Everyone has their sayings that they repeat in their head when they need a little pick me up. It might be a, “ Come on… You’ve got this!” before you stand in front of your team to do a presentation at work or “Stay calm, stay calm.” when you’re driving in the car and some douchebag has pulled out in front of you.
It’s commonly seen amongst sportsmen and women where they shout, “Come on! Come on!” when they are walking on pitch or warming up. We see it as patching themselves up but they’re actually just telling themselves to come on. They’re telling themselves that they can do this and they have got this.
It’s the phrase that you remind yourself when you want to behave in a certain way. Now, often these phrases are so engrained in us that we now don’t even see it as an “affirmation” as that’s just SOOOOO hippy. They are phrases that are so engrained in us that t’s just something we say or do. And this kind of familiarity is what we want to achieve in pregnancy through birth affirmations.
In labour, during contractions, there will be times where they are so intense that you will feel like you can’t do it any longer. Now, if you have been practising your birth affirmations throughout pregnancy then it will be at this point where you might start repeating over in your head, “I can do anything for 60seconds, I can do anything for 60 seconds, I can do anything for 60seconds.” (FYI – 60 secs is about how long a contraction lasts). You will say it till you believe it to be true. This is easier to do if you have read them to yourself every day or couple of days in the build up to your labour. It will be even more helpful if your partner knows them too as these phrases can then be reminded to you when you need a pep talk in labour.
My husband and I did a one day hypnobirthing course in August and I just wanted to thank Beth and TBTBC for making such a difference to our birth experience. It was more wondeeful than I could have hoped for and I am sure that all the advice, positive stories and hypnobirthing tools made it possible. I’ve written my birth story below if you wanted to share it…
My first birth was not a great experience, my son was induced after my waters broke and nothing happened for 48 hours. I ended up having an epidural and a stressful delivery which resulted in a third degree tear. Even after leaving hospital the early days with my baby were equally stressful as my milk did not come in for several days and my son was unsettled and losing weight. We were ok after a few weeks but I always wonder about the impact of stress during the birth on my son’s start in life.For this, my second baby, I was offered a planned C-section due to the risk of severe tearing a second time around. I felt confident using BRAIN and saying no to the consultant, wanting to avoid a medicalised birth and give my body a chance to do what it was built for. My due date came and went without any signs of labour and my midwife offered a stretch and sweep, which I declined at my 41 week appointment to allow a few extra days for nature to take its course. She booked me in for an induction at 41+5 days, which would mean I could still go to the birth unit rather than the hospital for the birth.
With nothing happening, I decided to go for the sweep at 41+2 days to try to move things along before the planned induction. I started to feel mild cramps the next day and after two days (the day before the planned induction), they became stronger and more regular. I relaxed at home listening to my favourite music, eating chocolate and pottering around, playing with my son, breathing through the surges, which felt like stronger period cramps. I put on my TENS machine which was a very effective distraction and made me feel in control of the surges. By late afternoon they were coming around every three minutes so I called the birth unit who advised to wait until the surges were strong enough that I couldn’t talk through them.
An hour later we made our way to the birth unit and were taken to a lovely room with a birthing pool, leather sofa, bathroom and soft lighting. I declined an immediate internal examination and said I wanted to settle in first. The lovely midwife was fully supportive and listened in to our baby on the Doppler instead, commenting on how nice and relaxed I was (and probably thinking I had a while to go…) The baby was very active and the midwife suggested we went for monitoring in the triage unit to make sure everything was ok. We agreed and I focused on my music and TENS machine to help me breathe through the surges while attached to the monitor. Thankfully everything was fine. My husband stepped in to make sure we were released to go back to the birth unit as quickly as possible as I could feel things were progressing and I wanted to get back to our comfortable space and get refocused. Not long after getting back in the birth unit room the next few surges were coming thick and fast and I asked my husband to fetch someone. He then gently massaged my shoulders and mopped my brow which helped make the strong surges more comfortable.
I could sense my body was ready to push and sure enough, when the midwife returned to examine me, my waters had broken, I was fully dilated and making primal noises through the surges! After breathing through a few more surges with gas and air to help I could feel my body start to push and the down breathing that I had been practising on the toilet for the last few months came into play! I really did feel as if I was doing a giant poo! The midwife helped me into an all fours position on the bed and after a few more surges I could feel the baby’s head emerging. The next surge, the head came out fully and then I felt the rest of the body slip out with a massive sense of relief and joy. I actually shouted “Amazing!” as it happened. The midwife said “Look down!” and there was our baby girl.
I lay back on the bed and had skin to skin and a first feed with her while my husband cut the cord, and I then delivered the placenta with a few more pushes. I needed a few stitches but minor damage compared to my first birth. The brilliant midwives then prepared a bath for me and tea and toast, and my husband and i had a wonderful peaceful few hours with our new arrival while awaiting the all clear to go home. Having arrived at the unit at 6pm, baby Daphne was born at 9.10pm, and we were back at home by 6am the next morning to introduce her to her big brother and grandma and grandad.The whole experience made me feel like a superhero, so amazed by what my body was capable of. Most importantly Daphne’s first moments were peaceful and calm, and she is a healthy and relaxed baby.
