As a Pregnancy Yoga specialist I spend a lot of time talking about the pelvic floor.
The pelvic floor works together with the core (transverse abdominis) to bring support to your posture and stability to your pelvis and spine. You can activate (tone) your core and pelvic floor by simply breathing correctly which can be done safely throughout pregnancy and also as soon as baby has been born.
These two muscle groups are also essential in assisting the uterus during labour. Normally they work together - however, when it comes to birthing a baby, they need to work separately. The core muscles will assist the uterus during the natural expulsive reflex - but the pelvic floor needs to relax to help baby ease their way down the birth path.
As a HypnoBirthing Educator, my students are trained to work with their core, allow their uterus to do its job (which it does without any of your conscious control), whilst simultaneously letting the pelvic floor relax independently. I teach a breathing technique that helps expectant Mums connect in with this process and condition their body and breath in preparation for birth and they practice this daily during their pregnancy. Correct, optimal breathwork and muscle relaxation takes practice to feel normal and natural.
DO NOT WAIT until birth to learn this!
HypnoBirthing is based on science and physiology and teaches you about how the body, mind and breath work during labour and birth. Having a partner who understands this too means you are working as a team. Birthing a baby is hard work - and women need the right support. Unfortunately the modern way of birth management (hospital policies and procedures) does not fully support the whole mind/body connection thing.
DO NOT WAIT until birth to learn this!
The promise from HypnoBirthing is that you'll learn tools and techniques (just like the one mentioned above), so they become a toolkit of skills for you and your partner to use no matter how birth unfolds. If the name 'HypnoBirthing' puts you off - learn about what hypnosis actually is. It's simply a state of mind, much like meditation. Except we add in a thing called 'suggestion' and that's where the magic happens.
If we truly believe that birth is normal and natural, then on a very deep level the entire body will relax and allow birth to unfold in the way that is right for our baby. Just like our physical body needs time to train for an endurance event, so does our mental body - our mind.
DO NOT WAIT until birth to learn this!
As a doula, I accompany my HypnoBirthing students into their birth space and help support them both physically and emotionally. It is an honour and a privilege to help couples who prepare and condition themselves to bring their baby into the world feeling empowered and in control.
If you are researching where and how to learn about HypnoBirthing, make sure to enquire if the practitioner is an official Gold Seal HypnoBirthing International practitioner, affiliated with the HypnoBirthing Institute and qualified to teach HypnoBirthing - The Mongan Method.
The Gold Seal Approval assures the general public that the practitioner is of the highest standing and has passed their certification review and has agreed to the Codes of Ethics and Standards as set out by the HypnoBirthing® Institute. It is the most comprehensive program available and as such is recognised as the leading program here in Australia.
Practitioners are taught that sessions with a client is over a five week period, face to face with a timeline of 2.5 hours per session. When a mother is close to her due time, flexibility is available. We DO NOT routinely offer weekend courses or offer this program in an online format.
Acquiring HypnoBirthing skills takes time.
DO NOT WAIT until birth to learn this!
I get to meet some seriously good people in my line of work. I always have a joke that anyone who practices yoga - or learns about hypnobirthing - is a good person and a good friend to have. Never has this been more true than when I met Erin and Bryn. They approached me early in pregnancy to book in for a HypnoBirthing course and they joined five other couples to learn the tools and techniques they would need for the big journey ahead. They also asked me about my doula service, but I was unfortunately unavailable for their birthing time. I sensed they really needed some extra support so I put them in touch with a student midwife who has previously completed my hypnobirthing course and has birthed two sons using the techniques.
Erin faced a few hurdles along the way. Diagnosed with gestational diabetes, her labour started with spontaneous release of membranes at 37 weeks - just one day after she had finished her Yoga for Birth program with me!! With no other signs of labour, the risk of infection grew over the following days, so she opted for induction and antibiotics. With the subsequent constant monitoring she remained calm and focused and made an important decision to allow a monitor to be clipped to baby’s head - and was able to achieve her desired waterbirth. This is what hypnobirthing is all about .... learning about your options, asking the right questions, and making important decisions to ensure the best possible outcome.
