Fear Free Childbirth Podcast with Alexia Leachman | Childbirth | Pregnancy

By Alexia Leachman

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Taking The Fear Out Of Birth

Episode Date
Breastfeeding, with Cindy Leclerc
Breastfeeding is not something you might expect to do your research on while pregnant, but there is certainly a lot of value in preparing yourself as much as you can while you have the time and space to do so. When your little one arrives you'll thank yourself for being prepped as much as you can. I've been asked loads to do a podcast on breastfeeding and I've resisted because I wanted to stay focused on the birth prep, but I'm getting way too many requests to ignore it - so here we are! Today I'm speaking to Cindy Leclerc. Cindy is a Canadian Registered Nurse and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. She has helped over 12,000 families get started with breastfeeding. In addition to her nursing practice, she teaches prenatal breastfeeding classes both in-person and online. Together with a colleague, she hosts a website (cindyandjana.com) and an app (NuuNest) which provide reliable information to answer the questions new parents ask. NuuNest can be downloaded for free on their website. During our chat Cindy shares the 5 things that every pregnant woman should know about breastfeeding. But we don't stop there! We also talk about breastfeeding positions growth spurts what to expect the days after birth in terms of milk how to know if your baby has fed enough - and it's not to do with time spent on the boob! During our chat, Cindy talks about her free breastfeeding course as well one of which is free. Check them out below. FREE 3 lesson course  - Getting Ready to Breastfeed Simply Breastfeeding But that's not all!   FREE DOWNLOAD Cindy has kindly offered to share a PDF of the 5 Things Pregnant Women Should Know About Breastfeeding. To get your copy simply fill your details in below.   Get support as a new mama As I mentioned on the podcast new mama support is now available as part of The Fearless Mama Ship member area.  The Fearless Mama Ship is to support you throughout your four trimesters and has been created to help you to reduce the overwhelm when it comes to all the information out there. It is packed with bonus podcast episodes, mini-course and plenty of resources to help you prepare for birth. My birth prep program includes birth template downloads as well as information of the various birth professionals that can support you during your pregnancy and birth so that you can find the support you need. Find out more below.
Jul 06, 2017
Essential Steps of Birth Preparation
Birth preparation is a huge part of preparing for a positive birth. Lots of women don't appreciate why doing birth preparation is so important with many leaving it last minute. The truth is if you want to stack the odds in your favour when it comes to having a positive birth experience, birth preparation is essential. The thing is, birth preparation can seem like this huge overwhelming task, so it's understandable that many shy away from it or procrastinate. To help you I'm going to talk you through what I believe are some of the most important elements of your birth preparation. Why birth preparation is important Preparing for your birth means that you're saying no to the "winging it" birth plan. For the record, “winging it” or “going with the flow” is NOT recommended and is more likely to lead to a difficult birth; Your labour is more likely to be longer Increased chances of experiencing a painful labour You’re more likely to have a medicalised labour Increased chances of ending up with an emergency C-Section I don't know about you, but they are good enough reasons for me! To receive my 9 Steps to a Fearless Birth just pop your details below and I will send you everything you need to know via email.   Essential Steps of Birth Preparation So, in no particular order, here are some of the important steps that I think you need to include in your birth preparation. Get clear on what you want How can you prepare if you don’t know what you want? So this bit is super important. Think about what you DO want and what you DON’T want when it comes to your birth. Where do you feel the safest? Home or hospital? Birth centre? Maternity-led unit? How do you feel about medical staff? Do they scare you or make you feel safe? Are you considered high risk? If so, what does this mean in terms of your birth? Does your current health have any implications for your birth? If so, what? What birth assistance would you like? Birth pool? Pain relief? Space to move around? Home comforts? And, where is that most easily available? What’s the birth you DON’T want? Why? What is it about that that you don’t like/want? If this ended up being your birth how would that make you feel?   Get savvy If you’re going to prepare for something, then it’s important to know what you’re preparing for so that you improve your chances of getting it. This means going all crazy on the details. So even though you might have things clear in your head in terms of what you want - you still need to plan for various eventualities. With birth, nothing is guaranteed, which is why it’s also worth preparing for plan B and maybe even plan C. The reason why I want you to prepare for the birth you don’t want is so that you do your homework on it. This does two things; it helps you to understand it better as a birth option, and crucially, this helps to reduce the fear you might have of it. After all, there’s a reason you don’t want it, right? Having a load of negative emotion around your plan B will not be very helpful for you on the day if your birth ends up going that way. Being prepared means that you will be able to change tack without getting all stressy on the day, which would be no good for the hormonal cocktail that keeps labour moving. So you see; being clear AND savvy on both birth options is important work! Start seeking out the information you need that will support your birth choices. Who do you want at your birth? Your partner? Your mother? Friends? Doula? Photographer? Are they are fully briefed and “on the same page” as you? Pain relief: do you know your options and consequences of their use? How do you feel about accepting pain relief? Does this carry emotional weight? What pain management strategies would you like to adopt? What methods would you consider to induce labour if required? At what point would you accept an induction? Do you know which methods you’d accept?
Jun 29, 2017
Conscious Conception and Pregnancy, with Jane Jennings
I'm a huge fan of conscious conception and pregnancy and I believe that taking a conscious and deliberate approach to your journey from pregnancy to motherhood is the gold standard to aim for. But I also know that not everyone has got that memo and simply don't get it. To help you understand this in more depth, today I'm chatting to Jane Jennings about conscious conception and pregnancy. Jane is a Conscious Conception Doula and works with families throughout the pregnancy journey and that often means BEFORE conception. What is a conscious conception and pregnancy? I know that many of my listeners choose to listen to my podcast as part of their preparation for motherhood and so THIS is what I'm talking about here; being conscious and deliberate about your journey to motherhood. Living consciously isn’t limited to pregnancy and birth. It’s something we can all do at any time, if we’re ready and open to it. Put simply, living consciously is being deliberate and mindful about your choices and conscious of their consequences. Many people live unconsciously from moment to moment and allow themselves to be carried by the current of life, instead of choosing to pick up an oar and paddle in a certain direction. When it comes to a living a conscious conception and pregnancy, things you might want to explore include; Create the space in your life for your baby Many couples who are expecting their first baby, do not intentionally create the space for a new person in their life. Particularly if the baby wasn’t entirely expected. It can be all too easy to try and bolt the baby onto your young, free and independent life (I know because I was guilty of this!), but taking the time to think about what you need to let go of so that you can welcome your baby fully, is worthwhile. Take a closer look at your work, chores, hobbies and relationships that are simply not compatible with family life. Be prepared to make changes to enable family life to flourish and thrive. Often, family friction comes from this resistance to let go of the life habits that suited a younger person with no responsibilities. By accepting your new role sooner, you can avoid much of this, but importantly, it gives a clear message to your new family member that they are welcome, valued and loved. Work On Your Relationship with Your Partner The greatest gift you can offer your future child is a loving relationship between his or her parents. If there are any unresolved issues between you and your partner, make a point to work on them before your baby arrives so you can welcome your child into a peaceful home. Take time to devote to your relationship, whether through therapy or counselling, simple open communication or even a baby-moon. A happy couple and a happy home massively increase your chances of having a happy child. Journal your pregnancy experience Write about your thoughts and emotions during pregnancy. Aside from the physical changes that accompany pregnancy, explore your ideas around how you want to parent, the relationship you hope to have, and the qualities you expect to foster in your child. Not only will this be interesting to read years from now to see how things panned out, but it will be a wonderful gift for your baby. Our pregnancy journey impacts our babies in ways that we might find hard to grasp. Babies develop their senses very early on in utero and will be picking up on a lot of your thoughts and experiences. The emotions that you will be experiencing will be affecting your baby in quite profound ways; one of the key reasons to address your emotional wellbeing during pregnancy. Regularly connect and communicate with your baby Build a relationship with your baby early on in your pregnancy so that your baby is used to a two-way dialogue and trusts you. During birth, there needs to be trust between the two of you. Trust that you’re both capable and confident of doing what needs to be done and that you can rely on each othe...
Jun 22, 2017
Gentle C-Section, with OB, Andy Simm
Caesareans are often feared by women going into birth, but there's a new trend coming through that could hope to reduce that somewhat. The gentle c-section otherwise known as the natural caesarean is a much softer approach than the usual surgical ritual. To help explain what a gentle c-section is I'm being joined by OB Andy Simm from Nottingham City Hospital (my local!). It is Andy who was the OB behind the gentle c-section positive birth story that I shared last season. He's a bit famous around my neck of the woods! What is a gentle c-section? In a gentle c-section, or natural caesarean, the drapes which normally screen the operation from the mother are lowered – so she (and her partner) can actually see the baby being born. The baby is also given time to “wriggle out” of the womb, rather than being instantly lifted out by the obstetrician. The newborn is then placed on the mother’s chest for her to hold, cord intact, instead of being whisked off for weighing and measuring. To help the mother to have some skin to skin, the ECG wires are taped to her back which means that she is more likely to be able to breastfeed straight away. All this is quite a departure from what we know c-sections to be like, but it doesn't stop there. A gentle -c-section is also one where the environment of the operating theatre is tweaked to help make it more friendly... lower lights basically! This women-centred approach has many reported benefits for mother and baby including: improved breastfeeding rates; a better birth experience; increased bonding due to instant mother and baby skin to skin contact; plus reduced risk of lung issues as the extra time allowed pressure from the uterus  to expel liquid from baby's lungs. Of course, a natural caesarean is not drug-free or risk free – but local anaesthesia is carefully used to ensure the mother is alert and able to hold her baby. This is HUGE! During our chat we identified a gentle c-section checklist that you can use as part of your birth planning; lighting and environment (music) let baby wriggle out on their own skin to skin delayed cord clamping birth narration seeding the microbiome About Andy Simm Andy Simm has worked as a Consultant Obstetrician in Nottingham for 15 years, with interests in diabetes and endocrine disorders in pregnancy and fetal growth disorders. He has a keen interest in management of labour where this deviates from the norm, and promotes the importance of communication, team work and other non technical skills. This has been recognised with both awards from within the Trust and nationally. Andy has a large obstetric clinical practice, and as College Tutor is responsible for the overall quality of education and training of junior doctors within his unit. Most recently he has become involved in undertaking the ‘gentle’ caesarean section, with video footage posted on social media websites getting 10 million hits. ‘Gentle’ caesarean is undertaken in a softer environment, with a slower delivery that facilitates autoresuscitation of the baby, namely expulsion of fluid from the fetal lungs, and a gentle transition to breathing in air by undertaking deferred cord clamping. Women are enabled to watch the birth if they wish, and immediate skin to skin contact is facilitated. Demand for the procedure is increasing
Jun 15, 2017
The Psychology of Pregnancy, with Leah Butler-Smith
The psychology of pregnancy doesn't often get discussed and I don't know why, so today I'm remedying that. Pregnancy and the journey of motherhood are such a huge time of change that it's no wonder that there are psychological implications. The thing is, we don't often stop and think about what those might be. In today's episode I'm going to be lifting the lid on the psychology of pregnancy and motherhood so that you can have a better understanding of what might be going on for you. To help me, I'm joined by Leah Butler-Smith who is a therapist and a coach as well as being a mum of three. Leah had a very successful practice in London's Harley Street and has worked with many women on the whole motherhood spectrum. This includes from fertility and miscarriage to overcoming pregnancy fears and birth recovery. The Psychology of Pregnancy Many women approach pregnancy and birth with very little if any preparation and assume that they can just take it in their stride. This might work for some, but given the seismic changes that are involved in becoming a mother, it's worth taking some time to doing some preparation. Going from being an individual with no responsibility for anyone other than yourself to becoming a parent has its own set of challenges and adjustments to overcome. Add pregnancy and birth to the equation and you've got a mighty cocktail of craziness right there. During our chat, Leah shares some interesting insights into the psychology of pregnancy and birth that might very well help you to unpick what is going on for you. Leah talks a lot about how our irrational mind is responsible for our beliefs and fears. She explains how those beliefs and fears may have been implanted in the first place, which is very interesting to listen to. I work with this stuff all the time so while it's not new to me, I still find it super fascinating! Leah also talks about her experience of working with women on the fertility journey. She talks about how, in her experience, fears play a huge role in our ability to become and stay pregnant. Leah shares stories of women she's worked with who, once they've worked on the mind and the fears and anxieties at play, are able to then go on to be pregnant. Certainly worth a listen for that alone! Managing pain with the mind You will have already heard me talk quite a length about how pain is a mental thing and how we can manage our ability to cope with pain by using the mind. Well, Leah bangs this drum to. During our chat, she shares a brilliant technique for managing pain during labour and birth. FREE download During our chat, Leah mentioned a free download that she was creating. To get hold of the download CLICK HERE.   About Leah Butler-Smith Leah Butler-Smith wittily refers to herself as a ‘Rapid Transformation Specialist’ who has a ‘particular set of skills’ (think the popular movie, Taken LOL). Having worked with celebs, creatives, sports personalities, entrepreneurial business owners including a few Billionaires. Since the late 90’s, her experience and knowledge is surpassed only by her constant enthusiasm for helping others. Her many skills include being awarded the title of Senior Hypnotherapist - one of the first awarded by the GHSC, Advanced Psychotherapist, Analytical Hypnotherapy, NLP Trainer, TFT Practitioner combined with the latest proven techniques Havening, EMDR and EFT. She now fills any spare time with studies in Neuroscience, Bio-Medicine and any other research that supports her members & private clients. You can get access to Leah in person inside her newly formed community inside Facebook. There you’ll get regular tips for improving your mindset, learning NLP & other techniques proven that will help you improve your mindset, overcome challenges, build your confidence and support your business growth. You can also get a Free Coaching Guide at WWW.LEAHBUTLERSMITH.COM
Jun 08, 2017
Placenta Encapsulation, with Maria Pokluda & Maryn Taylor
Placenta encapsulation might not be something you know too much about. So, I thought it was about time I covered this on the podcast because many women report that placenta encapsulation can help them emotionally in the postpartum period. Consuming your placenta (placentophagy) is undergoing a bit of revival at the moment. So, who better to have on the podcast than two placenta queens, Maria Pokluda and Maryn Taylor who run their own Placenta Encapsulation business in Dallas Fort Worth, Texas Some view this as a way of celebrating the placenta's significance as well as promoting postpartum physical and mental health. Placenta encapsulation is becoming a popular method of preparing the placenta for consumption.  What this basically means is creating capsules that are a bit like tablets for you to take with a drink. The other way of consuming the placenta is through placenta smoothies which, apparently is not as bad as it may sound. Placenta encapsulation If placenta encapsulation sounds appealing to you, discuss your plans with your midwife or doula during your pregnancy. Ensure that it is highlighted as part of your birth plan. Be clear that you wish to keep your placenta.  If you don't feel up to the job right away, you can freeze your placenta until you are ready to process it. A specialist can come to your home, process your placenta and produce the capsules for you. Or you can have a go of this yourself. There are plenty of articles about this online so you can research the subject at your leisure. There is limited evidence when it comes to placenta encapsulation, but what there is in bucket loads are testimonials and anecdotal evidence with mothers report lots of benefits from consuming their placenta during the postpartum period, including; more breast milk more balanced feelings more energy The only thing that I could find in terms of evidence was this. During our chat, we talk about when to book your placenta encapsulation what your options are what the process is placenta traditions umbilical cord art   About the Placenta Queens MARIA POKLUDA: Maria has prepared more than 700 placentas. Doula since 2007.  Mom of four. Owner of Great Expectations Birth Professional Doula Services. Creator of BEST Doula Training Voted Best Doula in North Texas six years in a row. MARYN TAYLOR: Marin has prepared more than 400 placentas. Birth pool distributor since 2012.  Mom of three. Owner of Buoyant Birth - Birth Pool Rentals & Sales
Jun 01, 2017
A tokophobia birth story; Cee Fee’s Positive Birth
Today I'm sharing a fabulous positive birth story on the podcast. It's fabulous because it's positive and empowering birth, obviously. But also because it's a tokophobia birth story. I'm joined today by Cee Fee Dunn who admits to being completely terrified of pregnancy and birth. Cee Fee and her husband had decided that they wanted to have children, so when she found out she was pregnant, she was excited for sure, but she was also filled with dread. The dread stayed with her pretty much throughout her whole pregnancy. Cee Fee's tokophobia birth story is also worth listening to, and not just for women who are terrified of birth. Her birth did not go to plan and the birth she had, was not the birth she wanted. Things changed. But, despite all this, Cee Fee was able to roll with it and still feel in control of HOW things unfolded and WHAT happened. And this is important. We can't guarantee how our births will go, but being well-informed and savvy can help to ensure you experience your birth as positive, no matter what happens. And surely, that's the ultimate goal. Tokophobia Birth Story During our chat, Cee Fee shares: The strategies she used to keep her fear under control, and ultimately reduce it sufficiently to be able to embrace her birth experience How she prepared for her birth How she dealt with her fears instead of doing actual fear-clearance What she felt as a tokophobic during her pregnancy How she feels her hormones contributed to her level of fear Who she had on her birth team How it feels to have an epidural, and how it affected her birth What she did to adapt and stay positive during the birth It's such a great tokophobia birth story that I hope that it inspires you if you're tokophobic. About Cee Fee Dun Cee Fee is A Personal Trainer, Health Coach and Nutritional Consultant who has spent the last decade working both one to one and with communities empowering women to take ownership of their own ability for self-care. Her absolute passion derives from her own recovery having suffered most of her adolescent life with disordered eating and poor body image and personal demons anxiety and depression. From anorexia to compulsive binge eating and bulimia, from dangerously thin to several stone overweight. Her skill set has been developed alongside her own long-lasting recovery to health. She works with her clients rebuilding relationships with food and body image. ESPECIALLY after pregnancy. Preparation for pregnancy, pre and postnatally is where she truly comes into her own. Supporting women as they venture into motherhood. She could not be more emphatic about support during this time. Alongside her business based in Windsor and South Bucks, she is also a dedicated online coach, writer and life style presenter who has contributed to magazines such as Body Fit and presented and written for BBC Radio One. She lives with her 11month old baby boy Rocco and her gorgeous husband Remo in Buckinghamshire. You can follow most of her weekly antics, recipes, nutritional tips and exercise tutorials via ceefeedunn.com where there are links to all her social media platforms and her blog featuring her own journey during her pregnancy or follow her directly on Instagram for daily blogs and stories, facebook for training tips and recipes, Youtube for vlogs, Snap chat ceefeedunn for more cooking tips, question and answer time and community support
May 25, 2017
Essential Oils in Pregnancy, with Amber Duncan
