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  1. Image Courtesy Pexels

    Guest blogger Ashley Taylor from disabledparents.org offers advice and information for parents in the US - some great tips here wherever you live...


    Becoming a new parent is tricky for everyone, but parenting with a disability has its own unique challenges. More than
    4 million Americans are successfully parenting with a disability, and you can, too.  Here are a few tips to ease your transition into a brand new family.

    Better Living with Science

    Technology has given us a number of advantages to make infant care much simpler and safer.  If mobility is an issue, make sure your home is as accessible as you can make it. Installing nonslip flooring, expandable door hinges and replacing steps with ramps can all make your life a little bit easier. You’ll need to purchase a crib and changing table that are accessible, or convert standard ones to be within reach.

    If you are hearing impaired, consider purchasing a vibrating baby monitor and an in-sight auto mirror for the rear-facing car seat. If you are visually impaired, put bells on the baby’s socks so you are alerted when he or she rouses from a nap. Texture-marked medicine spoons and talking thermometers are inexpensive and easily available. Assistive technologies, such as CART (Communication Access Real Time Translation) and TRS (Telecommunications Relay Service) can improve access to information and communication for deaf and or blind parents and are federally funded.  

    For all new parents, baby proof the home early and organize it well. Many products exist to isolate particular parts of the home and make it more difficult for baby to get injured and an abundance of storage and organization solutions are as close as your local big-box retail store.

    Have a Strong Support Network

    It really does take a village to raise a child. The importance of having friends and family to call upon in a crisis cannot be overstated. If you’re not blessed with nearby relatives and close friends, consider joining a support group for new parents. You may even be able to find other people with your disability who can share their own advice and experiences to help you better manage your new responsibilities.

    Don’t overlook the social services offered in your area; reach out to churches, advocacy agencies, and civic organizations for information and support. The ADA ensures equal rights to all Americans, which includes the right to the accommodations you need to effectively parent your child.

    Get Your Finances in Order

    Babies are expensive, but you have options for assistance. If you are receiving Social Security disability payments, your dependent child may qualify for auxiliary payments. There are also assorted grants and programs to help fund improvements to your home, or to help pay for assistance, available to many disabled people. You’ll need to look into what is available in your area. But even just getting on a budget and setting up an emergency fund will go a long way toward getting ready for parenthood.

    The Unexpected Benefit of Having Disabled Parents

    Most parents have concerns about their ability to raise a child, and disabled parents are no exception. Many worry that they may not be able to fully meet their child’s needs, or that their child may need to do more for them than other children their own age do for their parents. Take heart, your child might actually benefit from the experience of loving, and being loved by, a disabled parent. Studies have shown that growing up with disabled parents makes children more empathetic, resilient and independent than their peers who grow up without the same challenges. In and of itself, your disability is not a factor in how you will parent your child, and absent other factors, such as substance abuse, your disability should have no negative impact on the outcome of your child-rearing.

    New babies bring upheaval into your life and your home. Your sleep schedule will never be quite the same, and you’re going to develop a tolerance for children’s entertainment and repetitive books and songs. You’re also going to spend the rest of your life loving someone more than you ever imagined possible. But you are up to this challenge. You have coped with your disability and found creative ways to overcome it, to fall in love and form a family. Your special insight and unique experiences will help you to be the best parent you can and raise a wonderful human being.

  2. Lauren in Illinois tells us about her hypnobirthing experience:

    "My first two children were both induced a week late, and with the second one, it was an intense and painful experience. I was really wanting to avoid that again.

    My third birth experience using hypno-birthing was pleasant and satisfying. Hypno-birthing really helped me remain calm, relaxed, and positive. I listened to your mp3s and the calming background music throughout the entire experience. When my labor kept stopping and going, it was frustrating, but I just listened to and repeated the affirmations that I had been practicing and it made me feel calm and empowered.

    I did end up having pitocin and eventually an epidural, but the mp3s really helped me remain positive.

    Thank you for helping me have this wonderful experience! This program is also perfect for parents that already have children. All the classes I found in my area were not only very expensive but were not conducive to parents that would have to find childcare one night a week for multiple months.

    This program is affordable and nice because you can go through it at your own pace.

    I made a collage of all the affirmations and put it on my wall where I saw it every morning when I woke up.

