Preparation for birth
This is my own personal experience of pregnancy, hypnobirthing and my positive birth story. It was important to me to keep my fitness levels up throughout pregnancy, as preparation for birth. I viewed it as a great way to prepare for the physical side of labour. I continued going to the gym twice a week and did a pilates class once a week. The only change to my routine was I stopped running on treadmills and went on cross trainers instead as I was less likely to fall.
After week 20 I stopped pilates and changed to pregnancy yoga (Yogabellies in Dartford), as I wanted to make sure my exercise was appropriate for my stage of pregnancy. I found Yogabellies great for bonding with baby, he would always move lots during relaxation. A lot that I learned in Yogabellies complimented hypnobirthing really well, such as the relaxing to a script and the breathing techniques.
I attended a four session course on hypnobirthing, starting at 33 weeks pregnant, with my partner Matt. We finished at 37 weeks pregnant. Which means it’s never too late to start working on your positive birth. The classes were good for me and Matt to prepare for labour together. It also helped him to get an understanding of what hypnobirthing is, luckily he agreed it was for us.
I had already read the Katharine Graves hypnobirthing book before starting my course. The theory made sense to me, but the practical side wasn’t completely clear until I had finished the course. I also found the course a great way to start regularly practicing my relaxation. In a busy working week it’s not always easy to find the time.
I worked full time until I was 38 weeks pregnant. With a 2 hour commute each way I really struggled to find time to practice. Hypnobirthing practice is essential to achieving a positive birth. I started having a long bath on Saturday mornings whilst listening to my scripts.
After a couple of weeks of only practicing in a bath on Saturdays and yoga on Mondays I wanted to increase my sessions. I started practicing in my lunch breaks and on the train to work. I wanted to be able to relax in all situations, especially outside of my own home. This was important to me as I had planned to give birth in my local birth centre. I also practiced in different positions, such as on my birthing ball, as I knew staying active would help me in labour.
Going into labour
7pm – I was 40 weeks and 3 days pregnant. I had been having regular braxton hicks for about two months but no labour signs. That evening went to my Yogabellies class as normal.
8pm – I could feel a slight dampness so went to the toilet. The amount of leak was very small so I wasn’t sure if it was my waters going, but I would later realise it was. With 15 minutes of class left I decided to carry on, I think I was a bit in denial or just feeling too calm!
8.30pm – After driving myself home I was still feeling very calm with no more signs of labour. I ate dinner and watched some comedy TV to relax myself whilst bouncing on my ball. I told Matt to have a nap, as if I went into labour it could be a long night.
9.30pm – I did the washing up and whilst standing got a very strong contraction across my lower back. This wasn’t how I expected labour to start. I thought there would be a gradual build up of cramping or braxton hicks, but this was intense very quickly.
9.45pm – I woke up Matt to tell him my contractions were quite strong so I was going to have a bath to relax. After being in the bath for approx five minutes my labour became very intense and I don’t have much memory of the rest of my time in the bath. I know I was there for one hour as I had listened to my script twice.
My script kept me focused and in a hypno state, even though I was not consciously paying attention to them. I concentrated on my breathing and contractions, whilst also moving into different positions when necessary to stay comfortable. The contractions were becoming really strong but I was focused and managed them well. I had no concept of time or how long the contractions were lasting.
11pm approx – Matt told me that I needed to go to hospital. I remember telling him we couldn’t go to the hospital as it was too soon. I imagined labour for a first time mum to be several hours with a steady build up, I had only been in labour for just over one hour. He told me he had been timing my contractions and that they had gone from 10 seconds long to one minute and 20 seconds long. I realised he was right and quickly got out. On the drive to hospital I listened to my relaxing music on headphones.
12.15 am – Arrived at the hospital. Whilst walking to the ward I lost focus a couple of times as it’s a long walk. My sister who was with us, and who is a midwife, told me to remember my up breathing. This trigger helped me focus and take control of my breathing and contractions.
I was examined and told I was already 7cm dilated. Whilst being examined my sister saved us a lot of time by finding a midwife for delivery for me and preparing a room on the birth centre.
12.45 am – Arrived at the birth centre. Whilst the birth pool was being filled I was leaning over a sink as being upright felt the most comfortable for me. I also knew that gravity would help get my baby out. My body had already started making pushing movements without me being told to. My body knew what to do, so I just followed what felt natural and comfortable.
I was offered gas and air, but declined. Instead I moved into the birthing pool and used the warm water to keep me comfortable.
Although I had lots of trigger props packed for labour (fairy lights, lavender oil and pictures) I did not have time to use them. I did have my music playing which helped. Matt supported me whilst I was in a kneeling position and leaning on the side of the pool, again letting gravity help.
Whilst pushing baby’s head out I could tell he was getting a bit stuck, although I was reassured he wasn’t. I remember feeling like I wasn’t stretching around him enough so concentrated on slowing him down a little bit. I later found out that his arm came out at the same time as his head which was what I was feeling.
1.12am – The rest of baby came out fairly easily. My birth plan said that I wanted to pull my baby up for a self delivery, and I was really pleased I was able to do this.
Baby Sydney was born at 1.12 and was very calm, I don’t remember him crying at all. We had one hour in the pool together to bond and recover. It was the birth that I had planned and hoped for. I know that the hypnobirthing preparation that I had done gave me my perfect positive birth.
If you want to achieve a positive birth or find out more about hypnobirthing, contact me for class availability here.