Monday, August 11th, 2014
A Father’s Birth Story – ‘a proper team’

I have always been a fan of techniques like hypnosis, positive affirmations and NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming). The mind is a powerful thing indeed. A persons imagination can cause a physical response from their body. For example, imagine finger nails bending backwards down a chalk board. This causes a shiver down your spine by the mere thought. If something as basic as that, conjured in your mind’s eye can cause that kind of response, what can proper training and hypnosis do for pain management and healing?

My wife and I married in the April (2013) and we wanted a family straight away. We were fortunate to fall pregnant in the July (to our delight). Melanie openly expressed beforehand that she was concerned about the labour and would happily opt for an elective caesarean if she could. Upon speaking with her cousin in New Zealand who is a midwife, this opinion started to change as she grew more confident that she could labour naturally. She was still terrified of managing the pain though. Her cousin recommended Natal Hypnotherapy to us as a productive approach to the birth and the perception in the run up. Of course, I was on board from the start and encouraged the practices.

We booked our course with Cathy Welch and attended 2 full day weekend workshops. The first was around 20 weeks and the other at 30 weeks (approximately). Being so invested already, I made sure we took note and utilised the best practices taught by Cathy. We made a solid effort at least once a week to listen to the CD’s together, sometimes in bed before going to sleep. Melanie felt so relaxed during the pregnancy and she would listen to the Effective Birth Prep by herself about 3 times a week.

Towards the end of the pregnancy (last 3 weeks), we changed the way we were working together in preparing for the birth. We no longer just played the CD’s in the bedroom but also had them on in the lounge with Mel’s birthing ball to hand. We would press play and she would relax with me practising gentle massage and encouraging words (anchors) to put her in to an even deeper stage of relaxation. We used candles and lavender oils to set the atmosphere and make the room as relaxing a possible. This was practised on the weekends (Saturdays). This really helped me feel a part of the pregnancy much more than I thought I could be. Of course I was prepping our home with DIY bits and pieces in the run up but this in particular helped me feel like I would be a solid birth partner for Mel.

Melanie established active labour on the evening of March 31st 2014 (Monday). The weekend before, she had experienced inconsistent sensations that had no pattern to them. From 21:15 that night, they were coming every 3-7 minutes, becoming more frequent as the time went on. The self-hypnosis CD’s were on for most of the evening and she found the gym\birthing ball to be really helpful during each sensation (contraction). A few hours later we applied a TENS machine to help with the spikes of her contractions. This can be a direct contradiction to what we practiced but she found it to be really helpful and quickly went back to a relaxed state in between sensations. We finally left for the hospital at 5:30am Tuesday morning. Total active labour at home: 8 hours 15 minutes.

Upon inspection at the hospital, we discovered Mel was 7 centimetres dilated (much to our surprise) and baby was doing well. We opted for a water birth and Mel was in the water by 06:50am. She stayed relaxed through the next few hours, needing gas and air by 9am. At 12:25pm Dexter Alexander Ord was born weighing 9lb. His heart rate was monitored in the pool and he was never in distress. Mel stayed in the pool the entire time and managed each contraction remarkably well by breathing, visualising and listening to my voice. This really helped me to focus and stay with her the entire time. She didn’t shut me out during the more challenging times and would listen to my voice and go with it. A proper team.

Mel had a natural third stage of labour, birthing the placenta with no intervention. She did experience 3rd degree tearing from birthing in the pool and needed surgery afterwards. Looking back, we wouldn’t change a thing. Dexter is a perfectly healthy baby and had no distress during his birth. Mel breathed through her labour with no intervention until after the event.

Our midwife commented that she herself did very little for us as I looked after Mel so well. I am so happy that Natal Hypnotherapy helped us and helped Mel who beforehand couldn’t imagine giving birth naturally. We attribute the success to her labour at home entirely on Natal Hypnotherapy. Such a powerful tool.

To anyone reading my story, my words of advice are to invest in what you wish to practise. Truly believe in your ability to birth. Your body knew how to grow your child, it will know how to birth him\her. Also get plenty of time in with your birth partner to practice these techniques. Having a structured set of anchors to put mum into a relaxed state as soon as possible is the key point for a relaxed labour.

