As this is my third pregnancy, I definitely wanted to try hypnobirthing to make it a more positive birthing experience. I have always been intrigued by anything hypnobirthing since hearing so many of my friends who had tried it and said it was one of the best choices they’ve ever made.
I went into my first pregnancy totally unaware of what was going to happen, the pain, the duration and the aftermath, so to help with my anxiety of the unknown I decided to take all the pain relief I could get! After two round trips to the hospital and back again because I wasn’t dilated enough, tripping out at home on codeine, an epidural at the hospital and 22 hours of labour, Rocco was born at 11.25pm on 25th June 2014. Seven days later I haemorrhaged at home and was rushed to hospital. The medical professionals could not stem the bleeding and huge blood clots for 20 hours so I had to have an emergency operation and three blood transfusions. I was home a week later tired, exhausted and feeling like I had been run over by a bus.
Second Time Around
Its fair to say my first experience was traumatic but that didn’t put me off, as I went on to have my second pregnancy eighteen months later. I was seven days overdue and cried for seven days thinking something was wrong. Why wasn’t my baby ready to meet me? After a sweep at the hospital and going to bed that night, my second labour started off fine. I had done this before so I knew how intense it was going to get. I asked for my epidural which I had last time, and was taken to a room with big bright lights and left there for hours. My labour slowed down and I read my magazines to pass the time. When the midwife came to check on me and realised baby’s heart rate had dropped. I was rushed into theatre, with a pen thrown in my hand to sign a consent form for a cesarean. I cried clutching onto Paul’s hand. I was scared. But as they were scrubbing up, the baby’s head had crowned and I was told to push. Within three pushes, Romeo was born at 9.15am on 22nd September 2016.
My Positive Birth
After hearing about hypnobirthing I wanted to find out more because there was no way I was going through another period of stress and anxiety like my previous. I had always wanted a water birth and wanted to give labour a go without pain relief, so I researched a few courses and bought the book ‘Your Baby, Your Birth’ by Hollie De Cruz. I was engrossed and amazed by my findings. The concept of hypnobrithing is not hippy-dippy, making whale noises and listening to Enya, its about having a positive birthing experience controlled by breathing techniques, meditation, affirmations and staying in control of your body and mind. Your body is designed to birth your baby, women and all mammals have been doing it since the beginning of time. We have got this!
One of the first things hypnobirthing teaches you is to change your birthing vocabulary from negative to positive terminology;
CONTRACTIONS – become Surges
PAIN – becomes Pressure
DUE DATE – becomes Due Time
WATERS BREAKING – becomes Waters Releasing
COMPLICATIONS – becomes Special Circumstances
BIRTHING PLAN – becomes birthing preferences
Straight away these terms resonated with me because the language we currently use has a negative connotation which automatically makes us worry or feel anxious. I’ve started using these terms already to get my body and mind in tune with whats to come on my labour day.
Paul asked me the other day what my due date was, the 28th August, but after reading the book and using the term due time which is anything from 37 to 42 weeks, he looked at me like I had two heads! I have now removed my ‘due date’ from my mind, because when I went one day overdue I cried thinking something was wrong. The fact is that baby’s are full term from 37 weeks and can happily stay put until 42 weeks with no issues what so ever. Babies will come when they are ready and your body will do what it needs to bring them here safely. I had a sweep to bring on my contractions last time and looking back there was no need. I was impatient, anxious and bored of waiting. Not a good start for the beginning of my birthing experience.
I have been using meditation for over a year, after taking hypnotherepy sessions for acute anxiety in February 2019. I was also encouraged by the therapist to read the Chimp Paradox which explains how the brain works in fight, flight or freeze mode when we face anxiety. We produce adrenaline when we are faced with fear and cannot produce endorphins or oxytocin at the same time. The Chimp takes over and can only drive one emotion at a time, its up to you which emotion the Chimp uses by switching your mind frame from negatives to positives. This theory is the same with hypnobirthing. During labour producing adrenaline makes us tighten up and reduce blood flow to vital organs, being the uterus. We need to produce happy hormones to relax and release pressure in order for us to have a positive birth. Mediation and affirmations are great practice in setting the mind into relaxing labour mode when fear hits, so when the big day arrives you can use these techniques and even play them on an MP3 to relax your body and mind.
I know it sounds silly, but the majority of use don’t use our breathing properly, whether it is in exercise or general day to day activities. Its common knowledge that breathing in oxygen allows more blood to your muscles and vital organs, which in hindsight makes them work better. When we are in labour, breathing properly is vital in giving your surges more power. Holding your breath to push, which I was told to do with both my labours, cuts off your oxygen supply making your labour harder and making you tired quicker. Breathing in calm and breathing out pressure with an open breath is the best technique to use and can be practised daily.
