Well done Harriet and welcome baby Emily!
"Hi Alice :)
Just wanted to email and let you know that yesterday (30:11:2016) I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy, baby girl at Helston Birth Unit; I was lucky enough to deliver in the pool as planned.
It was the most incredible experience of my life and this is mainly due to the Hypnobirthing course I did with you. I cannot recommend you and your work enough!
Labour was 12 hours from my waters breaking naturally, to baby being born and I did it all with absolutely no pain relief! I am beyond proud of what we achieved! And I can safely say before meeting you it's something I never thought possible.
Baby and I are both doing so well.
Thanks again Alice. I couldn't have done it without you!"
Well done Harriet and welcome baby Emily!
Thank you Simone... I love my job!
"Alice has given me so much confidence to feel relaxed about giving birth. I am currently 36 weeks and planning to have a natural birth in a midwife led birthing unit. The hypnobirthing sessions led by Alice created an opportunity for my partner and I to talk out loud and explore our feelings, reservations, to someone totally neutral.
After our lengthly discussions I felt my partner and I fully understood our birth plan and how we can support each other. Not only with the hypnobirthing guidance but useful tips for my partner to assist me in breathing and helping me to feel grounded and comfortable. Alice gave us her undivided attention and never seemed in a rush. I am a yoga teacher so was extremely interested in the benefits of hypnobirthing. I am yet to see if I can tune in to that mindset, positive thought process and breathing technique but for now as soon as I create space to listen to the soundtracks at home I feel profoundly different. I feel deeply connected to my body, my breath and our baby.
I would highly recommend Alice to anyone. She is professional, so welcoming and natural and has helped me immensely.
Thank you Alice - Simone Pantling, Okehampton
What a lovely message to receive from Ali in Virginia (USA) this morning! <3
"Hi Alice, like many others before me I wanted to let you know how successful my birth was using your program.
I delivered my beautiful baby boy, 8 pounds 10 ounces (22 inches) completely naturally in 6 hours. It was the most rewarding experience of my life and I felt fully prepared thanks to your course.
Although I didn't play the MP3s during labor, through each contraction I continued to tell myself "relax, release, open", "one step closer to your baby."
I did not have any anxieties going into birth and never had one during. My doctor said it was the calmest birthing room she had ever been in.
Thank you for all of your amazing work!! I feel fully prepared for any future births I may have!"
Another positive hypnobirthing story despite things not going quite to plan! Well done Vicki & Andy, welcome Rowan :)
"So here is how hypnobirthing helped me... Due to high blood pressure I was not allowed to have the water birth I wanted, and I was getting worried that I would be convinced to get induced. So on my due date I relaxed and asked my baby to come.
During some bedtime fun with my partner at around 11pm I got my first contraction! I decided to try and sleep but unfortunately the surges came thick and fast and I started to be quite sick. I was very thirsty but with every bit of water I took in it came back out! Despite this I remained really calm and relaxed and tried to breathe through each surge. I must admit I found this quite difficult due to the tightening around my tummy but I continued to do so.
We rang the midwife in the morning and she suggested we went straight to Treliske (due to my blood pressure and signs of pre-eclampsia). The car journey was tough but I remained calm and listened to my relaxing music whilst laying on the back seat. We stopped a few times so I could be sick and took our time - my partner driving carefully over any bumps!
When we got to the hospital (at around midday) the midwife thought I looked very pale so took us to a room. A urine test revealed I was very dehydrated so was put on a drip straight away.
We put on my music, I smelt the lovely frankincense oil which had a very hypnotic effect, and carried on relaxing and breathing. My partner was amazing - during pretty much every surge he pressed points on my lower back which made them bearable, and tried feeding me bits of food (I still couldn't keep anything down).
The midwives popped in every so often and always said how lovely it smelt and how well we were doing. The surges were coming every 5-10 minutes and in hindsight I wish I had walked around a bit more but I just wanted to be still on the bed.
There were some amazing moments of bonding between my partner and myself, and I had a lovely deep hot bath at around 8pm which was amazingly relaxing and really helped me to get on top of things. One affirmation I kept on repeating in my head was "its not pain its power" which really helped me get through it.
At around 11pm a midwife checked me and was surprised to find I was 8 cm dilated! She commented that there were not that many women having their first baby who got that far with only a paracetamol and very little fuss! I felt quite proud of myself and decided to have some gas and air as I thought it wouldn't be too long until baby arrived.
