Friday, September 17, 2010

HEATHER'S BABY BLOG: Top 10 favorite finds

Ok, I am finally just weeks away from having my first baby (she's due in October). Let's hope she doesn't come early, because momma's NOT ready!

This has been a really good pregnancy and she's been a good baby--I can only hope this is a reflection of how she will be as a teenager. ;)

I do have to say, over the past couple of months as I have been dealing with an ever expanding belly, occasional acne breakouts and trying my best to keep those hormones in check, I have found some favorite finds I REALLY love and other items that left me wondering, "Why did I fall for that?"

I want to share a few of my favorite finds for those of you with expanding bellies. I'd love to hear what has helped you through your pregnancy too!

As some of you know, I try to eat and use a lot of simple foods and products with common ingredients that are easy to pronounce. I write a lot of natural health related stories (including pregnancy tips) on Heather's Natural Health.

#1.) Acupuncture

Yes, I was skeptical at first, but I have to say acupuncture has stood the test of time (some 3,000 years) and had to contribute to the fact that I felt really great throughout this pregnancy. No morning sickness, swollen ankles or severe fatigue even though I work until midnight. Check to see if your insurance will cover a portion of it. Medical doctor, Dr. Xiao Zhang says it can also help to get a few treatments at the end of your pregnancy for a smoother labor and delivery. Click here to find a licensed acupuncturist.

Click here to watch my interview with her

#2.) Good quality prenatal

I spent years as an investigative/consumer reporter and learned that vitamins and supplements are not regulated. I try to pick brands that have gone through independent testing at Consumer Labs. My stomach can't tolerate a lot of vitamins/supplements so when I first learned I was pregnant, I took a whole foods based prenatal vitamin.

I liked Vitamin Code raw because it was easy on my stomach and had 1,4000 IU of vitamin D (something emerging research shows we need. Click here to learn more about why you should have your vitamin D levels checked. It's an interview with holistic pediatrician, Dr. David Berger).

After a month or so, I switched to Pregnancy Plus multivitamin created by natural health minded OBGYN/Dr. Amos Grunebaum. Consumer Labs rated it as one of its best brands, plus it has 222mcg of iodine which I needed.

#3.) Fish oil

Talk to your doctor about adding this to your vitamins. Pregnant or not, I always take fish oil for anti-inflammatory properties and my little girl's brain development.

#4) Fruitastic!

Being pregnant during the wonderful summer heat in Florida can be tough, but at least we get to enjoy a bunch of perfectly ripe fruit! Every week, I always made sure we were stocked up because if I didn't, this former junk food junkie might stuff her face with a cupcake!

#5) Acne breakout blaster

Yes, it is wonderful to live out my entire pregnancy on HD TV, especially those hormonal moments when momma has a good looking growth on her chin! I don't like to put harsh chemicals on my face but I did find that the Clarisonic cleanser made a DRAMATIC difference! I like to use Eminence products because they are organic and really work to balance my skin so I can keep breakouts at bay.

#6) Lube it all up

My skin is tight after I use the Clarisonic, I need to moisturize. I really like Kae, a simple oil made from Argon oil. It doesn't cause me to breakout. Don't forget to lube up that belly! Kae makes a body oil which is also nice. I put it on at night because it was too hard to wear it at work... greasy clothing during the day just doesn't make a pregnant gal feel good!

#7.) Smell naturally good

As much as I would like to go o' naturale, you can't fault a girl for wanting to smell fresh and fruity. Many perfumes are loaded with chemicals. I like a more natural option made with essential oils. I really love Pacifica Hawaiian Ruby Guava. I buy it at Whole Foods.

#8. ) Comfortable heels

I ditched the designer shoes and opted for whatever made my piggies feel comfortable. The reality is I can only wear flip-flops to certain places. Now, before you get mad at me, (pregnant women are NOT supposed to wear heels) there are a few occasions where I have to dress up. I was surprised to see that Ann Taylor has the MOST COMFORTABLE shoes I've ever worn! (They have a foam cushion bottom and a wider fit--promise you'll feel like you are wearing flats or flip-flops!).

#9) Stylish professional clothing

If only I could wear moo-moos everyday... ;) I was surprised how quickly I could NOT squeeze into ANYTHING in my closet! It's hard to think you have to buy a whole new wardrobe (but HD forced me to make some smart buys. Yes, people really will email me if I wear the same outfit over and over).

I wish I had discovered Isabella Oliver Maternity Clothing at the start of my pregnancy! You buy your pre-pregnancy size so you can wear it again! The stretchy jersey is so comfortable and comes in many stylish designs. i love the wrap tops and fitted dresses. Yes, you can also find a sexy dress for a special occasion even at 8 months prego!

I also found some great dresses from Annee Matthews maternity. I love the fitted Vanna dress! I know I can wear it after baby too. I bought a few more casual dresses too because the colors are bright and easy to wear (like sliding into a stylish moo-moo-shhhhhh!)

