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But I have a Toddler - how can I find time to do Hypnobirthing??!

So you have a two year old, you're pregnant with your second, and it's really, REALLY tiring. Remember the first time around when you could just nap when you needed to and maternity leave meant vegging on the sofa eating Haribo, watching daytime TV? Not so much the second time round and it's really bloody hard right? And then there's me telling you that you need to find time to relax? And you think 'really lady?!!'. 

I know lovely, I've been there too - when I was pregnant with my third baby, I was dealing with a 3 year old and a 2 year old and, quite frankly, it sucked a lot of the time. I was just permanently knackered and they were just permanently crazy. It was relentless. I literally forgot I was pregnant for a lot of the first two trimesters - one memorable occasion a lady at a toddler group asked me when I was due, and I actually asked her 'when's what due?' She must've thought I was batsh*t crazy as five seconds later I remembered I was pregnant and told her when I was due.  BUT. I knew that I had to do something, I knew that I had to make time for this poor little baby who hadn't asked to be the third down in the pecking order. I knew how important it was to create space, time and love just for him or her.

And so this is how I know that it can be done - you just have to be a bit more flexible with it. In my continuing experience a lot of the relaxation techniques are actually massively beneficial for parenting too. When the children are going crazy and you're feeling the stress rise up, you have the tools and techniques to make you feel calm - and by practising this you are giving your baby some chill time and love too. Win-Win!!! 

When pregnant with second (or subsequent) baby you often just need to fall into bed at 8pm, but there's nothing stopping you falling into bed plugged in to your Relaxation audio, and falling asleep to the positive self hypnosis tracks. 

I KNOW it's difficult, but I also know that it is so worth it and you and this little baby will benefit so much from you just squeezing in any relaxation practice that you can each day. You deserve it, and this little one does too. 

There are some really interesting studies around how what we do during pregnancy shapes who are babies become. There's a wonderful TED talk here, where a scientist explains several studies that have been undertaken which have determined that our babies whole brain structure is altered according to our behaviours during pregnancy! For example how we eat determines how their metabolism is formed, if they perceive that they are coming into a world of scarcity because Mummy isn't eating much, then their body will form so that they store calories when they eat to keep them going for longer. Amazing right?

I tell you this not to terrify you, but to remind you of how important it is to care for yourself, and to just take any minutes you can to sit quietly with your bump and relax each day.  Many of the relaxation and breathing techniques we learn in Hypnobirthing can be done whilst sitting with a toddler who's playing. Your toddler will just think you're Supermum being all calm and chilled - and I can pretty much guarantee you'll notice a change in their behaviour too. 

In practical terms, a Hypnobirthing course is 5 sessions - so this means either finding a babysitter for 5 two hour slots, or having the classes privately in your home after your other child or children are in bed. It is achievable, and it is definitely worth it, I promise you! 

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What do I need to have ready for baby?

Much like the Hospital Bag scenario, it's really difficult to know exactly what you really need to have ready for baby's arrival, and what's surplus to requirements! There are so many things that you will be told that you absolutely MUST have for baby, the latest gadgets and gismos to make life easier. 

Everyone is different and chooses to live their lives differently, and that's what makes life interesting, but I personally believe that the majority of those gadgets and gismos for baby actually just make life more complicated and cluttered. 

So what do you actually need? Well a baby needs to be warm, fed, changed, loved and to sleep. Those are the things it actually needs. So with that in mind:

Clothes - well, yes. You'll need lots of vests, babygrows and hats. Depending on the time of year, they might also need a snowsuit to snuggle in for being outside (but this should be removed when they're in their car seat - see some guidelines on that here). It's always difficult to know if baby is warm enough, the best way to tell is to feel their chest or their back, it should just feel the same warmth as you. 

Food - if you're planning to breastfeed you've already got everything you need. If you're going to formula feed then you'll need formula, bottles, teats and a way to sterilise. You can get sucked into gadgetry here but you really don't need to. The easiest way to keep bottles sterile is to buy the traditional sterilising tablets and have a bowl in the kitchen with it in (replaced every 24 hours), and put bottles into it after you've washed them after each use. Then you've always got a sterile bottle ready to go, at the right temperature. If you buy a microwave steriliser, they are great but if you need a bottle NOW (which can happen!!) then it will be too hot straight after use and you'll have to wait for it to cool down. Ever tried explaining to a hungry baby that it needs to wait patiently???!!!!  And I will sound like my Mother now, but room temperature is right for baby as that is how your milk comes if you were breastfeeding. If you ever offer baby warmed milk you're really setting yourself up for trouble - be warned!!!! 

Also in the food category I would say Muslins - you cannot have enough muslins, you'll need one in every room and one in your changing bag. Baby's throw up, often on you when you're out! They also dribble whilst feeding or just after, having a mussy tucked under their chin or to hand to mop up is great. Buy lots of these!!!

Changing - The bag. God people spend £££££'s on changing bags! I've always found that a nice big handbag with lots of pockets is fine, it doesn't have to be an official 'changing bag' to serve it's purpose! 

You'll obviously need nappies (buy shares in these!), some people prefer cloth and some prefer disposable - it's your choice. Warm water and cotton wool is the gentlest way to clean baby's bottom, but this isn't practical when you're out so you will need wipes if you ever want to leave the house. I do strongly suggest buying a tub of vaseline, if you apply this generously to baby's bottom and bits after each nappy change, you will avoid nappy rash - it also means that poo doesn't stick to their skin and comes off easily. You're welcome. 

Sleeping - Again this comes down to choice, but baby is safe to co-sleep with you under usual circumstances, and you cannot spoil a newborn baby. Just because they co-sleep with you for the first couple of months of their lives (or longer), doesn't mean that they'll be 12 and sleeping in your bed. However it is important to be armed with the facts on co-sleeping, and you can find those with the Lullaby Trust. There are lots of options to have baby in your room and very close to you if you prefer not to co-sleep, such as a Moses basket next to your bed.

Baby will need other things as time goes on, but you will discover what you would like to have for him or her as you go along. You'll want a play mat or something that you can lay baby down on, but you won't need this immediately. 

The first few weeks baby will just need to be close to you - slings are amazing for this, and most (but not all) babies will be happy to just be in the sling with you whilst you are out and about. There are lots of sling libraries popping up now where you can try different types out to see how you like them before you buy one. 

When out and about you'll also want a car seat and a pram - this is pretty overwhelming for most of us, just have a play with things until you find the one that works for you. But please don't fall into the trap of carrying baby around everywhere in the car seat, it's not good for them and it's not good for your back! 

And finally: Love. And I'm pretty sure you've got that covered.

 

 

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How to shorten your labour by eating dates!

So we've been talking about the importance of eating Dates in the last month of pregnancy for several months now at Calm Births. So I thought it about time to actually sit down and take a look at the evidence!

So what's all this about eating dates? You may or not have heard but eating 6 dates per day will:

Lessen your chances of needing induction and make your labour shorter.

Woah there! Stop the press! What?! This is incredible news! So there have been a few good studies on this in the last few years and they all reached the same conclusions.

It is thought by Alkoran et al (2017) that date fruit 'probably influenced oxytocin receptors, caused more effective contractions, and better prepared the cervix for delivery'. Our ability to respond to Oxytocin (or, the 'hormone of love' as it's known) increases during pregnancy, and we produce more of it. All that lovely Oxytocin then encourages our uterine muscles to surge in order to ripen and open the cervix. So if dates are enhancing that process, then happy days! 

