Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Did you know you don't have to be pregnant to use Hypnobirthing techniques?

Yes you read that right, this is just one of the many unknown facts about this incredible antenatal preparation and life skill that is taking the world by storm. Let our Hackney based hypnobirthing teacher Katrina Berry illuminate you further on dispelling the myths and mystery surrounding Hynobirthing.  
It’s not new!
You might be surprised to learn that the first recorded use hypnotherapy for birth was in the 1850’s when hypnosis was used to induce labour. There was widespread use of hyposis for birth in Russia during the early part of the twentieth century, which spread to the US through the 40s. Hypnobirthing - the use of hypnosis and hypnotherapy to help to improve the experience of childbirth has been used for decades in the UK and is now being offered by many NHS trusts in the UK although most people seek professional teaching from those who are qualified.
There are now five main “methods” of hypnosis for birth in the UK, it’s important to know that they all have the same philosophy and goal and are based on the pioneering work of British obstetrician Dr Grantly Dick-Read. He postulated, way back in 1930, that the fear experienced by a woman in childbirth caused the blood to be diverted away from her uterus in order to be used by other muscles to enable her to escape from danger. The result of this was to deprive the uterus of oxygen therefore prevent it from carrying out its intended function without pain. This phenomenon he called "the fear-tension-pain syndrome of childbirth”.
Dr Dick-Read believed that if a woman were able to eliminate the fear, her uterus would return to its normal function, thus eliminating the pain. Concluding that fear and tension was responsible for 95% of labour pain, he suggested this could be eliminated through education and relaxation techniques.
Hypnobirthing is not hippy trippy
Far from it in fact, hypnobirthing programmes are rooted in science and all teachers pride themselves on encouraging evidence based birth practice. They will often teach parents-to-be about the NHS health system, the roles of midwives, obstetricians and doctors and give them the confidence to be able to navigate hospital policies and guidelines to make informed decisions. Most courses will also look at physical aswell as emotional and psychological preparation for birth too.
Despite recent decades of scientific research into the benefits of hypnosis, it’s surprising how it continues to be misunderstood and judged negatively on the basis of misinformation and simple prejudice. People still often react negatively to the word hypnosis but virtually never react negatively to the description of the process of hypnosis.
Everyone has experienced a trance state many times, but we don’t usually call it hypnosis. All of us have been so absorbed in thought – while reading a book, driving or on the bus to work – that we fail to notice what is happening around us. Conversely we can be so “in the zone”- a pianist performing a complicated piece of music or an athlete tuning out a crowd to focus on their best performance - that we are not conscious. While we were “zoned out”, or “in the zone”, another level of consciousness which we refer to as our unconscious mind, took over. These are very focused states of attention similar to hypnosis.
Whilst early approaches to the use of hypnosis for birth placed an emphasis on using hypnotic techniques as a pain management tool, it’s more common now that a hypnobirthing programme is much more comprehensive. Often a complete antenatal course, all of the hypnosis for birth courses and books educate women and their partners about nature’s design of the birthing body and how best to create conditions conducive to natural birthing. Couples are taught how beliefs and thoughts affect our nervous system and can they help or hinder the birth process. Facing fears and releasing concerns, through hypnosis, allows a couple to approach their birth with calm confidence. Building a woman's confidence and trust in her body's ability to birth allows her to be able to step gracefully out of the way and allow her body and baby to do what they know how to do.
It’s not just for a particular kind of birth
Let’s get one thing straight right away: there is no one right way to give birth; every baby’s birth is unique. Hypnobirthing is not just for those planning a natural birth. A “hypno birth” is not necessarily at home, in water, in the dark, surrounded by whale music. Of course there are many women who choose that for themselves but there are also those who give birth in birthing centres, labour wards and those whose babies come unexpectedly in the strangest of places (I had a couple who welcomed their son in a hotel room!).
There are those whose babies need help and, thankfully, we have a wonderful maternity system that offers medical assistance. Some babies need to come through a caesarean section, sometimes labours are induced, some women are told they are “high risk”and they need to make decisions about their care. Hypnobirthing helps in all these scenarios - hypnobirthing helps birthing mothers to feel calmer and in more control over decisions about treatment options. It truly is about being prepared for any and all birth experiences.
The skills taught in hypnobirthing are life skills, not just for birth.
Hypnobirthing is very different from other antenatal preparation. You’ll find yourself becoming aware of your emotional, mental and physical approach to giving birth; understanding how your mind and body work and how you can have more control over them is incredibly empowering and often spills into other areas of life. It will prepare you in many more ways than you first imagine. Bringing a child into the world throws the rest of your life into perspective and it’s often a time of transition and change in more ways than one. Life can be challenging, there’s an unwritten law somewhere that when pregnant you should move house, renovate or at least redecorate.
I encourage couples to use the approach and techniques to help them with every day life as well as for childbirth. This allows it to become your unconscious, automatic approach to life.
Learning to focus on what you want rather than what you don’t want, thinking positively, calming your nervous system, all these things help you when feeling anxious about a meeting or presentation at work, if there’s someone annoying near you on public transport, with being nervous before an antenatal appointment, trying to stay calm when a toddler is throwing a tantrum. Indeed integrating the approach and techniques to help you with the challenges of daily life means you’re more able to reach for these tools when you need them most.

