10th January 2012, I was about two weeks pregnant. I was terrified. I didn’t need the first pregnancy test to confirm it, or the second or the third, I felt it all week. I just knew. I had been married for four years, we had our own house, secure jobs and I had run out of reasons for why we should hold off starting a family of our own. The only reason was fear. I had always wanted children, but I was terrified of being pregnant and the idea of giving birth was simply horrifying to me. Oh if only the whole stork story was true!
I was shocked that I had got pregnant so quickly. I honestly assumed it would not happen for me. Clearly my body was ready for pregnancy but my mind was not ready at all. I started to think there was something seriously wrong with me; so many women would be thrilled to be pregnant so quickly. After the final confirmation of the pregnancy from my GP, I eventually told my husband who was naturally delighted with the news (but a little confused why it took me nearly a week to tell him).
As the weeks went by, I tried to settle down and enjoy being pregnant. I really wanted to embrace pregnancy and celebrate the life growing inside of me, but I was wreck. I feared the impending blood tests and examinations that might be required throughout the pregnancy (I am or should I say, I was the type of person, who would faint just visiting someone in hospital). I broke out in a cold sweat anytime anyone tried to talk about their own birthing experience – they were rarely positive experiences and I didn’t want to hear it. The only birth stories, I had heard about and was hearing about, were traumatic, difficult and painful. The images I had associated with labour and birth were those of a woman screaming in pain and agony, on the verge of breaking her husband’s hand. Not exactly something I was in a hurry to experience.
I worried about everything. Everything from what type of cosmetics were safe to use, and what food I should eat or not eat, what types of exercise I should do or avoid. I counted down the days to the first scan; I couldn’t wait to hear that the baby was alright and to see him or her for the first time. I was thrilled to see everything looked normal and perfect – two little legs, two little arms, a normal spine, a healthy heart. Having the scan, brought a little comfort for a while, the baby was perfect, I was doing ok as a mom so far. I bawled my eyes out with happiness and most of all relief. Most of the couples in the waiting area, gave me sympathetic looks as I walked out- they assumed I had just received terrible news! While I was relieved, at the same time, I felt even more overwhelmed by the responsibly of growing a little tiny human and my anxieties grew. Was there any pleasing me?!
In the second trimester when most mums to be might start checking off the shopping lists for the baby equipment and accessories, I refused to go shopping for cots and travel systems, and would rush past the baby section in Debenhams. I only thought about the dreaded labour day more and more. I now wanted to know what all of my options were and researched everything, which may seem surprising, but I actually wanted to know everything. I still didn’t want to hear anyone else story I just wanted to know facts. All the details. It was as if I was studying for a midwifery degree. I had no idea how I was going to get through labour but I knew, I couldn’t possibly have a needle in my spine and couldn’t handle the idea of not being in control, not being able to move during labour and not being able to feel. It just didn’t seem right to me. I certainly didn’t want any medication that might put my baby at risk. But did that mean I wanted a natural birth? How was I supposed to do that, if I was terrified of everything?!
My brother in law and his wife were expecting their first baby two months before me. When their baby girl arrived in July, I went to visit them at the hospital with anticipation; I was going to be next. The visit to see the new baby and new mom was not what I had expected at all. First of all, I did not faint (that was a first!). Secondly, the new mom bounced out of the bed when we arrived and looked completely relaxed and refreshed, even though she had just given birth a few hours beforehand. We had heard that they had taken Hypnobirthing classes and that mom was going to just “breath” the baby out, but I had no idea what it was all about and was completely sceptical. I thought, well if it was that easy then why doesn’t everyone do it?! Nonetheless, it was clear to me that these classes had made a big difference to her birthing experience and I needed to find out more. So I started my research. More research!
After reading just a few pages of HypnoBirthing, The Mongan Method book, I had my light bulb moment. It all made perfect sense. The philosophy was simple. Birth is normal and natural. Of course it is! My body was perfectly designed to carry a healthy baby and it was perfectly designed to give birth comfortably. More importantly, only then did I realise, everything that I had feared about birth, had nothing to do with a natural birth. My fears were actually everything associated with a medicalised birth. So there was another way to birth, a better way, a calmer way.
I became the best HypnoBirthing student. Now that I knew, HypnoBirthing was the only option for me, I was determined and dedicated. I started listening to the rainbow relaxation music every evening, I practically ate the book and very quickly, I could feel the changes within me. I started to relax and enjoy every kick that the baby made. I finally started to prepare for my baby’s arrival. This preparation not only took the form of finally buying travel systems and car seats (to the delight of my excited husband) but by preparing my mind and body for the birth. I practised my breathing and visualisation techniques every morning and evening while listening to my relaxation music. My fears were slowly ebbing away day by day. I was finally enjoying my pregnancy. I was even excited. Excited about labour, can you imagine?!
My husband and I learned so many amazing tools that opened the lines of communication between us, so that we both knew and understood what we both wanted on our baby’s birthing day. We felt empowered and prepared to deal with any twists and turns that the pregnancy may have taken. We had confidence that we would be able to make clear decisions when needed because we would not be consumed with irrational fear. We were completely prepared with techniques to guide us in having a comfortable birth.
While I had a long labour, I stayed calm and in control throughout, and at 11.30pm on 20th September 2012, I gave birth to my beautiful baby girl, Isabelle. I went on to have two more gorgeous HypnoBirthing births, Alisha age 3 going on 13 and a little boy Casey, who just turned 1, last December.
HypnoBirthing allowed me to have a pregnancy that I actually enjoyed (eventually) and absolutely allowed me to have a calm and comfortable birth that I didn’t know was possible. I know for sure that I would not have had the same experience without the HypnoBirthing programme. Looking back, it seems to me, that I instinctively wanted a natural birth but did not know how, because my thoughts and perception of birth were blurred by everyone else’s birth stories and what I had heard from family and friends, as well as, every movie involving a woman in labour that I had ever seen.
But what made me so different to all the other women that I know who had difficult birthing experiences? Why did I have the joy of a beautiful birth and theirs were filled with trauma? Well, with the help of the HypnoBirthing programme, I was able to let go of all the negativity that I felt and thought about birth, and focused on my own journey. Essential, I was “dehypnotised”. When I was free of fear, I allowed myself to embrace birth and work with my body and my baby. As, Marie Mongan, put it so eloquently in HypnoBirthing, The Mongan Method, “when you change the way you view birth, the way you birth will change.”
So maybe your fear isn’t as great or crazy as mine was, but if it helped me so much, imagine how it could impact your birthing experience. Every woman should have a calm, empowering birthing experience. So what do you think? Are you ready to change the way you view birth?