So as well as women being statistically more likely to go into spontaneous labour, they are also, according to these studies, going to be:

More dilated when arriving at a hospital/birth centre, more likely to have a vaginal birth and less likely to have a post-partum haemorrhage. 

Khadem et al (2007) found that 'date fruit has an oxytocin-like effect, leading to the increased sensitivity of the uterus, stimulating uterine contractions and reduces mean post partum haemorrhage'. 

The evidence is there, and reassuringly all studies conclude that Dates are beneficial for women during late pregnancy, as they reduce the need for intervention and there are no adverse effects on Mother or child. 

So - 6 dates a day from 36 weeks ladies! Ok, so admittedly dates aren't the most visually appealing fruit, and I know a lot of you are thinking yes but.. euughhh!!

 

 

So here are a few ideas for you on how to jazz them up a bit to eat them!

1. You can chop them up on cereal for a quick dose in the morning

 2. Some of these smoothies sound delish

3. Sticky toffee date cake? Yes please! 

4. A date and walnut cake, yum.

5. This super healthy Mongolian Beef recipe. 

I'd love to know how you get on with the date eating, has it worked for you? Have you any great recipes for Dates? I'd love to read your comments! x 

 

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Calm Births meets: Allison Dench from Magic Photography

This month I have had the pleasure of meeting up with the lovely Allison, the owner of Magic Photography. I am just wishing I had known Allison when I was pregnant and my babies were small, as she takes the most beautiful (non cheesy) bump and baby photos. She also does the cake smash shoots which I just think are so fun!

Here is what Allison had to say when we met, including her rather lovely Calm Births Discount!:

1) Tell us a bit about you, how long have you been a photographer? Where is your studio based & where do you do outside sessions?

I am a mum of two and have been a photographer for 8 years now, originally doing weddings but now focus solely on portraits. I have a home studio in Burghfield Common, near Reading where I mostly do bump, newborn and baby sessions up to age one. I also do older children and family shoots in the Burghfield area, normally in Wokefield Common and Hosehill Lake near Theale, between April and November. 

 

2) What kind of shoots do you do that Calm Births customers might be interested in?

Primarily Calm Births customers may be interested in maternity (bump) shoots and also newborn shoots which are very popular now in the UK. As their families grow and get older they may consider a sitting shoot after baby can sit up unaided between 6-10 months old, a First Birthday Cake Smash or a family shoot outdoors.

 

3) How does a typical maternity shoot go?

I do two types of maternity shoots, either in the Studio or outside on location. I normally do shots of both mum-to-be on her own normally holding her beautiful bump, close-up shots of the bump and I have a whole host of long maternity dresses that she can use to make her look amazing. We also do some couple shots and if they already have children we also include the children in some of the shots. They are free to bring any little cuddly toys or their scan photos to work into their photo shoots, I try to make them as personal as possible. In the studio we can also go for a more natural look or a more dramatic look playing around with the light. Outdoors, it is more of a lifestyle shoot where we use the countryside as a beautiful backdrop.

 

4) Photographing newborns must be lovely but tricky, how does it all work and what age does baby need to be?

Newborn shoots are always amazing but yes they can be quite tricky at times and they can take between 3-4 hours as we take breaks when baby needs to be fed or changed and there is pretty much always the odd accident! In order to get the babies posed they are best done within the first three weeks after birth as they are still very flexible and normally quite sleepy. I normally try and do some shots of baby on their own, some in props and then some with the parents. They are mostly done with baby being naked or semi naked, I am a bit of a prop addict so I have a lot of little outfits, hats and headbands to enhance the sessions but I try to keep it quite simple as the focus will always be the baby! I normally book babies in before they are born so based on mum’s due date and once baby is born I will be informed so we can book in the actual session date.

 

5) Those cake smash pictures look brilliant! They must be pretty messy but fun! How does that work?

First Birthday shoots are a big favourite of mine, the babies are so cute and most absolutely love the cake! We sometimes have to be very quick as they can be quite mobile by the time they are 12 months old. We normally plan the session beforehand with the parents in terms of colour scheme or theme so I can then order the cake to match. They don’t tend to eat a huge amount of the cake and we mostly have to help them get messy with it but it is lots of fun and a fantastic way to celebrate a first birthday. We can start off with doing some family photos and classic portraits first, we then do the cake smash and finish it off with a lovely splash in my bath tub prop to clean up.

 

6) How much can clients expect to pay, and are you offering any promotions at the moment?

I offer a range of digital image packages. Maternity portraits start from  £175, Newborn Shoots start from £375 and Smash and Splash Shoots start from £225. Family shoots start from £325. All the details can be found on my websitewww.magicphotography.co.uk. If clients book both a Maternity and Newborn shoot they get 10% off the Maternity Shoot. I am happy to offer all Calm Births clients a £30 discount on any Full Shoot (Bump, Newborn, First Birthday Shoot or Family Session) or £20 off any mini shoot (Mini Bump Session or Smash and Splash Session). If they book a Maternity and Newborn Session I am happy to offer a 15% discount on the maternity shoot. I can be contacted either via my website, by email at info@magicphotography.co.uk or by phone on 07740929136. 

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How bad IS induction of labour?...

So one question which always lingers in people's minds is how to use HypnoBirthing techniques if they are induced - won't it all go out of the window? Well, the answer is no, it won't. I want to reassure you that the process of induction isn't an evil thing to be dreaded, and you have everything you need to make it a positive experience with HypnoBirthing. You can read about two positive births following Induction here - just look for the stories of baby Flora and also Tabitha.

So induction can be suggested to you for various reasons, sometimes because you are considered to be 'post dates', sometimes due to clinical indications that you or baby would be safer if baby was born sooner than later. This is not a post to merit the pro's and con's of why induction is called for (that's a whole post on it's own!)- but about the process itself. The below outline is on the assumption that you and baby are in no clinical compromise, and it's important to remember that each woman is individual and will therefore be treated accordingly. This is really a guideline for how it works if you are induced for being 'overdue' or there is no clinical urgency to birth your baby. It's really important to know that Midwives are aiming to do everything they can to help your body take over and go into labour with a nudge, they will be encouraging you to do everything possible to help along the way.

Once you are in your due time (and remember, there is a FIVE week window in which you are considered 'term' - from 37 to 42 weeks) your Midwife might offer you the option of having a Stretch & Sweep (awful name, I know) sometimes referred to as a 'Membrane Sweep'. This is a vaginal examination where the Midwife will locate your cervix and attempt to rotate her finger into the OS - this is hoped to trigger the cervix into releasing prostaglandins, which will encourage your body into labour. This process can be uncomfortable as the cervix can be quite far back, it can cause some uterine tightenings afterwards too. Studies have shown that it can help avoid any further means of induction, and that there is no increased risk of infection to the woman. Personally, I would weigh up how you feel about vaginal examinations - if they feel you with horror and anxiety then it might just be counter productive for you. If you don't really mind and are actually really keen (by 41 weeks for example) to go into labour, then discuss it with your Midwife. This is only offered as an option, it's not something you have to have. Don't forget to eat your dates at this point too - read about that here.