#10) Fast workouts

I wish I had time to exercise everyday! (I would probably come up with an excuse anyway... you know, I have to clean out the garage first). Winsor Pilates 20 minute workout tape is always my back-up just so I can feel like I am doing SOMETHING! It's not specifically designed for pregnant women so I avoided the stomach exercise portion.

Ok moms, now I want to hear about some of your favorite finds pre-baby and after baby.

You can read all of my natural health related BABY WEEK stories on Heather's Natural Health.

Shoot me an email:

Thursday, September 16, 2010

HEATHER'S BABY BLOG: Taking your own maternity photos

Maternity photos can be lifelong keepsakes. We asked one of the Tampa Bay area's best photographers, Carmen Wilson, to share some of her top tips to help you take your own photos at home.
Camera and Lighting tips:
Do not use a flash. Flash will take away the natural glow. Shoot in a low light situation; such as sunset or sunrise. Experiment with your camera by turning off the flash and setting your ISO to a higher setting such as 400.
Pregnancy does not need anything to take away the simplicity of the belly. Avoid background items such as blinds, a couch, kitchen cabinets, etc....Take the images outside under a tree or a plain background.
Focus on the belly and don't distract with busy patterns of clothing. Keep it simple to allow the story to be captured beautifully.
Wear a shirt such as a tight tank top that exposes the natural curves of the belly or wear a tie in the front shirt to totally expose the belly.
Pose tips:
A pregnant mother looks beautiful embracing her bare belly with her hands. Have dad or her children place their hands on the belly too.
Experiment with different angles such as standing, sitting on the edge of a seat, or laying down on a blanket.
Fill your frame! Oh, this is the biggest mistake I see in candid shots. They are too far. Get close to pregnant mama.
When is the best time to take maternity photos? How many weeks?
When taking maternity photos your goal is to have a belly close to the size of a basketball. Typically, between your 7-8 months of pregnancy. You want to look pregnant....there shouldn't be any questions whether you are or not. So, in other words if you are feeling "big" you might not be as big as you think. ;)
What seems to look best in photos?
It all depends on what look you would like. There are several looks that my clients request. Here are a few:
A long, soft, flowy dress for a timeless image with simple accessories. Accessories are of utmost importance because while mommy is embracing her belly her ring or bracelet can be a main focus.
For a casual look, simply jeans and a tank top. Maybe a personal item that is really special to you such as those special booties that your mom made for the baby or a bracelet for mom with the baby's name engraved.
Bringing sexy back is one of my favorite looks...I believe that lots of women have that " I am fat " thinking going on during pregnancy, but the reality is they are glowing and absolutely beautiful. A gorgeous laced pushup bra accompanied by cute boy shorts or panties make mama feel sexy and beautiful again. For the grand finale daddy is a great prop to bring emotion into the images. His job is to love on her and embrace that sweet belly.
Some women are self conscious of their pregnant bodies, but why do you think they should still have maternity photos taken as a keepsake?
Pregnant women are glowing, and they have great beauty within their new shapes. They just don't often see it.....If we take the time to hire a photographer to capture our wedding day so we don't miss anything because life will brush those memories away....wouldn't you want to remember the next greatest moment in your life? Wouldn't you want to remember how your eyes twinkled when you felt that little person in your tummy ? Or the way your husband/partner looked at you as he touched your belly? Sometimes, it's not even about how we look but how we capture an emotion between two people that love each other. A maternity shoot preserves those moments, that beauty, and that time. I would do anything to go back in time to capture any of my pregnancies. It is often that I tear up during a presentation because I remember that I did not capture those moments in my life.
Share three of your favorite maternity photos and tell us why you like them.
I would have to say that the shoots that I favor are the ones where clients allow me full artistic freedom. It is often we talk on the phone and share a vision together. We discuss a plan of what they will be wearing and bringing to the studio. Location is also discussed and that makes it even more fun for me. Planning allows for a perfect shoot.
Now, if I must choose some favorites... (LOL)
The mommy by the Window in the long, flowy, ivory dress with her pup. I'll never forget this shoot. She rolled in with bags full of clothing, literally every shoe in her closet and almost all of her jewelry. I had so many options. It was fabulous. I choose the long dress because I knew it would capture her gorgeous shape and length. Then we had Jack; the cutest dog ever peeking out of the window. It really was a breathless moment for me...I knew I had to complete the story when the baby arrived.
Belly in the water: This shoot was literally a few days before the baby was born. What I love about this image is the confidence mommy had at FULL term. She embraced that pregnancy shape I was talking about previously. This was a round perfect basketball at it's best. I had my camera in a ziploc bag and was completely in the water from waste up. It allowed me to capture the roundness of the belly while capturing the water drops on her body. I love this image.
Sexy back! Mommy in her bra and panties. I just adore these photos. When a client relaxes in front of the camera it is evident. She was able to just let go of any insecurities and allow me to capture her smile and gorgeous body. Look at her belly; it is a full size belly which makes perfect pregnancy images.
Any tips to hire someone to take maternity photos?
