I had never thought of myself as a maternal person, or rather, not until everyone around me started having children. Then it was clear that this was something we wanted, that we would begin to build our family.
We were lucky enough to fall pregnant quite quickly, and after the initial joy, elation and gratitude, there followed a crippling sense of fear and dread. I was terrified of giving birth, of how my body would cope with such trauma. I was afraid of the pain and I hated the idea of not being in control.
My mum had had a difficult time giving birth to me and it had taken her a long time to recover emotionally and physically. It seemed like a rational conclusion that the same would be true for me. I just assumed it would be awful.
When you’re pregnant everyone you meet wants to tell you their birth stories, and more often than not, their horrifying birth stories. But one friend told me that she had used hypnobirthing to keep calm and grounded during her labour and birth, and taken nothing but a couple of paracetamol for pain relief. This seemed utterly alien to me – the idea that not only did it not hurt much, but that she had actually managed to enjoy the birth of her baby.
I read the Marie Mongan book, Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method, and my whole outlook changed. I used the techniques and I was learning to relax after work each evening and I felt completely connected to my baby. I wasn’t afraid of her anymore. I felt stronger, more knowledgeable, more in control. I was certain that I could do this, and do it well. Even the language I used to talk about birth changed. I was able to unpick all the medical jargon and change my vocabulary to incorporate softer, more positive terminology. All of this helped me to believe that the birth of my baby was perfectly natural, and perfectly possible.
Labour began and I remember feeling as if I had a little tummy pain and like I needed the loo. It was only uncomfortable to lie down and so I kept moving and walking around the house, and had a wonderful long shower. I used what I had learnt in my pregnancy yoga classes to feel more comfortable and to help with my breathing. I found I was actually enjoying the surges and the power they gave me. I knew with each surge I was closer to meeting her. My husband was with me throughout and that emotional support from a partner or another loved one is so important.
The surges came faster and stronger and I was able to use the surge breathing and calm breathing I had practiced in my classes. Still I experienced the surges as pressure rather than pain. I spent some time in the birth pool and remember asking how I would know when to ‘push’. The midwife reassured me that I would know, and rather than being afraid, I trusted her, and trusted my body. Once I started using my birth breathing and began to breathe her down using each surge, it became clear the baby was back to back and struggling a little to move down. But I remained completely calm, focused only on my breathing.
Flora was born on a March morning in 2013. My labour was only 7 hours in total and it was a wonderful, happy and fulfilling experience.
With my second daughter, things moved pretty quickly. She almost arrived over a filet o’ fish in McDonald’s with my mum! I called my husband and asked him to come home, before calling him back and telling him to meet me at the hospital! I laboured quietly and calmly, breathing through each surge, before my mum finally asked the midwives to get me a room before I gave birth in the corridor.
Rosie’s arrival was so fast that I know I would have been frightened and stressed if I hadn’t had the techniques I had learned through hypnobirthing to draw on. For both me and my husband, the birthing affirmations, breathing techniques, massage and mindfulness we learnt during our birth preparation were a real source of comfort, strength and empowerment.
My background is in new business development so Tutum Birthing represents a real career shift for me. But it is something I feel hugely passionate about. It is important to me to educate expectant parents about the myths that still pervade about labour and birth. It should not be about fear, anxiety, stress or pain. I found a sense of true empowerment and calm through my practice of hypnobirthing, and I want to help other mums and dads to do the same.
I also study breastfeeding so I can work as a volunteer to help women who are struggling to breastfeed. I have an entirely non-judgemental approach and will work with women to find the best solution for both them and their baby. We all want to be the best mothers we can be. I hope through Tutum Birthing, I can help women to achieve that.