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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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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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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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