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Welcome to the world Baby Zariah! And what an entry it was too! Huge congraultations to proud parents Mwenya and Raph. I am blessed to be able to share Mwenya's birth story with you - Mwenya is a GP and had a very real, first hand expereience of birthing within the system after giving birth to her first born Zeke (her experience is outlines below - TW - induction, ventouse, PPH) . With her second baby she decided to move towards a more instinctive birth, at home, using Hypnobirthing and Doula support. Mwenya outlines her birth below and how she got the healing birth of her dreams! As always, I'm so grateful to be given permission to share this with you.

"2nd baby, known baby girl – Zariah ( pronounced Za ra ya)

Born at 40+6  on 10/10/2023

Birth weight 3.2kg

Planned: home birth, either in the birth pool or on land

Actual: home birth in bath tub, BBA

Pain relief: TENS, hypnobirthing, water in a bath

***Back ground – 1st pregnancy***

Induction of labour after 24hrs of waters breaking (at 40+1) and no signs of labour.

Baby boy born at 40+3: ventouse, epidural, 1100ml PPH, sepsis which I strongly suspect was because of the VEs I had at the start of the induction process.

We had a 3 day stay in hospital so I could finish the course of IV antibiotics. Baby didn't need antibiotics.

Baby wouldn't latch on to breastfeed. Local breastfeeding groups were amazing and baby eventually started breastfeeding at age 4 weeks.

***This pregnancy***

I was keen to do things differently and to avoid the negativity that surrounded my last birth. Last time, when questioning midwives for more info, I wasn’t given enough to make an informed decision – I only realised all of this when looking back and trying to make sense of what happened.

I researched and read about homebirths before we started trying to conceive and I decided it was what I wanted. The Homebirth Support UK Facebook Group run by Samantha Gadsden was amazing and very encouraging throughout this journey. We also found a lovely Doula, Terri from Cornwall Hypnobirthing. We live in Plymouth, Devon.

I had mild nausea throughout the whole pregnancy.

This was a low risk pregnancy. I declined OGTT.

It was an exhausting few months juggling pregnancy exhaustion, looking after a very energetic 2 year old, moving house and working in a very emotionally demanding job. Family live further away so it was just my husband and I juggling childcare. So overall it felt like I had no rest at all this pregnancy, so I was very much looking forward to meeting my baby.

I made it clear to the community midwives from the get go that I wanted a home birth. There’s no home birth team or MLU  in our area so the midwives rotate through 2 weeks of working on labour ward followed by 2 weeks in the community, so you don’t really get a named midwife. I didn’t get much resistance from the team except a letter from hospital saying I would be birthing against medical advice, which I was very comfortable with because there were clear factors during my first birth which increased my risk of PPH: induction, epidural, ventouse, episiotomy.

Throughout pregnancy, I surrounded myself with lots and lots of positive birth stories from the Homebirth Facebook Group. I also listened to lots of positive birth podcasts and watched lots of positive birth videos. My husband and I did a hypnobirthing course with Terri which was amazing as it helped eradicate the fear associated with childbirth, encouraged me to trust my birthing body and the process of childbirth, and to surrender to it.


I woke up on the morning of 10/10/23 around 7am. I had some mild lower abdominal cramps and the pad I had put on the night before was soaked. I went to the toilet and the slight trickle of clear fluid continued. I also had a tiny bit of bloody show. The cramps were very mild, I was able to get my now 3 year old ready and dropped him off at nursery for 8.30am (I drove). I had lost part of the mucus plug 1 week prior.

I messaged Terri at 8.47am to let her know. I chose not to inform maternity triage of the waters going because I didn’t want to be put on a clock, and I also wanted to see how things would progress.

By around 9.30am-10am, the cramps were getting more uncomfortable. I tried to watch something funny but it didn’t take my mind off the cramps. I then asked my husband to watch a funny movie with me, the laughing wasn’t helping either.

At 11am, I messaged Terri again because the surges were ramping up. She suggested we set up the birth space and I use the TENS machine. We had already blown up the birth pool a few days before, so my husband set up the rest of the room: curtains drawn, projector etc. I was having to breathe through the surges and was making what I think sounded like a humming or loud sigh to get through it. I tried to time the surges but gave up because it was making me lose focus.

