Why Mindful Breastfeeding Works

I'm so excited to be sharing this blog and this project with you all! For those of you in our Facebook Group Calm Birth Kent, you may have noticed that I've been a little quiet in there recently. Well a large part of that has been down to developing and filming this amazing resource with the wonderful Anna, Lactation Consultant extrardinaire. I can't wait to share the course it in full with you all VERY SOON but for now, over to Anna to share what a difference the approach we have developed makes in her practice all ready.

The most amazing transformation has happened to my work as a lactation consultant over the past months. It’s enhanced my practice, given me a load of new tools to use with my clients and undoubtedly improved the outcomes for every mother I have worked with.

Back in the early spring of 2017 I met up with my friend Ray for a coffee and a catch up at our favourite cafe. We always enjoy checking in with each other to catch up on our businesses and refer clients to each other, but rarely get the chance in our busy busy family and working lives. We discussed the possibility of starting some breastfeeding classes together.  Ray already runs hypnobirthing classes and also works as a volunteer breastfeeding counsellor. We have volunteered together in the past and made a cracking team, supporting Mums and having a great time doing it.   I was hoping that with our shared knowledge and experience we could put together a meaningful course on breastfeeding for pregnant women and their partners.

As the months went by and we started to put this course together we realised that this it was going to be something quite different. In our daily work with women the emotional side of breastfeeding and parenthood is muddled in with the breastfeeding issues.  Babies feel what their mothers feel and vice versa. Negative emotions and those that may be held very deep inside the subconscious can have a huge impact on feeding. Listening and counselling skills are so important when helping breastfeeding families but what about giving families the tools to be able to change that thinking?

So Ray took her hypnobirthing practice and related it to breastfeeding and motherhood. Mindful Breastfeeding was born! I immediately changed how I was working with mothers in my clinics and in their homes and the result was staggering.

What I have found is that when I help them trace back where their anxiety, fears and overwhelm is coming from and then give them the tools to work on that, although the breastfeeding problems haven’t disappeared, they somehow feel manageable. Once parents feel that the issues aren’t so daunting they relax. This, in turn, gives them a different view on the whole situation. They find it easier to make changes but also feel less pressure to see an immediate outcome.

In most of my client feedback now I receive a comments on how much more relaxed they feel and often on how they are seeing breastfeeding in a different light. It’s wonderful to hear that they have taken control of their mindset and are feeling positive whilst they navigate their way through their breastfeeding journey.

Breastfeeding takes patience. It takes time to create and nurture a brand new parent and child relationship.  It’s a relationship formed of non-verbal and hormone driven communication. I hope that the more I help parents to discover this side of parenting the happier and more fulfilling their breastfeeding experience will be.

The Breastfeeding School will be launching at the end of July 2017. To find out more you can join our Facebook group The Breastfeeding Hub or sign up for info at www.thebreastfeedingschool.com

June's Birth Story

I'm am so, so pleased to be sharing this amazing story. When Charlotte and I first spoke on the phone she was very fearful of what her birth would bring, in fact all through the course she was very sure that she would give birth in the hospital. I was so excited when she told me about June's birth and that she had chosen the Midwife led unit in the end. Not because it matters where a person gives birth, that is totally (TOTALLY) their choice but because it shows how far she had come. She was choosing where to give birth from a place of confidence not fear. She was choosing to believe in her body and that is a very powerful decision! Now grab a cup of tea and have a read. (Ray)


It was about time that I shared my birth story with you. And may I start by saying that like many, the idea of giving birth seemed like the most impossible and scary thing I could ever imagine. As soon as I was pregnant I panicked about how this baby was coming out of me, and this is where I discovered Kent Hypnobirthing and it was quite honestly life changing. 

I was 41 + 1 days pregnant. My midwife had been fantastic, and I wasn't due to see her again until I was 41+ 3, which would be ten days after I last saw her. There was no pressure for a sweep or induction, however by this point I was well and truly fed up. Everything hurt, and the anticipation of becoming a mother and finally meeting this baby girl was all too much. If the baby wasn't here by that Saturday, I had discussed it with my boyfriend and I was going to have a sweep, I didn't want to be pregnant for another minute. Luckily for me it didn't come to that....

I woke up on the morning of Thursday 27th of April at about 2 AM for my tenth toilet trip of the night, luckily that night I switched the bathroom light on, and had, what I now know to be, a 'show'. After 20 minutes of googling it I decided to go back to sleep and proceeded to wake up every two hours with the typical cramp like period pains that lots of people tell you about. I decided not to wake my partner and tell him, as I thought 'maybe this is it' and if so I would need him to get as much rest as possible to help me through it all. I woke up in the morning and the cramp like period sensations were still continuing, I thought if this was the day it was happening that I had time to send Jack to the tip to clear the rest of the things on the balcony that I've been staring at me for the past three months. I also made an epic brunch of poached eggs on muffins with chorizo, avocado all topped off with hollandaise sauce, very pleased about that! I also did some cleaning, as again, if this was the big day I couldn't be bringing my baby home to a dirty house (it was anything but, after giving birth and having a baby I truly understand what a messy / unclean house means). 

After this we decided to go for a walk, as we had done every day for the past three weeks. I'd been really fed up and quite emotional, each day was a mental struggle, not to mention the Snooker World Championships were on....much to my boyfriend's delight. During our seaside walk, I then decided I wanted a McDonald's cheeseburger (I finally gave in to the cravings), followed by some ice cream at our favourite gelato shop, all in all the day was going well. Every so often I had to stop because the cramps intensified but wasn't really sure if I was in labour or not at this point, and I really didn't want to get my hopes up. 

We got home and the cramps were still happening and becoming a little more frequent, whilst messaging a friend she reminded me about the tens machine I had, so I decided to put that on and bounced up and in my birth ball whilst watching episodes of Friends remembering about all the oxytocin and I need to release. I was doing my breathing and my boyfriend was secretly timing, what I now know to be contractions. Because he'd been on the Hypnobirthing course with me he really did play an essential role in the whole labour and birth process which I am eternally grateful for

I carried on like this for a few hours made a few phone calls and watched a few more episodes of Friends and then all of a sudden I decided that I needed to call the hospital, the sensations were intensifying and I needed some reassurance. This is the point for me which was the lowest, as the lady on the other end of the phone essentially laughed at me and said I couldn't be in labour because I can still talk. Being typically British I tried my hardest to keep myself together whilst on the phone and actually was a lot worse when I was off the phone, however her telling me that really made me lose confidence in myself and in my body. I burst into tears and Jack had to really calm me down. 

