Safe Babywearing

One of the easiest ways to keep your baby happy through the day whilst getting on with the things you need to do is to ‘babywear’ – in other words to carry your baby in a carrier / sling / wrap. Your baby gets to feel snuggled up to its favourite person, listening to your breathing and your heart-beating whilst being rocked as you move along. When you think about it, it’s really reminiscent for your baby of being in the womb, which let’s face it, was a really nice place for him/her to be.

There are loads of Babywearing products on the market and I’m not going to tell you which to buy (whispers: the Moby Wrap is my favourite) but what I can do is give you a few pointers on what to look for. The primary thing we are looking to avoid is an occurrence of hip dysplasia or dislocation.

After birth, it takes several months for your baby’s hip and knee joints to stretch out naturally, perhaps even longer for a Frank Breech baby. The hip-joint is a ball and socket joint. During the first few months of life the ball is more likely to be loose within the socket because babies are naturally flexible and because the edges of the socket are made of soft cartilage. If the hips are forced into a stretched-out position too early, the ball is at risk of permanently deforming the edges of the cup-shaped socket (hip dysplasia) or gradually slipping out of the socket altogether (hip dislocation).

So what does this have to do with Babywearing? Well, quite a lot of carriers, especially those available on the High Street, don’t hold the child in a helpful way. What you’re ideally looking for is for your baby’s legs to be held in a frog-like pose so that the hips are held correctly. Here are some great pictures from the International Hip Dysplasia Institute:

This first picture shows a typical, well-marketed carrier. The ball of the hip joint is pushed out, risking hip dysplasia/dislocation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This second picture shows a well-designed carrier; it holds the baby’s hip joint in the correct position. Consider these images when choosing the carrier for you and your baby. Basically, look for ‘froggy-style’ legs rather than a ‘crotch-dangler’.

5 TICKS to safety:

To ensure your baby remains safe – just remember TICKS:

T – TIGHT – The carrier should be tight enough to hug your baby close to you as this will be most comfortable for you both. If it is too loose, your baby will slump down in the carrier which can hinder their breathing and pull on your back.

I – IN VIEW – You should always be able to see your baby’s face by simply glancing down without having to move any fabric. In a cradle position your baby should face upwards rather than turned in towards your body.

C – CLOSE ENOUGH TO KISS – your baby’s head should be as close to your chin as is comfortable. By tipping your head forward you should be able to kiss your baby on the head or forehead.

K- KEEP CHIN OFF THE CHEST – If your baby’s chin is on their chest, their breathing  could be restricted. Ensure there is always a space of at least a finger width under your baby’s chin.

S- SUPPORTED BACK – in an upright carry, a baby should be held comfortably close to the wearer so their back is supported in its natural position and their tummy and chest are against you. A good rule of thumb is to place a hand on your baby’s back and pressing gently – they should not uncurl or move closer to you. A baby in a cradle carry in a pouch or ring sling should be positioned carefully with their bottom in the deepest part so the sling does not fold.

If you’d like to find a range of safe carriers, take a look at the shop here

If you want more information on Hip Dysplasia, take a look here

BabyCalm comes to Croydon

Good News! BabyCalm comes to Croydon!!

BabyCalm is a unique concept, presented through classes and literature, which aims to empower new parents to raise their baby with confidence. BabyCalm helps new parents understand how to calm their baby’s crying, avoid colic and aid restful sleep. Turning crying babies and stressed parents into calmer babies and happier parents.

There is a vast amount of pregnancy and birth support available in the UK, but a real lack of support available to new parents with very young babies.  Many new parents are left to muddle through the trickiest time in early parenthood alone –  the time when babies cry lots and sleep little, the time of colic and tears (and not just the baby’s!), the time when most new mums are frantically searching prescriptive books written by childless so called ‘experts’ for the answer to their tiring and distressing days and nights.

BabyCalm feels these books and parenting experts disempower new parents who feel they lack the natural empathy and understanding of the author, feeling the need to look to others to advise them on how to care for their own baby, when in fact our best experts are our own instincts! BabyCalm strives to help parents to not only calm and understand their babies, but to help them to trust their instincts and confidently make their own parenting decisions without relying on somebody else’s routines or manuals.

