One Born Every Minute – aka A Dad’s Role in HypnoBirthing

I usually advise couples that I work with to not watch Channel 4’s One Born Every Minute (“OBEM”). It’s often fear that prevents a woman’s body from getting on with the job of easily birthing a baby and I reckon that OBEM with its dramatic births probably adds to that fear.

HypnoBirthing Croydon

So, there I am last night, on my way home from a HypnoBirthing class, and my phone is pinging away. It seems that various people want me to know that HypnoBirthing is on OBEM. My husband is very surprised that the first thing I do when I get home is click on C4+1 to watch last night’s programme.

It was obvious from the very first scene featuring Kate & Ollie that they were HypnoBirthing. As they approached the labour ward reception, it was Ollie who spoke to the receptionist, it was Ollie arranging the environment and it was Ollie who was managing the situation to meet his wife’s needs. This was, perhaps unfairly, contrasted with the situation next door where the birthing mother was having to take care of her partner who didn’t seem to know what to do with himself.

Croydon HypnoBirthing

I love how Kate and Ollie made the room their’s. They moved the furniture around and laid mats on the floor so that they could settle down together. Ollie helped to guide Kate through her breathing and tended to her needs. As she calmly went through the first stage of labour, her midwife spent much of her time in the staff room. Kate then became away that the baby’s head was reached the perineum and was ready to be born. Kate chose to be on all fours and the baby was born easily. Kate had lots of skin-to-skin time with Baby India who was then passed to Ollie for more skin-to-skin time whilst Kate birthed the placenta.

HypnoBirthng Croydon

I am so pleased that OBEM chose to show a good birth – a birth where mum was calm, dad had a role that he relished, the baby arrived gently to skin-to-skin time with mummy and daddy whilst the midwife had little to do.  I’m not sure that you can ask for more than that. Thank you OBEM for showing this birth and thank you to Kate and Ollie for letting so many expectant mums see the birth. I hope that this will be the start of showing births that help expectant mums to look forward to a calmer easier birth.

What’s the APGAR Score?

During HypnoBirthing Sessions we discuss what happens once your baby is born. One of the first things that happens is that your midwife will give your baby an APGAR score.

The APGAR Test was designed by Virginia Apgar, an American anaesthesiologist, to quickly evaluate a newborn’s physical condition and to determine whether any extra medical help is required.  Conveniently for midwifery students, the word Apgar makes a handy mnemonic detailing the signs to be assessed: Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, and Respiration.

The Apgar Score is usually assessed twice: once at 1 minute after birth, and again at 5 minutes after birth. Sometimes, if there are concerns about the baby’s condition or the score at 5 minutes is low, the test may be scored for a third time at 10 minutes after birth.

Five factors are used to evaluate the baby’s condition and each factor is scored on a scale of 0 to 2, with 2 being the best score:

  1. appearance (skin coloration)
  2. pulse (heart rate)
  3. grimace response (medically known as “reflex irritability”)
  4. activity and muscle tone
  5. respiration (breathing rate and effort)

You midwife will give each of these signs a score from 0 to 2 and total them up to give your baby a score out of 10, with 10 being the best score.

HypnoBirthing Croydon Surrey London

Most mums who have had an easy calm birth and who have a clearly healthy newborn baby will want to have immediate skin to skin contact; it can be a good idea to mention on your birth preferences that you would like the APGAR score to be assessed whilst your baby remains on your chest, rather than being whisked away to a table that you can’t necessarily see. Of course instinctively, everyone is assessing whether your baby is a ‘clearly healthy newborn baby’ by looking at the signs that make up the APGAR score.

Here’s hoping your baby gets a high score in the first test of their lives!

 

 

 

One Born Every Minute

OneBornEveryMinute

Last week, one of my HypnoBirthing mums said that she had watched One Born Every Minute and had some questions about it so I felt I should watch the episode too, having managed to miss almost 2 series of it1. It proved to be quite an eye opener! I noticed that the programme is now filmed from Southmead Hospital in Bristol and a quick look at the combined 2012/13 statistics from Birth Choice for the Central Delivery Suite and the Birth Suite show that that 16.5% of mums have a caesarean, 14.4% have a ventouse or forceps delivery whilst 69.2% have ‘no help’2. So, given that this programme features 3 births, one would expect 2 of the 3 featured births to be with ‘no help’ and 1 to have some intervention. This is what we were shown:

Firstly, I want to comment on the positive language that was used through the programme. We saw one mum, Zoe, being examined and she was 1cm dilated. The midwife said, “About 1cm dilated, so not too bad”. Zoe smiled and said, “1 cm dilated, get in there!” I later jotted down comments such as, “You’re doing brilliantly” and “You’re breathing through them so beautifully”. This is just what a mum wants to hear and I was so pleased to hear the mums being supported in this way.

