Charlotte Kanyi
Author Archives: Charlotte Kanyi

Interview with Linda Lilwall, midwife and massage therapist.

An experienced midwife who has attended about 700 births, Linda tells how her heart is filled by the process of educating and empowering women to own their birth experience.   She shares her wisdom and tips in her friendlly and passionate style, including the benefits of pregnancy massage and caesarean scar massage.


Linda's Road Map.  Introducing Linda and explaining why birth planning and making a 'birth proposal is so important.

3.55 Do you ask more questions buying a new kitchen than you do preparing for birth? Linda talks about the changes over years to a more medicalised system and the need to educate and empower women for different scenarios

5.33 Your body births your baby when its ready. Loving the confidence when she witnesses women who are able to say no and push back to get what they want in birth. 

6.50 Linda's ethos. Having kindness and empathy with the women she supports. How simple touches and listening being with a woman is transformational and can make a huge difference form overwhelm to a much better stronger place.

8.11 The transformational possibiliites and benefits of massage in pregnancy.   Works well with hypnobirthing and creates connection with the woman and her body. Eases aches and pains. A chance to connect deeper and see what is going on. Loving the way you leave after a massage 'floating on a cloud'

11.25   Massage of the scar after a caesarian section.  Linda has learnt to look deeper than the surface look of the scar and the massage helps the way the scar heals. Be mindful of what is going on under the scar inparticular adhesions like the spiderman web! The massage can release these and even prevent them from laying down

14.45  Freedom rather than restriction in later years when you massage the scar and it is never too late to start if this is new to you.

15.46. More than just a one off treat and how much you as the woman matters at the centre of this birth. Linda shares how she sees this particularly in women who have been focused on their career and leave the preparation until very late or until they have finishes work when it would be much more beneficial to do gently and regularly throughout pregnancy. Linda suggests putting the birth more centrally in your life and not leaving it too late. Take time to be prepared.

18.23   Paradigm shift of putting you at the centre of your experience in all areas of your life and how much you need to do this during pregnancy. 

19.38   Being moved to tears with the awe of a recent birth. Particularly inspiring as she journeyed from choosing a casearean to a water birth at 42 weeks having reisited pressure to induce. 

21.28   The amount of unnecesary interference that happens currently is breaking Linda's heart and watching women be coerced into certain procedures and sometimes separated from their partners and watching it escalate to a caesarean. Linda is on a mission to educate women to know their rights and ask questions.

23.10   The mind body continuum.  Get your mind into the right place, a place of calm and your body will follow.  Keep your adrenalin low and your oxytocin high then your experience will be so much better

A nurse and midwife for over 30 years Linda loves to share with women the journey of transformation into birthing godesses and empowered mothers.  In addition to private midwifery services Linda also offers birthing classes, KG hypnobirthing classes, remedial and relaxing massages and Doula services. She is based in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham and you can check out her services here 

Simone’s Home Birth Story

After being told at previous births ‘you should have had a homebirth!’ ‘You’re a natural’ We decided to go for it with our 5th child. I felt a bit deflated when our child was measuring small, as has been the case with our previous children without any problems and I chose to have growth scans between weeks 30 -34. When I got the all clear all anxiety lifted. We were determined to have our homebirth and we were emotionally planning for the best experience of our lives.

T’was the night before Christmas Eve…. I alerted my husband, ‘Braxton hicks’ were beginning to feel a bit real after being on and off for two days. From experience, this was my fifth baby,  I knew that this was baby’s way of prepping my body, letting us know they are coming soon.  I knew it would be quick once it got going!

My husband is a photographer and with the help of an old net curtain and belt created the stunning photos you see here at 1 am during the slow latent phase of labour. I love to look at them and admire the beauty and strength of pregnancy, birth and motherhood. We overlook how important a sound mind can be, at times I do too. I feel amazing and highly favoured, most of the time. Whenever I don’t, I look and remind myself just how amazing I am!

But back to the birth!  On Boxing Day I began to slow down, eat and talk less. My midwife was to come and visit but I put her off till the following day as I felt fine. I wanted us to get into a place of trust for each other and the natural happenings about to take place. I began visualising techniques to help relax my muscles. My surges were becoming more intense on the morning of the 27th. During a check up with my midwife;

‘Erm Becky, I think my waters have gone!’

Becky was still with us, she stayed for another hour or two in case things suddenly sped up.

