My Birth Story


My hypnobirthing journey began when I discovered I was pregnant with my second baby. My first labour had been a scary experience, and I felt totally unprepared when I went into labour at 41+3 weeks. I knew I wanted it to be different this time, so I completed my teacher training whilst 30 weeks pregnant and it changed how I thought about birth completely. I went from being an avid hospital birth fan, to thinking a home birth would suit our family perfectly this time. I did my research on the benefits and the risks associated to a home birth and was surprised to find out that it was actually a safe environment to have a baby in so long as mother and baby were well both before and during labour, and support was in place. I imagined being in the comfort of my home and welcoming our new arrival in peace and tranquillity. Baba, however, had other ideas!

I had an induction at 36+2 weeks due to intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). I had been monitored weekly from 32 weeks with doppler scans and ultrasounds. While they never commented on there being an issue with the cord blood flow, they were concerned that baba’s weight was tailing off the bottom centile. I’ll always remember that it was on the Wednesday at my 36-week appointment that I watched in dismay as they plotted the weight on the ultrasound scan, and immediately knew that the weight was below where we wanted it to be. The consultant suggested an induction on the Thursday or Friday that week. Although I knew this was always a possibility, I had convinced myself that everything would be fine so I sat in shock that I had gone from believing that our second baby would arrive in December to suddenly realising it would be at the start of November! We hadn’t organised anything for baba’s arrival. We franticly dug out our moses basket and some tiny baby clothes, attempting to get our heads around the change of plan. I was also torn as I wondered if he was on the small side but also healthy, as my daughter Penny had been a bit wee (6lb 3oz) when she arrived through spontaneous labour. I anxiously considered whether they should consider delaying an induction longer to see if the growth would pick up. The consultant felt that baba would cope better during labour at 36 weeks rather than delaying which would make labour harder on him if he remained small. We considered the information available about IUGR and we decided that it was best to go ahead with the induction.

Although it wasn’t the circumstances we had hoped for, we managed to make it a positive experience and I truly believe that that was due to using hypnobirthing. We spent our last morning with Penny taking her to the park and she chatted about baba as she pointed to my belly. She happily went off to her grandparents on the Thursday afternoon and we spent the rest of the day getting ready for hospital. It was a mixture of anxiety, excitement and disbelief knowing that our baby was going to be born the next day. We felt so emotional being away from our little girl too.

I had made a detailed birth plan for a home birth which I then had to adapt for a hospital birth. I had wanted to use the birthing pool however it was the hospital policy not to use the pool at 36 weeks due to monitoring the baby. So, no pool for me. I was disappointed but accepted that it wasn’t meant to be. We rocked up at 8am on Friday morning and were shown to our room. I’ll admit it didn’t fill me with joy as it was the opposite of what I had imagined but here we were and it was up to us to make it work for us. We went in armed with fake candles, my KG CD, affirmations, scripts to read and loads of food and entertainment. We hoped that it might be a quick labour and envisaged that we could be home complete with baba to watch the new series of Still Game that evening!! It quickly became obvious that this baby was in no hurry to come out to play!

My first internal examination was carried out… I wasn’t looking forward to this. I can’t imagine anyone jumps with joy at the prospect! I had hoped to avoid examinations so we discussed that they would only do them if necessary. The consultant had hoped to rupture the amniotic membrane to encourage labour but I was given gel to soften the cervix as there were no signs of it being ready. Skip forward 6 hours and numerous trips to the on-site café and all was quiet other than the odd gentle surge. The membranes were ruptured at this point…all remained relatively quiet. I tried using the birthing ball to get into a good upright position but my surges felt more powerful when I was semi-reclined on the bed. I was surprised at this but I went with what felt right for my body. I listened to the CD with Katherine’s voice many times over the day which felt familiar and comforting as we had listened to it every night for the past 6 weeks as we went to sleep. I focused on my “up” breathing and used visualisations to go with this whenever I felt a surge. I saw birds flying into the sky and the upward feeling of this worked for me! It felt manageable and I didn’t need any further pain relief. This contrasted with my previous labour as I had found the surges unmanageable quite quickly. I had panicked and didn’t know how to handle the sensation. Having a good understanding of what my body was doing made all the difference to psyche. I felt that oxytocin flow!

