My first pregnancy just kind of ticked by. I went to appointments but never really felt attached to baby or excited about things. I did what the midwives said and took on board their advice. I attended antenatal classes where I learnt about birth and available interventions. I went over my due date by 13 days when midwives were calling me to have a sweep and book an induction; I stopped answering their calls. After a labour that lasted 38 hours I was taken to theatre having had a spinal block and prepared for a C-section. They managed to deliver my baby girl in theatre vaginally. Only latter I learned that they had used episiotomy and forceps. The whole ordeal left me scared of birth and I suffered with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I also believe I had a post natal depression, however it was never diagnosed or treated.
Eight years later I was unexpectedly pregnant with my second. I considered an elective C-section to avoid the trauma of last time, however a friend introduced me to hypnobirthing and suggested hiring a doula. I did a hypnobirthing course which taught me to be in control of my situation and trust the natural process of childbirth and decided to plan a homebirth.
My second baby girl was born in water in the kitchen of my mums house where we were living at the time. I was so calm and relaxed that my doula, mum and husband weren’t aware that I had progressed so far in labour.
We hadn’t notified the midwives to attend. My mum called them when I announced that I could feel baby’s head! It was a big shock for all of us but I was completely in control and calm throughout the whole experience.
The polar differences of my experiences has lead me to want to share with other women and their birth partners the positive effects that birth hypnosis can bring.
I became pregnant third time and planned to have a homebirth again. My waters went at 4am. I texted my mum and doula to give them the heads up but went back to bed and slept with my toddler until 7am when we woke up together. I told hubby I was phoning the midwife and she and her colleague came out around 9.30am to check me over. I was having mild surges every 30 minutes. My doula arrived and so did my mum.
Then the surges completely went away. The invasion of my safe space and previous less-than-perfect first birth meant my subconscious mind perceived a threat. I knew I had to overcome this.
I went to my bedroom and closed the curtains. I played Cove of Confidence Wise Hippo hypnobirthing track to help me relax and concentrate on the progress of my labour. I slept for around 30 minutes. Surges began coming again, they were around 15 minutes apart.
Midwife called again and mentioned that if baby wasn’t born within 24 hours they’d recommend transfer and induction of labour. I spoke to my husband about it and he was annoyed as he knew this was slowing things down. Sure enough my surges petered off again.
At 3pm my toddler was asleep and my mum, eldest daughter and doula decided to go out for a bit to give me some space. Within an hour my husband and I and talked and surges were coming every 8 minutes. They were getting stronger. I called my doula to make sure she came back in time. I breathed through the waves until they were coming one after another. I paced the hall through each wave until they became too intense. I suggested to hubby to call the midwife but he said it wasn’t the right time and I told him I was leaving this decision to him. I got into the pool when I couldn’t walk any more and my thighs were on fire from power walking our short hallway! As soon as I got into the pool I instantly relaxed and had a few moments of rest. At some point after I got into the pool my husband called the midwife. I asked him to play the birth affirmations and narrator’s voice helped me to focus and stay on track.
The next few surges were very intense and took a different direction to the first set. I felt a head crowning and within two surges her head was born.
I felt the flutter of her legs kicking within me as she wriggled downwards. I don’t remember her shoulders coming through and a final much gentler surge felt her body wriggled out. I caught her and pulled her gently to the surface of the water. She was fast asleep! Within 2-3 minutes her eyes began to flicker and she opened her eyes and looked directly at me.
I was overcome with emotion and was in utter disbelief that in my second homebirth my third baby has been born so perfectly! The midwife arrived around 15 minutes after she was born. We spent some time in the pool before clamping and cutting the cord. My husband then took the baby to bond with her while I delivered the placenta. This took around 45 minutes and in one surge it was out. I had a small tear, which the midwife wanted to stitch, I chose not to as it was a small, clean tear. It has healed up well and isn’t sore.
Victoria is a mum to three beautiful girls aged 11, 3 and 10 months (youngest born in August 2017). They live in rural South West Wales. She has had three very different experiences of pregnancy, birth and postnatally. Her eldest daughter was born in hospital in theatre, avoiding an emergency c-section and her second and third were born at home in water without midwives present. She now values the importance of antenatal and positive birth education which is why she has trained as an antenatal educator and birth hypnosis instructor.