I did a hypnobirthing course with you early last year and I have been meaning to send you my birth story as I think you might find it interesting or useful. As a bit of background, this was my second pregnancy following a very traumatic emergency caesarean delivery of twins four years previously and because of this I started your course with quite a lot of ‘baggage’ and fear. I desperately wanted to avoid another caesarean but because so many things had gone wrong during the delivery of my twins I was very much stuck in a pessimistic mindset – I had very little faith that things would go ‘my way’, however much I wished for it. My twins’ birth had proved to me how little control you can have, how birth can be something that is ‘done’ to you.
I think I was an excellent candidate for hypnobirthing. On one hand you’d imagine the best person would be someone with no pre-conceptions, but as someone who was tied up by the sheer awfulness of her previous birth I can say that the course was revelatory. I had no idea what it would do for me and I didn’t imagine that it would guarantee me a VBAC or intervention-free delivery, but I did feel strongly that it would help me towards a more positive mindset, and that can only be a good thing. I left the course on the second day feeling very positive – I really did feel as if I could do it, that a vaginal delivery was not an impossible dream and that hypnobirthing had given me the tools to a) enjoy the rest of my pregnancy and not stress about the delivery, and b) have faith that I could take control of elements of my labour. This last point was no small deal as the delivery of my twins had felt totally beyond my control.For next ten weeks of my pregnancy I continued listening to my hypnobirthing download (on my iphone), read and re-read the Hypnobirthing Workbook and really tried to understand the physical element of labour – what was going to happen to my body during it and how hypnobirthing/my breathing exercises and visualisations could help. I also talked to my doula and spoke to a pro-VBAC senior midwife at my hospital – in short I did all that I could to get everything in place.
Of course the best laid plans….My second birth, on paper, is pretty terrible. I ended up with another emergency caesarean delivery which of course makes it seem as if I ‘failed’ and hypnobirthing failed me. In fact, I think my birth is probably the most positive testament to hypnobirthing that there can be and I view the delivery of my baby with nothing short of euphoria, which is such a contrast to my first birth. I hope you’ll agree that the following shows how important hypnobirthing can be for every kind of labour and delivery and even a ‘failed’ VBAC can be the most positive hypnobirth of all.
As I have said, on paper this was a terrible birth. Thankfully my baby is healthy and wonderful and none the worse for his traumatic entry in the world. We truly have a miracle baby. Part of that miracle is that I see his birth as one of the most amazing and positive experiences of my life. Perhaps this is helped by the fact that the birth of his sisters was so terrible that anything else would have felt positive by comparison, but this is only in part. His birth is probably more traumatic and yet I was a different person during it and afterwards and I put this wholly down to hypnobirthing and the breathing I used.
My husband was a huge sceptic about hypnobirthing, to the extent that he didn’t come on the course with me. He was very supportive of my decision to do it but I think he felt it was probably a load of old mumbo jumbo and would involve him having to do something embarrassing whilst sitting cross-legged on a beanbag. Having seen me in labour and in the operating theatre he is now a complete convert and thinks everyone should do it. He says I was calm and seemed almost pain-free, even though I felt very far from that.
To my mind, hypnobirthing is a very personal thing and it works in different ways for different people. Perhaps some people do manage a pain-free delivery with hypnobirthing. That didn’t happen for me but what it did give me was an ability to control and understand the pain. It changed my understanding of the physiological and mental and emotional elements of birth and allowed me to see it as a positive process that I could be part of rather than subsumed by. It also gave me a wonderful birth from something that, on paper at least, was very far from that. How can I feel so happy and fulfilled by something that was essentially so terrible and terrifying? How can I view my birth as a success when, in essence, my plans for a vaginal delivery failed? Hypnobirthing gave me that. It gave me freedom and control and emotional peace on a day that should have had none. That is a great testament to its power. The fact that I view that day as I do makes me feel as if my hpnobirthing story is a greater success story than the woman who births her baby silently and pain-free and euphoric in a pool.
My advice to any pregnant woman would be to do hypnobirthing. It can’t guarantee you a pain-free, intervention-free birth or even a vaginal birth but it can give you a positive, euphoric and life-changing experience whatever the outcome and that is priceless.
PS Thank you, Katharine. I realise I forgot to say thank you! Thank you for giving me a great birth.