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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?!!'. 

Calm Births Hypnobirthing

Calm Births Hypnobirthing

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. 

Calm Births Hypnobirthing

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.

Calm Births Hypnobirthing Berkshire

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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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: 

Calm Births Hypnobirthing Berkshire

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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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.

Calm Births Hypnobirthing Berkshire

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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