I knew I wanted to do hypnobirthing for a long time. A good friend of mine, a little older than me, who had her children whilst I was in my early twenties had the most wonderful experience with hypnobirthing and I knew then that if I were to ever have children, hypnobirthing sounded exactly like my kind of thing. I am so grateful for that early exposure to it because I often wonder if I would have been dismissive of it if I had only heard about it as a distant concept. It’s name is so misleading and sounds like it’s going to be completely the opposite to what it actually is. Roll on ten years, I became pregnant with my first child and my first goal was to find a hypnobirthing coach to guide me through any birthing experience that could come my way.
I found Carys on social media and after reading her website and reviews, I knew it had to be her. My husband and I signed up for private 121 sessions and we thought she was wonderful. We were completely confident and prepared and truly felt informed so that we could cope with anything in the lead up to and during the birth.
Our due date came around and the baby wasn’t showing any sign of wanting to come out. My midwife was wonderful and didn’t push anything she just said to let her know when I’d like to discuss sweeps and inductions and that she would be led by me (by this point, I had spoken to her a lot about my birth preferences and about my hypnobirthing preparation, as prompted by Carys). I decided that I would like to have a sweep on the 10th day overdue and start the induction process on the 12th day, should I need to. The sweep on the 10th day dilated me 1cm and I had been feeling contractions for about a week anyway but nothing was leading to labour. So I went into the hospital for my induction.
In the hospital I was monitored for an hour or so and the midwife told me that I was having strong and regular contractions and so she would prefer to try another sweep instead of moving straight to the pessary induction, which might over-stimulate me. The sweep ramped up the feel of the contractions and led to a further centimetre of dilation but, over night, nothing else happened so I went back to the hospital in the morning where the same midwife said that she would now like a consultant to take a look before she starts the induction process. However, she had to pass me over to the day team before she was able to arrange this. A new midwife came in and said that she will do the pessary and just take it out again if it hyper-stimulates me. So I thought that sounded reasonable (after lengthy conversations with her about all of my options and my concerns) especially as I was feeling very ready to get the baby out. By the way, this entire time, I could hear other women going through some pretty painful contractions as part of lengthy inductions but I kept myself so calm because I had my hypnobirthing breathing, visualisations, mp3s and affirmations to keep me focussed.
The pessary kicked in quite quickly so I walked around the hospital and kept calm. I told the midwife that I was really feeling it and that I’d like to go home and go through my oxytocin activities such as eating my favourite foods and having a long hot bath. I was expecting it to take a long time and I knew that the pessary might not work and I might have to move up to the gels and/or the drip anyway. I wanted to get as much time in at home as possible. The midwife said to me that it probably isn’t doing very much yet as I’m not bent-double in agony and that when she sees me again, I’ll either be the same and we’ll be moving onto the gels or I will be basically unable to walk and in full labour. I thought both of those things were terribly insensitive things to say! Needless to say, I went home thinking I was at the start of a very long and uncomfortable journey.
As soon as I got home, I was desperate to eat so my husband made me a quick sandwich to have in the bath whilst he made me a proper meal. I got into the bath and felt instantly relieved, ate half the sandwich and then, before I knew it, I was up on all fours and letting out long, low and loud sounds at regular intervals. My husband came upstairs and I told him to call the hospital to let them know we’re coming back straight away. He resisted at first, worrying that this might not yet be it. However, as soon as he called and the midwives could hear me in the background they agreed I needed to return straight away. The car journey was unpleasant, to say the least, however I kept my headphones on and kept breathing through it. We arrived, assuming that I would be going back to the antenatal ward but a midwife intercepted us and marched us straight to the MLU, with me stopping at regular intervals to continue letting out my groans. A midwife examined me straight away, took out the pessary and confirmed I was 8cm dilated and could get straight into the pool and start pushing. I was elated.
The pool was insatiable. I always thought the pool wouldn’t be for me until Carys explained it’s potential for pain relief and my goodness was she right. As soon as I got in, I felt like I was wrapped up in a cosy blanket of water and ready to take anything on. Pushing felt like I was driving a car I was fully in control of and I just felt so completely in control and I was actually really enjoying it. I had some gas and air in between, which worked well in combination with my breathing techniques and my waters broke within minutes of getting into the pool. By the way, from the moment the pessary had been put in to the moment my waters had broken, not even 2 hours had passed.
Then, suddenly everything changed. The midwife had spotted some meconium in the pool, which meant that the baby was breech. She was so apologetic but, of course, it meant that she had to call it in as an emergency. Before I knew it, there were about 10 more people in the room but they were all amazing. The consultant was incredible and so empowering and encouraging. She told me I was a legend for getting this far without pain relief and that I was a great candidate for continuing with a vaginal birth even though it will be much trickier. She also offered me a c section but I was so excited and empowered that she believed in me that I opted to continue. I had to get out of the pool and be taken to the CLU on a gurney. They took me to a room with a pool in case I could get back in, which was very thoughtful. They’d all read my notes and my birthing preferences thoroughly and kept referring back to them and kept me in the loop of things that would compromise what I’d written. I feel like I was keeping my control the whole time and it was wonderful. They pulled and pushed me into different positions but after 45 mins of feeling the baby bear down before whooshing back up again, they did another scan (apparently they’d done one earlier that I don’t remember) and could see that the baby was is a particularly awkward position and her head was particularly large. They explained that, at this point, if I did push the bottom half out, her head might get stuck and cause some very serious issues for either one of both of us. I then asked for a C section and off they took me, which was scary but I was completely prepared for it. I had religiously listened to the c section mp3s in combination with the others that Carys had given me and I managed to find a new sense of calm even though things had changed so drastically and so quickly.
The c section went well and both Flora, my beautiful baby girl, and I were in fine health afterwards. Although recovering from a c section is NOT at all pleasant!! Every step along the way, I felt informed, I felt in control and I understood what was going on. Carys’s coaching was so much more than mindfulness and calming techniques.
It was a comprehensive education in birth, birthing options, mistakes, difficulties, communication, emergencies and staying present. My experience in the hospital was amazing but I think I had been so well armed with the tools and language to communicate with the staff that I actually steered the whole experience myself.
None of that would have been the case had we not worked so closely with Carys. I am in awe of what she does and how life changing our interaction with her was. Both my husband and I continue to use the techniques we learnt in every day life and we wax lyrical to everyone who will listen about our positive experience and why it was so.
It’s the best thing we’ve ever done.