- Relaxation Techniques for an Expectant Mother
In this episode, we welcome Emily Bull founder of Babies in Waiting, Emily talks all about relaxation techniques for expectant mothers. Emily talks about what hypnobirthing is, when you should start hypnobirthing and antenatal classes, ditching negative thoughts around pregnancy, the impact stress can have on babies, tips on relaxation during pregnancy, birth preparation, the birth plan, c-sections and hypnobirthing and viewing birth positively.
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Carla: [00:00:00] hello and welcome to My Bump 2 Baby Expert podcast, where we bring experts from all over the UK to answer your questions on everything, pregnancy to preschool.
[00:00:28] Today we are speaking to the lovely Emily Bull from babies and waiting today. Emily’s going to be sharing with us relaxation techniques for expectant parents. I hope you enjoy it.
[00:00:50] Hello and welcome to My Bump 2 Baby expert podcast. Today I am excited to be speaking to one of the founders, Babies in Waiting, and the person I’m going to be speaking. She today she’s called Emily Mills. Hi, Emily.
[00:01:07] Emily: Hello. How are you?
[00:01:08] Carla: I’m very well, thank you. How are you?
[00:01:11] Emily: Good. Thanks you very much. Very excited to speak to you.
[00:01:13] Carla: Oh, I’m so excited to have your here, we’re going to be talking about relaxation techniques for expectant mothers and Emily, obviously with your background and your fabulous franchise, hopefully you’ll be able to answer some questions that a lot of parents have.
[00:01:30] Emily: Love it.
[00:01:31] Carla: Okay. So, um, so Emily, when should I start hypnobirthing antenatal classes?
[00:01:39] Emily: Okay. So we get this question quite a lot, actually. And it’s a really important one from our point of view. Really, it would be great to start from about 20 weeks pregnant. That’s really the optimum time. So really after your second scan, um, that just gives you plenty of time to practice the techniques, looking at it from a mindset point of view. The subconscious needs reconditioning. So that subconscious part of your mind has sometimes got conditioning in it. This is based on what we’ve learned about birth from other people’s horror stories, you know, so things that people have shared with you that perhaps weren’t so great about birth or things that you’ve seen on TV to do with soap operas, you know, Eastenders or even dodgy science videos that you’ve watched school, which were sort of telling a young impressionable teenage mind, you know, this is labor and sometimes it’s quite graphic and there can be quite scary. Scary things that are within your subconscious. So to start early, to start around 20 weeks pregnant, you’ve then got the opportunity to ditch all of the negative stuff, stuff that you’ve read in magazines that perhaps have been a bit worrying. Uh, any friends, horror stories. You can remove that all from the inner part of your mind, and really start to think about retraining.
[00:02:55] Your subconscious starts to think about, you know, positivity, confidence, and calm and really plan for the birth experience that you want, you know, not somebody else’s take on it. Um, and that, you know, that takes time. It takes time to retrain the mind and retrain and release years of different negative thinking.
[00:03:15] Uh, so our course in particular is a four week course. So if you kind of are able to sort of start at that optimum time of about 20 weeks. You’ve then got the four weeks of the course. And then we kind of keep your tops up with positivity with our weekly pregnancy relaxation sessions, which another add on really that many of our mummies like to do.
[00:03:36] But having said that, you know, having said the optimal times 20 weeks, I don’t want anyone to feel that, Oh no, I’ve left it too late because that’s the other concern, you know? We’ve had people come to us much later in their pregnancy. Um, and we would much rather them do the course, than not do the course and go into labor worrying or thinking about a scene from, you know, from it’s a soap opera that’s playing on their head. That could be re-triggered when it comes to their, their labor experience. So. You know, it’s a four week course. So if you’re 36 weeks, I’d rather you squeeze in the squeeze in the course, or if you’re even further than that, perhaps you can just do a few, a couple of relaxation sessions just to get your head in the right place. Um, it’s really key that a pregnant woman goes into her labor experience, feeling calm and positive and empowered. Um, so yeah, so starting as early as you possibly can, would be ideal, but it’s never too late to pick up some tips.
