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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

Even dogs love being a part of the hypnobirthing classes!

Even dogs love being a part of the hypnobirthing classes!

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

And so it is……

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

Happy Hypnobirthing!

Vicki Hobbs
Certified Hypnobirthing Australia Practitioner

 

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

Preparing for birth is like preparing for a marathon.

You need to condition both your mind and your body.

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

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

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

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

psoas muscle

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

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

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

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

Optimal Foetal Position

Medical Illustration – Nucleus Medical Media

 

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

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

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

Liz Koch - Core Awareness

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

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

Susan McLaughlin - psoas release

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Hypnobirthing Story of Marek – born 10th July 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

There were lots of funny bits when we look back:

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

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

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

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

Marek - Kannika & Pavel

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

Looking forward to seeing you soon.

Kannika & Pavel

 

Stretch Marks During Pregnancy – is there a miracle cure?

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

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

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

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

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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

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

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

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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)

Pregnancy Massage – Is It Safe?

The popularity and education of prenatal massage has increased significantly over the past few decades.

In tribal cultures, prenatal and labour support massage was common.  Anthropologist George Engelmann documented these techniques in the mid 1880’s; however the first documentation of labour massage was in 15th century England.  It was common practice for midwives to use massage while the mother was in labour to make her more comfortable and to relieve pain.

tribal women

The elder women of the Nama Hottentot tribe of South Africa give massage treatments to the pregnant women of the tribe several times a week to prepare for the upcoming childbirth.  In Uganda, pregnant mothers receive massage daily in an effort to make their muscles and joints supple for an easier labour and delivery.

Women in tribal societies resume their normal everyday activities almost immediately after giving birth.  Among the natural methods used to restore strength and decrease post-partum depression in the new mum, the most important and widely accepted tradition is massage.

tribal massage

In our medically advanced society, massage can often be over-looked as an important part of pregnancy health care.  However, this tried and tested tradition is one of the oldest forms of the healing arts and has been used for thousands of years in almost every culture.

Every pregnant woman deserves some pampering and massage is a wonderful way to reduce stress and promote general wellbeing.  Massage can be received during all three trimesters of your pregnancy for both normal and high risk pregnancies.

With the exciting news that you are pregnant, your body is about to undergo stress-producing changes.  Some of the consequences of these changes can leave a woman feeling sore, tired and uncomfortable.  Massage is therefore a great way to relieve this discomfort through the positive effects of soft tissue manipulation.

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Pregnancy Massage therapy helps the body adjust to accommodate the life growing within.  It can assist in reducing stress, encourage relaxation and prepare muscles and joints for childbirth.  Not only can this be a treat for you, but a much needed therapy to ease some of the aches and pains experienced during pregnancy.

It has been claimed that during the first trimester, pregnant women should not have massage as it may cause miscarriage, however if the pregnant woman is healthy and proper guidelines for working with pregnant women are followed, then there is absolutely no medical evidence to support that a massage could harm the pregnancy or cause miscarriage.  Most times this myth is circulated by the very ones who should not be doing pregnancy massage as they are not qualified to do so.

Just recently the Australian Association of Massage Therapists (AAMT) has announced after completing their own research that pregnancy massage during the first trimester is considered safe “if undertaken by a trained pregnancy massage specialist.”

Here is a recent article about this breakthrough in pregnancy massage during the first trimester:

http://pregnancymassageaustralia.com.au/break-understanding-first-trimester-massage/

Probably the main reason for not getting massage in the first three months is more about comfort as it may trigger dizziness or increase your morning sickness – on the other hand it may eliminate these symptoms.  You won’t know until you try it and then you can let your therapist know if you start to feel uncomfortable and adjustments can be made or you can just stop the treatment.

Remember, there is no danger, just the potential to be uncomfortable.

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The most important thing to consider with pregnancy massage is using a qualified Remedial Massage Therapist who has had specialised training in pregnancy massage and knows the anatomy and physiology of a pregnant woman.  Just being a massage therapist doesn’t mean that they are qualified to give massage to pregnant and postpartum women.  Be cautious that just because a brochure offers pregnancy massage, it doesn’t always mean that they are qualified to do so.

