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Fear Free Childbirth Podcast with Alexia Leachman
22 minutes | Nov 12, 2019
Anxiety in pregnancy
Anxiety in pregnancy is currently estimated to affect around 15% of women. Through my work in supporting women in preparing for birth and pregnancy, anxiety is something that I see a lot and, dare I say, I think the numbers are probably higher. When women are feeling fearful around aspects of their pregnancy or birth it can trigger feelings of anxiety, but these feelings are known to fluctuate through pregnancy. Anxiety in pregnancy has been shown to peak in both the first and the third trimester (1). How anxiety in pregnancy affects birth outcomes From the evidence available (2) we know that pregnancy anxiety not only affects pregnant women’s health but also has an impact on labour outcomes. Anxiety in pregnancy can affect the likelihood of things such as preterm delivery prolonged labour caesarean birth, low birth weight When you combine these potential outcomes with those that may arise as a result of fear, it’s clear that helping women to deal with fear and anxiety in pregnancy needs to be an important focus if we’re to improve birth outcomes for women. I’ve been supporting women in overcoming their fear for many years now, particularly those with tokophobia, and I’ve enjoyed some incredible success rates. Success rates that are apparently impossible. I was once told off on Twitter by a midwife specialising in tokophobia for suggesting that it’s possible to overcome tokophobia. “… [I] shouldn’t raise women’s hopes like that because they can’t. They just end up having c-sections.”. That may well be the case, but a positive c-section birth experience that is empowering for the woman is a world apart from the c-section that the woman dreads and feels anxious and terrified throughout. That’s when I realised that I needed to get some evidence behind my Fearless Birthing method. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to get birth professionals and healthcare providers to take my work seriously. And that in turn would limit the women able to benefit from the success I’m achieving reducing strong fears and anxieties. So, that’s what I set out to do. Collaborating with the University of Nottingham I joined forces with the University of Nottingham Psychology Department to explore the possibility of collaborating on a research project to evaluate my Fearless Birthing method. This is when I first met Dr. Megan Barnard. Dr. Barnard specialises in anxiety and so exploring anxiety in pregnancy was a good fit for her area of research. So we set out to design a study that would enable us to answer the question: can women reduce their anxieties and fears during pregnancy using a self-paced online programme? Can we reduce anxiety in pregnancy? After many iterations and submissions to the Ethics Board, we got the green light. So I’m delighted to say that there is currently a study underway which aims to evaluate the effectiveness of the Fearless Birthing method in helping women to reduce their anxiety and fear during pregnancy. Given, Dr. Barnard’s expertise in anxiety, I thought it would be a great idea for us to have a conversation about anxiety in pregnancy so that we could all learn more about anxiety. But even more of a reason is this; Dr. Barnard is now currently pregnant. When we started working together, her interest in our work was purely professional. Now that she is experiencing some of the anxieties that we are researching, she has a unique insight into our project which I just wanted to ask her about. A conversation with Dr. Megan Barnard One thing that stood out for me from our conversation was that Dr. Barnard was saying that anxiety could strike anyone during pregnancy; you don’t already need to be someone who suffers from it to be affected by it during pregnancy. Dr. Barnard also explained how much pregnancy has bought about a very human reaction to her pregnancy. Even though she studies and researches anxiety – and so is very knowledgeable on it – that doesn’t mean that she isn’t succumbing to it. And I think that is something we can all learn from. We might think that we have things covered, that we ‘know’, but that doesn’t stop our emotions from wading in and causing chaos. This is why I think all women need access to tools that can help them to reduce their anxiety and fear, because it really can happen to anyone, at any point during a pregnancy. And given that anxiety peaks the first and third trimesters, it’s important to have access to this kind of support from early on during your pregnancy. This is one point that Dr Barnard makes during our conversation. Typically women sign up to ante-natal classes late in their pregnancy but in fact, Dr Barnard suggests that women seek emotional and mental support much earlier on during their pregnancy. She talks about the negative impact of having the anxious thoughts ruminating throughout the pregnancy and how it’s better to address these as early on as possible. Anxiety in pregnancy study – would you like to take part? If you’re interested in taking part then this is who we’re looking for; Must be between 12-16 weeks pregnant when beginning the study. Must be at least 18 years old. Must be able to speak and read fluent English. Must be a UK resident. You can either apply to take part here or you can contact Dr Megan Barnard directly here About Dr Megan Barnard I am a Teaching Associate at the University of Nottingham’s School of Psychology, having received my PhD in Psychology in 2017. When I am not teaching students, I am interested in conducting research on the impact that anxiety has in the real world? In other words, does it stop us from doing the things we want to do, and how can we relieve some of that anxiety in order to improve our wellbeing? I have looked into the effects on anxiety within areas such as transportation and cyberpsychology, and am now working with Alexia to see if psychological interventions can reduce levels of anxiety and depression during pregnancy. Sources Research by Lee et al. (2007) and Teixeira, Figueiredo, Conde, Pacheco, and Costa (2009) revealed a varied prevalence of pregnancy anxiety at different trimesters of pregnancy with high levels in first and third trimesters. Catov et al., 2010, Hernandez-Martinez et al., 2011, Lobel et al., 2008, Rauchfuss and Maier, 2011.
66 minutes | Jan 30, 2019
Thomas Verny, Father of Prenatal Psychology
Prenatal psychology is an area of psychology that looks at the psychological changes that women go through from conception to postpartum. If you’re going to better understand your fears and anxieties during pregnancy then I think understanding prenatal psychology is pretty crucial. The journey to motherhood is one of massive change for a woman and is often accompanied by fear, insecurity, and stress. There is so much that could go wrong: preterm birth, an especially traumatic birth, problems breastfeeding, problems bonding with the baby, miscarriage, problems conceiving… gosh the list goes on! How prenatal psychology can help But mamas-to-be can handle their fears by drawing on ideas from prenatal psychology. Prenatal psychology can give you psychological resources for whatever may come your way: grief after a miscarriage, complicated parenting issues, bonding with their child, etc. For me, the biggest thing I took away from prenatal psychology was getting to grips with the idea that I could consider my unborn baby as a human being from my third trimester. This represented quite a shift in my thinking and my approach to pregnancy. Once you accept that you’re carrying another human being who is able to listen, feel and hear around with you while your pregnant, then it invites some changes to your behaviour. “By the end of the second trimester, the unborn child is a sensing, feeling and sensible (and remembering) human being.” Thomas Verny During our chat I put these questions to Thomas; What should a mother focus on during her pregnancy to improve the likelihood of a positive birth outcome? What can a mother do during pregnancy to nurture the baby? Can babies understand what their mothers are thinking when pregnant? Do babies pick up on the emotional journey of the mother during pregnancy? What are some causes of tokophobia [the extreme fear of pregnancy/birth]? Does the type of birth we have – vaginal unassisted, forceps, c-section etc – have any psychological impact on us? As you can see from these questions, they have the potential to reveal some fascinating answers, and Thomas doesn’t disappoint. I was in heaven! Thomas starts by sharing some key factors that pregnant women should focus on during pregnancy to improve the likelihood of a positive birth outcome. These include; A desire for a child Relationship with her partner Relationship with one’s own mother Your own birth Some people might be surprised at these because they are not things we tend to see in the typical birth prep lists alongside the more expected items like nutrition exercise or birth education. Thomas shares some interesting perspectives that are definite food for thought. We chat about the importance of tuning into our babies and how best to do that and Thomas shares some ways that mamas-to-be can nurture baby during pregnancy. We also discuss fertility and how stress affects fertility. How our birth type affects our thinking The bit that I think you’ll love though is what he has to say about our birth type, and what kind of mental and emotional patterns they can lay in place. Things like; Forceps birth – Pain in the neck is a common theme for them. At times of stress, they will likely have pain in the head or shoulders. C-section birth – Common thoughts will include “I can’t make it on my own”, “If I’m in a tight place, people will come to my rescue” Breech birth – They are the most hard headed of people “It’s my way or the highway”. They don’t want to conform. So, as you can see, this really is a fascinating chat and one that I think could really shift your perspective of your pregnancy journey. Let me know what you think in the comments! About Thomas Verny Thomas R. Verny is a psychiatrist, writer and academic. He has previously taught at Harvard University, University of Toronto, York University, Toronto and St. Mary’s University Minneapolis, Minnesota. Dr. Verny’s books, professional publications and founding of the PPPANA, now APPPAH, and the Pre- and Perinatal Journal, have established him as one of the world’s leading authorities on the effect of the prenatal and early postnatal environment on personality development. He lectures and leads workshops on Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Psychotherapy through-out Canada, the United States, Europe, South America and Southeast Asia. Thomas Verny’s Books The Secret Life of the Unborn Child Pre-parenting Cellular Consciousness
