Birth Stories (Click ‘Read More’ for the full story)

Francesca and Robin’s story (March, 2016)

“I just wanted to say a huge thank you for everything you taught us with the Wise Hippo programme. I have been recommending Hypnobirthing to anyone who will listen!”(Read More...)

My mum was especially impressed. She said she knew I was having surges when I called her to say I was having a show as I was breathing heavily. I was so relaxed I didn’t even realise myself. I went to bed listening to one of the tracks and at the end I had to get up as I could no longer lie down.

Amelia arrived quickly but calmly at 2:45am on Monday. Although I didn’t have the water birth I had hoped for it was the right birth on the day. The midwife we had was unfamiliar with Hypnobirthing and she left it up Robin to talk me through and only stepped in when needed. It was very empowering and Robin did an amazing job!

She was born 55 minutes after arriving at the hospital as I was already 8cm dilated. The triage midwife didn’t believe I was in labour until I said something was happening between my legs!

The midwife who delivered Amelia was really impressed with my birthing position. It was the position I had used over the birthing ball when practising the massage with Robin. It all came very naturally.

Thank you again for everything. It’s actually changed my life. I’m a much calmer person all round and I’m still listening to the MP3’s to help with breast feeding!

A Pair of Christmas Birth Stories (December, 2015)

“I just wanted to say Merry Christmas & I gave birth to a beautiful healthy girl on Xmas eve, 12 hours in total from first surge to the end. Not a single drug the whole time and birthed/breathed her out into the water. It was a beautiful experience, the hospital staff were 100% supportive of our preferences. I want to thank you for all your help with the Wise Hippo Hypnobirthing preparation, I think it was the main thing that kept me comfortable and all the breathing techniques whilst not focusing on any pain But on everything being normal and natural.”

“Merry Christmas Joan! I wanted to let you know that we breathed our baby Boy out today Christmas Day at home, 8lb 6oz arriving at 13.38 in the pool! Such a different, magical, calm experience to our first time around. Thank you so much for your support and guidance over the last few months with The Wise Hippo birth preparation classes. I hope you are enjoying your festive time with the family.”

Poppy, Hertfordshire (December, 2015)

“Thank you so much for everything – I loved all the reflexology sessions and I’m sure that the last one helped to get me on my way as I started intermittent tightenings on Wednesday.”(Read More...)

Baby boy arrived at 2.51 this afternoon 14 days past his Edd.Weighing a healthy 9lb 8! I had started surges every 10 mins before they induced last night so thankfully it only took a nudge. We had a straight forward delivery with no pain relief aside from paracetamol. The midwife was absolutely amazing. Feeling knackered but elated! The hypnobirthing was brilliant Name to follow. Thank you so much for everything – I loved all the reflexology sessions and I’m sure that the last one helped to get me on my way as I started intermittent tightenings on Wednesday.

The Lister CLU midwife was amazing and followed my birth plan to the letter.

Thanks for all of your help and support.

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 19.47.55Tory and Alex’s story (September 2015)

“Baby James born at 37 weeks and 2 days on Thursday September 3rd at 8:02pm in the birthing pool on the MLU at Lister.
Choosing hypnobirthing with Joan was the best decision we made after finding out we had a baby on the way. We thought it might help me adopt a slightly more positive and calm mindset during labour, but our hypnobirthing journey was so much more than that.”(Read More...)

Hypnobirthing was an incredible experience from the first minutes with Joan. It gave Alex and I quality time together every week, thinking about and bonding with our baby. The sessions were 2 hours of purely thinking and talking about our baby and I felt they brought us closer together as a couple. We also did the exercises outside of class, which was really special time for us. The classes also raised a number of things for Alex and I to think about in advance of the birth. During our hypnobirthing course I felt my whole mindset was transformed, I realized birth could be very different from what is so often portrayed in the media, I felt empowered to make the medical decisions necessary if needed (and the impact these could have on the birth) and above all I felt so much more positive and confident about the birth itself – I was actually looking forward to it.

The birth was everything we could have hoped for, a totally amazing, life changing experience. I believe that to a large degree nature determines the course of any birth and that us mum’s to be relieve control temporarily and try and allow it to happen as best we can. My pregnancy was not without complications (I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and group b strep), although fortunately these did not prevent our plan to have a waterbirth on the midwife led unit at the Lister. However, I also believe that the mum’s state of mind and the support she receives from her partner can transform a birth.

At 5am on a Thursday 3rd September I was woken by what I can only describe as strong period pains, as I got out of bed part of my waters seemed to break. I wasn’t in any significant pain but called the hospital as we’d been directed in the case of waters breaking. The hospital suggested we come in, but rather then rushing, we took our time getting ready – I had a long hot shower, we got our things together calmly and Alex even went out and bought food to take to the hospital. We got to the hospital at 11am and they said that labour may be underway even though our baby would be three weeks early (but not premature). We were given the option of staying at the hospital or going home. We decided to go home, a decision I credit entirely to our hypnobirthing course which encourages spending time at home relaxing as this helps make labour more comfortable and it also gave us the confidence to take labour in our stride. We eventually got home at about 3:30pm and soon after this the surges became stronger and much more regular. By 6pm the surges were one every minute and we decided to return to hospital. When we arrived the midwives had already filled the birthing pool for me and surprised me by saying the baby would arrive very soon. I got straight into the pool and was amazed by the impact the warm water had – it was instantly relaxing and made me so much more comfortable. Combined with some gas and air the labour went quickly and at 8:02pm our beautiful baby son James was born. Before our hypnobirthing course, a waterbirth really didn’t appeal to me – but again this was a brilliant decision and transformed the end of labour for me. Giving birth to our son in the water was incredible and such a calm, peaceful experience.

Just before getting back in the car to return hospital was the hardest part of my labour (I had no idea at the time, but realize this is probably where I went through transition) and Alex quickly took control, talking me through each surge and I regained my confidence. Both then and in the car we had our hypnobirthing music playing and Al continued to talk me through each surge. I felt hynobirthing gave us a structure and something to focus on, a mindset to be able to go with the flow as nature took its course and a strong and positive attitude. I enjoyed the birth so much that in the hours afterwards – I turned to Alex and said I want lots more babies!

I couldn’t recommend hypnobirthing with Joan highly enough – I think choosing the right hypnobirthing coach is really important as you need to connect with them and trust them. I firmly our experience with Joan transformed our pregnancy and birth experience. I have since used a lot of the techniques to help me relax during the more challenging moments of looking after a newborn and I’ve found them just as effective.

We will never forget Joan and the experience we had with her or our amazing birth. Thank you Joan.

Alex’s story

It was Tory’s idea to do hynobirthing and I was keen to do anything that might make her labour easier. I found having a class to go to made me get away from work and make time to think about the birth, our baby, and how Tory was doing – more than I probably would have done if we hadn’t done the classes. There was loads of great information in the class about how I could help during pregnancy and labour, I really didn’t like the thought of just watching while Tory went through labour on her own. I found the hynobirthing so helpful – at times during pregnancy and during the actual labour I was able to remind Tory of things we had covered and it really helped keep her calm and relaxed, rather than not knowing what to say. It also helped me keep things in perspective and stay useful during labour; going food shopping, packing the car, driving to the hospital, telling the midwives how Tory’s labour had been progressing – plus giving her emotional support throughout. We also did NCT classes and although they were good (lots of good information, meeting new people), the emphasis on mindset and the more emotional side of things of hynobirthing sets it apart – it had a wonderful effect on Tory and I couldn’t recommend it enough. Joan herself has been amazing – a very calming presence, she filled me and Tory with confidence and if she had been available we would have had her with us as a doula (in the end we didn’t have a doula). I will encourage the rest of my mates who have babies on the way to stay open minded and give it a go.

Dan and Samantha, Hertfordshire (April, 2015)

“Thanks for all the tips and wisdom and calmness you imparted on us both during our meetings. That whole outlook was incredibly useful for us last week.” (Read More...)

Though it wasn’t a dream pool or bedroom birth – maybe it will be some help by virtue of it being a bit more rough and ready! – as I feel lots of births are. Here’s our Hippo birthing story from my side… A bit long to use in full perhaps but feel free to edit me!

Sam’s waters broke early – around 2 weeks before due date – and so lots of our careful planning for a natural birth was forced to one side, as we suddenly had an imposed time limit: that if contractions hadn’t started in 24 hours then we would be induced.

Two things weren’t in our favour there; firstly because we were two weeks early – the cervix wasn’t particularly ready to start surging! – and secondly, a countdown clock has never been conducive to calm for anyone.

We did have a moment of feeling that this was ‘unfair’, but the other big idea from hippo birthing helped here – that you should be ready to deal with all the twists and turns that might come along, and take them calmly in your stride.

We went home and had a good 8 hours of very ‘Hippo’ style relaxation. Watched some favourite movies (including Sam’s all time favourite which is One Fine Day), cooked a nice meal (with extra carbs), lots of massage, candles, and listened to some recordings. While also trying not to get over-excited about what was happening!

