Hypnobirthing… mind over matter

I used hypnobirthing when I had my third child (due to PTSD following the second birth), in order to get through labour with my sanity in tact. I needed to regain control as I was terrified of the whole process. So, it was a home birth as a location and hypnobirthing as pain relief. I must say, due to the practice I put in, it worked very well indeed and was a positive experience. I recovered quickly and bonded immediately with my baby.

So, this time round I’m planning the same except, with one thing and another dealing with my grief, general lethargy and lack of focus, I’ve not been so well prepared. I don’t know why but it feels as though I have fewer hours in the day this time around. I’ve only just started, at 34 weeks, which should be okay, but I started by around 28 weeks last time, so I feel I’ve not given myself much time. Still, I’m hoping it will come back to me, but I already know this birth will be different for me emotionally.

The programme involves listening to a CD every day and reading a book which teaches you about breathing techniques (though I attended a course with my husband the first time around). It sounds very new-age but it simply takes the idea of labour back to basics – the fact that women through the centuries have given birth without all the intervention and fear. Fear is the thing that causes the most pain, both physiologically and psychologically… (I even use the techniques now for other fears, such as going to the dentist) anyway, if you’re ever in the same position, I’d highly recommend attending a course. Even if you need a caesarean or your labour has complications, having a relaxed frame of mind helps enormously with your experience of it and recovery.

My first listen to the relaxation CD, over six years on, and the memory of practising this did indeed come flooding back, and the affirmations that are repeated over to you are comforting and reassuring. However, it was probably not the best day to start, as I wasn’t exactly ‘feeling it’…

As I lay there listening to the words, I found my negative (worn out!) inner voice countering some of the positive, empowering affirmations:

‘I love my body and how I look’ – erm, no, not at the moment I don’t – my feel are so swollen they hurt, I’ve got a splinter in the sole of my foot which I can’t reach, my pelvis is aching a lot right now and this pillow isn’t helping, I can’t reach the floor to pick up stuff, I’m feel like a whale and I’m blotchy, oh and now carpel tunnel is making my hands ache… etc!

So… breathe…

‘You feel full of energy ready to birth your baby’ – not quite; I’m so tired that I expect I’m having Ready Brek for dinner tonight (again!), and I’ve got a stinking, snotty cold and feel all fuzzy headed, so if you think I can practise ‘birth breathing’ without passing out, you’ve got another think coming!

And so on…

I can joke, but it really is worth doing, I just need to get my act together. It was actually reassuring to hear it again. I was reminded that I can ‘do labour’ without freaking out. I think I drifted off to sleep for a short time, which was what I really needed after a night on the sofa with swollen ankles and sciatica. I will listen to the CD every day so, by the big day, I’ll be believing everything I hear and will be back to a more confident frame of mind, though the breathing is the key to releasing tension, so I need to shift this cold soon!