It really was more a case of knowing the type of birth I didn’t want that led me to the decision that I’d try for a natural birth. I have a total fear of the whole needle into your spine thing. So that really put me off the idea of wanting an epidural. Also, knowing you can’t feel any contractions and the increased risk of tearing or having an episiotomy concerned me, too. In my job I’ve waxed hundreds of pregnant clients and heard hundreds of birth stories so I knew that the best-laid plans can change.
“You are so aware of the responsibility you have carrying this tiny human that I became healthier than I would usually be. It was then that I decided I wanted to try a natural birth. This led me to choose the Domino Community Midwife scheme in Holles Street. The midwives there are pro natural birth and very much about a holistic approach. We were referred to Carmel Flaherty, a midwife in Holles Street that does hypnobirthing courses. At around week 35 we went and did a day course. Before the course Carmel had sent me a book and a CD. The CD has the hypno affirmations and a meditation on it.
As my due date approached, I was excited and very much looking forward to it all starting. I awoke on the Sunday morning with very gentle cramps, like period pain. As the day went on they were more regular so we began timing them. Emily from the community midwives came to our home to examine me. It was at around 7.30pm then and it turned out I was 4-6cm dilated and in full labour. Even then I was totally comfortable, I was relaxing in bed and had the hypno CD playing. I was in and out of the shower and kept in active positions, which helped.
Then for the transition stage my body just took over. Once I went with it, it was manageable. We got settled into the delivery room at around 8.30pm and Cooper was born at half past midnight, weighing 9lb 2oz.
After checks the following morning we were discharged and home at lunchtime. It worked wonderfully for me. My baby had a calm and easy arrival into the world. Whether people believe in it or not, I think hypnobirthing keeps you relaxed, calm, and in control enough that you can enjoy your labour. And I think that’s worth a try. Having said that, if water births were an option at the time, I would have done that. Maybe for the next one!
Ellen Kavanagh, owner of Waxperts salon, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin.
Ellen’s words and photos first published in the Irish Independent on Monday 27 May 2013. They are reproduced here with her kind permission.
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