Different ways to create a positive birth mindset in pregnancy

When I first started preparing for Charlottes birth.. I never really understood why this mattered.

Until I understood what a difference our mind has on the rest of our body.

Our mind is an incredibly powerful thing and when I started to unpick a lot of my fears about birth – they had come from a place of watching too much rubbish tv or other people talking about birth in a negative way around me as a kid.

So when I fell pregnant.. I knew I had work to do.

To overcome a lot of these deeply imbedded anxieties that I’d built up for as long as I could remember.

Creating a positive mindset for birth is very individual… some people already might have some great foundations in place (this is how it absolutely should be!) and some people like me need to explore and find a variety of tools to help build up confidence (you are not alone if this is the way you feel).

As part of my hypnobirthing and antenatal courses, we explore a variety of topics which help you to start to build up that positive mindset.

That might be through understanding how birth works. Or connecting with your birth partner. Or in the case of hypnobirthing, it might be developing a variety of tools that help you to feel calm and in control.

Connecting all of these dots together for many people can make a HUGE difference in their mindset, because it proves to them that they do have more control than what they originally thought.

Here are just a few ways that you can start to build up that positive mindset ready to give birth to your baby –

Working with a birth partner – Chat with your birth partner about what’s important to you when it comes to preparing for birth, tell them how they can best support you to start to build up your birth toolkit

Affirmations – Affirmations are a really quick and easy way to start to build up a positive mindset. Writing a statement in the present tense about pregnancy or birth and reading it every day will start to have a positive impact on your subconscious . Even if you don’t believe the statement to begin with, its a really great way to start to build up a practice.

Reading positive birth stories – This might be one that you want to do straight away or leave until your later on in your pregnancy, reading about different types of birth in a positive way will prove to you that you too can absolutely do it!

Visualisation – Thinking about birth in a positive way, visualising what it might look like can help you to reframe your mind. It’s a bit like playing out what it might be like to walk into an interview, its helping your mind to mentally prepare (there are loads of ways to use visualisation, this tends to be a favourite amongst my clients).

Protecting your space – Out of all of them, I’d probably say that this is the most important. Being mindful of other people in your space and what they are talking about when it comes to your birth can be really important (and hard). I often had people coming up to me trying to tell me their horror stories about birth or trying to tell me what I needed to do during labour and eventually I learned to either switch off from it ask people to change the subject. This way, I could protect my space and focus on birth preparation that made me happy!

What’s it like to have a caesarean after a vaginal birth? 

This is probably one of the questions I get asked the most, not only by clients but from other birth workers and even my family and friends! 

I guess for many people, they might experience one or the other (don’t forget that vaginal birth is absolutely possible after an abdominal birth!). 

So what did I find from both of my birth experiences? 

Before the birth 

In terms of preparation, both of my children were born prematurely so I hadn’t really fully gotten things ready at home and it also meant that I did end up having conversations with obstetrics (only as my waters broke with Charlotte but of course at length with Williams birth due to my diagnosis of ICP / requesting a caesarean. 

I had been incredibly focused on my hypnobirthing techniques and had written my birth plans and I was incredibly focused on staying within my zone when it came to both of my babies – their labours started in exactly the same way and whilst Charlotte’s labour progressed, I became quite unwell with a gallstone attack (this was undiagnosed at the time) and therefore I found that I really needed to prepare for Williams birth in a completely different way.

With a vaginal birth, it almost felt like completely letting go whereas with a caesarean – the build up felt the opposite. I was wanting to chat through my options and whilst I felt it important to stay in my zone – I almost wanted the distraction of talking to friends, family and my doula whilst I waited to go down to the theatre. 

The Birth 

I loved labour, I felt incredibly in tune with my body and I very much felt the same during William’s birth too – I felt incredibly connected to my babies and really tuned into my instincts to help lead me to do what I felt was right. 

Charlotte was born in a hospital and whilst the room had quite a medicalised look and feel – I was able to switch my mind off and stay focused on being in my birthing zone and this was still so important for me when it came to Williams birth – I’d never been in a theatre before and I was determined that whilst having a spinal block I stay focused, whilst preparing for the caesarean to start, there was a moment where I felt a little out of control and my breathing and visualisation helped me just as powerfully as it had done during Charlotte’s vaginal birth. 

