Back in October, I was absolutely thrilled to discover that there was a pregnant midwife sitting in front of me on my course. A MIDWIFE! Someone so incredibly well qualified and experienced in birth, who still felt that she could benefit from hearing what I had to say, and enjoying the support I could offer.
This amazing woman, and her lovely husband, were a joy to have in the group.
At the time of course, all the focus is on the pregnant mama, whoever she may be. But I must admit to feeling a bit excited about how approaching pregnancy and birth in this way would eventually filter through to all the lucky mamas who end up in her care.
I am so delighted (and grateful) to share their story with you here, in Chloe’s own words…
“When I became pregnant I just knew that I had to do a hypnobirthing course. As a midwife, I had seen many women use hypnobirthing techniques to make their births more positive, all with varying outcomes but all seemed to reap some benefits. However, I only had a basic understanding of how to use the techniques in labour. Enter, Keri. My husband and I booked onto Keri’s course when I was around 26 weeks’ pregnant. It was ideal for us, as it was only over two days and we both worked shifts so it was almost impossible to commit to anything more than that. When we arrived Keri had laid out cake, biscuits and fruit… this alone meant we knew we were in the right place!
After the first day we went home, eager to start practising some of the techniques we had learnt. The second day Keri helped us to perfect some of them and we left feeling wholly confident in our birthing choices. I had already decided I wanted to give birth at home and after doing Keri’s course I felt even more passionate about it.
So the weeks went by and we practised and practised… I can’t emphasise how much I think this helped in labour. I learnt how to fully relax my body and switch off my mind, using the techniques we had learned. I also went back to Keri’s relaxation sessions, which were basically a weekly excuse to relax and unwind in the company of other lovely, pregnant mums… whilst eating biscuits and drinking tea (it’s a tough life we lead!).
We spent the following weeks preparing. We listened to the tracks almost every night- often falling asleep listening to them. I put up a picture to help with visualisation. My husband read the relaxations to me. I practised the breathing techniques. As time went by I was able to fall into that state of relaxation more deeply and more quickly until it was almost instant. My confidence in my ability to give birth grew and grew, as did my connection with my unborn baby.
Finally, the ‘big day’ arrived, six days past my ‘due date’. I had decided to go shopping with my mum to take my mind off being overdue. I had no signs of labour (other than a show) and was feeling like I would be pregnant forever. It obviously worked because my waters broke… don’t worry, it wasn’t like in the movies and there was no embarrassing mess! So off home we went….
I text my husband to let him know what had happened, he’s a pilot and was due to be flying home from Milan that afternoon, so I wanted to make sure he’d come straight home. I wasn’t worried because I know that first babies usually take a bit of time to come and I hadn’t even started having surges yet. Almost as soon as said text had been sent… the surges started. They were very mild and irregular but they were definitely there. I was so glad labour had started, excited that I was about to meet my baby.
Once we were back home I phoned the midwife to let her know my waters had broken, and she said she would come and do a check in a couple of hours. In the meantime, I used the breathing techniques I had learnt and the surges kept coming. I used this opportunity to stuff myself with some dates and chocolate orange… I knew that I wouldn’t want to eat once things got more intense and my body was going to need all of the energy it could get. I found that making a loud groaning sound really helped, as Keri had taught us, it’s not about a ‘silent birth’, it’s about allowing your body to do what it wants to, without your mind interfering. I kept moving around- kneeling, standing, squatting, walking, anything but sitting or lying.
The midwife arrived and I was still really calm. She checked my blood pressure and temperature and listened to baby’s heartbeat. All was well. We agreed that I was in early labour (my surges were still irregular and relatively mild), so there was no need for her to stay. I was quite keen to just get on with things in my own space. She was just getting ready to leave when I suddenly felt like I wanted to push… and I panicked. Not because I was worried about giving birth but because my husband still hadn’t landed and I didn’t want him to miss the birth. Obviously the midwife didn’t want to leave at that point so she examined me see what stage of labour I was at and I was 4cm dilated. I knew this meant we had some more time so I relaxed again and I got back into my stride. She went to the hospital to bring all the home birth equipment back. She would normally have brought it with her initially but the team had already had two home births that day, so needed to stock up again!
