I have always only thought positively about what my births would be. I am surrounded by a cascade of medical interventions and hospital births as part of my job as a neonatal nurse, this medical picture of birth is my everyday. However I knew that this was not how I wanted to birth my babies. I knew I wanted something else but wasn’t sure what that was. Don’t get me wrong, I did worry and was concerned enough that things might “go wrong” that I choose to have my birth in a hospital, but I was determined to labor my way, safely, with as little intervention as possible.
I heard about Hypnobirthing when I was first pregnant, the idea that we could put ourselves in control of our birth and that breathing, relaxation, visualisation and the power of positive thinking would enhance our delivery seemed right up our street. This was what I had been looking for, now I had a name for it. HYPNOBIRTHING. Having the support of my partner in the role of “gatekeeper” throughout, protecting my birthing space & advocating for us when I was otherwise engaged, really appealed to me. “We are in this together”, we can do this.
This was back in 2008 & hypnobirthing was not as visible as it is today. I looked into Hypnobirthing and discovered that we could go on a course, so Chris & I signed up to a weekend course. It was everything we had hoped & we left feeling more confident & relaxed about our labor & delivery. We discovered the power of breathing, positive imagery and relaxation & Chris became familiar with the process of birth & how he could advocate for the birth we wanted & protect our environment.
I was excited and tried to share this with my colleagues but a lot of them thought I was naive & that it was unrealistic to think that I could birth my baby without intervention and pain relief. I stubbornly ignored them & continued to share my views & quietly got on with being pregnant. We listened to the CD, practiced guided imagery, wrote our script & waited, not very patiently, for our baby to arrive.
Because of what I do I was nervous about going over my “due date” so had agreed with my midwife to have a sweep on my due date. I had this with no noticeable effect. So we booked another for 6 days later. On Monday 21 July 2008, we caught the tube to the hospital, with just my handbag.
We were expecting to just have a sweep & then go home…
I was examined by a Dr & told that I was 3cm dilated, really, did that mean I was in labor & didn’t know it? I was given another sweep, which was VERY uncomfortable, and told that I was going to be admitted when a bed became available. How exciting, today we were having our baby.
Chris went back home to get our things & I went for a walk along the South Bank. Some time between walking & getting a bed my contractions started, quietly. I was confident in my breathing & had been listening to my CD and practicing my relaxation but I really wanted Chris with me.
I walked into the hospital at 12ish, was introduced to my midwife and settled into my room. I turned off the lights moved all the unnecessary equipment out of the way, drew the curtain around the resucitaire & kept moving around the room. All the while my contractions were continuing, but they were nothing I couldn’t handle. When Chris arrived back with all our things I was in the bathroom, in the dark focusing on my breathing.
At some point it became necessary for me to have continual monitoring, my midwife was great, still letting me move around & position myself where I felt comfortable. She never interrupted me to “assess” me or tell me to get on the bed. This allowed me to focus on my breathing & use the hypnobirthing techniques to relax and stay calm. This gave me confidence & kept the atmosphere in the room relaxed and I felt safe & supported. In the end I was most comfortable kneeling on the bed, resting between contractions. The time between contractions didn’t seem long at all. And then 4 hours and 45 mins later after not much pushing, but a very memorable “Ring of Fire” Fin was born. I helped to pull him out (catch him as he fell out with the help of gravity) and then held him skin-to-skin, uninterrupted.
AMAZING. He was here! Weighing 3.4kgs. Love him.
I can honestly say I loved every second of his birth (I know, my labor was relatively quick). I was able to have him with no pain relief (not even a paracetemol), have skin to skin straight away, establish breastfeeding & go home 6 hours after he was born. At no stage was I scared of the pain (this was true throughout my pregnancy) I knew what that pain was and what it meant and that it was bringing my baby closer to me. I have no doubt that my amazing labor & delivery was directly related to the skills & confidence I had in my body’s abilities that I gained from hypnobirthing & I don’t hesitate to share this with anyone who will listen (and those that don’t).