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The Birth of Suhaas

The Birth of Suhaas

Satnaam and Amrit attended one of my Couples Hypnobirthing Workshops.  Thanks so much for sharing your birth story.

“I can not recommend Hynobirthing enough especially taught by Louise.


This was my first pregnancy and naturally I was anxious and frightful of it all, despite how much I blocked out negative stories and shut down all birth experiences from those nearest and dearest.

It was my husband who bumped into Louise while walking the dogs at the park and also came across her details. We decided to go with it because it was a full day course in the comfort of her home with a few couples where we got one to one support. Furthermore Louise’s impressive experience and background reassured me.

By following all of Louise’s tracks, suggestions, breathing exercises etc. and equally my partner following it all we had a great and amazing birthing experience together.

Considering this was our first baby we initially decided with Pembury hospital but after hearing great stories about Crowborough Birthing Centre also signed up here.

So I went into early contractions on Wednesday 20th but the sensations were light, I felt them on and off on Thursday 21st so went about the day with my hubby roaming Tunbridge Wells. In fact in the evening the contractions were coming a bit closer together and I had already decided to attend a Positive Birth Movement  gatheringIMG_7227 from 7-9 pm at Louise’s house with another 15 odd heavily pregnant women. I have to say there were some great positive vibes, I hung on to one lady’s amazing first experience and I think this built up my own oxytocin levels.

I went home feeling calm, confident and in awe of these women. That night the contractions continued and by 4am I rang the midwives at the birthing centre. Whilst my waters had not broken I decided I did want to go there and off we went – on arrival whilst things had not fully started we decided to stay put and the midwives were so lovely.

By 9.30 am on the Friday my waters broke I was in the birth pool by 9.50 I was 6cm dilated, 2.30 pm moved out of the pool, 3pm 8 cm dilated, by 5pm dear baby daughter had pooped in the amniotic water and examination shows small side of cervix left but nearly fully dilated. Due the to the poop the birthing centre advised that it would be better to deliver quickly and at Pembury so the ambulance was called at 5.10pm I was fully dilated by 5.15 started pushing – up to this stage I was totally in my breathing and listening to my tracks and I was still very calm I went with the flow – as the progress of pushing has halted we made the decision to go to the hospital in the ambulance and arrived at Pembury at 6,15 I was totally calm on the journey and quite distracted by the chitter chatter and jokes,the head midwife at the hospital was a great support – by this stage I felt a bit exhausted and did hit the “I am so tired and can’t do this” stage that Louise talked about – but then pushed on and remembered the scene with Cameron Diaz from the film What to expect when you are expecting and yes our beautiful baby girl was born at 7.51 pm.

I can honestly say that it was an amazing experience not only did I not need any pain relief but I even forgot to ask about Gas and Air. It’s hard to believe and I was sceptical at the start of my pregnancy after reading these positive experiences but it was not painful they were honestly more like surges it’s just about having the continued stamina and perseverance to surrender to your body and let go of your mind.

I now have such a deep rooted fascination with what the female body is capable of.

Thank you so much Louise”

A Positive Birth Gathering JUST for Dads? … What the actual f…??

A Positive Birth Gathering JUST for Dads? … What the actual f…??

So, when the PBM topic was ‘Dads & Birth Partners’ I decided to invite dads and birth partners along to our evening gathering for this topic … it soon became clear that if I had mums AND dads there would be too many of us.  So, I made this meeting Partners Only….. and then sat back and assumed no one would come!

How wrong I was! Yes, there were some women who felt their partners wouldn’t want to come on their own but lots of dads bravely ventured, into my home without their pregnant partners to hide behind.

I made a rather sweeping assumption, but one that seemed to hit the nail on the head initially, by planning for this gathering to have more structure than the ones I facilitate just for women.  These blokes were giving up an evening and they would want to leave full of practical, useful information that they could put into practice. I drew up an agenda and planned a slick, board-meeting type of scenario… and swiftly assured the men, on arrival, that there would be no hand-holding, stroking or group hugs. Again, by the relieved looks on their faces, I’d hit the nail on the head with that reassurance – because, men and women are different in lots of ways.

Not all men, but many, see a problem or an issue and swiftly reach a conclusion about what the problem is and how to fix it. They also often take themselves off alone, or lose themselves in, say,  an x-box game or hobby when they are worried or stressed, often going inward – probably where the ‘man-cave’ and love of sheds clichés come from.