Different NHS trusts have different policies on induction, and so I won't go into specifics of what happens but try to paint a general picture. If it is agreed that induction is the best course of action for you, and you both understand why it is needed and are happy about it, then the ball will start rolling with your admittance to a labour ward. The first thing to happen will be an insertion of a pessary into the vagina which contains prostaglandins, which will help to ripen the cervix. This is a bit like a tampon usually, and is left inside the vagina for 24 hours - you will usually need to stay in the hospital, and the Midwives will encourage you to go for a walk, and to stay active to let gravity help you. This method is often all that is needed to give your body a kick start into going into labour, and then your body takes over and does what it's supposed to do to birth your baby.

If, after 24 hours, surges haven't started or become regular, then you will be examined again to see what is happening. Trusts vary on this, but some will give you a further 12 hours to let nature take over and others will want to intervene straight away. The next stage is usually for the Midwives to attempt to break the membrane seal, or 'break your waters'. This is another vaginal examination but is painless, it's really just popping a balloon with a plastic hook - it doesn't touch your skin or hurt you, it's usually quite a feeling of relief as the fluid releases.

This is then enough for some people's bodies to take over and go into labour, and varying amounts of time are then allowed for a woman's body to do it's thing. If, after the allotted time, labour still hasn't begun then the Syntocinon drip will be introduced. This is begun on a teensy amount, and gradually and slowly increased if it's needed to in order to encourage your uterus to begin tightening. Now, it is begun slowly, but as your body is being 'put' into labour at that point, you don't have quite the same amount of endorphin build up as if you had begun to labour naturally, and so pain relief is usually offered to you. If you need it, use it - there are no points awarded to someone for needing pain relief and refusing it!! This is the time when you need to remember all of your HypoBirthing techniques to help you to build your own endorphins, plug yourself in to your Relaxation audio, use your visualisations and light touch massage - birth partners need to pull it all out of the bag at this point!  

The key is to remain open minded and positive, just go with the flow at each stage, and embrace each stage as one nearer meeting your baby. Focus on the end goal of holding your baby in your arms, and their gaze meeting yours for the first time. You have all the breathing techniques and relaxation techniques that you need to make this a wonderful, positive birth so enjoy it!! xx 

 

 

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The Hospital Bag.

"What should I pack in my hospital bag? "

This is a question that looms in the minds of many Mums to be  - there is so much information out there about what you absolutely must have in your hospital bag. There are lists on Pinterest, there are pages on websites, there are helpful friends and family telling you what you MUST have - it can all feel a little overwhelming and can become quite a thing to fixate on and worry about.

The struggle is real..

The struggle is real..

In my years as a Midwife and after three babies of my own (who were born at home, but still all had a hospital bag packed from 37 weeks just in case) I have learnt what is actually essential in your bag - it's so easy to get carried away with this, with all the various lists out there on the interweb! So thought it might be helpful to share my basic hospital bag list - this is the stuff you need, everything else is just extras. Keep it basic, you're not going to Outer Mongolia. 

For Mum:

Your handheld notes - you will definitely need these.

Maternity Pads - these are the massive surf board ones - it's very important to use these and not the regular sanitary pads as they are designed for the Midwives (and you) to be able to monitor your blood loss after birth, if it's all absorbed in a pad it's more tricky. 

Comfy PJ's / Nightie that you can snuggle into after birth, preferably ones that you can snuggle baby into the front of too for some lovely skin to skin cuddles (and to breastfeed if you are choosing to)

MASSIVE comfy pants - literally buy a size or two bigger than usual of pants like you're Granny would wear. You'll appreciate it trust me. It also helps to house those massive pads!

Normal toiletries (shower gel, deodorant, toothbrush/paste, hairbrush/band) - even if you plan to go straight home after baby has been born (you'll be recommended to wait at least 6 hours), a shower and a teeth clean will feel like heaven afterwards.

Lip balm - it's really normal for your lips and mouth to get really dry if using gas & air.

Snackage - This should be the first priority in my mind!!!! But seriously, do take little snacks that might take your fancy during labour to keep your energy up, like jelly babies or snack bars, and also juice cartons or energy drinks. Don't forget, you're not planning on going to the Moon to have your baby, so there will always be a little shop/vending machine you can use if you need to! 

Nipple cream - obvs only if you're planning to breasfeed! But buy a good one like Lansinoh because in my experience nothing else even comes close.

An open mind - this is so important. To enter into labour and birth with an open mind and a 'go with the flow' attitude will serve you so well. Trust in the process and your body, trust in nature to take it's course and be open to however it all pans out. There is no right or wrong way to give birth. There is just birth. 

For Baby:

Nappies - obvs. Put a whole pack in. Trust me on that one.

Clothes - obvs again, but don't underestimate how many clothes a small thing can get through in a short space of time! To be totally safe take 5 or 6 of: vests, babygrows and hats.

Muslins - again you will not believe how many of these you might get through, put at least 5 in.

Baby wipes/Cotton wool - it is known to be better for baby's skin to use cotton wool and warm water to wipe their bottom and the hospital will have top and tail bowls for you to use for that. However the first few meconium poos are a nightmare to wipe, and in those instances baby wipes are much easier! 

Vaseline - if you cover baby's bottom and bits with vaseline after each clean, it makes the poo not stick to the skin and therefore much easier to clean. You're welcome.

A boob / A bottle - If you're not sure how you're planning to feed, you will already have a boob with you and you can always send someone out for formula! (This is where those muslins come in handy for dribbly feeders and also modesty)

Phone charger - to keep the juice on your phone for those all important calls & social media announcements!

Love - to give in abundance.

For Birth Partner:

Change - for car parks or vending machines

Toiletries - you might be there for a while and want to freshen up yourself, so pop in a spare toothbrush, deodorant etc.

Spare t-shirt - it gets REALLY hot in hospital, and you might feel a bit gross if you're there for a while!

Snacks - hell hath no fury like a pregnant woman when you've stolen her snacks. Keep your own stash!!

Phone charger - because you'll be taking a zillion photo's of your new baby!

Encouragement - telling your partner that they are loved, safe and doing an amazing thing will really spur her on and help her. You can't say these things too much in my opinion.

Just in case the thought of getting everything together is a bit stressful, I've put all the things you'll need for labour and the immediate postnatal period together in a convenient bag for you! You can read about your pre-packed birth bags here. x 

 

 

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Ask the Midwife

It is a sad but true fact, that in many NHS Trusts throughout England, maternity services are unable to offer women the continuity of care they need and deserve due to lack of staff and funding. I'm pretty sure I can speak for all Midwives when I say this hurts them as much as it hurts you, as they all know and understand the benefits of continuity of care, but for reasons beyond their control, are unable to offer it. I say this as a former Midwife, who loved nothing more than the picturesque ideal of 'Call the Midwife' where we could build a close relationship with the women in our care, and be with them at the births of their babies understanding their worries, needs and wants.  What happens now, in most areas (although there are a lucky few areas who have amazing community teams who can actually offer the ideal) is that women see a different Midwife at each antenatal appointment, and yet another one (or more) at the birth of their baby. 

This could very easily turn into an essay on how damaging that is for a Woman's experience of birth, but I am not here to slate our NHS - our Midwives, support staff and Gynae staff do amazing jobs under really shit conditions.

There is a problem for our women though, in that due to that lack of a close relationship or easy access to a Midwife, many women are sitting at home fretting about what they deem to be 'silly' questions about their pregnancies. There are dedicated phone lines in the maternity units, but women often feel daunted by calling them as the lines are busy, or they feel that their question is too small. This can really ruin a woman's experience of pregnancy, particularly for those who are anxious. 

