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So you want to be prepared, ready and excited – excellent news! Welcome to my antenatal education programmes!
You are feeling a little overwhelmed by it all right now, but take a long deep breath in, then breathe out for even longer. And again. And again. Now sit down and read the information below. I am here to help you:
- eliminate your anxiety, whether it’s only about the birth and motherhood, or whether it stems from past hurts or deep traumas
- get rid of the overwhelm
- remove your fears
- be calm and relaxed and stay this way
Does that sound good?
The Right Birth on the Day
I teach The Wise Hippo Birthing Programme, which uses hypnosis techniques among many others. There are many birthing programmes that use hypnosis that are collectively labelled ‘hypnobirthing’. The Wise Hippo has a unique approach as we do not focus on one specific way of birthing. We appreciate that every woman has unique needs, wants and concerns about her baby’s birth, and we teach with this in mind. This in turn enables each couple to prepare for their baby’s birth in a way that feels right for them and ultimately to achieve the right birth on the day, whatever path their birthing takes. Couples learn how to prepare for the birth they want and the birth they eventually have, with the help of a toolbox full to the brim of techniques that they can use not only for pregnancy and birth, but also for ever – tools for life.
The concept of The Right Birth on the Day is very close to my heart because although I was aiming for a HBVAC (a home vaginal birth after caesarean), there was meconium in my waters (read my full birth story here) and so after 7 hours of labour, no dilation and using all the hypnobirthing techniques I knew, I had to head off to hospital, on my own with my doula, leaving my husband behind in the middle of the night (so he could look after our first daughter when she woke up) and then make the decision to have another C-section, as after 10 hours of labour, I still wasn’t dilating and there was no other option, considering the risks to myself and my baby. In the end, it was absolutely the right birth on the day, for many many reasons. The tools I learned during my hypnobirthing course helped me cope with all the changes of plan, the transfer, the absence of my husband (who first saw his second daughter when she was 3 hours old) and the recovery of my second C-section, which was much easier and faster than my first.
Childbirth is a normal, natural process
Hypnobirthing offers a way of labouring and giving birth to women who want to be in control of a calm, relaxed, comfortable and potentially drug-free birth. It is based on the premise that childbirth does not have to be the harrowing and painful event that is portrayed in the media and by our friends, colleagues and family members. If the mother is properly prepared and relaxed during pregnancy, she can approach birth in the same way.
Watch this video of Naomi talking about her birth. Before doing my classes, she had planned an elective C-section, ‘because doctors know best’. Having learned there were other ways that were just as valid, she explored her options when she did my classes and although she had still planned to birth in the London hospital she had originally wanted to birth in, her birth progressed so quickly that she just went to the local birth centre and had her baby in 3 hours!
Nonetheless, hypnobirthing isn’t necessarily meant to replace the need for epidurals or pain relief that a birthing woman might be offered or might want. Indeed some women do need some kind of pain relief. But the great thing about hypnobirthing is that it can be used in addition to all the other care that a birthing woman might receive, in hospital or otherwise, even if a C-section becomes the right action on the day – in some cases especially so, as it is so important to remain calm, focused and in control when things do not go according to plan.
‘According to physiological law, all natural, normal functions of the body are achieved without peril or pain. Birth is a natural, normal physiological function for normal, healthy women and their healthy babies. It can, therefore, be inferred that healthy women, carrying healthy babies, can safely birth without peril or pain.’ Dr Jonathan Dye, Easier Childbirth, 1891
With the Wise Hippo Birthing Programme, you will learn:
- to release your fears
- to change your beliefs and expectations (perhaps from a long, painful labour to a short, easy, comfortable one)
- how to relax
- how to breathe
- how your birthing body works
- how to use visualisation to great effect
- how affirmations help with this visualisation practice
- to trust your body and your baby
- to accept whatever turn your birthing takes, safe in the knowledge that your birth will be just right on the day
- that birth will be very different this time around
- tools that you can use way beyond your pregnancy and birth – and this is valid for dads/birth partners too
Dispelling the myths about hypnosis and hypnobirthing
- Have you ever attended the relaxation part of a yoga class?
- Have you ever been engrossed in a book or a film?
- Have you ever driven and wondered how you got to your destination, not remembering anything about your journey?