We watched Anchorman 2 to pass the time. (NB. I do not recommend a Will Ferrell comedy while midwives are coming in and out of the room! His use of language can be pretty embarrassing as I’m sure you can imagine if you have watched any of his films!!) We listened to a lot of 90’s radio. I felt really chilled listening to it. My favourite moment was breathing through a surge while “Creep” by Radiohead was playing and having a laugh with the midwife about our music choice. Ladies and gentlemen, this is how the Stranges do hypnobirthing!

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Labour continued to progress very slowly and concerns were growing for baba’s ability to cope, so the syntocinon drip was introduced. Another intervention I had hoped to avoid. I entertained some gas and air during examinations as I found them particularly uncomfortable (although I did quite enjoy that drunk feeling accompanied by the giggles). However, I found that I managed the surges much better without it even when they were incredibly powerful when the hormone dosage was increased to its maximum. I continued throughout the night and into the wee hours of the morning, yet still baba Strange held off from gracing us with his presence.

A further examination at 8am showed that my cervix was 3cm dilated and the monitoring of baba indicated that he was becoming distressed which led to me being prepped for a caesarean section. The surges were almost continuous by this point and I suddenly felt the strong urge to push which I could not stop. I got pretty vocal at this point and I won’t go into my other bodily functions! In the short space of time from consenting to a caesarean to being introduced to around 40 members of staff (ok, that’s a slight exaggeration, it was right in the middle of the staff changeover but I was introduced to a lot of staff) and being given an epidural, the cervix was fully dilated. We were offered the chance to go back to the delivery ward to deliver without further assistance. We felt baba had had enough, we were both exhausted and didn’t want to risk him becoming distressed again and so he was delivered with “gentle forceps”. I use this term as the obstetrician said it was a “beautiful, gentle forceps delivery”. Everything was so clear this time, I felt in control and able to discuss my options with the obstetricians, I met so many faces in theatre and could talk clearly. I apologise to the nurse whose hand I crushed during a surge!

We had not known the sex of baba and it was a beautiful moment when little Louis was lifted up to greet us. We finally met our boy at 9.06am on the 5th of November 2016 weighing in at 5lb 5oz. A small boy but what he lacked in size he made up for in volume! A quiet boy he is not! We spent the rest of the day getting to know him and it was an unforgettable moment when he met his big sister that afternoon. She cuddled and kissed her “baba“ and has adored him ever since. He is a lucky boy having her to look out for him.

I am so grateful to have learned about hypnobirthing and experienced it during labour. I am certain that it made a huge difference to my state of mind and I managed the surges so effectively with the breathing techniques. Our society can be so negative towards labour, we hear that it will be frightening experience, it will hurt and it will be rather traumatic in some way. I have heard many negative birth stories (my own first experience included), that we have no control over our decisions and I hear the phrase “they don’t let you” a lot. I have been introduced to a world where it is a positive beautiful experience, women are educated about how to use the mind effectively in labour and to take control of their body. Using and adapting hypnobirthing to suit your own circumstances is empowering. We need more positivity in this world and I feel lucky to be a part of passing that knowledge onto other parents.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the midwifery team at NHS Forth Valley who I met both throughout my pregnancy and during labour. Thank you for always listening, taking the time to chat to me and helping me feel safe when I was at my most vulnerable. You guys are amazing. Also thank you to the obstetric team and theatre staff, I appreciated all you did for us.
Finally thank you to my rock Jim. You kept me sane, you came to endless antenatal appointments with me and you supported me all the way. You gave me encouragement when I introduced you to hypnobirthing and I am so glad that it helped you too as I know how worried you were first time round. We went into it this time with our eyes opened. Life now has never been busier, I’m knackered ALL the time but can’t think of a better reason to be than seeing our babies develop and grow into awesome wee people every day.

Chickenpox and stomach bugs…the week we fell “fowl” to both!

