Yep that's right. In June 2018 3 will become 4 in the Little Hearts household! We are so excited and I can't wait to travel this journey alongside the couples I teach.
Here's to a wonderful Christmas and an even more wonderful 2018!
Emma, Francis, Matilda and Bump x
Just wanted to thank you for all you taught us in hypnobirthing and update you with our story...
My waters broke (in true movie style) in bed at about 00:45, I hopped into shower and contractions started straight away, after a while on the bed I decided to have a bath, it didn't take long for things to ramp up so we arrived at the Princess Ann at 03:15 and 9cm dilated!!! In the pool on gas and air for abit then on the bed breathing through and our little boy was born at 05:08 on the morning of 21/11/17 (2 days 'early') weighing in at 8lb 10oz.
I focused on my breathing throughout (there was the odd swear word) but honestly wouldn't have mentally been prepared or capable of our amazing birth without hypnobirthing. My husband was amazing and the midwives couldn't believe it was our first baby. Would describe it as intense rather than painful and actually quite enjoyable (cringe) when I think about it.
Home with a dominos pizza by 5 o clock this evening as a little family unit. I can't believe my luck and just wanted to thank you so much for all your support. I would definatly recommend hypnobirthing to other parents and will be having a refresher for next time.
It was truly unbelievable. I'm going to be shouting it from the rooftops.
Lots of love, 2 very happy parents x
There are so many myths and misconceptions about what Hypnobirthing is or
isn't. Most are completely harmless and with a bit of information, can easily be
busted (like it only being suitable for people who want a hippy, drug-free homebirth!) But recently I have seen more of a rise in potentially quite damaging rumours circulating about what Hypnobirthing teaches and the kind of expectation it puts on women and their partners. I'm going to cover a few of the most common ones and help to hopefully shed some light on which of the
rumours are true and which arent!
1. Hypnobirthing is only for women who want a hippy, drug-free homebirth
This is one of the top ones and one of the easiest to shake off. No,
Hypnobirthing is NOT only for women who want drug-free homebirths.
The great thing is that the techniques you learn in a course will help you no
matter what type of birth you have. There are lots of birth stories and videos
available which show the techniques being used in hospital settings, with
inductions and even during Caesarean sections. I have several reviews and birth reports on my website and Facebook
page where things have not gone to plan and have ended up quite medicalised, but having used the relaxation techniques and keeping calm and asking appropriate questions to help them to feel informed and involved in all decisions, these situations have ended in a very positive and empowering experience. Yes, a lot of people do come to Hypnobirthing as their preference is for an intervention and medication free labour as far as possible, but this is absolutely not the way in which we tell people they 'have' to give birth.
2. Hypnobirthing places far too much expectation on the birth partner to be the 'advocate'
We do talk about birth partner's being the woman's advocate during labour, we talk about informed choice, informed decision making and we work on increasing couple's confidence so that they can ask questions and work with medical professionals to help them decide what is best for them in their personal situation.
Once labour starts, women are unlikely to want to engage in conversation, ask questions and focus too much on anything outside their 'birth bubble'. A woman's neocortex (the rational, thinking brain) switches off in labour to allow her 'animal instincts' to take over and the hormones of labour and birth to flow as they are intended. If a woman is disturbed during this stage, the hormones will likely stop being released in such high quantities, in turn leading to her labour slowing down significantly. Ultimately, in the majority of cases, labour will progress more smoothly when a woman is undisturbed.
With this in mind, who is going to ask questions if a situation were to arise where interventions were being discussed? Yes, you could leave it to the medical professionals to decide what happens to you, but this is your body, your baby and your choice. Without someone there to ask questions for you, women can be left feeling isolated, not listened to and informed, and sometimes, traumatised if there are interventions carried out which they do not feel they fully understood or consented to. I always make sure to mention the role of a doula and how they are there to help in these kind of situations, but this is not an option for every couple. So yes, we do refer to birth partners being the advocate but within reason. The idea is to work with the professionals rather than battle against them and to ensure that the woman's wishes are kept to as far as safe and possible and that she feels safe and respected.
3. Hypnobirthing hails vaginal birth as the 'best' option and that any other type of birth is inferior
As a Hypnobirthig teacher, this is one of the ones which upsets me most when I see it. Birth is birth, no matter how it happens. It is beautiful and hard and incredible all in equal measure. There couldn't be anything further from the truth that we think women who have some help to bring their babies into the world are in anyway less of a mother and we absolutely do not teach with this slant either.
