How can hypnobirthing help me in labour and birth? Here’s 10 ways..

One of the things that I absolutely love about hypnobirthing is that there really is something for everyone when it comes to looking for tools to prepare for your baby’s birth.

When your considering different forms of antenatal preparation for the birth of your baby – hypnobirthing can help both physically and mentally.

So here are just a few of the ways it can play a huge roll during labour and birth.

1 – It helps you to understand that your mind has a lot more influence over your body

Its true, our mind and our body are essentially the same thing and when it comes to pregnancy and birth – having an understanding of the way that our body can be impacted during birth can really help us to see why a relaxation toolkit… aka.. a hypnobirthing toolkit can be a great idea.

If you think about it, our mind controls so many reactions within our body – like when you find something funny, you laugh. You don’t stop and then think to laugh!

Well its the same in labour, if we feel safe we can let go in order to birth our babies.

2 – Hypnobirthing provides you with a variety of tools that help you to feel calm in a variety of different birthing scenarios

Home birth, induced birth, caesarean birth, hospital birth, freebirth… the list goes on – regardless of the type of birth you are planning for – there are loads of different tools that you can try to help you to prepare for birth.

That’s what I love about hypnobirthing – everyone will use the tools different.

In my hypnobirthing sessions, I break the toolkit down into 3 sections – mind tools such as visualisation, physical tools such as items that can change your environment and breathing techniques

3 – It helps you to understand your body and therefore helps you to work with it instead of against it

I don’t know about you but I didn’t have a clue how my body worked in labour before I had Charlotte. Having an understanding of the purpose of contractions, how our uterus works in labour and how we change in our behaviour as labour progresses can help build your trust in the process.

Birth is a biological requirement and just like with so many other bodily functions.. it just happens.

Also understanding a bit around birth positions, particularly ones that help you work with gravity and support yourself and your baby to birth can give you the confidence that you were designed to do this!

4- Hypnobirthing helps your birth partner to gain confidence in how to support you during birth

Hypnobirthing can be just as useful for your birth partner, after working with hundreds of families – its been really great to see how it can make all the difference to your birth partner.

It can help them see that they do have a really important role during birth and opens up conversations about the different ways that they can support whether that’s through setting up your birth environment or advocating for you during labour.

5 – It can help you tune into your instincts

Often, having an understanding of our bodies along with relaxation techniques helps us to tune into our instincts easier during labour – its often said that hypnobirthing mamas or parents stay at home longer before going to the hospital as they know its not yet time.

It can also help with choosing birthing positions, making decisions in labour and tuning into your baby.

One of the most important things I talk about in my sessions is instinct – for many years, we have almost learnt to not trust our instincts during birth and this doesn’t need to be the case.

6 – It can help you feel confident about advocating for yourself not only in pregnancy but during birth too

A really key part of a hypnobirthing course is understanding how to advocate for yourself during labour and birth.

Sadly, our maternity care system is currently quite stretched with many policies and procedures in place that don’t always work on an individualised basis and this can mean that some parents want further information or a different care pathway.

Whilst hypnobirthing isn’t about giving you advice, a key element is educating you on how to feel confident on knowing your rights.

7 – It can help you to write birth preferences based on what really matters to you

Completing a hypnobirthing course often provides you with most of the information you’d like to write in your birth plans as a hypnobirthing course can really help to highlight ways that you want your birth to look and feel.

This can also be useful for both your birth partner as a tool they can use to advocate for you as well as your caregivers such as a midwife or doctor.

8 – It can help you to feel more comfortable as your labour progresses

During a hypnobirthing course, we will go through loads of techniques that can help you to feel more comfortable as your labour progresses – whether that’s through learning massage techniques that can help ease any discomfort , breathing techniques to help your muscles to relax and active birth positions that you can use for resting or however you feel during labour.

9 – It helps you to understand the different stages of labour and how best to prepare your environment

Often birth partners I work with say that this has been one of the most useful parts of the course as it helps them to understand what to look for in terms of a change in your body language.

We will talk about things like setting up your environment, how to adapt it in different locations if your choosing to birth outside of the home and also things like what to expect when your placenta is born.

10 – It can provide you with confidence and excitement

And of course, last but certainly not least!

This is the whole reason why hypnobirthing exists – to help you to feel more in control of your birth!

Many parents that I’ve worked with often say that our hypnobirthing course has helped them to feel empowered about their choices and for me – this is the ultimate goal as a hypnobirthing teacher!

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.

What are the best things for me to do in early labour?

When it comes to early labour – so many people that I work with are really keen to understand ways to speed their labour up. But the truth is – there’s only so much that we can do.

The most important thing to consider is ways to help the labour to continue as undisturbed!

Here I share a few things that you might want to consider, you might want to spend some time talking with your birth partner about how they can support you incorporate them into your birth plan.

Share them with your doula if your choosing to have one or even let family members know the ways that they can support you when it comes to that start of your baby’s birth.

Continue as normal for as long as possible – probably the most important one.

One of the most best things you can do during latent labour or early labour is to continue in your day as best as you can.