However she did say that she would put me through to someone at the MLU who I could speak too. The midwife on the phone said I could go into the MLU if I wanted to, it was really up to me. Jack knew to keep me a home for as long as possible, so he really tried to persuade me to stay at home for longer. Eventually I insisted I wanted to go in and he went downstairs to pack the car. When I went in the car there was classical music playing and everything was calm and luckily it was dark outside.

It was about 7:45pm, and on the way to the hospital, which is only two minutes drive, we nearly collided with another vehicle. He came out at us at the roundabout out of nowhere, we couldn't believe it as the breaks slammed on. Jack was brilliant managed to remain calm throughout. As soon as I went into the MLU and I met the midwife on duty who was called Emily, I burst into tears. I told her I couldn't do this, she was just what I needed, and she spoke to me in a really soft calming voice and asked me if I'd like to be examined? I thought about it for a moment and decided it was best to know where I was at, so she examined me and I found out I was 3 cm dilated. Emily told me that the MLU was empty that evening and I was more than welcome to stay, get into the pool, eat some food and just see how things progressed. This is exactly what I did, she brought me a whole tray of snacks: cheese, biscuits, crisps and ice cold apple juice. The birthing pool was filled up, and it was so much bigger and warmer than I imagined. The lights were down really low, and I continued contracting, breathing in and breathing out with Jack there to talk me through it. Music wise we hadn't put a playlist together which maybe was a bit of a mistake, but I was more than happy with the old school hits on the radio ranging from 70s disco to a bit of Take That. 

At this point I had been having contractions for quite a while, and they asked me again if I'd like to stay or go home. There was no way I was going home, so they admitted me as a patient which I was over the moon about. After some hours, another midwife came and asked it I was I aware of my pain relief options, and soon as she said this I wanted the gas and air. In hindsight I would definitely avoid people saying the word pain relief or using that language whilst in labour for as long as possible, as soon as she said this I thought I needed it where as before she said this, I hadn't really thought about it too much. 

I continued with the gas and air and my contractions were now going through my whole body. Before they had been quite manageable on all fours, where as now they had me standing up and walking around in the pool. Emily asked me if I would like to be examined again, I decided yes, I would and I got out the pool and onto the bed. She examined me, and as soon as she'd finished the examination I went to the toilet, as i'd be drinking so many fluids.....ice cold apple juice was my new favourite thing at this point. This is again where hypnobirthing helped my boyfriend, as I now know that I was still 3 cm still at this point but Jack said that I could not hear this news. He ensured that Emily only told me positive news, I went back into the pool and Emily told me that everything is progressing nicely she didn't mention anything about measurements and I didn't ask.

I felt really comfortable in the MLU, the atmosphere, the lighting, and Emily all made me feel really comfortable, however by this point it was probably three or four in the morning and the contractions were getting more intense and happening more frequently. They monitored the babies heartbeat throughout, and her position, which I was more than happy with, they then asked me if I would like to to be examined again, and I declined. However the surges were becoming really intense and I decided that I would really like the next level of pain relief. I requested pethidine, which took quite some time for it to arrive, as they needed to find a doctor. When it arrived I had to get out the pool, and I would have to stay out the pool for at least three hours. The idea of the pethidine was for both Jack and me to get some rest, the room we were in was huge, and they'd made a bed for us both to relax in. I decided against getting examined before the injection, and then the rollercoaster really began. Over the next two hours I could not sit still, I couldn't do anything but pace. I wanted to go to the toilet but I couldn't sit down to go, I couldn't even relieve myself stood up. I also couldn't sit down on the bed, all I wanted to do was walk walk walk around that room. Although Jack was trying to be really positive, I knew he really wanted me to get rest and kept saying I should sit down. However I just couldn't explain to him what was happening and I physically couldn't sit still or sit down even if I wanted too, after two hours of this and breathing all the way through, the midwives offered me another examination which I decided was a good idea. During this time I was sick four times and also I'm not sure if was my mucus plug but had something very big and something very red slap down on the floor. I remember Jack asking me what the noise was, and although I was in discomfort, I remember being really excited to see something that big come out of my body as I knew it was another step closer to the end.

It took at least half an hour for me to be able to get on the bed for them to examine me. This is where it gets really good, when they examined me they said I was 7-8 cm dilated. I jumped for joy (I actually didn't, but mentally I did), I knew this meant I wasn't far away, I was near the magic TEN CENTIMETRES! It was approaching 8 AM at this point and Emily who had seen me all the way through the evening was due to finish her shift, I couldn't believe it. But then they brought in just what I needed my new midwife Cara. Emily was what I would describe as kind, softly spoken and exactly what I needed to get me through to that point. Cara was, as my boyfriend describes, the kind of coach that you need in football when you have five minutes to score to win the FA Cup. Now that I was this far, the contractions didn't really let up, I kept breathing, using gas and air however Cara told me I couldn't get back in the pool till at least 8:30am because then that would be three hours since I had the pethidine injection. I begged to go back in the pool as I knew that the contractions were much more manageable when I was in the water, however rules are rules. Just before I got back in the pool my waters broke in spectacular fashion, I would call it true Hollywood style, again I was elated I knew that this was another sign that meant I was closer to the end results. Without Hypnobirthing I wouldn't know any of what was happening to my body, what all these different signals were, so for this and was truly grateful. I finally got back in the pool which was now full of fresh water, and it was finally 8:30am. 

And this bit is a bit of a blur, I remember breathing breathing breathing and using the gas and air to the point Cara maybe suggested I could use the gas and air a little less.....Jack told me he was trying to hold my hands and I just didn't want him to touch me. I knew from what Ray had said, that I needed to try and to not clench my hands, and I needed to relax as much as possible. I was really in the zone, even one of my favourite songs came on from Rocky which is Eye of the Tiger, and I didn't even acknowledge it. The noises that are coming out of me at this point really primal, again Ray told us that this might happen. I just remember breathing really intensely and really heavily - I knew I was so so close.

At this point I had to laugh (in hindsight) I remember that my bowels were now emptying, this was being cleaned up instantly, with what can only be described as a sieve from the poundshop. Apparently I came out of my zone and concentrating on breathing to tell Jack off he was trying to help them with the clean up operation. I think I told him he's not paid to do that, if the roles were reversed I wouldn't be caught doing the same that is for sure. 

This next bit wasn't quite as calm as I'd imagined it, but my body definitely took over. I'd reached the part I'd learnt about called transition, which I was not expecting to be so strong. I thought it would be a bit like when you are hungover and can't be bothered to get off the settee to go and get a Domino's Pizza but eventually you got up and did it. I remember shouting quite vividly at Cara, Jack and the other midwife that was in the room that I couldn't do this and quite frankly they could just get the baby out with me or otherwise forget it. This is where everyone was amazing, telling me the right things I needed to hear. They told me I WAS doing this and I COULD get the baby out. I had already come this far and there was just a little bit further to go, eventually I could feel the baby right near the exit I wanted to push but Cara said don't push yet and again from Hypnobirthing I remembered that there was two different times or feelings of when I should push, so somewhere in my subconscious this was embedded within me and I held off pushing for as long as I could. 

