Archive for the ‘birth fear’ Category

Meerkats and Perinatal Mental Health: What is the one thing I do when meeting some-one who is depressed or anxious?

November 9, 2016

It’s help them to calm their brain.

meerkat-alert

Picture a meerkat, up on the tips of his feet, eyes and ears peeled for danger. Red Alert. The meerkat is on patrol for the night. His brain and nervous system are hypervigilant, sensitive to all dangers, out to protect his clan.

Now picture the other miakats (that’s how I like to spell it!). They are asleep. They are warm and curled up, maybe cuddling up to a fellow miakat. They feel safe. They feel relaxed. They are resting and reenergising for the next round of activity.

They swap. Once the patrol miakat has done his patrol, he can rest, while some-one else takes over patrol duty.

The problem with anxiety and depression, is that the brain’s alert/danger system is stuck to “on”, leading to exhaustion. This alert/danger system shows itself in the inability to sleep well, the constant worrying about whether you are good enough, or whether your baby is healthy enough, or whether other people are talking about you, constant restlessness mixed with tiredness, irritability, and so on.

So, the first thing I do when I meet some-one who is depressed or anxious, is help their brain to switch from the alert/danger system, into the calm/relaxed system. I relax them in session, and then I give them a relaxation MP3 to listen to every evening as they go to bed. It’s like a sleeping tablet that has no side effects. It’s like a respite for the brain, from that constant struggle. It’s the start of things getting better for them.

meerkat-sleeping

Mia Scotland

Clinical Psychologist

http://www.yourbirthright.co.uk.

Have you written a postnatal care plan yet?

October 10, 2016

You wrote a birth plan, because birth is a big deal. But did you write a postnatal care plan? After your baby is born, your whole body and mind are in transition. Transition can be so tough, it’s even got a psychiatric label attached to it (Adjustment Disorder). Your body is physically transitioning in crazy, magical ways, and you are mentally transforming to get used to being instantly interrupt-able, having strange sleep patterns, putting yourself second, and grieving your lost carefree past. You are learning to know and love your baby. (Honeymoons were designed to help you love your new partner. Babymoons should also be designed to help you love your baby). Your brain is processing the birth. The list goes on and on and on and on. So, don’t just go home and hope for the best. Here is an example of what your postnatal care plan might look like:

“My Postnatal Care Plan

I have written a postnatal care plan because I very much want to enjoy my first few weeks getting to know my baby. I am aware that I have a tendency to do too much, and to feel guilty when I’m not getting stuff done. I want to ensure that this doesn’t happen following the birth of my baby, and so I am planning how to take care of myself in the first two precious weeks with my baby.

Generally, I wish to spend time skin to skin with my baby, I wish to establish breastfeeding, and I would like my husband to be an integral part of this with us.

Immediately upon coming home:

My husband would like to carry me and our baby over the threshold.

I would like a warm bath with rejuvenating bath salts, and then I would like to get into fresh (new) pyjamas and into our king size bed with new fresh sheets, and my baby.

I would like the lights kept low, my phone and my remote control next to me.

I would like to eat a huge, warm, filling meal of cottage pie and peas, washed down with camomile tea and a glass of champagne.

I would like my husband to join us as much as possible in bed.

For the first two weeks after coming home:

I would like visitors to stay away for at least 12 hours, apart from the midwife and my lactation consultant, who I have pre-arranged support with.

In the first three days, I would like very close members of my family only, to visit.

I do not want my baby to be held by anybody else in the first three days, other than her father.

We have arranged for a food delivery of fresh fruit, salads, sandwiches, chocolates and champagne. There are plenty of ready cooked meals in the freezer too.

I have arranged for a cleaner to come in every other day to tidy and clean the house, as per my husband’s requests (she will not clean our bedroom).

I have specific herbal/homeopathic remedies that I will be taking each day.

After the first three days, I have arranged for a postnatal doula to come in and provide emotional and practical support every three days.

My husband will help to ensure that I get plenty of rest, by regularly encouraging me to go to bed, and ensuring that the household and visitors are taken care of.

My husband will take a few hours out of the house each day, to do something to help him to feel refreshed also.

According to how I feel, I plan to spend most of the first two weeks in and out of bed. I might take a walk or potter around the house if I feel restless, but if not, I will stay in bed to recover and adjust, both physically and mentally, and to help me to fall in love with my baby and establish breastfeeding.”

What do you think? If you are thinking “that’s a bit overindulgent” then you are totally not getting how important this time is. If you are thinking “it’s only relevant to rich people” then drop the champagne and the au-pair, but stick with bed and help from family. If you’re thinking “what if I’m a single mum” then think even harder about your postnatal care plan, because support matters, whether its from a husband, a mother, the NHS, a best friend or social services.

