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Childbirth Classes and Alternative Birthing Options

Posted on August 11 2020

Childbirth classes will help you take care of your precious newborn, as well as educate you on your birth, and recovery.

Learn all about taking care of your baby, as well as what to expect during your delivery and postpartum in childbirth classes. There are myriad benefits to attending childbirth classes during your pregnancy. Leila Ng Caceres, US-trained and certified DONA Birth & Postpartum Doula, and Lamaze Childbirth Educator, will share everything you need to know about giving birth and taking care of your baby. Regardless of whether you’re giving birth naturally or via Caesarean section, parents will benefit greatly from these classes. We catch up with her to find out more about these classes, alternative birthing options and what to expect after giving birth

 

 

Labour and Giving Birth

When mums start their labour, they can use tools like birthing balls to support mobile, active birth positions.

Attending childbirth classes will help parents learn about labour comfort measures and how these pain relief methods work naturally. Founder of Leila & Co, Leila shares her top tips, “Let labour begin naturally! Eat and drink during labour, and lastly, labour and birth off your back!”

 

 

Going into Labour

Signs that your labour has started include contractions, where your uterus tightens then relaxes. These will slowly become longer, and more frequent. Accompanying these may be backaches, or a heavy period-type pain, the “show”, where your mucus plug comes away, and when your waters break. Other signs also include nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. During this time, eat small, light and carbohydrate-rich foods to keep your energy levels up, and also hydrate yourself.

 

 

Managing Labour Pains

Additionally, try to relax as much as possible, so you can cope with the contractions. You can also remain upright and active, so that your baby moves into a good position and down into the pelvis. In turn, your baby’s head will then press on the cervix and encourage it to dilate. Other things you can do is have your back massaged, or have a warm bath or shower. You can also try alternative therapies like yoga, aromatherapy, reflexology, homeopathy and hypnobirthing.

In particular, HypnoBirthing comprises several relaxation and self-hypnosis techniques like controlled breathing, focusing on positive thoughts and words, and guided visualisation. Some benefits of HypnoBirthing include shortened labour, especially for the first stage, and natural pain management. Additionally, this may lead to a reduced need for intervention, and gives mums more control. Leila says, “Mothers who use hypnobirthing start early in their pregnancy and they self-hypnotise to reduce fear, anxiety and pain perceptions.”

Do phone your gynaecologist, midwife or hospital when you’re starting your labour and go in for checks if required, especially if you’re having the following conditions. One of these is if you’re having regular contractions, when the duration and frequency are stable over time. Other conditions include if you’re in constant pain, have fresh red blood loss and any worries for yourself or the baby, and if your waters break.

 

 

Upright Positions

While many of us associate childbirth with lying on our backs, there are other positions that may be beneficial for you and your baby. Such positions include standing or squatting while being supported by your partner, using a birth seat, or kneeling or on hands and knees. Some benefits include having gravity to help bring your baby down and out, while reducing the risk of compressing your aorta, so your little one gets better oxygen supply. This also helps your baby get into a better location to pass through the pelvis, which widens when you’re in such alignments.

 

 

Home Births

Aside from the usual childbirth options, parents-to-be can also consider alternatives like water or home births. Do research these options so you can make the best choice for yourself and your baby. For mums considering trying out home births, Leila says, “they can research more about it and engage a care-provider who can offer them the birth that they want.” However, do note that your care provider will have to check your pregnancy and health before giving you the green light for a home birth. As home birthing is fairly rare in Singapore, there’s only one obstetrician who does it. Dr Lai Fon-Min, with his own private practice A Company of Women. To date, he has done 112 home births.

During a home birth, the father has to regularly check the foetal heart rate with a Doppler or portable heart rate monitor, and you should also have a doula with you to help you through your labour. Other supplies you may want with you include a tub, oxygen tank, birth ball, plastic sheeting to protect your floors, sofas and beds, and plenty of towels. However, home births are suitable only for mums who are having low-risk pregnancies. Do ensure your doctor, or care provider has given you the green light to proceed with home birthing.

 

 

Water Births

Another, probably safer route is to choose a water birth, available in Thomson Medical and National University Hospital. Leila says, “If you love water, women have reported that it helps to lower the perception of pain experienced. Water resistance also lowers the risks of perineum tearing.” Water birth provides your baby with an environment similar to the amniotic sac and can help ease the stress of birth. Additionally, using a birthing pool may help ease pain, so you don’t need anaesthesia, and it may help speed up your labour. Since you’ll be in a delivery suite with the water birth facility, you’ll also have the care of medical professionals should you need it.

