7 tips for a stress free birth and relaxed baby.

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The most frequent thing which people are surprised with at the end of a hypnobirthing course is the amount of evidence based and medical content it includes . Though relaxation is important, the journey of a hypnobirthing couple is much more complex and multifaceted than teaching some basic relaxation skills. So here are some simple but effective tips for you! Enjoy!

1. Environment

Your environment has a profound effect on your birthing hormones and muscles. A place that feels safe, intimate and unobserved are optimum environments for your birthing hormones and muscles. No wonder many of us go into labour in the middle of the night! If you have ever see animals give birth they often naturally find seek out the most darkest and private area of the house. You will find a lot of birthing animals behind the garden shed, or under the bed in the spare room hidden away from others. We, like other mammals are no different. Dimmed lights, a calm and relaxed atmosphere.

 

2.  Logistics

Speaking from someone who could really do with listening to my own advice, planning really is essential. So make sure you’re organised, so that there is no running about, or last minute stressful panicking. Heck, make sure there is plan a, b and c, to ensure that your mind is relaxed and focussed when baby comes. These may be things like planning for eventualities with child care, that you have ALL the cash for a hospital car parks, or bossing the trial run of your blow up pool if you’re having a home birth.

 

3.     Prepare Your Mind and Body:

Birth preparation classes can have a significant impact on the day the baby comes. As popularity increases in hypnobirthing (thank you duchess of cambridge for that one!) so too does research which supports the knowledge of the benefits of self hypnosis in labour. Classes like hypnobirthing have shown to reduce the length of labour and provide comfort and reduction in assisted births and caesareans (I'll stop there, but I could go on!). Trauma in labour can have both short term and long term effects on mum and baby, and therefore taking a birth preparation class like hypnobirthing can not only provide comfort and calm during labour, but profound effects for long term after birth too.

 

4.     Who is with me?

A bit like watching your favourite sporting event, quite often birth partners feel like an unhelpful extension to the main event, watching it from the side lines, and at times coming out of the process feeling equally traumatised. Yet, if used right, they can be profoundly important and the cornerstone to the whole process. Not only can they be protective of the female in labour, they can also support and provide essential elements. I always say to my clients, it takes a joint effort to make a baby, and it takes a village to raise one, then it should take a partnership to birth one too. Ive heard many people through my classes say “I could not have done it without them”. This is a skill that works both through your labour and then onto parenting together.

 

5.     Show me the data!

Knowing your options, and understanding what is going on in your body is essential. There may come times for some of us when we have to navigate a road away from the normal path of labour. Feeling confident to ask questions with your care givers and know the pros and cons if a more medical journey is required can provide empowerment, confidence and calm when labour veers away for normal. Ive heard couples who have navigated this path excellently say time and time again, it was through asking the right questions and making informed choice which enabled them to feel that in the midst of a troubling time it wasn’t done “to” them, but “with” them, which was the difference between a labour journey being relaxed compared to stressed.  

 

6.     And breathe…

It may seem so simple but when you breathe correctly in labour it can provide essential elements to baby and body. Through breathing deep and focussed breaths, oxygen is being inhaled and provides the labouring muscles with fuel to continue, and avoids a build up of lactic acid (ouch!). Long breaths alongside visualisation techniques can help the mind focus, and encourages the body to remain calm and relaxed through each contraction. How crazy is it that our breath can provide so much of what our body needs to birth this baby, and yet, when were panicked, optimal breathing is forgotten and can start of a spiral of events! Remember to breathe properly. Before you began the labour journey, your body had all it needed to grow your baby and it can be the same for many, when they birth their baby.

 

7.     Stay upright and keep moving.

Quite often women choose to do what is expected of them, and therefore lying on their back is what they think is expected. Though lying down is still the most frequent position (around 85% in the USA) a whole body of research have overwhelmingly reported that staying upright and mobile during labour and birth have strong associations with a reduction in second stage, reduction in pain scores, and reduction in assisted deliveries and caesareans. In fact, the Royal College of Midwife is clear about encouraging women to adopt a more upright and mobile position during labour. So get off the bed ladies, and start moving, rocking and dancing to provide some much needed relief and benefit to you and your baby.

Hopefully this has been helpful. Slot some of these in to your box of essential ingredients. All free, and yet all incredibly significant!