Contractions did begin, but they were never very strong. We were in a ward at the Lister with lots of other ladies in similar stages… Mostly waiting to be induced. We think maybe it was something to do with the lunar eclipse triggering people’s waters!

On the ward our Hippo ‘outlook’ gave us a definite advantage over some other couples – purely as a coping mechanism. We were generally cheerful and excited as we waited, while others treated the wait more like an annoyance – like they were queueing to get in somewhere.

We did have our wobbles, especially about being induced – an apprehension about the process, and also a slight feeling of unfairness – that we’d done so much to avoid that, and weren’t getting a fair crack at it because of hospital protocol about early waters breaking. At these moments I’d remind Sam of your advice to keep positive and calm and take all these twists in your stride. And that the approaching induction only really meant one thing that mattered: that we were now really close to meeting our baby! That really helped.

During labour we did several things that we wouldn’t have done without your advice. Firstly it helped that the rooms at Lister are super relaxing anyway; but we listened to music, and had lots of nibbles on hand (though appetite for these soon disappeared).

As labouring intensified some of these techniques became secondary to just a primal kind of ‘must keep it going’ attitude; but again birthing positions were all from our Hippo handbook. Most of the later labouring was done on all fours, firstly ‘hugging ‘ an exercise ball, and then at the end, for the home straight, up on the bed, leaning over the headboard.

And then out she came! We had lots of skin to skin and I cut the cord! (I wasn’t planning to but I was kind of peer pressured to by Sam and the midwife)

Sam was amazing through the whole thing, and Phoebe couldn’t be lovelier, and I couldn’t be prouder of both.

Emma and Ian, Hertfordshire (February, 2015)

“I gave birth to my second daughter 3 weeks ago and had such an amazing service from Joan Mills, I wanted to share with you.” (Read More...)

After a failed home birth with my first daughter, my dream of a home pool birth seemed almost impossible but I was delighted that it became a reality. I had seen Joan for reflexology during my first pregnancy and this time also did hypnobirthing with her. I had never considered having a dula before but as the weeks progressed I grew more and more keen on the idea. I wasn’t sure if my husband would feel pushed aside but far from it, he was actually quite relieved as on the day he was so busy filling the pool (which ended up being quite last minute as the midwife wasn’t convinced I was as far along as I was-testament to hypnobirthing) he wouldn’t have been able to support me too.

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The confidence, reassurance, and female touch during my labour was priceless and I know I would not have remained as calm without Joan there.

Joan is clearly passionate about what she does and truly embraces the journey that she takes with her clients, we feel very lucky to have met her and have her play such a huge part in our very memorable birth.

Steph and Dan, Hertfordshire (February, 2015)

“All of the information we received on the Hypnobirthing course, enabled us to make more informed choices, but at the forefront of our birth plan was the wellbeing of our baby.” (Read More...)

Thank you for giving us the confidence with The Wise Hippo birth programme that we could birth calmly and confidently.

Evelyn is perfect and although the birth was long (Sunday morning – Tuesday evening) we got by using the breathing techniques and gas and air.

The midwife kept commenting on how calm I was and how calm the baby was during birth. This has definitely helped out Evelyn over her first couple of days, with her being amazing. We would recommend this course to anyone looking for the skills to help yourself on the big day.

Gizem and Alper, Hertfordshire (January, 2015)

“We cannot recommend the hypnobirthing course with Joan highly enough! Thanks to hypnobirthing techniques I had a wonderful enjoyable pregnancy.” (Read More...)

Prior to doing the HypnoBirthing course I was fearful and even thinking about having a planned c-section.

With the breathing techniques and mp3 I gained confidence and learned how to be calm and relaxed during a busy pregnancy with work commitments.

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My birth experience deviated from my plan and after having surges for 3 days we ended up having c-section. My husband and I used all the hypnobirthing techniques during those 3 days of labour and It was such a wonderful support and distraction for us both. It was still a positive way to experience our baby’s labour and arrival into the world, both of us remaining calm and in control, despite all the unexpected special circumstances…

We are so glad to have done HypnoBirthing and to have met Joan who has been a great support whenever we contacted her.

Max and Midori, Hertfordshire (January, 2015)

“We really feel although it was not straightforward on the day that the hypnobirthing classes and techniques helped us remain calm and because the techniques allowed me to get fully dilated, we avoided a c section, for which we are incredibly grateful.” (Read More...)

Labour progressed very well with the hypnobirthing techniques. Midwives started to worry about baby’s heart beat when I was at 4cm dilated so I was transferred to consultant led unit. I used the gas and air and continued with all my hypnobirthing techniques.

I got to 9 cm dilated while they monitored me regularly but the medical staff were concerned about baby’s heart beat dipping during surges so suggested we were prepared for theatre.

They gave me an epidural but because of the hypnobirthing techniques I remained calm and continued to progress so by the time I got to theatre I was fully dilated and they were able to do a ventouse rather than c section.

It turned out to be completely the right course of action as the cord was around baby’s neck twice. Things are progressing well now, we are still at the hospital but should be able to go home on Thursday. Max was incredible throughout and such an amazingly supportive partner. We really feel although it was not straightforward on the day that the hypnobirthing classes and techniques helped us remain calm and because the techniques allowed me to get fully dilated, we avoided a c section, for which we are incredibly grateful.

Debbie and Elliot, Hertfordshire (November, 2014)

“Our birth would not have been the same without the help and preparation we received from Joan on our hypnobirthing course. All the techniques we learnt on the course were very valuable and really helped me manage my labour so that I could enjoy my birth. Annie is such a calm and contented baby we’re sure the hypnobirthing has something to do with it. We now recommend the Wise Hippo to everyone.” (Read More...)

At 3 am on Wednesday morning Elliot woke up and Debbie proceeded to tell him she thought she was having surges. This was welcome news indeed as we had seen the midwife the preceding day and had to book in to be induced on Sunday. This would have been at odds with our birth plan as we wanted to have our birth at home.

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The preceding week had been spent getting our home ready for the birth, laying sheets inflating the pool and making sure we had all the necessary bits and bobs. We had vases of fresh stocks and candles at the ready. Our midwife had visited and we had tea and cakes, then she decided to have a quick check of the presentation of the baby. We then had a two hour wait in hospital for a scan as she thought the baby may have been in breach presentation. Fortunately all was found to be well and we came home even more strengthened in our resolve to have the baby at home after our hospital experience.

At 9am we rang our appointed midwife to tell her that we were having surges, she suggested at the appointment the day before that the baby hadn’t engaged yet and that we should go for a walk down the high street and get some breakfast, it was also her birthday so she gave us the number for Sarah-Jane who was the midwife on duty that day.

Debbie was having surges every 5-15mins on what will be our most memorable stroll around Harpenden, with each surge we stopped walking whilst Debbie calmly breathed through it. An off duty midwife and a mother with child stopped to ask us if we were in labour, and were quite surprised Debbie was calmly walking around, we then had a drink in café Nero where Elliot’s dad met us briefly. We got back to our flat at about 11am Elliot rang Sarah-Jane to let her know what was going on, she said that she had a class until 2 but to call her if things progressed before then.

We settled at home with tea and cakes with Debbie bouncing on her ball and Elliot keeping an eye on the frequency of the surges, Debbie got into the bath for 15mins but this slowed the surges considerably so she decided to get out. By 2pm Debbie was entering advanced labour and we called rang Sarah-Jane who said she would be with us by 4pm.

By 3pm the surges were every 5mins and lasting a minute and Debbie was 5cm dilated so Elliot rang Sarah-Jane again and she wasn’t convinced but said she would get to us as soon as possible. She arrived just after 4pm and was surprised to find Debbie in advanced labour and proceeded to check Debbie over and get her equipment set up, she also informed us that she was not water trained and therefore we could not use the birthing pool as we had intended. Debbie was unfazed by this and continued with her labour breathing calmly through the surges which impressed Sarah-Jane greatly.

At 7pm Sarah-Jane’s colleague Lynda arrived and they left us in the lounge performing our relaxation techniques whilst they got set up and had a cup of tea in the kitchen. Elliot took Debbie to the toilet at about 9pm and found that her amniotic sack was starting to come out. We went back into the lounge and the midwives began to monitor Debbie more closely.

Debbie was breathing calmly with Elliot supporting her and receiving minor interference from the midwives other than checking baby’s heart rate. Debbie felt the strong urge to begin to push. The waters finally broke at 9.40 and our baby was born at 9.53pm. Elliot announced that it was a girl, Annie then went into immediate skin to skin with Debbie and had a feed from the breast moments later, Annie was still very calm immediately after the birth and didn’t scream or cry once. About 30 minutes later Elliot cut the cord. Debbie and Elliot’s story of the birth of Annie

At 3 am on Wednesday morning Elliot woke up and Debbie proceeded to tell him she thought she was having surges. This was welcome news indeed as we had seen the midwife the preceding day and had to book in to be induced on Sunday. This would have been at odds with our birth plan as we wanted to have our birth at home.