I ran a bath, lit candles and soaked in it for hours. Topping up the water, eating dinner whilst watching Peter Kay live! Bliss! Always good to watch comedy when in labour. Relaxed, well fed and surges became more regular from around 6pm. I stayed in the bath so that I did not get the urge to start taking care of the children. My husband and our eldest daughter (16 at the time) had it all in hand. We had a back up plan in case for any reason We were admitted. However we didn’t pay much attention to it and focused on the plan we wanted

The children were extra hyper before they went to bed, I think they subconsciously knew the baby was coming very soon. They finally fell asleep at 10pm. That’s when it began to get intense. My body relaxed even more as the children fell asleep. I wasn’t worried about them I just think as parents there’s always a feeling of relief when the children fall asleep. I don’t take gas, air or drugs to assist. I drink gallons of water and it works everytime. The water fills my bladder and when I relieve myself the baby comes further down the birth canal, It works!

My husband played music, set up a video camera for some clips. He gave me the best body rub with warm coconut oil. He rubbed me down, in line with gravity. I was in my zone.

The snow was still quite high so we knew we had to give midwives time to travel. They called every so often anyway to see how we were doing. At 11pm I asked Mark to call the midwife on duty as she lived about 40 minutes away, 1 hour in the snow. Although she was on her way I felt so relaxed and things were happening fast. I started to crouch, I was quiet, this always means baby is coming. I just breath, hardly any noise. I was in my zone, connecting with my baby. Everytime I had a surge I would say ‘well done baby’ I programmed my mind to understand that the intensity meant the baby was closer to coming out. I visualised waterfalls, oceans and anything that took my mind to symbolise the process of delivery through gravity. I was closer to holding our 5th child, that thought felt amazing.

An hour passed so quickly. I heard the midwife parking up outside, our window was wide open, the heater was on in our room and I was upstairs. I wanted to be near our bed. What a great choice! Dimmed lights, soft classical music and water. It was 12 am on the 28/12 our baby’s due date.

I came out of silence and asked my husband ‘are you ready love? The baby is coming out now.’

He calmly said ‘yes I’m ready love’

The midwife came in and Mark helped her with her stuff, lots of stuff! I thought are you moving in Hun?

The midwife put her bags down and began to look at my notes, requested to check me for dialation and baby’s heart etc. My husband quite calmly said ‘it’s too late for all of that, she’s ready now and you do know I’m delivering?’ ‘No I didn’t know, wasn’t mentioned in the hand over!’ The midwife then checked our birth plan...She was fine. I think she knew we were set and she gracefully stood back. The midwife was with us for all of 5 minutes. Baby’s head was born safely, followed by the rest of its cute little body. Mark carefully checked for the cord and supported Nile whilst he entered the world. The midwife just said ‘wow!’ So calm, so focused. We did it!!

‘It’s a boy, we have another boy love.’ Like the others he was so cute. My husband delivered then, passed him straight to me. I held him on my warm chest and his cute cry sealed what had been an ideal birth. We sat on our bedroom floor for roughly an hour. Skin to skin, fed and latched straight away. My Placenta was born within good time too. We waited until the blood had drained from the cord before we allowed the clamp and cut by my husband of course. The midwife checked for any tears and again there were none. Skin to skin for a while longer before the weight was done. By this time the second midwife arrived and was so happy to be a part of our relaxed homebirth. She waited patiently to weigh our son whilst they filled out their notes. She offered to take care of us, tea and toast which was nice.

Nile was so punctual, he arrived 15 minutes into his due date. Weighing 7lb 14oz! Our heaviest of the 5, way above what was predicted...Again! Mark had delivered his Son,  as planned. When I asked him how he felt he said ‘I delivered my son, I can do anything!’

I felt so proud of us both, we finally got our home birth.

If you have the option we would highly recommend it.

Simone is a professional housewife and homeschool coordinator and lives with her husband Mark and 5 children ranging from 18 years to 18 months. They are a plant based Vegan family on a journey to become more environmentally conscious.  Simone believes in the power of direct action and enjoys connecting with her local community as she and her family litter pick with love. She loves music, the outdoors and being creative and loves to implement innovative new ideas together with her family.
You can find her on her family You Tube channel Thankfully True here. and instagram here.
Mark Roberts, is a professional photographer who took the beautiful photographs of Simone in labour. You can find his website here and follow him on instagram here

If you liked this story you may enjoy Zoe's heartwarming Vbac story of giving birth to Seren here.

How are you planning your Positive Birth Experience? Interview with Worcestershire Doulas.

The Positive Birth movement is a global grass roots network of free to attend antenatal groups that aim to connect pregnant women together to encourage each other and share stories, expertise and  positivity about childbirth positivity about childbirth.  The organisation aims to challenge the epidemic of negativity and fear that surrounds modern birth, and help change birth for the better. In this interview, Kat and Florence from Worcestershire Doulas talk about the Positive Birth Movement and why they love to run groups to encourage all women to plan for a positive birth experience and why this is so important and effective.


