Our Journey through HypnoBirthing – Hear from both Parents
My husband and I hypnobirthed our first son born in January 2016. I say WE hypnobirthed because it truly was a team effort. With the assistance of our beautiful midwives from My Midwives, my husband and I embarked on a journey that we will forever hold close to our hearts. I have to admit I was a sceptic of HypnoBirthing earlier in the days when marriage wasn’t even on the cards. But with a little research and a friend who is a HypnoBirthing practitioner, or as I like to call her extraordinaire, Alecia, we chose to delve into the mysterious world of HypnoBirthing.
Words cannot simply describe hypnobirthing, for us it was more of a feeling with a sense of spirituality. Hypnobirthing allowed me as a birthing mother to stay calm, relax and enjoy! YES! ENJOY! For me hypnobirthing changed my whole mindset on pregnancy, birth and parenting. My perceptions changed and positivity shone throughout our whole journey. I can truthfully say I LOVED every aspect of pregnancy and birthing and we owe this to HypnoBirthing. I have never felt a stronger bond with my husband before HypnoBirthing, and I thought that our bond was already superglued tight!
We attended classes and did our homework and research. Eventually the negative birth stories relayed to us by it seemed every single friend, family member or elderly lady who I don’t even know at my Pilates class (I know right! I don’t even know you, nor do I want to know about your gut wrenching birth with forceps, legs in stirrups and an excruciating pain that never seemed to end) seemed to be easier to brush off.
We had our list of preferences down and were aiming for a water birth. Our main aim for our birth was to have a calm, relaxing and enjoyable birth where we were informed at every decision that had to be made (after all it is our baby and my body why shouldn’t we know what is going on). We were optimistic, it was going to be amazing and guess what… IT WAS! This doesn’t mean that it was the easiest, most smooth sailing birth. Nor did it mean that informed decisions weren’t going to have to be made or slight intervention wouldn’t be done. But we had one up before we even got to this point… we had HypnoBirthing. I know what you are probably thinking… “But its HypnoBirthing, it’s meant to work like magic and give everyone a pain free, quick and easy birth.” For us this was not HypnoBirthing!
Surges started for me on the Monday of my guess date. They were slight and slow but as every day passed I knew that by the weekend we would have our bundle of joy. I went into pre-labour on the Thursday, after a night of restless sleep with frequent surges. I spent the day in the bath tub and relaxing on the couch after being assessed through a home visit by our midwife. We wanted to stay at home for as long as possible but being our first birth it was a little hard to ascertain when I was ready to go to the birthing suite. The following day (Friday) we met our midwife at the hospital. Surges were reasonable but still going at a steady pace so we made the decision to have an internal exam done to determine how far along I was in labour. I was 5cm dilated and with a jump of excitement from my midwife it was full steam ahead.
Well perhaps not FULL steam ahead, it was more like a casual Sunday train ride. I was cool, calm and collected whilst going in and out of surges with a sense of focused relaxation.This was to be my saving grace later. I showered, heat packed and walked. I did a lot of walking and all while reminding myself that the discomfort I was feeling was not stronger than what my body could actually handle. At 12pm the decision was made to have another internal as things were not progressing at a pace that is considered medically appropriate. It was hard for my midwife to determine at what stage I was as I was so calm and in my own little world, hence another internal.
This showed that I was about 5-6cm which was nowhere near what I should have been. You will have to forgive me as my part of the story gets a bit hazy here, but my husband will rectify it in his recollections (well, at least I think he will). It was decided with informed consent after weighing up the pros and cons (true HypnoBirthing style) to have my waters broken. Once this was achieved things really heated up. That train was steaming away, not full steam ahead still but none the less a chug in the right direction. As the hours passed I began to get fatigue… after all I had been in pre labour for quite a while. We had another internal exam done which showed the cervix was super soft and flexible but a small part of it was swelling and not going over bubs head. It was later determined that due to the positioning of his hand on his face (which might I add he is doing as I write this) the pressure of the head was uneven.
We decided to hop in the bath at about 6pm. Our preference for a water birth wasn’t looking promising as our surges slowed right down. We felt the bath was too relaxing for us which calmed things right down. My midwife and husband tried lifting bub up which proved to be too painful for me to handle, but we were soon to find out the lift was potentially my saving grace.
I spent the next hour or so in the shower and was super entrenched into relaxation. At 7pm our second midwife came in. By this point I was on the bed (not the position I ever thought I would want to be in) where my surges were at their most optimal. From this point on the whole experience was extremely out of body. I was in a relaxed state and could hear conversations going on around me about what was potentially on the cards, namely a shot of Syntocinon and an epidural to help even out the cervix. This would have been a far cry from our desire for a drug free birth. However, we discussed these possibilities and decided to prep for the move from our private room to another room. A needle was inserted and some blood taken. Meanwhile I was visualising (with the assistance of midwives and my supportive husband) that thin piece of cervix opening up completely. I took up the offer of some gas in the later hours of birth to reserve my energy.