That might be suggesting to your birth partner continues to go to work, continuing in your plans with your friends or preparing for your baby

Rest, eat well and hydrate – take the opportunity to conserve a little bit of energy. Often when I’ve spoken to people in labour – they’ve spent loads of time bouncing on their birth ball or exhausting themselves trying to progress the labour before its really become established.

Eat a really good meals – once labour really progresses, just like when doing vigorous exercise – many women and birthing people will loose their appetite for food.

So have a good think about the sorts of meals that you might enjoy – meals that will give you loads of slow release energy once it becomes closer to meeting your baby.

Drink plenty of water, energy drinks or coconut water – our uterus (or womb muscles) have to work really hard during labour, they open up in order for your baby to be born and they need fuel to work effectively.

Come up with an action plan in advance different things you might want to do – Often when we start to feel the first contractions in labour or we start to feel differently within our bodies, we almost freeze up and wonder what to do next.

Right down a couple ideas of things that you can do in case this happens, make a cake, ring a friend, have a task to do in your baby’s nursery which can help you to really focus your mind into something else besides what’s going on in your body.

Write them down and share with your birth partner who can almost guide you with it if needed.

Save some of your hypnobirthing anchors for later on – When it comes to things like birth breathing, I often to suggest to clients to get into a rhythm of using this pretty early on in labour to help you create an association in-between your surges / contractions against the calm breathing techniques. Its entirely up to you.

When it comes to other anchors – like setting up your environment, music playlists or massage save them until your labour really progresses and they will be so welcomed at the time!

If your looking for a hypnobirthing or antenatal course – why not explore the options available, with face to face birth preparation courses in Leeds and online for families further afield – there’s plenty of ways to prepare for the birth of your baby!

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 can I find pregnancy classes in Leeds?

A huge congratulations on your pregnancy! Its such an exciting experience being pregnant and getting ready to become a parent. For expectant parents in Leeds, the city and the suburbs and surrounding areas offer a variety of pregnancy classes to support and educate you through this incredible time. Here, Ill be sharing a range of the types of pregnancy classes available in Leeds, helping you make informed choices about the resources that best suit your needs.

  1. NHS Antenatal Classes and Stork Walk: Speak with your midwife to see if there are any antenatal classes that take place at your local hospital. These classes can cover some really useful topics such as the birth process and what to expect during labour. If your giving birth at LGI or St James in Leeds, reach out to your local community midwives to see if you can book in a ‘Stork Walk’ this is where you can walk around the labour wards and the Lotus Suite Birth Centre to see what the facilities look like.
  2. NCT (National Childbirth Trust) Classes: The NCT offers a variety of classes designed to prepare you for childbirth and parenthood. In Leeds, you can find both antenatal and postnatal class covering topics such as labour and birth, feeding, and early parenting. NCT classes often provide a supportive environment for building a network of friends who are also going through the same experiences.
  3. Yoga, Pilates and Fitness Classes for Pregnancy: Staying active during pregnancy is essential for both physical and mental well-being. Leeds boasts numerous yoga and fitness classes specifically tailored for expectant mothers and birthing people. These classes focus on gentle exercises, stretches, and breathing techniques, promoting a healthy pregnancy and preparing your body for labour.
  4. Hypnobirthing Classes: There are several types of hypnobirthing courses which take place in Leeds, here at The Happy Little Nest I have over 4 years experience of working with families, focus on all types of birth as well as helping both yourself and your birth partner to feel confident and in control when it comes to your baby’s birth and 4th trimester. Head over to my hypnobirthing courses page – I offer group classes in Guiseley, Leeds and 1.1 courses in all areas of Leeds including Leeds City Centre.
  5. Breastfeeding Workshops: Leeds also provides workshops dedicated to breastfeeding education and support. Led by lactation consultants or experienced breastfeeding counsellors, these classes offer valuable information on latch, positioning, and troubleshooting common breastfeeding challenges. If you are looking for specific breastfeeding and chest feeding courses – Head over to my Antenatal Breastfeeding Courses where I can provide you with 1:1 courses which support you to not only understand the mechanics of breastfeeding but the emotional and environment factors too.
  6. Parenting Workshops and Support Groups: Parenting doesn’t stop after childbirth. Leeds has a wealth of ongoing parenting workshops and support groups that address the challenges and joys of raising a child. These groups cover topics like sleep, nutrition, and infant care, providing a supportive community for new parents. One of the most useful things I say to parents I work with is, find out what’s available in your local area so that when you are ready to get out and about with your new baby – you know what’s out there!
  7. Online Classes: There is now a wide variety of classes online such as pregnancy yoga, hypnobirthing and pregnancy relaxation classes. Here at The Happy Little Nest, all of my classes are available are online whether its an online hypnobirthing course or online breastfeeding course.

In Leeds, the diverse range of pregnancy classes ensures that expectant parents have access to valuable resources and support. Whether you opt for NHS classes, specialized workshops, or online education, taking the time to invest in your knowledge and well-being can have a really positive impact not only on your pregnancy experience but the transition into early parenthood too . Embrace the opportunities offered by Leeds pregnancy classes, and enjoy this transformative journey towards becoming a parent.

