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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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Weekly Update: 41 Weeks Pregnant // We’re overdue!

Well, I definitely DID NOT think I would be writing a weekly pregnancy update at 41 weeks and 1 day pregnant, that is for sure!

But it’s been quite a week so here is my update, thus far.

I had the first of my two ‘Sweeps’ on Wednesday. During my appointment at Broomfield, I met with my lovely Midwife, Caroline and Consultant. Both parties were concerned about the size of Boy – obviously, he’d measured up large for dates since Week 28. But on Wednesday I measured at 44cm (44 weeks pregnant). SO! They both agreed that I should not go past Sunday without having Boy as he’s looking too large now. So another Sweep was also organised for Friday (yesterday), incase the first one didn’t work. I was also tested for MRSA and given the usual checks, all of which were fine.

The first sweep did not work, despite me having really painful period pains and contractions for 10 hours! So feeling a little despondent, back to the hospital we went again yesterday. A second sweep was performed and the Midwife really gave it a good go – she even tickled Boy’s head – which was a bit strange! When we got home I was convinced the sweep had worked! So we had yet ANOTHER curry and bounced on my ball as we watched more Olympic’s 🙂

But no, the second sweep doesn’t appear to have worked either! BOO 🙁

I also just wanted to point out that a sweep really doesn’t hurt. Yes, it was uncomfortable – but it’s going to be. I can honestly not believe that people have said this procedure is painful on forums and other blogs.

So, it looks like we’ll be going back to the hospital tomorrow to have the induction kick-started. I have to call in advance to ensure we have a bed and will be given a Propess Pessary when ready. We’ll be staying in the hospital for at least 6 hours and will be sent home if nothing happens. Then we have to go back within 24 hours for assessment and if nothing else happens, we’ll be having my waters broken and placed on a drip. Which I’m REALLY hoping won’t happen as I desperately wanted a water birth. Water has helped so so much during my pregnancy – I’ve literally not been out the bath! It’s been so helpful for my SPD pains.

So keep your fingers and toes crossed that Boy decides he wants to come naturally tonight, so we don’t have all the hassle tomorrow!

MM.

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Weekly Update: 40 Weeks Pregnant // Today is our DUE DATE.

Last Saturday we went to a wedding! This is us at 39+1 weeks.

Baby size at 40 weeks: 50 cm long.

Baby weight at 40 weeks:  7.6 + lbs

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Well, here we are. The day I didn’t think we’d actually get to! Today is our DUE DATE. Actually cannot believe that Boy hasn’t arrived before now!

I’d convinced ourselves that I’ve been in “slow labour” since Monday of this week. I’ve either been going to bed with VERY regular and quite intense contractions… or waking up at 3:30am with the pains. The pains start off as period style cramps (front and back) and nausea, then I get the tightening across my tummy. I’ve also had the most excruciating stabbing pains in my undercarriage at the same time. It’s been the most frustrating thing EVER. Every night we’ve gone to bed thinking “THIS IS IT!!!”. Last night felt like Christmas Eve and we went to bed incredibly excited! But Christmas hasn’t arrived so far today 🙁

BOOO!

Now I’m going to have a little rant – please excuse me! 🙂

I went for my final Midwife check up yesterday and have to say I wasn’t (and still aren’t!) happy with how it went. Firstly, there was a student midwife left in charge. No other help at all! I’d normally have my assigned midwife, and then a student if she had one that week. So I was really very shocked. Now, I do not mind students or trainee’s to do the usual checks – I’m all for it! How else will people learn, without practical case studies!? But yesterday was my last appointment, I had lots of questions and frankly the midwife just wasn’t experienced enough!

Firstly, she did my blood pressure and it came out as 110/80. Which is about usual for me, as per my notes (which, she did look through after checking each and . She said my blood pressure was HIGH? But this blood pressure is ‘optimal’ if anything! I ignored it.

Then it came to measuring me. Now I’ve measured big the entire time. Last Thursday I measured 42cm (by two different people!). Now I know this is not an exact science and normally don’t read anything into the fundal measurements – especially since we had our growth scan a fortnight ago! But she measured me at *just* 38 weeks. So obviously, I was dubious. I asked her to re-measure me as I can’t have lost 4cm in the space of a week – I’m usually growing 3cm a week! She re-measured me and said “Oh yes, about 40cm”. Whatever.

