BirthSkills Blog

Fear and your breath

Fear and your breath.
Fear has a very powerful effect on our breath.
The Biological Effects and Consequences of Anxiety
Anxiety activates the autonomic nervous system – the flight or fight response – which can express itself through a number of different physiological (and generally unpleasant) bodily symptoms including panic attacks, fast pulse, palpitations,
shallow breathing, shortness of breath, chest pain/tightness, sweating, choking, headaches, insomnia, irritability, uncontrollable muscle tension/twitches, trembling, feeling faint/unreal, tingling in hands/arms/legs, tightness in throat, dry mouth, problems with speech, fear of dying, going mad and losing control. Research tells us that most people have suffered some form of panic attack and experienced symptoms similar to the above at some time in their life.
The flight or flight response is based on adrenalin, the hormone of fear.
Adrenalin works by prioritising the blood supply, making sure that oxygenated blood is available in the arms and legs for a quick getaway and through the brain to help us make split second decisions. The blood supply is taken from areas of the body where it is not needed in times of danger, such as the stomach and sexual organs, because if one is in a life-threatening situation, they are not going to stop and eat a meal or give birth. This is usually the reason why when someone is continually stressed, he or she may feel sick, or, despite labour having begun, progression is slowed or stalled.
The body can act inappropriately to the strains and toils of everyday living and adrenalin production may be unnecessarily initiated in response to a minor stressor. A chain reaction is then set in motion – one starts to sweat, feel sick and suffer palpitations and the whole stress response takes over, resulting in anxiety. One can then start worrying about the way they are feeling and this then exaggerates their anxiety and a chain reaction begins. From this, secondary fears can also develop – fear of bodily sensations caused by anxiety – commonly referred to as fear of fear. The unpleasant bodily sensations of anxiety and panic can then be feared as much as, or even greater than, the situation or event that triggered the anxiety response.
Ideally, the stress response should switch on and off when necessary (we can control this by learning breathing and relaxation techniques which act to switch on the parasympathetic nervous system). In simplistic terms, the sympathetic nervous system and the autonomic nervous system respond in conjunction with one’s fear and anxiety. To restore balance, the parasympathetic nervous system responds by turning off the stress reaction, allowing the individual to return to peacefulness again. However, the body doesn’t have access to ways to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, the individual will be left in a state of constant red alert. This situation puts strain on the mind and body and if it continues, can lead to depression. A continual anxiety response raises blood pressure, largely due to hormones and chemical reactions, which do not let up as they would in a normal, healthy reaction to fear. In such a situation, it is therefore important to break the vicious circle of the fear response and to learn to manage one’s anxiety successfully by bringing it under control.
Sources from which relief can be obtained and help the individual to control anxiety are breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, stress management, regular exercise and diet (you can learn all of this in our online birth preparation program).
Breathing exercises are almost always the first techniques offered to someone in a state of chronic fight or flight or someone with regular and persistent anxiety/panic attacks. Hopefully, you are not experiencing fear or anxiety to this heightened state which means that there is less work for your body to do in order to turn on the parasympathetic nervous system and access the potential for even greater depths of relaxation as you are starting from a less anxious state than someone experiencing panic attacks (but please don’t worry if you are experiencing anxiety or panic attacks as these techniques will still work, you’ll just need to practice a little more often with a little more focus to experience the same outcome). But to avoid or turn off the fight or flight response during labour, these techniques must be available, which means they need to be practiced. The techniques are most effective for people who practice them to the extent that they become an almost habitual response to stress or fear, make good use of your pregnancy – while baby is preparing for life outside the womb, we prepare for the work involved in the process of birth.
Try the simple yogic ‘falling out breath’ or our BirthSkills
Rapid Relaxation technique to get you started (these techniques are both very powerful when used correctly and regularly and might be the only tools you need to overcome chronic stress and anxiety).

Welcome this pain

welcome this pain
Welcome this pain – the tightening of working muscle, the intense emotion of a new life beginning, the pressure of two bodies working together – welcome this pain.

