Inspiring birth stories & testimonials
All births; all ways, in all places…
2nd baby, home water birth (Click here to watch Bekki’s inspiring labour & birth video.)
We are completely overwhelmed with the arrival of our beautiful little girl. With the help and support of Gemma we managed to achieve our home pool birth with no pain relief or gas air just pure natal hypnotherapy, she was breathed into this world calmly. It was the most amazing experience of our lives!!! So happy to have her here with us!!! I was euphoric after giving birth and can’t stop talking about it! Anyone that is expecting and interested in doing natal hypno – its the way forward!!! DO IT!! It really works!!!
We took part in this incredible workshop with the inspirational Gemma Nealon. After having quite a difficult long medicated and disconnected labour first time round I went in carrying some apprehension about my next journey to my baby.
I left feeling confident, empowered, inspired and so excited about having more natural birth and confident in my ability as a women. Gemma’s workshop offered me the opportunity to be in a better place and completely transformed the whole way I thought about birth- it was educational and changed my whole experience.
My partner came along and he loved it- it really gave him confidence and gave him a role; a home birth was his suggestion. Gemma, who was brilliant, and the workshop gave me so much focus and made me so sure I could be in control. We both are so pleased to have taken part, just what we needed thank you for the empowerment! Natal hypno get involved!!!
Eilidh & Dale
2nd baby, (hospital birth/physiological birth)
If you are at all anxious, worried or scared about labour then DO this workshop! It’s absolutely changed me and my husbands outlook and we left excited and looking forward to the birth of our second child, and I didn’t actually believe that was possible!
My first labour left me feeling pretty traumatised. In my mind I was planning a calm, natural birth but in reflection I hadn’t prepared my mind or body and the usual birth scare stories were all I heard. So after seeing how powerful natal hypnotherapy was for friends of mine, when we found out we were expecting again, I immediately knew I had to prepare myself if I wanted the kind of labour I hoped for.
The workshop was so powerful and informative. We left feeling empowered and prepared for a calm, natural birth.
We were planning a home birth, and we were both so so excited to have our second baby at home so when I found out my Fluid levels were low around 36 weeks and a home birth was no longer advised, I was so disappointed. But Gem was there with her positive outlook and amazing advise and reminded us we could still have a calm, positive labour at hospital….and boy she was right!!
My contractions started as very small little niggles on Thursday evening
(I actually thought they were Brixton hicks and not the real thing!) I went to bed as normal and tried to sleep. On Friday morning they were still there, but continued with my day as normal still not believing it was the beginning of labour! I took my daughter to play group and met friends for a coffee. Whilst my daughter was napping at lunch time, I began to notice the ‘niggles’ were coming every 5 mins and lasting a 40 seconds…maybe this was the beginning of things after all!
I continued with my afternoon and playing with my toddler. By dinner time, some of contractions were becoming more intense so my parents arrived to take my daughter and my husband arrived home.
At that point we really started to put in place all the advice given by Gem. We got all excited together, went for a nice walk, came home and had some food, I had a shower and created our ‘baobab tree’ in our bedroom and got into bed with the hypnotherapy tracks. Things then started to progress pretty quickly, I was having to really focus on breathing through the contractions by now and couldn’t speak through them anymore. At that point my husband called ahead and we made our way to hospital. Throughout the journey I was totally in the ‘zone’ using the tracks to help stay relaxed and calm. Within a few minutes of arriving at hospital my contractions started to feel ‘pushy’ so I just went with my body, it knew it exactly what to do without anyone having to tell me. I had hoped to deliver in the birth pool but our baby had other ideas…she was coming! An hour after arriving at hospital our daughter was born, she was breathed ( and moaned!) into this world! I had managed the natural birth I had always dreamed of but didn’t truly believe was possible. I felt amazing, like a women warrior!
Throughout my contractions I kept on reminding myself that my body knew what to do, all I had to do was relax and breath. If anxiety crept it, I was able to push it out by repeating my affirmations. My husband was amazing throughout, he was there with me every step of the way and was so supportive.
I can honestly say, I loved my labour. And (I never thought I would say this!) but it wasn’t painful, intense yes, but not painful. The power of the mind amazes me- through Gems course I was able to train my mind to be positive about labour and it truly worked! Not once did pain relief enter my mind, I was just so focused on breathing and relaxing.
I can now raise my daughters to not fear labour, but to be in awe of how amazing and strong us women are
Jennifer & Martin Campbell
1st baby, birth centre/ hospital (forceps birth)
- Jennifer’s perspective:
Thank you do much for all your help and advice. I am so ecstatic to send you the text you told me I would be sending: ‘Natal Hypnotherapy actually works!‘
I am delighted to tell you of the fashionably late arrival of our girl (you were right about that too!) Arabella Grace Campbell at 2.08am on 7 May 2016. She tipped the scales at 9lbs 6 1/2 oz (!) and immediately made a mockery of the old adage ‘big girls don’t cry’! She’s settled down now though and is sleeping peacefully. My waters broke at around 2am on 6th May. I had a 100% positive birth experience and in fact enjoyed it!! I laboured for 24 hours from waters breaking/contractions beginning and went to the birth centre at 4-5cm dilated. I had a great experience there until Lady ‘A’ poo’d and so had to be transferred to labour ward.
I had a great experience in the labour ward, became fully dilated pretty quickly and pushed for an hour. The Natal Hypnotherapy worked from the contractions beginning at home right until the end. I went completely into my own body and didn’t need to listen to any tracks/do anything other than relax and breathe. In fact it was made worse any time Martin suggested taking me off course i.e. watch films/listen to music/send texts etc. It was just like my body knew what to do and I kept hearing your/ Maggie’s Howells voice over the course constantly. Ultimately Lady ‘A’ didn’t/wouldn’t turn-she was the wrong position- sort of squint/ back to back I think – and was stuck (which I could pretty much feel- I am sure I would have got her out otherwise) So, I ended up with a spinal and rotational forceps delivery!! The doctors and nurses in the theatre were wonderful but the pain now postnatally is the worst part by far. Thank you so much again for your support to Martin and me over the last few weeks- we both really appreciate it xx
- Martin perspective:
I want to add my thanks to those already given by Jenny in the invaluable and immeasurably part Natal Hypnotherapy played in making our daughter Arabella’s arrival into this world such a positive and fulfilling experience for all concerned.
