As promised we are just dropping you a line to let you know that the birth of our daughter Kessie Amber went without a hitch. I began in labour, having surges 10 minutes apart about one hour after having a membrane sweep on 23rd February, this continued until about 3am on Friday 25th. At this point the frequency and intensity increased and we went in to the hospital at around 4 am. Between Wednesday and Friday I applied the techniques you taught us and used the CDs to help me relax enough to get some rest during the night which was amazing really. Established labour went really well and Mike said how relaxed I remained throughout. We opted for the birthing pool and hoped for a water birth but as it turned out baby wouldn't turn the corner and I had to find different positions to try and help her out. Kessie was born at 17.21 on 25th February at a really healthy 7lb 15oz and measuring 51cm in length. She was totally calm throughout the whole experience as demonstrated each time her heartbeat was monitored, she was so relaxed! We are convinced that this is all down to the techniques we all learnt together which were invaluable. The midwives were amazing and supportive and regularly commented on how calm and relaxed we remained during the birthing experience. Although the end was hard and I had to rely on Mike to keep me focused and help me through the final stages, as I was becoming exhausted, the arrival of Kessie was brilliant. I was lucky enough to avoid episiotomy or tearing and recovery has been very quick, we think that our relaxation helped with this.
We are all very chilled out and relaxed and want to thank you for all your help and support in the days leading up to Kessie’s arrival. Many Thanks
Liz, Mike and Kessie
Elizabeth and Claire
I decided to look into hypno-birthing techniques when I got pregnant with my second child. My first labour and birth were the result of an induction which left me feeling out of control and vulnerable, so I was determined to have a better experience the second time round. I attended Karen's hypnobirth class when I was about 7 months pregnant and found it so refreshing to hear a positive attitude towards birth – and that it could be a natural, empowering process!
I used all the material Karen gave me and did some of the recommended reading, the CD in particular helped me to relax and remain calm during the later stages of my pregnancy.
One phrase from the CD that did stick in my head was “birthing your baby on the day that you choose”, and I kept thinking about the 4th of July – but dismissed it due to it being a memorable day -independence day. However Claire decided to be born on the 4th of July which astounded me!!
When I did go into labour I was in denial that this was really it, as the sensations felt too comfortable and easy to bear unlike my other labour. I focused on my breathing and used the relaxation techniques to see me through each surge.
As my labour progressed it felt very natural and that I was in control at all times. I could hardly believe it when I got to the birth centre and realized I would be soon meeting my baby.
The atmosphere in the birth room was very calm, with flameless candles and my relaxation music playing in the background. Getting into the birth pool was pure bliss!! I just let my body take over and do what it knew how to, and after only a couple of hours Claire was born! I still couldn’t believe it was that easy and my baby was finally here. She was so calm and perfect, and I remember how alert this tiny baby was, taking in her new world, my midwife had to reassure me that she was OK as she wasn’t distressed or crying at all!
I found the whole experience amazing and felt so empowered, all thanks to the techniques I learned from the hypnobirthing course. I am now a firm believer in the power of our minds and bodies, and that natural birth really is possible. Thanks to Karen and her this class for empowering me to have such a calm and positive birth experience! I have already recommended the course to other pregnant friends.
Clearing Your Mind
BY MADISYN TAYLOR
The more we practice settling our minds, the easier it will become over time.
After a full day out in the world, stories, words, images, and songs from any number of sources continue to play in our heads hours after we encounter them. Even as we lie in bed, in the quiet dark, our minds continue noisily processing all the input from our day. This can leave us feeling unsettled and harassed. It also makes it difficult to take in any new information or inspiration. Like a cluttered house that needs to be cleared if it is to have room for movement and new life, our minds need clearing if they are to be open to new information, ideas, and inspiration.
Too often, the activities we choose to help us relax only add to the clutter. Watching television, seeing a movie, reading a book, or talking to a friend all involve taking in more information. In order to really clear our minds, we need a break from mental stimulation. Activities like yoga, dancing, or taking a long walk help to draw our attention to our bodies, slowing our mental activity enough that our minds begin to settle. Deep breathing is an even simpler way to draw attention away from our mental activities. Once we are mentally relaxed, we can begin the process of clearing our minds. Most of us instinctively know what allows our minds to relax and release any unnecessary clutter. It may be meditation or time spent staring at the stars. Whatever it is, these exercises feel like a cool, cleansing bath for the brain and leave our minds feeling clear and open.
Setting aside time to clear our minds once a day creates a ritual that becomes second nature over time. Our minds will begin to settle with less effort the more we practice. Ultimately, the practice of clearing our minds allows us to be increasingly more open so that we can perceive the world as the fresh offering it is, free of yesterday's mental clutter.
Remember those commercials from the 1990s that fried an egg and said, “This is your brain on drugs?” Well, there needs to be a new version of those commercials that say, “This is your brain on breastfeeding,” but instead of frying an egg there are fireworks or images of Supergirl or something. Because awesome things happen to your brain while you breastfeed, from hormonal shifts to literal new pathways being formed. Not only does breastfeeding facilitate bonding, but it has permanent changes on the makeup of your brain. Whoa.
