"I'm looking for a doula who is familiar with hypnobirthing" is a very common comment I see in many groups on social networks and get asked by potential clients. So am I familiar with hypnobirthing?
Heck yes I am! Here's a little info around my personal and professional experience:
Way back in 2006 when I was pregnant with my daughter, I took part in a self-hypnosis trial with Dr Allan Cyna (Consultant Anaesthetist) at the Women's & Children's Hospital in North Adelaide. We had 3 in-person hypnotherapy group sessions with Dr Cyna as well as CDs to take home and listen to. I remember very clearly how calm and relaxed I felt during my labour, to the point I was falling asleep in between contractions. I had been induced with gels and the OB breaking my waters so was a little apprehensive about it all but it was very straight forward. I then went on to use those skills during my next two births at home - one of which was 19 hours long!
Many of my doula clients have undertaken group hypnotherapy or calmbirth classes with one of the many providers here in Adelaide. As with all my clients, we talk about what they want for their birth. This includes any particular techniques they may have learnt or terminology they want used, for example using the word 'surges' instead of contractions'.
I have sat in on client's private hypnobirthing classes and gone through the learning with them and practiced the breathing and soft-touch techniques. I know for one particular client, these skills became essential during her 50 hour VBAC!
For further professional training, I have undertaken studies with the HypnoDoula course.
So yes, I am familiar with hypnobirthing and would love to support you through your pregnancy, labour and birth as your doula!
Read below for one of my client's hypnobirthing stories from January 2021.
Kate's hypnobirth with Elemental Beginnings
We first met Kelly in 2018 when we hired her as a Doula for the birth of our first son. From our very first meeting with her we felt incredibly comfortable and relaxed in her presence and we knew straight away she was exactly the type of support person we wanted and needed at the birth.
Kelly helped us clarify our birth preferences by making sure we understood the birthing process so we could make informed choices throughout. For our first baby we opted for a home birth, and Kelly supported us through 20 hours of labour at home before I was ultimately transferred to hospital due to some complications. She was a huge support to both myself and my husband throughout the long labour. I think he was particularly grateful to have an extra support person to tag team with. I was also grateful to have Kelly's support postpartum and she helped me navigate my disappointment that the birth had not gone exactly the way I had hoped.
When we found out I was pregnant with my second son in May last year, the first thing my husband said to me was "we will definitely get Kelly again won't we?". It really wasn't a question for either of us as we couldn't imagine doing it without her. We greeted Kelly back into our lives as a friend and once again, she helped us feel calm and supported in the lead up to the birth.
This time around we decided for a hospital birth from the outset. My labour progressed slowly and was manageable throughout the day. My husband was in regular contact with Kelly to keep her updated and we both felt reassured knowing she was ready and waiting for us when we needed her. Later that evening when things had progressed we asked her to come over. She arrived at our home, her usual unphased and calm self, using a soft voice and gentle touch. I used a TENS machine and utilised my learned hypnobirthing skills to remain 'in the zone', while Kelly and my husband supported me through each contraction.
Around an hour later I decided it was time to go to the hospital and Kelly rode with us (squeezed in the back of our car between two baby seats), offering words of support where needed, but just as much comfort in her silence. On arrival at the hospital ER, my husband dropped us at the door and left to park the car. I remember thinking how I would have been left alone at that time had we not had Kelly with us. I was so grateful to have her there, guiding me through admission and responding to some of the questions on my behalf so that I could remain focused on my labour and breathing.
It was a long walk from the emergency room to birthing and assessment, and Kelly was with me every step of the way, helping me block everything else out as I breathed through each contraction. I chose to walk as it felt the right thing to do at the time, so Kelly was left to fend off multiple offers of wheelchairs from concerned nurses and hospital staff as we walked the long corridors together. It felt so reassuring to know she was in my corner, helping me to trust my instincts and encouraging me to 'walk my baby out'.
My husband was already in the birthing suite waiting for us when we arrived. Kelly straight away raised the bed to the highest height so I could continue to stand and lean against it while she placed her hands on my hips and back for gentle support. Her experience means she know exactly the right things to do to help in the moment, with very little communication needed, meaning I could remain 'in the zone' for labour.
Soon after I decided to get into the bath and spent the next little while in the water in silence, breathing through each contraction and feeling my baby move down. Kelly continued to provide subtle support - whether it was occasionally wafting peppermint oil under my nose to help with nausea or placing an extra towel under my head, or gently reminding my husband to hit replay on the hypnobirthing affirmations track playing in the background.
Only two hours after arriving at the hospital, I breathed into my final contraction and pushed out my baby. The birth was exactly what I had hoped... A calm and beautifully supported experience.
Kelly's support did not end once our baby was born. She helped me breathe through the birth of my placenta and helped me with my first post-birth shower. I also required some minor stitches so she came with me to the room next door while my husband remained with our baby. I was more scared of the stitches than I had been at any time during my labour and for the first time needed pain relief. As I breathed in the gas deeply and squeezed her hand tightly, she offered continuous words of encouragement and support throughout the procedure. I was so incredibly grateful for her kind and caring presence during that time.
After such a beautiful birth, our baby experienced some unexpected breathing complications and ended up in neonatal special care for 12 days. This was an incredibly stressful and upsetting time for us but once again, Kelly was a continuous support for me throughout with texts and phone calls, offering a level of empathy and understanding I would not otherwise have had.
We are forever grateful for the friendship and support Kelly has provided to our family. If you are thinking about hiring a Doula, I cannot recommend Kelly enough. She is calm, kind, patient, genuine, knowledgeable and understanding - the perfect person to support you throughout your pregnancy and birth.
Thank you Kelly!
You might also like to read more about Kate's other birth from her husband Simon's perspective.
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Kelly Harper is the owner of Elemental Beginnings Doula & Placenta Services in Adelaide. She provides sleep consultancy, placenta encapsulation and doula services to families during pregnancy, birth and in their fourth trimester.