Anything from reflexology to pregnancy massage is a great excuse to get rid of any tension you have built up in your body in preparation for birth. Its not only a great excuse to get pampered, but also for your partner to give you the odd treat at home after a nice relaxing bath. We produce happy hormones when we are touched and when we kiss so let your partner find your ‘hot spot’s’ ready for labour day to get your endorphins flowing! I can only get Paul to massage me for a few minutes until he gets bored and I know on my labour day it will highly irritate me, so its a massage from beauty professionals for me, and just simply Paul holding my hand on my labour day and that suits me fine. Don’t be afraid to refuse to be touch or examined on your labour day unless its vital. Your body needs to be as relaxed as possible for your positive birth.
I’ve mentioned this term before, as we know birthing plans never usually go to plan and we are lead down a road of disappointment. A birthing preference are things you would like to happen in the run up to your due time and on your labour day. Previously my birthing preference was ‘pain relief, pain relief, pain relief’. But there are more exciting parts of my personal birthing preference that I can start implementing now in the run up to my labour day.
Engage Your Senses
I am a huge fan of candles, as not only do they set off a calming ambience, they stimulate your senses to a nostalgic time in your life or to simply help you relax. I scented my wedding day with Lime, Basil & Mandarin Jo Malone candles so I always have one in the house to bring back memories the most amazing day of my life. I am also a huge fan of Neom candles and started using them during meditation at night when I was trying to conceive. I have decided to take both travel size candles in my hospital bag and the Neom pillow spray to spritz on my pregnancy pillow. I use all of them at home most nights at the moment so I can take that familiar smell with me to hospital. With me wanting to only take gas and air which can make you feel a bit sick, I will also be taking some peppermint oil to help with any nausea.
Creating Your Nest
I remember only taking baby clothes, pads and a change of clothes for myself in my hospital bags, but now I will be making sure I take my mini bluetooth speaker to play some songs in my room while I am labouring. I am creating a birthing playlist which includes our wedding songs, Cafe Mambo Ibiza Chillout tracks and some Sunset House tracks. Being on holiday on a beach is my favourite place to be and if I can escape to those places in my mind while I am labour it will most definitely keep me relaxed and also create some banter for me and Paul! I would also prefer the lights to be dimly lit around my birthing pool and since I didn’t get to go on holiday this Summer due to the lockdown for the corona virus, Ill be wearing my new Pucci bikini! I’ll be on my own Nikki Beach.
Snack n Roll
I remember having nothing to eat during my 22 hours of labour with Rocco, so I will be making sure I take my favourite blanket, pillow and pillow spray for comfort, drinks and snacks. I am a huge fan of juicing so I will be packing my Jason Vale juices and smoothies full of antioxidant and a natural energy source, protein bars, and my beloved dark chocolate which is proven to release happy hormones. Lots of still water, and I have no shame in saying I will be taking my Yorkshire Tea bag with me so I can enjoy my own cuppa after baby is born.
Third Stage Labour
In my previous birthing preferences I had no idea what delayed cord clamping, natural or assisted delivery or placenta encapsulation even was. With me having epidurals both times I didn’t really need to know, but if I would prefer a water birth with no pain relief, I needed to.
When your baby is born it is still attached to you by its umbilical cord. It is also still pulsating when baby comes out. The cord is usually cut by the doctor or your partner and baby is then cleaned and given to mum. With delayed clamping, mother and baby can have skin to skin still attached to each other, and this regulates the baby’s temperature and heartbeat. It also gives baby a bigger surge of white blood cells needed to fight infant infections.
The placenta then follows and this is known as third stage labour, this can either be assisted with a hormone injection to bring on your surges to push it out, or you can wait for it to detach naturally. If you are still wanting to continue with delayed clamping, the placenta can be put in a dish next to you and the baby until the cord starts to die ready to be cut. If baby is born with its waxy coating still its also up to you if you want baby cleaned or the coating left on to sink into baby’s skin which stops it from drying out.
Once the placenta has done its job, your midwife will check it to make sure its all in tact. Any membrane left inside you can lead to a haemorrhage like my first experience which was horrific. Again it is up to you if you want to dispose of it or have it encapsulated. This is when it is taken away by a specialised company and make into a table form to take post-natally. Its known to boost hormone levels of oxytocin which boosts your mood, helps shrink your uterus, reduce stress and post-partum depression, boost iron levels and increase your milk supply.
All of the above is all new to me, but I have decided to do the delayed cord clamping and donate my cord to stem cell research. I would love to have a look at my placenta as it is an amazing piece of kit that has helped to keep my baby alive, but I am unsure if I will be consuming it!
My knowledge of hypnobirthing so far doesn’t mean all of the above will happen for me. I have no idea if special circumstance may occur and I may need assisted delivery, a cesarean and not be able to birth in a pool, but its changed my way of thinking about birth, turned my negative thoughts into positive thoughts ones, and made me realised I am in control of every decision I make. There is no perfect birth, but only you can make it a positive one.