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A Pregnancy And Birth Expert Answers Your Questions

Missed our Wednesday Lunch Club with pregnancy and birth expert Cheryl MacDonald? Not to worry, you can catch up on all the advice she shared here.

Every week at Mother&Baby we bring you the Wednesday Lunch Club – a chance to get brilliant advice for your parenting questions from a top expert.

This week, pregnancy and birth expert Cheryl MacDonald was on standby to answer your questions.



Cheryl’s the founder of pregnancy and perinatal yoga brand, YogaBellies and a qualified hypnobirthing practitioner. She also created the Birth ROCKS natural childbirth education programme and the highly acclaimed book of the same name.  



Cheryl has trained natural birth educators in the Birth ROCKS programme across Europe and her course has proved hugely popular with mums-to-be and their partners across the UK – including celeb mum Kimberley Walsh.

If you missed the chat, here’s what happened…

Can I do baby yoga with two children of different ages? One is four months old and the other is two years old.

You may struggle to find one class that suits both mobile and non mobile babies, but you can certainly practice with them both at home. The important thing to remember is that with toddlers, the room is your yoga mat. Allow them to express their creativity and follow their moves. At this age it's not about alignment, it's about fun and a positive and healthy approach to life.

READ: YOGA CAN HELP KEEP PREGNANT WOMAN AND NEW MUMS STRESS FREE

If you have an older child they can even help manipulate the new baby's little body into the gentle baby yoga postures. It's a great bonding experience for the whole family and you may even squeeze in a sun salutation or two!

I want to get back into yoga now my baby's three months old. Is she too young to a class with me?

At YogaBellies, babies are absolutely welcome at class! Many postnatal classes are just 'baby yoga' or just 'postnatal yoga for mum.' The best kind of classes allows mums to fully integrate babies into their yoga practice, as they do in their lives. In our classes, we have a combination of gentle but strong postnatal yoga for mum but also yoga for baby.

We recommend mums wait six to eight weeks after a vaginal birth and eight to 10 weeks after a C-section. Again, make sure you are working with a qualified postnatal yoga teacher as the wrong kind of exercise can be counter productive!

I'm 28 weeks pregnant with my first baby and have heard lots of good things about hypnobirthing. I'm tempted to do it but want to know if I'm too far along in my pregnancy now?

28 weeks leaves you plenty of time to prepare for birth with hypnobirthing, There are lots of courses out there offering hypnobirthing, in Birth ROCKS we determine if you are susceptible to hypnosis before we recommend it for you. Birth hypnosis is fantastic but it’s not effective for and doesn't work for everyone. By determining YOUR personal coping style, your birth mentor will be able to advise you on what comfort techniques will suit you best during birthing, which may or may not involve hypnobirthing.

READ: 7 STEPS FOR A POSITIVE LABOUR EXPERIENCE

I am due for a C-Section on the 2 December (first baby) and I've no clue about what to expect in terms of scarring or recovery. I haven't found my obstetrician helpful and keep forgetting to ask the midwife. I also have no idea what to take with me in a hospital bag or how long I'm likely to be in. Do you have any advice?

The most important think to remember about a C-section is that it doesn't mean your birth has to be traumatic. You can still have a beautiful birth for you and your baby. It does involve serious abdominal surgery so there is a recovery period there. You will be restricted in terms of movement, which may affect your ability to feed comfortably and do day-to-day things like drive, but your midwives should be able to advise and help with this.

You will stay in hospital generally from two to four days, up to a week after a C-section depending on individual circumstances. You will probably experience abdominal discomfort and should rest and accept help where possible. Proceed with caution when returning to exercise and avoid any sit ups or similar for at least six months. Work with a perinatal yoga teacher using the breath to help rebuild the abdominals gently.

Just wondering if you could explain the benefits of yoga for pregnancy, other than keeping fit?

Yoga is fantastic during pregnancy as it incorporates gentle movement and stretching with pranayama (yogic breathing) and savasana (deep relaxation) – all of the things a tired pregnant mummy needs!

I've had two traumatic births and am now pregnant with my third child (unplanned but very happy). Would requesting a C-section be easier do you think? I'm only four months pregnant but already terrified about giving birth as I've had two such bad experiences.

I have worked with many women who have had subsequent traumatic births and then have gone on to have a great birth experience. I think it would be a good idea to work with a birth mentor or doula to work through your fears together. Look at any special circumstances that arose in the first two births and find out if there is anything indicating that this would happen again, or is there a way you can prepare for a more positive outcome?

I don't think you have to look to a C-section right now, methods such as deep relaxation and self-hypnosis could be fantastic to help you become more positive about birthing and find ways to work around any obstacles. If birth does result in a C-section then that is okay too, the important thing is that you and baby are well physically and mentally.

Are there still benefits to doing pregnancy yoga if having a C-section?

Yoga during pregnancy is not just for mums planning a natural birth, if you are having a C-section then it can still help to relax you and you can use the breathing techniques leaned in class. Being able to relax will help you prepare for surgery and the asana (physical aspects of yoga) will help you build strength and stamina and have a better all round experience of pregnancy and birth.

Do you have any suggestions as to how to prepare my husband for the birth and support me in the best way?

Yes, I think if dad is going to be at the birth (and this is an honest discussion you should have) then he needs to be your birth partner and advocate. It's his job to allow you to become completely engrossed in your birth and tune into what's happening.

If you are working with a birth mentor, they will teach dad techniques such as massage and give them birth hypnosis scripts to use with you (depending on your coping style) so that they can actively help comfort you during birth. Dad is too often popped into the corner and left to feel useless.

READ: PERINEAL CARE – MASSAGING THE PERINEUM IN PREPARATION FOR BIRTH

Any tips for avoiding tearing during birth please?

There are lots of things you can do before birth to prepare the perineum for childbirth. Try perineal massage to 'tone' the vaginal tissue before birth, this makes it more elastic and helps it ping back into place after birth as opposed to tearing. Avoid pushing baby when baby is crowning too. In my classes, I teach birthing breath, which is effectively focusing the birth downwards to help gently nudge baby out instead of pushing, which not only stresses mum and uses up energy, but can causes undue pressure on the perineum resulting in tearing.

 
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