Words by Sophie
OK so I wanted to level with you. As you know I am a hypnobirthing teacher. I believe utterly and completely in the strength of a woman’s body, your ability to own what ever birth you have and the power of your amazing mind.
I see women enter the room anxious, nervous, and scared and leave feeling POWERFUL, capable, and excited. This is awesome for me, THIS is why I do what I do and it feels incredible.
I wholeheartedly think everyone should have access to hypnobirthing but lots of women (and men) are unsure about it. Unsure what it is, how it would help them or why they NEED extra help if women all over the world birth every day. This is where I totally disagree.
We need things like hypnobirthing to counter act the insane fear mongering and negativity that is rife in our society, the media and our brains when it comes to women’s bodies, their abilities, their roles and birth.
I wasn’t always so sure of my strength. I WAS that unsure woman I speak of (though to be fair I did not know hypnobirthing existed first time around – I wish with all my heart I had!)
I want you to use my story as a cautionary tale. I teach hypnobirthing because I want no woman to feel the way I did. I have learned so much and I want to pass all this and more along to you. My story could have been so different and this is what makes it so hard to take. Even after my positive and empowering birth second time around I still feel the hurt, guilt, confusion, loss of control and total lack of faith when I think about the events around the birth of my beautiful son.
And he is beautiful, he is not scarred by what happened like I am. He is blissfully unaware of how he came into this world. I feel guilty even writing things like this, like one day he will read this and see my comparison between his birth and the birth of his sister. One painful, lonely (even though I had the same birth partners I had second time), tense, frightening, unnecessarily medical. One joyful, strong, instinctive, empowering, supported and totally led by me.
I want to clarify and ease my guilt a little by sharing that I birthed my son into the world and he is literally the best thing that happened to me. He made me a mother, he made me grow up from the aimless 20 year old I was and set me on the path that has enabled me to find my way to here. How he was born in no way lessens the love I have for him, in some ways it made it fiercer, but it did lessen the love I had for myself. Writing this today is bringing all the feeling back up and once I am done I will have to go lie next to him and hug him tight.
This is what makes birth trauma so awful and confusing and lonely. You have a baby, you have this wonderful, incredible little being who you have grown inside your womb. Who has been on this journey with you and has now come earthside. This little being has changed you. There is an amazing quote which I always cry a little when I read.
‘ Making the decision to have a child - it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ‘
― Elizabeth Stone
You have joy, celebration and wonder but you also have this pain, shock and slow growing mistrust in your body that is mixed in.
It was such a confusing time. I did not fully realize exactly how much of what I was feeling was as a result of what had happened. I hated myself, which is harsh but true. I literally felt ashamed of what I was- how my body had changed. I avoided going out in case anyone would see and had huge social anxiety as I just thought everyone would be judging me.
I looked at photos of myself holding my beautiful son and all I could see was me. I felt disgusted at myself, my confidence was rock bottom and I bounced from wanting to starve myself thin to eating a whole bag of cookies in a depressed binge.
Time passes and all those who were caring, talking, and supporting me have to go back to their own lives, the next life event happens and attention is directed elsewhere and all the while behind closed doors my mask slipped and I was not coping.
Anxiety reared its head. One episode I spent two weeks of nights entwining myself round my sons arm while he slept next to me in case a sink hole opened up under the house and he would fall in alone. Crazy I know but this was the up and down cycle I was in.
It contributed to damaging my relationship (luckily not beyond repair) and after a fair bit of time had passed I felt a need to test my body again. I looked around at all these women everywhere birthing positively and resolved that it would be me. I had heard of hypnobirthing now and I knew I wanted to do it. I felt that anxiety and fear rearing its head again whenever I thought about what I would need to do to get my baby and needed to quash this.
Then something amazing happened. I started my course and I felt calm, I felt free. Talking with my partner about what had happened and how I. and he, felt about it had taken a huge weight off my shoulders. I saw that most of what had happened with Felix hadn’t been my fault at all! It had been getting caught in a system I had no idea how to navigate (or even that I would have to navigate). And this was like oxygen to me, I needed to know this and had not even realized that it was not my fault.
I felt like I could totally do it and this feeling grew and grew the more I learned and the more I practiced. The closer I got the more calm and focused I felt and I felt so amazing about my body before I had even birthed Esther.
It was truly the best thing I have ever done. Hypnobirthing changed my life in so many different ways and motivated me to try to be the best version of myself.
Yes I still feel anxious sometimes, I feel fear, I feel down. I have insecurities, I am working on how I feel about my body image but I feel awe and wonder when I think about what I am capable of and I see how well designed I am and how I can do anything I set my mind to.
If you are interested in finding out more we have two of our popular Introduction to Hypnobirthing Workshops in August. One in Whitstable with me (Sophie) and one with Christy in Maidstone. For more information or to book click here. For all the details of our upcoming group courses in Faversham, Margate and Maidstone or to book your place click here.
For more positive birth vibes come and join our facebook group Calm Birth Kent; Birth, Breastfeeding and Beyond!