Maggie Howell is one of the UKs leading campaigners to help fight the culture of fear surrounding birth. She is an experienced, articulate broadcaster and media spokesperson available for interview and expert opinion.
The founder of Natal Hypnotherapy™, Maggie’s work has helped over 100,000 women to have a better birth.
Maggie didn’t set out to be a birth campaigner– in fact, she’s an unlikely convert. She was a busy international sales executive who only reluctantly attended a hypnotherapy course to help her with her first birth. But she was blown away by the mind’s ability to control the body’s response to pain and 3 months later, she had a peaceful, manageable birth at home without so much as a paracetemol – to the surprise of her and her midwife! "When Maggie first mentioned that she was going to use self-hypnosis for her first labour, I was sceptical as to whether she would be able to achieve this. During her labour I was happy to be proved wrong. Her ability to remain relaxed, totally in control, yet fully communicative throughout the experience was impressive." Judy Aitkin, NHS midwife
It was the turning point in her life. Inspired by her experiences, she trained to become a clinical hypnotherapist and left her job to pursue her new life goal: to teach other women the simple techniques which help them have a positive birth.
The result was Natal Hypnotherapy™, now the UK’s leading provider of hypnosis for childbirth. The philosophy is simple: to help women have a better birth. Maggie’s work is revolutionising women’s birth experiences by teaching them to overcome fear and work with their bodies during birth.
Maggie says: “In our society, fear has become the overriding emotion pregnant women feel about childbirth – something fuelled by TV depictions and horror stories other mums love to tell. We have not been brought up to see birth as a positive thing, so we’ve lost confidence in our own ability to give birth naturally and so go into it fearful and anxious – feelings which cause much of the pain and complications in birth.”
The facts speak for themselves: Natal Hypnotherapy™ users have an average caesarean rate up to half the national average and are recommended by 97% of users. Medical research has repeatedly found that hypnosis reduces surgical intervention, use of pain medication, mum’s pain perception, and labour times.
Maggie says: “This could revolutionise the way women give birth. If we could give every pregnant woman in the UK a Natal Hypnotherapy™ CD to listen to we could save the NHS a fortune and change birthing culture!”
It may not be on prescription yet, but Maggie’s work is already changing the birthing world. Thanks to Maggie, effective birth preparation is no longer only available for those with the luxury of money and time. Her range of self-hypnosis CDs for pregnancy and birth are accessible for everyone, and designed to fit into a hectic life. From terrified teenage mums to women planning their sixth home birth, the techniques have helped women from all walks of life have a more positive birth.
To date, Maggie has trained over 500 midwives and has a network of Natal Hypnothearpy practitioners who teach the techniques in comprehensive courses all over the country. She regularly appears as a birth expert acorss the media, and has used the techniques for the births of each of her four sons! She gave birth to her 5th child in January 2010.
Maggie in the Media
• TV – This Morning, London Tonight and The Baby Channel
• Radio – BBC Radio 2, Woman’s Hour, BBC London, BBC 5 live, BBC Solent, County Sound, Radio Leeds, Radio Belfast, Radio Dublin
• National newspapers – The Guardian, Daily Mail, Daily Express, Daily Mirror, Daily Telegraph, Sunday Express
• Articles/comments written for – Prima Baby, Pregnancy & birth, Mother & Baby, I’m Pregnant, NCT New Generation, Flying Start, ABC, Eve Magazine, Doula UK Newsletter, Red, Womans own, That’s life
• Speaking appearances – First wolrd congress on obstetrics, gyneacology and andrology, one life exhibition at Earls court, The Tooting birth cente, Birth Professional Training at Royal Surrey Hospital, Hull Regional Midwives Conference, Association of Radical Midwives conference, Lichfield Birth centre, Hastings NHS, National Childminding Association Conference, Parent Craft workshops at Basingstoke Hospital, attachment parenting groups and home birth groups
"My story began when I was pregnant with my first son. I was in a high flying sales career travelling all over the world at the drop of a hat and so had never thought much about birth. I have always been very “main stream” and have never been remotely alternative so when my husband suggested I look into the use of Self Hypnosis to help with the birth, I was very skeptical and not sure it would work. However after attending a 2 day course and learning the skills I went on to use them for the birth of my son – even with the skepticism, I was very pleasantly surprised! I had a wonderful birth - long but very calm and manageable. My midwife was amazed at how calm and quiet I was and subsequently asked me to come and talk to antenatal groups about what I had done.
As everyone else I met seemed to have had a horrendous birth I wanted to understand what it was that I had done differently, I decided to retrain as a clinical hypnotherapist. After a year I began running informal relaxation hypnosis sessions at the antenatal classes. At one of the sessions a woman asked if there was a tape or Cd with the relaxation on it as she wanted to do it at home. I had a look on the internet but could not find anything. After being asked another 3 times I decided to record what I had done for myself and bring it in for the women - the first time I did that, all the women wanted one!
I realized that there was a definite need in the market so I set up my first website in 2003 and sold 5 in my first month. As I started to get positive feedback from women who had used the CD I realised what an amazing difference this could make and that this was something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life.Since then my husband has joined me and we have gone on to create “Natal Hypnotherapy”, with a range of 11 self hypnosis CDs, courses for couples and midwives and am working on my first 2 books.
We have sold the CDs in over 50 countries, have the full range translated into French, have helped over 25,000 women and have 35 licenced practitioners around the Uk running our courses. During this time I have gone on to have 3 more children and have been aable to combine my new career with bringing up my family. In many ways I do not feel as if I am working – I am doing what I love – very different from my old career in sales! I love being mentally active, I love thinking about ways to increase sales, I love thinking of ways to convince midwives to recommend us. I love getting all the feedback on positive birth stories.So giving birth using hypnosis has truly changed my life – and I love it!"
• Qualified Clinical Hypnotherapist d.Hyp, c.Hyp, LHA, UKHypReg (specialising in natal hypnotherapy)
• Experienced Doula (trained birth partner)
• Mother of 5 home birthed sons
• Founder of Natal Hypnotherapy
Areas of expertise:
• Birth – preparation, labour and post-natal
• Breastfeeding and Co-sleeping
• Baby sign language and communication skills
• Attachment and Instinctive Parenting
• Communication with children