How does smell play such an important role in bonding with your baby?

 The Unique Connection between mother and child - does it exist? 

Photo source: Pandora - Unique Connection

Photo source: Pandora – Unique Connection

I loved watching the video which has gone viral on social media. It has everyone talking about how clever the children are to find their mums, and it got me thinking about how so many couples don’t understand the importance of that skin-on-skin bonding that occurs immediately after birth, but not only that, the pre-bonding that is being created during pregnancy that brings that beautiful connection to mother, father and baby (and of course siblings as well).

Here is the video showing children being blindfolded and asked to find their mother in a line-up of women.  All the children were able to locate their mother through touch, smell and I believe their unique energy.

The Unique Connection – video created by Pandora

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRoqk_z2Lgg

Today, evidence has shown the importance of smell in the bonding process of newborn mothers and babies.

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

One thing that has come to light recently is this whole new procedure of putting hats on newborn babies.  It was thought that it was better to hat babies so they didn’t lose heat through their head, but now it is evident that mothers keep their babies warm and regulate their temperature through that skin-on-skin contact and by not having a hat on baby this allows mums to smell their babies from head to toe taking in their babies pheromones more easily. 

As babies are feeding from the breast it is natural for the mum to lean down and smell the top of her baby’s head, but with a hat on, this is then a wasted opportunity for bonding even deeper.

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

Back in the “olden days” they didn’t put hats on newborn babies. The baby was born then given immediately to mothers to be held and kept warm and fed. There was that belief that women trusted their body and their own ability to birth then nurture their baby – it all came down to mothers instincts.

This is bonding.

The mother takes in the smell and feel of their baby.

Baby also gets wired to the smell and touch and sounds of the mother.

This bonding also begins before baby is even born.

During pregnancy a baby will become connected to the mother not only in a physical sense though the umbilical cord to the placenta attached to the uterine wall of the mother, but also connected energetically and spiritually.  The baby comes to identify the sounds of mother and father and in fact when they are born they are more inclined to move towards the sound of their mother or fathers voice even when in a room full of people.

It is important to be aware that whatever the mother feels that energy is then transferred through to her baby.

If she is stressed and upset she is releasing stress hormones that cross the placenta through to her baby and likewise if mum is experiencing great joy and pleasure that produces endorphins (the feel good healing hormones of the body) which also cross to her baby.

In Dr Sarah Buckley’s book “Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering” she writes:

“The experiences that will begin to fire and wire your baby’s brain start in your womb, with the physical sensations that provide the earliest learning. These include being physically supported by the womb and amniotic fluid, being kept warm by your body warmth, being gently rocked as you walk, being exposed to different tastes from your diet via the amniotic fluid, hearing your voice and voices of other family members, and feeling calm and settled when you are calm and settled. Conversely, high levels of stress during pregnancy can fire and wire your baby’s brain for dysfunctions in learning and over-reactivity to stress.” 

Dr. Sarah Buckley

Dr. Sarah Buckley

 A mother and her partner creates this amazing bond with baby in utero by so many every day activities such as humming, singing, reading, relaxing while rubbing belly, talking to baby and visualising what your baby looks like, or playing with baby when they kick by poking them back gently – you will soon discover this becomes “play time” between you and your baby.

A wonderful way to share your pregnancy with your baby as they are growing up is to take photos and videos during your pregnancy, during your play time and at certain milestones of your pregnancy and creating a “Bonding With Baby Book” where you can sit and share these images with your child as they get older.  This is a fantastic way to bond with children or in particular soothe them when they are sad or upset, as it becomes “your time” for reflection and quality time together. 

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

So let’s look at how all this bonding and connection takes place.

The journal “Neurolmage” suggests that we are instinctively wired for bonding with our babies and the sight and smell of newborns triggers a deep seated response to care for that child.

It is interesting to note that scientists have also found that when a woman gives birth, the father actually grows more neuron connections in certain areas of the brain (prefrontal cortex) which is involved in caretaking and bonding.  When they become fathers the receptors for the chemical vasopressin increase, which is related to nurturing and attachment. 

Dads can have just as strong attachment / bonding as mother as a recent study showed oxytocin levels rise equally in both new mum and dad.

It also appears that babies are born with a brain that expects this bond to form in the first place.

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

 Another study funded by the National Institute of Health and conducted by the Brain and Behaviour Research Foundation claims that “Infants can learn from their mothers about potential environment threats before their sensory and motor development allows them a comprehensive exploration of the surrounding environment.”  What this means is that the experiences or traumas that a mother has during pregnancy can be passed on to her baby including any stimulus such as smell, which then causes that child to experience distress and anxiety or in some cases post-traumatic stress syndrome, when they smell that smell after birth, without having ever experienced that trauma directly themselves.

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

That close physical contact at birth with skin on skin starts the powerful process of bonding between mother and baby. The baby also receives smells from the mums’ nipples, which attracts baby to that area, to instinctively start breastfeeding – creating the beautiful display of the “breast crawl.”

Take a look at this video created by www.breastcrawl.org demonstrating the breast crawl of newborn baby to mother’s breast.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3oPb4WdycE#t=15

Babies will recognise the milk from their own mother over the milk from another lactating mother. Skin-on-skin contact helps to imprint all the olfactory stimulus of the mother to the baby and vice versa, providing that security of being able to identify each other when they separated – this is the “imprinting” process which is part of our evolution.

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

In one experiment, researchers tested newborns by holding a pad carrying maternal odours 17cm from the baby’s nose. In response, the babies wriggled towards the pad that contains the scent of their own mother.

A recent study also showed that 90% of mothers who were left to bond with their baby uninterrupted for a minimum of one hour were able to identify their baby through smell alone.

