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Birth Story: An unplanned homebirth for baby Daisy

Kate has kindly shared her story with us and unlike many of the birth stories we receive Kate didn’t take one of our classes. She did however listen to the audio book of ‘Mindful Hypnobirthing’.

Here is her story….

Photograph courtesy of Rachel Jane Photography

“My hypnobirthing story! I’m not sure if I’d recommend hypnobirthing or not 😂 mainly because I was so calm I had an unplanned home birth!

I was monitored more in my second pregnancy due to high blood pressure during my 1st labour where I was given lots of medication, had a very stressful labour and suffered with PND for months after. I knew my raised blood pressure was white coat syndrome and panic not pre-eclampsia but doctors would not agree.

I decided to use Sophie’s hypnobirthing audio book so I could listen to it before and during hospital appointments and labour, it worked so well got signed off to give birth in the birthing centre and was delighted as I could try a water birth and less intervention.

My baby had still not arrived at 41weeks and a induction date was looming, I kept calm listening to the book and making a visualisation board and phrases, I was so calm I agreed to my husband having a work night out an hour away!

I went to my mums house so I wasn’t alone just incase and my 3yr old could stay the night. I started getting a little uncomfortable about 7pm and had a bath, sat on my birth in ball and listened to the book, by 9pm I was calm and talking to my parents but asked my husband to come home and get me on the way. We arrived home at 11pm and I had a shower, contractions started and we decided to time them! 5mins apart 1min long. So we called the birthing centre who suggested having a bath as my waters hadn’t broken.

In the bath my contractions became intense and continuous so I got out and dressed to go in. By the time I got downstairs I needed to push! Yes really 😂 called my husband down as he was getting the hospital bags. Laid on the sofa we could feel her head and sac still intact so he called an ambulance which arrived 7 minutes later and my 6lb 12oz baby girl was born in her waters 6mins after they arrived!

I felt calm, in control and concentrated on my breathing and visualisations so managed without any pain relief in a rather quick and unplanned home birth 😍. Baby Daisy is now 5 months old and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it this time. Even now when I hear Sophie’s voice I feel a sense of calm 😍

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Maria, Mike and Livvi’s Home Hypnobirth

To end the week of birth stories, here is Maria and Mike’s birth story;  one of my favourites. A home hypnobirth. They had attended our class and been really quiet during it, obviously listening! After the class I got a glowing thank you and the news that they had decided to have a homebirth. They hadn’t really thought about it as an option before but were now convinced this was right for them. In the classes I take care never to ‘sell’ homebirth, but I do a lot of interactive exercises to increase understanding of the role of oxytocin and environment. About 20% of mums birth at home and 80% at hospital .  I heard nothing more from Maria, and always always wondered how she had got on. The one day 2 years later, she replied to a newsletter I’d sent saying her daughter still benefits from the CD and told me her wonderful story. So here it is. 

Maria, Mike and Livvi’s Home Hypnobirth

livvyriley
Livvi’s Mindful Mamma Home Hypnobirth

By Thursday 7th May I was nearly a week overdue and was starting to panic about not being able to have the homebirth I desperately wanted and thoughts of induction and hospital had started to enter my head.  I felt really upset that I had done everything right, keeping active, walking with the dog every day and still nothing was happening.

Mike was supposed to have been going on a stag weekend on the Friday morning (planned before I was pregnant) and I was so convinced all throughout my pregnancy that my baby was going to come early that we had talked about him going for just a night if I was coping ok with a newborn.  I was so determined I could cope with labour and sure that it would be a really long process that we talked a lot that week and decided that we would see how I was on Friday afternoon and then think about him going just for a night since if labour did start he could be back within a couple of hours and I would probably be in labour for a couple of days with my first baby.

I woke at 7.30am on Friday morning with regular but not painful contractions and knew that something was starting.  I told Mike about the contractions but said I wasn’t sure if it was just another false alarm.  The problem was everyone had always told me you will feel it in your back and I didn’t my contractions were all at the front in my pelvis. We took the dog a long walk and then at 10am Mike went to the pub to meet the lads before they left for the stag party.  He would then make a decision late afternoon whether to join them or not.