We certainly weren’t out of the woods yet, as the biggest concern for our midwives was the fact that I had been in labour for so long and that the uterus could overwork and get fatigued. With that I was assisted in getting up and out of the bed but didn’t get far. It felt as though the baby was RIGHT THERE! They laid me down and did another internal and to our midwives surprise and happiness the cervix had evened out and no more swelling! A period of time passed that I was not even aware of, and with the support of those around me, I continued the birthing process in the same room, the very room we were going to need to leave only a matter of minutes earlier! We were on the home stretch, finally.
At 12:20a.m. on Saturday morning, 15 hours since arriving at the hospital we birthed our beautiful son, Oliver. It is important to note that during the whole 15 hours Ollie’s heart rate was completely calm and maintained a normal beat. This, we believe was due to the fact that was so relaxed and this assisted us in being able to continue to aim for the natural birth we had hoped for. We left hospital four hours later and returned to the comfort of our own home and bed. What a journey. I say journey because that is what it was. It wasn’t a process, job or hassle.
I can say with confidence that without the knowledge of HypnoBirthing we would not have had the birth that we wished for. Although our birth story was a far cry from what we originally thought it would be our main preferences to have a calm, natural and informed consent birth still went ahead.
This taught me the true meaning of HypnoBirthing.
It’s not about speed, no intervention or pain free, nor is it about having a plan… it’s about rolling with the punches, it’s about the journey and the decisions that led you through that journey. If we hadn’t had the first internal I would have had to go home, if we hadn’t done the lift in the bath potentially bubs position would not have changed and if I hadn’t had the small amount of gas towards the end my energy might have been diminished for the final stage of birthing. The whole journey was about being empowered, and I am just that, empowered. With the guidance of our midwives (who knew exactly the kind of birth we wanted which is the joy of having a known midwife) we were able to collaborate and not be dictated to.
It is because of my own HypnoBirthing story that I can now say when I hear negative birth stories that it can and most certainly will be an amazing and peaceful experience if you let it. I can now disregard all the negative stories shoved down our throats during pregnancy and say “No, Birth is amazing.” Birth is amazing whether you have an epidural, a C-section, a water birth, intervention or none. HypnoBirthing is all about helping to make whatever journey your baby has chosen a safe, well informed and relaxed entry. I will never regret any of the choices made because I know they were done with informative consent, not forced upon us. That is what HypnoBirthing has done for us.
A massive shout out to our HypnoBirthing practitioner and good friend, Alecia Staines. We hold much admiration for the work you do in maternity care and it is through you that I aspire to become a HypnoBirthing practitioner myself. We also could not have done what we did or gotten as far as we did without the help of our midwives from My Midwives in Toowoomba. The respect you showed us and desire to assist us in the birth that we wanted will never be forgotten.
Finally, my husband was my rock and took on board the HypnoBirthing method with all he had. He was an active member in our birth and was just as much a participant as what myself and Ollie was. I have never felt close to my husband than through the birth and weeks following birth than what I did. His active role in our birth assisted greatly in this. ~ Brooke Taylor-Gough.
A “side serve” of hypnobirthing from Birthing Companion and Father
Having had the privilege to be alongside my wife Brooke throughout the HypnoBirthing journey, my story is one of similarities and differences – yet, the same outcome. They often say that chalk and cheese complement each other, or that opposites attract. I’m not sure what you would call the two of us, but I would offer my summation that perhaps we aren’t necessarily chalk and cheese. Rather, we are more like inquisitive equals seeking out new possibilities. Yes, maybe I was a little more open minded regarding the birthing possibilities in the beginning, but that was because of my background knowledge in this rather new term I discovered in 2013, before the Royal Family in England made the term ‘HypnoBirthing’ cool.
Having spent many days for work during 2013 travelling an hour each day from rural Goondiwindi to Talwood in Queensland’s South West with Alecia, I would often hear about ‘amazing’ birthing process we have now come to realise as HypnoBirthing. As small school Principal then of Talwood SS, I had the opportunity to hear from teacher Alecia about her experiences as a HypnoBirthing practitioner, and her work with couples from regional Queensland. I was intrigued about the process and how it benefited in the childbirth arena. After all, I wasn’t married, wasn’t engaged and kids weren’t on the immediate radar. But, as with everything, both partners need to be on the same page when it comes to childbirth.
As the year progressed, so did my level of knowledge … from a 1 out of 10, through to a 4 out of 10. That’s probably where it remained, and not because of Alecia’s depth of knowledge, but rather my positioning in life.
Fast forward 2 years from my first conversation, and the clock would suggest it’s early 2015. Married life is settling in routine and children are on the horizon. Everything is a little more real. Even Brooke is talking about a new concept called ‘birth preferences.’ In fact, Brooke is now wanting to consider us pursuing a more well-known concept known as ‘HypnoBirthing.’ Was it the television, the Royal Family or the fact that we wanted a birth that was calm? Perhaps a combination, but now more people were talking about HypnoBirthing. It’s funny the difference 2 years can make!
