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.

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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!

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.

Can you love more than one baby?

I remember wondering before my second birth how I could possibly love a second child as much as I love my first child. All of my heart loved my first child “F”; surely there was no space to love another child. Of course, almost every mother thinks like this until they meet their next child. In my case my love for my second child “T” was instant, total but different, in part because this time around I had half an idea what I was doing.

We’re some years along the parenting path now. I love my children completely and with all of my heart but still I think I love them differently. Today I chatted with my husband about it and the nearest I could come to explaining it is that the love I feel for each of them is a different shape. My love for “F” is a round shape. “F” has the makings of a fine young lady. She is thoughtful, caring and witty; she makes me smile. Meanwhile, “T” is a bit more of a challenge but ever so cheeky and surprisingly thoughtful. The love I feel for him is more of a yearning and longing; it’s a sharper shape.

I work with a lot of expectant parents and I have to admit I envy the experience they have ahead of them of meeting their baby for the first time – gosh, if you could bottle that experience you’d make a fortune. One of my HypnoBirthing dads recently said that he could see the happiness in my face whenever I talked about meeting one’s newborn – and he was totally right.

So, are you a second time around mum worrying about how you can love a second child equally – how do you think it will work out for you?  Are you a mum of several children? Do you love your children in the same way or is there a discernible difference – is it a different shape or is there perhaps another way you would describe it? I’d love to know what others think on this topic.

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!

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.