Craig, my husband, played a huge role in the births of both of our children – he was my primary focus just as both of our babies were born. We worked as a team and whilst there were more checks done on William after his birth – we were very quickly able to create our little nook. 

The one thing I would say about having a caesarean was that I did feel quite frustrated that I just wanted to move my arms and hold my baby easily – I totally got and understood why it was harder.. I’d just say it probably was one of the things that I found the hardest having experienced so much freedom to move about when Charlotte was born. Again, just focusing on cuddling William and being with Craig really made all the difference. 

The Postpartum Period 

This is the area that I get asked about the most – what’s it like to recover from a caesarean compared to a vaginal birth. 

One thing I need to say is that the circumstances around my second birth were very different compared to my first, I was suffering with undiagnosed gallstones which had resulted in multiple organ issues so I did end up having 2 surgeries within 6 weeks of William’s birth which did mean my recovery probably felt quite different…

This might sound weird but there were elements I felt so much happier with when it came to caesarean birth recovery – life was slower, I spent more time resting and relaxing in skin to skin with William in bed. I felt nurtured and held by my midwives, doula, Craig and family and friends – I genuinely believe that this slower period helped me to recover both physically and mentally from a very challenging 2 months. 

The recovery from the caesarean birth wasn’t actually as scary as what I thought it would be. At first standing up and walking around felty quite daunting, yet I very quickly gained my confidence – I get why people said it was important to walk about as soon as I was able, it really helped me build my confidence up straight away. 

Charlotte’s birth was a physiological vaginal birth with a few small stitches, I’ve got to admit, being a first time mum it was more the anxiety of not knowing what was normal which I found quite difficult (again, this did impact me a little bit after a caesarean with my 2nd birth as it was my first experience!).

Overall, both of my experiences were really positive with my taking care of my stitches, listening to my body and seeking out advice from my GP and midwives if I needed reassurance.

My biggest tips from experiencing both types of birth 

Have an action plan on how you can use your hypnobirthing anchors for different birthing scenarios.

Chat with your birth partner and midwife about your birth preferences and the ways you want them to support you. 

Have a bit of a plan for the postpartum period and consider what your recovery might look like and how to reach out to others.

Remember that your breathing techniques really are the best tool in all types of birth

You are very much in the driver’s seat regardless of the type of birth – everything is always your choice.

A First Time Mum Home Birth Story – The Birth of Eloise Grace

Eloise Grace
Known girl
7lbs13
FTM
41+2
EDD 9.2.21
Born 18.2.21

I was feeling so fed up of being pregnant in the final couple of weeks. Everybody had been telling me that they were convinced Eloise would arrive early and so for the final few weeks, I was waking every day expecting that day to be the day.
Just like her mum, she was keeping her own schedule, though and it wasn’t until I was 8 days past my EDD that my waters finally started to break.

I had sought reassurance from my hypnobirthing teacher (Laura) and the Leeds Home Birthing group about how safe I was to decline a sweep and induction after having my 41 week appointment on Wednesday 17th Feb. My confidence in standing my ground had started to waiver, but Laura and the group’s support renewed it and I felt happy to continue to refuse both. That evening, at about 10.30pm, as I was bouncing about on my birthing ball and watching Kingdom with my husband, I felt a little trickle. I went to the toilet and saw a very pale pinkish liquid in my pad and went downstairs to tell my husband that I thought my waters had started to go. The trickling kept coming for ten minutes and we called the home birth phone. They dispatched a midwife to come and check if it was my waters and she recommended I have a speculum VE to check as the majority of the trickle had soaked away into my pad. I accepted this and she confirmed it. She then told me that if I had not gone into labour naturally within 24 hours, my infection risk would be increased and they would recommend I come into hospital for induction. She then went on to do my observations, but didn’t have a BP cuff to fit my (incredibly swollen and already substantial) arm and she was concerned about my BP, so advised me to go to MAC to have my BP taken on one of their machines. In hindsight, I don’t think I needed to do this. I had had my BP taken earlier that day at my midwife appt and it was fine. Plus, I knew I was fine. My temp was normal and I felt perfectly alright. The powerful thing about taking Laura’s hypnobirthing course was feeling confident in trusting my own instincts. My husband and I got into the car with all of my things (just in case) and drove to MAC, where it turned out they had no idea I was coming and didn’t understand why I had been asked to come for no reason other than to have my BP taken. Anyway, all was fine and I was sent home and at 2.30am, I was finally able to climb into bed.

