How hypnobirthing has helped me understand more about parenting..

Never did I think that when I started to use hypnobirthing for the first time that I would have an impact on how it would impact how I parented my children… whilst I loved all of the techniques that I learnt and decided to incorporate them into my daily life – I didn’t really think about what a difference they could make on my parenting journey until a year or so ago when Charlotte was getting ready to start going to school.

How did hypnobirthing impact my parenting style?

The first thing that I really started to notice was the impact of language and how important it was for me to be aware of the sorts of things that the kids were listening to and consuming. During hypnobirthing classes, I often talk about the power of the mind and how a lot of our beliefs come from things we’ve either seen or heard in childhood.

So now when I talk about birth or even things like hypnosis – I’m keen to talk about things in a positive way that really helps the children to have more of an open mind about things in the future.

Incorporating mindfulness and hypnobirthing into day to day life with my children

Another thing that I’ve found has been really useful is how many of the different techniques that I often talk in my sessions.

Breathing techniques – these have been a gamechanger when it comes to helping me to think clearer particularly during more challenging parenting moments and the children really enjoy them too – if my daughter is feeling unwell or scared, I tell her to take a few deep breaths and its great to see the immediate impact it has on calming her emotions.

Gentle Touch – With my son William, this has been a really useful one. He’s recently turned 2 and if he’s struggling with a tantrum, I will hold his hand and do some gentle strokes – often this works well at helping him to calm himself and I love it too as it boosts my oxytocin!

Affirmations – We love affirmations, I recently found some amazing once for kids on the Deliciously Ella app and we’ve listened to them loads! These can help build up a kids confidence in any area that you feel would be useful!

Feeling confident when it comes to making choices for my children

Before having my children, I never really thought about the tools that I might need to grow my confidence about making choices on their behalf.

When Charlotte was born, she very quickly developed two birth marks which needed treatment – the skills I learnt through my hypnobirthing course on how to advocate for myself were so useful during this time as I felt much more confident about making informed choices (especially around medical care) – it helped me to really push for what was best for Charlotte as I knew that she needed specialist support.

So has hypnobirthing really made a difference to how I parent?

Hypnobirthing has given me so many foundations to build my confidence in pretty much every area when it comes to my children but I’ve got to say that actually – when I think about it, its really being able to learn to tune into my instinct and trust them that has made the biggest difference to my confidence.

It never really fails to amaze me what a huge impact that hypnobirthing has had on mine and my families lives.

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 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!

What can I do if my birth plan changes during pregnancy or labour?

How often is this something that goes through your mind? During pregnancy, feeling really passionate about a specific type of birth and then thinking the words.. What if? 

Early on in my pregnancy with Charlotte, I was really passionate about one specific type of birth.. A water birth. 

Yet I always had this niggle in the back of my mind thinking.. What if my plan needed to change? I just didn’t want to be disappointed if I couldn’t have that birth I knew I really wanted. 

I wanted to feel mentally prepared if things needed to change, protecting my mind was crucial to me.. The more I could protect my mind, the more confident I would feel… so I came up with a plan.. The what if’s plan, one that I would use to stay focused and positive, a plan that my hubby could refer back to and I would be confident that he would remember my givens – some form of optimal cord clamping, skin to skin as soon as possible and finding out the sex of our baby ourselves (best moment of my birth btw..!) 

When my waters broke just before 36 weeks, I felt that it might impact a few of my preferences which it did.. Yet I still felt really content and positive, I believed that my baby was ready, I trusted myself that I could do this.. And I knew that Craig and I were on the exact same page on how to help me feel safe and protected should I need intervention. 

One of the most important things that I teach in my sessions is around having a plan if things need to change.. We talk about what intervention actually is.. Sometimes why its used and how to listen to your gut when choosing what to do next.

We talk about elements of baby care so that you feel confident in what you absolutely want and we talk to our birth partners about creating a plan – a plan that is created and then left at the bottom of the bag and is only pulled of IF needed.

