Are You Stressed?

Studies show that stressful situations can develop into more serious health conditions.  For example: a sudden or unexpected stressor can activate your adrenal glands, which sends adrenaline and other hormones into your bloodstream.  This brings about an increase in your breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and blood flow to the muscles.  

This physical response was appropriate generations ago when it was needed for our very survival, but today much of our stress is emotional.  With the high number of mental stress incidents that we can experience each day, these repetitive physical responses can begin to wear out all of the body’s intricate systems. 

When your stress is chronic, your body releases cortisol; a hormone designed to help the body handle a period of prolonged physical stress.  This hormone is hard for the body to metabolise and consequently can lead to an immune system that becomes heavily suppressed, a damaged cardiovascular system, and a worn out endocrine system (the system responsible for handling stressful conditions).  

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Here are some common stress symptoms: 

  • Frequent headaches, jaw clenching or teeth grinding;
  • Neck ache, back pain, or muscle spasms;
  • Frequent colds and infections;
  • Difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness and confusion;
  • Excess anxiety, worry, guilt or nervousness;
  • Depression or frequent mood swings;
  • Insomnia or nightmares
  • Lack of concentration and forgetfulness.
  • Significant weight loss or gain without diet change;
  • Nervous habits such as fidgeting;
  • Constant tiredness, weakness or fatigue 

Regular massage is the ideal remedy for a stressful life.  With massage your blood and lymph circulation is increased, which helps all parts of your body to receive essential nutrients, dispose of waste products, and defend against disease. 

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Stress may take its greatest toll on the nervous system.  Massage can address the imbalances that stress causes in your body by stimulating the sensory receptors that interconnect and harmonise all areas of your body, bringing it back into proper balance.  This brings about that sense of wellbeing you experience that goes far beyond the release of tense muscles.  

Studies have shown that stress hormones consistently fall after massage, and night-time sleep patterns also improved.  By having a regular massage (even once a month will make a difference) – you are giving your body, mind & spirit the chance to de-stress before it will give you distress.

DID YOU KNOW?

 Surveys have been conducted by a number of Australian organisations, with the following findings: 

  • Workplace stress costs Australian companies up to 1.2 billion dollars a year;
  • 50% of workers reported an increase in workplace stress from the previous year;
  • Workplace stress-related claims are increasing by 20% each year;
  • 26% of employees admitted they have taken a day or more off due to stress, most using regular sick leave;
  • 20% of teachers in one survey reported a medically diagnosed stress disorder;
  • Major reasons for work stress cited by employees are:
    • Management issues, including lack of communication;
    • Increased workload and longer hours;
    • Job insecurity and lack of career opportunities;
    • Organisational change and restructuring, and
    • Inadequate staff and resources. 

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HOW DO YOUR MUSCLES RESPOND TO STRESS? 

When the musculoskeletal system is “stressed” a biochemical stress response sequence is initiated.  The sequence includes the following events:

  • A stressor causes an increase in muscle tone.
  • Increased tone for extended periods leads to retention of metabolic wastes.
  • Increased tone simultaneously leads to a degree of localised oxygen deficit, resulting in ischemia (restriction in blood supply).
  • Increased tone may also lead to oedema (swelling / fluid retention).
  • These factors (retention of waste, ischemia and oedema) lead to discomfort and pain.
  • Discomfort and pain results in increased or maintained hyper-tonicity (increased tension of the muscles).
  • Inflammation or chronic irritation results.
  • Poor functional patterns develop leading to chronic musculoskeletal problems and pain.

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Tools that you can adopt to promote health and wellness, and manage stress levels include:

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One of my favourite tips I love and share with our clients who are tense and stressed is every night before you go to bed “pull your hair”… I am serious, just grab clumps of your hair close to the roots and gently pull – don’t yank so that it is painful – and then grab another clump of hair and gently pull. What this does is releases the tension in the hair follicle and therefore releases the tension in the scalp. You will notice the difference instantly and it will help you to sleep better as well.  

