I’m naturally a worrier. Really, my mum has always said that if I don’t have something to worry about then I tend to find something. Although oddly enough since having the Little Man I tend to worry about important stuff rather than silly little things- I reckon it’s because all my priorities have changed. But I digress.
One huge worry for me when I became pregnant was the birth- I know that probably sounds quite obvious! Although I had a lovely illness-free pregnancy, there was always that fear of what was at the end of the pregnancy- basically I was terrified of the labour bit. Try as I might to prepare by reading up on things and talking things through, there was always that worry lurking there at the back of my mind- that a miniature, melon sized person was eventually going to exit me one way or another (I used fruit comparisons throughout my pregnancy-very ‘Denise from the Royle Family’, I know. It was cute calling the baby grape, satsuma and plum- he was plum for ages- but less fun when we got to the melon stage and cold harsh reality started to settle in) . I had nothing to compare this to, and just couldn’t imagine it, so it really gave me the heebie- jeebies.
When reading the multiple leaflets that you’re bombarded with as a pregnant lady, I came across one that mentioned hypnobirthing and gave contact details for a hypnobirthing practitioner.
I’m a pretty sceptical person really- but I figured that anything that could help me might be worth doing, so I contacted the lady on the leaflet and she gave me a call back. When I spoke to her she gave me a bit more information about hypnobirthing- I really didn’t know much at the time and it seems to me that there have been a lot more articles about it since I had my little boy, although maybe it’s just because I notice them more. I was struck by how calm and reassuring she was, and she put me at my ease straight away. During the conversation I decided to give it a go, and ended up booking myself and my husband onto a hypnobirthing course. I know- he couldn’t wait to go.
We ended up going to 2 full day sessions using the Wise Hippo method of hypnobirthing- I think the aim is that they’re often 4 shorter sessions, so it was quite intensive. Feeling a bit like a hippo myself I sank down into a comfy bean bag, wondering how the hell I was going to get up. We were doing the sessions with one other couple which was really nice as we could ask as many questions of the hypnobirthing instructor as we liked without feeling too silly as part of a big group. Initially we discussed our thoughts about birth and what we wanted to get out of the course- the other lady there had given birth ten years before and had a pretty bad experience, so was understandably terrified second time around. I mentioned my fears too, and that basically I was aiming to feel less scared. It helped that our instructor was a midwife and mum too I think, as she had lots of experience of many different births, and had pretty much seen and heard it all before.
The two day course involved lots of practical exercises based around the Wise Hippo book and MP3s- we also got access to their website to view the content on there and download the MP3s so that we could practice at home. Our instructor took us through a variety of relaxation and breathing techniques, using visualisation, self-hypnosis and the MP3s. She talked us through the birth process, and discussed our fears, and we watched some amazing videos of births which used hypnobirthing- I couldn’t believe how calm they were. We also discussed birth plans, birthing positions and pain relief, and our instructor had lots of advice to share on these.
After the two day long sessions, we really embraced practicing to the MP3s. I listened to the birthing affirmations quite often- this is a list of positive and uplifting phrases about childbirth. My husband got into practising too, and we listened to the MP3s together, practising our breathing exercises. It was so relaxing at times that we nodded off sometimes, although quite often the little man used to go completely nuts in my stomach- or maybe I just noticed more because I was laid still for a while.
I have to say that I started doing hypnobirthing with a fairly cynical outlook, but I figured that I was so scared that I’d be daft to ignore anything that had a chance of helping me. I can honestly say though that it really worked for me during my pregnancy- it did change my feelings about giving birth, and as quite an anxious person the relaxation and breathing techniques really helped calm me down- I find myself wishing I was so relaxed when faced with a toddler tantrum nowadays! I don’t feel like I used it as much during the birth of my son as everything just happened so fast- I went from hardly any pain to the latter stages of childbirth extremely quickly. Added to that he was breech (undetected throughout my pregnancy-oh joy!) and in distress, so to cut a longish story short I ended up having an emergency Caesarean rather than the water birth that I’d hoped for. However, I do think it may have helped me to deal with early minor pains, and it certainly helped with worries during my pregnancy. If, like me you’re worried about giving birth then it’s definitely worth a try.