I know that Jenny has already given you a summary of her birthing experience, but I thought it would be worthwhile also giving thepartner/cheer-leader/gate-keep
As you were well aware Jenny had almost an innate fear of labour (originating from severe period pains from her teens onwards) combined with a degree of self-doubt (very much mis-placed!). Jenny and I had found the hypnotherapy course very beneficial and Jenny had listened to the hypnosis tracks on a daily basis. I was completely on-board with the underlying philosophy and the key principles of breathing, relaxing and focusing in order to achieve your goals (whether it be work, sport, birth, etc..).
Jenny remained cool, calm and collected throughout the whole nearly 24 hour experience (as did Arabella based on her heart rate!). This was despite the following “speed-bumps” which could have sloweddown the natural progression of
- Not being able to keep down liquids and ultimately needing an anti-emetic injection.
- Road works that started between Jenny’s waters breaking at 2.30am and us leaving for the hospital in the afternoon that created an unexpected traffic jam on our road.
- Arabella choosing to deposit her meconium while still in the womb which meant both a move from the relaxed atmosphere (‘baobab tree of the birthing centre to the general labour ward and mother/baby being put under constant observation.
- Arabella choosing to continue to lie side-on meaning that she wouldn’t budge past a certain point during the ‘pushing phase’.
- Jenny being taken into theatre and administered an epidural to enable the doctors to initially try and turn Arabella by hand before ultimately have to use forceps. Jenny then delivered Arabella herself.
None of these potential adrenaline hits seemed to have an adverse impact on the timing of Jenny’s contractions or the natural progression of the birth. Jenny remained “in the zone” throughout the whole experience and only took gas/air up to the point that an epidural became the only viable option. The mid-wives and doctors were all very surprised/impressed that Jenny had progressed so far with basically breathing alone – hats off to the benefits of oxytocin and endorphins!
All the staff at the Royal were first class andI think really assisted in providing a reassuring, safe and protectedenvironment during the birth. The midwife’s did their best, even when taken outof the birthing centre, to try
and put into practice Jenny’s birth preferences. The scene that met me when I arrived in the operating theatre will remain withme a long time – Jenny sitting on the operating table having a chat and a laughwith the members of the medical team as if she was socialising over a glass of wine!
The little part I played in the proceedings simply involved me remaining positive and to keep other people’s potential negative comments (e.g. are you finding it really hard?! Are you tired!? I know its difficult/sore?! Are things not proceeding well!?!) at bay, providing reassurance as and when required, trying to keep Jenny as hydrated as possible and to mop her brow with ice water with my special Boots ‘magic’ sponge (and to eat any food ‘in secret’ in the toilet!). My recollection was that Jenny’s only real dip came having just been given the positive news in the labour ward that she was now 8cm dilated.
Jenny at this point said that she was really tired and thought that an epidural would be required – Jenny has since clarified that she took this as being “only 8cm” and had hope to hear that she was fully dilated at that point! This was very much Jenny’s marathon mile 17! Thankfully both the midwife and myself were on the same wavelength and some quick reassurance/distraction put Jenny straight back on track.
Anyway, a huge thanks again from a very proud husband/father for making this
such a rewarding and positive experience and memory that will last with us for
Katy & Colin Douglas
2nd baby, home birth (water birth)
I would genuinely do it all again this second it was that amazing!!! Max is our second baby, my first pregnancy and labour was great, it was by no means terrible and it didn’t leave me scared but I knew I wanted a calmer more relaxed experience this time whatever that looked like. After Gemma’s Natal Hypnotherapy workshop learning about the ‘facts of life’ we decided to go for a home birth. We used the Natal hypnotherapy tracks usually daily right up and over my due date to 42 weeks before going into labour naturally.
Labour was a slow burner initially with what seemed to be just tightenings for a good 24 hrs, we got all excited and got the birth pool ready but it didn’t come to anything that night. However, when a midwife examined me in the morning I was already 4cms dilated; almost half way with no ‘pain’!
We went about the day as normal, I went to yoga, we went out for tea, had a long walk. By that evening I was getting a bit frustrated so got right into the hypnotherapy tracks to stay calm and let go. The whole time I just focused on the words ‘my body will not let me down now’ I’m still using that mantra when I start stressing about my milk supply! Eventually my waters broke at 9.30pm and the contractions were intense but nothing un-manageable I just focused on them as sensations, heat and power. We were so in the zone we didn’t call the midwives until my contractions were every 2 mins apart!
The water was amazing and just took the edge off the intensity. I felt it all happened so quickly but really I was in established labour for about 4hrs with contractions every 2-5 mins (no concept of time at all!!) I felt the need to started pushing. Comparing this to when I pushed the first time round with an epidural, it felt amazing, my body knew exactly what to do; some of the contractions were just small so I gave a little push, some were big so I used them, I could do exactly what my body was telling me because I was so calm and controlled. Sometimes I found it difficult to relax my body during contractions as much as I tried, so focused instead on really relaxing every muscle in between and using the time to rest and collect myself.
After 45 mins of pushing our big beautiful baby boy (9lbs 6oz) was born in our front room peacefully exactly as we wanted. The first hands to touch him and pull him from the water were mine, to see what sex, to hold him and kiss him. My husband’s laugh when we saw he was a boy is possibly the best part of the whole experience. We delayed cord clamping and I delivered my placenta naturally. I felt so amazing after having just birthed this amazing baby boy, pain relief crossed my mind once but was gone in one contraction.
The preparation we did through Gem’s workshop, listening to the hypnotherapy tracks and doing the preparation was enough to stay so calm and to let no fear or tension in. I found the birth affirmations really powerful and had a couple that really stuck with me, mainly that my body wouldn’t let me down and contractions are just sensations. Coconut water, ice lollies and a cold face cloth also added to the experience!!!