[00:04:34] Carla: No, that’s fantastic. That’s really useful. Um, so, so, okay. With hypnobirthing then, can you explain a bit more about what hypnobirthing is for those that don’t know?
[00:04:47] Emily: Yeah. I mean, there’s lots of different variations, really of hypnobirthing. Our particular course, babies in waiting course, we’ve very much focused on the fact that the mind is a driving force, that the mind controls what happens in the body and that a woman needs to ditch any fear because fear creates tension in the body which can create pain.
[00:05:11] So there’s a fear tension pain cycle that actually if we are able to remove any fear, the body knows how to birth. The muscles are designed for it. We’ve got all of nature’s gifts, the birthing hormones, such as oxytocin, which is the love hormone and endorphins. Those feel good hormones. You know, your body knows what it’s doing, but sometimes the mind can play tricks and can kind of like take it down a negative path when it really doesn’t have to be that way.
[00:05:41] So if you get your mind on board and there is no tension in the body, therefore it can actually be quite a comfortable experience. Um, lots of people think, of course, you’re crazy saying that, but from personal experience, I’ve had four babies all born at home. Um, all calm, using hypnobirthing and really amazing, lovely experiences. So I speak from the heart about this. I feel very passionate about ensuring people that it’s not a scary experience. It can be as really beautiful experience. You know, my heaviest son was my third. He was 10 pounds, 12.
[00:06:13] Carla: Wow.
[00:06:14] Emily: And he was born at home without any pain relief without any intervention, a really lovely calm birth.
[00:06:21] Um, You know, my first was 10 pounds 6. Not that weight’s got anything to do with it, really, but I’m just trying to use that as an example, to show that, you know, your body has got this, it is designed to give birth. It is, you know, it’s the mind that can cause fear. When we’ve got fear. in our head space, we revert back to the flight or fright response where our body gets filled with adrenaline and catecholamines the stresser hormones, which is designed to allow us to run really fast or lift something really heavy, um, you know, or freeze. And what happens when that occurs in labor is a woman perceives a threat, her body gets filled with all of those sort of stresser of hormones, because she feels like she’s going to have to try and save her life.
[00:07:08] And the oxygenated blood comes away from the uterine muscles. So the baby’s trying to be born, but it’s coming down to a resistant fibre. Those uterine muscles simply aren’t oxygenated because all of the oxygenated blood as rushed to the heart, to the arms and legs, to where the mind perceives that it’s more needed. Because it feels like it’s under threat when actually a threat in labor could feel like, um, a, a stranger coming in, a loud noise, a bright lights, a feeling of being not respected, all of these kinds of things, um, which could leave a woman feeling, you know, kind of uncomfortable and tension in her body.
[00:07:52] Uh, so we’re all about dealing with the mind, teaching a woman, what to expect from birth, prepping her birth partner. So they really know how to support, getting them to think carefully about the place of birth. You know, how they might feel in a particular environment. And making sure they write a birth plan and practice breathing techniques, visualisation, relaxation, and deepening techniques. So she’s really fully equipped to have the experience that she really wants. So, um, yeah.
[00:08:26] Carla: That’s really interesting. All of that. Um, so back to when people are pregnant, when ladies are pregnant. Can babies be affected by stress or not?
[00:08:40] Emily: Yeah. I mean, they can because I mean you know, stress is basically the flight or flight response. Yeah. It’s just adrenaline that we haven’t run off. Um, and you know, our body can be flooded with adrenaline because of things like something at work happening, you know, road rage, this kind of stuff, commonplace things that happen on a daily basis. Our bodies can be filled with that stress that, that, you know, that. The catecholamines, the adrenaline. And so if you think about a baby, who’s the outer environment is the mother. Everything that that mother is experiencing, ultimately the baby’s experiencing as well. So we’re always mindful about what women eats during pregnancy. You know, we’re concerned about how that affects the baby and what she’s drinking, but also her environment, you know, how she’s feeling is so important. It’s almost like a little postcard from the outside world saying, you know, this is going on in the outside world and babies kind of experiencing that. So I think what is really important to sort of say to anyone that’s pregnant is anything that’s happened in the past. Let go of it. You know, there’s nothing that you can do about it.
