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?

I’m asked what HypnoBirths are like all the time so I thought I’d hand over to the lovely Gill and her baby boy for a first-hand description:

To my surprise, my waters broke 3 weeks before my estimated due date!  The classes that we had with Helen really helped to keep me calm because I knew what was happening so wasn’t afraid and the positive affirmations I had been listening to on the Rainbow CD came straight to mind.

I phoned the hospital and they said I should go in so the baby could be monitored.  The baby was fine and as my surges hadn’t properly started yet (they only felt like strong period pains) I was allowed to go home which I was really pleased with.  As it was the evening I thought I better try and get some sleep before things really got going!  I played the Rainbow CD and slept until 3am when I woke to much stronger surges.  I stayed in bed for about an hour practicing my slow breathing and then went down stairs to sit on my birth ball and continue with my breathing and my husband gave me the light touch massage which really helped.  I timed my surges and when they lasted over a minute and were 2 minutes apart I phoned the hospital.  I don’t think the midwife I spoke to believed that I was ready to come in, because I was so calm.  She tried to persuade me to stay at home longer but I knew that my labour was already quite advanced so we made our way to the hospital.

They examined me after about half an hour; they were amazed that I was fully dilated.  I truly believe that this was because I worked with my body every step of the way and helped the baby’s descent through effective breathing techniques and because I was calm, my body naturally did what it was supposed to do.  After another hour and a half and with the help of birth breathing and visualisation our beautiful baby boy had arrived!  He was alert and I felt totally exhilarated and empowered!  We had skin to skin contact and he latched on to breast feed very quickly. 

My husband and I really enjoyed our classes with Helen.  She helped us to feel totally relaxed and explained the concept of HypnoBirthing® perfectly.  We had fun with the classes and learnt an awful lot!  We knew how important it was to put into practice everything that Helen taught us, so we tried to practice as much as possible and listened to the Rainbow CD most nights.   The breathing techniques we learnt also helped us both in our day to day to lives and I can now see how effective positive affirmations and visualisation can be, it’s very powerful! 

I had such an amazing birthing experience.  We couldn’t have done it without the help of Helen and HypnoBirthing®.  I would highly recommend the course to anyone!

What do I need to buy?

Due to popular demand, I’m adding to my Hospital Bag post with what else you need to have for your baby. I remember being so bamboozled by the array of items that I left it to about 35 weeks to start buying and only then after a panic-ridden call to my mum who used terms such as romper and sleep suit as though I should know what these meant. Here’s a run-down of what I think you need.

Baby Clothing

  • Body Suits –these are like 1980’s bodies that some of us are old enough to have worn. Can be short or long-sleeved and have poppers at crotch
  • Romper Suits – like a jumpsuit with arms and legs but no feet. Buy ones with poppers down the middle.
  • Sleep Suits – like a romper suit with feet.
  • Socks
  • Booties
  • Hat – either woollen for winter or sun hat for summer although newborns should never be in direct sunlight.
  • Grobag – This is a sleeping bag for babies. I highly recommend them. They come in 1.0 tog for summer and 2.5tog for winter www.gro-store.co.uk/sleeping/grobag-baby-sleep-bags.html

Changing Kit

  • Try to have a nappy changing station both up and down stairs. You don’t want to be rushing upstairs several times a day to change nappies, especially if there has been a leakage.
  • Nappy sacs
  • Baby wipes – avoid any with alcohol or added moisturiser. You baby’s bum doesn’t need anything extra. Try Huggies Pure
  • Cotton Wool – use cotton wool in preference for at least 6 weeks. Wipes can be too drying initially.
  • Nappy cream, such as Sudacrem or Bepanthem.
  • Changing Mat
  • Nappy Bucket. You don’t need an expensive ‘disposal system’, you just need a cheap plastic bucket.
  • Top’n’Tail bowl – opinion is divided on the usefulness of these bowls. I personally found them useful.
  • Change bag – there are some gorgeous change bags available, with gorgeous price-tags. Personally I used a satchel I already had which my husband didn’t mind being seen out with.

If using cloth nappies you will need:

  • Cloth nappies x 24
  • Nappy wraps x 5+
  • Nappy liners
  • Nappy Grips, if your nappy doesn’t come with fastening

If using disposables get a few packs in but don’t overdo it because babies grow quickly. Mine were in Size 2 within 10 days.

Out and About

  • Pushchair/Pram – Ensure it suits your lifestyle. Will it get onto a bus, will it fit in your car, will it manage steps you use every day? I’d advise you go to a showroom and wheel a few around. Take some shopping to hang off the handle bars and see how they manoeuvre. You will need to buy a cosy-toes or add blankets.
  • Sling/Papoose – You can opt for something like a soft structured carrier, a ring sling or a wrap-style. The BabyCalm Shop has lots of styles and designs and videos of how to use most of them too: BabyCalm Shop 
  • Car-seats – I’d highly recommend an ISOFIX seat so you know it’s installed correctly. This is one of the few things you must buy brand-new.