  • A photographer that specializes in motherhood photography. Choosing the right angles and lighting is so important during a pregnancy shoot. We want mom to be photographed from her best angles and that only comes with years of experience. Look at their portfolio on line and in person.
  • Interview any potential photographers. Making sure you feel comfortable in their presence; you will be building a long term relationship with them.
  • The Quality of their Work: Are prints printed at a professional lab with archival quality? Is there a 100% customer satisfaction guaranteed?
There has been many magical moments in my life, but I remember two in particular. Late at night a sweet man whispering into my belly " I love you little girl" and then
the day when a nurse handed me my sweet baby girl and I looked at my husband and whispered in his ear "when are we going to have another baby".
Now, fourteen years later I remember that on those days I fell in love with him all over again. A pregnancy brings us closer together, babies complete us, babies make mommy and daddy fall in love again. Why wouldn't we want to capture one of the greatest days in our lives?
t's not easy finding time or the energy to exercise when you're pregnant.
So we asked Amy Burton to show us 5 easy exercises you can do at home throughout your pregnancy. Amy is an (ACE) certified Personal Trainer with additional training in pre and post-natal fitness. Watch the 5 stretches and exercises she recommends and read her interview below.
How can exercise help a woman throughout her pregnancy?
Exercise throughout pregnancy has many benefits:
- Helps keep weight gain within the recommended limits
- Relieves stress
- Lowers incidence of pregnancy induced hypertension(high blood pressure)& gestational diabetes
- Prepares your body to handle the physical demands of labor
So many pregnant women don't have a lot of time to devote to exercise. What are some easy things we can do every day or 3 times a week?
Many people think they need at least an hour or more to exercise (get ready, travel to the gym etc...) but they don't have that much time so instead they skip it. Best overall thing pregnant women can do is to change their mindset to shorter exercise sessions a few times a day. It all adds up to helping Mom-To-Be stay fit. Example: Wake up and do 10 minutes of slow stretching. Take a 15 minute brisk walk during lunch or right when you get home from work. When you are relaxing watching TV in evening, mix in another 15 minutes of exercises like the cat stretch, wall squats, and stretches that help ease back pain. This adds up to a 40 minute workout!
Sometimes pregnant women are too tired to exercise. Help motivate us!
When you are pregnant, tired, and uncomfortable carrying around extra weight, exercise can seem overwhelming. Enlist your spouse and friends to help keep you active when you are tired by going for a walk together, dancing around the house, or playing in a swimming pool. Getting in a pool(especially with the Florida heat) is one of the best places to feel lighter and reduce stress of carrying a baby on the body. Not only does a pregnant woman feel more comfortable but exercising in the water provides 12x the resistance of air so simple walking back and forth or standard aerobic moves gives you a great workout. Hand weights are another easy way to get a quick and effective workout. Keep 3-5-8 lb weights by the TV and stand up at commercials to do a set of bicep curls!
What are some simple exercises we can do in the weeks before birth?
The simplest and most universal exercise anyone can do is walk but this is a time when stretching andcore(primarily the stomach/back)strengthening exercises are key. Many of the exercises shown in the news story are great for women getting closer to giving birth. Sitting in a chair and leaning forward, head down between your legs helps stretch lower back. Knees on the floor, arms crossed on the edge of the chair stretch tight chest and arm muscles. On your hands and knees, round your back up like a cat by tightening your abdominal muscles and hold(helps strengthen your stomach muscles like a sit up!) Leaning up against a wall with your feet about 1 ½ feet away from the wall, slide down into a squat position then try to flatten the small of your back into the wall by tightening your abdominal muscles. These are simple exercises although they may be confusing for a woman unfamiliar with them to understand just by reading these short descriptions.
Can you share some simple ideas to help us get back into shape after baby?
Start kegel exercises right away and plan on walking a lot. Get your baby used to being outdoors in a stroller and walk. One of my favorite things a new Mom can do with their baby to help get back in shape is march around your house carrying your baby! Turn on some music and keep moving by marching, doing side steps, slight squats, and other low impact movements. By holding your baby in different positions, you are working your arm muscles and the added weight of your baby makes these simple movements harder. Moms will be amazed at how much simple marching works abdominal muscles, legs, and provides a good aerobic workout. Marching around your house to 3-4 songs typically ads up to about 15 minutes of exercise and your baby will enjoy the time with you and the excitement of seeing different things around the house!
Why was it important for you to create a video for moms?
I wanted to give Moms a way to enjoy spending quality time with their children and fit a workout into their busy day. New Moms have a hard time trying to juggle everything and operate on little sleep. The exercise series I created offers 3 short workouts for Moms to choose from and No equipment needed. The DVD, Back in Shape with Baby, uses graphic animation and other techniques to keep babies stimulated throughout each workout. The Exercise With Mommy video series was created to make exercising convenient, affordable, and include children so they can begin learning good fitness habits at an early age.
You can find more information about the Exercise With Mommy videos at www.exercisewithmommy.comor arrange personal training with Amy Burton at

HEATHER'S BABY BLOG: My favorite holistic pediatrician offers advice on flexible vaccination schedules and more...