In a nutshell.. It’s one of my favourite affirmations, ‘I take control of what I can and I let go of what I can’t’. We continue to focus on that birth experience you want, focus on how you’re going to feel when you meet your baby for the first time.. All the time knowing that if it’s needed, you’ll feel confident and in control if your birth journey changes.

If you’d like to learn more about my hypnobirthing classes, head to the class page or feel free to secure a space on a session for just a £50 deposit.

Breastfeeding with Sarah Davis

I am thrilled to include my friend Sarah’s post about her breastfeeding experience as part of my new guest feature on my blog. For further information on breast and chest feeding – speak with your healthcare provider, La Leche League or NCT.

Breastfeeding 

Breastfeeding is such a natural part of caring for your new baby, yet for many mums, it can also be one of the most challenging things, especially early on.

I’m not a medical expert, but I’ve done talks at Mamas & Papas and Mothercare, sharing my positive breastfeeding journey, along with some of the hurdles I experienced, plus ways to make life easier as a breastfeeding mum. 

The best advice that I was given (before I had my son) was if you want to breastfeed, then don’t give up.  I want to pass on that valuable advice.  Breastfeeding my son had lots of ups and downs, but after a rocky start, I breastfed for 8 months and I’m so glad that I did.

I’d recommend breastfeeding for so many reasons:

  • It’s much more practical than carrying bottles & having to make sure the milk temperature is right
  • What I’ve heard about breastfed babies being less picky eaters has certainly been true in my son’s case.  I had a good, varied diet while pregnant and when feeding.  Matthew has always loved his food – aged 3, he would ask in the sandwich shop for tuna with olives and peppers, which always impressed the people behind the counter.
  • He has a great immune system and rarely catches colds or bugs.  Although he needed 2 operations by the age of 6, he bounced back amazingly well from both.
  • The pregnancy weight fell off me!  I put on one stone while expecting and took 2 stone off after!  People thought I wasn’t eating until I described the daily food mountain I was consuming through the day and night.  The doctor told me to eat more cakes and puddings! Of course, I took her advice – pity I haven’t stopped since!
  • It’s free – so you can save on the price of formula & it’s a great bonding experience. 

For the draw backs – of which there aren’t many

  • You may get painful breasts and mastitis.  I had mastitis twice, but with quick diagnosis, medication and medical advice it can be quickly resolved.  
  • Your breasts will leak sometimes – but you can get comfy breast pads that prevent this from being visible to others.

Despite what the media say about mothers being criticised for breast feeding in public, I never experienced this myself and I fed in many public places.  It’s easy enough to be discreet without causing discomfort to you or your child.

My breastfeeding journey

When my new born fed easily from both breasts on delivery, I was delighted!  I thought we’d cracked it and that it would be straightforward from then on.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

My son was four and a half weeks premature.  With no room on transitional care they put him in neo natal. I was called back up to feed him at midnight. I sat there trying for 3 hours but he wouldn’t feed.  They said he was probably just tired, but because he was in neo natal, they would have to tube feed him with formula.  I felt like I’d failed him.  At 3am I went back down to my little room alone and exhausted, phoned my husband and cried. I thought, at that point, that I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed afterwards, but that wasn’t the case.

Over the next few days in transitional care, I did everything possible to get us back on track.  I spent days trying to breastfeed, expressing milk & mastering tube feeding!  There was a great sense of mutual support between the mums on the ward, lots of laughter as well as frustration.  We were all novices with premature babies & the midwives were amazing! 

“ The women all around you 

   Understand what you’ve been through.

   You’re all learning together,

   The things you have to do.”

After a few days, Matthew was feeding well, and, after a short setback where I developed mastitis, I was able to take him home.