My suggestion is rather than baby being brought straight up to mums chest at birth for skin-on-skin contact, baby is placed on mums stomach, so that mum has the opportunity to have time to take in the look, the feel and the smell of her baby.  Baby also gets the opportunity to connect with mum on the outside and will start to smell the breast milk and by using the breast crawl technique will instinctively forage their way to the breast and start suckling, increasing the release of oxytocin for the placenta to be birthed and the mother to embrace her new role as a newborn mother.

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

Photo source: Hypnobirthing Centre WA

So now go and pick up your baby, hold your baby close, skin-to-skin and breathe in slowly to take your fill of pheromones and enjoy that beautiful connection for life.

My name is Vicki Hobbs and I am a pregnancy and postnatal massage specialist at Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Wellness. I am also a certified doula and offer hypnobirthing and childbirth education classes. For more details about my services, please call me on (08) 9303 9111 or email vicki@phoenixtherapies.com.au

Thank you to all my beautiful hypnobirthing families who have shared their amazing photos for this article.

Resources:

http://www.livescience.com/19108-baby-love-human-brain.html

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1651-2227.2004.tb00856.x/abstract

http://www.jneurosci.org/content/26/22/5888.full

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15841774

http://www.newsweek.com/mothers-fears-are-passed-children-through-smell-study-suggests-261754

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20453850

http://www.nature.com/pr/journal/v21/n4s/abs/pr1987171a.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK55973/

http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/node/518

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-brains-of-our-fathers/

http://www.parentingscience.com/newborn-senses.html

http://healthland.time.com/2013/09/26/why-moms-find-that-new-baby-smell-so-delicious/

http://www.breastcrawl.org/introduction.shtml

 

What is that gross stuff on your baby?

Vernix Caseosa (vernix) is the white, cheesy substance found on the skin of a newborn baby, which starts developing from the sebaceous glands around the 11 week mark in the uterus and seems to be unique to humans.  

It is made up 81% water, 9% lipids (fats) and 10% protein.

Photo by Phil Konstantin

Photo by Phil Konstantin

It is known to act as a barrier against the amniotic fluid and promote epidermal growth in utero.  What this means is that it prevents your baby’s skin from becoming all wrinkled and looking like a prune, just like you do after a long bath.

Sometimes parents are grossed out by the appearance of vernix on their newborns body, but if you understand why it is there, then perhaps you would be more inclined to leave it there to do what it is meant to do rather than your midwife rigorously rubbing it off.  One of the couples that I worked with recently said they thought it was a great way to “gross out” their friends and family to prevent them from picking up and cuddling their newborn baby in the first 24 hours of his new life.

vernix

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Some babies are born absolutely covered in vernix, particularly premature babies, covering every space and crevice of the body, while others particularly those after their estimated due date may have very little vernix.  It is thought that vernix helps with lubrication for baby to get through the birth canal more easily and reduce friction, and helps to conserve heat and protect the newborn skin, which is very sensitive. 

Research has shown that when left intact, vernix contributes considerably to functions such as maintaining a barrier to water loss, infection control, immuno surveillance, acid mantle formation (pH levels), antioxidant functions, thermoregulation and protection from ultraviolet light and other chemicals. 

That is why it is recommended that you only bath your baby in plain water once the vernix has dissolved to avoid irritating their sensitive skin.

vernix_caseosa

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

One study showed that vernix has antioxidant properties Vitamin E and Melanin, and contains an antibacterial effect by forming a barrier preventing bacteria from entering through the skin.  Vernix also contains antimicrobial proteins that are active against Group B Streptococcus and E.Coli.  The authors of this study also noted that the immune proteins found in vernix and amniotic fluid is similar to those found in breast milk.

It is believed that the vernix serves to moisturise and protect the skin and some cosmetic companies have researched its properties trying to emulate it in their skincare ranges.

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Even the World Health Organisation (WHO) has also recommended that vernix not be wiped off newborn babies at birth for at least 6 hours.

So it is okay to leave that vernix on your baby for as long as it is there and just let it naturally be absorbed or dissolve away.  When my daughter Holly was born she had a lot of vernix and we didn’t bath her for the first 4 days of her life.  My eldest daughter who was 15 at the time thought that was the grossest thing she had ever seen but we are glad that we left it.

Photo by Vicki Hobbs

Photo by Vicki Hobbs

My name is Vicki Hobbs and I am a pregnancy and postnatal massage specialist at Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Wellness. I am also a certified doula and offer hypnobirthing and childbirth education classes. For more details about my services, please visit my website www.phoenixtherapies.com.au  

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15592296

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2763724/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1595247/

http://community.babycenter.com/post/a22969357/vernix

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?cmd=Retrieve&list_uids=12538777&dopt=Abstract

http://www.medscape.org/viewarticle/519767

http://www.wpro.who.int/immunization/documents/newborncare_final.pdf

 

 

Why I Teach The Hypnobirthing Australia Program

I have been teaching hypnobirthing for a few years now and originally trained in 2009; however I have now chosen to teach the Hypnobirthing Australia program as I was really impressed by the extensive, professional practitioner training that I received earlier this year, which I found lacking when I originally did my hypnobirthing training.

Hypnobirthing-Logo

This program is Australian, modern, up to date, and has high quality class resources including the comprehensive folder that is given to the birthing couple for easy reference to class content and hypnobirthing techniques, beautiful visualisations that are professionally drawn by a graphic artist, along with clear and easy to understand birth prompts for the birth partner.

In our Hypnobirthing Australia classes, the professional powerpoint presentation highlights the conditioning of the sub-conscious mind while participants are enjoying the relaxed atmosphere of the class.  We show recent birth DVD’s of Australian and NZ women hypnobirthing exclusive to Hypnobirthing Australia that are not accessible on social media, the internet or YouTube.

More importantly for me I now find that the classes just “flow” and simply make so much more sense.  When I am sharing this information with birthing couples, I see that light bulb moment for the mums of understanding and knowing, and I see the partners really take on board all the information about the mind, the body, the hormones and the emotions and what they can do to make it a more positive experience.

