The course was life changing!

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 life changing birthprepared 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?!

Discovering Natal Hypnotherapy

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.

alex dorney baby
life changing birth

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.

Thank you.

Alex.

 

If you are interested in attending a Natal Hypnotherapy course you can find your local practitioner here

You can also get a free 15 minute pregnancy relaxation track
Click to download your FREE track
and of course to find out more about natal Hypnotherapy in general go to www.natalhypnotherapy.co.uk

 

Show Midwives some love!

Espresso ShotThe next time you see or meet a midwife, please show them some love and appreciation – you may just make their day!  A report out this week from the Royal College of Midwives highlights the fact that almost half of midwives in the UK suffered from work related stress.  Having worked with so many midwives over the last 10 years, I find this deeply saddening and feel that we could all do more to help Midwives feel more appreciated and valued.

When you consider that pretty much every midwife became a midwife because they were passionate about helping women and their babies, there is something seriously wrong when half of them find their job has taken a toll on their emotional as well as physical well-being.  It is also shocking that 46% of midwives suffered from stress compared with only 33% of paramedics who deal with far more traumatic and life threatening situations. midwives.

One of the most challenging areas for midwives is often from other colleagues – especially senior colleagues – a very sad 32% of midwives had experienced bullying, abuse or harassment from NHS staff in the previous 12 months.

And yet much of this stress and harassment is unreported with only 37% saying that they reported the most recent experience.

And even with those statistics, it is testimony to the dedication and passion of midwives as over half of all staff (58%), reported that they often or always look forward to going to work, with 74% of staff feeling enthusiastic about their job.

RCM director for policy, employment relations and communications Jon Skewes says: ‘Midwives are the backbone of the NHS, they work tirelessly to deliver the highest quality care to women and their babies, often without fair overtime payments and to have almost 4000 midwives suffering work-related stress is deeply concerning.”

So the next time you see your midwife or speak to a midwife colleague please,

  • tell them how much you appreciate what they are doing,
  • tell them what a great job they are doing,
  • tell them what a positive influence they have had on your day….show them some love!

A few kind words can do wonders to help reduce stress and help them feel valued.

My little “token of love” to all midwives I can’t meet face to face, is to offer them my Midwife’s Companion hypnotherapy track for free.

Midwife's Companion Hypnotherapy to help midwives de stress
Free hypnotherapy download to help Midwives deal with stress

This 30 minute hypnotherapy track will help them:-

• Deal more effectively with daily stresses
• Manage your emotional as well as physical well-being
• Learn coping strategies to deal with difficult situations
• Be more instinctive
• Become better at being “with woman”
• Manage your own energy levels

Click Here to for your Free Midwife’s Companion MP3

So please share this blog on your social network so more Midwives can feel the love!

Oxytocin – what it is and how to make the most of this amazing hormone

queen of hormonesFor anyone about to have a baby, an understanding of Oxytocin and the best conditions to maximise its production is essential. Here are my thoughts on what oxytocin is, how it works, what can prevent it from working effectively and what a woman can do to overcome those challenges.

Oxytocin – The Love Hormone

Oxytocin is the queen of all hormones – The term was originally coined in the 1920s and was a derivative of the Greek words oxus and tokos meaning quick childbirth. Oxytocin has more recently been named as the “hormone of love” by Michel Odent who says that “Whatever facet of love we consider, oxytocin is involved”. 

Oxytocin is released in any situation that we feel “love”: during love-making, birth, breastfeeding, bonding, cuddling and so on. It truly is the X factor that drives couples together and that keeps them together.  The production of oxytocin leads to feelings of calm, well-being, patience, increased social behaviour, lower blood pressure, better digestion and better healing. It even makes breastfeeding mothers more tolerant of monotony, and thus better able to cope with the challenges of early motherhood. And as it is not a “one-hit wonder”, the more oxytocin we have in our system, the more we produce and the better we feel. In research it has been shown to have a cumulative effect, so, the more frequently we are exposed to oxytocin, the longer the effect lasts.

Oxytocin during pregnancy

pregnanct woman in the grassDuring pregnancy, oxytocin levels are low, but they begin to increase towards the end of the last trimester.  During pregnancy, oxytocin triggers frequent uterine contractions, which help to strengthen the uterus and maintain the pregnancy, stimulating the flow of blood from the placenta to the baby. These are often known as “Braxton Hicks” contractions.  Even though no one is exactly sure how labour is triggered, we do know that it is oxytocin which is the “driver” behind labour. It is the pulsating release of oxytocin which triggers the long muscles of the uterus to reach down and gently ease open the circular muscles of the cervix. As the uterus contracts, signals are sent to the brain to produce more oxytocin, which helps the uterus contract more effectively, thus making more oxytocin, and so on. This wonderful cycle of triggers and hormone production will continue throughout labour, as long as the mother is not disturbed (see below).

