Birth Trauma....are you suffering in silence?

It was with a heavy heart that I decided to undertake the training I recently did in the Rewind technique. It is used for many purposes but I am focusing on the symptoms of PTSD that many women suffer from, following a birth trauma.

I have put it off for a long time, primarily because I want to work with first time mums to prepare them for birth, to help them avoid birth trauma as much as possible. Unfortunately the vast majority of women I meet have already suffered some form of birth trauma before they discover hypnobirthing, and it often requires treatment before they can begin to prepare for their next birth.

Birth trauma is on the rise, and the number of women (& their birth partners) who are suffering is probably a lot higher than reported, as many women don't ever speak about their feelings with a professional. 

Some women may feel that, on paper, their birth wasn't particularly traumatic, but may still be suffering from some of the symptoms of PTSD listed below.

There are many things that can lead to birth trauma, these can include: loss of control, loss of dignity/lack of privacy, not being heard or listened to, high levels of medical intervention, poor postnatal care, emergency delivery, baby requiring a stay in SCBU or NICU, fearing for their own or their baby's life.

If you experienced any of these during your labour, and have since experienced some of the symptoms, then you may be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. The symptoms can include: anxiety, panic attacks, disconnection from baby, loneliness, low mood, sadness, numbness, depression, difficulty sleeping, nightmares, flashbacks, anger, resentment, irritability, difficulty concentrating, avoidance of anything related to the birth (i.e. other babies, hospitals, pregnant women).

You don't have to have been diagnosed formally with PTSD for this treatment to be effective for you. In the majority of cases, people report a significant reduction or complete elimination of PTSD symptoms in only 2 or 3 sessions. Treatment can take place anytime from approx 4 months post birth and  it is just as effective a few months after as it is a few years or more.

Birth Trauma Recovery

Birth is a life changing event for everyone, but when you have suffered a traumatic birth, it can have huge repercussions for your whole family.

If you would like to see how the rewind technique can help you please contact me.

The benefits of my Birthlight pregnancy yoga based classes

The benefits of yoga during pregnancy are well documented. The main benefits are:

  • You learn how to improve your breathing techniques, breathing all the way to your abdomen, working the diaphragm. With the deeper breath, you take in more oxygen which is passed to your baby.
  • You practice relaxation which is extremely important during labour and birth. When you focus your breath, you are able to relax all your muscles, releasing tension. The more you practice this during your pregnancy, the easier your body will find it to relax throughout labour and the birth.
  • You are able to focus on good posture which will alleviate many symptoms often associated with pregnancy such as lower back pain, pelvic discomfort and you will strengthen your core.
  • You will sleep better, and find it easier to fall back to sleep when you wake up at night (with all those middle-of-the-night trips to the loo!)
  • You will reduce stress and anxiety.

What makes Birthlight different?

Not all yoga is beneficial for pregnant women, many practices can be uncomfortable, and even harmful, during pregnancy.

Birthlight pregnancy yoga incorporates carefully selected and long tested classic yoga practices for the specific benefit of you, the pregnant woman. The aim is to enhance your enjoyment of this special time.

Birthlight pregnancy yoga is simple and accessible to all women, regardless of their fitness levels, condition and cultural background. My pregnancy yoga based classes offer social, emotional, psychological and physical awareness of pregnancy, providing good preparation for birth and the postnatal period.

I am trained in using yoga based practices to relieve many specific pregnancy ailments such as SPD/PGP, leg cramps, headaches, heartburn and indigestion, lower and upper back pain, sciatica, and oedema (swelling). I discuss ways to help your baby get into the best position for birth, and we always end with a lovely relaxation session which helps to reduce anxiety and teaches you ways to relax your body during labour.

The biggest difference with Birthlight compared to most other pregnancy yoga classes is that the emphasis is on preparing your body and mind for the birth. We discuss many aspects of birth so you are fully informed and well prepared. We spend time looking at positions and techniques you can use throughout your labour and birth, including ways your birth partner can support you.

My Birthlight pregnancy yoga based classes are a fantastic way to prepare your body for birth and really complement my hypnobirthing course, with many women choosing to take both and finding them both extremely effective.