 
Every midwife knows that not until a mother’s womb softens from the pain of labour will a way unfold and the infant find that opening to be born.
Oh friend! There is treasure in your heart, it is heavy with child.
Listen. All the awakened ones, like trusted midwives are saying, ‘welcome this pain.’
It opens the dark passage of Grace.
~ Rumi

Meditation reduces impact of pain

Meditation reduces impact of pain…

Practice meditation and visualization during pregnancy to access the pain reducing effects during labour.
Buy the BirthSkills Guided meditation CD: Mind, Body, Baby
Meditation Reduces the Emotional Impact of Pain
ScienceDaily (June 2, 2010) — People who meditate regularly find pain less unpleasant because their brains anticipate the pain less, a new study has found. “Meditation is becoming increasingly popular as a way to treat chronic illness such as the pain caused by arthritis,” said Dr  Christopher Brown, who conducted the research. “Recently, a mental health charity called for meditation to be routinely available on the NHS to treat depression, which occurs in up to 50% of people with chronic pain. However, scientists have only just started to look into  how meditation might reduce the emotional impact of pain.” The study  found that particular areas of the brain were less active in meditators than non-meditators, particularly in anticipation of pain. Dr Brown, who is based in the University’s School of Translational Medicine, found that people who meditate also showed unusual activity during anticipation of pain in part of the prefrontal cortex, a brain region known to be involved in controlling attention and thought  processes when potential threats are perceived. He said: “The results of the study confirm how we suspected  meditation might affect the brain. Meditation trains the brain to be more present-focused and therefore to spend less time anticipating future negative events. This may be why meditation is effective at reducing the recurrence of depression, which makes chronic pain considerably worse.” “We found that meditators anticipate pain less and find pain less unpleasant”.
Journal Reference: 1.    Christopher A. Brown, Anthony K.P. Jones. Meditation experience predicts less negative appraisal of pain: Electrophysiological evidence for the involvement of anticipatory neural responses. Pain, 2010

Self Acceptance for Mums

self acceptance
Accepting yourself is having respect for who you are right now. Your past experiences and the things you have learned about yourself (right or wrong) have brought you to this place you are in today. If you can accept your feelings on the basis that they are a product of the interaction between yourself and your environment (including other people), you will be able to move towards having greater control over your responses to things around you.
When you give yourself permission to have honest feeling, things will become more manageable and soon enough it will be within your power to make changes. It is okay to be angry if you are mistreated in some way and it is good to feel happy when things are going your way. In a way, accepting yourself is like being your own best friend, complete with consistent, reliable, unconditional love.
Try the following meditation as part of the process of accepting yourself:
Spend some time imagining that you are the person you would like to be. If you want to be free of any anger, fear or anxiety, imagine that you are already happy and free of these unwanted feelings.

  1. Use a physical relaxation technique to go deeply into relaxation (try the rapid relaxation from the download page). Allow yourself to become quiet and still. Just before sleep or first thing in the morning are excellent times.
  2. Create every detail you can in this future moment when you are totally at ease and happy with who you are. The colours, the emotion, the smells, the physical sensations. Make it real! Your subconscious does NOT know the difference between a real and an imagined event, it will integrate the information ‘as if’.
  3. Put yourself into this future moment and feel it as a NOW moment; that is, pretend that you are totally accepting of yourself right now; how does it feel? Use any insight from this experience to understand how to get from where you are to accepting yourself. Do this by collecting information about yourself, your reactions, emotions and behaviours in this future moment and using them to guide you towards this goal.
  4. Look back at the past from this future moment. Notice what it feels like to know that the old or unwanted experience is in the past. Allow yourself to feel as if that experience happened long ago and focus on how good you feel about this new experience.
  5. Do it again. Spend just five minutes once or twice a day in this state with this new belief and it will begin to plant the seeds necessary to create change. It will help to quiet the self-defeating inner voice that used to try to tell you that you weren’t acceptable, and you will notice changes in your physical body that will support the mental change.

For many of us, the challenge in accepting ourselves is in overcoming the self-defeating belief that we aren’t good enough. If you are never quite satisfied with your achievements, always aiming at perfection to the point that it drives others a bit nutty or intolerant of small mistakes that you might make then you are probably one of the many carrying around this belief about yourself – I’m not good enough.
Getting back to the idea of being your own best friend, start talking to yourself as kindly as possible, as if you were talking to a young child who you love or a wonderful, close friend. Every time you hear that old voice in your head criticizing and judging you harshly, ask them to be quiet and start listening to your friendly inner voice. It wont take too long to overcome the old habits and start accepting yourself – warts and all!

