Beautiful, Empowering Images of Pregnancy and Birth

Pregnancy and birth can be a wonderful, empowering time for us as women yet often we hide behind the camera, ashamed of our growing body and unfiltered faces.  Which is ridiculous, right? Our bodies are doing the most amazing feat imaginable and we should be shouting out loud about how proud we are that we are growing, nourishing and developing entire new humans.  Here Daisy teacher Meg Hill presents a selection of her favourite empowering images of pregnancy and birth.

Maternity photoshoots and birth photographers have become more popular in recent years. Sometimes it’s only when you look back that you can see how beautifully empowered and strong you were, which is why it’s nice to have a third party there to discreetly take shots as you do your thing. But sometimes it’s the simple snaps taken by someone you love that manage to capture the pure emotion of this time. Whichever way you get your images, having them is something you’re going to be grateful of forever.

We at The Daisy Foundation believe that pregnancy and birth comes in all shapes, sizes and ways which is why we love these images taken from bump to birth. We don’t care about the stretch marks, sweat and tears – in fact, we embrace them! So step out from behind the camera and make sure some of your most cherished memories are captured forever.

The following images are all very different but all capture the spirit of Daisy; confident, strong and empowered in their choices, and for that, we love them.

Pregnant and proud – our very own Sheffield Daisy teacher Fi Hennessy showing us how radiant a pregnant woman can look. [photo credit Amie Parsons Photography]

 

This mama has celebrated the gift of life by painting her bump with the tree of life.

Birth pools can give incredible pain relief, look how tranquil Delyth looks while she awaits her baby!

This couple seem almost to be in a dance of love, as dad supports mom through her labour [photo credit Sue Lloyd Photography]

As the intensity increases, this mama shows how fierce she is as dad looks on. [photo credit Hazel Hughes Photography]

Freshly arrived in this world, baby shields his eyes from the brightness of the world compared to the womb. [photo credit Sue Lloyd Photography]

The raw emotion on mama’s face as baby is brought to her chest for the first time clearly shows her strength and love.

It’s not just parents for whom birth is a joy – check out the unbridled happiness on the midwife’s face as she welcomes another new life to the world! [photo credit Sue Lloyd Photography]

Baby is carefully raised for parents to see, as doctors carry on working on mama.

Mama gets some cuddles as dad looks proudly on while the caesarean section is completed.

Newton-le-Willows teacher Elouise Oakley enjoys skin to skin time with her brand new Daisy Baby.

Baby stares into mama’s eyes as they meet for the first time.

Both mama and baby enjoy the golden hour together after birth.

Kangaroo care is especially important for babies who are born needing extra care.

Double the love at this twin homebirth.

Even when things don’t go exactly the way you’d hope, there’s no mistaking the love this mama exudes.

Sometimes the newborn period isn’t quite what we expect, but memories like these help us show how far we’ve come.

All babies have the power to surprise us but none more so than this baby’s parents who prepared for Italy but went to Holland

New babies: it’s a family affair.

Big brother can’t believe his eyes when he gets to meet his brand new sister for the first time.

We hope you enjoyed looking at these fabulous pictures as much as we did!

Love Daisy x

 

Feel the fear and ‘up-cycle’ it in to something useful!

Last week I taught a special class that was filmed by national TV to feature in a popular show; it felt daunting, scary even and yet I knew I could conquer that fear. I could kind of relate the way I felt to birth (hey, I’m a pregnant antenatal educator so I can relate lots of things back to birth).

These emotions are a part of us and trying to deny these feelings is to try to stem the flow of something meaningful without really getting to the heart of the matter.

Do you think we’d be better off if we could approach birth realistically by feeling that fear, acknowledging it but yet not allowing it to overwhelm us? Instead we can use it, harness that nervous energy in a way that is productive by focusing on the goal that we so desire that sits on the other side of fear. We can devour information, learning and preparing thoroughly for whatever it is that we are approaching with trepidation, and in doing so are able to convert some of that fear into excitement as the moment nears, and exhilaration as it begins to unfold.

