Updated: May 6, 2020
Hypnobirthing was recommended to me by a friend George, co-founder of the birth experience company and after reading the Hypnobirthing, Mongan method book she leant me I decided to complete an online course. Ideally, I would have liked to have done face to face sessions, but this wasn’t really an option as I had left it a little late in my pregnancy. The science around what the body is capable of and what happens during birth really prepared me for what was to come and taught me invaluable techniques which helped me to feel positive and confident about going into labour.
I was due on Friday October 4th and it was on this date that I thought my membranes had released. I’d had a stretch and sweep the day before, so I was hopeful for some imminent signs that baby was on his way. After some research, I decided that my membranes probably hadn’t released, but called the maternity unit to check with them. They asked me to come in to be assessed. As expected, my membranes hadn't released, it was just my weakened bladder letting me down! During my assessment, to my disappointment, the midwife told me that she did not think the baby was ready to come anytime soon and explained that the head wasn’t engaged, and I wasn’t dilated. Following this, I had a weekend of long walks (waddles), bouncing on the birthing ball, drinking endless cups of raspberry leaf tea and diffusing clary sage oil constantly, in an attempt to try and encourage baby to make an appearance. On the Sunday evening I had a bath and listened to my positive affirmations – I remember feeling extremely relaxed and calm.
At around 3.30am Monday morning, I woke up with what felt like stomach cramps. I couldn’t sleep so went downstairs and put the TV on, not thinking too much of it as I had in the back of my mind what the midwife had said to me just two days before. I thought it might be Braxton Hicks, if not a stomach-ache. I found myself naturally starting to do the hypnobirthing breathing techniques I had learnt to manage the cramps (surges), which enabled me to remain calm and focussed. My husband woke up about an hour later and came down to see if I was alright, so I decided to have a bath and take some paracetamol to see if the cramps would subside. However, they became more intense and regular. We began timing them and I used a Tens machine along with breathing techniques and pacing to manage the contractions. I felt calm and in control and managed to have some laughs with my husband between contractions.
My midwife had told us not to call until I was having three surge in ten minutes with each surge lasting around a minute (active labour). By 7.30am I had got to this point and my husband called the midwife unit. We were advised that I would likely still be in early labour and needed to try and manage at home for a bit longer. By 8am I told him to call back as I could feel the baby coming. The unit said that we could come in if we wanted but that we would be unable to go to the midwife led unit, as we had planned, but if we could stay home another hour it would be better than coming in and then having to be sent home. Shortly after my husband delivering me this news, he was back on the phone again telling them that I was saying that I needed to push the baby out. By this point I no longer wanted to go anywhere but wanted them to send someone to the house as I felt that I was going to have the baby at home. The midwife then advised us to come to the hospital and instructed my husband to ensure that I had knickers and a pad on in order for them to check any fluid loss. Until this point, I had only lost very little. I had been pacing around with nothing on for the past hour or so as I felt that baby's head was about to come out and didn't want to restrict this in any way, so was reluctant to put anything on. I remember taking a deep breath between contractions and telling myself that I needed to get to hospital, baby was on his way. With the support of my husband, I managed to get dressed and into the car.
I got onto the back seat on all fours, with my husband accidentally shutting my flip-flopped feet in the door as he closed it! There was no way I could have sat on my bottom at this point, as I could feel baby's head coming out. There was, of course, Monday morning traffic, and in my husband’s excitement he forgot the way and we ended up taking the longer route. The entire car journey I felt that my body was pushing baby out. I did not push with my body as I was concerned that he would come out while we were driving.
As soon as we finally made to the hospital grounds, there was even more traffic on the route to the department we needed to get to. At this point, I pulled down my bottoms (no doubt to the horror of the other lane of traffic, who were at eye level beside me). My husband turned around and attempted to pull them back on, as he had been instructed to do so. I felt down below and could feel the head and told him the head was out. He put the pedal to the floor, got up on the wrong side of the road to run the red temporary traffic light that was holding us up. We pulled up outside the maternity unit, where he ran in and shortly after came running back out with multiple hospital staff. One of the midwives came out to the car and told me with my next surge the baby's body would be out. She was right, and within a minute our baby boy was born at 10.56am, in the back of the car.
I am extremely grateful that I was recommended hypnobirthing, as it allowed me to remain calm and collected, and helped me to manage my breathing. Without it, I strongly believe I would have panicked and negatively impacted my birthing experience. I would definitely recommend hypnobirthing to any of my friends or family, as it has taught me invaluable skills that I can carry with me and use in the future.