[00:09:54] You can’t get back to it. There’s no point in feeling guilty about it because that’s just going to make the situation worse, that people are human at the end of the day, experiencing human emotions. And so don’t beat yourself up about a stressful day that you had. During your pregnancy, you know, things happen, people experience all kinds of different loss and grief and sadness and upset, and it’s no fault of their own.
[00:10:18] Um, but from this moment on, if you are pregnant, be mindful, be more mindful, be more in touch with thinking. Can I put my feet up or can I work more flexibly? Can I reduce my hours? Can I go on maternity? Leave a bit earlier? How can I look after me? Because by looking after me, I’m looking after baby and baby does pick up on stress.
[00:10:40] You know, it’s really key just to make sure that baby is getting all the building blocks in place for their growth and their emotional development. Half of the personality of babies formed in nutro, which is mind blowing. If you think about wanting a calm baby later in life, you know, it starts in pregnancy. You know, we always think about. Um, baby growing different organs and things and you know, how important and vital pregnancies for that. But the emotional development is occurring in pregnancy as well. So there’s evidence to suggest that if a mum’s more relaxed, the baby has more potential to create a more artistic side of his brain structure.
[00:11:19] Which is just like, wow. You know, so definitely it’s important just to invest in relaxation, in self care and looking after yourself. Um, but also that comes without any guilt attached to it if you have been finding things stressful. Because you can’t wrap a pregnant woman up in bubble wrap for nine months of pregnancy and expect, her never to feel any stress, because that’s equally not great for baby, because it’s a misrepresentation of what reality is like, you know, life has ups and downs in it, and baby needs to be equipped for life on the outside.
[00:11:55] So. That entails ups and downs, good days and bad days. And we want babies or humans that are going to be equipped for the reality that we find ourselves in. So I think if a woman can relax, fantastic ditch, any guilt, um, but yeah, do the best that she possibly can with the cards that she’s dealt with in her pregnancy.
[00:12:18] Carla: That’s fantastic. So, so you’ve talked a bit about relaxation there. Is there anything else that you would recommend that, expectant parents can do during pregnancy too, de stress or to relax?
[00:12:32] Emily: Yeah. I mean, I think it’s just important to do whatever makes you happy. So, you know, we just need something that for that individual person creates endorphins, creates those feel good hormones, um, because baby’s going to be experiencing those. So, you know, if you enjoy yoga, yoga, if you enjoy exercise, obviously exercise is beneficial for everyone and releases endorphins, but perhaps it might just be talking to a friend and, um, you know, releasing any stress that you feel within, within your mindset. Anything that releases oxytocin, the love hormone.
[00:13:04] So having a date night, watching a funny film, all of those kinds of things, part of more formal relaxation, we have our, um, sorry pregnancy relaxation classes. So the the way in which we designed these were so that an expectant parent, expectant mum could come along and have a specific 15 minutes of offloading around a particular theme or particular topic.
[00:13:28] So within that she’s meeting like minded mums. Speaking about a theme that people find kind of a common situation within pregnancy. So we’ve got one about bonding with baby. You’ve got one about the pregnancy changes about bodily changes, emotional changes, one about boosting confidence, one about releasing fears. So they get to sort of speak to like-minded mums around a particular theme. I don’t think there’s any greater support and the support that you can get from peer support, you know, from another pregnant mum? It’s amazing. Yeah and then we get nice and comfy, we put blankets pillows, eye masks, and we deliver, um, a guided relaxation around that theme.
[00:14:11] So then that’s dealing with the inner mind is dealing with the subconscious, that powerhouse. So again, reconditioning any outdated belief systems, any fears, it could be lingering there, you know? Things about babies size things about labor, things about not being supported or loved or anything there that could be lingering. So that’s the guided relaxation really helps that. Um, and they’re just really lovely sessions. So I think it’s knowing what kind of. You know, what kind of vibe you want during your pregnancy? What helps you to relax and tuning into that? You know? Um,
[00:14:48] Carla: That makes a lot of sense. Mmm. So is there anything I can do to prepare myself for birth?
