'I’m Sarah! A qualified Calm Birth School Hypnobirthing Instructor serving families inWest Dorset, Bridport and surrounding areas.
I became aware of Hypnobirthing 13 years ago whilst pregnant with my first child. I wanted to know everything there was to know about childbirth and felt the standard hospital antenatal class wouldn't cut it!
We were about to take an NCT class when I discovered Hypnobirthing was an option and I instantly loved the ethos behind it. I came away feeling so much more prepared for birth with relaxation techniques I still use to this day.
Now I teach Hypnobirthing...and I love it!
I qualified in 2020 with The Calm Birth School and enjoy nothing better than sharing the knowledge Hypnobirthing can bring with couples.
My goals for you when teaching are:
To advocate for yourself or your birth partner.
To use the tools you have learnt to have a more calm, relaxed birth.
To feel more connected to your body and your baby.
To have more confidence in your body.
To be able to cope with whatever your labour may throw at you!
Join one of my classes to find out more about how Hypnobirthing can help you have a more empowered birth and that it is more thanjust 'breathing'!
During my pregnancy, myself and my husband took the Calm Birth School hypnobirthing course with Wave Hypnobirthing which ended up being a really important tool in the last part of my pregnancy and labour. I listened to the affirmation MP3's most nights before I went to sleep, and actually on the night of my labour I put the Relax for Birth mp3 on to relax as I was in early labour. I also used the Calm breathing during some stressful hospital appointments which were key in me having the birth I so desperately wanted!
The day that I was 41 weeks and 2 days pregnant, I had a membrane sweep booked with a midwife from the homebirth team, but having had one a couple of days before and it not having much of an effect, I was feeling a bit sceptical about it. This one however, proved very different!
At 1pm, the midwife could feel baby's head and said I was 2cm dilated already, she performed the sweep and then confidently asked if "when she came back later" she should park in the space next door! Almost immediately I had pretty strong backache, but I didn't want to get my hopes up so I ignored it. I kept moving and ended up walking to the park with my five year old in an attempt to get things moving
. By the time my husband got home from work at 3:20, I was having niggling aches which again, I didn't want to get excited about. It wasn't until 5:30pm I started timing them and they were coming every 5-7 minutes. After a long latent phase with my first son, I was well aware this could go on for a while so chose to carry on ignoring them mostly.
At 9:20pm, I made the choice to go to bed and get a little bit of sleep, just in case things were to kick off. I put my affirmations on my phone, dabbed a bit of lavender essential oil on my wrists and settled in, still in denial that anything was happening. I managed to sleep for an hour before I woke at 10:30pm and realised that the niggling pains were now surges that were waking me up and I couldn't sleep through them anymore. I went to the toilet and my waters released as I was sat there, I was quite grateful they hadnt gone when I was in bed 5 minutes earlier
! Pretty much straight away the surges got more intense, and I was having to use the breathing techniques to breath through them. My husband Jake started setting up our living room, and I had texted my sister Sarah, who was my second birth partner, so she was on her way. When she arrived she carried on helping Jake set up the space downstairs, including inflating the birth pool which we had left until the last minute! By this time I was really having to breath through the surges which were coming every couple of minutes.
The midwife was on her way and I did consider whether or not she would make it as it seemed that things were going very quickly this time round! She arrived just after midnight, at which point I was having to concentrate on using my hypnobirthing breathing with every surge. Jake and Sarah were filling the pool now, and had stuck some affirmation cards up which I read in between surges. I remember reading the "Every surge brings me closer to my baby" card multiple times and repeating it in my head when I really felt like I couldn't do it.
After the midwife arrived, I relaxed a little bit, the surges were still very intense and after an examination, the midwife told me I was 4cm dilated. Now I just really wanted to get into the pool for the relief I knew it would probably bring me! After some bailing out and refilling, the pool was still on the cold side but I knew I needed to get in, flinging my leg over the high side of the pool and into the water.
The weightlessness of the water made such a difference, but I didn't have long to enjoy it as another surge came and I found myself baring down without even intending to, and making the most primal noise I'd made so far! Something in me changed then, and I suddenly got a rush of fear and sat back saying "I can't do it guys!" to Jake, Sarah and Julie the midwife. In my head, although I was saying I couldn't, I knew I could and I knew from talking about it during our hypnobirthing course, that this was transition.
I couldn't believe it when only half an hour earlier I'd been examined as 4cm, but sure enough with the next surge and the amazingness of the fetal ejection reflex, baby Maddox's head was born, and a minute later, the rest of him followed. Just seven minutes after getting into the birth pool, he was born! He needed some help to breathe at first so Julie cut the cord and instructed Sarah to call an ambulance but within a few minutes he had pinked up and was doing okay. Despite the drama after he was born,
Maddox's birth was absolutely an amazing experience, world's away from my first birth and the exact healing birth that I had wanted. Using hypnobirthing definitely kept me calm throughout pregnancy and in my labour, and the things we learnt on the course were totally invaluable for myself and for my husband.
