An effective birth partner is 100% confident about birth and hypnobirthing, super organised and ready & willing to support a mother in any way she wants... After a disappointing experience, Isla in Cornwall wants birth partners to create and follow a 'list of jobs'. I've written a sample list below which includes Isla's suggestions.
"After a rather traumatic birth experience with their first child, this couple's birth was filled with moments of love and peace. I loved how they were working together, holding hands while she was circling on a birth ball"
Be honest about how much you'd like to participate, and consider hiring a doula to support you both
Write a 'tick box' chart for the day. This is agreed together beforehand so you don't forget anything
Check the bags regularly: make sure that baby, mum and partner(s) have everything they need (including phone chargers). Make sure that you can find items quickly
Set out and manage the 'mammal-friendly' scene wherever mum happens to be. Use the hypnobirthing MP3s / music, lights / candles, scents and (if applicable) fill the birth pool and keep it up to temperature
Be present - don't just read the newspaper or watch the TV!
Make your partner comfortable. In between contractions proactively offer plenty of treats, sweets and various different drinks so she doesn't have to ask you
"I loved your voice, and listened to all your tracks regularly from 34 weeks, especially affirmations. I also went over the theory sections of the website several times.
From the beginning to the end of my labour I listened to you on repeat with my headphones on! It kept me very focused and in my zone, to the point where I panicked at transition when I couldn’t hit repeat on my phone quick enough!
I had a quick birth. My baby's waters broke on their own at home at midnight. I got up to the hospital to be triaged at 1am (3cm dilated). She was born two hours later, with transition very brief.
I remained upright as long as possible and birthed her leaning over the back of a bed on my knees. It felt very intense and powerful.
I used gas and air for an hour at the end and this was a good distraction coupled with the hypnobirthing track.
She came into the world calmly and without a cry, but bright eyed and alert. I attribute this to the techniques learned and the trust placed in my baby to come when she was ready.
‘Your baby and body know what to do' - and thank goodness for that!’ Thank you!
"Cora-Mai was born at 9pm on Monday eve after only being induced at 3.15pm the same afternoon! It was a really positive experience.
The midwife did a sweep and put in the pessary at 3.15pm and by 3.30pm I was having really strong contractions lasting almost a minute and only 1-2 mins apart. They took the pessary out after about 2/3 hours to slow things down a bit, but I was just in natural labour by then and there was no stopping it.
When they checked after 3 hours of this there was no dilation and the cervix still needed to thin, so I opted for some pethidine, which was the only pain relief available at that stage as I was still on the ward. I guess it did take the edge off but not much, but what it did do was completely relax me so that I could even use some of my Hypnobirthing techniques and really breathe and try to relax my body during contractions. I found the process so much easier to cope with second time round and knowing what the different stages feel like [Jo's first birth was very intense!]
It was really quick at the end again. The midwife came to say they were going start filling a pool and take me up but I knew I was in transition and I probably wouldn’t make it. They went off to make beds and I had to get Ant to go and tell them that the contractions were starting to bear down.
So they rushed me up as quick as they could, crashing my bed into every lift and door frame on the way, haha. And as I got off the bed and crossed the corridor, her head came out as I walked through the door, so they just chucked a load of towels on the floor and caught her as she came out. It was quite funny at the end, they were all very shocked I did tell them Asta was quick.
Anyway, thank you again so much for your help and advice. Both my babies would of been born far differently if it wasn’t for you and for hypnobirthing, and I really appreciate that - neither do I frown on pain relief because every one is different. For me a bit of help actually helped me achieve how I wanted things to turn out, so I feel in no way disappointed that it played a part.
All that said, I still don’t feel I had much to do with it. Our bodies are amazing and we really just sit back and let it do it’s stuff and try to be brave!
So, the moral of the story is ... I was induced, had pain relief and pretty much gave birth standing up in a corridor, but for me it couldn’t of gone any better it was quick, uncomplicated and Cora-Mai and I are both totally undamaged, what more can you hope for?"
Congratulations to Emma, Jolyon and Ailla on the arrival of baby Alcea! Emma tells us her birth story...
"At 4am I started to get some strong period pain sensations. I stayed relaxed and tried to mentally tell my baby "you are welcome to arrive this morning", as I'd already had some cramping sensations on previous days that hadn't led to labour.
Within the hour the cramps had moved onto full contractions which I breathed through easily, moving onto my hands and knees, and using visualisations that I had practised with your MP3s. I stayed calm enough that I dozed off between a few of the contractions!
