Knocked Up Abroad

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Lisa Ferland Interview

Lisa Ferland is the editor and publisher of the Knocked Up Abroad Series, and she helps other woman tell their stories by self-publishing and crowd funding their books on platforms like Kick starter and Indiegogo. In this episode she shares her 2 vastly different birth stories (first baby born in hospital in USA and 2nd baby born (accidentally) at home in Sweden) and goes on to share how this prompted the Knocked Up Abroad series. Lisa is a change maker, a thought leader and a fellow expat. I met her earlier this year at the Families in Global Transition conference in Den Hague, Netherlands after years of communication through our shared interest of birth abroad and supporting women. You can follow her on Facebook or connect with her on LinkedIn

Lisa:

Yes Yes sure, so my first birth was in the US, it was in my home country so I felt very comfortable, I was knowledgeable of the system, health care, you know I did research and which midwifery practice I wanted to go with, all the midwifes there were very supportive, so my birth was a very, whatever you want you can have type situation. I didn’t do much research after that after selecting my midwifery practice, I want an epidural and that’s what I want, and they were very supportive of it, so that’s what I had.  The entire birth was only 10 hours in length so it went very fast especially for a first time mother. But I stayed home for most of it then I went into the hospital, I was very tired, it was 2am in the morning, and I had an epidural after a few hours, took a quick nap then woke up ready to push. They were like its time, so they told me it was ready to go, so I pushed for 15 minutes and I had my son, it was very beautiful experience, very controlled, very hospital driven, but never once did I feel pressured to do any intervention or anything like that, probably because everything was going fine.

Then my second birth was in Sweden, and because I wasn’t familiar at all with the system or how things were going to work, or the language or anything like that. I did way more research than I did for my first birth, I had heard rumours and stories from other expat mothers about midwifes not giving epidurals and them waiting or dragging their feet to find the anaesthesiologist and things like that , ok so an epidural might not be possible and especially since my first birth was so fast I could expect a fast second birth, so I said what can I do, I did a lot of research and read a bunch of books and I did the hypno-babies self-hypnosis which is a series of MP3 tracks and a work book and so I start practicing hypnosis and meditation and listening to affirmations and all of that starting at week 14, so I felt very prepared and like ready to do it, empowered, I was positive that I would do a great job, and I felt more in control because I was so out of control in the Swedish system, I didn’t feel like I had any control within the foreign system, so I was like I can control my body, I can control my breathing, I can control my attitude towards this, those things I can control so let me work on that. So I landed up just going into labour, I think I was 41 weeks along it was a Sunday morning and I felt kind of weird, like that weird feeling something feels weird and so I took a shower and started relaxing doing the hypnosis and never had time to go to the hospital because my body just started pushing her out, so that was it I gave birth at home with my husband and our son was upstairs playing in his room, and that was the birth story, we gave birth at home, totally accidental, had no plans to have a home birth, we had no medical staff nearby so we were very fortunate that everything went well. The ambulance arrived 15 minutes later, so she had lots of cord time, the cord was attached for a very long time, so she should be like a super human with all her benefits and then we went to the hospital, and there I delivered the after birth and the placenta, the midwifes were like this is crazy, what a crazy story and they tugged on the umbilical cord and they said the placenta is still firmly attached, because I had had no contractions and so I’d had no contractions which is something, I definitely had contractions with my first child, so I was completely blown away, how can I deliver a baby without uterine contractions, how does that physically work, but I think I was so relaxed, and this is something that I read up on, hypnobaby birth or hypnobirthing after, its very common, where a woman whose under hypnosis is so completely relaxed the baby just kind of works its way out on its own, and the body just does its thing. That just blew my mind on the possibilities of birth and what our bodies can do when we just take our heads out of the way, we don’t allow stress to make our bodies tense or any of the things that normally happen when we worried or stressed out or feeling pain and all those sorts of things.

