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Health & Fitness

Fear Free Childbirth Podcast with Alexia Leachman

Updated 5 days ago

Education
Kids & Family
Alternative Health
Self-Improvement
Health & Fitness
Read more

Taking The Fear Out Of Birth

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Taking The Fear Out Of Birth

iTunes Ratings

55 Ratings
Average Ratings
36
5
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This podcast features incredibly sexist and outdated ideas backed up without science.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

55 Ratings
Average Ratings
36
5
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This podcast features incredibly sexist and outdated ideas backed up without science.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.
Cover image of Fear Free Childbirth Podcast with Alexia Leachman

Fear Free Childbirth Podcast with Alexia Leachman

Updated 5 days ago

Read more

Taking The Fear Out Of Birth

Rank #1: 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
50 mins
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Rank #2: 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
27 mins
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Rank #3: 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
34 mins
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Rank #4: 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
42 mins
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Rank #5: 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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Rank #6: 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
27 mins
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Rank #7: 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
1 hour 3 mins
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Rank #8: 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
58 mins
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Rank #9: 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
27 mins
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Rank #10: 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
39 mins
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Rank #11: 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
49 mins
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Rank #12: Lisa’s Fearless Birthing Story

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Today, I’m super thrilled to be able to share with you a positive birth story with a difference. It’s different because Lisa prepared for her birth using Fearless Birthing so it's the first it's the first Fearless Birthing story. I’ll be doing a podcast next week on Fearless Birthing so you can find out more about it then, but here’s a quick overview;

Fearless Birthing is a birth preparation approach that I’ve developed that is entirely focused on helping mama (and dad) to clear their fears so that they can approach birth fear free. A fearless mama will be much better able to stay present and connected to her body and her baby during labour. By developing her emotional resilience before birth, she is also much better placed to respond flexibly to the demands of labour, and so improve the chances of her having a positive birth experience.

The technique at the heart of Fearless Birthing offers a direct and focused fear-clearance action that works deeply and quickly to clear fears from the mind and body. In removing the mental distractions and helping the mama develop trust in her body’s ability to birth her baby, the power of the birthing body can be allowed to take over.
Lisa's Fearless Birthing Story
Lisa is a careers advisor and first time mum, and she describes herself as someone who was extremely fearful of giving birth and even went as far as to say she was phobic about it (a fear of childbirth is known as tokophobia). She couldn’t even bring herself to imagine how life might be beyond birth because she simply couldn’t contemplate birth or how she was actually going to get through it. It was like a big dark cloud hanging over her pregnancy.

When she first found out she was pregnant, Lisa heard about the work I was doing around pregnancy and birth and got in touch to see if I could help. I was in the early days of developing Fearless Birthing so I asked her to let me know what her fears were so that I could create something that could help. I’d already been collecting pregnancy fears from women that I’d been helping and it didn’t surprise me to see that Lisa’s fears were very common and ones that I had come across already. So I shared with her one of my early Fearless Birthing Meditations.

I didn’t realise how much she had listened to it or indeed how much it had helped her, so speaking to her was a real treat for me. During our chat Lisa shares…

how she managed to turn her fears around and embrace birth. Truly wonderful!
hypnobirthing; why she didn’t like it and why it didn’t work for her
how meditating helped her during her super-stressful pregnancy (she moved twice!)
why her husband banned her from watching One Born Every Minute during her pregnancy
how her attitude shift around pain and making friends with it helped her to embrace birth

Since our chat, Lisa has also blogged about her experience of breastfeeding by writing a lovely letter to her son, Dylan. It's a bit of a tearjerker as it's so beautiful... have a read here > Feeling upset over not breastfeeding turned out to be a huge waste of time.
Some of the resources mentioned during our chat include

Tell me a good birth story
Neutrality - clearing the excess negative emotional energy around something
Petition for the media to portray childbirth in a more balanced way
If you're interested in finding out how to clear your fears Fearless Birthing style, then sign up for my FREE 3 part video training series below.
I hope that listening to Lisa's story was helpful and inspiring. Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Nov 12 2015
42 mins
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Rank #13: 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
53 mins
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Rank #14: 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
49 mins
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Rank #15: 30 reasons why I love being pregnant

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When you're pregnant, the emotional ups and downs that come from having a boost in your crazy hormones can mean that there are days when being pregnant just sucks. Or, there are days when you're just DONE with it. Let me have this baby already!

Towards the end of my second pregnancy, this was definitely where my head was at and I knew it wasn't a good place to stay for very long. Feeling frustrated and stressed is OK in short bursts, but if it seems like it's lurking and lingering then it needs attention. For me, towards the end of my pregnancy I was just getting fed up with lots of little tiny things that on their own are nothing; but together felt like crap and I realised that I just need to shift my thinking a bit so that I wouldn't get as frustrated by it all. So I decided to turn to an exercise that I use quite a bit with my Head Trash Clearance clients. It's super simple....

When you're feeling affected by something that you're perceiving to be negative (because remember, things aren't ACTUALLY bad, we just THINK they're bad), then all you need to do is this; come up with 30 reasons why the thing you think is bad, IS GOOD. Or to put it another way, Think of 30 reasons why you love this thing that you hate.

