Those of you who've followed my blog for some time will know we sadly lost a baby last year in a missed miscarriage, discovered at our 12 week scan.
This pregnancy I was so much more relaxed. But as a natural worrier and control freak I knew I needed something to help me feel calmer, more reassured and a little in control.
A friend of mine, who had a baby a month or two before my first pregnancy baby would have been due, happened to tell me about this book she was reading on hypnobirthing and what she was trying.
Now she's not a 'hippy' or 'away with the fairies' in any way, so I immediately listened and took note - I trust her views and judgement.
Maybe something to look into myself? Perhaps it could help with my control issues?
Another friend had anxiety and had been using CBT techniques to help her and I again wondered if breathing could be of use in some way.
My fiancé and I attended numerous antenatal classes and I read tons of books, forums, blogs. Everyone does talk about breathing which is great, but hypnobirthing is more than that.
Sometimes it's referred to as hypnobirthing, sometimes natal hypnotherapy (a NHS course we signed up to for 1 day at Queens Hospital had this name - yes again another positive for our local hospital!)
Just before we attended the class I went to an expectant parent's event at Mothercare and sat in on a taster session by Magical Baby Moments (a local run business by a fellow Mummy).
The taster touched on what hypnobirthing essentially is and then Christine ran through a brief 'script'. I found it so moving and powerful (I opened my eyes to find them full of tears), I was really impressed.
At this point we had our class already booked up and I'd got a book and CD borrowed from my friend and had started downloading mp3s of relaxation music.
I didn't do hypnobirthing with this business purely because we were already booked up and had CDs and a book. However, I saw she offered Maternity Meet Ups (meeting other mums, practicing techniques, going through scripts and similar) once a week which appealed and I found them useful.
I went a few times as it was close to my due date and each time I found it so helpful - a mixture of discussing your concerns, scripts and techniques, useful excerpts from books and video clips etc. I also felt able to share lots of personal details which then helped me get techniques suitable to my situation.
Each time I experienced or heard about hypnobirthing and natal hypnotherapy I was more and more assured this was going to work for me and it made me calmer about the idea of giving birth and more at ease that things weren't going to go wrong and I could do this. Most of all I started to believe in my body again after our previous loss.
So what did I do?
Listened to Preparing for Birth natal hypnotherapy CD, Colours & Calmness CD and mp3s from Maggie Dowell and the Calm Birth School regularly
Regularly practiced breathing on my own and with my partner and listened to scripts to relax me
Made and printed off birth affirmations (words/phrases to encourage you in labour)
Had a hypnobirthing pack I took to the hospital with me - electric candles, aromatherapy relaxing spray, affirmations to stick on the wall and my 'happy place' photos, iPod with mp3s of my hypnobirthing and natal hypnotherapy soundtracks/scripts
Attended the meet ups close to my due date
Attended a natal hypnotherapy class at my local hospital
Read two books (calm birth school and the hypnobirthing book) as well as material from my natal hypnotherapy class
Had print outs on my fridge reminding me to be confident in my body and baby (I used a lot when they suspected my baby was 'breech')
I won't lie to you my pack got left in my hospital bag in the end! Hey I was a first time Mum! But at home for the hours I was in labour I listened to my CDs on loop and did my breathing.
In terms of hypnobirthing itself for the labour and birth once in hospital I didn't think I'd used any techniques, but I realised I truly had when my partner showed me photos and videos he'd taken of me! Midwives and hospital staff all commented on how well I seemed to be doing as a first time Mum too.
Hypnobirthing truly isn't a weird hippy idea as some people may think, it's really common sense techniques to help you relax and prepare you for labour. It's all about working with and trusting your body and not fighting against it and getting scared and in turn causing yourself more pain. I'd highly recommend it and in fact I introduced a few ladies from my NCT group to the approach!
I knew I wanted to try have my baby in a birthing pool and with minimal medical intervention if possible and hypnobirthing/natal hypnotherapy helped me do that I feel (and a very supportive partner). I used a TENS machine (when contractions started to get strong at home and at hospital) and then gas and air at the hospital hours into labour as my pain relief. The breathing and safe place I'd practiced and things such as thinking of my contractions in waves helped me no end!
I'm all for women bringing up their babies how is best for them and the same with labour - but I seriously want to help get it out there please just have a look into hypnobirthing and natal hypnotherapy I'm sure you'll realise just what an invaluable tool and approach it can be!