So it was an amazing experience, I had 2 beautiful births and I would change a thing and I would definitely do hypnosis if I were to have another baby, but that’s not happening. So ending on a high note and I’m finishing with a slam dunk birth, I’m very comfortable and pain free, would say it was pain free, the worst part was delivering the after birth, because I wasn’t, it felt weird and they had me on my back and they had me in positions that I never would have done if I was doing it on my own. Ya the best part about the second birth was that I was completely comfortable in my own home, I was moving around all the time, and changing positions to find the most comfortable position, so there was no one there telling me to sit down and do this and do that, there was no one interrupting me and I think that’s why it went so smoothly

Karen:

I’m pretty certain if you had stayed at home the placenta would have followed probably after an hour or so, it would have been slow but it would have happened because you stayed in that state. It’s an amazing story and an amazing affirmation of the power of the mind, and I just love what you say about how you felt so out of control because you weren’t in your own country and you didn’t understand the system, but you took control of your mind, and your preparation and your attitude

Lisa: Ya

Karen: That makes such a difference and look at what a difference it did make

Lisa: Ya incredible difference, I knew that the unknown was stressing me out, so you have to look at what you do know and what you can control and then take control of that, that’s all you can do

Karen: If you could describe your books each one in one word what would they be? What would that word be for each of your books?

Lisa: For each one specifically, I think the first one would be overwhelming, the second one would be unbelievable

Karen: Wow, beautiful words.  Because your births were so vastly different, in terms of the preparation that you did during your pregnancy, how would you say that they differed when you were in the States and when you were in Sweden?

Lisa: The physical preparation  in the States I did the standard birth preparation class that was put on by the midwifery practice where you had to hold an ice cube in your hands and do the breathing, the video and possible C-section videos and then I went to a breast feeding class, joined (8:50) league and sat in on a few meetings there, I felt more prepared for after birth than the actual birth process itself despite going through those classes, I didn’t read up on anything, I didn’t practice meditation, I was kind of ignoring that this was going to happen and I was like I’m going to be fine, I was just glossing over this will be fine, I will get the epidural and everything will be fine, that was my pull, I didn’t even entertain what would happen if I couldn’t get an epidural, I didn’t even entertain that conversation. Then for my second birth I was on a fact finding mission, I talked to so many other women who gave birth in Sweden to try and find out the system, and how their experience was and things like that. I read Ina May Gaskins book, I read Grantly Dick-Read Childbirth without fear and then I did the hypnobabies programme that was 30 minutes hypnosis and meditation every day and then I listened to positive affirmations which were non hypnosis, just positive affirmations every day and that’s like 15 minutes a day, so total I was doing way more physical and mental preparation for my second birth than I ever did for my first

Karen: And probably for your second one a lot more mental preparation that you did for the first

Lisa: Oh ya totally

Karen: Would you say that’s because you were in a situation that was strange and foreign or was it due to the more that than, cause your first experience was essentially a very positive one

Lisa: Ya oh ya I had a completely positive first experience, I think had I given birth again in the US I probably would have done the same thing, I wouldn’t have worried about it, I wouldn’t have done all the mental prep and I would have thought pain comes with child birth so just get the epidural, and I never would have discovered that the pain is the optional part, you don’t have to experience the pain and you don’t need drugs to avoid the pain, and so to me that was like the paradigm shift that I had never considered before until doing the hypnobabies programme and that just completely reprogrammed my mental outlook on child birth in general.  So did the books, Grantly Dick-Read has such a big impact because his findings were you know in the 50’s, the 40’s and 50’s of these stories of  woman giving birth without pain, so I knew if it was possible back then, our human bodies haven’t changed that much, like its still possible now

Karen: Exactly, exactly, and it’s strange because you know you went into the first one and you did all the traditional childbirth classes but your focus was on the epidural

Lisa: Ya

Karen: You know and a lot of your satisfaction was around that and the fact that it had worked

