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Wednesday, 23 July 2014 16:57

Code Word

During transition in my last labor, I remember being on my hands and knees on the floor of the hospital and moaning, “I can’t do this...I need an epidural...I want an epidural.”

But I wasn’t serious, and even in those moments of intense discomfort I knew I wasn’t serious. I didn’t really want medicine.


Fortunately, my husband and nurse were completely on board with my all-natural birth preferences and didn’t rush to get me drugs when they heard me asking. However, after reflecting on that birth and looking ahead to my next one, I think there’s a lesson to be learned.


I need to be able to complain. I want my pain and strength to be validated when I am in labor. I realize now that when I asked for an epidural, I was really asking for my pain to be validated and for more support through the process of labor. It was a cry for both praise and help, not for pharmacological pain relief.


So this time, going forward, I’ve decided to designate a “code word” to be used if I need pharmacological pain relief. This will enable me to whine and complain, to ask for drugs or an epidural all I want, but without tempting my husband to call for them. Instead, I will use the “code word” if I begin to suffer and an epidural becomes necessary. Something like “code red!” or “bananas!” so that my labor team will know when I’m not kidding around anymore.


If my labor team hadn’t patiently urged me to keep going without drugs, I may well have ended up with an epidural when I asked for one. I don’t want to risk that again. I want easy access if I need medicinal pain relief, but I don’t want to get it unless I really need it. I think a code word will enable me to do just that.


Did you use a code word for your labor? Would you consider doing so? Share your thoughts with me!

Published in Labour
Tuesday, 25 February 2014 08:50

After Pains: Birth as a Crucible

You prepare painstakingly - religiously fervent, almost - for your birth.  You read, you study, you attend classes, you watch videos, you talk, you research, you listen, you question.  You form firm core beliefs about pregnancy, labor, birth, femininity and motherhood.  You have surrounded yourself with people you think will support you on your big day.  You have conquered your fear and are prepared to have the best birth you can.  You are ready to get your birth "right", whatever unpredictable course it takes, because getting your birth right simply means doing all you can to achieve the best birth possible. don't achieve your best possible birth.  You are left with the feeling that you and those around you didn't do all you could to attain your goals.  You have failed at getting it right - not because of your outcome, but because of how you got to that outcome.

Your hopes and dreams are shattered and you grieve your terrible loss.  All that effort, that preparation, that hope, all that feel like it was completely wasted.  You are left with so many unanswered questions. Why and how, why and how, why and how - you can't stop wondering.  

So you search for peace, for answers as to why this happened to you.  How could a seemingly normal birth go so far off track from what you wanted?  Was baby's head tilted just a fraction wrong, complicating progress and intensifying labor pain? Were you maybe just a little dehydrated and unable to give it that little extra effort that you needed? Was baby's head and your pelvis just not a perfect fit?

The worst part is that you can't find out.  You rifle through your medical records, spending hours looking up definitions to decipher them.  Nothing. You research everything you can on the internet, searching for the answer somewhere.  

You talk.  You tell anyone who will listen your birth story in the hope that if you just say it enough times and get enough comfort that you will be able to come to terms with it.  But each time you tell it you just find yourself getting sadder and angrier. So you stop trying to tell it over and over.  You try to put it out of your mind.

You blame everyone involved - your nurse, doula, midwife, doctor...but it doesn't matter.  Not one of them remembers your birth.  You're the one left with the pain.  You're the one left with the unanswered questions.

And all the time you wonder why.  Why are you so upset?  You have a healthy baby.  You are safe.  Your body has healed from the beating you called birth.  It was fairly normal.  No crazy complications.  No coerced procedures.  No emergency C-section or anything quite so dramatic.  Just a normal birth gone a little off on an unexpected track. You feel traumatized, but how can you call it traumatic?  It is nothing compared to some of the scarring birth stories you've heard.  You can't even acknowledge and validate your pain.

