Hypnobirthing survey results

So firstly a HUGE thankyou to everyone who responded to the hypnobirthing survey, here’s a summary of the results:

what is hypnobirthing

What is hypnobirthing all about?

Who are you?

Of 70 respondents, 8% are pregnant, and 85% have children.

There was a huge range in responses- many people didn’t know about hypnobirthing, or what it is, but many people have heard of it and know it is a form of pain relief, by way of relaxing. Some had used the techniques, with great success, in a variety of formats- from books and CDS to attending private courses.

What do you know about hypnobirthing?

95% were interested in hypnobirthing to provide coping strategies for birth, followed by 78% wanting to be confident about birth, and 78% wanting to know how to relax. Well, hypnobirthing definitely achieves that! 61% were interested in how to be comfortable in birth, and 50% want to know the benefits to baby.

What are you looking for?

The respondents felt they would have more confidence in a course if it was held locally (74%), facilitated by a midwife (65%) and accredited by a reputable body such as the Royal College of Midwives (58%). Attending a taster session and having additional resources such as CDs/ MP3s and supporting books are appreciated (51% for both).
There was a range in responses to the preference of the course format- the majority opting for an evening course (40%), or a weekend course (25%). 65% would prefer a group hypnobirthing course, but there was also interest in weekend pregnancy retreats (10%) so keep an eye out for info on a pregnancy retreat project I am involved in!
Money and distance does seem to be a factor in accessing courses- with most (70%) preferring to pay under £250, although the remainder would be able to increase this to £250-500, and most happy to travel up to 10 miles. The variety of course formats definitely cater for this- with group hypnobirthing courses costing £250 and private courses costing £350, as they are tailored to your specific requirements. I have always felt money should never be an issue in accessing this wonderful education, so please get in touch to discuss payment plans if needed.

Moving on from breast is best

I was recently approached by a pregnancy and parenting magazine asking if I would like to advertise with them. I looked through their publication and was really pleased but then I came across an article on “breast is best” which listed all the benefits of breastmilk.

Although well intentioned, this article has a really dated approach. Most mothers want to breastfeed, which is why initiation rates are really high. The dramatic drop off though means efforts should be on sustaining this so they can reach their personal goals. New mums who stop breastfeeding before they want to haven’t forgotten how amazing breastmilk is, but instead have come across difficulties, or have been given damaging advice.

So with this in mind, I contacted the magazine and they replied asking me to rewrite the article! I wrote it based on what women really want to know- not why breastmilk is better, but what to do if it is uncomfortable or you are worried about your milk supply.  Have a look and let me know what you think!


Breastfeeding goals- Reach out with any questions!

Breastfeeding, like all new skills, can take time and practice to learn so it becomes comfortable and easy.  There are lots of excellent support services available to help you reach your breastfeeding goals including phonelines, websites, lactation consultants and face to face support groups. Check out The National Breastfeeding helpline (0300 100 0212), La Leche League (LLL) and the Association of breastfeeding mothers (ABM). The Department of Health and World Health Oganisation recommends your baby has only breastmilk for the first 6 months of their life, and alongside other foods for 2 years.

Your breastmilk is amazing:

  • Your breastmilk provides all the nutrients your baby needs as it changes on a feed by feed basis, responding to the weather, the age of your baby and to any infections you or baby have come into contact with.
  • Breastfeeding is part of the bonding process and many mums find it becomes an intrinsic part of their parenting as it settles a baby who is hungry, tired, hurt, or needs comforting.

