Be Prepared for the Christmas Rush

Are we in the middle of a Christmas Baby Boom?

Over the last month or so I have had a lot of enquiries for HypnoBirthing and BabyCalm courses, often from friends of mums and dads who have had calm births and now have calm babies, thanks to these courses. However, I can’t fit everyone in and it upsets me to have to turn down people who I know I could help to have easier births and a happier experience of early parenting. It hurts especially when I am unable to help people who have been referred to me by happy clients (who are like family).

So, I beseech you, do not be afraid to contact me earlier than you think is necessary. If you call me when you are 35 weeks pregnant, I may not be able to fit you into one of my classes, and if you contact me when your baby is 12 weeks old I may not be able to fit you into a BabyCalm Mother & Baby course.

Do feel free to contact me in your first or second trimester – if you’re the first to book a HypnoBirthing course of BabyCalm Antenatal Workshop I may even reschedule it to a day that suits you. By the same token, do feel free to book a BabyCalm post-natal course in the first few weeks of parenthood or even, as some do, before your baby is born. I keep my courses small so that you have chance to ask the questions you need answers to and so that you can get to know the other parents well, which has led to lots of groups of friends being made.

Alternatively, if you have a group of friends in a similar position as you i.e. pregnant or a new parent, I may be able to schedule a course for your group – you can but ask!

I hope this helps anyone considering booking a course. I am already taking bookings for 2013 courses so do contact me if you think you’d like to make a future booking.

Can you love more than one baby?

I remember wondering before my second birth how I could possibly love a second child as much as I love my first child. All of my heart loved my first child “F”; surely there was no space to love another child. Of course, almost every mother thinks like this until they meet their next child. In my case my love for my second child “T” was instant, total but different, in part because this time around I had half an idea what I was doing.

We’re some years along the parenting path now. I love my children completely and with all of my heart but still I think I love them differently. Today I chatted with my husband about it and the nearest I could come to explaining it is that the love I feel for each of them is a different shape. My love for “F” is a round shape. “F” has the makings of a fine young lady. She is thoughtful, caring and witty; she makes me smile. Meanwhile, “T” is a bit more of a challenge but ever so cheeky and surprisingly thoughtful. The love I feel for him is more of a yearning and longing; it’s a sharper shape.

I work with a lot of expectant parents and I have to admit I envy the experience they have ahead of them of meeting their baby for the first time – gosh, if you could bottle that experience you’d make a fortune. One of my HypnoBirthing dads recently said that he could see the happiness in my face whenever I talked about meeting one’s newborn – and he was totally right.

So, are you a second time around mum worrying about how you can love a second child equally – how do you think it will work out for you?  Are you a mum of several children? Do you love your children in the same way or is there a discernible difference – is it a different shape or is there perhaps another way you would describe it? I’d love to know what others think on this topic.

BabyCalm comes to Croydon

Good News! BabyCalm comes to Croydon!!

BabyCalm is a unique concept, presented through classes and literature, which aims to empower new parents to raise their baby with confidence. BabyCalm helps new parents understand how to calm their baby’s crying, avoid colic and aid restful sleep. Turning crying babies and stressed parents into calmer babies and happier parents.

There is a vast amount of pregnancy and birth support available in the UK, but a real lack of support available to new parents with very young babies.  Many new parents are left to muddle through the trickiest time in early parenthood alone –  the time when babies cry lots and sleep little, the time of colic and tears (and not just the baby’s!), the time when most new mums are frantically searching prescriptive books written by childless so called ‘experts’ for the answer to their tiring and distressing days and nights.

BabyCalm feels these books and parenting experts disempower new parents who feel they lack the natural empathy and understanding of the author, feeling the need to look to others to advise them on how to care for their own baby, when in fact our best experts are our own instincts! BabyCalm strives to help parents to not only calm and understand their babies, but to help them to trust their instincts and confidently make their own parenting decisions without relying on somebody else’s routines or manuals.

BabyCalm offers 3 different Course formats, all reasonably priced, starting from just £40 for a group workshop:

1)    The Colic and Crying Workshop – an emergency 3hr workshop that can be taken from birth to 12 weeks with the sole aim of helping parents to calm their baby. Offered on a private basis, in your own home.