Secondly, we saw the relationship between patient and anaesthetist. Patients can fixate on the surgeon, the midwife, generally the person conducting the operation. For most procedures, it is the anaesthetist that the patients can see and talk to. I recommend to all of my clients who will have an anaesthetist involved to make friends with that person and we saw in #OBEM that this anaesthetist was friendly and on the mum’s side. I’m pretty sure that one of the criteria for being an anaesthetist must be to have a friendly disposition.

The first mum, Cheryl, who was with her husband Rob, and was having an elective C-Section. Cheryl’s story and strength was inspiring but I fear for anyone watching this that has an elective C-Section booked. One fear that mums have is that the spinal block /epidural won’t work. There are some stories to be found on the internet that will tell you that they don’t always work and this happened to a friend of mine, but this is incredibly rare. On the #OBEM website there is a link explaining how epidural’s work and it says, ‘if you are having a Caesarean section and have had an epidural, CSE or spinal block, you will be checked extensively by the anaesthetist before the operation takes place to ensure you are fully anaesthetised. Often, they will ‘pinch’ the skin over your abdomen to reassure you that, even though you feel some pressure, you will not sense pain.’

So, what was Cheryl’sOne Born Every Minute experience? The spinal block did not fully work, which they knew before the procedure started but Cheryl wanted to go ahead in order to avoid a general anaesthetic which would mean that her husband would be unable to remain in theatre and see his son being born. It made for uncomfortable viewing. Cheryl was clearly in a lot of pain and looked like she was going to pass out. The anaesthetist was clearly concerned. Can you imagine watching that as a pregnant mum? The baby was born, cord cut immediately, taken to the side table cleaned up, packaged up in a blanket, and handed to dad. I felt so sad for mum and baby who could have had skin to skin and that fabulous oxytocin rush.

zoeanthonydanaOur second mum was Zoe who had had a long fertility journey before reaching the delivery suite. I enjoyed this birth mostly because of husband Anthony’s response to the birth. Zoe’s baby’s heart-rate went down and a forceps delivery was recommended. The doctor crouched down at Zoe’s height and explained it to her. I felt this was well done. The birth itself appeared to be relatively easy and it was joy to be part of their joy at meeting their long-awaited daughter, Dana.

Our third mum was Sarah who was with her husband Mark and her own mum. The birth seemed to be going well until the midwife said that the baby was unexpectedly breech. Suddenly the room was full because a breech birth is considered an emergency. Mums who have a breech diagnosed in advance will be steered towards an elective C-section which means that the average midwife and obstetrician hasn’t experienced that many breech births – which is why 6 members of staff were considered necessary for a vaginal breech birth. It was then confirmed that the baby (who has been called naughty for being breech) was in One Born Every Minutefact in the correct position and a normal birth could take place. However, poor Sarah still had 8 people packed tightly around her, most of them staring at her vulva. I can’t think of many things more likely to make my nether-regions clamp shut than having all those heads staring at me! Little Chloe was a very healthy sized baby, still covered in a thick layer of vernix which was allowed to stay on which was great to see.

So, we had seen 1 C-Section, 1 Ventouse and 1 ‘no help’ with quite an audience.

Exhausting stuff and I have to admit I shed a tear and felt inspired by those amazing mums and dads. I also had a very interesting HypnoBirthing class where we went through some of the events from this episode. We obviously see a heavily edited version of events in that programme and I expect my clients to leave with the skills and strategies to be able to direct their own birth and know what questions to ask so that they can avoid some of the pit-falls we viewed in that episode. Ultimately though we saw 3 healthy women have 3 healthy babies and that is what we ultimately want.

Congratulations to those mums and good luck to all those having their baby soon. x

1 I don’t recommend that the people coming to my class watch One Born Every Minute as it shows birth to be disproportionately traumatic. This will not help a mum to know that her body is perfectly designed to birth a baby.

2Figures do not add up to 100 due to rounding.

Great Birth Quotes

I’m in the process of updating my testimonials page at the moment. I received a great 5 page birth story from one of ‘my dads’ yesterday and had to share this quote with you:

“The midwife held the mirror under her and giggled.

