Right. Let’s be honest. If you’re due to have your baby any time before June, the last few weeks have been dreadful. In fact, if you’re due to have your baby at any time this year, you’re probably feeling a bit wobbly.
Coronoavirus hasn’t just shut down schools, businesses & local parks. It has also caused huge disruption to maternity services. First, came precautionary vulnerability, then reassurance from the Royal Colleges of Midwives and of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists, next, confirmation of the limiting of birth partners (in time & number), followed by alarming news from NYC that birth partners were being refused. Rumour of the same here in the UK followed, and finally, last week, our own Trust confirmed that home birth services have been withdrawn.
The detail of that narrative is less important that the pervasive feeling of uncertainty, instability & anxiety it has unleashed. Ruth, Laura and I have spoken to countless women this month & last who know that their birth plans will change but aren’t sure how or to what degree. We hear their worries about loss of control & autonomy, their fears that coronavirus trumps them & their babies and heralds more protocols & less compassion.
So what does hypnobirthing mean in all this?
How does hypnobirthing work if you’re faced with a hospital birth you didn’t want?
Can hypnobirthing help in the Age of Coronovirus?
Well, If you’ve been following me at all, you’ll know that I’m no fan of the preposition ‘hypno’. It’s wide open for misinterpretation, and pre-supposes some level of ‘woo’ that I just don’t buy into. What I do know, though, from over 9 years involvement in this work, and attendance at all manner of different births, is that BREATHING MATTERS. Hypnobirthing teaches you how to breathe, and how to have confidence in something so simple influencing your body & your emotions so powerfully.
I have seen women work this emotional control in extraordinary circumstances – and not just those beautiful calm births you see, also the births where events took an unexpected turn, where Mama was faced with what she thought was her worst fear. In fact, in those situations being able to breathe, and breathe with your partner, is something really quite incredible.
The best bit? It's within you, you get to take it with you wherever you go
The second thing Hypnobirthing brings you, right here right now, is the confidence to contingency plan. Contrary to the old-school, fingers-in-your-ears, la la la la, if-I-don’t-think-about-it-it-won’t-happen approach, a good contemporary hypnobirthing class will absolutely involve time considering your worst case scenarios. Good Birth preparation means knowing what they are, how you can manage them, how you can engage with your support team to ensure you’re actively making decisions, not simply subject to them.
All decisions in birth – like all decisions in life – are compromises. There’s no such thing as ‘perfect’, and so we’re always paying off one risk against another benefit. I have never seen this so clearly as I have in the past fortnight. Women who previously would never have considered homebirth are now actively seeking Independent Midwives to support them at home. Others who had hoped to labour spontaneously are moving towards planned caesarean. There are no right or wrong answers here, just the confidence & ability to make plans that are uniquely right for you.
And – to be honest – that’s why I called my business The Good Birth Practice. Not the Home Birth Practice or the Drug-Free-Birth Practice, or the Vaginal-Birth Practice, but the Good Birth Practice. ‘Good’ means different things to different people, and it’ll mean different things to you in these different circumstances too. That is perfectly normal, even in these far from normal circumstance.
Don’t give up hope.
All is not lost.
You can still have a Good Birth, today, tomorrow, next week, next month and for the rest of this year.
This is still your right (check out the WHO if you’re in doubt about this).
We are still here to support you, and we will.
Charlotte Edun is a doula, hypnobirthing & antenatal teacher & Positive Birth Movement facilitator. Along with Laura Scarlett and Ruth Pay she runs The Good Birth Practice, based in Sevenoaks, Kent and providing pregnancy, birth & post-natal support for women & families in Kent, Surrey & South East London.
New Good Birth Circles start Monday 13th April 2020.
Group Hypnobirthing classes resume in May 2020.
Doula services continue, remotely, as they always have and always will.
We're adapting quickly to provide the services you need at this crazy, unprecedented time. It means we haven't updated all our channels yet. If you need support but you can't quite see how to get it, please contact us and we'll provide all the support we can...