|Finlay's Hypnobirth Day
I had never heard of hypnobirthing until my sister in law gave me Marie Mongan’s book for my birthday when I was 4 months pregnant. I was initially sceptical and didn’t look at the book until we went on holiday when I was 5 months pregnant. After reading the first couple of chapters I decided this was something worth exploring – up to that point I had started to become more and more anxious about giving birth to our son, our first baby (watching One Born Every Minute was not helping!). I spoke to my partner, Mike, and asked him to read some of the book, and we agreed to look into hypnobirthing as an approach (I think he was more scared about the birth than I was!). I found Gina online and instantly felt a connection and was at ease in our communication. I was a bit worried hypnobirthing would feel a bit too ‘hippyish’ for us, but from the beginning Gina’s approach felt supportive and practical rather than ‘out there’, which is just what we were looking for.
We opted to have private sessions with Gina and she came to our home 3 times which felt very natural and relaxed. We quickly realised how little we knew about giving birth and learnt so much from Gina, and found that the hypnobirthing techniques gave us a practical approach which we really appreciated. It was especially positive for Mike since we could define a clear role for him, so to speak. The experience brought us close together and excited about the birthing experience, united in anticipation rather than anxiety!
I was a big fan of rainbow relaxation and also the birthing affirmations and listened to them pretty much every day, on the tube and train and also before bed. I thought I would never remember the breathing exercises or be able to use visualisation on the day itself, but all that practice must have paid off since I had such a positive birth experience.
2 days after my birth date, I woke up at about midnight and told Mike I thought I needed to go to the toilet. I really thought that I needed a number 2 and sat on the toilet for 20 minutes and nothing happened! I realise now I was having gentle cramps and was in early stage labour but at the time I just went back to bed to repeat the experience half an hour later. It was Mike who said maybe I was in labour. Looking back, I’d had back ache all day and had struggled around Sainsbury’s, so I think I was in early labour all day and just hadn’t realised.
Things happened really quickly once I admitted to myself that labour had begun. My back ache worsened but I never really got stomach cramps; and when they came the surges came very suddenly and quickly. I got in the bath and took some paracetemol and Mike timed my surges – within 45 minutes I was having 3 surges in 10 minutes lasting 90 seconds each, so we called the hospital and they told us to get there quick! At that point I started crawling along the landing on all fours as Mike finished packing the hospital bag! We made it to hospital for 3.30am and I was 8cms dilated when we arrived. I naturally chose active birthing positions and spent a lot of time on all fours as I breathed through the surges. I chose a water birth and it took almost an hour for the pool to fill, so I stayed on all fours and breathed through the surges with the help of gas and air. My waters broke at 4.30am just before I got into the pool.
I loved being in the pool and laughed and joked with Mike as labour progressed. Our birth plan was respected by the midwife and I was never asked to push, the environment was so calm and relaxed, and our son’s heart was monitored with SONICAID. As Finlay was crowning, the midwives asked me to get out of the pool because his heart rate had started to drop. I initially refused – I was enjoying the pool so much! – but Mike encouraged me out and I waddled over to the bed, naturally choosing to stand at the end of the bed and lean over. I think I gave 3 pushes, my body was just crying out for me to push! – and Finlay arrived at 6.27am, so my labour was just 6 hours from start to end. He had his hand on his cheek when he was born which is why I think I felt the need to push (I remember thinking “wow he must have a big nose I can feel it” when it was actually his hand.)
We have a video of me reaching down and putting Finlay to my chest as I was still standing, a huge grin on my face. We left the cord pulsating, and we both had lots of skin to skin. We had the ‘golden hour’, left to ourselves just having skin to skin with Finlay. I chose to birth the placenta naturally and that took 1hr 45 to come out (the midwife kept mentioning theatre but I kept refusing, believing my body would get there in the end) and I was lucky I didn't need any stitches or anything. I was so energised and relaxed all at the same time.
I am convinced that using the techniques Gina taught us helped enormously and contributed to me having a quick and easy labour. I was the only one out of my NCT group who had a natural birth with no interventions, and I was the only one who did hypnobirthing and I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Mike can’t believe the births he sees on TV now, having experienced our calm birth. Even the midwife commented how lovely a birth it was. Finlay is now 4 months and a very chilled baby; he has been since he was born.
Thank you Gina for everything, for helping us have such a positive and special birth experience.