This wonderful image by Brenda Baar did the rounds today on social media. I saw it a while ago when I googled Maslow's theory to see if I could find anything interesting for an NCT exam and I came across this beauty.
So many women forget about themselves in birth. It is a passage for you and baby together, not alone as separate entities. So why do so many of us say it's just about the baby being okay but no mention of yourself? Even sometimes saying you don't matter...
Of course a healthy baby matters. There is no mother who doesn't believe this but why are you not included too? YOU MATTER! You have needs too. Imagine a birth where you fulfil your hierarchy of needs? During my antenatal classes I always talk about feeling protected, nurtured and heard. To not be an outsider looking in on what is happening but to be present, completely involved and surrounded by trust. I've heard so many stories of what should have been a traumatic birth by textbook standards but the woman walked away having a positive birth because of all these factors being ticked. How amazing is that?
Research has shown that unrealistic expectations for labour isn't usually the common force behind PTSD after birth, which some believe is, but is linked to how you are treated:
"...one study looked at this question directly and found that a difference between expectations and experience in the level of pain, length of labour, interventions and level of control was not associated with PTSD symptoms. However, a difference between expected support from health professionals and the level of care experienced was predictive of PTSD symptoms (Ballard, Stanley et al. 1995; Ford and Ayers unpublished). It therefore seems that women are not necessarily traumatised by the events of birth not happening as they expected, but are affected when the care they receive does not match their expectations." (City University of London, 2012)
So, looking after the woman has a huge purpose. Not only because it's reasonable but because it's logical. The far reaching impact goes beyond birth if your needs are not met. All the needs are not always met and you can have a few or all, it can interchange. But meeting the majority would be incredible, no matter what birth, just by changing the way women are looked after. Language is so key here and a lot of positive changes are being made but we have a long way to go. But they are changing...
Alive. Health. Trust. Autonomy. Heard.
A hierarchy of needs that truly matters.
Becoming a mother brings on a whole world of new emotions.
Adaptation, change and transition.
We spend so much time preparing for birth and keeping our pregnant bodies healthy that we forget the world after that. There will be a baby, your life will change and there will be a transition. Just like birth there can be highs and lows but babies don't need much. They need love, milk, warmth, cleanliness and clothing. They just need you!
Postnatal care in this country is pretty low but you can find your tribe and there are support groups springing up everywhere. Spend your first week or two at home. Enjoy that time getting to know each other (yes they are getting to know you and vice versa), but then once you start venturing out start talking to other mums and build that network of support. Being able to say "my night was crap eh" is a form of everyday therapy and guess what...you are not alone. You may feel like you're alone in the middle of the night when you are up six times and feeding for 30-45 minutes a pop, but you are not.
You transition when you become a mother. It feels like you have lost your old identity and are in a bit of a limbo land. You don't have to lose her...you can gain someone new. When researching motherhood I came across a lovely notion that I think all new mothers should take heed of. You become a blend of your old and new self. Do not lose the old you but instead bring that old self into the new self. You are not lost! Become someone new without losing her. Mothers just become even more powerful because your new identity is powerful. You transform! This can feel quite scary at first but, just like birth, let go. Welcome this new change in identity and become her. It may take some time before you feel settled again and THAT IS OKAY.
Experiment, learn and embrace.
Highs and lows I will embrace you.
Bring on the new normal.
"Well that was speedy - so fast in fact I had back to back contractions and she was with us before 9.30pm last night! We're very happy to have our Matilda safe and sound with us - thanks so much for your support and of course wonderful massages xx".
Mummy didn't actually do hypnobirthing with me but had pregnancy massages and we had a lovely connection so started asking me for advice. We spoke throughout before her induction and Matilda arrived unexpectedly fast. Mummy dealt with it amazingly! She was nervous about an induction but we spoke about the process and how to keep relaxed and make sure she used the BRAIN model; safe to say it went brilliant.
This is Matilda all grown up and mummy just came back to start massage treatments again which is such a joy for me.