LLL laid back breastfeeding biological nuturing goals pic

Many new mums worry about their milk supply, so things you can do to keep it high include:

  • Skin to skin. This soothes baby and stimulates the hormones which makes your milk
  • Stay close to baby so feeding cues are not missed.
  • Breastfeed regularly. Schedules reduce milk supply whereas more breastfeeds= more milk!
  • Get quality breastfeeding support with positioning and attachment. If breastfeeding is comfortable for you then baby will get the milk effectively too.
  • Try the ‘laid back’ position. This activates baby’s natural instincts to breastfeed (see pic)
  • Hand express or find out about breast compressions as this increases your milk supply and confidence
  • Avoid dummies, other milks or water ‘top ups’ as this lowers your milk supply
  • Trust in your body’s ability to love, grow and feed your baby (but get support if you need it)
  • Prioritise learning to breastfeed (limit visitors or perhaps ask them to bring meals or tidy up)
  • Enlist your partner’s support who has the important role of caring for you. Dads can bond by bathing baby, changing nappies, cuddling, skin to skin and settling baby.

You are legally protected in the UK to breastfeed your baby in public. Meeting other breastfeeding mums can help you build the confidence to meet your baby’s needs when out and about. You can attend a local breastfeeding support group such as one run by La Leche League [Which comes from the Spanish word for milk]

Optimal cord clamping

What is it?

The umbilical cord connects baby to it’s lifeline of the placenta. The cord contains one vein carrying oxygen and nutrient-rich blood from the placenta to the baby, and two arteries which carry carbon dioxide rich blood and waste away from baby to the placenta for purification. Once baby is born it is often routine practice to clamp and cut this cord before the placenta is delivered. Delayed or Optimal cord clamping is when the cord is not clamped immediately but instead delayed until the blood, iron, platelets (for clotting) and stem cells (for healing) have all drained out of the cord and back into the baby. It accounts for around 1/3 of baby’s blood volume. This usually takes 3-5 minutes in which time baby can be happy skin to skin.

Why is it done?

Immediate cord clamping stems from the practice of giving an injection of a hormonal drug after birth in the 1960. This drug is very effective and makes the uterus contract extremely efficiently and so it has always been popular in birth as it delivers the placenta quickly and reduces the risk of bleeding. It is only recently that the effects to the baby are being considered.

cord clamping pic to show difference in blood

What’s the research?

There is a lot of research which shows a direct link between immediate cord clamping and anaemia especially in the first year of baby’s life and even into school age. There is ongoing research into other effects such as behavioural problems, social and motor skills. Babies, particularly premature babies, who have optimal cord clamping have better blood pressure, need fewer blood transfusions, improved clotting and have a lower risk of a bowel condition called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).

What are the current guidelines?

Guidelines and policies are changing around the world and so many trusts are moving away from immediate cord clamping. Optimal cord clamping can be done in all types of birth- natural, medicalised, caesarean. If baby needs resuscitation then 1 minute of optimal clamping is still recommended as this gets the oxygenated blood to the baby. The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines suggest 1-5 minutes, and there is a campaign called #waitforwhite which encourages waiting until the cord has completely stopped pulsating.

What can parents do?

The Royal College of Midwives encourage parents to have a look at the research and make an informed choice and then to state in their birth preferences if they want optimal cord clamping. Dads play a particular role in this. Dads can remind their midwife or doctor at delivery that they would like to delay clamping the cord and many practitioners appreciate a gentle reminder. Some antenatal trusts have stickers to put onto your pregnancy notes.

Want more info?

Look up research by Judith Mercer- rethinking placental transfusion and www.Bloodtobaby.com

Which book to read? My top 5

This will be my 14th year I have been involved with maternity care and I am still very much a student. The more I learn the more I want to know! Plus the changes that happen and the new understandings of information keep me constantly reading and learning.

Therefore I have put together a list of my top 5 books that I think are simply incredible classics and I would love everybody to read. I’d lend you a copy, but these don’t stay on my shelf for long!

1. Let’s ease in gently with Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin. Originally published in 1976 this classic book on home birth on a farm in Tennesey has some inspirational birth stories and significant statistics on midwifery practice.

spiritual midwifery book ina may gaskin

2. Childbirth in the age of plastics by Michel Odent. A French obstetrician who started working in 1949, Michel Odent is one of the world’s leading voices for natural birth. In this book he considers contemporary medical history from a different perspective and makes clinicians question routine medical practices.

