By 37 weeks, the majority of mums to be have their hospital bags packed and ready to go at the first sign of the slightest twinge down below. No doubt it will be filled with newborn nappies, vests and baby grows along with multiple packs baby wipes, cotton wool and breast pads. From the baby’s perspective, you’re 100% ready. But what about what you need?
As an antenatal instructor, the course I teach focusses on how to have a calm, relaxed and positive birth experience, and having experienced a positive birth with both of my babies, I’m often asked by my clients what they should pack to help them relax while in labour.
So here’s my top five essential items that I literally wouldn’t leave home without:
1. MP3’s and music. I’d spent almost my entire pregnancy going to sleep at night listening to my Wise Hippo hypnobirthing MP3s and I would have been absolutely lost without them on the day. I purchased a small, portable speaker that worked really well and made sure all my devices were fully charged with backups just in case….For me there would never have been a worse time to run out of battery!
2. Photos of family and loved ones. Photos of your kids, your dog or simply that beach you visited on your honeymoon is a sure fire way to get the Oxytocin flowing. This is the body’s love hormone and is essential during birth. It’s the sole reason behind the saying ‘hugs before drugs’ because if your body can release oxytocin in high enough levels not only will it ensure your surges are regular, it will mix with your bodies endorphins to act as a natural pain reliever.
3. Your birth plan. If you haven’t written one yet, make it your priority. Without it, you can never expect to get the birth you want for you or your baby. Midwives and care givers are not mind readers and you should make the assumption that if you don’t ask, you don’t get. It’s also a great exercise to make sure that you and your birth partner are on the same page. Once you’re both happy with it, print it multiple times and hand a copy to literally everyone you come into contact with.
4. Flannel / eye mask. Bright lights stimulate adrenalin in your body, which can slow your surges down. You would rarely see an animal in the wild giving birth out in the open. Even my neighbour’s cat disappeared under the sofa once and came out two days later as a mum of six! An eye mask is the perfect light blocker but my preference was just a simple face cloth which my husband kept wetting with cold water and laying across my eyes while I floated in the pool, relaxing and cooling all in one.
5. A plastic drinking straw. While I appreciate the environmental impacts, this is an item I simply couldn’t have done without and not once did I use it for drinking with! Not many people are aware that a woman’s vagina is physiologically connected to their jaw! Strange but true. And tension held around the jaw will automatically be mirrored down below. The key to a calm and positive birth is to keep the whole body as relaxed as possible – this is where the straw comes in. If you simply place a drinking straw in your mouth, it positions your lips in such way that it is incredibly difficult to bite your teeth and clench your jaw. Give it a go, it really works.
Of course I had also packed a huge amount of other stuff, just in case I needed it….I didn’t. And yes it looked like we were moving into the Birthing Centre at West Middlesex Hospital but who cares? I felt prepared, I felt ready, I felt excited and that’s all that mattered.
When you hear those magic words, ‘you’re 10cm dilated,’ you know it won’t be long until you finally get to meet your baby.
For some, you may be surprised how quickly you reached the all important 10cm and for others it may feel like the longest, hardest journey of your lives.
But to reach 10cm, there was a point in time where you were 3cms! I hear so many stories of women getting disheartened when they have an examination and their midwife turns to them and say’s ‘you’re only 3cm.’
At that moment, it may feel like you’re wading through treacle, you’re not getting anywhere fast and you still have a mountain to climb.
Trust me, there is no such thing as ‘ONLY’ being 3cm dilated. If you had any idea what your body had already achieved for your cervix to be 3cm dilated, you would be celebrating how utterly brilliantly you were doing.
To get to 3cms your cervix has already done a superb job. It is softening and thinning out and it’s committed to doing this to the very best of its ability. You don’t need to know the details you just need to know that it’s a lot. A lot for someone who has spent the last nine months growing and looking after an actual human. A lot for someone who for the past three months hasn’t had a full night’s sleep due to said human lying and kicking on your bladder relentlessly. Just alot.