‘He…she’s…still in the bag, but there’s a little hole in it so there’s a tiny tuft of hair sticking out.’

I had a glance. ‘It looks like he’s having highlights done.’ I reported back.”

Perfect Mum? Don’t look at me!

In the various courses I provide, we talk a lot about parenting and I always hope that I never come across as thinking I am a perfect mum. Firstly, this is because I don’t actually strive to be perfect (in BabyCalm courses especially we talk about Winnicott’s concept of the ‘Good-Enough’ mother rather than attempting to be perfect), and secondly, if you could see how I parent, any pretence of perfection would be pretty quickly shattered.

BabyCalm Croydon Good Enough Perfect Mother

Yesterday was definitely an imperfect day; tantrums were had, tears were shed – and that was just me! We went en famille to a supermarket in search of gloves for F and T. For various reasons, the search for good waterproof gloves has rivalled that of the Holy Grail in our house. High street shops generally don’t seem to stock gloves for school age children and online retailers have sent us the wrong size on multiple occasions. This shop had a very poor choice i.e. none suitable for T at all. Chuck into the mix the fact that, inexplicably, F just can’t get her hand into any pair of gloves, whatever the size and I am afraid I might have lost my temper.

Ultimately we did get over it but I went to bed feeling a failure. In fact I had a little cry to myself and was reminded of a similar ‘failure’ when F was much younger. There is no mum on this Earth who is perfect. I understand the desire to strive to be perfect but the reality is that we all make mistakes. It would be fair to say I make parenting mistakes every day but I am happy that I am ‘Good-Enough’. My children see that I am human, that I make mistakes and that I also try to put things right, however bungling my efforts may seem at times.

Oh, and I ordered waterproof mittens (not gloves) on the internet last night…

To learn how to be a Good Enough Mum, take a look HERE at the BabyCalm Courses that I provide.

Why I’m not pro-natural birth…

I’m a HypnoBirthing Practitioner so it’s obvious that I am pro-natural birth, right?

Well actually, wrong!

Croydon Hypnobirthing birth pregnancy

If I’m pro-natural birth, I’m by default saying that those parents that do not have a natural birth must be less in some way… and that is just not the case.

If I’m pro-natural birth, I’m effectively saying that parents who do not have a natural birth must have made some poor choices.

If I’m pro-natural birth, it could be interpreted by parents who do not have a natural birth that they did something wrong, that perhaps the mum’s body wasn’t quite up to the job.

If I’m pro-natural birth, I’m telling the midwives and doctors who are there for an assisted birth that they have not assisted effectively.

And all these things would be wrong.

The reality is that most of my HypnoBirthing clients do have wholly natural births. They haven’t felt extreme pain, their babies have birthed relatively quickly and the first moments with their baby have been easy because no one is exhausted. And this pleases me greatly.

One of my favourite birth reports came from a couple who had had a previous negative birth experience. They needed the second birth to be a good one to get closure on the first one and they did everything to achieve it including planning a home water birth with an independent midwife. I was so looking forward to their birth story and it was a truly great one (brought a tear to my eye as it happens). They felt empowered, they were in control, they made all of the decisions and reflected on it extremely positively; they had their closure. They also happened to have a C-Section. It wasn’t natural, it wasn’t how they planned it, but it was the best decision in the circumstances on the day.

So, I’m not ‘pro-natural birth’. I’m ‘pro-a positive birth experience’.

I support the parents that I work with to have a birth experience that they are happy with, that they can look back on and smile. You can own the birth process however it plays out and that helps in achieving a positive birth experience.

The Queen, Duchess of Cambridge and HypnoBirthing

HypnoBirthing Croydon

I’ve read recently that Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, is considering using HypnoBirthing™. I’m not sure whether this is true – these stories always come from ‘a source’ which seems to be code for ‘made up by the journalist’.

Anyway, I mention elsewhere on my site that HypnoBirthing™ was founded by Mickey Mongan who was herself inspired by ‘Childbirth without Fear’, written by Grantly Dick Read. A HypnoBirthing™ colleague has a 1954 of that very book and has written saying,

” On the paper bookcover, lower right, preserved by a plastic overcover, is a quote:
`Into a world where pain and fear are rampant – this book brings a message of hope.’

The Queen.”

So there you are: The Queen used the forerunner to HypnoBirthing™ to birth Prince Charles and The Princess Royal. If she hadn’t had a good birth she wouldn’t have authorised a quote to be attributed to her on the cover. Here’s hoping that Kate’s Grandmother-in-law is giving her some useful tips.