My 3 top tips for positive thinking!

Hypnobirthing is all about the mind in relation to the body during childbirth. An anxious mind will create a tense body whereas a calm, focused mind will allow the body to function more efficiently.

Our thoughts are incredibly powerful in how they influence the way we feel both physically and emotionally. Sometimes we get into the habit of thinking in a negative way. It may be due to past experiences or current circumstances and it can be really damaging to our state of mind. This week I’m going to share 3 of my top tips for positive thinking.

#1 Gratitude

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This is a biggy and is a great way to think positively. Finding gratitude in everything in life helps to change your thought patterns. It takes some practice but the more you do it the easier it becomes. Try writing them down too. The act of writing help us to focus on the things we’re grateful for and this can be particularly useful when you’ve had a bad day or are going through a difficult experience. Each morning take 5-10 minutes before you start your day and write down 10 things you are grateful for today. Feeling grateful sends out positive vibes and the more you do it, the more you see things to feel grateful for.

If you’re struggling for things to feel grateful for, simply feeling grateful for being alive is a great place to start. Some examples could be:

I’m grateful for having teeth to eat food which nourishes my body and my brain.

I’m grateful for having a body which functions well so that I stay healthy and can enjoy doing activities such as walking the dog, playing with my kids, doing exercise.

I’m grateful for being able to hold my baby tonight when he woke up, even although I felt incredibly tired and enjoy the pure love and bond between us.

I’m grateful that I was able to look out into the night sky when the baby woke up as I could see the beautiful moon and stars.

I’m grateful for living in a warm home and being able to cloth my family.

I’m grateful for taking that walk and seeing the trees and that stream and breathing in the fresh air.

The list is endless! Gratitude is amazing. once you start seeing it all around you, you recognise it more and find it in places you didn’t notice or were consciously aware of before.

#2 Listen to music

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Music is massively powerful. Our subconscious mind stores everything we experience in our lives. We can’t recall everything but we can trigger positive emotions depending on what we expose ourselves to. We all have our favourite music that we listen to. It makes us smile, sing, dance, laugh. It fills us with joy. It triggers happy memories. Music is all around us. Relaxation music is great and this will help you feel good but any music at all that makes you feel happy and triggers those happy thoughts will really brighten even a dark day. You can also hear it in nature. Birds, animals, the trees, the wind. When you open you ears and allow yourself to really listen, you can hear it.

When I was in labour with Louis we found a 90’s radio station to listen to. I LOVED it! I had so many happy memories of being younger and I felt so relaxed when I listened to it. I loved a lot of indie music, I loved going to gigs, singing, dancing so when these great tunes came on they reminded me of good times from the past. We laughed about my love of Oasis and PJ and Duncan and remembering seeing them both! Though unfortunately not at get same time! We laughed when Radiohead’s “Creep” came on, it seemed so daft to be in the background while I was having a surge! When we listened to the same station a few months ago, I felt great again as I remembered the birth experience. It’s powerful stuff!

#3 Do something positive for yourself each day

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It’s easy to get caught up in the busy routine of life. Whether it’s working, looking after family or experiencing a difficult period in your life, it can be hard to take time to look after yourself. We can be hard on ourselves as we try to serve everyone else or focus on those around us before thinking of ourselves. It’s vital that we look after ourselves. You matter, you’re absolutely worth it. You’ll also struggle to look after/support/care for those around you if you don’t look after yourself.

This one is really easy to implement as there’s an abundance of wee treats you can do for yourself. Join a class or group of something which interests you. Read a funny, touching or hopeful story. Watch a comedy. Enjoy a bath with your favourite scent. Make a hot drink and spent 15 minutes enjoying it mindfully. Go for a walk. Chat to a friend. Enjoy a meal with your loved ones. Be conscious about ensuring you do at least one positive thing every day. You deserve it.

Try implementing these 3 tips into your daily routine and see if you start to notice a difference. Positive thinking really is addictive!

Do you have any tips you would like to share? Post them in the comments below.

The value in preparing for childbirth.

Congratulations! You’re pregnant!

What was that moment like for you? Who were you with and what did you do when you found out?

I remember being pretty sure that I was pregnant so I decided one Saturday morning to get up early and pop down to the chemist for a test. I’ll never forget that moment when I saw two lines! For a brief time I was the only person in the world who knew I was pregnant! What a feeling! Nothing had changed for anyone else but my life had just changed forever. I went through to my husband who was still sleeping and told him the news. That was one way to wake him up! We both lay on the bed for a while in disbelief. Then the anxiety crept in. “What if we can’t do this”? “Our lives won’t be the same”! “How will we manage”? We chatted for a while and we saw the smiles grow as we chatted and we ended on high fives with “Let’s do this” and “We’re not going to let having a baby change us”! Woo!

