Evolve from the stereotypical 'rabbit caught in headlights' to become a truly 'confident birth partner':
My name is Tom and I am a Hypno-Dad… and proud of it.
This means that I played an active and crucial part in the birth of my beautiful daughter.
How? Through the application of learned; relaxation techniques, scientific facts about the incredible and complex workings of the female body during pregnancy/labour, and the relationship between these two elements within our UK maternity system (this last bit cannot be overstated).
NB at no point during pregnancy or labour were my wife or I Hypnotised….
Nearly 3 years ago my wife informed me that we were expecting, after many months of trying and more than a little heartache. I was overjoyed, of course, but my thoughts quickly turned to my only previous experience of child birth, which involved the heady cocktail of anxiety, intervention, over reliance on medical practitioners, intervention, handover of control, uncertainty, intervention, trauma….total relief, elation and gratitude.
The outcome that day was another wonderful daughter but the trauma I experienced on the journey to get there was not something I was in a hurry to repeat.
Fast forward back to that day, and onwards a few months more, and I have a book in my hands called ‘The Hypnobirthing Book’ by Katherine Graves…and an intense look on the face of my wife that said “read this..”. Having once had a book about a "contented baby" put in my hands and later regretting having ever laid eyes on it, I was immensely sceptical.
And not just that, but I wasn't in ANY WAY keen to invest in what would surely turn out to be another well-meaning but superfluous antenatal course FULL of generic statements that wouldn’t compete with the know-how and expertise of medical practitioners.
However to show willing (and with due respect to that look…), I read on, and on, and on… how wrong I had been.
What I found was a scientific, intelligent and hugely informative book that not only told me things I never knew about what a women’s body does in pregnancy and labour (some frankly awesome things), it not only taught me ways of relaxing to the point of a borderline coma! It taught me crucially that a women needs to be suitably relaxed in order for her body to do the things it is so beautifully designed to do. Oh, and that her body is perfectly designed to do so - with minimal, or zero, intervention.
It taught me that medical practices and policies are not flawless, and that the non-consensual application of them can prevent a women’s body from doing what is does naturally. When this happens there is a heightened risk of greater and greater intervention and then what? You guessed it - trauma. For her, the baby and me.
We learned how to work with medical practitioners to remain in control of this vital story rather than hand the pen over.
I learned that whilst there is no way of eradicating traumatic birth, there is a way to reduce the risk of that happening, a way to empower couples to cope with complicated births through being fully informed and prepared, and there is a way to achieve a truly wonderful birth story.
The final thing it taught me was that, as the birth partner, I was no mere by stander.
I had a crucial role in preparing for and supporting the birth.
By having my wife’s back at all times (both before and after birth), by doing all I could to create the right environment and then, most importantly, by trusting the science and my wife’s body to do what it was designed to do.
Not only did the learning and practice of this approach bring my wife and I closer together, it empowered me to take ownership and responsibility for my role and the birth of our child.
When it came to that wonderful day, my wife and I were informed and in control of every stage in the birth cycle.
The birth itself turned out to be one of the most special and beautiful experiences of my life.
One that I look back on with fond memories rather than dark ones.
For that, I am eternally grateful for that day when a small book was thrust into my hands.