It was the middle of the night when my waters suddenly broke. At first, I thought with horror that I’d wet the bed! But then, as the mists of sleep cleared and the realisation of what was happening hit me, I went from feelings of excitement and elation that this long-awaited event was finally here, to shock and concern that it was happening more than 3 weeks too soon! Was everything going to be OK with my baby?
For the next 2 days, spent in hospital because of the potential risks so early in pregnancy instead of at home in my birthing pool as planned, I was weighed, measured, prodded and poked by various nurses and midwives. It seemed that my baby, initially so gung-ho on coming into the world, had had a change of heart and decided he quite liked being cocooned in Mum’s tummy instead! Finally, on the Sunday, things started moving up a few gears and I got excited again about the prospect of holding my baby in my arms.
As the weekend progressed though, I’d started crossing more and more things off my Birthing Plan. They tell you in ante-natal classes not to rely on this as a set of guarantees, to think of it more of a guideline to your wishes in the ideal world, but nevertheless you still get an image in your mind of how things are going to go – well, this was becoming far from reality for me!
However, I’m a pretty optimistic person and not easy to scare, so I carried on taking things as they came.
I still hoped for a water-birth – even if it had to be in one of the 2 hospital pools rather than in the comfort of my own home, despite both of those being already booked and in constant use!
I’d also hoped that one of my favourite midwives would be on duty when my time came, as she was very much into doing things as naturally as possible, was comfortable with home births and even treated Mums-to-be in her care to reflexology if they wanted it!
However, she wasn’t on duty that day. And whilst I’d not really thought about who else it might be, I must admit I was pretty surprised to be introduced to a fairly young, Spanish male midwife! Really not something I’d imagined! He was absolutely lovely though, realising quite quickly that, despite me suffering from Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction for the last 5 months of pregnancy, meaning I was in a lot of pain and couldn’t move very much, I did enjoy talking and joking to pass the time! I’d also brought with me a stereo with carefully selected music and some well-practised Reiki energy treatments, which I’d recently been learning and had given some of the credit to for me falling pregnant quickly and easily in the first place, despite having been diagnosed in my 20s with PCOS and being advised I may have fertility issues.
So, the next few hours passed fairly comfortably; I practised some Spanish with the midwife, listened to some relaxing and uplifting music and felt my baby getting closer and closer to joining us in the outside world.
However, at some point along the way, things started to take a turn for the worse. My baby wasn’t coming out and the midwife and team were getting concerned for us both. A consultant was called in and my partner recalled how he had taken a look at the monitor I was attached to and asked the midwife what pain relief I was on. (I realised then that the midwife had changed into a female approximately in her 60s! How had that happened without me noticing?!). She’d replied that I wasn’t on any pain relief, that I ‘hadn’t even had any gas and air’ and she didn’t know what I was doing. The consultant was apparently quite shocked, and couldn’t believe how calm I was given the levels of contraction that he was reading on the monitor. At this point, I remember a big ‘moon’ face coming into my field of vision (there’s a reason for that, which I’ll share later) and telling me that he “didn’t know what I was doing, but whatever it was to continue with it as I was doing really well.”
I was then asked to sign a disclaimer form, related to the emergency C-section they were recommending as the safest route for the delivery of my baby, for both of us.
At the time, I remember being slightly annoyed that I’d been dragged away from the beach I’d been relaxing in the sunshine on and went back there as soon as he’d finished talking and the form was signed!
The next thing I remember is being dragged away again, however this time it felt very different. I was in a strange room, all brightly lit and with lots of medical equipment around it. In front of me, an Anaesthetist was explaining that he needed to give me an epidural in order for the surgeon to perform the c-section on me and that I therefore needed to stay as still as possible so it didn’t slip and damage my spinal cord!
