Why I Employed a Man to Assist me with my Birth Preparation.
Yep, I chose to hire a man.
And nope, it's not the handsome fella in the picture, that's my wonderful husband & birth partner, James with our daughter.
But why? What could a man possibly bring to my birth preparation? How could a man possibly have the right perspective to help a woman to fully prepare for her first experience of giving birth?
Well it all happend a bit like this...
Following the initial excitement of realising we were expecting our first baby, my thoughts quickly turned to my birth preparation and, specifically, Hypnobirthing - well I WAS a hypnotherapist, and it absolutely made sense - I'm used to popping in and out of trance as part of my daily life already.
It was important to me, however, that my hypnobirthing teacher was also a hypnotherapist. Now, there weren't that many hypnobirthing practitioners in the North East back in 2012 - never mind ones with a qualification in clinical hypnotherapy, so after extensive research, unfortunately, I drew a blank and shelved the idea in lieu of 'I'll read a book and DIY it'.
It was only during a conversation about my new found desperate need for ginger ale (I found it the best thing for morning sickness) with my good friend & mentor, Nigel Hetherington , that this crazy 'hire a man to help me prepare for birth' idea began to grow roots...
Nigel - So you know Gordon who assisted on the last diploma course... looks a bit like the devil... (seriously, this is how Gordon was described to me :-))
Me - Erm... yeah (certainly hadn't attributed any develishness to Gordon - until now)
Nigel - Well he did some hypnobirthing stuff for his wife and she apparently had a great birth. Why don't you ask him if he can help you?
Me - Er... okay. Thanks.
Now, I did remember Gordon quite well, very well as a matter of fact. You see, Gordon (who, by the way, does have a goatie but looks absolutely nothing like the devil) had already changed my life in one 90 minute hypnotherapy session. I had arrived for a hypnotherapy session with Gordon a few years earlier with a long term, one-pack-a-day smoking habit - and I left this session as someone who used to smoke. Not one cigarette since.
Now, if you've ever smoked, you'll know what a massive achievement this is - and you'll also understand why my confidence in Gordon's abilities was already sky high.
So I found myself on the phone to Gordon, asking him if he could replicate for me what he had done for his wife - and he happily agreed.
So he sent me a couple of tracks to download - one called 'Confidence in Birthing' and the other for 'Relaxation'. Only 2 tracks. when Gordon was developing these for his wife, he read the Marie Mongan book, HypnoBirthing, and had taken many key elements from his learning and woven them cleverly into these two amazing tracks which I thoroughly enjoyed using and listened to daily.
I also read the book and backed up my hypnosis practise with the knowledge I learnt from this.
Now this all sounds quite rudimentary and DIY so far in terms of a hypnobirthing course doesn't it, but about half way through my pregnancy, my decision to employ Gordon really began to reap rewards.
We scheduled a skype conversation where James & I could speak directly with Gordon. Do you know what, I might as well have not been there. My now husband & birth partner, James, got the BEST advice on how to support me through labour. It was basically a dad to dad chat from one who had done it to one who was about to with, what I now know is VERY sound advice. Massage her back like this, pack healthy, high calorie and easily digestible snacks as soon as you know labour is underway, hold space for her, gaze in her eyes and hold her - but only if she wants you to, remind her to get into the most comfortable position... etc... etc... etc... And do you know what? My fabulous partner, pen poised and note taking, soaked it all in and took it all on board.
So, with James feeling far more relaxed, involved and aware of what he could do in his role of supporting me, I suddenly felt far more relaxed and supported. There's a lot to be said for blokes talking candidly and supportively about birth.
I continued to read, seek out positive birth stories only & listen to my tracks right up until week 38, when we scheduled a '1:1 Fear Release' (this is now something I offer to ALL my clients).
Gordon - Just come along with an idea of any remaining niggles or fears you have about birth.
So I did. At 38 weeks pregnant I waddled (yes, I did have a pregnancy swagger/waddle) into Gordon's consulting room with what I thought was a firm idea of my primary fear. I was afraid of being 'cut' (or in medical terms, afraid of having an epesiotomy).
So we began to work with this... gradually unravelling this fear I was so sure of... until, in a deeply relaxed state, my unconscious suddenly offered the gift of new insight:
Me - Oh...
Gordon - What?
Me - I'm not bothered about being cut at all... actually, I'm deeply bothered about...
...and I'm not going to tell you what I was actually deeply bothered about, because this remains private between me, Gordon, my husband and my closest of closest friends... However, the point is, the thing I was so sure I was afraid of, I actually wasn't. There was something underneath - a deeper need, a deeper root of a deeper issue.
I worked with & cleared this deeper issue that day, and just in time too so that I could clear a smoother emotional path for the birth of our daughter.
Now, in my own practise with clients during fear release sessions, I notice this all the time. An initial sureness of a specific fear around birth, only to find that, once unravelled, the unconscious provides that 'aha' moment as something deeper reveals itself - a fear or discomfort which was hiding away undetected and only discovered through deeper exploration in a 1:1 fear release session. Then we set to work on resolving the 'actual' fear, not a surface masquerading one.
So, could I have done with a bit more of a structured course? Probably, but my experience of hiring a man, (and not just a man, but a highly skilled hypnotherapist) to help me prepare for birth has massively informed my own practise to this day.
My experience with Gordon is the reason I will not compromise on providing my clients with a 1:1 Fear Release Hypnotherapy session and a bespoke track. Let's find and resolve every fear, even ones you may not be consciously aware of.
My experience with Gordon is also the reason I ensure birth partners are fully and practically involved in the entire course I deliver - I'd love to work alongside a man in the future who can talk candidly to other male birth partners... but until then I direct clients towards this online course - Birthing for Blokes - delivered by midwife & Author Mark Harris - birth preparation for men, designed and delivered by a man.
Gordon moved abroad with his beautiful family a few years ago, and I've decided to get in touch with him this week to let him know, not only that he helped me tremendously to have a wonderful birth experience, but also that he has taught me so much more than he could ever have imagined... and that I am enjoying paying this forward now. 🙂