‘I would do it all again in a flash’

Yasmine’s birth story – by Christina

By the time Yasmine emerged on the first day of spring, she and I had been working on it for about five days, and we’d had a colourful journey involving walks in the park, cake with friends in a pub, nearly two days of belly dancing, showering and resting in a midwifery led unit, and a final sprint in the labour ward, culminating in a forceps delivery with me on my back, numb from the waist down and surrounded by people in scrubs.

That last step contrasted sharply with what I had hoped for – to do all the physical work myself, to feel everything, and to avoid drugs and other interventions. But shortly after Yasmine was born I was saying that I would do it all again in a flash. Three months on I feel just as positive.

I put my happy experience down to the preparation I did using mindful hypnobirthing and belly dancing techniques; the invaluable conversations with Guin, my main source of wisdom on hypnobirthing and positive birth, and with Sarah, a doula; the attitudes of the staff at the John Radcliffe; and the efforts of my birthing partner, Matteo, who worked very hard to help ensure that my birthing preferences were respected, despite not understanding the reasons for some of my choices. I never felt pressured into doing anything, and when it became clear that interventions might be wise, everyone continued to show respect for me and my choices. I felt I could trust the people surrounding me in scrubs, and that we were working as a team through those final pushes and pulls.

I’m sure there are many reasons why bonding with Yasmine has been effortless for me, but I do know that if I hadn’t prepared as I had, or had the support and respect of the people around me, I may well have felt nervous and disappointed about some aspects of the birth, and, importantly, Yasmine and I might not have been able to breastfeed as quickly and successfully as we did that morning and continue to do.

‘Simple, undisturbed, raw and beautiful’

From Becky

The day finally came and we flourished! It has been a hard few weeks though on the run up to the birth! After the positive birth movement meeting at your home I set about getting my ‘head game’ in shape and rereading sections from Hypnobirthing, Ina May, Sarah Buckley and others. I really felt like I was getting a handle on things by that week and felt ready and positive about what I wanted for the labour and birth.

Unfortunately it was now my body that wasn’t playing ball- the days and then weeks were passing! At the end of the 40th week, midwife was beginning to make murmurings of inductions and I (reluctantly) agreed to be evaluated for one at the JR on Friday 21st (41+6). I really didn’t want to be induced, so on Tuesday I had a stretch and sweep, booked acupuncture and shiatsu for Wednesday and another stretch and sweep on Thursday. By Thursday afternoon, I was beginning to feel wave like period pains coming at 20 min intervals on a long walk around Blenheim grounds. The hospital called while we were on the walk to confirm my appointment for Friday and then based on my symptoms, agreed to push it back to Saturday 22nd to induce if I didn’t go into labour naturally before then.

That night by enormous blessing, the labour did start properly! Went to bed early but was woken by the first strong contraction about midnight. Less than an hour later Ian was sticking the TENS electrodes to my back and we both quietly slipped downstairs leaving the sleeping Ella in our bed. We lit candles, made tea, put some soft jazz on and Ian fed me bananas and dates while I laboured through the night. Every new contraction, I would go to another sunset on another beach or sip my margarita under a different palm tree on a different island…. 🙂 This went on until about 2am when we called Spires to pre warn them that I would likely be coming in later, and though my contractions were 5-5.5 mins apart, I was coping using my Hypnobirthing methods and was able to breathe well through each one. My bowels were starting to clear with gusto by this point with a few contractions over the toilet!

Ella woke up at 3am and I had my mother sleep with her in our bed and went back downstairs. When it got light in the early hours and with an hour of slide lying rest on the sofa, the contractions grew further apart to 6-8 mins and were mildly less uncomfortable but I needed the rest and was grateful to have an hour or so dozing (as I am sure Ian did too!).

Morning came and with Ella awake, my mom took over her breakfast needs and Ian and I took a stroll up and down my garden in laps. I would inhale the lilac in bloom at the bottom of the yard and then moan though another contraction holding Ian before resuming walking. Contractions were back to 5 min intervals and I took myself upstairs to call Spires to let them know I was coming in. I now felt increasing rectal pressure, wasn’t breathing as well through the contractions and knew this was the time to go. We left at 9:15am.

