The Birth of Matthew using Hypnobirthing
This is my very own Hypnobirthing birth story.
For me, Hypnobirthing was a complete game changer. Even though things didn't exactly go according to plan on the day I gave birth, I had the most amazing experience thanks to the powerful techniques I learned.
Hypnobirthing helped me to stay calm, relaxed and fully in control - which is no mean feat for a self confessed control freak! So, grab yourself a brew and let me tell you all about my incredible birth story...
Hopes for my second birth
I had a really difficult first birth. I agreed to an induction, but in all honesty, I was not properly prepared for what this would be like. I hadn't done a Hypnobirthing course (or any antenatal course for that matter) so I had no clue about my options or what was actually involved in an induction of labour.
So, when I discovered I was pregnant for the second time, I knew I wanted my birth to be very different and induction was something I wanted to avoid.
I found the wonderful Jess at Positively Pregnant and jumped at the chance to join one of her award winning Hypnobirthing courses.
After completing the course, I planned a home water birth with minimal medical interventions.
Preparing for Labour
After my Hypnobirthing course, I spent the rest of my pregnancy practising my techniques, listening to my MP3 tracks, reading my affirmations and spending time visualising my birth.
If I needed some more research, evidence or advice on a certain topic, Jess was there for me. This was such invaluable support to have and it was reassuring to know I had an expert in my corner to discuss things with.
I worked together with my birthing partner to pull together my 3 birth plans. I had my
Plan A - dreamy home birth
Plan B - back up in case I couldn't birth at home for any reason
Plan C - my c section plan
Planning for all eventualities and looking into all of my birthing options really gave me such a sense of confidence. I knew no matter what that my amazing Hypnobirthing techniques would be there for me - whether I ended up with my plan A, B or C birth I felt really confident going into birth.
I had also built up such a strong sense of trust in my body to birth my baby and even started to feel excited!
The Big Day Arrives
Fast forward to 40 weeks - at around 9pm, I started having what I can only describe as mild period cramps that didn't seem to be going away. I asked my husband to get me a hot water bottle and said I thought things were 'happening'.
I decided to get some sleep, knowing I would need my energy for the rest of labour.
At around 3am, I started feeling really restless. I needed to get up and walk! So I paced around and around my kitchen island, eating toast, with my 'period' type cramps still coming every so often. I knew I was in labour and felt a bit giddy - I was so excited to meet my baby! I managed to go back to sleep at around 5am and managed another few hours rest. When I woke later that morning, the 'period' cramps were still there, but they had no regular pattern to them. I decided to have a hot bath and watch a comedy on Netflix to boost my feel good labour hormones. I was able to laugh through my twinges at this point. My community midwife was due to come out to my house anyway that day for an appointment and when she arrived, I told her I was in the early stages of labour.
As she did her usual checks, I practiced my calm breathing techniques.
As she took my blood pressure she sighed, "Oh Emma."
I knew it was bad news, but stayed relaxed.
Sadly, my blood pressure was quite high and I could feel my homebirth slipping away...
Staying Calm and Focused with Hypnobirthing Techniques
It's at this point that the 'old me' would have started to freak out.
But amazingly, I managed to stay fully calm. This really surprised me as I'm usually someone who can spiral quite rapidly with anxiety/worry/fear/upset. I can only put this down to Hypnobirthing and the deep mindset work I had done in pregnancy.
I worked through my B.R.A.I.N decision tool & decided I would make my own way into the RVI hospital. This is where my previous difficult birth has been but I was still remarkably calm despite my beautiful homebirth going completely out of the window.
The midwife left and I quickly ate lunch. I could feel my cramps ramping up in intensity, coming in waves like strong period pains. I sharply told my husband that we needed to go to hospital now. The car ride to the hospital was difficult as my sensations became stronger. I also started timing my contractions on the Freya app.
To make the car journey more comfortable, I kept my eyes closed and listened to a calming Hypnobirthing MP3 which was an amazing distraction. The MP3 track really helped me to focus inwards and breathe through my surges. Getting out of the car at the hospital was a huge relief! I found that my contractions were so much more comfortable and manageable when I had freedom of movement. My contractions were now coming at pretty regular intervals. I could feel them starting, building, rising and falling. Still very very similar to period pains and not what I would describe as 'painful'.
I stayed upright and really enjoyed swaying from side to side with my eyes closed. I had my happy music playlist on and found it relatively easily to breathe through my surges.
A student midwife suggested I switch the Freya app off and stop timing things. I actually found this so helpful! Rather than focusing on my contractions, I could fully let my body do it's thing.
Sadly, my blood pressure was still high.
I had a discussion with a midwife and doctor about next steps. I used my Hypnobirthing decision making B.R.A.I.N. tool and, after a vaginal examination, I made the decision to go to labour ward, still feeling calm and in control. (Full disclosure here - I do feel like looking back that this conversation with my care providers was coercive. I 'consented' to a vaginal examination but I didn't feel like I had a choice. Being in a hospital setting, I do feel like I lost my autonomy at this point and felt like I had to comply. I've made the decision to keep this part of my story in as I want you to know that you always have a choice when it comes to vaginal examinations. You can always say no.) When I arrived on the labour ward, the room I was put in was extremely bleak, clinical and bright- the complete opposite to the cosy homebirth environment I had planned. But rather than spiraling into fear mode, I took some deep breathes and declared 'right! Let's get this room looking a bit nicer' and started getting my candles, room spray and aromatherapy roll on out. I knew from my Hypnobirthing course that my birth environment was really important to help labour progress.
