I have often heard from midwives over the years that they love to attend births with women using Natal Hypnotherapy as they aways feel so calm them selves! This week’s birth story reiterates that feeling , but from the mums perspective.
“I wanted to write and tell you about the wonderful, calm birth of our little girl, born at 38 + 2 weeks. My first cramps started at 3am and Robyn was born at 12.50pm, so pretty quick. All went as I hoped – she had been in the right position for a long time and I had used a birthing ball in the months before, so maybe this helped get her head down.
Looking back, listening to the Natal Hypnotherapy cd’s (the labour companion with the relaxing birth music) and doing the Natal Hypnotherapy course with Laura early on in my pregnancy really helped to get me mentally ready early on, and stay so calm which was key to my state of mind when the big day came.
I would listen to the tracks on my ipod and use the breathing techniques on my commute to work. I really feel you need time for your subconscious to absorb the information so you can truly believe that you can have a positive birth experience. I was so calm during my pregnancy and this followed all the way through to when baby arrived. I gave birth over a beanbag for support and with gas and air, which I had wanted to do and which felt more natural to me. There was no bed involved, contrary to every birth you have seen in films or on TV. The course made me really think about and understand how different positions work when giving birth.
It was also invaluable to have my partner with me, who had done the course as well and was just as prepared as I was. He was great during the birth and really helped me stay so calm using a lot of the techniques we learnt during the course, with the Natal Hypnotherapy music on, electric candles, calm dark environment and lavender spray. A very useful technique was staring into my partners’ eyes during contractions – it really helped to calm them down.
The midwives wanted to stay in my suite as they said it was so calm! The final bit of the birth was noisier, but you just make the noises your body needs you to make! My body really did know what to do in the end and my baby did just come out as nature intended.”
Natalie attended a course with Laura Tammaro in Windsor.
To get your own free copy of the Pregnancy Relaxation hypnobirthing track click here
Thank you Kate for your honest and candid review of the book
Before the Birth
This was the most useful tool in the preparation for the birth that I came across and reading it prior to doing any Yoga or NCT classes was really beneficial. In a very practical (and never patronising) way it describes what will physically happen to your body and this. Along with the practical exercises, and by understanding the process I was able to logically address my fears. From my personal experience I am most afraid of placental abruption – so I have been able to eliminate this by understanding it as much as I can and opting for the injection to artificially deliver the placenta post birth to reduce the risk.
Real life experiences
I was already a convert of this type of therapy as I used a similar system to give up smoking many years ago so I already have the confidence that what Margaret talks about will work but in addition I particularly like the real life stories and as my NCT friends are gradually giving birth its interesting that those who are the most prepared and calm are having the easiest experiences.
Advice for birthing partners
I think this is probably the most important part of the book. The bit about asking is mine or the babies life in any danger and then taking the time to consider I think will be one of the most powerful tools on our side once in the hospital environment. Having already done a short stay at the hospital where I am having the baby I know that they are very process and procedure driven which may or may not be right for me. (Note I am a high risk pregnancy so hospital only option)
Things that could be added
I thought this book was excellent as a whole but if Margaret had any plans to expand it – it would be really interesting to know any projects or case studies she has done in hospitals that have utilised this process and hear from the point of view of the hospitals, consultants and GPs (not the midwives). I have come across numerous midwives and birthing centres that strongly support this approach from friends, to birthing centres that run hypno birthing courses and a student midwife at my yoga class keen to learn more…. but the GPs and Consultants I have come across told me (and I quote) ‘birthing plans are a waste of time I don’t understand why anyone would opt for anything than an epidural!’ This is the reality of the medical system that operates and it’s the consultants and GPs (not the midwives) that make the decisions about your care all the way through the antenatal process especially if you are a high risk pregnancy- and they are supposed to be the experts so its a brave person that challenges their thinking. This is probably a bit much to put on Margaret’s shoulders but it would only take a few GPs to support this system and the ball would be rolling.
