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‘I would say my labour wasn’t painful’

PUBLISHED: 12:43 27 June 2017 | UPDATED: 12:43 27 June 2017

Suzanne Mildinhall and her daughter, Gretchen, who was born in 2014.

Suzanne Mildinhall and her daughter, Gretchen, who was born in 2014.

Archant

It’s name makes it sound a little ‘new age’ but hypnobirthing is becoming surprisingly mainstream and what’s more, say those in the know, it can take a lot of the pain away from giving birth. Suzanne Mildinhall, who trained as a hypnobirthing practitioner after using the technique during her daughter’s 2014 birth, told Sheena Grant more...

Suzanne Mildinhall and her daughter, Gretchen, at five months old. Suzanne Mildinhall and her daughter, Gretchen, at five months old.

I wanted something to keep me calm and cool throughout my pregnancy and labour

I had previously had two miscarriages before I was pregnant with my daughter, Gretchen, and so was anxious because of those experiences. Like every parent, I wanted to bring my baby into the world in the calmest, most loving way possible so I looked into things that could help me. Hypnobirthing made sense when I read about it because it works with your body in a natural way.

I think there should be an element of hypnobirthing in every antenatal course - it could change the way we view birth in a generation

Even in the time since I had my daughter hypnobirthing has become more mainstream. When I mentioned it at my antenatal class I was almost laughed at but now lots of hospital midwives have been trained in it (and some hospitals offer classes). It’s recognised it can save the NHS money as women who have learnt hypnobirthing generally require less drug intervention during birth. Hypnobirthing allows women to have conversations that are positive about giving birth, rather than the horror stories you all-too often hear. I researched hypnobirthing and it was just so simple and natural I thought, ‘how could it not work?’. I kept active, ate well and spent a large proportion of the last six weeks of my pregnancy on my gym ball or in the ‘polar bear’ position, to ensure baby was in the right position. I used visualisations and affirmations to reinforce my confidence and ability to birth on my own. I also included my husband who would be my birth partner in the decisions around what we would do. He wanted to play a really active role in our experience and this meant the world to me.

I would say my labour wasn’t painful

It was uncomfortable at times, of course, but as I had complete faith in my ability to birth, I surrendered to the birth process and let my instincts take over; my body did what it was meant to do without me even thinking about it. Hynobirthing is helpful to every situation. Even if you require an emergency caesarean you can use breathing techniques to remain calm. I had an induction at 42 weeks as I was getting very high blood pressure and had protein in my urine but I felt really calm and asked for the minimum intervention possible. I did use a TENS machine (which helps control pain with a mild electric current) but had no gas and air or other pain relief.

People are sometimes put off hypnobirthing because of the name

They imagine it’s something it’s not and the name can conjure up images of stage hypnosis and people like Darren Brown. But hypnosis is simply being in a state of deep relaxation and a course of hypnobirthing gives you the ability to induce this state in yourself in order to assist the natural processes of labour. It’s really a collection of breathing techniques for relaxation and guided visualisations to maximise your opportunity for a calmer, more relaxed birthing experience. It’s about having a basket of tools and skills to use to make the birthing experience more enjoyable and memorable. Hypnobirthing doesn’t have to be about home births, water births or no drugs. It gives you the control and opportunity to maximise the chances of having a natural birth. You can use hypnobirthing techniques for a caesarean or medically-assisted deliveries. If you feel you need some assistance through medication, you can have it, but at least you’ll be informed about what you might be offered and why. You need to focus on your breathing and get ‘in the zone’ when you are in labour. If you can do that it takes the fear away and it doesn’t hurt as much as it can. When you’re not relaxed, adrenaline kicks in.

You can even use it at the dentist’s chair, well, the breathing anyway

Once you know how to get that state of relaxation you can use it in other areas of life. I find that nowadays it comes in handy to help with a headstrong toddler.

I trained as a hypnobirthing practitioner myself when I was made redundant.

I loved being pregnant, despite the previous experiences I’d had, and becoming a mum, so when my husband suggested I look on the redundancy as an opportunity to do something else I knew this was the right thing. I qualified last August and have probably been involved in eight or nine pregnancies so far. I live in Stowmarket but have worked with couples all over the area - the furthest so far as been North Walsham. I created my practice, Balanced Birth, to be accessible to everyone so they can be empowered with knowledge and skills to help them achieve the birth they want. Sometimes we need assistance and not everything goes to plan but, by using hypnobirthing, you can remain calmer and more informed. You have the ability to change the way you experience birth - it’s an amazing event that will change your life and it will feel amazing to know you have prepared for it in the best possible way for you all, including your baby.

■ www.balancedbirth.co.uk

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