On the 12th of September, our lives changed forever. Leland and I finally met the baby boy that we’d grown to love so much during our pregnancy. Our little Juan Govinda was born into the world, after a beautiful and relaxed birth using HypnoBirthing techniques.
Prior to the birth, the blog entry I had visualised and fully expected to write was this:
We were in labour for four hours and almost had the baby on the side of the road, because the birth was so quick. When we got to the birth centre, we only had time to say hello to the midwife and fill the water-birthing tub before I started birth breathing. Three breaths later and Juan arrived, naturally and with no drugs.
That wasn’t meant to be. However, the birth we did have, was beautiful, peaceful and relaxed. It just also happened to be long and required an intervention. Yet, despite this, it has proved to me that I am incredibly strong and determined, as powerful as any woman can be.
It also proved to me that HypnoBirthing, beyond a shadow of doubt really does work. I mean REALLY DOES WORK! If I could make those words bold and red, underlined and italicized, I would. But that would be rude blogging.
Our son’s beautiful birth was long, with regular surges (aka contractions for the uninitiated to HypnoBirthing) every 3 minutes or less for days. Yes, you read right – days!But, don’t be mistaken. That wasn’t days of hysterical yelling, it was days of relaxed deep breathing, listening to gentle earth music, massage and meditation. It was days of affirmations, positive thinking and pure loving energy.
Rewinding a little, when we had first become pregnant with Juan, we were confused about our options and blindly thought that because we had private health insurance that we needed to go down the private path. We booked into an obstetrician, but something didn’t feel right. I didn’t feel like I was in control of my pregnancy – that I was just relying on doctors to tell me what to do.So, I took charge and did some research, and found out about Birth Centres – which are attached to hospitals but are setup to contain home comforts and are run under midwife care.In Brisbane birth centres are lottery-based, and we were fortunate to be selected.
We also looked into alternative types of birthing that would empower us as a couple and allow birth to be the spiritual event we wanted it to be.At around the 5 month mark, we signed up for HypnoBirthing courses with Melissa Spilsted from HypnoBirthing Australia. Melissa radiates such a beautiful and positive energy – you know, the type of person you want to always be around because they make you feel that anything is possible (which it is, of course.) For the duration of the course, the HypnoBirthing classes were the highlight of our week. During the first week we were ‘de-hypnotised’ – ie we were untaught everything we previously thought about birth – and it was iterated that birth is a natural process that is age old. In the subsequent lessons, we learnt various techniques, followed scripts, learnt affirmations and watched positive videos.
It was great that we started the course early, as we had 18 weeks of daily practice before Juan’s birth. This entailed listening to affirmations, posting visualisations around the house and listening to relaxation scripts. We learnt to block any negative stories from our consciousness and only seek positive birthing affirmations and stories.
This worked. During the days of Juan’s birth, we drew on everything we’d been taught. We had all the resources at hand to be fully empowered. We spent most of the time at home, as home is really the best place to be – as it’s where we felt most comfortable and at ease. Then, as labour progressed, we went to the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital Birth Centre where we were overjoyed to find that midwife Deb MacGillivray (from Family Midwives) was on duty. I had only met Deb the previous week, but in the short session we had formed somewhat of a bond and had exchanged emails during the week. Like Melissa, Deb has a wonderful energy and is an inspiring and passionate woman.We were so blessed to have had such strong women to be part of our birthing journey.
Unfortunately, we experienced some special circumstances that meant that we had to be transferred to the birth suite in the hospital – which meant doctor-led care as opposed to midwife care – although Deb was there to support us throughout the process. This is where we had to draw on the HypnoBirthing affirmation – “I will calmly meet whatever turn my birthing may take”.
In the birth suite we were able to use the decision-making processes we had learnt in class, and were able to make clear-headed decisions.In the one time where I felt that I wasn’t in control, I did lose it. I succumbed to negative self-talk and I stopped HypnoBirthing. The ten minutes that followed were spent in crippling pain – as the adrenalin pulsed through my veins and fear cramped up my uterus. I resorted to gas, and felt hopeless and helpless as a fog entered my consciousness. After about 10 minutes of this, some strength came from somewhere deep within, and I pushed myself off the bed (prior to that I’d been actively moving around, allowing my body to guide me through the surges), threw away the gas and started HypnoBirthing again. The pain that I had felt simply vanished as I allowed calm and relaxation to overflow my being. I was back in control.
During the doctor-led care, there were a few experiences that I think also proves the effectiveness of HypnoBirthing. When I first arrived in the birth suite, the doctor was concerned that I hadn’t had any contractions. I replied that I’d had at least 3 in the last 10 minutes and hadn’t he noticed that I’d had one whilst we were talking? He arched his eyebrows in surprise before uttering: “I’m sorry, I am just used to women birthing very differently.”HypnoBirthing women labour with gentleness, calmness and quiet – unlike the movie-style hysteria that one normally associates with labour!
Towards the end of the labour – which apparently for some unknown reason was failing to progress, even though my surges were coming strong and regular, I was put on Syntocinon which is an inducing drug that takes over the body’s natural rhythm with an artificial rhythm. I had done my research, so I was very much aware that this was make or break time. For the next two hours, I HypnoBirthed through increasing dosages of Synto. Each half-hour the dosage was increased, and it was only sheer determination that got me through it. In the last half hour, the room was full – there were two doctors, around four midwives and a student (we joke that we’re surprised there was no news team!) – all watching in awe as I rode through each intense artificial surge after another, with the support of Leland. I later found out that this was highly unusual – one of the midwives explained that she’d never seen anyone manage such a high dosage of Synto without pain relief. HypnoBirthing really does allow one to manage and calmly meet all circumstances that come our way.
In the end, we did require an intervention, as was baby Juan’s choosing. I remembered the words that Melissa, our HypnoBirthing teacher, had told us during class on a number of occasions – that she truly believes that the baby knows the safest route into the world. I was really impressed with the hospital staff and their compassion and ability to keep my husband and I in good spirits. I don’t remember this time as one of disappointment or panic, but a happy time, as I knew my baby was finally coming to us. I remember laughing and cracking jokes, and practicing deep breathing so that baby Juan would remain calm.
Then, the moment came when baby Juan was born – under bright lights – but there was no cry of distress. At last he was placed on my chest for skin-to-skin contact and bonding. He was so beautiful, and clearly shared his Daddy’s features. Calm and alert, within minutes he was rooting around looking for my breast, and not long afterwards had self-attached and was breastfeeding with innate natural instinct.
Juan is now 4 weeks old, and our friends and family comment on how alert, peaceful and calm he is, and also how relaxed and calm my husband and I are. I firmly believe this is a result of all the HypnoBirthing practices we’ve done – and the knowledge that if during the labour we were able to calmly meet whatever came our way, so too can we with parenting.
Juan’s birth wasn’t textbook HypnoBirthing – but in my mind, there is absolutely no doubt as to the effectiveness of the techniques. The whole process was an amazing experience and one that we can only look back upon with a sense of pride and strength. In parting, I just want to say that no matter what turn your birthing takes – it’s all a matter of attitude – you have the ability and strength for your birthing experience to be gentle, calm and rewarding.
Note: Our midwife, Deb, also wrote up an entry about Juan’s birth. Not only is Deb a compassionate (and passionate) midwife, she also has a beautiful way with words.