Empowering birth | From hospital to home birth - My birth story - Part 2 - Hypnobirthing Basics
For my friend Victoria.
Read my disclaimer here.
From a Hollywood style hospital birth with my first born to a blissful home birth with my second, if you have not read part one, which describes my two very different birth experiences, click here. In this post, part two, I will share with you exactly how I ended up having the most blissful, empowered and life changing birth with my second child Sydnee on my lounge room floor using Hypnobirthing - The Mongan Method. I will also tell you the resources I personally used, and share my birthing video.
What is hypnobirth?
Hypnobirth gives women the tools she needs to be able to birth naturally, peacefully and calmly using hypnotherapy which is planting positive suggestions into the sub conscious mind. Neuroscience explains the Law of Psycho Physical Response which suggests - what is determined in the mind is experienced in the body. I know the idea of a calm and peaceful birth sounds crazy right? But it is possible and I have experienced this firsthand. In this style of birth the woman is not in any way hypnotised before birth but uses the tools she has learned to enter a deep form of meditation which encourages her to use her mind to manage the various stages of labour. In this state of consciousness a woman is able to control the sensations she experiences during the birth process and work with her body to deliver the baby.
In our society, we are conditioned to fear childbirth. From hospital birthing classes to hearing the birth stories between friends, the words ‘pain’ and ‘pain relief’ are terms used unanimously to describe labour and birth. This fear conditioning is a problem during labour because fear is what activates our sympathetic ‘fight or flight’ system which is what causes muscle tension and increases pain in labour because the body closes up instead of opening up. Hypnobirthing, which is the method I used to deliver my second child, helps to take away this fear whilst preparing you with the following tools for childbirth:
Embracing birth as a natural part of life
Talking about birth positively, for example, we call contractions ‘surges’ or ‘waves’
Removing the fear factor around birth through counselling, discussion and positive talk
Empowering women with their innate knowledge of birth
Teaching and practicing breath work, relaxation, affirmations, visualisation and meditation techniques during pregnancy and to manage labour
Acknowledging the collective consciousness of birthing women both past and present
Understanding the more you effort you put into practicing meditation and breath work techniques during your pregnancy the better chance of using these tools effectively during the birthing process.
By using the techniques above a woman prepares herself for a more positive birth experience and reduces the risk of requiring unnecessary invention during the birth process. How amazing is that!
A crash course in Hypnobirthing in my own words - ALLOW, CHOOSE, BREATHE
Did you know to birth well you need to stimulate the same hormones and state that you were in when you conceived your child, yes, that’s right, the same hormones used for love making and sex! The main hormone is oxytocin and is the one you want to be producing when you go into labour because it will naturally allow your body to take over, do its job, open up and deliver your baby. Looking at things simplistically you could say as humans we are animals at heart and our one true purpose on earth is essentially to procreate. If there is anything that you instinctively know how to do, it is give birth! You and the generations of women before you going back thousands of years have done this and your body knows what to do and you need to trust in this. We must be open and willing and once our heart is open our body will open, this is especially important during the labour process. Remember you were born to do this!
Being able to hypnobirth and to get yourself in a position to have a positive birth experience really comes down to one very important thing and that is MINDSET. Your mindset is your motivation and will be what drives you to prepare for the best birth experience possible. I am not going to lie, preparation is key and you definitely get what you put in when it in when it comes to birth. The more actions you take, the more likely a positive outcome. Obviously, every birthing woman will face risks that may happen beyond her control during labour no matter how prepared she is which she can deal with at the time with the help of her caregivers, but this is not a given, and your preparation will still help significantly in these instances.