Bath time

  • Some people just use the kitchen sink or you can buy a basic bath for £10. I used a Supabath  to avoid bending whilst other people use Tummy Tubs
  • Hooded Towels
  • Small sponge
  • Bath wash

Feeding

If you are breastfeeding you will need:

  • Maternity Pads – I would highly recommend Johnson’s Nursing Pads; they are by far the most comfortable .
  • Muslin squares
  • Breast Pump

If you are bottle feeding you will need:

  • Formula
  • Bottles
  • Steriliser
  • Bottle Brush
  • Bibs

Bedtime

  • Initially most people go for a Moses basket or crib. Your baby will not stay here for long (mine lasted about 2 months) so this is the sort of thing that is worth buying cheap or borrowing, albeit with a new mattress.
  • Bed-linen. If you are using a Grobag you just need sheets.
  • A swaddling blanket will keep you baby feeling cosy and stop them waking themselves when they experience the moro/startle reflex.
  • You don’t need a cot at this stage but there can be a long lead-time so it is worth ordering sooner rather than later. If you have space I would recommend a cot-bed which will see most children through to about 4 yrs old.
  • If you are bed-sharing you can get away with not buying most of this equipment.
  • Monitor – you don’t need all of the fancy functions but I would advise you to buy digital. We initially had an analogue monitor but when next door had a baby their monitor interfered with ours.

Saving money

So much of what you buy now will only last you a few months. Most items can be bought cheaply at supermarkets (most supermarkets have special baby offers every month or so), from eBay (and sold on again in due course), from NCT Nearly New Sales and of course borrowed from friends. I hate to chuck away baby items; I want them to have another life. I think most parents feel like this so make sure all of your friends/family know that you are happy to receive their second-hand items. For larger items I have always found www.kiddicare.com really competitive price-wise and they deliver next day.

Oh, and remember, you will be inundated with presents. Let people know what you’d like, be specific. Your baby will always be well dressed. My childrens’ wardrobes are bulging and yet I have only really bought underwear for them. Family and friends will keep you stocked up – just hope they have good taste!

If you’ve found this useful, please tell other people about it, or subscribe for more useful posts.

Good luck!

The gentle touch

Last week I completed my Infant Massage Practitioners Course. I had a ball with lots of babies and mums helping us out with our techniques. I took Baby Massage classes with my son a few years ago. It was my favourite part of the week but in my sleep-deprived fog I hadn’t realised the breadth of benefits for both baby and mum & dad – here are just a few of the benefits I learned about last week:

For Baby

Phot by o5com

If mums come to Baby Massage for a specific reason it will usually relate to digestion, as I did. Massage can soothe colic, alleviate trapped wind and aid constipation, as well as helping to stimulate the circulatory and nervous systems. Embarrassment should be left at the door of classes because the effects of massage can be immediate and many a trump may be heard! Massaging the gums may also help teething so that everyone can get a better night’s sleep!

Touch is baby’s first language, and it is their most advanced sense at birth. Massage teaches positive loving touch, especially important for babies who have spent time in hospital. The act of massage helps babies to feel loved, respected and secure – someone loves them enough to do this loving act. A baby who enjoys a daily massage as part of their routine will feel especially loved.

Ultimately massage will promote relaxation in your baby, reducing fussiness and improving his and your sleep, a win-win for all concerned.

For Parents

Massage can alleviate the effects of Postnatal Depression, helping mum to have a more positive interaction with her baby. It generally helps parents to understand their baby’s non-verbal communication cues. It can be a great way for parents to understand how their baby responds to something that feels really good.

Massage enhances parents’ confidence and competence in handling their baby; this is especially true with fathers who may be all fingers and thumbs with their young baby.

The action of massaging their baby can have quite a hormonal effect on a mother. Massage stimulates the production of hormones that promote both lactation and nurturing instinct – quite a hit for mum and baby!

What I noticed during my time with the massage guinea pigs was that almost all the babies became really excited when their mum’s massaged them initially (lots of squeals and shrieks) and then gradually became really chilled out, to the point of falling asleep in a few cases. The mums and babies maintained such strong eye contact, just enjoying this special interaction, often oblivious to everything else. It was pretty special to be part of it and I’m looking forward to working with many more mums, dads and their babies in the future.

Have you tried Baby Massage – what was your experience of it?

Everything but the kitchen sink?

One thing I’m asked time again is what to take in a hospital bag. The last thing you want is to have got settled in the maternity ward to realise that you’ve left the most crucial item behind so I have written a list that should cover most eventualities.

The Bag Itself

Lets start with the bag itself. Try to keep the size and weight of the bag to a minimum because the person carrying the bag, hopefully not you, is going to do a lot of carrying as he/she walks from the car park to reception, and on to the maternity ward,  the delivery suite and finally the postnatal ward. You may find it easier to take 2 small bags, one for you during the birth and one for after the birth, perhaps with a nappy and first clothes on the very top to avoid the whole bag being emptied to get the baby dressed. Soft bags rather than hard sided cases are preferable for squeezing into hospital cupboards.

