Alice's blog...

 RSS Feed

  1. Ok... We're not advising medical coma as the best way to give birth, but vaginal childbirth whilst in a coma can, and does happen, as the stories below attest...

    coma childbirth limbic
    The parts of our brain and nervous system in control of the birth process are primitive, instinctive and automatic. Our bodies usually know how to get our babies out, all by themselves.

    During birth, our cervix ripens, our uterus muscles gather up rhythmically and the neck of the womb begins to open. Our babies inch down and down as the muscle fibres in the womb shorten, then the powerful muscles of the uterus begin to actively push babies down the birth canal - a powerful expulsive reflex that does not require a mother's conscious assistance from the muscles of her abdomen (although she may feel very much like going with those strong urges!)

    When our neocortex is quietened (that part of our brain that analyses, overthinks and worries), our innate instincts take over, our bodies simply flow through the birth process, rather than forcing or indeed fighting it. People call this optimal mental state the 'birth zone'.

    All (non-comatose) mammals require certain conditions to be met in order for this primitive physiology to kick in... that is - feeling relaxed before birth commences, and having a very quiet, warm, safe space where we feel loved, supported and free to do what feels good from one contraction to the next.

    "One cannot actively 'help' a woman to give birth naturally. The goal is to avoid disturbing her unnecessarily" Michel Odent, surgeon & childbirth expert

    Examples of women giving birth in a comatose or 'vegetative state' (what a horrible term!) are a stark reminder of how birth is essentially an automatic physical process, requiring little or no conscious input, even when the body is in crisis. Thankfully all of the following birth stories have happy endings, with the mothers waking up...

    Emma, UK...

    Emma fell into a coma after contracting pneumonia at 27 weeks of pregnancy. She went into labour prematurely two weeks later, and gave birth to a healthy daughter named Amy (3lbs 5oz). Nurses only noticed that Amy was on her way when her head emerged! Emma regained consciousness a further two weeks later, and was well enough to be discharged home after another two weeks. She says of her birth:

    "It seemed incredible to think that I had given birth naturally whilst I was still in a coma. I hadn’t consciously pushed or experienced a single contraction, yet my little girl was here and she was healthy. It just seemed like a miracle. It’s amazing to think how Amy came into the world. Even when I was unconscious, my body knew what to do. I’d love to be able to remember giving birth to her, but I’m just grateful that we are both alive and healthy now."


    Chastity, USA...

    Chastity became comatose after a car accident in 2001. It was discovered upon admission that she was just two weeks pregnant. She carried her baby to full term whilst in a semi-conscious state. Chastity could sometimes look at people when they spoke to her, but could not move or speak. Her doctors decided to induce her, so as to ensure close monitoring of the process. Chastity gave birth vaginally to Alexis Michelle (7lbs, 7oz) in just four hours. Dr Baha Sibai, chief of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at University Hospital in Cincinnati, said Mrs. Cooper "surprised everybody" with a quick delivery and the obstacles she overcame. Her husband believes that she smiled at her baby daughter following her birth, and Chastity's amazing recovery continued over the subsequent years, regaining her cognitive functions, movement and speech. Her son Aaron said in 2013 "She is now doing great... we just hope her next move is getting out of her wheelchair..."

    Abby, USA...

    Abby was put into an induced coma after fainting on New Year's Eve. She had been fighting the H1N1 virus which had developed into pneumonia. Abby went into labour naturally at 34 weeks of pregnancy. Doctors reported how she had progressed through the natural stages of birth and, her Grandmother says, her body "actually pushed". Waking up several days later, Abby descibes her son Douglas' birth as a 'miracle', exclaiming "How many people give birth when they're in a coma?!"


    Becky, USA...

    Becky was also put into a medically induced coma after contracting H1N1. Her doctor Dr. Asad Sheikh said "She was actually on the ventilator. So really the labor process itself was one that, by and large, occurred with her body responding going into labor on its own." Chase was born and did well in the NICU. Becky was brought out of her coma five weeks later, to meet her son. Becky said "I always thought it was the next day.. I didn't know it was weeks later so it was like - 'Oh, well what happened?"
     

    The world's most popular affordable online hypnobirthing course is just £25 / $35 ~ click here for your preview and free hypnobirthing MP3!