It is essential to ask any questions or raise any concerns you may have to your therapist at any time during the treatment.  A professional pregnancy massage will always start with a minimum fifteen minute consultation prior to actually having a massage each and every time you attend.  You should be asked specific questions about the progress of your pregnancy, your current condition, your antenatal appointments and specific areas of discomfort and range of motion checks.

A trained pregnancy massage therapist will safely and effectively answer any questions you may have about having a massage during any stage of your pregnancy.  We also do not recommend the tables with the hole where the belly hangs down, as this puts so much more pressure on the sacrum, lower back and can strain the ligaments around the uterus and pelvis, not to mention your growing breasts which may be tender or uncomfortable.  Just imagine all that weight of your baby in your womb, just hanging down with the force of gravity – while your therapist is also then creating more pressure during the massage with the massage techniques (or not effectively working through this area so they don’t put more pressure there), so then your glute (bum) muscles are tensing trying to overcompensate for the pressure created in your back.  The best position during pregnancy massage is in a side-lying position, with your top leg at a 90 degree angle supported by a bolster under your leg and knees stabilising the hip joint, along with your top foot also being supported, not just hanging down at the edge of the bolster. Support cushions will also be used to stabilise your body to prevent you from rocking or rolling from side to side.

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Vicki Hobbs of Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Centre is a qualified Remedial Massage Therapist specialising in pregnancy, induction, labour and postnatal massage.

Vicki is a highly trained pregnancy massage specialist having completed the Diploma in Pregnancy Massage course in 2013 with Pregnancy Massage Australia.  This training is an advanced level of training for pregnancy massage, but also specialising in working with high risk pregnancy clients such as those with pre-eclampsia and other conditions such as pubis symphysis separation, pelvic girdle pain, lower back and hip pain, injuries and other pregnancy related dysfunctions.

She also holds a Diploma in Pregnancy Massage & Maternity Care after training in 2008 with Suzanne Yates, who is a well-known author, shiatsu practitioner, midwife and the Director of the Well Mother Centre in the UK. www.wellmother.org

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Vicki has expert knowledge and training of the anatomy and physiology of the pregnant body, stretching during pregnancy, labour position techniques and massage instruction for your partner.  She is also a Certified Birthing Assistant (Doula) and Childbirth Educator and conducts regular “Essential Birthing Journey” workshops for pregnant women.  Vicki is passionate about sharing her knowledge as a Hypnobirthing Australia Practitioner having been trained in this method earlier this year and also in the Mongan Method (originally in November 2009 and then completed a refresher in November 2012).

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In addition to this, my insurance company specifically covers me for pregnancy massage, not just remedial massage, which further ensures that all strict training criteria and guidelines have been met for your own peace of mind.

As with most therapies, there are always precautions involved with receiving treatment during pregnancy, however pregnancy massage (when performed by a trained and experienced therapist) is a safe procedure with benefits far outweighing the risks.

For your own peace of mind, you can even discuss with your medical practitioner or obstetrician of your intention to have a pregnancy massage, and they will advise you if they feel that you should not do so for whatever reason.

BENEFITS OF PREGNANCY MASSAGE

The benefits of massage in general are numerous, however more specifically for pregnancy they include:

  • Relief from muscle cramps, tension, spasms;
  • Relief from pain especially in the lower back, neck, hips and legs;
  • Reduction of stress on weight bearing joints;
  • Improvement of muscle tone;
  • Dilate the blood vessels, therefore improving blood circulation including the placenta, which brings greater nutrition to the tissues of the body and enhances waste removal;
  • The lymphatic system circulates faster and more efficiently which results in more energy and less fatigue and helps to reduce swelling;
  • May help with the reduction of varicose veins;
  • Stimulates glandular secretions which will stabilise your hormonal levels and reduce their side effects;
  • Enhancement of elasticity and pliability of skin and connective tissue (ligaments and tendons);
  • Helping with sleeplessness or insomnia;
  • Increased range of flexibility and movement and become less prone to injury;
  • Helps to calm the nerves and reduce anxiety, which is also transferred to your baby to help them feel more relaxed and soothed;
  • Prepares the muscles and tissues used during labour and birth.