    The only problem I had was staying awake through the hypno-birthing tracks. I tried it at different times of the day and in different places, it didn't matter, I woke up about 20 minutes after the track ended almost every time. I think it is because being pregnant with two kids is exhausting 

    It also takes up a lot of your spare time, however I feel it was totally worth it. I only started this in my third trimester, I may have gone even further without an epidural if I had started this at the beginning of my pregnancy.

    It helped me keep a positive outlook during my pregnancy and during labor, I would recommend hypno-birthing to any new mom-to-be!"

    hypnobirthing affirmations

  3. No, this is an outdated idea. Evidence finds that hypnosis is a state of deep focus. You can be in hypnosis without feeling relaxed (watching a horror film) and you can be relaxed without being in hypnosis.

    Relaxation is often used to help quieten your mind and enter hypnosis (it's super useful for much of the birth journey) but during transition and 2nd stage you might feel more energised than relaxed...

    If you're able to keep focused you're in hypnosis, no matter how relaxed you are.

    (Our cat Chica, relaxing in the sun!)

    Hypnosis and relaxation hypnobirthing

  4. Congratulations to Alexandra in Jersey...

    "I ended up having an unplanned home birth after being sent away from the hospital. The midwife on duty said I was too relaxed to be in labour.

    I gave birth within 3 hours of leaving the hospital and think the hypnobirthing training got me through labour safely.

    Since then, I have had an apology from the maternity ward who are going to review their processes for hypnobirthing patients." 

    [Note - print off your treatment notification  to warn care providers of this!]


    Homebirth in Jersey Hypnobirthing St Helier

  5. Congratulations Catie and Richard!   Love your affirmation...

    "I didn't do the course completely properly but I took on board the positivity and the science behind relaxing, which I had failed to fully absorb from doing NCT with my first baby.

    I did go into labour with a completely different attitude to last time (when I was just terrified). I tried to do my own version of positive thinking and mentally telling my uterus it was doing a ‘good job’ on each contraction. This time was less painful and much faster. I felt much more connected to my body this time, like we were on the same team.

    It was much less painful overall and I didn't have an epidural (but that is partly because it was crazy fast and the hospital was understaffed). I definitely think hypnobirthing made a huge difference to my birth experience and really helped me.

    "Catie Richard Herring

  6. Well done Rose! 

    "Thanks so much for your great resources, my birth went as well as I could have hoped, and really was an amazing experience: a six hour, calm home birth 

    I had lots going on during my pregnancy including the serious illness of a family member, and had been worried that I hadn't been able to focus enough on my birth preparation for it to make a difference, but I'm convinced that the amount that I did manage practice really helped. 

    I had your birth affirmations playing throughout my labour, and found it invaluable in keeping me focused and relaxed ('accepting the sensations', 'handing control over to my body', keeping my body as 'floppy as a ragdoll'!) The midwives even commented on how relaxed I had been: they didn't examine me until I was already 10cms dilated, and the baby arrived about 20 minutes later - I gave one push and then just kept breathing and out he came in a few minutes! 

    I feel completely empowered by the whole experience, and I think about it often in my day to day life with a smile. I really think I will draw on the mental and physical resources I now know I have to get me through other challenges in my life in the future. My little boy, Rio, is also a very tranquil little soul and he's already sleeping through the night (at 11 weeks!) which might have something to do with his gentle arrival, who knows?!"

    Hypnobirthing in Brighton

  7. Just in, from Caroline in Massachusetts 

    "For my first baby, I wanted a drug-free birth and was able to have one thanks to the techniques I learned and practiced in this hypnobirthing course, as well as having a doula. 

    I felt that my birth moved fairly quickly because I was able to just be in the moment and not feel stressed or anxious. I usually have a lot of anxiety and without hypnobirthing and a doula to help me remember the relaxation and breathing techniques, I think the birth would’ve been much longer and harder...however, I was able to deliver my big baby girl, Claire Valerie (9lbs!) in just a few hours with no complications or interventions. 

    I would definitely recommend hypnobirthing to anyone hoping to have a natural and more relaxed birth!"

    Hypnobirthing big baby
  8. Claire in Italy has a tattoo on her back where an epidural would be sited...

    "After meeting with an anaesthesiologist at 30 weeks pregnant and discovering that I was ineligible for an epidural, I actively searched for a program to help me navigate the birthing process, and was SO HAPPY to have discovered hypnobirthing and especially this program!

