I would love to write my story about how my son came into the world at home by candlelight, gentle music playing in the background as I calmly pushed him out in a relaxed haze of hypnobirth. I really would. Unfortunately, my reality was very different.
When I first discovered I was pregnant, I was determined to be the most informed I possibly could be when it came to birth. I devoured anything I could read on the subject before deciding that I wanted a home birth. I would receive one-on-one care from a known midwife, I'd be secure and comfortable in my environment, I'd be free to move around and find whatever position was most comfortable and I'd be supported by my husband, who is one of the most calming people I know and the best person to have by your side in a crisis.
I am very lucky to be married to a qualified hypnotherapist who is also trained in a number of alternative therapies. We did our research and as my pregnancy progressed, he took me through a number of scripts designed to ease labour and birth. As my due date came and went, I was relaxed and looked forward to meeting my baby, knowing that I was as fully prepared as anyone could be. There were enough stories about the wonders of hypnobirth to reassure me that there was nothing to fear about labour and I was fully confident that everything would be fine.
Sadly, my body had other ideas. Contractions started 12 days after my due date and didn't really progress. Knowing how important a home birth was to me, my midwife was very supportive of my decision not to go to hospital and suggested breaking my waters to speed up the process.
Instantly, the pain went from being manageable to feeling like I was being torn in two. It didn't matter how much I drew upon my inner strength, deep breathing and programmed coping mechanisms, it was impossible to ignore and we transferred into hospital where I ended up needing an emergency caesarean.
I subsequently found out a few years later that I had problems with my pelvis after a childhood accident and all the hypnotherapy in the world wouldn't matter - my body physically couldn't give birth. Cranial osteopathy fixed the damage and I went on to give birth naturally, but the one thing that my experience showed me is that it doesn't matter how much preparation you do, birth is impossible to predict and you can never know what will happen.
Having had three drug-free births after my first two caesareans, I know that complementary therapies can work wonders when it comes to pain management, but I also understand that they are not magic and if there is a problem with the birth process, your body will let you know. I would still recommend hypnobirthing because it did help with my younger children, just be aware that it cannot guarantee anything.