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BRAND IN FOCUS // THE POSITIVE BIRTH COMPANY

I’ll try and be brief with the introduction here, because I’m doing my upmost to avoid all and any negativity right now!

(I’m currently 40 weeks and 2 days pregnant). 

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My pregnancy with Eli wasn’t straight forward. We had a lot of complications and constant monitoring. We were high risk. Then came labour. I won’t go into the details, but I had a pretty awful and traumatic labour with Eli. I was induced at almost 42 weeks, I had no say in the labour, it was an agonising 30+ hours with every intervention possible. It all ended in a whirlwind of a dodgy episiotomy and ventouse that saw the room fill with 15+ people and before the threat of emergency C-Section.

It was VERY medical. I was never given options – I accepted what was told to me, because heck, Doctors know best, right?

We knew no different. We actually thought it was a ‘normal’ labour!

Following the stress of Eli’s pregnancy and in hindsight, the trauma of his birth, plus my miscarriage in-between; falling with this my third pregnancy, I KNEW something had to change.

My anxiety was through the roof when we began trying again; despite my medication and an abundance of self-help. The anxiety was surely inevitable following a miscarriage, yes. But the anxiety surrounding labour didn’t need to be there. This is where Hypnobirthing comes in…


I started researching into Hypnobirthing properly as soon as I got the second line on that pregnancy test back in November 2018.

My initial belief was that Hypnobirthing was all about being hypnotised during labour… L O L. No, it’s definitely nothing to do with being hypnotised. But after reading the birth stories on forums and blogs, I still sat on the sceptical fence… I mean, what even is this HIPPY, DIPPY, BALONEY?!

The more I read, the more I became obsessively intrigued by it. To the point where, yep, you guessed right, my anxiety surrounding labour took a real back-seat.

Having used The Yes Mum cards for daily affirmations I ordered the book: Your Baby, Your Birth.  I would pick the book up and fall asleep and it became clear I needed something more engaging. I also wanted to do something that James could get involved with at the same time. Local classes were really expensive and not at convenient times for us.  It’s certainly worth mentioning here too that James found my labour with Eli horrendous. He felt totally helpless and all he could do was sit beside me with his hands turning white under my constant clench. Him being there was all I needed at that time, but he will be first to admit that its scarred him somewhat – he definitely experienced birth trauma too. This time he wanted to be helpful, to have a real role in my pregnancy and subsequently, the labour.

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Then pops up The Positive Birth Company on Instagram. Boom. I began following and was hooked. Incidentally, Siobhan had been following me too and very kindly offered for us to give her Digital Course a try.

I obviously jumped at the chance! I’d read that starting a Hypnobirthing course would be best from 28 weeks onwards. But as we had it at 25 weeks, it seemed daft not to begin straight away.

Once my profile was all set up on the Digital Pack, I familiarised myself with the platform. From a user point of view, it’s a really neat and simple platform first of all. It’s organised perfectly and so easy to use. The branding is spot on too – which really helps when you’re trying to learn but also ‘zone out’, the colours and fonts used are quite obviously well-thought through. I was so impressed with how thorough the course looked – six sections with everything you could ever possibly need to know (and more!) surrounding pregnancy, labour, birth and beyond.

It came to bedtime so we grabbed the laptop, put candles on and cosied up in bed with the first of the 6 sections in the Digital Pack. Each section is from 40-60+ minutes long. So you want to dedicate some real quality time to this. We decided we would look at one section a night – where possible; spreading it over days where needed, so it wasn’t too much information at once.

We were immediately into it. Siobhan has such a gentle and clear tone – plus the information was exceptionally thorough and we really, really enjoyed learning. We were pausing videos along the way to recap what we’d learned so far- and again when we had decisions to plan between us. Learning to use more positive ‘birth language’ still has me on my toes at times – for instance, we refer to contractions as a Surge  – it just rids the questioning of any negativity and apprehension that could slow labour down. Likewise, talking about the ‘power’ of a surge, as opposed to the amount of pain I’m in, will help me to understand how my body is working to birth my baby – allowing my body to be in total and instinctive control of the labour.