For Mum

  • Something comfortable and light-weight (hospitals can be very warm) to give birth in.
  • A dressing gown, preferably in a dark colour.
  • Slippers.
  • Lip balm
  • Things to help you relax or pass the time, such as books, magazines, games and so on. If you are likely to want to use your iPad, play music or a DVD take a battery-operated equipment, as many hospitals won’t let you plug things in. Some hospitals provide their own CD players or radios so check this when you take the maternity tour during your pregnancy.
  • A hairband. If you have long hair, you’ll probably want to tie it up.
  • Pillows. The hospital might not have enough to make you really comfortable. Perhaps leave these in the car for your partner to collect as required.
  • Nursing bras, tops or nightie to make breastfeeding easy.
  • Breast pads
  • Old, cheap or disposable pants. If you end up having a caesarean large ‘hip huggers’ can work really well.
  • Proper maternity towels. These are usually a little softer than sanitary towels which is useful if you have had stitches.
  • A toiletry bag with anything you would normally take for a couple of days away.  Maybe some make-up too, especially if your local newspaper visits the hospital to photograph babies for its new arrivals page! I learnt this to my cost when I ended up in the local ‘Advertiser’ looking like the creature from the deep!
  • Arnica tablets to help with bruising after the birth. Many women report that taking arnica helps reduce bruising and helps the healing process.
  • Food and drink for during and after birth. HypnoBirthing® mums especially tend not to lose their appetite so be prepared with a supply of goodies. Also, if you give birth during the evening or night it may be that no food is available until the morning and by that point you will have worked up a hunger. Remember that your partner will be hungry/thirsty too.

For Baby

  • Nappies
  • Cotton wool balls
  • Nappy Bags
  • Something to go home in; consider whether the weather is likely to be hot, cold or wet.
  • Sleepsuits, Bodysuits etc.
  • Blanket.
  • Socks or Booties
  • Scratch Mitts
  • Muslin Squares
  • Hat
  • Don’t forget to have an appropiate infant car seat ready. Most hospitals won’t let you leave by car without one. Take the time beforehand to read the instructions. When I put my baby in for the first time I had no idea how to tighten the straps and the midwife wasn’t able to help either so I had to get the manual out before we could leave!

For Your Birth Companion

  • A change of clothes for your birth companion in case their’s get messy.
  • Something to wear in the pool if he/she is likely to join you.
  • Food and drink.

Don’t Forget!

    • Your birth preferences. Take a few copies in case there is a shift change during your birth.
    • Your hospital notes.
    • Change for the car park. Leave some change in your car now (out of view) so there will always be some change available. During your hospital tour ask whether there are any special arrangements for the maternity patients. At my local hospital the parents pay for the first 2 hours and then a sign is put in the car to tell the parking attendant that the ticket will not be renewed due to it belonging to a birthing mother. This was not widely advertised so it is worth asking.
    •  A fully charged camera. Don’t rely on your phone or tablet that you have been using for hours to keep you entertained to have sufficient juice left to take photos.

 

Don’t Take:

Anything valuable since hospitals tend not to provide lockable cupboards and you may have to move to a different room quickly so items are easily mislaid.

 

I purposely haven’t put quantities down since you can never tell how long your birth will take and how long you will remain in the post-natal ward. Some mothers leave hospital within a few hours whilst more complicated births can result in a longer stay. Therefore, take enough for a couple of days but leave additional supplies, well labelled, at home for your partner to bring in as necessary. Perhaps go through it with him/her since new parents don’t necessarily know the difference between a romper suit, a babygro and a sleepsuit; I certainly didn’t and neither did my husband. Also ensure that your partner knows the whereabouts of the closest Mothercare. Boots or similar in case there is something that you have totally forgotten.

I won’t have covered everything so please, if you can think of anything else, please add a comment. I hope this has been helpful.

If you’re also worried about what you need back at home, check out: What Do I Need To Buy?

How did I get here?

My first HypnoBabyI was wondering how I got here – not in a birds and the bees way but how I got to be a HypnoBirthing Practitioner, Life Coach and soon a qualified Infant Massage Practioner. I’ve never had a master plan but if I’d had one I don’t think any of those things would have been in it.

I qualified as a Life Coach in 2004 and promptly ditched the illustrous (ahem) career in the City. Two babies later I felt I wanted a new challenge without leaving the Coaching behind because I found that great fun. Frankly the list of roles that interested me was almost endless but there were some common themes, particularly pregnancy, birth and babies.  One evening I was lying on the floor in a Yoga/Pilates class. I was supposed to be doing a relaxation/visualisation, possibly a beach scene (isn’t it always?) but my mind was elsewhere. Suddenly the future was clear. I didn’t have to choose one role, I could choose a whole group of roles that I knew I would find fun. I started with HypnoBirthing because it had helped me through both of my pregnancies and felt passionately that other parents could benefit from it. It also works well with the Coaching since I now specialise in Parent Coaching. As for Infant Massage, I’m just qualifying and I’m really looking forward to seeing all those babies…