Week 26 – Preparing for Birth Class

I love the pregnancy yoga classes LushTums run so when I found out that they had an afternoon class that was all about getting you prepared for birth class I jumped at the chance to attend.

As the course runs for only an afternoon it is only covering birth but as this is the part that was scaring me the most, I was happy to spend the money with an instructor that I trusted. I also was made aware that the preparing for birth class would help make partners aware of key positions or breathing exercises covered by the yoga classes regularly so BF would know what to suggest or help with on the big day.

Normally I go to the Hove lessons so I can leave 5 minutes before the class starts and still be on time. This course was held at Bird Studios behind the station so me and BF had to get up and get a bus across town. I was feeling so ill that BF kept asking “Are you sure you want to go – will you be well enough?” Nope I was going – not only had we already paid for the class, this was the last course that I could attend due to other arrangements before my due date so it was now or never. I wanted to go to this course that it didn’t matter – I was freaking out about labour so needed this.

On top of feeling really ill it turns out that there was a lot of extra traffic with some sort of parade or something so when we arrived we were 10 minutes late and couldn’t find out where to go. The lobby was full of ladies chatting away and no receptionist – we had no idea where we had to go. Luckily we went to go looking for someone to ask and I recognised my yoga instructor through the window. We were there and hadn’t missed anything as they had just done some basic introductions two minutes before hand as they waited to see if we arrived.

Just like the yoga lessons, there were mats set out on the floor with bolsters, blocks and blankets. Bags, shoes and coats were put in the corner on some chairs and we sat down on the floor. I was quick to straddle the bolster as I knew how comfortable it was for my back, hip and bump.

first kicks bump diaries pregnancy yoga week 16There were only three couples in total there – I was half expecting to have to face double that especially with how big, oversubscribed and overcrowded the Saturday yoga classes were. It was a great thing though – we could ask very specific questions and the session was tailored to what we needed or wanted. The first couple were having their second baby at home and were open to share about their very quick (4 hours!!!) and easy labour, while the second included a writer from “Call the midwife” also due with their first baby!

I have read a lot – I find knowledge is a great way of calming down so I love to absorb information so that I am not caught off guard. BF is the same – I really did choose the perfect man for me it seems. After hearing about how much went wrong when I was born for years, labour really scared me so I needed to find out as much as possible and how to stop being ripped to shreds like my mum.

With introductions done, Claire and the midwife running the session started with breaking down the information. It is clear that they have really planned out a great structure and course as they had a flip chart ready with detailed drawings in a set order. While was a key direction to when things were covered they were really flexible and would answer questions when they came up. With such a small class size, they were constantly asking for what we already knew or thought – it was a great approach as I learn so much better with this sort of discussion type learning than just having to listen (especially without the ability to write notes throughout).

Constantly through the session I was learning more and more but more importantly I was finding out the level of improvements and changes in recent years that will stop what happened to my mum happening to me. The writer from “call the midwife” while very knowledgeable on a lot of things was still constantly exclaiming how little she knew compared to the two instructors, especially when it came to modern technology or procedures.

I think one of my favourite things about it being run by Claire from Lushtums is that she knows how important it is to get pregnant ladies up and moving, or giving  them regular breaks. If I wasn’t struggling from so many food aversions I would have been able to happily eat an array of drinks and biscuits – they really do think about everything on this course.

As someone who thrives on knowledge that comes from a clear scientific proven basis, this course was fantastic. I had been worried that it may have been a bit too earth mother that it would put off BF yet it was the opposite. Everything discussed and talked about was routed in studies and research. It really helped BF see why the pregnancy yoga lessons that I had been going to were helping so much in the pregnancy and would help when it came to the birth. For me this was definitely one of the best things that came out so since he has encouraged me to continue practicing at home and even uses some of the massage techniques and positions to help me since. As the only one who was currently going to classes, Claire was really great at teaching the others key moves and techniques to everyone, while also offering new positions or techniques that I could do with BF or improve those I already knew.

The mix of knowledge and practical was perfect – I left feeling so much more prepared, supported and better yet no where near as nervous about labour. BF came away feeling really positive about the course – yes a lot of it he already knew because of researching so much but he had learnt things too, which is rare, particularly concerning practical help and support that he could give me. Now when I talked about doing a figure of 8 or the yoga breathing, he knew straight away what I was talking about; now when my hip or back hurts he puts his hand right where it will help thanks to the course. The fact that he complimented the course is huge – when it comes to feedback on things either he is vocal about how bad it is, or will say it is ok. He doesn’t compliment things often so I can only see that as an outstanding success that he found it helpful.