The preceding week had been spent getting our home ready for the birth, laying sheets inflating the pool and making sure we had all the necessary bits and bobs. We had vases of fresh stocks and candles at the ready. Our midwife had visited and we had tea and cakes, then she decided to have a quick check of the presentation of the baby. We then had a two hour wait in hospital for a scan as she thought the baby may have been in breach presentation. Fortunately all was found to be well and we came home even more strengthened in our resolve to have the baby at home after our hospital experience.

At 9am we rang our appointed midwife to tell her that we were having surges, she suggested at the appointment the day before that the baby hadn’t engaged yet and that we should go for a walk down the high street and get some breakfast, it was also her birthday so she gave us the number for Sarah-Jane who was the midwife on duty that day.

Debbie was having surges every 5-15mins on what will be our most memorable stroll around Harpenden, with each surge we stopped walking whilst Debbie calmly breathed through it. An off duty midwife and a mother with child stopped to ask us if we were in labour, and were quite surprised Debbie was calmly walking around, we then had a drink in café Nero where Elliot’s dad met us briefly. We got back to our flat at about 11am Elliot rang Sarah-Jane to let her know what was going on, she said that she had a class until 2 but to call her if things progressed before then.

We settled at home with tea and cakes with Debbie bouncing on her ball and Elliot keeping an eye on the frequency of the surges, Debbie got into the bath for 15mins but this slowed the surges considerably so she decided to get out. By 2pm Debbie was entering advanced labour and we called rang Sarah-Jane who said she would be with us by 4pm.

By 3pm the surges were every 5mins and lasting a minute and Debbie was 5cm dilated so Elliot rang Sarah-Jane again and she wasn’t convinced but said she would get to us as soon as possible. She arrived just after 4pm and was surprised to find Debbie in advanced labour and proceeded to check Debbie over and get her equipment set up, she also informed us that she was not water trained and therefore we could not use the birthing pool as we had intended. Debbie was unfazed by this and continued with her labour breathing calmly through the surges which impressed Sarah-Jane greatly.

At 7pm Sarah-Jane’s colleague Lynda arrived and they left us in the lounge performing our relaxation techniques whilst they got set up and had a cup of tea in the kitchen. Elliot took Debbie to the toilet at about 9pm and found that her amniotic sack was starting to come out. We went back into the lounge and the midwives began to monitor Debbie more closely.

Debbie was breathing calmly with Elliot supporting her and receiving minor interference from the midwives other than checking baby’s heart rate. Debbie felt the strong urge to begin to push. The waters finally broke at 9.40 and our baby was born at 9.53pm. Elliot announced that it was a girl, Annie then went into immediate skin to skin with Debbie and had a feed from the breast moments later, Annie was still very calm immediately after the birth and didn’t scream or cry once. About 30 minutes later Elliot cut the cord.

Annie then had skin to skin with Elliot whilst Debbie delivered the placenta, as the birth had been completely natural with no drugs/pain relief or gas and air the midwives were keen for the placenta to be delivered naturally as well. Debbie’s mum, dad and brother arrived shortly after whilst the midwives tidied up. Debbie and her mum tidied Annie up and got her dressed. The midwives had stayed 3 hours beyond the end of their shift but they both said they wanted to stay because it was so amazing for them to see such a calm and relaxed birth at home for a first time mum.

Our birth would not have been the same without the help and preparation we received from Joan on our hypnobirthing course. All the techniques we learnt on the course were very valuable and really helped me manage my labour so that I could enjoy my birth. Annie is such a calm and contented baby we’re sure the hypnobirthing has something to do with it. We now recommend wise hippo to everyone.

Annie then had skin to skin with Elliot whilst Debbie delivered the placenta, as the birth had been completely natural with no drugs/pain relief or gas and air the midwives were keen for the placenta to be delivered naturally as well. Debbie’s mum, dad and brother arrived shortly after whilst the midwives tidied up. Debbie and her mum tidied Annie up and got her dressed.

The midwives had stayed 3 hours beyond the end of their shift but they both said they wanted to stay because it was so amazing for them to see such a calm and relaxed birth at home for a first time mum.

Our birth would not have been the same without the help and preparation we received from Joan on our hypnobirthing course. All the techniques we learnt on the course were very valuable and really helped me manage my labour so that I could enjoy my birth. Annie is such a calm and contented baby we’re sure the hypnobirthing has something to do with it. We now recommend the Wise Hippo to everyone.

Kim, Hertfordshire (September, 2014) “Our daughter was birthed in the birthing pool using the hypnobirthing techniques that I had learnt and practiced within 3 hours of arriving at the hospital. It was calm and peaceful and my body just took over. I quite literally breathed her out, my husband was so supportive and proud of me. We never felt frightened because I trusted in my body and in my baby.” (Read More...)

I initially contacted Joan for reflexology during my 3rd pregnancy and it was during these sessions that Joan taught me about hypnobirthing. I hadn’t used hypnobirthing before and I really didn’t know anything about it. My previous births had been totally different.

The first was very medicalised (epidural, ventouse and other interventions ) all in all not a really positive birth experience. I was determined for the second birth to be as natural as possible I didn’t want a repeat of the interventions of my first babies birth.

Whilst I was thrilled to succeed in this, it was not easy, I felt as though I had run a marathon after it!
I did HypnoBirthing using the Wise Hippo programme with Joan

The third birth was by far my best experience. It was such a positive experience After a day of painless surges ( not contractions) the frequency and intensity increased in the late evening. Within 20 minutes we left for the hospital as the surges were then coming 2-3 minutes apart. Our daughter was birthed in the birthing pool using the hypnobirthing techniques that I had learnt and practiced within 3 hours of arriving at the hospital. It was calm and peaceful and my body just took over. I quite literally breathed her out, my husband was so supportive and proud of me. We never felt frightened because I trusted in my body and in my baby.

I didn’t push once. It was an amazing experience, one I would not have had if not for HypnoBirthing I would definitely recommend hypnobirthing to others now. Thank you Joan!

Sarah, Hertfordshire (July, 2014) “I want to say a big thank you to Joan because the techniques that we learnt throughout the Wise Hippo course were brilliant for the birth.” (Read More...)

Ivy Mae Ronald was born at 8lbs 6oz. The labour was just amazing. I was very lucky with how things went, it was ten hours in total, most of which was at home after my waters broke.

I had a natural birth in the pool and I didn’t need to use any sort of pain relief other than my tens machine. The visualisation techniques were great and I just used them to focus on the surges in a positive way. I kept active through the labour, using some rotations and yoga moves at home and was already fully dilated when we got to the hospital. Though the midwifes took some convincing at first! They wouldn’t examine me when we arrived (because my waters had broken) and were convinced I had ‘a while to go’, I had to get a little more vocal that I was ready to have the baby and then it was a mad rush to fill the pool. 45 mins later she was born.

It really was the positive and calm experience I had hoped for.

Sarah, Hertfordshire (May, 2014) “The various Hypnobirthing techniques I learned helped me greatly and my husband commented afterwards that he could see me tapping into what I had learned and he felt it helped me a great deal, especially in the more intense moments.”(Read More...)

Thursday 8th May started like any other Thursday, apart from it was my husband Ross’ birthday. He went off to work first thing and we agreed to do cards and presents that evening. I busied myself getting our daughter Amelie up and ready for pre-school. We had just had breakfast and were about to leave when I popped to the toilet – at this point I lost the mucus plug. This was a bit unsettling but also exciting – I wasn’t sure what it meant or whether I would suddenly go into labour! I took my daughter to pre-school and then went round to my sister-in-laws’s for coffee. During the couple of hours I spent there, I was getting period type cramps while we were chatting – I told my sister in law every time I got them and we noticed they were happening roughly every 20 minutes so there was a bit of a pattern.

I had a reflexology session booked with Joan for that afternoon so at this point I texted Joan to tell her about the mucus plug. Joan told me to go and see her as planned which I did at 2pm. During the very relaxing reflexology session, Joan played some of the MP3s and I told her every time I had any cramping, again it seemed to be every 20 minutes but I wasn’t sure they were surges. I had had a sweep at the midwife a couple of days previously and had been getting mild cramping after that and so I thought it could just be more of the same. After the session with Joan I drove to my parents’ house to collect my daughter and stayed for an hour or so with them – during this time the cramps stopped almost completely. At home we did cards, presents and birthday cake for Ross and put my daughter to bed at 8pm. Ross mentioned he was going to meet his Dad for a quick drink and pick us up a takeaway. While my husband was out the cramps started again and seemed to be more frequent, maybe every 10 minutes or so – they were still pretty mild but I did feel more like I had to breathe when they did come. I began to think that it might all be starting so I gathered my daughter’s overnight bits that we had already put aside and I ironed a couple of things for her – mindful that she may be going back to my parents that night! Also it was a bit of a distraction for me.

