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

 

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.

stretch marks4

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.

phoenix-16

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.

fear-2

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

HBLogo3

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 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

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!!”

stop sign

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.

scary birth

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.”

Lifeguard

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.

Tangled Ever After - Still 2

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. 

2013-08-08 Amanda & Shane1

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

Hypnobirthing – What is it?

My name is Vicki Hobbs and I am a certified Hypnobirthing Childbirth Educator with Hypnobirthing Australia (www.hypnobirthingaustralia.com.au)

Hypnobirthing-Logo
When I chat to women about hypnobirthing some of them have said that they have bought one of the many books on hypnobirthing, but they just didn’t quite get it so hypnobirthing didn’t work for them.

Yes, books are great and really worthwhile as a reference to gain more information and to have on hand as a resource, however attending the Hypnobirthing Australia classes will provide you and your partner with so many more benefits and then allow you to understand everything you need to know and practice.

Why?

Because you have someone who is professionally trained and passionate about hypnobirthing, who is then able to demonstrate with you and your partner or Birth Companion what hypnobirthing is all about.

When you have someone who believes so much in what they are teaching and are passionate about sharing that belief, you can be guaranteed that this positive energy will be transferred to you – you can’t get that energy from a book.

As you are practicing in class the hypnobirthing practitioner can provide feedback and suggestions to you.  Not only that, the hypnobirthing practitioner is then also your motivator, your extra support person who encourages and inspires you to practice what you have learnt and to answer the questions you will inevitably have.  The more you practice, the more you will understand and believe in what you have learnt and then the more wonderful your hypnobirthing experience will be.

Your practitioner will be able to provide you with extra resources and direct you to study papers, examples, visualisations and support groups while maintaining a motivational support role leading up to your birth through emails and phone calls if you need it.  During classes we are continually using language and prompts and visualisations to embed the hypnosis anchors or positive thoughts in your subconscious mind.

Hypnobirthing-Amanda-Shane Hypnobirthing couple Amanda & Shane

As a couple you participate in hypnotherapy sessions during classes and during these sessions we provide the “anchoring” and “deepening” techniques to help you go into that deeply relaxed zone and to be able to get to that zone at any time you need particularly during labour.  We are also able to demonstrate the 3 different breathing techniques – one technique for relaxation, one technique for during surges and the other during birth and explain what each of these breaths are doing physiologically so that you understand the importance of the different breaths.

You just can’t get that from a book!

The 5 Basic Hypnobirthing Australia techniques that we teach you are:

  1. Relaxation
  2. Visualisation
  3. Self-Hypnosis
  4. Breathing
  5. Affirmations

The Hypnobirthing Australia classes are not just about hypnosis and how to slide into that calm, relaxed space.  It is a really comprehensive childbirth education program, which has been developed for pregnancy, birth and beyond but particularly relevant for the Australian model of care and childbirth practices.

Originally I trained and certified in HypnoBirthing – The Mongan Method (which is the American based method) and have been running group classes for several years.  However, now having certified in February 2014 as a Hypnobirthing Australia practitioner I have decided to offer these Australian classes as they are more modern, up to date and relevant for Australian birthing practices and I now feel so much more passionate about sharing this program as it is relevant and always evolving.

I love this program because it is constantly changing with changes to the system and as new studies, research and birthing information comes to hand.  The Hypnobirthing Australia practitioners across Australia all have something to contribute with so many varied qualifications such as midwives, natural therapists, massage therapists, physiotherapists, hypnotherapists and so many with years of experience and skills, and when something in the program needs changing and updating, then you can be certain that Melissa Spilsted who is the Director of Hypnobirthing Australia is onto it promptly and sharing those changes with us all.

Books don’t generally change as new research and studies become available and for me that was one of the frustrating things when I was teaching the other program of hypnobirthing.

Hypnobirthing-Seal

For you to feel confident that you are getting a hypnobirthing practitioner who is trained and certified to teach the Hypnobirthing Australia method of hypnobirthing just look for the original blue Hypnobirthing Australia Certified Practitioner logo.

During the classes we discuss some of the following:

  • What to expect and the reasons why;
  • Your birthing muscles and how they work with professionally created diagrams and visual aids;
  • Relaxation breathing techniques for in between surges (contractions);
  • Breathing techniques during surges;
  • Mother directed breathing or “bearing down” to ease your baby out;
  • Visualisation techniques;
  • Changing the way you think and speak about birth;
  • Positive affirmations;
  • Your care providers and your choices;
  • Natural induction methods;
  • Natural pain relief;
  • Labour and birthing positions;
  • A draft birth plan template that you can change to suit your own individual requirements;
  • Releasing fears, negative thoughts or emotions regarding childbirth and parenting;
  • Bonding with your baby during pregnancy and after birth;
  • Nutrition and preparing your body for healthy birthing.

Hypnobirthing-Krystle-Mitch Hypnobirthing couple Krystle & Mitch

The above points are just the tip of the iceberg of areas covered in classes.  There are so many positive reasons for taking our Hypnobirthing Australia classes, but one of the most valuable and important reasons is that your partner or birth companion are included in this training.  They are your greatest advocates, your pillar of support and protection, the one that you can turn to when you are not quite sure or you just need a bit of encouragement and a soft touch.

They are the ones who have such an integral role in helping you to bring your baby into a calm and peaceful environment.  Long gone are the days where dad sat in the corner with the telly on watching sports or reruns of Dukes of Hazard and continuously checking the clock or trying to find something useful to do.  The Birth Partner / Companion now has a very important and active role to play in this new adventure and it will prepare and empower them on the day, which will be so positive and reassuring for the birthing mum so she can stay connected within.

Many of the dads or birth partners I have taught have said at the conclusion of the classes that initially they really didn’t want to attend the classes, but having done them they really understand now what their partners are going through during their pregnancy, what changes are happening in their partners bodies, how the hormones work and what they can do to ensure the release of birthing hormones, and how they can identify if something needs to be changed so they can be of the utmost support to their partners during labour, birth and beyond.

It is a real eye opener for them – and it really motivates them to participate even more than may have already been doing.

For so many couples they realise that the classes provide that really important bonding time – they are “on the same page” – but in a physical sense rather than a paper sense.

At Hypnobirthing Australia we understand that the family dynamic today is not always comprised of “mum and dad”, there are now same sex couples having babies too and we encourage you to be a part of this modern, self-hypnosis childbirth education program as well.

My belief is that no matter how you birth, whether it is naturally, in a hospital, your home, birthing centre or by caesarean, the Hypnobirthing Australia program can help you feel calm, relaxed and prepared for the arrival of your most precious gift….your baby.  At Hypnobirthing Australia we don’t teach you that you will have a natural, pain-free birth – what we teach you is that your goal is to have a “calm, positive birth experience and to release and let go.”  We don’t set you up for any unrealistic expectations – we prepare you to meet whatever turn your birthing takes, which includes special circumstances.

You cant get that emphasis from a book.

By practicing hypnobirthing it will provide a beautiful birthing space for your baby to enter the world, one where your bonding can then also be a wondrous experience for you, your birthing companion and your baby.

Hypnobirthing-Chester-SmilingHappy Hypnobirthing bub, Chester

For more information about hypnobirthing, please contact Vicki Hobbs at the Hypnobirthing Centre WA on 9303 9111 or email info@hypnobirthingcentrewa.com.au or check our next class dates by clicking on this link – Hypnobirthing classes.

You can also read many positive Hypnobirthing Australia birth stories from mums and dads all over Australia and check out the video collection as well by visiting the main website www.hypnobirthingaustralia.com.au

Happy Hypnobirthing everyone.

Vicki Hobbs x