2)    The Antenatal Workshop – a 3hr workshop, taken during pregnancy to prepare parents to be to welcome their baby in a calm and confident way. Offered on a private or group basis.

3)    The 4 weeks BabyCalm course – An 8hr course (4 x 2hr), just for mums and babies, designed to soothe babies and fill new mums with confidence. Offered on a group basis.

Here is what previous BabyCalm-ers have to say:

“Samuel and I have really enjoyed the BabyCalm classes over the last few weeks and I feel it has made a real difference to us both – we’re much more calm and happier and colic free – thank you!” – Kerry and baby Samuel (12 wks)

“”Thank you so much for your help yesterday, it was absolutely invaluable – I’m pleased to report she stayed calm all afternoon, no more colic! And we got 6 hours straight sleep for the first time ever, I couldn’t believe it!” -Becky and baby Jessica (4 wks

If you would like to know more about BabyCalm or would like to book a course do contact me via:

If you want to get your own group together, e.g. the parents you met through NCT or your NHS birth preparation classes, do get in touch. If you wish to host a course yourself, I offer a discounted rate for the host!

Expectant Dads – How to be a Super Hero

How to be a Super-Hero – or what your role is during your child’s birth.

How are you feeling about the birth of your child? If you’ve seen TV births, be they fictional Soap accounts or real births on Channel 4’s One Born Every Minute you may be worried about how you are going to perform. TV dads generally fall into 2 camps – the headless chicken or a rabbit frozen in headlamps. In reality you have a great role to perform, can assist your partner in so many ways AND reflect afterwards on what a great part you played. When you perform your role well, you get to be a SUPER-HERO in your partner’s eyes. It’s a Win-Win situation.

First let’s look at what’s going on for your partner during birth. Women are designed to give birth perfectly well. However, most women hold varying degrees of fear about birth, ranging from ‘a bit nervous’ to ‘terrified’. Such fears cause her body to release the stress hormone catecholamine which sends her body into a fight or flight response. As much as she might want to she can’t take either option so instead she freezes which stops her body working effectively, causing childbirth to slow or stop and become painful. So where do you come in? Well, if you can keep her chilled and relaxed she won’t feel fear, which will make the birth smoother, even enjoyable and because YOU made it happen that way, YOU get to be the SUPER-HERO.

So, you’re now asking how you’re supposed to make all this happen. It’s surprisingly easy.  Let’s think of what’s going to make your partner stressed or fearful. In the build-up to the big day she is going to hear a lot of horror-stories from friends and family and she’s going to probably watch too many negative birth experiences on TV too. You will need to counterbalance this by helping her to prepare for the birth in a positive way.

The first way you will do this is by attending ante-natal appointments and classes with her. This is not just so your partner can feel supported it is so you can pick up a huge amount of useful information. You’ll learn how your local midwifery team do things and you’ll start to learn the jargon that might be used on the day too. You may also be able to build up a relationship with the team that you will see when your child is born. Even if you are planning a home-birth it is worth taking the tour of the maternity unit with your partner. Take a look at the birthing suite and ask how the room works. Can you lower the lighting or play music? Can you move the bed around and are birthing balls available. Ask what the process is for checking in. Find out where to park; do you have to pay; do you have to use a different entrance in the evenings or weekends? Research now will help on the day.

Write a Birth Plan together. This will explain to the midwives and doctors the preferences that your partner has for the birth. Ensure you understand what your partner wants so that you can advocate for her. Ensure that all avenues are explored. She may want to aim for a fully natural birth but the plan should also state her preferences for other eventualities. Take the opportunity to work out what everything is in the hospital bag. When the baby is born the midwife will ask you for some clothes and a nappy. Make sure you know what they are, and where they are.

So, THE BIG DAY has arrived. You, the SUPER-HERO, swing into action.  If you
are going to hospital, your partner will let you know when she is ready. You already know how to get there, where to park, and have money ready to pay for the parking. You know how to get into the maternity ward and have the maternity notes and birth plan to hand. You are fully in control. Your partner is concentrating on what her body is doing so it is your role to protect her from anything that could break the flow of childbirth and to advocate on her behalf. In fact all conversations between her and medical staff can be channelled through you if she wishes to stay within her birthing body.