Ross got back just before 9pm and I told him I felt I might be having surges. We sat down to eat the takeaway and whilst eating I had to stand up every time a surge came on and bend over, leaning on the table and breathing through them. From this point on the surges became more frequent and seemed to be coming every 5 minutes and lasting for a minute a time. I still wasn’t finding them too painful as long as I used my breathing. I remember also making a very conscious effort to stay as calm as possible and to try to relax as I didn’t want fear and anxiety to take over. Ross called my parents and they arrived within about 15minutes. I called the hospital who said it was still early stage and I should only come in when I was getting 5 surges in 10 minutes which sounded very risky to me, especially with a second baby! At this point the surges were increasing in intensity and I was really having to breathe through them and stay focused on them. It really helped having my Mum there and she stayed with me, rubbing my back etc while Ross got Amelie up and sorted and gathered all the various bags. He then said he would run me a bath to sit in while the surges became more frequent. I was then having a more intense surge with my Mum with me and suddenly my waters broke, all over her leg and mine! They really gushed out, rather than a trickle. I was relieved as this meant the hospital would have to take me in. Ross said to get in the bath anyway to get all cleaned up from the waters, which I did but the surges then became very intense and I started to worry that it was all happening quite quickly. My parents left with Amelie and I got dressed into some comfortable clothes and Ross loaded the bags into car. I remember when getting dressed I started to feel a loss of control and some panic, so I focused on breathing and was doing my 54321 breath at this point to get back in control.

On the way to the hospital I had some surges in the car which were not easy but manageable with the breathing. We called the hospital on the way to update them and were told that the midwife unit was full and so I could not go there, which was very disappointing as I had been so keen to use the birthing pool. They also said the delivery suite was very busy and they couldn’t get an answer from them, so I would need to go to ward 31, which is where people go to be assessed if any pregnancy problems. We arrived at the hospital at 11pm and were buzzing at the door but no-one was answering. It was only about 5 minutes until someone finally answered but it felt like a lifetime and the surges were much more intense by this point. I was still using my breathing but was clinging on to Ross every time one came and felt I needed him with me. We then went into the reception of ward 31 but there did not seem to be anyone around to help. There was another couple in front of us who were there to check baby movement but after seeing me have a couple of surges they said I should go ahead of them! Ross got hold of someone and said I really needed to be seen and my surges were coming very frequently – during the time he was speaking to the lady, I had a couple of very intense surges and on the second I suddenly had a sense that the baby was coming out..I felt a very large pressure in my bottom as if I needed to go to the toilet. I cried out and it must have sent the right message as suddenly 2 midwives appeared and helped me to the nearest bed. They pulled the curtain around, got me up on the bed and pulled my trousers and underwear down. They had a quick look and told me the baby was ready to come out! I asked if I could have some gas and air but was told it was too late as they could see the baby’s head! I did start to panic a bit as it was all a shock but I consciously got myself back into control, focusing on the fact that I would see my baby very soon. I remember tying my hair back and taking a big swig of Lucazade! I was kneeling up on the bed and on the next surge I was breathing very hard. The midwives helped me with positioning my legs etc and I concentrated on the breathing – after a couple of surges the head came out and on the next one my little boy was born. Maxwell Ross arrived at 11.26, having got to the hospital just after 11pm. I definitely didn’t feel that I pushed him out and it felt more that I breathed him out. Max was 8lbs 9oz so much bigger than expected (my daughter was 6,3). There was no tearing and I was allowed home the next day – I only had to stay in over night as I’d given birth in the evening.

Max’s birth, like my daughter’s, was unpredictable and unexpected – both for different reasons. The hypnobirthing course was very important for me and helped me stay calm, focused and in control. Although the birth was very quick, I believe the fact that I stayed so calm during the day when I was in the early stages must have helped significantly, along with the reflexology and relaxation. The various techniques I learned helped me greatly and my husband commented afterwards that he could see me tapping into what I had learned and he felt it helped me a great deal, especially in the more intense moments. HypnoBirthing helped me stay calm and focused and helped Ross to do the same. I would recommend it to all my friends,it really is the way to best birth your baby

Imogen, Hertfordshire (April, 2014) “Labour was slow at the start but quick at the end – 3 Hours from hospital admission to birth.” (Read More...)

Surges started at 5am on Wednesday and were coming every 3 to 5 minutes but I was able to help Aidan finish off planting potatoes on out allotment (well I did the watering) and did some walks round the blocks to help things along. Surges slowed down overnight on Wednesday and I managed to get some sleep but picked up again on Thursday morning and were getting stronger. I found waves of relaxation breathing really helped. Phoned L&D a couple of times but they thought the surges weren’t strong enough to come in !!!.

By 6pm on Thursday I phoned again as I was really sure that I should be going in.  After some persistence L&D agreed to assess me on the birthing unit.  We arrived at 7pm and the midwife at the initial examination said I was 7cm dilated so I could stay! Waters spontaneously broke around 8.45pm and unfortunately because there was meconium in the waters I had to be transferred to the consultant led unit for the baby to be more closely monitored. At this point I requested gas and air. By then I had already been getting the urge to push and asked to be reexamined before the standard 4 hours. Midwife confirmed that I was fully dilated and baby would be here soon – no time even to change birthing position.

Baby arrived safely and healthy. After our skin to skin time I had some stitches . Finally got home early hours on Saturday.

Katherine, Hertfordshire (March, 2014) “I still can’t believe I got the homebirth I wanted, and that it all went so perfectly. I feel so lucky. It’s given me so much confidence in my own body, and also in Edie. I feel like she has had the best start she could have. I wouldn’t change anything about it.” (Read More...)

By Friday I started to feel like the birth might happen over the weekend. I was really hoping it would as by Monday the hospital would define me as 40 weeks + 14, and wouldn’t let me be in the pool or at home (where I had a borrowed birthing pool waiting). I really wanted to birth in water, so I thought I would stay at home if the midwives on duty were trained to deliver in water, or go into hospital if not, and the pool there was available.

By night time I thought the achiness had started to turn into surges – there seemed to be some rise and fall to it. But it was very faint, I really had to look for it, so I tried not to get my hopes up and went to sleep. I woke up at 3.15, and soon became confident that what I was experiencing was surges. Unable to sleep, and trying not to get too excited, I put on “relax with nature”. At 4.30 I decided to wake Al up and tell him, just because I wanted to be with him for one surge. I was confident that he would be able to go back to sleep and get more rest and he did. The surges were about 20 minutes apart, and I was able to doze between them. They were not very intense, and felt like a really good opportunity to practise my surge breathing and become familiar with the sensations.

At 7.30 I woke Al up and said I thought he should get Bess up and take her round to my sister’s. Although I didn’t think anything would happen too soon, I wanted to be able to concentrate on the surges and my breathing. My sister picked up Bess at 9.30, and I settled down into the surges in room we had prepared for the birth, while Al got everything ready.

Al called the midwife at 10.15 by which point the surges seemed to be every 8 minutes and lasting 1 – 1 ½ minutes. She was not waterbirth trained, but said I’d be able to be in the bath before the birth. I knew then that being at home was more important than being in the pool. She said she would be there within an hour.

The next surge was delayed and I wondered if we’d called prematurely. Then the pattern seemed to be disrupted as I walked around and went to the toilet – I had a few that were just 2 – 3 minutes apart, but they were less intense and didn’t last as long. I felt like the baby was moving down during these.

The midwife, Nicky, arrived at 11.00. I could hear her reading through my birth plan and talking to Al about hypnobirthing. She said she didn’t know much about it, but she’d try and talk about surges and keep everything calm. Then she came in to see me and was just so gentle, calm and encouraging, I was really pleased. She just sat with us for a few surges, and said very quietly to Al that with hypnobirthers you couldn’t tell when they were having surges as they were so relaxed. I said on my birth plan that I wanted examinations to be kept to the minimum, and she said she respected that but thought it might be helpful to examine me now if that was ok with me. I wanted to be examined as I wanted to know what stage I was at. I told her I thought I probably wasn’t very advanced, and I hoped she wouldn’t think I’d got her out on false pretences. The examination was very gentle and didn’t interrupt my calm and relaxed state, and she said I was 5 cm and the cervix was paper thin. I was really pleased to hear this, and settled back down into my surges. I asked Al to run me a bath (which takes 20 minutes in our house).

When the bath was ready, Al guided me upstairs. I got into the bath between surges. As I got into the bath, Al went to get something. Just as I settled into it, I had a surge of an intensity well beyond the others. It started the same but rose up higher with in my body. It seemed to knock me out of my breathing, and when it subsided I did think to myself, “What have I done? I don’t know if I can do this.” But then (as the Sea of the Serenity continued in the background) I thought, “I don’t need to do anything, my body is going to do it. I just need to stay here and let it happen.” Al was back for the next surge, equally intense and again as I got to the end I lost my breath. But this time I had a sudden urge to (I thought) go to the toilet. I told Al and he called Nicky upstairs. I think I’d been in the bath less than 10 minutes. She asked if I had an urge to push, and said that I might be about to have my baby. The plug was pulled in the bath.

