I first met the lovely Nicky at the beginning of September when I launched my Pregnancy Relaxation classes. She was very early in her pregnancy and even though she was smiley and lovely she seemed so anxious. I can genuinely say the transformation from that nervous woman I met back then to the confident, positive, blooming FABULOUS superwoman that Nicky is now, is one of the most incredible I've seen!
When I asked Nicky if she'd like to write me a birth story, as I knew what a MASSIVE impact and inspiration it would be to other Mummas, I wasn't expecting this. Less of a birth story, more of an awesome journey through her pregnancy; live it with her and see her confidence, positivity and trust in herself flourish and thrive...Argh, enough of my rambling....She says it all so much better herself! It's a longun' but stick with it, Nicky has done herself proud...
My name is Nicky, I’m 35 and when I met Georgie, I was around 15 weeks pregnant with my second child. My first “baby” was at that point coming up to age four.In normal life, I’m a pretty relaxed laid back person-I’m an intensive care nurse by profession.
As a bit of background, my first baby was born by C-Section following a 30 hour labour during which I thought I had Pre-Eclampsia (during the second pregnancy and reading my notes, it was actually pregnancy induced hypertension-high blood pressure but no other aspects of Pre-Eclampsia). My mum had also had very high blood pressure with both my brother and I although had short normal deliveries with us both.
After having my first child, my blood pressure remained high and I had to be readmitted to hospital on day 7 for management of this and also as my daughter had lost lots of weight. I was breastfeeding up until this time but due to her weight loss and my BP I stopped on day 9-I feel that my milk didn’t come in
(I was well supported in hospital and at home) and by this point was utterly exhausted as was breastfeeding then pumping and having to do this on a 3hrly regime I had no time to rest or eat or take care of myself. I went onto formula feeding and my BP was controlled with medications and I was discharged home. Both my baby and I did very well from this point.
So when I met Georgie at 15 weeks my main concerns were…
Will I have preeclampsia again?
Will I need another C-Section?
Would an elective section be best?
Did my stress levels contribute or cause my high BP?
Can I do anything about that?
At this point in my pregnancy, I was still on the surface pretty relaxed but was having lots of these negative thoughts particularly at night time and they were continuously circling round in my head with no real way of knowing the outcomes.
I saw Georgie advertising her relaxation classes on Facebook and joined the classes as felt this may help my stress levels and therefore my blood pressure.
In the classes, as well as the guided relaxation, Georgie explored our thoughts about our pregnancies/fears/thoughts about the forthcoming birth and any other issues we were having. She then included them in the relaxation.
I found that I was more relaxed and postivie even after the first session-I was able to slow my thoughts down at night, but found that they would start circling again prior to the next session.
I work shifts, as a nurse so was not as regular an attender as I’d like to have been of these weekly sessions. At around 18weeks I had an appointment to discuss my birth options at the hospital-I found out at this point that I had PIT rather than Pre-Eclampsia. The midwife who I saw was encouraging that I would be able to have a VBAC as I’d got to 9cms during my last labour. They were supportive however; I was still apprehensive about the whole process and pretty anxious.
One of my main issues was that I was really keen this time round to be able to breastfeed as felt quite guilty about not having managed to last time-I was worried that the high BP and stress had all contributed to my poor milk supply and was worried that the long labour and then C-Section had all contributed to this.
During the relaxation classes, Georgie had mentioned about the hypnobirthing classes and I was very open to this as felt this may really help with my stress levels, internalised fears/anxiety/worry and thus hopefully help reduce my BP. I was not too sure how my partner would feel about it…but after talking it through, he said he would support me and we booked onto a course.
The course was excellent and 100% changed how I felt about my pregnancy, the upcoming birth…everything! I felt relaxed, empowered and genuinely excited about not just the baby arriving but how he’d get here and was actually looking forward to that part of the journey. For anyone that knows me, this is a huge change!
The information Georgie provided was so good-I really felt like I understood the birth process so much more.