You reach the birthing suite. You’ll have chatted through what she didn’t like about the room so help her to be in a place where she can’t see the things she didn’t like e.g. the clock that is going to tell her she isn’t labouring fast enough. Talking of time, many hospitals will aim for your partner’s cervix to dilate by 1cm per hour. Well, the arrival at hospital may cause things to slow or stop for a while. Tell her that’s OK, her body is just adjusting to its new environment.  Staff are going to come in, breaking the flow.  This is when you are really masterful and take control. When intervention or timescales are suggested YOU are really going to swing into action and YOU are going to do that by asking questions using your BRAINS! This is how you’ll do it:

B is for Benefit – What is the benefit of the intervention suggested?

R is for Risk – What is the risk?

A is for Alternatives – What is the alternative?

I is for Instinct – What does your Instinct tell you?

N is for No – What happens if you doing nothing – or wait another hour?

S is for Smile –  You’d be amazed how far approaching this politely will get you.

Before you know it, your baby is with you. You’ll tell your partner how great she’s been, you’ll tell her how proud you are of her and you’ll melt when you see your beautiful baby. You are also going to feel hugely proud of your part in the birth. You’re not a TV dad, you’re a SUPER-HERO. Prepare to take the plaudits for a job well-done.

If you’d like to know more about how you can support your partner during pregnancy and birth, and prove to be a Super-Hero, take a look at my Private HypnoBirthing Classes and Group HypnoBirthing Classes.

Say Cheese!

I’m just back from my hols (we had a great time thanks) where I noticed strange behaviour. Everywhere that we saw children we saw parents photographing and videoing their children. Now, don’t get me wrong, I took photos of my two munchkins on the beach, at the mini-disco and at the playground. However, I took photos of them playing, dancing – just having fun. Other parents, and I mean A LOT of parents, were taking it very seriously.

  • We witnessed what can only be described as a photo-shoot on the beach. The children weren’t running in the surf and building sand castles. For an hour cheesy poses were struck whilst mum and dad contorted themselves and lay on the ground getting the best shot whilst the grandparents posed the children’s limbs and straightened their hair. The children looked miserable.
  • At the mini-disco (my personal favourite and my only regret was that I was too old to join in) one parent would lay on the floor photographing whilst the other would video the whole event. I would have been mortified if my mum had laid on the floor snapping away at me – and frankly a bit peeved if there wasn’t much room to dance due to the number of parents lying on the floor to get the best angle. I ‘ve just checked YouTube and found a number of videos from the mini-disco in question!
  • What prompted this posting was the last day at the playground. I went with my son and he had a ball charging around but he was the only child charging around since all the other parents were in serious reportage mode – lying on the ground, halfway up a slide, clinging on to a climbing wall to get the perfect posed picture of their child NOT playing.

I have a lot of memories of my children and the fun we have had over the years. I also have photos, some professional but mostly just my amateur snaps. However, the memories I have are not linked to the photos. From our holiday I will remember how much my children giggled on the water slide, danced their hearts out at the mini-disco and fell in love with Lisa and Adrien at the mini-club. Photos and videos can’t capture the joy of it and I would regret not noticing the joy of it if I was viewing it through a lens or even worse had curtailed the joy because it was ruining the shot!

Every day I think back to the day my babies were born. I can still sense the feelings and thoughts flooding my body as they lay on my chest for the first time. I do have photos from those days but they are not the basis of my memory because you can’t photograph a feeling.

I hope parents will take the time to just enjoy their children having fun rather than laying on the ground to get the best shot.

Everything but the kitchen sink?

One thing I’m asked time again is what to take in a hospital bag. The last thing you want is to have got settled in the maternity ward to realise that you’ve left the most crucial item behind so I have written a list that should cover most eventualities.

The Bag Itself

Lets start with the bag itself. Try to keep the size and weight of the bag to a minimum because the person carrying the bag, hopefully not you, is going to do a lot of carrying as he/she walks from the car park to reception, and on to the maternity ward,  the delivery suite and finally the postnatal ward. You may find it easier to take 2 small bags, one for you during the birth and one for after the birth, perhaps with a nappy and first clothes on the very top to avoid the whole bag being emptied to get the baby dressed. Soft bags rather than hard sided cases are preferable for squeezing into hospital cupboards.

