Becoming a parent is a surreal and magical time. While this new addition to your family is wonderful, it’s natural to feel nervous, anxious and stressed. Luckily, we have some handy advice from 2 trained midwives that will help you navigate the early postnatal period.
This month we partnered with two London-based midwives, Anne and Madou who set up Midwife on Tap to provide parents and carers with bespoke, one-to-one postnatal care virtually and at home. As part of our collaboration, Anne and Madou have created 20 exclusive tips focused on a variety of newborn parenting topics.
‘With the help of EasyPeasy we can share our expertise and knowledge on all things baby. our tips have been designed from frequently asked questions, including guides on newborn bathing, breastfeeding positions, umbilical cord care, temperature control plus many more fascinating tips that help with your newborn!’, says Anne.
We recently sat down with Midwife On Tap to host our first Instagram LIVE Q&A. During our chat, Anne and Madou de-bunk labor and birthing myths, share more about their journey to setting up Midwife On Tap, discuss the tips they’ve created for the app, and they answer a whole host of newborn parenting questions.
Q: Tell us more about the role of a midwife
Madou: ‘Our role is to very much support women and their families to navigate the pregnancy journey, and provide really great, quality care throughout their pregnancy. A big part of our role relates to health and emotion - so keeping yourself well. We also get to be there during the birth, which is an amazing privilege in it’s own right. Another part of the role, is that we get to help families with looking after their newborn baby and caring for their baby. This spans the 9-10months while having the baby.’
Q: Tell us more about why you set-up Midwife On Tap?
Madou: ‘It’s been a labor of love! Both myself and Anne have had the pleasure of working together as midwives, and we’ve really got to grips with what’s important about postnatal care. This is often referred to as ‘the Cinderella’ of pregnancy. We find that mother’s get lots of attention during the pregnancy, during labor and the birth, but actually a lot of women feel that they have their babies, and then they are on their own. There is so much out there in terms of pregnancy, and labor, but not so much for after - but this is actually the most important bit.
The postnatal period is where you really want someone to be holding your hand, guiding you through and helping to manage all the anxieties and worries of being a new parent. Our vision and mission at Midwife On Tap, is all about empowering new parents through education, but also through support and care that’s really personalised.’
Q: You’ve both been working throughout the lockdowns, how have you managed?
Anne: ‘We just feel very lucky that we get to go out everyday, and be with these women. We’ve enjoyed the fact that we can leave our home and be able to keep day-to-day normality. Women are having babies and that hasn’t stopped during the lockdown!’.
Q: What have you noticed about parent and carer needs during the pandemic?
Anne: ‘We’ve noticed that a lot of the care has been cut back, in all areas of midwifery, but more so in the postnatal period, where a lot of support has gone to telephone calls, or video calls. This is all wonderful, but it doesn’t give you that face-to-face quality time that women need. This is something that we’ve seen when we’ve gone out to visit women, and they had a missed a visit because they haven’t been able to have a face-to-face meeting. This was another driving force behind starting Midwife On Tap - the idea was there, but we saw the need much more when lockdown began.
We want to make sure that women have the opportunities to reach out to midwives and be able to ask for additional support where they could. As Madou mentioned, the postnatal period can be the forgotten period, as everything is really focused on pregnancy and getting to the birth. Once their little bundle is in their arms, and they’re sent home, it’s like - what do we do next? Just knowing that there is a professional on hand that they can contact.'
Q: Tell us more about the tips you’ve created on the EasyPeasy app?
Madou: 'We’ve created 20 tips for the app, and they're very much for the newborn phase (so really the 0-6month phase). When we were coming up with the tips, myself and Anne came together to think about the most common questions that tend to pop up in our consultations with new parents.
The tips cover things like; bathing - how do I bathe my newborn baby. Temperature control - how do I know if I’m putting on too many clothes, or not enough layers? We’ve done a lot around feeding, which can be a real minefield. How do I know if my baby is getting enough food? Tips on sterilising bottles, how to make up feeds and dealing with engorged breasts when you’re breastfeeding. We also cover the emotional side of things, which is something that we’re all aware of, and it’s being discussed more and more, but it isn’t something that we always feel comfortable talking about. How do you deal with tricky emotions as a new parent, particularly when you are sleep deprived, or feeling anxious about how you’re doing as a new parent.
The tips have been created based on the things we hear and see everyday. You find as a midwife that there tends to be a trend. If you’ve gone to several different houses to meet mums that are all within the same region, they will all be asking you the same questions. This is where you wish you could get them all together, and remind these mums that they aren’t alone, and other mums are feeling exactly the same way as you are.
It’s great for parents to have a resource like EasyPeasy to come to for tips, then parents can feel confident about our advice and know that it’s normal.’
Anne and Madou de-bunk common labor and birthing myths
Anne: If you’re induced, you will go into labor immediately? True or false?
'False - it’s very unlikely that you would immediately go into active labor. That just doesn’t happen. It can take anywhere between 24-48hrs from when induction starts to get to the active birth stage.'
Madou: Once baby has arrived - hurray, birth is over?
