Claire Mac

A Leeds based lifestyle blog written by Claire Chircop.

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Sunday, 20 January 2019

Did hypnobirthing work for me?

It wasn't long after finding out I was pregnant that I'd decided I wanted to try hypnobirthing when it came to delivering our baby. I wanted to keep my birth plan as natural as possible & for me hypnobirthing felt like the best option... But did it work for me?
What is hypnobirthing?

Hypnobirthing is a method of pain management used throughout labour and birth which involves a mixture of visualisation, relaxation, meditation and deep breathing techniques.

Visualisation includes both picturing how you want the birth of your baby to play out as well as taking yourself away to a 'happy place' and imagining a peaceful and calm setting. Relaxation and meditation techniques are also used to stay in tune with your body, concentrate on the task in hand and eliminate any extra noise or distractions around you. Controlled breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth helps to stay calm and reduce stress through labour, it also gives you something to concentrate on and distract yourself from the discomfort of labour. Hypnobirthing encourages you to get into a confident mindset with positive affirmations such as 'I trust my body' or 'each surge brings my baby closer to me'... Basically whatever works for you to go into birth confidently and positively. 

Scientifically these techniques help manage adrenaline which is the stress hormone our bodies naturally produce when it's put in a 'fight or flight' type situation. We want to reduce the amount of adrenaline in our bodies as it works against Oxytocin, otherwise known as the happy chemical we produce during labour which helps progress the entire child birthing process.

Managing this stress both before and during child birth is said to reduce the fear & sometimes even the pain associated with labour.

Misconceptions of hypnobirthing.

There's limited research into hypnobirthing and from what's been discovered it only seems to work for half the women who practice it. With this and hypnobirthing only being a relatively new concept, it means the process carries with it a lot of misconceptions.

The vast majority of opinions are that the birthing process is 'hyped up', Storm believes 'people are under the illusion that if you just breathe, it won't hurt' which to be honest, I totally understand! Fortunately for me I didn't go into childbirth naively, I knew it was going to hurt like hell & that it'd be the hardest thing I'd ever done - Which it totally was btw! This however didn't stop me using hypnobirthing techniques during labour. The thing about hypnobirthing is that you don't have to follow it by the book, you can take elements from it & use them however you like to create a perfect birthing experience, which is exactly what Kirsty did, she didn't use all of the birthing techniques 'other than reminding herself of several positive affirmations.' There are no rules... Basically whatever works for you to go into birth confidently and positively.

Before baby was born we went to an antenatal class at the hospital where the midwife's opinion on hypnobirthing was that it's a 'hippy an new wave' technique. She advised at the time that it's not for everyone & that it came with a lot of misconceptions and even though she started the conversation in a negative manner she actually finished the conversation in a well rounded, educated way.

Thankfully I hadn't been subject to too many negative opinions when it came to my birthing choice, to be honest the vast majority of people I'd spoken to hadn't even heard of hypnobirthing. It was nice actually to educate other people on the techniques, give others another view on childbirth & open up a new discussion.
Did hypnobirthing work for me?

So the question you've all been waiting for... Did this hippy, new wave birthing technique work for me?... I'd actually say yes!

Before going into labour I'd practiced visualisation along with the breathing techniques and I could definitely see how it would work during childbirth, however when it came to it for me I really struggled with the visualisation side of things. Understandably there was too much going on at the time for my brain to take me away to my 'happy place'. The breathing techniques worked wonders, however I couldn't not concentrate on the fact a baby was coming out of my vagina. Focusing on my breathing was the only thing that got me through giving birth... That and gas & air!

For me hypnobirthing worked more before the birth, don't get me wrong focusing on my breathing throughout labour worked amazingly well, I just think getting myself into the right mindset before the big day was brilliant. I went into it using positive affirmations, knowing that my body could do it.... I trusted my body & what it was capable of.

I'd like to think I'm pretty chilled & laid back, so a lot of the hypnobirthing techniques came pretty naturally to me. I had & still do have a 'what will be, will be' attitude towards childbirth which to be honest I think is the only way hypnobirthing works. Even though I went into labour with a very positive mindset, I knew that if something was going to go wrong, or if something didn't follow 'my plan' then it'd be okay in the end... I was going to meet our baby & in the grand scheme of things that's all that matters.

Have you heard of hypnobirthing before? Do you think it would, or did it work for you?

Claire. X

Have you read anything from my pregnancy series?
My labour story.
Things I'm looking forward to post pregnancy.
My newfound appreciation for pregnant women & what I've learnt along the way.

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Friday, 11 January 2019

My Labour Story - Welcome To The World Amelia May Chircop.

