Positive birth story: Hypnobirthing with a premature birth

This positive birth story comes from L, who completed my online hypnobirthing course. She had planned for a natural, water birth but after going into labour prematurely things had to become very medicalised. Using her hypnobirthing techniques however, it was still a very positive experience. Here is the story in full:

‘ My top piece of advice would be; don’t have a birth plan have tools to help you!

I am generally such a planner, organising everything to the minute. Pregnancy was no different and I attended all of the hypnobirthing sessions. As a first time mum I instantly felt calmer and more in control- which was useful during a pandemic! I planned to spend the last 7 weeks of my pregnancy gathering together various things such as music, positive affirmations and snacks to support my planned natural water birth. However at 34 weeks the unexpected happened. 

At exactly 34 weeks I woke up at 6.30am hearing a POP. My waters had broken. Amazingly I took my time to practice my hypnobirthing breathing, changing into new pjs and then called the hospital. Before heading up to the labour ward I took some time (I had checked that I didn’t need to urgently go in) to gather some supports. A calming essential oil, my headphones, comfortable clothes, snacks and hospital bag. 

Arriving on the labour ward I made it clear that I wanted to know what was essential, I wanted things to stay calm and requested lights were dimmed. Throughout our 48 hours on the labour ward we saw around six different consultants. I had various procedures done and there were a lot of questions asked. During this time I used the breathing techniques I had practiced and listened to my calming music. I was very aware that the calmer I was the calmer my baby would feel. 

Changing from a natural birth plan to a medicalised birth

At 6pm the following night the decision was made to give me an emergency c-section. As it was an emergency my birth would be under general anaesthetic (meaning I would not be awake for the birth, and my husband would have to wait outside.) A few factors resulted in this; my cervix was fully dilated, placenta prévia, baby was breech and I was having contractions but felt no pain. As a person I am extremely anxious – especially when it comes to medical procedures.

Upon being told the new ‘birth plan’ I began to feel very anxious, started to shake and felt overwhelmed. At this point I took five minutes to visualise myself somewhere else. My husband arrived to meet us back in the labour ward and we were shown back into the room we had started. At this moment a team of roughly around 10 theatre staff from the consultant to assistants arrived to introduce themselves and their role. To be honest, I took myself back to somewhere else visually. I focused in on three of the team. The consultant who would deliver my baby, the midwife whose name was the same as my late Auntie (this gave me amazing comfort) and the anaesthetist. 

I made it clear I wanted to walk into theatre, not be wheeled in. To prepare, I organised the outfit for my baby to be dressed in, decided on her full name and took out a few things for me to take to theatre. I chose two trinkets (my good luck charms!) and my calming essential oil. Heading in to theatre I was walked in by the midwife and a lovely assistant. I was met with a very clinical scene however I took myself somewhere else. There were times when something would catch my eye- equipment or something that someone said, however the fabulous theatre assistant kept me distracted. As the anaesthetic was administrated I remember I described my calming place to him. I woke up 40 minutes later feeling calm (also maybe thanks to some morphine) but not in distress or that things had not been in my control. 

Meeting my baby and recovery from birth

After a few hours in the labour ward, where we were looked after amazingly well, myself and my husband went to meet our beautiful baby girl. She spent 12 days in SCBU and I was lucky enough to stay with her. Whilst we were both admitted, my husband was also still allowed to visit us. At a very difficult time with a premature baby and a pandemic this was a huge source of support and comfort. The staff were so supportive and I truly believe we wouldn’t have had the start we did, especially establishing breastfeeding, without each of them. The tools for hypnobirthing are not restricted to birth and it’s important to note this. As a first time mum while establishing feeding I have used many of the tools- a calm place to be, relaxing music, comforts such as cushions, comfortable clothes. 

Hypnobirthing and it’s techniques 100% supported my positive birth story. They kept me calm throughout. I remember my husband and the midwife saying that I seemed as thought I had been giving medication to calm me. The power of oxytocin, being in a calm place (visually) and being allowed to do what was right for me. I really felt in control, to some extent, of what was happening. As an anxious person I would suggest to any pregnant woman to complete the course!

If you would like to learn more about hypnobirthing and how it can help you to have a positive birth, you can find out more about my classes here.