/ The Daisy Foundation with Beth Owen

What does bonding with your baby look like?

Every new parent wants to bond with their baby, wants to feel that connection. For some it’s a real worry in pregnancy. How will I feel? What if I don’t love my baby? What if I feel nothing?

When you first see your baby you absolutely might feel that overwhelming rush of love and connection as you gaze at them. Or you might not. You might feel like you are looking at a strange alien creature. You might feel exhausted, in pain or out of it on meds, maybe the overwhelm of seeing your baby born is taking over. Whatever you feel in that moment isn’t the defining moment of your parenting.

For lots of people it takes time for the bond to grow. Not everyone adores a newborn (I know, but it’s true!), for some parents it comes more naturally when their baby interacts – smiles, laughs, shakes a toy or even says ‘Mama’ or ‘Dada’.

You might be doing things in your pregnancy to help with bonding. Maybe you rub your bump or you talk to your baby or play music. Your partner might be doing the same, or maybe all your preparations – building a cot, washing clothes, buying a pram – are part of that bonding process.

Once you get home with your baby and start to settle into life together how do we grow those bonds and attachment?

It might be really simple. If you are the parent breast or chest feeding your baby you probably spend a lot of time holding your baby while you feed, maybe while they nap after a feed, through the night and through the day. The person breastfeeding often does develop an attachment and the baby will attach to them as a place of safety and security because, on a primitive level, they are essential for their survival.

But what about the other parent? If your partner is breast or chest feeding your baby 12 times a day and spends hours trapped under a feeding, sleeping baby how do you find your bond?

It can be a really hard time for partners to figure out their role here. If breast/chest feeding is important to your family then time skin to skin and time at the breast is crucial to make it work and this can lead to the other partner feeling a bit left out.

When I teach on feeding we talk about expressing and the million and one reasons someone might have for expressing. At the top of the list is often for partners to feed and bond with baby. It’s natural to see it that way breast/chest feeding is often seen as being all about bonding. Food is how we nurture, it’s how we show love. People are welcomed into our homes and we want to feed them. Culturally food = love.

So is the partner feeding the baby at huge advantage and should the other partner give some bottles of milk to bond?

Well maybe, but it’s natural for a baby to quickly bond with the parent breast/chest feeding because of erm, survival. Your baby won’t feel safe being far from their source of food. But it isn’t necessarily a disadvantage if your anatomy doesn’t work for feeding a baby.

In those early days and weeks it’s really important for baby to spend lots of time at the breast/chest to establish a milk supply. It’s important to feed on demand to get all the right signals in your body to produce milk as and when it’s needed. Expressing and bottle feeding early on needs to managed with so much care to make sure the feeding journey isn’t derailed.

So what can you do?

In the postnatal period your partner needs you. But needs you in a really practical way. They need food and drinks, snacks and more drinks, encouragement, reassurance, someone putting the washing machine on, someone to listen and someone to bring snacks. I know, I know. You’re excited and exhausted, you just had a baby, you want to do baby stuff not be refilling water bottles and popping out for more cake.

How do we make this work? Where does the bonding come in? Well, for some that support of their partner might be part of the bond. That caring for your partner equals caring for your baby. But equally, that might not make sense for you.

My advice to partners looking for ways to bond is to find your thing. It might be a special song you sing, maybe a little game when you change a nappy, a walk with baby in the sling, bath time (maybe sharing a bath together), skin to skin with you, a massage for baby, maybe you can help with winding or sleepy snuggles.

 

Whatever it is, you’ll find your own thing for you and your baby and it doesn’t need to involve a bottle if that isn’t what you, your partner and your baby want. And if it takes time, don’t panic. You are still the perfect parent for your baby, you will be caring for them brilliantly and one day you will realise that the bond, the love, is there.

Want to learn more? Book your Daisy Parent course or if you want some bump bonding time come to Daisy Birthing

Need postnatal support? Head to Nurtured Mums to see how I can work with your family

/ The Daisy Foundation with Beth Owen

What my 5 year old taught me about infant sleep

Whenever I talk about sleep with expectant or new parents there is often a discussion around bad habits and wanting babies to fall asleep by themselves or stay asleep longer at night/not need help to get back to sleep when they wake.

