September 6, 2016
by Esther Croft
0 comments

How to prepare for your second HypnoBirth (and beyond)

Preparing for your 2nd HypnoBirthI’ve been teaching HypnoBirthing for nearly four years now. A lot of my early clients have now started adding to their families and are asking me the question – how should I prepare for my second HypnoBirth?

Finally I’ve gotten around to putting a post together, so here you have it: My guide to preparing for your second (third, fourth etc) HypnoBirth.

When to start

This is completely up to you. As with first time around, it can be beneficial to get started earlier if you are experiencing any fears or anxieties about the birth. If not, starting around 25-30 weeks into your pregnancy is fine if that’s what you prefer.

What to practise

The first step is to read through the book again, marking the pages of all of the techniques you will use and referring to your handouts where appropriate.

Breathing

As with your first birth, we want all of the techniques to feel like second nature. Make sure you spend time refreshing your memory of each of the breathing techniques.

Hypnosis and Affirmations

Work up to playing Rainbow Relaxation and the Birth Affirmations every day. Remember Rainbow Relaxation can be put on as you drift off to sleep at night and the Affirmations should be played in the background as you go about your normal daily activities.

If any affirmations are particularly powerful for you, or if you find that one of your fears is not covered on the affirmations track, you can write these out and put them somewhere you will see every day such as your fridge or on your mirror.

Fear release

It is totally normal to have new or different fears to work through before your second birth. Maybe some elements of your first birth didn’t go to plan, or maybe your first birth was so amazing you are afraid the second one won’t be as great (this is more common than you think). Often second time parents worry that they won’t love their second child as much as their first (don’t worry you will).

With your partner (if you have one), make a list of any or all fears/concerns you have. Remember to include anything relating to your pregnancy, the birth, or life with a new baby, relationship issues, financial issues. Put it all down, and then rate each fear 1-5 with 1 being the most important and 5 being the least important.

Make time to go through your lists together, sharing your concerns and coming up with solutions for the more practical items. With the remaining fears you can use the Book of Life imagery as we did in class (find the image, make it large, make the image fade, then remove and destroy the pages). You can also take turns to read each other the Hot Air Balloon Script that you were given in class to offload all those unnecessary fears.

Deepening techniques

Take time to practise your instant relaxations (the zones and AAA BBB CCC). You may find that your favourite of the two has changed since your first birth – it did for me. Also practise the depthometer (down from 40 with the inverted thermometer) and the silver glove technique as described in the book.

Also take time to re-anchor your keyword. Read through your handout to remind yourself of the breathing and wording for the key word then make sure you spend at least five separate sessions practising bringing yourself into and out of your ultimate relaxed state using the key word. You may choose to use the same key word or change it this time around.

Do the same with the shoulder press, running through the Birth Companion’s Deepening at least five times too.

Birth Plan

Revisit your birth plan and work through this with your partner and your midwife/obstetrician. Remember to discuss with them which elements you feel most strongly about so that they can move heaven and earth to make them happen and those that are nice to have but not so important to you.

This time around you will need to think about who will look after your children and also have a back up childcare plan in place (even if you plan to birth at home with your child/children present.

Talk with your partner about what you really liked and/or didn’t like first time around. It’s important to include them in your practice and talk frequently about how you would like to be supported so that it is fresh in their mind. Five or ten minutes of light-touch massage during the start of your Rainbow Relaxation can help anchor those sensations to a deep relaxation and is a great way to include your partner.

Watching beautiful births

I have a great selection of beautiful births on my Pinterest boards (Birth Videos and Birth Stories) as well as lots of other positive birth information on my other boards if you are interested. Surrounding yourself with positive births is one of the most powerful forms of preparation you can do. Remember to really take the opportunity to visualise yourself having a beautiful birth experience.