 

 

Gentle Caesarean: Options for Planned Caesarean Mums

Mums opting for a C-section can empower themselves by knowing their options, and choose a gentler Caesarean if that’s what they prefer.

 

Even mums who are opting for a planned Caesarean can benefit from attending childbirth courses. In particular, they can learn how to have better, gentler Caesareans, educate themselves on the recovery, as well as ensure better breastfeeding.    

Adding on to this, Leila says, “A gentler caesarean can mean a caesarean where your preferences are met.” This includes, “vaginal seeding, skin-to-skin with fathers, breastfeeding as soon as possible and many more,” she adds.

For a gentle Caesarean, request an epidural or spinal block - you want to avoid general anaesthesia and extra drugs, if at all possible. Additionally, you can ask for monitoring devices to be placed further away so you can see, hold and breastfeed your baby. Other elements of gentle Caesareans include watching your baby lifted from your belly through a clear drape, skin-to-skin contact while you’re being sutured, and breastfeeding in the operating room.

More preferences may be to request the umbilical cord clamp or cut delay until it stops pulsing, for the placenta to be saved, and to play your favourite music in the operating room. Additionally, you may like to hold your baby while you’re being wheeled into recovery, so you and your spouse can bond with your baby there. Do discuss these options with your obstetrician and see if they can be accommodated.

 

 

After Delivery

Holding your newborn for the first time can result in a rush of emotions.

 

 

Hospital Stay

Leila says, “Immediately post birth, your baby will spend at least one hour with you skin-to-skin and breastfeeding before the nurses weigh and measure your baby.” After this, you’ll be moved to the maternity wards where your baby can and will room-in with you. She adds, “There are many benefits to that.” Some of these include having the time to spend on breastfeeding, as well as getting a lactation consultant to help with any feeding problems and bonding more with your baby. This helps you learn how to provide for your baby’s needs and how to soothe him/her. Additionally, you can enlist the help of your nurse or lactation consultants to help you with any issues, and you could get more sleep. However, you can also let your nurse know if you’re exhausted and just need rest, so your baby can be brought to the nursery.

Over the next few days, your OB-GYN and the paediatrician will come in once a day to check on you and your baby. Expect your baby to have multiple blood tests and vaccinations. A lactation consultant may also visit you. Once everything checks out for you and your baby, you can be discharged and head home.

Hospital Bag Checklist: What to Pack for Your Delivery

 

 

Postpartum Recovery

Leila advises, “Focus on 3Bs - Breastfeeding, Bonding and Bedrest! Breastfeeding helps to shrink your uterus fast, helping to prevent further blood loss!” Additionally, bonding with your baby will keep your oxytocin levels running high, thereby increasing your milk supply and helping your uterus to contract. For the first five to eight days, prioritise bed rest as your organs, muscles, and joints have worked overtime growing and birthing your baby.

 

 

Breastfeeding

Start latching your baby as soon as possible to build your milk supply - your baby is the best breast pump.

 

To get latching right, Leila suggests “it’s best to learn during pregnancy - how to hold your baby, what are the signs that your baby is drinking effectively, and what is a good or bad latch”. Breastfeeding, she says, “is actually a learned skill, it does not usually come to you naturally”. When you’re struggling with breastfeeding after you’ve given birth, do get a professional, such as breastfeeding counsellors, lactation consultants or a postpartum doula to help you.

Moreover, Leila recommends latching to help produce enough breast milk for your baby. She says, “Your baby is your best pump and ‘communicator’ to your breast milk-making machines (your breasts). If you allow your baby and breasts to hang out more, they will communicate and make it work.” Although breastfeeding is hard work in the beginning, it will keep getting better and easier. She suggests latching whenever possible, since your baby will completely empty your breast better than any breast pump.

When your baby latches on, his/her mouth creates a vacuum on your areola, activating your Montgomery glands to create a unique formula perfectly suited for your little one. Breastfeeding is hard work in the beginning but it will keep getting better and easier. For example, your little one might need to be fed every hour, because their stomachs are the size of a cherry and need up to 15ml of milk. Additionally, your baby completely digests your breast milk and colostrum, so don’t worry if he/she doesn’t poop or pee.

 

 

Watch the Baby, Not the Clock

While the recommendation is that babies should be fed every two to three hours, or eight to 12 times a day, sometimes they can go four to five hours without feeding. It spaces out during the 24 hours, and may not follow the set timetable. Instead of timing the feeds, Leila suggests watching your baby for cues. Once they cry, they’re usually “hangry” and will not want to feed immediately. Instead, you’ll have to calm your little one down first before you can feed him/her.