In my classes, I also provide many extra tools to help with the visualisation, conditioning, relaxation and hypnosis triggers to help you along your hypnobirthing journey.

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With the Hypnobirthing Australia course references are also made to world-renowned childbirth and hypnosis experts such as Dr Michel Odent, Dr Sarah Buckley, Dr Grantly Dick-Read, Dr Milton Erickson, Dave Elman and Ina May Gaskin – to name just a few!  It does not focus on just one individuals’ ideals and views on what is the “right way” of pregnancy, labour, birth and parenting and it certainly doesn’t set you up for any unrealistic expectations of having a pain free birth or that by doing hypnobirthing you will be guaranteed a natural birth, however what it does do is provide you with the tools and knowledge to support you in having a positive, calm birth.

Another bonus to being a part of Hypnobirthing Australia is the cohesiveness of an amazing group of women all across Australia who run their own hypnobirthing businesses, but are part of a wonderful team who meet daily on social media and through webinars to receive ongoing training, support, encouragement, knowledge, experience, research and to share positive, amazing birth stories.

This is all coordinated by the Director of Hypnobirthing Australia – Melissa Spilsted, who is undeniably one of the most dynamic, intelligent, charismatic, professional and proactive women I have met in birthing circles.  She is such a positive and calm person, who strives to ensure that Hypnobirthing Australia is seen as a positive childbirth education program working independently of all other programs but in no way discrediting or making false statements that could damage the reputation of any other program.

IMG_1161

In my mind that shows someone with integrity and professionalism – something so many others could learn from in business.  She provides all the Hypnobirthing Australia practitioners with a safe environment to share our thoughts, ideas, suggestions and experiences and is constantly finding ways of value adding to the course and providing the best hypnobirthing program in Australia.

Hypnobirthing Australia was developed in Australia (Queensland) for Australian practitioners who undertake extensive training taught directly by Melissa, to provide quality assurance and who then must continue with ongoing professional development to remain certified.

Hypnobirthing Australia practitioners regularly have webinars for training purposes and we interact with one another in such a positive and productive way daily.  We are a positive and supportive team, not just individuals, and we share our achievements, our concerns, our exciting birth stories and brainstorm on a regular basis and this is invaluable as a practitioner and a fantastic resource.

The team is fortunate to have so many diverse professionals who generally come from a health or birth background such as midwives, counsellors, birth attendants (doulas), massage therapists, naturopaths, nutritionists, clinical hypnotherapists and so on to share their expertise and provide a platform for growth.  Melissa is constantly reviewing Australian birth practices and procedures and updating our course materials on a regular basis so the information that we provide to couples is the best possible information currently available.  We also provide additional links and resources to credible information and studies for couples to further their own research (rather than Google) to enable them to make confident choices to include in their birth preferences.

IMG_0426

There are many differences and similarities between all the hypnobirthing programs and my suggestion to you if you are looking for hypnobirthing classes is to do your research, find out what the differences are between the programs, talk to the practitioners offering classes and find the one that suits you best.

Melissa Spilsted has also written on the Hypnobirthing Australia website some of the differences between our program and some others in the market today.

http://www.hypnobirthingaustralia.com.au/what-is-the-difference-between-hypnobirthing-australia-hypnobirthing-the-mongan-method-calmbirth/

All Hypnobirthing Australia practitioners are passionate about their work and we love sharing this amazing transformation from fear based birthing to positive, confident birthing no matter how your baby decides to be born.

We know we are changing lives not only during an exciting yet sometimes challenging time for couples as they work their way through the unknown, but for the rest of their lives as well, as all the tools and techniques we teach can be used in so many different circumstances in everyday life.

Even dogs love being a part of the hypnobirthing classes!

Even dogs love being a part of the hypnobirthing classes!

As I read over what I have just written, I notice my heart is just bursting with love, emotion and pride to be a part of such an awesome group and I know that this love, emotion and pride shines through in my hypnobirthing classes when I teach.

And so it is……

If you would like more information about the Hypnobirthing Australia program in Perth, please contact me on 0488 030 006 or email info@hypnobirthingcentrewa.com.au

Happy Hypnobirthing!

Vicki Hobbs
Certified Hypnobirthing Australia Practitioner

 

I’m pregnant – why does it hurt so much?

Preparing for birth is like preparing for a marathon.

You need to condition both your mind and your body.

You need to release fear, which creates tension, producing more pain, creating more fear, which starts a whole vicious cycle in the mind and body as described by Obstetrician and leading advocate of natural birth, Dr Grantly Dick-Read in his book ‘Childbirth Without Fear’.

However, let’s look at an area of the physical side of pregnancy.  One of the important physical aspects of the body during pregnancy is the pelvis.  Your pelvis is not one fixed bone, it is made up of the sacrum, coccyx and the two sacroiliac joints, one on the left and one on the right, which are joined at the front by the pubis symphysis, a fibrous cartilage.

Surrounding the pelvis are really important muscles which help to stabilise the pelvis, but let’s really just focus on the psoas muscles (pronounced so-as), which also works to send messages back to the central nervous system.

The psoas major muscles are quite large muscles and are the only muscles that connect your spine to your leg on either side of the spine.  The psoas connects from the last four vertebrae of the spine between the pelvis and the ribs and then wrap around to the front of the pelvis and drop down to attach at the lower end to the top of the thigh bone.

psoas muscle

The iliopsoas is a hip flexor and externally rotates the hip and the psoas (major) part of the muscle assists in lumbar extension and moves the ribs forward into a thrust, lifting the chest.  When these muscles contract they will shorten, when the muscles relax they will lengthen and release tension.  The psoas is shortened more so during pregnancy due to the anterior pelvic tilt, as your uterus expands, baby grows and you are carrying more weight.