Women, on the other hand often engage with others, chatting through problems with other women more readily. We’ve all been there, all over the world it seems that all women need to bond is a couple of chairs and a pot of tea or bottle(s) of wine. It generates oxytocin, it makes us feel better.

These differences stood out to me when I started by asking the dads what was worrying them right now.  They talked about fixing practical things, making sure that their pregnant partners had those issues dealt with for them, but at the same time they felt it didn’t seem to be enough for the pregnant women, they needed something else.

And so we discussed the differences I’ve mentioned above – why women want to talk things through, why the way we react to stress is different, the fact that our ability to experience a situation and remember it on an emotional level may be more profound.  The fact that we will talk around a problem at different levels in a way that raises our oxytocin, that we don’t necessarily need it ‘fixing’.

We went on to consider just listening, being really present instead. Taking time out of each day to do that now, even if it means setting their alarms 10 minutes earlier each day to do so. How, if we understand these differences, it will make a difference in communication and make connection with each other better and …. how this understanding will serve both, not only in their relationship in general and for years to come, but absolutely during pregnancy, birth and early parenthood.

Of course within these discussions the word ‘oxytocin’ came up several times, and so discussions around what it is and it’s role in labour and birth were prevalent, the dads quickly figured out themselves what will help labour progress, what won’t and why ….  considering environment and support, place of birth and all sorts of other things in between!

Pregnancy is a catalyst because it changes us. It’s not just about birth and babies, it’s about mums and dads, personal growth, trust, confidence, hopes, fears and anxieties.
If couples aren’t attending any antenatal education courses (and many don’t), women do, at least, have their midwives to get information from and talk through concerns with, as well as their female friends.  Who do men turn to?

I’m aware that many men have either female friends or sisters to turn to, or may relate to their male friends differently, but in my personal experience, in general, antenatally, men are seriously lacking in support just for them, in having a place where they can go to look at all this just from their perspective.

I’d assumed this Partners Only gathering would be the polar opposite of the Women Only ones, but actually it turned out to be not so much, because we all need a space to share and get support and information don’t we? These dads really enjoyed the time spent with other dads who are all expecting a baby soon and have similar concerns and excitement about the journey ahead, and so in future I will be giving over some of the Positive Birth Movement Tunbridge Wells evening gatherings to partners only.
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The good news is that The Positive Birth Movement now has a FB page just for partners!

I’d really, really love to hear your thoughts and those of your partners, so please do get in touch.

Homebirth Hypnobirths … we are in ROYAL Tunbridge Wells, after all!

Homebirth Hypnobirths … we are in ROYAL Tunbridge Wells, after all!

The media’s reporting that The Duchess of Cambridge wants a home birth this time around. I’ve no idea whether this is actually the case or not, but it’s sounds quite probable given that she’s had (as far as we know) 2 straightforward births using hypnobirthing techniques already and this option is recommended by NICE and supported by evidence.

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In this post I’m talking about birth and choices in a situation where the mum and baby are healthy and coping well… a situation that Kate has found herself in with her previous two births and which will obviously influence her decisions this time.

What I’d like to happen most of all is that Kate gets to birth her baby wherever she wants to – wherever she feels safest and not just where obstetricians or people in suits decide they will be most comfortable with.

It’ll come as no surprise though, that if she does birth her baby at home I’ll be doing a little celebratory dance!

Anyone who knows me will know that’s not because I think home birth is better than birth in a hospital, birth centre or via caesarean, but because I know for a fact that there’s a mistrust in our culture around normal birth that comes from fear and lack of understanding. The Duchess of Cambridge along with every other woman should be able to make an informed choice about where they have their babies that isn’t just based on fear.

We’ve all heard of ‘the Kate effect’ – it’s BIG! A survey published last year showed that she has a huge influence in driving women towards a fashion purchase – I have no doubt that if she decides to birth at home this ‘effect’ will sway opinion and considerations for women in this area too, in fact she has the power to influence generations.

We know that the Queen had 4 calm homebirths (ok, palacebirths 🙂 ) with a midwife she knew and trusted (Helen Rowe attended all her births) and that she also thanked an antenatal teacher, Betty Parsons (who also ‘taught’ Princess Diana) who talked about the main principles of Hypnobirthing … the effect of the subconscious mind on fear and anxiety, and the foundations of learning active relaxation, breathing and using visualisations.

