Valerie Gommon Midwife’s Blog

Archive for the ‘hypnobirthing’ Category

This is a guest blog, written by one of my clients.

My name is Donna and I am a mother of three.  Two year old Grace and nine week old fraternal twin girls Olivia and Faith.

My husband Paul and I had always agreed that we didn’t want a big age gap between our children so when Grace was one year old, we decided to begin trying for baby number two.  I fell pregnant fairly quickly but unfortunately suffered a miscarriage at 5 weeks which was very upsetting.  After a few weeks we were ready to try again and as before, I fell pregnant within a couple of months.

I was very anxious during the first few weeks hoping that this time I would hold onto the baby.  At 12 weeks it was time for the scan.  I was feeling quite relaxed as the pregnancy was going well and I was feeling extremely sick which I thought was a good sign.

The last thing on my mind was the fact that I could be carrying twins.  When the ultrasonographer casually told us ‘oh, you have two in there’, we knew that our lives were going to change forever.  I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry – so I did both!  Everyone in the room was so excited for us but my husband and I were just stunned.  His face was a picture.  They told me that the reason why I had felt so sick was due to the additional hormone racing round my body. They also told us that the twins were fraternal and each had their own placenta and were in their own sac which is the safest type of twin pregnancy.

The first feeling I had once I had calmed down was that of being pregnant for the first time.  My pregnancy suddenly went from having a singleton baby and feeling confident that I had done this before so it will be ok, to all the anxieties of a first time pregnancy.

I knew that I had to do my research so as I could make some informed decisions about my pregnancy and birth.  When I told the ultrasonographer that I was planning a home birth, her reaction was ‘oh, you won’t be able to do that with twins’.  I had a fantastic pregnancy with Grace and had her at home in a birthing pool.  The thought of having to follow a medical route and have my babies in hospital filled me with dread.

As with my first pregnancy, I chose to take on an independent midwife.  This was my preference as I knew I would be less likely to end up with a hospital birth.  I made sure I looked after myself by eating well, getting plenty of rest (as much as Grace would allow me!) and exercised regularly.  I found swimming was great for keeping me fit and taking the weight off my bump.  I had regular scans to check on the twins’ development and position.  Throughout the pregnancy, Olivia (first born) remained head down and Faith was breech.  I knew that this wasn’t ideal but also knew after doing some research that as long as Olivia remained head down and although a little more risky, I could still safely deliver Faith as breech.  At 38 weeks I went for my final scan and to my surprise, Faith had done a full turn and was now head down along with Olivia.  The perfect combination for birth.

We had put together a birth plan that covered every eventuality if I needed to be transferred to hospital at any stage.  Two days after my last scan; my waters broke at 9.30pm when I was lying in bed.  I felt a pop and then a head drop down.  I walked into the bathroom and called downstairs for Paul saying ‘I think my waters have broken!’  He chased upstairs and I told him to call the midwife.  My contractions started almost immediately after my waters broke.  I spoke to my midwife and she told me to go back to bed as things may not start to happen until the morning and I would need my rest.  Olivia was not going to wait until morning.  I came downstairs and stood in the bathroom leaning over the toilet with my contractions coming fast and furious.  I tried the TENS machine but that didn’t really work for me.  Paul was in the dining room putting together the birthing pool which I got into as soon as it was ready.  The relief was immense.  I had heard that water was the most effective pain relief next to an epidural – I can well believe that.

I had four midwives looking after me and the babies and they all arrived at my house in time.  It was all happening so quickly and Olivia was born in the pool at 11.55pm.  She shot out and I heard her crying straight away.  I stood up and held my baby; I was elated and also amazed that my babies would have their own birthdays.  One of my midwives held my stomach to make sure that Faith fell and engaged in the right position.  We knew she was head down so we needed to make sure she stayed that way.  We decided to wait for my labour to progress naturally however, it slowed down.  I got out of the pool to walk around and see if I could get it started again.  Four hours passed and a decision was made to break the waters around Faith as the midwife discovered they were still intact.  As soon as the waters were broken, Faith was born on the sofa, again extremely quickly.

She cried straight away and the midwife placed her on me so as I could give her a cuddle and have skin to skin contact.  Another of the midwives was looking after Olivia.  Both my babies were born healthy and I couldn’t have been happier than I was just then.