Thank you Cathy for giving us the support and tools to have a brilliant, relaxed pregnancy and manageable labour. We will be promoting these tools and practices to all of our friends and family and would encourage anyone to attend your courses.

Tony Ord

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014
Darcey’s birth – instinctual & empowering

First birth experience
My previous experience with my first birth was that it had been ingrained it me that it was a painful experience so I was fearful. I was told all of the options for pain relief and why wouldn’t you use them, so it was almost predestined I would go down this route. I was induced without realising that a)I could say no, and b)that it would make contractions more painful. Because I was fearful they gave me pethidine for pain and I didn’t realise this is a mood enhancer so became more anxious. The more anxious I got the more I feared what was to come and so opted for an epidural before I even knew if I could cope. The whole process then slowed down and I had to have lots of interventions, suction and forceps, and because they were concerned about baby they kept putting needles into her head to check her. It was hugely traumatic for me, 22 hours, and a very stressful entry to the world for my baby. She was also very unsettled for months. Fear, mistaken beliefs, pain relief and not trusting my natural instincts did not work for me, our baby or the team working with me at the hospital.

Second pregnancy and introduction to Natal Hypnotherapy
During my second pregnancy a friend told me about hypnobirthing. I read a book about it and how fear causes the muscles to tense therefore making it more painful and how interventions are really not needed as the body is designed to do this by itself. This all made sense after my first birth experience, so I attended the Natal Hypnotherapy Workshops to learn the skills to use. Using these as well as a CD at home I began to prepare for a different birth. I no longer felt fear but excitement about the birth and trying a new approach. I also gained confidence in my ability to do this. As the day drew nearer some anxieties crept in but I was able to replace these with positive and calming thoughts.

The Birth
Four days before my due date, on the Saturday at midnight, I had the bloody show so knew the time was near. The following day I rested at home experiencing cramps and back ache but was very relaxed. Midnight on the Sunday a sensation began that I soon realised with timings was contractions starting. The sensations came every 15 minutes lasting about 30 seconds and I was able to rest in bed through the night with the use of my mind map, CD and visualisation techniques to pass them. I imagined breathing in a green light to give peace to the baby and breathing out a red light with any negative thoughts leaving me. I also reminded myself they weren’t pain but sensations of muscles opening and viewed my womb as a flower opening to let my baby come out.

In the middle of the night they were 10 minutes apart and by the morning 5 minutes and lasting 45 seconds. They had grown stronger but very manageable. By the time I had used my visualisation thoughts they had passed. Soon after that they were 3 to 4 minutes, coming up for lasting 60 seconds, and I had to stop talking or walking to concentrate on working through them. My instincts told me it was time to go to hospital so I had time to create a peaceful environment again that end without it all feeling rushed or stressful. For me personally as relaxing as it would have been to continue at home, being a naturally anxious person I felt I wanted the security of hospital ‘should’ something go wrong. And as much as I love water and find it relaxing I chose not to go for a water birth in the spirit of merely keeping it simple and being on a bed! I knew I wanted to be on my knees over the headboard this time to let baby come naturally down as opposed to lying down as I had with my first, makes no sense looking back!

When I got to the hospital my waters broke and I had a rush of contractions so I knew things were close. I sat on a birthing ball leaning on the mattress to work through them. Compared to my first birth, struggling, finding out I was only 1/2cm and being dejected, I was very proud to find I was 6 cms and had got there feeling in control and relaxed. I was aware the rest of the cm’s would go quickly at this point and as they intensified I did start to question if I could do it but no sooner had doubts crept in contractions had passed and my body was just getting on with it and in autopilot where I had programmed myself into relaxation over so many hours. My husband also reminded me to breathe and relax. I had my mind map on the wall, my CD on, the room was dark and warm, the midwife and my husband were calm and quiet.