Find your local Positive Birth Movement Group here  and information about the North Birmingham Group here

0- 4 Introducing Kat and Florence and why they are so passionate about Birth and how they became birthworkers.  For Florence her first experience as a 'Doula' was at 6 years old! and it grew from there. Talking about the importance of women's voice and making sure women know their rights.

4.15 Introducing the Positive Birth Movement- putting a positive slant on birth and moving away from the common negative ways it is portrayed. That this positivity is possible for all kinds of birth experience.  The groups are for all women and not run by experts and this is beautiful as everyone has a voice and can ask questions and share their knowledge and experiences.

8.24 The enormous amount of goodwill and passion by the volunteers who run the groups who all want women to find their voice in birth and experience  a positive experience.

9 What is the difference between the Positive Birth Movement Groups and standard antenatal classes: No formal structure and content to get through, rather open discussions following a theme.  Following what the group needs with no agenda and a lot of flexibility.

12.14  The importance of no judgment in the groups , all are welcome. There are many places for women to meet up but these groups are very specific not just coffee mornings and supportive of all experiences.

14.20 In the groups you learn that noone fails at birth.  You can hear different perspectives that help you find postivty in your situation and find courage and feel supported.

16.23  Witnessing the transformation and seeing women come back into the groups to share their stories and how lovely that is for everyone. It is also great to have that space to share the story and for women who have questions who can ask anything without feeling stupid. They feel like the group has their back and is with them throughout their journey like cheerleaders.

17.50 Moving from passivity to empowered  and active in what happens to you. Sometimes this shows in even subtle ways like body language, how a woman sits or walks in the room.

19.50  Learning how to be empowered and stand your ground and other ways to make your positive birth happen.  Think about who is in the room with you and where you are getting your information from as you prepare. Invest in yourself and remember to inlude the postnatal period in your planning.  Fill in for the missing village! Create support around you at all stages.

25.12  Getting away from the pressure of trying to be perfect. There is no one perfect way and it comes back to empowerment again and finding what works for you.

25.52  Loving how powerful women are in birth and seeing the huge transformative process no matter how it happens and Kat speaks of how she will never grow tired of it. Florence agrees and how amazing our bodies are and the mechanics of how it works. She thinks we put obstacles in our way when nature and instinct is so amazing and powerful.

28.20  Feeling  heartbroken hearing the same stories over and over about how I wasn't allowed and the disempowering lanuguage that is used with women. Feeling frustrated after ten and more years that the same scnearios where the system is not supporting women as it should. Women should be at the centre and not made to feel doubting or themselves and so fearful ( ​If this is you have a read of this post which has practical tips on how to stand your ground and get the birth you want.
Would love to see the medical expertise used appropriately at same time as trusting in birth and women's bodies.

Focusing on numbers and measurements when that time could be spent on preparing emotionally and physicall on what a healthy pregnancy looks like and what will happen when the baby comes. So the system does not allow for these parts and they can be missed.   Infantilising of women is still happening - Thiink of Monty Python clip!

32 What really matters- it is more than 'just' a healthy baby. Women remember every birth is different and there is noone more expert than you. Parenting also different every time.  Remember  you are enough and you are going to do it no matter what and that is also enough

BirthEssence was talking to Worcestershire Doulas who comprise of Kat Galbraith and Florence Etienne-Jackson. They also have co founded the Birmingham South Positive Birth group.

Kat Galbraith is a birth and postnatal doula, a born to carry peer supporter and is actively involved in her local Maternity Voices Partnership. She is a mum of three and grandmother to two and when not working loces to walk her dog and is a keen photographer.
You can find her here

Florence is also  birth and postnatal doula, and is co-owner of Nurturing Birth providing doula preparation courses across the UK, Europe and the Middle East  as well as the international Nurturing Birth Directory to help parents find the right birth or postnatal doula.You can find her here

Acupuncture for birth and fertility: Interview with Janet Eastwood

Previously a chartered physiotherapist on the NHS, Janet retrained in acupuncture following  her recovery from an unsuccessful operation  related to her osteoarthritis.  She continued her training with specialist courses in pain relief, fertility, care in pregnancy and post partum and today speaks to BirthEssence why she loves what she does and how she supports the pregnant women that come through her door.

Q1.         Tell us a little more about your own story. How did you discover acupuncture and what made you choose this as your career?

