Perineal Massage, yes or no?

Sally UnderwoodUncategorizedLeave a Comment

Us women would all be lying if we said we were not worried about vaginal tears and or an episiotomy. Interestingly the New York Times recently published an article “Massaging away a potential complication of Birth?” which here at the UBA we found interesting. Have you perhaps considered perineal massage during your pregnancy? Do you know what it is? Maybe you have never even heard of it. Below are some extracts take form the article written by Jen Gunter…

Perineal massage is the practice of inserting one or two lubricated fingers about two inches into the vagina and applying pressure on the pelvic muscles and tissues for 10 minutes once or twice a week starting at 34 — 35 weeks of pregnancy. The massage can be done by the pregnant person or her partner.

For a first pregnancy, perineal massage has a modest and definitely measurable impact on reducing the need for stitches (either from tearing or an episiotomy). This translates to reducing the need for stitches by approximately 10 percent and the need for episiotomy by approximately 15 percent. In subsequent pregnancies there does not appear to be an effect of perineal massage on tearing or episiotomies, but there may be a reduction in pain after delivery.

Once you are in labor and are fully dilated perineal massage and warm compresses appear to reduce the severity of the tear, but not the overall risk of experiencing tearing or needing an episiotomy.

Reducing the severity of tearing during a delivery is an important goal. Women who have larger tears that affect the anal sphincter (muscles that control continence of gas and stool) can suffer greatly often for years after giving birth. So while statistically speaking the absolute reduction in tears and the need for an episiotomy from perineal massage both before and during delivery may not seem large, all efforts to reduce anal sphincter tears are important and valuable.

The midwives in our team are keen to talk about this further with you as it is definitely something to consider during your pregnancy. A perineal massage discussion will be included in our antenatal classes and we look forward to answering any questions you may have. Don’t be embarrassed, vaginas and the rest –(call it what you will vag/fanny/foof/lady garden/down below/front bum etc)  – are our thing …. Which brings us nicely onto  Gwyneth Paltrow who, despite launching her latest range of  ‘interesting’ products, seems to think one word (vagina)  covers all. “What” I hear you say?  Don’t worry , we’ve got that covered too!

The Underwood Baby Academy xxx

Article taken from and with thanks to The New York Times, by Jen Gunter. Image taken from

Baby Showers… Love them or Loathe them?

Sally UnderwoodUncategorizedLeave a Comment

We thoroughly enjoyed reading a funny article by Caitlin Moran “How to have a baby the british way”, highlighting some interesting points about baby showers in the UK. Moran describes how baby showers have the wrong priorities,

“We’re setting a bad example by throwing a party for someone who hasn’t had the decency to stop excreting through someone else’s digestive system yet. Make all parties about the person who’s had to grow a whole extra internal organ. She’s the one who could do with the morale boost.”

Mothers Blessings, based on the Navajo tradition are becoming increasingly popular and involve wishing the mother a peaceful birth, the sharing of food and then henna painting the arms, legs and belly. In the article Moran and Jen Harvies of Queen Mary University of London discuss how this is actually not such a good thing if you are British and it is making the Navajo culture commercialised, when in fact the Briitish should be inventing their own pregnancy ritual.

However Caitlin Moran goes on to describe our very own ritual which us Brits already have!

“Part one of the ceremony. A few weeks before the baby is due, the mother-to-be’s friends gather at her dwelling, pointing out all the ways it is unsuitable for a baby. This is called The Helping Ritual and consists of saying things such as, “It’ll be head over arse down those stairs as soon as it can crawl,” and, “The bloke next door looks like the Child Catcher. If your kids ever go missing, check his cages first. Absolute sex case.”

Part two of the ceremony. “Wishes for a peaceful birth.” By some physical process of synchronicity that no one yet understands, women who are already mothers can guarantee their friend a “peaceful” birth by reciting all the ways their births went wrong. The more you say things such as “screamed like a tortured animal”, “trainee midwife kicked it across the floor” and “tore myself a new anus”, the more it’s presumed the mother-to-be’s cervix softens and yields. There can be no other reason why mothers would do this.

The gathering of the family. The mother blessing must, of course, involve members of the mother-to-be’s family. At this point in the ceremony, it is traditional for a brother or sister to take the mother-to-be into the kitchen and say things such as, “Don’t worry – if it gets Grandad’s ears, I will get it plastic surgery for its 16th birthday.”

Feasting. As befits a special occasion, a variety of premium snacks is laid out on a trestle table. The mother-to-be starts eating cake while her closest friend secretly presses “Go” on a stopwatch. When the first guest stares at the mother-to-be and says, “Did you know there’s no such thing as eating for two? You only need an extra 200 calories a day! That’s just one slice of bread,” the mother-to-be’s best friend shouts, “Forty-three seconds! Who had 43 seconds in the sweepstake?” while the mother-to-be continues balefully to eat the cake because there are precious few pleasures in her life right now and, really, cankles don’t matter when you’re a week away from being brutally gifted a second anus.