*Trigger Warning - Graphic childbirth content*

My labour story starts off bright and early at 3am Saturday 22nd December 2018, and lasted a grand total of 22 hours before we welcomed our little girl into the world. But for today's tale I'm going to be taking things a little further back to Monday 17th December 2018... My little one's due date.
I remember feeling quite anxious on the run up to baby's due date. Dan & I were both fully aware baby could arrive safely anytime between 37-42 weeks however for me particularly I found having the specific date at the back of my mind to be quite pressuring. I was counting down the days to the due date expecting to feel different and expecting my body to give me a sign, but nothing showed. I was googling every single little symptom and seeing if that correlated with going into labour... Which of course it did. Everything relates to going into labour according to Doctor Google. 

It was frustrating - But something I had no control over.

I'd booked in to see my midwife on the due date, Monday 17th December with the hope to have a membrane sweep to try and get things moving. So there I was Monday morning, legs flopped, vagina out for the world to see & I had what I can only describe as an aggressive fingering. Unfortunately said fingering was more of an internal examination rather than a membrane sweep, as my cervix hadn't even began to open. I remember feeling so disappointed at the time - Disappointed that my body wasn't quite ready to push this baby out of me.

Again... It was frustrating - But something I had no control over.

Four of what I can only describe as the longest days of our lives had passed and baby was still showing no signs of budging, and at this point we were fully anticipating the arrival of a Christmas day baby - Something we didn't particularly want, but something we'd grown to accept.

That was until 3am the next day!
I woke with cramping pains in my stomach, believed it to be the beginning of contractions and then instantly convinced myself it was nothing. I felt like I'd been waiting for such a long time for contractions to show, that I didn't want to get too ahead of myself and be left disappointed if it was just a case of a jippy tummy. Thankfully three hours later of on and off pains and after continuous googling of what contractions are supposed to feel like, I'd decided to wake Dan with the words 'I think it's happening!'

At this point I was getting contractions every ten minutes or so, but they weren't painful - It was more of an ache. In fact Dan found it bizarre that as I'd be having one I'd just be getting on with my normal day to day life, my facial expressions wouldn't change & I could easily talk through them... At this point, this whole labour thing was a breeze!

It wasn't until around 3pm, so 12 hours later that these 'easy contractions' started to feel more painful and come more regularly. I could still talk through them which meant they weren't currently as bad as what they were going to become, but they certainly knocked me for six. Each contraction left me frozen, but from practicing hypnobirthing I was getting through them purely through concentrating on breathing and getting into my own happy head space.

We'd previously called the hospital to let them know what was happening, but decided to drive in to LGI around 4pm. Here I had another internal examination where I was told I'd dilated to 2cm and we had the option to either come home and rest or have a wander around the hospital for a few hours to see how I progressed. We'd decided to come home, I popped myself in the bath and waited it out for another couple of hours until Dan said he couldn't bear seeing me in that much pain anymore and that he was taking me back to the hospital. I remember at the time thinking we'd be wasting the hosiptal's time but in hindsight it was the best thing we could have done.

Another internal examination later and I'd progressed to 4cm which in the space of a couple of hours I was told was pretty speedy. Yay cervix! And at this point we were taken through to the delivery suite where shit got real!
We were welcomed by the midwife who'd be delivering our baby and were instantly offered tea, biscuits and sandwiches - It was almost as if we were entering a B&B!.. Albeit a clinical, white wash walled B&B.

A couple of hours had passed and the pains were ramping up  at this point, contractions were coming every couple of minutes and lasting for a minute if not more at a time, but they were still what I'd describe as bearable. I'd had no pain relief at this point yet but could definitely see that I'd be asking for some pretty sharpish. I'd always wanted to try and deliver my baby as naturally as possible, however was very much aware that if I needed pain relief or medical intervention, I needed to do what was best for both baby and for myself.
My first dose of pain relief came in the form of gas & air - The midwife had needed to pop my waters, which I can only describe as feeling like I'd peed my pants, but this release of pressure now came with an intense wave of pain whenever I'd have a contraction. The midwife explained that this was because baby had nothing to bounce off & the pain I was feeling was little baby bones moving down the birth canal hitting my pelvis. Ouch! I'd needed to have my waters broken so they could attach an electronic fetal heart rate monitor to baby's head. Her heart rate was a little all over the place at one point and the midwives were unsure if it was just down to her being an active and wriggly baby or if it was something more serious. Thankfully our precious one is a little wriggler!

I'd heard a lot of things about gas & air, mainly from people saying it had made them feel quite sick or woozy, but I can honestly say I don't think it had that much of an effect on me - If anything I was using it as a distraction. Essentially it was something else for me to concentrate on rather than an 8lb baby making it's way out of my vagina. Eeek!