 I was a physiotherapist for many years working in Obstetrics and gynaecology and paediatrics. In 2006 I had been having problems with sciatica and arthritis of the spine, also menstrual problems due to fibroids and endometriosis. I had 2 operations very close together, one gynae and a spinal op. The spinal op was unsuccessful and although the gynae problems improved the spinal problems progressed. After being told there was nothing more Western medicine could offer me, I searched for alternatives. This is when I found acupuncture.

At first it didn’t help with the pain I was experiencing, but other areas of my life improved; sleep, wellbeing. I decided that I would do a degree in acupuncture and started the course the same day one of my daughters went to university.

So at 51 I retrained in Acupuncture and have loved every minute since!

I now have a clinic offering private and Multi-bed treatments, depending on what clients prefer or can manage.  I set up the  multi-bed clinic to try and keep prices as low as possible for people because I found it difficult to pay for the treatments I needed myself.

Q2. Most people probably know that acupuncture involves needles but I would love to know a little more about what acupuncture is and how it works and how it can support pregnant women?

Acupuncture is an ‘holistic’ treatment which means it works with the ‘whole person’, supporting not only the physical but also emotional and even ‘spiritual’ aspects of our nature. With this is in view it can be used to aid relaxation, calm anxiety as well as treat the changes that occur in pregnancy that can cause problems.

I support women all the way through their pregnancies, but there are specific times when acupuncture can be really helpful:

  • Early pregnancy supportive care
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation and haemorrhoids
  • Varicose veins and vulval varicosities
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Musculoskeletal conditions such as back pain, pelvic and hip pain
  • Fatigue and exhaustion
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Itching in pregnancy
  • Hypertension disorders including Pregnancy-induced hypertension
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Pre-birth acupuncture to prepare the body for an efficient labour.This involves a series of four treatments weekly from 36 or 37 weeks to prepare for labour. Points are used according a woman's constitution and pregnancy history. This may include points used to assist in ripening the cervix, positioning the baby in the best presentation for labour and to promote optimal energy and stamina for women.
  • Breech and posterior positioned babies
  • Preparation for a medical Induction
  • Acupressure taught to support people to use for pain relief during labour
  • Postpartum recovery

 Women giving birth are just phenomenal! Believing you can do it- with the trust that as an individual there is no right or wrong way- it can be transformative. There are certain points that we avoid during different stages of pregnancy but generally it is a very gentle and safe treatment when performed by specialist acupuncturists.

Q3.         What do you love most about working with women on their journey to motherhood?

For me being able to give women space to talk openly about any problems and get the support they need is so important. Also a haven to come to and take ‘time out’ in a safe, comfortable environment.

Q4.         What transformations do you see in women who use acupuncture?

Acupuncture gives them strength to choose their own way through pregnancy and birth. To feel they do not have to rush and meet everyone else’s expectations.

Acupuncture  gives women relief from symptoms that they have been told cannot be supported by Western medicine at this time in their lives. Like nausea and vomiting; carpal tunnel syndrome; heartburn; backache.

It also gives women support and options when faced with difficult decisions, often at the end of pregnancy when pressure can be applied to go for induction.

Q5.         What would you say to women to inspire them with confidence and joy about birth- either practical tips or suggestions for support?

Pregnancy is not always easy and there is no manual so try to listen to your body and if you feel there is a problem or you are not coping- talk to someone -use all the support around you.

Try not to let others fixate you on ‘dates’ – as long as your baby is moving and you are well, get out in nature as much as you can and let baby grow. Talk to your baby, play music, take time for yourself and pamper yourself. You are beautiful!

Q6.         What do you find awe inspiring about women giving birth/birth itself?

 Women giving birth are just phenomenal! Believing you can do it- with the trust that as an individual there is no right or wrong way- it can be transformative.

Q7.         What breaks your heart that you would like to see change for women becoming mothers?

The lack of support now from the NHS. Midwives have such a difficult task with all the cuts and demands on their time. They can’t do the job they want to be able to do to support women at this very precious time. Especially after birth.

Q8.         If there was one thing that you would like women listening to take away and take to heart today what would it be?

Get the support you need to trust in your own body to support and nurture this beautiful new life that is growing within you. You can do this. Go mama!

Janet Eastwood BA (Hons) Lic Ac MBAcC is a member of the British Acupuncture Council, Acupuncture Fertility Network  and a Zita West Accredited Acupuncturist.  She is passionate about making acupuncture as accessible as possible and runs a private and multibed clinic in  Bearwood, Birmingham.