I think we’d both agree that one of the most interesting sections for both of us was the SCIENCE section. We both learned SO MUCH about the female body and what it goes through during pregnancy, labour and birth. I honestly can’t believe I’ve reached the age of 33 , having had one child, not knowing some of the actual childbirth process. I feel like Siobhan really needs to take elements of this course into schools – its been a true education for us!

One of the best bits of this course has been getting to grips with the roles each of us will ‘play’ once labour begins. My only job here is to remember my Up & Down breathing and to keep calm, relaxed and at ease. Whereas James has an actual  list of things he will be seeking to fulfil – something he’s genuinely excited about and so grateful to have responsibility for; especially following the helplessness he felt during my labour with Eli.

It’s also worth highlighting here that Hypnobirthing isn’t just for ‘normal’ vaginal delivery – this is an education that will take you through all aspects of labour, whether that be via water, land or theatre – whether thats planned theatre or unplanned. The relaxation tools and techniques will enable you to have confidence in your OWN decisions during labour and birth (and postpartum too!). The tools will give you back the control of your labour. This feeling of being in full control is something that I’m finding very empowering after such a dreadful labour with Eli.

After completing all 6 sections of the Digital Pack, you can quickly review specific sections in the Course Notes Booklet (which you can download and print – we’re taking a copy with my Maternity notes) – which is great for back-referencing. There are also a series of MP3’s included too, which have been so invaluable during my pregnancy – especially these later weeks when I can often get into bed feeling deflated. I listen to the Positive Affirmations for Pregnancy MP3 on repeat when I’m in the bath or for an hour or so, as soon as I get in bed. This normally soothes me into a lovely slumber (before I’m awoken shortly after for my first loo-trip of the night!). I can imagine this MP3 being perfect during labour – I’d been looking at Spa Music to play – but actually, I think I’d prefer to have the MP3 running in the background as a reminder that I’m getting closer to meeting my baby.

 

On top of all of this, you also get a (now editable!) downloadable PDF template for highlighting your birth preferences; should you wish to prepare any.  Obviously, you can do this yourself, but the sections on the template are perfectly set out and clear to read in a rush. My midwife was very impressed when I presented them at my 36 week appointment (!). My birth preferences have completely changed since starting this Hypnobirthing course – and again since reading the positive birth stories on the closed Facebook community page (which you also get access too once you sign up for the course!). Reading these stories every day has been so helpful in cementing the notion that I CAN do this and I WILL do this – whenever my baby decides is the right time.

To surmise, I can quite honestly say that this Digital Course has changed our lives. Obviously; we have the birth bit to come. But I have to say that the course, by @thepositivebirthmama (and her amazingly soothing voice), has provided such wisdom, scientific facts, relaxation tools and the foresight to retain control this time; for both @jameshill.tv and I. Weirdly, I am actually excited for labour to begin – however and whenever it does happen✨ And I most certainly would not be feeling this way had we not studied this course. I’m not even sure I would have gotten through the last 20 weeks so easily without it either. How many people can say that?

Thank you so much @thepositivebirthcompany for making me feel so different this time around – and the tools you’ve taught us both will continue to be helpful for life in general postpartum, I’m certain 🖤 We’re both shocked at how informed and relaxed and prepared we feel.

I will be doing a full write-up post-labour, however it pans out! But for now, I cannot recommend @thepositivebirthcompany enough. Currently pregnant? You MUST go forth and seek for yourself!

C
✖️✖️✖️

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MORE FROM THE POSITIVE BIRTH COMPANY

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Upon completing the course, I purchased the Little pack of positivity directly from The Positive Birth Company website. Each pack contains 28 cards, each with a positive affirmation for pregnancy. I immediately placed the cards around our house where I would see them as a little reminders; reducing anxiety and boosting confidence around birth. The more confident you are, the more relaxed you will feel. The more relaxed you are the better your birth will be.

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Also available, to continue your understanding of Hypnobirthing (or instead of doing the course), you can find Hypnobirthing: Practical Ways to make your Birth Better, by founder, Siobhan Miller. The book is widely available, including from Amazon.co.uk, here.

