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By West Norwood Therapies Team, Jul 2 2019 07:29PM

Hypnobirthing teacher Clare Butler reviews her wonderful recent massage experience with colleague Melanie Howlett

I was really looking forward to meeting Melanie. Melanie recently joined West Norwood Therapies and specialises in therapeutic & deep tissue massage and Reiki - what a combo! I felt sure that I would receive a massage that would de-stress me and make me feel overall relaxed and balanced. I am glad to say that I was not wrong.

After a 3-year break, 6 weeks ago I started to work in an office again and, like a lot of people, I now spend the majority of my time sitting in front of a computer screen. Overall, I can say that I quickly adapted to my new work routine and I am enjoying it, but wow, my body has felt the shock straight away! On just day two my shoulder and neck started to freeze up and I could feel the balls of stressful tension sitting on my joints.

It was time to finally book my appointment with Melanie!

Over the years I have had many massages and seen pretty much all of the people at West Norwood Therapies. It is wonderful that you can confidently book any of them and you know that you will have a great massage experience.

A great massage experience is not just about the technique and pressure applied. Here is what I look for and how Melanie achieves great rather than good.

Atmosphere: Melanie is very aware of the importance of creating the right environment. The music was calming and swept me away as I relaxed.

Professional: Melanie’s desire to find out exactly where the tension was in my body, and what I wanted to get out of my session with her, immediately put me at ease.

Attentive: Melanie was very attentive and made sure that the pressure she used was to my liking. Melanie also informed me before she used a cooling gel in case I did not want it.

And last but not least…

Knowledge & Added Value: It is clear when talking to Melanie that she really understands the body and she tailors what she does depending on the individual. Melanie does not take a ‘one size fits all’ approach. I was really impressed when, after the massage, Melanie gave me some more insight into why I feel the tension where I do. Melanie suggested some follow up exercises to help give me relief.

If you are either feeling balls of tension in your body or just keen to give your body the TLC it deserves, then please get in touch with Melanie or one of the other great massage therapists at West Norwood Therapies. You will not be disappointed.

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Jan 30 2019 09:00AM

Hypnobirthing teacher Clare Butler shares some thoughts about positive and negative birth stories as part of National Story Telling Week

When I heard that National Story Telling Week was coming up, my mind at once jumped to birth stories. Whether you have had a baby or are expecting, here are a few things to consider.

What is a positive birth story? Let’s get this straight – as a hypnobirthing teacher I do not simply regard a positive birth to be one where pain relief was not used. In my view, a positive birth story is a labour and birth that, even if there were some unexpected twists and turns or interventions, you felt calm, relaxed, in control and ultimately you and your birth partner felt positive about it.

Unfortunately, those that are fortunate enough to have had a positive birth are not always sharing their story. This is a growing trend that is due to a number of reasons: people are sensitive to those who may have had a negative experience, they don’t want to be perceived as boasting and there is a tendency to focus on the negative rather than the positive – just look at the news....

The sensitivity point came to the forefront recently. England footballer Harry Kane suffered a backlash after tweeting “So proud of Kate for having the most amazing water birth with no pain relief at all”. This is a positive account that was received negatively. It left some women who have used pain relief during labour feeling a failure and some angry. I understand why some women took it this way but as he pointed out, any woman can give birth how they like and also every birth is different. As a Hypnobirthing couple, I am sure that even if Harry’s partner Kate had chosen to use pain relief, that he would still be proud and elated after a positive birth experience. Despite Harry creating a bit of a storm, I am confident that his tweet would have also had a positive effect – helping expectant couples feel more confident ahead of giving birth and less afraid.

I also wanted to highlight the importance of choice when it comes to hearing birth stories. Like a well-stocked library, there needs to be an array of birth stories available to expectant parents. Every birth story is valid and has a lesson but I am a strong believer in giving couples the option to hear it or, after reading the title, allowing them to put it back on the shelf. Couples need to be informed ahead of birth but, most importantly, they need to feel confident and not fearful. This will result in a calmer experience.

So, what is my main message to those that have already given birth? Please ask your pregnant friend, colleague or stranger before sharing your birth story with them – especially if it is negative in any way, and please offer to share any positive birth story you may have. If we go into birth with only negative stories and thoughts swirling through our heads, then we are far more likely to have a negative experience.

To find out more about hypnobirthing and the classes on offer, please get in touch.

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Aug 29 2018 08:00AM

Hypnobirthing teacher Clare Butler shares some thoughts on how education and practice can really positively impact your birthing experience. Meet Clare at our Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond workshop on Saturday 22nd September or attend her Essentials class on Thursday 13th September. More info

As back to school approaches, I can’t help but think of the parallels between education and giving birth. Knowledge really is power during labour. If you understand how your body and mind can work together in labour, then you can experience giving birth with confidence, feeling calm and relaxed. This is the great benefit of hypnobirthing.

I highlight to all my clients the importance of practice in hypnobirthing. It is not like getting ready for an exam though…. It really is the nicest practice you could ever wish for – simply practice relaxing each day

during pregnancy. As well as preparing you for giving birth, it is a lovely way to reduce the daily burst of stress hormone (cortisol) that may be lingering in your body.

Remember doing case studies at school? I don’t use them in hypnobirthing, but something very similar. I am a firm believer in sharing positive birth stories. This helps expectant couples realise that a positive birth experience is possible and, in turn, gives them confidence for labour.

With this in mind, I wanted to share that I was fortunate enough to teach my old school friend Amy earlier this year and she recently gave birth to baby Theo. Amy embraced the practice guidance I gave her and, I am happy to say, that she had a very positive birth experience. Amy found giving birth hard work (it is called labour for a reason!) but the hypnobirthing techniques and the work she put in was invaluable.


If you are interested in hypnobirthing then please get in contact for more information The next Hypnobirthing Essentials course is on Thursday 13th September 1-5pm £165. Full course and private 1to1 sessions are also available.

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Jun 13 2018 08:00AM

Hypnobirthing teacher Clare Butler's partner Rob shares his introduction - and subsequent conversion - to hypnobirthing and how it helped with his daughters' births.

“Hypnobirthing?...”. I was reluctant and fairly sceptical ahead of our first hypnobirthing session. We had already arranged to do an antenatal course and, to be honest, the name alone put me off. However, being a dutiful husband, I was willing to go along.

We turned up at the course and, living up to my expectations, there was a candle flickering in the corner and we were offered a rose water infused muffin. Oh no, what had I let myself in for? Everyone introduced themselves and amongst the open minded enthusiastic attendees I felt slightly out of place.

However, as the course progressed, the logic of what we were being taught really started to sink in. There were great similarities with techniques we had been taught at work for handling nerves when speaking in front of large audiences, and also to breathing and visualisation techniques used by sports people to make sure that they perform at their highest level and do not let fear and anxiety get in the way.

If anyone asks me now about the birth of our two children, or about hypnobirthing in general, then I cannot speak highly enough about it. Hypnobirthing gives the birth partner a role and equips them with skills and techniques to help both them and the mum throughout the birth. It was amazing and I am so grateful that a random person at a wedding told Clare about it. Both Clare and I felt in control, calm and relaxed, and enjoyed two really positive homebirths. It was a really wonderful experience.

My new parent tip? Do hypnobirthing. Happy Fathers Day. Visit for more information.

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