MY OWN FIRST PREGNANCY & POSITIVE BIRTH STORY

When Walt arrived...

I had always been keen on birthing at home but wasn’t going to plan anything for it until after 37 weeks since I knew that many things can change along the way. But I did know straight away that I would do Hypnobirthing as I’d seen time and again how well it works, and felt that I would need help to overcome all the doubts that naturally come with years spent observing all the possible complications and interventions in childbirth. So, Hypnobirthing didn’t need to be sold to me at all! For my husband Warren, it was a bit of a strange concept – he likes things to be quite black & white and like most people, had a preconceived notion that the course would be a rather hippy, woolly experience. Now don’t get me wrong, when we had to practice relaxations in class I don’t think Warren ever got the hang of actually relaxing, but certainly by the end of the first session he was totally converted by the logic of Hypnobirthing.

We set aside time together each night to practice the techniques we felt were right for us. It was amazing just spending that focused time together, which we rarely did in our busy lives, and it was so simple. We also went to sleep each night listening to either a relaxation script or music. I hadn’t felt that the positive birth affirmations were really for me, but at 33 weeks I had a massive crisis of confidence as a potential problem with blood flow from the placenta was picked up during a routine scan. It was a very emotional time, between concern for my unborn baby, the recommendation to now labour in hospital with continuous monitoring of the baby’s heartrate, plus a high possibility of needing induction of labour at any time if the situation worsened.

I was launched into twice weekly visits to hospital for scans and Consultant appointments, and despite very compassionate and expert care, I felt fairly numb about it all. It was very difficult getting my head (& my heart) around going from completely ‘low risk’ to this big change of plan. I wasn’t going to take any chances with the health of my baby, but I felt so out of control of what was going to happen. I remembered about the birth affirmations & started listening to them every day (whilst also panic-buying everything you need for a new baby, since we hadn’t got a thing at that stage!). The birth affirmations were a game-changer for me….in no time at all, I had my confidence back and my head in the right place. I couldn’t control what would happen, but I could control my mind-set and the atmosphere of calm into which I wanted my baby to be born.

We got to 38 weeks with everything staying stable, phew! After much discussion and weighing up, I agreed to induction at this point as there were new indications on scan of increasing risk, and we were booked in for a couple of days’ time. I requested a stretch and sweep, had been having reflexology to encourage natural labour (which is amazing by the way), and basically doing all the tricks I know to get things going on their own! I woke in the early hours of the next morning with mild cramps and went back to sleep. By 10am, things were picking up a bit as we busied ourselves getting things ready at home – despite having nearly 9 months of warning that we were having a baby, we were still putting things away in the nursery and building furniture that day! By 3pm we were making our way into hospital, excited for what was to come & so pleased to have beaten the induction to it!

I used the birth pool, with wireless monitoring of baby’s heartrate and we had our relaxation music and added our own ‘mood lighting’ to the darkened labour room. The monitor itself was turned down so I couldn’t hear it and the midwife kept it out of sight so I couldn’t see it…in fact I wasn’t really aware of being monitored at all. Our midwife, a wonderful colleague of mine to whom I will always be so grateful, was completely supportive and respectful of the environment we were aiming for. I don’t remember us specifically asking her to do anything (in fact I hadn’t even written a birth plan), yet she seemed to instinctively know what I needed. The pool was amazing and I know I used it for many hours although I have no concept of time during my labour…the final part, after my waters released, was incredibly intense but still manageable using only breathing techniques and I was able to remain relaxed and calm even when right at the end my baby’s heart rate was dipping with every push and our midwife stepped in to direct things a little more.

About 11 hours after our initial arrival at hospital but with no need for any pain relief, our beautiful baby boy Walt made his appearance, a pint-sized but healthy 6lb bundle and very content. It was such a tranquil start to our lives together. We had endless skin-to-skin in the hours following birth and I felt so incredibly full of energy and so in awe of what my body had just done! We were all home cwtched up in bed together later that day… I felt, and still feel, that although there were aspects of Walt’s birth that I wouldn’t necessarily have chosen as my ideal, I wouldn’t now change a thing about it. To me it was perfect...

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POSITIVE ASSISTED BIRTH

Meghan & Anthony, welcoming baby Llewyn

Everything started as expected, with me and my husband spending the first 13 hours at home, which was wonderful and meant I was 6cm dilated by the time we arrived at the birthing centre. The birthing centre had everything set up for a hypnobirth with soft lightning and a pool etc. and I was excited for what was to come. However, it was shortly after arriving here that our plans started changing as I was quickly transferred to hospital due to high blood pressure. I spent around 10 hours in hospital attached to machines, and after several hours of assisted pushing, our little boy was finally born with the help of forceps and an episiotomy.