Using essential oils in pregnancy can be a bit of a minefield. There is so much confusion as to what you can and can't use that it can be stressful. So I knew I had to do an episode on it! To help me tackle this subject, I'm being joined by Amber Duncan, who is a clinical aromatherapist. But not only that, but she is also a mama of three, so she's pretty familiar with the pregnancy and birth journey. She works a lot with pregnant mamas so I knew she would be ideal to have on the show. Essential Oils in Pregnancy If you've thought about using essential oils in pregnancy, then this is probably pretty familiar to you. Women just don't know what is safe and what is not, and so often avoid using them altogether. Midwives often avoid recommending essential oils in pregnancy because they are confused too and so they prefer to avoid the subject altogether. Essential oils can have great benefits when pregnant providing the right ones are used in the right way. During our chat, Amber covers quite a bit, including; Why you need to avoid using a diffuser during labour What support you can expect from using essential oils in pregnancy Typical pregnancy symptoms that essential oils can help with Which carrier oils to use - including one that you probably haven't heard of before How to dilute essential oils to a safe level What to pack in your birth or hospital bag How to prepare your essential oils that you might want to use during labour, including a great hack Why you need to avoid topical EO applications immediately post birth One thing that's a bit scary or overwhelming when it comes to using essential oils in pregnancy is knowing what to avoid. So Amber has rather helpfully, provided me with a list of Essential oils to avoid Essential oils to use with care during pregnancy If you would like to get hold of this list, then simply pop your email in the box below. About Amber Duncan Amber Duncan is the proud owner of Holistic Health Helper, LLC based out of Dayton and the sole instructor for The Apothecary Institute. As a Clinical Aromatherapist, she makes it her mission to educate others on the safe use of essential oils. She does this by offering many classes, workshops and seminars.  These educational opportunities are available in person, via Skype and online. Amber is the NAHA Regional Director for southern Ohio and also has written for their quarterly journal.  In 2016 she was invited to speak at the NAHA national conference which took place this October in Utah. Amber has also been interviewed for articles in various publications including one with Massage Mag, as well as being invited to various speaking engagements including this 2016's SOFT Conference held in Tacoma, Washington. Most recently she decided to add herbal studies to her repertoire and began a course to become a Master Herbalist. She knows this enhanced knowledge of the whole plant will only further allow her to best help those coming to her with questions.  She is excited to share this knowledge with everyone including her local clients in Dayton, Ohio. When not helping others better understand essential oils she is raising her three children with the help of her loving husband. She works with the kids in a home-school format to help them better learn about the things around us.  Such as plants, animals, and how we fit in; so that they can feel comfortable with their knowledge of the world and who they are in it. You can find out more about Amber Website: www.theapothecaryinstitute.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/HolisticHealthHelperLLC Instagram: www.instagram.com/holistic_health_helper Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/holistic3
May 18, 2017
Recurrent Miscarriage, with Naava Carman
Today on the podcast I'm tackling yet another important - but not talked enough about - topic; the recurrent miscarriage. Baby loss is taboo enough as it is, but recurrent miscarriage is even more so, and neither should be. To help me, I'm joined by Naava Carman, who specialises in working with women who experience a recurrent miscarriage through her clinic in London. Naava blends Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) with the Western approach to medicine to help women on their fertility journey. Recurrent Miscarriage The term recurrent miscarriage is defined as the loss of three of more pregnancies. If this is your situation then I please just let me give you a big hug. This is one situation where I find myself at a loss for words because I simply cannot imagine how hard it must be. Any talk that suggests hope feels a little crass because I'm all too aware of the emotional weight that rests on the pregnancy outcome. But when I spoke to Naava, I did find myself thinking about how her work does offer hope to women on such a journey. But not wishy-washy hope; a hope of a more practical nature with a rooting in science. Her work blending traditional Chinese Medicine with the Western approach certainly sounds like a fresh approach that is bringing results to many, so much so that Naava's reputation precedes her. FREE DOWNLOAD To accompany this podcast episode, Naava has created a super-useful 1-page download to help you if you are navigating recurrent miscarriage. It's a flow-chart that captures some of the long, technical words (!) she mentioned on the podcast - the bit where you probably thought you should be making notes! Well, don't worry, we've got your back! To receive your download the flowchart, just pop your email in the box below. About Naava Carman Naava Carman is a fully qualified member of the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine and of the British Acupuncture Council. She founded The Fertility Support Company in 2006, and has been in practice for almost twenty years.  She is a highly experienced fertility, gynaecological and obstetric acupuncturist and herbalist, and is also a Recognised Doula (birthing assistant) and Doula Mentor with Doula UK. Naava specialises in using acupuncture as part of an innovative method of treating gynaecological and fertility problems, combining Traditional Chinese Medicine with Western diagnostic techniques and Western medicine. Her Fertility Support System, which is a three-month programme, is designed to tackle the underlying causes of infertility and helps men and women to enhance their chances of conception naturally and in conjunction with IVF and IUI. Acupuncture is ideal for rebalancing hormones, inducing ovulation and preparing the body for a natural or assisted conception. It can also help a patient to manage and overcome distressing symptoms and can be used through pregnancy, working to help prevent miscarriage and treat symptoms such as morning sickness and lower back pain. Men can also be treated to help increase their sperm count and the quality of sperm produced. Her areas of speciality include the treatment of Recurrent Miscarriage, PCOS, Endometriosis and Poor Sperm Motility. Naava says, “Many of my patients have been told that they will never conceive – even with IVF or IUI – but often this is not the case. Medically, they may run out of options, but acupuncture combined with Chinese Herbal Medicine, nutrition and lifestyle changes can and does result in the impossible becoming very possible indeed.”  The Fertility Support Company www.fertilitysupportcompany.co.uk
May 11, 2017
Being pregnant with PTSD
This week it's maternal Mental Health Matters Awareness Week here in the UK and to honour it, I'm delighted to be talking to Susanne Grant about being pregnant with PTSD, birth trauma or baby loss. Not long ago Susanne found herself pregnant with PTSD as a result of her own abuse experiences. Her journey in overcoming her PTSD is something that she is very open about and it's what inspired her to work with women in this area. Being pregnant with PTSD or with other trauma that may be from baby loss or a previous birth is not easy. Susanne's story not only promises hope to those who have are facing this experience but also actual direct help. Here's Susanne story of being pregnant with PTSD in her own words. "Because of my own childhood experiences (including abuse), which had led to me being diagnosed with PTSD at the age of 17. I specialised in trauma and human behaviour through university, I think it somehow made me understand what happened to me better. As I saw others heal, step by step, I knew that I could too! I just needed to find out how. I had different therapists, tried EMDR (didn’t work for my type of trauma), and so on. When I became pregnant, for some reason, that I still not understand to this day, my pregnancy triggered my past. The nightmares started again. I was having panic attacks and my body ached all over. For whatever reason my body and mind were reliving my past traumas and illnesses. My midwife suggested going back into therapy, but I told her no. I did not want to go through all of it for the fourth time. In hindsight, that was a mistake as a few days before giving birth I started to freak out. I didn’t want to be in this world, I hated being alive, and now I was bringing a life into this world. What was I thinking?! My birth was a great experience, even though the fear created more tension than necessary, it was a positive experience. Over the next few months my triggers became a bit more frequent as I was tired and alone in a country without family or friends to help. It was challenging to say the least. After my pregnancy, I realised that – even though my midwives did their absolute best to try to support me – some of them still tried to guess their way through it. I realised what I had to offer this world, is what I needed the most myself; healing of my past. I remember thinking ‘If we can fly to Mars, I could heal my PTSD right? You know, on the scale of things’. I tried everything I could think off, I asked for help, reached out and slowly but steady my trauma started to shift. But it wasn’t until I dealt with what was underneath of it all, I started to really heal. The healing I found is incredible. Not only do I not get triggered anymore, I am even feeling grateful for the experience. Because – as it turns out – it made me such a great birth & healing coach! That’s why I am sharing my story. Healing after birth trauma is possible. For you, for me, for everyone. Just don’t give up before you found something that works for you!" Resources During our chat, Susanne shared some resources that you might want to check out Penny Simkin - When Survivors Give Birth Birth Trauma Association About Susanne Grant Susanne is an International Hypnobirthing & Healing coach who specialises in working with women who are pregnant with PTSD, birth trauma & body issues. She coaches clients around the world to heal (sexual) abuse & trauma as well as prior traumatic births. While pregnant, Susanne’s experience of child abuse put her on a different road of care from her team of midwives. This gave her a new mission in life and she is now helping others to heal wounds from the past too. Having been diagnosed with PTSD at 17, she knows firsthand how challenging this can be. To find out more about her work you can visit her website or find her on Facebook. Access to Susanne's Free Ebook, Hypnobirthing Course and Heal Yourself Workshop Ebook: https://www.
May 04, 2017
How to have a happy birth, with Beverley Turner
On today's podcast I'm joined by journalist and radio presenter (and now best-selling author!) Beverley Turner. Bev is also the lady behind The Happy Birth Club ante-natal classes that are run out of a pub in Chiswick, London. I first heard Bev speak at the IMUK (Independent Midwives UK) conference last year where she spoke about The Happy Birth Club ante-natal classes that she runs alongside a dream team of birth professionals. When I heard her speak I knew I wanted to get her on the podcast to talk more about it. I've got a bit of a thing about childbirth education and it's this; it's so damn flakey! If you seek out the free birth education option in your community it's usually run out of the hospital or local maternity unit, which by definition means that you're more lokely to learn abotu the medicalised view of birth. This in itself is a very narrow persepctive on birth so you will miss out on lots of important information that can help you to prepare. The travesty here is that we actually NEED to seek out this information and education. Surely we should come out of school with a basic knowledge of childbirth that goes beyond the usual let's-put-teenage-girls-off-pregnancy-and-show them-the-scary-shit version. But we don't. So when we're pregnant, it's up to us to get off our bumps and educate ourselves. Happy Birth Club classes When Bev decided to create her classes, she made a point of seeking out the best in class, which admittedly, is probably easier in London than in other locations around the world, but at least it shows what can be achieved when taken seriously and done well. At £350 for a couple, it might not be the most affordable option for everyone, but that pales into insignifcance when compared to how much a happy birth is worth... and what you'd spend on other big days of your life like your wedding for example. You can never spend too much preparing for your birth, especially if it improves your chances of coming out the other end with a positive birth experience... and more importantly avoiding a difficult or traumatic birth and the horrid consequences such as post-natal depression. During my chat with Bev, she talks through the things they share as part of her classes, but we also talk about a load of other stuff. Given that we're both into birth the conversation does indeed wander... What started her interest in birth Bev shares her perspective on the midwifery situation that is affecting women in the UK at the moment Why she wanted to write her book The Happy Birth Book Why she feels that women are made to "aim low" in birth and why this is wrong But, why aiming low in parenting is totally acceptable Her advice for pregnant mamas who want to have a happy birth And more... I hope you enjoy it! About Beverley Turner I became a birth junkie after my son was born ten years ago and have spent much of that time writing, campaigning and talking about birth and parenthood as a journalist and broadcaster.  For pregnant women, knowledge is power. Honest, supportive ante-natal education in a fabulous location alongside other growing bumps is the best way to begin the craziest journey of your life. When I am not drinking tea with my beautiful Blooming Bunch, I write a weekly Daily Telegraph column; campaign for better maternity services for all women and look after my kids (10, 5 & 3). I am so proud of The Happy Birth Club: there are no rules, no embarrassment and no finger-wagging – but laughter is obligatory. To find out more about the Happy Birth Club:  website and Facebook. The buy The Happy Birth Book on Amazon UK
Apr 27, 2017
Save the midwife
It's time for a rallying cry "Save the midwife!". I've talked about this already on the podcast, but this week, I'm giving it focus. Save the midwife is a campaign that needs support and not just here in the UK, and not just by midwives. This is a family issue that affects birthing women directly. When we hear talk of the oldest profession in the world, many mistakenly think of prostitution - thanks in part to Rudyard Kipling - but that would be wrong. What did society need first? Food? Shelter? Safety? Help birthing our young? Or an outlet for sexually frustrated men? Hmmm.... Midwifery is one of those professions that is as old as we are and appears alongside other professions who perform human rituals. And yet, today in the UK, the profession is being chip chipped away. This makes me mad. VERY mad. Since the begining of time, midwives have been supporting women during their rite of passage from maiden to mother. This transition isn't always an easy one for women, and yet the presence of midwives can be the difference that makes the difference. A difficult, challenging experience can become an empowering, powerful emergence for a woman when she is supported by her midwife. Midwifery under threat Believe it or not the very esssence of midwifery is under threat here in the UK. Unfortunately, many countries around the world look to the UK on midwifery matters, so what happens here counts. I dedicated the first podcast in the current series to independent midwives because I wanted to show support for their plight which kicked off just before Christmas last year. In a nutsell: the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) announced that the insurance level that independent midwives have in place is not sufficient. Although unhelpfully, they have never stated the level of insurance that IS adequate. This resulted in all independent midwives here in the UK being banned from attending births. This meant that women who had hired an independent midwife for their birth now had no-one to support them. So not only did independent midwives suddenlty find themselves without work, but women found themselves without important support. What makes this so shocking is that independent midwives are typically hired by women who feel they need the extra support. Why hire an independent midwife? Many people mistakenly believe that independent midwives are a superfluous requirement for women. But that is simply not the case. Here are some reasons that a woman would want to hire an independent midwife. You want guaranteed continuity of care This means you want the same midwife (team) to support you throughout your pregnancy, AND be present at your birth and support you during the post-partum period. Here in the UK, it is not guaranteed that the midwife who supports you during your birth will be the same one that you have met with during your pregnancy. The midwife who attends your birth will depend on the available midwives who are on shift. Also, depending on when the shift changes take place, your midwives might change during your labour. You had a difficult or traumatic previous birth Understandably, you're worried about your upcoming birth and need the extra support an independent midwife can offer you. Independent midwives can spend much longer with you during your pregnancy to help you prepare as much as possible. You want to give yourself the best chance of a positive birth Continuity of care is shown to improve birth outcomes; reduction in stilborn rates, reduction in miscarriages, reduction in pain levels experienced by women, shorter labours You want to know the person who will support you at your birth Birth is a big deal and so it makes sense that you want to know who will be there to support you. But knowing them isn't always enough. Trust is important too. Some women don't want to have to worry about whether the midwife who turns up is going to be right for her, and understandably so.
Apr 20, 2017
Pregnancy as a rite of passage, with Charlotte Kanyi
Our pregnancy journey has the potential to be one of the most transformative and expansive periods in our lives, and I don't just mean in terms of our body! The opportunity for personal growth is huge, and yet this important rite of passage is not always widely accepted or appreciated for what it is. When I think back to my own experiences of miscarriage and birth, I'm in awe of the journey I've been on, and it's so obvious to me now that being pregnant was both the start and the trigger. When I miscarried and realised that it was relief that I felt, I knew then that I had some stuff to resolve, which I then tackled head-on for about a year. I was rewarded with a pay-off, because the next time I found out I was pregnant, I was delighted (instead of being in a bad state of shock). But, staying pregnant came with its own set of emotional challenges for me; I had to face my blood-curdling fears. Well I did, and was rewarded yet again; this time with an incredible birth experience. As motherhood took hold, the lessons and opportunity for growth continued and to be honest I don't think they ever stop. Once you start on this journey, it's not like you ever reach The Destination; it's never-ending. So of course, my second pregnancy pushed me even more. The lessons and challenges I had overcome for my first pregnancy, came back but from a slightly different angle. I had to go deeper and be more thorough in my inner work, something which I couldn't have done the first time, but that felt quite natural and do-able as I faced them this time around. I share that with you because, it seems I'm not alone in having this kind of rite of passage experience. The universe gives us what we can handle, but we don't always step up. If we don't, we just get stuck wrestling with the same old crap on repeat. In today's podcast, I'm joined by Charlotte who tells a similar rite of passage story and I think it's one worth hearing because hopefully it will wake you up to your story of growth. Things will always come up. In order for us to grow and evolve as human beings, we have to continue to move through our issues, and when you become pregnant, you are preparing yourself in every way - mind, body and soul - to transition into the next phase of your life. But are you open to that? Are you prepared for the rite of passage that is pregnancy? The transition from free woman to mother is massive and issues are bound to come up for you. Open your arms to them. Welcome them. It's normal and everyone has it. Whatever comes up has to be embraced and dealt with - sooner rather than later. The more you face up to your stuff, the more you lighten your load and the easier your birth will be. More Information Find out more about Charlotte Kanyi from Birth Essence. Charlotte's Facebook group Blog post on NPa Free Fear Release Guided Visualisation. For information specifically about the tools that Charlotte mentioned The JOURNEY NPA The Non Personal Awareness Process The Compassion Key
Apr 13, 2017
Taking responsibility for your birth
In today's episode I want to talk about taking responsibility and share with you something that happened to me last week that was a huge wake-up call. It's not exactly birth related but it is ... Last week I had a minor op. I thought it would be this no big deal. They were OK with me walking home afterwards so I thought I'd be able to carry on with normal life afterwards. How wrong I was! The day after the op I crashed into a painful and depressed state. The anaesthetic had worn off and I slowly came to the realisation that I had been slightly traumatised by my experience. There were 6 people in theatre with me and the lady who was meant to be there keping tabs on me just wasn't that interested and kept walking off. Looking in, it certainly didn't look like a traumatic experience, and I'm using the word trauma with tiny T, but it affected me that's for sure. As I was lying there for 25 minutes being worked on I couldn't help thinking about birth (I'd asked for a drape like in c-sections), and in the days that followed the similarities continued. I wasn't prepared for this. I didn't really do any research about the procedure I was having. I thought I could just "go with the flow" and that "it would be fine". And it would've been, had I prepared for it. If I'd done my research, I would have ben prepared psychologically for my experience. I would have planned for being bed ridden and AWOL in my head for a week. Instead I was trying to continue with normal life - work, client sessions and household duties. I was failing and this was making me feel even more crap. My inspiration during this low period was Catherine Holland. If you don't know her story listen to my podcast chats with her. She died and came back - awful bike crash. During her recovery she didn't even use painkillers. All last week, I was thinking, "if Catherine can do it, I can!" I only took 4 paracetamol all week! (< my version of Catherine's hardcoreness!). Why taking responsibility matters I can't help think about the similarities with birth. Those women who don't prepare and who don't do their research are the ones who suffer and have the shitty experiences. One thought kept making me angry last week "Why didn't they warn me I'd me like this?" Well guess what Lex? Your health and wellbeing is YOUR responsbility, not theirs. Just as in birth. Don't hand over to the health care professionals thinking they've got your back. They have, but only to a certain extent. You need to meet them half way. You need to take responsbility too. And when it comes to health this means doing your homework and preparing. It means getting savvy on what your about to go through and understanding the facts and the practical consequences. It means making psychological preparations. For me I had to learn that it was ok to be weak and depend on others (not easy for me!). I can't believe I let this happen to me. With the work that I do around birth how could I have been so naive? And yet, this happens to women all the time when it comes to birth. Intelligent, proactive, responsible, empowered women still rock up to birth with the "i'll be fine, I'll go with the flow" attitude and it crushes them. Please don't be one of those.