Go on try it right now!!

It is such a simple yet effective way of releasing head tension and ease headaches as well.

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As a massage therapist we have lots of different techniques and helpful tips to support you in your “stress less” journey to better health and harmony in your life.

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At our centre located in Darch (northern suburbs of Perth) we have 5 highly trained remedial massage therapists who all offer different styles and techniques of massage.  We also have a chiropractor who works from our premises so you can be assured of a variety of different options to help ease your pain and reduce / eliminate your stress related dysfunctions.

After hours appointments including Saturdays are available.

Contact Phoenix Therapies Wellness Centre today to book in for a massage or any one of our stress management therapies with Vicki Hobbs.

 

 

 

 

 

Childbirth Education

CHILDBIRTH EDUCATION

BEING INFORMED – MAKING CHOICES

YOUR CHOICE – NOT MINE  

In this day and age, why is it important to choose a childbirth educator?

Over time women have forgotten that “birth” is a natural and normal physiological process!

Women have become more exposed and accepting of the medical side of pregnancy and birth.  Many women are not given the opportunity to have a natural birth – medical interventions and caesareans are more often given even if there is no medical reason to do so and women accept this because they don’t know any different and are generally with someone they feel they can trust, their medical care provider, their Obstetrician or even their family members who encourage them to do so because they don’t like seeing their loved ones in “pain.”

Women are also bombarded by the horror births shown on television and social media, or stories from their mums, their sisters, their peers and colleagues and women who have had a traumatic birth (or sometimes not) who may share the most fearful, dramatic stories they can.  It is not uncommon for a pregnant woman to be approached in the local supermarket to be subjected to negative comments and stories from a complete stranger.

To this I tell all expectant mums to put up your “mummy barrier” to this kind of negativity and fear-mongering.  Detach yourself from these people and ask them to be respectful of your own birth journey – this is your pregnancy and birth experience not theirs.  Everyone is an individual and therefore every person will always have a different experience and perspective with anything in life particularly childbirth. Let me make it clear, I am in no way trying to trivialise another woman’s traumatic birth experience, I just want to highlight that it is their experience, not yours! There are many support groups for women who have experienced a traumatic birth, and this could be where they share their experience to get counselling and healing.

However, once you start accepting and visualising the types of negative stories that are forced onto you, then you are more likely to experience this due to the powerful mind/body connection. Ask all of your friends and family (including your mum) to refrain from telling you anything that is negative or fearful about childbirth so that you can experience your birth with an open mind and heart without any stress of fear-based stories.

Shout it from the rooftops, put a sign up on your door “STOP – ONLY POSITIVE BIRTH STORIES HERE” or post it on your Facebook page and twitter account – do what you have to do to get the word out there –

“STOP – ONLY POSITIVE BIRTH STORIES HERE!!”

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Ask people to share with you what they loved about their birth; ask them to share with you the one special moment that is imprinted in their memory about their birth, no matter how traumatic it may have been at the time, what was the best bit – not the worst!

As a Childbirth Educator, I get asked all the time “should we still go to our hospital antenatal classes?” 

Antenatal classes held at the maternity hospitals differ from hospital to hospital and seem to be primarily focused on what could go wrong and the drugs and interventions that are available and what the hospital policies and practices are.  Hospital childbirth education classes do little to eliminate the fear, and in fact can cause increased anxiety and stress to a pregnant woman as she starts to think more on what could go wrong, instead of mentally and physically preparing for a calm, natural birth.  One of my clients told me of her experience – “imagine sitting in your class with several other women and your “childbirth educator” walks in, looks around the room and says “only two of you will have a natural birth, if you’re lucky.”

Already that person has planted the seeds of doubt about your ability to birth naturally and made you fearful of what lies ahead.