On being buzzed in at Spires the midwife greeted us and I had a whopper of a contraction that was like none previous to it. I felt I had arrived, I felt safe and was ready to abandon myself to birth the baby. Very quickly we were brought to a room for the paperwork and vital tests and then brought to a birthing room. From there I soon began to bear down to push her out. It all happened very quickly and with barely time to get the hang of what I needed to do to make the gas and air have some kind of analgesic effect for me. Our little girl was born less than an hour after arriving at the JR and with no need for any intervention or examination of any kind. Just simple, undisturbed, raw and beautiful. Just as I hoped it would be.

The Hypnobirthing refresher course alongside the accompanying book and Positive Birth Movement meeting prepared me very well this time. I was capable and in control of my birth from first contraction to first latch! Thank you so much, Guin, for all your support. May many women get to experience (and enjoy!) positive and undisturbed birth through this method and through your teachings.

‘I found the hypnobirthing techniques really helpful’

I just wanted to let you know that our lovely daughter arrived safe and sound last Tuesday. I had a natural birth after a spontaneous labour – no inductions – hooray! I did need to have my placenta manually removed in theatre afterwards but even that was fine. I found the hypnobirthing techniques really helpful in managing the last few weeks of pregnancy and the early stage of labour. I may have panicked a little when the second stage was quicker than expected and needed a swift dash to the Spires! But again the techniques helped once we were at the Spires and the BRAINS checklist was really useful in making an informed choice about interventions for placenta removal.

Our doula was brilliant and we were both so pleased to have her on our ‘team’. Thanks for talking through the benefits of doulas with us!

Thanks also for your support at the positive birth sessions I attended and at the hypnobirthing course. I really feel these made a difference to our experience and we are really enjoying our time with our lovely baby and her big sister.

‘Focus on the now, you’re okay’

Ava’s birth story – by Nina

I didn’t find labour too bad at all. I kept waiting for it to become unbearable but it never did and I believe that it is all because of the Hypnobirthing class.

It was 14 hours in total, 10 I did with nothing but oils and 10 to 1 affirmations and the last four I used Gas and Air, continued playing the Mp3 clips, 10 to 1 affirmations and oils. My contractions were regular from the start at 7 mins and 50 secs for each one. Waters broke at 0.50 am and got to JR at 8am. I was 10cm dilated by 1pm (and this is the only time I was examined), she was in a bit of a funny position but thankfully moved.

I believe it was all about being in the right mindset, and the bit that helped me the most, especially in the pushing and crowning phase was saying to myself, focus on the now, you’re okay, and I was okay and breathing into my hand to bear down.
I also found myself making that mooing sound, which made me chuckle inside.

I unfortunately had to have stitches for a 2nd degree tear, as Ava came out with her hand on the side of her face. She weighed a healthy 7.5 lbs. And I have sprained my Coccyx bone, all of this has been more painful than the delivery itself.

Thank you so much! We are forever in your debt!

‘Hypnobirthing made such a difference!’

Tomás’s birth story – by Margarita

I am very happy on how my home birth went. Hypnobirthing made such a difference! Together with all the information/preparation I did. Tomás was born in the water after 8 hours of soaking 🙂

I made a birth panel and was so useful for keeping concentrated. Also I bought some wireless headphones! With them I didn’t listen to the boiling kettle or the midwife chatting! I wanted to kill people chatting around 🙂  Also had a shift change and hated the new midwife but was too late to say something. She kept trying to intervene and do more examinations than needed (my doula said she might have been new to homebirth). Well the thing was that luckily I was too confident!

From all the visualisations I learned, I used one that came to my mind just there. As I was using gas and air I imagine that I was a fire extinguisher and I with my out breath I was trying to turn off a big fire by making a fan movement with my head from left to right. It was so powerful!
Ignacio was perfect, he kept calm (or at least pretended) all the time and was very helpful. He translated me very politely to the midwife. I was so glad to have a second language 🙂

For me all this experience has been amazing! And still can’t believe it sometimes.

‘Welcoming the contractions, the stronger the better’

I did one of your October classes and am writing to let you know that our baby was born into water at the Spires on Saturday (40+2), weighing 7 lbs 13 oz.