Before going into labour I'd always thought as soon as I got to 10cm dilated, I'd have some sort of indication from the midwife and then I'd be told to push... But this didn't happen for me. Something inside me just told me to start pushing. I'm not sure if I was at 10cm or not, but from the way my body was contracting, I knew it was time! It's really amazing what the human body can do. I've never experienced child birth before, but somehow my body just knew what to do... Even if my mind didn't.

At this point it'd just gone midnight & I'd already been in labour for 21 hours, but I knew the end was in sight - The midwife had said our baby would be with us in the next hour and it was this feeling that made my whole mindset switch. Something in my brain took over, eliminated the pain & I turned into some kind of wonder woman. My head was one million percent in the game & I knew I had to just crack on with the task in hand... Because soon We'd be meeting our little girl.

This feeling was like nothing I'd ever experienced before, however if you can imagine what it's like to pass a baby through the birth canal and out of the vagina, then it's exactly that feeling! It's painful yes, but it's an amazing experience to feel like you're actually getting somewhere rather than just having contractions every couple of minutes. The end was in sight!
A short while passed and as promised our little girl made an appearance at 1.35am on Sunday 23rd December. After 41 long weeks our baby was finally here & our lives would never be the same again!

My labour story is extremely positive, in fact shortly after delivering Amelia I remember the whoosh of emotions, one of which was 'I could do that again!'... Granted maybe not anytime soon, but the whole experience made me feel like a force to be reckoned with & if I could do this, I could do anything!

If you've got this far, thank you! You're 1400 words in & deserve some kind of medal!

Claire.X

Have you read my previous pregnancy posts?
Lifestyle | The third trimester.
Lifestyle | The second trimester.
Lifestyle | The first trimester.
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Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Beauty | The Look Fantastic Advent Calendar. Week 4 First Impressions & Final Thoughts.

If you've read my last few Look Fantastic posts you'll know I'm giving weekly first impressions of what I open behind each door in their 2018 Advent Calendar. And even though today's post is no different, I'm going to be finishing off with my final thoughts of the Look Fantastic Advent Calendar.

Do I think it's worth it?.. Would I buy it again? Let's have a look shall we...
Day 22. Look Fantastic Fan & Highlight Brush.
I own quite a few makeup brushes in my collection, however something I don't have is a fan brush so this will make a much welcome addition! The brush is double ended, with one side being quite dense and cone shaped & the other being a softer, fan shaped brush. I currently use a cream highlighter so can imagine the denser brush to be more useful for this whereas the latter would be better for powder highlights. I'm going to start testing this bad boy out straight away & can't wait to try it with a powder highlight.
RRP: £10.00

Day 23. Aromatherapy De-Stress Muscle Bath & Shower Oil.
Aromatherapy bath & shower oils have probably been my biggest revelation over the last few months. I've fallen absolutely in love with them & have often spoken about how luxurious they make my bath time routines. I'm definitely more of a bath, than a shower person and I can't wait to start splashing a few drops in my tub. I know I'm going to love this because I haven't met an Aromatherapy product I haven't liked yet !
RRP: £11.00 for 9ml
Day 24. Erno Laszlo Multi-Task Eye Serum Mask.
I've been looking for something like this for such a long time! A little while ago I was recommended a similar product from Soap & Glory however whenever I've remembered to actually look for it, I could never find it in stock, which is a bit of a bummer. It's safe to say my eyes lit up when I saw this little goodie! It couldn't have come at a better time. 
RRP: £10.00

Day 25. Illamasqua Beyond Powder Highlight - Deity
Firstly can I just say how glad I am, I've actually got a day 25 - I've always found it super lame when calendars only go up to 24, whether they be beauty calendars or good old regular chocolate ones. When I opened present number 25 however I was even more grateful - It's a mother-flipping Illamasqua highlighter and it's mother-flipping gorgeous! I would never in a million years have bought this for myself, so opening it up was a complete treat. I've never purchased anything from Illamasqua before purely down to the pricing of their products. I'm sure they're gorgeous & I can't wait to try this one, however I can't justify spending £34.00 on a highlight for myself - I'm much more of a drugstore type of gal.
RRP: £34.00

So now for the big question... Do I think the Look Fantastic Advent Calendar is actually worth it?
Essentially what I wanted the advent calendar for was to try new products from brands I wouldn't necessarily have bought for myself and if you've read all four installments of this mini-series you'll understand that's exactly what I've achieved. I'm a drugstore gal through and through & I'd probably say a good 75% of the products in this calendar are from brands I'd never have tried purely down to their pricing. It's going to be amazing to treat myself & try a little more luxury.