'False - it’s not the end of the process! Once you’ve delivered your baby, your body releases a huge amount of oxytocin, and you start to have really strong uterine contractions and this helps to birth your placenta. This can be done naturally, by allowing hormones to do their work, or as professionals we can step in and give you a small injection of synthetic oxytocin and we help to deliver the placenta that way.'
Anne: More Babies Are Born During A Full Moon?
'Technically this is false! Midwives do love a good old wives tale though! What we do see - and there is very little evidence (not enough for you to use) that there is a connection between a woman's waters breaking and the moon. This relates to the tidal waves and water pressure. Whether this is true or not, we don’t know. Often though, if there has been a full moon, midwives will say that more parents came in with waters broken than normal.'
Madou: Can some foods help to bring on labor?
'Technically False! This is another weird and wonderful old wives tale. What you will often hear is that spicy foods, like curries can help to encourage labor. While it won’t get you into labor, it will help to make your bowels more active, and because your bowels are touching your uterus you might find that you get some cramps or niggles. If your body is ready to go into labor, then this might give it the nudge it needs.'
Q: What items would you recommend parents purchase before the baby arrives?
Anne: 'The most important things to purchase are items for your baby to sleep in. Yes, it’s okay to borrow second hand cots, but you must always have a brand new mattress, and it must be:
Thinking about the place you want your baby to sleep is really important, as well as what you want your baby to be carried in. Whether this is a pram - again you want a brand new mattress for the pram (firm, flat, waterproof) and if you have a car, you want to make sure that you have a car seat that’s compatible. It’s also really important that you understand how to safely put your baby in the car seat. These are the main items to think about ahead of the baby arriving.
You will also want to think about what you will pack in your hospital bag -so, the essentials for Mum and essentials for the baby. For more information on what to pack in your bag, check out this specific tip on the app.'
Q: What can parents expect from baby classes if they choose to attend?
Madou: 'The vast majority of the classes that you might come across, whether they’re NHS based, or private, will be relatively similar. You tend to have 3-4 classes and they roughly last around 2hrs per session.'
1st session - this will generally focus on the physiology of labor and birth, signs of labor, what contractions might feel like, and details on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd stage of labor. It will also cover what happens after you’ve had the baby.
2nd session - this tends to cover what your pain relief options are. This will cover everything from non-medical relief, such as TENS machines, hot water bottles, warm baths, warm showers, aromatherapy and massage oils. Then they will move onto the medical relief options - gas and air, epidurals and pethidine injections. This session will also cover what to consider if your birthing plan doesn’t quite happen the way you expect it to. Discussing things like inductions, what happens if you need a forceps delivery, as well as what happens if you need an emergency C-section delivery.
3rd session - this tends to cover the topic of feeding. Breastfeeding, bottle feeding and how often your baby will want to feed. You will also learn about the signs your baby will give you to indicate if they’re getting enough, or not.
4th class - this is focused on what to consider once you’ve had the baby. Discussing nappy changes, caring for a newborn, and also what your postnatal recovery might look like as a woman. For example, what’s going to happen to your breasts, your postnatal tummy, bleeding, bowels, legs and things like exercise and diet.
Q: Where can parents go for trusted, quality advice?
Madou: 'My biggest recommendation would be to go onto the NHS website, this has a wealth of information that’s really easy to understand and it’s clearly broken down. The other sites that are really good, include the Lullaby Trust, which has lots of guidance on safe sleeping, whether you have your baby in a cot, moses basket, or co-sleeping.'
Q: How do you prepare to be a birthing partner?
Anne: 'Being a birthing partner is such an important role, never underestimate your position as a birthing partner. A Lot of birthing partners can feel that they’re just in the background, but this person does so much just by being present. The woman has picked you and trusts you to support her. If you can attend any of the antenatal classes with the woman, then I would recommend this as it’s a great chance to learn more about the process. You can also do lots of practical things, especially in the early labor stage when you’re at home, for example':
- Making sure that mum is hydrated
- Eating little and often
- Reminding her to go to the loo regularly - important because your bladder sits in front of your uterus, so you want to keep making sure that it’s empty
- Running a bath
- Massaging mum’s back, or sometimes they can feel pain in their legs, so rubbing her legs
- Taking her for a walk
- And, generally just being positive and reminding them how amazing they are
- You can also be the one monitoring the contractions - this helps to allow the woman to focus on her body, rather than worrying about the time between contractions
Q: What advice would you give to someone who is becoming a new parent in lockdown?
Madou: 'My biggest piece of advice is that it’s totally okay to feel overwhelmed and a little bit unsure of what you’re doing. I say this to a lot of my new parents - if you get to the end of the day and everyone has had something to eat, then you’re doing a good job!’. The other advice I would give is, don’t be afraid to ask for help. This is particularly helpful now with all the anxiety around Covid, and not being able to see family and friends. Use your midwives, get in contact with health visitors as there is so much they can do to support you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to family and friends for a phone call, even if it’s just to get a bit of reassurance.
You can access Midwife On Tap tips over on the EasyPeasy parenting app. If you would like to learn more about the services that Anne and Madou offer, please check out their website for more details. https://www.midwifeontap.co.uk
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