 

My conversations have followed a similar format until recently when I added some new reflections.

 

I usually talk about normal newborn behaviour. Babies have teeny tummies that empty and need refilling frequently. That means they need to wake through the night and although a new born sleeps lots it isn’t it consolidated stretches for quiet a while.

 

Babies also need to be close to their caregiver. All they know is being in mum’s tummy, being rocked, stroked, talked to, listening to her heartbeat and having every need met instantly. Waking up alone in a moses basket or cot that is still, cold and big is scary. Your baby needs you.

 

Lots of new parents notice their baby sleeps so much better curled up on their chest or after a feed. But lots are also anxious that contact naps and feeding to sleep can become habit and that baby becomes dependent on them for sleep. What we need to recognise is that these things are not bad habits, these things are the biological norm for our babies. They need to be close to you, they aren’t manipulating you they just need to be with you. Sucking is calming and hard work for babies. It’s normal for them to fall asleep with a full tummy after a feed (who hasn’t fallen asleep after a big meal?). If you are breastfeeding there are hormones in your milk that help baby to sleep, it’s what is meant to happen. Trying to stop a feed and put an awake (or even a drowsy but awake) baby down in a cot is hard, they instinctively want to feed to sleep.

 

Once we start to think about our expectations it might help parents to rethink what they want to do around sleep. But I also reassure parents that it’s fine to follow your instincts. It’s all good knowing what to expect but what about when the advice from friends, family, social media and anywhere else is going against your natural instincts. Despite the growing knowledge of normal behaviour we still want our babies to fit in with us rather than us adapting to them and there is still a temptation to ‘fix’ this behaviour because most of us don’t cope well with broken sleep night after night.

 

So if your baby is crying and you know feeding them will settle them – feed them.

If you know a cuddle will help – cuddle them.

If you don’t know what is wrong but you can hear your baby crying – go to them.

The majority of parents feel that leaving a baby to cry goes against their instincts. And we have those instincts for a reason – they protect us all.

 

When we start questioning whether it’s a bad habit to wake or to need to be close to a parent to sleep or to need a feed in the night it’s not uncommon to see it turned around. Do you sleep better next to your partner? Do you sometimes want a cuddle in the night? Does your partner (or someone else) comfort you when you are upset? Do you wake up for a drink?

 

And if you respond to those needs is it a bad habit? How would we view it if an adult was denied those things?

 

Recently I’ve been reflecting on this with regards my own children. The older two both slept through the night (as in from when they went to bed until morning) from around 13 months. Once they did that they rarely woke unless they were unwell or had a bad dream. My youngest was (and is!) a very different story. He has consistently woken in the night and as he turned two he was still waking every couple of hours and I fed him as it was the easiest way to get him (and me) back to sleep. Soon after his second birthday I stopped breastfeeding and then he would come into our bed and stay until morning. Eventually we reached a point where he would come in for a cuddle for a few minutes and go back to his own bed. And at age 5 we are still there. Not every night, we go through phases of waking and sleeping all night.

 

When he wakes he calls out ‘Mummy can I come in your bed?’. And I say ‘Yes’. Because you can’t really say no, can you? He needs a cuddle and then once he’s drifting off I take him back to his own bed.

 

If we wouldn’t deny our partner the comfort they needed, or a child who can verbalise their needs a cuddle, why do we think our babies don’t need us at night? Or need to learn not to need us at night.

 

When I’ve shared this with parents it’s been a bit of a lightbulb moment. If my 5 year old asks for a cuddle I respond so of course it isn’t bad to respond to their baby if that is what feels right.

 

I know it’s hard. The two hourly wake ups for 2 years was tough. The number of days I sat at my desk thinking how incredibly tired I was juggling a part time job, teaching classes, 3 children and everything that comes with them. But our little ones need us at night just as much as they need us in the day and we need them to learn that we are there for them. When they need us we are there. That is how they become confident, independent little people.  It’s the confidence that they have someone who is there for them. When they start to go off and explore they know they have a safe place to come back to.

