5 essential tips for reducing pain in labour

Breathe Deeply1.Breathing effectively is key – Sounds easy but unless you practice focused breathing, it can be hard to use your breath well on the big day. Practice taking long slow, deep breathes – imagine breathing the air right down to your baby, imagine the air going into and around your baby and then breath out long and slow. Do this at night in bed, in the bath or even on the train or bus – any time when you have a minute of two.

Relax your muscles2. Relaxing your muscles – if you are tensing up in any way, the contractions will be more painful – like if you tense up for an injection. Practice noticing any tension in your body then actively relaxing those muscles. Focus on your jaw, your shoulders, your hands and your lower back. Even sitting at your desk notice and tension and then release it.

Visualation3. Visualisation – the brain is amazing at diverting your attention. By imagining yourself in a wonderful place – a beach, a garden, on a mountain you are able to distract yourself from what may be going on in your body. An extra bonus is we tend to relax more when visualising so double whammy! Think of some of your favourite places now and write them down so you can refer to them or your partner can on the big day.

Movement4. Movement – gently swaying or rocking can help to ease any tension in the muscles, release lactic acid build up, increase blood flow and make space for a baby to move down. Using a birthing ball in the last few weeks of pregnancy as well as during the birth is really beneficial as you can do all those things in a comfortable, safe, and supported way. This also helps strengthen the muscles in the perineum.

Prepare birth partner5. Prepare your birth partner – if he is feeling relaxed and confident and knows what you want and how to help you achieve that, then he is going to be one of your best assets. If he is worried, panicky etc he will project that onto you – not great. Go through your plan, practice breathing together calmly, rhythmically so that he can match your breathing, practice lower back massage, tell him your visualisations – all this will give you both more confidence to put them into practice on the big day.

To help with No 1, 2 and 3 we are running a special 3 for 2 offer on all Natal Hypnotherapy MP3s

Reasons why I think every couple would benefit from doing the Natal Hypnotherapy course and why it is so bloody marvellous!

Having just spent the weekend with some fab trainee practitioners and a lovely group of expectant couples it has really reminded me just how special and truly amazing the course is. I have been teaching and developing Natal Hypnotherapy for 14 years and even though I passionately believe in everything that I teach, I sometimes forget what it was like to be an expectant mother who is looking for support, reassurance and truly effective guidance which leaves them fully prepared rather than scared of giving birth. It is 15 years since I felt like that myself and at the time I did not get the kind of reassurance and positivity that I desperately needed. It was only when I discovered how to use this concept of hypnosis, followed up by my own reading and research, that I realised what I really needed was already within me – it was just hidden under this heavy blanket of cerebral information laced with tinges of fear and anxiety!.

Since then I have learnt so much about how the mind and the body works and so much about how women’s fear impacts their thoughts, emotions, their reactions and the physical functions within her body. Knowing how incredibly detrimental this fear can to the birthing process, it makes me so sad and angry that we as a society have somehow allowed so much fear to creep in, in fact in many ways we have encouraged this to happen.

And yet given the right information, the right support, really positive, effective and simple tools and techniques and ultimately the confidence to trust their body, all women and their partners can dramatically reduce this fear and anxiety. This in turn massively increases their confidence and ability to work with the body to allow it to do what it was naturally designed to do. And what is even better news is that all this can be achieved in such a short period of time. Having spent these two days with these wonderful couples, it has been a privilege to be part of their journey watching as their fears begin to dissipate, their trust begins to increase and their confidence in themselves and each other grow stronger and stronger.

And yet none of this is rocket science – all of this is done using plain, down to earth language by rekindling a connection back with the absolute basics of mammalstic birth, connecting back with the power of breathing, experiencing the sensation of deep relaxation and bit by bit, building up their confidence and belief in their innate power and ability to trust their body, accept the sensations within in their body and so give ultimately flow through the process of giving birth.

The way the Natal Hypnotherapy course has developed and progressed over the last 10 years has ensured that the teaching style appeals to all learning types, that so many of the techniques we teach are personalised so that each couple really owns and connects with the tools, from writing their own hypnotic suggestions, visualisations, affirmations, to creating their own personalised birth preparation plan. And this starts before they have even walked through the door, as each of them complete a detailed questionnaire prior to attending the course so that the practitioners are able to address their specific concerns and needs during the two days.

