Congratulations! You’re pregnant!
What was that moment like for you? Who were you with and what did you do when you found out?
I remember being pretty sure that I was pregnant so I decided one Saturday morning to get up early and pop down to the chemist for a test. I’ll never forget that moment when I saw two lines! For a brief time I was the only person in the world who knew I was pregnant! What a feeling! Nothing had changed for anyone else but my life had just changed forever. I went through to my husband who was still sleeping and told him the news. That was one way to wake him up! We both lay on the bed for a while in disbelief. Then the anxiety crept in. “What if we can’t do this”? “Our lives won’t be the same”! “How will we manage”? We chatted for a while and we saw the smiles grow as we chatted and we ended on high fives with “Let’s do this” and “We’re not going to let having a baby change us”! Woo!
So we got excited, I got nauseous and we hid our amazing secret for a few weeks. The scan I had at 12 weeks confirmed I was indeed pregnant and it started to feel much more real. We now had 6 months to get ready for this baby arriving. We carefully researched what pram and car seat to get. What kind of parents we would be, what equipment we needed (or were told we needed) and imagined how easy this baby gig was going to be!
There was a glaring omission from my prep work…. childbirth. Yip, I was not going to think about that at all. It was going to happen but there wasn’t much point in thinking about it as it wasn’t going to be pleasant and you didn’t know what would happen, right? As we got further down the line I allowed myself to watch One Born Every Minute. A lot. I didn’t like the look of it much, though the sight of the babies got my hormones raging. I went to the antenatal classes offered through my health centre, spoke to people I knew and I read some horror stories online. That was me prepped. The antenatal classes had some useful info but I can’t remember much about them to be honest.
I got to around 38 weeks and the real anxiety sank in. I became obsessed with wondering if I was in labour, I desperately wanted to know “how will I know”?! I felt irritated that no one seemed to be able to tell me. I became fearful of leaving the house myself incase I went into labour and had the baby on the bus or street! Every twinge had me wondering if this was it. My due date came and I was sure labour would start on the dot at midnight. It came and went. So did the following week. By now I was barely getting out of bed, other than to freak myself out with more births on tv. I consented to a sweep, just get this baby out! My lovely midwife didn’t manage and it was so uncomfortable. I wanted her to try again despite this. She did and was still unable to do the sweep. Next, I was offered an induction. With absolutely no thought about what that meant I eagerly accepted. I had heard it could be more painful but I didn’t really know more than that. It was arranged for 11 days after my due date.
Perhaps knowing that this was booked allowed me to relax a little as labour started spontaneously the day before. I very quickly went into panic mode. I found the contractions painful and didn’t know what to do with myself. I wanted to go into hospital but they advised paracetamol and a warm bath. Neither helped, I felt too anxious and afraid. Eventually I was admitted around 7 hours after my first contractions. I cried a lot, was sick and begged for pain relief. I was wheeled through to the birthing centre and was given some drugs at last! They helped a little but I lay down and tried not move. Any movement triggered a contraction and I’d rather avoid those thank you very much!
Once the drugs had worn off I went into the pool. It felt a bit better. I sucked on gas and air like my life depended on it. I growled at the midwife when she asked me to get out of the pool, insisting that I pee or I would be catheterised! I never thought about this until I was writing this blog and I can’t quite believe she said it. I had to check with Jim that I didn’t imagine it! The water was the only place I felt relief. Knowing what I know now, I was removed from a feeling of comfort at a time when I was struggling and there was no medical reason for doing so. Perhaps it would have made a difference had I remained undisturbed. This is something we focus in in hypnobirthing.
I had the special bonus of an ovarian cyst which Penny was pressing against. Flash forward to being told it was a “failure to progress”, baby’s heart rate dipping and me being asked to consent to forceps or a possible C-section. I was unsympathetically told to calm down as I screamed in agony at the obstetrician giving me an examination. The added pain of the cyst was unbearable but there was no acknowledgement of this. I was whisked to theatre, given an epidural and our gorgeous daughter Penny was delivered by forceps and weighing in at 6lb 6oz. It was over and as I held my daughter I felt an amazing rush of love. I was so glad she was safe and in my arms at last. I did however feel a little stunned from the experience. I then went to the post-natal ward and my parents turned up shortly afterwards shouting my name in the ward trying to find us! Bless, they had been anxious too!
