When I found out I was pregnant back in 2010, I was absolutely terrified at the idea of giving birth. In fact, my approach to childbirth education was to watch “horrific birth videos” on YouTube to see what type of thing I could “survive. Really.
My husband and I were then talking to some mutual friends who’d just had their second baby, and I asked the dreaded question…”so how was the birth?”. My friend’s answer was far from any other response I’d heard (mostly how much poo was involved or how bad the tear was) – in fact, she described her birth as romantic, peaceful and pain free. I didn’t believe what I was hearing. I asked her what on earth she was talking about, and she mentioned the word hypnobirthing. Said friend is a vegetarian, so this all added up nicely, and a big part of me wrote it off as nonsense. Luckily, my husband hopped straight on the wagon and we were booked onto a local hypnobirthing class. I won’t lie, I was expecting to meet a bunch of quinoa loving hippies, but I was pleasantly surprised at how logical the course seemed. No one was wearing patchwork and there wasn’t even a whiff of incense. I was pleasantly surprised, and intrigued.
As the course went on, I listened and learned in absolute awe at what I begun to understand I was capable of. Totally capable of. We learned some simple but effective self hypnosis techniques, and my husband and I listened to our CD and practiced the breathing and massage daily. I realized how much of a team effort birth was, and it changed my pregnancy. I didn’t feel alone and scared any more. I was looking forward to giving birth and in an about turn, we planned a beautiful home water birth.
As my due date neared (which I’d learned not to put too much emphasis on), I recited affirmations to myself daily and felt so excited for labour to begin and to meet my little child. The snow was falling and it felt like a lovely excuse to mooch around the house and nest for a few days. My surges (contractions) started in the evening on Sunday 28th November and I had a show. It was happening. We knew things would probably take a while, so I went back to sleep with a hot water bottle and slept through an evening of mild surges. On Monday morning, my surges were forming a good pattern and we decided to call our midwife, who came over to examine me. I was 2-3cm dilated and very happy, so she was happy to leave us to it and come back when things got more intense. My surges carried on like this for a couple of days, and I can honestly say they were the best days of my life. My husband and I set up a little love camp in our lounge – listening to music and dancing, watching funny DVDs (great for getting those endorphins going and surges nice and strong!), playing cards, scrabble – you name it. It was like nothing existed outside of our little bubble, except the snow we watched from the window, and that felt so romantic and safe. My midwives came and went, and by Thursday I was at 4-5cm dilated. They were a bit concerned with how long things were taking, and with a snow storm forecast for Thursday evening, they suggested we went into hospital whilst we could, just in case. I was happy and my baby was happy, so we took our time to have a chat about what we wanted to do. With all the information in front of us, we were able to make a calm and informed decision and decided we’d make the move to Kings. We got some things together and got a lift to the hospital, excited that when we left it would be as a family of three. The midwives at the hospital were amazing, and we soon got settled into a lovely room with a pool. I got in the pool and progressed to 8cm in an absolute state of joy. I remember closing my eyes, enjoying the warmth of the water and moving with my surges. I felt like a goddess, and my husband whispering to me that I was safe as each surge got stronger was all I needed to hear to smile, let go, and turn within. Hours passed and I wasn’t budging past 8cm, so another informed decision was made to try the syntocinon drip. This meant I was laying on a bed strapped to a heart monitor, which isn’t what I wanted, but listening to my affirmations out loud and the reassuring presence of my husband helped me through the challenges of that stage. Some more hours passed and I was still at 8cm. No one could work out why. Another midwife was called in to examine me and she could feel my baby’s head swollen and stuck in my cervix. He couldn’t move and my cervix couldn’t open. We were stuck.
My heart sunk hearing this. What did it mean? We asked questions, we empowered ourselves, we didn’t give up and we didn’t panic.
