Episode 6 - Changes To Birthing From COVID19
Sophie Walker, founder of the Australian Birth Stories Podcast, mother of 3 and masters in Public Health, talks changes to the support structure in the birthing room, and why now more than ever, we need to take birthing into our own hands, and the positives and negatives to come out of our changes to care in COVID19
[00:00:00] Welcome to the Mama Matters podcast! Whether you're expecting you've recently given birth, or you are just chatting along your fertility journey, it's time to get down to the nitty gritty and sort fact from fiction. I'm your host, Rosie Dumbrell, Physiotherapist and pregnancy expert. Mama Matters aims to provide an easily digestible, up to date and evidence based approach to pregnancy, birth and motherhood with a side dose of humour along the way. With interviews from the industry's leading experts and experience of my own adventures as a mother to three gorgeous boys under four, I want to share the stuff that helps to grow confidence throughout motherhood. Mama Matters is a podcast by Lenny Rose Active.
[00:00:41] I have Spoken to a few women recently, and there's some actually some beautiful things coming out of this pandemic as well. Like the midwives were saying to this one particular woman that by not having visitors on the ward, it just gave them more time to look after the mothers and to help with breastfeeding and allow them to kind of just have their shirts off and try to organize their latch without their mother in law dropping in all those extra visitors if you're in a shared room. So there are some advantages.
[00:01:07] Hi, ladies. Welcome back. So great to be here, I think as you can already tell. I'm just loving being behind the microphone and being able to collate and bring all of my amazing contacts in the pregnancy and women's health space stitched into one library of information. So if you're enjoying what you're listening to, please shout us out with the #mamamatters. You can also reach out if you have any requests or feedback over on my Instagram, which is @lennyroseactive. As well, you can shoot us an email via the website at : lennyroseactive.com.au.
You guys probably have already heard just how passionate I am personally about helping to bring women into wellness and confidence throughout the motherhood journey. And so it's really with such pleasure today that I introduce our guest, who is the amazing Sophie Walker of Australian Birth Stories. So if you haven't heard of Australian birth stories, it's a very large collection of Australian women's birth stories, which Sophie's been collecting for a couple of years. It's just the most beautiful collection of, you know, women's stories and sort of helping them to not only get their birth story out there, but just act as such a beautiful library and resource for women who are perhaps coming into pregnancy for the first time or who had a at birth that they perhaps weren't as happy with.
[00:02:25] And to have this beautiful resource to be able to call on to see the different sort of types of situations and scenarios that can happen. She also has a master's in public health and a very strong interest in women's health, as well as three beautiful boys. And obviously having had three of her own births and it was the first of her births that really inspired her to want to educate herself on sort of how things can go differently. After hypnobirthing in her second and third births had a very different experience. So I've got my birth stories over there. I was really lucky to nab a spot. There's a really big wait list, but somehow managed to wrap Sophie into that. So you can actually listen to my episodes. Positive birth stories of my first two births. So yeah, without further ado, we are really excited to bring to you today this interview with Sophie.
[00:03:20] So welcome. Sophie, thank you so much for taking time to join us. Busy mother of three and podcast yourself with the amazing Australian Birth Stories. Thanks so much for joining us on the show. Oh, thanks so much for having me. I was just saying before we pressed record how pretty cool it is to have a little moment of peace and quiet! Haha!
[00:03:47] So it's a bit crazy. I really value, and I'm sure our listeners will as well, your insight into the current situation around changes to antenatal care and support, given we are in the midst of a huge and unprecedented pandemic. And you know, you have such a wealth of knowledge on different types births, and a lot from your epic works of Australian Birth Stories, many amazing stories that you've recorded over the last couple of years, as well as your own three births and your history in public health. In a recent chat to Dr Guy Skinner, who's a Melbourne based Obstetrician, we were talking about how only one support person is currently allowed antenatal appointments and births in Australia. And this is a measure that's been taken to help protect healthcare workers and obviously stop the spread of COVID19 as much as possible. He believes that having a partner there is not increasing their risk of spreading the virus as if we're cohabitating. Then, you know, if one partner's got the virus in the other one is going to have it as well. But it’s having that additional external support in the mix that increases the risk of spreading. And then on the other end of the spectrum, we've got Avira Romm, an American medical doctor and midwife and she started the movement #ideservebirthsupport, which is gaining a little bit of traction. And, you know, I really can't help but feel pulled in the middle of these two. I think there's really a valid argument for both of these kind of points of view. And I'd just love to know where you sit with all of this?