This has been a week where I’ve been “extreme” mothering! After spending the majority of the previous week snowed in at home due to the crazy weather, we were so relieved to get the kids outside last Sunday. Normality (or as close as for us Stranges) had resumed! Little did we know that the following week would be spent cleaning vomit off the rug, soothing hours and hours of crying, rubbing cream into spots and not sleeping for 2 solid nights. At. All. Oh, and throw into the mix that we both ended up ill too.
So the week started with the rug being covered in vomit. The really stinky kind which requires an immediate hose down in the bath for the child, a complete change of clothes for me and a rug may never the be same again. The poor wee man was quiet and lethargic but cuddles seemed to be doing the trick. I could handle that. I had this sorted.
Moving onto bedtime baths, I noticed a blister on Penny’s belly. Had I nipped her wee skin when I put her in the car seat? Then I looked again…hmm, that looks like… oh shit, yeah that’s definitely chickenpox. Her back was already covered. She didn’t seem too bothered so I hoped for the best and she slept like normal. Wednesday arrived and it really kicked in. She was covered from her scalp, all the way down to her feet. By now, she wasn’t feeling too great and I soothed her with baths and cream. I held her as she cried and really felt her pain. Alongside this, Louis cried and cried and cried. For hours. He cried all morning, had a nap and cried for another few hours in the afternoon.
This is when it’s at it’s hardest. When both kids need their mummy and I’ve got them on my own while their dad is at work. It’s draining. I feel crap for them and want to make it better. I decided to spend the night with Penny on the sofa-bed. She couldn’t sleep. She wriggled, she cried, she wanted me to rub her sores, she needed cuddles. She watched Puffin Rock. Oh, we watched an awfy lot of Puffin Rock, which considering there are only two series, is a hell of a lot of repetition. I actually like it, but def need a break for a while! Thankfully we avoided Peppa Pig as I can’t stand the morals of that show! It seriously grates on my nerves! Penny recites the Gruffalo’s Child book so we’re now great friends with the big, bad mouse. We have the “GruffaFro” and the “GruffaHo” cats aka Frodo and Homer, who also go under the aliases as the big, bad cats. We re-enacted the book with her toys. I said Peppa failed her audition as the Gruffalo’s Child, however, the director overruled my decision and the pig was given the role. She was atrocious… obviously. Have I mentioned that I’m not a fan?

 

Louis had been fine until suppertime. I saw the gag, I placed a bowl in front of him which he whipped away as he barfed all over the floor! I caught the rest and watched in horror as the bowl filled to the brim. It was all over me again. My freshly bathed child was covered. He was on my knee. The door was closed and I had to manoeuvre the bowl of dread and him. I couldn’t open the door with both in my arms. The contents slopped onto the floor. The child became more covered in vomit. I yelled out in disgust and dismay. Finally, I got it open and discarded the contents without further mishap. Meanwhile, Penny watched on while continuing to eat her supper, ah to be young and care-free!
Night two was as bad as the first, though I think I got a glorious hour between 10-11pm. It’s funny how you obsess with the hours of sleep when you’re not getting any! By this point, I couldn’t rest even when she did as all I could think about was how sick I felt! It reminded me of my morning sickness, it was dreadful. Made worse by the wee one’s constant needs of drinks, toilet, pains and wriggling. Daddy was the same. We both felt awful.
My hypnobirthing breathing techniques have come in very handy this week on a number of occasions I can tell ya! A lot of mindfulness has been required too.
My lovely parents came to the rescue on day 3 with food supplies and medicine. They wore face masks (they didn’t) but we were so grateful to them for coming. We finally saw a glimmer of light. The kids were perking up, the spots were crusting over and the feelings of nausea were gradually reseeding. The last few nights have been much better. Though, I’ve still been up since 4.30am as Louis has decided he won’t sleep. (there’s that time obsession again!) But that’s being a mum. Always on call, I sometimes need to physically drag myself out of bed but I do it. I’m not always calm, sometimes I cry, sometimes I’m grumpy but always I love them and I’m always there to rub those spots, clean that vomit, wipe those tears and cuddle, kiss and tell them how much I love them.
I wrote this post with the intention of posting it on Mother’s Day, however, I ended up falling asleep with my girl! My fav part of the day was when she turned around to me and said “Happy Mother’s Day, mummy”, out of the blue. Aw, I thought, how sweet!! Then she told me to go away, threw a box of rice crispies all over the floor and chucked the cat’s toy mouse down the toilet. Kids eh!

