Testimonial words and birth stories from Parents

A father’s perspective on the course via Zoom:

I wanted to take a moment to message you personally and thank you for helping Sarah and me over the last month with the Hypnobirthing zoom course.
Having initially been sceptical about the concept and the results, I have to say I am very impressed with the outcome so far. I do still struggle to just let get and enter into a relaxing trance; however I do feel calmer and more focused when practicing.
I thought you might enjoy hearing the turning moment for me. When learning and practising the Waves of Relaxation and connecting that with the science behind it which appeals to my analytical nature, the effect it had on Sarah, and the baby made the difference. The fact that Sarah relaxed and the baby became more active in that time, consistently demonstrated to me that Hypnobirthing makes a big difference to Sarah.
So, thank you, for opening my eyes and helping to guide us both on the start of this special journey by sharing and teaching us the tools to be more informed, more aware and have a better birth. Your course has also brought Sarah and I closer together which I both thoroughly enjoy, value and am grateful for.

Alex and Sarah. May 2020

A review on the course via Zoom:

We would thoroughly recommend Jo’s course! She is the perfect combination of experienced and professional as well as very warm and empathetic. My partner and I didn’t know a lot about birth or hypnobirthing before we started but we are both now feeling really positive about our baby’s upcoming birth and are really looking forward to it.

As well as the course sessions themselves you get access to loads of helpful resources and mp3s and Jo makes herself very available to you to answer any questions or offer additional support.

We did it remotely via Zoom because of the Coronavirus pandemic but this didn’t really make a difference at all. I found that the relaxation techniques we practised were actually incredibly helpful for copying with the uncertainty of the current situation as well as practising for birth.

Jenny. April 2020

An Audio message:

Anna Mercer, from the Maternity Ward, sharing her Caesarean birth with Lilianna & John

Video testimonial by Hayley

I highly recommend Hypnobirthing with Joanna Fitzsimons. Without a doubt it helped me physically and mentally during my pregnancy as well as my 32 hour labour. It also allowed my husband to be a great birth partner because of what we covered off in our weekly sessions.

It was really easy to feel at ease with Jo who made me and my husband feel so welcome.

Jo thank you for everything!

Lisa and Rich

Hi Joanna,
James and I are so pleased to let you know that Joshua Rainer was so excited at exactly 37 weeks, and he couldn’t wait a second longer to join us, so he decided the time was right on Friday 31st August to say hello (yes, 3 weeks early! It was meant to be my last day at work!).
Our labour was amazing; our surges started at ~3am on Friday, and we kept nice and active throughout, finding places at home to walk around and also rest. We even spent time in our garden walking around as it was a nice sunny day.
We got to the birthing centre at East Surrey hospital at 4pm, and we were very lucky to get a room with a birthing pool. The wise hippo instrumental mp3 went on repeat with James talking to me all the time so at 7.05pm Joshua was delivered calmly and safely 😊 he was a little too relaxed 😉 and needed some help for his first breaths and then was on antibiotics for the first 48 hours as a precaution with his “grunting” but the all clear was given and we were able to leave the hospital on Monday. Now finding our feet at home and enjoying family life. Thank you for all your support and advice – we were well prepared and so lucky to have the birth we wanted 😊.

Hi Joanna, it’s James:
Throughout all our of pregnancy we practised what you taught us, and when our labour started I just seemed to know instinctively what to say and do thanks to your tuition. I had some scripts prepared, but I also made bits up as I went along, and we did many count downs to our relaxing place, and also found the best positions to breath through the surges. The time flew past, and our midwife hardly intervened at all.
As a result, we birthed totally naturally in the pool and Jenny had no pain relief at all.
If I am honest after lesson 1 I wasn’t sure if I would get on with hypno birthing, but I am now a total convert and we speak so highly of it (and you) to everyone we meet.
Even now Joshua still calms down at my voice when I recite some of the “calm and relaxed” wording from our scripts, and we believe this is because he was used to hearing me when we practised relaxing during pregnancy.
Thank you so much again for everything and looking forward to the group all meeting up soon.