Things progressed well, the midwives were called and once they arrived I was assessed and I was dilating well. I moved downstairs to the pool and once I got in things progressed quickly with a strong urge to push. My husband used key trigger phrases that I had selected from the MP3s that I had found useful, such as 'breathe down to the baby' and calmly laid his hands on my shoulders. I encouraged him to read about the transition phase which he therefore recognised and was able to support me through. I definitely found this the most challenging part of labour.
Within about half an hour of getting in the water, at at 9:11am, I delivered my little girl and brought her up to my chest in the pool. Throughout the labour I didn't require any pain relief and labour progressed smoothly and calmly.
I am delighted by how both of my births have gone and I give great credit to the hypnobirthing techniques that I learnt with you, so thank you! I tell anyone who will listen about hypnobirthing :)
I reached 36 weeks in my pregnancy and my braxton hicks were getting so frequent and strong that I was willing my baby to stay put for just a couple of weeks longer.
38 weeks came and went. Every few days I would get regular strong braxton hicks that I excitedly thought could be the start of labour. I spent my 'due date' crying. It seems silly now but I felt like I was 'overdue' after weeks of feeling like labour was a moment away.
The next morning I woke to more mild tightenings. I didn't want to get my hopes up so I mostly ignored them. I got up, made breakfast for my 3 year old son Jacob and got him dressed for nursery.
Afterwards we sat on the floor playing together and I realised the sensations were still frequent. I wanted to focus on them, so I put my headphones in, switched on my hypnobirthing mp3s and closed my eyes. I imagined my baby, in my mind I spoke to her and I told her how ready I was to meet her.
I told my partner Matt that I 'may' be in labour and I wanted him to set up the birth pool (we had an immersion water tank and I wanted to make sure we had enough time to fill the pool with warm water).
We kept Jacob at home with us, he had been well prepared for what he would see and hear at his sister's birth and he excitedly helped set up the birth pool with his Daddy.
I put some clary sage in an oil burner and sat on my birth ball. I was feeling calm and relaxed. I used my hypnobirthing practice to stay focused on the present moment, rather than wondering too much about if the sensations would progress.
At 11am I got into the birth pool, shortly followed by Jacob who wanted to cuddle me and catch the baby, yes he really was that excited!! Jacob was in the pool with me for around 30 mins and I noticed that I hadn't felt a single tightening while he was in the pool. My focus had shifted naturally to him! Matt got Jacob out and put on a movie for him in the lounge.
I asked Matt to rub my shoulders, realising that my labour may have stalled. As Matt massaged me, a huge wave of oxytocin came over me and with it a huge surge!! I instructed Matt to keep his hands - off me - from then on haha! I soon got back into the gentle rhythm of my labour (interestingly throughout my labour whenever Matt or Jacob would kiss or touch me I would have a way too powerful surge! The power of oxytocin was just too immense for me).
Our doula arrived at around midday and sat quietly crocheting in my kitchen watching over me and instinctively knowing when to bring me sips of water or take my excited 3 year old back into the lounge. She was amazing!
I felt so safe with her there, I knew she would advocate for me, having built up a strong relationship during my pregnancy. My contractions strengthened and intensified to the point I really needed to focus on them, but they were not yet painful. I had planned to call an NHS midwife when I felt labour was getting serious.
(Background: I had requested a hands off 'watch and wait' approach to my birth. With no VEs, intermittent monitoring of baby's heart rate, no blood pressure monitoring, no chatting or questions directed at me. Basically I don't like to be touched or disturbed when I am birthing. This didn’t go down well with the Supervisor of Midwives who called me up weeks before my due date to discuss her concerns regarding my birth plan. I lost trust in the midwifery team, I didn't feel confident that my preferences were being heard, I wanted their support, but I was not prepared to be coerced into abiding by the 'nhs protocols' so I made the decision to not involve them, until I felt that birth was imminent.)
At around 2.45pm I felt a very powerful sensation followed by a pop. My waters had gone. Almost instantly my body started pushing and I felt my baby’s head descending. I put my fingers inside my vagina and felt her head, she was close, adrenaline pulsed through my body, I was breathing rapidly. I had skipped 'transition' completely and gone from painless contractions to pushing my baby out. There was no midwife. Just me, my partner and son, and our doula.
I announced I could feel the babies head, my doula sensed the panic in my voice. 'just breathe' she said calmly...
She was right! Panic wouldn't help me birth my baby. I breathed, I focused, I tried to control her rapid descent, I willed my body to open and stretch. I took long deep in-breaths and blew them out with a gentle groan.
