Katie attended a class in Loughborough with Fernanda Salfity, here she share’s the story of her son’s birth.
“I would really like to share my birth story with other expectant mothers please as I feel that hypnobirthing allowed me to have the birth I never thought would be possible.”
“This time 3 weeks ago I was searching for positive hypnobirthing induction birth stories trying to keep a positive frame of mind about my upcoming labour. I had agreed to be induced at 41+5. I am so pleased to now be able to share my own positive birth story!
In the build up to my induction date I tried to kick start my labour as naturally as possible with the usual attempts of eating spicy food, pineapple, clary Sage oil baths and massage, bouncing on my birthing ball, long walks, hypnotherapy, acupressure points- the list goes on. With no success I tried 2 sweeps over week 41 but again, no success.
I had initially started learning hypnobirthing techniques to reduce my fear and anxiety around birth, due to a spinal condition I had been told I was unable to have an epidural and that c-section may be the best method of delivery for me. My partner and I attended Fernanda’s mindful mama course in Loughborough and immediately felt the benefits of viewing pregnancy and birth in a more positive way. My partner and I both felt that Fernanda had a very calming influence on us and so, following the course I asked Fernanda to be my Doula during labour.
I went into hospital on Saturday night and had the first hormone pessary, I ended up having 2 of these over the next 24 hours because they kept on falling out. My body did respond to the hormones and surges built up and slowed back down repeatedly over 2-3 days. This was not the labour I had envisioned or planned. At one stage while being monitored my baby’s heart rate had increased and the midwives needed to find a clear baseline to establish whether or not he was distressed. Using the Mindful hypnobirthing MP3 I managed to calm the baby’s heart rate back to normal. This for me was clear evidence of how a calm mother can help to create a calm baby.
The hypnobirthing techniques I had learned helped me to stay relaxed and maintain an open mind throughout my birthing journey. Fernanda’s knowledge and experience helped us feel in control; she empowered us to make informed decisions during my time in hospital.
At 4pm on the Monday I was taken to the delivery suite and started on the hormone drip, things got intense pretty quickly. I used pregnancy and birth affirmations through headphones, a cooling eye mask to help block out my surroundings and any distractions. I also used a tens machine and gas and air to help manage the discomfort of surges. I listened to the Contraction Wave MP3 when surges became more intense. At 5.17am baby Neo made his arrival weighing 9lb 12oz, I had a natural delivery and extended skin-to-skin contact before my partner cut the cord and Neo was checked over and weighed. He is now 3 weeks old and people regularly comment on what an alert and chilled out baby he is.
As a family we cannot thank Fernanda enough for all her help and support, we now highly recommend hypnobirthing and having a Doula to anyone we know expecting a baby!”
Encompassing eye-opening, penny-dropping birth education, simple and effective hypnobirthing techniques, local birth-setting and hospital protocol knowledge, and a “how to” navigate your way through it confidently section!
Whether you are first-time parents or not; whether you want a VBAC; whether you are a single-mum, an “old” mum, an IVF mum; whether you want your birth at home or hospital – whatever your circumstances or preferences, you will be pleased you did this workshop.
What better way to start heading towards your empowered birth, and to start growing your “village” with other like-minded people? As the old African proverb says “It takes a village to raise a child.”
The full price of the workshop is £130. The deposit of £30 payable online when you book your space. The balance to be paid at least 7 days before the event.
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.
A membrane sweep is a common form of intervention that is routinely offered in the UK. The NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence) guidelines state that every woman should be offered a membrane sweep at 41 weeks. So it is likely that this will be offered to you around then or an appointment booked in at 40 weeks for your membrane sweep at around 41 weeks.
As far as hypnobirthing is concerned this is an intervention, because the philosophy of hypnobirthing is to do nothing as nature will take its course. But there are some things to consider before making your decision. Understanding the benefits and the risks fully can help you make a choice as to whether you have one at 41 weeks or earlier, to delay it until you are nearer term at 42 weeks or to decline it. Importantly you do have a choice.
Research shows that women often go into labour within 2-3 days of having a membrane sweep, whether they were about to go into labour anyway is a possibility as women who are given a membrane sweep are expected to birth imminently. The intention of a membrane sweep is to stimulate the release of prostaglandins and oxytocin, both of which can trigger uterine contractions and labour. Prostaglandins can be found in semen and oxytocin is a hormone associate with sex as well as labour, which is why sex is recommended to get things moving!
What happens during a membrane sweep?
During a membrane sweep, your midwife will insert a finger into your vagina and feel for your cervix. She’ll then sweep the cervix to separate the membranes from your cervix. It can be very uncomfortable and you may bleed afterwards.
