There are lots of women who want to have a drug-free natural birth; I know I did, more than 25 years ago. I did all the right things and read all the books, I signed up for the antenatal classes, but before I could attend any of them I started to have problems. I went into hospital at 29 weeks, but unfortunately, the doctors couldn't work out what was wrong. Because I was in extreme pain I was given intravenous pethidine on three separate occasions for a week each time. After a few weeks they diagnosed the problem which was unrelated to, but aggravated by being pregnant.
I remained in hospital on the antenatal ward and was very well cared for by the nursing staff, although occasionally doctors and students would come and peer at me, and poke and prod me because I was an oddity. Often they would forget that I was a person and talk about me as if I wasn’t there. I became so accustomed to this that after a while I didn’t even bother to object, I began to feel invisible. Every time I ate or drank anything the pain would start, so I stopped eating and drinking, and eventually I was put on a drip.
Despite several scares along the way when they thought they would have to do a Caesarean, I almost made it through to my due date. By this time my blood pressure was too high and I was starting to see stars, so the decision was taken to induce me. I was put on an oxytocin drip overnight and my membranes were ruptured the next morning. As often happens in these situations, I had a fast and furious labour. Because of all the drugs that I had already had, I decided to try and manage without any pain relief during the labour. I concentrated on a simple breathing technique that one of the antenatal nurses had explained to me one morning and although it took all my focus and concentration I managed to do so for about three hours. That was when I decided that I couldn’t take any more. I realise now that this was the transition stage and my son was born 20 minutes later.
There were other complications during the labour that were dealt with quickly and efficiently by the midwives and the doctors, and I am certain they meant that my son and I are both alive today. Because of the traumas that we’d undergone during the labour my son was born with breathing difficulties and after wrapping him up, they showed him to me for a moment and whisked him away to Special Care. He was a tiny scrap, long and scrawny who took several months to get over his experience. But I’m delighted to say that he’s now a strapping 6’ 4” muscular, health nut and despite us having a slow start at bonding, we have a really fantastic relationship.
This is what led me to want to work with women to help them overcome their fears and anxieties around pregnancy and birth. Over the years I have worked with women who have had medical problems, both related and unrelated to being pregnant and with the use of self hypnosis techniques they were able to manage all the problems that arose before, during and even after the birth.
Now, the NHS statistics show that as many as 75% of women have a normal pregnancy and birth, so most of you reading this will have just that. The great thing is that there are techniques that can help all mums during the birth of their baby whether it’s straightforward or if complications should arise, as you will see from some of the stories below from mums I have worked with...
The birth that went to plan...
“Little Sophie Louise was born at home on September 12th weighing 8lb 3oz. I had a slow and steady pre labour, during which I used the breathing and relaxation techniques and the visualisations. I pottered about the house getting ready, resting in between and chatting on the phone!! I felt very excited, but stayed focused and confident. I phoned John when I was ready for him to come home, by this time I wanted to get into my small, safe space and shut the rest of the world out. We watched a couple of funny DVDs, the laughing really helped. John prepared the birthing pool, I loved the feeling of the water, it really helped me to relax as John used the techniques that you had taught us. He was fantastic, he seemed to know just what I wanted without me having to speak.
We called the midwife and she was fantastic too, she just sat quietly in the corner, it was almost as if she wasn’t there. I was totally in the zone and Sophie was born two and a half hours later, we lifted her onto my tummy and she started to suckle almost immediately. I couldn’t take my eyes off her – she is so beautiful and calm. JB
Not quite to plan...
“I had a beautiful baby boy on the 9th of May. I was induced at 36 weeks because my waters broke. I was given prostin and oxytocin and had an epidural for pain relief. Charlie was born by forceps as he got stuck. The hypnobirthing techniques I learnt kept me calm and relaxed in a stressful situation. Even though it wasn’t the birthing experience I had planned, the message I have is how the techniques can be applied to any birthing situation to help women stay calm and relaxed and Charlie is a calm, relaxed and happy baby.” EH
A complicated pregnancy and labour...