It really was as simple as breathing, relaxing and letting my body do its thing with the help and support of my husband and some brilliant midwives. And of course the knowledge, tools and positive mindset provided by TBTBC that prepared me for this magical experience Thank you TBTBC!
Gayle and Luis,Mum and dad to baby Daphne, born 27th October 2019
My waters broke at 3.50am and we went to triage at 5.45am after my parents arrived to look after my 4 year old son. Mild contractions started while we were there. We went home with rough plans for either an induction or caesarean the following morning if things didn’t progress due to waters having broken and associated risk of infection. As a VBAC mum I wanted to keep my options open.
Once home I used my Hypnobirthing techniques to help bring the contractions on fully. Things that really helped:
– watching my favourite film eating doughnuts and chocolate
– having a bath with dimmed lights listening to Hypnobirthing script
– using TENs machine once out the bath listening to my favourite songs
– using the contraction timer from Freya
By 12pm I was finding the contractions intense and they were 3 in 10 minutes. As a VBAC mum I wanted to go to hospital so they could monitor me more closely.
In the car my contractions ramped up and I started to panic when we hit traffic so I used my breathing techniques and put the radio on (kisstory!) to keep myself in the zone
I contracted four times from the car to triage and just blocked out all the things around me. I never imagined I could stay focussed in the middle of GRH car park! We randomly bumped into my community midwife on the way in which was great to see a familiar face!
When I got to triage they hooked me to a monitor but didn’t offer any pain relief or gas and air so I kept with my TENS machine and breathing.
At this point things went a bit off plan, the monitor showed baby’s heart rate was dipping when I was contracting so I was admitted to the labour ward to be examined. I was allowed to use the jasmine room which is a special room with mood lighting and birthing pool a bit like the rooms in the birthing unit.
I was 3cm dilated but cervix was stretchy. I went on the gas and air and wireless monitoring whilst my husband set up the room with aromatherapy, photos and tea lights. The contractions were coming very close together and were very intense. The midwife and doctor were concerned about baby’s heart rate and the doctor examined me to find I was now 6cms dilated just an hour after the last examination. Labour was progressing quickly but baby’s heart rate was really worrying me and I found I couldn’t focus on my breathing as well. Then baby turned back to back and I had the overwhelming urge to push but knew I couldn’t. This is when this labour started to feel like my first labour. My first baby ended up being born by emergency c section and had a short spell in special care with no skin to skin for over 24 hours and my ultimate outcome I wanted this time was to avoid this baby being separated from me.
At this point my baby’s heart rate was recovering well from the contractions so I knew she was ok. My instinct was to ask for a c section. The dr explained there was no medical reason for this but they wanted to take a blood sample from baby to see how she was coping. They explained the results would take an hour. I agreed to the test but shortly afterwards decided an hour is a long time if baby is in distress so I finalised my decision to have a c section. Instead of feeling a failure as I’d expected if my VBAC failed I actually felt really empowered and that I was following my instincts for the best outcome for my baby.
Preparations were made and my midwife, Beth, was fantastic at keeping me calm and had obviously read my birth plan as she informed the theatre staff what we wanted. My playlist was put on and I heard all the staff singing along to sex on fire and mr brightside! They were all so happy and relaxed. Everyone introduced themselves and said encouraging things to me. My tealights were put out and after the spinal was put in and I was lying down the anaesthetist asked me and my husband about our son and a recent holiday. I kept watching the tealights, thought back to the holiday and my breathing and trembling (from the adrenaline) calmed down. Not long after that my beautiful daughter was born. She had delayed cord clamping, was weighed in front of me and had skin to skin for an hour while they completed the operation.
Olivia had no health problems and she stayed with me in recovery (and every minute since😂)
The doctor visited me in recovery and explained the blood test for Olivia had showed she was in distress so they would have recommended a c section had I waited for the results. There was also something about my placenta which was unknown during pregnancy which could have resulted in a serious bleed and risks for me and Olivia as labour progressed. He was pleased I’d followed my instincts and it was absolutely the right birth for me and Olivia.
Without Hypnobirthing classes I wouldn’t have had the confidence or knowledge to decide on a c section and the techniques/toolkit helped in so many ways on the day I can’t recommend it highly enough!
If, like Emma, you want a toolkit of techniques to help you in all birth scenarios then…
I don’t know if this was the result of too much gas and air at this point or one of Robs cracking jokes but either way it looks like we’re having a grand old time! Anyone who’s been through labour knows that it’s not all shits and giggles, but a solid birth partner that can bring the funnies goes a long way for those oxytocin levels.
So to all the birth partners out there, who don’t just want to be sat in the corner with their popcorn, remember you’ll be the biggest source of oxytocin in that birth room. Never underestimate your role 💪🏻✨
You may be surprised to know that this is all part of hypnobirthing. It’s not all relaxation and breathing, it’s about learning ways to make you feel great during labour. For me that was this man right there ❤️ some gas and air 👌🏼 and I was on to a winner.