When the hundreds of women I’ve supported give their reasons for their choice in place of birth, the ones (without medical reasons) who choose the hospital are almost always doing so because they are scared – they’re thinking ‘just in case something goes wrong’ and I get that, but it shows me that programmes like One Born Every Minute and the horror stories that they hear WAY more than positive birth stories are having more of an impact on them than actual evidence.

The issue here is that we tend to take on other people’s experiences as our own – we think ‘what if that happens to me?’ and so when highly regarded celebrities like Fearne Cotton and Davina McCall talk about their calm, positive, empowering birth experiences I do jump for joy a little bit because it gets people thinking.

I’m pretty certain that if The Duchess of Cambridge has her next baby at home, women will be thinking something along the lines of “Wow! She’s popping out actual heirs to the throne! If she was ‘allowed’ surely it must be a safe option! …. Perhaps I’ll look into it”

 

The Birth of Maya

The Birth of Maya

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Anna shares her story of the cathartic birth of Maya at Crowborough Birth Centre this weekend …

“Having had a wobbly few days as the end of pregnancy drew near I felt a refreshed calm and stillness descending. Was relieved to identify unmistakable ‘show’ while in the toilets at a toddler distraction activity (trampoline park – his heaven) on Friday morning. Cramps were evident and increasing. So excited! After a trip to the birth centre confirmed my waters were in tact I was advised to crack on as normal until either waters went or contractions 3 in 10 mins. So crack on I did! Monty (toddler) and I got a bus to the Pantiles and wandered to the park. By 5pm a lady in the park enquired as to my wellbeing – I must have been pulling faces as the contractions ramped up! Should I go home potentially – she gently suggested. Toby came to pick us up in the car and I was getting a bit sore now. We put Monty to bed together and I felt quite emotional as I knew he wasn’t going to be my only baby for much longer. After a typically protracted bedtime and some deep breathing through increasingly intense contractions, shit started to get real once Monty was asleep. I focussed on breathing and we rang my parents. Soon realised we needed immediate respite in order to get to the birth centre as the contractions were coming thick and fast. By the time my sister in law arrived to babysit while my parents drove over I was ‘cracking on’ and having to focus fully. The drive to Crowborough was somewhat intense with every pothole and turn causing gasps and my poor husband coped well!

On arrival at Crowborough I practically fell on all fours through the doors, met by a midwife who didn’t leave me from that point on. Having initially directed me gently through to the assessment room, they diverted me straight to delivery as I was contracting so frequently. On inspection (with some gas and air – what a relief!) I was overjoyed to be told I was 7cm.

The midwife spotted my birth plan in with my notes and asked for it, I loved her instantly. She was a careful mix of hands off but gently guided me. I asked to get in the water and Toby set up our laptop with the labour affirmations track. We were in business!

The water was a blessed relief. Some gas and air plus another hour of contractions – pretty full on but not insurmountable, I felt a different sort of urge. I turned over in the pool so my back could arch under me – the midwife said my waters were bulging but they hadn’t broken
still. A strong visual image of my uterus contracting helped me as my body took over. One enormous sensation like doing a massive involuntary poo and her head came down followed by her body in one big whoosh! And there she was! In her membranes which burst as she came up. I was so so shocked in a very good way. It was done! Incredible out of body feeling and I felt strong! The music kept my mind anchored to the practise and rhythm we had rehearsed over and over.

A few stitches (more gas and air – a fun Friday night high) and the placenta, I had a shower and the best tea and toast EVER. Totally ecstatic and she is beautiful.

So many cathartic feelings following a much more difficult and traumatic delivery of my son nearly 3 years ago. This time I stayed fitter physically with help from Sam Rathmell at TWPT my awesome PT and I focussed on my mental fitness in equal measure with Louise Daniels – Hypnobirthing Tunbridge Wells. Team effort that helped Toby and I smash it, so grateful. The birth centre was the right choice for me too. All came together. Win! “

This weekend’s clickbait Headlines

This weekend’s clickbait Headlines

One of my followers alerted me to a tweet by India Knight this weekend referring to this Times piece.

The first thing I saw was India’s tweet saying “… it doesn’t matter how your baby comes out as long as you’re both ok”. I was still on my holiday so decided to read no further, because I knew I’d get wound up and distracted from precious time with my family.