Tools for Transforming your birth: Interview with Gulara Vincent

Gulara is a mother of two, a writer and a healer who specialises in helping women recover from deep childhood and sexual trauma. She talks to BirthEssence about the inner work she did on her journey to becoming a mother and how it has transformed how she shows up in the world.
(Photo Credit Khalid Zeynalov)

Notes:  ( Scroll down to find links to the tools mentioned in the interview at the end of the notes)

Originally from Azerbajan, Gulara came to the UK over a decade ago and embarked on an  epic healing journey from a traumatic childhood.  Now a therapist herself she talks about the tools she used on her journey to health and well being and particularly how she transformed her experience of birth as she became a mother to her two children now 4 and 6.

2.50 Her first pregnancy was deemed to be high risk and was highly stressful. Gulara needed to release the ‘gunk’ from her system.   Although she used three of her top healing tools to prepare, her first birth was still traumatic and she feels that she had no idea how much work there was for her to do. This led to more work to prepare for her second child to releasee the trauma from her first birth as well as going on a deeper journey of healing.   One significant result was that Gulara was able to speak up for herself  and her choices in her second birth e.g. no induction and eventually chose home birth.  Despite this changing to an emergency c- section Gulara experienced this birth in a totally different and positive way, being well cared for throughout  which was a huge turnaround just in itself.

5.25 How to choose from the plethora of tools? Gulara says trust your gut. Set an intention to find the tool that works for you. Sometimes it’s the tool you already know the best. Sometimes it’s new. Find something easy and simple. Gulara used tools that could excavate patterns that were set in the womb or before conscious memory.  The openness of transition to motherhood brings up many unresolved traumas and Gulara encourages you to go deeper to clear this.

7.10  Some memories that are blocking you may not be seen as trauma by the adult you but were experienced as such to you as a child. Whatever has affected you and set a pattern down can be looked at.  Trauma doesn’t have to be traumatic such as a pattern of not standing up to authority was a pattern Gulara developed in  childhood that played out in her first birth and took some unpicking before she could speak up and ask for what she wanted in her second birth.

8.24  Gulara’s three top tools. Firstly, there is no ultimate one top tool for everyone.  The one you find that works for you is the right one.

1 The Journey™ This is a process of uncovering buried memories that you are holding in your body that are creating imbalance or illness.  You clear the emotional charge from your system so the world changes how it responds to you.  For example, If you are holding anger under the surface,  a doctor may respond to that anger inside you even if it is not expressed. Clear it and reconnect with the same consultant and you will notice a difference as there is not the charge to react to.   Also described as a forgiveness-based mindfulness technique- a description of the process you undertake during ‘A Journey’ 

12.29 Tip: Take enough time in advance to invest in clearing work also so you can enjoy the pregnancy. 

14.07 Tool 2. The Compassion Key® – a new technique with ancient origins.  ‘Simply magic,’ this tool works to clear imprints and patterning from your system.  You can as with The Journey , take your existing condition and clear right back to the root cause.  It is highly flexible in its application including switching between timelines and your life can transform in ways that you couldn’t even imagine.  We love tools that are deceptively simple with immense healing properties.  Using the vibration of compassion energy to dissolve imprints is simple and powerful.

18.11  3.The NPA Process ( Non Personal Awareness)   This tool turns healing on its head as you don’t always need to uncover the memory yet it will also clear the root cause. It is a 6 line spoken word process that stops you taking things personally. Gulara’s describes how when we have stuck energy in our mind or body and we tune into that energy and find a word or label to describe that which we run through the process and it unravels it beautifully.  Absolutely magical tool she uses pretty much every day. Can be subtle and you don’t even realise how much you have changed over time as it can take 30 seconds then you show up differently.

20.29  A Prayer for everyone to be able to access this power of shifts so quickly.

NPA you can do any time anywhere. A tool that is with you in a critical moment such as in birth situation if you were panicking you could take the panic through the 6 line process and shift it. ( Here is a blog where I talk about doing exactly that as I shift my fear of not coping with the pain in just seconds)

A great tool that I would love Doulas and midwives to have and be able to support birthing women and this is part of Charlotte’s vision for the future.

22.10  Suggestions to a woman becoming a mother. Clear your imprints and do as much clearing as you can while pregnant, it will pay off.  When Gulara is balanced and well in herself everyone in her family benefits as well as her.  She notices her second child was much calmer as a baby and part of this is that she was in a much calmer place during the pregnancy. Before During and After! There is not an end it is a journey and it is worth doing.

23.43  Digging into these imprints and pain will not harm the baby as they are already there and so when you become free you set them free too. They are in your energy field so they carry what you hold in your body.  They often take this on and by clearing it you are not passing it on.  It will serve you and you will feel more resourced to look after your baby which is a big journey already and also it will serve your baby.

24.55  Gulara finds everything awe inspiring about birth.  You have no idea until you have a baby how much it changes you.  It is a beautiful journey.  Her son was her messenger of love, arriving on Valentines day. This was not an external love but an invitation to love herself to become a better mother and this was a big gift.

