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By West Norwood Therapies Team, Feb 14 2018 09:00AM

Hypnobirthing teacher Clare Butler looks at the possibility of you having a romatic experience during your baby's birth...a time for romance, really?!

A romantic birth?! You heard right. Here is how…

You don’t often hear the words ‘romantic’ and ‘birth’ in the same sentence and to some the idea may sound unbelievable and/or a bit cheesy, but please hear me out…

I am not claiming that you will be able to enjoy a relaxed dinner together in a restaurant whilst sipping wine and flirting. What I am saying is that throughout labour it is possible for you to both experience copious bursts of oxytocin (the hormone of love) rather than default to fight, flight, freeze mode.

It is possible for your birth partner to be part of the process (not just feel it) and to truly be your emotional, physical and mental support. You can feel extra close, happy and that you are going through labour together as partners who love and deeply care for one another. Romantic right?! The result is not only a baby (hooray!) but also a truly positive birth experience for you BOTH.

Hypnobirthing enables this and has led to many people describing it as ‘romantic’. See, it’s not just me! Here is how…

1) Hypnobirthing involves preparation. You will attend a class together, read the same materials and when possible practice relaxation together. Well in advance of labour you are then both on the same page, you have decided together what your birth preferences are and both of you feel empowered, equipped and ready.

2) Hypnobirthing gives the birth partner a role. They are not just the transport organiser, bath runner and cord cutter. No way! The birth partner is given guidance on how they can support their loved one in pregnancy, birth and beyond. In particular, they are taught how they can keep their birth partner in a hypnbobirth bubble of relaxation and calm throughout labour.

3) Hypnobirthing helps prepare you for any ‘pot holes’ or diversions along the birth journey (basically any unplanned events) so that the birth partner can calmly bat away any adrenaline that may be creeping into either them or their loved one. They can instead make informed decisions and feel in control and calm throughout.

Are you interested in having this type of birth experience? For more information on hypnobirthing courses please contact

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Aug 15 2017 08:00AM

Hypnobirthing teacher, Clare Butler, shares some of the core principles of hypnobirthing for use in every day life to celebrate Relaxation Day on 15th August - and enter a prizedraw to win a free relaxation session with her at (by 30th August)

The combination of work/being busy, feeling excitement and perhaps anxiety on becoming a parent, oh and maybe making minor changes to your home such as building an extension (we love to put that pressure on ourselves in the lead up to birth), doesn’t breed relaxation. How are you supposed to relax now, let alone whilst you are in labour, and then (gulp) become a parent??

The answer is hypnobirthing. Hypnobirthing will, and I have heard many parents quote this, give you and your partner relaxation skills for life. I can’t say that hypnobirthing has made me into a 100% chilled out mum. I still have my stressed moments but I am certainly more relaxed. Hypnobirthing has rounded me - I have an appreciation for the power of relaxation and its impact on how the mind and body can work together. We are amazing beings.

To celebrate Relaxation Day, here are some of the principles of hypnobirthing and how you can start utilising them today, whether in connection with the birth of your baby or otherwise in your everyday life.


“Take a deep breath” is a common prompt people give when a situation becomes stressful - mainly because it works. Take a long breath through the nose and expel it even longer out through the mouth. This will help calm and focus the mind and breed oxytocin (the love hormone). This is a breathing technique used in labour and is certainly beneficial to use in the future if you have a stressful moment.


Think back to that amazing sunset on a past holiday, imagine your baby in your arms or picture your daughter as a young adult. All of these visualisations will help you gain perspective, think optimistically and relax.


We tend to be at our most relaxed state at night as we enter sleep. In hypnobirthing most of your relaxation practice, which includes listening to positive statements and music, takes place at this time. Listen to the same material whilst you are in labour and you will associate it with going to sleep. The same applies for years down the line. Catch my drift? zzzzz


Hypnobirthing is a full antenatal programme that ensures that you start labour with full awareness of how the body is designed to give birth and what you can expect from the birth. Like in a job interview or when giving a presentation, if you know the subject well then you will feel confident, your fears will reduce and you can be relaxed. This empowering experience will stand you in good stead for being a confident and relaxed parent in the future.

Fancy perfecting this life skill? At West Norwood Therapies there is a hypnobirthing course for everyone – an all new Essential Class on Thursdays 1-5pm (£150), the full hypnobirthing course (£280) and one-to-one refresh, taste or relax sessions (£60). Contact to book.

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Jun 14 2017 08:00AM

Our new hypnobirthing teacher, Clare Butler, shares the importance of fathers being involved in birth preperation and labour - and wishes you a happy fathers day!

Dads are like Mothers; they have a primal instinct to nurture, provide and defend. But do they all realise how important their role as a birthing partner can be? Some do and some don’t (sorry, we have all watched one born every minute!).

It may sound crazy but the degree of pain that mum (let’s call her Gemma) may feel and the efficiency of her labour is greatly influenced by her birthing partner and, in this case, the father of her child (let’s call him Steve). It is quite logical really and greatly depends on Gemma’s hormone levels, and her body confidently responding to labour and being allowed to work.

Much like many other parts of the body, the uterus has two sets of muscles that are designed to work together as a pair. They can’t work to their full ability though if, for example, Gemma is full of fear and tension - feeling insecure and like she is being watched. Think of a cat that retreats to safety under a bed to give birth…. Ultimately, Gemma needs to feel confident, relaxed and secure so that oxytocin (also known as the love hormone) is generated to make the uterine muscles work. The increased oxytocin levels in turn secrete more endorphins (the hormone of comfort) helping Gemma feel less pain.