The dumping of the items. Many guests will have used the occasion to bring thoughtful presents for the mother-to-be – massage tools, Netflix subscriptions or much more effective contraceptive devices. One guest, however, will always brightly trill, “I had so many beautiful baby things from when my ones were wee and I didn’t want them going to waste in the loft! So I’d love to gift them to you!” And then dumps upon the mother-to-be approximately 500 bursting bin bags of revoltingly tatty baby-gros, which smell of a combination of mildew, poo and a baby food they don’t even manufacture any more.”

Any of these events sound similar? Lots of home truths in there I think. People love to share a negative labour story don’t they! Also heard the ‘you are not eating for two’ a few too many times.

Are you having a baby shower soon, maybe even having a mothers blessing? Or perhaps you have recently had one? We would love to hear from you.

Laura and the UBA Team xxx

Original article from The Times, by Caitlin Moran, taken from and with thanks to

Statements for an Empowering Birth

Sally UnderwoodUncategorizedLeave a Comment

I move gently forward through my pregnancy and labour with confidence and trust.

I see my baby’s birth as natural, healthy, swift and easy.

I am practicing so that I am relaxed and calm during labour.

I trust the instinctive process of birth which flows naturally through my body.

My mind leads where my body follows.

My mind is so relaxed, confident and calm.

My body is comfortable, soft and open.

My baby passes gently and healthily into the world.

As I feel my baby moving inside me, my love and connection grow ever deeper.

Birthing is a natural process of my body, my mind, and my spirit, working in unison with my baby.

I acknowledge and trust the innate wisdom of my body and my intuition to guide me through pregnancy, labour, and the birth of my baby.

I practice profound relaxation, and I deepen my confidence and trust.

I am secure in the knowledge that I am fully prepared for a natural, easy and swift birth.

I have confidence that a natural birth is safe for me, and safe for my baby.

I choose the best possible caregivers during my pregnancy and the birth of my baby.

I choose the best place for my baby to be born naturally and calmly.

I enjoy the feeling of natural calm, relaxation and softness that permeates my body.

As I gently progress through labour and birth, I go deeper into relaxation and calmness.

Each breath is slow, long, deep and relaxed.

With each surge I breathe deeply, focus upwards, and work with my body.

With each breath out, I breathe out tension and stress.

With each breath in, I breathe in relaxation and comfort, peace and trust.

I feel positive, confident and optimistic.

I look forward to my baby’s birth.

Throughout my labour I go deeper and deeper within to my innate wisdom and intuition.

I trust that my body and my baby are healthy, relaxed and calm.

My baby naturally moves into the best position for a natural, swift and gentle birth.

Baby knows best.

I feel positive and calm whatever form my birthing takes.

Whenever a negative thought comes into my mind, I imagine a beautiful rose, its colour, its softness, it’s scent.

I trust the natural process of birth working gently through my body and my baby.

Each surge of my body reminds me that I will soon be holding my baby in my arms.

I serenely accept my birthing as just right for me, and for my baby.

I relax more and more deeply as my labour advances and my baby moves closer and closer to birth.

I feel calm, relaxed and at ease.

I am in awe of the miracle of birth.

Everything I hear helps me become more relaxed and calm.

With each surge my breath is slow and deep, my body is relaxed, and my mind is calm.

I trust my body, my instinct, and nature to lead me and my baby gently through labour and birth.

As labour develops, my relaxation deepens and my body softens and opens, wider and wider.

After my baby is born, gently, calmly and healthily, the placenta follows easily and naturally.

My baby moves smoothly into the world, the placenta follows, and my blood vessels close naturally and healthily.

I eat healthily and take care of my body for me and for my baby.

My body and my baby’s body are created the right size to birth naturally.

My baby is born at the right time for a natural, swift and gentle birth.

I have plenty of milk for my baby, and I feed my baby easily and comfortably.

My body is designed to give birth efficiently and easily.

I have chosen to be relaxed, calm and confident during labour.

I make the best and most rational decisions about the birth of my baby.

My baby is born healthy, alert and serene.

What is KG Hypnobirthing?

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KG Hypnobirthing – makes a difference to birth for you and your baby.

KG Hypnobirthing is a complete antenatal training programme. It is simple, logical and profound. It is much more than a few techniques to use in labour.

KGH gives you the knowledge and the tools to have the best natural childbirth for you. You need information and knowledge to get the best from the system in which you find yourself. You need to understand the implications of the choices you may be required to make. Most of all you need to release fear and learn to trust your body, your instinct and your baby. I order to do this you need information and knowledge.