  2. My full set of rainbow hypnobirthing affirmations are now available to download or print (via step 10 of the online hypnobirthing course)

    Absorbing positive affirmations regularly can help you feel more positive about your upcoming birth.

    If you're writing your own, make sure they are worded in the present tense, and positively.

    e.g. "I relax and release with each surge, I cope with the natural sensations" is better than "I will release tension".

    Display your positive hypnobirthing affirmations in places you will see them regularly, or perhaps as your mobile / laptop wallpaper.


    hypnobirthing affirmations online

  3. online hypnobirthing classes

    I'm really pleased about how successful my online hypnobirthing course has been. Subscriptions have been rising month on month since it launched in September 2013, and I'm now able to donate £1 from each purchase to the charity Birthrights.


    Most people seem to be based in the UK and America, with some accessing it from Canada, Australia and a smattering of other countries in Europe, Asia and Africa. It's available pretty much anywhere with a wifi connection!

    I think that everyone who wants to access hypnobirthing should be able to do so easily and quickly. Folks can often begin their practice within mere minutes of purchase, even from thousands of miles away.

    When I first trained in birth hypnosis, hypnobirthing was only available as part of face-to-face antenatal classes. What I love about delivering my hypnobirthing course online via distance learning, is that I can reach a much bigger audience - both geographically, and also financially... For many, £30 is a lot more affordable than £200.

    In terms of outcomes, they're pretty good too. My recent postnatal mini survey showed that there was only one emergency caesarean birth out of almost 70 spontaneous births, 90% of mums birthing naturally do so with no medical pain relief, and most babies are born within 6 hours of the first stage. My survey is ongoing and I hope to bring more data to you soon...

    Hypnobirthing home study / distance learning can be a great way to prepare for your baby's birth during pregnancy. I'm always on hand to answer your queries too.

    For more information and to sign up visit my hypnobirthing online course page :)


  4. 20141124_211627
    "I just wanted to drop you line to let you know that our gorgeous daughter Amara Elizabeth was born on the 24th Nov (only 2 days overdue) and weighed in at 7lb 3oz. I went to Treliske at 1pm for a labour assessment as I was having contractions, but not sure if they were real or practice. I had been suffering with a harsh cough and my coughing bouts also bought on contractions (or so it seemed to me) so we wanted to be clear if this was it. They confirmed that I was indeed in labour and 3cm dilated, but as I had practiced hypnobirthing, they said best for me to go home and put into practice what I had learnt and to come back in the evening when contractions would be closer together 1 min on, 1 min off!

    However, we were not at home for long and by 4pm, we were back at Treliske as contractions much more frequent and powerful. They examined me and I was 8cm dilated and transferred straight to a delivery room. Amara was born just before 7pm with the assistance of gas and air only and in her waters - amazing!!

    The midwife commented on how relaxed and calm I was throughout and that no doubt contributed to the quick and straightforward delivery. This of course is all down to the hypnobirthing techniques. We had the music playing, lights dimmed and throughout the whole thing I kept thinking of relaxing, releasing, breathing through each sensation and ultimately listening to my body. As you mentioned during the course, I did avoid watching any films/TV programmes of people giving birth as I didn't want any preconceptions about how I should act/how it should be and I think this really worked. I found my primal instincts just took over and I went with what they were telling me!

    Thanks so much for introducing us to hypnobirthing, I do strongly feel this contributed greatly to our straightforward, quick and easy birth, so I cannot thank you enough for that!"

  5. A lovely doula testimonial, just in today! Well done to Lian, Paul and little Sebastian - have a safe trip back to Zimbabwe :)

    "We came home from Zimbabwe to have our first child as we wanted to be somewhere we felt safe and supported. Our hope, should all go well, was to have a water birth at home but whatever happened we decided we wanted to have the support of a doula to either facilitate the most natural birth possible or to help us navigate 'the system' should anything go awry.

    From day one (week 35 for us!) Alice was reassuring and supportive, she provided the hypnobirthing course as part of her doula services and this really helped with our relaxation and mindset especially in the weeks to come!

    As our due-date came and went and the days ticked by there was a creeping realisation that we may not be getting the homebirth we were hoping for. At term + 12 we were asked to consider an induction... Alice came straight to our house when we called and helped us discuss our options - we really felt that there was no judgement but having her there as a knowledgeable and impartial facilitator enabled us to be happy with our decision to go in for monitoring but not automatically agree to an induction at that point.

