Maggie Howell is one of the UK’s leading clinical hypnotherapists. She trained in 2000 and has helped over 100,000 people to learn self hypnosis skills through her audio CDs and and MP3 downloads.
She is a regular contributor to a health, well being and pregnancy magazines, websites, blogs and radio stations. She is an articulate and well respected speaker and trainer.
She is best known for the Natal Hypnotherapy range of pregnancy and birth related hypnosis programmes and her antenatal training programme which is accredited by the Royal College of Midwives.
One of the many concerns from women we support is how they will cope if they have an induced labour. Even though an induction is not the bodies natural way to start labour, you can still use all the Natal Hypnotherapy techniques to stay calm, focused and positive through out an induced labour.
“After being told I could not have children due to surgeries and medical conditions I never fathomed having a child or its implications. So you can imagine the shock when I found out i was carrying a child! I had no idea what to expect. I’d never paid an interest in children before due to my circumstances and was totally bewildered.
I did the usual of online researching and tried to attend local prenatal classes; but they were difficult with working full time. A friend told me about Hynobirth Classes and I’ve never been one for any kind of hypnosis but I thought I’d give it a go.
The first class I attended was so welcoming and it was great meeting other expectant mums. So I continued and also went to 2 blocks of the Pregnancy Relaxation classes during my pregnancy. I had a lot of aches and pains that were emphasised due to my ehlers danlos syndrome and found relaxing the most difficult thing in the world. The classes helped me realise that my body knows what it’s doing and if I’m tired it’s a good thing to rest, its not giving up its listening to myself. They also helped me work through a lot of fears, I was terrified I’d miscarry or not be able to deal with the birth, that something would go wrong. They helped me put everything into perspective and realise that my body will make sure my baby is healthy.
I reached full term and there were no signs of contractions but I was having pain and my baby’s movements were rapidly decreasing. I was advised to go for a scan to see if baby was ok and have a stretch and sweep. Of course I was a little nervous, but you know what? I was ready for anything! The scan showed I had lost half of my amniotic fluid and i was advised to have an induced labour.
An induced labour was the right thing for me and my baby
I agreed without hesitation, I knew I was not leaving that hospital until my baby was out, how exciting! I was induced and swept at 5pm on my due date 11/04/2016. I quickly started to over contract and this was when a wave of doubt came over me, I was afraid I would not be able to deal with the pain, that if the contractions were this strong straight away, what would the birth be like? But think about it like this, with an induced labour your body wasn’t expecting to contract today, it’s a shock to your body as well as you. I asked for some pain relief and was given pethidine. I became drowsy and vomited a few times but I felt calm and focused on relaxing ready for the birth. I had a 6 hour snooze and woke to needing the toilet! So off I waddled down the corridor. I then went to get up off the toilet and was stuck halfway, i felt so embarrassed shouting for someone from the restroom! I was taken back to the labour ward and examined, finally at 5cm, time to go to the delivery suite.
I had just gotten into my delivery room when I felt this huge rush to push down, I called for the midwife and before she got to me I had burst my waters, while she went to get her apron on I pushed again and knew she was close. I was given gas and air and boy did I grab onto that! The next push, the head was here, and the fourth push was my final one! The birth took 10 minutes in total but it felt a lot longer! The only details I remember about the birth were closing my eyes, breathing and thinking all that matters is getting her here safely, just keep pushing! I listened to my body and my little girl got here so fast. So fast in fact she had to be taken away to be examined. It didn’t phase me, I knew she was fine.
Chase was born at 6 lb 3 1/2 oz (to be exact) and it was perfect. I would do it all again, exactly the same way, or a totally different way!
Trust me, as long as your little angel gets here safe you’ll wonder why you ever worried about the circumstances.”
Thank you Callie for your honest, open and inspiring story.
One of the things I hear a lot is that the skills learnt with Natal Hypnotherapy are not just for the birth but are for life itself – often life changing! here is one such story:-
“I’m 37, I had a baby at 19 which I found traumatic even though clinically it was a straight forward vaginal birth. It was very long, very sore, I got very scared, had my waters broken and wasn’t prepared for a baby at all!