Lisa: And it was culturally acceptable in the US to just have an epidural, the midwifery practice was fine with that, we support the mother and whatever she wants to do, and I love that about that practice, they were completely supportive of the mother, In Sweden they not supportive of the mothers wishes they pushing the natural way, the non-epidural, non-intervention way because they believe its healthier and leads to less complications which is their main goal. Is really to have the least number of medical complications, so the healthcare approach is completely different and motivated for different reasons. So I think that the cultural acceptance of pain relief, epidural, or drugs or whatever is very different between the 2 countries, consequently I had to adjust to the current culture. I wasn’t going to convince an old Swedish midwife to give me an epidural, you in their world so you have to adapt and accommodate what they expect of you, I was prepared to do that.

Karen: That’s amazing, and one of the things that I’ve put a lot of emphasis on in my classes and the work I do with women is breathing. How would you say that breathing helped you with your labour and birth?

Lisa: I would say that I don’t know so much about the breathing in particular because my second birth was so fast it was like an hour and a half in total.  My breathing kind of stayed the same and I stayed focused on breathing evenly and relaxing all of my muscles, relaxing my birthing muscles and to do that you can’t hold your breath, you know when you relaxed you have to breathe evenly and deeply and a lot of the hypnosis has deep breathing associated with the four, the square breathing, the four four count, it’s like breathe in to 4 and breathe out to 4 kind of thing, I think that helped me relax all my birthing muscles and stay calm.

Karen: One of the things that I find often happens with moms that have done a lot of preparation during pregnancy especially if its   a program like hypnobabies or hypno birthing, and where they focused a lot on breathing techniques whether it’s the square breathing or the J breathing or circular breathing, I mean there are so many different types. The fact is that they are aware of their breathing and they are constantly doing sort of mindful techniques and practices throughout. Very often when they have a birth like you had that was so quick and essentially painless and easy, they say I never got to use them, but you actually did because you were using them and you were so used to using them and it was just part of your practice that it just kind of eases into that. Without that practice, you were so fully prepared that you did, you just didn’t realise that you were using it you just kind of slipped into it

Lisa: Exactly, I was actually really nervous before giving birth because I was sleeping through my hypnosis tracks

Karen: Yes

Lisa: So when I was doing my practice for 30 minutes every day I was actually sleeping, I would go down and then I would come back up when they were counting 3, 2 ,1, that’s all I would hear, I was like no I’m missing all the instructions I’m missing everything so I contacted my midwife friend, she was like if you sleeping you going to kill it, rock it, its going to be awesome, the fact that you sleeping through your hypnosis means you’re totally and completely relaxed and everything is going to be fine. So just having a professional who has experienced that before give that feedback was enough to really solidify my confidence in my training and myself, mothers worry about everything and I’m too relaxed and I missed all the instructions, no that’s exactly what you should be doing

Karen: Those instructions were so firmly imprinted in your subconscious and that’s exactly why you had such an amazing birth

Lisa: Ya it was great

Karen: Is there anything that you wish you had known before you gave birth, whether it be the first or the second, usually it’s the first but was there one thing you wish you had known?

Lisa: I didn’t know it was going to go so quickly and I know that woman have different definitions of quick, even with my first birth I knew that its really only going to be 24 hours long maximum, and in the scope of your life that’s such a small time. And you can do anything in 24 hours it’s really not that long. My first birth was 10 hours so it was over much faster than I mentally prepared for and then of course my second birth was 90 minutes, I had no idea it was going to go so fast so it can go a lot faster than you think and even if it does take a long time, looking back on it, it will feel pretty fast

Karen: And I know you said you not going to be having anymore but if you did what would you do the same?

