Updated: Apr 12
When I talk about my first birth, there are a few words that come to mind. Disheartened. Underprepared. Unsupported. Without a doubt the birth of my son was transformative: how could it not be? I became a mother. I became his mother. But I also acknowledge the journey to holding him in my arms, following an emergency caesarean, was traumatic.
There was a lot for me to process before I embarked on a second pregnancy and it took time for me to realise that the “go with the flow” approach to my labour with Jaego, hadn’t been the best choice for me. I didn’t have an educated understanding of the process of labour, I wasn’t properly equipped with the tools to move through the contractions and in all honesty, I don’t think I fully trusted my ability to birth my baby.
During my pregnancy with Zylah I discovered Hypnobirthing. Put simply, Hypnobirthing is an approach to labour which involves therapeutic relaxation techniques (think lots of deep breathing and immersive visualisation) to better manage contractions, minimise anxiety and help you progress through labour. I knew my labour with Zylah had to be different. I remembered vividly, the feeling of being utterly out of control and out of my depth.
An experience I could not endure again.
It was an easy decision to invest in Hypnobirthing and it absolutely transformed my outlook on labour and gave me an appreciation of my body’s true capabilities. I ended up going into labour two weeks before my due date but didn’t feel caught off guard or apprehensive. I was so, so ready to meet my baby. I was ready for labour.
I laboured at home for 14 hours before being transferred to the hospital, feeling at ease within myself, assured at my ability to ride the wave of each contraction, rather than focussing on the pain. It was the polar opposite to Jaego’s birth. I was calm and the contractions felt, dare I say it? Easy.
In the end, I delivered Zylah via emergency caesarean, but this time the procedure was entirely valid and did in fact save my daughter’s life. It wasn’t as though the caesarean was a product of my under-preparedness. As any emergency c-section mamas know, it can be a blurry, stressful experience when a baby must be delivered so quickly and so suddenly. It is rushed and can be incredibly overwhelming. Having my toolkit of Hypnobirthing techniques allowed me to remain really calm and level throughout the whole experience and my memories of her birth are so positive and empowering.
In 2021, I was accredited through Hypnobirthing International and I practice the Mongan method. Choosing this path not only felt complimentary to my work as birth photographer, but necessary. Capturing the unwavering sacrifice a birthing woman makes as she moves, sways and roars her way through each contraction is one thing, but being able to gently support her as well, seemed almost critical. The focus of my courses lies heavily in breath work, affirmations and visualisations, as I have found mothers instinctually turn to these when in the thick of labour.
What are the benefits of doing a Hypnobirthing course?
The benefits of Hypnobirthing are aplenty. One of the most transformative aspects of Hypnobirthing is it allows you to feel both informed and empowered when it comes to labour. Every labour progresses differently and the unpredictability can be unnerving, especially when you add in the intensity of contractions.
Hypnobirthing can help to reduce any tension or anxiety you have surrounding labour and allows you to decide what kind of role your partner will take on once labour begins. Having a clear idea of how to best assist you through contractions and support the progression of your labour can help you to achieve the birth you want.
How can you, as my birth photographer, support me through labour?
First of all, I am so grateful you have allowed me into your birthing space: I cannot wait to capture that journey for you! My primary role during your labour will be negotiated well before your due date.
Perhaps you’d like me to primarily remain the birth photographer and gently guide or remind your partner/ birthing companion of ways they can support you, or perhaps you’d like me to support you in a more robust sense and allow the photography to take a backseat when necessary. I encourage you to reach out so we can have an in-depth discussion around how I can best support and capture your beautiful birthing journey.
I am planning a caesarean, will hypnobirthing be useful for me?
Heck, YES. As a fellow c-section mama, I can attest to Hypnobirthing being the key to transforming my second labour. No one can predict how their labour will unfold and even those who are planning a vaginal delivery can end up delivering abdominally.
Taking a Hypnobirthing course teaches you critical breathwork for relaxation and improved comfort, how to visualise for an easier labour and tools to extinguish any limiting beliefs or fears you have around birth. Hypnobirthing is about preparing your body mentally and physically, which regardless of how you deliver, can lead to better postpartum outcomes for both mama and baby.
If you would like to know more about Hypnobirthing, are curious about how it can help you achieve the birth you desire or are interested in adding an element of Hypnobirthing support to my Birth Photography offerings, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lots of love (and Hypnobirthing!),
Written by Ayla Manicaros of VirtuallyOn https://www.virtuallyoncopywriting.com/