James, Jenny and Joshua

My husband and I decided to go to The Wise Hippo Sussex birthing classes after I burst into tears at one of my midwife appointments during my 2nd pregnancy, when reflecting on the birth of my 1st baby. I had to have an emergency c.section with my 1st baby and was filled with anxiety about giving birth to my 2nd baby.

We decided to go to the Wise Hippo Sussex classes because they covered every aspect of birth. We also saw that they were run by Joanna who is a practising midwife. This made us feel confident that she would teach the classes with a true understanding of the birthing process and how each birth is unique for each mum to be.
Before I went to the Wise Hippo Sussex birthing classes, I felt that I wouldn’t be able to have a natural birth. After the first class, my attitude began to change. I began feeling confident and that I was in control of my birth experience. The classes helped me to put the negative feelings behind me and focus on a more positive outcome.

As a result, I had a natural birth with my 2nd baby and only used gas and air for the last 30 minutes of the birth. I can honestly say that the breathing and positive attitude meant I could regulate the surges and I had no desire to use pain relief. I really enjoyed the experience of giving birth which is something I never dreamt I would say. I’m recommending Joanna and her classes to all my pregnant friends.

Jenny and Andrew

My husband and I contacted Jo quite early in my pregnancy – coming from a medical background I had a lot of anxiety regarding birth as I had mostly only experience of the negatives. We started with the Bond With Baby session in our home and can honestly say my anxieties reduced substantially straight away. We then attended the full course. It was invaluable to us as I was then more able to enjoy the pregnancy and I felt so positive about the birth.
In the end it was the ‘right birth on the day’ although not quite how I had hoped as I wasn’t progressing beyond 7cms so needed a syntocinon drip and then an epidural so couldn’t have the water birth I so wanted. However I managed 23 hours without pain relief and I used the pool a fair amount of that. So I still feel it was a positive experience where I was always in control and able to make the right decisions at the time. The midwife said I was very focused and in control. And when our son Devon arrived it was all forgotten about anyway!
Jo is so lovely and approachable and happy to help and advise when it’s needed. She is a midwife so you know she is providing very accurate and up to date information.
The other massive benefit to the course is how much it helped my husband – he knew how to help and support me through and he was amazing as a result. Otherwise I think men can feel a bit out of place and unsure what their role is.
Attending Jo’s course was the single best thing I did whilst pregnant and we can’t thank her enough for everything she has done for us. If you are feeling anxious about pregnancy or birth please contact Jo and attend her courses – it’s not just the course itself but also the support she gave me when I needed it. She is an absolute star! Thank you xxx
Chrissie and Rob

Not only was the course the best money I have ever spent, Joanna is the nicest person I have ever met, she has a lovely aura that instantly puts you at ease. Joanna is professional, knowledgable and made all of our birthing worries disappear. I will be eternally greatful for the confidence Joanna has given me and I am looking forward to the birth of our baby. The course itself is fantastic and has lots of useful tools . I would absolutely recommend this course to anyone and everyone who will listen. Thank you wise hippo and more importantly thank you Joanna!
Rebecca and Andy

Me and my partner are expecting our first child. I was terribly anxious about the birth and needed some help controlling this so I could enjoy my pregnancy and bond with my unborn son.
My friend recommended Jo at The Wise Hippo and suggested I gave it a go.
Would totally recommend this to anyone suffering with anxieties/negative feelings towards birth. Not only do the techniques and information given help you decide how to take control and prepare for a calm birth, but they also help in everyday life and can be applied everywhere!
Jo is a wonderful teacher, full of passion for her job. Thank you so much! You have made such a difference!
Joanna and Nick

I cannot recommend Joanna and the wise hippo course enough! Joanna and her course helped me have the magical birthing experience that I so desperately wanted with my second baby.
After a negative first experience I was a little apprehensive to say the least on having my second baby, but with the techniques that I learnt on this course I was able to have a very calm, relaxed and drug free labour. If it wasn’t for Joanna I would never have been able to do what I did. I felt like a million dollars after I had my son, and can honestly say that I would have done it all again the very next day. I did it, and I did it all by myself. The experience will be one I will remember forever and be forever proud of!
I didn’t have the water birth I wanted and my environment was the complete opposite to what I wanted but it didn’t matter. I did it all on my own with your guidance and I can’t thank you enough.
Lizzie and Dan