Apr 06, 2017
Looking after your Pelvic Floor, with Anita Lambert
Your pelvic floor is one of those things that you take for granted before giving birth. It's just there. Then you give birth and it's not! After my first pregnancy, I went to a weekly buggy workout where we were talked through the kegel exercises and I remember being so utterly bored by them that I quickly lost interest in doing them. Give me crunches or squats any day, but kegels?! All those well meaning pieces of advice about doing them while sitting at a red light or while making a cup of tea didn't help at all. My head is way too full of thoughts to remember doing things like that. The thing is, I'm paying for it now. I didn't realise quite how much until I went trampolining with my daughter. Yikes! Well after ten minutes, let's just say that I was sitting it out. So, when I'm sitting here telling you how important it is to look after your pelvic floor, I mean it! Thankfully, I have Anita Lambert on the podcast today, who is going to help you look after your pelvic floor. But not only that, but she is also going to share with us her wonderful positive birth story. Anita starting listening to the podcast before she was pregnant as she wanted information for her pregnancy and post-natal clients. Then she got pregnant and had two super reasons for listening. She also shares how she used the head trash clearance method to tackle some of her fears duing her pregnancy. One of the fears Anita worked on during her pregnancy was her fear of pain and interestingly, she says that she didn't really experience pain during labour. I say "interestingly" because I'm sure that has a lot to do with the fact that she didn't fear it. There is a known scientific link between a fear of pain and our experience of it and *that* is why is find that so interesting! Anita went on to have a lovely birth which you can hear all about. Here she is with her gorgeous little daughter!   Looking after your pelvic floor Anita is a physio from Toronto who works with women during pregnancy and afterwards to help them to improve their pregnancy and birth experience, but also to assist them with their post-birth recovery. There is so much that Anita shares in terms of how you can work closely with a physio during your pregnancy and afterwards that it's well worth a listen. She's also makes it all sound so straightforward! Some of the things Anita shares include; what your pelvic floor actually is and how to think about it the pelvic floor check you can have BEFORE you're pregnant the physio appointment that is worth having at 37 weeks to check that you're well aligned for birth pelvic floor exercises you can do other than the dreaded kegel ones why it's important to be able to relax your pelvic floor as well as tighten it what you can do to help you go trampolining again what you can do to help make sure you can sneeze or laugh without looking silly why it's not too late to get your pelvic floor "fixed" and what you can do the importance of the mind-body connection when it comes to your alignement We also talked about Pelvic Girdle Distress aka symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) as this was something that I suffered from during my second pregnancy. This is an important episode and I would urge you to listen. Resources Anita has kindly shared some fabulous resources to support you in this area. Spinning Babies - this is a great resource by midwife, Gail Tully, for creating pelvic balance and alignment during pregnancy and labour to help with a smoother childbirth (and can help turn a breech baby) Julie Wiebe, Women's Health and Sport Medicine physical therapist explains how to find your ideal alignment to access your deep core to support your body during pregnancy and after birth: Prepare to Push TM - ebook / ecourse created by Kim Vopni of Pelvienne Wellness and Bellies Inc with helpful information to prepare your body for birth and postpartum recovery
Mar 23, 2017
Childbirth Self Efficacy with Sophie Fletcher
Today we're talking about childbirth self efficacy. I'm taking a deeper look into the psychology of birth with birth expert and best-selling author, Sophie Fletcher. In this episode we're going to be talking about what childbirth self efficacy is, why it's important in the context of childbirth and what we can do to influence it. Believe it or not, this is all very enlightening! The idea for this episode came up when Sophie and I were chatting at the Independent Midwives conference here in the UK. Sophie mentioned childbirth self efficacy to me and I had to admit that I had no idea what she was on about. Once she explained to me what it was, I knew I wanted to chat to her on the podcast about it, because I believe that if a pregnant woman cold get her head around childbirth self efficacy, it provides her with a framework to improve her birth experience - and who doesn't need a bit of that? What is Self Efficacy? Psychologist Albert Bandura has defined self-efficacy as one's belief in one's ability to succeed in specific situations or accomplish a task. One's sense of self-efficacy can play a major role in how one approaches goals, tasks, and challenges.  It's easy to see how childbirth self efficacy is now a relevant concept to discuss on the podcast. Self-efficacy has two different components; outcome expectancy, i.e. the belief in a certain behaviour being helpful in a specific situation, and efficacy expectancy, being the belief in one ?s ability to perform such behaviour. But, the outcome expectancy and efficacy expectancy might not always be congruent; a woman might know that a behaviour has a certain outcome but she might be unsure about her own capacity to carry it out. This bit is key. We already know that childbirth confidence is an important indicator of women’s coping abilities during labour and birth. so naturally it follows that if a woman doesn't believe that she can change an outcome, then she is less likely to take the action required, even though she knows it can have an effect. During our chat Sophie shares some surprising results from the vast pool of evidence that exists around childbirth self efficacy. The one that stood out for me was that women who choose to pursue the winging it or laissez faire birth plan will have the same outcomes as women who are really fearful. The same?? In other words a probable crap birth experience. Childbirth Self Efficacy Influencing Factors Sophie also shares the some key influencing factors that can affect your childbirth self efficacy, which is great to know because then you can do something about it. These include; Vicarious experiences - where you witness what happens around you. This is where culture and media have a lot to answer for. Verbal persuasion - which is the impact that friends, family and health care professionals can have Physical sensations - how we interpret our physical sensations you have One rather depressing conclusion we came to though was that those women who most need to listen to this podcast about childbirth self efficacy and understand the concept, are the least likely to be listening. Why? Because they simply won't be seeking out information about improving their birth experience because they won't believe in their own ability to use that information to bring about change in their life.   About Sophie Fletcher Sophie Fletcher has been a clinical hypnotherapist for over 10 years and is a leading expert on hypnosis and mindfulness for childbirth. Her bestselling book Mindful Hypnobirthing, was published in 2014 and the audio book is being published in March 2017. She is also the co-founder of Mindful Mamma which runs classes across the U.K. and Australia. The audiobook of Mindful Hypnobirthing is being published by Random House in March 2017. Additional antenatal and postnatal hypnosis downloads are available from www.mindfulhypnobirthing.com
Mar 16, 2017
Why the ‘winging it’ birth plan sucks, with Shalome Stone
Today I'm thrilled to be joined on the podcast by Shalome Stone from Rockstar Birth Magazine. When Shalome and I first chatted, it took us a while to figure out what we'd focus on for our pocast chat because we could've had spoken on a whole range of stuff around birth. But once I'd spoken to her for a bit, I knew what it was. Shalome was telling me about her own journey into birth work and what sparked her interest, which for her it was her own crappy first birth experience. Shalome approached her first birth with confidence just believing that because she was a woman she would be fine, she "had all the bits" after all. Basically, she went with the 'winging it' strategy, otherwise known as "going with the flow". Things didn't pan out all that great for her, which you can hear all about in the podcast. When the time came round for baby number two, she knew she had to do things differently. She knew that this time around she would need to do her homework and prepare. If you've been listening to the podcast, you'll know that I keep banging on about the need to prepare for your birth. This preparation is might include things like; educating yourself about birth and the birthing process learning about the birth choices you have and the decisions you might face finding out about the birthing professionals that are available to support you in the lead-up and following your birth doing emotional work if you have fears, anxieties or worries that you need support with mental preparation to help you find toold and techniques that can help you to stay focussed and positive on the day physical preparation in terms of exercises to strengthen your body for birth Phew! Not a bad list for starters! It can be easy to see why this can seem overwhelming at first. But believe me when I say this; it's worth it. YOU'RE worth it! The thing is, the benefits of preparing aren't immediately obvious, especially for first time mums who have NO IDEA what awaits them. So, perhaps I can convince you through talking about the impact of NOT PREPARING, and how using the 'winging it' strategy really does suck. As someone who went with the 'winging it' strategy, Shalome is much better placed to tell how much it does indeed suck. We also talk about budgetting for birth and I ask Shalome "how much should you invest financially in your birth?". She compares our birthing day with other big days in our lives that we spend considerable sums on - namely the wedding, but one thing is clear from our chat. The far-reaching ripple effects of your births mean that investing in your birth is a no brainer. I hope you enjoy our chat! And listen up for this utterly rockstar quote from Shalome "I don't have a magic vagina" If you want to track down Shalome here are all the usual links Website - www.rockstarbirthmagazine.com Facebook - www.facebook.com/rockstarbirthmagazine Instagram - @rockstarbirthmag Podcast - Rockstar Birth Radio
Mar 09, 2017
Expecting Multiples with Mars Lord
If you're expecting multiples then today is your turn! I can't tell you how many times I receive emails from mamas expecting multiples asking.. no BEGGING.. me for podcast episodes for them and believe me when I say this: I have been TRYING!!! Today I'm speaking to Mars Lord. Mars is a doula who specialises in supporting parents who are expecting multiples and what gives her special insider knowledge is the fact that she is a mum of twins. Incredibly, she had her twins AFTER her 3rd baby; you can listen to the full story in the podcast. Expecting Multiples During our chat Mars shares a ton of gold nuggets, and they're not just for the mamas expecting multiples. There's stuff there for all pregnant mamas. She starts by sharing her own twin birth journey busting the common assumptions that are held when it comes to expecting multiples; twins will come early you will birth in a hospital you will have a planned c-section you will need to be monitored you will need an epidural Instead Mars encourages you to approach your birth in the same way you would a singleton birth; Get savvy and do your birth homework Research your birth choices Understand the risks you face and decide on what is right for you. Mars likes to replace the word risk with considerations. Everything is a consideration. Trust your instincts Ask the questions and challenge what you're being told Ask your hospital for the multiples birth policy and remember protocol is not a medical reason; it’s a guideline. About Mars Lord My name is Mars Lord and I am passionate about birth and about women having and making informed choices.  I became a doula because I believe that birth is a wonderful thing and can be a wonderful time. As a mother of 5 (including twins) I know that even when it doesn’t seem to go the way that we want it to, it can still be an incredible experience.  It should be your incredible experience. Find out more about Mars at her website Mammy Doula. You can also followe her on Twitter.
Mar 02, 2017
Cord Clamping – Why we need to Wait for White, with Amanda Burleigh
Cord clamping is something that you might not even think to consider when it comes to your birth plan, but let me tell that it most definitely is. In today's podcast I want to help you to undersrtand why delayed cord clamping should be an important non-negotiable aspect of the birth of your baby, whether you have a vaginal or c-section birth. Today I'm chatting to Amanda Burleigh, who is a well-known UK midwife. I say well-known, because Amanda is a bit of an activist and is very outspoken on this particular topic. She has been campaigning for delayed cord clamping for over ten years and it is in thanks to her efforts that health policies are changing. She is a true hero! Amanda first started to consider the impact of cutting the cord when she was wondering why so many boys (her sons included) had behavioural issues. "After talking to teachers who were concerned at the numbers of children with behavioural, learning and medical problems and noticing the same in my friends and colleagues children. The numbers were too high to be ignored and this got me thinking and looking for a common denominator. Informally I looked at many potential causes, caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, sugar consumption etc eventually (in 2005)  I reflected on our own practice as midwives and realised that although we were taught to clamp and cut the umbilical cord immediately, there was absolutely no evidence to support this practice. The cord for 50-60 years and common practice now) is to cut the cord before the baby has even breathed and I quickly realised that this couldn't be good practice. I looked for evidence and found work by George Morley who stated that immediate clamping was the reason for the increase in autistic spectrum disorders and other problems, cerebral palsy. In 2005 there was little evidence to look at to support delaying cord clamping but there has never been any evidence to support immediate cord clamping at all. All the available evidence did point out that immediate cord clamping deprives the baby of at least 30% of their intended blood volume. I started my campaign from then really and increased as I realised that implementing change (despite it being evidence based change) is really hard to influence. I did change practice slightly in my own hospital and was then asked to be quiet (in 2012) and then I decided to get louder and I started the facebook page to inform parents and carers and I got a petition up to try and influence NICE (UK guidance) to change practice . This attracted 5.500 signatures from over 44 different countries. I also had articles in the paper." Delayed Cord Clamping - The Benefits Delayed cord clamping or optimal cord clamping is associated with: Increased neonatal iron stores in the neonatal period. Increased organ perfusion and subsequent cardiopulmonary adjustment. Increased duration of early breast feeding. Decreased risk of  feral-maternal transfusion Decreased umbilical infections Increased white cells-infection prevention Less blood splatter-HIV protection May benefit neurodevelopmental outcomes, particularly in males One thing that Amanda talked about was the Golden Hour after birth. Here's what se means by that; Safe environment - warmth, privacy, dignity, respect, quiet and undisturbed Slow, gentle and peaceful - Less problematic third stage Raised Oxytocin Decreased Adrenaline. Optimal Cord Clamping –ideally the cord should be empty Immediate Skin to Skin Breastfeeding Time alone to bond Resources and research Judith Mercer - Rethinking placental transfusion bloodtobaby.com Andersson, O., Domellöf, M., Andersson, D. and Hellström-Westas, L. (2014). Effect of Delayed vs Early Umbilical Cord Clamping on Iron Status and Neurodevelopment at Age 12 Months. JAMA Pediatrics, 168(6), p.547. Andersson, O., Lindquist, B., Lindgren, M., Stjernqvist, K., Domellöf, M. and Hellström-Westas, L. (2015).
Feb 23, 2017
When all your worst birth fears come true
Imagine if all your worst birth fears came true. What kind of birth experience would that be? It would be easy to think that this could be the most terrifying birth experience ever. And for some it might well be, but in today's episode I'm sharing a story that shows that it doesn't have to be. Today's positive birth story is from Grace who was a big fan of the podcast during her pregnancy. Grace got in touch with me because I put a call out to my email list asking for case studies to feature in my book; I was looking for women who had used my fear-clearance method to prepare for their birth. "I used your head trash clearance and I must say I'm so glad I did!"  By the time I finished reading Grace's email, I knew I had to get her on the podcast because this wasn't your typical birth story of a birth going just as the mother wanted. Instead it's a story of all her worst fears coming true and culminating in her ultimate worst birth fear; the emergency c-section. Her story is a remarkable example of the WHY it's important to do the emotional and mental preparation during your pregnancy and BEFORE your birth. When it comes to birth, there are no guarantees. Sure we can tell ourselves that we'd love the calm water-birth at home by candle-light, or the lovely birth centre birth surrounded by loved ones. But just because that's what we want doesn't mean that's what we get. And as with all things in life, it's not necessarily what happens to you that matters the most; it's how you respond to what happens to you. This is what makes Grace's story so inspiring and it has lessons in for all of us. Read her email for yourself; "I did use your head trash clearance and I must say I'm so glad I did!  About a year and a half before I found out I was pregnant, my sister had her first baby. Her story was quite horrific. Her baby was breech and she ended up having to have an emergency C-section. She was devastated. I didn't realize how worried I was about this very thing happening to me until I was about 6 months pregnant and began searching for and clearing my head trash. More than anything, I wanted an all natural labor and birth outside of a hospital. I had a birthing center picked out and was ecstatic to experience labor and birth at in it's most raw form. After several weeks of digging out and identifying my fears, the fear of having to go to a hospital and worst of all having a C-section kept showing up. I will say that I had to work on this fear daily and although it became easier and easier to manage my head trash, this one was the most difficult.  My labor contractions began at 6am on Jan 12th, 2016. They were small period like cramps and I didn't think much of them at first. After an hour or two and they weren't going away, I realized what was going on. My contractions were about a minute every 5 minutes right from the beginning. I went about my day, even went to the gym and attempted to workout until I stood up and felt a little gush of something (it was my water leaking out). After that my contractions became a little stronger but stayed about 5 minutes apart. I was elated! I was going to meet my baby so soon! I felt nothing but joy and although at times I was uncomfortable, I didn't have any trouble running a few errands, packing some items for the birthing center, eating some lunch and then relaxing and waiting for my husband to get home. He arrived home around 4pm and we headed to the birthing center about an hour away. By this time my contractions were about 3-4 minutes apart and pretty strong. Again, my fears and worries that I had experienced during my pregnancy were no where to be seen! We arrived to the birthing center around 5:30pm and we were shown to an exam room. They confirmed that the fluid I was leaking slowly was indeed amniotic fluid. My midwife felt my stomach and decided that baby was head down. She then asked me if she could check my dilation.
Feb 09, 2017
Taking the fear out of birth, with Hannah Dahlen & Kate Levett
Hannah Dahlen and Kate Levett are pretty much celebrities in the birth world and I'm thrilled to have been able to chat to them both for my podcast. When I was going through the edit of my book recently I realised how much I've cited much of their research, so this was a real treat for me. Hannah Dahlen & Kate Levett Hannah Dahlen and Kate Levett carried out a study last year which shows that "antenatal education classes focussing on pain relief techniques dramatically reduce the rate of medical interventions during childbirth, such as epidural use and caesarean section. The research, the first of its kind and published online today in the medical journal BMJ Open, raises questions about the way expecting mothers are provided childbirth education classes". The goal of the research was to test whether childbirth education programs can help to reduce the the rate of medical interventions. To do this they conducted a randomised controlled trial of 176 women having their first baby across two Sydney hospitals. The key findings of the research were as follows; It found women in the study group: Had a significant reduction in epidural rates compared with women in the control group (23.9% vs 68.7%) Had a reduced caesarean section rate (18.2% vs 32.5%) Were significantly less likely to require their labour to be accelerated using artificial means (28.4% vs 57.8%) or have perineal trauma (84.7% vs 96.4%) Had a shorter second stage of labour (mean difference of 32 minutes) Babies in the study group were also less likely to require resuscitation (with oxygen and/or bag and mask) at birth (13.6% vs 28.9%) As you can see the findings are pretty astounding and makes undertaking childbirth education a no-brainer. So, it was against this backdrop that we chatted about the research as well as other aspects of birth including the effect that fear can have on your birth and what we can do about it. During our conversation we talk about; how fear impacts birth outcomes the importance of continuity of care for women when it comes to pregnancy and birth, and how it helps minimise their fear value of a great midwife and how she is able to support a birthing woman why relationships are at the heart of birth the role that midwives play when it comes to introducing fear into the birth space and why they need to take responsibility when it comes to their fears and self-care the techniques and tools that you can use to help you throughout birth the key things to learn about before birth that can have a big impact on your birth why learning about the birthing body can help you prepare for birth how by taking a proactive approach to birth education and preparation can influence how birth professionals respond to you during labour   Hannah Dahlen Hannah Dahlen is the Professor of Midwifery in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at UWS. She has been a midwife for 26 years and still practices. She is one of the first midwives in Australia to gain Eligibility and access to a Medicare provider number following government reforms in 2010. Professor Dahlen has strong national and international research partnerships, has received 15 grants since 2000, including being CI on three NHMRC grants and an ARC Linkage grant and has had over 120 publications. She has spoken at over 100 national and international conferences and given invited keynote addresses at half of these. Hannah is the National Media Spokesperson for Australian College of Midwives and has been interviewed in print, radio and TV numerous times and featured in three documentaries. Hannah is a past President of the Australian College of Midwives and received Life Membership in 2008 for outstanding contributions to the profession of Midwifery. In November 2012 she was named in the Sydney Morning Herald’s list of 100 “people who change our city for the better” A panellist on the selection panel for the special feature in the (Sydney...
