Sunday, 7 August 2016

Hypnobirthing - hippy mumbo jumbo or brilliant for birth?

Those of you who've followed my blog for some time will know we sadly lost a baby last year in a missed miscarriage, discovered at our 12 week scan.

This pregnancy I was so much more relaxed. But as a natural worrier and control freak I knew I needed something to help me feel calmer, more reassured and a little in control.

A friend of mine, who had a baby a month or two before my first pregnancy baby would have been due, happened to tell me about this book she was reading on hypnobirthing and what she was trying.

Now she's not a 'hippy' or 'away with the fairies' in any way, so I immediately listened and took note - I trust her views and judgement.

Maybe something to look into myself? Perhaps it could help with my control issues?

Another friend had anxiety and had been using CBT techniques to help her and I again wondered if breathing could be of use in some way.

My fiancé and I attended numerous antenatal classes and I read tons of books, forums, blogs. Everyone does talk about breathing which is great, but hypnobirthing is more than that.

Sometimes it's referred to as hypnobirthing, sometimes natal hypnotherapy (a NHS course we signed up to for 1 day at Queens Hospital had this name - yes again another positive for our local hospital!)

Just before we attended the class I went to an expectant parent's event at Mothercare and sat in on a taster session by Magical Baby Moments (a local run business by a fellow Mummy).

The taster touched on what hypnobirthing essentially is and then Christine ran through a brief 'script'. I found it so moving and powerful (I opened my eyes to find them full of tears), I was really impressed.

At this point we had our class already booked up and I'd got a book and CD borrowed from my friend and had started downloading mp3s of relaxation music.

I didn't do hypnobirthing with this business purely because we were already booked up and had CDs and a book. However, I saw she offered Maternity Meet Ups (meeting other mums, practicing techniques, going through scripts and similar) once a week which appealed and I found them useful.

I went a few times as it was close to my due date and each time I found it so helpful - a mixture of discussing your concerns, scripts and techniques, useful excerpts from books and video clips etc. I also felt able to share lots of personal details which then helped me get techniques suitable to my situation.

Each time I experienced or heard about hypnobirthing and natal hypnotherapy I was more and more assured this was going to work for me and it made me calmer about the idea of giving birth and more at ease that things weren't going to go wrong and I could do this. Most of all I started to believe in my body again after our previous loss.

So what did I do?
Listened to Preparing for Birth natal hypnotherapy CD, Colours & Calmness CD and mp3s from Maggie Dowell and the Calm Birth School regularly
Regularly practiced breathing on my own and with my partner and listened to scripts to relax me
Made and printed off birth affirmations (words/phrases to encourage you in labour)
Had a hypnobirthing pack I took to the hospital with me - electric candles, aromatherapy relaxing spray, affirmations to stick on the wall and my 'happy place' photos, iPod with mp3s of my hypnobirthing and natal hypnotherapy soundtracks/scripts
Attended the meet ups close to my due date
Attended a natal hypnotherapy class at my local hospital
Read two books (calm birth school and the hypnobirthing book) as well as material from my natal hypnotherapy class
Had print outs on my fridge reminding me to be confident in my body and baby (I used a lot when they suspected my baby was 'breech')

I won't lie to you my pack got left in my hospital bag in the end! Hey I was a first time Mum! But at home for the hours I was in labour I listened to my CDs on loop and did my breathing.

In terms of hypnobirthing itself for the labour and birth once in hospital I didn't think I'd used any techniques, but I realised I truly had when my partner showed me photos and videos he'd taken of me! Midwives and hospital staff all commented on how well I seemed to be doing as a first time Mum too.

Hypnobirthing truly isn't a weird hippy idea as some people may think, it's really common sense techniques to help you relax and prepare you for labour. It's all about working with and trusting your body and not fighting against it and getting scared and in turn causing yourself more pain. I'd highly recommend it and in fact I introduced a few ladies from my NCT group to the approach!

I knew I wanted to try have my baby in a birthing pool and with minimal medical intervention if possible and hypnobirthing/natal hypnotherapy helped me do that I feel (and a very supportive partner). I used a TENS machine (when contractions started to get strong at home and at hospital) and then gas and air at the hospital hours into labour as my pain relief. The breathing and safe place I'd practiced and things such as thinking of my contractions in waves helped me no end!

I'm all for women bringing up their babies how is best for them and the same with labour - but I seriously want to help get it out there please just have a look into hypnobirthing and natal hypnotherapy I'm sure you'll realise just what an invaluable tool and approach it can be!