We can’t recommend Joanna highly enough. Joanna is obviously an experienced and practical midwife. She is passionate about the benefits of hypno birthing and this helped inform an excellent and thorough course. What’s more is that she has a sensitivity and intelligence that gives you real confidence that the birth experience will be positive, happy and loving. Joanna has taken us from being apprehensive about the birth to relaxed and excited. We couldn’t have wished for more.

As a born worrier I was nervous about the birth of my baby, this wasn’t helped by the birthing horror stories your friends want to naturally share with you along side the TV vision of birth. Therefore having heard many positive stories about Hypno birthing through the grapevine I was very intrigued as to how it could not only help me manage my worries but prepare me for what was to come.

Jo came to our house, she is a very open, friendly and warm person that naturally puts you at ease and take away any awkwardness about discussing a very personal topic. She doesn’t focus the session only towards the mothers but engages the father too throughout which has helped my husband feel more empowered and comfortable with how he can help and support me more effectively through this process.

The course itself was a fantastic mix of the physical and hormonal aspects of birth, how to prepare mentally and physically for birth with take away mp3s, breathing and relaxing techniques, and how to prepare your environment for the most positive experience possible.

I couldn’t recommend it enough, and furthermore i have been able to use the relaxing techniques in my day to day life which is an added bonus.

I look forward to sharing my birthing story soon, only 7 weeks to go.”


“Joanna is an incredible instructor, so warm and friendly. she came to our home and really helped us to embrace the wonderful journey that we had embarked upon as parents to be, thus enabling us to experience our daughters birth positively, calmly and in the best possible way on the day. Even though due to early labour we only did three classes and hadn’t gotten to the birthing bit yet! Lol. Clearly a testament to the programme and her instruction in itself. The tools you learn go beyond birth preparation and have many applications in everyday life. Thank you for everything Joanna. Big love from us all.”
Sharon and Chris

“We had heard positive experiences from friends about hypnobirthing and after some anxiety about pregnancy and birth, decided that this would be the best course for us. The course itself helped us realise what we could do to support each other during the birth and gave my husband a real sense of purpose and role to play in supporting me. Joanna’s experience as a midwife as well as an instructor was invaulable and she was able to answer questions we had from a medical perspective to help our understanding. During this course my whole view on birth changed from the negative one often portrayed in the media to a positive one; the techniques were practical and even though my birth plan changed, I had the positive and calm birth I always wanted.  We felt fully supported by Joanna throughout; she has impressive knowledge and a real enthusiasm for the course. “
Nicola and James

“Joanna was a superb teacher and really got to know us on our journey to becoming parents. We instantly felt relaxed and in good hands and I felt confident and trusted her to guide us through the Wise Hippo programme.

Not only does the course provide you with the tools and mindset to work towards the birth you want. It also brings you closer together as a couple and involves the partner more, at a time when they can perhaps feel a little left out.

I’m now 6 weeks away from my ‘guess date’ and can honestly say that I am calm, relaxed and really looking forward to the birth of my baby.
I look forward to telling you all about it afterwards and I’m pleased to say that we’re booked in for a home birth as I am confident in going with my instinct.”

“Jo is a fantastic teacher and a wonderfully friendly and caring person. Entering our first Wise Hippo meeting with very little research on my behalf, I was intrigued but slightly mystified by what some may describe as an alternative method of childbirth. As we progressed through the program Jo’s teachings, examples and complete knowledge of midwifery turned the mysterious alternative in to the only truly logical and natural method of childbirth for me and my partner.

This fantastic program was brought to life by Jo and I now feel that I have the knowledge and understanding of childbirth to assist my partner in bringing our baby girl in to the world in the most calm and relaxed way possible.

Whether you are already sold on hypno-birthing or you have had your interest piqued and want to learn more, I could not recommend Jo highly enough. She made the learning process understandable, interesting and manageable and left me and my partner feeling confident, informed and excited about the birth of our baby.