Hypnobirthing isn’t just for mum
Paternal instinct is often overlooked but can be just as powerful as the maternal instinct. It is to protect and provide. HypnoBirthing preparation for a birthing partner helps them not only understand how a woman’s body functions most effectively but how they can use their own instinct in the most helpful way.
Whilst other antenatal classes will help a father (or partner) understand the basics of what’s going on at birth, hypnobirthing will provide a partner with a thorough understanding of the hormonal interplay and how to help create conducive conditions for the cocktail of helpful hormones needed.
Using the approach and skills learned in hypnobirthing for life, I’ve had many partners tell me that they’re sleeping better, working better, improved golf game gets mentioned a lot (!) and I even had one dad tell me that hypnobirthing helped him pass his driving test.
The benefits of doing hypnobirthing will ripple out into all areas of your life, before, during and after your baby’s birth. It always makes a difference, sometimes in the most unexpected of ways.

Katrina Berry is listed on Mumsnet Hackney HERE
“Why Hypnobirthing Matters” by Katrina Berry launches a new series of books by highly respected publishers Pinter and Martin in April 2015.
Looking at the origins and rationale for using hypnosis for childbirth, she explains what you can expect from hypnobirthing and dispel common misunderstandings in a lively, informative way giving readers a firm framework from which to make confident, informed decisions of their own. Ideal for new parents, health professionals and all those with an interest in birth and parenting. 

To pre-order this book click HERE

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

It's not too late to add this lovely box of goodness to your Christmas list...

The yummy contents of the November/December SKNY box

When it comes to food box subscriptions, surely the first word that springs to mind is mundane, right? Whether it’s vegetables, nuts or random fine dining related herbs, we at Mumsnet Hackney are yet to have our heads turned by this whole new concept of obtaining food, that was until I met budding entrepreneur Gina Madu, mastermind of  SKNY box and fellow graduate of Google Campus business training for Mums. 

SKNY box from the outside

Firstly, relax, SKNY might be pronounced skinny but is an acronym for ‘Stronger, Knowledgable New You' which as a concept alone captured my interest (although I also liked their mantra of ‘we do not do skinny’ too). So what could possibly be delivered to your door that will create this strength and knowledge exactly? In summary the box is made up of 6 - 8 items which includes a range of snacks, food, drinks, a spice & recipe kit and a bespoke fitness plan. 

It’s one thing to meet a business brain who’s bubbly and disarmingly friendly but completely another to totally covet their business idea and this was all before I’d even received my SKNY box through the post. Now lets get down to what you really want to know, what’s inside the box?