He was an amazing feeder after that.  I could live with the occasional bout of mastitis and discomfort – fortunately these days there are lots of products out there like breast pads, shields and medication if needed.  Breastfeeding was so much easier than warming and carrying bottles.  You can freeze breastmilk too, so if you are unwell, or your partner does the midnight feed, your baby still gets your milk.  When expressing, I tried the hand pump to start with, but when it comes to breast pumps, I would definitely recommend electric! Sure, I felt a bit like a cow in a milking shed at times, but in terms of saving valuable time and energy, it was the winner. 

I’m so pleased that I persevered with breastfeeding, as I feel that he is still reaping the benefits from the great start.

For me, being up for breastfeeding in the early hours also had a totally  unexpected outcome – I wrote my first book!  While I was up for the 3am feeds, poems popped into my head quite spontaneously!  By the time my son was 8 months old there were 42 poems!  ‘Baby Daze’ was published by The Book Guild.  Matthew loves the fact that my book of humorous and sentimental poems was inspired by him.  Maybe it was the hormones, maybe the intense emotional connection, the peace and quiet or maybe I’m most creative in the early hours!

My top tips for breastfeeding:

  • If your partner is around and you can express milk, then a bottle feed from your partner at midnight will give you much needed sleep and strengthen their bond too.  A win all round. (Note: leaving too long between breastfeeds/expressing can affect your milk supply – one bottle feed a day had no adverse effect on mine at all)
  • Relax – everything is less painful that way.
  • Get advice from midwives and doctors who can help with mastitis and other problems or just offer reassurance.
  • Don’t give up if your baby has to be tube fed formula early on or needs top up feeds with formula in between.
  • Stop when it feels right for you and your baby.  For me that was 8 months, when Matthew was comfortable on solids.  It was a wrench for me at the time, but I felt it was right for him. 
  • Most of all trust your own instincts when it comes to feeding and do what feels right for you and your baby.

Happy Feeding!  I hope you’ll enjoy the following small selection of poems from ‘Baby Daze.’

Getting to know you

The scan and seeing the beating of your tiny little heart,

Knowing that it’s really only just the very start.

Growing ever bigger as you struggle to find room.

Feeling kicks and hiccups as you move inside the womb.

Hearing your first cries just as you come into the world

Beginning your life’s journey – as yet to be unfurled.

The gripping of my finger with your tiny little hand

The feelings and emotions only parents understand.

Mums and Babies Group

My local Mums and Babies group

Helps to keep me sane.

With adult conversation

To stimulate my brain.

When I am feeling anxious

It helps to get me through

To hear that all the other mums 

Have fears and worries too.

We talk about our babies

And get stuff off our chest

And reassure each other

We can only do our best.

We have a laugh and giggle

About the week we’ve had

Sharing our experience

The good things and the bad.

By the time our tea is finished

And we’ve put the world to rights

We’re re-energised to face

Another week of sleepless nights.

Nappy Days 

Oh my goodness he’s not happy

He has got a filthy nappy!

He just let out such a trump

The explosion made me jump!

Catapulted him off my knee

Hardly dared to look and see!

It’s on his back and legs as well

I can’t describe the awful smell!

I had better make it snappy

His feet are getting in the nappy!

I’m worried about his poorly tum

Don’t want to seem a fussy mum!

But it has given me a fright

I want to check that he’s alright.

Doctor said that this much poo

Is common – “It’s what babies do!” 

‘Baby Daze’ is available from Waterstones, Amazon and other booksellers https://www.amazon.co.uk/Baby-Daze-Humorous-Honest-Motherhood/dp/1912362139 

Sarah Davis is a Leeds mum and author.  She’s delivered many talks about breastfeeding at events at Mamas & Papas and Mothercare.  She also spoke at the launch event of Baby Week Leeds 2019.

Her book, ‘Baby Daze,’ was recommended in ‘Mother & Baby’ magazine’s ‘3 of the best funny books’ feature.  It reflects the rollercoaster of parenting a new born, from the first scan to the end of maternity leave – with everything in-between!    It is widely available from bookshops.  Sarah has been interviewed live on BBC Radio Leeds and other radio stations and has also featured in national women’s magazines.

