Caesarean awareness month: how hypnobirthing worked for me

Liz Sheehan and a newborn George.
Liz Sheehan and a newborn George. 

This piece isn't about how the rate is too high or making any woman feel bad for the way she birthed her baby (anyone who says "so long as your baby was healthy" needs to seriously shut up).

It's about letting people know that it is possible to have a positive caesarean birth that is as close to a natural delivery as possible. I know this because I had one. My answer – hypnobirthing.

Hypnobirthing is not wearing crochet clothes and performing hand-binding ceremonies while birthing in the bush, nor is it clucking like a chicken with Daryl Somers in front of a room full of gullible idiots.

Liz Sheehan and George, a year down the track.
Liz Sheehan and George, a year down the track. 

It's about removing the fear around birth and empowering women with the knowledge and techniques they need to have a positive experience, no matter what path their birth may take.

Women have caesareans for a lot of reasons. They choose to, they require an emergency caesarean or a complication presents itself before labour starts and a caesarean is the safest delivery method.

I fell into the latter category. I was planning to have a natural birth using hypnobirthing. I suffered terrible anxiety during pregnancy and the techniques I learnt in the hypnobirthing class helped me feel relaxed and calm about giving birth. I felt in control and empowered. I knew I could birth my baby without fear.

After an uneventful nine months, it became evident at the end of my pregnancy that I would require a caesarean due to complications.

I was devastated.

I didn't want to have my arms strapped down so I couldn't hold my baby fresh from my womb, I didn't want to just be shown my baby wrapped up as I was wheeled into recovery and he went elsewhere. I didn't want the surgical procedure of a caesarean to mean the birth of my baby would be sterile and impersonal.

Advertisement

I revisited my hypnobirthing notes and consulted with the midwives, my hypnobirthing practitioner and my sister (who is a midwife).  I knew what I could ask for in a caesarean to have as close to a natural birth as possible. This is how the caesarean birth of my son played out in positive and calm way.

When the spinal block was be put in, I listened to the hypnobirthing relaxation tracks (these are self-hypnosis tracks) in my headphones and my sister did light touch massage (which releases endorphins). I continued to play a relaxation track about being in a butterfly garden while they were performing the surgery. My obstetrician kept leaning over the drapes to check on me and reassure me – but then he realised I was trying to go deep into self hypnosis and said jokingly "I bet you want me to shut up now!"

I really have no memory of those first minutes, as I was so deep into self-hypnosis. In my minds eye, I was walking down some stairs in a beautiful butterfly garden. I was not in a brightly lit operating room.

My obstetrician leant over the drapes between my chest and stomach and snapped me out of my hypnosis and said excitedly – "are you ready see your baby?" And he said to the theatre staff, "lower the drapes"… and I saw my baby's head coming out and then the body! It was amazing. The pediatrician took him and put him straight on my chest like I had asked. Both my arms were free to hold him to my chest. He just lay there – us staring into each others eyes. I felt like I had known him for years. Everyone in theatre commented on how calm he was while being born and in the time afterwards.

I was taken to recover in my room with my son still skin to skin on my chest. There I fed my calm newborn son for the first time.

Even though I didn't get the original birth I planned for, I still had a beautiful birth experience resulting in a healthy baby boy. It was a far cry from the impersonal scary procedure I thought a caesarean would be. 

I had the best birth possible given the situation I was handed thanks to hypnobirthing.

Even if you have all the intentions in the world to have a natural birth, things can change. I urge all pregnant women or women planning pregnancy to educate themselves in all birth outcomes including caesarean section. And also for women to write up their birth preferences and discuss them with their midwife and health care providers.

"Feeling in control, respected and part of the decision making process is so important no matter how you birth your baby," hypnobirthing practitioner Pip Wynn-Owen says.

Women deserve to birth without fear and have the best birth possible given their situation. Even if this situation involves a caesarean.

April is Caesarean Awareness Month.

If you are looking for support after having a caesarean or would like to know about your options and rights for your next birth after a caesarean – contact Perth based support group Birthrites - http://www.birthrites.org/

Comments