  • A packet of Sweet Coconut and Vanilla Propercorn 
  • A sizeable tub of Natvia sweetener (200g)
  • Rosemary and Thyme Soffles Pitta Chips 
  • A pot of Kabuto Noodles
  • Beauty Candy – Strawberry candies with collagen
  • Nakd Cashew Cookie Bar 
  • Flavourmagic Harissa Spice sachet and recipe card
  • A Raw Booster sachet
  • Carton of Green Lemon Hampstead Iced Tea
  • A pack of Lemony Lover Oloves - that’s not a typo, just a nifty play on words.
  • 30 Day Plan Fat Buster Winter Workout

In the last year having suffered a mild gluten intolerance and completed Sarah Wilson’s 'I Quit Sugar' detox, I would describe myself as quite nutrition conscious and I feel quite well versed in swiftly deciphering most food ingredients labels and confirming a snack's suitability to be devoured or hastily abandoned. Generally the main reason I would avoid something like this would be because of the likelihood of receiving a barrage of foods that are labelled as ‘low fat’ or ‘low sugar’ but are instead packed full of sweeteners or fructose to generate flavour. However, I was very nicely surprised indeed. Virtually all of these items were things that I would happily feed my children (apart from the the collagen candies and the Iced tea of course) although the main USP was actually I didn't want to share this with anyone. 

I have already been converted to the calorie free natural sweetener Natvia and found it quite hard to find in health food shops so to receive a healthy sized tub was very gratifying indeed and I will most definitely be attempting the Tzatziki recipe flavoured with harissa spice - and not just because it's main ingredient is beetroot and therefore it will be pink. The verdict on sugar content? The Iced Tea came top of the list in terms of sugar levels and the Beauty Candies are full of sweetener but these items aside I would happily devour all of this in one sitting. 

The 30 Day Fat Buster Winter Workout leaflet gives you a training schedule detailing a daily activity which includes rest from exercise every 3 days. It then talks you through the weight training moves using pictures as well as description and two high intensity interval training routines. The instructions were clear and easy to follow (despite being written in very tiny print) and each move included moderations for beginners.  

So overall I was very impressed indeed. In fact I think I may have developed a minor crush this snack box and will now commence figuring out how I can shoehorn a SKNY box subscription onto my Christmas list. 

To receive an exclusive discount for Mumsnetters of 50% off your first SKNY box - click HERE 


Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Who needs Black Friday when we have Shop Local Saturday.

Your comprehensive Christmas Gift Guide, with a distinctly local feel. 

That's right, at Mumsnet Hackney we are celebrating everything that is local and not just because we like shopping on our doorstep but also (and we are trying not to sound smug here) the local shops across Hackney really are worth shouting about. So, to mark this Saturday's Shop Local day, we would like to present you with our Stoke Newington Christmas Gift guide. We have walked the length and breadth of the High Street and Church Street in the name of finding some, in our view, frankly delightful gift ideas for all your family members. Don't worry, if you're not familiar with any of the shops mentioned here just click on their names to find out all their details. Enjoy!

We'll start with something for the notoriously hard-to-buy-for men in your life, be it Dads, Husbands, Uncles or Brothers...

We still can't believe we nabbed this for £15
So here's something that'll really score some serious brownie points. Of course, we know we are very spoiled to be able to get our hands on one of these from the Stoke Newington Book Shop - a signed copy of 'Six Poets from Hardy to Larkin: An anthology by Alan Bennett' at a bargain price of £15. These may well have already gone by the time you get there BUT if you do go along this Saturday you can get some book recommendations from local literary experts, as the organisers of the world famous Stoke Newington Literary Festival will be taking it over for the day- click here for more details.

Butchery courses start from £75, aprons are included!
Going with the theme of the gift of knowledge, how about giving someone in your the opportunity to hone their Christmas lunch carving skills, or simply learn how to make sausages? Get yourself along to the award winning Meat N16 Butcher and Delicatessen , not just for the Christmas bird/beef/both but also comprehensive range of Butchery Courses - Meat the Steak/Bird/Sausage or Lamb.

Shaving soap costs £9.75 and brush £32.75

When it comes to the minefield that is male grooming, this is surely one of the most luxurious items you could treat your man to. This Raktval Shaving Soap contains only natural ingredients: including almond oil; patchouli; cedarwood and fennel. It's also is paraben free and is found in gift and lifestyle shop Search and Rescue.

For the ladies in your life...

