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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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BRAND IN FOCUS // Topshop x STRANGER THINGS Collaboration

AN EXCLUSIVE COLLECTION

Ahead of Season 2, Stranger Things is having a fashion moment. Be first with the trend and discover our exclusive, limited-edition collection of retro-inspired tees and sweatshirts (think beyond jeans and trainers, and style yours over floaty blouses and dresses or tucked into a velvet mini skirt).

As part of the TOPSHOP & TOPMAN exclusive partnership with Netflix, they have also transformed Topshop Oxford Circus into a Stranger Things-inspired world.

 

The Byers’ living room

Flickering fairy lights, an alphabet scribbled onto floral wallpaper and a glitchy TV screen… It can only be the Byers’ iconic living room, brought to life in one of the store’s main windows on Oxford Street.

Hawkins lab

Are you telekinetic just like Eleven? Test your superpowers in Hawkins lab, set at the front of the store.

Castle Byers

Will’s hideaway is complete with a cassette player blasting “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by The Clash, a JAWS poster and messy bunk bed. You can find it on the first floor at Topman.

The Arcade

Step into the Arcade on the lower ground floor to win big or head to the Upside Down if you dare…

Walk the corridors of Hawkins High and discover Nancy’s locker, as well as a shrine to Barb.

It looks bloody brilliant, doesn’t it?

Be sure to get down to Oxford St asap though, this special instore experience is only open until Tuesday 31st October!

Not in London? Head to Topshop Liverpool, Birmingham or Manchester Arndale for Stranger Things 2 window art, Hawkins High lockers, giveaways, Stranger Things merchandise and exclusive tote bags if you spend £60 or more.

Check out my favourite pieces from the collaboration below – and don’t forget Barb to settle down tonight for the Season 2 premiere!

SHOP >> STRANGER THINGS T-shirt //  £20
SHOP >> THE BOOK OF BARB // £9.99
SHOP >> BIKE SWEATSHIRT // £32

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shop the entire collection instore and online here >> TOPSHOP x STRANGER THINGS collaboration.

Will you be watching the Season 2 premiere tonight?

C
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BRAND IN FOCUS // HUSH

HUSH are a clothing brand aimed at women of all ages who like fashion but are not a slave to it, who want to look good but don’t want to spend ages doing so, who want to be comfortable but not at the expense of style.

Australian born, Mandy Watkins is the creative director and owner of HUSH, having started it back in 2003 from her kitchen table with a laptop, a single phone and the perfect amount of optimism that she could start her own clothing label.

Just over 10 years later, her business has gone from strength to strength. Its “uncommercial” approach – which accompanies some very commercial product – is what sets it apart. Spotting a gap in the market,  Mandy initially launched Hush as a nightwear and loungewear brand. She had the idea she could suggest films for people to watch, and sell hot chocolate and blankets, to “make it more of an experience”.

HUSH now offers several categories, including daywear, swimwear, footwear and accessories.

I could quite easily buy EVERYTHING that HUSH design, testament to their conscious attention to detail of what the modern woman wants & needs. All pieces are made with a classic quality, meaning they’ll transition from season-to-season, and indeed, from year-to-year. Clothing is designed to be comfortable AND wearable. Accessories are used to enhance an outfit, with small leather goods and scarves taking a good focal point for Autumn/Winter. The Jewellery collections are simply beautiful – minimalist, yet eye-catching – almost all designs being made in both Gold or Silver, to suit your current wardrobe.

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As the HUSH AUTUMN/WINTER 2017 collection has just launched, I thought I’d share some of my absolute favourite pieces. These will also be available to purchase in The Never Knowingly Concise Shop, along with a few extra bits! Let me know what you’re coveting in the comments section below or over on IG.

CLICK TO SHOP >> Lightning Bolt Jumper // £85

 

CLICK TO SHOP >> Andes Bell Sleeve Top // £89

 

CLICK TO SHOP >> Leopard Fur Coat // £220

 

CLICK TO SHOP >> Hera Maxi Dress // £149
CLICK TO SHOP >> Mini Tassel Earrings // £35
CLICK TO SHOP >> Lightning Necklace – Gold // £42

 

CLICK TO SHOP >> Tansy Dress – Green // £65

 

CLICK TO SHOP >> Majestic Star Trainer – £169

C
✖️✖️✖️

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BRAND IN FOCUS // ALEXACHUNG by Alexa Chung

Having always been a fan of Alexa Chung’s style (since waaaaay back the golden ages of the T4 days), I was looking forward to the launch of her own fashion label, ALEXACHUNG. Alexa, is of course no stranger to fashion design, with a decade of experience to her name, for brands such as MADEWELL, Superga and Marks & Spencer. But this is the first time we can really see what Alexa wants us to wear – the ‘proper’ designs and concepts by Alexa herself. And having looked at her 150 piece range, I can confirm that “its sooooo Alexa“. You can see that Alexa is heavily influenced by her favourite cities (New York & Paris) with an added bit of her wicked British humour to boot.

Shop my favourite pieces that have so far launched from the debut ALEXACHUNG collection below and via the NEVER CONCISE SHOP.

 

Tiered Garden Dress
CLICK TO BUY >> Tiered Garden Dress // £565.00
George Sweatshirt
CLICK TO BUY >> George Sweatshirt // £175.00
Kick Flare Jeans
CLICK TO BUY >> Kick Flare Jeans // £230.00
 Zip Front Dungarees
CLICK TO BUY >> Zip Front Dungarees // £300.00
 I LOVE YOU, I HATE YOU T-SHIRT
COMING SOON >> I LOVE YOU, I HATE YOU T-SHIRT // £95.00
Platform Clogs
COMING SOON >> Platform Clogs // £300.00

MORE ABOUT // ALEXA CHUNG

ALEXACHUNG  returned from New York this year to creatively direct a business distinctively tied to her British roots.
At the heart of the brand, Alexa’s vision: to create clothes that people want to wear. Combining Parisian chic with a New York edge, as well as the very British sense of humour, it is inspired by everything from Jane Birkin’s insouciance to David Hockney’s stripy sweater.

ALEXACHUNG prides itself on its unique approach to making clothes, combining distinctive fabrics and prints with classic tailoring alongside more feminine designs. The result is a carefully considered, alluring combination of prim, racy and rock ‘n’ roll, where frivolous party pieces interact with grown-up tailoring and classic silhouettes.

ALEXACHUNG will produce four in-season collections per year internationally, with stockists in over fifteen countries.