This birth story from my November Sister Emily needs pretty much no introduction! As I keep telling everyone: Hypnobirthing works! Emily did an awful lot of preparation - of body and mind - for her birth and it really paid off! This is the key: you CAN have the positive birth that you are hoping for, but the more you prepare and practice the more likely this will be! GO EMILY!!
(Emily did the Natal Hypnotherapy Hypno-course with Maggie Howell, whereas I teach Katherine Graves Hypnobirthing, but the principles are the same! - programming the mind for a positive birth!)
A brief rundown from Emily on the things that really worked for her in preparing for a positive birth:
I would say the things that had the most impact on my super-positive birth experience are...
- The hypnobirthing!!!!! Hands down was incredible. A midwife delivered the course which had a big impact because she was realistic about birth and at the same time filled us with such positivity and really prepared us.
- My sister Sam counting down each contraction. Seeing the intensity of each contraction as being really positive: the stronger the contraction the closer she was to coming. My sister reminded me of this and congratulated me when there was a strong one.
- Remembering that I was on a journey with my baby and feeling proud of what we were both doing.
- Slow long breaths and humming or blowing through my lips on the out breath. Really reduced the pain.
- Keeping active during each contraction. I did lots of hip rotations which was amazing.
- Resting between each contraction!
- Not being told what to do by anyone!!! Although I probably shouldn't have been at home this late in the labour I appreciated the fact that my body pushed when it needed to push and no one needed to tell me I was 10 cm and should start pushing. My body knew exactly what to do!
- Trusting the process and not being scared.
- Knowing about the self-doubt (transition) phase. It was great because it makes that part of the labour positive because I could recognise that my feelings meant the baby was close to coming.
- Smiling during each contraction!!!!!
I love talking about my birth!!!! Whoop whoop!!!! And I am SUCH a fan of hypnobirthing. I want to spread the word. It really was amazing and afterwards I was just so in awe of my body and baby!!!!
And the birth story:
I gave birth at 5:45am on Wednesday 23rd September and the whole experience was even better than I could have imagined so I wanted to share it with you.
I had the mucus show at about 9:45pm on Tuesday evening. I was expecting to be in the excitement phase (early labour) for many hours and had a list of all the things I wanted to do during that time, such as complete a puzzle, watch a film, etc. As it was, the contractions started straight away coming every 3-5 minutes - no time to do anything I had planned! Although they weren't very strong at the beginning they still had quite an impact and I had to focus and breathe through them from the start. I listened to the natal-hypnotherapy music and didn't find it hard to stay calm and focused. All the way through the labour I had words going through my head that I had heard everyday from the birth preparation track and the affirmations. There were certain phrases that really resonated with me during the labour, that I hadn't necessarily connected with before, such as "the contractions cannot be stronger than you because they are you". One of the affirmations I had written was "you have energy to birth your baby because in between you rest and relax and recuperate your strength". Again hearing this every day really helped because I felt like I was programmed to do just that! - and I didn't even need to think about it. It had also given me a belief that I did have the energy and I never doubted it.
At some stage (perhaps around 12) my husband suggested I laboured in the bath. This really helped as the contractions were gaining in intensity and the warmth helped to relax everything.What was very nice about the hypnobirthing was the number of tools I could try out during the labour and I was surprised about what things worked and what things didn't. I couldn't get my head around the visualisations and I found that if anything I needed to focus on the contractions rather than take my focus away from them. I spent a lot of time on my knees or all fours, rocking or doing hip rotations and this really helped, as did the deep belly breathing and doing low humming or horse breath - blowing out through my lips so they vibrated.
When I came out of the bath I think that is when I went through self doubt. I didn't doubt I could sustain what I was currently experiencing but I thought if the sensations were going to get considerably stronger I wasn't sure I could handle it. I remember thinking I must be in the self doubt phase (transition) but couldn't believe I was because I thought I was a long way from giving birth. This must have been around 1am. My partner Louis put on the serious phase track and this REALLY helped to refocus me. Although now I have no idea what was said in the track, at the time I remember saying 'yes, yes, that's true' as if the words were speaking directly to me and what I was experiencing.
Something else that I found very interesting was that I had other people's birth stories swimming around my head. I would almost obsessively cycle through them in my head, both good ones and bad ones and the wonderful ones I had read in the hypnotherapy book. It made me realise how important it is to have a bank of positive stories!
At around 2 am my sister, Sam, came to take over from Louis while he had some sleep. By now the contractions were about a minute long or longer but they never felt that long. One of the strategies Sam used was to count down each contraction, from 10-1. I found this really helpful because on the one hand she would try to time her countdown to fit in with my contraction but on the other I found my contraction would begin to dissipate with her countdown. As the contraction came to an end she would rub from the top of my back down and say 'feel the contraction melt away and everything relaxing'. Again this really helped dissipate the contraction. If I had a particularly powerful contraction she would praise me and celebrate the contraction saying how good it was because it meant the baby must be getting closer. She would exclaim how my uterus was opening and the baby being massaged down. She reminded me to keep breathing and as I breathed out she would encourage me to smile.
At some stage the sensations moved from my uterus to my hips and I began to have the urge to push. The amazing thing about it was how my body just took over and the pushing just happened. I didn't need to be told to push, I didn't feel like I was straining, but just that I was following what my body wanted me to do. The sensations in my hips stayed for a few contractions before the feeling changed again and I felt pressure further down. This stage I found much less intense than the contractions and more rewarding because I could feel the progress with every contraction. I could feel the baby moving down.
The strange thing about my labour was that by now the contractions were coming about every 4-5 minutes so my sister wasn't sure I was actually in stage 2! Having called the hospital and told them I had pressure in my bottom we were told to come in. The whole time I felt completely calm and relaxed. I never felt anxious or worried but completely happy that everything was happening exactly as it should. I was fine, the baby was fine and by body knew exactly what to do.
That call to the hospital happened at 5:15am. We arrived in the birth centre at about 5:35am. The room was ready and midwife, Amy, waiting. I immediately asked Sam to take my clothes off and got down on all fours. Sam mentioned I wanted a water birth and all Amy said was 'there's no time'! At this point Louis was parking the car. Sam whispered how long we had and Amy mouthed '5 minutes max' so Sam ran out to find him!
Luckily Louis made it because with the next contraction, at 5:45am, Poppy arrived!
The interesting thing was that having known exactly what to do when I was on my own, as soon as I was with the midwife I kept on expecting her to tell me what to do, even though I didn't need any guidance. She was absolutely fantastic. So calm and relaxed and as far as I recall she didn't give me instructions but just let my body do what it needed to. Once it was over she said 'Emily you're amazing'. I told her I had been doing hypnobirthing!
From beginning to end it was 8 hours but I really had no concept of time. It certainly didn't feel like 8 hours and at no point did I feel that it was too long. I was just absolutely in awe when she arrived so quickly!My birth was better than I ever could have dreamed. The hypnobirthing prepared me beautifully. It made me so positive before the birth that even if the birth hadn't gone as well as it did, I still feel that I got a lot out of it because I didn't spend the majority of my pregnancy worried about the birth, but excited about it. And that in itself is very special.
Yesterday I met up with 3 of the girls from the hypnobirthing course, Lara, Katie and Cathrin. All of them were so complimentary about the hypnotherapy course and said how amazing the hypnobirthing was during their labours. Even Katie had a really positive experience despite needing to be induced and having an emergency cesarean. She put her positive state of mind down to the hypnobirthing.
I am just so grateful to have had such a positive experience and it most definitely wouldn't have been as good without the hypnobirthing.