For those who do like to know the details, your cervix starts out at about 2cm thick, think the thickness of an average thumb, and needs to become as thin as a piece of paper. That’s a lot of thinning required.
All this is happening during early labour. Each and every one of your surges have got you to this point. Each and every surge is bringing your baby closer to you.
And remember, the number of cm you are dilated is simply a snapshot in time and bears no indication of how long your labour will last. you might be 3cms right now but you could easily reach 10cm within the hour. Every woman is different, every baby is different and no one can predict how quickly you will progress.
So if you hear those words, ‘you’re only 3cm,’ stop, take a moment to appreciate how far you’ve already come and celebrate the fact that YOU ARE 3CM! Your body is amazing. You are amazing. You’ve totally got this.
With thanks to Kiddicare.com for the excellent illustration.
I’ve designed my course offering to help you work out if hypnobirthing is right for you. All you have to do is email me at email@example.com for a free 1-1 consultation. This will allow us to discuss any worries, concerns or fears you may have around your birth and help you find out if hypnobirthing is for you. I offer courses specifically around preparing for a positive C-section as well as natural births, whatever your birth choices you can prepare for a positive experience. Any bookings and payments made two weeks in advance of the course start date will qualify for an early bird rate of £275 for all four sessions. Courses booked after this date will be £295. Private courses also available. Please contact me for details. All course prices cover both mum and birth partner and include the following: 4 x 2.5 hour group sessions The Wise Hippo workbook 7 x pregnancy and birth MP3S Birth plan template 2 x post birth Mp3s Personalised 1-1 support up to your birth Post birth session (if desired) The following content is covered on the course: By the end of session one you will:
- Bust any negative beliefs you may have about birth
- Get comfortable with what we mean by Hypnosis. No swinging watches here!
- Understand the physiology of birth…let go of any worries you have about how your body works.
- Understand how the mind interprets pain. You can manage and control it.
- Take charge of your thoughts. Begin to enjoy your pregnancy and look forward to your birth rather than feeling worried or anxious.
- Enjoy a relaxation session, helping you leave feeling calm and relaxed.
By the end of session two you will: Learn how to become an expert in relaxation so that you can feel calm, relaxed and in control in the lead up to and during your baby’s birth.
- Discover how to use your breath during labour
- Learn how to distract your mind away from your body so that you can distance yourself from any pain.
- Set up useful anchors to relaxation that you can use any time you want any extra boost of those feel good hormones
- Feel confident in the fact that your partner is learning how to use all of these tools and techniques with you, so that they can help you use them on the day.
By the end of session three you will: Know what is important to you about your birth and leave with a personalized birth plan to share with your support team. You will also experience a powerful FEAR RELEASE session so that you can start looking forward to your baby’s birth.
- Where do you want to birth?
- What do you want your birthing environment to be like?
- Who do you want to be with you?
- How do you want to get labour started?
By the end of session four you will: Feel ready for birth, feeling confident that your birth partner knows exactly how to support you and your baby when the time comes.
- The focus is on your Birth Partner so that they fully understand how you want them to support you.
- Enjoy Soothing Strokes an incredibly simple form of light massage to stimulate your body’s natural pain relief.
- Use your B.R.A.I.N.S. to make sure that you have a structured way to ask questions if required.
- Explore the best Birthing Positions to support an easier more comfortable birth.
- Learn birth humming to help avoid unnecessary forced pushing for birth.
- Walk through your labour and birth from it getting started to holding your baby in your arms and how what you have been learning fits in with that.
Booking is essential.
To confirm your place, use the contact form on my website, www.born2birth.co.uk ,
Contact me via Facebook, @born2birth or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
(Ealing 135 members, Ealing Council Staff, Parents of St. Marks School or Buttons Day Nursery and NHS staff benefit from a 10% discount.)
This course can be undertaken at any time during your pregnancy.