I haven’t yet met a woman who truly didn’t give a shit about her birth experience. All women want their baby to be born safely and that’s their overriding priority, but if women really weren’t bothered about how they felt emotionally about the experience this topic in the headlines wouldn’t have even arisen. So, when someone as high profile and highly regarded as India Knight publicly spouts this kind of bollocks, I get quite riled. To me, it sounds like she’s saying to women “Shut up and get on with it, you’re feelings don’t matter”. They do matter, very much.

This is a woman who’s had (I think) three babies. If she hadn’t had any I’d think “Ok, she’s speaking from a place of ignorance” but she’s actually just not thinking, not giving this issue the consideration required given her position.

Anyway, that aside … back to that misleading piece in the Times implying that the whole commitment to supporting women to birth physiologically wherever possible is to be abandoned by the RCM… it’s not. There’s just a change in language being implemented.

I’m hoping that the whole incongruity of a piece, about the importance of language, being so fallacious hasn’t escaped you! Really harmful click bate here because those headlines are what many will run with, without reading the full article so those attention grabbing headlines aren’t harmless by any means.

The piece describes the word ‘normal’ in relation to birth as being a ‘loaded’ one. How? If we’re talking about healthy women and babies then this word is the definition of what would be expected – a physiological birth. However, I tend to use and prefer the word ‘straightforward’ because the opposite of ‘normal’ would be ‘abnormal’ and I get how that has unpleasant connotations.

The argument seems to be that some will read ‘normal birth campaign’ as ‘we need to have more normal births at all costs’. Now, what I’m wondering is, if we are genuinely dealing with hoards of absolute fuckwit healthcare professionals who have interpreted the RCM’s Normal Birth Campaign in this way, then how will changing the word to ‘physiological’ change that? (To be absolutely clear, I categorically DON’T believe that’s what we’re dealing with! It makes a good headline though, granted). It won’t.

I’m also extremely affronted by the term used in the piece: ‘the CULT of normal’ a quick scan of the dictionary defines ‘cult’ as a practice regarded as ‘strange or as imposing excessive control …’ again, another suggestive use of language, inappropriately.

I do see the point that the word ‘Campaign’ may be loaded, as in ‘Normal Birth Campaign’ and so I think I quite like the new term ‘Better Births Initiative’.   Here’s why – what’s going to make ANY birth better? … here’s what – being informed, respect, being part of decision making, continuity of care, environment, parents feeling confident, calm, peaceful births HOWEVER they happen. The trouble is that this isn’t always well supported in an NHS system. So, it’s down TO YOU to get all this in place, and that work is done IN ADVANCE of the day you go into labour!

These ‘Better Births’ might be with or without medical pain relief such as epidurals, of course and let’s be clear – the Normal Birth Campaign has never been opposed to these, BUT, there’s been confusion over it where ‘normal’ has been misconstrued as ‘without pain relief’ by many. I suspect the term ‘better’ will suffer exactly the same misinterpretation.

So, my overriding feeling on this change in terminology is just ‘Meh, … Whatever’. HERE’S what’s important …. For God’s sake take some responsibility! No one cares about you, your baby and your partner as much as YOU do – get clued-up! So that you’re ABLE to ask questions and have respectful discussions in an INFORMED way. Have an UNDERSTANDING of what helps labour progress and what doesn’t. Build your toolbox (BOTH of you) of self-help skills to use, knowing that you ALSO have the option of ALL the medical pain relief options if you want them!

Above all know this – where we are now, geographically and in time, BIRTH IS SAFE. We have interventions available IF WE NEED THEM and that’s great, yes? We don’t ALWAYS need them though, so it makes sense to start our education and understanding from the point of normal/straightforward/physiological until indicated otherwise.

