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Six things to know when considering a home birth.

 Picture courtesy of homebirthaustralia.org

Picture courtesy of homebirthaustralia.org

In my years as a Midwife, I was very privileged to attend births in the homes of families, and to learn about exactly what happens, how it goes, and what happens in the (rare) event of an emergency. So when it came to be my turn to become a Mumma myself, I was 100% confident in my choice to birth my babies at home, and so I did. Three times. And I have to say that they were the three most wonderful, life altering, amazing experiences of my life. And if I had the choice (and the finances) then I would do it over and over again. THAT is how passionate I am about home birth. Don't get me wrong, I DO wax lyrical about it, but only when asked about it. I would never dare to presume anything about anyone's individual circumstances or situations, and push my ideas on them. That's just not cool, and I do also strongly believe that a woman will birth calmly and gently if she feels safe in her environment. To some that will mean hospital, others a birth centre, and others at home. Each to their own.

However, if home birth is something that you have on your radar and are wondering about, then I have collated a top six of things you need to know in order to feel informed in making a decision:

1) HypnoBirths do not have to be at home. I feel that that is an important point to make, as it is a common misconception. A woman can use her HypnoBirthing skill set no matter what the scenario or environment - that's kind of the point of HypnoBirthing really, that you are given the skills to be able to relax and calmly birth no matter where you are or what's going on around you. 

2) The stats! The idea of home birth without knowing much about it is quite scary. I get it. So let's look at the statistics, which speak for themselves. Statistics from NICE (the guidance of whom Midwives must legally follow) and the 2011 Birthplace study show:

  •  A woman is MORE likely to achieve a normal vaginal delivery at home than in an obstetric unit or birth centre (984 at home vs 927 in an obstetric unit)
  • A woman is a lot LESS likely to have an episiotomy at home than in a birth centre or obstetric led unit (15 at home vs 35 in a birth centre and 56 in an obstetric unit)
  • The incidence of instrumental delivery (forceps or ventouse) is MUCH lower at home too - this is just 9 at home vs 23 at a birth centre and 38 in an obstetric led unit.
  • The incidences of babies born without serious medical problems is exactly the same at home or at hospital (997) - and so, therefore, is the incidence of babies born with problems (3) - which leads me nicely to my next point.. 

3) A Midwife attending a home birth is equally able to deal with an emergency as a midwife in a hospital. Now, as you can see from the stats, an emergency scenario is very rare in a home birth. However, community midwives are trained up like ninja warriors. The merest whiff, suggestion or feeling that something is amiss and those ninja midwives will be stepping up and shipping you out. If something happens quickly and unexpectedly, those ninja community midwives have all the life saving equipment and skills that a midwife in hospital has. Trust me, they KNOW what they're doing - the same thing could happen up a mountain, in a hospital or at your house, they would deal with it in exactly the same professional, safe way. 

4) The house is not left in a mess. This is another understandable worry, but again, those ninja community midwives will clean up everything before they leave. You won't even notice they're doing it, as you will all be snuggled up safely in your own bed basking in the glory of cuddling your newborn baby. The midwives will quietly just clean up and take any rubbish away with them, and birth really isn't that messy - certainly not as it is so often portrayed in rubbish tv dramas. Having said that, it's easy to prepare, you can just buy a cheap 'value' shower curtain to lay on the floor if you have lovely cream carpets, and get out some old towels that you don't mind throwing away afterwards. 

5) Home births are ideal if you have a 'low risk' pregnancy. Now this is true, but if you are not sure if you are low risk, then a quick chat with your community midwife or the lovely people at AIMS will give you more of an idea. There is an increasing trend for women who have had a previous cesarean section to go on to have a vaginal birth (VBAC) at home. This is definitely worth investigating if this is you. It must always also be remembered that it is your birth, and your choice. 