Feb 02, 2017
Hannah’s Healing VBAC, with Birth Photograher Hannah Palamara
Last week I shared an interview with Independent Midwife, Nicky Grace to showcase the wonderful women that are midwives, but also to highlight the challenge that Uk Independent Midwives are facing due to a new ruling that will prevent them from continuing their valuable work. But, to be honest, there is nothing more powerful that sharing a real life story of what the difference an independent midwife can make for a woman. Well the story I'm sharing today IS that story. Today I'm chatting to Hannah Palamara who is a Birth Photographer and Doula. Here's Hannah in her own words "Before I was a birth photographer or a doula, I was a mother. My own children’s births were what led me into the doula and birth photography work I do today . Each of my births was drastically different. They demanded me to grow and change in ways that I never could have anticipated. Each of my birth stories held lessons and gifts. I wouldn’t be the same without them. My birth journeys were so impactful that I knew I had to help and document other women as they transitioned into motherhood. I delved into birth work by becoming a doula, and soon found that my other true passion is in capturing all the incredible moments of the birthing day." During my chat Hannah shares her difficult journey that ultimately led to her incredible healing VBAC for her third baby. During our chat, Hannah shares how she came to work as a birth photograher, but we also touch on so many worthwhile topics, including how the words you hear during your pregnancy carry so much influence how vulnerable you can find yourself without adequate emotional support the situations that led to her c-sections the value and doing the "inner work" and working on your "stuff" how being told "your pelvis is too small to birth a baby" makes you feel - and how utter rubbish it is! why she decided to hire an independent midwife why she decided to opt for a home birth why you should absolutely consider hiring a birth photographer what a birth photographer can help you to capture when it comes to your birth And brilliantly, since my chat with Hannah, she has received an honourable mention for her photography work by the Internation Association of Birth Photograhers; the only person in the UK to be mentioned! Yay! You can see the competition here birthphotographyimagecompetition.com You can see a selection of Hannah's work below To find out more about Hannah's work visit her website at - www.treeoflifedoulaphotography.com . You can find her on Instagram Tree of life doula photography  or on Facebook - Tree of life doula photography
Jan 26, 2017
Birth, Midwifery & Women, with Independent Midwife Nicky Grace
After a bit of a break the podcast is back! To kick off series 3, I'm sharing an interview with an independent midwife, Nicky Grace, whom I know personally through my local Home Birth Group. Save the Independent Midwife I decided to start with this due to the recent shocking news here in the UK, that independent midwives are being forced out of work because their regulator, The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) have announced that their professional indemnity insurance is no longer valid. This means that they can no longer attend births and if they do, they will be struck off. This is a real hammer blow on so many levels; women in the UK will be forced to use the NHS (ou national health service) depsite the fact that it does not have enough resources to satisfy demand women who feel they need extra care and support during their pregnancy and birth, will no longer be able to receive the level of the support they seek Some women pregnant women feel so strongly about this that they are seriously considering free-birthing (no midwifery support) which means that they are potentially exposed to increased risks in case the situation demands midwifery assistance. Imagine if private dentists everywhere had just found out that their insurance was no longer valid and that they had to shut their practice. It wouldn't happen would it? So why does such a farcical situation unfold when it comes to something as important as birth and women's fundamental rights. Here is more information about this crazy situation This week's announcement: Indemnity provision for IMUK midwives is 'inappropriate', says NMC Birthrights Criticises NMC for Independent Midwives Decision I have a bit of a mini rant at the begining of the podcast, but really I wanted to use the podcast to shine a supportive ray of light on the incredible women that are midwives and for me sharing an interview with someone like Nicky does that brilliantly. Nicky is an independent midwife who set up the Nottingham Home Birth Group, which is where I met her when I was planning my home births. She has been an independent midwife for many years *cough cough* and is also active in the Association of Radical Midwives (ARM). She also provides training to independent midwives through her Grace Academy of Midwifery and Birth. Our conversation dances all over the birth topic - as you would expect! So the best thing to do is to settle in and enjoy!   New Fear Free Childbirth Member Area During the podcast I mentioned the new Fear Free Childbirth member area, where you can access all the resources that accompany the podcast, as well as see the whole podcast archive organised by topic. To join the Fear Free Childbirth member Are, just fill in your details below to receive your login details.   You can find out more about Nicky and her work at https://birthgrace.com/
Jan 19, 2017
Simone’s Fearless Birth in a Stream
There are birth stories and there are birth in a stream stories and today on the podcast I'm super chuffed to be able to bring you one of the latter. It's an incredible birth story and one that you might well have seen, or at least heard about. Today I'm sharing Simone's amazing fearless birth in a stream. You might well have heard of Simone's birth because she's been all over the internet in the last few weeks. WHY? because the video of her birth in a stream has amassed over 54m views on YouTube! Not seen it? here it is... Simone's birth in a stream During my conversation with Simone - and it's THE longest interview I've ever done - we talk about so much more than her birth in a stream. Thanks in part to her background as a doula and a therapist who specialises in helping women to overcome their fears of birth. But not only that, it's a wonderful birth story that needs to be told, and that is a story in its self given the viral nature of the video. So we don't only talk about pregnancy and birth, but we talk about what it's like having a viral video that goes stratospheric. The birth in the stream is Simone's fourth birth, so we spent some time talking about her previous births and how she came to want to birth in nature. Simone cites her source of inspiration being Elena Tonetti's film Birth as we know it which shows Russian women birthing in the black sea; the minute she saw that film she knew that's what she wanted. A fearless birth Simone is a therapist who is a practitioner of The Journey method for emotional clearing and as such she has been undertaking her own journey of emotional clearance for many years. Her training as a doula also gives her a great foundation of birth education and together this provided a powerful combination of fearlessness that she could carry into her birth. She also carried out a ton of research into her birth options that ultimately ended with her birth in a stream. But that's not to say she didn't have fears - every birth is different - so we talk about her fears and how she reacted to them and dealt with them. I love feeling empowered both intellectually and emotionally about stuff One thing that is interesting is that Simone talks about how we as pregnant women are highly sensitive, and how this means that sometimes the fears that we may be experiencing are not our own; they're other people's fears. She talks about how she was able to pick up on other people's fears during the birth and how she would have appreciated someone to provide emotional support to others that were present, as she found herself absorbing some of these fears. This is particularly interesting for us to note given how many people may be present at our own births including health care professionals, and who may have birth fears that have not been processed or cleared. It can be all to easy to feel fear, but for that fear not to be personal - but unless you've undertaken lots of emotional clearance work, it's not easy to tell if the fears you have are yours or not. I recall in my last pregnacy, that a fear of birth came up for me. I knew that I wasn't fearful of birth and so when I went within, I realised that this fear was my baby's and not mine. So you see, the fear might not even be where you expect! Pregnancy Brain Simone talks alot about the patriarchical society that we live in, and how disconnected we are from nature and the things that sustain us. Part of this dicussion is around the male and the female energy and how our thinking is all too often dominated by left brain thinking, and so when our pregnancy triggers some right brain thinking, some people find it disorientating and label it as pregnancy brain. But it's not! Pregnancy brain; it just means your left brain isn’t dominating your thoughts now and that you have an opportunity to tap into your right brain. I love how she talks about this! Consciousness of Birth As Simone was approaching her birth she had the intent...
Jul 28, 2016
Tora’s Fearless Birth Story from Sweden
My guest today is Tora, a podcast listener, and we had a few emails back and forth during her pregnancy, but what was so fabulous is that Tora emailed me to tell me about her amazing fearless birth. Tora's Fearless Birth "Thank you so much for your podcast. It has been a wonderful tool for me to learn about birth and unlearn birthing fears. I have listened to almost all of your episodes including the head trash clearing method. I combined your material with two free hypnobirthing meditation tracks I found online and used that to prepare for my birth. And on sunday I gave birth to my first baby! Birth was incredibly fast and easy. Not even eight hours from first small contraction until my little baby was born. I was booked to go to a hospital here in Stockholm that I really trust, but in the end they were over booked and we went to another hospital that we knew nothing about. I gave birth only an hour after coming in to hospital though, so the surroundings didn't matter much in the end, and the staff was wonderful. The midwife and nurses called my birth a "caramel birth" in Swedish, meaning it was a rare and beautiful thing. They complimented me on being so calm and able to take direction and were impressed by my ability to give birth, without pain meds, in a calm way. When I called my hospital to say that my contractions were 3-4 in 10 minutes and I think I need to come into hospital now, I don't think the midwife taking the call believed me. She said "keep working at home for another hour, take a shower or a bath and call me in an hour." I should have been more persistent, but I trusted her judgement. She should have known I was meditating the baby out fear free! Maybe I sounded too calm on the phone. After 45 minutes I felt like I needed to give birth and I told my boyfriend to call them and say we absolutely need to go in now. In the end, especially since we had to go to a hospital a bit further away, we were only 5 minutes from giving birth on the high way! After 5 minutes at hospital they saw that I was completely dilated and 1 minute later my waters broke all over the room with the first involuntary push from my body. I pushed for 10 min, and then they told me to stop myself because the baby's heart beat was too slow. I breathed through the contractions for 20 min before they said I should push again, by that time the baby was completely fine again, and after 10 minutes of pushing the midwife put my son on my stomach. I cried with joy and today with my hormones flying around from breast feeding 3 days later I still cry when I think about that wonderful moment! Must be the best moment of my life so far. My boyfriend was an enormous support. He was always by my side, kissing my face, stroking my hair and giving me the instructions of the midwife right by my ear. Since I had my eyes closed almost the entire labour and birth, he acted as my eyes and doula. The midwifes told me they thought we should apply for a home birth if we have another baby. Here in Sweden giving birth is free, but if you want a home birth you need to pay for it yourself. However, you can apply for compensation which you will get if you have no complications in your pregnancy, it's not your first child, etc. Both me and my boyfriend feel like that would be the best thing for us if we decide to have another one. I loved giving birth! I love my beautiful calm little baby boy. And I feel like you helped me through it with all your wisdom and ambition to help women have a fear free birth. Thank you so much Alexia!" I couldn't believe it! I was thrilled! So I asked Tora if she wouldn't mind coming on the podcast to share her story... she said YES and here we are! During our chat, Tora talks more about which free materials she used and how she prepared for her fearless birth. She shares the fears that she had - she HAD! They are no more! Tora also talks about how the fear clearance process felt for her.
Jul 21, 2016
Preparing your mindset for birth
Getting into the right mindset for birth is something that is often talked about. We're often hearing people say "Birth is mind over matter" and that's because it's true! So I wanted to dig a bit deeper into understanding what a great mindset for birth was and I've a great guest to help me. On the podcast today, I'm joined by Ulf Sandstrom who is a mental trainer and hypnocoach who also happens to be a co-founder of the Hypnobirthing Society of Sweden. Doesn't he sound like the perfect guest to help us to better understand the best kind of mindset for birth and how we might go about achieving that? During my conversation with Ulf, we talk about many aspects of mindset for birth because quite frankly he has so much to share. He's also very generously created some free downloads to go with our chat and help you to take some of the things we talk about further. See below for more details! Here are just some of the things that we talked about... How dads can play an active role during birth Hypnobirthing places a great emphasis on the importance of dads during pregnancy and birth and Ulf shares some of the ways that he encourages dads to get involved including; Helping mum to relax during pregnancy by reading relaxation scripts to her. This has the added benefit of the baby learning to associate dad with being a calming influence THIS TIP IS GOLD-RATED**!! Why? Because once baby is here, dad will have a hugely calming influence on the baby which will not only help mum but help dad to feel super-involved with the little one. What's great about this is that both of you are doing something practical, that gets results AND that can be used afterwards. Be a gatekeeper to all aspects of the birth where thought is required. This helps mum to stay focused on birthing. Helping mum get back to calm place during birth by using some tools and techniques he has learned during the pregnancy. His advice to dads is this; Think of yourself as a sommelier at a top-notch restaurant and come from a place of service. **Now, not only is this dad-tip GOLD RATED, but he's also created a dad-script exclusively for you my podcast listeners. How fabulous is that? To find out how to get yours - see below. How to handle your fears If you’re afraid of something that hasn’t happened yet, it’s because you’re imagining what it’s going to be like. perhaps you read it, saw it or heard about it. Or perhaps you have a vivid imagination that prefers to look at possible dangers. Ulf reminds us that "if you develop a fear or a phobia, it’s not your will; it's a response by your nervous system" and that a fear isn't any less difficult for someone than a trauma based on something that's actually happened. "If you’re afraid of something that hasn’t happened yet, it’s because you’re imagining what it’s going to be like" Ulf shares a great exercise which is great for both mums and dads. Write down anything you’re afraid of about the birth - or post birth. You don't need to share it with each other. Once you've written your fears down, set fire to the paper. Setting fire to your fears like this can be really powerful; it can help you not only to acknowledge and accept your fears but also to feel like you've voiced them as well as helping you to let them go. Getting into the mindset for birth Ulf says this on getting into a mindset for birth; "The more luggage you can lose before birth the better". I love how he uses the term "luggage"; I use the term head trash, but we're talking about the same thing. It's all that emotional baggage that can prevent you from being totally present during birth but can also kick off mental processes that could bring on anxiety or fear which could directly impact labour. BUT... and it's a big BUT! "If you haven't lost your luggage, the better mood you can find yourself in, the better." This is a great point. We don't all have the time or ability to shed all our luggage before birth,
Jul 14, 2016
Natasha’s conscious pregnancy and positive birth story
If I had to sum up my philosophy on life and indeed all those important aspects of life, I'd say it would be all about living consciously. So I was thrilled when Natasha, the host of the Conscious Living Podcast, approached me so that she could share her positive birth story on the podcast. Natasha has a Master’s degree in Psychology and works in Child and Family Therapy, so she has a solid understanding of the role that our minds can play in life, and therefore our birth experience. The minute she found out she was pregnant, Natasha applied her conscious living philosophy so that she could enjoy a conscious pregnancy with a very clear intention of experiencing a positive birth experience. When I asked Natasha how she would describe conscious living, this is what she said "Conscious living is being aware; of why we do the things we do, and how that impacts the people around us and the world at large". For me, no event in life warrants a conscious approach more than the arrival of a new human being and our transition into our lives as parents. Our behaviour as a pregnant woman, and then as mother, has such far reaching impact that I believe it is our duty to take our role seriously and think about how we want to shape the future we're creating. remember, this is not just our future but that of another little person who is helpless and reliant on us as its creator. "Everything we do during pregnancy and during labour sets us up for how we will parent" Choosing a conscious pregnancy If you'd like your pregnancy to be as close as possible to being a conscious pregnancy, then listening to Natasha will certainly set you on the right track that's for sure! During our chat Natasha shares so much wisdom and learnings that I felt compelled to jot loads of these down and share them with you right here. Of course, to get the full picture, you're better off hearing her tell the full story, but here's a flavour... Set boundaries particularly with other women sharing their negative birth stories. In a polite yet firm manner let them know that "unless this is a good story, I'd prefer not to hear it". The unconscious mind will absorb all this negativity, so don't let it near you. Train your mind to support you and not hinder you. Natasha chose to change her default mental response of "what if everything goes wrong" to "what if everything goes right". Get clear on what you want to achieve and set out to achieve it. For Natasha this meant having a team around her that she trusted to respect her wishes and desires. Her doula and midwife were crucial in helping her and her husband stay present and free from anxiety during the birth. Don't fill your mind with things that cause you anxiety. For Natasha this meant not being informed of her numbers during birth; her dilation at various points during labour. She wanted to stay connected to her body and her baby. "I believe a huge piece of my successful birth was just not knowing my numbers and just trusting my body, my baby and my midwife." As I said above, to get the full flavour of Natasha's concsious pregnancy journey, listening to the podcast will hit the spot! I hope you enjoy it. About Natasha Natasha Grey has a Master’s degree in Psychology with an expertise in Child and Family Therapy. She is the co-author of the children's book, Everyday Superheroes, and is the host of the Conscious Living Podcast. She focuses her time and energy on wellbeing and wholeness that includes mind, body and spirit. Find out more about Natasha at www.caseyplusnatasha.com Sign up for more information on conscious living at www.caseyplusnatasha.com/fridays
Jul 07, 2016
The difference between meditation and hypnosis, with Suzy Ashworth
Today I want to explore the difference between meditation and hypnosis, and relaxation beause they're often used interchangeably but there are actually important yet subtle differences. One message that is never far away from the ears of a pregnant woman is around the idea of self-care and relaxation. The importance of taking the time to reduce stress and to relax is brought into stark focus when you're carrying a baby, but this isn't always easy. Unfortunately, being pregnant doesn't mean that life is put on hold; you still get all the usual stressors coming your way. Now add hormones to the mix and keeping calm and stress-free is suddenly made a bit more tricky. In seeking ways to help to return to this place of calm and relaxation, many women are prompted to start finding new ways to deal with life, or at least start adopting practices that can help them live more calmly day-to-day. This is not only to help them to relax, but also as a way of preparing for birth. Some of the new things that women discover around this time might include meditation, hypnosis and relaxation but what's not always clear is the difference between meditation and hypnosis, and whether relaxation is different again. So, I thought it would be great to shine a light on this to help you understand the difference, so that you can decide which one is right for you. To help me do this, I invited Suzy Ashworth onto the podcast for a chat. Sure, I could have talked through all this myself, but it's always nicer to chew it over with someone, and Suzy is perfect for the job. As the co-founder of the Calm Birth School (an online hypnobirthing programme) and someone who's recently cranked up her meditation practise, Suzy has got a good handle on how they differ. She's even written a piece for Huff Post on this: What’s the Difference Between Meditation, Self-Hypnosis and Relaxation? What is the difference between meditation and hypnosis? During my chat with Suzy, we explain what these differences are and in summary this is what we said; Meditation It's an active practice that takes discipline and focus. It can be invaluable in helping you to process your emotions and handle your thoughts, while also offering you potential moments of clarity and inspiration. When pregnant, meditation can be a great time to visualise your birth as well as to connect and communicate to your baby. Hypnosis Suzy describes hypnosis as a state whereby you have a narrowed focus of attention, where you become really engrossed in something and you don't notice the passage of time. In this state, you're less aware of your surroundings and you're more open to suggestion. Think watching TV or being engrossed in a good book. Suzy went on to say that as you're more suggestive, it means that you're more open to change which can be helpful if you're looking to let go of some fears and beliefs that don't support you. This is what makes hypnosis such a great tool for birth preparation. Relaxation Suzy described relaxation as "letting the tension in your mind and your body release". At its very simplest she encourages using your breathing to help you to relax; breathing in for 4 and out for 7. When your exhalation is twice as long as your inhalation, then you trigger the relaxation response in the body, which can have a immediate and direct impact on your mind and body. This is such a great way to restore calmness in your mind during pregnancy and birth. Understanding the difference between these three approaches can help you to decide what is likely to help you the most depending on where you're at and what you need. Fearful of birth? If you're in a place of fear, Suzy recommends starting with education so that you become informed about birth, and I completely agree with her. Education can sometimes be all you need to move past fear. If you need more support with releasing fears, then hypnosis tracks can help you to shift your focus and perspective so that you're bette...
Jun 30, 2016
Grief, Loss and Being Pregnant without a Mother
I'm going to keep my podcast show notes short today because I just recorded the podcast without planning it. I just hit record and spoke from the heart. It's a very personal podcast that was hard for me to record and I don't quite fancy having to regurgitate it all for the sake of writing a proper blog post to go with it. During the podcast I talk about the more difficult emotions that we have to experience during pregnancy, specifically grief and loss. This is because last night I found out that someone who was very dear to me died, someone who was like a dad to me when I was a little girl. And this brought back a lot of my own painful emotions about losing my mother when I was 30 years old. Grief, loss and other difficult emotions When we're pregnant, we're likely to expereince the who range of human emotions that simply come from being a human being living life. I know I've said in other podcasts that we need to try to marinade out baby in positive emotions because the negative ones can harm your baby. But I'd like to make clear that I'm not referring to the more difficult human experience that might include feelings of grief and loss. Your baby is an emotionally intelligent being already and will already be experiencing their own set of emotions. And, it's important that we prepare our baby for its life as a human being, and this means experiencing the whole range of human emotions. The emotions that are damaging are consistent levels of stress. Stress is a build up of all that you haven't dealt with or processed and stress has a direct impact on the body. Stress is also something we can do something about. We can take action to reduce our feelings of stress. From something as simple as taking a walk in nature or meditation, to actively trying to reduce your stress through using something like my 5 Step Head Trash Clearance Method. When it comes to emotions like grief, loss and sadness I believe that these need to be owned and embraced. For us to feel them, live with them and process them....and eventually move through them. Not to deny them and bottle them up. Being Pregnant without a Mother Being pregnant without a mother is not an easy journey by any means, and it continues in your life as a mother. The annual reminder that is Mother's Day is a stark reminder of everything that you have and everything that you don't have in colliding brutally in one single day. It's a hard day, for me anyhow. But actually everyday is a challenge. There are always so many reminders of mothers; friends talking about their mothers, even wingeing about their mothers, stories of their mothers droppping by to help them look after their kids; just seeing kids and their mums is hard. Mums are everywhere and I am reminded everyday that mine is no longer with me, and that she was taken too early. Being pregnant without a mother can feel daunting, like you have no-one to show you the ropes or talk you through things. You've got to figure it all out on your own. No-one to call at 3am when the little one isn't feeding or if red blotches show up on their skin suddenly. There are many women out there who are pregnant without a mother and so I thought I'd share how I coped and handled that in the hope that maybe it can help someone else live through it. If I had to summarise my coping strategy in one word it would be this: GRATITUDE! Focus on what you DO have, not what you don't. Focus on those things that went well in your life, and not that those that didn't Focus on who you've become as a result of those experiences and be grateful for that Focus on what those experiences taught you and what changes or decisions you made as a result Focus on the fact that you're a living being with senses to expereince this wonderful world we call home, and ejoy those human moments that come each day.
