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Birth Story: Welcome to the World Benjamin

Rachel and Nick attending a class in Barrow upon Soar in November, here Rachel share’s the story of Benjamin’s birth.

Benjamin David More was born on 7th December (8 days overdue) weighing exactly 7lb. We are besotted!

A huge thank you for all your help in the lead up to his birth. Sorry for the delay in writing this but, here’s my birth story…

My birth story

About half way through my pregnancy I started to feel very anxious about The Birth! I’d binged watched One Born Every Minute and decided I did not want my birth to be as horrific as some I’d seen on there. So, I researched hypnobirthing and decided I wanted a completely unassisted birth without any medical intervention. I practised ‘Mindful Hypnobirthing’ and Nerissa’s pregnancy yoga.

Friday 1st December 2017

I lost my mucous plug! I hoped labour was imminent, as I was overdue by 3 days and felt very ready to meet our baby.

Wednesday 6th December 2017

10am – I heard dripping on the bathroom floor, looked down and my waters had finally broken! Whilst showering, I noticed the fluid didn’t look right. It was cloudy with steaks of green. I feared meconium was present. I called the hospital and was advised to come in straight away.

12pm – I arrived at LRI.  On examination, I was already 1-2cm dilated but was not yet experiencing contractions. A speculum examination confirmed meconium in my waters. I was told I would need to be induced ASAP, as the baby could be in distress.

I was so upset. All my hopes for a totally natural birth evaporated. I stressed to the doctor and midwives that I did not wish to be confined to a bed. I wanted to use the movement and breathing techniques I’d been practising for weeks.

They explained I would need to be attached to a drip and connected to monitors, meaning any movement would be very restricted. They were so understanding though and agreed I could move around as much as possible by the side of the bed, even though this would make life much more difficult for them, as they would need to move with me to keep track of the baby’s heart rate.

3pm – The cannula for the induction was placed.

5pm – I was transferred to delivery suite and the syntocinon drip (induction) was initiated.

7pm – Contractions began. At this point they felt like waves of energy moving through me and there was plenty of space between them. I actually enjoyed the rush feeling they gave me. No food was allowed so I rested in bed, lying on my side to try and conserve energy before labour intensified.

9pm – Contractions stepped up a gear. The hypnobirthing and Nerissa’s yoga tracks were playing on loop in the background, “This is youuurrrr birth…each contraction will end…”. I used my TENS machine on a very low setting and inhaled lavender oil on a tissue during each contraction wave. The lighting was low.

I could not lie down any more, especially not on my back. It was just far too uncomfortable. I rocked on my birthing ball beside the bed for a while and focused on my breath, “I breath in I relax…I breathe out I let go”.  When the ball became uncomfortable, I stood, using the side of the bed for support whilst I swayed back and forth and round and round.

10pm – I started to feel very shaky and shivery. It felt like a sugar low so my husband fetched me a sugary drink. I immediately vomited. I’ve since learned that the oxytocin hormone can cause this. My cervix was now 4cm dilated.

Thursday 7th December 2017

12am – Contractions became more intense with less space to recover between them. I cranked up the TENS machine and was more and more vocal with my exhalations. My husband had to remind me a couple of times to keep the sounds low. I hummed and ha’d a lot!

1am – I started to feel very tired and doubted myself being able to continue without any help. I felt like a needed to poo really badly so the midwife brought me a bed pan but it just wouldn’t come. I begged her to examine me, as I felt the urge to push. To my absolute relief she was surprised to say I was fully dilated! This was just what I needed to hear and I regained my energy and focus. I since recognised that I was in transition.

2am – My midwife was struggling to keep track of the foetal heart rate. She wasn’t sure if it kept dropping because the baby was in distress or if all my movements meant she just lost contact with it.

She insisted she would direct me with pushing as she wanted the baby out quickly. I agreed. I leant over the side of the bed and after about 4 or 5 deep, powerful roars out came the head – and a hand! I never expected I would give birth standing up but this is just what my body wanted me to do.  One more push and the baby popped out and was handed to me at 2.36am. In all the excitement, I almost tripped over the umbilical cord which was hanging down like a skipping rope. My beautiful baby boy was finally here and in my arms.

Even though my birth didn’t go as planned, I still felt I had an amazing birth experience. I needed no pain relief other than TENS. I truly believe that this was down to the hypnosis and yoga techniques I’d learned and also the fact the midwives and doctors were so accommodating to my wishes.