 

All of this doesn’t mean you have to suffer a lack of sleep. If you need to, by all means make changes, just do them as and when you feel comfortable and be aware that your baby will still need you in some way so you may be swapping something for something else. When I stopped breastfeeding the swap was for him to sleep more in our bed. Then came a time where we could change that too.

 

Trust your instincts, cuddle your baby and parent in the way that makes you feel comfortable.

 

/ The Daisy Foundation with Beth Owen

I can say ‘No’?

Once you are pregnant a whole new world opens up. Tests, checks, scans and appointments are all booked in and you will be hearing a whole new set of language.

You will find yourself navigating the maternity system, another unknown.

You might meet midwives, maternity support workers, maternity assistants and sonographers. You might see a Consultant or one of their team. Figuring out who is who and who does what can take a bit of research or asking some questions.

All of this can seem a bit overwhelming and if you are not familiar with the maternity system or with pregnancy and birth you might not be aware of the choices that are open to you. Because when it comes to it everything is your choice. You can say yes or no to any of those tests and appointments.

But for a lot of birthing people the concept of choice in their care, in their birth, in what happens to their body is a little alien.

We have become accustomed to being told what to do when we are pregnant. You are probably feeling a little less like yourself than usual and maybe even just a teensy bit hormonal. Plus this stuff matters.

You don’t want to make the wrong choices – it’s your incredibly precious baby, you do not want to mess up. You want to trust the people looking after you and be guided in the best way to be cared for, the best place to have your baby and the best way to do it.

So when someone says ‘We’ll just….’ or ‘At your next appointment I will….’ or maybe even ‘Then we’ll decide on your birth plan’. We just go along with it.

But what if you stopped and asked some questions.

Everything that happens needs to be with your informed consent. That means that you need a full understanding of the pros and cons so that YOU can make a decision. Yes, no, later, if xyz. It’s YOUR decision, your body, your baby, your choice.

Some of them you won’t give a second thought to – you might be 100% confident you want midwife care and regular checks but there are people who would prefer not to. Likewise you might be really excited for your first scan to see your baby and find out your due date. But there are people who choose not to have that scan.

The most important thing is that you are able to make an informed choice about your own care. Just take a moment to reflect on informed choice. What does that mean to you?

If you wanted to make an informed choice about something – let’s say you are thinking about buying a new car – you would want to make sure you had the information you needed to make a decision you felt comfortable with. You wouldn’t want to listen to a sales person telling you all the reasons you need the car. That’s just one side of the information. You might ask a few questions about the information you have been given, you might decide to go away and do some research of your own, maybe you look at what other options there are but what you are trying to find out will be what are the good and bad things about this car. You are weighing up the pros and cons, figuring out what will work for you and your situation and deciding for yourself if it’s right for you.

The decisions you make about your care and about your birth are important. You might be weighing up the safety of your baby or yourself (not something anyone wants to think about) and maybe you feel like you need the guidance of the professionals.

There are always risks and always what ifs. Informed consent means you understand and come to the decision you feel is right for you and your baby.

As you read through this you might be thinking it’s all about the big decisions, the ones where you are thinking about safety and interventions. But the reason I’m writing about this is something that isn’t quite on that scale. However it is something that is a huge deal for a lot of people and something that you might not give any thought to with regards informed consent.

So lets talk vaginal examinations.

This year alone I’ve taught several people who were anxious about vaginal examinations in labour. Very understandable!

What they didn’t know was that they could decline. I can’t imagine feeling so anxious about something but not realising I could say no.

If I say that no one can put their fingers in your vagina without your consent you would certainly be nodding in agreement. Sitting reading this I’m sure you would think that’s pretty clear. But something happens when we are in labour and somehow we just expect that examinations will be happening and we need to just go with it.

First things first. You can absolutely say yes or no to examinations. At any time.

Why are examinations offered?

It is usual to be offered an examination when you are being assessed in labour. Either when you arrive at hospital or when a midwife comes to you at home. This is to see how dilated you are and is often used to see whether you are in established labour or not. This may well be presented as a necessity before being admitted .

In established labour it is usual to be offered an examination every 4 hours to assess your progress. You might like the idea of knowing your progress or you might prefer not to know!

