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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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Ask the Midwife

It is a sad but true fact, that in many NHS Trusts throughout England, maternity services are unable to offer women the continuity of care they need and deserve due to lack of staff and funding. I'm pretty sure I can speak for all Midwives when I say this hurts them as much as it hurts you, as they all know and understand the benefits of continuity of care, but for reasons beyond their control, are unable to offer it. I say this as a former Midwife, who loved nothing more than the picturesque ideal of 'Call the Midwife' where we could build a close relationship with the women in our care, and be with them at the births of their babies understanding their worries, needs and wants.  What happens now, in most areas (although there are a lucky few areas who have amazing community teams who can actually offer the ideal) is that women see a different Midwife at each antenatal appointment, and yet another one (or more) at the birth of their baby. 

Calm Births Hypnobirthing Berkshire

This could very easily turn into an essay on how damaging that is for a Woman's experience of birth, but I am not here to slate our NHS - our Midwives, support staff and Gynae staff do amazing jobs under really shit conditions.

There is a problem for our women though, in that due to that lack of a close relationship or easy access to a Midwife, many women are sitting at home fretting about what they deem to be 'silly' questions about their pregnancies. There are dedicated phone lines in the maternity units, but women often feel daunted by calling them as the lines are busy, or they feel that their question is too small. This can really ruin a woman's experience of pregnancy, particularly for those who are anxious. 

Something I have discovered recently though is the most amazing tool for women designed by Midwife Hannah Harvey. Her very clever app: 'Ask the Midwife' is designed to combat this - it is a tool for women to ask any question they need to about pregnancy to an actual Midwife and get a very quick and evidence based response. I had a chat with Hannah recently and this is what she said:

Can you describe the Ask the Midwife App to me Hannah?

"Ask The Midwife is the UK’s first health advice app designed and run be registered midwives for women and their families. You can download the app, ask any questions you have about pregnancy, birth and beyond and get a fast, professional and friendly response from a registered midwife."

Can you tell us a bit about you and how you came to do this?

"I have been a Midwife for 5 years, and have always had an interest in digital health and how it can benefit women and families. A study showed that 84% of women use the internet for health advice in pregnancy, and most of the time this isn’t from credible sources. I wanted to create a solution that would mean everyone had access to professional advice online, to dissuade people from using Google and parenting forums as a source of information. In my local trust I developed Facebook groups and a Twitter page to improve maternity user experience in our NHS Trust, and won an innovation award for it in 2014. Following on from that, I wanted to be able to offer digital health services to users across the whole of the UK, and hopefully internationally at some point as well. This is how Ask The Midwife was born!"

Why do you think this App is needed right now?

"We live in a time now where everyone has smart phones, and people use social media and digital services like apps and web sites all the time. Digital Health is a brand new phenomenon, but one that is taking off at a drastic rate, because it is fast, easily accessible and credible. We have already been able to offer reassurance and guidance to so many expectant parents, and it is becoming evident how much a service like this is needed, by how quickly the app has taken off and how many people are using it."

Is any question too small or silly?

"No question is too small or silly for us. We actually get lots of questions that I have never been asked as a Midwife in clinical practice, which suggests to me that there are questions that women feel are too silly/small to ask face to face, so it is really great to see them being asked via the app. It means we are providing a service that is really needed, and people are able to get their anxieties and worries out to a professional and have the reassurance they need. If you think your question is silly, it isn’t. We will always be at the other end of the app waiting to answer any questions you have, bog or small."
 

How can people get the App, and what will they pay for it?

"The app is free to download on iOS. We are planning to launch Ask The Midwife on Android and on our website in 2017. Once you have downloaded, you get one free question and then after that you can pay anything from £1.99 for an Ask - up to £24.99 for one months unlimited use."
 

You can find out more at the Ask The Midwife website - and take advantage of the January sale, with unlimited access for £17! 

 

 

 

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A Dad's perspective..

I had the pleasure this year in working with the lovely Sarah & Jon-Paul, in preparing them to meet their baby. They enjoyed a wonderful calm birth for their gorgeous daughter Adaline, and Jon-Paul subsequently wrote me this wonderful letter from a Dad's perspective, this is a must-read for any Dads unsure about taking the course:

Calm Births Hypnobirthing Berkshire

"Hannah asked how we felt following the course and I could not think of anything but the feeling of excitement.

Before the course I had not really thought about the labour and birthing process in enough detail. My responsibility and the actions I would need to take to support Sarah were yet to be processed in my mind. When thinking about the actual experience for Sarah, I had felt apprehensive due to the preconception of the pain she would need to deal with.

Even without the course, I know I would have done more to prepare myself to support Sarah. However, I now ask myself the question - would I really have been able to feel the confidence, excitement and feeling of calm that was achieved following this process?

The resources and knowledge about the birth process that Hannah offers was actually the element I did not expect from the course.

The exciting thing however stretches beyond preparedness. Being prepared practically and logistically is one thing, but what this course does (if you are open to it) is to allow a total change in mindset through mental exercise, education and the calming of the body through breathing.

For me, the mindset change through mental exercise and education about the physical process of birth, allowed us as a couple to forget the negative preconception. Terrible pain is not inevitable, birth is not traumatic. Birth is positive. With this new mindset, birthing is what it is and you are empowered to embrace this.

Breathing is a major element for both Mum and Dad. Breathing helps to focus the new mindset through calming the body and mind. The education element of the course showed us that it also plays a huge role in the birthing process for Mum - and it did.

I summarise this course into 3 elements:

1. Breathing resulting in calm and breathing for labour

2. Mental preparation, education and mindset change

3. Preparedness - mentally and logistically.

All elements are as important as each other and in my opinion is the reason HypnoBirthing works.

It makes one think through the birthing process more fully with a qualified and experienced Midwife. This gives you the important skills, knowledge and attitude to deal with the labour and birth.

I have not mentioned the actual birth story at all. Well, my Wife summarised her experienced best: 

"At the first Midwife follow up, when the Midwife asked how my birth was.. I replied: "lovely".

17 weeks in, Adaline remains calm, happy and delightful. Is this down to the Calm Birth process? I feel it is the way in which she entered the world and the lasting mindset of positivity and calm in which we try our best to bring her up with. Thinking about the future, I can't think of anything but the feeling of excitement."

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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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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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