There was a huge urge to push and even though I felt I couldn’t cope at one point with how overwhelming the sensations were, I trusted my body and just kept breathing the baby down until she came peacefully into the world.
People on the desk outside said they couldn’t believe someone was giving birth in the room it was so quiet. People coming in the room said they couldn’t believe a baby had been born as it was so clean and tidy (my first birth the room was noisy, chaotic, messy with equipment). And the midwife team said it was a text book birth, so calm and such a pleasure for them to be part of. They couldn’t believe I had come in at 9.30am and she was born with such ease by 11am. I was treated very well on the ward after that, like royalty! I was even known as the ‘star of the ward’. I felt immensely proud of myself and so grateful for the gift I had given my child, she was so serene and continues to be. Soon after I was up, showered, lunched, checked over and home by the evening. Amazing.

An entirely different and surreal experience to last time. I still can’t quite believe how smoothly it all went and how calmly I dealt with it this time. The key words that Cathy put in her affirmation for me were ‘instinctual’ and ‘empowering’. I followed each of my instincts and they were all the right ones to follow with each choice I made. And I felt hugely empowered by being in control and doing it all by myself using just my body each step of the way. I consider it my greatest achievement in life so far. I could cry with gratitude to Cathy.

Thursday, February 27th, 2014
Complementary Therapies birth story…

Nathanael’s birth was completely different from my first which was really quick – 4 hours from the first twinge to Callie being born – so I was expecting this to be quick too. However, the first stage was much longer which was actually quite nice as the contractions were milder and I had time to do things between them.

I started getting twinges early Sunday morning but stayed in bed to get as much rest as possible. By 8am I knew they were definitely contractions but they were still really irregular so I had no idea how long it would all take. Still, since last time had been so quick, Russ decided to stay off work, so he took Callie to nursery and I texted my friend who was going to be birth support to let her know I might need her at some point, and my Mum to ask her to collect Callie from nursery so I wouldn’t have to worry about her. I was really excited to be finally meeting my baby and spent some time connecting with him and telling him about the journey we were going to take together. My waters broke as I was lying in bed, but luckily I felt it about to happen and made it to the toilet in time! I then phoned the midwife to let her know my waters had gone but told her I was fine on my own for the moment and she agreed to come round at 2pm to see how I was getting on, unless I needed her before. I took some Rescue Remedy to help with the shock and some Arnica from my homoeopathic remedy kit.

I thought I’d take advantage of things going more slowly, so had a nice, relaxing bath, then put on my tens machine and Russ and I went and watched some TV together. It was lovely to get to spend some unexpected time together and he made me some Raspberry Leaf tea while I walked round the sitting room and leant over my birthing ball. The contractions were still really erratic but getting more painful so I started to concentrate on breathing through them and took some more remedies from my kit. I also lit my oil burner with Frankincense in as it’s supposed to be good for pain relief.

My friend came round at 2.30 and the midwife arrived about 30 minutes later. I had been thinking that it wouldn’t be much longer, but as soon as the midwife got there, the contractions became much further apart. With Callie’s birth, I didn’t get to hospital until I was fully dilated and her head had descended so I never experienced how the environment can affect contractions, and I was really surprised how much just one person could change things even when I was at home – I was really relieved I wasn’t going into hospital! Anyway, the midwife checked the baby’s heart rate which was fine and then said it was going to be ages so she’d let her colleague who was taking over the shift from her in an hour know to contact me. Whilst the contractions were still erratic, I did know how quickly things had progressed last time and that I had managed to talk through even the worst contractions so I wasn’t sure she was right, but I was happy for her to go since she’d slowed everything down anyway… Before she went she said she’d have to book me in for induction if nothing more had happened by the next morning which panicked me a bit and, in hindsight, was an incredibly unhelpful thing for her to say.

Luckily, once she’d gone my friend, who is a midwife though she wasn’t present in that capacity, pointed out that I was feeling panicky and suddenly like I couldn’t do it because I’d been given a time limit and that of course I’d be fine. She also pointed out that I was holding a lot in my pelvis and I realised that I had been concentrating so much on keeping my jaw relaxed that I’d forgotten my pelvis. As soon as I started moving my pelvis more during each contraction and breathing through to my coccyx, things sped up again. My friend is a craniosacral therapist and we decided it would help things progress if she gave me a treatment: this was amazing and one of the most powerful things I’ve ever experienced. My body immediately took over completely and I had a series of huge contractions which were incredibly painful but, within 15 minutes, I was fully dilated and Nathanael was descending. Russ phoned the midwife and was told she’d be 20 minutes to which he replied – we’re going to need her quicker than that!

