"You should really teach hypnobirthing" my Midwife said to me moments after I'd given birth to my little girl, Millie. In spite of Millie's size at birth (she weighed a mighty 10lbs!) and the Midwife exclaiming she was the longest baby she had delivered (in her 16 years on the job!), my labour was calm, relaxed and empowering.
During my labour, I zoned into my own little "bubble" and it amazed me, even at the time, how my body instinctively knew what to do. Everything that hypnobirthing had taught me; from how to trust my body and my baby, to how to effectively let go of fear, to the importance of having a relaxed and positive pregnancy, really paid off.
I'll be 100% honest, I was as sceptical as you may be about hypnobirthing (mainly due to the word"hypnobirthing"itself and the hippy connotations it conjures up), however, upon hearing an incredible birth story from a friend (starkly contrasted by every other birth story being SO negative, dramatic and traumatic), I thought I had nothing to lose by finding out some more.
I knew I really wanted to do all I could to give my baby a calm entrance into the world. I'd grown up hearing about my Mum's incredible water birth with my younger brother, which was in contrast to my own arrival a few years earlier; a traumatic emergency C-Section. Before being pregnant, I had always just assumed I would need a C-Section as this is how I entered the world after all. However, before and during my pregnancy, I had a massive phobia of needles (I was that person who would faint after/during a blood test!), so I was pretty terrified by what I was seeing on TV, where women are always being hooked up to drips and screaming in pain. For me, the idea of an epidural, a drip, forceps, ventous or surgery were beyond terrifying due to my fear of needles etc, so I wanted to do whatever I could to avoid all of the above - so I figured I didn't have much to lose by looking into this mysterious hypnobirthing some more.
I pretty much spent the third trimester of my pregnancy reading, reading and reading...I started with The Hypnobirthing Book by Katharine Graves, which led me to Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, and then I was on to The Positive Birth Book by Milli Hill.. and this was all in the space of a week! Many more followed and it's fair to say I'd become totally obsessed by all things hypnobirthing. The difference it was making to my mindset was incredible - I went from dreading giving birth, to being quietly excited and confident in my body and baby.
As I swotted up and listened to my Hypnobirthing MP3s daily, I tried my best to get my sceptical birth partner, (my husband, James), to practice the techniques I truly hoped would "work" when it came to labour. I was hopeful, but had no idea if I was doing it "right". I was looking to take a hypnobirthing course at this point, but I couldn't find one within the right price point in my local area.
My due date of Monday 2nd October 2017 came and went and there was no real sign that anything was imminent. I was getting frustrated by this point by the typical "any news" messages and was trying to keep busy by walking a lot, bouncing on the yoga ball and by doing far too much online shopping!
On the evening of Thursday 5th October, after dinner I had a real urge to go for an evening walk. I opened the front door and I'll never forget seeing the most incredible, glowing full moon in the sky (it was a Super Harvest Moon). I remembered at that moment from a Midwife appointment hearing that lots of babies are born either on a full moon or after thunderstorms, so I was certainly hopeful that things might get going!
Cut to.... 1.35am in the morning of Friday 6th October and I woke up James to tell him that I was wetting the bed...to which he quite logically replied "uhh, are you sure? Don't you think it's your waters!?" I just didn't think I would go into labour with my waters breaking (as this only happens to 1/10 of women, despite waters always breaking to signify labour starting in films/on TV!)
We went to the toilet and the water kept on coming... so this was it! We were both so excited! James called the Birth Centre and spoke to a Midwife who told us to wait for contractions to start, and she said if they hadn't, to come in to the hospital to be checked the next morning. She told us to try to get some rest in the meantime.
Around five minutes after this phone call, the first surge came. It was like an intense period pain cramp, which then went away after about 30 seconds. I switched on the TENS machine and quickly adopted an all fours position (which I would pretty much remain in for the rest of my labour!) I was listening to my Hypnobirthing tracks, and went very quickly and naturally into my own little bubble - focussing on my breathing and visualising my cervix thinning and opening. I found pressing the "Boost" button on the TENS machine really helpful to help me during each surge.
James was amazing helping me through my surges as they got more intense, keeping me calm and preparing the bags. It got to around 5am and I wanted to go to the hospital by this point, however James knew that the longer we were at home the better (so that we could avoid being sent back home). We agreed to order our cab for 6am, and just before we set off, James made sure I ate a piece of toast (which was a great idea as it gave me the energy I needed for the rest of my labour!)
The cab came and I plugged in my headphones and still connected to the TENS machine, I calmly dealt with each surge as we drove through London to the Birth Centre. I was listening to a voice recording of myself speaking a visualisation of labour - it helped HUGELY at keeping me calm and relaxed.