What's great about this exercise is that is can very quickly change your thinking. Why? Well for starters...

you're focusing on the positive aspect of something
you're actively searching for positive things about this thing
30 is quite a big number and you'll probably find it hard, so it pushes you to be creative, silly and open-minded
you drop assumptions about things to hit your target, assumptions which might turn out to be silly and pointless, but you held onto them anyway and perhpas now you realise how silly they are

I started with all of the things that were winding me up and tried to turn them on their head. In doing so, it made me look for the possible positive aspect within it... and for many of them, it turned out that I was able to hold on to that view in the weeks that followed. It really helped me to stay calm when faced with those things that previoulsy wound me up... I just wish I had done it sooner! Before those things got to the wind-me-up stage!

The truth was that most of the time I'd put my hand on heart and say that "I love being pregnant" but sure, there were days when I didn't.. and I just wanted to make sure that the "I love being pregnant" vibe was the one that was sounding the loudest to my baby.

So here are my 30 reasons why I love being pregnant.... hopefully some of these resonate with you too!
30 reasons why I LOVE being pregnant
1. Enjoy the daily awe-inspiring feeling that comes from knowing that you're growing a life-form inside you.
2. Appreciate other women who feel an immediate connection to you and come over and make conversation... and enjoy those conversations as the precious moments they are.
3. Have the perfect excuse to slum about in slip-on flats, baggy tops and leggings.
4. Amuse at other people touching your body/bump without invitation... and yet enjoy the fact that it's not a sexual pervy thing.. FOR ONCE!
5. Have the perfect excuse to EAT WHAT YOU WANT!!!! IN THE QUANTITY YOU WANT!! No - I didn't deprive myself of the usual pregnancy no-go foods - apart from mussels and pate. I gave my body and baby what they wanted.
6. Appreciate the forced slowness in movement that, gives you a new perspective when out walking.
7. Indulge in developing your hermit qualities.... necessary side effect of needing to be within 20 yards of a toilet.
8. Have an excuse for whiskers on your legs.. as cats do, we pregnant women need them to see if we can get through the gap.
9. Enjoy the lack of guilt that comes from not bothering with the housework or cleaning... too difficult/tiring/painful/dangerous.
10. Wallowing in the good feeling that comes from knowing that you're being super healthy, and your body LOVES you for it!
11.
Aug 07 2015
25 mins
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Rank #16: 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
20 mins
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Rank #17: 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
59 mins
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Rank #18: 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
1 hour 2 mins
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Rank #19: 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
58 mins
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Rank #20: Taking responsibility for your birth

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In today's episode I want to talk about taking responsibility and share with you something that happened to me last week that was a huge wake-up call. It's not exactly birth related but it is ...

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Last week I had a minor op. I thought it would be this no big deal. They were OK with me walking home afterwards so I thought I'd be able to carry on with normal life afterwards. How wrong I was! The day after the op I crashed into a painful and depressed state. The anaesthetic had worn off and I slowly came to the realisation that I had been slightly traumatised by my experience. There were 6 people in theatre with me and the lady who was meant to be there keping tabs on me just wasn't that interested and kept walking off. Looking in, it certainly didn't look like a traumatic experience, and I'm using the word trauma with tiny T, but it affected me that's for sure. As I was lying there for 25 minutes being worked on I couldn't help thinking about birth (I'd asked for a drape like in c-sections), and in the days that followed the similarities continued.

I wasn't prepared for this. I didn't really do any research about the procedure I was having. I thought I could just "go with the flow" and that "it would be fine". And it would've been, had I prepared for it. If I'd done my research, I would have ben prepared psychologically for my experience. I would have planned for being bed ridden and AWOL in my head for a week. Instead I was trying to continue with normal life - work, client sessions and household duties. I was failing and this was making me feel even more crap. My inspiration during this low period was Catherine Holland. If you don't know her story listen to my podcast chats with her. She died and came back - awful bike crash. During her recovery she didn't even use painkillers. All last week, I was thinking, "if Catherine can do it, I can!" I only took 4 paracetamol all week! (< my version of Catherine's hardcoreness!).
Why taking responsibility matters
I can't help think about the similarities with birth. Those women who don't prepare and who don't do their research are the ones who suffer and have the shitty experiences. One thought kept making me angry last week "Why didn't they warn me I'd me like this?" Well guess what Lex? Your health and wellbeing is YOUR responsbility, not theirs. Just as in birth. Don't hand over to the health care professionals thinking they've got your back. They have, but only to a certain extent. You need to meet them half way. You need to take responsbility too. And when it comes to health this means doing your homework and preparing. It means getting savvy on what your about to go through and understanding the facts and the practical consequences. It means making psychological preparations. For me I had to learn that it was ok to be weak and depend on others (not easy for me!).

I can't believe I let this happen to me. With the work that I do around birth how could I have been so naive? And yet, this happens to women all the time when it comes to birth. Intelligent, proactive, responsible, empowered women still rock up to birth with the "i'll be fine, I'll go with the flow" attitude and it crushes them.

Please don't be one of those.

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Apr 06 2017
16 mins
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