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Education
Kids & Family
Self-Improvement

Fear Free Childbirth Podcast with Alexia Leachman

Updated 3 days ago

Education
Kids & Family
Self-Improvement
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Taking The Fear Out Of Birth

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Taking The Fear Out Of Birth

iTunes Ratings

57 Ratings
Average Ratings
37
6
1
2
11

Disturbing

By Rosieblowsie - Apr 19 2019
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This podcast features incredibly sexist and outdated ideas backed up without science. Example: “most of morning sickness is brought on by mothers not connecting with their babies in the first 12 weeks” And that c section babies will need more assistance as adults and need to be bailed out of situations? the blame placed on mothers in these episodes is astounding.

Great resource

By kristynbrooke - Mar 20 2016
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This podcast gave me so much confidence in the upcoming birth of my first baby.

iTunes Ratings

57 Ratings
Average Ratings
37
6
1
2
11

Disturbing

By Rosieblowsie - Apr 19 2019
Read more
This podcast features incredibly sexist and outdated ideas backed up without science. Example: “most of morning sickness is brought on by mothers not connecting with their babies in the first 12 weeks” And that c section babies will need more assistance as adults and need to be bailed out of situations? the blame placed on mothers in these episodes is astounding.

Great resource

By kristynbrooke - Mar 20 2016
Read more
This podcast gave me so much confidence in the upcoming birth of my first baby.

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Cover image of Fear Free Childbirth Podcast with Alexia Leachman

Fear Free Childbirth Podcast with Alexia Leachman

Updated 3 days ago

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Taking The Fear Out Of Birth

Essential Steps of Birth Preparation

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Birth preparation is a huge part of preparing for a positive birth. Lots of women don’t appreciate why doing birth preparation is so important with many leaving it last minute. The truth is if you want to stack the odds in your favour when it comes to having a positive birth experience, birth preparation is essential.

The thing is, birth preparation can seem like this huge overwhelming task, so it’s understandable that many shy away from it or procrastinate. To help you I’m going to talk you through what I believe are some of the most important elements of your birth preparation.

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Why birth preparation is important

Preparing for your birth means that you’re saying no to the “winging it” birth plan. For the record, “winging it” or “going with the flow” is NOT recommended and is more likely to lead to a difficult birth;

  • Your labour is more likely to be longer
  • Increased chances of experiencing a painful labour
  • You’re more likely to have a medicalised labour
  • Increased chances of ending up with an emergency C-Section

I don’t know about you, but they are good enough reasons for me!

To receive my 9 Steps to a Fearless Birth just pop your details below and I will send you everything you need to know via email.

Essential Steps of Birth Preparation

So, in no particular order, here are some of the important steps that I think you need to include in your birth preparation.

Get clear on what you want

How can you prepare if you don’t know what you want? So this bit is super important. Think about what you DO want and what you DON’T want when it comes to your birth.

  • Where do you feel the safest? Home or hospital? Birth centre? Maternity-led unit?
  • How do you feel about medical staff? Do they scare you or make you feel safe?
  • Are you considered high risk? If so, what does this mean in terms of your birth? Does your current health have any implications for your birth? If so, what?
  • What birth assistance would you like? Birth pool? Pain relief? Space to move around? Home comforts? And, where is that most easily available?
  • What’s the birth you DON’T want? Why? What is it about that that you don’t like/want? If this ended up being your birth how would that make you feel?

Get savvy

If you’re going to prepare for something, then it’s important to know what you’re preparing for so that you improve your chances of getting it. This means going all crazy on the details. So even though you might have things clear in your head in terms of what you want – you still need to plan for various eventualities.

With birth, nothing is guaranteed, which is why it’s also worth preparing for plan B and maybe even plan C.

The reason why I want you to prepare for the birth you don’t want is so that you do your homework on it. This does two things;

  1. it helps you to understand it better as a birth option, and crucially,
  2. this helps to reduce the fear you might have of it. After all, there’s a reason you don’t want it, right?

Having a load of negative emotion around your plan B will not be very helpful for you on the day if your birth ends up going that way. Being prepared means that you will be able to change tack without getting all stressy on the day, which would be no good for the hormonal cocktail that keeps labour moving.

So you see; being clear AND savvy on both birth options is important work! Start seeking out the information you need that will support your birth choices.

Who do you want at your birth? Your partner? Your mother? Friends? Doula? Photographer? Are they are fully briefed and “on the same page” as you?

Pain relief: do you know your options and consequences of their use? How do you feel about accepting pain relief? Does this carry emotional weight? What pain management strategies would you like to adopt?

What methods would you consider to induce labour if required? At what point would you accept an induction? Do you know which methods you’d accept?

What are your fears?

Now that you’re clearer and a bit more savvy about this whole birth lark, you’re in a much better position to tune into any fears you have. My experience tells me that fears around pregnancy and birth usually fall into one of two categories;

  1. Fear of the unknown – “I’ve never been through this before and I have no idea what to expect”
  2. Deep-rooted fears – “I’ve read all the birth books but I’m still completely terrified of the thought of x”

Maybe you don’t have any. Early on in pregnancies, this is possible but it may well be because you’re not fully aware of them yet. If you’re feeling confident and excited, that’s brilliant. But don’t make the mistake of denying that you have any fears or pretending that you don’t have any.

Be open to explore this as soon as possible. If you dig for them and don’t find any, then even better. But the last thing you want is for them to pop up in the weeks before you’re due because then you’ll have nearly no time to sort them out.

Perhaps you started with some fears, but now that you’re a bit more savvy, you’re feeling less fearful. Or maybe not! Whichever it is, it’s important to give this some focus so that you put some effort into sorting this out.

Going into your birth with fear is not a good thing because fear has a direct physiological impact on your birthing body;

  • Fear will slow labour down, if not stop it altogether, due to the effect it has on your hormones
  • Fear can increase the likelihood of you experiencing pain, and/or increase any sensations of pain you have
  • Increases likelihood of an instrumental delivery or c-section

As you think about your birth, what fears are you aware of? When you tune into your fears, do they feel strong? Do you notice them in your body?

What is contributing to your fear? Friends or family sharing stories? Things you’ve read?  

Boost your birth confidence

There are always two sides to everything. I talked about fears, well the flip side to that is confidence. They both affect each other; the more you have of one, the less you have of the other, so we’re going to help you to tip the balance and stack the odds in your favour.

Find ways that you can boost your birth confidence. No matter how you feel about birth, feeling even MORE confident about it can only help.

Your level of confidence going into your birth is crucial, so finding ways to boost your birth confidence is an important step. This will differ for everyone but might include things like;

  • Start listening to positive birth stories
  • Stop listening to the scary ones
  • Listen to the Fear Free Childbirth Podcast! Or indeed other podcasts 😉
  • Seek out positive and balanced sources of birth information
  • Create firm boundaries with people who aren’t supportive or encouraging
  • Write birth affirmations and post them around your home
  • Get even more savvy about the birth process
  • Find brilliant and supportive people to be on your birthing team
  • Edit your Facebook stream to limit the scary stuff and boost the positive stuff
  • Join supportive Facebook groups like the Fear Free Childbirth Facebook Group
  • Read birth books
  • Watch some birth documentaries

The great thing about many of these is that they’re free. But, they do require persistent action.

Think about how confident do you feel RIGHT NOW? What thoughts do you have around birth? How does birth and motherhood make you feel?

What has the potential to sap your birth confidence? Fear? Lack of support? Lack of knowledge? Lack of encouragement?

Identify your birthing tools

One thing that will help you to boost your confidence going into your birth is having a bunch of tools you can use to help you cope with what’s happening and to stay in your birthing bubble. This applies no matter what kind of birth you’re working towards.

The most obvious thing that people want help with is pain management. The thing is, pain is as much as a mindset thing as it is a physical thing, and when it comes to birth, this is even more so.

With a lot of these techniques, you will need to practise using them. It’s when you have confidence in your techniques that you boost your birth confidence. They need to be second nature to you on the day so time spent practising is worth it. And remember, it’s not just you who has to prepare in this way; your birthing partner needs to too!

I’m going to break this down a bit, so that it’s easier for you to find things that can help you;

Pain Management

Pain management techniques are the most common ones that are worth doing your homework on as there are quite a few for you to choose from. Acupressure and massage can be really helpful for pain and is an ideal way for your partner to get involved and feel like they have an important role.

Relaxation

Being relaxed will help you to manage the tension that may arise which in turn will help you to minimise the pain. Things can help you to relax include breathing, listening to music or hypnosis tracks, or applying pressure on acupressure points.

Mindset Management

This is more about helping you to keep your mind clear of fear and focussed on the birth. The aim here is to minimise mental chatter and negative self-talk, but be clear of emotion so that you can tune into your body. Having some fear-clearance or positivity boosting techniques will help to boost your confidence. Breathing can also help you to keep your mind clear.

Jun 29 2017

27mins

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Preparing your mindset for birth

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Getting into the right mindset for birth is something that is often talked about. We're often hearing people say "Birth is mind over matter" and that's because it's true! So I wanted to dig a bit deeper into understanding what a great mindset for birth was and I've a great guest to help me.

On the podcast today, I'm joined by Ulf Sandstrom who is a mental trainer and hypnocoach who also happens to be a co-founder of the Hypnobirthing Society of Sweden. Doesn't he sound like the perfect guest to help us to better understand the best kind of mindset for birth and how we might go about achieving that?
During my conversation with Ulf, we talk about many aspects of mindset for birth because quite frankly he has so much to share. He's also very generously created some free downloads to go with our chat and help you to take some of the things we talk about further. See below for more details!
Here are just some of the things that we talked about...
How dads can play an active role during birth
Hypnobirthing places a great emphasis on the importance of dads during pregnancy and birth and Ulf shares some of the ways that he encourages dads to get involved including;

Helping mum to relax during pregnancy by reading relaxation scripts to her. This has the added benefit of the baby learning to associate dad with being a calming influence THIS TIP IS GOLD-RATED**!! Why? Because once baby is here, dad will have a hugely calming influence on the baby which will not only help mum but help dad to feel super-involved with the little one. What's great about this is that both of you are doing something practical, that gets results AND that can be used afterwards.
Be a gatekeeper to all aspects of the birth where thought is required. This helps mum to stay focused on birthing.
Helping mum get back to calm place during birth by using some tools and techniques he has learned during the pregnancy.

His advice to dads is this; Think of yourself as a sommelier at a top-notch restaurant and come from a place of service.

**Now, not only is this dad-tip GOLD RATED, but he's also created a dad-script exclusively for you my podcast listeners. How fabulous is that? To find out how to get yours - see below.
How to handle your fears
If you’re afraid of something that hasn’t happened yet, it’s because you’re imagining what it’s going to be like. perhaps you read it, saw it or heard about it. Or perhaps you have a vivid imagination that prefers to look at possible dangers.

Ulf reminds us that "if you develop a fear or a phobia, it’s not your will; it's a response by your nervous system" and that a fear isn't any less difficult for someone than a trauma based on something that's actually happened.
"If you’re afraid of something that hasn’t happened yet, it’s because you’re imagining what it’s going to be like"
Ulf shares a great exercise which is great for both mums and dads. Write down anything you’re afraid of about the birth - or post birth. You don't need to share it with each other. Once you've written your fears down, set fire to the paper. Setting fire to your fears like this can be really powerful; it can help you not only to acknowledge and accept your fears but also to feel like you've voiced them as well as helping you to let them go.
Getting into the mindset for birth
Ulf says this on getting into a mindset for birth; "The more luggage you can lose before birth the better". I love how he uses the term "luggage"; I use the term head trash, but we're talking about the same thing. It's all that emotional baggage that can prevent you from being totally present during birth but can also kick off mental processes that could bring on anxiety or fear which could directly impact labour. BUT... and it's a big BUT!
"If you haven't lost your luggage, the better mood you can find yourself in, the better."
This is a great point. We don't all have the time or ability to shed all our luggage before birth,

Jul 14 2016

50mins

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Fearless Birthing

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Alexia talks about the Fearless Birthing approach to birth preparation that is entirely focused on clearing fears for a positive birth experience.

Nov 20 2015

34mins

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How to have a happy birth, with Beverley Turner

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On today's podcast I'm joined by journalist and radio presenter (and now best-selling author!) Beverley Turner. Bev is also the lady behind The Happy Birth Club ante-natal classes that are run out of a pub in Chiswick, London.
I first heard Bev speak at the IMUK (Independent Midwives UK) conference last year where she spoke about The Happy Birth Club ante-natal classes that she runs alongside a dream team of birth professionals. When I heard her speak I knew I wanted to get her on the podcast to talk more about it. I've got a bit of a thing about childbirth education and it's this; it's so damn flakey!

If you seek out the free birth education option in your community it's usually run out of the hospital or local maternity unit, which by definition means that you're more likely to learn about the medicalised view of birth. This in itself is a very narrow perspective on birth so you will miss out on lots of important information that can help you to prepare.

The travesty here is that we actually NEED to seek out this information and education. Surely we should come out of school with a basic knowledge of childbirth that goes beyond the usual let's-put-teenage-girls-off-pregnancy-and-show them-the-scary-shit version. But we don't. So when we're pregnant, it's up to us to get off our bumps and educate ourselves.
Happy Birth Club classes
When Bev decided to create her classes, she made a point of seeking out the best in class, which admittedly, is probably easier in London than in other locations around the world, but at least it shows what can be achieved when taken seriously and done well. At £350 for a couple, it might not be the most affordable option for everyone, but that pales into in significance when compared to how much a happy birth is worth... and what you'd spend on other big days of your life like your wedding for example. You can never spend too much preparing for your birth, especially if it improves your chances of coming out the other end with a positive birth experience... and more importantly avoiding a difficult or traumatic birth and the horrid consequences such as post-natal depression.

During my chat with Bev she talks through the things they share as part of her classes, but we also talk about a load of other stuff. Given that we're both into birth the conversation does indeed wander...

What started her interest in birth
Bev shares her perspective on the midwifery situation that is affecting women in the UK at the moment
Why she wanted to write her book The Happy Birth Book
Why she feels that women are made to "aim low" in birth and why this is wrong
But, why aiming low in parenting is totally acceptable
Her advice for pregnant mamas who want to have a happy birth

And more...

I hope you enjoy it!
About Beverley Turner
I became a birth junkie after my son was born ten years ago and have spent much of that time writing, campaigning and talking about birth and parenthood as a journalist and broadcaster.  For pregnant women, knowledge is power. Honest, supportive ante-natal education in a fabulous location alongside other growing bumps is the best way to begin the craziest journey of your life. When I am not drinking tea with my beautiful Blooming Bunch, I write a weekly Daily Telegraph column; campaign for better maternity services for all women and look after my kids (10, 5 & 3). I am so proud of The Happy Birth Club: there are no rules, no embarrassment and no finger-wagging – but laughter is obligatory.