I think the next surge came so quickly we decided I should just stay in the bath as the water ran out. On that surge I really started pushing. Although I’d envisaged breathing out the baby, I just wanted to go with the push and let out some rather primal noises. I think up to that point I’d felt very inwardly focused, like this was a private experience. But with the pushing, I just wanted to tap into something else – I had a sense of all the women who had done this before. The second midwife, Sarah Jane, arrived, I think during the second pushing surge, and I was aware of the noise that greeted her and that she’d know she was just in time! Nicky listened to the baby’s heartbeat, and I could hear it had slowed down. She said very calmly that it was important that I push, and not to just breath the baby out. Not that there was any chance of me doing anything else. On the next push Al, who usually faints at the sight of his own blood, was watching and saw the baby coming. He got really excited and told me she was coming and that we would see her soon. I felt a rush of excitement and asked Nicky if he was right. The next push her head came out and NIcky guided my hand so I could touch it. It was just the most amazing feeling. I remember NIcky confirming with me that I wanted her put straight on my chest. One more push and there she was, up in my arms, all purple and new born and just so wonderful. I was so proud of her. I just couldn’t believe what we’d done and that she was there.

I held her while we waited for the placenta. Getting some towels to rest on now, and keep us warm. She seemed to go pink really quickly and was just looking around with wide eyes, like she couldn’t believe we’d done it either. The placenta did seem to take a while, but of course I didn’t mind as I was holding Edith in the sunshine, albeit in an empty bath. When it came out I made sure I got a look at it, as I regretted not seeing it last time.

I still can’t believe I got the homebirth I wanted, and that it all went so perfectly. I feel so lucky. It’s given me so much confidence in my own body, and also in Edie. I feel like she has had the best start she could have. I wouldn’t change anything about it.

Davina, Bedfordshire (March, 2014) “I absolutely loved the Wise Hippo programme… everything about it made such sense to James and me and, even though I had no idea what childbirth would hold for me personally, we were willing and eager students.” (Read More...)

I absolutely loved the Wise Hippo programme… everything about it made such sense to James and me and, even though I had no idea what childbirth would hold for me personally, we were willing and eager students. The philosophical elements as well as the anatomical elements spoke volumes in terms of ‘back to basics’ and how every woman should have the right to pursue the natural birth we all want. I held a firm belief that our child would have the very best start in life through pregnancy, birth and beyond

My story probably begins when the sonographer at the ’12 week scan’ dated me to 14+6… so quite a leap forward. Hence when we got to ‘term plus 12’ I wasn’t altogether convinced and the last thing I wanted was for someone to urge the baby out when he wasn’t ready. I generally didn’t want much intervention at all and, much as is the way of the Hippo, wanted to let nature take its course as much as possible. In these days of multiple inductions it’s increasingly difficult to see that through. So I was booked in for a ‘low risk induction’ – essentially as an outpatient and I could still use the MLU which I was very keen on as a water birth was a key feature of my birth plan. It would also mean we would be able to go home between the various stages so I could benefit from all the active labour / birth ball / massage / relaxation techniques we had been practicing as part of the hypnobirthing course with Joan.

(You can tell there’s a big ‘BUT’ coming……) We went in for the induction at 8:30am and I was dead set on telling them they weren’t going to do anything with me until another week had passed. I believed I wasn’t anywhere near the ‘danger zone’ of 42 weeks. Following a few hours of monitoring and a scan (during which they told us the baby was measuring at 10lb9oz) we were told the risk factors had heightened and they were pushing ahead with the induction. To add insult to injury I was no longer allowed to use the MLU and would need to go directly to the labour ward to make friends with the blue paper NHS curtains and vinyl chairs (no massages in the privacy of my own home for me) and from there I would be going to the delivery suite. There were tears, tantrums and tiaras but after more monitoring than you could shake a stick at we made our way there for the start of our childbirth adventure. None of this had even featured in my ‘reserve’ birth plan (the one you make when everyone tells you not to count on your original birth plan) so we were officially in unchartered territory.

The only physical hypnobirthing tools I had with me were my iPod with the mp3s, James’ calming influence and my birth ball – so it was time to dig deep and get in touch with the emotional side of all we had learned with Joan. It would be our attitude to the birth that would make the difference now and in the absence of the MLU surroundings we had anticipated we had no choice but to make the best of it in the brightly lit, noisy surroundings of the Watford General Hospital labour ward – there’s only so much a blue paper curtain can block out! I had the pessary at 1:30pm and then had monitoring pretty much every hour or so – the monitors showed I was having surges but I couldn’t feel them until approximately 5pm. The relaxation techniques really helped me remain calm and focused on my body and the baby’s movements for the next 6 hours. I concentrated on my breathing and trying to provide the baby with a fuss free environment through which to travel. Much to the dismay of my fellow ward occupants my surge breathing got increasingly ‘audible’ but thankfully it was only a matter of a few hours before we were moved to the delivery suite after a few pain relief tablets and the news that I was 4cms. When we got to the delivery suite I was then asked if I wanted my waters broken (not on my birth plan – as with most other things I was now contemplating) and I agreed to it as I really didn’t want to be on the delivery suite longer than absolutely necessary. There was so much not going ‘to plan’ that I was deciding things in the heat of the moment. A student midwife asked if she could join (again, not on my plan as I hadn’t wanted any extra people) but I agreed. Much to our delight she was the only one who showed an interest in reading and adhering to our birth plan and bought it to the attention of the senior midwife. From then on both the student and senior midwives took an active role in ensuring the elements they could control were respected. We didn’t need any consultant involvement so they told us that the 4 of us would see the birth through to the end and therefore keep things as calm and consistent as possible. This really relaxed both of us. From that moment we felt like individuals and not just another delivery suite couple who didn’t have a clue. They knew we had done our research and our hypnobirthing knowledge stood us in good stead for making informed decisions. I really think they respected us much more for knowing we had such a positive attitude to the birth of our baby.

The rest of the birth went very quickly – all I remember is being told I was 8cms, trying various positions as I was adamant I didn’t want to give birth ‘on my back on a bed’, and offering James a lot of the gas and air (he declined my offer every time!) They kept saying to ‘use the contractions to push’ but I never felt the need to push as I knew my body was doing it all by itself and at its own rate. I never felt I ‘couldn’t do it’ because I never really felt like I was consciously doing anything anyway. The baby was doing his bit and my body was doing its bit – so in amongst all the humdrum of the brightly lit, noisy, overly-managed delivery suite my hypnobirthing attitude was still winning out (with the help of the Wise Hippo Instrumental)! I have never felt so confident in something ending well as I did about the birth of our child. Noah was born at 4:37am weighing 9lb4oz – as opposed to 10lb9oz! I didn’t have any stitches and so our skin-to-skin alone time as a family was truly special. No one needed to come and see us, attend to me or move us anywhere else. We were left to have the post-birth experience we wanted all along. Noah spent that special time with us both and it was the most awesome experience – so peaceful and natural and truly unique.

So I think, all in all, approximately 5% of our birth plan was implemented but the most important aspects were still prevalent – my body did its bit whilst Noah was doing his bit. I really didn’t ‘do’ anything apart from having confidence in nature and blocking out the ‘noise’.

I have already recommended Joan and the hypnobirthing philosophy to anyone who’ll listen. I am so grateful James and I had the grounding in the Wise Hippo Programme during my pregnancy and that Noah’s birth was such a positive experience for all of us. Even with the birth plan going quite so far out of the window it made us realize that the philosophy and attitude are everything – your birth is what you make it irrespective of circumstance. It’s your birth. Don’t let anything distract you from how you want your child to enter the world. Noah has a lovely temperament. He feeds well, sleeps well (he has his days and nights round the right way at least!) and will continue to thrive. We will remain eternally grateful for the start he has had in life.

Becca, Hertfordshire (January, 2014) “All in all it was a fantastic positive birth in very large part down to the Hypnobirthing practice and techniques we had learnt and the presence of Joan who has an amazing calming effect on us both.” (Read More...)

I felt a bit uncomfortable on Tues evening, but figured it was just the baby pushing down on my bladder, then was up a few times in the night just feeling pressure again. By Wed morning there seemed to be a bit of a pattern to the “pressure” so we started to time – every 8mins ish lasting 30-50secs – still didn’t quite believe things were starting at this point. I called Joan at 10.30 (she had said to call about any changes in how I was feeling) and told her about my night. She suggested calling the midwife and getting the pool ready as it sounded like labour. Spence was a legend sorting out the house & pool ready, and we left a voicemail for the midwife at 10.45 to give her a heads up.