Something I have discovered recently though is the most amazing tool for women designed by Midwife Hannah Harvey. Her very clever app: 'Ask the Midwife' is designed to combat this - it is a tool for women to ask any question they need to about pregnancy to an actual Midwife and get a very quick and evidence based response. I had a chat with Hannah recently and this is what she said:

Can you describe the Ask the Midwife App to me Hannah?

"Ask The Midwife is the UK’s first health advice app designed and run be registered midwives for women and their families. You can download the app, ask any questions you have about pregnancy, birth and beyond and get a fast, professional and friendly response from a registered midwife."

Can you tell us a bit about you and how you came to do this?

"I have been a Midwife for 5 years, and have always had an interest in digital health and how it can benefit women and families. A study showed that 84% of women use the internet for health advice in pregnancy, and most of the time this isn’t from credible sources. I wanted to create a solution that would mean everyone had access to professional advice online, to dissuade people from using Google and parenting forums as a source of information. In my local trust I developed Facebook groups and a Twitter page to improve maternity user experience in our NHS Trust, and won an innovation award for it in 2014. Following on from that, I wanted to be able to offer digital health services to users across the whole of the UK, and hopefully internationally at some point as well. This is how Ask The Midwife was born!"

Why do you think this App is needed right now?

"We live in a time now where everyone has smart phones, and people use social media and digital services like apps and web sites all the time. Digital Health is a brand new phenomenon, but one that is taking off at a drastic rate, because it is fast, easily accessible and credible. We have already been able to offer reassurance and guidance to so many expectant parents, and it is becoming evident how much a service like this is needed, by how quickly the app has taken off and how many people are using it."

Is any question too small or silly?

"No question is too small or silly for us. We actually get lots of questions that I have never been asked as a Midwife in clinical practice, which suggests to me that there are questions that women feel are too silly/small to ask face to face, so it is really great to see them being asked via the app. It means we are providing a service that is really needed, and people are able to get their anxieties and worries out to a professional and have the reassurance they need. If you think your question is silly, it isn’t. We will always be at the other end of the app waiting to answer any questions you have, bog or small."
 

How can people get the App, and what will they pay for it?

"The app is free to download on iOS. We are planning to launch Ask The Midwife on Android and on our website in 2017. Once you have downloaded, you get one free question and then after that you can pay anything from £1.99 for an Ask - up to £24.99 for one months unlimited use."
 

You can find out more at the Ask The Midwife website - and take advantage of the January sale, with unlimited access for £17! 

 

 

 

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A Dad's perspective..

I had the pleasure this year in working with the lovely Sarah & Jon-Paul, in preparing them to meet their baby. They enjoyed a wonderful calm birth for their gorgeous daughter Adaline, and Jon-Paul subsequently wrote me this wonderful letter from a Dad's perspective, this is a must-read for any Dads unsure about taking the course:

"Hannah asked how we felt following the course and I could not think of anything but the feeling of excitement.

Before the course I had not really thought about the labour and birthing process in enough detail. My responsibility and the actions I would need to take to support Sarah were yet to be processed in my mind. When thinking about the actual experience for Sarah, I had felt apprehensive due to the preconception of the pain she would need to deal with.

Even without the course, I know I would have done more to prepare myself to support Sarah. However, I now ask myself the question - would I really have been able to feel the confidence, excitement and feeling of calm that was achieved following this process?

The resources and knowledge about the birth process that Hannah offers was actually the element I did not expect from the course.

The exciting thing however stretches beyond preparedness. Being prepared practically and logistically is one thing, but what this course does (if you are open to it) is to allow a total change in mindset through mental exercise, education and the calming of the body through breathing.

For me, the mindset change through mental exercise and education about the physical process of birth, allowed us as a couple to forget the negative preconception. Terrible pain is not inevitable, birth is not traumatic. Birth is positive. With this new mindset, birthing is what it is and you are empowered to embrace this.

Breathing is a major element for both Mum and Dad. Breathing helps to focus the new mindset through calming the body and mind. The education element of the course showed us that it also plays a huge role in the birthing process for Mum - and it did.

I summarise this course into 3 elements:

1. Breathing resulting in calm and breathing for labour

2. Mental preparation, education and mindset change

3. Preparedness - mentally and logistically.

All elements are as important as each other and in my opinion is the reason HypnoBirthing works.

It makes one think through the birthing process more fully with a qualified and experienced Midwife. This gives you the important skills, knowledge and attitude to deal with the labour and birth.

I have not mentioned the actual birth story at all. Well, my Wife summarised her experienced best: 

"At the first Midwife follow up, when the Midwife asked how my birth was.. I replied: "lovely".

17 weeks in, Adaline remains calm, happy and delightful. Is this down to the Calm Birth process? I feel it is the way in which she entered the world and the lasting mindset of positivity and calm in which we try our best to bring her up with. Thinking about the future, I can't think of anything but the feeling of excitement."

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How to save your baby's life..

Your baby choking... turning blue.. your worst nightmare right? And one of those horror stories that we have all heard about happening - would you know what to do? 

I recently met up with the lovely Rachel Moffatt, who is the founder of Ladybird First Aid - a company devoted to helping parents learn life saving first aid techniques for their children so they know exactly what to do to help their babies. Here is what Rachel said..

The lovely Rachel Moffatt

The lovely Rachel Moffatt

Can you tell me a bit about yourself, and how you got into your business? 

My name is Rachel and I live in Henley on Thames with my husband and 2 children, Jack ,3 and Ella, 1. I originally trained to be a Paediatric Nurse but didn’t complete my training and switched to a Degree in Biology (2:1 Hons) instead. This was a firm foundation for embarking into the Corporate World.

It wasn’t until I had my own children that I myself wanted to participate in a basic Baby and Child First Aid course.  However, I struggled to find one as I had a baby and toddler in tow and it was at this point that I realised how helpful it would be if the trainer could come to your own home in the evening or weekend to teach the class. I started researching to see if anyone offered this in my area but to no avail and so, with my academic and business background, I thought I’d set up my own business to teach first aid, making it as easy as possible for people to participate. I retrained as a First Aid Instructor and I can now offer an array of Certified First Aid courses, including adult courses, but I specialise in Paediatric First Aid.

How long has the business been running, and roughly how many people do you see each week?

Ladybird First Aid has been running for nearly a year and half now and it varies how many people I teach each week.  Sometimes I can teach just 1 class a week, sometimes 5 classes. There may be 4 people in a class, sometimes as many as 20.  It varies which is nice. Babes in arms are welcome too in classes so, if I’m lucky, I get cuddles whilst teaching which is always a bonus.

Tell me what Ladybird First Aid is all about, and what you do for people.

Ladybird First Aid offers parents, grandparents, carers and parents-to-be, baby and child first aid classes in towns and villages in and around the Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire borders as well as in the comfort of your own home.In just 2 hours you learn what to do in the vital minutes whilst waiting for the emergency services to arrive.  This includes CPR, recovery position and choking. We also cover burns, head injuries and meningitis plus more… the 2 hour classes can cover babies (birth to aged 1) and children (1 -11 years), just children or children and adults – the choice is yours. The aim of the 2 hour classes is to give parents more confidence and not to scare them; they are nice and friendly and informal! Ladybird First Aid also offers Certified First Aid courses such as 12 hour/ level 3 Paediatric First Aid (Ofsted and EYFS recognised) courses and goes into Primary Schools and Nurseries to teach and as well as running courses on weekends and evenings for Childminders and Nannies.

