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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!

Calm Births Hypnobirthing Berkshire

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.

Calm Births Hypnobirthing Berkshire

 

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.

Calm Births Hypnobirthing Berkshire

 

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.

Calm Births Hypnobirthing Berkshire

 

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.

Calm Births Hypnobirthing Berkshire

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.

Calm Births Hypnobirthing Berkshire

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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