Thank you Jo, you helped us to reach a level of calm about childbirth that I don’t think many people ever feel. We can’t wait to tell you our own birthing story in the near future.”


Birth Story

I can’t thank Jo enough for all her help, support, nurturing and amazing wise hippo training.

I originally planned for a homebirth for my second son, but as minor issues such as platelets levels dropping started to occur, I thought a birthing centre would be a good halfway house. I’m not a huge fan of hospitals and so really wanted to avoid going to hospital.

I then ended up going 13 days overdue and was told my only option was to be in a hospital and was booked into be induced the following day. Initially I was very upset and worried about this as I suspected being over medicalised and having interventions that I wouldn’t need.

As luck would have it my waters broke that afternoon! As there was old meconium in the water I still had to go to hospital, however I felt a lot more in control of the situation. I’d been having weeks with bouts of full on contractions (and welcoming them every time) and so when the gentle surges began, I just felt happy and elated! I even went to nap with my toddler – but he kept commenting that I was breathing in a funny way!

We decided that it was best for my mum to take me to Hastings (an hours drive) and for my partner to put our son to bed and then for there to be a switch over. As my previous labour took 8 hours, we felt we had enough time.

Once at the hospital I wasn’t overly confident in the midwife who had no clue what a tens machine was, just popped my birth plan aside, that I wanted the room dark or no pain relief options. The doctor then came in and without examining me or looking me over told me he was going to induce me to speed things up! I told him that I was having contractions and that the babies heart beat was completely fine and so was there really a need for this? After a fairly involved discussion, in which I was told I couldn’t possibly be having contractions as I ‘didn’t look like I was having them’! Wise hippo training! that’ he’d come back in an hour.

I then asked mum to go and relive my partner as I’d be perfectly fine and was left to be in peace for a bit.

Once happy in my own space, the labour suddenly picked up pace and with regular very promising strong surges, but I still felt completely happy and in control. The doctor came back after 45mins and I was examined and told I was 5cms. As I was being monitored my babies heartbeat was completely textbook. The doctor told me he would give me another hour and then still wanted to induce me. My partner still hadn’t arrived by that point as he was stuck in traffic! However I was still completely calm and felt very in control of the situation.

At the same time there was a midwife shift change and the new ladies were far better, incredible, read my birth plan and a really good giggle! My partner still hadn’t arrived, but as we got separated during transfer at my last birth, and I had my first child without him, I just though this similar scenario was hilarious – as did the midwives!

To cut a long story short, the doctor never got back to me as the labour was so swift. The labour was incredibly fast, my partner got there just in time and managed to untangle and put the tens machine on – which was wonderful!

So despite dreading being in a hospital I had am amazing, empowered birth where I stood up for what I instinctively knew was right for Kit and I and did it, pretty much again with just me. The wise hippo programme really helped in so many ways, my pre birth wobbles, having the knowledge and confidence to single handily – whist in labour, politely and effectively argue my case successfully and to be strong, calm and confident through a very fast labour- all without pain relief.

I was also told by the midwives that my rapid labour was called a precipitous labour and that had I been induced it would have had risks in terms of speeding up what was to be an already fast birth. So I am thankful my instincts took over and I stood up for what felt right (as prior to this labour, I was not the type to stand up for what I believed in like that!)

Further to that there are so many tools that I learnt which i use daily – the cloak of protection is used most days and a fantastic resource to combat insensitive comments, or have the confidence to speak your truth carefully and effectively.

I can’t thank Jo enough for giving me the gift of a labour I wanted, I owned the labour, despite being in totally different circumstances. My mum commented that I wasn’t rude to the Doctor, but I had a very ‘this is how it’s going to be’ (provided all are healthy) demeanor!


