I entered H-Bear’s pregnancy feeling a combination of elation and terror. I was completely over the moon to be holding a positive pregnancy test in my hands; we had been wanting to increase our family for a few months, but with our wedding on the horizon, we had decided to wait until after our nuptials to take the next step. However, the terror came when it dawned on me that I would have to give birth again, and it caused my anxiety to go into overdrive.
Busby’s labour wasn’t the worst. But due to miscommunications during shift changes, and everybody assuming that because this was my first rodeo, I was a) going to be in labour for hours, and b) being a bit over-dramatic at how painful I was finding everything, I spent a large amount of the birth-giving experience feeling terrified, helpless and completely vulnerable. I was administered pethidine 30 minutes before Busby arrived in the world without being checked and was told: “This is so you can get some sleep, she won’t be here until at least this evening” Consequently, Busby turned purple as I brought her into my arms, and a crash cart had to be called because she’d stopped breathing; no one had checked how dilated I was and the pethidine had stunned her.
It was (understandably) fairly traumatic, and this then had a knock-on effect to an unsuccessful breastfeeding experience, and eventually a diagnosis of Post Natal Depression (PND).
Birth felt like this huge, terrifying mountain that I had to conquer again… and I knew I had to change my mindset for round two, because I was desperate for a positive experience.
After chatting to friends and lots of researching, I began my positive birthing quest. I started by reading Ina May Gaskin’s ‘Guide to Childbirth’, which was a revelation; her words and stories made complete sense to me, and I began to look into hypnobirthing – something I had previously dismissed because it had ‘hippyesque’ connotations and I hadn’t thought it would work for me. I was very wrong.
What is hypnobirthing?
For those of you who haven’t really come across hypnobirthing before, it is ultimately as much a philosophy as it is a technique. It teaches you to enter a birthing zone, a place similar to a daydream, where your sole focus is birthing your baby. A zone where you listen to your body, without interruption. I learnt how to centre myself, to remain focussed on the end goal of holding my baby in my arms. I learnt to trust in my body, after being taught about the physiological nature of birth.
Your birthing partner plays a big role in hypnobirthing, so Nick attended the course with me. He loved it. It gave him a purpose during labour; acting as spokesperson between the midwives and I, meaning that I could focus solely on birthing H-Bear. He had often described his role in Busby’s labour as “like watching a car crash. I had no control over anything and felt so helpless watching you in pain, not knowing how I could help.”
He loved H-Bear’s birth because, not only was I so much more relaxed, he knew what he was supposed to be doing to assist. He’d memorised my birth plan, and I trusted him to act on my behalf so the midwives didn’t interrupt my birthing zone.
When the midwives tried to tell me it wasn’t time to push yet, he whispered: “You know your own body better than anyone else. Do what it’s telling you to do.”
H-Bear’s birth was incredible; established labour only lasted two hours as I was so calm, I didn’t need any pain relief (the thought didn’t even cross my mind), and the moment I guided him into the world with my own hands was euphoric. As the midwives, who were stood in the kitchen watching, said: “You didn’t need us here at all!” Hypnobirthing completely transformed my birthing experience.
For someone who suffers from anxiety issues, I felt calm and in control. I spent most of H-Bear’s labour smiling because I believed in myself – I believed that my body could birth this baby, and knew I was about to meet my son.
Hypnobirthing for Bun’s labour.
After the wonderful experience we had with H-Bear’s birth, we are turning to hypnobirthing again for Bun’s labour. We’re currently attending hypnobirthing refresher sessions, and practising the techniques and scripts.
I’ve been feeling a bit wobbly the past few weeks about giving birth again, but I already feel so much more positive after our first ‘top-up’ class last week. It’s also made everything feel much more real!
We’re planning another home birth for Bun’s labour, but I want to add that hypnobirthing isn’t only for people who are birthing at home. You can use the techniques during labour in hospital (where I think it’s even more important to use them!) – and even during a c-section. Hypnobirthing is an aid to reinforce that you can do this, no matter how you choose to birth your baby. It’s empowering and for me, especially in this pregnancy, it has given me the confidence to take back control of my body from a system where consent is often just assumed.
Did you use hypnobirthing during pregnancy and labour?