When you work in a field, any field, you can find yourself watching the news and see something published that you have known about FOR... EVER !!!
This is how it was for me today when I heard Anna Simpsons story on BBC News. Anna had been hoping for a normal birth but describes having an emergency c-section as the most frightening experience of her life. She went on to have treatment for PTSD and described her journey.
It is no surprise to me that Dr Rebecca Moore, from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, went on camera to say that many women who experienced PTSD were being "failed by the current provision".
Anna is not alone. In my 30 years of working with women and families I have met countless women whose experiences around childbirth have left them with the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I even worked with a midwife who felt unable to have a second baby due to undiagnosed perinatal PTSD which was still affecting her 25 years later.
And it is not just the women. Partners and Maternity staff have often come to me for help dealing with the symptoms of PTSD. Childbirth can be the most wonderful experience a human can go through but very occasionally it can also be the most terrifying time of your life.
If you are concerned that you or someone close to you has PTSD read on and I will summarise the symptoms and experiences that can occur.
You might have PTSD (relating to childbirth) if you were exposed to a traumatic event around childbirth in which both of the following were present:
- You experienced, an event where there was actual or threatened death or serious injury to Mum and/or Baby.
- You felt intense fear helplessness or horror.
Do you experience (one or more of) the following?
- Uncontrollable memories of the trauma.
- Recurrent distressing dreams of the event.
- Flashbacks to the event.
- Overwhelming emotional reactions to associated people/places/things.
- Physical symptoms (sweating, racing heart, abdominal symptoms) when encountering people/places/things that remind you of the event.
Do you try to avoid things or feel ‘numb’ especially (three or more of the following)?
- When people talk about childbirth.
- When you come across activities, places or people that remind you of the trauma.
- You find you cannot remember an important aspect of the trauma.
- You don’t want to do things that you used to enjoy.
- You feel isolated and detached from others.
- You feel unable to have loving feelings, or to laugh and cry as before.
- You have an overwhelming sense of vulnerability and feel scared that there is no future.
Do you have (two or more of the following)?
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep (even when the baby allows it).
- Irritability or outbursts of anger.
- Difficulty in concentrating.
- Hyper-vigilance - looking out for danger everywhere.
- An exaggerated startle response - jumping to the slightest sound/movement.
Has this gone on for more than one month?
Do you have significant difficulty in work and/or social situations because of this?
If you have read through this and have been answering “yes” to lots of the questions it might not mean that you ‘have PTSD’ but it does mean that you are struggling with life and are not able to enjoy it as much as you would like to. Maybe it is time to find a way to let go of the overwhelm and anxiety and to start feeling more like the ‘you’ you used to be and the ‘you’ you want to be for yourself and your family.
So please, If you are concerned that you may have PTSD and want help please talk to your health professional or get in touch with me. There are fast and effective ways of overcoming this debilitating condition.
Perinatal PTSD does not only affect Mothers but it can go on to affect the whole family. If you are still experiencing the above symptoms more than 3 months after the birth it is time to talk.
Q: If I say I am not coping will ‘they’ take my baby away?
A: NO! You are asking for help and you may well be surprised by how much help will be offered.
Q: I don’t think I could talk to anyone about the birth - can you still help?
A: Fortunately (with many therapies including human givens therapy) you do not have to talk about the events that caused the trauma (as this reliving can further embed the trauma).
Q: People will think me weak - I should be happy that I have a family, I have no reason to feel like this do I?
A: Why some people get PTSD while others don’t is not fully understood but may occur because some people ‘freeze’ at the moment of trauma. This freezing is a normal human response to extreme danger.
Q: I think I have had PTSD for 20-30 years is it too late for help?
A: No, it is never too late. I have helped people many, many years after trauma.
Q: If I have another baby will the PTSD come back?
A: If you have treatment for PTSD and can talk about the birth and go back to the hospital without feeling the symptoms then there is no reason that the PTSD symptoms will return with a subsequent birth.
Q: Can you definitely diagnose whether I have PTSD or not?