I spent two nights trying to figure out breastfeeding and how to deal with this little person who needed me to take care of her every need. I was shouted at for pulling the curtain around us during the day by an over-zealous support worker as I wanted to nap and apparently you don’t do that on the ward in the day as they need to be able to see you… I wasn’t even told that they wanted me to remain the second night until I asked later on in the day. There certainly didn’t seem to be any choice and no conversation took place about the pros and cons of staying or going home.
So I’m guessing that if I could go into this as unprepared as I was, that other women will do too. I don’t believe that “no one can prepare you for labour”. Those of us who are passionate about educating women are going out there to do just that. You definitely can prepare yourself. It’s true that we don’t know what will happen in labour but you can certainly prepare by arming yourself with knowledge and techniques to help you.
When else in life would we go into something and do no prep work beforehand? You’d prep for a job interview, for an exam or before stepping into a car. Think of all the research that goes into picking the best child car seat, best pram, breastfeeding or bottle feeding and can you see where I’m going with this?
It’s sad that we can put so little faith into having a positive birth experience that we don’t take the time to really look into it. I knew when I was pregnant the second time that I wanted to be more informed and that’s when I looked seriously into hypnobirthing. I’m not exaggerating when I say it has changed my life. I’m so grateful for doing the course and teaching it to others is just amazing. I’m part of a movement which is empowering women to become knowledgable and assert their rights to have a more positive experience.
There was so much I didn’t know the first time. I had no idea how my hormones worked with the uterine muscles and that by being relaxed my body would work much more effectively. No idea that simple breathing techniques would help me avoid using drugs for pain relief. No idea of the benefits of delayed cord clamping. No idea of trying to be gently active prior to labour and in early labour. No idea of the effects on labour of being observed. I can’t believe how naive I was when I look back. I wanted a drug-free, natural birth but didn’t have a clue how best to try and put this into practice and I didn’t do my homework. In contrast with my first labour experience, my second was drug-free as I found the breathing technique amazingly helpful. It was an induction for intrauterine growth restriction and I’ve written about it in a previous blog post here if you would ke to read how hypnobirthing helped me. The medicals involved in our care were fantastic and were a great example of what the support should be.
So please think about what birth preparation means to you. The birth of your child is an amazing life experience. I’ll bet it’s the biggest thing that will happen in your life. You’ll always remember it. I’ve heard many women recount their birth experiences and I’ve heard the hurt and pain that it’s caused. Some go as far as never want to experience birth again. Looking after your mental health prior to birth can help towards preventing mental health issues post-partum.
There are lots of educational options available, I’m passionate about hypnobirthing because I know it works and I also like the practical side of it. It’s evidence-based and everything clicked into place once I had the information that I needed to know. So yes, we don’t know what will happen during labour but we can understand the process of labour at a deeper level and we can understand how our mind and body work together. We can carefully consider our preferences and have more confidence if events take place that we need medical support in. I think there is so much value in that.
Here are a few books by some amazing authors who will help get you thinking about birth in a different way:
Hello and welcome to my blog page!
I have a few exciting things in the pipeline I wanted to share!
**NEW PREGNANCY RELAXATION CLASS STARTING NOVEMBER 2nd**
My next Relaxation class starts this Thursday at 7.45pm in the Gymboree Edinburgh. If you are thinking of coming along, please drop me a message to have a chat about it!
**UPCOMING PREGNANCY AND FAMILY FAIR IN KIRKCALDY – NOVEMBER 12TH**
The Bonnie Bairn Fife Pregnancy and Family Fair takes place on November 12th at the Dean Park Hotel in Kirkcaldy from 10am till 3pm. I will have a stall there so am available to chat about hypnobirthing and to answer any questions you my have. I’ll also be doing a taster session on the day to discuss what hypnobirthing is and do a demonstration on the effectiveness of hypnosis. If you are planning on coming along, pop by to say hi!
There will be lots of great businesses there on the day from classes to photography, books and support, you’ll find everything you need at the fair!
Details are available on the Bonnie Bairn website and on their facebook page.
**NEW GROUP ON FACEBOOK**
I have recently created a Pregnancy Support group on facebook!
The aim of the group is to support each other throughout your pregnancy and beyond. It’s aimed at women who have an interest in hypnobirthing and are looking for support towards having a positive birth experience. I’ll be posting regularly with interesting information and also doing live Q and A sessions. Although there is a general focus towards hypnobirthing, I encourage any discussion on any topic you want support in.