Mums meditate too!

Mums meditate too!
Hi, I’m Shari. I’m a mum and I meditate.
The connection between meditation and motherhood isn’t always obvious (particularly as I am writing this in the middle of the school holidays with awful unseasonal weather…sigh). The idea of finding 40 minutes or even 5 minutes during your day, or worse, getting out of bed half an hour early to meditate, probably isn’t high on the list of priorities.
However, I have learned more about meditation and visualization as a mother than ever before in my life and I have found that my most valuable lessons in this area have come straight from my children, especially during my pregnancies and in labour.
During pregnancy women are intimately connected to their babies, body and mind. The potential to be ‘in tune’ with the strengthening life within is often a powerful catalyst in a woman’s life, motivating her to explore her inner or spiritual world as she begins the journey into motherhood. The generation of women currently in the ‘childbearing’ stage of their lives have, for the most part, been raised in much the same way as their brothers, focused on education, training and career. A desire for achievement and independence is encouraged and supported in young women as strongly as it is in young men. This has the effect of leaving many women emotionally distant from a possible identity as a mother making the journey into motherhood more complex and sometimes, more difficult.
Meditation can bring with it an incredible awareness which works at a very subtle level, providing you with the ability to merge past, present and future selves in a coherent manner. As your conscious mind is busy focusing on your breathing, counting or a visualization, your subconscious mind is free to work through more important issues, clearing away the trivia of the day and sorting through your memories and beliefs to find more useful and beneficial ways of thinking.
During pregnancy, meditation can aid the journey from career woman to mother (and back again!) and help a woman focus her energy where it is needed rather than indulging anxieties and unnecessary concerns. Guiding a woman through her pregnancy using meditation techniques can also help her achieve a greater connection with her baby which usually has the wonderful effect of bringing a sense of well-being to the woman, ‘knowing’ that her baby is safe and well.
Meditation provides a pregnant woman with the means to embrace change, connect with her unborn baby and her partner and focus on feeling strong and positive about birth. Guided meditation can introduce a new mum to prenatal bonding techniques, helping her to focus on her innate connection with her baby while subtly providing a means to sort through old, inappropriate or detrimental beliefs or memories, particularly those that belong to some-one else (the woman’s own mother for example). Once a woman has learnt a meditation technique that suits her she then has the skills to sit quietly any time that is available to her to focus on beneficial thoughts and to work through those no longer needed or wanted. The result of this type of work is a woman who is ready to embrace labour and the birthing process with a relaxed and open body and a mind that knows how to ‘let go’.
With the help of meditation, a woman can also gain the ability to manage pain during pregnancy and in labour. With guidance or experience a woman can focus her mind on the positive aspects of labour or can learn to ‘travel’ inward to a safe place, protected from fear and pain. This is possible when a woman is taught how to use meditation to focus on her breath and to ‘let go’ of sensation in her body. These simple techniques achieves three things: they help the body to efficiently absorb and use oxygen for the working muscle of the uterus, minimizing the creation of pain; they help the body create endorphins, our natural pain relief (much stronger than other opiates); and they help the body relax and avoid tension, further aiding the working muscle. The essence of achieving a calm and peaceful birth is letting go of the fear and the tension that produce pain in childbirth.
Another wonderful benefit of learning or practicing meditation during pregnancy is that it makes it just a little more likely that it will be carried into motherhood and practiced there as well! And as any mother knows, even a few sane minutes on the toilet can make a huge difference to the rest of the afternoon! You don’t need a zafu or a singing bowl to practice the beneficial techniques of meditation; brushing your teeth, hanging out the washing or a few quiet moments before bed can all be turned into meditation time when the right techniques and advice have been passed on.
Simple Breath Meditation :
A very simple but effective meditation.
Choose a posture you feel comfortable with or work with one that you need to be in for a few minutes (
not driving!). As much as possible, relax the body by concentrating on each part in turn, allowing the tension in each area to melt away. You might still need to use different parts of the body to carry on an activity however, it is still possible to be free of unnecessary tension. Spend a few minutes on this.
When you’re ready concentrate on your breath, and simply watch it come and go.
Allow your breathing to become regular and a little deeper, but don’t force anything.
Breathing in through the nose and out through the nose is best, but whatever is most comfortable for you is fine.
If your mind wanders off in any direction, gently bring it back to an awareness of each breath you take. Spend a few minutes just ‘watching’ the air going into and then out. Try to maintain this simple awareness.
Breath comes in, and breath goes out. In…out…
Now let your attention focus on the sensations you can feel at the end of your nose or your lips as the air passes through on its way in and out. Relax. Simply watch.
When you are ready, come out of the meditation by gradually becoming aware of your surroundings and your body. Stretch out, take a deep breath and acknowledge that you have just done something very good for yourself!
– See more at: http://birthskills.com.au/?cat=10#sthash.xW6DILL8.dpuf