Danni & Jay
When I found out I was pregnant again I knew I would use my hypnobirthing experience. I did it 12 years ago so I knew I could go with a refresh course.
I was lucky enough that my wonderful friend - Sarah of Wave Hypnobirthing, was starting her own journey of teaching parents to be the amazing power of hypnobirthing. So I took her course!
I had been experiencing early signs of labour for almost 2 weeks and at 40+3 weeks I went in to be induced due to reduced movements of my baby. I was terrified to say the least but after conversations with my fiancé and Sarah helping me find and research some positive induction stories, I went ahead.
I went in for my induction at 11:00 on the Saturday and due to my non movements, constant surges (with no discomfort I might add) and only being 1cm dilated, they wanted to wait for a doctors advice. No doctor was available until 21:50. The doctor finally advised a pessary to be put in for 6 hours to see how I got on. I went to sleep.
I woke up about 04:00 with a rather noticeable discomfort every time I had a surge - By 05:00 I was in the bath trying to slow down the surges as there was no let up. With a change of staff at 07:00 I asked to have the pessary taken out knowing my labour had progressed massively. The new staff member was less than helpful which wasn’t fun or calming.
I asked for a midwife but was told I needed an internal before they could send me to the labour ward. Unfortunately due to me being induced I wasn’t allowed to go to the birthing centre. The staff member tried to give me an internal but it was too unpleasant with the pessary in, so she agreed to take it out. With her insisting that I laid flat for an internal and my constant surges, I couldn’t bear the internal. So no midwife.
The breathing techniques that I learnt from hypnobirthing and knowing my rights helped me through this staff members ignorance. I was texting my fiancé with my progress hoping that he would get to me in time if it was before the 09:00 visiting hours.
About 08:00 I told the staff I needed the loo.. the response was ‘don’t have a baby in that toilet’ not very encouraging. I didn’t need the loo, I was having a baby. By 09:00 I heard my fiancé outside but was in a position that I couldn’t get to him. He came looking for me 20 mins later to find me against a wall, in a toilet, trying to resist the urge to push. My surges were non stop, I couldn’t walk.
After getting back to my bed, having an internal and finding out that I was fully dilated they called a midwife and I was transferred to the labour ward. This was about 10:00.My midwife was wonderful, very encouraging, asked me about my birth plan or how I would like to have my baby. I also had a trainee midwife come into my room to assist (Daisy) she was also wonderful and encouraging.
About 20mins after me getting into my labour room, my waters released. Then it was all systems go… I tried a few positions, standing leaning over the bed, on all 4s, on my side…in the end I had the head of the bed raised with me facing it on my knees. This was the easiest.
My fiancé was in my eye view, I could bring my knees in and my ankles out opening my pelvis and breath my baby down. With each surge I started with breathing her down, then pushing and holding that push. A lot of stretching, back and forth with my babies head and it was out.
This was a huge relief. Unfortunately not long after this I heard Hannah ask me to turn over now as my baby was stuck and needed to be out. As I turned over (faster than I had moved in the past 5 months) I saw a room full of people. 2 helped me get my knees up and my baby was out in no time, not breathing for a while, a little resuscitation and I heard that long awaited cry.
Disappointed with the no cord clamping delay or immediate skin to skin, I was hugely grateful for the fast work of Hannah noticing shoulder dystocia and getting my baby out safely. This was far from the labour or birth I was hoping for, but using breathing techniques, knowing more about labour and what my rights were as that person in labour helped me massively. I would highly recommended not only hypnobirthing but my instructor Sarah - Wave Hypnobirthing.
Baby Olive was born on the Sunday at 12:01 midday.
Toni & Chris
'In the days around my babies due date I started to become quite anxious about induction so I started listening to the fear release mp3 and birth affirmations a couple of times a day and tell myself my baby was getting closer to being in my arms with each day that passed.
I came to terms with the fact I might not get the birth I'd first envisioned. I made arrangements for my children to sleep out the night before induction and planned a lovely last day out as a mum of 2. We enjoyed our outing and on the drive home I noticed I was having pains around 4.30pm, I took my children to my mums and she noticed I was in pain so I explained that I thought it could be the start of things, she suggested I had a bath and saw how things went.
I text my partner and he came over, my mum and partner kept an eye on the gaps between the contractions which were getting closer together and suggested I got out of the bath to go to hospital however I wanted to wait as long as possible because I didn’t want to be told I wasn't in established labour and be turned away from. I also knew in my mind that things were getting real and this was going to hurt, my partner put the affirmations for birth mp3 on and after this I got out of the bath and got ready to go to the hospital.