To find out more about the Happy Birth Club:  website and Facebook.

The buy The Happy Birth Book on Amazon UK

Apr 27 2017

42mins

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Taking the fear out of birth, with Hannah Dahlen & Kate Levett

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Hannah Dahlen and Kate Levett are pretty much celebrities in the birth world and I'm thrilled to have been able to chat to them both for my podcast. When I was going through the edit of my book recently I realised how much I've cited much of their research, so this was a real treat for me.

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Hannah Dahlen & Kate Levett
Hannah Dahlen and Kate Levett carried out a study last year which shows that "antenatal education classes focussing on pain relief techniques dramatically reduce the rate of medical interventions during childbirth, such as epidural use and caesarean section. The research, the first of its kind and published online today in the medical journal BMJ Open, raises questions about the way expecting mothers are provided childbirth education classes".
The goal of the research was to test whether childbirth education programs can help to reduce the the rate of medical interventions. To do this they conducted a randomised controlled trial of 176 women having their first baby across two Sydney hospitals. The key findings of the research were as follows;

It found women in the study group:

Had a significant reduction in epidural rates compared with women in the control group (23.9% vs 68.7%)
Had a reduced caesarean section rate (18.2% vs 32.5%)
Were significantly less likely to require their labour to be accelerated using artificial means (28.4% vs 57.8%) or have perineal trauma (84.7% vs 96.4%)
Had a shorter second stage of labour (mean difference of 32 minutes)
Babies in the study group were also less likely to require resuscitation (with oxygen and/or bag and mask) at birth (13.6% vs 28.9%)

As you can see the findings are pretty astounding and makes undertaking childbirth education a no-brainer. So, it was against this backdrop that we chatted about the research as well as other aspects of birth including the effect that fear can have on your birth and what we can do about it. During our conversation we talk about;

how fear impacts birth outcomes
the importance of continuity of care for women when it comes to pregnancy and birth, and how it helps minimise their fear
value of a great midwife and how she is able to support a birthing woman
why relationships are at the heart of birth
the role that midwives play when it comes to introducing fear into the birth space and why they need to take responsibility when it comes to their fears and self-care
the techniques and tools that you can use to help you throughout birth
the key things to learn about before birth that can have a big impact on your birth
why learning about the birthing body can help you prepare for birth
how by taking a proactive approach to birth education and preparation can influence how birth professionals respond to you during labour
Hannah Dahlen
Hannah Dahlen is the Professor of Midwifery in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at UWS. She has been a midwife for 26 years and still practices. She is one of the first midwives in Australia to gain Eligibility and access to a Medicare provider number following government reforms in 2010.

Professor Dahlen has strong national and international research partnerships, has received 15 grants since 2000, including being CI on three NHMRC grants and an ARC Linkage grant and has had over 120 publications. She has spoken at over 100 national and international conferences and given invited keynote addresses at half of these.
Hannah is the National Media Spokesperson for Australian College of Midwives and has been interviewed in print, radio and TV numerous times and featured in three documentaries. Hannah is a past President of the Australian College of Midwives and received Life Membership in 2008 for outstanding contributions to the profession of Midwifery.

In November 2012 she was named in the Sydney Morning Herald’s list of 100 “people who change our city for the better” A panellist ...

Feb 02 2017

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Fear of pain in birth

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I’ve already talked about pain during birth in another podcast - how a fear creates pain during childbirth - so today I want to take a slightly different angle because pain is quite a biggie when it comes to birth. So I’d like to zoom in on the idea of pain and its close relative a fear of pain.

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A fear of pain in birth
Most pregnant women have a fear of pain when it comes to their upcoming birth. I have a lot of women going through my fear-clearance video training programme and a lot of them email me telling me how pain is such a worry for them during their pregnancy.

It was a huge one for me too. Once I started delving into my own fears, I realised that my fear of pain was near the top of the list. It was so big for me that early on in my first pregnancy I was seriously considering a c-section to avoid the pain of childbirth. Looking back, I’m grateful that I was able to off-load this fear because otherwise I would have needlessly put myself through major surgery and missed out on an incredible home birth.

So how can we address this fear of pain in a meaningful way? There are some circles in birthing that suggest just not using the p word at all. But or me this smacks of denial and positive thinking. And anyway, just because you’ve decided to stop using the p-word word, doesn’t mean everyone else has. Trying to control other people’s behaviour is guaranteed to end in tears; and probably yours!

I’m of the opinion that you need to accept it and embrace it.

Imagine you lived in the world of Xena Warrior Princess… and imagine that wandering this world was this big scary mythological creature that terrorised the locals. What would Xena do? She wouldn’t be hiding behind trees insisting that no-one mentions its name. No! She’d hunt it down and jump on its back and then she’d take control of it and use it to fight the baddies of the day.
via GIPHY

Rachel, another mama who emailed me totally gets this. She says "I just want to be realistic, and allow the possibility of pain into my birth. I have not done anything with hypnobirthing and I acknowledge the importance of the pain and cascade of hormones during childbirth."

If you welcome pain into your world and acknowledge its intention you’re better able to tap into its power. Pain has a positive intention that we often dismiss. In day-to-day life, pain is a signal from our body that something needs attention; a physical or emotional aspect of ourselves needs healing. However, in birth the word pain is used to cover a broad range of sensations. And yes some of these might mean that something needs attention. But some of these sensations might simply be the sheer power of nature birthing your baby, which is not something that requires attention or healing. Instead it requires you to ride this incredible wave of energy; embrace it, grab it, jump on it and use it. Don’t pretend it’s not there. It’s avoidance and denial that turns it into pain, because that need to avoid it and its accompanying fear is what needs to healed.

But paradoxically, I’d like to suggest that we refer to it as something else. When I think back to both my births, if you asked me what they felt like, you’ll hear me say words like intense, relentless, powerful, hardcore because that is how those sensations felt to me. But they weren’t painful. Getting stitched up afterwards was painful! Stubbing my toe is painful. But birth wasn’t. When you’re doing something physical that’s demanding and requires you to dig deep; is that pain? Do marathon runners say that they’re running in pain? They probably say it’s hard and tough but not painful.

Why not keep the word pain for painful things, like things that need attention or healing? Not just use it whenever we’re too lazy to use a word that’s more appropriate.
A fear in disguise
A fear of pain is a sneaky, slippery thing that doesn't always reveal itself. For example,

May 26 2016

27mins

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Looking after your Pelvic Floor, with Anita Lambert

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Your pelvic floor is one of those things that you take for granted before giving birth. It's just there. Then you give birth and it's not! After my first pregnancy, I went to a weekly buggy workout where we were talked through the kegel exercises and I remember being so utterly bored by them that I quickly lost interest in doing them. Give me crunches or squats any day, but kegels?!

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All those well meaning pieces of advice about doing them while sitting at a red light or while making a cup of tea didn't help at all. My head is way too full of thoughts to remember doing things like that. The thing is, I'm paying for it now. I didn't realise quite how much until I went trampolining with my daughter. Yikes! Well after ten minutes, let's just say that I was sitting it out.

So, when I'm sitting here telling you how important it is to look after your pelvic floor, I mean it!

Thankfully, I have Anita Lambert on the podcast today, who is going to help you look after your pelvic floor. But not only that, but she is also going to share with us her wonderful positive birth story. Anita starting listening to the podcast before she was pregnant as she wanted information for her pregnancy and post-natal clients. Then she got pregnant and had two super reasons for listening. She also shares how she used the head trash clearance method to tackle some of her fears duing her pregnancy.

One of the fears Anita worked on during her pregnancy was her fear of pain and interestingly, she says that she didn't really experience pain during labour. I say "interestingly" because I'm sure that has a lot to do with the fact that she didn't fear it. There is a known scientific link between a fear of pain and our experience of it and *that* is why is find that so interesting! Anita went on to have a lovely birth which you can hear all about.

Here she is with her gorgeous little daughter!
Looking after your pelvic floor
Anita is a physio from Toronto who works with women during pregnancy and afterwards to help them to improve their pregnancy and birth experience, but also to assist them with their post-birth recovery. There is so much that Anita shares in terms of how you can work closely with a physio during your pregnancy and afterwards that it's well worth a listen. She's also makes it all sound so straightforward! Some of the things Anita shares include;

what your pelvic floor actually is and how to think about it
the pelvic floor check you can have BEFORE you're pregnant
the physio appointment that is worth having at 37 weeks to check that you're well aligned for birth
pelvic floor exercises you can do other than the dreaded kegel ones
why it's important to be able to relax your pelvic floor as well as tighten it
what you can do to help you go trampolining again
what you can do to help make sure you can sneeze or laugh without looking silly
why it's not too late to get your pelvic floor "fixed" and what you can do
the importance of the mind-body connection when it comes to your alignement

We also talked about Pelvic Girdle Distress aka symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) as this was something that I suffered from during my second pregnancy.

This is an important episode and I would urge you to listen.
Resources
Anita has kindly shared some fabulous resources to support you in this area.

Spinning Babies - this is a great resource by midwife, Gail Tully, for creating pelvic balance and alignment during pregnancy and labour to help with a smoother childbirth (and can help turn a breech baby)

Julie Wiebe, Women's Health and Sport Medicine physical therapist explains how to find your ideal alignment to access your deep core to support your body during pregnancy and after birth:

Prepare to Push TM - ebook / ecourse created by Kim Vopni of Pelvienne Wellness and Bellies Inc with helpful information to prepare your body for birth and postpartum recovery

Mar 23 2017

1hr 3mins

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How to prepare dads for childbirth, with Rachel Gardner

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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!

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 - lik...

Oct 15 2015

39mins

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Alexia’s Positive Birth Stories

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I can't quite believe it, but this is the last episode in the first season of the Fear Free Childbirth Podcast. To finish I thought it would be nice to end with my own positive birth stories. After all, it's the birth of my two daughters that have inspired all my work in this area and for me it all started with these two very magical experiences.

To help me share my positive birth stories, I invited Jennifer Nesbit Holt back on the show to be my guest host. I chatted to Jennifer right at the beginning of the podcast about her wonderful birth story, and as a fellow podcaster, I knew she'd do a great job. (And I just LOVE her accent!).
My Positive Birth Stories
If you've ben listening to the podcast, you'll know that I when I was first pregnant, I was completely terrified of giving birth. I had all sorts of things going on in my head that I knew I had to face up and deal with before my birth. During my chat I share how I went from being completely phobic... looking back I'm sure it was tokophobia... to being totally fear free about birth;

How I felt about my first pregnancy that ended in a miscarriage
What I did to help me to overcome my fears in the lead up to my first birth
How I dealt with my fear of the ring of fire as my baby was crowning during my first birth
How my second pregnancy compared to my first when it came to my level of fear
Why my second pregnancy forced me to immerse myself in birth edcuation
How being an older mum changed my second pregnancy
How I dealt with the negativity from my medical team when I was being pressured to be induced at 38 weeks
Why I asked my medical team to agree on a different due date to the one I was given
How I handled the stress of regular fetal monitoring
How I prepared for my second birth

Visualisations around how I wanted my birth to be
Talking to my baby
Clearing my baby's fears
How I believe visualisation contributed to my second birth
There is so much more that I would have liked to have shared, but I'm going to save it for my second season. Of course, if you have any questions, then come and ask me - you can do it below in the comments or just email me at alexia [at] this domain!

Season 2 of the podcast will return in early 2016 and I would love to know if there is anything that you would like to hear. Let me know if there are any topics that you're interested to hear more about, or maybe there are some guests that you think would be great to have on the show. Let me know in the comments!

Dec 03 2015

58mins

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7 ways that behaviour during pregnancy affects your baby

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Are you wondering how your behaviour during pregnancy affects your baby?
Well, I hope to be able to shed some light on that for you.

I know, I've been there... when you’re pregnant, you’re bombarded with so much information about what you should and shouldn’t do that it can be hard to have a guilt-free day when you can just think about what YOU want.

The last thing I want to do is to add to this cacophony of 'recommended behaviour during pregnancy', but I’d like to show you a slightly different perspective on things. This is NOT about all the usual stuff you’re likely to have come across. Instead, I want to share with you some of the more subtler ways that your behaviour during pregnancy can affect your baby.

Everything that I’m sharing with you is supported by research, but it’s information that rarely surfaces. It certainly didn’t in ALL the stuff that I read during both my pregnancies... and I read A LOT!

So today I want to share with you how your behaviour during pregnancy can affect your baby, in ways that you may not have fully appreciated.

If you like you might prefer to hear me talk through this blog post as a podcast. You can listen to that right here by clicking the play button below. You might also like to subscribe to the podcast and listen to it on your phone.
Here are the seven ways that your behaviour during your pregnancy will affect your baby:
1. Smoking & Drinking Alcohol
It’s widely known that alcohol and smoking are bad for the baby, and one effect is that babies who are subjected to a smoking and drinking mum are underweight and this is probably due to the fact that alcohol and cigarettes are known to suppress they appetite.

But, what’s not always known is exactly what happens to the baby when you drink. LIKE THE MOMENT that you’re drinking!

It can be easy to brush the comment "suppress their appetite" aside. We all lose our appetite sometimes, right? no big deal! But let me shed a bit of light on what is going on.

It might make you change your mind about that cheeky glass of wine…. and no I’m not one for piling the guilt on here, you know me by now... it’s about being conscious and mindful in our actions.
Alcohol causes a baby to stop liquid breathing
There was some research whereby mothers drank a shot of vodka. Once the mother had ingested the vodka, the baby stopped breathing. The baby would only start breathing again once the alcohol had cleared itself out of her system. For one shot this might be for just over an hour.

I never realised this when I was pregnant and I think if I had known that they STOPPED BREATHING (!) then I would have completely stayed off alcohol.

Who knows what kind of long-term impact it has on your baby if he or she not breathing for a few hours.

So now when we go back to that phrase.. suppressing the appetite.. perhaps it's probably due to the fact that they’re no longer taking in nutrients through the amniotic fluid because they’ve stopped liquid breathing.

Smoking makes them breathe faster… probably so that they can get more oxygen from you. It also suppresses their appetite.

Alcohol can be pretty damaging around the time of conception too; If you’re drinking around the time of conception, then it can lead to an increased risk of malformations in the eyes, ears, lips, head and face.
2. What you eat… before you conceive
Diet is important when we’re pregnant. In fact, the healthier our diet during pregnancy, the better for both mum AND baby.

But what about just before you become pregnant?

There’s mounting evidence to support the idea that your diet before and around conception is also hugely important for your baby’s growth and development.

I came across two studies that shed more light on this; the Dutch Hunger/Famine study which shares the effect of famine on the mother and their babies, and more recently a British study in Gambia which shows the stark difference between babies born at differing times of year i...

