“My beautiful and exciting birth story”

Rebekah and Ron completed my "intense" hypnobirthing course when they were 34 weeks pregnant with their second baby. They had tried "self-taught" hypnobirthing (buying the book, CD and an online course) with their first baby but Rebekah hadn’t felt much use or value from this approach, and had felt unable to apply it.

They had experienced a difficult birth with their first baby – painful, distressing, needing medical intervention and a long postnatal recovery. They came to me for hypnobirthing support as they were feeling more anxious than they’d previously realised, about their forthcoming second birth. Mum Rebekah wanted to feel more in control and avoid intervention as much as possible this time around.

Here is Rebekah’s story:

Hi Rachel,

Sorry it has taken so long to get this to you. After the initial “not real life” phase we have swung back to reality and have been keeping busy with visits and work so just haven’t prioritised this…but now it’s your turn! Benjamin had his first inoculations on Tuesday so I wasn’t able to come to the coffee morning but I am genuinely interested and will try to be there next month!

When I was pregnant with my first Baby I heard about hypnobirthing through an enthusiastic colleague. She lent me her book which then lead to me buying a CD and I spent some time listening and reading. Although I did find it useful, I was disappointed as I felt I wasn’t able to use the techniques for any great length of time during the labour and birth of my son. I did an online antenatal course as my husband and I weren’t keen on taking part in a group course and felt reasonably well prepared for the main event. My labour was very long and in the end I experienced what I now know to be called the full “cascade of interventions”. I had a long recovery after an episiotomy and decided I would never have another baby.

Despite that I changed my mind and wanted to try for another baby to complete our family. When I became pregnant with Benjamin I was thrilled and completely blocked out any thought of the labour and birth. It wasn’t until I was about 34 weeks pregnant that I realised I was beginning to become afraid of what lay ahead and how the aftermath would affect my life again. I googled hypnobirthing and came across Lionheart hypnobirthing. I sent Rachel an email and got a quick response. I was so relieved when I heard she had also started the [hypnobirthing] process very late and felt I wanted to give it more of a chance than I had the first time. I booked her intensive course after a small amount of persuasion my husband agreed to take part, and we never looked back.

Rachel’s course gave so much more than we expected and I feel the course is worth every penny spent. Having the personal lessons meant I was able to talk specifically about my own fears and history. Rachel is so friendly and has a very natural calmness which made it easy to open up to her about what we hoped we could avoid and achieve with the impending birth. Her background as a midwife and health visitor gave me and in particular my husband even more confidence in what Rachel was teaching us. It was like having an incredibly detailed and personalised birthing course as well as learning how to practically use the hypnobirthing techniques we were learning. We felt incredibly confident about our decisions and that the birth would be manageable and looked forward to doing it together.

The Birth

Once I had stopped working I felt able to dedicate more time to reading the scripts both alone and with my husband, listening to the CD and looking at the affirmations I had posted around the house. I began to visualise in more detail and mentally prepare for the birth. This alone made me feel calm and confident about my ability to labour and birth at home as well as understanding the biology of what was going to happen. I did a lot of OFP [optimal fetal positioning] and about three weeks worth of perineal massage. Feeling so prepared was what helped me feel calm as knowledge really does empower. I could never have felt so sure from a group course where I wouldn’t have felt able to ask personal questions or where I may have zoned out of the bits I didn’t feel relevant to me. Because there’s so much discussion with Rachel, it is impossible for it to feel uninvolved or too general.

My second birth was very quick. I said to my husband on the morning Benjamin was born that I had had enough of being pregnant and I just “wanted it out”. I was 3 days overdue, ready and looking forward to meeting my baby. I hadn’t felt any surges throughout the day but as it got to around 9.30 at night I had a noticeable surge…I thought maybe something might be starting so I laid on the sofa and watched some telly to conserve energy. At around 10.00pm I told my husband I thought it might be starting and then at 10.30pm I told him to call my dad to collect our son for a sleepover with his grandparents. The surges were very strong and I stood leaning forward with my birthing ball on a chair and used the "Up breathing" Rachel had practised with us and which I had been practising daily since our first meeting. These were incredibly useful along with looking at the affirmations in the living room where I had chosen to spend my labour. At one point I thought that the surges were so powerful that I might want some pain relief but as my husband was preparing the room for the pool, I just concentrated on my breathing and at 11.00pm I thought things were progressing very quickly and asked for the midwife to be called. At 11.20pm after returning to the sofa to try and slow things down my dad came to collect our son and left soon after. Then suddenly things just happened and I now know I’d gone into transition which was very intense and I just concentrated on the breathing and holding my husband’s hand. I then began pushing. I couldn’t believe it was happening so quickly and I don’t think my husband did either. I was quite vocal…not loud but guttural (as Rachel had also described, making me feel it was all normal and fine). I could feel the head being born but I can honestly say I wasn’t really in pain as I was so concentrated on trying to do the down breathing. Discomfort and a burning sensation is how I would describe it. The head was born and after that it was easy. The rest of his body was born with one push which was very easy and pain free. My husband caught our son and was holding him in his arms as the midwife arrived and asked…"did that just happen?"

So although we had planned a homebirth, it was not quite as our birth plan had set out! My midwife was completely on board with my hypnobirthing and I’m glad we didn’t have any medical intervention whatsoever . My husband’s version of events may be slightly different but I was unaware of any commotion or stress he may have felt whilst I was labouring…he did a brilliant job, which I’m sure he would say is down to our course!

This had been my major hope for our second birth and I can honestly say the recovery from the tearing (which I didn’t notice at the time) has been so much quicker than the very medical episiotomy, epidural and countless painkillers I had first time around. I am now 8 weeks post partum and feel great!

Thank you Rachel! I really can’t thank Rachel enough for her part in my beautiful and exciting birth story! I heartily recommend her to anyone wishing to give this a go at whatever stage of pregnancy as being so well informed can only be a positive influence on any birth regardless of how much of it you choose to practise and use in the event.

Thank you so much Rebekah for sharing your birth story. I’m utterly delighted in the positive role you felt hypnobirthing played in your positive and empowering birth. Love Rachel xxx

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