I birthed Isabella in the bath and lifted her out of the water myself!
I wanted to do the hypnobirthing/positive birth program for several reasons. Firstly, pregnancy and birth are the most important things I'm going to be doing in my life, and so they warrant preparation. I wanted to make sure I was as informed and prepared as I could possibly be to make positive choices for myself and my baby. I wanted the experience to be smooth, positive, and memorable for all the right reasons. Secondly, I have a history of anxiety and panic attacks. Over the years I have learned how to manage this and I've taught my husband what he can do to help get me through it - his input makes a huge difference. So I wanted to learn some strategies for managing my anxiety in the context of my pregnancy and birth, to give myself the best chance at making them calm and relaxed.
After attending Shari's course I'd been using a lot of the hypnobirthing resources for a couple of months before Isabella's birth. I had affirmations all around the apartment, breathing exercises stuck up in the bathroom, I'd been doing exercises on the gym ball most days, and was listening to the hypnobirthing tracks every day. I wasn't nervous/ anxious at all in the lead up to her birth, which I still can't believe (knowing myself and my history). I was excited and looking forward to trying out the techniques to show myself and everyone else that I could have a calm birth (or calmer than everyone talks about).
I'd had a normal day on at 39 weeks pregnant with no signs (that I noticed) of impending labour. I'd been out to breakfast and walked around Robina, had a nap, the usual.
At 7.30 pm I got up off the couch and my water broke. I was on the phone to Nath at the time so he came home and I still felt calm and excited despite being surprised that it was a week early. I spoke to our midwife and then we spent the rest of the night packing the last few things in the hospital bag, tidying up and had an early night. I tried to sleep but my surges started soon after going to bed and I wasn't comfortable lying down. I spent the rest of the night sitting on my gym ball leaning with my head on our bed trying to rest and alternating with getting on all fours on the floor and stretching.
Our midwife came over in the morning to check on me and we agreed to meet at the hospital whenever I was ready but that I'd stay at home for as long as possible. We kept the apartment dark with my tracks playing and I spent a lot of time leaning over the ball and then in the shower until about 9.30 am when I told Nath I was ready to go to the birth centre. We got there around 10 am and I walked the whole way with my hypnobirthing tracks playing on my headphones. Our birth suite was all set up with low lights, candles, aromatherapy etc.
I spent the first hour or so in the shower again, then was on all fours on the bed. At about 11 am I was 5cm dilated. Nath read me my letter to myself to keep me going and was doing lots of light touch massage and kept giving me positive reinforcement. The surges were intense but I never got anxious. I always felt calm and in control.
Towards the end, I asked for the gas and air just to take the edge off and that's all I needed. I remember telling my midwife that I could feel a change around the transition point and told her that it was nearly time for me to start pushing. Nath helped me into the bath and I spent the rest of the labour there.
I birthed Isabella in the bath (with no gas at that point) and lifted her out of the water myself she was perfect.
I had a 1st-degree tear needing 3 stitches but only because on the final push the surge had ended but I decided it was time to get her out and kept pushing.
It was exactly the birth I wanted (if not better) and I still can't believe how calm and focused I was the whole pregnancy and labour. Nath said I was pretty quiet until the bath, at which point I roared that baby out haha
I found the positive birth affirmations, relaxation and visualisation tracks, light touch massage, breathing exercises and birth positions to be the most valuable and helpful aspects of the course. During my pregnancy and labour, I didn't have a single moment where my anxiety crept up or took control. It wasn't even something I had to work hard at. Through my regular homework from the course, my mind and body were so well-trained toward being relaxed and confident that I spent 75% of my labour in a sort of separate, calm state of mind. My labour only felt like half the actual time had passed and I remember just being focused and relaxed. I had a natural birth with only gas and air. I still can't believe how smooth and calm my labour felt and I 100% know that it was because of the techniques I had learned and practised from the course.
I could not recommend the course enough to expectant mums. You can have a huge positive influence on the type of pregnancy and labour you have, and the preparation is enjoyable and empowering! It's the best thing I did.
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