When learning hypnobirthing, we learn that it is important to dream and visualise the details of your perfect birth. This can include where you are, who you are with, how you are feeling and how long your birth will be. This is because if you don’t consider these things, how will you know what you want on the day. And if you don’t know what you want, you definitely won’t get it! You can’t determine exactly how long your labour will be. However, studies show that using hypnobirthing techniques can shorten labour by three hours for first time mums.
Most women would prefer a quicker and more efficient labour. However, sometimes labour can be so fast it becomes a negative experience. This is because the speed and intensity of labour can leave women feeling out of control, scared or unable to focus. As someone who has had a three hour labour and a forty minute labour, I can honestly say I preferred the longer one. This is because with my first, longer labour I felt completely calm and in control. With my second I was still calm, but my body took over so it was hard to focus. There was nothing I could do to slow down or birth differently.
So what can you do to make a fast labour positive?
Prepare in advance. If you have already had a previous fast labour, chances are your next one will be even quicker. Because I knew I would probably have a very fast second labour, I prepared as much in advance as possible. I opted for a home birth, so that I wouldn’t have to worry about getting to the hospital in time. My birth pool was inflated a couple of weeks before my due date, I had childcare set up for my older child and my birth space was prepared. This meant that on the day I didn’t need to worry about anything else.
Read positive birth stories. If you are a first time Mum, you will have no reason to suspect that your labour will be fast. By reading positive birth stories, of all types of birth, will give you a better understanding of how childbirth and hypnobirths unfold. It will help you to know what to expect. Plus make you aware of options you might not have otherwise considered.
For example, the night before I went into labour the second time I went out for a meal with some friends. One friend was telling me about her thirty minute birth, and how she went into physical shock afterwards. When I gave birth the next morning it came as no surprise to me when I also went into shock and became very shaky. If I hadn’t had had that conversation the night before, I might have found the situation alarming and felt negatively about my birth.
Be flexible. As with all births, you need to be flexible if things don’t go the way you had planned. I planned to give birth in the birthing pool. But when my labour progressed too quickly I changed my plan to giving birth in the bath.
My lovely client Mia planned to give birth at her local birth centre. When her labour became intense very quickly, she opted to stay at home. Baby Theo was born calmly at home using just gas and air. Changing plans when situations change is crucial to a positive birth experience.
Use your birth partner. Fast labours can be intense and confusing. A good birth partner should be able to reassure you, keep you focused and help you to stay comfortable. They can also deal with things that you haven’t got time for. I spent most of my second labour alone in the bath. But having my birth partner downstairs dealing with our older child, getting a midwife to us and preparing the birthing pool meant that I could focus on what I was doing. I felt more relaxed with him doing that, than being by my side. Use your birth partner however you want to keep you calm and focused, that’s what they’re there for
Embrace it! Trust your body that it is doing what it needs to be doing. For a reason that you might not be aware of. Sometimes it can feel a bit disappointing to not get the full ‘hypnobirthing’ experience. This is how I initially felt after my labour. My birth photographer didn’t get there in time, I didn’t get to use any of my props and I didn’t get to use my birth pool. However, a sensible friend told me that most people would give their right arm for a straight forward, quick, relatively easy home birth. And she was right!