As we headed towards Sarah’s due date, our anxiety level began to soar. Ella, our first baby, born 5 years ago, arrived 10 days early, which is typical of a baby with Down’s Syndrome. Ella was a KG Hypnobirthing baby, and her birth, was calm, natural and easy. She was a very special arrival and due to Katharine’s guidance, support and sheer love we felt confident that all would be well and it was. She was a very calm, relaxed and easy baby. Rosie was in established labour for less than 7 hours and delivered Ella in the MLU. The midwives present at Ella’s birth were so impressed with Rosie’s ability to stay calm and focused and indeed commented Charles how impressed they were with the impact of hypnobirthing, and said if Rosie were to have another baby labour would be quick and easy if she remained so relaxed as her body had done it before.
Charles, our second baby’s arrival, was in complete contrast. We had moved to the coast in Kent, and decided to attend a hypnobirthing refresher course with a local practitioner in order to renew our confidence. It helped to a degree, but Rosie did not feel the same sense of self confidence as she did following the KG Hypnobirthing experience. As Charles’s due date approached there was an expectation that he would arrive early, just as Ella had. In addition, for 2 long weeks before Charles was due to arrive, Rosie kept experiencing surges most nights, so thought on numerous occasions that labour was starting. These false starts fed our anxiety and expectations of an early arrival. Feeling completely fed up, Rosie decided she would have a sweep when labour stalled for the umpteenth time at the MLU / days before Charles’s due date. The sweep did indeed begin labour, but it was intense and cruel and as a couple we found it impossible to get on top of. Surges were completely unpleasant, intense and painful and hypnobirthing completely went out of the window. Rosie felt she had lost control. The Midwives forgot to remind Rosie to go for a wee and consequently, poor baby Charles couldn’t get past a full bladder and Rosie’s bladder couldn’t be emptied because baby’s head was in the way. After a long and difficult labour, albeit in water in the MLU, Rosie was rushed to the labour ward. Once the epidural was in, a c-section was on the cards unless Charles appeared with three pulls on forceps. He arrived screaming into the world, and didn’t stop crying for hours. He was an unsettled, fussy baby, who wasn’t easily settled, couldn’t be put down, and was so terribly fragile and anxious. Rest assured, 2 ½ years on, he’s a confident, cheerful little boy with a true zest for life and a beautiful curiosity for the world about him. We are certain his stressful birth had a detrimental impact on the first period of his life.
Discovery we were pregnant for a third time filled us with fear and dread about the birth process. Rosie had her mind made up the she would have an epidural from the onset of labour and that was the end of it. Rosie really did not want to have anything to do with our local hypnobirthing teacher – if she was going to ‘do it’ naturally she wanted KG and who can blame her!
Having messaged KG, we arranged for her to visit us at our home on New Year’s Day, 2015. We would spend some time together, work through Charles’s birth and think about how we could manage Sarah’s birth differently.
We spoke about our hypnobirthing experiences and rediscovered its beauty and simplicity. KG’s kindness, warmth, generosity, expertise and ability to make us feel completely at ease was enhanced by her passionately positive outlook on life, and we were reminded of her love and passion for and belief in hypnobirthing. Once again, we were converted and ready to face the arrival of Sarah with excitement and joy.
Thanks to KG, the arrival of Sarah was the talk of the MLU. Sarah was 12 days late, but Rosie did not want any interventions to hurry the onset of labour along. The student midwife who was present at Sarah’s birth said that Rosie had a renewed her belief in natural birth with no interventions, as she had seen so many labours begin in the MLU and end up in the labour suite of late. Sarah’s birth was inspirational and had “restored” her faith in the MLU. A senior midwife told Rosie that Sarah’s birth was “text book”. The reason why it was such a successful, beautiful, calm and easy birth is because Rosie listened to her body and trusted her instincts.
In our birth plan, it specified that Rosie did not want any examinations, unless she asked for one; and she didn’t.
Labour started at about 2am and we arrived and the MLU by 4am. By 4.30am, Rosie was labouring in water. Everything went extremely well until the point of transition, which sadly was the time when the shift of midwives changed. This was exactly the point at which things started to go wrong during Charles’s labour. We both felt horrified and feeling particularly protective towards Rosie, I was completely direct with the new midwives. I explained our anxieties and they suggested Rosie get out of the water, move around and empty her bladder. She couldn’t. Anxiety levels shot through the roof and so it was agreed that they would drain her bladder with a catheter. Once Rosie’s bladder was empty, she had a bowl of breakfast cereal and a cup of tea. She refocused. I buzzed the midwives and asked them to re-fill the birthing pool. Once full, Rosie got into the water and simply listened to her body and relaxed. The midwives and I had a very brief conversation about where Rosie might be in her labour and they said they didn’t know, only an examination would confirm, but, since her breathing had changed they thought she was ready to breathe Sarah out. The midwives commented that not knowing was good for them and was keeping them on their toes, that they could put their skills of observation to perfect use.
Rosie agreed for them to use a mirror to see if they could see Sarah’s head and they could. Many people had told us that after their first babies their subsequent babies arrived quickly, so there was an expectation that Sarah would be born quickly. In fact, she was born slowly and gradually. Rosie gave her body time to move with our daughter, to open slowly and comfortably. She listened to her body beautifully and breathed her way through it all. She received no direction from any of the midwives – only “listen to your body” and that’s exactly what she did. She listened to and she trusted her body.
Eventually, when Sarah arrived into the world into water, she was sound asleep and hadn’t noticed she had been born. She opened her eyes after a few minutes and locked eyes with her mummy who greeted her with such immense love, joy and pride.
Because Rosie was so determined to have a positive birth experience and despite being 12 days overdue she refused to have any interventions, and we’re convinced that this determination contributed to such a calm and easy birth. However, there were moments of despair and desperation and at those times, we reflected and held on to KG’s words of wisdom and at other times, we called and chatted with Katharine who just normalized everything and made it all feel OK and just right.
Today, at 5 months old, Sarah is calm, peaceful and such an easy and relaxed baby.
There isn’t anyone quite like Katharine and there isn’t any birth experience quite like a KG Hypnobirthing birth and we hope that our three birth experiences illustrates this.