During the night, I slept through continuous period sort pains. I have never been the type to have back ache period pains, it’s always been lower abdominal pain for me and that is what this was. They were perfectly manageable and I slept well. When I did wake, I practised hypnobirthing up breathing, whilst squeezing the lavender bag I was given in my hypnobirthing pack to settle me again. In the morning, I woke up and got dressed and decided to keep myself as calm and relaxed as possible to try and encourage my body to go into labour. I drew on what I had learned throughout my hypnobirthing course so often and it kept me really calm. I sought further reassurance from Laura and the Leeds Home Birthing group on Facebook that I was OK to monitor myself for signs of infection rather than following the recommendation to go into hospital if I hadn’t gone into labour naturally in 24 hours. They were amazing again and I felt confident that as long as I felt ok and had no temperature and baby’s movements were still normal, I would be fine. I didn’t realise that labour had already started. I pottered about doing little jobs as my husband worked from home and in between jobs, I bounced on my ball with my AirPods in listening to Shagged Married Annoyed and my labour playlist (which mostly consisted of 50 Cent, Drake and old school Twista and Kanye rather than relaxations because that’s just my jam 

). As I bounced, I lent on the back of the sofa and rode the waves of the surges (which I still didn’t realise were actually contractions and that labour was progressing) by breathing, keeping my eyes shut and thinking happy thoughts. I danced about a lot on my ball and I felt so happy and calm and relaxed all day with my husband working behind me. He kept bringing me tea, juice and chocolate and rubbing my back and shoulders.

At 5pm, my husband went to take the dog out and as he was out, I felt the surges ramp up a notch. They became significantly more intense and that’s when I realised I should probably start timing my contractions to see if there was a chance I was actually in labour after all. Clueless FTM and all that. I realised pretty quickly that I was in fact having contractions that were about 2 minutes apart lasting for around 45-50 seconds each. I cracked on with folding the washing, breathing through them until Dale (husband) got home again. When he did (at about 6pm), he called the midwives and they said they would be with us ASAP.

Dale went upstairs and ran me a bath at this point and I tried to focus on keeping my breathing controlled and slow. I remember having a few panicked moments thinking ‘how long is this going to go on?’ And ‘how much can I take?’. Dale was so reassuring, though, and he got me through all the wobbles by reminding me to practise my up-breathing and think of meeting our baby girl. I got into the bath and what I thought was my plug came away. It was floating about and I had a bit of a laugh watching Dale try to fish it out. It was sliding all over the place and reminded me of Flubber. I had to get out of the bath after 15 minutes or so because even though the water felt lovely, I couldn’t get comfortable in it. I’m not a small person and the bath is not a big bath. The only position I could be in and be submerged was by laying on my back and it wasn’t nice. Dale helped me out and got me wrapped up in a dressing gown and I decided I wanted to go to bed. I climbed in, covered in lots of fleecy blankets and it was absolute bliss for about 2 minutes, until a surge hit. I couldn’t stay laying down and I had to get up. I did struggle to remember my breathing a bit at this stage and Dale had to keep bringing me back to the Freya app to count me through the surges, especially as they intensified. I wanted to move about. I think I was trying to get away from the intensity of it. Dale got me set up with the TENS machine to help with the discomfort and I found it such a relief. I started on a relatively low setting, but turned it up with pretty much every surge.

