"I first discovered hypnobirthing a year before getting pregnant when listening to a podcast. I hadn't ever thought much about giving birth before, but it made it seem like such a positive and natural experience, not like how birth is usually portrayed on tv. I was interested in mindfulness and mediation anyway so felt like hypnobirthing would be something I'd want to explore if the time came. After finding out I was pregnant, I started looking more into hypnobirthing and read a book about it. It all just made so much sense to me, allowing the body to do what it naturally needs to do without letting thoughts get in the way and interrupt it. I was convinced I wanted to use the techniques discussed in the book to achieve a calm and natural birth but knew that my partner needed to get on board with the idea too. I decided to look into what hypnobirthing courses were available and discovered Luna Bear Birthing, which uses Katharine Graves Hypnobirthing. It took a little bit of convincing my partner at first as his original idea of hypnobirthing was that it was a bit 'hippyish' and might be a bit of a waste of money seeing as not everyone takes the course and still manage to give birth. Even he will admit now that he couldn't have been more wrong! We were both surprised at how factual and practical the information was. For me, learning exactly what happens to your body when giving birth made it seem far less scary, and after completing the course, I felt excited and positive about birth. I had thought about having a home birth but had felt too nervous to actually commit to it until I took the hypnobirthing course. I felt well informed and confident that it was something I wanted to do so I contacted the homebirth team a few days later. My partner and I practised the hypnobirthing techniques, and I listened to the tracks every night before bed. I felt completely ready for labour and not at all nervous as I trusted my body and knew exactly what would be happening at each stage. My partner was also prepared and knew how he could best support me. On Friday 16th October, which was my due date, I lost my mucus plug at around 2am. I instantly felt excited but knew that this didn't necessarily mean I would give birth that day so I went back to bed. I noticed I was experiencing mild period pains at this point but knew it was important to get some rest. I put on my hypnobirthing track and fell back to sleep. We got up and had breakfast. Then, at 8am I felt a strange popping sensation and my waters broke. Around half an hour later I started getting contractions that felt quite strong. We started timing them using an app. I decided to use a TENS machine but they soon became stronger and closer together so I decided to get in the bath. This instantly felt better and took the pressure off between surges. Each time I felt a contraction I would focus on the images I had been practising, remembering that each surge was like a wave that would peak and then fall again. It had only been a few hours since my contractions started but I felt like it was time for my partner to call labour line. He wasn't convinced anyone would come as I was so calm and able to talk to him normally. I continued breathing calmly through each surge until my midwife arrived at 12pm. Luckily my partner had blown up the birthing pool and had prepared downstairs whilst I was in the bath. My midwife asked to examine me at this point and I remember thinking 'I bet I'm only a few centimetres dilated!' She couldn't believe I was almost 10cm already and immediately told my partner to start filling the pool as quickly as possible! Being out of the water was far more uncomfortable so I was glad to get back in it. I listened to the hypnobirthing tracks when I was in the pool and continued to breathe through until I felt like I needed to start pushing. I was pushing for about an hour in the pool before my midwife decided it would be best for me to get out and try other positions. Baby was moving down but very slowly so my midwife tried using a catheter to drain my bladder which helped them move a bit but not enough. I could see the head and knew she was really close but after another hour of pushing my midwife said I would need to be transferred into hospital at this point. I completely trusted my midwife and knew this was the right thing to do, even though I had really wanted a home birth. I was exhausted at this point and just wanted baby to be out safely and quickly. I used gas and air in the ambulance as the contractions were really strong again, after not really feeling