Looking back at my previous birth experience, I could see how little I knew then, how much I just went with the medical professionals (not that this was necessarily bad, just interesting to see the sort of spiral of interventions I had and how it followed the patterns Georgie talked about). Particularly, learning about the hormones involved was really interesting and looking back, probably really impacted on my breastfeeding and the reasons that didn’t work out for me.
At the time of the course, I was hoping to have a VBAC at hospital. During the course, as I say, the role of the hormones became really apparent-and the thought of a calm, home environment, became more and more attractive. I didn’t think I would be “allowed” to choose this option, due to previous section and the BP issues. Georgie explained that it potentially could and opened my mind up to thinking it was a possibility. I was 32 ish weeks pregnant at this point, so again, wasn’t sure if I could change my mind at this stage.
After giving it some thought and talking it through with my partner, we actually decided that this would be our birth option of choice. I talked it through with my midwife at the next appointment and was really pleased again with how supportive they were-they obviously had to tell me about the increased risks with my history but were supportive in my choice and did all they could to enable me to make this decision. They came and did a homebirth visit and the information they gave on the practical aspects was also really helpful and useful. I felt empowered, confident and still really excited about the upcoming birth.
I finished work at 35 weeks so had a bit more time then-I was continuing to attend the weekly relaxation classes as often as I could and then particularly after stopping work, tried to do the MP3s if not daily every other day-15mins is quite easy to fit into the day, even running around after a 4 year old. I even did the 15min one at work a couple of times in my breaks! I got myself some ear phones too and then as it was on my phone, did it while waiting for appointments and things-sometimes due to the busy environment, didn’t get fully into deep relaxation, but definitely found it calming and helped settle me and focus me if things were getting a little hectic or if I had any worries-but by this point, I really didn’t! I was just looking confidently forward to the birth. Georgie even remarked in class how different I was compared to when I started the classes.
I found the 15minute relaxation one the most useful-I think because it was the one I was most familiar with and because it fitted so well with my life. The birth preparation one was also good but I think I just fell in love with the 15min one and enjoyed taking myself on the familiar journey to my happy safe place-I would really look forward to doing it!
Georgie talked about the affirmations on the course, and at first I thought…hmmm…that’s really not me…however, on the lead up to the birth and after looking at the ones on her Pinterest, I did actually look at them daily and created my own Pinterest board. I never thought they would, but the helped me feel really positive and put me in a great mood and frame of mind.
My friend made me my own set of affirmation cards for using during my birth and putting up around the house-they were really beautiful. This was before Georgie had developed hers!
Hypnobirthing really changed my whole pregnancy experience for the better-the positive thought processes which the deep relaxation opened up helped me to keep a positive outlook towards everything-I slept better, I felt less aches and pains-I really enjoyed and embraced the pregnancy. Loads of people commented on this-friends and family.
I never had the spirals of negative thoughts that I’d had in early pregnancy and feel this definitely contributed. In my first pregnancy, as the birth due date came closer, I became more anxious and stressed and my emotions were very up and down-in fairness, we moved house at 8months last time and it was my first birth/baby so I’m sure this didn’t help…plus having a 4year old to focus my attention on this time probably helped to distract me...
I really do believe that the hypnobirthing made my pregnancy so much more enjoyable. My attitude towards birth had completely changed.
During the last few weeks of pregnancy, I was having weekly blood pressure checks. Unfortunately, despite feeling so relaxed and using the hypnobirthing techniques/MP3s, my blood pressure started to rise and by 39weeks it had gone up enough that I was admitted and commenced on medication to control this. I luckily had no other signs of Pre-Eclampsia.
At this point, I talked to the medical professionals and expressed my desire to have a homebirth, hoping it would reduce my stress levels and thus my blood pressure. I spoke to a number of people including the supervisor of midwives who was very informed and very aware of the benefits of homebirth (they have an excellent home birth rate/record at my hospital), however, even she said she would really not advise a homebirth.
I was really disappointed by this-I felt like if I had to go into hospital, even with a VBAC, there was a good change my labour would go as my first birth, as the hormones wouldn’t get a chance to do their thing-I really didn’t want to go through another long labour and C-section as felt this would significantly reduce my chances of successfully breastfeeding afterwards. The midwives explained that due to getting to 9cm last time, the next time should be quicker and better.
