Interview by Marija Butkovic @MarijaButkovic
Rosie Goode is one of the UK’s most experienced, effective and supportive hypnotherapists and hypnobirthing teachers, and founder of Hypnobirthing Works. As a member of NHS collaborative networks in London, and being the voice of women (and men), Rosie is passionate about helping women to have a confident and positive birth, and is actively sharing best practices and influencing within the system. Having taught over 2500 couples so far, including friends and family of Prince William and Kate and other high profile clients, she is recommended by midwives and obstetricians throughout London. She writes articles on hypnobirthing and the benefits of a normal birth, and has contributed to TV programmes related to birth.
Rosie, what is the idea behind Hypnobirthing Works and how did you come up with it?
A good birth is not about luck. I believe that every woman can have an amazing birth.
I had been practising as a clinical hypnotherapist for a while, working with clients to reduce/eliminate the impact of anxiety and stress related problems including sleep problems, confidence issues, problems with focus and concentration etc.
I then heard about Marie Mongan, an American hypnotherapist and ante natal teacher, who was working on a programme to help pregnant women and their partners reduce the impact of anxiety and fear on their birth. Having experienced two very different births, I felt drawn back to working with women during this life changing event. I trained with Marie Mongan in 2003/2004.
In his book 'Childbirth Without Fear', Dr Grantly Dick-Read identified the 'Fear-Tension-Pain Cycle' in pregnancy and birth. Birth is to a great extent determined by how fearful/anxious/stressed a woman is before birth. I became angry and frustrated (and still am) at the way in which birth is represented on TV and in the movies. It is always seen as drama and emergency, when the reality for so many women is calm, gentle and amazing!
What happens in the weeks before birth, and HOW a woman/couple prepare for birth and the choices she makes, significantly determine how birth flows and how a mother, baby and partner cope and feel post natally. After all, you wouldn't turn up at an important event or meeting without significant preparation and expect it to be a success? You wouldn't have just turned up at your wedding without planning, and expect it to be wonderful? And if you've taken a spin class/ballet class/run a half marathon/marathon/sung in a choir - anything physically challenging - you would expect to warm up and prepare your muscles to function well. The same is true for birth.
So I created a birth preparation programme, underpinned by birth physiology, the mind-body connection, confidence building techniques and how to have a positive birth in any environment. The programme supports every mother, but particularly supportive of London couples, whether they plan a normal, physiological birth, a gentle CS or require medical support.
When did all start and how long did it take you to be where you are now?
I started practising as a clinical hypnotherapist in 2003 and then developing my hypnobirthing programme from 2004. I've been happily working with groups and privately since that time. I also run workshops/speak on Hypnobirthing, The Power of Language, Womens'/Parents Experience of Mat Services in a variety of contexts: student midwives, midwives/obs, clinical teams, CCGs, throughout London.
What was the biggest obstacle?
The biggest obstacles were and still are (to a lesser extent), that after 50 years of an industrial model of birth, overwhelmingly negative images and stories of birth appear in the media, which support the belief that birth is bound to be an awful experience. TV programme's like 'One Born Every Minute' and social media platforms have also been very damaging. We need to hear a positive message about 10x to outweigh 1x negative message. We need to encourage more women who've had a positive birth to share their stories (Positive Birth Movement).
The 'Hypno' term confuses people who only know of hypnotic stage shows, but hypnosis is just a deep state of relaxation of which we are always in control. Fortunately, over this decade and increasingly, Hypnobirthing is embraced by maternity units in London/UK and Hypnobirthing couples are now essentially part of a special 'club' in which midwives and obstetricians shift their assumptions and respond to these parents differently. A paradigm shift of this nature takes time.
What are your biggest achievements to date?
- Educating and empowering over 2500 pregnant women (and partners) and enabling them to have the best possible birth
- Advocating for and enabling women who fall outside 'guidelines' to have the birth they want (consultant midwives are the key)
- Enabling women to have positive/amazing birth in any circumstance and especially proud to support mothers who've suffered previous trauma
- Educating/training midwives and obstetricians on the power of language/empathy/normality/environment
- Being the voice of women/parents at numerous NHS committees and conferences
What are the projects you're currently working on?
I am Chair of St George’s Maternity Voices Partnership, Board Member SW London Local Maternity System – a collaborative, multidisciplinary strategic network, including Heads of Midwifery and Obstetricians; NICE Action Group for Midwife Led Units; Advisory Board Member of Midwifery Unit Network and currently on the Steering Group of Induction of Labour methods clinical research study.
Most excitingly, I'm working on creating Hypnobirthing Works based wearable app, to enable pregnant women globally (and babies/partners) to access and benefit from highly effective programme for a positive/empowered pregnancy, birth and post natal experience. It will be like the 'Headspace' of Hypnobirthing.