3. The Womanly Art of breastfeeding by La Leche League. Dedicated to supporting nursing and expectant mothers, the internationally respected La Leche League has set the standard for educating and empowering mothers in this natural art for generations. This book is more of a guide so doesn’t need to be read cover to cover but can instead be dipped in to answer any breastfeeding questions. Don’t be put off by the title or the cover pic.

4. The politics of breastfeeding by Gabrielle Palmer. This book blew my mind when I read it because it is an exposure of the underhand marketing techniques used by big companies to undermine women’s confidence and in particular breastfeeding. I guess we all think we are immune to it but this book suggests different.

5. Childbirth without fear by Grantly Dick-Read. Originally published in 1933, Grantly Dick-Read is the pioneer of pain free birth and hypnobirthing. His theory is that if women can control what he calls the “fear-tension-pain” cycle (which you learn about on the hypnobirthing course), then women will have more control of the birthing process.

grantly dick read hypnobirthing book childbirth without fear

OK I couldn’t quite stick to a top 5, as I also want to include The Hypnobirthing book by Katherine Graves. This is used in the course and is described as being an inspirational guide for a calm, confident and natural birth. It explains how and why hypnobirthing works, as well as the visualisation and relaxation exercises to practice in preparation for your birth.

My current book is Why hypnobirthing matters by Katrina Berry which is an easy read about all aspects of hypnobirthing- (perhaps one for sceptics to start with?).

why hypnobirthing matters book katrina berry

What books would you recommend? I’d love to find out. Deb x

Positive birth stories

As soon as someone announces a pregnancy it never seems long before someone wants to tell them a horror story about their own birth or that of their friend’s sister’s mother…

But is this helpful? Well in a word, no!

Women are surrounded by negativity of birth from a young age. From horror stories to TV programmes which normalise dramatic births. As a result, many women are anxious without even feeling a contraction. This leads to what is known as a ‘fear- tension- pain cycle’ and reinforces itself. Just imagine if you planned to run a marathon.. Would you listen to people who tell you how awful it was and it was the worst thing in the world? Or would you seek out success stories, good resources, strong cheer leaders and find all the skills you need to complete the marathon?

Are there any positive birth stories?

Try to remember that for every horror story there are so many positive birth stories. Sadly many women feel the need to offload any negative birth experiences and who better to listen than a new mum?! Someone who has had a great birth experience often doesn’t want to speak up about it for fear of being branded “smug” or “lucky”.

Here are two top tips for you:

  1. Stop the negativity: Politely ask people not to bombard you with their difficult stories. Furthermore, practice the hypnobirthing and relax class exercises which encourage a ‘shield’ to the negativity.
  2. Boost the positivity: Fill up your knowledge bank with positive birth stories. These sites have loads: www.PositiveBirthStories.com and www.positivebirthmovement.org


gbs baby pregnancy sara wickham aims book

Group B Strep (GBS)

A big question I am frequently asked about is Group B Strep (GBS), which many women find out about in pregnancy and the results can have a big implication on birth preferences.

There is lots of risk analysis to weigh up with GBS so everybody’s decision will be individual to them. A great place to start is by getting informed.

Some things to think about include:

    • What is GBS and when is it tested?
    • Who has it and are there any symptoms?
    • If I have it in pregnancy does that mean I will have it in labour?
    • Is testing accurate and when is the best time to test?
    • What does the research say about treatment options?
    • Are there advantages and risks of treatment or in fact- no treatment?
    • Are there particular risk factors to consider?
    • How does GBS status alter birth preferences?

Where can I get more information?

An excellent resource for more information is by Sara Wickham. She is a midwife researcher and has written some excellent articles on GBS (and many other topics). See www.SaraWickham.com. There are also AIMS booklets available (Association of improvements in maternity services) and these have a small charge but are packed with  information. See www.aims.org.uk