Me and my daughter after our water birth

Me and my Wise Hippo baby soon after birth

My water birth, home birth and hypnobirth

I first heard about hyypnobirthing from my husband’s aunt. She’s a GP and discovered hypnobirthing during her second pregnancy. She’d had a long and difficult first labour, but because of her job, she’d spoken to many mums who’d had good birth experiences. Their tales made her wonder why (when there are no medical complications), childbirth can be such a mixed bag for so many women. One of her patients had had a calm and relaxed labour and she credited hypnobirthing as the cause of this: ‘before I started my antenatal classes’, she said, ‘I was scared about giving birth, but after the course I actually felt excited about it and looked forward to my labour. In short – it changed my mindset’

Hypnobirthing antenatal classes had armed her with practical tools and techniques that she could use to relax during pregnancy, labour and birth. It had also made her view childbirth as a positive experience. So, when my aunt-in-law found out she was pregnant for a second time she swiftly booked onto a hypnobirthing course… and her second birth? Well, it was calm and relaxed. As she says, ‘it could not have been more different from my first birth. It was calm and quick and I didn’t feel scared or in discomfort. The biggest difference for me was that I wasn’t afraid and because of this my muscles didn’t tense up – I wasn’t pushing against myself.’

Anyway, her passion for hypnobirthing made a big impression on me and I filed this information away for use at a later date. And when I got pregnant one of the first things I did, before I even thought about baby names, was google local hypnobirthing instructors. I found one close by, who teaches The Wise Hippo Birthing Programme and my husband and I attended a four week class. I was desperate for a home-birth and a water birth – as I have a bit of a phobia of hospitals, while they make some people feel safe and in expert hands, they make me feel scared and tense. Before my classes I was worried about how I could have my home-birth water birth, how I’d cope without an array of strong pain relief options. My husband was also wary about my home birth idea.

From scared of birth to just excited!

The course addressed our fears and gave us practical tools to use to relax during pregnancy, labour and birth. And it worked. After the four classes the way we thought about labour and birth had changed. Now we looked forward to the big day and thought about all the ways we could make it special – think DVDs, favourite foods, scented candles etc. I got hold of a pool and we had a ‘practice’ water birth… I spent a few hours relaxing in the tub, whilst watching a DVD and eating Ben&Jerry’s ice cream. Well, we needed to know how long it would take to fill up the pool!

The pool I used for my water birth

I had a wonderful birth experience. We watched DVDs of our favourite comedies, went for a walk, ordered our Christmas turkey from the local butchers (all in the early stages of labour of course) and generally chilled out. I found walking up the stairs, bouncing on my ball and the pool so helpful. I remember the day really clearly and look back on it as a fond memory.

My experience of hypnobirthing inspired me to retrain – it helped me understand how much our thoughts impact on our self-esteem, on our bodies, and how powerful positive thought and visualisation can be.

Plus, I’m a big wimp so I think that if I can have a comfortable, calm birth anyone can.

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