One of the things I hear a lot is that the skills learnt with Natal Hypnotherapy are not just for the birth but are for life itself – often life changing! here is one such story:-
“I’m 37, I had a baby at 19 which I found traumatic even though clinically it was a straight forward vaginal birth. It was very long, very sore, I got very scared, had my waters broken and wasn’t prepared for a baby at all!
The fear has always stayed with me and I accepted that if I was to have another child I’d just have to put up with it, probably opting for an epidural which scared me in itself not being able to feel my legs. I just thought ‘well if a woman wants a baby she HAS to go through fear and pain, that’s just life’. I didn’t think for a second that there was a way to actually manage the labour calmly, relatively easily and to approach it feeling happy and in control. How wrong was I?!
Discovering Natal Hypnotherapy
My sister had a baby 4 years ago, her first. When I went in to see them after, I expected her to say how awful it was. I remember saying to her ‘I thought I was going to die!’ after my first child so I prepared for the worst and to console her by saying clichés like ‘well it won’t be so bad next time’ and ‘at least it’s over with now’ but I was met with a smiley, calm, joking younger sister! A beautiful girl she’d had, they had to rush in because she’d been so comfortable and in control at home and she was 9 cms on arrival. I couldn’t believe it, she even spoke to me on the phone just before they headed into hospital and we had a normal conversation. She had used Natal Hypnotherapy!
She had another really quick, easy birth at our local midwife led unit, she didn’t even have to practise the technique…it never left her. She was able to feel and realise what was happening to her as the baby was crowning and she actually said she enjoyed it and was jealous I was going to go through it because she wasn’t going to again! I knew we had to take the Natal hypnotherapy course. I had had success giving up smoking and passing my driving test with similar techniques.
My partner Rob and I opted for a course at home from our Natal Hypnotherapy practitioner Rachel. Rachel was great at keeping in touch with me by email to arrange the visit and it was informed and relaxed. We wanted her all to ourselves, but would have been equally happy going to a group course. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but was really pleased with the amount of clear and useful information we received, the techniques we practised and how my partner was included as much as me. He felt extremely useful and I felt the course was designed to really get couples talking about how the birthing mum was going to be supported therefore improving our confidence as we went along. The course was detailed but only with the stuff you needed to know and the way labour and birth was explained was by far the clearest I’ve ever heard and we understood it straight away. I particularly like the way it was broken down into phases.
Part of why birth is so scary is because you think ‘how am I ever going to understand what I’m going through physically? It’s a foreign language!’ So you just don’t try to but worry you or your baby are going to get hurt or die in the worse case scenario.
Practice practice practice
I listened to the Effective Birth Preparation audio tracks every day from half way through my pregnancy and then more like twice a day after the course, Rob did a few times too.
Once I’d done the course the CD made even more sense to me, and I listened to it in a different more positive way. I felt I learnt to breathe properly which also helped me in everyday life and I still use it now when I’m really tired but find it hard to switch off or feel the pressure of life getting to me. I’m sure I didn’t breathe properly before! I also read the book at least twice and read specific parts out to Rob, I loved the book, really easy to read, charming and made loads of sense.
Using the Effective Birth Preparation book’s guidance we discussed what I wanted him to talk to me about, my visualisations and happy thoughts to help me through and I gathered photos on my phone to look at to remind me of peaceful, times of no pain and my loving, caring family. I found it difficult to think of a ‘place to go’ to feel peaceful so photos were my thing.
Looking back it was a huge help being able to do something positive towards the labour and to think that I could take myself out of the expected painful situation using my mind. At that point I didn’t know if it would work….I just hoped it would.
Best ever Christmas present
I had a lot of Braxtons throughout my pregnancy so when I was getting them in the early hours of Christmas day I presumed that’s what they were. I had a bit of a show and felt only excitement but we decided to just see how it went, I wasn’t feeling anything new. I had a few Braxtons which I now know were contractions throughout Christmas day but just carried on. It wasn’t until I was talking to my brother and his wife and had to stop and breathe quite purposefully that my sister in law gave me a knowing look and said ‘maybe?’ I shrugged it off and we put a film on. What was remarkable looking back is I felt only calm. When I had my son, at the first sign of pain I felt scared which just escalated until I felt unsafe at home (which was unnecessary).
Half way through the film the contractions were getting stronger, I think at this point I knew they weren’t just Braxtons but just took myself to the ball and bounced. Another half an hour and I told my son (now 18) to turn off the film and that Rob and I needed to get into ‘the Natal Hynotherapy zone’. Again, I was very matter-of-fact about it and did not feel in the least bit scared or anxious.
The next few hours (but it flew over) I spent upstairs. I seemed to get one long contraction and the urge to wee which didn’t subside until I lay down. I had visons of lying on the bed listening to the CD but the contractions for all they did stop and start were coming fast and strong. I didn’t get a chance to get the CD on. I found I needed Rob there to hold my hand through them and I just shut my eyes. I breathed calmly and quietly during the contractions.
