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January 2019

I have to give birth again? To a Placenta?! What’s that?

What is the placenta?

I think we take it as a given that everybody knows what a placenta is. Its not true. I know many women who had no idea what it was until they were pregnant let alone that they they had to ‘birth’ it.

The placenta is an organ that is created when pregnant. It attaches itself to the uterus wall during your pregnancy. Its function is to keep mother and babies blood supply separate and to create a link between the two.

So exactly what does a placenta do?

For the functions that your unborn baby can’t do itself it does this for them passing oxygen and nutrients to the baby. The placenta passes waste back into the mother bloodstream to dispose of such as carbon dioxide.

Hormones are produced by the placenta that help your baby develop. It also helps baby be protected against most bacterias protecting against infection.

Any antibodies that a mother already has will be passed on to the baby towards the end of a pregnancy via the placenta. This gives baby immunity for around the first 3 months of their lives.

During pregnancy we are warned about the risks of drinking, taking drugs, not taking certain medication, avoiding too much caffeine. The reason for this is because these are all passed via the placenta to the baby.

So just how does the placenta make its entrance into the world?

During birth education you’ll often hear about the stages of labour. The third stage is when birthing the placenta takes place. Unlike birthing your baby the placenta tends to slide out in most cases but this doesn’t happened immediately. Being in an upright position should enable an easier delivery. Yep just like birth we don’t want to be lying flat on our back!

For a vaginal delivery the placenta can either be delivered physiological or managed (also known as active management). So of course if you haven’t birthed before this may mean nothing! So let me explain.

Physiological third stage

A physiological third stage is where we rely upon the body to birth our placenta. Just as it has the baby. The uterus contracts to birth the placenta when it has come away from the uterus wall. Like birth we need our oxytocin levels to be high for the uterus to work effectively to do this. So Mum & baby having lots of skin to skin & initiating feeding will really help.

The time a physiological third stage can take can vary but you can normally expect for it to take up to an hour. My personal experience with my second son was it took 50 minutes.

If a woman is low risk and has had a straightforward delivery with no intervention there wishes for this type of third stage should be supported.

Managed third stage

This is where your midwife will give you an injection in your thigh quite soon after birth. The drug administered will either be syntocinon or syntometrine. This encourages one big surge to encourage the placenta to come away quickly. With my first son I had this and it took 2 minutes after the injection was administered.

This type of delivery can be given even for the most straightforward birth if this is your wish. It is also encouraged if you’ve needed the hormone drip to speed up labour, have had a forceps or ventouse delivery. These types of interventions could mean your oxytocin levels aren’t as high as they need to be for the uterus to contract effectively.

How is the placenta delivered when you have a caesarean ?

Similar to a managed third stage for a vaginal delivery an injection will be administered to help the placenta come away. The Doctor performing the caesarean will gently tug on the umbilical cord to ensure its come away from the uterus wall before removing it.

What happens to the placenta after?

So once this amazing organ has been birthed the midwife will check that it is intact. This is to ensure it has all come out and the body hasn’t retained any.

If for any reason it has suffered any damage during the delivery or appears to have any abnormalities it will be send away for testing. This is to ensure that your baby isn’t at any risk. Its amazing what they can tell from the placenta.

If there are no concerns you can take your placenta away with you although you should refrigerate within 30 minutes of birth.

10 interesting facts about these amazing placentas…

  • They are an organ
  • The only organ created to be disposable
  • Identical twins may or may not share a placenta
  • Deliver the nutrition that babies need when in the womb
  • They are an unborn babies oxygen supply acting as their lungs
  • Made up of both Mum & Dad as the sperm is responsible for creating the placenta and umbilical cord
  • Develops and functions without being connected to the brain as not connected to the nervous system
  • Has its own endocrine system providing all the hormones for both Mum and baby throughout pregnancy.
  • When the placenta separates after birth it triggers the prolcatin hormone which is the hormone needed for milk production
  • They can be digested

Do you learn more about placentas with hypnobirthing?

Absolutely! As part of my hypnobirthing courses we talk about the third stage of labour. So that you can make an informed decision on how you birth your placenta. If how you choose to birth the placenta then has any affected on other choices you may wish to make such as delayed cord clamping.

Interested in Hypnobirthing and all that is included in a course?

I offer group courses in Twickenham and I teach private hypnobirthing courses in and around London. Including Barnes, Cobham, Hampton, Isleworth, Kew, Kingston, Richmond, St Margaret’s, Surbiton, Sunbury, Teddington, Twickenham, Walton, Whitton and surrounding areas.

Do you have a Pregnant Pal? I offer the £325 group course price for 2 or more couples but in the comfort of your own home.

