Kasey began to independently compare the outcomes of birthing mothers who attended the Positive Birth Program and those who did not take up the program.
“We collated our results in a quality improvement project for the first year this program was running and found a decrease in all medical interventions,” she says.
Specifically, she found a 32 per cent decrease in the use of epidurals, a 40 per cent decrease in the use of morphine, a 51 per cent reduction in non-elective caesarean sections, a 15 per cent reduction in inductions and a 22 per cent increase in vaginal births.
“The most significant benefit to me has been the emotional one,” she highlights.
“The program makes such a difference to those women whose pregnancy or birth may take an unexpected turn or whose labour is a true endurance event or those who require medical intervention by providing them and their birth partners with a whole toolbox of tools to navigate their birth and be empowered to work with their team for what they feel is important to them and their baby.”
The WA Country Health Service program was extended via telehealth to families during COVID public health restrictions, an option that the majority of parents-to-be said they preferred as they enjoyed not having to leave their loungerooms and it was less intimidating to ask questions via screen than in a room full of strangers.
The WA Country Health Service continues the telehealth option, in addition, to the face-to-face option when COVID restrictions are lifted.
Kasey explains that the benefits extend to the newborn baby and to the new parents.
“If the birthing mother is calm during birth, she isn’t activating a fight/flight/freeze/appease response which means her stress hormones will be low and she will continue to provide blood and oxygen to the placenta and therefore the baby.”
Melissa adds that with less interventions during birth, mothers have a faster recovery time which proves helpful when looking after a newborn.
“We believe women have the power and inner knowledge to birth, but fear can stop us from trusting our instincts,” says Melissa.
“When we recognise and let go of unnecessary fears, we arm ourselves with knowledge, tools, support and preparation.
“Then, we are putting ourselves in the box seat for a more positive and empowered birth.”
She adds that anyone can do the course regardless of their pregnancy risks or birthing plans, including planned caesarean births.
The Positive Birth Program equips parents with techniques to help establish a positive mindset and feel empowered through the birth.
The first technique is breathing which helps physically, emotionally and mentally.
“When we are fearful, in pain and scared, we automatically hold our breath or start breathing through our mouth,” Melissa explains.
“This triggers the sympathetic part of our nervous system which causes our muscles to tense and stops the blood going to our uterus and our baby.”
Then there are relaxation techniques, where one is self-hypnosis.
“Self-hypnosis isn’t the only technique, but it’s the ‘secret sauce’ that differentiates hypnobirthing from other birthing programs,” Melissa says.
“It enables us, at will, to click into a very calm state quite quickly which you really need when a contraction happens.
“Self-hypnosis can help the mother to release important hormones during the birth like oxytocin and endorphins which are said to be 40 times more powerful than morphine for pain relief.
“Self-hypnosis is also useful during pregnancy as there is research which shows that anxiety and stress during pregnancy can affect an unborn baby.”
Other techniques like acupressure, massage, visualisation, movement and positioning are also taught.
“Feedback from participants of the program commonly says that feeling empowered during the birth leads them to feeling empowered as a parent in those first few months and beyond,” Melissa adds.