 

The Birth of Rose

The Birth of Rose

Thank you Emily for sharing your positive Hypnobirthing story … welcome to The World, Rose! x

Hi Louise,

Our little girl, Rose Amelie Reeves, arrived last Friday morning after an 8 hour labour. 
My contractions started just before midnight and came on thick and fast. We called the birth centre who told us to sit tight for another hour or so and monitor the contractions. They were already regular as clockwork so I put on my tens machine played my hypnobirthing tracks and breathed them out in bed. An hour later, they were over a minute long and coming every 3-4 minutes. 
We then set off, me breathing my way through each one – I was amazed how slow and deep I was managing to breathe! Once at the centre, at about 4am, they examined me and I was shocked to be told I was already 8cm! I think the midwives were quite impressed that I’d managed to get that far with just the tens machine!
But, my birth centre experience wasn’t to be because when my waters ruptured, there was meconium in them so it was off to Pembury for us! The ambulance ride was bumpy but bearable / I could even tell where we were en route by the smell of cabbages in the fields and the roundabouts! I was grateful for gas and air at this point, but still kept focused on my breath and keeping calm. 
Once in the delivery suite, it slowed down a bit and took another couple of hours to reach 10cm. During this time baby had to be monitored and she remained calm throughout. I remember being very aware of being in transition but just talking myself through by being calm and focused. It took 45 minutes to push her out and I just feel like it was the most lovely experience. 
Yes, of course it hurt but I am so proud to have a positive birth experience to share!
Thank you so much for all your tips, I have raved about it to so many people now. 
Best wishes,
Emily 
A Dad’s Hypnobirthing Story

A Dad’s Hypnobirthing Story

More on The Birth of Alfie … Mum Rosie shared her story and here Alfie’s Dad, Ryland’s explains why he’d recommend my Hypnobirthing Workshops to other partners.

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Hi Louise,

As you know from the class I was very sceptical about the whole Hypnobirthing way, and even up until the main parts of labour was, but I must admit with out it I don’t know how Rosie would’ve managed, I’m sure fine but the Hypnobirthing definitely helped… just being there and being able to reassure her and keep reminding her of everything she had learned leading up to the birth seemed worth it. I found myself remembering things I didn’t even know I had taken in and putting them into practise “blow the dial” especially.

Rosie really leapt head first into the whole process from the day she decided to use Hypnobirthing, and it really showed when she went into labour, even in the hardest parts while at home she managed to stay calm and keep going through the motions. I mean, she was basically pushing our little Alfie out while at home and didn’t even realise it until the midwifes at the hospital told us to immediately get in the car and drive up, even during that drive, which was possibly more emotional then the actual birth, she was using her new learnt skills.

For any father/partner who is sceptical about the whole process I would recommend at least giving it a go, even if after you’re still a bit unsure, if your wife/partner is going to use it support them. Take in what you can, it will all become apparent during birth and will benefit all of you involved. It was one of the most magical things I’ve ever been involved with and the fact Rosie was so calm during it made it that much more special.

Many thanks,

Ryland

The Birth of Alfie

The Birth of Alfie

Dear Louise,

I did it!!!!!!!!!! Alfie Thomas was born on Monday 29th May 2017 at 3:56am. I can’t believe he’s here and I made it through labour!!!!!!!!

I wanted to share my story with you as I feel you (and your voice!) played a huge part in getting me through!

I surprisingly hadn’t been nervous for labour, maybe I was naive but I just felt there was nothing I could do but remain positive and see what happened.

I had been practising the tracks each afternoon since our day with you at 36weeks and even though my body felt totally relaxed I had to work hard to calm my mind. Without being skeptical I was unsure if I could really remember all this and do it when the time came. I had made a little cotton bag with lavender in – which actually stayed with me from first contraction to the birth!!!! I had no idea how much that would do for me!!!

Contractions started on Sunday afternoon at 2.40pm (was due to be induced on Monday first thing as overdue but Alfie got the hint and started things off!)

Contractions were 1 min in length from the beginning and started at 8 mins apart. From the first contraction I closed my eyes and blew the dial and even though they were mild the focus was exactly what I needed.

Contractions got closer together fast, each hour or so it was closing by a min, we tried to walk but didn’t get far, so came back and over the next few hours I had a few baths, lay on side, rolled around over a ball….. all done calmly and with your tracks playing on repeat. (I found myself listening to preparation for c section a few times as we just let it play in the background to keep us all chilled). I’m not convinced it was what was said specifically on the day I was listening too but the music, your voice, and the calmness is what got me through.

……so I continued…..I amazed myself how calm I was, I felt the pain but Ryland was incredible just reminding me to focus on the breathing and keeping me calm. At about 9.30pm contractions 2 mins apart and 1 min in length we called ahead and went in.

The worst part for me was being strapped down in the car for the journey, it made it much harder and can totally now see why being active in labour is the way to go!!