- Do you ever daydream?
- Do you ever go to sleep?
If you have answered ‘yes’ to at least one of these questions, you have been under hypnosis. Yes, we have all experienced hypnosis, and we all do at least once a day. In other words, if you have ever been in a state of deep relaxation, you have been under hypnosis. So there is nothing weird, hippie or extra-ordinary about hypnosis – we experience it every day, most of us do several times a day. It is not at all a state where we are out of control and can be manipulated. On the contrary – we are totally conscious, fully in control and in fact acutely aware of what is going on in our body, in our mind and around us.
Forcing a project to completion, you ruin what was almost ripe. Therefore the Master takes action by letting things take their course. He remains as calm at the end as at the beginning. Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu
Free ‘Calm and Relaxed’ mp3
If you would like to know what hypnosis feels like (in case you never go to sleep!), listen to the Wise Hippo ‘Calm and Relaxed’ relaxation track here 🙂 (You don’t need to sign up to Dropbox – just click on ‘No thanks, continue to view’ at the bottom, then click on the drop-down arrow next to the ‘Download’ button in the top right-hand corner and select ‘Direct download’.)
The mental and physical peace and relaxation that you will feel are a direct consequence of hypnosis. This is what you can expect from all the mp3s that come with all the Wise Hippo classes.
Hypnobirthing is simply about birthing while in a state of very deep relaxation. When you are relaxed, your birthing muscles work in harmony, you feel little or no discomfort (some women just feel pressure and tightening around their tummy) and your baby is birthed safely and calmly. That is the power of hypnobirthing.
Yet hypnobirthing the Wise Hippo Way is much more than ‘giving birth under hypnosis’. It is a complete antenatal programme that removes fears and concerns from the realm of the conscious and unconscious, and that integrates deep relaxation exercises, effective breathing techniques, affirmations, visualisations and physical and mental preparation to achieve a calm, comfortable birth for both you and your baby, wherever you are (home, birth centre, hospital) and whatever birth you choose or Nature chooses (not necessarily the same, in a positive way or in a negative way).
Hypnobirthing helps you accept the course of your labour and empowers you to make decisions, with your birth partner, along the way, rather than feeling that you are ‘made to do x’ or that ‘y was done to you’. You come out of your birthing experience feeling positive and empowered, and this is the most precious gift that any woman, any couple, can receive.
Benefits are obvious throughout pregnancy too:
- mums are much more relaxed
- couples feel closer as they discuss aspects of pregnancy and child care/rearing as well as personal issues that they had not considered before or that they are now considering in a new light
- dads are relaxed and empowered in their crucial role as birth partners
What you call ‘hypnobirthing’, in Barbados we just call ‘birthing’ – there are no other options than a calm, natural birth over there and than to accept whatever turn your birthing takes. A midwife originally from Barbados, who was at a birth I attended as a doula.
Benefits of hypnobirthing
For the mother
- calm and relaxed throughout pregnancy as fears, no matter how they originated, are released
- looking forward to the birth rather than fearing it
- calm and relaxed throughout labour
- confidence in herself as a woman and as a (future) mum
- confidence in her body and in her baby
- feels confident and informed when dealing with the medical staff
- less likely to experience special circumstances
- the need for chemical painkillers and drugs is greatly reduced and often eliminated
- labour is shortened
- she is energised after labour as hypnobirthing reduces or even eliminates fatigue during labour
- better bonding with her baby
- easier to establish breastfeeding (especially if the first few hours and days are spent skin to skin with baby)
- most of the skills learned for pregnancy, labour and birth can be used in any circumstances – these are life skills, so postnatally they can be used to reduce tension, stress and anxiety and promote serenity and energy (yes, even through the sleep-deprived weeks or months!) as the woman enters the world of motherhood (or continues her journey as a mum). Indeed, deep breathing and relaxation make you feel more energised and more positive, meaning you are less likely to suffer from postnatal depression.
For the baby
- higher Apgar scores
- calm and alert
- better feeding and sleeping routines
- better bonding with parents
- possibly higher IQ
For the father/husband/partner if he/she attends the classes and the birth
- feels empowered by his/her role
- feels involved throughout the pregnancy and the labour, rather than watching from the sidelines
- feels confident and informed when dealing with the medical staff
- better bonding with the baby during the pregnancy and beyond
- better relationship with the mother
- can also use the skills learned in the classes, beyond pregnancy and childbirth
The method requires that you practise as much as you can during pregnancy so that deep relaxation is second nature on your baby’s birthing day. However much you put in during pregnancy, you get out during the birth.
