GentleBirth -helping you prepare for birth

GentleBirth -helping you prepare for birth

Preparing for birth can be pretty daunting, especially if the image you have of birth is coming from movies or T.V. shows, where the focus is on drama and captivating an audience with an edge of the seat story line or if all your hearing are the horror stories from Mary down the road. Just breath let them pass and know that you can have a positive experience. Regardless of what others may think.

We know that birth comes in all different shapes and sizes and we know that birth by it’s very nature is unpredictable. We also know that you can prepare for birth and things may not go the way you hoped for and that is ok. A positive birth doesn’t mean a natural vaginal birth with no pain medication. A positive birth is how you define it.

It would be much easier for us to prepare for birth if we knew exactly what was going to happen and when it was going to happen. But we don’t. As our famous quote from GentleBirth Workshops go, we really can only “control the controllables”.

control the controllables

What does this really mean? Have a think about what you really have control over…………. Your breath, your thoughts, your actions, your focus, your response and how you prepare for labour and birth.

Taking a GentleBirth Workshop helps you and your birth partner to prepare for birth and stack the odds in your favour of a positive birth experience. A positive birth experience is one that is defined by you not by me or GentleBirth or poor Mary down the road.

Have a think about what does a positive birth experience mean for you? It goes without saying that all moms will respond with having a healthy baby, but what else means positive for you? How you were spoken to? knowing your options? The environment? The staff? Were you consulted? Was consent given? What else can affect your experience?

You will be confident in knowing that the information provided at a GentleBirth workshop is evidence based and has a science edge to it and it’s not uncommon to hear birth partners get excited and looking forward to birth as they leave the workshop.

GentleBirth effectively uses:

  • Hypnosis for birth
  • Mindfulness – which helps to build your focus and resilience
  • Sport psychology to really get your head in the game
  • Cognative Behavioural Therapy to help challenge those thoughts and gain a greater understanding of where they are stemming from
  • Brain science – understanding that our brain pathways changes all thanks to those lovely pregnancy hormones.

During a workshop we will also go through;

  • Your labour bag and what you can use
  • Using the GentleBirth App for mom and birth partner!!
  • Acupressure points
  • Upright positions for mom during labour and birth
  • Pain relief options – medical and non medical
  • The important role of the birth partner
  • Key questions to ask your care provider
  • Breathing techniques
  • Visualisation

As a mom and a doula I will also share with you other tips and information that may be relative to the workshop.



Your birthing experience will stay with you forever, if you want to do what you can to make it a positive experience and prepare as best you can, you can book into one of my monthly workshops by following this link  P.S. ( Mary from down the road won’t be there 🙂 !!

If the dates I have scheduled don’t suit, please contact me and I would be happy to arrange a private workshop at a more suitable time.


Can Reflexology Induce Labour?

Can Reflexology Induce Labour?

As a reflexologist I get asked this alot!!! The following scenario or something similar is not uncommon for me to experience. I receive a phone call from a stressed out and anxious mom to be who is in the final weeks of pregnancy 39/40 weeks, she has just had a hospital appointment and pressure is put on to book in for induction or to get a sweep by the medical staff to see if “we can move things along”.

expectant lady holding pen marking calendar
Photo by on

Stressed and unsure mom turns to me to see if I can help bring labour on, she heard her friend went into labour the day/night after a reflexology session, She will do anything to avoid medical induction, she heard it’s awful!!! Straight away with this scenario you can sense anxiety, fear, uncertainty, doubt. All the things that can increase mom’s fight or flight response in the body, creating high levels of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which we know inhibits the feel good, oxytocin hormones (these are the hormones needed for labour to start).

So, to answer the question “Can Reflexology induce labour?”. Believe it or not Reflexology CANNOT BRING LABOUR ON!!! Sorry moma, BUT what I can offer mom at this stage is a beautifully relaxing and balancing reflexology treatment in a warm, softly lit treatment room that can encourage mom’s own body and mind to relax, let go of the stress put upon her and give her that all important time and space to just be and breath. I would encourage mom to use her GentleBirth app during a treatment and to listen to tracks like ‘fear release’ ‘birth rehearsal’ ‘confident pregnancy’ or some breathing exercises or positive affirmations, what ever feels good for her.

If the body has high levels of stress hormones, your body is essentially in fight or flight mode and saying don’t go into labour but run somewhere that is safeReflexology can be that bridging gap to help you find that calm, nurturing space to encourage the feel good oxytocin hormones to increase and quieten the stress hormones.

