Hypnobirthing could possibly benefit from a rebrand as it seems to have the faint whiff of patchouli for some, but I have totally drunk the Kool-Aid on this, hypnobirthing works and there's no two ways about it. To the uninitiated it is basically mind training, with a fat dollop of breathing techniques thrown in to help you help your body. I mean, yeah, I am part of the London Hypnobirthing team so a bit of love for it might be expected, but for me this is the foundation of any 'training programme' for childbirth.
It's not just for those who want a natural birth. Just because you sign up for a hypnobirthing course, it doesn't mean you have to sign away the option of pain relief, or will end up feeling like less of a mother because you have an elective caesarean. Whether you think you want to give birth in your front room, or with all the medical help known to man, hypnobirthing offers a lot of incredible benefits.
1 - the relaxation techniques that you learn, and have to practice daily, will help those last weeks of pregnancy pass more comfortably and easily. There's a deep relaxation mp3 that we used to listen to at bedtime that would send us both to sleep in minutes. I think I heard the last 20 minutes twice in two months. Which meant that I actually managed to sleep during labour as I was so deeply relaxed and my body was used to going to sleep when I heard the mp3 start.
2 - the power of breath, and understanding how to use it properly, can transform your labour. Honestly. I really wasn't sure I had much of an ability to cope with pain, and if you ever see anyone give birth on the telly you kind of get the idea that walking over hot coals would be more manageable. But they lie!! Breathing well will help bring oxygen to the muscles that are working their hardest to help your baby make its way down the birth canal and into this world and you have the power to help yourself on this one. Not only that but it transforms the pain from something you have to suffer through, to something dynamic that is helping you achieve your goal. You just have to take one breath. Then the next. And the next.
3 - your birth partner learns how to practically help you during the hours of labour and in the first hours after childbirth. There are a million ways that someone you love and trust can irritate you to the point of murder when you are in the throes of trying to push a new life out into the world, but if they take their homework seriously they are less likely to make you hate them temporarily.
4 - this course did more to engage my husband in what was happening than anything else we did. From being determined I should give birth in hospital with a doctor on hand to actually considering homebirth as one of our options was a mark of how the course helped him address the fears he had around it all, as well as educate him on what it was I was going to have to try and do. Sometimes you can feel like you are the only one thinking about what happens next, ie getting that great big lump of baby out, so this is very cheering. And uniting.
5 - the positive affirmations that you post around the house are colourful and friendly and help you feel quite celebratory about what is going to happen, as opposed to raddled with fear of the unknown.
6 - birth plans are an act of hope. We all have ideas about how we would like labour to unfold, or how our babies are born and we should do everything we can to enable that but sometimes nature has other ideas. The techniques you learn in hypnobirthing can help you stay calm enough to adapt to the turns your labour may take. After all, what counts is that you take a baby home, right?
After the hypnobirthing course with Hollie de Cruz, I truly started to embrace the possibility that I could actually, potentially, possibly enjoy labour. Scrub that, I bloody well knew I could. You know what? I did. The meaning of the word 'enjoy' took on new nuances, but yes, enjoy it I did.
Up next? I got physical. Like my facebook page here if you want to know when the post goes live.
'I am not a marathon runner, just to be clear about my physical abilities from the get go. Stamina, endurance, commitment and physical pain haven't traditionally held much attraction for me to be honest, so you can imagine how much I was looking forward to giving birth. Yes, that much. I mean I knew I could use acupuncture and acupressure in labour to help, but still, my feelings about childbirth were similar to those about running a long distance race where you take your poos by the roadside. Really not my bag. I didn't have much faith in my body, or my own ability to deal with physical pain and I really, really didn't want to have to poo in front of people.
But here's the thing; when I thought about it I realised that I wanted to enjoy it. It took so much effort, and so many years, to get pregnant that I kind of wanted to make the most of my one shot at labour. You know, become one of those women who smile serenely while popping out a ten pounder. So I decided I needed to start training. And as a member of the London Hypnobirthing team, I started by picking the brains of my inspiring colleagues about what I needed to do.
Now it's not often you get the chance to test drive your colleagues, and its a huge relief (though really I was in no doubt) that they did indeed take me over the finish line, euphoric and triumphant. So if you have never given birth, or are determined to do it differently the next time, and would like some first hand insight into the different ways you can think about training for labour, I'm your gal.
Personally I can't stand really long blog posts (and I haven't got time to write them) so I will be rolling out my 'training programme' over the next few posts, rather than bore on here.
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