[00:05:18] Well, it's definitely unprecedented. And I think it's so hard for pregnant women. There's so many unknowns in birth. Just going in without a pandemic. So adding all of this is really unnerving. And with things changing daily, really almost. Yeah, daily, it looks like it does look like most hospitals, from what I've heard at the moment, are allowing just one person. So very sadly, a lot of people having to cancel their bookings with doulas and particularly birth photographers, which is really, really devastating, I think particularly as that's kind of what I've got a passion for as well. But I think it is necessary from everything that I've read personally, I think it is necessary is devastating as it is. I've done a few interviews recently with mothers that haven't been able to be there to support their daughters, which is robbing them of that opportunity to see their grandchild born, which is devastating. But I think, again, with a public health background, I think it's for the greater good of the community. We have to just take that on board at the moment, as sad as it is.
[00:06:15] Yeah, I mean, I can imagine. I absolutely cannot imagine having to be in that position myself at the moment. And I really, really feel for women out there. But yes, as you do say, we've kind of got to, you know, all get behind doing everything that we can to help stop the spread of the disease. And, you know, reducing the numbers, you know, in this situation is one way that we're hoping to be able to do that.
So do you have any tips for a woman who is going into birth that is, you know, currently not able to access perhaps the same level of numbers of support or they are going into birth with a different support system than perhaps they might have liked to. Is there any sort of tips that you have for a woman to sort of help, you know, still go into birth in a positive sense?
[00:07:02] You know, I think some really exciting fast shifts are happening. A lot of different organizations are putting their courses online. So I know HypnoBirthing Australia, which is the course that I've undertaken, which I am a big supporter of this course. She births, Calm Birth, lots of different organizations, have quickly made their courses really accessible. So I think women need to just educate themselves as best they can on the day. I mean, I'm a big believer of continuity of care, but really, when it comes down to it in birth, it is all on you. So I think getting your mindset and educating yourself, you're going to be your greatest asset on the day. And I think you can probably attest to that yourself. You're going into subsequent births. You need to you do mind coaching, which again, is challenging when everybody's anxious and unsure, but trying to just recenter yourself and focus on that special moment where you're going to be giving birth yourself. So having those toolkits yourself and I think there are plenty of great tools you can still utilize if your birth classes have been cancelled. I think I've spoken to a few women recently and there's some actually some beautiful things coming out of this pandemic as well. Like the midwives were saying to this one particular woman that by not having visitors on the ward, it just gave them more time to look after the mothers and to help with breastfeeding and allow them to kind of just have their shirts off and try to organize their lunch without their mother in law dropping in all those extra visitors if you're in a shared room. So there are some advantages towards being secluded at this time and focusing on yourself and your baby and your partner. Think of the good bits as well.
[00:08:39] Yeah. And that's just sort of brings to mind, you know, I think the more children I've had along the way, the more I really craved that sort of, I guess, solace and sort of quiet time alone time as a family bonding in the immediate period postpartum. And I think in Western world, we don't tend to do that very well. We tend to sort of, you know, just get back on our merry way. And do you know in eastern cultures, a woman is, you know, very much confined to a home and, you know, might have a lot of people helping her out. But there's certainly, you know, they are staying at home and they're not having a lot of visitors other than, you know, immediate family helping with chores and things like that. And I think, you know, maybe that's another positive takeaways that, you know, you really can nest and spend that time just really with your immediate family and your baby.
[00:09:28] And I think that's definite pros. And it's sort of an enforced confinement at least 40 days for every woman now. And there's lots of good research on why that's great for you. There are some things that I am a bit more concerned about and that sort of midwives and all those subsequent appointments that you usually have in your home with your midwife, they're all being changed. And I think they're depending on what state you're in and what hospital. But I've had a few accounts of they've just been over the phone, which is a little bit daunting, especially for first time, mum. So making sure we still bridge that gap and support women sort of mentally and physically through that recovery. That's going to be a real challenge at the moment, I think. And we'll have to rely on our friends and other mothers to help fill that gap. Where you're having less face to face contact with the support staff person?
[00:10:18] Yeah, definitely. Yeah. And yeah, I mean, hopefully they could look at doing it sort of more of a zoom as opposed to just to phone calls. Doesn't really have the same kind of effect does it. Sort of. Yeah. Kind of eyeballing someone. Yeah.
[00:10:30] Watching for a latch and jaundice and things like that. They're the kind of things that I'm worried about at the moment, but everyone's learning on their feet. And I think I'm sure the midwives and all the health care providers are working on and kind of surrounding women in that time and making sure that nobody fall through the cracks. But it is. Yeah, everybody's pushed for time and adapting quickly.
[00:10:52] I know that I've been speaking with the amazing Jan Ireland, who I'm sure you know of Mama Melbourne. That they're talking about adapting some of their services to online and some a couple of programs, especially around training your support person to assist in the birth and in the postpartum period as well. And so that's a nice little segway into one question, which I'm just going to put you on the spot.
[00:11:17] But do you have any tips for, I guess, support people or how a woman can, you know, get their partner a little more involved? And I guess get them upskilled for assisting them through the labour and birth process.