Three Dimensional Breathing for Pregnancy

three dimensional breathing

This ‘how-to’ is a follow-up to the post “
Baby, you take my breath away”.

Three-dimensional breathing involves all of the rib-cage (not just the belly) as well as the breast-bone (sternum) and the back of the rib-cage.

In a comfortable seated position with a back rest or against a wall, place your hands at the sides of the lower ribs. Breathe into your belly and lower ribs, expanding side-to-side against the gentle resistance of your hands and bring your awareness to the movement there.

Then shift just one of your hands to your sternum (breast-bone), high on the centre of your chest so that you can feel both the side-to-side and top-to-bottom expansion of the rib-cage as you inhale (your hand should rise subtly toward your chin). Tuck your chin slightly if you notice it lifting forward or up.

Leaving your hands where they are, shift your awareness into your back where it is touching the chair or wall behind you. As you inhale notice the slight increase in pressure against your back as your rib-cage expands front-to-back on the inhale.

As your baby grows, practice bringing your breath into the side ribs (including right up under your arms) and into your back so that you aren’t relying solely on the increasingly restricted space in your abdomen!

If you find that you are not able to breathe in a way that brings a small amount of movement either side-to-side or into the back of your body, or if this causes pain or discomfort of some sort, you may benefit from seeing an osteopath or yoga therapist who understands the physiology of pregnancy to assess if you have a postural or musculoskeletal issue restricting your breath.