Oxytocin during labourkeep calm and release oxytocin

During labour, oxytocin receptors throughout the body are on high alert. These receptors are found in the cervix, birth canal, perineum, vagina and nipples, and even in the skin. Gentle pressure, massage and stimulation in any of these areas (the release of oxytocin during massage is well reported) ensure that the production of oxytocin will remain steady and high, as long as there is no interference from fear-induced adrenalin, drugs or artificial hormones (see below). Once the gap in the cervix is large enough for the baby to pass through, and the head begins to press down into the birth canal, the receptors there send a new wave of signals, which trigger another wave of oxytocin, as the energy of the contractions changes to one of pushing down rather than opening the cervix.

As well as the physical effects, oxytocin helps a woman to mentally “go off to a different plane” or “go into the zone” so that she “lets go” on a psychological, as well as a physiological level, allowing her body to take control.

At the moment of birth, if it is undisturbed, unobserved and there is minimal interference, a woman will experience a higher level of oxytocin in her body than at any other time. The reasons for this are many fold. Firstly, it is designed to produce an overwhelming feeling of love towards the baby, facilitating the process of “falling in love”. Again, nature is very clever, as this wonderful feeling is a powerful incentive and driver for a mother to look after her baby.

So what can interrupt the flow of Oxytocin?

Oxytocin is a very sensitive and shy hormone.  It works wonderfully well when a woman is feeling safe, warm and unobserved – so the conditions in which a baby is made are the best conditions in which to birth a baby. However for many women giving birth these days, there may be times when these conditions are not possible or are disturbed.  If a woman is not aware of these and why oxytocin is slowing down then it can lead to a stall in labour and then possibly on to the cruelly termed “failure to progress”.

Here are the main reasons that can result in a slowing down in the production of oxytocin.

Pregnant lady hiding behind her hands

  • any sudden disturbance or interference
  • anxiety or fear
  • embarrassment
  • feeling observed
  • feeling cold
  • being exposed to loud noises
  • stimulation of the neo cortex eg talking, form filling, analysing
  • medical interventions such as induction, epidural, anaesthetic injections or episiotomy

By being aware that these things may interrupt the flow of oxytocin and hence possibly stall or slow down your labour, then you can plan ways in advance to deal with any eventuality on the big day.

What can I do if this happens?

Lets face it – some of these things are likely to happen during labour – it would be almost impossible for none of these to take place. So if you experience any of these, then my advice is to accept that they have happened, let the moment pass so it is in the past, then put the some or all of the following into action:-

  • take a few moments as soon as you can to stop everything you are doing,
  • take a few deep breaths
  • close your eyes
  • use your mind to become still again
  • put on some relaxing music
  • have a long hug with someone
  • turn down the lighting
  • burn some aromatherapy oils
  • practice being really mindful and aware of your breathing and your body
  • use visualisation to help take your mind to a calm place
  • count slowly to 10 talking a deep breath with each count.
  • do what you can to make your birthing space becomes quiet, dark, safe and warm
  • practice relaxing each of the muscle groups in your body
  • get into a warm bath
Effective Birth Preparation Book
Effective Birth Preparation Book

If you have been using Natal Hypnotherapy then you can also use the techniques you have practiced, especially 321 relax, your rapid relaxation trigger, shaking the apples and creating your Baobab (You can learn more about these techniques from The Effective Birth Preparation book or by attending one of our popular Natal Hypnotherapy courses around the UK).

So in summary, by understanding how Oxytocin works and the conditions in which it flows most freely, you can begin to prepare your environment as well as your physical and mental preparation. Plan ways to make your birthing space as calm, quiet, dark and safe as possible – You can make this happen in almost any setting by having an eye mask, ear plugs, a favourite blanket or even duvet to snuggle under and someone with you that you love and trust. Learn techniques to help you relax deeply, breath calmly and stay mentally calm such as meditation, mindfulness, yoga or hypnotherapy. And remember that if you experience any of the disturbances listed above, you can still get back into a calm birthing rhythm and so encourage this queen of hormones to reign supreme!

If you would like to learn more about hypnosis and how it can help you stay calmer, more focused and so better able to release this wonderful hormone click here.

To get started straight away you can download a free 15 minute Pregnancy Relaxation track.

Click to download your FREE Pregnancy relaxation track

You can read more about this queen of hormones with my Top 20 facts about Oxytocin blog post.

Lose weight after having a baby – the healthy way

I am really excited to launch my new “Healthy eating for new mums – a sensible approach to lose weight after having a baby”.

Having been through the process to try and lose weight after having a baby 5 healthy eating for new mums shadowtimes, I really understand how challenging it can be. After my first 4 babies it was a real struggle and I never managed to get back to my pre pregnancy weight – this was more to do with my love of chocolate and often hoovering up the kids food, than anything else.