There are a few standout products I'd like to mention, two of which funnily were behind the first & final doors. The HD Brows X Look Fantastic Contour & Colour Pro Palette was a great one to start with and definitely got me interested into the beauty advent calendar world from the beginning, and then the Illamasqua Beyond Powder Highlight to finish is equally as amazing & I absolutely can't wait to start using it! A few other goodies in between which stand out for me are the Glam Glow Firming Treatment Mask behind door number four, the Lipstick Queen Frog Prince Lipstick behind door fourteen and the Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum from door seventeen.
Let's finish by talking numbers... I was lucky that I when I bought the calendar Look Fantastic had a special offer on so I only actually paid £63.20 for 25 days worth of products. Pretty good right?... I'd like to think so! You'll have noticed when I've been writing down my first impressions that I've also noted down the RRP for each product. The total RRP comes in at £312.37 which is almost 5 times the amount I paid - And if you ask me a complete bargain!

So in a nutshell, yes I think the Look Fantastic Advent Calendar is totally worth it!

Have you ordered from Look Fantastic before? What are your favourite products?

Claire.X

Have you read my previous posts?

Beauty | The Look Fantastic advent calendar. Week 3 first impressions.
Beauty | The Look Fantastic advent calendar. Week 2 first impressions.
Lifestyle | My newfound appreciaton for pregnant women & what I've learnt along the way.
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Sunday, 23 December 2018

Lifestyle | Things I'm looking forward to post pregnancy.

Obviously having my baby & becoming a family is the upmost thing I'm looking forward to post pregnancy, however there are lots of little things, daft things you could say that I'm looking forward to once baby's here.
Being able to lie on my stomach.
Granted, this may not be happening for a little while as my postpartum body may not be totally up to it, but I absolutely can't wait to be able to lie on my stomach. I realise this sounds ridiculous, but I've really missed being able to flump around in bed on my tummy reading a good book - I really did take that shit for granted before!

Being able to eat steak exactly how I like it cooked.
While pregnant it's recommended that everything you eat should be thoroughly cooked, which makes total sense, however something I've really missed is medium rare steaks! Oh my goodness - I can't wait to have a medium rare steak after the baby's born. We went out for a meal a few months ago & I made the mistake of ordering a steak, but asking for it to be cooked well done... And it just wasn't the same!

Not groaning every time I move.
So this is a big one not only for me, but for my husband too! During pregnancy any form of physical movement, whether it's getting out of bed or getting comfortable on the sofa, it came with it's own sound effects. Every little moan or groan would put my husband on edge thinking the baby was coming, unfortunately for us both it was just me and my seemingly incapable body crying out for help.
All of the Gin!
Need I say anymore! Haha. I was never a big drinker before I got pregnant, however I've found that knowing I'm not allowed something only makes me want it even more. Anyone else with me? And for the last few months that's been gin! I'm planning on breast feeding so I can't be drinking all of the gin, but I'm definitely going to be enjoying small tipple once baby's here, and I find a spare few moments to myself.

Walking like a lady.
I'd say for the last month and a half my walk turned into more of a waddle. If you've ever played The Sims & seen how the pregnant women walk on there, that's me! Baby was fully engaged from around 36 weeks which as I'm sure you can imagine wasn't at all comfortable. And yes, having a head swinging between your pelvis 24/7 for 5-6 weeks (I've been blessed with a late baby) is exactly how you'd imagine it to feel.

Wearing nice shoes.
My tootsies had swollen quite a bit during pregnancy and I found I was wearing my knock off Ugg boots on a daily basis - I suppose it's a good job it was Winter really & I could half get away with wearing ugly yet very very comfortable shoes. I spoke earlier about how I'm wanting to create a capsule wardrobe once my postpartum body has settled down, and part of that is going to be investing in a pair of gorgeous low heeled black boots. Feel free to hit me up with any recommendations.

I really do want to reiterate that having my baby outside of my body & becoming our own little family is what I'm really looking forward to. I just wanted to make light of the situation that I'm currently overdue & dreaming of all the daft things I've missed during pregnancy.

Claire.X

Have you read my previous posts?
Beauty | The Look Fantastic advent calendar. Week 3 first impressions.
Beauty | The Look Fantastic advent calendar. Week 2 first impressions.
Lifestyle | My newfound appreciation for pregnant women & what I've learnt along the way.

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Friday, 21 December 2018

Beauty | The Look Fantastic advent calendar. Week 3. First impressions.

