Saturday, 31 March 2012

Unique birth

normal birth, active birth, natural birth, assisted birth, 
water birth, home birth, birth centre birth, vaginal birth, 
c-section birth, quick birth, birth plan out the window birth, 
surprise birth, monitored birth, stirrups birth, hypno birth...

Birth comes in all shapes and sizes as do mothers, fathers and babies.

Be kind to yourself and prepare to deal with your birth, not a prescriptive birth, and revel in the fact that absolutely no-one else in the world will ever experience exactly your birth again. 

How many truly unique experiences are left these days?

A new life!

Today I witnessed something I have never seen before and it was wonderful. We were out walking our two dogs along a country lane when we noticed in the sheep field a ewe rolling on her side. At first I thought she might have just been having a scratch but it soon became very clear that she was in fact giving birth!

Unfortunately she had chosen a spot right by the lane and so as we appeared with our hounds it was enough for her to get up and jog across the field, surprisingly sprightly for one with a hoof sticking out of her birth canal...

We moved on as fast as possible and once we'd reached the end of the field she was back on her side working away.  On our return 30 minutes later, there was a beautiful new lamb being given a very good clean and trying it's best not to collapse every time it staggered to its feet.

Gorgeous. Spring really is here people!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Power vs Pain part 2

At the heart of giving birth with confidence is a simple fact:

Women are designed by nature to give birth to babies vaginally.

This simple fact has become overshadowed by the modern world's preoccupation with medical knowledge. Don't get me wrong, countless women and babies have survived childbirth because of modern medicine and we would not want to go back to much more dangerous days.

But it is also the case that the more you treat a birth like a medical event, the more likely you are to require medical intervention. And once you start intervening, the woman has less control over the situation, less confidence in her own abilities, less detailed understanding of what is happening, and further interventions become more likely.

If you believe that birth is a natural event that your body is specifically designed to do, you give yourself a great advantage from the outset. If you add to that an understanding of the process of labour, of the changes your body will go through and the purpose of those changes, then you have the building blocks for a labour that you can approach and experience not as a trial to be feared, but as a positive and empowering episode in the journey to meet your baby.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Power vs Pain

If you were asked which you would choose, a powerful experience or a painful experience, what would your answer be?

Most people would choose a powerful experience.

Why is it then that the majority of women find themselves approaching labour and birth as a painful experience and not a powerful one?

There is undeniably pain involved in birthing babies but the manageability of that pain can be greatly improved by a positive mental attitude. Preparing for the specific pains of labour (not the same as pain from disease or injury) should be a journey that every pregnant woman takes, and yet so often, preparation goes only as far as what medication is available.

Over the next few weeks I shall take a look at what pain in labour is really about, why it frightens women so much and what we can do to put ourselves in a stronger position and turn a potential negative into a big positive.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Visualisation - part one

The Happy Place is brilliant for keeping you calm and relaxed during stressful times but if you need to achieve something specific, something that is difficult or painful, then you need a different kind of visualisation.

If you need to achieve something physical then it helps to imagine a scenario that links closely in with your aim. Here is an example:

Two years ago I had to have intensive physiotherapy to treat a frozen shoulder. I couldn't get my arm even to shoulder height and it turned out that my shoulder blade was completely cramped up and immovable. The main treatment involved the physiotherapist pulling my arm out to the side with his whole weight as I lay on a bench. He asked me to relax so he could pull the arm out as much as possible.

To help relax the right part of my body, I imagined my shoulder joint as a metal coiled spring, completely rigid and unmoving. As the physio pulled, I gradually made the metal spring turn to hard rubber, and then softer springy rubber that started to uncoil and lengthen. It was all very slow and fluid in my mind and I concentrated on seeing the coil and noticing the detail of the material changing and the physical properties of the material. These matched what I needed my arm to do. The results were excellent.

Next time I'll look at the pros and cons to visualisations commonly recommended for use during birth.




Monday, 19 March 2012

Those magic moments

My nine month old son is generally a good sleeper but has phases of taking..how shall I put it?...quite a while to go to sleep. With enough patience he will eventually stop motoring round the cot burbling to himself and take more milk to fall asleep but some nights, like tonight, the motoring goes on a bit too long. Quite frankly, at that point I am in danger of either falling asleep myself - thereby relinquishing my only amount of me and husband time completely - or getting moody because I want my glass of wine.

