For the longest time I have been afraid of the idea of birth. It seems silly, but it even put me off the idea of having children.
“The main problem with having a baby” I would say “is that they have to come out…”
…and then I met Luke, and I knew without a doubt that I wanted to have his baby.
…and then I got pregnant.
…and then the fear came back.
Two years ago we’d met Lucy (a good friend of my best friend) at Barefoot Festival and she’d talked a bit to us about her journey into Natal Hypnotherapy and how women are physically geared up to give birth, but that the way we’re taught to view the whole process has a detrimental effect on our experience of labour and childbirth. I hadn’t been thinking about getting pregnant at the time but her words stuck with me, and so when I was freaking out about the pain and the screaming and the tearing, I turned to Lucy for help and advice.
From the onset she was utterly fantastic and re-explained to me that my fear (read: TERROR) of birth would be the thing that stopped me from having a positive birth experience – that fear-induced adrenaline would prevent my body from producing the hormones that were designed to open my body and dull the “pain” of the contractions.
She gave me the link to her website so I could learn a bit more and offered to suggest local hypnobirthing practitioners to me. It was a lovely offer, but I was worried that if I went to a class with a stranger I might not get on with them and consequently not get as much from the courses as I wanted…so I asked her if we could come up to Derby to do a weekend course with her, and was so SO pleased that she said yes.
We got back from Derby on Sunday night and I can’t begin to tell you how fantastic our weekend was. I’ll try though…
At first, Luke wasn’t too keen on going. He said he’d come and that he wanted to support me, but underneath it all I think he was highly sceptical of the whole thing (not really believing in hypnosis) and didn’t really see what he was going to get from it all.
We arrived on Saturday morning and settled down in Lucy’s (very comfy) living room. She introduced herself and told us a bit about why she had started doing Natal Hypnotherapy, and then we and the other two couples introduced ourselves to each other.
Over the course of the weekend we learnt so much that it’s almost too much to write about.
We watched videos about the power of hypnosis and how hypnobirthing can ensure a positive birth experience, no matter where or how your baby enters the world. We worked in our couples, and as a group, and on a couple of occasions we split up into mums and dads to do some activities. We did quite a few sessions of guided hypnosis over the weekend and I was so relaxed that I think I fell asleep during each one, but when I came round I felt SO relaxed and SO energised. I thought it was amazing, and Luke said that he felt just the same.
As well as listening to Lucy, we also did a lot of group discussion, and we shared a lot of stories and a lot of laughs.
On both days we enjoyed a lovely lunch with Lucy and the other couples and got to chat about our impending parenthood, baby names and all sorts of other things.
On the Saturday evening, once we were alone and eating takeaway, Luke and I both agreed that we felt closer to each other, like we’d bonded even more as a couple, and that we both felt much more positive about the arrival of our son. Luke’s scepticism had disappeared entirely and he totally embraced the whole notion of using hypnosis to handle pain and make the birth manageable. We popped in to see his dad on our way home on Sunday and it was fantastic to hear him talk about the course and the things we’d learnt with such pleasure and enthusiasm.
Up until this weekend I think he was feeling like a bit of a spare part, and that he would be sitting back helpless while I went through the pain of childbirth. The workshop gave him the tools and the confidence to be able to support me and to know his role in the process. I think he’s looking forward to being my “gatekeeper”, speaking for me and guarding me while I disappear into myself to ride through my contractions and let my hormones do their job.
It’s was a brilliant experience and it’s left us both feeling very positive and in control. We’re now looking forward to the birth as much as we’re looking forward to being parents. If we can feel this level of closeness after a weekend of talking about birth, I can’t begin to imagine how massive a bonding experience my labour will be. It’s a very exciting time.
I’m so glad that we chose to do a hypnobirthing course, and even gladder that we travelled to Derby to do one with Lucy. She created a lovely space to learn and to talk, and we were made to feel so welcome. It was great to share the course with other couples and we’ve exchanged details so we can get together for a reunion once our babies are born.
As a bonus to the course, we also got a copy of Maggie Howell’s book…
…which was wonderful considering I’m not really getting on with the kindle version and was thinking about buying the book in paperback…and we also got to choose a CD from the collection on offer. We chose one for hospital/birth centre births, but after the workshop was over Luke and I both said that we were starting to like the idea of a home birth.
There’s a lot for us to think about if we want to do that, so we may still end up going to hospital (well, preferably a birth centre), but I think that the fact that we’re both feeling more empowered and confident enough to even discuss a home birth speaks volumes about the course and about Lucy as an instructor.
All in all 100% successful trip!