It’s my prediction that postnatal care plans will become more and more common. If you’ve ever used one, I’d love to hear from you.

Mia Scotland

Perinatal Clinical Psychologist

http://www.yourbirthright.co.uk

If you don’t pee in front of your partner, think twice about having him at the birth of your baby.

July 21, 2016

 

We are on a girlie week-end, climbing hills in the Derbyshire dales, and staying in a bed and breakfast. We are all escaping motherhood for a day or two. Over breakfast one morning, a conversation begins about peeing in the company of our husbands. I am surprised to hear a few women say they have never had a pee with their husband in the room. It turns out they have never broken wind in front of him either. I kind of think this is an awesome feat of bodily control that I wouldn’t be able to achieve!  It reminded me of how different we all are.

But it got me thinking, that if you feel embarrassed to go to the loo with your partner in the room, what must it be like to try to have a baby with him in the room? Having a baby is not particularly alluring, it involve body parts, it involves smells and noises, it is not “lady like” particularly, or “sexy”.

I have been thinking these things for a while, but not had the courage to write them down. There is something, even in our modern day liberated lives, that is not okay about writing about women’s bodies as functional rather than objects of desire. So, as you read this, notice any discomfort you might feel, and ask yourself “why is it not okay to read about my body in this way?”

Dbirth stool labouro you pee in front of your husband? Do you change your sanitary wear in front of him? Do you break wind in his presence? Do you orgasm freely and loudly with him? If so, birthing in front of him might be easier. Because birthing is about your body parts, and it is about things coming out of your body, and it is about letting your body be released from your mental inhibitions.

To orgasm freely, we need to feel uninhibited. We need to feel that we are not being judged or watched, to not feel self-conscious. Birth is the same. I’m not talking about orgasmic, hippy dippy births (yes, orgasmic births actually exist). I’m talking about all births without drugs, or knives. Because your body needs the hormone “oxytocin” to birth without a drug or a knife, and oxytocin disappears if we feel judged, self-conscious or worried.

So, it stands to reason that if you get very self-conscious at the thought of your partner seeing you being anything other than sexy and alluring, you might struggle with his presence at the birth. You might not want him to see you grunting or sweating. You might not want him to see you breaking wind, weeing, or even letting out a little poo. Having some-one in the room, who makes you feel anxious or inhibited is not good for birth. So think very carefully about your partner’s presence, and if you’re not sure, then  my advice is to address it, discuss it, think about it, as part of your birth preparation. Sophie Fletcher, in her book  Mindful Hypnobirthing, is one of the few birthing books to even talk about the fact that he doesn’t have to be there. It is a choice. If you know that you do want him there, prepare for that. The Mindful Mamma classes spend a lot of time of partners’ role. Learn how he can help you to elicit and release your oxytocin via his connection and love. Mark Harris talks about this in his book “Men, Love and Birth”. Ina May Gaskin maintains that the kissing that got baby in there, can get baby out too 🙂 Michel Odent argues that men’s presence in the birthing room might account for the rise in intervention. There’s no right and wrong. As I said at the beginning, we are all so different. But if you’re preparing for your birth, don’t prepare without addressing what it’ll be like for you to have him there, and what role he is going to play.

Mia Scotland

Birth Doula and Mindful Mamma hypnobirthing practitioner

http://www.yourbirthright.co.uk

My All Time Top 5 Tips for Birth Preparation

April 13, 2016

mia brochure photoAfter over 10 years of teaching birth preparation classes, and having taught over 1000 couples, here are my definitive five top birth preparation tips:

1. Get the birth companion prepared too. As a mother, you have the benefit of birth hormones to help you go into the zone, and to help you forget the pain. But your partner doesn’t have this lovely little tool kit for birthing. Because he wasn’t designed to birth a baby. There is a teeny weeny chance that he might get a rush of adrenalin, and try to help with “action man” bravery, when what you need is stillness and calm. If he is going to be there, he needs to prepare for this.

2. Release your fears and negative assumptions about birth. Our society has soaked you in a culture of presuming that birth is a horrific ordeal. You need to let that conditioning go, so that it doesn’t affect you too much on the day. This is true for a zillions of different reasons that science has demonstrated, but that I haven’t got the space to go into right now. One little example is that if we expect pain, our brain actually creates pain. Another is that if you are scared, your labour lasts longer.

3. Take your environment very very seriously indeed. I cannot sleep in a busy security queue at an airport. I can sleep very quickly, tucked up in my own bed at night. Birth follows the same principles (there are so many ways in which birth is similar to sleep – to0 many to go into now). Prioritise your birthing environment to create a spa like feel in the very special room that you are going to meet your baby in.

