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What pi**es me off about HypnoBirthing.

Do you know what narks me most about HypnoBirthing? The name 'HypnoBirthing'. It's really crap isn't it. It just immediately conjures images like this: 

Calm Births Hypnobirthing Berkshire

And this:

I definitely do NOT do this!

I definitely do NOT do this!

When in reality, I don't even have a beard. Not a solitary dreadlock on my head, not even a single tie-die skirt in my wardrobe. Would you believe I don't even own a pendulum? Disappointing I know, but that's the stark reality of HypnoBirthing. It's actually really rather 'straight', full of lovely people educating themselves about one of the most transformative events of their lives. 

And as much as I like to think of myself as a hippy at heart, I couldn't actually look more like an average middle aged woman if I tried. My background is based in learning, in evidence, in being a Midwife. Not in singing, chanting and swinging pendulums. 

But the sad fact is that the name 'HypnoBirthing' does still conjure those images for people, and puts them off learning about something that is evidence based, science based and could transform their birth experiences. I still get the raised eyebrows when I tell people what I do, and you can sense the question on the tips of some peoples tongues of 'when are you going to stop doing this crap and get back to being a Midwife, that's a proper job'. 

The simple fact is that HypnoBirthing is a combination of Hypnotherapy and birth education.

No-one thinks that Hypnotherapy is weird anymore, that is a socially accepted form of therapy used widely in the NHS for various things. You will know at least one person that has tried it for giving up smoking or weight loss. So what's so weird about using it for childbirth, one of the biggest events of your life??!! It is my hope that over time,  the stigma of the word 'HypnoBirthing' will be less, and people will imagine less of the hippy chanting birthing in streams type stuff, and more of this:

Two of my lovely Calm Births couples.

Two of my lovely Calm Births couples.

Which is what it actually looks like! 

 More and more families are choosing HypnoBirthing and it is benefitting families worldwide every day, making birth a wonderful process to embrace, not one to fear. It's just a shame the term is a bit crap really isn't it.. x

 

To find out more simply visit: www.calmbirths.uk 

 

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A VBAC? At home? Are you mad?......

Well today has been a lovely day at Calm Births HQ as not just one, but TWO Calm Births HypnoBirthing babies have been born!! I've yet to hear the full birth stories, but I know that all is well. And I know that something totally wonderful has happened for one of my families. 

I met the lovely Sarah and Chris* back in January this year at the beginning of their 5 week course. Little was I to know then what a huge, life changing journey that would be for them, and what a journey of affirmation it would be for me.

Let me explain: Sarah and Chris already had two children, aged 5 and 2. Both babies, for various reasons, had been born by emergency caesarean section. The couple were embarking on a HypnoBirthing journey as they wanted to give themselves the best possible chance of having a very different experience this time around. To such an extent that they were planning to have a home birth this time.

When Sarah initially contacted me and told me where she lived I was a bit unsure about travelling the distance (a 100 mile round trip!), but when she told me of her plans to try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) at home with this baby I couldn't help but be very excited to be part of that journey with them.

Calm Births Hypnobirthing Berkshire

And so we began our 5 weeks of HypnoBirthing sessions. They had already read the book when we met, and I joked with Sarah that she knew so much about VBAC's from her research that she should train to be a Midwife after this baby. (She'd be great!) Over the period of time that we worked together, Sarah and Chris went full circle from being excited, passionate and determined to have the birth they were choosing, to being scared by caregivers into giving up that dream, and all the way back again.

Sadly, on paper it would seem that Sarah was a 'risk' as a VBAC and the fact that she wanted to do it at home clearly put the heeby jeebies into her local caregivers. She was made to feel that she was endangering her baby by choosing this path, and made to feel very sad and disempowered. But the couple found strength, continued to research and understand exactly what it was they wanted to do and what any (teeensy) risks might be. They then re-grouped, and cracked on with making plans for their homebirth.

And. They. Did. It. 

It makes me feel emotional just typing it. I am so utterly thrilled that this couple have taken their birth into their own hands, listened to all the advice, made their own, INFORMED decision and chosen the path that was best for THEM. And it WORKED!!!!! 

The reason I wanted to share this story with you, was because it has just been such a wonderful example of women standing up for themselves and choosing how their birth will be. Sarah and Chris were fully supported by their caregivers in their choice, once they had (very eloquently) explained their reasons and shown that they had fully researched it. 

I am sad that they had to go through this battle to achieve the birth they wanted, but thrilled that they felt empowered enough to stand up for themselves and to know that you ALWAYS have a choice. I just hope that more women begin to feel the strength and confidence that it takes to choose their birth journeys, and not be made to feel that they 'have' to do things a certain way.