BabyCalm offers 3 different Course formats, all reasonably priced, starting from just £40 for a group workshop:

1)    The Colic and Crying Workshop – an emergency 3hr workshop that can be taken from birth to 12 weeks with the sole aim of helping parents to calm their baby. Offered on a private basis, in your own home.

2)    The Antenatal Workshop – a 3hr workshop, taken during pregnancy to prepare parents to be to welcome their baby in a calm and confident way. Offered on a private or group basis.

3)    The 4 weeks BabyCalm course – An 8hr course (4 x 2hr), just for mums and babies, designed to soothe babies and fill new mums with confidence. Offered on a group basis.

Here is what previous BabyCalm-ers have to say:

“Samuel and I have really enjoyed the BabyCalm classes over the last few weeks and I feel it has made a real difference to us both – we’re much more calm and happier and colic free – thank you!” – Kerry and baby Samuel (12 wks)

“”Thank you so much for your help yesterday, it was absolutely invaluable – I’m pleased to report she stayed calm all afternoon, no more colic! And we got 6 hours straight sleep for the first time ever, I couldn’t believe it!” -Becky and baby Jessica (4 wks

If you would like to know more about BabyCalm or would like to book a course do contact me via:

If you want to get your own group together, e.g. the parents you met through NCT or your NHS birth preparation classes, do get in touch. If you wish to host a course yourself, I offer a discounted rate for the host!

HypnoBirthing: If Carlsberg did labours…

Last week one of my HypnoBirthing couples had their first baby. The mum recovered so well that she emailed me less than 90 minutes after to tell me that the birth was,

‘less than 8 hours labour, no drugs, natural placenta delivery, and no stitches’.

That sounds pretty good doesn’t it? Today she sent me the full story:

Julia, Stuart and Baby Alexi’s birth story:

‘I decided to do HypnoBirthing after a recommendation from a friend who found it fantastic. Although I was a little sceptical and my husband was very sceptical I thought it would be worth giving anything a go for an easier labour.

Using HypnoBirthing I ended up having the dream labour. Contractions started at midnight. We arrived at hospital about 4 o’clock 5 cm dilated. I was in the birthing pool by 6 AM and to the surprise of my midwives gave birth at 7:23 AM with no drugs required not even gas and air. I would describe the pain as uncomfortable, but my birthing plan indicated that the midwives not offer me pain relief unless I asked, and the uncomfortable feeling was not significant enough for it to cross my mind to ask. Clearly HypnoBirthing had a big part to play in achieving this. Additionally I did not tear at all and have not been sore since. I put this down to the perineal massage suggested by HypnoBirthing.

Helen the Certified HypnoBirthing Practitioner I chose to have the lessons with was superb. She had a great calm but no messing manner and handled my highly sceptical husband well. I would thoroughly recommend her.

My husband is saying to his mates “If Carlsberg did labours ….”

If you are reading this wondering if it is worth the money, with no guarantee you will have a labour like mine, I would say if it gives you a chance you could have a birth like mine, then it is worth every penny.’

Julia hasn’t mentioned in her testimonial that Alexi was born ‘in the caul’ i.e. in the amniotic sac. This is considered to be very lucky. It is also a sign that Julia was very relaxed and that her midwife allowed the birth to play out naturally.

If you are pregnant and like the sound of a HypnoBirth, contact me on 0208 405 3499 or at helen_redfern@hotmail.com

One Born Every Minute

I often advise my HypnoBirthing parents to refrain from watching Channel 4’s One Born Every Minute until after their birth experience. HypnoBirthing helps parents to have easier, calmer births. I suspect viewing the types of birth that make great television drama may not help in building their confidence in the great birth they are going to experience.  However, I also suspect that quite a few of the mums ignore my advice and I watch it myself in case I need to address a point raised in a future class. Last night’s episode really struck me so I am going to raise my head above the parapet and comment on it. In doing so I also include a disclaimer here that of course the programme is heavily edited so assumptions made may be wholly inaccurate.