As your guess date approaches you may find it more beneficial to have more frequent sessions. Reflexology cannot induce labour, however, the general view is that it will help support the body to prepare for labour and birth and promote relaxation at a time when anxiety levels are often high.

field grass mom mother

What else can you do to help your body maintain a relaxed, balanced, happy state? The simplest answer is do what feels good for you, what makes you smile? laugh?

Having a baby, whether it is your first or not, will bring lots of wonderful experiences and challenges. Using reflexology  as part of your health and self care may just be what you need on this journey towards motherhood. If you are feeling in need of a boost or just some me time, contact me on 087-1917907 to book your appointment.



Anita is a registered reflexologist with the NRRI. You may be able to claim part of your treatment costs from your health insurance. Please check with them for further details.

Packing your hospital bag

Packing your hospital bag

Here is the ultimate list and tips on what to pack in your hospital bag. Anita is a GentleBirth Instructor and Doula in Ballydesmond, Co. Cork and this topic ALWAYS comes up with couples. What should I put into my hospital bags?? The guessing is no more, have a read of the suggested items and tips and adapted it to suit you.

Even if your planning a homebirth, it is always a good idea to have a small bag packed incase you or baby need to go to the hospital unexpectedly. Some of the stuff you will need regardless of where you are having your baby.

Tip #1: From around 30 weeks I would recommend to start picking up bits and pieces that you need, you don’t have to pack them just yet, but keep them all together in a basket/bag/box and tell your birth partner where they are. 

If like me you like to have a system in place when packing, I would advise having separate bags with you for each section of labour and postpartum time, try and keep your bags small as space is pretty tight in hospitals. I have broken down the list into 5 bags, don’t be alarmed it makes sense when you read through.

  1. Labour ward bag
  2. ** Birth partner bag
  3. Post birth bag
  4. Baby bag
  5. Going home bag


Labour Ward Bag: 

This is the bag you will take into the hospital with you when you are in labour. This is essential your Labour Toolkit bag. Have a read of last weeks blog post on your labour toolkit and take from it what you need. Think, what are the comfort measures you want in this bag? along with the necessary items that you will need.

  • A copy of your Birth Preference. Here is a blog post I wrote previously on the importance of having your birth preference
  • Hospital file (if you have yours, some hospitals are gone digital so you may not have one)
  • Clothes to labour in – How do you want to feel during labour? maybe a sports bra and yoga pants or shorts? Your super hero t-shirt? Loose button down shirt?
  • Swimsuit / bikini top and bottoms. If you are planning on using the pool / shower / bath, what do you want to wear? or do you prefer going natural?
  • Flip flops / slippers/ slip on sandles
  • Glasses – if you normally wear contacts it might be handy to have your glasses with you.
  • Phone with GentleBirth App and headphones. Tip #2 don’t forget to download the app on your birth partners phone so you have back up just incase you need it, you can log in using your own log in details
  • TENS machine and spare batteries and pads
  • Rescue remedy spray or dropper
  • Essential oils and carrier oil – consult a qualified aromatherapist if you plan on using essential oils
  • Positive affirmation signs/notes
  • Cold Compress
  • Warm compress Tip #3 Have some heat packs from the pharmacy in your bag, these heat up really fast and you don’t have to worry about getting hot water. 
  • Facial spray
  • lip balm
  • Hair tie and clips
  • Food and snacks, mints, chewing gum, lollipop
  • Water, fruit juice, energy drink, smoothie
  • Baby’s outfit (nappy, vest, babygro) Tip #4 Have these in a ziplock bag so it is easy to get them. Remember if your doing skin to skin, you might not need them straight away. 
  • Clean clothes or PJ’s for mom, underware and a few maternity pads

** Birth Partners Bag

This only needs to be a small little backpack or even a large ziplock bag in moms bag. It is just some of the essentials for the birth partner to have on the day.

  • A copy of your birth preference
  • Camera and spare batteries
  • Change for the carpark
  • Food and snacks
  • Water and drinks
  • Change of clothes and wash bag with toothbrush, toothpaste, deodrant etc. Tip #5 These can be left in the car if needed, but handy to have as hospitals can be warm regardless of the time of year and it’s nice to freshen up. 


Post Birth Bag

The post birth bag is what you will need for the remainder of your stay in the hospital. You might be in for 1-2 nights, but its no harm to have a few extra bits put aside and leave at home so if your stay is extended for whatever reason your birth partner can bring it in.

Tip #6 the post birth bag can be left in the car and your birth partner can grab it when you need it. The hospital labour rooms can be small so you don’t want too much clutter around the place. 