 What would an average session look like?

An average session is 2 hours and is in someone’s home in the evening when their children are in bed. Often parents encourage grandparents to participate in the course with them, especially if they are helping with childcare and I frequently receive requests from NCT groups getting together to join in the course. The class can adapt to whatever size room is available; as long as there is enough space in which to practice CPR, we are OK. The classes are always informal and questions are encouraged as we go along. Also, if there is anything specific people wish to cover, this can be accommodated too such as anaphylaxis or using a defibrillator. For larger groups we will hire a venue such as a village hall.

Which areas do you focus on particularly? 

In a nutshell Baby and Child Basic Life Support and especially choking as that is what lots of parents fear most.

 Do you suggest that people refresh their skills after a certain amount of time?

Yes, ideally once a year as I’m afraid that people forget First Aid and what to do! I always remind people that if you are in the unfortunate position where you have to call 999/112, the Emergency Services Operators are fantastic and will talk you through what to do, but obviously if you have done the course, you are that one step ahead.

What is the best way for people to get in touch with you to learn more or book on?

Contact me directly by emailing rachel@ladybirdfirstaid.com or calling 07812 164350

Ladybird First Aid is offering any followers of Calm Births a 10% discount on home or local venue 2 hour classes if the class is taken before 2017. I still have day and evening slots available in December so contact me to book.  My next open/local venue 2hr baby and child first aid class is in Henley on Thames on Wednesday 7th December, 10am – 12noon and there are still spaces available.

You can also find Rachel on Facebook or her website which is: www.ladybirdfirstaid.com 

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An interview with: A baby sleep consultant!

Lack of sleep. It's totally evil isn't it. We all turn a little bit crazy when we're tired, it can do really awful things to us. Putting keys in the fridge or tea on your cornflakes (yup, I've done both of those many times) - even packing everything into the car and driving away only to realise that your baby was actually still in her car seat on the pavement. (No, I would never do such a sleep deprived crazy thing......... honest...)

We've ALL been there, and it's pure torture (and ignore that annoying lady at baby class who says HER baby is perfect & has slept through the night since day 1. Not true.) That one thing can dictate how we feel emotionally, physically, how we interact with our children, our spouses, how we cope with daily life. 

So it's really little wonder that there seems to have been a massive rise recently in people turning to Sleep Consultants to help them work out how to encourage their babies and children to get into better sleep habits. I recently got to chat to a lovely local sleep consultant named Zoe Payne, the owner of Baby Sleepy Dust, and I found out what it's all about, here's what she had to say:

 Hi Zoe, would you tell us how you became a Sleep Consultant? 

I had a terrible time with my own daughter as by the time she was 9 months old, she had been waking every hour of the night for about six months.   I looked into getting help from a sleep consultant and through my research, I discovered that I found the issue of baby and child sleep fascinating and wanted to find out more so that I could help other people like me.  I completed two courses over the space of a year of training and research.  Of course I was able to immediately correct what was happening with my daughter's sleep - she now sleeps like a dream at night and during the day - and I was also able to help many friends and family by using them as case studies while I completed my training.  I have now been helping families with sleep issues for a year and a half and I love being able to support parents through this process to the point where their children are getting the sleep they need.

 What exactly do you aim to do for your clients?

All babies and children are different so my first aim is to find out as much as I can about each family's routine, needs and preferences before I design a sleep plan for them.  Through my training and ongoing research, I am extremely well informed on a variety of techniques of 'sleep training' so I can put together a programme that will suit each family rather than just offering one approach to everyone.  The most difficult thing for parents when trying to adjust their child's sleep is continuity and consistency, especially in the middle of the night when they are exhausted.  There are often a few nights where it feels like things are getting worse rather than improving and so once I have provided the sleep plan and discussed it in great detail, my role is to support parents through the process as much as they need me to and I always continue to do this until they are completely happy with the results.

Zoe Payne

Zoe Payne


Who are your clients, and is there an age limit for the babies?

I have designed a workshop for expectant and new parents that gives them the tools to gently introduce good sleep habits in the first six months.  I identified this as a key stage in sleep development and it is a gentle way to gear your baby to sleep well and through the night once they are weaned at around 6 months old.  This workshop promotes independent sleep and should mean that parents can avoid certain sleep habits creeping in which may require 'Sleep Training' once their babies are over 6 months old.  I also provide sleep plans and ongoing support for parents of babies and children from 6 months to 5 years old. 


This sounds amazing! So how long does it usually take for people to see a difference in their babies sleep habits?

 It really depends on what is happening with each baby's sleep, what methods the parents are comfortable using and age is also a factor.  Parents of younger babies, between 6 months to a year old, should start to notice things greatly improving within 5-7 nights.  With slightly older children it can sometimes take up to 2 weeks.  The main reason for there being any delay in the progress will be down to a break in the consistency of the sleep plan.  


What happens if it doesn't work?!

This is a difficult question to answer!  I have never had an occasion where we have decided that it hasn't worked - there have been occasions where parents feel they can't carry on with the original sleep plan; when this happens, there is no point pushing them to continue as they need to be behind what they are doing 100% in order to make it work.  If this is the case, I help them adjust things until we find a way that will work for them before continuing until they are happy their child is getting enough sleep.  Once or twice people have decided that the process isn't what they want to do at that time and I always say that I'm happy to pick up where we left off sometime in the future if and when they would like to. 


How does it all work practically?

I offer an initial consultation free of charge over the phone - this is important as parents need to be absolutely sure that this is something they want to do.  If they decide to go ahead then I offer face-to-face, telephone or Skype ongoing support packages once I have produced the sleep plan.  The ongoing support is unlimited and continues until everyone is happy with the results. 


How should people get in touch with you if they'd like to find out more?

I have a website so people can find out more on there at: www.babysleepydust.co.uk

If they would like to arrange the initial consultation or if they have any questions I am available on my mobile from 8am until 9pm on weekdays and 8am until 5pm on weekends - 07584 493 580 and the same hours on email: zoe@babysleepydust.co.uk

I would like to offer a 15% discount on all my services to anyone who contacts me via Hannah at Calm Births so please mention this is where you heard about me in order to take advantage of the discount! 

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What pi**es me off about HypnoBirthing.

Do you know what narks me most about HypnoBirthing? The name 'HypnoBirthing'. It's really crap isn't it. It just immediately conjures images like this: 

And this:

I definitely do NOT do this!

I definitely do NOT do this!

When in reality, I don't even have a beard. Not a solitary dreadlock on my head, not even a single tie-die skirt in my wardrobe. Would you believe I don't even own a pendulum? Disappointing I know, but that's the stark reality of HypnoBirthing. It's actually really rather 'straight', full of lovely people educating themselves about one of the most transformative events of their lives. 

And as much as I like to think of myself as a hippy at heart, I couldn't actually look more like an average middle aged woman if I tried. My background is based in learning, in evidence, in being a Midwife. Not in singing, chanting and swinging pendulums. 

But the sad fact is that the name 'HypnoBirthing' does still conjure those images for people, and puts them off learning about something that is evidence based, science based and could transform their birth experiences. I still get the raised eyebrows when I tell people what I do, and you can sense the question on the tips of some peoples tongues of 'when are you going to stop doing this crap and get back to being a Midwife, that's a proper job'. 

