Best Christmas ever – a peaceful birth under the xmas tree!

Using hypnosis for pain management
Using hypnosis to anesthetize arm

With Christmas around the corner, I thought I would focus on lovely Christmas birth stories.  Here George tells of her journey using and developing her Natal Hypnotherapy skills to help her have the best Christmas ever! After listening to the Natal Hypnotherapy tracks and attending a weekend course, she wrote her own script to really personalise her birth preparation.

“Having used hypnotherapy and self-hypnosis for a number of years and experienced the sometimes life-changing results (including sticking a nappy pin through my arm!), it wasn’t a question of if I would use it during my pregnancy and the birth of Danuta, but rather how I could use it.  Not only had I never given birth before but we also had our hearts set on a home birth, which if we were to listen too carefully to conventional current medical opinion, was a crazy plan fraught with issues – what if it goes wrong?  You will only have gas and air – what if you need an epidural/c-section – think about the transfer times to hospital – you don’t know your own body, being a first-timer – you are putting yourself and your baby at great risk – what you are considering is very selfish.  All of these words had come from my doctor and pretty much every mainstream birthing text-book backed her up.  Any basic birthing instinct to bring your baby into this world in a safe, comfortable and loving environment is dangerous and selfish.  And she’s a doctor, so she must be right…

In my experience, a Natal Hypnotherapy approach turns the whole what-if-it-goes-wrong starting point on its head and focuses instead on the perfect and unique birthing experience for the individual woman or couple.  If you dare to allow yourself to visualise it, what factors would feature in your perfect birthing experience?  For me, Christmas is a very special time of year that holds with it feelings of childhood excitement and happiness – just the smell of a mince-pie or the sound of carols being sung makes me glow inside, so the fact that our baby was due around this time had all the makings of the best Christmas ever.

Throughout my pregnancy I had spent time listening to a Natal hypnotherapy relaxation tracks (you can get a free download by clicking here) which, whilst increasing my bond with our growing baby inside, also helped me tune into my natural instincts as a mother-to-be.  In the third trimester Adam and I attended a Natal Hypnotherapy weekend and this is when we really began to focus our minds on the actual birth and the writing of our own birthing programme.  Using emotive language that was very specific to our own personalities we developed a script that described the perfect birthing experience – how we would feel, how we would react to certain phases or situations, images, sounds and smells that would trigger positive emotional responses.  For example:

The sounds of the music, which are now familiar to me, reinforce my natural feelings of relaxation and calm, allowing me to fall deeper and deeper into a comfortable, peaceful feeling of complete relaxation…

an extract from the birthing programme – earlier stages of labour

…with each contraction I visualise my cervix softening and opening slowly softening and opening gently, smoothly and easily…

george adam and danuta after birth
The best Christmas ever

an extract from the birthing programme – final stages of labour

I would read the birthing programme often, really soaking up the words that meant so much to us and once in a relaxed state of self-hypnosis I would then recall these words, images and feelings to the sounds of music that would accompany us in the birthing experience.  The more often I listened, the deeper into my subconscious these associations were going.  The Christmas tree bauble I knew so well, the stocking hung by the fireplace ready for baby’s presents, the smell of Christmas spices – all of these factors meant excitement, comfort, happiness and deeper and deeper confidence to birth our baby safely and naturally.

The due date came and went and as the days ticked by, talk was turning to induction – this is when I felt my most sacred.  Not because of the dangers of letting me go over, but because I just felt baby wasn’t ready yet and that he or she would decide when it was time to meet us.  Things were happening – we’d had a show and, having had contractions for 2 weeks now, I was already 3 cms dilated.  14 days after her official due date and on the day we were due to go into hospital, baby Danuta decided it was time to join us and she wasn’t hanging about either.

George and Danuta
George and Danuta

The experience certainly wasn’t without pain and there was no time for birthing music CDs or Christmas spice oils, but I wouldn’t change a single moment.   Focusing on each contraction took me deep down into the experience and during the later stages the visualisation of my cervix softening and opening was intensely powerful and effective.  Adam was fully involved at all times and helped communicate my feelings to the midwife during contractions as well as somehow knowing what to say at right time.  We birthed our daughter in our front room next to the Christmas tree and in front of the open fire and Christmas stockings – four and a half hours after waking with strong contractions I was holding Danuta in my arms, crying at the beauty of our perfect baby girl who truly made this the best Christmas ever!

With the support and confidence of an amazing partner, an experienced and trusted doula and our very special birthing programme, I was never in any doubt we were doing the right thing.  I was frightened then angered by the words of my doctor, I was upset by the reaction of some friends, but I never once doubted my instincts to birth Danuta at home using hypnosis.  I can’t wait to give her a brother or sister.”

