“You Can’t Be Overprepared for Your Birth, But You Can Be Underprepared”
HypnoBirthing Practitioner, Natalie Jones Interviews HypnoBirthing Couple Penne & Tim from Melbourne!
What did you find most valuable from the HypnoBirthing International Course?
Penne: The course helped me learn how to relax and switch off (something that I have always struggled with). After a very busy year it was nice to be able to connect with my body and learn relaxation techniques that were not only helpful for labour, but helpful in every day life. Looking back on my labour, the breathing techniques and positive affirmations were definitely the most valuable tool for me and helped me achieve a positive and empowering birth.
Even now on my journey as a new mother, I use the breathing techniques if I find myself feeling overwhelmed or stressed.
Tim: Learning different ways I could support Pen during the labour. It also gave me more of an insight into birth. It was a fantastic way for me to prepare and become an important part of my baby’s journey into the world. I also found it very relaxing and a great opportunity for me to reconnect and unwind. As someone who practised relaxation and visualisation during my teenage years, it was nice to engage in them again.
What did you enjoy most about the course?
Penne: We always looked forward to our sessions with Natalie. They were always so relaxing and left me feeling more connected to my baby and body, as well as to my husband; it was a wonderfully bonding experience for us both!
The sessions were fun, yet informative, invigorating while also relaxing – what more could you want after a busy week at work!
What contributed to your growing confidence in yourself as you approached labour?
Penne: HypnoBirthing helped me grow as a person, increased my confidence and taught me to believe in myself, and my body. Making sure I gave myself the time to slow down, reflect and prepare for the birth of my first child meant I was not only ready, but also excited to experience birth.
Having my favourite affirmations placed on the bathroom mirror helped increase my confidence leading up to the birth, as I would read them every morning and night. ‘Birth should be your greatest achievement, not your greatest fear’ was my main mantra. It was the first thing I read in the morning and the last thing at night.
I felt so educated and empowered by the course – so much so that I would tell any pregnant Mama’s out there all about it and how they needed to get on it!
Knowing all my options, knowing that my body was made to give birth and having a tool kit of techniques and skills to use meant that I was confident leading up to my labour.
I remember how excited I was when I had my birth show! Finally I could put all I had learned into play, show the world how strong I was AND meet my beautiful baby. I remember having a bath at 39+4 and saying to my husband that we would be meeting our little man very soon. There was an incredible energy surging through my body, as well as a calmness, that made me fully aware that the time was close – sure enough; I went into labour the very next morning!
What was your routine like leading up to labour?
Penne: Once I was on maternity leave I really ramped up my routine. Each afternoon I spent time listening to the Rainbow Relaxation CD and either letting myself drift into an afternoon nap or rocking on my fit ball while taking the time to connect with my baby. I was also doing regular pregnancy Pilates and Water Pilates classes. During these classes I would repeat my affirmations and visualisations. It was also a great place to practise my controlled breathing.
Bouncing on my fit ball, using the HypnoBirthing visualisations, listening to the Rainbow CD and Pilates were all part of my daily routine. Having this routine also helped my baby move into his optimal birthing position, as I had an anterior placenta and was medically more likely to have a ‘back to back’ labour. Thanks to my routine and practise, my baby turned to his optimal position at week 39… until I birthed his shoulders, when the little monkey turned back around again. He came out wriggling and hasn’t stopped since!
During labour did you feel you were prepared to meet any turn your birthing took?
Penne: Absolutely! Once we arrived at the hospital we were met with a few unexpected turns. The first was that I ended up waiting in the waiting room for an hour, labouring, as the hospital staff didn’t think I was very far along – I was “too calm and talking through my surges, so probably in the very early stages of labour” (apparently this is very common for HypnoBirthing mums to hear from hospital staff!).
Of course when I was finally taken through to the observation room, the midwife was amazed that I was actually 8cms!!
During this time the breathing really helped me focus on me and my baby, although I must admit that this was still very hard, especially with a constant stream of people coming in and out of the waiting room. My husband also said that during this time I went through transition, which he said was clear from my “I’m over this, let’s go home” comments 🙂 !!
Another turn we met was after quite a few hours in the birthing suite when it was recommended that my waters be broken. My surges had slowed and I hadn’t progressed from 8cms, I was also extremely fatigued and struggling to be active. At this stage we were around the 22hr mark and our beautiful midwife (someone was looking down on me that day as both of my midwives were HypnoBirthing trained) wanted us to try natural methods to increase my oxytocin levels first. Unfortunately my surges continued to slow down, however because I was so calm and centred, my husband, midwife and I were able to talk through my options and make an informed decision that was best for me and my baby. We went ahead with having my waters broken, and wow, after some very intense surges and a relatively short ‘pushing’ stage, we finally met our beautiful boy.
One thing that surprised me was how alert I was during my labour. I was so aware of everything that was going on. Although I was able to stay calm and accept my surges (not once did I ask for pain relief – it didn’t even cross my mind) I never found myself in a fully meditative state. My body worked in the opposite way and was instead more alert and energised than I expected. At times this was exhausting but again because of what Natalie had taught us, I was able to stay in control and do what felt right for me and my baby.
I believe that if it wasn’t for HypnoBirthing I wouldn’t have been able to stay so calm and focused for so long. I also felt super educated about my choices and what was best for my baby, and for me.
Did the skills and techniques you had been practising help you during labour? In what way?
Penne: Yes, absolutely! Both the calm and surge breathing techniques were my saviour. They helped me focus, relax and deal with the intensity of my surges. I also found the affirmations were fantastic for my mindset: I went into my labour positive, excited and ready to take on any challenge that came my way. I also made bunting with all my favourite affirmations written on the flags, which was hung in our bedroom leading up to the birth. I even took it with me to the hospital to recreate my safe space in the birthing suite. I used the different positions Natalie taught us in class to help my baby move into his perfect birthing position and my husband was all over the light touch massage and encouraging words during the labour (so much so that during the later stages I very bluntly told him to stop touching me and be quiet – sorry hubby!)
Really, I trusted in my ability to birth my baby and because of this had a birth that was completely drug free, positive and empowering.
Tim, do you have a message to share with other expectant fathers?
Tim: It’s wonderful to feel like you have been able to help during the labour, because as HypnoBirthing teaches you, you also have an important part to play in your baby’s journey into the World.
Although it may seem weird when you first hear the word ‘HypnoBirthing’, let yourself be open to the techniques and tools! If you let yourself be a part of it, you allow yourself to experience a greater connection with your partner and your baby. The techniques I learnt during the course have also helped to support Pen during the early weeks, such as the light touch massage. I also had an understanding of breastfeeding and what Pen’s recovery period would be like, which made it easier to help her.
In regards to our little boy, I feel like we had already made a connection, and knew each other 🙂
Final thoughts/comments to share with couples if they are unsure if they should sign up for a HypnoBirthing course?
You can’t be over prepared for birth, but you can be under-prepared!
It really is a marathon, for both mum and dad. Our recommendation is to TOGETHER immerse yourself in all things birth; read the books, do all the classes, practise the techniques and keep active. If you do, then you will be super ready and dare I say it, excited about giving birth.
Penne and Tim attended HypnoBirthing classes with Natalie Jones, in Melbourne VIC.