Baby you take my breath away

Baby, you take my breath away.
Many pregnant women notice, that once baby starts to take up more space, it gets harder to breathe or that breath feels more “shallow.” This is because the diaphragm muscle gets pushed up (as does everything else between the uterus and the top of the abdominal and thoracic cavities) by the expanding uterus as baby gets bigger. The thoracic cavity, which contains the lungs, requires empty space to be available so that the lungs can inflate to their full extent on an inhale, usually this empty space is created by the belly (the abdominal cavity) protruding (being pushed out of the way) as we breathe in.  However, if the abdominal cavity is filled by a uterus containing a baby and a few litres of amniotic fluid, there is little possibility of the breath being forceful enough to push the full uterus out of the way enough for the lungs to expand fully. This means that there is limited space available and therefore, limited capacity for a deep inhale, leaving us ‘breathless’ during the latter part of pregnancy.
In order to be more comfortable, we need to adjust out breathing patterns to accommodate this change in circumstances. When a growing uterus, during pregnancy, pushes up onto the diaphragm muscle and breathing gets harder, often the body will find a way itself to compensate or breathe easier. So often, we may not even know that our body has found a different, easier way for us to breathe while pregnant. Chest and shoulder breathing are two common solutions our bodies come up with to breathe comfortably while pregnant. As you begin to become aware of your breath you might notice that, like most people, you breathe quite shallowly, drawing a breath high in the chest and perhaps raising shoulders with each inhalation. This type of shallow breathing, which exchanges around only 10% of the air in the lungs, leaves toxins trapped in the body and fails to re-oxygenate the blood enough to meet the physical demands of the pregnant body (nevermind the labour process!). Further, shallow chest breathing leads to neck and shoulder tension and traps a lot of energy in your upper body which could otherwise be used more effectively if the energy was allowed to travel down to the abdomen and uterus where all the action is taking place (first growing a baby and then labour and birth)!
Feeling short of breath can be a very frightening experience. Feeling short of breath as labour begins can be terrifying. Feel short of breath and terrified as labour progresses can lead to:
  • increased levels of muscular tension;
  • increased use of oxygen by arms and legs, leaving the uterus (and baby) depleted;
  • increased blood pressure;
  • a labour that is painful and very slow to progress (as the production of labour hormones will be restricted by the stress hormones produced in response to fear) ;
  • the need for medical intervention to manage labour.
So how do we avoid all of this? Learning to breathe during pregnancy, in a way that adapts to the circumstances and allows you to get as full a breath as possible will help prevent this domino effect of fear from transpiring. However, if the movement of the diaphragm is restricted by the fullness of the uterus in the abdominal cavity, where do we find find the space to breath deeply in?
Healthy, unrestricted breath is three-dimensional. The pregnancy restricts only one of these dimensions. There are two remaining dimensions that can be used to access a full, satisfying inhalation.
Leslie Kaminoff (The Breathing Project, NYC) says, “Breath is shape change (in the cavities of the body). Shape change in the abdominal and thoracic cavities leads to shape change in the spine.” Therefore, the shape change created by pregnancy (by filling and expanding the abdominal cavity) must also lead to shape change of the spine. So, the space required for the breath during pregnancy is made available by the shape change of the spine, and the space needed for breath is then available in the remaining two dimensions, relatively speaking, given the vertical is restricted by the pregnancy (front to back: sternum rises; and side to side: shoulders & ribs expand to the side), but for a woman with habitual up-down breath rather than 3D breath, these two dimensions weren’t available before pregnancy so without training in the use of the other two dimensions, the breath becomes very shallow and restricted. If a pregnant woman is taught to use all three dimensions she can avoid the shallowness of breath experienced by many in the later stages of pregnancy.
You can learn healthy breathing patterns for pregnancy in our
online birth preparation course!.
Research shows that many women develop new habits of breathing during pregnancy, and even though these new habits have developed to suit a specific circumstance, we don’t always return to optimal breathing patterns for our non-pregnant body after the baby is born. Even though the pressure on the diaphragm is reduced, we don’t always return to a deeper pattern of breath without some conscious awareness of the processes taking place. Postnatal breath training is available in our
online Baby & Me, postnatal support program (Coming soon to Udemy).