A wonderful story of a couple taking their birth preparation into their own hands for the best christmas ever!
Click to download your FREE track

Preparation is key for a positive birth experience

Liz and Robin (small
Liz and baby Robin

“When we found out that we were expecting our first baby both my partner and I were in agreement that we would like our pregnancy and birth to be as natural as possible. and that we wanted to really prepare for a positive birth experience. From the outset my pregnancy was healthy and straightforward and, with the support of our brilliant midwife, it seemed a natural choice for us that we should have our baby at home. I felt so well that it seemed bizarre to me that we should have to go into hospital for such a natural and normal thing as childbirth. I also wanted a birth where both my partner and I felt confident and in control, and where we were at lowest risk of unnecessary intervention – for us it felt that hone was the place where we were most likely to achieve this.

On doing further research it became clear to me that preparation is key in facilitating a positive birth, especially a home birth – in terms of logistical preparations to ensure our home was birth ready, but also my own physical and emotional preparations. It was in this second aspect where Natal Hypnotherapy was key.

In undertaking our course with Natalie, and engaging in self-hypnosis during pregnancy meant that I went into labour relaxed, confident and free of fear. As a couple the course also connected us to each other and to our baby and was particularly successful in supporting my partner to be as engaged, proactive and confident as possible in the pregnancy, labour and birth (see Olympic Gold medalist Greg Rutherford’s review of The Natal Hypnotherapy course). This was particularly important to me as the birth of our baby was something  I absolutely wanted us to do together  – I did not want my partner to be sidelined by the excitement of the moment or by medical professionals supporting the birth.

I eventually went into labour one week before the due date that I had been give when my waters broke at home around 1pm. I felt relaxed and in control throughout the labour and this meant that although at times I was uncomfortable at no point would I have described the experience as being painful or unmanageable. In fact, I felt so relaxed that when our midwife came to check me about 4pm that afternoon she said I was not in established labour and that it would most likely be sometime before the baby arrived. In actual fact we called her back later that evening and by the time she arrived just before midnight I was already fully dilated and our son was born about thirty five minutes later?

Robin Arthur weighed a healthy 8lb 9ozs and came into the world in the calm and peaceful way I had hoped for without any intervention or pain relief! We have no doubt that Natal Hypnotherapy was a key factor in making this possible. On the whole Robin is a very relaxed and content baby and we are sure that the hypnotherapy I have learned also contributed to that due to the way it allowed me to connect with my baby during pregnancy, labour and beyond.

Natal Hypnotherapy has been a brilliant thing for us and I would not hesitate recommending it. It really helped us prepare for a positive birth. Regardless of where or how you choose to give birth I fell it has the power to make anybody more relaxed, confident and engaged during the incredible time that their baby is born.”

 

Thanks Liz for sharing your lovely and inspiring birth story.

If you have found this useful and would like to try out a Natal Hypnotherapy track for FREE then click here

Click to download your FREE track

You can find a class near to you by clicking here

NatalieQureshi_Natal Hypnotherapy, Manchester
Natalie Qureshi, Natal Hypnotherapy Practitioner, Manchester

Liz took her Natal Hypnotherapy class with Natalie Qureshi who runs class in Manchester

The secret to coping with labour

scared of giving birth
Are you scared of giving birth?

If you are currently pregnant or even planning to have a baby then the thought of giving birth will have crossed your mind once or twice!  From those cringe worthy sex education videos to One Born Every Minute the message most women get is clear. Birth hurts like hell, that you will be in labour for days, that you are likely to scream the place down and turn the air blue with a few choice words begging for drugs. Is it any wonder then that 8 out of 10 women in a Mother and Baby survey were terrified of giving birth?  So could there be a secret to coping with labour that is not publicly “out there”?

Well, if you were to switch over to the Discovery channel and were to watch a programme of any other mammal giving birth, she would be quiet, calm, mobile and seem to just get on with it.  We know that mammals register and feel pain, yet somehow during labour they don’t seem to show the same characteristics as women on OBEM.

So do you think that maybe there is a chance that women could also experience labour and birth being calm, more in control and better able to deal with the pain? What is this secret to coping with labour and how you can turn from a potential screaming banshee to a calm, serene birthing goddess?

Well, it all comes down to hormones and how you are feeling in the lead up to and during the labour.  If you are scared your body will be in a “fight or flight” mode and birth becomes tough; if you are calm, relax and breathe slowly, your body can just get on with it. To put it into context, imagine you are labouring alone out in the wild. Suppose you saw or even thought you saw a dangerous animal lurking in the shadows. What do you think would happen? Would you have a conscious choice on what happens next? Simply believing there is a wild animal in your birth space would instantly stimulate the “fight or flight” response. Your muscles would tighten, blood would flow to your limbs and contractions would slow down or stop and would not resume until you felt safe.