So we got excited, I got nauseous and we hid our amazing secret for a few weeks. The scan I had at 12 weeks confirmed I was indeed pregnant and it started to feel much more real. We now had 6 months to get ready for this baby arriving. We carefully researched what pram and car seat to get. What kind of parents we would be, what equipment we needed (or were told we needed) and imagined how easy this baby gig was going to be!

 

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Waving hello!

 

There was a glaring omission from my prep work…. childbirth. Yip, I was not going to think about that at all. It was going to happen but there wasn’t much point in thinking about it as it wasn’t going to be pleasant and you didn’t know what would happen, right? As we got further down the line I allowed myself to watch One Born Every Minute. A lot. I didn’t like the look of it much, though the sight of the babies got my hormones raging. I went to the antenatal classes offered through my health centre, spoke to people I knew and I read some horror stories online. That was me prepped. The antenatal classes had some useful info but I can’t remember much about them to be honest.

I got to around 38 weeks and the real anxiety sank in. I became obsessed with wondering if I was in labour, I desperately wanted to know “how will I know”?! I felt irritated that no one seemed to be able to tell me. I became fearful of leaving the house myself incase I went into labour and had the baby on the bus or street! Every twinge had me wondering if this was it. My due date came and I was sure labour would start on the dot at midnight. It came and went. So did the following week. By now I was barely getting out of bed, other than to freak myself out with more births on tv. I  consented to a sweep, just get this baby out! My lovely midwife didn’t manage and it was so uncomfortable. I wanted her to try again despite this. She did and was still unable to do the sweep. Next, I was offered an induction. With absolutely no thought about what that meant I eagerly accepted. I had heard it could be more painful but I didn’t really know more than that. It was arranged for 11 days after my due date.

Perhaps knowing that this was booked allowed me to relax a little as labour started spontaneously the day before. I very quickly went into panic mode. I found the contractions painful and didn’t know what to do with myself. I wanted to go into hospital but they advised paracetamol and a warm bath. Neither helped, I felt too anxious and afraid. Eventually I was admitted around 7 hours after my first contractions. I cried a lot, was sick and begged for pain relief. I was wheeled through to the birthing centre and was given some drugs at last! They helped a little but I lay down and tried not move. Any movement triggered a contraction and I’d rather avoid those thank you very much!

Once the drugs had worn off I went into the pool. It felt a bit better. I sucked on gas and air like my life depended on it. I growled at the midwife when she asked me to get out of the pool, insisting that I pee or I would be catheterised! I never thought about this until I was writing this blog and I can’t quite believe she said it. I had to check with Jim that I didn’t imagine it! The water was the only place I felt relief. Knowing what I know now, I was removed from a feeling of comfort at a time when I was struggling and there was no medical reason for doing so. Perhaps it would have made a difference had I remained undisturbed. This is something we focus in in hypnobirthing.

 

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Not looking too happy here

 

I had the special bonus of an ovarian cyst which Penny was pressing against. Flash forward to being told it was a “failure to progress”, baby’s heart rate dipping and me being asked to consent to forceps or a possible C-section. I was unsympathetically told to calm down as I screamed in agony at the obstetrician giving me an examination. The added pain of the cyst was unbearable but there was no acknowledgement of this. I was whisked to theatre, given an epidural and our gorgeous daughter Penny was delivered by forceps and weighing in at 6lb 6oz. It was over and as I held my daughter I felt an amazing rush of love. I was so glad she was safe and in my arms at last. I did however feel a little stunned from the experience. I then went to the post-natal ward and my parents turned up shortly afterwards shouting my name in the ward trying to find us! Bless, they had been anxious too!

I spent two nights trying to figure out breastfeeding and how to deal with this little person who needed me to take care of her every need. I was shouted at for pulling the curtain around us during the day by an over-zealous support worker as I wanted to nap and apparently you don’t do that on the ward in the day as they need to be able to see you… I wasn’t even told that they wanted me to remain the second night until I asked later on in the day. There certainly didn’t seem to be any choice and no conversation took place about the pros and cons of staying or going home.

So I’m guessing that if I could go into this as unprepared as I was, that other women will do too. I don’t believe that “no one can prepare you for labour”. Those of us who are passionate about educating women are going out there to do just that. You definitely can prepare yourself. It’s true that we don’t know what will happen in labour but you can certainly prepare by arming yourself with knowledge and techniques to help you.

When else in life would we go into something and do no prep work beforehand? You’d prep for a job interview, for an exam or before stepping into a car. Think of all the research that goes into picking the best child car seat, best pram, breastfeeding or bottle feeding and can you see where I’m going with this?

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It’s sad that we can put so little faith into having a positive birth experience that we don’t take the time to really look into it. I knew when I was pregnant the second time that I wanted to be more informed and that’s when I looked seriously into hypnobirthing. I’m not exaggerating when I say it has changed my life. I’m so grateful for doing the course and teaching it to others is just amazing. I’m part of a movement which is empowering women to become knowledgable and assert their rights to have a more positive experience.