My brother then arrived… he was supposed to be visiting and I had forgotten to tell him I had gone into labour. Turns out he was a great birthing partner… he’s about twice my size so he was able to support my weight for me. The surges then became really intense, they reached a crescendo when it felt like there were no breaks in between and I reached a point where I thought I could do no more. I remember a voice shouting in my head ‘EPIDURAL!’, but not wanting to say it out loud as it wasn’t what I really wanted. That brief moment was the only point in my labour I even thought about pain relief.
Just as I was wanting to give up, everything stopped, I laid down on my side on the living room floor and went to sleep for about 20 minutes. The midwife voice in my head told me this was transition but I couldn’t believe I had reached that point so quickly. I just relaxed and enjoyed that moment of rest. When I awoke from my sleep I found that I was pushing during the surges. This was completely involuntary and I wasn’t putting any effort into the pushes, they just kind of happened.
At that point my brother was replaced by one of my best friends (who is a midwife too). She could see that it wasn’t going to be long so she asked my mum to get some towels ready (yes the cliché is true… towels really are handy when delivering a baby!). I was now very much in ‘the zone’, I was on my hands and knees on the living room floor with my head buried into the sofa. The loud groans had subsided and I was fully in the swing of bringing my baby into the world. I found that if I thought about how to push or how long to push for I couldn’t do it but if I just went into my relaxed headspace and let my body do what it needed the pushes were really effective.
I remember the two midwives and my husband arriving all around the same time. Thank god, he had made it all the way from Italy in just over three hours! With my husband to my right, my mum and friend to my left and two midwives behind me I was ready to give birth. I could feel every sensation I had once guided many women through before, I could feel my baby’s head slowly easing into the world. Then slowly followed by her body. My husband helped her into the world with the midwife’s hands guiding her too.
I cradled my new baby in my arms and looked at her in awe and amazement that I had created this beautiful little being. I turned around and sat on the floor with my baby in my arms, skin to skin. My husband cut the umbilical cord but the midwives were a bit worried about some heavy bleeding so they gave me the injection to help deliver the placenta. A couple of minutes later I delivered the placenta.
I was then helped to the bedroom for the dreaded suturing… which turned out to be absolutely fine, the local anaesthetic worked a treat! We then spent the next few hours snuggled up on the bed, baby feeding away contentedly, my husband by my side. The midwife briefly prized my baby from me to check how much she weighed but all the other checks were done with her skin to skin. The midwives left once we were all settled down but came back a few hours later to check we were ok and drop off all the paperwork… a midnight visit from a midwife… that’s dedication for you.
I didn’t sleep much that night, I just laid there staring at my baby, every bone in my body wanting to just hold her and never let her go.
I now look back at that experience with such warmth and happiness. Those very first memories of holding my baby girl, surrounded by only the people I wanted there and in the comfort of my own home. For me, it was the ultimate experience and one that I only thought I could dream of. That was the beauty of hypnobirthing though, I was fully prepared for any eventuality and I think that if I had given birth in hospital in an operating theatre I still would have those same warm, happy memories because hypnobirthing allowed me to get into the right headspace. My biggest fear was having to give birth via an elective c-section, so I worked on releasing that fear using the hypnobirthing techniques, until I came to a place where I felt confident that even that no longer worried me.
Keri’s approach to hypnobirthing is just that, it’s not about persuading people into giving birth at home, with no ‘drugs’ and no interventions, it’s about giving you confidence in the choices you make, whatever they may be, it’s about giving you the ability to tune into your inner voice and the confidence to listen to it…. Just a little pointer- your inner voice is normally right, intuition is a powerful thing.
Disclaimer: Although I am a registered midwife, this is simply my own personal journey into motherhood. I am not endorsing or promoting anything in a professional capacity.”