Joey, born July 2020
My partner and I heard from a few friends that if they could only give one piece of advice about preparing for birth, it would be to do a HypnoBirthing course. We'd never heard of it, but after a bit of research, it turns out that Jo, who was a work colleague of mine was a HypnoBirthing Mongan Method Practitioner in Alice Springs, so we booked in.
I still wish it wasn't called HypnoBirthing, as I'm sure the name might put a lot of people off, but I truly believe it is the most practical, grounded, common sense birthing education program to maximise the chance of a positive birth experience.
HypnoBirthing's explanation of the physical process of birth showed me how to use my breath to allow the birthing process to unfold with minimal tension, pain and fear as possible. And so, I was actually looking forward to giving birth!
HypnoBirthing also explains birth preferences, enabling you to choose what you would like your birth experience to look like, as much as possible. This is a really empowering process, as you realise just how much choice you have within the health system.
The most valuable thing I learnt from the HypnoBirthing course was empowerment. This was paramount, for we had a terrible experience with our first child, who was born at 24 weeks.
The Interstate medical team didn't believe I was in labour at all, saying I just had a urinary tract infection and should lay down and relax! After six hours of the most horrible pain I had ever experienced (due to the out of control fear/ tension/ pain triangle that HypnoBirthing works so amazingly with), they realised I was 10cm dilated and our little girl came into the world and lived for less than an hour.
First hand, I can see how the power of birthing can be taken away from women and how women's innate strength, wisdom and natural ability to birth their babies can be replaced with a false focus on pain and fear.
So naturally, when I was fortunate enough to get pregnant again a few years later, I dreamt of a calm, quiet water birth at home, with the least medical intervention as possible. One of my birth preferences was that I did not want this birth to be a medical event, but at 22 weeks we found out that our baby had Down Syndrome, and as I was 41, this tipped the medical alarm bells into action.
HypnoBirthing certainly empowered us to make informed decisions to negotiate our options, however a home birth was ruled out and our birthing experience became a medical event all the way to our son's birth.
Although my labour was a medical event and far from my desired experience, by using the HypnoBirthing breathing and relaxation techniques, I was able to remain calm and grounded, and I was still sitting up happily embroidering a beanie for our baby 45 minutes before he was naturally born!
In hindsight, with our beautiful, perfect bundle Joey in our arms, it doesn't really matter if your baby enters the world differently to how you had dreamt it could be. The most important thing is that you made informed choices to maximise a positive outcome for you and your baby.
I am so grateful for the HypnoBirthing experience, as it showed us what is possible, that birthing can be a beautiful experience, and that with the right techniques and guidance, we can trust our birthing bodies to birth our babies without fear. I recommend it to everyone!