You can join the group here: Pregnancy Support Group
If you want any further info from me please use my contact form to get in touch!
All the best, Kirsty
Now available is a gift certificate for a hypnobirthing course or relaxation class.
An ideal birthday, Christmas or baby shower gift!
It can be used to either purchase the full value of the hypnobirthing course or buy a voucher towards it.
Also available is a block of 4 relaxation classes for £60, and included with this will be the pregnancy pampering gift bag full of luxury goodies so it makes a great value gift!
Please contact me to find out more.
My hypnobirthing journey began when I discovered I was pregnant with my second baby. My first labour had been a scary experience, and I felt totally unprepared when I went into labour at 41+3 weeks. I knew I wanted it to be different this time, so I completed my teacher training whilst 30 weeks pregnant and it changed how I thought about birth completely. I went from being an avid hospital birth fan, to thinking a home birth would suit our family perfectly this time. I did my research on the benefits and the risks associated to a home birth and was surprised to find out that it was actually a safe environment to have a baby in so long as mother and baby were well both before and during labour, and support was in place. I imagined being in the comfort of my home and welcoming our new arrival in peace and tranquillity. Baba, however, had other ideas!
I had an induction at 36+2 weeks due to intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). I had been monitored weekly from 32 weeks with doppler scans and ultrasounds. While they never commented on there being an issue with the cord blood flow, they were concerned that baba’s weight was tailing off the bottom centile. I’ll always remember that it was on the Wednesday at my 36-week appointment that I watched in dismay as they plotted the weight on the ultrasound scan, and immediately knew that the weight was below where we wanted it to be. The consultant suggested an induction on the Thursday or Friday that week. Although I knew this was always a possibility, I had convinced myself that everything would be fine so I sat in shock that I had gone from believing that our second baby would arrive in December to suddenly realising it would be at the start of November! We hadn’t organised anything for baba’s arrival. We franticly dug out our moses basket and some tiny baby clothes, attempting to get our heads around the change of plan. I was also torn as I wondered if he was on the small side but also healthy, as my daughter Penny had been a bit wee (6lb 3oz) when she arrived through spontaneous labour. I anxiously considered whether they should consider delaying an induction longer to see if the growth would pick up. The consultant felt that baba would cope better during labour at 36 weeks rather than delaying which would make labour harder on him if he remained small. We considered the information available about IUGR and we decided that it was best to go ahead with the induction.
Although it wasn’t the circumstances we had hoped for, we managed to make it a positive experience and I truly believe that that was due to using hypnobirthing. We spent our last morning with Penny taking her to the park and she chatted about baba as she pointed to my belly. She happily went off to her grandparents on the Thursday afternoon and we spent the rest of the day getting ready for hospital. It was a mixture of anxiety, excitement and disbelief knowing that our baby was going to be born the next day. We felt so emotional being away from our little girl too.
I had made a detailed birth plan for a home birth which I then had to adapt for a hospital birth. I had wanted to use the birthing pool however it was the hospital policy not to use the pool at 36 weeks due to monitoring the baby. So, no pool for me. I was disappointed but accepted that it wasn’t meant to be. We rocked up at 8am on Friday morning and were shown to our room. I’ll admit it didn’t fill me with joy as it was the opposite of what I had imagined but here we were and it was up to us to make it work for us. We went in armed with fake candles, my KG CD, affirmations, scripts to read and loads of food and entertainment. We hoped that it might be a quick labour and envisaged that we could be home complete with baba to watch the new series of Still Game that evening!! It quickly became obvious that this baby was in no hurry to come out to play!
My first internal examination was carried out… I wasn’t looking forward to this. I can’t imagine anyone jumps with joy at the prospect! I had hoped to avoid examinations so we discussed that they would only do them if necessary. The consultant had hoped to rupture the amniotic membrane to encourage labour but I was given gel to soften the cervix as there were no signs of it being ready. Skip forward 6 hours and numerous trips to the on-site café and all was quiet other than the odd gentle surge. The membranes were ruptured at this point…all remained relatively quiet. I tried using the birthing ball to get into a good upright position but my surges felt more powerful when I was semi-reclined on the bed. I was surprised at this but I went with what felt right for my body. I listened to the CD with Katherine’s voice many times over the day which felt familiar and comforting as we had listened to it every night for the past 6 weeks as we went to sleep. I focused on my “up” breathing and used visualisations to go with this whenever I felt a surge. I saw birds flying into the sky and the upward feeling of this worked for me! It felt manageable and I didn’t need any further pain relief. This contrasted with my previous labour as I had found the surges unmanageable quite quickly. I had panicked and didn’t know how to handle the sensation. Having a good understanding of what my body was doing made all the difference to psyche. I felt that oxytocin flow!