30 minutes | Jan 16, 2019
7 signs of a woman with tokophobia
How to tell if you know a woman with tokophobia Tokophobia is the extreme fear of pregnancy and birth. It’s not very well known and yet it can affect a lot of women. This extreme or pathological fear of birth is estimated to affect between 4 and 43% of women. 14% is an accepted estimate. So you see, a lot more common than you might think. Sadly, many women with tokophobia avoid pregnancy despite being desperate to be mothers. But that doesn’t mean you won’t come across it. Some women only realise they have tokophobia once they’re pregnant. Up until that point, they might feel that “I’m just not maternal” or “I don’t like kids” which is something you hear a lot. However, both of these are typical comments made by women with tokophobia. It is simply their fear speaking. Of course, there are also many women who simply don’t want kids who say these things. But it’s possible that when a woman says she doesn’t want kids that her fear is clouding her judgement, or that her true feelings are buried beneath the fear. Once she has overcome her tokophobia, she may very well change her mind. I’ve seen this a lot with the women I’ve worked with. In fact, it was something that I used to say all the time. I recently met up with some people who I’d not seen for ten years and both of them told me how they would never have imagined that I would have had kids; they thought I didn’t want any! Well, that changed once I’d overcome my fears. Why it’s important to know if a woman has tokophobia It can be easy to shrug this phobia off as silly or irrational, but doing that is missing the point. Many women with tokophobia don’t see this fear as irrational. You can actually die in childbirth: that’s something worth fearing. Compare that to claustrophobia; being trapped in an enclosed space is not known to be fatal. The fact is, a woman with tokophobia would love a bit of kindness and understanding about how she’s feeling. Having tokophobia can feel incredibly isolating because people don’t understand and are quick to judge. Here’s one woman’s experience of sharing how she felt; I just explained that I suffer from tokophobia and I was looking for some positive encouragement, maybe some stories from people who had been through it and could tell me some positive things. What I got instead was the nastiest group of mean girls I’ve encountered in a very long time. Seriously, these women jumped all over me. The pitchforks immediately came out. It was seriously upsetting! I hope that by sharing this, that you can better understand what they’re experiencing. If you have a wife or partner is tokophobic then maybe this post will help to explain things that you may have observed in your relationship. If you have friends who you suspect might have tokophobia then maybe this post will help you to better understand them. 7 signs of women with tokophobia Not all women with tokophobia will experience all of these, but if a handful of them are present, then it’s a pretty good sign. 1. They avoid conversations of babies, pregnancy and birth It’s often assumed that women love nothing better than to talk babies, but this simply isn’t true. Women with tokophobia will tend to remain silent if there is a group conversation that touches on babies, pregnancy or birth. They might do this because they simply have nothing to say and they can’t relate to what’s being said. But it could also be that they daren’t say anything because of the possible reaction from other women. Very often, women with tokophobia find that when they speak up about how they’re feeling, that other women do not understand or shrug off their feelings. They might feel judged or ashamed so they keep quiet. 2. They don’t want to hold a baby Holding a baby could easily freak them out and bring out quite a reaction. This means that they’ve probably never held a baby. 3. They have medical fears Women with tokophobia tend to have one or more fears that are related to medical things. So having a fear of needles and injections, fear of hospitals or doctors or a fear of medical procedures like vaginal examinations are very common. 4. They obsess over birth control A woman with tokophobia will want to avoid pregnancy and birth at all costs so birth control could easily be an obsession for them. Pregnancy tests will be a huge source of terror for them because of what they might tell them. They might find themselves fantasising about things like artificial wombs because they simply don’t want to carry the baby. This means they might be interested in surrogacy or fostering as alternatives. 5. They’re uncomfortable getting intimate or having sex This is simply because sex leads to pregnancy, and pregnancy leads to birth, both of which has the potential to terrify them. So for a woman with tokophobia, the best way to avoid either is simply to avoid sex. This means that getting intimate might be problematic for them too because that might lead to sex. Many women with tokophobia find that they struggle to develop intimate relationships because of this. Or they sabotage relationships at a particular stage in the relationship. This is often the Let’s Get Serious stage where babies are discussed, but it might be sooner when sex starts to be more present in the relationship. 6. They resent gender inequality and men not having to give birth It’s common for a woman with tokophobia to think that it’s not fair that women have to go through the life experience that is pregnancy and childbirth. Because they consider both pregnancy and childbirth to be so negative, they hate the fact that they are the ones in the relationship that will have to undergo the hardship and risks of pregnancy and birth. Some even resent men for this, although not all. 7. They have a fear of death This might be a fear of them dying in childbirth or the baby. At a lesser level, this might be a fear of complications or things going wrong. They don’t consider this fear to be irrational as it’s often portrayed. For them, this is a rational fear; maternal mortality is something they take very seriously and they will probably be very clued up on the statistics. These are just a few of the tell-tale signs of women with tokophobia. If you think you know a woman with tokophobia, then be kind and understanding. And finally, I think it’s worth saying that tokophobia isn’t limited to women. Men can have it too If a man has it and his partner is pregnant, then it could mean that he might really struggle with being in the birth room when the time comes for the arrival of the baby. Do you think you have tokophobia? If you think you have tokophobia and would like to overcome it, I’ve pulled together a free email series that helps you to think through your options. You can sign up for that right here.
52 minutes | Nov 1, 2018
The Maternal Brain, with Jodi Pawluski
Today’s podcast is all about the maternal brain and the neuroscience of pregnancy, birth, postpartum and parenting. A few months back I shared an article about the maternal brain on my Facebook page and it went a bit nuts. It’s since been shared over 40 times which is unprecedented for my Facebook page. It also received tons of comments, many of which were saying how the article helped them to better understand what they were going through. So I knew I had to cover this topic on the podcast. I reached out to the expert that was quoted in the article, Jodi Pawluski, and was thrilled when she agreed to come on the podcast to talk about all things maternal brain. Jodi Pawluski is a perinatal mental health expert and Research Associate at the University of Rennes in France. Her research aims to promote maternal mental health: enhancing the health and well-being of both the mother and child. Her research focus is to determine the behavioral and neurobiological processes underlying maternal mental illness and use this information to improve mental health in women during the perinatal period. In other words, she knows a thing or two about the maternal brain! The Maternal Brain During our conversation, Jodi talks about the changes that are happening to our brain during pregnancy and how it’s an important evolution for becoming a new parent how we have new brain circuitry coming online that provides us with the ability to tune into our infant by enabling us to experience a feeling of reward from our child and a feeling of attachment changes to the mood and emotions during pregnancy the role of the environment on the maternal brain aka “pregnancy brain” how quickly a mother can tune into her infant After half an hour of touching your baby’s hand, you will recognise your baby’s hand from touch alone. Pregnancy Brain We talk about whether this is a “thing”. Some articles have stated that it’s not a thing, so we talk about what it could be instead and why it might feel that it really IS a thing. 15% of women during pregnancy will have a high level of anxiety We touch on the important topic of anxiety and depression during pregnancy and taking medication when pregnant. And, we also cover the brain changes happening to dads…. there is so much in this conversation! Further Resources The Neurobiology of Postpartum Anxiety and Depression. The adaptive human parental brain: implications for children’s social development. The Neglected Neurobiology of Maternal Anxiety and Depression Jodi Pawluski Why aren’t we talking about maternal brain changes?