At 11.08: Someone from maternity unit rang to say ‘ you’re on our list to  have homebirth  please be aware the ambulances are at full capacity so if you needed emergency transfer to hospital, you would be waiting for ages, so we recommend you come to hospital when you're in labour’. I stuck to my guns and said I would still like to birth at home. This call annoyed me a bit but it didn’t scare me.

At 11.23: I messaged Terri asking her to come over because things felt like they were progressing quickly.

At 11.37: husband went to pick up our toddler from nursery. When they got back, my son saw me on the living room floor on all fours and ran to me. I managed to say hello, give him a hug and asked him to go upstairs with grandma, which he did. My mum then took our son upstairs to keep him occupied. This was what he had originally planned for childcare.

My husband and I spoke with Terri over the phone sometime after 12 noon to check in. Looking back, I think I reached transition around this time because I was overwhelmed by the lack of a break between the surges, and I was thinking to myself ‘ I should have gone to hospital where there’s pain relief’.

Husband rang the midwives around 12.50pm and was told they would head over.

Terri arrived around 1.05pm. I was so relieved to see her! She suggested I move to the bathroom and try sitting on the toilet, but I couldn’t because I was so uncomfortable. Instead I got on all fours which was a lot more comfortable and felt natural. I had a sense that I wouldn’t be leaving the bathroom for a while! I managed to breathe through the surges and continued using the TENS machine on low. Interestingly, looking back, I didn’t need the boost function on the TENS compared to the early stages of my previous labour. I was in a totally different headspace this time round. I remember repeating to myself ‘ I am strong, I am powerful’. Terri kept encouraging me to surrender to the sensations, which I did. At some point, the pain stopped and all I kept feeling was an overwhelming urge of my body bearing down. I didn’t make my body do anything, it did it all on its own. I was mooing which I recognised straight away. Bathroom windows were open and I've been told neighbours heard my vocals!

My husband was trying to fill it up the birth pool but there was an issue with the tap connector. Terri suggested I get in the bath for some water relief. The bath felt lovely when I got in. The overwhelming urges continued and I roared through them. I felt the baby's head come out, this was followed by an amazing calm moment. I reached down and felt a head full of hair and said to my husband ‘baby’s head is out’. I felt her turn in the birth canal and the rest of her was born after another surge or possibly two. I let out a yelp at the ring of fire - totally unexpected sensation!

Our baby was born at 1.51pm. I didn’t push her out, and I’m not sure if I breathed her our either. I lifted our baby from the bath water onto my lap to remove the cord around her neck, then put her on my chest. Baby was alert and looking at me, she didn’t cry straight away.  I couldn’t believe I had done it! I felt incredible and so empowered! It was just myself, my husband and Terri in the bathroom when baby was born. Our toddler got to meet his sister before I got out of the bath tub, the look on his face was amazing to watch.

A midwife and a student midwife arrived a little bit later despite my stating ‘no students’ on my homebirth assessment though. 2nd midwife turned up a bit later. I was still in the bathroom at this point. We got our ‘wait for white’ with the cord. My mum cut the cord when I was laying on the sofa with our toddler.

Unfortunately I lost my oxytocin bubble after midwives arrived. The placenta hadn’t delivered after the first 1hr. Midwives got twitchy because of my previous PPH and the ‘guidelines’. I felt fine, BP, heart rate etc were all fine and there wasn’t much blood loss. I said I wanted more time, but they hovered outside the bathroom door waiting. I consented to the 1st oxytocin injection, I had written I was open to this in my birth plan. The placenta hadn’t delivered 15minutes after the injection. They asked to try controlled cord traction – I agreed but I couldn't push at the point, I guess my pelvic floor was exhausted. They offered me a 2nd oxytocin injection and kept going on about bleeding - I’d had enough of this by this point and just wanted to enjoy baby with some peace and quiet, so I accepted it. I didn’t feel coerced into accepting this. I asked midwives to leave the bathroom. I stayed in there with Terri the door closed. I squatted and the placenta delivered. My estimated blood loss was 250ml.

I had a nice shower afterwards. Terri kindly helped tidy up. After midwives left, myself, my husband and our 3 year old enjoyed pizza in bed while I cuddled our newborn.

Overall, I had a very empowering birth and am very grateful for the way things went. I’m glad baby was BBA because I was able to labour undisturbed, something which I think was amazing because I had no one bursting my oxytocin bubble and was able to focus on bringing my baby earthside.