A: I am a fully qualified psychotherapist, but I am not Doctor or a Psychologist so I am unable to give you a diagnosis. I am however experienced in helping people overcome the symptoms that I have described above. I spend my time and yours helping you to feel better rather than examining the detail of each of the symptoms in order to give you a label.
If you have any other questions at all don’t hesitate to get in touch.
This is me sitting on my great grandmother’s knee in 1958
Today, on Remembrance day, I choose to remember May, my great grandmother, I do remember her as a little round lady who wound her plaits around her head, had a whiskery chin and a tin full of sweeties on her table.
I didn’t know her as a young woman growing up as daughter to the village butcher, nor as the girl who rode her horse too fast. I didn’t know her as she married Norman, the son of the village brewer. I didn’t know her as she gave birth to six children in the first 15 years of the 1900s. I didn’t know her as Norman left for France, nor did I know her when the letter came that he was missing in action. I didn’t know her as she held her family together or how she felt about her sons joining up. I didn’t know her when a year later the letter came that Norman was alive but had been injured, I didn’t know her when her disabled husband returned, nor when she had 2 more children. I didn’t know her as every day for more than 40 more years she looked at her husband knowing he had survived where many hadn’t, yet had injuries that changed his mind and body perhaps beyond recognition.
I know little of my other three great grandmothers or eight great grandmothers. All I know is that I, just like you come from a long line of strong women who gave birth to a daughter who became a mother, and did the best they could with what they had.
This story was left untold for 50 years, we did not know it to remember it. Now I can share it with you, and your story will have a mother who saw her husband, brothers or sons changed by war. On remembrance day or any day take a moment to remember her.
Do you want to be the mother your grandmother would be proud of?
I have created this 'Being Here Day' as this time of year always signifies New Beginnings to me and a time to start welcoming the longer days as we edge towards the spring. There will be Tai Chi and Pilates, Stories and Poems, Exploring consciousness, singing and using natural remedies and techniques for managing anxiety - and lots more! Have a holiday in a day - no guarantee of sunshine but a warm glow of friendship and log fires!
When? Sunday 18th February 2018
What Time? 10.00am - 4.00pm
Whereabouts? Cleeve House, Seend, Melksham, SN12 6PG 01380 827129
About the day
This is a day of sharing, relaxing, stretching and wellbeing, come and join us in this wonderful venue in the heart of the Wiltshire countryside. You can choose to bring something to share, or just bring yourself and enjoy what others have to offer. All activities and talks are optional and included in the price. Lunch and refreshments are also provided.
What is going on?
Everything and nothing, there will be talks, movement practices, time for laughter and meditation. A chance to learn and a chance to share but most of all a chance just to be!
Will there be food?
Yes, teas and coffee will be available throughout the day, and a warming lunch will be served.
As well as activities there will be jigsaws, colouring and oracle cards to explore.
If you want to make new friends, spend time with old friends, learn something new, stretch or relax your body and feed or quieten your mind then this is for you.
OR If you want to come, to read a book, sit by the fire, or walk among the trees, then this is for you.
How much will it cost?
The cost of the day for those who just want to be here and enjoy is £60 Book your tickets here.
We are also looking for speakers, singers, yogis, pilates teachers, meditation leaders, sound workers, card readers, hosts, and guides, but any other suggestions will be considered.
If you have a talent, a skill or some wisdom to share please get in touch with Bindi in return for 30-45 minutes of your time we have a limited number of tickets for £50.
What to Bring?
Bring yourself, in cosy clothes We will have a toasty fire but it’s a big old house. So wrap up warm! The grounds are lovely too, but it is February - so bring your wellies!
I am taking a look at the story of Christmas. Please note this is a humorous exploration of how and why Mary might have suffered from postnatal illness. The sole purpose is to raise awareness of postnatal illness and how it can affect anyone. Hopefully it will shed some light and raise a smile. There is no intention to offend.
The ‘Needs Perspective’ says that if our emotional needs are met in balance we thrive. When we cannot meet those needs we struggle with anxiety, depression and other stress related illnesses.