"Beginning or continuing a moderate course of exercise during pregnancy is associated with positive outcomes for birth" (NICE guidelines 5.10) 

Our first Birthlight pregnancy yoga baby has been born!

One of the mums from my first block of pregnancy yoga classes has given birth!

I was so excited when I read her message telling me how useful she had found our sessions:
"It was a very calm experience and helped along by the breathing we have done in our sessions. The birth positions we did on Monday were AMAZING and I delivered him in the squat position which helped him along the final hurdle. Thank you so much Jenny for your advice and support. I'll miss coming to the sessions"

"I'm so grateful for the birthing session, all the techniques that were suggested I used and made me feel in control."

Huge congratulations, and enjoy this special time with your gorgeous new bundle!

The ridiculous origins of your due date!

Have you ever questioned the accuracy of your due date?

It might not be something you’ve thought about yet, but when you get to the end of your pregnancy, you may suddenly find that a lot of importance is placed on your due date, so it is worth understanding how it is calculated, and how it can affect your birth.

Due Date

I have recently undertaken a fascinating course in this subject and the overall message I have for you, is that there is no evidence backing up the 42 week rule. That is because women are all different, our pregnancies are all different and our babies are all different!!!

Post term pregnancy

It is really important that you are aware of the ridiculous origins of your due date, because once you reach 40 weeks (your due date), you are immediately treated like a ticking time bomb. A lot of women are offered sweeps at 40 weeks (and then at every subsequent appointment). And a lot of women are automatically booked in for induction of labour at 42 weeks. Unfortunately, there isn’t always a proper discussion about this, and what it can mean for you, your birth and your baby.

So a lot of intervention can occur purely based on this due date…..but what if this due date was totally inaccurate, dates back to Ancient Greece, is based on the stars, and has no evidence to back it up?!

Well that is the frustrating truth in all of this.

The current method used to calculate your due date is based on a formula called Naegele’s rule. This takes the first day of your last menstrual period (LMP) and adds 280 days to it.

Variations in menstrual cycles
As you already know, our cycle lengths are all different, so if you have a longer cycle than average, you are likely to ovulate, and therefore conceive, later in the cycle. But this is rarely taken into account when you are given your due date. In fact, in a recent study among natural conceptions where the date of ovulation was known, the variation in pregnancy length (even after excluding preterm and complications), was 37 days. That is a huge variation in length and shows that it is absolutely ‘normal’ to have a longer pregnancy.

And where does the 280 days come from?
Well Aristotle was the first person to document that the average pregnancy was 10 lunar months which was then interpreted as 280 days (because a lunar month is 28 days from a fixed point in space). So we’re already on slightly shaky ground because Aristotle wasn’t in a fixed point in space, he was on earth, and lunar months vary depending where on earth you are.

To add even more scepticism to this arbitrary number, there are a couple of researchers who think that Aristotle may have picked this number based on what was astrologically significant in ancient Greece. So it is essentially a number based on the stars!

Aristotle

When you do look at the average length of pregnancy in real women, you find that it is more than the 280 days used in the current calculations, more like 283-288 days.

Research has shown that a woman’s height, age and ethnicity can all influence her baby’s gestational length.

It therefore seems crazy to me that so many women are being induced or told they might need to be induced, based purely on their 'due date', which has been calculated using observations from the Ancient Greeks and takes no account for individuality.
How can we all be treated with broad sweeping policies?

You deserve to be treated as an individual, to be provided with the information to make an informed decision, to trust in your body and your baby.

I work with my clients to help you understand your options, point you in the direction of up to date research, and help you to stay in control of the decisions around your birth.

I run monthly hypnobirthing courses in Cardiff. I also offer private sessions in the comfort of your own home, which can be completely personalised to your circumstances and arranged at a time to suit you.
Included in all my courses are 4 hypnobirthing downloads so you can practice at home all the way up to your birth, a fantastic resource pack with all the important information you need, and email or phone support from me right up until your birth.

Don’t forget to sign up to my newsletter to receive a copy of my ‘Top Tips to prepare for a calm and confident birth’, and have a look at my website for more details on the services I provide.

I look forward to helping you prepare for your calm and confident birth!

Why you shouldn’t ‘go with the flow’ during your birth

I often hear women saying they aren’t going to prepare for birth, they’ll just ‘go with the flow’.

