I never went to any kind of antenatal class when I was pregnant with my first. I don't know if it was because I was naive in thinking I knew what I needed to when it came to being in labour (turns out I knew nothing) or I those kind of classes just weren't for me... either way I got through it (just) but it would have been handy to really prepare myself for what was ahead.
This time around I am arming myself with as much information as possible to achieve the birth I hope to have. And I'm starting with The Calm Birth School...
The Calm Birth School was founded by hypnobirthing expert and celebrity practitioner, Hollie de Cruz, and writer, mentor and pregnancy coach Suzy Ashworth. It is a four week video program consisting of 13 bite sized video classes, 5 MP3s, a full course handbook and ongoing support in a private student's group. Classes will be delivered to your inbox once a week for four weeks, or you can get through them as quickly as you like via the online member's area.
I had a few questions for Hollie:
Why should I choose TCBS hypnobirthing program? I know how to breathe, surely there can't be much more to it than that?
It's funny, because when we think about breathing, most people (in western culture at least) consider it just something we do to 'not die'. The breath is so much more than that though, and at The Calm Birth School we will coach you through learning to use your breath as a very powerful and effective tool. Like any new skill, it requires good technique and lots of practice, and this is what we'll be setting you on the path of on our course. All of our muscles need blood and oxygen to work, and the uterus (our birthing muscle) is no exception. The breath plays a vital role in this, and also in keeping our baby calm and happy in the womb. When we are scared, we tense up and our breathing becomes shallow and less effective. That causes infinite problems in birth and leads to women having traumatic and painful experiences, because their minds and bodies are not aligned. Alongside the breath (there are 3 simple but specific breathing techniques to master), you'll learn about the physiology of birth - so what's happening in the body, and how to control the hormones you release on the day to work in harmony with your muscles and your baby. You'll learn how to create the perfect birth environment, how to communicate with your caregivers, a massage technique and some highly effective self hypnosis tools. And when we say hypnosis, we don't mean pocket watches and dog barks, we mean accessing a deep state of relaxation with a heightened state of mental awareness.
I have an elective c-section planned, will this course still be relevant to me?
Absolutely. People tend to think hypnobirthing is very prescriptive and is all about home births with joss sticks and an Enya play list. This isn't true. Whilst we're not against a bit of Enya at The Calm Birth School, our aim is to prepare and empower women for a positive birth experience, and we certainly don't sell an idea of the "perfect" birth, because frankly, there's no such thing. Every woman is different, and we are giving women the confidence to find out what birth is best for them and then prepare for it in the most wholesome way possible. It's about making informed choices, knowing what those choices are, understanding the process of birth and learning to work with the body rather than against it. It's also about taking charge of what you can control, letting go of what you can't, and navigating the turns of your baby's birth on the day. I planned a home water birth and had an emergency c-section, yet it was still the most calm, empowering and positive experience of my life because I trusted the process and had the tools I needed to enjoy it.
Do I need to study the program with anyone else or can I do it alone?
The Calm Birth School course is designed for women and their birth partners, so ideally you will watch it together. We often underestimate the role of the birth companion, but their job is very important. They are there to create and maintain a safe, calm space where mum feels relaxed enough to focus on herself and her baby. And the beauty of The Calm Birth School program, being video based, is that if it's a struggle to make time to watch all the videos together, you can both watch them when it suits you and as many times as you like...even in different parts of the world if necessary! With all that said, we've worked with lots of mums who have chosen to birth on their own or with someone other than their partner. Again, we are all about tailoring our support to your needs during pregnancy and birth, and a lot of this is done through our private students group on Facebook. It's the feature that sets apart The Calm Birth School and bridges the gap between attending in-person classes and just reading a book - think of it as distance learning with hand holding!
I feel very anxious after my first birth, once I've finished the course will my mindset be different? I feel very scared my second birth will end up the same way.
This is TOTALLY normal and something we hear a lot amongst our second time mums. We're not asking you to park your fears or pretend they don't exist, because that would be naive and short sighted. With previous traumatic experiences, or even the conditioning we get from the media about how awful birth is going to be, The Calm Birth School places a lot of importance on acknowledging and releasing fears around birth. Every woman's anxieties are different - ranging from poo to death - and every fear is as valid as the next. We will coach you through getting in touch with these fears and then do some very specific release work through one of our five MP3s - the Fear Release MP3. We also have an amazing Powerball MP3 which is a great one to use whenever you have a wobble, or when someone throws you off course with a haphazard comment or an unhelpful experience, which let's face it, they probably will!
The course costs £150 but purchase for the rest of May for only £69! Be quick! Buy online today at www.thecalmbirthschool.com/course
I've started the free sessions and already I'm feeling calmer so I'm looking forward to the whole course. I use the breathing exercises to help when I start feeling anxious about my pregnancy and they've worked like magic. I really recommend heading over to TCBS if you're pregnant or planning on having a baby, both Hollie and Suzy are lovely and are on hand to ask any questions you may have about the course.