We talk a lot about the process of vaginal birth and the way our bodies work during a spontaneous labour and birth, but we also make sure to include 'what ifs' and to discuss the fact that not every labour goes to plan. Our courses are designed in a way which help to empower women, build their confidence in their bodies and learn to trust the process of birth again. We have grown up for so many years with the very warped media perception of labour and this has a detrimental effect on the way we give birth due to the presence of fear. We focus on the positives of the ways in which our bodies are designed and this positivity in turn creates more confident and less anxious mothers to be, which is shown to help the process of birth.
Yes we focus more on positives than negatives, but this is because it would be pretty hard to leave women feeling completely empowered and trusting of their bodies if all we spoke about was what 'could' go wrong. In fact I think it would leave a rather large amount of terrified first time mothers. Mothers who have just had all the negative perceptions of labour and birth that the media has shoved down their throats from day one, confirmed.
4. Hypnobirthing teaches you that giving birth should be easy
I know exactly what this is referring to and it is some of the words used in the relaxation scripts. The relaxation scripts and visualisations used in Hypnobirthing do sometimes mention things like 'your baby moving easily downwards'.
Now I listened to these scripts throughout pregnancy and at no point did I feel that they were insinuating that I should find giving birth 'easy'. I read many birth reports throughout my pregnancy and I also recommend to every couple I teach that reading positive birth stories can be really beneficial for boosting confidence. Yes, some of these birth stories reported them birthing their babies with ease, but the majority referred to it as being 'intense, powerful, all consuming, empowering and incredible' that list doesn't scream 'walk in the park' to me!
Giving birth to my daughter was without doubt the hardest thing I have ever done, but it was also the most rewarding, powerful and amazing thing too! Most other Hypnobirthing teachers have given birth and lots of them also using Hypnobirthing techniques, so I am pretty certain that there are very few who would describe birth as easy and set that expectation for their clients.
There are many more misconceptions around but I will leave it with these for now. If you have heard of others which you would really like answering or a bit more information on then please do let me know as I would love to discuss!
Have you ever thought about planning for AFTER your baby is here?
This post covers that all important period in time where YOU'VE DONE IT! (Labour that is!) The huge, massive and important task which is growing and giving birth to a WHOLE HUMAN BEING. . .
But then the heady highs of those initial couple of days are replaced by a new reality, the reality that this human is yours and you now have to look after them for at least 18 years!
Planning for your baby's birth is talked about all the time and it's positive effects are well known, but planning for the postnatal period is very often overlooked and the significant impact that having a good, solid plan in place in those first few weeks and months can have. I speak from experience as someone who planned meticulously for my baby's birth, went to all the classes, read all the books etc. but I completely ignored what would happen after (and wished I'd hadn't!)
Some women breeze through the postnatal period (or so social media have you believing maybe!) And others find it a really tough time. Remember that your body has done a hell of a lot of work and your hormones are just on some jolly joy ride of craziness right after your baby has been born. It takes time for everything to settle back down. Add to that the fact that you now have a new job role with a tiny, adorable, but demanding boss who needs you working 24 hours a day and you can see why you may feel like you need some extra support during such a massive adjustment to your life.
Well what do you put in a postnatal plan?
Who do you want around in those first few days? You'll know that everyone from family and friends to well meaning neighbours will be desperate to visit your beautiful baby whilst they're still in that freshly squeezed newborn stage. But if you're on day 6 of dry shampoo, still trying to get to know your baby yourself and are running on limited sleep, you may not wish for their company quite so much! So think through who you want around and why and set limits- only 30 min visits at a time for example or visitors must make their own cups of tea!
Second would be WHAT?
What kind of help will you want? Have you got older children who could really do with being taken out for a run around at the park? A dog who needs walking? Mouths which could really do with being fed something other than take away?
If you live a long way from friends and family and don't have anyone close by who you would feel comfortable asking for help from, you could consider hiring a postnatal doula. Doulas are well known for supporting during births but they can play a fantastic role postnatally too. They can help with practical tasks around the house and are also there as emotional support.
Another thing you might want to think about adding to your plan is support groups and helplines. Find out where your local mum and baby groups are in advance so you can pop down one afternoon if you have cabin fever and want to talk to people who are in exactly the same stage of life as you. Feeding support groups and 24 hour helplines are available too and scoping out these beforehand can make a task that much easier if you need any help.
Researching the fourth trimester will really open your eyes to what your newborn baby will need in the first few months of their life. It will help you to understand why your baby may not want to be put down, why there are some days they just want milk, milk and more milk and why, despite you spending a small fortune on all those comfortable bedding accessories and beautifully patterned fitted sheets, they only want to sleep on you.
Finally, be kind to yourself, don't expect too much from you or your baby and don't feel bad for not keeping up with those Instagram Mummies who seem to all have it figured out (they probably don't). Did you know that in lots of cultures there is a practice called 'Sitting the month' where women are required to do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for 30-40 days after the birth of their baby but feed them and rest and recuperate. These cultures treat the month after birth as a very sacred time for bonding between a mother and their baby and feel that day to day life should not get in the way of this precious time. They also honour the fact that women's bodies have done an incredible thing and need time to heal well.
