In 2015, Siobhan founded The Positive Birth Company, which quickly evolved from a face-to-face hypnobirth training provider to a brand on a mission to make hypnobirthing accessible to the masses by removing barriers such as limited disposable income, geography and available free time.
The business, which is now the world’s biggest supplier of hypnobirthing courses, supporting customers from 86 countries. Following a less-than-positive birth with her first child, Siobhan enrolled on a hypnobirthing course and, after an incredible second-birth experience at home, she went on to train to become a hypnobirthing teacher. With an academic background in Psychology, Siobhan is passionate about spreading the word that birth can be better – and not just better, it can be amazing!
Alongside offering hypnobirthing classes in London, Brighton, Birmingham and Devon, The Positive Birth Company also offers an award-winning online course which, to date, has been downloaded by more than 36,000 women from 104 counties. Siobhan, now a mum to three boys, has also recently developed and launched Freya, the world’s first hypnobirthing-friendly surge (contraction) timer app and virtual birth partner. She is also the author of the bestselling book ‘Hypnobirthing: Practical Ways to Make Your Birth Better.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I’m Siobhan and I’m the founder of The Positive Birth Company; a provider of in-person and online hypnobirthing courses. I started the company in 2016 after finishing my psychology masters and becoming a qualified hypnobirthing teacher. I was initially motivated to find a job where I could help people and feel I was making a difference. In more recent years, I’ve made it my mission to make hypnobirthing more accessible for everyone. There’s a number of studies out there which show the huge number of benefits hypnobirthing offers women in birth, from reducing stress and the likelihood of intervention, to lowering the risk of post-natal depression and anxiety, all of which alleviates strain on the NHS. I believe these benefits should be available to everyone but sadly hypnobirthing classes are often prohibitively expensive or not available in one’s local area.
To overcome this problem I’ve harnessed the power of digital and social platforms to make hypnobirthing available to the masses. Alongside our award-winning ‘Digital Pack’ (the world’s most affordable and accessible online course) we’ve created the ‘Freya’ app which is the world’s first virtual birth partner and hypnobirthing-friendly surge timer and was listed as one of the Top Apps of 2019 by the App Store.
Besides running the business I’m also a mother to three lively boys and the author of the bestselling book ‘Hypnobirthing: Practical Ways to Make Your Birth Better’.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
No. I had no idea what I wanted to do when I was 18 so chose to study subjects I enjoyed – English Literature and Drama. I then fell into Digital Marketing. Later I realised I really wanted to do a job where I helped people as I knew it would make me feel fulfilled and give me greater job satisfaction, so I left my marketing career and returned to uni to do a psychology masters hoping to become a clinical psychologist.
While studying I attended a hypnobirthing course as an expectant mum and then as a result had an amazing, empowering and healing home birth with my second child. I realised this was what I wanted to do – teach hypnobirthing and help others experience the same, so after my masters I trained to become a teacher.
Nowadays I feel everything I did before has helped me get to where I am now; the English degree with writing a book, drama with presenting the course on camera, marketing with setting up my business single-handedly, and of course psychology, which underpins all I do to help women have better birth experiences and postnatal periods.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
Yes, many! The main one being with no investment or savings upon set up, I had to do EVERYTHING myself. And if I couldn’t do it or didn’t know how, I had to teach myself. I took bookings, did the customer service, built the website, created content, taught the classes, built the brand. It was 24/7, for all 365 days of the year, for many years. It involved a great deal of dedication and personal sacrifice.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Helping tens of thousands of women, if not hundreds of thousands, have a better birth experience through making hypnobirthing digital. Hearing from women every single day how something I’ve created has changed their life for the better.
Also our Freya app being listed as one of the Top Apps of 2019 was pretty special as was the book becoming an Amazon bestseller and of course our Digital Pack being crowned the no1 bestselling course.
In the last year we also grew to surpass over 1 million USD in turnover, and we are expecting much further growth in 2020.
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
Doing something I feel passionate about and truly believe in. Not chasing financial success but being driven by a real desire to make a positive change in the world. Being genuine, original and working damn hard.
I think part of the reason we’ve been so successful in our financial growth is that we focus on value over margins. We have a low pricing structure which has made hypnobirthing accessible to the masses, but we also have strong values that underpin the business. We often have people wanting to support and buy in once they know the reasons for our pricing. Our content is also relatable and a huge number of people actively share and encourage their friends and family to come to PBC. The public are more likely to be influenced by genuine endorsement from their friends and family rather than #spon from a stranger. People want to champion what we do and the support from the community we have built is not something that can be bought. It’s one of the most valuable assets we have.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
I would love a mentor but am yet to find anyone close to me who is suitable and in business.
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?
Making part time work just that. For example, not giving someone part time hours and part time pay but expecting them to do a full time job. Inflexibility drives talented women out of the workforce.
I also think we need greater pay transparency. The Equality Act and requirement to report on gender pay gays has helped to improve this, but is only for large companies and we still have some way to go. The recent high-profile BBC settlements as a result of unequal pay have highlighted this more than ever. We need to ensure people, regardless of whether they’re a man or woman, are paid equal when doing the same job.
As businesses we should encourage sharing the load from day one, for example splitting maternity and paternity leave.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
Do what you love, don’t worry so much about what you’ll ‘be’ or ‘do’ when you’re older – most of the jobs I do now didn’t even exist when I was at school (tech being the biggest example!). Instead, focus on doing what you love because you’ll care more, you’ll work harder, you’ll achieve more, and be happier while doing it. Life experience helps and things will become clearer, falling into place in time.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
I want to ensure every single woman has access to decent antenatal education. This is The Positive Birth Company’s mission and we’re making that happen.
We’re about to launch a podcast and this year will be campaigning to shape future NHS policy around antenatal education and care. Watch this space!