By the time Mike left I knew this was it but thought I had a long way to go and I would probably have my baby by Sunday. So I set about some tasks, cleaning the house from top to bottom, taking the Tesco delivery and stocking the cupboards, having a bath and the most ridiculous task – doing my hair and putting on make up! All the time the contractions were getting stronger and I was starting to have to stop what I was doing and focus to get through them. By 1pm I had to stop all tasks and focus on the contractions which seemed to be so close together there was no break.

Mike was still working on his laptop downstairs and I had kept saying I needed him to finish now but by 1.30pm when he still wasn’t done I went downstairs and virtually screamed at him that I needed him to stop and help me now.  I think that was probably the first time Mike thought it was really happening because I had been so focused and my usual self.

This phase was the only bit I really lost some of the control because I felt the contractions were so intense and I allowed some doubt to enter my head as to whether I could do this.  I think this was worsened by the fact that I always thought I would be able to find a comfy position to labour in and stick with it but nothing was comfortable because my pain was so focused on my front.  I had to be upright all the time and ended up moving around loads trying different positions which I feel affected my ability to concentrate and focus.

Mike took control and put some chill out music on and helped me to visualise the Ibiza sunset I has used on the course to calm me through each contraction. He then called the hospital and the midwife and her trainee arrived at home just before 3.00pm.  I had always said throughout my pregnancy that I didn’t want to be examined in labour but I asked the midwife to examine me as I needed to know where I was.  That was the turning point for me getting the control back over my labour as I had feared that given how intense this was so quickly I was not even 1cm and was unsure I could cope.

But she said I was over 5cm and instantly I thought I can bloody do this then! It was like a whole wave of determination came over me.  I got in the bath which eased things for me and the midwives called for the gas and air which in the end arrived too late to be of use.  The hour or so in the bath seemed to pass so quickly but I was in control all of the time.  It must have been funny to look at thought because I was bolt upright like on a high backed chair even though there was nothing behind me because it was so uncomfortable to lie backwards.  When I said that I wanted to push at about 5.30pm the midwife was uncertain and wanted to check but confirmed that I was ready and I was pushing by the time they called for a second midwife needed to deliver the baby.

I remember thinking of the course at that moment and being told to trust your body I had gone 5cm in just over 2 hours which the textbook says couldn’t happen!  I always thought that I would want to push by being upright kneeling forward but that just didn’t work for me.  I kept asking the midwives what to do and for advice but all the time felt totally in control like I was in charge and not them.  My second midwife suggested I tried to push on the toilet which helped just because I felt how to push and let myself do it properly realising that I wasn’t going to poo!  I wasn’t comfortable on the toilet though so after a couple of pushes I tried lying down and pulling my own knees which worked for me.  Once I started pushing I felt so in control because I could feel what was happening with every contraction.  I was really determined that I wasn’t going to waste effort or a contraction and found the physical feeling of having something to push against much easier than just sitting through a contraction. Again the whole thing went so quickly and in no time they said they could see her head.  I was always really scared of this point given what I had read about this being the most painful bit but it wasn’t.  I focused on what the midwives were telling me and gave small pushes and took breaths as they were telling me so as to not tear. When her head came out they told me to rest but I said no I need to keep pushing and ended up pushing her out in one contraction.

My beautiful baby girl was placed on my stomach at 6.38pm on Friday 8th May.  I was just in total awe of her and speechless. I always thought I would be in floods of tears and had cried at every birth I had seen but I just lay looking at her while she grasped my hand.  Mike said later that he thought I had rejected her because I was so unemotional but I think I was just so focused on controlling the situation that it took me a while to come around.  In my head it wasn’t over until the midwives had gone and we were alone with our baby.  It must have looked so odd but I sent Mike to call people and give the dog a quick walk while the midwife gave me a couple of stitches.  By the time he returned I was tucked up in bed breastfeeding and they were getting ready to leave.  By 8pm we were alone at home in our own bed just staring at our beautiful baby girl and that’s when the emotion came for me. I didn’t have to be in control any more, it was all done, the birth had been even better than I had ever imagined and we had made the most beautiful baby in the world.

