Birth Preparation Session are now Online.
Before the current restrictions came into play, the Birth Preparation Session was usually 2 hours, face to face, in the comfort of your own home and we would have used that time to cover topics specific to your birth choices. So really, all that is changing is that I will be joining you and your birth partner (if you choose to have him/her there) via zoom, skype, whatsapp. Which ever platform works well for us both.
The investment is €60, and sessions will take between 1.5 hours to 2 hours.
How it works: If you are interested contact me on 087-1917907 and we can have an initial chat, discuss any fears, questions, areas of concerns and what topics you would like to cover in detail. From there we will set a time and date and continue the birth preparation session ten.
Hopefully the 1.5 – 2 hours will give us enough time to cover the topics, time for questions, digest the content etc.
A follow up session can be organised if needs be.
To give an example of common topics that I have covered with clients in the past:
- Switching from hospital to homebirth system
- How to stay at home for longer
- What comfort techniques to use during the different stages of labour
- The importance of staying upright and mobile during labour and birth
- Comfort measures available in the hospital
- Writing a birth preference
- Tips on how to get focused on labour and birth
- How to get my partner involved
- Preparing for a VBAC
- Preparing for a planned Cesarean
For more information contact Anita on 087-1917907 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) is an evidence based approach for women to connect in with their own cycle and understand the signs her body is telling her during her menstrual cycle. It is also known as The Billings Method, Natural Family Planning or the Ovulation Method. Having an understanding of male and female fertility is important for us all, whether it is to connect deeper with the rhythm of our bodies, plan a pregnancy or to prevent getting pregnant.
Having this connection to our cycle and understanding it is an empowering means of taking control of your reproductive health and allows women to make decisions on their own reproductive health and sexual activity. Educating yourself on FAM can help to optimise chances of pregnancy and when using a combination of fertility indicators, offer a highly effective means to avoid pregnancy and upto 98% effective (Freundl 1999) and (frank-Hermann 2007). The NHS (UK) states that with perfect use the contraceptive pill is 99% effective and with typical use is 91% effective.
Not all menstrual cycles are 28 days, knowing and understanding your cycle is a great way to start on your journey to knowing your body and witnessing the rhythm it holds.
When charting your cycle and using FAM, I recommend using a pen and paper, you can create your own chart which has body temperature, days of the cycle and cervical fluid and other notes or you can use a simple template that I have created here cycle tracking – fertility In my own opinion and experience using an app can sometimes lead to the app providing averages and giving information that may or may not be relevant to you and potentially setting seeds of doubt.
When using FAM you will be taking note on a daily basis of your cervical fluid and your basal body temperature. Other’s may recommend checking your cervix as another indicator as our cervix also changes throughout our cycles. This can take some time to get use to and for more infomation on this I would recommend checking out FertilityUK as they have some downloadable charts and information that cover this.
Before I continue, Did I mention how amazing our bodies truly are. Let’s take a moment to appreciate our body. With the right education and support, we don’t need ovulation prediction kits or birth control pills or indeed pregnancy tests. There are many industries thriving on us women not being connected to our bodies.
Just to note; FAM does not protect against Sexually Transmitted Infections or Disease. If you are interested in using FAM then you need to take responsibility and ensure an open conversation is had with your partner and appropriate screening is carried out. Your GP can give you more information on this.
For the purpose of this post, the focus is on identifying the fertile time in a cycle for pregnancy to happen, so lets dive in…..
Day 1 of your cycle is the first day of a fresh red bleed (not spotting). The last day of your cycle is the day before you start to bleed. This can vary in length for us all, very few of us have an exact 28 day cycle and that is normal. Even if your cycle is irregular, charting and connecting in with your body can give you some great insight.
The first fertile indicator is; Basal Body Temperature (BBT) is resting body temperature. This is taken first thing in the morning or after 3 hours of consecutive sleep. Once you wake and before you do anything, check your temperature, that is before you check your phone, drink water, speak etc. check your temperature and note it down. Tracking your temperature for a few cycles will give a good indication if ovulation has occurred and the length of the luteal phase of the cycle (phase after ovulation).
During our cycle, our temperature changes slightly and can be an indication to when ovulation has happened. You will need to track it for a few months to understand your cycle. It can be easy to get caught up on daily readings, but you ultimately want to identify a pattern of low and high temperatures, rather than focusing on individual ones.
