Hypnobirthing – what is it?

For the past two weeks my husband and I have been attending Hypnobirthing classes.

Last time, we attended a traditonal antenatal and I didn’t feel I got much more out of it than what I had already read. At the time hynobirthing was a private course costing about £300 (from memory). We couldn’t afford that.

This time, the NHS are offering it for free so I jumped on it. My husband wasnt’t sure he wanted to go as it all sounds a bit hippy to him. My midwife said it is for me and my birthing partner so he has to attend.

We were required to buy the book for £10, download the music and bring a birthing (gym) ball.

Our course was split over two days and was delivered by a local community midwife that has been in the profession for years. She covers shifts at our local hospital, so was very famillar with the wards we would be using.

Day 1

We started with an introduction to hypnobirth to help us understand what the course will cover and manage our expectations.

We then did some exercises to understand the power of the mind and the use of language to influence our feelings. On a white board we came up with positive language for labour to replace negative words:

We then were taught surge breathing and how to break the Stress Tension Pain cycle. This lead to understanding the hormones are bodies produce in response to situations and those that help labour and those that are counter productive.

After lunch, we covered the different phases of labour and what to do to help our body be most effective at each stage.

We then learnt another breathing technique called ’J’ breathing which helps to move the baby down and out.

We watched some videos of women ’breathing’ their babies out and making it look very easy. I got very emotional as it brought back the feeling when my son was first placed in my arms.

We ended by covering the benefits of delayed cord clamping which is when you wait until the pulsating stops – it is usually only takes a few extra minutes. We covered the different methods of delivering the placenta and told why the vitamin K injection is important.

Day 2

We covered how gravity is our friend. It is very important to keep moving in labour and stay upright as this helps move the baby down. We were shown why a bed birth is not the optimum method.

To use gravity, use:

  • A floor mat
  • A bean bag
  • A birth ball
  • A birthing stool
  • Rebozo (a scarf)

We we’re shown some good positions and how to use a scarf to move the baby. The techniques had names like ’shaking the apples’.

We then discussed the best position for baby. You want them head down, at the front (anterior) and on the left. The midwife used a skeleton diaphragm and doll to show us why. We were told babies move clockwise. Then she showed us some techniques to move baby into this optimum position.

We then did more breathing exercises and relaxation on mats to scripts read by our partners. Our partners we’re taught how to calm us if we are getting stressed and signs to look for. They were shown some massage techniques to help and we covered the power of touch.

We watched a video showing a supportive birthing partner to see the impact they have to improving the experience.

The midwife covered the other resources available to us at the hospital including other pain relief methods. She encouraged us that they are there if we need it and not to rule something out or be disappointed if our plans change.

We discussed resources to improve our environment and increase our oxytocin.

She told us about golden hour and the benefits of it. This when the baby has just been born and has skin to skin contact and often supports breast feeding (you can still do it with a bottle). It helps with bonding. If the mother needs medical attention, the father/birth partner can do this. Sometimes, it’s not possible if the baby needs medical attention.

Final thoughts

I really enjoyed the course and got a lot more out of it than I expected.

Firstly, it was brilliant quality time with my man. We were both so relaxed afterwards, it felt like we’d been on holiday.

Secondly, the course made me feel empowered and prepared for labour. I feel excited about labour rather than afraid it will hurt or could go wrong. I’m focussed on the positive affirmations.

Thirdly, I liked how informative it was and not pushy. There was no anti-talk. It was positive and inclusive of everyone. The techniques were backed by scientific facts explaining why it works (like our hormonal responses or the way a baby moves down).

The breathing has made my baby more active – she’s been lazy until now. I love surge breathing as I get to feel her wriggle about.

I like all the exercises and tips we received to support an optimum birth – oxygen, gravity, positivity. I feel my husband is clearer about how he can support me. He has written some positive affirmations to put up round the house like subliminal messages.

I would recommend giving it a go. The techniques you learn will benefit you for life – how to relax and be positive. The course also covers the other options so if hypnobirthing isn’t for you then you are still prepared.


I plan to post after the big day on how my labour went so I’ll let you know if any of the techniques I learnt helped or not.

Have you done hypnobirthing? Do you use positive affirmations or relaxation in your life?