Preparing for my second childbirth was what I like to describe as training for a marathon. It was the little things I did each day, and each week that prepared me for our big day. I would not have been able to do this without the right mindset. But how do we achieve the right mindset? Three very important things:
1. Choose the right caregiver
If there is one thing that you take away from this whole article then take away this. Choosing the right caregiver during your pregnancy will be have a significant impact on the type of birth experience you will have. Whether that is an obstetrician, midwife or your GP, make sure you are able to develop a strong and close relationship built on TRUST and LOVE with your chosen caregiver. Most importantly, make sure that person will be there at the birth with you. Some obstetricians are not even present at some of their births so you need to look into these sorts of things when choosing a caregiver. I honestly trusted my midwife with my life. I felt 100% safe and secure in her care, I felt loved and nurtured by her and I never ever doubted her judgements. And she was the only person I saw during my pregnancy. If you are in a position in which you can’t choose your caregiver, for example, birthing through a public hospital, consider a midwife who can accompany you to your visits there. Having a strong bond with your caregiver really matters when it comes to labour day because they will be directing any actions you take on the day. You need to trust their decisions as if they were your own.
2. Deal with any limiting beliefs that you may have around birth and surround yourself with positive ones
In a nutshell, I had two very limiting beliefs that I had to work on during my second pregnancy. Firstly I had to heal myself of the trauma of the childbirth of my first born Marley. You can read more about this story here. Another issue for me was the story I told myself that I would have another big baby (Marley was nine pounds). Whether you have trauma which is birth related or not, being pregnant makes us vulnerable and you may be surprised at the unresolved emotions and feelings that rise to the surface during this time, but whatever it is, you need to have awareness of it and be willing to work on it. In practice this means you first need the awareness to describe what it is that is actually holding you back. Then you need to work on it. I personally attended counselling by myself and with my partner, meditated and surrounded myself with birth affirmations which I stuck all around my house, on mirrors, in the shower. You name it, there was a positive birth affirmation there. Check out my resources below.
3. Make a choice to PRACTICE every single day.
My effort and willingness to learn and practice my breath work and meditations for hypnosis every single day is what prepared me for the best birth experience possible. But please don’t let this idea scare you! I didn’t start practicing fully for hypnobirth until I was about halfway through pregnancy but when I started I made the commitment every day. At the very least, in the morning before I got out of bed, and before I went to bed, I would work through practicing my breath work and listening to my birth meditation and music. At 32 weeks, I also started a 5 week hypnobirthing course which gave me more of an opportunity to practice and get into my mindset. This training was really an added bonus, I felt I already had the tools to birth like a boss because of all the work I had been doing behind the scenes.
In practice you need to make an active choice to think, feel and believe positively about your pregnancy and birth every single day. It’s like choosing to be happy, angry or sad at any given moment. Without getting technical about life circumstances, neurotransmitters, or hormones, at the end of the day, how we feel, what your think and what we do is a choice. Make the choice everyday to prepare yourself for a positive birth experience.
The three simple breaths that will change your birth experience:
Breath work is the cornerstone of everything in hypnobirthing. Read that again. Breath work is EVERYTHING in labour! Even if you didn’t do any hypnobirthing practice, meditation, affirmations, classes or anything of that kind before labour, good breath work will still be of great benefit to you in labour and is what will assist you to achieve that positive birth experience you have dreamed of, even with no previous experience so read on.
I’m about to share with you the three basic breaths I personally used in labour and learned from the Mongan Method of Hypnobirthing. In all the breath work I describe below you need to make sure you are breathing into your belly. This can be tricky as most of us tend to breathe shallow into our chest so have a few practices breathing past your chest and into your belly (as if you are inflating a big balloon in your stomach) so you can get the most out of these breaths.
Breath 1 - The Relaxation Breath
How to: Simply breathe in deeply and breathe out slowly, like you are trying to relax into a yoga session, or go to sleep at night.
Used for: This breath is simply a relaxing breath aimed at slowing your heart rate down and activating the parasympathetic nervous system. This breath is used throughout the entire labour process and is the first breath you will practice when you have started labour. Perhaps you have have a week or so of braxton hicks, whenever you start feeling those surges, use this relaxation breath, in and out. Think ‘Yoga Class’.
As your labour progresses you will continue to use this breath right up to, and in between surges right up to the ‘pushing stage’. You will always come back to this breath in labour! Think of it as your base breath.
