Why do pregnant midwives seek out hypnobirthing?

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It’s true that more and more pregnant midwives are seeking out hypnobirthing, but why?? Right here goes…. pregnant midwives seek out hypnobirthing for their own births because…. IT WORKS.

Here at bumps ‘n’ babies we don’t often feel the need to bang the drum for hypnobirthing, cos there’s no need to really. Bookings are on the increase mainly due to word of mouth and the fact that hypnobirthing is becoming more recognized as a good birth preparation course, plus the research also shows – IT WORKS.

Now there’s some folk out there that feel hypnobirthing white washes over the truth about giving birth. They feel we set women up for failure by focusing on normal birth without giving much focus to ‘the other stuff’ that ‘might happen’. They think that we don’t truly prepare women for all eventualities.

But let’s go back to the pregnant midwives here…

When a midwife becomes pregnant everyone expects her to just get on with it, people think  she won’t need to attend a birth prep course cos she knows everything there is to know about birth. It’s her job. She sees babies coming out of women’s bodies on a daily basis. She knows her options on where she can give birth. She’s aware of the statistics, research and clinical guidelines that will impact on the care she receives. She knows what can go wrong. In the eyes of many she is ‘fully prepared for all eventualities’. She has witnessed the full range of birth experiences, she knows what ‘might happen’, so why does she seek out hypnobirthing?? Because she knows hypnobirthing will improve her overall  experience of pregnancy and birth and that even if she does need some help from the docs to give birth, hypnobirthing will make a huge difference!

Giving women just statistics, facts, and telling them what can go wrong does not necessarily ‘prepare’ a woman to give birth. Women aren’t stupid, they’ve heard the word stillbirth, they know a percentage of women will need a caesarean section and that nothing is set in stone as to how things will go on the day they give birth. They know there’s a ‘thing’ called an epidural – if they want one they can ask for one.

We teach hypnobirthing because of the hypnosis element, it’s what we love the most. Throughout the course not only do we look at the physical aspect of giving birth, we also focus on the power of the mind and how this can shape a woman’s birth experience both physically and mentally.

We’re not knocking other birth preparation courses out there, hypnobirthing won’t be to everyone’s taste, the fact that women have a choice of birth prep courses out there is a good thing. Women helping other women to give birth and have a positive experience is what it’s all about. But the reason that we don’t focus on ‘all that other stuff’ is cos it brings about the beast that is fear, and the physical responses within the body when the sympathetic nervous system is triggered by fear are not helpful to pregnant and labouring women. This is fact.

We’ve taught many doctors as well as midwives, the medical bunch seem to benefit the most from hypnobirthing. Hypnobirthing gives them the confidence to believe they can give birth without assuming that they will almost certainly need some help, and we remind them of the findings of the birthplace study – that ‘giving birth is generally very safe.’

Someone asked me only the other day – How do you define that hypnobirthing ‘works’?

Good question. Onto the research…

Hypnobirthing is still a relatively new concept so there isn’t masses of research on it, however what research there is, is promising. Some of the research trials looked at birth outcomes, whilst others focused more on pain management.  The findings of several trials shows that although the normal birth rate remains roughly the same; there is a significant rise in the instrumental birth rate due to a significant drop in the caesarean section rate, basically more vaginal births happen with hypnobirthing!

What seems to be a recurrent theme is that the women that had attended a hypnosis for childbirth course such as hypnobirthing, regardless of whether or not they requested an epidural or needed some medical assistance to give birth, reported more positive birth experiences. In short – hypnobirthing rocks!

So (here comes the shameless plug in this blog post), just as we’ve embraced the power of hypnosis for birth we’ve also applied the same concept to our new breastfeeding workshops. We’ve given focus to the mind – body connection, which as most breastfeeding mothers will tell you cannot be underestimated. As well as teaching pregnant women about the principles of breastfeeding and addressing the technical hitches that MAY crop up along the way, such as sore nips, over inflated boobs etc.( you see we are keeping it real!)  we’ve also incorporated relaxation and breathing techniques, visualizations and affirmations, all to encourage the flow of the necessary hormones for a positive breastfeeding experience.

Our first breastfeeding workshop will be held at Cossham hospital, run by the lovely experienced midwife Katie, on the 22nd of November, 7-10pm.

So if you’re a pregnant midwife reading this and wondering whether you should seek out hypnobirthing, the answer is – hell yes!! As the saying goes – there’s more than one way to cook an egg and there’s more than one way to give birth, so why not hypnobirth!

