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

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.

Birthing in a Coma

I tell my HypnoBirthing parents that a woman’s body is designed to birth a baby without her making any conscious physical effort towards the birth herself. A woman’s body has a Natural Expulsion Reflex that causes the baby to be born. I emphasise this point in class by saying that even a paralysed woman or a woman in a coma can give birth.

On Radio 5 Live today there was a woman who had indeed given birth when paralysed and in a coma – she woke up 2 months after the baby was born! I’ve attached a short audio of the woman telling her amazing story. I shall be referring any doubters to this post in future!

Woman gives birth to baby boy while in a coma

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.

Beautiful HypnoBirthing C-Sections

‘Beautiful HypnoBirthing C-Sections’ – An oxymoron surely?

Beautful HypnoBirthing Ceasarean

Well, no actually. HypnoBirthing is not prescriptive about how and where babies should be born. As a HypnoBirthing Practitioner I want the parents that I work with to be relaxed during their pregnancy, looking forward to the birth of their child. Most of the parents I work with want a wholly natural birth and most experience that but sometimes that can’t happen for a variety of reasons. What I’m most proud of is that all the parents that I have worked with have been happy with their birth experience, however it played out. That happiness derives from the techniques learned and confidence gained from HypnoBirthing.

So, take a look at the following article, by yours truly, on how HypnoBirthing techniques can be used through pregnancy and any type of birth.

Beautiful HypnoBirthing C-Sections

It would be great to have some comments on how HypnoBirthing has helped you with your birth, whatever the circumstances.

C-Sections and Soothing Crying Babies

My media appearances are a bit like buses with several in one day today. Check out the latest (July) copy of Practical Parenting Magazine to see my articles about C-Sections and Crying Babies.

HypnoBirthing can be adapted as childbirth progresses; it can even be used in an elective c-section. HypnoBirthing is not prescriptive about how/where your birth should be but it does give you the confidence to make the decisions that are right for you and your baby as your birth experience unfolds.

Meanwhile, massage can be used to soothe a crying baby. In Practical Parenting I detail what specific strokes could soothe your baby (and you).

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…

Gold Standard

HypnoBirthing® in the UK has had some great news in the past month. The Federation of Antenatal Educators “FEDANT” has formally recognised HypnoBirthing® by granting National Register admission to Certified HypnoBirthing® Practitioners – that’s people like me!

FEDANT’s primary purpose is to protect the public by providing a National Register of validated professionals and HypnoBirthing’s admission to FEDANT’s Register gives us a Gold Standard at a time when is a bewildering array of independent qualifications in Antenatal Education.

I’m so pleased that the HypnoBirthing® community has been recognised in this way.

 “Many parents are choosing to use HypnoBirthing as part of their birth preparation and it is a testament to the skill and dedication of those in the sector that awards have been developed which fulfil the requirements of both education and safety” – Angela Stone, Secretary. FEDANT

Nothing works?

Marie (Mickey) Mongan, the founder of HypnoBirthing®, recently presented the following speech at the HypnoBirthing® Convention. I thought it would be worth sharing this since it explains what mums have to do during their baby’s birth:

With HypnoBirthing NOTHING works!

We see it often – HypnoBirthing® mothers accept that they have the ability to relax through the first phase of labor. But when it comes to talking about the baby’s descent and birthing, the question is, “What do I do then?” My answer is always the same – “NOTHING!! That’s what I want you to get out of this course. The understanding of doing “Nothing!!”

With HypnoBirthing® NOTHING works. It’s Nature’s perfect design from the very onset.

Let’s look at a newborn baby girl – as she emerges, who teaches her to breathe? She does absolutely nothing to make it happen – but it happens.

If properly placed and encouraged, she crawls and bobbles her way to the breast for her first meal outside the womb. There is nothing that anyone gives her in the way of instruction – A natural GPS??

Within minutes of being born, she releases her anal sphincters, and out comes her first stool, or she pees. How does she do that without a chart of how to perform timely bodily functions?

Over time, as she grows and develops, with nothing to tell her how or when or how many times, she learns that she can sneeze to clear her nasal passages; she can signal that she is hungry or wants attention if it’s not readily there; she startles and becomes alert if she is frightened; and, if she feels secure, she can relax and fall asleep in loving arms. What did she do to learn to fall asleep? Nothing! Who taught her to awaken? How did she know she was hungry?