You can practise on your own with the mp3s, but you are also encouraged to practise with your birth partner, so that you both know what to do on the big day and so that he or she knows what your preferences are for the birth, for example in terms of soothing strokes/massage, tone of voice when reading scripts to you, birthing positions and the overall environment you would like to labour and birth in.
What is included
- 12 hours of expert hypnobirthing tuition (including relaxation exercises, visualisations, learning about the physiology of birth, viewing hypnobirthing births, and lots more – see full course content here) split over 4 weeks (or over 2 or 3 instead if you are really close to giving birth)
- a Listening Ear session
- your own copy of the Wise Hippo Birthing Programme manual
- your very own My Birth Planning Journal by Rena Gough at The Happy Birthing Company
- 7 hypnobirthing tracks (birth affirmations, visualisations, fear release etc. – see full list here)
- A voucher for a photo session with specialist newborn, baby and family photographer Studio Bambino
- online support via a closed FB group
- telephone/email support up to your birth and beyond
- Usually in the third or fourth class of the Wise Hippo Birthing Programme, a hypnobirthing couple who have previously attended my classes come with their baby and relate their birth story and answer all your questions. It is a part of the course that mums and dads look forward to – it is always reassuring to talk to someone ‘in the flesh’ who has experienced the many benefits of the Wise Hippo Birthing Programme course and be able to ask them questions. If the course takes place in your own home (rather than my practice), this may not be possible, depending on where you live and if you are comfortable having ‘strangers’ in your home.
How to book
It is recommended that you start attending the classes when you are between 20 and 30 weeks of pregnancy (of course the birth debrief can take place earlier than that). The earlier you start from 20 weeks, the better, as this allows you plenty of time to practise the techniques you will learn during the course. However, some women do not discover my course until quite late in their pregnancy but they still benefit greatly from the techniques learned. There is also a case for leaving it till late-ish in pregnancy so that you can focus completely on the classes and practice. It all depends on your personality. Whatever stage of pregnancy you are at, you are always welcome and you will benefit from the classes no matter what.
Phone me or email me in the first instance so that we can discuss your requirements. Because places are limited, I can only hold your booking (either verbal or by email) for a maximum of 5 days while waiting for your deposit (non-refundable).
Payments by bank transfer only.
Why choose the 4-week Wise Hippo Birthing Programme, as opposed to a weekend course or a 1-day workshop?
Self-hypnosis and deep relaxation take some practice to become second nature and be effective birthing techniques, especially after a previous traumatic birth experience.
Learning hypnobirthing over a day or weekend (as some hypnobirthing practitioners offer) means that you are much less likely to absorb and remember the techniques and to take in this comprehensive birth education.
By teaching the programme in four 3-hour sessions, we ensure that you have time to assimilate the techniques, to practise them at home between sessions and to ask any questions you may have at the sessions and also of course by email or telephone. Support is continuous from the minute you enquire about my classes, and carries on way beyond the last class, and even way beyond your birth.
The weekly classes also allow you plenty of time to explore your feelings, to relax with your partner, to resolve and release any concerns, worries or fears that you may have, and to really bond with your baby, as a couple. The classes are your special ‘us time’ for yourselves and for your baby.
Even if things do not go according to plan (for a very small percentage of mums, they do not), Wise Hippo hypnobirthing offers you a great toolbox to draw from in order to deal with whatever situation you may find yourself in and to have a calm, relaxed and comfortable birth no matter what happens.
‘We don’t get 100% feedback that births played out in the way that was desired but we do get 100% feedback that the techniques are useful no matter what’. Dany Griffiths, co-founder of the Wise Hippo Ltd
Remember, the aim of hypnobirthing is not a completely pain-free and ideal natural birth (although that is possible). It is to have a calm, easy, comfortable birth, no matter where you are and what happens, and to have a positive birth experience where you are in control.
