How many women have experienced others' sorry tales of childbirth? It’s interesting. As a child, I would have told you that the scariest thing in the world for me was the thought of giving birth. Why would I believe that such a thing would be SO scary having never been through it? Of course, like many other women I know and have worked with, all I knew was what I had seen on TV shows or had heard from other people.
I found, particularly as I got closer and closer to the birth date, that people were desperate to tell me all about the things that could go wrong. I love this quote taken from one of my go-to hypnobirthing books (England and Horowitz's 'Birthing from Within'); ‘We all have beliefs about childbirth... but whose beliefs are they: ours? Or are they adopted from someone else?’
Throughout my pregnancy, I used hypnobirthing on a daily basis to tackle the preconceived beliefs I had about childbirth and the fears and anxieties curated over the years. By doing this, I found bit by bit, that my belief system began to change. I began to feel that little kernel of excitement, that butterfly in the belly feeling as my due day approached.
Unexpectedly, two days before my little girl was born, she was diagnosed with a condition affecting her lymphatic system. This meant there would be need for close medical supervision during the labour and once she was born. Naturally, the news that my baby was going to be born with a health condition was a shock; I had had a stress-free pregnancy throughout and the hypnobirthing had really prepared me for her birth. This was definitely not in the plan.
In hindsight, how I reacted is surprising. I couldn’t and didn’t dwell on feeling sad about the news at that moment: the most important thing was her safe arrival. I found myself going into a state of complete focus – what we call ‘hypnotic trance’. There would be plenty of time to worry about her health condition after she arrived.
The following days I think I was in a permanent hypnotic state. I focused on my body. I focused on my strength. And hers. I had a long labour. But through all the relaxation, breathing and hypnosis techniques I used, interspersed with a lot of dancing and laughter, my little bundle Sofia Kate eventually arrived.
It’s hard to say how I would have coped without the hypnosis preparation I had spent so many hours doing. What I can say is that my little woman’s birth was a calm, fun and happy one. I am convinced that the hypnosis work I did impacted significantly on how I handled and subsequently dealt with learning of my little girl’s condition. I know it made a difference to how I responded to going into, and dealing with, a long labour.
You see, the truth is that hypnobirthing is not about teaching women to give birth. Our bodies are amazing; they are designed to do this! Hypnobirthing is about supporting you to trust that your body and your baby can do this. It’s about teaching you to slip into that beautifully relaxed state where you can tune out distractions and focus on the task at hand. And, like in my situation, it is supporting you to access the psychological skills to adjust to whatever may be happening, and that no matter what, you and your baby can cope with it.
Two years on, I am blessed with a happy little girl who deals beautifully with all the challenges thrown at her. And my continued hypnotherapy practice helps me to deal with the little bumps that inevitably come along.