48 minutes | Oct 24, 2018
Pregnancy Body Changes
Worrying about pregnancy body changes is something most pregnant women worry about. Whether it’s the expected changes in the shape of your body as pregnancy progresses, to the least expected changes that might happen as a result of birth complications – and everything in between! Pregnancy body changes are a huge source of worry for women which is why I wanted to talk about this on the podcast. To help do that I’m going to be joined by Bianca and Natasha from Bebo Mia. They have a doula business and have been working with women for over 10 years so they’ve seen it all when it comes to women getting worried about pregnancy body changes. We cover quite a few angles when it comes to pregnancy body changes, from plus size pregnancies, to being pregnant when fit and of course vaginal tearing.. and lots more. Listen here Pregnancy Body Changes The adjustment you need to go through in how you perceive your body once you’re pregnant is quite significant. Many women have worries when it comes to pregnancy body changes which mean they struggle with this adjustment. This is particularly so for women who have strong feelings around their body – whether that’s love because they’ve spent a lot of effort being fit or whether they don’t like their body. Common worries and fears around pregnancy body changes include; “why isn’t my pregnancy going like a “normal” pregnancy?” ….. whatever *that* is! “I’m worried about gaining too much weight during my pregnancy” Plus size pregnancy We talk about BMI measurement and the obese categories. Yes, a BMI of 30 and above carries risks, but it’s simply an increased risk, not an absolute or guaranteed outcome. As with all risks, it’s crucial to understand what the numbers are telling you. The important thing to bear in mind is that with plus size pregnancies, positive outcomes are all possible! Did you know that a common misguided belief is that overweight women are not strong enough to birth their babies? And another is that their vagina will be too fat. Yes, you read that right. A fat vagina! Since when can you get a fat vagina?? How can a hole get fat? #crazytalk We also talk about the importance of ditching the yo-yo dieting habit Fit women The Bebo Mia ladies are clear to state that it’s important for women to give themselves at least 6 weeks to recover. They encourage women to connect to their postpartum body rather than focus on trying to re-establish their pre-baby body. Another common problem is that some women are too scared to gain weight during pregnancy, with some women working out too much because they’re worried about gaining more than 25 pounds. Changes down below No chat about pregnancy body changes would be complete without talking about vaginal tearing. I know! Vaginal tearing is a HUGE fear among pregnant women. And yet interestingly, when I speak to women about their birth stories, vaginal tearing rarely features as something they worry about during birth – with many not even noticing it happening when it does. This vagina talk also covers; the husband stitch the importance of pelvic work This is a great episode that is made brilliant by my fabulous guests, who have also offered a discount on all products on their site – see below. About bebo mia bebo mia is a training & mentorship organization for women in the maternal health field, including pregnancy/birth professionals, childbirth educators & parenting specialists. They offer comprehensive skills, business support & community care through an innovative online structure that spans a global market. A very different culture from both the patriarchal boardroom model & the female-centric multi-level marketing industry, bebo mia offers opportunities for women to work from home while making an income for themselves and their families. They develop inclusive, accessible trainings for women that provide the skills needed to grow & sustain a lucrative business. bebo mia remains fiercely committed to their original mission that was developed in 2008: To connect women to their intrinsic value and power. Offer: Listeners can use the code: FEARFREE20 to receive 20% OFF all of our products.
61 minutes | Oct 17, 2018
Preparing for Motherhood, with Sophie Brigstocke
In today’s podcast episode I’m honoured to be joined by Sophie Brigstocke. Sophie won Doula of the Year in 2017, so this is a real treat – my second Doula of the Year guest! As well as being a doula, Sophie also runs Nurturing Birth where she trains doulas alongside her co-founder Florence Etienne-Jackson. Together they have trained over 3000 doulas, so she knows a thing or two about birth and supporting women as they approach motherhood. It was really tricky to pick a title for today’s podcast because we talked about so much. But it’s all birthy and all very interesting! Some of the things we talk about include; Sophie’s epic 10-day labour – YES you read that right… 10-day labour! her ECV and her difficult birth experience planning her subsequent VBAC her elective emergency c-section Preparing for motherhood and parenting We talked a lot about how we can use pregnancy to prepare for motherhood. Often the focus of pregnancy is preparing for the birth, but preparing for motherhood is also important because there are things that can be done during pregnancy to lay the foundation. Sophie shares with us that a lot of couples come unstuck with a new baby and they say they would have liked to have had help to prepare their relationship for the arrival of the baby. And yet, when classes were put on, no-one signed up. The benefit of hindsight, eh? the case for ditching parenting books and tuning into your baby why the mother is the expert on her baby the importance of tuning into the mothering instinct what women can do during pregnancy to prepare why psychological preparation is important maternal mental health Let’s take the emphasis OFF what we need to BUY materialistically. Let’s think a lot more about what we need to invest in for our mental and emotional well-being. Sophie tells us that “in terms of a good head space, preparing for the birth has a big impact. Your birth informs your postnatal period in a big way. I felt like my body had let me down. The positive feelings from having a good breastfeeding journey made such a difference” We also talk about breastfeeding and touch on some common breastfeeding myths. And any birth conversation is not exactly complete unless oxytocin is mentioned! Sophie feels that “oxytocin isn’t talked about enough. It has an important role in early parenting too; it’s part of breastfeeding.” About Sophie Brigstocke Sophie is a birth and postnatal doula, Doula Mentor at Doula UK, Breastfeeding Supporter and Baby Massage Teacher. She was awarded “Doula of the Year” at MaMa Conference, 2017. Sophie started working with mums and babies in 2004 when she trained as a baby massage teacher with Peter Walker, something she regularly teaches with busy courses around SW London. She also trained as a Therapeutic Massage Practitioner at the London College of Massage, specialising in Pregnancy and Post-Natal treatments. She offers Closing the Bones postnatal massage and ceremony to new mothers, as well as babywearing support. You track Sophie down at Nurturing Birth. Webinar for Birth Workers In today’s episode, I announced that I’ll be running a live webinar for birth workers. I’ve been getting lots of enquiries from birth workers who would like mt to share how I help women to prepare for a fearless birth. So I thought I’d run a webinar. If you’d like to join me on the webinar, then you can sign up here.
34 minutes | Oct 10, 2018
The Fear Free Childbirth podcast is back! After a year off, I’m back… lots of great episodes coming too! In this episode, I talk about my new book, Fearless Birthing. I get lots of emails asking what reading people should do, well, my answer to that is simple: my Fearless Birthing book! When I was pregnant, I didn’t read any books. I was tokophobic and one aspect that affects many women with tokophobia is that reading about birth can be very difficult – it can easily trigger their fears or panic attacks – and this happened to me. So I’m the last person to ask about birth books. My Facebook group is a great place to ask that question! Fearless Birthing Book So today I’m going to talk about my book and share with you what you can expect from it – in a very top-line fashion. It’s nearly 100,000 words and pretty meaty, so I will NOT be going into the detail… I just want to give you an overview so that you can decide whether it might be a good one for you to read. As I go through the chapters I also mention where there might be other podcast episodes that cover those topics – and I mention upcoming episodes that dive deeper too. As well as helping you to shift your mindset around birth, I also include my fear-clearance technique – the Head Trash Clearance Method – which is what you can use to clear your fears. Now, some people prefer more than just a book to help them, so if that’s you, then the Fearless Birthing Academy is for you. This is my online program that accompanies the book. It includes lots of videos to help you to identify your fears and then to clear them. There are also many mindset techniques in there to help you during birth. Since the book has come out I’m also getting lots of questions from birth workers and birth professionals asking me if they could train in Fearless Birthing so that they can use it to support their clients. Well, the answer to that is YES YOU CAN! You can find out more about joining the tribe of Fearless Birthing Professionals here. The Fearless Birthing Professional training is an online training program that combines live classes with online materials which means that you can train from anywhere in the world – as long as you have an internet connection. Other Resources During the podcast I mentioned other resources to help you on your Fearless Birthing journey; Fear Clearance Meditations – to help you to address the most common birth fears Fearless Birthing book bundle deal – buy 5 paperbacks – for friends or for your lending library and save money. Fear Free Childbirth Facebook group – the best place to ask me questions and get answers from other mamas on the same journey as you.
