What to do when birth plans change

So you’ve taken your hypnobirthing course, you’ve put in your practice, you’ve printed your birth plan out and you’re finally, finally at your due date.

But baby is in the ‘wrong’ position and doesn’t seem to want to put in an appearance any time soon. What now?

Well, first of all don’t panic. Panic will stop your body working as it should. Remember the nervous system responses we learnt about? Try not to fall into a continuous adrenaline fuelled fight or flight. Nothing will make a baby stay firmly where it is like a good dose of cortisol.

Second of all, know that babies and pregnant womens’ bodies are capable of amazing feats. Previously free floating, happy go lucky babies can engage and get ready to go within hours; breech babies can flip the night before they’re born (true story – my little sister did this).

I know staying calm is easier said than done and that mean voice that you ruminate on is hard to stop but here’s a few practical tips to help you stay positive when it feels like everything is going wrong.

Get your happy hormones flowing

This is so important. Stress will release cortisol which in turn blocks the body’s ability to receive any feel good oxytocin. Do something nice for yourself to break the cycle – get a massage, have a bath, do some gentle yoga, snuggle up to someone you love to cuddle. If your baby feels safe and loved (remember you share all your hormones at this point), they will find their way when the time is right.

Not booked your hypnobirthing course yet? Check out the latest class dates

Challenge your first impressions

Although a c-section may not have been in your plans originally, might it now be the right thing? Given that you’re so close to meeting your baby, might those prostaglandin gels start to look like more of a good idea? If you can reframe your choices and consider them through the lens of what’s best for baby as well as this new, very pregnant you, you may find they start to look a bit friendlier.

Stick with hypnobirthing

You can use what you learnt even more now. Make sure you double up on your positive thoughts and affirmations. Use your Power and Confidence script. Check that you’re ready to set up whatever birth space you have to be as calm, quiet and dark as possible. Talk with your caregivers to make sure they know how to help you have the gentlest versions of any induction or delivery methods you end up needing.

Know your facts from your fictions

This means staying off mumsnet and google. Just don’t go there. Get in touch with your hypnobirthing teacher or an online support group to help you pick your way through your options before you next see your midwives. So many birth stories end up embellished and even then, no two births ever happen the same way, not even with siblings, so what one mum says will probably be nothing like what happens to you.

Hypnobirthing is just as valid and useful for an induction or a c-section birth, perhaps even more so. There’s no judgement – a successful birth is any one where baby is happy, you’re healthy and can make peace with the path it took.

You still have the amazing body designed perfectly to deliver your baby; it will work for you if you let it. You might just need to work a little harder to get your mind out of the way. You can do it mama.

Hypnobirthing – should you bother?

Put really bluntly, hypnobirthing is about getting your head ready for birth, because where your head leads, your body will follow.

Whereas NCT will give you plenty of information, it will be left up to you to process it and make plans for yourself. There is also little in the way of support as you get closer towards your birth. It can be great if you meet a like minded bunch of mums but what if their plans turn out to be very different to yours?

This is where hypnobirthing can be a great choice, no matter how late on in your pregnancy you are. It will supplement what you learn at NCT classes.

Equally, if you choose not to do NCT, that’s fine too. Hypnobirthing is a complete antenatal class all of it’s own.

So how is it different to NCT?

It’s aims to reprogram your thinking about birth, not just give information

Our subconscious is really powerful. All the stories and descriptions we’ve heard about birth over the years, from hearing about our big sister’s birth to what we see in the movies, have been setting our expectations for our own experience. For mostly women, that’s 25 – 30 years of hearing that what will happen can’t be and won’t be great. That it has to be painful.

Right at the start of the classes, we challenge those assumptions by taking about them out loud and then starting to use positive thoughts combined with relaxations to allow your mind to take other possibilities on board. You’ll practice this technique every day from when you start your class until when your baby is born.