I was offered gas and air for the placenta delivery which I was very grateful for, as I was too exhausted to rely on breathing alone anymore! I needed stiches for the 2nd degree tears due to him coming out like superman (compound presentation) and the hurried pushing.

Then Ben was given back to me and he latched on to my breast straight away. What an incredible feeling!

Lots of love, Nick, Rachel and Baby Ben xxx

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Birth Story: An unplanned homebirth for baby Daisy

Kate has kindly shared her story with us and unlike many of the birth stories we receive Kate didn’t take one of our classes. She did however listen to the audio book of ‘Mindful Hypnobirthing’.

Here is her story….

Photograph courtesy of Rachel Jane Photography

“My hypnobirthing story! I’m not sure if I’d recommend hypnobirthing or not 😂 mainly because I was so calm I had an unplanned home birth!

I was monitored more in my second pregnancy due to high blood pressure during my 1st labour where I was given lots of medication, had a very stressful labour and suffered with PND for months after. I knew my raised blood pressure was white coat syndrome and panic not pre-eclampsia but doctors would not agree.

I decided to use Sophie’s hypnobirthing audio book so I could listen to it before and during hospital appointments and labour, it worked so well got signed off to give birth in the birthing centre and was delighted as I could try a water birth and less intervention.

My baby had still not arrived at 41weeks and a induction date was looming, I kept calm listening to the book and making a visualisation board and phrases, I was so calm I agreed to my husband having a work night out an hour away!

I went to my mums house so I wasn’t alone just incase and my 3yr old could stay the night. I started getting a little uncomfortable about 7pm and had a bath, sat on my birth in ball and listened to the book, by 9pm I was calm and talking to my parents but asked my husband to come home and get me on the way. We arrived home at 11pm and I had a shower, contractions started and we decided to time them! 5mins apart 1min long. So we called the birthing centre who suggested having a bath as my waters hadn’t broken.

In the bath my contractions became intense and continuous so I got out and dressed to go in. By the time I got downstairs I needed to push! Yes really 😂 called my husband down as he was getting the hospital bags. Laid on the sofa we could feel her head and sac still intact so he called an ambulance which arrived 7 minutes later and my 6lb 12oz baby girl was born in her waters 6mins after they arrived!

I felt calm, in control and concentrated on my breathing and visualisations so managed without any pain relief in a rather quick and unplanned home birth 😍. Baby Daisy is now 5 months old and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it this time. Even now when I hear Sophie’s voice I feel a sense of calm 😍

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Birth Story: Welcome To The World Monty

Jessica and Richard attended a class in July, here they share what led them to take the class and the story of how they gently welcomed their son Monty into the world.

I just wanted to send through a note to express my gratitude for your influence and role in the wonderful birth I experienced on the 13th October, when we gently welcomed our son Monty to the world.

I completed the Mindful Mamma course with the lovely Ann back in July, having stumbled across the Mindful Hypnobirthing book and audio and completely loving the philosophy and techniques. I’d been listening to the tracks and reading and re-reading the book right from 16 weeks, however the course was invaluable in including my husband in the pregnancy and preparation for birth – he arrived at the course secretly a little sceptical but supportive, and left feeling empowered and having lost that feeling of being ‘in the way’. This totally carried through when our time came to labour, and he was a fantastic advocate and support.

My birth:

I’d found out at 12 weeks that I had Step B, which had been a consistent source of anxiety for me during pregnancy – not necessarily just because of any risk to the Baby, but also because I was extremely fearful that this automatically put me on the ‘high risk’ list and under consultant care. I was really nervous, right up to going into hospital that I was going to have a constant battle with the consultancy team to avoid intervention – something very important to me as I wanted to keep the birth as calm and natural as possible.

At 3:45 in the morning my waters went whilst in bed, following just 2 or 3 strong contractions. Once the waters had gone (and they went with a gush!) I was experiencing very strong contractions every 4/5 minutes for about 1/2 an hour. As I had Strep B I’d been asked to call the hospital and go in as soon as my waters went – so we did this and made our way to the hospital, an hours drive away from our rural home. During the journey I managed through my contractions by listening to the Mindful Mamma hypnosis tracks and the Mindful Mamma music – I don’t remember much of the journey!

Once we arrived into hospital we were shown into our room and we waited an hour or so for my midwife to come and check Labour progress. By now my contractions were very strong and coming every 3 mins, and I imagined I was probably around 4/5 cm… so when my midwife said it was more 1 to 2 cm I felt extremely worried and disheartened – if I found the contractions this painful at this point, how on Earth was I going to manage?!