    Unfortunately a scan at term +15 indicated that fluid levels were very low and so with this added risk factor we agreed to an induction. Alice agreed to attend us in hospital as the syntocinon drip was set up and at this point it was wonderful to have a familiar face amidst a sea of strangers (I have to note that the care we received at Treliske from the antenatal and delivery teams was nothing but wonderful).

    Sebastian was born, happy and healthy, but with a rather large accompaniment of meconium on the 30th May at term + 18!

    In the hospital environment, in what became a highly medicalised birth, we felt that Alice's continued presence during labour was not necessary, although we were able to use the hypnobirthing techniques she had taught us to help remain calm and positive about what was happening.

    But in the days that followed, including a somewhat stressful time on the postnatal ward (we felt rather 'bullied' and then neglected by the staff there, with the exception of a wonderful maternity support worker), we relied very heavily on her continued support. She was available to us on the phone at all times and visited us twice once we returned home. To 'de-brief' with her was invaluable and I think, alongside the wonderful support of our family, was responsible for such an easy time adjusting to life with a newborn - 3 weeks in and we seem to have escaped the 'baby blues' completely!

    We already know that all being well we'd like another member of our family quite soon - we would definitely return to Cornwall to have another baby and would be calling on Alice yet again! It would be wonderful if no.2 comes of their own accord and we get the natural home birth we would like, but nothing in this world can really be planned and especially not labour - being well supported by Alice through the journey made coming to terms with a change of plan so much easier."

  6. It's been a busy few weeks of doula appointments and teaching hypnobirthing home workshops here in Cornwall...

    I was also asked by a new mummy to encapsulate her baby's placenta for consumption!

    placenta encapsulation in CornwallHere's the finished product after being steamed, dehydrated, ground and popped into vegetarian capsules. Around 80-150 pills are normally yielded. This placenta was quite wee, but there's 62 capsules in there - enough for at least 10 days postpartum.

    There's a lack of clinical research controlling for the placebo effect, but anecdotally many mums swear by this... Believing the pills to increase milk supply and keep them balanced and upbeat
    . Mum says:


    "My milk's going really good after 5 days and baby being 8 weeks early. I really feel its helping yay! 😊"

  7. hypnobirthing amazon mp3


    I've just checked out if I have any reviews for my 'Positive Birth Preparation' MP3 on Amazon. Since they started selling it in September last year I've had 63 sales and three reviews... All five star!


    "This is a Great track to take you through labour from start to finish . I would recommend it to any woman preparing for labour."

    "Great track and for a small price under a pound! Can't really go wrong with the relaxation techniques. Yet to use it through actual birthing, only on prep so far."

    "My friend recommended this to me as she said it always helped her to sleep and she was always asleep before it had finished. She was right. I have real trouble sleeping and obviously with pregnancy this is exacerbated. I find this really helps. Made me a little emotional at first if I'm honest but really does do the trick and I'm very glad I got it and for the price, well it's amazing."



  8. After a birth I attended recently where a well-meaning midwife exclaimed to my mum:

    "You did so well, you didn't need a doula!"

    I felt compelled to add the following to my doula page...

    "It's a challenge to exactly conceptualise a doula's role... and just like you, we're all different! Some believe in 'mothering the mother', others believe in teaching and empowering parents to 'do it themselves'. But wherever a doula finds herself along that continuum (and she's adaptable depending on your needs), she offers neutral information, guidance and non-judgemental support to the whole family, at all times, no matter how your baby is born.

    I like to work with you and your chosen birth partner extensively during the antenatal period. I offer highly regarded hypnobirthing tuition and resources, and we fully explore the birth process, your rights, choices, how to communicate effectively with care-providers, early baby care and more. I've been described by parents as their 'go-to person'.

    Subsequently, by the time of the birth my families are very well prepared, relaxed, confident and require little (if any) intensive 'hand-holding'. I work alongside your birth partner in maintaining an optimal space and ensuring that your care remains woman-centred. If you're coping well my presence is simply familiar, reassuring, quietly encouraging and low-key.


    "The guide is self-effacing and scanty of words. When her task is accomplished and things have been completed, the people say "We ourselves have achieved it!"

    (Tao Teh Ching)


  9. Much in the news today about recent British Medical Journal published research on homebirth safety for mothers.

    The study sample included 150,000 low-risk women who gave birth in the Netherlands between 2004-2006.