Eventually I told Cara I couldn't hold off any more and she said I should push, she was behind me with a mirror telling me she could see the head and to wait until the next contraction before I pushed for the shoulders. I managed to do this, and then June powered on out through a pool of blood. Jack said it was the most amazing thing he'd ever seen, they brought June up onto my chest and I just couldn't believe that it was all done and that she was finally here. I remember just holding her bum and staring at this little squishy face, which is now so recognisable. Her umbilical cord was abnormally short so I had to really bend over to make sure that I wasn't tugging on my placenta but also that she was above water enough so that she wasn't swallowing it.

The other midwife that was in the room, usually works on labour ward and she had a face that was a little concerned because June had come out the pool and she was blue. We knew that this was common with water births, however we were still quite alarmed as we'd totally forgotten this information. I remember asking Cara if everything was okay repeatedly and she kept telling me it was all totally normal. Jack then cut the umbilical cord and straight away the colour started coming to June, she started to turn a lovely pink. After what seemed like forever, she started to cry. They then took her off my chest so that I can get out the pool and then Jack held her. 

Before they took me out the pool they mentioned in my notes that I had said I would like to birth the placenta naturally, and this is also their recommendation on the MLU in Margate. By this point I couldn't imagine birthing another thing, so I said I wanted the injection....Jack tried to talk me round as he knew I wasn't thinking straight. They got me out the pool and onto a stool, rather than the injection my midwife said why not push once more and see what happens. At this point my placenta slapped down into a box that was placed underneath the squatting stool and that was that. Even though I've seen pictures of it, I couldn't help but stare at it, it was so much bigger than i'd imagined. And after the placenta came out I was over the moon. 

They supported me over to the bed, my legs were shaky, and then came at me with the trolley, I was sure they were going to tell me I would need five stitches or more.....but actually I only had two grazes. It was explained I could have one stitch if I wanted, but that would cause me as much aggravation as the graze itself. If I just looked after it over the next few days - I'd be fine. So that was that, no stitches for me, I was elated and mostly in disbelief. 

As I managed to drink so many fluids during labour to keep myself hydrated, this was the point I just couldn't keep any more liquid inside of me. I'd been relieving myself in the pool, but now it was time for me to go on the bed. Apparently you're supposed to have your first wee measured, I'd already put a stop to that. And forgive me if this isn't what you want to read, but I'm sharing all the graphic details because I think it's so important to know that when you're in labour you just do not care about these things, I felt really free. It's really instinctive, for those people that think very worried about pooing during labour quite frankly you just don't give a shit (even though you've just given about 10 in the pool). Next up was a shower, which was just the best feeling ever, and food has never tasted so good. 

We went into the MLU at 8 PM on Thursday night, and June was born at 9 AM Friday morning. In total I was in there for 13 hours before she arrived, and I was in the pool for the majority of that apart from the three hours where I had the pethidine injection. We then stayed in for one night and then it was off home. June's now 9 weeks old, and I can't remember life before she was here. 

Myself and Jack cannot recommend Hypnobirthing or Ray enough, knowing what was happening to my body, knowing what I needed to do to help my body during the labour process was so enlightening. It also gave Jack a really important role to play too. 

The midwifes at the Margate MLU were beyond fantastic, and I recommend Hypnobirthing to everybody I see that is pregnant (sorry about that), it's really changed the way I think about myself and my body. I think it's really important for women to be empowered to be able to make choices about themselves during this unique experience. 

Lots of people ask me how the birth was with a pained face, and I always respond with the fact that I had a really positive experience. I tell my birth story to as many people as I can (who ask to hear it mind), not because I want to boast, but because I want to change the stigma about birth being negative horrible process. Yes, it's not a walk in the park but my goodness with all the tools I had in my kit from Hypnobirthing, it helped me get through it. I honestly believe it gave me the best start to motherhood I could of wished for. 

How do I stay positive when everything seems to be going wrong?

Words by Sophie

So you have attended your Hypnobirthing classes, or you have read a Hypnobirthing book or completed your online course. You feel so positive, more confident in your body and its ability to birth your baby. You have implemented the technique practice into your life and have made sure you relax for 30 minutes each day. You feel happy, confident, and ready to birth that baby. 

But then life happens. 

You have a negative appointment. 

A family member says something that makes you doubt yourself. 

You get to 40 weeks and the pressure to induce begins. 

You see something negative on the internet or in a film 

(or all of the above!)

And all of a sudden you feel you are back at square one. You feel like that frightened woman right at the start of your Hypnobirthing journey and then the doubt creeps in. 

Am I making the right decision? 

Am I being silly by saying no to induction? 

Am I kidding myself that my birth will be anything other than what I have seen on One Born Every Minute?

But you are not back at square one. You still have all that information you gathered in your brain you just have to tap back into it. That is the trick. When you suss how to do this you will be totally cool, calm and collected no matter what you might face in pregnancy, birth, motherhood and beyond.

You will remember from your classes that when your body is relaxed and calm you create calm and connection hormones; oxytocin, melatonin and prolactin. These signal to your body that everything can happen smoothly and all is ok. If you need to make a decision or recall information when you are in this state, what we call the rest and digest state, you can easily do this. You can remember everything, give yourself a pep talk and get yourself feeling positive again (remember your brain wants to be positive as it functions to the best of its ability when happy and stress free). 

So how does this help us to stay in our hypnobubble? 

If you are stressed, worried, anxious, or unhappy you will not be making these calm and connection hormones. If you are feeling doubts, worry and anxiety creeping in or if you have had a shock you will be making stress hormones; adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones not only block the hormones we want to feel safe and calm but they also signal to your body that all is not well and that you should be on alert. You feel stress more easily and will often find these stressful thoughts and feelings layer up. 

When you are in a negative frame of mind you attract more negative thoughts and when you are in a positive frame of mind you attract more positive thoughts!

This happens because our brain changes and develops constantly depending on what we feed it (this is called neuroplasticity). This is also why there is so much power in positive affirmations. By flooding our brains with positive thoughts- even if all around us is negative- we begin to think more positively and our bodies respond. 

By recognising that we actually have a great deal of power and control over how we think and feel gives us a powerful tool. We can use this to stay positive and to build our hypnobubble up even stronger.

Some tips from me!