During pregnancy, the psoas contributes to pain through the lower back, groin, adductors and can even cause weakness due to the extra pressure from the weight of the uterus.  Being in a sitting position for long periods of time can shorten the psoas muscle causing pain and tension in the pelvic floor, the hips and the spine.

It can also affect the space in the abdomen, affect the alignment of the skeletal system and limit the range of motion in the spine, pelvis and legs, which in turn will limit the functionality of birthing positions such as squatting.

The psoas plays a significant role in Optimal Foetal Positioning (OFP) and can be a reason a baby stays in the breech position, as it can prevent the hips from extending and restrict the opening of the pelvis.  It can cause the disks in the spinal cord to compress and also shorten the hamstrings and calf muscles.  Pregnant women should learn to relax, release and lengthen the psoas muscles on a daily basis so that baby will find an easy transition into the birth canal.

Optimal Foetal Position

Medical Illustration – Nucleus Medical Media

 

Childbirth Educator and Physical Therapist Penny Simkin writes:  “It is less important to know the foetal position than it is important to respond to the needs of the birth.  The muscles, ligaments and bones may need accommodation regardless of foetal position.  In other words, tension in the psoas pair of muscles or pelvic floor can delay an anterior baby and a posterior baby.  Extension of the anterior foetus’ head can prevent engagement in some pelvises.  The main point is that we can, when needed, promote progress regardless of foetal position.”

It is also important to be aware that the hormone ‘relaxin’ does not reduce muscle tension.  It softens the abdominal muscles to cope with the growing size of your belly and relaxes the pelvic floor muscles.  Relaxin promotes the rupture of the membranes, the opening and softening of the cervix and vagina, relaxes the pelvic ligaments and joints, the intrauterine ligaments and the pubis symphysis to help with the smooth transition of baby from womb to world, however pregnant women need to do more of their own work to stretch out and release stress and tension in the muscles (particularly the psoas) as the hormones will not do this for you.

Liz Koch from Core Awareness is an advisor for the well-known Spinning Babies organisation and recommends this simple gravity technique to help release the psoas muscles during pregnancy and to also encourage Optimal Foetal Positioning while relieving stress and anxiety.

Liz Koch - Core Awareness

  1. Lie on your back and use pillows to create a diagonal support from your sit bones to your head (if you’re not pregnant, you can just lie on your back).
  2. Bend your knees, with your heels about 12 – 16 inches away from the buttocks.
  3. Keep your feet about a hip width apart and parallel with each other.
  4. Place your hands on your belly or at the sides of your body and simply rest in this position for 10 – 20 minutes.

Well known Physical Therapist Susan McLaughlin demonstrates how to release the psoas and relax the pelvic floor muscles, which can also be incorporated during pregnancy.

Susan McLaughlin - psoas release

  1. Place the bolster near the bottom of the shoulder blades.
  2. Make sure that the ribs remain relaxed and flush with your abdominal wall.
  3. Extend the legs.
  4. Make sure that the back of your thighs fully touch the floor.
  5. If they don’t you need to bolster up higher.
  6. Relax like this for 5-10 minutes.
  7. Allow your legs and torso to relax.
  8. Practice breathing.
  9. Focus on allowing the pelvic floor muscles to relax on the inhale.
  10. Tension in the pelvic floor can pull on the sacrum, limiting sacral mobility that is necessary to widen the pelvic outlet.

Regular massage will certainly release tension and stress in the pregnant body encouraging the feel good hormones endorphins, aid in increasing circulation and reducing oedema.  A qualified pregnancy massage specialist will be able release the psoas muscles as well as teach a pregnant woman how to stretch and relax the psoas on a daily basis to ensure her body is ready for labour and birth, and assist in Optimal Foetal Positioning.

I am a Pregnancy Massage Specialist with a Diploma in Pregnancy Massage and Maternity Care from both Well Mother and Pregnancy Massage Australia.  My business is Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Wellness  located in the northern suburbs of Perth and I have been operating since 2004.  I work with women during pre-conception, pregnancy and the postnatal period as well as after caesarean section to promote rapid healing both physically and mentally.

I am also a certified Doula, Hypnotherapist and Heal Your Life Facilitator while running another business as a Hypnobirthing Practitioner at the Hypnobirthing Centre WA and a Member of Hypnobirthing Australia.

To book your pregnancy or postnatal massage or just to get more information please call me on (08) 9303 9111 or email vicki@phoenixtherapies.com.au

 

 

Hypnobirthing Story of Marek – born 10th July 2014

I went into labour two weeks earlier than my estimated time and we had an all-natural birth just like we planned.

I started having regular surges around 3am that day but I managed to stay in bed.  I still woke up to pack a sandwich for my husband’s lunch at 5am.

I called my husband back at 9am so he could help make me feel more calm.  We called the hospital and slowly packed our bag.  By midday I told my husband we should go for a check-up at the hospital (although in the back of my mind I was thinking we might be sent home) even though the surges were quite close I was not sure because this is my first time.

We arrived at the hospital around 12:45pm and went to be monitored and have a check up.  I didn’t know my progress but my husband did (I was 8cm dilated).  I went straight to the birthing suite within 15 minutes of arriving, and we just didn’t have any time to take anything (our camera, music, birth ball) out of the car as I needed my husband by my side.

My midwife and my husband were great, they were so supportive.  In the transition stage I nearly gave up but my husband and midwife helped me pass that point with reassurance and smiles on their faces.  I breathed with every surge and deep breaths with slight moaning to bring my son out.

My son Marek was born on 10 July 2014 at 14:38 with a tiny body of 2.5kg.  He was alert and we had great bonding time.  I delivered my placenta quickly soon after the birth without the injection.  It all happened very quickly for us.  We spent less than 3 hours of labour in the hospital.

There were lots of funny bits when we look back:

  • My husband nearly became the midwife if we had stayed any longer at home.
  • We only have one photo from the birthing moment with my phone as we didn’t have time to get anything out of the car.
  • My husband got a parking fine as he had no time to move the car.

