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Belly mapping helps you understand the position of your baby so you can build awareness and confidence for a happy healthy birth.  The Esali Birth Belly Mapping guide will take you step by step through this simple process, beginning around 20-24 weeks and continued through to birth.  Learn your baby's position so you can help cater your daily routine to your body and your baby's needs.

Belly Mapping Guide Includes:

  • How to Belly Map
  • Benefits of Belly Mapping
  • Understanding the Position of Your Baby
  • Visual reference for matching your belly map with baby's position

For more information on how to use the belly mapping information, download the free Perinatal Pocket Guide.

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I'm sure you heard of one or all of these if you've made it to this page:

  • Belly Mapping
  • Pelvic Alignment
  • Optimal Fetal Positioning
  • Back Labor
  • Prodromal Labor
  • Posterior
  • Long Labor

I'm sure you're probably asking one of these questions:

  • What is belly mapping?
  • How to belly map?
  • How to flip a breech?
  • How to VBAC?
  • How to get baby in a good position?
  • How to avoid back labor?
  • How to avoid a long labor?
  • and so on and so forth...

Become a FREE member at EsaliBirth.com and get a FREE BELLY MAPPING GUIDE

Pelvic Alignment & Fetal Position

The position of your body, you guessed it, creates the position of baby's body.  From fetal development to their ability to move through your pelvis and soft tissue, alignment matters.

  • Move in a variety of [aligned] positions throughout the day
  • Go to a physical therapist who is restorative exercise savvy, or otherwise doesn't tout kegels as the only way of get ready for birth.
  • Get aligned - not just by a chiropractor, but all the soft tissue as well
  • Learn aligned body movements
  • Get abdominal massages regularly to loosen up the tissue and encourage baby to be in an optimal position

Stomach Sleeping and Pelvic Health

If you're a stomach sleeper, chances are your pelvic is out of whack.  Actually, if you're a side sleeper, this is likely the case as well, especially if you favor one side or the other.

  • Stomach sleeping rocks the top of the pelvis forward making it more likely for baby to be in a funky position and you to experience back pain
  • Stomach sleeping, because of the aforementioned issue, can contribute to pelvic floor health, and sneeze peeing
  • Sleeping on your back with a flat back position can also tilt your pelvis, so be sure you keep that curve in your spine and your ASIS aligned with your pubic bone (horizontal plane to your sleep surface, which shouldn't be overly squishy)
  • Don't use a pillow too much.  Not totally specific to pregnancy, but this raised position can contribute to back pain, future neck pain, headaches, and upper body health - which is connected to your mid and lower body health, e.g. the pelvis.  You may need to slowly wean yourself off a pillow (and try not to get this started in your kids, either)
  • Alternating positions throughout the night, and using body support pillows, can be helpful during pregnancy, especially if transitioning from a padded pillow and squishy sleep surface to a sleep environment that encourages your body to do most of the supporting.

Fetal Position & Comfortable Birth

Now that you see that your pelvic and body alignment contributes to fetal position, what's this mean for the birth?  Everything.  Your stress levels, your movement, your nutrition will all influence your body's ability to release, move, and let baby move through the pelvis and soft tissue.  Discomfort during birth is most often due to stress emotionally (increasing adrenaline and tension), and tension and misalignment of the pelvis and soft tissue.

  • Fetal position can influence baby's ability to move through the pelvis
  • Birth in a biologically supportive environment that allows a lot of patience and a lot of instincts and movement
  • Get aligned and physical therapy support
  • Learn how to belly map and determine baby's position
  • Use movements and techniques that support a good position in baby
  • If you sit, sit up on your sitz bones and move your legs in a variety of positions
  • Get out of the heels (evening the seemingly 'flat' ones)
  • Walk, aligned, a LOT - Strive for 3-5 miles daily on average
  • Belly dance, or just move your pelvis a lot
  • Vary your positions all throughout the day
  • Use straight leg stretching positions, don't overdo the bent legs
  • Stretch daily, hamstrings, back, pelvis...etc.
  • Do a side-lying release (both legs) at least once a day
  • Release tension and stress to allow your body to flex and be mobile

Fetal Position & Breastfeeding

Baby is growing inside of you, in whatever shape you're putting them in.  Ever used a cookie cutter to let a cucumber grow in?  It will take the shape - really neat heart-shaped cucumber slices!  Cute for cucumbers, not so much for postpartum comfort.

  • Funky fetal positions can mean difficult birth
  • Difficult birth can mean difficult breastfeeding and healing
  • Baby's muscles can get tight and not allow baby's head to turn and jaw to move as needed
  • Tight muscles can cause pain, problems sleeping, problems eating, colick...etc.
  • Tight muscles can mimic tongue tie
  • Funky breastfeeding positions and shallow latch can cause painful breastfeeding, cracked and bleeding nipples, and make moms want to stop breastfeeding
  • Osteopathic manipulation, cranio sacral therapy, and other body work methods postpartum REGULARLY can relieve tension and with adequate support, breastfeeding can become enjoyable and long term
  • Bodywork MUST continue even with a surgical tie release

How to do Belly Mapping

So, now that you know the importance of fetal position, how do you monitor baby's position daily to know if you need to work to keep baby in a good position or move baby into a better position?  After about 20 weeks, you can begin to palpate and feel baby through your belly.  This will be much easier as baby grows, but its good to get an idea of what you're looking for early on if possible.