As Katharine Graves, founder of KGH and bestselling author states;
“You can find good information about babies and birth in many places but hypnobirthing is the only thing I know that actually makes a difference to your experience of giving birth. I cannot promise the perfect birth. Nothing can and to do so would be ridiculous and not true. However, my experience is that KGH always makes a difference and a very big difference too”.

It is a privilege to be a KGH teacher and to be invited into your life at such a special time in order to make it even better. We cannot do it for you. At UBA we are the signpost. You make the journey. We regard it as our responsibility to give you all the information and support that we can to support you and will always be there whilst you are a member of the academy.

Benefits for Baby and You

You are likely to experience a more comfortable and sometimes pain free birth. Your baby will arrive to a relaxed environment – alert and ready to bond with you. Your length of labour is often much shorter. Less drugs and medical intervention are used in Hypnobirthing – allowing your baby to develop naturally and easily after they are born. Mums often bounce back quicker after birth as the physical impact of giving birth is reduced.

Your birth partner will learn how to support you and will play a central and active role in the birth. A truly shared and loving experience. The benefits are obvious but the long-term benefits to your baby cannot be overestimated. We repeatedly hear stories of babies being calm, content and sleeping well. They seem to thrive better. It may seem miraculous, but this is how hypnobirthing is designed to be.

Further details about your Hypnobirthing course;

You will probably have questions about the delivery and course content. The following 12 questions will hopefully be helpful to you:

Why KG Hypnobirthing?
We are the original UK Hypnobirthing course which is designed especially for mothers in the UK. The course is constantly evolving to keep up-to-date with the latest evidence and research, and is now taught internationally. Katharine Graves has personally taught hypnobirthing to over 2,000 couples, probably more than anyone else in the UK and all KG Hypnobirthing teachers are knowledgeable and highly trained to support you in hypnobirthing. A KG Hypnobirthing Course not only equips you with the hypnobirthing information, but uniquely gives you the knowledge to understand your options and the implications of the choices you make. As well as teaching you the techniques you need for a successful hypnobirth, it gives you the information to navigate the system in which you find yourself to achieve the best outcome for you and your baby.

What will I learn on a KG Hypnobirthing course?
• Breathing exercises
• Deep relaxations
• Visualisations
• Very effective work to release fear and build confidence
• Comforting massage
• How the father can be your powerful protector and support
• How your body is designed to give birth with efficiency and comfort
• Knowledge and information about pregnancy and birth that you are unlikely to be told anywhere else
• How ‘the system’ that you find yourself in works, and how to work with it to achieve the best result for you
• A simple practice regime to support you at home
• Understanding how the mind and body work together

Learn about the five Cs of hypnobirthing:

  • Confidence – When you feel confident, you relax and work with your body in the way nature intended.
  • Control – With the knowledge you have, you are enabled to take control of how you give birth.
  • Choice – When you feel in control, the choices you make are the best choices for you and for your baby.
  • Calm – When you feel calm throughout the birth you are relaxed and your mind and body work together in harmony.
  • Comfort – The result is that your body works efficiently and comfortably. A KG Hypnobirthing birth can be the most wonderful and empowering experience of your life.

What course materials am I given?

Before the course you will be sent you will be sent Colour & Calmness the pregnancy and birth relaxation CD or MP3 so you can start to practice and develop a positive outlook on pregnancy and birth straight away.

At the course you will be given The Hypnobirthing Book and a folder of handouts to support you during the rest of your pregnancy and the birth of your baby.

Does the father or birth partner need to come to hypnobirthing too?

He doesn’t have to, but he will be very glad if he did. Most fathers arrive at the course utterly sceptical and leave extremely enthusiastic. We don’t expect you to believe in it. Why should you? We do ask you to listen to the facts and the logic so you understand how important it is and the difference you as a father or birth companion can make. Have a look at the birth reports from fathers, and you can benefit from their experience.

The caricature of a father at a birth is someone who is nervous, feeling responsible for the situation she is in, holding her hand and wishing he could help, but not knowing what to do.

A hypnobirthing father is knowledgeable and able to support her as she gives birth. He is a huge asset in the birthing room, and many mothers say, ‘I couldn’t have done it without him.’ They have practised together before the birth which brings them closer together, and he knows he has played an important part in how his baby enters the world. This deepens their relationship as a couple, and his relationship with his child.

Can I bring someone else to the course?
A close friend or family member who is going to be in the birth room to support you when you give birth can come to the course as well as your partner. It is important that they understand what you are doing and how best to support you. There is no additional charge for this. This does not apply to birth professionals (including doulas).