Many of the problems that arise during pregnancy are due to muscle strain, weakness and poor posture.  Proper exercise and appropriate stretching will increase your energy, strengthen the muscles most strained during pregnancy and labour, stimulate circulation and increase flexibility in the joints.

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Here is a great testimonial from one of our regular pregnancy massage clients:

“I would recommend Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Centre to anybody.  I first heard about them in an advertisement in the local magazine Offspring.  I was 24 weeks pregnant, working 25-35 hours a week in a busy café and was starting to feel a little tense in my lower back.  I decided to treat myself to a massage but I was a little nervous about having a massage while pregnant so I did some reading on the internet and Facebook which helped me to make a decision.

Vicki and Sarah are very professional and welcoming and I felt comfortable in their abilities almost instantly.  The bodyCushion that they use is so comfortable and supportive.  Pregnancy massage was such a great way for me to relax (body and mind) before the arrival of my baby. I continued to work right up to 36 weeks (3 weeks before baby was born) having a massage every 2 weeks or so definitely helped me stay very active during my pregnancy especially towards the end. I look forward to going back for a massage without my big belly!

Thank you Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Centre”
Laura

MORE INFORMATION

For more information or to book a pregnancy massage contact Vicki Hobbs of Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Centre, which is now located from my lovely home in Landsdale (the northern suburbs of Perth).

My details are (08) 9303 9111 or check the website www.phoenixtherapies.com.au

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Pregnancy Massage and PreEclampsia

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Nearly 75 of pregnant women experience swelling during the last trimester of their pregnancy and most of the time it is relieved by good posture, massage, staying cool, elevation of legs and rest.  However, when something like pre-eclampsia develops, severe swelling or ”pitting oedema” is merely one symptom of sometimes a more serious condition known as pre-eclampsia.

Pre-eclampsia affects 2 in every 100 pregnant women.  This is a severe type of high blood pressure, where the only known cure is to deliver the baby. Until now, the only way to diagnose pre-eclampsia has been to check for high blood pressure and to measure the level of protein in the urine but both tests can be unreliable, meaning the condition can be both missed or misdiagnosed with babies being delivered prematurely for no reason.  Until now doctors have also had no way of telling how severe the condition was for each individual woman.

In the UK there is now a blood test which gives an accurate result in just 15 minutes, by measuring the level of Placental Growth Factor (PIGF) in the blood.  Those that show a very low PIGF level have severe pre-eclampsia and will be admitted to hospital for birth, and those with a high level PIGF are unlikely to have a severe form of the condition, regardless of any other symptoms present, and therefore can carry their baby to full term.  Having enquired about this blood test to King Edward Memorial Hospital recently a spokesperson confirmed that this test is not available in WA at the moment, however steps are being taken to be able to perform this blood test in the near future.

Generally speaking, the fluid retention that causes mild swelling the last few weeks in pregnancy is a normal defense mechanism against blood loss during childbirth. Your body will be able to quickly replace lost fluids and begin breastfeeding at the same time, with these fluid stores in place.

Pregnant women experience dilation in the blood vessels, especially in the lower extremities, and “pooling” of blood, which causes oedema (swelling).  The best way to deal with excess fluid is not to restrict it, but to mobilize it. Keep it from staying in areas that cause the most discomfort, such as in the legs, feet, fingers and abdomen. Assisting the kidney function is one way of doing this. Rest and fluids are the two best ways to help the kidneys rid themselves of excess fluid.

So, what are the differences between normal and pitting oedema?