There was no need to push this time. The contractions pushed Nathanael out and I had no control over the speed at which he was born. I just had to focus on breathing through and going with my body. It was amazingly intense and very painful, but more homoeopathic remedies, smelling Frankincense from a tissue and the knowledge that it was a good pain because I was about to meet my baby, got me through. I had about 6 ‘pushing’ contractions, and then Nathanael was born as the midwife walked through the door, and I caught him in my arms. I was incredibly lucky that my friend was there so I had no worries about the lack of a ‘proper’ midwife: in fact, it worked out best this way as I didn’t have any of the distracting monitoring of the baby’s heart rate between contractions, or anyone wanting to do vaginal examinations to check how dilated I was. Instead, Nathanael was born surrounded by people who were in tune and calm (well, I was relatively!) and who respected what he had just been through. We then had the bustle as the midwife came in, amazed by the speed of it, and started all the paperwork etc. but we did have those first few moments in peace.

My third stage was incredibly quick and I delivered the placenta about 3 minutes after he was born which made it easier to move across to lean against the sofa while we had skin to skin and waited for the cord to stop pulsing. Nathanael cried in shock for a bit, but once he’d told his story, he settled down to a feed. The room was suddenly full of midwives, four in all for some reason, which was a little distracting, but they did leave us alone for ages so we didn’t tie and cut his cord for an hour and a half which was lovely. The midwife then weighed him and Russ gave him a cuddle while I cleaned up a bit. Then they packed up and left and Russ made me tea and toast before I had a bath. Then we all went to bed together. Being at home was a million times better than hospital in every way and I’m so glad I opted for it this time.

The craniosacral therapy during labour was amazing and I wouldn’t want to labour again without it. I’m sure that it, together with the homoeopathy and yoga relaxation techniques, are what enabled me to have such a positive, drug free labour and I feel very lucky to have had access to these things. Nathanael had been in an awkward position which meant my earlier contractions weren’t being particularly effective. I can see now that it was my constant moving about, visualisations, remedies and the cranio which meant everything progressed and we avoided interventions.

Friday, February 14th, 2014
‘I was so calm’ – Charlotte’s birth

As predicted, my due date of 3rd December came and went, all of the other girls in my NCT class had had their babies and I was beginning to wonder if we were going to have to wait until Christmas! The one positive was that it gave my father plenty of extra time to complete the renovation of our kitchen which, despite his promise that it would take 4-5 weeks had already taken 8 weeks plus!

I continued, as I had done for some weeks, to listen to the Birth Preparation CD on a daily basis and was amazed to find that, even after all this time, I would on occasion ‘wake up’ during the recording and hear parts that I had never consciously heard before.

On Tuesday 10th December, as my father was laying the last few tiles of the kitchen floor my contractions began. Greg and I were hoping to surprise everyone with news of the baby’s arrival and weren’t planning on announcing the labour, so I calmly asked my father if he would be finished and leaving shortly because “I needed space and quiet to listen to my hypnotherapy CD”. He has since said that he had no idea what was happening and didn’t even cotton on when Greg arrived home an hour and a half early! Unsure what to expect Greg and I checked the hospital bags, set up camp in the sitting room and prepared a carbohydrate heavy meal in anticipation of what was to come. I also found and read the instructions for the tens machine! We were excited not only by the prospect of meeting our little person but also by the fact that his/her birthday would be 11/12/13!

My contractions were fairly regular at about 8 minutes apart and 1-1.5 minutes long. They were bearable (like short and very intense period cramps) and I found that breathing through each contraction and focusing on the fact that they would pass within 90 seconds at the most really helped. Well, Tuesday night came and went, Wednesday passed, as did Wednesday night…the contractions were regular, at between 5 and 8 minutes but I was reassured by the midwife that we were in the ‘latent’ phase of labour and should stay at home as long as I was comfortable. By now the tens machine was in play and I have to say it was invaluable!