If you read my previous Look Fantastic Advent Calendar post you'll know I'm giving out weekly reviews and first impressions of what's hidden behind each door. I was rather unimpressed by what I opened during week twolet's hope that week three is going to be slightly merrier!
Day 15. Sleek Eye Shadow Palette - A New Day.
One thing I never buy for myself is eye shadow palettes, reason being is that it's always the part of my makeup routine I forget. Unless I've properly thought about a specific makeup look I want to achieve, then chances are I'm not wearing eye shadow. That being said, if I was to wear an eye shadow, it'd probably be something neutral and warm toned like the shades in this palette. I won't be making use of the eye shadow brush which comes with the palette, because let's be frank... They're always crap aren't they? But the shadows will definitely be going for a test drive on my peepers. Being a drug store brand I'm not sure how long they'll last & what the pigmentation is going to be like, but I'm certainly looking forward to giving these a go.
RRP: £8.99

Day 16. Doucce Fierce & Fine Graphic Pen.
Doucce is another brand I'd never heard of... And one I probably wont be trying to pronounce out loud. Like with eye shadow, eye liner isn't something I usually wear. In fact, I don't think i currently own a liner, so it'll be nice adding this to my collection. I used to wear eyeliner every day back in my younger years and would like to think I still have the knack when it comes to creating that perfect, symmetrical eye look. Watch this space! What I particularly like about this liner is that the pen looks mega precise, it has quite a thin nib which looks like it'd be easy to control and give me super fleeky flicks.
RRP: £16.00
Day 17. Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum.
Yet again, another brand I've not tired before... I'm starting to think I've lived under a rock for the last five years. Caudalie however, is a brand I've most definitely heard of, and one I've been desperate to try since they came onto my radar a few years ago. I always find when discovering new brands that I never really know where to start, so not having the choice & receiving the Vinoperfect radiance serum behind door number 17 is probably a good thing for indecisive old me! I've got high hopes for this one & can't wait to start introducing this to my evening skincare routine.
RRP: £15.33 for 10ml

Day 18. First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream.
Guess what... Another brand I've not heard of before! I'm loving this advent calendar so far for that exact reason. I mentioned in week 2's first impressions that I've been really into moisturising recently, especially throughout the third trimester and this one will definitely get added to the pile and made full use out of. This one looks a little more intense than the Rituals Sakura Body Cream received last week, so this may be better for hands, feet & elbows... You know those super attractive body parts. I'm looking forward to applying this one!
RRP: £10.00
Day 19. ESPA Overnight Hydration Therapy.
Guess what... Another brand I've not heard of before! I know I joked about it before... But I'm pretty certain now that I definitely have been living under a rock for the last five years. To me this sounds a little like the Drops of Youth Bouncy Sleeping Mask from The Body Shop - A product I absolutely adored using and one I could feel working straight away. I've altered my skincare routine over Winter as my face gets especially dry in the cold weather, and I think this product will fit in with that perfectly!
RRP: £10.09 for 10ml

Day 20. This Works Relax & Breathe Stress Check.
Guess what... A brand I've heard of! Finally! Hallelujah. I've always wanted to try something from This Works, and have had my eye predominantly on the deep sleep pillow spray as I've heard every blogger and their grandma's talking about it. I'm going to be using this after baby arrives as I predict it's going to come in very useful!
RRP: £10.00 for 5ml
Day 21. Mane And Tail Shampoo & Conditioner.
Now I knew this one was coming, although I was dubious as to whether Look Fantastic would split the two products up or not. Being cynical I thought they'd spread the shampoo & condition over two days, so was pleasantly surprised when I opened the two of these together... Because after all, that means an extra present for Claire doesn't it! I've been using the Mane And Tail Hoofmaker Hand & Nail Treatment for a few months now & have been really impressed with the intensity of the product, so I'm hoping these two hair goodies are going to pack the same punch.
RRP: £5.98 for 60ml

After last weeks less than impressive selection I'm made up with the goodies I've opened this week. What I was after ideally when looking at different beauty advent calendars was to use products from brands I've not tried before and that's definitely what I've received this week. I actually can't decide which product I'm most excited about trying. 

I'm hoping once I've opened all 25 days & had a proper chance to use everything to put a blog post together of what I've loved & equally what'd not floated my boat so much. Is this something you'd be interested in seeing?

Have you got an alternative (non chocolate) advent calendar this year?

Claire.X


Have you read my previous posts?
Beauty | The Look Fantastic advent calendar. Week 2. First Impressions
Lifestyle | My newfound appreciation for pregnant women & what I've learnt along the way.
Beauty | The Look Fantastic advent calendar. Week 1. First Impressions

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