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This is a representation of the rice crispies incident. This is a previous cereal trashing of the living room!

I hope all you mums out there were reminded of how special you are to your wee (or not so wee) people. A special thanks to my mum for always being there for us, we love you lots!
xxx

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Why having someone to guide you through hypnobirthing is such a good thing!

I want to give you as much information as I can about hypnobirthing as I know that with so many important decisions to be made throughout your pregnancy, you want to make sure your investing you time and your money wisely. After reading this post, you’ll  have a better understanding of what I teach and know why having someone to guide you through the course is such a good thing!

Hypnobirthing is a complete antenatal programme which teaches mums and dads the physiology of a woman’s body during labour and childbirth, the relationship between the mind and body an how to apply relaxation techniques using hypnosis. It enables a woman to work with her body, which is naturally designed to give birth, and to replace fear with a calm confidence.
When calm, her body produces the hormone oxytocin, which helps her uterine muscles work more effectively and efficiently. Oxytocin triggers the production of endorphins, which are often referred to as nature’s pain relief, so the body is perfectly designed to give birth efficiently and comfortably; the perfect system is already in place.
It promotes natural childbirth with less need for medical intervention (as and where appropriate) which is empowering for both mother and father in helping them make informed decisions throughout labour.
Hypnobirthing aims to create a calm and peaceful environment for welcoming a new baby into the world and is therefor beneficial for mummy, daddy and baby too. The essence of hypnobirthing is to do with the mindset, where the mind goes the body follows. The two are so closely linked which is why hypnobirthing is so effective as we tap into the subconscious brain to help release any fears associated with childbirth. This is where it differs from other antenatal programmes. When our thoughts are positive, the body responds really well. It’s not so much about having the perfect birth since we don’t know how each labour will progress but it’s about how you feel about it. It’s a powerful set of techniques, which alongside the in-depth information about the physical process of labour enables a women to have a sense of control of her birth experience. How you feel about your birth experience matters and hypnobirthing provides you with techniques which will have a positive impact. This is backed up by the science of what happens to our bodies when we experience either negative or positive emotions both during labour and in general.

I’m so passionate about helping women to realise just how amazing and strong they are when they have a baby!
The basics of hypnosis is that it’s a natural state of mind between being awake and asleep which we all experience on a daily basis. An example is when you drive your car to the shop and when you get there you can’t really remember the journey because your mind was elsewhere! You’ve still been aware but your subconscious has taken care of the skills needed for driving and has allowed you to think of other things. I guide you to learn how to practice self-hypnosis by using scripts which use visualisations to essentially “talk” more directly to the subconscious. It’s really relaxing!
I usually suggest that couples do the workshop between 20-30 weeks as this give plenty of time for practicing the techniques. Practice really makes a difference as the subconscious needs lots of repetition as it doesn’t respond in the same way as our conscious “logical” brain. This is why it’s so important to surround yourself with positive messages, especially in relation to childbirth. The subconscious will believe the thoughts you have if they are repeated consistently. This is why hypnosis is so effective in the treatment of habits and fears. The subconscious is a primal protective system, it’s like an alarm which is set off if we feel threatened in any way. All of life’s experiences are stored there. That’s why we can’t recall everything, it’s like a filing system. As soon as it perceives a threat, whether real or imagined, the alarm goes off and the body goes into freeze-fight-flight. This fear response is called the sympathetic nervous system. Adrenalin is released as the body prepares to take action. It’s a super effective system which humans evolved to protect them from threatening situations. It’s incredibly useful and almost instant, in fact sometimes it feels like we react before we have had the thought! Unfortunately the other side to this is that it can overreact to situations, even if there is no immediate peril. Fortunately, us clever humans have found ways to access the subconscious and change the messages it believes, if they are not serving a useful purpose.
The hypnobirthing workshops are aimed at women who want to take a deep-dive into how the mind and body work together in childbirth and learn how to apply the techniques, however they choose to birth their baby. It’s an amazing course, and I’m not exaggerating when I tell you it’s changed my life! It helped me immensely when I had Louis and has done since he was born too! And with so many mums going on to teach hypnobirthing after they have experienced it first-hand, it’s a pretty good review of how effective it is! Although you can have success by learning hypnobirthing yourself, I believe you will get the best out of it by having someone to guide you through it. I thought I could do it by myself in my first pregnancy but I discovered that I didn’t really invest myself mentally in it. I didn’t commit to really understanding it and I didn’t have anyone to talk to about the questions I had. I knew I wasn’t going to let that happen the second time round and I’m incredibly grateful that I followed my instinct to do the course. You can find out more and read Louis’s birth story here.
So hopefully you know have a better understanding of what hypnobirthing can do for you. If you come along to my workshops you will receive a parent handbook, a KG hypnobirthing book, hypnosis MP3 for listening to at home and ongoing support following the class. I want to make sure that you get the most out of your hypnobirthing experience so I will be available to answer your questions, point you in the right direction or chat if you need someone to listen.
It’s a decision you will always be thankful that you took!
Kirsty xhypno-affirmation-relax
Find out about available dates here!

