THE BENEFITS OF FEELING IN CONTROL
I decided to learn Natal Hypnotherapy as I was determined to have as natural and instinctive a birth as possible, with (ideally!) minimal need for any medical interventions! Through attending the classes, reading the book and listening to the tracks (especially in the last few weeks) I felt calm and confident that I had everything I needed to birth my baby. I had stuck affirmations up all over our kitchen and the one that resonated with me in particular on the day of labour was that the power of my contractions was not stronger than me because it was my body that was producing them. The other key aspect that I really focused on throughout my preparation was to let go of any negative preconceptions I had or ignore any negative stories I had heard about labour.
Contractions started at 12.30am on 31st January and were about 15 minutes apart. After waking up my husband, we put my TENS machine on and I started using it on the lowest setting. I used slow, steady breaths throughout each contraction and managed to sleep between each contraction for the rest of the night. Contractions fluctuated between 10 and 20 minutes apart for the rest of the morning, so my husband and I decided to go for a walk to a café to try and speed things up… By the time we returned home my contractions were every 5 minutes and I was needing to increase the intensity on the TENS machine! I listened to the Natal Hypnotherapy tracks in the afternoon, which continued to help with my relaxation.
I called the midwives several times in the evening once the contractions were coming every 3 minutes, lasting at least a minute and becoming increasingly intense, but every time I spoke to them they said I didn’t sound ready to come into hospital as I was able to talk through contractions (I did forewarn them that I was using Natal Hypnotherapy!). During a call with the midwife at 10.30 she advised me to have a warm bath and to see how I felt after this so my husband ran me a bath, lit some candles and I sat in the bath for about 40 minutes, listening to my tracks and using slow, steady breathing. It was during the bath that I started to question how much more I could cope with (I know now that this was the self-doubt phase!) so once out of the bath we called the hospital to tell them that I’d be coming in. My waters broke whilst getting dressed and by the time we were at the hospital contractions were coming every minute – at this point I had my TENS machine on almost the highest setting and was needing to stop to breathe through them whilst walking to the birthing centre!
Once in the birthing centre the midwife examined me and found that I was fully dilated – she was amazed that I’d got to this point on my own! She then ran the water for the birthing pool (I think waiting for the pool to fill up was the most agonising part!) and after hopping in our baby girl was born in 40 minutes at 2.30am. My husband was fantastic, helping me with my breathing (particularly when I was told not to push!) and I had the Natal Hypnotherapy birth track playing the entire time. It was such a positive experience and I think this was largely due to feeling in control as a result of everything I’d learned in the Natal Hypnotherapy workshop with Sandra. March 2017
THE IMPACT OF GOOD SUPPORT FOR BABY NO. TWO
Having had strongish but irregular contractions for some weeks, when the real ones came, I wasn’t really very sure I was in labour at all. They started at 5:30pm but were not strong. We went out for a meal at 7pm, and I continued to get them at 10 minute intervals. When we got home, my partner went to sleep on the sofa ‘just in case’ things turned real, while I got ready for bed. The contractions kept coming and I started to go into a ‘natal hypnotherapy calm state’ for each one. To my surprise, it felt like I could lift the top of my brain outside my head, and ‘turn off’ the pain of a contraction, so they came and went without me really feeling them at all other than an initial feeling of cramp before I had ‘turned them off’.
They mostly stayed regular and I kept trying to lie down to to sleep, but couldn’t. I rang the hospital around 1am to check with them and they said to call back when contractions got to 5 minute intervals. Once that happened I woke my partner but then they eased off. I wasn’t sure about calling as I still wasn’t convinced I was really in labour but was persuaded that I should. They sent a midwife around just to check. Once she arrived, the interval decreased to 25 mins and I felt a fraud for getting her out of bed. She said she would do an examination and I couldn’t believe it when she announced I was 8cm dilated!!
