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If you're reading a 'hypnobirthing' book and thinking 'what a load of codswallop', where do you go next?
45

TurtlesAreRetroRight · 09/05/2011 09:33

When I had dd I was a fully signed up member of the 'I will hypnobirth' brigade. I read the books, listened to the CDs, went to a few classes, deep breathed and wandered into birth wholeheartedly believing in it.

The thing is, it didn't go well with dd. Not a hypnobirthing failure but dd was severely malpositioned and I could not manage the feelings. The pain was cripplingly bad and I know now why because she was unbirthable and my body was screaming at me that something was wrong. But I blindly persisted with breathing through it (not working) for far too long. DD had a couple of problems due to a protracted labour and very long 2nd stage and I ended up with a blue light transfer and emergency surgery.

It's years on and I've braved getting pregnant again. I've had ptsd and struggled with having another. It's taken counselling and a lot of resolve to have a second. I've tried to get into a mindset that what happened with dd was just bad luck (I did NOT fail which is what I've believed for years), hypnobirthing is only for straightforward, low risk babies. Maybe this one might be.

But I've started reading the books again and last night I threw one at the wall in frustration. Because it's bringing back all the feelings of failure. When it says 'you can condition yourself not to feel pain, you shouldn't feel pain and if you think your baby into the right position, they will be there' I feel so bloody useless. Well my thoughts must be wonky because I thought all sorts of hippy, happy clappy stuff last time and dd still didn't come out. I flicked through to the 'assistance and breech' bit of the book to see what it says about managing that. Apparently breech happens when you're not thinking positively or have stress in your life. Am I mad? I read this and it reeked of 'it's your fault if your baby's in the wrong position'. I'd just about accepted that it was just bad flipping luck but this book that helped me when pg with dd is making me feel really bloody useless again.

I can't repeat affirmations about 'my baby is in the perfect position' because my head is screaming 'well that's bollocks'.

I did believe last time. I don't know what the bloody hell to do. I don't want a medicalised birth. I wanted to believe in my body and have another crack at having faith in my ability to do this. But the lovely, calming books I read last time are giving me the rage.

Somebody do it for me? I don't know what to do, how to prepare. Apart from crying and panicking.

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fruitybread · 09/05/2011 13:39

Thank you turtles. It's utterly foolish for this book to use language of 'surrender'. As if having vital surgery was somehow a question of being defeated, and birth something you can 'lose' or 'win' purely through your own efforts.

I think there's a fine line between using the language of empowerment, and creating the myth that women can control everything that happens to them during labour and birth. Babies can remain breech despite everyone's best efforts, and for plenty of reasons that have nothing to do with mom being unable to 'let go'. FFS.

I do see how this sort of thing is making you unhappy, but the problem really isn't you!

I hope you get some clarity and calm about your birth choices this time round.

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naturalbaby · 09/05/2011 14:00

i was lucky with my births but in the back of my mind i always had this doubt and worry that they could be breech or get stuck or i'd end up with intervention. i just focused on a relaxation excercises each day and the breathing. i didn't read or look at any of the other stuff, watched a few nice birth videos. i did a hypnobirthing course with an instructor with ds1 and went to see her for an individual 'fear release' session when i was pregnant with ds2. i was still mentally prepared for an emcs but it really helped put my mind at rest. i 'trained' myself to acknowledge thoughts but not dwell on them. i focused on the good thoughts and imagined how i wanted my birth to go.

giving birth on the floor quickly - my ds3 was a lovely unassisted homebirth. the minute my older kids went to bed for their afternoon nap my body went into overdrive and i delivered him myself 1/2hr later. i have dark black/grey carpet and did make a big mess of them! with ds2 i had no idea how close i was to giving birth untill i stepped into the birth pool and realised his head had come out.

