On Thursday I attended, courtesy of Oh Me Oh Mama, their Mummy to Be; Pre Natal event, held at the fabulous Lifestyle Collective space in Allerton. Nope, I am not a mummy to be again (not just yet). During this event, the host, the key speakers and I all declared our love for the internet and social media. How lucky are we to have this amazing world at our finger tips! Without social media, the fabulous people who made this event possible, mums to be, nan’s to be, aunties to be; would not have been in this room together sharing stories and helping each other. Not only was there food, drink (soft drinks) and amazing insight from the speakers – the lucky mums to be got pampered by Rachel and her team from Lifestyle Collective. It was 3 wonderful hours!

I have been asking the lovely Alishia Thomas, if I can share a blog about her business and story for sometime. Busy schedules have caught us out!
Alishia is a mum of one, breastfeeding advocate, founder & owner of Oh Me Oh Mama and absolute girl boss.
I first met Alicia in 2012, networking in the same groups when we were working for city centre based companies. (I’m now on maternity leave, while Alishia is rocking her own business).
I was so lucky to be able to attend this event, meet inspirational influencers, professionals, and share on my blog. Thank you Alishia, your ambitious and tenacious ideas brought us this fabulous evening and my opportunity to meet Hannah Horne and Rebecca Rowley.

During the event Hannah Horne shared with the group her experience in Perinatal Mental Health, Midwifery and all things pregnancy, birth and motherhood. To be honest, I could have sat and listened to Hannah all day on this vast topic. It was a breath of fresh air to hear the honesty about how woman can feel post baby! Hannah has around 18 years experience working in the NHS. Hannah has two son’s aged 5 & 7. After her second Baby, Hannah decided to blog about the transition post baby called ‘When a baby is born, so is a mother’.
Hannah began her passionate talk to all the mummies to be about the transition from ‘Woman to Mother’. So relevant, and for me, relatable. Hannah was addressing all things we can struggle with as a new Mum, struggles which can lead to post natal depression. Which, as women, we do not want to admit to post natal depression, or talk about this at all.
I had tears in my eyes listening to Hannah’s own real struggle with transition from woman to mother. Its real, why do we hide from it? This was a breath of fresh air for every new mum, and mum to be in the room!
Hannah, thank you for being brave. Being a realist. By sharing your wisdom, you have helped me, and you have inspired all those mummies to be not to be afraid. We can overcome any struggles with the help of the amazing people around us. We just need to talk.

It was inspirational to meet and chat with Rebecca Rowley, owner of Beau Baby, Mum to little Ralph and two stepsons Oscar & Harvey. Rebecca made the decision to leave the NHS after 20 years as a paediatric nurse. Rebecca setup Beau Baby back in 2015, specialising in supporting women through fertility, pregnancy, birth and post natal. This is achieved through group sessions and private sessions in areas such as pregnancy relaxation, hypnobirthing and fertility massage therapy. Rebecca was so passionate in what she was delivering, watching the group become relaxed listening to insights in to hypnobirthing and pregnancy relaxation was amazing. The aim of this event was achieved when all mummies to be enjoyed a relaxation at the end of the event. Rebecca took the group in to a deep hypnosis, everything I love about hypnobirthing! Watching was inspiring and made me excited about my own future teaching hypnobirthing…thank you Rebecca.

Image: Rebecca Rowley & Hannah Horne.

There is no other events in Liverpool that offers what Oh Me Oh Mama created last Thursday, I for one hope there is more when I have baby number two! Watch this space for the next one, I will be shouting about it from the roof tops…

R x

It has been around 12 weeks since I published my last blog installment, so it has been an absolute treat to put pen to paper and document my labour journey.

Back in February I posted ‘Part 1’ of my birth story, which outlined my Hypnobirthing journey. This covered; What is Hypnobirthing? Why I was using the method. Which Hypnobirthing mentor I was following. Rounding off with my labour worries.

