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What do I need to have ready for baby?

Much like the Hospital Bag scenario, it's really difficult to know exactly what you really need to have ready for baby's arrival, and what's surplus to requirements! There are so many things that you will be told that you absolutely MUST have for baby, the latest gadgets and gismos to make life easier. 

Everyone is different and chooses to live their lives differently, and that's what makes life interesting, but I personally believe that the majority of those gadgets and gismos for baby actually just make life more complicated and cluttered. 

Calm Births Hypnobirthing

So what do you actually need? Well a baby needs to be warm, fed, changed, loved and to sleep. Those are the things it actually needs. So with that in mind:

Clothes - well, yes. You'll need lots of vests, babygrows and hats. Depending on the time of year, they might also need a snowsuit to snuggle in for being outside (but this should be removed when they're in their car seat - see some guidelines on that here). It's always difficult to know if baby is warm enough, the best way to tell is to feel their chest or their back, it should just feel the same warmth as you. 

Food - if you're planning to breastfeed you've already got everything you need. If you're going to formula feed then you'll need formula, bottles, teats and a way to sterilise. You can get sucked into gadgetry here but you really don't need to. The easiest way to keep bottles sterile is to buy the traditional sterilising tablets and have a bowl in the kitchen with it in (replaced every 24 hours), and put bottles into it after you've washed them after each use. Then you've always got a sterile bottle ready to go, at the right temperature. If you buy a microwave steriliser, they are great but if you need a bottle NOW (which can happen!!) then it will be too hot straight after use and you'll have to wait for it to cool down. Ever tried explaining to a hungry baby that it needs to wait patiently???!!!!  And I will sound like my Mother now, but room temperature is right for baby as that is how your milk comes if you were breastfeeding. If you ever offer baby warmed milk you're really setting yourself up for trouble - be warned!!!! 

Also in the food category I would say Muslins - you cannot have enough muslins, you'll need one in every room and one in your changing bag. Baby's throw up, often on you when you're out! They also dribble whilst feeding or just after, having a mussy tucked under their chin or to hand to mop up is great. Buy lots of these!!!

Changing - The bag. God people spend £££££'s on changing bags! I've always found that a nice big handbag with lots of pockets is fine, it doesn't have to be an official 'changing bag' to serve it's purpose! 

You'll obviously need nappies (buy shares in these!), some people prefer cloth and some prefer disposable - it's your choice. Warm water and cotton wool is the gentlest way to clean baby's bottom, but this isn't practical when you're out so you will need wipes if you ever want to leave the house. I do strongly suggest buying a tub of vaseline, if you apply this generously to baby's bottom and bits after each nappy change, you will avoid nappy rash - it also means that poo doesn't stick to their skin and comes off easily. You're welcome. 

Sleeping - Again this comes down to choice, but baby is safe to co-sleep with you under usual circumstances, and you cannot spoil a newborn baby. Just because they co-sleep with you for the first couple of months of their lives (or longer), doesn't mean that they'll be 12 and sleeping in your bed. However it is important to be armed with the facts on co-sleeping, and you can find those with the Lullaby Trust. There are lots of options to have baby in your room and very close to you if you prefer not to co-sleep, such as a Moses basket next to your bed.

Calm Births Hypnobirthing Berkshire

Baby will need other things as time goes on, but you will discover what you would like to have for him or her as you go along. You'll want a play mat or something that you can lay baby down on, but you won't need this immediately. 

The first few weeks baby will just need to be close to you - slings are amazing for this, and most (but not all) babies will be happy to just be in the sling with you whilst you are out and about. There are lots of sling libraries popping up now where you can try different types out to see how you like them before you buy one. 

When out and about you'll also want a car seat and a pram - this is pretty overwhelming for most of us, just have a play with things until you find the one that works for you. But please don't fall into the trap of carrying baby around everywhere in the car seat, it's not good for them and it's not good for your back! 

And finally: Love. And I'm pretty sure you've got that covered.

 

 

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How bad IS induction of labour?...

