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:
One of the questions I commonly get asked is, "What do I do when things aren’t going to plan? Is there anything I can do really?"
It’s a challenging question right?
Usually well meaning people try to reassure us with instructions to relax and stop worrying, like it is that easy. "Don’t worry," say our worried partners, in an attempt to console both of us. "Just relax, you are doing great."
Does this work? Do we instantly relax and stop worrying in the face of problems just because someone who cares about us tells us to?
Of course not. Certainly not when that person is worried too. Sometimes we even erupt in anger right back at them, our fear and frustration spilling over in desperation.
Sometimes, if the person reassuring us is truly embodying a truth that all is well, then that will be transmitted to you and you will feel calmer. More often it is the fear that is catching.
In this post I would like to share with you two positive stories that illustrate this and point to a better way of initiating that relaxation and letting go than the direct instruction to do what you really would already be doing if you could!
“Don’t worry,” my grandad said to me with his slow gentle energy. He sighed and paused. “You will worry of course, but you don’t need to.”
I continued sitting with my grandad in silence, just breathing. Feeling emotions run through me. I had chosen to be the one to tell him of our bad news, the serious illness in another family member. I hadn’t expected him to be so calm. He was like a strong tree in a storm.
Oh the wisdom of our elders, so often overlooked. Having lived through way more than I, including a World War, he was more comfortable with shock news. He knew he couldn’t take my worry away. He didn’t even try. Yet I could feel his love and caring in the silence. I was reassured by his calm presence as I am when I sit under a tree in the woods and the energy under his words pierced through my bubble of worry. His honest assessment that neither he nor I could prevent me worrying gave me permission to be where I was and let the feelings flow.
We sat in silence a little while more just breathing together. His slower pace influenced me and I slowed and softened myself.
There was something timeless and healing in just breathing. Taking space together. Letting the space heal. So powerful. So useful. So often neglected in the rush and panic of the pain.
“Just breathe,” he smiled to an appreciate audience who let out a wave of laughter in recognition. I could feel the whole room relax as they followed his instructions. In seconds the energy of the room had shifted from a higher, nervous energy to a softer more expansive feel. And he invited us to feel the changes quite literally by waving our hands in the air in front of us to sense the environment. Before we applied focus to our breath we had all been unconsciously held in the sway of our thoughts, and the habitual busy energy we often reside in. He didn’t change our state by teaching us some complicated breathing process that would take years to master. He led me swiftly to a peaceful place quite simply with a little focus, an engaging down to earth manner and plenty of humour.
The first is a negative instruction and the brain will happily imagine the worry, then work out how to cancel it. Too late! Your super-fast nervous system and subconscious has already responded to the first part and you are having to work harder to get back to relaxation. It also just tells you to stop something but doesn’t give a clear instruction of what else to do instead. When we are fearful and panicked we don’t have full access to time and reasoned thought. We need simple clear instructions we can get behind that will lead us through to a better space. Just breathe fits that bill.
Of course breathing is something that gets talked about a lot when you are preparing to give birth. Lots of different breathing exercises are taught, all with the aim of supporting you to relax. (Re)learning to relax is an invaluable tool to enjoy your pregnancy, support the optimal development of your baby and help you labour with ease. In my next post I will go into more detail as to why breathing is so effective and share some suggestions of techniques you can use.
Today I wish to keep it simple and leave you with three points I learnt from my grandfather and Jason Chan.
This last one is key. Learning and practicing techniques is empowering and useful. If in the moment you can’t remember a thing and your mind is blank with panic, just come back to your breath and start there. Focus on your breath and then make the out breath longer. Nothing fancy, just bring yourself back to your body and your breath and keep breathing. Let the breath do the work.
I invite you to try this now. Imagine a scenario in which you are usually worried. Perhaps you usually tell yourself not to worry? Instead invite yourself to breathe. Spend a few moments breathing and reflecting on how you are today. Then take a moment to let me know how you found it. I would love to hear.