Hypnosis for labour and birth

To Milton Erickson, a highly skilled and world famous hypnotherapist, hypnosis is the way two people respond to each other, nothing more or less (Haley, 1986). There is not necessarily the need for a deep trance or a formal initiation such as counting backwards or swinging a watch. Hypnosis is simply a form of communication that, when used in hypnotherapy, allows one person to suggest to the other that they may wish to correct or change the way they think and behave. A person acting under hypnosis is not under anyone else’s control and will not change or do anything if they do not wish to.
BirthSkills teaches you how and when to use hypnosis for birth and also provides you with many other techniques to choose from so you have full control over how you chose to manage your labour.
The most wonderful thing about hypnosis is that it is easy; almost anyone who wants to can achieve and be helped by hypnosis.
Hypnosis for pregnancy and childbirth can be used in a number of different ways:
•    as therapy (hypnotherapy) for dealing with fear and anxiety; •    as a method for training the mind to shut off or ignore pain sensations; •    as a method for achieving deep relaxation; •    to help the new parents be accepting of the changes in their lives.
Can women really give birth without experiencing pain? Yes, however there are many variables in labour and birth that can affect the outcome, and couples need to have a positive but realistic view of hypnosis for childbirth. Each pregnant woman and her partner need to feel empowered about the choices they have during labour and how they might interact with their caregivers to achieve the best outcome for mother and baby. Many a wonderful birth has been thwarted by not realizing how to make positive, informed choices, and yet these issues are easily addressed and learned in a good parent oriented childbirth class (Dick-Read, 2004). Choosing a class that also incorporates hypnosis will help you focus your energy and awareness towards a positive birthing outcome.
A great deal of research supports the view that maternal anxiety is directly related to physical and emotional difficulty during birthing (Pratt, Wood & Alman, 1988). Without a doubt, women using hypnosis are much calmer and more relaxed during labour, which automatically creates more comfort, as well as having ‘powerful’ post-hypnotic suggestions to actually reduce or eliminate pain and fear.  The physical and biochemical basis for this effect is easily understood and should be fully explained by your hypnosis practitioner.
How effective is hypnosis for childbirth? Statistics will vary by the program and method chosen, depending on the length and number of hypnosis sessions, the materials used in each, and the skill of the hypnotherapist or teacher, as well as the commitment to the program of each birthing couple. Ideally, hypnosis for childbirth instructors will have backgrounds in both hypnotherapy and childbirth education, and be able to address each woman’s personal needs. With adequate preparation and trust in the natural process of birth, most women can have much more relaxed and comfortable births, with many actually free of pain.
Benefits of using hypnosis for childbirth:
•    Fewer drugs or no drugs at all means less risk of side effects on mother and baby. •    Shorter labours – resistance of the birthing muscles as a response to pain is  minimised or eliminated. •    An awake, energized mother, due to total relaxation throughout the birthing process. •    A calm, peaceful and welcoming birthing environment. •    Breech and posterior babies can be turned using hypnosis. •    Fewer interventions and complications during labour. •    Babies who are better sleepers and feeders due to fewer drugs in their systems and more feel good hormones they get from Mum.
Hypnosis also has many wonderful benefits during pregnancy and can be used to help with nausea, fatigue, leg cramps and heartburn as well as the physical and emotional benefits of deep relaxation for both mother and baby (Streeter, 2004).
A good childbirth program will provide a CD and also teach your partner how to help you into deep relaxation so you don’t have to wait for the next class in order to benefit from the methods.
It is important to note that hypnosis alone will not ‘deliver’ the ideal birth. When placed in the right context of education about the human body, health and wellbeing and the process of natural labour, hypnosis can be a powerful tool for achieving the calm and confident state of mind vital to a positive birthing experience.
Register for the BirthSkills online program to learn how and when to use hypnosis for birth as well as relaxation, breathing, yoga, massage, meditation and much much more.

Suck it up or helicpoter?