Any further questions, dont hesitate to contact us on www.mybirth.co

6 Thoughts on Clary Sage and Inducing Labour

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I’ve heard a lot of discussion about clary sage essential oil and inducing labour, so thought I’d write my current thoughts on the subject!

I want to say that FIRSTLY, babies come when they are ready!

Studies have shown that they come when their lungs are ready. At the point their lungs have matured, they then release a protein which triggers labour.

But for many of us, we will try a manner of things to encourage baby to come, and avoid a more medical induced approach.

So here’s what I know currently about clary sage and labour.....

1. Clary sage is a variety of the sage herb which has oestrogen regulating and stimulating properties. This is because it’s chemical structure is similar to that of oestrogen.

2. It has been long used for women with menstruation pains.

3. It is thought to have a stimulating effect on the uterus, therefore it NOT advised before 37 weeks of pregnancy.

4. You can use it through:

*an essential oil diffuser.
*add it as a base or a massage oil such as coconut, sunflower, or baby oil. *dab it on a tissue and put on the radiator. 
*Use it as a bath tonic by putting a few drops in an egg cup of milk (helps diffuse the drops better, so they don’t just sit in the top of the bath) and add to the bath.

5. Limited studies done but one study has been done by midwives which found that it helped reduced pain and anxiety in labour.

6. It is thought to help boost oxytocin and therefore contractions. And is thought to help speed things up if labour is slowing down.

So there’s my thoughts...

Just remember... baby comes when it’s ready, this is a potential natural encouragement.

6 Things I didn't know about Hypnobirthing...

The worst bit about hypnobirthing is the name. The “hypno” bit immediately conjures up pendulums, trance-like hypnotism and bish bash bosh, were right into the land of scepticism. I find myself almost daily defending why I left my job as a Social Worker to run hypnobirthing courses. The realities are that the name is so confusing that people have already made their mind up even before I try and explain. Whether you’re in the sceptic camp or not, my hope is that you’re more informed at the end of this article, and know that hypnobirthing really can make a huge difference to a baby's birthing journey.

So Im going to try to debunk 6 top myths about hypnobirthing…..

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1. Hypnobirthing is only for Hippies.

Hypnobirthing is most definitely for everyone.

I equate Hypnobirthing to where water birth was 20 years ago, where it was once seen as a little weird/alternative and “hippy” like, it is now a desired option by many for giving birth. Even more so, current research tells us that water births are more likely to reduce infection, the need for assisted delivery, the use of pain medication, and the likelihood of perineal tearing (yep, I said the word!), whilst creating a calming transition for the baby into the world. Hypnobirthing I believe, is on the same journey.

The use of hypnosis during labour is not a new “alternative” thing. In fact, in 1955 the British Medical Journal stated that: 

“It is an effective method of relieving pain in childbirth without altering the normal course of Labour”

Many NHS trusts are now offering Hypnobirthing as part of their antenatal care, as it is logical and has clear physiological benefits. Famous celebrities such as Duchess of Cambridge, Jessica Alba, Angelina Jolie, Fearne Cotton have all publicly praised the use of hypnobirthing techniques during their labours.

Whatever journey you are planning to have, hypnobirthing is designed to give you confidence and calm during your pregnancy and birth, and reduce fear which is so often associated with birth.

2. You are under some sort of hypnotic spell and not in control when you give birth

Arguably, hypnobirthing allows you to be even more in control. Culturally, our understanding of hypnotism stems from staged hypnotism which we see on TV. During a hypnobirthing course, the mother is not hypnotised before the birth, and will not cluck like a chicken when she hears the word “contraction”. In fact, hypnobirthing would be better described as the physiology of birth course (not as catchy name, but less weird reaction!). Every aspect of what is taught is evidenced based, so say goodbye to any pendulums, and put on your scientific hats! 

On a standard hypnobirthing course couples learn about the physiology of birth; such as: differing processes of the uterine muscles, the release of the hormones which both help and hinder the progress of labour. Couples learn how important it is to be relaxed and produce oxytocin (the hormone that drives the contractions) and why adrenaline (the hormone released when anxious and frightened) slows and can even stall birth.  Parents-to-be will be taught the different cross roads that they might come across during their labour journey and be provided with information to support them in making an informed and confident decision which is best for them and their baby.