The alternative is a risky one, putting our fears into a metaphorical ‘box’, stuffing it under the bed and hoping that nobody or nothing can open that box. I rather like thinking of it as kind of ‘up-cycling’ our fears and anxieties so that they can evolve from being defunct and of no useful purpose to something that has value in and of itself. The process of crafting and making it happen is cathartic and the sense of accomplishment makes that conversion all the more rewarding.

In childbirth, as in life, there’s no one magic ‘method’ that will work for everyone. Imagine, if you trained everyone for a marathon in exactly the same way, without taking into account their unique strengths and challenges. And then, when you get to the start line, you realise that no two runners are taking the same path anyway. If you don’t know which path you’ll be taking then you’d best prepare for all eventualities, even though you know you’ll probably not need all those different techniques. The same is true of labour.

This is one of the reasons I love teaching Daisy Birthing classes, because we’re not about walking one path to achieving a positive birth. We combine so many different aspects in supporting mums along their birthing journey so that as theirs unfolds, they can call upon whatever feels right for them. We’re about cutting through the static noise that is negativity from others, self doubt and an entrenched attitude sometimes displayed by society that implies women don’t know how to give birth and re-tuning you back into your own way of giving birth, supporting you to make informed choices that are right for you and your baby.

I was still thrown a bit of an unexpected curveball during my filmed session last week, showing that in fact you can’t always be entirely prepared for all eventualities. And yet, all that preparation I had done stood me in good stead to ‘roll with it’ and to deal with it in a way that was consistent and in line with my own values and ethos. Had I started off from a place with that unharnessed fear and nervousness, I’ve no doubt I would have been less rational and logical in handling things on the day. And whilst I won’t reflect back on that session as being ‘text book’ perfect as I may have imagined in my mind’s eye, I do still feel that I was in control of the situation and did the best I could in the circumstances.

If we as women can reflect back on our birthing experiences in a similar way and we are able to feel a sense of pride in how we were able to trust our instincts on our birthing day, asking questions to allow us to make choices if we needed to, then perhaps we would also feel more able to be kind and gentle to ourselves as our journey along parenting unfolds, a common thread that arose during discussions at a Positive Birth Movement meeting I facilitated here in Havering over the weekend.

So let’s not deny it if we feel a little fearful in the lead up to birth, nor feel that we can pack it away where it magically can’t be seen or heard. As Albert Einstein wrote, ‘energy can’t be destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another’. Mamas, let’s use that nervous energy, invest it in our learning and hunger for knowledge, use it in our movements and exertions of giving birth and eventually, see it be re-invented as we cradle the fruits of our labour in our arms. x

Daisy x

(Contributed by our Essex teacher Lynn Zanatta)

Hormones!

The hormonal rollercoaster of pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period.

Finding out you are pregnant can be a wonderful thing. You may have planned it for months, been trying for years, or it could be a complete surprise. In the space of a three minute window and those two lines appearing; your life has changed forever. Understanding a little more about the hormonal changes you will experience during pregnancy, birth and postnatally, can help you understand more about what your body and mind is going through.

The first hormone you may feel the effects of is HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). This is produced by the placenta after implantation and doubles every 72 hours. It reaches its peak around 8-11 weeks and then will start to decline and level off. Unfortunately, HCG can produce some unwanted side effects, like nausea; or sickness. ‘Morning’ sickness is actually a bit of a myth as some women will suffer all day. If you find you are being severely sick and not able to keep anything down, even water; you may be suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum. This can be completely debilitating and often requires hospital treatment.

The levels of oestrogen and progesterone increase during pregnancy. These wonderful hormones are in part responsible for the intensity and wide range of emotions you may feel. Don’t worry if you are laughing your socks off one minute, and crying in to your coffee the next. It is normal, and all part and parcel of being pregnant. These hormones are also responsible for many of the symptoms you will experience during pregnancy. Breast tenderness, increased sensitivity to smells, heart burn, bloating; to name but a few. Its glamourous being pregnant isn’t it? The increase in progesterone can also be why you can feel absolutely exhausted during the first trimester and like you could fall asleep at any moment. This should start to ease off as your body adjusts to the hormone levels towards the second trimester.

