Here’s my story……
My journey to HypnoBirthing essentially started with my first birth. My first pregnancy had been very smooth running until I was 38 weeks pregnant when it took a tumble – literally. At a coffee shop I fractured my ankle, was in a plaster cast for a week, then a moon boot and crutches for 6 weeks. I was shattered and thought the natural birth I had planned was now never going to happen.
One day after my due date I went into labour. I spent many hours in the bath at the hospital and focused on my breathing. I had read the HypnoBirthing book so I was attempting to implement the techniques I had read about. I didn’t want to use drugs for the birth, but I decided to cut myself some slack due to my ankle, so I used some gas at 7cm dilated. Our midwife, Vanessa, was magical. She supported my aim to try for a natural birth and always said the right things at the right time to help me through the next hurdle.
Unfortunately my obstetrician had gastro and wasn’t able to make the delivery, so we had her partner instead. I ended up in bed and with my legs in stirrups – not what I had planned but tricky considering my ankle. I pushed for 2 hours and reluctantly agreed to some syntocin to make my contractions more intense. The obstetrician would say “keep it coming, keep it coming, keep it coming” as she wanted three big pushes for each contraction. I just didn’t have it. In hindsight, I think labour was resting. I should have rested with it and not force pushed. But we trust the professionals and their experience as we’ve never birthed before and perhaps don’t have the faith in ourselves. With the aid of the ventouse and an episiotomy our baby Emily was born. Although I lost 1L of blood, I delivered my placenta naturally (and I had it encapsulated) and so with only the aid of a little gas, I achieved a natural birth despite having a fractured ankle.
I was fairly happy with the birth but I wanted to go the next step with the second child. I wanted a home, water birth and neither of these could be achieved through the private system that I was aware of. In the public system, with the Northern Area Midwifery Group Practice through the Lyell McEwin Hospital I was placed under the guidance of two lovely midwives, Bernadette, my back up Betty, and a wonderful student midwife Amber.
Doing the HypnoBirthing course at the 4 month mark played an important role in my growing confidence. For example, after having done research and talking with Bernadette, I declined the glucose test and the Strep B test.
My gay best friend, Josh, was my partner at the HypnoBirthing course. This way we didn’t have to find a baby sitter for Emily (as Glen my husband stayed home). Josh also meditates and goes on retreats so I thought he’d be a supporter of the techniques, and being gay, he might never get to be present at a birth. Doing the course was so much more valuable than just reading the book. You get to ask questions, watch videos, discuss the psychology behind such things as the fear-tension-pain syndrome, and being over 5 weeks, you get a chance to grow in confidence. I started to believe I could really do this at home, although I was worried that I’d need the ventouse again. When exploring my fears to release in class, I reflected on the fact that although the obstetricians/midwives are qualified medical professionals, it is ME that is the most qualified person to birth my baby. Nobody else. It’s my body and my baby and although they have experience at births, and I am so glad that they are there for emergencies, they have never birthed MY baby, so I have to trust that my body knows best. Once I made that mental shift, I calmly and confidently planned my homebirth.
After my yoga class, two days after my due date, I felt surges at 10pm. We went to bed at 11pm and I slept and breathed through surges until 3am. We called for the midwives to arrive at 5:30 and my support crew came at 7am. My mum and dad also came for the birth as they were in charge of looking after Emily during the day. They were initially very skeptical about the home birth, but after I explained what I’d learnt from HypnoBirthing, they too were convinced and very supportive.
Due to my new confidence from the course, I requested no internal vaginal examinations to be conducted on the day. I felt that it didn’t matter how many centimeters dilated I was, my body would know what to do, I just had to keep breathing. During surges while in the pool, I would try and breathe in for a count of 20 and out for 20, Josh would tell me to relax my shoulders which I would tense every time – you think I’d learn! He kept talking me through them by talking about being limp, slow breaths, imagining filling a balloon – all techniques we had practiced in class. Although I thought I’d stay in the zone in between surges and stay fully focused on the affirmations in the background, we all ended up chatting and laughing as the morning went on. Glen was also very supportive by maintaining the water temperature at 37 degrees, being chief photographer and videographer, helping me to and from the toilet, and giving me cuddles when I had a little cry that it was really hard work.
The second midwife technically only needs to be present for the birth, so it was up to me to let Bernadette know when we should call for her. It’s a strange concept because nobody knows how long labour is going to take! However during two strong surges I remember having the thought “I think they should call the second midwife now”. This turned out to be about 45 minutes before Ewan was born. As you can see from the video, Gill (Betty was not on shift that day) arrived only about 20 minutes before the birth.
I could write about so many more details about the birth, but I think the video I made, and the summary my dad wrote, nicely summarise the day. In terms of the impact HypnoBirthing had on me, I can’t recommend doing the course enough. As my wonderful practitioner, Amber Owen, said, most of us spend thousands of dollars and an enormous amount of time planning our weddings, so it makes sense to spend the money and the time to plan the birth of our children. I now also use the breathing techniques (in for 4, out for 8) to help me relax and go to sleep quicker when I’m having a nap while Ewan sleeps!
Whether you have a caesarean or a natural birth, HypnoBirthing teaches you to feel in control of the choices you make. That way you will look back on your birthing experience positively as you owned the decisions.
The birth of Ewan was exactly what I wanted. It was beautiful, especially having my family there (including my daughter, my parents, and my sister on Skype in New York!). The one word that summarises how I felt after the birth was empowered. I did it. No coaching from anybody else.
No ventouse. No episiotomy (a slight tear but no stitches required). I trusted my body and rode the waves of each surge. And when it came time for the second ‘pushing’ stage, by following my body’s natural expulsive reflex, Ewan was born in about 2 surges or 5 minutes! Not two hours like last time. I had such a positive experience from the birth that although our family is complete with our two children, I would love to give birth again. To be able to walk away from that experience and want to go through it again, that’s pretty high praise for what HypnoBirthing teaches in my opinion.