Visualisations

This brings me to visualisations, here is the link to a time lapse opening rose. Also remember your other visualisations, including your success scene and your favourite place in nature. With your success scene, take the time to enjoy all those amazing sensations, the exhilaration, and extreme happiness that comes with the moment you embrace your newest baby for the first time. For added benefit you can mentally shout ‘I did it!’ like some of the mamas in the videos we watched in class.

Things to note

It’s important to remember that all births are different so it’s worth practising all of the techniques again even if you didn’t use some first time around. You may prefer different techniques this time if your birth is faster or slower, or different in other ways to your first.

Also, remember that oxytocin is your best friend during birth. Having a favourite toy or item of clothing from your first child can help you get a big hit of oxytocin during the birth. The smell in particular can really get that oxytocin flowing and speed up your labour.

Come and see me for a refresher

Remember if you have been to my classes before you are more than welcome to come back to the final class of a group free of charge for a refresher (see my class dates here). I love to see familiar faces. I also do private refreshers if you prefer.

If you took a class with someone else previously but are interested in doing a refresher please do get in touch to talk about your options.

August 25, 2016
by Esther Croft
0 comments

Ten practical presents for new parents

gift ideasYes, tiny little baby clothes and toys are adorable, but what about the parents? Surely they could do with some pampering too. Here is my list of ten great presents for new parents:

Dry shampoo: This is a godsend. Even the best behaved newborns have a knack for waking up hungry just as you jumped in the shower (if you did indeed attempt to jump in the shower). Dry shampoo deals to your greasy hair and helps you to feel a bit more pulled together.

Hats: See above!

Cleaner: Having a cleaner look after your housework for the first few weeks is such an amazing help, especially for a new parents without good family support to step in and help with this.

Gentle hand soap: Your hands take a bit of a beating as a new parent, washing your hands for nappy changes, giving your baby a bath, cleaning bottles and/or breast pumps, your hands will really thank you for choosing a gentle soap.

Hand cream: As above, keep those hands nice and supple with a good hand cream. Even better, get one of those sampler packs of mini hand creams so they can have a little tube in every room of the house.

Crock pot freezer meals (like these): These are a great way to contribute a meal. Check first that they have the freezer space, or that they can eat it the next day.

Raincoat: Anyone who has tried to get a baby into a car or push a stroller while holding an umbrella will understand this one!

Backpack nappy bag: I have no idea who invented the over the shoulder nappy bag but it is so impractical. I found a backpack so much better, especially if you are using a baby carrier, chasing a toddler while holding a baby, or using a lighter umbrella stroller that tips over when you try to hang your nappy bag off it.

Biteable key ring: Before having children, getting into your car is usually a smooth transition from unlocking the door to sitting yourself down. Once you have a baby there are a whole lot more steps to negotiate. It’s probably not the most hygienic option in the world but I know found it really handy to be able to dangle my keys from my teeth while I got things sorted.

HypnoBirthing classes (I couldn’t resist!): HypnoBirthing classes are the gift that keeps on giving (see here, and here). These are not so helpful once the baby is here of course so get in early with this one.

I would love to hear from you if you have any suggestions to add to my list. What did you find you couldn’t live without in those early days?

July 24, 2016
by Esther Croft
0 comments

How to give your kids a head start with learning

Image Credit: Jessica Ottewell

Image Credit: Jessica Ottewell

I’m going to start this post with a quick question. Which of these statements feels more true for you?

  1. People can learn new things but can’t really change how intelligent they are
  2. No matter how intelligent someone is, they can always improve

According to Dr Carol Dweck (the author of Mindset), if you chose number one, you have a fixed mindset, and if you chose number two you have a growth mindset.

I’m reading Dweck’s book at the moment. I think should be compulsory reading for all parents, as well as all managers and students, and everyone else for that matter!

In the book she sums up years of research she has done in developmental and social psychology to explain mindset and what a huge impact this makes on our ability to reach our potential.

Unfortunately the mindsets are not made equal, there is a clear winner here and that is the growth mindset. Why is that?