We saw 2 births. One was the birth of Baby Freya. Her parents, Donna and Shaun, were a supportive couple. Donna went into hospital with a relaxed frame of mind and Shaun was on hand to say and do the right thing. Added to this, their midwives were fantastic.  I’m afraid I cried like the proverbial baby when they showed her birth. I’ve included a clip here:

Donna, Shaun and Freya – Channel 4’s One Born Every Minute

The second birth really struck me though and has been a ‘popular’ discussion point on various forms of social media. Kurt (aged 20) and Beth (aged 18) had a baby boy. Their experience was less positive and made uncomfortable viewing. Beth was doing really well and Kurt was being reasonably supportive. The portrayal saw her reach full dilation fairly quickly and without too much discomfort but then it seemed that her body needed a rest. Instead it seemed that a lot of pushing took place that required a high level of coaching and breath-holding. Now I have to admit I was in the process of taking down my Christmas tree so I may have missed something but I didn’t understand why Beth couldn’t just take a rest and there didn’t seem to be enough explanation as to why forceps were required at that point. Most forceps delivery take place in theatre and it seemed that Beth could only take one person in to theatre; she chose her mum. At this point the story is shown from two perspectives:

Channel 4’s One Born Every Minute

Beth’s son was delivered, slightly blue and not breathing. The cord was immediately clamped, he was taken to the resuscitation table and it took 3 minutes for him to breath. Beth meanwhile did not see her son and didn’t seem to be kept informed. She was however told that her larger than average baby was ‘a monster’. I didn’t understand why the umbilical cord, that was providing the baby with oxygen, was so hastily clamped, neither did I understand why Beth and her now breathing baby, could not enjoy some skin-to-skin time before he was taken away for observation.

I felt most uncomfortable about the treatment and portrayal of Kurt. Only one additional person was allowed in theatre and Beth chose her mum. Kurt immediately indicated that he really didn’t mind but it was clear that he was upset. Bethany was wheeled out of the room, leaving Kurt frightened and excluded from the birth of his child. His initial external reaction was one of indifference which soon became anger and some aggression. He was portrayed as a bit of a meat head and that is why I found it such uncomfortable viewing. He wasn’t kept informed of what was happening, he had no idea his son had been born or that Beth and their child were not together. However it was a joy to see how calm and tender he was when he finally saw his baby; he really had just wanted to be a part of his son’s birth.

The portrayal of Kurt’s reaction to being excluded was unnecessarily sensationalist and voyeuristic for me.

I have been considering how this might come up in a future HypnoBirthing class. I will reassure the parents that the skills they learn are going to help them to manage their births better. The mums will know when they are ready for the baby to be born and when that time comes they will breathe their baby down, perhaps resting if necessary, rather than being coached when and how to push. More importantly, the dads are going to fully understand their role in the process. They will know how they can help their partner, how to ask questions so that they know what is going on, how to accept what is going on if events take an unexpected turn and how to be the man who ensures that all three of them enjoy beautiful bonding time.

Birth is an amazing experience. I know it would make poor television to show an easy calm birth but perhaps the television participants should be given a little more consideration too.

I’d really like to hear what you felt of the births shown. What thought did it raise for you?

HypnoBirthing in the News

Did I mention that I contributed to another article in Practical Parenting and Pregnancy Magazine? This article nicely explains how HypnoBirthing can help you have a calm easy birth.

Dadzclub have also used my article on how Dads can be involved in pregnancy and the birth process – and end up a Super-Hero!

Here it is on Dadzclub.

I hope you enjoy them both. x

How to choose a HypnoBirthing course

When I was pregnant looking for a HypnoBirthing® Practitioner there were few courses in the UK and I had to travel quite some way to find my nearest class. These days there are many more HypnoBirthing® courses available which means you can choose the perfect course for you. A good place to start is to work out what you want to achieve from the course and then use the pointers below to see how you can meet those aims.

Qualification of Teacher

There are many types of teacher around and to understand better what they offer, it’s useful to understand how HypnoBirthing® came about. HypnoBirthing® was established in the 1980s by Marie (Mickey) Mongan, a college dean and certified hypnotherapist. Mickey devised a comprehensive childbirth education programme, which fully prepares couples to enjoy their pregnancy and to birth gently and easily; only Certified HypnoBirthing® Practitioners offer that course in full. A Certified Practitioner will have qualified through the HypnoBirthing® Institute founded by Mickey Mongan and to remain a Certified Practitioner he or she needs to undertake a significant amount of continued professional development. Only those who have qualified with the HypnoBirthing® Institute and continue their professional development may call themselves Certified HypnoBirthing® Practitioners although many find that a bit of a mouthful; I have to admit I don’t always use the full moniker. A good rule of thumb is that a Certified Practitioner uses a capital H and B and the ‘®’ symbol in the word HypnoBirthing® and makes reference to ‘The Mongan Method’ and is listed on the HypnoBirthing® Institute’s Directory. There are of course other types of teachers. A quick Google search shows me teachers who have studied alternative, less comprehensive courses or hypnotherapists who have added hypnosis for childbirth to their portfolio. A Certified Practitioner won’t mind being asked about their training background so ask if you are not sure.