This mum was pregnant with her fourth child, and after three very different birthing experiences including one filled with interventions in hospital and another completely natural, undisturbed birth at home, she felt that she had run the gamut of birthing experiences. She had been to see me previously, so when her obstetrician told her that there were complications with her pregnancy, and that she would have to be closely monitored if this baby was to make it to full term, she decided to call me. She told me she was feeling really anxious and was there anything that I could do to help.
I reminded her that we are only limited by what we believe is possible, so whilst she should listen to her medical advisers and ask lots of questions so that she was well informed and in a position to make decisions based on all the information, we would see if we could help the situation and at the very least to stay calm and in control. One of the problems that she encountered during pregnancy was low amniotic fluid, the consultant explained what that meant and that there was nothing that could be done about it. Now I believe, actually I will go so far as to say that I know that the thoughts and ideas that other people tell us and that we tell ourselves have an enormous effect on us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Luckily I knew that she held the same belief.
So we started by suspending our belief of what she had been told so far, and with the use of relaxation and visualisation techniques, we pictured her and her baby working together to do whatever was necessary to create more amniotic fluid, to bring the levels to normal. Now, neither she nor I have any medical training, but that’s the amazing thing about the mind and body working in harmony, we only have to create an image in our mind of the outcome and trust that our body and in this case, her baby too, would know what to do. The next time she went for a check up, her amniotic fluid was within the normal range, even though she had been told that this was impossible!
This wasn’t the end of her complications, but as they arose we dealt with them, and I believe that because she remained calm and kept visualising her desired outcome that she was able to bring her baby to full term. The birth didn’t go smoothly either, and her baby’s shoulder became wedged against her pelvis. She was in a lot of pain and used medication to help, but she also continued to use her breathing and visualisation techniques to remain calm. The discussion came as to whether she should have a Caesarean, which she didn’t want to do. So while her husband discussed this with the medical staff, she decided to have one last try to see whether she could deliver her baby vaginally. So she focussed inwards and had a stern talk to her baby, and said “Come along now, this is our last chance to do this...” She then imagined her baby moving back and freeing its shoulder, getting into the right position to move down the birth canal. And after a few minutes, to everyone’s surprise, this is exactly what happened. She was pretty bruised, so it was very uncomfortable and again not the birth experience that she would have chosen. But she felt so proud that she had done everything she could, and the midwives and doctors, and of course her husband, were fantastic and with the aid of pain relief, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy.
And finally, the fantastic birth...
“I gave birth in March using hypnobirthing techniques and the whole experience was utterly amazing. I hired a private midwife and had my baby at home. I managed the labour on my own without giving a thought to pain relief, in silence, and for the most part pretty motionless. My midwife said she had never witnessed hypnobirthing working so successfully.
I sat for 2 hours on a foot stool and dilated to 10cms in an almost euphoric state. I had to keep telling my husband and my midwife I was contracting as apparently I was just breathing and smiling with my eyes closed all the time. It felt as if I had just unlocked a big secret and it really was so easy to just let things flow. After 6 or 7 hours my baby was born under water in a birthing pool in my lounge.” KB
I wanted to share these stories with you to show you that with a few simple techniques, and plenty of practice, it is possible to have a positive experience whatever happens. If I had had the level of knowledge, training and understanding that I have now, I would have felt differently about my own birth experience. I was left with horrible and frightening memories and an overall feeling of having had a lot of things ‘done’ to me without explanation. The result of this was that I made a deliberate decision never to do it again.
But if I hadn’t had that experience I wouldn’t be doing what I am doing now. I wouldn’t have worked with all of the women I have worked with to resolve their fears, allowing them to become pregnant. I also wouldn’t have worked with the women who had less than perfect experiences, to allow them to come away feeling that although they had been unlucky, and that not everything had gone according to plan, they had remained calm and in control and had had the best experience possible.
Remember, 75% of you will go on to have normal pregnancies and births – some of you will do so with little or even no pain relief and a few more may even go on to have a truly ecstatic experience!
I am happy to answer any questions you might have, just pop over to www.natural –birthing.co.uk!