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The birth alphabet Q-R-S-T: Questions, Rainbow Baby, Swaddling and TENS machine

Sep 11, 2019

This week we continue with the birth alphabet (Q-R-S-T) to help you feel more knowledgeable about what questions to ask during birth, why rainbow babies are so special, how swaddling can soothe your baby and why the TENS machine is a great option for pain relief.

Q is for Question Asking

There are a lot of decisions to make during pregnancy, birth and into postpartum. Knowing what your options are can help you make the choices that feel best for you. Sometimes a decision needs to be made and you may not have all the information yet. This is where having a framework can help you know WHAT to ask so you can feel well informed.

If you need to make a decision about your care… using the acronym BRAIN can really help you to extract the key information to help you decide what is best.

B- (Benefits)... What are the benefits? How is this helpful?

R- (Risks)... What are the risks? Are there any side effects to choosing this option?

A- (Alternatives)... Are there any alternatives? Can I try something else?

I- (Intuition)... What is my intuition telling me?

N- (Nothing)... What if I wait a bit longer to decide or do nothing?


R is for Rainbow Baby

Unfortunately, not all pregnancies end in the birth of a healthy baby. There can be a lot of sadness and heaviness talking about miscarriage, stillbirth and the loss of an infant. Many people tend to shy away from sharing sad or trying times. As a whole, we are not well versed in death and most people don’t know what to say to someone that has experienced loss.

It is possible to have grief and joy co-exist. Many people go on to experience the birth of a healthy baby. The joy of finding out that a person is pregnant again after loss can feel overwhelming.

There is a beautiful term ‘rainbow baby’ that is given to babies born after previous losses. These new lives represent the beautiful rainbow after a dark storm. It can feel truly miraculous to bring a baby into the world after experiencing loss.

Find more support at


S is for Swaddling

Many babies sleep better if they are wrapped or ‘swaddled’. Swaddling your baby can help them to feel cozy and secure, like they were in the womb. It helps prevent the baby waking themselves up from the ‘startle reflex’ where they may flail their arms suddenly. Swaddling can feel very soothing and may help them feel calmer and cry less.

You can use a light-weight cotton or muslin wrap to swaddle your newborn. Make sure it is firm but not too tight. Your baby should be able to breathe normally and the swaddle needs to allow their chest to be able to rise and fall easily. It’s also best to allow your baby’s legs room to move so they can bend up and out and allow normal development of the hips.

Always put your baby to sleep on their back to help reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

It’s best to stop swaddling when your baby starts rolling over on their own.


T is for TENS machine

A TENS machine is a great drug-free option to provide pain relief during labour. It stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. It is a small, portable machine that is easy to use.

It works by sending pulses of electric current to the surface of the skin (usually on the lower back). These pulses are safe and feel like a buzzing or tingling sensation. They help stimulate endorphins, your own natural pain-relief.

They also help block other pain signals so they can reduce the painful sensations of labour. They won’t work for everybody but many people find the TENS machine to be super helpful for managing the sensations of labour.

Some of the benefits are:

  • You can use it whenever you like, including at home.
  • It is portable so you can stay active during labour.
  • It has no risks or side-effects to you or your baby.
  • It can be used in conjunction with other pain relief methods
  • It can be a very effective form of pain relief.

You can hire or buy your own TENS machine to use during labour. It’s best used early in labour to help build your own endorphins.

If you are planning on using a shower or bath, you’ll need to remove the TENS unit first.

Do you want to feel more confident about birth?

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.


Learn the 3 keys to LOVING your birth and beyond. You can implement them today!