I cannot complain about the birth at all, but I’m struggling with breastfeeding.  I don’t have much supply and my son had tongue tie and jaw problems so he cannot be on my breast much, which makes my supply even lower.

I will still keep trying and happy in the way that he is growing well with small amounts of expressed breast milk and formula.

Our photo of us is straight after birth and no-one would believe that was a few minutes after he was born as I didn’t seem tired.

Marek - Kannika & Pavel

We were overjoyed with Marek and our birthing experience. Thank you Vicki for guiding us with hypnobirthing tools to be calm and positive.  I even use the breathing to calm baby on my chest at night when he doesn’t settle.  We are glad to share our story, and hope it will help others or at least put a smile on their face.

Looking forward to seeing you soon.

Kannika & Pavel

 

Stretch Marks During Pregnancy – is there a miracle cure?

Around 70% of pregnant women develop stretch marks during pregnancy and this is due to scarring that develops in the deeper layers of the skin.  When there is a lot of stress, stretching and strain on the collagen fibres in the skin, and repetitive stress and tension in the deeper fibres (dermis) this causes the fibres to break, which then creates the marks on the surface of the skin that we know as stretch marks.

stretch marks5

Being pregnant creates that type of stress and strain on the skin, and depending on what type of collagen, elastin and skin type you have will determine whether you are more likely to get stretch marks.

Unfortunately there is no way you can prevent stretch marks, as research shows that stretch marks are hereditary, so if your mother had stretch marks during pregnancy, then the likelihood is that you will probably get stretch marks too due to your genetic makeup.

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However, for those who are likely to get stretch marks you can reduce the severity of them with your diet and how much weight you put on or how rapidly you put the weight on.  Stretch marks over time will eventually fade, but the texture of the marks will be permanent.

stretch marks2

Many companies out there are claiming to “cure stretch marks” and you need to be wary of spending thousands of dollars to undergo treatment that you hope will cure your stretch marks.  You may reduce the appearance of them and so maybe in these circumstances many women can regain some confidence in their body image, which is obviously a good thing, however on the other hand many women have found that it did nothing for them – my old saying “we are all individuals, what works for one person may not work for the next.”

stretch marks3

There is no miracle cure for stretch marks – no cream, lotion, potion or machine that can do that so don’t be fooled by clever marketing.  A recent study published in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment identified that laser treatment that was trialled on 17 women with stretch marks, over six treatments performed weekly, seemed to be effective in improving the texture and appearance of the stretch marks, however again it did not remove them completely.

Laser_Stretch_Mark_Removal

We recommend that you keep your skin hydrated by using a rich, thick cream, which will also help to stop the itchiness of the stretching skin with your growing belly or a lotion such as the well-known brand Bio-Oil, which has active ingredients to help improve the look and tone of stretch marks, however even they highlight on their website:  “Stretch marks are permanent in nature, and although Bio-Oil is formulated to help improve their appearance, it can never remove them.”

boi-oil

When you are applying cream or oil to your belly we recommend you massage it in a clockwise direction – the direction of your digestion.

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Drinking plenty of water will also be helpful in hydrating your body and your skin.

Now it’s time to think of your stretch marks as your “Creator Stripes” as you remind yourself and everyone else who sees them that you have earned these stripes – you are now a mother, a creator, a life long energetic connection to another human being who was created and who grew inside you, and that makes you another amazing, awesome woman of the world.

women are strong

Thank you for nurturing your babies in your bodies and bringing them into the world. What an amazing achievement!

 

Vicki Hobbs
Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Centre
Hypnobirthing Centre WA

 

(Disclaimer – I do not own some of the images on this page)

The Power of Hypnobirthing

Vicki Hobbs from the Hypnobirthing Centre WA is a certified Hypnobirthing Practitioner with Hypnobirthing Australia and is passionate in educating women to have a more positive and relaxed prenatal, birthing and post natal experience.

For most of their lives, women have been bombarded with negative stories of other women’s birth experiences or what they see on TV or in movies.  They have been conditioned to believe that excruciating pain is associated with labour; and because of this, many women fear giving birth.  Additionally, if they have already experienced a traumatic birth they generally have fear associated with their next birth.

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This fear creates tension of the muscles, which then creates pain that generates more fear, so this creates a cycle that inhibits their body from performing a normal physiological function.  The result is exactly what they feared most – long, painful birthing or unnecessary intervention.

Fear-Tension-Pain-cycle

Hypnobirthing is a self-hypnosis childbirth education program that prepares women for birth without fear or tension and to allow her body to function as it was designed to.  It will be one of the most valuable investments a couple can make towards a positive and empowered birth and for the rest of their lives.

Surge of the sea

By learning these self-hypnosis, relaxation, affirmation, visualisation and breathing techniques it will fully prepare the mother and give her confidence to birth in a calm, positive way, regardless of whether she has chosen to birth in a hospital, at home, a birthing centre or even if she is having an elective caesarean or special circumstances arise unexpectedly.  During classes we incorporate fear releasing hypnosis and conditioning of your mind to release your bodies most powerful healing hormones, the endorphins, which are said to be up to two hundred times more powerful than morphine.

endorphin - morphine

Expectant mums learn to trust in themselves and their bodies and they are prepared no matter whatever turn their birthing takes.  This program does not set up any unrealistic expectations for birthing and partners also play an integral part in helping the mum to relax, offering support, positive reinforcement, asking questions of medical caregivers and advocating for whatever decisions they make together.