I promised ‘part 2’ would be the birth, start to finish – no holding back!! So here it goes… (side note & spoiler, if you are concerned about reading a birth ‘horror’ story, I assure you my story is happy one with the odd ‘ouch & wow’ moment, so keep reading!)

Wednesday 3rd May
I discussed my due date rarely and generally shrugged the date off – how many people go ‘on time’ after all? My mind was focused on being overdue and staying relaxed, in the hope I would not need to be induced. This was not meant to be… On Wednesday 3rd May, Bump and I were involved in an unfortunate road traffic accident.
YES, I KNOW, SHIT!! I could not believe it. I was 39 weeks (to the day), it was really the last thing I needed to happen. I was distraught. Bump and I were fine, but the other person had a small injury (nothing major). The whole situation shook me up. I was breathalysed and had to give a statement (all totally routine). The police officer dealing with the accident was great, he came to my home to carry out the statement, mainly so I could chill out and get a cuppa. When we arrived at my house, things just felt different – I was experiencing mild pains and discomfort I had not had before. I ran upstairs to the bathroom before giving my statement to discover my mucus plug had come away (this remains in place during pregnancy to prevent infection. Generally, after coming away, labour is not far behind!) I thought – please, not right now. I was hungry, tired and emotional; my head was not in the game to have a baby right now. I didn’t say a word to anyone and casually gave my statement. My Mum and Dad were round at our house as they were having dinner with us that evening (sorry again Mum and Dad, as you didn’t get your food!) As soon as the police left I told Liam (my husband) the situation – he took me straight to the Liverpool Women’s Hospital where I was planning to have our newbie. On arrival, given the accident, the baby and I were monitored straight away for two hours. The pain and discomfort I was experiencing was actually contractions, around 10 minutes apart and relatively mild. The contractions eventually eased off and I was sent home and ordered to relax. The midwives expected to see me back within 48 hours to have this baby. I was all kinds of emotions; excited tears, tired tears, upset tears. I needed rest, lots of rest, sleep, food & fluids. I needed to get my head ready to have our baby!

Thursday 4th May
The next day, my Mum chilled with me all day; we watched movies and ate food all day. I had a much needed long bath and the weird thing was, I didn’t even have a niggle all day. This was the perfect day for Hypnobirthing relaxations. I listened to my mindfulness audios in the bath, practiced my breathing – it was perfect!

Friday 5th May
Friday arrived, after a much needed (amazing) night’s sleep, I still had no niggles or pain. BUT, I just knew this was it. This was my last day before becoming a mama. During the day I took a lovely walk in the gorgeous Spring sunshine with my friends Steph & Louise. Afterwards I went for a meal with Liam at one of our favourite locals. When we got home, following Hypnobirthing advice, any film or TV that might get me anxious was off the cards. So we settled down to watch The Hangover, a much needed laugh!
CUE THE NIGGLES & PAINS, THIS IS DEFINITELY IT… I stayed relaxed, didn’t say a word to Liam and we went to bed.

Saturday 6th May
Sometime around 1am, I woke up with the contractions after only one hour sleep (very light sleep). I still didn’t wake Liam to tell him, I wanted him to get as much sleep possible. I concentrated on my ‘up’ breathing and ‘up’ visualisations that I had learnt through our hypnobirthing training. Around 4.30am I felt a sudden pressure and very obvious POP. My waters broke! Without thinking, I rolled off the bed to save the bed sheets. Which, to my surprise was a success, my waters were all over the floor. I got to the bathroom, soaked and a touch flustered. I cooled down and thought it was time to wake Liam up.
Liam jumped up, got dressed and within seconds was the most amazing birth partner. He was straight in to coaching my breathing and encouraging me to get a better position on my birthing ball. As soon as my waters broke my contractions were established at one minute long and 3 minutes apart. My aim was to stay home for as long as possible before heading in to hospital. All you mamas know, it is so hard to tell with your first baby what stage of labour you are in. I managed until 9.30am before deciding it was time to head in to hospital.