Suck it up’ parenting or ‘Helicopter parenting’? Really? that’s the choice we’ve got? I know which one I’d rather be accused of, though, better yet, how about we stop criticizing each other’s parenting styles and try a little understanding and acceptance? It’s not the easiest gig in the world and when you’ve had crap examples it’s all trial and error anyway.
I’m becoming increasingly aware of the enormous contradiction facing parents of school-aged children at the moment. On the one hand, schools want to ‘partner’ with parents and ask parents to take responsibility and play a part in their child’s education. We’re asked to join the P&C, fundraise, help with reading and maths in class, and go along on school excursions. On the other hand, when we ask for individual learning plans, consideration of psych assessment reports, or, God forbid, we take matters into our own hands and home educate, we are being told that we’re interfering in our child’s education, we’re over involved in the classroom and we’re unnecessarily anxious about our kid’s well-being.
Education professionals : you can’t have it both ways. Either we’re involved or we’re not. You can’t have us involved purely on your terms; they’re our kids.
So, what’s actually happening?
‘Suck it up’ parenting: basically this style of parenting involves telling your kids that life is tough so get used to it. Stop whinging, I don’t want to hear it, I don;t have time for it and I can’t fix your problem anyway. We’ve all come across it. But rather than criticizing these parent’s let’s look at what’s actually going on for them. Most often they’re busy, working full time or heavy part-time hours. They’re high achievers, they’re getting on with life, pushing through stressful life events, desperate to pay off the mortgage asap and essentially don’t have the time (or often the motivation ) to stop long enough and deal with their own issues, trauma, toxic parenting, anxiety, depression; never mind the issues their child is slowly building up. ‘Suck it up ‘ Parents don’t want to know about people with ‘issues’; we all have issues right? Get on with it.
‘Helicopter’ parenting: this style of parenting involves ‘over parenting’, constantly being there for your kids, not letting them out of your sight for too long, knowing where they are at all times, wanting to know their friends, their friends’ parents and constantly worrying if they’re making the ‘right’ decision about education, immunization, nutrition and socialization. What’s happening for these parents? Just like the ‘suck it up’ parents, they usually know, first-hand, the consequences of ‘suck it up’ parenting, but the difference is, they didn’t suck it up. They understand the feelings of abandonment, isolation, neglect and having to grow up too soon and don’t want to put their own kids through the same trauma. These parents often have time on their hands, time to go to the school, time to meet the family of friends, time to research the latest empirical evidence with regard to educational styles, home schooling, computer gaming and the pros and cons of extra-curricula activities. We all have issues right? Let’s try and protect the next generation from the issues we are dealing with ourselves.
So, on the one hand we have avoidant, emotionally absent parents and on the other hand we have insecure, hyper-vigilant, over-protective parents. And schools don’t want to deal with either. Where are the ‘suck it up’ parents when it’s time to help out at the school fete? Oh right they’re doing extra hours at work or the million chores to complete on the weekend. Why do the ‘helicopter’ parents constantly hang around outside classroom doors at pick up time to get the chance to chat with the teacher about how their kid is doing? Oh right, they actually give a damn and have time to ‘implement strategies’ to help their child with ‘identified challenges or weaknesses’ (educators, this is your language, not ours).
So, teachers, what do you want from us? You want us to support formal education; from a distance. You want us to be involved and take responsibility for our children’s’ education; outside of school hours. Unfortunately, for you, it’s not as clean cut as that. You see, us parents (and you too as it turns out) have our own issues. Some of us are in denial, sure. Others of us are fully aware of our traumatic backgrounds and are desperately trying to pave a better future for our own children.
Education needs to be placed in context of the wider community, As parents we need to understand that teachers are essentially over worked and underpaid. Most of them have the same ‘suck it up’ or ‘helicopter’ approach with their own children or with ours as teachers. Anxiety is rampant among teachers AND parents. We’re insecure, we’re scared of what others are saying about us, we’re scared we’re going to let someone down, we’re scared we can’t cope. We’re scared we aren’t there for our kids and we’re scared we’re stifling them and cramping their style. Yes, we all have issues. But let’s not ignore and deny and neither should we over-emphasize or catastrophize the future. Let’s look calmly and clearly at the issues and take responsibility for our own shit. Let’s understand that both parents and teachers are human, with human stories, with baggage and fear and accept that fact.
We aren’t helping each other by coming up with these ridiculous labels – the parents that don’t care enough and the ones that care too much. Are any of us doing a good job? Is there anyone out there who feels they have the balance just right? Do any of our children have any chance at all of healthy, happy fulfilling lives? Of course they do. Relax everyone. Kids are resilient, but they need loving parents who can meet their needs. Kids need space to make mistakes and learn through experience and they need parents who listen and make compassionate noises when they voice their pain, their hurt, their frustration. If we take time to listen, kids tell us exactly what they need and when they need it. Parents AND teachers: Let the kids lead the way. They have less baggage, they have less ‘shoulds’ and ‘should nots’, they live more closely aligned with their hearts. And, let’s face it, at this stage in their lives, they’re less screwed up than us.

Bathe your baby in calmness

Have you ever noticed that the minute some people find out you’re pregnant it seems all they want to do is tell you about everything that can and did go wrong in their own experience? And at a time when you really need them, there seems to be very few women around sharing positive stories about birthing and parenting.