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Backinthebox · 09/05/2011 18:14

Turtles, I think I could hazard a guess that you and I end up on the same threads a lot, as there are only a handful of us who keep on getting drawn back into conversations about asynclitic babies Wink. So if you are who I am guessing at - congratulations! And if you are not, congratulations anyway Grin

FWIW I actually wanted to tear the Mongan book up into tiny little pieces and set fire to them before ringing the author and telling her what a patronising, foolish and irritating woman she was for the massive levels of insensitivity towards people like us in her book. I went through my first labour in my special place in my head which I had prepared myself during pregnancy. I had no intervention, kept active, and am a fit person with plenty of stamina and yet still couldn't get that baby out. I read the Mongan book for the first time in pregnancy no.2 to see if I could improve on my DIY technique, and had to have the book physically removed from me and taken out of sight quickly by my friend (who used it to great success, btw.) I decided to revert to my own technique, boosted by lots of preparation with the help of an IM - I can seriously recommend someone like her, or a doula, to help you develop your own thought processes for labour.

I can't offer any more advice than that, because I never got to put any of my careful preparation into practice second time - I did just sneeze instead! Grin

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LynetteScavo · 09/05/2011 18:22

Haven't read whole thread, so if it hasn't been sugested already, I think seeing a hypnotically practitioner for a "fear release" session would really help. Bascially they hypnotise you not to be scared of giving birth again. It really helped me.

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StiffyByng · 10/05/2011 12:25

Turtles, this will sound flippant in view of how you're feeling, so I do apologise, but I am currently overdue with my first baby and did a Mongan hypnobirthing course. I enjoyed the class and loved my teacher but found the theory behind the methods utter bollocks. I've been falling asleep to the CD and hope to use the breathing, but never got round to reading more than the first few chapters of the book. I've been feeling guilty about this but,as I'm steaming towards induction, and know that my classmate ended up with an EMCS, you've helped me tremendously in thinking I don't need to worry any more about my failure to read the whole thing.

I can't be helpful I don't think. I've got no experience to offer. But I am so sorry you're feeling so anxious, and the suggestions of a trainee doula to be by your side sounds like a good thing to try. The very best of luck.

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NoseyNooNoo · 10/05/2011 14:36

I am a HypnoBirthing Practitioner. I'm sorry that you have found HypnoBirthing so frustrating.

HypnoBirthing is suitable for all types of births with any set of special circumstances. I say this as someone who took classes with my first child and was unable to have the home HypnoBirth as planned but was in hospital having an elective C-Section. My births were beautiful because of HypnoBirthing.

I have worked with several second-time mums who have used HypnoBirthing to achieve the lovely birth that they were unable to have the first time around.

Turtles, I think you are reading way too much judgement into Mickey Mongan's book. She is quite the loveliest lady you could ever meet. Did you have much contact with your Practitioner between the course and your birth to resolve the issues that you still had? Have you spoken to her for the second birth? She should be available for you.

If you'd like to talk to me about your issues then perhaps I can help and you can find my contact details here:
Contact
and there are some answers to FAQs that may be useful too:
FAQs

Please feel free to contact me if you want to chat things through since a lovely birth this time around is entirely possible.

x

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Odille · 10/05/2011 16:38

Turtle

Thanks for writing this. I am crying as I read your story. (Mine is below)
Congratulations on your pregnancy. I don't have any particular advice other than trying anything that will help you to relax. I feel the same way about those bastard books. I bet there are loads of us who do. You are not alone.
Can I just say that anyone who is able to conceive, a miracle in itself, then nurture a baby for 9 months before delivering it alive into the world is amazing. In the true meaning of the word.

Sorry if this becomes a hijack but for info, last week I had my first baby. I began the pg thinking that it's great that we have all the medical assistance in this country and ended it thinking that I should do everything naturally and any medical intervention would be a failure. Oh how I congratulated myself that at every antenatal appt, growth scan etc the baby was lying in the optimal position. And I read all those books - the Morgan / Hypnobirthing one, Ina May... and of course some more medical-oriented ones. I did the spinning babies stuff, I hadn't sat reclined for months (I actually felt more comfortable leaning forward or on an exercise ball anyway). Well the baby got stuck and I had a similar experience to you. Loooong latent phase with pain I could not believe (and I've had a kidney stone and recently was in a car crash requiring surgery and over a year of physio). Waterbirth out the window and off to theatre we go. I don't actually know exactly the details but want to find out (I think they used the scary Kiellands forceps) but most of all I am trying to convince myself that I am not a failure and I am also fucking terrified of ever getting pregnant again. While I should be focussed on enjoying my new baby.