Content of Course

A Certified HypnoBirthing® Practitioner will offer the full course which will include

  • Understanding how fear causes birth to be painful
  • Releasing that fear and replacing it with a positive emotion
  • Hypnosis – by the Practitioner, by yourself and by your partner
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Breathing techniques – and no I don’t mean any of that awful puffing and panting you see on TV!
  • Light Touch Massage – learned by the birth companion and is akin to using a TENS machine!
  • Visualisation techniques
  • Ultra-deepening Techniques
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise
  • How to write a birth plan
  • Positions to use during childbirth
  • Understanding the birth process
  • Post natal bonding
  • Breastfeeding

It’s quite a list isn’t it and for the purposes of this article it would have been nice to have less bullet points but the point of HypnoBirthing® is that it is a comprehensive ante-natal programme for couples. If you opt for a course run by someone other than a Certified Practitioner, ensure that you understand which of the above topics is not covered and whether your partner has a role in the process.

Times / Dates

A Certified HypnoBirthing® Practitioner must offer all of the course content over 4 x 3 hour sessions or 5 x 2.5 hour sessions; it would be impossible to offer the course in a shorter time frame and if they don’t adhere to that schedule a Practitioner will lose their certification. Again, a quick Google search shows teachers who offer short crammer style courses, perhaps over a weekend and/or as briefly as 1 or 2 hours. If you opt for a shorter course be sure that you understand what the course entails.

Personality

You’ll probably narrow down your search to a couple of Practitioners and your final selection may come down to personality. Contact those on your short list. Most expectant parents e-mail me but the easiest way to really work out how you get on with someone is to phone them and have a chat. As the mother of 2 HypnoBirthed children it is entirely possible that madness will be ensuing when you call in which case I would always offer to call you back at a mutually convenient time, as would any other Practitioner.

Hopefully this article has helped you work out the best HypnoBirthing® Practitioner for you. It would be really interesting to know what else you might look for in a Practitioner so do leave a comment or send a message.

Helen Redfern BA (Hons) IDPC HBCE is a Certified HypnoBirthing Practitioner based in South Croydon. Helen offers HypnoBirthing courses for couples across South London, North Surrey and North Kent.

Expectant Dads – How to be a Super Hero

How to be a Super-Hero – or what your role is during your child’s birth.

How are you feeling about the birth of your child? If you’ve seen TV births, be they fictional Soap accounts or real births on Channel 4’s One Born Every Minute you may be worried about how you are going to perform. TV dads generally fall into 2 camps – the headless chicken or a rabbit frozen in headlamps. In reality you have a great role to perform, can assist your partner in so many ways AND reflect afterwards on what a great part you played. When you perform your role well, you get to be a SUPER-HERO in your partner’s eyes. It’s a Win-Win situation.

First let’s look at what’s going on for your partner during birth. Women are designed to give birth perfectly well. However, most women hold varying degrees of fear about birth, ranging from ‘a bit nervous’ to ‘terrified’. Such fears cause her body to release the stress hormone catecholamine which sends her body into a fight or flight response. As much as she might want to she can’t take either option so instead she freezes which stops her body working effectively, causing childbirth to slow or stop and become painful. So where do you come in? Well, if you can keep her chilled and relaxed she won’t feel fear, which will make the birth smoother, even enjoyable and because YOU made it happen that way, YOU get to be the SUPER-HERO.

So, you’re now asking how you’re supposed to make all this happen. It’s surprisingly easy.  Let’s think of what’s going to make your partner stressed or fearful. In the build-up to the big day she is going to hear a lot of horror-stories from friends and family and she’s going to probably watch too many negative birth experiences on TV too. You will need to counterbalance this by helping her to prepare for the birth in a positive way.

