Hypnobirthing in Kuwait
I am a mother. I have spent my life searching for recalcitrant football boots and making sure that teenagers with hollow legs have enough food.
Then hypnobirthing came into my life and everything changed. Last month everything changed again. Out of the blue I got an email from a mother in Kuwait asking if Hypnobirthing would work for someone giving birth in hospital. Of course Hypnobirthing can work well in any situation. In fact I had an email recently from a couple who had attended one of my Hypnobirthing classes who said; “We had a wonderful birth, because we made it so.” Her husband was wonderful as a birth companion, but the hospital was very busy and the environment was not ideal, but even so Hypnobirthing made a huge difference.
I then exchanged emails with the mother in Kuwait and it transpired that her mother was in London and the suggestion was that she should come to a Hypnobirthing Course, or even possibly a Hypnobirthing Teacher Training Course, and take the information back with her for her daughter. After a few more emails the plan moved on, as plans do, and it was agreed that I would go to Kuwait to teach a Hypnobirthing Course. Then the plan evolved again so that I found myself invited to teach not only a Hypnobirthing Course but a Hypnobirthing Teacher Training Course as well.
Now I have never travelled, because mothers with large families, in general, don’t. I have been on family holidays round Europe and I’m addicted to skiing. I did a quick flip to New Zealand 6 years ago for the wedding of one of my son’s and to meet the new baby son of another son, but that was only 10 days, a large proportion of which was spent in transit. Two years ago I flew to Philadelphia to teach a Hypnobirthing Class for Catherine-Marie Charlton whose wonderfully soothing music I use on my Hypnobirthing CDs and in my courses. But I had never been to the Middle East, so this was a wonderful opportunity which appeared to just drop into my lap, and within a fortnight I was on my way.
Kuwait was a very interesting country and I was treated with great warmth and hospitality. It was strange to walk out into an airport where there were very, very few women, and particularly not women alone. Kuwait is a fine modern city. Many of the skyscrapers are sculptured shapes and dramatic floodlighting at night. A woman can walk down the street on her own, but I felt conspicuous doing this. Most women cover their heads; some don’t. Some women were wearing burkhas, but the majority were not.
The food is delicious, Kuwaiti, Lebanese, Syrian, with subtle herbs and spices. After all, our spices originally came from the East, and the knowledge about herbs and spices and their medicinal effects in the community is impressive; not that people have specifically learned herbal medicine, though I am sure many have, but just knowledge which has been passed down through the generations and is part of the accepted way of life in society.
Birth is a highly medicalised event and it takes place in hospital. Home birth is unknown. Episiotomy is standard. Birth takes place in bed with an obstetrician present. One of the women I taught to be a Hypnobirthing Teacher is qualified as a midwife in Europe, but she can’t practice in Kuwait because midwifery is not a recognized profession. It made me realise how far we have advanced in terms of natural birth in the UK, and how lucky we are. There is a long way still to go, of course, but we are way ahead of many other countries.
For example the WHO guidelines say that no country should have a caesarean rate above 10 – 15%. Ours is about 30%. In America it is heading towards 40% in some areas. Brazil has a 95% Caesarean rate in private hospitals. In China and Hong Kong the rate is high. In Kuwait your husband can sign for your Caesarean surgery. I’m not sure that I would want anyone to take a knife to my abdomen without my own say-so.
However, there was vibrant interest in natural birth and Hypnobirthing in Kuwait. A new organization for natural birth in Kuwait had just been formed, and I was privileged to speak at its inaugural meeting. I was interviewed by a journalist who was extremely interested and wanted to find out all about it. Sometimes here you feel that a journalist has decided what they are going to write, and they just want a snippet from you to justify they view and fill out their article.
So, I had a wonderful time. I learnt a great deal about how birth is conducted in Kuwait. I had a fascinating insight into a different way of life. I ate far too much. I made some wonderful friends. And, what’s best of all, now more women will have the benefit of Hypnobirthing and, what’s even more important, their babies will too.
I would love to go back.