Jun 23, 2016
Fear of Needles & Injections
If you panic and worry in the lead-up to an injection then I hope that today's podcast will help you. It's for those people with a fear of needles and injections. As someone who used to be utterly terrified of needles and injections, this is something that I’m all too familiar with. At my first very first midwife appointment, I couldn’t even concentrate on what she was saying because there was a needle on her desk that was destined for my arm at the end of our meeting and it completely freaked me out. A fear of needles and injections is very common amoung pregnant women and often extends into other medical aspects such as hospital environments or vaginal examinations.  There is a condition known as white coat syndrome, which is when there is an increase in blood pressure in the presence of a doctor or when in a hospital setting, and a fear of needles and injections can make this worse. Many people choose to avoid medical or dental treatment because of their fear of needles and injections so this is quite a serious fear to have, but can be especially difficult for pregnant women. Understanding your Fear of Needles and Injections To help you overcome this fear it can be helpful to dif a bit deeper to understand what is going on. Do you hide behind your hands when you see people having injections on TV? Is it about seeing skin pierced? Does the sight of blood make you fearful? Is just looking at a needle difficult for you? Could you hold one? Or is it the very thought of injections, when someone just mentions it? Have you avoided giving blood because of your fear? Try to get under the skin (bad pun I know!) of your fear so that you can better understand it. This will help you to clear it. Once you're clear on the nature of your fear - fear of needles, fear of blood etc - then you're ready to tackle clearing your fear. You can use the 5 Step Head Trash Clearance Method - just grab your free copy below. If you would prefer for me to take care of clearing your fear for you, I've created a Fearless Birthing Meditation specifically for the fear of needles and injections. You can find out more below. Once you have cleared the negative emotional baggage that is associated with the thought of needles and injections, you are able to open up your mind to the possibility that needles and injections don’t actually hurt and are OK really. Now, doesn’t that sound like a great place to be?
Jun 16, 2016
Fear of pain in birth
I’ve already talked about pain during birth in another podcast - how a fear creates pain during childbirth - so today I want to take a slightly different angle because pain is quite a biggie when it comes to birth. So I’d like to zoom in on the idea of pain and its close relative a fear of pain. A fear of pain in birth Most pregnant women have a fear of pain when it comes to their upcoming birth. I have a lot of women going through my fear-clearance video training programme and a lot of them email me telling me how pain is such a worry for them during their pregnancy. It was a huge one for me too. Once I started delving into my own fears, I realised that my fear of pain was near the top of the list. It was so big for me that early on in my first pregnancy I was seriously considering a c-section to avoid the pain of childbirth. Looking back, I’m grateful that I was able to off-load this fear because otherwise I would have needlessly put myself through major surgery and missed out on an incredible home birth. So how can we address this fear of pain in a meaningful way? There are some circles in birthing that suggest just not using the p word at all. But or me this smacks of denial and positive thinking. And anyway, just because you’ve decided to stop using the p-word word, doesn’t mean everyone else has. Trying to control other people’s behaviour is guaranteed to end in tears; and probably yours! I’m of the opinion that you need to accept it and embrace it. Imagine you lived in the world of Xena Warrior Princess… and imagine that wandering this world was this big scary mythological creature that terrorised the locals. What would Xena do? She wouldn’t be hiding behind trees insisting that no-one mentions its name. No! She’d hunt it down and jump on its back and then she’d take control of it and use it to fight the baddies of the day. via GIPHY Rachel, another mama who emailed me totally gets this. She says "I just want to be realistic, and allow the possibility of pain into my birth. I have not done anything with hypnobirthing and I acknowledge the importance of the pain and cascade of hormones during childbirth." If you welcome pain into your world and acknowledge its intention you’re better able to tap into its power. Pain has a positive intention that we often dismiss. In day-to-day life, pain is a signal from our body that something needs attention; a physical or emotional aspect of ourselves needs healing. However, in birth the word pain is used to cover a broad range of sensations. And yes some of these might mean that something needs attention. But some of these sensations might simply be the sheer power of nature birthing your baby, which is not something that requires attention or healing. Instead it requires you to ride this incredible wave of energy; embrace it, grab it, jump on it and use it. Don’t pretend it’s not there. It’s avoidance and denial that turns it into pain, because that need to avoid it and its accompanying fear is what needs to healed. But paradoxically, I’d like to suggest that we refer to it as something else. When I think back to both my births, if you asked me what they felt like, you’ll hear me say words like intense, relentless, powerful, hardcore because that is how those sensations felt to me. But they weren’t painful. Getting stitched up afterwards was painful! Stubbing my toe is painful. But birth wasn’t. When you’re doing something physical that’s demanding and requires you to dig deep; is that pain? Do marathon runners say that they’re running in pain? They probably say it’s hard and tough but not painful. Why not keep the word pain for painful things, like things that need attention or healing? Not just use it whenever we’re too lazy to use a word that’s more appropriate. A fear in disguise A fear of pain is a sneaky, slippery thing that doesn't always reveal itself. For example, I had one mama email me to tell me about her fear of tension.
May 26, 2016
Lucy’s Primal Birth Story
This week I'm delighted to share another positive birth story. This week Lucy HG is going to be sharing with us her primal birth story. Primal birth story? Well yes! It's primal because Lucy went all primal in the final phase of labour! Lucy's Primal Birth Story Lucy has been a long time listener of the podcast and would enjoy episodes as she would prepare for her birth so it's lovely to be able to have her on the podcast inspiring other mums with her story too. I recorded this episode for last season, but I ran out of time to post it. Beautifully, this week is when her little one was born, so the birth story you're hearing is a year old: Happy Birthday Sebbie! Lucy is the managing director of an app development company, KuKu Apps, and is half Spanish. She lives here in the UK and made the decision late in her pregnancy to opt for a natural home birth. Her labour went on for about 25 hours, but listening to her, you'd never think it was an endurance test; she just took it all in her stride! Her primal birth story is lovely for so many reasons as you will hear. Now there is so much about Lucy's story that is worth listening to; How she handled two miscarriages and the first trimester of this last pregnancy What made her change her mind and decide to opt for a home birth How she thanks her mum for always speaking so positively about birth which gave her a solid foundation of belief and trust in the birthing process Why she compares birthing to competing in a race. As someone who likes sporting activities like mountain biking with her husband, Lucy tells us how doing this helped both of them in their birth preparation How she felt about her long labour Why she didn't want a water birth (in her answer she mentions cavemen!!) < I told you she was primal! How she felt about the lack of continuity of care from her midwives Why she made it clear to her husband and mum to change the language they were using around her during the birth There is so much in Lucy's primal birth story to help you get into the right mindset, not least a reminder to get back to basics and tune in to our bodies and the inherent power of birth Enjoy! x
May 19, 2016
Tokophobia; fear of childbirth
Today I want to talk about tokophobia for a few reasons… It’s the name given to a fear of pregnancy and childbirth… so pretty relevant for my podcast! People don’t even know it’s THING.. so I’m here to say it IS a Thing and it’s a pretty BIG thing. I want to share more information about it so that if you’re a sufferer of it, you can better understand it, or at least realise that you’re not alone If you come across it in your work, say as midwife or a some other kind of birth professional or person who might meet women who suffer with it, then you’re a bit better informed so that you can help them and point them in the right direction If your lucky to not be afflicted with it, then to help you realise that you are probably surrounded by women who are and to better understand how they might be feeling about your own pregnancy journey What is tokophobia? Tokophobia is a pathological fear of pregnancy and birth that affects around 10% of women worldwide. The word comes from Greek tokos meaning childbirth and phobos which means fear. Now, phobias are a type of anxiety disorder, that typically involve an intensely irrational fear of an object or situation that poses little or no danger. And we often associate phobias with things like spiders or closed in spaces. Tokophobia is classed as either primary tokophobia or secondary tokophobia; primary tokophobia is a dread of childbirth that pre-dates pregnancy, whereas secondary tokophobia occurs after a traumatic or distressing delivery. Another way to think about the difference between primary and secondary tokophobia is this: one is a fear arising from a direct experience of birth, whereas the other comes from indirect birth-related experiences; seeing them in films, hearing about them, medical or sexual experiences. Apparently, Helen Mirren revealed she has tokophobia in an interview in 2007, saying a birth video she saw as a 13 year old disgusted her so much that she never wanted to have children or anything to do with birth. I can totally relate to this. I saw a birth video at school that traumatised me for years. How does tokophobia show up? Well, the physical and psychological symptoms of tokophobia vary but they can include: Recurrent nightmares Hyperventilating Sweating and shaking Panic and anxiety attacks Crying (triggered by sight or even words) Nausea and vomiting Thoughts of death or dying It’s often labelled as an irrational phobia, but in my opinion this is not entirely fair on those who suffer from it. For a start, this isn’t a normal phobia in that sense because for one thing, childbirth can actually be fatal. Unlike being stuck in a closed space, for example. So irrational is probably not the best word to use. Furthermore, its very possible that if you ask a woman who suffers from tokophobia, she might tell you that it’s a rational fear that’s completely understandable. I don't need help. It's a perfectly rational fear. Of course not all, but many will. I used to be tokophobic so I have some insight into this, but when I decided that I wanted to do a podcast on this I decided to ask other women about it too, because we’re all different and my experience is unique to me. My tokophobic experience For years I was in denial about wanting kids. On some level I knew I wanted them, but it never went any further than that. Despite being in a serious relationship, I never initiated The Kids conversation and it never came up. To be honest, I wouldn’t have even said that I had anything wrong with me because I wasn’t being faced with the pressure of pregnancy. But, I couldn’t handle kids, especially babies. If anyone brought new babies into work for the usual “here’s my new baby” drop-in session, I would run a mile. Someone tried to hand their baby over to me once and I freaked. I had to escape to the toilet and cry. I had no idea why though. I was in a group of friends that weren’t into babies and I had no family ...
May 12, 2016
Closing the bones, babywearing and other birthing traditions with Sophie Messager
I'm not one for regrets, but if there's one regret I have about my last pregnancy and birth it's that I didn't mark the moment or honour it with a ritual of some sort. During my first pregnancy I had a baby-shower, but since then my thoughts and ideas around pregnancy and birth have changed. As a first time mum I was caught up in the mass market ideas around birth as I turned to the usual places that first time mums tend to check out: BabyCenter, What to Expect, Mumsnet etc. Unfortunately, these places tend to focus on the surface aspect of birth; your pregnancy symptoms by month, what development stage baby is at, maternity clothes that don't compromise your style etc. And what I also felt was this often came with a consumerist focussed message; what pram/high-chair/cot to buy; ideal gifts for baby showers etc. Back then, what I found was lacking in all this was a recognition of the transformative and spiritual period the mother is going through. At the time I didn't fully appreciate the journey I was on and looking back I would have appreciated someone to highlight this aspect so that I could check it out and find out more. Two births later and I am completely in awe of the power and magic of birth; in its power to completely transform you as a woman, and if you're open to it, for it to propel your spiritual journey. I didn't realise it at the time, but my obsession with clearing my fears provided me with a strong foundation that supported my spiritual growth. You will hear many spiritual leaders tell you that the path to growth begins with calming the mind, and clearing your fears is a great place to start. Looking back I feel that my birthing fears were a gift; a gift that enabled me to fully embrace the spiritual and transformative power of birth. Since my last birth though I've really come to appreciate the spiritual and sacred-ness of birth, in part due to my own powerful birth experiences, but also thanks to the wonderful guests I've had the honour of speaking to on this podcast. So it's from this backdrop that I'm thrilled to welcome this week's guest, Sophie Messager. Sophie is a doula, childbirth educator and babywearing consultant and she is particularly interested in the traditional aspect of birth and the rituals that surround birth from cultures around the world. When I first came across Sophie and her work, I knew immediately that I had to get her on the podcast. Firstly I was curious about all of this and wanted to know more. But also, I just wish someone else had pointed me in this direction when I was pregnant, so if I can help another pregnant mama in the way that I would have liked to have been helped, then that makes me happy. I originally invited Sophie on to the podcast to talk about the Closing the Bones ceremony but in the end we talked about so much more. Closing the Bones If you're not sure what Closing the Bones is, let me tell you briefly. Closing the Bones is a traditional massage from Ecuador. In Ecuador, women are given this massage within hours of the birth, and receive it again at least 5 or 6 times during the first 40 days postpartum. The massage stimulates blood flow which in turn; cleans, renews, moves fluids (may help with milk supply/lochia), moving hormones, immune system, toning muscles and tissue. In traditional cultures, the 41 days of the postnatal period represent a sacred time. In this time the woman will have the closing massage at least 5 times, the first being 6 hours after birth, this begins to put the bladder and uterus back into place. It is said that the hips support the weight of the spine and head and that they are therefore the seat of unresolved emotions and trauma, which can be felt upon the hips as adrenalin crystals, that need to be popped and released during the massage. The massage itself includes sifting with a rebozo, using the rebozo for closing the hip bones, and using various hand massage techniques using oil around the pubic bones,
May 05, 2016
Hospital or home birth? Interview with Sonia Killik
Choosing between a hospital or home birth is one of the key decisons you will face as a pregnant mama. Making choices around your birth can feel a little overwhelming. It can be easy to procrastinate on this and put it off. But actually, that's the last thing you should do, because once you start getting your head around things, you realise that there's actually quite a lot for you to consider. It's not like you have a bunch of inconsequential decisions to make. Each decision you're faced with has the potential to have quite an impact depending on how things go. But whichever way things end up going on the day, you will need to live with your decisions. So for the sake of your future feelings about your birth, I would urge you to spend the time up front getting savvy on things so that you feel well-enough informed on the various aspects of birth. No-one else is responsible for the birth of your baby other than you and your partner; your responsibility for the little one start now. Hospital or home birth? In today's podcast, I want to help you think through the hospital or home birth dilemma. To help me, I'm going to be joined by Sonia Killik. Sonia is the author of the book Birth {f**k yeah!} in which she urges and empowers expectant mothers to take back control of their bodies and their births. In a medicated world dominated by caesareans, interventions and impersonality, this step-by-step guide navigates the world of pregnancy and birth. It provides an in-depth account of all the options available to expectant women – from midwives and doulas, home and hospital births, and all the drugs and interventions in between – leaving the reader fully-equipped, knowledgeable and ready to take on nature’s biggest and most rewarding challenge – to bring a baby into this world. During our chat, Sonia draws on a lot of the research that she carried out as part of the writing for her book. One thing is clear: she desperately wants to arm you with the facts so that you can make a decision that's right for you. By sharing her own personal experience of pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding, this book is an honest, empowering and highly readable guideline to childbirth; Learn about each birthing method available to you How your birthing choice effects your baby and yourself Pre and post birth guides and support Breastfeeding and formula choices I have to warn you though, Sonia and I are both pretty passionate when it comes to birth and helping women to be informed and feel empowered about their birth, and we did have a few rants! But I hope that in doing we help you to figure out what feels more appropriate for you: hospital or home birth. Sonia was a true super-star on the podcast too because she came armed with a ton of facts and statistics around birth, and I hope that this helps you when trying to navigate all this when it comes to chossing between a hospital or home birth. But that's not all. She's also provided a load of extra FREE goodies to help you on your pregnancy and birthing journey, but I'll tell you about those in a bit. We covered so much during our chat, including the difference between a hospital birth and a home birth some statistics on the the level interventions encountered during hospital births versus home births statistics on the safety of home birth why a clinical or hospital environment is not conducive to birth important considerations for a hospital or home birth the need to consider birth holistically when making your birth choices how some birth choices impact you and your baby over the long-term, and why it's important to bear long-term impact in mind insights into how care providers within the hospital environment might be approaching birth why striving for a natural birth doesn't mean that you get it why she considers birth to be a conscious journey the importance of not judging yourself for how things ultimately pan out, or judging others!