I’m going on now, but I loved giving birth so much I could just go on forever, last thing, my recovery time, I felt amazing after this birth I didn’t feel I really needed ‘recovery’ time. I needed time to adapt and let my emotions settle (and still settling!!) but didn’t feel the physical discomfort I did after my first labour. The lack of intervention and the instinctive birth I had has set me up for a far more comfortable, confident and instinctive first few days, weeks, months with baby. Now I just need to find the hypno track to set me up with a toddler and a newborn…?! I hope our experience can offer some positive encouragement to others to have an amazing birth wherever and however that may be!
These births are addictive! Katy & Colin xx
1st baby, (induction of labour/physiological birth)
I was recommended by my Midwife to contact Gemma when I mentioned I was intrigued by hypnobirthing, I didn’t know a great deal about it but figured anything that could help me deal with the unknown of labour and birth was definitely something I wanted to explore.
Now a little about me… I’m 27 and have avoided hospitals my entire adult life. They terrify me! Doctors.
At 36+6 it was a Sunday, and we had gone to the Christmas panto that day (laughed all day, lots of oxytocin!) and that night 11.30pm my waters broke in the house. Cue excitement and a little adrenaline and Dougie and I holding hands and breathing together as we thought baby imminent! I phoned labour ward to let them know and because I was early they wanted to see me, uh oh this means hospital earlier than I thought. Okay, I’ll be home in a few hours to labour at home I’ll be fine… Get to hospital, consultant comes in, tells me they want to put me on a drip, give me an epidural, followed by horrible speculum exam followed by BP check and guess what, blood pressure is sky high. I try to explain I’m not good in hospitals and that it’s nothing to worry about, but of course I get kept in because of it and Dougie gets sent home. I managed to stop crying for long enough to explain to the consultant that I don’t want an epidural and I don’t want the drip, and so long as baby is ok, can they give me more time? Different consultants said different things but eventually they said they’d give me 36hours so till Tuesday morning, but I couldn’t go home. For me, this was my absolute worst
nightmare. Every blood pressure check was sky high, 153/102 at one point! And the adrenaline was taking over, everything that I didn’t want! The whole time I was watching the clock and counting down these 36 hours knowing at the end of it was a drip and an epidural which I did not want. The only reason I got through those 36 hours of hospital, with 4 hourly checks on me and baby, was listening to my tapes, curtains shut, lavender oil sprinkled and fairy lights on. I had made my little bed my cocoon of safety, my baobab tree, and I breathed, and breathed and breathed.
Tuesday morning came, and at 6am I was woken by a consultant I hadnt yet seen, she explained that at 7am they’d get me my epidural and get me on the drip as we couldn’t wait for baby any longer. I burst into tears and begged was there no other option, shaking like a leaf. She asked my concerns and I explained that I was so hoping for a natural birth with
nothing false and I wanted to be relaxed and I knew that was all ruined now thanks to my hospital stay. She said that one other option was a pessary and they’d give that 12 hours to work and then that was it, drip and epidural. I agreed to the pessary as although it was a helping hand, to me it wasn’t as extreme and I did understand that it had been so long since my waters broke so I did need to hurry baby along. So 7am Tuesday morning, the Midwife popped in the pessary – even though my legs shook the whole time, it was easy. The Midwife shut my curtain whilst saying I’d feel nothing for a few hours and they’ll give it 12 hours to work.
By half 7 I had had 5 strong contractions, I was sure of it. Buzzed the Midwife, who told me nope, I wasn’t even 1cm when she put it in so it won’t be contractions yet. I listened, and thought oh dear, if that’s not a contraction then they must really hurt! So, every 7minutes, I used my breathing, closed my eyes and told myself my affirmation ‘every pain, every contraction gets me closer to meeting you’. 6minutes apart…5minutes apart…By half past 9, i was bent over the arm chair, pressing my head into the back of it, rocking on my tip toes and breathing into it. The contractions were coming on top of one another and I text my husband to say ‘ come now!’. I buzzed the Midwife and she said no, it’s not contractions yet, your next check is at 11am but let me bring you a paracetamol!
5minutes later, I buzzed again and demanded a cervical check, she tutted and said okay let’s take the pessary out, you’re not dealing with the pain very well. One part of my brain was saying the baby is coming, and the other part was saying the Midwife must be right, how can I do this for the next ten or so hours! I managed to climb on the bed and then everything happened very fast! The Midwife in surprise said oh! Baby is coming, your 8cm we need to get you down to labour ward! And I was frantically wheeled down through the hospital corridors, in and out of lifts, and into the labour ward. Thankfully, Dougie got there just as I was coming into labour ward, so this was about 10.30am, and another 30 odd minutes of contractions and then I could start pushing. Wow! I can honestly say I enjoyed this stage, the satisfaction, the relief, and the amazement of my body completely taking over and pushing this baby out. I almost felt like I was catching up with my body and it really did do all the work for me. Dougie was amazing, between pushes he was in my ear doing 3.2.1 relax, our special touch and had a cold cloth on my head, we were so in sync it was incredible. Just as she was about to be born, they realised she was coming face up, so told me it was going to be harder to push her out, I took some gas and air and was given a little cut and two pushes later my little baby girl was in my arms at 11.51am. Only at that point did I realise I hadn’t opened my eyes since being in the ward.
My labour experience was everything I feared, did so not go to plan, and yet I still managed a natural, minimal pain birth! I cannot explain enough, how I couldn’t have managed this, my hospital stay and the discussions around induction without this course and the techniques I learned. Not only did it help me relax, it helped me have the confidence to ask what my other options were, not simply accepting what the first consultant said, and to listen to my body.
Gemma is simply put – amazing. There is no thank you big enough, she helped me bring me baby girl into the world safely, naturally and made me feel like an absolute superstar in doing so! Gemma, we love you.
