Althea, Alex and Leah

Thank you very much for all the help you gave Alex and I in preparing for our little girl.Leah was born yesterday in the early hours of the morning.

With your help and guidance we had a natural birth with only gas and air and a tens machine for relief. We used hypnobirthing music throughout with affirmations when needed for comfort and inspiration.At the push stage ditched the tens machine and got into the pool. I was apprehensive about leaving behind the tens but the warmth of the water actually more than compensated for the machine.

The push stage progressed comfortably in the warm water, and the lovely soft lighting within the pool made for a rather magical environment.  I birthed the crown with ease, followed by the head.  We were 99% of the way to the perfect water birth, but my contractions slowed for the last push, and the nurses called for reinforcements as we were asked to climb out of the pool. A little tricky when one has a baby’s head hanging out of ones behind!

The indignity was enough to give baby and I the impetus needed for that final push and Leah slipped (slightly gracelessly) into awaiting midwives arms!Leah and I are doing well. No repair work needed, miraculously, and although she arrived blue in the face Leah is doing well now. Sleeping and feeding well.The midwife team have all praised Alex and I for the calmness of our birth, and several have commented on how much they liked our birth preferences, which were based on your teachings.

Nicola & Arianna

My birth was an amazing experience. I have relived it in my mind so many times and enjoy reading other stories. I wasn't too sure what to expect from birth, and I spent a lot of time focusing on the physical experience (everyone tells you birth is painful), however it is the emotional side of it that turned out to be far more intense (in a good way!) than I expected.

I spent the first half of my pregnancy feeling horrendous and dreading birth, and the second half reading countless books and birth stories, doing a hypnobirthing course and practising relaxation techniques. I began thinking about it as a challenge rather than something to dread. I approached birth like a marathon, getting myself in a positive and confident frame of mind and being fully informed as to what could happen. When I went into labour I felt strong and prepared.
The weeks leading up to my due date were hugely stressful as we were in the process of completely renovating a new house (crazy I know!) and planning to move into it before

our baby arrived (even more crazy!). For me the Hypnobirthing breathing exercises, positive affirmations were a welcome respite from the madness of life. My partner would give me daily massages which relaxed me and helped him connect with our new arrival.
On the 30th January I felt some tightening in my stomach as I went to bed. I wondered if it was a sign of Braxton Hicks but didn’t think too much of due date was 8 days away and we still needed to move house! I woke at 4.30am with the same tightening feeling. That morning I baked biscuits and googled "Am I in Labour". I had an urge to get glammed up so I had a shower and did my make up (the last time I did that for a while!). I still wasn’t sure if it was real labour but spent some time listening to music and my Hyponobirthing tracks, and reading over some notes on breastfeeding.

By midday the cramps were too severe to ignore so I got on my birthing ball, got out all the relaxation oils, candles and read my Hypnobirthing affirmations. My partner came home around 2.30pm. Things were starting to get pretty intense. I concentrated on my breathing through contractions, moving on the ball and sniffing lavender oil. My partner massaged my back during contractions which really helped. Even though it was the middle of the day I wanted it to be dark, and found closing my eyes or going into the bathroom (the smallest darkest room) really helped me get into the birthing zone and focus on getting through each contraction. The TENS machine was also useful. For me Hypnobirthing was about staying in the moment and focusing on each individual contraction. I stayed relaxed with music and movement. My Partner even had a bath!

At 3.30pm we called Kings Hospital, who told us it sounded like I needed to stay at home a bit longer. By 5.30pm the surges felt intense and close together so we decided to call an Uber and head to the hospital. There was a bit of confusion as the foreign taxi driver thought we wanted to go to Buckingham Palace when we said ‘Kings’! The journey should have taken 10mins but due to London rush hour traffic and roadworks it took over 30 mins – an extremely long time when you are feeling ready to push! I was on the verge of hopping on a bus as the bus lane traffic was moving faster and I knew I was about to give birth!

At the hospital the midwife took us into a birthing suite -  a lovely room with a pool, a double bed and beach murals on the walls. Kings only has two of these rooms so we were lucky one was available. Andrew set out the candles and oils and requested a water birth. The midwife examined me and said I was fully dilated! My waters then broke, and I was advised to get on a beanbag and start pushing. There was no time for the pool, or to set up gas and air! This ‘ring of fire’ was the hardest part for me, after the first push I thought ‘I can’t do this’. I remembered from my hypnobirthing training that this was the hardest part, and I shouted (in a very American fist pumping way!) “I can do this”, “I am strong”. I let out a deep wail during pushes, and harnessed all my inner strength. My Midwife and Partner were great, encouraging me (I was leaning on my Partner at this point) whilst letting me remain in ‘the zone’. 40 minutes after arriving at the hospital my gorgeous and perfect daughter was born at 7.08pm weighting 6lb 13oz.

We did skin to skin immediately and the love was intense and instant. Arianna Mary found my boob very quickly and fed well. I opted for the afterbirth injection and I delivered the placenta quickly and painlessly.  I had to have stitches (which was the worse bit as the midwife took ages and it really hurt!) and lost a lot of blood, but none of that mattered as I cuddled my beautiful baby. We stayed at the hospital overnight and I was ready to go home the next day. The endorphins from my natural birth meant left me with a massive high for the next 5 days, and feeding and bonding went well.

For me my birth was the most incredible experience of my life, and one that I love to relive in my head. I would highly recommend hypnobirthing and the tools it provided me made me feel really prepared, confident and fearless about birth.