BabyCalm Review

I am very lucky. I get to work with expectant and new parents at a really exciting time in their lives. Whether I am working with expectant parents teaching HypnoBirthing or with new mums running a BabyCalm parenting class, I first see people when they are a little nervous and unsure and then see their confidence grow. I see them learn to trust that their body can birth a baby, that they can help their partner give birth or that they are a great mum just the way they are.

Today I had some lovely feedback from a mum who has just completed  the 4 week BabyCalm Parenting Course:

Wendy, Baby Sophie and Big Brother Jamie’s story:

“Thank you for your time and the opportunity to learn so many useful techniques to help me bond with my daughter. The course was so much more than I expected and I would recommend it to others whether they have their first baby or second (or more). The small group, the amazing venue and your calm approach created an intimate atmosphere and allowed me to express my thoughts and feelings without feeling embarrassed or self-conscious.”

Aren’t I the lucky one working with such lovely people?

BabyCalm comes to Croydon

Good News! BabyCalm comes to Croydon!!

BabyCalm is a unique concept, presented through classes and literature, which aims to empower new parents to raise their baby with confidence. BabyCalm helps new parents understand how to calm their baby’s crying, avoid colic and aid restful sleep. Turning crying babies and stressed parents into calmer babies and happier parents.

There is a vast amount of pregnancy and birth support available in the UK, but a real lack of support available to new parents with very young babies.  Many new parents are left to muddle through the trickiest time in early parenthood alone –  the time when babies cry lots and sleep little, the time of colic and tears (and not just the baby’s!), the time when most new mums are frantically searching prescriptive books written by childless so called ‘experts’ for the answer to their tiring and distressing days and nights.

BabyCalm feels these books and parenting experts disempower new parents who feel they lack the natural empathy and understanding of the author, feeling the need to look to others to advise them on how to care for their own baby, when in fact our best experts are our own instincts! BabyCalm strives to help parents to not only calm and understand their babies, but to help them to trust their instincts and confidently make their own parenting decisions without relying on somebody else’s routines or manuals.

BabyCalm offers 3 different Course formats, all reasonably priced, starting from just £40 for a group workshop:

1)    The Colic and Crying Workshop – an emergency 3hr workshop that can be taken from birth to 12 weeks with the sole aim of helping parents to calm their baby. Offered on a private basis, in your own home.

2)    The Antenatal Workshop – a 3hr workshop, taken during pregnancy to prepare parents to be to welcome their baby in a calm and confident way. Offered on a private or group basis.

3)    The 4 weeks BabyCalm course – An 8hr course (4 x 2hr), just for mums and babies, designed to soothe babies and fill new mums with confidence. Offered on a group basis.

Here is what previous BabyCalm-ers have to say:

“Samuel and I have really enjoyed the BabyCalm classes over the last few weeks and I feel it has made a real difference to us both – we’re much more calm and happier and colic free – thank you!” – Kerry and baby Samuel (12 wks)

“”Thank you so much for your help yesterday, it was absolutely invaluable – I’m pleased to report she stayed calm all afternoon, no more colic! And we got 6 hours straight sleep for the first time ever, I couldn’t believe it!” -Becky and baby Jessica (4 wks

If you would like to know more about BabyCalm or would like to book a course do contact me via:

If you want to get your own group together, e.g. the parents you met through NCT or your NHS birth preparation classes, do get in touch. If you wish to host a course yourself, I offer a discounted rate for the host!

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

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

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®.

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?