Grab a cup of tea and snuggle up to read Heather’s story, it’s a good un! I love this for lots of reasons and am externally grateful for Heather for taking the time put this together. She birthed her way and this had a massive impact on her experience. It was so lovely to a part of this
About 3 months into my second pregnancy I met Steph (who was also 5 month pregnant) through my business Wakefield Mumbler. Having had some experience of hypnobirthing with my first child I was keen to chat with her about her work and how she could help me.
My journey to hypnobirthing started years before I event planned to have a child when I used hypnosis upon recommendation from my GP. I was incredibly sceptical and really didn’t think that my mind would be open to hypnosis. The first time I listened to the CD I came to at the end and was in total shock. I felt a bit strange. During the hypnosis I felt like I was paralysed, I could no longer feel my body, I was completely focussed on the suggestions I was hearing. I felt like if I needed to I would be able to bring myself back to reality, so I wasn’t out of control as such.
When I was pregnant with my second child I was clueless about birth choices and the possibilities. My sister in law lent me a hypnobirthing CD which I used daily from about 32 weeks. I felt relaxed but obviously still clueless about what was about to happen all I knew was what I’d seen on TV (One Born Every minute springs to mind) They’re sat laughing and joking, playing cards, eating drinking normally for hours and then they get to business, it looks like it really hurts, out baby comes and all is good most of the time.
My birth plan was downloaded from the NHS website and hand written, I wanted a water birth but due to a high risk pregnancy I’d been told that I might not be ALLOWED to have one. I did not want to have an epidural, but I was open to other forms of pain relief if I needed it. I hired a TENs machine, but I couldn’t figure out how it worked so I assumed the midwife would sort it for me. My bag was packed, Jelly babies and paracetamol.
My First Birth
I was fed up, I was begging ,y midwife to give me daily sweeps, I was asking when could I be induced (having not read anything about induction except that if you go over due you’re having one), I was going for walks bouncing on the ball, I wasn’t desperate enough to suggest having sex yet!
I was booked in for an induction on the Monday when my waters went on the Thursday. I was told that if I didn’t go into labour within 24 hours that I would HAVE to be induced. By Thursday night I was in labour and went in to be assessed, I was 1 cm dilated and was told that I wasn’t really in labour yet but they found protein in my urine (probably from my waters) so I HAD to stay in. In my normal everyday life I am confident and I don’t do anything I don’t want to do, in labour I am very introverted to the point I barely speak, and I doubt myself and my judgement. I asked if my husband could stay with me, I was in a six bay room on my own and they talked me into ‘letting him go home to rest’. That was a big mistake, this was where I became vulnerable and felt completely alone.
From the minute I was told 1cm, I started to doubt my ability to birth this baby, I was in so much pain how could I possible have 9cm to go before I even start pushing? The pain ramped up and I asked for paracetamol as I was in so much pain (looking back paracetamol was never going to cut it and my outward calm exterior was masking the turmoil I was going through on the inside). I was given some and promptly threw up so I asked for more and was refused. I was still unable to get my own out of my bag. I was up and down to the loo feeling the pressure in my bottom and terrified that I would poo myself! The midwife was rude and mean, she told me to go and get a bath, threw me a towel and sent me off. I was in the bath all alone for a few hours, eventually it was so cold and I was so out of my mind I just started crying. A healthcare assistant heard me as she walked past and broke in to see if I was OK. She stayed with me, I was hallucinating. She offered to call my husband but it had already been put into my head that I wasn’t really in labour and my husband needed his rest so I should manage alone and that’s what I did.
Eventually, I couldn’t take it anymore. I was panicking, I was terrified that I wasn’t really in labour and I had a long way to go so if it hurt this bad now I was never going to be able to do it. The midwife came to see me and told me to get out of the bath so she could examine me. I was frightened that I would slip and asked for a hand to help me, she refused so I asked her to call my husband to help me. I was still calm to the outside, not really speaking much but inside I was a wreck. He arrived I got out and was examined, BAD news they wouldn’t LET me have the Pethidine, GOOD NEWS I was 9cam dilated. Mean midwife went home and gave birth with gas and air, with a bit of damage that needed repairing in theatre so in the end I had a spinal block after I had given birth!
The whole experience left me feeling neglected.