The wonderful AIMS was very helpful in the research for this couple, and this article in particular is very good for anyone thinking about VBAC x

 

 

*Not their real names as they choose to remain anonymous

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The Calm Births March Social!

On March 5th 2016 we held a get together for all Calm Births families, past and present. We spent a wonderful afternoon meeting new babies, sharing positive birth stories and eating cake!

New Mums comparing notes! 

New Mums comparing notes! 

It was fantastic to see the families coming together, some who had met during their group courses and others who had taken the private sessions with me. Others were either about to embark on their HypnoBirthing journey with Calm Births, or were mid-way through the course. All had the shared experience of using HypnoBirthing techniques to welcome their new babies into the world. 

New families meeting each other

New families meeting each other

I was thrilled to see the new Mums and Dads happily sharing their wonderful, positive birth stories with families who were waiting for their babies to arrive. New Mums were able to offer support, advice and reassurance to those whose turn it will be next.

It was also lovely to see those families who had shared their HypnoBirthing journeys together on the Calm Births group courses get together again and show off their beautiful new babies, and to take the first steps into new parenthood with the support and friendship of their HypnoBirthing friends.

HypnoBirthing friends meeting again

HypnoBirthing friends meeting again

My dream for Calm Births has been to build a community of supportive Mums and birth partners who can get together and support and advise each other. I believe that the friends we make on such courses, or in the early days of parenthood are so invaluable to us. Those friendships are so beneficial as you go through such a life changing transition together, I am thrilled that my little Calm Births family is beginning to grow in this way. 

Expectant parents together

Expectant parents together

I can't wait for the next Calm Births meet up when we will have lots of new babies who are currently waiting to make their appearances! Thank you to all who came, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did x 

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A beautiful birth story from a Calm Births Family.

Calm Births Hypnobirthing Berkshire

I received this wonderful testimonial birth story today from the lovely Amy and Paul, whom I taught whilst they were pregnant with their first baby. Together they were a superstar HypnoBirthing team, and have a gorgeous calm baby as a result. Yay! 

"Hi Hannah,

Finally I have a moment to put in to words how grateful I am for what you did for my husband and I in preparation of the birth of our first baby.

I was naturally nervous about childbirth having never experienced it and after hearing many horror stories which people seemed all too happy to share with me on finding out I was pregnant! I was given the Marie Mongan hypnobirthing book by a friend, I didn't get very far in to the book before realising it was absolutely  something I wanted to explore as it just made so much sense to me - the concept of childbirth being a natural process and something women are built to do without medical intervention, and that by releasing all fear and remaining calm during the process enables the body to do what it needs to do to deliver the baby naturally and without stress.

I found you via recommendation on the WGG Facebook page, and I am just so delighted that I contacted you! From the moment we engaged over email I knew that I would connect with you as you had such a nice calm and friendly manner. I decided to opt for the private sessions as I felt my husband would be more comfortable in our own home rather than the group environment and it also gave us more flexibility on times/dates than the group sessions did.

The sessions were just fantastic, we both felt very relaxed with you and you made us feel like no questions or concerns we had were silly or insignificant. We really enjoyed learning about the birthing process and practising the breathing and visualisation techniques with you and just getting more prepared to welcome our baby in to the world in the most calm and collected way possible. I also believe that it really helped my husband feel like he had an important role to play and gave him so much confidence knowing more about the birthing process rather than standing by and watching.

The course was clearly worth every penny and every minute we invested in it, as I am so proud to say that our beautiful son Zane David Richards was born naturally, calmly, quickly and without any pain relief!

We were a little shocked that the labour had started when it did as it was almost 3 weeks before my due date, but despite this we remained calm and used the breathing, essential oils and relaxing music to get through the contractions at home before going in to hospital, I even took a shower and washed and dried my hair whilst having contractions! We had called the hospital to let them know my labour had started, and as it was my first baby even though I said I felt the contractions had become strong quite quickly, they were putting us off going in as were expecting it to be a long process .... well it is a good job that my husband made the decision for us to get ourselves to the hospital when he did, because the moment we arrived at the maternity ward reception my waters broke, and Zane was delivered 55 minutes later! We hadn't even got my notes or the hospital bag out of the car, and there was no time to even consider getting in the birthing pool! The midwife even said to me that she wished all women made her job so easy! Also what was amazing is how calm Zane was having entered the big wide world - he hardly made a sound and just happily lay on my chest! So many people comment on what a 'good baby' he is because he seems so relaxed and rarely cries.

We feel so lucky to have worked with you and can't thank you enough as we believe that the sessions we did with you really did contribute to our fantastic birthing experience. We would recommend anybody to you, no matter how sceptical they are about hypnobirthing.

Lots of Love

Amy, Paul and Zane xxx


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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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