The fear has always stayed with me and I accepted that if I was to have another child I’d just have to put up with it, probably opting for an epidural which scared me in itself not being able to feel my legs. I just thought ‘well if a woman wants a baby she HAS to go through fear and pain, that’s just life’. I didn’t think for a second that there was a way to actually manage the labour calmly, relatively easily and to approach it feeling happy and in control. How wrong was I?!
My sister had a baby 4 years ago, her first. When I went in to see them after, I expected her to say how awful it was. I remember saying to her ‘I thought I was going to die!’ after my first child so I prepared for the worst and to console her by saying clichés like ‘well it won’t be so bad next time’ and ‘at least it’s over with now’ but I was met with a smiley, calm, joking younger sister! A beautiful girl she’d had, they had to rush in because she’d been so comfortable and in control at home and she was 9 cms on arrival. I couldn’t believe it, she even spoke to me on the phone just before they headed into hospital and we had a normal conversation. She had used Natal Hypnotherapy!
She had another really quick, easy birth at our local midwife led unit, she didn’t even have to practise the technique…it never left her. She was able to feel and realise what was happening to her as the baby was crowning and she actually said she enjoyed it and was jealous I was going to go through it because she wasn’t going to again! I knew we had to take the Natal hypnotherapy course. I had had success giving up smoking and passing my driving test with similar techniques.
My partner Rob and I opted for a course at home from our Natal Hypnotherapy practitioner Rachel. Rachel was great at keeping in touch with me by email to arrange the visit and it was informed and relaxed. We wanted her all to ourselves, but would have been equally happy going to a group course. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but was really pleased with the amount of clear and useful information we received, the techniques we practised and how my partner was included as much as me. He felt extremely useful and I felt the course was designed to really get couples talking about how the birthing mum was going to be supported therefore improving our confidence as we went along. The course was detailed but only with the stuff you needed to know and the way labour and birth was explained was by far the clearest I’ve ever heard and we understood it straight away. I particularly like the way it was broken down into phases.
Part of why birth is so scary is because you think ‘how am I ever going to understand what I’m going through physically? It’s a foreign language!’ So you just don’t try to but worry you or your baby are going to get hurt or die in the worse case scenario.
Practice practice practice
I listened to the CD Effective Birth Preparation every day from half way through my pregnancy and then more like twice a day after the course, Rob did a few times too.
Once I’d done the course the CD made even more sense to me, and I listened to it in a different more positive way. I felt I learnt to breathe properly which also helped me in everyday life and I still use it now when I’m really tired but find it hard to switch off or feel the pressure of life getting to me. I’m sure I didn’t breathe properly before! I also read the book at least twice and read specific parts out to Rob, I loved the book, really easy to read, charming and made loads of sense.
Using the Effective Birth Preparation book’s guidance we discussed what I wanted him to talk to me about, my visualisations and happy thoughts to help me through and I gathered photos on my phone to look at to remind me of peaceful, times of no pain and my loving, caring family. I found it difficult to think of a ‘place to go’ to feel peaceful so photos were my thing.
Looking back it was a huge help being able to do something positive towards the labour and to think that I could take myself out of the expected painful situation using my mind. At that point I didn’t know if it would work….I just hoped it would.
Best ever Christmas present
I had a lot of Braxtons throughout my pregnancy so when I was getting them in the early hours of Christmas day I presumed that’s what they were. I had a bit of a show and felt only excitement but we decided to just see how it went, I wasn’t feeling anything new. I had a few Braxtons which I now know were contractions throughout Christmas day but just carried on. It wasn’t until I was talking to my brother and his wife and had to stop and breathe quite purposefully that my sister in law gave me a knowing look and said ‘maybe?’ I shrugged it off and we put a film on. What was remarkable looking back is I felt only calm. When I had my son, at the first sign of pain I felt scared which just escalated until I felt unsafe at home (which was unnecessary).
Half way through the film the contractions were getting stronger, I think at this point I knew they weren’t just Braxtons but just took myself to the ball and bounced. Another half an hour and I told my son (now 18) to turn off the film and that Rob and I needed to get into ‘the Natal Hynotherapy zone’. Again, I was very matter-of-fact about it and did not feel in the least bit scared or anxious.
The next few hours (but it flew over) I spent upstairs. I seemed to get one long contraction and the urge to wee which didn’t subside until I lay down. I had visons of lying on the bed listening to the CD but the contractions for all they did stop and start were coming fast and strong. I didn’t get a chance to get the CD on. I found I needed Rob there to hold my hand through them and I just shut my eyes. I breathed calmly and quietly during the contractions.