Having the birth I wanted is the thing I am most proud of in my life and thinking about it now makes me feel stronger and more confident as a person.  I wish I could bottle the feeling!

Whilst I know I achieved the birth I wanted all with did it myself, I know that I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the Mindful Mamma course.  I used to think it was because of what the course had given me but it was actually what the course had brought out that was already inside me.  The course enabled me to release the huge fear I had of childbirth and take control of my own birth experience knowing that I had the inner strength to do it and the confidence to trust in my own body. I didn’t remember the preparation I had done, the music playing or the sunset visualisation being such a huge help to me at the time but some weeks later I played the CD again and remembered so much more about the birth again.  I hadn’t consciously remembered the song Livvi was born to but as soon as it came on burst into tears.

Mike unfortunately never got to go on his stag do but he does have the T-shirt and a beautiful baby girl instead!

Four months after she was born we took Livvi to see her very first Ibiza sunset for herself and I hope that one day it will become her special place too.

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Giving birth, lower risk? Have a home birth!

Have a home birth!      

by Sophie Fletcher               

home birthI’ve been teaching classes for over 5 years and understand the theory around the home environment and a home birth.  Especially a mum’s sense of well-being and that connection with her birthing body.

But apart from my birth I had never seen it play out until I became a doula where I really began to observe the difference between a home birth and a hospital birth. In my class I always support mums to birth where they wish, making a home birth or a hospital birth as familiar and comfortable as possible at an unconscious and conscious level.  I’ve never been openly pro home  birth or pro hospital birth, because I think that the parents should make an informed choice based on what is right and wrong for them.  In fact, even I thought a home birth was a bit ‘out there’ before I trained in hypnosis for birth and discovered this whole new/old world of birth.

Now after hearing so many stories recently of women having a normal labour only to be told “his head just wouldn’t come down” or “I was so exhausted, I hadn’t eaten in hours, they said I was too tired”, “they said it was too long even though I was fine and he was fine” “my contractions slowed down so they put me on a drip” “come into the hospital so we can check that your waters have broken, then they induced me”.

The amount of women I have heard say they went into hospital, had a perfectly fine labour and are told at the last minute they can’t do it ending up with a forceps or ventouse seems to be escalating. In the US sections have risen from 5% to an average of nearly 40% in 30 years. What is this about?  Maternal death according to Ina May Gaskin is increasing after unnecessary interventions.  Assisted births average at around 12% in the UK, increasing to 21% for first time mums.  What is going on?  Are the Doctors saying that 20% of us can’t birth our babies without help? Of course we can.  But we need time, patience, self-belief and inner strength. Not doubt and fear.

These women are fine, their babies are fine, why are the doctors intervening and traumatizing these women unnecessarily?  The women that I hear from, are women who have read the books and done the classes about normal birth.  They’ve learned that if everything is fine and baby is fine, do nothing. These women are excited, prepared, ready and confident in their ability to birth.   Yet they are being filled with fear and the message they can’t do it, quite literally at the final push. I’m sure that if they had had a home birth things might have been very different.  Call be cynical, but it feels as if they have a better chance or a normal birth at a home birth.

During my last birth, there was an exchange between the consultant and a midwife in another room, she had the door slightly ajar, not letting the consultant in, and she said to him “leave her alone, the CTG was normal, she doesn’t consent” “the consultant trying to force the door, said “I just want to make them aware of what I think”. This midwife shut the door in his face. Another midwife may have let him in; he may have scared the mum who may have consented to unnecessary interventions.   As it was I heard the lusty cries of a healthy newborn a couple of hours later.

I always knew that a father or birthing partner’s role was hard, just how hard it’s become I didn’t realize. Any deviation from what the hospital consider the norm (hospital policies do vary, which tells you something in itself) and the pressure becomes intense, often it seems these parents are told things that are just not true, information is withheld on risks of interventions, or risks associated with a parents choice to do nothing exaggerated, based on the clinicians own distorted view of birth.

These women are not given the time they need, many doctors do not seem to trust that women can birth normally (one consultant said to me, “first time mums find it very difficult, they very often have to have help, birth isn’t a normal event”).  This approach tends to reverse at a home birth in the care of midwives who are experienced in normal birth.

