I had been very apprehensive about this, my 3rd birth. After experiencing two very different, but equally long and difficult, births I wanted my final birthing experience to be…well amazing. I won’t lie in my head I wanted the magical and special birth that you see in films and hear about from that friend of a friend. I wanted someone to guide me and I was running out of ideas. I had read every book there was available on having the ‘best/calm birth’ and then a friend suggested we attend a hypnobirthing taster session at The Wilson. I went there honestly thinking that even if I came out with something…anything, that would help me look on the birthing experience in a more positive way, then it was worth spending a few hours of my Saturday morning there.
Once we got to know the other mums, some of which already had children like me and some first time mums, I began to talk about my birth experiences with them. Something I hadn’t done in detail before. No one wants to listen to your horrendous birth story do they? Especially not a first time mum already apprehensive of her impending experience. This was different. Beth and the ladies gave me time to talk about it, work through it and actually find the positive in what I thought were totally rubbish births. My opening statement to Beth was ‘I’m no good at giving birth’ Beth changed that. Yes I had two different and not so great experiences but no I wasn’t rubbish at giving birth. I had, with my first, been unprepared (and not had the best support, but don’t worry ladies it was not a hospital in Gloucestershire!) I had after a horrible 21 hours of labour came out of hospital and straight into postnatal depression with a sprinkling of psychosis. My second birth I had wonderful midwives (Gloucester) who had been tremendous throughout. I had a very long birth, which happens, but I had been unprepared and panicked, fighting it the whole time. With Beth, I was finally able to talk about it.
I left after the 2 hour session feeling totally positive about my next birth. Feeling reassured that my last two births I had been brave and, although unusual experiences, I had done the best I could under the circumstances. I felt EMPOWERED!
So I enrolled on the day course. A whole day of amazingness. I learned about breathing…yes breathing! Something that we do every day but I learned how to use my breathing to help go with the contractions and to think about them positively. Now, not until I actually used them in birth did I realise the power of these breathing techniques (more about that later!). We talked about how our hormones help and adapt during pregnancy and birth and how our minds play a huge part in the whole birth experience. Overall I came away feeling ready, positive and prepared. Why, I thought to myself, had I not embraced hypnobirthing before? Why had I struggled through, alone? I no longer felt apprehensive or scared. For the first time, I was so excited to give birth. It was like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I was now totally ready to have the incredible experience I had always hoped for.
Cue 2 months later…
I was in TGI Fridays with my other two munchkins and my amazing mum who had been living with us for a few weeks (travelling back to Yorkshire to feed dad at the weekends….Dad, if you are reading this, you’re 73 please learn to use the toaster!) I had been having Braxton Hicks from 2pm just tightening and not painful…but they became quite regular, between 5 and 10 minutes. I ordered an Oreo milkshake…it was time and I needed sugar! Then around 6pm they turned into mild period pains again regularish. The breathing techniques were so useful at this point. I was calm, my breathing helped me focus, I enjoyed the experience knowing that with each contraction I was one step closer to having my baby in my arms. I was happy at home imagining what my daughter would look like. I flipped through my YESMUM cards, Beth had added to our box of goodies on the course. Reminding myself I was strong, I could do this, I was totally ready, I was happy and positive. I checked my bag and waited.
Then at midnight the contractions literally changed instantaneously they turned strong and powerful. To Gloucester hospital we went.
After a comedy of errors; such as the motorway being shut, us getting trapped between the swinging doors of the hospital and let’s not forget the wheel chair that had a mind of its own and in our rush decided to behave like an out of control supermarket trolley. All the time reminding myself to breath. Remembering the hypnobirthing techniques and stories from the MP3s I had downloaded, I breathed with the contractions.
We got to delivery suite. I was so relieved. The midwife Hannah was amazing. She asked if she could check to see if I was ready and as she did so, my waters burst…well flooded! ‘Right’ she said, ‘Baby is on its way’. She asked how I would like to give birth and in what position. I told her that my other two births were fairly long and requested to get my hypnobirthing cds on. She gave me a look and I understood I would have no time and with that I stood up…I was calm, I was ready and I was excited, all the feelings I had longed for. I managed to have a few sucks on the gas and air before I could feel the urge to push. I used the breathing techniques we had been shown and breathed into the contraction. It doesn’t feel like you should be doing it at all but it really works ladies! I stood up and leant over the bed to let gravity take hold and 4 pushes later and much to the surprise of everyone she suddenly arrived!! It all happened in 30 minutes. I was elated and shocked and in love and my partner just kept repeating ‘she’s here, I can’t believe it she’s already here’.
I’m so grateful for the breathing techniques, they made the contractions endurable. I wish I had practiced hypnobirthing before with my others. The birth was beautiful and funny and incredible.