Steph and Blossom Hypnobirthing
I can’t even begin to out into words how grateful I am to have met Steph. Her support prior to my second birth was life changing. I’m not intending on having another baby but I know that I wouldn’t have another baby without Steph’s guidance and support. Hypnobirthing isn’t cheap but I believe that it is the number one birth essential, forget all the other stuff. What I do know second time round it that your fancy travel system that costs more than a car won’t live up to your needs or expectations. You’ll complain about it, sell it or swap it and probably buy several pushchairs throughout your child’s life in an attempt to find the one (there isn’t one that meets all of your needs, they aren’t stupid!). Get a second hand pushchair/travel system and invest in your child’s life right from the get go. Do you want your child to come into a world of stress and anxiety, or calmness and confidence? Do you know that anxiety and stress actually change your DNA? Your stress and anxiety could even change your child’s DNA in your womb. Changes to DNA can lead to mutations, and mutations can lead to disease. There’s also the psychological impact on you as a mother, you deserve a positive birth experience.
As a second time mum Steph’s sessions gave me so many things, I was able to make PEACE with my first birth and see the POSITIVES. I felt EMPOWERED to know my own body and discuss my wants and needs with medical staff. I had time away from my busy life to RELAX and be mindful. The relaxations really helped me to stop and take a break from the world, turn my phone off and focus on my baby without everyday life taking over. Steph has an amazing breadth and depth of knowledge regarding BIRTH RIGHTS, choices, the physiology of birth and the psychological influences that affect your birthing experience. I looked forward to each session. I was also given a pack and a book, I read all of it and took away from it things that particularly resonated with me. I think that just reading a book or listening to a CD will help you but you’ll be missing out on the major factor that I believe made hypnobirthing so effective for me second time round, that is the one to one time with Steph discussing your own issues and changing your views based on past experience or lack of it to benefit your future.
This time I was clear in my head about my birth plan, I had used a template that Steph recommended using images. I did not want to be induced purely because they thought my baby was big and despite being high risk I wanted a water birth. The one thing about birth is that you have to accept that having a plan is great but births rarely go to plan!
I was admitted to hospital on the Friday for an induction because my baby was showing signs that my placenta was failing and there was a significant risk of still birth. I was able to negotiate that they try to break my waters rather than give me the tape due to the fact that I was already 3cm dilated. The birth centre was busy so I had to wait but I also needed to be monitored fairly regularly so I had to stay in hospital. Water birth was off the cards too.
My waters were broken at 4:30am on Sunday morning. I was excited, laughing and joking with the midwives having contractions but nothing severe. By 6:30am nothing much was happening so I was hooked up to the Synctocin drip, this is a synthetic form of the hormone oxytocin which makes your uterus contract. At about 8 am the contractions were causing me some discomfort so I asked for gas and air. I’m not really sure on what happened after that as I was fully in the zone, not talking much and eyes closed. I do know that my daughter was born at 9:44am about an hour and 45mins after starting the gas and air.
Hypnobirthing isn’t about a pain free birth, trust me it still hurts! It’s about setting yourself up with the tools to get through the birth calmly and with some control over what happens to your body and your baby. My second birth was so much more positive than my first but when I look back on it they were remarkably similar, the main difference being my attitude and outlook. That and I had a lovely pair of midwives; the midwife that was there most of the time was a third year student midwife. That might frighten some people and even I had it on my birth plan no medical students, but when it came down to it I was happy to have her help me give birth. She listened to me, she didn’t have years of experience of other births clouding her judgement, she knew when to ask for help and luckily for them both they just about managed to get their aprons and gloves on before they had to catch a baby. I still had the’ I can’t do this anymore moment’ this is called transition and it basically means you’re too late now get on with it! This time I was able to bring myself back in the room and talk to the midwives about my options before deciding for myself that I would carry on with gas and air. As it turns out she would’ve arrived before they had chance to give me anything anyway. This time I didn’t need any stitches at all and I think that hypnobirthing and being able to listen to my body and take control was a major factor in preventing me tearing.
I’ve been there, spending hours researching prams, choosing nursery designs, getting everything ready, ticking off the lists and packing the hospital bags and these are all things that bring huge amounts of joy and excitement leading up to your birth, particularly your first.
My only advice to any mum to be is to spend as much time thinking about your birth as you do your baby essentials and seriously consider hypnobirthing, give Steph a call or send her a message I promise that you won’t regret doing it.
My story is not your story, but yours can be just as positive.