I get that birth can be unpredictable and you may have heard stories from friends or family members whose birth went out of control and they have made you feel like there is no point in planning for your birth. Going with the flow means you haven’t put pressure on yourself to perform, to have the ‘perfect’ birth. It shows that you are totally relaxed about the whole situation and will put your trust in the experts around you and hope that you’ll be ok.

And I get that you don’t know what to expect so you feel there is no option but to go with the flow.

The term ‘go with the flow’ implies that your birth will gently unfold, stage by stage, and there is little that could be done to influence the outcome. You accept any interventions suggested by your support team (midwives/obstetricians/birth partner etc) as inevitable, and assume that every suggestion made is the best option for you and your baby.

What if going with the flow actually means that you hand your birth over to the experts and aren’t even given the chance to consider your other options, to weigh up the risks and benefits of an alternative course of action, and to make an informed choice (which is something I bang on a lot about!)? What if the flow you end up going with is based on a general population and not you as an individual? What if the decisions that are made, are made from a place of fear rather than a place of knowledge?

What if, by going with the flow, you end up disappointed with your birth experience and wish there was something you could have done differently?

What if going with the flow means you are missing opportunities to understand how your body works during labour, missing opportunities to learn how to take control of your birth, missing opportunities for your birth partner to learn simple ways to help you manage your labour and most importantly, missing opportunities to learn how to make your birth different to theirs.

Wouldn’t you rather take control of your birth and understand all the ways you can influence the outcome?

Birth preparation is not about planning for a ‘perfect’ birth (whatever you think that is).

It’s about understanding birth, how you can work with your body instead of fighting against it, all the things you and your birth partner can do to stay in control throughout your labour, whatever direction your birth takes.

So to find out more about how I can help you prepare for your birth using hypnobirthing and Birthlight Pregnancy Yoga then please contact me.

Group courses are relaunching in March!

I'm so pleased to be running my group hypnobirthing courses in Cardiff again. The first course will run on Saturday 11th March 2017 at Cardiff Central Youth Hostel.

The group courses are a great way to learn everything you and your birth partner need to know in order to have a calm and controlled birth, and also to meet others in the same situation. They are a complete antenatal class and a great way to prepare for your positive birth.

Everyone who attends my course can join my facebook group where you can continue chatting, get support and advice, and arrange social get togethers,

Mums, we will work on letting go of any fear and anxiety you have about birth, you will know what to expect and how to stay calm.
Birth partners, I will teach you some really practical skills to help mum stay calm and in control throughout her labour. No more feeling like a spare part!

Some quotes from past clients:
"Jenny has great knowledge and was able to answer and put to bed a lot of fears."
"Loads learned and lots of fun had."
"Jenny was very confident and professional in her approach. Has a very calming and relaxing nature."


Check out the special offers for recommending friends.

If you'd like any more information about the course or any of the special offers, please contact me.

I look forward to speaking to you :)

Think a birth plan is a waste of time? Think again!

"There's no point in writing a birth plan, I'll just go with the flow."

"I'll only be disappointed when things don't go perfectly."

"No one ever reads it anyway."

These are comments I hear frequently when the subject of birth plans comes up and I want to set the record straight.

  • Birth plans are not about planning a perfect birth, and are not setting you up to fail.
     
  • Going with the flow doesn't work if you haven't researched your options and have enough information to make an informed decision. It is important to be flexible, but not to blindly allow other people to lead you down a path which may or may not be appropriate for you.
     
  • The process of researching and writing the birth plan is as important as having anyone else read it. It is important that you and your birth partner/doula are aware of your birth plan and can pass on the information to the midwife or other professionals involved in your care. You can put a copy in your notes and discuss it with your midwife at one of your routine appointments and then explain the key points to the people you deal with during the birth.

So now you have (hopefully) decided that a birth plan is a good idea(!), here are my top tips of what to include:

Pain Relief - Find out what pain relief would be available to you. Understand the benefits and risks of the different types of drugs available. If you would like to try to avoid drugs then think about using hypnobirthing techniques, a birth pool, a tens machine, massage of your lower back from your birth partner (I recommend all 4!)