61 minutes | Jul 6, 2017
Breastfeeding, with Cindy Leclerc
Breastfeeding is not something you might expect to do your research on while pregnant, but there is certainly a lot of value in preparing yourself as much as you can while you have the time and space to do so. When your little one arrives you’ll thank yourself for being prepped as much as you can. I’ve been asked loads to do a podcast on breastfeeding and I’ve resisted because I wanted to stay focused on the birth prep, but I’m getting way too many requests to ignore it – so here we are! Today I’m speaking to Cindy Leclerc. Cindy is a Canadian Registered Nurse and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. She has helped over 12,000 families get started with breastfeeding. In addition to her nursing practice, she teaches prenatal breastfeeding classes both in-person and online. Together with a colleague, she hosts a website (cindyandjana.com) and an app (NuuNest) which provide reliable information to answer the questions new parents ask. NuuNest can be downloaded for free on their website. During our chat Cindy shares the 5 things that every pregnant woman should know about breastfeeding. But we don’t stop there! We also talk about breastfeeding positions growth spurts what to expect the days after birth in terms of milk how to know if your baby has fed enough – and it’s not to do with time spent on the boob! During our chat, Cindy talks about her free breastfeeding course as well one of which is free. Check them out below. FREE 3 lesson course – Getting Ready to Breastfeed Simply Breastfeeding But that’s not all! FREE DOWNLOAD Cindy has kindly offered to share a PDF of the 5 Things Pregnant Women Should Know About Breastfeeding. (I’m sorry but this free guide is no longer available. If you are looking for super useful resources such as this then join the Fearless Mama Ship. Find out more here.) Get support as a new mama As I mentioned on the podcast new mama support is now available as part of The Fearless Mama Ship member area. The Fearless Mama Ship is to support you throughout your four trimesters and has been created to help you to reduce the overwhelm when it comes to all the information out there. It is packed with bonus podcast episodes, mini-course and plenty of resources to help you prepare for birth. My birth prep program includes birth template downloads as well as information of the various birth professionals that can support you during your pregnancy and birth so that you can find the support you need. Find out more below.
27 minutes | Jun 28, 2017
Essential Steps of Birth Preparation
Birth preparation is a huge part of preparing for a positive birth. Lots of women don’t appreciate why doing birth preparation is so important with many leaving it last minute. The truth is if you want to stack the odds in your favour when it comes to having a positive birth experience, birth preparation is essential. The thing is, birth preparation can seem like this huge overwhelming task, so it’s understandable that many shy away from it or procrastinate. To help you I’m going to talk you through what I believe are some of the most important elements of your birth preparation. [spp-player] Why birth preparation is important Preparing for your birth means that you’re saying no to the “winging it” birth plan. For the record, “winging it” or “going with the flow” is NOT recommended and is more likely to lead to a difficult birth; Your labour is more likely to be longer Increased chances of experiencing a painful labour You’re more likely to have a medicalised labour Increased chances of ending up with an emergency C-Section I don’t know about you, but they are good enough reasons for me! To receive my 9 Steps to a Fearless Birth just pop your details below and I will send you everything you need to know via email. Essential Steps of Birth Preparation So, in no particular order, here are some of the important steps that I think you need to include in your birth preparation. Get clear on what you want How can you prepare if you don’t know what you want? So this bit is super important. Think about what you DO want and what you DON’T want when it comes to your birth. Where do you feel the safest? Home or hospital? Birth centre? Maternity-led unit? How do you feel about medical staff? Do they scare you or make you feel safe? Are you considered high risk? If so, what does this mean in terms of your birth? Does your current health have any implications for your birth? If so, what? What birth assistance would you like? Birth pool? Pain relief? Space to move around? Home comforts? And, where is that most easily available? What’s the birth you DON’T want? Why? What is it about that that you don’t like/want? If this ended up being your birth how would that make you feel? Get savvy If you’re going to prepare for something, then it’s important to know what you’re preparing for so that you improve your chances of getting it. This means going all crazy on the details. So even though you might have things clear in your head in terms of what you want – you still need to plan for various eventualities. With birth, nothing is guaranteed, which is why it’s also worth preparing for plan B and maybe even plan C. The reason why I want you to prepare for the birth you don’t want is so that you do your homework on it. This does two things; it helps you to understand it better as a birth option, and crucially, this helps to reduce the fear you might have of it. After all, there’s a reason you don’t want it, right? Having a load of negative emotion around your plan B will not be very helpful for you on the day if your birth ends up going that way. Being prepared means that you will be able to change tack without getting all stressy on the day, which would be no good for the hormonal cocktail that keeps labour moving. So you see; being clear AND savvy on both birth options is important work! Start seeking out the information you need that will support your birth choices. Who do you want at your birth? Your partner? Your mother? Friends? Doula? Photographer? Are they are fully briefed and “on the same page” as you? Pain relief: do you know your options and consequences of their use? How do you feel about accepting pain relief? Does this carry emotional weight? What pain management strategies would you like to adopt? What methods would you consider to induce labour if required? At what point would you accept an induction? Do you know which methods you’d accept? What are your fears? Now that you’re clearer and a bit more savvy about this whole birth lark, you’re in a much better position to tune into any fears you have. My experience tells me that fears around pregnancy and birth usually fall into one of two categories; Fear of the unknown – “I’ve never been through this before and I have no idea what to expect” Deep-rooted fears – “I’ve read all the birth books but I’m still completely terrified of the thought of x” Maybe you don’t have any. Early on in pregnancies, this is possible but it may well be because you’re not fully aware of them yet. If you’re feeling confident and excited, that’s brilliant. But don’t make the mistake of denying that you have any fears or pretending that you don’t have any. Be open to explore this as soon as possible. If you dig for them and don’t find any, then even better. But the last thing you want is for them to pop up in the weeks before you’re due because then you’ll have nearly no time to sort them out. Perhaps you started with some fears, but now that you’re a bit more savvy, you’re feeling less fearful. Or maybe not! Whichever it is, it’s important to give this some focus so that you put some effort into sorting this out. Going into your birth with fear is not a good thing because fear has a direct physiological impact on your birthing body; Fear will slow labour down, if not stop it altogether, due to the effect it has on your hormones Fear can increase the likelihood of you experiencing pain, and/or increase any sensations of pain you have Increases likelihood of an instrumental delivery or c-section As you think about your birth, what fears are you aware of? When you tune into your fears, do they feel strong? Do you notice them in your body? What is contributing to your fear? Friends or family sharing stories? Things you’ve read? Boost your birth confidence There are always two sides to everything. I talked about fears, well the flip side to that is confidence. They both affect each other; the more you have of one, the less you have of the other, so we’re going to help you to tip the balance and stack the odds in your favour. Find ways that you can boost your birth confidence. No matter how you feel about birth, feeling even MORE confident about it can only help. Your level of confidence going into your birth is crucial, so finding ways to boost your birth confidence is an important step. This will differ for everyone but might include things like; Start listening to positive birth stories Stop listening to the scary ones Listen to the Fear Free Childbirth Podcast! Or indeed other podcasts 😉 Seek out positive and balanced sources of birth information Create firm boundaries with people who aren’t supportive or encouraging Write birth affirmations and post them around your home Get even more savvy about the birth process Find brilliant and supportive people to be on your birthing team Edit your Facebook stream to limit the scary stuff and boost the positive stuff Join supportive Facebook groups like the Fear Free Childbirth Facebook Group Read birth books Watch some birth documentaries The great thing about many of these is that they’re free. But, they do require persistent action. Think about how confident do you feel RIGHT NOW? What thoughts do you have around birth? How does birth and motherhood make you feel? What has the potential to sap your birth confidence? Fear? Lack of support? Lack of knowledge? Lack of encouragement? Identify your birthing tools One thing that will help you to boost your confidence going into your birth is having a bunch of tools you can use to help you cope with what’s happening and to stay in your birthing bubble. This applies no matter what kind of birth you’re working towards. The most obvious thing that people want help with is pain management. The thing is, pain is as much as a mindset thing as it is a physical thing, and when it comes to birth, this is even more so. With a lot of these techniques, you will need to practise using them. It’s when you have confidence in your techniques that you boost your birth confidence. They need to be second nature to you on the day so time spent practising is worth it. And remember, it’s not just you who has to prepare in this way; your birthing partner needs to too! I’m going to break this down a bit, so that it’s easier for you to find things that can help you; Pain Management Pain management techniques are the most common ones that are worth doing your homework on as there are quite a few for you to choose from. Acupressure and massage can be really helpful for pain and is an ideal way for your partner to get involved and feel like they have an important role. Relaxation Being relaxed will help you to manage the tension that may arise which in turn will help you to minimise the pain. Things can help you to relax include breathing, listening to music or hypnosis tracks, or applying pressure on acupressure points. Mindset Management This is more about helping you to keep your mind clear of fear and focussed on the birth. The aim here is to minimise mental chatter and negative self-talk, but be clear of emotion so that you can tune into your body. Having some fear-clearance or positivity boosting techniques will help to boost your confidence. Breathing can also help you to keep your mind clear.
