I had a crippling fear of birth for many, many years, so much so that it almost prevented me from having any children at all.
When I fell pregnant, I heard of this ‘hypnobirthing’ and the possibility of having a baby at home, surrounded by your calm amenities such as fairy lights and aromatherapy and the familiarity of your own house – I felt instant relaxation at this thought, and I knew this is what I wanted.
We attended one hypnobirthing class but was then hit by the Covid -19 pandemic so the classes got cancelled, gutted! But we had previously purchased KGHypnobirthing book and were making our way through it, so we decided to do the online course too. This, is the greatest gift I’ve ever received – I have never thought about birth in this way before, how natural it is and to completely trust my body, just like mammals do!
We listened to the colour and calmness relaxation every night, along with another relaxation in the day. I also listened to the positive affirmations track every day and put them up around my house, along with the normal position of the baby poster. My house was a centre of calmness and positivity, and each day I would listen to and read the positive birth stories. I also did my perineal massage every day for 19 mins from week 35, along with doing my pelvis floor exercises everyday from about week 12! The covid pandemic threatened to take away our choice of a home birth, so I used my hypnobirthing techniques to prepare me for a birth that wasn’t my original choice, but luckily our area still supported home births and I was fortunate to still have one. I was 6 days ‘over due’ but used the power of hypnobirthing to remind me that due dates are not set in stone, and that baby will come when they are ready and to keep calm, relax and trust in my body, the baby knows when the right time is to be born (I had this up in my kitchen to remind me daily).
I did have a sweep which was my informed decision, but didn’t think much of it as my cervix was still firm, but that night my partner did some acupressure points with me, we watched a funny DVD, had a back massage and an evening just full of love. I created my baby music playlist, full of nostalgic songs, from our first dance to a song that emotionally connects me to my mum. I had a wonderful night sleep that night and a very relaxed morning, I watched some funny TV, had a shower and went for a walk. On the walk I noticed a few different sensations in my body, but didn’t think much of it. As I got home, these sensations increased quickly and more intensity, but in my back! I relaxed on the sofa and eventually called my husband and said, ‘I think something is happening… but I’m not sure, because it’s all in my back!’ Eventually these sensations increased to 3-4 in 10 minutes, and we called the mid- wife, still not sure what was going on, and didn’t want to call the mid wife out too early, only for them to be sent away again!!
I used my up breathing and visitations throughout which helped immensely, my husband gave me a back massage and I had a hot water bottle. We put on the music playlist, connecting to the music which filled me with oxytocin. I was feeling sick when I had my surges/waves, so my husband filled the aromatherapy diffuser with peppermint and put some in a tissue for me, which made it go away! The midwife was on her way and I was aware of Catherine saying about being observed, which can cause you to freeze and possible reverse of dilation, so I reminded my self to relax, and the mid wife being here is so very positive.
An hour later, she arrived, masked and with aprons on due to Covid. This could have potentially reversed any dilation due to unfamiliarity and potential fear, freeze mechanism, but I was so used to it previous midwife that I became the norm! I agreed to have a vaginal examination, I had previously researched and knew I was making an informed decision here. Eventually I got on my back long my enough for her to tell me I was 9cm dilated!! This all happened in a matter of a few hours. I did use some gas and air to help with the edge but continued to use my breathing techniques and visualisations. I then felt the intensity change and knew I needed to use my down breathing and visualisations.
The thought of meeting my new baby filled my mind and gave me strength. Quite quickly the 2nd midwife came and soon I got into the pool. The warmth instantly relaxed every muscle and it felt so good! My waters still hasn’t broken and baby’s head kept poking out then going back in. I ended up not using the gas and air for this part as it didn’t fit in with my rhythm of breathing, and actually, I didn’t need it at all. It took a lot of energy to get the baby out, but I used the down visualisations throughout and kept imagining holding my baby! The power this gives you is amazing! At one point, because the baby kept going in and out, the midwife suggested I lot on my back. For me, this was a big “no no,” as previous reading Katherine’s book, I remind myself that this is not a natural birthing position, and I imagined my coccyx and the shape of my pelvis not being in line. I made an informed choice and said no, instead I remained in the same upward, forward and open, position, in just moved towards the other end of the pool!
I was aware of some of the negative things I’d heard about birth and they did creep into my mind, but then when I was doing it, I realised they were nowhere near as bad as I thought! And this gave me strength. The term “ring of fire” – not true. In fact it was a positive feeling, knowing my baby was closer and I was making progress! It’s here I realised that everyone’s use of language is different, and what someone may say is ‘painful’ or ‘horrific’, in your experience may not be like that at all! Leading up to this birth, I also had to ignore everyone’s ‘horror stories’ or telling me ‘how horrific it would be’ – I mean, why would women scare other women like that? It takes a lot of work to blank their words out of your head, but persistency is key. Surround yourself by many positive birth stories, reminding yourself your body is made for this, it’s the most natural thing it can do! Release and let go. With every push the baby’s heartbeat was checked, and they were perfectly happy! Very calm and enjoying the ride!
As time went on, I knew I had to up my game, and I used every bit of determination l, empowerment and grit, and I breathed and pushed the baby out. The joy and excitement was every drug I needed, and finally he came out, floated up the birth pool, still mostly covered in his sac, and into my arms. We looked into each other’s eyes and the feeling of euphoria overwhelmed and washed over us. He was here – our baby boy, all 9.5 pounds of him!!!
I continued to use my relaxations and breathing through the delivery of the placenta and then for the stitches, in which I only need 1 for a very small tear and 2 for a graze – not bad for a first child at 9.5 pounds!
I truly believe that hypnobirthing allowed me to have such a smooth and wonderful birthing experience. The trust I gave my body and the baby throughout pregnancy and labour allowed me to be calm and content. There wasn’t a single point during later stages of pregnancy or labour where I doubted myself, I never doubted my abilities and I never doubted that the baby wouldn’t be okay. I let nature take its course and I remained calm and positive throughout – there was no transition period, just pure grit and the power of my mind. I did make a noise during lots of it, but for me, I found this helped my breathing and technique!
From going from an absolute fear of birth to having no fear at all is the greatest gift I’ve ever received. Everything I had learnt was put into practice and it paid off. I also came to realise that even if things hadn’t been so smooth, I absolutely would have been okay, because I was calm and positive in my mind.
We were so fortunate to have the birth we wanted during this time, hypnobirthing paid a huge part in such a magical, calm and positive experience. Thank you Katherine for changing my life for the better.