Our Broken Maternity System and Pregnancy Anxiety!

Jan 26, 2022 by The Wise Hippo

March with midwives banner raising awareness of the current midwife shortage

As we transition into 2022 with high hopes for our world as we once knew it, to return to a place of love, health, and peace we are faced with a sense of uncertainty when it comes to maternity services.

With variants of the virus creating an impact worldwide, some maternity units across England have had no other choice but to temporarily close their units due to absences of staff. The current restrictions in place mean that many home births have been limited and birth partners are being reduced to one and at times none. The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) shares that ‘women are not receiving a high standard of maternity care that they need and deserve’.

Are you feeling anxious about birthing your baby?

It’s only natural for feelings of fear, anxiety, and stress to arise during times of uncertainty.

Pregnancy anxiety heightens these emotions and it’s exactly what many expectant parents are experiencing right now. A gentle reminder that anxiety is a mental health condition and not a sign of weakness so please go easy on yourself if these feelings arise. Pregnancy anxiety occurs in more than 1 in 10 women. However, when prepared with the right tools and support you can begin to take control of your emotions and feel through them rather than being negatively impacted by them.

Are you moving through motions of worry and stress while not knowing what to expect when it's time to birth your baby? Have you been exposed to feedback from other parents whose births have been affected negatively due to the impact of our maternity crisis and lack of support and care?
We hear you, we feel you, we resonate with you. We can help you!

It's a Midwife Crisis - The Wise Hippo to the rescue! 

Midwives are angels in disguise and these beautiful beings are committed to ensuring that you and your precious baby experience the utmost high-quality care during your birthing experience. Their priority is to ensure that everything runs smoothly before, during, and after birth. However, this can be difficult to align with when external circumstances create roadblocks along the way.

The last few months has seen 'The March with Midwives movement' gaining traction alongside government level interest so we can only hope that change is on the way.

NHS staff shortages means parents and babies not getting the care and support that they need.

We are saddened to hear that midwives are struggling to keep up with what is expected of them and unfortunately we are hearing more and more stories just like this. Expectant parents are feeling anxious, neglected, and worried at a time when they should be feeling happy and excited to meet their precious babies.

We are certainly not in the habit of sharing negative birth stories here at the Wise Hippo as we would never want to add to your anxious feelings, however we must emphasise how important it is that you take your preparation and choice of teacher seriously right now.

If what you are reading here in regards to the maternity crisis has touched a nerve and causes you to take action then we have achieved what we have set out to do. You get one chance to birth your baby so you must do everything you can to cover all bases and prepare well.

Click here to find your closest Wise Hippo Teacher

Never before have we received so many messages like this:

Received from an anxious mum to be…

“ I was recommended that I be induced because of what happened last time and it's also what I want. My induction date has now passed because they can't fit me in, there are not enough midwives available and apparently, I am now not a priority for them. I am trying so hard to stay positive by practicing all my Wise Hippo techniques and tbh I really don't know if I would be coping right now without them. I never get to see the same midwife twice. I would be a complete bag of nerves if it wasn't for the support from my wise hippo teacher... ”

And another…

" I sadly can’t have my home birth due to local covid constraints and the birth centre I was hoping to use as an alternative option has shut due to staff shortages Can you recommend a Wise Hippo teacher in my area to help me overcome my anxiety and help me with a new plan of action? "

And another…

" Having already been through covid whilst pregnant, both my partner and I experienced the anxiety around this. Questioning the what ifs and buts surrounding this new virus we know so little about. My mind then started to get anxious about whether or not my partner would be able to attend the birth if we were to contract it again. Again I have found that the hypnobirthing techniques around positive thinking and using the positive birthing affirmations has helped me to stay calm and level-headed. I now understand that the important thing truly is that our baby girl comes into this world safely and that as a woman if restrictions did not allow my partner to be at the birth, I would and can deal with anything with the knowledge I have learnt, and that he would be there on the other side no matter what. "

Received from a student midwife…

" I am overwhelmed and scared that I may not be able to provide safe/high quality care to the parents and babies in my care which is worrying. I am concerned that by the end of my 1st year, I am going to be burnt out and will have lost my fire for something that I have been so passionate about for many years. I feel like leaving already! "

Received from a midwife with over 20 years experience…

" At the moment staff are broken with staff crying on duty where I work.There is shockingly too few staff for numbers of parents and babies "

Staff shortages are real

Intervention rates and birth trauma are at an all-time high with the RCM reporting that many maternity units are deemed as unsafe and needing improvement. Parents are being turned away and midwife-led units that are often closed due to staffing issues which means parents are having to birth surrounded by monitors and medical equipment instead of mood lighting, birthing balls and birthing pools. The maternity system is in crisis meaning parents are being forced to give birth in an unpredictable environment that can leave you feeling let down and out of control. Post natal depression is on the rise also as this can be a direct effect of the unsatisfactory care and birth trauma that many parents are experiencing. 