In fact I am going to have to write something about this as an amazon review of The Book That Shall Not Be Named. I hope others do too.

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NoseyNooNoo · 10/05/2011 17:31

Odille, Of course you are not a failure. The book doesn't say that and I know that the author doesn't think that. The book is a companion to the courses and a good practitioner will help you to get where you need to be (mentally) so that you can have an enjoyable birth. Reading the book alone, or mixing it with other schools of throught will most probably not be sufficient.

I do think that a few of the stories here demonstrate the fears and negative thoughts that expectant mums hold, and I was very much one of them myself. If you are doing HypnoBirthing and feel that you are not where you need to be please contact your Practitioner who will help you through it. You should tell her/him that hypnosis hasn't worked or you don't agree with something. HypnoBirthing is flexible and you should see it as a tool box - some of the tools are helpful to you and some aren't, so leave those at home.

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LaWeasel · 10/05/2011 17:43

However wellmeaning, I really don't think it's going to help any of the people on thsi thread to go back to hypnobirthing.

There are other people you can speak to about your fears (who probably won't suggest hypnobirthing and incite murderous thoughts) I would recommend speaking to your GP and asking for therapy. You can also request to talk through what happened at your birth with the medical staff who were there at the time and who can go through your notes and fill in blanks where you don't remember what happened/went wrong.
There's also www.birthtraumaassociation.org.uk who help people with PTSD after childbirth.

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tadd · 10/05/2011 17:49

A friend of mine went for the whole hypnobirthing thing. She said it was wonderful and breezed through 2 births beautifully. I think its an each to their own thing and all to do with self control and strength of mind. Dont think i would have the concentration.

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TurtlesAreRetroRight · 10/05/2011 19:18

Odille, congratulations on the birth of your baby. It's early days atm and you will be feeling all manner of things, some of which will be related to the way in which your labour and delivery went and some of which is related to the magnitude of becoming a new parent. Both, happily, get better. If you'd like to talk without fear of being judged at all, or just to chat, please PM me, I'm happy to lend an ear to you.

I do think that the key to accepting what happened is understanding what happened first. I found obtaining my notes and seeing somebody at the hospital who was trained to debrief new mothers and fathers was extraordinarily useful. There were things I didn't know, many of them in fact as I had blocked out a lot of what happened and had a lot of frightening blanks. I've discovered a few things along the road to accepting what happened. The key point is that when I was pregnant I spent a lot of time talking about what I wanted to happen, what I thought was the ideal birth, what I would do. Well I wasn't the only person partaking in that labour/delivery. DD didn't read the same books as me, she didn't have the same plan. I had expectations of myself and the gap between those expectations and reality was a yawning chasm that I tumbled straight into. What I know now is that dd and I experienced that day together. It's the story of how she came into the world, the day I became a mother. And I did not fail her. I don't talk to her today about the day she was born and have to apologise. She is a wonderful, gregarious, funny, brilliant young person who turned 4 today and when she asks me openly and honestly about the scar on my stomach and the way in which she was born, I'm telling her a story about the day I became a mother to her. I did not fail. I did not surrender or give in. I gave birth to the child that fate gave me and chance means that she presented in the way she did. In everything that I control within our relationship, I am proud. I do my very best by her every day and I may not have the tools to control the uncontrollable, but I have let that go in many ways. I do have the tools to parent the child I was given.

Please talk talk talk. It does help. And it gets easier. I will not stand by and believe the mantra of any book that describes malpresentation or feeling pain as anything like a surrender.

Nosey, I appreciate your kind words but I cannot recommend or respect a book that utterly discounts the notion that pain in labour is any kind of indicator or warning. She explicitly writes that this is not how pain works in labour, it's only fear manifesting itself in all circumstances. I thoroughly disagree with such a blanket philosophy. I think that to endure a 2 day labour and 8hr second stage with no drugs and at home in water for the main part of it, hypnobirthing did work in some way but there was a seam of pain running through that day that I KNEW was not right. If I am to listen to my body as is advocated in this method, I knew at the time that the pain I experienced on top of the parts I could control was a signifier for something not being right but I'd been conditioned to believe otherwise and I ignored my instincts. And of course I was right in my concerns. To ignore them was foolhardy. And I damaged my child's neck muscles by blindly persisting and ignoring my body's natural responses to the unnatural. I am not attacking hypnobirthing, I probably would advocate it and think it's a useful tool to have in your arsenal. But for a woman who claims to empower women and to have their emotional and physical wellbeing in mind, the implication that you are surrendering or giving in (direct quotes) when needing intervention, in fact to go one step further and explicitly state that malpresentation is the product of a woman's unhappiness is damaging. The language she uses and the assertions she makes have the message of 'it should be this way, if for any medical reason or if luck plays a hand and it's not a normal labour then you probably caused it and by moving towards necessary help you're failing' is utterly demoralising.