There was so much I didn’t know the first time. I had no idea how my hormones worked with the uterine muscles and that by being relaxed my body would work much more effectively. No idea that simple breathing techniques would help me avoid using drugs for pain relief. No idea of the benefits of delayed cord clamping. No idea of trying to be gently active prior to labour and in early labour. No idea of the effects on labour of being observed. I can’t believe how naive I was when I look back. I wanted a drug-free, natural birth but didn’t have a clue how best to try and put this into practice and I didn’t do my homework. In contrast with my first labour experience, my second was drug-free as I found the breathing technique amazingly helpful. It was an induction for intrauterine growth restriction and I’ve written about it in a previous blog post here if you would ke to read how hypnobirthing helped me. The medicals involved in our care were fantastic and were a great example of what the support should be.

So please think about what birth preparation means to you. The birth of your child is an amazing life experience. I’ll bet it’s the biggest thing that will happen in your life. You’ll always remember it. I’ve heard many women recount their birth experiences and I’ve heard the hurt and pain that it’s caused. Some go as far as never want to experience birth again. Looking after your mental health prior to birth can help towards preventing mental health issues post-partum.

There are lots of educational options available, I’m passionate about hypnobirthing because I know it works and I also like the practical side of it. It’s evidence-based and everything clicked into place once I had the information that I needed to know. So yes, we don’t know what will happen during labour but we can understand the process of labour at a deeper level and we can understand how our mind and body work together. We can carefully consider our preferences and have more confidence if events take place that we need medical support in. I think there is so much value in that.

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Here are a few books by some amazing authors who will help get you thinking about birth in a different way:

Katharine Graves – The Hypnobirthing Book

Michael Odent – Primal Health

Ina May Gaskin – Ina May’s guide to childbirth

Sarah Buckley – Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering

Milli Hill – Positive Birth Book

 

 

Ready for a positive start to 2018? This week it’s all about where the mind leads, the body follows. Plus a wee adventure up North…

Happy new year to you all! I hope the festive period has been one of rest, happiness and love. 2018 is here and can’t wait to see what it brings for us all! It’s exciting to see that there are lots of babies set to join us this year!

I’ve been feeling in a reflective mood during the holidays, I thought a lot about the past year and am feeling good about what I’ve achieved work-wise and also in my personal life. 2017 was a good year for our family, it’s been challenging but amazing watching my two kids grow and change every day, we moved house and I have been doing a lot of personal growth which has been so important for me to move forward as a mother, a wife, friend and in my business. Work-wise has been amazing! I launched my website, started working with the most amazing women and their partners and have started blogging! The end of the year saw us decide on a low-key Christmas and we went up to the north of Scotland to celebrate a good friend’s wedding. It was great fun! I quickly must tell you of the joys of travelling with two small children before I move onto the power of the mind!

We set off on Boxing Day armed with toys, lots and lots of food and very cute outfits for our trip up north. It was due to be around a 3 hour journey. The first 2 hours consisted of the Disney karaoke cd of “Let it Go” on repeat…no lyrics just the music. If we weren’t quick enough to put it on again before the Lion King started, we were quickly and sharply reminded of our error. Combined with this was the singing, light-up Frozen Elsa doll that Santa brought. It was a special delight to hear Elsa sign “Let it Go” just out of time to the cd every time she was pressed! Penny is actually awesome at singing it so it did amuse us to hear her belt it out in the car!

We had 3 road-side pee stops in quick succession and a near-miss tantrum in the House of Bruar. She was persuaded to come out of the building without going all slippery like an eel when I carried her thanks to some pretty lights in the trees and the moon shining! It was pretty heavy snow by the time we neared Inverness and pitch black but the car was lit up by Elsa’s magical light-up dress and the cold never bothered us anyway. We arrived at our hotel in the early evening with fanciful thoughts of settling the kids in bed, getting a take-away and watching a film on the telly before enjoying a peaceful slumber… Skip to 4 hours later with two over-tired crying children on my lap refusing any offer of cuddles from daddy and a late night trip out in the car with Penny to help her come down off the ceiling with excitement, and our dreams of quick food and tv in bed were shattered. We spent most of the night with a restless toddler in the bed and an early morning wake up “quack quack” from Louis.

