I was six days “overdue” and beginning to feel like I would be pregnant forever! My midwife offered me a sweep and wanted to talk about induction, but I was keen to keep intervention to a minimum. I think this was partly because we suffer from unexplained infertility and needed IVF in order to conceive. This required endless tests, scans, injections and invasive medical procedures. My whole body was controlled by the amazing doctors at the Agora clinic, and I think once we had successfully conceived I wanted to take some control back. Which is why we decided to do a hypnobirthing course.
I wasn’t sure what to expect prior to meeting Natalie. My husband was very supportive of the idea as he uses self-hypnosis and meditation to manage stress, but whenever I tried it I always give up as I couldn’t sit still for long enough! I was worried that it might be a bit too alternative and I wouldn’t be able to do the exercises, but Natalie was very down to earth and really listened to my concerns. Halfway through the course I realised that it wasn’t actually giving birth that was really worrying me. Don’t get me wrong, I was concerned about the pain and how i was ever going to squeeze a small human being out of me! But my main deep seated fear was that something would go wrong and something bad would happen to the baby. This is a concern felt by all expectant Mums, but IVF often heightens these feelings. We wanted a baby for so long and experienced years of heartache, feeling that it would never happen for us. So when it finally did I couldn’t shake off the disbelief and spent a lot of my pregnancy feeling anxious and worried. Hypnobirthing really helped me to cope with these feelings, and by the end of the course I had techniques to help me to feel more relaxed which I knew was important as my due date approached.
The day before I went into labour I went to see my acupuncturist Elaine Cooke at the Dyke Road Natural Health Clinic. She had been very supportive to me throughout our time trying to conceive and was giving me series of treatments to encourage labour naturally. She was also very supportive of hypnobirthing. The next afternoon I was laying in bed having a rest when I felt a sharp pain in my uterus. I had been having Braxton Hicks for days, so didn’t think much of it and we were planning to go out for dinner so off we went to our local curry house. It was only while we were in there eating that I realised my labour had started as the surges became stronger and regular. It was quite surreal walking home, it felt like the calm before the storm. When we got home my husband started to time the surges but they were only 5 minutes apart, and the hospital said to stop timing them and try to just get some rest. I sent my husband to bed and tried to sleep but the surges were keeping me awake. So I lay on the bed and watched a film, pausing when the surges came and breathing through them as Natalie had taught us. By 4am the surges were much stronger and I felt like things were moving fast. I woke my husband up and he timed my surges which were at 3 minutes apart. So we rang the hospital and they said to come in. And by the time we got there at 4.30am I was fully dilated. I was so relieved, as by now the surges were very strong and I felt better knowing that they would not get much worse.
Once I was in the birthing pool with some gas and air I was able to refocus. My husband was amazing, he talked me though the surges using hypnobirthing techniques and made sure that it was a quiet and calm environment. After two hours the midwife was a bit concerned that he wasn’t emerging as quickly as she was expecting, so I got out of the pool to be examined and they saw that he had his arm trapped above his head in the birth canal. The midwife asked if I would be OK for her to stretch me with her hand in order to help him out, and he finally made his entrance at 8.30am. Luckily I did not tear, I just had some grazes so they let us go home the same day. It was quite surreal to go home less than 24 hours later with our beautiful boy!
The staff at Brighton were absolutely amazing, I could not fault them. They completely respected our birth plan, and the midwife had a good understanding of hypnobirthing. In the end I asked for help coaching him down, and although I ‘pushed’ him out it felt like the right thing. During labour when checking his heart rate the midwife commented that she was surprised that his heart rate was not raised, even at the end. I think this was because I remained relatively calm, at least inbetween contractions anyway!
Sidney’s birth was an amazing and intense experience, and although I may not have followed all of the hypnobirthing principles I do feel that the techniques that Natalie taught us helped me to remain calmer and more relaxed. My husband also found it really helpful, the course helped us to focus as a team and we really worked together to get through the birth. I would not hesitate to recommend hypnobirthing, especially for anyone who has been through the emotional and physical rollercoaster that is IVF.