Ilaria Nardini & Alistar Gray
1st baby, (labour ward/ physiological birth)
My fiance and I recently attended Gemma’s Natal-Hypnotherapy course in the lead up to the birth of our first child and WOW! I can’t recommend both Gemma and her course enough!!! The two-day course was split over two weekends, allowing time in between to reflect and practice the hypnotherapy. The course not only helped my fiance (and me) to become more confident about birth, it allowed us to become and to fully appreciate and enjoy what is such a beautiful moment in life. As a Dad I was also equipped with various tools and techniques to help throughout labor and I used of all them to great affect (at least I think I did). We arrived to the hospital with my fiance 8cm dilated and gave birth to our beautiful daughter ‘Rumi’ an hour and a half later, all natural. Rumi was breathed into this world. Thank you Gemma for all your support and guidance
This is my first baby and I wanted it to be as natural and non medicalised as possible. I heard more negative than positive birth stories and started to feel a bit anxious, until I met my fiance friends who told me about Gemma and the natal hynpotherapy workshop they attended. They had such wonderful positive birth stories, and their partners especially raved about it, so we attended the course and we never looked back!
When we got to the hospital I was 8cm dilated, there was a slight panic from the midwife as she recorded the baby’s heartbeat at 60bpm. I had to be transferred to the the labour ward for constant monitoring. Even when there could be a real adrenaline blip, the hypnotherapy kept me calm, I felt totally in control and knew intuitively that she was fine. We had our baby girl an hour and half later, all natural with no pain relief.
I can honestly say it was such an amazing experience. I totally went into a my natal hynpotherapy zone. I listened to the birthing music the whole way through, I repeated 1,2,3 relax which instantly softened my whole body, repeated my positive affirmations and I honestly felt like I breathed my baby out into this world. Not forgetting my fiance who was amazing and so tuned in throughout the whole process. He took control throughout keeping intervention to a minimum, creating our safe baobab tree, joining in my 1,2,3 relax and repeating positive mantras with me.
1st baby, labour ward (induction/physiological birth)
As an older 1st time Mum, pregnant after a long period of invasive infertility, I was desperate for normality and to regain some control.Attending Gemma’s workshop my husband and I felt empowered to ask for a home birth, confident in our ability in managing our emotions during labour and birth. My husband and I are shy and would normally avoid workshop situations but Gemma’s enthusiasm was infectious.
As the pregnancy continued, the skills we learned helped us adapt our our wishes as the situation changed (my blood pressure increased at the end). In the end we couldn’t even use the birthing centre and I was induced – the opposite of my image of labour! My successful labour and delivery was all down to Gemma’s workshop and the hours of preparation I’d put into listening to the various Natal Hypnotherapy CDs.
The midwives didn’t believe I was in labour as I was so calm so I laboured on my own in a dark ward whilst everyone slept and took it in my stride. After 4 hrs they realised I was in active labour. After a further hour and 3/4 my calm and contented baby arrived. No pain relief needed! I am utterly confident I wouldn’t have coped as well due to the speed and intensity of the contractions. There was even time for humour between contractions.I specifically recommend the labour companion CD which refocused my attention on the job in hand.
Tell your pregnant friends about Positive Birth Scotland. “3-2-1-relax”!!
2nd baby, (home birth/physiological birth)
I just wanted to share my experience, as birthing my second baby was the greatest achievement of my life and i couldn’t have done it without the amazing, informative and empowering Natal Hypnotherapy.
I attended Gemma’s workshop with my, at the time very sceptical husband. I desperately wanted a home birth and I felt that he didn’t and that made me anxious. ( our 1st son was premature and we had a terrifying, stressful hospital experience)
Those two days of the workshop were the best thing we ever did. My husband and I came away empowered ad positive and looking forward to the birth!?! ( crazy huh!) I went into labour with no fear, we walked the streets together, watched some fireworks ( I laboured through Nov 5th) then came home, found my own space and gave birth to my baby, at home, in my living room.My husband and I were so relaxed and confident we left it a little late to call the midwife, but she came in time, but my husband was the strongest and most supportive I’ve ever seen him and that inspired me. It was beautiful, painless and my greatest achievement. But it would never have been the best experience of my life without Gemma’s workshop. So thank you!
Marcela de Leon & Dimitrios Sferopoulos
1st baby, labour ward (preterm delivery at 27 weeks gestation/physiological birth)
“Oh, you must have been so stressed!!!” is the first thing we often hear (accompanied by a look of anguish and almost horror in their eyes) when we tell people that our son was born unexpectedly, at 27 weeks of pregnancy, while we were visiting family in Germany. I usually just politely reply that we were fine and that it wasn’t that bad, because I don’t want to sound snob or arrogant by saying “actually we weren’t stressed at all and we were thrilled to meet our baby!”.
My husband and I were certain that we’d rather spend our money in courses that would help us prepare, rather than in expensive nursery and clothes nonsense. We had initially booked to attend Gemma;s Natal Hypnotherapy workshop in March, as our baby was due in late April-early May. However, since I had a few doubts and after speaking to Gemma on the phone she suggested that we could attend the mid-January course instead so we could have more time to reflect and prepare for our baby’s birth. Little did we know that our baby would be born only two weeks after that course. All things happen for a reason!
Our son was born, on Monday 1st February, 1.1 kg (2.44 pounds) and 36cm of baby boy. I couldn’t hold him straight away and this was difficult, but I understood that his wellbeing was first and the neonatal paediatricians quickly took care of him and put him in his incubator and then showed him to me. He was tiny and absolutely perfect, a tiny human being, my baby, my son. Leonidas. We called him after the strong Spartan warrior and king, because after all, our baby is a warrior.
After the birth, came the most challenging part of the whole experience and probably of our life so far, which was to wait 9 weeks for our son to be released from hospital. I will never forget what I felt when the doctors told me “9 weeks”, it felt as if they had told me 100 years. I wasn’t able to comprehend how was I going to get through it, with my baby being 9 weeks in an incubator, and me, sleeping every night without him by my side. I kept listening to my natal hypnotherapy tracks, I got in touch with Gemma and told her what happened, she was so supportive and encouraging and sent me some of the post birth tracks to listen to. So I listened to them every day and I cannot describe with words how much her support helped me. Gemma LOVES what she does, she loves her job as a midwife and she truly believes in natal hypnotherapy and during those weeks, she helped us a lot, sending us lovely messages and emails.
