Guest blog post by Richard Pryn
My wife had always been scared of having a baby. So when she found out she was pregnant and asked if we could do a hypnobirthing course I said ‘cool’. I wanted to support her, plus I wasn’t the one who’d be pushing a human being out of my genitals…
I like to think I’m open-minded, but I wasn’t holding out much hope that I’d enjoy the classes or learn much – to me the ‘hypno’ bit sounded weird and suggested stage shows and pendulums.
Anyway, I was wrong (ssssh don’t tell my wife). The classes were fun, informative and completely worth it.
Within the first session I realised how wrong (again, ssh) my preconception of hypnosis was. It’s actually all about relaxation. Hypnosis is a state of trance we move in and out of each day, whether you’re day-dreaming, reading a book, or gazing at the fire (more here: why hypnosis is like daydreaming or having sex). When you’re deeply relaxed you’re more receptive to receiving ideas, which is why it’s a great way to treat phobias or change outdated beliefs – hypnobirthing changes the way you think about birth.
After the first session we started to feel more positive about childbirth. Over the following weeks, we were given ‘homework’ to practice relaxing and bonding with our baby. These techniques allowed us to become experts in relaxation, to feel excited and in control of the upcoming birth, and more surprisingly for me – I felt a stronger bond with the bump.
The amazing thing about the classes was that all the techniques we learnt can be used in everyday situations, particularly stressful ones, and I still use them! They are also great for those first few months after baby arrives. This was such an added bonus, as I kind of thought it would all be for Debs, but I actually benefitted from every class. Most importantly I felt like I wasn’t just the bringer of the sperm, but part of the whole pregnancy.
I feel I need to talk a little about the big day. It will be etched in my mind with such clarity for the rest of my life. During our classes we wrote out how we wanted the day to go in as much detail as possible, and wouldn’t you know it, the birth of our daughter went that way – it was as if we had scripted it.
The birth was INCREDIBLE, and even more incredible was how Debs handled it all, anyone would think that she was just doing a big poo. I was with her the whole time, supporting and guiding her, you could say I was a part-time midwife…, well, kind of. All the planning and preparation – from writing a birth plan and practicing quick ways to relax, to understanding the right questions to ask on the day and learning soothing strokes (gentle massage that creates endorphins) – made us both feel confident and in control of the whole experience.
Hypnobirthing allowed me to be a big part of the birth. Prior to the classes I was expecting to just be at Debs’ side saying ‘push’ and having my hand crushed. The reality was that I was a key part of the birth. I was there supporting Debs, keeping her calm and relaxed and acting as the point of contact for the midwives.
It has had such a positive impact on our lives, Debs now teaches hypnobirthing courses and introductory classes and it’s great hearing all the lovely birth stories and seeing how the classes can help anyone. And our little girl has always slept so well at night, and from 6 months was sleeping 12 hours a night, which I’m sure must be linked to all the relaxation we did in the evenings during the pregnancy.
I can’t begin to recommend this enough to other Dads and Dads-to-be. I feel like I should break it up into some bullet points (I would have liked to put it in a spreadsheet) to make it clear for you, if you’ve made it this far good job.
Here we go:
- I felt such a big part of the pregnancy
- I bonded with the bump so much more
- Me and my wife spent so much more time being and relaxing together with the bump
- It got me so excited about everything, not just seeing our child for the first time but everything leading up to it
- I was able to take charge during labour and get all protective
- I was given great tools for relaxing that I still use now, to deal with stress or to help me fall asleep
- I was an integral part of the birth
Another dad sums everything up really well in this video: the sceptical hypnobirthing dad
Whatever you decide to do is your choice and yours alone, but I am eternally grateful for the wonderful memories that hypnobirthing has given me. I can’t wait to use it all again, at some point, when we have another baby.
Richard Pryn is a composer for film and TV, he lives in Reading with his wife and baby.