You may feel happy, elated, anxious, depressed, worried and many more emotions in between during your pregnancy. Some women are more sensitive to the hormonal changes than others. Antenatal Depression is very real, with Tommy’s charity suggesting it affects around 1 in 10 pregnant women. If at any point your emotions become difficult to deal with; speak to your family, partner, midwife or GP. However, please know that it is normal to experience a wide range of emotions during pregnancy and you should feel free to blame anything and everything on those pesky hormones!

The hormone oxytocin helps prepare the body to give birth. This hormone is affectionately referred to as the love hormone and is responsible for making us feel good when we hug, kiss or make love. It acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain and stimulates the contractions which cause the cervix to dilate. It also helps the baby move down the birth canal, to birth the placenta and also limit bleeding at the site of the placenta. Amazing. It’s not my favourite hormone for nothing! Low levels of oxytocin can mean the contractions may slow, or stop and become less efficient. To keep oxytocin levels high, it is important to remain relaxed and calm, limit disturbances and keep the atmosphere peaceful and serene, in order to keep adrenaline levels low. Finding out more about how your body works during labour can have a powerful effect on the way you feel about your birth experience.

Your baby is here! Congratulations. Although, the rollercoaster doesn’t end yet. The postnatal period can be one of immense joy, but also comes with a realisation at the sudden responsibility for your little one. I am a huge believer in the 4th trimester, and it being a period of adjustment for both you and your baby. Those same hormones are still lingering post birth and are responsible for your mood swings between overwhelming happiness one second, to crying because you can’t find your slippers the next. Or falling apart at the seams because your partner brought you Maltesers instead of Smarties; I mean seriously, how hard is it?! Over the first week, you may experience what is referred to as the ‘baby blues’ where you feel very teary and emotional. This is normal. If however, the feelings last for much longer, do seek support if you need it. The build-up of pregnancy hormones means your hair can become thick, lush and shiny during pregnancy. Around three months post birth, you will regrettably start to lose your gorgeous locks.

The hormonal rollercoaster you embark on when you find out your pregnant can be amazing, exciting, thrilling and downright terrifying at times. Jump on, and enjoy the ride!

Daisy x

(Contributed by our Cheshire teacher Chloe Sena)

Sarah & Alma – a positive birth story

Sarah & Alma – a positive birth story from The Daisy Foundation.

First of all, I can’t thank you enough for the training. I’m crying as I type this. Probably just hormonal but I honestly wish everyone could go to these classes. I would not have coped with birth and would have been doped up to my eyeballs if I hadn’t known what was going on. So here goes the story for the page:

‘At about 3 am on Saturday morning I was awoken by my first contraction. I stayed awake but lying down to see if anything else happened, by about 7 am, I was having one every 15 minutes or so, so I knew then that this was something. We went downstairs, cooked breakfast, got my toiletries and bits into the car. Then took the dog for a walk for about half an hour. By the end of the dog walk (about half 11/12 )I was having contractions every 5 minutes.
I rang the hospital then, they didn’t want me to come in, suggested a bath and some paracetamol. So I did these things, felt ok but after about 2 hours I was getting fed up. Rang again they suggested waiting another hour or so. In the end we only went in at about 5 when I thought I really couldn’t cope (little did I know!). I was examined, found to be 1cm with a nice thin cervix. Gutted! Had to go home. I live 50 minutes away from the hospital so it was an excruciating car ride home but I insisted we get mcdonalds to cheer me up. I got home and immediately started feeling a lot worse. I couldn’t stay on the ball. All fours was the only place that I could cope with even though I knew I shouldn’t be in cruise control yet. I started getting sick (what a waste of money that mcdonalds was), and after about an hour and a half of this, Scott had to call the hospital as I could barely speak through contractions which were coming every minute. They still didn’t want me to come back in but he said that I just was not coping at home so they allowed it. Got there and went into a lovely room. The midwife watched me for about 20 minutes and said that she thought every second ‘contraction’ wasn’t a contraction but rather naughty baby having very big wiggle after each contraction with her shoulders. As all my pain from contractions was in my groin, bottom and pelvis (rather than high up) I couldn’t tell that my uterus wasn’t tightening on these ‘second contractions’. I had never heard of this so was quite shocked but that is why she said that I had still only dilated to 2-3cms when I’d been having such frequent contractions. She then suggested that I wouldn’t be in active labour for quite a long time still so why not have some diamorphine so I could sleep. I had said I didn’t want this in my birth plan but after a sensible discussion she said it would be well clear of my body by the time baby was ready to come out meaning that it wouldn’t make baby sleepy or interfere with Breastfeeding but would just give me the relief I needed to lie down for a bit and rest for the long journey ahead. This worked for about 2 hours and although I couldn’t sleep when there was a contraction, they did slow down a bit and I could have a nap in between. My husband could also nap and not have me squeezing his hand after each contraction.
When this started wearing off the midwife suggested a bath, they are trained in aromatherapy at Gloucester so she put bergamot in it to relax me. It was wonderful to start with. Scott and I were watching lord of the rings on his ipad and he helped me breathe through contractions.
After four hours in the bath I really felt I need to be in a better gravity position and potentially getting some gas and air so I asked to be examined. I was 4-5 cms! The magic number! Suddenly I could go in the birthing pool and get gas and air. This was at 6 am. We were moved into our last big room, really nice. The daisy music went on and stayed on till the end. The minute I got in the pool I knew it was the best idea. The gas and air was really helping. I could be squatting and on all fours comfortably without holding my own weight. The warmth of it was lovely too. For about half an hour I even let Scott have a nap as I felt so jolly. That soon wore off haha! I had a twirl for some energy in between contractions. After about 4 hours I was examined again. I was only 6 cms. The midwife said that this wasn’t unusual for first time births but I was still disappointed. She offered to break my waters but as I was two weeks overdue she explained to me that there was 80% chance of meconium in my waters and if that did happen then I would be taken out of the pool down to the delivery unit. I really didn’t want this as I felt the pool was my only sure fire coping method right now. So we decided at length not to break the waters and carry on even though it meant my dilation was slow and the pressure was immense. But after 20 mins back in the pool my waters went in a shot and were clear so we got to stay in the pool. At about 12 (40 mins after my waters breaking) I felt on about every third contraction the need to push. The midwife said I couldn’t be dilated enough so I needed to fight the urge. But after about a half an hour (12:30) she said well if you feel you need to then do push (she said she had noticed that each contraction now needed a push element), but if your baby isn’t born by 1pm I’ll examine you and then we’ll know more. Well! At about quarter to suddenly 2 midwives rushed in and they started heating the pool temperature up and I was told baby’s arrival was imminent. The pushing phase only lasted about 25 mins as she was out by 12:54. I pushed in an upright seated position with my back against the pool side, I used a combination if the ouuut breath and a moo. I think I just started shouting in a low voice out eventually!!! I only had the head sliding in and out in the canal about 3 times and then her head and body came out in one big whoosh! She was brought straight onto me and kept in the water and they allowed my cord to stop pulsating (about 10 minutes). She gave a small cry initially for breathing but then was quiet. Scott got to tell us the sex as her whole body was in the water the midwives couldn’t see. When we could cut the cord she was handed straight to Scott for some skin to skin with just a towel covering her back. She then was given to me about 5 mins later once I was out of the pool and lying down as she was already rooting. We stayed with her suckling for the next hour and 40 minutes! Scott was ringing relatives but couldn’t tell them the weight as she wouldn’t stop feeding to be weighed!! We didn’t mind, I was just so happy at how well she had adjusted to the outside world. After her first 5 mins of suckling that stimulated enough of a contraction that the placenta plopped out in one big gush. I didn’t need the injection in the end.
I had a small tear but midwife said it was fairly minor and good considering how quickly she came out (raspberry leaf tea in action here??). Another interesting point on due dates: when our girl came out she was completely covered in vernix still. The midwives said they never see 2 week overdue babies with that much vernix on them… So they said the dating scan must have got it wrong as she was perfect. Apparently they also normally get very stressed and her heart rate only went up in the last 15 mins when her head was being squashed (fair enough).
Our gorgeous little girl’s name is Alma Kathleen Denise Harrison and she weighed 8lb9oz.


