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Month: June 2017

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.