Apr 28, 2016
Microbiome: interview with author & film-maker Toni Harman
I’m really excited about bringing you this episode because today I’m chatting to specialist birth film maker and authorToni Harman. Toni Harman is an award-winning documentary filmmaker. Her credits include DOULA! a documentary about doulas (2010, 60 mins), FREEDOM FOR BIRTH a documentary about human rights in childbirth (2012, 60 mins). Her last film MICROBIRTH (60 mins, 2014) about how birth impacts a baby's lifelong health - won the top prize, the Grand Prix Award, at the Life Sciences Film Festival in Prague. Toni is the co-author of the book, The Microbiome Effect, How Your Baby's Birth Affects Their Future Health, published by Pinter and Martin, which explores birth in a whole new way; through the lens of a microscope. Here is the trailer for the film Microbirth I originally got in touch with Toni because of a personal question. I’d read a lot about the microbiome and how the seeding of bacteria within babies is affected by their birth, probably because of all the hype around her film! Anyhow, my baby was born en-caul and so I was curious as to how that might have affected my baby’s microbiome. So after a lengthy web search, a someone in a Facebook group suggested that I check out the film. I thought I’d go one-step further and get in touch with the director and instead invite them onto the podcast. And so here we are! When I got in touch with Toni, I didn’t realise what a birth specialist she was though, so it turned into a real goldmine discovery. Before we started recording we had a fabulous chat about all kinds of lovely birth and pregnancy things. Microbiome and birth When we eventually got round to pressing record, here are some of the things we talked about; what the microbiome and why we should care about it the possible health implications of babies missing out on bacterial seeding the various ways that babies receive their microbiome how we can boost our levels of good bacteria when we’re pregnant what we can do to support babies born en-caul in terms of microbiome what we can do post birth to create optimal conditions for the good bacteria to flourish the difference between pre and pro biotics, and the role they play in our bacterial life why we need to think positively about the presence of poo during birth the need for research into the long-term impact and health implications for many birth interventions used today Toni's next project is A Probiotic Life which you can find out more about here Support the podcast
Apr 21, 2016
Fear of losing control
I decided to bring out this surprise sneaky podcast episode BEFORE the start of season 2 because I didn’t want to wait that long to share this. This podcast came about as a result of a client session I had a few weeks back. We were talking about control; losing control, being in control and feeling out of control. One of my client’s fears was losing control, which is very common among pregnant women when they think about birth. I myself experienced this too. The thing is, control is quite complex and there are many aspects to it. So if we are to clear this fear we need to do some digging first. At the end of the session, my client said that this conversation alone gave her a HUGE attitude shift and now SHE GOT IT! It was soon after that I started thinking about you my lovely listeners, especially those of you who have emailed me.. specifically those of you who are due in the next 6 weeks! I had to share this BEFORE season 2 so that you could benefit from it too. So here it is. Fear of losing control, and how to overcome it When it comes to control, there are different aspects to it that I think is worth exploring as the subtle distinctions between them are important. HAVING control and BEING in control Firstly there’s the idea of having control or being in control… this typically applies to situations… are you in control of what is happening externally? what people are doing etc. If being in control is very important for you, then when other people have control instead of you, it can can often cause problems, especially if you’re a control freak! FEELING out of control This is different from NOT BEING in control. This is an emotion where you FEEL out of control… and this doesn’t necessarily have a bearing on reality. We often hear people say how they felt completely out of control in a particular situation, and yet on the outside it looked like they'd got it together… so this is an emotional response. If this emotion really takes hold, then it often leads to the next one which is Losing control Which for many means emotionally losing control, losing a grip, not being able to keep it together. We can see this happening in someone and they might start getting emotional or angry. Or it could mean losing control of their senses or their body… like screaming or grunting. Someone who FEELS out of control doesn’t necessarily become that person that loses it though. So why am I sharing this? Well, one fear that crops up time and time again when it comes to birth is fear of losing control. But what does that mean exactly? If this is one of your fears then I’d like to invite you to give this some thought. If you’re familiar with the 5-step process that I share that can be used to clear your fears, then you’ll be pleased to know that you can use it to help with this very issue. But in order to do so, you need to be pretty clear on what you mean by LOSING CONTROL. Is it a fear of not being in control of how the birth is going? Is it a fear of losing it emotionally and crying, getting emotional in a way that you can’t control? Is it a fear of losing control of your body and pooing and weeing everywhere? Is it fear of losing control over the decisions being made about your birth? So the medical team retaining control? What is it for you? Having a better understanding of the various aspects of control can help us to figure out how to help you get past this. So if this is an issue for you I would urge you to give this some thought and take the time to work on this in advance of your birth. So why am I urging you to sort this out? This fear of losing control can only cause problems during birth. For a start it’s a fear and so will have a negative physiological impact on your body during labour and lead to things like a long labour or painful contractions. THE ONLY THING you should be focussed on is staying in the birthing zone so that your body can just get on with it.
Jan 21, 2016
Alexia’s Positive Birth Stories
I can't quite believe it, but this is the last episode in the first season of the Fear Free Childbirth Podcast. To finish I thought it would be nice to end with my own positive birth stories. After all, it's the birth of my two daughters that have inspired all my work in this area and for me it all started with these two very magical experiences. To help me share my positive birth stories, I invited Jennifer Nesbit Holt back on the show to be my guest host. I chatted to Jennifer right at the beginning of the podcast about her wonderful birth story, and as a fellow podcaster, I knew she'd do a great job. (And I just LOVE her accent!). My Positive Birth Stories If you've ben listening to the podcast, you'll know that I when I was first pregnant, I was completely terrified of giving birth. I had all sorts of things going on in my head that I knew I had to face up and deal with before my birth. During my chat I share how I went from being completely phobic... looking back I'm sure it was tokophobia... to being totally fear free about birth; How I felt about my first pregnancy that ended in a miscarriage What I did to help me to overcome my fears in the lead up to my first birth How I dealt with my fear of the ring of fire as my baby was crowning during my first birth How my second pregnancy compared to my first when it came to my level of fear Why my second pregnancy forced me to immerse myself in birth edcuation How being an older mum changed my second pregnancy How I dealt with the negativity from my medical team when I was being pressured to be induced at 38 weeks Why I asked my medical team to agree on a different due date to the one I was given How I handled the stress of regular fetal monitoring How I prepared for my second birth Visualisations around how I wanted my birth to be Talking to my baby Clearing my baby's fears How I believe visualisation contributed to my second birth There is so much more that I would have liked to have shared, but I'm going to save it for my second season. Of course, if you have any questions, then come and ask me - you can do it below in the comments or just email me at alexia [at] this domain! Season 2 of the podcast will return in early 2016 and I would love to know if there is anything that you would like to hear. Let me know if there are any topics that you're interested to hear more about, or maybe there are some guests that you think would be great to have on the show. Let me know in the comments!
Dec 03, 2015
Cath’s Gentle C-section Positive Birth Story
Today on the podcast I’ve got a positive birth story with a difference because today’s story is a beautiful gentle c-section story. A previous podcast guest of mine, Emily told me about Cath and suggested her as a guest for the podcast because of how positive her story is for a c-section. Cesareans get a lot of bad press, and they are often regarded with dismay by vaginal birth advocates, but that takes away the important role they can play when the safety of both mum and baby is concerned. Cath’s previous two births had both ended in emergency c-sections due to similar issues so when she found herself pregnant for the 3rd time, she instinctively felt that it would be best for both her and her baby to plan for caesarian from the outset. Her consultant was a big fan of natural birth and he had supported her throughout both her previous pregnancies and births, so when he shared with her that he felt that a c-section would be preferable for her and baby, she trusted him. So, at 20 weeks she made her decision and picked a birthing date. She decided to pick a date one week before her due date because she didn’t want to risk her body going into labour Due to her previous birth experiences, she decided that she wanted to plan her birth so that it could be the most positive birth experience possible. And so began a period of preparation for Cath that is probably a little different to how most other mothers prepare for their births. During our chat, Cath shares How she prepared for her birth including how she “negotiated” her wishes and desires with her medical team how she consulted with her Supervisor of Midwives to understand what was reasonable for her to request for her birth, and how doing this gave her confidence in making her requests. how the way that she was treated by medical staff mattered to her, both in the lead up other birth and during it… and what they did that was brilliant! what she wanted from her gentle csection experience…. and what she ended up having The key aspects to a gentle c-section that Cath wanted were A slow delivery; take out baby's head and shoulders but let the womb contracting bring baby out. This means no pulling of baby for them to come out.. or if it's required for it to be minimised where possible Skin to skin immediately following birth Delayed cord clamping Baby to be left on mum for as long as possible before being handled and checked over by medical staff Cath also shared her experience of placenta encapsulation and placenta smoothies; why she wanted to and how it tasted tandem nursing; nursing 2 children Cath's advice if you're preparing for a gentle c-section Cath's advice to mamas preparing for gentle c-section Find a positive birth group - see Positive Birth Movement for a group in your local area Search for other local birthing groups, even if you simply connect with them on Facebook, as Cath did to her local Home Birth Group Seek out Gentle Cesarean groups on Facebook Get informed and know your rights What would Cath do differently? When I asked Cath if she would have done anything differently, she said she wished she had done something around gut flora and micro biome. There is a mounting evidence that babies born vaginally receive significant levels os gut flora from their mother as part of the birthing process. As such more and more people are choosing to take a vaginal swab of the mother and pass it to baby to help ensure the baby received this valuable healthy bacteria. It is said to help to build immunity and combat against things like allergies. Here’s an article that talks more about this and if you want something more in depth then this is a good read. Resources Gentle C section film This is the film that Cath mentioned during our chat. Adventures in tandem nursing - the book Cath shared on nursing two children Cath mentioned being inspired by some research into natural cesareans and you can read m...
Nov 26, 2015
Fearless Birthing
Alexia talks about the Fearless Birthing approach to birth preparation that is entirely focused on clearing fears for a positive birth experience.
Nov 20, 2015
Lisa’s Fearless Birthing Story
Today, I’m super thrilled to be able to share with you a positive birth story with a difference. It’s different because Lisa prepared for her birth using Fearless Birthing so it's the first it's the first Fearless Birthing story. I’ll be doing a podcast next week on Fearless Birthing so you can find out more about it then, but here’s a quick overview; Fearless Birthing is a birth preparation approach that I’ve developed that is entirely focused on helping mama (and dad) to clear their fears so that they can approach birth fear free. A fearless mama will be much better able to stay present and connected to her body and her baby during labour. By developing her emotional resilience before birth, she is also much better placed to respond flexibly to the demands of labour, and so improve the chances of her having a positive birth experience. The technique at the heart of Fearless Birthing offers a direct and focused fear-clearance action that works deeply and quickly to clear fears from the mind and body. In removing the mental distractions and helping the mama develop trust in her body’s ability to birth her baby, the power of the birthing body can be allowed to take over. Lisa's Fearless Birthing Story Lisa is a careers advisor and first time mum, and she describes herself as someone who was extremely fearful of giving birth and even went as far as to say she was phobic about it (a fear of childbirth is known as tokophobia). She couldn’t even bring herself to imagine how life might be beyond birth because she simply couldn’t contemplate birth or how she was actually going to get through it. It was like a big dark cloud hanging over her pregnancy. When she first found out she was pregnant, Lisa heard about the work I was doing around pregnancy and birth and got in touch to see if I could help. I was in the early days of developing Fearless Birthing so I asked her to let me know what her fears were so that I could create something that could help. I’d already been collecting pregnancy fears from women that I’d been helping and it didn’t surprise me to see that Lisa’s fears were very common and ones that I had come across already. So I shared with her one of my early Fearless Birthing Meditations. I didn’t realise how much she had listened to it or indeed how much it had helped her, so speaking to her was a real treat for me. During our chat Lisa shares… how she managed to turn her fears around and embrace birth. Truly wonderful! hypnobirthing; why she didn’t like it and why it didn’t work for her how meditating helped her during her super-stressful pregnancy (she moved twice!) why her husband banned her from watching One Born Every Minute during her pregnancy how her attitude shift around pain and making friends with it helped her to embrace birth Since our chat, Lisa has also blogged about her experience of breastfeeding by writing a lovely letter to her son, Dylan. It's a bit of a tearjerker as it's so beautiful... have a read here > Feeling upset over not breastfeeding turned out to be a huge waste of time. Some of the resources mentioned during our chat include Tell me a good birth story Neutrality - clearing the excess negative emotional energy around something Petition for the media to portray childbirth in a more balanced way If you're interested in finding out how to clear your fears Fearless Birthing style, then sign up for my FREE 3 part video training series below. I hope that listening to Lisa's story was helpful and inspiring. Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Nov 12, 2015
Preparing for Parenthood, with Elly Taylor
Preparing for parenthood is not always at the top of the list when preparing for birth. When it comes to fears that can crop up around childbirth, there’s one aspect that isn’t always obvious and is often overlooked. I say “overlooked” because I’m referring to a lot of birth preparation approaches or classes. This aspect is the bit that comes straight AFTER birth: the parenting and parenthood bit! Now I know there are plenty of books, blogs and podcasts on preparing for parenting, but what I’m referring to is the impact that a FEAR of becoming a parent might have on you when it comes to preparing for birth, and more importantly, what you can do about it. I receive a fair amount of emails from you my listeners, and one thing I ask is this: what are your fears when it comes to birth? A surprising large number come and tell me that it’s not the birth that’s freaking them out, but the bit straight afterwards… the becoming a mother bit! So, if this is you, then this episode is for you. Preparing for parenthood Now, I don’t wish to get hugely distracted with the parenting - motherhood thing, but I think it’s important that I just dwell a wee bit on WHY it’s important to prepare for parenthood BEFORE birth. If you want to maximise your chances of having a positive birth, one the best things you can do is to clear your fears… if you’ve been following my podcast, you know that already, right? But, it’s not just birthing fears you need to address. You need to address broader life fears, especially those that are linked to you having a baby. So your fear of spiders probably doesn’t need a closer look at this stage. But if you have fears around whether or not your partner will support you in the way that you want or need, then that definitely needs addressing. And therefore, so do any fears you might have around being a mother or parent. If the idea of parenting freaks you out a bit, then imagine how your subconscious will deal with that and express that while you’re in labour. On a very deep level you might resist your baby coming out and this could extend labour unnecessarily. This only begins to scratch the surface around the whole preparing for parenthood thing. So, now I’ve explained WHY this stuff is important for you to think about BEFORE baby arrives, now let me help you to move past it. To help me, on today’s podcast I’m chatting to Elly Taylor. Elly is the author or the book Becoming Us, which is all about the journey to becoming parents and the various stages of the creation, development and challenges of the family unit. Elly Taylor is becoming known worldwide as the Parenthood Pioneer. As a Relationship Counsellor and a new mama at the same time, Elly began researching the transition into parenthood after she unexpectedly began experiencing stretch marks in her relationship with her husband. Over 15 years Elly discovered eight stages of early parenthood and formulated steps to prepare, guide and support partners through each of them. The result is her book Becoming Us, which has been welcomed by both parents and professionals. Elly is a columnist for Australia’s favourite parenting magazine, Practical Parenting, Resident Counsellor for Daily Life website and an advocate for Perinatal Mental Health. Elly lives in Sydney with her gorgeous firefighter husband (yes, they made it!), their three children and a bunch of pets. During our chat, Elly shares; the difference between parenting and parenthood the transition from woman to motherhood letting go of your old life, making room for the new the 8 stages in Becoming Us how knowing about these 8 stages can help you to cope with the challenges of parenting how you can prepare while pregnant to help avoid many parenting challenges Elly is also giving away a FREE short video that summarises the 8 stages of Becoming Us, which is a handy way of sharing all this with you other half to help you have some of those important discussions before baby...
Nov 05, 2015
Elsie’s positive VBAC story
I'm so pleased to be able to bring you this lovely positive VBAC story with you today. My guest this week is Elsie Escobar who is sharing both her birth stories, including her positive VBAC story. She has not shared this with anyone other than her mum. It's beautiful. I know Elsie through my podcasting community and as one of the co-hosts of the She Podcasts podcast. When I said I wanted to share a positve VBAC story she jumped right in. She was really keen to add her voice of support to VBAC mamas and get her story out there. She has not even shared this story with anyone other than her mum. It's beautiful. Positive VBAC story In our frank and open chat, Elsie talks about her first pregnancy and the circumstances that lead to her emergency c-section. She shares some of the fears that took up her head space during her first pregnancy; fear of miscarriage, fears around being an older mum - and how that changed once she hit her second trimester. As a yoga teacher, Elsie was keen for a natural birth with her first baby, but that was not to be. She goes on to tell me how she felt in the aftermath of her c-section and her road to emotional recovery. We then fast forward to her second pregnancy and her journey to her beautifully positive VBAC, which is just fabulous. And Elsie's even shared some gorgeous pics of her lovely VBAC baby, Mae with Hunter, her big sister. It's a wonderful story that I hope will inspire other mamas who are hoping for a VBAC. Enjoy x       Have you had a VBAC? Are you hoping for a VBAC? Let me know in the comments!   And don't forget, if you'd like to be on the waiting list for my FREE VIDEO TRAINING SERIES on How to clear your childbirth fears, then sign up below.
Oct 29, 2015
Coping with a miscarriage, With Susie Gower
Today’s episode is inspired by a listener Amanda. Amanda started listening to the podcast right at the beginning of her pregnancy and she emailed me to let me know how much she was enjoying listening to it. She excitedly shared her hopes and dreams around her pregnancy and birth and I remember feeling so priveleged that she was allowing me to accompany her on her journey. Then a few weeks later she shared with me that she miscarried. She was heartbroken and asked me to do a podcast on miscarriage. So here it is Amanda, here's my podcast for you and everyone else who's coping with a miscarraige. Joining me to talk abourt coping with a miscarriage is Susie Gower. Susie is the lady behind Becoming Mama and she supports women from fertility to birth and she works with lots of women to support them through the aftermath of a miscarriage. She was inspired to start her business from her own miscarriage experience where she felt isolated and alone. Here's a little bit more abotu Susie... Susie Gower is a holistic fertility, pregnancy and birth mentor, qualified hypnotherapist, reflexologist and reiki master.  Throughout her work she has always sought a deeper understanding of the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of conception, which lead her in 2009 to the Omega Institute in New York to train with the world-renowned psychiatrist Dr Brian Weiss. Susie started her fertility practice in Hertfordshire more than 10 years ago. The success that she and her clients have enjoyed over that time has earned her national recognition for her expertise in understanding the mind/body connection, and how emotions affect fertility. Susie regularly speaks at workshops on wellbeing and fertility issues and her articles are published in magazines such as Mother and Baby, Bella, Beauty magazine, Fertility Road, Herts Life.  Susie belief in “giving back to the community” drove her to founding the Hertfordshire Fertility Support Group, and nationally she is a volunteer for Infertility Network UK. A miscarriage can be a very lonely experience. Often the only other person who knows is the dad because we’ve chosen not to tell anyone our news for fear of experiencing this very thing. And yet, if we had shared our news early on, then we would not feel so alone and would be able to seek the support of those around us. Difficult times are made more difficult when we feel alone and unsupported so while I cannot promise to take away the loneliness of your experience, i hope to be able to provide you with support. Coping with a miscarriage During my conversation with Susie we talk about various aspects to coping with a miscarriage and the ensuing journey including; The typical emotional journey that comes with a miscarriage. While we may travel along this road at different paces the stop points tend to be very similar. Why you need to honour your emotions in the aftermath of a miscarriage and how you can best do this. I talk about the chakra mediation exercise that I used to help me to process my emotions. Susie shares how visualisations can help you move on and she talks about the little birdcage one, that tends to work for many people The importance of creating a farewell ceremony and how that might look for you The difference between holding onto the memory of your baby and the emotion of the experience, and why you don’t need to hold onto both Why we don’t share our pregnancies earlier than the 12 weeks BECAUSE of the miscarriage risk and shouldn’t this change? The importance of support groups online or locally The challenges of social media when it comes to pregnancy and miscarriages. Coping with the trauma of Facebook status updates.. how miscarriage sufferers usually stay How pregnant mums often remind them of the pain they’re going through, and how as a pregnant mum, you can be more mindful of how your actions might be affecting others. And finally, we finish by exploring other ways for you to think...
