Guest blog post from Donna and Jack Clayson. I love how this story is written by mum and dad, giving two different perspectives and showing how much the Wise Hippo Hypnobirthing techniques help mum and birth partner
First time round
Donna: I had heard about hypnobirthing during my first pregnancy but having already signed up for the NCT, I didn’t consider it would be useful on top. To be honest, I thought it was a bit ‘out there’!
So, feeling ready to give birth (although anxious) we started using the few techniques we had been taught. Well, after 36 hours of intense surges, a drop in heart rate, 3 doses of diamorphine, a near epidural until the anaesthetist got called away for an emergency caesarean, and close monitoring I gave birth to my wonderful boy, Frank.
However, having struggled through the extreme discomfort of this birth I really didn’t want to endure it again. I remember saying we were going to get a dog instead of having another baby!
Pregnant for the second time
Fast forward 13 months, and we were expecting baby number 2. From the start I said I would be having an epidural as I didn’t want to feel anything this time. But I started to hear more about hypnobirthing, and some really positive stories from friends. Again, I dismissed it as a bit over the top however as D-day approached I knew I needed something to help me through.
A friend recommended Boldly Glow Birthing so I contacted Deborah at 32 weeks pregnant. She let me know about one of her coffee mornings so I went along and was inspired by some of the ladies and their positive birth stories, so we signed up.
We loved having our classes in the relaxing garden studio each Saturday. Deborah was amazing!
Our birth story
So having written our predicted birth story, we were expecting our little one to arrive on the 19th March; 1 day before my due date. However the weekend before this I felt that it would be sooner. On the 15th March, I packed my boy Frank off to toddler group with Granny and started to tidy up. I headed to the toilet and noticed a show, so thought baby maybe on its way. Once Frank was home, we went to my Mum and Dad’s for the afternoon for Franks nap. Whilst there, I felt a few twinges, about every 20 minutes. So I thought we might be starting.
Once Frank was awake, I headed home. As the afternoon progressed, my surges started to kick in and were coming every 10 minutes. I used my surge breaths to stay in control, and continued with getting dinner ready and then reading to Frank. He got a little frustrated when I stopped reading and started doing my surge breaths, so my husband Jack had to start reading at those points much to Frank’s annoyance!
We bathed Frank and put him to bed as normal, just like we had written in our birth story. Once he was asleep, I climbed into the bath to relax as much as possible. Jack applied soothing strokes, used the birth partner phrases (‘shoulders limp, arms loose’) and we listened to the wise hippo hypnobirthing instrumental. I didn’t stay in the bath long as the surges were becoming very uncomfortable (every 3 minutes but only 30 seconds long) and I needed to move position. So we headed to bed, thinking we had a long night ahead of us after our previous experience, and tried to get some rest.
We were in bed at 9pm where I continued to listen to my relax with nature mp3, and the surges eased off to about every 10 minutes. However, when they came they came strong. At 10pm I needed to get up and move around so headed downstairs. At this point the surges shifted up a gear and went to every 2 minutes, with one surge followed by another immediately afterwards. At this point I clearly said that I didn’t think it was working and that I couldn’t do it any more – a classic sign of established labour – so Jack started to light candles and put on ‘relax with nature’ to relax us (We laugh about this in hindsight as I was clearly ready to get to hospital).
At this point it gets a bit blurry for me so I will let Jack take over…
A Dad’s birth story
Jack: When it dawned on us that it was actually happening I called the midwife triage line who asked to speak to Donna, Donna couldn’t talk so handed the phone back to me, and the midwife said we needed to get to the hospital immediately!
For some reason Donna wanted to get changed from her night clothes into her labour gear so clambered upstairs to the bathroom, when I arrived upstairs to join her she was sat on the toilet unable to move as ‘the baby was coming’.
I called the midwife who advised to call an ambulance immediately which I did. After a tense conversation with the operator involving ensuring that Donna was lying on her side and not sat on the toilet the paramedics turned up followed shortly by my mum whom I had called earlier (to look after Frank).
I politely asked the paramedics to keep the noise down as Frank was asleep; they said they would try their best. Donna valiantly refused the pain relief offered by the paramedics as she was in the ‘hippo zone’. When it was clear that no midwife was available to come to our house we decided to get in the ambulance and head to hospital. Donna refused shoes. I followed in the car and we met up at the Rushey ward at 11.45 where we were invited by the midwife Nikki (whom we had met during Frank’s birth) to go into the Autumn room. Thankfully Nikki was ‘Hippo friendly’. I handed her the birth plan that Deborah had helped us make and explained that Donna would prefer not to be offered pain relief. She said that she wouldn’t say a word.
A beautiful and natural second birth
We danced, we swayed, we breathed and we stroked soothingly. Nikki kept asking me to check the time and our second son Stanley was born at 14 minutes past midnight, half an hour after entering the ward. Nikki handed Stanley to Donna as soon as he emerged and we all had a cuddle, the wise hippo instrumental still playing in the background. I was astounded at how quick it was compared to the first time and how amazingly Donna dealt with the experience.
It sounds like a huge plug – because it is – but we would recommend the Wise Hippo birthing programme to anyone seeking to have control over their labour and birth. The techniques we learnt were invaluable not to mention the opportunity to spend a couple of hours together every week without any distractions with the space to focus entirely on relaxation and the new baby.