My contractions started on Friday around 6.30pm, and I used a TENS machine from about 9pm onwards, mostly walking in circles around our extension and watching the moon come and go behind white clouds. During this time I mostly did 321RRR for contractions (which I had found helpful during dental work the previous week!) as I couldn’t quite mentally hang on to the other exercises. I found the music very helpful and kept it on throughout, until stage 2 when I wanted quiet. We went to hospital at about 1am and I was only 3cm dilated but the midwife said that that means nothing with a third baby! I was finding by then that the TENS wasn’t enough and I wanted to get in the pool. My husband and I were both worried that this would slow things down (as it did with my first baby). By this stage I was already exhausted because it was so late and life at 9 months pregnant with 2 small boys is hard going! In fact I was fully dilated 2 hours later. It was a very intense 2 hours and I felt like I was mentally working hard to stay positive and calm, helped by the music and images of welcoming my baby, opening the door, welcoming the contractions, the stronger the better. But it was hard work! My waters broke at 3.05 and he was born at 3.35, latched on minutes later. Despite the injection, I had no after-cramps and so at 50 mins post delivery I still hadn’t delivered the placenta. Fortunately the baby latched on again and I had enough contraction to work with, and pushed the placenta out 58 mins post delivery, 2 mins before they would have rushed me to theatre. Phew.

Now at day 5, our baby boy remains a peaceable little chap and we are delighted with him. Looking back at my births, the first was by far the longest and hardest. From this distance the second seems easy. The third felt very mentally challenging despite the hypnobirthing, but I think without your course it would have been considerably harder. The midwife was certainly impressed – she kept saying she didn’t know why she was there, really, I was doing so well by myself, and she couldn’t believe how calm and chilled I was. I didn’t feel chilled! I think objectively I was quite calm, and in control, even though it wasn’t easy. Also, I managed to breathe through the crowning much better this time without pushing, and just got a small nick to the forchette, which didn’t need a stitch. In fact, I think I’m already basically healed, and that was due mostly to staying calm and focusing on breathing and letting my body do its thing.

‘Just wanted to say how effective it was!’

From Victoria

I’m delighted to say that we now have a beautiful baby girl. I just wanted to get in touch to say how extraordinarily invaluable hypnobirthing turned out to be.

The music and the meditations were central to the early stages of labour and made such a difference to how I managed the pain; to the extent that pretty much all the midwives and doctors I encountered throughout labour were continually surprised by how far I had progressed as the techniques I used kept me much, much calmer than I would have expected.

Just wanted to say how effective it was! A million thanks from us all.

‘I felt such a natural high afterwards’

Nell’s birth story – by Jen
The thing about hypnobirthing through Mindful Mamma was that I found in the weeks and days leading up to birth that I wasn’t fearful or concerned at all. I carried on doing very normal things (although that’s a must when you have a pre-schooler anyway) and felt positive towards birth.My waters spontaneously broke on Friday 16th around 6.30pm, two days before my due date. Funnily enough it was a full moon. I’ve since seen that many midwives (and is there some research?) say that full moon = more women’s waters breaking. My expansions (my favourite word) started about 2 hours later. After settling Ada to bed, we actually got my parents round pretty quick and were on route to the JR by 9.45pm. Everything felt like it was ramping up and a hot water bottle just wasn’t doing enough. We listened to the instrumental music from Mindful Mamma in the car which I found calming. During an expansion, I focused using the golden thread breath. I found labour more intense than I imagined, which although was a lot to cope with, it still didn’t alarm me too much.I didn’t love the maternity assessment unit (stark, uncomfortable and bright) at all, but fortunately once I was taken to the delivery suite (4cm at 11pm) we set about making the room cosy. I liked my midwife, she was quiet and calming and I had written my requests in my birth plan which she did take time to read. We brought our warm nightlight from home which instantly made the room feel calm. We played the Mindful Mamma music on the CD player. Apart from that, I just bounced on the birth ball and used gas and air. The noise of gas and air was helpful to keep focused on the breath.She was born at 1.59am on Saturday 17th September. I have never known anything as intense, as this was a VBAC and I had not experienced labour before. Despite having shoulder dystocia right at the end (ow) all was well, and I felt such a natural high afterwards. I couldn’t believe I had pushed her out. 8lbs 2oz with a full head of hair. She breastfed within the first hour and I was keen to do this skin to skin. She wasn’t even weighed for a couple of hours which was nice. We have called her Nell which means bright, shining one.