We arrived in triage…. and I was begging for pain relief by now but still breathing through each painful contraction…….the midwife examined me…. at 10.45pm….. 2 cm….. to which I responded by projectile vomiting 6 times! (On reflection this could have been transition?!?!) hahaha This is where my self doubt started creep in, I couldn’t understand how I was 2cms with such intense contractions and no option for pain relief until at least 4cm!!! (also remembering I had had a sweep on Friday which I was 1.5cm …. so in 3 days I had gone 0.5cm…. !!) she sent us for a 1 hour walk round hospital and then back home…..she told Ryland to stop for food and drink on way home…. more time strapped down in the car!!! By this point I was loosing my calm a little and by the time we got home 30 mins later I had jumped back in the bath and had Ryland feeding me salad and lucozadde…but I had the most insane urge to push….uh oh!! I did however convince myself I was constipated…. I had just been told 1 hour ago I was 2 cm…..so I was in and out of bath pushing pushing in agony thinking oh great constipation is all I need right now! Luckily after about 45 mins Ryland called midiwfe back who heard me and told him to get me back asap and if I gave birth in the car to call them!!!!!

So off we went in the most insane thunder and lightening storm back to hospital, I have vivid memories of opening my eyes and seeing the most incredible lightening while Ryland rocketed down the country lanes, he kept saying put your hand there and see if there’s a head!!! We ditched car in front and got up to triage where they got me on bed told me I was full dilated and whisked me off to the birthing unit…lavender bag still in hand!!

They got me in the pool with candles and dim lights and gave me gas and air which calmed me down a little. I had Ryland in front to focus on 3 incredible midwives encouraging me and understanding my wishes….this is where I was able to regain some breathing, sniffing the lavender and breathing every time I had the urge. After 1 hour I wasn’t making huge progress in the pool.

They got me out the pool and on the floor and took the gas and air away from me and after some serious pushing out came my gorgeous baby boy!!!!!!!

Now…. (not then!) I feel so incredibly amazed and proud I did it all without pain relief (except my 1 hour on gas and air before they took it away to push!) and slightly confused as to how I went from 2cms at 10.45pm to fully dilated by about 12 midnight but my body just decided to speed things up I guess!!!!

The lavender was a habit by the end and one that made the world of difference… one midwife said that during a contraction I was breathing in the lavender and when I breathed out she could smell it on my breath…..hehe!

At one point …. not the most appropriate moment… Ryland asked if I wanted him to shake my apples!!! Haha he remembered but we had missed that boat by then!!!

Anyway, after birth we had gorgeous skin to skin and family time for 2 hours. It was perfect! The midwife suggested next time I have a home birth due to dilating extremely quickly….2cm-10cm in about 2hours. Which we would definitely consider

Thank you so much for teaching us, I remember saying to Ryland in labour…. how do people do this without a focus!!! I was blowing that dial like there was no tomorrow!!! I’m so pleased I did it for my first baby, so I know I can do it and that it works.

I asked Ryland if he thought I actually hypnobirthed as I have memories of being a bit wild towards the end and his reaction was surprising, he said I absolutely did it and couldn’t believe how well I did!! I think it surprised him also how focused I was, I don’t think he truly believed until he saw me in action that it was going to make a huge difference. He works away in the week so hadn’t seen me practise either so for him to see I think it was quite amazing.

I’m so interested to see if Alfie will recognise your voice, from all the pregnancy practise and being on repeat for 9 out of 14 hours of labour!!! Will play him the tracks and see what he does! And would love to introduce you to him soon!

Thanks again, sorry for the garbled message but without wanting to sound like I didn’t believe everything you said, I just can’t believe that my body and mind remembered and I managed to keep it up for so long. So I wanted to tell you, I did it, it worked and I’m forever thankful to you for your help in birthing my beautiful baby boy.

Love Rosie xxxx

Ps – oh and please tell your brother in law that music was well used!! 9 hours non stop at least!!!!!! Haha

 

Looking good? Happy? Healthy? … loving every bloody maternal moment????

Looking good? Happy? Healthy? … loving every bloody maternal moment????

As mums you’ll all be aware that sometimes …. actually, realistically A LOT of the time we’re judged about the choices we make. To be fair, I doubt that there’s anyone who could, hand on heart, say that they themselves have never judged (even a teeny, tiny bit?) other mums for the choices they make, right?

