Now I’m well into my third trimester, the reality of labour and birth is really starting to hit home. Instead of thinking about the next stage of pregnancy – the next trimester – I’m thinking about the inevitable end bit, where baby koala makes an appearance. Needless to say, my anxiety levels have been gradually increasing as the number of weeks to go has gradually decreased.
Preparing for labour and birth
The husbear and I have done NCT antenatal classes (a whole post on that to come), we’re booked on to do the hospital ones and we’ve both been reading books. But let’s face it, no one really knows what to expect from labour – you can’t even compare other people’s experiences as every single one is different.
One thing I have subliminally learned over the last 31 years of my life is that labour is painful, difficult, will involve screaming and swearing and never ever goes to “plan”. Those are the messages that I’ve seen from the media – from One Born Every Minute, to Grey’s Anatomy – and from my own personal experiences.
If you’ve visited my blog before, you may know that my beautiful niece, Pip, died during labour. I wrote a whole post about my experience of that and awareness around stillbirth and neo-natal death – you can read that here if you’d like to. Until recently, I had been able to separate my own experiences from my brother and sister-in-law’s, but now I’m thinking about labour for myself, it’s become a lot harder.
The stats say that stillbirth is a very low risk, but once you’ve experienced something like that so close at hand, it can be hard to be rational about figures and percentages.
I also have a needle phobia, that I’ve had since being in and out of hospital when I was a child due to my kidney problems. I’ve had EMDR therapy in the past, but I have a specific fear of having a cannula fitted and I have heard this is common in labour and delivery.
So with all these anxieties sloshing around my head, it’s been a bit of a turbulent time.
Step in hypnobirthing
I’d heard about hypnobirthing from a couple of my friends, who said it really helped them to feel calm, but beyond that I knew very little. I bought a book and a CD from Amazon, but the self-motivation wasn’t really there – reading and listening just kept slipping to the bottom of the to-do list.
So when I saw an opportunity to try a hypnobirthing course with an experienced practitioner, I thought the timing was just too good to be true. I wanted to tackle my anxiety and I needed help and guidance to do it. That’s where Shona from Empowered Hypnobirthing stepped in.
What on earth is hypnobirthing?
Sounds totally hippy, right? In reality, it’s not that out there. Hypnobirthing is all about the connection between our mental and physical selves – it’s about finding techniques to stay calm, to relax and to stay positive when faced with a challenge. Part of this is visualising yourself succeeding – a skill many athletes employ when they’re running marathons or climbing mountains. Another part is using affirmations to get your brain in the right frame of mind – Muhammad Ali said he was the greatest before he even knew it himself. And guess what, he became what he envisioned.
It’s important to point out that hypnobirthing isn’t about having a perfect birth. It doesn’t promise that birth will be a zen like experience or that you won’t need an epidural, a c-section or any other form of pain relief that you want. Instead, it focuses on giving you the confidence to make decisions about your birth developments as you go.
I’m reframing my mind to realise that I don’t have to fear labour and birth and that it’s a totally natural journey for my body to go on. I’m hoping to get to the point where I’m excited to give birth and meet our little one!
It might not be for everyone, I get that, but I already think it is helping me tackle my anxieties and is making a real difference to my ability to relax and unwind in this final stretch. And the skills I’m learning here can be applied to so many other aspects of my life, I feel like I’m making a really positive investment in myself.
We’ve only just started, but I can’t wait to learn more and put the skills into practice.
The husbear and I are taking part in a four week course with Shona and I’m going to share a couple more posts about how we’re getting on and whether I feel it actually made a difference during birth (although who knows when I’ll be able to write that one, I’ll have a baby to keep alive!).
If you’re interested in finding out more about hypnobirthing, take a look at Shona’s website and Facebook page. Shona uses techniques learned from The Calm Birth School – another great resource to look at. And feel free to ask me any questions – I’ll always give my honest response!
Empowered Hypnobirthing have offered us a 50% discount on their course in return for blog and social coverage, but all opinions about them are my own.