Today marks exactly thirty-two weeks of my pregnancy…
I had originally planned to give birth to our baby in St Lucia, but my husband and I decided that returning to the UK would be a better option, and I flew to London at the start of November. Time moved quite slowly whilst I was in St Lucia – the Zika virus and intense heat had me largely housebound, and as a result I didn’t have many activities to fill my time. Since arriving in London I’ve been busy meeting friends and catching up on all the things I missed whilst I was living abroad. When I moved abroad it was the small things I missed the most: Shopping for all my favourite foods at my local supermarket, taking walks in my local park, and the changing of the seasons. The cool UK weather has certainly made pregnancy much more comfortable – taking long walks in nature is such a simple pleasure.
Pav is still working in St Lucia and plans to fly to London for the birth in January. He’s only allowed to take three weeks off, so we’ve decided to hire a Doula to help me through my labour and the birth in the event he isn’t there. I decided early in my pregnancy that I wanted to use hypnobirthing techniques during labour. My Doula is a trained hypnotherapist and fully supports this. When I tell people I plan to hypnobirth they often ask me if I intend to spend labour in some sort of trance. I imagine this highly amusing misconception has been brought about by that dodgy Paul Mckenna show in the nineties! Others associate hypnobirthing with the sole purpose of achieving a natural birth. Whilst hypnobirthing advocates certainly promote and encourage the idea of a natural birth, this isn’t the ultimate goal of hypnobirthing. Hypnobirthing is a state of deep relaxation, achieved through controlled breathing and meditation. It encourages parents to educate themselves on the process of labour and birth, facilitating greater awareness, and as a consequence, helps to alleviate fear and panic. It treats the birthing process as a natural and spiritual one, rather than the highly medicalised event it has become today. It asks women to believe that their bodies are fully capable of birthing their babies and that birth is something which women do, rather than something which happens to them. Some women will practice hypnobirthing techniques from the start of their pregnancies but still ask their doctor or midwife for an epidural in labour. Others plan to have a natural birth, but their labours do not progress as intended, and as a result their babies are delivered by emergency cesarean section. Hypnobirthing does not deem these women failures. Hypnobirthing aims to empower women in all circumstances, so they may approach their situation from a position of calm confidence.
My hospital offers women two options; a birthing centre led by midwives, and a delivery ward offering consultant-led care. I have chosen the midwife-led centre which offers a more holistic approach and minimal intervention. I would also like to have a water birth and this isn’t available on the consultant-led unit. I’m preparing myself with three sessions of meditation a day. I do a mindfulness meditation at the start of the day which focuses solely on the breath and calming the mind. At lunchtime I complete an analytical meditation where I examine any areas of tension in my life that I need to let go of. I finish the day with a long guided hypnobirthing meditation that relaxes the mind in preparation for labour and birth. I am also practising the breathing techniques which my Doula gave me for the different stages of labour. More than anything, I think a positive mindset is the most important tool in overcoming life’s challenges and I express gratitude every day that my body is healthy and doing such a wonderful job of growing and nourishing my unborn baby.
I’m interested to hear from other mums on how they prepared for labour and birth, and other mums-to-be on how they’re getting ready for the big day – but positive stories only please! 🙂