As you will read from Erin's story, the preparation she put in, the great decisions she made and the SUPPORT she received were crucial in the successful and positive outcome of a journey that took a few twists and turns!
"Hi Carrie, it's been a week since we held our little man in our arms for the first time! We've been living in a blissful baby bubble and we've been embracing every moment
Last Thursday night we had just fallen asleep when I woke to my waters releasing. Frantically Bryn rushed downstairs to install the baby car seat while I called the hospital and let them know we were going to wait for contractions to begin and we would keep them posted with our progress. By the next afternoon nothing had happened, so we went into hospital to get checked out. They said ideally we want contractions to begin within 72 hours as after that time the risk of infection to baby rises.
My birth 'plan' was to have the most natural, intervention free birth as possible. But as we know, birth is unpredictable and can take spontaneous twists. After acupuncture, yoga, meditation, drinking raspberry leaf, and eating eggplant, dates and all other foods that supposedly get labour going, we still felt no progress. The hospital had us booked in for 6 am Sunday to get the ball rolling, but upon waking on Sunday we decided to wait until 10 am to see if baby would come on his own after another walk up the hill near our house. He just wasn’t quite ready to make his grand appearance on his own.
We arrived at the hospital at 10 am and by mid-day we were all set up with the Syntocinon Drip. We were trying to avoid antibiotics however if we were to refuse, we were unable to birth in the tub due to my waters being open for so long and the risk of infection to baby being high. I had my heart set on a water birth my whole pregnancy so we decided to have the antibiotics, so I could get in the tub and keep my anxiety levels down and continue our journey for a calm water birth as we had planned.
My best friend Lonnie works at a day-spa and she came along to give me massages to keep the calm vibes flowing. Our midwife set up tea lights around the room and the lights were dimmed. I began breathing through the techniques learnt at our Hypnobirthing classes and moved my body through various yoga poses. Because I was hooked up to a drip I had to have the wireless FHR monitor strapped to me at all times, which started and stopped and dropped out due to my stretching. This was a nuisance and eventually they couldn’t keep track of baby’s heart rate, so we had to have a monitor clipped to baby’s head. While we were hesitant at first, this ended up being a better option as it allowed me to move more freely and was optimal for water birthing.
At about 6 pm our midwives changed shifts, and I was assigned a midwife who also teaches calm birth classes on the Sunshine Coast. Upon handover Bryn went through all our birth preferences with the new midwife. He reported back to me and I was soo pleased to hear she was on the same page with everything we had visioned in our birth preferences, and she knew all the calm birthing & breathing techniques we were practising. She even had peppermint essential oil in her pocket as a saviour for when I threw up after trying the gas.
Around the same time, my student midwife Lauren (who has birthed 2 babies using Hypnobirthing techniques taught by Carrie) also arrived, she was with me throughout my pregnancy journey and it was lovely to have another familiar face in the room for support and encouragement.
At about 7:30/8 pm I hopped in the bath, squatting near the side, my surges were intense and the waves lasted 4 and a half breaths. As I hummed and moaned on the out breath, Bryn massaged my hands and stroked my face to remind me to relax and open. I found myself tensing and it was a real mindful practice to tell my body to release, once I released and let my body relax and trust it knew what to do, the pressure of the surges was instantly much less painful.
As I came out of each surge Bryn, Lonnie and Lauren would place my positive birthing affirmation cards and sticky notes I had written out on the side of the tub in front of me. They were a great reminder of all we had practised and helped me to stay focused and determined. Each surge brought us closer to meeting our baby. My body and baby knew what to do.
I could feel baby’s head was getting close, the midwives held a mirror in the tub and everyone could see the tip of his head as I was surging. At around 10 pm baby’s head popped out, and after one more wave of breathing his body was out too. Bryn pulled baby from the water and put him on my chest. The feeling was a rush of joy, relief, happiness and accomplishment.
I was pulled from the bath instantly as I was loosing quite a lot of blood. I had the needle in my leg to birth the placenta fast as I had a high risk of haemorrhaging. I needed 2 stitches due to baby grazing me with his fingernails on the way out, but no tearing. Bryn cut the cord, and put on the first nappy!
Elijah River Harper was born at 10:10 pm on Sunday the 9th of December. 5lb 12oz. 48 cm.