I went downstairs and decided to get back on my birthing ball. We had the living room covered in fairy lights and Dale had lit all of the candles. When I had my home birth assessment, the midwife I spoke to said I wouldn’t be able to have candles once they arrived because they carry canisters of gas, but they never ended up being blown out, which is nice. I kept switching between bouncing, rocking, standing, pacing and leaning on the back of the sofa for the next while, until the midwife and a student arrived at around 7.30pm. I remember telling them I didn’t think I was coping very well and I think it was at that point that Dale went to get me 2 codeine from the prescription he had collected for me a few weeks beforehand. The midwife also asked if I would like her to order me some gas and air to be delivered by the hospital, which I accepted. She took my birth plan and offered me a VE, which I declined. I wasn’t interested in knowing how dilated I was and I didn’t want to increase infection risk. Again, thanks to Laura, I felt confident and happy to decline as I knew it was the right thing for me. I remember the midwife saying something about it being quite possible that I wasn’t yet in established labour and that they might leave for a few hours and come back later. I remember thinking ‘Jesus Christ, if this isn’t established labour, I do not know how much more I can take’. It was, though. Very much so. I think the midwife quickly realised that from my behaviour and without the need for a VE because they never left and they got everything set up in the corner as I carried on bouncing on my ball and pacing.

My husband went off and decided to make himself something to eat and even though I can laugh about this now, I wanted to kill him in the moment! He made himself the quickest meal he could find, which just happened to be crab and prawn ravioli (!!?!?) with a garlicky tomato sauce. I was labouring right next to the kitchen and it absolutely STANK. He was flapping about trying to shovel it in as quickly as possible and keep the smell away from me and I was heaving into a washing up bowl. Luckily I wasn’t actually sick, I just felt it. As soon as he had finished, he ran upstairs to brush his teeth so that I could stand to have him near me again.

The next part is blurry and I can’t remember which bit happened first; the bloody show, or being encouraged to go to the toilet. I know that I stood up and was pacing at one point and that the midwife looked at me and said she needed to check me. I looked down and saw that I had soaked right through my pad and into my knickers with blood. She helped me to take down my knickers and there was what looked to me like a huge amount of blood. It was mucus like and clotty. I panicked and asked if we needed an ambulance. The midwife was definitely hedging her bets a bit as she checked it because it really was a lot, but she confirmed pretty quickly that she was happy that it was just my bloody show. I hadn’t expected it to be as much, or as bloody as it was and I did take some reassuring. When she encouraged me to go to the toilet to try and have a wee, I remember feeling irrationally furious that we had moved house just before Christmas from a house with a downstairs loo to a renovation project with just the one toilet upstairs. I huffed and stomped upstairs whilst also still trying to breathe my way through the surges and hanging onto Dale.

Afterwards, I came downstairs and started to feel the uncontrollable need to push at around 10.15pm. I was really baring down. The urge just completely took over me with each surge. This was definitely transition and it made my surges much more bearable as the break in between them was an actual break, whereas the surges I had been experiencing beforehand had been pretty much constant, with no break. The midwife recognised the change in me and sent my husband upstairs to get the shower curtain and all of the towels we had stored for the birth. They set about covering the floor below where I was standing and once they had done that, I felt my legs beginning to buckle. I asked for help to get down onto my knees and I found myself leaning with my arms on the seat of one of the dining chairs and hanging onto the leg of the dining table as I kept breathing my way through. It wasn’t until this point that the gas and air arrived in a taxi. They set it up for me immediately and I was so grateful for it. It really helped me to refocus and calm my breathing and I loved chewing on the mouth piece. I struggled with the midwife being around me and trying to put the Doppler on me to check baby’s heartbeat because it made me really anxious if she didn’t find it straight away. I just wanted to get on with it. I kept asking for reassurance during this final hour that baby would arrive soon and the midwife told me quite confidently at about 10.50pm that she was sure the baby would be born within the next half an hour.

