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.

Sleep Expert Hour

The wonderful ladies at Beanies* in Croydon have asked me to host their Sleep Expert Hour this Friday, May 2nd. Do come along for a coffee and chat. This will be your chance to ask whatever you want to ask about baby sleep.

The FREE Sleep Expert Hour is from 11am to 12 noon this Friday. Do come along and bombard me with questions. Let me know if you’re coming!

Beanies

 

For more information about Baby Sleep, take a look HERE

*Beanies’ address is: 3-7 Middle Road, Croydon, CR0 1RE.

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.

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!

HypnoBirthing and Sceptical Dads

More often than not, expectant dads come to HypnoBirthing™ suspicious, sceptical and cynical. However, they are there to support their partner and I appreciate the effort they put in to it. Over time, that scepticism falls away. Here is one such story:

Madeline and Nathan recently attended a group course and are awaiting the birth of their first child. I met them before they booked the course. Madeline was very positive about HypnoBirthing™ whilst Nathan literally stroked his chin, presumably suspicious of the efficacy of HypnoBirthing. When he finally spoke he said that he was willing to support Madeline in HypnoBirthing™ if it could help improve the birth by 1%.

The course is now finished and both Madeline and Nathan contributed really well to the class. Nathan seemed really positive although he reserved the right to retain some scepticism. However, he has forwarded the following thoughts on the course which I hope will help any other sceptical dads out there (who are forced to read this by their partners):

“The HypnoBirthing course took away the uncertainty of labour and pregnancy and has chilled out both my wife and me. I was quite a cynic to start with and thought it was interesting to challenge our perception of what labour is going to be like. This course made me realise that the experience of birth could actually be a pleasurable one and quite spiritual. Talking about it on the course took away the stress and worry about what might happen. 

It has worked as much for me as it has for my wife. It really connected us on a deeper level. The balance of practical and theory throughout the course really appealed to my man brain! The meditation and HypnoBirthing practices have been useful in everyday life to relax us as well as our practice for birthing. 

I really enjoyed the course and have already recommended it to other people. It’s definitely worth doing!”

I’m really looking forward to hearing their birth story in due course!

Another Lovely HypnoBirth

I received another lovely birth story last week. It’s a great story. Whilst the birth isn’t ‘text-book’ the techniques and confidence gained from HypnoBirthing allowed mum and dad to enjoy their amazing birth – which is what it’s all about!

So, let me introduce you to Francesca, Baydon and the delightful Frida:

HypnoBIrthing Frida

“I went into at 3am on Sunday 25th and spent the day timing surges on my iPhone app but they were pretty irregular so I was mostly watching TV and sleeping. They started off about every 7-10 mins then started to speed up to about every 4-5 mins so we went in to Croydon University Hospital at about 10pm. I was cool as a cucumber at this point. The 1st hurdle was triage when they discovered I had a really high pulse rate which meant I wouldn’t be able to go to the Birth Centre. They suggested that I was dehydrated and they said if I could bring my pulse rate down through hydration I could be transferred to the birth centre.

The midwife we had that night and the one in the morning were both fantastic – particularly the one on the Monday who was there until the birth. On Sunday night I was still going strong with my breathing techniques and visualisation and Baydon was able to really keep me on track. It was actually amazing how any pain melts away when you relax into the surge. The Monday midwife was really familiar with HypnoBirthing and was totally respectful of all our birth preferences. She really acted as a first line of defence for us when the doctors started suggesting things.

On Monday they started talking about breaking my waters to -as you said- get things moving. The midwife gave us loads of time and options to consider. By 2.30pm we’d tried various things and I’d been going 36 hours so we decided to go for it. In hindsight I’m unsure whether this was the right decision but we know that ultimately it was our decision and no one talked us into it. My pulse rate was also still very high which was an important factor.

The surges picked up pace and intensity very quickly after that. Before we knew what was what they’d increased to the point where they were back to back which meant that I wasn’t getting the respite between surges to get my head together. Even 30 seconds would have been nice! I very quickly made the decision to have an epidural and once that was done I was absolutely elated. However, after the epidural, her heart rate dropped so they really wanted to just get her out. Our midwife was fantastic about explaining how this would affect our birth preferences and what the risks and options were. I had a ventouse delivery and ended up combining that with coughing to get her out as that was what worked! Frida had been fully engaged for 5 weeks so once they went in for her it didn’t take long at all. I did have an episiotomy although I asked not to so the obstetrician said he’d do his best. I ended up with just a small cut and a few stitches which he said would have been a lot more had I not been doing the perineal massage. They’ve completely healed now, less than 2 weeks later.

We had immediate skin to skin and as soon as the paediatrician was happy she was fine they all cleared out and left us alone in the room for a couple hours which was really lovely.

Ultimately labour was 40 hours and for 36 of those I was feeling great – I like to think HypnoBirthing on its own got me 90% of the way there! We also both felt 100% that decisions were our own and where they were dictated it was by circumstance rather than opinion. I came away feeling really quite positive about my birth.