P.S. If you enjoyed this then try it out with your loved ones too. Next time someone close to you comes to you with a problem, replace 'don't worry' with 'just breathe' and spend some time sitting and breathing together and see what happens.
In my last post at the beginning of 2016 I created a gift for you; a guided visualisation to support you to replenish your energy in a sustainable way and to remain strong and centred in your own energy field. ( If you haven’t listened yet then I recommend you hop over and check it out, it's just ten minutes long and several people have told me how much they enjoyed it) This post illustrates the benefits of repetition and regular listening and demonstrates how long lasting the positive effects can be.
As I write, January is drawing to a close already and the New year is not so new any more. This is the typical time when New Year’s resolutions fall away, old habits creep back in and before you know it you’ve abandoned your new routine and slipped back into a default pattern. Repetition is powerful and eventually creates deep grooves that are easy to maintain. It can be easy to fall by the wayside though as you struggle to maintain a new pattern. In this post I wish to inspire and encourage you to keep going by sharing a story that illustrates the power of repetition and the rewards of putting the effort in now. My break through came at a point when I was heavily pregnant with my second son and panicking over the possibility of losing my desired birth experience to medical issues.
When I was pregnant with my first I found the energy of being pregnant a little like New Year. Knowing I had another soul to care for who was totally dependent on me galvanised me into action, to improve my diet, exercise, meditate. I felt like I had a fresh new start and second chance to start over where I had fallen behind on my resolutions and good intentions.
I threw myself into hypnobirthing CDs and downloads and Pregnancy Yoga DVD’s. I would have gone to classes but I couldn't find any that worked with my schedule. Instead I made a 2 hour playlist of hypnobirthing, guided visualisations and healing chants. I played it every night, sometimes on repeat at a very low volume. Whenever I felt nervous or worried I would play one of my CDs, do some Yoga Nidra or go out for a walk. I always felt better afterwards. In addition to this I did plenty of inner work on any issues that came up.
Sometimes I thought I may be going a bit overboard, but I kept going.
I felt an inner pull, a strong soul urge towards the deep inner work and whatever could support me in birthing at home the way I dreamed. By the time I came to give birth I was excited and confident even though I was nervous at the grand adventure and newness of welcoming my baby to earth.
All my efforts paid off and I had a wonderful home water birth which I have written a little about here.
I was preparing to welcome my second. Throughout the pregnancy I kept up with the inner work with 1:1 processes and the yoga practice, but I let the additional ongoing regular support that the hypnobirthing cds had offered me slide. I kept meaning to set up a playlist and listen and then forgetting. Life was busy with a toddler and I eventually forgot completely.
Then one day I had a high blood pressure reading at my midwife appointment. She tried again, it was worse. A third time even worse, which was no surprise as I was panicking and so, apologetically, she sent me in to the hospital be checked. Over the next few days I was checked, including on a 24 hour blood pressure cuff that activates every 30 minutes. This revealed what I instinctively felt. At home my blood pressure was fine, on testing and at hospital it rose. All other tests were clear. I was given the all clear to carry on with my plans
The thing was the whole incident had left me in a state of panic that I couldn't quite shift. I felt the fear as pressure in my head and then would worry that maybe although the last reading was OK , perhaps now it had gone up again and something was wrong. What if, what if, what if…. I talked myself down. I went for a walk. The fear and panic remained hovering on the edges of my consciousness and I couldn't relax. My BP readings were all over the place as I tried to calm myself.
I went to stay with my parents to try and relax.
At my parents I suddenly had a flash of inspiration. One of those that feels like the whispers of Angels directly into my heart. One where I know even before I act on the impulse that here is the answer. One where I just know… I got out my favourite track from my first pregnancy Fear release: flying high, settled back and pressed play.
Even though I had been following such a strong impulse I was still taken aback by what happened. With the first few notes of music and opening lines I dropped straight into a deep relaxation. The whole burden of worry just slipped right off me. I was transported back to the days before my first son’s birth and the joy of his actual birth experience too.