59 minutes | Jun 21, 2017
Conscious Conception and Pregnancy, with Jane Jennings
I’m a huge fan of conscious conception and pregnancy and I believe that taking a conscious and deliberate approach to your journey from pregnancy to motherhood is the gold standard to aim for. But I also know that not everyone has got that memo and simply don’t get it. To help you understand this in more depth, today I’m chatting to Jane Jennings about conscious conception and pregnancy. Jane is a Conscious Conception Doula and works with families throughout the pregnancy journey and that often means BEFORE conception. [spp-player] What is a conscious conception and pregnancy? I know that many of my listeners choose to listen to my podcast as part of their preparation for motherhood and so THIS is what I’m talking about here; being conscious and deliberate about your journey to motherhood. Living consciously isn’t limited to pregnancy and birth. It’s something we can all do at any time, if we’re ready and open to it. Put simply, living consciously is being deliberate and mindful about your choices and conscious of their consequences. Many people live unconsciously from moment to moment and allow themselves to be carried by the current of life, instead of choosing to pick up an oar and paddle in a certain direction. When it comes to a living a conscious conception and pregnancy, things you might want to explore include; Create the space in your life for your baby Many couples who are expecting their first baby, do not intentionally create the space for a new person in their life. Particularly if the baby wasn’t entirely expected. It can be all too easy to try and bolt the baby onto your young, free and independent life (I know because I was guilty of this!), but taking the time to think about what you need to let go of so that you can welcome your baby fully, is worthwhile. Take a closer look at your work, chores, hobbies and relationships that are simply not compatible with family life. Be prepared to make changes to enable family life to flourish and thrive. Often, family friction comes from this resistance to let go of the life habits that suited a younger person with no responsibilities. By accepting your new role sooner, you can avoid much of this, but importantly, it gives a clear message to your new family member that they are welcome, valued and loved. Work On Your Relationship with Your Partner The greatest gift you can offer your future child is a loving relationship between his or her parents. If there are any unresolved issues between you and your partner, make a point to work on them before your baby arrives so you can welcome your child into a peaceful home. Take time to devote to your relationship, whether through therapy or counselling, simple open communication or even a baby-moon. A happy couple and a happy home massively increase your chances of having a happy child. Journal your pregnancy experience Write about your thoughts and emotions during pregnancy. Aside from the physical changes that accompany pregnancy, explore your ideas around how you want to parent, the relationship you hope to have, and the qualities you expect to foster in your child. Not only will this be interesting to read years from now to see how things panned out, but it will be a wonderful gift for your baby. Our pregnancy journey impacts our babies in ways that we might find hard to grasp. Babies develop their senses very early on in utero and will be picking up on a lot of your thoughts and experiences. The emotions that you will be experiencing will be affecting your baby in quite profound ways; one of the key reasons to address your emotional wellbeing during pregnancy. Regularly connect and communicate with your baby Build a relationship with your baby early on in your pregnancy so that your baby is used to a two-way dialogue and trusts you. During birth, there needs to be trust between the two of you. Trust that you’re both capable and confident of doing what needs to be done and that you can rely on each other. Just as you need to have trust with your partner, trust with your baby is also important. During my chat with Jane, we talk about much of this. The conscious welcome for baby Jane talks about how we can welcome our baby consciously into the world so that we can imprint some positive energy and emotion into our baby at a time when they are very open and vulnerable energetically and emotionally. Breath down into your heart as soon as baby arrives, and breathe your heart space out to welcome you baby in Get yourself into a place of calmness in preparing for the moment you hold your baby Hold eye contact with them meeting them with intention of love. Do this for a good minute or so. Make sure dad is near or close so they get to see and feel them too About Jane Jennnings Jane is an Awakening Soul Doula, energy healer and mentor. For 18 years now Jane has been supporting babies and their families to meet each other in conception, pregnancy and birth. Every soul that grows within a peaceful family field and receives a gentle conception and birth, contributes to the rising of consciousness for humanity. The quality of how a soul is welcomed, heard and seen, right from the very beginning, matters greatly. Jane’s wisdom and experience as a healer, means she can hold the whole family field. Each of your family members will be processing their own emotions and what it means to them to welcome a new soul into their lives. At this time of transition, it is likely to evoke many new feelings and apprehensions. Most families creating the time to explore this pre conception and before birth have a more comfortable journey into parenting and stronger relationship dynamics for the whole family. Jane holds the space and guides each of you to explore what this feels like for you and for your whole family. www.tobeborn.co.uk [spp-player]
47 minutes | Jun 14, 2017
Gentle C-Section, with OB, Andy Simm
Caesareans are often feared by women going into birth, but there's a new trend coming through that could hope to reduce that somewhat. The gentle c-section otherwise known as the natural caesarean is a much softer approach than the usual surgical ritual. To help explain what a gentle c-section is I'm being joined by OB Andy Simm from Nottingham City Hospital (my local!). It is Andy who was the OB behind the gentle c-section positive birth story that I shared last season. He's a bit famous around my neck of the woods! [spp-player] What is a gentle c-section? In a gentle c-section, or natural caesarean, the drapes which normally screen the operation from the mother are lowered – so she (and her partner) can actually see the baby being born. The baby is also given time to “wriggle out” of the womb, rather than being instantly lifted out by the obstetrician. The newborn is then placed on the mother’s chest for her to hold, cord intact, instead of being whisked off for weighing and measuring. To help the mother to have some skin to skin, the ECG wires are taped to her back which means that she is more likely to be able to breastfeed straight away. All this is quite a departure from what we know c-sections to be like, but it doesn't stop there. A gentle -c-section is also one where the environment of the operating theatre is tweaked to help make it more friendly... lower lights basically! This women-centred approach has many reported benefits for mother and baby including: improved breastfeeding rates; a better birth experience; increased bonding due to instant mother and baby skin to skin contact; plus reduced risk of lung issues as the extra time allowed pressure from the uterus to expel liquid from baby's lungs. Of course, a natural caesarean is not drug-free or risk free – but local anaesthesia is carefully used to ensure the mother is alert and able to hold her baby. This is HUGE! During our chat we identified a gentle c-section checklist that you can use as part of your birth planning; lighting and environment (music) let baby wriggle out on their own skin to skin delayed cord clamping birth narration seeding the microbiome About Andy Simm Andy Simm has worked as a Consultant Obstetrician in Nottingham for 15 years, with interests in diabetes and endocrine disorders in pregnancy and fetal growth disorders. He has a keen interest in management of labour where this deviates from the norm, and promotes the importance of communication, team work and other non technical skills. This has been recognised with both awards from within the Trust and nationally. Andy has a large obstetric clinical practice, and as College Tutor is responsible for the overall quality of education and training of junior doctors within his unit. Most recently he has become involved in undertaking the ‘gentle’ caesarean section, with video footage posted on social media websites getting 10 million hits. ‘Gentle’ caesarean is undertaken in a softer environment, with a slower delivery that facilitates autoresuscitation of the baby, namely expulsion of fluid from the fetal lungs, and a gentle transition to breathing in air by undertaking deferred cord clamping. Women are enabled to watch the birth if they wish, and immediate skin to skin contact is facilitated. Demand for the procedure is increasing
54 minutes | Jun 8, 2017
The Psychology of Pregnancy, with Leah Butler-Smith
