When a baby is born it can be a truly surreal moment. You may have spent hours or days in labour and your hormones have gone through a roller coaster ride you have never experienced before. But anything and everything seems to disappear once they are here.
You see them, they see you.
The moment is completely alone. Just you and your baby. You can not see or hear anything else. The oxytocin floods in like a river that has burst its bank. It takes over your entire being and you both float into the air in a rhythmic dance of love just between you two.
You get into your position for rest and you basque in each others beauty. You take in all the minute details making sure you take it all in. You have been dreaming of this moment for 9 months and you are going to memorise everything about them right this second.
You just look at each other.
The world stops.
It is just you and your baby/babies.
Sometimes we don't get this moment straight away. It could be hours, days or even months later before you get to really connect together in this unique meeting. That is okay! When it happens take it, be in it, basque in it and run with it.
Take in all the smells, the movement and the love.
Oxytocin has the power to change the world.
Doula - Hypnobirthing
After a bleed on Sunday the 23rd December 2018, I went to Lister hospital to be checked out. After being monitored and my lady garden being examined I was advised to be induced. The doctor was great but not very informative.. Another doctor followed in to explain some more. I was moved to a ward where the induction would happen. James went home to get me supplies to entertain myself. However after being examined again, I had already dilated 3cm. The first option of induction couldn't happen and I was advised that the next step would be to break my waters, I was relieved as I didn't really want to be induced.
I spent the night on the ward and I sent James home.. The chairs were awful!! That night a lady came onto the ward also at 3cm, she did incredible and left the ward about 5am at 8cm...i didn't sleep much that night. I was on this ward for what felt like an eternity, on Christmas eve night I was feeling quite anxious and didn't want to spend Christmas day waiting around when I felt okay. James asked a Midwife to come and speak to me and she came bearing good news.. There was a room for me, down to the consultant led unit I went.
My wonderful midwife Lucy asked me if I had a birth plan, I panicked and said no.. Which was true, I hadn't written one but I just didn't know how to talk at that moment!! When she returned I told her that actually I had done a hypnobirthing course, would like a pool and minimal pain relief unless I asked for it .. She said if a pool came available we could try and nab it.
My Midwife Lucy was wonderful.
Then the fun started. I was hooked up to monitors to check all was okay before my waters could be broken. Babies heart rate was high and they eventually put me on a drip to hydrate me, this seemed to help.
Lucy examined me and broke my waters at around 10pm. I was examined not long after and was at 4cm. I had begun to use my hypno birthing techniques, I was solely concentrating on my breathing. I wanted to be more active but my body felt so weak and I kept getting severe shakes. The pain was quite bad in my back; Lucy checked and said baby had turned slightly and was a bit back to back.. We rode it out and thankfully baby turned again.
James kept my water and juice topped up.. He says he felt useless but actually he couldn't have been any better, he knew I needed space and every now and then he reminded me how well I was doing. I was on another planet. Another hour passed and contractions were increasingly stronger and more frequent. By now the Christmas songs on the radio were doing my head in and I didn't want to hear about rudolph anymore, I asked James to put Ben Howard and it sounded wonderful!
Lucy examined me again- I was 5cm. It felt like forever. The pain was really stepping up and I felt like I wanted to scream. I asked Lucy when gas and air could come into play.. She said now if I liked! I was at the point where I thought I can't do this.. Maybe I do need more pain relief. But I never voiced this because deep down I didn't want these thoughts responded to. So I took gas and air and by god I've never experienced anything like it.
Within another hour I was 7 cm. Lucy was back.. She said to me "you won't remember half of this".. So true but I remember her saying that and her kind face and words of encouragement telling me how well I was doing. By now I didn't know what time it was and Lucy was right.. I barely remember anything.
I was stood over the bed for over an hour and Lucy asked me if I wanted to have the baby standing up, I didn't plan to and felt like a change so moved onto all fours on the bed. I was in this position for some time too.. When it came to it I puuuuushed and I screeeaaammed and I apologised for my profanities. By this point my calm and quiet breathing patterns were out the window but "relax your jaw" echoed throughout and I did still try and breath through it (...using gas and air). Lucy told me to really use my energy to push into my bum. "oooh babies got dark hair!" Lucy said. The baby was really nearly here!!
Baby wasn't coming round the bend so Lucy and Sheila (a senior midwife who came to join the party) told me to turn onto my back, after a few more pushes and a lot less screaming out baby came.. they plonked baby on me and I couldn't believe it. After a minute or so Sheila said "do we know what we've got?!" with all the excitement we hadn't even checked the gender!! James looked.. I had just given birth to a gorgeous 8lb15oz ginger baby boy.. Definitely not dark hair Lucy! At 6:06am on the 25th December 2018. I was in awe, I couldn't believe what had just happened. Not long after the salvation army were walking the corridors playing Christmas music, it was so surreal but so magical. The best Christmas ever !
Darcie did incredible! I love that throughout she just heard the echoes of my voice :) She did a 6 week womens only hypnobirthing course with me and we always kept in contact. This story is so moving as it shows the power of hypnobirthing, the power of listening to your body but the most important thing was that she went with her body and didn't fight it.
Thank you Darcie for sharing!
Azeeta Nielsen x
Jaxon Hughes born 14th November 2018
After my first son was born by emergency c section following a long induction I was apprehensive second time round.
I longed for a VBAC but had also made the decision that should I have to be induced I would opt for an elective c-section instead.
I completed hypnotherapy sessions in the lead up to the birth of my second son and found it helped keep me positive and relaxed. I had a birth plan for both eventualities - VBAC and elective c section.
I went 12 days overdue and thus went in for an elective c section on 14th November 2018. This experience couldn’t have been more different to the emergency c-section with my first son. I felt in control and listened to throughout. The staff followed my birth plan which included - having the ECG dots on my back so that they wouldn’t get in the way during skin to skin; having the IV in my non dominant hand; ensuring my baby was born calmly and gently (through the sunroof) with the drapes down; delayed cord clamping and skin to skin nearly immediately. I also had a play list on with all my fave songs.
I may not have got the VBAC I longed for but I still had a very positive experience and the oxytocin was flowing.
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!