Archive for the ‘tokophobia’ Category

“I’m scared I’m going to harm my baby…”

April 28, 2016

mia brochure photoWhat do you say when you hear the words “I’m terrified that I’m going to harm my baby”

Those words are ones that would be hard to say if you’re a mother. But if you’re a professional, be it a midwife, a health visitor, a doula or a counsellor, they can be hard to hear too. Those words represent an ultimate taboo.  A mother wanting to harm her own baby…..

But just wait a minute. If you are very astute, you will have spotted my deliberate error there. Can you see it? They are not the same thing. “I’m terrified I’m going to harm my baby” is not the same as “I want to harm my baby”.

If you hear a mother say “I’m terrified I’m going to harm my baby” the chances are she is suffering from an anxiety disorder, and she is not a danger to her baby. She is about as dangerous as some-one with fear of heights, who stands near(ish) a cliff and says “I’m terrified I’m going to jump off”.  You wouldn’t call the crisis team in this instance would you? Instead, you might say “no you’re not, you’re just scared”. It’s the same with mothers. If a mother is anxious (and especially if she is suffering from perinatal or maternal Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) then she might talk about suffocating her baby, but she can be reassured that she isn’t mad or bad, she is scared.  And of course, if you make the mistake of reacting like she is mad or bad, and call the crisis team, you certainly aren’t going to ease her anxiety!

To find out more about perinatal mental health problems, come to my workshop for birthing professionals on Friday 10th June 2016. For details, click here 

Mia Scotland, Author of “Why Perinatal Depression Matters” and Perinatal Clinical Psychologist.

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!