The down side was that I now had to deliver the placentae.  I was so tired but knew I had to keep going.  One of my midwives helped to keep me relaxed with hypnobirthing techniques and control my breathing.  The placentae had fused together and were not budging.  With a combination of experience from my midwives and a hot towel placed across my stomach, the placenta moved and came away.  If it hadn’t been for the determination and skill of the team of midwives, I think I would have ended up in hospital with a retained placenta and that would have been disappointing after going through the entire birth at home.

So all was well.  I was in good health and although extremely tired, felt elated and proud that I had accomplished the birth I wanted.  My husband Paul was fantastic during and after the birth and I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive birthing partner.

A home birth is not for everyone and if there had been a health issue with either myself or my babies, I would have chosen hospital care.

I wanted to share my story so as other women can see that you do have choices during pregnancy even when you are having twins and you can make decisions that are right for you.  For more information about twin and multiple pregnancies visit www.tamba.org.uk

Donna has also set up a website which offers information about homebirth; she offers a free ebook at www.happyhomebirth.com

I guess this may be more useful if you are planning to hire an Independent Midwife as with the NHS there is less choice, but you still do have a choice of midwife and should remember that if you don’t get on with your midwife you can ask the local Supervisor of Midwives (at the local maternity unit) to help you to find a new midwife.

If looking for an Independent Midwife, I would suggest that you start by looking at www.independentmidwives.org.uk where you can enter your postcode to find the midwives who live closest to you.  This website will then lead you to look at the midwives own websites and you should get a “feel” of the midwives from their websites.  The next step is to email or telephone your favourite midwife(s) to have a chat with them, again this should help you to gauge whether they might be the right midwife for you.

The midwife will want to know where you live (to ensure that she is able to travel to you), she will also want to know when your baby is due (to ensure that she is free at that time) and whether it is your first baby.  If you have had a baby/babies before I would expect her to ask about your experience.  She will also be keen to know where you plan to give birth.

Questions you may like to ask of the midwife include:

How long have you been a midwife? / An Independent Midwife?
Do you like homebirths/waterbirths?
Do you have additional skills (hypnosis training etc)?
What would happen if my baby is breech/I am expecting twins?
What is your normal birth rate?
What is your caesarean rate?
What is your breastfeeding rate?
What is your homebirth rate?
What is your transfer rate?
How much do you charge?
What can I expect from you?
Antenatal care? Labour and birth care? Postnatal care?

I would expect an Independent Midwife to outline the issue of the lack of professional indemnity insurance to you.

If you enjoy speaking to the midwife, I would suggest that the next course of action might be to arrange a consultation.  The midwife will usually be happy to come to your home to meet you and your partner to discuss things in more detail.  Many midwives make a small charge for this meeting to cover their time and petrol costs (this meeting make last a couple of hours) and will be an opportunity for you to ask any questions of the midwife and again to enable you to decide whether she is the right midwife for you.  Most midwives will deduct this fee from the final balance if you decide to book with them.

Some women do “interview” a couple of midwives, and this is perfectly acceptable and perhaps a sensible approach as it will be an important relationship.

An Independent Midwife’s fee may seem expensive, particularly when you can get a similar service for free on the NHS, but I always say to clients that you won’t have many babies and it is important to get things right!  It may be better to employ a midwife and wait a bit longer for the new car or foreign holiday!  An Independent Midwife will usually give you a lot more time than an NHS midwife is able to; she will see you more frequently and give you longer appointments.  The other main benefit is that you will see the same midwife throughout your pregnancy, birth and postnatal period.

I wish you well in your decision-making whether you choose an NHS or Independent Midwife, and if I can be of any help to you please feel free to email info@3shiresmidwife.co.uk

Introduction to Homoeopathy – Ursula Kraus-Harper

Thursday 17th June 8 – 9.30 pm

Talk at NCT event Medbourne Community Sports Pavilion, Pascale Drive, Medbourne

Milton Keynes Antenatal Exhibition

Sunday 20th June,

2-4.30 pm FREE entry,

Christ the Cornerstone Church, CMK opp M&S bit.ly/dBsLmL 300 Saxon Gate West, Central Milton Keynes, MK9 2ES.

FREE entry, refreshment and goody bags. An opportunity for expectant parents to gather information on all aspects of pregnancy, birth and early parenting. Exhibitors include: midwives, breastfeeding, waterbirth, cloth nappies, complementary therapies, ultrasound scan, baby massage, aquanatal and much more!

