I’m really excited to welcome Jayne Clark-Denyer, founder of Organically Epic, who’s sharing her wonderful hypnobirthing Birth Story with you all. I absolutely love this story, because it really shows exactly what hypnobirthing is FOR.. not necessarily that vaginal water birth in your living room, but a birth that YOU are in control of, unafraid of and looking forward to.
Where do I start.... well, when I was younger, in my 20's really, pregnancy and birth were a far off magical thing and my only thoughts to do with them were, how on earth do you get a baby out of your mini, and holy hell that must hurt. I actually became quite fearful of it. I had no desire to get pregnant of have a baby. Both of these were completely alien to me. Roll on a few years when I met my husband, we married and my thoughts changed completely. How cool would it be to have a mini us walking about? their funny little faces and cute smiles. I'm sure that every couple who has a child initially thinks along these lines.. simple, yet effective. And just the right side of narcissistic...
I had my first child when I was 33, in 2012 and more recently, at 37 in July 2017. My first birth was 'natural' ie through the normal route but I was unfortunately induced due to the lovely condition known as gestational diabetes. By lovely I mean horrendously frightening, worrying and super hard to control if diet alone won't cut it. I was induced for the birth as my now gorgeous 5 year old, didn't want to come out before the due date. When you have certain health complications in pregnancy, the powers that be will not let you go past the due date and all sorts of scary statistics are thrown at you - which, I'm sure now, are there to batter you into submission and for hospitals to avoid hefty lawsuits should the unthinkable happen. So, fearful of asking actual questions or learning about birth, I just went along for the ride and the birth did not go as expected.
I won't go into too much detail, however, be safe in the knowledge that it was not pleasant. So much so that I was adamant that I wouldn't put myself through it again. Roll on a few years and it was my daughter and her need for a sibling that had us trying for another baby. We were lucky and got pregnant again with our second child. Whilst I was excited to be pregnant I felt a pit in my stomach at the thought of gestational diabetes and another, complicated and painful birth.
This time though, things had changed. My mindset, confidence and belief in myself had changed. It's funny how having children does that to you. I was no longer a frightened thirty something woman, I was in control. Determined to not go through the same thing. I started to feel quite ill and tired at the beginning of my pregnancy. All normal you might think but I knew something was wrong. I demanded to be tested early for Gestational diabetes and low and behold, I had the blasted condition again. It was harder to manage this time. Something about it getting worse as you get older. I was a geriatric pregnancy apparently. Nothing like being called geriatric to get you all riled up.
Again, I was determined that this birthing experience would not be the same as the last. I researched, I questioned other women, I demanded answers. Answers on what went wrong the first time around and how to avoid it again. I was on a mission to have a natural calm, emphasis on the calm, birth. I reached out to a local hypnobirthing teacher whom I had met at a women's business event and my husband and I attended our first session with her when I was around 34 weeks pregnant.
After the first session, my husband and I were in agreement, this was the best money we'd ever spent and why on earth didn't we do it the first time around! Our hypnobirthing classes taught us what women are capable of, that it's our bodies, we can ask for what we damn well please in the birthing environment, we could inquire, we could ask, we could question.
By our second session we were completely buzzing. I had the confidence to speak to my consultant and out and out say what I did and didn't want. Much to her shock and surprise. I think we are all frightened to go against what the health professionals say, which yes, going completely against what they say would be silly, but what you don't know is that you can voice your opinion, it is your body, your baby. That way you can work together for what is best for your mental health as well as your physical health.
We agreed that if the baby didn't come by the due date, then I would have an elective Cesarean. I wanted to avoid this at all costs, but, I could not mentally or physically go through what I had with my first daughter, I just couldn't. So, I tried everything, walking, curries (low sugar of course), weekly reflexology, pregnancy massage - I even had a bottle of clary sage on tap and was sniffing it like some sort of glue sniffer who needs to go to rehab. Alas, none of this worked and whilst sitting in the park, on one of the hottest days of the year for my daughters last day at preschool, I came to the realisation that alas, my dream of a calm water birth was not going to happen. Because of the techniques that hypnobirthing taught me, I did not take this as a failure, I took it as just another turn in this funny thing called life and was calm and collected when I checked into hospital that night for a csection the next day. I'm not going to lie, I was inwardly terrified but outwardly, I was happy and chilled, the picture of someone who has it together.
The csection was a dream. To this day I think back to it with love and calm. It was honestly the best decision I could make, for my health. The amazing surgical team at the hospital combined with the hypnobirthing techiques I had learnt and my husbands calm cool exterior, again thanks to the hypnobirthing classes, my daughter was born into a calm environment, full of love and happiness. She latched onto the breast straight away as I was in recovery and I recovered from the surgery as expected within a few weeks. I found it much less invasive or painful than my first birth and I even, every now and then before I slap myself, think, wouldn't it be nice to have number 3 and do it all again.
What hypnobirthing taught me is that it doesn't matter if the natural birth you desire alludes you, you can make the best of what happens next with breathing techniques, positive thinking and overall staying calm, for yourself and your baby. I still use the hypnobirthing techniques in my daily personal and business life, to keep me calm, cool and collected. If more families knew about hypnobirthing and were informed that it isn't as 'woo woo' as we've been led to believe, there would be a lot less mental and physical trauma going on in maternity wards around the country.
If you'd like to read some more Positive Birth Stories, you can find some here.