This fear, whether real or imagined, activates the nervous system to produce adrenaline (danger hormone), which gives you a burst of power to fight or to run away. Your cervix tightens (to prevent giving birth where it is not safe) and the increased level of adrenaline neutralises the oxytocin (the hormone responsible for your contractions) so that your body slows down or even stops labour. All this “fight or flight” preparation uses a great deal of energy and as our bodies were only designed to be in this state for a few minutes, you can imagine that staying in this state for prolonged periods of time will lead to prolonged labour, horribly painful contractions which will be extremely exhausting for both mum and baby.

This is essentially about fear, any fear – fear of pain, fear of dying, fear of tearing. Your nervous system does not know the difference between fear from real danger or imagined fear, from what you may have seen on the tele or told by friends and family and so your body will respond in the same way to both. If you go into labour feeling and being frightened, your system will respond accordingly.

So what is the secret to coping with labour and birth?

Ultimately it is about learning to let go of fear and to work with your body to stay as relaxed and calm as possible. By being able to relax during labour, your body responds in a very different way to the fear scenario described above. When you are relaxed, your breathing is even, ensuring a high level of oxygen is entering both you and your baby’s body, helping your baby remain calm and stable. Increased oxygen stimulates the production of oxytocin (hormone responsible for contractions) and the natural pain-killer, endorphins. As the uterus has no resistance or tension from surrounding muscles, the contractions are more effective and more manageable. Other natural hormones also increase in including relaxin which allows the tissue of the birth canal to relax, soften and expand.

One of the easiest and most relaxing ways to help you shift from being anxious to being calmer, is to listen to a Natal Hypnotherapy album in the weeks leading up to the birth. Over 2000 midwives now recommend award-winning Natal Hypnotherapy  as they have seen how beneficial it can be for both mum and baby. Listening to one of the tracks is a great excuse to go and lie down for half an hour knowing you are doing something really practical and useful to prepare for the birth.

My voice (british accent by the way) guides you into a deeply relaxed state using breathing techniques, guided imagery and visualisation. You can get a free 15 minute track by clicking here. Once you are deeply relaxed, your conscious mind becomes quiet and you become open and receptive to positive suggestions about the birth, learning coping strategies and pain management techniques, all geared towards helping you stay calm and able to deal effectively with contractions.

Hypnobirthing track
Natal Hypnotherapy hypnobirthing

As any midwife will tell you, the secret to coping with labour is to relax and breathe. By listening to a hypnobirthing track over and over again before labour you become brilliant at relaxing and effective breathing and are mentally familiar with the processes of giving birth, which naturally increases your confidence and reduces any fear associated with birth. The hypnotherapy techniques put you in control, so that you have all the coping strategies you need for the big day, no matter who else is there to support you.

You can learn more about how to help yourself during pregnancy and birth with my top tips emails

You can also read Jennifer’s birth story on how she used this secret to coping with labour.

If you’re not sure what this hypnobirthing stuff is like then you can get this FREE pregnancy relaxation hypnobirthing track

Click to download your FREE track

The midwives wanted to stay as they said it was so calm!

robyn HillI have often heard from midwives over the years that they love to attend births with women using Natal Hypnotherapy as they aways feel so calm them selves! This week’s birth story reiterates that feeling , but from the mums perspective.

“I wanted to write and tell you about the wonderful, calm birth of our little girl, born at 38 + 2 weeks. My first cramps started at 3am and Robyn was born at 12.50pm, so pretty quick. All went as I hoped – she had been in the right position for a long time and I had used a birthing ball in the months before, so maybe this helped get her head down.

Looking back, listening to the Natal Hypnotherapy cd’s (the labour companion with the relaxing birth music) and doing the Natal Hypnotherapy course with Laura early on in my pregnancy really helped to get me mentally ready early on, and stay so calm which was key to my state of mind when the big day came.

I would listen to the tracks on my ipod and use the breathing techniques on my commute to work. I really feel you need time for your subconscious to absorb the information so you can truly believe that you can have a positive birth experience. I was so calm during my pregnancy and this followed all the way through to when baby arrived. I gave birth over a beanbag for support and with gas and air, which I had wanted to do and which felt more natural to me. There was no bed involved, contrary to every birth you have seen in films or on TV. The course made me really think about and understand how different positions work when giving birth.

It was also invaluable to have my partner with me, who had done the course as well and was just as prepared as I was. He was great during the birth and really helped me stay so calm using a lot of the techniques we learnt during the course, with the Natal Hypnotherapy  music on, electric candles, calm dark environment and lavender spray. A very useful technique was staring into my partners’ eyes during contractions – it really helped to calm them down.

The midwives wanted to stay in my suite as they said it was so calm! The final bit of the birth was noisier, but you just make the noises your body needs you to make! My body really did know what to do in the end and my baby did just come out as nature intended.”

Natalie Kaffa

LauraTammaro_130x260Natalie attended a course with Laura Tammaro in Windsor.

To get your own free copy of the Pregnancy Relaxation hypnobirthing track click here