Like a direct download into my cells, into the space created by the deep relaxation I knew everything was OK and would be OK. The pressure that was pounding the inside of my head faded away. I was touched deeply by the activation of such a strong body memory and the strength of it carried me for my final few weeks. I was also motivated to finally make a playlist again and take the little actions I had been putting off.
When the time came I once again gave birth at home, this time on land and you can read more about that here.
This incident brought a few wise truths home to me.
1. The power of repetition. Everyone says it right? You do a hypnobirthing class or any other class for that matter and that starts you off, but it's the continued work you do at home that really makes the difference. In my case the association was so strong that three years later it still had the power in a matter of seconds, to completely shift my state of being from fear and worry to relief, confidence and joy.
2. It is never too late to make a start or to change your perspective. All of this happened in the last couple of weeks of my pregnancy.
3. The universe is friendly and wants you to succeed no matter what it looks or feels like to you now. There are answers waiting to find you and they are often simple and under your nose.
4. Even though simple they still need to be actioned to work. The hardest part may be getting started. Or it may be starting over when you fall off the wagon. But every day, every moment you get a second chance. Nothing is lost, nothing is wasted.
5. No matter how busy I was there was always time and it was easier than I thought to start again and incorporate the CDs back into my life. Even with a toddler and a business I found some time, I just needed to get creative. In bed before I awoke and my favourite, on low on repeat at sleep time. Sometimes I would listen to one at normal volume then when I felt sleepy turn the volume right down so I could barely hear it. I knew that this would not disturb my sleep but my subconscious would still be able to hear and it would work its magic as I slept.
Still now I sometimes listen to the track and it helps me. I also created my own fear release track to support my clients and readers to move from fear to confidence. ( If you haven't listened to it yet and are interested then go here to access both this and the New Year's Gift Guided Visualisation in one go.) I hope you enjoyed this post and are inspired to listen to something that uplifts and supports you.
Below are links to the tracks I listened to in pregnancy and other resources I mention in the post. (This is not an exhaustive list, just what I used but are a good place to start.)
I would love to hear from you. How do you keep on track and keep your momentum going? What success stories would you like to share?
Fear Release Flying High, the track that caused my dramatic shift is available from their Positive Birth Website When I was pregnant there was just a beautiful selection of tracks. These are still available individually or in packs and they have added a whole hypnobirthing package.
Natal hypnotherapy provides a comprehensive range of hypnobirthing, relaxing and fear release materials that I really enjoyed.
This was my favourite Yoga DVD with three routines for Beginner, Intermediate and advanced ( or early through to late pregnancy depending how you felt)
Beautiful voice and chanting specific chants to help you through difficulties including one that is said to support the coming in of high vibration children.
Most suitable for those who have some experience of Yoga. Perfect to connect with your partner or birth partner and a wonderful Yoga Nidra track for deep relaxation too.
I share my personal story to inspire and encourage you to follow your dreams and desires. I do not guarantee any particular results from listening to these CDs ( though I do recommend them, hypnobirthing in general and inner work to clear out what may be blocking you.) And, It is obvious I know but hypnobirthing CDs are not a substitute for medical support and should you have any concerns about you or your baby’s well being please contact your midwife or care provider.
In the relative calm of these last few days of the year after the whirlwind of Christmas I am reflective. The New Year is nearly here. I can feel the freshness approaching and I want to offer myself and you a gift to mark the beginning of the approaching fresh new adventures. Something both beautiful and useful. Something quick and simple that is easy to fit into a busy life.
2015 was a year of growth and challenges. Of breaking through my comfort zone over and over. I was glad of my self care routine and guided visualisations even if I had to press reset several times when my practice slipped. As a busy mother of young children I am always glad of ways to increase my energy levels.
With that aim, I have created a short ( 10 minute) guided visualisation that will help replenish your energy levels and support you in maintaining healthy boundaries. Click below to download an audio recording or keep reading for how to instructions to do by yourself.
This gift was inspired by a chat with a fellow birthworker who described how she sometimes felt drained after spending time with a client who needed a lot of support. She so wanted to help her and make a difference but found herself being pulled into the situation, her energy sapped until she had nothing left to give.