So how can you get this control back

“ I have always said…one of the main Wise Hippo benefits is that it doesn't matter where you give birth when you have The Wise Hippo by your side.This is because we spend much of our time with our eyes closed during labour so that we can remain in a deep state of relaxation. With practice, Wise Hippo parents have the ability to take themselves ( in their minds) anywhere they wish to go so that they can feel safe and gain control back.

Your birthing environment and feeling safe is a key factor during labour and this should never be underestimated. This is the true value of learning and practicing The Wise Hippo techniques in preparation for your special day. ”

Tamara Cianfini

The Beauty of Hypnobirthing Doulas

Many Wise Hippo teachers are doulas too, who fully understand the consequences of a broken maternity system.They are often there to provide additional support and pick up the pieces when families are negatively impacted by the way they have been treated.

From fearful families facing daily struggles of cancelled scans, solo labours, last-minute changes to birthing plans, and not being allowed to attend births due to the ‘one partner’ rule. They also witness the intense pressure that midwives are under and empathise with the lack of continuity of care available. Hiring a doula to support you and your birth partner during these times is highly recommended. 

The Wise Hippo Birthing Programme is designed to help you and your birth partner overcome these overwhelming feelings and transform you both into confident parents that are fully equipped to navigate your way through pregnancy and birth no matter what you are faced with on the day.

We are not saying that The Wise Hippo Birthing Programme is the solution to our maternity crisis but what it does do is take the pressure off you, the NHS and your midwives at this crucial time. By attending a Wise Hippo course you will be provided with tools to help you remain calm and emotionally cope in any situation you find yourself in, giving you a much better chance at achieving the birth that you and your baby deserve.

Your midwife will be happy to discover that you’ve completed a Wise Hippo course when you meet them for the first time. You’ll be met with a huge feeling of relief, knowing that you have equipped yourself with the knowledge and tools to remain calm, relaxed, and in control no matter the circumstances.

Having a supportive birthing partner that knows what to expect and do on the day can make a world of a difference during these unpredictable times. Your partner will learn all about their specific role and how to support you when you attend a Wise Hippo course. 

What if my birthing partner cant be there for any reason?

Here at The Wise Hippo, we have passionate teachers, doulas, and midwives that can support you throughout this time. All you need to do is click on the 'find a teacher' directory to find a teacher near you. Your Wise Hippo teacher will empower you with knowledge and tools to help keep you calm and relaxed no matter what happens on the day.

If for any reason your partner can't be with you on the day you will have the Wise Hippo in your ears, whispering positive suggestions, keeping you calm and confident along the way.
This is particularly invaluable for any parents choosing to be induced or having to stay in hospital for any other reason as it gives them a way to stay positive as they patiently wait for the arrival of their baby.

When you start to wonder whether you can trust your maternity system is when you already know you can't!

Now is not the time to bury your head in the sand, This blog is to create awareness and keep alive the amazing work that the 'March with Midwives' movement has created over the last few months. Making people aware of the current state of affairs makes people sit up, listen and take action so that they can prepare well and make necessary informed decisions.

If you are 20 weeks pregnant or more, now is the time to take charge of your birth so that you can feel ready and prepared to meet your precious baby. The right education and the right teacher can help you achieve a calm, relaxed and positive birth experience but fundamentally the preparation is down to you.

3 ways to prepare for a positive birth

  • Grab a copy of The Birth Path book, by Tamara Cianfini and discover why hypnobirthing is for you and your baby.
  • Click on the ‘Find a Teacher’ directory to find a passionate teacher near you.
  • Establish a practice routine. When you implement this knowledge into your life, the more prepared and confident you will feel.

You are not alone when it comes to feeling anxious about birthing your baby, especially during these times of uncertainty. Just know that with positive preparation, confidence, the right education and the right teacher to support you, you’ll be ready to move any road blocks out of the way so that you and your baby can achieve the right birth on the day.

With love

The Wise Hippo x