After a while, I thought I’d better ring the unit although I was so calm I really was in two minds whether to bother them! I mentioned (on the advice of my midwife because I’d appear calmer than a woman in an equal stage of labour not practicing N H T) that I was practising Natal Hypnotherapy and I had three contractions in the time I was speaking to her (all for which I just stopped talking and concentrated with my eyes shut). Despite originally telling me just to take some paracetamol and have a bath by the time I had my third contraction she said ‘maybe you should come in just because the contractions are quite close together’. Again I was saying to Rob ‘well I’ll just stay here for a bit longer and see’, I was comfy apart from the contractions!
I quickly started to feel a lot of pressure in my bum and felt flushed and remembered that was one of the ‘make your way to hospital’ signs included in the handouts we received from the course so asked Rob to warm up the car. Actually my son warmed the car up and I held onto his shoulder during a contraction before I left, my son was perfectly calm despite seeing his mum in discomfort and that was because I wasn’t stressed or scared.
The car journey was uncomfortable and I was going through the journey in my head (naturally had eyes closed constantly) which helped, fortunately we didn’t have far to go. By the time we got there I felt I was going to wee everywhere and I could feel the baby’s head low down and a lot of pressure, I knew she was close to being born. I hurried as fast as I could to the unit.
Once examined with help from gas and air (fantastic!) I heard her say to my delight (and feeling slightly smug) I was 10cms. I felt a huge part, quite possibly the hardest part was over. I knew from then in it was downhill until I met my baby and until the contractions and uncomfortableness stopped.
Around that time, I think just after, I had my self-doubt phase. I said to Rob ‘Oh howay man’ (I’m a Geordie) and I felt like I was saying ‘that’s enough now’, that’s certainly how I felt. I’ve read about the self-doubt phase and remember it from my first child so I thought this one was pretty controlled!
I actually enjoyed the pushing stage
Another couple of hours and she was born. The most memorable and surprising sensation was how pushing her out wasn’t painful. It was like having a big poo and my body sort of took over. Before the course I was worried that it would burn and I would tear awfully as I did before but no, it was even somewhat pleasant. I was making animalistic noises at the top of my lungs too which felt good. My birthing body took over because I gave it permission to by keeping myself calm. I realised I didn’t have to do anything, I gave myself permission to just let it happen.
Not once did I feel scared, embarrassed, out of control or worried. I was FULLY aware of what was going on despite having my eyes closed the entire time (I was in my birthing mind). I was straining to hear what the midwifes were saying, listening out for clues that it wasn’t going right or I wasn’t doing it right but nothing. Straight forward. I realise not all births are, but I honestly believe that I/we would have coped with whatever was thrown at us. Every time I was asked to move, or roll over or be examined (experiences which I found particularly stressful and painful in my first birth) I did so quickly and didn’t worry. At one point I didn’t want to move from the ball to the bed because it was uncomfortable to move during a contraction and I was getting them frequently but I out loud told myself ‘come on Alex’, the strength coming from inside and overtaking me and got up and did it.
I even remember asking Rob if HE was ok during the labour. So strong was my ease and confidence. When the midwife was telling me to push I actually could have pushed harder…I think I realised that it was nearing the end and then it would be over and I was quite enjoying it!
Baby girl was born healthy and once I’d been stitched (small tear on my old scar) I was up, showered and ringing my sister overjoyed!!
Fearne is very smiley, she charms everyone and is very calm. She only cries when I’m tardy with making a bottle or she gets very tired. She loves looking quietly at anything and everything and enjoys the company of other people. She sleeps well. She has just turned 5 months and I’ve loved all of it. I think the course has a positive effect even now in our decision making and has taught me the skills to remain calm even if I haven’t had a lot of sleep and because I’m calm and confident with Fearne I believe Rob is too.
I am utterly, utterly thrilled with the life changing positive effect this course had on my experience of the birth of my second child.
Not just the labour but leading up to it too. I found it very easy to absorb myself in the course and found great comfort in the book and CD.
Realising the positivity that knowledge and a little bit of hard work and dedication can have on a life changing experience is unbelievable.