So today she was officially registered. We’re getting out once a day and she’s gaining weight and we’re breast feeding like there’s no tomorrow! She’s an absolute treasure and doesn’t grumble too much and sleeps at night a reasonable amount. She’s totally enchanting and entertaining.

Thank you so much for all your guidance as it really helped us to have the most positive birth possible and obviously we’re totally made up with the outcome!”

Wow! What a great birth! For more testimonials, take look at this page.

Guest Blog: from Dadbloguk.com

We need a drum role for Birth & Baby’s first guest blogger. Putting his head above the parapet this week is John Adams, editor of Dadbloguk.com. John talks about a dad’s role during birth. Whilst John is not a HypnoBirthing dad, the central message of advocacy and the importance of agreeing birth preferences stands true however you plan your birth and however it plays out:

What is dad’s role in the delivery room?

The one piece of advice I would give any soon-to-be dad is that you have a very important role as an advocate for your partner’s wishes. Whether in the delivery room during the birth itself or the maternity ward afterwards, you should be prepared to leap in and speak up so that the medical team know how your partner wishes to be treated.

The starting point is the birth plan. You should discuss this with your partner and make sure you know it in detail. You’d be well advised to ensure the plan covers the main birthing possibilities; natural birth, forceps, ventouse and caesarean section. It should also be crystal clear about which pain relief options your partner is happy to consider.

Some people are very dismissive about birth plans and claim they aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. I think that’s an unnecessarily negative view. As the labour progresses, events will probably dictate the birth plan can’t be adhered to entirely. The plan will, however, give the medical team a very good idea about your other half’s wishes. Having you on hand to remind them of what the plan says may be no bad thing.

When our first daughter was born, I had to speak up for my wife when it became clear a forceps delivery was required. As a first time mum she was nervous and told me she wanted the benefit of powerful pain relief if things got difficult as she didn’t want to be put off having further children.

The consultant had been planning to deliver our child in the delivery room with minimal anaesthesia. When I spoke up and relayed my wife’s wishes, he agreed to move to an operating theatre where other anaesthetics could be used. I also got a knowing wink from the midwife which suggested I had said all the right things!

Something else to keep in mind is that your partner’s memory and concentration will be affected by all that’s going on. On top of the fatigue caused by labour, she will probably have been puffing on gas and air for hours and may well be under the influence of pethidine or the epidural (if she’s had one). Do not expect her to remember the finer details of her birth plan and do not expect her to remember anything you say to her at this point. You are likely to be disappointed!

If you do find yourself having to speak up, be polite, clear and quick. Events in the delivery room can move very fast. You don’t want to get in the way or annoy the midwives and consultants who know a lot more about what’s going on than you.

You may also find there’s a lot of activity around your partner’s bed. Measurements need to be taken of the mother’s body, drips and cannulas need to be fitted, the gas and air pipe will be swinging around all over the place and there could be goodness knows how many people in the room. While you probably want to hold her hand and offer soothing words, be prepared to take four paces back and let the team get on with it.

Once the baby has been born, you may still have an advocacy role. If everything is straightforward and she is discharged from hospital within a day or so, this is likely to be minimal. If, however, your partner is kept in for a protracted period of time you may need to speak to the doctors and midwives.

Post-birth hormones will be running high and your partner may be more emotional than usual. This is perfectly normal but it may mean that you have to get involved and explain what your partner’s mood is really like and how you think any medication treatments are affecting her.

Another piece of advice is to expect the unexpected. I’ve been present at the birth of both my children and they were both radically different experiences. The first was a more complex birth but the second was so quick and easy even the medical team was taken by surprise.

I also wish you the very best of luck as a father. It’s not always an easy job but it is very rewarding.

John Adams is the editor of Dadbloguk.com. Follow him on Twitter @dadbloguk

Be Prepared for the Christmas Rush

Are we in the middle of a Christmas Baby Boom?

Over the last month or so I have had a lot of enquiries for HypnoBirthing and BabyCalm courses, often from friends of mums and dads who have had calm births and now have calm babies, thanks to these courses. However, I can’t fit everyone in and it upsets me to have to turn down people who I know I could help to have easier births and a happier experience of early parenting. It hurts especially when I am unable to help people who have been referred to me by happy clients (who are like family).

So, I beseech you, do not be afraid to contact me earlier than you think is necessary. If you call me when you are 35 weeks pregnant, I may not be able to fit you into one of my classes, and if you contact me when your baby is 12 weeks old I may not be able to fit you into a BabyCalm Mother & Baby course.

Do feel free to contact me in your first or second trimester – if you’re the first to book a HypnoBirthing course of BabyCalm Antenatal Workshop I may even reschedule it to a day that suits you. By the same token, do feel free to book a BabyCalm post-natal course in the first few weeks of parenthood or even, as some do, before your baby is born. I keep my courses small so that you have chance to ask the questions you need answers to and so that you can get to know the other parents well, which has led to lots of groups of friends being made.

Alternatively, if you have a group of friends in a similar position as you i.e. pregnant or a new parent, I may be able to schedule a course for your group – you can but ask!

I hope this helps anyone considering booking a course. I am already taking bookings for 2013 courses so do contact me if you think you’d like to make a future booking.