  • Put in your hypnobirthing practice.
  • Remember that you have a huge amount of power over how you think and feel
  • Do some daily mindset practice using positive affirmations.
  • Really really do spend at least 30 minutes a day being relaxed (your body will remember this feeling and you will be able to access it much quicker every time)
  • Know your triggers and avoid avoid avoid!
  • Find someone you can talk to. Your birth partner is great for this and the three of us at Kent Hypnobirthing are always here to talk you through anything you need. (If you haven’t done so already you are welcome to join our facebook group Calm Birth Kent; Birth, Breastfeeding and Beyond)
  • Have a back up plan for if you come up against a huge stress. Remember your BRAIN acronym for big decisions. Recognise what makes you feel better and more positive and have that ready to go if you need it. 

Remember that you are amazing, your body is designed to give birth and your brain WANTS to be positive. 

If you haven’t attended a Hypnobirthing course and would like to do so visit our website or facebook page to contact us for more information or book your space!

 

Auden's birth story (part 2)

[Now full disclosure before we dive in to part 2 of Han's story (you can read Part 1 here), Han is married to my brother, she is my best friend and to add to the existing in each other's pockets nature of our relationship she also lives next door to me. All of this meant I was right next door as she gave birth, and through our thin walls I could hear the pool being blown up, and as things progressed the beautiful moans, growls and roars that so many birthing women make, coming from their dining room. To me those noises are amazing - they tell us when birth is getting close, they help her navigate the sensations she is presented with. Read on for a beautiful re-telling of the day Auden joined the family (Ray).]

 

Labour

I can confirm that starting labour with a celebratory chippy tea and Prosecco is a wonderful way to begin the most truly epic work you’ll ever undertake. We returned home feeling calm and excited and Dave put Frankie, our 5 year old, to sleep. I wanted to keep oxytocin flowing, and prevent my body going into ‘high alert’ sogot I got in to bed and watched some Gilmore Girls (my pregnancy/new born days guilty pleasure) during which I was breathing through my rapidly increasing surges.

In between reassuring and holding me, Dave bustled about; tidying, lighting the fire and candles and blowing the pool up. A storm had picked up outside sending gusts of wind howling down the chimney and sneaking in through the gaps in the floor boards. But it felt wonderful to be cocooned inside our home in our candle lit 'birth cave’, curtains drawn against the squall. Around 9 pm I began to slowly shut down to the outside world, and go within myself.  I leaned on the kitchen counter and moaned and hummed through the surges. I then moved into the lounge and laboured in front of the fire whilst leaning on the sofa. I felt relaxed and in control. Dave was secretly timing them and started talking about calling Lucy, my doula and Sue, my midwife. I wasn't convinced things had progressed enough but he informed me the surges were 2 minutes apart and lasting a minute and a half. Lucy arrived around 11 and Sue around midnight. She took one look at me, and called the second midwife. It looked like birth was imminent with the regularity and strength of my surges. It certainly felt intense but I had a niggling feeling that something wasn’t quite right and that I still had some way to go. As it turned out I was right, and in it for the long slog. 

My surges continued every 1 or 2 minutes or faster, and growing in strength for the following 9 hours. Yikes. 

There was enough of a gap between surges for me to catch my breath and steady myself for the next one; and a definite predictable rhythm (unlike last time where I think my panic made them disordered) but not enough to process any of it, rest or even sit. I kept needing the toilet, and found that I wanted to be private too. Consequently I found myself most comfortable labouring in the bathroom with Dave and a single lit candle, watching the silhouettes of the trees thrashing around in the storm outside. 

Here's the things that supported my labour:

• Breathing. Rather than focussing on the physical sensations of labour, I focussed on keeping my breathing regular, humming, and a breathy 'ahhh' noise, depending on the strength of the surge. 

• My labour ‘dance’; standing and swaying my hips in a sort of figure of 8. 

• Pressure and constant rubbing on my lower back. Sue, Dave and Lucy all took turns, but Dave mostly bore the brunt of the arm ache afterwards.

• Smiling right into the face of each contraction. Sometimes I’d see a contraction building as a sort of menacing sentient thing, and I’d remind myself to breathe and hum, experience its grip on my body fade, then laugh in it’s face as it cowered. 

• Using laughing as a sort of vocal technique helped to keep my face relaxed and body calm. (sounds odd but it worked!) 

• My Suzy Ashworth birth affirmations which ended up being on repeat for 9 hours- my poor birth team! I zoned In and out of them but it felt calming to constantly reassure myself that I was calm, confident and safe. That my baby knew what it was doing. That my surges could not be bigger than me because because they were me. That I could do this. 

My doula, Lucy. I got a lot of strength simply knowing that she, and all she represented, was there. Her presence reminded me of all the fears we had picked apart, and the demons we slayed together. She reminded me of the confidence I had built in myself and my body. At a more bodily level, she brought snacks and water and kept the pool warm. She placed a cool flannel on me when I needed grounding in the last hour. She tidied up, fetched things we needed (often without us even having to mention it) replaced the candles and stoked the fire, all of which meant Dave could stay with me, and my birth cave still felt cosy and welcoming. She also ensured my desire to be alone was honoured by my midwives as much as safely possible.

My mindset preparation with Ray and Lucy clearly paid off. With those things my intense back labour was genuinely manageable for 90% of the time.  I was focussed within, in my zone, eyes closed, riding the waves. Bear in mind my baby was (unbeknownst to me at this point) back to back which is supposed to be more painful and I thought I had a low tolerance for pain. Huh. 

The wild last hour 

I had deliberately not wanted to know the time or how far along I was; I just went on riding my surges. But I began to feel tired around the same time I noticed it was getting light outside. How could I have been labouring so intensely for so long?! The birth my midwife thought was imminent given the strength of my surges was still not happening 9 hours later. Sue gently informed me that she would need to leave soon to sleep which I really wanted to avoid. The second midwife had already left because it still hadn't happened.  I felt exhausted and was losing heart. I was at a crossroads and decided to be checked to see how dilated I was; Sue would stay if I was close but would need to leave if I wasn't far along. I was 7 cm’s dilated, Sue said she'd stay (hurray!) and also informed me that my baby was back to back (oh no!). My world rocked around me. I- with my low pain tolerance- was calmly birthing at home with a back to back baby. Whoa. 

This explained the fast contractions vs slow progress, constant toilet trips and agonising lower back. I had a little panic but I gave myself a talking too. I reminded myself of the journey i’d taken, and the confident, calm mindset I had slowly pieced together for myself. I would just keep riding it. My baby was close now and there was no way I was going to hospital. I set my jaw, took a deep breath, and readied myself to carry on. 