They took me up to delivery suite where I think the change of scene made me go a bit off-track and I started to get quite tired. I still kept up the breathing and relaxing. I had another whole night of it, and by the next morning I was still only 8cm! With my blood pressure rising and ketones in my urine it was gently suggested that I could go for an epidural and augmentation. We decided this would be the best option as I was so tired and still could not eat much. So our beautiful boy Rowan came into the world around 1pm two days past his due date, after an hour and a half of pushing. He was 8lb15 and a quarter and it was noted how calm he remained throughout the whole labour.
Although I did not have the water birth I wanted I feel Alice's hypnobirthing course and MP3's really helped me in the few months before having Rowan. I felt calm, informed and prepared.
Although the birth was tough going, there were some really lovely moments that I just don't think would have happened if I was scared or panicking.
I would recommend to anyone who is going to have a baby to do the course. Alice has a lovely calm and gentle manner which instilled a sense of ancient womanly wisdom to me that I knew was there - it just needed a little coaxing out !
Thank you Alice
Love from Vicki, Andy and baby Rowan xx
Welcome Frankie and well done Mona!
"I undertook Alice's hypnobirthing course for my first baby, a beautiful little girl who came into the world in July 2016.
Watching the videos really helped me visualise how I wanted my birth to be - which was really important to me to help me prepare.
When anyone asked me if i was nervous about the birth I would say 'No, the birth will be in the water, it will be beautiful and my baby will just pop out' - which I probably wouldn't have said if I hadn't done the hypnobirthing course!
I found the first stage of labour fine, the second was more painful but I was hugely helped by the visualisations and affirmations, and Alice was on the ipod in the background! The third stage was also manageable.
I will say that vocalising very loudly and mooing like a cow helped me (unlike the very serene women I saw in the vids), but whatever helps you is fine I guess.
My labour was far from pain free, however, without the hypno course I am unsure how I would have handled it / coped.
After the birth I realised that in fact I had delivered my first baby with no pain relief, no intervention, and without any tearing which is pretty much a miracle. And I'm certain that the course was the major factor in helping that little miracle happen.
We left the hospital the same day and I was driving and walking about the next day perfectly healthy.
Frankie, my baby, is an extremely content, happy little girl - and I firmly believe she is a product of a calm and healthy mother - one I might not be if i hadn't practised hypnobirthing.
I have already recommended the course to my friends."
Wow - an amazing picture of a mother who's just naturally birthed her 11 and a half pound baby ♥
We usually grow the perfect sized baby for our pelvis, so (just like us) they do come in all different sizes!
Reading the comments you hear the usual "ouch!" remarks... But the idea that a heavier baby leads to a less comfortable birth is a myth. If your body has the capacity and all is well, it's not necessarily any different to a smaller frame delivering a smaller babe...
Like in any other birth (regardless of a baby's weight) - having empathic, confident caregivers and adopting instinctive upright positions helps a great deal...
Image by Apple Blossom Families @vancouverbirthdoula
Is there any part of the birth process that YOU would like to explore a bit more? Post your questions in the comments, or message me if you prefer :)
Today's focus on - That moment when you can finally feel the baby's head coming out... And then it disappears back up!!
As your baby's head is about to crown, it may feel like they keep 'slipping back' after each contraction...
This helps your tissues stretch out gradually. Once your baby's head has come down far enough, they will 'crown' as their head is able to extend beneath the pubic arch at the front of your pelvis. Midwives often describe this as babies 'getting round the bend'
Once the whole of your baby's head has been born, you may be waiting a couple of minutes for the next contraction to fully deliver your baby.
Your baby's shoulders naturally rotate internally so their head turns to the side before they are born :)
- Squatting can open up the diameter of the pelvic outlet by an estimated 30% - making much easier passage for the baby.
- No need to rush! If all is well your baby will make his or her way down when their position is right and they have room.
- A panting breath can help to prevent bearing down too rapidly and possible tearing or bruising to the mother
- Reaching down to feel the progress of your baby, or looking in a mirror can be a great reassurance!
Caroline tells us about her positive hypnobirthing experience with her beautiful baby Noah last month... Congratulations and well done!
... To give some background... If mums are over 40 yrs, OBs typically offer induction around the baby's due date, because the risk of stillbirth might be increased (to 0.2%). However, other research suggests that if a mother has given birth before, there may actually be less increased risk (Hilder et al 2007)... As ever... the choice is always a mother's :)
"I was medically induced at 41 weeks due to being over 40; my consultant had wanted to induce labour at 39 weeks but I refused.
I was waiting for the induction to take effect for 24 hours, and was having gentle surges towards the end of this time.