You might also be offered an examination if there are concerns labour is slow or to check your baby’s position.

Whatever the circumstance it is worth considering the reasons for the examination and what you would do with the information. Would it impact your decisions? Will it help you? It is important you understand the purpose of the examination and what will happen because of the outcome.

From the NICE Guidelines

Your midwife will offer vaginal examinations during labour. These are done to check how far your cervix (neck of the womb) has opened (dilated) and the position of your baby’s head. The midwife should always explain why an examination is being advised and what it will involve.

There is a common perception that the only way to assess labour is by vaginal examination and that without that knowledge you can be denied care such as pain relief or even admission to the hospital or birth centre.

If your preference is to decline examinations you might want to read a bit more about other methods of assessment and if you feel you need more support or information AIMS are a good place to go.

As ever my interest is not in whether you want examinations or not it is that you are aware of your options and supported to make your own decisions.

There are times when vaginal examinations are incredibly useful but it’s all about the informed consent so you know.

What is important to remember is that all a VE will tell you is what is happening at that moment in time. It won’t tell you anything about what has been happening or how long you still have to go in labour. Labour progress isn’t linear and plotting it on a graph doesn’t really tell you anything useful. We know that not everyone will dilate at the same rate, some are faster and some are slower but whether anyone needs interventions or help needs to be taken on an individual basis not just by looking at the numbers.

In 2013 the conclusion of the Cochrane Review into vaginal examinations stated

We identified no convincing evidence to support, or reject, the use of routine vaginal examinations in labour, yet this is common practice throughout the world. More research is needed to find out if vaginal examinations are a useful measure of both normal and abnormal labour progress.

It would seem we are still waiting for the research because, despite a lack of evidence, routine examinations are taking place every day in every maternity unit in the country and unless women are aware they can say no and that there are pros and cons, nothing will change.

If you want to read more about the history and science (including some of the risks associated with VEs) please read this article https://midwifethinking.com/2015/05/02/vaginal-examinations-a-symptom-of-a-cervix-centric-birth-culture/

 

References

Cochrane Review 2013 https://www.cochrane.org/CD010088/routine-vaginal-examinations-in-labour (accessed June 2021)

NICE guidelines https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg190/ifp/chapter/care-during-labour (accessed June 2021)

/ The Daisy Foundation with Beth Owen

Why Prepare For Birth? AKA ‘It all goes out the window anyway’ or ‘They will tell me what to do’.

As soon as you announce your pregnancy you will doubtless have many well-meaning family, friends and random acquaintances telling you their birth stories. And it’s unlikely many of these will be positive, encouraging and making you feel more excited about the actual birth!

In amongst the stories will be tales of birth plans ‘going out of the window’, or maybe that no one looked at them when it came to actually having the baby. Sometimes it’s almost like a private joke amongst those who have had a baby – the naïve first time parents writing a plan.

Maybe you have spoken to people who approached birth with the attitude of ‘they will tell me what to do’. After all the midwives and doctors looking after you are the professionals, right? They do this every day and you might be doing this for the first or second time.

So why should you bother spending time and money on antenatal classes?

1.Understanding your choices

Often one of the most significant things people take away from my antenatal classes is that they have a choice. It’s really quite sad and concerning that hearing a vaginal examination can be accepted or declined is a revelation to so many. Of course, for some birthing people there are no concerns – yes it’s a bit uncomfortable and maybe embarrassing but it’s something we do. For others it’s a trigger and can result in real anxiety and fear around birth.

Anything that happens in your maternity care is yours to accept or decline. Some things you don’t need to think about too much you are happy to accept others you might want to research a bit more or find out more about pros and cons or chances of outcomes. Ultimately though it’s always your choice. Just make sure it’s your INFORMED choice. Ask enough questions to find out what you need to to weigh up both sides and then decide what’s best for you and your baby. We’re all different and our care needs to reflect that.

2. Understanding birth

Let’s face it if you don’t understand what is going on the chances are you aren’t well placed to make those choices.