Rather than taking the time to teach about natural alternatives of pain relief, these sessions become all-consuming with information about the drugs they offer, the medications and the procedures that will take place based on the hospitals policies and about their lack of birth pools and other facilities that are usually on a “first in, first choice” basis.  Many of the classes that are run at the hospitals are not conducted by a dedicated “childbirth educator.”  The classes may be run by a midwife or physiotherapist on a rotation basis, and sometimes these educators have to do this as part of their ongoing assessments, so they may not really enjoy doing these classes, so educating couples on childbirth may not be what they are passionate about, so their enthusiasm and the gift of empowering couples just is not the same as with an independent childbirth educator – who choose to do this as their livelihood.

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In answer to the question though, I don’t discourage women and their birth companions or partners from going to the hospital antenatal classes as it is beneficial to see things from two different perspectives.  Both can provide information which you need, and like anything you just choose what resonates with you and what you feel will work best for you.  Put all those things into your “birth basket” and discard what you don’t think will serve you well.

However, I do recommend couples to do their childbirth education classes prior to the antenatal classes as you are already prepared, knowledgeable and will be in a better position to ask more questions.  Here is what Rachel had to say about her classes:

Anyone pregnant or thinking about/trying to have a baby please, please consider hypnobirthing!  It is not just weird hippy crap, it’s practical advice on how to manage your pregnancy and labour in the best way for you.  Antenatal classes are good (I’ve just done one with a great midwife) but hypnobirthing has prepared me so much more and given my husband and I so much more info about our options, rights and just what the hell is going on!  Vicki Hobbs at Hypnobirthing Centre WA is who you need to see! I cannot thank her enough for what she has done for us.  Rachel, Tapping WA”

Hypnosis session during Hypnobirthing classes

Hypnosis session during Hypnobirthing classes

I became a Childbirth Educator and “Birth Doula“ (Birth Support) because I wanted to provide all women (pregnant or those contemplating pregnancy) and couples with information and education about birth choices, about natural pregnancy, labour and birth, about achieving the best possible outcome, of trusting in your body, about how the muscles and body work together and about choosing the right caregivers for you, but most of all to help take the fear out of having a baby and being another support person to both mum and dad has numerous benefits, but not only that, it is important for me to teach women and their birth partners that they have choices.

Just because you pay a huge amount of money every year into your private health fund so that you can have the very best maternity cover there is including an Obstetrician, sometimes you do not always get the birth that you have dreamed of.  Did you know that Obstetricians are surgeons – they are highly trained to deliver babies by caesarean?  They are your lifeguards, but all you want them to do is sit in their tower and keep watch.

So, if you are healthy and have no underlying medical conditions, doesn’t it just make sense to go with a midwifery led birthing program? Or if you must have an Obstetrician why not say to them “I want to pay you to do nothing, unless there is a medical emergency.”

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Women have so many choices, and we cover all of these in childbirth education classes.

Have you considered having a doula (birth support)?  A recent review of many studies from around the world has concluded that a doula’s support is more effective than hospital staff, friends or family.  Studies (and reviews of the studies) consistently demonstrate very impressive benefits for the mother, father and baby including: 

  • 50% decrease in caesarean sections
  • 25% decrease in the length of labour
  • 40% decrease in use of forceps
  • 40% decrease in use of oxytocin to speed labour up
  • 60% decrease in use of epidurals
  • 30% decrease in use of pain medications
  • 40% reduction in the use of synthetic oxytocin for inductions or augmentations

I believe that we need to go back to basics.  Birth is about bringing a new person into the world and this should be a celebration and a natural, joyful, calm experience.  I want to share information with you that is designed to inspire you and take the fear and uncertainty out of childbirth and about accepting birth however way it happens as long as it is your choice, not someone else’s.

I also want to support women who have caesareans to feel that this choice is okay.  There are many out there who advocate that “all natural is best” just like “all breastfeeding is best” and yes I do agree that “natural is best” because your body is doing so many physiological wonders all at once to grow your baby then bring your baby into the world and to start the healing process of getting your body back to pre-pregnancy, but sometimes this just is not the case for all women for whatever reason – again we are all different, we can’t all be put into the same basket, we can’t be expected to fit into the same mould.