tadd I disagree that it's about self control or strength of mind. I think it's something that could be accessible for everybody. And you don't succeed or fail in it due to your own level of strength or control. You use it as a tool if it suits you. But for it to completely dismiss the very real permutations of pregnancy, labour and delivery as somehow caused by negativity on the part of the woman is wholly unfair. I didn't 'fail' at hypnobirthing any more than I failed dd or the sisterhood or anybody else. I know now with the benefit of stark hindsight that this particular book and this method is short-sighted in part and its accusatory stance particularly upsetting.

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NoseyNooNoo · 10/05/2011 19:44

Turtle, I really do think you have misinterpretted the book and I am sorry that your Practitioner did not advise you otherwise. Mickey Mongan does not discount pain as an indicator or warning. However, it would be fair to say that many women experience pain when there is no danger so in that she is correct. She says that a uterus working effectively will not cause pain and therefore it is very important to listen to your body. If you have undergone hypnosis in class to rid you of fear, to visualise the birth you want, have done all the practice required and you still feel pain then you should question that and seek help, as your practitioner would have explained. If she didn't you should complain to the Institute and I can give you the details of that.

LaWeasel is correct that going back to HypnoBirthing will not help you since you are set inyour belief that HypnoBirthing is in part to blame for the birth you had. I think you do need to gain some closure on your first birth though so that you can proceed with your second birth to have the experience that you want/need/deserve. Please do take some advice on this so that you can move forward.

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TurtlesAreRetroRight · 10/05/2011 20:12

No, not at all. I don't blame hypnobirthing at all for my first birth. THAT is my point. The birth I had was due to malpositioning. This malpositioning was caused by chance. I know this now. The belief that I did something wrong caused crippling ptsd. It's ironic that not a single medical professional has levied any accusation of it being my 'fault', quite the opposite. The book however does no such thing.

I dug the books out again because they did help last time BUT the only reference to malpositioning (breech) states clearly that this happens due to a woman's unhappiness or inability to 'let go'. I have copied the text above. There is no misinterpreting. She does not acknowledge any medical reason whatsoever for a breech position. For example my friend's ds was breech due to a short cord that he had wrapped once round his body. He could not move head down. The Mongan method states that this must be caused by something the woman has or has not done. The potentially difficult labour or surgery that follows is likewise then due to something she has done wrong or a part of the method she has not followed. Can you not see the damaging implication of this? The effect of words like 'surrendering' or 'giving in'?

I have come to terms with dd's birth by accepting that I did not fail. I did not cause dd's malpositioning. This book tells me that I am wrong. That is a long way from empowering. Empower me to try and achieve the birth I would ideally like. Do NOT apportion blame for that which I cannot control.

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Backinthebox · 10/05/2011 22:44

I don't have a book in front of me as it was removed from my house, such was the annoyance it caused me. Therefore I am not able to quote the offending passages directly from it. As I read it, the book seemed to be attempting to give reassurance to women who had never experienced birth or who had had previous normal births that their state of mind could actually help position their baby in order to achieve a pain-free vaginal birth, and that any other outcome was as a direct result of fear and tension in the woman.

I read the book as I was so pleased with my ability to use a state of mind to reduce the pain of a long labour to nothing more than 'really quite ouch-y' and hoped to learn something that may improve my own technique further for my second labour. It irritated me beyond belief! I was told to 'step away from the book' by friends to calm me down.