Belly mapping allows you to know how baby is positioned, but also gets you intimate with your body and improves your ability to listen to your instincts.  While prenatal appointments can really help with this, the more confidence you have in your own abilities, the less you feel at the mercy of others and the more this improves your ability to make confident decisions during your birth.

  • Be in some place quiet
  • Pull up your shirt
  • Get a skin-safe marker or natural earth paints (or just a piece of paper with a belly drawn on it)
  • If you're using a piece of paper, hold the circle up to your belly, place a dot for a belly button, and note which side is the left side, and which side is the vaginal opening
  • Now, on your belly (or piece of paper) you can draw quadrants and segment your belly into four segments with a large plus sign.  This will show two quadrants above, and two quadrants below
  • Now, listen and palpate.
  • If you've recently had a prenatal, or own a fetoscope, you can easily determine where the heartbeat is most easily found.  Draw a "heart" wherever this is most easily found.
  • Feel through your uterus at the lumps.  Draw a circle for the largest hardest lump you feel on your belly (or on the same place on the piece of paper).  This is likely the head.
  • The next large lump, draw an "m", this is likely the bum.
  • A long hard place can be indicated with a long half circle line, indicating the back.
  • If you feel big kicks, write a "k" for the feet or knees.
  • If you feel tiny wiggles or tickles, write a "w" to indicate the hands.

Now, look at your map.  You may notice you feel a lot of kicks and wiggles in the front of your belly, and can't feel much of the other lumps.  Baby's back is likely aligned with your back.  Maybe they're sideways or they change every day or every moment.  Are you noticing this?  Great!  Now you can understand the position your baby is in, get a good idea of how they may be influencing your comfort levels, and determine if there are methods to improve comfort and position if needed.

The position we're looking for ideally is "LOA" - Left Occiput Anterior.  This means the baby's occiput (back of their head) is towards your left side, and a little anterior (towards your front).  Your belly map would look a little similar to the image below.  Anything different from this is a good indicator that some stretching, releasing, bodywork, walking, varied movement...etc., can be helpful.

 

Become a FREE member at EsaliBirth.com and get a FREE BELLY MAPPING GUIDE

What position is your baby in?  Need help determining?  Have questions where to go from here if your baby isn't in an LOA position?  Get in touch - some one on one doula mentoring can be really helpful in providing you with physical and emotional support for belly mapping and optimal fetal positioning.

 

Birth baggage, we all carry it even when we're planning a first birth.  We've seen a movie, read a book, heard someone's birth story.  We've listened to our mother or father tell our own birth stories.  Perhaps we even have suppressed memories from our birth that we don't even know we're remembering and reliving.

No matter where we've been, our baggage wasn't lost so let's start the unpacking process.

Birth Baggage Personalities

Your birth baggage probably has a personality.  Personality characteristics have been studied since ancient times - even before Hippocrates and our memories play into the personality characteristics that we show.  They can also help us to find a way of unpacking this baggage.

Dominance Birth Baggage

Do you feel like your birth memories are dominating your every choice?  Do they make you angry and frustrated?  Do you feel like, "If I make this ______ choice, this ______ experience will happen?  Do you feel as though your decisions are better than others?  Do you feel as though someone else's decisions are better than yours?

If this feels like some of your reactions, your birth baggage may be dominating your pregnancy rather than allowing you to enjoy this experience.  Maybe you've experienced birth trauma or someone close to you experienced birth trauma.  Maybe someone's story really hit hard because their situation was so similar to yours.  We must understand that birth is a journey.  We can make choices that support our health, but what we experience and choose is neither better nor worse than anyone else - only the experience we have and how we are influenced by that experience for our future.

Influence

Do you feel like you made choices that other people made in their birth, hoping for the same outcome?  Do you look at professional birth images and yearn for that experience the image seems to create in your mind?  Or, do you feel like others made your birth decisions for you?

We can often let others influence us into making decisions, especially in a culture where we doubt our own abilities to make health decisions.  We need to work towards building our confidence in our own abilities.

Steady

Are we passive on making new or different decisions for our birth?  Are we unwilling to change providers or birth locations even when we feel our current choices aren't supporting our birth philosophy?  Are we putting off making decisions?  Are we comfortable in certain birth choices just because they are the common routine in our modern culture?

The norm can feel easy at first.  Making decisions different than those around us can feel almost counter-intuitive at times so we must really look at the evidence and branch out to find multiple perspectives on the approach to health and maternity care.