If we look at Mary’s life from a ‘Needs’ perspective, it is very likely she had postnatal depression.
What do we know about Mary? She had been travelling for days, to register in a city many miles from home. She seemed to have been travelling alone with Joseph, who was not best pleased that she was having a baby by someone else. At the end of all this she gave birth in a stable with only Joseph and the animals for company.
Let’s just check through the physical and emotional needs and see how they might have been met.
It is unlikely that she had easy access to Food and Drink, They would have been relying on ‘takeaways’ and snack food
Mary didn't know the area and was probably not feeling at her most comfortable after a long journey and a long labour so Movement would have been quite limited.
Sleep would have been hard to come by, lying on straw and surrounded by large animals and intruded on by endless visitors - shepherds, wise men and the like.
Security, Mary must have been feeling very insecure, a long way from her home, keeping away from the hooves of the Ox and the Ass and then hearing that Herod planned to kill all the babies in his kingdom.
Control, if a new mum ever felt that she had no control, then Mary was that Mum, she was far from home, and had no control over what she ate, when she slept, and who might visit.
Attention ALL the attention was going on Jesus, Yes he was cute, and had come to redeem the earth, but no-one seemed to bring Mary any presents, or even take much notice of her.
Emotional Connection Mary and Joseph’s relationship had been rocky beforehand, and now he seemed just to want to hang out with the shepherds.
Mary was many miles away from her Community, she must have felt as if she had been cast out from her tribe, they had been acting a bit ‘off’ with her before she left home..
You might think that giving birth to the son of God was quite an Achievement, and maybe it was, let’s hope Mary was proud of herself, and could say at the end of the day “I’m glad I did that”. But maybe it all felt far bigger than she could cope with.
I don’t remember hearing much about Respect for Mary in the early weeks, and she wasn't to know then that she would have millions of artists sculpt and draw impressions of her for more than 2000 years to come. Maybe the angels showed respect, hopefully they smiled encouragingly at Mary and sang quietly.
Whatever Mary had believed in before having Jesus there must have been a huge shift in how she met her need for Meaning and Purpose, It is hard enough for any first time Mum to make the change, but Wow - what a responsibility she was going to have to bring up this child to be near perfect, and she of all Mums knew that God would be watching her to make sure she got it right!
The moment that Mary gave birth to Jesus must have been the last moment that she had any Privacy at all. Just imagine the moment she held her tiny babe for the first time the angelic hosts proclaiming all around the world. Soon everyone felt that they had some right to visit when they like, bringing inappropriate gifts and expecting to watch her baby’s every move.
Of course this is written with a degree of poetic licence and with my tongue firmly in my cheek as I do not know what Mary’s experience truly was. However in this story we find that Mary had difficulty in getting many of her needs met at all and Achievement and Meaning and Purpose were met far too well! This would have caused a lack of balance, and as I said at the top when needs are not met, we become stressed, anxious and depressed. Add to this surging hormones and traumatic labour and post natal illness can quickly ensue. Hopefully Mary, like most new mothers found a way to meet her needs and didn't suffer too long with postnatal depression or anxiety.
It can take days, weeks, months and even years to regain balance after a significant life change like childbirth. As humans we always seek to regain equilibrium and to meet our needs but often we need help from friends, relations and professionals.
If Mary could have suffered from perinatal illness so could we all. If this story helps one woman to start talking about her feelings and getting the help she needs, this blog has played it’s part.
After a recent attack in London by three young men on innocent passers-by, today of all days seems to me to be the day to at last write my story. This is the story of how I became the mother I am today.
It has been more than 10 years now since my 25-year-old daughter left her flat, she kissed her flatmate goodbye and headed off out into London. She loved life and loved the city. Having grown up in a village she treated London like a village, she always expected to meet friends and because this was the way she thought then this is what she found. She didn't know that very soon many people who she didnt even know would have her best interests at heart.