Well, of all the ‘wants’ I’d listed on my Birthing Plan and all the things I’d accepted as they’d needed to change…
…having an epidural was one big No No for me
Not only had I wanted it to be as natural a birth as possible, I’d also had an accident whilst taking horse-riding lessons about 10 years earlier. I’d injured my lower spine and coccyx and since then, knowing how close I’d come to more severe damage, I’d had a ‘thing’ about my back.
On top of that, for the first time all day, I was feeling these huge contractions surging through my entire body! What the heck was that?! Where were they coming from? It seemed like there was hardly a second’s gap between one finishing and the next wave starting! How on earth was I going to stay still enough to get that big needle in my spine safely, with those things coursing through me??
For the first time during labour, I was scared.
What if I got a contraction just as he was putting the needle in?
What if I ended up paralysed?
What if something happened to my baby?
As all these thoughts and fears raced around my brain, making it feel like time had stopped but simultaneously like it was racing past too, whilst the Anaesthetist waited for an answer.
Then, all of a sudden, this voice seemed to appear from nowhere in my mind. It was reminding me that I’d been still and coping with these huge contractions for hours now, so I could easily do it again for a few more minutes. Just go back onto my beach. Listen to the waves again. Feel the sun on my body, calming and relaxing me.
It felt like I was being beckoned back into a dream, by someone I trusted, a loved one and it instantly filled me with the belief and confidence that I could do this! I didn’t know what the actual time was, but I knew it had been a long time since I’d started out in labour that morning.
So, I decided in that moment to trust – in that voice, in myself and my ability to do this – and went back onto my beach! I felt the tension and the pain simply melt away as the sun’s rays warmed my skin and muscles. The sound of the waves gently lapping onto the shore replaced the Anaesthetist’s voice and the beeps of the monitors around me…
And the next thing I knew, I was being handed a beautiful, big and healthy baby boy, who let out a great cry of protest, until I hugged him to me and lost myself in the biggest wave of love I’d ever felt for another human being. After all the checks were done on him, which I was so relieved to hear he passed with flying colours, we were wheeled into the side recovery room, so we could properly welcome our new bundle of joy into the world and I could give him his first feed.
The following weeks passed by in a blur of feeds, nappy changes and sleep deprivation – and I loved it!
As I’m sure is the case for many new parents, the following weeks passed by in a blur of feeds, nappy changes, sleep deprivation and constant learning of new things. As tough as it was, I absolutely loved it. Being a Mum felt like the most natural role in the world for me – something I’d always dreamed of and yet for quite a while had dreaded whether it would ever in fact happen.
What I also came to realise was that, going onto that beach mentally and emotionally, was something I’d always done. Maybe not necessarily a beach or that specific scene, but taking myself away mentally from an uncomfortable situation, or focusing on something I did want and amplifying it, had certainly been things I’d done a number of times in the past and yet it was only when talking to other new mums that I realised that not everyone else did this. Some were horrified at the thought of going through labour without pain relief. Others admired it and wished they’d been able to do it.
What it stirred in me was a fascination for what it was I’d actually done, how it worked and why?
I remembered a visit to the dentist a few years prior and having 4 old fillings drilled out and replaced, all without anaesthetic. Why? Because it meant I’d get it over and done with in one go, rather than having 2 on one side done that day and having to go back again for the other 2 to be done. I’d simply ‘taken myself off’ to a nicer place in my mind while the dentist did what was needed.
I recalled training for a javelin event, when I was throwing for the team 2 years above me at school. I was already doing pretty well but wanted to prove myself even more so to the rest of the team, to feel like I’d earned the right to be there with them. I remembered feeling like I knew it was as much about the mental focus as it was in the physical action and ability.
So, if I was doing this relatively easily and yet, whilst I’d assumed everyone else must be doing it too, but they weren’t and didn’t even seem to be aware it was ‘a thing’…what was it?
I discovered it was a form of self-hypnosis
My curiosity led me to research what was happening and I discovered it was a form of self-hypnosis. We can all do it and indeed do do it far more than we realise.