Courses take place at 7:30pm in the upstairs room of the W7 Emporium, 60 Boston Road, Hanwell, W7 3TR.
The venue for subsequent sessions may change depending on how many clients sign up to the full course.
Next course dates:
Monday 4th November
Monday 11th November
Monday 18th November
Monday 25th November
Monday 6th January
Monday 13th January
Monday 20th January
Monday 27th January
I look forward to hearing from you and welcoming you onto one of my courses. Louisa McDonald www.born2birth.co.uk
You’d be forgiven for thinking I was lying if I was to tell you that you won’t experience any pain at all for the majority of your labour….77% of your labour in fact. Well I’m not lying and its a stat that literally lights up my client’s eyes and certainly put everything into perspective during the birth of my son.
This mathematical masterpiece comes courtesy of Milli Hill, author of The Positive Birth Book, an absolute must read for anyone preparing to give birth.
As Milli explains, the average surge lasts for one minute and the first stage of labour, when our cervix is dilating, lasts on average, eight hours.
During your first hour, you may experience three surges. That’s three minutes.
Things may increase during the second hour and you may experience a surge every 10 minutes. That’s six minutes.
During the third hour, your surges may increase to five minutes apart. That’s 12 minutes.
Throughout the final five hours you’re likely to experience the ultimate, ‘3 in 10’, three surges, every ten minutes which equates to 18 surges in an hour. That’s 90 minutes over the five hour period.
So we have a total of 111 minutes of an eight hour labour where you are experiencing any kind of pain or sensation. The other 369 minutes (77%) is completely and utterly pain free.
Milli also reminds us that in fact its only really the 20 seconds at the peak of the surge that is the actual painful bit. The first 20 seconds of the surge is the build up and the last 20 seconds is the come down. So out of 480 minutes of labour we’re now looking at just 37 minutes of discomfort. Pretty impressive huh?
When the Duchess of Cambridge emerged on the hospital steps just four hours after giving birth to Prince Louis, jaws dropped around the world.
How is it possible to look that good a matter of hours after having a baby? She certainly proved that she was not too posh to push, there’s no way she would have been standing there, waving at the world’s media, if she had undergone a C-section earlier that day.
Kate Middleton has now confirmed that she used hypnobirthing techniques for all of her babies and while I’m sure we will never find out exactly what went on in that birth suite, I’ve heard many people say she must have had ‘the perfect birth.’ But what does that actually mean?
Some think that to achieve the perfect birth it has to be quick, natural, drug free and set to a backdrop of relaxing music and battery powered candlelight. And of course many people achieve exactly that.
However while this may be the dream, if it doesn’t work out that way it does it mean you have failed? Does it mean you did not achieve ‘the perfect birth?’ Not at all.
There is a staggering amount of evidence suggesting that by visualising exactly what you want will help you to achieve your goals and therefore it’s hugely beneficial to focus on your perfect birth experience throughout your pregnancy. However it is more important to remember that in fact, the perfect birth is simply the birth that was right for you and your baby on the day. Not what was right for me, or your sister, or the future Queen of England, but for you.
I literally can not emphasise enough that it doesn’t have to be painless, easy and involve Tibetan chanting for it to be perfect.
The perfect birth is where you are able to look back and know that you were calling the shots.
The perfect birth is being able to reflect on your experience positively and cherish the memory of the first time you met your baby.
The perfect birth is where you know you were in the driving seat, completely in control, even if that meant making the decision to hand over to the experts due to special circumstances.
The perfect birth can be raw, powerful, exhilarating and breathtaking.
The techniques included in The Wise Hippo Birthing Programme will not only enable you to let go of any fears you may be holding onto around childbirth, it will teach you how to stay calm and relaxed while empowering you to take control of your birth experience. In other words, this means failing to achieve the perfect birth is simply not an option.
And let’s be honest, if it’s good enough for a Princess, it’s good enough for you.