"I was induced at 41+5 and was extremely excited but also apprehensive as I had been quite poorly at 38 weeks. After three days in hospital I had my waters broke and started the oxytocin drip. Contractions started soon after that and I used my breathing techniques to control the surges. After four hours I asked for G&A and quickly reached 10cm. I pushed for 2 hours but was unable to give birth myself so needed some intervention. Finally my little boy arrived after 6 hours of active labour and a forceps delivery. I used the techniques that Azeeta taught me and only had gas and air to help with the surges. I had some further complications at the end of labour but I wouldn’t change it for the world. My little boy arrived at 42+1 weighing 9lb 14oz."
Lee and Cat were my very first hypnobirthing couple. What a fabulous couple to have! Jack is now 8 months old.
Lee also left me a beautiful review:
"Azeeta is friendly, professional, and also very supportive...but she was also there for us outside of the course. If we had any questions or concerns she was also there and happy to help us along this journey as new parents. The hypnobirthing sessions really helped my wife and I stay calm and relaxed during the Labour, even when things didn't go quite to plan. We are now both proud parents of our little bundle of joy and were glad to have the support of Azeeta, can't recommend her enough."
Positive Induction/Gestational Diabetes/Small baby.
“Hi lovely,hope you are well. All went well. They started me on the hormone drip and I dilated so quickly they were all shocked. Just gas and air and that worked brilliantly. We are so blessed xx Will definitly book in for a massage in the next two weeks. Ps. I had the playlist you recommended playing from start to finish I also used your breathing techniques that we used in your breathe class and George was amazing with acupressure points. If I didn't have him applying pressure for every contraction the pain would be so much worse. I can't thank you enough x”
When I receive messages like this my heart melts with love and joy. Marie totally rocked her birth! Do you know why? It wasn’t easy from the start she had gestational diabetes, they had a scan at 37 weeks where the technician told them something that could change their lives forever (the were very wrong and luckily a consultant walked in and did an accurate scan) and then her mind was completely rocked by what the technician had said. She came to my relaxation for birth class and she walked away so empowered and ready. She then came back to me for a massage but we chatted about what happened at the scan and how to turn things around now and move forward. Well...baby arrived not long after that session and you can see from above she didn’t let it falter her. Power of the mind body connection, power of her partner being her anchor and the ultimate power of being an amazing woman.
P.s. the playlist she used in her birth was not hypnobirthing music but the playlist I use when I massage my clients. So far that’s two ladies in two months who have given birth to that playlist .
How to approach your birth if it goes in a different direction to what you envisage.
“Hi Azeeta, thanks for your text - we had a gorgeous little girl last Thursday evening, we are so so in love with her, it’s all we’ve ever wanted, she’s perfect! We’ve called her Lottie Ann Martin. The birth didn’t go quite as planned as my water tickled for longer than 48 hours so had to go in hospital and put on an antibiotic drip. I then go induced via the drip but I was already having mild natural contractions - they gave me too much of the drug and over stimulated my uterus so I was having contractions ever my 30 seconds after being on it for only an hour I ended up having an epidural and it was an amazing experience. When it came to delivery she was facing the wrong way so I had to go into theatre to get her turned then have forceps. Overall your lessons taught me that any birth can be positive and to be open minded so I really enjoyed the experience and didn’t look at it as stressful. The only bit which wasn’t nice was that she want breathing when she came out and needed to go into intensive care for a few days so we were separated and she was in a little incubator. We finally got out of hospital on Sunday and it’s been amazing to be home and settle into family life, thanks again for everything - you were a great help and we’re so glad we went into things prepared! Xxxxxx”
Wow just wow. One of my amazing Muswell Hill clients. Positive experiences don’t have to be “the water birth, no drugs and home in four hours” it can be so many scenarios. This just shows that an epidural, forceps, turning baby in labour, complications after the birth can all be daunting and a mix of emotions but still result in POSITIVE feelings & outcomes. Welcome to the world gorgeous girl and what fab parents to have.