We honestly couldn’t have done things the way we did them without practising natal hypnotherapy and without doing the workshop with Gemma. We still get her lovely support and she came to do a breastfeeding coaching session with me and to meet Leo as soon when we returned to Scotland. Her experience as a midwife and her passion for natal hypnotherapy and the wonders that it does to a labouring woman (and her partner) are indescribable and if we are lucky enough to become parents for the second time, natal hypnotherapy along with yoga will be top of my list during my pregnancy.
Natal hypnotherapy is something that needs practise if you want it to really work, pretty much like everything in life. But it does work! I am still in awe of how things happened, of how calm and relaxed I kept and even our doctors and nurses in Germany could not believe how focused and calm I kept. They told me that most women in my situation don’t react like this and that they usually demand for a c-section when it isn’t necessary.
Seeing it in perspective I am proud of the way we did things; his birth couldn’t have been more different from what we wrote on our ‘birth plan’ and sometimes when I read it, it makes me laugh because you cannot ‘plan’ the birth that we want as if it is something we order for lunch. The “I don’t want this, I don’t want that” attitude that I had at the beginning of my pregnancy all changed when my son was about to be born. I had an epidural, I had an episiotomy, I had an IV where antibiotics and many other drugs were injected to me. It was in fact perfect, Dimitris and I were absolutely fine with all of this, because we knew that THIS was our birth story and THIS was the way it was meant to be, and THIS was the time that our baby chose to meet us, and we will always thank him for that.
2nd baby, labour ward (water birth)
At just after 3pm Body began pushing in the pool, so I went along with it, again not realising I was fully dilated. The midwives just let me do what my body needed to do, I was completely in control of the delivery. Within a few pushes I felt his head crown, pushed one incredibly long push and birthed his head, then one more push and I brought him up to the surface myself. It has to be one of the most incredible experiences of my entire life! Despite not having the home birth I’d planned, I couldn’t have imagined a better labour and birth of our son.
He came up on my chest with the cord round his neck. We removed that and he just lay on me so very still, so after my crying of happiness I panicked and asked why he wasn’t crying- thinking he was ill-Lisa assured me he was just incredibly calm! He gave a tiny cry then stopped again, cuddled into me, skin to skin for ages. The calmest newborn I’ve ever seen!! I got out of the pool still with cord attached so had the delayed clamping. I also pushed the placenta myself without the injection, and didn’t need stitches, no tear, just a small graze. I admit the pain at the end was very overwhelming and self doubt was very hard work, but I surprised myself and the midwives with how much calmer I was this time, definitely thanks to the natal hypnotherapy. Simon was amazing too, he was so calm and no matter what he was doing he made sure every contraction he was either holding my shoulders or hugging me and deep breathing. During the self doubt he kept telling me stories of our honeymoon, and insisting that I was strong enough to keep going, totally became my coach! I even asked for epidural (I was already fully dilated so luckily I couldn’t have had one anyway!) but he was so good, he just said “give it two more contractions and we’ll see if you definitely need it”. (He knew I was about to start pushing!) His calmness and the tools from the workshops got me through the really hard part and helped me have the relaxed birth I’d hoped for.
1st baby, (emergency Caesarian birth)
We attended Gemma’s two day Natal Hypnotherapy workshop; it was fantastic. Gemma is a fountain of knowledge and makes you feel so at ease. She is so approachable and no question is too silly. My husband found the workshop beneficial in getting him prepared for what was to come. My husband and I listened to the Natal hypnotherapy CD leading up to my due date and beyond as our daughter was late. I had my affirmations stuck in our bathrooms and was very relaxed about giving birth at home.
1st baby, birth centre, (water birth)
The knowledge and understanding provided to me by Gemma before I gave birth to my first son, in 2008, was utterly key to my wonderful and enjoyable water birth. While pregnant, Gemma gave me one-to-one coaching and also gave me a reading list of books to get me into the right frame of mind. I liked the visualisations that she gave me and they were very useful before and during the birth.
Giving birth was an empowering experience. I enjoyed doing it again (another wonderful water birth in 2011); both times I was actually in awe of what my body achieved. Every woman and birth partner need to hear what Gemma can teach them!
1st baby, birth centre (water birth)
Sarah & James Dunn
1st baby, labour ward water birth
Sarah’s story –Kai’s birth story actually started three weeks before he was born. My husband, James and I had been planning a homebirth and our midwifery team had been completely supportive of our decision. Our midwife came to the house the day before I turned 38 weeks to drop all the homebirth supplies and also do my 38-week check. When the midwife checked my blood pressure it was up at what would just be considered high blood pressure, but this was an increase for me compared to the rest of my pregnancy so she wanted me to go along to the hospital to get further checks. We therefore headed along to the hospital that afternoon; they monitored my blood pressure regularly for half an hour, tested my urine and sent off bloods to the lab as well as monitoring our baby. We thought everything was going to be fine as my blood pressure had dropped right down again so we figured we’d just be heading home shortly. Then the doctor came in and said some of the levels in my bloods were higher than normal. They weren’t overly clear but they seemed to suggest their concern was pre-eclampsia. The doctor said she wanted to keep me in overnight and monitor by blood pressure regularly and then check my bloods again in the morning. She then said if everything was still raised they may have to consider delivering me early. This came as a complete shock to James and me as we thought we were about to go home and now I was staying in overnight and they were talking about possible induction!….
Click here to read Sarah and James’ inspiring birth story in full.
…I got back in the pool and allowed my body to push when it felt it wanted to. After a while James suggested I try on my knees again, when I first got in the pool I found this made my contractions too intense but knew gravity would help things move along now. I got on my knees and managed to get a handle on my contractions and use the urge to push to bring down the baby. I suddenly felt his head coming and advised the midwife of this. With one more push he popped out completely into the pool still in his waters! The midwife spun him under the water as the cord was round his neck before I lifted him out and discovered he was a little boy! It was without a doubt the most amazing experience of my life seeing him for the first time.