them at all at home. I had an episiotomy but managed to push baby out without any other intervention, which I was so pleased about. We finally got to meet our beautiful baby girl after a pretty intense few hours! Bowie Rose Essen was born at 5.06pm weighing 7lbs10. I didn't get to birth the placenta naturally as I had a local anaesthetic for the episiotomy but because I knew what was happening the whole time I felt completely ok with it. If I hadn't have done the hypnobirthing course I wouldn't have had the awareness and knowledge I did about each procedure and what my options were. Even though I didn't get to have the homebirth I wanted, I felt completely positive about the whole experience and knew everyone had done everything they could to ensure our wishes were respected and that I had a safe birth. My partner was amazing, like I knew he would be: so calm and helpful, setting everything up as we had talked about and massaging me in the pool. Deciding to switch to the homebirth team was honestly one of the best decisions we could have made. I had built up a really good relationship with my midwife, and I felt so relaxed, calm and in control at home. I absolutely believe that's why I was 10cm dilated so quickly as I didn't once feel tense or fearful. My midwife later explained that no one understood why baby had got stuck because she was in the perfect position and that if I had been in hospital earlier they probably would have suggested using forceps which I didn't want to happen. I would 100% opt for a homebirth again and would use all the same hypnobirthing techniques leading up to and during birth. No matter what kind of birth I would have had, the fact that I was so calm and relaxed about everything in the weeks and months leading up to it was amazing, and I was so glad about that. My partner and I had the opportunity to meet Katharine to film an interview before having Bowie, which was a real honour and it was great to talk about how positive hypnobirthing had been for us up to that point. We are so grateful to all the doctors and midwives who helped ensure Bowie came into this world safely and for the midwives in hospital who supported us with breastfeeding for 2 nights after giving birth. We really are so lucky to have such amazing services available to us in this country!"
" Our gorgeous son was born on the 18th October weighing 8.8lbs. My surges started on the Saturday (17th) afternoon with my show in the morning. I was pleased I didn’t have to be induced and have a sweep. Come 5am on Sunday we went into hospital to find I was 6cm dilated and everything was looking good. Unfortunately when they examined me further they broke my waters and found that baby had poo’d so I could not have the water birth I was hoping for plus I had to be monitored throughout. However, my surges were coming regularly and strong but with my Hypnobirthing techniques I handled them all with my breathing. Our room was calm with music and tea lights, we didn’t bother taking the guitar haha, everything was going so well that we and the midwife believed we were transitioning and near to meeting our baby. Babies heartbeat started to rise and they re-examined me to find I was still 6cm dilated and there was swelling on the babies head. We were advised the hormone drip was not needed as the surges were strong and consistent, we discussed a C section as this was the safest option for the baby before it was an emergency. We had a gentle C section and they respected all our wishes, we got to find out the sex by seeing him, not being told, it was magical. He had his chord wrapped around his neck twice so no matter how much we tried, he wasn’t going to come naturally. At 14:12pm Theodore was born, Nick got to cut the delayed chord and I had 30 seconds of skin to skin before he got taken to be assessed in the special care unit. From there he had a small procedure on his lungs and then got moved to the Trevor Mann Unit in Brighton where he was under observation for 9 days, needing help with his breathing and to clear his lungs and stomach of meconium. He made incredible progress very quickly and we are all now home together and loving being our own little family. Breast feeding is going well and we couldn’t be prouder of our little boy. Thank you again for everything you taught us, Hypnobirthing got me through my surges with no pain relief and we felt informed about the situation and confident to ask questions when we needed to. Although it was a C section the process was still beautiful and we’re loving being mummy and daddy to baby Theo."