So I'm not suggesting that you don't leave your bed for a month, but take it easy and don't push yourself to do more than you are comfortable with.
A dilemma which I am sure many parents-to-be face is what to invest in. . . No, I'm not talking stocks and shares, I'm talking about the thousands and thousands of 'essential' items of baby paraphernalia. I still remember vividly my first trip to Mothercare with my lovely friend Katie when I was around 6 weeks pregnant. What was supposed to be an exciting, light hearted trip to check out cute baby clothes ended in about 10 minutes with Katie turning to me and asking if I wanted to leave as she could see the look of sheer horror on my face. I was so overwhelmed with the amount of 'stuff' I was faced with, all claiming to be an 'essential' that I couldn't see straight anymore! Depending on where I've looked, I've found different estimates of what people spend on average on baby 'essentials' and this ranges from £1,600- £7,200!
As it turns out we ended up doing very little baby shopping and got most of Matilda's first outfits, moses basket, cuddly toys, books and bouncers either kindly handed down from family or very gratefully received at my (surprise) baby shower.
The one thing we did invest in and spent the majority of our baby budget on was antenatal classes. We booked on to an NCT course first of all due to having very little experience with babies and no close friends or family expecting babies at the same time. And secondly, after many a frantic google search, I booked us on to a Hypnobirthing course. Now 2, 12+ hour, in depth antenatal courses may seem like a bit of an extravagance and at the time I was fully aware that we had spent more on these 2 courses than we had on every single other baby purchase combined! But this is where the essential vs. extravagance debate comes in. . . I know it may seem a bit OTT to pay a couple of hundred pounds to have someone teach you something which is meant to come so naturally (motherly instinct and all that) but I can't describe how incredibly pleased I am that we invested so heavily. We met a wonderful group of other first time parents through NCT. I am pleased to say that that group of 6 other women who helped me through those 3am feeds and endless baby groups are still friends now and I know we will remain in the future. And we also learnt things which were completely essential (the different colours of baby poo for example). Honestly though, if it hadn't have been for the baby poo section, I think we would have had a major panic and been calling doctors out when our baby's poo suddenly turned green! And I expect you can guess how much we gained from the Hypnobirthing course. . . enough to convince me so much of it's importance that I became a teacher myself!
So why is antenatal education such an important thing and why do I think every couple expecting a baby should invest in it?
Because it creates confident, informed, empowered and excited parents to be! If you are not well informed of all your options and the pros and cons of every single thing which is being suggested to you, then how are you meant to make an informed decision about what is best for you and your baby? Women during pregnancy and birth should feel respected, involved and supported in their decisions, but many women unfortunately feel pressured in to action which they are not 100% happy or confident about due to influences such as hospital protocol, fear or not knowing that they have other options. Being educated about birth can have a huge effect on labour itself too. Knowing what our bodies and babies are up to during the birth process makes it a lot less scary. When you feel contractions but know exactly what you're muscles are doing at that moment, instead of willing it to be over, you can embrace it! Or during a caesarean section, knowing exactly what the process is and what to expect will take the unknown and fear out of it. Women who are well informed and have felt fully involved in every decision regarding theirs and their baby's care are also far more likely to feel positive about their baby's birth afterwards.
I know there is the idea that if baby is here OK at the end of it then that's all that matters. It's not. Why only strive for a healthy baby? Remember this is YOUR birth as well as your baby's and how you feel before, during and afterwards is just as important. Why just resign yourself to the fact that you'll have to endure birth but as long as your baby is OK then you will be too? Inform yourself, learn about labour and birth, ask questions and find out about all your options. Remember that birth can be amazing, wonderful, transformative and the most empowering experience of your life and antenatal education is the place to start and give yourself a head start.
Finally I'd just like to add that antenatal education needn't be expensive. There are many options which are completely FREE! Ask your midwife questions, find out and go to your local Positive Birth Movement meet ups, follow some amazing positive birth blogs and Facebook pages and visit the AIMS and Birth Rights websites.
Antental education- add it to your 'essentials' baby list!
If you've loved your Hypnobirthing experience and the courses you attended with me, then why not pass on the positive birth vibes by referring a friend?! Or if you're looking in to a course but would like a bit of moral support, then book in with a friend and you can both benefit from a special offer.
Choice of Mamas and Papas, Amazon or Love2shop gift voucher.
A lovely story from a couple who just had their first baby at home 🏡👶🏻❤️
Just wanted to share that we had a beautiful baby girl weighing 8 pounds 15 at 16:13 23/07/17. Shattered but all doing well and so in love.