Around this time, the second midwife arrived along with another student. They asked if I minded and I genuinely didn’t. I found it quite amusing that there were 6 of us and a dog in my tiny living room. I felt a lot of relief with the urge to push. I didn’t feel much of a ring of fire. One thing I did find quite painful (no other word for it) was when baby moved back up the birth canal after a surge and then the initial moment when she moved back down at the start of the next surge. That made a sharp ache in my lower abdomen that I didn’t enjoy. Eventually, she stopped moving back up and down again and I could feel her properly descending. The midwife and Dale kept chatting about how much hair she had and it felt exciting that she was so close to being with us. As I was pushing, I was making very loud and guttural noises. In my haze between surges, I kept thinking about our next door neighbours and what it must sound like to them. They knew I was having a home birth, so it won’t have been a surprise, but I chatted to one of them the next day and she said her young teenage daughter was ‘quite surprised’, which made me laugh. The poor girl! After I had pushed out the head and the surge had subsided, the midwife asked me to spread my knees more to open my pelvis and allow for the body to be born in the next surge, but before she could properly finish her sentence, the body was born. She just slid out, almost cartwheeling with her hand over her face and I bent down and caught her. That moment was totally surreal. It was 11.17pm.

I sat back on my heels holding her and I declined the placenta injection, opting to wait for it to come naturally. We did delayed cord clamping and I was having my placenta encapsulated. Around 10 minutes after, my placenta came away painlessly and the midwives took care of it after the cord had turned white. I moved onto the sofa for the midwife to check for any damage and to have skin to skin and try to feed for the first time. I remember being quite shocked by the sensation of suckling at first. I had a minor tear that required a couple of stitches. The midwife handed me the gas and air again and stitched me up on the sofa and my dog Joey didn’t leave my side. He was fascinated by our little girl and his new little sister, Eloise Grace.

Scales were sent in another taxi and the midwives weighed Eloise. She was 7lbs 13 and perfect. The second midwife and student left after I had been stitched up and they were happy all was ok. Before leaving, both told me it was the first home birth they had attended and that it had been a privilege to see and the kind of birth that made them really remember why they did the job, which I found so touching. The first midwife and student stayed for another hour or so to do observations and sat chatting, having biscuits and tea with us as I ate toast. They did say that as it had been almost 25 hours from my waters breaking to Eloise’s birth, they would recommend we both be transferred to hospital for monitoring. I declined because I felt fine and both Dale and I agreed that Eloise seemed perfectly fine, too. When they left, Dale and I made our way upstairs and I showered, whilst Dale settled Eloise. We got into bed and stayed in our little baby bubble till morning.

Where is the best place for me to give birth if I live Leeds?

As soon as you fall pregnant and you make that first appointment with the midwife, its often a bit of a surprise to be asked where you would like to give birth to your baby! You’ve only just found out you’re pregnant and particularly if its your first baby, it might not have been something you’ve even considered yet.

Many of the hospital trusts are now offering a self referral option so do take a look at individual hospital websites for ways to do this too. Rest assured – you can always change your mind later. In order for the NHS teams to be able to work out how many babies are being born around the same time in their area, they like to be able to work this out in advance! It’s also good for them to be able to direct you to the right area when it comes to you care.

If you’re having a baby in Leeds there are a lot of options available when it comes to different labour wards and birthing centres.

Hospitals and Labour Wards in Leeds

Hospitals are where labour wards or obstetric wards are based within hospitals and are where the vast majority of babies are born in the UK. There is access to all methods of pain relief, obstetric teams and this is were all assisted births and caesareans take place.

LGI – Leeds General Infirmary (Leeds City Centre)

LGI is one of the biggest hospitals in the Yorkshire area and is often the recommended hospital for specialised maternity care should you or your baby need additional support from a variety of specialists (your midwife will discuss this with you during your antenatal appointments).

St James / Jimmys (Leeds City Centre)

This is a smaller unit further towards the top of Leeds City Centre.

Hospitals and Labour Wards in Harrogate

If you live you live in Leeds, you may also be able to use facilities outside of a Leeds postcode.

Harrogate District Hospital (Harrogate town centre)

A smaller recently refurbished labour ward or delivery suite.

Hospitals and Labour Wards in Bradford

You may also be able to use facilities in Bradford.

Bradford Royal Infirmary (Bradford City Centre)

Airedale General Hospital (based in Steeton which is in-between Keighley and Skipton)

Birth Centres / Midwifery Led Centres

Birth centres are exclusively ran by midwives, in some areas of the UK we have freestanding midwifery units – however, in Leeds and West Yorkshire area – all birth centres are attached midwifery centres (attached to a labour ward / obstetric unit).