Without a break from spontaneous pushing, my baby's head was born as I was leaning forwards on the side of the pool, with both Jacob and Matt holding me. I sat back, kneeling upright, reached down and felt her soft fuzzy head. I then leaned backwards, smiling as my body took a well deserved pause.
As the next wave began to build, I reached down and put my hand on my baby's head, feeling her body glide through my fingers as she gently emerged into the pool. Sienna was born at 3pm.
I looked through the water, at my tiny little baby, still curled up almost unaware that she was no longer in my womb. I gently lifted her out of the water with both hands. As her face met the warm summer air, a little hand stretched out to touch her. It was her big brother who had just witnessed her birth and was already asking to hold her.
I rested my sweet little Sienna on my chest. She was slow to breathe, perhaps a little shocked by her speedy delivery. I felt her cord, it was pulsing strongly. I blew lightly on her face and she took a deep breath and began to grimace. She pinked up quickly and opened her eyes, she was just as alert as her big brother had been when he was born, Sienna took in her world, her family, her doula and then settled in for her first breastfeed.
I felt strong cramps while Sienna was feeding and my placenta came away fully intact after about 40 mins with a few pushes. We popped the placenta into a bowl and had a good look at it, what an amazing organ it is. I passed Sienna to her Daddy who was waiting with a towel for her, and handed the placenta bowl to my doula.
My family sat on the couch admiring our beautiful new addition, while my doula helped me out of the pool wrapped me in my dressing down and showed me to my postpartum ready made sofa 'nest'.
I fed sienna again and noticed her cold white floppy cord pressed into my tummy. I decided we should probably call a midwife. After a little confusion I explained that I wasn't in labour, but had already given birth.
I reassured them all was well and I was told someone would be with me in an hour to assist us with cutting the cord. We all sat and enjoyed making phone calls to loved ones and sharing the news of Sienna's arrival.
My doula left, after a giving me a big cuddle and having a sniff of my sweet baby’s head. We ate some food and realised the midwife had not yet arrived. We called again and one arrived within 10 mins. Matt cut the cord and tied it off using a cord ring. The midwife listened to Sienna's birth story and said it sounded exactly like what I had hoped for. It really was, I am not sure I would have felt brave enough to plan an unassisted home birth. But the way it turned out was perfect. The midwife left.
Matt, Jacob and I put on our PJs, kissed each other good night and went to bed, Sienna tucked into my nightdress skin-to-skin and Jacob cuddled up to his Daddy. We were now a family of four."
"I got through 17 hours of labour using Alice’s wonderful advice without any drugs.....thank you Alice.
The Truro Birth Centre was mega and the staff were amazing, I floated about in the hot tub for quite a few hours and had to go to the delivery suite in the end for an assisted delivery, which wasn’t what we’d planned, but the result was what we wanted.. e.g. a cute baby!
He was calm throughout the whole process and I put this down to Hypnobirthing and the importance placed on being calm, breathing and being positive.
He’s doing well and is just scrumptious. Oh it definitely made a huge difference, I would recommend it to anyone....in fact I am telling everyone who listens about how amazing Hypnobirthing is!"
"Our new addition arrived on Saturday night, a little boy, we had a home birth which was just incredible!
I felt so in control and everything happened very quickly, 3.5 hours in total and only 20 mins of pushing.
My previous labour lasted for 24 hours so quite an improvement. I think this is partially due to the course.
I worried before that perhaps I hadn’t listened to it enough etc but I think even what I did was so worth it. I had the affirmations playing during the birth which was a wonderful gentle reminder to keep going and I could do this.
I was so pleased to get the birth I wanted, as this is our final child and our family is now complete.
We couldn’t afford a course in our area as they’re £250+ so this online version was so much more accessible for me.
Anyway, huge thanks to you, I’ll be recommending it to my other pregnant friends!"
Your imagination is a powerful tool. It can dictate, to some extent, how we perceive sensory information including images, sounds, tastes and feelings, including pain.
Re the laurel / yanny phenomenon... Altering the volume or pitch isn't a complete explanation, because with practise you can teach yourself to hear either word at will
Neuroscientist Gabriella Musacchia says that faced with confusing information, the brain decides within a fraction of a second what it will hear.
“We use statistical probability to make almost all of our perceptual decisions... you hear what you listen for."
Play the video and see what happens when you decide to hear either the words 'brainstorm' or 'green needle'.
So what's this got to do with birth?