The birth of Adaline – A positive hospital birth story

I am PETRIFIED of needles and hospitals so when my husband and I found out we were expecting our first baby, I knew I would have to overcome my fears.

I had heard a few people recommend hypnobirthing and as someone who loves yoga, meditation, positive affirmations and crystals (yes crystals), I figured it was worth a shot.

A friend recommended Laura after having some private sessions.

Nauseous, sleepy and far too lazy to Google different local courses, I jumped straight on to her website and booked the next lot of available group sessions. 

Let me tell you now that our birth would not have been remotely close to the empowering experience we had if it wasn’t for the classes we booked and the expertise Laura shared with us. 

After weeks of growth scans showing baby b to be on the small side, it was recommended that we be induced between 39-40 weeks.

At our last growth scan (38 weeks) I was offered a sweep by a very pushy doctor. I used my BRAINS and asked for time to discuss with my husband before agreeing. I was hopeful it would mean an induction wouldn’t be necessary but I think I knew deep down it was unlikely to work miracles.

We knew that agreeing to an induction meant saying goodbye to the birth we had pictured. We wanted a pool birth. We weren’t allowed a pool birth. I went back to work feeling upset and deflated.

Laura’s words ‘take control of what you can and let go of what you can’t’ came to mind and I went straight to my boss and told him I was starting my maternity leave at the end of the day. If we were to be induced in a weeks time, I was going to enjoy one last week off to myself. I was going to enjoy a Christmas movie marathon, go for lunches at nice cafes and fill my week with bubble baths and oxytocin. 

Without telling anyone, we booked our induction for 39+1 weeks. The day after our first wedding anniversary. 

When the day came, we sat waiting (very impatiently) for a call to head in to hospital. Our bags were ready. At 2pm off we went, excited at the prospect of meeting our baby. We listened to Laura’s mp3 tracks in the car and talked about how we were looking forward to our mince pies!

After monitoring and an examination, we were told that my waters could be broken without the need for a pessary or other hormones. However, it was looking like it would be several hours until a delivery suite would be available and my husband would have to go home in the meantime.

Using our BRAINS, I put my foot down and said that I was also going to go home until the call came despite this ‘not being advised because you’re here for an induction’. An induction that I could have booked for 5 days later I added. Reluctantly, the midwife agreed to have me discharged. She came back 15 minutes later to tell us that there was space for us to move up to delivery.

We were given an explanation of the next steps of induction and introduced to an overwhelmingly large amount of midwives and doctors. I agreed to have my waters broken on the basis that we could wait the maximum amount of time they would allow before starting the syntocinon drip. We were told 2 hours. 2 hours is better than nothing we figured.

My husband hung the fairy lights, spritzed the room with sleep spray and we sat and watched Miracle on 34th Street as I bounced around on a birthing ball. 2 hours later, we were told we could wait another 2 hours but that would be it.

I had a nap, listened to some music and bounced some more. At midnight, which ended up being 5 hours after the breaking of my waters, it was time for the drip.

The canula was something I feared the most but my husband sat at the other side of me distracting me with talk of our recent holiday. 

After only an hour, the surges were INTENSE. I used the breathing techniques to get through each one, knowing that I was making my way closer to meeting our baby.

After three and a half hours, it was clear to my husband that I was struggling. He spoke with the midwife (using his BRAINS) about having an epidural.

With a calm, clear mindset, I, phobia of needles, asked to have an epidural. I was told it would be at least 30mins as the anaesthetist was in theatre. 2 hours and a lot of controlled breathing later, he arrived. Did the sight of the scrubs and the equipment scare me?

No. I knew I had taken control of this decision and that it was going to help lead me to our baby. 

I had my first examination at 6.30am and was told that I was 5cm. By 8am I had an extreme urge to push. We were told by the midwives that my body wasn’t ready for that yet and that I could damage my cervix. We knew I wasn’t due another examination for another 2 and a half hours. I stood my ground, again. And told them incessantly that I needed to push.

The midwife said she could do the examination to see if anything had progressed. It had. I was 10cm.

We were told that it is advised, when on the drip, to wait an hour before coached pushing but the midwife was happy for me to listen to my body and push when the urge came. She told us that she could see the head and that our baby would probably arrive in the next 20 minutes.

The atmosphere in the room changed. The midwives moved me on to my side and held one of my legs up, my husband sat in front of me holding my hand and encouraging me every step of the way.

How exciting. We were so close. “I’ve changed my mind,” said the midwife “It will be here in 10 minutes.” I felt so empowered knowing I had come so far and all I could picture was meeting our little one. 

At 8.45am, as the sun rose over the skyline, visible from our hospital window, my husband told me that we had a little girl. I asked halfway through my contractions why anyone would give birth more than once.

I knew the moment they placed her on my chest for immediate skin to skin why. After delayed cord clamping and my husband cutting it, we were left to enjoy some incredibly delicious toast and a lot of emotional cuddles. 

Our birth was by far the most empowering experience of my life and it wouldn’t have been without the help of Laura.

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you! 

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!