BIrth position - There are many benefits to an active birth so think about the different positions you can use during birth (I teach lots to couples on my course)

Monitoring - Continuous foetal monitoring (STUDY LINKED TO BY SARA WICKHAM). It can restrict your movements and has not been proven to improve outcomes for mum or baby so question whether you would be happy with this.

Students - especially relevant here in Cardiff as our hospital is a teaching hospital. Are you happy with students to attend? Would you prefer to limit the number of people who attend?

Birth pool - Is there a pool available in your desired place of birth? What are the chances it will be available? If you need to hire one for a home birth you should research availability and prices now. If you are hiring a doula they often provide one as part of their package.

Place of birth - Have you considered all your options? Did you know that you have the right to give birth at home even if it isn't advised? Hospital procedures are based on a population risk and are not specific to your situation. Understand your own personal risk factors and how place of birth can affect this.

Sweeps - A routine procedure often performed on or around your due date and in the subsequent appointments. It is a form of intervention and so you should ensure you understand the procedure and what the purpose of it is. It is entirely your decision as to whether you accept a sweep so don't feel pressured into it, and if your body isn't ready to go into labour, a sweep won't help.

Artificial rupture of the membranes (breaking your waters) - This is performed occasionally to induce or speed up labour. It introduces a risk of infection into the uterus and can lead to further intervention. Discuss the risks and benefits before agreeing to this course of action.

Vaginal examinations - These introduce a risk of infection into the uterus, and can make mum feel tense, interrupting the natural flow of labour. You may wish to reduce the amount of examinations you have, or you may be happy to have them as and when the midwife suggests.

Induction - Did you know that you don't have to be induced at 42 weeks? An alternative would be to have regular monitoring to check on the health of the baby and the placenta. Consider how arbitrary your due date is and understand the risks and benefits of both induction and waiting it out.

Things to have available during labour - music-will you take your own speakers/headphones. Do you want your birthing ball? Things to make you comfortable.

Delivery of the placenta - it is standard for women to be injected with artificial oxytocin to assist with the delivery of the placenta. The alternative is to allow your body to do it naturally. Understand the benefits and risks of a managed 3rd stage.

Interventions - Would you accept the use of forceps or ventouse, both of which carry a significant likihood of an episiotomy.

Skin to skin - It is really important for mum and baby to have as much uninterrupted skin to skin time as possible after the birth. This improves bonding, increases oxytocin levels which will help with the delivery of the placenta, assist with the uterus shrinking back to its original size, reduce blood loss, facilitate breastfeeding.....the benefits are endless! If mum is unable to have skin to skin with baby for whatever reason, then next best is dad.

Delayed cord clamping - this is when the cord isn't cut until it has stopped pulsating, and all the blood has passed back to the baby. It is now standard practice in most areas and has numerous benefits for baby. Even if your baby is born by Caesearean, it is usually still possible to allow the cord to go white before cutting it.

Vitamin K - Are you happy for baby to be given the vitamin K injection? Did you know it is also available orally? Do you understand why it is routinely given?

There is a final tool I would like to make you aware of, and that is your brain :) I always teach the birth partner this as it helps them to remember if they are in a situation where they are being asked to make a decision during the birth:
B - Benefits       What are the benefits of the proposed intervention
R - Risks            What are the risks of the proposed intervention (often you are only told the benefits)
A - Alternatives  What are our alternatives? (often you are led to believe there is only one option when you may feel an alternative is better for your situation.
I - Instincts          Trust your body and your instincts, what is your body telling you?
N - Nothing         What happens if we do nothing/wait another 30 mins? If there is no immediate danger this can give you time to try a different position, try and increase oxytocin production or to have a discussion about the alternatives in a calm manner.

 

 

The best part of being pregnant?

Following on from my posts about the worst part of being pregnant, I wanted to celebrate all the amazing things about being pregnant so here is my top 10!

  1. Not having to hold your stomach in! Be proud of your bump.
  2. Seeing your baby at the scan for the first time. No-one can prepare you for this, it is such a special moment.
  3. Shopping for all the cute baby items.
  4. Boobs!
  5. The extra attention you get from other people, just seeing your bump is enough to make a stranger smile.
  6. Feeling your baby moving around inside you, the secret communication you have with your baby whilst everyone around you is oblivious. Best. Feeling. Ever.
  7. Dreaming about the future and how different things are going to be once baby arrives.
  8. Discussing baby names.
  9. Being in awe at how clever the human body is and how much work your body is doing to grow this little human inside.
  10. Seeing other children be loving towards your bump, my toddler loves to kiss mine and say hello to baby.