3. Hypnobirthing is only for natural birth

There is not one way to have a hypnobirth.  Like us as human beings, babies and birth are unpredictable at times. Hypnobirthing therefore cannot always provide women with a natural birth. There is no doubt that the decisions we make before and during our labour can have a significant impact on the outcome of the journey. 

In fact, there is evidence to show that the adoption of hypnobirthing techniques has a connection with reduction in assisted deliveries and caesareans.

However, even if you have not taken a medical management approach to labour, with the best will in the world, there are times when decisions need to be made which adopt an increased medical approach for the sake of the wellbeing of the mother and/or baby.

Whilst hypnobirthing cannot promise a natural birth, it is designed to enable:

  • Comfort
  • Control
  • Choice
  • Calm
  • Confidence

This can be applied in all different settings. I firmly believe that we should be empowered to have an informed choice in all aspects of our lives, and giving birth should be no different. As a result, a hypnobirthing course dedicates a significant amount of time to understanding the journey of a woman's labour, from their first sensation – to the golden hour after birth - and everything in between. Additionally, it covers a variety of natural methods to reduce the sensations of pain, discusses the impact the environment has on the labouring mother, informs about the optimum positions for giving birth and provides techniques in reducing perineal damageFurthermore, hypnobirthing presents evidence around different decisions you may face on your journey through pregnancy and birth. It is vital that this can happen so that mothers and fathers are able to be fully informed, aware and confident as they approach this life changing event.

Birth is NOT a competition.  

Hypnobirthing is there to support a couple's decision whatever choice they make and journey it takes.

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4. Hypnobirthing guarantees a pain free birth

Some hypnobirths are reported to have occurred without pain; some women even claiming to have had an orgasmic birth! But, for the majority of us, this is not the case. The mind and body are strongly connected, we see that especially through the importance placed on sports psychologists and current trend on mindfulness.  By using hypnobirthing methods, women learn techniques to enable their bodies to produce their natural pain relieving hormones through relaxation and visualisation techniques. Yes, you might be looking for a natural, drug free birth, and the course will help you hugely if that's the birth you want, in fact there are connections between hypnobirthing and reduced need for pain relief. But, and it's a big BUT, no matter what journey your labour takes, you will likely to want to meet your baby feeling calm, relaxed and in control. These are all positive tools and techniques found in a hypnobirthing course which have both short and long term impacts for labour, birth and life.

5. Hypnobirthing doesn’t support doctors and midwives

Hypnobirthing is never about a “them and us” mentality between the birthing couple and the medical professionals. We all want the same thing, a healthy and happy mum and baby. Doctors and midwives’ knowledge is phenomenal, and it would be well advised to listen to what they have to say. However, despite this information, many couples remark on feeling out of control during the important process of giving birth. Therefore, during a hypnobirthing course women and more importantly their birth partners, are provided with tools which help them communicate with their care team, which helps to empower, inform, give confidence and release fear around birth and the decisions made around their baby. When their baby is born, they are fully responsible for its life, making all of the decisions which affect its life.  With hypnobirthing, confidence and information begins before birth, ensuring the very best start for mum, dad and baby.

6. Hypnobirthing can only be used in birth

Not at all. While we talk in depth about birth in a variety of ways, it is just one part. The main cornerstone of a hypnobirthing course is to teach Mum and birthing partner ways in which she can remain calm and in control mainly through practising methods such as deep relaxation, understanding the power of the mind, the power of positivity, visualisations, and the connection you can have with your partner during this precious time. These tools teach you techniques to help reduce anxiety and stress through your pregnancy, birth and beyond. Not only does Hypnobirthing have a role to play upon reducing post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms following child birth (Isbir, 2016), but arguably, once the baby is here, all those skills are even more important when getting to know your baby and journeying through parenthood.

Very often birth partners feel like they are unable to help in the course of the birthing journey, and yet in reality, they are profoundly important. Hypnobirthing therefore provides tools for couples to work together during the birth of their baby. Birth partners are provided with helpful tools which can help them be an essential part of the birthing journey, and work together as a team during your labour. As a result, Hypnobirthing can really have a positive impact on the relationship between mum, dad and baby; a role which is conducive to a positive bond with the baby once they are born and beyond!

In essence, the techniques that are learnt are tools used for life.

