The Value of Mindfulness within Cancer Care

I have been proud to work as a volunteer reflexology practitioner and mindfulness teacher at The Mary Stevens Hospice in Stourbridge.  There is a growing volume of evidence supporting the benefits of mindfulness for patients, their families and those working in the end of life care environment.

the mary stevens hospice

The Trish Bartley  book, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Cancer: Gently Turning Towards, explores a Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy for cancer care. This eight-week course has been tried and tested over ten years of clinical use. Bartley believes

“mindfulness is a way of being more present and aware. This offers us many opportunities to appreciate life more. It also enables us to respond more gently to what we find difficult, and by doing this we often find that we experience changes”

A study in 2008 (Chadwik et al) found that mindfulness was beneficial to people with terminal cancer both physically and emotionally.  An analysis of the research available in 2005 concluded that mindfulness based intervention in cancer care had positive results, including improvements in mood, sleep quality and reductions in stress. A further review of studies in 2011 supported this finding. They found significant improvements in anxiety, depression, stress, sexual difficulties and immune function

Christopher Johns in his book, Being Mindful, Easing Suffering: Reflections on Palliative Care explains

"Mindfulness is a quality of mind that notices what is present without judgment, without interference. Being mindful guides me to see things as they really are rather than as a reflection of myself. Mindful practice is being aware of ones experience as it unfolds in its unpredictable and unique way.”

In 2005 the use of mindfulness in hospice care was examined from the perspective of the nurses. For many of the staff the changes were very significant

“Mindfulness makes me alert to what is happening……I see things that I didn’t see before, I begin to notice. For example when there is a lot of chaos in the room…..is this what she is seeing all day?”

“I think that in itself to be mindful that someone is afraid and not to reject it, not to sugar it over with something but also not be freaked out, but to really be with that feeling and to embrace it….then it seems the person can usually relax”

Mindful presence enables the nursing staff to be totally aware and focused on the circumstances she finds in the here and now, regardless of what has gone before or what will follow. It is a valuing of “being” over “doing” in the belief that compassionately being present allows the nurse to respond with empathy to the needs in that moment.

When I worked on a hospital ward during my nursing days I was often guilty of not being truly present but more concerned with my list of jobs to do. I felt that truly experiencing each moment would be overwhelming as many situations were difficult and challenging, but mindfulness has taught me that being present in the moment without trying to be in control of it is actually a great relief. To experience the moment for just what it is allows choices to be made from a place of awareness rather than habit or panic. Removing the “what should I do” and replacing it with an understanding of what is needed in that moment is very liberating. I know life is often unbearably busy on the wards and nurses are pulled in so many directions, introducing mindfulness is not easily done, but this does not mean it can’t be done. The staff at Mary Stevens Hospice are working hard to introduce mindfulness to their clients and to their own work. I truly commend them for their commitment to constantly move forward to provide the very best care.

Mindfulness, as all holistic therapies, is not a replacement for medical care but it can be included within the home, hospice or hospital setting.  For more information please visit: mindfulness explained.

You may also enjoy reading : Mindfulness in a busy Kidderminster carpark

                                                 Mindfulness Explored

                                                 Meditation and pain

 

Posted on October 18, 2016 and filed under reflexology, mindfulness, stress management.

Midwives and Hypnobirthing

At my Kidderminster practice I see many couples who are unsure how their midwife may view hypnosis for childbirth. I am pleased to be able to tell them that midwives support and many encourage hypnobirthing.

“We LOVE hypnobirthing! More and more of our clients are using it and we always discuss it as a resource with when we book our clients and explain the huge benefits to both parents and babies.”
— Jacqui Tomkins, British Journal of Midwifery Midwife of the Year, 2014

 

Many couples interested in hypnosis for childbirth are concerned about what their midwives will think about hypnobirthing. The use of hypnotherapy in pregnancy is, however, no longer a rarity on maternity wards.  I myself am delighted to see more and more NHS providers including natal hypnosis in their maternity programmes

The Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS trust introduced a hypnobirthing midwifery practitioner in 2009. Their initiative was recognised by a national ward for innovation. the midwife explained:

“This method supports keeping birth normal and changing attitudes towards birth for both women and midwives, giving women the confidence to trust their body’s ability to give birth calmly and safely."

Further afield theHampshire hospitals NHS trust offers confident birthing workshops for parents which included elements of hypnotherapy.  Colchester Hospital University NHS trust provide full hypnobirth training delivered by midwives who are specially trained. They strongly back the training stating:

  "Hypnobirth is for all births"

North Tees and Harlepool NHS trust run classes over five weeks. Their website clearly supports the programme:

"Women who use hypnobirthing experience less pain and therefore need less pain relief. It helps the mind’s messages which are sent to the brain to be much more positive, which helps women to relax and remain calm."