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

x

Merry Christmas!! There’s something about Mary…

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a prosperous 2018!

2017 has been a such a busy year! It started with me trying to figure out how to juggle being a mum of two, I started my business, moved house and it’s ended with me still figuring out how to be a mum of two! I’m now doing a job I love and finally have a great family home.  I’m sure I’ll figure out the rest at some point!

I have been so lucky to have met many amazing mummies and daddies-to-be and their blossoming bumps. It’s such an honour to be involved in your pregnancy journey and I wish you all the very best with welcoming your wee bundles into the world!

I’ve also been very fortunate to have met and worked alongside a number of businesses who have helped me develop my business ideas, provided stock and oened the venues which I’ve used. I hope you all have a fantastic year ahead and I love seeing how well you’re all doing!

There’s a wee story which goes around at Christmas time about a certain baby being born. Mary wanted to find a safe place to have her baby. She chose a stable and had her husband with her. She found a quiet, safe place and was surrounded by love.

In hypnobirthing we talk about the effect of being observed during labour. Birth is instinctive and the mother needs to feel safe when she’s at her most vulnerable. Her environment is vital to her experience. We see this on the animal world, cats seek out a quiet, dark place and want to be alone to birth their young. It’s a point worth considering when you plan your birth environment. Whether at home, in the birth centre or on labour ward, here are a few things to consider.

You can ensure the lighting is low by drawing the blinds or curtains, and using candles to create a peaceful atmosphere. I bought battery candles which worked a treat. You might enjoy scents such as lavender. Bring some items from home if you’re in hospital such as pillows or items of clothing which are familiar brings feelings of comfort. Music can be really powerful. I listened to a 90’s radio station during my second labour, it brought back great memories of my younger days and I found it really helpful. When I hear the songs now it takes me back to that moment in my life and triggers a really happy memory of giving birth.

Also, plenty of food and drink is important to keep up your strength. Staying in your own environment for as long as you can is also a good idea as this can help labour progress nicely. Be surrounded by the person or people that make you feel safe, that can talk on your behalf when you need them too and who love you.

By feeling safe in your space you’ll be able to release the oxytocin hormone and endorphins. Oxytocin is essential for the dilation of the cervix and endorphins provide a natural pain relief. This can all help lead to a more positive birthing experience.

So I hope that everyone is able to take some time out this Christmas to relax, unwind and recharge. I know 2018 is going to be such an exciting year for many of the mums I know and I can’t wait to hear about your new arrivals!

I’m taking the next week off to spend some quality time with my family, travel up north for a wedding and hopefully squeeze in a long-lie!

Take care and I look forward to being back in 2018, I can’t wait to see where it takes us all!

 

With love,

Kirsty

x

Motherhood and working-from-home… just how easy is it to combine the two?