Sep 24 2015

27mins

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Preparing for Parenthood, with Elly Taylor

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Preparing for parenthood is not always at the top of the list when preparing for birth. When it comes to fears that can crop up around childbirth, there’s one aspect that isn’t always obvious and is often overlooked. I say “overlooked” because I’m referring to a lot of birth preparation approaches or classes. This aspect is the bit that comes straight AFTER birth: the parenting and parenthood bit!

Now I know there are plenty of books, blogs, and podcasts on preparing for parenting, but what I’m referring to is the impact that a FEAR of becoming a parent might have on you when it comes to preparing for birth, and more importantly, what you can do about it.

I receive a fair amount of emails from you my listeners, and one thing I ask is this: what are your fears when it comes to birth? A surprisingly large number come and tell me that it’s not the birth that’s freaking them out, but the bit straight afterwards… the becoming a mother bit! So, if this is you, then this episode is for you.
Preparing for parenthood
Now, I don’t wish to get hugely distracted with the parenting - motherhood thing, but I think it’s important that I just dwell a wee bit on WHY it’s important to prepare for parenthood BEFORE birth. If you want to maximise your chances of having a positive birth, one the best things you can do is to clear your fears… if you’ve been following my podcast, you know that already, right? But, it’s not just birthing fears you need to address. You need to address broader life fears, especially those that are linked to you having a baby. So your fear of spiders probably doesn’t need a closer look at this stage. But if you have fears around whether or not your partner will support you in the way that you want or need, then that definitely needs addressing. And therefore, so do any fears you might have around being a mother or parent. If the idea of parenting freaks you out a bit, then imagine how your subconscious will deal with that and express that while you’re in labour. On a very deep level, you might resist your baby coming out and this could extend labour unnecessarily. This only begins to scratch the surface around the whole preparing for parenthood thing.

So, now I’ve explained WHY this stuff is important for you to think about BEFORE baby arrives, now let me help you to move past it. To help me, on today’s podcast I’m chatting to Elly Taylor. Elly is the author or the book Becoming Us, which is all about the journey to becoming parents and the various stages of the creation, development, and challenges of the family unit.

Elly Taylor is becoming known worldwide as the Parenthood Pioneer. As a Relationship Counsellor and a new mama at the same time, Elly began researching the transition into parenthood after she unexpectedly began experiencing stretch marks in her relationship with her husband. Over 15 years Elly discovered eight stages of early parenthood and formulated steps to prepare, guide and support partners through each of them. The result is her book Becoming Us, which has been welcomed by both parents and professionals. Elly is a columnist for Australia’s favourite parenting magazine, Practical Parenting, Resident Counsellor for Daily Life website and an advocate for Perinatal Mental Health. Elly lives in Sydney with her gorgeous firefighter husband (yes, they made it!), their three children and a bunch of pets.

During our chat, Elly shares;

the difference between parenting and parenthood
the transition from woman to motherhood
letting go of your old life, making room for the new
the 8 stages in Becoming Us
how knowing about these 8 stages can help you to cope with the challenges of parenting
how you can prepare while pregnant to help avoid many parenting challenges

(I’m sorry but this free guide is no longer available.  If you are looking for super useful resources such as this then join the Fearless Mama Ship. Find out more here.)

Nov 05 2015

49mins

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Why the ‘winging it’ birth plan sucks, with Shalome Stone

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Today I'm thrilled to be joined on the podcast by Shalome Stone from Rockstar Birth Magazine.

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When Shalome and I first chatted, it took us a while to figure out what we'd focus on for our pocast chat because we could've had spoken on a whole range of stuff around birth. But once I'd spoken to her for a bit, I knew what it was. Shalome was telling me about her own journey into birth work and what sparked her interest, which for her it was her own crappy first birth experience. Shalome approached her first birth with confidence just believing that because she was a woman she would be fine, she "had all the bits" after all. Basically, she went with the 'winging it' strategy, otherwise known as "going with the flow".

Things didn't pan out all that great for her, which you can hear all about in the podcast. When the time came round for baby number two, she knew she had to do things differently. She knew that this time around she would need to do her homework and prepare. If you've been listening to the podcast, you'll know that I keep banging on about the need to prepare for your birth. This preparation is might include things like;

educating yourself about birth and the birthing process
learning about the birth choices you have and the decisions you might face
finding out about the birthing professionals that are available to support you in the lead-up and following your birth
doing emotional work if you have fears, anxieties or worries that you need support with
mental preparation to help you find toold and techniques that can help you to stay focussed and positive on the day
physical preparation in terms of exercises to strengthen your body for birth

Phew! Not a bad list for starters! It can be easy to see why this can seem overwhelming at first. But believe me when I say this; it's worth it. YOU'RE worth it! The thing is, the benefits of preparing aren't immediately obvious, especially for first time mums who have NO IDEA what awaits them.

So, perhaps I can convince you through talking about the impact of NOT PREPARING, and how using the 'winging it' strategy really does suck. As someone who went with the 'winging it' strategy, Shalome is much better placed to tell how much it does indeed suck.

We also talk about budgetting for birth and I ask Shalome "how much should you invest financially in your birth?". She compares our birthing day with other big days in our lives that we spend considerable sums on - namely the wedding, but one thing is clear from our chat. The far-reaching ripple effects of your births mean that investing in your birth is a no brainer.

I hope you enjoy our chat! And listen up for this utterly rockstar quote from Shalome "I don't have a magic vagina"

If you want to track down Shalome here are all the usual links

Website - www.rockstarbirthmagazine.com

Facebook - www.facebook.com/rockstarbirthmagazine

Instagram - @rockstarbirthmag

Podcast - Rockstar Birth Radio

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Mar 09 2017

49mins

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The Psychology of Pregnancy, with Leah Butler-Smith

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The psychology of pregnancy doesn't often get discussed and I don't know why, so today I'm remedying that.
Pregnancy and the journey of motherhood are such a huge time of change that it's no wonder that there are psychological implications. The thing is, we don't often stop and think about what those might be. In today's episode I'm going to be lifting the lid on the psychology of pregnancy and motherhood so that you can have a better understanding of what might be going on for you. To help me, I'm joined by Leah Butler-Smith who is a therapist and a coach as well as being a mum of three. Leah had a very successful practice in London's Harley Street and has worked with many women on the whole motherhood spectrum. This includes from fertility and miscarriage to overcoming pregnancy fears and birth recovery.

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The Psychology of Pregnancy
Many women approach pregnancy and birth with very little if any preparation and assume that they can just take it in their stride. This might work for some, but given the seismic changes that are involved in becoming a mother, it's worth taking some time to doing some preparation. Going from being an individual with no responsibility for anyone other than yourself to becoming a parent has its own set of challenges and adjustments to overcome. Add pregnancy and birth to the equation and you've got a mighty cocktail of craziness right there.

During our chat, Leah shares some interesting insights into the psychology of pregnancy and birth that might very well help you to unpick what is going on for you. Leah talks a lot about how our irrational mind is responsible for our beliefs and fears. She explains how those beliefs and fears may have been implanted in the first place, which is very interesting to listen to. I work with this stuff all the time so while it's not new to me, I still find it super fascinating!

Leah also talks about her experience of working with women on the fertility journey. She talks about how, in her experience, fears play a huge role in our ability to become and stay pregnant. Leah shares stories of women she's worked with who, once they've worked on the mind and the fears and anxieties at play, are able to then go on to be pregnant. Certainly worth a listen for that alone!
Managing pain with the mind
You will have already heard me talk quite a length about how pain is a mental thing and how we can manage our ability to cope with pain by using the mind. Well, Leah bangs this drum to. During our chat, she shares a brilliant technique for managing pain during labour and birth.
FREE download
During our chat, Leah mentioned a free download that she was creating. To get hold of the download CLICK HERE.
About Leah Butler-Smith
Leah Butler-Smith wittily refers to herself as a ‘Rapid Transformation Specialist’ who has a ‘particular set of skills’ (think the popular movie, Taken LOL). Having worked with celebs, creatives, sports personalities, entrepreneurial business owners including a few Billionaires. Since the late 90’s, her experience and knowledge is surpassed only by her constant enthusiasm for helping others. Her many skills include being awarded the title of Senior Hypnotherapist - one of the first awarded by the GHSC, Advanced Psychotherapist, Analytical Hypnotherapy, NLP Trainer, TFT Practitioner combined with the latest proven techniques Havening, EMDR and EFT. She now fills any spare time with studies in Neuroscience, Bio-Medicine and any other research that supports her members & private clients.

You can get access to Leah in person inside her newly formed community inside Facebook. There you’ll get regular tips for improving your mindset, learning NLP & other techniques proven that will help you improve your mindset, overcome challenges, build your confidence and support your business growth.

You can also get a Free Coaching Guide at WWW.LEAHBUTLERSMITH.COM

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Jun 08 2017

53mins

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The 4 things I want to say to you if you’re due any day

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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.

Sep 17 2015

20mins

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Essential Oils in Pregnancy, with Amber Duncan

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Using essential oils in pregnancy can be a bit of a minefield. There is so much confusion as to what you can and can't use that it can be stressful. So I knew I had to do an episode on it!
To help me tackle this subject, I'm being joined by Amber Duncan, who is a clinical aromatherapist. But not only that, but she is also a mama of three, so she's pretty familiar with the pregnancy and birth journey. She works a lot with pregnant mamas so I knew she would be ideal to have on the show.
Essential Oils in Pregnancy
If you've thought about using essential oils in pregnancy, then this is probably pretty familiar to you. Women just don't know what is safe and what is not, and so often avoid using them altogether. Midwives often avoid recommending essential oils in pregnancy because they are confused too and so they prefer to avoid the subject altogether. Essential oils can have great benefits when pregnant providing the right ones are used in the right way.

During our chat, Amber covers quite a bit, including;

Why you need to avoid using a diffuser during labour
What support you can expect from using essential oils in pregnancy
Typical pregnancy symptoms that essential oils can help with
Which carrier oils to use - including one that you probably haven't heard of before
How to dilute essential oils to a safe level
What to pack in your birth or hospital bag
How to prepare your essential oils that you might want to use during labour, including a great hack
Why you need to avoid topical EO applications immediately post birth

One thing that's a bit scary or overwhelming when it comes to using essential oils in pregnancy is knowing what to avoid. So Amber has rather helpfully, provided me with a list of

Essential oils to avoid
Essential oils to use with care during pregnancy

(I’m sorry but this free guide is no longer available.  If you are looking for super useful resources such as this then join the Fearless Mama Ship. Find out more here.)

About Amber Duncan
Amber Duncan is the proud owner of Holistic Health Helper, LLC based out of Dayton and the sole instructor for The Apothecary Institute. As a Clinical Aromatherapist, she makes it her mission to educate others on the safe use of essential oils. She does this by offering many classes, workshops and seminars.  These educational opportunities are available in person, via Skype and online.

Amber is the NAHA Regional Director for southern Ohio and also has written for their quarterly journal.  In 2016 she was invited to speak at the NAHA national conference which took place this October in Utah. Amber has also been interviewed for articles in various publications including one with Massage Mag, as well as being invited to various speaking engagements including this 2016's SOFT Conference held in Tacoma, Washington.

Most recently she decided to add herbal studies to her repertoire and began a course to become a Master Herbalist. She knows this enhanced knowledge of the whole plant will only further allow her to best help those coming to her with questions.  She is excited to share this knowledge with everyone including her local clients in Dayton, Ohio.

When not helping others better understand essential oils she is raising her three children with the help of her loving husband. She works with the kids in a home-school format to help them better learn about the things around us.  Such as plants, animals, and how we fit in; so that they can feel comfortable with their knowledge of the world and who they are in it.

May 18 2017

59mins

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Induction and the pressure to induce, with Patti Good

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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 me in the high-risk category, so I was under some pretty intense pressure to induce from my consultants too. This experience 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 a 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 focused on your due date for so long, and it comes and goes, it can be really tempting 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.

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 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.

(I’m sorry but this free guide is no longer available.  If you are looking for super useful resources such as this then join the Fearless Mama Ship. Find out more here.)

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 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

Oct 01 2015

52mins

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Interview with Giuditta Tornetta, doula and author of Painless Childbirth

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Well, today's podcast is the first one back after my August break and boy am I pleased to be back!

I had some great news while I away; I found out that the podcast is a finalist in the UK Podcasting Awards which is amazing! Unfortunately as I was on holiday in places with no wifi and very poor phone reception, I wasn't able to make a huge song and dance about it. The award ceremony is in a couple of weeks so I'll let you know how I get on.

In today's show I chat to Giuditta Tornetta. Giuditta is a doula and best-selling author based in LA who works with the rich and famous, and is rumoured to have been Pink's doula. Guiditta also works with those who are in needy and disadvantaged through her foundation, the Joy in Birthing Foundation where she leads a team of doulas who support women who are alone and isolated in their birthing experiences.

Here's a little bit more about Guiditta from a snippet on her website Joy in Birthing

"Giuditta Tornetta is a certified birth and postpartum doula, lactation educator, a certified clinical hypnotherapist, a NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) practitioner. Giuditta practices clinical hypnotherapy and a method of natural childbirth that uses hypnotic techniques to reduce stress and fear during labor and delivery.  Her love for women and the birthing and parenting experience has  enabled her to help hundreds of women in her practice and thousands with her book and lectures, to obtain the birthing experience they deserve and desire.

She focuses on infant mental health and pre-post birth bonding, where she uses guided meditations and visualizations to help women communicate and empower their babies before birth. As a lactation educator and postpartum doula, Ms. Tornetta helps couples settle into a natural routine once the baby comes home. Through education, compassion, practical as wells as emotional support, Doula Giuditta teaches new parents how to decipher the newborn’s vocal and body language.

Giuditta is also a published author of the best selling book Painless Childbirth: An Empowering Journey Through Pregnancy and Birth."

During our chat Guiditta shares so much wisdom and insight that it's really worth making yourself a nice hot cup of something and taking a moment. Some of the things we talk about include

Painless childbirth; what painless childbirth means and how a painless childbirth is possible.
How to think about pain so that you have can have a positive birth experience
Why having a conscious birth is important if you want a painless childbirth experience
What being conscious means when it comes to pregnancy and birth
How we can approach the task of doing the work and use our chakras for guidance
How the 9 chakras are reflected in our 9 months of pregnancy
How tapping into Red Tent communities and the Red Tent concept can help you to embrance and reclaim your feminitity - all inspired by the book Red Ten by Diana Dimant

You can find out more about her books here
You can find out more about her work at

Joy in Birthing

Joy in Birthing Foundation - her foundation that supports disadvantaged pregnant women

Loving the Mother - the workshops she runs with Nicola Goodall (who I interviewed a few weeks back)

Sep 03 2015

1hr 2mins

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Natasha’s conscious pregnancy and positive birth story

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If I had to sum up my philosophy on life and indeed all those important aspects of life, I'd say it would be all about living consciously. So I was thrilled when Natasha, the host of the Conscious Living Podcast, approached me so that she could share her positive birth story on the podcast.