My waters broke during this check and when the next surge came, it came like sudden thunder. I climbed back in the pool and what I now know as transition, hit. Really fucking hard. It took only one hour from the point my waters broke at 7cm to him coming out so it was fast, plus he came out facing the right way up which means he did all his turning in that last hour. Ouch. It felt like my pelvis was trying to break free of my spine. My breathy 'ahhh's became shouts and the surges were much longer too. I remember saying 'whoooaaaa' through one of them and asking 'what was THAT?!' afterwards. There wasn't time for an answer before another thunderous surge hit. I felt like I’d transported to another place, alone; it was frightening and actually quite trippy.  My body entirely took over. It raged and thundered, clenched and shuddered, screamed and roared. I panicked. I remembered some advice from a friend who wished she’d asked for gas and air at her home birth, and I promptly asked for it. (a detour from birth plan A). This helped me to stop the panic, control my breathing again and took the edge off the pain. I needed Dave to rub my back really hard, constantly. Lucy repeatedly placed a cool flannel on my face and neck, whilst Sue sat close, held my hand, and reminded me to relax my face and breathe. Lucy and Dave's hands on my body and Sue's voice pierced the fog to reach 'the place' I was in, in an eerily disembodied way. I remember saying to them 'don't stop!’I was so grateful for those gentle touches and words that led me back in the room, back to reality: I wasn't alone. I was loved and supported. I could do this. This was normal. Everything was ok.

I am still amazed at the unknown and involuntary strength I experienced in my own body. I suddenly began to bear down; the most overwhelming and powerful instinct. I didn't push at any point. My 'aahhh's were ending in low guttural growling sounds that emerged from a part of me I didn't know existed. I felt my baby slowly descend through my birth canal, crown and emerge. (I felt that! I mean, whoa!) When Sue told me to stop and breathe his head out, I was miraculously somehow able to stop that powerful bearing down instinct, and do it. It's one of the proudest, most defining moments of my life. My baby came out in two enormous surges whilst I was on my hands and knees in the water and I immediately turned, did a bit of birth pool gymnastics to disentangle his cord, and pulled him to my chest in disbelief. 

It was OVER! I DID IT! He was HERE! 

Dave was sobbing and utterly in awe. I was shaking and crying and babbling 'my baby, my baby, my baby!’ just like I greeted Frankie-Rose. To finally have my slippery wriggly squawking babe on my chest was so very sweet. He was here! He calmed immediately and lay on me with hisbeautiful dark eyes open; blinking and staring at his new world. (Here! He was here!)

If I was indeed somewhere else during that wild last hour, then I returned a different woman. I had managed to birth my baby at home, free from intervention. In those moments I was triumphant. Fearless. Free of demons.

Afterwards

After an hour and a half of fruitless pushing I opted to have the injection to birth my placenta which gave immediate relief. Lucy wrapped us up in blankets on the sofa and brought me tea and some fresh mango (divine!) whilst my baby- whom we later named Auden- and I breastfed and snuggled, and I basked in the glow of my newfound strength and the sweet relief of it being over. 

Frankie was heart-rendingly sweet when meeting her brother; 'Hi baby, this is your big sister. I talked to you in mummy's tummy!' It felt incredibly luxurious to climb into our freshly made bed with my whole family shortly afterwards where we just looked and looked at our baby. I remember us all wallowing in our duvet; me taking turns breathing each of my children in, in a decidedly feline way; body almost vibrating with oxytocin and love hormones. Blessedly, Lucy cleared up downstairs, put the pool away, prepared my placenta and brought us food- meaning our house felt peaceful, clean and tidy.  

Lots of people who have home births talk about feeling invincible afterwards but I didn't. I felt glowy, triumphant, relieved and so glad to hold my baby, but I was bone weary. My labour, by all accounts, was hard. I also initially felt disappointed about that last hour of my labour. I didn't expect it’s wildness or pain. I thought I had really lost control, but my team told me I held it together ‘beautifully' considering the back to back labour, and even smiled and laughed through some of the last surges too. They talked of feeling honoured to witness me, which stupefied me initially, how could THAT be an honour?! But I now see that it was. It just felt so much more intense, so much more animal, than I anticipated it would. 

It felt like I was somewhere else, maybe even someone else for that last hour, like I journeyed into some primal female place to bring forth my baby. I didn't know I could make noises that sounded like that, or that my body was capable of such involuntary strength. Now I've had time to debrief and process it all I actually feel honoured that I experienced it. Like my midwife later said, there is always an element of wildness, of loss of control in birthing, and that’s what makes birth the raw, beautiful, life changing thing that it is. I tapped into the same primal mammalian instinct that millions of women have tapped into before me. In my lack of control I was actually my strongest, my most profound womanly self. 

The day my second baby was born was the most surreal, exhausting, transcendent day of my life.

[This post was cross posted on Han's blog Seeds and Stitches, You can read more about her birth preparations and generally gorgeous life over there.]

Auden's birth story (part 1)

I am so excited to share this birth story with you all! One of my favourite parts of doing what I do, is being part of the journey. The Mums and Dads we work often arrive at their first class a little cynical, a little unsure if what we offer will really make a difference but excited to give it a go anyway. And genuinely they transform in front of our very eyes. They shift into parents who are confident, assured and oh so ready to own their births. It's an amazing privilege to be part of. Han and Dave exemplified this process beautifully, and as you read this (and Part 2 very soon) you'll see how their commitment to working on their mindset, to researching what would work best for them and to building such a kick arse team around them paid off hugely in Han getting the healing birth she needed, although not necessarily the one she expected but I'll leave that bit for her to tell you. (Ray)

"He was born amid a spring time storm with midwives and doula whiling past the still hours by the crackling fire and Dave supporting you as you moaned and hummed and worked"

Lucy, my wonderful doula.

Part 1: Preparation

I first gave birth 5 years ago; an experience that veered between not ideal and pretty damn traumatic, albeit with the sweetest ending.  The preeclampsia that had threatened since week 34 finally reared its ugly head at 37 weeks, along with puffer fish levels of swelling and a huge amount of protein in my urine, and I was induced. We were relatively informed about our options and felt like we advocated for ourselves pretty well given the knowledge we had at the time. But I found the induction unfathomably fast and frighteningly painful. My body went into shock I felt like a kitten drowning; feebly battling merciless waves of pain. My baby went into distress, the doctors lost her heartbeat, and she was dragged out of me in an emergency ventouse birth. My experience of this birth firmed up the belief I already held about myself; that I simply cannot cope with pain. That calm birthing is for other women, stronger women. Not me.  