Will hypnobirthing work for me if I come on my own?
Yes, definitely. Many women have come to the course on their own if they have a husband who is away on business, as a single mum, if it’s a second baby and they can’t find a babysitter for their elder child, or any other reason. Just remember that KG Hypnobirthing works, and you are very welcome. If your partner can’t come, we would welcome your mother, a friend, or whoever will be supporting you at the birth instead.

And after the course – what then?
Your KG Hypnobirthing teacher is always there for you. Please call or email if you feel stressed, are put under pressure, or we can help in any way.

What is the best format for hypnobirthing?
We teach the KG Hypnobirthing course over 4 evenings, sometimes in two consecutive weekends, and sometimes in one weekend. We have found this is extremely effective and is the preferred option of most couples. You will find hypnobirthing taught in different formats, 2 days, 4 short sessions, or 5 short sessions. Each format has its pros and cons, but there is no research showing that one method is better than another. The bottom line is simply that KG Hypnobirthing works, so choose the format that is most convenient for you. Contact your teacher to discuss the timing that suits you. Katharine Graves teaches KG Hypnobirthing as a full weekend’s course. She has found this to be extremely effective and is most convenient for many couples.

Is The Hypnobirthing Book and the Colour and Calmness relaxation audio sufficient?
People sometimes ask if buying The Hypnobirthing Book and the Colour and Calmness CD is sufficient without coming to a course. The honest answer is, ‘I don’t know’. For a few mothers it is, for many it isn’t (though it will always make a difference). The trouble is, you don’t know which category you come into until after your baby is born.

You undoubtedly get more information and feel more supported from attending a course. How many people have bought a series of audios to learn a language and then found that going to a course is far more effective?

When should I do the KG Hypnobirthing course?
Given the choice, I would advise doing the course in the second trimester of your pregnancy so you can enjoy the benefits during your pregnancy as well as at the birth of your baby. It is not so much a matter of learning facts so they are fresh in your mind, but more a matter of absorbing the information so that it becomes second nature, but KG Hypnobirthing works whenever you do it. I have taught a woman who gave birth two days later, and it worked perfectly well.

If you do the course earlier, you get the benefits of KG Hypnobirthing during your pregnancy as well as at the birth of your baby.

Answering all your questions – ‘What if…..? If only…..’
If you are expecting your first baby, you may have the phrase on your lips, ‘What if……’. The fears you have are often derived from the dramatic emergencies you have seen on television or the movies. KG Hypnobirthing helps to explain the ‘What ifs’ so you can safely leave them to your midwife. She is highly qualified in ‘what ifs’, but you need the knowledge to understand this.
From women who are expecting their second or subsequent baby, I often hear the words, ‘If only…’. ‘If only I had known, I would have made a different decision.’ ‘If only someone had told me.’ KG Hypnobirthing saves you from saying ‘If only…’ after the birth, and helps you let go of a previous bad experience, so that the birth of your second baby can be a wonderful and empowering experience. You may find this hard to believe, but there are many mothers who can vouch for this. It is the second time mothers who REALLY know the difference that KG Hypnobirthing makes as they have experienced the difference.

Where did hypnobirthing come from?
“Hypnobirthing is soundly based on established medical knowledge.” – Midwife.

In 1957, after two years of study by eminent neurologists and psychoanalysts, the BMA issued a statement that ‘hypnosis is an effective method of relieving pain in childbirth’ and proposed that all doctors should train in hypnotherapy.

The seeds of the natural birth movement were first sown with the work of eminent obstetrician Dr.Grantly Dick-Read. After witnessing a homebirth in the slums of the London Docks in 1913 where the mother refused any pain relief and then proceeded to give birth quickly and with no pain, Grantly Dick-Read was truly amazed.

The mother’s comment after giving birth when he asked why she refused the pain relief was “It didn’t hurt. It wasn’t meant to, was it, Doctor?” This experience was defining, and after a career of working on the battle field in the first world war and subsequently in hospitals as an obstetrician he theorized that fear was the overriding cause that led to the pain in childbirth. At the end of his career he wrote the book “Childbirth Without Fear”. He hypothesized that when you are fearful, you tense up and the natural birth process is inhibited and becomes longer and consequently more painful.

Over the years his theories have been fully vindicated with research into how hormones work during childbirth. His principles have been further developed by a number of natural birth practitioners with Hypnobirthing being the most notable and widely practised. Today KG Hypnobirthing is known by every midwife in the UK and many have trained in KG Hypnobirthing, including professors of midwifery and NHS heads of midwifery. Obstetricians are also beginning to understand the significance of the work we do and are coming to be trained too. KG Hypnobirthing is practised internationally and rapidly spreading throughout the world.

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