BirthSkills online!
The way we talk about birthing has an enormous impact on the way we think about birthing. Words commonly associated with birthing, such as ‘contraction’, have long standing connotations, of pain and of being out of control; these words are generally fear inducing for most women. Changing the words we use to talk about birthing will help women and their partners to acknowledge that this is a natural process, that their bodies have been ‘designed’ to do the job and they have within them natural resources that will help them manage and work with the process.
It is important to remember during your pregnancy that everyone’s birth experience is different. Every woman’s body deals with the process of childbirth in its own way, each baby’s birth is a unique journey and each subsequent labour is different for the same woman. However, at a time when you are emotionally vulnerable and prone to assessing every possible risk involved, it is very helpful to have some well-founded skills to protect yourself and your baby from the stress of negative birthing images.
One way of changing the pattern of fear associated with childbirth terminology is through hypnosis. The use of hypnosis for childbirth is not a new concept or technique but neither is it mainstream. Women looking for a more positive approach to childbirth are attracted to the idea of using hypnosis during pregnancy and labour for a variety of reasons. One is that their hypno-birthing classes provide them with tools for warding off the horror stories and negative images provided by well meaning friends and family.
Through self-hypnosis, women and their partners can create a mind-set for themselves that allows them to set aside other people’s stories and focus on their own preparations. A great deal of research supports the view that maternal anxiety is directly related to physical and emotional difficulty during birthing. Without a doubt, women using hypnosis are much calmer and more relaxed during labour, which automatically creates more comfort, as well as having powerful post-hypnotic suggestions to actually reduce or eliminate pain and fear.  The physical and biochemical basis for this effect is easily understood and should be fully explained by your practitioner.
Learning and practicing self-hypnosis during pregnancy has wonderful benefits for both you and your baby; you will feel more relaxed and at ease with the changes in your body and your life, you will have more energy, despite it being sapped by your growing baby, and you will feel empowered and in control and able to deal effectively with any negative information provided by other people. In addition, your baby will be protected from the stress of the outside world because your body will pass all of the natural feel-good hormones (endorphins) created by your relaxation and positive attitude across the placenta to your baby where it will almost literally bathe in calmness – imagine floating in pure relaxation, completely protected from the outside world.
The most wonderful thing about hypnosis is that it is easy; almost anyone who wants to can achieve and be helped by hypnosis. Although there are around 5% of people who  do not respond to hypnotic suggestion or hypnotherapy, everyone can benefit from learning relaxation techniques. Even if you discovered that the hypnosis wasn’t as effective as you were hoping, other things that you should learn in your hypno-birthing classes, will be invaluable in helping you remain calm and in control during labour.
Hypnosis for pregnancy and childbirth can be used in a number of different ways:
–       as therapy (hypnotherapy) for dealing with fear and anxiety;
–       as a method for training the mind to shut off or ignore pain sensations;
–       as a method for achieving deep relaxation;
–       to help the new parents be accepting of the changes in their lives and build up resilience against postnatal depression.
How effective is hypnosis for childbirth? Using the techniques taught in your hypno-birthing classes does not guarantee you a pain-free birth, but it will put you in an excellent position to work with your body and have a positive birthing experience. With adequate preparation and trust in the natural process of birth, most women can have much more relaxed and comfortable births, with many actually free of pain. Using hypnosis for childbirth is not an ‘all or nothing’ path, the outcome will depend on what you would like to use the hypnosis for and how much you practice the techniques suggested.
Some of the benefits of using hypnosis for childbirth
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–       Fewer drugs or no drugs at all means less risk of side effects on mother and baby.
–       Shorter labours – resistance of the birthing muscles as a response to pain is minimised or eliminated.
–       Time distortion through deep relaxation means that labour seems shorter.
–       Brain activity shifts from the stress-prone right frontal cortex to the calmer left frontal cortex. This mental shift decreases the negative effects of stress and anxiety. There is also less activity in the amygdala, where the brain processes fear.
–       An awake, energized mother, as a result of relaxation throughout the birthing process.
–       A calm, peaceful and welcoming birthing environment.
–       Breech and posterior babies can be turned using hypnosis.
–       Fewer interventions and complications during labour.
–       Babies who are better sleepers and feeders due to fewer drugs in their systems and more feel good hormones (endorphins) they get from Mum.
Hypnosis also has many wonderful benefits during pregnancy and can be used to help with nausea, fatigue, leg cramps and heartburn as well as the physical and emotional benefits of deep relaxation for both mother and baby.
It is important to note that hypnosis alone will not ‘deliver’ the ideal birth. When placed in the right context of education about the human body, health and wellbeing and the process of natural labour, hypnosis can be a powerful tool for achieving the calm and confident state of mind vital to a positive birthing experience.
These techniques work just as well for first, second, third and even fourth time Mums, each are able to set aside any fears or negative thoughts they held about birthing and birth their baby very calmly and comfortably.
Programs that teach hypnosis for childbirth do not just focus on hypnosis and relaxation. You will have the opportunity to learn about other natural therapies, physiology, anatomy and biochemistry of pregnancy and birth, natural and medical choices. Ensure you choose an evidence-based program founded on principles of psychology and mind-body medicine. This means that the skills taught by your practitioner have been shown by research to be useful and effective in pregnancy, birthing or for deep relaxation.