My Journey to Hypnobirthing
I would like to start my blog by telling you my story. How I experienced empowering and painless birth thanks to hypnobirthing.
Starting from zero
I first became pregnant more than four years ago and I didn't know much about birth. The only thing I was sure about was that I trust my body and I want to have as natural labour as possible.
My subsequent experience has been an empowering and transforming journey that I would like to share with you.
I soon realised that pregnancy is a combination of immense excitement and the fear of the unknown. There are so many new questions like how to choose the right hospital, where to find a supportive midwife, whether I need to register somewhere... The list is seemingly endless.
As I started researching more about pregnancy and birth the more I realised that women are constantly confronted with images and information about painful births and need for medical intervention. You immediately conclude that birth is an experience of outrageous pain that a woman simply has to deal with.
With all that in mind I was still committed to a natural birth and we have decided for a birth centre, which was in fact a floor within the St. Sophia hospital. This was the best option for us as the labour could be natural, just with a midwife but with the reassurance that the doctors were there and I could be in the theatre within minutes. I can remember thinking how important the feeling of reassurance was at that stage.
My first birth
It all started off well. The contractions came, grew in intensity, everything was as I expected. I spoke to my midwife and we agreed that at that stage there was no need for me to come to the hospital. When the time came, after ten hours, I had to swap the calm environment of my home to the perceived safety of the hospital.
This coincided with very busy time. Corridors full of people and I experienced my contractions slowed down and become much more painful. I was having to communicate with the reception in Polish, have an examination and connect to the monitors. It seemed endless but after an hour I was finally approved to go to the birth centre.
At that point the contractions were so painful that I could hardly find a way how to handle them.
The pushing phase was so painful I would have done anything to end it. I could not bear the extreme pain any more. I wanted to go home. I wanted to die. Anything but this. I was sure I could not cope for one more contraction. If somebody would have offered me some pain relief I would have accepted it, forgetting my natural birth plan or the risks involved with such medication.
Fortunately our midwife was incredibly kind, patient and supportive. I am very thankful to her that she stayed so calm and kept encouraging me that I could actually do it. Two more endless hours of pushing.
And then our baby girl was born. So quiet and peaceful. We were looking at her in disbelief that this beautiful little person is actually our daughter. Olivia Grace.
In search for a painfree birth
Nearly two years later I was pregnant with our second baby. I knew I want to do it differently. I could not bear such pain again.
I had heard a lot of positive things about hypnobirthing but didn't feel the need to try it during the first pregnancy. There were no classes in Warsaw so I started by reading the book. Then I bought online relaxations and visualisations. I found myself practicing them several times a week and it would quite often put me to sleep (which I learned later that is very good sign).
This became a very important part of my labour preparations as I was becoming more and more confident.
I believed that my body was designed to give birth, that I can trust my body and my baby. I can remember feeling that I was more connected with my baby.
Hypnobirthing places a significant focus on working with your fears. I was learning to leave them behind and move forwards using visualisations and affirmations. They are simple techniques but incredibly effective.
I also found a benefit of hypnobirthing to be a greater understanding of the importance of physical fitness during pregnancy. It was not all hard work, I really enjoyed practising rebozo with my amazing doula, Julita.
The home birth decision
Hypnobirthing is not directly connected to a place of birth. However for me personally I wanted to eliminate the amount of stress and disturbance during the birth. I understood that the right level of hormones during the birth is essential for a smooth delivery.
My husband and I started to talk about a home birth, discussing it with our midwife Eliza and going through plans A, B and C. We ultimately decided on a home birth after taking into account many things, which I will cover in my future blog.
My second birth
The labour started around three in the morning and my midwife Eliza was finishing work after another home birth but came straight to our house. I made a bed for her and, just as I was preparing her breakfast, our daughter woke up. I tried to put her back to sleep but she must have felt something is different that day. We played together whilst Eliza went to bed after a busy night and the first really strong contraction came at around 7 a.m. I could not focus on my daughter anymore. The contraction was so strong and painful. Oh no. Not again.
I woke my husband so he could look after Olivia and prepared all the things for the labour. Bowl for placenta, towels, clothes for our newborn, hypnobirhting relaxations, homeopathy drink, aromatherapy and when it was all ready, I got into the bath.
When another strong surge came, I used the visualisations, calmed and softened my breath, relaxed my body and started listening to the hypnobirthing relaxations. The surge was getting stronger and stronger then weaker and weaker and it was gone. I opened my eyes and could not believe it. There was no pain. Not at all. Then another one and another one but still no pain.
After an hour of these painless surges, I felt my body pushing. I was amazed that I am so far already. How could it be so smooth and easy?
Our doula was on the way but stuck in traffic, Eliza asleep, my husband playing with our daughter and here I was in the attic already pushing.
Fortunately Julita soon arrived and woke Eliza when she saw how the labour was advancing. She examined me before calling for the second midwife (it is the home birth standard to have two midwives - if something would go wrong one would assist the baby, the other the mother).
After another 30-40 minutes I could feel the head getting slowly through. And the feeling of touching the little head with lots of hair was so encouraging. This phase was incredibly intense. My body pushing strongly and me just trying to relax and let the body work. I pushed probably three times because the sensation was so strong.
I thought that the 'I want to die moment' will come soon but instead of that I was holding our baby in my arms. I could not believe that it was so easy.
Julita went to get my husband and daughter so they could meet our little baby and welcome her into our family. We had a look together whether it is girl or boy and then named her Vivienne Rose. Olivia was amazed seeing such a little baby, she was counting her arms, touching her hair, sniffing around her.
So these are the birth stories of our daughters. Both labours were absolutely natural, without using any medications or medical instruments, both were assisted by the same midwife. I am sure that the labour was also easier because it was my second one but it would not have been so smooth and (for the majority of it) absolutely painless without hypnobirthing. All those relaxations, visualisations and affirmations were stored in me and I could call on them when I needed to.
The difference of how my body reacted was enormous. After such an empowering experience I decided to became hypnobirthing teacher so I could support other women on their birth journey.