Generally speaking, fear of the unknown is much worse than the unknown itself. That goes for most things; except for childbirth. Once you’ve birthed your first child, you know exactly what to expect the second time around and that fear is mostly definitely well founded.
I’ve briefly touched upon my birth with Nora in a previous post and I will get around to uploading my full birth story but here is a brief low down on how Nora Noodle entered the world. Without any kind of birth plan in place, I was induced at 41 weeks + 3 days pregnant. I had the full induction process including Prostin (synthetic prostaglandins), ARM (artificial rupture of membranes aka waters broken), Syntocin hormone drip and an epidural (a marvellous invention). Nora entered the world ten hours after the induction process began. My birthing experience was very straight forward and quick and this got me thinking (or maybe worrying) about birthing baby number two. Generally, second babies arrive earth side much faster than first babies which probably means I won’t have time for an epidural, yikes! With this in mind, I started to research some other techniques to help me cope with labour and delivery and that’s when I discovered Natal Hypnotherapy.
The ethos behind Natal Hypnotherapy is to be ‘more prepared and less scared of giving birth’. The added anxieties associated with the fear of giving birth can have a real negative effect on your body during pregnancy and labour. Apparently, by embarking on the Natal Hypnotherapy course you can reduce your level of pain experienced in labour through only natural methods – sounds too good to be true! The idea is you equip yourself with a set of tools and techniques which will allow you to prepare for the birth. These include relaxation, breathing, visualisation and pain management exercises. Clinical research has shown that hypnotherapy encourages shorter labour time, less medication, a better birthing environment for babies and also reduced incidents of post natal depression. Mums who have used the Natal Hypnotherapy techniques have also suggested that their calmer births encouraged better breastfeeding, a calmer baby and an overall more positive and confident birthing experience.
I decided to give the Hypnotherapy a chance and contacted the lovely Lynsey from Natal Hypnotherapy Middlesbrough who just also happens to be a wonderful midwife at our local hospital. We booked onto a full day Hypnotherapy session a couple of weekends ago and had a really great experience. You are encouraged to attend the course with your birthing partner so they have a greater understanding of the hypnotherapy experience and can aid you through the techniques during labour. I dragged a reluctant Ste along to the course at 27 weeks pregnant and despite the fact he had to sacrifice his Saturday morning lie in, he thoroughly enjoyed the day.
We arrived at the venue and were greeted by the lovely Lynsey with cup of tea and biscuits, bonus! There were four other couples attending the course that day which meant the group was small and not too intimidating. It’s recommended that in order to gain the most from your hypnotherapy that you start practising your techniques three times weekly from 32 weeks and then daily from 37 weeks. Despite this, the ladies in our group varied from 23 weeks pregnant, right up to 37 weeks.
Lynsey started by asking us to introduce ourselves to the group and we had a discussion about our fears and anxieties regarding childbirth and how we thought hypnotherapy might help us overcome them. We also chatted about what hypnotherapy is and how it works. Hypnotherapy is described as ‘an altered state of consciousness involving focused attention when you have an increased receptiveness to positive suggestion’. After these discussions we settled ourselves down on our yoga mats and pillows (don’t forget to bring one along) for our first taste of hypnosis. Lynsey played the relaxation music and proceeded to read a script which encourages relaxation and places a focus on breathing. I must admit, it took me a while to allow myself to relax enough to be receptive to the idea. I’m the kind of person who always has a million and one things running through my mind and my mind often wanders even though I’m supposed to be switching off. We were asked by Lynsey to imagine a place where we would feel relaxed and safe, like a beautiful sandy beach where we could imagine the sea and sun. Once I allowed myself to really imagine and settle into the deep breathing I found myself drifting off. Once the first hypnosis was over, Lynsey asked us how long we thought we had been laid down for. I honestly thought around 4-5 minutes, it turned out the session lasted fourteen minutes! We had clearly entered another state of consciousness without even realising. Through the day we practiced hypnosis twice more. By the third session I had no recollection of anything Lynsey had been speaking of and when she asked us to bring ourselves back into the room I genuinely did not know where my mind had been. I had allowed myself to relax deeply and absorb all of the positive suggestions about childbirth from Lynsey. The more I practice this, the more accepting my subconscious will be to the suggestions and eventually my mind will accept them as fact. This hopefully means that with a lot of practise, I should be able to reach a deep state of relaxation (or at least stay a little calmer!) during labour, theoretically allowing me to cope with the pain a little better.
So that was our hypnotherapy day experience. We are now regularly listening to the tracks which are included in the course fee along with a birth preparation book. I will of course be updating you all on how our actual birth pans out and will definitely let you know how and if hypnotherapy works for me. We both came away from the day feeling so much more positive about the prospect of giving birth; the laid back atmosphere of the day was super stress free.
If anyone in the Teesside area is interested in booking a Natal Hypnotherapy course which costs £95 for the session inclusive of your tracks and handbook, you can contact Lynsey either via her UIB Facebook Page or you can drop her an email. I know a couple of my fellow pregnant buddies have already booked onto the course! Do let me know if anyone else signs up, I’d love to hear what you made of the day!