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Now that I’m mentally prepared for labour – I also wanted to share the accompanying App by the Positive Birth Company. The FREYA app is currently available on the App store. I’ve used it frequently when tracking Braxton Hicks – again, its simple to use, effective and we know this is going to be an essential when labour begins for real. During the timing of surges, the Up Breathing soundtrack is so useful  – especially if you don’t want your birth partner to attempt to do it for you (we tried and I found James’ voice too distracting – and we also creased up when he attempted to read out the positive affirmations too).

“Freya is the world’s first hypnobirthing-friendly surge (contraction) timer and virtual birth partner. She will coach you through each surge with a simple breathing technique and help you to relax in between with positive affirmations, calming visualisations and guided relaxation. The more relaxed you are, the more efficient and comfortable your labour will be. Freya will help you to remain calm and in control throughout. She will also keep track of how frequently your surges are coming and how long they are lasting. She will even let you know when it might be a good idea to contact your midwife! Freya will be with you every step – or surge – of the way!”

ALSO COMING SOON – THE POSTPARTUM COURSE.

Follow @ThePositiveBirthCompany for the latest details!

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MORE ABOUT SIOBHaN MILLER

Expert hypnobirthing teacher and founder of The Positive Birth Company Siobhan Miller has made it her mission to change the way women around the world approach and experience birth. Through her teaching she seeks to educate and empower women – and their birth partners – so that they can enjoy amazing and positive birth experiences, however they choose to bring their babies into the world.

Siobhan debunks common myths about hypnobirthing and explains why she believes it can make every type of birth a better experience – from a water birth at home to an unplanned caesarean in theatre.

So, what is hypnobirthing? Essentially, it’s a form of antenatal education, an approach to birth that is both evidence-based and logical. Hypnobirthing certainly doesn’t involve being hypnotised; instead, it teaches you how your body works on a muscular and hormonal level when in labour and how you can use various relaxation techniques to ensure you are working with your body (rather than against it), making birth more efficient and comfortable.

Siobhan’s advice and guidance will change your mindset and enable you to navigate your birth with practical tools that ensure you feel calm and in control throughout.

By the time you finish this course  you’ll feel relaxed, capable and genuinely excited about giving birth.

To read more about how and why Siobhan started The Positive Birth Company, please click here.

 

 


For clarity, I was kindly #gifted The Digital Course by The Positive Birth Company. This is not a sponsored, paid post or an ad – but does contain a highlighted Affiliate link, above.

I only shout about items that I genuinely believe in, so be safe in the knowledge that I’m in love The PBC!

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Belle & Boo | Very Merry Christmas (book).

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This week I received the most wonderful book in the post – “Belle & boo, and the Very Merry Christmas.

We’re mad on Christmas, always have been – always will be. I think most people are surprised our tree and decorations aren’t up yet to be honest… but we’re traditionalists since Mr Eli arrived, getting a real tree again this year, on 1st December.

Anyway, I digress. We had decided last year, that we would buy Mr Eli a Christmas book every year; that we would sit and read on Christmas Eve. Last year we went classic with  The Night Before Christmas, by Clement. C. Moore. This Christmas Eve, we’ll be reading our amazingly beautiful “and the Very Merry Christmas” book by Belle & Boo creator, Mandy Sutcliffe.

I’d had this book on my ‘wish list’ since it was announced on pre-order. I was TOO excited. So imagine my absolute joy at opening the book and seeing the below specially signed copy from Mandy herself.

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I’ve had a very quick flick through the first few pages, but do not want to look further – I don’t want to spoil our Christmas Eve read!

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But from what I’ve seen, I can assure you, this is a very pretty book that will make just the perfect Christmas present for any little one! We really cannot wait to read this one.

Do you have any Christmas traditions you and your family create year-on-year?

MM.

 

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Our changing bag: The Mulberry Clipper Holdall.

This has been the sight next to our front door, for the past NINE weeks. These are all our hospital bags, ready and waiting! Suitcase is mine, and is filled to the brim with every essential you need for your stay at hospital – you can read what those absolute essentials are, here>>I’ve FINALLY done it! Hospital Bag(s) are packed! The amazing Mulberry Clipper Holdall is our changing bag (more on that in a second), the Barbour bag to the bottom left is OH’s essentials (iPad, change of clothing, toiletries) and the Borough Market bag is all our food supplies!

