I didn't cope well with early parenthood and I felt very isolated. I'd never really explored what having a baby might mean to me and the impact and changes in priorities that would occur in my life. It was a steep learning curve. As well as coping with many life changes that occured simultaneously, my baby wasn't a good sleeper and I developed postnatal depression.
Four years later I decided to have a second baby and to do it differently. I made sure I explored my wider options and at the end of my pregnancy I booked an independent midwife. The whole experience was so totally different and I loved it! I had the opportunity to build a meaningful relationship with my midwife (thank you Corinne!) and I knew that when I was in labour I would be cared for in a way that suited me and that was respectful of my preferences and dignity. I felt encouraged, cared-for and able to trust my birthing instincts without distraction or anxiety, which helped me stay calm, focused and in control.
Following this experience I decided I wanted to do something to help make a difference to others so I began training with the NCT to become an Antenatal Teacher. By now my son was 4 and my daughter was 6 months old. The course was a big commitment over the next 3 years. NCT practitioner training remains the "gold standard" to this day with its rigorous and comprehensive courses now university validated. I qualified in 1998 and gained my first NCT Licence to Practise, which must be renewed annually. I have now taught antenatal courses to over a thousand pregnant women and partners. In 2005 I completed the necessary work to become an NCT Advanced Antenatal Teacher (now NCT Excellent Practitioner) and in 2010 I gained the University of Bedfordshire Diploma of Higher Education in Antenatal Education (Level 5 - now Foundation Degree) to bring my qualification in line with newer NCT recruits.
Meanwhile, I had also recognised that I wanted to be better at acknowledging clients' feelings about birth and become more confident at reacting to anxieties and experiences. I took a one-year Certificate in Counselling Skills but then decided to go on to qualify as a Counsellor by taking the University of Winchester 2-year Diploma of Higher Education in Counselling (Level 5). I'm proud to say I got a Distinction! I spent two years volunteering as a Counsellor at the University of Southampton's counselling service, counselling students and staff, and also volunteered with the NHS for a few months. I now run my own small private practice. I am an accredited member of the National Counselling Society (NCS) and as such am registered with the Professional Standards Authority (PSA).
I truly believe that much of how a woman labours is closely linked to what's in her head - her fears, anxieties, inhibitions and beliefs about labour, birth and herself all have a massive influence on how her labour goes. We know that adrenaline inhibits the production of labour hormones. Culturally there seems to be a belief that labour doesn't work and that it is unbearable. In order for women to believe they can birth their babies they need to prepare their minds as well as their bodies. This is why I decided to train to become a Natal Hypnotherapy hypnobirthing practitioner, qualifying in 2012 (course accredited by Royal College of Midwives). Hypnobirthing is immensely helpful to women and their partners, enabling them to experience a calm and manageable birth, whether their experience is straightforward or more complicated. See my Positive Birth Stories page for the proof! Each hypnobirthing approach is slightly different. I chose Natal Hypnotherapy because I find it to be straightforward, honest, accessible to all and can be adapted and personalised to suit individuals.
With my colleague, Barbara, I have been working locally with midwives to raise the profile of hypnobirthing, so that midwives can better support women and their partners who want to use these skills during labour. I have run a hypnosis session for midwives at a local RCM study day and have worked annually with student midwives, teaching how to keep birth "normal" even in a high risk setting.
I am passionate about working with people when they are undergoing transition in their lives. I want to help clients to feel empowered to make choices and decisions that are right for them. I seek to support, not to instruct. I love working both with groups and on a one-to-one basis.
Everyone is affected in some way by the birth of a baby. The effects of a new life coming into the world are far-reaching, special and unique. Sometimes having a baby is challenging and sometimes it's a pure joy. Either way, I'd like to be there to support you.
If you're thinking of booking a course with me you might want a bit more background, so this is me! You can see my qualifications on a separate page.
I'm a mum of two, who are now adults and have flown the nest. When I was pregnant with my son, giving birth was something I wanted to understand and prepare for as well as I could. I did lots of reading and thinking but the labour itself, although "normal" on my notes, wasn't the empowering, amazing experience that I'd hoped it might be. Straight after giving birth I felt drained and wrung-out and it took me a little while to feel overwhelming love for my baby.