‘We kissed, and I felt a surge of oxytocin’

Rowan’s birth story – by Caroline 

http://mydaughterwontsleep.com/2016/03/22/welcome-to-the-world-baby-rowan/

It was an amazing experience and one that I’d really like to share. Not to gloat, but to spread the idea that childbirth can be a wonderfully fulfilling and empowering experience.  It’s so often we only hear negative stories, yet spreading positive childbirth tales is essential so that others aren’t scared of labour, or expecting the worst.  ‘I did it, so can you,’ is more powerful than you can ever imagine.

After all, it is more likely that you will have a nice simple birth than that things will get complicated, it’s just that people sometimes feel guilty telling a good birth story when others have had a tough time.

I read several books on natural childbirth, two I’d like to mention are Spiritual Midwifery and a Guide to Natural Childbirth by Midwife Ina May Gaskin which as far as I’m concerned are books that could literally change the world, and are a must read for every pregnant woman getting you into a positive mindset in preparation for birth. Also Dr Gowri Motha’s The Gentle Birth Method, which gives you a plan to follow when you’re wanting to prepare for a natural drug free labour. I also trained in hypnobirthing with Guin at Mindful Mamma.

Here’s my experience…..

I woke up around 3.30am feeling a mild cramping sensation in my tummy. Even though I was 2 days away from my due date I put the cramps down to some wind and constipation. I was in denial that I would go into labour early. We’d being doing some major renovations in our home that had finally finished on the Friday. I’d booked for cleaners to de-dust the entire house on the Saturday, and Sunday was meant to be a day for relaxing as a family of 3 before we became 4.

I slept through the cramps, but at around 5.45am could no longer sleep, so went to the loo. It took me a little while to realise that the very mild cramps I was experiencing were exactly 5 minutes apart and each lasting for 30 seconds. My husband Alex woke up as I came back to bed and I told him that I thought something might be happening. We lay in bed cuddling and chatting for an hour or so. We timed the cramps as they got a little closer together. I turned and looked at Alex; ‘I think we better fill the pool’ I said. ‘I’m glad you said that because I was thinking exactly the same.’

We got up, and Alex began filling up the birthing pool, he made some toast and peanut butter as we thought it a good idea to eat whilst I still could. But as we pottered around the house, the contractions seemed to die down. I thought, ‘we could be here all day and night.’

At 8.45am we skyped Alex’s parents, and chatted for twenty minutes or so. My cramps were so mild I barely had to do anything to cope with them. Melissa our daughter had swimming at 10am and I managed to persuade Alex to take her. I also gave him a shopping list, as I was planning a roast chicken for lunch and had friends coming over. He reluctantly agreed, but insisted on calling the midwife just to let them know that something might be happening today.

When they left for swimming, I wandered around the house feeling a bit lost. Then I thought that if I was going to give birth today, I may as well have clean hair. So I jumped in the shower. As I was washing my hair Alex called back to say that the midwife would be with me in ten minutes time (around 10.30am) I thought, okay that’s fine, she’ll probably just check me then leave me to it until things pick up. Then I cleaned the shower!

Ann our midwife arrived just as I was drying my hair. She chatted away to me as I breathed through the contractions that were slowly picking up. She checked my dilation and found that I was already 4cm. ‘These mild contractions are obviously doing something…..Just carry on with whatever you’re doing’, she said.

‘I might bake a cake’ I said (something I’d done in labour with Melissa), we had enjoyed it with a glass of bubbly the day she was born).

Ann said she was going to pop up to the hospital to pick up the delivery box, but that she’d be straight back in twenty minutes or so. I thought that’s fine, but we’ve got a while left to go so no hurry.

When she left I decided to listen to my hypno-birthing CD, and settled into the ‘birthing room’ we’d prepared with dim lights, a birthing ball and a bed to lie on. Things felt manageable as I took myself off to my ‘safe place’ that I had visulised every day in practice for the real thing. After a while I soon realised that I was in no way capable of baking a cake. The cramps were strengthening.  Ann returned and I was having to concentrate more on every contraction which had lengthened to around 40 seconds and were 2-3 minutes apart.

Alex returned with Melissa from swimming at 11.30, I was sitting in our ‘birthing room’ on the birthing ball listening to my CD. He made some lunch for us and I managed half a bowl of soup and a slice of bread. I wandered around the kitchen in a hypnotic state leaning on various pieces of furniture during a contraction; the piano, a bar stool, a kitchen chair, my husband etc.

