“Our birth was truly a team effort. It was perfect, and we now have a chilled Hypno baby.”
This week’s birth story is from Kate and Tim, who practiced hynobirthing with the lovely Hannah Robson of Worcestershire Hypnobirthing.
“Mind over matter is an idea that has always been part of my own childhood upbringing. My parents have always believed that the mind has the power to change the perception of pain; both physical and emotional. This idea has been part of my belief system growing up and allowed me to deal with life in ever increasingly positive ways. Therefore, there was a deeply rooted suspicion inside me that birth could be the same. My husband and I have known each other since the age of 14. We’ve been together 17 years and he has also grown up with this same belief.
Very quickly after announcing our wonderful pregnancy news we realised how negatively society viewed birth and how ‘forgotten’ the father could be. Many times, we experienced people congratulating me without a word to the father-to-be sitting beside me.
These were the two main elements which lead us to hypnobirthing. We wanted to explore other ideas against the mainstream perceptions of birth and, most of all, have a birthing experience that was as shared with both parents as possible, despite the obvious biological boundaries!
Our teacher, Hannah, was overflowing with passion and we committed to the process completely. We loved learning with her and we completed the sessions, feeling well educated on the process of birth, empowered in the journey we envisaged for our own birth and prepared to adapt and change according to however events unfolded.
We loved being pregnant! I even appreciated the morning sickness and nausea – it all meant I was pregnant! I tried my best to listen to my body and rest when I needed to, and I felt energised, calm and relaxed in the second trimester. In the third trimester, our hospital bag was packed, our birth preferences written and attached to our notes and my maternity leave began at 36 weeks.
In the month leading up to our ‘Guess Date’, I settled into a very happy routine of waking up, meditating, affirmations, gentle yoga, walking our lovely dog, reading (non-pregnancy related) and meeting up with friends and family.
Our guess date came and went, but I had had some subtle signs that labour was on its way, so I felt relaxed and empowered with how we would proceed if we did go past the ‘due date’. Four days after our guess date, it was time to bring our little person into the world.
The day before labour, our dog kept resting her head on my knee and wouldn’t leave my side. She must have sensed something! My waters broke at 12.30am. Just a trickle (which felt like I’d started a period) rather than a gush, followed by an hour of feeling in disbelief that it was really happening. We were totally excited and enjoying those first few moments, knowing we had begun labour and were soon to meet our girl. My husband was awake, so I told him we had started and then we both settled down to try and get some sleep.
At this point, the waves just felt like period pain and I didn’t need to breathe as they were very weak, so we did both manage to sleep, waking around 3:30am with the waves feeling stronger and needing to breathe through them. When I did this, I felt no pain at all – I remember thinking that it was like magic!
Our plan was to go for a dog walk if I’d gone into labour in the daytime, but in the early hours of the morning we went for our back up plan: comedy! We sat and giggled through Michael McIntyre shows that I’d saved ready for a night time labour. Around 6am, we rang the hospital to inform them that we’d gone into labour, the surges were around ten minutes apart and I was needing to breathe through them and fully focus. They asked us to come in for 10:30am.
At the check-up, the midwife informed us that because my waters had broken before established labour, we most likely would not be able to birth in the midwife lead unit. She said that our baby was most likely going to be born the next day and that, due to the higher risk of infection, it would most likely be on the delivery ward. She then did a sweep and discovered that I was 2cm dilated. She was surprised and said this was quick for a first baby, sending us home with a time of 8pm to return.
We both felt a small sense of disappointment, but a stronger sense that the birth we had visualised would happen despite the conversation with the midwife. So, we returned home, feeling hopeful! The most challenging parts of our labour were definitely the transitions between home and hospital. However, using my headphones to keep listening to the affirmations really helped me focus and manage the surges which were becoming more powerful and regular.
During the afternoon, I sat on the birth ball, finding a rhythm in movement and repeating affirmations through surges helped my breathing and focus. My husband sat with me, reminding me to breathe when a surge took my breath away or I struggled to focus, and our dog sat with us too. I didn’t know it at the time due to being so focused, but at the peak of each surge, she would reach out a paw and rest it on my arm. We knew we wanted a shared birth experience, but we didn’t expect it to involve our dog too! This was the most challenging part of our labour and we now know I was in established labour.
Over the course of a couple of surges, the feeling changed to pressure in my lower back and I knew it was getting close to time to bear down. We rang the hospital at 6:00pm and a different midwife answered. When I spoke to her, I used the word ‘surges’, upon which she realised what we had already informed the midwife earlier, asking ‘Are you Hypnobirthing?’ When I replied with a yes, she asked to speak to my husband again. However, she was on speaker phone so I heard her say ‘Get in the car and come now, if she starts pushing in the car, stop and phone an ambulance’. We hung up, giggling at the situation and got on our way. I was totally in the zone and felt completely calm on the journey, which passed by quickly. I had two surges walking through the hospital entrance hall and arrived at the midwife lead centre at 6:30pm.
They had the birth pool ready in the birth suite that we had visualised and I got straight in. The water felt incredible! We were going to have the birth we had planned! From this moment on, I felt an even deeper sense of calm, knowing this was it: this was where our child would be born – exactly as we had hoped and planned. It was all falling into place and it was time to switch to birth breathing. This was my favourite part of our birth – I can actually say I enjoyed it – our calm music playing, low lights, twinkly lights in the ceiling, warm birth pool. It was perfect. The surges felt different – more meaningful in some way, as though before now my body had been preparing for birth but now it was ready to birth our baby.
The midwifes (we had two as their shifts crossed over) and student midwife were calm, complimentary and talked us through everything that was happening. They involved my husband, who was either with me or looking at our baby’s head crowning. Before I knew it, I had breathed our baby’s head fully out and could feel her looking around. My husband was watching. Her eyes were fully open! Then it was the next surge to bring her out fully when her elbow got stuck. She had been sitting holding her right ear and didn’t want to let go! The midwife was calm, telling me to stand up and put my leg on the side of the pool and push. She pulled the emergency cord as she said this, but there was no need – I felt in control, gave one push to get her out and it worked. My husband helped me sit back down and our baby was placed on my stomach, in my arms to walk up to feed. She latched on and fed straight away!
Four minutes to eight our daughter was born, feeding and happily chilling with her parents in the birth pool. We sat and let her feed whilst we waited for the umbilical cord to finish its job. Chatting with the midwifes, laughing and celebrating how calm our birth had been, listening to the same music we had played four years earlier at our wedding and feeling serene, content and a little bit in disbelief that it had all happened!
We are so glad we found Hypnobirthing and our teacher. It makes us sad that so many births are stories of fear and pain, whilst simultaneously feeling overwhelmingly lucky that we had a birth that was calm, peaceful, quick and enjoyable. The mind is powerful, and when you have the right tools and techniques you can overcome the most daunting of challenges. Our birth was truly a team effort, and, for us, it was perfect. We now have a chilled Hypno baby (who still likes to hold her right ear!) and whilst we are cherishing every second of her, part of us can’t wait to be able to tell her how wonderful her birth was and (if she chooses to have her own children) to support her through her own calm birth one day.”
Kate and Tim