Baby Monty a few hours oldWhat a relief.. and we didn’t see him again. The following 10 hours were spent calmly labouring in private with my husband and a wonderful midwife, who had taken courses in hypnobirthing and was amazing – most of the time I didn’t notice she was there, until I needed her. I did go through the typical ‘transition’ which Ann warned us about, when I calmly asked for an epidural when I’d got to 7cm. Having been watching me calmly breath through contractions up until this point, my midwife wisely suggested I try some gas and air instead… what a dream!

I feel like I sailed through the last few cm with the help of gas and air, breathing consciously through contractions (Breathe in , I relax, breathe out – I let go!) using the breaks to speak lovingly with my husband, drink water and even snack!

The final stages of labour were the most empowering moments of my life so far, breathing through those ‘pushes’ and feeling totally serene in between, gazing up at my husband and midwife. The midwife has since said it was an absolute privilege to be part of such a calm and loving birth.

Jessica holding MontyMonty joined us at 7pm that evening, following an hour of active pushing (which felt like 10 minutes!) weighing 7lb 2 at 39 weeks.

Our first 3 weeks of parenthood have been beautiful and tough all at the same time – and were thoroughly in love with him! We both found the birth such a hugely positive experience, and I personally feel such a sense of achievement that we managed to have the dream birth which we’d envisaged. I majorly attribute our experience with the way in which we prepared for the birth with Mindful Mamma – and we’ll forever be grateful to Ann and Sophie.Richard the proud father holding his son Monty

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Birth Story: Katie shares the story of her Neo’s birth

Katie attended a class in Loughborough with Fernanda Salfity, here she share’s the story of her son’s birth.

“I would really like to share my birth story with other expectant mothers please as I feel that hypnobirthing allowed me to have the birth I never thought would be possible.”

“This time 3 weeks ago I was  searching for positive hypnobirthing induction birth stories trying to keep a positive frame of mind about my upcoming labour. I had agreed to be induced at 41+5. I am so pleased to now be able to share my own positive birth story!

In the build up to my induction date I tried to kick start my labour as naturally as possible with the usual attempts of eating spicy food, pineapple, clary Sage oil baths and massage, bouncing on my birthing ball, long walks, hypnotherapy, acupressure points- the list goes on. With no success I tried 2 sweeps over week 41 but again, no success.

I had initially started learning hypnobirthing techniques to reduce my fear and anxiety around birth, due to a spinal condition I had been told I was unable to have an epidural and that c-section may be the best method of delivery for me. My partner and I attended Fernanda’s mindful mama course in Loughborough and immediately felt the benefits of viewing pregnancy and birth in a more positive way. My partner and I both felt that Fernanda had a very calming influence on us and so, following the course I asked Fernanda to be my Doula during labour.

I went into hospital on Saturday night and had the first hormone pessary, I ended up having 2 of these over the next 24 hours because they kept on falling out. My body did respond to the hormones and surges built up and slowed back down repeatedly over 2-3 days. This was not the labour I had envisioned or planned. At one stage while being monitored my baby’s heart rate had increased and the midwives needed to find a clear baseline to establish whether or not he was distressed. Using the Mindful hypnobirthing MP3 I managed to calm the baby’s heart rate back to normal. This for me was clear evidence of how a calm mother can help to create a calm baby.

The hypnobirthing techniques I had learned helped me to stay relaxed and maintain an open mind throughout my birthing journey. Fernanda’s knowledge and experience helped us feel in control; she empowered us to make informed decisions during my time in hospital.

At 4pm on the Monday I was taken to the delivery suite and started on the hormone drip, things got intense pretty quickly. I used pregnancy and birth affirmations through headphones, a cooling eye mask to help block out my surroundings and any distractions. I also used a tens machine and gas and air to help manage the discomfort of surges. I listened to the Contraction Wave MP3 when surges became more intense. At 5.17am baby Neo made his arrival weighing 9lb 12oz, I had a natural delivery and extended skin-to-skin contact before my partner cut the cord and Neo was checked over and weighed. He is now 3 weeks old and people regularly comment on what an alert and chilled out baby he is.

As a family we cannot thank Fernanda enough for all her help and support, we now highly recommend hypnobirthing and having a Doula to anyone we know expecting a baby!”