5) You can still birth or just labour in water if you choose to. There are many wonderful local homebirth support groups who lend out birth pools for free, you just have to buy the disposable liner that goes inside it for approximately £15. These pools are like the most luxurious paddling pools in the world, with inflatable bases that make you feel as though you are floating in a cloud. They are just filled with a connection to your taps, easy. 

6) Once you make the decision you can change your mind. This is really important - a good mindset to have for labour and birth is to just go with the flow and see what happens. This includes your choice of place of birth - a good idea is to consider that you will start your labour at home and see how you go, with everything in place to have a home birth should you choose to. Have a hospital bag packed too, and if you decide along the way that you would prefer to be in a birth centre or hospital, then you can do that too, no problem.

So there we have it. It is a big decision, and it is YOUR decision. But there is loads of advice and support out there for women who choose to birth at home, and I defy you to find a woman who has done so who won't wax lyrical about it, just like I do. 

If you are considering home birth and would like to chat about HypnoBirthing in Berkshire then please don't hesitate to contact me. x

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Calm Mummy = Calm Baby

It is often said in HypnoBirthing that a calm Mummy means a calm baby - and this is definitely true. Hypno-babies are always very calm, and that's no coincidence, their Mums have chosen to take time out of their often busy lives to relax and be at one with their growing baby. That baby grows feeling loved, calm and relaxed and in turn comes into the world in a calm way. This, we know.

However, what happens after that? For many, having their first (or subsequent) baby can feel a little overwhelming, and whilst pregnant it is very hard to focus on anything other than the impending birth.

Sadly, we live in a society where we are not coveted by friends, family and neighbours and encouraged to rest with baby for any time. In other cultures, it is the norm to have a dedicated period of laying in with baby (in some places, such as China, this can be for 28 days). In our busy lives this seems silly and impossible, but I truly feel that those early days or the 'babymoon' as it is often called, is so important for Mum and baby's wellbeing. It may not feel practical in your life to stop everything and allow yourself to be waited on whilst bonding with your baby, but if you can find a way to make it work, trust me it's worth it. Your recovery will be quicker both physically and emotionally if you allow yourself to rest, baby will feed better as he or she will have constant access to your milk and so your body will adjust to the demand and produce the perfect amount of milk. Baby will feel more secure and calm, and therefore more likely to grow into a confident, happy child.

There is a known theory that as a race, humans' brains have become so large that our babies are born sooner than perhaps they should be. Therefore the first three months of their lives are actually the '4th trimester', and an extension of their time in the womb. If we can allow babies to enter our world gently and slowly, they will feel more safe, secure and happy.

There are some great, practical things that you can do to try to get some of this precious time are:

  • Plan ahead, freeze some healthy meals for you & your partner ready to eat when baby has arrived
  • Drink water, and some more water.. and a little bit more.
  • Deter any visitors for the first 2 weeks of baby's life
  • Ask any visitors to bring you a meal/ wash up/ hold baby to allow you to shower or nap..
  • Ask for help. It's very difficult for lots of us to ask for help, but please do it. People love to feel that they've helped you and you'll feel better for delegating.
  • Sleep when baby sleeps - this is a well known bit of advice, and it really is important. Babies are often nocturnal creatures when they're born, and so most likely you will be for the first few weeks, so give in to it and sleep whether it's 2pm or 2am. It's all sleep and so important for your mental wellbeing.
  • For those who know me, you will know how much I go on about the importance of pelvic floor exercises. These are even more important in the postnatal period so DO THEM!! If you're not sure how, have a look here:
  • And finally, call me! Because I feel so strongly about the importance of the postnatal period, I always try and visit families who have taken the course once baby has born (and I get to have a cuddle too!), and I now also offer a dedicated postnatal session.

 

 

 

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When a calm birth hits the headlines

I have been really saddened today to see an article in the paper (not one that I am a fan of, admittedly) - with the headline:

'London woman claims her 5 hour labour was PLEASURABLE'

Now, I have several issues with this. Firstly, the use of the word 'claims' - the author is clearly implying that the mere suggestion that a labour can be pleasurable is absolutely preposterous, and is mocking the Mother. This author also emphasizes the point that the Mother didn't use drugs - as if this is something unheard of and ridiculous.