Find out here a breakdown of the May 2015 statistics obtained from birth outcome surveys completed by 144 Wise Hippo clients, which is 10% of the number of clients who had birthed at the time this information was compiled.
~ The Wise Hippo Birthing Programme ~
Helping women achieve the right birth on the day
Prenatal Parenting Programme
The Wise Hippo Prenatal Parenting Programme (ex-Bond with Baby) is the first class of the Bundle of Parental Wisdom, if you choose to do the whole 7-week course (it is included in all group courses, but for private classes you can choose between the Bundle of Joy and the Bundle of Parental Wisdom).
While being pregnant for most is a time to celebrate and be joyful, it can also bring with it many concerns and worries. The physiological and emotional changes that occur can offer their own challenges for women in our multi-tasking, time-poor, busy culture too. And of course, when you are pregnant again after a previous traumatic birth, these feelings can be even more overwhelming.
Medical science has now been able to provide ‘proof’ with increasing evidence that a baby’s parents’ lifestyle, emotions and external environmental factors are all important to his or her development. An important lesson we can learn from this research in foetology is that the way a woman connects with her baby and how she feels during her pregnancy, is an important factor in her baby’s emotional and physical growth.
However, it is important to understand that this doesn’t mean that you have to suddenly find a way to live a perfectly harmonious life (not that you could if you tried).
Your children will see and experience examples of sadness, anger, frustration, etc. after they have been born and as they grow, and there may be times that it is appropriate for you to display those feelings during your pregnancy too.
If you want to feel confident throughout your pregnancy, to be able to do what is right for your baby, especially considering what happened in your previous birth experience, then this class is for you.
In just 3 short hours, you will learn how to deal with any situation that arises in a way that is right for you and for your baby. No more feeling guilty if something makes you feel ‘bad’.
- You will also learn tools to increase your energy levels whenever your need.
- You will learn to let go of negativity and enhance your self-esteem.
- You will learn some great ways to bond and interact with your baby.
And while you are learning some great, life-changing stuff, your baby will be benefiting too.
Deliberate Prenatal Bonding (The Wise Hippo):
‘A conscious intention of mothers (and those close to her) to understand their emotions, take care of their emotional well-being and interact with their babies, in order to support their unborn baby’s emotional intelligence and to enhance their current and future relationships.’
The first part of the Prenatal Parenting Programme is focused on ‘understanding your emotions’ because we are in fact not always taught about our emotional responses in a useful way. This for many is a really ‘eye opener’ of a session, and paves the way for an increased sense of control and emotional well-being, as well as laying a strong foundation for their child’s emotional intelligence.
The second part of the session is all about ‘looking after you’, during which you will find out ways to increase your energy levels, let go of negativity, raise your self-esteem and promote positivity.
‘Special moments with your baby’ is the final part of the Prenatal Parenting Programme. You will explore a number of different ways that you and others close to you can enjoy interacting with your baby while he or she is still in your tummy – the prenatal bonding part of this programme.
You will also get to see a lovely family sharing their prenatal parenting and bonding story, along with their beautiful birth, and precious moments straight after birth.
What is included
After the session, you will receive a breakdown of all the tools and techniques that you have learnt, along with 3 mp3s:
- ‘Quiet time with your baby’, which you can listen to regularly.
- ‘Blow away your worries’, which will support you in letting go of any negativity.
- The Wise Hippo instrumental music.
Early Parenting Programme
A 6-hour course split over two classes/weeks (as part of the Bundle of Parental Wisdom, automatically included in your group course), where you will learn the basics about baby feeding (including breastfeeding), baby’s sleep, looking after a newborn, how to deal with sleep deprivation, and so much more!
Full description coming soon!
Where do all the classes take place?
All sessions and classes are normally held in my garden studio, in Wallingford, South Oxfordshire, but if you would like private classes, these can also take place in the comfort of your own home, at extra cost (see Private classes) (please note that I only cover Oxfordshire and some parts of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire for these). I can also do classes by Skype.
- I am available for private classes daytime or evenings, and sometimes at weekends.
- Group classes are usually on Wednesday evenings (this may vary – see dates of the next classes in the side bar from a computer/at the bottom of this page from a mobile device).
Paid time-off for antenatal classes
Did you know that you are entitled to paid time-off for birth preparation classes? Have a look at this link for further details.