KerryLee & Jarret2

There are so many benefits to using the hypnobirthing techniques and evidence shows:

  • It creates a more integral role for the birthing partner;
  • The first stage of labour can be shortened by several hours;
  • Labour fatigue is greatly reduced for the mother;
  • Postnatal recovery time is faster;
  • It greatly reduces medical intervention;
  • There are lower induction and caesarean rates;
  • There is substantially less pain relief administered;
  • There is a higher success for breastfeeding;

Jacob1 - Krystle & Mitch

For more information about hypnobirthing course details in Perth, please contact the Hypnobirthing Centre WA on 08 9303 9111 or website www.hypnobirthingcentrewa.com.au

 

Hypnobirthing Story of Lachlan – born 15th April 2014

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On the morning of the 15th April 2014, I went into natural labour with my first baby at 5 days past his guess date.  At 5.00am I woke to go to the loo, and had my show.  I knew this could happen days before labour so tried not to get too excited!  However at 7.00am my waters broke and it was as in the movies… a big rush!  I knew that I had to get labour going within 24 hours to avoid being induced, so I hopped in the shower, got dressed and hubby Jarret and I took the dogs for a walk.  I was getting Braxton Hicks quite regularly, but they were nothing more than a light tightening sensation.

KerryLee & Jarret1

Once home, I got onto my fit ball and started doing hip rotations.  At 10.00am I started to feel light surges and by 10.30am I knew I was officially in labour!  The surges started at 4 minutes apart and quickly got closer and closer together.  They were not painful at all… in fact it is hard to describe the feeling. It was more like intensity and a tightening in my lower tummy.  I practiced my surge breathing and listened to my hypnobirthing music and Surge of the Sea relaxation and visualisation CD, which I really felt worked well for me!

My whole body remained loose and limp… it looked like I was fast asleep most of the time.  I decided to hop into the bath to relax, listening to my affirmations, which kept me very relaxed and calm.

My husband timed the surges, and by 12 noon they were 2 minutes apart.  He suggested we get ready to go into the Birth Centre, however I was unsure as I was expecting things to get far more intense before having to go in.  I wanted to avoid being sent back home, and they were so completely manageable that I really didn’t believe I was ready to go.

The midwife told us we needed to come in ASAP, so we packed our things and got to the Centre at 1.00pm.  I continued listening to the affirmations in the car to avoid slowing my labour with a change of environment and this seemed to work well!

KerryLee & Jarret2

Once at the Birth Centre, I agreed to be examined.  I was already 8cm dilated!  I could not believe it!  I hopped into the bath around 1.30 pm, and relaxed to my hypnobirthing music, practicing my breathing and sipping on water.  At around 3.15 pm I felt I was ready to bear down, and my body started doing this automatically without me even trying.  I told the midwives and they encouraged me to work with my body.  As he moved down the birth canal, the midwives kept asking me if I felt a burning sensation but I didn’t feel a thing.  About 45 minutes later, at 3.56 pm, our baby boy Lachlan was born.

KerryLee & Jarret3

I pulled him out myself which was incredibly empowering.  Apart from being checked when I first arrived, I had no one touch me my entire labour.  It was amazing!

When I pulled Lachlan out of the water, his heart rate dropped and they had to cut the cord straight away.  He gave out a little squeak, but he was not breathing so they had to take him away to give him oxygen.  I hopped out of the bath and started hemorrhaging and lost 850mls of blood in a very short space of time.  I was so in my ‘hypnobirthing zone’ that I was completely unphased by what was happening.

KerryLee & Jarret5

I felt for my poor hubby who was in a state as he did not know who to go with!  I was so calm and relaxed that I told him to go with Lachlan.  He began breathing fine, but they needed to monitor him for a couple of hours to make sure he was all ok.  My bleeding stopped on its own (they think I had a burst vessel from the placenta coming away from my uterus), but I also needed a couple of stitches.

Once baby and I had both been sorted out, they brought him to me and placed him on my chest and he started breastfeeding straight away!  He was very alert from the get go, and is a very relaxed and calm baby.  He feeds like a little champion too!

My labour was such a breeze, and such a wonderful experience.  I used to be so fearful of labour, but hypnobirthing really enabled me to work with my body and have a wonderful pain free experience!  Many people do not believe me when I tell them that it was so wonderful, and I didn’t even need so much as a Panadol.

KerryLee & Jarret4

I cannot recommend hypnobirthing enough!  I will also say that part of it was due to very healthy eating before and during pregnancy, as well as me being very fit before falling pregnant and keeping up with exercise throughout my pregnancy.  I don’t think my labour would have been nearly as quick and easy if I was not fit and healthy.

Thank you to my hypnobirthing practitioner Vicki Hobbs from Hypnobirthing Centre WA for being such a great support and resource!

To see a short video of me during my surges and leading up to Lachlan being born, please click on the video link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=giYkYTaTYeM&feature=youtu.be

Kerry-lee & Jarret
Tapping, WA

Hypnobirthing Story of Aryan – born 5th March 2014

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First of all I would like to thank Vicki Hobbs from the Hypnobirthing Centre WA for helping me release my fear of birthing and to also help me think positive all the way about everything – my pregnancy, my labour, the surges I would experience and moving my baby down.  I was one person who was so scared of just thinking about the due day, every time I thought of it I’d get goose bumps and all sorts of questions would arise in my mind such as “will I be able to do it”, if I can’t tolerate my eye brows being threaded how will I tolerate pain of birth?

Vicki helped me release this fear through the classes and gave me one on one attention when I really needed it, which I am so grateful to her for.  After the hypnobirthing classes, which I completed when I was 38 weeks everything was still fresh and I prepared my own birthing plan.  Jag and I compiled songs that we both loved and reminded us of the special memories we shared and holidays that we went to.  I printed my maternity photo shoot which had my birthing colours to help me calm down and focus.  Along with these songs I also had my positive affirmations, Surge of the Sea and Rainbow Mist CD’s, which were very helpful.