So, Changing Bag… we spent such a long time searching for the “perfect” bag. We wanted something that didn’t look ‘Mummsy’. We didn’t want something that was feminine, OH will be carrying it around too! During our search we found that there was nothing that was completely unisex – apart from the generic black satchel style bags… which to be honest, just didn’t hit the spot for us! This is going to be a bag that we’ll use every day, so we wanted to be really happy with it! All of the ‘Mummsy’ style bags are pretty expensive anyway, £250+!

We looked for actual Leather satchels as we felt this would be most universal for us both. But with Leather, comes a pricetag. We soon found that even just nice Leather satchel bags, that weren’t necessarily for our purpose, were coming up at £400+. When we would look into the details of these bags, we found that there just wouldn’t be enough space for everything that a babba needs on a daily basis – as well as what we might need to cram in for ourselves too! We also decided we wanted something that would be kind of waterproof – Britain is not renowned for it’s dry weather is it!

We went to all the usual high street stores in search of just a standard, but small, holdall that would meet all our demands. We almost settled on this one from Barbour – Barbour Wax Cotton and Leather Trim Satchel, £119: Style available from JohnLewis.com

But, this bag is actually a little too big for what we need it for! It looked massive against me and I just couldn’t see ME using it. OH on the other hand, was chuffed with it.

So on with the search!

I’m a massive fan of Mulberry. It’s my favourite brand. So, I said I wanted a Mulberry Alexa…

Mulberry Oversized Alexa Messenger & Shoulder Bag, £925. Style available from JohnLewis.com

But then we realised that the £795 size wasn’t big enough… and £795 is a ridiculous price for a ‘changing’ bag! OH also concluded that an Alexa was too feminine for him. I did email Mulberry regarding changing bags, as they’re clearly missing a huge audience by not offering a selection! They replied to me with:

We have taken on board customer requests for changing bags and our soon to be available Autumn Winter 2012 collection will include the Rosie Baby bag in Black or Oak Tiger Print Nylon as part of the range.

Pretty exciting! But a bit too late…

Then I started looking at their holdalls. We’d always said we wanted a Clipper holdall. They’re classic Mulberry. They’re perfect for trips away. They’re a style that just will not date – but will get better with age.

We went along to Westfield: Stratford City to take a closer look. The Simple Mulberry Clipper Holdall (£350), was the perfect size! Inside and out 🙂

So we said “sod it” and bought it 😀 It’s beautiful. We’re over the moon with it – and more to the point, unlike ‘real’ changing bags, we’ll be using this holdall for years and years and years and years to come. It’s a style that is built to last! So we were happy to pay the £350 price-tag, because it’s going to get so much more use than a standard changing bag. It completely meets our very niche criteria and OH cannot wait to get outside with it 🙂

MM.

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Surprises from my best friends!

Table at Babylon restaurant, Kensington Roof Gardens.

On Saturday of last week (9th June), I was whisked off to Kensington for lunch with my best friends at Babylon, Kensington Roof Gardens. The restaurant and garden’s were absolutely amazing… there were real-life flamingo’s in the gardens! On the ROOF, in Kensington! Crazy!

When I arrived at the restaurant I called my friends and they came and met me at the reception and lead me to our table. They’d decked the table out with ‘Baby Shower’ banners and presents! What a lovely surprise!

I thought I’d share the lovely gifts that they got us 😀

Scrummy cupcakes from Whole Foods.
Scrummy cupcakes from Whole Foods.

 

We're massive fans of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar", so this amazing box has taken pride of place in the nursery!

 

Lots of presents! Lots of essentials 🙂

 

Beautiful gifts from The Little White Company.

 

Absolutely adore this super-soft bunny rabbit and elephant rattle from The Little White Company!

MM.

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I’ve FINALLY done it! Hospital Bag(s) are packed!

After weeks and weeks of , “Oh, I’ll definitely pack it this weekend!“, I did actually get round to packing my hospital bag(s) this week! But only after I thought I was going into labour with my coccyx pain! Perhaps Baby Boy Bump was tired of my excuses for not packing the bags too!

