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

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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.

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

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.

Pregnant?

So, how do you know you’re pregnant? Many women claim to have known on the day of conception that they had become pregnant, others spot clues around the time their period is due and of course there are a few that don’t know until childbirth starts! If you can’t wait to take a pregnancy test, here are a few signs that you may already be experiencing:

  • A strange, ‘metallic’ taste in your mouth
  • Tender, enlarged breasts
  • The small bump on your nipples become more pronounced
  • Lower abdominal pains
  • Needing to urinate more often
  • Going off certain things, such as coffee and fatty foods
  • Increased vaginal discharge
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Some women experience very light bleeding, called ‘spotting’, that they mistake for their period

Do any of these symptoms ring bells for you?

After you’ve celebrated your happy news you can try to reduce some of the above discomforts. Try to eat regularly to keep your energy levels up and ensure you get sufficient sleep and rest. You may need to start wearing a more supportive bra by day and a sleep-bra by night. However, during these early weeks, you can pretty much carry on as usual.

If you can think of any further early-pregnancy symptoms or have any top-tips, let me know or leave a comment.