I believe that a woman’s experience of birth affects how she (especially a first time mum) approaches motherhood mentally, and that a healthy mental attitude towards motherhood is of upmost importance and that that also rubs off onto the partner and other family members let alone the baby.
I found those first 6 weeks were the most emotionally challenging of my adult life, especially incorporating breast feeding but I found with the memories of a positive birth behind me it gave me the strength to think ‘I’m capable of ANYTHING’ and cannot be beaten. I didn’t find the course made me closer to my baby, I didn’t feel I needed any help with that but it did enable me to start bonding with her straight away instead of stressing and recovering from a difficult, traumatic, confusing and out of control birth.
It helped my quick physical recovery to reply ‘it was a wonderful birth! No problems!’ to questions about how painful it was, or how much I tore or how many hours of agonising pain I was subjected to in a place where I didn’t know anyone with them sticking pointy things into all my bits without my permission!
I’d like to think Fearne gets her sunny disposition from all of the positive vibes I sent to her with the help of Natal Hypnotherapy and I know it helped Rob to feel empowered during my pregnancy, labour and even now. We both LOVED it, and I tell everyone I get the chance my amazing story.
This morning, one of my little lads came in and gave me a very BIG hug, holding on for ages. When he finally let go, I looked and him and asked ” what was that for?”. He just shrugged his shoulders and said “dunno…I just needed a hug” and scooted off. It really made me wonder what it actually is about a hug that makes us feel so much better. So I did a little digging and it turns out that a simple hug is far from simple, there is actually so much that happens when we hug someone – and pretty much all of it is good!
What’s in a hug?
So here is my summary of the 10 amazing things that happen when you hug someone.
Holding a hug for an extended time lifts your serotonin levels, lifting your mood and making you both feel happy – hence the BIG hug!
Hugs instantly boost oxytocin levels which heal feelings of loneliness, isolation and anger. So helping you feel better!
Hugging boosts self-esteem. From the moment we are born, our family’s use touch and hugging to show us that we are valued and loved, that we are very special. The associations of self-worth and tactile sensations from our infant years are still embedded in our nervous system as adults. The cuddles we received from our parents whilst growing up remain imprinted at a cellular level, so hugs remind us at a subconscious level of that feeling. Therefore, cuddles connect us to our ability to self-love.
The lovely touch of a hug builds trust and a sense of safety.
Hugging helps you relax. It releases tension in the body and helps take away any pain as it increases circulation into the soft tissues.
Hugs are very much like hypnosis, meditation and laughing they teach us to let go and be present in the moment.
Hugs encourage empathy and understanding, and the energy exchange between two people embracing is an investment in the relationship.
Hugging is like therapy. Research shows that hugging (and also laughter) is extremely effective at healing sickness, disease, loneliness, depression, anxiety and stress.
A hug can actually strengthen your immune system! The warm gentle pressure on the sternum stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates and balances the body’s production of white blood cells, which keep you healthy and disease free.
A hug stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which is the opposite to the flight or fight system so helping you feel safe, relaxed and
So what are you waiting for? Go give someone a big hug!!
For most pregnant women, it is often the thought of the birth which preoccupies their mind. However, the birth is really only just one part of the incredible journey that you will face becoming a new mother. It is of course extremely important to be well prepared both mentally as well as physically for the birth, however it is also incredibly important to have support mechanisms in place for the first few weeks after the birth, so I wanted to share my top tips for new mums.
Those first few weeks can be a physical as well as emotional rollercoaster as a new mum may experience joy, exhaustion, euphoria, anxiety and incredible love all in the same hour let alone the sam day! It is now estimated that up to 20% of women find this experience so overwhelming that it leads to deeper challenges such as post natal depression. As so many women are no longer living in close-knit communities where they have tremendous support both physically as well as emotionally from women around them, it is even more important to have support mechanisms in place.
15 top tips for new mums
I remember those first few weeks with my first son so vividly. Even though I have an amazing husband and family, there were still so many times that I felt lonely, overwhelmed, exhausted, confused and challenged. So here are a few of my tips for new mums about things you can do / plan to have in place during those first few weeks after birth:-
Create an “I’m an amazing woman!” play list – choose all your favourite, inspiring, uplifting music that just makes you FEEL good. Every time you feel a bit low, anxious, daunted, exhausted then put that on and see how amazing it makes you feel.