A good example is when we’re driving. Imagine being on the motorway, on a fairly long distance trip. You might have passengers you chat with, or be lost in singing along to your favourite music on the stereo. Perhaps thinking about what you’ll do when you get to your destination, or what food you’ll need to buy for dinner later. All these things can be happening and yet you’re still driving, knowing how to change gear, indicate to change lane, keeping an eye on other cars etc without having to consciously think about them.
This is you being in a state of hypnosis; your subconscious mind has stored all the learned processes of how to drive a car and allows you to access them ‘on auto-pilot’ as needed, whilst your conscious mind is left free to do what it does best; keeping you safe and alive by being aware of your surroundings, looking for the unfamiliar.
However, should you suddenly see the red of brake lights glow in front of you, or the exit sign appear for the junction you need, your conscious mind will kick in to alert you to the fact, so you can decide what to do next. Very often, these will be actions you’ve already taken before, such as hitting the brakes or indicating over to drive onto the exit slip-road. And they’re also stored in your subconscious for easy retrieval and replay as needed.
And so it continues; day in, day out, we’re constantly dipping in and out of different levels of hypnosis, or ‘auto-pilot’.
So, how did this help me to endure labour and dental treatment without any pain relief?
How can hypnosis help us to improve the way we perform?
Well, it’s in the way we manage our mindset. Almost everything we do starts in the mind: we have a thought; that thought generates a feeling or an emotion and that then leads to a behaviour or action. If the initial thought is a positive or helpful one, then the resulting emotions and behaviours are more likely to be positive or helpful too. However, if the thought is negative or unhelpful to us, then we’re more likely to feel and act in a more negative manner.
By understanding this process, and then taking it to the next level and curating and managing it to our advantage, it’s amazing what we can achieve and the difference we can make to our lives; personally and professionally. In fact, in everything we do and every interaction we have!
The more I understood, the more I was fascinated and determined to learn as much as I could about this amazing organ we have! And so, despite by this time being a single parent and returning to my role part-time as a national Senior Account Manager with the NHS, I decided to embark on a degree-level diploma in Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy. Every few months, I took a week’s leave and schlepped down to south London for 7 days of 8 hours of training, returning every other day to collect my son from my parents’, spend the night with him, take him to nursery and travel back down again. It was tough going but I absolutely loved it! We would learn the theory of how our conscious and subconscious minds work and then put it into practise on ourselves and our classmates, doing everything from tackling fears and phobias to clamping bulldog clips onto the skin of each other’s hands and seeing how long we could withstand the increased ‘pain’.
And just 7 months later, just after being made redundant following the global crash, I fast-tracked my studies and qualified! I’ve never been very good at sitting around doing nothing and within a few weeks had opened up a complementary therapies and hypnotherapy practice locally. I had an extremely steep learning curve, considering running my own business was never even on my radar!
However, what drove me was my absolute passion for helping others to improve their lives. To tap into this innate resource and learn how to take advantage of its power to maximise their wellbeing and performance, in whatever they do.
The services I offer have continued to develop from that day nearly 15 years ago, which I see as the day I gave birth to not just my baby son, but also to my other baby – my own business! And now, the driving force behind my business is the desire to create a life my son and I love and to show him what’s possible when you do what you love.
As a Coach, CBT-Hypnotherapist, Spiritual Mentor and 5th Dimension Earth Certified Healer, I love empowering people to free themselves from restrictions, mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. To unlock their true potential and create the happy and successful lives they desire and can thrive in every single day.
If you’d like to have a free, no-obligation chat to see if I could help you to do the same, I’d love to hear from you! Email me at Katie@TheCatalystforLife.com.
PS – oh, and the ‘moon faced’ consultant I mentioned earlier? That’s due to visual distortions in hypnosis, one of a number of effects that can happen when we’re in a state of hypnosis.
PPS – there are many myths about hypnosis and hypnotherapy, thanks in part to the stage variety used to entertain an audience, rather than to help the subject! So, feel free to download my factsheet to understand a bit more about what it does, and does not, do!