Dream Birth Company review #Gifted

*all imagery from The Dream Birth Company website // The Dream Dad Handbook*

I first found The Dream Birth Company aaaages ago, listening to the Madeleine Shaw ‘Get Your Glow Back‘ podcast where founder Clodagh was interviewed by Maddy about her amazing mindful birthing company.

(This was last year, when we knew we’d be trying for a baby in early 2020, but as the crazy over planner I am I was listening to and reading all the parenting, birth, baby and related content I could find in advance haha!)

Fast forward to 2020, newly pregnant, and I was glad I’d already found a whole bunch of resources I could use to support me in my pregnancy, and specifically for birth which I’d spent (like many women!) a lifetime in fear of! (See my blogpost on overcoming the fear of labour and birth here!)

The Dream Birth Company premise of blending the best of mindfulness techniques with the best of hypnobirthing (but re-branding the ‘woo’ness of hypnobirthing that often puts the slightly less hippy/alternative-inclined people off – including me initially!) was something that really appealed to me, and I think they’ve done it incredibly well. Not to mention I’m a sucker for their gorgeous water-based imagery… calming from the get-go!

(I’m not saying hypnobirthing is bad – in other pregnancy posts I’ve recommended resources I’ve found super helpful, but I totally agree it needs a rebrand and refresh and The Dream Birth Company does this so perfectly!)

They have fantastic free audio on their website here which you can use to help you relax throughout pregnancy and gradually change your mindset about birth. It sounds mad that affirmations can help (I’m not into positive pop psychology as a rule!) but they really did make a huge amount of difference for me – plus Clodagh’s amazing soothing voice is just the best for pre-recorded meditations and relaxations ever!

Chatting about birth and babies on instagram, Clodagh was also kind enough to gift me a copy of The Dream Birth Company’s Dream Dad Handbook, and I wanted to share my thoughts because I think resources for women in pregnancy are often plentiful but sometimes the dads get overlooked in the process, and while they’re not giving birth themselves, labour is a huge life changing experience for them too, and they will have a big role to play in supporting you!

The Dream Dad Handbook is a really concise, easy guide, so perfect for any dads who don’t have tonnes of time to read a million books ahead of birth! It covers:

  • Roles and responsibilities – understanding birth, and the role you can play in supporting your partner
  • Practical ways you can help – top tips and actions you can take in preparation for and on the big day!
  • The Dream Dad List – a handy checklist of what to pack to take to the hospital if that’s where you’re birthing your baby, or what to have on hand at home
  • Early labour – how you can help prepare and ideas for helping your partner during early labour
  • Breathing techniques – so you know how to coach your partner (and keep calm yourself!)

It is such a simple, short, beautifully put together ebook that gives dads who are short on time the essentials in a very practical way.

You can also upgrade to use on of the Dream Birth Company’s packages or a 1:1 call with Clodagh for more specific coaching.

If you’re looking for something clear, easy to read, and very practically-based, then The Dream Dad Handbook is exactly what you need!

My husband is very meticulously organised and appreciates things being super-concise, well-ordered and efficient so I think he’ll really appreciate this! 🙂

Have you used The Dream Birth Company resources or packages in your pregnancy? Let me know what your fave parts were! ❤

B xoxo

*The Dream Dad Handbook product mentioned in this post was gifted*.

Dealing with anxiety & stress over Christmas

Christmas is coming…!

So everyone loves a bit of Christmas, right? Mulled wine, fairy lights, chocolate everywhere, epic roast dinners… but it also is the time of year where you’re expected to see EVERYBODY before the New Year, party every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and then the day itself can be a political hotbed of family in-fighting!

macro shot photography of tea candles
Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

Or may you have to do a lot of travelling. Or see relations you’re not hugely cool with. Or maybe you have eating issues, or social anxiety and the pressure is just too much.

I get it – our family is craaaaaaaay and this year we’ve opted to hole up at home in London, just me and the Boy and not do the big stressful family tour thing!

I also used to have an eating disorder as many of you know, and now I’m doing #100DaysSober I have had to turn down a LOT of alcohol at client drinks and office and general Christmas parties over this period.

Top tips for staying sane…!

Read on to discover my fave mental and physical wellbeing tips for the festive season, including mental health, food, fitness, alcohol, eating disorders, office parties, and family politics…

Just say ‘no’ to FOMO.

You don’t have to go to every party. Or if you do, you don’t have to stay until 2am. No-one has a gun to your head. Prioritise what YOU want. It’s hard at first, but when you get used to it, it’s empowering.

If you don’t want to go to something, apologise and suggest meeting up at a time more convenient for you (be it Jan, Feb, March, whatever!)

