….or so I thought! (spoiler alert.....it absolutely did!!!)
In 2012, after many years of trying to conceive & our first round of IVF, I finally found myself pregnant. We were absolutely over the moon, so excited and relieved.
But that relief soon turned to fear when I realised I had to give birth to my baby!! I’d only ever heard about long, painful labours with lots of interventions and it all sounded awful. How was I going to cope with that?
So I started to do some research online and came across hypnobirthing. It didn’t really sound like my cup of tea to start with, but as I learnt more about it, I decided it was definitely something I wanted to try. I really wanted to do it in a group setting but there were none running anywhere near me so I found a lovely hypnobirthing teacher who would come to do the sessions at our house.
We did the course over 4 evenings and I really enjoyed it. My husband and I learnt so much about birth and my body, and it completely changed the way I thought about birth. I was no longer scared, I was just so excited! It definitely brought us closer as a couple as we spent lots of time discussing our options and wishes, we were working as a team.
I listened to my hypnobirthing tracks as often as I could, although looking back on it I should have done more practice, especially towards the end.
I kept a picture of a baby in the optimum position for birth within the womb in my living room and I used it to visualise my baby in this position, often whilst using my birthing ball. Each time I thought about birth I was so excited and I was amazed that my anxiety about coping with the pain etc had disappeared.
I drank raspberry leaf tea, ate 6 dates a day from 36 weeks, took evening primrose oil, and spent a lot of time on all fours and my birthing ball to avoid slouching on my sofa (more about all those things another time).
My labour started at 39+5 early in the morning and I had such a lovely time, carrying on with my daily business, going for lunch with my inlaws and feeling excited about meeting our baby. I remember the day so vividly. The contractions were getting stronger throughout the afternoon but remained irregular throughout the entire labour. I used my hypnobirthing techniques and spent some time relaxing and visualising the birth.
At this point, I felt amazing, totally in control of the situation, understanding what was happening and totally relaxed about it all.
But things changed later on. I panicked when I felt the baby was coming but we were still at home, I let things get out of control and I forgot something really important (birthing positions!)
When I reflected back on my birth afterwards, I felt like I’d failed. I felt like I hadn’t had a ‘hypnobirth’ I felt upset with myself and disappointed that I hadn’t had the calm waterbirth that I’d been visualising. I was disappointed that my husband hadn’t been taught practical ways to help me take control again.
And hypnobirthing had made me feel that way. It had led me to believe that I had failed because my birth was really fucking painful! That I was a failure because I had made lots of noise. That I had failed because I ended up giving birth flat on my back, my birth wasn't like the ones you see on YouTube with the mum calmly breathing her baby out. I was really pissed off at myself for a little while afterwards.
But then I started to meet other new mums. Mums who had never heard of hypnobirthing. Mums who hadn’t really done any birth preparation, who just went into it hoping for the best, going with the flow. And a common theme started to emerge….out of a huge group of new mums I met, I was one of a very small number who had not needed any intervention during birth. And to those mums, I was one of the ‘lucky’ ones. And it was then (and after a good chat with my hypnobirthing teacher) that I realised that hypnobirthing hadn’t failed me, that I had actually been a total rockstar throughout my labour, that I had done nearly all of it on my own, without anyone else’s input - I mean, we arrived at the birthing centre and I was already fully dilated. I had trusted my body and used the techniques to help me.
Yes, I panicked and lost control a little bit towards the end
Yes, I made more noise than I thought I ‘should’
Yes, I experienced pain
But do you know what, hypnobirthing had helped me more than I could ever imagine:
I had understood how to help my baby get into the best position for birth, this made for a smoother and shorter labour.
I had remained positive and excited about my birth throughout my pregnancy, and enjoyed telling other people my plans for labour to show them there was another way to prepare for birth.
I had spent time communicating with my husband about my inner most hopes and fears, and we had worked together as a team to plan for our baby coming into the world, he supported me 100% and understood why I wanted to do it this way.
I had trusted my body completely, and let it do what it needed to do.
I had stayed active and upright for most of my labour, allowing baby a smoother passage.
I had stayed calm and coped well with all my contractions, even when they got really intense.
Hypnobirthing is the only reason I managed to do all of that and I owe a lot to that first course I took. However, I have now written my own hypnobirthing course, adding in all the knowledge and experience I’ve gained, making it more practical and allowing more time for the birth partner to learn exactly how they can help at each stage of labour.
The You, Me & Baby course is a no nonsense approach to birth preparation; it focuses on how to use the techniques for any birth, in any setting. You can never fail using the techniques and information I teach, they will help you navigate the UK maternity system (which is full of policies and procedures that don’t always treat you as an individual). You will learn what to do if your birth veers off track for any reason, you will gain confidence to make important decisions and understand how to stay in control whatever happens. Most importantly, you will understand all the things you can do to stack all the odds in your favour.
Hypnobirthing completely changed my whole pregnancy and birth and has actually changed my life in so many ways. It has given me skills for life that I use every day, ways to relax, to stay calm, to help me sleep, to reduce stress. Skills that, for a mum, are invaluable! But not all hypnobirthing courses are the same. Not all hypnobirthing teachers are the same. Do your research and find the one that resonates with you the most.
Here is some feedback from recent courses:
"Jenny is warm, knowledgeable and engaging.”
“This course will enable you to make the right choices for you and your baby by going through the physiology of birth and showing you techniques that you can use in labour.”
“Jenny has an informative yet compassionate and supportive style that helped me get the most out of the course”
“Jenny's hypnobirthing course was a fantastic mix of theory and practice and set within a supportive and relaxed atmosphere that encouraged maximum interaction from participants.”
Upcoming course dates:
Saturday 7th October (SOLD OUT)
Saturday 4th November Book here