Dhruti & Jag

On Tuesday midnight I woke up with slight surges that lasted for a few seconds and then went away – they were about 15 minutes apart and not very regular.  I fell asleep and woke up around 8am as my friends were coming over to catch up before the bub arrives.  I went to the loo and saw my mucous plug had released, I thought to myself “this is it, oh my god its happening, what shall I do.”  I was panicking and told my mum, but then I gathered myself and thought I might still be days away and even if it happens it’s going to be okay and I will use my tools, stay calm and birth my baby.

I text my friends that I wasn’t well and if we could postpone the catch up, but then I thought to myself that if I was to be alone I’d be thinking all sorts of things so I’d rather catch up with them, which will be relaxing and divert my mind.  I text Jag and informed him, he was so excited that he couldn’t work and decided to come home and sleep for the big night as he was so sure that it was going to happen that evening.

I decided not to tell my friends about my surges and just go with the flow.  Mum and I made lunch, my friends came over and the day was going as normal, but I did have surges in between that sometimes lasted a minute or so, I would just stay calm and breathe through the surges.  At one point my friend did ask me “are you ok? Why are you so quiet?”

The day passed by quickly and in the evening my surges increased and Jag started timing them, and I was just breathing through them while listening to the affirmations.  I kept watching the YouTube video of the lotus opening as the music in the video helped to calm me down. It was around 11pm that the surges started getting closer and more intense.  Jag would stroke me with the light touch massage and help me stay calm.

16. Birth Colours - Dhruti Varsani

After a few hours we decided to call the hospital and inform them about the situation.  Jag and I decided that we’d go to the hospital when the surges were 5-7 minutes apart. By 1am the surges were more intense and we decided it was time.

We reached the hospital and informed the midwife we were a hypnobirthing couple and that all the communications to be kept to a minimum and with Jag.  First we were in the assessment room so that midwife could check my progress, monitor bubs heart beat and do a few tests.  I noticed that the surges were now 10-15 minutes apart, which I was aware that would probably happen because of the environment change and the transition between home and hospital.  I calmed down, Jag was so supportive and gave me the light touch massage again, talked to me softly and I also kept listening to the affirmations.

I must say hypnobirthing helped Jag understand me so much more.  He always had the fear of coming to the hospital and having to see me in so much pain, but he was so different and positive and very supportive.  After about an hour my obstetrician came and they decided to check how many centimetres dilated I was.  This was very uncomfortable for some reason.  I just had my eyes covered and kept listening to my music.  I didn’t want to know how many centimetres I was so they informed Jag.  Earlier in the week I went for my check up with my obstetrician and she had informed me that the baby’s head was down but he was in a lateral position.  The midwife checked and informed me that the position was now head down and no longer lateral, which gave me confidence that everything was going well.

Aryan4 - Dhruti & Jag

After a while we were taken to the birth suite and the moment I walked in I felt some comfort.  I knew this was now “my space.”  Jag set up the room with candle lights, dimmed the room lights, set the music up and got me a birthing ball.  This was around 4am on Wednesday morning and the surges were constant and about 7-9 minutes apart.  We listened to our songs that we had compiled, I had my arms across his shoulders and we just enjoying the music and I continued to breathe through the surges.  Time was distorted to me, just like I was taught in hypnobirthing classes, as then the next thing I realised it was around 9pm and I was getting tired as I hadn’t slept.  I had another check up with the obstetrician and she said that I was still quite far off and asked if I wanted to be induced as the baby was head down but quite high and in a lateral position again.  We weren’t sure and decided to wait for a while, but after about two hours I agreed to be induced.

Being vocal was the best thing that helped me as I could release the intensity I was feeling through my voice.  Jag stroked my head with the head massager and light touch massage while the music in the background was on as well.  All these tools were so very helpful.  My obstetrician came for another check-up and asked if I wanted an epidural.  I said no, but I was so exhausted as I hadn’t slept for 2 days.  Jag and I then talked about it and he said it would relax me and I could get some sleep as the baby’s position was still lateral and he was still very high.

Aryan2 - Dhruti & Jag

I decided to take the epidural and slept for a while.  I could still feel the surges but not as intense as before.  After an hour our midwife checked how far I had dilated.  I was so happy and excited as I was 10cms dilated and it was time to bear down.  I started to bear down and was told to push whenever I had a surge.  I could slightly feel them and with the help of my midwife and obstetrician I started to push.

I kept talking to my baby loudly (I didn’t care about anyone listening to me), I kept telling him “come on we can do this, please come to mummy it’s now time for mummy to see you.”  I kept touching my belly and talking out loudly and I felt it helped me connect with my baby.  My obstetrician and Jag then decided to use the vacuum, which I was fine with as the baby was getting uncomfortable inside as well.

We started again, using the vacuum but it still did not work, the baby was now more uncomfortable and my obstetrician suggested we use forceps.  I have no idea why I said no but something in me just didn’t want this type of intervention to be used.  So I was taken to theatre for a caesarean.

Aryan1 - Dhruti & Jag

While transferring me to the theatre room I was very positive and kept singing to myself.  I talked to the nurses and doctors who came to explain all the procedures that were going to happen.  After about 35 hours it was finally time to see our baby.  Our baby boy Aryan was born at 5.15pm – the most beautiful and amazing moment of our lives.

My obstetrician later thanked me and told me that she was glad I said no to using the forceps as it would have been very hard for both bub and me had we used them as he was still so high up because of the position of my pelvis so he would not have been able to move down into the birth canal and the caesarean had been the best decision in this instance.

Though I had a few complications after the birth, after a month when I do recall my birthing story I have a smile on my face and always tell myself it was the most wonderful experience I have ever had.  It is so true that people make labour and birthing of babies these days very complicated, painful and scary but there is also another way to look at it and enjoy it, the hypnobirthing way.