The start of our cycle is known as the follicular phase, our body temperature is slightly lower in this phase of the cycle in comparison to post ovulation and our bleed time. Just before ovulation our body temperature will dip. At ovulation our BBT dips and rises by 0.3 degrees Celsius due to the hormone progesterone, it will remain elevated for at least 3 days, after ovulation we enter into the luteal phase which is typically 10-16 days long post ovulation – Our luteal phase needs to be at least 10 days for implantation to occur. You can identify when the luteal phase has ended if your BBT drops, indicating that the next cycle is about to begin, if it remains high beyond the expected time of your bleed it can be an indicator to pregnancy.
Monitoring your temperature can help identify issues such as, lack of ovulation, progesterone deficiency or luteal phase defect. If you have any concerns over your findings do seek guidance from your GP or someone trained in Fertility awareness.
The second fertile indicator is; Cervical Fluid. Cervical fluid is something not really spoken about and sometimes misunderstood. For the most part of our cycle cervical fluid is usually thick, sticky, cloudy or not visible (dry) this is known as the non fertile times. Interestingly, during the non fertile times the vagina is acidic and actually destroys the sperm. The hormone Oestrogen rises in the later part of the follicular phase changes the cervical fluid to a wetter, slippery, stretchy fluid, consistency is similar to egg whites. It is an encouraging sign that reflects the growing follicles and higher levels of oestrogen. This change in cervical fluid makes it the ideal environment for sperm to survive, and help them pass through the cervix, the uterus and into the fallopian tubes.
There are three ways that you can monitor cervical fluid, one is from just observing what is on the underwear, second is to wipe with a clean white tissue before passing urine and observe and the third is to insert a finger into the vagina and observe. Observe throughout the day and record at the end of the day.
Other signs of ovulation maybe increase in libido, mid-cycle abdominal cramp/pain, breast tenderness or spotting. You can also note these on your chart to create a fuller picture of what is going on.
I hope you have found this information useful and insightful. It is also important to further educate yourself on female and male fertility, which I will write about shortly.
Fertility Awareness Method is something I encourage all my fertility clients to do, If you are interested in having regular reflexology to support you on your fertility journey, do get in touch, I would be delighted to work with you and your partner.
If you would like to read more indept on this topic, I would recommend the book ” Taking charge of your Fertility” by Toni Weschler and her website also has downloadable charts.
Yours in Health
Frank-Herrmann, P., Heil, J., Gnoth, C., Toledo, E., Baur, S., Pyper, C., Jenetzky, E., Strowitzki, T., and Freundl, G., The effectiveness of a fertility awareness based method to avoid pregnancy in relation to a couple’s sexual behaviour during the fertile time: A prospective longitudinal study; Human Reproduction, 22(5):1310–1319, May 2007.
Freundl, G.,. European multi-centre study of natural family
planning (1989-1995). Advances in contraception. 1999; 15: 69-83
Foot Reflexology as we know it today is a relatively new modality in the world. However, the origins and traditions of foot massage are steeped in History and can be dated as far back to early recording of picture drawings carved in Ankhmahor’s tomb in Egypt, dating back to 2330 BC.
Native American’s held the belief that massaging the feet helped maintain physical, mental and spiritual balance. In China foot massage was used for it’s therapeutic effects. Foot massage is part of our lifestyle, who doesn’t like getting a foot rub and feeling good after it?
This image on the left is from Ankhmahor’s tomb and on the right is an artist representation of the image.
Dr. William Fitzgerald was very much influential in beginning the movement towards modern day Reflexology. He was an American Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeon and discovered that by applying pressure to points on the hands or feet you could bring about an Anaesthesia effect on another part of the body. Which led him to develop Zone Therapy. Zone Therapy divides the body into 10 longitudinal zones, 5 on either side of the body. So too, each foot is divided into 5 longitudinal zones, mirroring the longitudinal zones of the body. A colleague of Dr. William Fitzgerald, was Dr. Edwin Bowers and he published an article in 1915 titled “To stop that toothache squeeze your toe” which created much interested and awareness on the relationship between the feet and the whole body, Both Dr. Bowers and Dr. William Fitzgerald published Zone Therapy in 1917.
These zones formed the basis of modern day Reflexology and are still used today. In the early 1930’s it was Eunice Ingham, a Physiotherapist who worked in Riley’s Chripractic School in Washington DC. The Rileys were interested in Zone Therapy and thus exposed Enuice Ingham to the Therapy which led her to chart the whole body onto the feet and developed Reflexology as we know it today. While foot maps vary slightly, the foot maps created by Eunice Ingham are still used by Reflexologist worldwide. She also discovered that by applying pressure to various part of the feet helped relieve pain. Eunice Ingham wrote 2 books, “Stories the feet can tell” and “Stories the feet have told”.
