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.

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.”

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.

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

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.

Am I normal?

I recently worked with a lovely couple who were preparing for the birth of their second child after a traumatic first birth experience. At our last session they told me how confident that felt about their upcoming birth, that they had enjoyed our HypnoBirthing Sessions and that they had enjoyed specifically working with me. The father said that one of the best things about me is that I am ‘normal’. How we laughed! Perhaps my new tag line should be ‘Helen Redfern – She’s Normal’. However, I knew what he was getting at and I understood his preconceptions about what I might be like. This got me thinking how we Certified HypnoBirthing Practitioners are perceived.

So, am I normal? Well, I’m pretty average. I’m a thirty-something mother of two who discovered HypnoBirthing during my first pregnancy. I had feared birth and assumed that I would partake of any pain-relief on offer. However, my research (I’m perhaps not average in my need to research anything and everything) showed me that almost all the pain-relief options available had a downside either for me, my baby or both of us; well that was no use! It was then that I discovered HypnoBirthing, had two great births and decided that I really wanted to add teaching HypnoBirthing to my portfolio of skills. Really, I am pretty ‘normal’.

So, am I an unusually ‘normal’ person compared to my HypnoBirthing cohorts? I don’t think so. Yes, we come in all shapes and sizes; yes we come from a diverse range of backgrounds but we all want the parents we work with to look forward to their birth experiences, for their babies to be born safely and we are not prescriptive about how/where that birth should be.

So, if you and your partner are considering HypnoBirthing don’t worry about what the Practitioner will be like. However, I would say that it is worth speaking to a few practitioners first before booking your course so that you can find the one that you particularly gel with.

In the meantime, I’m teaching tonight so I’d better get my ‘normal’ clothes ready…