We arrived at the Birth Centre and James did all the talking with the Midwives whilst I carried on labouring in my birth bubble. I was so happy to see that the Birth Centre was very quiet when we got there and we were shown straight to a big room with a birthing pool. My Midwives totally respected that I was using hypnobirthing and only spoke to me when I was in between a surge. As the birthing pool was being filled up, I was examined and told I was 4cm dilated and in active labour.
I got in the birthing pool at around 8am and labour progressed really well. I have always loved water and found it especially relaxing during pregnancy. Being in the water in labour was just amazing - I was pleasantly surprised by how lovely and hot the water was, and I was still able to be in an all fours position in the pool, while holding on to two rails and facing James. The Midwives were monitoring my dilation and baby's heartbeat from behind me. I was so focused on my body and James that I really didn't even notice the two Midwives were there! James was encouraging me with the calm breathing techniques, visualisations and making me laugh - it was a very chilled out atmosphere which helped labour to progress smoothly.
As transition set in during the final stages of dilation, I told James I couldn't do it anymore and asked him to order an Uber! He kept telling me I could, that I was safe and reminded me how close we were to meeting our baby. Transition lasted about 10 minutes and I was then ready to push! I started off in the water, however Millie's head kept coming down the birth canal, but then popping back up. This is quite normal, however after an hour the Midwives suggested I get out the pool to use the toilet to see if that could help (as a full bladder can get in the way).
I was unable to do a wee as Millie was already so far down the birth canal, so I had my bladder emptied with a catheter. After this, although I wanted to deliver in the pool, I didn't then fancy climbing back into the birthing pool as her head was so low, so at this point I went to the bed which was in the corner of the room.
As we went into the second hour of pushing, my surges - which had been giving me an intense, irresistible urge to push - were wearing off, and at the same time, my energy levels were dropping as labour really is a workout! I tried various positions on the bed, and at some point, our Midwife told James that after two hours of pushing, hospital protocol would mean I would be transferred to the Labour Ward for potential assistance with the delivery. When the Midwives told James about this cut off point (they thankfully did not tell me this info!), he then realised he needed to really encourage me!
At this time, James could already see Millie's head as she was crowning, and I have never heard such passion in his voice or desire in his eyes when he was encouraging me to push! It was James's encouragement that gave me the final burst of energy I needed to push Millie out. I wouldn't have been able to do it without him - we really did it together and it was the most magical, incredible and bonding experience to have gone through. James is the first to say that all the tools he had from hypnobirthing made all the difference to him going from not feeling like he had a role in labour, to in fact playing such a big part in Millie's birth.
Millie entered the world at 12.08pm (our cut off point for an assisted delivery 12.15pm!) Our Midwife exclaimed she was the longest baby she had ever delivered (and she'd been a Midwife for 16 years!)
Millie didn't cry straight away when she was born; she entered the world really calm and alert - I'll never forget how her eyes were darting all around as she rested her head on my chest for the first time. James cut the umbilical cord after it had stopped pulsating (this ensured that an additional 30% of blood was passed from the placenta to Millie).
The next thing to happen was for my placenta to be delivered.... or not!
After a couple of hours of trying different methods to remove my placenta, we all agreed the best thing was for me have it removed surgically.
It was during this unexpected turn in the third & final stage of my labour that I saw, once again, how beneficial hypnobirthing skills are, as I had gone from having a natural, drug-free delivery to being in surgery in what felt like the blink of an eye. It could have been the cause for a major panic on my part, for as you'll remember, my biggest fear was having to have a surgical procedure, however thanks to hypnobirthing, I remained calm throughout the surgery, content that Millie had the calm and gentle entrance into the world that I so deeply wanted for her, and I knew all the questions to ask before & during the surgery too (thanks to the BRAIN tool we cover in the course!)
As I wrote at the top of this introduction, it was the staff at the hospital where I gave birth to Millie who were the ones who first put the idea of me teaching hypnobirthing in my head, and it was the thing I kept coming back to over and over. I've always been fascinated by childbirth, and following my experience, I couldn't shake this drive to swat up even more and share everything hypnobirthing has to offer with others, in an attempt to help others parents to have a positive birth experience.
I am qualified to teach the KG Hypnobirthing course and I have also completed further training with The Yes Mum Birth Project and the Birth Bliss Academy.
The syllabus I teach is extremely modern, interactive and thorough, and I can't wait to share it with you!
I have always loved guiding, advising and consulting - having had a career in International Television, and having tutored French before that. More than anything, I love making a positive difference to people's experiences and sharing knowledge.
So if you're still here, I'd like to sum up by saying that no birth is perfect, but I do believe most births can be positive. Invest and prepare for your birth, it's a story that will be with you forever, and I hope it'll also be a positive one!