How My Story Began
I discovered hypnobirthing when I randomly picked up a flyer at a baby event early on in my pregnancy. When I read the flyer, I loved what I was reading. Hypnobirthing sounded like an amazing approach to childbirth, but I was still very sceptical that it would actually work for me ‘there’s no way I would let someone hypnotise me’.
In the following weeks, I read more about hypnobirthing and as I read more, I became less sceptical. I learnt that there would be no hypnosis of the type I imagined – someone swinging a clock in front of me whilst I went into a deep trance! I learned that I’d simply be improving my mindset through relaxation exercises and learning more about labour and childbirth.
I became intrigued and I was keen to find out more.
I figured that I had nothing to lose and potentially a lot to gain, so I spoke to my husband about it and surprisingly, he loved the idea of giving it a try!
The Next Stage…
Fast forward a few months, and my husband and I were due to start a local hypnobirthing course.
There were four other couples on the course and we were all keen to learn. As we were introduced to hypnobirthing, I remember thinking about how simple and logical it all seemed. ‘Why aren’t all birth like this?’
We learnt about childbirth, practised breathing, did partner relaxation activities and thought about the births we all wanted and how we should put a birth plan together. We were all really enjoying it.
It was at week three that I started to worry. I realised we only had one more class to attend and after that, we were on our own. I felt like we just hadn’t had enough practice, especially with the breathing and visualisation exercises.
The materials we had been given to practice at home were poor. We were doing our best and practising whenever we could but we felt like we had no real direction or a plan to stick to.
This left us feeling like we had come a long way but there was something missing. I just didn’t know what it was. My due date was getting closer by the day and time was running out.
My Birth Experience
As a mum who tells all her friends about hypnobirthing and thinks it’s amazing, you would probably expect me to have had the picture-perfect hypnobirthing experience. Most people imagine this as a pain-free, home birth where everything goes perfectly. Well, childbirth was nothing like that for me. Very little went to plan in fact. Here’s how it went for me…
It was a beautiful, sunny day in June; just over a week before my due date when I had my first contraction. I remember feeling very excited and spending the next few hours relaxing at home. I went for a short walk with my husband and we were both feeling great. Later that day, my contractions were still irregular and not very strong. When my waters broke later on that day, we became more excited as we were so close to meeting our baby boy, or so we thought…
After my waters had broken, we gathered our hospital bag and got ourselves ready. We phoned the hospital (we wanted a birth in the midwife-led unit at our local hospital) and they asked us to come in to check how we were getting on.
It turned out that our wriggly little boy had put his foot through my membranes, partially rupturing them. Now that they had partially ruptured, our baby’s infection risk was higher. We knew this, and we also knew the risk was still very small.
The midwife suggested that we waited 24 hours and come back the next day if I did not go into labour.
Wait we did, and nothing changed. We made our way back to the hospital where we faced our first big decision. The midwife suggested it was time to start things off with an induction so that the risk of infection would be reduced.
We knew that induction can dramatically change the experience of labour but after weighing our options up, we decided to proceed with induction via a prostaglandin pessary.
My contractions were still irregular and not much stronger 24 hours later. The next step we took was another prostaglandin pessary. This did the trick and my labour finally became more established.
I was disappointed that induction was needed but I was still feeling calm and positive overall. My hypnobirthing training had been working very well so far.
It was over 48 hours since my waters had broken and even though we did not plan on things happening this way, we were feeling positive. Eventually, my labour progressed to the point where we were taken through to our birth room.
We prepared ourselves mentally for what was about to happen. We prepared our room, put our music on and had some food and snacks. We couldn’t wait to meet our baby.
Unfortunately, things didn’t exactly move along as we expected from this point. Contractions were strong and frequent but my labour was still progressing slowly.
Hours passed by. My body was becoming more and more exhausted and I had now been experiencing contractions of some sort for so long that I didn’t know how much longer I could stay awake.
We then faced our next big decision. My husband could tell how tired I was and as our baby boy didn’t seem to be arriving any time soon, so we took the decision to opt for pain relief. This was not in our ‘plan A’ but we adapted and opted for an epidural. We had already made the decision that we did not want a pethidine injection that can affect the baby.
I must admit, I did feel disappointed that we had deviated from our plan of a natural birth, free of pain relief in a birth pool. On the other hand, I was happy to be able to rest my body and prepare for the next stage of the birth process. My hypnobirthing training was really helping me stay positive and my husband was doing a great job as a birth partner too.
It was the following morning when it was finally time to meet our baby. I entered the second phase of my labour early in the morning after getting plenty of rest thanks to my epidural. The second phase went slowly too. We were prepared for this as I could not feel my surges and I was laying on my back in bed – not the position I wanted to give birth in. I was able to stay calm and positive throughout the twists and turns of my labour though, and around two hours after the second phase of my labour began, my son Aiden was finally born.
Immediately after Aiden was born, I wondered if I had failed somehow. Could I have done something different to get the birth we wanted? Did we make the right decision when we decided to opt for an induction? Should I have tried to carry on without pain relief?
I played things back in my mind for hours. I remembered how much hypnobirthing had helped me, especially early on. I was able to go through days of contractions and uncertainty in a calm, positive manner. I started to feel more positive and I could clearly see how difficult the experience would have been without hypnobirthing. All that mattered was that I had my beautiful baby boy and we took the best decisions we could have at the time.
It is not possible to control everything that happens to us during labour, but hypnobirthing allows us to make the most of the things we can control.
That is why hypnobirthing is an amazing approach to childbirth.