New NICE Guidleines for Co-sleeping / Bed Sharing

Do you bed-share with your baby?

Would you happily admit it in public?

Are you doing it safely?

baby-sleeping-120402

During my Baby Sleep Workshops, the subject of bed-sharing invariably comes up (I’m using the term bed-sharing as co-sleeping refers to simply sharing a room with your baby). If I ask a group of mums whether they have ever bed shared I can pretty much predict that everyone will raise their hand. In fact all but one parent I have ever asked has said that at some point they have slept with their baby in their bed.

Today, the media is awash with articles about bed sharing – apparently it’s very dangerous and we shouldn’t do it with our babies. This news derives from the publication of draft revised guidelines from the National Institute for Health & Care Excellence (“NICE”) in relation to bed sharing.

The recommendations, relevant for infants from birth until 1 year of age,  say that midwives, GPs and health visitors should ensure parents and carers are told of the link between co-sleeping (falling asleep with a baby in a bed, or on a sofa or armchair) and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (“SIDS”).

They also ask healthcare professionals to:

– Advise parents and carers that the association between co-sleeping and SIDS is likely to be greater when they, or their partner, smoke.

– Inform parents and carers that the association between co-sleeping and SIDS potentially increases if they have used drugs and/or recently drunk alcohol.

– Tell parents and carers that the association between co-sleeping and SIDS potentially increases if their child had a low birth weight or was born prematurely.

So, this all looks pretty reasonable, as the location of sleep is being considered, as is whether the parent is under the influence of any narcotics.  However, these guidelines derive from the findings of Carpenter et al that were published in May 2013. Unfortunately, journalists with tight deadlines didn’t have time to check the data and came up with headlines that said all bedsharing is dangerous but used as their case studies incidents when babies had been suffocated by their parents whilst sleeping on sofas not beds. They also managed to illustrate their articles with babies sleeping with parents in an unsafe way e.g. babies laying on plump pillows. Fortunately,  a few experts, including Sarah Ockwell Smith, did check the data and they summarised some of the failings of the report with this table:

Is it safe to bedshare cosleep with your baby

The reality going forward is most probably that healthcare professionals will advise that all bed-sharing is dangerous whilst parents will at some point bed share for a variety of reasons. There are factors that make bed sharing riskier and there are a lot of things you can do to make the environment safer, so isn’t it better that we have that discussion and provide parents with information that helps them to make safer decisions, rather than exasperated, information-poor, middle of the night decisions?

If you think that at some point you might find yourself bed sharing with your baby, and would like to know more about some of the risk factors, come to one of my BabyCalm courses or workshops to find out more.

The next FREE Baby Sleep Hour is at Beanies tomorrow, Friday 4th July.

The next 3 hour BabyCalm Sleep Workshop is Friday 11th July.

Let me know if you would like to attend either session.

x

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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.

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.

Happy New Year Baby!

HypnoBirthing Croydon

Another year has passed and I have been reflecting on what 2012 has brought with it – it has been quite  a year both professionally and personally for me, with lots of people helping me along the way, usually without even realising that they are helping me. I have been blessed to encounter so many lovely people who I have enjoyed working and studying with.

In my HypnoBirthing™ I have worked with:

  • couples who have had babies in the breech position and HypnoBirthing™ has helped the baby turn;
  • cynical dads (you know who you are!) who have really embraced HypnoBirthing™, realising that it is actually based on common sense and I’m not the hippy that they feared;
  • mums who thought an elective caesarean section might be the easier option only to end up looking forward to a natural birth after using HypnoBirthing™;Croydon HypnoBirthing
  • couples who haven’t had ‘text-book births’ but who have raved about how great their experience was because HypnoBirthing™ helped them to ‘own’ the decision making process;
  • mums who have been hospitalised during pregnancy so the HypnoBirthing™ sessions have taken place at hospital;
  • a mum who birthed her baby on 10/11/12!
  • lectured to student and registered midwives on how HypnoBirthing™ can facilitate a ‘normal birth’ and helped midwives to understand how they can best help HypnoBirthing parents.

In my BabyCalm™ work I have worked with:

  • Expectant first time parents who were nervous about what on earth wouldhow to calm a baby happen when their baby was born who went on to have lovely early days with their newborn;
  • New parents who thought that they were getting this parenting-lark wrong but actually when we talked about it in the Colic & Crying Workshop realised they were doing a great job;
  • New first-time mums who made great new friends in the Mother & Baby classes;
  • New second-time around mums who wanted to do things differently this time

Of course, bullet-pointing it like this doesn’t give scope to tell you how much I’ve enjoyed working with parents this year – with them typically arriving a little uncertain and leaving with raised self-confidence.

I’ve spent another year studying and attending some great events:

  • At the Royal College of Medicine Hypnosis in Childbirth Seminar I heard how HypnoBirthing™ is being used in the NHS and about the research being conducted by Professor Soo Downe (watch this space!)
  • At the BabyCalm Conference in London I met Michel Odent who spoke on the importance of Oxytocin in the post-natal bonding process, Naomi Stadlen who spoke on ‘What Mothers Do’ and Oliver James who spoke on ‘Love Bombing’. All very thought provoking.
  • At the HypnoBirthing™ Institute Study Day in London I heard the founder of HypnoBirthing™, Mickey Mongan, speak about the improvements being made to the HypnoBirthing™ course.
  • Exhibited at the NCT Baby Show at Trinity School, Croydon, meeting lots of expectant and new parents and meeting lots of other birth and baby professionals
  • Exhibited at the Mothercare Baby & Me Event, again meeting a cross-section of expectant parents.

I was also awarded the Gold Seal by the HypnoBirthing Institute and the HypnoBirthing UK Advisory Board nominated me as the Regional Liaison for South London.

Croydon HypnoBirthingPhew! What a year! On top of all this, I took up running this time last year (not a New Year Resolution, just happened to find a fantastic pair of running shoes) and went from being able to run about 100m (I kid you not!) to running the Croydon 10K in October in 7 minutes less than I anticipated with the 2 best supporters in the world cheering me on!

I wonder how 2013 will top that!