She was 12 days over her 'due date' but luckily I'd pushed the proposed induction back for her to come in her own time. Managed to get the home birth we had wanted which is a good job as I don't think we would have made it to the hospital - 2 hours established labour. Might have been all those dates! All the hyonobirthing helped massively throughout pregnancy and the early stages of labour. When the midwife arrived and told me I was 4cm, I had a bit of a wobble as I felt the birth was imminent but she thought it would be another 8 hours or so. Turns out baby was excited to come out and I ended up having her in the bath a couple of hours later.
OK, so time for a guilty pleasure confession. . . I love Made in Chelsea. I have done from the very first day it aired and I will continue to love it until the cast members are wrinkly and grey! (Have any of you worked out that highly edited, staged, 'reality' TV is my bag yet?!)
So as a die hard MIC fan, I was beyond excited and happy to hear that 2 of my favourites, Binky and JP were expecting a baby together.
I waited in excitement to see if they attended antenatal classes and felt assured that they were a switched on couple who would make sure that they were well educated and would make informed choices about how and where they wanted their baby to be born. Fast forward a few months and I saw that indeed they were attending classes, yeesssss! So I sat back and enjoyed the show and looked forward to the announcement of their little bundle's arrival. It came a week or so ago now and on Monday their official announcement (read cute baby pics!) was published in Hello! magazine. And here comes the bombshell. . . I read and read and re-read the all important part about their daughter's birth and to be honest, I'm really not sure how I feel about it! Want to know why?
Now lets remember, as with everything, what Binky and JP may have said in this interview is likely to have been edited and we might not be getting the whole story here. The first thing I read was 'It was a dream labour' Yes, yes, yes I thought, a cool, young, popular couple helping to change the view of birth. And then I read a little further and was to be truthfully honest, a bit surprised.
They revealed that Binky chose to be induced 2 days before her due date. From what was written in the article, there was no medical indication for induction. They said that as Binky can get anxious about things, she wanted to have some control over when and how her labour would start. Now I'll just refer to the NICE guidelines here which state- 'Induction of labour has a large impact on the health of women and their babies and so needs to be clearly clinically justified.' I don't know their view on it, but I personally don't see ANY clinical justification in inducing 2 days before a due date when there are no complications with mother or baby. So, they were being looked after privately and of course when you are paying a fair amount for the birth of your baby, you would expect that your wishes are upheld and if that means being induced when you wish, then so be it. They may have been educated on the risks of induction and they may have been educated on the benefits of their baby choosing their own birthday and if this was the case and they made the informed decision to go ahead with induction then good on them. But I can't completely believe that they would have still chosen this option had they been fully informed by the team who were working with them before their baby's birth.
There was also the added gem of finding out that upon entry to the hospital it was found that Binky was in fact 2cm dilated. . . Her body knew what to do and it was already doing it. . . so why the induction?!
I really am very happy that they chose how they wanted the birth of their baby to be and that they had a positive experience and are happy to share it with the world. And also that they are helping to change the view of birth to a positive one for their many followers. But I would just love to know a little more about the reasoning behind their decisions and would love to be sure that they made confident but also informed decisions about their care. . . For now I'll just have to stick with being incredibly happy for them and wishing them a life full of happiness and love together!
Also, I may eat my words when I watch their documentary tomorrow night and find out more!
Yesterday I spent a lovely morning down at Mamas and Papas in Southampton speaking to lots of parents to be about the powers of Hypnobirthing and what they will gain from taking a course. We do provide a full antenatal course, but I teach many parents who have also opted for more traditional birth preparation too. The difference with Hypnobirthing is that the techniques can be used no matter what type of birth you have and we approach our classes from a different, positive and far more empowering angle than most other classes, leaving you feeling fully informed, excited and confident in the lead up to your baby's birth.
I'm so pleased to announce that as of June, I will be offering monthly VBAC workshops in the Southampton area. With caesareans accounting for around 25% of all births in the UK, there is an ever increasing need for Vaginal Birth After Caesarean education. It is an area not talked about that often and there is a lot of confusion about what is best for mother and baby when it comes to opting for a VBAC or a repeat c section. The Little Hearts VBAC workshop is designed to help women to birth confidently and on their terms. Whether you are choosing to have a VBAC, a repeat elective caesarean or are still undecided, this workshop gives you evidence based information and tips and techniques to help you come to an informed and confident decision as to what is best for you and your baby. You will leave this course feeling prepared for your positive birth experience and knowing how you can work with your care providers to feel empowered and involved in every decision. VBAC workshops are held over 2 weekday evenings in Bitterne Park. Included in the course-
***The next VBAC workshop will be held on Thursday 22nd and 29th June- 7pm- 9.30pm in Bitterne Park. £65 per couple***