At 1am on the 24th September 2014 my waters broke. I woke up instinctively, rushed to the toilet, then gush. Went back to bed but found it very hard to sleep from the excitement. Woke up the next day still no contractions so just went about our day. I knew we had a 24 hour window to get things rolling so I spent the morning cleaning and on the birth ball while watching Michael McIntyre and Mock the Week. At around 11am I started to feel my surges begin. To be honest I wasn’t timing them but they were only every 20 minutes or so. But then it got to mid day and things started to ramp up. It wasn’t until 12.30pm that I turned to hubby and said “this is it we need to go”. At this point we called Lister maternity unit and they immediately said come in. The car ride was really uncomfortable the surges were coming on really strong at this point and the bumping was making me feel like he was about to fall out. We then parked on level 2 but stupidly then walked all the way to the unit stopping constantly with each surge. Once in they were very calm and slow and said they would check me but still a while to go but they will get gas and air if I need it. I got checked and I was 5cms dilated and you could see the midwife haul ass to get me a delivery room pool was made ready everyone was moving me. I had an amazing midwife called Kerry who knew I was doing hypnobirthing and she immediately closed the curtains, turned off the lights and put lovely music on. In my notes I had written don’t mention drugs unless I ask for it so she totally respected that. Fabulous language! Tommy was born at 7.12pm in the gorgeous water and he was just perfect all over. He was apparently born on the busiest time of the year so I was, too soon in my opinion, moved out of the pool where unfortunately my placenta flew out and I haemorrhaged and it became an emergency situation. I was flown into theatre but the staff were so amazing, nothing was found to be wrong and swiftly returned to my baby. For me an amazing experience, amazing staff and incredible birth experience. Second time round I made sure I was not moved!
At 41+5 days I made the big decision to have an induction. I was fully informed and educated about my choice. We went in and got the pessary and then once babies heartbeat was okay we signed ourselves out and had a wonderful 24 hours at home with our other son, Tommy. The next day we went in around 4pm and was slowly dilating but no contractions and I felt nothing so we did a second pessary. I managed to go to sleep around midnight and had a full six hours but was woken at 6am to a niggle feeling but mostly needing a wee. I then had a check, was around 4cms, around 7am (plus a sweep) and found I had to stand up all of a sudden. From then on I stood! It was bang on 7.13am that I remember the surges coming on suddenly. I was told to sit down but I couldn’t my body just needed to stand, to move, to get him into the right position. Oh did I mention at this point my amazing doula @tamaracianfini walked in like a night in shining armour demanding I get a labour room (I was on the ward). Between then and when Charlie was born the most significant thing was that my hypnobirthing totally anchored me to my husband. He had to be near me, his hand on me, talking to me and that kept me free of pain. I’m not going to lie the surges were intense, so intense I started to have no breaks in between. I couldn’t sit I had to stand and my position was leaning over the bed while Tamara held a scarf in front of me so my hands could grip it and she could grip the other side for stability. It meant I could flop my head on the bed to rest when I could. When it came to it all I remember is roaring him out. He came out so quick the midwife dropped him he was fine there was a lovely thick mat underneath but he came out perfect. He made his entrance! I couldn’t believe I had birthed a 10.10lbs baby I think the whole room was in shock for a while but I was just so glad he was finally here at exactly 42 weeks at 11.11am. The angels were watching over us...
"Hello Azeeta! At 2am this morning, my beautiful and healthy baby girl was calmly born in the water. The hypnobirthing classes really, really played such an important role in being able to have the birth we hoped for. We had a really slow latent phase (36 hours of stop and start contractions- tough!) followed by a very fast and intense active labour where I went from 5cm to delivery in just 1 hour 20 minutes (even more tough!). Just gas & air, and lots of breathing, which I was really delighted with. Ruby Alexandra Day weighs a teeny 6lb4 and is doing just perfectly. Thank you so much for the big part you played in welcoming our little girl into the world so peacefully."
Claire originally came to me for a taster class and soon after wanted to do a workshop. Claire and Chris did two sessions of 1.5 hours and we also kept in a lot of contact. When she went into labour we maintained text contact and she shone through her long first stage of labour. I could feel she had really listened and was keeping calm and relaxed so as not to get too tired. As you can see she did the most incredible job and when I received her text tears came to my eyes as I felt I had been on this journey with them. Welcome to the world beautiful Ruby!