After a while, I thought I’d better ring the unit although I was so calm I really was in two minds whether to bother them! I mentioned (on the advice of my midwife because I’d appear calmer than a woman in an equal stage of labour not practicing N H T) that I was practising Natal Hypnotherapy and I had three contractions in the time I was speaking to her (all for which I just stopped talking and concentrated with my eyes shut). Despite originally telling me just to take some paracetamol and have a bath by the time I had my third contraction she said ‘maybe you should come in just because the contractions are quite close together’. Again I was saying to Rob ‘well I’ll just stay here for a bit longer and see’, I was comfy apart from the contractions!
I quickly started to feel a lot of pressure in my bum and felt flushed and remembered that was one of the ‘make your way to hospital’ signs included in the handouts we received from the course so asked Rob to warm up the car. Actually my son warmed the car up and I held onto his shoulder during a contraction before I left, my son was perfectly calm despite seeing his mum in discomfort and that was because I wasn’t stressed or scared.
The car journey was uncomfortable and I was going through the journey in my head (naturally had eyes closed constantly) which helped, fortunately we didn’t have far to go. By the time we got there I felt I was going to wee everywhere and I could feel the baby’s head low down and a lot of pressure, I knew she was close to being born. I hurried as fast as I could to the unit.
Once examined with help from gas and air (fantastic!) I heard her say to my delight (and feeling slightly smug) I was 10cms. I felt a huge part, quite possibly the hardest part was over. I knew from then in it was downhill until I met my baby and until the contractions and uncomfortableness stopped.
Around that time, I think just after, I had my self-doubt phase. I said to Rob ‘Oh howay man’ (I’m a Geordie) and I felt like I was saying ‘that’s enough now’, that’s certainly how I felt. I’ve read about the self-doubt phase and remember it from my first child so I thought this one was pretty controlled!
I actually enjoyed the pushing stage
Another couple of hours and she was born. The most memorable and surprising sensation was how pushing her out wasn’t painful. It was like having a big poo and my body sort of took over. Before the course I was worried that it would burn and I would tear awfully as I did before but no, it was even somewhat pleasant. I was making animalistic noises at the top of my lungs too which felt good. My birthing body took over because I gave it permission to by keeping myself calm. I realised I didn’t have to do anything, I gave myself permission to just let it happen.
Not once did I feel scared, embarrassed, out of control or worried. I was FULLY aware of what was going on despite having my eyes closed the entire time (I was in my birthing mind). I was straining to hear what the midwifes were saying, listening out for clues that it wasn’t going right or I wasn’t doing it right but nothing. Straight forward. I realise not all births are, but I honestly believe that I/we would have coped with whatever was thrown at us. Every time I was asked to move, or roll over or be examined (experiences which I found particularly stressful and painful in my first birth) I did so quickly and didn’t worry. At one point I didn’t want to move from the ball to the bed because it was uncomfortable to move during a contraction and I was getting them frequently but I out loud told myself ‘come on Alex’, the strength coming from inside and overtaking me and got up and did it.
I even remember asking Rob if HE was ok during the labour. So strong was my ease and confidence. When the midwife was telling me to push I actually could have pushed harder…I think I realised that it was nearing the end and then it would be over and I was quite enjoying it!
Baby girl was born healthy and once I’d been stitched (small tear on my old scar) I was up, showered and ringing my sister overjoyed!!
Fearne is very smiley, she charms everyone and is very calm. She only cries when I’m tardy with making a bottle or she gets very tired. She loves looking quietly at anything and everything and enjoys the company of other people. She sleeps well. She has just turned 5 months and I’ve loved all of it. I think the course has a positive effect even now in our decision making and has taught me the skills to remain calm even if I haven’t had a lot of sleep and because I’m calm and confident with Fearne I believe Rob is too.
I am utterly, utterly thrilled with the life changing positive effect this course had on my experience of the birth of my second child.
Not just the labour but leading up to it too. I found it very easy to absorb myself in the course and found great comfort in the book and CD.
Realising the positivity that knowledge and a little bit of hard work and dedication can have on a life changing experience is unbelievable.
I believe that a woman’s experience of birth affects how she (especially a first time mum) approaches motherhood mentally, and that a healthy mental attitude towards motherhood is of upmost importance and that that also rubs off onto the partner and other family members let alone the baby.
I found those first 6 weeks were the most emotionally challenging of my adult life, especially incorporating breast feeding but I found with the memories of a positive birth behind me it gave me the strength to think ‘I’m capable of ANYTHING’ and cannot be beaten. I didn’t find the course made me closer to my baby, I didn’t feel I needed any help with that but it did enable me to start bonding with her straight away instead of stressing and recovering from a difficult, traumatic, confusing and out of control birth.
It helped my quick physical recovery to reply ‘it was a wonderful birth! No problems!’ to questions about how painful it was, or how much I tore or how many hours of agonising pain I was subjected to in a place where I didn’t know anyone with them sticking pointy things into all my bits without my permission!
I’d like to think Fearne gets her sunny disposition from all of the positive vibes I sent to her with the help of Natal Hypnotherapy and I know it helped Rob to feel empowered during my pregnancy, labour and even now. We both LOVED it, and I tell everyone I get the chance my amazing story.
If you are interested in attending a Natal Hypnotherapy course you can find your local practitioner here