I want women to feel it is okay to do what is best for them and still feel that whatever way they choose to birth at the time was the right choice for them and their baby, and that a caesarean birth is also a celebration, a sacred time and can be a calm, positive moment of birth.  There are ways that a woman and her birth companion can be present in the moment during a caesarean and achieve that birth euphoria that is experienced during natural birth. 

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I know as I have been in that situation and a few of my class participants have been in that situation too, but the important thing to note is that they all share the same belief that because they knew what was happening, because they asked the right questions, because they delayed the “process” as long as they could to see if anything changed and then embraced the choice they made.  Their unexpected caesarean turned into a calm, memorable and exciting time shared with their birth companion, and their baby was blessed to be born into a quiet, peaceful room without a surgical feel.  Their babies were calm, alert and responsiveness and they were still able to have that skin-on-skin contact and had delayed cord-clamping.  All of this can be achieved and all it takes is a bit of preparation, understanding, knowledge and acceptance.  

When you are educated about your choices, you can discuss these with your health care provider and they will realise that you have “done your homework.”  The best part that I hear often from couples is that when things started to get “fearful” for the birthing mum, it was her birth companion, husband or partner who came to the rescue.  In childbirth education programs your birth companion is taught to be a “support person” and know what to do in different circumstances. Many of the mums say if it wasn’t for their birth partners, they would have gone off track and not known how to get back to “their birthing space.”

I became a Childbirth Educator to ensure that all women know the difference between natural labour and birth and medically assisted labour and birth, what a caesarean means and how it affects your body and the journey beyond birth, the physical and emotional healing process – where do you go for help and support if you need it once baby is here, how can a postnatal doula be of help to you – how do you bond with your new family, where does your partner fit into this new dynamic, how to identify postnatal depression and breastfeeding versus bottle feeding.

I feel it is the couples’ responsibility to prepare themselves to bring this new life into the world.  It is important for them to know what is happening to their baby as that baby is growing and developing, what is happening to the woman’s body and muscles, what are those uncomfortable pelvic twinges you may experience as your belly grows, how are those muscles going to work to help birth your baby, what are the hormones and how do they affect the mum, why breathing techniques are important and how oxygen (or lack of) can affect your birth, how important bonding is during pregnancy and after birth, sounds and vibration baby experiences in the womb so why it is important to talk and sing to baby, relaxation and visualisation, self-hypnosis techniques, choices of natural pain relief, acupressure and massage, comfortable positions during labour and birth, vocalising and sound during birth (Soundbirth) – how does this help, coping during labour, how does the dad or birthing companion fit in and how can they best support their labouring partner, what is the “purple line” and how can that help you avoid vaginal examinations, there is so much to know and really so little time to find out and practice all this and more.

In Australia, the average couple spends around $30,000 and over 200 hours planning their perfect wedding day.  It amazes me that so many women spend so much time, money and energy on the preparation of one day, albeit an incredibly important day that will be the stepping stone of their new life as a couple then a family, yet many women don’t consider putting that same time and energy preparing to bring a new life, their baby, into the world or attending a childbirth education course (such as Hypnobirthing for example), which is just a small investment of anything from $250 to $1000 depending on the type of classes you take and the number of hours the classes run for.  For example classes can range anywhere from one day, one weekend or 3 or 4 hours weekly for several weeks.

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I want to help you gain knowledge and skills about your mind, your body, your labour and your birth.  I want you to be free from fear about the birth of your baby.  You only get one chance to birth your baby the way you want to and it is really important that you have as much knowledge and support as possible to guide you into making the right birth choices for you, your partner and your baby.