Whilst I'm happy that HypnoBirthing is in the news, and this Mum clearly had a wonderful birth, why one woman's beautiful, enjoyable, calm HypnoBirth should be headline news bewilders and saddens me. This is how birth can and should be for every woman, and a natural, 'normal' birth should exactly that, the norm, not a freak occurrence to be scorned.  I am also saddened that the author of this article is a woman, and although she hasn't written anything outwardly negative, she very clearly has an issue with the fact that a woman has enjoyed and is celebrating her baby's birth. Women should be supporting each other, and celebrating together when a baby is born. Whatever happened to the sisterhood?!

I would be really interested to hear your comments on this, the link to the article is here

 

 

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Celebrity HypnoBirthers

I recently met with a new couple embarking upon their HypnoBirthing journey, and asked what it was that had inspired them to look into it. The Mother replied that she had seen all the positive press around Fearne Cotton's HypnoBirth, and it had made her wonder about it. That got me wondering, just how many celeb's out there are endorsing HypnoBirthing? And the list that I have compiled is pretty long! Have a look: 

Tom and Giovanna Fletcher 

Jessica Alba 

Kate Middleton (so rumour has it!)

Fearne Cotton

TOWIE's Billie Faiers

Miranda Kerr

Stephen & Tabitha King (reportedly)

Cindy Crawford

Jade Jagger

Rikki Lake

I am thrilled that the list is this long, and probably even longer than I have found. As HypnoBirthing practitioners we work hard to spread the word, and any parents who have used these techniques also shout from the rooftops about how amazing it is. But if people like Kate Middleton & Fearne Cotton who are held dear in all girls' hearts in our country are shouting about it, then that word is getting spread even further and wider! 

 

 

 

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Why can't I just teach myself HypnoBirthing at home?

This seems to be a question I am hearing or reading more and more. And it's a fair question, and I respect that it's always good to challenge things - so I thought I would try to answer it as well as I can from my perspective as a HypnoBirthing Practitioner and experienced Midwife.

It is possible in this wonderful age of technology now to buy and listen to the course CD, download lots of birthing affirmations and watch lots of positive HypnoBirths on YouTube. So what else do you need right? Surely if you're doing all of these things then you've got it covered?

Well, yes - there will be some women for whom this is enough. But in all honesty, these women are pretty few and far between (and please comment if you are one such lucky lady!)

So what else are you getting from a course that you can't teach yourself? And why should you shell out all that money?

Well, the first, and to my mind the most important, thing is the support. Firstly the support for you as the woman who will be birthing the baby; it is so important to have the positive reinforcement of why HypnoBirthing works and how. The course practitioners are of varying backgrounds, but most (if not all) have birthed their own babies and many are Midwives or Doulas who have been with many women at the births of their babies. These practitioners are all passionate about one thing: HypnoBirthing. They all exude such confidence and passion on the subject that it is contagious. It is quite frankly impossible to attend the sessions and not to feel empowered, informed and supported in your personal journey. They won't just meet you in class and that be it, most will be available to you by phone or email before, during and after the birth of your baby to offer support and advice. That is something that you just can't get that from a CD or a book!! 

That support is equally important for your birth partner. The course is designed to teach the birth partner to understand exactly how important their role is (and man, is it important!) - and exactly what it is they can do for you during your pregnancy and birth to really help and support you. This cannot be overemphasised - you and your birth partner are a team, and you need to learn and be treated as such.

The practical elements of the course are very difficult to learn by reading or watching clips. I see many questions from women who are self-teaching asking forums if they are doing the breathing correctly, how perineal massage works and so on. In the classes we lead you into many wonderful relaxations to guide you in how it should be, including the fantastic Fear Release script which is very powerful and cannot be self taught. The light touch massage is another very powerful tool for the birth partner to use, we demonstrate this in class so that they really get it (and Mum gets a lovely treat as we practice on her!)