    I meditated once or twice a day and rehearsed positions with my birth partner, which proved critical to getting through 18 hours of medically induced labor.

    I'm not a super proactive person, but I found these lessons extremely manageable to complete as they were not too long, plus they kept me 100% calm and in control as my due date approached.

    Having listened to the recordings together, my husband coached me through the breathing techniques to cope with the waves, and I was able to rest fully and completely during the 2 minute pauses between waves, which was key to avoiding a cesarean.

    At the end, using the pushing breathing techniques, I pushed out my "little" baby boy (9lbs / 4.1kg, 52cm) in 3 contractions and felt like a superhero through the whole process!"

    epidural tattoo hypnobirthing italy
     
     
    Hypnobirthing in Italy
     
  9. Nicky writes...

    "Hi Alice, I am happy to report I had a fantastic labour. It progressed quickly - in the car I was in active labour - thankfully I learned your visualisation techniques and other coping mechanisms so I put these into place. Had I not done this I don’t think I would have coped as well and labour would not have been as smooth/quick.

    I was able to manage the contractions with ease. I arrived at the hospital and gave birth 15 minutes later with a few pushes and a little gas and air.

    I have recommended your hypnobirthing to others and am very grateful for the practice, it was money well spent. This was my second birth, the first one was very long and painful, resulting in a forceps delivery so I was so glad this one went as well as it did. Thank you!"

    Hypnobirthing Bodmin

  10. Recent feedback reveals that parents want to know more about induction - the benefits, risks and alternatives, what it involves and how it can cause different, very painful sensations compared to spontaneous birth.

    The first hypnobirthing training course I attended in 2006 contained a meme which said: "induction is the quickest way to have a painful, complicated birth." I thought this was a little defeatist! Not all induced mothers have a horrible time, but it's true that induction is more likely to lead to birth plans being thrown out of the window...

    Key points:

    1. The choice is yours - you may accept or decline induction

    2. Relax. Birth won't begin or progress well if mums are stressed or anxious

    3. If mums choose an epidural they haven't 'failed'. Induction is a medical intervention that frequently requires medical pain relief (even if you're the best hypnobirther in the world!) 80% of my induced hypnobirthing mums choose an epidural (vs 10% of my non-induced moms)

    4. Hypnobirthing helps you stay calm and focused, no matter what!


    "Epidural was not where I saw myself going but I was exhausted having had no sleep for days, and it gave me the rest I needed"

    epidural for induction

    20% of births are induced in the UK, why?

    Induction is offered if there's any chance that it might be safer for the baby to be born. Reasons can include a poorly mum or baby, but the most common reasons are pregnancy beyond 41+ weeks, or her waters have broken for a while without contractions starting yet.

    I'm healthy, low-risk and 41+ weeks - should I accept induction?

    It's up to you. If mothers await spontaneous birth after 41+ weeks the risk of a baby dying during pregnancy, birth or shortly afterwards is thought to be around 0.16% (between 1-2 in 1000). With inducing birth at 41+ weeks the risk may be reduced to 0.07% (around 1 in 1000) (if you are over 40 years of age the risks may be at a similar level after 40+ weeks). This NHS leaflet is excellent at explaining the research and options.


    What about the waters breaking at full term?

    For nearly 1 in 10 women, waters break before their contractions start. They usually commence naturally within a day or two and unless there are any further concerns, the offer of induction should be delayed for up to 24 hours. Induction is offered because the risk of a baby being born with a serious infection might be increased to appox 1% (from a background figure of 0.5%)


    What if I decline induction?

    The UK national clinical guidelines state:

    "If a woman chooses not to have induction of labour, her decision should be respected. Healthcare professionals should discuss the woman's care with her from then on."

    'Expectant management' means awaiting spontaneous birth. Increased monitoring is offered including ultrasound scans and CTG monitoring a few times a week. 

    induction_hypnobirthing


    What does induction involve?

    The aim is to encourage the natural physiological birth process as much as possible...

    1. Pre-induction: a cervical sweep is typically offered at a mum's routine 41 week appointment. If the cervix has shortened and is stretchy enough, the careprovider can insert two gloved fingers into the vagina, up through the opening of the cervix and sweep their fingers around in a circular motion, to separate the bag of waters from the neck of the womb.

