Mums-to-be who are feeling apprehensive about labour are learning to take control of the situation and enjoy a more stress free birth with the help of a course combining hypnosis, relaxation and breathing techniques.
BETH Roche knows she was slightly irrational the first time she became pregnant and started thinking about the birth and what that day would hold.
She admits she was “petrified” of labour and says: “I was quite convinced I was going to die – that’s the extreme place that my head was at.”
It was husband Patrick who first suggested they look into a technique called HypnoBirthing® – The Mongan Method, after seeing something about it on the television.
Beth is open and frank – confessing that at first she was “fairly sceptical”.
“But we decided that if something was going to make me feel even the tiniest bit more positive about it all, then it had to be worth it,” she said.
It was to be a life-changing decision for Beth, as what she discovered on the four week course was to impact not only on the birth of her son Evan, now aged four, and later daughter Autumn, who is nearly one, but it would inspire her so much that she wanted to share the experience with others by teaching a course herself.
Beth said: “After we had finished the programme I could not wait to give birth – I was so excited. My perspective on everything had completely turned around.”
The basic ideas behind the programme are of simple hypnosis, relaxation and breathing techniques with the aim of achieving a less painful, quicker, more fear and stress-free labour, in which the couple feel more in control of what is going on.
Often women who have studied the course find they need no pain relief or after-care treatment and their baby arrives into the world in a calmer state which has implications for the whole of their early years.
Beth, aged 31, said: “It is a total education package, all focused around giving you a true understanding of what your body does with you and with your baby during birth.
“A lot of our normal understanding about labour is that it’s a really painful experience and we have just got to do anything we can to get through it but we re-examine that myth.
“We use deep relaxation and breathing techniques and we also help couples to define their own birthing preferences. By giving them the appropriate information they are able to make more informed choices, ask the right questions, and feel more in control and connected to what is going on rather than just being carried along on the conveyor belt of birth by the medical staff. I have found that armed with all this, even when couples find themselves faced with a difficult experience in the birth they feel more prepared and able to deal with the situation as it happens and more confident asking the questions to get what they want.”
Beth, from Ringinglow, has experienced the benefits for herself with the birth of her two children – moments she describes as the “most amazing” in her life.
And she has also heard about the positive impact for countless other couples who have taken part in the programme.
“Becoming a practitioner was the best thing I’ve ever done,” Beth, a former nursery teacher, said.
“Seeing the transformation in couples and then often hearing about their amazing birthing experiences is incredible.
“Birth is a crucial part of your baby’s life and also your life as a mum – I believe it sets the scene for the rest of their lives so to help people achieve a positive experience is something I feel really passionate about. Labour and birth should be a celebration of life, not just something that’s dismissed and shoved under the carpet.”
Laura Booker is one new mum who cannot speak highly enough of the technique and the programme she and partner Rowan Colver underwent with Beth. Their son Euan is now nine months old – a calm and contented baby, which she also puts down to the way he was brought into the world.
The 20-year-old from Park said: “When I was pregnant I was quite worried about birth trauma and the impact that could have on him. I wanted to ease that and I also wanted some power and control over my own birth.”
At first she dismissed the idea of a home birth – believing she was too young and inexperienced as this was her first child – but the course gave her the confidence to go forward with the idea.
As a holistic therapist, she also wanted to eliminate as many drugs as she could to achieve the most natural labour possible.
She believes that the programme helped her to achieve all these things – resulting in a happy birth for both her, Euan and Rowan.
“It was all over in about five hours – I was so relaxed I think that’s what made it so much faster,” she said.
“I was very comfortable, I didn’t need any medication or stitches, and I was full of energy afterwards.
“Euan was delivered straight onto my stomach and he was so peaceful and calm and really alert – again down to the way he was born I believe.
“I couldn’t have asked for more and I couldn’t recommend HypnoBirthing® more highly. People shouldn’t be put off by the time – I think some people might pick up negative connotations about not being in control or aware of what’s going on.
“But it’s not like that at all – with the techniques they teach you it’s exactly the opposite, because you are calm and feel in control you are very, very present in that moment.
“Today Euan is one of the happiest babies I know. I feel we have given our baby the best start in life – that’s our proudest achievement.”