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Hypnobirthing may be calm, but it is not quiet.

Hypnobirthing is calm but not as you know it.

How calm can give you your voice.

You’re about to give birth.  How do you think you are going to be?  Quiet, noisy? What would you prefer?  To be calm on the inside but noisy on the outside, or calm on the outside but noisy on the inside?  Or perhaps you want to be both.

Birth is a primal event, it’s instinctive and powerful and sometimes unpredictable. And each one is totally unique. You may find you are quiet, but on the day you may feel you need to make noise and that is ok. In fact, both are completely normal when they are instinctive.

As a hypnobirthing teacher and doula with over 10 years experience I have seen a lot of hypnobirthers. I have seen quiet hypnobirthers, so quiet, that midwives didn’t know they were in labour, and I have seen noisy hypnobirthers, so noisy that I could hear the midwives whispering “she’s not really hypnobirthing is she?”.

Well, breaking news she is hypnobirthing.  She is vocal and active because that’s a normal instinctive birth behaviour. What she isn’t is frightened, anxious or afraid of what people might think when she roars. She may not look calm on the outside but she is in a great space internally.

True, calm may look quiet, but sometimes it looks strong and primal and noisy. Internal calm is the very antithesis of quiet – it is a woman who knows she has a voice. She is prepared, a woman who knows deep down that she can do this, whatever happens.

Calmness it’s an inner state of mind.  It’s a place where you are present, aware, connected.  A state of mind in which you can make decisions from a place of strength rather than fear. It enables women to slow down, consider and reflect, to step away from kneejerk decision making that can so often lead to regret or loss of power.

Research is beginning show how anxiety can interfere with choice-making cells in the pre-frontal cortex, the part of our brain associated with high order thinking. When anxious or desperate, we eagerly accept and apply advice, good or bad, we are less discriminating.  When you are calm internally you can make informed choices because you understand consent and can find the time and space to make the right choices for you.

Calmness is also about the external environment you choose to birth in, reducing interruptions, thinking about the things you can see, feel or hear. Hypnobirthing helps you understand the unconscious processes that go on every moment of our loves, the constant interaction between the unconscious and environment. They give you the ability to learn how to manage your own space, and to organise it in your own unique way of ‘calm’.  It encourages you to explore that aspect of yourself, and to take make the birth space your own. To be comfortable with moving things around, rather than thinking “am I allowed to move the bed”.

If you are birth partner, you may “trying to be calm” on the outside for your partner but internally be in turmoil.  You may also project your own anxieties and fears onto your partner. Your assumptions about the noises she makes, may be based on your own learned expectations of birth, and tap into your need to ‘rescue her’. Instead, mindfulness based approaches can teach you to be observant of your own feelings, to be comfortable with your own discomfort.  As a partner you will learn techniques to keep the birth space free of your own anxieties and to be a responsive but not reactive birth partner.

By learning certain aspects of your own behaviour and by understanding birth your external calmness can be a genuine reflection of your internal state. And your partner will know this deeply.

For all those of you about to birth, know this – calm can be internal, it can be external. Calm can be quiet, it can be noisy but most of all it is powerful and it is strong. Calm creates the space for the energy of birth to roll through, and for you to feel in control of letting go free of inhibition, free of fear and connected with the deepest part of yourself.





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Placebo, Pain and Hypnobirthing

Did anyone see Horizon on BBC 2 last Monday, the 17th February?  It’s still on iplayer so I urge you to watch if it you can.  The headline is Placebo, but it’s much more than that, it teaches us about the power of suggestion.  Something us hypnotherapists have known about for years.

A placebo is a suggestion. You are told something will make you better, so you believe that you are being offered a drug or vitamins that will improve your situation in some way.  There is overwhelming evidence that demonstrates, in different ways, how when you think you are getting better, improving physical performance, reducing pain with an intervention, or even taking a drug you know to be a placebo, your body makes actual physical changes in line with the suggestion of what that placebo is meant to do.

The chemistry in your brain changes, just because of how you think!

This means that if I were to give you a drug and tell you that it would get rid of morning sickness, but it was in fact a capsule filled with cornflour, you would more than likely see an improvement in your morning sickness.  This is not to say that you aren’t experiencing morning sickness and it’s all in your mind, what it shows is that if you are experiencing it your brain is able to make adjustments to the chemistry in your body that reduce that feeling of nausea.

