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Hypnobirthing- Calm and relaxed, so calm and relaxed…

gerbera-611568_1920I’m naturally a worrier. Really, my mum has always said that if I don’t have something to worry about then I tend to find something.  Although oddly enough since having the Little Man I tend to worry about important stuff rather than silly little things- I reckon it’s because all my priorities have changed. But I digress.

One huge worry for me when I became pregnant was the birth- I know that probably sounds quite obvious!  Although I had a lovely illness-free pregnancy, there was always that fear of what was at the end of the pregnancy- basically I was terrified of the labour bit.   Try as I might to prepare by reading up on things and talking things through, there was always that worry lurking there at the back of my mind- that a miniature, melon sized person was eventually going to exit me one way or another (I used fruit comparisons throughout my pregnancy-very ‘Denise from the Royle Family’, I know. It was cute calling the baby grape, satsuma and plum- he was plum for ages- but less fun when we got to the melon stage and cold harsh reality started to settle in) .  I had nothing to compare this to, and just couldn’t imagine it, so it really gave me the heebie- jeebies.

When reading the multiple leaflets that you’re bombarded with as a pregnant lady, I came across one that mentioned hypnobirthing and gave contact details for a hypnobirthing practitioner.

I’m a pretty sceptical person really- but I figured that anything that could help me might be worth doing, so I contacted the lady on the leaflet and she gave me a call back.  When I spoke to her she gave me a bit more information about hypnobirthing- I really didn’t know much at the time and it seems to me that there have been a lot more articles about it since I had my little boy, although maybe it’s just because I notice them more.   I was struck by how calm and reassuring she was, and she put me at my ease straight away. During the conversation I decided to give it a go, and ended up booking myself and my husband onto a hypnobirthing course.  I know- he couldn’t wait to go.

We ended up going to 2 full day sessions using the Wise Hippo method of hypnobirthing- I think the aim is that they’re often 4 shorter sessions, so it was quite intensive.  Feeling a bit like a hippo myself I sank down into a comfy bean bag, wondering how the hell I was going to get up.  We were doing the sessions with one other couple which was really nice as we could ask as many questions of the hypnobirthing instructor as we liked without feeling too silly as part of a big group.  Initially we discussed our thoughts about birth and what we wanted to get out of the course- the other lady there had given birth ten years before and had a pretty bad experience, so was understandably terrified second time around.   I mentioned my fears too, and that basically I was aiming to feel less scared.  It helped that our instructor was a midwife and mum too I think, as she had lots of experience of many different births, and had pretty much seen and heard it all before.

The two day course involved lots of practical exercises based around the Wise Hippo book and MP3s- we also got access to their website to view the content on there and download the MP3s so that we could practice at home.  Our instructor took us through a variety of relaxation and breathing techniques, using visualisation, self-hypnosis and the MP3s.  She talked us through the birth process, and discussed our fears, and we watched some amazing videos of births which used hypnobirthing- I couldn’t believe how calm they were.  We also discussed birth plans, birthing positions and pain relief, and our instructor had lots of advice to share on these.

After the two day long sessions, we really embraced practicing to the MP3s.  I listened to the birthing affirmations quite often- this is a list of positive and uplifting phrases about childbirth. My husband got into practising too, and we listened to the MP3s together, practising our breathing exercises.  It was so relaxing at times that we nodded off sometimes, although quite often the little man used to go completely nuts in my stomach- or maybe I just noticed more because I was laid still for a while.

I have to say that I started doing hypnobirthing with a fairly cynical outlook, but I figured that I was so scared that I’d be daft to ignore anything that had a chance of helping me.  I can honestly say though that it really worked for me during my pregnancy- it did change my feelings about giving birth, and as quite an anxious person the relaxation and breathing techniques really helped calm me down- I find myself wishing I was so relaxed when faced with a toddler tantrum nowadays!  I don’t feel like I used it as much during the birth of my son as everything just happened so fast- I went from hardly any pain to the latter stages of childbirth extremely quickly.  Added to that he was breech (undetected throughout my pregnancy-oh joy!) and in distress, so to cut a longish story short I ended up having an emergency Caesarean rather than the water birth that I’d hoped for.  However, I do think it may have helped me to deal with early minor pains, and it certainly helped with worries during my pregnancy.  If, like me you’re worried about giving birth then it’s definitely worth a try.





A hair-raising first Mother’s Day


Well, Mother’s Day is here, and it’s been a lovely one-beautifully sunny and actually feeling like spring. It’s been a nice relaxing day involving a gorgeous three course meal with my loved ones, and most importantly no visits to hospital.

I say this, because quite a large proportion of my first Mother’s Day was spent with the little man in hospital surroundings, firstly in our local Accident and Emergency Department, and secondly at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

What could have caused all this, you might be asking?

One of my hairs.

Yup, you read that correctly.

