After I gave birth to my son in 2015 I joked to people that I paid for hypnobirthing only to have a c section and no labour. My son's movements had reduced, and during checks the midwives discovered that the cord was prolapsed so I couldn't labour naturally as I had hoped. I felt like I'd “failed” at giving birth, as I hadn't had the drug free, natural, calm labour that I'd planned.
When we found out that we were pregnant with my daughter, my husband was keen to practise hypnobirthing again. I was unsure – what if it all ended in another surgery? I didn't want to commit to a natural birth only to be disappointed again. Regardless, my husband spoke to our midwife about hypnobirthing. She was positive about it, and recommended Katie to us.
Even though we'd done hypnobirthing before, we decided to do the full course with Katie; it had been 5 years since we last did a course, and we also discovered that Katie's hypnobirthing course was different to the one we'd done before.
Katie was incredibly helpful when we first got in touch, giving us dates so we could arrange meetings in our home at a time that worked for us. Occasionally we had to rearrange because of my work but Katie was always accommodating and understanding. It made a huge difference to meet at home and not have to worry about going out on an evening (especially later in pregnancy) or try to arrange childcare on a weekend.
Meeting Katie has been an utter joy – she was easy to talk to, always bright and positive. Katie listened to our past experiences and our worries with gentleness and patience, helping us come to term with what we'd already been through and giving us practical guidance when we had a problem.
Katie also being a midwife at the hospital we were planning to birth in meant that not only could she explain what the experience would be like when we were there to give birth, but she could be realistic about what birth was like. It was a huge help for me to know that Katie wasn't advocating for the perfect, natural, pain free birth but for us to have a positive birth experience – whatever that may look like – and for my husband and I to be in control and confident in our decision making.
Our pregnancy took an unexpected turn when my membranes ruptured at 31 weeks. Katie was there for us then too, and even came into the ante natal unit to check in on me. During this unexpected time Katie was on the end of an email when I needed support, which was an enormous comfort. The calm breathing certainly helped to get through unpleasant treatments like the steroid injections and insulin drip.
When my body didn't go into labour naturally, I was told that the risks of induction were too high because of the previous c section and the infection risk caused by gestational diabetes, so I would need to have surgery again. I was devastated and messaged Katie straight away. Katie was amazing and wrote a visualisation script for a c section birth. It was so beautiful and made me feel so safe and wrapped in care that the first couple of times my husband read it to me I would cry.
I have a fear of needles, and there are quite a number of needles involved with a c section. Using the affirmations that Katie gave us, the breathing techniques and visualisations made a huge difference in getting through any part of the procedure that involved needles. Everyone was amazed at how calm I was whilst I had various canulars inserted and injections administered – no one could believe that I was needlephobic!
Everything was so calm and relaxed. I felt so much more in control, and better able to talk to the people around me about how I was feeling or if anything worried me. It felt beautiful. As I breathed and repeated to myself the visualisations that Katie gave us, our daughter Nerys was born.
Our daughter's birth was so different to my son's – when I look back on my son's I remember the fear and grief of not having the birth I wanted; when I look back on Nery's birth I remember the nervous excitement followed by the calm and peace. It wasn't the birth we'd expected or planned for, but it was still the best birthing experience we could have hoped for. No regrets, no guilt. Katie made it happen for us, and went above and beyond anything we could have expected.
Katie had encouraged us to harvest colostrum in the days before Nerys was born. Our daughter had an extended stay on the neo natal unit due to respitary distress syndrome at birth which meant we couldn't try breatfeeding for the first couple of days, but the colostrum I had expressed gave her the best start in her first hours of life.
I cannot sing Katie's praises enough, nor can I recommend her more highly. She is extremely knowledgable and experienced, knows what birth actually looks like and how both pregnant women and their partners can feel in control of their birth situation. I'm so grateful to Katie for not only giving us the chance to have a positive c section experience, but for giving us ways to be calm and enjoy relaxation in pregnancy and preparing us for what was a very unusual birth experience so calmly and positively with practical ways that we could handle it.