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 got me through an affair, marriage breakdown, divorce, death and more? These techniques are so simple you won’t believe it….

Sometimes our lives can be so full on that everything seems stressful, when just a few simple techniques can provide a very effective way of releasing stress and learning the art of relaxation.

Everything from work, family life, children, partners, day to day hassles, finances, life events and noise can produce stressors that cause many changes inside our minds and bodies and everyone handles stress and anxiety in different ways.

zebra

What some feel as mild stress in others can seem extreme – we are all different, we are all individuals with our own set of thought patterns, beliefs and responses.

What gives us the motivation to change our current situation?

My professional career started out relatively calm, and then I moved into executive roles where I had a lot of responsibility, deadlines, long hours and the crème de la crème….working with difficult and demanding people. Then I went on to work for “not for profit” where I was working with an organisation that was striving hard to raise money so seriously ill and dying children and their families could have a wish to brighten their lives a little.

Then throw in a couple of deaths, traumatic pregnancy, several miscarriages motherhood, my husband having an affair resulting in marriage breakdown and divorce and the heavy burden of loss, grief and soon my stress was undeniable.  

Why was I dealt this shitty hand?

What had I done to deserve so much pain, anguish and stress?

My life seemed to be spiralling out of control like one of those twirly wind chimes, spinning faster and faster as it gained momentum.

spiral windchime

I forgot about the art of relaxation. 

Is there such a beautiful piece of artwork?

A tapestry of woven magic that consoles and heals.

A paintbrush that can gloss over our stress with long soothing strokes.

Or gentle hands that mould the hard clay into a soft, smooth workable sculpture.

My love of the mind and body connection then set me on a pathway of healing to find my art of relaxation. 

I always had an interest in essential oils as my nanna taught me from a very young age a lot about different plants and their healing properties.

I then trained in massage, aromatherapy, hypnosis, meditation, stress management, life coaching and I suddenly realised that I had had to experience all those difficult times and different levels of stress to know what to do with it and how to help other people.  I was also give the opportunity to train as a “Heal Your Life” workshop facilitator based on the philosophies of Louise Hay and that was one of the most positive life changing events I was blessed to participate in.

Over the last 20 years my life has taken many twists and turns – too many to share in this article.  Recently though I had the doors of my beautiful wellness clinic closed as I couldn’t pay the rent – the last 12 months have been incredibly stressful having to deal with shopping centre politics, the exorbitant increase in rents and outgoings, staff and contractors and the everyday stresses of running a business and the “noise” – however if I didn’t use some of the techniques that I have learned along the way that I teach to others, I probably would be far worse off mentally, physically and emotionally than I am right now.

However, like always I do see a light at the end of the tunnel (or rather a neon flashing beacon) and as one door closes another one then opens and with it is the dawning and realisation that I actually got what I wanted.  The mist of the clouds were swept away from my head and now I am making new choices and stressing less.

It makes me think back to a unique piece of artwork that I picked up while travelling through Europe by Salvador Dali called “Dali’s Hand Drawing Back The Golden Fleece In The Form of a Cloud To Show Gala the Naked Dawn Far Away Behind The Sun.” (1977)

Salvador Dali

Now I have released and let go all anger, guilt and stress surrounding the closure of my beautiful clinic, and I realise I wanted those doors to close so that I could go back to basics and do the things that I loved doing before I opened those doors.  I want to spend more time and energy with the women who come to me and I want to feel that connection once again.

I wanted to find my “paintbrush” once again.

I wanted to just BE with the person I am working with in a healing capacity.

AND, I really do miss just BEING with the person I am working with – sharing their energy, their light source, their connection – and I realise that somehow my little clinic had drained that away from me.

The Universe blocked all attempts I made to keep those doors open.

My motivation for keeping the doors open was more about not wanting to hurt others, but in the meantime it was hurting me.

Live Your Dreams created by Sofan Chan

Live Your Dreams created by Sofan Chan

I am now practising what I preach…I am walking the walk that I talk.

I am being authentic.

My energy and motivation has increased.

I feel lighter yet stronger.

My mind is active again in a positive way.

I am meditating more and blaming less.

I am releasing and letting go.

I am honouring forgiveness.

I am visualising more and using positive affirmations again.

I am managing my time in a more efficient way.

I am saying no to things that do not serve me well.

Sacred Moment, Sofan Chan

Sacred Moment
Sofan Chan

I am connecting with those that I am working with in my little treatment room at home, where I feel safe, comfortable and free.

And the chatter in my mind is quiet.

That quiet is the releasing of my stress.

The “noise” is gone.

I acknowledge the stress and I am setting it free.

I have found my paintbrush, my tapestry, my clay.

Carpe Diem is my endless canvas.

My relaxation and stress releasing techniques have helped me once again to “seize the day.”

Life loves me as I am worth loving!

Whatever is going on in your mind, is affecting your body.

Do you want to find your paintbrush, your tapestry or your slab of clay?

Join me at my Carpe Diem Nurturing Workshop.

Together, we will find your Art of Relaxation and enjoy a day of soul-nourishing enrichment that will stay with you for a lifetime.

Hd-Ocean-Backgrounds-4-561x376

For more information click on the link:-

http://phoenixtherapies.com.au/wellness-centre/workshops/carpe-diem-workshop/

If you would like more specific information or you have questions about this workshop or anything else you can email me directly Vicki@phoenixtherapies.com.au

Carpe Diem….

 

Vicki Hobbs
Phoenix Therapies Transformational Workshops
Phone: (08) 9303 9111

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.

10606283_10152507777821298_6826695059848245337_n

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

 

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

 

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

 

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.

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

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

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

It is all about “Birth Without Fear.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Vicki Hobbs
Owner / Operator

Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Centre
www.phoenixtherapies.com.au

Hypnobirthing Centre WA
www.hypnobirthingcentrewa.com.au