Vaginal tearing is a very common fear among women. In this interview, Alexia chats to a midwife, Angela Frans, about how you can avoid vaginal tearing; what you can do during your birth prep and what you can do during labour.
Fearless Birthing is a new approach to birth preparation that blends a number of techniques, but at its core it uses a derivative of Reflective Repatterning, an Energy Psychology technique.
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The entire focus of the approach is to clear birthing fears so that mum is no longer distracted by troubling mental and emotional thoughts in the lead up to birth and during birth. This enables her to remain present and mindful, and importantly completely in her birthing zone and fully connected to her body and baby. Crucially, if things go off plan during birth, then this kind of emotional preparation will also help her to respond calmly and flexibly which increases her chances of her feeling positively about her birth.
Being fearful means that we need to arm ourselves with coping mechanisms to help us handle what’s happening to us. When we remove the fears, we remove the need for so many coping mechanisms.
What’s involved in Fearless Birthing?
It’s quite simple really and it goes like this.
Identify your fears
Clear each one in turn
Now some of our fears are pretty easy to clear with many being allayed simply by educating ourselves around birth and how our body supports us in birthing our baby. Listening to the experts on this podcast share their wisdom around birth is a great place to start. But some fears are deeper and these need more focussed action to clear them. That’s where the fear clearance technique comes in.
In doing the fear clearance work, you become confident in using the technique which means that if you need to use it during labour or birth you can. I used it during the crowning phase at my first birth because I was fearful of the ring of fire, I had been through 2 contractions already and the midwife said that if my baby didn’t come out on the next one, we would need to go to hospital because my baby needed to come out. In that moment I knew I was scared and I realised that it was the fear of pain from the ring of fire that scared me. So before the next contraction I cleared my fear of pain from the ring of fire. During the next contraction my baby came out and she was born.
How does Fearless Birthing differ to hypnobirthing?
First of all I think it’s important for us to agree on what we mean by hypnobirthing. At its simplest, it is the use of hypnotherapy or self hypnosis to have a positive birth experience. Since it was originally conceived, it has evolved and is now widely accepted as being a holistic approach to birth preparation which INCLUDES self hypnosis for relaxation and fear release, but also includes birth education, partner involvement, breathing techniques and positive affirmations.
The crucial difference to hypnobirthing is the method used for the fear release or the fear clearance. Fearless Birthing does not use hypnosis or hypnotherapy but uses a derivative of Reflective Repatterning, which has a more focused clearance action that works much deeper. It works deeper because it clears fears from mind AND body, whereas hypnosis, works primarily on the mind. The reason it is able to clear from body too is that it works using our energy system – which is the interface between mind and body. When you clear using the energy system, you clear from mind AND body. This is very important for birth, because our body is a massive part of what’s involved.
Let me try to explain.
When you experience fear, you experience it in your mind, but also in your body. You might notice tension, a racy heart-beat, fast breathing, sickness in stomach… any number of feelings and we are all different so it’s very unique. I remember when I was fearful around birth, my legs would tighten with tension in my thighs and I’d cross my legs, tight!. You can imagine how that might impact by birthing body, if my fear of childbirth hadn’t been cleared before birth; one word = PAIN!
When Lisa shared her story, she said that she didn’t get on with hypnobirthing and that it annoyed her.. I probed her a bit on this after my chat and she was happy for me to share what she said.
Essentially she feels that hypnobirthing tries to avoid or deny some aspects of birth by renaming things, or using positive thinking, rather than be honest and embrace all aspects of birth as they are.
One thing that Lisa alluded to as well was that she felt that hypnobirthing tries to use positive psychology in a way that doesn’t feel honest, at least it didn’t for her. For example, it’s often mentioned that we should avoid the words contractions or pain. As a result of the more direct approach of Fearless Birthing, there is no need for us to ask others to change their language around birth, because we’ve changed how we’re responding to the language so it’s no longer troublesome for us.
If you’re scared of pain, then any mention of the word pain will probably trigger that fear for you. Once you’re no longer scared of it, hearing it doesn’t affect you in the same way.
That is not to say that there isn’t a lot we can learn from the principles of hypnobirthing. A lot of women go into birth with these fears so it can be really helpful for any birthing professionals present such as doulas and midwives to be mindful of their language in the presence of birthing women, then this can help mama massively. But I’m talking about how we as a pregnant mamas can help to take charge of our birth experience. And we don’t take charge by asking everyone around us to change… we take charge by taking responsibility and changing things within ourselves, changing how WE respond to what’s happening around us. Getting everyone else to do things our way can be super stressful and a lot of work – much easier to change yourself. THAT is what I mean by claiming your positive birth experience.
