The first I heard of hypnobirthing was before I was even pregnant. My mother in law, a midwife, mentioned this form of antenatal education and how effectively she had seen it help women in labour. Fast forward several months and I fell pregnant. From the beginning I was toying with the idea of having my baby at home. Again, my mother in law mentioned hypnobirthing offering to lend and guide me through the Katharine Graves Hypnobirthing (KGH) materials she had. I gave the KGH book to my husband to read “a few pages” on his commute. I finally got it back a week later. He’d read the whole thing and though it was definitely the way to go so I thought I’d better start reading!
Spurred on I began listening to the KGH CDs before bed and in the car whilst driving (NOT the relaxation sequences). In the months leading up to my due date I read the book, used positive affirmations and practised the breathing and relaxation techniques. I was convinced now that I would labour at home. I even made a birth visualisations board complete with affirmations, my ‘up’ visualisation (a beautiful sunrise I had watched and photographed in Santorini this summer) and my ‘down’ visualisation (the waves rolling in on a Norfolk beach I’ve visited several times). And of course the reason I was doing all this: my last scan picture of my beautiful, pouting baby boy.
My Estimated Due Date (EDD) came. And went. I continued my practice and it helped me greatly when my local hospital began ‘suggesting’ I be induced. I maintained the hypnobirthing common sense approach and the mantra: baby knows best. He did. Two weeks after my due date things began happening around 5.30pm one Friday evening. By 10.30pm that evening my midwife arrived and examined me. I was shocked to hear I was 5cm! Several hours later, in the early hours of Saturday morning, I was at 6cm and got in to the birthing pool in my sitting room. The comfort of the pool and the weekly aqua bumps sessions I’d attended helped me to meet and deal with each surge one at a time.
Despite the quick pace of the start of my labour it became apparent around 6am that I was not progressing quickly enough. At this point I asked for gas and air in the hope it might relax me further and enable me to progress. I can honestly say that until this point it did not occur to me to ask for any form of pain relief. I truly believe this was down to the hypnobirthing and breathing through each contraction. As pleasant as it was the gas and air didn’t ‘work’ as I’d hoped in that I still did not progress past 6cm so around 7.30am an ambulance was called and I went into hospital straight in to the delivery suite taking with me my hypnobirthing visualisation board. I was disappointed not to be getting the home birth I had envisioned but I remained calm, continued using gas and air, breathing and visualisation techniques as I laboured throughout the day. I was quite quickly told I’d be getting an epidural. I asserted myself and declined explaining that I’d ask for one if I needed it.
The hypnobirthing was my constant along with my amazing birthing partners and I credit it completely with allowing me to get to 10cms without anything other than gas and air. Around this time we realised my son was back to back and soon after this my baby's heart rate was a little troublesome so I was taken to theatre for a (best case scenario) forceps delivery and worst case (for me, personally): a caesarean section. Thankfully they successfully turned my baby and I delivered him with the assistance of forceps. Throughout my long labour and intense transition to theatre I’m told I was calm and looked like I was "waiting for a bus". As someone with a self professed low tolerance for pain I can only put my calm and controlled demeanour down to hypnobirthing. If I had another baby I would use hypnobirthing again in a heartbeat!