26.58  Gulara absorbed the patterns from her childhood about giving too much to be a good mother and then she has been learning to receive and putting boundaries for ‘me time’ that recharges her and this has become an important part of being a mother.

27.53  What breaks Gulara’s heart is the way women are treated as she was in the hospital where her body and her autonomy was undermined.    The casual language that is used is upsetting for example classing Gulara as ‘not normal.’

30.10  In contrast, Gulara’s home birth team was wonderful. A team of cheerleaders ( The Birmingham Women'sand children's home birth team)

32.01  Takeaway Number One: This is self-care. Not just a one off massage, though this is lovely but also how do you talk to yourself and treat yourself. If you notice something is a bit off don’t just say never mind this is just little, pay attention to how you treat yourself and particularly when it is hard or you are triggered.  Be supported to overcome these patterns when you notice them.  Make the self-care not just one off. Continuous support is so much more beneficial.  Gulara didn’t want to leave a stone unturned after her first birth as she saw how much her internal patterning and programming was playing out in the birth experience and this is what made the difference in the second experience of pregnancy and birth.   Her second baby also fed better, slept better, it was much more easeful and joyful and she thinks this is in part from the work she did on herself.

34.51  Offering hope to women who have had a poor birth experience. It is never too late to work on an experience. If a pattern shows up in birth, chances are it has been there a long time and will be showing up else where and the root is often in your own childhood and so the clearing work is always beneficial as it will be impacting in other areas of your life that are ongoing. It will also change how you feel about the birth that you already had.  When you release in one area, other areas of your life improve too.  Coming to peace with what happened is important.

There is no destination, it is a process of growing and we reach limits of each layer of growth and then reach further. I move faster and with more ease when I release what is holding me back.

Joel Young, the founder of NPA talks of this as growing like a tree with its rings and it is always still a tree as it grows through its formed and these tools make the process of growing more enjoyable

38.04  Finally, this journey is fun! And fascinating. Gulara remembers feeling skinned alive and raw from more traditional therapies where she had opened up something but not felt so much resolution from this.  With the tools discussed here she knows that when she opens up something she feels healed afterwards not that she has just rehashed the old events, she has found some peace and resolution.

40.09  Thank you  for paving this way for me as Gulara tells of her being my private client and says “Charlotte has been a tremendous support and that I have grown and then wanted to help others and you are a source of inspiration and your skills are magic and highly recommended and Charlotte changed my life.”

Links to the Tools and Resources mentioned:

The NPA Process ( Non Personal Awareness), a simple 6 line process that moves you from stuck to flow created by Joel Young.
Access a sheet to download and have a go yourself

The Compassion Key® created by Edward Mannix.  Find a list of practitioners here  ( Note Charlotte combines all three of these tools and you can book direct from this website here)

The Journey™  created by Brandon Bays after recovering from a basketball sized tumour.  Click here to download a free e-book with her story and the process inside. 

Gulara Vincent, PhD, is a healer and writer, who helps women to heal from sexual trauma. In her 1:1 sessions, she truly listens to her client’s stories and lovingly helps them script a new path – one paved with deep healing and empowerment. Her natural warmth and compassion creates a safe space for women to express long-held feelings of unworthiness and negativity. Gulara's work aims to dissolve these limiting beliefs and inspire a life lived with freedom, ease and grace. Here's how you can connect with her:

Hypnobirthing for a confident birth: Interview with Heidi Danaher

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)

Natal Hypnotherapy

Katharine Graves

Positive Birth Downloads

Some books - often these have an accompanying cd or download:

Reflexology in pregnancy: Interview with Arty Thukral from Amarisa Well Woman

Arty Thukral is passionate about supporting women to restore balance and optimal health using a variety of tools including Reflexology, Bach Flower Remedies and Matrix Reimprinting.  In this interview Arty discusses how these tools can help you throughout your journey as a mother including through loss and fertility journey as well as birth.


Arty starts with an over view of what is Reflexology revealing its origins in Ancient Egypt . The technique is based on the theory that body parts are maps that are mirrored throughout the body ad  particularly the face, hands, ears and feet.  These points and knowledge were used as local anaesthetic before anaesthetic was created

2.33 Quick nod to the legalities of what benefits you can claim – Stress reduction. Of course  so many ailments can be linked back to stress.  And beyond the legalities there are more benefits and wider applications than stress management including treating miscarriage and induction. 

4.20 We discuss briefly that baby comes when baby is ready so help during pregnancy to assist baby to come is help with alignment to come when ready.