" We had the safe arrival of our beautiful baby boy George on the 28th at 5.11am weighing 7lb 6oz. I got diagnosed with pre eclampsia on the 25th and was advised it was best to be induced. This obviously wasn’t part of my birthing plan at all. But Leigh and I calmly spoke about it and agreed that for mine and babies safety it was best to go ahead with an induction. I think I felt so calm because of the hypnobirthing techniques. I went in to Winchester at 6pm on the 27th and had a gel put on my cervix to get things going. Leigh had to go home and wasn’t allowed back until I was ready to go on to the labour ward. Again I felt calm about this was really relaxed and just excited to meet our baby. I was also prepared for a long haul, as it can take hours, days to get things going. By 8pm when Leigh to leave I had started to get period like cramps and didn’t think much of it. I got a film ready on my iPad and sat back to relax. Within and hour and a half those aches turned into surges and I was using my techniques to breath through them. By 11pm the surges were every 2minutes and I was doing my breathing and saying my affirmations. The midwife came to check me and I was 4cm dilated and ready to ring Leigh and go through to the labour ward. It was all so quiet and calm. I went through to my room on the labour ward with two lovely midwives that stayed with me the whole time. Leigh arrived and it was just all very quiet and calm and I just concentrated on my breathing. By 1.30am I was getting the sensation to push and was on gas and air concentrating on my breathing. Baby was very relaxed the whole time and so relaxed was facing to the side and was too comfy to move. After an hour and a half of different positions and pushing I got quite tired and we had made the decision that I needed to help. Again this was all in a very calm matter and felt like the right thing to do for me and baby. By 4.30 I was down in theatre with Leigh by my side and I had an epidural and forceps were used. And George was there put on me skin on skin and it was amazing. Leigh got to help cut the cord and cuddled him while they stitched me up. Once we were back in the room I got back to skin on skin and fed George. We had a couple of hours of lovely bonding before being put on the ward. It was far from the birth that I had wanted, but it was still absolutely amazing and still so calm and relaxed. I can’t say anything negative about it at all. And I think a lot of it is to do with the hypnobirthing because I was able to focus and stay calm the whole way through. So thank you so much Fiona it made my experience amazing and helped me through the whole way. Xxxx"
"Fiona was kind enough to work with me during my pregnancy for my second child. I had a complicated first birth which made me anxious for the second. Fiona worked with me and my husband over 4 sessions in our own home which made us very comfortable. Each session was very calming and mainly because Fiona's manner and voice were perfect for what we needed. We had homework from each session which helped reinforce what we had learnt and give us confidence in the techniques. As a result of Fiona's approach and me playing the script in my ear, along with using the mind techniques, I was able to stay in my home during the first part of my labour. In fact I managed to stay at home until I was 8 centimetres dilated! Fiona was very good at making sure my husband was involved in the course and that he had a very important role to play. This really helped when we arrived at the hospital and I was asked to get onto the bed. I wasn't keen on this as I was bed bound in my last labour. My husband used the calming words we had learnt and then set the expectations of the midwives that we were following Hypnobirth, they were very accommodating and did everything they could to support me, which relaxed me more. Baby Edward was born, 1 hour and 30 minutes after I arrived at the hospital. I had a lovely birth which I can remember fondly and I genuinely do believe that without the techniques we used I would not be able to say this and would not have lasted in my home nearly as long. Anyone that has had a baby will know that it is a tiring and painful thing to go through but I found that using Hypnobirth this time was more relaxed and manageable. I want to say a big thankyou to Fiona for helping me and my husband through this time." Paul and Kelly
"I had my little girl in May 2011. With my labour I didn’t have the experience I envisaged so when I fell pregnant with my son I knew I wanted to explore other options for managing the experience. For me the hardest part to cope with on my first labour had been the early stages of labour at home, prior to reaching 4 cms dilation, and being admitted onto the labour ward. I experienced painful early labour pains for 48 hours before reaching 4 cms. I hadn’t planned/expected this and found that this took such a toll on me that by the time I was admitted to the hospital I was very drained and labour wasn’t a very positive experience. Labour is definitely a challenge both physically and mentally so when I fell pregnant with my son I knew I wanted to prepare myself better mentally for the labour and this is why I contacted Fiona to prepare using the hypno birthing plan. I found the sessions with Fiona a very relaxing and enjoyable experience. It was something my husband and myself did together and it felt very good to take time out to prepare ourselves better for the labour second time round. Fiona provided clear guidance on how to use the techniques to relax and how to practice them in preparation for labour. And when the time came I found using the techniques invaluable. I had been so afraid of struggling with early labour that it was almost a surprise that when I got to the hospital they said you are already 5 cms. I had managed to deal with the pain so much better this time and was in a much stronger position to deal with the next stages of labour. I believe hypno birthing allows you to prepare mentally for labour and make it the positive experience it should be. Fiona is very knowledgeable and shares and teaches very clearly how best to use the hypno birthing techniques. I would totally recommend undertaking hypno birthing sessions with Fiona for any mum to be."