For Mum

  • Something comfortable and light-weight (hospitals can be very warm) to give birth in.
  • A dressing gown, preferably in a dark colour.
  • Slippers.
  • Lip balm
  • Things to help you relax or pass the time, such as books, magazines, games and so on. If you are likely to want to use your iPad, play music or a DVD take a battery-operated equipment, as many hospitals won’t let you plug things in. Some hospitals provide their own CD players or radios so check this when you take the maternity tour during your pregnancy.
  • A hairband. If you have long hair, you’ll probably want to tie it up.
  • Pillows. The hospital might not have enough to make you really comfortable. Perhaps leave these in the car for your partner to collect as required.
  • Nursing bras, tops or nightie to make breastfeeding easy.
  • Breast pads
  • Old, cheap or disposable pants. If you end up having a caesarean large ‘hip huggers’ can work really well.
  • Proper maternity towels. These are usually a little softer than sanitary towels which is useful if you have had stitches.
  • A toiletry bag with anything you would normally take for a couple of days away.  Maybe some make-up too, especially if your local newspaper visits the hospital to photograph babies for its new arrivals page! I learnt this to my cost when I ended up in the local ‘Advertiser’ looking like the creature from the deep!
  • Arnica tablets to help with bruising after the birth. Many women report that taking arnica helps reduce bruising and helps the healing process.
  • Food and drink for during and after birth. HypnoBirthing® mums especially tend not to lose their appetite so be prepared with a supply of goodies. Also, if you give birth during the evening or night it may be that no food is available until the morning and by that point you will have worked up a hunger. Remember that your partner will be hungry/thirsty too.

For Baby

  • Nappies
  • Cotton wool balls
  • Nappy Bags
  • Something to go home in; consider whether the weather is likely to be hot, cold or wet.
  • Sleepsuits, Bodysuits etc.
  • Blanket.
  • Socks or Booties
  • Scratch Mitts
  • Muslin Squares
  • Hat
  • Don’t forget to have an appropiate infant car seat ready. Most hospitals won’t let you leave by car without one. Take the time beforehand to read the instructions. When I put my baby in for the first time I had no idea how to tighten the straps and the midwife wasn’t able to help either so I had to get the manual out before we could leave!

For Your Birth Companion

  • A change of clothes for your birth companion in case their’s get messy.
  • Something to wear in the pool if he/she is likely to join you.
  • Food and drink.

Don’t Forget!

    • Your birth preferences. Take a few copies in case there is a shift change during your birth.
    • Your hospital notes.
    • Change for the car park. Leave some change in your car now (out of view) so there will always be some change available. During your hospital tour ask whether there are any special arrangements for the maternity patients. At my local hospital the parents pay for the first 2 hours and then a sign is put in the car to tell the parking attendant that the ticket will not be renewed due to it belonging to a birthing mother. This was not widely advertised so it is worth asking.
    •  A fully charged camera. Don’t rely on your phone or tablet that you have been using for hours to keep you entertained to have sufficient juice left to take photos.

 

Don’t Take:

Anything valuable since hospitals tend not to provide lockable cupboards and you may have to move to a different room quickly so items are easily mislaid.

 

I purposely haven’t put quantities down since you can never tell how long your birth will take and how long you will remain in the post-natal ward. Some mothers leave hospital within a few hours whilst more complicated births can result in a longer stay. Therefore, take enough for a couple of days but leave additional supplies, well labelled, at home for your partner to bring in as necessary. Perhaps go through it with him/her since new parents don’t necessarily know the difference between a romper suit, a babygro and a sleepsuit; I certainly didn’t and neither did my husband. Also ensure that your partner knows the whereabouts of the closest Mothercare. Boots or similar in case there is something that you have totally forgotten.

I won’t have covered everything so please, if you can think of anything else, please add a comment. I hope this has been helpful.

If you’re also worried about what you need back at home, check out: What Do I Need To Buy?