Plan daily outings – make sure that every day you have at least one outing planned – even if it is just to the super market. Knowing that you are not going to be in the house or alone all day gives you something to look forward to.
Find a “new mum” buddy – either in real life or on social media and agree to contact each other daily to have a chat, a whinge or a share of how things are going with your baby. it can be so nice to have someone else to shar things that you are going through.
Treat yourself – spend some of your precious energy looking after yourself, taking a long bath when your baby is sleeping, binge watch your favourite TV series, have your hair cut or a massage, read a trashy (or not so!) book – I read three Penny Vincenzi novels back to back – mostly whilst breastfeeding or whilst my baby was a sleep in my sling and I had no energy to move!
Make your food a priority – how you are coping physically and emotionally can be really helped by eating well. If you have the energy pre make a load of meals for the freezer before you give birth or accept an offers of meals by friends or family. After your baby is born treat yourself to great food, lots of nutrient rich fruits and veggies and even buy in healthy ready-made meals
Prepare or buy a load of positive affirmations about you as a strong woman and you as an amazing mother then read these or put them up to keep you motivated and inspired.
Don’t be a super hero! You may have been a super woman in your life before your baby but you don’t need to be one now – take any help that is on offer, forget the hoovering or the dusting, watch day time TV
Plan as many hugs as you can! Being hugged when you are feeling tired, exhausted or emotional can be such a release. It helps you feel supported, loved, heard and cared for. it also helps release oxytocin which helps you cope so much better with the challenges as a new mum.
Do some exercise with your baby – wrap your baby in a sling and go for a walk, join a yoga baby class, join a mum and baby dance class – it is a great way to get exercise, to get out of the house and to meet other mums.
Join social media groups – these are a great way of getting support 24 hrs a day – however remember that not all advice will be right for you.
Be kind to yourself. Allow the emotions to come, allow yourself to have a good cry, accept your vulnerability, feel OK asking for help, allow yourself to talk about your worries
Take time to actually enjoy everything you are experiencing – the good the bad and the ugly. It is such a short time in your life and a time that you will never have again so even when you are exhausted, take a moment to really think about how it is feeling, what you are experiencing so that you can cherish this time.
Laugh! often when you are in a tough situation people say “we will look back on this and laugh one day” – well why not laugh about it now. so if you are covered in baby poo, have not brushed your hair all day, still in your pyjamas, are drinking cold tea then stop and have a good laugh! Watch some of the comedy channel, dig out you favourite old comedy DVDs, read a funny joke book. laughter releases stress, relaxes your muscles, boosts your immune system and improves your mood
Relax and use Hypnosis – One of the ways that has helped me deal with all the challenges in life is to actively take time to relax and use hypnosis. If you are a regular reader of this blog then you will be aware of my hypnosis tracks to help during pregnancy and birth. If not then here are a few of the words from women who have listened to my Postnatal Recovery hypnosis track, explaining how it helped them cope in the first few weeks of mother hood.
“I had to write and let you know what an amazing impact the postnatal track has had on me. This was my third child and with the other two I suffered terribly from post natal depression – each time it went on for well over a year. I had planned not to have any more kids as the depression had been so bad. I then got pregnant by accident with Chloe – I was petrified that I would have to go through the PND again.