Seriously, don’t spend thousands of dollars on useless items for your baby that you are most likely never going to use.  With my first baby I was completely uneducated about what to expect, but I had the best of everything, latest model pram, designer basinette, most expensive cot and manchester, several mobiles (as they all look so cute), change tables, clothing, sterilising equipment – majority of the stuff I didn’t even unpack and ended up giving away months later when it was just sitting there gathering dust.  Go with the basics, and put your money to better use by attending childbirth education classes.

My role as a Childbirth Educator (particularly through my hypnobirthing classes) is to assist you to go into the birth experience empowered, well educated and believing in your body – that it can birth without doubt or fear.  This does wonders for creating a powerful and positive birth journey.  Birth Educators should not be trying to convince you that you will have a “painless birth” but rather you will have a “fearless birth” which will lead to reducing (and in some cases) eliminating the “intensity of pain” felt during childbirth.

It is all about “Birth Without Fear.”

Women and their partners who prepare themselves mentally, physically and emotionally for birth can achieve anything.  Our thoughts create our reality so if women are thinking and feeling positively about their labour and birth and visualise the experience they want to have rather than what they don’t want, then it is more likely that they will achieve a shorter labour and natural birth of their baby, they will be more alert and energetic after birth and bond and breastfeed more easily with their newborns.

Because of the mind/body connection, if you have fear, you will create stress and tension, which will cause the muscles of the uterus and pelvis to tighten and create more pain.  The more pain felt, the more fear arises and so this cycle will go on and on.

Birth is one of the most amazing natural wonders of the world and we need to trust and believe that it can be a wonderfully empowering experience that is given the time, respect and sacredness that it deserves.

So the problem is not with birth – it is the lack of preparation and education and the negative imprinting and expectations women are exposed to during pregnancy.

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Furthermore, many women who do not have the opportunity to birth naturally or the way they have planned sometimes feel anger, resentment and guilt and feel they “failed” in some way or say they were made to feel they were a failure because they didn’t birth naturally.  Birth education is also about understanding and being accepting of special circumstances if they do arise, so again to help you feel you had the best birth outcome possible for you and your baby at the time.  It is about knowing what questions to ask, assessing the situation and then making an “informed choice” about what is right for you and your baby.  Attending birth education classes can be highly beneficial in achieving this.  It is important for mum to be able to choose Plan B whatever that may be and feel happy, confident and at ease with doing so, and even in the event of say an emergency or unplanned caesarean, you can still ensure that your birth is calm, positive and memorable.

At Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Centre we offer a one day comprehensive childbirth education class for you and your partner called “Essential Birthing Journey” to learn all aspects of pregnancy, labour, birth and beyond including relaxation and breathing techniques, the role of your partner or birth companion, nutrition and exercise during pregnancy, stretching and massage techniques, birth and labour positions, pain management techniques, bonding and breastfeeding, sound birth techniques and so much more. 

At Hypnobirthing Centre WA we offer a more comprehensive series of weekly hypnobirthing classes for a total of 12 hours with self-hypnosis techniques and childbirth education including pregnancy, labour and birth and beyond, relaxation and visualisation techniques, bonding with baby and partner, the mind / body connection, breathing techniques, releasing limiting beliefs and fears, how your body births your baby, special circumstances, birthing positions, massage and acupressure, nutrition, breastfeeding and so much more. 

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I hope that you will experience the most amazing birth of your baby and your future babies empowered with knowledge, which brings you strength and the ability to trust in your own abilities.  Your mind and your body are your own, you need to feed them, you need to nurture them and you need to enrich them for the best possible outcomes for you.

Many blessings to you, your partner or birth companion and to your baby – a new life, a new adventure and a new perspective on all things amazing.

“Birth is not only about making babies.  Birth is about making mothers – strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength.” (Barbara Katz-Rothman)

 

Vicki Hobbs
Owner / Operator

Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Centre
www.phoenixtherapies.com.au

Hypnobirthing Centre WA
www.hypnobirthingcentrewa.com.au