A wonderful consultant came in and said the only way this little baby was going to make it out was surgically, and they asked if I consented to a c-section. I looked at my husband with tears in my eyes. This wasn’t what I wanted. I remember him looking into my eyes and telling me I was safe and that it was time to meet our baby, and I knew.
As I got prepped for theatre, the wonderful staff told us everything that was happening. We got to pick the music we wanted playing, the anesthetist reassured me and talked to us happily. It was a nurturing, safe and loving experience. In theatre the lights were bright but I felt completely reassured with my husband by my side. He told me I was amazing. He told me I was safe. I felt some rummaging in my stomach and then I saw a little body lifted into the air. It was my baby. My boy. Our son. All 7lb 14oz of him. My husband held his tiny naked body against his chest and next to my face. It was the most moving, incredible experience of my life. They didn’t leave my side and when I was sewn up we got to go back to recovery and I breastfed Oscar straight away. His relaxed little body was beautiful. He lay there so gently and calmly and I felt so proud.
No I hadn’t had the home water birth I planned, but I had the best birth for me and for him. I was able to make calm, informed decisions throughout my birth, and with my husband, and that united us completely in the most life changing way. So many people have asked me if I felt disappointed by my birth, and some ask if I’m annoyed that hypnobirthing “failed” and it confuses me. Here I am, with a beautiful son and a birth I understood from start to finish – a birth that I decided on and a birth that me and my baby boy – together – chose.
Hypnobirthing isn’t about text book births, it’s about creating positive birth experiences, and that’s what inspired me to educate women about how empowering birth can be. I’ve been teaching in London since 2011 and have now, together with Susan Ashworth, co-founded The Calm Birth School – the world’s first online hypnobirthing program – meaning that busy women or those without practitioners in their area can benefit from the life-changing tools of hypnobirthing and create their own unique and euphoric births.
What is The Calm Birth School?
The Calm Birth School is the world’s first hypnobirthing video program. It’s a four-week antenatal home study program – combining the core principles of hypnobirthing and active birth – training women and their birth partners to create calm, joyful births from anywhere in the world.
How did the idea of a video course come about?
A lot of women will find hypnobirthing classes near them, and we both love teaching women face-to-face and have been doing so for a number of years. However, in this time we’ve had lots of enquiries from all around the world from women who can’t find a practitioner near them, or women who don’t have the time to travel to a weekly class. We have responded to this need with The Calm Birth School home study program, by bringing our tried and tested techniques to you, so that you can enjoy the benefits of hypnobirthing in a way that suits your lifestyle and location.
A lot of people are put off by the term hypnobirthing, what would you say to that?
In creating The Calm Birth School we wanted to dispel the myths of what people think hypnobirthing is. Yes it sounds weird, but drawing on our professional experience of working with hundreds of pregnant couples, we’ve been able to tailor make our own program and cut out the fluff. No vagina-whispering, kumbaya-singing, goddess-channeling nonsense. Just scientifically-proven calming and relaxation techniques, so that you know what is happening in your body and how to work with it. We are not about text book births, or normal births (whatever they may be). We believe in women enjoying the best births for themselves and their babies, by having a great bag of tools and techniques and the knowledge that will empower them to make informed decisions every step of the way.
So how exactly does this video course work?
Well unlike all of your other pregnancy-related appointments, we come to you! The Calm Birth School program is a video course that will be delivered to your inbox once a week for four weeks. That’s 12 short videos split into 4 classes, so that learning the secrets of positive birth can fit into the nooks and crannies of your day. And to make sure you don’t miss out on the benefits of a face-to-face class, you’ll feel completely taken care of in our private Facebook group where you can connect with other pregnant couples, and with our bi-weekly teleconferences.
To celebrate the launch of The Calm Birth School, we are giving away FREE hypnobirthing classes until 15th November that you can enjoy in the comfort of your own home. Simply click on this link to claim your classes today! http://bit.ly/Freehypnobirthing To find out more about the course, hop on over to www.thecalmbirthschool.com or email email@example.com