Fast forward to when she is a teenager. Her body changes with nothing but internal hormonal secretions to act as catalysts – she becomes a woman. The power of nothing is, and has been, alive in her human experience in so many ways, and she has mastered many functions with nothing but instinct to guide her.

Nothing has to teach her that she is experiencing her first love. She instinctively knows it and feels it. And when the time is right, there is nothing she has to study to learn how to express that love physically.

But enter the miracle of pregnancy, and all of a sudden, her previous trust, power, and confidence crumbles. She is now taught that her body is incapable of leading her through what should be a perfectly magical time. She must now be carefully taught how to nurture her pregnant body and her baby and ultimately how to give birth.

She is further taught that her trust and dependence is best placed outside of her own abilities and externally placed into the hands of others – strangers, trained and practiced experts, who know better than she. She needs them now to efficiently and conveniently manage her birth. They will teach and guide her along each step of the way. Instinct be damned!

She is now categorized onto charts – primagravida, and she’s put onto schedules, and regimens. She learns that she is inadequate and almost irrelevant to her own birthing experience.

For the woman who senses this as a disconnect, there are two options. She can go along with the prevailing model, or she can trust birthing, register for a HypnoBirthing® class and learn to do nothing!!

We know that many of our moms hear a common question when they say they are preparing to birth their baby with HypnoBirthing®. The question often is “Are you out of your mind.” In truth the response to that is “Yes.” To rely on her basic birthing instincts, a mother literally needs to be “out of her mind”. That’s where she turns her birthing over to her body and gets her mind and the regimens and techniques out of the way.

That’s exactly where we want our moms to be. When we teach them otherwise – how to do, and when to do, and how often to do – we confuse the inner consciousness, which controls instinct. Instinct no longer can function – we have stifled the natural function with the clutter of confused, panicked mind talk.

We strip it of the internal knowing, and then we turn to drugs as an external means of forcing the body to do what it used to know how to do. We know that drugs inhibit the bonding experience at birth, and mind talk also inhibits bodily function. Instead of achieving the objective, we confuse the body and it abdicates.

My question to all is: How dare we? How dare we presume to think that we can manipulate and redesign and introduce confusion into the experience with our own special outlines, instructions and techniques? How dare we mess with what is already perfectly created?

When we distribute charts and lists and lessons, filled with exercises and positions and advice,in effect,we are telling our parents that they need to do more and they need to do it this or that way at particular times. We need to bring about an awareness that what we teach in HypnoBirthing® is not the cornerstone of HypnoBirthing®, but rather suggestions to pass time.

Parents panic. They are afraid they will forget what we carefully instilled. They question are they doing it “right’? The only important thing is that they learn to do nothing – to just “allow” – to be the mammals that they are and return to their basic instincts.

Birthing has a rhythm and a flow, and every bit of “fixing” that we impose helps to disturb and shut down that very rhythm and flow. What they need to develop is a mastery to be “Out of their minds.” We need to stop humanizing birth. We have to put aside our own egos and our need to be a relevant factor in their birthing.

The time has come when we need to stop labeling these births as “exceptional” and “fantastic” and “out of this world.” They need to be seen as the norm and not out of the ordinary. When we no longer feel that we have to talk about how shocked and surprised the caregivers are, we will have begun to make progress. These will be the births that all mothers will expect when they are “out of their minds” and doing Nothing.

——Mickey Mongan, Director and Founder of the HypnoBirthing® Institute

What’s a HypnoBirth like for Dads?

HypnoBirthing® is very much for both parents rather than just the expectant mum. Fathers are a very important part of the HypnoBirthing process and dads often thank me for giving them a role during the pregnancy and the birth itself – no more standing in the corner of the delivery room wondering what to do with themselves! Anyway, as before, I think a HypnoBirthing® dad can explain this far better than me so I’m going to hand over to Nof, very proud father of Santino:

Gill and I are the proud parents of Santino.

Prior to the birth we were bombarded by our friends’ birth stories which included 36 hour labour, all manner of drugs and potions, and lots and  lots of pain and screaming!

Gill’s labour lasted for just seven hours. I’m in no doubt that this was due to the breathing exercises and visualisation learnt during Helen’s HypnoBirthing® classes.

As the Dad, it was amazing to feel part of the whole experience and to help keep Gill focused on her breathing. 

Santino was born alert and calm with no distress. It is absolutely true that a baby will pick up on their mother’s anxieties.

Incidentally, I use the techniques gained during our HypnoBirthing® sessions for everyday life

Helen was brilliant and I have no hesitation in recommending her for HypnoBirthing®.