Gaining a good understanding of the basics of birth – the hormones, how your body works, what helps,  what hinders, how positions might help or why breathing and relaxation techniques can make a difference will help you figure out what to do if a curve ball comes your way. In the midst of labour you might not be best placed to do the thinking and ask the questions but if you already know the basics you’ll understand a bit more of what is happening so you can make quick decisions if you need to.

And if everything is going smoothly then chances are it’s because you are using that knowledge to keep you calm and in control, working with your body and your baby.

3. Knowing you have tools to help you

Even if you already plan to use medical pain relief there will be a good part of your labour where you will be using your own coping techniques before you are ready for the more medical options.

Knowing that you have breathing techniques for different stages of your labour, being confident that you can use positions or movement to make you more comfortable and help things progress, having practiced your relaxation so you can take yourself back there with your breathing and music will all help you approach birth feeling more positive and confident. Exactly what we want!

You will also be encouraged to think more about the anchors you will be using. If you attend Daisy Birthing classes our music, breathing, movement and dimly lit rooms are all part of the muscle memory learning and are all things you can easily bring into your birth room. Maybe you add in some partner massage or a room spray or even your favourite pillow to help you.

4. Partner support

Having a confident birth partner by your side can make so much difference to your birth experience. Many partners might feel anxious about birth. Unsure about seeing their partner in pain, unsure how they can do anything, not wanting to get in the way, say the wrong thing or maybe even worried about how squeamish they might be.

Coming along to an Active Birth Workshop or Daisy Parent course means that you learn about birth together and your birth partner knows all about how birth works too. They also will know the breathing, the positions and a whole host of ways to support and encourage you. Plus you’re learning together which means lots of chance to talk through the options. You can figure out together what  is important to you, where you can compromise and where you can’t. Ultimately this means you have a strong advocate by your side. If your voice isn’t strong then your partner’s can be. Doing antenatal classes together helps partners feel so much more confident that they will be able to make suggestions, ask questions and help you.

5. Support

Support in classes comes in two forms. When you join an antenatal class you are there with others pregnant in the same local area, due around the same time. These are the people you can journey with through pregnancy, birth and as far beyond as you want. They are the ones struggling with night feeds, not sure why their baby is crying, desperately trying to figure out this whole parenting thing and so much more besides. And who understands? They people right there in it with you. Having a class WhatsApp group means you have someone to call on anytime (I’ve seen the middle of the night messages!) and people who get it. Not there to judge but there to hear you and offer support and tips.

Secondly you are getting me! If you sign up for Daisy classes (anywhere in the country) you don’t just turn up for the classes and walk away at the end of it. All of our teachers are so invested in the people who come to classes, we get to know you, we care and we are always here. I’m still in many of the WhatsApp groups although I keep quiet a lot of the time, and I’m always happy to help well after your classes have ended. I get messages from people in labour, breastfeeding worries, all sorts and that is absolutely part of what I do.

So come and join us. The labour room isn’t the place to start learning breathing or about birth. You want to arrive confident, positive and knowing you know enough to make your choices.

Maybe you know that a labour room isn’t for you? Is your birth going to be a Cesarean birth?

That doesn’t mean you don’t have choices, there are still lots of things that you can choose for your birth. That’s one for another day but don’t dismiss being involved in your birth or attending antenatal classes – just make sure you choose ones that will help you prepare.

https://thedaisyfoundation.com/beth-owen/

/ The Daisy Foundation with Beth Owen

Welcome to The Daisy Foundation Harrow, Pinner, Ruislip and Northwood

Congratulations on your pregnancy or new baby!! Welcome to Daisy in the Harrow area.
I’m Beth and I am privileged to have been teaching Daisy classes and supporting families since February 2013.
I’m a local mum with 3 children born in 2008, 2012 and 2016 and I would love to support you on your journey.
As well as teaching Daisy Foundation classes I am a postnatal doula and co-chair of the Maternity Voices Partnership at London North West University Hospital Trust. You can find out more about my doula work and other workshops on my website http://www.nurturedmums.co.uk

I am passionate about supporting everyone preparing for birth or heading into parenthood. Whatever your preferences or feelings about birth I will help you understand your choices and ensure you have the techniques and tools to support you. The education you receive in my classes will all be evidence based and unbiased to allow you to figure out the right paths for you whether it’s thinking about your birth or your parenting choices.