On arrival we were greeted by the amazing Olwin, a healthcare worker on the midwife led unit, luckily for us there was no wait for a room. I was straight through and examined at 3cm, admitted on to the unit and assigned a fabulous midwife named Jane. Jane felt like a Mum; reassuring, calm, cool and my kind of person. I was instantly settled. Jane also gave me a good sweep on examination (ouch!) and sent me for a walk around the hospital grounds. This really ramped up the contractions, WOW – they were intense. Liam and I grabbed some breakfast and a cuppa at the hospital canteen. I reluctantly had a piece of toast to help energy levels, by this point I was subtly trying to ride through my contractions. Around 11am we headed back to the labour room, I really needed to hit the gas and air – which by the way is great! I was handling the contractions well, Liam was doing an amazing job with the back rubs and baby K’s heartbeat was happy and well on every check.

12pm arrived and my next examination. 3cm…STILL 3cm. I had not progressed any further, to say I wasn’t a little upset would be a lie. I was literally shattered, running on one hour sleep and empty. I was handling the pain but needed a sleep. I agreed with Jane the best option would be a little pain relief to get much needed rest before established labour and the pushing phase.
From 2-4pm I was floating on diamorphine and I am forever grateful to Jane for her advice, no pressure, I needed this.
My birth plan outlined, ideally, no pain relief as I wanted to concentrate on Hypnobirthing solely. BUT, I also didn’t want to be a hero, if it was needed I will take it. The downside of the diamorphine for me was the sickness in the hour coming down from the drug. I struggled to focus on anything, my eyes would just roll to the back of my head, I was completely aware of this which was frustrating. Those two small hiccups aside, by 5pm, I was back in the game!

5pm was the shift changeover time, so no more Jane. I was gutted. We really thought we would have a baby on Jane’s watch. So, introducing Kelly, our second amazing midwife. Kelly was lovely, relaxed and adamant we were having the baby on her watch…I loved her! As soon as Kelly came on shift she examined me. 5cm!! YES YES YES…I was in established labour. Now get me to that birth pool. Kelly setup the best birth pool room for us; dimmed lights, tea light candles, setup our music, it was perfect. The pool itself was hot, total bliss, I was immediately relaxed. My contractions changed, I changed…I was enjoying it.
By 6.20pm I told Kelly the pressure in my back was unbelievable. It was almost an urge to push, which I resisted. Kelly asked to examine me again…on this exam I was between 8 and 9cm. This progress had happened in 20 minutes, I couldn’t believe it. I got straight back in the pool, back to a crouched position, with my head lying forward on a rolled up towel. Liam was constantly talking me through my Hypnobirthing breathing and rubbing my back. I was taking gas and air and was no longer on any form of pain relief (as I would not be able to use the pool). I was feeling in control and great!

7pm, I was ready to push. No further examination was carried out. Kelly trusted I knew my body and told me to start with a small short push. Kelly was using a mirror to check on my progress, I remember hearing “I can see a head, and lots of hair”. Liam was talking me through the ‘down’ breathing and visualisations, which was a great focus for me. I am convinced the baby would have been out quicker, but I took the pushing phase nice and slow to help minimise any damage, down below!
Around 7.30pm, the head was out, hoorah! I slowly tipped my body to a position on my back with my head resting on the pool side. On my next push, the shoulders were out. I reached down and grabbed under our little babies arms and pulled the rest of her tiny body out and up straight on my chest. It was so calm, surreal and perfect. So perfect we didn’t even look or ask what the sex was. After a couple of minutes the midwives asked if we would like to know what we had. Liam and my mum were behind me, looking down at our little bundle of perfection, we couldn’t believe it…a little girl. Bobbi Rae Knowles, born 06/05/2017 at 7.36pm weighing 6lb 7oz.

Another midwife, Rachel, led the delivery of Bobbi, she was amazing and with me every step of the way post-delivery.

