I chose to explore hypnobirthing because, like so many people, my first experience of labour was pretty terrifying and I knew as soon as I found out I was pregnant that I wanted things to be different this time around. My son’s birth six years ago, while relatively straightforward, left me feeling frightened and bewildered. I realised, after talking with my partner Gary, that I was holding on to a lot of negativity: resentment, shame, fear and disappointment. I felt I deserved a new, positive perspective on my imminent birth so we booked on to a one-to-one intensive course with Christy when I was 35 weeks pregnant. From the comfort and privacy of our own sofa, Christy introduced us to the basics of hypnobirthing and discussed in depth my thoughts, fears and hopes, taking into account my circumstances and previous experiences. Everything changed from that point on and I continue to benefit from what I learned with Christy.
After meeting with Christy, I quickly got into the habit of listening to my affirmations and meditations every single day. The last month of my pregnancy was utterly blissful as, every night, I treated myself to a calm, candle-lit bath in which I would meditate and visualise my perfect birth. I read and re-read Suzy Ashworth’s fantastic book, The Calm Birth School and tried to put into practice everything I read. I wanted this to work so I did my ‘homework’ diligently and even made Gary complete some of the tasks with me! I found my rhetoric and perspective changed and my friends and family commented on how much more positive and calm I had become. I quickly started to look forward to the birth of my baby and was excited to see how my birthing body would carry us through. Gary was wholly supportive and encouraged me to enter into the hypnobirthing frame of mind 110% (he became quite the convert!). Hypnobirthing equipped me with the tools I needed to stay calm, informed and empowered through the last weeks of my pregnancy.
I had expected my baby to arrive a little early so when I got to my EDD I was a little bemused. My midwife had mentioned sweeps and induction but I just kept calm and told myself that my birthing body would do what it needed to do. On the evening of my EDD I cracked open the clary sage oil, listened to my mp3s and happily bounced on my ball. I went to bed feeling calm. Next morning, I stayed in bed and Gary gave me a long, relaxing massage to keep the oxytocin flowing. Suddenly I heard a ‘POP!’ and sure enough, my waters released. I was so excited but Gary reminded me to stay calm and focused so I got back into bed and listened to my mp3s. We had a slow, gentle day together watching boxsets and eating chocolate while bouncing on my ball. We did everything at our own pace and there was no sense of panic. I rang the hospital in the afternoon and was advised to go in for a check. I had only the gentlest of cramps and knew I had a long journey ahead of me but kept calm and felt overwhelmingly positive.
When we got to the hospital they quickly told me that there appeared to be meconium in my waters, that I would need to be continuously monitored and that I would have to stay in the hospital instead of go home. Hypnobirthing helped me to quickly accept these changes and focus on staying calm and maintaining the oxytocin levels we had been building all day. By 7pm the cramps had turned to very mild surges. I breathed through them with Gary’s help and the mp3s and I actually ENJOYED them! My visualisations were so powerful and clear that I forgot where I was for long periods of time and before I knew it I was walking (waddling) down to the delivery room. At 8pm I was examined (the one and only time) and told I was 3cm dilated. The doctor was concerned about the meconium and told me that if I didn’t make ‘sufficient progress’ by midnight I would be ‘put’ on the hormone drip. I was also informed that I would not be able to have the water-birth I had so looked forward to. My positivity wobbled slightly at this point but Gary was brilliant, saying that we would review the situation and make an informed decision when WE were ready. He helped me to re-focus on my breathing and I quickly resumed my position on the bed because, despite thinking I’d want to be in a more ‘natural’ position, I was actually most comfortable on the bed.
It was at this point that things started. Gary kept the room quiet and dark while my wonderful midwife Angela kept her distance and respected our desire for privacy and intimacy. The surges came thick and fast from that point on and my visualisations started to change from gentle waves lapping at my legs as I stood in the warm sea, to huge waves crashing over me and sweeping me momentarily off my feet. It was so incredibly intense - much more so than with my first son’s labour - but this time I felt much more in control and I wasn’t frightened. I suddenly started to feel the urge to push and told Angela that “something was happening in my vagina”. She laughed and told me that of course something was happening - I was in the middle of labour! But surely it was too soon to be needing to push? I focused again on my breathing (which was fast and heavy but a rhythmic 1:3) and was vaguely aware of Gary and Angela talking quietly in the corner. It had only been an hour - was something wrong? But Gary returned and told me that Baby’s head was crowning and that I needed to focus all of my energies on breathing the baby out. I couldn’t believe things had moved so quickly!! I became momentarily overexcited and frightened and euphoric and panicked - adrenaline was kicking in. At this point the surges were huge and overpowering so I asked for gas and air to help me slow down, ‘re-set’ my thoughts and face this intense final stage as calmly as possible. After only 73 minutes of labour, three glorious pushes (I REALLY loved this stage and felt so powerful, like I could achieve ANYTHING) and some pretty impressive ‘verbalisations’ my beautiful baby came gently tumbling into the world. I have never known euphoria like it. Angela understood our desire to delay weighing him and cutting the cord until I felt we were both ready and we spent the next four hours enjoying blissful skin-to-skin and staring into each other’s eyes. He was so calm and content and I felt phenomenal. I had a slight tear as things had happened so fast but I was stitched up quickly while our beautiful boy latched on and we enjoyed those incredible first moments together.
Jannik was born at 21:13 on 29th April 2018, weighing 7lbs exactly. You can see from my face how incredibly happy I felt! Hypnobirthing changed everything and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to experience a positive, empowering birth, because that’s what EVERY mother deserves.
Read more about what hypnobirthing is, what we do here and our upcoming classes & workshops here. We would love to speak to you so feel free to get in contact or come join our facebook group Calm Birth Kent; Birth, Breastfeeding & Beyond!