Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Sarah's twin birth story

Every birth story is unique, and Sarah's twin story is no different. Her approach was calm and relaxed, and the result was incredibly positive. Congratulations to a wonderful couple on their birth of their beautiful babies! 

Here's their story:

had been getting some back pains Monday which slowly worsened over Tuesday and Wednesday, but I managed them with the magic carpet mp3, and tried swimming and walking to see if that'd help. However, by Thursday my back was becoming very uncomfortable. I had read about 'back labour' and called the maternity unit who advised I come in. However after monitoring the babies and checking my back they told me it was all fine and just a side effect of late pregnancy (couldn't believe how rapidly my body was deteriorating on me!). They sent me home, but since I was at hospital anyway I decided to see if A&E could prescribe anything. Brendon arrived at that point and we were given paracetamol and codiene and told it's normal to get back pains, although this seemed quite intense. 

We managed to get a bit of sleep, and Brendon decided to work from home on Friday. I had an extremely long bath which seemed to help, but then it really kicked in again and I was certain it must be kidney stones. Went to GP and they weren't sure but gave some antibiotics and said most people find they kick in after the first day. Was in loads of discomfort by the time we got home, thinking how I had no idea that UTIs could be so uncomfortable and sat in the bath again, but it really wasn't helping. Anyway, long story short we went back to maternity to find that I was fully dilated and it looked like my waters had broken a few days before (I just thought it was me getting a dodgy bladder)! Presenting twin was still breech, and also there were some cord issues, so was a c-section, and unfortunately we didn't get some of the gentle cesarean things I was hoping for, but after asking Brendon to distract me, I decided to focus on relaxed slow breathing instead, so he was told to be quiet. ;-) That was about 14 hours ago, and been happy/surprised/glad not to have felt any of the pain on standing/walking that I'd read about online! Hopefully a sign how things will progress. :-)

We're looking forward to getting them home and starting together as a proper family. :-) will send some pictures soon.

Thank you again for all the support :-)

Thursday, 7 July 2016

I have to push out a melon baby?!

Oh god, this is amazing!! Yay, I wanted this baby so much.......................oh god, the baby has to come out of my fufu. I have to push out a melon baby?! I mean a baby the size of a melon?! Oh shitballs, it's going to hurt. It's going to hurt so much!!! And who was it who said about all the hours of pushing and breaking her husband's hand and then having a c section anyway. Right, think I'll just opt for the c section. Why can't I just do that? Easier surely? But it's big surgery! I don't want a scar. I don't want to be stuck in bed. And I bloody hate hospitals. Always have. They make me feel a bit sick. All smelly and echoey and all those other people. Not that I'm anti social or anything....And the drugs. I don't want to be on drugs!!!!! I'd be crap on drugs. Any medication just makes me feel loopy. Caffeine makes me lose my shiz. Can I drink gin during labour?!?! That might work. But not the drugs. I need control!  I'm even scared of being sick because I'm not in control! And blood tests and injections. I need to know what I'm doing. I don't know what I'm doing. I have no idea what is going to happen!! Oh god, what is happening to me? What do I do?? What is going to happen to me?!?! Oh shitty shit shit shit shit.

This was my thought process when I saw those two lovely little lines on the pregnancy test. 

I was pooing my pants and crying hysterically. 

So I wanted to find something that could make a difference. And I was happy to try anything - no matter how alternative.

So trying Hypnobirthing it was to be. 'One of Katie's weirdy beardy ideas again, it won't last' - was what I knew my husband was thinking. But, even with my 'give anything a go' attitude, I still found it a!
I didn't get the affirmations. They were a bit self-involved and Oprah Winfrey. The breathing was...well, it was just breathing! It felt nice but, we all know how to breathe! Was this it?? The visualisations were hard to wrap my head round. And my husband and I used to fall asleep to this mellow voice on the MP3s telling us to 'relaaaaax' and we'd just crack up, sniggering like little kids. The classes were okay but I wasn't convinced. And my husband found it all super cringey. 

The only reason we kept doing it was because the logic behind it made so much sense.

Fear = adrenaline = tense muscles = pain.

Calm = oxytocin & endorphins = relaxed muscles = manageable sensations.