Terri was amazing from the time we met, and we are very grateful she was with us through this journey. I would encourage whoever is doubting/unsure about getting a Doula, to get one if possible. I’m still on a birthing high weeks down the line. Baby is super chilled our and our toddler can’t get enough of her!"

Hypnobirthing and Doula support had a wonderful impact on Mwenya's experience. If this is something you would like to explore then please email or visit my website . My next group Hypnobirthing course is in January 2024, and I have availability for private sessions throughout 2024, with only 1 space remaining in December for a private course.

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This blog post is the journey of bringing Zelah earthside written by her Mummy Nina.... and what a journey it was! Yes, it's a birth story, but actually what I see when I read this blog isn't just a birth story, it's a journey of strength, determination, grit, power, team work, and dedication to a positive birth experience. We all love to read of a labour that was quick, straightforward and goes to plan. However, when plans have to change, when labour throws a curve ball and you need to adapt to go down a different path - those can be the stories that inspire and empower us, just as much (if not more) as the 'my baby just popped out on the kitchen floor' stories.

Nina and Ed's journey is a perfect example of how, even when plans change, you can still be in control and birth can still be positive. It is also an example of how having education and knowledge of the maternity system can have a real benefits to your experience and help you make informed decisions. Nina tells us about her 5 day labour and how she was a true goddess warrior journeying through the ebb and flow of labour and digging deeper than she ever has before to meet her precious baby girl. I was blessed to be Nina and Ed's Doula, and got to witness this strength and team work first hand in the many hours leading up to Zelah's arrival. As always, I am so grateful for the permission to share this with you.

Monday 8th May It was a grey, mizzly bank holiday Monday. My partner Ed and I had some errands to run in Truro, so we got a takeaway lunch from Sabzi and cracked on. I had a few sporadic contractions throughout the day, but thought it was Braxton Hicks, so carried on as normal. My sister Zoe came round for dinner and we had spicy enchiladas. I didn’t plan to eat spicy food the night before I went into labour - little did I know, tonight would be the night! Over dinner, the contractions got a bit closer together - every 30 mins - and I felt slightly nauseous. I didn’t really sleep properly that night as the contractions kept waking me up. I stayed in bed and breathed through them.

Tuesday 9 May By morning when Ed woke up, they were every seven minutes and starting to get stronger. We decided I was probably in labour, so Ed told work and dropped our dog Maggie at our friends, Jo and Shaun. We spent the morning getting ready, pacing around, breathing and counting the contractions. I had planned a home birth, so I wasn’t worried about getting to hospital.

By 11.30am, they were coming every 3.5 minutes, so we rang Terri who arrived as Ed set up the birth pool. My waters hadn’t broken yet and there was no sign of uterine seal. We didn’t ring the midwife just yet as, while they were quite close together, they hadn’t picked up in intensity. As the afternoon went on, my contractions began to stall and came every 7 minutes, then 10 minutes. It was looking less likely that I was in active labour, so we carried on without a midwife, waiting for contractions to get closer together again. I found the pool water was a huge pain reliever and it allowed me some much-needed rest before breathing through the contractions again. I was very uncomfortable, the TENS machine was hugely useful when I was out of the water. Terri was there the whole time, providing massage, words of encouragement when I felt deflated, making marmite sandwiches and passing over jelly babies!

By midnight, there didn’t seem to be much progress. We all took a nap and I resolved to go hard again at 2am, pacing up and down the stairs, squatting, lunging, trying to keep moving. My partner Ed was so supportive, letting me use his arms to brace myself through contractions. We thought maybe the baby was in the wrong position slightly, which is why we weren't seeing the contractions ramp up further. Terri got in touch with her support network and suggested a whole range of biomechanical techniques to get her to reshuffle - including sidelying and a supported inversion position. I found this process exhausting but I was willing to do anything to get my cervix to dilate. Still, the contractions remained far apart.

Wednesday 10 May I didn’t want any vaginal examinations, but by morning, I needed some information. I felt pretty deflated at this point, I was exhausted and in a lot of pain, yet the contractions didn’t seem to be getting any closer together. The midwife came round at about 9.30am. She was positive, she said my cervix was fully effaced and wafer thin, that I was 2cm dilated and she could feel the baby's head. She didn’t think the baby was in a funny position. It buoyed me to hear this. Her advice was: rest, restore your energy, and try again later. It was the reset button I needed to keep going.