I related as I also, despite the many tools I have at my disposal sometimes forget and find myself overwhelmed with extreme fatigue due to lack of sleep and lack of self care. It’s usually my children who trigger this pattern. This guided visualisation is also my gift to myself to mark my commitment to build on my own self care routine, looking after myself with the same attention and dedication I show my children until it becomes automatic.
It’s a common scenario, not just for birth workers but for all of us. We care so much for the loved ones in our lives, we do our best to give everything of ourselves and we forget to offer the same level of dedicated care and nurturing to ourselves.
Holiday periods such as Christmas can amplify this kind of tendency to give and give until we drop. It tends to highlight any holes in your self care as many people gather together.
Pregnancy is another potential straw for the camel's back if you have any gaps in healthy boundaries and self care routine.
As someone who is very sensitive to the energy of others already when I was pregnant my heightened awareness of mood and atmosphere was particularly strong and I needed to make a regular practice of clearing my energy field, grounding to a more solid Earth energy and honouring how I was feeling and the job I was doing to bring my children to the world.
I still need to do this and as I said I sometimes forget, or use the endless to do lists in an every shrinking window of time as an excuse to put it off. But although as a mother of young children I can no longer dedicate long hours in a single block of time for meditation and quiet time as often as I would like I am no longer willing to use this as an excuse for no self care at all.
Guided visualisations are one of my favourite tools to help me to remain centred, grounded and calm whilst being engaged with people, sometimes in busy, noisy environments that bombard my senses. Remaining calm and centred when all around you is chaos or there are multiple demands on your time and energy is a great skill to cultivate for everyone.
This guided visualisation will help you to align yourself with the Mothering Energy of the Earth and the Universal Life Force Energy. With practice you will be able to access this in an instant and shift your mindset and subsequently your energy levels very quickly. It is particularly beneficial whilst pregnant to maintain a stable stress free environment for your growing baby. I use this quided visualisation before any healing session or when I will be in a situation with a lot of people or other challenging situation. It will support you to give your all without being depleted.
Summary of benefits:
1. Just before you open the door to see your client, or welcome your family or whatever your situation is Pause and take a couple of breaths in and out.
Little pauses in your day like this create big space over time. If you have forgotten and you are already half way through your meeting and feeling drained, start with a pause right now, its never too late.
2. Feel your feet on the ground. You may like to stamp them gently or wriggle your toes. Sense how they connect you to the Earth and imagine golden tendrils spiralling from the base of your feet deep into the earth. Imagine they connect with the very heart of the Earth herself.
3. Feel the energy flow up from the heart of the earth in through the soles of your feel, up your legs and through your body. Feel the motherly quality of this energy. Feel the gentle soothing love and big heart of the Earth energy swirling and moving up right through your body and filling you up.
4. Let it burst out from the crown of your head in a shower of golden energy that sparkles down all around you, hitting the earth around you in a perfect circle and being absorbed back into the earth.
5. Allow this golden earth energy to be a protective shimmering energy field around you that protects your energy. Simultaneously the flow of energy from the earth stabilises and grounds you and re energises the parts of you that have been drained.
6. The golden shower around you is sparkly and shimmering like thousands of little mirrors.These help to mirror any negative draining energy back away from you conserving your energy. They also shine and radiate their own light and golden energy so that simply by being in your presence the other person is eased and soothed.
7. Now as you continue with your activity let this energy carry you. The care and love you offer is no longer solely your own energy. You are not depleting yourself to care for another. You are able to move and dance with this energy and let the natural flow of the Mother Earth energy move through you.You are not giving only of your personal love and energy ending up depleted and drained. Instead you are allowing the infinite power of love to move through you, replenishing you and the other in a more effortless and sustainable way.
So now it's over to you. Click below to download an audio version or just close your eyes and have a go.
I love to hear from you, Did you enjoy this and find this helpful?
What are your favourite practices to maintain your energy in challenging situations?