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Spot the Penny

We entertained them at soft play, watched her dust the entire floor in Dobbies with a hand-held duster that she found (complete with her own swooshing sound effects) and picked her off the floor while she did the slippery eel impression while waiting to pay for shopping. Then it was off to the wedding! Another floor met Penny’s back in the church and she desperately wanted to join the “boy in the kilt” who was the bride’s nephew and part of the ceremony procession. Daddy decided they would watch from the window in the snow and I pacified Louis with a chocolate biscotti as we desperately tried to not to be the disruptive family! He joined me complete with a biscuit-covered face (it was that or risk a huge tantrum if I cleaned it!) as I participated in a hand-fasting. This is a lovely Celtic tradition, and I was so touched to be asked! It was an amazing ceremony and we then all enjoyed a party for the rest of the evening. Penny absolutely loved it and danced her wee socks off all evening go with her new friends. Louis loved the buffet most of all, even got asked his age at the bar and clapped along to Auld Lang Syne. We ventured back to the Hotel at the end of the night with two sleepy but happy kids and we all rested much better that night!

Louis isn’t quite 14 months yet both Jim and I heard him say clearly “I want a cuddle” while we were away as he came over to me for a cuddle!! It was amazing! It reminded us of the time we waved at our cat and he waved his paw back at us with a confused expression on his face! Swear to you that happened! Back to Louis’s cool achievement (sorry Frodo, that was your moment of attention) and he has a few things he says now such as “What’s this” with a pointing finger and “I did it” and “Choo choo”. His favourite word though is definitely “quack quack” He truly does the most excellent duck impression. Both my kids are also fab wee singers. Tinkle twinkle little star, Walking in the Air and Tommy Thumb are just a few ones of their ever expanding repertoire. I read that happy kids sing so that makes me feel good as they both sing A LOT!

Our return journey home the next day was much quieter though the highlight was the desperate cry from the back of the car of “I want to poo in a puddle!” which I can confirm did not take place. We did manage to stop off at a cafe in the snow to build a snowman and hear Penny proclaim her love of snow “cos it’s white” and all felt good in the world.

So it was a great adventure with many happy memories and we can’t wait for more long car journeys with these two! It was certainly a great opportunity to put some positive mindset work into practice…

In hypnobirthing we talk about where the mind goes the body follows. If you are currently pregnant and have any anxieties about childbirth then considering this statement is a great place to start.

Whenever we experience a threat or a perceived threat – the mind thinks it, our bodies immediately react. It’s the freeze-flight-fight response. Our body freezes as it prepares to either flee the situation or fight it. We experience a faster heart rate, it may be harder to breath, skin may prickle, and your stomach may flip and you may even feel nauseous. It’s an amazing reaction and is really quick too. The body releases adrenalin, it’s an instinctive reaction and is there to protect us. Unfortunately our brains can sometimes overreact to situations. Any past experiences we have had or heard about are stored in the subconscious part of our brain. I like to think of it as our personal memory card. We may not be in actual danger but sometimes the rational part of our brain ceases to function and instinct takes over.

The great news is the mind and body works together. in a positive way too! Remember those first dates you went on when you were falling in love? The excitement you thought about seeing your new partner – the mind leading, and the physical effects on your body? A quickened heart rate, altered breathing, butterflies… Quite similar physical effects when you think about it but it’s a completely different reaction and oxytocin is released. This is the feel-good hormone or “Lurve” hormone. Again it’s instinctive and when good memories are stored in our subconscious we want to replicate those feelings of love and happiness. A much more pleasant goal to aim for!

Where the mind leads, the body follows is really key in hypnobirthing. If you feel in control and relaxed, you can release oxytocin and endorphins which are vital for the uterine muscles to work effectively during labour, making the whole process potentially less painful, shorter and more efficient. You can’t release oxytocin if you release adrenalin so your mindset is hugely important.

How can this be achieved? Working on your mindset is taught in hypnobirthing. You learn about the physiology of giving birth as well as practicing hypnosis scripts which are designed to release the fears associated with childbirth. Knowledge is power and having a good understanding of what your body is doing as you birth your baby really helps with your confidence. This along with the hypnosis practice really helps you get into a positive mindset. Positive affirmations are a fab tool you can use to repeat daily mantras. The more you do this, say it, write it and read it, the more you will believe that they are true. I love a quote from Napoleon Hill which is ” Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”

“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”

So here’s some homework for you. Try thinking of some positive affirmations which you can start integrating into your life every day. See how it feels to do this and let me know in the comments if you start to feel a difference.

I’ll  give you a few examples to get you going:

I birth my baby with ease

I am relaxed and calm

I trust my body and my baby

I believe in the power of my body

Each surge brings me closer to meeting my baby

My body was designed to give birth to my baby naturally and easily

Preparing for childbirth by learning hypnobirthing is a fantastic way to help you towards having a calm, positive and natural birthing experience. It doesn’t guarantee the perfect birth, but it will help you with your mindset and it really is amazing how powerful that can be!

You can expect regular blogs from me this year, I’m looking forward to starting my next block of pregnancy relaxation classes at the end of January and I’m planning on starting group hypnobirthing classes too so if your interested in coming along and getting the year off to a really positive start please get in touch 🙂

 

Till next time!

With love,

Kirsty

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