 

 

Skin to Skin Contact

In the “golden hour” after your baby is born, the hospitals will allow you to have an hour of skin-to-skin contact. This causes a surge of oxytocin, to stimulate prolactin, the breastfeeding hormone. Coupled with the smell of your baby and their little movements, these will all help to start your breasts to start producing breast milk.

Once you’re home, you can still practice skin-to-skin contact. With your baby clad only in a diaper, snuggle your baby upright on your chest. You can place a blanket over both of you if necessary, especially to avoid catching a chill, as confinement practices warn against. These sessions, usually an hour long, should be as comforting as possible, preferably during breast or bottle-feeding, in the morning or right after baths. Babies can settle better into a full sleep and wake cycle. Some experts recommend this for at least three months for full-term babies, and twice that for premature babies.

Some additional breastfeeding aids: Breast Pumps, Lactation Cookies, Nursing Bras, Pillows and Covers

 

 

Attending an Intensive Childbirth Class

Dads can get involved in these childbirth classes and help their spouses through labour.

 

Parents attending this one-day crash course will learn everything they need to know about labour, birth, breastfeeding and baby care, even what happens in the hospital, when to go to the hospital and what to expect caring for your newborn.

Dads too should attend these classes. Leila says that she shares many tips “based on experience with the couples and how their birth partners can best support them.” These will include how best to support their spouses, what to pack in the birth bag and knowing when the right time is to go to the hospital. Through these classes, dads will also learn how to soothe a crying baby, swaddle him/her and change diapers. Regarding childbirth, she says, “Partners will also learn how to help your wife cope with labour, the different ways of massaging for her and many more!”

You may go for Childbirth Classes Run by US-trained and certified DONA Birth & Postpartum Doula, and Lamaze Childbirth Educator Leila Ng, you’ll learn all you need to know about your birth and taking care of your baby. Topics will include baby sleep cycles, mummy self-care, alternative feeding methods, breastfeeding, labour and caesarean.

Relevant Reads: Breastfeeding - What You Need to Know, Breastfeeding Essentials, and Third Trimester - Symptoms and Preparing for Labour

Childbirth classes will help you take care of your precious newborn, as well as educate you on your birth, and recovery.

Learn all about taking care of your baby, as well as what to expect during your delivery and postpartum in childbirth classes. There are myriad benefits to attending childbirth classes during your pregnancy. Leila Ng Caceres, US-trained and certified DONA Birth & Postpartum Doula, and Lamaze Childbirth Educator, will share everything you need to know about giving birth and taking care of your baby. Regardless of whether you’re giving birth naturally or via Caesarean section, parents will benefit greatly from these classes. We catch up with her to find out more about these classes, alternative birthing options and what to expect after giving birth.

 

 

Labour and Giving Birth

When mums start their labour, they can use tools like birthing balls to support mobile, active birth positions.

Attending childbirth classes will help parents learn about labour comfort measures and how these pain relief methods work naturally. Founder of Leila & Co, Leila shares her top tips, “Let labour begin naturally! Eat and drink during labour, and lastly, labour and birth off your back!”

 

 

Going into Labour

Signs that your labour has started include contractions, where your uterus tightens then relaxes. These will slowly become longer, and more frequent. Accompanying these may be backaches, or a heavy period-type pain, the “show”, where your mucus plug comes away, and when your waters break. Other signs also include nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. During this time, eat small, light and carbohydrate-rich foods to keep your energy levels up, and also hydrate yourself.

 

 

Managing Labour Pains

Additionally, try to relax as much as possible, so you can cope with the contractions. You can also remain upright and active, so that your baby moves into a good position and down into the pelvis. In turn, your baby’s head will then press on the cervix and encourage it to dilate. Other things you can do is have your back massaged, or have a warm bath or shower. You can also try alternative therapies like yoga, aromatherapy, reflexology, homeopathy and hypnobirthing.

In particular, HypnoBirthing comprises several relaxation and self-hypnosis techniques like controlled breathing, focusing on positive thoughts and words, and guided visualisation. Some benefits of HypnoBirthing include shortened labour, especially for the first stage, and natural pain management. Additionally, this may lead to a reduced need for intervention, and gives mums more control. Leila says, “Mothers who use hypnobirthing start early in their pregnancy and they self-hypnotise to reduce fear, anxiety and pain perceptions.”