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I hope that this has been helpful in demolishing some of the myths around this profound, simplistic, and logical approach to giving birth. I started doing hypnobirthing so that others could experience a positive birth, because our experience of birth really matters! If mybirth.co can do anything to help you through your pregnancy journey, don’t hesitate to get in touch through social media or via the website.

The top 5 things every birthing partner needs to do when you’re in labour

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The Secret, yet Essential Element in your labour.

In my experience, there is something that can make a significant difference to your labour, and its right under your nose.…. Your birthing partner. 

Your birthing partner can be the making or breaking of your experience of birth.

Many men struggle when they see the person they love in labour. Their instinct to be able to “fix it” can kick into gear, and yet, they know rationally that they cannot change what is happening i.e. a baby is to be born through this process.

What women need from their birthing partner is completely unique to them, let’s be honest, a labouring woman is very different to the woman before and after giving birth. She occupies a different set of needs, a different way of communicating, and is doing something profoundly important.  

But here are a few ideas that can be good to store in your tool box. So men, this is for you, strap on your labour tool belt and slot these things into their designated areas!

1 Physical Touch: Every labouring woman is different, and what they feel is beneficial in labour can be very individual. It is up to the skills and flexibility of the birth partner to sense what she would like. Depending on what position the baby is in, the sensations they experience when in labour can mean that pressure is exerted in different areas. Helpful tips might be light touch massage, however it also might be a focussed massage on the lower back. Try to ask her, or try things and see if she likes it. Oxytocin, the hormone of love, which is also the hormone that triggers contractions is released when a woman can feel love, therefore, hugs, kisses, other physical touch can be hugely helpful to sustaining a woman’s feelings of love, safety, and ensuring that essential oxytocin is flowing!

2. Words of Encouragement: The voice of your birthing partner is the most unique voice they can have. It is the voice that the woman in labour fell in love with. Do not under-estimate how powerful saying encouraging words can be. To all my clients I always let them know that relaxation scripts done in preparation with their partner can be incredibly empowering, especially as continuity when in labour. The mere words of the person they love, saying something encouraging such as “You’re doing so well” “You’re safe” “I love you and am so proud of you” can be overwhelmingly significant to them and their baby. Do not undermine the power of words over tension, anxiety and promoting positive outcomes. See this study which demonstrates how profoundly powerful what we say can be. http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/encouragement-from-teachers-has-greatest-influence-on-less-advantaged-children

3. Refreshments: Offer drinks, snacks, ice.. isotonic Lucozade is always a winner! Ive known partners in their inability to “fix” the situation, can go into a “freeze” mode, and forget simple things such as offering snacks, and drinks, even more so, some have even gone a step further and eaten the snacks designated for their woman in labour!! A labouring woman's body is working tremendously hard, so hydration and energy are essential to ensure she is being provided with essential nutrition.

4. Main Communicator: There’s evidence that when a male is near a labouring woman, their testosterone hormone decreases and their prolactin increases, a hormone which makes them more alert and attentive. Let’s face it, men are terrible at giving birth, but they are wonderful at protecting! A main feature of KGHypnobirthing is the importance placed on the female remaining in a relaxed peace of mind (parasympathetic nervous system). This encourages endorphins to be released, ensuring that breathing is regulated thus increasing appropriate oxygen to the labouring muscles. If they are choosing to have a hospital birth, on most occasions, couples will only just have met their care givers for the first time in labour. As a result, men can be really helpful in being the one which protects the woman from engaging the neocortex, the thinking part of the brain. Thus, a birth partner can be essential in being the main communicator between medical staff, and with their labouring partner. They can ask the questions and then work out how to communicate them to the person they love/in labour as best as possible, helping her to remain calm, relaxed and confident. 

5. Set the room environment up: When women or other mammals are in labour, there are two key themes that are important: that they feel SAFE and UNOBSERVED. Thus, environment is key in how women feel, which can trigger a surge of oxytocin or conversely, halt oxytocin. Some ideas to help the environment may be, dimmed light (many women/mammals start labour at night time), maybe its candles, music, soft furnishings, birthing ball etc. Whatever makes the labouring women comfortable, safe, relaxed, peaceful, content are helpful.

In short, Do NOT underestimate the power your birth partner can have to change the course of the journey of labour. Being present physically and emotionally (put that phone away!) can make a dramatic effect! Birthing partners are hugely important, yet regularly underestimated. These tools may be what changes your experience and the outcome of the journey.