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