Do phone your gynaecologist, midwife or hospital when you’re starting your labour and go in for checks if required, especially if you’re having the following conditions. One of these is if you’re having regular contractions, when the duration and frequency are stable over time. Other conditions include if you’re in constant pain, have fresh red blood loss and any worries for yourself or the baby, and if your waters break.

 

 

Upright Positions

While many of us associate childbirth with lying on our backs, there are other positions that may be beneficial for you and your baby. Such positions include standing or squatting while being supported by your partner, using a birth seat, or kneeling or on hands and knees. Some benefits include having gravity to help bring your baby down and out, while reducing the risk of compressing your aorta, so your little one gets better oxygen supply. This also helps your baby get into a better location to pass through the pelvis, which widens when you’re in such alignments.

 

 

Home Births

Aside from the usual childbirth options, parents-to-be can also consider alternatives like water or home births. Do research these options so you can make the best choice for yourself and your baby. For mums considering trying out home births, Leila says, “they can research more about it and engage a care-provider who can offer them the birth that they want.” However, do note that your care provider will have to check your pregnancy and health before giving you the green light for a home birth. As home birthing is fairly rare in Singapore, there’s only one obstetrician who does it. Dr Lai Fon-Min, with his own private practice A Company of Women. To date, he has done 112 home births.

During a home birth, the father has to regularly check the foetal heart rate with a Doppler or portable heart rate monitor, and you should also have a doula with you to help you through your labour. Other supplies you may want with you include a tub, oxygen tank, birth ball, plastic sheeting to protect your floors, sofas and beds, and plenty of towels. However, home births are suitable only for mums who are having low-risk pregnancies. Do ensure your doctor, or care provider has given you the green light to proceed with home birthing.

 

 

Water Births

Another, probably safer route is to choose a water birth, available in Thomson Medical and National University Hospital. Leila says, “If you love water, women have reported that it helps to lower the perception of pain experienced. Water resistance also lowers the risks of perineum tearing.” Water birth provides your baby with an environment similar to the amniotic sac and can help ease the stress of birth. Additionally, using a birthing pool may help ease pain, so you don’t need anaesthesia, and it may help speed up your labour. Since you’ll be in a delivery suite with the water birth facility, you’ll also have the care of medical professionals should you need it.

 

 

Gentle Caesarean: Options for Planned Caesarean Mums

Mums opting for a C-section can empower themselves by knowing their options, and choose a gentler Caesarean if that’s what they prefer.

 

Even mums who are opting for a planned Caesarean can benefit from attending childbirth courses. In particular, they can learn how to have better, gentler Caesareans, educate themselves on the recovery, as well as ensure better breastfeeding.    

Adding on to this, Leila says, “A gentler caesarean can mean a caesarean where your preferences are met.” This includes, “vaginal seeding, skin-to-skin with fathers, breastfeeding as soon as possible and many more,” she adds.

For a gentle Caesarean, request an epidural or spinal block - you want to avoid general anaesthesia and extra drugs, if at all possible. Additionally, you can ask for monitoring devices to be placed further away so you can see, hold and breastfeed your baby. Other elements of gentle Caesareans include watching your baby lifted from your belly through a clear drape, skin-to-skin contact while you’re being sutured, and breastfeeding in the operating room.

More preferences may be to request the umbilical cord clamp or cut delay until it stops pulsing, for the placenta to be saved, and to play your favourite music in the operating room. Additionally, you may like to hold your baby while you’re being wheeled into recovery, so you and your spouse can bond with your baby there. Do discuss these options with your obstetrician and see if they can be accommodated.

 

 

After Delivery

Holding your newborn for the first time can result in a rush of emotions.

 

 

Hospital Stay

Leila says, “Immediately post birth, your baby will spend at least one hour with you skin-to-skin and breastfeeding before the nurses weigh and measure your baby.” After this, you’ll be moved to the maternity wards where your baby can and will room-in with you. She adds, “There are many benefits to that.” Some of these include having the time to spend on breastfeeding, as well as getting a lactation consultant to help with any feeding problems and bonding more with your baby. This helps you learn how to provide for your baby’s needs and how to soothe him/her. Additionally, you can enlist the help of your nurse or lactation consultants to help you with any issues, and you could get more sleep. However, you can also let your nurse know if you’re exhausted and just need rest, so your baby can be brought to the nursery.

Over the next few days, your OB-GYN and the paediatrician will come in once a day to check on you and your baby. Expect your baby to have multiple blood tests and vaccinations. A lactation consultant may also visit you. Once everything checks out for you and your baby, you can be discharged and head home.