Now 10 weeks on, every day I want to rewind to that moment in the pool. The whole 9 months I was pregnant I prepared for the delivery. I longed for a drug free (almost), pool birth delivery. I did it!! I could not be prouder.

I owe a lot of thank you’s to Liam, my Mum, the midwives at Liverpool Women’s Hospital & Hypnobirthing. The combination of the four meant my birth was nothing short of perfect.

I hope you stuck with my birth story and see not all birth stories are horror stories.
‘Part 3’ of ‘The Birth’ will be a (very) honest account about the hours post birth. The things all new Mum’s should really be prepped on.

To end, some pictures of our beautiful Bobbi Rae in her first week!

R x

So here I am, on maternity leave, I officially finished work on Wednesday 12th April…a strange old day. I worked remotely for the day, no colleagues were around, all my work had been handed over prior to this date. Late afternoon approached and I just logged off and left the restaurant as normal, no one around to say bye to. My job requires a lot of travel, so we don’t have a dedicated office that we work in, we don’t see the same people day to day. So this really was an odd feeling, walking out the door and not working again for 10 whole months.

My maternity leave started well, straight in to Easter Bank Holiday weekend; spent with family and friends…this was all pretty normal! Tuesday came around, Liam went back to work, then the realisation hit. No alarm, nowhere to be, no emails to respond to, no work phone (the husband hid it!), no deadlines for design or print work. At the risk of sounding crazy (and ungrateful), I didn’t like it, the feeling of no responsibility. I felt sad.

Your responsibilities to get your own ass up and ready for the day pretty much starts in high school. I got my first job when I was about 15 years old. Then I went to university (OK we slack off here a bit, we take the piss ever so slightly in this stage of life). Then I graduated, I got a full-time job, started building a career. In my case that direction was hospitality, events & marketing.
NOW, here I am almost one year married, 3 weeks off turning 30 years old and for the first time in 15 years I’m twiddling my thumbs, no place to be in the morning…and I’m bored!

The list of things the maternity pros advise you to do…
1. ‘Nest’ – they say
2. Relax
3. Sleep
4. Watch a box set
5. Watch movies
6. Read a book
7. Enjoy lunch with friends
8. Go for a walk

The truth is, I’m struggling, I love to be busy. I need to have somewhere to be, people to see. Maybe I’m needy, but this sitting around just isn’t for me.
One thing is for sure, daytime TV is not for me. I have discovered that I detest Eamonn Holmes and his annoying wife Ruth, they are almost as awful as the cackling group of women they call the Loose Women.
SO…I am just over 2 weeks in to my mat leave; I have exhausted lunch dates, I am on to my third book, I have watched the whole season of 13 Reasons Why and watched a lot of movies. HELP, I am losing my mind!

Then I remember, the whole reason why I am off, why I am sat here through the week hating on Eamonn Holmes (and his wife) and binge watching Netflix Originals. In 12 days, we are due to have a tiny human…shit the bed. I keep forgetting…and no it has not sunk in! So, let me take a moment to listen to one of my hypnobirthing calming tracks and just chill the f**k out a moment.

I gave myself about 3 and a half weeks ‘me time’ before the ‘due date’ (which I don’t fixate on, in fact I do not like being asked what my due date is). I took advice from others and took this time, to get work out of my system, re-programme, get our baby shit together…enjoy some R&R. Is this really enough time when you have dedicated around 50 hours per week to the same workplace for the past 5 years?
No is the answer…it really isn’t. Your mind needs so much longer to flip from work mode to doing nothing mode (well mine does), but how else do we do it? There is no magic button to get you ready for this stage of your life. No matter how much advice you get from your own mum, family & friends. This is one difficult transition and there is no one to help it along.
In around 12 days’ time, I am going to struggle to have any ‘me’ time for a very very very long time, so I really need to appreciate the precious moments on my own.

Who knows…give it 3 months and I may have forgot how to use Outlook and Excel and all I will be talking about is my baby blowing bubbles! Until then, I am learning to enjoy my own space, get our house ready for our new arrival and maybe watch a few more movies…

One thing this time has given me, is an opportunity to get my mind in a better place for the marathon ahead…LABOUR. Wish me luck.