If a woman is exhausted, honey in hot water can help her at the last moment, not telling her she’s too tired to do it while preparing the forceps or ventouse.   If she’s told she’s got ketones in her urine and she hasn’t got the energy, read Odent’s work that says high levels of ketones are normal in birth and show that women during labour do have higher ketones as their smooth muscles in their uterus are working rather than skeletal muscles and that these muscles can more easily process fatty acids as fuel.

Of course I’m not going to advise you, you can make your own choices about wether a home birth is right for you. But if I were birthing again this is how I would do it

  1. Have a home birth, I wouldn’t go near the hospital unless I had to.
  2. If my waters broke before labour started I would take my temperature, and monitor baby’s movement  knowing labour would almost certainly start within 48 hours.
  3. I’d eat if I were hungry or before active labour started.
  4. I would do anything to avoid a CTG monitor, choosing instead to have regular listening in with a Doppler.
  5. I wouldn’t have any vaginal examinations, certainly if I sensed I were further along, I wouldn’t want to be on a timer for second stage.
  6. I would choose the position I wanted to be in at any point.
  7. If I were told that they were concerned about something, I would ask “is this something you are concerned might happen or is happening”. Lots of intervention is prophylactic (preventative) based on a midwife or doctors own interpretation of what could happen.
  8. I would allow time.

But this is hard to do when you are told that your baby is at risk because you have been in second stage too long, or the baby’s heart is showing some decelerations,  (some decelerations are normal, other’s aren’t – do you know the difference?), you may be at risk of infection, or your labour has slowed down.  I knew of a mum recently who was scanned at 42 weeks and told she was having a huge baby (over 11lbs), they wanted to give her a caesarean and gave her a detailed and traumatising description of a shoulder dystocia reducing her to tears – this mum went on to have a very fast normal labour with no intervention at all and a 9.10lb baby 1 day later.

So what to do? Err on the side of normality.  Read ‘Birth Matters’ by Ina May Gaskin,  “Heart in the Womb” by Amali Lokugamage, “Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering” by Sarah J Buckley, particularly be aware in Ina May’s book of the birth stories – women that are tired that have been having a long labour, but are supported by strong women to find those reserves within them, without a doctor twitching in the room.  Perhaps even consider a home birth as an option and ask your community midwife about home birth.

Having a home birth in the hands of experienced midwives, preferably a few independents that I know and love would be my choice, with no doubt and no fear, but lots of laughter, strength and self-belief.

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I’ve done mindful hypnobirthing. Will I know I’m in Labour?

I've done hypnobirthing, will I know I'm in labour?
Hypnobirthing can deceive midwives into thinking you’re not in labour.

When teaching classes using hypnobirthing techniques, I often come across people who are sometimes worried about not knowing they are in labour and not getting to the hospital in time. Many women who do the Mindful Mamma  hypnobirthing class just don’t experience the type of pain or drama that you associate with labour you see on TV.

I always reassure clients that they will know when they are in labour, and baby is on their way, to trust in their instinct even if they are only experiencing a pressure or tightenings.  Usually this is why hypnobirthing babies are so quick to come, because mums can experience tightening or pressure, or nothing at all, in early labour, becoming more aware of labour nearing completion as the tightening or pressure becomes more intense.

A colleague of mine who had done hypnobirthing once talked about a client who took herself into hospital saying she needed an enema, she was found to be 10 cms dilated. Another client of mine just felt a little out of sorts and for some reason wanted to call her midwife, who told her she was 6 cm dilated and in established labour. These women just ‘knew’, without even consciously realising.  My personal experience was being put on a monitor to measure my contractions, which confused the midwives even more because the reading didn’t match my responses. The machine must have been broken! I think it even got a kick from one midwife.

How others around you witness a hypnobirthing labour progress.