Please contact me info@3shiresmidwife.co.uk for more details.

Having spoken previously about “pharmacological” methods of pain relief, I thought I would mention the whole host of “natural” methods of pain relief:

Movement – Walking, pacing

Changing position – squatting, kneeling

Using a chair/birth stool/birthing ball

Having a bath or shower

Using a birthing pool

Massage – oils, talc, ball

Music

Chanting, singing, nursery rhyme

Breathing, relaxation, visualisation techniques

Encouragement

Homoeopathy

Acupuncture

Hypnotherapy

TENS – Transcutaneous Nerve Stimulation

Distraction – go for a walk, bake a cake

Having a midwife you know and trust!

Having a homebirth, or at least staying at home for as long as possible!

So you can see there are many more “natural” things to help than pharmacological, so try these first!

Send me your ideas if you have more!

What is the definition of Natural Childbirth?  A hospital might say that a woman whose labour was induced and who had an epidural was a normal birth; others might say that induction, augmentation, analgesia, episiotomies etc do not constitute a normal birth!

A more radical definition of a natural birth might be a labour that starts spontaneously between 37 and 42 weeks gestation, and progresses to a vaginal birth without any intervention or pharmacological drugs.

Natural childbirth has been given a bad press – women choosing natural childbirth have been described as “hippy types” and indeed there has been an item in the press this week about a midwife who suggested that women would do better to avoid epidurals that has caused considerable outrage!

Pregnancy and childbirth are normal life events, not medical condition; a woman’s body is perfectly designed to give birth.

Of course some pregnancies and labours will need medical help – but the vast majority of women will go through their pregnancy and birth without problems and this process works best when interference is kept to a minimum.

For example anything we do to interfere with this natural processes has consequences – if mother and baby are well I am suggesting that we (the medical profession) should not interfere!

One example of this is the huge number of women whose labours are induced – why?  In some areas women are induced at 41 weeks (interestingly in France a normal pregnancy is defined as 41 weeks!).

Induction is not an easy option.  It is usually quite a lengthy process which makes the mother tired.  It is also usually more painful and the mother is therefore more likely to need pain relief, possibly an epidural … the mother is then less mobile … making it harder for the baby to find a way through the pelvis and consequently she is more likely to need the help of a ventouse or forceps, or even a caesarean section.

We all know that although caesareans are very safe in this country, it is still far safer for both mother and baby if the baby is born vaginally.  A caesarean section is major abdominal surgery which will take weeks and months to fully recover from – and the mother will have a demanding baby to care for too!  Babies born by caesarean also have many more problems, and are far more likely to need to receive Special Care.  There are also implications for future pregnancies – so, although fantastic if needed, caesarean sections are far from ideal.  The World Health Organisation recommends a 5 – 10% caesarean section rate, but our rate is approaching 30%, and I believe 90% at The Portland private maternity hospital!

This interference in birth has been called a “cascade of intervention”, because we do a) we have to do b) and because we do c) d) is also necessary this is also described as “iatrogenic” or hospital induced.  Whatever we do has consequences, for example a woman with an epidural will need more careful monitoring, she will need an IV drip and also a catheter – so you can see this spiral effect, because we do this, we have to do that and so on …

I believe there are several factors that lead to this escalation of intervention in childbirth:

Our cultural conditioning, fear, poor health habits and medical intervention in normal birth (perhaps because of fear of litigation) that make birth difficult often requiring more intervention, including surgery.

With good preparation, much intervention can be avoided – women who have a midwife they know and trust are less likely to need analgesia.  With good preparation they should be in optimal health for the birth – complementary therapies they may have experienced acupuncture, homoepathy, osteopathy or any number of helpful treatments during their pregnancy which will help align their body and prepare them for birth.  They may also have practised relaxation or hypnosis techniques all of which can be hugely beneficial.  There is also much a woman can do to help herself: mobilization, relaxation, support, the use of water …

The satisfaction that a woman feels when she has successfully given birth is amazing – it is empowering and is a fantastic start to the parenting journey, and of course breastfeeding is so much easier when you haven’t got a caesarean section wound on your abdomen.

If things didn’t work out this way for you, remember that you did the very best you could at the time.  Some labours do need help and some mothers and babies wouldn’t survive without the help of our medical colleagues.  If this has raised questions or distress for you I am more than happy to speak to you please do feel free to email me info@3shiresmidwife.co.uk

A difficult or traumatic birth experience has long-lasting implications for both the mother and sometimes her child.  We don’t have many babies in our lifetime and it is important to get things as right as we possibly can!