By Thursday afternoon the contractions had intensified but we still weren’t hitting the magic 3 in 10 minutes. I was uncomfortable and unable to lie down but otherwise coping well. Greg and I were still camped in the living room which now resembled a ‘den’ built by children out of duvets and pillows. At about 2am on Friday morning Greg had decided that it was time to go to hospital and called the ward. As expected, the midwife asked to speak to me and after keeping me talking for the obligatory 5 minutes, determined that we still had a way to go and should stay at home. I clearly didn’t sound as though I was in enough distress.

By 5am, completely shattered and desperate to sleep, I tried to lie down on our bed. As soon as I did so I felt the urge to push and woke Greg up, telling him to get ready. Greg again phoned the ward and the midwife asked to speak with me. By this time I was sat on the toilet rocking back and forth because it was the only place that was remotely comfortable (I had visions of giving birth on the toilet like someone out of an American documentary!) After speaking with me the midwife concluded that the baby was back to back which was causing the urge to push and that there was still some way to go (again, I was far too calm and able to speak). When I asked what to do with the urge to push, she told me to ignore it!! It was clear that she thought Greg and I were being anxious first time parents (I was imagining the looks between midwives when Greg’s second call came in) but said that “because my husband was clearly anxious, she would have us come in to the antenatal ward to be assessed but it was highly likely that we would be sent home”.

As we walked to our car the urge to push was strong and I honestly didn’t think I could get into the car. Fortunately the traffic wasn’t too bad and we made it to RSCH just after 7am. Our timing was impeccable as the night staff were handing over to the day shift and so Greg and I were left in the waiting room for about 45 minutes. When a midwife finally arrived we were taken through to the assessment unit and chatted away with me outlining the progress to date and the latest diagnosis that the baby was back to back. There were two other couples in the unit, one lady was squatting on the floor and the other was crying and pleading with her husband to make the pain stop. It was at that point that I decided that if I had to get to that stage, I didn’t really fancy the whole ‘birth thing’ anymore! I waited for a contraction to pass and then got on to the bed, chatting to the midwife as I did so. She said that from talking to me and seeing my general state, I was going to be some way off but she would do the internal examination in any case. I shall never forget the look on the midwife’s face when she did the examination – I was fully dilated and we were ready to go!! Our midwife was clearly shocked that I was fully dilated and did comment that Natal Hypnotherapy does on occasion catch them out.

We walked through to the delivery suite and were introduced to our midwife Claire. Claire asked if she could examine me again to ensure that I was fully dilated so as not to push on the cervix and soon confirmed that I was. After the birth I asked Claire whether she had genuinely believed that I was fully dilated and she said that when we arrived she had been pretty skeptical!

I hadn’t really decided whether I wanted to use the birthing pool but I decided that I would try it and so Claire filled the pool as we sat chatting. Getting into the pool was a bit surreal; I was sat naked with Greg to my left and Claire to my right just waiting! I remember saying to Greg that he must be finding the whole thing really boring – just watching me sat in a bath, chatting whilst we waited for things to get moving! Greg said that Claire shot him a look of disbelief when I made that comment! My contractions were about 6-8 minutes apart and quite quickly I worked out that with each contraction I would get 3 pushes, so as the contractions came I put my head on my knuckles, breathed and worked through my 3 pushes. It was as though someone was flicking a switch, the contractions would come, I’d focus on the 3 pushes and as soon as the contraction passed, Claire, Greg and I would go back to discussing football, NHS tea bags and all sorts of other things. It was all remarkably civilised – there was no screaming and the only time I swore at Greg was when he made reference to it being Friday 13th! Claire loved us because I had massively over prepared a huge bag of food, sweets, Jaffa cakes etc and we let her have her pick – Jaffa cakes, PG tips and haribo tangfantastics are the way to a midwife’s heart!

Unfortunately the birthing pool seemed to slow things down and Claire cunningly coaxed me out saying that she’d like to change the water before the baby arrived. Once out of the pool things moved fairly quickly, I was most comfortable up on my knees and so knelt on the bed.

