Jen and Justin have been my friends for years, so when they announced they were pregnant I knew I wanted to support them for a positive birth. I invited them on to my group hypnobirthing class in Dartford and they accepted. Halfway through their pregnancy the corona pandemic happened and I moved my classes to online. It was lovely to still be able to support Jen and Justin, even though this was now remotely. Jen was so focused on her hypnobirthing practice, I knew that her birth experience was going to be great. She planned for a home birth, but put her determination and decision making skills to great use when their situation changed. Here is the birth story of baby Jesse, as told by Jen.
Preparing for a home birth using hypnobirthing
I knew from early on in my pregnancy that I wanted a natural home birth with no interventions. However, due to the corona pandemic my local trust would not support this as home births were cancelled. I looked for an independent midwife, but there were none available in my area. I went ahead and hired a birth pool and continued to plan for a home birth, in the hope that the guidelines might change. As my due date got closers the guidelines did not change. After an unsuccessful appeal to the head of midwifery, I was eventually put down as freebirthing on my notes. (Freebirthing means birthing without the assistance of a qualified midwife or medical professional.)
The most stressful part of pregnancy for me was the effect of coronavirus on homebirths; my local trust would only support women who fit a certain criteria for homebirths. As a first time mum I did not qualify. My midwife was very unsupportive, and when I appealed their decision I was sent a list of all the complications that could arise during childbirth; despite me making it clear that I would plan to homebirth with or without a midwife present. I received no advice or guidance about the actual birth from the midwife. All they did was try to scare me into a hospital birth. I am so thankful for the skills and knowledge I gained from Hypnobirthing as it meant I remained calm and still felt informed, positive and in control in a situation where I would otherwise have been extremely stressed out and would have admitted defeat. I am disgusted by the lack of support I received from my local trust and my midwife.
The midwife had reassured me that someone would come out to check on me once I was in labour, but wouldn’t be able to stay with me. I was told they’d come out to me as soon as Jesse had been born, so I didn’t feel I would be completely going it alone. Plus, I only live a ten minute drive from the hospital so if there was any emergency I would be there quickly. I had my birth room set up with fairy lights, positive affirmations, oil burner and Hypnobirthing tracks at the ready.
I was 27 weeks when I took the Harmony Hypnobirthing course, but I had already been reading up on it since the beginning of my pregnancy. I found that practicing the relaxation techniques from early on not only helped me prepare for birth but helped me have a calm relaxed pregnancy. It also helped me bond with Jesse as I could always feel him moving around when I was meditating in response to the oxytocin and it was the most amazing feeling.
Changing the birth plan to a caesarean birth
Thanks to the Hypnobirthing classes I had taken and online support groups I felt informed and in control of the situation and comfortable with my decision. 40 weeks came and went with no signs of baby’s arrival. After 41+6 I agreed to daily monitoring of Jesse’s heartbeat as I did not want to be induced. I went in to be monitored alone each time, as birth partners were not allowed on the ward. At 42+1 during monitoring I was told that Jesse’s heartbeat was showing signs that he wasn’t receiving enough oxygen and nutrients. The care team thought the placenta was ‘expiring’ and my only option was an emergency C-section, as an induction would prove too stressful for Jesse.
This came as quite a shock to me but I immediately agreed to it as I’d always said I’d never want to put my baby in danger. Five minutes later Justin (who had been waiting in the carpark) arrived and I was whisked straight to theatre. I remember using the breathing techniques from Hypnobirthing to stay calm while the anaesthetic was injected into my spine (I didn’t feel a thing). Minutes later I was holding Justin’s hand as the screen was raised and surgery began. I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths and after what seemed like only a couple of minutes we heard the first cries of my gorgeous boy. After Justin cut the cord Jesse was passed to me for skin to skin. He latched on immediately and after being stitched up we were wheeled to recovery. After an incredible hour of cuddles and feeding, Jesse was weighed and checked. I felt well after the birth and within 24hours of arriving we were discharged and on our way home as a new family.
Giving birth during the corona pandemic
Despite nothing about Jesse’s birth going to plan I still see it as a positive experience and not traumatic in the slightest. There was no labour, no pain and it was all over within two hours of arriving at the hospital. There isn’t a single thing I could complain about to do with the birth.
I was able to make the most of lockdown and use it as a time to slow down and relax in my own little bubble. During my brief stay in hospital I hardly noticed there was a pandemic. Everyone would have been wearing masks in theatre anyway, and as soon as I asked for Justin he was there. Plus having no other visitors on the ward I saw as a bonus. As a new mum it’s meant that I’ve been able to enjoy those precious first few weeks without being bombarded by visitors. I think it’s really helped strengthen the bond between us.
If you would like more information on how hypnobirthing can help you have a calm birth, even when plans change let me know! I run group hypnobirthing classes in Dartford and online which you can find out about here. Or I run private sessions throughout Kent and South East london.