Fixed Mindset

People who hold the fixed mindset believe that intelligence, along with other qualities including personality, sporting ability, and other abilities are carved in stone.

With this belief, the outcome of every challenge you face in life has the potential to define you forever. Because you believe your intelligence cannot change, if something makes you look stupid, it means you are stupid.

As a result, those with fixed mindset can be unwilling to even try new things or to extend themselves because doing so is exposing themselves to the risk of being identified as stupid if it doesn’t go well.

In the fixed mindset, if you are not instantly good at something, it is not going to be enjoyable for you and will likely cause you stress and anxiety because failure means you are not smart or talented. You become afraid of challenges because you are afraid to identified as stupid.

Growth Mindset

With the growth mindset, you believe that intelligence and other abilities can be improved with practise. In this mindset, something challenging is really appealing because it offers you the opportunity to grow and develop.

Growth mindsetters are open to, and even welcome constructive criticism. For them, missing an opportunity to learn would be worse than failing because even in our failures we learn.

How does this affect parenting?

Babies are born with an insatiable appetite for learning – growth mindset personified. They don’t give up on learning to walk after falling down hundreds of times. They don’t give up on learning to talk even though it is a long and often frustrating process. They know instinctively that with practice they can master new skills.

It is us as parents, and as a society that leads some kids to take on the belief that certain abilities are set in stone. Subtle messages we give them when we praise them for being clever, also teach them that the opposite is true – if you don’t succeed you must be stupid.

We are also guilty of idolising effortless achievement, while not giving enough credit to those who work so hard for their goals. One example Dweck talks about in her book is Michael Jordan who was famous for doing a crazy amount of basketball practice.

Despite his well known commitment to practising, he is seen by most people as a freak of nature, who was born with an incredible talent. It is much more comfortable for us to think this because we don’t have to face the fact that we could be really incredible at something if we too devoted that much energy and focus towards our goal.

What to do if you or your child has a fixed mindset

It is probably clear to you now how the growth mindset can make your life much more enjoyable, and increase your chances of reaching your potential.

The good news is that mindsets are not set in stone, they are generally strongly held beliefs, but with work we can change ourselves or guide our children towards a growth mindset.

Here are things you can do today to help empower your child to have a growth mindset:

Praise effort and practise – ‘I love how you kept on trying until you got that’, “I can see you have been practising, you are getting so good at that’, ‘remember when you first tried that and it was so hard?’

Model it – Erase any concrete statements like ‘I’m stupid’, ‘I’m bad at x’ from your lexicon, instead talk about how you need more practise.

Add ‘yet’ – One good trick is to add the word yet to any sentence that involves the words ‘I can’t’.

Point it out – Make an effort to point out when people are practising or working on something. Similarly avoid statements that imply that people are natural talents or that highlight effortless success as the ideal.

Talk about it – If your child is old enough, talk to them about the way the brain works, every time you practise something the pathways in your brain get stronger and stronger.

Try new things – Don’t be afraid to fail in front of your child. Talk about what you learned from that failure.

As I said earlier I really do recommend reading the book. A change to growth mindset can be used to improve any part of your life whether it’s your study/work, your social skills, sports or any other skills.

May 8, 2016
by Esther Croft
0 comments

Ten lessons my mama taught me

Ten lessons my mamag

 

This Mother’s Day I want to pay tribute to my amazing mama by sharing ten of my favourite life lessons she taught me.

These are lessons my Mum taught by example. It was not a case of her sitting me down and lecturing me. These were messages I got from her everyday actions which made them all the more powerful.

Here they are:

  • The best rewards in life come from hard work
  • You can do anything you set your mind to
  • Asking questions makes you look smart, not stupid
  • Stand up for things you believe in (and for those who cannot stand up for themselves)
  • Women can do anything
  • I have your back – no matter what!
  • Physical activity should be a priority in your life
  • Family is everything
  • Lead, follow, or get out of the way
  • Don’t just complain about it – do something

Each of these are messages I hope to pass on to my boys in the same way.

