Now you may wonder what on earth I am on about with this post but I had an amazing chat with my awesome Nannie the other day and thought I had to share!
So my Nan never told me about her experience of childbirth when I was pregnant with Matilda (clearly she didn't get the memo about spreading the positive birth love!) but she shared with me the other day when asking how my Hypnobirthing classes were going. She started by telling me that she had a really pretty good time of it despite everything going a bit tits up. Here is a little idea of how my Uncle's birthday started. . .
My Nan in early labour and my Grandad, had just set off for the hospital in mid December in the middle of a snow storm. A very short time after starting their journey, the car kindly decided to pack up and after a failed attempt at getting the car back up and running and a dash round trying to find someone to help them, they were finally on the way to the hospital in a neighbour's car!
On arrival at the hospital my Grandad was politely told to make himself scarce (this was the 50s) whilst my Nan was shown to a bed on a ward with (in her words) other women making all sorts of funny noises! She was then basically left to get on with it. 'It' being active labour! She described to me that the contractions were a bit painful but not horrible or too difficult to manage. A few hours later when she was checked over by a midwife, they told her she was ready to give birth to her baby and was wheeled away to a birthing room. A few pushes later and out popped my Uncle. Not the kind of first labour and birth you would expect then if our society's media portrayal is anything to go by!
Now bearing in mind my Nan was a young Mother at 20 years old, I was intrigued as to whether she had been fearful of the unknown of giving birth. She said no she had not, despite having no previous experience of watching anyone give birth and no friends who had given birth before her to pass on their stories and knowledge. She had also not taken any form of antenatal class 'We didn't have these classes to teach you how to give birth'. When I asked her why she was not anxious she said she 'read a book' and 'didn't know there was anything to be scared of'. Upon further digging and a while trying to remember the author's tricky, fancy name, she proudly announced it was a book written by Grantly Dick-Read. It turns out that she had read the fantastic book 'Childbirth without fear' published in 1942, which is still popular today. Grantly Dick-Read's observations and theories are the basis of Hypnobirthing. They focus on pysiological birth and the knowledge that when fear is eliminated, natural labour and birth is a far more efficient, comfortable and often euphoric experience.
So my Nan, through the help of this book, learnt all about the natural process of birth, why it is nothing to be feared, how you can help the process to unfold easily and what you can expect.
Due to not being surrounded by stories of birth (both negative and positive) and modern media portrayals of the 'horror' of birth and informing herself of how birth works, this brilliant lady went in to her labour fear free and not with unreal expectations of what birth should be like, dictated by other people's opinions. Without masses of stories and information to process, her thinking brain was out of the picture, enabling her natural instincts to take over and allow her body to birth her baby without interference and as nature intended.
In a way, you could say that my Nan was one of the first women to learn about Hypnobirthing techniques and put into practice what she had learnt. Or you could just go with the theory that I really wanted an excuse to call my Nan a badass! Either way, she did it, and so can you!
Emma Batt, Hypnobirthing Mother of one and KG Hypnobirthing teacher.