Within half an hour my daughter was lying unconscious and bleeding at the side of the road. She had been attacked and robbed of her bag. A dentist stopped to do CPR and a taxi driver gave chase to the three men who sped off on their mopeds carrying my daughter's bag and with it, her identity.
An ambulance arrived and resuscitated my daughter, the police took charge at the scene. On arrival at A&E they resuscitated her again, she was transferred to the neurological hospital where a long operation helped to lessen the effects of the bleeds on her brain. She had the best of care. She was transferred to intensive care and in all this time no-one at all who knew her knew she was there.
I was among those phoned that evening by one of the men wanting to know her address as they had ‘found her phone at the bus stop'. None of us gave away her address but tried to contact her. That evening I and several of her friends rang and rang her flat. None of us saw the 10 pm news describing the young woman found unconscious, or that three men were wanted for attempted murder.
The next morning I started ringing the hospitals asking if anyone had been admitted either with her name or not knowing her name. Her friend rang the police. More than 24 hours after she had been attacked her boyfriend and a best friend identified the jewellery that she had been wearing and the police were able to tell us that she was in a critical state having had a bleed on the brain.
I went into a kind of autopilot. It was as if the umbilical cord that had joined us so firmly together all those years before was now relentlessly pulling me the 100 miles towards my daughter's bedside. My focus was totally on getting to see her and hoping I would not be too late. As I walked up the hospital stairs I knew that either I would get to know these stairs well or this might be the one and only time I traveled them. Either way, all our lives had changed forever. Family and friends were already gathered, fear on all our faces.
I recognised my daughter by the curve of her nose, her fingers, and toes. She was bruised and swollen. Her eye was blackened, she had skull fractures, eye socket fractures, and a fractured clavicle. She also had a suspected fractured spine, but her head injury was so serious that they couldn't investigate her spine for fear of causing more trauma to her brain.
The Police were kind. The Doctors and Nurses were kind. Family and friends were kind. News spread. Newspapers took the story, Crimewatch showed the story and people who knew us and people who didn't were praying and hoping and sending support and good wishes to us all. It was as if we were all just waiting as my daughter rode the scariest roller-coaster of her life - for 4 (very long) weeks. There were many times when we watched squeezed into a corner while the medical staff checked and tweaked and monitored the machines as my daughter, my first born child clung tenuously to life. More than once we were told to call the whole family to be by her bedside.
As those closest to her kept vigil by her bedside, friends brought food and love. It felt as if we had set up a camp where love and connection and laughter held us close, and still, we waited. We survived on laughter and hope and gave no time or space to fear anger and hate.
Initially, we had little information and we were scared that whoever had attacked my daughter would try to come into the hospital. Many people were interviewed by police, many people rang the police with information. My daughter had not been singled out by anyone who knew her, she had been attacked for the contents of her handbag.
We waited, we hoped, we prayed. There was nothing definite, in those weeks, she could die, she could be paralysed by stroke or spinal fracture, she might never regain consciousness she might lose her speech, her personality, control over her bodily functions. All that I knew as I stood and sat and watched and waited and talked to doctors, nurses and police was that although I was a guardian of her body, she was not ‘there'. I hoped and hoped for a full recovery but had no idea if she would ever ‘come back' I told her stories and sang the songs of her childhood. I planned a house move to a wheelchair safe environment to have her home, I planned her funeral.
And then 4 weeks on she started to wake up, and no it was not like the films, no flutter of eyelids, no smile of recognition. I remember meeting her grandfather at the top of the stairs - (the ones that I now knew well) saying - "she is breathing on her own". As a Mum I had NEVER felt prouder, I was rocketed back to the moment she had been born, the first time she breathed on her own, the way that she had stretched out like a kitten before growing into the beautiful sleek tigress she was to become.
The waking up took many days while her eyes rolled and she smiled a vacant smile, we watched as she waved her arms and legs just as she had when she was a baby trying to make sense of how to control them, She ripped out the tubes that had been taking stuff in and out of her body for the last few weeks. We were told we had to make plans for longer-term care, but Jane had other plans. Within a week her friend met her walking down the street ‘looking just like Bambi' and walked back into the hospital with her.
