Hypno-birthing didn’t just change everything for us as a couple, it changed everything for me when it came to being a birth partner. I think that’s really worth stressing because the impact on the partner isn’t something that I read a lot about when I was doing my research into hypno-birthing.
But for me it really did change everything because I could see what my role was. I felt like I knew a lot more about what to do on the day that my wife Lisa gave birth, which essentially boiled down to making sure she was able to stay in a zone where she was calm and happy and in the moment. Hypno-birthing gave me a focus and much more involvement and information than I would otherwise have had. I’ll expand on that later, first though a bit of background on our pregnancy. We were first time parents and we went to Kat’s course open-minded about whether it could offer any benefits.
Before conceiving I think we had sub-consciously absorbed the rule that giving birth means hospital and that the best-case scenario was that it was quick and as pain free/drug filled as possible. Once we knew we were going to actually become parents we started to do some research but we definitely didn’t go to Kat’s course thinking we’d go onto do what we did, which is have our son on the settee.
I know some people have problems with the name hypno-birthing because it all sounds a bit hippy-dippy and like there might be some chanting involved.
As soon as I went on the course I thought it was obvious what it’s really about. The mantras you are encouraged to use work in the same way as any form of visualisation practise. Every-time you say “my body is designed to do this, every surge is bringing my baby closer to me” it’s exactly the same process as a footballer imagining himself hitting a free kick into the top corner or a public speaker preparing to stand up in front of an audience.
If you do the course you’ll learn about the science behind hypno-birthing but what learning about the impact of oxytocin on adrenaline meant for me was that it made clear what I had to do when she said her waters had broken. My wife can’t multi-task, hates answering lots of questions at once and likes being able to just get on with things. I knew that if she was able to get into a zone where she was calm and didn’t feel like she had to do anything other than just let the birth happen that she’d be okay. So that meant in the run up I concentrated on making sure that I had my own check-list of things to do. I made sure we had snacks, drinks, music, candles – everything I could to create a bubble that was as chilled as possible.
And on the day I ended up feeling like my job was to be the person who made sure everyone stayed relaxed, not just my wife but also the two midwives that were with us throughout the birth. They were going to get knackered and hungry and thirsty and not know where anything was in the house so I made sure they were happy.
Ultimately you can’t control every element of your birth, luck comes into every element of life I suppose, but the prep we did with hypno-birthing meant that we went into the day feeling prepared and I definitely felt like I had a clear idea of what I needed to do.
Looking back we did make a mistake during the day. The birth was going incredibly smoothly until we started filling the bath with my wife in the room – running out of hot water did nothing to help keep her in the zone, she suddenly wanted to help fix the problem – but tensions didn’t rise and so when things were taking a bit longer to progress than normal we were okay. I think that had I not known the importance of maintaining the atmosphere I would have been much more needy and questioning, which would have been well intentioned but counter productive.
In the end my son did take longer to get through the final phase of the delivery – partly because Lisa is a life long vegetarian so she had no idea what they were talking about when they said she needed to push like she was constipated – but she had the reserves to push because she hadn’t wasted a lot of energy wondering if it was going to hurt, or why it wasn’t happening or why I wouldn’t shut up.
We genuinely had a lovely day during our birth and that was because we felt in control and ready in a way we never would have done if we’d not embraced hypno-birthing and gone into it thinking “we can do this and this is the plan”. You do need to work at it – it’s not enough to just read the book, you literally need to give your birth some thought – but for us giving birth was genuinely a day that wasn’t just great because we had our lovely son, it was also a really interesting experience to go through that even contained some proper laughs. And I think that if you spend your day feeling like you can have a giggle when you’re having a baby then you’re probably doing okay…