So, with this all in mind. I thought I’d share my list of ESSENTIALS. I’ve been through absolutely dozens of “What to pack…” lists, along with forums and speaking with friends. And I think I’ve pretty much formed the definitive list. You DO need to take lots to the hospital. I’ve chosen to take everything in a suitcase simply because it’s easier than cramming everything into lots of bags… it will also fit in the boot of our car neater 🙂 I do know it looks like I’m going on holiday, but I swear, it’s all completely necessary!

Here we go then…

FOR ME.
To have ready to hand.
Birth plan/preferences
Maternity notes
Cash for carpark
Cash for payphone – there might not be signal. The battery might go on your phone!

For labour/ward.
Maternity pads – two packs of 10
Breast pads – 15 pairs
Cheap nightie(s)
Large cotton knickers – 7-10 pairs
Bedsocks with grips to the bottom – your feet get cold during labour.
Massage oil
Lipbalm
Bobbles
Headband
Hair grips
Brush
Pillows – my usual pillow and maternity pillow
x2 Dark towels
Phone chargers
Change of clothing for leaving the hospital – baggy, to fit at least a 4-5 month pregnant bump.
Slippers/Flip flops
Fan
Stopwatch – to time contractions
Swimwear – for the birthing pool!
Hot water bottle
Plastic jug – useful for afterwards, going to the loo is likely to be quite painful. Pouring a jug of warm water over the affected area whilst going to the loo can allegedly help sooth the pain.
List of phone numbers on paper
Face cloth
Camera
Toilet roll – we like our quilted Andrex!
Plastic bag for dirty clothes/towels
Book/Magazines
Pen and paper – useful for writing down notes that may be passed on from doctors/midwives; or in the instance that I can’t talk whilst mid-contraction! Also good to have if we get bored and fancy hangman!
Clean clothing for James (Other half)
Ear plugs – it might be quite noisy… 
Nice nightie for afterwards
Dark dressing gown
Birthing ball – just incase there isn’t one spare. This can be left in the boot if not needed.
Birthing ball pump

Toiletries
Shampoo
Conditioner
Makeup bag
Mirror
Deoderant
Toothpaste
Toothbrush
Mouthwash
Facewipes
Antibacterial hand gel
Gaviscon
Anusol
Deoderant
Dettol wipes for ward
Lavender Oil
James’ wash bag with toothbrush/deoderant/bryl creme

Something extra…
Chocolates for the Midwives for afterwards
Card for the Midwives for afterwards

Food/Snacks/Drinks
Raspberry Leaf Tea
Mini cheddars
Bananas
Cereal bars
Frozen drinks – it’s apparently quite hot on the wards. A frozen drink will melt slowly, so will be much nicer than warm bottled water!
Juice – cordial
Bottles of water
Glucose tablets
Bendy straws – useful for drinking at any angle!
Crisps
Two plastic cups – so we can celebrate afterwards?!
Peppermint teabags – useful for trapped wind and cramps afterwards.
Dried fruit
Chocolate
Soreen

BABY CHANGING BAG.
Going home outfit
x5 vests
x5 baby grow’s
Pair of scratch mittens
Hat
Booties
Blanket
x6 muslin squares
x6 bibs
Soft toy
Swaddle
Towel
Cardigan – just incase, I know it’s July, but I do live in England.

Toiletries
Cotton wool balls/Cotton wool pleats
Grooming kit – for his little nails!
x27 nappies – a whole pack of Pampers New Born.
Sudacrem
Vaseline – useful for smothering over Baby Boy’s bum, it makes it easier to clean the first newborn poo’s away.
Bottles – just incase there’s an issue with breast feeding.
Ready made formula bottles – just incase there’s an issue with breast feeding.

Is there anything I’m missing from your own list?! Something that might have proven absolutely essential for you during labour or afterwards?

MM.

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Book worm: Which books do you recommend?

Both OH and I are avid readers and we want to start building up our library for the little one now. We’d like to actually start reading to the massive baby boy bump too – so wanted to get books that are suitable from Newborn upwards… thing is, there are SO MANY books out there, we just don’t know where to start! We can remember a few popular books from when we were kids (The Hungry Caterpillar, The Jolly Postman, that kind of thing…) but books do you recommend? Which books did you buy for Newborn and older? Which books did you ‘swear’ by?

