I am currently 8 weeks post-partum and when I look back at my pregnancy and childbirth, I see how it was a positive experience for me even though it didn't go the way I had hoped. Hypnobirthing isn't about being hypnotised to join a hippie cult where everyone squats and gives birth beside a tree (which is what I initially thought). It's about providing the mum-to-be and birthing partner with the tools, techniques and biological knowledge; to empower them to have a positive child birthing experience. This is exactly what it did for me. The key word I took away from the sessions with Ana Piera from The Dancing Birth was Empowerment because the more informed I was, the more I confident I felt giving birth in a foreign country.
The main reason I opted for these hypnobirthing sessions was because I wanted a positive birth experience without loosing control. Looking back at my previous two experiences at childbirth, I was not focused or relaxed, which meant my body was much more tense, leading to more pain, angry out-bursts and self-doubt. During these sessions, I learnt how to relax my body, let contractions come to me rather than fighting it and to accept certain things that are beyond my control rather than being terrified at the mention of an epidural or c-section.
All this was put to the test when at my routine ultrasound a week before my
due date, my gynaecologist worryingly told me my amniotic fluid had dropped
dangerously low and therefore I would need to be induced. After running to do
the school pick up for my other children and making sure they were all set for
the next few days without me, I did the most stupid thing of reading articles
online about the possible consequences of low amniotic fluid. That panic of not
knowing what on Earth is going to happen next combined with the online horror stories had me freaking out until I remembered this is the whole point of
hypnobirth – so I put my headphones on and listened to the Wise Hippo positive audio's I received within the programme and kept those headphones onthe whole time. It was a battle in my mind to stay positive whilst concerned.
Once admitted into hospital, I knew the procedure because hypnobirthing sessions taught me to always be informed and so throughout my pregnancy, I had bombarded my doctor with a million questions each visit. She's probably sick of me but that's how I felt empowered. Especially at each ultrasound because I was the only one who cannot tell what I'm looking at on the screen, is that the eyes or a liver? I had no idea, it all looks grey, so I'd ask to find out – every single time. Okay so she's probably definitely sick of me, but therelationship with my doctor improved. I also had a chat with my Doctor about the cannula as I didn't want to have one inserted. I found that during my previous childbirth, it put me off from using that arm. However my Doctor did explain I will need it especially as I was to be induced, but thankfully I was able to accept this after talking to Ana, and turned out I did need.
Once admitted and measured, my midwife noticed I was already 2cm dilated, so the next 2 hours was a rush to be induced. This means the midwife was dashing in and out of my room trying to get the prep work finished. At this point I felt emotional as I didn't feel like a patient, but rather a number. It took a good cry in the toilets to compose myself and remember all that Ana taught me. “I can do this”, I kept telling myself as I was strapped to the Cardiotocography (CTG) monitor. I was strapped up to the CTG monitor for most my labour as my nurses needed to keep an eye on the baby's heartbeat.
The main part of the hypnobirthing sessions I benefited from was acceptance for things I cannot control and focus on my breathing. The Wise Hippo audio's got me through the pain and listening to affirmations like “my body was designed to do this”, kept me from doubting myself. But since I was strapped to the CGT monitor for most the time while laying on the hospital bed, the pain was horrendous. This is where the hypnobirthing techniques didn't work for me as within the sessions you learn positions and movements that help ease the pain, such as using a birthing ball or swaying your hips, but I couldn't put any
of these methods to practise as I was only off the monitor for toilet breaks and a little walk around my room to help blood circulation. The annoying thing was every time I would move whilst strapped to the monitor, it would loose the baby's heartbeat and a nurse would come to adjust.
Within the sessions I was told to conserve as much energy as possible, so once induced and the mild contractions were ongoing, I did take many naps during the night, whilst listening to the soothing audio's. This definitely helped saved energy I needed for later, when active labour started and I was stuck at 7cm for a long time. During this time, I'm so grateful that although my husband wasn't able to attend any hypnobirthing sessions with me, I went through techniques I. learnt with him, at home. As soon as I was starting to fight the. contractions, my husband began breathing properly and helping my mimic the same pace to help calm down my short breaths. We then tried other methods such as positive touch and countering contractions with pressure, but I disliked the feeling and we stopped.
Whilst stuck at 7cm, my waters were ruptured and the cannula came in handy
as I needed antibiotics and extra hydration. There was rising concern as my
contractions were showing up very intense and I was having the sensation to start pushing but I was not fully dilated yet, so was told to not push. The intense serious atmosphere in the room almost had me hyperventilating because the possibility of a C-section was on the table. Again my husband navigated me through this with positive speech, holding me, breathing. and reminding me to not loose focus.
To help me dilate, my midwife began to sweep the membrane inside the cervix
in a circular motion. At this point I was engulfed in pain from not being able to
move and the midwife sweeping, I ripped the headphones off my head and everything I learnt went out the window. My reaction was to kick my midwife and yell. Luckily as I began to dilate, I kept telling myself to accept this and
stop fighting it, resulting in faster dilation and given the green light to start the pushing phase. They say giving birth laying down on a bed is not the natural way to give birth but in these situations where you have to be laying down, I found I was prepared for this possibility and accepted this is the best position for my birth. The final pushes had me defeated as I cried out in pain until that energy I saved earlier gave me a sudden surge of energy to help get my baby out. And when she did come out and greet us with a cry, I've never felt more
proud of myself.
This birth was definitely not easy and not everything I learnt suited me, but remembering to accept the situation rather than fight it, and having my husband know the techniques, really helped me in this scenario. It goes to show, hypnobirth has benefits across different times of births because there is no such thing as a perfect birth. I was also pleasantly shocked that I had found myself overwhelmed with love and instantly developed a fantastic bond with my little girl that I never experienced with my other two children. I believe hypnobirthing helped me become more conscious of growing her and surround her and myself in positivity, that I felt no resent from the labour or have any depressive thoughts. I found I struggled with this previously. Overall, I can't recommend hypnobirthing enough. All my scepticism from the hippie sounding ideology were actually proven false. It truly is all in the knowledge and positive mindset to be able to dance with your partner through the “scary” experience called birth.
A huge thank you Ana for guiding my dancing birth experience.
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