By 12.15 I started to say I didn’t think I could do it any longer. Alex reminded me that I was doing it, and that when it starts feeling impossible, that’s because I’m probably very close to having the baby.

By 12.30 I was on all fours in the birthing room, growling a low growl which vibrated into my chest during each contraction. ‘I need to get in the pool now’, I said. ‘It’s not ready yet’ Alex said, and he and the midwife began boiling kettles of water to get it to the right temperature. I asked Ann to check me and she said that she wouldn’t like to do it for another 4 hours. 4 hours I thought! I’m not going to last that long!!

The pool was wonderfully soothing, I flopped into the warm water and hung on with my head resting on the side. Alex knelt beside me saying encouraging words. I kept saying I didn’t think I could go on and Alex said that it was the first time I’d said this in 9 months of pregnancy, and that I could do it, I was doing it, and plus I’d done it before. We kissed, and I felt a surge of oxytocin which sped up the contractions.

A second midwife arrived. I told Ann I wanted to push. She said go on then. I was surprised that she’d let me push without knowing if I was fully dilated, but she said to trust my body. I could do nothing else but push. I pushed with all my might, and felt my waters break into the pool. It was a wonderful feeling of release. I reached up and could feel the hard surface of my baby’s head.

Then I heard the midwives talk among themselves. I’m just going to call the delivery suite, your baby has pooh-ed itself in the womb. Meconium can be sign that your baby is in distress. I had had this with our daughter Melissa and as my waters had broken earlier in labour we had ended up in hospital even though nothing had been wrong.

A surge of fear overcame me and the next contraction was weak and uneventful, it reminded me of how the power of the mind can progress or stall labour. Alex reassured me – it’s just a formality, they are following protocol.

Then Ann said the magic words – I don’t think you’re going to have time to make it to hospital. She had faith in me. I gathered all my courage and declared out loud that this baby was going to be born right now. As I said the words I had a very strong contraction that pushed the baby’s head into crowing position. All I could say was ‘burn’ as I was stretched to the maximum. Nobody could work out what I was saying, and as I was in the pool, nobody could see at what stage I was at.

The midwives asked me to lean back (I had been crouching in the pool). I remember  thinking ‘you’ve got to be joking, I can’t move out of this position’. Alex helped me move and they exclaimed that they could see the head. ‘I know’ I thought.

With the next contraction the baby’s head was out, and with one final push so was the body. I reached down and guided my baby up and out of the water and onto my chest.  It was 13.13pm exactly. He opened his eyes and looked at me, coughed and spluttered a little, then with a small cry began breathing and turned pink all on his own – 10 Apgar score! The midwife checked and saw that he was a little boy. He was perfect in every way and we immediately fell in love.

We climbed out of the pool and cuddled up on the bed all draped in towels and a dressing gown. All the time, Melissa our daughter had been sitting at the kitchen table next door watching Hotel Transylvania with headphones on.

Shortly after I delivered the placenta naturally, and they checked to make sure I had no tears – what a relief. We settled down for cuddles on the bed and a breast feed. That’s when the last photo was taken. Later we weighed him and he was exactly 8lbs.

I celebrated with a cup of tea and a Snickers bar! Melissa met her little brother, once her movie had finished, we’d decided a name and put clothes on baby Rowan.

Four hours later I was making gravy for a roast chicken that Alex had cooked. We had a glass of wine and were in bed by 9pm. A perfect day!

‘I was calm throughout!’

From Emma

Just to say that our beautiful son has arrived! My health deteriorated a lot during pregnancy, I had diabetes but more seriously obstetric cholestasis at a crazy high level (even on the maximum drugs my bile acids were over 300!) so they decided that I should be induced at 34 weeks and six days. To be honest I felt terrible so was pleased to start the process!

The induction went on and on ( 28 hours of it!) until they finally decided on an emergency c section.

Weirdly, for a generally anxious person, even for that amount of time I was calm throughout! I think the course had much to do with it. I found the counting (3,2,1 relax relax relax) particularly helpful. It helped my husband too- we did the counting down from 50 when they broke the waters which was particularly uncomfortable.

Thanks so very much for all of your help- we are all doing really well and needless to say it has all been more than worth it! I have recommended the course to many people already. I am truly loving being a mum!