I was PETRIFIED of childbirth... until I learnt of hypnobirthing
I was PETRIFIED of childbirth. Unfortunately at times, it overshadowed the joy of my pregnancy. I had been exposed to many horror stories and gave far too much weight to them. I didn’t enjoy pregnancy at all and dreaded the day that loomed before me. I really was negative about it all but fortunately at around five months pregnant I was introduced to the possibility of hypnobirthing.
I read a few books and educated myself on how well my body was equipped to birth my baby. Thank you Ina May Gaskin and Maggie Howell for the beautifully documented truth about the careful design of the female body. Understanding the process of birth was the foundation I needed so that I could begin to unlock my fears. I was still scared but I read on. I was still anxious but I meditated every day. I was STILL doubtful but I did it anyway.
Every afternoon I directed my thoughts to beautiful places and visualized my body opening and releasing my baby. I filled the room with the relaxing aroma of lavender and took twenty minutes to prepare myself mentally for the “bodily sensations” that I would face.
A few weeks before the birth my blood pressure had started to rise. My due date was fast approaching and they wanted to keep my baby boy in the womb for as long as they could. Little anxious me of course thought the worse. This was a sign that I couldn’t do this!! Wish I’d have had just a little more faith in myself as a woman! At around 6pm on the 22nd of July I felt strange. A bit nauseous and couldn’t settle.
I wasn’t convinced anything was moving. I’d already had two sweeps and so far nothing. I was hoping to go naturally because again I was frightened of being induced. There really wasn’t much I wasn’t scared of. I swam in the pool and ate a Burger King at the kitchen table as I repeatedly stated that I just felt “funny”. I was getting ‘Braxton Hicks’ and couldn’t settle.
At around 11pm I went to bed but struggled to sleep. I suddenly had a fever and was shivering. I really did feel like it was the start of a cold or a stomach bug. At the same time these ‘Braxton Hicks’ contractions were a bit annoying.
I went to the toilet and saw just a bit too much blood for my liking and thought it was best to get checked. At around 3am we went to the hospital.
They discovered it was nothing to worry about just some left over blood from the sweep they thought. They cleared it away and sent me home. We arrived home at around 9am on Monday the 23rd July, I got into bed while my husband went to work.
These Braxton hicks weren’t letting me sleep now. I dozed through them for an hour and again at around 11am I started seeing more blood. I really didn’t feel well and wanted to get checked again!! Back to the hospital to discover that I was actually 3cm dilated and contracting regularly. Ah, these were contractions?? It’s so hard to know when it’s your first baby and also when your fear had made you anticipate something MUCH worse.
They said they would normally send me home but because I was bleeding and had a temperature and high blood pressure they would keep me in. They sent me to the ward where I stayed for what felt like hours in the shower. The warm water was blissful. Not for the pain, I wasn’t really in much pain but I was shivering with the fever or maybe by this stage it was nerves.
This is the point where the story speeds up. My birth story is one where I don’t want to focus too much on the actual delivery because to be honest, if you take anything from this story, I want it to be how hypnobirthing can target a crippling fear. The truth is I started bleeding again and the doctors were happier to get the labour going quicker so they broke my waters and put up the oxytocin drip at around 3pm. This was everything I didn’t want.
I was scared of induction and this was pretty similar I guessed. I’d read the literature and this would hurt more. Love how I was now the expert haha. But.. I was fine. They checked me an hour later and I was 5cm dilated.
The contractions felt like intense waves of pressure and I managed them by sitting and rocking on the birthing ball while humming deeply into my abdomen and relaxing every muscle from my jaw to my toes. My husband was playing a nice Spotify playlist and I was remaining surprisingly chilled. Was it hurting?? Emm not overly strangely enough. It was painful but I was consciously surrendering to it in complete acceptance. This was bringing me closer to meeting my baby. I was sure my ability to manage was because I was only 5cm dilated and it was about to get much worse.
They checked my progress again at around 5pm and I was 7cm dilated. Everyone in the room was so surprised at how well I was managing the pain. Those words shocked me because “I was doing it.”I was coping and I was coping well. I could do this!! I should be entering transition soon I thought and that’s when I’ll break. What transition?? The last few cms where nothing worse than the first few cms for me. All very manageable.
I was asked many times did I want something for the pain but I calmly kept saying,”no, I’m fine actually.” It hurt, but not like breaking 100 and something bones or whatever I had once heard it described as. It was intense pressure and tightening and major discomfort but I truly mean it when I say, it was fine!!
7.30pm, 10cm dilated and time to push. Now this part was hard. Not any more painful but hard going. It wasn’t working on the bed for me so I squatted on the little stool. I was guided by the midwives and my husband was cooling my head with a cloth. I was still requesting songs to be changed to give me more motivation and putting bets on when our baby boy would arrive.
45mins later and my little 6lb 2 bundle had arrived. When they handed him to me I just remember the relief sweeping through me. I’d birthed a human, and had done so gracefully. I was PROUD and he was and is such a beautiful little miracle. I did ask for some anaesthetic for the stitches. That bit actually did hurt. As for the placenta, didn’t even notice it coming out but it did of course haha.
I don’t want to downplay what a woman goes through because it is one heck of a job to grow and birth a baby. Labour is hard hard work BUT with the correct mindset, breathing techniques and relaxation, it is so manageable. When I found out I was pregnant I was convinced I’d take the epidural as soon as I could.Six months later and I did it with nothing but a bit of music, a birthing ball and some VERY encouraging midwives. I can honestly say giving birth was one of the most empowering things I have ever done. I’ve had people suggest it was easier because I had a small baby but I still had to contract until I was 10cms dilated and I still endured a second degree tear so it definitely wasn’t the size of the baby that made it manageable, it was the ability to quiet my conscious mind. For anyone pregnant who hasn’t tried hypnobirthing, I cannot recommend it enough. If I can do it, anyone can!
Beautiful words and pictures by @rejoiceandbglad