The simple fact is that HypnoBirthing is a combination of Hypnotherapy and birth education.

No-one thinks that Hypnotherapy is weird anymore, that is a socially accepted form of therapy used widely in the NHS for various things. You will know at least one person that has tried it for giving up smoking or weight loss. So what's so weird about using it for childbirth, one of the biggest events of your life??!! It is my hope that over time,  the stigma of the word 'HypnoBirthing' will be less, and people will imagine less of the hippy chanting birthing in streams type stuff, and more of this:

Two of my lovely Calm Births couples.

Two of my lovely Calm Births couples.

Which is what it actually looks like! 

 More and more families are choosing HypnoBirthing and it is benefitting families worldwide every day, making birth a wonderful process to embrace, not one to fear. It's just a shame the term is a bit crap really isn't it.. x

 

To find out more simply visit: www.calmbirths.uk 

 

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Midwifery vs HypnoBirthing.....

I was asked recently why I left Midwifery to take up HypnoBirthing teaching. It took me a while to formulate an answer if I'm honest.  And then Facebook reminded me this week that it's been two years since I left my job as a Midwife. This brought up very mixed emotions for me, as I looked at the image of my little send off with my amazing colleagues at the maternity unit.

I love, love LOVED being a Midwife and still believe that it is one of the most challenging, rewarding, amazing jobs in the world. I loved being a part of peoples journey's into becoming a family, or extending their family. To share in one of the biggest experiences in someones life, and hopefully help to make it the best possible experience in their given situation, is an honour and a privilege.

However, sometimes it's just not enough.

Often as a Midwife the first time you meet a couple is when they are coming in to hospital in labour, or when you are called to their home when in labour. By this time the destiny of that birth is almost already written, the mother is already pre-programmed with how she is going to birth. And all you can do as a Midwife is make that journey the safest, calmest, best experience possible in that moment. And a lot of the time that is enough, the woman is able to trust you, trust her body and trust her baby, and she achieves a beautiful, calm birth.

But sometimes, a woman is entering into birth feeling anxious, frightened, and sure that this is going to be the most painful, horrific experience of her life and it's just something she's got to get through. 

And this is why Calm Births is so important to me, I can get in there from the start, before the birth process is even close usually. I can meet families and re-write the destiny of their birth story, I can re-programme the beliefs and dismiss the anxieties around labour and birth. I can do my utmost to ensure that women and their birth partners are entering into labour and birth with a skill set to help them relax, trust in the process and even enjoy the process. 

And yes, I miss out on the birth itself, but I can leave that to my wonderful beautiful Midwife friends who do such an amazing job, and trust that with a combination of awesome antenatal education and lovely Midwives, we can make a difference to women's birth stories.

And that, is why I do what I do.  

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Online interactive HypnoBirthing Classes!

A common problem that I hear when people are wanting to take the HypnoBirthing Course is that the logistics don't work for them. This can be due to babysitting issues, people often commute and work long hours or have other commitments on the days of the group courses. Sometimes people just feel more comfortable chatting online than face to face. So, I have a solution! Check out my video  to find out more! Find out prices here.

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5 tips for dealing with a heat wave when you're pregnant.

So, summer is well and truly here and It. Is. HOT. Fantastic! Or not.. if you are heavily pregnant, this heat is no joke at all and can be really really awful. Unless of course you are able to spend all of your time in an air conditioned room, with a lovely big pool and cold drinks on demand. No? In that case,  I have put together some (hopefully) helpful tips to keep you cool this summer:

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1) Sleeping. Or lack thereof. This is a big problem when it's hot and can leave you feeling exhausted. Try having a cold shower (as cold as you can stand it) as the last thing you do before going to bed, just lightly dry your body leaving it slightly damp and get yourself in front of a fan/ air-con unit/ window to dry off. It will drop your body temperature down nicely before getting in to bed.

Sleep with a cool flannel on your forehead, and just under a single sheet. Another trick whilst lying in bed is to visualise being somewhere reaaaaallly cold, and fool your body into thinking it's not hot - you have to really use your imagination but it can work! (Those of you who are HypnoBirthers will appreciate the strength of mind over matter)

2) Water spray - these are amazing, just a small bottle like this one from Boots for only £1.55 kept in your handbag during the day and by your bedside at night can offer wonderful instant relief.

3) Peppermint foot cooling gel - I found this one from Body Shop but they are sold in lots of places. I was gifted some by a friend when pregnant with my first, and it was hands down the best thing I was bought! Getting to sleep when pregnant can be tricky even when it's not hot, and lots of people suffer with restless leg syndrome - I found this stuff worked wonders.

4) Water, water and more water. Sorry, I know it's a boring one but the importance can't really be stressed enough. You need to have a good water intake when pregnant normally, and if you're losing moisture through perspiration in the sun then you and baby need even more. The trick to know whether you're getting enough is your pee - if it is clear and odourless then that's perfect, keep up the good work. If your pee is a bit on the yellow side and has an odour, then try drinking a bit more (spread the increase throughout the day, don't go and down a litre of water). 

5) Cankles anyone? Have your feet / ankles / calves all merged into one attractive lump in the heat? Upping your fluid intake actually helps with this too, as it works through your lymphatic system and helps to flush it all out. Keep your feet elevated whenever you can too, whilst watching TV or even at your desk, have your feet as raised as you can. 

Failing all that, fill a bath with iced water and settle in for the day! 

 

 

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News Flash! Mum & Baby Yoga coming to Calm Births!

Exciting times here at Calm Births, as I have been studying to teach the Birthlight Postnatal Yoga course. It's a wonderful course, and aims to nurture new Mums and aid them to healing their body and mind back to a healthy, balanced state whilst having fun with their baby.

 

Using a gentle, holistic approach, the small classes give Mums a chance to connect with their bodies, their babies and with other new Mums.

Classes can start from 6 weeks after giving birth (or earlier in a one to one setting), right up to when baby is crawling. The early weeks and months after having a baby are such a precious time, and it's so vital that you are allowed time to heal, re-energise and have some time just for YOU.  Meeting in a non-judgemental, loving space using a gentle yoga practice, Mums will re-gain strength in the abdominal muscles, pelvic floor muscles and back as well as gently re-aligning posture after carrying a baby for 9 months. Core strength will gently be re-built as well as an emotional release and re-energise. 

All encompassing, the course is tailored for you - no matter what kind of pregnancy and birth you may have had, we tailor it to be suitable for all.

And there's no crazy legs behind the head moves, it's all very gentle with no previous yoga experience necessary! 

Mums and their babes will be given a warm welcome and a cup of tea (and even a hug if it's been a rough night and a struggle to get out!). The course is in blocks of five weeks, as we will work in a gentle progression from week one to five. The yoga is for Mum, and we interact with babies the whole time, giving them a wonderful show. It's really important for babies to watch their Mums enjoying themselves, doing something for themselves and connecting with their bodies.

We enjoy lots of laughter and smiles, and I fully expect your baby to need a nappy change or feed at some point (or even just a shout) - that is fine, Mums are all in the same experience and we will just go with the flow. 

When? Wednesday mornings from 10-11am

Where?  Mortimer West End Village Hall, RG7 2HZ

How much? Bookings are in blocks of 5 weeks, so that you can gently progress - £45 for 5 weeks.