It is clear that across the country hypnosis for childbirth is firmly supported by NHS providers and midwives.  Jacqui Tomkins, British Journal of Midwifery Midwife of the Year, 2014 heartily expresses her own and midwives feelings about the technique:

"We LOVE hypnobirthing! More and more of our clients are using it and we always discuss it as a resource with when we book our clients and explain the huge benefits to both parents and babies."

If you are considering training in hypnosis for your childbirth experience then you can be confident that midwives recognise the positive influence it can have. Unfortunately our local hospitals do not yet provide classes but hopefully this will soon change. If you would like to know more about training please do contact Breathe Holistic Therapy for more information.  Training using the easibirth method is provided on an individual (couple) basis in our Kidderminster treatment room. The full course is five hours and can be delivered timed to suit your needs.  For more information please do contact me.

Quoted from the Tao te Ching, a classic chinese text written in around the 6th century BC,  I feel this poem expresses how midwives aim to support women to birth their own babies. This empowerment is very much reflected in hypnobirthing.

You are a midwife

You are helping at someone else’s birth.

Do good without show or fuss.

Facilitate what is happening

rather than what you

think ought to be happening.

If you must lead,

lead so the woman is

helped, yet still free

and in charge.

When the baby is born,

the woman will rightly say,

”We did it ourselves.”
Posted on September 21, 2016 and filed under maternity, hypnobirthing.

NHS maternity budget: Has this disappeared?

pregancy

Back in February the news papers were reporting a new maternity budget to allow mums to source and choose their own maternity care.  There have been so many political changes since then I'm wondering if this has been lost along the way? Control is an important aspect of confidence in birth and as a maternity therapist I was excited by the proposition.

The birthing budget proposed could  fund therapies such as hypnobirthing and other complementary therapies. Pregnant women will be given a birthing budget of £3000 to spend on the care of their choice in new proposals.

The new plan is aimed at improving quality of care by promoting high quality services and moving care away from unsafe provisions.  The NHS plans are part of a national plan to tackle the reported poor care provided in many maternity units. The NHS report states that 48 per cent of units which have been inspected by regulators have been rated as inadequate or requires improvement for safety.

Under the new plans, pregnant women will be told they should get a personal midwife to attend to them throughout their pregnancy, with a back-up midwife to take over if necessary.The new NHS Personal Maternity Care Budget, worth at least £3,000. This budget will allow them to choose from birthing pools, private birthing suites and alternative pain relief methods such as acupuncture or hypnobirthing.

As a complementary therapist and hypnobirth traininer I am supportive of all moves to empower women to make choices about their pregnancy and child birth. I am also excited to see complementary therapies included in the woman's possible choices. This recognition is very positive for supportive services such as hypnosis for childbirth and reflexology.    

Baroness Julia Cumberlege who led the review stated:
“To be among the best in the world, we need to put women, babies and their families at the centre of their care,” she said. It is so important that they are supported through what can be a wonderful and life-changing experience. Women have told us they want to be given genuine choices and have the same person looking after them throughout their care"

Some charities are, however, concerned that couples may feel pressurised to make the cheapest choices rather than the best for their needs.  Maureen Treadwell, the Birth Trauma Association’s research officer, said: “It’s hugely important that women are able to give birth in a place that feels right for them, and that they are not pressurised into what trusts see as the least costly option.”

I will be watching the media for developments from the pilot schemes as I feel that although the concept is positive there will be a number of issues that may prove challenging. One of these, I believe, will be the process of  therapists becoming accredited NHS providers. I am a member of the CNHC an approved voluntary register which ensures therapists are fully trained, insured and professionally accountable. This register has been developed by the government and accredited by them. The move to NHS accreditation is however not open to hypnotherapists  and complementary therapists in the same way. I hope women who want to spend their budget on Hypnotherapy or other complementary therapies do not find that they can't because no one locally has been able to gain accreditation.

If you would like any more information on hypnotherapy in pregnancy or maternity treatments please so contact us at Breathe Holistic Therapy. 

Posted on July 31, 2016 and filed under maternity, hypnobirthing, reflexology.

Bringing Breathe Blogs together

 A clearer path for Breathe Blog.

 A clearer path for Breathe Blog.

As Breathe Holistic Therapy has developed over the last 9 years I have introduced a number of specialised blogs with their own aim and focus including this reflexology research blog.  This blog was the first. It was born out of my desire to share with clients and colleagues interesting developments related to my work as a reflexologist and maternity therapist.  I have discussed many issues over the years and chose to start separate blogs for research and media posts.

