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.

The Queen, Duchess of Cambridge and HypnoBirthing

HypnoBirthing Croydon

I’ve read recently that Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, is considering using HypnoBirthing™. I’m not sure whether this is true – these stories always come from ‘a source’ which seems to be code for ‘made up by the journalist’.

Anyway, I mention elsewhere on my site that HypnoBirthing™ was founded by Mickey Mongan who was herself inspired by ‘Childbirth without Fear’, written by Grantly Dick Read. A HypnoBirthing™ colleague has a 1954 of that very book and has written saying,

” On the paper bookcover, lower right, preserved by a plastic overcover, is a quote:
`Into a world where pain and fear are rampant – this book brings a message of hope.’

The Queen.”

So there you are: The Queen used the forerunner to HypnoBirthing™ to birth Prince Charles and The Princess Royal. If she hadn’t had a good birth she wouldn’t have authorised a quote to be attributed to her on the cover. Here’s hoping that Kate’s Grandmother-in-law is giving her some useful tips.

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.

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge

Will Catherine use HypnoBirthing?I really feel for Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. She’s obviously having a dreadful time of it with severe ‘morning sickness’ – a ridiculous euphemism if ever I heard one! She must have been really ill to go to hospital because the act of going to hospital has somewhat let the cat out of the bag – and that’s why I really feel for her; she hasn’t been able to keep her baby secret to herself.

Some people can’t wait to tell the world and are on the phone or social media as soon as the line appears in the window. Others, me included, decide to wait until it is ‘safe’ which is usually considered to be after the dating scan at around 12 weeks. Sources differ but at least 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage and being a very practical person, I felt that I wouldn’t be able to cope with that if ‘everyone’ knew. Can you imagine what it must be like if ‘everyone’ literally is everyone in the street, in the papers, on the TV, on social media? Crikey.

Once we had had a positive scan we felt that we ought to start telling people but really neither of us wanted to. It was our little secret; it was our family sprouting into life and I wanted to hold it (the secret and our baby) close to me, to protect it. I felt that once the secret was out, that we wouldn’t own it any more, that we wouldn’t be in control of it.

So, I feel for Catherine, not just because she is feeling dreadful physically but because she knows that when she leaves the hospital, she must face a barrage of cameras flashing, she must smile and wave and she will know that we all know. I can but hope she will be given chance to enjoy her pregnancy away from the media, but that’s as likely as one of those blue moons!

How did you feel about telling people about your pregnancy – did you want to tell the world straight way or was it a secret you wanted to keep to yourself. Please write a comment on what was important to you.

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.