Love you Mum!

April 11, 2016
by Esther Croft
0 comments

Expectations matter: Why the best midwives trust in birth and believe in you.

midwives trust in birthI’ve just been listening to a great podcast about the power of expectations and can’t help but relate this back to the midwife/mother relationship.

In the podcast they talk about an experiment done by Professor Robert Rosenthal in which he convinced research assistants that they were dealing with either smart or stupid rats. The assistants then spent five days training the rats on a maze running challenge.

The results were amazing – the rats that had been labelled as smart were more than twice as fast at solving the maze. Tiny, subconscious changes to the way the research assistants treated the rats, had a huge impact on their performance.

This expectation effect works for humans too, children who were labelled as being about to have a huge leap in intellectual performance had IQ jumps significantly larger than their peers who were not given the label.

Generalising from this, it’s easy to see the benefit of having a midwife who believes that you are strong and capable, and that a woman’s body is perfectly designed to birth a baby.

So if you have ANY doubts at all about your midwife/Obstetrician make sure you listen to that internal voice. Trust yourself and find someone who does believe in you and will support you to get the birth you want.

I definitely recommend listening to the full podcast if you have time. While you are there, check out the Fearless Podcast too, it it they talk about the contagious nature of fear which explains why it is so important in HypnoBirthing that partners are involved in the birth preparation too.

March 14, 2016
by Esther Croft
0 comments

You are what you think – why your beliefs about birth matter

I was honoured to be invited recently to do a guest post for the amazing Birth Institute.

Check out my article here to see just how your beliefs about birth end up influencing every aspect of how you give birth.

While you are there, have a good look around, there is so much wisdom on that site and some really unique perspectives from birth workers from all around the world.

February 14, 2016
by Esther Croft
0 comments

Date night in: 20 ideas for date night with a baby

Happy valentine’s day everyone!Date night

Life with a new baby may not be the peak of romance in your relationship but that doesn’t mean you have to neglect it altogether.

Here are some of my favourite ideas for date-night-in so you can still enjoy those romantic moments with your special someone even if you can’t leave the house.

If you are into cooking…

Try to recreate a favourite restaurant meal without a recipe.

Try something you have never cooked before.

Make a whole meal from another culture (and get the matching drinks of course).

Roast marshmallows.

Cook  a really extravagant dessert (I’m thinking Masterchef quality here).

If you feel like a trip down memory lane…

Go through old photos and talk about your childhoods.

Look through holiday albums (I use that term loosely) and reminisce about your favourite holidays so far.

Music appreciation night – go track-for-track and share some of your old favourites.

Look through your wedding photos or videos if you have them.

If you feel like planning…

Plan a party or social event.

Plan your next holiday.

Plan your next date-night out.

Write a bucket list.

Find a new place to visit in your hometown that you have never been before.

Other great things to try…

Give each other foot massages.

Play old school computer games together online.

Play an old school board game together.

Play a game of ‘would you rather?’ – for the un-initiated this is just what it says on the tin, take turns asking would you rather…with two options ie would you rather have one inch long fingers or one foot fingers. The sillier the better.

Play cards.

Draw each other – the more terrible you are the more fun this is.

I love date-night, it’s so nice to have that time where you are both on your best behaviour and have banished distractions like smart phones. It doesn’t have to be extravagent, it doesn’t have to be expensive, all you need to do is make that commitment to enjoying each other’s company.

Happy date-nighting!

 

February 6, 2016
by Esther Croft
0 comments

HypnoBirthing: Read the book or take the course?

HypnoBirthing: Book vs coursePeople often ask whether they really need to take the official HypnoBirthing course, or whether they can just read the book themselves. This is my response to that question:

There’s a huge benefit to be gained from reading the book, so if this is the only option available to you, it is definitely a good thing to do. But there is even more to be gained from taking the full course so if this is an option available to you, it is definitely a good thing to do.