Holistic Pediatrician Dr. David Berger offers nutritional advice for pregnant and breastfeeding moms as well as recommendations for Vitamin D and vaccines.
He says pregnant women should meet with pediatricians BEFORE they give birth to make the transition much easier.
Click on the video above to hear what he has to say about newborn screening, vaccinations during the first year and advice for new parents.
We also asked Dr. Berger a few additional questions:
What nutritional advice do you have for pregnant or breastfeeding moms?
To keep blood sugar levels even, protein should be eaten each time carbohydrates are eaten. There's an increased need for calcium. They should be consuming 120% of the recommended daily allowance on the packaged labels since they are feeding for two.
Avoiding high fructose corn syrup and additives. Try eating as organic as possible.
Tell us why pregnant women should have their Vitamin D level checked?
Almost 90% of pregnant moms and babies are Vitamin D deficient if they are not taking Vitamin D supplements. It really can not be obtained from diet in adequate amounts. It can be obtained through the sun but there are skin cancer risks. I recommend all pregnant and breastfeeding moms get their 25 hydroxy Vitamin D level checked and make sure it is between 50 and 100 ng per ml. It usually takes 1000 units of Vitamin D3 to increase the level by 10 points. Then repeat the test three months later. Vitamin D3 supplements are available over the counter. Do not be confused with Vitamin D2.
What vaccination advice do you have for new parents?
I would recommend learn both the vaccine preventable diseases so they have a better understanding of why vaccines are given. They should look at multiple sources of information so they can make an educated decision on how to proceed. There is no mandate. Vaccines do not have to be given at checkups. Although some pediatricians are more willing to be flexible than others. Parents should also consider what types of exposure that their child could potentially have. For instance, a child in daycare, at two months of age, may have different exposure than a child who stays at home with mom. Ultimately, a family should do what they feel is right for them.
You can contact Dr. David Berger at
You can find more Baby Week related stories and discussion on

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

HEATHER'S BABY BLOG: What the heck is a doula?

Some women in the Tampa Bay area are bringing a doula into the delivery room to help ease labor and delivery fears, and increase their chances of having a vaginal birth.
Studies show having a doula's support can lower c-section rates, the length of labor and the need for an epidural.
C-sections are the most common surgery in the United States. In fact, one out of every three women has one. A new study suggests women whose labor is induced are twice as likely to have one.
The c-section rate in the United States has shot up from five percent in the 1970's to 32 percent today, which is higher than most industrialized countries. Here in the Tampa Bay area, the c-section rate is even higher, around 38 percent.
There are many reasons that contribute to the high rate, including bigger babies, multiple births, older mothers, medical malpractice concerns and the convenience of scheduling a due date. It can also be a life-saving necessity.
Three and a half years ago, St. Petersburg mother Beth Abernethy had a c-section to deliver her daughter, Ella. The second time around with her son, Colton, she wanted to have a more natural birth. With the support of her doctor and doula, Jane Parker, she had a dramatically different experience.
Beth says, "It made all the difference in the world, to be honest with you. From soothing voices, to rubbing my back, to position changes. My birth with Colton, I was present the entire time. It was a quick birth. I was very fortunate. It was about three and a half hours. It gave me the opportunity that I was really seeking. I wanted to be present at his birth."
Women have been comforting and coaching other women through childbirth for centuries. Doula is a Greek word that dates back some 3,000 years and basically means "mothering the mother."
Beth's husband, David, says having that constant companion eased their anxiety. "The nurses are in and out of the room. It's not like they're standing at your bed the entire time, but the doula is always there. You have that constant attention and you're able to ask questions for yourself and your wife and she's asking a lot of things. So, it's absolutely an invaluable resource."
Doula Jane Parker is a former labor and delivery nurse. She has coached hundreds of parents through the process.
"We can breathe through contractions, use different positioning. If you don't know any better, you would stay in the hospital bed. I use massage, aromatherapy, music, things that can distract. I try to create an environment that is like a cocoon."
Doula Jane Parker answers additional questions:
Why did you become a doula?
Throughout my career as a labor and delivery nurse, I enjoyed and highly valued being able to provide continuous emotional and social support to women as I cared for them in labor. As a doula, I am able to provide this holistic approach to women and their families to help them have a safe and satisfying birth experience.
How can a doula help before, during and even after birth?
A doula meets with the mother and her partner before birth to assist them in formulating and refining a vision for their birth. During birth, the doula is a quiet, continuous, knowledgeable presence who supports them in implementing and further refining their wishes. After birth, the doula may assist in the bonding process, help with breast feeding and review the narrative of this key life experience.
Is a doula recommended along with an OBGYN? What about with a midwife?
Yes! The doula can be a valued member of the birth "team", providing non-medical assistance through comfort measures, emotional support advocacy, continued information about choices and what is happening.
What can a family expect during birth?
A doula is a consistent presence during labor, birth and the immediate postpartum period. She assists with breathing and relaxation techniques, position changes for comfort and to facilitate labor and birth. The doula also supports the family in supporting mom. She will assist in implementing the vision of this family's birth.
What are some of the choices a doula can help parents decide?
One of the most important roles of the doula is to help parents understand their choices within the scope of sound medical and nursing care. Parents, not the doula, are always the decision makers. The "when" and "what" of pain medication, other choices for pain management, positions for laboring/birth, Kangaroo care, breast or bottle feeding are just a few of the choices parents may want to consider.
How do you find a qualified doula? What are the best credentials to look for?
Look for a doula who has received training and certification through a professional organization. Two organizations which train/educate/certify doulas, and with which I am most familiar, are the International Childbirth Education Association ( and Doulas of North America ( ). Ask your perspective doula about the number of births she has attended, her availability to you, back-up coverage for emergencies, and if you can speak to families for whom she has provided care. Meet with her in person to determine if you are compatible!
What is the typical cost?
Fees for services range from $200 - $1,000.
Anything else you want to add?
Share some special moments you've experienced with families. The overwhelming delight of a mom exclaiming, "I did it! I birthed my son, my way!" Moments after he was born. A dad, who was unsure he could be at the birth, joyful tears streaming down his face, cutting the umbilical cord of his newborn daughter. Every family deserves a doula to help them have the most satisfying birth experience possible.
Jane Parker, BAN, RN, ICD

