Heidi Danaher has practiced Yoga for over 20 years and added hypnobirthing to further support the pregnant women in her yoga classes. She loves to work with pregnant women and follow their journey as a mother enjoying the transformation that her hypnobirthing and yoga classes bring. She speaks here of the power of this journey and how women 'discover themselves' through the process of giving birth.
Heidi has been a yoga teacher for over 20 years and in the early years pregnant women kept coming so Heidi followed the Universes hint and trained in pregnancy yoga to support them. Pregnant women still kept coming so Heidi kept going and found she loved it. She later added Hypnobirthing.
1.40 What is hypnobirthing? It is nothing like stage hypnotism on TV. Think more learning how to relax and release fears from your life experience and your own birth and become empowered and make decisions from a place of being informed. Good for people for whom even entering a hospital environment puts them on edge.
3.0 Using hypnobirthing as pain relief. There is no promise of pain free, but using hypnobirthing helps you manage the pain and the birth can be enjoyable.
4.10 A glimpse into how hypnobirthing can help you ride out any changes with confidence through the story of the birth of Heidi’s own son 4 years ago, when she had the opportunity to use her skills on herself.
Heidi used a variety of different hypnobirthing programmes ( see links at the end for suggestions of starting places to find one for you)
6.37 Who is hypnobirthing for and how do you know if its for you? There is lots of inspiration online and it's good to get your partner involved as it is not happening to their body so this gives them a tool kit to help and they can feel prepared, supportive and useful. Talk to others and have an open mind.
8.36- A group or private? Choose what works for you and remember in a group you often have reunions after and have a ready made community to connect with
9.20 The Key to success: Practice! Be flexible for example when you awake at night and can’t sleep. Practice little and often throughout the day which doesn’t take up much time but can make a huge difference. Heidi has heard many stories of women who have not done hypnobirthing with a first birth and with the second feel much more empowered and able to manage the medical professionals and know what they would like and get a different experience.
11.20 Charlotte's story of listening a lot to hypnobirthing tracks for her first child and then neglected this during her second pregnancy until she hit a bump in the road with some fear, tension and high blood pressure. Listening to her old hypnobirthing tracks took her right back and she was instantly relaxed and at peace.
13.02 What does a hypnobirthing birth like? It doesn’t have to be all OM and the baby just appears! Sound and noise is fine. If you are breathing and giving birth you ARE doing it. Partners can also be reassured about what is normal including noise and the more a partner is relaxed the more he can be supportive.
14.45 How to choose the right hypnobirthing for you. Tip- you need to like their voice! Check out what else the practitioner does and how she integrates those, For example Heidi mixes in some of her Yoga work. ( see some ideas at the end of notes)
16.04 There is some overlap in the breathing exercises in hypnobirthing and in the pranayama yogic breathing and so they complement each other well.
16.50 The anatomy of a pregnancy yoga class including the tea break time. A lovely experience to teach and take part in . Heidi took part in her own classes when pregnant as a colleague ran them for her and got to experience it that way which was so lovely.
18.30 The importance of relaxation and setting aside time to do this. Again short bursts are useful and in addition the collective vibe of a class is powerful.
19.11 It is awe inspiring when women discover themselves and find a sense of power they didn’t know they had. Heidi thinks it is amazing to create a baby and enjoys the lovely stories she has a privilege to be a part of.
20.20 Hypnobirthing can help you to know what you have to do and where you have choice such as knowing the mantra 'your body your choice' so you can choose a sweep or you can say no. This knowledge is powerful. Good to be informed.
22.18 Heidi would like women to know that there is tons of support out there and to go and find it. And to Know they can do it.
23.28 Finishing with more insights into Heidi’s birth and her supportive sisters who knew what she wanted.
Finally Enjoy the journey!
Heidi has practiced yoga since 1997 and is qualified as a yoga teacher with The British Wheel of Yoga and Ruth White's Karuna Yoga. Her interest in birth led her to further training to support pregnant mothers and children including becoming a Calm Birth School Hypnobirthing Teacher. She lives on the Isle of Man with her four year old son and you can find her contact information here
Links to Hypnobirthing Resources
Here are some links to different Hypnobirthing options. They are by no means exclusive and are just some of the resources Charlotte and Heidi have tried out themselves and are a good starting point. If you have locl knowledge or friends who have tried other programmes, use that and find the one you like the most.
The Calm Birth School ( video based home study course with also live teachers teaching classes) https://www.thecalmbirthschool.com/
Natal Hypnotherapy https://www.natalhypnotherapy.co.uk/
Katharine Graves https://www.kghypnobirthing.com/
Positive Birth Downloads https://www.positive-birth.com/index.htm
Some books - often these have an accompanying cd or download:
Seren’s Birth Story really begins with her sister Clara’s, who was born two years earlier by emergency Caesarean section after a classic cascade of interventions; overdue induction, epidural, failure to progress, and ultimately surgery.