And I was gradually becoming more and more relaxed. Like never ever before. From highly strung to cool as a mofo cucumber. And we learnt waaaay more than at the other antenatal class, which made us feel like proper little smug gits. Yep, we were THAT couple. Beyond annoying. 

But we just went with it. Really had a go. Powered through the crazy stuff and just got on with it. And then it stopped feeling weird, and started feeling normal. When I found the Hypnobirthing Book in hubbie's toilet reading collection, I knew we might be on to something. All of a sudden, we were on a mission. 

And if it couldn't get more out there, we booked a homebirth. I know. What the hell?! We hardly told anyone. Even the responses to hypnobirthing had been a bit smug 'oh yeah ok, good luck with that...' *wink at spouse that said 'they have no frikkin idea'*. 

So we kept the homebirth to ourselves. But we cracked on with what we thought, after many hours of deliberation, was the best thing for us.  I wanted safety, comfort and privacy. I wanted oxytocin by the bucketload.

And we did it. 

And it was blimmin magical! I have never felt so proud of myself, so in awe of what my body can do without any involvement from white coats or the Miss Trunchball midwives I imagined (our midwives were super lovely btw). 
I felt so informed about my choices, so happy that my husband could support me and have a clear, useful role to play, so free of fear and self doubt, and so unbelievably STRONG. Like warrior fucking goddess strong! 

And 10 sleepy hours after birth, I turned to my in-laws and said 'I could do it again tomorrow!'. I know, seriously annoying! 

But, this is NOT JUST ME! I emphasise that because one story can make a difference but it is also just one story.
You can google it, you can look around and ask others about hypnobirthing, or you could trust me when I say, I've seen it for many many others. Women who had previous traumatic births. Women who believed it wasn't possible. Women who looked at birth with pure fear. Birth partners who were so nervous that they just went into panic mode and flapped around aimlessly for the first trimester. 

And it changed their entire experience. 

Released fear, built confidence, enabled informed decisions to be made and made birth what it should be, no matter what....BEYOND WORDS INCREDIBLE.

But you have to work a bit. Eek! 
You have to be ready to give over 15 minutes a day to just focus on you and your baby. Ok, sounding better? 
There is a bit of investment involved too, depending on how you want to do it - listen to your favourite band on a CD version (buy the MP3s and listen at home) or go to the concert version (group sesh with dedicated teacher) - that kind of thing. But really, for about a third of the cost of a pram...

And, my oh my, if you do it. If you just go for it. And believe. Really believe. And trust yourself. It is so possible. 

Don't settle for less than beyond words incredible. Feel like a warrior goddess!! Go on, I dare you: Join the women feeling like birthing superstars 👍🌟💪

Sunday, 1 May 2016

#Birth: Kirsty's story

So happy to share Kirsty's story with you. This is the story of two births, and the difference that hypnobirthing can make. Woop!

Start your own hypnobirthing story here:

My first pregnancy was a surprise and as I result I couldn't quite manage to mentally prepare for having a child, forget childbirth itself. Whilst I had planned a homebirth, after 24 hours at home of contractions, smelling lavender oil in a mild panic, I was 'failing to progress' and persuaded to go into hospital. In the early hours of the morning the catalogue of interventions began... Initially codeine was suggested, and after a period of being neglected on a foetal heart monitor, it escalated to panic, pethadine, epidural, episiotomy and ventouse... What I can only describe as a 40 hour car crash ordeal. I vividly remember seeing the scratches I'd made on my poor husband's supporting arms, and the agony, fear and disappointment all at once. My son was born and taken immediately away, whilst I watched the pediatrition bounce his little sobbing body around the room. Staying there overnight without my partner, with my poor babe stuck in a plastic cot, crying babies all around us, was not the experience I had hoped for.

When I became pregnant with my daughter two years later I could still remember my first birth vividly... staggering about in shock for weeks after, sobbing when I met friends and they asked how it had all went. So I started researching and went to a birthing yoga class, where they mentioned hypnobirthing. My midwife was keen for me to try another homebirth and kept saying it would be quicker this time. My body would remember what to do. But I didn't want to chance it again. So at 20 weeks I took the plunge and started on the course. It felt silly listening to the guided relaxations at first, especially with my husband next to me in bed sniggering as I dutifully tried to relax and visualise colours and butterflies. But after a couple of nights listening as I drifted off, I was hooked, and the book went everywhere with me. The combination of hypnobirthing and my yoga had not only informed me of my options, but I had practised the breathing and mental techniques so carefully. I was more confident than ever.