Each of these blogs include informative and interesting posts exploring subjects all relating to one thing: the work of Breathe Holistic Therapy and needs and interests of my clients. After spending time thinking about the experience of reading the blogs I have decided to consolidate all the blogs into one. I believe this will make the posts more accessible and easier to find, a better experience for readers. All future posts sharing interesting pieces of reflexology research, hypnotherapy research and media reports will now be posted on this blog.

All the previous posts will still remain published on their own specialised blog and can be read or shared again, remaining available to you into the future. I have added the links below so it's easy to pop back and explore old posts. I hope you find the single blog more accessible and continue to enjoy reading.

Posted on July 8, 2016 .

Hypnosis for birth in the news

As a hypnobirth trainer working in Kidderminster I am always interested to read about hypnosis for birth in the news.

I'm not always in agreement with the articles I have read but this weekend I was smiling from ear to ear as I read about NHS hospitals providing hypnosis for childbirth.  The news piece asked:

             " Can hypnosis really beat the pain of having babies? The NHS thinks so"

As an easibirthing trainer I already know many hospitals were providing some initial training in hypnosis within their antenatal care package, but I was excited to read how many more were following suit.  The news explained how midwives are being trained to teach hypnosis for birth in Colchester, Wolverhampton, Stevenage and the Scottish Highlands. The next areas to get on board will be Exeter, Gloucester, Walsall and Bury St Edmunds. A midwife and hypnobrthing coach at Colchester hospital said a quartet of the women giving birth at Colchester general hospital were taking courses in the technique.  The hospital dropped the £250.00 fee after the results were so positive they felt it unfair to only provide it to those who could afford the fee. 

In the article Tamara Cianfini founder of Wise Hippo hypnobirthing explaines how the technique benefits women.

Staying calm reduces the “ fight or flight” response, which can result in adrenaline flooding the body and unhelpfully diverting blood away from the womb.
— Tamara Cianfini

The news paper article includes comments from Naomi Mogg who recently used hypnosis with the birth of her second child.  After a traumatic first birth she turned to hypnosis and found she felt much more in control and able to deal with the pain.

As a trainer in this powerful technique I am proud to be part of the empowerment of women and their partners  through hypnosis for childbirth. Birth has become increasingly medicalised over time which has removed control from women but the introduction of hypnobirthing displays a real commitment to handing childbirth back to women.  I am glad midwives are being trained but I am concerned that many midwives are already overstretched and do not want this training to become another burden they are not truly given time to deliver. At a local hospital in Walsall several years ago they trained midwives to deliver maternity reflexology but shortly after, despite great results, the service was closed due to lack of funding. I hope this is not the case with hypnosis. 

I am also excited by the great research opportunities available as the service is extended. The limitation of much hypno birthing research is the small subject numbers, but as the technique is rolled out to more couples the research could be much more robust.

Unfortunately Worcestershire does not currently have plans in place to introduce hypnosis for their antenatal couples. If you are based in Worcestershire and interested in Hypnosis for Birth training then please do contact me.

Why Breathe?

My reflexology and hypno birthing clients often ask me why I chose the business name “Breathe Holistic Therapy”.

A number of things have popped up this week making it seem apt to take this opportunity to write here and explain the name. I use this blog to share information that may benefit my reflexology and hypnosis for birth clients or fellow therapists, I shy away from writing very personal blogs and only occasionally do. This entry however does go along a more personal path, lets hope it’s still a useful and interesting post!


"Breathe. You’re going to be okay. Breathe and remember that you’ve been in this place before. You’ve been this uncomfortable and anxious and scared, and you’ve survived. Breathe and know that you can survive this too. These feelings can’t break you. They’re painful and debilitating, but you can sit with them and eventually, they will pass. Maybe not immediately, but sometime soon, they are going to fade and when they do, you’ll look back at this moment and laugh for having doubted your resilience. I know it feels unbearable right now, but keep breathing, again and again. This will pass. I promise it will pass."
— Daniell Koepke

I was browsing pinterest a couple of days ago, I don’t tend to spend too much time on social media but I love skipping through the images, especially as I’m looking for inspiration for my new home in Kidderminster. I do get lots of quotes in my feed and one titled “Breathe” unsuprisingly jumped out at me.  This really summed up for me one of the reasons I chose breathe as a title for my work. I wanted to express how powerful breath is as a constant in our lives. How sometimes when life feels intolerable there are moments when all we need to do is breathe, when just breathing seems to be all we can do and that is enough.  

Hand in hand with this is my belief that taking time out to simply breathe when we are busy with our lives has benefits far beyond brief relaxation. When I started Breathe Holistic Therapy I was passionate about providing my clients with time and space to enjoy and embrace the experience of taking time out: time to breathe.


