"For my first baby, I wanted a drug-free birth and was able to have one thanks to the techniques I learned and practiced in this hypnobirthing course, as well as having a doula.
I felt that my birth moved fairly quickly because I was able to just be in the moment and not feel stressed or anxious. I usually have a lot of anxiety and without hypnobirthing and a doula to help me remember the relaxation and breathing techniques, I think the birth would’ve been much longer and harder...however, I was able to deliver my big baby girl, Claire Valerie (9lbs!) in just a few hours with no complications or interventions.
I would definitely recommend hypnobirthing to anyone hoping to have a natural and more relaxed birth!"
Claire in Italy has a tattoo on her back where an epidural would be sited...
"After meeting with an anaesthesiologist at 30 weeks pregnant and discovering that I was ineligible for an epidural, I actively searched for a program to help me navigate the birthing process, and was SO HAPPY to have discovered hypnobirthing and especially this program!
I meditated once or twice a day and rehearsed positions with my birth partner, which proved critical to getting through 18 hours of medically induced labor.
I'm not a super proactive person, but I found these lessons extremely manageable to complete as they were not too long, plus they kept me 100% calm and in control as my due date approached.
Having listened to the recordings together, my husband coached me through the breathing techniques to cope with the waves, and I was able to rest fully and completely during the 2 minute pauses between waves, which was key to avoiding a cesarean.
At the end, using the pushing breathing techniques, I pushed out my "little" baby boy (9lbs / 4.1kg, 52cm) in 3 contractions and felt like a superhero through the whole process!"
"Hi Alice, I am happy to report I had a fantastic labour. It progressed quickly - in the car I was in active labour - thankfully I learned your visualisation techniques and other coping mechanisms so I put these into place. Had I not done this I don’t think I would have coped as well and labour would not have been as smooth/quick.
I was able to manage the contractions with ease. I arrived at the hospital and gave birth 15 minutes later with a few pushes and a little gas and air.
I have recommended your hypnobirthing to others and am very grateful for the practice, it was money well spent. This was my second birth, the first one was very long and painful, resulting in a forceps delivery so I was so glad this one went as well as it did. Thank you!"
Recent feedback reveals that parents want to know more about induction - the benefits, risks and alternatives, what it involves and how it can cause different, very painful sensations compared to spontaneous birth.
The first hypnobirthing training course I attended in 2006 contained a meme which said: "induction is the quickest way to have a painful, complicated birth." I thought this was a little defeatist! Not all induced mothers have a horrible time, but it's true that induction is more likely to lead to birth plans being thrown out of the window...
The choice is yours - you may accept or decline induction
Relax. Birth won't begin or progress well if mums are stressed or anxious
If mums choose an epidural they haven't 'failed'. Induction is a medical intervention that frequently requires medical pain relief (even if you're the best hypnobirther in the world!) 80% of my induced hypnobirthing mums choose an epidural (vs 10% of my non-induced moms)
Hypnobirthing helps you stay calm and focused, no matter what!
"Epidural was not where I saw myself going but I was exhausted having had no sleep for days, and it gave me the rest I needed"
20% of births are induced in the UK, why?
Induction is offered if there's any chance that it might be safer for the baby to be born. Reasons can include a poorly mum or baby, but the most common reasons are pregnancy beyond 41+ weeks, or her waters have broken for a while without contractions starting yet.
I'm healthy, low-risk and 41+ weeks - should I accept induction?
It's up to you. If mothers await spontaneous birth after 41+ weeks the risk of a baby dying during pregnancy, birth or shortly afterwards is thought to be around 0.16% (between 1-2 in 1000). With inducing birth at 41+ weeks the risk may be reduced to 0.07% (around 1 in 1000) (if you are over 40 years of age the risks may be at a similar level after 40+ weeks). This NHS leaflet is excellent at explaining the research and options.
"If a woman chooses not to have induction of labour, her decision should be respected. Healthcare professionals should discuss the woman's care with her from then on."
'Expectant management' means awaiting spontaneous birth. Increased monitoring is offered including ultrasound scans and CTG monitoring a few times a week.
What does induction involve? The aim is to encourage the natural physiological birth process as much as possible...
1. Pre-induction: a cervical sweep is typically offered at a mum's routine 41 week appointment. If the cervix has shortened and is stretchy enough, the careprovider can insert two gloved fingers into the vagina, up through the opening of the cervix and sweep their fingers around in a circular motion, to separate the bag of waters from the neck of the womb.
Benefits = for 1 in 8 women it might reduce the chance of further induction methods
2. Prostaglandin drug: a mother is admitted to the antenatal ward at hospital. If her cervix is closed and hasn't thinned much, a dose of artificial prostaglandin (a tablet, gel or plastic tampon) will be inserted high up in the vagina. The aim is to 'ripen' the cervix to trigger natural contractions to start, or at least enough so that the bag of waters can be broken the following day (amniotomy). Women are encouraged to leave the ward and go for a walk, or in some areas may be able to go home and return later. Prostaglandin treatment can take up to a couple of days.
Benefits = around 30% of women give birth naturally without further intervention
Risks = vaginal / cervical soreness, hypertonic uterus, fetal distress syndrome, abnormal labour affecting the baby (between 1:10 - 1:100), nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea (between 1:100 - 1:1000), disappointment, boredom, lack of sleep, birth partner sent home at night Alternatives = await spontaneous birth, ask about balloon catheter dilation or caesarean
3. Amniotomy / breaking the waters: On delivery ward, if the cervix has thinned and opened enough, a long crochet hook-like device is passed through the vagina and cervix to rupture the amniotic sac. This is done to encourage prostaglandin release / physiological birth to begin, or before the commencement of artificial oxytocin infusion to trigger contractions.
Benefits = Some research suggests quicker progress with less intervention following amniotomy
Risks = scratching the baby, maternal discomfort, introducing infection, small risk of cord prolapse or accidentally puncturing a major blood vessel
Alternatives = await spontaneous birth, ask about more prostaglandin ripening / balloon catheter dilation or caesarean
"Although nothing seemed to have gone to plan I remained very calm throughout the whole experience and what was 3 days seemed like 1 with the most important thing in the end a healthy & happy baby!"
4. Intravenous artificial oxytocin drip: On delivery ward, a synthetic hormone (Pitocin / Syntocinon) is infused to initiate and strengthen contractions to dilate the cervix and aid the baby's passage through the pelvis. Continuous monitoring is required to observe the rate of contractions and the baby's heartrate.
Benefits = can dilate the cervix and birth the baby without the need for caesarean
Risks = Common: abnormal pain requiring epidural, uterine hyperstimulation with fetal distress, headache, nausea, vomiting, slow, fast or irregular heartbeat (mum), failed induction leading to caesarean
Other potential things to note include reduced mobility, and CTG may also increase the risk of caesarean. Epidural also increases the chance of having an assisted delivery (forceps / ventouse)
Alternatives = await spontaneous birth, or ask for a caesarean
"My contractions escalated extremely fast and I only managed to use breathing techniques for about one hour till the pain got unbearable and I asked for an epidural at 5 cm dilated. The relief was instant!"
... Induction is what it is really! With effective preparation and pain relief (be that hypnobirthing or epidural) parents can have a wonderful birth... Read a collection of hypnobirthing induction stories to see how we got on!
(This guide is provided for information only, it is not medical advice. Parents should do their own research and consult with their local care providers)
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!"
"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.
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 !
"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...
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."
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.
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.