I approached my second pregnancy cloaked in these beliefs; these demons, and with nightmares about drowning and blood and vomiting with shock. But I was determined that it would feel different. I rested and ate well. I chose 1:1 hypnobirthing sessions with Ray from Kent Hypnobirthing. I hired a doula called Lucy. I eyed my demons levelly. 

During our hypnobirthing classes we slowly pulled apart then pieced together our vision of what my birth could be; nothing short of revolutionary for us. We learned about the cocktail of hormones our bodies create to deal with the pain of labour and that by focussing on the positive birth I wanted rather than fearing the worst I could literally rewire my brain and body to manifest a better birth. I learned that no matter what the outcome I could feel calm and empowered. I learned I had a choice and could advocate for myself at every turn. I learned about the importance of keeping my neocortex, my thinking ‘monkey brain’, busy with breathing techniques in order to allow my body to do it’s thing, unhindered. I learned how relaxing and breathing into contractions rather than clenching my body against them made them less painful. In essence, I learned about the myriad ways our bodies are beautifully made for birth. 

With Lucy, my doula, we covered similar ground as above, but I also cautiously unfurled my fears about birth and motherhood. Over cups of tea, dark chocolate and dates, and often by a crackling fire, I pinned these fears down and we turned them this way and that and picked them apart. They buckled under our scrutiny. I aired my demons about my pain tolerance and my beliefs that calm empowered birthing just wasn't for me. Our conversation strayed beyond the imminent birth and into the wider, sometimes harder areas of marriage and parenting. I processed and processed and processed some more, in a space Lucy held beautifully open for me. Then we banished those fears and demons and I began to feel confident my bodies capability to birth. 

Sue, my midwife, never wavered in her belief in my strength. That in itself meant our appointments left me feeling light as a feather, and confident in my body. I couldn't have wished for a better medical ally in the quiet calm birth I wanted.

At my blessingway, my friends tied red wool around their wrists; and then around mine. We spoke aloud the names of our mothers and grandmothers; allowing me to symbolically claim theirs and their mothers and grandmothers strength and wisdom as I approached birth. I felt held and loved by these women and found myself touching the red bands frequently through my pregnancy, birth and very wobbly first week.

And I wrestled with where I wanted to birth this baby. I initially thought I'd choose a birth centre birth. I have a small house with nosy neighbours and thin walls and I was worried I wouldn't feel comfortable enough at home. I lose my shit when I stub my toe and generally consider myself someone with a low pain threshold and I found the pain of my first labour intolerable. But after studying all the options, the compass stubbornly fell to home-birth, every time.  I can’t overstate what a huge deal this was for me, taking away the epidural I so sorely needed last time. But birthing at home simply gave me the best chance of having the positive birth I wanted. It's where oxytocin would flow most freely; it's where I'd feel my most relaxed and calm, it would be comforting and familiar. I wouldn’t need to worry about transferring. I'd have total control over my environment, and I knew I'd feel more confident advocating for my birth choices on my ‘turf’. It would be the closest I could get to creating the private dark cave I found I craved.

I now remember the last days and weeks of my pregnancy as a dream like sensory blur; the smell of wood smoke, clary sage and lavender. The feel of wet sand and mud under foot. The sound of my Calm Birth School affirmations mixed with the whistle of the wind whipping through the trees and over the pebbles of the beach. The warm hands of my husband, gently easing the aches in my back. Flickering candle light by the baths I shared with my daughter. 

My birth nightmares turned into dreams that made me smile when I woke up. I felt ready.

In order to avoid hospital monitoring and a potential chemical induction down the line, I had a cervical sweep at 41+6 days which Sue said she would do in my home. After the horror of vaginal examinations last time I was a little worried, but there is a vast difference when you're in your own home with someone you know and trust. It barely hurt. Sue said I was 2 cm dilated, that my babies head was low, but that he had changed sides to his back being on my right side, rather than left. This was a precursor for what was to come, he continued turning and was (unbeknownst to me) ‘back to back’, something that often makes birthing harder and more painful. 

Laboury feelings began stirring in my womb within a few hours; a definite notch up from the mild period pains I had been experiencing for the previous 3 weeks. We had a chippy tea and Prosecco with my family who live next door, during which I was having regular but mild surges. I was relaxed, calm, and quietly excited. It felt wonderful to be doing something normal with my family, yet simultaneously experiencing my body begin this incredibly miraculous journey to birth. I knew with certainty that I would meet my baby very, very soon. 

Part two to come soon!

 

[This post was cross posted on Han's blog Seeds and Stitches, You can read more about her birth preparations and generally gorgeous life over there.]

Look after your precious bits! How to protect your perineum during birth.

Words and video by Sophie

One thing that I have found with every class I teach is that many women are worried about tearing or damage to their perineum. They worry so much about the horror stories that they hear.

They may also have had a previous birth which resulted in a tear and then the fears leave the realms of theory.

Another huge influence are how Film and Television mould women's expectations of how birth will be.

Many a birth on the big screen or TV show women as passive, scared women who are being directed by the birthing attendants when really it is (or should) be the other way round.

A birthing woman's instinct is so powerful and should be honoured. You as a birthing woman should also honour the power in it, the power in you.

With this fear in mind and to show you how I overcame it and learned ways to lower my chances of tearing with the help of hypnobirthing (and along the way also found a huge trust and love in the ability of my body) I have made you this video.

 

I hope that shows you that your body is amazing and that you can do really simple things to ensure that you are much less likely to have a tear.

Remember that you are amazing (believe it!). For way more tips, blogs and videos join our Facebook group Calm Birth Kent; birth, breastfeeding and beyond.

Hypnobirthing: A Dad's perspective.

I'm so, so happy to be sharing these stories from two of the (many) wonderful Dads I have worked with. So many of the Dads we work with arrive to our classes a little unsure of what they're in for. Many of them are very open to doing whatever their partner's feel will be helpful for them but few realise how much they will get out of the classes themselves. Both as birth partners, fathers and beyond. I always joke that I see their body language change within the first hour of the first class. It's one of my favourite bits. 

Will's Story

Sarah, Will and Oak.jpg

"The best thing...that it made Sarah and I closer. We now talk and touch more than we used to. Which is really helpful to Sarah and makes me feel like a better Husband, which is really empowering."

Hypnobirthing is a mixture of pregnancy and labour education, self-hypnosis, relaxation techniques and empowerment. This is what Sarah and I chose as the course to do. We went with Kent Hypnobirthing which is run by an awesome mother called Ray.

A quick disclaimer, hypnosis is not the bullshit you see on television where someone waves a watch in front of your face or makes you fall asleep. It is about taking relaxation and breathing to a new level, relaxing to the point where the mind becomes susceptible to suggestion, which is why it is so good at helping reduce pain in labour. Its also why you as the Husband or partner are so important as your voice will be something that help ground your Wife or partner during intense moments in labour.