A subscription based (12-42 weeks of pregnancy) core programme/club will include:
- Evidence based info/updates and birth planning
- Anxiety/stress release relaxation tracks
- Confidence building/Bonding with your baby relaxation tracks and techniques
- Film and Q&A webinars with experts - Midwives/OB/anaesthetists/Maternal Health Researchers/IBCLC Unicef Baby Friendly Feeding
- Additions to support mothers planning CS (global), normal breech (UK+), etc.
- Evidence based post natal support programme of reliable information and relaxation/support
What are the challenges of being an entrepreneur in the niche you are in? How about being a female founder / entrepreneur?
It's mainly a marketing challenge - resistance to the idea that birth can be positive. Birth is very emotive. The media loves to create drama, encourages polarisation of opinion and in so doing, causes a lot of damage. Discussing birth is delicate, and I totally understand, that women who have had a difficult birth (I was one of those women) have been let down by an 'industrial' birth system, and may well be resistant to an alternative narrative. Sadly, sharing difficult/traumatic birth stories will only increase anxiety and fear in other women. The more positive stories shared, the more optimism and openness to the possibility that birth can be wonderful. Along with campaigning in the system to continue to push for and support a kinder, woman centred approach.
Female tech founders, typically have found it more challenging to obtain funding, so it's going to be essential to minimise resistance, and funding plans to appeal to future/fathers, as well as female fund providers.
I joined Hatch Female Founders programme to receive more support on a personal level through coaching and mentoring, and in order to access fabulous networks (like this one!) to support me on my journey into tech.
Do you think there is enough support for pregnant women and young mothers? Where do you think are the gaps, if any?
The short answer is "no". The NHS is working (with reduced funds) to restore, what evidence overwhelmingly proves, worked well previously: continuity of carer (a midwife you know and trust throughout your pregnancy/birth/post natal experience); promotion of real choice, which may be a breech birth at home or a gentle CSection, and promotion of the safest births for women and babies - which are often home births and birth centre births.
Factual information is seriously lacking (and something that me and my colleagues are pushing for and working on continually), to enable women to make confident decisions for themselves.
Putting women in control of their experience reduces physical and mental health problems (for all parents) and empowers new mothers to make good decisions and to trust themselves.
In your opinion, how can we effectively blend technology with our everyday lives, so it actually enhances our lives, not alienating us or even becoming a burden?
As mammals and human beings, the thing we most need to keep well and healthy is physical touch (Harlow/Bowlby - attachment theory). Touch and love produce hormone oxytocin - read 'The Oxytocin Factor - Tapping the hormone of calm, love & healing' [and birth].
And in a world that is so full of loud opinion, when we learn to trust our instincts and intuition, we are empowered. If tech distances us from human contact then it's causing harm. If it becomes addictive (as social media has: a dopamine hit every time), it causes additional harm. It's proven that too much screen time is over stimulating (affecting sleep) and for children particularly negatively impactful.
But, when we use tech as a tool (and limit the time attached to screens) it can enhance our lives in amazing ways. Providing information that enables us to become expert on our own body and to trust ourselves, puts us in control of our health, wellbeing and our lives.
Is #WomenInTech movement important to you and if yes, why?
Women together can achieve great things. Role models are important.
I see tech being used to empower women and give them (back) control over their lives, and within systems that claim to be 'evidence based' but are so often not.
The better the quality of information we have about ourselves, the better able we are to trust ourselves, the more powerful and effective we are. 'You Are the Expert on You' .
What is the most important piece of advice you can give to all female founders and female entrepreneurs out there?
Find something you're really passionate about. That will sustain you through every challenge. Surround yourself with people who believe in you (networks/coaches). Make de-stressing a priority (dancing, running, sex, singing, breathe/hypnotherapy) and you will sleep well. Good enough sleep is essential!
What will be the key trends in the health tech industry in the next 5 years and where do you see it heading?
I see health tech being really key. I'm already seeing it being used in NHS (in a small way) and outside the NHS increasingly.
Who are your inspirational women in STEM, especially in world of technology?
Tania Boler, CEO of Elvie - Tania has created something incredibly important. I taught post natal exercise classes for several years and know from experience how important a supple/strong pelvic floor is! Who wants to spend years wearing Tena lady pants? Especially when 'bladder weakness' (stress incontinence) is mostly avoidable.... and who doesn't want more and better orgasms!
Elina Berglund, co-founder of Natural Cycles - I'm a fan of Elina for creating tech that can reliably predict ovulation. Learning more about ourselves and our bodies; what is normal for us and therefore, what is abnormal, puts us in control of our health and wellbeing. Knowing when we are likely to conceive is powerful knowledge for women wanting to avoid becoming pregnant, and women hoping to conceive.
Read our blog on the FemTech event here!
This interview was conducted by Marija Butkovic, Digital Marketing and PR strategist, founder and CEO of Women of Wearables and Kisha Smart Umbrella. She regularly writes and speaks on topics of wearable tech, fashion tech, IoT, entrepreneurship and diversity. Visit marijabutkovic.co.uk or follow Marija on Twitter @MarijaButkovic @Women_Wearables @GetKisha.