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The difficulty shopping for maternity/nursing outfits

Me vs The Model

So, firstly, I don’t mind that some of the maternity/nursing outfits are modelled by someone who isn’t pregnant as the outfit should be for during pregnancy and afterwards. In fact, I think it would be useful if these outfits were shown on a pregnant woman and a nursing woman to show how it looks at both stages.

My gripe is that I don’t believe any of these models are pregnant (the ones with bumps) or nursing (the ones without bumps). Everyone I know who is about to have a baby or just had one, have massive milk jugs ready for their hungry newborn. Even women who usually describe themselves as flat chested!

These models have lovely perky pre-pregnancy boobs like women who have never had a baby. It has led to disappointment when I have tried outfits on as they just don’t fit. Rather than sulk that my hunt for the right dress goes on, I decided to share the pics of me trying on the dresses.

Peach flap dress

Store: www.asos.com

RRP: £39.99

Brand: Mamalicious

This peach dress looks classy and sophisticated on the model. It has a lift flap to access for breastfeeding. I like the colour and the satin ribbon that gives it something extra. I’m not keen on having sleeves in the summer. I wasn’t keen that under the flap the material was gaping and caused an unattractive crease. My husband thought I looked like a nun. I sent this back.

Blue wrap dress

Store: www.asos.com

RRP: £39.99

Brand: Mamalicious

This is the prettiest nursing summer dress I have seen. On the model, I think it barely looks like a nursing dress. It’s a style I’d love for summer every year and I love pastel blue.

I’m not a ‘frills’ girl and certainly not after this – they were everywhere. The clasp at the bust was gaping. I think it needed a modesty panel underneath to take into account that it may gape. The blue had a grey tinge to it and wasn’t as pretty as the advertised picture.

The gaping made it feel tarty and not pretty. I sent this dress back.

Blue button dress

Store: www.hm.com

RRP: £24.99

Brand: MAMA collection

It looks so pretty on the model and a beautiful light summer staple that you could easily dress up or down for multiple occasions. It could even be worn smart to the office in the summer.

This dress is terribly creased and I think it’s the sort of material that creases easily. I doubt I’ll have time to iron and do a school run with a newborn in September. The buttons are just decoration so it is not suitable for breastfeeding post pregnancy. In addition, the bust was too small and you can see the fabric straining in the photo – very uncomfortable.

This got sent back.

Lilac flap dress

Store: www.hm.com

RRP: £19.99

Brand: MAMA collection

The model looks like a young version of me. I think everyone loves when they see a model similar to their own colouring as you can instantly tell if an outfit would suit you or not. However, she doesn’t look pregnant or like she’s just had a baby…

Lilac is a colour that isn’t around much in the shops but is ever so pretty. I bought this dress as something casual to wear but it fit and looked the best out of all the designs and was the cheapest.

I pulled the drawstring tight above my bump but when the baby is here and I am feeding, I will wear it loose like the model. I’m hoping the loose style will be flattering on my post-pregnancy body. I kept this dress.

The hunt goes on…

Although I kept the H&M lilac dress, it wasn’t quite what I wanted. I’ve booked a photo shoot for when the baby is here and I wanted a dress for a nice family picture but one I can feed and wear every day afterwards.

The lilac dress is perfect for summer feeding and I think teamed with leggings and a cardigan I can wear it through the cooler months too, but it is too casual looking for the shoot.

Please let me know if you see a dress you think I should try? I’m trying to avoid all the patterns and flowery styles and I don’t want to spend too much.

NB: I am 34 weeks pregnant in these pictures. Although, on Instagram, I put ’36 weeks’ as I was thinking ‘just 6 weeks to go’. Silly baby brain.

Shopping for maternity/nursing clothes

The second-half of this article is to help you out shopping. It will cover what you need to buy and when and the best places to buy. Many high street stores don’t cater to pregnant or nursing women.

You can try looking for regular clothing and adapting it for your changing body like stretchy fabrics or straps that come down easily. Button tops or wrap tops that you could still nurse in. If you are ordering regular fitting clothes you will likely need to buy larger than your pre-pregnancy size.

If you wish to buy actual maternity/nursing clothes then you will probably have to shop online as the high street is limited or nonexistent. If buying from this range, order in your pre-pregnancy size.