"6 years ago I was an anxious first time mum-to-be, my previous experiences in hospital weren’t bad but I just had a huge fear of them and of any procedures that go with it. As giving birth was firmly on the horizon it wasn’t something I could ignore any longer. Luckily I found Fiona, who took me and my husband (so glad he was involved too!) on our hypnobirthing journey. I wasn’t sure what to expect and if I’m honest I wasn’t sure if it was really going to help. How wrong can you be? The techniques that Fiona taught me were invaluable. So when the time came, (and things weren’t going quite as planned) I was able to focus clearly on what was happening but keep calm and really be in control. It’s a very hard thing to explain, but having the skills that hypnobirthing gave me I wasn’t scared or freaked out - all the things I am convinced I would have been without Fiona’s advice. It has changed me for life, not only during that particularly challenging period. The labour was relatively quick - I was admitted at 10am and gave birth just gone midnight. I genuinely believe things would have been very different if I hadn’t contacted Fiona and I will always be grateful to her for her help."
"Birthing review Jasper and Charlotte We called on Fiona during my 3rd pregnancy. My first wasn’t really traumatic but ended in forceps and my second was a still birth. With both of these experiences still relatively fresh (our eldest was still only 19 months when we found out we were expecting our 3rd!) I had decided I wanted to explore hypnobirthing to see if it could help keep me calm during a birth that I worried would be traumatic for me after our last. We called Fiona after a recommendation from a friend and to say she helped is an understatement. She was amazing at helping teach us the techniques I needed to remain calm. After a long wait from waters breaking to first contraction I then gave birth within 3 hours and managed to stay calm whilst delivering a very healthy 8lb 9 baby. When we fell pregnant again I got back in touch with Fiona to let her know our news and to say I would once again be using the techniques she had taught us just a year previously. Our 3rd labour again was a breeze with the techniques and peaceful thoughts allow me to stay home contracting for 2 hours with my other 2 children around me. We arrived at the hospital and 45 mins later we had a beautiful baby girl. I would recommend hypnobirthing to anyone, the calm feeling I had throughout labour definitely made it a pleasant experience, Fiona really is fantastic at what she teaches"
"During my first pregnancy, I decided I wanted to have a home water birth, which was as calm as possible, with minimal pain relief. As part of this, I discovered hypnobirthing and therefore called on Fiona to help me learn/understand the tools and techniques to deal with whatever was thrown at me during the birth. Fiona was great during our sessions; with her calming voice, infectious passion and unparalleled knowledge, she really set us up to have the birth we wanted. Alas, we weren’t able to have our home birth but the techniques really did work, to the point where my midwife could hardly tell when I was having contractions. Even when things weren’t going the way we planned I was able to control the pain and remain calm. We eventually ended up having a water birth at hospital, being delivered the most incredible 6lb 7oz little boy with no pain relief. The whole experience was calm and joyful. A year ago, we ended up using the very same tools and techniques to deliver my second son. A much smoother and to-plan birth than my first, but still relying on those techniques to have that natural birth. The main thing I remember from Fiona was her ability to explain tricky medical information. A key thing for me was her saying; ‘labour is painful because the muscles in the womb have never been used before and you can’t exercise them. Imagine running a marathon and never doing any training, it would hurt. But labour pain is not from injuring yourself, it’s your body doing something it’s supposed to do’. Thank you so much Fiona, I really hope other couples can benefit from your skills too!"