Yoga with Fiona
Birth stories and testimonials
Our boy arrived on the 20th July at 12.16 am and weighed 6lb 12oz, which has shocked all who said how big I was. He is perfectly healthy and yoga techniques helped me push him out in just 45 mins, my birth partners (husband and my mum) were impressed! Lots of breathing and relaxing all parts of my body. I knew I could do it after all our positive sessions. Thank you! The last twenty weeks or so at your classes have been invaluable to me and really helped both in pregnancy and in birth - I want everyone to know how much it has helped me! Looking forward to doing mum and baby yoga in a few weeks time.
As a midwife I believe that the best preparation for birth is to learn how to relax and to know and trust your body. I did pregnancy yoga with Fiona throughout both of my pregnancies and I think that this, and her workshop for couples, is among the best birth education I have seen! Fiona has an amazing ability to empathise and communicate with birthing women (and her dedication to to the health of the pelvic floor is astounding!). Her classes are accessible and are the perfect way to start your preparation for a natural and empowering birth. As a midwife and as a Mum, I can't speak highly enough of Fiona's classes.
Sarah from Hove, just before having her baby
Dear Fiona, Thank you for your words of advice and wisdom. I have enjoyed pregnancy yoga so much and found it so beneficial. I've really valued your knowledge, humour and down to earth approach and always trusted in you. Pregnancy yoga was my haven to enjoy being pregnant away from the demands of work and other anxieties. So many people have commented on how calm and healthy I've been through my pregnancy and I do believe our yoga classes made a big contribution. Although as it's turned out I'm not having a natural birth, I wasn't scared of having one and did feel I had been in the right mental space to face it! Many thanks again for all of your help. Looking forward to post natal yoga now!
Starting Yoga very early on in my pregnancy (14 weeks) I wasn’t entirely sure how beneficial it would be. But it soon became the highlight of my week, a time to switch off from everyday stress and worries and to really enjoy bonding with my baby. I'm not somebody who can switch off and relax very easily, so I soon realised how much I needed my weekly yoga sessions.
The breathing techniques I learnt became second nature and were vital during my labour. I had a 25 hour labour, 18 of which were at home without any pain relief just the focus on my Body, Baby and Breath. My husband had made posters of some of my favourite birthing affirmations and had them pinned up around the lounge so I could see them, which helped immensely. Not once did I think 'I can't do this!' This is something we would never would have done before attending pregnancy yoga. The deep belly breathing got me through each contraction and I was able to look forward to another contraction and be grateful as they were bringing me closer to my baby. Unfortunately I did have to be transferred to hospital, but even with that news I focused on my positive affirmations and kept going back to the long breaths.
I truly believe that without my Pregnancy Yoga experience I wouldn't have achieved the natural birth that I wanted. Although my labour lasted 25 hours I had no concept of time and was able to stay in my own zone for the duration. Even in the hospital I felt strong enough and in control to refuse the medical intervention and was able to push my baby out naturally. I kept remembering to trust my body as it knew what to do. When our baby boy was born it was the most magical moment and I'm so pleased I was able to stay in so much control for that moment.
Thank you Fiona for making my pregnancy such an enjoyable time, I still miss Wednesday sessions! I feel very lucky to have learnt such great skills which I still use especially in the early days of breastfeeding! Through your course I have also made some great friends it was so nice to bond during our pregnancies and even nicer now to meet up with our babies! I'm looking forward to attending 'Mums and Babies' yoga, I'm sure little Oscar will recognise your voice!
The early stages of labour at home were really good (albeit very hard work!) and when I got to hospital I was already fully dilated. Then we had about 2 1/2 hours of pushing before the doctors said the baby was stuck - head and shoulders were in the wrong position to come out - so we had to go into theatre at the last moment and ventouse and other interventions were used to get her out safely. Until theatre though, it was quite natural with just a couple of paracetamol, tens machine, bath and birthing pool to help. I think that a lot of this was thanks to techniques and tips from you! It was a shame that her birth wasn't totally natural but I accept that the last minute medical intervention was necessary and the best thing.