I actually missed being pregnant after my first child was born, even though I then had a wonderful newborn baby!

What have I missed? What did you/do you love about being pregnant?

The worst part of being pregnant? Part 2

So in part 1 I discussed morning sickness.

But what are the other things we suffer with in pregnancy?

  • Back ache. I was in agony for the last couple of months of my first pregnancy, especially sitting at my desk at work.
  • Heart burn/indigestion. Pregnant women are very prone to indigestion partly due to hormones, and partly due to the womb pressing on your stomach as the baby grows.
  • Having to pee constantly!
  • Feeling exhausted. Trying to keep the secret in early pregnancy whilst feeling like you've been run over by a bus is so difficult.
  • Being public property. Apparently it is now ok for strangers to touch your bump, or give you advice. Get used to it because once you have the baby the 'advice' just keeps on coming!
  • Sleep issues. I struggled with sleep a lot in my first pregnancy, until I discovered guided hypnosis. This time around, I am able to just switch on my Pregnancy Relaxation track and it helps to clear my mind and relax me ready for sleep.
  • Not being able to bend over - I had to rely on my husband to do the simplest of task for me, like putting my socks on!

I personally have experienced infertility so I understand how hard it is to listen to pregnant women moan when you would give your right arm to be in their situation. But I do think that pregnant women are entitled to the odd moan because growing a little person is a very difficult job that completely turns your world upside down.

Have you got anything you would add to this list?

 

The worst part of being pregnant? Part 1

Part 1 - Morning Sickness

Did you suffer or are you suffering from morning sickness in your pregnancy? Around 50% of women experience vomiting and around 80% have nausea during pregnancy.

For some women, morning sickness can occur as early as 3 weeks, but usually it begins around weeks 5-8. Even though it’s called ‘morning sickness’, women can be affected at any time throughout the day or night. It usually clears up by weeks 16-20 but for some women unfortunately it can continue throughout the entire pregnancy.

Some women (including the Duchess of Cambridge) experience excessive vomiting which can continue throughout the pregnancy, known as hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) and may be unable to keep down any food or drink and often need hospital treatment. Unfortunately it is not well understood and there is little research on potential causes.

Some tips and tricks for coping with morning sickness:

  • Take a sick day and rest if you aren’t feeling up to work
  • Stay hydrated
  • Eat little and often
  • Eat ginger – ginger nuts, ginger tea,
  • Carry a survival kit (toothbrush and toothpaste, chewing gum)
  • Try sickness bands
  • Try listening to a hypnosis track for overcoming morning sickness

Remember every pregnancy is different and if you suffered with bad sickness with one pregnancy, it doesn’t mean you will have the same experience again.

I feel very lucky that I only experienced slight nausea during my first trimester in both pregnancies, and this was easily managed by eating constantly! I really sympathise with women who suffer badly.

I'd love to know about your experiences and any tips or tricks you have for coping.

A baby shower with a difference

Baby showers are becoming more and more popular, and like most things, they have become over commercialised. Many of the presents given are left unused once baby arrives, and a lot of mums are crying out for more practical presents. So I wanted to give some ideas for a slightly different kind of baby shower. (Feel free to add your own suggestions in a comment below)

Gift ideas:

  • Vouchers for Natal Hypnotherapy workshops or pregnancy relaxation sessions
  • Vouchers for a doula from South Wales Doulas (could be for the birth or for postnatal)
  • Birthing jar full of affirmations
  • Cloth nappy samples for mum to try out
  • Voucher for a sling or an individual appointment with a sling consultant to help mum learn how to use a sling which will soothe her baby, and free up her hands to do other things.
  • A meal that has been cooked and frozen
  • A framed poem (see below for some ideas)
  • Vouchers for help once baby arrives - cooking/cleaning/babysitting etc
  • Books which encourage mum to trust her natural instincts, and explain the normal behaviour of a newborn:
The Gentle Sleep Book: For calm babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers
BabyCalm: A Guide for Calmer Babies and Happier Parents
Wonder Weeks
  • Books which empower the mum-to-be about childbirth, and dispel myths and fears:
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth
Childbirth without Fear: The Principles and Practice of Natural Childbirth
Spiritual Midwifery
  • Books which give really helpful advice about breastfeeding, and the natural feeding behaviours of a newborn:
Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding
Baby-led Breastfeeding: How to make breastfeeding work - with your baby's help
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding

Activities:
Bump paintings or imprints
Henna bump decorating
Bump photograph session

Poems/Quotes:
“No one else will ever know the strength of my love for you. After all, you’re the only one who knows the sound of my heart from the inside.” - Kristen Proby

"The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep." - Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

"Childbirth is an experience in a woman’s life that holds the power to transform her forever
Passing through these powerful gates - in her own way - remembering all the generations of women who walk with her....She is never alone." - Suzanne Arms


"The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new." - Rajneesh

"There is power that comes to women when they give birth. They don't ask for it, it simply invades them. Accumulates like clouds on the horizon and passes through, carrying the child with it." - Sheryl Fiedman

"When you change the way you view birth, the way you birth will change."  - Marie Mongan

Music:
'Baby love' The Supremes
'Count on Me' Bruno Mars
'Haven't Met you Yet' Michael Buble
'Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World' by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
'Hey Ho' The Lumineers
'I'm Yours' Jason Mraz
'Baby, Now That I've Found You' The Foundations
'Be My Baby' The Ronettes
'Can't take my eyes of you' Frankie Vallie
'Isn't She Lovely' Stevie Wonder
'Just the two of us' Will Smith
'Yellow' Coldplay
'Sweet Child O Mine' Guns & Roses

Venues:
Funky Little Chickens
The yurt at Milgi's

 

Natal Hypnotherapy Workshops starting in August - Book your place now!

I am now taking bookings for my August, September, October and November group workshops which appear in the upcoming dates calendar

The workshops will be held at the newly refurbished Cardiff Central Youth Hostel, which is a lovely venue, with a cafe and bar, easy access and parking.

If you would like to know more about the workshops, or if you have any other queries, please give me (Jenny) a call on 07825 958949, I will be more than happy to speak to you.

Don't forget that when you book both workshops I am offering a discount of £10 and you will receive a free copy of the 'Effective Birth Preparation' Book by Maggie Howell.

I hope to meet you on a workshop very soon :)

 

 

Pregnancy Relaxation Classes in Cardiff are launching Wednesday 29th July!

I have found a great venue for my Pregnancy Relaxation Hour and I am very excited to be working with Funky Little Chickens in Rumney.

The sessions will run every Wednesday evening from 7pm-8pm upstairs in the 'Chicken Coop' and cost £6. Wednesday 29th July is our launch date and is a free session so come and try it out.

Each week you will enjoy a 30 minute relaxation session using Natal Hypnotherapy, this will be followed by a chance for you to talk about any issues or concerns you may have, as well as get to know other mums to be over a drink.

You are welcome to join us at any stage during your pregnancy.

Please contact me for further details. Booking is essential due to limited space.

*Watch this space for an announcement about Natal Hypnotherapy workshops*

Bringing NH to Wales

I’m so excited to be bringing Natal Hypnotherapy to Wales!

When I was pregnant and researching all my options for birth, I really wanted to attend a Natal Hypnotherapy course but couldn’t find any practitioners close enough to help me.
So when I decided to train as a practitioner I knew it had to be Natal Hypnotherapy. The workshops I will be running are so comprehensive and have lots of useful tools for the birth partner to use during your labour and birth. As one of our mums said “This course reaches the parts other courses cannot reach!”

You can read more about the workshop content and what to expect when you attend.

I am also really pleased to be able to offer weekly pregnancy relaxation classes. These will be a great way for you to relax after a day at work or home with the kids and gives you a chance to meet up with other mums.

Don’t forget I also offer gift vouchers for any of my services which make a great baby shower gift or present for a mum to be.

I can’t wait to meet you at my workshops, dates will be published soon so join my mailing list to be kept up to date.