I knew I wanted to do hypnobirthing before I was even pregnant, as it just seemed to make sense to me. I had read the books but my husband is a much more visual learner, so we felt that attending classes would be important for us. After attending the free session Sandra offers, we knew she was the one for us. The session was relaxed and informal and Sandra is able to have a good laugh, so we knew we’d be able to enjoy the course with her, and we did. We both finished feeling calm and confident and looked forward to our son’s birth with excitement. I was genuinely curious as to what it would feel like rather than frightened or anxious!
I experienced the first surges at about 8am the day before my due date. My husband was due to go to Leeds for a gig in the evening and looked a bit worried, but I reassured him this might take a while and I was sure he’d still be able to go. We went about our day as usual, pottering about the house, going for a walk. The midwife called in for a planned visit in the afternoon and said she didn’t think these were real ‘contractions’ as I was so chilled out. Throughout the day they changed; they got closer together at times, slowed at others. I knew my body and my baby knew what to do, so none of it worried me.
By dinner time the surges were starting to feel a bit more intense, so I apologetically told hubby the gig might have to be missed. We agreed on pizza and a funny film on Netflix. After a quick check of the birthing pool (and a quick repair job on a puncture!) and the lighting of candles, we cuddled up on the sofa. As each surge came we experienced them together, him helping me breathe through as we’d been shown. I still wasn’t sure whether this was the real thing or not, surely our baby wouldn’t be here on time?! That’s not supposed to happen!
By about 11pm the film had finished so we switched over to more comedy, laughing together in our cosy birthing room was so lovely. I sent my family a goodnight message saying ‘I’m just going to crack on with having this baby now, speak to you tomorrow’. We talked about whether it was time to call the midwives, but I still felt that we weren’t there yet -surely it should feel more intense than this?
I finally asked my husband to make the call at around 3am, and the first midwife and my doula arrived around 30 minutes later. The midwife was shocked that the pool was not full yet, (she seemed to think there was some urgency to this!) so the taps were turned to full as I paced around the living room. I suddenly felt the urge to throw up, and as I did my waters broke. I was very pleased to get into the pool moments later, and the feeling was amazing. The midwife read my birth plan which asked for minimal interventions, and my husband did a brilliant job of getting her set up in the other room with snacks and drinks and somewhere to work. I was able to stay in my beautifully calm, candlelit room in the knowledge that the midwives were next door if I needed them.
Women are often told that in birth our ‘dignity goes out the window’. I can honestly say this could not be further from my experience. I felt beautiful throughout as I bathed naked in warm water with my husband by my side. My doula later said I was ‘like a little Buddha’! As the feelings intensified in my body I found myself humming through each surge. At times I held someone’s hand, at other times I asked for the water to be poured down my back. I don’t know how long this went on for, I was within myself, working with my baby.
After a short period of doubt which I later recognised had been the transition stage, I felt my body change gear and it started to open. The feeling is indescribable, but I know for certain that I didn’t push at any point; I didn’t need to. I felt my baby pushing further down in my body and everything widening and opening for him to arrive. When I reached down, I briefly felt his head crowning and was amazed! He descended two or three times before finally emerging into the world in a great
heave of intense love, my beautiful 8lb boy. I scooped him into my arms and we locked eyes and I have been madly in love ever since.
I don’t know how long we stayed like that, but I know that the midwives were keen to get hold of him because he wasn’t crying, and I’m certain it’s because he didn’t need to, he’d come into the world so naturally. He didn’t cry properly until day 4! I do remember the midwife introducing herself to me because she said I’d been so focused that I’d not really seen her before now, and she was right. It really was an instinctive state where no one but me, my baby and my husband existed. Unfortunately I had some complications after the birth and had to go into hospital for placenta removal, but nothing could take away from the experience I had of bringing my son into the world. I was able to ride the wave of oxytocin until we were able to come home again and settle into our new family bubble.
I have seen criticisms of hypnobirthing that it minimises the effort and work of labour and birth for women, but I don’t think that’s the case. Hypnobirthing allowed me to let go of fears about the process and connect with my body and instincts. It is a choice not to use the word pain because that leads to fear, but hypnobirthing does not teach that birth is not intense. My body worked the hardest it has ever worked in those hours, it was a gargantuan effort! The difference is that I trusted in the process and was able to relax enough to allow my body to do that phenomenal work. The labour and birth of my son was a profound experience and my proudest moment. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
My boy is now six months old and our little family of three has the most wonderful bond which I believe was started by us learning hypnobirthing together and having the birth that we did. Our boy is very chilled, very happy and thriving. I like to think by working together to allow him to be born naturally and calmly I have given him the best start that I possibly could.