I was asked recently what advice I would give to a new parent to stay calm and cope with the challenges of motherhood. As a mum of 5, the one phrase that comes to mind over and over again is “it’s just a phase”. When one of them has used a swear word for the 10th time to get a response, I remind myself “it is just a phase”. Or when another has pulled down his pants in the middle of the playground and done a huge wee right by the other kids. I say to myself “it is just a phase”. When my eldest began answering back big time I had to stay calm and keep saying “it is just a phase” even though I know this phase could last a long time!!
Difficult behaviours do CHANGE
The beauty with having had quite a few kids is that I realise now that all the challenging times and difficult behaviours do CHANGE. No matter how bad things seem, there will come a time when you realise that things have changed and that you and your child have moved on. How many times did you feel like a certain behaviour was just going on and on and then a few months later you suddenly realise at some point it just stopped.
For instance I cannot remember the day that one child suddenly stopped biting other toddlers when he was about 2, I cannot remember the day when another stopped caressing my breast for comfort, I cannot even remember the day I stopped breastfeeding them, I cannot remember the day when one child stopped whining and used words clearly and succinctly. – all these things just silently and gracefully stopped.
I remember when my eldest was a baby he developed colic when he was about 6 weeks old. After 3 nights, a well-meaning friend try to comfort me by saying that colic normally goes by about 12 weeks. At that time I felt that 12 weeks seemed like an eternity – how was I going to cope with another 8 weeks, 56 more days of inconsolable crying? I remember wishing that the time would pass quickly but feeling like time was going so slowly. As it turned out, as soon as I stopped consuming dairy products his colic went completely and so he only had it for about a week. However the point was that it was just another phase that passed and I coped.
It will pass
So my advice is no matter how bad things get, it will pass. I do not mean that you can just ignore it and hope it will go away – there is still a huge amount of parenting, explaining, communicating and loving that needs doing. However the reward is that once it has passed you will get a new peace (even for a short while). Plus you will have learnt new coping strategies and found different ways to teach them how to deal with life and you will have grown as a parent.
So the next time you feel like their tantrums are driving you nuts, or they refuse to eat anything green, or they repeat words they have heard in the playground, take a deep breath. Let it out. Repeat. Then remember that it is just a phase and think of it as an opportunity to help them find a new way to manage the situation and for you to grow as a parent.
As testing as it can be, bringing up children, remember they are just learning and exploring. Forgiveness can be a powerful tool for both yourself (don’t expect to be a perfect parent and get it always right) and them (testing the boundaries is their job. Its how they find out where the world is). Take a moment in the day to give and receive a hug. Its a powerful thing and you can find out the benefits of ‘hugs’ here.
Do you need some help to recharge your own batteries, sleep better and feel great? If you feel like you could benefit from feeling better and more energised listen to our Relaxation and Stress Management audio tracks as they definitely help.
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 Hypnobirth 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.
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.
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
If you are pregnant then you will no doubt be aware that there are a HUGE range of books out there which give you every perspective, theory, story, therapy or approach to pregnancy and birth. In my 15 years experience, I have definitely found that some are far better than others!
With my first pregnancy I read a whole heap and found that quite a few left me feeling more nervous and confused than anything else. So with subsequent pregnancies I ditched those and focused just on ones that helped me understand my body, understand what I could do to work with my body and of course helped me feel more confident about the whole process. My all time favourites are by Ina May Gaskin as she instills such a sense of confidence and belief in your ability to give birth. I also loved books by Michel Odent as he backs up so much with research and evidence and the wonderful Sheila Kitzinger . I have also been drawn to books which focus on the more natural approach to pregnancy, birth and parenting which felt right for me and my family.
Some of my other favorites!
– The Essential excercise and Birthball Handbook by Mark Hibbets and Martin Beckley – a really clear and easy to use guide to getting physically fit and birth ready . Lots of clear pictures and instructions on ways to use a birth ball during pregnancy birth and beyond – Homebirth by Nicky Wesson – this was an invaluable book when I was preparing for our home births. it has a great mix of practical information, lovely birth stories and evidence based research
– Instinctive Birthing by Val Clarke – Val is a wonderful midwife with a lifetime of experience. This book talks about something I am passionate about – getting in touch with and trusting your instincts
– Imperfectly Natural Woman by Janey Lee Grace – Janey Lee is a family friend and is just fabulous at helping women feel amazing about themselves. Sometimes women forget themselves a little in the whole process of pregnancy and birth, so whilst not directly connected to giving birth, it will give you heaps of fantastic ideas to getting the most out of life!
– Baby signing book and DVD by Joseph Garcia – we discovered baby signing when my eldest (now 15) was about 4 months old when we met Joseph Garcia at a conference. We went on to use baby signing with all our babies and found that they were able to communicate so clearly long before they used words. – Effective Birth Preparation by Maggie Howell – well I could not exactly leave out my book
I’d also love to know which books inspired and empowered you. Let me know by leaving a comment here on our facebook page