Ed and I went to bed, I actually managed to get an hour’s sleep, before contractions ramped up again. I resolved to not get in the pool unless I really needed it, so we oscillated between the yoga ball, climbing the stairs, lunging, and squatting. I even managed to watch most of My Girl and eat a slice or two of pizza. Terri said she would come back if things ramped up, so we pushed on together. Ed was an unbelievable support, holding my forearms through every contraction, running around getting me water, snacks, pressing my lower back, stroking my shoulders and hair. Another day became night - we carried on.

Thursday 11 May By morning, I was exhausted. My waters still hadn’t broken. I wanted to get another VE to check any progress. Ed rang the midwife line, they wouldn’t send someone out again because all the midwives were busy. So we had two choices: go to the hospital to get checked or attend the routine midwife appointment in Newquay that I already had booked in. We chose the latter.

Terri suggested switching it up and getting fresh air to restart everything. So Ed piled me into the car, bumped me down the speed bumps to Porth Beach. We hobbled over to the sand, so I could stand barefoot. We watched the waves roll in and the wind whipped our faces. It was fresh and sunny but not warm. I remember thinking how strange to be here where everyone is going about their day as normal. It was a good reset. I hadn’t seen daylight in two days, skulking behind the shades inside like a vampire, trying to stimulate oxytocin.

By this point, my back was killing me. It felt like I had strained a muscle in my lower left hip, and I was constantly in pain. I needed the TENs machine on it at all times to feel normal. I felt like I needed some acupuncture to relieve it. We managed to get a last minute appointment with Laura Cullen. She massaged the sore point really well and it provided some relief for a few hours. Contractions were fluctuating but more intense, I couldn’t watch films now!

I wasn’t sure if I could make it back in the car for the 3pm routine midwife appointment, but I did. The midwife checked me again - I was only 3cm dilated. She felt the baby was in a good position, if slightly skewed. She said we had a couple of options: carry on as normal at home, as the baby's heart rate was fine, or go to the birth centre to get them to break my waters to stimulate labour. We chose the latter - I felt like I couldn’t face continuing doing what we were doing for any longer.

We went home, Terri came over to prep us on what might happen in hospital. Even once she’d gone home, she was on the end of the phone, answering all of our questions. We were also warned by my midwife that they probably wouldn’t let us in the birth centre until my waters had broken and they’d had a chance to monitor me. We packed our bags and headed down to the hospital. I felt surprisingly calm. Contractions had slowed to around one every 20 mins now.

At the hospital, as expected, they ushered us straight into the delivery suite. Inside there was a lot of back and forth about whether I could go to the birth centre. I insisted that they break my waters and, if after 30 minutes of monitoring everything was fine, I should be allowed to go to the birth centre. They reluctantly agreed.

Having my waters being broken wasn’t as bad as I hoped. My midwife thought there was meconium in the waters, which would mean no birth centre and continuous monitoring. We had to wait 30 mins to check, so I bounced on the ball, counting the minutes. Sure enough, there was meconium, which meant continuous monitoring in case the baby became distressed (so far, her heartbeat was calm and steady). This was quite a stressful part - we didn’t want a foetal scalp electrode put on her head, but it would allow

me to move around the room and continue labouring, whereas the ECG machine wouldn’t properly stay on my belly and required me to stay still while labouring - which was a definite no for me. But after a tearful discussion, we decided to go ahead with the electrode.

Friday 12 May I laboured for another five hours or so. I tried to sleep at about midnight, but just stared at the ceiling. My back was killing me, I could barely walk - my leg muscles were so tired. I was due to get measured again at 2am. I woke Ed up around 1.15am and said, I think I’m done. If there’s very little progress, I want a caesarean. It was a really emotional conversation. I went into this process wanting a home water birth - but things had changed. I didn’t want to potentially end up with a forceps delivery. My final VE at 2am confirmed what I thought - I was only 4cm dilated after 80 hours of labour. I wanted a caesarean. The hospital staff thought my decision was “rash”, but I assured them it was not, considering how long I’d been in labour. After a lot of back and forth, they agreed to let me have a caesarean. By 5.45am I was in theatre. I felt really positive - I was laughing and smiling as I felt thankful I was finally making some progress and I’d get to meet our baby girl soon. The team in theatre were really supportive and put me at ease. They put on our birth playlist and Ed held my hand.