So to find out more about hypnobirthing  or to book your hypnobirthing classes get in touch – I’d love to hear from you.

Follow me via my blog,  FacebookInstagram or Twitter to keep up to date with all workshops and events taking place.

Ali x

I have to give birth again? To a Placenta?! What’s that??

A Traumatic Birth to a Triumphant Experience

Laura’s traumatic birth to triumphant birth

I’ve had the pleasure of teaching quite a few of my friends over the past 6 months. Out of my friendship group Laura, who I met through my husband back in 2010, was the first that I taught in summer 2018. Laura was expecting her second baby in August. After a traumatic birth first time round I was keen to help Laura as much as I could.

Laura is an amazing family & newborn photographer so we struck up a deal. I was pregnant with my second son Jack when Laura announced her pregnancy. So Laura offered to do my maternity shoot in return for the hypnobirthing course. Who was I to argue with that.

By the time I started teaching Laura my son Jack was then 4 months old. So each week Laura & I would try to time it with our little ones afternoon naps. At the time we lived about 100 yards from one another so I’d wait for Laura’s call that her daughter was sleeping. We didn’t do too bad on the whole. Admittedly Jack did gurgle through a few relaxations!

Reflecting on Laura’s first birth

I knew a lot about Laura’s first birth and it saddened me that she’d had such a traumatic birth experience. One that stuck with not only her but her husband, Jack and her Mum, Barbara too as they’d both been present. I wanted to help Laura work through this as much as I could. I asked to read her birth reflections notes. West Middlesex Hospital had set a birth reflections up for Laura to help her understand what had happened first time round.

Laura had suffered high blood loss first time round resulting in a blood transfusion. The main cause unknown but probably a combination of trauma and uterine. Ultimately this was a concern for her second birth.

Continuity of care

Laura had amazing support from West Middlesex Hospital. Understandably Laura was anxious so she was put under the Daisy Team. This meant she could have continuity of care also known as caseloading. This is shown to have a massive impact of a woman’s birth. Due to my planned home birth i’d be lucky enough to experience this with my second pregnancy so speaking from experience it’s fantastic.

Between the Daisy Team and the Consultant Midwife they worked with Laura to write a birth proposal. Laura had expressed her wish to have a home birth but after closely looking at Laura’s case they advised against this. They did work with Laura to try and have her on the Natural Birth centre but the risk was considered to high. This was due to the previous blood loss. It was advised the safest place to be was the Labour Delivery Suite.

Once Laura knew the reasons behind the teams advice she was happy with the decision. Laura and Jack were given the facts. Resulting in a feeling that they had been made part of the decision making process. They were aware she was going to use hypnobirthing techniques and were fully supportive of this. After suffering a traumatic birth first time round everybody wanted to work with Laura to avoid this happening again so plans were put in place.

The Main event

The day came when everything started for Laura. She’d had a midwife appointment at home that day but was asked to go to the hospital as there were concerns over the heart rate. Once at the hospital everything had returned to normal. Thankfully Laura and Jack were sent on their merry way but not before Jack had tucked into the hospital bag snacks to which Laura told him they weren’t there for a picnic!

Once Laura was back home that afternoon she started to experience tightenings that were becoming more regular. Her waters hadn’t broken which was the same as her previous birth. She took a lie down and used her diffuser with lavender oil. Laura had attended the Essential Oils for Pregnancy & Birth workshop that I host alongside Happy Baby, Happy Me so was putting into practice what she’d learnt. Using her association of the scent of lavender with relaxation.

Laura messaged me to say she didn’t know if it was really it but her surges had become more regular that afternoon. I was due to go to the Chiswick Positive Birth Meeting that evening and as fate would have it it got cancelled at the last minute. I let Laura know I was around if she needed me. Also asking if she had the frankincense oil ready to use in a jar as she wished. Laura had the oil but no jar so I offered to pop down with one and to keep her company whilst Jack briefly popped out.

A little chat sometimes helps

Laura was so relaxed when I saw her. We had a chat. I encouraged her and reminded her of her techniques to use. Unbeknown to me this pep talk – which wasn’t meant to be a pep talk was what she needed. To keep her calm and confident.

Laura spoke to her Mum, Barbara whilst I was there who was on their annual family holiday in Southwold. Laura wanted her Mum with her at the birth again. So Barbara jumped in the car to be with her daughter. It was roughly a 3 hour journey. I kept my finger crossed on this beautiful summers day the roads would be kind and she wouldn’t get held up. Laura’s words to her Mum were its nowhere near as painful as it was last time so I think I’ve got a while yet. To myself I thought it won’t get to that stage that it did before it’ll be different this time round. I could just tell my Laura’s demeanour.