Madly enough, I never used hypnosis to help me lose the extra weight (in spite of my work and training!!). However, some time after my fifth baby I became far more aware of food and nutrition, and started using hypnosis to help me overcome my chocolate cravings.

I am thrilled that I am now back to my pre pregnancy weight (in fact just below it and I love the way I look)!

So I have created this “Healthy eating for new mums” track to help all new (and not so new) mums to easily make the changes that I finally discovered 14 years after my first baby!

A gentle and sensible way to lose weight after having a baby

To start with, this track is NOT about a quick fix, celeb style, fast way to lose weight after having a baby approach. This is not about going on a crash buy nowdiet or reducing calories. This track is all about acknowledging your needs as a new mum by helping you change or improve your eating habits so you increase your intake of healthy, nutritious food, increase the amount of water you drink and decrease foods high in sugar, saturated fats and starchy carbs. In addition it helps you shift away from emotion based eating (ie eating out of boredom, stress, tiredness, habit) and towards eating mainly for nutrition as well as hunger.

In addition, listening to the track helps you to take time to slow down, stop and relax which reduces the cortisol or stress hormones that you get when you are tired. This is a double whammy as increased cortisol can make it harder to lose weight after having a baby.

Listening to “Healthy eating for new mums”  will help you:-

  • eat more vibrant colourful fruit and vegetables
  • eat less sugars, fats and complex carbohydrates (bread, pasta)
  • drink more water
  • reduce cravings and bad habits
  • recognise when you are full and then stop eating
  • avoid picking food from your baby or toddler
  • avoid unhealthy snacks between meals by using simple triggers
  • practice mindfulness to help you stay calm and focused.
  • eat for the right reasons and not based on your emotions
  • create a more positive and healthy relationship with food
  • Increase your health and vitality to cope better with sleepless nights and long days.weight gain in pregnancy

“I have listened to the track for three weeks and I’m drinking way more water (instead of squash or diet coke), I don’t even want chocolate (very unlike me), I am enjoying looking for and choosing healthy food and still feel like I am eating loads. I’ve lost 3lb!” Judy

The average woman gains about 28 lbs during her pregnancy, however only about 7lb of this is extra fat and 8lb is excess fluid, which was an integral and necessary part of keeping you and your baby healthy. Once your baby has been born, you will of course lose about half of the amount you have gained which is made up of  your baby, the placenta, amniotic fluid and increased blood flow.  However, initially your body will retain the excess fat and fluid that you gained during your pregnancy as a store to supply your breast milk production. Over the next few weeks you will naturally continue to lose some of this weight as your body releases excess fluid and the fat is used for milk.

For most women who maintain a healthy diet and active lifestyle, the remaining 10 – 12 lbs will gradually disappear over the next 6 – 9 months.

How long will it take to lose weight after having a baby?

This will depend on many factors however the key is to go slow and steady – ignore all the hype about celebrity weight loss. However, by using this track you will be upping your health and well being and changing habits so that you no longer crave the unnecessary foods that lead many women to retain or gain weight. As a result you are likely to lose weight at a steady, healthy and maintainable pace. Many women find they lose 2 – 3 lbs a month so you can expect to lose any excess weight from 6 months – a year.

How exactly does Hypnosis work?

The process of hypnosis enables great 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 a deeper subconscious level. By creating new associations and patterns, your subconscious is sending new helpful messages to your conscious, so you no longer rely on will power to control what and how much you eat.

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, that you will reduce your weight and size to one which is right for you. By listening to this track 2 to 3 times a week 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.

Getting the most from this Healthy eating for new mums track

I recommend that you start listening to this from 6 weeks after your baby is born and carry on until you no longer feel you need it.  It is also appropriate for women with older babies or young toddlers.

How often should I listen to it?

In the first week aim to listen to it 4 – 5 times and then reduce that to 1 – 2 times a week until you are happy with your new healthy eating habits.  It is also a great way to relax, get a bit of you time and help you feel more in control in other areas of your life as well.

Can I start listening to it before 6 weeks?

I don’t recommended that you do as your body is still going through many changes since the birth.  However that does not mean you can’t still eat healthily.

Is this safe to use when breastfeeding?

Yes – this is not about crash diets or reducing how much you eat.  This is more about choosing healthy options and increasing your water intake which are both beneficial when breastfeeding. You need approximately 300 calories extra a day to produce milk for your baby compared to mothers who formula feed. This means that breastfeeding alone can help you to lose weight if you simply continue to eat healthily. There is also evidence to suggest that breastfeeding may help you to keep your weight off in the longer term.

How long does the Healthy eating for new mums track last?

The track lasts 28 minutes. Aim to listen to this at a time when your baby or toddler is either asleep or being taken care of by someone else. Ideally listen to it at a time when you would not normally going to sleep, however if you can only listen to it at bed time then it will still be beneficial.

Order a copy of your track by clicking here

buy now

healthy eating for new mums shadow

 

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!
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