PREGNANCY AND THE ART OF RELAXATION. / by cheryl stephenson

 

Happy Mother’s Day to all you mamas out there!

Are you a mama to be? Well we’re making today about you too… we caught up with Katie Stockdale from Peace Love Birth to find out how she helps couples prepare for a positive birthing experience through the art of relaxation…

 
IMG_2034.JPG

Katie Stockdale founded Peace Love Birth after giving birth to her first baby boy Easton, which was a life changing experience for her in more ways than one. In her own words she was ‘shitting it’ when it came to the thought of giving birth, but the hypnobirthing and yoga techniques that she then went on to learn prepared her both mentally and physically for the biggest day of her life. The support and transformation was so positive that she ditched her career in fashion to help more mamas-to-be. We caught up with Katie over a cuppa…

So Katie, tell us a bit about what you teach…

I’m not here to tell you how to give birth, in fact a lot of what I teach is actually unlearning some of the negative beliefs we have picked up around birth. Things that have been working their way into our subconscious from a very early age. 
And besides, your body totally knows how to do it anyway - You could birth your baby in a coma if you needed too. How amazing is that? I’m always in awe of what total bad asses we are!

Wow, it’s incredible what the body’s capable of. A big part of Katie’s work is about building confidence, which is such a big deal for first time mamas. Confidence in our remarkable bodies and the astounding physical feats they are capable of.

It’s totally normal for women to not feel all that confident about giving birth. Perhaps even feel anxious about the prospect or scared. (I was absolutely shitting it in all fairness). Yes I am talking about how we can get something so big out of something so small! Your body grows an entire human from seed for almost 10 months so you can guarantee it’s got a surefire strategy for getting it out.

FullSizeRender_1.jpg

So where does the fear stem from?

Fear comes down to a number of reasons…

Firstly are changes, oh my, TONNES of changes. There are hormonal changes, physical changes and emotional changes. The dynamic with your partner might change too. All of these come part and parcel with pregnancy. Change can be hard for us to deal with and can leave us feeling a bit wobbly with a sense of uncertainty about the future.
Secondly there is the way birth is portrayed in the media.  99 times out of 100, what we have ‘experienced’ of birth is what we have seen on a film, One born every minute or Corrie, which usually portray birth as being super dramatic, sensationalising it for entertainment purposes.
Yes dramatic and tense birth do happen, BUT the reality in most births, could actually be quite boring. Lots of cups of tea, some breathing, watching TV and hanging out at home for a few hours - certainly in the first stages anyway. Can’t exactly see that keeping everyone glued to the TV screen now can you?
If you are going to watch those kind of births, then I suggest looking for Hypnobirthing videos on You-tube and seeing what the other side of the coin is like. Yes. Calm, positive births do happen, in fact they happen every day!

FullSizeRender.jpg

We know you’re not one for sweeping generalisations BUT what do you think would happen the tables were turned and Men were giving birth?

A- ha ha ha ha. Say what?!
B- I do think they would talk more about how good it can be.
(cue sweeping generalisation) I reckon it would be all about the Men who had the best birth and them shouting about it from the rafters.
But girls, that’s not our vibe is it. We tend to adopt a more empathetic stance. If we had a positive birth or enjoyed it (do google orgasmic birth if you get a sec, that shit might blow your mind) Perhaps we feel embarrassed or we don’t want others to feel like we are bragging about it if they didn’t have the birth they wanted. 
So we keep it to ourselves, if that’s the case, so not to upset anyone. The result of this is, it’s mostly the horror stories are shared. Girls we owe it to our fellow sisters to share the good stories! As long as it comes from a place of love then we all absolutely need to hear it. When you sign up to a Calm Birth School Hypnobirthing course with me or any of the other instructors then you get access to a super online support group where couples share positive birth stories for all types of birth - Yes it is possible to have a positive emergency c section.

Lastly and this is a big one. We have forgotten how to relax. The art of totally switching off. Sounds silly but it’s true, and I’m as guilty of this as anyone. We live in a super connected world. Think about the last time you were away from your phone for more than a few hours unless you left it home. Our phone comes to bed with us, we have multiple email accounts, texts, never ending what’s app groups, Instagram hearts and Facebook events popping up all the time.

You might work as hard as I did when I was pregnant, in a super high pressured job, working long hours and you were only ever as good as your Monday sales (which even when they were good, were never good enough!)
There are sleepless nights even before the real pregnancy insomnia kicks in.
You spend your weekend catching up with friends that you never get to see in the week because you work late. Cramming every last minute in your diary full of things to do before the baby comes, like some kind of baby bucket list, because let’s face it, you won’t have a life when then the baby comes right?! 

That’s so true! It’s often hard to remember the last time you did absolutely nothing isn’t it? This must add to more anxiety in the lead up to the birth, how does that effect birth?

Fear and anxiety, although normal can be your worst enemy when you give birth. When we are frightened or stressed, even at a subconscious level. Our bodies go into fight flight or fear mode, releasing adrenaline into the body which tells our brain that it isn’t safe to birth our baby. This can slow or stall the birthing process leading to a longer, more painful labour and contributing to a less positive birthing experience over all.  

FullSizeRender_2.jpg


But there’s another way… we hear you say. Staying calm, confident and most importantly relaxed throughout your birth means that your body is able to work efficiently. A big focus of Katie’s pregnancy yoga and hypnobirthing sessions is the art of relaxation. She combines guided relaxations with tailored yoga asanas and blissful Yoga Nidra to help mamas-to-be sink into a deep state of relaxation with their subconscious wide open. This is a great time bring in the techniques of hypnobirthing and work on confidence building affirmations, visualisations and building some positive stories around birth. 

Other than the obvious reasons, why is it so important that we practice this level of relaxation birth in the lead-up and during birth?

When you’re in your natural, calm rest and digest response all your wonderful birthing hormones can flow easily through the body - like Mother natures’ pain relief, easing the sensations (this assuming there are no special circumstances for Mum and baby where they might need an extra helping hand). 

When we are relaxed and calm, oxygenated blood flows around our body and is directed to the centre of the body, to the reproductive organs and the digestive system. Exactly where we want it to be going in pregnancy and birth! The uterus is a BIG muscle and muscles need oxygen to work efficiently. 
It also means that those yummy birthing hormones I mentioned, that will help make our labour more comfortable and can get to work quickly on the day.

And I imagine the baby likes this too?

Yes, relaxation in pregnancy is a great way to connect with your baby and indulge in some pre-natal bonding. When we slow down and withdraw from what is happening in the outside world, we can become more aware of our baby’s movements and this is a great way to start that Mama baby bonding process.

If you’d like to know more about the amazing benefits of relaxation in pregnancy then get in touch, or better still, come along and see for yourself! Katie hosts a regular Monday evening pregnancy yoga class down at SLC and would love to see you there.

Hypnobirthing is for life not just for pregnancy!