On the way to the hospital I was quite scared but my partner kept telling me I could do this and reminding me to breathe slowly and kept telling me to remember my Calm Birth breathing. When we arrived at the hospital Maternity assessment had been moved upstairs, I had to stop a couple of times to breathe through my contractions which my partner was very good at reminding me to do.
We were asked to wait in a bay but I felt unable to sit down, I told my partner I felt like I was going to bare down and they moved me into a side room and asked to perform a VE. Upon examination the midwife explained I had done an amazing job to get up the stairs at 8cm dilated and said the pressure I could feel was my waters bulging, the pain was intense at this point and I closed my eyes and breathed through it whilst they wheeled me down to the labour ward. Chris told them I was really wanting a water birth and requested a room with a bath, they explained they would try to fill a bath in time but I looked at Chris and said I didn’t think I would get to have a bath the baby was coming.
At 8.15pm we arrived at delivery suite, they explained the bath was ready for me but I remained on the bed to breathe through my current contraction, I got off the bed and into the bath as my waters broke. Chris offered to put the affirmations on again but I declined so he just carried on explaining how well I was doing and encouraging me.
I knew I was in the transition phase and kept saying it was hurting and that I didn’t know if I could do it but I knew in my mind I could. Chris and the midwife both told me I was getting so close to meeting my baby and to breathe and push. I remember Chris saying 'you're doing brilliant I can see her face' and I remember thinking I can do this she’s going to be here and pushing with all my strength and at 8.26pm Maggie was born.
The midwife lifted her up onto my chest and with her cry I just felt relief and remember saying to Chris 'I did it she’s here!' the midwife offered me an injection to pass the afterbirth but I declined and waited in the bath for it to pass.
Before the birth we explained we had chosen to use a cord tie but the midwives didn’t seem very confident about using it so asked if they could clamp the cord then tie the cord tie and recut it which we were happy to do, so Chris cut the cord and then the midwife tied the tie and the returned Maggie to me for plenty of skin on skin time and she had her first feed. I was so glad we had used hypnobirthing, although during labour I felt like I wasn’t really using the skills when I looked back I was.
My partner especially, was using them to support me which I couldn’t have done without and I will always treasure that euphoric moment and feeling of I’d done it.'
Holly & Dan
'At 04:43 hours on Tuesday 6th July 2021 my son Jack Harry Sallows entered our realm. I was 40 + 14 days pregnant. After planning a home birth, Jack was eventually born by emergency cesarian section, after a long induced labour. My birth experience couldn’t have been further from my original birth plan which was to have a vaginal pool birth in my home but the end result was the same. My darling, healthy baby boy arrived safely and I couldn’t have asked for more.
It has taken me 6+ weeks to get round to finally writing my birth story for the lovely Sarah Smith. Largely because I simply haven’t had free hands for the length of time I needed to complete it, but also because - being honest - I find it upsetting to look back on. It is a bitter sweet memory which ends with elation. I think I will always find it hard to think about. Not for me, but now knowing that Jack could have been in trouble at any point. My love for him grows so deeply each day that I find it hard to be objective about the experience. Which I was for a few days immediately after the birth.
At + 12 days, and on my partners 41st birthday, I received a call from the hospital recommending I attend the day assessment centre for monitoring, simply because I was + 12 days over due. I was cautious about the hospital staff wanting me to be induced and reluctant to attend, but the semantics of the conversation from the midwife during the phone call led me to attend. I was told quite frankly that I was at risk of having a still born baby if I did not go in for monitoring, simply because I was overdue. I used BRAINS to consider my options; I go in for assessment and risk being induced, or I stay home and do nothing. I considered all
available options, but when a medical professional states you are at risk of having a stillborn if you don’t attend for basic monitoring, there really is no other option as a mother but to do everything you can, so I attended the hospital. We took my partners children to their grandparents, packed his birthday cake away and left. I was feeling anxious, but I remembered by options and BRAINS and still felt in control.
When we arrived at the hospital the baby was monitored and was deemed safe and well. I also provided blood samples for analysis, which also came back just fine. The doctor then asked me to provide a urine sample. The hospital were checking for signs of pre-eclampsia, as my blood pressure was high, although I had no other symptoms. Having high blood pressure didn’t surprise me as the phone call from the hospital really alarmed me and started to make me feel anxious about the welfare of my son.