I would recommend this birth class for any pregnant couples – it really was amazing and my fear of labour has gone down so significantly, while I feel so very prepared for what expect before, during and after. If you are nervous about giving birth, this for me is a must – it covers everything you need to know, is tailored to you and your partner but will also be taught in such a clear, practical and useful manner. I would see if there is a course near you as Lushtums is expanding across the country.

Have you been to a birthing class? Did you find it helpful? I would love to hear about your experiences and stories so leave a comment below!

All of this is my own thoughts and opinions – Lushtums were only made aware that this review after the blog post was written.

Week 16: First Kicks & Brain Rewiring – The Bump Diaries

After all the excitement of pregnancy yoga the week before, I was so excited for my next lesson. I thought nothing could top all of the excitement but boy was I wrong.

The first lesson had been wonderful but the next day I had started to suffer with a headache; the first one in a couple of months. With my TBI I had always suffered with a headache after pushing myself too much so my first thought was I had done just that.

By Monday my headaches were getting worse – this wasn’t from pushing myself but something else; I had a pregnancy headache. Most people suffer from more headaches when they are pregnant; my daily headaches and dizziness had gone and I was living for the first time in ages without suffering each day.

For me it was a huge blow that I had such a bad headache that I worried my symptoms were going to come back full force. It knocked me that I did cry and stress. I don’t think people realise how terrible my health was just before I was pregnant that even going to appointments in the same city could make me ill for days just from the travel. The fear of going back to that life really hit me hard which probably made my headaches all the worse.

I slept, rested, took a paracetamol and avoided looking at screens as much as possible. By Wednesday my headaches had started to ease but what followed was a little weird. I would have a terrible headache for an hour or so before it would settle; 30 minutes after going I would be flooded with random memories in seconds. In 30 seconds my brain went through so many different memories from when my sister had ice poured down her top after swim class by the boys to playing table tennis on a roof top in France. My brain felt overwhelmed with all these and brought up emotions of painful memories too. It took until Friday for me to realise that there was a connection – the flooding of memories would always follow the headaches.

By the end of the week I was still struggling to cope – it turns out that I have a lot of painful memories and broken promises from people, that I was emotionally a mess. It was great though to finally figure out that these headaches were not my normal TBI headaches – this was something new and even good news.

I was told this pregnancy could rewire the brain – I wasn’t told when or what it would be like. This is clearly it. I had been told how pregnancy could completely cure my TBI so I would be able to live without any of my triggers giving me headaches and may even be able to live a normal life again. Before my head injuries I had been able to recall so many crazy memories at the drop of a hat – in recent years I had to really focus and pull forth the things I wanted to remember. It felt like the flood gates were broken open but by the weekend I was starting to get a handle of it. I could slowly stop the crashing of visuals, noise, smells and pain the flashed through my brain but I still couldn’t control it.

It showed me just how much I had to learn to adapt after my head injuries. I forgot all about having to learn how to recall information easily through new tools or how to write and draw again. It really did remind me just how much it changed how I functioned as a person for even the simple things. If this is the start, what else have I forgotten all about and how else could I improve. Questions of just how much I could or would improve filled my mind just as much as the memories. It was by the end of the week not a bad thing any more – these headaches might be proof that I could get better. Week 16 for me it seems was a big week; little did I know it would be even bigger.

Saturday morning I was back in my yoga clothes and sat in class at LushTums. It was only my second lesson but I was still shocked at just how different a lesson it would be!

first kicks bump diaries pregnancy yoga week 16As I mentioned before, each pregnancy yoga lesson at LushTums is different as it depends on what everyone is dealing with emotionally and physically. The first lesson had been very energetic compared to the second but it was perfect – as someone who had been dealing with an overwhelming week of headaches, emotions and personal revelations this much calmer lesson was exactly what I and the rest of the ladies needed. By the end of the exercises I felt in tune with myself, the first time I had all week. It really did make me think even more of these classes; they really do cater for their students by adapting every class where they need to.

Feeling refreshed, relaxed and completely at peace in mind and body we settled for the mediation aspect of the class. This, if you haven’t read my previous post, involves a talked through mediation with relaxing music and an abundance of pillows or blankets if you want them. As we focused slowly on relaxing different parts of the body bit by bit, we got to the stomach.

I let a deep breath out finally relaxing and focusing on my stomach only for BOOP BOOP.