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Natasha has a Master’s degree in Psychology and works in Child and Family Therapy, so she has a solid understanding of the role that our minds can play in life, and therefore our birth experience. The minute she found out she was pregnant, Natasha applied her conscious living philosophy so that she could enjoy a conscious pregnancy with a very clear intention of experiencing a positive birth experience.
When I asked Natasha how she would describe conscious living, this is what she said "Conscious living is being aware; of why we do the things we do, and how that impacts the people around us and the world at large".
For me, no event in life warrants a conscious approach more than the arrival of a new human being and our transition into our lives as parents. Our behaviour as a pregnant woman, and then as mother, has such far reaching impact that I believe it is our duty to take our role seriously and think about how we want to shape the future we're creating. remember, this is not just our future but that of another little person who is helpless and reliant on us as its creator.
"Everything we do during pregnancy and during labour sets us up for how we will parent"

Choosing a conscious pregnancy
If you'd like your pregnancy to be as close as possible to being a conscious pregnancy, then listening to Natasha will certainly set you on the right track that's for sure! During our chat Natasha shares so much wisdom and learnings that I felt compelled to jot loads of these down and share them with you right here. Of course, to get the full picture, you're better off hearing her tell the full story, but here's a flavour...

Set boundaries particularly with other women sharing their negative birth stories. In a polite yet firm manner let them know that "unless this is a good story, I'd prefer not to hear it". The unconscious mind will absorb all this negativity, so don't let it near you.

Train your mind to support you and not hinder you. Natasha chose to change her default mental response of "what if everything goes wrong" to "what if everything goes right".

Get clear on what you want to achieve and set out to achieve it. For Natasha this meant having a team around her that she trusted to respect her wishes and desires. Her doula and midwife were crucial in helping her and her husband stay present and free from anxiety during the birth.

Don't fill your mind with things that cause you anxiety. For Natasha this meant not being informed of her numbers during birth; her dilation at various points during labour. She wanted to stay connected to her body and her baby.
"I believe a huge piece of my successful birth was just not knowing my numbers and just trusting my body, my baby and my midwife."
As I said above, to get the full flavour of Natasha's concsious pregnancy journey, listening to the podcast will hit the spot! I hope you enjoy it.

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About Natasha
Natasha Grey has a Master’s degree in Psychology with an expertise in Child and Family Therapy. She is the co-author of the children's book, Everyday Superheroes, and is the host of the Conscious Living Podcast. She focuses her time and energy on wellbeing and wholeness that includes mind, body and spirit.

Find out more about Natasha at www.caseyplusnatasha.com

Sign up for more information on conscious living at www.caseyplusnatasha.com/fridays

Jul 07 2016

1hr 3mins

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Breastfeeding, with Cindy Leclerc

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Breastfeeding is not something you might expect to do your research on while pregnant, but there is certainly a lot of value in preparing yourself as much as you can while you have the time and space to do so. When your little one arrives you’ll thank yourself for being prepped as much as you can.

I’ve been asked loads to do a podcast on breastfeeding and I’ve resisted because I wanted to stay focused on the birth prep, but I’m getting way too many requests to ignore it – so here we are!

Today I’m speaking to Cindy Leclerc. Cindy is a Canadian Registered Nurse and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. She has helped over 12,000 families get started with breastfeeding. In addition to her nursing practice, she teaches prenatal breastfeeding classes both in-person and online. Together with a colleague, she hosts a website (cindyandjana.com) and an app (NuuNest) which provide reliable information to answer the questions new parents ask. NuuNest can be downloaded for free on their website.

During our chat Cindy shares the 5 things that every pregnant woman should know about breastfeeding.

But we don’t stop there! We also talk about

  • breastfeeding positions
  • growth spurts
  • what to expect the days after birth in terms of milk
  • how to know if your baby has fed enough – and it’s not to do with time spent on the boob!

During our chat, Cindy talks about her free breastfeeding course as well one of which is free. Check them out below.

FREE 3 lesson course  – Getting Ready to Breastfeed

Simply Breastfeeding

But that’s not all!

FREE DOWNLOAD

Cindy has kindly offered to share a PDF of the 5 Things Pregnant Women Should Know About Breastfeeding.

(I’m sorry but this free guide is no longer available.  If you are looking for super useful resources such as this then join the Fearless Mama Ship. Find out more here.)

Get support as a new mama

As I mentioned on the podcast new mama support is now available as part of The Fearless Mama Ship member area.  The Fearless Mama Ship is to support you throughout your four trimesters and has been created to help you to reduce the overwhelm when it comes to all the information out there. It is packed with bonus podcast episodes, mini-course and plenty of resources to help you prepare for birth. My birth prep program includes birth template downloads as well as information of the various birth professionals that can support you during your pregnancy and birth so that you can find the support you need. Find out more below.

Jul 06 2017

1hr

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The difference between meditation and hypnosis, with Suzy Ashworth

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Today I want to explore the difference between meditation and hypnosis, and relaxation beause they're often used interchangeably but there are actually important yet subtle differences.

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One message that is never far away from the ears of a pregnant woman is around the idea of self-care and relaxation. The importance of taking the time to reduce stress and to relax is brought into stark focus when you're carrying a baby, but this isn't always easy. Unfortunately, being pregnant doesn't mean that life is put on hold; you still get all the usual stressors coming your way. Now add hormones to the mix and keeping calm and stress-free is suddenly made a bit more tricky.

In seeking ways to help to return to this place of calm and relaxation, many women are prompted to start finding new ways to deal with life, or at least start adopting practices that can help them live more calmly day-to-day. This is not only to help them to relax, but also as a way of preparing for birth. Some of the new things that women discover around this time might include meditation, hypnosis and relaxation but what's not always clear is the difference between meditation and hypnosis, and whether relaxation is different again. So, I thought it would be great to shine a light on this to help you understand the difference, so that you can decide which one is right for you.
To help me do this, I invited Suzy Ashworth onto the podcast for a chat. Sure, I could have talked through all this myself, but it's always nicer to chew it over with someone, and Suzy is perfect for the job. As the co-founder of the Calm Birth School (an online hypnobirthing programme) and someone who's recently cranked up her meditation practise, Suzy has got a good handle on how they differ. She's even written a piece for Huff Post on this: What’s the Difference Between Meditation, Self-Hypnosis and Relaxation?

What is the difference between meditation and hypnosis?
During my chat with Suzy, we explain what these differences are and in summary this is what we said;
Meditation
It's an active practice that takes discipline and focus. It can be invaluable in helping you to process your emotions and handle your thoughts, while also offering you potential moments of clarity and inspiration. When pregnant, meditation can be a great time to visualise your birth as well as to connect and communicate to your baby.
Hypnosis
Suzy describes hypnosis as a state whereby you have a narrowed focus of attention, where you become really engrossed in something and you don't notice the passage of time. In this state, you're less aware of your surroundings and you're more open to suggestion. Think watching TV or being engrossed in a good book. Suzy went on to say that as you're more suggestive, it means that you're more open to change which can be helpful if you're looking to let go of some fears and beliefs that don't support you. This is what makes hypnosis such a great tool for birth preparation.
Relaxation
Suzy described relaxation as "letting the tension in your mind and your body release". At its very simplest she encourages using your breathing to help you to relax; breathing in for 4 and out for 7. When your exhalation is twice as long as your inhalation, then you trigger the relaxation response in the body, which can have a immediate and direct impact on your mind and body. This is such a great way to restore calmness in your mind during pregnancy and birth.

Understanding the difference between these three approaches can help you to decide what is likely to help you the most depending on where you're at and what you need.
Fearful of birth?
If you're in a place of fear, Suzy recommends starting with education so that you become informed about birth, and I completely agree with her. Education can sometimes be all you need to move past fear. If you need more support with releasing fears,

Jun 30 2016

37mins

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Anxiety in pregnancy

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Anxiety in pregnancy is currently estimated to affect around 15% of women. Through my work in supporting women in preparing for birth and pregnancy, anxiety is something that I see a lot and, dare I say, I think the numbers are probably higher.

When women are feeling fearful around aspects of their pregnancy or birth it can trigger feelings of anxiety, but these feelings are known to fluctuate through pregnancy. Anxiety in pregnancy has been shown to peak in both the first and the third trimester (1).

How anxiety in pregnancy affects birth outcomes

From the evidence available (2) we know that pregnancy anxiety not only affects pregnant women’s health but also has an impact on labour outcomes. Anxiety in pregnancy can affect the likelihood of things such as

  • preterm delivery
  • prolonged labour
  • caesarean birth,
  • low birth weight

When you combine these potential outcomes with those that may arise as a result of fear, it’s clear that helping women to deal with fear and anxiety in pregnancy needs to be an important focus if we’re to improve birth outcomes for women.

I’ve been supporting women in overcoming their fear for many years now, particularly those with tokophobia, and I’ve enjoyed some incredible success rates. Success rates that are apparently impossible.

I was once told off on Twitter by a midwife specialising in tokophobia for suggesting that it’s possible to overcome tokophobia. “… [I] shouldn’t raise women’s hopes like that because they can’t. They just end up having c-sections.”. That may well be the case, but a positive c-section birth experience that is empowering for the woman is a world apart from the c-section that the woman dreads and feels anxious and terrified throughout.

That’s when I realised that I needed to get some evidence behind my Fearless Birthing method. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to get birth professionals and healthcare providers to take my work seriously. And that in turn would limit the women able to benefit from the success I’m achieving reducing strong fears and anxieties.

So, that’s what I set out to do.

Collaborating with the University of Nottingham

I joined forces with the University of Nottingham Psychology Department to explore the possibility of collaborating on a research project to evaluate my Fearless Birthing method.

This is when I first met Dr. Megan Barnard. Dr. Barnard specialises in anxiety and so exploring anxiety in pregnancy was a good fit for her area of research. So we set out to design a study that would enable us to answer the question: can women reduce their anxieties and fears during pregnancy using a self-paced online programme?

Can we reduce anxiety in pregnancy?

After many iterations and submissions to the Ethics Board, we got the green light. So I’m delighted to say that there is currently a study underway which aims to evaluate the effectiveness of the Fearless Birthing method in helping women to reduce their anxiety and fear during pregnancy.

Given, Dr. Barnard’s expertise in anxiety, I thought it would be a great idea for us to have a conversation about anxiety in pregnancy so that we could all learn more about anxiety. But even more of a reason is this; Dr. Barnard is now currently pregnant. When we started working together, her interest in our work was purely professional. Now that she is experiencing some of the anxieties that we are researching, she has a unique insight into our project which I just wanted to ask her about.

A conversation with Dr. Megan Barnard

One thing that stood out for me from our conversation was that Dr. Barnard was saying that anxiety could strike anyone during pregnancy; you don’t already need to be someone who suffers from it to be affected by it during pregnancy.

Dr. Barnard also explained how much pregnancy has bought about a very human reaction to her pregnancy. Even though she studies and researches anxiety – and so is very knowledgeable on it – that doesn’t mean that she isn’t succumbing to it. And I think that is something we can all learn from. We might think that we have things covered, that we ‘know’, but that doesn’t stop our emotions from wading in and causing chaos.

This is why I think all women need access to tools that can help them to reduce their anxiety and fear, because it really can happen to anyone, at any point during a pregnancy. And given that anxiety peaks the first and third trimesters, it’s important to have access to this kind of support from early on during your pregnancy.

This is one point that Dr Barnard makes during our conversation. Typically women sign up to ante-natal classes late in their pregnancy but in fact, Dr Barnard suggests that women seek emotional and mental support much earlier on during their pregnancy. She talks about the negative impact of having the anxious thoughts ruminating throughout the pregnancy and how it’s better to address these as early on as possible.

Anxiety in pregnancy study – would you like to take part?

If you’re interested in taking part then this is who we’re looking for;

  • Must be between 12-16 weeks pregnant when beginning the study.
  • Must be at least 18 years old.
  • Must be able to speak and read fluent English.
  • Must be a UK resident.

You can either apply to take part here or you can contact Dr Megan Barnard directly here

About Dr Megan Barnard

I am a Teaching Associate at the University of Nottingham’s School of Psychology, having received my PhD in Psychology in 2017. When I am not teaching students, I am interested in conducting research on the impact that anxiety has in the real world? In other words, does it stop us from doing the things we want to do, and how can we relieve some of that anxiety in order to improve our wellbeing? I have looked into the effects on anxiety within areas such as transportation and cyberpsychology, and am now working with Alexia to see if psychological interventions can reduce levels of anxiety and depression during pregnancy.

Sources

  1. Research by Lee et al. (2007) and Teixeira, Figueiredo, Conde, Pacheco, and Costa (2009) revealed a varied prevalence of pregnancy anxiety at different trimesters of pregnancy with high levels in first and third trimesters.
  2. Catov et al., 2010, Hernandez-Martinez et al., 2011, Lobel et al., 2008, Rauchfuss and Maier, 2011.

Nov 12 2019

22mins

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Thomas Verny, Father of Prenatal Psychology

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Prenatal psychology is an area of psychology that looks at the psychological changes that women go through from conception to postpartum. If you’re going to better understand your fears and anxieties during pregnancy then I think understanding prenatal psychology is pretty crucial.

The journey to motherhood is one of massive change for a woman and is often accompanied by fear, insecurity, and stress. There is so much that could go wrong: preterm birth, an especially traumatic birth, problems breastfeeding, problems bonding with the baby, miscarriage, problems conceiving… gosh the list goes on!

How prenatal psychology can help

But mamas-to-be can handle their fears by drawing on ideas from prenatal psychology. Prenatal psychology can give you psychological resources for whatever may come your way: grief after a miscarriage, complicated parenting issues, bonding with their child, etc.

For me, the biggest thing I took away from prenatal psychology was getting to grips with the idea that I could consider my unborn baby as a human being from my third trimester. This represented quite a shift in my thinking and my approach to pregnancy. Once you accept that you’re carrying another human being who is able to listen, feel and hear around with you while your pregnant, then it invites some changes to your behaviour.

“By the end of the second trimester, the unborn child is a sensing, feeling and sensible (and remembering) human being.” Thomas Verny

During our chat I put these questions to Thomas;

  • What should a mother focus on during her pregnancy to improve the likelihood of a positive birth outcome?
  • What can a mother do during pregnancy to nurture the baby?
  • Can babies understand what their mothers are thinking when pregnant?
  • Do babies pick up on the emotional journey of the mother during pregnancy?
  • What are some causes of tokophobia [the extreme fear of pregnancy/birth]?
  • Does the type of birth we have – vaginal unassisted, forceps, c-section etc – have any psychological impact on us?

As you can see from these questions, they have the potential to reveal some fascinating answers, and Thomas doesn’t disappoint. I was in heaven!