I then heard about your hypnobirthing range and decided to give them a go (the other 2 births had been pretty awful as well so I wanted anything that would help). I listened to the tracks as much as I could and went on to have a really positive birth – so different from the others. However, for me, the main effect as been post natally. I started listening to the postnatal track as soon as I could on the post natal ward – the others thought I was a bit weird! Amazingly, I felt really great after the birth and bonded straight away with Chloe. I had not even thought I would breast feed, but something in me felt like giving it a go (I am still breast-feeding now – 3 months on). I carried on listening to the track when I got home, whenever I had a chance, and even though I still got really tired, none of the depression came back. Thank you so much – words can not express how wonderful it is to feel normal and to even enjoy those first few weeks with my daughter. ” Camila
“The postnatal recovery track was a tremendous help after James was born. I am so much calmer this time round and have actually found breastfeeding enjoyable! Because I am so much calmer, he is really chilled out to. Many thanks and make sure everyone hears about these tracks!” Jay
“After the delivery I listened to the postnatal recovery track – fantastic. My feet have not touched the ground since she was born and I am sure my sanity is down to the hypnosis. It helped me with relaxation, breast feeding and being able to juggle a new born and 2 small children, running a house and being a wife.” Natasha
“I had such a great birth that I forgot about the postnatal track until a week after the birth. When I then played it, it was so lovely to get back into that “zone” that had really helped me during my pregnancy. Since then I have played the track loads and Abbey just loves it – she always seems to calm down and often falls asleep when I have it on. I feel a lot more confident about breastfeeding and am actually beginning to enjoy it” Helen
“This was the fourth Natal Hypnotherapy track I have used from their range and I found it amazing helpful. As this was my third pregnancy I wasn’t so concerned about the birth but was worried about how I would cope afterwards with three children especially as I had suffered with depression after previous births. I listened to the postnatal track almost every day for the first six weeks which not only enabled me to have a proper rest but also gave me loads of encouragement. The track itself has the same music and style as the rest of the natal hypnotherapy range and so can be used as part of the series or on its own and all you have to do is relax and listen to it. It was just what I needed and I can’t believe the difference between how I feel now with a four month old baby and how I felt at this stage with my previous children. I have been able to stay very calm and relaxed during the first few months after birth and as a result have a very calm and relaxed family”. Chloe
With the recent reports on the increasing incidence of work related stress in the NHS, these 20 stress busting tips may go someway to helping Midwives (and anyone for that matter!)
What first prompted you to become a midwife? I imagine the words passion, inspiration, support and empowerment would have featured in there somewhere. Back then, I doubt that words like stress, paperwork, guidelines, protocol or workload entered your mind when considering your future plans. However, more than likely, if you are working in the NHS, these are the norm and as a result you may be experiencing some degree of stress related challenges.
So to give you a little helping hand, here are my top 20 stress busting tips to help you cope with work related stress and which may also then help you reconnect with the reasons you became a midwife in the first place.
Now not all of these may appeal to you so pick and choose – even if you implement just one stress busting top a day you will begin to feel more relaxed, more in control and better able to deal with the daily stresses and strains of midwifery.
1.See things in their true perspective – stress can make you feel more sensitive, vulnerable and lacking in self-esteem. It is so important to keep things in perspective and not to take things personally. If you are not dealing with a potentially threatening situation, take a step back and think, will this really matter next week? Is it really worth me getting stressed about?
2.Take the lid off the pot – talk about the stress you are going through rather than bottle it up. Get together with colleagues for a good natter and whinge – it is a great way to off-load and to realise that you are not alone.
3.Lower the worry rating – worry is such a wasted use of energy. If you can do something about it now then do it. If you can’t do anything about it now then mentally park it or write it down so you can spend a few moments worrying about it later if you really need to, and then move on so you can get on with your daily routine without the burden of worry.
4.Set up a mutual appreciation group with your colleagues so that each day you have to say one nice thing to each other – identify one good quality, one good action. Once you start saying them and hearing them it can really lift your mood and self esteem. All too often stress leads to and is compounded by lowered confidence and lack of self esteem. Everyone needs a boost now and again so start the ball rolling and tell your colleagues something positive about their skills or actions!
5.Focus on the positive. Every day spend a few moments thinking about all the great things about your job, no matter how big or small – great muffins in the canteen, some colleagues, some of the women you care for, the smell of new born babies or the sound of a breastfeeding baby. By being appreciative and thankful of even the tiniest things, it can help reduce stress.
6.Create a protective bubble – this is something I have found incredibly useful as a way of protecting yourself from negative or challenging experiences. Before going to work, imagine you have a protective bubble all around you and any negative experiences, words or actions just bounce off leaving you unaffected.
7.Ask for help – as women who care for others it is often very hard to ask for help. However sometimes getting a little help from a colleague or manager is enough to take the lid off the bubbling stress pot. Speak up if you’re experiencing a problem, and talk to your manager to find a win-win solution. Remember, its part of their role to help you do this.
