The contractions were entirely manageable
I attended your hypnobirthing workshop in Derby in July and I just wanted to write to tell you how I got on at the birth of my daughter, Aurelia, 5 weeks ago. I really, really enjoyed the workshop and came away enthused about natural childbirth and optimistic about the prospect of being able to have the birth that I had hoped for.
I listened to the Mindful Mamma relaxation CD every day over the following months and my husband, Joe, read the relaxation script to me on a regular basis. I also downloaded some of the extra Mindful Mamma tracks from the internet. I used to really look forward to doing the exercises and found that, over time, I was able to reach a deep state of relaxation very quickly. After listening to a track, I often felt as though I’d had a half-hour nap, so that was rather nice! I had my positive birthing affirmations stuck on my bathroom wall and repeated them to myself multiple times a day.
I also followed your advice around ‘filtering’ the information I digested about labour. I repeatedly stopped people in their tracks when they tried to tell me a birthing horror story and instead, filled my mind with positive birthing tales by reading the stories at the beginning of Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth and a book called ‘Journey into Motherhood: Inspirational Stories of Natural Birth’ by Sheri L. Menelli. I also loved watching hypnobirthing videos on you tube.
So by the time my due date was nearing, I felt well and truly prepared, and confident that I could have the birthing experience I had chosen at the Samuel Johnson Maternity Unit in Lichfield. I went into labour four days early and after a day of experiencing period-like cramps, my contractions became more distinct around 7pm in the evening. I was able to spend the first 12 hours of the labour at home; walking, bouncing on my birthing ball and listening to my relaxation CD in the bath. When we finally went to the Samuel Johnson at 7am, I was 8cms dilated which I was really pleased with. I got into the birthing pool straight away and stayed there, in my ‘zone’, listening to my hypnobirthing tracks for the next 6 hours. Although I had hoped to deliver in the water, I ended up having to get out because my contractions were slowing down and the labour was beginning to drag on a little too long. Eventually my daughter was born on a birthing stool at 12.59pm. This was the only part of the whole process that didn’t go exactly ‘to plan’ but I really can’t complain about that!
The ‘pushing phase’ of the labour was quite difficult and long because she was a decent size (8lbs 15oz) and the umbilical cord was very short which made it harder for her progress down. As the labour went on, I was concerned that baby would get distressed but thankfully, she stayed perfectly chilled throughout. I am convinced that this is because the hypnobirthing techniques helped me to have complete faith in her and my body.
I had wanted to have a completely natural, intervention-free birth and thanks to my hypnobirthing preparations, I was able to do that. I used a variety of different techniques to ride out the contractions including simply counting in my head and out loud, making low guttural moaning sounds and, in the latter stages, the ‘horse lips’ technique suggested by Ina May Gaskin in her book. I may have sounded completely ridiculous (!) but these techniques really, really worked for me as they helped to keep my abdomen and uterus relaxed. I also found that my husband applying counter-pressure in the small of my back was very helpful at times.
When labour was over I was completely and utterly exhausted. I felt as though I had been run over multiple times! I found it to be the most intense experience of my life and I am utterly in awe of the work my body did and the sheer power of the energy that surged through me. I cannot imagine what the experience would have been like for me if I had not attended the Mindful Mamma workshop. There were a couple of moments in the course of the labour where I let negative thoughts creep into my mind and when I lost my way with my techniques. In these moments I felt overwhelmed by the sensations in my body and experienced pain. As soon as I was able to regain my focus and implement my techniques again, I felt in control and the contractions were entirely manageable. So, in short, I think that learning about hypnobirthing was the best decision I made during my pregnancy. It allowed me to have the positive birthing experience that I had hoped for and gave me the skills and techniques to manage the sensations of labour without the need for pain-relief. I am so pleased that my daughter entered the world as nature intended and that I was fully present throughout her arrival.
I also love the fact that hypnobirthing makes the birthing partner an integral part of the process. Joe was an amazing source of support throughout my birth preparations and in labour itself. I think it would have been much harder for him to have known how to support me if he had not also attended the hypnobirthing course and gained an understanding of the philosophy and psychology underpinning the approach.
I am a clinical psychologist like you and at some point in the future, I may consider becoming a hypnobirthing teacher. I certainly feel very enthused about the whole approach and I’ve been trying to spread the word whenever the opportunity arises.
Thanks for delivering such a brilliant course. I have already recommended it to many of my friends.