The birth pool was quickly filled. Contractions became regular at 5 minute intervals again. I kept moving to a different room to avoid the midwife but she kept following me.
Once the pool was ready, I got in and it was lovely. I leaned forward with my arms over the side. A second midwife arrived. Contractions started to get more frequent and much stronger but I continued to be able to control the pain and didn’t feel the need for any pain relief. I was completely calm and quiet during each contraction and continued to be able to turn them down. I didn’t want to talk much and felt a bit conscious of being quiet and rude, although I was aware of the conversations around me. We went through transition stage and then there was a lull. The first midwife kept asking if I wanted to push yet. I felt hurried. I felt a slight urge to push, but not a strong one. She suggested I try squatting in the pool. A little later, the other midwife said they thought our young daughter and my parents had gone to nursery and I suddenly felt it was time to go for it and started letting the pushes happen.
All of a sudden, there was a big POP (apparently it was my waters breaking) and then it just felt like a juggernaut was coming and I couldn’t stop it, so enormously painful quite suddenly and it all happened so fast I lost the plot with the breathing and dived for the gas and air, which didn’t seem to make the slightest difference. I felt like I was going to faint and my partner got me a cold flannel and the midwife suggested I try lying on my back with my head on the birth pool. Another strong contraction came and I wanted to squat, scream, and pull up on the handles of the birth pool. My partner started breathing calmly to help me regain control and that helped, although I was too panicked to regain the hypnotherapy state.
After that contraction the baby was very wriggly inside and felt quite low down. He was born in the next contraction (head and body all at once!) and it just felt like he was falling out of me with an enormous big fat pressure in the birth canal. I tried to slow things down (wary of tearing) but was completely unable to because the need to push felt so strong! I caught the baby through my legs and lifted him up in front of me.
Birth was recorded at 8:36am. He cried for a few minutes, with an Apgar of 9 at 1 minute and 10 at 5 minutes. Little hands slightly blue, with his vernix layer still and lovely dark hair. We waited for the cord to stop pulsating and my partner cut it. The baby had a good feed soon after birth with me sitting in the pool and him on my chest. Sitting felt uncomfortable with the cord coming out of me.
We had a physiological 3rd stage in the pool. I was exhausted and just wanted to rest for a while without pushing, but the hospital ‘deadline’ was an hour to deliver the placenta, so they encouraged me to get out of the pool and sit on the toilet to push it out once the hour was up. That didn’t work. I suddenly thought I could try some nipple stimulation, which caused a contraction and it plopped out easily, caught in a disposable sheet they had anchored in the toilet. The second midwife weighed the baby (8lb 8oz – not the 9 or 10lbs the scan had indicated he would be). She put a nappy on him and gave him a vitamin K injection.
I had very little blood loss. I tore a little and needed a couple of stitches which they did under gas and air with some gel to numb the area, and it felt very painful, which surprised me as I’d had the same pain relief for stitches after our daughter was born and it hadn’t felt uncomfortable then. The stitches were more painful than the majority of labour had been and because I didn’t really know what was happening/what to expect, I couldn’t use the hypnotherapy to control the pain or feel relaxed. It was soon over, though.
The midwives were both very experienced (one had been a nurse before qualifying as a midwife in 1997, and the other had been a music and primary school teacher and then qualified as a midwife in 2002). Both said what a lovely birth it was; the first said I was only the third person she had ever seen labouring so calmly, and the second said it had been a privilege to attend the birth and she wished she’d had a video camera to record it! One of the midwives in particular was more in tune with how I thought about the birth. I do wonder if she suspected I was holding back on pushing because of being self-conscious of others being in the house, but I will never know for sure.
Rich made everyone tea/coffee and toast with Mum’s homemade lemon curd on it. My midwife made sure I was comfortable in bed with the baby snuggled up next to me which felt natural and right.
Thank you so much for our session with you – it really helped and I am sure it wouldn’t have gone so well without that.