Five weeks after she had been admitted to hospital I took Jane downstairs to the intensive care unit for her to see where she had ‘slept away' the month of February. The slow dawning of recognition on the faces of the staff to see this beautiful upright young woman who had been so ill, so dependent on them brought tears to my eyes and theirs.
A week later Jane went home, she returned to her flat and returned to University. Life was not and still is not easy, ask anyone who lives with or loves someone with an acquired brain injury or epilepsy they will know. Memory loss, fatigue, and headaches are relentless reminders. My brave and astonishing daughter still treats London as a village, she has had her phone and her purse snatched several times more, but many more times than that she has been picked up and comforted by strangers, helped by police, medical staff, paramedics, shopkeepers, firemen and taxi drivers she wears a bracelet to say who to contact if she is lost or unconscious. As she says "There are far more people who have helped me than have ever caused me harm". *
Our family was changed by the events that occurred one day in February 2007. Each of us carries emotional or even physical ‘scars' from that time, however, we are all grateful for each and every day that we are all ‘here'.
As a mother, I feel that I had two baby daughters. The first one I planned, carried for 9 months and helped to grow over many years. The second one I found in a hospital bed - as helpless as she had been before birth, I thought for her as I did for my newborn daughter, vigilant for her safety and fearful that she would not survive the night. But this time instead of taking ten months to learn to walk she took ten days, she let go of my guiding hand and ran towards her future whatever that may be. As a mother, I have given my heart and a part of me to my children yet I keep on my body the signs that they were once inside me, my brain is still affected by the hormones of pregnancy and motherhood I forged new neural circuits and integrated the DNA of my babies. Meanwhile, my mind as a mother is out there travelling, wondering, hoping and dreaming that all will be well for those that I love. I am a mother, I will always be a mother, I cannot not be a mother. I am proud of this. My experiences have ensured that I put aside any guilt shame and blame for being a mother. My task in this life is to use all that I have learned to continue to grow. I did and do my best, it is by no means perfect, but I no longer judge myself harshly and neither do I judge others. As a mother, I am accountable to myself in this - not anyone else - not even my children.
Two nights ago in London, three young men in a van set out to take from others that which was not theirs to take. There are many families now who are keeping vigil. I wish them the strength, the courage and the sense of humour to get through, whatever that is and however long the rollercoaster ride may be. Nothing is ever the same for anyone affected by acts of violence.
*I no longer tell this story often, but when I do the first question that is nearly always asked is "Did they get them?" The answer is that the police did an amazing job, but through all their great endeavours only one 17-year-old was brought to trial. He served 2 years of a 4 year prison sentence. His twin daughters will be eleven this year. I wish them well.
Many thanks go to the emergency services and the Metropolitan police. To the NHS in hospitals and the community. To the taxi drivers, jurors, shopkeepers, to friends, family, and passers-by who did and will offer kindness and support in difficult times. We are held together as individuals and communities by everyone who cares. Thank you.
There are times in life that mothers need another mother to walk beside them to support them through the tough times and to hold their motherhood vision with them. If you need this kind of support now then this is the time to call a friend or call me to see how I can help.
This week is infant mental health week.
So the big question is "How do we make sure our babies have the best chance of being emotionally healthy and growing into happy and resilient toddlers, children and adults?"
The answer is "to meet our own emotional needs in a balanced way". We can only give babies something which we have ourselves. If we are eating, drinking, exercising, sleeping, feeling safe, being noticed or listened to, have someone we can totally be ourselves with, feel we have choices or influence over our daily lives, have a sense of achievement, be part of a wider group of people, believe in something bigger than ourselves and have space to think our own thoughts we will thrive.
When we can do this for ourselves we will be able to do this for our children. Our children, in turn, will be able to do it for themselves as they grow.
However - sometimes when you become a parent life changes so dramatically that it is really hard to meet some or all of these needs for yourself but we do need to put ourselves first so that we are able to help our children (Just like putting on an oxygen mask on a plane before you put your child's on).