What you need for the stages

First trimester (up to the end of week 12)

From early on, especially if this isn’t your first pregnancy, you will feel bigger.  I felt like I was constantly bloated and nothing fit comfortably.  Plus, I wasn’t ready to tell colleagues so I needed to hide the little bump.

I stocked up on clothes from Primark in a size or two bigger and wore loose-fitting tops.  I opted to wear anything with a stretch like leggings or joggers.

The only maternity clothes I bought were some staple pieces from George (Asda), such as:

  • Maternity Tapered Stretch Trousers:  RRP £8 (a bargain for work)
  • Maternity Over Bump Skinny Jeans:  RRP £14 in black (I returned later to buy again in blue)
  • Maternity V-Neck Camisole:  RRP £7 in navy, black and blue
  • Maternity Nursing Pyjamas Short Set:  RRP £15 (these will last me from bump and beyond)
  • Racer Back Maternity Tankini Top:  RRP £12.50 (I also bought the bottoms but can’t remember the price)
  • Strappy Lace Trim Comfort Bra/Comfort bra:  RRP £6 (black and white)
  • 20 Denier Maternity Cooling Tights:  RRP £3

I matched them up with the things I could still fit into from my wardrobe.  At this stage, your boobs are growing so you ought to wear bras without underwire.  I wore sports bras, the cotton cami style bras from George and Groupon.

NB: Later in pregnancy, I had to shorten the straps on the V-neck camisole top as maternity bras come up high. I wish they’d put adjusters on the straps.

Second trimester (week 13 to end of week 27)

This is when you start to sport a noticeable bump.  By the end of this trimester, people may even feel you show enough that they are able to comment on your beautiful bump. If you’ve told people, you’ll likely want to wear clothes that show it off.

I was lucky enough to go with a friend on a shopping trip around Lakeside.  I got measured in Debenhams but bought my bras from Marks & Spencers.  I got nursing bras so that I could use them after my pregnancy too.

The first shop I bought maternity clothes from was Top Shop but the store I went crazy in, for their brilliant range of maternity (and nursing clothes) was H&M.

However, H&M Lakeside had only one changing room, the store was boiling hot in March and there was nowhere for the pregnant women to sit who were waiting!

  • MAMA 2-pack nursing tops £17.99 ( I bought a few packs)
  • MAMA 2-pack t-shirts £12.99
  • MAMA Nursing dress £24.99 (suitable to wear to work too)
  • MAMA Floral pattern T-shirt £12.99

I really wanted to buy more but maternity bras are very expensive so my shopping trip had already exceeded my budget & usually I’m really good at not overspending.

Third trimester (week 28 to baby’s delivery)

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It’s a girl!

A post shared by Author Ally Aldridge (@redfae) on

In these final few weeks, I am feeling very big.  Most pre-pregnancy clothes no longer fit with the exception of the odd loose maxi dress or stretchy maxi skirt. Even non-maternity leggings press into my bump.

I resent buying something that I can’t wear past pregnancy as I don’t have long left. I don’t want a dress that will cling to my bump if I’ve had the baby.  I plan to breastfeed so I’d rather invest in nursing wear although choices are very limited.  I have found ASOS to have the best range for maternity/nursing clothes.

I’ve also found a very basic store online that sells nursing clothes at affordable prices called Happy Mama.  They also sell delivery gowns.  I plan to order some pieces from their site next month for my hospital bag.

I bought a dress from Mamalicious for my sister’s 10y wedding party but it didn’t arrive in time.  They said it would take 3 to 4 days standard delivery but it took 10 days! I complained and returned the dress and they refunded the cost plus P&P.

Where to buy

These are the stores I found best for clothing during my pregnancy:

  • ASDA – George
  • Top Shop
  • H&M
  • ASOS
  • Boohoo
  • Happy Mama
  • Mamalicious
  • Seraphine

Where are your top places to buy maternity/nursing wear?

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Booking a newborn photoshoot

Newborn photoshoot

Your new baby will not be a tiny newborn for long.  Many parents want to take lots of pictures of their precious bundle in those early days to capture the first moments when they are so little.

Anne Geddes is an artist that has made a living out of taking beautifully artistic photos of babies for years.  Her stunning imagery has inspired other photographers to learn the art and offer it to new parents.

