When I had my first child I had never heard of
hypnobirthing, I didn’t hear about it until I was pregnant with my second
In my first birth I laboured at 3cm dilated for 6 days before the doctors deemed I had ‘failed’ to progress and needed to be induced. I was induced at 12pm (38 weeks’ gestation) my waters broke at 10pm, at 3.24am I was fully dilated and ready to push. My daughter was back to back. I had an epidural because I was exhausted from the days of labouring, and I had had diamorphine, Oramorph, co-codamol and gas and air throughout the week. I was told I could push for an hour before I would need intervention. 57 minutes later I heard my baby’s first cry and it was beautiful. I had two second degree tears that required minor dissolvable stitches. I threw up every colour one can thanks to the medication. She was 7lbs4.5oz and perfect. All in all, it wasn’t too bad, I felt, I expected birth to be horrible, everyone had always told me it would be and that’s just life.
In spite of thinking this was all ok, I found as my next
pregnancy progressed, I became scared of giving birth, I didn’t want to labour
for a week, I didn’t want to be in and out of hospital for so long. All the
pain killers made me fuzzy, I hardly remember the birth of my daughter, I was
tired, scared and heavily medicated, I didn’t want to forget it again either.
Towards the middle of my pregnancy Giovanna Fletcher gave
birth to her third child, both she and her husband posted on social media about
the event and credited hypnobirthing – the word itself put me off, it sounded
like a load of hippy nonsense, but I was terrified of repeating my first birth
and I was ready to try anything. I began researching it and reading, I learnt
there was science behind the information, it was not just oils and hope, it was
fact and reason.
I found the positive birthing company, and read the
background from Siobhan the woman who runs it, her first birth was like mine,
she hypnobirthed for her second and loved it so much she learnt how to teach it
and began her company. Her first birth and her higher education drew me to this
company, I liked knowing she was an educated woman of reason and still
So, I booked the weekend face to face course with the
positive birthing company.
On this course my husband and I learnt how my body worked,
what hormones were needed for labour, what my uterus would do throughout and
the rest of my body. My husband learnt the role of the birthing partner and how
he could help me through.
On this course we were asked to consider how animals give
birth – in the dark, somewhere warm and comfortable, where they feel safe, many
of them sanding up. This was to provoke thought about the manner in which
humans now birth, it suddenly seemed so obviously unnatural to be in a room
full of bright lights and strangers with no comfort.
Hypnobirthing is there to empower women to know how their
birth works, to choose their birth and be in control of what happens to them. I
learnt that no matter what, unless it is life or death, I had the right to ask
questions of my health care providers and say no if I felt something wasn’t
right for me or my baby. I learnt that fear and stress are the biggest enemies
to birth. Well, hospitals make me stressed.
So, I began to plan my home birth, we bought candles to have
dim relaxed lighting, I listened to affirmations and guided relaxation tapes
and practiced breathing up and out. We read about the importance of gravity in
birth and discussed positive birthing positions such as all fours, standing,
squatting, leaning over something etc.
I had essential oils, lavender to calm me and clary sage to
help my contractions. We bought warm packs, cold packs, plastic sheeting, birth
snacks. By 36 weeks we were ready to go and so excited.
I had been having uncomfortable contractions on and off from
35 weeks, the midwives called it irritable uterus, I worried this was building
to a labour like before but I listened to my relaxation, I focused on my goal
birth and I prepared myself.
As it was my second baby my local midwife offered a sweep at
38 weeks, I thought about this and as my baby was measuring big, and I was very
uncomfortable from the Braxton hicks I decided it was best to have the sweep.
At 38+1 I went for a sweep at 3pm, it was shocking and
unpleasant but not painful. I knew I had to keep moving so I went to the
supermarket and did the shop. My husband worked in London during the week but
as it was almost Christmas (20th December) and I was having my sweep
I asked him to come home early that week, he arrived home at 5pm. I was having
mild contractions but nothing new and we didn’t trust it was real after our
week-long disappointment the first time round.
We ordered an Indian takeaway and put our daughter to bed at
7pm with my mum on standby to pick her up if anything happened. We ate our
curry and watched RuPaul’s drag race, I was having period cramps and mild
contractions, I decided to sit on my birthing ball and start timing my
contractions, they were quite long and close together though I can’t remember
precisely the times and lengths now. We decided it might be real but waited a
Eventually I was unable to talk through my contractions
anymore and knew I needed to call the midwife, at 11pm we called her. My
husband began setting up the candles, oils, plastic sheets, towels and snacks
and I lay on my side on the sofa, so I didn’t slow the progress but could have
a rest, in this rest my waters broke, a big gush all over our sofa, this was at
11.20pm and was followed by a very strong contraction. I stood in our kitchen,
so I didn’t ruin the carpet, took off my trousers and called my mum to let her
know we might need her.
My husband cleaned the sofa and I wandered around breathing
through my contractions. At this point I was ready for some gas and air.
The midwife arrived at 1130, I was kneeling on the floor
leaning against the sofa, I was thrilled for the gas and air and it helped me
keep my breathing calm. I could feel what my body was doing, and I was excited.
The midwife did an internal exam and I was 5cm already, we couldn’t believe I
had progressed so quickly from mild contractions at 7pm.
She sat back and set up her things whilst letting me get on
with it, I was focussed and coping well, every so often she used the doppler to
listen to my baby’s heart, but she did this around me, so I was not disturbed.
At 12am I struggled with keeping my breathing, I shouted
through my contractions quite audibly and woke my daughter. My husband called
my mum and she arrived at 12.30am to collect her.
At this point I demanded to be taken to hospital and have an
epidural, I was reassured I could do it ‘I know I can do it, but I don’t want
to’ I told everyone. I realised after, that this period of panic was actually
the transition between dilating and pushing.
I felt my body begin to bare down at around 12.45, it was
not something I could’ve stopped if I tried, my body took over and it was all
consuming. During contractions I was quiet, focused and didn’t need the gas and
air at this point. I could feel my baby moving down, it was an incredible
Finally, at 1.31am I birthed my son, at home, having
progressed on my own, with minimal pain relief. He got stuck on the way out,
his shoulder got stuck on my pelvis so right at the end I had to be lying on my
back so the midwives could help get him out, he was startled and didn’t breath
straight away but they rubbed him down and he started, it was laboured so it
was decided it would be best to check him in hospital. I delivered my placenta
naturally, was checked over and with not a single tear or scratch I got to go
and join my son at the hospital. I was immediately able to get up, dress myself
and walk the three flights of stairs down and out of my building.
Hypnobirthing taught me about my body, gave me confidence,
and helped me to have the calm, and happy birth I wanted. I could never have
done it without the tools my hypnobirthing course gave me, because it also
prepared me to deal with the unexpected turn at the end.
Hypnobirthing is not for one kind of birth, it can help you
remain calm when your birth doesn’t go to plan and make informed choices when
faced with induction or C-section. Even an unplanned C-section can be calm, you
can have your music and dimmed lighting and if baby is well, he or she can be
brought straight to you for a moment of skin to skin.
My husband and I have two children now and we do not want
any more, but if we did, I would be so excited to give birth again, I loved my
second birth and I recommend hypnobirthing to every pregnant woman I know now.
I birthed a 9lb baby with less pain relief, more joy and
less tearing than a 7lb4.5oz baby thanks to hypnobirthing.