I’m Ria Oliver, the owner of The Simple Birth Company and creator of the Mind, Body and Soul Hypnobirthing Programme. I also form one third of the specialist pregnancy service team at The Secret Garden in Hitchin where I work alongside B.A.B.I.E.S and MamaBabyBliss to provide care, support, guidance and information to local expectant parents. I am a hypnobirthing practitioner (Royal College of Midwives accredited training), certified aromatherapy for childbirth consultant (Royal College of Midwives accredited training) and am currently studying towards my nero-linguistic programming for birth workers accreditation.
I specialise in dealing with clients with fears and anxieties about birth and created the Mind, Body and Soul Hypnobirthing Programme to help my clients acknowledge and overcome these fears, by re-framing previous negative experiences or for first time mums identifying where their fears have come from, alleviating anxieties and building confidence and positive birth expectancy.
The reason that I teach hypnobirthing and birth preparation is simple – I’m a mum too and I know the impact birth has when it doesn’t go to plan, and I also know the impact it has when birth does go to plan.
I am a mum to two of my own lovely hypno-birthed babies, Fletcher (3 years) and Finley (20 months) and we live in the rural town of Letchworth, Hertfordshire.
I started my own hypnobirthing journey in 2015 when I fell pregnant with my first child. My husband Michael and I signed up to local hypnobirthing classes which not only enabled us to prepare for and genuinely look forward to the birth of our first child, but to also feel like we were bringing him into this world together, as a team.
I went on to birth my son Fletcher in February 2016 and while we encountered some unexpected and fairly major complications (baby was malpositioned causing lack of descent, heartrate deceleration, episiotomy plus a natural tear, suction cup delivery and postpartum haemorrhage), I still had a really positive birth experience.
I know many people would wince at that birth story but I credit hypnobirthing with enabling me to stay calm and relaxed despite the changes and challenges I faced. So much of my experience was down to the fact that I felt listened to, respected, in control and I had tools and knowledge to fall back on when I needed to make different choices.
I didn’t realise the power hypnobirthing had on my experience until I started to talk to other mums, and even now with some clients that I teach who have similar birth stories to my own, and they are deeply affected by theirs, but that is simply not how I felt about my birth.
As a result, I realised I had found a passion in life and promptly trained to be a hypnobirthing practitioner with a branded hypnobirthing company whilst on my maternity leave so I could teach other women to find their inner confidence and have a more positive mindset about their birth preparation and experiences. I had personally experienced and wanted to impart on to others, that birth wasn't about what physically happens during labour, but about how you think and feel about what happens, and that is where woman's birthing power is held.
However, despite my birth experience being positive, what I later found I did struggle with was some serious mum guilt. I did feel like I had let my son down and hadn’t been able to provide him with the birth he deserved, or that I had wanted for him. It took me a long time to acknowledge those feelings, and while I don’t think I could have made different choices looking back, I worried that maybe his experience hadn’t been as positive as mine.
However, in November 2017, I welcomed my second son Finley into the world in the most beautiful and calm birth I could possibly have imagined. Between my births I re-educated myself about birth physiology and researched what had gone “wrong” in my first birth so that I could take all the steps possible to prevent those things from happening again. I used my hypnobirthing techniques to tune into my body and was able to trust my natural urges to allow my baby to move down gently at his own pace and used a variety of techniques to help with foetal positioning. While my first birth had been a positive experience, I still had to work really hard on not allowing any of the complications we had faced to become fears throughout my pregnancy and change my experience or impact on my second birth preparation or mindset.
Having experienced two very different, yet very positive births, I was then inspired to write my own hypnobirthing programme; The Mind, Body and Soul Hypnobirthing Programme, incorporating all the techniques I had used during my own births with the additional birth related training I had since undertaken. This programme launched in October 2018 and I officially became a completely independent hypnobirthing provider. I am now able to grow and develop my business in line with the needs and aspirations of my client base and delve deeper into their mindset and previous experiences in order to help them prepare positively for birth.
My success rate with my clients is extremely high with 96% of my mums reporting having a positive birth experience, no matter what type of birth they had, 72% of which also only relied on natural forms of pain relief and 78% had straight forward vaginal deliveries.
When I’m not working you will often find me at soft play centres, swimming pools or farms with my two boys or dining out or enjoying a film with my husband. When time allows we also enjoy the odd trip to Peppa Pig World and Centre Parcs for some family experiences. But most of all, if I’m honest, I love to be curled up in my PJ’s on the sofa, under a blanket with a mug of hot tea (sometimes gin and tonic) watching trashy TV! I am a cancer star sign and love the creature comforts of home, spending time alone and enjoying some well-deserved, but very rare, peace and quiet!
Below you can see various photos of me during or after the births of my beautiful boys!