Take 2 Scottish Midwives….
In January 2012 midwives Donna Burns and Alison Fyfe won the Royal College of Midwives Award for Promoting Normal Birth by using HypnoBirthing, The Mongan Method to help women achieve a calm, natural birth.
Since July 2009 Ayrshire and Arran NHS Trust have audited the referral of women by medical staff to the HypnoBirthing classes. Women were referred for conditions such as extreme fear of childbirth (tokophobia), a traumatic pregnancy or a previous bad birth experience. Therefore, although the classes are not unusual (though not many Trusts are so forward thinking as to have them on the NHS) the women were unusual because their fear of birth was deemed to dramatically hinder the possibility of a natural birth. Many were contemplating an elective caesarean section.
Alison and Donna have developed their own audit which they have tweaked as their work has continued drawing out more qualitative and quantative analysis. They start the courses by asking women to write down their feelings about birth. Words like ‘pain’ and ‘painful’ were uniform. After their births the same questions were asked and much more empowered responses were given; only 2 women described the birth as painful which when you discover one was born face to pubes and one by forceps is understandable. All women felt more confident of their ability to birth describing it as a positive experience and saying they would definitely use HypnoBirthing again.
During the first 12 months of the classes 35 couples attended; 22 were having their first baby. During childbirth, 22 laboured spontaneously. 4 women were medically induced because of pregnancy complications and one for postdates at 41+6. 6 (17.14%) women had planned caesarean sections, 3 because they had had a previous caesarean section and 3 because of pregnancy complications. This compares to a 2009/10 Scottish average of 26.6% caesarean section. There were no preterm births. 68% used either no analgesia or Entonox only as pain relief and only 18.2% had an epidural. All women who went in to spontaneous labour had vaginal births.
In the most recent qualitative audit Alison and Donna have developed which 12 women responded to, 1 (8.5%) had an epidural, 4 (33%) only used entonox and 7 (58.5%) no analgesia.
Working with a particularly frightened population anticipating poor birth outcomes this is a huge victory for the promotion of natural birth and its associated benefits to mothers and their babies as well as the NHS.
Having had the enormous pleasure of hearing Donna and Alison give a presentation on their work I can testify that success like this is hard won. In an organisation such as the NHS huge personal commitment is required from midwives with passion and foresight to achieve the means to deliver change and the energy and drive to see it through. This award is recognition from the industry that Alison and Donna are doing something very special – and successful. I hope this recognition reaches far and wide to the many Trusts and individual midwives who could learn from this about how to improve the birth outcomes for the women they are meant to be helping.