Although in the couple of times I was distracted during a surge (like when there was someone fixing the TV next to me) and I didn't drop into a hypnotic state I could really feel the difference. If I wasn't practising hypnobirthing I can imagine those "gentle" surges would feel a lot more uncomfortable.
My waters were broken and things moved very fast and I gave birth in a standing position just 56 minutes later. The speed of the labour took all of us by surprise, the midwife hadn't even got a birth pack ready yet!
I definitely believe the ease of this birth is down to being so relaxed from using hypnobirthing; it was a joyful experience, not the traumatic experience people are led to believe. Many thanks for providing such a wonderful service."
Check out Lucy's fab affirmation pebbles! She's patiently awaiting her baby's birth here in west Cornwall :)
I was lucky enough to be invited to attend and capture this birth last month... Always amazing to witness a family welcoming their baby! Congratulations to Sarah & Miles; welcome Agnes <3
Here's Sarah's birth story...
"I had a very positive labour and home birth of my second child after taking Alice's hypnobirthing course.
I practised the pregnancy relaxation and other tracks during my pregnancy until 34 weeks most days, usually at bedtime and then the birth preparation track everyday. I really enjoyed my time doing this-20 minutes of me time when I really relaxed, became mindful and felt positive about the birth.
I had some anxieties based on my first labour but these were always calmed by practising hypnobirthing and I actually looked forward to giving birth and had confidence in my body's ability to do it.
When I went into active labour I put the birth affirmations on my ipod, felt immediately relaxed and kept them on throughout as I moved around and stayed active.
When the contractions became stronger and longer I really focused on what Alice was saying, on relaxing my whole body and breathing through each contraction. With each in breath I said to myself "I am strong" and with each outbreath "I let go and relax". It helped to focus my mind on the current contraction and nothing else, and see each contraction as a positive thing bringing me closer to the birth of my baby.
I got into the birth pool just before transition and we put the affirmations on out loud on the laptop. I found transition and second stage hard work but I think because I had been so relaxed during labour my body knew what to do and Agnes Trevenen was born very quickly after a couple of pushes into the water.
The whole experience of being at home, practising active labour moving around the house/the garden/having a bath, and the focus on the breath and positive birth affirmations made it an incredible, moving experience. I would recommend Alice Kirby's hypnobirthing course to any pregnant person."
"My first two children were both induced a week late, and with the second one, it was an intense and painful experience. I was really wanting to avoid that again.
My third birth experience using hypno-birhing was pleasant and satisfying. Hypno-birthing really helped me remain calm, relaxed, and positive. I listened to your MP3s and the calming background music throughout the entire experience.
When my labor kept stopping and going, it was frustrating, but I just listened to and repeated the affirmations that I had been practising and it made me feel calm and empowered. I did end up having pitocin and eventually an epidural, but the MP3s really helped me remain positive. Thank you for helping me have this wonderful experience!
This program is also perfect for parents that already have children. All the classes I found in my area were not only very expensive but were not conducive to parents that would have to find childcare one night a week for multiple months. This program is affordable and nice because you can go through it at your own pace.
I made a collage of all the affirmations and put it on my wall where I saw it every morning when I woke up.
The only problem I had was staying awake through the hypno-birthing tracks. I tried it at different times of the day and in different places, it didn't matter, I woke up about 20 minutes after the track ended almost every time. I think it is because being pregnant with two kids is exhausting :) It also takes up a lot of your spare time, however I feel it was totally worth it.
I only started this in my third trimester, I may have gone even further without an epidural if I had started this at the beginning of my pregnancy. It helped me keep a positive outlook during my pregnancy and during labor, I would recommend hypno-birthing to any new mom-to-be.
... Thank you so much for your wonderful tracks and class. They made my whole birth experience more relaxing and positive. It also made me have a positive attitude during my pregnancy. Thank you for helping me give birth to a beautiful baby girl named Rose :)"
Considering some interesting research today on whether already having a baby influences the safety of awaiting natural birth...
Hilder et al (2007) conducted a retrospective analysis of 145,695 singleton births in London, and found that the incidence of perinatal mortality for babies born to first time mums at 42 weeks was 0.3%, compared to just 0.1% if mums had already given birth before...
Mothers should be supported in making their own informed choices; based on evidence, instinct and preference.
A home-from-home birth environment helps mothers to relax, get in the zone and release her baby...
Here are our birth locations in Cornwall... Have a think about what birth partners could bring in with them to create a familiar nest-like space. Consider all of your senses.
It's especially important that homebirth parents make these back-up plans too ;)
Be open to whatever path your birth journey takes... Well done Stephanie, who gave birth to beautiful Noah last month ♥
Just thought I'd let you know our baby boy arrived yesterday.