When Jack came back Laura was leaning over supporting her weight against the fireplace working with her body through the surge. She looked really peaceful I was confident she had this. I said to Jack right before I go let me show you some massage techniques. There was laughter and smiles. Nobody in the room seemed afraid of birth. There appeared to be no demons from the previous birth hanging around the room. I left around 19.30 confident that this wouldn’t be another traumatic birth for them. We had a few more texts that evening but I didn’t hear from Laura again after 9pm when her contractions had been roughly 5 minutes apart.

I can’t sleep!

That night I slept so lightly. Every time I woke I’d look at my phone hoping my friend was okay. I got up the next morning and I was completely disheartened. Laura & Jack’s car had been parked outside our house and it hadn’t moved. I thought surely not. Laura’s gone through the night potentially still labouring after everything seemed to be going in the right direction.

At about 8am I heard voices outside – my husband, Jamie was chatting to Jack outside. I rushed outside to see Jack doing a thumbs up sign. In delight he said Laura’s had the baby. It’s another girl Al. I cried. I said but your car hadn’t moved. Jack said Laura had the baby early hours this morning so I’ve been home since then! I was so happy. Jack said he’ll never forget my face when I started crying.

To hear Jack, who had been affected by Laura’s traumatic birth tell me ‘I never knew birth could be so beautiful’ will stay with me forever. He thanked me for what I’d done and how the pep talk had helped Laura. I said it wasn’t me who did that Laura did it. They’d had the experience I’d wanted them to have. Jack told me how amazing Laura was. How she remained active the whole time. Not being phased by being in a more medicalised room but had used it to her advantage.

Welcome Home!

Laura gave birth at 01.31 and was discharged that same day. A completely different story to that previously traumatic birth. Laura messaged me to say.

“Thanks so much for your help, it went so well. Couldn’t have hoped for better. All the hypnobirthing work was amazing and helped so much. The last minute pep talk was just what I needed! I used the pot of frankincense throughout too and that really helped. Thank you so much for all your help and advice!”

Less than 48 hours after Laura had given birth I walked into her garden to see this radiant and glowing Mum. Laura wasn’t the only one beaming, Jack was too. There eldest daughter was running around playing on her scooter. It was such a lovely scene.

Laura’s Mum, Barbara commented about the atmosphere when she arrived at Laura’s house. The candles were going, the music was playing, the lights were dimmed. This was music to my ears. Just what Laura needed to feel relaxed, in her safe place being at home for as long as possible to encourage those high Oxytocin levels.

A women births at her best unobserved in a darkened safe space. Laura had a supportive birth partner ensuring all these things were in place for her. I often use this setting as an example when I’m teaching expectant parents.

Both Jack and Barbara couldn’t believe how different this birth had been. I felt like they had all healed from the trauma they’d experienced first time.

A perfect family of four

This really was a special birth as their baby girl had been born in the amniotic sac. This is so very rare it occurs in less than 1 in 80,000 births. In that birth room there were now 2 females who had been born in the sac as Barbara was too!

I’ve included a few pics of Laura and her great birth team shortly after birth and the days that followed. Laura looking amazing after just giving birth. Laura sent me so many gorgeous pictures i just couldn’t decide what ones to use so i used them all!

Laura’s midwife said ‘she could have birthed in a barn’. Less than a week after giving birth Laura headed down to Southwold to join in on the annual family holiday. So chilled and relaxed with another baby girl in tow to join in the fun that summer. I’m sure you’d agree a complete triumph after a traumatic first birth.

Have you previously suffered a traumatic birth? Or just want to hypnobirth?

I offer group courses in Twickenham and I teach private hypnobirthing courses in and around London. Including Barnes, Cobham, Hampton, Isleworth, Kew, Kingston, Richmond, St Margaret’s, Surbiton, Sunbury, Teddington, Twickenham, Walton, Whitton and surrounding areas.

Do you have a Pregnant Pal? I offer the £325 group course price for 2 or more couples but in the comfort of your own home.

So to find out more about hypnobirthing  or to book your hypnobirthing classes get in touch – I’d love to hear from you.

Follow me via my blog,  FacebookInstagram or Twitter to keep up to date with all workshops and events taking place.

Ali x

Laura's traumatic birth to triumphant birth

Laura's traumatic birth to triumphant birth

Laura's traumatic birth to triumphant birth

Laura's traumatic birth to triumphant birth

Laura's traumatic birth to triumphant birth


A Traumatic Birth to a Triumphant Experience

Laura's traumatic birth to triumphant birth