Thomas starts by sharing some key factors that pregnant women should focus on during pregnancy to improve the likelihood of a positive birth outcome. These include;


  1. A desire for a child

  2. Relationship with her partner

  3. Relationship with one’s own mother
  4. Your own birth

Some people might be surprised at these because they are not things we tend to see in the typical birth prep lists alongside the more expected items like nutrition exercise or birth education. Thomas shares some interesting perspectives that are definite food for thought.

We chat about the importance of tuning into our babies and how best to do that and Thomas shares some ways that mamas-to-be can nurture baby during pregnancy. We also discuss fertility and how stress affects fertility.

How our birth type affects our thinking

The bit that I think you’ll love though is what he has to say about our birth type, and what kind of mental and emotional patterns they can lay in place. Things like;

Forceps birth – Pain in the neck is a common theme for them. At times of stress, they will likely have pain in the head or shoulders.

C-section birth – Common thoughts will include “I can’t make it on my own”, “If I’m in a tight place, people will come to my rescue”

Breech birth – They are the most hard headed of people “It’s my way or the highway”. They don’t want to conform.

So, as you can see, this really is a fascinating chat and one that I think could really shift your perspective of your pregnancy journey.

Let me know what you think in the comments!

About Thomas Verny

Thomas R. Verny is a psychiatrist, writer and academic. He has previously taught at Harvard University, University of Toronto, York University, Toronto and St. Mary’s University Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Dr. Verny’s books, professional publications and founding of the PPPANA, now APPPAH, and the Pre- and Perinatal Journal, have established him as one of the world’s leading authorities on the effect of the prenatal and early postnatal environment on personality development. He lectures and leads workshops on Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Psychotherapy through-out Canada, the United States, Europe, South America and Southeast Asia.

Thomas Verny’s Books

Jan 31 2019

1hr 6mins

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7 signs of a woman with tokophobia

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How to tell if you know a woman with tokophobia

Tokophobia is the extreme fear of pregnancy and birth. It’s not very well known and yet it can affect a lot of women. This extreme or pathological fear of birth is estimated to affect between 4 and 43% of women. 14% is an accepted estimate. So you see, a lot more common than you might think.

Sadly, many women with tokophobia avoid pregnancy despite being desperate to be mothers. But that doesn’t mean you won’t come across it.

Some women only realise they have tokophobia once they’re pregnant.

Up until that point, they might feel that “I’m just not maternal” or “I don’t like kids” which is something you hear a lot. However, both of these are typical comments made by women with tokophobia. It is simply their fear speaking.

Of course, there are also many women who simply don’t want kids who say these things. But it’s possible that when a woman says she doesn’t want kids that her fear is clouding her judgement, or that her true feelings are buried beneath the fear. Once she has overcome her tokophobia, she may very well change her mind. I’ve seen this a lot with the women I’ve worked with.

In fact, it was something that I used to say all the time. I recently met up with some people who I’d not seen for ten years and both of them told me how they would never have imagined that I would have had kids; they thought I didn’t want any! Well, that changed once I’d overcome my fears.

Why it’s important to know if a woman has tokophobia

It can be easy to shrug this phobia off as silly or irrational, but doing that is missing the point. Many women with tokophobia don’t see this fear as irrational. You can actually die in childbirth: that’s something worth fearing. Compare that to claustrophobia; being trapped in an enclosed space is not known to be fatal.

The fact is, a woman with tokophobia would love a bit of kindness and understanding about how she’s feeling. Having tokophobia can feel incredibly isolating because people don’t understand and are quick to judge. Here’s one woman’s experience of sharing how she felt;

I just explained that I suffer from tokophobia and I was looking for some positive encouragement, maybe some stories from people who had been through it and could tell me some positive things. What I got instead was the nastiest group of mean girls I’ve encountered in a very long time. Seriously, these women jumped all over me. The pitchforks immediately came out. It was seriously upsetting!

I hope that by sharing this, that you can better understand what they’re experiencing. If you have a wife or partner is tokophobic then maybe this post will help to explain things that you may have observed in your relationship. If you have friends who you suspect might have tokophobia then maybe this post will help you to better understand them.

7 signs of women with tokophobia

Not all women with tokophobia will experience all of these, but if a handful of them are present, then it’s a pretty good sign.

1. They avoid conversations of babies, pregnancy and birth

It’s often assumed that women love nothing better than to talk babies, but this simply isn’t true. Women with tokophobia will tend to remain silent if there is a group conversation that touches on babies, pregnancy or birth. They might do this because they simply have nothing to say and they can’t relate to what’s being said.

But it could also be that they daren’t say anything because of the possible reaction from other women. Very often, women with tokophobia find that when they speak up about how they’re feeling, that other women do not understand or shrug off their feelings. They might feel judged or ashamed so they keep quiet.

2. They don’t want to hold a baby

Holding a baby could easily freak them out and bring out quite a reaction. This means that they’ve probably never held a baby.

3. They have medical fears

Women with tokophobia tend to have one or more fears that are related to medical things. So having a fear of needles and injections, fear of hospitals or doctors or a fear of medical procedures like vaginal examinations are very common.

4. They obsess over birth control

A woman with tokophobia will want to avoid pregnancy and birth at all costs so birth control could easily be an obsession for them. Pregnancy tests will be a huge source of terror for them because of what they might tell them.

They might find themselves fantasising about things like artificial wombs because they simply don’t want to carry the baby.

This means they might be interested in surrogacy or fostering as alternatives.

5. They’re uncomfortable getting intimate or having sex

This is simply because sex leads to pregnancy, and pregnancy leads to birth, both of which has the potential to terrify them. So for a woman with tokophobia, the best way to avoid either is simply to avoid sex.

This means that getting intimate might be problematic for them too because that might lead to sex. Many women with tokophobia find that they struggle to develop intimate relationships because of this. Or they sabotage relationships at a particular stage in the relationship. This is often the Let’s Get Serious stage where babies are discussed, but it might be sooner when sex starts to be more present in the relationship.

6. They resent gender inequality and men not having to give birth

It’s common for a woman with tokophobia to think that it’s not fair that women have to go through the life experience that is pregnancy and childbirth. Because they consider both pregnancy and childbirth to be so negative, they hate the fact that they are the ones in the relationship that will have to undergo the hardship and risks of pregnancy and birth.

Some even resent men for this, although not all.

7. They have a fear of death

This might be a fear of them dying in childbirth or the baby. At a lesser level, this might be a fear of complications or things going wrong. They don’t consider this fear to be irrational as it’s often portrayed. For them, this is a rational fear; maternal mortality is something they take very seriously and they will probably be very clued up on the statistics.

These are just a few of the tell-tale signs of women with tokophobia. If you think you know a woman with tokophobia, then be kind and understanding.

And finally, I think it’s worth saying that tokophobia isn’t limited to women.

Men can have it too

If a man has it and his partner is pregnant, then it could mean that he might really struggle with being in the birth room when the time comes for the arrival of the baby.

Do you think you have tokophobia?

If you think you have tokophobia and would like to overcome it, I’ve pulled together a free email series that helps you to think through your options. You can sign up for that right here.

Jan 17 2019

30mins

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The Maternal Brain, with Jodi Pawluski

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Today’s podcast is all about the maternal brain and the neuroscience of pregnancy, birth, postpartum and parenting.

A few months back I shared an article about the maternal brain on my Facebook page and it went a bit nuts. It’s since been shared over 40 times which is unprecedented for my Facebook page. It also received tons of comments, many of which were saying how the article helped them to better understand what they were going through. So I knew I had to cover this topic on the podcast.

I reached out to the expert that was quoted in the article, Jodi Pawluski, and was thrilled when she agreed to come on the podcast to talk about all things maternal brain.

Jodi Pawluski is a perinatal mental health expert and Research Associate at the University of Rennes in France. Her research aims to promote maternal mental health: enhancing the health and well-being of both the mother and child. Her research focus is to determine the behavioral and neurobiological processes underlying maternal mental illness and use this information to improve mental health in women during the perinatal period. In other words, she knows a thing or two about the maternal brain!

The Maternal Brain

During our conversation, Jodi talks about

  • the changes that are happening to our brain during pregnancy and how it’s an important evolution for becoming a new parent
  • how we have new brain circuitry coming online that provides us with the ability to tune into our infant by enabling us to experience a feeling of reward from our child and a feeling of attachment
  • changes to the mood and emotions during pregnancy
  • the role of the environment on the maternal brain aka “pregnancy brain”
  • how quickly a mother can tune into her infant

After half an hour of touching your baby’s hand, you will recognise your baby’s hand from touch alone.

Pregnancy Brain

We talk about whether this is a “thing”. Some articles have stated that it’s not a thing, so we talk about what it could be instead and why it might feel that it really IS a thing.

15% of women during pregnancy will have a high level of anxiety

We touch on the important topic of anxiety and depression during pregnancy and taking medication when pregnant.

And, we also cover the brain changes happening to dads…. there is so much in this conversation!

Further Resources

The Neurobiology of Postpartum Anxiety and Depression.

The adaptive human parental brain: implications for children’s social development.

The Neglected Neurobiology of Maternal Anxiety and Depression

Jodi Pawluski Why aren’t we talking about maternal brain changes?

Nov 01 2018

51mins

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Pregnancy Body Changes

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Worrying about pregnancy body changes is something most pregnant women worry about. Whether it’s the expected changes in the shape of your body as pregnancy progresses, to the least expected changes that might happen as a result of birth complications – and everything in between! Pregnancy body changes are a huge source of worry for women which is why I wanted to talk about this on the podcast.

To help do that I’m going to be joined by Bianca and Natasha from Bebo Mia. They have a doula business and have been working with women for over 10 years so they’ve seen it all when it comes to women getting worried about pregnancy body changes.

We cover quite a few angles when it comes to pregnancy body changes, from plus size pregnancies, to being pregnant when fit and of course vaginal tearing.. and lots more.

Listen here

Pregnancy Body Changes

The adjustment you need to go through in how you perceive your body once you’re pregnant is quite significant. Many women have worries when it comes to pregnancy body changes which mean they struggle with this adjustment. This is particularly so for women who have strong feelings around their body – whether that’s love because they’ve spent a lot of effort being fit or whether they don’t like their body.

Common worries and fears around pregnancy body changes include;

  • “why isn’t my pregnancy going like a “normal” pregnancy?” ….. whatever *that* is!

  • “I’m worried about gaining too much weight during my pregnancy”

Plus size pregnancy

We talk about BMI measurement and the obese categories. Yes, a BMI of 30 and above carries risks,  but it’s simply an increased risk, not an absolute or guaranteed outcome. As with all risks, it’s crucial to understand what the numbers are telling you. The important thing to bear in mind is that with plus size pregnancies, positive outcomes are all possible!

Did you know that a common misguided belief is that overweight women are not strong enough to birth their babies? And another is that their vagina will be too fat. Yes, you read that right.

A fat vagina!

Since when can you get a fat vagina?? How can a hole get fat? #crazytalk

We also talk about the importance of ditching the yo-yo dieting habit

Fit women

The Bebo Mia ladies are clear to state that it’s important for women to give themselves at least 6 weeks to recover. They encourage women to connect to their postpartum body rather than focus on trying to re-establish their pre-baby body.
Another common problem is that some women are too scared to gain weight during pregnancy, with some women working out too much because they’re worried about gaining more than 25 pounds.

Changes down below

No chat about pregnancy body changes would be complete without talking about vaginal tearing. I know! Vaginal tearing is a HUGE fear among pregnant women. And yet interestingly, when I speak to women about their birth stories, vaginal tearing rarely features as something they worry about during birth – with many not even noticing it happening when it does. This vagina talk also covers;
  • the husband stitch
  • the importance of pelvic work

This is a great episode that is made brilliant by my fabulous guests, who have also offered a discount on all products on their site – see below.

About bebo mia

bebo mia is a training & mentorship organization for women in the maternal health field, including pregnancy/birth professionals, childbirth educators & parenting specialists. They offer comprehensive skills, business support & community care through an innovative online structure that spans a global market. 

A very different culture from both the patriarchal boardroom model & the female-centric multi-level marketing industry, bebo mia offers opportunities for women to work from home while making an income for themselves and their families. They develop inclusive, accessible trainings for women that provide the skills needed to grow & sustain a lucrative business. bebo mia remains fiercely committed to their original mission that was developed in 2008: To connect women to their intrinsic value and power.

Offer:
Listeners can use the code: FEARFREE20 to receive 20% OFF all of our products.

Oct 25 2018

48mins

Play

Preparing for Motherhood, with Sophie Brigstocke

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In today’s podcast episode I’m honoured to be joined by Sophie Brigstocke. Sophie won Doula of the Year in 2017, so this is a real treat – my second Doula of the Year guest!

As well as being a doula, Sophie also runs Nurturing Birth where she trains doulas alongside her co-founder Florence Etienne-Jackson. Together they have trained over 3000 doulas, so she knows a thing or two about birth and supporting women as they approach motherhood.

It was really tricky to pick a title for today’s podcast because we talked about so much. But it’s all birthy and all very interesting!

Some of the things we talk about include;

  • Sophie’s epic 10-day labour – YES you read that right… 10-day labour!
  • her ECV and her difficult birth experience
  • planning her subsequent VBAC
  • her elective emergency c-section

Preparing for motherhood and parenting

We talked a lot about how we can use pregnancy to prepare for motherhood. Often the focus of pregnancy is preparing for the birth, but preparing for motherhood is also important because there are things that can be done during pregnancy to lay the foundation.

Sophie shares with us that a lot of couples come unstuck with a new baby and they say they would have liked to have had help to prepare their relationship for the arrival of the baby. And yet, when classes were put on, no-one signed up. The benefit of hindsight, eh?

  • the case for ditching parenting books and tuning into your baby
  • why the mother is the expert on her baby
  • the importance of tuning into the mothering instinct
  • what women can do during pregnancy to prepare
  • why psychological preparation is important
  • maternal mental health

Let’s take the emphasis OFF what we need to BUY materialistically. Let’s think a lot more about what we need to invest in for our mental and emotional well-being.

Sophie tells us that “in terms of a good head space, preparing for the birth has a big impact. Your birth informs your postnatal period in a big way. I felt like my body had let me down. The positive feelings from having a good breastfeeding journey made such a difference”

We also talk about breastfeeding and touch on some common breastfeeding myths. And any birth conversation is not exactly complete unless oxytocin is mentioned! Sophie feels that “oxytocin isn’t talked about enough. It has an important role in early parenting too; it’s part of breastfeeding.”

About Sophie Brigstocke

Sophie is a birth and postnatal doula, Doula Mentor at Doula UK, Breastfeeding Supporter and Baby Massage Teacher. She was awarded “Doula of the Year” at MaMa Conference, 2017.

