I'm going off piste a little here today. I don't like to talk too much about kids and parenting on here as that's not what my blog is about, but sometimes when something means a lot to you, you want to share it. My blog is my little corner of the internet, So I thought, for this one post, I would use it to talk about something which turned out to be really important for me.
The reason for writing this post now, is that in less than two weeks, Ruby will turn one! I can't quite believe it. In the run up to her birthday, I've been reflecting a little bit on the past 12 months, but also on where I was at exactly this time last year - huge, uncomfortable, and fast approaching one of the biggest events in my life!
When I was pregnant, like many women, I was quite anxious about the idea of giving birth, and even mentioned it to my doctor. She suggested a course of CBT to relieve any anxieties, but when I did a little research online I came across Natal Hypnotherapy. I was initially a little skeptical, but what I read online convinced me to give it a go, and I started off by purchasing the book - Effective Birth Preparation. I ended up reading the book about 3 times during my pregnancy, as I really wanted to retain the information. After the first read, I was already starting to feel much more relaxed about the whole idea, as it dispels a lot of myths about childbirth, and explains so much about how a hospital environment can actually make it more difficult to give birth, and that the main thing is trying to keep your body relaxed throughout.
My first decision from this was opting to have my baby at the midwife-led unit at my local hospital, and ideally I wanted a water birth. The unit was right next to the labour ward so this made me feel happy that if anything did happen it was easy to transfer.
Next, I purchased a couple of the Natal Hypnotherapy downloads to listen to on my iPod; Effective Birth Preparation and The Labour Companion. I started listening to the first one a few days a week, from about 25 weeks. It is basically calming words and music, that talks a lot about how natural giving birth is and how to stay relaxed. Occassionally I would nod off before the end, but that is ok apparatenly, it just means you are really relaxed. I did always wonder whether I would be able to relax in the same way while having real life contractions, but I made sure to stay positive, and as the program suggests, tried to rid myself of any worries that entered my head.
The closer I got to the 'big day' I listened to the downloads more and more, and in the last few weeks I was listening to them at least once a day. If anything, it was a really great way to stay relaxed in those weeks of waiting for baby to arrive. I honestly shocked myself when I heard myself telling friends that I was actually looking forward to giving birth!
On the 13th July (3 days after my due date), I started to 'feel' something. I'd had lots of Braxton Hicks already, but this definitely felt different, although still not particularly strong. I used the breathing techniques every time I felt a wave, and we actually went to the supermarket, then came home and made our imminent baby her first birthday cake!
In the early hours of the 14th July, I woke up and felt something 'pop'. it wasn't my waters breaking, but I knew things were definitely starting to happen. I got up and went in the living room, and put on my hypnotherapy tracks, and lay down and relaxed. At around 3am, I decided to phone the hospital, and they told me to come in. I got my other half up, and off we set to the hospital. I continued to listen to my iPod in the car, and luckily as it was the middle of the night there was no traffic whatsoever.
I won't run through my entire birth story, but basically we spent the first few hours in the midwife-led unit, with two lovely midwifes, who were really supportive of my birth plan, and were really interested in the hypnotherapy techniques. In fact, it really shocks me that midwifes are not given any training in this area, despite the fact that they were so amazed at how much it was helping me.
My birth plan started to change when the midwifes suggested breaking my waters. When this happened it was then necessary for me to be transferred to the labour ward, as meconium in my waters meant the baby could be in danger. While I was disappointed, as I could no longer have the water birth I'd hoped for, I of course wanted to make sure our baby was delivered safely. I was later given an injection to move things along, and it was at this point (about 7cm dilated) I started to feel the need for more pain relief, and started on the gas and air. Until this point I'd only been using the hypnotherapy techniques and a tens machine.
It was a difficult delivery, followed by me being taken to surgery to remove the placenta, I lost a lot of blood, and ended up having blood transfusions and we were in hospital for a week. (also due to Ruby being on antibiotics too) Despite all this, I don't feel worried about having another baby, and I put this down to the hypnotherapy. Yes, the delivery was tough, but the techniques I learnt helped me through the labour part, keeping me calm and able to deal without pain relief. I'm not going to lie at one point, I did tell my hubby I wanted an epidural, but he reminded me that this was the 'self doubt' phase - the part where the baby is very nearly here, and things are intense, and you are doubting if you can do it or not. It's essential to have your other half onboard too by the way!
Looking back, I am really proud of how I managed it all, considering how anxious I originally was. I just wanted to share this experience with you, as I know there may be others out there, pregnant and similarly worried, and I would highly recommend giving it a go. Let's face it, you've got nothing to lose - that baby is coming either way, so why not at least attempt managing the journey in a more relaxed way?!
I'd love to hear if you've used Natal Hypnotherapy too and what you thought. And if anyone has any questions, just let me know! ;)