 

Sharon xx

Perceptions and Birth Stories

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There is no truth, there is only perception……… Gustave Flaubert

Yes it’s another one of those irritating quotes that pops up as you scroll through your instagram account. But before you roll your eyes and groan, think about it, it’s true – There is no truth only perception.  When it comes to a birth story how much is truth and how much is perception? Us midwives love a birth story. Sometimes we hear the story from several people that were there at the birth, all chipping in with their own version of events and that’s when this quote really hits home, because one person can perceive an experience way differently to another.  A woman who has laboured high on a dose of birth hormones, adrenaline and some gas and air thrown in the mix will tell you her version of events, but then so too will her mother and her partner that were there with her and they all tell the story slightly differently. Confusing? Yes! So what is the truth? What really did happen during that birth? Who knows.  Let’s not forget there was another person in that room too with her version / perception of events …the midwife!   Us midwives know we have a massive role to play in a woman’s birth experience, but probably only to a degree, the rest is down to her and the way she perceive the event.

Let’s go back to the gas and air for a minute. Gas and air is fantastic stuff. It’s a mind bending, thought altering, wonder drug. It takes you to another planet where you just don’t give a toss about anything. Many women get right off their faces on it in labour. ‘This stuff is bloody amazing!’ they say as they cling onto the mouth piece for dear life. The gas is seen as her new BFF and she aint givin’ it up for no one. You know when a woman is in ‘gas land’ when she comes out with random things in-between contractions with a strange smile on her face. “Everyone just seems so far away man…just totally thought I was Barry White”. Yep, she’s in gas land. So if she thinks she’s Barry White what else does she perceive about this momentous moment in her life that will shape her version of her ‘birth story’.

Likewise another biggy when it comes to altering perceptions during birth is the beast that is adrenaline. Adrenaline flowing through a woman’s body in labour will trigger the flight or fight response within her. She becomes stressed, perceives she is in danger, fearful thoughts run through her mind. She leaps off the bed mid contraction yelling “that’s it, no more, I’m going home”.   She wants to flee the danger that she perceives, but of course she doesn’t get very far, she’s in rip roaring labour and about to have a baby. All that adrenalin surging through her body isn’t particularly helpful during labour and is likely to influence her perception of the birth in a negative way.

And why is it that one woman in labour can perceive the physical sensations of her contractions so differently to another? Some women describe their contractions as agonizingly painful; others report feelings of euphoria with no mention of pain at all. Perception has a part to play here too. In our hypnobirthing classes we demonstrate this idea by bringing the couples into a relaxed state and encouraging them to image that their right hand is in a bucket of cold icy water. We suggest that they perceive their hand becoming cold and then numb. We encourage them to bring their numb hand to their face and feel the numbing sensation transfer to their cheek and mouth. At the end of this hypnosis script the couples themselves seem pretty baffled at what they’ve just experienced. There is no bucket of icy water, that’s the truth, so how come they genuinely felt that their hand was icy cold and numb? What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve” ( Naploean Hill ). Clever stuff eh!

So can us midwives really influence a woman’s birth story in a positive way? Well yes, obviously it goes without saying, being kind, showing compassion etc. but it’s not always that simple thanks to good ol’ perception. The calm voice and those reassuring words that you used worked a treat as you supported a woman through her labour last week. The encouragement you gave to spur her on through her labour was spot on. She sent you a lovely thank you card and a cracking box of chocolates. In the card she wrote “Your kind but strong words helped me avoid the epidural that I considered having, I had a fantastic birth experience, thank you”.  But beware, woe betide the midwife that thinks she’s cracked it and becomes smug, thinking she’s worthy of a midwife of the year award, because tomorrow you might find yourself in a similar situation; you care for another woman in the same way, yet she perceives your encouragement as patronising and insensitive. She perceives that you prevented her from having her happydural and her birth story is far from positive. No thank you card or box of choccies from her. You feel deflated, cussing yourself that you got it so wrong this time, you bad midwife you.

Most women will have some recollection of the day they gave birth, but it seems time also has a part to play. A woman’s birth story can alter over time, cleverly edited by her mind with key events highlighted that she remembers forever, others becoming foggy and maybe less relevant to her. We shouldn’t dismiss a woman’s perception of events during her labour as irrelevant because it’s not. A woman’s birth story is exactly that – her birth story and that’s fine. Life is based on perception. Perception is based on opinion. Opinion is based on thought. Thought comes from the mind. So as midwives whilst we have some control over certain factors that influence a woman’s birth story, whether positively or negatively, we cannot fully control her perceptions.

Sharon x

http://www.bumpsnbabies.org