  • Dark coloured Pj’s x2, if your planning on breastfeeding or wanting to do skin to skin opt for button down or nursing style. Remember the heat in hospitals!! so nice loose comfortable pj’s instead of fleecy pj’s.
  • Leggings – I had a pair of leggings that I wore under a shirt style Pj top and it worked really well. My daughter was in NICU for 5 days so it was great to have this option as I didn’t feel like I was in Pj’s.
  • Nightgown – dark coloured. Honestly, I didn’t use this, I don’t normal use a night gown but if you do it might be handy to have.
  • Underwear – high waist and dark colour underwear are more comfortable, especially if you have opted for or had to have a cesarean as the high waist go above the scar.
  • Nursing bras
  • Medication (if your on medication already e.g. asthma / thyroid / diabetes etcs)
  • 2 packets of maternity pads Tip #7 Have more maternity pads or regular pads at home, I had to send my poor hubby out every day for more pads, all the hospital list said 2 packets and that is what I got, nobody mentioned about having some at home!!
  • Breast pads
  • Nipple cream
  • Nipple compress – I like the multimam brand, keep some at home and have in the fridge!!
  • Nipple shields – hospital usually have them
  • Phone charger
  • Arnica to help with recovery
  • Sports cap bottle for when you need to go to the loo, spraying water while weeing helps with the sting.
  • Witch hazel
  • Shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, deodorant, cleanser, face cream, toothbrush , toothpaste, handcream, hairbrush, hair ties and clips, make up. Tip #8 Treat yourself to some nice travel size products, you deserve it and smelling good will make you feel good. 
  • Face cloth x2
  • Bath towel and hand towel or hair turban (opt for dark colours)
  • Flip flops or slip on sandles for the shower (you might have these packed in your labour bag!)
  • Money for snacks
  • Notepad and pen, just handy to have
  • A large A4 envelop for all the information sheets you get about post pregnancy care etc.
  • Plastic Bag for dirty clothes, somehow you accumulate stuff in the hospital too so its just handy to have a spare bag.

The baby bag

I like to pack the baby stuff separate, or if you have a suitcase with 2 separate compartments you could use one side for you and one side for baby.

  • 8 vests
  • 8 babygros
  • 1-2 cardigans
  • Mittens-  we didn’t use mittens as baby’s bare hands are their first comfort and they use them to help find their way breastfeeding and as comfort. Tip #9 If you do decide to use them check if the babygro’s have mittens built into them. 
  • Baby hat – we didn’t use them, but opt for a bigger size as they tend to be small fitting
  • muslin cloths
  • Bibs
  • Soothers – be careful of using them in the early days of breastfeeding as they can lead to nipple confusion. Remember baby will want to be fed on demand and while a soother serves a purpose you want baby to be suckling to stimulate milk supply.
  • Nappies – If your opting for cloth nappies in the hospital, have a wet bag for them to go into separately and your family and friends can always take them home each day.
  • Nappy bags
  • hand sanitiser
  • Water wipes or cotton wool and water
  • Vaseline – Tip #10 we had packed sudocrem for when I was expecting my first, however the midwives in CUMH said vaseline was better as newborns poo can be quite sticky. 
  • Baby towel with hood if your opting to wash baby – we choose to not wash baby, except for top and tail.


Going Home Bag

These can all be left at home and bought in the day you get to go home

For Baby:

  • Carseat
  • Cellular blanket
  • Going home outfit

For Mom:

  • Going home outfit, pick something loose and comfortable, I like yoga pants, nursing t-shirt, flip flops or runners and zip up cardigan or a maxi dress and cardigan. Remember you will still have a little bump and you want to be comfortable
  • 2 rolled up towels that mom can sit on (The towels are placed under each butt check and thigh) to keep pressure off perineum especially if you had stitches.


I hope you found this list informative and helpful as you get your hospital bag ready. Is there anything else you packed that you found helpful? or anything you packed and didn’t need or use?

If you would like further information on the GentleBirth Workshops (group and private workshops available) or the Birth Doula service and packages that are available, you can read the links for more information or contact Anita on 087-1917907

GentleBirth FAQ

Doula Packages and Doula FAQ’s

Labour Toolkit

Labour Toolkit

Following on from last weeks blog post  I felt it was important to continue on with creating a positive mindset for labour & birth and what mom to be and her birth partner can do to prepare for birth.

By preparing your labour toolkit you are proactive in your decisions and actively thinking about what comforts you want to use during labour and birth. This thought process naturally leads you to thinking about your birth preferences and choices and how you and your birth partner can best support these by creating a labour toolkit.