Whilst women and birthing people may be asked to meet a certain criteria for birthing in a birth centre – you are fully within your rights to challenge and negotiate with those supporting you during pregnancy.

Bradford Royal Infirmary – The Bradford Birth Centre – attached to the labour ward

Leeds General Hospital / LGI – The Lotus Midwifery Unit – attached to the labour ward

Homebirth

If you are considering a homebirth in Leeds there is a homebirth team and home birth midwives who are able to provide support for you and your baby from around 37 weeks of pregnancy.

When it comes to picking a place to give birth to your baby, you are able to change your mind – this is your baby and your birth!

When’s the best time to go on maternity leave?

People often laugh when I talk about when the best time to go on maternity leave is because with both of my babies.. I never actually got on mine before my babies were born (hello early babies!).

Interestingly, when I talk to people – the vast majority of people tend to leave it as late into the pregnancy as they can before going on maternity leave as it means that they have a bit more time with their baby before returning to work / more maternity pay when their baby arrives.

Currently in the UK, you are able to go on maternity leave up to 11 weeks before your babies due date.. so there is quite a lot of flexibility in terms of when you choose to go.

Whilst I completely understand the benefit of taking late maternity leave, I always say to my clients – don’t forget the benefit of just having a little bit of time to be able to rest, do some cooking or catch up with friends (without having to focus on a small human!) as that can really help prepare you for parenthood too.

In Germany, there is a time just before the baby arrives where you take some time to reflect and just nurture yourself – we spend so much time running around getting things prepared (don’t get me wrong, I know some people who do prefer that!) and we never really stop and consider what a massive transition we are about to go through.

Here’s your permission to slow down if you want to.. if you are feeling tired towards the end of your pregnancy, its okay to ask to bring things forward – work will continue without you, I promise! I’ve been there.

So the real answer to the question is, do what works best for you.. if you feel you want to take some time before your baby arrives, that’s okay. And if you want to work right until the end, that’s okay to do – just get those feet up where you can!

Why are breathing techniques so great for labour?

If you’ve ever heard about hypnobirthing – or even if you haven’t you will have probably heard from someone that breathing techniques in labour can be a gamechanger!

I myself have had both a vaginal birth and a caesarean birth and I can honestly say that whilst both of my children’s births were completely different, the breathing techniques were an incredible tool.

A lot of people may see them as a nice to have but actually.. the techniques is very much based on science!

Even when teaching my classes, I often say that above all else.. its important to recognise practicing good breathing techniques.

So why is our breath so important during birth?

During birth, we produce a variety of different hormones that help support the birthing process – essentially, we want our body to be in the rest and digest system so that all of our blood in the body goes to our internal organs, our uterus (or womb) muscles which are contracting in order to let our babies out and also to our babies.

If the body undergoes a lot of stress or anxiety in labour, this can take us into fight or flight mode and its much harder for these hormones to be produced.

With calm breathing techniques, we are able to work with our bodies better in order for us to feel calm – not only can this support our labours, it can help us to think clearly should we need to make decisions about what is best during the birth (birth partners are great at advocating for you too!)

Not only is it important to feel calm during surges or contractions, its important to feel calm and safe during a c-section or any other type of birth for that matter!

With any type of birth, once our baby is born – oxytocin which helps to fuel the birth process then goes on to help support us with supporting our new born baby (please note you produce oxytocin in other ways too, for example, skin to skin with your baby!).

Is there more than one breathing technique in hypnobirthing?

During the second stage of labour (or commonly known as the pushing stage of labour) there is often a second breathing technique which birthers use in order to breathe their babies out.

Often referred to as down breathing this almost panting breathing can help us to slow down this stage in order to help prevent tearing or it is often used as a distraction tool as well (we only push during a contraction, however, the sensation of our baby being so low can often make us continue to want to push!).

Whether your looking to invest in a hypnobirthing course or another antenatal preparation class – its absolutely worth practicing breathing techniques throughout the duration of your pregnancy, not only will they help you during antenatal appointment or in preparation for your baby – they are a great way to prepare in a positive way for the birth of your baby!

