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.

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