I've actually been back and searched for what I wrote on MN at the time (26th July.) It gives a good description of my circumstances and what specifically annoyed me. (FWIW I went on 6 weeks after that post to successfully VBAC my next baby at home. None of my friends believe me when I tell them I had a pain-free and euphoric labour second time round.) Here is the post:

I am reading the {Hypnobirthing} book atm and have been wondering a lot about this. The bit I am reading is all about how women fear birth, which leads to tension, which leads to pain. Next it mentions that medicalised birth leads to further intervention which can lead to things going wrong but if you have a calm pain-free intervention-free birth things don't go wrong. Then it goes on about the power of the mind vs medical pain relief for a bit. Which got me thinking about what happened last time. So - a little bit about me!

Basically, I have a degree in human physiology, my final year specialisation was in pain transmission, then I worked in pharmaceuticals as a pain specialist, and now I have a completely unrelated job, but it is a job where fear is not an option. The pain specialist job meant I spoke to a lot of consultant anaesthetists who were beyond the level of just knocking people out for surgery, but were doing things like highly advanced and unusual alternative pain relief for patients with pain that could not be controlled by drugs. They routinely used hypnosis, touch, nerve stimulation and lots of other different techniques, and I was fascinated. When I was pregnant last time I developed my own little mental relaxation and visualisation technique based on what I had learned years before combined with more recent books on hypnosis for surgery and dentistry. I wasn't afraid, and my method worked. (I have since used my method to remain calm and unfussed while a doctor flushed out an injury to my knee that was so deep the kneecap was exposed, and it was too dirty to inject with anaesthetic straight away with some cleaning first, so I am very happy it is a good method!) I had a back-to-back labour that lasted 42 hours from the first strong contractions till the minute I was rushed to theatre, and during those 42 hrs I used my technique, a bit of reflexology and massage, TENS, and then in the latter few hours G&A. All the while my contractions were squidging my daughter more and more into a position she wasn't going to get out of. I have been told that the pain should have been excruciating and I really ought to have had an epidural hours before but I really did not feel I needed one. Eventually it was decided I needed an immediate emergency section, which was poorly carried out and left both me and DD in high dependency care for 5 days. (DD had Apgar of 1, and my blood pressure was below 70/40 and I lost a lot of blood.) Bear with me - this is the short version .

Fast forward to this time. Once again I am feeling very ready, I have confidence in my ability to do this, and am not afraid. I feel I have prepared well. But reading the Hippo book I got as far as page 74-75 where the author gives an account of a woman with a 'victim' mentality who had a terrible birth and then immediately goes on to say it is said that a woman births pretty much the way she lives her life

So now I'm sitting here (the book has already got my back up at this point) thinking - that's wrong. I would definitely place myself closer to life's do-ers and fighters than life's victims and failure, but that is what that section seems to be suggesting and this has really rather annoyed me. I have no idea if it is just the hormones, but it has. I'm not even sure why I've even typed out all of this burble!

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TurtlesAreRetroRight · 10/05/2011 22:59

Backinthebox, thank you for taking the time to find that and post it. I'm v pleased you had such a lovely 2nd delivery.

It is well accusatory isn't it? I too would probably say that I am definitely a proactive, positive, forthright and determined individual. Maybe this was borne out in the way I laboured as tbh I think I did fairly well and was able to manage elements of it using techniques I'd learnt, but to ascribe a victim mentality to you based on a chance event, it just sits so oddly with me. And to draw such bizarre conclusions about a woman based on a perceived notion of failure? Strange.

This thread has really helped me order my thoughts. I do still very much like the idea and possibilities presented by hypnobirthing but am just a little thrown by how disempowering i've found this particular book 2nd time round.

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Backinthebox · 10/05/2011 23:17

A bit bizarre, but I found the self hypnosis chapter of Derren Brown's Tricks of the Mind to be more useful to me this time. It reinforced that what I did first time was actually almost like a recognised self hypnosis technique.

Reading between the lines you don't have the money for a IM (I made sure I had the money for one of these ready and waiting before I even got pregnant!) but there are plenty of ways to gain access to someone who can reinforce your confidence and approach this time. My IM is a Hypnobirthing Practitioner, not because she thinks it is the only approach to labour, but because she appreciates some women find it useful and wished to understand it fully so that she could support those women. She realised before I did that I was not going to find Hypnobirthing useful, so she spent many hours discussing other techniques with me that she thought would be better for me, and never once even mentioned Hypnobirthing except when I brought up my irritation with the book. As an IM she attends lots of local meetings like the home birth group, the sling group, etc, and I know she has given advice to friends of mine there. Maybe for you it is worth either getting a good doula who can understand your frame of mind, or joining a group where you know there will be IMs like mine who are happy to part with useful information?