We already knew that breast milk itself was amazing. (Did you know that it changes every single day, based on the dietary and antibody needs of your baby?) But breastfeeding itself is also pretty incredible. Immense changes occur in the brain of a person who is nursing — so many changes, in fact, that Katherine Ellison wrote an entire book on the neurology of breastfeeding, called The Mommy Brain: How Motherhood Makes Us Smarter. I was pretty doubtful of this claim, since what I remember most about early motherhood was feeling totally scattered and not being able to remember anything. But the research is solid, bountiful, and proves breastfeeding works magic on your brain.
1. You Release Fewer Stress HormonesBreastfeeding can actually reduce your level of stress by inhibiting the release of stress hormones. A research team led by Margaret Altemus, a professor at Cornell University, had lactating and non-lactating women walk on a treadmill and measured their levels of stress hormones. The researchers found the lactating women released half the amount of stress hormones, compared to non-lactating women. Other studies back this up. They concluded that “stress-responsive neurohormonal systems are restrained in lactating women.” So basically, you’re chill af when you’re nursing.
2. You Experience Less Fear and Anxiety
In addition to feeling less stressed out, breastfeeding brains may also be less anxious. Oxytocin is a hormone released in the brains of breastfeeding humans. In a 2005 study in the Journal of Neuroscience, oxytocin was found to lessen fear and anxiety by reducing activation of the amygdala, which is the part of the brain responsible for responses to fear. Who needs Xanax when you have nursing?
3. You Become Braver
Prolactin, nicknamed ‘the parenting hormone’ due to its role in lactation, may actually be the reason you’re willing to put your life on the line to protect your baby. Inga Neumann, a neurobiologist out of Germany who has participated in some of the only research of prolactin in humans, explains in The Mommy Brain that in the brain, prolactin makes animals braver, and even more likely to risk their lives. It turns out that there is a biological explanation for why nursing parents will do seemingly anything to protect their baby.
3. Your Pleasure Circuits Switch On
Hormonal interactions between oxytocin and dopamine work to turn off negative emotions and switch on pleasure circuits that produce feelings of exhilaration (dopamine) and attachment (oxytocin). I’m into that.
4. Increased EmpathyBreastfeeding makes you better at interpreting social cues, due in part to the oxytocin release. Oxytocin results in improved recall for positive social memories, happy faces in particular. Breastfeeding also apparently improves “mind-reading” in humans. If only nursing made you actually psychic. I’d probably never stop if that were the case.
5. Increased Responses To Your Baby’s CriesResearchers have found that breastfeeding mothers are more sensitive to the sound of their babies' cries than non-breastfeeding mothers. Maternal brain researcher Pilyoung Kim told The Atlantic, that "breastfeeding mothers show a greater level of [brain] responses to baby's cry compared with formula-feeding mothers in the first month postpartum."
6. The Entire Map of Your Brain Gets Replotted“Studies on animals strongly suggest that breastfeeding re-plots the map of the brain,” notes The Mommy Brain. And in 1994, two neuroscientists out of the University of California showed that in the cortex of a mother rat, the area devoted to the chest of the animal doubled in size while the rat was nursing. The researchers believe the same thing happens in humans.
7. Your Brain Changes ForeverOnce you stop breastfeeding, evidence seems to suggest that your brain is never the same as it was. Scientists believe that permanent changes occur, and have evidence to back up that hypothesis. This evidence is presented in depth in The Mommy Brain, which cites research showing that humans and other mammals respond more readily to their second baby than to their first. It indicates that we become “better” at being parents the more that we do it, not because practice makes perfect, but because our brains actually learn how to parent.
Expanding Your Comfort Zone
BY MADISYN TAYLORYour current comfort zone has served you, but it represents your behaviors and patterns from your past.
None of us are born with a guidebook that provides explicit rules for thought and behavior that will enable us to navigate life successfully. To cope with the myriad of complexities to which all of humanity is subject, we each develop a set of habits and routines that ground us, their continuity assuring us that life is progressing normally. Most of us know, whether instinctively or by experience, that transformations can be uncomfortable, but we always learn and gain so much. Any initial discomfort we experience when expanding our comfort zones diminishes gradually as we both become accustomed to change and begin to understand that temporary discomfort is a small price to pay for the evolution of our soul.
Your current comfort zone did, at one time, serve a purpose in your life. But it is representative of behaviors and patterns of thought that empowered you to cope with challenges of days past. Now, this comfort zone does little to facilitate the growth you wish to achieve in the present. Leaving your comfort zone behind through personal expansion of any kind can prepare you to take the larger leaps of faith that will, in time, help you refine your purpose. Work your way outward at your own pace, and try not to let your discomfort interfere with your resolve. With the passage of each well-earned triumph, you will have grown and your comfort zone will have expanded to accommodate this evolution.
Whether your comfort zone is living with your parents, or perhaps being too shy to socialize, or maybe it's not realizing your spirit self--whatever it is, start small, and you will discover that venturing beyond the limited comfort zone you now cling to is not as stressful an experience as you imagined it might be. And the joy you feel upon challenging yourself in this way will nearly always outweigh your discomfort. As you continue to expand your comfort zone to include new ideas, activities, goals, and experiences, you will see that you are capable of stimulating change and coping with the fresh challenges that accompany it.