R x

We are almost 33 weeks in (delighted…ecstatic…and ready for baby now!!) and this past fortnight has by far been the most testing! I still count myself as bloody lucky that I am having a great pregnancy; my only struggle or gripe is diet related. The harsh reality; bloating, heart burn, constipation, trapped wind (pain like no other), taste buds are all over the place.

Who is with me on all the above?

Pre-pregnancy, I was a serial breakfast skipper and now it is my key (and favorite) meal of the day. The cereal addiction kicked in around the end of my first trimester and hasn’t diminished…I live for this meal, I could eat cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner! However on a bad day, my appetite completely goes after breakfast. I feel full all day, uncomfortable and bloated. This is where taking your vitamins comes in so important to act as a supplement for what you simply cannot manage!
I suppose some woman are lucky during pregnancy and continue to enjoy meal times. I on the other hand have not really enjoyed a meal since I found out I was pregnant. My hormones have wreaked havoc on my taste buds, and I loved my food!

No one warned me how uncomfortable and claustrophobic you can feel around your middle now the baby is at a fair size, especially after eating. Your day to day activities will have a huge effect on this too. I generally work on a laptop sat down all day, which can be uncomfortable. Making a conscious effort to get up and walk around during work is so important now. Equally, during the evenings all I want to do is crash out after dinner; instead I need to stay up right or bounce on the magical ball.

This brings me to the ‘eating for two’ statement…for me, this is bullshit. I’m struggling to eat small portions through the day, never mind almost double my daily intake as some women talk about. I suppose it is a good thing, as I haven’t gained a huge amount of weight, just the bump.
Below are some of my diet highs and lows with some tips…

1. On the good days, I can go from feeling fine to ravenous in one minute flat. I go completely hypo and need to binge on anything high in carbs or sugar quick…a tip here, carry snacks (healthy biscuit/cereal bar/fruit)

2. Beware of the foods you thought were safe, they bloat you and give crippling pain. Not all fruits are our friend…beware of apples (I was addicted), but it seems I am struggling to break them down and they leave me in a world of pain for hours. After one apple, I am spending most evenings in down dog with no pants on – this is not sexy (I will just leave you with that image!)

3. Part and parcel of the pregnancy cravings, which I am sure most pregnant women have been worrying about is the one we just can’t seem to avoid; sugar, sugar & sugar! It really is so tempting to binge on beige and sweet foods for every meal, but resist the urge for your own good and your tiny human!
I went from no sweet tooth to wanting sweets & chocolate every day. But what is too much? …If your diet is balanced and you are taking your supplements I suppose a little treat in the evening doesn’t hurt. Twix bars and ice cream are my all-time favorite sweet to satisfy my sugar craving at the moment…boring?…maybe so, but whatever keeps a pregnant girl happy! Just keep it in moderation and don’t binge all day on Haribo.

In summary, the dos and don’ts…

My eating dos
-Drink plenty of water
-Allow your ‘naughty’ cravings in moderation. A sweet treat is fine as long you have a balanced diet.
-Take your prenatal vitamins, your body and baby need these to substitute the tough days!
-Eat high fiber foods; cereal (bran based)/wholemeal bread/potato/beans beans beans.

My eating don’ts
-Don’t over eat, you will regret this later (and ‘eating for two’ is not an excuse)
-Don’t over salt your food or eat overly salty packaged foods. This will dehydrate you and kick up your swelling (and that is not a good look)
-Avoid going to bed straight after food, go for a walk or bounce on that ball!
-Avoid too much spice…the heartburn is torture.

Everything in moderation is key…I hope you are enjoying your foods more than I am and good luck!!