8.Take time out to RELAX. It is amazing how many people do not see this as a priority. Think about ways you like to relax and then put them on a list on the fridge door so you are reminded every day to take time to relax. Even it is just for a few minutes
9.Coping with difficult colleagues – one of the challenges that can cause stress at work is being in close proximity to difficult colleagues. One thing to always remember is that no matter how much you would like, you cannot change them or their personality. The only thing you can change is your reactions. So the next time they say or do things which wind you up, take a moment, take a deep breath, accept that you can not change them and provide a calm response which prevents you from getting riled up.
10.Get some fresh air during your shift – not always easy but it is so good to help your blood flow, to breathe fresh air, to re oxygenate and to just “Be” for a bit.
11.Make a list of the things that stress you out – again no matter how big or small. Go through each one and think of alternative responses. Think of things you can do to prevent the stress from building in the first place. One thought that always works for me is to remember “and this too shall pass”. No matter what you are going through, it will pass, it will be over and you will get through it.
12.Feed your body and soul – work toward filling your body with food with gives you energy, vitality and a sense of well being. It is all too easy to reach for the chocolates or biscuits as a quick fix, but when you can, fill up on fruit, veg and protein, drink lots of water, drink smoothies, have bags of
healthy snacks. Avoid processed carbs, especially sugar as they are a real stress inducer as your blood sugar levels go all over the place, they contribute to increasing your weight and are highly addictive – not great for beating stress!
13.Make a to do list – sometimes the sheer volume of things that need to be done can cause a stress response. So chunk it down, make a list of what you have to do and then check back to the list so you can tick things off. This helps to increase your self esteem and give you a boost as you can see on the paper that you really are getting things done.
14.Create mini spa moments in your day – these need only be for 2 minutes. Stop what you are doing, take three deep breaths. Focus on how your body feels. Notice if there is any tension and the just wriggle and relax that part of the body. Next massage the fleshy bit on your palm between your thumb and forefinger. This helps to relax and disseminate and tension. Next using both your thumbs, massage the top ridge of your eye socket at the top of your nose then work way around the eye socket. All the time keep taking deep breaths. You can also visualise being on a beautiful beach on in your favourite garden whilst massaging. Then circle your shoulders a few times one way and then the other. And finally end with three deep breaths. You can even do this whilst doing a wee!
15.Plan ahead – if you have a stressful situation coming up then use a hypnosis techniques and take some time BEFORE hand to run through the event in your mind and visualise or imagine yourself coping brilliantly, staying calm, focused and positive. Just by imagining this a few times your mind will gravitate towards those actions when you go into the situation for real.
16.Learn to say no – once again many women who care of others find it hard to say NO. if you are feeling over whelmed then do not take on any more shifts, committees, projects for the time being. As you may tell others, no one is perfect so remember to include yourself in that bucket. Saying no is OK. Saying no to yourself is also OK – you do not always need to fix things, to go the extra mile, to sort out other problems.
17. Identity your triggers – in the job of a midwife, there are many factors that cause stress which you can not change, however we all have some buttons which get pressed and trigger off stress where others may not be stressed. Take time to notice what has caused you to feel stressed. Identify those triggers then think about ways you could act differently, or maybe ways that others act and then copy them. There may also be more practical things you can do eg if stress comes from hunger, dehydration, lack of fresh air.
18.Take time out to be kind to yourself – again a bit tricky if you are a working mum or work long hours and many shifts. However giving yourself little treats at regular interval gives you something to look forward to, helps you nurture yourself and helps you relax. Schedule in bubble baths, an hour to read a good book, coffee with friends, an hour to browse fun you tube clips, a visit to a local garden centre, a manicure. Actually put them in your diary and make them happen.
19.Learn quick, easy stress reduction techniques – one of the techniques I teach on all my hypnosis tracks is the “321 relax” – it sets up the suggestions that every time you hear or say the words 321 relax, you take a deep breath, relax your shoulders and allow a growing sense of confidence to build. You can create other triggers so that every time you squeezed your finger and thumb together you relax your shoulders, take a deep breath and so on. In the beginning you can do this consciously but the more you do it the more automatic it becomes.
20.Listen to my Midwife’s Companion track!! This is a 30 minute hypnosis relaxation track specifically for midwives. It helps with so many of the above points as well as many more suggestions on dealing more effectively with stress in your role as well as stress in your personal life and it is FREE for midwives! Click Here to for your Free Midwife’s Companion MP3
So which one is your favourite? Do you have any more stress busting tips to add?