The whole day was intense, empowering and raw. I felt incredibly supported and grateful for all that were present with me during the whole experience. Even though Elijah’s birth didn’t go to ‘plan’, we still got to water birth and use calm birthing and breathing techniques to birth pain relief free. I would not have been able to be as in control of my birthing experience without the knowledge and education learnt through Carrie’s Hypnobirthing Workshop and Yoga for Birth classes at Joymamma. Thank you Carrie, I can’t wait to attend mama and bub classes in the new year. Erin xx
The name "HypnoBirthing" may conjure up of all sorts of weird, whacky and nonsensical images. When I first came across it for the birth of my third baby 13 years ago, I was in all honesty ready to try ANYTHING - after the medically managed births of my first two babies. Fast forward to 2018 and I've been teaching this program on the Sunshine Coast for 6 years and have had the pleasure of meeting over 300 couples who have taken the plunge to discover and learn!
For many couples, the events surrounding birth can be overwhelming and dis-empowering; as we move through a time of actively managed labours, where women no longer trust their bodies or their deeply intuitive mind.
At 36 weeks Ebony contacted me to enquire about joining a HypnoBirthing course. At this late stage, I offered to take her and husband Tom through the program week by week - just in case baby came before the full program had finished. As it turned out her daughter waited - and gave Ebony another week to ensure she had chance to practice her techniques of remaining patient and calm!
At 42 weeks, medical induction was looming and we kept in touch during the lead up. The threat of induction made her feel anxious, stressed and very emotional. Ebony was induced; waters broken, syntocinon administered, constant foetal monitoring, scalpel monitors that failed, a busy hospital room with interference and minimal privacy or intimacy. Not what physiological birth is all about! But this is what can happen in the modern way of birth management. However, Ebony and Tom came away from that experience feeling empowered, positive and at peace from what they had learned through their sessions with me.
From what could have turned into another horror birth story, instead husband Tom had the confidence to suggest non-invasive alternatives that helped Ebony find her focus and the trust in her body that she needed to birth her baby calmly and in control.
This is a crucial element of the HypnoBirthing program - teaching partners about their role in birth, how they can advocate, speak up and protect their women amidst all the activity in a hospital setting that goes against natural, physiological birthing. Partners that trust and believe in birth, in their woman and their baby can guard the birth space with confidence. Tom did this perfectly and had he not - then the birth of their daughter may not have been as empowering as Ebony writes:
"I just wanted to thank you for all of your help with preparing Tom and I for the birth of our beautiful little girl, Callie Eve McGrane on 06.06.2018.
My pregnancy lasted for 42 beautiful weeks. After trying EVERYTHING to start labour naturally I was booked in to get induced on Wednesday, 6th June. The threat of being induced made me feel very stressed in the few days beforehand however you were so supportive and helpful throughout that time which helped a lot.
Following our hospital appointment on Tuesday 5th, they booked us in to get induced that night. The sudden change made me feel very anxious & super emotional but thankfully my hypnobirthing techniques kicked in to help me come to terms with it.
The midwives broke my waters that night and started the drip the following morning. Your classes and the skills you taught us helped immensely. We were able to stay calm and we welcomed our beautiful little girl 7.5 hours after the drip started, without any other intervention or pain relief.
Due to being induced the midwives were monitoring our bubs heartbeat the whole time. The first fetal scalp clip didn't work consistently, so we tried a heart rate monitor around my belly. This also didn't work consistently so we tried a 2nd scalp clip. This one also kept dropping in and out & there was a period of time when the midwives couldn't find our bubs heartbeat. Because of this the head midwife suggested we try a 3rd clip. This was in the midst of quite intense surges.
Your classes gave my hubby the confidence to ask the head midwife to have a discussion outside (as I had 3 midwives asking me questions whilst I was trying to breathe through my surges). Tom was able to make an informed decision and requested we try the shower for a little while as I knew in my heart that our little girl was OK. Thankfully the shower helped and I was able to peacefully focus back on my breathing. This worked wonders and within another 1.5 hours we had our little girl in our arms.
