I’m not far from my midwife/antenatal appointment where I have to go through the dreaded birth plan. When I say ‘dreaded’ I don’t mean having a birth plan is a negative thing or something we should fear, but as a first-time Mum and someone who gets easily overwhelmed, the idea of having to discuss birth to that length and make big decisions is not something I’ve been looking forward to. However, over the past couple weeks I’ve started to look forward to it and that’s all thanks to hypnobirthing.
I’ve no idea what kind of birth I’ll end up having – who does? However, I do know that however I end up giving birth, whether it’s aligned with or the complete opposite of my original birth plan, hypnobirthing is a toolkit I want to remain with me all the way.
There are various hypnobirthing courses available to book on to in person or online, and unfortunately, most are private as not many NHS midwives offer this as standard, but are still able to support it throughout your labour and birth. However, for me I didn’t want to book any courses. Instead, I’ve focused on doing some reading and then from there being hands on with my husband (my birth partner) to put everything into practice.
Why do I want hypnobirthing as part of my birth plan?
Earlier this year I suffered several panic attacks and I learned various techniques to help me overcome my anxiety from there on, as well as manage it whenever I’d feel myself losing control again. Knowing I am mentally strong enough to get through that, I know I have the right mindset to make the most of hypnobirthing and benefit from it too. Many things I’ve learned from my reading to date, which I’ll get on to, I’ve already practised and benefited from when having a bad anxiety day before I was even pregnant.
Now, I’m not naive, I’m more than aware that suffering from anxiety and panic attacks is not the same as giving birth, but that’s not to say one is easier than the other. Some women may say that the physical symptoms of panic attacks are far more challenging to overcome than giving birth, and maybe that’s because giving birth seems like a far more natural thing to experience than a panic attack. Others may say the opposite. For me, I know with my current mindset about labour and birth that hypnobirthing is the right path for me.
Will I use hypnobirthing as a replacement for pain relief?
No. I haven’t specified that I want a specific pain relief from the moment I’m in established labour, but I know I’d like to see how far I can go with focusing purely on my hypnobirthing toolkit, with the support of the midwives and my husband, before feeling the need to explore any major forms pain relief like an epidural. There’s pros and cons to that: pros being that I get to utilise what I’ve practised and progress through my labour the way I vision I’m capable of. The cons however, are that if I felt I needed pain relief other than gas and air, I may have reached a point where it’s too late in labour to do so. From there, I’ll have to put all my trust in my mental strength to get me through the rest of labour – easy to say “I’ll be fine” at this stage.
What has IT taught me?
I haven’t gone to town to learn about this, such as signing on to weekly courses, seeing a qualified hypnotherapist etc. Instead, I’ve simply read one book all about the method, done some further light reading online, and followed The Positive Birthing Company on Instagram to fill my feed with positive birth stories and videos. But just from this light bit of education, hypnobirthing has taught me so much already. More importantly, it’s shifted my mindset from being scared and anxious of birth, to now being excited and more in-the-know of what our bodies do during each stage of labour so I know what to expect.
I used to be petrified that birth was going to be the most excruciatingly painful experience, because that’s what you hear from others and see on TV. And don’t get me wrong, I may feel that way during it as I have no idea how I’ll cope afterall. But reading Siobhan’s book, I’ve learned what our bodies are doing as each surge (contraction) comes on and what breathing exercises, as well as other techniques, can help you relax through each surge.
It’s taught me that relaxation really is key, and it makes sense. The more you tense during a surge, the less relaxed your body is and therefore you’re likely to feel more pain because of that. So by deploying various relaxation techniques to calm you throughout each surge, your body is less tense and the pain may be more manageable. So here’s hoping that it feels that way when it comes to the big day.
Have you tried hypnobirthing? What was your experience like?