Welcome to the final part of 'The birth alphabet' series! Today you can learn more about umbilical cords, vernix, water birth and pregnancy yoga. Did you know your baby might be covered in a creamy white substance when it's born? Do you know why it's good to wait to cut the cord? Are you aware of the benefits of practicing yoga in pregnancy and birthing in water?
During pregnancy, the foetus is attached to a placenta via an umbilical cord. This cord supplies oxygen, blood and nutrients to the baby from the placenta. The umbilical cord normally has 2 arteries and one vein.
At the time of birth, up to one third of the baby’s blood is still in the placenta so it’s important to delay clamping or cutting the umbilical cord until the baby has received all of his or her blood.
When the cord is cut, a stump is left at the navel. The stump will dry, shrivel up and fall off on its own in the first week after birth. This leaves the ‘belly button’, that we all have.
Newborn babies often have a white creamy substance covering their skin, called vernix. Babies born early or with a low birth weight tend to have more covering their bodies, but it does vary a lot.
Vernix, also nicknamed ’birthday frosting’ helps moisturise and protect the newborns skin. Make sure you rub it in rather than wash it off.
Vernix can help act as lubricant for the baby moving through the birth canal. It is insulating so can help the baby to maintain its body temperature after birth. It also has anti-bacterial properties and helps form a barrier against pathogens.
Using a warm bath or pool during labour can help you to feel more relaxed and allow you to have a more satisfying birth experience. Many women say that the water is very soothing and provides great pain relief.
Birth pools can help provide more privacy so that you can feel like you’re in your ‘own bubble’. Labour is usually shorter and flows more smoothly when women feel safe and undisturbed.
The water helps support you so you can move more easily into different positions which can help your baby to navigate your pelvis easier. It can also help soften the perineum and may reduce the risk of severe tearing.
It is also a gentle transition for the baby. They are in a warm watery environment when in the womb. The transition from womb to water to air is so gentle that some babies don’t even cry.
During a pregnancy yoga class you may practice stretches, different postures and focussed breathing. This can be extremely beneficial for your mind and body.
Prenatal yoga can help you strengthen your muscles, increase flexibility, improve fitness and learn to use your breath to quieten your mind (which is great practice for labour!). It helps you to connect more with your baby and have some precious ‘me time’.
It can even alleviate certain pregnancy complaints like; sciatica, low back pain and hip discomfort. It may even reduce the symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression and help you sleep better at night.
Try to find a prenatal yoga class (online or in-person) that ideally offers physical yoga practice as well as mindfulness techniques such as guided breathing. Make sure you are well guided and know the poses to avoid and most importantly, listen to your body.
A group prenatal yoga class can be great for helping you connect with other like-minded women during your pregnancy. This is perfect for extra support and you may even find that you develop friendships that last into the early years of motherhood.
Download this free natural birth checklist that covers practical tips and natural suggestions for the three stages of labor. Start feeling more confident about your birth plan.