I just wanted to share my hypnobirthing experiences which resulted in a great birthing experience for my partner and myself as first-time parents. Sorry, it’s a bit long – I didn’t realise how much I wanted to say!
As a midwife, Anne was excellent at demystifying the process of childbirth for Travis and for calming any worries and fears I had about giving birth. Mostly I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to handle the pain of childbirth and that I would end up needing interventions like forceps, episiotomy or a cesarean.
During the remainder of my pregnancy, I listened to the audio tracks and I repeated phrases that resonated with me in my head during moments of relaxation. ‘my body is perfectly designed to birth my baby’, ‘I look forward to my birthing day with joy’.
Toward the end of my pregnancy, I went for some additional ultrasounds due to a small fundal height. The scans suggested that my baby measured clinically small and that my amniotic fluid level was very low. I was sent for follow up scans which showed that my fluid levels were increasing but still low. I knew from speaking with Anne and other supportive midwives that ultrasounds are not always 100% accurate. Still, my obstetrician managed to persuade me that an induction would be safest for the baby given the risks of cord prolapse during births with low amniotic fluid levels.
I asked lots of questions and was hesitant to book my guess date for the induction. I managed to book it for 4 days after my guess date, which would give the baby a bit more time to make their way out on their own time. I had roughly a week and a half to prepare myself mentally for the induction and to try to encourage labour to begin naturally. I had been seeing an acupuncturist throughout my pregnancy, I went for 3 final rounds of ‘induction acupuncture’ in that last week and a half. I also ate lots of dates and spicy foods, had lots of sex, went on long walks on the beach and walked up and down the stairs in my house countless times. I continued drinking raspberry leaf tea and using evening primrose oil capsules each night. Even though I knew none of these approaches was guaranteed to work, I was pretty determined to avoid induction if I could.
The night before my scheduled induction, I had made peace with the idea. I decided Travis and I should call our friend who had her baby via induction a year earlier to settle any niggly fears.
During this Skype call, I started to feel tightenings in my belly. Travis and I carried on as usual. Chatting with our friends and then made dinner and watched TV. While we watched TV, it began to get hard to focus on the show, or even really keep my eyes open during the tightenings. We went to bed shortly afterwards to try and get some rest ahead of our big day.
During the night, the surges began to fade a bit, I woke up at 3 am and decided to move around to see if I could get them to become stronger again. I walked up and down our stairs and did lots of squats and then went back to lay in bed. The surges continued and became stronger.
After we got up in the morning I was able to walk and talk through the surges still, so I did some gardening, and we went out to have fish and chips for lunch as our last meal before becoming parents. My surges ramped up while we were driving to get lunch and I couldn’t sit down during them anymore. I walked and paced in circles with my eyes closed slowly breathing and remembering to keep more jaw loose. I pictured myself in the water like a wobbly jellyfish riding over the waves.
We headed to the hospital straight from the beach, my induction was due to begin at about 2 pm, but I had a feeling I wouldn’t need it.
The drive to the hospital was hard. It was uncomfortable to sit in the car as the sensations were growing more intense.
The midwife on duty attached me to the monitor and checked my cervix, I wasn’t dilated yet, but she said she would be able to reach in and break my waters if I liked, or I could have gel inserted. After a few more minutes of talking with her, she suggested instead that we go home to labour there and return when things had progressed rather than having the induction! I was delighted.
At home, I used the shower to get comfortable and leaned over the bed and swayed I played tranquil chambers in the background and the affirmations track. Travis stayed downstairs and came up to check on me now and then. I was most comfortable on my own.
At 9.00 pm, I felt as though my body was bearing down. During each surge, it helped to breath down into my belly. I felt like it was time to go back to the hospital, Travis came to check on me, and I began vomiting, I heard a voice in my head say ‘I can’t do this’ – I knew that meant I was in transition. I called the hospital right afterwards, but I couldn’t talk through surges or really at all anymore. Travis spoke to the midwife who suggested we make our way back to the hospital. I walked very slowly through the house, down the stairs and out to the car. With my eyes closed, I leant up against the walls with each surge. It took me an hour and a half to get to the car – but I had no concept of time, I was living inside my head, I was relaxed and focused on breathing and staying loose through each intense surge. Travis tri
ed to help me by touching my back as I walked down the stairs and I growled at him ‘Don’t touch me’ without even realising.
After a 5 minute drive, we arrived at the hospital, and I made my way into the birthing suite slowly. I didn’t want to know how many cms I was dilated and didn’t want to be offered any pain relief. Luckily I had discussed this with Travis earlier so he could discuss my preferences with the midwives while I swayed and breathed and focused. My midwives Dee and Kathy asked if they could check my cervix – I grunted out ‘No.’ they asked if they could listen to baby’s heartbeat, again ‘No.’ I just wanted to be left alone and not touched.
They offered to fill up the bathtub while they did those checks, I didn’t answer them but just walked over to the bed in position silently with my eyes still shut.
After the checks, Dee and Kathy moved me very quickly into the tub, it must have been just before 11.30 pm. They used a shower hose to put hot water onto my back which felt so good. Eventually, I rolled from all fours onto my back. Travis got into the tub with me at this point and started to put ice on my forehead and give me cold water through a straw, I was sweating a lot, and I felt incredibly thirsty. After I had drunk about 2L of water, my body began to bear down seriously. After a few big pushes, adjusting my legs to be wider apart, some bigger pushes the baby’s head crowned, and I experienced a warm burning sensation. I began to help my body push with each surge leaning forcefully backwards into Travis with each one. The baby’s head came out, and he was posterior, I felt a massive release and was able to keep my eyes open from that point. I reached down to touch him and felt a strange texture – it didn’t feel like a babies head instead it felt very soft and squishy, like jelly. I gave two more pushes, and baby Felix was born en caul – in his sack completely unbroken at 12.34 am the day after my scheduled induction.
I loved my birth, and Travis loved the experience too, it was an incredibly intense but positive day. I am so grateful to Anne, Hypnobirthing and my midwives for giving me the tools to try for the water birth I wanted. I knew that by staying focused and relaxed and positive, I would be prepared for whatever happened during the delivery. Because of Hypnobirth, I knew that my instinct to stay inside my head, keep my eyes closed and focused was very typical, and I was able to embrace that tactic as a result.