She has a large following on Instagram and Twitter and is also on Facebook.

Sarah recently started a new business as The Parenting Copywriter, working with businesses in baby, parenting and educational fields. 

Birthing in a pandemic – The Birth of Wren – A positive hypnobirthing story

There really has to be something said for hypnobirthing and then some more! When I found out I was pregnant I was massively excited but equally just as anxious and petrified. I knew I needed to find something to help me cope mentally and train my brain into a more positive state about birth and labour, as this was something I thought would genuinely be the end of me. Pretty dramatic, but true.

I found Laura’s hypnobirthing classes in Otley at 15 weeks pregnant and joined instantly, and WOW!

I gave birth exactly on my baby girls due date and through these weird and troubling times, I can easily say I had the best birth. All my plans for a home birth / pool birth were no longer an option to me towards the end which threw me a little emotionally, but with daily hypnobirthing practice throughout my pregnancy, I was able to labour in complete control…

Hypnobirthing really does provide women with extremely valuable tools not just for pregnancy but for everyday life and one thing I cannot stress enough is NEVER underestimate the power of breathing!!!!! With using the specific breathing techniques I was shown for different stages of my labour I was able to gain all the control, stay in the right frame of mind, stay focused and in the zone.

If anything, my breathing worked a little too well. So we’ll, that I had been dilated for longer than I thought because I had calmly breathed through my strongest contractions for a long time. In the end, no pain relief or medication was needed and the amazing midwives worked with me, my body and my choices to help deliver my baby safely.

If there’s one thing I can take away from hypnobirthing, it’s how much practicing a variety of simple techniques can give you the positive and controlled birth every woman deserves, wherever you end up giving birth. It also allows you and your partner to work

together affectively as a team. I can’t thank my partner, Joe enough for his encouragement, guidance and the ability to know what I needed when I needed it.

Overall, I cannot thank Laura enough for not only providing ongoing support during my pregnancy and afterwards, but also having the passion and knowledge in hypnobirthing to help encourage woman to take control and be the boss of there own births!!!!

Things may have panned out a little differently but using my hypnobirthing tools helped me to regain the control and positive outcome we all deserve!

Bonny x

How to adapt a hospital room for the birth of your baby

There are many different reasons as to why you may want a hospital birth and many reasons why you might not, either way – it’s up to you. Hypnobirthing is all about making the decision that works best for you.

Either way, birth has twists and turns and there are sometimes those times where a hospital birth may be the best option for you and your baby.

How can we change a hospital room to make it have a more homely feel?

Although many hospitals are investing money and time into improving their facilities, traditional labour wards tend to be slightly more clinical than a birth center or your own home. There are plenty of ways that you can change and adapt the space to make it feel more like yours, after all – this is your birthing zone and it needs to feel right for you!

  • Turn off the lights and put up fairy lights or battery-powered candles – this way, you don’t have to look at the room around you and it has a much cosier feel
  • Ask people to knock and talk in quiet voices if they need to come into the room – This will really help you to remain in your birthing zone, if you have a birth partner, ask them to become the gatekeeper!
  • Invest in your favourite scent or essential oil – Use a room spray or diffuser to make the room feel a little more luxurious – Lavender or wild orange are both great scents for pregnancy and birth!
  • Move the bed to one side of the room – At the end of the day, we go to the hospital to give birth because that’s where the majority of health professionals are based, it doesn’t mean that you need to lay in the bed and act like a patient! If you can, work with your body in active birth positions to help bring your baby down. Throw all the bags on the bed or use it as a prop!
  • Stick up pictures and affirmations so that you’ve got a reminder of home. Every time you look at pictures of happy memories, you will feel safe and will find it easier to focus on your labour.
  • Bring in a few home comforts or your birth ball to help you feel more comfortable

Are there any more things that you would suggest to take with you to adapt a hospital room to give birth? Write them below in the comments!