    For women expecting their first babies, their risk of being admitted to intensive care or needing a large blood transfusion was pretty similar for planned homebirths vs planned hospital births:

    2.3 per 1000 vs 3.1 per 1000 (respective safety 99.77% vs 99.69%)

    For women who had given birth before, their risk of postpartum haemorrhage was significantly less following planned homebirths vs planned hospital births:

    19.6 per 1000 vs 37.6 per 1000 (respective safety 98.04% vs 96.24%)

    Ank de Jonge, midwife and senior researcher on the study said:

    "This comes from a good risk selection system, good transport in place and well-trained midwives."

    In response, Dr Tony Falconer, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said:

    "The rate of home birth in the UK is low (2.4%) in comparison to the Netherlands (20%) where the proximity to specialist services with short transfer times is the norm.

    "The same advantages are not always available across the UK, so the safety of home birth has to be considered in the context of the availability of local services."

    In contrast, Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives welcomed the research, saying that the choice of homebirth should be promoted and available to all low-risk women, but often low staffing levels mean many women who wanted a homebirth are denied that right.

    The Birthplace in England study published 2011 also found benefits of homebirth for mothers, namely a reduced 10% risk of having medical interventions for those who planned a homebirth, compared to a 40% risk of such for those who planned a hospital birth.

    I've certainly known of families who have, when told on the phone that "there are no midwives available for your homebirth" have insisted upon midwives attending, for personal preference and also valid safety reasons, e.g.

    "I will not be putting myself and my baby at increased risk of giving birth in hospital"

    - and, sure enough, midwives are 'found' somehow... But not everyone knows that they can decline transfer or would feel comfortable doing so.

    But this research is good news :)

  10. Feel free to copy or adapt the following for your birth preferences document if you'e planning a caesarean birth. There are no right or wrong choices, but the following is provided as food for thought. You can totally own this birth!

    Your preferences should be fully discussed with your care providers during pregnancy, and this plan also serves to remind them on the day.

    Some expectant parents who are planning vaginal births choose to staple a 'just in case' caesarean plan to their birth preferences too...


    Birth Preferences...

    Thanks for being part of our baby's birth! The following preferences assume that all is well. If anything changes please keep me fully informed. I plan to be an active participant in my baby's birth:

    • IV to be placed in my left arm (non-dominant side)
    • Our own birth music to be played in theatre
    • Please help us to have a calm, quiet, respectful atmosphere
    • Gown and ECG to be arranged to allow for skin-to-skin
    • Ask me if I'd like the drapes lowered to see my baby being born
    • Please birth my baby from my body as slowly and calmly as possible
    • Please wait for my baby to begin breathing before clamping the cord
    • Place my baby on my chest ASAP
    • At any times I am not holding my baby, my birth partner will do so
    • Do not announce our baby's gender- we want to discover this ourselves
    • Our baby is to receive oral / injection of vitamin K
    • We will / will not be keeping our baby's placenta


    Positive caesarean tips


    Positive c-section

    These photographs are from the birth of our youngest Oska who was born via c-section in July 2010. The one on the right is a photograph Jay took of me watching Oska being checked over and wrapped up before being brought back for our first snuggles. This was such a huge moment for me as we lost a baby before getting pregnant with Oska and I spent the whole pregnancy in fear ... Seeing him out of me, hearing him crying was the most blissfully relaxing moment, just complete and utter joy. The photo on the left I took of Jay having his first cuddle with Oska whilst I was still being stitched up ... I'm pretty sure the mws/OBs thought I had lost my mind ... still worth every odd look to see forever how tenderly your partner is even after being a seasoned daddy of four! :)

    Bekkie, Bambino Art Photography
    , UK Birth Photographer,

     



  11. For those of you wanting to see more natural births, and more of Virginia after last night's 'Home Delivery'  documentary!

    Amy is seen practicing HypnoBirthing® The Mongan Method. This is a method I have trained in and used for a while, but I share the same particular reservations about the approach as Virginia, which is partly why I have moved on to develop my own approach to hypnobirthing.