Kai’s arrival into the world was about as peaceful as we could ever have hoped for. After all the discussion of induction in the weeks leading up to his birth we managed to have a natural pool birth with no pain relief and he slipped into the world peacefully at 7:10am. Gemma’s course didn’t just prepare us for labour, it prepared us for everything in the lead up to Kai’s birth and allowed us to make informed decisions and ask the necessary questions to ensure we got the best possible birth experience forus. We consider the course to have been invaluable for us and Gemma’s ongoing support has allowed us to feel confident we were making the right decisions. Sometimes induction is absolutely necessary but there are occasions when it is proposed as the best option for the treating team without the consideration of the individual who they are inducing. Gemma’s course allowed us to determine what the best decision for us was.
The experience of birth for me doesn’t translate into words. People have asked me a few times now ‘how was it?’ and I’ve struggled to answer. Words seem entirely insufficient to capture the experience and I’m sure many parents feel similarly. Reading positive birth stories online begins to give you a sense of it on reflection but for me even the words I would use like pure, presence, inspiring, focus, awesome, wonderful, powerful, primitive, connecting, love, joy etc. don’t really capture the experience. The experience of birth for me was like experiencing these emotions for the very first time: they felt like entirely new experiences rather than a stronger version of what I had experienced previously. It was truly the most wonderful and pure thing I have ever been fortunate enough to be involved in.
The Positive Birth Scotland course, and particularly Gemma’s delivery and support after the course, were absolutely fundamental in achieving our experience I feel. My Wife’s, Sarah, story gives more of the details and I feel like our birth could have been a very different story without all the support we helped create around us. Whilst there is a large element of luck I’m sure, I also feel like we facilitated our desired birth as much as possible and gave ourselves the best chance by extensively practicing hypnobirthing, repeatedly speaking to Gemma and other experts and parents, hiring a Doula, reading lots of books, attending sessions to hear about positive births, getting chiropractor sessions, acupuncture and reflexology etc. Each of these contributed to us feeling as positive as we could about the experience and gave us the confidence to be able to relax and focus (on un-focusing really) during the labour which made it the incredible experience it was. As highlighted by everyone else, these techniques really can work and now I know (and believe!) what Gemma meant when she said she was jealous that we were all going to experience labour again…
Click here to read Sarah and James’ inspiring birth story in full.
2nd baby, labour ward (physiological birth)
Hi Gemma, I wanted to say thank you so so so much for all of your help and wisdom and for being so amazing. Your enthusiasm for wanting to share Natal Hypnotherapy with people is really touching and meant a lot to me.
I wanted to let you know Luke James McGarry Phillips was born 19th Aug 4.04am 8lbs 6oz 53cm. We are both healthy and back home the same day. I listened to the cd in the car which helped me focus as contractions were 1.5 to 2 mins apart. I was in early labour for 5days then he turned his head and dropped then waters broke and he was born 1.5 hours later. The thought kept going through my head of how natural this is even though it was very intense and painful. I didn’t panic like last time which was my big fear and not being able to believe in my body. It was all amazing. There were complications but they didn’t have time to take me to the labour ward and I felt ok trusting them and my partner to listen to what was best. I am totally amazed by it all.
I did wonder there must be something stopping him from turning his head and perhaps should of asked for a scan after dilating for 5 days and nothing happening. Think that’s the instinct thing you talked about.
I wanted to say a massive thank you for all your help and generosity. xx
1st baby, hospital birth (induction/physiological birth)
Following Gemma’s excellent course, I was all ready for a natural, pool birth, but it was not meant to be. This is because our beautiful daughter decided to arrive nearly four weeks early. My waters broke unexpectedly on Saturday night. At this stage I could have panicked but instead I breathed deeply and put the birth preparation Natal Hypnotherapy CD on to try and calm me down and manage the adrenaline spike. I was actually quite excited with the prospect of finally meeting our baby.
Off to the hospital we went. Again I listened to my CD in the waiting room. Even though my waters had gone, my contractions hadn’t actually started so after monitoring the baby and I to ensure we were both well they let us go home for 24 hours to see if my labour would start naturally. Nothing happened and in the end I had to be induced to have the baby out within 72 hours from the waters due to risk of infection. I really did not want to be induced but I tried to be as calm and pragmatic about it as possible. I was first induced with a pessary. My contractions started but not strong enough (they stayed constant at only 10 minutes apart). When I finally got a bed at the labour ward Tuesday morning I was exhausted and ready for the labour to be over. I had to be put on the oxytocin drip to move things along. Waiting for the drip to take effect, I listened to the relaxing birth music. After this the birth was fast (only 3hrs and 20mins).
Due to the speed and also with my body not producing endorphins acting as nature’s pain relief (due to the artificial oxytocin), the pain was intense, but I managed to cope with it by deep breathing and gas and air. I could not go for a water birth because my waters had broken and I was constantly monitored due to the drip. However, considering the circumstances I think I managed to get as natural a birth as possible, including no epidural, opiates, c-section, forceps/suction, episiotomy or major complications. When our daughter arrived to the world, she was a little unresponsive at first so we could not delay the cord clamping, but again her safety came first. Ultimately, even though things did not go to plan, I definitely did not have a bad birthing experience. Natal hypnotherapy helped to calm me down and take things as they come without negative thoughts working against the process.
I would thoroughly recommend the course to everyone especially with Gemma being a practicing midwife (and mum!) allowing her to explain how natal hypnotherapy can be used in your birthing process in a very practical and real way.
1st baby, labour ward (forceps birth)
9/12/14 Mother’s intuition…. Now, of course, it can all be put down to mere chance, but this is the day both Luke and I independently had thought that Amelia would begin her journey to meet us. Our ‘due date’ by scan was 4/12/2014 but we were keen to hold off induction despite our consultant being keen to induce me at term due to my age (40). We were therefore attending for extra monitoring- scan and CTG weekly, thankfully all of which were normal. I had been healthy throughout pregnancy. We wished to hold off induction if not necessary for reason other than age due to our desire to have as natural a birth as possible to give our baby the best start. I kept very active in pregnancy, running up until the 3rd trimester, then walking, swimming at least weekly up until term and practicing yoga a few times a week.