Tonight, however, was one of those times with children when you hold your breath, think did that really just happen shortly followed by  will that ever happen again  and the crossing off all fingers and toes to try and make sure it does happen again.

Tonight as the motoring round the cot phase started to stretch a tad too much, I pulled a blanket over me (the baby's bed is next to ours), announced I was going to sleep, said 'night night' and began to gently snore while keeping one eye ever so slightly open for baby monitoring.

He rubbed his ear, then his eye. He sat still. Then he laid down next to me, bum in the air. He spent four or five minutes shuffling himself through various positions (all involving bum in air, it's a favourite) before his breathing slowed and he fell asleep.

More amazingly, he has been asleep ever since. Needless to say, we shall see what we shall see tomorrow. But it was a lovely moment to see him contentedly putting himself to sleep.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

On this day of Mothers

Last night a friend disclaimed to me that Mothering Sunday was merely a fabrication of the marketing industry, a ploy to get us to spend our pennies on pointless fluff. I should not expect a card, or any special treatment, heaven forbid a day off.

Well, I won't get a day off and don't particularly want one just because it's Mothering Sunday. And having missed my husband's first Father's Day last year (mitigating circumstances I can claim were that I'd only given birth six days before and hadn't quite managed to leave the house yet to buy a card...) I wasn't expecting much in the way of razzmatazz.

I was, then, delighted to find my baby crawling across the bed to me first thing this morning clasping a homemade card in his damp little fist. It was all that was needed to put a big smile on my face throughout the day.  No flowers, no chocolates, no need.

I thought again about what my friend had said (albeit from the far side of several post rugby match celebration pints) and decided  that he was wrong in two ways. Mothering Sunday (as opposed to Mother's Day) does have a much longer history than the 20th century obsession with celebration cards and is probably rooted in the seventeenth century when workers and apprentices were given a day off to see their mothers. For many this would have been a rare and therefore much valued day.

But the other reason is that why not have a day celebrating motherhood? It doesn't have to be all expensive gifts and duty lunches. In fact far better to ditch the mass produced tat and just show some genuine appreciation of the woman who brought you into this world. We don't need much, just a little scribbled card and a big goofy smile will probably do just fine.

Perversely, of course, I have a big dislike of Valentine's Day and all that it stands for...

Saturday, 17 March 2012

What is your happy place?

Mine is the beach at Aberdyfi, on the west coast of Wales. If I close my eyes I can see the endless golden sand, the sun glittering on the tops of the waves, smell the seaweed and hear the excited barking of our two dogs as Kev throws balls and they all bounce around in the surf together.

I have taken a hundred photos of beach walks I can use as reference: Kev with his trousers rolled up to his knees tiptoeing through the freezing winter sea to retrieve (yet again) the collie’s floating toy that he has lost track of; the spaniel with his ball buried in the stinkiest clump of seaweed he could find; me wrapped up in fourteen layers and doing an excellent womble impression. Happy days.

I go to my happy place when I am under stress. Sitting in the dentists chair will send me to the beach every single time. Internal examinations get me counting grains of sand or straining to spot dolphins in the waves. My happy place featured extensively in my birth preparations last year, even if the speed of the birth itself left me with little need for such enjoyable distraction.

it is simply one of the most effective tools I have learnt for coping with stressful moments. The best happy places are ones you know best, because you can’t then get caught out halfway through a trip thinking ‘now was the polished granite fountain by the rose bed last time, or was it next to the golden Buddha?’. You can just sink into the place in as much detail as you need to take your mind off whatever is troubling you. Using all five senses will also serve you well. It would be very hard indeed to worry about where the midwfie is sticking her hand when you are trying to decide whether or not the cupcake in front of you has the teensiest whiff of cardamom in amongst its choccolatey loveliness.



So where is your happy place?

Welcome to Ramshackle Mama!

Ramshackle Mama is a blog about finding contentment amidst the chaos of everyday life, and throwing in a bit of laughter and fun along the way.


My name is Abby McTomney and I live in rural mid-Wales with my husband Kev and baby son Felix. Together we run a village pub.


If you were hoping for cupcake recipes, then I make no apology for the fact that I'm more of a consumer than a baker. I do, however, have a very nice line in dog tales.


This blog will be a place to go for practical tips and inspirational stories on how to calm down and enjoy life more, especially as parents, and for letting off steam and laughing about how close to the chaos we all really are!