R x

…“It all begins and ends with your mind, what you give power to, has power over you if you allow it” – LB

I personally have always felt terrified by the thought of labour. I have sat and researched at length the options of a C-section or natural birth (reading countless stories online), and the only conclusion we come to is…”F*@K, the only way out is pain.” Many mothers-to-be see a C-section as the ‘easy’ way. I ask, why would you want major abdominal surgery? I applaud the women who have braved the C-section through choice or no choice of their own. This seems by far the tougher option.
Intervention is what I was always most afraid. Each story I read about mums who have been induced as they reach 10+ days over the ‘DUE DATE’, horrified me! I have taken the method not to disclose my due date to people when asked, the pressure is too much. I would rather my phone wasn’t a hotline on this specific date with ‘are you in labour yet??’. For all expectant mama’s, do your research about being induced and your so called ‘due date’, I really advise knowing how this act of intervention can affect your labour experience. If I can avoid this I will – we have other options!

When I found out we were having Baby K, I was guilty of reading the labour horror stories & watching clips of One Born Every Minute on YouTube (warning: DO NOT DO THIS, you are guaranteed to sweat and panic).
…Then I heard about the wonder that is Hypnobirthing…hallelujah!

I started researching early on by following other hypno-birthing advocates and Mother’s on Instagram. Instagram is my life line for positive baby and pregnancy advice, the honesty of other mama’s is incredible and can be rather emotional!
Hypnobirthing (in a nut shell) starts and ends with a positive & supportive environment, with a strong understanding from you birth partner. I am lucky and grateful the husband of mine is for the pros of hypnobirthing and supports my decision. It also helps me that he is a sponge and doesn’t forget what I tell him!
For those who are new to this birthing method, I imagine a quick summary could have some feeling sceptical.

I will be honest, at first I was unsure how effective hypnosis could be in relieving such pain. Then I read The Hypnobirthing Book by Katherine Graves (KG Hypnobirthing).
Before studying, I was judgmental and dismissive about certain aspects of Hypnobirthing; such as changing certain words to help my birthing environment. Take the word ‘pain’ for instance, how will changing this word affect my mind? –
Someone asks you, ‘are you in pain?’ and you automatically try and think of somewhere on your body that is hurting, try this instead as ‘are you comfortable?’ – and the two questions (with the same meaning) have a completely different affect on your thoughts.
Fast forward to now, I advocate this approach! Words mean everything, and this is the starting point to Hypnobirthing.

The Hypnobirthing Book has been a huge learning curve about; our nervous system, positions for birth, pelvic floor exercises, perineal massage, the stages of labour…the list goes on. All leading to helping you remain calm and relaxed.
I have had several mama’s get in touch hailing Hypnobirthing as a gift to them; some having not had a great first birth before they knew about Hypnobirthing, then a beautiful calm second birth after using the method.
My community midwife is all for the benefits of hypnobirthing which I find incredibly supportive. My friend Katy, also a midwife, highly regards the method and was the first person to really talk to me about the option – so thanks Katy!

The key is to switch off from the outside and other opinions, be relaxed knowing that no labour story is the same and you are about to write your own story.
I already credit Hypnobirthing in helping me during the labour count down. I am no longer afraid that my body ‘can’t’, all negativity towards going in to labour has disappeared. If I don’t get the calm experience I hope for, I really cannot be bitter – I know I have tried my hardest to prepare my body and mind!

As you read the above, you will remind yourself that I personally have not experienced labour yet, so what could she know?
With around 10 weeks to go, my mind and body is positive and ready. Call me crazy, but I am really looking forward to the experience.
I prepare my mind with the KG Hypnobirthing audios and book, and I keep my body prepared with yoga.
Advice taken from The Hypnobirthing book, I have the following mantra in my diary, something I read each day “My mind & body are ready for my baby’s arrival. My birth will go exactly as it should”

I hope Part 2 of my labour story will be a positive account about how I kicked labours ass! – I do promise an honest account whatever our story is to be (no holding back)!

Wish us luck…

R x

The Hypnobirthing Book and audios are available at: https://www.kghypnobirthing.com/books.html