I had always wanted a drug-free, natural and active childbirth experience. A friend of mine, Dr. Alan Fahey, was a hypnotherapist and suggested I use hypnotherapy as a means of pain control. I had used his relaxation tapes before becoming pregnant and found they were excellent to use as a 20-minute recharge in the afternoons. We did a few hypnotherapy sessions concentrating on deep relaxation, positive thinking and visualization (imagining that the contractions were like a wave coming into a rock pool that I was floating in). These were taped, and I could use them when I got home. During the third trimester, I was listening to a 20-minute tape every day and had a session about once a fortnight.
All was progressing smoothly throughout the pregnancy–no morning sickness or high blood pressure, or any other complications. In fact, I was still riding my horse until 36 weeks! The day of Taylor's arrival, I had funny feelings in my abdomen. At 4:30 p.m. on my way to Dr. Fahey's office, I started timing these feelings, which were coming five minutes apart and lasting around 30-40 seconds. I thought this is it. We did one last session and I went home to have a shower and some dinner. Tim, my husband, was trying to stay as calm as I was, but I could tell he was anxious to go. He had a good knowledge of relaxation exercises and together we had written some ideas down that he could use as my support during the birth.
We were at the hospital at 8:30 p.m. and I was four centimeters dilated. The evening progressed smoothly. Taylor's heartbeat was very steady and I was so relaxed, I was almost asleep. I was aware of the contractions–they were like muscle tightness. It was probably similar to running a great distance and feeling your legs, but not having it bother you. I had also briefed the midwives to use positive words (for instance, "discomfort" instead of "pain"). Tim talked me though breathing, visualizations of some of the beautiful places we had known and we let my body instinctively do the work.
By midnight, I was fully dilated and was starting to push. We tried all kinds of positions–standing, kneeling, the birthing stool, the couch–but Taylor didn't want to come out. Apparently his head was flexed back and was getting stuck. After four hours of pushing (tiring work!) the doctor decided to use the vacuum and then out he came, and I must admit that was a relief! Twenty minutes after coming into this world, he was latched well onto the breast and has been a healthy and content baby ever since.
I would definitely recommend relaxation, even if you need to have anesthetics–it will reduce the anxiety and make the whole experience as best as possible.