Some mums report that they decided to interpret the sensations of birth not as pain, but as 'power', 'warmth', 'surges', 'rushes', 'waves' or a 'strong physical sensation that requires all of my focus'.
This isn't woolly wishful thinking. Evidence suggests that self-hypnosis does indeed seem to significantly alter the perception of pain.
Practise controlling physical sensations with the 'comfort dial' (in your pregnancy relaxation MP3).
Test your skills by getting someone to give you a good chinese burn, whilst you focus on keeping calm and breathing deeply!
I met Rae (and her beautiful cats) when she was an excited first-time mother in 2014; providing her with birth doula and hypnobirthing support...
"I have practised Alice's hypnobirthing techniques in every pregnancy and birth and I really cannot imagine labouring without them. I am so grateful that her knowledge and skill has helped me have joyous, wonderful births. I feel almost evangelical about spreading the word of hypnobirthing - it gives women back such a mind blowing power and trust in our bodies.
When I was unexpectedly induced because of pre-eclampsia with our first son, the affirmations helped me to stay grounded, happy and focused despite everything going on around me.
I thought my second birth was pretty amazing but when our beautiful third child, our second daughter, arrived everything was even more instinctive and relaxed.
Early and then active labour was at home in our bedroom... chatting as our 3 year old watched Thomas the Tank Engine and our shoe-obsessed 1 year old bossed me around trying to get me to put on leopard print wedges (!), while the cat got into the wardrobe and noisily insisted that I joined her and made a nest to deliver my kittens (!!) I smile so much when I think of it and I was also smiling lots at the time.
As my contractions intensified I used Alice's breathing techniques and continued to listen to the affirmation tracks downloaded to my phone. I felt calm and in control throughout and in a very short space of time (my labour was 4 hours from the first contraction to holding our daughter, something I attribute to hypnobirthing and letting my body take over completely), I was standing and breathing my daughter out... Something I had heard of but not experienced before in my other two births.
It's hard to put the memory I have of it into words, but my body knew exactly what to do and the hypnobirthing helped me be in the perfect mind space to let it. It was incredibly intense, with every inch of my body involved, but not in any way frightening, painful or even an effort really.
I felt the strongest I have ever felt in my life and very in-tune with my daughter too. We were working together for her to be born in the most beautiful way.
Lots of people also commented on how content my little ones seemed in their first few weeks and I'm sure that's down to the peacefulness that hypnobirthing gave me and them through labour.
Thank you Alice. A hundred times over. I am so, so grateful to have first met you and been able to use hynobirthing to bring my three babies into the world xx"
"Alice is fantastic at what she does! We saw Alice in person twice, but also felt safe in knowing we could always ask her for advice at any time during the pregnancy. Our birth was amazing... If you want to be as prepared as you can for birth, and want it to be a natural and empowering experience, I would highly recommend Alice!!"Jemma Hoare, Truro
Super excited to let you know about my London hypnobirthing classes!
Private hypnobirthing workshops help you to explore everything together in the comfort and convenience of your own home, in an in-depth tailor-made way. Face-to-face sessions can engage birth partners and increase motivation.
My hypnobirthing classes in London (and surrounding areas) can be taken over two separate 2+hr sessions or one 4hr intensive. My content is straight to the point ~ skipping the fluff of group classes.
I provide everything you need, including my full program of 10 hypnobirthing MP3s, ongoing support, birth consultation and my online hypnobirthing guide.
The cost of hypnobirthing in London and surrounding areas is £375, including all expenses.
A Maternity Voices Partnership (MVP) is a team of women and their families, NHS commissioners and providers (midwives and doctors) working together to review and contribute to the development of local maternity care. Find out more at nationalmaternityvoices.org.uk
In Cornwall we have a growing number of optimistic midwives, doctors, doulas, antenatal teachers, hypnobirthing teachers and others who are determined to make sure that families' voices and choices are heard and respected.
We need to make noise about what we want, and feedback the positives and negatives, in order to sustain the good and create the changes that we want to see.
If you'd like to help, join me and others in getting involved with NHS Kernow's Cornwall Maternity Voices Partnership (MVP).
To find out about our next meeting, email our chair Georgie Watson email@example.com or telephone Lisa Hicks 01726 627866.
(Travel expenses are available for members of the public who attend, refreshments are provided and babies are welcome)
Guest blogger Ashley Taylor from disabledparents.org offers advice and information for parents in the US - some great tips here wherever you live...