HEATHER'S BABY BLOG: Natural way to relieve pregnancy side effects

It has stood the test of time for some 3,000 years. Some Bay Area pregnant women are turning to acupuncture to ease morning sickness, fatigue and other side effects associated with pregnancy.
As part of Baby Week on 10 News, anchor Heather Van Nest (who is weeks away from giving birth) talked about the benefits of acupuncture with Tampa medical doctor and licensed acupuncturist, Dr. Xio Zhang with Tampa Bay Acupuncture Clinic.
You can watch the interview on the top right side of the page.
Dr. Zhang explained how acupuncture helps improve circulation, balance hormones and ease nausea. Dr. Zhang says it can help women get pregnant, stay pregnant (avoid miscarriage) and treat pregnancy related complications including morning sickness, back pain and headaches.
Dr. Zhang says:
-Acupuncture helps restore the natural balance of hormones and improve blood flow to the ovaries and uterus. This helps with fertility and pregnancy.
-Acupuncture theory is based on the fact that the body contains energy (bioenergy). Licensed acupuncturists can manipulate that energy by stimulating various points on the body.
-It takes energy to have morning sickness. Nausea is a symptom of imbalance of energy flow in the GI tract. The GI tract usually flows downward while nausea flows upward. Acupuncture restores normal flow.
-Acupuncture can be helpful managing labor pain and can encourage labor if a baby is past due.

Monday, September 13, 2010

HEATHER'S BABY BLOG: Does HypnoBirthing REALLY work?

Forget swinging pendulums or trances, the HypnoBirthing technique taps into focused concentration and relaxation.
Add soft music, low lights and positive imagery and HypnoBirthing instructors say you have the tools needed to achieve a "shorter, smoother and easier natural birth in peaceful relaxation as nature intended."
We watched half a dozen moms give birth using this technique without any medications or appearance of pain.
Dr. Geraldine Williams from Miami gave birth to her first child using HypnoBirthing deep breathing exercises. We see her smile and text right before giving birth!
"I am in labor and delivery room 3. I have a paper thin cervix. I am 8 centimeters dilated. and the babies head is coming down," says Dr. Williams during delivery.
YouTube is also loaded with videos of moms giving birth in a deep state of relaxation while listening to peaceful CD's.
Bay area mother, Amber Patricio, says HypnoBirthing exercises made her second birth a breeze at Tampa General Hospital. She says it cut her labor time in half and created an incredible natural bonding moment with her husband and daughter, Novella.
"I will say there are moments of intensity... more intense tightness than others, but I can't ever say I was in pain. I never doubted myself or thought, 'I can't do this. This is hurting.' I felt tightness."
"You didn't scream or insist on an epidural?" we asked.
"No way... nothing!"
Amber says the classes helped her build confidence, release fear and anxiety she had from her first birth and have an incredible life experience.
Denby Beauchamp became a certified HypnoBirthing instructor after she used the techniques she now teaches. She says it allowed her to have a successful VBAC with her second child.
Mothers don't pant or learn to push in the 12 hours worth of classes ($250 total). The emphasis is on learning three slow, deep breathing exercises to keep the muscles from tensing up and force the body to relax.
Beauchamp says,"If you've ever been afraid of anything, your muscles get tight and tense and constricted.You carry it in your neck and back and if that occurs during labor, your birthing muscles also become tight and constricted and that produces pain after a period of time."
Parents do have homework. They are asked to listen to the guided imagery CDs nightly, read a HypnoBirthing book, practice light massage and keep a positive perspective.
They say American women need to do what other cultures have been experiencing for centuries - relax, stay calm and trust your body to follow nature's way of birthing.