I was so confident and looking forward to birth thanks to hypnobirthing. Although we didn't manage to make it to Penrice and ended up having an unexpected home birth, it was a lovely experience. Breathing techniques helped and it felt like my body took over and pushed him out for me!
Just wanted to say thank you for being part of making this a different experience for me. I really am very grateful for the help you gave and changing my way of thinking. It was such a positive experience and happy to know that I had the chance to have a birth like that to complete our family.
Here is baby Noah, born yesterday at 14:18 weighing 7lbs 14.5oz"
A little thing (not even worth recounting) happened on the school run this morning, that got me to thinking about how - unless we're mindful of this - other people's 'stuff' can affect us.
When I was a 19 year old psychology & counselling student, we were doing some sort of group exercise in class. In response to something long forgotten, my teacher - a formidable woman - said to me:-
"Don't give away your power".
Perhaps I was doing that very British thing of apologising or giving way unnecessarily - I can't really remember. But the phrase stuck with me.
I wrapped "don't give anyone your power" around myself this morning... But I wondered how it could be worded positively, and in the 1st person, as an affirmation...
'I keep my power' ?
'My power is mine' ?
In childbirth one often enters into systems of healthcare that are historically patriarchal in nature.
A mother from Italy recently contacted me to say that her midwives repeatedly asked her to remove the headphones she was using for hypnobirthing (for seemingly no good reason) and she felt very disrupted.
Why do we give away our power?
The instinct to comply with the instructions of a doctor, midwife or nurse is part of western culture, I suppose. We're told to be good patients, to do what we're told - they're the experts. They hold the power. This is why phrases like "we don't let you", "we don't allow you to..." persist.
Yet it is OUR birth, not THEIR birth. They have their own 'stuff' to deal with (pressures from managers, risk management, sometimes low staff morale, burnout and bullying), but we can decide to hold onto our own power.
Denying us our autonomy puts us in a vulnerable position. It is not good care. Caregivers should always take as much time as possible to carefully listen to us, understand our needs, explain our options and set out our choices in a neutral, unbiased way.
It is this good standard of care that can make the difference, however a baby is born.
Holding onto your power doesn't mean ignoring professional opinion. It just means insisting on being treated respectfully. During birth, good midwives and birth partners (possibly including a doula) can 'hold the space' for you - making sure that you have an active (rather than passive) birth experience, no matter what path your journey takes.
It is your birth. Keep your power.
"As soon as she was born it was amazing"
Birth story just in! New mum Jo gave birth last November, with a few surprises along the way... Well done Jo & Ant, welcome Astraya :)
"I was 41 weeks + 4 days when my waters broke at 4.30am. I woke my husband up (who was overjoyed to not have to go in to work that day), got back in to bed with a packet of chocolate digestives and waited. Nothing was really happening by about 6.30am, so, perched on a big pile of towels (I was still losing quite a lot of fluid), we went to Mcdonalds to pick up some breakfast and fill up on calories.
I visited the midwife at about 11.30am, who just confirmed my waters had broken and that my blood pressure was slightly elevated. She contacted the midwife on call who said she would come to us once things were progressing.
It wasn't until about 1.30pm that the contractions started, but there was no slow build up or 'niggles' that you hear of. They started really strong and regular - only about 3 minutes apart.
By the time the midwife turned up at about 6.30pm, I was struggling to cope and nothing really helped. The speed and ferocity of the contractions convinced me that I must be pretty well dilated, and was disappointed to find out I was only 3cm when she examined me and "not even in labour!"
On top of that my blood pressure was way too high, so she had to call an ambulance to transfer me to Treliske. She was really apologetic and felt terrible I couldn't stay at home as planned, but I was relieved in a way as I knew I was going to need some pain relief.
They gave me some gas and air in the ambulance which helped for a couple of contractions but then the sensations changed. The intensity went up to a whole new level in the ambulance. This is apparently when I "went into labour", and the gas and air did nothing at all.
I'm guessing because I was only 3cm at home, they thought there wouldn't be much happening for a while. They didn't examine me when I got to hospital, but the midwife when I arrived on delivery suite commented on the strength of the contractions.
One contraction was massive and pushed down really strongly. The midwife asked if I wanted to push and I said yes, but it wasn't a matter of having the urge to push, my body was just doing it.
She said she was just going to have a quick check, and was surprised to find the baby's head pretty much ready to come out. So I pushed and there she was... Astraya Willow Speed. I was in labour for about 1 hour 45 mins. No tearing!!!!