Scarf retails at £60 and hat is £40
Knitwear at Christmas, are we really that cliched? Well, when it comes in the form of designer knitwear by Antwerp brand Morrison - found in your local fashion boutique Hub - yes we certainly are! Produced in Scotland, this Howlin' hat and scarf comes in a gorgeous neutral rich grey with a flash of mustard is already on our Christmas list.

Available in a range of colours at £9 p/100g

Keeping with the theme of wool, this gift could be given to any knitting enthusiast in your life, regardless of gender. We just couldn't resist including this beautiful, top quality wool, available from knitting mecca 'Knit with Attitude'. This will also do wonders for your carbon footprint as the brilliantly named 'Wool and the Gang' is produced just up the road in Dalston.

Beautiful hand made jug, £50

Of course, for the non-knitters of this world, how about a beautiful wheel thrown, reduction fired earthenware jug from your local fashion boutique Hub made by British ceramicist Kate Hill.

Earrings start at £12 and broaches are £2

If you're looking for something unashamedly feminine, then look no further than gift shop Of Cabbages and Kings, who stock a fantastic range of jewellery by local designer, Wolf and Moon. We are already addicted to this simply gorgeous geometric, mirrored selection of broaches and earrings. Also, as part of a special Shop Local promotion, if you spend £20 in store on Saturday you will receive a free tote bag which will be upgraded to a canvas tote should you spend more than £50.

Top is £18 and leggings are £22
As we have hands on experience of being pregnant at Christmas we're pretty sure this maternity pyjama set from baby shop JoJo Maman Bebe will go down a storm with the pregnant lady in your life.

Something for the kids...

Having already typecast ladies as being knitting enthusiasts we have had a strong word with ourselves and as a result have a rather lovely selection of non-gender specific toys that instead, hopefully more usefully, are categorised by age. Starting with baby...

Prices range from £21 to £30 depending on size

Actually, we say baby but these simply gorgeous lace up knitted boots by Padraig Cottage come in sizes up to the age of 4. These are world famous on Church Street and are found in baby and maternity wear shop and hypnobirthing venue Born.

These retail at £18

For the 3 and Ups - how about something Made in Dads Shed? No not literally, but a brand of beautiful wooden toy cars stocked by Search and Rescue. These solid wood cars are handmade with old fashioned wood working techniques, using dowls instead of screws and are coated in water-based paint.

Available for a fee of £15

Allow your little one to really make their mark with this cuddly toy that you can decorate. Better still - when you get bored you can just put it in the washing machine and start again. Suitable for ages 3 to 5, this ingenious toy is found in Route 73 Kids.

Possibly also one for your husband, these cost £30.
According to local skating expert and shop proprietor Tom - of Toms Skate Shop - it is possible to start skateboarding at around the age of 4 and this Rocket 29" Skate board is the beginners board of choice. Tom stocks the full range of these in various colours and designs. They also come with high quality, urethane wheels as standard. 

A little something extra for parents...

Purchase these online for £19.99
Having only recently raved about this product in our last review it wouldn't seem right not to include this ingenious Scooterslingz bag, produced by local designer Penny Othen. To read our very complimentary review please click HERE and to buy yourself one click HERE

And finally we couldn't do a Stokey Gift guide without including these little beauties that surely are the most 'local' of gifts you can buy...

Bag yourself one of these for £5.

Show your love for all things Stokey with this vibrant funky tote bag from Early Bird Designs - please note 'I heart Hackney' is also available. Whilst you're there also check out their fantastic range of Christmas cards and wrapping.

Get yourself to The Ark to grab one of these.

These Big Tomato cream ware mugs are found in many a gift shop, however what makes these ones sold by veritable Aladdin's cave of a gift shop The Ark so special? These have a bespoke local twist including 'Stokey girl', 'Stokey Dad' and our favourite 'Stokey bloke'. At £10.50 each you won't be stoney broke (sorry!)

Of course, this is just a tiny snapshot of the amazing array of local shops in Stoke Newington however, we really hope that when it comes to Christmas gifts this guide has given you a little local inspiration.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Family Mediation – Booming Marvellous?

