is a teenager, we will be qualifying for seniors discounts.  I worry that she will likely watch us retire while she starts her post-secondary education.  I worry that we will be too old to help her care for her own children like our parents were with us.

Despite everything, older motherhood is wonderful. For many, older motherhood is by choice, circumstance, or both.  Whatever the reason, it is still motherhood.  Being a parent is hard, no matter what. 

My daughter is the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me.  

What is the best Music to use in Labour and Birth?

The other day I was cleaning out a drawer and found my old iPod mini.  It was a fun trip down memory lane to plug it in and see what I was listening to at the time.  On it, I found a playlist titled “Labour”. 

If you’ve been preparing for birth, you may have read or been told by someone to create a playlist for your birth experience.  For me, this was a no-brainer, since I love music.  Some people want their favorite pillow with them in the hospital; I wanted my iPod. 

Why is music important for labour?

  • Familiarity:  Like your favorite pair of fuzzy socks, familiar music can make you feel good.  This is especially important if you are birthing away from home, like at a birthing center or hospital.  The setting may be different but music can act like a psychological tie to familiarity. 
  • Relaxation:  I don’t mean just nature sounds or meditation music.  But the right music can get us into a mood of relaxation, which is beneficial to helping labour progress.
  • Distraction:  Closing your eyes and focusing on the music was an awesome distraction for me.  Having my ear buds in drowned out the sounds of the monitors and let me just escape where I was.  (For the record, I had an epidural and was feeling really disappointed.  Music distracted me from what was happening.)
  • Rhythm:  Music can help you move in labour.  And moving around is a great way to bring your baby lower into the pelvis.

So what was on my playlist?  Here’s some of the highlights:

1.     Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds by The Beatles

2.     Hourglass by Squeeze

3.     Fingers of Love by Crowded House

4.     Perfect Day by Lou Reed (Duran Duran cover version)

5.     Ordinary World by Duran Duran

6.     Enlightened by Marillion

7.     Hurry up and Wait by Stereophonics

8.     Catching the Butterfly by The Verve

9.     Red Rain by Peter Gabriel

10. Try to Make It by Sloan

Have you thought about what’s going to be on your playlist?  Share your comments below!