Thanks for your interest in my tweet of the results from my Microsoft Band during the birth of my third baby.
This is the third birth during which I have used your Natal Hypnotherapy and all my birth experiences, while all vastly different, were amazing, empowering and life-defining. I apologize now for the length of this email but there is little else I love talking about more than the births of my babies!
Our first two births were in hospital- although my second daughter was nearly born in the car park! And we had a doula for the first two births as well. I believe that if I hadn’t prepared so earnestly for my first birth with your CD and book, it would have ended in a C-section. I think my husband thought I was a little mad with my flowcharts and cue cards but all the preparation was well worth it. Eleanor, my eldest, was back to back and the labour was nearly 3 days long, starting at 38 weeks. But even though I needed to be induced to get her to turn the right way and eventually opted for an epidural after labouring for nearly 3 days, I was always calm, relaxed and in control. I discovered that all I needed was a body to lean into and for someone to repeat 3, 2, 1 Relax. The midwives left me to myself because I was so calm and this prevented me from having to fend off interventions. In the end, I made the choice to be induced and to have the epidural when everything stalled at 8cm. But it was the right choice as she was born less than an hour later – perfectly healthy and calm.
My second daughter’s birth was completely different- perhaps my body new what it was doing this time! I started listening to the CD’s around 36 weeks. I never managed to stay awake past the beach part during any of the sessions but oddly I would always ‘wake’ up to you counting back from 5 to 1! I worked through the book again as I did fear another 3 day labour! Luckily, Penelope had other plans and I woke up to contractions at 7am the day after my due date. I managed to get Eleanor dressed and fed and my husband took her to nursery. By the time he came back I was in fully established labour and his question, ‘Shall we put on the TENS machine’ was as if he asked if I wanted to go to Hawaii! But as I hadn’t gone through transition with the first, we didn’t recognize it even though it was exactly as you described as the ‘self-doubt phase’. So when I told my husband, just a couple hours into labour that I think I needed to push- he didn’t believe me. It wasn’t until our doula came, took one look at me and ordered us into the car immediately, that we accepted I did indeed need to push! But through this ‘drama’ I was always calm- listening to your stead-fast voice on my MP3 player. Even when my waters broke in front of the car park ticket machine, complete with a queue of people, I didn’t come out of my peaceful space. Penelope entered into this world very shortly after but was greeted by two ecstatic parents who couldn’t believe how smoothly and quickly it had all gone- and how I had managed the entire birth without a puff of gas and air!
When I fell pregnant just 5 months later, my husband Paul and I felt like old warriors at this whole birth thing. So we decided to go for a home birth and we also opted to not have a doula. In fact, we did consider doing a ‘free-birth’ but neither of us felt confident enough to go that far- so we compromised with making a note in our birth plan that we wanted Paul to ‘deliver’ the baby with coaching from the midwives. We also knew this would be our last baby so we wanted this birth to be different than the others. We researched lotus births and cord ties, placenta smoothies and joined the local homebirth groups. But through all that- I knew that no matter where I had the baby or how it played out- I would be using Natal Hypnotherapy to see me through the experience. From our first two, we are convinced that calm births make calm babies- so it was essential we kept to the same plan. I started listening to the CD’s from about 36 weeks again but I had a few hang ups that I couldn’t shake. I put it down to not being able to visualize the birth at home as my previous ones were in hospital. So I purchased your homebirth CD around 38 weeks hoping that would help. It did and I made a concerted effort to stay awake for at least a couple sessions. As the days went by, I became more excited about the birth- ready for another wonderful experience.
I woke up to my waters breaking at midnight on the 21st of June- 2 days before my due date. We were so excited- if all went well, we’d have plenty of time to have the baby while our girls slept and they could wake up to a new sibling! Except one hiccup- no contractions. We went back to bed and I fell asleep listening to your calming voice. I was still optimistic the next morning when I woke that all would be ok and when the girls were picked up by their grandparents, I thought- ‘Right, my body was just waiting for the house to be empty and for us to have all the time in the world to welcome the new baby’. It was father’s day and it felt funny to not have our girls around- but we went to ‘work’ at getting the contractions to start. We tried all the tricks from long walks to nipple stimulation. I even had a doula friend come and give me a reflexology session. As requested, we went to the hospital for a quick once-over for them to see all was ok. They wanted to plan an induction for the following day at 8am. I resisted, sure that things would get going soon but suddenly, I felt like I was on the hospital’s ‘clock’. As the night closed in and we readied ourselves for bed, I became anxious about being induced and having to do the labour in hospital. In retrospect, what I should have accepted, was that my little one was actually giving me a gift, a day alone with my husband to go on long walks, eat and sleep as we pleased and just generally enjoy a day in anticipation of her arrival. Trying to keep my emotions in check, I put on your hypnotherapy session, closed my eyes and promptly fell asleep.
