Julie's Hypnobirthing Experience
Julie is our Danish neighbour, who was preparing for her second birth earlier this year. I was happy that I could support her in her hypnobirthing preparation. Few weeks after her baby girl was born, we sat down in our garden to talk about it and to share this wonderful experience with you.
My Happy Birth: What has brought you to Hypnobirthing?
Julie: My friend has experienced a wonderful hypnobirth and she lent me her hypnobirthing book when I was pregnant with our first baby. I was amazed when I was reading about it and thought ''Wow, I want this too.'' So, I decided to try that because I was afraid that I would panic during the labour.
My Happy Birth: Why did you think you would panic?
Julie: I was scared that it will be so intense that I would not know what to do about it. I heard so many stories about women panicking in the labour. Then I came across a course, which was called ‘Birth without panic’. I took that together with my husband and it was actually a hypnobirthing course. It just gave me some tools what to do in that situation and I think that it is very important that you have something to focus on while you have the contractions. It helped me a lot.
My Happy Birth: So that was in the first pregnancy whilst living in Denmark. And the second time?
Julie: The second time, of course inspired by you and your positive story, I wanted to remind myself of the different techniques. I think this time it worked even better. It helped that I knew what to expect and how the contractions feel like. It was much easier to focus on breathing. I could still concentrate on relaxed and slow breath even when I was 8 cm dilated. It was intense and I was complaining, but at no point I felt out of control. I felt present and coping, counting during inhalation and exhalation. It was very intense experience, but hypnobirthing helped me a lot.
My Happy Birth: How much did you practice before the birth? Because I remember when you were still working you did not have much time for it and were kind of leaving it for the time off before the birth.
Julie: Yes, I had at least a month before. It is because you think that you have to do all this stuff, but you don’t really have to do a lot. You just have to choose what suits you. I listened to the hypnobirthing relaxation and it didn’t feel like hard work, it felt really nice. When I was pregnant it was lovely to relax in this way. Sometimes I would fall asleep during relaxations and that was alright too. And I was also of course practicing breathing but it did not feel like a hard work. It was something enjoyable I did for myself in pregnancy.
My Happy Birth: How was the birth experience for you?
Julie: I would not say I had a painless birth but I felt that I could deal with the pain and with the contractions. And during the first period of contractions I could really work with them. I was standing up, moving a little, breathing heavily, counting whilst breathing in 1,2,3,4, and out 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9. When I did that, it was totally fine, and I felt like I was in control.
My Happy Birth: What were the benefits of Hypnobirthing for you?
Julie: I benefited from it both in pregnancy and during the labour. In pregnancy, because especially as the first-time mum, you can hear lots of dramatic birth stories. It was important for me to do something about it, to prepare, to have a plan. And although you cannot know exactly what is going to happen, at least you have a plan and the knowledge. I think that this helps you to calm down much more.
It was very important to me during the labour that I practiced breathing and relaxations beforehand. It meant that during the contractions I could relax rather than being tense. I had the possibility to benefit from the break. And the midwives gave me a lot of praise for being relaxed.
My Happy Birth: Were you preparing together with your husband or on your own?
Julie: The first time we were preparing together. And the second time I prepared more on my own but he knew how hypnobirthing works so during the labour he helped me by counting my breath and to stay relaxed. He reminded me when I was fighting it rather than relaxing which helped a lot. Because the midwife might be busy doing other things. Or she might not know hypnobirthing at all. Exactly. It is good as well that he knows what is going on and is more involved. Birth can be very intense thing and if you are not used to it, you could be a bit scared. So, for many reasons it is great if the partner can be involved. So doing together was important for us.
My Happy Birth: Would you recommend hypnobirthing to other women and why?
Julie: Yes, definitely! I think you should always prepare for a birth. Although labour is natural thing and women have always done it, we live in modern society and not in stone age. We have different habits, we are not as much active, we sit much more, and we are perhaps a bit older than they were. So we need to be more prepared.
Hypnobirthing is a good way to learn what is happening during the birth, so you can go into to the birth like ‘OK, I cannot control this but at least I did something to make the process easier’. This gives you also the confidence. To have the tools during the birth is essential. You cannot promise women painless birth, but it could still be positive experience even though it is painful or tough. But you know what to do. And in the end your baby comes out in calm atmosphere.
My Happy Birth: Yes, that is what Hypnobirthing is about. It doesn’t promise painless birth but rather comfortable and confident birth.
Julie: Yes, and I think it is important not to confuse these two things. I think that the name HYPNOBIRTHING is not a good PR. Because you think you have to be hypnotised, but it has nothing to do with that. If it would be called differently, I would call it confident birthing to suggest you can actually do something.
Thank you very much Julie.