As before, I worked with the 3 pushes each contraction and remember saying to Claire that I just wanted to hear her say those magic words “I can see the head”. The pushing wasn’t exactly comfortable but it wasn’t as bad as I had expected plus, I really felt like I was doing something and we were so close to meeting our little person that I just wanted the contractions to keep coming. After what seemed like a few short minutes Claire announced that she could see the head and lots of hair! Our baby’s head was born at 12:01 but the shoulders got stuck and so I turned onto my back and told to push. Had I been watching the birth on TV (Call The Midwife or One Born Every Minute) I suspect this would have seemed quite dramatic but I was so calm and felt completely confident in the midwives looking after me that I just did what they told me to do and at no time felt even remotely scared or panicked. Our baby girl was born 7 minutes later at 12:08 and just kept coming and coming – she was extraordinarily long and was not a dainty little girl, weighing in at 9lbs 2oz!

Apgar scores were 9 at both 1 and 5 minutes and she latched on straight away to feed, it was all perfect. Unfortunately we then had a bit of a Holby City moment as I suffered a fairly large post-partum hemorrhage. I’m not very brave when it comes to all things hospital but I lay back as 6 or so people whizzed around me putting in cannula, giving me injections and doing whatever needed doing. Greg held our baby girl and we were both so calm, completely confident in what was going on around us. If you had asked me beforehand how I thought I would cope in that situation I would have expected to be terrified, crying and panicky but I wasn’t at all – the whole environment was totally calm.

The drama was over almost as soon as it has started and we were again left with Claire our midwife, again we were laughing and joking and nick-named our not so small baby girl – Helga the shot putter! It was all so amazing and although I had just gone through the process of giving birth I still couldn’t believe that she was ours and was convinced someone had wheeled her in from another room.

I think we became fairly infamous on the ward, having come in fully dilated, been so calm and given birth to a 9lb + baby without any pain relief at all. So many of the midwives came in to see our little girl and to congratulate us, saying how well I had done. I felt a bit of a fraud accepting their praise because I didn’t feel like I had done anything out of the ordinary or “amazingly well” – it had felt like the most natural thing in the world – my body knew what it wanted to do and I did what it told me to do. 15 minutes after the birth I told Greg that I would do it again in a heartbeat which to me says a lot about the whole process and both how natural and “right” it was.

I could not have wished for a more perfect birth experience, yes the labour was long and the hemorrhage wasn’t ideal and did take a good few weeks to recover from, but it was the most amazing and totally natural experience. I’m not a particularly body confident person, not one to prance around the house in the nude and before the birth I was dreading my first post-partum shower (the sagging skin etc) but the birth process actually changed the way that I feel about my body – I was so proud of what my body had done that I didn’t mind the way it looked at all.

I have suffered with an anxiety disorder since I was young and I was really concerned that it would negatively affect my pregnancy and the birth but I was the calmest I have been for years. No doubt the hormones played a part but I firmly believe that the Natal Hypnotherapy was a huge factor. Greg, who prior to the course viewed hypnotherapy with some skepticism, is a complete convert. He was so calm throughout the labour and like me, cannot speak more positively about the whole experience and Natal Hypnotherapy. I honestly didn’t think birth could be like that – I thought it was going to be pretty horrendous, painful and scary but it was just simply amazing. I feel really lucky to have had such a positive experience and blessed to have a healthy, beautiful baby girl.

The only negative from the whole experience…Poor old Greg, whenever he complains about any form of pain he is met with the response that I gave birth to a 9lb 2oz baby girl after a 4 day labour with no pain relief……!

So that is the story of the arrival of our daughter, Charlotte Elisabeth Nicoll. Cathy, thank you so much for all of your guidance and support – if you ever need some advocates in support of Natal Hypnotherapy, Greg and I are happy to be top of the list!

Friday, February 7th, 2014
‘The icing on the cake’ – Edgar’s birth

I have always believed in the importance of natural birth, and the body’s amazing ability to do it itself. Having had Type 1 Diabetes since I was 11 however, I have also known that my condition can lead to a potentially over-medicalised pregnancy and labour, with extra scans and monitoring, and an induction at 38 weeks being standard.