5.24 Arty shows us some reflexology points including the ovaries near the ankles, and points to help in labour and with common ailments such as back pain.

7.10 Reflexology is safe and natural so does not cause miscarriage and is not contra indicated  in pregnancy during the first  trimester and  may help chances of embryo sticking. All reflexology helps you as mother to tune in and nurture baby.

Cause and correlation with miscarriage and similarties of massage that you can support a miscarriage and it will not cause it.

9.22  The respect and honour for the feet to be touched a historical factor and honouring aspect of the treatment.  Also some of the power is in receiving the love and attention of a caring practitioner.  this non juegmental support and love is very important in areas where there is stigma like miscarriage. 

10.37 We talk a little of silent miscarriage where the baby dies but stays inside the body   Arty uses her tools to support you to get back in touch with your body and facilitate the willingness to let go through.

13.01 The importance of a good bond with the practitioner you choose  Someone who listens and can be supportive through challenges.  For support with miscarriage contact: The Miscarriage Association

16.30 On bonding-  and being with a woman through journey from conception to birth and beyond and the child has already bonded with her.

17.07  Arty shares some self help tips with  pressure on the souls of feet and the pelvic bowl hold - for stability.  Arty suggests that setting the time aside is most important and don’t worry about techniques, just touch with awareness.  By holding the feet you will help her to  feel held and supported throughout her body

19.46 Arty loves how the mother is ttwo in one and she loves the silent connection with baby through the mothers feet letting them know they are safe and supporting their first impression of the world. It is so rewarding as you feel you are making a difference to the future. Contributing to positive birth is so important as birth makes such a big impact on your life

21.30 Arty feels there are mutual benefits in giving and  you are giving for two so its extra!

24.26 We talk about being both part of the physical world and part of someething more than this too. Plus the importance of choosing your practitioner and changing if they are not a good fit as establishing a relationship is so important.

25.50 Make sure you are choosing the best for you with discernment. Compare your attitude to shopping at the supermarket and making sure you get the right product and treatment with the attitude of doctor knows best.  Arty likes to empower women over and above the treatment to have the  inner strength to trust their own feelings. Question and ask for alternatives if not sure. Have ability to ask because one thing is sure if you don’t ask  you wont get what you want.

28.45 Arty is in awe of birth itself, and in awe of women bringing new life and being still in that moment and to experience it.  Holding baby after tuning in.   She advises to trust your baby knows when is the best time to come and how to come. This is all about learning to allow as a woman.

31. All birth shapes how you are and all births are births- breech caesarean . all are births.

32.05 All about Bach Flower Remedies.  There are  38 flowers relating to emotional states. These are safe in pregnancy and labour and even for baby. They can be used alongside allopathic medicine and are very subtle yet powerful.  Rescue remedy is commonly known and as practitioner Arty can listen to your needs and recommend and make tailor made blends.

34.45 How healing is like peeling an onion, digging through the emotional layers which gives you an opportunity for you to realise yourself and deeper feelings and how the flowers promote a  connection with the natural world and bringing us into alignment with that natural cycle in its slower speed. Which is super useful all the time and especally in pregnancy.

37  All about Matrix  Reimprinting and EFT tapping where you tap along the meridian points/  The Matrix reimprinting works as you traceback to your younger self who has left echos in you and then you tap to recreate a new memory and neural pathway to reimprint beliefs. Similar to the layers on an onion.

41.58 Arty would like to  encourage self awareness and knowledge of your  inner world.  Tune in to yourself and knowing what you and your baby wants and then going to get what you want out of resources and being strong to stand up for what you believe in. Arty suggests to do more yoga ( or other practice) and self awareness to empower you to support the changes that need to happen.

44 The importance of breathing.   Breathing is life and can help you tune in with baby.   Arty advocates using natural methods to support you through your birth whatever the method.   ( You may like to read a 5 Simple ways to relax using your breath)

Arty calls for us all to get out of any victim mentality we notice sticking to us and calls  for all women to find our strength as we are strong.

49  Enjoy.This is the final suggestion that Arty wishes  you to takeaway. 

Try journaling, take the time out and  use yourself as a guide/ Take  time with you to bond with baby, you are so close toyour baby physically at this time so take and make the time.   Baby listens and this shapes the baby. 

Whatever you can make sure you enjoy this time.

Arty is passionate about supporting you on your journey to discover about yourself and to restore optimum balance and health through her modalities of Reflexology, Bach Flowrer Remedies, EFT, Matrix Reimprinting, Aromatherapy, Fertility Massage and more! Connect with her

Creating support and community with Pregancy Yoga: Interview with Mandy Rees from Blossom Yoga and Wellbeing

From Real Estate Lawyer to Pregnancy Yoga Teacher, Mandy Rees changed her career to create the family life balance she needed as a mother of two daughters and to fulfill her passion to support new mums. Today she talks about why her work lights her up and helps instil confidence in mums.