Here are the things from your classes that I found most useful in labour:
- Moving around - especially walking and hip/ pelvis rotating - and not being afraid or embarrassed to do this!
- Generally letting go and going with it/ trusting the body (and being told to do this) - I think you said 'dance with the intensity' which I really liked
- Low moaning sounds/ vocalising and again, not feeling self conscious about this
- Breathing and counting this
- Being told by partner that a surge was half way through or nearly over then resting and letting go between surges (again being told to do this)
- Visualising swimming to the island
- Trying different positions that we went through in your birth workshop
- Asserting yourself in hospital and questioning - having the confidence to do this
- Partner being totally on board, 'present' and supportive
So, a big and heartfelt thank you to you for all this!
Renske, mum to Isis-Sophia, Brighton
I didn't have the birth I had in mind (home birth in water), but Fiona had taught me I still had a choice in how I felt about the process so I kept on hearing her words: 'Keep your thoughts with your breath, baby and body'. Despite a long birth that ended up in hospital with a few medical interventions, I felt in control the whole time and my baby came out with strong heartbeat and top Apgar score. I really believe that I did that by breathing low down the entire time and not panicking. Fiona's yoga is as much about mental preperation as body preparation.
And below are more birth stories from my years teaching in The Hague.... (the classes attracted women of different nationalities as The Hague has many embassies)
Klaartje, The Hague
Our little girl was born on Sunday the 23rd at home! Labour was only 7 hours and I really benefitted from your lessons. To be more precise:
- the breathing (deep, down, nose --> when I felt light in the head or a little dizzy I knew I was breathing too violently and could correct that)
- just sitting upright on a chair was the most comfortable for me. The contractions came every 2-3 minutes, so I had time to rest in between
- the rest in between the contractions is the best tip you gave me. As soon as I was distracted during this "rest period", I could not handle the contraction as well as when I could totally relax. And even though the periods were short (from the beginning every 2-3 minutes), I succeeded in really letting go by thinking of your words like "softening your body" and relaxing my entire body
- during contractions thinking that "this contraction will end and this contraction is doing its perfect work"
- And it was a great experience to give birth at home in my own bedroom, just as I really wanted too!
Marian, The Hague
I have to tell you it's great to be a woman! That we may experience the pregnancy and the birth of a baby. Of course I have to thank you as well! I'm so glad that I did your yoga lessons. On the day of the birth of Kylian the midwife told us how relaxed we were and that everything would be fine because of our calmness. That's all because of your Yoga. Thank you for that!
During my pregnancy I reminded myself constantly of what you told us during the lessons. Contractions are like a wave, just go with the flow. That's what we did as well. Just see how it comes and goes and just experience that!
The delivery took 4 hours, that was really fast! But everything went fine. Kylian was born on our canal boat. My husband was a great mental coach, mainly because of your partner lesson. He told me how to breath and he stood behind me and helped me by saying, "Marian you're doing fine, you can do it, I can see the head of the baby” and so on... He had fun supporting me during the delivery!
Laia from Spain
I had to let you know how important your work has been for us during this birth. It has been a totally different experience to my first child. I felt more in touch with myself, with the emotions (in a positive way) – it was more real. I got to hospital at 7am with 5 cm dilated and kind of manageable contractions, with (according to my husband) very good breathing technique from my side!). At 12 noon they broke my waters and then the process accelerated as well as the strength of the contractions. The only thing I could think of was to keep controlled breathing and keep my focus. I could sense that if I didn't do that I would lose it like last time with my first son. I thought about your words and what we learnt at yoga and kept my focus. Ian was also crucial. This time we were a team. I could not have managed without his words of support. He told me to let you know that he was very impressed at how in control I was and how good my breathing was this time! He believes it's because of the yoga class. Now with baby Clara in my arms I can sense that having a natural birth helps me to bond with her much quicker...thank you!
Terttu, The Hague
Exactly a week ago we had a baby girl, her name is Louka! Looking back the whole process was beautiful. I’m full of it, I can talk for hours about it. Yoga helped me a lot. It helped me to be confident, to know that my body and mind will find a way to cope, not to be afraid. And it helped me to be fit to begin with. Fiona told us to keep moving and walking especially in nature and I walked on the beach with my feet in the water every day during the last two weeks. As I walked I was aware of my breathing, enjoying the weather, the water and my partner.