You hope time will heal you.  You think the pain will fade, but it continues to haunt and hurt you.  Sometimes you dream about it.  Sometimes you still cry about it.  You can't stop trying to make sense of it.  It hurts you to see radiant new mothers and hear their successful birth stories.  Why couldn't that have been you? Your heart longs for a do-over, a second chance, while at the same time utterly panicking at the thought.  

You don't know if you will ever come to peace with it.  You don't know if you can ever stop wondering.  You don't know if you will ever stop grieving.  It still hurts. It hurts so much.  Why? What if? Should have…

You thought birth was going to be beautiful.  You thought you would come out of it empowered and strong.  Instead, you have come out defeated.  Scarred.  Depressed.  

But you take hold of your pain. It’s ok to feel hurt.  It’s ok to feel angry - for weeks, months, years.  You acknowledge that you had a horrible, painful experience. You let yourself feel hurt. You stop feeling guilty for not being able to “get over” your loss. You accept that your pain is real...and valid.  

You may not be able to control your pain but you can channel it.  After a while you use it to help you heal.  You let it drive you to prepare for a better birth next time around.  It motivates you to try to help other women avoid what you have gone through.

And slowly, you accept it. You learn to live with it. You learn from it. You know that it will always hurt. You know you will always wonder and wish. But if you can live through a struggle like this, you can face anything. You may not have gotten your birth “right”, but you are empowered. And birth is all about empowerment.

Published in Mom's Recovery
Sunday, 12 January 2014 06:31

More Natural Remedies for a Gassy Baby

In “Natural Remedies for a Gassy Baby,” it was discovered that probiotics, flat back squats, gripe water, and simethicone, along with easing into nursing when mom has a huge letdown, are all ways to combat gassiness in a baby. The remedies found in both articles may also assist with a baby suffering from constipation.


Whether those methods were attempted or not, there are yet more solutions to help relieve unwanted pressure and discomfort, such as a warm bath, massage, reflexology, and diet.


When a baby is consumed by gas, pain and discomfort typically follow, along with the inability to easily calm down. Babies do not understand what it is that is wrong and why there is pain, and can get worked up, which does not make matters any better for anyone in the house. Baby may then scream and cry, which could lead to additional gas. Relaxing the body is one way to help expel gas, and aside from cuddling, rocking, and nursing, a warm bath is great for helping baby to do just that. A warm bath can help with constipation as well, in the same regard.


Adding a bit of massage with the warm bath, flat back squats, or by itself is another way to help baby relax, and possibly stimulate the digestive system. Simply apply light pressure with your hand(s) starting at the baby’s navel. Using circular motions, work your way out from the navel to baby’s sides. Alternately, mom could start at the top of baby’s rib cage, move slowly (with light pressure) down to just below the navel, and swoop out to the sides - all in one motion. Do either of these, or try your own technique, for at least thirty seconds. Continue if baby is still upset or if gas has not been expelled. Giving a belly massage while baby is in a warm bath is much more effective, and even more relaxing for the tiny tummy.


Taking it even further, mom could try reflexology for relaxation and pain relief. There are certain pressure points on baby’s foot that, when applied with a bit of force, trigger areas of the body to react. This is best done when holding, rocking, nursing, bathing, or otherwise interacting with baby. If baby pulls a foot away, stop and try another method of relieving tension and gas, or try again in a few minutes. The middle of the bottom of the foot is the main area to touch to trigger relief and flow to the stomach. Gently apply pressure, or stroke the foot from right below the ball to the heel, or vice versa. Paying particular attention to certain area of the foot will help with a multitude of ailments, such as colic, eczema, and pain from teething.