On my first Mother’s Day the little man was three months old.  He was a little bit grumpy during the day, but as he could be at times we didn’t really think much of it.  However, by late afternoon he was inconsolable.  Nothing worked to help calm him down.  We thought that he might need changing, and that was when we noticed that the middle toe on his right foot was bright red and swollen. On closer inspection one of my hairs was wrapped so tightly around the base of his toe that it was cutting off the blood supply to the toe.  Because my hair is very fair it was almost impossible to see, and although we did attempt to remove it at home we were pretty unsuccessful-  part of the hair came away but not all of it. We couldn’t really see what we were doing properly and were scared of damaging the toe further , so we made the trip to our local A and E.

After a long wait, we were referred on to Sheffield Children’s Hospital, as our local hospital thought that the little man may have to be anaesthetised, and the Children’s Hospital has more expertise in this field. Thankfully no general anaesthetic was needed, and I was so relieved because I was terrified of him being put under anaesthetic.  Because the tourniquet was wrapped so tightly they had to cut down to the bone to remove it, and as a result my husband and I spent my first Mother’s Day night in hospital with my little one. We were squashed up in a little single bed while the little man sprawled out in a huge cot which was a far cry from the little Moses basket he had at home at the time!  He also seemed to enjoy all the attention from the various nurses that came to check on him.

Thankfully the little man healed quickly, but it is shocking to think how much damage a stray hair or thread in the foot of a sleepsuit or sock can cause.  I’d not heard of hair tourniquets when this happened.  I felt so upset, and in particular as one of my hairs caused all this it made me feel quite guilty.  However, I’ve since learnt that hair tourniquets are less uncommon than you may think, with approximately 60 cases per year in the UK alone- toes, fingers and penises can be affected.  They are linked to hormonal maternal hair loss, which is prevalent at around three months.

I know as a new mum you’re bombarded with information about dangers to your baby and I really don’t want to panic anybody but please please don’t overlook this- make sure you check socks and sleepsuits in particular.  I was so careful with everything- if it can happen to me it can happen to anyone.


What I learnt on my weekend away with the Little Man and the Big Man

  • It is easy to get lost on the way to The Bay, Filey- especially when it is dark. And, when it is dark, all the houses there start to look very similar.
  • But when you do get there, it’s totally worth it because the Nikki beach house you’re staying in is so lovely- beautifully furnished, snug and comfy- the little man settles in straight away, and starts unpacking all his chuggers (on departure we ended up doing a roll-call of the entire cast of Chuggington to make sure that we weren’t leaving any behind- Brewster was missing, but we found him at home so crisis averted).
  • The Sealife Centre at Scarborough is great, but toddlers don’t really appreciate how to walk around it in the correct direction, so we missed the seahorses. The little man also seemed to think that the climbing frame thingy was all his, then got stuck in the tunnel and needed coaxing out. He did love the penguins though, and they loved him right back-future career as the penguin whisperer?
  • The miniature railway at Peasholm Park, Scarborough is ace- the little man loved it, and in particular waving at passers-by in the manner of the Queen.
  • Lemon Twist ice-cream at Alonzi’s Harbour Bar- yum.
  • The little man loves fish and chips. Well, chips and batter scraps- the fish (being the only remotely healthy part) not so much.
  • Jaffa cakes make excellent bribes to get a toddler into a pushchair/ car seat. This would work with me too, to be fair.
  • Old Jack and Salty Dog do not live in Staithes all year round. Neither does that murderer from Eastenders, or the swinger from Benidorm.  If you go there looking for The Rainbow, your time will be wasted.  Lovely place though- nice beach (though blowing a gale and freezing on the day we visited-making an attractive hat-and-hood-up combo necessary) . Brilliant food at the Cod and Lobster, including a nice children’s menu.
  • Whitby is also very nice- I think carrying a 2 stone plus toddler who refused to walk around took the shine off it a bit for my husband though.
  • Got to watch an actual film as a couple after the little man went to bed.  Granted, we had to watch it in two sittings, but we got through The Revenant.  Great film, however we were struck by how similar it is to Stick Man, although it is about two hours longer. Proof that we’ve probably seen Stick Man too many times…
  • Filey is probably lovely, but on the day we spent time there it was cold and grey. Still, the amusements on the front were ace- most of  the little rides were from the 1990s so it was a real nostalgia fest- there’s a Balamory bus, Basil Brush’s car and Bob the Builder’s Digger. Also, the best walnut whips EVER from Sterchi’s- a tiny shop which is actual chocolate heaven- made the day much better.
  • The Little Man has now learnt to say ‘money please’ when the ride he is on has stopped and he wants another go. Uh-oh. We have considered buying a coin operated Bob the Builder digger for in our garden- it’d work out cheaper in the long run.
  • The Piebald Inn at Hunmanby has the best pie menu ever- 50 pies to choose from, and a good children’s menu too. Massively full on the journey home, but very much worth it- my husband was in heaven.