I know this is probably the longest story ever but I thought it might be of use to some first time birthers out there as it is so complicated and I think all the details are important, if they can help anyone! It’s really hard learning to trust your own body when you have never laboured before. The decisions you have to make while in pain are very hard but the daisy classes really helped to let me have that clear head to have that ‘easy’ birth. No birth is easy, all the decisions are hard, but daisy gives you the confidence to roll with the punches and remember that your body was designed for this and to not be afraid. Thoroughly recommend the couples workshop too, Scott kept me on track when I really needed it or when my vocalisations got too high or my breathing too fast. He was fantastic but he did need to know what the best way to labour and I would not have conveyed that properly to him without the couples workshop.
Also, I know this isn’t relevant to most people in this group but gloucester hospital could not be faulted! Beautiful rooms with great lighting, en suite. The midwives were fantastically trained. No one told me to get on my back or told me how to breathe. Maybe that’s because I knew what I wanted and that was clear, but they were thoroughly supportive. ‘

Thanks

Sarah

Natasha’s Positive Birth Story

Natasha Burgon – My 7.5 Hour Labour – Birth Story

Our baby boy Alexander Burgon was born 16th February 2015 at 7.41am weighing 8lbs 4oz at UHW in MLU.

When I found out I was pregnant my twin sister immediately recommended the Daisy Birthing course to me, due to her own positive experience only 9 months earlier.

I practice yoga regularly, therefore I was keen to learn more and attend the Daisy Birthing course, to understand how correct breathing and movement could help during pregnancy and labour.

I began Daisy Birthing in October 2014 (due date 12th February 2015) with a view to attend 2 courses (12 sessions). After a positive first 6 classes my husband was keen to also learn the techniques to help me through my labour, therefore we also attended the couple’s workshop in late November. The couple’s workshop really helped my husband to understand what I had been practicing and learning in my sessions. It also gave us great information on the birth stages and what to expect and when.

I carried on practicing the Daisy Birthing exercises and breathing at home after the second course up until I went into labour. At every scan and check-up throughout the pregnancy I was told Alexander was in the correct position. I firmly believe that the exercises positioned him correctly.

I had felt tightening’s in my stomach the evening before around 10pm which I initially thought was the baby moving. By 11pm these ‘movements’ appeared to have got stronger and I knew it wouldn’t be long before I went into early labour. At 12.30am my waters broke I alerted my husband and told him to phone through to the MLU at UHW to let them know. We were told that being our first baby that to expect a long labour and to call back at 10am with the intention of going into hospital at 12pm to be checked. Within the hour my contractions had started and were consistently 5 minutes apart and around 30 seconds long at which point I began the 8 and 4 breaths and attached the tens machine. My husband ran me a bath which I used for around 10 minutes however, the contractions remained strong and of the same intensity for the next 2 hours. I rotated on all fours whilst using my birthing ball for support and listening to the ‘Daisy CD’ whilst continuing the 8 and 4 breaths. The contractions grew stronger over the next few hours and by 5.00am my husband made the decision to take me into hospital, we arrived at the MLU at 5.30am where I was examined and was told that I was fully dilated at 10cm. I requested the birthing pool to be used for pain relief and the birth. After 10 minutes in the birthing pool I had the urge to push, I had very little gas and air during this time as I felt it dried my mouth and prevented me from breathing correctly. After 45 minutes of controlled pushing along with deep long ‘out breaths’ our baby boy was born into the birthing pool and into my arms with skin to skin contact immediately. We waited for 15 minutes before my husband cut the umbilical cord once it had stopped pulsating at which point our healthy, beautiful boy was passed to my husband. I had the injection to deliver the placenta which took around 15-20 minutes.

Giving birth was such a positive experience for me, it was so much better than I could have imagined. I felt calm and went with the natural rhythms of my body and flow of labour using only ‘Daisy’ breathing and movement, the tens machine and birthing pool as pain relief and a small amount of gas and air at the end.

I had a very calm and smooth birthing experience and I truly believe that the breathing techniques and exercises helped the baby into the correct position and aided his smooth transition from womb to world! I will certainly recommend ‘Daisy Birthing’ to all friends so that they too can have a positive birthing experience.

A lovely positive birth story from Natasha, a Daisy Birthing Mum, who attending classes in the Cardiff area with Daisy teacher Laura.

To find your own local Daisy Birthing class – go to our FIND A CLASS area