My top tips for birth partner and expectant dad Steve are:

1) Prepare

I am not suggesting that Steve goes as far as practicing birth positions in advance or doing his pelvic floor exercises daily (though he would find these very beneficial too). What I mean is that Steve should be given full knowledge of the birthing process, so that he is aware of the “what ifs” and will be confident enough to speak to the healthcare professionals on Gemma’s behalf whilst she focuses on remaining relaxed and calm during labour.

2) Security

We can learn a lot from animals. For example, a herd of elephants surrounds a fellow elephant that is giving birth so that she is secure from lions and hyenas. OK, we are lucky enough that us humans don’t suffer the same threat level but we too need to feel secure during labour. Assure Gemma that you are there, remind her not to be fearful and that she CAN give birth.

3) Love

We have all heard of stories of women shouting, “Get off me!” to people during labour, which is no wonder why some birth partners may want to keep a distance. Get the endorphins flowing though by showing Gemma love during birth. Gentle stroking of the hand and back plus comforting words. Nature is amazing - if a monkey during labour becomes agitated, another monkey gently grooms her.

In summary, help get Gemma in a relaxed endorphin and oxytocin-filled state (also known as a hypnobirthing bubble) and keep her in it.

“Errr hypno what? hypnobirthing? OK….yes if you think it will help Clare I will come along” was the sceptical but supportive response I got from Rob before we started our first hypnobirthing antenatal class. In both our minds though it was sooo worth it. The hypnobirthing class made us both realise how instrumental the birth partner is. It gave Rob a role and it taught us how we could work together to experience a positive birth. Rob KNOWS that he was needed. We were a team!

Steve, I am sure that you and Gemma will make a great team too. Best wishes to you both and Happy Father’s Day!

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Mar 1 2017 09:00AM

WNT founder and massage therapist, Jennie Duck, shares her experience of therapies and teachings from colleagues during her pregnancy last year

We have been planning a pregnancy information day (Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond) at West Norwood Therapies to share the broad experience our team has and the support we can offer people during their pregnancy journey. And this has led me to think back to my not-at-all-distant (but a lifeltime ago!) past and how I used the various therapies on offer during my pregnancy…


Acupuncture and pregnancy go hand in hand for me. I actually had acupuncture way before I was pregnant to treat polycystic ovaries. My sessions with Philippa cleared that up, regulated my cycle and I had an easy conception. I kept having acupuncture throughout pregnancy, mostly for general wellbeing, I found it very grounding and balancing (physically and emotionally). The therapist matters too, and Philippa’s steady presence, interest in my progress and thoughtful advice around diet, movement and labour was a good support.

She also armed my husband and me with some acupressure techniques and moxa. The former was my primary pain relief all through labour (secondary was 2 paracetemol around 2am!) and was a helpful way of involving my husband in birth preparation and supporting me through birth itself. Then we used the moxa a week or so after to help recovery (we were going to use it before too as my baby was breech, but he flipped himself a few days before) and I’ve since had some acupuncture to help full recovery internally – turns out that can all take a while to get back to normal, it’s quite a thing growing and birthing a baby!


Pilates was another fantastic support to me from pre-conception right through labour. I had a mixture of one-to-one sessions and prenatal classes, both with Matthew before he joined WNT, and I felt so strong through my pregnancy and immediate recovery from labour. Though I work with bodies, working with your own is a different matter and I learned a lot from my sessions about how to move safely with a giant bump sticking out of me and to build strength in the most necessary areas to support both the baby and my body. More surprisingly, Pilates with Matthew also helped me relax - there was a good level of focus on the breath and some visualisations and relaxation exercises that really made a difference. We also incorporated some of the exercises in our birth preparation with my husband (lots of tandem squats!) and we now own 2 exercise balls - one at my desk and the other in the bedroom for bouncing baby Willow to sleep at 3am :-)

The concept of prenatal pilates was simple but powerful: Build enough strength to support the baby and help your body manage the extra weight safely, and be able to relax these same developed muscles to be able to get the baby worked!


As a massage therapist I am obviously a big advocate of massage through all stages of life and I never go very long without getting on the massage table myself. During pregnancy the desire to have your muscles kneaded is especially acute and the relief to your lower back and shoulders is particularly sweet! Durning my last trimester my husband gave me a foot massage and lower back rub every evening. Unfortunately this hasn't become a permanent fixture, our baby is the only one who gets a daily massage these days...but that again was helpful for my husband to feel involved and for me to feel relief and connection to him. I saw my colleagues for fuller, professional treatment too - Veronica is a very understanding therapist around pregnancy changes and her treatments really feel nurturing which is what you need in pregnancy. I had some lovely deep massage with Erika too, in fact she helped Willow make his way down - I had a massage with her on Friday afternoon and went into labour the following Monday...


While acupuncture, pilates and massage were regular fixtures for me during my pregnancy, I only saw Yinka for osteopathy a handful of times. This was of course limited by time and finance, I couldn't manage all 4 so regularly! But I did call on Yinka when I felt like things were getting a bit twingy. Once when my hip felt like it was a bit unstable, once when I had a twinge in my groin and another time in the early days when I fell off my bike and tweaked my neck. Each time it wasn't long to get back on track and any longer-term issues were averted. I find osteopathy helpful for getting a better understanding of pain and biomechanics and a really empowering treatment to have.

I know I am lucky to work in a world where I have this support structure around me and it may not be possible to have as many different treatments as consistently as I have, but I hope that sharing my experience will help other women on their pregnancy journey to see what support there is available and to make informed choices about what could best benefit you. Our pregnancy information day is being planned to this same effect, so do come along if you are interested to hear more.

More information about Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, our information day for women, couples and birth partners.

Jennie Duck is back from maternity leave, working a reduced hours and only seeing existing clients.

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