Oct 22, 2015
How to prepare dads for childbirth, with Rachel Gardner
When it comes to birth, dads are often left out in the cold. I mean this metaphorically and in reality. During pregnancy, a lot of the focus is on the mum. Dad is often neglected from appointments during pregnancy and a lot of the communications directed towards pregnant couples are actually for mum. Poor dads aren’t really being spoken to in all of this. And yet, they should be. There should be more information available on how to prepare dads for childbirth.. but where is it? Even if you put a simple google search how to prepare dads for childbirth you’ll only get a handful of articles show up. It’s a shocking state of affairs! The thing is, Dads-to-be are known to experience pregnancy symptoms alongside their partner and they also experience the hormonal changes. Their lack of knowledge around birth can lead to them experiencing a lot of fear too. Coupled with the fact that childbirth is an inherently female event, can make it terribly alienating for them. They too are about to become a parent. The thing is, dads are the best person to support mum throughout pregnancy and birth, and yet very little is being done to support them. One of my previous podcast guests is on a one-man mission to change all this. Mark Harris, who’s the man behind Birthing for Blokes, has just released a book, Men, Love and Birth and is working tirelessly to help prepare men for birth. Well, on today’s podcast I’ve got a guest who’s also throwing her weight behind supporting dads in birth. Today, I’m chatting to Rachel Gardner, founder of Doula Daddy. Rachel believes that dads are the perfect birthing companion and that all they need is some loving support to help guide them. Once they are equipped with the knowledge and practical tips, they can be amazing birth partners. Rachel is a highly experienced hypnobirthing teacher and doula, who has taught over 250 couples and attended 44 births. Rachel is Lead of Sheffield Maternity Services Liaison Committee and is currently working with midwives at Jessops on an exciting research project. Rachel’s great passion together with supporting couples (which includes dads as well as mums!) in pregnancy and birth, is supporting and protecting maternal mental health. Rachel lectures on this subject at Midwifery conferences and is currently helping Sheffield Public Health in this area. After years of teaching Hypnobirthing, Rachel was asked to attend a couple of births and enjoyed this so much she decided to train to be a doula. In the course of this training she was dismayed to find that the Doula’s in training were encouraged to give Dads little jobs to keep them busy “and out of the way”. This went against everything Rachel wanted for Dads at births and also for the Mothers. Rachel is a fierce believer in the role of the Father and Birth Partner at a birth. Rachel has long said that the difference between a good hypnobirth and an exceptional one is the Daddy/birth partner. In today’s episode, Rachel shares how she works with couples on how to prepare dads for childbirth. Rachel believes that midwives are the expert on birth, the mother is the expert on her body and her partner is the expert on her, and that mummy and daddy are the experts on their own birth. Some of the advice she has for dads which she shares includes; If you have positive thoughts about your partner during birth - share those with her, rather than keeping them to yourself. Shower her with love and affection… this does wonders for stimulating oxytocin during birth which helps keep labour moving Touch is super important: stroking, handholding, touching, kisses. Make sure there is that physical contact and support for mum ALL the time Pack some facecloths in dads bag so that you can run them under cold water to help cool mum down during birth if she needs it Have some bendy straws handy so that mum can have a drink Don’t wait for mum to ask for something that you think she might need during birth - lik...
Oct 15, 2015
Pregnancy, birth and motherhood with Kicki Hansard
When I was pregnant for the first time, I remember vividly coming back from that first doctor’s appointment. It was the one where the doctor said to me “yes you’re pregnant!”. So now I’m a bit dazed and in shock, and she says to me “well, congratulations! I’ll probably next see you with baby. Good luck!” And I remember thinking WHAT?! What do you mean you’re only going to see me after baby’s born?! Who’s going to look over me? Of course it was the midwife, but I remember feeling completely abandoned in that moment and slightly panicky. Like I needed help being pregnant. It seems silly looking back, but I’m sure I wasn’t alone in feeling this. What I think I needed in that moment was to fast forward in time and listen to the chat that you’re about to hear that I had with today’s guest. Today I’m speaking with Kicki Hansard who’s a bit of a legend in the birthing world. Kicki is a certified birth and postnatal doula with experience in all aspects of pregnancy, childbirth and early parenting. During the last 12 years, she has been preparing couples for the arrival of their baby and supported many of them through the birth and postnatal period. Kicki is also a doula course facilitator and has trained over 500 aspiring doulas. Kicki has studied with Ina May Gaskin, Sheila Kitzinger, Dr. Jack Newman and the "grandmothers of all doulas", Penny Simkin and Phyllis Klaus. In 2005, she took part in a television programme called "Mum + One" about doulas, which can still be seen on the Discovery Home & Health Channel. Kicki was also rewarded the Pregnancy & Birth Magazine and Doula UK award "Doula of the Year" in 2009, the first and only time this award has been presented. Kicki is a chapter contributor to the Amazon #1 best seller, The Roar Behind the Silence and has just launched her own book, The Secrets of Birth (which you can get a free chapter below). She was also invited to contribute to the UK government initiative 1001 Critcal Days at the Houses of Parliament which is about helping to improve the 1001 days from conception to when a child is 2 years old. Kicki believes that birth is a truly normal, and at the same time, deeply profound event that is optimised by personalised support, defined birth goals with flexibility built in and solid education. Her goals are to instil confidence with true information, equipping women and families for the work of labour, birth and the postnatal period and to understand each family's unique needs and birth goals. During my chat with Kicki we really dance about the whole pregnant, birth and motherhood thing, but what makes it so great is that you really get a sense listening to Kicki of her philosophy when it comes to pregnancy, birth and motherhood; and it’s the same for both. Be open and flexible. Know your choices - so do your homework - but trust yourself. Trust your innate wisdom to do what’s right for you and for your baby. There are no shoulds just go with the flow and be flexible to respond to each moment. And be ok with just being ok. It’s really liberating! Pregnancy birth and motherhood Some of the things we talk about include; Using birth and pregnancy to find out more about yourself and use what you learn in other parts of your life Why its important to be flexible and open in your mind when it comes to birth and motherhood The futility of the fight against wanting it to be normal. It being birth or motherhood. She says “it was the struggle that was painful, not what was going on around me. When I accepted it and enjoyed it, it became easier.” Being open to finding a new “normal”  in motherhood and the lessons for us to learn in being flexible Why our need to control things is damaging. "You can’t control birth. Once it starts, it’s about going with the flow. Just like being a parent!" The dangers with writing a Birth Plan and why we need to think about our birth plan differently
Oct 08, 2015
Induction and the pressure to induce, with Patti Good
Are you facing intense pressure to induce? Well I hope that today's podcast will help! This time last year I was 11 days over my due date so I was never more than a few hours away from hearing the word “induction”. Being an older mum also put my in the high risk category, so I was under some pretty intense pressure to induce from my consultants too. This experienced forced me to educate myself on various aspects of induction; the risks of induction versus the risks of waiting, especially if you’re high risk or an older mum. I was committed to having a natural home birth so it was important for me to be able to stand my ground with confidence against this pressure to induce knowing that I wasn’t putting myself and my baby at risk. How to cope in the face of pressure to induce So, I thought it would be good time to explore the whole induction thing in a podcast. Most pregnant mamas are going to have to wrestle with this one and it can be pretty stressful, especially if you just don’t know what to do. When you’ve been so focussed on your due date for so long, and it comes and goes, it can be really tempting to to just go with whatever your consultant or midwife is suggesting. Perhaps it’s because you trust them, you believe that they have your best interests at heart, you’re worried about your baby or maybe you’re just fed up already with being pregnant and just want to meet your baby. Whatever it is, the one thing that I would urge you to do is BE INFORMED and make your decision from a calm informed place, rather than a fearful place. I hope that today’s podcast episode will bring you nearer to being in the informed, calm place. To help me, today I’m going to be chatting to Patti Good. Patti Good is an empowerment expert for powerful women. Her mission is to help women transform their fear into power, their baggage into blessings and live a life of renewed health and inspired joy! She is a Senior Accredited Journey Therapist, a HypnoBirthing Practitioner and Practitioner Trainer, a Certified BodyTalk Practitioner, Doula and Training Reiki Master. Patti is mom to darling Max who is 6. She loves chocolate, spending time snuggled up in her marshmallow bed and helping women take their power back makes her want to skip! During our chat, we talk about loads, including... Patti explains about how our muscles in the uterus work, and how one is dependent on mum’s stress levels and another isn’t…. and WHY it’s important to get these working together efficiently… but importantly HOW! We talk about due dates - AGAIN! And why it’s important to be working toward a due date that you have more confidence in. Here's my Due Date Cheat Sheet  if you haven’t got it already. Use this to calculate your due date based on calculation methods that are based on research. If you want to know more about the farce that is the due date calculation method then check out this podcast episode here. Patti shares some of her top tips for staying in a great place mentally in the due date drop zone so that you can better handle the pressure to be induced situation. Just grab the free download for today’s episode right here where you’ll also get details of Patti’s FREE relaxation audio that you can use to stay nice and calm.  To get hold of it just click this gorgeous button below We also talk about the importance of fear release and letting go of your fears.. after all it could be your mind and body that is stopping baby from coming out. When you’re fearful, your fears reside in your mind AND your body which is why it’s so important to do the fear clearance work. We talk about why the energy psychology techniques are the best techniques for this kind of clearance work. Some of the techniques we mention include Reflective Repatterning, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and Body Talk. A talk about inductions wouldn’t be complete without mentioning monitoring so if this is what you’re having to deal with,
Oct 01, 2015
7 ways that behaviour during pregnancy affects your baby
Are you wondering how your behaviour during pregnancy affects your baby? Well, I hope to be able to shed some light on that for you. I know, I've been there... when you’re pregnant, you’re bombarded with so much information about what you should and shouldn’t do that it can be hard to have a guilt-free day when you can just think about what YOU want. So the last thing I want to do is to add to this cacophony of recommended behaviour during pregnancy, but I’d like to show you a slightly different perspective on things. Today’s podcast is NOT about all the usual stuff you’re likely to have come across. Instead, I want to share with you some of the more subtler ways that your behaviour during pregnancy can affect your baby. Everything that I’m sharing with you is supported by research, but it’s information that rarely surfaces. It certainly didn’t in ALL the stuff that I read during both my pregnancies... and I read A LOT! So today I want to share with you how your behaviour during pregnancy can affect your baby, in ways that you may not have fully appreciated. If you like you might prefer to hear me talk through this blog post as a podcast. You can listen to that right here by clicking the play button below. You might also like to subscribe to the podcast and listen to it on your phone. 7 ways that behaviour during pregnancy affects your baby Here are the seven ways that your behaviour during your pregnancy will affect your baby: 1. Smoking & Drinking Alcohol It’s widely known that alcohol and smoking are bad for the baby, and one effect is that babies who are subjected to a smoking and drinking mum are underweight and this is probably due to the fact that alcohol and cigarettes are known to suppress they appetite. But, what’s not always known is exactly what happens to the baby when you drink. LIKE THE MOMENT that you’re drinking! It can be easy to brush the comment "suppress their appetite" aside. We all lose our appetite sometimes, right? no big deal! But let me shed a bit of light on what is going on. It might make you change your mind about that cheeky glass of wine…. and no I’m not one for piling the guilt on here, you know me by now... it’s about being conscious and mindful in our actions. Alcohol causes a baby to stop liquid breathing There was some research whereby mothers drank a shot of vodka. Once the mother had ingested the vodka, the baby stopped breathing. The baby would only start breathing again once the alcohol had cleared itself out of her system. For one shot this might be for just over an hour. I never realised this when I was pregnant and I think if I had known that they STOPPED BREATHING (!) then I would have completely stayed off alcohol. Who knows what kind of long-term impact it has on your baby if he or she not breathing for a few hours. So now when we go back to that phrase.. suppressing the appetite.. perhaps it's probably due to the fact that they’re no longer taking in nutrients through the amniotic fluid because they’ve stopped liquid breathing. Smoking makes them breathe faster… probably so that they can get more oxygen from you. It also suppresses their appetite. Alcohol can be pretty damaging around the time of conception too; If you’re drinking around the time of conception, then it can lead to an increased risk of malformations in the eyes, ears, lips, head and face. 2. What you eat… before you conceive Diet is important when we’re pregnant. In fact, the healthier our diet during pregnancy, the better for both mum AND baby. But what about just before you become pregnant? There’s mounting evidence to support the idea that your diet before and around conception is also hugely important for your baby’s growth and development. There are 2 studies that shed more light on this; the Dutch Hunger/Famine study which shares the effect of famine on the mother and their babies, and more recently a British study in Gambia which shows the star...
Sep 24, 2015
The 4 things I want to say to you if you’re due any day
Are you due any day? Then this is for you! This post is inspired by and dedicated to Alia, one of my podcast listeners. I decided to touch base with Alia as I knew she was due around now and she replied to let me know that I was emailing her ON HER DUE DATE! Her little mister still hadn't made an appearance but that she was feeling great and looking forward to the birth. When I was replying to her, I immediately thought of lots of things I wanted to say to her, but it was late and I was supposed to be turning the light out and going to sleep, so I kept it short. But in the morning, I thought that I'd still like to share some words with her and then it hit me.. why not turn it into a podcast?! I'm sure there there are other mamas who are due any day might appreciate hearing these words too. So that is where today's podcast has come from. Here are the 4 things that I want to say to you if you're due any day 1. Be patient I know this bit can be really hard. We can’t help it, we have a due date in our heads and we focus on it waiting for it to arrive. It symbolises such a momentous event; the actual birth, meeting our little one, becoming a mother..again maybe, saying goodbye to our old life, welcoming the new… This is BIG! and yet, we don’t know exactly when it’s going to unfold. Towards the end, you can feel pretty fed with the whole pregnancy thing and you just want it to end. The trick here is be mindful and stay in the present. Easier than it sounds I know! But if you focus on anything other than the here and now 2. Create a bubble of positive calmness for yourself Try to start disconnected from the real world.. social media, TV and start going within. This calmness before the storm won’t last long so claim it while you can. This is when we reap the benefits of telling people a due month, or adding a couple of weeks to the due date that you share with people because you probably won’t be getting all those texts and FB messages asking for updates yet. You can read more about my view on due dates here. 3. Connect & talk to your baby Some people find this hard, but it’s actually very simple. Find a quiet spot for you to be undisturbed…maybe sitting under a tree at the park, on a lounger in the garden, or just at home on a load of cushions. Once you’re comfy, just start to feel your baby through your belly. Maybe push down a bit to let them know you’d like to chat. And then, just start talking! You can do this in your head if you want, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is the intention and the feeling that lies behind what you’re saying. Here are some of the things that I was saying to my little one while I was waiting for her How are you? I’m really looking forward to meet you! Are you ready to come out? I’d just like to share with you how I’d like our birth to go... you, me and my body know exactly how to do this so it should all be fine. I totally trust you and my body to be able to bring you out safely and smoothly I know that the best thing for me to do is to step aside and let you two run the show.. but I’ll be there if you need me to... you know that right? It’s going to be painless for both of us… so there’s no need to worry. I’m saying that for my benefit too by the way! We’re going to enjoy it... it’s exciting! I bet you’re excited… I am! Daddy CAN NOT WAIT to meet you! He’s going to be the first person that you touch.. how’s that for a welcome! We’re going to be able to look back on your arrival with joy and happiness Now, I’ve heard that second births are half as long as first births, so this means that you might show up in 3 hours. I’m totally cool with that. In fact, a short birth would be nice. So, how about we wrap this whole thing up in 3 hours? Yep? I’m up for that if you are. There’s no point dragging this thing out.. You know what you’re doing and my body knows what it’s doing. As long as I get out the way this shouldn’t be a problem. Yep? Cool. 4. MOVE! Keep moving!
Sep 17, 2015
Shakira Akabusi’s Positive Birth Story
I'm thrilled to be able to share with you another fabulous positive birth story. Today I'm chatting to Shakira Akabusi all about her pregnancy journey and her birth. Shakira is a personal trainer, fitness coach and a writer and commentator. If you're a Brit, you might recognise her surname; her dad is the former UK athlete and gold medalist Kriss Akabusi, so you could say that she has health and fitness running in her DNA. Shakira gave birth to her son Rio on new year's eve last year so her birth is still fresh in her mind. We've been trying to get this chat done since March but both our diaries have been a bit crazy and our little ones have a habit of disrupting plans! But we made it in the end. When Shakira first found out she was pregnant, she was completely over the moon, but also totally terrified. During our chat, she shares the fears that she had during her pregnancy and how she dealt with them and overcame them to have the positive birth experience that she wanted. Shakira chose to have an epidural for her birth from the outset and during our chat she explains why, despite having a fear of injections. She talks alot about what it was like giving birth having had an epidural so if this is something that you're considering, it's well worth a listen. Now one things that's really interesting to listen to is Shakira's persepctive on fitness and exercise during pregnancy as well as post-natally. As a personal trainer she was really keen to maintain her fitness levels and had to find ways to adjust as her pregnancy progressed. During our chat she also shares with us how she prepared for birth as well as kind of things she did post-birth. As a result of her experiences as a mum trying to stay fit and regain her body post-birth, she's started to develop a fitness concept to help mums continue to exercise WITH baby.. by using baby as part of the exercises. She even posts videos of some of her work-outs with baby Rio on her Twitter feed and on her YouTube channel. This has kicked off a whole new venture for her which she'll be launching next year at Strong Like Mum so stay tuned if you're interested in learning how you can stay fit with your baby. Here's a little peak at one of her videos. Shakira is a regular contributor to Huffington Post and her latest article is about breastfeeding: Bullied Into Breastfeeding: Rise of the Midwife Mafia? so we spent a bit of time talking about the challenges she had with breastfeeding. She is still breastfeeding little Rio, but it wasn't always a smooth ride for her and she has some great advice for new mums to help them cope. You can follow Shakira on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to stay tuned with all the great post-baby fitness stuff that she's sharing. What has been your fitness experience during your pregnancy? And what about post-birth? Tell me in the comments or come and find me on Facebook!