And this judging and being judged (as a mother) begins when we are pregnant. Suddenly it’s as if everyone …. your friends, family, work colleagues, strangers on the street have a god-given right to question and give their opinion on what you’re eating, drinking, if and how you exercise, will you take all the scans offered? Will you pay for extra ones? 3D ones? Will you find out the sex of your baby before it’s born? Where you’re planning on having your baby, what you wear whilst pregnant, whether you’re still having regular sex … whether or not that’s ok, if you’ll go back to work immediately, after a year, not at all, whether or not your partner will take shared parental leave, what you’ll call your baby, how you’ll feed it, will you use a dummy? …. Co sleep? Attachment parenting, or Gina Ford?

Not all of the people asking you questions, making suggestions etc. are doing so in a judgy or ill-informed way, many of them will be doing so because they care about you and your baby either because they are your loved ones or it’s their job to do so – midwives for example.

So, first of all, worth separating out the people you do really need to engage with to get information and those like, maybe, Aunty Sue who last had a baby 30-odd years ago but knows EVERYTHING about pregnancy, birth and babies because she’s “ Errr, given birth to and raised three kids and they’re all ok” …. Whatever Aunty Sue’s or your best mate’s experience was, it’s not yours. Whatever you hear about their birth experience, it’s just a snap shot, you’re rarely privy to the whole picture. When we hear other people’s experiences we can hear facts that may be taken out of context and we also tend to take on that experience as our own …. ‘that could happen to me …. Imagine if that happened to me’.

When a woman becomes pregnant there’s an element of her immediately being treated as high risk until proven otherwise… she’s signed up for scans, tests, check-up appointments to make sure that everything’s ok, to check for things going wrong. And whilst I’m not suggesting for one moment that women forgo any of these what I always urge them to do is to be aware, appreciate that with each midwife appointment and every scan comes an element of anxiety … the woman is going along to check that everything’s ok. When she’s told that it is, a sigh of relief, important reassurance.

And so with all of this bombardment of opinions, appointments, choices to be made, comes an underlying fear and anxiety for most mums … even the ones for whom conceiving was a breeze and being pregnant’s going smoothly are going to feel this on some level.

If we add to that the wallpaper of fear that seems to surround birth from the stories women hear, the portrayal in the media, One Born Every bloody Minute (don’t watch it, just don’t! … if you want to know why, do ask me) then it’s not surprising that many women are scared witless about the prospect of pushing a baby out.

Women are scared about birth and they’re scared about becoming a mother, and so are their partners. I see it all the time and with some I get the opportunity to overthrow that prominent prevailing narrative at my free Positive Birth Movement groups and in NCT antenatal classes.

Then there’s Hypnobirthing …. ‘it works’ said Clemmie Hooper at the recent, sell-out Mums The Word event. Not only does it ‘work’ but it’s a bloody game-changer not just for birth but also for that transition to parenthood for mums and dads. Hypnobirthing parents are informed, confident and supported – three really important ingredients for any parent.

I say over and over again to couples – Hypnobirthing isn’t the equivalent of waving a magic wand or fairy dust over the labouring woman. But it IS the best birth preparation for any birth whether that’s at home, a birth centre, in a hospital or by planned caesarean.

Many of the women who come to my Hypnobirthing Workshops do go on to have straightforward births and credit Hypnobirthing with that, which is lovely for me, but, of course, there are many other factors that come into play. When parents find their birth taking a different direction, what they come back to me over and over again and say is that at no point was it overwhelming. Any birth can be calm and peaceful and learning to navigate unforeseen or difficult situations confidently and calmly is not only a fabulous tool for parents during labour but a great life lesson too.

Addressing fears and re-framing them, learning how and why to trust your instincts along with all the other Hypnobirthing tools and techniques are vital for your life as a parent as well as for your pregnancy and the day you birth your baby. Changing the way you think about or view a situation will change your experience of it.

Recognising the messages you’re bombarded with daily is important …. messages suggesting that unless you’re holding it all together, looking good, being happy, being healthy, pleasing everyone …. basically loving EVERY bloody maternal moment, you are, to a certain degree, inadequate or weak.