Booking is essential, please contact me for more information: hannah@calmbirths.uk or use the form here.

 

 

 

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A VBAC? At home? Are you mad?......

Well today has been a lovely day at Calm Births HQ as not just one, but TWO Calm Births HypnoBirthing babies have been born!! I've yet to hear the full birth stories, but I know that all is well. And I know that something totally wonderful has happened for one of my families. 

I met the lovely Sarah and Chris* back in January this year at the beginning of their 5 week course. Little was I to know then what a huge, life changing journey that would be for them, and what a journey of affirmation it would be for me.

Let me explain: Sarah and Chris already had two children, aged 5 and 2. Both babies, for various reasons, had been born by emergency caesarean section. The couple were embarking on a HypnoBirthing journey as they wanted to give themselves the best possible chance of having a very different experience this time around. To such an extent that they were planning to have a home birth this time.

When Sarah initially contacted me and told me where she lived I was a bit unsure about travelling the distance (a 100 mile round trip!), but when she told me of her plans to try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) at home with this baby I couldn't help but be very excited to be part of that journey with them.

And so we began our 5 weeks of HypnoBirthing sessions. They had already read the book when we met, and I joked with Sarah that she knew so much about VBAC's from her research that she should train to be a Midwife after this baby. (She'd be great!) Over the period of time that we worked together, Sarah and Chris went full circle from being excited, passionate and determined to have the birth they were choosing, to being scared by caregivers into giving up that dream, and all the way back again.

Sadly, on paper it would seem that Sarah was a 'risk' as a VBAC and the fact that she wanted to do it at home clearly put the heeby jeebies into her local caregivers. She was made to feel that she was endangering her baby by choosing this path, and made to feel very sad and disempowered. But the couple found strength, continued to research and understand exactly what it was they wanted to do and what any (teeensy) risks might be. They then re-grouped, and cracked on with making plans for their homebirth.

And. They. Did. It. 

It makes me feel emotional just typing it. I am so utterly thrilled that this couple have taken their birth into their own hands, listened to all the advice, made their own, INFORMED decision and chosen the path that was best for THEM. And it WORKED!!!!! 

The reason I wanted to share this story with you, was because it has just been such a wonderful example of women standing up for themselves and choosing how their birth will be. Sarah and Chris were fully supported by their caregivers in their choice, once they had (very eloquently) explained their reasons and shown that they had fully researched it. 

I am sad that they had to go through this battle to achieve the birth they wanted, but thrilled that they felt empowered enough to stand up for themselves and to know that you ALWAYS have a choice. I just hope that more women begin to feel the strength and confidence that it takes to choose their birth journeys, and not be made to feel that they 'have' to do things a certain way.

The wonderful AIMS was very helpful in the research for this couple, and this article in particular is very good for anyone thinking about VBAC x

 

 

*Not their real names as they choose to remain anonymous

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The Calm Births March Social!

On March 5th 2016 we held a get together for all Calm Births families, past and present. We spent a wonderful afternoon meeting new babies, sharing positive birth stories and eating cake!

New Mums comparing notes! 

New Mums comparing notes! 

It was fantastic to see the families coming together, some who had met during their group courses and others who had taken the private sessions with me. Others were either about to embark on their HypnoBirthing journey with Calm Births, or were mid-way through the course. All had the shared experience of using HypnoBirthing techniques to welcome their new babies into the world. 

New families meeting each other

New families meeting each other

I was thrilled to see the new Mums and Dads happily sharing their wonderful, positive birth stories with families who were waiting for their babies to arrive. New Mums were able to offer support, advice and reassurance to those whose turn it will be next.

It was also lovely to see those families who had shared their HypnoBirthing journeys together on the Calm Births group courses get together again and show off their beautiful new babies, and to take the first steps into new parenthood with the support and friendship of their HypnoBirthing friends.

HypnoBirthing friends meeting again

HypnoBirthing friends meeting again

My dream for Calm Births has been to build a community of supportive Mums and birth partners who can get together and support and advise each other. I believe that the friends we make on such courses, or in the early days of parenthood are so invaluable to us. Those friendships are so beneficial as you go through such a life changing transition together, I am thrilled that my little Calm Births family is beginning to grow in this way. 

Expectant parents together

Expectant parents together

I can't wait for the next Calm Births meet up when we will have lots of new babies who are currently waiting to make their appearances! Thank you to all who came, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did x 

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A beautiful birth story from a Calm Births Family.

I received this wonderful testimonial birth story today from the lovely Amy and Paul, whom I taught whilst they were pregnant with their first baby. Together they were a superstar HypnoBirthing team, and have a gorgeous calm baby as a result. Yay! 

"Hi Hannah,

Finally I have a moment to put in to words how grateful I am for what you did for my husband and I in preparation of the birth of our first baby.

I was naturally nervous about childbirth having never experienced it and after hearing many horror stories which people seemed all too happy to share with me on finding out I was pregnant! I was given the Marie Mongan hypnobirthing book by a friend, I didn't get very far in to the book before realising it was absolutely  something I wanted to explore as it just made so much sense to me - the concept of childbirth being a natural process and something women are built to do without medical intervention, and that by releasing all fear and remaining calm during the process enables the body to do what it needs to do to deliver the baby naturally and without stress.

I found you via recommendation on the WGG Facebook page, and I am just so delighted that I contacted you! From the moment we engaged over email I knew that I would connect with you as you had such a nice calm and friendly manner. I decided to opt for the private sessions as I felt my husband would be more comfortable in our own home rather than the group environment and it also gave us more flexibility on times/dates than the group sessions did.

The sessions were just fantastic, we both felt very relaxed with you and you made us feel like no questions or concerns we had were silly or insignificant. We really enjoyed learning about the birthing process and practising the breathing and visualisation techniques with you and just getting more prepared to welcome our baby in to the world in the most calm and collected way possible. I also believe that it really helped my husband feel like he had an important role to play and gave him so much confidence knowing more about the birthing process rather than standing by and watching.

The course was clearly worth every penny and every minute we invested in it, as I am so proud to say that our beautiful son Zane David Richards was born naturally, calmly, quickly and without any pain relief!

We were a little shocked that the labour had started when it did as it was almost 3 weeks before my due date, but despite this we remained calm and used the breathing, essential oils and relaxing music to get through the contractions at home before going in to hospital, I even took a shower and washed and dried my hair whilst having contractions! We had called the hospital to let them know my labour had started, and as it was my first baby even though I said I felt the contractions had become strong quite quickly, they were putting us off going in as were expecting it to be a long process .... well it is a good job that my husband made the decision for us to get ourselves to the hospital when he did, because the moment we arrived at the maternity ward reception my waters broke, and Zane was delivered 55 minutes later! We hadn't even got my notes or the hospital bag out of the car, and there was no time to even consider getting in the birthing pool! The midwife even said to me that she wished all women made her job so easy! Also what was amazing is how calm Zane was having entered the big wide world - he hardly made a sound and just happily lay on my chest! So many people comment on what a 'good baby' he is because he seems so relaxed and rarely cries.

We feel so lucky to have worked with you and can't thank you enough as we believe that the sessions we did with you really did contribute to our fantastic birthing experience. We would recommend anybody to you, no matter how sceptical they are about hypnobirthing.

Lots of Love

Amy, Paul and Zane xxx


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Six things to know when considering a home birth.