    These films are produced by Berny Bos and shown on her fantastic online birth channel MyBirth.tv






  12. Highly recommended watching! Put this in your diaries...

    ITV1 will be screening 'Home Delivery' at primetime on Thurs 21st March 2013. This program was made in conjunction with Kent independent midwife Virginia Howes, who wanted to show how different birth can be to the dramatic births and patriarchal outdated practice often depicted on shows like C4's 'One Born Every Minute'.

    The show follows the births of three women who planned their homebirths with Virginia. Some require assistance, but this promises to be a realistic look at birth rather than dramatisation and scaremongering.

    Here's the ITV1 synopsis:

    "50 years ago 30% of women gave birth at home, now it’s less than 3%.

    Up and down the country a rare event is taking place, women are going against convention and having their babies at home. With privileged and intimate access to homes across the UK, we follow the magical moment when independent midwife Virginia, brings new life into the world.

    We follow Virginia’s unpredictable and exciting life as she races to make sure she arrives in time – before the baby does. And meet three incredible women who are going against convention and saying 'no' to a hospital birth and instead, choosing to labour in their living rooms"
     
    Please spread the word! If there are enough viewers and support for the show perhaps there will be more commissioned. The media has a huge influence in how our culture perceives childbirth...

  13. Limitations... This is a small sample of women who chose to practice hypnobirthing. Data is included from all women who judged themselves to have practiced 'enough' or 'extensively' by the onset of labour. Women practiced in different ways. Data is excluded from those experiencing rare complications that typically affect just 0.5% to 3% of babies nationally.

    Results... The following bar charts display results as percentages

     Hypnobirthing outcomes Cornwall
    vbac rate hypnobirthing
     hypnobirthing pain relief statistics

    *If births involving syntocinon for induction or augmentation are excluded, the epidural rate was 0%

    homebirth rate hypnobirthingu
    hypnobirthing results Cornwall



  14. I walk along holding your 2-year-old hand, basking in
    the glow of our magical relationship.

    Suddenly I feel a kick from within, as if to remind me
    that our time alone is limited. And I wonder: how
    could I ever love another child as I love you?

    Then he is born, and I watch you. I watch the pain you
    feel at having to share me as you've never shared me
    before. I hear you telling me in your own way, Please
    love only me. And I hear myself telling you in
    mine, I can't, knowing, in fact, that I never can
    again.

    You cry. I cry with you. I almost see our new baby as
    an intruder on the precious relationship we once
    shared. A relationship we can never quite have again.

    But then, barely noticing, I find myself attached to
    that new being, and feeling almost guilty. I'm afraid
    to let you see me enjoying him - as though I am
    betraying you.

    But then I notice your resentment change, first to
    curiosity, then to protectiveness, finally to genuine
    affection.

    More days pass, and we are settling into a new
    routine. The memory of days with just the two of us is
    fading fast. But something else is replacing those
    wonderful times we shared, just we two.

    There are new times - only now, we are three.

    I watch the love between you grow, the way you look at
    each other, touch each other. I watch how he adores
    you - as I have for so long. I see how excited you are
    by each of his new accomplishments.

    And I begin to realise that I haven't taken something
    from you, I've given something to you. I notice that I
    am no longer afraid to share my love openly with both
    of you.

    I find that my love for each of you is as different as
    you are, but equally strong.

    And my question is finally answered, to my amazement.
    Yes, I can love another child as much as I love you -
    only differently.

    And although I realise that you may have to share my
    time, I now know you'll never share my love. There's
    enough of that for both of you - you each have your
    own supply.

    I love you - both.
    And I thank you both for blessing my life.


    Author unknown


    Expecting a sibling poem
  15. The Hospital Episode Statistics Maternity data set for 2011/12 was released a couple of days ago. Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust seems to perform better than other England trusts on average:

    • 18.6% total caesarean rate vs 25%
    • 8.3% elective caesarean rate vs 10%
    • 10.3% emergency caesarean rate vs 15%
    • 12% ventouse/forceps delivery rate vs 13%
    • 19.1% of women delivered their babies in an entirely midwifery-led setting vs 10.7%
    • 51.2% of women gave birth 'unassisted' (meaning without medical intervention) vs 45.5%
  16. Nobody really knows the origin or meaning behind Sheela-Na-Gig figures. They've been discovered all over Europe, usually in places like churches and castles.

    There's a theory that some may have been used as 'birthing stones' by women in labour... Perhaps for visualisation and affirmation!

    Maybe I could make some...


    sheela-na-gig