The psychology of pregnancy doesn't often get discussed and I don't know why, so today I'm remedying that. Pregnancy and the journey of motherhood are such a huge time of change that it's no wonder that there are psychological implications. The thing is, we don't often stop and think about what those might be. In today's episode I'm going to be lifting the lid on the psychology of pregnancy and motherhood so that you can have a better understanding of what might be going on for you. To help me, I'm joined by Leah Butler-Smith who is a therapist and a coach as well as being a mum of three. Leah had a very successful practice in London's Harley Street and has worked with many women on the whole motherhood spectrum. This includes from fertility and miscarriage to overcoming pregnancy fears and birth recovery. [spp-player] The Psychology of Pregnancy Many women approach pregnancy and birth with very little if any preparation and assume that they can just take it in their stride. This might work for some, but given the seismic changes that are involved in becoming a mother, it's worth taking some time to doing some preparation. Going from being an individual with no responsibility for anyone other than yourself to becoming a parent has its own set of challenges and adjustments to overcome. Add pregnancy and birth to the equation and you've got a mighty cocktail of craziness right there. During our chat, Leah shares some interesting insights into the psychology of pregnancy and birth that might very well help you to unpick what is going on for you. Leah talks a lot about how our irrational mind is responsible for our beliefs and fears. She explains how those beliefs and fears may have been implanted in the first place, which is very interesting to listen to. I work with this stuff all the time so while it's not new to me, I still find it super fascinating! Leah also talks about her experience of working with women on the fertility journey. She talks about how, in her experience, fears play a huge role in our ability to become and stay pregnant. Leah shares stories of women she's worked with who, once they've worked on the mind and the fears and anxieties at play, are able to then go on to be pregnant. Certainly worth a listen for that alone! Managing pain with the mind You will have already heard me talk quite a length about how pain is a mental thing and how we can manage our ability to cope with pain by using the mind. Well, Leah bangs this drum to. During our chat, she shares a brilliant technique for managing pain during labour and birth. FREE download During our chat, Leah mentioned a free download that she was creating. To get hold of the download CLICK HERE. About Leah Butler-Smith Leah Butler-Smith wittily refers to herself as a ‘Rapid Transformation Specialist’ who has a ‘particular set of skills’ (think the popular movie, Taken LOL). Having worked with celebs, creatives, sports personalities, entrepreneurial business owners including a few Billionaires. Since the late 90’s, her experience and knowledge is surpassed only by her constant enthusiasm for helping others. Her many skills include being awarded the title of Senior Hypnotherapist - one of the first awarded by the GHSC, Advanced Psychotherapist, Analytical Hypnotherapy, NLP Trainer, TFT Practitioner combined with the latest proven techniques Havening, EMDR and EFT. She now fills any spare time with studies in Neuroscience, Bio-Medicine and any other research that supports her members & private clients. You can get access to Leah in person inside her newly formed community inside Facebook. There you’ll get regular tips for improving your mindset, learning NLP & other techniques proven that will help you improve your mindset, overcome challenges, build your confidence and support your business growth. You can also get a Free Coaching Guide at WWW.LEAHBUTLERSMITH.COM [spp-player]
33 minutes | May 31, 2017
Placenta Encapsulation, with Maria Pokluda & Maryn Taylor
Placenta encapsulation might not be something you know too much about. So, I thought it was about time I covered this on the podcast because many women report that placenta encapsulation can help them emotionally in the postpartum period. Consuming your placenta (placentophagy) is undergoing a bit of revival at the moment. So, who better to have on the podcast than two placenta queens, Maria Pokluda and Maryn Taylor who run their own Placenta Encapsulation business in Dallas Fort Worth, Texas [spp-player] Some view this as a way of celebrating the placenta's significance as well as promoting postpartum physical and mental health. Placenta encapsulation is becoming a popular method of preparing the placenta for consumption. What this basically means is creating capsules that are a bit like tablets for you to take with a drink. The other way of consuming the placenta is through placenta smoothies which, apparently is not as bad as it may sound. Placenta encapsulation If placenta encapsulation sounds appealing to you, discuss your plans with your midwife or doula during your pregnancy. Ensure that it is highlighted as part of your birth plan. Be clear that you wish to keep your placenta. If you don't feel up to the job right away, you can freeze your placenta until you are ready to process it. A specialist can come to your home, process your placenta and produce the capsules for you. Or you can have a go of this yourself. There are plenty of articles about this online so you can research the subject at your leisure. There is limited evidence when it comes to placenta encapsulation, but what there is in bucket loads are testimonials and anecdotal evidence with mothers report lots of benefits from consuming their placenta during the postpartum period, including; more breast milk more balanced feelings more energy The only thing that I could find in terms of evidence was this. During our chat, we talk about when to book your placenta encapsulation what your options are what the process is placenta traditions umbilical cord art About the Placenta Queens MARIA POKLUDA: Maria has prepared more than 700 placentas. Doula since 2007. Mom of four. Owner of Great Expectations Birth Professional Doula Services. Creator of BEST Doula Training Voted Best Doula in North Texas six years in a row. MARYN TAYLOR: Marin has prepared more than 400 placentas. Birth pool distributor since 2012. Mom of three. Owner of Buoyant Birth - Birth Pool Rentals & Sales
85 minutes | May 24, 2017
A tokophobia birth story; Cee Fee’s Positive Birth
Today I'm sharing a fabulous positive birth story on the podcast. It's fabulous because it's positive and empowering birth, obviously. But also because it's a tokophobia birth story. I'm joined today by Cee Fee Dunn who admits to being completely terrified of pregnancy and birth. Cee Fee and her husband had decided that they wanted to have children, so when she found out she was pregnant, she was excited for sure, but she was also filled with dread. The dread stayed with her pretty much throughout her whole pregnancy. Cee Fee's tokophobia birth story is also worth listening to, and not just for women who are terrified of birth. Her birth did not go to plan and the birth she had, was not the birth she wanted. Things changed. But, despite all this, Cee Fee was able to roll with it and still feel in control of HOW things unfolded and WHAT happened. And this is important. We can't guarantee how our births will go, but being well-informed and savvy can help to ensure you experience your birth as positive, no matter what happens. And surely, that's the ultimate goal. Tokophobia Birth Story During our chat, Cee Fee shares: The strategies she used to keep her fear under control, and ultimately reduce it sufficiently to be able to embrace her birth experience How she prepared for her birth How she dealt with her fears instead of doing actual fear-clearance What she felt as a tokophobic during her pregnancy How she feels her hormones contributed to her level of fear Who she had on her birth team How it feels to have an epidural, and how it affected her birth What she did to adapt and stay positive during the birth It's such a great tokophobia birth story that I hope that it inspires you if you're tokophobic. About Cee Fee Dun Cee Fee is A Personal Trainer, Health Coach and Nutritional Consultant who has spent the last decade working both one to one and with communities empowering women to take ownership of their own ability for self-care. Her absolute passion derives from her own recovery having suffered most of her adolescent life with disordered eating and poor body image and personal demons anxiety and depression. From anorexia to compulsive binge eating and bulimia, from dangerously thin to several stone overweight. Her skill set has been developed alongside her own long-lasting recovery to health. She works with her clients rebuilding relationships with food and body image. ESPECIALLY after pregnancy. Preparation for pregnancy, pre and postnatally is where she truly comes into her own. Supporting women as they venture into motherhood. She could not be more emphatic about support during this time. Alongside her business based in Windsor and South Bucks, she is also a dedicated online coach, writer and life style presenter who has contributed to magazines such as Body Fit and presented and written for BBC Radio One. She lives with her 11month old baby boy Rocco and her gorgeous husband Remo in Buckinghamshire. You can follow most of her weekly antics, recipes, nutritional tips and exercise tutorials via ceefeedunn.com where there are links to all her social media platforms and her blog featuring her own journey during her pregnancy or follow her directly on Instagram for daily blogs and stories, facebook for training tips and recipes, Youtube for vlogs, Snap chat ceefeedunn for more cooking tips, question and answer time and community support Do you think you have tokophobia? If you think you have tokophobia and would like to overcome it, I've pulled together a free email series that helps you to think through your options. You can sign up for that right here.