After three days and nights lying on my back being constantly monitored; feeling lonely, scared and isolated as my husband wasn’t allowed to stay with me at night; desparately hungry and weak because I'd been advised not to eat or drink… surgery seemed the only option. Through the numbness I felt terribly grateful to the hospital for saving my baby from her failed mother’s body. Yes, I felt I'd failed and I wasn't ready to process my disappointment, or the shock and trauma. I didn't even recognise that it was trauma for some time. It lay buried beneath the joy and relief of finally holding our beautiful baby daughter.
The surgeon found me on the ward afterwards to tell me that 75% of women who have Caesareans go on to give birth naturally - the first time I heard the term VBAC. “Why are you telling me this?” was all I could think. Reeling from major surgery and a mother for a matter of hours, another baby was not on my horizon, let alone her manner of birth.
But her words stayed with me and I became grateful for this snatched 20-second conversation that she had bothered to come back and have with me.
Fast forward a year and a half, and my husband and I are sitting in the hospital coffee shop after our 12 week scan. Seren is officially on the horizon. I am explaining to him with some force - people are looking - that I plan to do things differently this time. That there is no question I’ll be having a Caesarean or coming near this place again. He looks bewildered. His belief was, and to some extent remains, that the doctors saved our baby.
I am surprised myself by the force of my conviction. It is coming from deep inside me.
I get home and start Googling. I found an article about a beautiful home birth helping to heal the scars of a traumatic first birth and I just begin to cry and I don’t stop for some time. This is me beginning to understand. You see, I didn’t even realise I had experienced that hospitalisation as traumatic. It’s something I unpack over the six months that follow.
I throw myself into preparing for this birth in a very different way. I stand my ground when a consultant tells me “It would be safer if all babies were born by Caesarean”, that I am selfishly thinking of my own experience at the expense of my baby’s, and as a parting shot, “Well, I’m the one who sees women coming back with bladder problems in their fifties.” At the time I feel frightened to death that she might be right. She is the expert, isn’t she?
At this point, with terror dominating my experience I discover the work of Charlotte Kanyi whom I'd met recently at a baby signing class. I was inspired by how she birthed her two boys (three at the time of editing!) at home, the second without assistance as he came so fast and booked her Birth Confidence Package to unpick in depth what had gone wrong. She takes me on a deep dive and helps me to acknowledge and clear past experiences and welcome in new ones. I clear the all consuming fear, the trauma, and the underlying imprints and patterns that were actively preventing me from believing in myself and my body. I change my care providers, my birth place and I hire a doula, Jane Jennings. She listens with skill and without judgment to mine and my husbands very differing viewpoints. It helps - we’ve been at loggerheads for weeks with no progress. He now feels heard, and we realise we both want the same thing fundamentally.
On the advice of Charlotte and Jane, I surround myself with positive birth stories. I take up meditation. I read Ina May Gaskin. I eat healthily, borrow a birth pool, and arrange to go to the local midwife-led centre, Serenity, whose hands-off approach I am eternally grateful for.
On Seren’s due date, the day I expected her least, I laboured at home in the pool with the sunlight streaming in through the sunflowers on the table. Jane turned my occipital posterior baby with a Rebozo shawl in under a minute. I felt Seren turn, I could suddenly walk more easily, and the contractions changed. There was a pause while I breastfed my two year old in the pool - she still refers to this with a big smile.
Seren was keen to be born at home - I could feel her head before we embarked on the car journey to the midwife centre. I held her back till we got to Serenity and they filled a pool there. She was born seconds after I stepped in. The cord was wrapped twice around her neck, and was unhooked without drama. We were able to rest at Serenity before journeying home to be reunited with her sister, our now expanded family complete and feeling whole.
Seren’s birth has left me feeling not only healed but empowered. I hear and trust my instincts so much more. I realise that the meditation, breathing and being in the now exercises I used during birth, are vital to me in the daily challenge of parenting a toddler and newborn. I have tools including The NPA Process which I can use whenever I feel out of sorts, blocked or frightened. I feel less scared of dying. Some part of me has understood and confronted a place of inner strength where birth and death happens. This was without question the most wonderful experience of my life and taught me precious life lessons.