And yes, you are right. The statement in bold is a direct quote from the book, and it is accusatory.

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TurtlesAreRetroRight · 11/05/2011 09:41

I do like Derren Brown and strangely was talking about his ideas about self hypnosis yesterday. I think I've lent my copy of TOTM to my (Orthodox Christian) father. He's not enjoying it iirc. Grin


My consultant is wonderful. He's a real gem of a medical professional because his wife had a traumatic birth and he'd been practising for 18yrs at the time. It made him reassess how he approached labour and delivery and he specialises in difficult deliveries so it's refreshing that he took the time to go and look at every possible approach and attitude to labour and delivery and then to offer his services as a birth trauma debriefer. And he understands in particular because his wife struggled with an NCT class which provided some wonderful friends but very much gave out the message that all women can do it naturally if they only try. She had a very similar delivery to me and when she went back to the nct she received a similar attitude of 'perhaps you did x or should have tried y and really it was that apportioning of blame that hurt her. So I have a consultant who's pro water and pro hypnotherapy and pro aromatherapy and pro well women really. Plus he runs marathons and cycles up mountains in his spare time. And he looks like Clark Kent. I'm not entirely sure I didn't dream him. I have him though and that's helping enormously.

I do have another option of help but it's, well, difficult. My aunt (mum's sister) is a senior community midwife and has offered to doula. She knows me back to front and knows my problems. I would bite off her hand but for two problems. One, I'm very shy as previously mentioned and worry that having an audience will be inhibiting. Two, my mother would love to be there when ds is born and I could never allow it, I can't even let her touch the bump. I'm very private. And she would be hurt if I said no to her (the no's implicit, she'd never even ask) and then it turned out that I'd invited her little sister to attend.

Why is this so difficult? It's just a baby and me sneezing it out in my sleep after all.

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rubytuesday11 · 16/05/2011 16:38

I am preparing for my birth using a 'hypnobabies' home study course. It was created by an ex-hypnobirthing instructor who found the course to be limiting and wanted to make something more in-depth. I read that it's based on proper medical hypnosis the type used when people get a tooth out and our allergic to aneasthetic I think. I'm really enjoying the course, though obviously can't prove it's affectiveness yet! There is also a lot of detail in it, about some techniques (not just breathing!) on how to get your baby into the correct position, that you can even do in early labour I think.

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Dualta · 07/07/2011 21:45

A friend of mine recently had an uncomplicated first birth having studied hypnobirthing methods. To be honest I think she was just bloody lucky. There's no way to predict how it will go, every birth and every woman is unique.

I think there is a lucrative industry built around taking advantage of women's fear of labour and need to deal with that fear by trying to take control.

I feel so angry when I hear women say they feel a sense of failure after their birth. It is so unfair on them!

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Poppet45 · 08/07/2011 12:50

Hello Turtles my lovely,
I think we're in a similar dilemma. We both did everything 'right' as far as those proponents of natural birth would have it, and it still all went tits up. So what the hell do we do this time?
I don't need telling to be active and upright: I was, I don't need telling about sodding Spinning Babies AGAIN, I didn't sit on a sofa or travel by car for the last month of DS's pregnancy... it did fop all, I swam daily, did yoga, NCT, hypnobirthing m'eh the works. So now I'm thinking now what??? Its so much easier to to be in a good place mentally about trying again for a successful birth if you did it all 'wrong' (no prep, no work on positioning, lying on your back panicking) the first time and have lots you can do differently this time.
FWIW I'm trying not to even think about it all and I'm 21 weeks. When I do I'm thinking chiroparactor to find out if I do have a shit pelvis, then reread the only book that helped last time: JuJu Sundin's birth skills. It was the only one I found that admitted labour hurts like a bastard, and to give cases of things going wrong by no fault of anyone, and yet was still uplifting and supportive. And most of all I'm going to wish you GOOD LUCK and hope I have some too this time.

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