I feel particularly proud about the way the course helps the birth partners. I have always felt strongly that men are often thrown into the birthing room a bit like the gladiators to the lions. They are expected to be there and they are expected to know how to support their partners and yet without a true understanding of the basics of birth physiology and emotions especially anxiety and fear, it is so hard for man to support his partner effectively. The course is so geared towards helping men understand the impact that fear and anxiety can have on the birthing process, so by knowing why this happens, the signs to look out for and most importantly, effective ways to easily help her overcome them and return to a relaxed state he is far more able to provide the kind of support that will really help her. It is always such a joy to see the lightbulb moments when fathers really see and experience how effective their support is going to be on the big day. One of the best moments of the course is towards the end when mothers write up all the things they would like the fathers to do to support them and the fathers right up all the things they are going to do to support her. And what is so lovely is that they now realise they are both singing from the same hymn sheet and they both have such confidence in each other.

Unlike most other antenatal courses, the underlying message and teaching centres around the emotional map of labour – understanding this enables both the mother and father to understand the different stages, trust that it is all normal, recognise key signs and use the techniques to overcome the inevitable blips and challenges along the way.

I know it is not the done thing to blow your own trumpet, but sometimes it’s good to sit back and really appreciate what you have achieved. I know that the course, the materials and content that I’ve developed alongside the amazing practitioners who have helped teach me along the way, has helped so many thousands of couples. And yet none of this is rocket science, there is no magic formula, there is no magic key – this is just about helping couples to get rid of the fear that has been installed in us through society, media and dare I say it, the medical model of giving birth, and replacing that with a strong belief, trust and confidence in what is inherently one of the most natural events in a woman’s. It does not make any grand promises, it is grounded very much in reality as the couples come away knowing that birth can be unpredictable, birth can be tough, birth can be awesome, but also knowing that no matter what happens, no matter where their Birth takes them, they have effective tools and techniques to help them stay calm, in control of their reactions and congruency with any decisions that they need to make.

How different birth in the NHS would be if all couples had access to this kind of antenatal course.
Click here to find a Natal Hypnotherapy course near you

Some thoughts for the Duchess of Cambridge

As the big day of her second birth approaches, it made me think about how I felt with the birth of my second son. I had had such an amazing birth experience with my first son having used hypnosis and really felt the benefits, that I felt a little apprehensive the second time round that I may not have as good an experience.

So here are my thoughts that may help the Duchess as well as all of the second time mothers.

Top tips for Prince William and other birth partners

For any couple getting close to having their baby, it can be quite daunting for them both. For mum as she will be facing one of the most amazing, challenging and powerful expereinces of her life when her body will be flooded with amazing hormones and she will discover a strength and power that she never knew she had.

For many men or birth partners, the experience can be very dauting as they do not have the benefit of all those amazing hormones and yet they are expected to fully “be there” and support her. Even though prince William has been through this once, he may still have concerns and worries.

So to give all birth partners, including Prince William, a helping hand here are my top tips:-

  1. Agree in advance what she would like you to do (and NOT do) during the labour.
  2. Go through her birth plan so you can fully understand what she does and does not want in terms of intervention and pain relief.
  3. Talk through any fears or concerns you have about the birth either with your partner or with a friend. By addressing your concerns now, you will be more able to support her during the birth.
  4. During the more serious part of labour keep all “extra sensory stimulation” to a minimum e.g. bright lights, people, noise, talking. The less stimulation she has, the more she can relax, focus and stay in control
  5. Avoid her feeling “observed” – extra people in the room, fetal monitoring, cameras, and videos. When she is feeling observed, she can not fully relax and “let go” – imagine how you would feel having someone watch you doing your morning ****!
  6. Encourage her to breath quietly and rhythmically through each contraction. By mastering her breathing, she will stay on top of the sensations and be more in control
  7. Help her visualize during contractions by saying one word phrases connected to past holidays, happy memories or places you have visited. It is useful to discuss a few of these in advance.
  8. Encourage her to move around and find different positions
  9. If she likes it, massage the lower part of her back, her feet and her head – if she asks you to stop, do not be offended!
  10. Do not ask her lots of questions – anticipate what she might want and then offer it e.g. offer her sips of water rather than ask her if she wants a drink
  11. Be totally there for her, listen to her and love her – do not judge her or take anything personally. She may act out of character, or say things she would not normally say – what ever happens, just go with it.
  12. Be confident and assertive with the medical staff – you are her spokesperson – if they begin suggesting intervention ask, “Is my wife or baby in danger?” If the answer is no, then ask for another 30 minutes on your own to think and come to a decision.
  13. If she begins to doubt herself, continue to encourage her even more – it is a sign that you are close to meeting your baby – this is a stage called transition.
  14. Bring in something to keep her warm, specially after the baby is born e.g. her duvet, dressing gown or a blanket – hospital ones are not that great!
  1. Eat and drink plenty of fluids so you keep up your own strength.