Next thing I knew, I was having mild contractions. I smiled in my sleep and relaxed back into my pillow. By 3:30am, I wasn’t able to sleep through the contractions any more. My lovely husband went to work readying the ‘nest’ in our ensuite, helping me put on my TENS machine and starting to record the contractions on an app on his phone. It was right after I called the labour line and the midwives were notified and on their way that I put on the band and started to record the ‘new workout’. It was 3:56am. Paul had given me the band for my birthday a week earlier and we had talked about using it during labour then. This was also related to an article I read about the lack of female input on technology development in Silicon Valley. While the Microsoft band is fully kitted out to support a round of golf – there aren’t any functions related to pregnancy, childbirth or postpartum experiences like breastfeeding for example. So I wanted to record my labour and share it with Microsoft in the hope it would catch an eye and perhaps other people would use their bands to do the same. Obviously, my data is pointless without other data to compare it to. Wouldn’t it be amazing if a woman, not using Natal Hypnotherapy (or similar) recorded her labour experience? I wonder if her heart rate would spike higher, or build over time (as opposed to mine). If the data would show how much ‘harder’ labour is physically if you are fearful or even the body’s response to the use of other forms of pain relief? So, I would love to get the word out and encourage other women to record their experiences and perhaps, even to influence the Microsoft Band’s development.
The midwives arrived around 5am. By that time my contractions were regular and strong and we stopped recording their timings. I have to say, I feel quite proud when a midwife observes me in labour- I love the first time they see me go through a contraction and then, almost dumbfounded, say something like, “Wow. You are so relaxed. Was that really a contraction?” I also love how proud Paul looks when they say this. He puffs up and it gives me even more strength. The midwives happily let me be- following our birth plan asking for as little intervention as possible. I didn’t want any internal examinations- only to check the babies heartbeat- which was always steady and happy throughout. I did start to use the gas and air around 5:30am. This was absolute bliss. I remember laughing after the first ‘hit’ and thinking to myself- My God- with this, I can withstand anything! Of course, no matter how wonderful the Gas and Air was- nothing was better than just surrendering to a contraction- burying my head into Paul’s abdomen- allowing myself to just sink down and accept the sensations. Around 6am, the midwife asked me to use the loo to make sure my bladder was empty. The contractions were now fierce and it was taking all of my will to keep my head. I became desperate to know how far along I was- I wanted to be examined. Then I became a bit ‘paranoid’ for lack of a better word and was convinced that my husband and the midwife were planning to transfer me into hospital. The look on Paul’s face when I suggested this was almost comical as the conversation they were having was about getting the space ready for me to push.
Sometime around 6:30, I got into position to push. I was on all fours- leaning up against the footstool of our nursery chair. I was overtaken by emotion and started to cry, asking if it would all be over soon. The midwife responded with, “all the signs look good. I’m going to observe your next three contractions and we’ll know where we’re at”. Funnily enough she must have known it was only going to take a few more contractions before the baby’s head would be born. I did then become serious and focused but also very happy. Just as the CD said, the sensation of the baby moving down the birth canal was pleasurable. I remember this with Penelope’s birth as well- being almost surprised at how it felt pleasurable, productive and powerful. I don’t recall any pain from the crowning- just the sensation of her moving down and knowing that I would soon be able to give that one last ‘satisfying push’ and our baby would be born. My husband took a video of me pushing. It really shows how calm and serene this part was. Just breathing my baby down.
I could hear my husband being coached by the midwife through the process. Antigone Lee King was born at 6:56am, weighing 8lbs 1 oz. Paul was the first to have his hands on our baby as she was born and I was second as he passed her up through my legs. My first thoughts were how slippery she was—and that she was a ‘she’! But it was incredible, once again, to hold a brand new life in my arms and gaze down into a serene face. Our third little girl was calm, quietly blinking in the morning light. It wasn’t until later that day that she really showed us the power of her lungs! Immediately, she went on the breast as the emotions of the experience washed over me.
My placenta delivered shortly thereafter and Paul and I were overcome with joy and relief that everything had gone to plan. We had our baby girl at home in the most relaxing, calm environment possible. Our midwives were so supportive and open to our birth plan. As I was recovering in bed- I only needed a stich or two but the after pains were pretty terrible this time around- I could hear my husband and the midwives discussing the birth. “Textbook’ they said, ‘impressive’, ‘she’s very good at labour’…all such wonderful things to hear- but really I owe those compliments to your technique.
Thank you again!