Lisa: I would totally do the hypnobabies programme again, that was by far the most life changing and the best preparation I could have done for myself

Karen: Great, and intuition, I also place a lot of emphasis on intuition, I do believe that we all have the sense of inner knowing, and I think that sense of inner knowing becomes more pronounced when you pregnant, and you more likely to listen to it and become aware of it. How would you describe intuition and have you had any experiences during your pregnancies or your births or subsequently that highlights intuition for you and the listeners

Lisa: I would say intuition is a survival mechanism that’s left over I think its that basic instinct that you have to get up and change, you have to go and do something or you have to call someone or something, there’s just this feeling that you can’t ignore and your body is refusing to ignore this feeling so you have to act on it.  I’m not sure I didn’t have anything during pregnancy or birth because I felt very safe and I was in a safe environment, I did sort of have this weird feeling, I had my son in a stroller on a bus and I got off at our stop which was our neighbourhood and there were little pedestrian paths that were kind of isolated  along the way but a very odd looking man got off and started following me, I was like I had never seen you before, and he had this weird look to him, so I don’t know so I turned down a pedestrian path and he followed me again  I turned again down another pedestrian path and he followed and I’m like there’s no way this man lives where Iam and I have never seen him, there’s no way, so as soon as I turned the corner I just ran and pushed the stroller and just ran home, and I made sure he wasn’t following me,  that was really the only time that I felt something was wrong, and this is an unusual occurrence, that was really it. I don’t know I have no proof that my intuition was right but I just knew that I was feeling that gut feeling that something was not exactly right here

Karen: I think that’s what it is in many times, its saying it’s a feeling to either go towards or go away from something, in your case it was a feeling to move away there was something just not quite right, other times it’s something that something is right and we move towards it

Lisa: It’s a different feeling than anxiety, anxiety you know you act on nothing there and its fine, you know nothings there and you still worry about it that’s anxiety but the intuition is when something is wrong and you need to go, or you have to check on your child or make sure there’s something there you won’t relax until you take action on it.

Karen: Action I think is the word for it, the key. The key is to take action

The last question I’ve got for you about your births before we move onto the Knocked Up Abroad series is if you just had one tip for the listeners and the viewers

Lisa: Only one

Karen: Only one

Lisa: During the pregnancy and the birth and directly after the birth, the burden of childcare is on the mother, its very uneven it feels very unfair because you on task for everything, the baby needs you whether you breastfeeding, I mean there so many bodily demands through the pregnancy to month 3 or 4 its all on the mother, it can feel overwhelming so I would just assigning tasks or delegating tasks that are not based on you to your partner, so they can help out in other ways, whether that be with diaper changing, doing laundry, preparing meals all that sort of thing cause you have enough to deal with, with your baby in your arms all the time.  It helps so much to have someone there helping you with the other things that they can do. That would be my tip, delegate as much as you can during that period to your partner, your spouse, whoever is in the area that can help you.

Karen: I don’t think sometimes couples realise what a big shift it is especially in the first weeks with a newborn baby. I know in my classes I do a little exercise called the reality check and you know I mention how things do change, I see the couples shifting closer to each other and giving them each other a knowing look oh that will never happen to us but you know its inevitable when you sleep deprived, and I think it’s the hormones as well, you just overwhelmed with the sense of responsibility, there’s an overwhelming sense of love and protection and the lines get blurry when you so tired. I think that’s a great tip and thank you

I would love to ask you a little bit more about the Knocked Up Abroad Series, how it came about and what it is and who it’s for?

Lisa: So the Knocked Up Abroad Series 22:16 are 2 books are 50 stories of woman around the world talking about pregnancy, birth and parenting in foreign countries, so countries that are not their passport countries. It’s really for anyone, for every woman because I think you don’t have to be in the situation to find comfort or to find education or entertainment in it. A lot of readers have never given birth outside their home country and they still love reading the stories, it’s really sort of a fish out of water story. Its how these woman who are in a foreign language and foreign culture with different expectations and faraway from family, deal with being pregnant and giving birth and raising their children abroad. So that’s what it is, its been wonderful to connect with woman around the world to hear their birth stories and I think every persons story, every mother has a birth story and their very eager to share, pregnant woman are very eager to read birth stories, so I think its a perfect combination of reading stories that make you feel good and make you understand that you not alone and whatever you experiencing things are going to be ok

Karen: I know and it is such a beautiful initiative but where did the idea come from and from an idea to making it happen is quite a big leap. We all have amazing ideas, but it couldn’t have been easy putting together so many stories from around the world, collating them, editing them, and then getting it out into a book, how did you make that happen.