THEN she went to check Boy’s heart rate. But nothing was registering on the doppler. She started to panic, pulling the probe across my tummy. I showed her where to locate his heart beat. But it still wasn’t registering on the monitor… She blamed the machine and said it must be broken. But it wasn’t broken, SHE HADN’T PUT GEL ON THE PROBE! Struth.

THEN! I asked if she was going to examine me. Especially considering the contractions and pains I’ve been experiencing. She said she wasn’t allowed due to “policy”. I was completely under the illusion that you were given an internal at 40 weeks, to check your cervix/dilation?! Apparently not at my hospital! Or was it the case that she wasn’t supervised?! So frustrated!! And it’s doing nothing for my Oxytocin levels!

So I’m not very happy. At all.

My next appointment will be for my sweep at Broomfield Hospital on Wednesday 1st August. But hey, Boy is DEFINITELY coming this weekend, so we won’t be attending that appointment 😉

 

So what is happening to baby boy this week?

Fig 1: http://www.babycentre.co.uk/pregnancy/fetaldevelopment/40weeks/

After months of anticipation, your due date has been and gone, and… you’re still pregnant. It’s frustrating, but lots of women find themselves in this situation. Your baby continues to shed the greasy, white substance (vernix caseosa) which has been protecting his skin. If he shows no sign of making an appearance after another week, he may have slightly dry skin when he arrives.

Your baby has mastered all the skills he’ll need after he’s born. He can instinctively search for his thumb and suck it, just as he will search for your breast for a feed soon after birth.

 

MM.

 

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Weekly Update: 39 Weeks Pregnant.

Here we are at 38 + 1 weeks pregnant at the Day Assessment Unit in Broomfield Hospital.

Baby size at 39 weeks: 50 cm long.

Baby weight at 39 weeks:  7.2 + lbs

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Me and the internet have been having a somewhat long distance relationship the last fortnight! I’ve been absolutely EXHAUSTED. I’ve been getting up around 4-5 times a night for a wee (HOW?!) and been snoozing throughout the day. Aside from when I’ve been having hospital appointments and meeting the girls from my NCT group!

So, I’m just a week away from my due date. I REALLY thought Boy would have arrived by now. Considering how big he is! But clearly, he’s just far too cosy in there.

Last week I went to the doctors about my rash (Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy) who was beyond blasé about the whole thing. By Saturday of last week, I’d scratched myself so badly I was drawing blood. I was also struggling with my SPD, so we took a trip up to the Day Assessment Unit at Broomfield to seek their advice. I was taken to an assessment room and hooked up to a monitor for 45 mins. I had lots and lots of tests done. But the doctors were not concerned about my rash – it’s quite common and will disappear after Boy arrives. What they were concerned about was the fact I’m still measuring big! I was measuring just over 41 weeks. So went for a growth scan on Wednesday of this week while we awaited results for late onset Gestational Diabetes. Boy is measuring correctly for 39 weeks… apart from his tummy! He’s a little bit on the chunky side 😀 To us, he sounds absolutely SCRUMMY! The scan, at so far into my pregnancy, was incredible! You could see his spiky hair at the back of his head! But because he was so big and squashed, you really couldn’t see as much as on earlier scans. SO, it’s back to the waiting game!

Boy is still head down (good boy) and is 2/5th palpable – which means only 2/5th’s of his head can now be felt above my pelvis. So that’s good.

We REALLY hope he arrives soon – we’re beyond impatient! 🙁

 

So what is happening to baby boy this week?

Fig 1: http://www.babycentre.co.uk/pregnancy/fetaldevelopment/39weeks/

It’s all about watching and waiting now, as your baby could arrive any day. Your baby could be up to 50cm long, and weigh about 3kg.

The hair on your baby’s head may now be thick, and his fingernails extend beyond his fingertips. They may look long when he’s born. Your baby’s skull bones are not yet fused, which allows them to overlap as he passes through the birth canal during labour. This is the reason your baby’s head may look cone-shaped after birth.

 

MM.

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PART TWO: Cramping, Spotting and an emergency ultrasound scan.

We have GOOD NEWS!!