The cost is a common question - and again a fair one. However these classes are not just a few hours in a classroom with some lady talking about breathing. Your teacher will invest in you and your story, in your pregnancy and your birth. She will be there for you, tailor her care to you and become a part of your journey. It isn't really the 'cost' of the course, it's an investment in your life.

So, I hope that I've summed it up ok. I genuinely feel that my couples leave my classes floating on a cloud of relaxation and empowerment, and this gives them the tools to go ahead and have the wonderful HypnoBirth that they are capable of. And I just don't think you can read that in a book..

 

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HypnoBirthing Mum's story

I have stumbled across a really lovely video today, showing a Mum talking about her HypnoBirth and what made her choose it. She explains so beautifully what it's all about and how it worked for her - if you're thinking about taking the course then this is definitely one to watch! See the video here. x

 

 

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Positive Press for HypnoBirthing!

A lovely positive article about HypnoBirthing was written in the Guardian this week. It's fantastic to see the positivity about it in the mainstream media, I feel that it really helps to shed the Hippy Dippy image that HypnoBirthing currently has. 

I'm also pleased that this was a testimonial from a second time Mum, as I feel that HypnoBirthing is a wonderful gift for anyone who has had a bad experience with birth in the past. 

I hope that if more people are reading these articles in respected papers such as the Guardian, they might start to believe in how wonderful it really is and try it for themselves!

See the full article here

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Competition Time!

I am offering a FREE Mongan Method HypnoBirthing course, worth £375! Simply follow me on Twitter here, and tweet 'I want to win with #calmbirths' to be in with your chance to win! The winner will be chosen at random & notified via Twitter.

This offer is valid for Berkshire residents only, and the classes are to be held in the winners home as a set of five 2 1/2 hour classes. The course will include the book 'HypnoBirthing - The Mongan Method', and the accompanying CD to the course 'Rainbow Relaxation'. 

Offer finishes September 1st 2015

Good luck! xx

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A beautiful HypnoBirth™ from New Zealand!

Wow. Just wow.

This, my lovelies, is why HypnoBirthing is so amazing. If you're pregnant and even remotely anxious about birth - perhaps you've heard horror stories, or perhaps you've had a bad experience with your own previous birth - then please, I implore you, grab yourself a (decaff!) cuppa and watch this clip. 

It shows the birth of Oliver, born to Mummy Claire in New Zealand who used no pain relief other than the water and breathes him out calmly, gently and serenely. THIS is what HypnoBirthing is all about, and THIS is why you should do the course. 

If you live in Berkshire or Hampshire then please call or email for more information, I want to help YOU achieve this birth.

So grab some tissues, sit back, relax and enjoy xx

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One Born Every Minute's Natal Hypnotherapy Birth

Now, it must be said that I'm not always the biggest fan of OBEM, and most of my Midwife or Doula friends would say the same. Over the years working as a Midwife I would often meet women coming in to the hospital to have their babies, who were just plain terrified about childbirth and what was happening to them. And it was our jobs as Midwives to reassure them that it's a normal process and try to empower them to have a calm birthing experience.

However since OBEM appeared on our screens it must be said that there were suddenly a lot more of these very frightened women - and something that I heard all too often was that they'd been watching the series avidly whilst pregnant. 

Part of the HypnoBirthing ethos is that a woman should not have to listen to other's (usually grossly exaggerated) birth horror stories, in fact we often give women badges to wear saying 'Positive Birth Stories Only Please! My baby is listening'. A woman should be surrounded by positivity and reassurance that birth is natural, normal and wonderful.

Anyway this post was not intended to rant about the programme, but to commend them for showing the beautiful Natal Hypnobirth of Nadine and her husband - the most supportive birth partner in the world! It proved that HypnoBirthing really is an amazing tool for a woman who has had a less than ideal time with her first baby. It shows how a woman can empower herself to have the calm, gentle and beautiful birth just like Nadine, despite having been terrified to begin with. 