The baby kicked – not only kicked but did so twice! I guess all week I had been so stressed about my head so I tensed up; when I finally relaxed I could feel bump kick. Funny thing about the first kicks, you need to be relaxed to feel them but then when the first one comes you tense up in excitement.

I couldn’t after that point focus on the mediation – all I had running through my brain was “Baby kicked!!! The baby kicked!!!” Interrupting the lesson with this wasn’t an option; I’m not going to ruin this moment for others and actually thinking about this first kick was just so exciting I made the most of that feeling. It is  shame that I didn’t get to mediate, something I clearly needed, but it didn’t matter as I had really had that moment.

As everyone slowly got up as the session finished, the teacher asked how it was. I couldn’t help it but after someone said how relaxed they were I had say “I’m not – well I was until I had babies first kick!” After the coos and congratulations, stories quickly turned to how being relaxed and in mediation that many of the others had felt more or their first kicks too. Many of the ladies talked about how in tune the pregnancy yoga sessions made them with their bodies and babies that I should expect more in future weeks.

For me I loved having that moment; I don’t think I’ll forget those first two kicks as I curled up in a relaxed class after such an emotional week. It seems now that I can feel one I can feel more as on Sunday I had another kick as I lay in bed reading. This time with BF in the room he got to share in the moment and was quick to rush over to try to feel it, though we both knew he wouldn’t, and enjoy a hug as we celebrated that moment together.

Not only do we think my brain might be rewiring but I felt babies first kicks and I got to share it with others who shared their wonderful stories afterwards as well as BF.

Have you suffered from pregnancy headaches? Did you find a change in your brain when pregnant? When did you feel your baby first kick? What was it like? Did you find relaxing or mediation help you feel the kicks? I would love to hear your stories so share them below!

Week 15: Pregnancy Yoga – The Bump Diaries

Throughout the pregnancy you are always told to keep healthy with food and exercise – you can either continue with certain sports to a point or join various classes at key points. I tried swim classes for pregnant ladies like me but that was hellish for people who don’t have a straight forward pregnancy.

I felt so humiliated with my inability to basically do half of the pregnancy swim class and then putting up with a period of “relaxation” where the cliques talked for half an hour and the rest of us floated about trying to relax with no clue what was going on. The whole experience really made me cautious about expecting a good experience at pregnancy yoga after that. I did however book my place around the end of the corner from me with loads of really great reviews in terms of their pregnancy classes.

Upon booking online I had to fill out a form which included a section about any health issues. All of the stuff online states that you have to wait until at least 12 weeks to go but every place has a different policy. Lush Tums have a policy to wait until 16 weeks but as the class fell on a Saturday and my week 16 would start two days later I listed this along with my other health issues asking if this would be an issue.

Pregnancy Yoga with lushtums - week 15 - the bump diariesI have filled out the added sections on forms before, always being open about my issues and nothing ever happens. My first experience of Lush Tums however was a surprise. Within 24 hours of booking my first session mot only did I get a response that I was fine for me to turn up 2 days before being 16 weeks pregnant but I also got a wonderful response about my health issues. The instructor Clare was open that she tailors her sessions based on the issues of all her students but to make sure to talk to the instructor of the class before each class just to highlight this.

Compared to my experience of the swimming lesson, where I struggled to find much information at all, this was already hands down so much better. It was at this point though that I tried to make sure I didn’t get my hopes up but this did help me feel a lot calmer.

The morning of my class arrived and I planned to arrive at 10.30, despite the venue being literally 5 minutes from my flat so that I would be able to find the venue as well as have time to talk to the instructor and settle. Walking in the door hidden behind the busy Western Road I was greeted with a set of stairs or corridor – it was great though as I already knew from all the clear signs to go and talk to reception upstairs as soon as I arrived.

The lady on reception greeted me with a smile and was so great at dealing with a clearly nervous me with everything I needed to know. The loo was downstairs, along with the changing rooms, while the studio door was just to my left. She went on to inform me that I didn’t need to bring or burrow a towel unlike the other yoga classes and that while we can have small bags or valuables in the class that there is a lot of space in the changing room for any thing else, including shoes and coats. It was then at this point that rather than letting me try to sort my self out and then hunt out who was the teacher, she went out of her way to ensure that I got introduced to her.