4. Condition your body to be able to respond with an automatic relaxation response to specific triggers. In NLP, this is called anchoring. In psychology, it is called conditioning. It is the basic technique that all good advertising is based on, and it works. It is so easy, but so effective. Hypnotic relaxation PM3s are perfect for this. You can also anchor yourself to a smell. Or a touch. You do the anchoring in your pregnancy, and then on the day, you generate the trigger, and your body will respond automatically.

5. Know your rights. So many second time mums say “I didn’t realise I had a choice” or “I didn’t know what they were doing” or “I know I don’t want to do that this time”. You know what? The NHS is your servant. It is there to support you, offer you advice, and listen to what your preferences are. They literally can’t touch you without your consent. You have the power to always say “not yet thank-you, I want to have a think about it first”.  Whether it is a blood test, an induction, a sweep, having your waters broken, seeing a doctor instead of a midwife, you choose. Birth preparation is about empowering yourself to enable the midwives to help you to have your choices and needs met.

These are the five things that we have prioritised in our  Mindful Mamma hypnobirthing class. It is one day, but it is packed full of all the above. There is the wonderful Mindful Hypnobirthing book which you receive when you book your place. There are 9 MP3s to help you release your fear, build a positive mindset, and anchor relaxation. There is exclusive access to a website with handouts, infographics and bonus MP3s. I run the class near Nottingham and Leicester, in a lovely venue in Melton Mowbray. There some of the testimonials and birth stories from people who have done my class here. Enjoy 🙂

Mia Scotland

Clinical Psychologist, Hypnobirthing antenatal teacher, Birth doula

www.yourbirthright.co.uk 

 

Fear of Birth, fear of the system.

July 10, 2015

I I’ve just spent a day with midwives at the Fear in Birth conference at Huddersfield.  I love going on midwifery conferences, because the energy in the room is always one of care, compassion, power and hope.

The many speakers were thought provoking, interesting, and inspiring.  The thread throughout the day was of the important of continuity of care – that if we can provide women with the same midwife throughout her perinatal journey, we can do so much to dispel her fear, and that will have a positive consequence for her  and her baby.    I don’t know why, after so many years of it being so obvious that continuity of care is a “no brainer”, we are still failing to provide this basic need in our NHS system.  It almost feels like every effort is being made to AVOID continuity of care, and the part of me that is prone to “conspiracy theories” begins to wonder if it is a subconscious but deliberate attempt to stop women connecting and uniting.

There were two areas that were not raised, which I have been mulling over.  One is the fact that midwives are the only NHS profession who understand what birth actually is.  I will repeat that.  Midwives are the only profession in the NHS who understand normal birth.  Every-other profession  shares the cultural view of society – that birth is dramatic, dangerous, fast, excruciatingly painful, and usually goes wrong.  Midwives, as a whole, do not share this view.  They know that birth can be joyful, empowering,  ecstatic, easy, and safe.  They know the joy of birth, the miracle of the birthing body. No one else in the NHS does. In my opinion, midwives are the only profession in the NHS who can really address birth fear, because they are the only ones who really get that it doesn’t have to be feared.

The second issue is about what causes birth fear and why it is growing so dramatically. I’m sorry to say, that one of the main reasons, is because women have had poor experiences of the system.  They don’t trust the system, and they are scared of it, because it has let them down so many times.  Only two hours ago, I have had a woman on the phone, looking for support.  She told me eloquently and clearly, why she wants a doula.  Her words saddened me deeply, and I can’t give the full depth of raw emotion and beautiful wording that she used, but here is a snap-shot.  She told me that at the last birth, “they left me on my back, in stirrups, with my leg up, I felt like I was being raped, there was so much wrong, I can’t even begin, in the end they wanted to do a c-section, and they told me that they were doing the c-section because they needed the bed”.  Whilst in tears, this strong, able women, tells me that while she is trying to negotiate a VBAC, “they make me feel like my choices are ridiculous, I feel so vulnerable, manipulated, their words are so heavy, they’re pushing on a bruise, I want to trust my instincts but they’ve taken that away from me”.  These stories are what scare women.  We can’t just blame media portrayals of birth, we can’t just blame individuals with a history of child abuse.  We also have to look to a system which denigrates women, belittles them, tells them what they are and aren’t allowed to do, puts them on their backs for “internal examinations” that do nothing to progress labour, leaves them on their backs against all the evidence, straps them to the bed with wires that they are told are necessary to keep their baby alive, even though the evidence tells us otherwise, tells them they are too old, too fat, too overdue, too thin, to have the baby, play the dead baby card (as if mum is putting her needs above her baby’s) and so on and so on.

So, midwives, you are so important in reducing birth fear.  You can spread the word, that birth is a positive incredible natural process.  And you can continue to fight to keep the midwifery-led units alive, along with their ability to respect birth and respect the woman.  The more of those we have, the better things will get.  You know that, I know that, but I just wanted to say it again.  Midwives, you rock!