Would love to hear your recommendations! We’re really excited to get buying!

MM.

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Lifehouse Country Spa Resort – long weekend away…

 

So, Lifehouse Spa!

We had booked this little break away after having all the scans and tests a few weeks ago. We’d decided that we would need a relax after such a rollercoaster couple of weeks…

Being 19 weeks pregnant, we jut wanted to go somewhere where we could relax and chill out for a few days. Get away from it all. A spa was perfect. I literally spent 3 days alternating between the swimming pool and jacuzzi (Hydrotherapy Pool). Unfortunately, all of the treatments were too expensive for our budget… in fact, they were just overpriced in general.

I’m well aware that this review is just going to sound like a right moan! It was our first trip to a Spa though, so we would have expected a bit more in some areas. Albeit, we had a wonderful time and would return tomorrow! But with hindsight of course ;o

Pro’s

– Drinks were relatively cheap.

– Comfortable bed.

– Contemporary room with lovely bathroom and great views of the gardens. Usual coffee and tea making facilities.

– Lovely staff – all very polite and always had a smile.

– Easy place to relax.

– Food was great, restaurant quality.

– Great swimming pool and hydrotherapy pool. Can’t review the Steam, Sauna or Salt Inhalations rooms as I can’t use them being pregnant… but DP absolutely loved all three. So they kept him quiet! 😀

– Loved the Orchids Bar area too… must recommend the bread and olives. Best olives I’ve ever eaten! Amazing! Just £2.00 too!

– Very very nice gardens… it was absolutely blowing a gale outside and raining but this did not deter us! We borrowed some Hunter wellies from reception and had a great walk right around the gardens.

 

Con’s

– We weren’t given a ‘welcome’ note or shown around the complex. So didn’t know what facilities we could and couldn’t use.

– Because of the above, we didn’t know we had a safe in the room, until we were messing on with a rather ambiguous looking drawer underneath the TV!

– Again, because we weren’t given a ‘welcome’ note, we didn’t know that you could order Room Service.

– Couldn’t lock the door to the room.

– No bath in the room – albeit, the shower was incredible. I still could have done with a soak before bed!

– Treatments are expensive and need to be booked well in advance. Many people were left disappointment upon arrival when all appointments were booked up.

– Pregnant ladies cannot use Sauna, Steam room or Salt Inhalation rooms as they raise the body temperature too much.

– Packages that exclude food are very expensive. A lunchtime meal (main and starter) will be around £45 for a couple with one wine and one soft drink. An evening meal is per the set menu, £35 for 3 courses or £28.50 for 2 courses.

– Menu’s left a lot to be desired for someone who is both pregnant and doesn’t eat fish or mushrooms! I ended up having the same evening meal on both nights of our stay because the menu didn’t change… and the Duck dish was the only one that didn’t contain fish or mushrooms! There was also a £3 additional supplement on this.

– There were no decaff teabags! I also wasn’t given an alternative… would have definitely thought there would be decaffeinated everything with it being a health spa!

– No soft drinks menu! Just Wine and Cocktail lists… which isn’t great when you can’t drink! Imagine if you’re an alcoholic visiting for a detox!

– Restaurant was basic-looking; for such an ambitious menu, it was a shame that the restaurant was more like a canteen in a Sainsbury’s with cheap chairs and tables. The chairs of which offered zero support for a pregnant lady.

– There were no bottles of water for free, or even for sale! So it was a case of having to get up every 5 minutes to go to the water fountain in the corner of the ‘Wet Area’. Which is quite annoying when you’re pregnant and just want to lay down, but of course, you need to keep hydrated.

– Although this spa is relatively new, (about a year old), we did notice lots of signs of wear and tear. I actually stood on a piece of broken glass in the Hydrotherapy Pool! Turns out, upon further inspection, lots of the mosaic tiles were cracked and broken, but glued back together. Again, when looking up from the jacuzzi, the ceiling paint was peeling…

It was such a shame there were these little niggles – we really did enjoy ourselves though! Honestly! And we would go back… just hopefully when they have a different menu! 🙂

 

MM.