This is where I met Clare and all of my worries of the class went away; she was so wonderfully calming and understanding of all my issues. I loved how she made a point that she always has to tailor her classes for the aches, pains, injuries and other issues of people in her class so she provides alternatives of any thing that she think might be an issue. I have been told this before so my guard was a little up – people make vague promises of considering all their students needs and then either don’t follow through or make you feel singled out. I think how Clare then went into how some of her students deal with hip issues brought on by pregnancy and that she does a Hello Circle were people share about their week made me feel so much better. The way that she inquired more information about what I could and couldn’t do, asking follow-up questions, made me feel that she was really listening. The whole conversation may have only taken up 5 minutes but it really felt wonderful that she was willing to arrive early to talk to people. With our conversation over, it was at this point she started talking to another student who was dealing with some bad back pain that week. Rather than just making vague promises, Clare then started to open up with ideas of what could help her in and out of class. Even before the class had started it was clear that this was going to be a completely different and wonderful experience compared to the swim class.

As they continued their conversation I slipped back down stairs and got ready for the class before returning up again and into the studio. The room was bright and airy; to my relief there were no mirrors! There were some mat already left out and others were grabbing their own to find a spot. As I had planned to arrive early there were few people when I arrived so I got a spot and sat down with a lovely lady next to me. Straight away she said hello and struck up a conversation.

It was great as she helped me set things up and told me about what to expect. As more and more ladies came in I was given a form to fill out as a first time student. When I had completed it I returned my attention back to the now buzzing room full of mats and women.

Now I had booked my place a few weeks before hand and even before the lesson started women were having to be turned away as it was fully booked and spare places had already been taken; 10 minutes before the lesson started and the room was packed! This classes popularity really did speak for its self as I was the only new student.

The lesson started with a hello from Clare before her as planned Hello Circle. This basically involves going around the whole room and each lady saying their name, how many weeks they are and then some time to talk about their week. This was fantastic as you are in a room of other pregnant ladies who are sharing in an open space to complain about their week and issues – you aren’t alone and people are able to share in a safe place with others being able to give great advice. As all this went on Clare was able to in part what would help in terms of the class as well as outside. She was also noting things down and stating what exercises we were going to do especially for that issue. It was an incredible experience that I have not had the chance to have in terms of my pregnancy. Not only did it feel great to be able to share this moment with the others there but I also to feel listened to by an instructor.

The class was amazing – with every exercise Clare would give us alternatives without directly pointing out people but by talking about issues even if there was only one person suffering from that. She was also great at explaining what each exercise would be great for; they covered things for labour, back pain, relaxation, and so much more.

For me, even with all my head, back and shoulder issues, I was able to take part in the whole class and felt amazing! I had learnt loads of really useful things and felt fantastic. The class however wasn’t just about exercises but finished with a relaxation part. Unlike the swimming one that was just “go relax” and the instructor chatting away to the lifeguard or checking her nails, this was lead by Clare as she talked through something I have only experienced from a relaxation therapy specialist that I had to see with the Nurophysio. Lying down she talked everyone through this meditative session with her soft accent and music making you feel like a whole new person afterwards. Turns out that her talk through mediation is so popular and has helped so many ladies in the classes that she has recorded some; ladies were boasting how they had found them to be the only thing to help them relax (which then helped them not ache) or to get to sleep when nothing else would work. One lady mentioned how a previous student had played it during her labour between contractions and found it highly positive.

Even as the class finished everyone was so friendly, while Clare went and talked to students with more suggestions to help them or just to see how they were. After the class I ended up talking to a few ladies; I loved just how friendly and open everyone was. In the changing rooms this continued as the ladies continued to be so welcoming and slowly we all went our own ways.

I loved my first session that I booked my next class on my phone before I had walked into my flat 5 minutes away to ensure I wouldn’t miss out from it being fully booked. I have never wanted to sign up so quickly for something after my first session and I think it just goes to show how much I adored it.

For me this class is incredible as it helps with so many things! I am now a huge fan of Clare and her lessons – I will do everything I can to ensure I don’t miss a lesson where possible and will be looking forward to what next week will have in store. I can see now why her lessons are so over booked – it is really will be the highlight of my week and it is already for most ladies in the class.

If you are pregnant I would recommend checking out http://www.lushtums.co.uk/ and seeing if they are doing any lessons near you. I am lucky that I have the classes so close but I know that quite a few of the ladies travelled from Worthing and further as they were worth it. I’ll definitely be at the Brighton and Hove sessions over the next few months!

Have you been to a pregnancy yoga lesson? What did you think of it? Have you been to Lush Tums? What is your favourite pregnancy class? I would love to hear from you so leave a comment below!

This review was all my own opinion and hasn’t been sponsored in any way. After writing this post I did approach Clare to ask if there were any photos or images I could use and they have been wonderful and provided photos.