Last year I watched a viewing of the film “Orgasmic Birth” www.orgasmicbirth.com which may be called “Joyous Birth” for the British audience.

The film documents the beautiful, calm and sensuous births of eleven women.  Made by filmmaker Debra Pascali-Bonaro it reveals a revolutionary approach to birth that is statistically safer for both mother and child than the birthing and delivery methods that are standard in many parts of the world today.

The phenomenon of birth being a sexual experience is not new; anthropologist and author Sheila Kitzinger www.sheilakitzinger.com has written about this and describes how the pressure of the baby’s head against the walls of the vagina and the fanning out of the tissues as the head descends bring for some women an unexpected sensation of sexual arousal, even of ecstasy.  I have written of the power of hypnosis and have witnessed some beautiful calm and peaceful births however it has to be said that the birth journey for most women is long, hard and painful.  This said, I very much agree with Dr Grantley Dick-Read www.pregnancytoday.com/articles/birth-methods-and-philosophies/childbirth-without-fear-1924 who in the 1920s came to the realisation that birth need not be painful, and described that Fear creates Tension which creates Pain.  Women who are able to somehow rise above the waves and surges of energy and power of the labour contractions can and do have easier and shorter labours.

If you are pregnant I would very much recommend that you consider learning the art of relaxation, perhaps with the aid of a Natal Hypnotherapy CD www.natalhypnotherapy.co.uk or by attending Hypnobirthing classes www.hypnobirthing.co.uk and perhaps that you consider watching the beautiful births on this film, perhaps together with the unassisted births https://midwifevalerie.wordpress.com/2009/05/03/freebirthing-unassisted-birth as they powerfully show the variety of births, but at the same time show that childbirth is a normal event and that babies will be born – naturally and often without too much assistance from the medical profession!

A listing of events that I am hosting or involved with over the next few months, please feel free to pass on these details to anyone appropriate.

I can be contacted on 01908 511247 if you need any further information.

Antenatal Exhibition – FREE entry
Sunday 8th March 2009
2pm – 4.30pm
The Guildhall, Church of Christ the Cornerstone,
300 Saxon Gate West,
Central Milton Keynes, MK9 2ES
info@3shiresmidwife.co.uk

Love Your Body Exhibition – FREE entry
Saturday 21st March 2009
10 am – 4 pm
Midsummer Place,
Central Milton Keynes
www.loveyourbody.me

Milton Keynes Real Nappy Show – FREE entry
Thursday 2nd April 2009
11am onwards
Chrysalis Theatre, Camphill Community,
Japonica Lane, Willen Park South,
Milton Keynes, MK15 9JY
info@3shiresmidwife.co.uk

Wedding Fair – FREE entry
Sunday 5th April 2009
11am – 4 pm
Holiday Inn, London Road,
Newport Pagnell MK16 0JA
info@3shiresmidwife.co.uk

International Week of Midwife – FREE entry
Part of John Lewis Nursery Event
Saturday 9th May 2009
10 am – 4 pm
Nursery Department
John Lewis, Central Milton Keynes
info@3shiresmidwife.co.uk

National Breastfeeding Week – FREE entry
Saturday 16th May 2009
10 am – 4 pm
In store at Boots Baby Department,
Central Milton Keynes
info@3shiresmidwife.co.uk

Love Your Body Exhibition – FREE entry
Saturday 13th June 2009
10 am – 4 pm
Excape, Central Milton Keynes
www.loveyourbody.me

Antenatal Exhibition – FREE entry
Sunday 28th June 2009
2pm – 4.30pm
The Guildhall, Church of Christ the Cornerstone,
300 Saxon Gate West,
Central Milton Keynes, MK9 2ES
info@3shiresmidwife.co.uk

MK Baby and Toddler Show
Sunday 6th September 2009
The Stadium, Denbigh,
Milton Keynes
info@3shiresmidwife.co.uk

Antenatal Exhibition – FREE entry
Sunday 4th October 2009
2pm – 4.30pm
The Guildhall, Church of Christ the Cornerstone,
300 Saxon Gate West,
Central Milton Keynes, MK9 2ES
info@3shiresmidwife.co.uk


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