After the first scan, we went to ‘The Yard’ in Faversham for lunch (which is flipping fantastic by the way). Just before we left, Sarah went to the loo and picked up a card for hypnobirthing from the wall. I can’t remember of it was for Kent Hypnobirthing or not but Sarah had heard of hypnobirthing before and she start doing her research. {Edit from Ray - it was one of our flyers]

We found out that Kent Hypnobirthing was putting on a taster session at Macknade Fine Foods near Faversham (It’s a farm shop and a dream come true for anyone that likes fruit and veg). So we booked up. We met three other couples and it lasted roughly three to four hours. In that time I learnt more about pregnancy and labour than I ever thought possible. It was brilliant. We signed up to the full two day course then and there without hesitation.

In the full course (which was approximately 16 hours) we looked at Labour in other mammals and why as humans we have taken something natural and wonderful and turned it into something cold and alien. We looked at the history of home birthing. Some basic science behind labour. We learnt relaxation techniques, self-hypnosis, breathing techniques, building birth plans, and instilled positivist at every turn. We also had a laugh as well.

I could not recommend Hypnobirthing more highly to any couple. Even if you are having your baby in a hospital. Hypnobirthing helps you learn that even if your birth does not follow your birth plan, it is still the outcome that is important and reaching that outcome is the goal no matter what hoops you end up jumping through to get there. If there is a hypnobirthing course near you and you can afford to do it. Don’t hesitate, you won’t be disappointed. And at the very least, get in contact with the person who runs the course as they may be able to at the very least give you some advice.

The best thing about the course was that it made Sarah and I closer. We now talk and touch more than we used to. Which is really helpful to Sarah and makes me feel like a better Husband which is really empowering.

{taken from a full blog post of Will's on his Foward Thinking Fatherhood Blog - check the rest here}

Jon's Story

 

"As I relaxed I began to ask questions. I began to feel empowered. I began to feel empathy with my wife. Most importantly I began to feel in control"

Initially when the idea of hypnobirthing was proposed by my wife it was just one of many ‘alternative’ suggestions that we were discussing prior to the birth. I must admit that I agreed to attend the sessions without really having much idea as to what they entailed. I reckoned that if my wife thought she needed them then we would have to do them and as a supportive partner I would go to the sessions and nod in the appropriate places and make the right noises when required.

My preconceptions were that this ‘hypnobirthing’ was some ‘new-age’ gimmick that could never really replace the service we had previously be given through the ‘good old’ NHS, which I had used for the birth of my first two children. Looking back now it is abundantly clear how different both methods are and how unaware we were as a couple of how much control and say in the birth we actually had. The continuing mantra and theme for me was ‘question everything’, even information and advice coming from the most eminent medical professional. More of this later.

The sessions were relaxed and informal and I was quickly put at ease. As a ‘typical’ male I had previously tended to purposely avoid any of the more detailed medical procedures and shied away from graphic footage of childbirth, keeping my questions to myself, happy in blissful ignorance – knowing that some professional would be on hand to take the pressure off me and all I would have to do was squeeze the wife’s hand and say the right things.

As I relaxed I began to ask questions. I began to feel empowered. I began to feel empathy with my wife. Most importantly I began to feel in control. I had based all my prior experience of childbirth on ‘those’ TV programmes, the fly on the wall documentaries and the inevitable gritty dramas. My own previous experiences reflected these ‘grim’ media images in some perverse self-fulfilling prophecy.

I found however that after just one session, I was being given the tools to tear down these misconceptions and that I actually had an important and proactive role to play in the birthing process. I realised just how negative the previous ante-natal classes had been – focusing on pain relief (and overusing the word ‘pain’), risk assessments (in a very risk averse way) and often side-lining the role of the partner as just a friendly face for mum to be in the room and nothing more.

With hypnobirthing I would became a proactive and questioning advocate for my wife, acting as a conduit between her and medical staff. We wrote a birthing plan and gave it to the midwives when the birthing process began. We stuck to the plan – even when challenged by staff. It worked!!! We were in control. I wanted to learn what was going on because I wanted to take an active part in the birth of my child. I did not want to be just a helpless punch bag or a hand to squeeze again – like my experiences before. `

We wanted to enjoy the birth. It’s a natural thing. It’s not a medical emergency, the body is designed to do this. So get involved. Learn. Be positive. Create a calming atmosphere. Have fun writing your birth plan together. Don’t assume that the midwives always know best. Question their advice, refer their comments to your partner but remember Mum knows best. She knows what she needs. Be guided by her and the rhythm of her body and your baby. If there is medical emergency the right people are there to help. She will tell you if this happens.

Forget about what you think you know about childbirth. Clear your mind and start again. Forget pain and negativity and embrace calmness and positivity.

The birth? It was fantastic. I actually had that ‘life changing experience’ that I had missed on the two previous occasions. I was able to live and absorb that moment and welcome my son onto the planet with all my senses and faculties intact.

Thank you

 

If you or your partner are unsure about what hypnobirthing is all about and what classes with us entail then you can find out more at our monthly Introduction to Hypnobirthing Workshops or why not just go ahead and book a full course with us. It will be one of the best investments you will ever make, not just in your birth but in yourselves too. 

What motherhood means to me...

For Mother's Day, we three Kent Hypnobirthing ladies wanted to write a little bit about what motherhood means to us. For each of us it has challenged and transformed us. It's pretty amazing to really reflect and take stock of the affect becoming and being mothers has had on our existence...

Sophie

"Seeing myself through his eyes, how important and special I was to him, made me feel differently about myself. Made me love myself."

I come from a very large and loving family and I always wanted to be a mother at some stage in my life but I was taken by surprise to become a mother so early in my life. What took me by surprise even more though was how differently I felt in the first few months. My first period of motherhood was not what I had expected and sometimes very lonely. 

I knew no other mums but did not go and seek any out. If I am honest I really had trouble accepting the changes to my body that motherhood had bought. Because I isolated myself I convinced myself that no one would want to be friends with this new me.  Then things changed as I watched my son grow and the more I fell in love with him I discovered a new type of love. One so far beyond anything I had ever experienced and one I find it hard to explain to others. 
Simply put I loved him more than myself but it was so much more than that. Seeing myself through his eyes, how important and special I was to him made me feel differently about myself. Made me love myself. How much depth and meaning he bought to my life. 

I started to seek out likeminded friends and realised I had many of them right under my nose and more I then met through them. Then when I experienced the beautiful birth of my daughter a whole new level of self love kicked off (yes I still have my insecurities and down days but now I have a kick ass group of Mamas who build me up again). 