A baby’s diet is just as important for development as it is for growth. If intake of nutrients is imbalanced, baby’s body will be as well. New and different foods can cause digestive issues as baby’s gut and intestines are not fully developed at birth. Over time, baby will be able to tolerate and properly digest more foods. Ensuring that baby is getting adequate amounts of fiber is just as important for helping to prevent diaper rash as it is in aiding digestion. Some fiber rich foods are avocados, beans, grains, brown rice, pears, artichokes, peas, raspberries, broccoli, and apples. If baby is old enough to eat solids, understand that it takes time for the body to learn how to digest, but changing what baby is eating can help. Giving the juice from fiber rich foods (juicing at home; not buying juice at the store as it typically contains unwanted ingredients and added sugars) can aid digestion, eliminating gas and constipation.

If mom is breastfeeding, an elimination diet may be in order if other natural remedies do not help. Try removing an irritant from the diet one at a time, for at least a few days. Foods like dairy, gluten, and caffeine are particularly harsh on baby’s digestive system, and a great place to start. It can take a few weeks for dairy to completely leave the body, and so, eliminating dairy for a length of time is the best way to determine it the culprit. After some time, try introducing the foods again (one at a time). If baby reacts, then the answer is clear. The same elimination diet can be used on an older baby/child already eating solids.

All in all, there are numerous natural remedies for relieving gas in babies. If baby is so gassy or constipated that nothing seems to help, consulting a healthcare provider may be the logical next step.

Published in Newborn Care
Saturday, 04 January 2014 01:25

Natural Remedies for a Gassy Baby

How does one relieve gas in a fussy baby? Remedies are being discovered so often that it can be hard to keep up. Moms are creative, quick-thinking, and fast at figuring out solutions to pesky problems, like an infant screaming because of gas pains. A few natural remedies for a gassy baby that are highly effective are probiotics, flat back squats, gripe water, and simethicone.


Babies are born with an inadequate amount of natural bacteria in the intestines, which inhibits proper digestion. The gut is so immature in babies that scientists say that the digestive system is still learning to process effectively for at least the first five to six months of life, making it even more important to be choosy with baby’s intake.


There are (allergen) foods that can make it difficult for baby to absorb necessary nutrients and digest well. The most common of which is dairy. Medicines also make it harder on a baby’s belly as well, like antibiotics and antacids (both of which can be very detrimental to the growth and development of baby’s esophagus and stomach). Some other reasons for gas could be that mom's letdown was heavy and fast, that the baby has eaten too quickly, excessive crying (as baby can bring in large amounts of air), or the introduction of new foods.



Babies with colic may have more bacteria in their intestines, gastrointestinal inflammation1, and/or an adverse reaction to ingredients in formula or foods. To combat the lack of healthy natural bacteria and the inability to digest well with the help of breastmilk, probiotics are recommended. Probiotics, “good bacteria”, have been proven to ease colic in babies treated2 and help to ease or eliminate irritable bowel syndrome, rotavirus, asthma, eczema, stomach ulcers, and food allergies, among other common ailments3.


Probiotics are typically given to infants and babies in powder form, which can be mixed in a bottle with breastmilk or formula, or given orally via a medicine dropper, after being mixed with a bit of water or other solution like breastmilk.

Flat Back Squats puts pressure on the abdomen, helping gas be released. The way to do this is to lay baby on his/her back. Gently bend the baby’s knees while lightly pushing them towards the baby’s chest. Or, lift the legs as you would do while changing the baby’s diaper, but pushing gently towards the baby’s chest. This can be done while holding the baby, too. Hold the position for a few seconds and release. Repeat, and continue to do so for a few minutes at the least (if you have not already successfully expelled gas). Make it a game for baby by smiling and talking while doing this. It may not calm baby down completely, but helps reassure baby that mommy wants to help. Place your hand on baby’s abdomen to better feel whether the flat back squats are helping.

Gripe Water, like everything else discussed in this article, is all natural and safe for babies of all ages. Gripe water is free of alcohol, wheat, soy, sodium bicarbonate, dairy, and animal products. Additionally, there are no known side effects. It is a simple mixture of fennel, peppermint, chamomile, ginger, blackthorn, aloe, caraway, lemon balm, and vegetable carbon, and could be made at home if preferred.. Gripe water aids in reducing gas, stomach pain and cramping, reflux, and hiccups by combating bacteria in the stomach.