Becoming a new parent is tricky for everyone, but parenting with a disability has its own unique challenges. More than 4 million Americans are successfully parenting with a disability, and you can, too. Here are a few tips to ease your transition into a brand new family. Better Living with Science
Technology has given us a number of advantages to make infant care much simpler and safer. If mobility is an issue, make sure your home is as accessible as you can make it. Installing nonslip flooring, expandable door hinges and replacing steps with ramps can all make your life a little bit easier. You’ll need to purchase a crib and changing table that are accessible, or convert standard ones to be within reach.
If you are hearing impaired, consider purchasing a vibrating baby monitor and an in-sight auto mirror for the rear-facing car seat. If you are visually impaired, put bells on the baby’s socks so you are alerted when he or she rouses from a nap. Texture-marked medicine spoons and talking thermometers are inexpensive and easily available. Assistive technologies, such as CART (Communication Access Real Time Translation) and TRS (Telecommunications Relay Service) can improve access to information and communication for deaf and or blind parents and are federally funded.
For all new parents, baby proof the home early and organize it well. Many products exist to isolate particular parts of the home and make it more difficult for baby to get injured and an abundance of storage and organization solutions are as close as your local big-box retail store.
Have a Strong Support Network
It really does take a village to raise a child. The importance of having friends and family to call upon in a crisis cannot be overstated. If you’re not blessed with nearby relatives and close friends, consider joining a support group for new parents. You may even be able to find other people with your disability who can share their own advice and experiences to help you better manage your new responsibilities.
Don’t overlook the social services offered in your area; reach out to churches, advocacy agencies, and civic organizations for information and support. The ADA ensures equal rights to all Americans, which includes the right to the accommodations you need to effectively parent your child.
Get Your Finances in Order
Babies are expensive, but you have options for assistance. If you are receiving Social Security disability payments, your dependent child may qualify for auxiliary payments. There are also assorted grants and programs to help fund improvements to your home, or to help pay for assistance, available to many disabled people. You’ll need to look into what is available in your area. But even just getting on a budget and setting up an emergency fund will go a long way toward getting ready for parenthood.
The Unexpected Benefit of Having Disabled Parents
Most parents have concerns about their ability to raise a child, and disabled parents are no exception. Many worry that they may not be able to fully meet their child’s needs, or that their child may need to do more for them than other children their own age do for their parents. Take heart, your child might actually benefit from the experience of loving, and being loved by, a disabled parent. Studies have shown that growing up with disabled parents makes children more empathetic, resilient and independent than their peers who grow up without the same challenges. In and of itself, your disability is not a factor in how you will parent your child, and absent other factors, such as substance abuse, your disability should have no negative impact on the outcome of your child-rearing.
New babies bring upheaval into your life and your home. Your sleep schedule will never be quite the same, and you’re going to develop a tolerance for children’s entertainment and repetitive books and songs. You’re also going to spend the rest of your life loving someone more than you ever imagined possible. But you are up to this challenge. You have coped with your disability and found creative ways to overcome it, to fall in love and form a family. Your special insight and unique experiences will help you to be the best parent you can and raise a wonderful human being.
Lauren in Illinois tells us about her hypnobirthing experience:
"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-birthing 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 practicing 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!"
"Our very heartfelt thanks to you for an excellent course. We really enjoyed it and got a lot out of it. We feel closer on our journey to having our baby. We felt that your delivery was professional, yet personal and from the heart"Katy Bryce & Adam Weismann, Manaccan
Due to popular demand, I'm excited to announce my new hypnobirthing classes in Norwich and Norfolk!
Private home hypnobirthing workshops enable you and your birth partner(s) to explore hypnobirthing together in the comfort and convenience of your home, in an in-depth personalised way. Face-to-face sessions may also increase motivation and actively engage birth partners.
My hypnobirthing classes in Norfolk may be taken over one 4hr intensive or two separate 2+hr sessions. As it's a private class the content is straight to the point ~ we skip the fluff involved in group classes.
Everything you need is provided, including your full program of hypnobirthing MP3s, ongoing birth consultation, support and my online hypnobirthing guide.
The cost of hypnobirthing in Norwich or Norfolk is £275 including expenses. All areas are covered from Thetford to Hunstanton and Great Yarmouth.
No, this is an outdated idea. Evidence finds that hypnosis is a state of deep focus. You can be in hypnosis without feeling relaxed (watching a horror film) and you can be relaxed without being in hypnosis.
Relaxation is often used to help quieten your mind and enter hypnosis (it's super useful for much of the birth journey) but during transition and 2nd stage you might feel more energised than relaxed...
If you're able to keep focused you're in hypnosis, no matter how relaxed you are.