Your labour toolkit will be very specific to you and how you would like to manage the sensations of labour. It’s always good to keep an open mind on what to include, remember what you like one minute you might not like the next, having options is always good. I would recommend that you put everything into your labour toolkit, you don’t know how long each stage of labour will last for and you don’t know what will happen on the day, so it’s better to have a full toolkit and not need it, than to not have it and be looking for it. Keep all options on the table!!

Don’t be shy to have an open discuss about labour with your birth partner, it’s equally important that they know what is in the toolkit, how it works so that they can confidently offer suggestions to you on the day. Your job is to maintain your focus and listen to your body, going with the sensations and your instincts.

Here is a sample labour toolkit that will hopefully inspire you to start creating your own. When creating yours ask yourself “what would I like on the day to help me feel comfortable, safe and strong as my body prepares to bring my baby into the world?” while also looking at how you generally manage pain or discomfort.


sample labour toolkit


If you are interested in finding out more about how a Doula can help you prepare for labour and birth, You can Contact me for more information on 087-1917907.

The importance of Birth Preference’s and why you should write one

The importance of Birth Preference’s and why you should write one

pexels-photo-415068.jpegWriting your birth preferences is a topic that has some mixed views, I have heard moms say that “it is a great idea and really helped me prepare for birth” and others have said “what is the point they wont listen to you anyways”. Whatever your current thoughts are on writing a birth preference I hope that this blog post will help to give you a positive perspective on the importance of writing your birth preferences, not just for you but for the greater good of maternity care in Ireland.

Briefly explained, a birth preference is a document of your wishes during labour and directly after birth. Labour is an unpredictable event and it’s important to keep this in mind, be flexible and adaptable on the day.

Birth preferences play a few different, but equally important roles when it comes to your maternity care;

ROLE 1: A birth preference acts as a communication tool between mom and her care givers. It clearly states what mom’s wishes are and hopefully during your prenatal appointments you can begin to have discussions on what you would like to happen on the day and what are the hospital policies around your choices. It’s important to always look for evidence based care, sadly hospital policies are not always best practice.

Equally when you arrive into hospital (or your home birth midwife arrives) the birth preferences can be handed to your midwife and they will get a better understanding of you and what you hope to achieve during labour and directly after it and also how they can assist you.

ROLE 2: Discussing your birth options with your chosen birth partner helps them to prepare for labour and they will have a better understanding of how to help you when labour begins. It will increase their confidence and they can feel more prepared leading up to the day.

It’s really important to discuss and keep communicating what you want to happen during labour with your birth partner, this also gives them an opportunity to ask questions or even make suggestions.

On the day, mom’s job is to focus and listen to her body and the sensations, the birth partners job is to aid mom in finding comfortable positions, help her to regain focus and importantly to be her voice, an advocate for her and her choices that she has documented on the birth preferences.

ROLE 3: When mom starts to think about her labour and the different aspects of it she can begin to ask questions and inform herself better. This process can also increases moms confidence and believe in herself, as she empowers herself through informed decision making and backing her choices by research on evidence based care and best practice guidelines.

Mom can also begin to use the powerful tool of visualisation. She can visualise what she will have in her toolkit to help on the day, how she is going to find comfort and what can be done to ease sensations.  Visualisation is a great tool to use and knowing your birth preferences really helps to clarify your focus.

ROLE 4: Finally, change in our maternity care will only happen from the ground up, the more mom’s that start to advocate for how they want to labour the more that change will come about.

Care providers can only assist you and do better when you communicate what you want.  baby-sleeping-baby-baby-girl.jpgIf your due your baby soon, have a think about the importance of writing your own birth preferences and make a decision that feels right for you. The choice is yours, but for me personally it’s an important step in preparing yourself and those around you for labour. It’s more than just a document to file away in your maternity folder.

If you are unsure about labour and your choices, educate yourself and be informed. GentleBirth workshops can help you get into the mindset of thinking about labour, GentleBirth workshops are supported by evidence based research and international best practice. We cover topics such as, mindfulness, hypnosis, CBT, sports psychology including visualisation, comfort measures that can be used – this usually helps the birth partner as it is hands on and increase their confidence and we also look at negotiating your birth options.

workshop imageI run group and private workshops in Ballydesmond, Co. Cork.  if you wish to view my profile click here. 

If you are not in my area, fear not, GentleBirth workshops are held around the country, for more information check out GentleBirth Workshops .

Wishing you a positive birthing experience.