“Is she going to arrive on a cloud?”
“Is she going to be clanging hand bells and talkiiiing liiiiiike thiiiiiiis?”
“So she’s teaching you how to BREATHE?”
All the questions my dad asked when I mentioned Susie and I were about to embark on a day long Natal Hypnotherapy session.
Since we first discovered she was up the duffers, my good lady was 100% set on trying out what some people call hypnotherapy. For most people, that sets alarm bells ringing (or hand bells, if you’re my dad) and you can practically see images of swinging watches and umming and ahhing whirring past people’s eyes as they weigh up how much of a hippie you are. And in fairness, when Suz first mentioned it, I had no bloody idea what she was going on about. I just wanted her to stop doing sicks and crying so let her keep talking about it.
It turns out Natal Hypnotherapy (founded by the amazing Maggie Howell, who we were lucky enough to be visited by) is purely a way for a woman to tap into her subconscious during labour and work with her body to eliminate any fear or pain during the process. Obviously it doesn’t mean you’d be able to get through birthing a baby rhino while watching Corrie… it’s just a brilliant way to aid with relaxation. And Suz was really keen to get practising.
Firstly, there are some CD’s and a book you can get off the internet. My girlfriend has spent many an evening listening to her portable CD player (almost to the point she resembles the brother from There’s Something About Mary) while nibbling on sponges, and she’s ready to delve into the book for some last minute revision. It is something you have to keep practising at home; slowing your breathing down and learning how to switch off doesn’t always come terribly easily, but Suz almost seems excited for the big day to arrive so that’s something.
The biggest thing for me, and I have to be honest… was that although I was up for getting involved in the session, it was mainly because I wanted my girlfriend to feel supported right before she pushes a mound of human out from her box. I wasn’t against Natal Hypnotherapy, but I hadn’t read up on it and didn’t think it would be particularly beneficial to me at all.
Well, how wrong I was.
Now I feel ready. Now I feel like a superhuman midwife man hero. I am here! I am equipped with relaxation techniques! And I am ready to conquer the bejesus out of my girlfriend’s womb! I’ve been taught ways in which I can help slow breathing, encourage without making Suz want to kill me (she will probably still want to kill me) and work with the midwives to make sure everything goes smoothly and suits our birth plan. All silliness aside, I’d presumed I’d just *be* there when the day came… I’d make sure Suz got what she wanted and try not to vomm all over my baby’s head when it comes to cutting the chord. Now I feel like I’ve got a purpose and can actually help. And along with discovering I have a ‘very good relaxing voice’ which doesn’t sound eerily pervy, it was hugely useful to both of us. As mentioned earlier, Maggie visited us at home and went through the sort of birth we’re aiming for, and gave us advice on how to get it. She also filled us in on things we had no idea about like delayed cord clamping and when oxytocin will be kicking in, plus I got a little business card with tonnes of pointers just in case I get to the hospital and have a complete flipping meltdown for a few minutes. Hopefully I can just wave that about and regain some composure.
I really wanted to make sure I wrote a blog post about this because birth needs to be something the men are fully prepared and involved in. And actually, I think a lot of guys want to be, we just don’t know how. It’s really easy to feel helpless. If you think your wife/girlfriend might be keen on giving the whole Natal Hypnotherapy a whirl then as a couple, we couldn’t recommend it more. Get on the net, grab the CDs, books, DVDs, the lot and get practising. Suz is yet to give birth, we’re a matter of weeks away, so I can’t say whether or not the methods will work. However… even if they don’t, it certainly won’t be detrimental. And if we’re this calm going in to it, then it can only be a positive thing.
Side note: we were taught a technique called ‘Shaky Apples’ which I won’t go in to, but which I did drunkenly beg beg Suz to do while I was being violently sick following beer pong at our end of summer BBQ on the weekend. So, if anything, Maggie and her team are worth getting round just to be given a whole new host of ways to get through that sort of hell.