I was not convinced and so did another big swing in plan!
I opted for an elective C-section-my thought behind this was that then I would be in control, my body would be “well-er” and less stressed afterwards having not had to go through labour first (I was not convinced I wouldn’t need another section) and then that could mean my BP would be better controlled and then my milk supply would be ok.
Although this is clearly not the hypnobirthing way-I still felt it helped, as I felt confident and empowered to make this decision and communicate it to the health care professionals. Again, they were supportive in this choice and throughout I felt listened to and respected.
So…. I had a date booked for around 5 days time.
I continued to do the relaxation MP3s and felt relaxed and confident going into the birth and on the day, I was not overly worried. The course had given me lots of extra information about choosing a “woman centred” C-Section. I was able to ask for immediate skin to skin, milking of cord blood and I also did birth canal seeding too.
So although I had a fully medicalised birth, I had some elements of control over it and felt that I was still making the best choice for my baby and myself in combination.I didn’t put the MP3s on during the C-Section but the staff were all really calm and relaxed and we had the radio on and I had my best friend there as my birth support.
The section went fine and all was well with the baby-he was put on me straight after which was magical.
Initially post op I felt pretty rough-the anaesthetic combined with lots of adrenaline I guess! However, I felt more well than after my previous section and was up out of bed by the evening, less tired and needing fewer painkillers.
My BP was still pretty high and I continued on medication-this is slightly unusual as normally the delivery of the baby resolves it completely.
My baby latched on well and seemed to be having wet nappies and poo-ing ok!
However-the next week didn’t really go to plan! My BP stayed very high and I was put on more and more medication, I had to stay in hospital, my milk again didn’t really come in and my baby had nitrites in his urine (the brick dust in the nappy) so was dehydrated and lost weight despite appearing to have a good latch. This made me feel worried and stressed and coincided with day 3 so I was a bit of an emotional mess! Having had a similar experience with my first baby, we decided to go onto formula feeding -I do feel bad about this however, with the hypnobirthing, I feel I did try my best to prepare. Having looked into it further, possibly the medications may have affected my supply? I could have tried harder and pumped and all those things but my blood pressure was still sky high at this point and I just felt like I needed my energy to get myself well and get home to my other child too!
We were discharged after a week and my BP is gradually coming down, my son is doing brilliantly and we are loving life as a family of four. We have had a few issues where he had colic but that settled quite quickly.
Overall, the Mellow Mumma’s Birth preparation & hypnobirthing helped me immensely during my pregnancy-with how things turned out, I guess less so in the actual birth, but in terms of empowering me in my choices, still I feel it had a huge positive impact on that. I would highly recommend it as it made the whole process really joyful.
In terms of how I feel about the birth now….well….I still am pleased with my choices, however, as the planned C-section made no difference to my blood pressure, maybe I should have opted for a VBAC as its better for the baby but I had no real way of knowing that beforehand and really did feel by eliminating the stress and adrenaline aspect, my BP would be improved thus enhancing the feeding.
No one knows why the BP goes high in pregnancy and again I felt that it was my internalised worry manifesting in physical symptoms but I was the calmest and most relaxed ever after the hypnobirthing course so feel that to some extent at least this was unfortunately out of my control. I am so glad to have done the hypnobirthing as after my previous birth I had guilt as felt the worry contributed to my increased BP and this time round I really feel I did everything I could to reduce this.
We are only planning to have two children and as I don’t really feel that I “gave birth” either time, I do feel a little sad about that-especially after reading all the amazing positive birth stories and affirmations -it is something I feel I would have liked to experience…
But at the end of the day, I have two amazingly beautiful children and had the most fabulous pregnancy, which especially as it was my last one, is incredible and makes such a great bond with my baby.
I would 110% if not 200% recommend hypnobirthing to anyone, whatever type of birth you are planning or end up having as it really gives you great inner strength and just a brilliant positive, informed and empowered outlook.
Thanks Georgie xx