Aryan3 - Dhruti & Jag

I have no regret with what I went through, even though it was a long labour, but it was still full of fun and beautiful memories that I will cherish forever.  I got to experience labour, the sensations of my uterus surging and the feel of my baby during this time while producing the birthing hormones that helped to establish good breastfeeding and bonding, and I had no fear at all.  This whole experience has brought my husband and I so much closer, and he was able to support me in a way that he wouldn’t have felt confident doing before the classes. I am so proud to share my hypnobirthing story with all pregnant women and once again would like to thank Vicki for sharing her knowledge with us.  Without hypnobirthing my birthing story and experience would definitely have been very different.

Dhruti & Jag
Madeley, WA

Hypnobirthing Story of Avery

I had a very good pregnancy and stayed very healthy and fit throughout it. I listened to my affirmations on a daily basis and focused on having a positive birth. When people asked me if I was nervous or dreading it, I could say with honesty that I wasn’t. Instead, I felt positive that I was going to be able to have a good birth and was looking forward to meeting our baby and finding out if it was a boy or girl.

2013-08-03 Jon & Sherilynn2

All or our doctor’s visits went well, but as we approached our estimated due date our doctor discussed induction with us. He wanted to induce on our due date, however we asked him for more time. Due to an overseas trip, the last day that he was going to be around was 5 days after our due date. We considered against having an induction at all, but normally they do not let you go past 7 days at the hospital we were going to and I did want my obstetrician there for the delivery as he was familiar with our preferences and we had discussed our birth plan with him.

2013-08-03 Jon & Sherilynn1

So after many questions and persuading him to wait as long as possible we penciled the induction date. I did do my best to get things rolling naturally – acupuncture, massage, pressure points, eating pineapple and sex, bouncing on a fit ball, raspberry leaf tea and walking, walking and more walking. I asked for an internal about a week before during our last appointment and there was no sign that baby was coming. A couple of days before the induction date I did have some pretty intense contractions, but I had been having Braxton Hicks on and off so I attributed them to that. Jon said that we would just skip the induction if I didn’t feel ready. However we had a very nice relaxing weekend and I felt very mentally prepared and ready to meet our baby so we decided to embrace it.

Jon & Sherilynn3

On the night of the 14th, we went into the hospital to get checked. I was already 2 cm dilated, so we decided to forego the gels and went home and rested. The next morning we had a good healthy breakfast and drove to the hospital for 7 am. I was surprised at how calm and quiet we were on the way to the hospital. Jon was reciting some of our favorite affirmations on the way to the hospital. Once we arrived we set up our room and made it ours. We made all of the midwives aware that we were a hypnobirthing family and wanted to do everything as natural as possible. We were lucky to have a student midwife (Kylee) with us that day in the delivery room. She had accompanied me on most of my later prenatal doctor visits in the delivery room that day. I believe she was very integral in making our birth our success.

Our doctor came in first thing and released the membranes. They then started me on the drip about an hour later. As there was meconium in the water fluid, they wanted to put me on monitors the whole time. I told them that I wanted to be mobile and be able to move around so they found a mobile unit for me. The surges started pretty fast, although they were not very intense and it was easy to focus and complete my breathing for the first few hours. For the initial stage, I just went into my own world. Jon had put up my picture of “into these hands” on the wall in front of me and I just stared at that and breathed. He also had the Loosey Limp teddy on had that Vicki had given us and he would show me that whenever I tensed up.

After the first couple hours, the surges got more intense and I decided I wanted to move around more. I alternated between standing and sitting on the fit ball leaning my head and arms against the bed. The midwives kept bringing me heat pads for my stomach and back. I did not feel like eating (Jon did enough of that for both of us) but instead had some lollies and lemonade and lots and lots of water. As the surges got more intense I was finding it very difficult to breathe through them, but Jon and Kylee were at my side talking me through. We also had our Surge of the Sea playing and affirmations and some other relaxation music I had listened to during pregnancy playing in the background for awhile.

Towards the last hour I was finding it very difficult and panicked a little bit and told Jon that I think I wanted an epidural. We had agreed before that he would tell me to try and wait half and hour and then we would see. In that time the doctor came in and we asked to get checked. When he checked I was already 9 cm dilated and there was no time for any pain relief! About 10 minutes later I was 10 cm dilated and ready to have Avery.

Once I could feel her moving down I actually found it easier to focus and breathe. I tried to picture the birth breathing as I was doing it, although I must admit I did find that hard. One of the most helpful things was one of the midwives was wiping my face with a cold cloth in between surges and just talking me through them. I tried a few positions, but in the end found it most comfortable to deliver while lying on my side on the bed.

It took about 45 minutes to birth Avery, she was born at 15:05 on the 15 October 2013 and was 3.13kgs and 50 cm long. Once she came they put her straight on my chest and it was the most wonderful moment in the whole world. That night I was on a huge adrenaline high and was just so so happy that the birth went so well. I felt so empowered that I was able to get through it without pain relief. It was amazing that I was able to feel her moving down and I could direct my energy to her.

Jon & Sherilynn4

Thank you so much Vicki for guiding us through the hypnobirthing course. You provided us with so much information which helped us make decisions before and during the birth that enabled us to have the birth that we wanted. I think that the tools that Jon learnt in the course helped him to play such an important role in the birth.

I was also very happy with our Obstetrician and the care received by all of the staff at our hospital and must say that I am happy that we went through the private system. When he started to talk about induction, initially I wasn’t very happy, however I think once we decided to embrace it and we made it clear to him that we still wanted to do it without pain relief or further intervention it set us up for success.

Avery2 - Sherilynn & Jon

Both Kylee and the main midwife who was with me during the delivery said that they were so happy that I did it without the epidural, they said that at one point when they could see me wavering they knew they just had to get me through it. There were two hypnobirth babies born at our hospital that day and all of the midwives thought that was great.

Avery3 - Sherilynn & Jon

I hope that we have a similar story with our next baby. I am looking forward to having more, it was such a good experience.

Warm Regards,

Sheri-lynn, Jon and Avery
Currambine, Western Australia