Hypnobirthing uses active fear release techniques

We believe that you can only let go of fears if you first name them and share them. Once that’s done, we can work on disproving them or showing that they can be released to be replaced with other more helpful thoughts. We will talk openly and honestly about the experience of birth and labour – they’ll be no awkward stepping around worries or sweeping fear under the carpet to enable a stiff upper lip.

No couple can predict how they will feel and react during labour. We practiced all the touch relaxations but when it came to it, I really didn’t want to be touched. This is a good example of why we teach a range of ways to relax and techniques for coping with the powerful sensations you’ll have when your labour starts. It can be thought of as a collection of options that you can pick and choose from. Medication is just one of these. Breathing is another.

Not booked your hypnobirthing course yet? Check out the latest class dates

Hypnobirthing teaches you how to make more informed choices

In classes, we will discuss how to work well with your caregivers and how to make confident decisions so you can feel like you had the best birth for you, not matter what you hoped for or how it turns out. We will talk about common terms and choices you’ll encounter plus how to ask the right questions about them. We will also work together on what to do if your birth preferences start to look less possible.

Hypnobirthing is evidence based

All hypnobirthing teachers are avid readers of birth and pregnancy research. This means that we’re at the very front of recommendations made to and by other birth professionals like midwives and obstetricians. We will share our knowledge with you and help you interpret the numbers you may hear to enable you to put them into a real world context – what will happen to you and your baby. The other reassuring aspect of this is that we don’t advocate leaving things to chance – we don’t recommend free births (those without a trained caregiver present) and we encourage you to work with, not against the birth professionals providing your care. There could be some joss sticks and chanting at your birth but that’s totally up to you!

Ongoing support until your baby arrives

Your teacher will most gladly provide ongoing email or telephone support until your baby arrives because we want you and baby to be well and happy! We are part of a huge community of women who are passionate about helping women have positive birth experiences to will help as much as we can to help you keep your plans on track or advise if your plans need to change.

Sound good? Enquire or book now

Hypnobirthing is great for dads too

I’ve had a fair few mums come to me, worrying about how their partner will cope when labour starts. Perhaps they’re afraid of blood or perhaps they’d rather sit in the hallway and wait it out and mum would rather have their support. As hypnobirthing is so logical, I’ve seen it win over even the most sceptical or stoic dads. We will clearly talk about how they can help and why it will be so effective and rewarding for the family if they do. Hypnobirthing dads often feel a stronger connection to their baby once they arrive after having been so closely involved and the couple themselves get stronger too.

Hypnobirthing encourages you to trust your own motherly instincts

We have a saying ‘Baby knows best’. This enables us to put in context and allow for the fact that each and every birth will be unique. The baby is unique and knows how to be born safely. The mother is unique too and will have her own feelings about how her birth will happen and what is best for the family. We encourage everyone to take these instincts into account, alongside medical advice, so you can make choices that are authentically yours.

There is plenty of time

Class sizes are small and we allocate more hours for the teaching than we need so there is plenty of time to ask questions and get personal. You don’t have to share if you don’t want to; you can just be sure that nothing will be rushed.

And so what benefits can you hope for if you take a hypnobirthing class?

  • Your birth is likely to be more comfortable even pain free.
  • Babies and mothers often bond more easily as they meet in a more serene and gentle way.
  • Hypnobirthing mums often have shorter labours with less drugs and medical interventions needed
  • Hypnobirths are normally less physically taxing, helping you bounce back more quickly and care for your little one more easily
  • It gives Dads (or other birth partners) an active role in labour, making sure giving birth is a shared, memorable experience for both of you

You could also try a free taster session

We need to stop gory birth scaremongering

“Oh wow! You’re pregnant! That’s amazing? When are you due? How are you feeling about – you know – the birth….? Did I tell you about my sister in law/best friend/daughter? She was in labour for 60 hours and had a c-section in the end anyway. The she couldn’t walk for a week. But I’m sure you’ll be fine… No really you will”

Agggghhh! What’s a newly expecting mother to do? Politely smile and tell these well wishers to get lost? Or politely smile and try not to listen but secretly wonder how they will cope and if they dare wish for anything better?