Fearless Birthing Meditations
During my chat with Lisa she talks about the audios I sent her. These audios are basically me going through the fear clearance process and just recording it. It’s what I do when I work with my clients, and what I did to clear my own fears. If you follow the fear clearance process, it’s exactly the same. I identified the fears and then cleared them one by one and recorded myself doing it. So some of fears I tackle include
loss of dignity
being exposed and therefore vulnerable
weeing and pooing all over the place
So whether you clear your fears yourself, have someone do it for you, or listen to a Fearless Birthing meditation, the results are the same. You can hear Lisa talking about listening to these meditations and how they helped her during birth – especially when it came to pushing.
When it comes to birth, dads are often left out in the cold. I mean this metaphorically and in reality. During pregnancy, a lot of the focus is on the mum. Dad is often neglected from appointments during pregnancy and a lot of the communications directed towards pregnant couples are actually for mum. Poor dads aren’t really being spoken to in all of this. And yet, they should be. There should be more information available on how to prepare dads for childbirth.. but where is it? Even if you put a simple google search how to prepare dads for childbirth you’ll only get a handful of articles show up. It’s a shocking state of affairs!
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The thing is, Dads-to-be are known to experience pregnancy symptoms alongside their partner and they also experience the hormonal changes. Their lack of knowledge around birth can lead to them experiencing a lot of fear too. Coupled with the fact that childbirth is an inherently female event, can make it terribly alienating for them. They too are about to become a parent. The thing is, dads are the best person to support mum throughout pregnancy and birth, and yet very little is being done to support them. One of my previous podcast guests is on a one-man mission to change all this. Mark Harris, who’s the man behind Birthing for Blokes, has just released a book, Men, Love and Birth and is working tirelessly to help prepare men for birth.
Well, on today’s podcast I’ve got a guest who’s also throwing her weight behind supporting dads in birth. Today, I’m chatting to Rachel Gardner, founder of Doula Daddy. Rachel believes that dads are the perfect birthing companion and that all they need is some loving support to help guide them. Once they are equipped with the knowledge and practical tips, they can be amazing birth partners.
Rachel is a highly experienced hypnobirthing teacher and doula, who has taught over 250 couples and attended 44 births. Rachel is Lead of Sheffield Maternity Services Liaison Committee and is currently working with midwives at Jessops on an exciting research project. Rachel’s great passion together with supporting couples (which includes dads as well as mums!) in pregnancy and birth, is supporting and protecting maternal mental health. Rachel lectures on this subject at Midwifery conferences and is currently helping Sheffield Public Health in this area.
After years of teaching Hypnobirthing, Rachel was asked to attend a couple of births and enjoyed this so much she decided to train to be a doula. In the course of this training she was dismayed to find that the Doula’s in training were encouraged to give Dads little jobs to keep them busy “and out of the way”. This went against everything Rachel wanted for Dads at births and also for the Mothers.
Rachel is a fierce believer in the role of the Father and Birth Partner at a birth. Rachel has long said that the difference between a good hypnobirth and an exceptional one is the Daddy/birth partner.
In today’s episode, Rachel shares how she works with couples on how to prepare dads for childbirth. Rachel believes that midwives are the expert on birth, the mother is the expert on her body and her partner is the expert on her, and that mummy and daddy are the experts on their own birth.
Some of the advice she has for dads which she shares includes;
If you have positive thoughts about your partner during birth – share those with her, rather than keeping them to yourself.
Shower her with love and affection… this does wonders for stimulating oxytocin during birth which helps keep labour moving
Touch is super important: stroking, handholding, touching, kisses. Make sure there is that physical contact and support for mum ALL the time
Pack some facecloths in dads bag so that you can run them under cold water to help cool mum down during birth if she needs it
Have some bendy straws handy so that mum can have a drink
Don’t wait for mum to ask for something that you think she might need during birth – like a drink or a snack – just give it to her!
How to prepare dads for childbirth
Here’s some of Rachel’s advice to help dads prepare for childbirth…
Help them know their role and what is expected of them; they are the expert on mum
Have lots of communication before hand with mum so that you can both discuss how you want things to go
Help to educate them on the birthing process so that they know what to expect birth wise so they are not surprised
Be clear on what TO DO and what NOT TO DO. Mums need to super clear with what they want from their partner during the birth and not think “well, it goes without saying..” No it doesn’t – TELL HIM!
Have an awareness of how important the love bubble is during birth
During our chat, Rachel shares a fabulous exercise that couples can do to help build a strong bond between them in the lead up to birth – she calls it the Gratitude Exercise. If you would like to get hold of this exercise, then it’s available as part of the download to go with this week’s episode. Rachel is also giving away a Birth Packing List for dads. This contains all the things that mums might not have considered that dads can have to hand to help mum on the day. To get hold of these two goodies, just visit the resources section.
Are you facing intense pressure to induce? Well I hope that today’s podcast will help!