To mark National Family Resolution Week Mumsnet Hackney is hosting a sponsored article by Family Mediation specialist Amina Somers who is also answering your questions in our week long Q&A. If you would like to post a question to Amina please just click here. 

The Children and Families Act 2014 encourages separating couples to resolve their disputes outside of court, including using mediation.

In April 2013, in line with this policy, the government removed legal aid for family disputes (with limited exceptions) but retained legal aid for family mediation. 

So has there been an increase in referrals to family mediation?

Anecdotal evidence from mediators suggests not.

According to The Family Mediators Association’s Legal Aid Survey there was a 53% decline in claims made for legally aided mediations between April 2013 and December 2013 compared to the same period in 2012 - 53% less (legally aided) mediations.

While mediators have criticised the government for failing to publicise that legal aid remains available for mediation are there more fundamental reasons why separating couples are not mediating?

Signposting Family Mediation

Mediators have lobbied the government for a televised public awareness campaign. Government has not been receptive having high expectations that the revamping of the Family Mediation Council website, to which all forms of signposting and promotional activity will be directed, will significantly improve public awareness of family mediation.

Difficulties in understanding why mediation works

Most disputes involve a difference in perception - the relationship has broken down but each party’s perception of the situation, how it happened and what should happen next, is different.

In disagreements these different perceptions are advanced, protected or defended by each party. Thinkers like Edward de Bono (1985: Conflicts) believe it is almost impossible for a party in the dispute (or his legal adviser) to change or shift their own perceptions by themselves.

This is also why neither the parties (or their legal advisors) are best placed to design a solution to their own problem and why De Bono says they need a third party – like a mediator - to help them. Otherwise the thinking employed by the disputing parties will remain the same.

The mediator is free (of these perceptions) to suggest ways of reconciling different perceptions by either finding common ground or by designing new perceptions that both parties can buy into.

Fear as a basis for refusing to mediate

A party’s own belief as to what will “really” happen during the mediation process may impact considerably on whether to mediate.

Clients may think that the mediator will indicate that there is no merit in the their position or a client who has felt diminished or the weaker partner in the former relationship may feel that they will not be sufficiently protected or heard in the process. Similarly if one party perceives the other as being more charismatic there may be a feeling that the mediator will be charmed into adopting that party’s position.

So it is easy to understand why a party to a dispute will want both someone to “protect” them and “advocate” for them ie a lawyer.

Where there are such fears it will be difficult to contemplate mediation.

Skilled mediators should be able to uncover these fears, deal with them directly or suggest pre mediation support before mediation begins.

Choosing a mediator

Mediators come from different professional backgrounds e.g lawyers, social workers and psychotherapists.

Good mediators have a good understanding of what enables people to reach agreement, an inventive solution focused mind, empathy and determination. After all they encounter the most challenging of human behaviour at what is often one of the lowest points in the lives of their clients.

When choosing a mediator:

  • Both parties should have trust and confidence in the mediator and speak to the mediator before appointment; shortlist 2 or 3 mediators for this purpose.

  • Think about whether or not the mediator sounds like someone you can work with.

  • Ask the mediator questions about their approach to conflict resolution i.e how they deal with impasse or high conflict situations.

  • Consider the issues and level of conflict. In high conflict cases mediators from a therapeutic background might be useful. In complex and high conflict cases two mediators with complimentary backgrounds (legal/therapeutic) may be appropriate.

  • Consider pre mediation support that focus’s on expectations in mediation, explores fears and beliefs that affect the party’s confidence in the process and ways of managing unhelpful emotional responses.

  • ask whether the mediator works with different mediation models ie shuttle mediation where the parties do not wish to sit in the same room as one another.

  • Check the mediator’s availability - a mediator who has another professional role may need to have longer gaps between appointments.

  • Establish whether the mediator offers legal aid if you think you might qualify.

  • If you like a particular mediator but cannot afford the level of fees - negotiate on fees.

Legal proceedings rarely produce better relations between separating couples while research has shown that mediation produces costs savings and better long term outcomes for children of separating couples. Worth a try?

 Amina Somers consults with specialist family law firm Goodman Ray, is a Solicitor (non practising), Mediator and Therapeutic Counsellor.

© Amina Somers 2014