So bravo OBEM, you're finally showing what birth really should and CAN be like!

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Evidence for the benefits of Perineal Massage

As HypnoBirthing becomes more widely practised and recognized as a beneficial aid to pregnancy and labour, so some really great evidence and reviews are being produced. Here are some really interesting results:

Benefits of Perineal Massage - A Cochrane Review

Within the HypnoBirthing Mongan Method course, we teach women and their birth partners (where relevant) how to practice perineal massage, and the amazing benefits this has. A Cochrane Review has been published which has clear results to endorse this. A Cochrane Review is where all relevant, important clinical trial results are collated and reviewed. In this instance, four trials were reviewed to include a total of 2497 women.  The results conclude that there is a definite link to perineal massage in the last weeks of pregnancy and reduction of episiotomy or perineal trauma during birth. This further proves what we are teaching, that such a simple exercise can make such a huge difference to your birth story. 

The review conclusion states:

“Perineal massage during the last month of pregnancy has been suggested as a possible way of enabling the perineal tissue to expand more easily during birth. The review of four trials (2497 women) showed that perineal massage, undertaken by the woman or her partner (for as little as once or twice a week from 35 weeks), reduced the likelihood of perineal trauma (mainly episiotomies) and ongoing perineal pain. The impact was clear for women who had not given birth vaginally before, but was less clear for women who had. Women should be informed about the benefits of digital antenatal perineal massage.”

If you are interested in reading the full facts and figures involved in the review, you can read it here. If you would like to learn more about the HypnoBirthing course and what we teach, contact me at hannah@calmbirths.uk

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HypnoBirthing - dispelling the myths!

On my journey to becoming a HypnoBirthing Practitioner, I have discovered that there are many misconceptions and urban myths around the subject. I thought it might be useful to try and dispel some of these myths! These are what I hear & what I say:

"It all sounds a bit weird and hippy doesn't it?"

I totally get that it might sound like that until you find out about it. But trust me, I am as 'normal' as they come, no floaty skirt, lentil eating hippy here I'm afraid. But over the years I have been so amazed to see women using these techniques that I can't not rave about them. All it is, is empowering you to believe that your body is simply designed to birth, and helping you teach your own mind to relax through the process. I don't think that's so weird?

"Isn't HypnoBirthing just for people who only want a normal vaginal delivery & have no special circumstances?

The answer? No. HypnoBirthing is designed to eliminate any existing fears of labour and birth, and give you the skills to equip you to relax and allow your body to do what it is designed to do. This does not mean that you are not 'allowed' pain relief, nor does it mean that it is not relevant for those with special circumstances who might need surgical assistance. In fact, there are many testimonials available from women who have had birth by caesarean who used HypnoBirthing and found it helped them enormously.

"HypnoBirthing is just for first time parents"

Again, no. HypnoBirthing can actually be very beneficial for those who have had births that left them feeling anxious about being pregnant again. The programme is designed to help you work through any of those fears and anxieties that you might have, and put them aside to embrace this next birth experience with enthusiasm and positivity.

"I'm scared of being hypnotised and having my mind controlled by someone."

Have you ever driven to a destination, and once you've arrived wondered how you got there? Have you ever become so completely immersed in a tv programme or book that you don't hear someone call your name straight away? Believe it or not, that's self-hypnosis. What the HypnoBirthing course teaches you is how to achieve that deeply relaxed state whenever and wherever you choose. HypnoBirthing is actually empowering you to have more control over your body and mind, and therefore in the birth of your baby.

"If it's this good, then why can't I get it for free on the NHS?"

A fair question, and many NHS Trusts are actually sending many of their Midwives on courses to become HypnoBirthing Practitioners as they recognise the value of it for labour and birth. It's worth checking with your local Midwives to see if any of them practice this. 

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