While mums may know they are in labour others around them may not.   It’s often I hear mums say that the midwife thought they were a long way off only for dad to spot the head emerging.   I often hear of  midwives telling the mums to stay on the phone while they have a contraction to assess how much pain they are in, but usually if you tell them you’ve done hypnobirthing she says “come in quick!”, because  a midwife familiar with it will know that presentation can be different. In the 6 years I’ve been teaching, as far as I know, I have never had a mum turned away from a unit told she was not in labour, but last week this happened, twice to the same mum, and her little girl was born into her dads arms on the floor of their hall.   Her body took over and she didn’t even know that she was in the ‘pushing stage’ until baby’s head was emerging. Luckily all was well, they have a beautiful little girl, and an incredibly proud dad who has an amazing story to tell his daughter.

This mum knew she was in labour, which is why she went to the unit.  She should never have been sent home.  But what do you do if you are worried about the midwives not believing you are in labour or not getting to the hospital in time if you are planning a hospital birth and have done hypnobirthing?

  • Trust in your instinct, if they are turning you away based on observing you through your surges/pressure/tightenings, tell them you have done hypnobirthing, or are using hypnosis for birth and have learned specific techniques to help with labour.   If you are worried ask your practitioner for a small factsheet or letter to give to the midwife on how hypnobirthing mums may present differently.  You have the option to request a vaginal examination at that point if your instinct is that you are baby will be here soon but they want to send you home.
  • If you are sent home you have the choice to call your community midwife.  I have known mums to go home and call the midwife in the community saying that they are comfortable, they don’t want to move again and aren’t going to go back into the hospital, very often mum will feel instinctively that she hasn’t got time to go back into hospital.  This is known as an unplanned home birth and legally they have to attend you and come to your home. “

Hi, I had an unplanned homebirth! I went to the hospital, but they sent me home without examining me! When I got home I knew that I was close to having the baby so I rang the community midwife team based at our local childrens centre. They sent a midwife out to me straight away, and when she found that I was fully dilated she called them back to ask for another midwife. As you can image this wasn’t planned for and nothing was prepared for a home birth delivery! All went well. Midwives were fab and stayed for about an hour afterwards to make sure I was ok. All in all a positive experience! 

  •  Have a planned homebirth.  Home birth is very safe for low risk mums and is particularly compatible with hypnobirthing. The midwife is much more able to watch your progress by observation over a longer period of time and you don’t have the worry of travelling backwards and forwards between home and hospital.
  • When practicing your hypnobirthing, breathing or relaxation imagine a period of time that you want to know you’re in labour. It may be 3 hours before baby is born, or 4 or 6.  Perhaps write yourself an affirmation “My body will let me know that my baby is on their way 3 hours before they are born”.
  • Think about hiring a Doula. A doula will be with you at home, or when you leave for hospital. They will know you’ve done hypnobirthing and will act as your advocate either getting you to hospital or calling the midwife to your home at the right time.
  • Rest assured that this is a very unusual thing to happen, tune into your instinct, your body and your baby. Trust that you know what is happening more than anyone else around you and that this just goes to show how powerful the mind can be. At the end of the day these stories are a wonderful endorsement that hypnobirthing works.
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Why the Amish Birth So Well.

I’ve been really interested in how Amish women birth recently as they nearly all birth at home, unless there is a medical risk. This is partly cultural but also because of expense of going into hospital or antenatal care, many Amish don’t have insurance.  Interestingly, research shows that despite a higher prevalence of several risk factors for perinatal and infant death among the Amish, neonatal and infant death rates for Geauga Settlement Amish in Ohio have been very similar to the corresponding rates of white children in Ohio State.

Amish women do not tell people apart from their midwife or husband that they are pregnant, it’s said that when they go “they go quick”, probably because they are not tied to due dates. Neither do they have pain relief during labour. They don’t believe in birth control so they often have huge families, sometimes around 10 -12 children. As a result pregnancy and childbirth is a normal part of everyday life, someone is pregnant or in labour all the time and they don’t fear it. Children see this natural process and, as they grow up, girls are not exposed to the international culture of fear and uncertainty around childbirth. Amish children don’t grow up  fearing that there is something wrong with their bodies or that they are incapable of a normal birth.

