Hypnobirthing and Doula-ing: My Journey
As I finally get around to completing my recognition process and become a certified doula, with Doula UK, I reflect on the past eight years and how it was that I came to be a Hypnobirthing Practitioner and a Birth Doula.
You don’t know what you don’t know
Roll back to 2008, I was expecting our first child. Andy, my husband, and I had been to the one-day antenatal class offered by the NHS and that was it in terms of preparation. Oh, how little we knew!!
My attitude on my impending birth back then: we’ll go with the flow. Go with what flow? I now ask myself!! I had no knowledge of the fear tension pain cycle and it’s effects that can cause pain, slow labour and birth and distress a baby. I hadn’t practised any tools and techniques to help me to remain calm and relaxed. I had NO IDEA about informed consent and my birth rights.
And thus, there I was in labour, at 41 weeks, losing control in the hospital pool on the delivery unit, high on gas and air. Being told to get out of the pool so that the midwives could examine me. I was “only 9cm” and now I felt like I was stuck to the bed. I was pushing my baby for the next hour and a half, in the lateral position, my poor husband holding my leg up. A socket was next to the bed on the wall, right in my face and I still remember vividly now, the numbers and letters that were on that socket. I’d even said “Why am I staring at this?!”, angrily, whilst in immense discomfort. Pushing my baby up a hill was hard. I simply didn’t know I could have got up into an optimal birth position. Now I know that it was easy for them to see.
Our daughter, Ruby, was eventually born and after the suturing, which was another experience and a half, Andy and I were left, in shock, wondering what the hell had just happened.
After a period of ‘fuzzyness’, in January 2010 we discovered we were pregnant again. This time, I was planning on having an elective caesarean and I spoke to my midwife about my concerns over the procedure. She recommended we learn Hypnobirthing- to help with my fears and give me some tools to remain calm.
I’d already heard a little bit about Hypnobirthing through a friend at Yogabirth, so found a local course, taught by Sarah Ockwell-Smith, (the founder of Babycalm and Toddlercalm), and signed up.
The four-week course gave me the confidence boost I needed to have a vaginal birth again – I was so desperate to have my ‘healing’ birth, particularly after experiencing some issues with bonding and postnatal depression.
31st May 2010, 40+3 and I was in Asda in Steevange, doing a food shop with one-year-old Ruby on my own, when my surges (contractions) started. I remained calm and packed the shopping before driving home, breathing through a couple of surges. After unpacking the shopping, I proceeded to cook a roast dinner for us all – in early labour! I wanted everything to be as normal as possible and so my husband went off to work his night shift, at 9:30pm.
I had bath whilst listening to my Hypnobirthing music and finished packing my hospital bag, before phoning Andy at midnight, asking him to come home.
Time to go to the hospital
At around 12:45pm we left for the hospital and we’d phoned ahead to let them know we were Hypnobirthing.
The MLU (midwifery-led unit) had been closed, but they’d opened it up so that we could use the pool room. I was already getting into ‘the zone’. I felt euphoric, calm, and completely in control.
The room was small, but had dim lighting, and I loved the sound of the water running into my pool.
Andy put my music on and after the usual checks- pulse, temperature, blood pressure, listen in to baby, Andy and I were left for us to enjoy our birth room. “Come and get us when she feels the urge to push”- the midwives said.
The midwives this time were everything they should have been – super lovely and respectful of our wishes.
I undressed, stepped into the pool and into my birthing body. Twenty minutes later I felt the urges. The midwives appeared suddenly and Andy was guiding my breathing. After a couple of birth ‘hums’ our new daughter appeared below the surface of the water. I lifted her up and into my arms. She was peaceful and content. As was I.
An immediate APGAR score of 9 told us she was very healthy.
We had delayed cord clamping and after an hour I’d fed Jessica and birthed my placenta.
Another hour and we were ready to go home to introduce little Jessica to her big sister.
I remember hoovering at home in the afternoon. My energy levels were seemingly normal after my Hypnobirth experience.
I did it!
The consultants had said I’d need intervention due to scarring – I proved them wrong.
This time, I’d made all of the decisions, I was prepared, I was in control and it was OUR BIRTH.
It’s a cliché, but Hypnobirthing truly did change all of our lives. We had a fantastic birth experience, I have a hypnobirth child and I am (generally!) a much more, calm, and relaxed, mum.
My mission: knowledge & support = empower
Well, after my lovely birth experience, I decided everyone needed to know about Hypnobirthing, and so in 2012, I trained in The Mongan Method, and later, The Wise Hippo Birthing Programme, after it was born, in 2014.
The Wise Hippo Birthing Programme is a modern and fresh, UK-specific Hypnobirthing programme that is designed to help you to achieve the right birth on the day.
The unique antenatal programme, is accredited by the RCM and appeals to many as couples can relax knowing that they have all of the tools, and the knowledge that they need for the birth, even if the path deviates away from their birth plan.
Hence, it is possible to have a planned Hypnobirth caesarean!
Fast forward to today, and I’ve had the pleasure of empowering over 600 couples
My birth as a Birth Doula
It’s fair to say that the majority of my doula clients come through my Hypnobirthing courses.
So, how did this journey begin?
Back in November 2014, Clare and Mark, a couple from Royston, were embarking on their second pregnancy, with much apprehension and both were extremely worried about a repeat of their first birth.
The Hypnobirthing course, without a doubt, had had a positive effect on their pregnancy and their birth plans, however, they wanted to do everything they possibly could to ensure that they had a positive experience this time around.
Clare wanted to have a calm waterbirth, without any drugs and so they asked me if I could support them at the birth. I had previously supported other couples antenatally and postnatally, but not through labour and birth.
I was thrilled to be asked and agreed to be on call for them.
Birth day arrived, fittingly on Valentine’s Day – the day I fell in love with my role as a Doula.
Daniel was born oh so peacefully in the water at The Rosie Birth Centre, thanks to Clare and Mark’s preparation and trust in the birth process. It was an immense privilege to be able to support them both and witness such a beautiful birth! Clare was a complete birth goddess.
Clare and Mark- thank you for the opportunity and for trusting your instincts. X
Today I am grateful to have Hypnobirthing and Doula bookings each month and to supported every type of labour and birth, in every setting; whether it be non-intervention, to induction, to caesarean, to homebirth.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing
It’s true isn’t it? As I said before, I wish I’d known about Hypnobirthing and Birth Doulas during my first pregnancy, but then, perhaps I wouldn’t be doing what I do now?
One thing is for sure, I would not change any of my roles for the world.
Director of Breeze Birthing
Birth Doula – Developing Doulas
Instructor of The Wise Hippo Birthing Programme
Hypnobirthing Practitioner of The Mongan Method
Rewind Technique for Trauma
Closing The Bones & Abdominal Massage Therapist
Positive Birth Movement Facilitator
Freedom Fertility Coach