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

Guest Blog – Who will be first?

I am hoping to welcome a series of Guest Blogs to my humble blog-site. I am looking for bloggers, parents, local therapists, and really anyone with an interest in pregnancy, birth and parenting to come and have their say here.

If you have anything you’d like to say, or you know someone else who might want to give some advice to expectant or new parents, please phone me on 020 8405 3499 or email me at helen_redfern@hotmail.com .

Later today, the first guest blogger will have their say – any guesses who it might be? Check back later to find out.

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.

Michel Odent, Oxytocin, and an invitation to Hawaii

Happy Birthday Michel Odent – how apt to wish Michel Odent Happy Birthday when he has helped, directly and mostly indirectly, so many women to have calmer more natural birthing-days.

Michel is most famous as the obstetrician who introduced the concept of birthing pools and home-like birthing rooms in the 1960s and 1970s and founded the Primal Health Research Center in London which focuses on the long-term consequences of early experiences.

I recently met him at the BabyCalm Conference where he spoke about the importance of oxytocin and early bonding between mother and baby. It is deeply important that we value early bonding because early experience, literally those first hours, can have a great impact on the person a baby becomes.

As a Certified HypnoBirthing Practitioner I help couples to explore how they can bond with their unborn baby and by having a relaxed and confident mindset during birth they are able to let the oxytocin flow for a great birth and bonding first moments with their baby.

As a BabyCalm Teacher, I help parents to work out why their baby might cry, how they can all get more sleep and how they can be confident in their parenting abilities. This all contributes to raised oxytocin and better bonding.

During the conference, Michel invited me to Hawaii. It sounded idyllic. Actually, if I am honest, he invited the whole room to the Mid Pacific Conference on Birth and Primal Health Research but I prefer my version of events!

Michel, you are an inspiration, Happy Birthday!

Have you met Michel Odent? If so, do let me know how he has inspired you.

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

HypnoBirthing and Breech Babies

I had the best news today. I worked with a lovely couple before Christmas who were preparing for the birth of their February baby. It was their second baby and the first birth had not turned out as planned; it was supposed to be a home waterbirth but ended up being a hospital birth.

Last month the mum contacted me to say that the baby was in a breech position but she wasn’t overly worried because she knew that HypnoBirthing could help. I visited her at home a week later to use hypnosis to turn the baby. Less than a week later she was able to confirm that the baby had turned and a home waterbirth was still possible.

I have spent this week wondering when I would hear what happened – despite not being that old I do a great impression of an expectant grandmother! I was delighted today to hear that she did indeed have her home waterbirth and that HypnoBirthing had been a great support… and here is the little cutie himself:

When I say to parents that their course fee includes any support they need between the end of the course and the birth of their baby, I really do mean it. I want the parents I work with to have a great birth experience and I feel chuffed to bits to have been able to help in this small way.

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?

When’s my baby due?

I’m sure that one of the first things that you did when you found out that you were pregnant is try to work out the estimated due date (“EDD”); it’s also probably the first question that people ask when you tell them that your pregnant.

When is my baby due?

So, how accurate is the EDD?

Well first off, remember that the EDD is just an estimate. Your midwife will ask you when your last period started, count back 3 months and add seven days. This calculation assumes that you happen to be someone who scrupulously notes down your period dates and who has a ‘normal’ 28 day cycle; most of the HypnoBirthing mums I work with don’t match that description. It’s easy to see how using such a starting point and adding about 282 days to it may not give an accurate EDD.

Where does 282 days come from?

The gestation period for 95% of the population falls between 265 to 300 days. 282 days is simply the average of these 2 figures. You’ll probably find that your hospital will amend your EDD at least once during your pregnancy as the size of your baby is compared to the average foetal size. Most mums I work with consider that the EDD gets closer to the date that they intuitively feel is the right date. However, I don’t think any of my HypnoBirthing mums have birthed their baby on their EDD.

So, how many babies do arrive on their due date?

Only 5% of babies are actually born on their due date. How crazy is that? So it’s really not a good use of anyone’s nervous energy to focus on the due date that you’ve been given. Research shows that the average first baby is born at 41 weeks and 3 days, i.e. 10 days after their due date. Can you imagine how annoying, and pressurising it would be to have friends an dfamily calling and texting to know if you’ve had the baby yet as soon as the magical EDD arrives? Therefore, it’s more important to focus on that range of 265 days to 300 days. So, if you were due on December 15th, it would be fair to assume that the baby would be due sometime in December. My first baby was due on the 13th. Being keen to manage everyone else’s expectations and avoid any pressure, I told friends and family that the EDD was  towards the end of the month.

Is the EDD that important?

The importance of not focussing too much on the EDD is not just about avoiding other people’s expectations but allowing yourself not to worry about when the baby is born. As long as you and your baby are both in good health and there are no complications, you should enjoy these last few days of pregnancy rather than feel pressured to consider being induced. You and your baby know when it’s time to get things started. Once artificial intervention is introduced you’re moving away from what your body and baby know what to do.

In my next post I’ll be talking about how you can help things along naturally if your do go past 42 weeks.