Pregnant with my first child, similar to many first time mums, I spent considerable time preparing conscientiously for the birth. I read a few of the usual books, indulged in the occasional pregnancy massage, sought acupuncture when necessary, ate well and kept fit walking & swimming. It was a glorious time in so many ways, the sheer excitement of a first baby is such a thrill, every first so precious! Fortunate to be considered low risk, I enrolled in the Midwife Care Program at the nearest public hospital and we hired a wonderful Doula*.
Since I can remember, I’ve always been fascinated with the birth process- before we had even considered a baby I used to watch birth videos on YouTube and read birth & pregnancy books just for fun. When friends had their babies, I was always keen to meet their new bundle of goodness but what I really wanted to know was ‘ just how was the actual birth?’.
As I approached my due date I was confident that I knew what I wanted, not just for me, but most importantly for our baby (and my dear husband too, of course!). I strongly desired a calm and gentle entry to this world for our baby with minimal fuss and intervention. I had firm ideas about the birth environment and I made sure that my husband was on the same page- to feel secure I needed a strong advocate and birth partner – I was fortunate in that he exceeded expectations!
I had heard of Hypnobirthing classes, however, I had assumed that it was for ‘hippies’- too ‘new age’ and ‘airy fairy’ for me to relate to and so I didn’t investigate further. Besides, I was confident that the way in which I was preparing for this birth was right for me and so I continued with daily affirmations (posted strategically around our tiny inner city unit), listened to one particular meditation CD and continued to read wonderfully positive birth stories. Our beautiful Doula worked through our ‘formal’ pre natal education in our home and so I felt that we had a solid understanding of the mechanics of birth….the nuts and bolts so to speak. Intuitively I knew that this experience would be more about ‘where my head was at’ – and so I worked hard on a positive mindset and approached the birth with ABSOLUTE excitement (and a healthy dose of blissful naivety?!).
What I didn’t realise was that the way in which I had instinctively prepared for birth was very closely aligned with the Hypnobirthing Australia program! This realisation has ultimately led me to explore my passion for women’s choices and all things birth and to complete the training to become one of this regions firstHypnobirthing Australia Practitioners. I passionately believe that this comprehensive course and the techniques truly empower both women and their birth partner in experiencing THEIR best birth, however it unfolds. After all, it’s not always about having a natural birth but an empowered birth. Choice is always an important and personal thing for women- this program expands the opportunities that women in this area have- something our sisters in the city have ready access to.
The birth of baby Patrick was everything I had hoped and prepared for and my passion for birth and the care of women during this time has only grown since. I am using the Hypnobirthing Australia program in preparation for the birth of baby number two due in Spring 2015. I maintain the belief that great birth experiences don’t always ‘just happen’ and that we as women need to take ownership of the process and prepare ourselves as best we can. To quote the very insightful Ina May Gaskin “Whenever and wherever you intend to give birth, your experience will impact your emotions, your mind, your body & your spirit for the rest of your life”.
So, I was wrong! Hypnobirthing isn’t just for ‘hippies’ – it’s for all women (royalty included*) and their birth partners- a wonderful gift for themselves and most importantly, their precious baby.
* Doula, or birth attendant, is a woman offering non medical support and information to parents in pregnancy, childbirth and the post natal period. Quite simply, it is the role of the Doula to ‘mother the mother’.
* According to very good sources, Princess Catherine used Hypnobirthing techniques during the birth of both Prince George and Princess Charlotte.