Click here to watch 10 News HypnoBirthing video story
You can listen to two samples from HypnoBirthing CD below.
For a more in-depth interview with Denby Beauchamp, read below.
Denby Beauchamp
Denby learned about HypnoBirthing® just two weeks before her first child was born. She was so impressed with her experience, that she knew she had to let other women know, "There's a better way to birth our babies!"
Now, she has been teaching HypnoBirthing® for over six years. She is extraordinarily passionate about empowering her moms by helping them realize that this is "their" body, "their" baby and "their" experience. She is committed to helping women become aware of their options, so they can make informed decisions for themselves and their babies, instead of walking away from their births with a heap of regrets.
-Why is it called HypnoBirthing?
HypnoBirthing® teaches women how to utilize self-hypnosis techniques in childbirth to relax and learn to trust their bodies and nature's way of birthing.
I think it's important to allay any fears people might have with regards to using this form of "hypnosis." In HypnoBirthing®, there is no hocus-pocus. And, I can assure you that I do not swing a pocket watch or tell my couples to "look deeply into my eyes" or suggest that "you're getting sleeeeepy." In fact, hypnosis is commonly used therapeutically in many areas of medicine, dental anesthesia and personal therapy sessions.
Despite misconceptions and misinformation, you are definitely not unconscious during self-hypnosis. The HypnoBirthing® mother is deeply relaxed and in a daydream-like state, but she is also an active participant in the labor process. Though she is deeply relaxed, she is totally aware and may return to a conversant state or choose to become mobile whenever she desires. HypnoBirthing® mothers often find that they experience time distortion and are not distracted by other people or their birthing environment, while they focus on their birthing and their baby.
-What is the history behind it?
The concept of HypnoBirthing® is not new, but rather a "rebirth" of the philosophy of birthing as it existed thousands of years ago and as it was recaptured in the work of Dr. Grantly Dick-Read, an English obstetrician, who, in the 1920s, was one of the first to forward the concept of natural birthing. The method teaches you that, in the absence of fear and tension, or special medical circumstances, severe pain does not have to be an accompaniment of labor.
Marie Mongan incorporated the theories of Dr. Jonathan Dye of Buffalo, New York and Grantly Dick-Read of the UK, two pioneers in natural childbirth. Two of her birthings were entirely free of anesthesia at a time when it was unheard of. She later went on to develop what we now know as HypnoBirthing®, The Mongan Method.

-How did HypnoBirthing help you through your labors?
I had always planned to birth my babies naturally, and I remained confident in that choice right up until I took my hospital childbirth preparation class. I honestly wasn't afraid of giving birth until I walked out of that class!! I consider myself blessed to have found HypnoBirthing® just two weeks before my first child was to be born. The fear release session allowed me to release the fears I had accumulated from the hospital class and regain my faith in myself, my body and nature's way of birthing. The breathing and relaxation techniques allowed me to tune into my baby and my body and tune out other distractions. I remember repeating, "I relax so my baby can relax" over and over in my mind. It reminded me to keep my body completely loose and limp and to breathe with my body not only for my sake, but for my baby's sake as well! Instantly, I felt only tightening and pressure-like sensations. I kept waiting for something more intense. In fact, there were times I didn't believe I was in "active" just seemed too easy! There was a moment where I shifted my focus elsewhere and instantly felt my toes curl up, and it got very intense. As soon as I relaxed my body and resumed my breathing, like a light switch being flipped, I went right back to feeling just tightening and pressure! That was my "A-ha moment" where I knew I had to learn how to share HypnoBirthing® with other women.
-What is the main philosophy?
The method teaches you that, in the absence of fear and tension, or special medical circumstances, severe pain does not have to be an accompaniment of labor. You will gain an understanding of how the birthing muscles work in perfect harmony--as they were designed to--when your body is sufficiently relaxed and you trust birth. You will learn how to achieve this kind of relaxation, free of the resistance that fear creates, and you will learn to use your natural birthing instincts for a calm, serene and comfortable birth.
All mammal mothers are drawn into a deep amnesiac condition created by the neuropeptides in the brain and pituitary gland called endorphins. Marie Mongan recognized the idea that the brain could control the birthing process when she was a child, watching a stray cat in the midst of labor. "A dog came into the yard and the cat's labor shut down," said Mongan. "She took the two babies and ran away and then took the others and ran away. Then she had two more."
(I've attached the following link if people would like to read more on this topic:
We encourage expectant mothers to become educated about the choices they have to make and to protect the birth experience for themselves and their babies. We are not opposed to intervention, but unnecessary intervention. We don't believe in rushing a birth unless medically necessary. In fact, if you consider nature's way, you realize that we would never dream of interfering with the birth of a baby chick. They instinctively peck their way out of the egg when the time is right. The same goes with the metamorphosis of a caterpillar becoming a beautiful butterfly. We wouldn't dare interfere with that delicate process of transformation, and yet it occurs in human births all the time. We need to become much more conscientious of our choices and recognize the impact they have on how our babies are birthed into the world. In HypnoBirthing®, women learn to trust their instincts and their bodies to know how to bring their babies into the world in the calm and gentle way that Nature intended.
-What makes it different from other birthing classes?
Other childbirth methods teach couples how to "cope" with the pain in labor. In HypnoBirthing®, we don't believe that pain is a necessary accompaniment to labor if the mother is properly prepared and relaxed. We address the true source of what causes pain in labor, which is ultimately fear. If a person is feeling fearful their body tenses and tightens, including the uterus, after a period of time that tension results in pain. This is known as the Fear-Tension-Pain Syndrome. We utilize self-hypnosis, or deep relaxation with a purpose, along with guided imagery and visualizations to release those fears and allow mothers to birth with calm and confidence.
And, rather than exhausting, shallow breathing and the distraction techniques of typical "prepared childbirth" programs, HypnoBirthing® parents learn deep abdominal breathing and total relaxation, enabling the laboring mother to work in harmony with her body and her baby. This allows her to achieve a shorter and more comfortable labor for herself and baby. And, when it comes time for birthing, we don't believe in forcefully pushing the baby out. We actually teach women to work with and follow the lead of their body to breathe the baby down and out slowly and easily.