Mandy's passion to help every woman have the  birth she wants and to ease the transition to becoming a mother grew from the gap in support she experienced as she journeyd through PND after the birth of her own daughters now  16 and 12.   She left her career as a lawyer and trained as a yoga teacher and now runs pregnancy and postnatal classes.

3.44 Mandy explains what  pregnancy yoga is and how her classes are structured.  There is inclusivity as every type of birth is as valid as another and the relaxation time after is an important and integral part of the sessions.  The time after the session really builds confidence and community in a safe space in which anything can be shared. 

6.50 Explaining why this is so much more than an exercise class - the importance of safety and switching off which gives a different quality of rest.

8.40 Mandy describes the journey she sees people go on in her classes as they drop preconceived ideas and relax over time.  She sees women grow in trust and make different choices such as to choose a home birth or other avenues that they didn’t think possible at first as they lose the fear element and learn to trust.

10.38 Mandy describes how women sharing together in the classes supports women on a journey that changes fear to empowerment and feeling prepared.

12.12  Building ta ribe and a community and how this benefits women

13.42 The importance of asking more questions. Why your partner also needs to know and understand what you want and the reason why it is useful to make them your mouthpiece. Believing you can do it is key.

15.16 sBuilding confidence to choose what is important to you . this is your birth not one off TV.  the importance of learning to say no when moving through an outdated and under pressure system. ( If you have trouble saying no or need to negotiate your birth plan you may also like this blog with tools and tips for getting the information you need to make your choice.)

17 It is helpful to understand what i happening to you- Often trauma is because they didn’t understand why such a procedure happened or date.

20 Postnatal yoga starts when you are ready. there is no rush. The classses a check in and a space to be held so women can  step out of class feeling lighter and can practice it at home too. Breathing techniques are invauable skills to take into life as a mum.

22.50  More about how yoga is not just exercise and Mandy's mantra 'Less now.'  Mandy also discusses how the classes support you to grow and value intuition saying that 'away from mr google you know the answers'
The babies also go through a journey in the class and relax as the mums do.  

25.28 How to find a pregnancy yoga class and how to choose the right class and teacher for you. 

27 Finding your cave woman instinct so you can birth anywhere

28 For the women who don't feel like that there is a need for support postnatally to hea.l System doesn’t allow everyone to find that instinct so they don’t think it is in them when it is just hidden.  There is the possibility to heal and find it even if have experienced trauma. 

29  You don’t have to suffer.  If you have experienced trauma and are suffering take a step today to find support.   Find someone who can realise how strong you were to go through that so can acknowledge that and own that.

32 What mandy learnt on her own journey as a mother- She didn’t go to classes and get support and went back to work  when her daughter was  4  4 months old. She lost connection with her prebaby life and did not get enough help and it was awful for a long time and this has fueled her passin for making sure women get enough support.

34 The shifting identity  in a culture  where aging and mother hood are not valued  means we can struggle to navigate so many changes to our body and being.   Having women around gives you many of the important aspects of what you need and you no longer feel alone and isolated which helps you to   cope. Mandy shares the message that it is ok to be where you are and it gets easier.

38 When just getting out of the house is a big win. Please come as you are, no need to act.

38.50 Learning confidence.  Ask how can I be in a better feeling place and then let the answers come. Your plans have to be what feels right for you. Plan for how you want to feel. Transfer what matters to you to any birth situation. And don’t make your expectations low. Make sure birth is going with your flow even if it changes from your original plan.  Women deserve to feel cherished and honoured. Learn to expect that.

42 Ask for it to be delivered just like pizza. Now is not the time to be a shrinking violet, ask for what you want and need. It is Ok to be anxious, dip your toe into pools until you find one right for you. So many empowering women in birth so go looking.

44- Check out your local area for what is available.  If you don't feel confident for a class ask about 121and  take little steps.

45 Takeaway - there are so many people out there to hold your hand you may need to seraach but  they are out there, go and find them! We would love to support you.

You can find out current classes with Mandy via her website: Blossom Yoga and  Wellbeing and jjoin in her community on her facebook page here.

Seren’s Birth Story: A healing and heart warming VBAC Story

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.

If you liked this story you may enjoy the Birth Story of Jasmin, written by Gulara Vincent here

Try out the NPA Process for free here and find out about a rare opportunity to use and learn the tool live with the founder in Birmingham June 8/9th here

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