Hospital Bag Checklist: What to Pack for Your Delivery

 

 

Postpartum Recovery

Leila advises, “Focus on 3Bs - Breastfeeding, Bonding and Bedrest! Breastfeeding helps to shrink your uterus fast, helping to prevent further blood loss!” Additionally, bonding with your baby will keep your oxytocin levels running high, thereby increasing your milk supply and helping your uterus to contract. For the first five to eight days, prioritise bed rest as your organs, muscles, and joints have worked overtime growing and birthing your baby.

 

 

Breastfeeding

Start latching your baby as soon as possible to build your milk supply - your baby is the best breast pump.

 

To get latching right, Leila suggests “it’s best to learn during pregnancy - how to hold your baby, what are the signs that your baby is drinking effectively, and what is a good or bad latch”. Breastfeeding, she says, “is actually a learned skill, it does not usually come to you naturally”. When you’re struggling with breastfeeding after you’ve given birth, do get a professional, such as breastfeeding counsellors, lactation consultants or a postpartum doula to help you.

Moreover, Leila recommends latching to help produce enough breast milk for your baby. She says, “Your baby is your best pump and ‘communicator’ to your breast milk-making machines (your breasts). If you allow your baby and breasts to hang out more, they will communicate and make it work.” Although breastfeeding is hard work in the beginning, it will keep getting better and easier. She suggests latching whenever possible, since your baby will completely empty your breast better than any breast pump.

When your baby latches on, his/her mouth creates a vacuum on your areola, activating your Montgomery glands to create a unique formula perfectly suited for your little one. Breastfeeding is hard work in the beginning but it will keep getting better and easier. For example, your little one might need to be fed every hour, because their stomachs are the size of a cherry and need up to 15ml of milk. Additionally, your baby completely digests your breast milk and colostrum, so don’t worry if he/she doesn’t poop or pee.

 

 

Watch the Baby, Not the Clock

While the recommendation is that babies should be fed every two to three hours, or eight to 12 times a day, sometimes they can go four to five hours without feeding. It spaces out during the 24 hours, and may not follow the set timetable. Instead of timing the feeds, Leila suggests watching your baby for cues. Once they cry, they’re usually “hangry” and will not want to feed immediately. Instead, you’ll have to calm your little one down first before you can feed him/her.

 

 

Skin to Skin Contact

In the “golden hour” after your baby is born, the hospitals will allow you to have an hour of skin-to-skin contact. This causes a surge of oxytocin, to stimulate prolactin, the breastfeeding hormone. Coupled with the smell of your baby and their little movements, these will all help to start your breasts to start producing breast milk.

Once you’re home, you can still practice skin-to-skin contact. With your baby clad only in a diaper, snuggle your baby upright on your chest. You can place a blanket over both of you if necessary, especially to avoid catching a chill, as confinement practices warn against. These sessions, usually an hour long, should be as comforting as possible, preferably during breast or bottle-feeding, in the morning or right after baths. Babies can settle better into a full sleep and wake cycle. Some experts recommend this for at least three months for full-term babies, and twice that for premature babies.

Some additional breastfeeding aids: Breast Pumps, Lactation Cookies, Nursing Bras, Pillows and Covers

 

 

Attending an Intensive Childbirth Class

Dads can get involved in these childbirth classes and help their spouses through labour.

 

Parents attending this one-day crash course will learn everything they need to know about labour, birth, breastfeeding and baby care, even what happens in the hospital, when to go to the hospital and what to expect caring for your newborn.

Dads too should attend these classes. Leila says that she shares many tips “based on experience with the couples and how their birth partners can best support them.” These will include how best to support their spouses, what to pack in the birth bag and knowing when the right time is to go to the hospital. Through these classes, dads will also learn how to soothe a crying baby, swaddle him/her and change diapers. Regarding childbirth, she says, “Partners will also learn how to help your wife cope with labour, the different ways of massaging for her and many more!”

You may go for Childbirth Classes Run by US-trained and certified DONA Birth & Postpartum Doula, and Lamaze Childbirth Educator Leila Ng, you’ll learn all you need to know about your birth and taking care of your baby. Topics will include baby sleep cycles, mummy self-care, alternative feeding methods, breastfeeding, labour and caesarean.

Relevant Reads: Breastfeeding - What You Need to Know, Breastfeeding Essentials, and Third Trimester - Symptoms and Preparing for Labour