It makes me sad beyond words that this opportunity is becoming so hard to come by. As I reflect on why this is. I feel that our medical system is beyond wonderful when birth goes wrong, but it mostly runs on a model of intervention, and sometimes causes the emergencies it solves. I have seen so many women have similar experiences to me resulting in undermining of already fragile confidence; midwives measure bumps big, growth scans follow giving a “diagnosis” of a big baby. The seed of fear is sown, and often the woman is already well on her way to a Caesarean, believing she can’t possibly give birth to such a monster. Often there is much surprise when the enormous baby is born weighing a very average 7lb. Rather than encouragement and positivity at the moment she needs it most, a woman starts to encounter fear and an institution more concerned with covering its back than with helping her bring her baby into the world in the best possible way. “Safety” statistics don't even start to take into consideration effects on mother and baby, PND, delayed trauma, interrupted bonding, lack of transfer of beneficial bacteria and flora, and breastfeeding problems, caused by interfering with the process of birth.
For myself I needed a lot of support and education to overcome the fear and trauma from the first time, and to reassure me that it was safe to ignore the “experts” without being a potential baby murderer. I put a lot of resources into birth preparation, to clear the trauma and the roots of the imprinting and patterns that had led to me experiencing a very disemowering birth where I felt out of control and ignored, isolated and not able to voice my own desires. I also hired a doula. The healing experience of my second child has transformed me in a deep and long lasting way and I wish that all women would take heart and inspiration from this story and find their own inner strength and joyful place.
Zoe Challenor is a mother with many hats. She is also a workshop leader for Welsh National Opera, An Artist in Residence af Ark Schools, Founder and Director Of B'Opera Baby Opera which makes beautiful music for tiny ears.
You can catch up with her on Facebook at Zoe Challenor singing and Alexander Technique and B'opera.
Continuing the Passion and Possibilities Interview Series with a wonderful interview with Lorna Philip who is a Doula based in Birmingham. We discuss everything from what is a Doula and why you may choose to hire one, to how doulas can support you before during and after birth.
Watch the video or listen to the audio only version below the video. If you are limited for time use the notes underneath to skip to what most interests you.
Following 20+ years supporting mums, dads and children working in coordinating family health services, promoting and supporting breastfeeding, teaching infant massage, to name but a few of her previous roles, Lorna discovered her purpose and passion as a Doula
She supports all kinds of births and her heart particularly singswhen she supports women who are experiencing a VBAC ( vaginal birth after Caesaerean birth ) or who are creating positive births after a traumatic birth.
3.35 Defining a doula in a nutshell- a Doula is a lay person trained and experienced in birth offering practical and emotional care to the woman and her family.
4.16 We talk about what the role entails beyond ‘professional hand holding’ and how important these tasks are to the woman
6.00 We mention the research that shows benefits of a support person who is not a medic or a family member and discuss why- more objective and not emotionally tied to woman and situation.
7.28 why being a doula is not all about holding the babies cute though they are and what it is about instead.
8.55 Why it is not the mode of birth – vaginal versus caesarean for example that makes the birth special and the transition to motherhood smooth or traumatic. And how a doula supports a smoother transition to motherhood.
10.00 we talk about the miracle of birth and the role of a doula in influencing the calm trust atmosphere in the room
14.50 How to prepare for the postnatal period during pregnancy and tips to make sure you have enough support.
15.33 Dealing with resistance: I can’t afford a doula… Payment plans, gift vouchers and changing the mindset to give yourself what is priceless rather than pricey.
19.05 Mother burn out and how to avoid it
19.18 Who is a doula for- Hint if you are thinking its not for me its for x, y z, types of women you will be wrong.
20.15 Local support options:
Bethel Doula supporting vulnerable women with a free doula
And Cando-Doulas supporting women with learning difficulties.
For all nonlocal women there is likely other similar schemes in your area. If you would like a doula but don’t think you can afford one even with saving please ring a doula and ask what is available and what options exist in your area.
22.30 Addressing the results of the MBRRACE- UK (Mothers and babies reducing risk through audits and confidential enquiries) report 2018 which found Asian mothers twice as likely to die and black mothers 5 x as likely to die during childbirth than white women. We discuss the problem of viewing women as ‘other’ and the impact of true listening. With a plea to you watching to check inside to see if you are guilty of either fault so you can bring yourself gently back to open hearted listening to the human being in front of you
26.30 Brings us to cultural safety
28.40 The blind spot that assumes there is a level playing field that fuels defensive reactions when confronted by any women asking for more ( respect , time, etc) and in particular women of colour. We also talk of the importance of understanding the defensive reaction and moving beyond it back to the heart and humanity.
30.46 Takeaway wisdom - You don’t have to birth like they do on one born every minute! - or any other film or any other person.
32.19 Takeaway wisdom 2. Use your voice to insist on help. You matter and your voice matters. Take some time to enquire what you truly want and need and ask for it.
Find Lorna at Birmingham Doula where she offers Doula services including postnatal doula services, hypnobirthing and Mizan Therapy.