Did you have an awesome birth partner at your birth? What did you find most helpful?
One thing I do quite regularly to check in on myself is think in years to come … what will I look back on this time and think of. On the more morbid days I think on my death bed, what will flash before my eyes. (Heavy for a Friday morning I know!) More often than not for me it’s to do with how much time I spend on TBTBC vs. my family time. A never ending battle for most working mothers I’m sure.
One specific time though, when this deathbed tactic massively helped me was when I was considering getting a birth photographer for my fourth baby. I nearly didn’t do it as I was nervous that some of the other midwives wouldn’t get it. I felt extremely diva ish 💁🏼♀️ rocking up to my birth (the place where I will be going back to work!) with a photographer. An imagined fear of being judged. I nearly didn’t do it as Rob openly didn’t get it, he thought I was weird 😆. Anyway, I obviously checked in on myself and thought of myself in my elderly years and knew that the captures of one (of four) of the greatest moments of my life would be far greater than any judgement I would get from anyone else. So I did it, and now thanks to Chui King Li I have one of my greatest achievements in life to look on (which I do on the regs) and cherish for ever. The only regret I have is not doing it with all of them!!
Anyway, my point of this story is that birth matters. The reason why I like looking back on my photos so much was because that day mattered. I brought my baby girl into this world on that day. It was an incredible day. Birth is not just a means to an end. It’s the mark of the end of a pregnancy and the start of being a mother. It’s just as, if not more important as your wedding day that you spend thousands of pounds on and months sometimes years of prepping. In years to come it will be a day that you will remember, you will want to share what happened with your children just as your own mother tells you. Why do you think mothers tell their birth stories so much when they’re together… because it’s important to them. How they felt on that day is important to them. When you’re elderly you will remember your birth and how it made you feel more so than the colour fabric of your baby’s pram or the colour of the walls in the nursery or their first outfit.
Birth is so much more than one day. Birth matters.
Winner of 🌟The Best Pregnancy Support Service in Gloucestershire 2017🌟, The Bump to Baby Chapter has something for everyone.
🌟For expectant couple wanting to know all you need to know about labour, baby and those early days we have midwife led antenatal courses.
🌟For a second or third time mother wanting to birth without fear after a negative birth experience. There’s hypnobirthing one day classes for the busy Mum.
🌟Free blogs with tips on birth and baby for all
🌟Buggy walks in Cheltenham for new mothers to bring the sisterhood in motherhood.
So whatever stage of pregnancy and whatever number baby have a look at the page, website and get involved 🌟
Some days the let down reflux doesn’t play the game... and some days you just get a whole lot more than you asked for 😆 💦 👶🏼
It was 7am this morning, after a night shift. I usually feed Delphi overnight so my boobs were, needless to say, FULL. I had nothing more to do during my shift, no more “tasks” no more writing in the notes, everyone was happy and the night had gone well. I was chatting to this new Mum and her 1 day old baby started to cry, watching his little fingers move around and root around like a little bird looking to feed was just too cute 🥰 My head went immediately back to my little baby as I thought how this was her just a year ago looking so tiny in the clear hospital crib.
Meanwhile... low and behold... my right boob was also thinking the same as the let down reflex kicked in and I popped my hand up to feel, you guesssed it, a leaky boob. I folded my arms to cover it, said my goodbyes and went to the toilet to shove some tissue down my bra like my Year 7 ‘desperate to grow a pair’ self. 🍉
So the let down reflex ...
Def: When your boobs decide to release your milk.
🍉 Happens when oxytocin is high- think skin to skin, smelling your baby’s head, when your baby lets out a cry, when you see your baby rooting around for a feed.
🍉 It’s back to the old oxytocin vs adrenaline play off again, so if you’re feeling stressed or busy, your let down reflex can be slow or inhibited. For example, if your baby has been crying for a while and/or if your baby is struggling to latch on and you’re feeling the pressure. This can reduce your milk coming.
In my case, my boobs didn’t leak all night because I was busy. The minute I stopped, felt chilled and thought of my baby ... 🥛 💦
What you can take from this...
🥛 If you’re feeling stressed when feeding your baby then take 5 ⏰. It will be easier for everyone if you pass baby to Dad, go and make a brew then come back and start again.
💦 Anything that increases your oxytocin is good for milk supply. In the early hours/days with your baby it is soooo important that you have plenty of skin to skin with your baby. In the first 24 hours especially, it is more beneficial that your baby has done lots of skin to skin and you’ve been with your baby than how much colostrum your baby has actually had. Plenty of skin to skin in the early days will be great for your milk supply in the up and coming days.
🥛 Breast pads are a must. You may find that when you’re out and about with your baby in the weeks/months after baby then sometimes even the sound of someone else’s baby crying can start your let down reflex.
Anyone got any experiences to share about the let down reflex?
Breastfeeding as well as formula, bottle and combi feeding is something that we always cover at antenatal with our lactation expert and midwife, Sue.