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

World Breastfeeding Week

This week is world breastfeeding week

As a woman new to this world of being a mummy it's a topic close to my heart.

I breastfeed.

I'm proud I do it and I love the fact I do it.

I also think mummies who don't breastfeed are amazing too.

I do not like the stigma attached to mums who don't breastfeed as being bad or lazy and making those women feel like failures in some way.

I also do not like the way mums are judged for simply feeding their children in public. When you think all the sights you experience every day how can something so natural be deemed so disgusting?

Years ago the thought of breastfeeding seemed a strange idea to me I admit. Ew a baby sucking on your breasts? Ew. No thank you very much.

This from the girl who always said "er babies come out all covered in gunk when I have a baby I want it cleaned up before they hand it to me"!!

Cut to 9th May 2016 when my beautiful daughter entered this world at 10:10pm and changed our lives forever. And yes she was handed to me immediately and she was beautiful and I kissed her and cuddled her as close as I could. After she was then checked and we'd had 1 hour of skin to skin (thank you Queens Hospital labour ward staff. No the hospital is not all bad as people claim and they were amazing to us!) she was placed on my chest and she latched on immediately.

If I didn't feel amazing already for having got through hours and hours of labour and birth (if not extremely exhausted and in pain!) that sensation of feeding my child was astonishing - I felt so pleased she did it and I felt great I'd been able to do it.

Once I was pregnant this time round I said about half way through my pregnancy I wanted to try and breastfeed, but that I wasn't going to put myself under pressure. If I could great, if I couldn't no big deal.

I was lucky no midwives or NHS staff made me feel I had to breastfeed either - I know a lot of woke unfortunately get forced or guilt tripped into it.

So when the time came I was chilled out about it and yes I've had a successful time.

Well, don't get me wrong there were slight struggles. Such as she fed around midnight when born and then when the midwives came round about 7/730am to check how she was feeding and asked when she was last fed and went a bit crazy that she's not fed since. Yes I was a new tired mum and a bit clueless and had heard the next day midwives come round and show you what to do and as I'd sat up all night holding my newborn child and she'd seemed okay I thought all was well!

I then had to keep a chart and monitor when she fed and when she needed her nappy changed etc. And lo and behold once I knew what I was meant to be doing I fed my baby and our breastfeeding went well.

I tried to let her tell me when she wanted a feed - hand in mouth, turning her head to my chest etc and after a few weeks or less we'd established a 3 hourly feeding routine.

I think my whole being relaxed about whether I can breastfeed or not has helped keep me chilled out and successful in my feeding. Also my type of birth meant breastfeeding could be started naturally.

I've had a few hiccups along the way - very minor I must say and luckily for me - I've had to buy lanolin the godsend for breastfeeding mums (although not used much) and I had a bit of soreness early on a couple of times.

I also was very nervous to try expressing in case my baby went off feeding from me. My amazing health visitor as per usual reassured me and assured me when he came to visit when she was 9 weeks old that my feeding was well established and she would come back to me after the bottle and that Daddy should feed her first and to take our time.

Well, what do you know? 3 weeks later and she's accepted bottle and boob and I've even managed a girls boozy night out (oh the guilt and disappointment though at having to throw those 17oz of ruined milk away!) and I've even attempted to give her the bottle too (whilst covered in a muslin to try mask my scent and hide my boobs haha).

I've also fed in public, I've got a handy little cover to hide my modesty and am comfortable feeding when out.

I choose to cover up when out, some Mums don't. I used to feed her in a chair in her nursery now I do it on the sofa or on the side of the bed in the night. I've tried 'dream feeding' (breastfeeding your baby when they are asleep). I know my posture is not great when I feed her now. But you know what? I am comfortable and happy with what works for us and that's what we'll continue doing. And I hope I can continue to feed my baby with my milk until she's 6 months.

Support is so important - my fiancé has been supportive from the very start as have friends and family. I haven't needed to attend breastfeeding groups for advice but I know others who have and and they're great - use them. Get support and help support other Mums.

However as we mark National Breastfeeding Week, I want to salute all the mummies out there - whether you breastfeed, formula feed, express or whatever. Well done you, you're doing what's right for you and your baby. And if you're struggling with breastfeeding - keep at it if you feel you can and get support. If it's not working for you or bubba then stop. Don't feel guilty, do what feels right for you and little one.