After the Birth
So did it work… yes!
Although I didn’t think so at the time! My labour story is by no means the horror story that many of my poor NCT friends seemed to have suffered. There were a couple of things that swung in my favour that really helped.
Positive events that I believe were linked to the hypno – therapy and the effective birth prep book:
- I remained in a zone for every contraction. The 321 relax technique and turning down the dial on the pain really helped. Interestingly they helped not just with the contractions but also for the internal examinations.
- I ended up having to get my husband to tell the hospital that I was coming in as they thought I sounded too calm on the phone. When I got there I was 5cm dilated.
- Unfortunately, when I entered the self-doubt phase I was asking for an epidural. My cervix got stuck at 9cm dilated. I had a hugely supportive midwife who had read and understood my birth plan. Between her and my husband they persuaded me to go back into my ‘zone’ I did this as some of the words from the tape came to me from nowhere. Every contraction takes you one step closer to meeting your baby’
The midwife said my labour was really inspirational. I had a chuckle at this because it was way more painful than I had expected and calm/ inspirational would be last word I would use to describe what was going on in my head! But all in it was a positive experience. My husband said that although I had felt I was out of control compared to the other wailing women in the delivery unit I was incredibly calm! I didn’t even give a second thought to the issues with my placenta and Maia got two 9s and a 10 on her APGAR tests straight after birth and I couldn’t ask for more than that.
I would definitely recommend this book but I think it needs to be read in conjunction with other activities such as the NCT classes and the yoga classes (It does say this in the book).
Things that didn’t work for me – I went so far into my own zone that I didn’t want anyone near me! Including my husband. It wasn’t the candles and massage oil Zen like experience I had imagined but it got me through and a healthy baby.”
Having worked in the arena of natural birth for almost 10 years and learnt from some amazing people along the way, it is humbling and honouring to have some of those people recognise and even praise the work I am doing.
The wonderful Sheila Kitzinger has sent me the following review of my book:-
‘Here is a fascinating and impressive book that empowers a woman to prepare for birth drawing on her own inner resources. – She doesn’t have to depend on others to discipline and train her, but through insight and understanding, and using skills of relaxation, rhythmic breathing, and the art of creative imagination, she can focus on the birth energy released in her body.
She learns to manage pain and face the challenge of labour, whether it is fast or slow, and she is under her own control, nobody else’s. The material is well researched and vividly presented, and any woman who studies and rehearses the author’s practical suggestions helps herself towards a positive – even exultant – birth experience.’
You can read more about Sheila’s work at:-
I feel honoured and excited to have had Michel Odent read my book and send me the following endorsement:-
“The book by Maggie Howell is much more than a practical guide for birth preparation. It is a book about human nature. It includes several dominant themes. One of them is the negative effect, in certain situations, of the knowledge adults have acquired the human way, compared in particular with the knowledge transmitted from generation to generation among non human animals. It is significant that the book starts with a chapter entitled ‘mammalising birth’. Several of the selected quotations, presented as foot notes, are opportunities to reintroduce this dominant theme: ‘Aerodynamically the bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumblebee does not know that, so it goes on flying anyway’ and, some pages later, ‘a child should not be denied a balloon because an adult knows that sooner or later it will burst’.
Obviously, Maggie has digested the contents of the first pages of the bestseller written several thousand years ago. She has been able to interpret ‘the sin of consuming the fruit of the tree of knowledge’, and she has noticed the significant association, in the first pages of this famous ancient book, between knowing too much and being condemned to have difficult birth. In modern scientific language we can explain this association by introducing the concept of neocortical inhibition, and by claiming that the huge development of the neocortex – the brain of the intellect – is the main reason for difficult births in our species. The solution to cope with this human handicap is to put the neocortex at rest. This is why ‘natal hypnotherapy’ can be presented as a set of tools to overcome powerful neocortical inhibitions and the effects of thousands of years of cultural conditioning.”