Sophie started working with mums and babies in 2004 when she trained as a baby massage teacher with Peter Walker, something she regularly teaches with busy courses around SW London. She also trained as a Therapeutic Massage Practitioner at the London College of Massage, specialising in Pregnancy and Post-Natal treatments. She offers Closing the Bones postnatal massage and ceremony to new mothers, as well as babywearing support.

You track Sophie down at Nurturing Birth.

Webinar for Birth Workers

In today’s episode, I announced that I’ll be running a live webinar for birth workers. I’ve been getting lots of enquiries from birth workers who would like mt to share how I help women to prepare for a fearless birth. So I thought I’d run a webinar. If you’d like to join me on the webinar, then you can sign up here.

Oct 18 2018

1hr 1min

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Fearless Birthing

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The Fear Free Childbirth podcast is back! After a year off, I’m back… lots of great episodes coming too!

In this episode, I talk about my new book, Fearless Birthing. I get lots of emails asking what reading people should do, well, my answer to that is simple: my Fearless Birthing book!

When I was pregnant, I didn’t read any books. I was tokophobic and one aspect that affects many women with tokophobia is that reading about birth can be very difficult – it can easily trigger their fears or panic attacks – and this happened to me. So I’m the last person to ask about birth books.

My Facebook group is a great place to ask that question!

Fearless Birthing Book

So today I’m going to talk about my book and share with you what you can expect from it – in a very top-line fashion. It’s nearly 100,000 words and pretty meaty, so I will NOT be going into the detail… I just want to give you an overview so that you can decide whether it might be a good one for you to read.

As I go through the chapters I also mention where there might be other podcast episodes that cover those topics – and I mention upcoming episodes that dive deeper too.

As well as helping you to shift your mindset around birth, I also include my fear-clearance technique – the Head Trash Clearance Method – which is what you can use to clear your fears. Now, some people prefer more than just a book to help them, so if that’s you, then the Fearless Birthing Academy is for you. This is my online program that accompanies the book. It includes lots of videos to help you to identify your fears and then to clear them. There are also many mindset techniques in there to help you during birth.

Since the book has come out I’m also getting lots of questions from birth workers and birth professionals asking me if they could train in Fearless Birthing so that they can use it to support their clients. Well, the answer to that is YES YOU CAN! You can find out more about joining the tribe of Fearless Birthing Professionals here. The Fearless Birthing Professional training is an online training program that combines live classes with online materials which means that you can train from anywhere in the world – as long as you have an internet connection.

Other Resources

During the podcast I mentioned other resources to help you on your Fearless Birthing journey;

Fear Clearance Meditations – to help you to address the most common birth fears

Fearless Birthing book bundle deal – buy 5 paperbacks – for friends or for your lending library and save money.

Fear Free Childbirth Facebook group – the best place to ask me questions and get answers from other mamas on the same journey as you.

Oct 11 2018

32mins

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Breastfeeding, with Cindy Leclerc

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Breastfeeding is not something you might expect to do your research on while pregnant, but there is certainly a lot of value in preparing yourself as much as you can while you have the time and space to do so. When your little one arrives you’ll thank yourself for being prepped as much as you can.

I’ve been asked loads to do a podcast on breastfeeding and I’ve resisted because I wanted to stay focused on the birth prep, but I’m getting way too many requests to ignore it – so here we are!

Today I’m speaking to Cindy Leclerc. Cindy is a Canadian Registered Nurse and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. She has helped over 12,000 families get started with breastfeeding. In addition to her nursing practice, she teaches prenatal breastfeeding classes both in-person and online. Together with a colleague, she hosts a website (cindyandjana.com) and an app (NuuNest) which provide reliable information to answer the questions new parents ask. NuuNest can be downloaded for free on their website.

During our chat Cindy shares the 5 things that every pregnant woman should know about breastfeeding.

But we don’t stop there! We also talk about

  • breastfeeding positions
  • growth spurts
  • what to expect the days after birth in terms of milk
  • how to know if your baby has fed enough – and it’s not to do with time spent on the boob!

During our chat, Cindy talks about her free breastfeeding course as well one of which is free. Check them out below.

FREE 3 lesson course  – Getting Ready to Breastfeed

Simply Breastfeeding

But that’s not all!

FREE DOWNLOAD

Cindy has kindly offered to share a PDF of the 5 Things Pregnant Women Should Know About Breastfeeding.

(I’m sorry but this free guide is no longer available.  If you are looking for super useful resources such as this then join the Fearless Mama Ship. Find out more here.)

Get support as a new mama

As I mentioned on the podcast new mama support is now available as part of The Fearless Mama Ship member area.  The Fearless Mama Ship is to support you throughout your four trimesters and has been created to help you to reduce the overwhelm when it comes to all the information out there. It is packed with bonus podcast episodes, mini-course and plenty of resources to help you prepare for birth. My birth prep program includes birth template downloads as well as information of the various birth professionals that can support you during your pregnancy and birth so that you can find the support you need. Find out more below.

Jul 06 2017

1hr

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Essential Steps of Birth Preparation

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Birth preparation is a huge part of preparing for a positive birth. Lots of women don’t appreciate why doing birth preparation is so important with many leaving it last minute. The truth is if you want to stack the odds in your favour when it comes to having a positive birth experience, birth preparation is essential.

The thing is, birth preparation can seem like this huge overwhelming task, so it’s understandable that many shy away from it or procrastinate. To help you I’m going to talk you through what I believe are some of the most important elements of your birth preparation.

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Why birth preparation is important

Preparing for your birth means that you’re saying no to the “winging it” birth plan. For the record, “winging it” or “going with the flow” is NOT recommended and is more likely to lead to a difficult birth;

  • Your labour is more likely to be longer
  • Increased chances of experiencing a painful labour
  • You’re more likely to have a medicalised labour
  • Increased chances of ending up with an emergency C-Section

I don’t know about you, but they are good enough reasons for me!

To receive my 9 Steps to a Fearless Birth just pop your details below and I will send you everything you need to know via email.

Essential Steps of Birth Preparation

So, in no particular order, here are some of the important steps that I think you need to include in your birth preparation.

Get clear on what you want

How can you prepare if you don’t know what you want? So this bit is super important. Think about what you DO want and what you DON’T want when it comes to your birth.

  • Where do you feel the safest? Home or hospital? Birth centre? Maternity-led unit?
  • How do you feel about medical staff? Do they scare you or make you feel safe?
  • Are you considered high risk? If so, what does this mean in terms of your birth? Does your current health have any implications for your birth? If so, what?
  • What birth assistance would you like? Birth pool? Pain relief? Space to move around? Home comforts? And, where is that most easily available?
  • What’s the birth you DON’T want? Why? What is it about that that you don’t like/want? If this ended up being your birth how would that make you feel?

Get savvy

If you’re going to prepare for something, then it’s important to know what you’re preparing for so that you improve your chances of getting it. This means going all crazy on the details. So even though you might have things clear in your head in terms of what you want – you still need to plan for various eventualities.

With birth, nothing is guaranteed, which is why it’s also worth preparing for plan B and maybe even plan C.

The reason why I want you to prepare for the birth you don’t want is so that you do your homework on it. This does two things;

  1. it helps you to understand it better as a birth option, and crucially,
  2. this helps to reduce the fear you might have of it. After all, there’s a reason you don’t want it, right?

Having a load of negative emotion around your plan B will not be very helpful for you on the day if your birth ends up going that way. Being prepared means that you will be able to change tack without getting all stressy on the day, which would be no good for the hormonal cocktail that keeps labour moving.

So you see; being clear AND savvy on both birth options is important work! Start seeking out the information you need that will support your birth choices.

Who do you want at your birth? Your partner? Your mother? Friends? Doula? Photographer? Are they are fully briefed and “on the same page” as you?

Pain relief: do you know your options and consequences of their use? How do you feel about accepting pain relief? Does this carry emotional weight? What pain management strategies would you like to adopt?

What methods would you consider to induce labour if required? At what point would you accept an induction? Do you know which methods you’d accept?

What are your fears?

Now that you’re clearer and a bit more savvy about this whole birth lark, you’re in a much better position to tune into any fears you have. My experience tells me that fears around pregnancy and birth usually fall into one of two categories;

  1. Fear of the unknown – “I’ve never been through this before and I have no idea what to expect”
  2. Deep-rooted fears – “I’ve read all the birth books but I’m still completely terrified of the thought of x”

Maybe you don’t have any. Early on in pregnancies, this is possible but it may well be because you’re not fully aware of them yet. If you’re feeling confident and excited, that’s brilliant. But don’t make the mistake of denying that you have any fears or pretending that you don’t have any.

Be open to explore this as soon as possible. If you dig for them and don’t find any, then even better. But the last thing you want is for them to pop up in the weeks before you’re due because then you’ll have nearly no time to sort them out.

Perhaps you started with some fears, but now that you’re a bit more savvy, you’re feeling less fearful. Or maybe not! Whichever it is, it’s important to give this some focus so that you put some effort into sorting this out.

Going into your birth with fear is not a good thing because fear has a direct physiological impact on your birthing body;

  • Fear will slow labour down, if not stop it altogether, due to the effect it has on your hormones
  • Fear can increase the likelihood of you experiencing pain, and/or increase any sensations of pain you have
  • Increases likelihood of an instrumental delivery or c-section

As you think about your birth, what fears are you aware of? When you tune into your fears, do they feel strong? Do you notice them in your body?

What is contributing to your fear? Friends or family sharing stories? Things you’ve read?  

Boost your birth confidence

There are always two sides to everything. I talked about fears, well the flip side to that is confidence. They both affect each other; the more you have of one, the less you have of the other, so we’re going to help you to tip the balance and stack the odds in your favour.

Find ways that you can boost your birth confidence. No matter how you feel about birth, feeling even MORE confident about it can only help.

Your level of confidence going into your birth is crucial, so finding ways to boost your birth confidence is an important step. This will differ for everyone but might include things like;

  • Start listening to positive birth stories
  • Stop listening to the scary ones
  • Listen to the Fear Free Childbirth Podcast! Or indeed other podcasts 😉
  • Seek out positive and balanced sources of birth information
  • Create firm boundaries with people who aren’t supportive or encouraging
  • Write birth affirmations and post them around your home
  • Get even more savvy about the birth process
  • Find brilliant and supportive people to be on your birthing team
  • Edit your Facebook stream to limit the scary stuff and boost the positive stuff
  • Join supportive Facebook groups like the Fear Free Childbirth Facebook Group
  • Read birth books
  • Watch some birth documentaries

The great thing about many of these is that they’re free. But, they do require persistent action.

Think about how confident do you feel RIGHT NOW? What thoughts do you have around birth? How does birth and motherhood make you feel?

What has the potential to sap your birth confidence? Fear? Lack of support? Lack of knowledge? Lack of encouragement?

Identify your birthing tools

One thing that will help you to boost your confidence going into your birth is having a bunch of tools you can use to help you cope with what’s happening and to stay in your birthing bubble. This applies no matter what kind of birth you’re working towards.

The most obvious thing that people want help with is pain management. The thing is, pain is as much as a mindset thing as it is a physical thing, and when it comes to birth, this is even more so.

With a lot of these techniques, you will need to practise using them. It’s when you have confidence in your techniques that you boost your birth confidence. They need to be second nature to you on the day so time spent practising is worth it. And remember, it’s not just you who has to prepare in this way; your birthing partner needs to too!

I’m going to break this down a bit, so that it’s easier for you to find things that can help you;

Pain Management

Pain management techniques are the most common ones that are worth doing your homework on as there are quite a few for you to choose from. Acupressure and massage can be really helpful for pain and is an ideal way for your partner to get involved and feel like they have an important role.

Relaxation

Being relaxed will help you to manage the tension that may arise which in turn will help you to minimise the pain. Things can help you to relax include breathing, listening to music or hypnosis tracks, or applying pressure on acupressure points.

Mindset Management

This is more about helping you to keep your mind clear of fear and focussed on the birth. The aim here is to minimise mental chatter and negative self-talk, but be clear of emotion so that you can tune into your body. Having some fear-clearance or positivity boosting techniques will help to boost your confidence. Breathing can also help you to keep your mind clear.

Jun 29 2017

27mins

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Conscious Conception and Pregnancy, with Jane Jennings

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I’m a huge fan of conscious conception and pregnancy and I believe that taking a conscious and deliberate approach to your journey from pregnancy to motherhood is the gold standard to aim for. But I also know that not everyone has got that memo and simply don’t get it.

To help you understand this in more depth, today I’m chatting to Jane Jennings about conscious conception and pregnancy. Jane is a Conscious Conception Doula and works with families throughout the pregnancy journey and that often means BEFORE conception.

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What is a conscious conception and pregnancy?

I know that many of my listeners choose to listen to my podcast as part of their preparation for motherhood and so THIS is what I’m talking about here; being conscious and deliberate about your journey to motherhood.

Living consciously isn’t limited to pregnancy and birth. It’s something we can all do at any time, if we’re ready and open to it. Put simply, living consciously is being deliberate and mindful about your choices and conscious of their consequences. Many people live unconsciously from moment to moment and allow themselves to be carried by the current of life, instead of choosing to pick up an oar and paddle in a certain direction.

When it comes to a living a conscious conception and pregnancy, things you might want to explore include;

Create the space in your life for your baby

Many couples who are expecting their first baby, do not intentionally create the space for a new person in their life. Particularly if the baby wasn’t entirely expected. It can be all too easy to try and bolt the baby onto your young, free and independent life (I know because I was guilty of this!), but taking the time to think about what you need to let go of so that you can welcome your baby fully, is worthwhile.

Take a closer look at your work, chores, hobbies and relationships that are simply not compatible with family life. Be prepared to make changes to enable family life to flourish and thrive. Often, family friction comes from this resistance to let go of the life habits that suited a younger person with no responsibilities. By accepting your new role sooner, you can avoid much of this, but importantly, it gives a clear message to your new family member that they are welcome, valued and loved.

Work On Your Relationship with Your Partner

The greatest gift you can offer your future child is a loving relationship between his or her parents. If there are any unresolved issues between you and your partner, make a point to work on them before your baby arrives so you can welcome your child into a peaceful home. Take time to devote to your relationship, whether through therapy or counselling, simple open communication or even a baby-moon. A happy couple and a happy home massively increase your chances of having a happy child.

Journal your pregnancy experience

Write about your thoughts and emotions during pregnancy. Aside from the physical changes that accompany pregnancy, explore your ideas around how you want to parent, the relationship you hope to have, and the qualities you expect to foster in your child. Not only will this be interesting to read years from now to see how things panned out, but it will be a wonderful gift for your baby.

Our pregnancy journey impacts our babies in ways that we might find hard to grasp. Babies develop their senses very early on in utero and will be picking up on a lot of your thoughts and experiences. The emotions that you will be experiencing will be affecting your baby in quite profound ways; one of the key reasons to address your emotional wellbeing during pregnancy.