On the afternoon of 9/12/14 my waters broke. I had some niggly pains but I was not in labour. We were advised by maternity triage to attend for monitoring. We attended that evening but unfortunately they were very busy and we had lengthy wait. I kept active mobilizing in the corridor. By the time we were seen a few hours later my blood pressure was raised from my booking blood pressure. They therefore wished to admit me that night for induction, which I really didn’t wish and also didn’t wish to spend the night away from Luke. I was sure my blood pressure was just raised a bit from the long wait, being tired and walking around in the busy triage corridor for hours on end with fluid pouring out of me (not a very baobab tree experience!). So whilst having the CTG carried out I lay on the bed and listened to natal hypnotherapy and sure enough my blood pressure came down to normal. The midwife wondered if I had put the cuff on Luke’s arm there was such a change! I continued that and focused on my breath and a few more normal readings later we were able to be discharged with a plan to return the following evening for induction if I hadn’t gone into labour.
We arrived home at 0230hrs and got into bed at 0300hrs but by 0400hrs I had to get up as I was having contractions that felt too strong to stay in bed. Luke put the TENS machine on for me. I then laboured at home that day using the TENS, birthing ball, keeping upright and listening to the natal hypnotherapy. We set off for the hospital in the darkening late afternoon in a snowstorm. During the journey I continued to listen to Natal Hypnotherapy and felt very relaxed.
On arrival at triage I was assessed and found to be 3cm dilated with strong contractions so we were transferred to labour ward. We had a lovely midwife who understood our desire for a quiet and calm birthing environment. I used the Natal Hypnotherapy adrenaline track after repeatedly vomiting a few times to help to regain my focus. I continued to use yoga positions, the ball and listened to the Natal Hypnotherapy continuously, eventually switching to the serious phase track after 5cm dilated. I then entered the birthing pool and initially found this a little difficult as of course I had to remove the TENS. After some time I started to use the gas and air which was helpful. Between contractions I was very relaxed to the point of sleep. During contractions I remember focusing on ‘up and over the peak’ aware that each one would pass.
My contractions began to space out and the midwife wished me to exit the pool. When I was examined I was 10cm dilated but with just a small lip of cervix remaining so I continued with the TENS on again. The midwife left an hour once I was fully dilated but nothing was happening and the contractions were becoming more infrequent so the decision was made to start a syntocinin drip. I then tried active pushing for over an hour and tried every position- squatting, kneeling, legs up but unfortunately no progress. The midwife felt the position was excellent (direct OA) so asked the consultant to come and confirm as she couldn’t find a reason why there was no progress. Just as the consultant came in there was meconium in the waters. The position was confirmed as direct OA but the decision was made then that we needed to head to theatre for a spinal and trial of forceps/ if not caesarean section due to lack of progress despite very active pushing and now that there was meconium. Thankfully the fetal heart rate remained fine.
We felt totally in control of the situation at all times. Luke was tremendously supportive throughout the whole 27 hours. When the decision came to go to theatre we knew it was for the right reasons and were both comfortable we had done everything we could up to that point for a natural birth.
The move to theatre was very efficient. The staff caring for us were all excellent. Thankfully they were quickly able to deliver our baby daughter into this world safely with forceps and no need for section. The consultant discovered her umbilical cord was extremely short, she had never seen one so short, and she felt this was what had prevented her final descent and also been responsible for the contractions easing off as every time she descended she was pulled back again by her short cord. Although I would of course have loved to have felt her final push into the world and for her to be delivered onto me, we had achieved our desired outcome of a healthy baby and mum and had made decisions from a place of calm and awareness.
Soon we were in the recovery room where I could have skin to skin contact with Amelia and it was amazing to watch her natural instinct to move towards my breast. She was kitten crawling her way there and ‘head banging’. With a little movement over she very quickly latched on and started feeding and thankfully it has gone as easily as that ever since.
I am grateful to all the yoga preparation I did for optimizing fetal positioning but what definitely made all the difference for us was attending Gemma’s Natal Hypnotherapy workshop. We listened to it continuously for the whole 27 hours of labour and never tired of it. I had been listening to the programme from early pregnancy all the way through and daily from 34 weeks. I had also been looking at positive affirmations and had no fear about labour when it came round, feeling it to be an entirely natural process through which I had to relax and breath and allow my body to do what nature had designed it to do. It allowed me to keep my mind relaxed throughout the journey and accept each contraction knowing it was one step closer to meeting our beautiful baby. I certainly don’t think I would have managed the 27 hours without strong pain relief without this approach. We are both very glad and grateful that we attended the natal hypnotherapy workshop. It allowed our daughter as natural as possible an entry into the world which straight away benefited her feeding. The postnatal track continues to help me, it was really helpful especially through the early weeks of exhaustion and Amelia and I continue to enjoy the relaxing birth music during her bedtime feed.
Dad’s point of view
I was old enough and wise enough to realise I didn’t know enough, more specifically, I didn’t really have a plan or understand what role I would be playing in the birth of our child and the naivety of youth had long since passed. Through discussion with Kirstie we realised that we both wanted as natural a birth as possible and to be as prepared, calm and in control throughout the delivery as possible.
We attended the NHS ante-natal class and did plenty of reading and we also decided to go to the Natal Hypnotherapy classes which were by far and away the most relevant and useful thing we did in preparation.
In this day and age there are no shortage of pregnancy horror stories and the over dramatisation of medicine and pregnancy on the television. Gemma’s Natal Hypnotherapy classes helped bring the pregnancy and the labour back to it’s natural elements and helped us focus on Mother Nature’s fundamental requirements for any safe and natural birth.
Once we had boiled it down to the core elements it was easy to devise an approach to ensure that I was able to be supportive and play an active role during the labour. The confidence that this gave Kirsty was immeasurable, knowing I would be there, ensuring that the environment and conditions were just as we wanted, allowed her to focus on delivering the baby.
