A Labour Induction and hypnobirthing.
I know mums who have had a labour induction because of medical reasons, but I also know mums who have been induced because they’ve gone over their dates and have chosen to have a labour induction rather than be monitored. In another blog I talked about the different options around going overdue and what labour induction really means under these circumstances. But today I’m going to write about mums that have been induced for medical reasons.
Personally I’m not a big fan of labour induction if there is no medical reason for it, but when there is a medical indication then it may be the one of their few options. I speak from experience, I had a labour induction because of medical reasons at 32 weeks, but I still had choices in how I trod that journey and had a successful VBAC. So I know how, even in circumstances you may not have planned for, how being in the right headspace can make a difference.
This week I had the privilege to work as a doula with a couple who too had a labour induction for medical reasons and I saw from the other side how they were able to make choices which had a positive impact. At one point the mother was sitting on the ball bouncing and chatting while the monitor was recording regular contractions when the doctor came in to have a long chat with us as he hadn’t seen a labour induction like this before and wanted to understand more. (scroll down to the end of the blog to see a short video)
As the contractions got stronger, the dad and I helped mum focus using deep hypnosis anchors that had been strengthened in preparation for labour and massage on her lower back. We had her moving, not always on the bed where you often see women who have been induced but on the ball, leaning over the bed. Sometimes she did rest on the bed and we did a deep hypnosis relaxation so she could collect her emotional and physical strength.
The labour was quick, and baby was born without any other intervention and mum without any need for stiches. Afterwards the midwife who did the earlier shift popped into see the mum and sent me this message later “I was over the moon to see she had a beautiful normal birth because I could see how the path may have been leading…with the meconium and decelerations….I went to see Charlotte the next day and she looked utterly radiant sitting and breastfeeding her baby.”
I think I’m guilty of perhaps unwittingly scaring women in the past about having labour induction. It’s true to say that it is often harder as your body is not producing it’s own oxytocin and natural painkillers, but it is still possible to choose to make that journey free of other intervention and to enjoy the experience.
It’s even more important for a mother to understand that if she is having an induction for medical reasons, or even when not, that keeping herself as calm and focused as possible will have a positive impact on the baby. I’ve often heard midwives say that babies with mums who are calmer and more focused, are less likely to become distressed.
These are the keys to making sure that you are well prepared to use hypnosis during birth
Preparing for a labour induction
If you have prepared mentally using hypnosis or hypnobirthing you are conditioning your body to respond positively to cues in your environment such as music, aromatherapy, touch. This can be invaluable when there may be not much time to ‘think’. A good hypnosis for birth course will put these in place and emphasise practice along with a birth preparation mp3.
Get a great midwife. Say you will be using hypnosis on your birth plan, very often if you have this on your plan you will be matched with the best midwife on the unit to support a birth with as little intervention as possible. The assumption is often if a mum has done hypnobirthing that she can’t do it with an induction, this isn’t true, hypnosis can be a brilliant adjunct to a tougher birth.
A strong, calm birth partner can make a huge difference. Think about a doula or someone, perhaps a friend, who doesn’t have to be there the whole time but who can come and step in to give dad a break.
Keep the (natural) oxytocin up and the adrenaline down
With a labour induction or any other sort of intervention the risk is that the adrenaline creeps in. Hypnosis can help you stay calm, visualisations can help increase your natural oxytocin. Remember that the best thing you can do is to stay calm, relax your muscles and breathe deeply. At one birth I was at I remember walking through the hospital to the shop and every single person I walked past turned and gave me a warm smile – oxytocin is amazing stuff.
People assume if you’ve had a labour induction that you’re tied to the bed, the lights have to stay on with the monitor bleeping away. Wrong! With an induction take even more care over your environment, you’ll have plenty of time to move the bed, turn the lights off apart from a small spot light. Turn off the lights on the resus unit (they’ll turn these on well before baby is born if they need to), turn the sound off or down on the monitor and cover the screen up with a t-shirt or something. Believe me, a monitor will have everyone in the room fixated on it rather than watching and tuning into mum, so good to keep it’s presence to a minimum. A baby can also have variable heart rates and be fit and well, if you are untrained every dip may seem a problem and increase fear. Get a ball in the room and make sure the leads are long enough to move off the bed.
Put some aromatherapy oils on and play some music, ideally your hypnosis mp3s.
Take each moment at a time, be mindful of each tightening and how it is working for you. Birth partners should use positive suggestion all the time, especially to counter any negative suggestions from the medical team. Nobody can guess how a mother will dilate, how the baby will respond, what the outcome will be, take it one moment at a time and emphasise the positive.
Keep your strength up
In early labour or while waiting for the induction to be set up, while you can, make sure that you eat. It’s very easy to neglect to eat properly when you are waiting for a labour induction. Hanging around for the cannula to go in, then the drip, then waiting for the drip to begin to work can take a long time and it’s easy to lose track of how long it actually takes and to forget to eat. Keep some healthy snacks, sandwiches, and food nearby and keep hydrated.
Even in second stage, stay relaxed, take deep breaths and tune in to your body.
Several antenatal classes hypnosis and otherwise, talk about learning birth breathing. In Mongan’s HypnoBirthing it’s called a J breath, I’ve also heard it spoken of as a plunger, like a coffee jar, turning the breath inwards and to your bottom. If there has been a labour induction because of medical reasons, the staff may want to get baby out quickly and sadly often seem to instinctively in these circumstances switch to “chin on chest, puuuuuussh” far more than allowing a mother to follow her instincts. This is known as valsalva pushing, you can read more about why this can negatively impact a baby and is now not recommended as good practice by the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology here. If you do gravitate more to pushing hard, remember to take deep breaths in between, and to relax your jaw with each breath.
If you have had syntocinon as part of your labour induction you may be advised to have syntometrine to help with the delivery of the placenta. Depending on the circumstances you can still ask for skin to skin immediately, if baby is alert and breathing, even if there is merconium, baby can be put straight onto your chest.