Beautiful Birth – A guest blog by Beccy Angove.
There are lots of things I love passionately. My children, obv! My lovely partner in crime and my mum, double obv! Then there’s the prosecco, cheese, bread and chocolate which is possibly the reason why I still look 7 months pregnant!
But there are two not so obvious things that I love so much, I am attempting to forge a career centred around them. Women. And birth.
I never wanted children until I met Alex. Well, I did but I didn’t want my then husband to be the father of my children. That’s a story for another time, or perhaps not!
So I love women and our amazing capabilities for so many things, but I also believe the presence of a good partner is monumentally important in the birthing of a new life. I am very lucky to have Alex. He is naturally calm, kind, considerate, mindful, respectful, gentle, I could go on (I also want to kill him a lot of the time too). The way your partner conducts themselves when you are in labour is instrumental in the path your birth takes.
I stumbled upon hypnobirthing when pregnant with our first baby. I started looking around at the ante natal classes on offer and felt like I needed something different. Thanks to the dramatization of childbirth through the media, tv, film etc and horror stories of birth which some (less than tactful) women would so kindly share when they see your growing bump; I had such a strong fear of childbirth (literally thinking about it would make me cry!!) and, unlike Alex, I was not a naturally calm person.
We attended a small group (just us and one other couple) hypnobirthing course with Wendy of Hypnobirthing Gloucestershire. She is also a midwife, and is one of the most patient, kind, calming people I have ever met. Exactly what I needed. I loved how involved and included the birth partners were. Alex was amazing during the classes and throughout both of my labours and births. At times, his voice or his touch was all I needed to go within and stay focussed on our baby. I feel our experience of hypnobirthing together has made our bond even stronger. I really wasn’t prepared for how transformative our hypnobirthing practice was. I thought the techniques might help me stay calm but was still worried about the pain. Gradually over the 6 weeks of classes and lots of practice together at home every night, I UNLEARNED all of the BS surrounding birth. The dramatic scenes, the fear, the pain all melted away into pure excitement. I was no longer dreading giving birth, I was looking forward to it and looked upon it as something I would actually enjoy. Crazy!!
What do you think about when you read the word hypnobirthing?
A natural birth, with no pain relief? Definitely not a hospital birth, right!? And an emergency caesarean? No frickin’ way!!
I believe that some forms of hypnobirthing can place too much focus on the woman doing it “naturally” with no pain relief. Then, if modern medicine is needed, the woman then feels like a failure, like she obviously wasn’t strong enough to do it by herself. So wrong! I also think it’s super damaging for a woman to adopt a boastful attitude when describing their natural drug free birth. Like “I managed to do it, did you not?!” The techniques you learn in hypnobirthing can be used no matter what path your birth takes. A friend said to me recently “I want to try hypnobirthing but I don’t want it to be a waste of time and money if I end up having another emergency c section”. Using hypnobirthing reduces the need for intervention but If a c section IS on the cards, I would say your hypnobirthing techniques are even MORE valuable and useful. It can still be a gentle, beautiful experience and something that is looked back on fondly.
Hypnobirthing teaches you how to use self hypnosis to take yourself into a state of deep relaxation. It incorporates breathing techniques, fear release using visualisations, positive birth affirmations, light touch massage and aromatherapy.
Hypnobirthing teaches you to feel positive about the birth of your baby. The way you feel about the birth can shape the early days of motherhood, the precious, sacred bonding days with your newborn, and without a doubt has a lasting effect on your mental health (another subject close to my heart).
I had two very different births. One that can probably be described as traumatic (pre-eclampsia, constant monitoring, all the drugs, epidural, episiotomy, forceps) and was the most beautiful thing in the world. And the other which was drama free, drug free, in the water and was the most beautiful thing in the world. I did not experience any pain with either labour or birth. My labour was powerful and intense at times. But I would not describe either of my labours or births as painful. Just thought I’d share a little of my experiences with you. And it is just that. My personal experience. It’s different for every woman.
It’s all about the right birth on the day. There is no such thing as a perfect birth. Or I could say; every birth IS perfect. You have not failed if you have an epidural. OK I’M SHOUTING NOW. You have not failed if you don’t have a “natural birth”. Giving birth is not an entry exam into motherhood. You cannot fail at it. Stop watching ‘One born every minute’. Stop listening to negative stories of birth – there are techniques taught in hypnobirthing to help tune this out. Stop doubting yourself. Your body and your baby know what to do. Trust them. OK I’ve stopped shouting now.
Hypnobirthing unlocks what is already there; your natural birthing instinct. Hypnobirthing teaches you to let those endorphins and the oxytocin flow. All you need is love, for the creation AND birthing of new life.
“It’s that loving, sexy vibe that puts the baby there in the first place, and the same loving, sexy vibe that will get the baby out” Quote taken from ‘Spiritual Midwifery’- Ina May Gaskin
I could talk about nipple twiddling here but I’ll spare you. But, seriously as long as your birth partner isn’t your mum, do it. And if you reach the big ‘O’ even better. You may want to wait until the midwives have stepped out of the room for that. Although, they probably wouldn’t bat an eyelid – more awesome women. The point is (there is a point); Do whatever makes you feel good. It does incredibly clever things to your birthing hormones and it will make your baby feel good too.
Giving birth could and should be the most uplifting, empowering, beautiful experience of your life as a woman. Well, anyway that’s how I would love every woman to feel.
Hypnobirthing has changed my life and I use the techniques every day to stay calm and be a more mindful, gentle parent. And when I need a bit of extra help, there’s always a bottle of prosecco in the fridge!
I don’t know how to end this. I’ve struggled to write without using emojis! I am forever grateful to hypnobirthing. I love women, we are magical.
If you are currently experiencing the fear of childbirth, please don’t go towards it thinking “I know it’s going to be a horrible experience, let’s just get it over and done with”. Find out a bit more about hypnobirthing and talk to Wendy of Hypnobirthing Gloucestershire, Beth from The Bump to Baby Chapter and Yvonne of Relaxed Birthing. All of whom have been so supportive of me wanting to be part of this industry-further evidence of the awesomeness of women!
Beccy is 34 years old and lives in Gloucestershire with partner Alex, daughter Poppy who is almost three, and Toby who just turned one. Beccy is currently studying hypnobirthing to become a practitioner to teach pregnant couples. If you would like to see lots of pics of her babies and some honest, but mostly positive, snippets of motherhood, follow her on Instagram.