[00:11:31] Yeah. I think now is definitely not the time to be ‘winging it’ on the day. If you've just got one person and you're putting all your eggs in that basket. I think you definitely need to get them on board with whatever birth mode or whichever course you're kind of aligned with. So say you want to do hypnobirthing and it's really important that you share those techniques with them and practice them ahead of time. And I think, yeah, doing things like touch massage was not something I wanted to have in my labour, but maybe try it in the prep and equip them with a tool kit so they're not lost and confused when it's all happening that they go, oh okay. We've talked about, you know, lower back pressure and maybe I could try doing, you know, a cold face wash or things like that, but have them educated and definitely don't let them fly in blind. Now's the time to train them up and really talk to them about your preferences. So you're on the same page?
[00:12:25] Yeah, 100 percent. I think the whole preferences or, you know, we can all go in with, I guess, an ideal birth plan or scenario. But, you know, really we want to look at what we prefer and what we sort of want our partner to advocate for us. You know, in those perhaps moments where we're kind of too consumed to do that for ourselves. But you know, that that support person really is your advocate for your wishes and for making sure that, you know, things are communicated well and you are going through each step of the process, I guess, informed about the whys and the what's rather than just sort of, you know, yet flying blind. So, you know, I think that's really, really key as well as, you know, that they step up to that role, too. And definitely in hypnobirthing and calm birthing they really do encourage that sort of togetherness with the with the planning and with, you know, advocating for what it is that you desire. So, yeah, really, really great tips there. Thanks, Sophie. You also have amazing support package for postpartum that you released a little almost a year ago now. Yeah. And it's been in collaboration with some of Melbourne's most amazing women's health specialists. Can you tell us a little bit more about this here?
[00:13:36] So I went round to health care providers that I've used myself in my most recent recovery and interviewed them about how to best equip yourself for the early stages of postpartum. So we took to lactation consultants, pelvic floor physios, a psychologist who specializes in post and antenatal depression and anxiety, all the key issues and sort of trigger points for different things. And it's quite timely now when you've got less access face to face to these people that you can just download these and listen to them like a podcast. So I've got two series now and altogether there's eleven interviews with healthcare professionals and the second series talks about a variety of things like post-natal depletion and how to replenish your body and then even sex after having a baby. So lots of different topics that have definitely been topical with my audience. And I've received questions from my sort of community and taken them to the experts. So it's a beautiful package for anyone who's interested in downloading and getting themselves in the postnatal kind of recovery mindset. That's amazing. Whereabouts can they access that? Just on your website Australian Birth Stories? Yes all the links are on there and on Instagram, @australianbirthstories with lots of sort of inspirational images and different bits of information there. So if you want to have a look there as well.
[00:14:59] Yeah. So funny I was a couple of weeks ago, obviously, before all the restrictions came in place. I was walking at the beach at Barwon heads with my kids and randomly bumped into a pregnant lady who was a stranger.
[00:15:11] And somehow we got talking about something to her. Because, you know, I was asking her about - it wasn't too long before she was about to have a baby anyway. What are you doing to prepare? I was like “make sure you are listening to Australian Birth Stories’ and she just like “I'm already listening to it” and I was like, “oh, my God! Make sure you listen to my story because you want to listen to positive births. And I've got some great ones. And she was like, oh, great. Yeah. It was it was really cool. So, yeah, you're doing such a great thing. And yeah. I hope that you know that.
[00:15:42] And there are so many grateful woman out there that they have this beautiful resource that they can draw on. And I think now more than ever, you know, we all need to support each other. And yeah. What a wonderful resource women have access to through your amazing podcast. So thanks so much for joining us and doing all the amazing things that you're doing and for your insight into this really important and topical area. Thanks so much, Rosie it was so nice to chat.
[00:16:10] So, so lovely to chat to Sophie. And such important work that she's doing over on Australian Birth Stories. So I highly recommend you listen to her podcast. And in fact, I just I've just was looking at her website today and the most recent birth stories is a positive COVID19 story. And it really, really worth a listen. So if you can find out over at
Australianbirthstories.com, on instragram @australianbirthstories. You can also find her postpartum package available on the website too, as she said, which collates all of Melbourne's most amazing practitioners and some advice in a series format. So a really beautiful online, easily consumable resource that she's collated there for you. So thanks so much for joining us. If you are enjoying what you're listening to, a please, shout us out with the hashtag #mamamatters. If there's anything in particular that you'd like us to cover or a person of interest that you'd like us to interview, we are so, so interested in having your voice heard. So please send us a or contact me via my website, which is lennyroseactive.com.au and @lennyroseactive on instagram
And we'll be chatting again soon. Have a great day ladies, bye.
[00:17:24] This episode is brought to you by Lenny Rose Active. Australian owned and three times mum and physiotherapist designed lux active and technical wear for the pregnancy to motherhood journey.