But, I have to say, Brooke steamed along the process of research into our ideal birthing scenario, whilst I was a little more focussed on our new life having recently moved into Toowoomba. But, lucky for us, we came across My Midwives – and midwives Ros (and Bec) would end up being our support for what was essentially a calm birth of our delightful baby Oliver.
Now, I don’t need to retell history. The way we gave birth is quite eloquently described by Brooke, and her ability to recall the 8th of January is better than any timetable I could muster up at school. But, what I will say is that the journey leading up to the birthing day is what made the birthing day so special.
The hours of HypnoBirthing classes with Alecia, the ante-natal check-ins with our midwives, the limited medical intervention pre (and post) birth all led us to a point where we could enjoy the moment of delivery. The relaxation techniques we learnt through HypnoBirthing class and in the readings ensured we could focus on the positive, natural way that birthing was meant to be. By having My Midwives work with us in the Birthing Suite at the Toowoomba Base Hospital, we were able to ensure continuity of care over a period of close to 9 months. Just take stock of that for a second, the same midwife, the same care provider for 9 months. Now that’s what I call care and compassion. Couple this with the ability to call or text our midwife whenever and wherever allowed us to form a great friendship that will, yes, last – but most importantly, allowed us to be comfortable at our own child’s birth.
Whilst everyone is different, and everyone’s journey invariably will be different – HypnoBirthing allowed us the opportunity to reflect on the type of birth we would like. Naturally, we had the care and supports in place should we need to move to another delivery method, but that’s beside the point. Hypnobirthing to us does not prescribe a water birth, nor does it state what should and shouldn’t happen. Rather, it provided the ‘hangman stick figure’ that us as a couple needed to further draw to turn into a real human, quite literally.
People often ask if we had a HypnoBirth, because we ‘birthed our baby’ in a certain position. I say that HypnoBirthing can occur in any setting, with any couple – as it is a way of being informed about the process (and I’m talking about the lead up and the post care) and keeping yourself calm, cool and collected. Easier said than done, yes – particularly when the positive birthing stories are often buried away and rarely shared. But, would you participate in the Olympic Games first without any training? Would you drive your car without fuel? My experiences have led me to believe that birthing quite possibility is similar. For us, HypnoBirthing was our exercise, our training, that allowed us to run our race on the day that counted.
And whilst it was not without that element of drama, for us, it was the way in which we were able to respond to the situation that mattered. Hence, a 15 hour labour seemed to pass rather quickly when I had an amazing strong partner using all her strength to focus on her primary goal – delivering a precious bundle of joy into our arms.
Did we achieve that aim? Yes – I can happily report it was a personal best, and it felt amazing. Through hours of preparation, talking about our birthing preferences with our midwives, to having a backstage pass on the birthing day for ‘behind the scenes’ conversations about our birth – I a combination of HypnoBirthing, working with Ros and Bec from My Midwives and being in the Birthing Suite (which truly is more akin to hotel accommodation than a hospital room) was the reason Oliver stayed calm the whole time. After 15 long hours, there was every possibility he may have become distressed in utero – but no. I believe in the spiritual connection the 3 of us shared long before he took his first breath, and that was because he could be a part of our prior to birth‘training.’
And yes, I get it – many partners are too busy, too scared, or not interested (which I would suggest is a cover up for the ‘I’m scared’ option) to consider their involvement. But just remember – an athlete needs a team working with them to achieve success. A child needs a team of teachers (in various forms) to commit to helping them learn. A mother needs her partner and/or team there to support her and baby for a safe, happy and healthy delivery – be it natural, induced, C-section or other. My advice to partners is to just dive in, you won’t be alone. Trust me. You just need to dip your toes in the water and once you start thinking about the possibilities, the excitement will build.
HypnoBirthing does not discriminate, nor does it require a schedule. It doesn’t tell you what to do, nor will be the answer to every situation. And, it certainly doesn’t prescribe your delivery method. But what HypnoBirthing does do is act as the bones to help you piece the puzzle together for the birth you are preparing for. It gives you the strategies to consider if your tactics (birthing delivery mode) need to change. And if this happens – go with it! Ask the questions, but know the process.
It’s perfectly OK and your practice will pay off. Remember the final goal is not necessarily about the ‘way’ you birth, but rather the amazing joy that comes from your own child. It allows you to ask the questions that you have a right to know. It positions you to consider all the options. Put simply, HypnoBirthing ensures the love and care is put back into birth – the way I believe birthing was originally intended.
That’s my story.
It will never be as articulate as my wife’s – but then again, that’s the beauty of HypnoBirthing. There will never be two identical births. Through our engagement in the HypnoBirthing process, we could work with those around us to ensure our little man had the best possible start to life in a calm environment – one that we jointly created. This allowed us to redirect our focus and energy on the areas that really counted the most – surrounding ourselves with those who could provide the best care to us, to our birthing process, and of course to our happy, healthy and miraculous baby, Oliver Maxwell Strangman.
Written by HypnoBirthing Father, Aleksandr Taylor-Gough.