The longer I was up and moving about the more frequent and intense the surges became. I was not in any pain and found I was easily breathing through them using the waves of relaxation (mostly the 10 count in and out). I was also listening to relax with nature and birth affirmations mp3s.

We called the midwife again at about 1 to let her know how things were progressing and she said to call her back at 3.30 when her clinic finished. We let Joan know, and she said she’d come round then to see what the midwife said. But by about 2.30 I was getting the urge to push so Spence called the midwife again and she said she’d get someone round. Midwife arrived at 3pm and waters promptly broke all over bedroom floor (lovely!) she examined me and I was 9cm dilated! She wouldn’t let me get in the pool until the 2nd midwife arrived at which point I was convinced baby was going to arrive in the bedroom and ruin the carpet!

Spencer text Joan to let her know the situation and she arrived 10 mins later shortly after the 2nd midwife (just before 4pm). On arrival of the 2nd midwife I practically ran (!) to get in the pool – It was so nice and relaxing to get in that everything slowed down a bit. I never once complained of any pain, or asked for pain relief. I felt fantastic in between surges – comfortable and happy, it also felt quite surreal, I couldn’t quite believe that our baby was coming! We had sea of serenity and birth affirmations playing in the background.

The midwives got me out the pool once to try and increase the strength of contractions which was very effective and I got back into pool with head crowning. Joan & Spence were encouraging me to hum/breathe the baby down, but my body had it’s own ideas/noises (!) and I went with it as much as I could.

Then baby’s heart rate fell quite dramatically, they got me out the pool & called the paramedics, and midwife announced she was going to “get quite bossy ‘cause the baby had to come out now”! Cue episiotomy and forced pushing and baby arriving quickly with cord round his neck. He was absolutely fine as soon as the cord was moved, and the paramedics were sent away. Even during this I did not feel any panic and the midwives were fantastic.

I had skin to skin straight after birth for 2 hours while I delivered the placenta naturally and was stitched up. Spencer cut the cord when it had stopped pulsating (something he said he had no interest in doing previously!) and baby barely seemed to notice the vitamin K injection given while he was on the breast.

All in all it was a fantastic positive birth in very large part down to the Hypnobirthing practice and techniques we had learnt and the presence of Joan who has an amazing calming effect on us both. Joan was also an absolute legend making tea and toast for everyone and helping Spence to empty and clear the pool away after the midwives had left. I would not hesitate in recommending hypnobirthing and a home birth to anyone who will listen!

The next day Chloe from IPEN came to make me a placenta smoothie and take the rest of it away for encapsulation (another thing we had only heard about on Joan’s course). The tablets (127) were delivered on Friday along with the heart shaped cord – a lovely touch that we were not expecting.

Esther, Hertfordshire (December, 2013) “Joan was a wonderful doula and her presence at Alys’ birth, together with everything that I learnt on the hypnobirthing course, helped to make my birth experience an amazing one. I would highly recommend hypnobirthing to anyone. Thank you!” (Read More...)

I met Joan towards the end of my first pregnancy (our so was born in June 2012) and was able to use some of the hypnobirthing techniques that she showed me during that labour. I decided early on in my second pregnancy that I wanted to learn more about hypnobirthing so decided to take Joan’s course. I also asked Joan to be our doula, as I felt I would benefit from the additional support during labour.

The 4 week hypnobirthing course was extremely interesting and I found the accompanying breathing techniques, affirmations and music very relaxing as I prepared for labour. Joan had lots of helpful advice and really put me at ease asmy due date approached.

I started to experience surges during the early hours the day after my due date. These were about 10 minutes apart and I listened to the hypno birthing mp3s and concentrated on my breathing. They had increased in frequency to every 5 minutes by the morning, so we headed into the hospital. The surges slowed down to every 15 minutes and, when I was examined, I was just 2cm so was sent home. The surges carried on at a rate of one every 15 – 20 minutes all day and through the next night. I kept using the breathing techniques and listening to the affirmations, which I found really helpful. We went back to the hospital the next day and I found out at lunchtime that I was 5cm, so we were transferred to the delivery room and I asked Joan to come in.

The surges quickly became more intense and I used the birthing ball and TENS machine to stay comfortable whilst carrying on with the breathing and relaxation techniques. Joan helped me to regulate my breathing and did some light touch massage, which was very calming.

After about 3 hours, I was feeling a strong pressure and had the urge to push so I moved from the birthing ball onto the bed, keeping an upright and forward position. My waters broke during the process. I had a few very intense surges, and Joan really worked wonders in ensuring that I maintained my breathing pattern and stayed calm, reminding me that each surge was bringing my baby closer.
Suddenly, with one surge, our daughter, Alys, was born. She caught us all by surprise and landed on the bed!

She didn’t cry at all, and was extremely calm and alert. She came to me straight away for skin to skin contact, and quickly latched on for her first feed. I am sure that the peaceful nature of her birth helped with this, and was the reason she was so calm, even when having her examination and vitamin k injection.

Joan was a wonderful doula and her presence at Alys’ birth, together with everything that I learnt on the hypnobirthing course, helped to make my birth experience an amazing one. I would highly recommend hypnobirthing to anyone. Thank you!

Fiona, Hertfordshire (September, 2013) “The relaxation and breathing techniques played a key part in the beautiful birth of our precious girl and I highly recommend the hypnobirthing way to everyone.” (Read More...)

I had my first surges just after midnight on the day we were meant to be induced (Thea had been due on 4th July). I had been desperate to go into labour naturally and thought perhaps I was imagining the surges, so I bounced on my birthing ball and used my hypnobirthing breathing techniques until 3am, by which time the surges were 3 minutes apart. At this point I was convinced I was in labour and decided to wake my husband, who leapt into action, helping with my breathing, visualisations and using some of the massage techniques we’d been shown by Joan.

The hypnobirthing breathing helped us to stay calm and remain at home until 5.30am. I also said my affirmations repeatedly and found it therapeutic to say that I would remain calm whatever turn my birthing took.

When arrived at the maternity unit and I was almost 4cm dilated. Over the next few hours, the midwives were amazed at how calm we were and one said that it was hard to tell I was in labour. I bounced on the birthing ball and focused hard on my breathing, while my husband massaged my back and shoulders during the surges. I also had two paracetemol and used gas & air. When I was examined 4 hours later, we were all amazed when the midwife said I was 10cm dilated and she could see the baby’s head! They quickly filled the birthing pool and just over an hour later our beautiful daughter Thea was born. She was awake and alert from first moment she came out of the water and was feeding within ten minutes.

The relaxation and breathing techniques played a key part in the beautiful birth of our precious girl and I highly recommend the hypnobirthing way to everyone.

Kimberley, Hertfordshire (September, 2013) “I would recommend HypnoBirthing to anyone who is anxious about the birth or who would like to learn how to make it as comfortable and natural as possible.” (Read More...)

Quite early on in my pregnancy I had anxieties about going into labour and giving birth, and coupled with my fear of going into hospital I would often find myself in tears thinking about it. I was so sure that there had to be an alternative to the preconception of labour and birth being painful, traumatic and medicalised, so I searched the internet and came across HypnoBirthing. After buying the book, HypnoBirthing, The Mongan Method, I was so sure that I wanted to try this approach to achieve the calm, natural birth that I really wanted.

After meeting with Joan, I felt confident about booking onto the course and also asked her to be my doula at the birth. I believe that everything I learnt during the HypnoBirthing sessions allowed me to have a relatively anxiety-free pregnancy and eliminated many fears which were previously causing me stress and worry.

Although I made a birth plan which reflected my ‘perfect birth’, I kept an open mind and accepted the possibility that complications can arise and that not all of my birth preferences may be fulfilled. I feel that staying realistic was really important for me, because unfortunately my labour and birth did not go how I had hoped.

Week 40 came and went and I had no signs of labour at all. By week 41 and still having noticed no changes, my stress levels were beginning to increase due to the pressure I felt to be induced, which is one thing I really wanted to avoid as it went against all my ideas of the perfect natural birth. I tried every natural induction method I could find on the internet, but nothing made the slightest bit of difference. I can positively say that I experienced more stress and anxiety after week 40 than I had throughout my entire pregnancy! As my dates did not match the dating scan I decided to postpone induction until I felt ready, rather than when the medical staff decided it was the right time. They agreed (reluctantly) that I could go in for regular monitoring to check the baby’s heart rate, however by 42 weeks + 5 days I was tired of the stress of waiting and accepted that it just wasn’t going to happen naturally, so I went into hospital that afternoon (7th August) to be induced.