This week I’m writing about my experience of working-from-home and being a mum! I’ve found pros and cons of doing both. Here’s what I’ve learned so far…

What led me to Hypnobirthing

This isn’t my first venture into the work of self-employment. It’s something I’ve always had a desire to do but finding the right thing for me was a journey. I tried MLM businesses but I never felt comfortable in my choices. I’m not knocking them, as I know many of them are really decent companies which, make a difference to the people who use their products and those who run successful businesses through them. I decided it wasn’t for me. Next came a business with my husband. We decided on an ethical tea company. We would sell loose leaf tea and we commissioned a vintage-styled trike to be made. Our mission was to go gas and electricity free to heat our water…this was no easy feat! We actually managed it though, using a biofuel burner. But we discovered just how bloody hard it was! Using bellows to stoke the fire – yes bellows, constantly refilling and heating the water, and trying to find a suitable location to trade from was almost impossible! We ended up in front of an Edinburgh Council panel as we tried to agree on a suitable pitch! We also ended up running a small café from a city hostel. This all happened in a relatively short space of time, I quit my full-time job and found out I was pregnant!  I look back on that period of my life and think I was a bit nuts however it showed that we both had the drive and commitment to follow through with our ideas! Looking back on it I see how naïve we were but we learned so much, I’m a huge believer in living life with no regrets so I’m always grateful for the experience.

It is said that to run a successful business, you will probably fail a number of times until you find the right fit for you. So I’ve ticked that box! It was after Penny was born that I looked into Hypnobirthing. Initially I wanted to learn it for my own birthing experience but as I looked into it I realised I would enjoy teaching it and so I took the plunge and booked a course. My previous training of hypnotherapy had sparked an interest in hypnobirthing but life can have a funny way of taking you in a different direction and then bringing you back at the right time. I decided to use my past experiences and to make a real go of it. During my training there was a voice in my head saying YES, THIS IS IT. I knew straight away when I did my nursing training that it wasn’t the right fit for me, this time I was on the right path.

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Self-employed versus employee

There are the obvious benefits of working for a company. You are guaranteed working hours, pay, workplace benefits and that provides security in family life. You also go to a workplace. I’m guaranteed none of these. For many people, that would be too big a risk. However, I faced redundancy when I was a nurse. I always remember that my dad once said “You’ll always be guaranteed work if you’re a nurse” It has always stuck with me that there are no certainties when it comes to work no matter the industry, so I decided to follow my passion so that I could make a positive difference to as many families as I could. And so my hypnobirthing journey began…

It can be difficult to explain to people what it’s like being a work-from-home mum. I don’t get to go out to a workplace every day, chat to colleagues or work face-to-face with clients. It’s something I miss. I’ve been fortunate in my career to have worked with some amazing people, had many a laugh and I have very fond memories of the places where I’ve worked . There are some days where I don’t get to have an adult conversation until Jim gets home and the kids are in bed. My verbal diarrhoea can be quite explosive! Don’t get me wrong, I love being with my kids but it’s a very long day entertaining, teaching, managing their behaviour and also trying to prevent the house from falling into a state of chaos. I mostly give up as I watch them pull out every toy in the room, and throw a tub of crayons or empty an entire bag of cotton wool balls all over the floor! My husband works shifts so I spend a lot of evenings doing the tea-bath-bed routine myself. It’s quite a chunk of the day! I’m pretty good at managing my time with them now and getting them to bed early. Routine is hugely important in our house and I usually have them in their beds sleeping by 7pm. Then it’s time for me to start my working day! Even when my eyes are blood-shot, I’m severely sleep-deprived and all I want to do is sleep, I keep on pushing on. Nothing will happen if I just stop. It’s hard to switch off when you’re doing it yourself.

 

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

I love this quote which motivates me to keep going.

 

I’m writing this with my blood-shot, stinging eyes, severely sleep-deprived, late at night as it’s the first chance I’ve had to work in a few days. Both children have been unwell, I spent last night in bed with one in each arm, in and out of a delirious state of sleep deprivation as each time one settled the other woke! Having two is much harder work when you can’t guarantee peace and serenity while one is in a gentle slumber.