The first way you will do this is by attending ante-natal appointments and classes with her. This is not just so your partner can feel supported it is so you can pick up a huge amount of useful information. You’ll learn how your local midwifery team do things and you’ll start to learn the jargon that might be used on the day too. You may also be able to build up a relationship with the team that you will see when your child is born. Even if you are planning a home-birth it is worth taking the tour of the maternity unit with your partner. Take a look at the birthing suite and ask how the room works. Can you lower the lighting or play music? Can you move the bed around and are birthing balls available. Ask what the process is for checking in. Find out where to park; do you have to pay; do you have to use a different entrance in the evenings or weekends? Research now will help on the day.

Write a Birth Plan together. This will explain to the midwives and doctors the preferences that your partner has for the birth. Ensure you understand what your partner wants so that you can advocate for her. Ensure that all avenues are explored. She may want to aim for a fully natural birth but the plan should also state her preferences for other eventualities. Take the opportunity to work out what everything is in the hospital bag. When the baby is born the midwife will ask you for some clothes and a nappy. Make sure you know what they are, and where they are.

So, THE BIG DAY has arrived. You, the SUPER-HERO, swing into action.  If you
are going to hospital, your partner will let you know when she is ready. You already know how to get there, where to park, and have money ready to pay for the parking. You know how to get into the maternity ward and have the maternity notes and birth plan to hand. You are fully in control. Your partner is concentrating on what her body is doing so it is your role to protect her from anything that could break the flow of childbirth and to advocate on her behalf. In fact all conversations between her and medical staff can be channelled through you if she wishes to stay within her birthing body.

You reach the birthing suite. You’ll have chatted through what she didn’t like about the room so help her to be in a place where she can’t see the things she didn’t like e.g. the clock that is going to tell her she isn’t labouring fast enough. Talking of time, many hospitals will aim for your partner’s cervix to dilate by 1cm per hour. Well, the arrival at hospital may cause things to slow or stop for a while. Tell her that’s OK, her body is just adjusting to its new environment.  Staff are going to come in, breaking the flow.  This is when you are really masterful and take control. When intervention or timescales are suggested YOU are really going to swing into action and YOU are going to do that by asking questions using your BRAINS! This is how you’ll do it:

B is for Benefit – What is the benefit of the intervention suggested?

R is for Risk – What is the risk?

A is for Alternatives – What is the alternative?

I is for Instinct – What does your Instinct tell you?

N is for No – What happens if you doing nothing – or wait another hour?

S is for Smile –  You’d be amazed how far approaching this politely will get you.

Before you know it, your baby is with you. You’ll tell your partner how great she’s been, you’ll tell her how proud you are of her and you’ll melt when you see your beautiful baby. You are also going to feel hugely proud of your part in the birth. You’re not a TV dad, you’re a SUPER-HERO. Prepare to take the plaudits for a job well-done.

If you’d like to know more about how you can support your partner during pregnancy and birth, and prove to be a Super-Hero, take a look at my Private HypnoBirthing Classes and Group HypnoBirthing Classes.

What’s a HypnoBirth like for Dads?

HypnoBirthing® is very much for both parents rather than just the expectant mum. Fathers are a very important part of the HypnoBirthing process and dads often thank me for giving them a role during the pregnancy and the birth itself – no more standing in the corner of the delivery room wondering what to do with themselves! Anyway, as before, I think a HypnoBirthing® dad can explain this far better than me so I’m going to hand over to Nof, very proud father of Santino:

Gill and I are the proud parents of Santino.

Prior to the birth we were bombarded by our friends’ birth stories which included 36 hour labour, all manner of drugs and potions, and lots and  lots of pain and screaming!

Gill’s labour lasted for just seven hours. I’m in no doubt that this was due to the breathing exercises and visualisation learnt during Helen’s HypnoBirthing® classes.

As the Dad, it was amazing to feel part of the whole experience and to help keep Gill focused on her breathing. 

Santino was born alert and calm with no distress. It is absolutely true that a baby will pick up on their mother’s anxieties.

Incidentally, I use the techniques gained during our HypnoBirthing® sessions for everyday life

Helen was brilliant and I have no hesitation in recommending her for HypnoBirthing®.