Simethicone is used to relieve gas and bloating in people of all ages - from infant to elderly - because it is not absorbed into the bloodstream. It helps to break up gas bubbles currently residing in the stomach by decreasing their surface tension. In doing so, bubbles combine to form larger bubbles, which are more easily passed through the digestive system. Simethicone is not used to prevent gas; it simply speeds up the rate at which gas leaves the body, and may need to be used multiple times to ensure that all gas is expelled.

Sometimes, babies just need to burp. Often, though, it takes time for the gas to pass. Try to make baby feel as comfortable and secure as possible until then. Gas pains - as we all know - are horrible and can be especially scary for a baby.

Try to determine the reason for the gas and consider treating, fixing, or eliminating the root cause. For example, baby may become more irritable and gassy after nursing when mom has had a cup of coffee within the last couple of hours. Reducing the intake of caffeine will in turn lessens the likelihood of gas and discomfort being of concern for baby. If it is suspected that baby is gassy due to a hard letdown, mom can pump for a couple of minutes (until immediately following the letdown) prior to feeding baby, or allow baby to suckle until mom feels the letdown approaching, and remove baby until the milk has come in.

More Natural Remedies for a Gassy Baby




1Parker-Pope, Tara. "Probiotics for Colicky Babies". New York Times. 14 Feb 2011. 06 Jan 2014 <>


2 Anabrees, Jasmine. "Probiotics for the Management of Infantile Colic in Breastfed Infants." NCBI. US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. 2013 Jan-Mar. 06 Jan 2014. <>

3"Oral Probiotics: An Introduction." US Dept of Health and Human Services. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Jan 2007. 06 Jan 2014. <>

Published in Newborn Care
Monday, 11 November 2013 05:30

Natural Pain Relief – A guide to choices

There are many benefits to choosing natural pain relief during labor and birth, benefits for you and the baby. Labor can be shorter (compared to that of an epidural labor for example) and the recovery time can be smoother. Neither you nor baby will be left with the effects of some medical drugs that may leave you both sleepy and ‘spaced out’. Using natural pain relief can also help you to feel more in control during labor and fill you with empowerment which can help emotionally during labour as well as after the birth when reliving the experience. 

Aromatherapy – Smell is a powerful sense! It can remind us of childhood, a favourite day or moment in our past. It can make you feel safe and secure, relaxed or wide awake and refreshed. During labor and birth try using essential oils in an oil burner or on a tissue. Ylang Ylang, Lavender, Frankincense, Neroli and Chamomile are just a few that can help by reducing fear, relaxing body and mind and even promoting a happy attitude; they relieve depression and anxiety. Many can be used during pregnancy too to aid different ailments but do research this before hand and seek advice where appropriate from an aromatherapist; some oils cannot be used during pregnancy. It is also important to buy quality grade oils to get the best effects. There is some great information here about essential oils.

Breathing – Effective controlled breathing is very important during labor. Breathe long and slow through the pain, always being mindful of your breathing to keep in a relaxed state and to also avoid feeling sick and dizzy. 

Meditation – This really takes breathing to the next level and encourages an almost trance-like state where you go beyond the pain using visualisation methods. This can be harder to achieve than many other methods mentioned here but can greatly reduce pain if accomplished. Meditation is another branch of ‘hypnotherapy’ and ‘hypnobirthing’ mentioned below. A great way to stay focused is to repeat affirmations and connect with your baby.

Hypnotherapy – This is a form of self-hypnosis using visualisation and deep relaxation to conquer specific fears and concerns regarding labor and birth. This can be especially useful for those attempting breech and vaginal birth after caesarean section (VBAC).