60 minutes | May 17, 2017
Essential Oils in Pregnancy, with Amber Duncan
Using essential oils in pregnancy can be a bit of a minefield. There is so much confusion as to what you can and can't use that it can be stressful. So I knew I had to do an episode on it! To help me tackle this subject, I'm being joined by Amber Duncan, who is a clinical aromatherapist. But not only that, but she is also a mama of three, so she's pretty familiar with the pregnancy and birth journey. She works a lot with pregnant mamas so I knew she would be ideal to have on the show. Essential Oils in Pregnancy If you've thought about using essential oils in pregnancy, then this is probably pretty familiar to you. Women just don't know what is safe and what is not, and so often avoid using them altogether. Midwives often avoid recommending essential oils in pregnancy because they are confused too and so they prefer to avoid the subject altogether. Essential oils can have great benefits when pregnant providing the right ones are used in the right way. During our chat, Amber covers quite a bit, including; Why you need to avoid using a diffuser during labour What support you can expect from using essential oils in pregnancy Typical pregnancy symptoms that essential oils can help with Which carrier oils to use - including one that you probably haven't heard of before How to dilute essential oils to a safe level What to pack in your birth or hospital bag How to prepare your essential oils that you might want to use during labour, including a great hack Why you need to avoid topical EO applications immediately post birth One thing that's a bit scary or overwhelming when it comes to using essential oils in pregnancy is knowing what to avoid. So Amber has rather helpfully, provided me with a list of Essential oils to avoid Essential oils to use with care during pregnancy (I’m sorry but this free guide is no longer available. If you are looking for super useful resources such as this then join the Fearless Mama Ship. Find out more here.) About Amber Duncan Amber Duncan is the proud owner of Holistic Health Helper, LLC based out of Dayton and the sole instructor for The Apothecary Institute. As a Clinical Aromatherapist, she makes it her mission to educate others on the safe use of essential oils. She does this by offering many classes, workshops and seminars. These educational opportunities are available in person, via Skype and online. Amber is the NAHA Regional Director for southern Ohio and also has written for their quarterly journal. In 2016 she was invited to speak at the NAHA national conference which took place this October in Utah. Amber has also been interviewed for articles in various publications including one with Massage Mag, as well as being invited to various speaking engagements including this 2016's SOFT Conference held in Tacoma, Washington. Most recently she decided to add herbal studies to her repertoire and began a course to become a Master Herbalist. She knows this enhanced knowledge of the whole plant will only further allow her to best help those coming to her with questions. She is excited to share this knowledge with everyone including her local clients in Dayton, Ohio. When not helping others better understand essential oils she is raising her three children with the help of her loving husband. She works with the kids in a home-school format to help them better learn about the things around us. Such as plants, animals, and how we fit in; so that they can feel comfortable with their knowledge of the world and who they are in it.
38 minutes | May 10, 2017
Recurrent Miscarriage, with Naava Carman
Today on the podcast I'm tackling yet another important - but not talked enough about - topic; the recurrent miscarriage. Baby loss is taboo enough as it is, but recurrent miscarriage is even more so, and neither should be. To help me, I'm joined by Naava Carman, who specialises in working with women who experience a recurrent miscarriage through her clinic in London. Naava blends Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) with the Western approach to medicine to help women on their fertility journey. Recurrent Miscarriage The term recurrent miscarriage is defined as the loss of three of more pregnancies. If this is your situation then I please just let me give you a big hug. This is one situation where I find myself at a loss for words because I simply cannot imagine how hard it must be. Any talk that suggests hope feels a little crass because I'm all too aware of the emotional weight that rests on the pregnancy outcome. But when I spoke to Naava, I did find myself thinking about how her work does offer hope to women on such a journey. But not wishy-washy hope; a hope of a more practical nature with a rooting in science. Her work blending traditional Chinese Medicine with the Western approach certainly sounds like a fresh approach that is bringing results to many, so much so that Naava's reputation precedes her. FREE DOWNLOAD I'm sorry but this free guide is no longer available. If you are looking for super useful resources such as this then join the Fearless Mama Ship. Find out more here. About Naava Carman Naava Carman is a fully qualified member of the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine and of the British Acupuncture Council. She founded The Fertility Support Company in 2006, and has been in practice for almost twenty years. She is a highly experienced fertility, gynaecological and obstetric acupuncturist and herbalist, and is also a Recognised Doula (birthing assistant) and Doula Mentor with Doula UK. Naava specialises in using acupuncture as part of an innovative method of treating gynaecological and fertility problems, combining Traditional Chinese Medicine with Western diagnostic techniques and Western medicine. Her Fertility Support System, which is a three-month programme, is designed to tackle the underlying causes of infertility and helps men and women to enhance their chances of conception naturally and in conjunction with IVF and IUI. Acupuncture is ideal for rebalancing hormones, inducing ovulation and preparing the body for a natural or assisted conception. It can also help a patient to manage and overcome distressing symptoms and can be used through pregnancy, working to help prevent miscarriage and treat symptoms such as morning sickness and lower back pain. Men can also be treated to help increase their sperm count and the quality of sperm produced. Her areas of speciality include the treatment of Recurrent Miscarriage, PCOS, Endometriosis and Poor Sperm Motility. Naava says, “Many of my patients have been told that they will never conceive – even with IVF or IUI – but often this is not the case. Medically, they may run out of options, but acupuncture combined with Chinese Herbal Medicine, nutrition and lifestyle changes can and does result in the impossible becoming very possible indeed.” The Fertility Support Company www.fertilitysupportcompany.co.uk [spp-player]
41 minutes | May 3, 2017
Being pregnant with PTSD
This week it's maternal Mental Health Matters Awareness Week here in the UK and to honour it, I'm delighted to be talking to Susanne Grant about being pregnant with PTSD, birth trauma or baby loss. Not long ago Susanne found herself pregnant with PTSD as a result of her own abuse experiences. Her journey in overcoming her PTSD is something that she is very open about and it's what inspired her to work with women in this area. Being pregnant with PTSD or with other trauma that may be from baby loss or a previous birth is not easy. Susanne's story not only promises hope to those who have are facing this experience but also actual direct help. [spp-player] Here's Susanne story of being pregnant with PTSD in her own words. "Because of my own childhood experiences (including abuse), which had led to me being diagnosed with PTSD at the age of 17. I specialised in trauma and human behaviour through university, I think it somehow made me understand what happened to me better. As I saw others heal, step by step, I knew that I could too! I just needed to find out how. I had different therapists, tried EMDR (didn’t work for my type of trauma), and so on. When I became pregnant, for some reason, that I still not understand to this day, my pregnancy triggered my past. The nightmares started again. I was having panic attacks and my body ached all over. For whatever reason my body and mind were reliving my past traumas and illnesses. My midwife suggested going back into therapy, but I told her no. I did not want to go through all of it for the fourth time. In hindsight, that was a mistake as a few days before giving birth I started to freak out. I didn’t want to be in this world, I hated being alive, and now I was bringing a life into this world. What was I thinking?! My birth was a great experience, even though the fear created more tension than necessary, it was a positive experience. Over the next few months my triggers became a bit more frequent as I was tired and alone in a country without family or friends to help. It was challenging to say the least. After my pregnancy, I realised that – even though my midwives did their absolute best to try to support me – some of them still tried to guess their way through it. I realised what I had to offer this world, is what I needed the most myself; healing of my past. I remember thinking ‘If we can fly to Mars, I could heal my PTSD right? You know, on the scale of things’. I tried everything I could think off, I asked for help, reached out and slowly but steady my trauma started to shift. But it wasn’t until I dealt with what was underneath of it all, I started to really heal. The healing I found is incredible. Not only do I not get triggered anymore, I am even feeling grateful for the experience. Because – as it turns out – it made me such a great birth & healing coach! That’s why I am sharing my story. Healing after birth trauma is possible. For you, for me, for everyone. Just don’t give up before you found something that works for you!" Resources During our chat, Susanne shared some resources that you might want to check out Penny Simkin - When Survivors Give Birth Birth Trauma Association [spp-player] About Susanne Grant Susanne is an International Hypnobirthing & Healing coach who specialises in working with women who are pregnant with PTSD, birth trauma & body issues. She coaches clients around the world to heal (sexual) abuse & trauma as well as prior traumatic births. While pregnant, Susanne’s experience of child abuse put her on a different road of care from her team of midwives. This gave her a new mission in life and she is now helping others to heal wounds from the past too. Having been diagnosed with PTSD at 17, she knows firsthand how challenging this can be. To find out more about her work you can visit her website or find her on Facebook. Access to Susanne's Free Ebook, Hypnobirthing Course and Heal Yourself Workshop ...