To learn more about things a birth partner can do to support the mum to be read chapter 5 of the Effective Birth Preparation book

Change your mind to lose weight

Easy way to lose weight with the help of hypnosis and mindfullness

Reducing levels of obesity, improving the quality of what we eat and managing stress are some of the most important issues facing the health of the nation today.

For most of us, losing weight, changing our eating habits and learning to distress are challenges that we face and ironically are challenges that most of us find stressful and hard work in themselves!

If you can relate to that, then here is a new, accessible way to make the challenge so much easier and more achievable. The new Lose Weight through Heathy Choices download teaches you effective hypnosis and mindfulness techniques, both of which have been clinically proven to change eating habits, reduce stress and help with weight loss, and will help you feel more in control, stop unwanted habits, de stress and make healthier choices.

“As a confirmed chocoholic with a serious biscuit addition I was sceptical about how well this would work. However after just listening to the track once I found myself indulging in apples, craving vegetables and generally eating less and moving more. My energy levels have increased, and along side my weight watchers tracking I’m discovering a whole new me – over a stone in weight has easily been lost and I feel like I’m changing habits of a lifetime in a positive way. Thank you!” Deb Cooper

“I love this track! It really removes all of the pressure and anxiety about being ‘on a diet’. It aims to do what is most important – make healthy choices. It gives you control over your behaviours and doesn’t lead to the same guilt that you have when you eat something on a diet that you ‘can’t have’. I also like the ‘me time’ I get when listening to the track. It helps me feel like I’m doing something good for me and looking after myself.” Yvonne Hopkinson

“A wonderful healthy living tool which helped me to focus on and achieve the changes I wanted to make to my diet and lifestyle in general.” Mrs Amy Cundy

Lose Weight through Heathy Choices has been developed by one of the UKs leading Hypnotherapists Maggie Howell: “For many people, the reasons they over eat have little to do with hunger or their actual need for energy. It is often for reasons such as stress, boredom, habit, addiction to sugar and even dehydration. Many people feel they are unable to consciously control the desire to eat certain types of food and have ingrained negative thought patterns around food. It is often these negative associations with food coupled with lack of will power or control that prevent them from making the necessary changes to reduce their weight.

The process of hypnosis and mindfulness enables powerful communication between your conscious and subconscious and so by listening to and absorbing the words and suggestions, you are able to easily change patterns, thoughts, beliefs and habits at both a conscious as well as deeper subconscious level. Using these kind of techniques to change your thoughts, patterns and eating habits is becoming more and more popular with celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Geri Haliwell, Sophie Dahl and Lilly Allen using them to help reduce and manage their weight.

Lose Weight through Heathy Choices helps you to:-

– Be more in control of what, when and how much you eat
– Change your thinking patterns about food
– Be attracted to the right types of food and drink which increase your health and vitality
– Increase your intake of water
– Reduce any cravings for sweet of fatty food
– Use simple triggers to prevent snacking
– Listen to your body’s signals so you stop eating when full

As the saying goes – there is no diet that will do what healthy eating day in and day out does. There is a great deal of evidence that diets do not actually work in the long term. It is only by changing your thoughts, triggers and eating habits to ones which are healthy and beneficial for you that you will reduce your weight and size to one which is right for you.

By listening to this track once a day for 7 days, you will soon notice a change in your patterns, you will be drinking more water, feel less cravings, enjoy the food you do eat and feel more in control of your choices.