With my first child’s birth in 2010 I did all I could to support the induction with yoga for pregnancy and labour classes, homeopathy, reflexology and Natal Hypnotherapy CDs. I believe these all helped a huge amount, as I responded immediately to the induction and it was fairly straight forward. However my birth experience left me feeling rather traumatised and as though labour was something that had been done to me, rather than something I had done.

On becoming pregnant with our son, I knew that I didn’t want to repeat these feelings about labour, and felt clear about what sort of birth I wanted. Knowing that I couldn’t have a home birth or water birth I was determined to at least use positions and breathing to full effect. But ultimately I wanted to FEEL differently about the experience. I wanted to OWN it. What worried me was that I had the memory of the previous labour in my mind telling me I wouldn’t be able to do it any other way.

Having found that the Natal Hypnotherapy CDs had really helped I decided to go on the two day Natal Hypnotherapy course run by Cathy Welch to get an even more specific and tailored therapy for my husband and I together.

I was induced at 38 weeks, and so it felt a bit early to me, and I didn’t feel totally ready. As a higher risk case I had to stay in hospital for the duration, and have lots of monitoring. My room was actually a delivery suite which meant I was surrounded by the medical equipment I was trying to avoid, not the warm comfortable surroundings of home. As various midwives bustled in and out, some using fairly negative language I found myself becoming rather resentful of my situation. I found myself refusing to give in to the patient mentality though, and made sure I stayed dressed, and busy, and in the hospital café and outside as much as possible. I had two and a half days where nothing happened, and I felt myself getting more uptight as I got closer to having my waters broken and being put on the drip, which was what I had hoped to avoid.

In the end I did need my waters to be broken, but the midwife gave me lots of preparation time, and I used the breathing and visualisation we practised in the Natal Hypnotherapy sessions to stay calm. Having my waters broken was just what I needed to get going! 15 minutes later my contractions started. They were regular and intense. I walked the corridors for 40 minutes, stopping whenever I had a contraction to breathe, sway and visualise my way through it. When I returned to my room the midwife became involved as she had to make sure I was being monitored. I quickly realised that to get through each contraction I needed complete silence in the room, so I could focus on relaxing. I couldn’t even stand the CD to be on as I just wanted to listen to my own body. I found my own concoction of swaying, moaning and rolling my hands and feet worked for me, which must have looked very odd!

The midwife needed me to get on the bed to be examined and found I was 4cm dilated already which then meant I had to go on a drip to keep my diabetes regular. It was really difficult being on the bed as I felt it took away my control, but I was still very clear about everything stopping for each contraction, and I still managed to sway and breathe through each one, if more tricky lying down. It took about 25 minutes in total and I during that time I must have gone through transition as I started to doubt myself. Even though I was saying ‘I can’t do it’ I did have a clear underlying voice in my head saying ‘you can do it, you are doing it!’ At one point I looked at the gas and air mask and thought I could ask for that now, but the same internal voice said ‘you don’t want that, you’ll lose focus,’ so I carried on breathing and visualising.

With the drip in, Kev and the midwife helped me on to all fours on the bed, and straight away something changed and I felt I wanted to push. I couldn’t believe it could happen that quickly, but I went with it, and just a few minutes later my baby was born! It was a calm, quiet room with just the three of us (now four!), so different to the birth of my daughter, and part of me was waiting for a medical team to come rushing in. When Teddy was put into my arms my overwhelming emotion was pride and love, and I knew I had done this all myself. Exactly the emotions I had dreamed of feeling. It took just two and a half hours from having my waters broken to holding my baby, and they recorded it as a one hour labour. It must have been extremely intense, and part of me can’t believe I got through without any pain management. I wholly believe it was the Natal Hypnotherapy which gave me the tools I needed to have the birth that I wanted. I found myself in a confident, calm and determined state that kicked in as soon as labour started. It has left me with such a warm, positive feeling, the complete opposite of my first experience – and for that I am truly grateful. I would have settled happily for just feeling more in control of labour than I did with my first one. Amazingly I had had the birth I had wanted but never thought I would get. It was the icing on the cake.

Jenny – February 2014