It was a quick birth. It started at nine in the evening and she was born at 5 in the morning. The first contractions made me panic. I couldn’t find my strategy. But I was convinced I could find one, and I did. What worked for me was sitting up in a chair very straight. I knew I had to let it come and I was glad that I found my thing. The rest is top sport! Concentration, endurance, silence, meditation. My husband was very proud. So, I’m very grateful for you Fiona. I never hesitated nor was afraid.
Manuela from Germany
My daughter was born last Saturday. On Friday night at 1 am my waters broke. Color was transparent so I decided to go back to bed and relax. Contractions started slowly but already every 5 minutes and lasted 20-30 seconds. At 2.30 am I called the midwife because the color of the waters had turned pink, which was confirmed to be ok since it was only blood.
I spent the night breathing into the pains that were concentrated in the lower belly and lower back. I even managed to get some sleep.
In the morning the intensity of pain had risen, but I stayed with the rhythm of 30 second contractions every 5 minutes. I spent the day on the yoga mat in the cat position, rocking my hips during contractions and going into deep relaxation (with a guided relaxation on my i-pod) in between contractions. I was very “zen” and managed to breathe well. I followed the great advice to feel grateful for every contraction because it would bring me a step closer to my baby. I was focused inwards all the time and focused on the present moment. I totally forbid myself to think ahead or to spare attention on the world around me.
The midwife had come to check me at around 10.30am and said to call her back when contractions were longer, 60-90 seconds, or were raising the upper part of the uterus . They actually never did. They remained short and only in the lower part.
We called her at 2 pm when the pain became so strong that I cried. She came immediately and found out that I was dilated 9 cm....I could not believe it! We left for the hospital at 2.30 pm and I was in the delivery room at around 2.45. At that point I had left my “buddha” attitude and fell into a kind of panic. I felt too tired for what was coming. I asked if I could get an epidural...which was obviously too late. The midwife explained that the baby was ready to come. That there was no way back and all I had to do is breath in and push with every contraction. She said that I should not breathe out or scream, because it would lose the strength of the contraction and lengthen the process.
I could not imagine that the baby would have enough room to come through there. Thinking increased my fear. But the midwife was very clear, that I only had to breathe and push, and I consciously made the decision to stop thinking and to leave everything else to the midwife and the rest of the world and only focus on the breathing-pushing instructions. Marie Fiona was there minutes later at 15.35. The placenta came 10 minutes later.
She is the sweetest baby in the world ...of course. I got stitches directly afterwards, which was absolutely bearable. I only looked at my baby which was already ambitiously sucking my breast. A very magic moment!The whole labor was so much less painful than I had imagined. Contractions never got as bad as I had thought they would and even the moment when the baby came through was a moment of pain relief and not increase.
I believe that the little things that helped to make this experience so unexpectedly smoothe were:
- I saw that my job was limited to managing breath and positive attitude (endorphins)
- The baby, my body, the universe, the midwife, my husband,...were in charge of everything else, I decided to trust and truly delegate “let go”
- The biggest challenge was managing my fears
- I found it useful to focus my attention on the present moment only - rather than thinking ahead. NO THINKING at all!
- Last but not least, the feeling of gratitude for every contraction made it appear so much more magical
- I had charged my husband with a very clear mission: “always make sure we keep a sense of humor”. He did a great job!
Silvia from Brazil
On the 2nd July (41 weeks and 1 day over due) at 7:00 am I started to feel the first contractions. I took a shower to relax, had a good breakfast and immediately picked up the TENS machine. From then on my only focus was on my BREATHING and to increase the TENS machine! Around 15:30 the contractions became stronger and shorter, that was the moment that we went to the Hospital. I was already with 6 cm. At that time the TENS machine was working at full power, which helped! Around 20:00 the mucous plug came out and seconds after the waters broke. At 20:30 I installed myself on the birthing chair... 15 minutes of pushing and there was baby Thomas, looking very surprised. At that moment Erik said, “Talk to him in Portuguese” Which I did! I must say that learning to relax and breathe helped me during the whole process. Thank you so much!