I didn’t want to wait in hospital for the results as I could have been waiting for up to 12 hours in hospital and we have to get home for my partner’s children. Also, we only love 5 minutes from the hospital and they were happy to call me with the results later that evening. I used BRAINS again and decided to wait for the results at home. They agreed to let me go home so long as my midwife from the home birth team attended my home address to take my blood pressure and urine sample again once I was home.
We got home and my midwife said she would be over in 10 minutes. In that time the hospital had called and informed me that my urine sample indicated I was suffering from pre-eclampsia. My results were double what they should have been. My home birth was out of the window.
At this point I didn’t care how my baby was going to be born, I just wanted him out safely. I agreed to attend the hospital to start the induction process.
Once at the hospital we used BRAINS for every decision we made. The hospital were fantastic and tried to honour my wish for a natural birth as much as possible. As such, the long induction process commenced. It started with having something called the Clark Balloon inserted into my cervix. This is left in situ for 12 hours. As soon as it was in place I felt the surges start. The surges started coming quite strong and within 30 minutes I was having 3-4 surges every 10 minutes. The “pain” took me by surprise, but I put my headphones on, listened to my hypnobirthing soundtracks and started my breathing techniques. They really helped me to stay focused and helped to ease my fears about how quickly the whole process started. I continued the breathing techniques I learnt throughout my labour, every step of the way. Sadly, after 6 hours of surges they suddenly stopped. After 12 hours the balloon was removed.
I then had the first hormone pessary inserted and we waited for the surges start again. If I was not in established labour by After 6 hours, they would try a second pessary.
The first pessary had no effect, so I had a second one inserted. It was now 2pm on Monday 5th and we had been in hospital from 8pm the previous evening. I was starting to feel very tired and a little anxious about whether I would have the energy to labour on my own once the surges fully started.
This was also couple with the worry that the water birth was no longer an option, as induced ladies require more monitoring. I started to feel anxious about managing the pain, but I continued with my breathing techniques and they really, truly helped to keep me calm.
The second pessary started to work and my surges were coming strong and fast once again and I was finally moved to the labour ward. This was despite still only being 2cm dilated …
At 3am on Tuesday 6th my baby started to show signs of distress. The surges continued to come, but I was not dilating. I was asked to lie on my side, on the bed, and not move. This was my worst case scenario for a birth, but I knew I had to do it for my son. My waters were broken but still my cervix wasn’t dilating. The surges were strong and took my breath away. I asked for gas and air and at this point I was so exhausted I didn’t care how my baby arrived as long as he did safely. At 4:20am I started to panic a little and I had a very strong intimation that my baby was unable to make his own way out. I had this feeling the day before also but my intuition and concerns were dismissed by staff as first time mum worries. At 4:20am I remember bursting into tears and begging my partner to “help me” and then I turned to the staff and very forthrightly told them the baby wasn’t coming. They called for a Dr who examined me and I was only 3cm. He agreed the baby would not be able to be delivered vaginally due to his position and they made the decision to send me for an emergency cesarian. I felt a huge sense of relief (despite still having surges and desperately clinging to the gas and air as they prepped me for surgery!).
I was whisked to the theatre and asked to prepare for the anaesthetic. This was another fear of mine. I have had back problems since I was 18 and I have been terrified of having a spinal injection since, but we had no choice.
I stuck to my breathing techniques and vividly remember just counting up and down to 7. It without a doubt kept my mind focussed and without it I would have been much more anxious and nervous. Afterwards the Dr’s commended me on utilising the breathing techniques which I learnt on my course from Sarah.
At 04:52 hours my son Jack was born. He weighed 10lb 10oz. No one expected him to be that big, which is one of the reasons we ended up experiencing special circumstances. He was a chunk, but a healthy chunk!
I remember holding my breath as I waited to hear him cry, and then it happened. I couldn’t see anything but I could hear a baby crying and that baby was mine! The worry faded away and a huge sense of relief flowed through my body. I don’t remember much more after that moment as I heamoraged quite badly and fainted. But within 15 minutes the bleeding was under control and I was aware of everything around me. I remember hearing my partner shout my name as started to feel faint and started shaking uncontrollably (this is the effect of shock / blood loss).
My partner allowed me to have the first “cuddle” despite being on the operating table, which I will always be grateful for. I could not have done it without him.
The staff at the hospital were amazing and despite everything that happened I will always remember the feeling of one nurse in the operating theatre who was stood by my head stroking my face. I couldn’t see anything or move but the calmness that one lady emitted by simply stroking my face will always be remembered.
So this is my story. Or should I say our story. Jack, Daniel, myself and Sarah!
I could not have gone through that process as a first time mum without the invaluable support Sarah showed me throughout my pregnancy, and the tips she gave me from her hypnobirthing course to see me through the pregnancy. I will always be indebted to Sarah.
From all of us, thank you… from the bottom of my heart.