As soon as she was born it was amazing. I felt like nothing had happened - no pain, no exhaustion, just got right up and had some tea and toast and a bath. The midwives were amazed. It was less traumatic then ASDA on a Saturday afternoon, haha. And even the next day, after what my body had done, I would of expected some muscle pain but nothing. Amazing!
I'm pretty sure that my relaxed attitude leading up to the birth and my mindset must of been to thank for the quick birth. I honestly didn't have anything to do with it. My body just got right on with things and I let it. I do believe I'd conditioned my mind to let my body take over and I'm sure that's why it was so quick.
I thought they were great at Treliske and I wasn't disappointed that I'd had her in hospital. It was still in the end what I thought to be a totally natural, non-traumatic birth, and she was completely alert but calm when she was born.
I would definitely recommend yourself and hypnobirthing to people in the future.
Astraya was diagnosed with a duodenal atresia several days later (malformation of a tube between the stomach and bowel), and was rushed to Bristol for major surgery. She spent the next month in hospital. However she made an amazing recovery and after 3 weeks of nil by mouth, took to breastfeeding straight away. I'm still feeding her now at 6 months."
Stephanie Williams, Launceston
"Just thought I'd let you know our baby boy arrived yesterday. I was so confident and looking forward to birth thanks to hypnobirthing. Although we didn't manage to make it to Penrice and ended up having an unexpected home birth, it was a lovely experience. Breathing techniques helped and it felt like my body took over and pushed him out for me! Just wanted to say thankyou for being part of making this a different experience for me. Here is baby Noah, born yesterday at 14:18 weighing 7lbs 14.5oz"
Birth is a journey. Different rhythms at different times.
Transition is that point following your cervix opening, where your body knows your baby is nearly ready to descend the birth canal. Adrenaline-type hormones are released to bring on increasingly expulsive contractions.
As a side effect, it's normal, normal, normal for most mothers to feel some degree of self-doubt at this point - even if they've been breathing and relaxing effectively thus far.
It can sometimes feel like a 'top-of-the-rollercoaster' moment. A mother's eyes might suddenly open widely, alert and dark, dilated pupils. They can say odd things out of the blue, for example:-
"I want to go home"
"I can't do this anymore"
Birth partners should be aware of transition - reassure and remind Mom that she's doing a great job - these feelings mean that she'll be meeting her baby soon :)
"My contractions were strong and I began to become fearful of how I would cope. Alice suggested a glass of wine.... Ahhh that was a well deserved glass of wine, and really helped me to loosen up. I was laughing between the contractions and relaxing more and refocusing on the task ahead."
"By about 2am the surges were getting really strong but still not painful just really intense. I start vocalising instinctively on the out breath and find it really helps to release the tension. I am then sick during a strong surge and think I’m probably in transition – woo hoo! I start feeling pressure but the contractions aren’t expulsive yet. It doesn’t take long before I start grunting and feel my body pushing. I ask DH to get in the pool and he comforts me."
"The hypnobirthing breathing was absolutely essential as I moved towards transition and the contractions got really fast. Just when I doubted my ability to cope, the midwife brought gas and air at just the right time. The delivery suite was still full and I couldn't go upstairs! I think the midwives doubted how well I was progressing, until I got on the toilet and felt the urge to push! Then I was rushed upstairs very quickly and into the delivery suite. It was quite exhilarating then,as the pushing sensation wasn't nearly as painful as the contractions, I quite enjoyed it with the gas and air!"
"As we arrived at the hospital the surges were very strong and as we were walking through the corridors I began to have doubts and become fearful. I believe now this may have been transition. I managed to focus myself back into it and after being quickly admitted to a delivery room and being examined by a midwife, I was declared to be 8-9cm dilated."
Ina May Gaskin, Ina May's Guide to Childbirth:-
“The strangest request I have encountered was that of a first-time mother who—just before pushing—asked her husband for a jar of peanut butter and proceeded to eat two heaping table-spoonfuls. She then washed the peanut butter down with nearly a quart of raspberry leaf tea and pushed her baby out. I was impressed.”
If you've gone over your 40 week 'estimated due date', take heart ♥
The majority of mums do so. Your baby is on time, your body is working perfectly. There is nothing you need to do now, except focus on relaxation.
Natural induction methods don't work. Don't stress yourself out trying. Honestly. Birth will most likely begin when you're feeling calm and happy.
When your body and baby are both 100% ready, AND you're feeling calm, happy and positive - it'll happen.
You are in control. Build a calm bubble around yourself.
If you'd like info on your choices and statistics approaching 42 weeks, visit my 'What If?' guide to going over your due date