A lot of the work I do is in the background from developing my website, to networking, writing and preparing for courses, classes and events. It’s hard to explain to people when they ask what you’ve been up to and you say working. Other people talk of their days and share a story or two but a lot of what I say is summed up in a sentence. “I was working on my website” The end. “Just been promoting my classes, trying to get the word out”. Sometimes I wonder if I’m seen as a fraud when I say I’ve been working. Is it really working? I’ve come to realise that it’s a common theme amongst home-workers. We seem to have similar thoughts surrounding this, but I’ve gained confidence in myself to be able to say it with conviction!  It’s trying to do all of that and look after the kids that I find is my biggest challenge. There is always the threat of being taken away from any job I get engrossed in at any moment. But, again, I do it! It just might be later than when I planned. I can’t afford to make excuses so I drag myself to the computer and start typing. I could say I don’t have time, but actually I need to think whether that is the case or if it isn’t a priority. I find thinking like that really useful as it makes me focus on my priorities and not allow excuses to come into play.

My favourite aspect of my job is the I time I spend teaching. That’s my protected time, the time when I can fully focus with the certainty that I know the kids are with daddy or my family. It’s the face-to-face contact that I enjoy, the reason for doing this job. I absolutely love my job, I love meeting couples, I love talking about hypnobirthing and pregnancy, I love running my relaxation classes. I love that my daughter knows I work with ladies with babies in their tummies. I love that I’m using my skills, my brain and that I’m always looking to find out more about it to broaden my knowledge. It’s not only my chosen career but it’s also my interest so I spend time reading and learning which I guess you could classify as work but to me it doesn’t really feel like work! I’ve found my passion in life!

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Talking at a recent expectant parents event

My number one priority is and always will be being the best mum I can be to Penny and Louis. My family are amazing and I want to give us all the best experiences that I can. I’m by no means perfect. There are days I feel like an epic failure. I lose my patience, or I just want to run away from the overwhelming responsibility of it all. I can get frustrated when I don’t get a break if there’s something on my mind that I want to do. But I’m learning all the time how to manage it all better. How to manage my time, how to manage the stresses of being responsible and present for two young children. I know that the skills and knowledge I’ve gained from hypnobirthing is helping me develop all the time. Learning is a life-long path. Since starting this journey, I felt it was important to look at my personal development too so I have been focusing on that so that I can give my best to my family and to my career. It’s bringing up some pretty interesting stuff which I’m sure I’ll be talking about in future blog posts…bet you can hardly contain yourself!

Back in mum-world, my daughter recently dropped her afternoon nap, it was quite a sad moment for me as I lost a precious hour of “me” time! But it’s also an exciting time as we watch our baby blossom into a beautiful, smart wee girl who never fails to amaze us with her dazzling personality. Louis is also becoming a fabulous character, his renditions of “Twinkle, twinkle” and “Walking in the air” are most impressive for a 13 month-old baby! And he has quite a rhythm as he rocks back in forth in his high chair! He rubs my hand over his head (I am also a fan of a head-rub!) and he head-butts me for kisses! I’m so grateful that I get to witness watching these precious moments with my babies. Taking them to classes and going on fun adventures together is brilliant!

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There’s that tub of crayons…

So yes some days are hard going, and some days I don’t achieve very much. But I always make sure I achieve something, no matter how small. It all adds up to helping me realise my goals. It feels like an exciting time to be a female entrepreneur, I’m inspired on a daily basis by other women I see who are working hard to reach their potential. They’ve taught me so much too. There’s a fantastic support network out there, so sometimes if I’m feeling a bit lonely or lost with it all I reach out to the others. It always makes a difference. Running your own business is really like running a number of businesses. You have the actual core of what you do, and you can be great at it but without being able to do the other aspects of running a business well, you will fail. No doubt about it. Marketing is a massive part of it, I need my business to look appealing to my potential clients. It needs to look aesthetically pleasing, you need to really know what your talking about and how to talk to people. No one wants to see sales talk all the time. It’s not interesting and totally off-putting. Hopefully you find some of my posts interesting, I’ve actually been surprised by how easy it’s been to write! I have a load of ideas for taking my business forward which will include improving my website and social media presence, and doing some additional hypnotherapy training using an alternative method (I just didn’t feel busy enough!).

I’m so excited about 2018 and what’s in store! It feels like there is a shift going on in attitudes towards our birth experiences and I’m so happy to be part of that positive movement. Being part of helping to change the social attitude is amazing.

Thanks for taking the time to read my post, it means a lot to me! Christmas is nearly upon us so I’ll be looking forward to planning for the new year! You can check out what I’ve got coming up here.

With love, Kirsty x