In this series we're profiling the absolute legends who help educate you about pregnancy and birth, and lovingly assist in bringing your babies into the world.
We came across Prepared to Birth on Instagram and loved Natalie's informative yet personal touch. Prepared to Birth, based in Mona Vale on Sydney's Northern Beaches, offers in-person and online hypnobirth classes and her website also has plenty of online resources available.
Natalie Andrew from Prepared to Birth.
Here Natalie tells us a bit more about Prepared to Birth and answers some common questions she often gets from her clients.
Thanks for being the first cab off the rank, Natalie! Tell us a bit more about Prepared to Birth.
I created Prepared to Birth in 2018. We offer women and their birth partners Positive Birth Classes for both natural and caesarean birth. I am passionate about giving my couples evidence-based knowledge, tools and support so that they approach their birth feeling excited and prepared no matter what turn their birth takes.
Being informed is such an amazing tool to ease pre-birth anxieties. Can you tell us a bit more about you and how you got into childbirth education?
During my first pregnancy I was lucky enough to have a lady mention hypnobirth to me. I had never heard of it before and thought it sounded a bit "hippyish", but this lady raved about it! She said she "loved giving birth and couldn't wait to do it again!". It was the first time I had ever heard someone talk about birth positively! Even though I thought she must have just been lucky, I thought what do I have to lose and signed up for a course at 26 weeks.
I went on to have the most incredible, life-changing birth experience. I have never felt as strong and proud as I did the day I gave birth to my little boy, Freddy. As someone who had experienced high anxiety throughout my life, the course gave me incredible tools and techniques to help me deal with stress and anxiety that I have continued to use well into my motherhood journey. Only two months after my son was born I signed up to become a childbirth educator so I could share these amazing skills with other couples.
Natalie and little Freddy, what a cutie!
Using your experience to help other women. We are all for that! So what are the top things you want people to know about hypnobirthing?
The main purpose of hypnobirth is to help you to understand how your body works during labour and to learn tools to help you stay calm and relaxed so your body can produce hormones that will help to promote labour such as oxytocin and endorphins. The aim is to help you avoid going into the fight or flight response as you will produce different hormones in this state, such as adrenaline, which can inhibit the labour process. We say "Hypnobirth won't teach you HOW to birth - your body already knows how to do that. Hypnobirth teaches you how to switch off your thinking brain so your body can do what it needs to do."
Making space to let your body do what it needs to do. YES, we love that. Give us a quick run-down of your course.
At a high-level the course covers the following:
1. KNOWLEDGE - The different stages of labour, how your uterus and hormones works, pain relief options, caesarean delivery, different types of induction methods and the benefits and risks. We also cover how to write birth preferences, delivery of the placenta, breastfeeding, what to expect in the first 6 weeks and what to do if baby comes in the car!
2. TOOLS + TECHNIQUES - Self-hypnosis, breathing techniques for the different stages of labour, affirmations, light-touch massage, acupressure points, fear release, labour positions, how to optimise baby's position, setting up the birth environment and aromatherapy. We also watch birth videos (homebirths, hospital births, induced births, caesareans and water births).
3. SUPPORT - Hypnobirth puts a BIG focus on the role of your birth partner and gives them lots of tools and techniques fo that they can provide practical support during labour. We also discuss the importance of choosing a care provider who aligns with your birth preferences.
4. PREPARATION - The work in Hypnobirth begins when the course ends. There is a lot of preparation that goes into the birth including daily practice such as listening to the hypnosis tracks and daily affirmations.
And what are some of the most common questions your clients ask you?
Is hypnobirth just for natural births and can I still use pain relief if I'm hypnobirthing or having a caesarean?
The answer = ABSOLUTELY! A positive birth experience is different for every woman. Hypnobirth focuses on mindset, helping you to stay calm and relaxed no matter what turn your birth takes. We also have a course specifically for caesarean and recovery. There are lots of things you can do to be an active participant in your c-section and make it a beautiful experience for you, your partner and your baby.
When should I do the course?