Sep 10, 2015
Interview with Giuditta Tornetta, doula and author of Painless Childbirth
Well, today's podcast is the first one back after my August break and boy am I pleased to be back! I had some great news while I away; I found out that the podcast is a finalist in the UK Podcasting Awards which is amazing! Unfortunately as I was on holiday in places with no wifi and very poor phone reception, I wasn't able to make a huge song and dance about it. The award ceremony is in a couple of weeks so I'll let you know how I get on. In today's show I chat to Giuditta Tornetta. Giuditta is a doula and best-selling author based in LA who works with the rich and famous, and is rumoured to have been Pink's doula. Guiditta also works with those who are in needy and disadvantaged through her foundation, the Joy in Birthing Foundation where she leads a team of doulas who support women who are alone and isolated in their birthing experiences. Here's a little bit more about Guiditta from a snippet on her website Joy in Birthing "Giuditta Tornetta is a certified birth and postpartum doula, lactation educator, a certified clinical hypnotherapist, a NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) practitioner. Giuditta practices clinical hypnotherapy and a method of natural childbirth that uses hypnotic techniques to reduce stress and fear during labor and delivery.  Her love for women and the birthing and parenting experience has  enabled her to help hundreds of women in her practice and thousands with her book and lectures, to obtain the birthing experience they deserve and desire. She focuses on infant mental health and pre-post birth bonding, where she uses guided meditations and visualizations to help women communicate and empower their babies before birth. As a lactation educator and postpartum doula, Ms. Tornetta helps couples settle into a natural routine once the baby comes home. Through education, compassion, practical as wells as emotional support, Doula Giuditta teaches new parents how to decipher the newborn’s vocal and body language. Giuditta is also a published author of the best selling book Painless Childbirth: An Empowering Journey Through Pregnancy and Birth." During our chat Guiditta shares so much wisdom and insight that it's really worth making yourself a nice hot cup of something and taking a moment. Some of the things we talk about include Painless childbirth; what painless childbirth means and how a painless childbirth is possible. How to think about pain so that you have can have a positive birth experience Why having a conscious birth is important if you want a painless childbirth experience What being conscious means when it comes to pregnancy and birth How we can approach the task of doing the work and use our chakras for guidance How the 9 chakras are reflected in our 9 months of pregnancy How tapping into Red Tent communities and the Red Tent concept can help you to embrance and reclaim your feminitity - all inspired by the book Red Ten by Diana Dimant You can find out more about her books here     You can find out more about her work at Joy in Birthing Joy in Birthing Foundation - her foundation that supports disadvantaged pregnant women Loving the Mother - the workshops she runs with Nicola Goodall (who I interviewed a few weeks back)
Sep 03, 2015
30 reasons why I love being pregnant
When you're pregnant, the emotional ups and downs that come from having a boost in your crazy hormones can mean that there are days when being pregnant just sucks. Or, there are days when you're just DONE with it. Let me have this baby already! Towards the end of my second pregnancy, this was definitely where my head was at and I knew it wasn't a good place to stay for very long. Feeling frustrated and stressed is OK in short bursts, but if it seems like it's lurking and lingering then it needs attention. For me, towards the end of my pregnancy I was just getting fed up with lots of little tiny things that on their own are nothing; but together felt like crap and I realised that I just need to shift my thinking a bit so that I wouldn't get as frustrated by it all. So I decided to turn to an exercise that I use quite a bit with my Head Trash Clearance clients. It's super simple.... When you're feeling affected by something that you're perceiving to be negative (because remember, things aren't ACTUALLY bad, we just THINK they're bad), then all you need to do is this; come up with 30 reasons why the thing you think is bad, IS GOOD. Or to put it another way, Think of 30 reasons why you love this thing that you hate. What's great about this exercise is that is can very quickly change your thinking. Why? Well for starters... you're focusing on the positive aspect of something you're actively searching for positive things about this thing 30 is quite a big number and you'll probably find it hard, so it pushes you to be creative, silly and open-minded you drop assumptions about things to hit your target, assumptions which might turn out to be silly and pointless, but you held onto them anyway and perhpas now you realise how silly they are I started with all of the things that were winding me up and tried to turn them on their head. In doing so, it made me look for the possible positive aspect within it... and for many of them, it turned out that I was able to hold on to that view in the weeks that followed. It really helped me to stay calm when faced with those things that previoulsy wound me up... I just wish I had done it sooner! Before those things got to the wind-me-up stage! The truth was that most of the time I'd put my hand on heart and say that "I love being pregnant" but sure, there were days when I didn't.. and I just wanted to make sure that the "I love being pregnant" vibe was the one that was sounding the loudest to my baby. So here are my 30 reasons why I love being pregnant.... hopefully some of these resonate with you too! 30 reasons why I LOVE being pregnant 1. Enjoy the daily awe-inspiring feeling that comes from knowing that you're growing a life-form inside you. 2. Appreciate other women who feel an immediate connection to you and come over and make conversation... and enjoy those conversations as the precious moments they are. 3. Have the perfect excuse to slum about in slip-on flats, baggy tops and leggings. 4. Amuse at other people touching your body/bump without invitation... and yet enjoy the fact that it's not a sexual pervy thing.. FOR ONCE! 5. Have the perfect excuse to EAT WHAT YOU WANT!!!! IN THE QUANTITY YOU WANT!! No - I didn't deprive myself of the usual pregnancy no-go foods - apart from mussels and pate. I gave my body and baby what they wanted. 6. Appreciate the forced slowness in movement that, gives you a new perspective when out walking. 7. Indulge in developing your hermit qualities.... necessary side effect of needing to be within 20 yards of a toilet. 8. Have an excuse for whiskers on your legs.. as cats do, we pregnant women need them to see if we can get through the gap. 9. Enjoy the lack of guilt that comes from not bothering with the housework or cleaning... too difficult/tiring/painful/dangerous. 10. Wallowing in the good feeling that comes from knowing that you're being super healthy, and your body LOVES you for it! 11.
Aug 07, 2015
A Conscious Mama’s Birth Story
In today's podcast I chat to mum of two gorgeous little girls, Laura Morrison. I recorded this conversation with Laura a few months back now and she's just annouced that she's expecting her third... So a huge congratulations! As I was listening to my conversation with Laura again, it really struck me how Laura epitomises the Conscious Mama. Laura used her pregnancy journey to take time to reflect on who she was and who she wanted to be for her children. In doing so she helped to pave the way for two fabulous birth experiences. A conscious mama's birth story Despite her first pregnancy not being planned, the minute Larua found out that she was pregnant it really focused her mind and was the trigger for setting in place the beginings of a huge life shift. In the midst of a successful corporate career, Laura began planning her exit strategy from corporate in creating a life that would enable her to be there for her children while still doing fulfilling work. Listening to Laura is a real treat, because here is a woman who is calm and measured, and who consciously and deliberately took the steps she needed to to help her to prepare mentally and emotionally for her life as a mother and parent. In my eyes this makes her a conscious mama! During our chat, Laura shares What she did to help her prepare for birth including yoga, exercise, natal hypnotherapy and regular reflexology treatments Resources that she found useful; What to expect when you're expecting, the Babycenter app How journalling helped her to reflect and understand who she was Why a plastic-backed picnic blanket is a useful thing to have while waiting for baby's arrival... and jasmine oil! How she dealt with her medical team when they disagreed on her due date The importance of her talking to her employer about winding things down Why she thinks pregnancy offers that perfect opportunity to take the time and space to reflect, to make sure you’re going into it as well prepared as you possibly can. Laura shares some wonderful wisdom and advice during our conversation including these gems; On how to approach your pregnancy: Pregnancy is the perfect opportunity to take the time to reflect and understand what kind of parent you want to be, what you want that relationship to look like with your child... to to address what has brought you from your past to now, and how do you want to move that forward positively. On how to think about your birth: Women can have a better birth experiences if they can accept there’s not one particular type of birth; they’re not all the same, anything can happen. And if we can walk into that with an awareness, with a prepared-ness, then we’re in a much better position to make confident choices. On dealing with the medical professionals: It's important to be calm and clear about what you want and where you’ll compromise on. I'm sure you'll enjoy listening to Laura share her pregnancy journey and the tales of her wonderful births. You can find out more about Laura and her work at The Game Changer Consultancy here and her Talented Women Project can be found on Facebook - just look for the group Talented Woman - Tips for Success. Was it helpful to you to listen to Laura share her story? What do you think makes a conscious mama? Let me know in the comments!
Jul 30, 2015
How to enjoy a conscious pregnancy, with Julie-Anne Mullan
When I first found out I was pregnant, I had a bucket-load of what I call, head trash. Head trash is a term I give to those negative thoughts, feelings and emotions that stop you from being at your best, and for me that translated as having a serious amount of deep-rooted fear around all things childbirth. This fear resulted in loads of emotional stress as the countdown timer rapidly approached D day. Because of the research that I'd come across over the years that linked maternal stress to babies developing things like eczema, asthma and allergies (conditions that I was unfortunate to have), I had decided that I wanted to do what I could to keep my stress-levels as low as possible during my pregnancy. The problem was that I had some horrid dark fears lurking that weren't immediatelyt obvious as to what they were EXACTLY. Like, I couldn't actually put them into words. So, my pregnancy journey became one of curiosity and enquiry. I wanted to know. I wanted to know WHY I was so terrified of birth. It's hard to clear a fear that you can't label. So, without realising it my pregnancy became a conscious pregnancy. What is a Conscious Pregnancy? When I think about what a conscious pregnancy means, the first thing that comes to my mind is the very simple idea that you're takeing a conscious, deliberate approach to your pregnancy. You're thinking about what you're eating, how you're feeling and what you're body is telling you. You're taking steps to improve your state of health and wellbeing by being mindful in your approach. During a conscipis pregnancy, you connect to your baby and you're taking an active role in understanding your emotional life because you understand how it can impact not only you, but your birth experience and your baby. Choosing to have a conscious pregnancy doesn't mean we have all the answers, but that we're prepared to ask the question, and importantly, be open as to what the answers might be, even if we might not like them. This is quite a big topic actually, so to help me explore it further I've found a fabulous guest for the podcast. In this episode I chat to Julie-Anne Mullan who helps me to dive down deep into the idea of what having a conscious pregnancy means. Julie-Anne works with mums through each of the 4 trimesters, whether it's preparing for birth, or coping with the arrival of a new baby. During our chat we talk about; what does it mean to have a conscious pregnancy? how the invisible can affect our pregnancy, birth and baby; the invisible being our emotions, our life force energy what our pregnancy symptoms might be telling us, including the important message behind morning sickness how she helps people move on from birth trauma experiences how I used the Tapas Acupressure Technique (TAT) to help me clear my own birth trauma and the difference it made. Get hold of the TAT process at www.TATlife.com how Julie-Anne works with mothers post birth to help resolve challenges with baby like problems breastfeeding, endless crying and why this is usually a reflection of what it happening in the mothe   FREE PDF - How to achieve more joy in pregnany, birth & beyond - To receive your free PDF, just leave a review on iTunes for the podcast and let me know that you've done that by emailing alexia [at] fearfreechild.birth [dot] com
Jul 23, 2015
Interview with Nicola Goodall, Doula and Birthkeeper
I truly believe that doulas are the unsung heros of the world; the work they do in supporting mums and dads in bringing their babies into the world is truly magical. The thing is, until you're pregnant, it's quite possible that you will have never come across the work of a doula and might not even know what they do. So as part of my mission in helping women prepare for a fear free birth, I want to help bring awareness of those people you can call on for support during your pregnancy journey so that you can enjoy and treasure your birth experience. The birth of your baby is so much more that your experience, it's your partner's and your baby's too. One question I've been asked time and time again by listeners who have emailed me is this: What does a doula do? And I have to be honest, I think defining the work of the doula is not straightforward. Supporting a family in bringing their little one earthside can entail such a huge range of tasks that to list them out would be pretty hard. Every woman is different and every birth is dfferent. Every mum will have different needs and things that she needs support with. But, also every doula is different. The work of a doula is incredibly personal, after all, she is supporting you through a hugely intimate and transformational life event. So it follows that doulas can vary massively from what they bring to their work and the ways in which they can offer you support on your pregnancy and birthing journey. So for me, I think the best way to better understand the fabulous work of doulas is to talk with them so today I'm chatting to Nicola Goodall, doula and birthkeeper. Nicola also runs Red Tent Doulas an organisation which trains and develops doulas so she is wonderfully placed to talk about the work of doulas. As the founder of Wyse Women,  which is a space for women to connect and share stories and wisdom about all things that affect women, Nicola is a huge advocate for creating a supporting network for women, inspired in part by her own life experience, which you can hear more about during our chat. Nicola also recently did a TEDx talk calling for a change in how we think and talk about birth. her talk, Reframing Birth talks about the negative portrayal of birth in the media is taking away the magic of what birth is all about. It's fab talk and at just under 10 minutes, well worth a quick watch. She too calls for us to petition the makers of TV and film to help change the narrative and storytelling around birth. I started a petition here in the UK for Channel 4 to portray childbirht in a more balanced way; if you'd like to find out mroe about it or indeed sign it, you can find out more about it here. During our we of course chat about the work of a doula, but also how doulas help and support women what they're not trying to be when a woman might want to start speaking to a doula during her pregnancy the role of ritual and blessings during pregnancy and childbirth and so much more! I hope you enjoy!
Jul 16, 2015
Pregnancy Meditation, with Toni Fraser-Brennand
Meditation is widely known for its fabulous benefits and many people swear by it for helping them get through life. It's known to help calm down negative emotions like stress and anxiety as well as t help promote feelings of calmness and resilience. So it's no surprise that it can help you during your pregnancy journey and to help you prepare for a positive birth experience. But actually it can help you beyond the birth; it can also help you to prepare for motherhood. In using your pregnancy journey as an opportunity to look in the mirror and address the things in yourself that you would rather not pass on to your little one, you're taking your first important steps as a conscious parent. A conscious parent is one who takes conscious and deliberate steps to become mores self aware so that they don't Pregnancy Meditation To help me explore all of this, in today's podcast I chat to Toni Fraser Brennand who is a pregnancy meditation teacher and helps women adopt a meditation practice during their pregancy. Toni came across meditation during a tough time in her life and quickly decided that what she wanted to do was to help pregnant women use this valuable practice to enrich their pregnancy, birth and mothering experience. During our chat, Toni shares how she became a pregnancy meditation teacher how she uses meditation her pregnancy journey what her pregnancy meditation practice involves her positive birth story, that didn't go as planned, but why this was perfect for her how her pregnancy meditation practice has helped her in her mothering why she thinks it's important to undertake a some self reflection and personal growth in preparing to be a mama and lots more! You can find Toni here on Twitter, on Facebook and, when her website is live, you can find her here.
Jul 09, 2015
Emily’s Positive Birth Story
In this episode I'm thrilled to be able to share with you another fabulous positive birth story. Today I chat to Emily Haslam-Jones, a pregnancy yoga teacher, who had little Isaac earlier this year. I know Emily from my local Home Birth Group here in Nottingham (UK) and so today's podcast chat is live and in person, as opposed to via Skype. And... we did it with two tiny sleeping babies in the room! Little Isaac was weeks old and my Sofia was a few months old.. they were very good, with one of them stirring only briefly towards the end of our chat. Here they are when we met up again a month or so later #cuties Emily's story is so great to hear for so many reasons; she shares her journey about being diagnosed with gestational diabetes and how she had to handle the pressure from the medical consultants how she used her previous work experience in conflict zones as a humanitarian worker to help her prepare her Birth Plan how she approached dealing with and facing her fears during her pregnancy journey what she used to help her prepare for her birth how she learned to rely more and more on her intuition during her pregnancy and then in her birth and so much more!
Jul 02, 2015
Birthing for blokes, interview with Mark Harris, midwife
Today's podcast is not just for pregnant mammas; it's for the dads-to-be too! Well, let's not forget that dads have fears too and if we are to prepare for a fear free birth, then we need to help dads to clear their fears too. If dad can be well prepared and fear free for the birth, then he is much better able to be the rock you need him to be during the birth. So, to help me tackle the important subject of helping dads to prepare for birth, I have a fabulous guest; Mark Harris is the founder of Birthing for Blokes and he educates men around the delicate and yet important matter of birth. But, not only that he is also a midwife. One of only 91 male midwives in the UK out of 38,000 midwives in total. So, a rare breed indeed. He also has a book coming out in September; Men, Love & Birth which you can preorder now. During our chat, Mark shares so much fasinating information that it's well worth the mammas listening too... how the different way that our hormones work result in our differing behaviours why different environmental factors are required to de-stress a man compared to a woman, and what that means for birth typical fears that dads have ways in which dads can prepare for the birth to help keep the oxytocin flowing how to identify a hormonal imbalance in a guy that could lead to post-partum depression, for him! .... and what to do about it how to take emotion our of a situation and tips on becoming more mindful Mark shares insights, statistics, findings from research and so much more during our chat.  To follow Mark and his work, you can find him on Twitter, Facebook or at his blog.
Jun 25, 2015
Conscious Birthing Doula, Interview with Lisa-Jane
In today's podcast I chat to Lisa  Jane Merridue from Doula Mamma who is a Conscious Birthing Doula based in Brighton here in the UK. If you've listened to any of my positive birth stories then you will have heard many of them talk about hiring a doula to help them to prepare for their birth. The thing is not many people know what a doula is, and have maybe never even heard of one. Before I was pregnant, if you had said the word doula to me I would never had known what you were talking about. And yet, they are the unsung heros, helping parents-to-be bring their babies into the world calmly and confidently. The case for using a doula is very strong. Here is a brilliant article that talks about what a doula is and why you should use one, but just quickly take a look at some of the stats mentioned that support the case for using a doula in your birth When continuous labour support was provided by a doula, women experienced a: 31% decrease in the use of Pitocin* 28% decrease in the risk of C-section* 12% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth* 9% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief 14% decrease in the risk of newborns being admitted to a special care nursery 34% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience* To read more about this check this article: The Evidence for Doulas What is a Conscious Birthing Doula? Well I think the best person to answer that is Lisa-Jane, so here is how she describes her work as a Conscious Birthing Doula in her words "As a Conscious Birthing Doula I ‘mother the mother’, supporting, encouraging, empathizing, sign posting, empowering, enabling, nurturing, educating, attending births, post natal support, regularly taking professional enhancement courses – so looking after myself is very important. It takes shape in Hatha and Kundalini Yoga, meditation, and the practice of Birth Art personally as well as teaching it for pregnant mothers. As with each birth we rebirth, our heart centers open even more to love our new child and we change and learn about the new family dynamics and who we are in our new role and this follows for each birth a Doula attends." During our chat, Lisa-Jane shares how doulas typically support mums and dads during the lead up to the birth and during the birth how she works with families post-natally some interesting statistics around home births and inductions reasons why home births are preferable a fab story about one mamma's ecstatic birth how your deepest fears are likely to crop up in your birth around the transition some lovely rituals that you can adopt in your birth to stimulate oxytocin AND SO MUCH MORE!! Youv'e just got to listen! Lisa-Jane is simply fabulous! Have you thought about hiring a doula? Or maybe you've worked with one already... how was it? Tell me in the comments!
Jun 18, 2015
5 reasons why your baby wants a natural birth
We often hear why we should be considering natural birth, but usually this is positioned as something to consider from the mother's perspective. But that's not what I want to talk about here. Instead, I'd like to offer up reasons why we should be thinking about a natural birth but from baby's perspective. What is a natural birth? Well, a natural birth is unmedicated one. That is to say, free of the medical interventions such as pain relief or anaesthetics. Why opt for a natural birth? I chose to aim for a natural childbirth because I wanted what was best for my baby. When I was pregnant, I was conscious about trying to do the right thing “for my baby”... you know, things like eating well and avoiding certain foods and drinks. So for me it seemed like a natural thing to want to continue trying to do the best thing for baby in my birth choices. Once I started educating myself around the impact of the various birthing choices, it didn’t take me long to decide that aiming for a natural birth was the right thing for me and my baby. Now, I say “aiming” because, that’s all you can really do. You never know how things are going to unfold on the day. Any number of complications may arise and your idea of a natural birth might have to go out the window if you or baby are suffering, but I think its crucial to understand our choices fully so that we can make better decisions… and more importantly, decisions that we can live with. So here are 5 reasons why your baby wants you to have a natural birth. 5 reasons why your baby wants you to have a natural birth 1. Baby is more alert Babies born naturally without medication tend to be more alert, responsive and have higher Apgar* scores. *Virginia Apgar invented the Apgar score in 1952 as a simple and replicable method to quickly summarise and assess the health of newborn children immediately after birth.The Apgar score evaluates the newborn baby on five criteria; Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, Respiration. Now it’s not hard to see why a baby would be more alert without the drugs. Let’s just stop and think for a minute what’s happening drug wise… When a woman chooses to have an epidural to kill the pain, essentially the bottom half of her body is numbed. Given that the medication also goes into the baby’s system, just imagine what it must be doing to the baby. Babies typically weigh less than 5% of their mothers, so it doesn’t take Einstein to figure out how that epidural must be affecting her baby; they must feel completely zapped! No wonder it can take baby days to recover.   2. Better connection with mum and dad During a natural birth, the baby benefits from the abundance of hormones flooding mum’s body, which helps to foster a strong connection between mum and baby. Also, because they’re more alert, they can use their instincts better. When an alert and active (undrugged) baby is placed on the abdomen of an alert and undrugged mother, amazing things happen: the baby and mother are able to create a strong bond. Because they are both flowing with oxytocin, the bond is a real chemical one that feels very strong. As the baby is alert, they are able to make significant and deliberate eye contact with the mother and father and respond to them. Some mothers who had difficult, medicalised births often say that it took them weeks to start loving their baby as they missed out on that initial love hit that comes from having all the hormones flowing uninterupted.   3. Easier to breastfeed Baby will be much better able to find the breast through breast crawling and begin feeding. This simply does not happen when mother and child are drugged, and as a result breastfeeding starts off on a much rockier road and mum might find it hard to FEEL the connection with her baby. Difficulties with breastfeeding can cause mum and baby quite a lot of stress in those first few weeks. And of course, it means that baby might be missing out on enjoying the goodness of mother’s milk.
Jun 11, 2015