Having had regular contact with my consultant, the medical staff were aware of my issue with hospitals and were really accommodating to try and keep me as calm as possible. They gave me my own room, and all the staff were so lovely, I can’t sing their praises enough. They discussed the procedure with me, and after an examination confirming I was only around 1-2cm, that evening I was given the prostaglandin pessary. I was on my own in hospital for a couple of hours, nothing was happening but I was feeling very nervous and rather lonely, so Joan agreed to come in late that evening. I remember when the surges started, not being sure whether they were proper contractions, because it wasn’t what I expected at all. I was expecting something resembling period pains but more intense, but all I felt was tightening in my lower back. During the night my surges reached 3-5 minutes apart and peaked at around 45 seconds. I listened to the rainbow relaxation and some other visualisation mp3’s to help me relax, and Joan did some reflexology and talked me though the techniques we had learned in the sessions. I felt I was coping quite well for a while using the surge breath while sitting on the ball and leaning on the bed, and had a bath which helped a lot. There were a couple of moments where I lost my focus, and unfortunately I had a lot of nausea and sickness, so I was becoming tired very quickly.

By the morning my surges had become further apart. A CTG indicated that the baby was in distress and I was told that because I was so overdue it was likely that there was meconium in my waters, so the best option would be to artificially rupture the membranes to help labour progress. I don’t really remember the midwife confirming whether or not there was meconium, but if there was it can’t have been serious because the baby’s heart rate soon stabilised again and I was given more time for labour to progress. I do remember feeling gutted that I was still only 3cm! I started using gas and air to help me through the surges and at some point that day I was visited by a consultant who advised that I should be put on the syntocinon drip as I wasn’t progressing as they would have liked. By now I had given up on my idea of having a ‘natural birth’ and I knew straight away that I would have an epidural. Maybe I would have felt differently if I hadn’t been so exhausted, but I was desperate for sleep. I still hoped that I would be able to have a vaginal delivery, even if I couldn’t feel a thing! Once the epidural had kicked in I finally managed to get a few hours sleep. If there is one thing that I would recommend putting in your hospital bag that no one else tells you to take, it would be earplugs. I was so glad I had these as the hospital was so noisy I wouldn’t have managed any sleep otherwise.

Joan had stayed with me the whole time and I really don’t know what I would have done without her. She was so calm and reassuring, I don’t think I could have chosen another birthing partner who would have been able to provide the right kind of company and support I needed at that time. As my baby was nearly 3 weeks overdue, the original booking I had made with her of 2 weeks either side of my due date had come and gone, and Joan was due to go on holiday Friday morning- I remember willing baby to hurry up just so that she could be there for delivery!!! By late Thursday evening, I hadn’t dilated any further, and the baby was showing signs of distress again. I was told that, to ensure the baby’s safety, he should be delivered within the next hour by c-section. I was so disappointed, but accepted that, at this stage, it was my only option.

Joan accompanied me in theatre and took the very first photos of my baby boy, Owen Alexander, born at 00.29 on Friday 9th August weighing 8lb 6oz. I was so happy to have a healthy baby at the end of it all. I remember feeling all my anxiety just leave my body and I suddenly felt so calm when I first heard him cry as they took him out.

If I ever have another baby, I will definitely ask Joan if she would like to be my doula again. I would still aim to have a natural birth using Hypnobirthing, and if all went to plan I would love to have a home birth. I would recommend HypnoBirthing to anyone who is anxious about the birth or who would like to learn how to make it as comfortable and natural as possible.

Vicki Cocker, Hertfordshire (August, 2013) “I always recommend Hypnobirthing to my friends and anyone I hear of who is pregnant. Joan is incredibly passionate about Hypnobirthing, she really cares about her pregnant ladies and has a wonderfully gentle and nurturing way of educating people into this invaluable practice.” (Read More...)

On day 8 of being overdue I went to St Albans clinic to have a sweep. I was going stir crazy waiting for the little one to arrive! The procedure wasn’t pleasant but a few surge breaths got me through pain free. Following the sweep, I was getting very mild period pains from 4am on Monday morning but really not much. I knew it had started and had the burst of activity getting the house clean and tidy. Paul and I went for a walk in the afternoon but it was all so easy we honestly thought the birth would be Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday. Joan popped over for a cuppa tea and to do some reflexology, she was with me during a few surges and also thought it would be Wednesday at the very earliest. The surges continued throughout the day but were very light, no more than period pains really.

Paul and I had an early dinner and after a soak in the bath my surges started to intensify at around 9pm. We called the hospital and explained that they were sometimes three mins apart, sometimes six minutes apart, each one lasting between 30 seconds and one minute. They said I was still in early labour and should stay at home and asked me to call back later.

Paul and I went to bed, put on the relaxation CD and both fell asleep sleep. I continued to breathe through each surge but at around midnight/one o’clock, I had several very strong surges and without realising was pushing, my body naturally doing the J breaths Joan had taught us!!! Paul woke during these intense surges and held my hand, but after each one we drifted back to sleep. I recall thinking that this early labour was quite full on!! I got up to go to the bathroom at 1.15am and asked Paul to call the hospital again as at this point I couldn’t talk through them. My surges were longer but still irregular. We explained they were very strong but they still discouraged us from going in. I then felt something coming out and I honestly thought it was the baby’s head!! I shouted to get an ambulance. The midwife told Paul to get me off the loo (can you imagine?! poor Roxana!!) so down I went to the floor. I wish I could remember the look on Paul’s face as he thought he was going to have to deliver the baby at that point! To his relief, the paramedics arrived 20 mins later and another 25 mins after that little Roxana was born, at 2.02am in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

It was a little dramatic but I felt calm and in control although I have to say I underestimated how intense the experience would be. In some of the Hypnobirthing videos we saw, the girls were so quiet it made it look as though the experience was completely pain free, which for me it wasn’t. My experience was intense but I was calm and unafraid despite the circumstances. I had wanted a home birth in the first place but was discouraged, for very good reasons, by my family. I got what I wanted in the end and we love the fact we can show Roxana where she was born. We will definitely plan a home birth for number two.

Roxana is such a happy and contented little baby, we are both sure that my calm, relaxed pregnancy and her gentle (although quick!) entrance into the world are one of the reasons for this. I always recommend Hypnobirthing to my friends and anyone I hear of who is pregnant. Joan is incredibly passionate about Hypnobirthing, she really cares about her pregnant ladies and has a wonderfully gentle and nurturing way of educating people into this invaluable practice. We are both really proud to have given Roxana this fantastic start to her life.

Sarah Cannings, Hertfordshire (July, 2013) “I think I was in shock for quite a few days after Violet was born about what an amazing experience it was. It was so different to my first birth experience that it took a while to process. I am left with such a wonderful feeling of pride in what I achieved and that I created a wonderful, natural birth experience for me, my husband and our baby.” (Read More...)

The birth of my first daughter was fairly traumatic. I was medically induced at 15 days overdue. A couple of hours after being given a pessary I experienced extremely severe and painful contractions every two to three minutes until my baby was born around 20 hours later. I had several failed epidurals within this time and ended up with a forceps delivery which took over a year to recover from. When I became pregnant with my second daughter I was determined to avoid a repeat of the same experience.

I discovered hypnobirthing almost by accident, fairly late on in my second pregnancy, when I visited Joan Mills for reflexology. Joan explained the basic principles of hypnobirthing to me and it immediately made sense. I started to follow the hypnobirthing course and to practice at home with my husband but did have doubts about whether I would be able to put the principles into practice when the time came (although again I did try my best to dispel these doubts and be confident about what my body could do!).

As my due date came and went, I did everything I could to avoid the need for a medical induction. I had acupuncture, reflexology, swam, walked, gardened and jumped off kitchen work tops (I’m not sure if this is recommended but I think it worked for me!).

When I was 8 days overdue (on a Sunday night) I began to feel very light surges every few hours and wondered if it could be the beginning of labour. These surges continued for the next two days. Several times they became more intense and closer together but I was able to manage them really quite easily with hypnobirthing relaxation techniques. I had a few baths and showers, did some relaxation sessions with my husband and used the rainbow relaxation CD. I went on a beautiful walk in some bluebell woods and did more gardening! During the third night (Tuesday night) the surges became more frequent so I thought that serious labour might be about to begin as I could not believe that what I had experienced so far could be the ‘real thing’ after my first birth experience. However, by the next morning (Wednesday) the surges had tailed off and I was only getting one every hour or so.

At this point I became quite emotional and concerned that I would be in this type of labour for several more days potentially leading to the need for a medical induction. I went along to my routine midwife appointment for a check and potentially for a sweep.

At the appointment the midwife examined me and told me that I was 6cm dilated and should go to the hospital straight away as the baby would be coming within the next couple of hours! I was so so excited and felt such an amazing sense of achievement and confidence at having managed my labour so well up to that point. My midwife phoned the midwife led unit at the Lister Hospital and asked them to begin filling the birthing pool. She also warned them that I was coping with my labour very well and they shouldn’t be surprised at my lack of distress!

I was still very relaxed so my husband and I popped to Tescos for some supplies and then home to pick up our bags. We drove to the hospital and during the journey the surges became more frequent and intense. I did start to feel a bit concerned that the baby might start to come in the car but thank goodness that didn’t happen!