We recommend doing the course between 26 and 32 weeks. The earlier the better so you and your partner have lots of time to practice all the techniques you will learn.
What's the 'hypno' part of hypnobirth?
I sometimes wish it wasn't called Hypnobirth because I think it turns a lot of people off! Hypnosis is only a very small part of the course and no, you won't be clucking like a chicken, and yes you will be awake and conscious during your birthing experience! We teach you to get into a calm and relaxed state very, very quickly using hypnosis to help you produce labour promoting hormones and ensure you are sending lots of oxygen down to your baby and down to your uterus (which is made up of muscles and needs lots of oxygen and blood to work effectively!).
How does hypnobirth differ from other childbirth education courses?
The main differences are:
1. We put a BIG focus on your birth partner and give them practical tools and knowledge to help support and advocate for you during labour.
2. We use hypnosis to help you stay in a calm and relaxed state no matter what turn your birth takes.
3. We have a Positive Birth Course specifically for caesarean sections.
4. We also put a big focus on releasing fear. Alongside focusing on the physical side of labour we place as much emphasis on the mental and emotional side of birth.
5. We use up-to-date resources - no birth or breastfeeding videos from the 80s!
What advice would you give to a first-time mum to be?
My goodness - there is an over-abundance of advice for mums! My main advice would be - don't "wing" the birth as your birth experience can have a big impact on your postpartum journey. Often a positive birth experience has nothing to do with the way your baby is born and everything to do with how you are made to feel through the experience. There are tools, knowledge and support available to help you feel confident and prepared no matter what. Once bub arrives - put down the parenting books/Dr Google and connect with your baby. Be patient and kind to yourself and your partner. You are both learning and neither of you knows better than the other. Sometimes mums can tend to take over, but it's important that you give each other the opportunity to gain confidence with this new little person- even if you think you have a better settling technique or you can do it faster :)
I'm guilty of so many of the above myself Natalie! So much good advice for first-timers. So we're in this crazy world right now, how has COVID affected your work?
I think COVID has made my work more important than ever. I have never seen the levels of stress and anxiety in birthing women as I have observed over the past few months. It has reiterated the importance for me of focusing not just on the physical, but also on the mental side of birth and postpartum preparation. A number of hospitals have cancelled their birth classes causing a lot of confusion and worry for birthing women. As a result, I've been busier than ever, but I am glad that I was able to continue offering my courses online during the initial lockdown.
Totally agree! Giving birth is such a highly charged experience, physically, emotionally and spiritually. We feel for every woman out there who has the added burden of going through their pregnancy and birth during lockdown and restrictions. Thankfully there are still places like Prepared to Birth that can offer them childbirth education, online options and peace of mind.
So what are your go-to product recommendations for pregnant women?
I think it's so important that mums prepare for their postpartum care - not just their baby's care! Often in those first few weeks - baby is priority numero uno at the expense of mum who has just gone through one of the most life-altering experiences she will ever go through - so make sure you are eating well and getting the support you need.
I give all my mums Raspberry Leaf Tea to start drinking from 32 weeks* to help with labour preparation and also give them birth affirmation cards to help them prepare for a positive birth.
In terms of breastfeeding, the Breastie Milk Saver Bottle is great - so that you make sure you aren't wasting any of that precious milk! You can attach it to the side your baby is not feeding from and it will catch all your excess milk as your letdown kicks in, so you can save it and build up some extra supply.
The Breastie Milk Saver from Made to Milk captures all that milky gold!
Natalie, thank you so much for taking the time to share and answer some questions. How do people get in touch with you to learn more about Prepared to Birth?
I am based in Mona Vale on Sydney's northern beaches. To find out more about my in-person or online Positive Birth Class you can visit my website www.preparedtobirth.com.au. For birth tips and positive birth stories you can follow me on Instagram @preparedtobirth.
We hope you enjoyed our first Profesh Sesh. If you're interested in being interviewed, sharing your knowledge and profiling your business please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is the mumma advice network in action!
*Please discuss use of Raspberry Leaf tea with your healthcare professional.