    Benefits = for 1 in 8 women it might reduce the chance of further induction methods

    Risks = invasive, discomfort, bleeding, irregular contractions, disappointment
     
    Alternatives = awaiting spontaneous birth


    2. Prostaglandin drug: a mother is admitted to the antenatal ward at hospital. If her cervix is closed and hasn't thinned much, a dose of artificial prostaglandin (a tablet, gel or plastic tampon) will be inserted high up in the vagina. The aim is to 'ripen' the cervix to trigger natural contractions to start, or at least enough so that the bag of waters can be broken the following day (amniotomy). Women are encouraged to leave the ward and go for a walk, or in some areas may be able to go home and return later. Prostaglandin treatment can take up to a couple of days.  

    Benefits = around 30% of women give birth naturally without further intervention

    Risks = vaginal / cervical soreness, hypertonic uterus, fetal distress syndrome, abnormal labour affecting the baby (between 1:10 - 1:100), nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea (between 1:100 - 1:1000), disappointment, boredom, lack of sleep, birth partner sent home at night

    Alternatives =
     await spontaneous birth, ask about balloon catheter dilation or caesarean 


    3. Amniotomy / breaking the waters: On delivery ward, if the cervix has thinned and opened enough, a long crochet hook-like device is passed through the vagina and cervix to rupture the amniotic sac. This is done to encourage prostaglandin release / physiological birth to begin, or before the commencement of artificial oxytocin infusion to trigger contractions.

    Benefits = Some research suggests quicker progress with less intervention following amniotomy

    Risks = scratching the baby, maternal discomfort, introducing infection, small risk of cord prolapse or accidentally puncturing a major blood vessel

    Alternatives = await spontaneous birth, ask about more prostaglandin ripening / balloon catheter dilation or caesarean

    "Although nothing seemed to have gone to plan I remained very calm throughout the whole experience and what was 3 days seemed like 1 with the most important thing in the end a healthy & happy baby!"


    4. Intravenous artificial oxytocin drip: On delivery ward, a synthetic hormone (Pitocin / Syntocinon) is infused to initiate and strengthen contractions to dilate the cervix and aid the baby's passage through the pelvis. Continuous monitoring is required to observe the rate of contractions and the baby's heartrate.

    Benefits = can dilate the cervix and birth the baby without the need for caesarean

    induction_hypnobirthing_picture

    Risks = Common: abnormal pain requiring epidural, uterine hyperstimulation with fetal distress, headache, nausea, vomiting, slow, fast or irregular heartbeat (mum), failed induction leading to caesarean

    Other potential things to note include reduced mobility, and CTG may also increase the risk of caesarean. Epidural also increases the chance of having an assisted delivery (forceps / ventouse)

    Alternatives = await spontaneous birth, or ask for a caesarean


    "My contractions escalated extremely fast and I only managed to use breathing techniques for about one hour till the pain got unbearable and I asked for an epidural at 5 cm dilated. The relief was instant!"



    ... Induction is what it is really! With effective preparation and pain relief (be that hypnobirthing or epidural) parents can have a wonderful birth... Read a collection of hypnobirthing induction stories to see how we got on!


    (This guide is provided for information only, it is not medical advice. Parents should do their own research and consult with their local care providers)

  11. Well done Harriet and welcome baby Emily!

    "Hi Alice :)

    Just wanted to email and let you know that yesterday (30:11:2016) I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy, baby girl at Helston Birth Unit; I was lucky enough to deliver in the pool as planned.

    It was the most incredible experience of my life and this is mainly due to the Hypnobirthing course I did with you. I cannot recommend you and your work enough!

    Labour was 12 hours from my waters breaking naturally, to baby being born and I did it all with absolutely no pain relief! I am beyond proud of what we achieved! And I can safely say before meeting you it's something I never thought possible.

    Baby and I are both doing so well.

    Thanks again Alice. I couldn't have done it without you!"



  12. Thank you Simone... I love my job!


    "Alice has given me so much confidence to feel relaxed about giving birth. I am currently 36 weeks and planning to have a natural birth in a midwife led birthing unit. The hypnobirthing sessions led by Alice created an opportunity for my partner and I to talk out loud and explore our feelings, reservations, to someone totally neutral. 

    After our lengthly discussions I felt my partner and I fully understood our birth plan and how we can support each other. Not only with the hypnobirthing guidance but useful tips for my partner to assist me in breathing and helping me to feel grounded and comfortable. Alice gave us her undivided attention and never seemed in a rush. I am a yoga teacher so was extremely interested in the benefits of hypnobirthing. I am yet to see if I can tune in to that mindset, positive thought process and breathing technique but for now as soon as I create space to listen to the soundtracks at home I feel profoundly different. I feel deeply connected to my body, my breath and our baby. 