This time last year I was 11 days over my due date so I was never more than a few hours away from hearing the word “induction”. Being an older mum also put my in the high risk category, so I was under some pretty intense pressure to induce from my consultants too. This experienced forced me to educate myself on various aspects of induction; the risks of induction versus the risks of waiting, especially if you’re high risk or an older mum. I was committed to having a natural home birth so it was important for me to be able to stand my ground with confidence against this pressure to induce knowing that I wasn’t putting myself and my baby at risk.
How to cope in the face of pressure to induce
So, I thought it would be good time to explore the whole induction thing in a podcast. Most pregnant mamas are going to have to wrestle with this one and it can be pretty stressful, especially if you just don’t know what to do.
When you’ve been so focussed on your due date for so long, and it comes and goes, it can be really tempting to to just go with whatever your consultant or midwife is suggesting. Perhaps it’s because you trust them, you believe that they have your best interests at heart, you’re worried about your baby or maybe you’re just fed up already with being pregnant and just want to meet your baby. Whatever it is, the one thing that I would urge you to do is BE INFORMED and make your decision from a calm informed place, rather than a fearful place.
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I hope that today’s podcast episode will bring you nearer to being in the informed, calm place. To help me, today I’m going to be chatting to Patti Good.
Patti Good is an empowerment expert for powerful women. Her mission is to help women transform their fear into power, their baggage into blessings and live a life of renewed health and inspired joy! She is a Senior Accredited Journey Therapist, a HypnoBirthing Practitioner and Practitioner Trainer, a Certified BodyTalk Practitioner, Doula and Training Reiki Master. Patti is mom to darling Max who is 6. She loves chocolate, spending time snuggled up in her marshmallow bed and helping women take their power back makes her want to skip!
During our chat, we talk about loads, including…
Patti explains about how our muscles in the uterus work, and how one is dependent on mum’s stress levels and another isn’t…. and WHY it’s important to get these working together efficiently… but importantly HOW!
We talk about due dates – AGAIN! And why it’s important to be working toward a due date that you have more confidence in. Here’s my Due Date Cheat Sheet if you haven’t got it already. Use this to calculate your due date based on calculation methods that are based on research. If you want to know more about the farce that is the due date calculation method then check out this podcast episode here. Patti shares some of her top tips for staying in a great place mentally in the due date drop zone so that you can better handle the pressure to be induced situation. Just grab the free download for today’s episode right here where you’ll also get details of Patti’s FREE relaxation audio that you can use to stay nice and calm. To get hold of it just visit the resources section.
We also talk about the importance of fear release and letting go of your fears.. after all it could be your mind and body that is stopping baby from coming out. When you’re fearful, your fears reside in your mind AND your body which is why it’s so important to do the fear clearance work. We talk about why the energy psychology techniques are the best techniques for this kind of clearance work. Some of the techniques we mention include Reflective Repatterning, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and Body Talk.
A talk about inductions wouldn’t be complete without mentioning monitoring so if this is what you’re having to deal with, then we share some ways that you can minimise the stressfulness of being monitored
Patti shares some things that you can do to kick start labour.. including why acupuncture is her favourite.
It’s a jam packed episode and I hope you find it useful.
Are you due any day? Then this is for you! This post is inspired by and dedicated to Alia, one of my podcast listeners. I decided to touch base with Alia as I knew she was due around now and she replied to let me know that I was emailing her ON HER DUE DATE! Her little mister still hadn’t made an appearance but that she was feeling great and looking forward to the birth. When I was replying to her, I immediately thought of lots of things I wanted to say to her, but it was late and I was supposed to be turning the light out and going to sleep, so I kept it short. But in the morning, I thought that I’d still like to share some words with her and then it hit me.. why not turn it into a podcast?! I’m sure there there are other mamas who are due any day might appreciate hearing these words too. So that is where today’s podcast has come from.
Here are the 4 things that I want to say to you if you’re due any day
1. Be patient
I know this bit can be really hard. We can’t help it, we have a due date in our heads and we focus on it waiting for it to arrive. It symbolises such a momentous event; the actual birth, meeting our little one, becoming a mother..again maybe, saying goodbye to our old life, welcoming the new… This is BIG! and yet, we don’t know exactly when it’s going to unfold. Towards the end, you can feel pretty fed with the whole pregnancy thing and you just want it to end. The trick here is be mindful and stay in the present. Easier than it sounds I know! But if you focus on anything other than the here and now
2. Create a bubble of positive calmness for yourself
Try to start disconnected from the real world.. social media, TV and start going within. This calmness before the storm won’t last long so claim it while you can. This is when we reap the benefits of telling people a due month, or adding a couple of weeks to the due date that you share with people because you probably won’t be getting all those texts and FB messages asking for updates yet. You can read more about my view on due dates here.
