“You realise that your eyelids are so relaxed they stay closed of their own accord. Even if you wanted to open them, you will find they stay shut. In fact you can try this for yourself in a minute and you will find the more you try to open them the more firmly they stay shut. Try now to open them and see how you cannot open them – they stay shut. That’s fine,” the calm voice of Katharine Graves reassured us.
My body is designed to give birth efficiently and easily.
I honestly tried and couldn’t. I relaxed into it. What a relief to just be in this space, to have sunk so deeply into myself that the work of letting go could be done. We were participating in a “Confidence and Power” exercise to release our fear. We’d been invited to bring to mind all of the things we feared about birth and simply see them vanish. For me, it involved taking a proper look at the baggage I was still carrying from the Talitha’s birth. I can honestly say it’s not with me anymore. Anytime I’ve looked ahead to the February/March, it’s been a mix of excitement and dread. Now, I simply feel calmly open.
This was the second half of the KG HypnoBirthing course and we got a lot more into the nitty gritty of practical considerations when it comes to birth. Vitamin K, delayed cord clamping, comparisons between the places you could birth in and so much more came into the picture. It made me realise that I really don’t want to go to the NHS antenatal course this time. Last time, many of the classes left me terrified rather than informed. The pros of medical interventions, including pain relief, were discussed but not many of the cons. The vision of birth I emerged with was far more One Born Every Minute than Spiritual Midwifery and it didn’t make sense to me at all. So, though I’d planned to go along this time to meet other pregnant women living in the area and to promote our breastfeeding support groups, I’ve declined the classes.
Birthing is a natural process of my body, my mind and my spirit, working in unison with my baby.
I also had a bit of a lightbulb moment talking about inductions. I had five membrane sweeps in the end. I also had acupuncture to induce labour. I’d already decided I’d not be doing this next time, planning to let my baby come when she’s ready unless there’s a clear medical reason why we need to act. I found the sweeps painful and invasive and though they each got a series of painful contractions going, they didn’t lead anywhere. In the end, I was in “labour” for days before agreeing to be induced because I was exhausted and had lost my confidence. Katharine talked about a potential link between longer labours and stretch-and-sweeps. I’ve not heard about it before and won’t dwell on it too much because I don’t want to misquote her but overall the question I was left with was: why not trust my body and baby this time around? Why not just wait? I have “failure to progress” written in my maternity notes in reference to my last birth. I’ve mentally scratched it out and written “impatience” instead.
With each surge I breathe deeply, focus upwards, and work with my body.
We have lots to talk about in advance of the birth. I already have thoughts on most things, like the natural third stage as mentioned in our reasons for choosing a doula. I need to do some more reading on Vitamin K – I’d forgotten about that and didn’t make a totally informed choice last time. We have daily exercises to be doing, we’re listening to the “Colour and Calmness relaxation” CD and I’m reading The Hypnobirthing Book (come back for a review and giveaway here on Friday). I’m also writing some of my own statements. I’m using the KG Hypnobirthing suggestions for “Statements for an Empowering Birth” – three of which punctuate this blog post – and incorporating my spiritual beliefs as a Christian. There’s loads of time, of course, but we can’t believe how quickly the weeks are passing, especially with Christmas on the way. It’s nice knowing we’ll be in good practice by the time this baby makes an appearance.
I can’t really read what Laurence thinks about it all. He says that the positive thinking can only be a good thing (I almost said “can only be positive”!) and he can see how that applies to lots of things in life. He doesn’t seem totally sold on all the visualisation and relaxation stuff but acknowledges that I seem very responsive to it and as I’m the one giving birth, that’s probably the way around it should be! And at the end of the day, whether he “believes in it” or not, the point is that we’re both happy to practise. Certainly, I’m already benefiting from a general feeling of wellbeing in my pregnancy.
Read about the first half of the KG Hypnobirthing course.
The HypnoBirthing Centre with Katharine Graves gave us a free place on a HypnoBirth course at St Thomas’ Hospital on South Bank. I was also sent a copy of The HypnoBirthing Book and the Relaxation CD, which are included for all participants, and one of each to give away to you, fair readers. Come back this Friday for the review and giveaway.