I’m still basking in the afterglow of the Olympics and sharing it all with you lucky ducks who are probably well over it at this stage! Apart from the boxing giving me inspiration for How Long is 90 seconds?, watching the swimmers with their headphones on right up to poolside and listening to the language used by athletes of all disciplines during interviews reminded me of the similarities between sports psychology and hypnobirthing. It makes perfect sense to me that the philosophy of one could be applied to the other, given that they both involve the mental preparation for a defined, time sensitive, challenging physical event.
I used the Gentlebirth homestudy programme during my pregnancy and I’m sure this sounds hyperbolic but the programme really did change my life. Not in the tabloidy “I left behind my old life and found who I really am” kind of way but practicing the programme and internalising the thought process had a deep effect on me that has influenced my thinking in other aspects of my life apart from pregnancy and birth.
The Gentlebirth programme was created specifically for Irish users and is designed with an understanding of how the Irish maternity system works. It involves listening daily to audio tracks and using a workbook to prepare your mind for labour and birth by addressing your fears and anxieties and turning around your thinking so that you are calm, confident and in control. It also helps you to build a toolkit to keep out negative thoughts and influences and to tune into your body and its natural instincts. The workbook is particularly useful for providing information on how hospital policies operate and empowers you to get the birth that you want rather than what might be convenient for them.
Some women listen to their Gentlebirth tracks while they’re in labour and find it really helpful. I didn’t do this because I needed all of my concentration to focus on getting from one breathe to the next but it was Gentlebirth that gave me the tools to know and focus on this. If you have read my birth story, then you know that I firmly believe that the programme was fundamental in the positive experience that I had.
Just as importantly though, it really had such a positive effect on me during my pregnancy and in the weeks after the birth. It really helped me to get good quality sleep. It helped me turn Baby S when he was in a breech position. My first listen to the Gentle Induction track conincided with the day I went into labour.
I was hugely sceptical of the affirmations initially. They sounded pukily happy clappy to me but they were a great track to march along to when I was out walking and once I got into the swing of it, I found them hugely powerful. Even now, when I hear people talk about women having MASSIVE bumps and probably having a HUGE baby, straight away my brain – followed swiftly by my mouth – automatically says “your baby is the perfect size for your body”. It just comes out. I must say it a lot actually because a friend recently said to me that she has repeated it to other people after hearing me say it and realising that it’s true. I’m such a convert to affirmations that I use them daily to remind myself what an awesome lady I am 😉
I was on a high for weeks after Baby S was born. Even though my body was exhausted, my head would be racing and I would listen to a track called New Mother Meditation to help quieten my mind and relax enough to nod off. Honestly, if I didn’t have this to help me sleep I would have been walking around wide-eyed and delirious like a loon.
It was so lovely to have access to a tool that takes something that is culturally shrouded in so much fear and negativity and turn it into something positive and life affirming. Which it is, of course! I looked forward to giving birth and I believed my body could do it. These days I find that I believe I can do other things too so I just go and do them. Hurray!
The beauty of Gentlebirth is that it is a universal tool for pregnant women, regardless of their birth options. Whether you’re planning a natural birth, thinking of an epidural, having an induction or scheduled for a Caesarean, there is something for all of those scenarios in Gentlebirth so that you can have the best possible outcome for you and your baby. I know that reads like a sales pitch but in all honesty it’s because I love it so much. I’m happy to cheerlead it for anyone who’ll listen!
Have you any thoughts or experiences about hypnobirthing?
There a couple of great bloggers out there who have also been through the programme. Mama.ie has a post called There Is A Better Way to Give Birth and a whole host of other hypnobirthing related articles if you’d like to check them out.
The Mama’s Hip blog also has a post called Overcoming Your Birthing Fears with Gentlebirth.
The birth stories of both ladies talk about the positive influence of Gentlebirth on their experiences and are well worth a read.