Conscientious

Do you feel as though you must plan every aspect of your pregnancy and birth to avoid complications?  Do you assess all the details, all the studies, all the scientific tangible evidence?  Do you feel any deviation from your plan would be difficult to experience or a "failure" of birth?

We cannot control birth.  We can influence our experience, but there are no guarantees with birth.  In many ways, we have to come to peace with that uncertainty.

 

How to Unpack Your Birth Baggage

We may be able to determine our birth baggage personality, but the real task comes in unpacking.  Ever went on a trip, came home and just lived out of a suitcase for a few weeks never really decluttering our living space?  Next trip, do we do the same thing?  Do we pack less?  Do we deal with our baggage immediately to make the following weeks a little lighter so the transition to coming home is a little more feng shui? How do we learn from this?

Pack Less - Reduce the baggage you take into birth so you have less to deal with when you get there (and home).

This can be a literal translation into not over packing the labor bag - but we need to reduce the emotional baggage we take into the birth so we can enjoy the experience and focus on the labor and birth, and not losing some piece of ourselves in the process.

Accept that birth baggage exists.  In a culture where birth trauma is so prevalent, it might not only feel wrong to believe you've experienced trauma, but it may be hard to accept that positive birth experiences exist and are thriving.  It may also feel frustrating to have prepared well for a previous birth to have still experienced birth trauma... even from what may have felt like a positive birth experience.  Women are often told, "at least you have a healthy baby" with total disregard for the health, especially emotionally, of the mother.  Fathers, and all birth partners, absolutely experience birth trauma as well and it may be even more difficult to realize this trauma when so many of these negative experiences occur every day.  We must believe that birth should be a joyful experience and that we are meant to experience pregnancy, birth, postpartum and parenting in a positive, energetic, and joyful way.

Get birth counseling.  If you're feeling any of these emotions that don't allow you to simply enjoy your pregnancy and birth and feel confident about your experience - then there is some piece of emotional hindrance on your experience.  Find where those feelings are coming from and confront them, talk with a therapist, chat with your doula, take a perinatal education course, and join a birth group that allows you to work through your previous birth story.  Finding a community of like-minded people allow us to feel safe sharing our experiences.  Finding a community of positive birth supporters that believe in the biology of birth helps us to feel confident in our body's abilities to gestate, birth, and heal.

Learn about the birth industry.  Birth classes are so much more than breathing and comfort measures.  True, they may start out with the idea of learning tools to reduce discomfort, but a quality perinatal education series helps you to navigate the birth industry to confidently make informed decisions.  Research quality evidence-based information with a wide variety of perspectives.

Unpack Your Baggage Soon

The sooner you unpack your baggage, the more quickly things can get back to a new normal.  If we let the emotions sit, they sit and stew and tend to keep piling on as they get mixed with new emotions - like tired nights with a newborn or little help as our culture thrusts us back into home duties and work so quickly after birth.  If you feel uneasy or disappointed at all after a birth, talk to someone.

Write Your Birth Story.  Get it out, and quickly.  Get it out before you retell the birth story so many times that emotions twist the experience.  It is inevitable that the emotions surrounding us when we retell our birth story will continue to ingrain the memory's feelings for long term retrieval.  By writing, or recording, our birth story in some way soon after the birth - we keep our immediate memories whole.  We can then process our birth story as we continue to share, but keeping in mind that we must continue to find 2-3 positive aspects that we bring into our story no matter how the rest of the story makes us feel.  If we only focus on the negative, we will soon find ourselves unable to remember the positive.  Recording our birth story, even if we discard our recording, also allows us to move these memories to a more long-term space in our mind rather than constantly recalling the traumatic events (even the seemingly minuscule thoughts that are so fleeting).

Share Your Birth Story.  Find someone that understands birth trauma, and share your birth story.  Go back to that group you created prior to birth and share your story and allow yourself to heal - no matter what your birth looks like to anyone else.  All that matters is a healthy happy family - not just one member we get to bring home.  A mother must have a support team that understands her needs and is in an emotional place to provide her with the support she needs as well.

 

just breathe Reflection Journal Prompt - Week 3

Reflect: My previous birth experience (or someone else's) makes me feel ________. Reflect about how you can make decisions that can positively influence your birth.

#TheOxytocinMethod works because it address your life individually. It isn't a specific "birth method" that offers a cookie cutter approach to birth. It teaches you to build your confidence through self-exploration and life choices that support biology, and oxytocin - the hormone needed for spontaneous labor progression and a happy healthy birth.

 

So, come on in to Esali Birth... unpack your birth baggage and stay a while.

Birth Emotions Matter

There are so. many. reasons. why I am rarely ever impressed with a medical team – because they completely disregard one of the most important factors of the birth experience – the LONG LASTING emotional affects of birth. The emotional affects of the way a mother is treated on her milk supply, her postpartum experience, her parenting experience, and her empowerment.

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