Regularly connect and communicate with your baby

Build a relationship with your baby early on in your pregnancy so that your baby is used to a two-way dialogue and trusts you. During birth, there needs to be trust between the two of you. Trust that you’re both capable and confident of doing what needs to be done and that you can rely on each other. Just as you need to have trust with your partner, trust with your baby is also important.

During my chat with Jane, we talk about much of this.

The conscious welcome for baby

Jane talks about how we can welcome our baby consciously into the world so that we can imprint some positive energy and emotion into our baby at a time when they are very open and vulnerable energetically and emotionally.

  1. Breath down into your heart as soon as baby arrives, and breathe your heart space out to welcome you baby in
  2. Get yourself into a place of calmness in preparing for the moment you hold your baby
  3. Hold eye contact with them meeting them with intention of love. Do this for a good minute or so.
  4. Make sure dad is near or close so they get to see and feel them too

About Jane Jennnings

Jane is an Awakening Soul Doula, energy healer and mentor. For 18 years now Jane has been supporting babies and their families to meet each other in conception, pregnancy and birth.

Every soul that grows within a peaceful family field and receives a gentle conception and birth, contributes to the rising of consciousness for humanity. The quality of how a soul is welcomed, heard and seen, right from the very beginning, matters greatly.

Jane’s wisdom and experience as a healer, means she can hold the whole family field. Each of your family members will be processing their own emotions and what it means to them to welcome a new soul into their lives. At this time of transition, it is likely to evoke many new feelings and apprehensions.

Most families creating the time to explore this pre conception and before birth have a more comfortable journey into parenting and stronger relationship dynamics for the whole family. Jane holds the space and guides each of you to explore what this feels like for you and for your whole family.

www.tobeborn.co.uk

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Jun 22 2017

58mins

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Gentle C-Section, with OB, Andy Simm

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Caesareans are often feared by women going into birth, but there's a new trend coming through that could hope to reduce that somewhat. The gentle c-section otherwise known as the natural caesarean is a much softer approach than the usual surgical ritual.
To help explain what a gentle c-section is I'm being joined by OB Andy Simm from Nottingham City Hospital (my local!). It is Andy who was the OB behind the gentle c-section positive birth story that I shared last season. He's a bit famous around my neck of the woods!

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What is a gentle c-section?
In a gentle c-section, or natural caesarean, the drapes which normally screen the operation from the mother are lowered – so she (and her partner) can actually see the baby being born. The baby is also given time to “wriggle out” of the womb, rather than being instantly lifted out by the obstetrician. The newborn is then placed on the mother’s chest for her to hold, cord intact, instead of being whisked off for weighing and measuring.

To help the mother to have some skin to skin, the ECG wires are taped to her back which means that she is more likely to be able to breastfeed straight away.

All this is quite a departure from what we know c-sections to be like, but it doesn't stop there. A gentle -c-section is also one where the environment of the operating theatre is tweaked to help make it more friendly... lower lights basically!

This women-centred approach has many reported benefits for mother and baby including: improved breastfeeding rates; a better birth experience; increased bonding due to instant mother and baby skin to skin contact; plus reduced risk of lung issues as the extra time allowed pressure from the uterus  to expel liquid from baby's lungs.

Of course, a natural caesarean is not drug-free or risk free – but local anaesthesia is carefully used to ensure the mother is alert and able to hold her baby. This is HUGE!

During our chat we identified a gentle c-section checklist that you can use as part of your birth planning;

lighting and environment (music)
let baby wriggle out on their own
skin to skin
delayed cord clamping
birth narration
seeding the microbiome

About Andy Simm
Andy Simm has worked as a Consultant Obstetrician in Nottingham for 15 years, with interests in diabetes and endocrine disorders in pregnancy and fetal growth disorders. He has a keen interest in management of labour where this deviates from the norm, and promotes the importance of communication, team work and other non technical skills. This has been recognised with both awards from within the Trust and nationally.
Andy has a large obstetric clinical practice, and as College Tutor is responsible for the overall quality of education and training of junior doctors within his unit.
Most recently he has become involved in undertaking the ‘gentle’ caesarean section, with video footage posted on social media websites getting 10 million hits. ‘Gentle’ caesarean is undertaken in a softer environment, with a slower delivery that facilitates autoresuscitation of the baby, namely expulsion of fluid from the fetal lungs, and a gentle transition to breathing in air by undertaking deferred cord clamping. Women are enabled to watch the birth if they wish, and immediate skin to skin contact is facilitated. Demand for the procedure is increasing

Jun 15 2017

46mins

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The Psychology of Pregnancy, with Leah Butler-Smith

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The psychology of pregnancy doesn't often get discussed and I don't know why, so today I'm remedying that.
Pregnancy and the journey of motherhood are such a huge time of change that it's no wonder that there are psychological implications. The thing is, we don't often stop and think about what those might be. In today's episode I'm going to be lifting the lid on the psychology of pregnancy and motherhood so that you can have a better understanding of what might be going on for you. To help me, I'm joined by Leah Butler-Smith who is a therapist and a coach as well as being a mum of three. Leah had a very successful practice in London's Harley Street and has worked with many women on the whole motherhood spectrum. This includes from fertility and miscarriage to overcoming pregnancy fears and birth recovery.

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The Psychology of Pregnancy
Many women approach pregnancy and birth with very little if any preparation and assume that they can just take it in their stride. This might work for some, but given the seismic changes that are involved in becoming a mother, it's worth taking some time to doing some preparation. Going from being an individual with no responsibility for anyone other than yourself to becoming a parent has its own set of challenges and adjustments to overcome. Add pregnancy and birth to the equation and you've got a mighty cocktail of craziness right there.

During our chat, Leah shares some interesting insights into the psychology of pregnancy and birth that might very well help you to unpick what is going on for you. Leah talks a lot about how our irrational mind is responsible for our beliefs and fears. She explains how those beliefs and fears may have been implanted in the first place, which is very interesting to listen to. I work with this stuff all the time so while it's not new to me, I still find it super fascinating!

Leah also talks about her experience of working with women on the fertility journey. She talks about how, in her experience, fears play a huge role in our ability to become and stay pregnant. Leah shares stories of women she's worked with who, once they've worked on the mind and the fears and anxieties at play, are able to then go on to be pregnant. Certainly worth a listen for that alone!
Managing pain with the mind
You will have already heard me talk quite a length about how pain is a mental thing and how we can manage our ability to cope with pain by using the mind. Well, Leah bangs this drum to. During our chat, she shares a brilliant technique for managing pain during labour and birth.
FREE download
During our chat, Leah mentioned a free download that she was creating. To get hold of the download CLICK HERE.
About Leah Butler-Smith
Leah Butler-Smith wittily refers to herself as a ‘Rapid Transformation Specialist’ who has a ‘particular set of skills’ (think the popular movie, Taken LOL). Having worked with celebs, creatives, sports personalities, entrepreneurial business owners including a few Billionaires. Since the late 90’s, her experience and knowledge is surpassed only by her constant enthusiasm for helping others. Her many skills include being awarded the title of Senior Hypnotherapist - one of the first awarded by the GHSC, Advanced Psychotherapist, Analytical Hypnotherapy, NLP Trainer, TFT Practitioner combined with the latest proven techniques Havening, EMDR and EFT. She now fills any spare time with studies in Neuroscience, Bio-Medicine and any other research that supports her members & private clients.

You can get access to Leah in person inside her newly formed community inside Facebook. There you’ll get regular tips for improving your mindset, learning NLP & other techniques proven that will help you improve your mindset, overcome challenges, build your confidence and support your business growth.

You can also get a Free Coaching Guide at WWW.LEAHBUTLERSMITH.COM

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Jun 08 2017

53mins

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Placenta Encapsulation, with Maria Pokluda & Maryn Taylor

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Placenta encapsulation might not be something you know too much about. So, I thought it was about time I covered this on the podcast because many women report that placenta encapsulation can help them emotionally in the postpartum period.
Consuming your placenta (placentophagy) is undergoing a bit of revival at the moment. So, who better to have on the podcast than two placenta queens, Maria Pokluda and Maryn Taylor who run their own Placenta Encapsulation business in Dallas Fort Worth, Texas

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Some view this as a way of celebrating the placenta's significance as well as promoting postpartum physical and mental health. Placenta encapsulation is becoming a popular method of preparing the placenta for consumption.  What this basically means is creating capsules that are a bit like tablets for you to take with a drink. The other way of consuming the placenta is through placenta smoothies which, apparently is not as bad as it may sound.
Placenta encapsulation
If placenta encapsulation sounds appealing to you, discuss your plans with your midwife or doula during your pregnancy. Ensure that it is highlighted as part of your birth plan. Be clear that you wish to keep your placenta.  If you don't feel up to the job right away, you can freeze your placenta until you are ready to process it. A specialist can come to your home, process your placenta and produce the capsules for you. Or you can have a go of this yourself. There are plenty of articles about this online so you can research the subject at your leisure.

There is limited evidence when it comes to placenta encapsulation, but what there is in bucket loads are testimonials and anecdotal evidence with mothers report lots of benefits from consuming their placenta during the postpartum period, including;

more breast milk
more balanced feelings
more energy

The only thing that I could find in terms of evidence was this.

During our chat, we talk about

when to book your placenta encapsulation
what your options are
what the process is
placenta traditions
umbilical cord art
About the Placenta Queens
MARIA POKLUDA: Maria has prepared more than 700 placentas. Doula since 2007.  Mom of four. Owner of Great Expectations Birth Professional Doula Services. Creator of BEST Doula Training Voted Best Doula in North Texas six years in a row.
MARYN TAYLOR: Marin has prepared more than 400 placentas. Birth pool distributor since 2012.  Mom of three. Owner of Buoyant Birth - Birth Pool Rentals & Sales

Jun 01 2017

33mins

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A tokophobia birth story; Cee Fee’s Positive Birth

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Today I'm sharing a fabulous positive birth story on the podcast. It's fabulous because it's positive and empowering birth, obviously. But also because it's a tokophobia birth story.
I'm joined today by Cee Fee Dunn who admits to being completely terrified of pregnancy and birth. Cee Fee and her husband had decided that they wanted to have children, so when she found out she was pregnant, she was excited for sure, but she was also filled with dread. The dread stayed with her pretty much throughout her whole pregnancy.
Cee Fee's tokophobia birth story is also worth listening to, and not just for women who are terrified of birth. Her birth did not go to plan and the birth she had, was not the birth she wanted. Things changed. But, despite all this, Cee Fee was able to roll with it and still feel in control of HOW things unfolded and WHAT happened. And this is important. We can't guarantee how our births will go, but being well-informed and savvy can help to ensure you experience your birth as positive, no matter what happens. And surely, that's the ultimate goal.
Tokophobia Birth Story
During our chat, Cee Fee shares:

The strategies she used to keep her fear under control, and ultimately reduce it sufficiently to be able to embrace her birth experience
How she prepared for her birth
How she dealt with her fears instead of doing actual fear-clearance
What she felt as a tokophobic during her pregnancy
How she feels her hormones contributed to her level of fear
Who she had on her birth team
How it feels to have an epidural, and how it affected her birth
What she did to adapt and stay positive during the birth

It's such a great tokophobia birth story that I hope that it inspires you if you're tokophobic.
About Cee Fee Dun
Cee Fee is A Personal Trainer, Health Coach and Nutritional Consultant who has spent the last decade working both one to one and with communities empowering women to take ownership of their own ability for self-care. Her absolute passion derives from her own recovery having suffered most of her adolescent life with disordered eating and poor body image and personal demons anxiety and depression. From anorexia to compulsive binge eating and bulimia, from dangerously thin to several stone overweight. Her skill set has been developed alongside her own long-lasting recovery to health.

She works with her clients rebuilding relationships with food and body image. ESPECIALLY after pregnancy. Preparation for pregnancy, pre and postnatally is where she truly comes into her own. Supporting women as they venture into motherhood. She could not be more emphatic about support during this time.

Alongside her business based in Windsor and South Bucks, she is also a dedicated online coach, writer and life style presenter who has contributed to magazines such as Body Fit and presented and written for BBC Radio One.

She lives with her 11month old baby boy Rocco and her gorgeous husband Remo in Buckinghamshire.

You can follow most of her weekly antics, recipes, nutritional tips and exercise tutorials via ceefeedunn.com where there are links to all her social media platforms and her blog featuring her own journey during her pregnancy or follow her directly on Instagram for daily blogs and stories, facebook for training tips and recipes, Youtube for vlogs, Snap chat ceefeedunn for more cooking tips, question and answer time and community support
Do you think you have tokophobia?
If you think you have tokophobia and would like to overcome it, I've pulled together a free email series that helps you to think through your options. You can sign up for that right here.

May 25 2017

1hr 25mins

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Essential Oils in Pregnancy, with Amber Duncan

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Using essential oils in pregnancy can be a bit of a minefield. There is so much confusion as to what you can and can't use that it can be stressful. So I knew I had to do an episode on it!
To help me tackle this subject, I'm being joined by Amber Duncan, who is a clinical aromatherapist. But not only that, but she is also a mama of three, so she's pretty familiar with the pregnancy and birth journey. She works a lot with pregnant mamas so I knew she would be ideal to have on the show.
Essential Oils in Pregnancy
If you've thought about using essential oils in pregnancy, then this is probably pretty familiar to you. Women just don't know what is safe and what is not, and so often avoid using them altogether. Midwives often avoid recommending essential oils in pregnancy because they are confused too and so they prefer to avoid the subject altogether. Essential oils can have great benefits when pregnant providing the right ones are used in the right way.

During our chat, Amber covers quite a bit, including;

Why you need to avoid using a diffuser during labour
What support you can expect from using essential oils in pregnancy
Typical pregnancy symptoms that essential oils can help with
Which carrier oils to use - including one that you probably haven't heard of before
How to dilute essential oils to a safe level
What to pack in your birth or hospital bag
How to prepare your essential oils that you might want to use during labour, including a great hack
Why you need to avoid topical EO applications immediately post birth

One thing that's a bit scary or overwhelming when it comes to using essential oils in pregnancy is knowing what to avoid. So Amber has rather helpfully, provided me with a list of

Essential oils to avoid
Essential oils to use with care during pregnancy

(I’m sorry but this free guide is no longer available.  If you are looking for super useful resources such as this then join the Fearless Mama Ship. Find out more here.)

About Amber Duncan
Amber Duncan is the proud owner of Holistic Health Helper, LLC based out of Dayton and the sole instructor for The Apothecary Institute. As a Clinical Aromatherapist, she makes it her mission to educate others on the safe use of essential oils. She does this by offering many classes, workshops and seminars.  These educational opportunities are available in person, via Skype and online.