 Hypnobirthing – This is a technique incorporating breathing and visualisation practices to have a more positive birth experience. This is a book and CD offering a fantastic hypnobirthing package.

Water – Just like a warm bath can ease menstrual cramps, being immersed in warm water can help ease labor pains while also relaxing the mother. You can choose to hire or buy a birthing pool (or a big paddling pool) to labor and give birth in. Baths are generally too small for the actual birth but can be used for much of labor if you prefer. Even a shower can be used as some find the warm water pulsating on the back or stomach during contractions helpful.

Keep moving and birthing positions – Anything goes here! Squatting is a useful position, especially during the final stage of labor as it opens up the pelvis to allow baby more room, this will also help mum to feel more comfortable. Also walking through contractions, being on hands and knees and even hanging from a strong bar, door frame etc. can all help one to handle the birthing pain!

Massage – Either to alleviate pain or even just to help mum relax. During posterior labor, a birth partner massaging the laboring woman’s lower back very hard during a contraction, helps combat some of the sharp pain.

Acupressure – This links quite nicely with massage. You can do this yourself but having a pair of extra hands will enable you to feel the benefits while having contractions. Points of the body are pressed during contractions and labour to help ease pain. Try to locate these specific points during pregnancy as a guide for labor; they should not be pressed hard during this time, as they can affect pregnancy and even bring along an early labor. Read more about it here. 

Heat – Using warm water, a hot compress (a cloth soaked in hot water and rung out for example) or a heated wheat bag placed either on the lower back or the stomach can really help ease discomfort.

Be vocal! – Women all labor differently and while some are quiet laborers many are not. It really does depend on the mum-to-be but being noisy can help them to get baby out! Low belly growls and hums can be particularly effective during a contraction. Or even try singing!

Healthy Pregnancy – This won’t come as a shock to you, labor is HARD work! The affect it has on our body is akin to that of running a marathon. With this in mind you must ‘train’ yourself to run that marathon of birth! Eat well (eat for energy not for weight loss), exercise daily but gently (yoga and walking are highly recommended) and try to keep a positive attitude throughout. Use those months of pregnancy to prepare for birth. The pain may still be there but your tolerance and endurance will be increased. Here are 10 tips to a healthy pregnancy

Reduce fear – During labor our clever bodies produce endorphins to help us deal with the pain. Fear makes your body produce adrenaline which counteracts the effects of the endorphins; fear makes muscles contract and pain stronger.  Reduce labor fear as much as possible during pregnancy and then try to relax (as much as is humanly possible) during labor. Of course that is easier said than done but making strong decisions during pregnancy about the birth will help you feel empowered, in turn this may help you control the fear. Here is an interesting read written by a midwife about fear during the birthing process.

Keep your goal in mind – You chose to use natural pain relief for a reason, keep that in mind when things get tough. It is very helpful to have a birthing partner (whether your midwife, husband/partner, doula etc.) who understands your choices and will help encourage you, especially during the later stages of labor when tiredness may become a factor.

Remember that the pain you feel is a positive pain (I wouldn't recommend saying that to a laboring woman, I will not be held accountable for her actions!); it is a means labor is coming to an end. It is the natural and intense waves that are helping your body push that little life out. As you ride the pain think about how your uterus is working together with your baby, in harmony, so that he can join you.

Saturday, 02 November 2013 10:14

Birth Made Easy Book Review

BIRTH MADE EASY is a complete hypnobirthing package as it comes with a hypnobirthing CD.  There are no classes to attend. The book is easy to follow and simply written.

This book is for the mum-to-be and for her partner. This book focuses on how you can take control of your mind and body so that birth becomes the straightforward process it is meant to be. You will learn to trust in the biology of your body – which is designed to give birth – and in the inner power of the unconscious mind to create healing, so your baby’s birth can become the truly magical experience it should be.