Cynthia from the UK
Our little girl Thalia was born on the 21st June, marking the start of summer! She is a sweet little thing. I certainly put into practise all the things that I learnt at yoga: Upward, Forward, Open and Mobile was very much on my mind during the whole process. I was prepared to have fun and thus took all my favorite CDs with me to the hospital. We went to the hospital at 7pm and were very happy to find out that I was already 6 cm dilated. I thought, “great, give me a couple of more hours and I will be out of here”. This was not to be, and I began to realise that I would have to accept that the baby was going to choose the way it was going to be born, despite all the dancing and hip swaying movements I was doing. My mantra (stolen from one of the other ladies in the class!) about God only giving me what I could handle also kicked in. To cut a long story short, after five hours I had only dilated a further 1cm, by about 3am I will still only 7cm. At 4am it was apparent that the baby was not coming out so we went on to an emergency c-section. I was in control and I realised (long before they did) that maybe a c-section was probably going to be the only way to get this baby out. When they finally managed to get to her they said that there was no way that she could have come out naturally. She was completely stuck in the birth canal. She was star gazing. Anyway when we finally met our very much longed for daughter all was forgotten and replaced with immense joy at our little baby girl.
Yogini from India
I would like to give many compliments to you. I can hardly believe what a huge difference I feel after joining Yoga lessons with you. You are such a wonderful teacher. You and your lessons have filled me with so much positivity about pregnancy. I suddenly felt the difference in my attitude and my outlook towards the pregnancy. I always looked forward to Wednesdays as it was charging me with energy for the rest of the week. I cannot explain how wonderful I was feeling and how well I was connecting to the baby.
Ksenia from Russia
We are delighted to announce the birth of our baby girl Daria. I managed to give birth at the hospital with the help of midwife and my husband, no induction and pain killing medication...:). Everything went OK, relatively quickly, from the moment I started feeling the contractions till actual birth - 24 hours. As I said, my husband helped me a lot, especially at the point when the midwife broke my waters and we moved from 4 to 10 cm dilation in 1 and a half hours. He stayed through the whole process (although it was not planned*) and he said that he did not see any moment on which he could leave me, he even cut the umbilical cord. This was a very important experience for both of us. The yoga classes helped me a lot too, I spent the whole time in the vertical position...:)
*Ksenia told me that in Russia it is unheard of for husbands to attend the birth
Irene from Spain
I finally found some time to write about the delivery. Eva was born two and a half weeks ago. Although I was in labor for quite a long time, around 30 hours, when I look back I have a good memory of the delivery.
I spent most of the time at home. During this time I mostly walked between the contractions and moved my hips in circles during the contractions, breathing deeply in my belly. From time to time I also danced with Maarten, my husband, he pressed with his feet on my lower back and I took a shower.
During the last hours I was very concentrated and Maarten and me were breathing together during the contractions, which helped me to go further. Pushing was easier than I had thought. It is clear what nature wants you to do. Within 45 minutes Eva was born. What a beautiful moment, seeing my little girl for the first time!
Some things of the whole delivery that surprised me:
- I hadn’t slept for 40 hours and hadn’t eaten much during this time but still I wasn’t really tired. I don’t know where it came from, but I had a lot of energy.
- Breathing helped me to stay calm, relaxed and to concentrate. During the classes I didn’t exhale properly (too short outbreath). But during the delivery my breathing got better and better, with very long exhalations. Thus, you needn’t know everything beforehand. You learn during the process.
- I don't think it was very painful. If it was, I have forgotten it.
Annelie, The Hague
Our little girl Micky Noëlle was born last Sunday (2 days before due date). She is really sweet with lots of dark long hair, big eyes and long lashes.
The labor went really fast: 6 hours from the first signs to the birth of the baby. We had to rush to the hospital!
What I gained most from the yoga classes was not to panic, take it as it comes, and take long deep breaths in and out from the belly. Thank you!