Breath 2 - The Surge Breath
How to: Breath in slowly for 20 seconds (or as long as you can), breathe out for 20 seconds (or long as you can)
This breath is the one that should be ideally practiced several times in pregnancy because as you will notice when you do it for the first time, it’s actually quite tricky to control your breath in and out like this for such a long time.
Used for: You will use this breath during your surges for as long as they last. As soon as you feel the surges coming on you will begin your 20 second (or whatever you can do) slow breath in. Once you can not inhale anymore, you begin your very slow breath out! You may need to do two or three of these during your peak in labour. The idea of this breath is like you are riding a wave. By the time you have finished the end of the breath you will have noticed that your surge will almost be over. This breath allows your body to work with your surge, relaxing your muscles and your body so you can open up.
Breath 3 - The Birth Breath
How to: Imagine you are trying to fog up a mirror with your breath. Do this breath out but with your mouth closed which will push the air down the back of your throat. Check out my resources below for a YouTube clip on how to do it.
Used for: Once you are fully dilated during labour, your body will feel an overwhelming desire to start pushing out your baby. You will use this breath during your pushing phase of labour to help breathe your baby down quickly and easily as you work with the natural flow of your body.
Summary of the three breaths.
Breath 1 - At beginning of labour and between contractions.
Breath 2 - During surges only - imagine you are filling up a balloon
Breath 3 - During the pushing phase of labour when your baby is just about to be born.
I will say it again. To become a true master you will need to practice these three breaths before you go into labour, particularly breath two and breath three. Get these three breaths right and you are well and truly on your way to a better birth experience. These are the exact same breaths that carried me through my labour and allowed me to birth so blissfully and peacefully.
During Birth and my final words,
When it’s show time and you experience that first surge as a signal that labour has started, remember to surround yourself with nothing but love and positive energy.
My top tried and tested tips for an amazing birth:
Breath is everything and should be your main focus from the beginning of labour! Focus on your breath and all times and everything will flow
Immerse yourself around positive birth affirmations and relaxation music and stay at home as long as possible during labour
Visualisation is very powerful so visualise your body opening up like a flower blooming and meeting your baby soon. Never lose sight of this during labour. This vision is what got me through my entire labour.
Your partner and caregiver will be your dream team during birth. Have a plan and trust in them to execute it while you stay in the zone without distractions during labour. Lots of distraction during labour can slow the birth process down, you need to do your best to stay away from them and utilise your partner and caregiver to shield you. Imagine you are in a bubble in the room.
Remember this is your moment to go within, trust in yourself and your body’s amazing ability to birth. You were born to do this, so trust the process because you, and all the women before you, are a birthing goddess.
To finish I want to say, no matter what birth pathway you choose, natural or elective cesarean choose the right pathway that resonates with you. In this blog post I simply share with you my own personal journey and it won’t be the same for everyone, however I share the story because I want people to know what is possible. Don’t beat yourself up if your birth experience is not what you had planned for, or doesn’t sound like this story I am telling you and by now you should know it didn’t start out like this for me. At the end of the day, birth can still be an unpredictable event, but a good caregiver will manage this for you! All you can do is prepare the best you can and trust your caregiver to assist you in making the best decision possible at the time, with your health, and your baby’s health as top priority.
Don’t forget to check out my birth video below from Laine Tribes.
That is all my loves,
All the books I read and immersed myself in during pregnancy:
Know your midwife - My amazing midwife Mary Young and her online program:
Joymama Hypnobirthing and Yoga - I did my pregnancy yoga with Carrie and her amazing 5 week hypnobirthing course
Birth Affirmations - Use Pinterest and Google search engines to find ‘birth affirmations’. There are tonnes of printable ones on there.
The Birth Breath - Also known as the Ujjay Breath in Hatha Yoga. Check out this video on Youtube on how do it.
Melissa Jean - My birth photographer
Sam Smith from Laine Tribes - My birth videographer
#birthlikeaboss #birthwithoutfear #painfreebirth