We watched Anchorman 2 to pass the time. (NB. I do not recommend a Will Ferrell comedy while midwives are coming in and out of the room! His use of language can be pretty embarrassing as I’m sure you can imagine if you have watched any of his films!!) We listened to a lot of 90’s radio. I felt really chilled listening to it. My favourite moment was breathing through a surge while “Creep” by Radiohead was playing and having a laugh with the midwife about our music choice. Ladies and gentlemen, this is how the Stranges do hypnobirthing!
Labour continued to progress very slowly and concerns were growing for baba’s ability to cope, so the syntocinon drip was introduced. Another intervention I had hoped to avoid. I entertained some gas and air during examinations as I found them particularly uncomfortable (although I did quite enjoy that drunk feeling accompanied by the giggles). However, I found that I managed the surges much better without it even when they were incredibly powerful when the hormone dosage was increased to its maximum. I continued throughout the night and into the wee hours of the morning, yet still baba Strange held off from gracing us with his presence.
A further examination at 8am showed that my cervix was 3cm dilated and the monitoring of baba indicated that he was becoming distressed which led to me being prepped for a caesarean section. The surges were almost continuous by this point and I suddenly felt the strong urge to push which I could not stop. I got pretty vocal at this point and I won’t go into my other bodily functions! In the short space of time from consenting to a caesarean to being introduced to around 40 members of staff (ok, that’s a slight exaggeration, it was right in the middle of the staff changeover but I was introduced to a lot of staff) and being given an epidural, the cervix was fully dilated. We were offered the chance to go back to the delivery ward to deliver without further assistance. We felt baba had had enough, we were both exhausted and didn’t want to risk him becoming distressed again and so he was delivered with “gentle forceps”. I use this term as the obstetrician said it was a “beautiful, gentle forceps delivery”. Everything was so clear this time, I felt in control and able to discuss my options with the obstetricians, I met so many faces in theatre and could talk clearly. I apologise to the nurse whose hand I crushed during a surge!
We had not known the sex of baba and it was a beautiful moment when little Louis was lifted up to greet us. We finally met our boy at 9.06am on the 5th of November 2016 weighing in at 5lb 5oz. A small boy but what he lacked in size he made up for in volume! A quiet boy he is not! We spent the rest of the day getting to know him and it was an unforgettable moment when he met his big sister that afternoon. She cuddled and kissed her “baba“ and has adored him ever since. He is a lucky boy having her to look out for him.
I am so grateful to have learned about hypnobirthing and experienced it during labour. I am certain that it made a huge difference to my state of mind and I managed the surges so effectively with the breathing techniques. Our society can be so negative towards labour, we hear that it will be frightening experience, it will hurt and it will be rather traumatic in some way. I have heard many negative birth stories (my own first experience included), that we have no control over our decisions and I hear the phrase “they don’t let you” a lot. I have been introduced to a world where it is a positive beautiful experience, women are educated about how to use the mind effectively in labour and to take control of their body. Using and adapting hypnobirthing to suit your own circumstances is empowering. We need more positivity in this world and I feel lucky to be a part of passing that knowledge onto other parents.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the midwifery team at NHS Forth Valley who I met both throughout my pregnancy and during labour. Thank you for always listening, taking the time to chat to me and helping me feel safe when I was at my most vulnerable. You guys are amazing. Also thank you to the obstetric team and theatre staff, I appreciated all you did for us.
Finally thank you to my rock Jim. You kept me sane, you came to endless antenatal appointments with me and you supported me all the way. You gave me encouragement when I introduced you to hypnobirthing and I am so glad that it helped you too as I know how worried you were first time round. We went into it this time with our eyes opened. Life now has never been busier, I’m knackered ALL the time but can’t think of a better reason to be than seeing our babies develop and grow into awesome wee people every day.