Last year I had the absolute pleasure of teaching two lovely parents who were expecting their second baby. They really took to Hypnobirthing and this is their story...
We used hypnobirthing for birth number two because we were attracted to it being a calmer way to birth. Number one was a planned home birth in the pool, after 10.5 hours of active labour. I’d used acupressure points, and while that provided good relief at the time, I felt like there was surely a more effective way to calm the mind.
The best thing about Nicki’s course is the involvement of the birth partner. This was crucial for me in terms of the homework, but also on the birth day.
On the day...
I used the surge breathing quite naturally after practising it while I was pregnant, and it was calming and effective. I was just lying relaxed in between surges on our bed, thinking about when might be a good time to head to town. So different compared to my first birth – where I had felt the need to pace a lot, and call my partner to do acupressure for each surge – to the point where my partner did not realise how far along things were with birth number two.
A change of plan...
We live 40 mins from Hastings, and had planned a birth in Waioha after me needing to go to hospital for surgical repair of a third degree tear with number one.
Things didn’t go to plan. After about two hours of surge breathing (to be honest I wasn’t keep any track of time and had no sense of how long I had been in that state) I felt the need to pee, so I walked down the hallway, and as soon as I sat down on the toilet my waters broke and I felt my baby's head move / put pressure on the birth canal. It was amazing because I felt so much more connected with my body and what it was doing.
I yelled out to my partner that she (the baby) was coming, my partner called the midwife who asked me (by this time I was on all fours outside the toilet door / back in the hallway and back in the hypnobirthing zone) if I thought I could get in the car and make it to the birthing unit. I said "No". My midwife to her credit, said "OK, I’m on my way". She then started talking to my partner about what would be needed in case she didn’t arrive in time (there is no cellphone reception along our road so she wasn’t able to talk to us the whole time).
My partner remained very calm, moved me into the spare bedroom, turned the heater on and collected towels, and then just sat beside me occasionally using the tools we’d developed like the arm touch to recentre me when it was needed.
I lay down and continued to breathe my baby down – I wasn’t conscious of the need to wait or felt any pressure – I was just in the moment of birth. The midwife and back-up midwife arrived 10 minutes before Winifred was born. The back up midwife (who I’d never met, and FYI the birth plan was packed in the car ready for our trip to the hospital) walked into the room and said "You’re doing great breathing, just keep going". I felt my body doing its job, and just breathed alongside it.
Winnie was born very calm – she never cried – and was so alert, just looking around, and then snuggling into me gently getting her senses used to the world before feeding for the first time. That was also so different from my first birth, where my son was born screaming crying and did not feed properly, and kept screaming crying for nearly four hours, until after I came out of surgery and could finally feed him.
I had worked through the fears that I’d had at the start of my pregnancy that I would have another third degree tear and end up with long term complications like incontinence. The whole time I was in labour, and especially when there was a possibility that the midwives wouldn’t make it in time, this thought never crossed my mind. I credit that to the fear release work that we did with Nicki as part of the hypnobirthing programme.
During each postnatal visit with my midwife she’d ask "So how are you feeling about your birth?" I don’t remember my first midwife asking this, and wondered if she asked because the birth was not what was planned.
In all honesty I felt really really good about my birth. It didn’t go to plan, it went better than planned. It was fantastic to have Winnie at home and not have to go to hospital, and it was so calm and relaxing.