If you would like an online hypnobirthing course or would like to look at doing a face to face hypnobirthing class in Leeds, Bradford, Harrogate or surrounding areas towards the later months of 2020 – get in touch for further information.

With intense hypnobirthing classes, private hypnobirthing classes and group hypnobirthing classes available, there is something for everyone, whether its your first baby or fifth!

Why it’s important to create a calming home environment

So, by now – you are probably sick of hearing everything to do with coronavirus, yet, there is some really important information that people should read and understand in order to help with their mental health and happy hormones during this time.

Hypnobirthing is based on science and logic and some of the skills and information that is taught in a class are useful not only for pregnancy but for every member of the family in everyday life.

Why is it so important?

Our bodies compromise of 2 nervous systems – our parasympathetic nervous system and our sympathetic nervous system with the latter being more commonly known as the ‘fight or flight’ response system. The fight or flight response was designed to help us in a life-threatening situation, yet our very clever brains just can’t fathom out the difference between real and pretend threats and therefore start to release hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol.

This basically means if your feeling stressed, for example, watching too many negative things on TV – your body begins to release these hormones (that you don’t actually at that time as TV isn’t a real threat!) need and therefore makes you feel more anxious.

Instead, we want to be in the parasympathetic nervous system which is the system of calm – the important thing to note is that you can’t be in both systems at the same time.

Particularly if your pregnant, or a new mum – this system is really beneficial not only for you but for your baby as you produce hormones such as endorphins and oxytocin which is crucial for bonding with your baby.

So what sorts of things can I do to stay in the calm nervous system whilst at home?

  • Only watch small doses of TV which will produce adrenaline like the news or TV shows are action/violence based. Instead – take the opportunity to watch your favourite shows, comedies which make you laugh and romantic films which make you feel soppy (cheesy.. but it works!!)
  • Positive Statements and Affirmations – Whether you are pregnant or not, find some affirmations that make you feel confident – ‘I am strong’ is such a powerful one – print it off, pop it on your phone, say it to yourself when your feeling particularly anxious.
  • Take a long deep breath every time your anxious – I always suggest to pregnant clients to do it every time they walk through a door frame, by doing this, you automatically settle your system back down
  • Use some of your time at home to create a scrapbook of pictures or memories – looking at those we love and memories we cherish produces oxytocin!
  • Limit your phone use and take this time to invest in self-care – a yoga class, gardening, reading – whatever you enjoy, even doing this for 10 minutes a day will massively benefit you!

If you like these ideas, feel free to leave a comment or share your own ideas – its great to hear what other people do to create their best environment, pregnant or not!

If you liked this post, why not read one of my others below.

What else can hypnobirthing techniques be used for?

A lot of people assume that hypnobirthing techniques can only be used for birth when in fact, a lot of the skills learnt can be very transferable. Here are a few ideas of how they can be used in other ways!

  • Positivity – Looking at the positives instead of the negatives not only in pregnancy but in every aspect of life can only have benefits, similar to mindfulness, hypnobirthing allows you to look at things constructively and in a mindful way
  • The B.R.A.I.N.S acronym – this is a brilliant tool in so many ways. When you are in a meeting, at another type of medical appointment or when you are needing to weigh things up before making a decision
  • Breathing – Breathing is such a vital part of so many different practices including hypnobirthing, mindfulness, meditation, and yoga. Taking a long deep breath can really help you to feel calm and collected, especially when you are feeling anxious. Here are a few of the ways I’ve suggested my clients use it!
  • Any type of medical appointment such as the dentist
  • Just before going into a meeting or a job interview
  • Whilst stuck in a traffic jam
  • Anxiety around phobias such as flying or spiders
  • Dealing with toddler tantrums!

These are just a few, are there any other ways you use your hypnobirthing breathing?