  • Normal Swelling in Pregnancy: Normal swelling is usually limited to the feet, ankles and lower legs but can also affect the wrists, hands and fingers. It generally gets worse after long periods of standing or sitting upright (like driving a long distance or flying).  Normal swelling usually decreases after resting, especially resting with your feet raised and whilst sleeping overnight.  Also, normal swelling will not usually leave a pitting oedema mark in the skin.
  • Pitting Oedema in Pregnancy: A major sign of pitting oedema is when you depress the skin and it does not go back to normal within a few seconds – it stays indented.  This basically means that if pressure is applied to an area of oedema with the finger or thumb for 20-30 seconds and then removed, the area being compressed will have a ‘pit’ or hollow in it which can be both seen and felt easily and does not subside within 30 seconds. Oedema will be obvious both to the sufferer and to those around her.  A very good example of this was when a pregnant woman placed a 20c piece on her lower leg and left it for 30 seconds and when she took it off she was able to see the imprint of the design of the coin on her leg clearly for several minutes.  This is definitely cause for concern and should be checked out immediately.
Notice the difference between normal and pitting oedema - when you depress the area it stays indented.

Notice the difference between normal and pitting oedema – when you depress the area it stays indented.

Severe headaches and visual disturbances (flashes or blurry vision), pain in the upper right abdominal area under the ribcage or right shoulder are also warning signs that you should contact your doctor or midwife immediately.  Another warning symptom of serious swelling during pregnancy is swelling that extends above the feet and legs; particularly if you find your face or arms are swelling contact your health care provider.

If this is the case, then pregnancy massage is highly contraindicated, which means that massage must not be performed until the client has been to her health care provider to be tested for the onset of pre-eclampsia or any other serious condition such as a deep vein thrombosis (DVT).  This is why it is so very important for women to go to qualified pregnancy massage therapists who have been specially trained to identify conditions that are contraindicated for massage particularly this one.

I’ve had a real interest in working with women who are diagnosed with pre-eclampsia.  I have had first hand experience of dealing with pre-eclampsia that quickly went on to become eclampsia and toxemia. This was not diagnosed even though during all my prenatal visits I had high levels of protein and high blood pressure, which I had never suffered prior to pregnancy. The swelling in my feet and legs was incredibly noticeable, (I went up two shoes sizes and still they were tight) however I was being told that swelling was normal during pregnancy and I shouldn’t be concerned. It wasn’t until I passed out going up the stairs at the shopping centre that it suddenly became a serious concern. I was rushed to King Edward Memorial Hospital and had an emergency caesarean at 32 weeks. I was then transferred to intensive care and closely monitored with my blood pressure at 160/100 and my baby girl Hannah was taken to the Special Care Nursery.

For 48 hours we were separated – I was just too sick to visit her and all I had was a polaroid photo that one of the midwives had kindly taken for me.

Special Care Nursery - Hannah born at 32 weeks weighing 4lb 8oz

Special Care Nursery – Hannah born at 32 weeks weighing 4lb 8oz

In milder cases of pre-eclampsia pregnancy massage would be beneficial for the woman’s well-being and obviously the baby as well, however the massage is quite different to your usual massage.

Lymphatic massage of arms and legs will reduce oedema by forcing the excess toxins into the excretory system to be eliminated.  However, if the pre-eclampsia is severe, massage would in fact add more strain on the kidneys.  Protein in the urine is already a sign that the kidneys are struggling to process the wastes.

Seeing Hannah for the first time 48 hours after birth. My legs and feet still very swollen and I couldn't walk.

Seeing Hannah for the first time 48 hours after birth. My legs and feet still very swollen and I couldn’t walk.

Recently we had a client who came for pregnancy massage who we referred back to her health care provider before we could do the massage, and it was found that she did in fact have pre-eclampsia bordering on eclampsia.  What this means is that her kidneys are already over functioning to try and remove toxic waste from the body, therefore having massage would have put even more strain on the kidneys and could have had a really negative effect on her wellbeing.

Only a fully qualified pregnancy massage specialist can provide massage to a client with pre-eclampsia, as this is a very specific type of massage and can have huge benefits to the mum if done correctly.

Vicki Hobbs of Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Centre is trained and qualified through Pregnancy Massage Australia to perform this type of massage and can be contacted on (08) 9303 9111.

For more information about the signs and symptoms of pre-eclampsia go to the Pre-eclampsia Foundation
http://www.preeclampsia.org/health-information/sign-symptoms

Hypnobirthing – What is it?

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

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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.

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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