Remembering the night my daughter was born is like a dream. The comparison between the two labours is like night and day. After a day wandering round our local park feeling like I had mild backache, I climbed into bed a bit weary, and with the peace and still around me it suddenly occurred to me the pains were coming and going. Surely not contractions?! Excitement was rising but I did my breathing and visualisations, thinking through my positive affirmations in my head and knowing I needed to pace myself. But half an hour later I was chuckling in bemusement as my waters broke, and after an hour of contraction after contraction, the midwife arrived and told me I was 9cm dilated and nearly ready to push! After a couple of hours zoned out in the hastily inflated birthing pool, I'd not had time for any pain relief or panicking, and she was born. A calm and focused 4 hours and I was lifting my 9lb baby out of the water and into my arms! She fed instantly before snuggling into my bed, a calm and happy newborn.

I can't recommend hypnobirthing more highly. Occasionally now I replay my relaxation tracks and travel back in time to that wonderful time of feeling huge and pregnant, but happy and healthy. I hope more mothers come to know that the medicalised hospital ordeal is not what we were designed for. The peace and safety of home, with a focused mind and relaxed body, can make a world of difference.  It's a joy to have had the birth I always knew I could.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

#Pregancy: Effective antenatal preparation?

My wonderful NCT friends
This post is a response to the article I read today about the author's experience of NCT classes. NCT brought me a set of really close mummy friends and I can't be more grateful for that. 
In terms of what you learn and the ethos they promote, there are very mixed responses. The aim of this article is not to analyse the pros and cons of attending NCT classes. 

As a hypnobirthing teacher though, providing a detailed antenatal course for mums and birth partners, it really made me think how well informed are my mums? 

Do we learn everything we can before birth? Do we focus too much on the 'ideal' and create disappointment or regret if that doesn't happen? Is there just too much to cover for every different eventuality? Can all births be truly celebrated if we lack the understanding of what is happening and feel disempowered as a result?

As a starting point, I've spent the day collecting a wish list from my NCT and other mummy friends on what they think should be included in an antenatal course (n.b. not including the post-natal period, although it was agreed that there is a lot more that could be done to inform and empower new parents).

So, what did they think we should aim to include in a truly effective antenatal preparation course?
  • The physiology of vaginal birth and caesarean sections
  • The hormones of birth (oxytocin vs. adrenaline) and their effects
  • Ways to prepare your body for birth - pelvic floor exercises, perineal massage, light exercise, nutrition
  • Ways to prepare your mind for birth, no matter what happens - self-hypnosis, breathing, relaxations, affirmations, visualisations, positive triggers
  • What's involved in sweeps, induction, c-sections, episiotimies, forceps/ventouse
  • The pros and cons of sweeps, induction, c-sections, episiotomies, vaginal birth, forceps/ventouse
  • Some reasons for all of the above and the breadth of 'normality' - breech babies, back-to-back babies, 'overdue' babies, 'big' babies
  • The pros and cons of ways to make birth more comfortable - drugs (pethidine, gas/air, epidural), self-hypnosis/deep relaxation, water, tens machine, homeopathy/aromatherapy
  • What to realistically expect from your care providers - obstetricians, NHS midwives, independent midwives, doulas 
  • The role of the birth partner, and making informed decisions
  • The pros and cons of different birth settings - home, hospital, midwife-led unit
  • The pros and cons of birth plans, and alternatives
  • What might happen in labour - bloody show, membrane release, contractions, transition, birth
  • Possibilities and procedures following birth (vernix, vit K injections, feeding, delayed cord clamping, skin-to-skin, placenta release, stitches, blood loss, placentophagy, microbiome and seeding, gentle caesareans, weighing and baby checks, sleep)
  • A list of local and national organisations and further reading for antenatal preparation and support
  • A list of local and national organisations for post-natal preparation and suppor
The question is - how often is all of this included? Is there anything that you think has been missed out?

For an antenatal course that strives to include 100% of this, and understands all birth stories to be worthy of celebration, get in touch: or