Birth Story

“Well I have finally gotten around to writing my birth story a mere 8 weeks after birth! My little wise Hippo baby girl was born via spontaneous vaginal breech in hospital.
It all seems so blatantly obvious in retrospect but I didn’t even realise that I was in actual labour until I got to the triage unit! Even then, my brain didn’t really have time to catch up as I was in such a CALM AND RELAXED state of mind and in my special place.
I woke as usual around 8 am and went about my day-even had my 3 rd wise Hippo class with Joanna at 13.30 which was so relaxing. I had had a bit of a gripey tummy throughout the session and one point had to pop to the loo, I just thought I had trapped wind as that’s the sort of sensations I was experiencing so just dismissed them as such, as I’d had similar sensations before(especially as I suffer from IBS). At around 6pm I said to my partner that the tummy ache hadn’t gone, so I was going to put a hot water bottle on myself to ease it before considering dinner plans. I kept needing to empty my bowels so then decided a bath might settle it so I started running a bath. I then started to get what felt like period like cramps and these increased in strength, very rapidly, so I just needed to breathe and focus on my waves of relaxation. At this point I texted Joanna around 1900hrs to say it might be time-so I clearly had an inclination, but somehow was in denial, as now the sensations were now coming every 3 minutes or so. Joanna phoned me and suggested that I get to the hospital; plug in my MP3’s and focus on my breathing and relaxing place and to call triage to let them know we were on our way. Most importantly Joanna advised to definitely not get into the bath! Advice I am so grateful for as the alternative story I could have been telling now would have been very different!
I spoke to triage explained I was 35+5 weeks, what I was experiencing and that I was using The Wise Hippo Hypnobirthing techniques to help. So after pointing at things for Chris to pack for me (no I had not packed my bag that was my job for tonight) we gathered my things and left at 19.30 pm.
The car journey was particularly uncomfortable. The only place was inside my head with my thoughts and visualisations so that’s where I retreated to. It only took 15 minutes to get to the hospital, so I continued to breathe through my surges and focus on getting to my relaxing place and staying there-really immersing myself, imagining as much detail as I could. My surges were quite strong at times-never painful just uncomfortable and one point I felt an urge to push, I told Chris and he reminded me to breathe through it, counting me down 54321 and to resist the urge.
We arrived at the hospital at 19.50 pm; I wasn’t able to walk very far before the next wave of surge came, I just wanted to stop, stand still holding on to my man for support, breathe in deeply and exhale with just as much conviction with each surge. We were offered some wheelchair assistance, which I took gladly. I recall groaning quite loudly as we approached the ward-going guttural with each surge seemed to help minimise discomfort. The triage nurse asked me to get on the bed to be examined, which I point blank refused to do. I recall saying “not gonna happen” and I want to push. So she assessed me standing up and then said “delivery now”. Somehow I still didn’t realise this was it!
Chris whisked me to the delivery suite and I remember jokingly saying I was hoping for a water birth. By this point I was sweating profusely and with some, but not all, realisation that my baby’s birth was imminent, so I literally jumped onto the bed, leant up and over the headboard end, placed my MP3 in one ear, I asked for some Entonox to take the edge off as I’d momentarily lost focus with all the rushing around. I then slipped back to my relaxing place and just went with the flow, completely at ease and relaxed…..this was about 20.15 hrs.
I recall very minimal things about this time, as it was so swift and unexpected; I was completely in my zone. I birthed effortlessly and went with every natural urge of my body and I was considerably CALM AND RELAXED. I lost focus momentarily when I heard the words “breech” but always was able to return to being CALM AND RELAXED. My baby was girl was born 11 minutes from arriving on labour ward. No episiotomy or tears (perineal massage ladies!)and certainly nothing like the waterbirth story I had envisaged – it was an amazing positive and pain free experience and the best that I could have asked for on the day considering the swiftness of the whole thing and that I hadn’t even covered the birthing bit of the course yet ! I was made to feel like a celebrity on the maternity ward and quite the topic of conversation that week: a spontaneous, natural breech in such a CALM and RELAXED manner!

The Wise Hippo Programme really works and I‘ve been advocating my journey to everyone who asks. We are so grateful to Joanna for being such an incredible instructor who helped make our birth story such a wonderfully positive one. The fact that I did so well without having finished the course is a testament to her teaching methods, truly. Thank you so much from us all.”