[00:14:56] Emily: Yeah, I think really firstly thinking carefully about where you want to have your baby, um, and this. Seems quite strange. And I can remember my oldest is 10 now. And I remember going in to the local GP at the time and saying, Oh, I’m pregnant. And having that kind of, well, well, you’re booked in for this hospital type chat. And it was, I didn’t really know any different until I looked further into things and did hypnobirthing and things like that. And I think sometimes people. Kind of feel like they’re on a bit of a conveyor belt that have done a test, then we’ve got an appointment, then we’ve got a scan and it sort of just one stage often rather.
[00:15:36] And I think really just to prepare would be to take it a step back and personalise it and think about your options really carefully. So thinking about where would I like to have my baby? Would it be at hospital? Would it be in a birth centre? Would it be at home and know that those options are actually available to you.
[00:15:55] And then think about the support that you want you know? Yeah. Are they there? Who’s that? You know, obviously it might be the father of your baby or not. Do they feel happy about supporting you? Do they feel comfortable about it or are they going to be the best advocate for you? Do you need to think about a doula, someone who’s experienced with birth, not medically trained, but couldn’t be that kind of being your, you know, your support, someone that’s going to nurture, you speak for you. All of those kinds of things. Think about whether you want water. Whether you want a natural birth, you know, obviously from my point of view, I’d be saying, sign on to a hypnobirthing course, where you can learn techniques that you’re going to really support you, but write a birth plan as well. I think it’s so key.
[00:16:41] Um, we’re very passionate about saying, make it a plan, you know, because rather than you know preferences or wishes, plan it. Because then it gets your mind on track with what you want. You’re more focused and you’re more likely to achieve it. And then of course, practice, you know, practice the techniques. It’s not just going to kind of go in by osmosis and then you’re gonna have an amazing birth. You’ve got to work hard at reconditioning. The subconscious. So you’ve got to kind of practice the particular breathing techniques that we teach for when ladies have their surges, which is our word for contractions. Um, and we’ve got to make sure that they, it’s like a habit, so that when they do go into labor and say, it’s a first time mum, she’s never had that experience before of her muscles working in that way.
[00:17:28] She’s going to potentially hold her breath because it’s a sensation she’s not had before. So that surge breath, that breathing technique that we teach has to be almost have been a habit. So it’s a natural thing for her then to do. Um, rather than it being one of those things where she thinks oh god you know, get out that book, get out of that…I need to find out what it is I’m doing. But actually practiced it, it’s a habit it’s in her head she does. Is it automatic pilot. She knows exactly what she’s doing. Um, as well as techniques for her partner as well. So massage techniques prompts that they can use to keep a focus.
[00:18:09] Um, so yeah, all of that stuff has to be within their head space and obviously to be informed and be informed positively. So some people would say sort of read as much as you can about it, but I’d be careful as to what you read, because anything that you read that’s obviously negative is going to go into your head and then it could be reaching in your birth experience. So you want to be looking at. Surrounding yourself. Yeah. Surrounding yourself with positivity, with people who’ve, who’ve got the belief system that you can do this and cutting out the people who might bring down your, your belief in it and challenge you.
[00:18:49] Carla: So with, with this, obviously we’re talking around birthing, which obviously comes in lots of different ways. So does hypnobirthing also help with C-sections. If you’ve just found out, it’s like with my son, I found out at 20 weeks. So I would have, very likely, to have a C section because I had a low line placenta, would hypnobirthing still helped me?
[00:19:11]Emily: Yeah, I think with something like that with a low line placenta, that you’ve got there’s no other option really if the placenta is lying across the cervix. So you’re going to have to have a C section and that can definitely help because it sort of informs you, if you hadn’t already known of your options then you’re more educated in terms of, well, what, what options have I got available to me? Can I go natural, whatnot? You know, some people don’t always feel comfortable asking that of the midwife.
[00:19:37] They want to use someone else’s a sounding board to think about their options. Um, hypnobirthing, I mean, our course. Predominantly aimed at a natural vaginal birth experience. But we do have people who we’ve taught, who then have to have a C section because they’ve had a special circumstance. So they have to then switch their head space into utilising the techniques for that. So they can go into that. C-section. Listening to the audios, practicing the breathing, knowing that they’ve made the right decision for them and for their family. So they feel really kind of their confidence is really boosted by that they haven’t been bamboozled or not really knowing what was what, but they’ve known that it was the right decision and they feel empowered in that.