3. Connect & talk to your baby
Some people find this hard, but it’s actually very simple. Find a quiet spot for you to be undisturbed…maybe sitting under a tree at the park, on a lounger in the garden, or just at home on a load of cushions. Once you’re comfy, just start to feel your baby through your belly. Maybe push down a bit to let them know you’d like to chat. And then, just start talking! You can do this in your head if you want, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is the intention and the feeling that lies behind what you’re saying.
Here are some of the things that I was saying to my little one while I was waiting for her
How are you?
I’m really looking forward to meet you!
Are you ready to come out?
I’d just like to share with you how I’d like our birth to go…
you, me and my body know exactly how to do this so it should all be fine.
I totally trust you and my body to be able to bring you out safely and smoothly
I know that the best thing for me to do is to step aside and let you two run the show.. but I’ll be there if you need me to… you know that right?
It’s going to be painless for both of us… so there’s no need to worry. I’m saying that for my benefit too by the way!
We’re going to enjoy it… it’s exciting! I bet you’re excited… I am!
Daddy CAN NOT WAIT to meet you! He’s going to be the first person that you touch.. how’s that for a welcome!
We’re going to be able to look back on your arrival with joy and happiness
Now, I’ve heard that second births are half as long as first births, so this means that you might show up in 3 hours. I’m totally cool with that. In fact, a short birth would be nice. So, how about we wrap this whole thing up in 3 hours? Yep? I’m up for that if you are. There’s no point dragging this thing out.. You know what you’re doing and my body knows what it’s doing. As long as I get out the way this shouldn’t be a problem. Yep? Cool.
Keep moving! It doesn’t have to be massively exhausting and energetic. Even if you’re sitting around on your swiss ball gyrating and having a bounce to some music. I remember listening to 2 rounds of Nemone’s Electric Ladyland’s show while in a hypnotic trance on the day before baby arrived… just bouncing, swaying and getting up every now and then for a dance. Looking back that was 6 hours worth! I just flew by!
Maybe go for walks, or do some yoga…. just something to connect to your body. You’re going to be working as a team soon, create that connection as best you can.
And finally, just remember this.
You’ve got this! Remember to trust that your body KNOWS what to do. Your body is MADE for doing this. It will not let you down.. as long as you trust in the process and surrender to it.
Finding out about Hypnobirthing can be a real turning point for pregnant women. It’s a bit like the best kept secret in the world. And if you’re lucky, in your pregnancy you might stumble across someone who knows about it and tells you all about it. I found out about Hypnobirthing during my first pregnancy at the end of my first trimester and it stopped me in my tracks. Pain-free? No drugs? Really?! I haad my heart set on a hyper medicalised, drugged-up labour up until that point because I thought that was how birth was. I never realised that it could be any different. So when I discovered Hypnobirthing I dived right into it to find out everything I could. It was the trigger for my own birthing education, and to be honest, that in itself can help to quash many childbirth fears just on its own.
I never went on to adopt hypnosis during my first birth though, as I began to develop my own approach, Fearless Birthing So I figured that for this podcast episode, it was best to get a Hypnobirthing professional on the show to explain exactly what it is.
My guest today is Dr Eva Detko PhD. I met Dr Eva through her podcast, the Holistic Path to Health Podcast. She has extensive expertise in the field of human physiology, psychology, biochemistry and nutritional sciences. Over the last 15 years, Dr Eva has successfully supported clients with anxiety, depression, weight problems, chronic pain, compromised immune function, as well as digestive, skin and cardiovascular conditions. In addition, as a Hypnobirthing Teacher, Dr Eva helps couples turn the birth of their child into an empowering and positive experience. Understanding of the physiological, psychological and emotional aspects of birth, combined with self-hypnosis, relaxation, breathing and massage techniques, enables parents to experience birth in an atmosphere of peace and calm, free of fear and tension.
One thing that Dr Eva is very clear on is that Hypnobirthing is very much a holistic approach that also includes a lot of birth education, breathing techniques and mindfulness.
During our chat, Dr Eva also sheds light on the impact that a traumatic birth can have on baby and how that might manifest as an adult, as this is something she encounters a lot in her work as a Clinical Hypnotherapist. But she also shares her own personal story how her own traumatic birth affected her life until she was able to confront it and move through it. Fascinating! But especially worth bearing in mind when you plan your birth. Dr Eva shares how c-sections and use of interventions can affect the outcome of birth and how this might then affect baby’s mental wellbeing.
Dr Eva promised to share some hypnobirthing videos.. well here they are!
If you would like to find out more about Dr Eva’s work visit her website: www.dr-eva.com.
Have you used hypnobirthing? If so how did you find it? Did you do a course? Read a book? Share your hypnobirthing experiences below in the comments!