1st baby, labour ward (induction of labour/physiological birth)
Due to my age of 42 and being a first time mother, my consultant was very keen for me to be induced at 40 weeks. I had initially agreed to it at one of my first appointments with the midwifes without really knowing much about it. In doing Gemma’s Natal Hypnotherapy weekend workshop I learned more about induction and what was involved in it, as well as learning a lot about what to expect and how to deal with all kinds of scenarios that come up in labour, and how labour really works.
After learning more I wasnt keen to be induced, however I reluctantly agreed to go in a day after the 40 weeks. Once in hospital, I postponed my induction for a few days to give my body a chance. Instead they monitored my and the baby’s heart rate. A few days later i went in again and this time agreed to be induced.
Thinking I would be in for a few days I rocked up to the ward with lots of bags – yoga mat, birthing ball, magazines etc. And the natal hypnotherapy cd to listen to along with a long playlist of favourite tunes.
After being given the pessary, myself and my partner hung out, went and got coffee, read, had a laugh and just relaxed. It was exciting but what I didnt realise that, as i was being chilled out about it all (well I was still nervous but kept thinking positive thoughts), I was actually in the first stages of labour, in the excitement phase.
To cut a long story short, late that evening the midwife didnt think I was in labour when i wandered along the ward to tell her that I was experiencing what felt like period pains every couple of minutes. I went back to bed, lying on my side and breathing through what they thought was my cervix effacing. It wasnt, and after 3 and a half hours of breathing, 321 relax, and increasing contractions, I was taken through to the labour room. Fifteen minutes later I gave birth to a healthy wee boy, Brodie.
It was amazing to just let your body take over – there was just this bearing down and an excitement when my waters broke that it was nearly over and i was going to meet my new baby. The only pain relief i had was gas and air. And no need for the yoga mat, the birthing ball, all those bags of things!
Natal Hypnotherapy really helped take away a lot of the fear and gave me lots of tools to pull from. It kept me calm to the point that they thought I wasnt in labour until just before Brodie was born. Most importantly it made me realise what a natural process giving birth is, no matter how it is started and to keep as relaxed as possible.
1st baby, labour ward (induction/physiological birth)
I just wanted to let you know that I gave birth on Thursday afternoon to a wee boy.
I was induced at 38 weeks because of the Gestational Diabetes. The induction started on Tuesday afternoon and went through every stage, pessary, gel, lots of walking and ultimately hormone drip. So basically the opposite of what we we wanted but it was a really positive experience and I’m so proud of us both. I managed to deliver Mathew who was 9lb 2oz with only a few pushes and no stitches needed!
I really don’t think this would have been possible without the course. I listened to the tracks loads while I was being induced. We took our own pillows, blankets, etc; kept the lights low; went in the water which really helped; had oils burning. It was really tough with the hormone drip and I had loads of gas and air but it was amazing and Andy helped me so much as he knew what his role was. We challenge a lot of things along the way with the medical staff and felt really well informed and empowered.
If it hadn’t been for the course I think I would have elected for a section as an induction at 38 weeks was my worst nightmare but I’m so glad I didn’t as I’m up and about and feeling great.
Francesca & Michael Irvine
2nd baby, labour ward (induction of labour/physiological birth)
Having struggled through a long and very painful labour first time round, I was keen to find ways to cope better both during the pregnancy and when the time came to meet our new baby.
As a GP, through my previous experiences, I had a very medical view of labour however I did some research and became interested in natal hypnotherapy and was recommended Gemma.
As soon as we met Gemma, both my husband and I felt we could really relate to everything she said in terms of explaining the physiology occurring during labour and the effect our emotions have on this. From Gemma, we learned not only the theory but methods to employ during labour to help cope better & to encourage things to progress.
In the end, our experience this time round was so much more positive and incredibly special. Despite requiring augmentation due to my waters rupturing but no associated contractions, we remained calm and happy to accept whatever was required. Once my contractions began, they did get very painful but I felt empowered to cope much better and my husband, who was an active participant in the preparation antenatally, was a huge support and undoubtedly kept me going through the self doubt. Our daughter was born normally which was one of the proudest and most unforgettable moments of my life and I absolutely think that the work we did with Gemma made this possible.
We are hugely grateful to Gemma and would have no hesitation in recommending her to anyone considering ways to make their labour or delivery experience more positive.
Our first experience of child birth was a traumatic one for both of us that lasted nearly 72 hours and resulted in a difficult forceps delivery. We were looking for some help second time round and found exactly that with Gemma. I didn’t know it was possible to prepare for a labour and was fairly sceptical before the course. I now realise that there is more than just anecdotal evidence to support natal hypnotherapy and I would encourage everyone to invest the time in trying it out as it really helped us. I felt much more relaxed and was able to be an active birth partner rather than anxious bystander. Gemma really took a lot of the fear out of childbirth for both of us. Thank you Gemma once again for all your compassion & advice. It truly was a wonderfully positive and unforgettable experience.!
Me and my husband went on a two day Positive Birth workshop. The workshop was accompanied by a textbook, relaxation & hypnotherapy CDs. Gemma, who ran the course, is amazing! She gave me the confidence to ask for what I wanted antenatal wise and during my labour, to trust and listen to my body. She also provided me with fantastic advice towards the end of my pregnancy as it became increasingly medicalised. My husband thought the Positive Birth workshop was invaluable. He learnt a lot about pregnancy and childbirth which took the pressure of me to explain everything to him as it was happening (just as well as my labour was fast & furious). Also, the course gave him confidence and a role to play during the birth. I would definitely recommend Positive Birth to anybody having a baby – for me it was invaluable. It would be great to have a post-natal course too.
These births are all very different; from home to hospital births, water births to emergency caesarian birth. This is because by its very nature birth is unpredictable. It is important to focus on the birth you want whilst being prepared for anything that can happen on the day!
The one thing these births have in common is that they are all positive, even when things didn’t of to ‘plan’! With the right preparation you CAN have a positive birth regardless of how or where you give birth. This needs practise and preparation; so like the couples above, dont leave your positive birth to chance!
With my knowledge as a practising midwife and experience using and teaching Hypnobirthing I love to help woman and their birth partner increase their chance of a natural birth whilst preparing them for anything that could happen on the day.