Many years ago I realised that I needed to be kinder to myself, and allowing myself to simply stop sometimes was key to that. I have always been goal driven, as so many of us are, and constantly searching for some form of perfection. I wrote a few words maybe 25 year ago that for me express this clearly and strongly, and while packing up for the house move I found them again.  It can be odd sometimes can't in when a number of things turn up that all get you thinking along the same lines!

joanne marie poem

Slow down, I need to breathe… taste the present… In those lines I hear myself talking about my desire to discover exactly what mindfulness meditation gives us. It took me another 20 years to discover mindfulness but the idea had certainly taken seed. I now find the three minute breathing space meditation incredibly valuable for myself and my clients. This short meditation provides for me the foundation of that wish to slow down and taste the present.

All the therapies I work with aim to fulfill my goal to give people time to breathe, to be present in their lives and to find resilience in that presence. Reflexology and mindfulness combined are for me especially key to this intention. Hypnosis for childbirth training also has the power of breathing at its core.  As my work grows and develops I am even more sure that Breathe was the right name for me!

For more information on anything here please do contact me.

 

Hypnobirthing Couples Share their Experiences

At Breathe Holistic therapy, Kidderminster, hypnobirthing is delivered using the easibirthing® method. I love to hear from new parents about their birthing experiences using hypnosis for childbirth.

The experience of child birth is unique and many parents wonder how hypnobirthing can help them. As a therapist I find one of the best ways for couples to understand the process and the benefits is to talk to other parents who have used the easibirthing® method. Many mums and dads-to-be come to hypnosis for childbirth training after hearing about its effects from their friends and people they have met on their pregnancy journey. Not everyone can talk directly to other hypnobirthers so the videos provided on this page are a great way to understand more about hypnotherapy for childbirth.  The recordings have been prepared by my trainer and founder of easibirthing® Sharon Mustard.  

If you have any questions please do contact me  for more information.  We can arrange a free consultation to discuss your needs if you prefer.  The course is covered in five hours with appointment times and lengths to suit your needs. All supporting material is included in the course cost of £250.00, (e.g six hypnosis mp3s, informative notes and affirmations) The sessions are not on a group basis but for single couples. As a qualified hypnotherapist I can tailor the training to your own specific needs rather than a set course for everyone. If, for example, you have a specific fear or have experienced a traumatic event then we can address this either within your course or in addition depending on the issue. 

For more information videos please visit Hypnobirthing West Midlands on you tube

Posted on March 7, 2016 and filed under hypnotherapy, hypnobirthing.

Reflexology and Hypnotherapy in the news

I'm always interested to see reflexology and hypnotherapy in the news.

I may not know very much about the magazine stars but I am  pleased to see the therapies I am passionate about discussed.  This week I have read about actress  Samia Ghadie benefiting from maternity reflexology and enjoying baby reflexology.  Also,  Kim Kardashian is reportedly using hypnotherapy to encourage her breech baby to turn.

In her blog for OK magazine Samia Ghadie discusses her use of reflexology in her pregnancy and how she is now learning baby reflexology with her baby Yves:

I mentioned a couple of blogs back how reflexology had helped alleviate my pregnancy back pain. Since then I've started a baby reflexology course with Yves.
We've had 2 sessions so far and it's been so cute seeing all the babies on their changing mats ready for their pampering! 
We've focused on learning how to calm baby down when they get a bit grizzly and also how to help their digestion and common complaints like reflux and constipation. I've been practicing on Yves everyday and it is really making a difference.

Baby reflexology is a great skill for all parents, and it is really very easy to learn. Samia is attending a group which can be a lovely way to meet other mums but if you prefer to learn on an individual basis you can at Breathe Holistic Therapy.  Many mums, like Samia, choose to learn baby reflexology after enjoying reflexology in their pregnancy.  Reflexology for babies is also a technique that dads benefit from learning;  it can help them to feel more skilled and confident when handling their new babies.  

In a separate blog Kim Kardashian's  breech baby is discussed. Kim explains how she is trying everything she can to encourage her baby to turn into the head down position for child birth:

I even started acupuncture where I burn moxa (mugwort) on my pinky toe every day! I am even attempting hypnosis!

Hypnotherapy to turn breech babies has been researched and shown to be a  very successful intervention.  Relaxation and visualisation can help to create the right internal environment for a relaxed mum and relaxed uterus enabling the baby to move into the head down position. Letting go of fear and stress relating to child birth through hypnobirthing can  also promote the optimal position for the baby in the womb.

 For more information on either baby reflexology or hypnotherapy for breech presentation please do contact me.