-Explain how you replace birthing fears with positive outcomes and why you don't use words like contractions and pain?
From the time we are little girls, many of us have been inundated with the messages that giving birth is long, grueling and agonizing, and so we become fearful and learn to dread the experience. As a result of this, haven't we just created a self-fulfilling continuum? We experience pain in childbirth, in part, because we've come to expect it as a necessary accompaniment to birth!
In HypnoBirthing®, couples are encouraged to surround themselves with positive people and messages, to create a positive view of childbirth and the expectation that their birthing will be the beautiful, peaceful experience they've planned. Our Fear Release Sessions are integral to this process, as they allow each person to address their fears and then release them. As previously discussed, fear in labor can create tension and pain. That same fear and anxiety can also create adrenaline production in the body, causing the labor to become dysfunctional, a common reason for Cesarean Section surgery. Releasing fear helps couples rebuild their confidence in themselves and letting nature lead the way.
We also recognize that concepts that we are exposed to repeatedly have a way of conditioning our thoughts over time. The association of pain with childbirth is just one example of a universally held conditioning. Words and suggestions can trigger physiological responses within the body....some will keep your mind calm, while others may trigger stress or fear. I know the first time I heard the term "bloody show" in my hospital childbirth preparation class my face scrunched up and I thought, "I don't even want to know what that is." Because it certainly didn't sound good. In HypnoBirthing®, we recognize that this physiological response can cause tension in the body, such as my scrunched face and resistance to hearing more about this "bloody show." So, we've modified the language to have a softer, gentler response within the body. For instance, instead of "bloody show", we call it "birth show." And, we refer to the "mucous plug" as the "uterine seal." Much easier on the ears, isn't it? And, of course, everyone knows "contractions" hurt, so there's a built-in expectation with that concept, so we refer to them as "surges." That term has a much more fluid, more rhythmic flow to it, just as the birthing muscles draw up and back in a rhythmic fashion. We truly recognize the importance of the mind-body-spirit connection and incorporate it in all aspects of the childbirth experience.
-What do you say to moms who can't imagine being focused enough to give birth without any pain medication?
As with anything new to us, it takes an understanding of what we want to accomplish and knowing how we're going to accomplish it and then making a commitment to practice it in order to master it. I suggest that couples discover what helps them relax. Once they know what they like (i.e., relaxing on a bed or couch, dim lights, soft music, pillows placed just so, and so on), they should recreate that experience each and every time they practice their breathing and relaxation. The mind-body connection will soon recognize what comes next, allowing relaxation to come much more quickly and easily and allow you to relax more deeply in a shorter period of time. Before long, it will become second nature and you'll just employ the same techniques you've practiced at home wherever you'll be birthing. And, as with anything, you get out of it what you're willing to put into it. The rewards of having a calm, gentle and relaxed childbirth are well worth the investment you'll make!
Here are some of the advantages to using the HypnoBirthing® method:
  • Removes the fear associated with childbirth
  • Reduces the need for chemical painkillers
  • Eliminates the fatigue associated with childbirth
  • Reduces the first stage of labor by several hours
  • Promotes the special bonding between mother and child as well as birthing partner
  • Makes the birthing process a beautiful experience as nature intended
  • More rapid post-natal recovery
-How can HypnoBirthing help moms who end up with c-sections or epidurals?
First of all, only 16 percent of HypnoBirthers undergo c-sections, compared to the national average of 33 percent. The techniques you will learn in your HypnoBirthing classes will help you to learn relaxation skills that will be useful to both you and your baby, regardless of your birth experience. In the event that medical intervention of any sort is needed, you will find yourself better able to remain calm and in control. Mothers who have needed scheduled cesareans for medical reasons report that they were totally relaxed before, during and after the procedure. Many report that they needed little or no medication following the birth, and they were able to return to normal functioning in a very short period of time.
For more information on how HypnoBirthing® can help mothers who must have a cesarean section go to:
-How is a typical HypnoBirthing delivery different from most in the hospital?