I am so glad that we did Laura's hypnobirthing course as it really helped both me and my husband to deal with the unexpected. The breathing techniques and visualisations were particularly helpful for me as it enabled me to focus, even with all the distractions of hospital transfers etc. I also managed the surges without any pain relief and only used gas and air for the last few hours, which I put down to the techniques learnt on the course. My husband repeated the affirmations, played relaxing music and used soft stroking techniques throughout. He even asked questions on my behalf when medical interventions (which included a c-section at one point) were discussed.

Drs and midwives commented on how calm we both were throughout the whole experience and even afterwards as our baby was taken to NICU. I feel empowered by the whole experience, despite the interventions, and would definitely do a hypnobirthing course again if I’m lucky enough to have another baby in the future.

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POSITIVE VAGINAL BIRTH

Lauren & Nick, welcoming baby Etta

Etta was born at 41+5 weeks. I had felt confident to turn down a sweep and induction. I definitely wouldn’t have felt I had a choice with this if it wasn’t for your course. I’m really pleased I let her arrive naturally, she came when she was ready and it felt right.

Labour was a fair bit quicker than we imagined it would be, my waters broke at home around 7pm with very little happening before that to give me warning which was a little bit of a shock!

From then surges became much more intense quite quickly. We got to Southmead at around 9pm where we were able to use the birthing suite. I stayed there for a few hours until midwives became concerned about some blood loss and decided it was safer to transfer me to central delivery. It was also at this time that I was feeling the urge to push so we had a speedy wheelchair trip down the corridor!

The midwives were great at explaining what was going on, they were concerned Etta was struggling and was at a funny angle so explained that they may need to use a ventouse (assisted birth). However I managed to avoid this and pushed her out myself with the help of an episiotomy (small cut)! Etta was born an hour after getting to central delivery! We cannot thank Laura enough for the help, advice and coping strategies she taught us. Although things happened very quickly there are definitely things that helped massively. Firstly the knowledge we had meant I knew exactly what was happening to my body and I wasn’t scared when I felt the change in surges. I even pictured the balloon and the images Laura showed us on the course in my head!

The breathing techniques were absolutely amazing, Nick reminded me to slow my out breath which helped more than I could have imagined. We were able to keep the room dimly lit for the majority of the time and I had my favourite music playing throughout. Etta was even born to the song I walked down the aisle to, completely by chance! Things didn’t go exactly ‘to plan’ however this didn’t worry me, I managed to stay calm which was a surprise to Nick and myself!

I never thought I would be able to give birth using just gas and air but with Laura's help I did, so thank you!!

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POSITIVE PANDEMIC BIRTH - PARTLY LABOURING ALONE

Lauren & Jed, welcoming baby Noa

Our birth story ... Wow what an experience it was! Having Noa during this pandemic certainly played a role in how our story unfolded. And certainly meant I had to use my hypnobirthing techniques more than ever!

I had been having labour pains on and off for weeks in the run up to Noa’s birth as she was back to back, so I went from being convinced she was going to be early to realising I actually was faced with trying to beat an induction that had been booked in when I went for my last midwife appointment at 41 weeks. I wanted to avoid induction as I was really set on having our baby at the midwife led unit in Frome. After a sweep at my appointment on the Wednesday I was up all night with contractions, however come Wednesday morning they had completely gone again!

I spent Thursday being as active as I could, hoping to encourage the contractions back. By 7 o’clock Thursday evening the contractions were back and definitely felt much stronger than previously. I bounced on my birthing ball and started to practice the breathing techniques I had learnt on the course. Things started to feel quite intense quite quickly.

We really wanted to stay at home as long as possible, but once my waters had broken with quite a gush as I moved into bed for a little rest, the intensity increased further and I felt ready to make our way to Frome at 11pm, due to the contractions being 3-5 minutes apart lasting for over a minute each time. Once at Frome I was relieved to know the birthing pool was free, which was exactly what I was hoping for. Having been told I was 3 cm at this point I knew I had a way to go and needed to gain some more control over the contractions.