(Plus we wouldn’t have made the last minute decision to change to a home birth without having met with you!) March 2014
How Natal Hypnotherapy helped in accepting change
Natal Hypnotherapy was recommended to me by a friend who had a wonderful birthing pool experience and we decided that this is what we wanted for the birth of our child. During one of our sessions with Sandra we were asked to talk about any worries we had surrounding the birth. I was afraid that the pool may be busy and that I wouldn’t be able to follow my birth plan. We discussed how to cope if plans did change and ‘I will remain calm and in control if my birth plan changes’ was one of my positive affirmations which I had stuck on the bedroom wall and chanted everyday. We listened to the CD every night and would both fall asleep to it.
When my contractions started we called the hospital and found out a pool would be available for us to use. Using my breathing techniques, the first part of labour was exciting and very manageable. However, things changed when my waters broke, the hospital asked us to come in early as I had suspected meconium.
By the time we arrived at the hospital I was told I had grade 3 meconium and that the birthing pool was no longer an option. Although upset, I accepted this and was led to a room where I was to have the baby. This is where I found I had to really focus on my my breathing as contractions were getting stronger. It was then discovered that the baby was breech! So we went from looking forward to a birthing pool to having an emergency Caesarean Section! When my partner and I discussed this afterwards we both agree that we were very calm and accepted the situation quickly. I recall walking to theatre, repeating my affirmations in my head, the only way I can describe it is that it felt as though I was watching someone else walking along. Then I remember focussing on my breathing so that the anaesthetist could insert the spinal tab ( which he told us was very quick and easy to do on me because I was so relaxed). Not long after our beautiful, healthy baby girl Lyra Rose was delivered!
This could have been a stressful experience but I can honestly say I took the change to my original birthing plan in my stride and look back on the birth of my daughter with fond memories. When I tell people my birth story they often use words like ‘frightening’ and ‘worrying’ but it wasn’t at all like that in our recollection.
I believe it was the Natal Hypnotherapy that helped me through each step of the journey and I would definitely use it again! Thank you Sandra! December 2013
ANAYA’S BIRTH – USING NATAL HYPNOTHERAPY AND YOGA
I wanted to share my birth story with you all as it was truly amazing. I started having mild contractions at about 4am on Tuesday 3 September, but it was easily manageable and I dozed off in between them, still not sure if it was Braxton Hicks or perhaps the real thing…
I continued to have contractions but about half an hour apart throughout the morning, eventually becoming more regular as the afternoon progressed. I bounced on my ball a lot and breathed through the contractions with the golden thread technique, feeling very little discomfort and enjoying the sensation of my baby getting closer to being born.
The contractions became more intense and regular in the evening but I still carried on as usual with dinner etc. and felt that the real labour was starting as I was getting ready for bed. I decided to get in the bath and the water was very soothing. I rocked through the contractions and carried on breathing deeply, doing the “ommm” on all fours, and using some hypnobirthing visualisation techniques. The midwife arrived at my home at about 1am whilst I was in the bath and listened to the baby heart beat to check all was well. By this point my contractions were 60 seconds long and 3 minutes apart so she asked if I wanted to be examined to check dilation, but I said I’d rather have no intervention as I felt very comfortable.
I got out of the bath and used the TENS machine for about 40 minutes, but then wanted to be back in water so I moved to the birthing pool with an urge to push. The water was amazing, soothing the intense sensations and as the contractions became very strong I remained squatting in the pool and wanted to push. I had the room lit only by candles, with my natal hypnotherapy CD playing and my family all around me helping massage my back and rock with me through contractions.
My beautiful daughter was born in the water at 3:30am on 4 September, less than 4 hours after my “established labour” had begun, and amazingly on her due date! She came out still in her sac, breaking it only as her body was born and she kicked it, freeing herself into the water of the pool. I caught her and brought her up to my chest. It was a feeling like no other in the world as she looked at me and let out a little cry then settled onto my chest. She quickly started to suckle for her first drops of colostrum. She weighed 6lb 9 oz and scored 10/10 on her Apgar within 1 minute of birth. She was perfect. I delivered the placenta naturally 45 mins after the birth. I had no damage at all either, so I’ve recovered pretty quickly to be able to enjoy her 24/7!
