We had our beautiful baby boy on 22nd December 2017. He is our first child. Toward the end of the pregnancy, we did a six week hypnobirthing class at the public hospital where we delivered the baby. We were very engaged in the class, and we practiced our calming and mindfulness techniques quite rigorously leading up to the birth. We were excited about the birth and couldn’t wait for our little boy to arrive. We thought with the skills of hypnobirthing, we were emotionally and physically prepared for whatever happened in labor, and we had set our expectations that it would be hard but joyous, manageable, natural, and rewarding experience as long as we practiced hypnobirthing.
Labor came on spontaneously. For the first 12 hours, we managed at home in a calm environment. We arrived at the hospital when second stage was kicking in and we were so happy that things were progressing as expected, drug free. We were calm and excited that our baby was not far off. However, after about 15 hours of labor, the midwife noticed little progress and we were aware that something was wrong. The pain was becoming unbearable for me and I hesitantly decided I needed some relief, that being morphine which helped a lot. But, my blood pressure increased quite suddenly and before we knew it, there were several midwives and two doctors in the room. I was advised to have an epidural to reduce the BP, and to remove the urge to push because it was too dangerous to push. Other drugs were also used to reduce the BP.
The baby’s heart rate was continuously monitored, and was fine throughout the labor.After a few hours passed and my BP had not dropped. The on call obstetrician was called in. He examined me and determined that the baby was posterior, and despite several attempts to turn him while I was pushing, it wasn’t successful. I was in obstructed labour. The baby wasn’t engaged either. After 20 hours of labor it was decided a high forceps delivery was too risky, and I needed a cesarean. After 22 hours our little boy was finally delivered. It was an extremely traumatizing experience for both me and my husband, and at one point my husband had to leave the room to sob. He did this while I was in and out of consciousness from the exhaustion of the labor. I woke for a contraction to hear him bawling outside of the room. The doctors and midwives had to reassure him that it would be over soon. It was hard for him to believe them. It was hard for me to believe them. The obstetrician met with us last week to debrief us on what happened. I had an obstructed labor, which he told us are more exhausting and painful than complication free labors as the head couldn’t engage despite my uterus’s otherwise normal contractions. What I think is the most traumatic part of this labor has been emotional, not physical.
Having a c-section caused my body to feel like it had ‘unfinished business’ to do, I still feel detached from the labor, cheated, ripped off. I replay the day over and over and try and simulate what it would have been like had the head descended, and I had a vaginal birth which for the first 12 hours of the labor we were sure would happen. My poor husband thought the absolute worst – he feared he would lose me and the baby at one point.
My husband and I are both very disappointed, and I’m extremely angry, with hypnobirthing. The hypnobirthing technique did not provide any information about what can go wrong, and therefore we were not prepared at all to make any decisions regarding pain relief. We had no idea that labour could be so traumatic, we were convinced with our Hypnobirthing practice it would be tough but rewarding. On the contrary, it was not rewarding – I felt that my body had failed me. We were also completely shattered at the reality that birth could be so horrible. I wish we had known that something like this could have happpened. Also, hypnobirthing leads you to believe that pain relief medication is bad for the unborn baby. When we realised we needed several forms of medication, we felt guilty that we were doing harm to our baby. I wonder, could hypnobirthing teaching be modified to better prepare expecting parents for the fact that so often complications arise and that the birth they dream of could be vastly different to what they expect? I acknowledge that Hypnobirthing does note that medical intervention may be needed in certain circumstances, but this is all that’s taught.
These ‘circumstances’ were completely unbeknown to us – we had absolutely no clue the diversity and magnitude of such potential circumstances because in the practice of Hypnobirthing you’re not allowed to discuss such things among the others in the class and you’re required to research and discuss such circumstances privately with your midwife. This is fine, but what bothers me is that the Hypnobirthing method convinces you that such circumstances are so rare that you’re led to belief they won’t happen to you. Furthermore to effectively practice hypnobirthing you have to remove thoughts of fear, pain relief, complications etc from you thought process – you must commit you energy exclusively to Hypnobirthing practice in order for it to be effective, at the cost of being educated in potential complications.
I feel utterly let down by the course and the hospital for teaching it. My husband and I are traumatised from the birth and we’re left thinking if only we’d been better prepared. Please consider this email for sharing as required. We would like this information to be useful, to perhaps guide other parents and best case scenario influence the way Hypnobirthing is taught. I will also be sharing this experience with Hypnobirthing Australian and with my midwives at our next follow up.