So one question which always lingers in people's minds is how to use HypnoBirthing techniques if they are induced - won't it all go out of the window? Well, the answer is no, it won't. I want to reassure you that the process of induction isn't an evil thing to be dreaded, and you have everything you need to make it a positive experience with HypnoBirthing. You can read about two positive births following Induction here - just look for the stories of baby Flora and also Tabitha.

So induction can be suggested to you for various reasons, sometimes because you are considered to be 'post dates', sometimes due to clinical indications that you or baby would be safer if baby was born sooner than later. This is not a post to merit the pro's and con's of why induction is called for (that's a whole post on it's own!)- but about the process itself. The below outline is on the assumption that you and baby are in no clinical compromise, and it's important to remember that each woman is individual and will therefore be treated accordingly. This is really a guideline for how it works if you are induced for being 'overdue' or there is no clinical urgency to birth your baby. It's really important to know that Midwives are aiming to do everything they can to help your body take over and go into labour with a nudge, they will be encouraging you to do everything possible to help along the way.

Calm Births Hypnobirthing Berkshire

Once you are in your due time (and remember, there is a FIVE week window in which you are considered 'term' - from 37 to 42 weeks) your Midwife might offer you the option of having a Stretch & Sweep (awful name, I know) sometimes referred to as a 'Membrane Sweep'. This is a vaginal examination where the Midwife will locate your cervix and attempt to rotate her finger into the OS - this is hoped to trigger the cervix into releasing prostaglandins, which will encourage your body into labour. This process can be uncomfortable as the cervix can be quite far back, it can cause some uterine tightenings afterwards too. Studies have shown that it can help avoid any further means of induction, and that there is no increased risk of infection to the woman. Personally, I would weigh up how you feel about vaginal examinations - if they feel you with horror and anxiety then it might just be counter productive for you. If you don't really mind and are actually really keen (by 41 weeks for example) to go into labour, then discuss it with your Midwife. This is only offered as an option, it's not something you have to have. Don't forget to eat your dates at this point too - read about that here.

Different NHS trusts have different policies on induction, and so I won't go into specifics of what happens but try to paint a general picture. If it is agreed that induction is the best course of action for you, and you both understand why it is needed and are happy about it, then the ball will start rolling with your admittance to a labour ward. The first thing to happen will be an insertion of a pessary into the vagina which contains prostaglandins, which will help to ripen the cervix. This is a bit like a tampon usually, and is left inside the vagina for 24 hours - you will usually need to stay in the hospital, and the Midwives will encourage you to go for a walk, and to stay active to let gravity help you. This method is often all that is needed to give your body a kick start into going into labour, and then your body takes over and does what it's supposed to do to birth your baby.

If, after 24 hours, surges haven't started or become regular, then you will be examined again to see what is happening. Trusts vary on this, but some will give you a further 12 hours to let nature take over and others will want to intervene straight away. The next stage is usually for the Midwives to attempt to break the membrane seal, or 'break your waters'. This is another vaginal examination but is painless, it's really just popping a balloon with a plastic hook - it doesn't touch your skin or hurt you, it's usually quite a feeling of relief as the fluid releases.

Calm Births Hypnobirthing Berkshire

This is then enough for some people's bodies to take over and go into labour, and varying amounts of time are then allowed for a woman's body to do it's thing. If, after the allotted time, labour still hasn't begun then the Syntocinon drip will be introduced. This is begun on a teensy amount, and gradually and slowly increased if it's needed to in order to encourage your uterus to begin tightening. Now, it is begun slowly, but as your body is being 'put' into labour at that point, you don't have quite the same amount of endorphin build up as if you had begun to labour naturally, and so pain relief is usually offered to you. If you need it, use it - there are no points awarded to someone for needing pain relief and refusing it!! This is the time when you need to remember all of your HypoBirthing techniques to help you to build your own endorphins, plug yourself in to your Relaxation audio, use your visualisations and light touch massage - birth partners need to pull it all out of the bag at this point!  

The key is to remain open minded and positive, just go with the flow at each stage, and embrace each stage as one nearer meeting your baby. Focus on the end goal of holding your baby in your arms, and their gaze meeting yours for the first time. You have all the breathing techniques and relaxation techniques that you need to make this a wonderful, positive birth so enjoy it!! xx 

 

 

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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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