By this point, things had really ramped up with my surges and I had a LOT of pressure in my lover back. I stripped my clothes off and sat under the shower, with the water running down my back. This really helped me to manage the pain.
This is when I noticed that my surges had changed. I was starting to zone out when they were rising and felt like I was going into 'another world'. I couldn't speak at all whilst I was having a contraction.
Once the surges ebbed away, it was like being snapped back into reality, fully conscious and alert. The shower, my own music, breathing techniques and cuddles with my husband really helped me at this stage.
I was still very calm. My blood pressure was taken again on labour ward and it had come right back down to within a normal range. I couldn't believe it if I'm honest!
The consultant came into the room and the next thing he said took me by complete surprise...
"I can see from your birth plans that you were planning a homebirth. As your blood pressure has come down, I'm happy for you to go back home" I was completely gob smacked. I asked for more time to think and he left the room. I knew from the sensations I was feeling that I wouldn't make it home in time. I used my B.R.A.I.N decision tool again and after chatting to my husband, I decided to ask the consultant if I could go downstairs to the birthing center "Yes, of course" was his response. After packing up my tealights and putting some clothes on, I made my way down to the birthing center, stopping on the way to breathe through my surges.
When we got into the room I had a little cry - from pure relief and happiness. I stripped my clothes off and ran to the shower, my ultimate source of comfort at this stage of labour. I asked my husband to get the midwife to fill the birthing pool as I needed the relief of being submerged in water. Whilst the midwife & my husband prepped the pool/room, I was standing up in the shower, head pushed against the wall with the water running down on my back. The pressure was extremely intense in my lower back and going up onto my tip toes helped. This was all pure instinct- my body led and I followed.
I was starting to moan and become very vocal during my contractions and needed some more relief. I could feel that something had changed as they were now becoming very intense. I told the midwife that I needed gas & air.
This part of my story is uncomfortable for me to write. I was told I would need to have a vaginal examination in order to have gas & air. I would have sold my grandma for some gas & air (sorry grandma) so 'consented' to the check. I have kept this in my story as I want you to know that you do not need a vaginal examination in order to gain access to gas & air.
I did find the examination uncomfortable and I asked not to be told how many cm dilated I was as knew this would dishearten/distract me.
After the examination, I was given the gas and air and got into the birth pool.
My husband had set the room up so beautifully - the only light was coming from my LED candles which were all around the pool. It was exactly how I had imagined my birth space at home.
All of my contractions were still in my lower back and the pressure was very intense.
The only position I felt comfortable in was kneeling with my head hanging over the edge of the pool. I used the gas & air when I needed to and was really zoning out now, focusing deeply inwards. I was repeating mantras to myself in my head and using the self hypnosis techniques I had learned on my Hypnobirthing course:
I can do this I AM doing this During the peak of my contractions I counted to 10 in my head and this massively helped distract me. I had my happy music playing, my husband held my hand and the midwife poured warm water onto my back. When my contractions ended, I felt like I was back in the 'real world', with no pain and could take a breath & grab a drink. The gas & air soon started to make me feel a bit out of it so I immediately stopped sucking it. Then, everything changed.
Welcoming Our Baby
My contractions started to feel 'pushy', until this urge was completely overwhelming. This wasn't something I could control or 'breathe through' either - for me, pushing was instinctive, guttural and very primal. I was literally roaring my baby down and was really vocal! I heard the midwife say something about getting the 'bed ready' and this actually spurred me on loads as I knew it meant my baby was close to being born. My waters broke and 2 contractions later at 8.50pm, my beautiful baby was born. Calmly and gently in the water, just like I'd spent all those month visualising. I scooped my baby up myself and brought him to my chest immediately for skin to skin.
My very own Hypnobirthing baby! I instantly fell in love with my baby and was so proud of my body. I couldn't believe the power and strength I had inside of me all this time to birth my baby naturally.
Hypnobirthing gave me the confidence to find this. My birth was by no means 'perfect'.
It definitely didn't 'go to plan'.
But I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that it was Hypnobirthing that helped me to remain calm and in control despite the obstacles I faced. This is what helped me to have such a positive and powerful experience.
Hypnobirthing changed my life and I knew from the moment I placed my baby on my chest that I had to become a teacher myself.
I truly believe that all birth has the power to be a transformative and empowering experience, even if things don't go quite how you expect them too.
In fact, I think Hypnobirthing is even more powerful when things don't go to plan!
If you would like to learn more about Hypnobirthing, watch my FREE Hypnobirthing masterclass now! I'll show you exactly what Hypnobirthing is and how it can support you to have the most incredible birth. Watch it here