By Sophie Fletcher
Induction and hypnobirthing
There is so much fear around hypnobirthing and induction – often I read about those who have done hypnobirthing and are faced with induction for medical reasons. Comments like “Can I do hypnobirthing with an induction?”, “I can’t have my hypnobirth”, “I’m terrified” and “all my practice has gone out of the window” are some of the things I have read over the years. But, you know can still use your hypnobirthing tools, in fact, they may be even more useful in situations like this. Remember hypnobirthing isn’t about having “a hypnobirth” it’s giving you tools to have the best possible experience whichever route your baby’s birth takes.
Today I’m going to write about induction for those of you who may be induced for medical reasons. If you are being induced for simply going over your dates I have another blog on that.
Been there done it, and supported it!
I speak from experience, I prepared using hypnobirthing AND I had an 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. I always consider my birth a hypnobirth not because of how it turned out but how I FELT about it and how well that set me up for the early days of parenting.
During a birth I once supported we had a wonderful midwife who really understood the link between fear and pain. She knew how important it was for mum to be relaxed. She helped us dim the lights, move the bed and the monitor so that it was out of sight (ish) and that mum had a lot of movement around the room She blended some oils, helped us put the hypnosis music on and just set the scene beautifully. 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 an induction like this before and wanted to understand more.
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 stitches. Afterward, the midwife who did the earlier shift popped in to 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 xxx the next day and she looked utterly radiant sitting and breastfeeding her baby.
Hypnobirthing tools are versatile.
Remember! Your hypnobirthing techniques will always come in use. Think about it, if you are frightened about an induction, fight or flight may kick in, your body may tense up and work against the induction (you should have learned all about this if you are doing hypnobirthing). On the other hand, if you are accepting of what is happening, use your techniques and work with the induction it becomes a lot easier.
It’s even more important for you to understand that if you are having an induction for medical reasons, or even when not, that keeping yourself as calm as possible and focused on your breathing, may have a positive impact on baby’s wellbeing. Make really good use of your decision tools, STARR (in Mindful Hpynobirthing) and BRAINS. This will help you navigate your choices. An induction can change, you can ask to be taken off a drip for example if you think that your own natural oxytocin has kickstarted, or you can have a pessary taken out if you think you may be over contracting. It can be good to educate yourself on induction before it begins so you are well prepared.
Preparation for an 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.
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 higher risk birth. I can vouch for that as a hypnotherapist who is also a doula!
A strong, calm birth partner can make a huge difference. Prep your partner. Perhaps 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 your partner a break. Inductions can take a while.
Hypnobirthing Tools for an INduction
Keep the (natural) oxytocin up and the adrenaline down
With an 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.
People assume if you’ve had an induction that you’re tied to the bed, the lights and 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 maybe a small spotlight. 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 on the monitor and turn the screen away from you, so the midwife can see it but you aren’t tempted to keep watching. Believe me, a monitor will have everyone in the room fixated on it rather than watching and tuning into mum, so it’s good to keep it in the background as much as you can. 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. In an induction, I find that having headphones in or over your ears can be more impactful as there may be more environmental disturbance to block out.
Take each moment at a time, be mindful of each contraction and how it is working for you. Birth partners should use positive suggestions all the time, especially to counter any negative suggestions that might you may hear. Nobody can guess how a woman 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. Remember to keep normal routines going as much as you can. Perhaps you are waiting for a pessary or a balloon to its magic, or maybe waiting for the cannula to go in, then the drip, then waiting for the drip to begin. It can take a long time, sometimes days if a unit is busy and you are lower risk – it can be 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.
Use your Tools Wisely
Which techniques are best?
I think distraction techniques can be great, they can be as simple as really focusing on tapping your foot to the count of 5. Your hypnosis dial or switches are brilliant if you have practiced them and long hypnosis tracks to listen to with headphones on are a great way to rest your body and mind in the earlier stages. Sometimes simply focusing on the breath “breathing in 321 and breathing out relax relax relax”, can keep you in the moment, if you feel your mind wander and your focus shifting come back to your breath. A partner encouraging you can really help.
Practice your breathing
Remember to breathe, if induction contractions are stronger really focus on taking deep breaths. If you are getting directed pushing for any reason, make sure that you take deep breaths in-between pushing. This is a great thing for your partner to do, just use suggestions like “take a nice deep breath, keep breathing, deep breaths, that’s right”. Remember to relax your jaw and hands as much as you can during and in-between contractions in second stage.
Skin to Skin
In an induction skin to skin, delayed cord clamping and so on are still applicable. So revaluate as you go, and still refer to your original plan.
Finally! If one part of your plan has changed, not all of it has to. Your hypnobirthing practice should help you stay as close to your values as possible. Keep the questions flowing, use your BRAINS. Relax as much as you can and lean into the experience. You can do it!
Tip: If you are reading Mindful Hypnobirthing pop over to our Facebook group and ask other women about their experience of using hypnobirthing for an induction.