The Passion and Possibilities in Birth Interivew Series showcases the who's how's and why's of creating a community of support around you as you prepare and create your best birth experience. Intended to inspire you and open you to new and old ideas there are 11 different birth profesisonals sharing their passion and wisdom. We kick off here with experienced independent midwife Janie Al Alawi.
Watch the video or listen to the audio only version below the video. If you are limited for time use the notes underneath to skip to what most interests.
Janie Al Alawi discovered her passion for midwifery during a 4 week placement to the Jessop Hospital for Women during her nursing training that she completed in 1985. It was here she returned to become a 'Jessop girl' with 18 month training to become a midwife. She experienced labour ward and community midwifery before moving to Abu Dhabi in 1990 to the Corniche Hospital. 12 years, 4 different jobs including the busy delivery suite where 100,000 babies were born annually, Janie returned to the Uk to work as a community midwife. where she remained untili 2014. 2014 saw her creating acorn birth services as an independent midwife.
4.10 Janie describes why she loves midwifery so much -"Being a midwife for Janie is not a job it is something in you".
5.41 All about The Pinard.
This is the long trumpet that you see my husband using to listen into my baby's heartbeat, under supervision of Janie. Janie explains why she loves this traditional tool and why it is still useful today even though we have hand held dopplers and technological aids to listen in.
6.40 The difference between working for the NHS and working indpendently.
9.32 All about choice and the mantra " guidelines not tramlines" when arranging your birth plan with your care providers.
10.30 Why you are the expert in your own birth. The importance of communication especially listening to the woman, the mother. REmember 'The customer is always right' is the mindset to cultivate.
12.44 Billy the dog. A midwife's faithful companioni. He remained off screen but present so here is a little picture of the bundle of mischief.
13.30 Why the presentation and interpretation of data is a problem with induction research and what Janie would like to see change ( We mention Sophie Messager who as a scientist and birth educator has also written eloquently on this subject Check out this blog on induction )
15.31 Why sweeps are the bane of Janie's life and her water slide analogy to help you understand and choose.
20.15 As a population we are healthier than ever so why are we having so many more problems? Discussing the need to trust women and their bodies, with a special mention of big babies as an example of how planting fears that weren't there can affect you.
23.30 What Janie would like to see women doing to prepare for the birth of their child- including slowing down in the third trimester particularly. How she sees 'wired babies' when the mother hasn't slowed down, babies reflecting their mothers state of being.
26.40 Janie shares some tales from her travels to other cultures including the Emiratesand Angola where she witnessed the elder traditional midwives working alongside her in the hospital and mothers being looked after round the clockin the postnatal period.
31.44 Discussing easy to implement tips and techniques to support baby into the best position inlabour including using the stairs and the racing start.
33.30 A saddening tale of how quickly traditional skills and home birth/active birth preference were lost in the Emirates as an overmedicalised model took over in this nation which today sees 50% c sectoins. On her first visit she used 1 epidural in 12 years and very low c-section rates so the change is astonishing and quick. Janies mission and passion (one of many!) is to bring back home birth to th Emirates.
40.27 How you speak to a woman in pregnancy and birth will stay with her for life- so be mindful. And a reminder that YOU are superwoman! As Janie describes how she is still excited at every birth after 31 years as a midwife.
43 The heartbreak Janie feels when women are only given one option when there is almost always more choice than that. ( Check out this blog for more skills on how to get offered the choices available )
44 Mary Cronk Exclusive! Midwives on a mission of mercy. Janie shares a story from a trailblazing midwife who has done much to support women's choices in childbirth and to preserve skills such as birthing a breech baby.
You can read about her legacy here .
46 Some women need some help with some labours, BUT this help is the last line not first line as women can do this and have been for 1000s of years.
The Whos, Hows and Whys of creating a community of support around you as you create your best birth experience.
Back when I was first pregnant I was a fairly typical first time mother to be; anxious and excited in equal meassures yet simultaneiously overwhelmed with all the changes to my body and new information to absorb. I did pretty well, discovering hypnobirthing, and pregnancy yoga and utilising my skills as a therpaist to release fears and old cellular memories.
Still with the wisdom of hindsight I thought it could have been so much easier if I had known more what to even look for and include as self care and birth prepraration. Time is precious and I wasted plenty of it on fruitless, frustrating searches in googleland.
In a bid to help you avoid wasting those hours, I have gathered together 11 different birth professionals to chat and share their wisdom. It is my hope that you will feel inspired and confident to ask for what you need to create your best birth experience. I hope that listening to these passionate voices you will find your own voice and joy as you become a mother.
Full Interview List:
Week 3: Awen Clement. Sacred Celebrant
Week 5:( Coming Soon)
Week 6:( Coming Soon)
Week 7:( Coming Soon)
Week 8:( Coming Soon)
Week 9:( Coming Soon)
Week 10:( Coming Soon)
Week 11:( Coming Soon)