Those who come to our classes might come because they want to do some pregnancy yoga, to try out some hypnobirthing, for antenatal education or to do baby massage or baby yoga. But everyone who comes finds Daisy classes give so much more than you would expect. Every class combines many elements to give a holistic approach to all our teaching and in every class you’ll find local mums and your ready made support group.

So whether this is your first baby or you’ve done this before, come and join us we’d love to welcome you into the Daisy community across the Harrow and Hillingdon area. Not sure which is the class for you? Just get in touch.

Daisy Birthing – A weekly antenatal class for expectant mums to help you enjoy pregnancy, stay mobile, learn about your changing baby and body and prepare for a confident birth. Our unique Active Antenatal method draws on elements of active birth, pregnancy yoga, hypnobirthing and antenatal education to create one very powerful combination. From easing pregnancy ailments, adapting to your changing body, preparing for birth and informing your own individual choices – we’ve got you covered.

Active Birth Workshop – A workshop for mum and her birth companion that will not only cover all of the basics of antenatal education and an active, informed birth but also give you both the space to prepare as a team and confidently plan for your baby’s birthing day. Our unique Active Antenatal Birth method draws on elements of traditional active birth, hypnobirthing and antenatal education to create one very powerful combination. From understanding the stages of labour to working with gravity to support your baby’s birth, massage for labour and informing your own individual choices – we’ve got you covered.

Daisy Parent– A comprehensive workshop series for expectant parents designed to ensure you have all the education, tools and support you could need as you prepare confidently for your upcoming birth and the early days of caring for your new baby. Our entirely comprehensive Daisy Parent format draws on elements of active birth, hypnobirthing, parentcraft and traditional antenatal classes to create one very powerful combination.  From birth plans to massage in labour, informed choice to packing hospital bags and feeding your baby to changing their nappy – we’ve got you covered.

Daisy Baby Tinies– A weekly postnatal class for mum and baby in the ‘fourth trimester’ to help you learn how to use baby massage and movement to aid calming, soothing and connection with your baby. Our unique fourth trimester mum and baby class draws on elements of baby massage, baby yoga, postnatal movement and baby care education to create one very powerful combination. From easing infant ailments, aiding their development, adapting to your postnatal body and easing in to your new role amongst friends – we’ve got you covered.

Daisy Baby Wrigglers– A weekly class for mum and baby to help you learn how to use a variety of tools such as: baby massage, baby yoga, rhythm, rhyme, story and (baby) sensory experiences to aid your baby’s development, your connection and have fun together! Our unique mum and baby class draws on elements of baby massage, baby yoga, rhythm and rhyme and baby sensory experiences to create one very powerful combination. From easing infant ailments, aiding their development, growing your connection and learning about baby’s key stages amongst friends – we’ve got you covered.

Daisy Baby Cruisers– A weekly class for mum and baby to help you learn how to use a variety of tools such as toddler yoga, rhythm, rhyme, story and (baby) sensory experiences to aid your baby’s development, your connection and learn how to embrace the chaos! Our unique mum and baby class draws on elements of toddler yoga, rhythm, rhyme, story and baby sensory experiences to create one very powerful combination. From aiding their development, learning new games, growing your connection and learning about baby’s key stages amongst friends – we’ve got you covered.

Daisy Mama – A weekly class for mums to help you relax, recharge, heal and calm both your body and mind, supporting you as you navigate this new phase of your life. Our unique mind/body movement method draws on elements of postnatal yoga, mindfulness, pelvic floor recover,  mind/body movement and relaxation to create one very powerful combination. From calming your mind, adapting to your healing body, settling your emotions and replenishing your reserves – we’ve got you covered.

IF YOU SEE CLASSES ARE PASSWORD PROTECTED THIS IS ONLY FOR A FEW DAYS TO ALLOW CURRENT CLASS ATTENDEES TO REBOOK THEIR SPACES. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE NOTIFIED WHEN GENERAL BOOKING OPENS PLEASE MESSAGE ME BETH-OWEN@THEDAISYFOUNDATION.COM OR ON 07521 280133