[00:20:23] Um, and yeah, they can still have that playlist. They can still visualise themselves being calm and relaxed. They can still repeat affirmations, the more you repeat something, the more firmly embedded it becomes in the subconscious. So things like, I am calm and in control, going into that, knowing that they’ve prep their, their minds positively, um, is really key.
[00:20:46] We’ve got techniques such as one of the script is called a place of calm and comfort. And what that does is it allows you to visualise a place where. you know it is really lovely, you know, really comfortable. So a beach, um, a honeymoon destination, a place at home anywhere, really anywhere from your imagination. And it gets you to think about the sights, the smells atmosphere, and you program your mindset to being in that space. And because the subconscious doesn’t know the difference between fantasy and reality, you can trick it. So you can really, you know, repeat this particular visualisation. And then when it came to a Csection, for example, you could utilise that technique, say you weren’t particularly comfortable with the environment maybe, or you felt a little bit. I am anxious. You could harness that technique and all the programming that you’ve done and cultivate that place that makes you feel calm and comfortable and have the feelings and the endorphins associated with that place in, you know, in the hospital. Um, so yeah, it’s really powerful stuff. The mind is definitely the driving force. Really, really key.
[00:21:55]Carla: That’s brilliant. And is Emily, is there anything else that you’d like to add that I’ve not kind of covered in these questions?
[00:22:02] Emily: No, I think really I’m just, obviously, as you probably tell, I’m very passionate about making sure that pregnant women know that there are options, that they can be supported, that they can be heard and nurtured the, you know, the support out there. Uh, that they’re not alone, that there are other women who want to view birth positively, um, that they should really kind of seek out those people, seek out the people who feel good about this experience, who want to do it again after they’ve done it once, you know, felt worried about it. Um, and it does definitely make a difference to that whole experience.
[00:22:40] Carla: Yeah, enjoy the experience as well. You know, you, you want, you don’t want to be, I suppose, spending your whole pregnancy in fear. You want to actually enjoy your experience as well. And I imagine, you know, the hypnobirthing courses, you do actually do that. So, yeah, that’s fantastic. Mmm. So Emily, can you just tell us, um, our audience a bit more about you and where they can find you and what you offer for pregnancy?
[00:23:08]Emily: Yep. So, um, my I’m one of the cofounders of Babies in Waiting. So we teach hypnobirthing, pregnancy, relaxation, and mother and baby clubs, which are our postnatal support club. Um, and I’m based in Essex are I’m a clinical hypnotherapists. Uh, Babies in Waiting has kind of grown over the years. So we are in lots of different areas across the country.
[00:23:32] Now with a really passionate team of teachers who share the belief system that obviously we do as founders. Birth is beautiful, who are really keen to spread that message. Um, I’m also a mummy of four. Uh, so I’ve got four children, three boys, and a little girl. And I’m a breastfeeding peer supporter. Baby wearing peer supporter. I’m basically obsessed with anything to do with positivity of mindset, particularly of mums.
[00:24:02] Carla: I love that Emily. So Emily, can you tell our audience where they can find you and your links, and then we can put them in the show notes as well.
[00:24:13] Emily: Yeah, our website is www.babiesinwaiting.com.
[00:24:18] Or you can find us on Instagram @babiesinwaitinghq, um, and yeah, and babies in waiting on, uh, Facebook as well.
[00:24:27]Carla: Perfect. And we’ll add all those links in the show notes. Emily. You’ve been absolutely amazing. You answered so many questions there. So many things I didn’t, wasn’t aware of myself. So thank you so much.
[00:24:38] Emily: No, it’s been brilliant. It’s been a pleasure. Absolutely loved it. So thank you for having me.
[00:24:45] Carla: Thank you for listening to My Bump 2 Baby’s Expert podcast. If you would like to find help and support from experts in your local area, head over to www.mybump2baby.com and you will also be able to find local pregnancy to preschool groups, classes, businesses, and services in your local area.
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