I remember the elation of seeing our positive pregnancy test. I also remember the immediate fear that struck when I realised that I was going to grow a baby and somehow get it out of my body. I had zero experience teamed with the infamous video clips of women screaming as my reference point. Hypnobirthing completely changed my outlook on giving birth and I couldn’t believe I went from being so anxious and afraid to being excited about the day and meeting our little one.
When the time came, the breathing techniques, positive affirmations, and feeling of being in control, were invaluable. Mine was not the birth I had imagined but we got through it as well as we could, armed with tips and methods to stay calm and enjoy the experience as much as possible.
My waters broke early in the morning of Saturday so I rang the hospital to start the process and begin preparations. From this point onwards hypnobirthing played centre stage as everything began to veer away from the ‘plan’. I was sent to a different hospital than I had wanted, was told that I wasn’t leaving because of meconium staining, and my husband wasn’t allowed in the hospital due to covid restrictions. Not what I had envisaged.
As I was left alone with machines beeping around me and wondering when my partner would be allowed in, I fell back on my breathing techniques and ways to keep oxytocin flowing. For me, this was the calming breathing and letting my closest friends know what was going on (and even joking about it!) The staff were supportive and communicative and after a couple of hours I was in my allocated room with my husband who had collected our bags and a mountain of snacks. We settled in and waited to hear our options and progress.
In a nutshell, I had a 30-hour labour. This included a prostin pessary, hormone drip, gas and air, TENS machine, diamorphine, an epidural, a ventouse-aided birth, tearing, and a major blood loss. But that is not what I remember when I think back now. I see the kind midwives, the heartrate monitor showing our baby stayed calm throughout, my husband answering questions that we had agreed beforehand, the steady upgrade of chair that he seemed to receive every shift change, the clear communication of our next options, the amount of control and choice we had, and so on. I remember the imagery of my ‘happy place’ that got me through some of the stronger contractions, the affirmation that others around the world were birthing with me, that I breathe in calm and my body and mind relax down (still used today!), and that at the end of all the hard work I would be looking into my baby’s eyes.
And that was the best moment of all. On the Monday at 13:13, our little boy Vincent arrived and I truly believe he had stayed calm because I had stayed calm. Hypnobirthing equipped me with the confidence and strength I needed at some of the most difficult times, I wasn’t fazed by the medical lingo and I had practical advice to help alleviate some of the challenges of giving birth. My partner was on the same page and had an idea of how he could help and what I would need. Our birthing plan was so helpful in sharing key wishes, while hypnobirthing was essential for the times when we went off plan and I needed the grounding: remembering to trust my instincts, know my options, and relax into the process.