We arrived at the midwife led unit and got settled in. The room was nice and the staff were amazing. They read through my birth preferences and discussed with us how they could help to create the birth experience that we wanted. I walked about in the room for about an hour, continuing to manage the surges with breathing and relaxation. The midwives asked me to tell them when I was having a surge as they couldn’t tell!

Then I got into the pool. I was still very relaxed – we were joking around, taking photos and eating snacks. After another hour or so the surges started to come much closer together, about five in ten minutes. I suddenly started to cry and said to my husband that I couldn’t manage it any more and asked him to get me some paracetamol. As he got up to buzz the midwife, I told him to forget the paracetamol as the baby was coming. For me this was the most difficult part of the labour to manage. I panicked a bit and didn’t manage the hypnobirthing ‘j breathing’ very successfully. All I remember is wishing that the baby would hurry up and come out! However this part of the labour was quite short, after about 20 minutes and about six or seven more contractions Violet was born in the water. We had been at the hospital for about three hours in total. The midwives left us alone in the calm, quiet room to bond with our new baby and start breastfeeding. They were completely relaxed and supportive. I delivered the placenta naturally as I was getting out of the pool.

I think I was in shock for quite a few days after Violet was born about what an amazing experience it was. It was so different to my first birth experience that it took a while to process. I am left with such a wonderful feeling of pride in what I achieved and that I created a wonderful, natural birth experience for me, my husband and our baby.

Emma, Hertfordshire (April, 2013) “Toby’s birth was the most amazing day of both of our lives. It wasn’t easy, but the love, pride and joy we felt, and have felt for our little boy every day since are just indescribable. We feel like the luckiest people alive to have such a healthy, happy and beautiful boy.” (Read More...)

We’d named our bump ‘Limey’ due to the fact that when we told his grandpa about his existence, he was the size of a lime. It turned out that Limey was very comfortable where he was and left up to him would happily have stayed where he was for a while longer. No amount of reflexology, homeopathy, acupuncture, long walks or curry was going to get him out. Sadly the doctors had other ideas and so to my disappointment Limey was to be induced at 41 weeks and 5 days.

I tried to keep Marie’s birth affirmation of staying calm whatever my birth would hold for me in mind as we checked into the lister hospital in Stevenage. The first pessary at about 3pm had little effect, despite a lot of sideways stairs climbing. So at 10pm a second pessary was inserted. This time, the surges started in half an hour, and went from nothing to every 2 minutes almost instantly. It was a pretty intense night, partly because the surges lasted about a minute each and frequently seemed to roll into each other meaning that I didn’t even get time to have a sip I water between them, and partly because the only place I could get comfortable was on the birthing ball. Josh, despite not technically being allowed to stay, helped by putting dressing gown on and off me as I got hot and cold with the surges and he kept trying to get me to eat and drink to keep my energy levels up.

Because we were on a ward, we had to remain silent, which was tricky, and we couldn’t play all the relaxing music that we’d planned. Also, due to the fact that the surges were so frequent, there was little time to do any of the relaxation we’d practised, which was a real shame. I succumbed to a paracetamol to try to help me at one point, but there was little point!

I felt as if I must be nearly there, but kept feeling hugely disappointed when examinations suggested I was only 3 or 4 cm dilated. The nurses kept saying something needed to change, like my waters breaking, but when they did, at about 5am, still I wasn’t allowed to go the midwife led unit. In retrospect, I guess they were particularly busy, but I was desperate to get off the cold ward.

At some point in the morning i was offered gas and air and then when i needed to push i was finally whisked downstairs in a wheel chair to the midwife led unit. Our lovely doula Joan was then able to join us and as soon as we got to a quiet, bright, clean and calm room, everything began to slow down and get a lot more manageable. Joan made the room as calming as possible with music and oils, and helped both josh and me to relax a bit. My surges became less frequent and we all became happier! And I didn’t need the c-section I requested on entering the unit; thankfully the midwives just laughed at this request and told me I couldn’t just ask for a c-section.

Luckily, josh spotted a room with a pool and we were allowed to go in as it had just been freed up. Being a lover of baths I felt sure that a birthing pool would help me, but I hadn’t wanted to pin my hopes on one just in case there wasn’t one available.

Because labours often slow down too much when the mothers to be get into the water, our midwife wanted me to wait a little longer before getting in. I, however, didn’t feel like waiting as I was keen to get whatever natural relief I could. Our midwife ended up making a deal with me, that I could get in if I agreed to get out every hour or two to walk around and go to the toilet. I agreed without even thinking.

To my relief, as soon as I got into the water, I felt more comfortable and the surges felt far less intense. I knew I was meant to stay as upright as possible to let gravity help with the labour, but unfortunately for josh, the only position I felt happy in was as if I was lying in a bath. This was unfortunate for josh because I couldn’t keep my body in that position, and so my lovely husband spent the next 5 hours or so holding me up, whilst he perched behind on a birthing ball.

The following hours progressed in a bit of a haze of time. All I know is that I was so thankful to Joan and josh for their kind, supportive and encouraging words. Josh ensured I kept drinking water, lucozade and Joan’s innocent smoothies, whilst Joan concentrated on reminding me of all the hypnobirthing that I’d practised so hard for the months leading up to the birth. It really was great having her with us to remind us both of what we were aiming for.

Before too long the midwife declared that she could see the head and that Limey’s birth wouldn’t be too far away. I was finally allowed to push. I have to admit to feeling disappointed that the gains made by my pushing seemed to be fairly short lived/ I could actually feel the baby progress out and then retreat back up the birthing canal. However, I suppose he moved a little more each time and eventually we got to the stage where the midwife said “one last push and we’ll see the head”. After this, she tried to encourage me to pick my baby out of the water after the next push, but no matter how idyllic the idea of being the first person to touch my baby was, I felt as if I had done everything else in this birth and that i had nothing left, so i kindly suggested that she picked it up instead!

And then our little boy was born. I say little, one of my first memories of this baby creature on my chest was the thought that he was so heavy (or I was so weak) that I was going to drop him. It was probably a bit of both, as when he was weighed a few hours later, our ‘little’ man weighed in at 10lb 5.5oz. I was doubly glad of the water birth when our midwife also pointed out that Limey had come out with his little fist on the side of his head…

We were then able to spend the next few hours getting to know each other in a room together and by about 8pm we were allowed to go home.

Limey, or Toby’s birth (as he became) was the most amazing day of both of our lives. It wasn’t easy, but the love, pride and joy we felt, and have felt for our little boy every day since are just indescribable. We feel like the luckiest people alive to have such a healthy, happy and beautiful boy.

Anna, Hertfordshire (April, 2013) “I feel completely healed after my first birth experience and am so grateful to have had such a wonderful VBAC.” (Read More...)

“We have a little boy! He was born this afternoon at 5.30pm and at 11pm we are now all home and tucked up in bed! I am utterly over the moon!

We got to hospital at 4.30. My waters went spontaneously at 4.40, and I was checked at 6cm dilated. By 5.20 I was uncontrollable needing to push and he popped out 10 minutes later. For the last couple of contractions I didn’t do anything – my body just took over and pushed him out.

I had gas and air and must admit that I was rather loud in the end instead of cool and calm! But it was completely amazing and I am sure you are to thank for it! We had wonderful skin to skin and he is feeding like a pro.

I feel completely healed after my first birth experience and am so grateful to have had such a wonderful VBAC.

We should have a name by morning!

Thank you so so much!”

Laura, Hertfordshire (March, 2013) “Hypnobirthing really is the best way to birth your baby and Sam and I will be telling all our friends.” (Read More...)

I started early labour at 7pm Tuesday not thinking it was labour as I hadn’t had any pains! Spent the whole night watching friends, drinking a lot of water, going to the toilet and doing 20 mins of sleeping. At 8am Sam put the Tens machine on for me and went to work. Wasn’t timing surges they were only lasting 20sec every 10mins or so. Just wondered the house all day with the tens and breathed.

Sam got home at 7pm had a bath at 7.40ish. I lay on my front, did a script and then breathed through the surges. They were about 5 mins apart or a bit closer but only lasting for 20-30secs. Got out of bath at 10pm had a show. Surges got stronger every three mins but still only for 20-30 secs. Sam called midwives couldn’t decide to go in or not but was bleeding a bit so they said come in.

Went in and I was 9cm … baby fully engaged! Within an hour and half of being in hospital baby was out! I did tear a little but midwife said I breathed baby out perfectly by panting but it just wasn’t avoidable!

I must say it was a brilliant experience nothing of what I thought.

Thank you so much for your knowledge and support! Not sure I would have been so calm if not for hypnobirthing.

Staying comfortable and labouring at home really stuck with me from watching some of the births and I honestly thought this was the latent phase you told us about and that I would be labouring at home for a few days. Hypnobirthing really is the best way to birth your baby and Sam and I will be telling all our friends.

 

 

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