As the old African saying goes "It takes a village to raise a child" and we all have some responsibility for the well-being of the next generation. As families, friends, neighbours, colleagues, professionals, we can help families with babies to meet their emotional needs, they are part of our community and building happy healthy families helps us all.
If the idea of meeting our (innate) emotional needs is new to you, you might like to see the in8 Cards resource pack Let's all help families in infant mental health week.
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Or get in touch with me to find out more?
Are you concerned about the possibility of infertility? Are you hoping to be pregnant for the first time or have you been pregnant before and it is just not happening this time? Would you like to explore whether hypnosis might help?
Women have been coming to me with stress, anxiety and fears around pregnancy and childbirth for many years. I have helped them to connect their mind and body so that they are both "on the same side" and they have gone on to conceive, and to have a baby of their own.
'Nicola' came to see me in her early forties, she was fit and well but longed to conceive her own child. She was however giving up hope, she had undergone 2 courses of IVF and was planning a third. She and her husband were finding that this hopelessness was impacting on their marriage. Nicola also resented the drugs and interventions that conventional assisted conception offered. Yet working together Nicola started to view everything more positively and Nicola stayed calm and strong as she went on to conceive and deliver a beautiful baby boy.
If you feel that you need ways to cope with your feelings around conception, if you want to unlock some limiting beliefs in a safe environment, if you want to let go of some guilt, shame or sadness, or if you just want to increase your odds of having a baby with the help of both medical intervention and hypnosis then let's have a conversation about how I can help.
If you are curious about how I could help you using hypnotherapy then please do get in touch.
email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
“To be the mother your children need you to be, you first have to be the mother you need you to be!”
It has been a long time since I set up this website and I cannot believe that I haven't been posting regularly here!
This doesn't mean that I haven't been busy, as I really have!
This is what I have been working on...
In February I ran my first 'Facebook programme' guiding 80 women through a Motherhood Metamorphosis. We looked at what Motherhood meant to us all, and looked at how we can meet our children's needs at the same time as we meet our own.
This is what just some people said about the programme:
Hearing the stories of other mothers has been moving and enlightening: in fact, there's something really important going on here...motherhood is a powerful discourse in our society, with lots of punishing expectations and moral judgements attached. (The programme was) A chance to reclaim and really own the concept of motherhood for yourself and therefore break free from guilt and worry! Sanchia
Bindi has a lot of experience as a mother and supporting mothers - it's not about teaching what to do but helping you to be strong within yourself. Thanks for doing this work - motherhood needs to be more valued. - Pia
It has made me stop and think about all the different feelings that we experience as mothers. You are a fabulous mentor and really make people stop and think. Michelle
The outcome of the programme is to run a more in depth programme looking at being a 'Resourceful Mother' This will be starting in September 2016 - It is a 12 week online course. I will of course be posting more details here and on Facebook, but just let me know if you might be interested.
I am also working on a 'webinar' giving a taster of the Resourceful Mother programme - please drop me a line if you would like an invite!
Meanwhile - my private practice helping Mothers (and others) face to face is growing. If you are struggling with any aspect of being a Mum, at whatever age or stage your children are at -- please get in touch and let me know how I can help you.
Welcome to my new website.
You might know me from 'in8' or even 'Wiltshire Human Givens' but here I am now at 'bindigauntlett' I am doing the same work, but I am also offering support to parents.
This is a very busy time of year for most of us, life can be hectic, but it is also a time to reflect on the changes that have happened in the last 12 months. Take some time to remember the good times, and make sure you fit in some more good times for yourself over the next few days. Think about what makes your heart sing? Go for a walk, sing a song, phone a friend, watch a sunset, make yourself a 'perfect cuppa'.... Whatever you choose - just give yourself a little gift, before being generous to others.
We are now very close to the shortest day, I hope you are safe and warm as the winter cold sets in.
If however you find that you are really struggling and would like my help either as a psychotherapist or as a parent guide please email or ring me, (contact details are on the right hand side) and I will let you know how I can help.
Warmest wishes Bindi