Helen Redfern, 39, is a Certified HypnoBirthing Practitioner. Even though she delivered both her children, Freya, four, and Theo, two, by C-section, she was able to use her HypnoBirthing techniques and sees it as a great preparation – no matter how pregnancies and births unfold....
What is HypnoBirthing exactly?
HypnoBirthing– The Mongan Method – is a complete antenatal programme that teaches simple but specific self-hypnosis, relaxation and breathing techniques for a better birth experience. HypnoBirthing allows a mum to enjoy her pregnancy and experience a calm and relaxed birth, free of the fear and tension that can prevent her body functioning as well as it can. HypnoBirthing also provides dads with an important role during the pregnancy and birth.
How did you get into it?
Even as a teenager I had a fear of birth, so as soon as I became pregnant, I started to research the drugs and interventions that could help me through childbirth. However, I soon discovered a lot of pain-relief involved a disadvantage to me, my child or our bonding process. Then I discovered HypnoBirthing. The classes allowed me relax and look forward to my births. Afterwards I heard so many parents talking about poor birth experiences, I decided I'd like to help other couples to have great births too.
What is a typical day like for you?
I see HypnoBirthing couples over four sessions either in small groups or as individual couples, usually in their own homes. We address the fears that may prevent them from enjoying the pregnancy and looking forward to the birth. We also practice various techniques and I teach the dads to hypnotise the mums, which is really fun. Parents can be nervous in our first session but we always end up having a laugh and it's great to see how involved and excited the dads become during the process. Parents leave with a tool-kit of techniques to choose from during the birth process.
How would someone go about learning HypnoBirthing?
To ensure that parents receive the course in its entirety I would advise that parents find a course provided by a Certified HypnoBirthing Practitioner. A full list of Practitioners across the UK can be found at Hypnobirthing.co.uk.
How did your own pregnancies go?
I suffered from nausea during the first trimesters but went on to have really happy, relaxed pregnancies. It was such a special time and I look back on them with such fondness.
Tell us a bit about your own deliveries.
Having discovered HypnoBirthing I planned home births. However, towards the end of both pregnancies, as I neared by due dates, complications arose that meant that I was going to have to have C-sections.
It would be fair to say that I was devastated initially, but I spoke to my HypnoBirthing Practitioner who showed me how to apply the various techniques I'd learned to these special circumstances. HypnoBirthing also gave me the confidence to ask my consultant to adapt the theatre environment to make it as natural as possible. The birth was beautiful and my daughter fed in theatre within minutes.
Exactly the same scenario occurred with my son but this time I discovered from my consultant that they had changed the way Caesareans are performed in line with some of my previous requests. I had another perfect birth.
Were you still able to put your techniques into practice?
Absolutely. The course helped me to relax through my pregnancies, connect with my unborn babies and empowered me to ask for what I wanted during the births. The breathing and relaxation techniques kept me calm, making the anaesthesia more effective. HypnoBirthing gave my husband a role too, and the staff understood that and allowed him to be present earlier than is the norm during C-sections. I recovered exceptionally well, leaving hospital the following day – and I put this down to HypnoBirthing. I remember the midwife who visited me at home saying the notes stating I'd had a C-section must be wrong given my level of recovery!
What do your students think when they find out that you had Caesareans?
The parents I see have no idea how their pregnancies and births will unfold. I always mention my C-sections in the first session and it appears to reassure them that however things unfold, they will be able to use the techniques that I teach them to achieve a better birth. HypnoBirthing is not about a prescribed style of birth and my story reassures them that I want them to have the birth that is right for them and their baby.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I meet couples at a really special time in their lives and I am privileged to be part of that. I see their transformation from perhaps nervous and fearful to excited and confident. Each couple that I work with is different from the last, so I can't imagine ever being bored. What I enjoy most is hearing how wonderful the birth proves to be meeting the new arrival. Now that is a treat!