The midwife merely observed the whole labour and birth without doing anything as I was supported by my family throughout and felt a very profound sense of listening only to my body and needing no other intervention or drugs. I wanted to feel the sensations without them being numbed, I trusted my body instinctively to do everything it needed to and did not experience a “self-doubt” phase as I felt calm and in control, focusing on my body and baby with each contraction.
I am so happy I prepared myself for this birth with yoga classes and Natal Hypnotherapy as I could not have wished for a better experience. My little girl could not have had a more beautiful, gentle entry into this world. She is very calm and we are enjoying every moment together. September 2013
BIRTH IN THE ‘BAOBAB TREE” – AT HOME
Our little girl arrived on the night of Sunday 9 June at home and in water. Labour was 7 hrs to baby’s arrival and another hour for a completed natural 3rd stage. I must have slept through the early stage. I realised I was in labour when I suddenly threw up and felt waves of hot & cold flushes. My husband (M) made the call and within 10 minutes the midwife was with us. On examination she found I was 4cm dilated and unbeknown to me my waters had gone! On the day our midwife, together with our student doula and M gave me continuous support that was perfectly in line with hypnotherapy. These were the only 3 people I needed.
Our midwife was nothing short of amazing. She used language that helped me to stay focused on my breathing and kept reminding me to listen to M. She paid attention to my cues when a contraction came and only approached me or spoke to me when it was over. She only examined me once and expertly guided M through his tasks.
While I laboured in the bedroom my husband did a fantastic job spontaneously creating a warm, cosy and pretty “baobab tree” for me by hanging beautiful handmade traditional throws over the lounge curtains to keep out the light. The lounge, where the birth pool was set up, was beautifully transformed and seeing this was a wonderful surprise for me. It lifted my spirit! He also put our hypnotherapy birth plan drawing up on the wall so that I could see it from the pool. Our student doula provided steady and calm support by holding my hand and soothing me with cool washcloths on the forehead for hours.
Now for the part you’re most interested in – Natal hypnotherapy and how it worked for me. There was no time for use of the tens machine or my homeopathy birth kit. Nor did we time the contractions. I simply went by the rhythm of my body. I used simple hip swaying belly dance movements and breathing to get through each powerful wave. I felt mentally alert and in fact mentally chided myself for not “not doing my hypnotherapy well enough!” I remember thinking “I’m so alert, why is it not working?” But M and my doula tell me that I was pretty zoned out virtually throughout! Although I had downloaded the Labour Companion cd just the night before, I didn’t get to use that either. All I needed was the birth preparation music to get me into this “zoned out” state. Yet I was acutely aware that my all senses were heightened – the cold bathroom tiles felt good during a contraction but the moment it passed my feet wanted the warmth of the bathroom rug.
Things slowed down or so it seemed to me when I got into the water. I recall thinking/feeling that a break between contractions was hours long – I opened my eyes and felt like I’d been deeply asleep for hours. And so things went until I looked at my partner and said “I can’t do this”… the self doubt phase … and in response he calmly continued chanting an Arabic mantra “Ya Lateef” (O Gentle One) and I followed his cue. Our midwife sensed my transition into the bearing down stage and expertly guided me through it. It was intense but soon our little girl was in my arms, alert and quiet…the best moment ever.
It was not a pain free birth nor was I serenely quiet – I felt every intense sensation and the power of each transitional phase. But it was a different kind of pain – primal, powerful and purposeful. I can’t imagine giving birth numbed by medication and not being able to experience my body at so many different levels.
We both agree that the workshop was the best preparation for both of us. Thank you. July 2013