I had always been keen on birthing at home but wasn’t going to plan anything for it until after 37 weeks since I knew that many things can change along the way. But I did know straight away that I would do Hypnobirthing as I’d seen time and again how well it works, and felt that I would need help to overcome all the doubts that naturally come with years spent observing all the possible complications and interventions in childbirth. So, Hypnobirthing didn’t need to be sold to me at all! For my husband Warren, it was a bit of a strange concept – he likes things to be quite black & white and like most people, had a preconceived notion that the course would be a rather hippy, woolly experience. Now don’t get me wrong, when we had to practice relaxations in class I don’t think Warren ever got the hang of actually relaxing, but certainly by the end of the first session he was totally converted by the logic of Hypnobirthing.
We set aside time together each night to practice the techniques we felt were right for us. It was amazing just spending that focused time together, which we rarely did in our busy lives, and it was so simple. We also went to sleep each night listening to either a relaxation script or music. I hadn’t felt that the positive birth affirmations were really for me, but at 33 weeks I had a massive crisis of confidence as a potential problem with blood flow from the placenta was picked up during a routine scan. It was a very emotional time, between concern for my unborn baby, the recommendation to now labour in hospital with continuous monitoring of the baby’s heartrate, plus a high possibility of needing induction of labour at any time if the situation worsened.
I was launched into twice weekly visits to hospital for scans and Consultant appointments, and despite very compassionate and expert care, I felt fairly numb about it all. It was very difficult getting my head (& my heart) around going from completely ‘low risk’ to this big change of plan. I wasn’t going to take any chances with the health of my baby, but I felt so out of control of what was going to happen. I remembered about the birth affirmations & started listening to them every day (whilst also panic-buying everything you need for a new baby, since we hadn’t got a thing at that stage!). The birth affirmations were a game-changer for me….in no time at all, I had my confidence back and my head in the right place. I couldn’t control what would happen, but I could control my mind-set and the atmosphere of calm into which I wanted my baby to be born.
We got to 38 weeks with everything staying stable, phew! After much discussion and weighing up, I agreed to induction at this point as there were new indications on scan of increasing risk, and we were booked in for a couple of days’ time. I requested a stretch and sweep, had been having reflexology to encourage natural labour (which is amazing by the way), and basically doing all the tricks I know to get things going on their own! I woke in the early hours of the next morning with mild cramps and went back to sleep. By 10am, things were picking up a bit as we busied ourselves getting things ready at home – despite having nearly 9 months of warning that we were having a baby, we were still putting things away in the nursery and building furniture that day! By 3pm we were making our way into hospital, excited for what was to come & so pleased to have beaten the induction to it!
I used the birth pool, with wireless monitoring of baby’s heartrate and we had our relaxation music and added our own ‘mood lighting’ to the darkened labour room. The monitor itself was turned down so I couldn’t hear it and the midwife kept it out of sight so I couldn’t see it…in fact I wasn’t really aware of being monitored at all. Our midwife, a wonderful colleague of mine to whom I will always be so grateful, was completely supportive and respectful of the environment we were aiming for. I don’t remember us specifically asking her to do anything (in fact I hadn’t even written a birth plan), yet she seemed to instinctively know what I needed. The pool was amazing and I know I used it for many hours although I have no concept of time during my labour…the final part, after my waters released, was incredibly intense but still manageable using only breathing techniques and I was able to remain relaxed and calm even when right at the end my baby’s heart rate was dipping with every push and our midwife stepped in to direct things a little more.
About 11 hours after our initial arrival at hospital but with no need for any pain relief, our beautiful baby boy Walt made his appearance, a pint-sized but healthy 6lb bundle and very content. It was such a tranquil start to our lives together. We had endless skin-to-skin in the hours following birth and I felt so incredibly full of energy and so in awe of what my body had just done! We were all home cwtched up in bed together later that day… I felt, and still feel, that although there were aspects of Walt’s birth that I wouldn’t necessarily have chosen as my ideal, I wouldn’t now change a thing about it. To me it was perfect...
Everything started as expected, with me and my husband spending the first 13 hours at home, which was wonderful and meant I was 6cm dilated by the time we arrived at the birthing centre. The birthing centre had everything set up for a hypnobirth with soft lightning and a pool etc. and I was excited for what was to come. However, it was shortly after arriving here that our plans started changing as I was quickly transferred to hospital due to high blood pressure. I spent around 10 hours in hospital attached to machines, and after several hours of assisted pushing, our little boy was finally born with the help of forceps and an episiotomy.
I am so glad that we did Laura's hypnobirthing course as it really helped both me and my husband to deal with the unexpected. The breathing techniques and visualisations were particularly helpful for me as it enabled me to focus, even with all the distractions of hospital transfers etc. I also managed the surges without any pain relief and only used gas and air for the last few hours, which I put down to the techniques learnt on the course. My husband repeated the affirmations, played relaxing music and used soft stroking techniques throughout. He even asked questions on my behalf when medical interventions (which included a c-section at one point) were discussed.
Drs and midwives commented on how calm we both were throughout the whole experience and even afterwards as our baby was taken to NICU. I feel empowered by the whole experience, despite the interventions, and would definitely do a hypnobirthing course again if I’m lucky enough to have another baby in the future.