Here are some of the additional benefits you get from taking the course:

Hypnotic scripts – Much like guided meditations, the hypnotic scripts we do in class serve two main purposes. The first is to work release fears and create positive beliefs about birthing through the power of positive suggestions. The second is to teach your body how to access the deep state of relaxation that you will enter during the birth. As with anything, practice makes perfect. The more often you experience this deeply relaxed state, the more familiar it becomes, and the easier it is to enter it on your birthing day.

Anchoring – This is a term we use to describe linking a specific physical or verbal cue, with a specific state. We have several great ‘anchors’ that help the mother to quickly reach a state of deep relaxation at any time she desires. These anchors   are initially set up during a hypnosis session in class, and with repeated practice at home the anchor becomes a really powerful tool for reaching that necessary state of deep relaxation during the birth.

My personal favourite anchor is a shoulder-press from our Birth Companion’s Deepening hypnosis. With practice, the birth partner simply needs to put his/her hand on the mother’s shoulder to quickly deepen her relaxation. A hand on the shoulder is already a really reassuring gesture, and something that feels very natural for a partner to do so this technique takes that existing cue for safety andreassurance and super-charges it. In my son’s birth I only had to imagine a hand on my shoulder to feel instantly more relaxed.

Partner engagement – Partners are an important part of HypnoBirthing*. In my experience about 80% of birth partners are quite skeptical at the first class, but by the end they are just as enthusiastic and excited as the mothers (see their testimonials here). Committing to the course means that you get a dedicated 12.5 hours of partner engagement, and once they are hooked on HypnoBirthing they are much more likely to commit to practicing the techniques with you. This is something that generally doesn’t happen when they don’t attend the course.

The other good thing about bringing your partner to the course is that they skills you learn are extremely helpful in everyday life, particularly as a new parent. If your partner suffers from anxiety, stress or is a generally pessimistic person they have even more to gain from taking the course.

Relaxation – At first it may seem like a five-week course is just another thing to add to a busy schedule but once couples start the course this view quickly changes. Spending 2.5 hours a week focusing on relaxation and immersed in positive messages about the birth of your child soon becomes a highlight of the week. Couples report having the best sleeps after the class and find it’s a great way to connect as a couple.

Commitment – As counterintuitive as it might seem, we appreciate things more when we pay for them. Many HypnoBirthing practitioners have first-hand experience of this, and find that when people don’t pay they often don’t get the same value out of the course.  Paying for the course is a psychological commitment which seems to influence how much practice a family does which in turn affects the results they get.

Questions – Learning is so much more effective when you have a chance to ask questions. In class you will be able to contribute to group discussions, try out techniques, and ask as many questions as you like until you feel you feel confident and have mastered each technique. For the most part, the instructors (like myself) have had our own beautiful HypnoBirth experiences and can call on the experiences of past clients to give you a great understanding of HypnoBirthing in practice.

Birth videos – Seeing is believing. It can be hard to understand just how gentle birth can be until you see it for yourself. Watching beautiful HypnoBirths in class is a big part of replacing negative and limiting beliefs about birth with more positive and beneficial beliefs. Talking through these examples brings the course to life and is great preparation for your own birth.

Extra support – The success of HypnoBirthing is largely due to word-of-mouth advertising. As instructors, we want you to have the best birth possible so that you will spread the word. Most instructors go above-and-beyond, and are happy to help in any way we can if you need additional support. We also have a couple of amazing extra hypnotic scripts that we have if you have special circumstances like a breech baby that needs encouragement to turn, or a baby that needs some encouragement to come-on-out.

If you have any questions about HypnoBirthing, what’s in the course, or how it can benefit you please do not hesitate to get in touch.

 

*It is not essential to have a partner, and your birth partner can be a friend or family member if you prefer.