Lisa: It all starts with an idea, I had the idea because my 2 birth stories were so different, so I wrote about them and people liked it and they were like this is really interesting, and I knew I wasn’t the only woman out there that had 2 different birth stories or a birth story where her expectations for birth differed in the local culture in which she was giving birth and so I reached out to other woman and said hey who here has an interesting story in a foreign country, and the responses were just, there were tons and there were tons from the 80’s and 90’s, and so way before the internet was even around there was these woman who were giving birth and their situations were so incredibly different because they were completely isolated and had just different challenges that we had today. So not everyone is a story teller and not everyone has a full chapter to contribute, so I spent a lot of time reaching out to woman and coaching them through the writing process and helping them going through a few drafts and revisions. I have learned that the self-publishing process myself because it is one thing to ask for someone’s stories, and then they like why would I share it with you, what qualifies you to publish this book.  I did some selling of myself, but I really think it was my passion that sold the project to the people that were contributing their stories because it was definitely something that I was going to do and I couldn’t wait to share their stories with the world. It was a lot of work, there was a lull in my work projects, because I’m a public health consultant, freelance, working remotely and I didn’t have any projects at the time, so I was looking for a new project to do anyway and this was something I was very passionate about

Karen: In many ways its lead you onto new things now because you now branching out into self-publishing and crowd funding

Lisa: Yes so with the anthologies I was basically acting as an Indi publisher for these woman to publish their stories so I know there are other writers who want to publish their stories but aren’t sure about the process which is why I describe it as sort of formalizing my knowledge into a consulting service to help other woman, I will help men too but I love working with woman, really get their work into a book and publish it in a way that makes it stand out and is done with high quality

Karen: Having just gone through the process of self-publishing myself I know it’s not that easy. Lisa has actually written the forward to my book so thank you for that, and it will be available soon. For those who are wanting to write stories and who are wanting to know more about that, how can they get hold of you, I think you have a program coming up, you running something at the moment

Lisa: I have a course right now called “The beginners guide to self-publishing” and all of that and my services for helping Indi authors and helping people explore self-publishing or crowd funding to fund their book is available on my website – www.lisaferland.com

27:20 – no sound

Karen: Whose your inspiration and why?

Lisa: Burney Brown because she is super honest and I just love that

Karen: Love it

Do you feel like a leader or a follow?

Lisa: A leader for sure

Karen: Love that

Best piece of advice that you have ever received

Lisa: Don’t worry so much

Karen: I know its don’t sweat the small stuff

As a child what did you wish to become when you grew up?

Lisa: A veterinarian

Karen: Wow and now look at you

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

Lisa: I would say publishing 2 books in the same calendar year

Karen: Cool, I would be proud of that

Best movie you have ever watched about birth?

Lisa: Babies

Karen: Ah I love that

Best book about birth

Lisa: Childbirth without fear by the old British man Grantly Dick-Read

Karen: Brilliant book

Biggest birth influence?

Lisa: Ina May Gaskin

Karen: If you had a birth song what would it be?

Lisa: Phillip Phillip’s – Home

Karen: Best birth quote?

Lisa: I had to research this one, its like trying to describe what you feel when you standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon or remembering your first love or the birth of your child, you have to be there to really know what its like by Jack Schmidt

Karen: That’s beautiful

I want to thank you again for joining me it was really great to get to know you and get to know more about your business, your births and thank you so much for sharing all that