My storyDiscover the who, what, why and how about Eleanor Hayes and Birthzang
MY OWN EXPERIENCE SET ME ON THE PATH TO HELP MUMS LIKE YOU TO AVOID THE KIND OF BIRTH I HAD THE FIRST TIME, AND GET THE KIND OF BIRTH I HAD THE SECOND TIME
Hi, I am Eleanor and I started out my parenting journey by having a textbook-perfect first pregnancy. I did NCT classes (which were nice but not particularly informative), and like so many people these days found a Hypnobirthing class. the whole calm, relaxed and natural birth totally appealed to me (I mean who doesn’t it appeal to?) and I had been doing yoga for years so perfect fit right?
Wrong! Alarm bells should have really rung when in one of the self-hypnosis sessions, I found myself peering through one open eye to see if everyone else had subconsciously lifted up their hand. I am creative and intuitive but I am a practical down-to-earth person at heart, and this self-hypnosis stuff seemed, well, a bit of an unknown quantity.
My fantasy home water birth kick-started on Sat 14 November 2008. The first day was all focused breathing, affirmations and deep relaxation (well, as much as you can with full on contractions)! Day 2 was more intensive but the hypnobirthing went right out of the window. The problem is that it just wasn’t ENOUGH. I didn’t actually KNOW WHAT DO when a contraction happened. I literally was tearing my hair out looking at the 1 sheet of paper with some suggestions of birthing positions from the NCT.
By day 3 I was exhausted, hungry (I couldn’t eat a thing in labour), and completely disillusioned. And still, I was only a few centimetres dilated. On day 4, we transferred to hospital and the drugs came out (so far I had only had a TENS machine – WTAF!!).
Gas & Air, waters broken, pitocin drip, epidural, and some forceps later, my beautiful baby boy was born – 85 hours after my labour had started (count ’em!).
To say it was traumatic was an understatement. My boy was delicious and healthy (apart from looking like he had had 3 rounds with Mike Tyson), but I was a mess – physically and emotionally. I couldn’t even THINK about that birth for months afterward without crying.
Fast forward two years and there I was, up the duff again! This time I knew it had to be different. I had 6 sessions of psychotherapy which really helped me understand why my previous birth had been traumatic. This gave me the knowledge of what I knew I had to avoid second time around.
I was given a copy of ‘New Active Birth” by Janet Balaskas, the active birth pioneer and finally I found the thing I was looking for – a completely PRACTICAL and VARIED toolbox of ways to actually COPE with contractions and not just suffer them. I attend a local active birth class – twice – and went into my second birth with not only a suitcase of tools, methods, strategies, movements, and positions, but also and iron-clad mindset that I WAS GOING TO NAIL THIS FRICKING BIRTH.
And I did. I totally nailed it. I had my waters broken (baby overdue yada yada) but flatly refused (very politely of course) to have a drip. I went in with my head high. I knew EXACTLY what I was going to do. I placed my rubber pilates mat on the floor, got on the ball and I didn’t even LOOK at the bed.
I knew how to breathe. I knew how to move. I knew how to cope with each sensation of labour. I stood my ground when pressured for intervention, and asked for drugs when I need them.
It was primal, and instinctive, and my body knew EXACTLY what to do. And 6 hours later my gorgeous girl was born. It was awesome. No scratch that. It was FUCKING AWESOME.
Yeah, sure it was painful. But it was a life-changing, life-affirming moment for me. I tapped into my inner goddess (the one who failed me in my first labour) and we rocked labour!!!
And the rest is history. During my maternity leave, I searched out Janet Balaskas and trained with her as an Active Birth teacher. I quit my job and set up Birthzang. Over the next 5 years I also trained in Pregnancy Yoga and Postnatal Yoga with Birthlight. I did workshops on Rebozo techniques, dealing with baby loss, NLP for birth and trained with Mark Harris in the 3-step Rewind method to help parents deal with traumatic births.
I created and evolved an incredible training programme for mums and dads that follows these 3 pillars of learning: EDUCATION, PRACTICE and MINDSET. The half-day and whole-day workshops and coaching programmes for couples provide you EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW about labour and birth.
I also follow these pillars in my pregnancy yoga classes, providing a nurturing and friendly class for mums as they prepare for birth and motherhood. Then my mum & baby yoga classes provide a supportive and calm space for mums to do a bit of yoga with the babies kept entertained. Then when you just need a bit of time out, my mums’ relaxed night off restorative yoga class will help you nurture and replenish your energy and spirit.
One of the unexpected delights about Birthzang is the incredible community of mums that grew up with their babies. The regular coffee mornings, life-long friends, and loving online groups have blown my mind. The way that mums can support each other is phenomenal and you are welcome to join that community whether you come to a class or not.
I have been based in Frome, Somerset, since 2018 but Birthzang’s roots are in Reading and so classes are held in both places.
I know that you probably have questions and I am confident you will find TONS of information on this website about what I can do to help you.
If you have any questions, or concerns, want to discuss your specific situation or just want a nice chat and a coffee, please do not hesitate to get in touch. All my contact details are at the very top of the page.
As a veteran of Eleanor's pregnancy yoga, mum and baby yoga, active birth classes and reflexology I can wholeheartedly recommend her to expectant and new parents.
As well as an encyclopedic knowledge of her field she has a genuine passion for helping her clients achieve an awesome birth experience, and she also facilitates her classes in a way that drives genuine support and friendship.Kat
Birthzang is a brilliant course, focusing on active birth principles and the huge benefits of knowing and understanding your choices and options in labour.
Eleanor's course is so informative and useful whether you are planning a home, midwife or hospital birth to help you feel more confident and empowered. It goes into way more detail about the physiology of birth, good positions and equipment to use than the NCT course does. It's also hugely beneficial for the birth partner too.
Eleanor's approach is very down to earth, knowledgable, welcoming and humorous! We really enjoyed the course and really felt that the knowledge and skills she taught played a big part in the fantastic birth experience we had with our baby boy last Summer.
It was a shame I lived too far away to join her pregnancy yoga sessions too!Tina
Throughout my day-to-day life, I find myself using your tips and tools and all sorts of different yoga stuff...it's brill!Olga
Mum & Baby Yoga in Frome
Get a bit of much-need rest and support in this gentle yoga class for mums with your baby (it's OK we keep them entertained). Suitable from birth.
My Book: Helping Birth
In my book, Helping Birth, I discuss all labour pain relief choices and common birth interventions. I use the BRAIN framework to look at the pro's and cons, to help you make the right choices for you and your baby. Includes real-life stories.