Hypnobirthing for the unusual and the complicated by Chanelle Thornton
6 August 2018
Did you conceive through IVF? Are you pregnant with multiples? Do you have a prenatal condition? If the answer to this (and many other similar questions) is yes, then why should we believe this excludes you from a calm and wonderful birth experience?
There are approximately 131.4 million births worldwide ever year. Somehow, we have convinced ourselves that these births should be roughly the same, and if not then the birth in question is “complicated”. As a hypnobirthing teacher, I often meet parents who tell me their pregnancy and upcoming birth is “complicated” and therefore wonder if the classes are for them. It’s a sad misconception; hypnobirthing is magical, logical, simple and applicable to all of those 131.4 million births a year, in all their wonderful variances. Did you conceive through IVF? Are you pregnant with multiples? Do you have a prenatal condition? If the answer to this (and many other similar questions) is yes, then why should we believe this excludes you from a calm and wonderful birth experience?
I had to be convinced to try hypnobirthing
I went into my first pregnancy with a history of cancer, an IVF conception and twins on board. I felt so grateful to be pregnant that I stopped questioning what it was I wanted out of my birth experience. In fact, I don’t think I even considered it. I submitted myself to the obstetrician and stated I would do “whatever it takes to keep the babies safe”. To a certain extent I still stand by that and my obstetrician was a skilled and responsible care giver. I had to be convinced to try hypnobirthing, I didn’t believe it was for me. It was the best thing I did for myself and my babies. At 38 weeks I delivered my twins, both breech. They were delivered by C section and this was a well-chosen care package; The skills I learnt during my course meant I felt empowered to talk to my doctor about the possibilities and implications and I felt we made the decision to undergo a planned C section together. I was no longer giving over my body. My husband and I used hypnobirthing techniques in the theatre, it helped us stay calm and focused. The delivery was serene and we had the slow process we wanted, delayed cord clamping and immediate skin to skin. I treasured the experience and it didn’t feel like a compromise. Hypnobirthing was a game changer for me. I deserved a beautiful birth and I got one.
When I started to panic, I was able to bring myself back
I delivered my son a few years later and I had a successful VBAC birth. Our midwife even commented that, in almost all cases, VBAC deliveries are successful when mothers are relaxed (thank you hypnobirthing!). I can’t claim that this birth was the calm, serene experience of hypnobirthing dreams. The unexpected happened, things changed and in the end, I choose a forceps assisted delivery. However crucially our hypnobirthing training helped us to stay calm, ask questions, remain comfortable. When I started to panic, I was able to bring myself back. I also was not traumatised by the sudden changes that had occurred during the birth. We did face periods of fear and uncertainty but we handled them as a family in collaboration with our midwife. I laboured in a clam way and what I took away with me was all the empowering and enjoyable aspects of my son’s birth. I was able to ask questions of my care givers after the birth that helped me make sense of what happened. I was able to go home with a very healthy sense of my experience which really set me up for mothering my son.
Hypnobirthing is a pathway
Overall hypnobirthing is a pathway to calm and comfortable birth. However, if you are classed as high risk or a “complicated” case it can also give you the resources you need to be active in planning your maternity care and birth with your care givers. Hypnobirthing can help you to stay positive and engaged in your birth, no matter what it looks like; to cherish the experience.
Hypnobirthing is a legitimate set of tools and strategies to help you re-frame birth and navigate your experience. That applies to all of us, not just the amazing women who will birth calmly, naturally and without complication. It gives everyone valuable resources, no matter what your birth looks like or the journey you took to get to that place. All 131.4 million of us deserve a good birthing experience, and we have it in our power. Through hypnobirthing my pregnancy and labour was not something had to get through, despite all my “challenges”. It was something to embrace and enjoy, no matter how it unfolded.
I felt the strength of a sisterhood
My final point of thanks to hypnobirthing is one of feeling support. After so much uncertainty as to whether I would ever even have a child It was important for me to feel part of this collective of motherhood. That didn’t come naturally with a positive pregnancy test – I still felt “other” with this unusual pregnancy. I felt didn’t fit in to my antenatal class. So many adjustments had to be made to the course content for me, my husband and our twins. Hypnobirthing is the route that finally let me feel I belonged, rather than I was an anomaly with an unusual pregnancy.
I had a loving husband as my birth partner but I had more … I did not go into that delivery room on my own. I took thousands of women with me, I believed in my power to birth alongside them and I felt the strength of a sisterhood.
Chanelle Thornton is a ZenBirth hypnobirthing instructor, has a degree in Psychology and is currently completing a postgraduate qualification in Psychotherapy. She works as a trainee counsellor and is a qualified massage therapist for pregnancy and beyond. She is also mama to three gorgeous hypnobabies.