Picture courtesy of homebirthaustralia.org

Picture courtesy of homebirthaustralia.org

In my years as a Midwife, I was very privileged to attend births in the homes of families, and to learn about exactly what happens, how it goes, and what happens in the (rare) event of an emergency. So when it came to be my turn to become a Mumma myself, I was 100% confident in my choice to birth my babies at home, and so I did. Three times. And I have to say that they were the three most wonderful, life altering, amazing experiences of my life. And if I had the choice (and the finances) then I would do it over and over again. THAT is how passionate I am about home birth. Don't get me wrong, I DO wax lyrical about it, but only when asked about it. I would never dare to presume anything about anyone's individual circumstances or situations, and push my ideas on them. That's just not cool, and I do also strongly believe that a woman will birth calmly and gently if she feels safe in her environment. To some that will mean hospital, others a birth centre, and others at home. Each to their own.

However, if home birth is something that you have on your radar and are wondering about, then I have collated a top six of things you need to know in order to feel informed in making a decision:

1) HypnoBirths do not have to be at home. I feel that that is an important point to make, as it is a common misconception. A woman can use her HypnoBirthing skill set no matter what the scenario or environment - that's kind of the point of HypnoBirthing really, that you are given the skills to be able to relax and calmly birth no matter where you are or what's going on around you. 

2) The stats! The idea of home birth without knowing much about it is quite scary. I get it. So let's look at the statistics, which speak for themselves. Statistics from NICE (the guidance of whom Midwives must legally follow) and the 2011 Birthplace study show:

  •  A woman is MORE likely to achieve a normal vaginal delivery at home than in an obstetric unit or birth centre (984 at home vs 927 in an obstetric unit)
  • A woman is a lot LESS likely to have an episiotomy at home than in a birth centre or obstetric led unit (15 at home vs 35 in a birth centre and 56 in an obstetric unit)
  • The incidence of instrumental delivery (forceps or ventouse) is MUCH lower at home too - this is just 9 at home vs 23 at a birth centre and 38 in an obstetric led unit.
  • The incidences of babies born without serious medical problems is exactly the same at home or at hospital (997) - and so, therefore, is the incidence of babies born with problems (3) - which leads me nicely to my next point.. 

3) A Midwife attending a home birth is equally able to deal with an emergency as a midwife in a hospital. Now, as you can see from the stats, an emergency scenario is very rare in a home birth. However, community midwives are trained up like ninja warriors. The merest whiff, suggestion or feeling that something is amiss and those ninja midwives will be stepping up and shipping you out. If something happens quickly and unexpectedly, those ninja community midwives have all the life saving equipment and skills that a midwife in hospital has. Trust me, they KNOW what they're doing - the same thing could happen up a mountain, in a hospital or at your house, they would deal with it in exactly the same professional, safe way. 

4) The house is not left in a mess. This is another understandable worry, but again, those ninja community midwives will clean up everything before they leave. You won't even notice they're doing it, as you will all be snuggled up safely in your own bed basking in the glory of cuddling your newborn baby. The midwives will quietly just clean up and take any rubbish away with them, and birth really isn't that messy - certainly not as it is so often portrayed in rubbish tv dramas. Having said that, it's easy to prepare, you can just buy a cheap 'value' shower curtain to lay on the floor if you have lovely cream carpets, and get out some old towels that you don't mind throwing away afterwards. 

5) Home births are ideal if you have a 'low risk' pregnancy. Now this is true, but if you are not sure if you are low risk, then a quick chat with your community midwife or the lovely people at AIMS will give you more of an idea. There is an increasing trend for women who have had a previous cesarean section to go on to have a vaginal birth (VBAC) at home. This is definitely worth investigating if this is you. It must always also be remembered that it is your birth, and your choice. 

5) You can still birth or just labour in water if you choose to. There are many wonderful local homebirth support groups who lend out birth pools for free, you just have to buy the disposable liner that goes inside it for approximately £15. These pools are like the most luxurious paddling pools in the world, with inflatable bases that make you feel as though you are floating in a cloud. They are just filled with a connection to your taps, easy. 

6) Once you make the decision you can change your mind. This is really important - a good mindset to have for labour and birth is to just go with the flow and see what happens. This includes your choice of place of birth - a good idea is to consider that you will start your labour at home and see how you go, with everything in place to have a home birth should you choose to. Have a hospital bag packed too, and if you decide along the way that you would prefer to be in a birth centre or hospital, then you can do that too, no problem.

So there we have it. It is a big decision, and it is YOUR decision. But there is loads of advice and support out there for women who choose to birth at home, and I defy you to find a woman who has done so who won't wax lyrical about it, just like I do. 

If you are considering home birth and would like to chat about HypnoBirthing in Berkshire then please don't hesitate to contact me. x

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Calm Mummy = Calm Baby

It is often said in HypnoBirthing that a calm Mummy means a calm baby - and this is definitely true. Hypno-babies are always very calm, and that's no coincidence, their Mums have chosen to take time out of their often busy lives to relax and be at one with their growing baby. That baby grows feeling loved, calm and relaxed and in turn comes into the world in a calm way. This, we know.

However, what happens after that? For many, having their first (or subsequent) baby can feel a little overwhelming, and whilst pregnant it is very hard to focus on anything other than the impending birth.

Sadly, we live in a society where we are not coveted by friends, family and neighbours and encouraged to rest with baby for any time. In other cultures, it is the norm to have a dedicated period of laying in with baby (in some places, such as China, this can be for 28 days). In our busy lives this seems silly and impossible, but I truly feel that those early days or the 'babymoon' as it is often called, is so important for Mum and baby's wellbeing. It may not feel practical in your life to stop everything and allow yourself to be waited on whilst bonding with your baby, but if you can find a way to make it work, trust me it's worth it. Your recovery will be quicker both physically and emotionally if you allow yourself to rest, baby will feed better as he or she will have constant access to your milk and so your body will adjust to the demand and produce the perfect amount of milk. Baby will feel more secure and calm, and therefore more likely to grow into a confident, happy child.

There is a known theory that as a race, humans' brains have become so large that our babies are born sooner than perhaps they should be. Therefore the first three months of their lives are actually the '4th trimester', and an extension of their time in the womb. If we can allow babies to enter our world gently and slowly, they will feel more safe, secure and happy.

There are some great, practical things that you can do to try to get some of this precious time are:

  • Plan ahead, freeze some healthy meals for you & your partner ready to eat when baby has arrived
  • Drink water, and some more water.. and a little bit more.
  • Deter any visitors for the first 2 weeks of baby's life
  • Ask any visitors to bring you a meal/ wash up/ hold baby to allow you to shower or nap..
  • Ask for help. It's very difficult for lots of us to ask for help, but please do it. People love to feel that they've helped you and you'll feel better for delegating.
  • Sleep when baby sleeps - this is a well known bit of advice, and it really is important. Babies are often nocturnal creatures when they're born, and so most likely you will be for the first few weeks, so give in to it and sleep whether it's 2pm or 2am. It's all sleep and so important for your mental wellbeing.
  • For those who know me, you will know how much I go on about the importance of pelvic floor exercises. These are even more important in the postnatal period so DO THEM!! If you're not sure how, have a look here:
  • And finally, call me! Because I feel so strongly about the importance of the postnatal period, I always try and visit families who have taken the course once baby has born (and I get to have a cuddle too!), and I now also offer a dedicated postnatal session.

 

 

 

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