Motherhood has changed me in so many ways. Yes I am tired all the time (zzz) and yes sometimes I am not as patient as I would like, and yes my boobs will never be the same (ha!) But when I sit in my living room watching my son and daughter make each other laugh uncontrollably I am so happy and proud of them. I do a job I LOVE and one I didn't even know about before I became a mother in a world I barely considered before entering it. I am a whole new person now for being a mother but I am so happy that I am, and am excited to see where the rest of motherhood will take me x

 

Christy

"I have my children to thank for that, for the improved version of me and for the vivid, loud, crazy life I have now."

Motherhood for me is a journey of intensity. From the moment they were born, life comes into sharp relief and magnifies in intensity in every form. Intense love, intense (and fierce) protectiveness, intense hormones, frustrations and irritations, intense down days and intense flying sky high days. My life before my children, although a mere 5 years ago, has paled into the past and the person I was is gone and the person I am now is transformed, almost unrecognisable but better, more comfortable, secure and well, more me. I have my children to thank for that, for the improved version of me and for the vivid, loud, crazy life I have now. My children are my world, and it is a more colourful, intense and loving place because of them.

 

Ray

"We each achieve amazing things every day. I see you all, going about your day, casually raising the future. And you astound me."

My own mum was a real example of maternal loveliness. Our house was the house that everyone went to (so much so that a friend of my brother's was given a map to his own house as a birthday present from his parents - just to make sure he knew that he didn't actually live at our house). Motherhood to me meant caring for people, looking after them, welcoming them and listening to them.

In my 20s I really believed Motherhood would be my saviour. I'd never found a job I'd liked and I idealised motherhood as my eventual vocation, I longed to be a stay at home mum caring for my kids (it was all very Pinterest in my head). When I became a mum it both exceeded and utterly dashed my expectations. As much as motherhood is about being a mum to my boys, it has become much more than that. After having Stanley (my first little boy) I felt very under supported. I'd done my research, I thought I knew what I was heading for but I found myself recovering from a birth I'd felt very out of control of, struggling with breastfeeding (who said it was the most natural thing in the world??). I'd made some lovely friends at my antenatal classes and they were really my saviour. But other than them I felt utterly shattered. I felt like the person I had been was gone, but a new me emerged. And I like her even more.

As I pieced myself back together I started to discover that I was not alone in feeling this way, that culturally we don't support new mothers (we question their babies, their choices and their bodies). I found myself volunteering with and then working with these mothers. I also found myself growing the most amazing group of friends - all of whom are the most supportive mothers I've ever encountered. And so Motherhood has come to mean Mothers to me, in all our varied glory. Supporting them and being supported by them. I'm astounded daily by what Mothers are capable of: from birth to caring for our children. We each achieve amazing things every day. I see you all, going about your day, casually raising the future. And you astound me.

We'd love to hear more about what motherhood means to you, let us know in the comments below or on our facebook page .  We'd like to wish you you all a very special Mother's day. x

Lets talk about birth baby!

Words by Sophie

The more I am around women growing and birthing their babies the more I see that we are being let down by how little we speak about the reality of birth. Women are fearful surrounded by the fantasy birth of the TV and Cinema screen. Scary and worrying birth tales from One born every minute and the only stories about birth in the news are terrifying accounts of things that go very wrong (news flash: the news is pretty much always negative!) 

The crux of this situation is that in reality birth is pretty boring to watch (unless you are a birth geek like me!) To make it more ‘entertaining’ films and TV depict birth as dramatic and often featuring a very passive birthing woman giving herself over to the power of doctors. 

Simply put it makes more entertaining watching but sadly adds to the negative rep of birth. The images depicted show women unable to birth without help and sadly this is the view (myself included first time round) that many women enter pregnancy with.

We have forgotten how we got to this point in the first place. We think birth is unsafe and dangerous when it is actually the safest it has ever been. If we do know this then we think it is because we have doctors who can jump in, intervene and save us from our failing bodies. We do not see the reality: that simply we are healthier because we are cleaner, eat healthier food and understand what our bodies need. 

The statistics show that 90-95% of women should be able to give birth without intervention but in this country the C-section rate alone is 25-30% on average. Most women have some form of unnecessary intervention whether it is a sweep when you reach your due date (guess date) or synthetic oxytocin to speed up labour to fit the time frame humans have forced upon the natural act of birth.  

Do we try to control the tidal pull, the stages of the moon , when the sun rises and sets? Why then are we trying to control an equally natural event? Do you see how ridiculous that is?

We do not know that we only started to birth in hospital because of the introduction of anaesthetic. We assume we have to go there because birth is dangerous so it is only safe in hospital. What we do not know is that you can actually have safe and wonderful birth at home, in a Midwife led unit, birth centre and hospital. (Birth Place Study 2011) The important thing is to choose where feels right for you. 

We do not see that we are being let down by the overuse of the very things introduced to save lives. Why can we not save these interventions for the small percentage of women who need extra help? This fear of birth even extends to some of our caregivers making it harder for them to relax and allow birth to happen. 

We do not know that we are only encouraged to lie on our backs, which in fact works against gravity and in most cases our own anatomy, because of a male doctor who realised it was easier and less demeaning for him when attending women in labour. 

The reality is that birth can be, and should be wonderful. Birth is a normal, natural event and for most women it can be just that. The extra medical help available is wonderful has helped make it safe for the 10-5%. For those women who do need it, or choose it,  make sure you know that all birth is birth and nobody fails. 

Women are incredible and so well designed to grow, birth and nurture babies. We need to talk about birth, every single aspect of the amazing act. We need to start doing this for our daughters and sons, this will be one of the best things you can do for them. Open your eyes to the positive birth world, it is huge and is growing. Open the doors to birth again, do not hide it from your children, siblings and friends. 

The first time I was pregnant I had no idea that I would birth my placenta after my baby, that my milk would take a few days to flow and that the natural flow of birth is still ok and normal even if it happens outside of the order humans have given it. I was frightened and did not have a clue what I needed on this journey. The wish that I had somehow had my eyes opened before will stay with me for the rest of my life. 

This is why I am so honoured to be a Hypnobirthing teacher. The women I teach are the same, they are amazed as I tell them all the wonderful things their bodies can and are doing. They leave after feeling more confident in themselves and I can’t help but think if only this was started earlier in our lives what huge difference this would make to humanity, the view of birth and how women feel about their bodies. Not something to be explained and controlled but something to be accepted, respected and honoured.

If you want to spend the remainder of your pregnancy surrounding yourself with women who talk openly and honestly about birth you are very welcome to join our closed Facebook group Calm Birth Kent: Birth, Breastfeeding and Beyond. You'll find more empowering and truth telling posts from us there.