43 minutes | Apr 26, 2017
How to have a happy birth, with Beverley Turner
On today's podcast I'm joined by journalist and radio presenter (and now best-selling author!) Beverley Turner. Bev is also the lady behind The Happy Birth Club ante-natal classes that are run out of a pub in Chiswick, London. I first heard Bev speak at the IMUK (Independent Midwives UK) conference last year where she spoke about The Happy Birth Club ante-natal classes that she runs alongside a dream team of birth professionals. When I heard her speak I knew I wanted to get her on the podcast to talk more about it. I've got a bit of a thing about childbirth education and it's this; it's so damn flakey! If you seek out the free birth education option in your community it's usually run out of the hospital or local maternity unit, which by definition means that you're more likely to learn about the medicalised view of birth. This in itself is a very narrow perspective on birth so you will miss out on lots of important information that can help you to prepare. The travesty here is that we actually NEED to seek out this information and education. Surely we should come out of school with a basic knowledge of childbirth that goes beyond the usual let's-put-teenage-girls-off-pregnancy-and-show them-the-scary-shit version. But we don't. So when we're pregnant, it's up to us to get off our bumps and educate ourselves. Happy Birth Club classes When Bev decided to create her classes, she made a point of seeking out the best in class, which admittedly, is probably easier in London than in other locations around the world, but at least it shows what can be achieved when taken seriously and done well. At £350 for a couple, it might not be the most affordable option for everyone, but that pales into in significance when compared to how much a happy birth is worth... and what you'd spend on other big days of your life like your wedding for example. You can never spend too much preparing for your birth, especially if it improves your chances of coming out the other end with a positive birth experience... and more importantly avoiding a difficult or traumatic birth and the horrid consequences such as post-natal depression. During my chat with Bev she talks through the things they share as part of her classes, but we also talk about a load of other stuff. Given that we're both into birth the conversation does indeed wander... What started her interest in birth Bev shares her perspective on the midwifery situation that is affecting women in the UK at the moment Why she wanted to write her book The Happy Birth Book Why she feels that women are made to "aim low" in birth and why this is wrong But, why aiming low in parenting is totally acceptable Her advice for pregnant mamas who want to have a happy birth And more... I hope you enjoy it! About Beverley Turner I became a birth junkie after my son was born ten years ago and have spent much of that time writing, campaigning and talking about birth and parenthood as a journalist and broadcaster. For pregnant women, knowledge is power. Honest, supportive ante-natal education in a fabulous location alongside other growing bumps is the best way to begin the craziest journey of your life. When I am not drinking tea with my beautiful Blooming Bunch, I write a weekly Daily Telegraph column; campaign for better maternity services for all women and look after my kids (10, 5 & 3). I am so proud of The Happy Birth Club: there are no rules, no embarrassment and no finger-wagging – but laughter is obligatory. To find out more about the Happy Birth Club: website and Facebook. The buy The Happy Birth Book on Amazon UK
40 minutes | Apr 19, 2017
Save the midwife
It's time for a rallying cry "Save the midwife!". I've talked about this already on the podcast, but this week, I'm giving it focus. Save the midwife is a campaign that needs support and not just here in the UK, and not just by midwives. This is a family issue that affects birthing women directly. When we hear talk of the oldest profession in the world, many mistakenly think of prostitution - thanks in part to Rudyard Kipling - but that would be wrong. What did society need first? Food? Shelter? Safety? Help birthing our young? Or an outlet for sexually frustrated men? Hmmm.... [spp-player] Midwifery is one of those professions that is as old as we are and appears alongside other professions who perform human rituals. And yet, today in the UK, the profession is being chip chipped away. This makes me mad. VERY mad. Since the begining of time, midwives have been supporting women during their rite of passage from maiden to mother. This transition isn't always an easy one for women, and yet the presence of midwives can be the difference that makes the difference. A difficult, challenging experience can become an empowering, powerful emergence for a woman when she is supported by her midwife. Midwifery under threat Believe it or not the very esssence of midwifery is under threat here in the UK. Unfortunately, many countries around the world look to the UK on midwifery matters, so what happens here counts. I dedicated the first podcast in the current series to independent midwives because I wanted to show support for their plight which kicked off just before Christmas last year. In a nutsell: the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) announced that the insurance level that independent midwives have in place is not sufficient. Although unhelpfully, they have never stated the level of insurance that IS adequate. This resulted in all independent midwives here in the UK being banned from attending births. This meant that women who had hired an independent midwife for their birth now had no-one to support them. So not only did independent midwives suddenlty find themselves without work, but women found themselves without important support. What makes this so shocking is that independent midwives are typically hired by women who feel they need the extra support. Why hire an independent midwife? Many people mistakenly believe that independent midwives are a superfluous requirement for women. But that is simply not the case. Here are some reasons that a woman would want to hire an independent midwife. You want guaranteed continuity of care This means you want the same midwife (team) to support you throughout your pregnancy, AND be present at your birth and support you during the post-partum period. Here in the UK, it is not guaranteed that the midwife who supports you during your birth will be the same one that you have met with during your pregnancy. The midwife who attends your birth will depend on the available midwives who are on shift. Also, depending on when the shift changes take place, your midwives might change during your labour. You had a difficult or traumatic previous birth Understandably, you're worried about your upcoming birth and need the extra support an independent midwife can offer you. Independent midwives can spend much longer with you during your pregnancy to help you prepare as much as possible. You want to give yourself the best chance of a positive birth Continuity of care is shown to improve birth outcomes; reduction in stilborn rates, reduction in miscarriages, reduction in pain levels experienced by women, shorter labours You want to know the person who will support you at your birth Birth is a big deal and so it makes sense that you want to know who will be there to support you. But knowing them isn't always enough. Trust is important too. Some women don't want to have to worry about whether the midwife who turns up is going to be right for her, and understandably so.
57 minutes | Apr 12, 2017
Pregnancy as a rite of passage, with Charlotte Kanyi
Our pregnancy journey has the potential to be one of the most transformative and expansive periods in our lives, and I don't just mean in terms of our body! The opportunity for personal growth is huge, and yet this important rite of passage is not always widely accepted or appreciated for what it is. [spp-player] When I think back to my own experiences of miscarriage and birth, I'm in awe of the journey I've been on, and it's so obvious to me now that being pregnant was both the start and the trigger. When I miscarried and realised that it was relief that I felt, I knew then that I had some stuff to resolve, which I then tackled head-on for about a year. I was rewarded with a pay-off, because the next time I found out I was pregnant, I was delighted (instead of being in a bad state of shock). But, staying pregnant came with its own set of emotional challenges for me; I had to face my blood-curdling fears. Well I did, and was rewarded yet again; this time with an incredible birth experience. As motherhood took hold, the lessons and opportunity for growth continued and to be honest I don't think they ever stop. Once you start on this journey, it's not like you ever reach The Destination; it's never-ending. So of course, my second pregnancy pushed me even more. The lessons and challenges I had overcome for my first pregnancy, came back but from a slightly different angle. I had to go deeper and be more thorough in my inner work, something which I couldn't have done the first time, but that felt quite natural and do-able as I faced them this time around. I share that with you because, it seems I'm not alone in having this kind of rite of passage experience. The universe gives us what we can handle, but we don't always step up. If we don't, we just get stuck wrestling with the same old crap on repeat. In today's podcast, I'm joined by Charlotte who tells a similar rite of passage story and I think it's one worth hearing because hopefully it will wake you up to your story of growth. Things will always come up. In order for us to grow and evolve as human beings, we have to continue to move through our issues, and when you become pregnant, you are preparing yourself in every way - mind, body and soul - to transition into the next phase of your life. But are you open to that? Are you prepared for the rite of passage that is pregnancy? The transition from free woman to mother is massive and issues are bound to come up for you. Open your arms to them. Welcome them. It's normal and everyone has it. Whatever comes up has to be embraced and dealt with - sooner rather than later. The more you face up to your stuff, the more you lighten your load and the easier your birth will be. [spp-player] More Information Find out more about Charlotte Kanyi from Birth Essence. Charlotte's Facebook group Blog post on NPa Free Fear Release Guided Visualisation. For information specifically about the tools that Charlotte mentioned The JOURNEY NPA The Non Personal Awareness Process The Compassion Key
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