The techniques described in the book – self hypnosis, visualisation, different breathing methods, and the use of colours for healing and relaxation – have had proven results, empowering mothers-to-be to enjoy their pregnancy, have a wonderful birth experience, be relaxed and in control, promote their own rapid healing and recovery, bond easily with their baby, and get back to pre-pregnancy weight, shape and dimensions very soon after birth.


Praise for 'Birth Made Easy'


“As a GP with an interest in hypnotherapy I found this a fascinating book. I was fortunate to benefit from Paola’s teaching and her clear communication skills make this an easy read. Techniques she describes and teaches could benefit expectant mums both during pregnancy and beyond.”

Dr Robert Overton, MBBS DRCOG


“This book by Paola Bagnall is a very comprehensive and easy approach to the use of self-hypnosis in childbirth. The book will take you through all the tips that you need to know for a safe and natural birth. It will also give you an insight into pregnancy, birth, and the postnatal period, and how hypnosis can help you in those different stages.”

Lucia Montesinos, Midwife, expert in homebirths


“A most useful guide that can help mothers-to-be to have an easier and pleasantly memorable birthing experience.”

David R Hamilton PhD, author of many books including 'How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body'


“Paola Bagnall’s method is revolutionary. It transformed my second pregnancy from dread to joyful anticipation and gave me a wonderful natural childbirth. Her empowering approach gives control of the birth process back to women, and minimises the need for medical intervention and pain relief.”

Emma Johnson – a Hypnobirthing mum


"Birth Made Easy by Paola Bagnall is a new and important addition to the books on the subject of hypnobirthing.  The book is clear and extremely informative.  It is easy to read and packed with information.  Pregnant women will enjoy it and find it extremely useful in their preparation for birth, and hypnotherapists will also find in it a useful tool in developing their hypnobirthing practices.  The range of topics she covers is impressive, and I would highly recommend it."

Katharine Graves founder of The Hypnobirthing Centre UK


"I searched for a hypnobirth book on Amazon kindle and found your Birth Made Easy first. I downloaded it and read it and listened to the MP3 track for the book from your website every night for my last trimester. I found hypnosis and meditation to come easy to me. I listened to your mp3 during my 11-hour labor and your voice guided me through every contraction, like a labor coach. I remained in hypnosis the entire time actually sleeping between my 2-minute apart contractions. I had a successful natural childbirth without fear and full of peace, thanks to you. Thank you so very much, it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, I learned how to trust my body and not to be afraid.

Melanie Willis, Haughton, Louisiana, USA, had her second baby in November 2012, using the book BIRTH MADE EASY, and the free CD that comes with the book, after a negative first time experience.


"I just had my baby on 21 July 2013. Today is Day 5. I would just like to say that this is without doubt the BEST $20 I have spent in my life. I had an incredible birthing experience, completely free of any drugs/synthetic hormones/TENS machine. I didn’t even use a heat pack or the bathtub as your methods allowed me to simply visualise the relief. I also used active birthing, i.e. I delivered in a kneeling position. I also followed your advice on perineal massage. My perineum is completely intact, and I was up and about right after skin-to-skin contact and the first breastfeed. My baby is so calm and contented as well; I am sure that your pregnancy methods that I used while practising with your CD had a significant part in this, as I have had an extremely stressful pregnancy. I feel my incredible childbirth experience has really empowered and prepared me for motherhood. The midwives and doctors in the hospital said it was the calmest birth they’ve ever seen, and a nurse took a photo of my book! The female body is designed to give birth, we forget that in these days and time. Thank you, Paola, for reminding us."

E I, Perth, Australia had her first baby July 21st 2013 using BIRTH MADE EASY and its free CD.  




This book contains the full Inner Power Hypnobirthing package
 with a FREE CD for the mum-to-be and her partner.

The book is available here: and also on Amazon, Kindle* and iBooks.


*Please note that the Kindle version does not come with a free CD as there is a link in the book to download it.


Published in Product Reviews

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