We went for the second scan at the Early Pregnancy Unit today – just under two weeks since my first scan. (You can read what happened during our first scan, here: PART ONE: Cramping, Spotting and an emergency ultrasound scan.). We were so anxious for the re-scan, for obvious reasons. But the Sonographer was able to find the baby straight away, with a very very healthy  and strong heartbeat. My DP immediately had tears. I however, was just so relieved – I can’t even tell you. The heartbeat was this absolutely mesmerising flickering movement within the sac.

I was measured at around 7-8 weeks. Which by my dates works out right – infact according to my dates I’m 8 weeks +0 today.

So so happy!!

We just can’t wait until the 12 week scan now – to get more of a look at our developing baby!

MM.

 [EDIT – I also wanted to add that I have not had any further spotting or cramps since Week 6].

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PART ONE: Cramping, Spotting and an emergency ultrasound scan.

So I have a few things to talk about since my last post. I had some cramping, that initially started mild. The type of pains you have when you feel AF just around the corner. Then on 30th November the cramping was getting much worse and was lasting around 5 minutes. The cramping was really low down, almost at my pubic bone. I googled the cramping and found that is was completely normal! PHEW! It’s just all your muscles stretching.

But then yesterday I went to the loo at around10:30am at work. I noticed a TINY amount of brown spotting. But the spotting mixed with my cramps (and still not knowing when my first Midwife appointment will be!) made me call the doctors. My doctor gave me a telephone appointment and referred me to the EPU (Early Pregnancy Unit) at Broomfield hospital, Chelmsford.

I was told to arrive at my 10:30am appointment with a relatively full bladder. We arrived at the hospital early, at 10:05am with the full bladder.  Time ticked on and I was eventually seen at 12noon! Needless to say I thought I was going to pass out with the pain of having to wait all that time with said full bladder. I had emptied my bladder, slightly, to relieve the pain, FOUR times whilst waiting to be seen. When I went in for the scan, I was told I was ‘too full’ for a normal scan and so had to empty my bladder completely (really pleased I sat there in agony for all that time and didn’t need to be!) and a Transvaginal Ultrasound Scan was used instead. The scan was uncomfortable, but wasn’t painful.

Unfortunately, the news we had this morning wasn’t good. The Sonographer was able to locate a small sac (dating me at 6 weeks) but could not find a heartbeat. We were told that it could either be too early to find the heartbeat or it could have been because my bladder was so full its altered the scanning capabilites. I have to go back for a further scan on Friday 15th December. We’re feeling really really hopeful. And I just have to make sure that my bladder is not as full next time!

Fingers crossed for us!

MM.

 

 

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And so the journey really begins…

We did another TWO pregnancy tests, just to be sure. And sure enough, all three tests came back positive. We’re so delighted I can’t even tell you. Albeit, I do feel very surreal and not very pregnant? I’m sure I’ll absolutely eat those words later into the pregnancy however!

So without further ado, I wanted to get all of the dates in place!

According to my charts, my LMP was indeed the ‘strange’ one beginning on 20th October. So as per my LMP, I calculate the below notable dates. We were intimate on 1st November, 3rd November, 4th November and 6th November; then my DP went on a business trip with work. So the Conception date of 3rd November rings about right!

Ovulation date: 2nd November 2011.
Conception date: 3rd November 2011.
Implantation date: 11th November 2011.
Due date: 26th July 2011.

So this all makes me around 4 weeks and 6 days pregnant. All in all, we were TTC for around 2-3 months… I know it felt like forever, but we’re really very lucky.

Next thing to think about is organising a trip to the doctors to register my pregnancy and of course, telling our parents the amazing news! Which might actually happen sooner than we thought it might… we have a trip to the motherland planned, TOMORROW!

MM.

 

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Pre-Conception visit to GP.

This week I went to my GP for a number of things, one of the main reasons was to discuss pre-conception and to make my GP aware that I was embarking on the journey to conception.

My GP wasn’t great and made me feel like I was massively wasting her time… I asked if I should be referred for pre-conception immunisations. She replied with a stark “You’re in your late 20’s, you won’t need any”. THANKS.

I then asked if there was anything else I should be doing or taking. She just shrugged! Couldn’t believe it! I said I was already taking Folic Acid and Vitamin D, as per advice from my previous GP. She then said I shouldn’t be taking Vitamin D just yet… Is this true? It’s not like we’ve had much in the way of sunshine recently.

What was your experience pre-conception like? Did you take anything additional to Vitamin D or Folic Acid? Keen to hear your insights.

MM.