We were able to set up our room just how we wanted it and had our chosen playlist playing. The breathing and pool really helped at this stage. I spent about 2 hours in the pool using my up breathing. At about 1am I wanted to try some pain relief and so was given diamorphine, which meant I had to get out of the pool. This really helped take the edge off the contractions and meant I found it easier to rest in between contractions. 6am rolled round by which time I was starting to feel pretty exhausted. It was this point that I had a bit of crisis of confidence after being examined again and being told I was still 3 cm. I started to have doubts about my ability to cope and it was this point we decided to transfer to Bath. Jed drove us onto Bath which was where COVID rules prevented Jed from being allowed in with me.

I was put on a ward by myself at this point, still not in established labour & baby still back to back. I really had to dig deep at this point, the ward was a stark contrast to the environment we had been able to create at Frome. I hadn't been able to carry any of the carefully planned supplies in with me and I really struggled being without Jed. Feeling quite distressed, I knew I had to take control of the situation and really try to move this baby. This was all valuable knowledge I had gained during the course! I refused to let myself lie on the bed and continuously paced around my little cubicle bending on to all fours when contractions came and breathing through them, really visualising the wave coming and going. After 2 hours a midwife was checking baby's heart rate. Things got a little scary at this point as baby's heart rate was dropping right down with every contraction. She pulled the emergency buzzer and my cubicle was suddenly a lot busier!

Surrounded by a lot of doctors saying that they needed to get this baby out right now. As a midwife went to put a wire on the baby's head to track the heart rate closer, she discovered I was in fact 10cms and Noa was on her way! (It can be very normal for baby’s heart rate to drop down when the head is being compressed in the birth canal in the final phase of birth)

As all the doctors disappeared and Jed was finally allowed in, he was as shocked as I was to find me already pushing! In this final stage I suddenly felt extremely focused and in control. I knew exactly what I had to do at this point and just started to use my down breathing (a technique from hypnobirthing specifically for the final stage of birth). Half an hour later at 9.28am our beautiful little girl Noa was born, weighing 7lbs 8 and placed straight on my chest for skin to skin. I was so happy to learn I didn't tear at all, which I put down to perineal massage and a slow and controlled delivery of the head, which the midwife had commented on. By 4pm we were on our way home.

The hypnobirthing was invaluable, there were so many elements of it that I used, from creating the right environment in Frome, knowledge to help with positioning of baby and using the affirmations throughout, particularly when I was struggling without my birth partner. I went through a stage of feeling quite let down that I had been left on my own in Bath without Jed, but I see the many positives from our birth story and realise how very capable we are! I am continuously finding motherhood to be very empowering!

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POSITIVE INDUCTION BIRTH - SECOND BABY

Bea & Jon, welcoming baby Lili

My first baby was induced and this was the last thing I wanted to go through with my second baby, however due to low amniotic fluid and being 40, I was did opt for a medical induction at 39 weeks. When my consultant had recommended the induction after the baby scan at the beginning of 39 weeks my first reaction was to say no, but after a little cry (as I was set to give birth in the midwife led unit), and discussion with my husband (and then the consultant again) we agreed to it, and felt happy with the decision.

Thanks to completing the hypnobirthing course with Laura my induced labour was a positive and powerful experience. I was admitted to Southmead hospital maternity unit on Wednesday night and eventually induced on Friday night. The medical team was great, and we had a lovely midwife, Emily, who helped us to implement the hypnobirthing by bringing some electric candles, and supported us, encouraging me to listen to my affirmations and continue to use the calm breathing techniques throughout the induction process. his allowed me to remain focused and calm in the clinical hospital environment and thankfully, being connected with a wireless monitor, enabled me to move around.

The induction started around 9pm on Friday night.. Once I started getting contractions I was able to put my hypnobirthing practice into action. I found I was able to relax and embrace each of them, which allowed me to really tune into my body as labour developed and the ‘gentle’ surges became stronger. If I wasn’t practicing hypnobirthing I imagine those’ gentle’ surges would feel a lot more uncomfortable. I went through it by keeping calm, listening to Laura’s affirmations, and using calm breathing techniques, which we learnt at the course.

After around six hours since the induction started I felt my body starting to push the baby out, and Lili Rose was born at 3.49am on 31st of October (Halloween baby, yes! :). She’s been happy and healthy since her first moment.

I know that having to change plans before giving birth can be overwhelming, and you don’t always know what is the best thing to do, but my experience was calm, and positive. I want to say how grateful I am that I completed the hypnobirhing course with Laura, which myself and my husband really enjoyed. We felt prepared and ready, and were able to face induced birth positively. I believe hypnobirthing played a key part in helping me cope with the contractions and delivering a 8.7 lb baby with only some gas and air. Thank you for introducing us to hypnobirthing Laura!

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