Zelah was born at 6.04am, weighing 7lb 14oz. She was lifted out of my belly, held up over the screen like Simba, and placed on my chest as the song ‘Reborn’ by Alexis Ffrench was playing. Ed cut the cord. Incredibly, from knife on skin to Zelah being born was just five minutes. Our midwife took some amazing photos of the whole experience.

Overall, my labour was long, but a very positive experience. Thanks to Terri’s hypnobirthing course and guidance, I felt knowledgeable about the birth process and hospital procedures; this helped me make informed decisions every step of the way. It wasn’t the birth I planned for, but I never felt out of control. Every decision I made was done calmly and thoughtfully - it made me feel very empowered. I now believe it’s essential for every woman to know in detail what she might encounter on the maternity wing and Terri’s course provided me with that knowledge. Plus, having Terri there in my early stages of labour was so reassuring - her calm presence made me believe I could do it. Thank you, Terri."

Everybody is different, everyone labours in a different way, there are so many variations of normal, and what's right for one person might not be right for another. The important thing that you focus on your labour and birth, and prepare yourself for your journey - what you would and wouldn't be happy with, what interventions (if any) feel right for you. This is where independent, quality antenatal education comes in! Get in touch if you want to take control of your birth journey - Hypnobirthing can be a real game changer and in all my (nearly 10) years of teaching I've never had anyone regret their investment!

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TW: IVF, infertility, pregnancy loss, caesarean birth.

This is a story of faith, strength, uncertainty, sadness, joy and everything in-between. Sometimes, people are just able to make a baby, which is a true blessing, however sometimes that road to making and meeting your baby holds many twists and turns., and isn't a straightforward one This can be a super emotional and challenging time for people, and in this blog you will read about Josie and Andrew's own personal journey to meeting their precious Son Max. I'm so grateful to Josie and Andrew for allowing me to share their story with you. It is inspirational and shows the true courage, strength and determination that this wonderful couple had every step of the way.

I am absolutely blessed to say that I am able to support people, no matter what stage of this journey they are at, and Josie and Andrews share how having continuity of support can really have such a positive impact, even when (especially when) the road is full of many hurdles and unexpected ups and downs. Words by Josie, Max's mummy! Enjoy!

"I've been meaning to do this for a long time but each time I start my son stirs. So, as I lay here nap trapped by him at 15 weeks old I thought I'd write our story.

Terri is a guiding angel in our story and her hypnotherapy, hypnobirthing and Doula skills helped us have our miracle baby and to come out the other side with positivity and strength on what truly was a rollercoaster journey.

The rollercoaster started in 2020 when we decided to seek advice as each month passed and no positive pregnancy tests decided to show.

Then came January 2021, when our world was shattered, especially my husbands who was sadly diagnosed with an extremely low sperm count, with little to zero chance of being able to conceive naturally. We waited for our first fertility consultation in February 2021 and learnt there weren’t any other options for us other than IVF with ICSI. As someone who has fainted in many medical scenarios with needles, the hurdles to achieve our dream of having a baby were huge for me. Thankfully a very dear friend of mine who had used Terri's hypnobirthing course pointed me in her direction.

In May 2021, I started a trauma rewind hypnotherapy course with Terri, partly on zoom and partly face to face because of the pandemic. To say this was magical and that I had a moment where I released my internal fear is a real understatement.

Hypnotherapy is not what you think. It is a gentle unwrapping of the past thoughts and feelings and reframing the situation in your mind. I recommend it to anyone with a challenge they need to overcome. With my past traumas dealt with, June 2021 was when our cycle of IVF commenced. My husband watched as I completed my first injection and was totally amazed by the relaxed way which I did this. Along came the harvesting; another situation that I was apprehensive about, but again I surprised myself, the fear was not present as I walked into the room and lay down for the first ever sedation and surgical procedure of my life.