At this time, about 72 percent of U.S. HypnoBirthing® mothers birth naturally, without medication. We encourage our mothers to consider their childbirth options and identify their birth preferences. So many times, mothers come into the hospital and are immediately put into bed, given an IV, hooked up to a blood pressure cuff and are soon strapped up to the electronic fetal monitor, offered an epidural or other medication to manage their "pain." Then, they're pretty much expected to stay there until birthing...oftentimes without being offered any other alternatives.
Many of our mothers choose to dim the lights, turn on soft, relaxing music, use aromatherapy and opt to change positions frequently. They choose intermittent electronic fetal monitoring vs. continuous monitoring so they have freedom to move about. They enjoy the benefits of light touch massage, slow dancing and gentle words of encouragement from their birthing companions. They may choose to use a birthing ball or to walk around, sit in a rocking chair or rest in a shower or tub if it's available. They often choose a birthing position that will least likely require an episiotomy, like a leap frog position or the use of a birth stool, as opposed to lying prone without the benefits of gravity. They may also request that hospital staff refrain from mentioning pain, hurt or the offer of medications. And, HypnoBirthing® mothers also opt for mother-directed breathing down instead of being directed or "coached" to "push, push, push." Our mothers breathe their babies down, gently and easily, by following the lead of their bodies without any forced or rushed pushing.
HypnoBirthing® mothers learn to tune into their babies and their bodies, so they do not have to rely on machines or other people to tell them what they need or when they need it. This has proven to be very effective and much more rewarding for mothers. Our couples also learn the importance of having respectful dialogue with their care providers to ensure they have the best birth possible. We want everyone to be in sync. I suggest my couples ask their care providers to explain the need for any medical procedure and that couples grant their permission before any action is taken. If they are uncomfortable or unclear about anything, they are encouraged to continue asking questions until they are satisfied they're making the best decision based on the situation. I never want one of my couples to walk away saying things like, "I wish I had known this..." or "No one told us that..." or "Next time..." This is one of the greatest experiences of our lifetime, we really need to protect it and be conscious about it.
-How can the classes and CDs help?
The HypnoBirthing® course includes a packet filled with lots of great information to build confidence in your birth choice. You also receive the text book, HypnoBirthing®- The Mongan Method and 2 CDs that are designed to help teach your mind and body to drift deeply and easily into the kind of relaxation you will call upon during your birthing. The affirmations are also powerful in reminding us that our bodies are designed perfectly to birth our babies (barring any special circumstances), and that there is nothing flawed or broken about our bodies. We are very visual beings, so we utilize a lot of guided imagery and visualizations to make it easier for our minds to assimilate the information provided.
Taking HypnoBirthing® with a Certified HypnoBirthing® Practitioner offers so many advantages. For instance, you can read about a breathing technique in a book, but having someone who has actually utilized the techniques successfully, demonstrate and guide you through them can ensure you are effective in your childbirth experience. Viewing our DVD with several moms using the HypnoBirthing® technique, also allows you to see for yourself just how calm and gentle the birth experience can truly be. And, having the experience of the Fear Release Session is one of the most powerful components of HypnoBirthing that really sets couples up for great success in their birth experience.
Couples also learn the value of preparing their "Birth Preferences", as well as the benefits of light touch massage and important stretching exercises to help prepare their body for birthing. Another great benefit is that those wonderful breathing and relaxation techniques that work so beautifully in preparing for and birthing your baby, are also valuable skills you can use in your everyday life.
-When should couples start taking classes? How long do they last/cost?
It is never too early, nor too late, to take the course. When you take it early on, you have the rest of your pregnancy to enjoy the deepened awareness of your body's wonderful changes, and you have some great relaxation techniques to help deal with any discomforts of pregnancy. Another advantage to taking it earlier is having more time to practice what you've learned.
If you feel you need a refresher before your big day, I do offer the opportunity for you to sit in on future classes, or I may meet with you privately for a refresher session.
I offer four three-hour sessions in small group or private settings. The small group class is $250. Private classes are also available for an additional fee.

To learn more about Denby Beauchamp and the HypnoBirthing classes she offers in Tampa Bay, visit