How can I use hypnobirthing techniques during antenatal appointments?

When it comes to hypnobirthing techniques, they are sooo adaptable that when it comes to teaching my clients – I’m forever suggesting different ways that they can use their hypnobirthing toolkit outside of wherever they are choosing to give birth!

During antenatal appointments, its great to practice with any relaxation techniques that your planning on using for the birth of your baby as it helps you to put them into practice whilst creating an association with the techniques and birthy sort of environments (e.g. midwives, the hospital etc).

What sorts of techniques and tools can I use during my appointments?

Calm breathing – Breathing well during labour can be an absolute gamechanger, not only does it provide us with a focus, it helps us to stay within the rest and digest nervous system and contributes towards creating the powerful birthing hormones that fuel birth.

Breathing well during any moment, can help us to think more clearly and that’s why its great to use during any type of antenatal appointment.

Simply take a long deep breath in through your nose and a longer one back out through your mouth (during my hypnobirthing classes, we learn about a variety of other tools that you can use whilst using your breathing too)

This will help your mind to become clearer and for your body to feel safe.

Ask for time – This is such a good tip! We often feel like we need to make decisions quite quickly during our antenatal appointments, a lot of us suffer from that fear of taking up someone’s time or that dreaded white coat syndrome.

In the vast majority of circumstances, there is always time before making a decision… when it comes to your body, your baby and your care.. its important that you feel like your able to make choices based on what really feels best for you so ask for time to think about it.

Tell them you’ll call them once you’ve made a choice, ask them if its that urgent that you need to make a decision straight away (this way you can really gage whether or not you do have that time consider things for longer).

You can then do your own research, speak about it with your partner or doula and really listen to your gut before making your choice. Never feel pressurised to make a choice – this is your antenatal appointment, it has to work best for you.

Use positive affirmations – These were a biggie for me with both of my children, having pregnancy anxiety in my first pregnancy meant that I was keen to find different methods that increased my confidence during antenatal appointments from the word go.

Affirmations are a really great way of bigging yourself up – a bit like preparing for a job interview, they can be used to tell yourself certain statements (even if you don’t always believe them at first).

They can almost trick your mind into thinking in a more positive way so have a think of a few simple ones that you can use for your appointments – ‘I can do this’ was a big one for me as well as ‘This is my baby, its always my choice’ was another.

Chant them in your head.. out loud if you prefer, write them down and stick it on the car dashboard, make it a screensaver on your phone or even ask your birth partner or a friend to remind you of it too.

Bring your birth partner or another supporting person – It can often be tricky based on peoples work schedules etc to attend antenatal appointments, however, it can be really great to have an advocate with you.

Doulas can be a really great support during appointments!

There is so much information being flung at us in every direction during pregnancy and often.. it can feel a tad overwhelming so having that extra person with us who is advocating for us can really help build our confidence and they can also be great taking in the information too.

When it comes to conversations during your appointments, its always your choice if you want someone to be able to support you – having that familiar person really can make all the difference.

Hopefully you’ve found some of these tips useful – feel free to share this blog with your pregnant friends or if your looking for a hypnobirthing class or doula support in Leeds – feel free to get in touch about how my services can support you during your pregnancy.

Always remember, your baby, your birth, your choice!

Stay tuned for my future blog post – How can I use hypnobirthing techniques after my baby has been born?

What is a doula and how can they support me prepare for my new baby?

When it comes to pregnancy, birth and the fourth trimester – a doula is an incredible resource.

Their role is support a family throughout pregnancy and postnatally, being their supporter – their carer. Someone who has got their back – no matter what.

So what does that actually mean?

It a nutshell, a doula can support you in a variety of different ways – traditionally, there may be specific roles that a doula may support with (every doula will provide you with information to do with where they can offer support).

During pregnancy, a doula is able to provide you with support by attending appointments such as scans or midwife appointments – they can be there as an advocate, supporting you during conversations about your choices when it comes to your baby and birth.

