I Was Diagnosed With Tokophobia
This week’s birth story comes from the lovely Bianca who attended a TCBS Hypnobirthing Pregnancy Relaxation Course with Leanne Lawrence of Brighter Birthing across Hertfordshire. Bianca had a fear of giving birth and was extremely apprehensive about contacting Leanne about booking a class. Leanne and Bianca had a call and decided it would be good for Bianca to try a Relaxation Class – at the time it was online due to Covid restrictions so had the ability to leave the class at any time if she felt uncomfortable. After just one class, Bianca booked on to a private hypnobirthing course with Leanne.
Thank you for sharing this wonderful story with is!
After a PCOS diagnosis (poly-cystic ovaries) I acknowledged that it would probably take some time to fall pregnant, but I fell pregnant within the first month. I truly appreciate how blessed we were for this to have happened, but it was a big surprise that it happened so quickly!
Four days before our pregnancy test showed positive, I started to suffer with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). I was losing weight quickly and unable to look after myself. By the end of my pregnancy, I would weigh 12kg less than my original starting weight. I was unable to bathe myself and needed help doing everything because I was too weak.
Everything came as a bit of a shock. The quick pregnancy and horrendous sickness sent my mind into overdrive. I had previously experienced medical anxiety, but I suddenly became really fearful of giving birth. I couldn’t imagine how I could give birth when I couldn’t handle the pregnancy. The Hyperemesis was relentless.
I was diagnosed with Tokophobia – the fear of pregnancy and childbirth. My midwife recommended I try Hypnobirthing. I had heard bits about it in the past but shrugged it off as not for me. At this point I was willing to try anything to help my mind and to help me have a good birth. Hyperemesis and Tokophobia seemed like a lot to be dealing with otherwise.
I found Leanne and I knew straight away she could help support me. Leanne came to my home and did 4 Hypnobirthing sessions with me and my husband. No question was silly, there was no time limit on my questions, and she really sympathised and understood what I was going through. After our sessions I began to practice my breathing techniques and relaxation. In pregnancy I had awful insomnia due to the anxiety, but the relaxation exercises helped my sleep.
40 weeks was approaching fast, and I constantly stayed in touch with Leanne. She reminded me that 40 weeks isn’t an eviction date and to keep a further date in mind to avoid disappointment.
39+6 after a 2 hour walk at 11am Saturday morning I began to have lower back aches and thought I may have overdone it a bit. I soon realised these lower back pains were coming every 8 minutes and I was actually in labour! The surges were strong from the start. I couldn’t believe this is what contractions actually felt like and this was what I feared! It was nothing like I imagined. I wasn’t screaming, I was breathing through every one and dealing with it!
The surges continued through the night. I was unable to sleep as they were still 8 minutes apart and didn’t seem to be getting any closer. On Sunday morning when my husband woke up, we decided to go for a walk to get things going, but it had the opposite effect! The surges slowed down further. I messaged Leanne and she reassured me…stay hydrated, eat, and wait for the evening when they were likely to pick up again. Sure enough they did at about 4pm!
I continued to labour through the night. My surges remained 8 minutes apart and I was unable to sleep. I was breathing through every surge, bouncing on my ball, and staying mobile exactly like we discussed. I couldn’t believe I was doing this! By 1am Monday morning I was tired and had been labouring for almost 2 days. I began to use my TENS machine and found this really helpful in directing my mind elsewhere. The surges got stronger until at 6am my app said I was in established labour and we made our way to the hospital.
I knew I wanted a vaginal examination (VE) to see how dilated was, but I was petrified. I’d heard horror storied about them! I explained to the midwife I was scared, and she relaxed me and I continued to use my breathing whilst she carried out the VE, I couldn’t believe how painless it was, I barely found it uncomfortable compared to the surges. Everything I feared I was conquering! I had laboured at home and made it to the hospital at 4cm! I was allowed to stay and so was my husband!
At 8am I got into the birth pool – it was amazing! I was breathing through every surge and felt like I had this in my control. My midwife was incredible – we laughed and joked between surges, and she gave me the encouragement I needed. I had a playlist going in the background of sentimental songs for me to get my oxytocin flowing. At 12pm she asked to examine me again and I was excited to see how I had progressed. I was only 5cms and felt gutted.
My midwife asked if she could break my waters to try and get things moving a bit quicker. I agreed and my water were broken, but they had meconium in them. That was my dream water birth over.
At 1pm I transferred to the labour ward and continued to labour on land. I knew I had to stay as active as possible, so used my TENS machine to help me keep pacing the room. After my waters were broken the surges became a lot more powerful. Another hour passed and I asked for gas and air, as I felt I was losing control, but it didn’t do much for me, so I stopped. My midwife examined me again and I was at 6cm. I was struggling and wondered how I could keep going like this for a few more hours.
I’d read a lot about Peanut balls and how they can help you dilate quickly if you sit in a certain position with it, so thought it was worth a try. I asked for a peanut ball and adjusted myself into position on the bed. The position is designed to open up your pelvis and felt very comfortable when I couldn’t stay mobile any longer. It was 3pm and I was exhausted and felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. I needed an epidural and quickly. I kept saying “I can’t do this; I need the epidural”. My midwife put in the cannula and went to find the anaesthetist, she was gone for around 20 minutes.
Things Changed Suddenly…
I remember just having this overwhelming urge to push and I told her my body was pushing! They kept saying not to push as I was only 6cm and I would hurt myself. Suddenly everything became a bit of a blur and the babies heart rate kept getting lost. I agreed for them to pin my baby’s head for the internal heart rate monitor, but it still wasn’t being picked up and suddenly the emergency button was pushed.
Around 10 people were suddenly around me. They examined me and realised I had gone from 6cm to 10cm in around 1 hour (looks like that peanut ball position really did work as magically as everyone had said). I was told I needed to get my baby out very quickly due to his heart rate or they would need to help me get him out. They explained I needed to really concentrate and push to avoid this. Every person in that room was my cheerleader. They encouraged me to push and within 15 minutes and 6 pushes he was here.
Its A Boy!
My mum shouted, “Its a boy!”. They put him on my chest and in that moment, I felt like Super Woman. My placenta birthed quickly, and I needed a stitch. This had also been one of my fears, but I did it! My baby was finally here, and I couldn’t believe all I had achieved over the last 9 months.
I see my birth as really positive. I didn’t get the water birth that I wanted and the last hour was very quick and intense, but I achieved my biggest fear. Having Tokophobia is something you don’t hear about very often, but I’m sure a lot of women fear childbirth. I had both, Hyperemesis and Tokophobia and ye
Instead of telling women how incredible our bodies are and how magical pregnancy and childbirth are, there are so many horror stories. In reality, it’s not the horror we think it is! A lot of it comes down to your perception and expectations of your birth. My Hyperemesis and Tokophobia took over my pregnancy and I can’t wait to enjoy every moment of pregnancy next time, now I know how beautiful that whole 9 months can be.
I will forever be thankful to Leanne who was my cheerleader. When the Hyperemesis and Tokophobia caused me to feel down and like I had failed in pregnancy, Leanne always kept my chin up and supported me through my biggest challenge. She told me what a great job I was doing with the cards I had been dealt.
Her Hypnobirthing course was invaluable to me. It provided me with the education I needed to understand exactly what my body was doing and why. This allowed me to make informed decisions and be in control of my mind and body. That said, it wasn’t just the course but was Leanne personally who helped me”.
If you want to create your own positive birth you can start today!