Jamie and Thom planned to labour at home,  and go to the New Forest Birth Centre for the birth of their first baby. The found themselves in the birth centre earlier than expected - and used all the techniques they had practised - the midwives amazed at how calm she was! 

 "Afterwards my midwife said she had struggled to tell when I was having a contraction as I was so quiet! I became the talk of the hospital and biggest boost came when another midwife, who's care I hadn't been under, said I was clearly just "born to birth". But surely, all women are?"   Jamie

Hello Barbara. It was lovely to see you last week and I'm ever so thankful for your help and the role the course played in our birth.  I've written a piece  (below) on the birth and how the techniques helped us.  Jamie

My partner Thom and I had discussed the use of Natal Hypnotherapy (hypnobirthing) after watching a couple use the technique on a documentary.

After we booked the course we started to discover various friends had heard of the technique and all had very positive things to say, particularly those who had used elements of hypnosis during labour.  Although we were both keen to try the techniques, I think it's fair to say we were both sceptical and thought it may just be a bit too hippy dippy for us.We were wrong!

 The 2 day course we attended with Barbara was extremely informative and comforting in itself. For me, one of my biggest fears was eradicated on day one. I had worried Thom would feel like a spare part and would not feel included in the birth. Amongst many things, the course showed us the vital importance of the Gatekeeper role, acting as a buffer between the outside world and the bubble I create for myself during labour. I did not fear labour or giving birth but had worried about relinquishing control and feeling helpless. 

Both Thom and I read the book and listened to the birth preparation download regularly, usually at night.  We knew we would not end up sticking to our birth plan, however, writing out what we hoped to happen really helped us to visualise the kind of birth we wanted. 

Labour day..
Our due date came and I started to feel fidgety in the morning, so we decided to keep active and take a trip to the shops. As soon as we arrived back home my contractions started and were very regular and close together. We called the hospital and, as I couldn't recall much fetal movement that day, we were asked to come in to be monitored. 

We had opted for the NHS New Forest Birth Centre. This was an ideal calm, quiet and relaxing environment. The setting is very natural, with New Forest ponies just outside the windows and at one point there was even a baby deer! 

After an hour of fetal heart rate monitoring I was offered a sweep, with the intention of getting things moving over the next few days. This confused me a bit as I was having contractions but I agreed and at 6pm went for a sweep. The look on the midwife's face will stay with me forever I think...she looked at me and said "you don't need a sweep, you're already 4cm dilated! I think you'll be having this baby by midnight".

Apparently because I was so calm and relaxed nobody had realised I was actually in latent labour! 

This is where our plan started to differ from reality and, rather than labour for as long as possible at home, we spent the next 7 hours of in the hospital waiting room. Thanks to the breathing and visualisation techniques learnt on the course,  this did not phase me. I even managed to nap, waking every few minutes for a contraction. With each one I steadied my breathing, and breathed deep down into my abdomen, picturing my baby. 

When we eventually moved into the birth room,  I was out of the excitement stage and into active labour. I opted for a pool birth and the water was ever so calming, making me feel weightless almost.

After a while my body took over and with each contraction the need to push because so instinctive and primal. I ended up getting out of the pool as my body seemed to want me to try another position. The whole time I gave in to my body. I tuned out everything around me and tuned in to my breathing.  Thom ensured I drank plenty of water and spoke with the midwife so that I was not too distracted, letting her know when I was having a contraction. Even during active labour he asked if we could be left alone for a while, in order for us to listen to our relaxation download. With each contraction he made sure my shoulders did not tense up. This meant I could focus all of my energy on pushing, picturing meeting my baby with each one.

Something both of us found useful was knowing about the self doubt phase. Although I was fortunate enough to skip this part, the course prepared us for it and we had a plan in place just in case. 

At 6.35 Silvi was born, a healthy 8lb 9oz. The birth was 100% natural, with no gas & air or drugs. Although I had been open to pain relief and thought I would use the gas & air, I ended up only needing the visualisation and breathing techniques.

I am by no means a tough cookie and surprised myself! My initial fears of relinquishing control and feeling helpless proved irrelevant and in fact, I have never felt so empowered. 

Afterwards my midwife said she had struggled to tell when I was having a contraction as I was so quiet! I became the talk of the hospital and biggest boost came when another midwife, who's care I hadn't been under, said I was clearly just "born to birth". But surely, all women are?