Doulas are very knowledgeable about pregnancy, birth and the 4th trimester and therefore they can be incredibly useful at providing you with additional information, resources such as books and can signpost you to a variety of different services and professionals too.

When it comes to a birth doula, they can provide emotional to support not only to you but any birth partners that you may have – they can support you getting into different birth positions, provide gentle massage, advocate for you when it comes to your birth preferences (they don’t provide medical advice, they are there in a supporting role). Many people think that a doula is just for a home birth that’s simply not the case, they can support during all types of birth including a caesarean birth.

Postnatally, doulas can be a great support when it comes to helping with your baby – whether that’s looking after them whilst you nap or shower, provide you with emotional support, do errands such as walking the dog, taking older children to school, cooking nutritious meals or tidying up around the house.

Pregnancy, birth and the early days with your baby are incredibly special, having the support of someone who you and your family can rely on to provide you with nurturing and care is just the best.. you are only going to birth your baby once!

If you are looking for an antenatal doula or postnatal doula in Leeds, Harrogate or Bradford – feel free to get in touch and we can arrange an interview to see how I can best support you and your family prepare for your new arrival!

Celebrating World Breastfeeding & Chestfeeding Week

My breastfeeding journey isn’t one that I often talk about… I was really proud to exclusively breastfeed / pump Charlotte for 6 months then went onto combi feeding until she was just over a year old.

The biggest thing I will say about my journey was that I was incredibly naïve about how breastfeeding worked – Charlotte latched straight away, yet walking into the new world of other parents and baby groups – it quickly became evident to me that breastfeeding was bloody hard work and it wasn’t easy. It opened my eyes to the struggles of other parents and how different our experiences are.

I had absolutely no idea that babies did not only breastfeed for milk but for comfort and felt drawn into questioning myself about how much milk I was able to give her when people would look in shock that she was crying at being passed around.. the truth is.. she wanted her Mummy, she wanted the breast for comfort. I very quickly decided that for me personally, I wanted to give Craig the opportunity to give Charlotte a bottle in the night… a decision which I was nervous about telling others for fear of judgement, but ultimately, I knew getting a bit of time to switch off would make me a better mother to my baby. And that’s okay.

The sheer lack of education and discussion on feeding once Charlotte was born is just mental to think back on and still exists to this day… Everyone has an opinion yet the real facts still seem to be buried underneath the surface when educating parents.

When I talk to the families that I work with about feeding choices, I often say –

  • Get educated before birth. If you would like to breastfeed / chestfeed – learn about how supply works and how babies like to nurse for reasons other than food
  • Get to know your local groups for feeding support (Leeds Bosom Buddies is great for you Leeds folk!)
  • Learn about different organisations that can support you
  • Ask for the support of your midwife to get that initial good latch
  • Make it clear to friends and family how you intend to be – visiting the YOU and the baby doesn’t mean automatic cuddles!
  • Always speak up and ask for help, it is available

What can I do if my birth path changes?

Often when speaking with families, this is an area where they feel like they need extra support – what if my plans change?

What are my choices?

Am I allowed?

Ultimately- every choice is yours and if you do come across any curveballs, these tips can be used to help support you to do what’s right for you and your baby. A few around traditional hypnobirthing and some are around making informed choices

During all of my classes, I’m keen to help support you to feel confident in this area – this is what hypnobirthing is.

It’s about preparing in a variety of different ways in order to help our bodies and minds feel safe

Here are some of my top tips for you – I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  • Remember that every decision is yours and yours alone – no one can demand you to do anything.
  • Ask for research and alternative opinions – is what’s being suggested based on you specifically or is it a generic recommendation? You and your baby are individuals so things should be suggested as such.
  • Ask for time & privacy to chat with someone you trust – it’s rare we don’t have time to discuss things & really think them through. Don’t feel you need to make a decision on the spot.
  • Take some long deep breaths, close your eyes and take a moment for yourself.
  • Use the affirmation – ‘I take control of what I can and I let go of what I can’t.’
  • Weigh up the benefits & risks using the BRAINS acronym.
  • Listen to your gut – even if it doesn’t know the answer, it will guide you down the path you want to take next.