Now, there are lots of studios that offer newborn photo shoots.  This article is based on what I learnt from my experience last time with my son and what I am doing differently this time with my daughter.

Bump 2 Baby (with Noah)

With my first pregnancy, almost 5 years ago, I bought a coupon voucher for £30 for a bump to baby shoot at Baby Art Uk by Taylor Made Portraits. It included the studio time and the first picture free.

Bump shoot

I had this shoot when I was 36 weeks pregnant. The photographer provided all the accessories and had lots of ideas on what to do. My husband doesn’t like his picture being taken but he got involved for me.

Bump shhoot

If I had known what I know now, I wish I had bought a nice maternity bra for the shoot.  I’m not a fan of the pictures with my bra in it.

Newborn shoot

The best time to have a newborn shoot is when the baby is a few days old (1 to 14 days old). This enables the baby to be positioned for the artistic shots. The photographer provided all the accessories and had the scenes set up. The shoot took 4 hours to allow for feeding and getting the baby to sleep.  Noah was exactly 1 week old in his pictures.

Newborn pics.png

If I had known what I know now, I would have gone with some premixed formula as this enables babies to sleep longer than breast feeding. We nipped out mid shoot to get some. I was worried that it might affect breast feeding but it didn’t.


Studio fee

I thought £30 was a great price until we had the shoot. The studio charged quite a lot per image, i.e. £60 a picture or £250 for 5 pics on a USB. I was heartbroken. I couldn’t afford that on maternity pay! They took pity on me and sold me the presentation video of the images and I took screenshots to get images to print.

If I have known what I know now, I would check the additional costs associated with the shoot as this is often where the photographer makes their money.

All inclusive package

This time I have booked with another studio that charges £250 (and I’ve paid the 10% deposit of £25). This is an all inclusive price and will include all the images taken during the 4 hours on a USB. We will have a family pic and then the artistic shots whilst my little boy & his dad go stretch their legs. I can then print and share the pics as much as I like or ask the studio to print for me at their prices.

I like an all inclusive price because I can budget for this and won’t be disappointed. I can’t wait to share the pictures.


There is now a wider choice of options too:

  • Bump (watch me grow) – This is a shoot that will involve you visiting the photographer a few times to get the same picture taken to illustrate your bump growing.  You will need to choose an outfit you can wear throughout your pregnancy and will need to start seeing the photographer from around 12 weeks pregnant.
  • Bump shoot – this is where you get pictures of your pregnancy bump at about 30 weeks+.  The photographer usually offers a maternity gown and organza to get some pretty pictures.  You can also take scan pictures or items you have bought for baby like tiny shoes.
  • Newborn shoot – This is when you get pictures of your baby taken when they are only a few days.  Have a look at the photographers album to see if they do the baby art style pictures or not.
  • Little sitter – This is when your baby is able to sit independently from around 6 months old. You will need to choose the outfit for your little one to wear but the photographer will provide the set and props, although you can bring props too i.e. a favourite toy.
  • Cake smash – This is often added onto a package for newborns to encourage parents to return when their child is one year old. It is their first birthday picture and involves them getting in a mess with a beautiful cake.

Often studios will offer the above shoots as packages with a saving.  For example, Bump 2 Baby (will be a bump shoot and a newborn shoot) or My First Year (could be a newborn shoot, little sitter and a cake smash).  Some studios offer loyalty cards to encourage their customers to return for other milestones.

If I have known what I know now:  This time I have booked an all inclusive package with a studio that has a loyalty scheme.  So, if I wish to return I can collect discounts for being a returning customer.  I like this no pressure approach and feel in control of how much my photos are going to cost me. The studio were upfront about pricing that I feel assured I won’t get a nasty surprise on the day.


It is best to book your photographer as soon as possible. For a maternity shoot, you will need to book the shoot for the stage in pregnancy you wish to capture – the more time you give the photographer the more likely they will have availability for the week you need.

For a newborn shoot, you book the photographer before your baby arrives.  Photographers who specialise in these shoots know babies rarely arrive on their due date.  They will make a note of when you are expecting and keep some slots free in their diary around this date.  This time I booked the studio when I was around 24 weeks pregnant.

Once the baby arrives, call your photographer as soon as you can to book the date at the studio.  With Noah, I called the studio the morning after he was born from the hospital.

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