Above: Eunice Ingham and her Husband Fred Stopfel at an Osteopathic Event
“If you’re feeling out of kilter, don’t know why or what about, let your feet reveal the answer, find the sore spot, work it out.” – Eunice Ingham
Doreen Bayle, who was a nurse and had worked alongside Eunice Ingham in America, bought Reflexology to the UK in 1966, where she set up the Bayle School of Reflexology which still exits.
In the mid 1980’s Reflexology was introduced to the Irish Audience when Sister Rosario from the Medical Missionaries of Mary, Drogheda, appeared on the Late Late Show, actually working on Gay Byrne, the Presenters feet. Some Irish graduates from Bayle School of Reflexology were Anthony Larkin, Gerry Longfield, Teresa Moloney, Annette Gardiner, Peter O’Donohue and Sheila Tracey. All paving the way for this amazing and wonderfully therapeutic modality to gain recognition amoung the Irish people.
I hope you found this history lesson interesting, If you are interested in booking in for a Reflexology session, please get in touch on 087-1917907.
If, from reading the previous blog posts and watching my videos on Instagram @somawellnessdoula you have had a light bulb moment of thinking “hhmm this is sounding all too familiar” I would strongly suggest asking your GP to test the function of your thyroid.
Getting your thyroid checked is a simple blood test that your GP can take and they might palpate around your neck to check for a goiter, I would also suggest write down your list of symptoms regardless of how crazy they may seem or unrelated, jot them down and your GP is getting a bigger overview of what is going on along with how you are feeling physically, mentally and emotionally.
The standard thyroid function test in Ireland checks your TSH and T4 hormone levels. TSH is your Thyroid Stimulating Hormone which is produced by the pituitary gland and basically tells the thyroid gland how much or little hormones to make. T4 is the Thyroxine hormone and is one of the hormones produced by the thyroid gland. The other hormones produced by the thyroid gland is T3 which is known as Triiodothyronine. (and not forgetting the hormone Calcitonin which is thought to play a role in regulating calcium levels in the body).
It is really important that we dig a little deeper and understand the workings of the hormones a little better. You might have a lot of the symptoms of thyroid problems but yet your TSH and T4 levels are coming back within range so your doctor might say something along the lines of “all is fine with your thyroid, no need to worry!!” But if you haven’t noticed T3 is not routinely tested for in the thyroid function test. Which is disappointing and frustrating as T3 is the active hormone that our body uses.
T3 and T4 are collectively known as the thyroid hormones. T4 is a relatively inactive hormone and T3 is the active hormone, in other words it is the T3 hormone that our body uses as it is biologically active and influences the activity of all the cells and tissues of your body. Approximately 20% of T3 is produced by the thyroid gland and the remaining T3 comes from T4 being converted to T3 by the cells and tissues of the body.
So if you have had “normal” blood results come back and your still experiencing symptoms and nothing else is showing up in your blood work I would suggest requesting to test for T3 levels along with your thyroid antibody test. It is important to note that some people can have normal thyroid levels but their body can still be producing antibodies.
FYI from speaking with my Endocrinologist she advised me that in relation to TSH there is a normal reference range, from 0.2 to 5, however, the optimal range is 0.2 – 2.5 and for anyone trying to conceive or having fertility issues and you have been told that you are borderline underactive or that your are underactive you need to be making sure that your TSH level is at the optimal level and not just the normal level. This is a conversation I would strongly encourage you to have with your GP if it relates to you. If your not happy with their answer always ask for a second opinion and do your research.
My final piece of advice and this goes for all blood tests that you get done, is to always ask for a print out of your blood results and the ranges. It is so important to become an active participant in your own health and wellness and ask your care provider questions and get clarification if you need to.
In my own personal story I was nervous, doubting myself and unsure of “questioning” a medical professional to do extra thyroid tests, it took alot of courage to ask for the tests but I am so glad that I did. My GP was the one who initially referred me to the website www.thyroiduk.org and from there I learnt so much, it is a great place to start with and build your knowledge. There is also an Irish Facebook group called Thyroid Ireland. and also some really good information on Dr. Neville Wilson website
I hope you found the information helpful and above all it sparked something in you to begin your path to optimal health and wellness.
Sources for this blog post came from:
Disclaimer: I am not medically trained so please take the information provided here as educational purpose. I strongly recommend to go and talk to your GP, Doctor, Endocrinologist or medical profession. Start the conversation and get involved in your health and wellness.