Anyone who knows me knows I am a planner, I like to know what is happening next, I like to organise and prepare; so the thought of labour and birth terrified me a bit. I knew deep down that unless I educated myself and learnt how to properly relax and stay in control (of my mind at least!), there was a high chance I would feel out of control and would panic. This is what first led me to hypnobirthing. My husband and I attended a course when I was around 28 weeks pregnant with our first daughter Elle. We both loved it, the theories made sense to us and we went home and practised and talked to everyone we could about it.
I look back at Elle’s labour as truly amazing. It didn’t go totally to plan but thanks to hypnobirthing, I had the tools I needed, I could navigate the change in direction that happened and I remember it as a wonderfully empowering and enlightening experience.
my first birth
I had planned a home birth with Elle and despite her being my first baby I was supported and encouraged by my community midwife. We hired a birth pool and filled the house with candles, essential oils and enough snacks and energy drinks to last a year. I laboured at home for around 20 hours (2.5 hours of that spent in the second ‘pushing’ stage), and it was only when everyone got exhausted and the midwives became a little concerned about Elle’s dropping heart rate that they suggested we transfer to hospital for ‘a little help’. Which we did; I put up no argument. I was mentally and physically exhausted. She was delivered around an hour later by forceps. She was perfect, we were exhausted and it remains one of the best experiences of my life.
I say one of the best as the other best experience was giving birth to our second daughter Amelie, just a short 21 months later. With Amelie we planned a home birth again and this time I felt confident I could achieve it.
my second birth
With Amelie my waters broke at 38+6 days, I was shocked as they hadn’t broken spontaneously with Elle, but as I was well aware, every baby and every birth is different. Because my surges didn’t start straight away I was asked to go into the hospital for them to check they had in fact broken. I was very apprehensive about going in as the last thing I wanted to do was be in a hospital environment, I was scared they might try and keep me there! I did give in eventually and go. They monitored the baby and checked me over and did indeed confirm my waters had gone. They then sent me on my way home but not before informing me that my community midwife had just been called to another home birth, so if I went into labour soon I might have to come back to hospital and give birth there. At the same time, they also booked me in for my induction, should my surges not start in the next 36 hours. All of this made me feel very disheartened. I felt an extreme sense of pressure to get the timing of my birth just right so I could deliver at home – something which as we all know, is totally out of our control. So rather than fret, I chose to relax, go home, eat some dinner and go to bed.
Luckily, my surges started around 2 hours after we got back home and my daughter Amelie arrived 6 hours later on the sofa in our living room. We had two midwives present, the environment was calm with relaxation music playing and it was exactly the birth I wanted.
I look back at both experiences as equally magical, even though first time it didn’t go totally to the plan I had in my head. The hypnobirthing techniques I had learnt helped me to cope with this change and I felt so proud of myself for getting as far as I did at home, as that is what I had wanted.