Even more interesting is the power of ‘nocebo’. If I were running a randomised drug trail I would have to tell you about the side effects of the drug you were receiving even if you were receiving the placebo. Research shows that this suggestion also causes chemical changes in the brain, and that people receiving a placebo experience the side effects of the real drug.  You can read a lot more about this in Prof Irving Kirsch’s book ”The Emperor’s New Drugs”.  Kirsch used Freedom of Information to extract trials from drug companies that hadn’t been published and he dissected them, particularly in relation to antidepressants. This was the book that really helped me get to grips with the extent to which the effects of placebo were understood but hidden from us.

The programme also talked about the role of expectation in the experience of pain. If I were to tell you that something is painful, you will be more likely to experience pain even if there is none.  Evidence now also shows that how we think about pain, actually can overpower strong opiate drugs such as remifentanyl, which in some hospitals is offered through an iv in labour.  When receiving a positive suggestion, the front part of the brain becomes more active.  As an area associated with endogenous pain modulatory system, including the anterior cingulate cortex, which releases dopamine and your body’s own natural opoids.  If you are given a negative suggestion of pain or of side effects, it activates the area of your brain more associated anxiety and the increased levels of pain, the hippocampus, in particular the amygdala.  You can read more about expectation and pain here.

Pretty amazing, I think. So how does this type of suggestion relate to birth?  A great deal and sadly it’s completely under explored, trials that are set up rarely take account of the nature of hypnosis, suggestion and the subtleties of how it works, but I’ll talk about that in another blog.

First of all if you are told to expect pain, you are likely to trigger activity in the hippocampus and amygdala during birth, the part of your brain associated with anxiety and increased levels of pain. This is also known as your limbic system.

On the other hand, imagine that you have been given the positive suggestion by your doctor or midwife that birth is completely normal, that it’s perfectly manageable; perhaps  society around you told you it was just an intense pressure and it didn’t last long.  Or you were given a drug during labour and told it was an epidural, even though it wasn’t, what would happen?  I know anesthetists that have said on siting an epidural, but not administering it, women say, “oh that’s so much better, oh that’s wonderful thank you”.  I know many midwives who agree that women ring or come in complaining of stomach upset; when they are examined and told they are in active labour, their pain suddenly goes through the roof, ‘they can’t cope’ or ‘they need and epidural’.

Placebos, have given us insight into the profound changes our beliefs and expectations can make in the chemistry of our brain. Hypnosis is a vehicle where we can ethically use the power of suggestion with the full knowledge of our clients.

Preparing for birth using hypnosis, makes absolute sense, it is based on genuine contemporary research around expectation, belief and the extraordinary power of our minds to alter our experience in each and every moment.

You can read more about the power of suggestion, placebo and pain in my book ‘Mindful Hypnobirthing’ and by attending one of our Mindful Mamma classes, which show you how you can use hypnosis to create a positive experience of birth.



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The Birth of Penelope Rose

Ashleigh attended our one day class in Nottingham earlier this year. She often found that she fell asleep when practising, but her practise still worked and here she shares the story of her daughter Penelope’s birth with us…

Penelope’s Birth

I just wanted to share how amazing my birth experience was and I truly believe it was down to practicing hynobirthing.

I had a beautiful home water birth on 6 June, delivering our beautiful baby girl, Penelope Rose Aldridge, who weighed in at 9.11.I was 40 plus 5 when she came along. I didn’t require any pain relief, no gas and air and no stitches and I think this is due to how relaxed my body and mind was.

My waters broke at 2am, I stayed calm went back to bed, mild contractions started pretty much straight away. When I woke up I went about my day like normal – went shopping at Tesco, took the dog for a walk and to the in laws for coffee. Around 3pm contractions felt stronger, around 5pm they were less than a min apart – by 10pm I was holding my baby girl in arms! Midwives couldnt believe how quickly I dilated or how controlled I was in labour – the whole experience was so beautiful and empowering!

I’d love for other woman to be influenced by my experience!

Although I wasn’t practising regularly or completely committed in terms of ‘watering the roots of the tree’, I would fall asleep listening to the hypnobirth tracks and reading the book completely changed my perspective on birth and really helped me to feel relaxed and trust my body. My husband got so much out of attending the class as it bought him round to the idea of home birth…and now he can’t understand why anyone would want to be in a hospital! I think that’s the beauty of hypnobirthing you can do as much or as little as you like – whatever helps you change you mindset.

I guess I just wanted to say thank you for making this incredible life event a truly empowering experience!