You can be polite and still take care of yourself. And remember: you are responsible for your actions, but not for anyone else’s reactions. That’s on them.

A therapist told me that once and it’s changed my life.

Make some time for you

Remember to schedule in some down time to treat yourself, be it some time to have a long bath, or lie-in, or read alone… whatever you need to re-charge so you don’t feel totally frazzled.

You do you, no explanation needed

If you don’t want to drink alcohol, or eat something, you don’t owe anyone an explanation. A smile and ‘no thank you, I’m fine,’ should suffice. If people push, you can firmly say you don’t want to talk about it.

If you’re hosting parties, take note:

  • Don’t ask people why they’re not drinking alcohol. It’s not your business.
  • Don’t ask people why they’re eating / not eating something, or make comments about them being ‘good’ or ‘bad’ or ‘treating themselves’ or ‘behaving’ or ‘staying on track’. It’s not your business, and if people do have eating disorders / disordered eating, this is supremely unhelpful.

Meditaaaaaaaate, meditate, meditate

It doesn’t have to be hippy-dippy. Even 5-10 minutes a day on an app like Calm, Headspace, Buddhify or Happy Not Perfect can help you reset, destress and relax. Breathing deeply taps into your parasympathetic nervous system (your ‘rest and digest’) system.

Take the pressure off

Remember, perfection is impossible. There’s no such thing as a perfect Christmas. People may not always get on 100% of the time. Things go wrong, turkeys burn, dogs eat the Christmas cake… c’est la vie.

Try to enjoy spending time with family, time off work, time eating amazing food, and stop expecting a chocolate box picture perfect Victorian Christmas with angels singing, family looking angelic and not annoying each other… don’t set impossible standards for it to live up to.

Eat mindfully

Christmas is a time to enjoy food. Enjoy it for what it is and don’t stress about weight. The trick is to try and eat when you’re hungry and not gorge when you’re full, or keep picking at quality street.

Savour your food. Focus on the smell, taste and texture. Have whatever you like – but just take it slow, chew it, enjoy it, and stop when you’re full – you can have more when you’re hungry again! This ‘naughty’ mentality means people binge because they feel Christmas is a free pass to be bad, but in reality there’s no good and bad – you just need to listen to your body and appetite, and not go overboard.

Over Christmas, yes there’ll be more off types of food you’d usually try to moderate better – chocolate and cake etc. That’s okay. Don’t sweat it. Just try to eat as mindfully as possible, and focus on getting those vitamins and minerals in as well – lots of veggies with that roast!

Alcohol… *mistletoe and wine*

If you drink alcohol, try to make sure you’re drinking mindfully and enjoying it, not downing the bottle…! And fundamentally, keep hydrating with water as much as possible.

Ideally I guess don’t drink, or limit it to very small amounts, as studies now show there’s technically no ‘safe’ amount of alcohol, but realistically people will drink, and life is for living and enjoying so just drink in moderation, stay hydrated and be safe!

Just remember, alcohol can make you more jittery and anxious, so consume with caution!

Move!

I’m not saying you need to rigorously gym over Christmas, but regular walking and a home workout or two (use this site, or apps like Sweat with Kayla, or free youtube videos!) can get rid of that stress and/or lethargy that can accompany the Christmas period. A crisp, Christmassy walk outside in the cold can really clear the head!

Movement is super important for stress, anxiety, depression and mood disorders as endorphins are nature’s happy pill!

Take a deep breath and walk away from family politics

Christmas gatherings aren’t the best place to thrash out serious issues*. Try to smile it out and not engage. Leave the room if you need to. If it’s normal family annoyances and feuds, breathe deeply, go and meditate or walk for a while and move on. You can argue later when you’re calmer, and not in front of all of your relations and likely to upset yourself and multiple others. (Unless it’s very serious: see below!)

*Obviously some things are intolerable, whatever the time of year. So equally take care of yourself, be safe, and you can and should just leave or walk away if something is dangerous or damaging. It’s okay to put yourself first.

Practice gratitude

Christmas should be a time to reflect on the year and all you’ve accomplished and everything amazing that’s happened, and to enjoy time with family and friends.

(I’m not religious so that’s it for me anyway! If you’re religious I guess it’s extra special!)

Be grateful – for family, friends, presents, food, a roof over your head, an income, a job, your body, the clothes on your back… when you’re truly feeling grateful it’s hard to be properly stressed, and there are people out there far worse off than us. Perspective is all it takes. There’s a lovely meditation called ‘The Universe’ on the app Buddhify, which helps put everything in perspective.

Lots of love & merry Christmas!

B

xoxo