There is something so British (and maybe American too) about this ritual. I suspect it has it’s roots in the whole stiff upper lip, plan for the worst, be realistic mentality that seems to be part of our culture now. I’m sure the people who share the gory stories are the same ones who watch ‘One Born Every Minute’, ‘Eastenders’ and ‘Crimewatchers’ – because it’s real life right? It’s just what happens.

And so, this poor new mum goes to all her antenatal check ups and giggles nervously when the midwives start to talk about coming in to see the hospital and planning for pain relief. She goes to her NCT group and hears the birth talk covering inductions, breech babies and c-sections. Then she goes home and watches some really dramatic birth videos on YouTube because the most popular ones are the ones which are the most sensational, with the most blood.

Is it any surprise that by the time labour starts this poor new mum to be can’t sleep, can’t eat and is so afraid that she’ll take any advice she’s given from this point on, no matter what she’d hoped for?

Why do we women do this to each other? Is it mindless continuation of the norm? Or is it passing on their tale like an old war story – it was so challenging and traumatic for them that they still need to talk about it? Or worse, a brutal way to make sure nobody has it better than them?

Well – I’m here to say I’m over it.

And that I hate it.

And that women will not begin to see more positive outcomes until we buck the trends and encourage them to think differently.

We lose nothing by being positive, by educating ourselves, by planning for the best; nothing at all.

We need to put down this idea that pessimistic thinking and scaremongering equates to grown up realism. The human mind is so powerful that all words and thoughts can have great meaning.

Fortunately, for hypnobirthing mums who are dedicated to their learning and practice, the current standard ways of thinking about birth can be gently altered and challenged. I hope that at some point soon, my teaching will become obsolete.

Once women consider childbirth to be the beautiful right of passage that it is, hypnobirthing will just become birthing.

Hypnobirthing works for dads too

The stereotypical image of a man about to become a dad, the one you see in most movies, is either one of bored indifference or blind panic – neither are great ways to portray the complexities of how it can feel to become a dad.

What about the father’s natural instinct to protect his partner and their new baby? Or his ability to relax his partner just with soothing touches and a calm voice? No one talks about the hormonal changes he goes through or the research that shows he’s more likely to be listened to by medical caregivers than the mother herself.

Hypnobirthing gives fathers a very defined and proactive role during pregnancy and birth which can help them feel included as often the focus is on mum and baby. The chip-chip-chip into the solid unit of the couple starts as soon as the pregnancy is announced, when the focus begins to shift toward mum to be and baby… a baby that he will need to be father to and the mother that will badly need his support during pregnancy, labour and beyond.

How then can we be surprised that dads start to feel left out, like they’re losing their partner, like their life has been turned upside down?

We started our hypnobirthing course at about 23 weeks and I’m so glad we chose to go together. There were cheaper shorter courses, aimed at teaching only the basics to mothers but looking back, I don’t think they would have worked as well for us.

True to form, as soon as I started to announce that I was pregnant, the focus naturally started to shift towards me and the bump. I’m not a shy person but I found the attention a little frustrating – I was the one who would grow and give birth to our baby but we were a family and we were going to parent together.

I also began making birth choices early on, based on my instincts and what I knew from hearing about the (thankfully positive) experiences of friends who had had babies recently. Until we went to the class and discussed our plans with our teacher, my choices were solely mine. I think my husband supported them but from his point of view, he didn’t know enough to feel confident. Hypnobirthing helped give him the detail he needed to relax. Relaxed dads mean relaxed mothers.

Also, slightly weirdly, we knew we were going to be together for the birth and that we didn’t want anyone else around but apart from that, we hadn’t discussed what he would actually need to do to help me.

Hypnobirthing had the answers. We practiced the scripts, made decisions together and he was able to be the main communicator once I went into my birth bubble. What a superstar.

He still talks about the birth as something he’s in awe of, a kind of miracle. He tells everyone how brilliant it was. And at 10 months, my little girl is just as close to him as she is to me. We might thing twice about more sleepless nights but another birth experience doesn’t phase us one bit.