Embryo one we sadly miscarried at 8 weeks. (Oct 2021)

Embryo two sadly never took. (Feb 2022)

Embryo three turned into our miracle boy Maximus (born Feb 2023) who truly lives up to his name as the greatest - our greatest gift. He was nearly binned on day 5 (the day they usually freeze good Embryos or dispose of poor Embryos that are likely not going to take) as he hadn't quite made the growth needed but he was 'looking good' so he was given an extra night. So, on day 1 of carrying the first Embryo we heard that his Embryo had made it and was being frozen as a day 6 AB graded Embryo. We were over the moon and hoped between our three good quality Embryos, we might be lucky enough to have a baby.

Once successfully pregnant with Embryo number three, I knew I had to book us onto Terri's hypnobirthing course, as the next challenge would be bringing our little one safely into the world. My husband and I entered Terri's course with nerves and many concerns over how I'd birth our baby and how he would support me in doing so. We left with confidence and so much knowledge over what birthing journeys can look like, as well as importantly our rights during the birthing process. The thing that stayed with me most is that women are magical creatures who achieve growing life, birthing life and then feeding life; something society seems to have forgotten to keep championing!

After the course we discussed having Terri as our Doula and it just felt right, after all the investment to date towards having a child, we didn't stop now.

We met Terri several times to discuss our birth wishes and made our birthing plan. One of the most important aspects of this was her encouragement to think of all birth eventualities from spontaneous to c-section. We created a plan for each possibility and thank goodness we did as our wish for a water birth at the birth centre was sadly not the story that played out. The skills we learned however, were essential to our story remaining positive.

At 38 weeks I woke in the night and felt more swollen than my norm in my legs and feet. I took my blood pressure, and it was high, of course the machine then died! Typical! I lay awake worrying for a while and then decided to wake my husband. We rang the emergency triage and got advised to get checked in the morning at our local midwife hub. This confirmed I had high blood pressure again so off to DAU we went where I was tested over several hours. In the end the advice was to decide about bringing the baby out via induction or c-section between 39 and 40 weeks (at this time I was only a few days away from being 39 weeks)! We went home and I spent the next 12 hours crying over what to do. In my gut I knew what the answer was and that going through the induction process and the uncertainty it can bring after all we'd been through was not going to be our route. We decided on an elective c-section, albeit it was far from what I wished for or thought I could handle.

We were booked in for the c-section on Thursday and told that we wouldn't be able to have Terri with us because we'd be in the smaller of the two operating theatres, due to us being on the elective list. This was hard to process but Terri was utterly amazing and adapted her service to our situation and completed a pre section session and then supported us virtually throughout. Thank goodness, as our first c-section date was cancelled on the day due to pressures and moved to the next day!

Once in the operating theatre, the hypnobirthing skills we'd learnt came into their own. We had all the things we possibly could in a medical environment to keep the oxytocin flowing and support us both to stay calm. I recited birth affirmations in my head and used the breathing techniques as my spinal injection was inserted and then the c-section completed. My husband helped ensure I kept focused on my breathing and used touch to help me stay grounded.

As we learned we had a little boy and he was shown to us for the first time we were beaming. What a journey it was, but he was finally safely earthside and in our arms.

Our story however didn't stop there and we were kept in hospital for few days due to my blood pressure still not reducing - in fact it kept going up despite using all of the calming tricks we'd learned on the course, plus some medication! We managed one night at home before being readmitted due to Max having jaundice and my blood pressure still not playing ball! Terri was fantastic and visited us in hospital as well as checking in on us regularly on the phone. I don't think I'd have personally coped in the early days and weeks as well as I did without all that Terri's teaching had equipped us with, as well as her support throughout.

To anyone we meet, we champion hypnotherapy, hypnobirthing and doula services -especially those of Terri. Even my husband who was a little dubious about booking and attending the course is telling all his friends who are expecting a baby to do so! We truly believe the investment in her services has helped us to have the most amazing birth, despite it not being what we had hoped for at the start of our journey.

Pregnancy and birth can take many journeys and through using all that we learned and listening to my body, we have our beautiful baby boy. There are no words to truly express what this means to us. Terri will always be held in our hearts.

To those reading this to help decide on whether to use Terri for any of her services. DO IT, do them all, we promise you, you won't regret it. "

My June group Hypnobirthing course starts on Sunday 25th, with the second session on the 2nd July. Book via my website. Private Hypnobirthing, Doula support, Hypnotherapy all bookable via email -

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