    I would highly recommend Alice to anyone. She is professional, so welcoming and natural and has helped me immensely. 

    Thank you Alice - Simone Pantling, Okehampton

  13. What a lovely message to receive from Ali in Virginia (USA) this morning! <3


    "Hi Alice, like many others before me I wanted to let you know how successful my birth was using your program.

    I delivered my beautiful baby boy, 8 pounds 10 ounces (22 inches) completely naturally in 6 hours. It was the most rewarding experience of my life and I felt fully prepared thanks to your course.

    Although I didn't play the MP3s during labor, through each contraction I continued to tell myself "relax, release, open", "one step closer to your baby."

    I did not have any anxieties going into birth and never had one during. My doctor said it was the calmest birthing room she had ever been in.

    Thank you for all of your amazing work!! I feel fully prepared for any future births I may have!"

    Hypnobirthing Virginia

     

  14. Another positive hypnobirthing story despite things not going quite to plan! Well done Vicki & Andy, welcome Rowan :)

    "So here is how hypnobirthing helped me... Due to high blood pressure I was not allowed to have the water birth I wanted, and I was getting worried that I would be convinced to get induced. So on my due date I relaxed and asked my baby to come.

    During some bedtime fun with my partner at around 11pm I got my first contraction! I decided to try and sleep but unfortunately the surges came thick and fast and I started to be quite sick. I was very thirsty but with every bit of water I took in it came back out! Despite this I remained really calm and relaxed and tried to breathe through each surge. I must admit I found this quite difficult due to the tightening around my tummy but I continued to do so.

    We rang the midwife in the morning and she suggested we went straight to Treliske (due to my blood pressure and signs of pre-eclampsia). The car journey was tough but I remained calm and listened to my relaxing music whilst laying on the back seat. We stopped a few times so I could be sick and took our time - my partner driving carefully over any bumps!

    When we got to the hospital (at around midday) the midwife thought I looked very pale so took us to a room. A urine test revealed I was very dehydrated so was put on a drip straight away.

    We put on my music, I smelt the lovely frankincense oil which had a very hypnotic effect, and carried on relaxing and breathing. My partner was amazing - during pretty much every surge he pressed points on my lower back which made them bearable, and tried feeding me bits of food (I still couldn't keep anything down).

    The midwives popped in every so often and always said how lovely it smelt and how well we were doing. The surges were coming every 5-10 minutes and in hindsight I wish I had walked around a bit more but I just wanted to be still on the bed.

    There were some amazing moments of bonding between my partner and myself, and I had a lovely deep hot bath at around 8pm which was amazingly relaxing and really helped me to get on top of things. One affirmation I kept on repeating in my head was "its not pain its power" which really helped me get through it.

    At around 11pm a midwife checked me and was surprised to find I was 8 cm dilated! She commented that there were not that many women having their first baby who got that far with only a paracetamol and very little fuss! I felt quite proud of myself and decided to have some gas and air as I thought it wouldn't be too long until baby arrived.

    They took me up to delivery suite where I think the change of scene made me go a bit off-track and I started to get quite tired. I still kept up the breathing and relaxing. I had another whole night of it, and by the next morning I was still only 8cm! With my blood pressure rising and ketones in my urine it was gently suggested that I could go for an epidural and augmentation. We decided this would be the best option as I was so tired and still could not eat much. So our beautiful boy Rowan came into the world around 1pm two days past his due date, after an hour and a half of pushing. He was 8lb15 and a quarter and it was noted how calm he remained throughout the whole labour.

    Although I did not have the water birth I wanted I feel Alice's hypnobirthing course and MP3's really helped me in the few months before having Rowan. I felt calm, informed and prepared.

    Although the birth was tough going, there were some really lovely moments that I just don't think would have happened if I was scared or panicking.

    I would recommend to anyone who is going to have a baby to do the course. Alice has a lovely calm and gentle manner which instilled a sense of ancient womanly wisdom to me that I knew was there - it just needed a little coaxing out !

    Thank you Alice

    Love from Vicki, Andy and baby Rowan xx


    Hypnobirthing pre-eclampsia preeclampsia