Amber is the NAHA Regional Director for southern Ohio and also has written for their quarterly journal.  In 2016 she was invited to speak at the NAHA national conference which took place this October in Utah. Amber has also been interviewed for articles in various publications including one with Massage Mag, as well as being invited to various speaking engagements including this 2016's SOFT Conference held in Tacoma, Washington.

Most recently she decided to add herbal studies to her repertoire and began a course to become a Master Herbalist. She knows this enhanced knowledge of the whole plant will only further allow her to best help those coming to her with questions.  She is excited to share this knowledge with everyone including her local clients in Dayton, Ohio.

When not helping others better understand essential oils she is raising her three children with the help of her loving husband. She works with the kids in a home-school format to help them better learn about the things around us.  Such as plants, animals, and how we fit in; so that they can feel comfortable with their knowledge of the world and who they are in it.

May 18 2017

59mins

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Recurrent Miscarriage, with Naava Carman

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Today on the podcast I'm tackling yet another important - but not talked enough about - topic; the recurrent miscarriage. Baby loss is taboo enough as it is, but recurrent miscarriage is even more so, and neither should be.
To help me, I'm joined by Naava Carman, who specialises in working with women who experience a recurrent miscarriage through her clinic in London. Naava blends Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) with the Western approach to medicine to help women on their fertility journey.
Recurrent Miscarriage
The term recurrent miscarriage is defined as the loss of three of more pregnancies. If this is your situation then I please just let me give you a big hug. This is one situation where I find myself at a loss for words because I simply cannot imagine how hard it must be. Any talk that suggests hope feels a little crass because I'm all too aware of the emotional weight that rests on the pregnancy outcome. But when I spoke to Naava, I did find myself thinking about how her work does offer hope to women on such a journey. But not wishy-washy hope; a hope of a more practical nature with a rooting in science. Her work blending traditional Chinese Medicine with the Western approach certainly sounds like a fresh approach that is bringing results to many, so much so that Naava's reputation precedes her.
FREE DOWNLOAD
I'm sorry but this free guide is no longer available.  If you are looking for super useful resources such as this then join the Fearless Mama Ship. Find out more here.
About Naava Carman
Naava Carman is a fully qualified member of the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine and of the British Acupuncture Council. She founded The Fertility Support Company in 2006, and has been in practice for almost twenty years.  She is a highly experienced fertility, gynaecological and obstetric acupuncturist and herbalist, and is also a Recognised Doula (birthing assistant) and Doula Mentor with Doula UK.
Naava specialises in using acupuncture as part of an innovative method of treating gynaecological and fertility problems, combining Traditional Chinese Medicine with Western diagnostic techniques and Western medicine. Her Fertility Support System, which is a three-month programme, is designed to tackle the underlying causes of infertility and helps men and women to enhance their chances of conception naturally and in conjunction with IVF and IUI.
Acupuncture is ideal for rebalancing hormones, inducing ovulation and preparing the body for a natural or assisted conception. It can also help a patient to manage and overcome distressing symptoms and can be used through pregnancy, working to help prevent miscarriage and treat symptoms such as morning sickness and lower back pain. Men can also be treated to help increase their sperm count and the quality of sperm produced. Her areas of speciality include the treatment of Recurrent Miscarriage, PCOS, Endometriosis and Poor Sperm Motility.
Naava says, “Many of my patients have been told that they will never conceive – even with IVF or IUI – but often this is not the case. Medically, they may run out of options, but acupuncture combined with Chinese Herbal Medicine, nutrition and lifestyle changes can and does result in the impossible becoming very possible indeed.” 
The Fertility Support Company
www.fertilitysupportcompany.co.uk
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May 11 2017

37mins

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Being pregnant with PTSD

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This week it's maternal Mental Health Matters Awareness Week here in the UK and to honour it, I'm delighted to be talking to Susanne Grant about being pregnant with PTSD, birth trauma or baby loss.
Not long ago Susanne found herself pregnant with PTSD as a result of her own abuse experiences. Her journey in overcoming her PTSD is something that she is very open about and it's what inspired her to work with women in this area.

Being pregnant with PTSD or with other trauma that may be from baby loss or a previous birth is not easy. Susanne's story not only promises hope to those who have are facing this experience but also actual direct help.

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Here's Susanne story of being pregnant with PTSD in her own words.

"Because of my own childhood experiences (including abuse), which had led to me being diagnosed with PTSD at the age of 17. I specialised in trauma and human behaviour through university, I think it somehow made me understand what happened to me better. As I saw others heal, step by step, I knew that I could too! I just needed to find out how. I had different therapists, tried EMDR (didn’t work for my type of trauma), and so on.

When I became pregnant, for some reason, that I still not understand to this day, my pregnancy triggered my past. The nightmares started again. I was having panic attacks and my body ached all over. For whatever reason my body and mind were reliving my past traumas and illnesses.

My midwife suggested going back into therapy, but I told her no. I did not want to go through all of it for the fourth time. In hindsight, that was a mistake as a few days before giving birth I started to freak out. I didn’t want to be in this world, I hated being alive, and now I was bringing a life into this world. What was I thinking?!

My birth was a great experience, even though the fear created more tension than necessary, it was a positive experience. Over the next few months my triggers became a bit more frequent as I was tired and alone in a country without family or friends to help. It was challenging to say the least.

After my pregnancy, I realised that – even though my midwives did their absolute best to try to support me – some of them still tried to guess their way through it. I realised what I had to offer this world, is what I needed the most myself; healing of my past. I remember thinking ‘If we can fly to Mars, I could heal my PTSD right? You know, on the scale of things’. I tried everything I could think off, I asked for help, reached out and slowly but steady my trauma started to shift.

But it wasn’t until I dealt with what was underneath of it all, I started to really heal. The healing I found is incredible. Not only do I not get triggered anymore, I am even feeling grateful for the experience. Because – as it turns out – it made me such a great birth & healing coach!

That’s why I am sharing my story. Healing after birth trauma is possible. For you, for me, for everyone. Just don’t give up before you found something that works for you!"
Resources
During our chat, Susanne shared some resources that you might want to check out

Penny Simkin - When Survivors Give Birth

Birth Trauma Association

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About Susanne Grant
Susanne is an International Hypnobirthing & Healing coach who specialises in working with women who are pregnant with PTSD, birth trauma & body issues. She coaches clients around the world to heal (sexual) abuse & trauma as well as prior traumatic births.

While pregnant, Susanne’s experience of child abuse put her on a different road of care from her team of midwives. This gave her a new mission in life and she is now helping others to heal wounds from the past too. Having been diagnosed with PTSD at 17, she knows firsthand how challenging this can be.

To find out more about her work you can visit her website or find her on Facebook.

Access to Susanne's Free Ebook, Hypnobirthing Course and Heal Yourself Workshop
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May 04 2017

41mins

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How to have a happy birth, with Beverley Turner

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On today's podcast I'm joined by journalist and radio presenter (and now best-selling author!) Beverley Turner. Bev is also the lady behind The Happy Birth Club ante-natal classes that are run out of a pub in Chiswick, London.
I first heard Bev speak at the IMUK (Independent Midwives UK) conference last year where she spoke about The Happy Birth Club ante-natal classes that she runs alongside a dream team of birth professionals. When I heard her speak I knew I wanted to get her on the podcast to talk more about it. I've got a bit of a thing about childbirth education and it's this; it's so damn flakey!

If you seek out the free birth education option in your community it's usually run out of the hospital or local maternity unit, which by definition means that you're more likely to learn about the medicalised view of birth. This in itself is a very narrow perspective on birth so you will miss out on lots of important information that can help you to prepare.

The travesty here is that we actually NEED to seek out this information and education. Surely we should come out of school with a basic knowledge of childbirth that goes beyond the usual let's-put-teenage-girls-off-pregnancy-and-show them-the-scary-shit version. But we don't. So when we're pregnant, it's up to us to get off our bumps and educate ourselves.
Happy Birth Club classes
When Bev decided to create her classes, she made a point of seeking out the best in class, which admittedly, is probably easier in London than in other locations around the world, but at least it shows what can be achieved when taken seriously and done well. At £350 for a couple, it might not be the most affordable option for everyone, but that pales into in significance when compared to how much a happy birth is worth... and what you'd spend on other big days of your life like your wedding for example. You can never spend too much preparing for your birth, especially if it improves your chances of coming out the other end with a positive birth experience... and more importantly avoiding a difficult or traumatic birth and the horrid consequences such as post-natal depression.

During my chat with Bev she talks through the things they share as part of her classes, but we also talk about a load of other stuff. Given that we're both into birth the conversation does indeed wander...

What started her interest in birth
Bev shares her perspective on the midwifery situation that is affecting women in the UK at the moment
Why she wanted to write her book The Happy Birth Book
Why she feels that women are made to "aim low" in birth and why this is wrong
But, why aiming low in parenting is totally acceptable
Her advice for pregnant mamas who want to have a happy birth

And more...

I hope you enjoy it!
About Beverley Turner
I became a birth junkie after my son was born ten years ago and have spent much of that time writing, campaigning and talking about birth and parenthood as a journalist and broadcaster.  For pregnant women, knowledge is power. Honest, supportive ante-natal education in a fabulous location alongside other growing bumps is the best way to begin the craziest journey of your life. When I am not drinking tea with my beautiful Blooming Bunch, I write a weekly Daily Telegraph column; campaign for better maternity services for all women and look after my kids (10, 5 & 3). I am so proud of The Happy Birth Club: there are no rules, no embarrassment and no finger-wagging – but laughter is obligatory.

To find out more about the Happy Birth Club:  website and Facebook.

The buy The Happy Birth Book on Amazon UK

Apr 27 2017

42mins

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Save the midwife

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It's time for a rallying cry "Save the midwife!". I've talked about this already on the podcast, but this week, I'm giving it focus. Save the midwife is a campaign that needs support and not just here in the UK, and not just by midwives.

This is a family issue that affects birthing women directly.
When we hear talk of the oldest profession in the world, many mistakenly think of prostitution - thanks in part to Rudyard Kipling - but that would be wrong. What did society need first? Food? Shelter? Safety? Help birthing our young? Or an outlet for sexually frustrated men? Hmmm....

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Midwifery is one of those professions that is as old as we are and appears alongside other professions who perform human rituals. And yet, today in the UK, the profession is being chip chipped away. This makes me mad. VERY mad. Since the begining of time, midwives have been supporting women during their rite of passage from maiden to mother. This transition isn't always an easy one for women, and yet the presence of midwives can be the difference that makes the difference. A difficult, challenging experience can become an empowering, powerful emergence for a woman when she is supported by her midwife.
Midwifery under threat
Believe it or not the very esssence of midwifery is under threat here in the UK. Unfortunately, many countries around the world look to the UK on midwifery matters, so what happens here counts. I dedicated the first podcast in the current series to independent midwives because I wanted to show support for their plight which kicked off just before Christmas last year. In a nutsell: the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) announced that the insurance level that independent midwives have in place is not sufficient. Although unhelpfully, they have never stated the level of insurance that IS adequate. This resulted in all independent midwives here in the UK being banned from attending births. This meant that women who had hired an independent midwife for their birth now had no-one to support them. So not only did independent midwives suddenlty find themselves without work, but women found themselves without important support. What makes this so shocking is that independent midwives are typically hired by women who feel they need the extra support.
Why hire an independent midwife?
Many people mistakenly believe that independent midwives are a superfluous requirement for women. But that is simply not the case. Here are some reasons that a woman would want to hire an independent midwife.
You want guaranteed continuity of care
This means you want the same midwife (team) to support you throughout your pregnancy, AND be present at your birth and support you during the post-partum period. Here in the UK, it is not guaranteed that the midwife who supports you during your birth will be the same one that you have met with during your pregnancy. The midwife who attends your birth will depend on the available midwives who are on shift. Also, depending on when the shift changes take place, your midwives might change during your labour.
You had a difficult or traumatic previous birth
Understandably, you're worried about your upcoming birth and need the extra support an independent midwife can offer you. Independent midwives can spend much longer with you during your pregnancy to help you prepare as much as possible.
You want to give yourself the best chance of a positive birth
Continuity of care is shown to improve birth outcomes; reduction in stilborn rates, reduction in miscarriages, reduction in pain levels experienced by women, shorter labours
You want to know the person who will support you at your birth
Birth is a big deal and so it makes sense that you want to know who will be there to support you. But knowing them isn't always enough. Trust is important too. Some women don't want to have to worry about whether the midwife who turns up is going to be right for her, and understandably so.

Apr 20 2017

39mins

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Pregnancy as a rite of passage, with Charlotte Kanyi

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Our pregnancy journey has the potential to be one of the most transformative and expansive periods in our lives, and I don't just mean in terms of our body! The opportunity for personal growth is huge, and yet this important rite of passage is not always widely accepted or appreciated for what it is.

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When I think back to my own experiences of miscarriage and birth, I'm in awe of the journey I've been on, and it's so obvious to me now that being pregnant was both the start and the trigger. When I miscarried and realised that it was relief that I felt, I knew then that I had some stuff to resolve, which I then tackled head-on for about a year. I was rewarded with a pay-off, because the next time I found out I was pregnant, I was delighted (instead of being in a bad state of shock). But, staying pregnant came with its own set of emotional challenges for me; I had to face my blood-curdling fears. Well I did, and was rewarded yet again; this time with an incredible birth experience.

As motherhood took hold, the lessons and opportunity for growth continued and to be honest I don't think they ever stop. Once you start on this journey, it's not like you ever reach The Destination; it's never-ending. So of course, my second pregnancy pushed me even more. The lessons and challenges I had overcome for my first pregnancy, came back but from a slightly different angle. I had to go deeper and be more thorough in my inner work, something which I couldn't have done the first time, but that felt quite natural and do-able as I faced them this time around.

I share that with you because, it seems I'm not alone in having this kind of rite of passage experience. The universe gives us what we can handle, but we don't always step up. If we don't, we just get stuck wrestling with the same old crap on repeat.

In today's podcast, I'm joined by Charlotte who tells a similar rite of passage story and I think it's one worth hearing because hopefully it will wake you up to your story of growth. Things will always come up. In order for us to grow and evolve as human beings, we have to continue to move through our issues, and when you become pregnant, you are preparing yourself in every way - mind, body and soul - to transition into the next phase of your life. But are you open to that?
Are you prepared for the rite of passage that is pregnancy?
The transition from free woman to mother is massive and issues are bound to come up for you. Open your arms to them. Welcome them. It's normal and everyone has it. Whatever comes up has to be embraced and dealt with - sooner rather than later. The more you face up to your stuff, the more you lighten your load and the easier your birth will be.

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More Information
Find out more about Charlotte Kanyi from Birth Essence.
Charlotte's Facebook group
Blog post on NPa
Free Fear Release Guided Visualisation.

For information specifically about the tools that Charlotte mentioned
The JOURNEY
NPA The Non Personal Awareness Process
The Compassion Key

Apr 13 2017

57mins

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