What are the benefits of a membrane sweep?
If you are nearing 42 weeks and under pressure for an induction, or just want to get things moving, a sweep can be a good way of getting things started. It can often prevent the need for other more aggressive pharmacological forms of induction, that are associated with something known as a cascade of intervention.
What are the risks of a membrane sweep?
There is the slight risk that the midwife could accidentally rupture you amniotic sac during a membrane sweep, which then means your labour may be actively managed and if you don’t go into labour after 48 – 72 hours (depending on your hospital policy) you may need to be induced.
There is also the sense of being disheartened if it doesn’t work. There is also some anecdotal evidence that women who have membrane sweeps have slightly more painful labours.
The aim of a membrane sweep is to trigger the release of prostaglandins and oxytocin, which stimulate contractions. Fortunately there are other ways of doing this that are more fun and much more comfortable!
Sex (semen contains prostaglandins and sex triggers the release of oxytocin)
Eating spicy food (releases endorphins and oxytocin)
Light touch massage
Stand in a warm shower and teak your nipples until milk drips
Take yourself out of your normal environment and go for a long walk
Clary sage and lavender baths (consult with a local aromatherapist or research the use of clary sage if this is an option for you)
A membrane sweep may be better closer to 42 weeks than 41 – most women are nearing labour at this point and it is more likely to be effective the closer to going into labour you are.
If you are under pressure for an induction it can be a way of compromising and getting things moving without the pressure of further interventions. Unlike pharmacological methods of intervention, it is unlikely to trigger the cascade of intervention that you so often hear of associated with an oxytocin drip.
However, if you are true to the hypnobirthing philosophy, remember that this is essentially a compromise and if you deeply trust your baby and your body to birth when they are ready then you can decline and choose to do nothing. In this case you will be offered regular monitoring if you go over 42 weeks to check the function of your placenta and levels of amniotic fluid.
Whatever you choose, it’s your choice – make it an informed one.
The due date countdown and friends who can’t help asking is the baby is here yet.
by Sophie Fletcher
“Have you had the baby yet?” is a question that you may here more and more as you approach your due date. As much as they love their friends and family this text or call can be one of the biggest irritants to mums-to-be as when they go past their due date. Ironically, the worst culprits are often other women who, without thinking, feel they are being attentive to their friends and bombard them with texts, saying “just checking that you’re ok”, “oh so you haven’t had the baby yet”. An acute example is my own mother, who phoned the hospital and was buzzed through by reception to the intercom in my room, during labour, at least twice to ask if I’d had my baby!
Most people automatically send a text round when baby is born; I’ve received numerous texts at 2, 3 or 4 am. So the rule of thumb is if you haven’t received a text then baby hasn’t arrived into the world yet and if baby is on their way, and mum knows, she’s unlikely to want to text you back or chat to you.
Friends and family should fight the urge to call the mum when she is reaching her due date, she may be at the receiving end of dozens of texts from well meaning people. At the same time mum-to-be may be under pressure for induction because she’s gone over her due date – the texts or phone calls may become a reminder that she’s over her due date and cause even more stress.
You may think, “I’ll switch my phone off” when I get close to my due date. But the sound of an answer message can just stir up the excitement even more, because if your phone is switched off everyone who calls assumes that you are in labour.
I know and you may know that you are not at term until you reach 42 weeks, and that the majority of women birth their babies before this date, but very often over their 40 week due date. Only around 3-4% of babies come on their due date.
We also know that any stress or apprehension can stop labour from starting, as it releases stress hormones that can slow labour down, so it’s incredibly important that mum doesn’t have these reminders everywhere around her due date, and that she is able to go, stress free, into labour when she and her baby are ready.
Tips to help you minimise this disturbance as you approach your due date:
Don’t tell people your due date. Tell them an approximate time, eg. The end of August, middle of September.
Tell your friends that you will message them straight away when baby is born.
Ask them not to text you, to ask “how you are”, or “if baby has arrived” after your due date but maybe a “I’m nipping to the supermarket, do you want anything” text is fine.
Get some lovely relaxation music to reduce stress after your due date when you may be getting anxious. Try the Mindful Mamma Mp3 on itunes.
Mindful Hypnobirthing is a bestselling book on hypnosis and mindfulness for birth. Written by Sophie Fletcher one of the UK's leading hypnotherapists for pregnancy and birth, it will help you to prepare your mind and your body for a positive experience of birth.
The downloads on this site are written and recorded by Sophie and are designed to be flexible. Whether you are doing hypnobirthing or wanting to try out some relaxation for pregnancy you will find something here for you.
If you have bought the book you can download the mp3s from the publishers website mindful-hypnobirthing.co.uk or by contacting us directly.
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