Throughout the majority of my labour, someone was constantly touching my belly to monitor our little girls heartbeat. Because of your wonderfully thorough, supportive & educational classes, I was able to stay in my zone with the confidence that Tom completely had my back.
I am forever grateful to you for empowering both of us & helping us achieve our goal of a positive & peaceful birth experience! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Tom & Ebony Xx
This isn't a blog about how to parent or how to successfully raise competent, conscious young adults. I'm still working all of that out. Whether we're adjusting to life as a new mother with a small baby, or navigating our way through the toddler years, or reaching the stage that I'm at (12 yr old 'baby' boy, two teenage girls and a 19 yr old boyfriend) - it's essentially much the same.
It's a wild ride into the unknown with important decision-making at pivotal points being crucial to their safety, health and development (both physical and mental). What I do know for sure, is that Yoga has given me the tools to stay grounded - and sane on my journey as I guide them to their own independence and freedom.
I met Brooke and Joel early in their pregnancy with baby Maple. At the time of writing this blog post Brooke is now weeks away from meeting her second baby. Her experience birthing Maple was pretty remarkable; an unplanned homebirth with only her partner present. Brooke suffered intense pelvic pain during her pregnancy and was unsure of how she would cope with labour. Turns out she did just fine - with the emotional support she received from Joel and her own trust and belief in herself and in nature, the birth of Maple makes quite a story!!
The newest review from the Cochrane Collective states that:
"Continuous labour support appears to offer impressive benefits and no harm to women and newborns, especially when provided by someone in a doula role.
Women with doula role support were an impressive:
39 percent less likely to have a cesarean birth
35 percent less likely to have a negative birth experience
15 percent more likely to have a spontaneous vaginal birth
The review also found that the doula role was associated with notable but non-significant (not clearly different from women with no continuous support) reduced use of synthetic oxytocin, any pain medication while giving birth, and newborn admission to a special care nursery.
Creating the time for self care is the biggest gift you can give yourself. When we talk about 'self care' this often brings up images of massages, pedicures, retreats, etc. These, whilst awesome and amazing, are genuinely unattainable on a regular basis for many of us, either due to finances or the demands of a busy life.
What if there was something that was free, somewhere you could go where you didn't have to travel, didn't have to arrange childcare for, something that was available at every point in your day, something that you would always be able to use and have by your side to turn to in times of need?
How A Routine Appointment Nearly Led To Emergency C-Section And What This Couple Did To Avoid Surgery
Sunshine Coast University Hospital
A standard routine appointment at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital at 39 + 6 weeks pregnant picked up that Loreleigh baby's heart rate was lower than normal. Loreleigh and her partner Paul were planning on only a quick visit, but the midwife arranged for her to be checked with the team leader and more accurate equipment. The result was the same.
The team leader then called for a second opinion who also confirmed that the heart rate was low. They then called the on call doctor. During this time there was a flurry of action by about 6 midwives and doctors. She was promptly changed into a gown, an IV was placed in her hand, compression socks were placed on her legs.
They even went as far as shaving me - prepping me for c-section surgery.
Loreleigh and Paul share their story and how HypnoBirthing helped them. It's not all meditation and zoning out - HypnoBirthing educates couples so they have the knowledge needed to take responsibility, deal with overwhelming situations and make good decisions for the birth of their child.
I am a huge homebirth advocate after the planned homebirth of my third baby, but it's not the place of birth that matters, it is what and who that are in that place which has the strongest influence. What is important is privacy. This is the key to birthing normally, as all mammals insist on privacy to give birth.
This teaching and doula journey of mine has led me to meet many, many wonderful women. At 7.51 am on 29 April 2017, one of those women gave birth to her third baby at home in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. I met Renee during her first pregnancy and have been friends ever since. I taught yoga at her beautiful rural home wedding when she was pregnant with her second baby. This woman has a man who is devoted to her, who cried openly as he read his wedding vows - a man in love with life.
I introduced this woman to Birth Photographer, Ilsa from Good Wolf Photography - another woman who I've connected with through this journey - who's creativity caught my eye some time ago. These two incredible women came together and shared an intimate, sacred experience - that which is birth. Raw, emotional, cherished moments were captured that show how powerful and incredible women and BIRTH truly are.