Amish women birth quietly, often just with their husband a birthing mother, and older woman from the community, who often plays a similar role to a Doula. When in labour, very often they continue doing their daily chores around the home until they are unable to any longer. They certainly aren’t preoccupied with imminent birth or early labour itself!   Research also shows a link between their psychosocial state, which is typically secure and unstressed, and positive birth outcomes.

Ina May Gaskin works closely with the Amish communities, which are close to her birthing centre, in fact it was from the Amish that she first learned breech birth was possible. Nowadays we know that the Amish have a c-section rate of around 2% similar to the Farm, Ina May Gaskins Community.

What is also interesting is the absence of autism in Amish communities. Amish women are very rarely induced as they don’t have ‘due dates”. Recent research shows that some forms of autism are associated with oxytocin deficiency, and questions are currently being raised about the links to this and the use of artificial oxytocin, syntocinon (Pitocin) or other drugs routinely used in labour. There have been very few studies done, but there are calls to investigate this link further. This article explores that link further.

Here is an extract dictated by a midwife with experience of working in Amish Communities.

Taken from http://www.citypages.com/1999-05-01/feature/the-culture-of-childbirth/

Sarah* is a direct-entry midwife in New York state. She practices in rural dairy country near the Canadian border among the many Amish and Mennonite families living there. Currently, Sarah attends more than three-fourths of the births that take place within these close-knit, insular groups of highly-religious families. In Sarah’s own words, here is what is like to attend an Amish or Mennonite childbirth at the beginning of the new millenium:

“The women I work with give birth at home, almost exclusively. This is a matter of finances, for these folks mostly milk cows, which isn’t a big money maker if you have a small herd and milk without machines, as they do. They do not carry health insurance because of their religious beliefs. Additionally, they feel very suspicious of the medical establishment not honoring their beliefs and treating them with respect. They prefer to remain at home, where they have control over such things as allowing nature to take its course rather than, for instance, trying to save a very premature baby.

When the time comes time for an Amish woman to give birth, there is always an older woman from the church community with [the birthing mother]. The mothers have their husbands present as well, but the whole thing is a big secret to their other kids. The Mennonites usually do tell their other kids. Many of the Mennonites prefer to birth with only their husband present. When a young woman in either of these communities gives birth for the first time, she has never really heard much about what the birth experience is going to be like. I usually tell first-time mothers what to expect and that’s all the education they get, except for what their mothers tell them. The pregnancy is absolutely hidden until the baby is born.

I have never seen one of these women ask for medication for the pain of childbirth. I don’t know why they don’t use pain relief. The one time I asked, the woman acted as if she had never heard of the idea. They just don’t seem to have terrible pain.

These women have between ten and twenty children each. They give birth well into their forties. The Amish seem to have as many babies as a human can, spaced according to how long they can go without having another child, usually one per year or year and a half. I have personally delivered the sixteenth baby of a forty-six-year-old. The Mennonites–some of them–use birth control.

The women almost always give birth in a semi-sitting position.They wait until the baby is about to crown to even lie down. They stay clothed the entire time, but the women have special dresses that they wear at birth where the belly can be exposed so that the baby can be immediately placed on the mother’s belly after birth.

The Amish women in the community who attend births are called “catchers,” but since Amish religion prevents anyone from getting an education past the eighth grade, the catchers are not formally educated, carry no equipment or drugs, and generally do not know how to treat most serious complications, although they are very well-versed in herbal medicines and I have learned a lot from them. Their main role when I am there is taking the baby immediately after birth and wiping it from head to toe with baby oil, binding its belly, and dressing it in a special dress and bonnet. The young brides seem to take great pleasure in sewing the dark blue baby dresses and caps and quilting a baby blanket. They like to get the baby dressed as soon as possible, with his belly bound and feet wrapped, and covered with many blankets.

One thing the Amish believe is that there is no breastmilk at first, and some don’t feed the baby until the next day. Some give the baby things like jello water or watermelon seed tea, which is supposed to be good for preventing jaundice.

For postpartum women, they use sheperd’s purse tea for bleeding. For a month after birth, the new mother has a ‘hired girl’: an Amish neighbor who, for $15 per week, lives there and does all the household chores including cooking, child care, canning, and quilting. Occasionally another one will stop by to help with laundry.