I’ve been cajoled onto Instagram because it’s where my ‘target audience’ are. I love it. But I have to admit to struggling to post a pretty picture on a regular basis … I’m middle-aged and tubby for a start and I don’t have a brood of angelic looking babies and toddlers anymore to pepper my feed with! Much as I enjoy Instagram and the like, I do know that it feeds these messages I’ve just mentioned … the rise of the ‘Instamum’, the ‘MumBoss’ etc. sucks us all in, even old crones like me, to this perfect vision of parenthood and life in general. Of course, there’s a big backlash to this, with fantastic, honest, funny mums sharing stories of how they actually AREN’T quite ‘nailing it’ …. but even most of them don’t tend to look truly dog-rough, do they? And, anyway they’re so FUNNY (add that to the above list – wittiness is also essential).

Whether you’re pregnant, a mum with small children or actually just any old human being, you will benefit from taking time out of your day to actively relax (as opposed to lying on the sofa watching telly), to breathe properly, calm your mind and reframe unhelpful thoughts – if that means setting your alarm 5 minutes earlier in the morning or going to bed earlier at night DO IT!

If Birth Doesn’t Go To ‘Plan’

If Birth Doesn’t Go To ‘Plan’

As soon as I received this email from Sophie I knew I needed to share it for a couple of reasons:

“Hey Louise,

So our little man has finally made his arrival with much protest and reluctance!! Haha!! 
After a 50 hour labour, and dilation of only 2cm, he was finally born by c-section on Wednesday.

I could be experiencing total shock at the delivery as it was very scary at times and the complete antithesis of all I had preferences for but thanks to you (so much) for all the positive birth chats and hypnobirthing techniques I feel really positively about the whole experience. 

… just wanted to say a huuuuge thank you!! You’ve been my biggest support (as well as Will of course) throughout pregnancy and I’m so happy our paths crossed. 

Much love,

Soph xxx”

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First of all to reiterate what I say over and over again on workshops – my overriding aim is that you have the tools, techniques, knowledge and confidence to have a calm, peaceful, empowering birth whatever path it takes.

When I hear about births that didn’t go as ‘planned’ but where parents were able to apply the Hypnobirthing techniques they’d learnt with me, I know it makes a MASSIVE difference.

Secondly, as Sophie expresses here the, ongoing support that all my Hypnobirthing parents receive, unreservedly, from me is invaluable … being able to really express their fears as many times as they like with someone knowledgeable, that they know and trust really is gold-standard care and support.

So, whilst you could just read a Hypnobirthing book and listen to some tracks, having personal support on the phone, by email and in person is always going to outshine that option.

Sometimes people say to me ‘you must be inundated with mums & dads wanting to talk stuff through with you, it must be so time-consuming’ – you would think so, but 3 things occur to me here: Firstly, and most importantly, this is something I love and I’m passionate about – supporting mums and dads whatever their choices in the best way I can. I honestly never get bored of it! …. I learn from it myself, constantly, because no two people are the same.

Secondly, chatting to someone on the phone for 10-15 minutes isn’t actually that time-consuming – I can do it while I’m cooking, while I’m walking the dog and if it’s really not convenient I’ll just call them back when it is. I probably spend about 15 mins each day in total talking on the phone to someone or answering an email with a list of questions – it’s no biggy for me but can have an ENORMOUS effect on the person I’m supporting.

And, finally … I’m very conscious in everything I put out (website, social media stuff etc.) that I actually only want to attract my ideal client. I don’t try to sound clever, I don’t try to appeal to all, because, quite frankly, I don’t want to work with someone who’s not going to ‘get’ my sense of humour, or someone who’s just ticking a box ‘Yep, been to Hypnobirthing. Job done’ who isn’t willing to then put in the commitment afterwards, I don’t want to work with someone who’s going to take offence at the language I use or the fact that I’m quite blunt. Consequently, I tend to attract clients who’ve already decided I’m their kind of person, who I’m going to get on with, like and really enjoy supporting.

Some parents leave the workshop genuinely needing no further support and just get in touch once they’ve had their baby, some parents make lots of contact in the run-up to their birth … it all evens itself out time-wise.

Sophie is one of those clients I’ve mentioned above – I really like her and enjoyed our interesting discussions and I’m truly delighted by this email. Her birth didn’t go the way she’d expected but she’s been empowered by a positive birth experience anyway, because she prepared well …. and can I just say, RESPECT! ….  50 bloody hours of labour?! … this is one strong mum.