In a previous article, we explored the notion that there is indeed a way to have a happy and calm birth. How nature intended it to be. Free from fear and pain. With no risks for mother and baby. Zero side affects.
That is by using meditation or self hypnosis where the inner mind is in effect trained to believe that birth will be a comfortable and joyous occasion…
Angelique Supka had just such a wonderful experience and we sat down with her to tell us her story. In 2013, she gave birth to her lovely son, Matisse. She is also the owner of Mintmouse, a new online boutique for mums and their babies in Luxembourg.
Luxmama: Tell us about yourself, where are you from?
Angelique (A): I come from a very international family spread all over Europe. My Hungarian Swiss father migrated to Belgium where he met and settled with my Belgian mum where I was born and raised with my brother. I guess that would make me Belgian-Hungarian-Swiss which always sounded exotic in Belgium, as I quickly learned nothing unfamiliar in Luxembourg! So let’s just say I am from Belgium…
Luxmama: Wow! But what made you come to Luxembourg?
A: As my father later moved to Poland for business I would often travel for weekends to spend quality time. One day on the flight back to Charleroi Airport I was immediately conquered by a charming man sitting next to me… Three years later I find myself living with him in Luxembourg where he moved for work reasons three months before meeting me on that plane. I fell in love with Luxembourg as our love story evolved here and the fond memories will always remain.
Luxmama: Was this your first baby?
A: Yes (smiling), Matisse is our first baby so he teaches us as much as we teach him.
Luxmama: Tell us about your birth preparation. What made you decide to try hypno-birthing?
A: When I came to Luxembourg I was already in my second semester and had so far been followed by a very gentle gynecologist and his midwife assistant in Belgium who were all for natural birth and also supported home births. The consultations were held in a homey atmosphere in a house and not in a hospital. The longest I have ever waited in the waiting room was thirty minutes. From what I know now, this was heaven!
So when I finally moved to Luxembourg and had a first appointment with a doctor at the Bohler Clinic, randomly picked from the list as I did not know any better, I was in shock. We waited two hours to be seen and were out after only five minutes because the doctor had to run for a delivery. From those few minutes, all I remember are these words: “I would suggest an epidural but if you want to scream and be in pain, be my guest.”
I felt that the idea of a natural birth that I’ve become used to was just not supported here and that scared me immensely.
After this horrible experience I immediately decided I would actually do some research first, before heading to another doctor. It was on Youtube where I saw hypno-birthing being practiced by different women giving birth in complete serenity. To my great surprise I quickly found a website in Luxembourg with hypno-birthing specialists. “Why not try it then?” I thought.
I called and poured out my heart explaining my situation and fears as everything was being so new to me. Cindy, the midwife and hypno-birthing trainer on the other end of the line immediately relaxed me and invited me to meet to talk about it. I was saved! Cindy then recommended a very nice gynecologist to me. I still had to wait long hours before each appointment and we never had much time to discuss lots of details besides the really important things. It seemed like the service I got used to in Belgium was a real exception. Nevertheless, I felt that my wishes would be respected with this doctor and he would only intervene if and when really necessary.
Luxmama: So you were very determined to have a natural birth.
A: Yes, I was determined to have a natural birth and would have done anything to achieve it!
I believe women are naturally created to have babies and didn’t see any reason to interfere with this beautiful process. I am a reasonable person and at the end, bringing a healthy baby into this world was most important to me. I never wanted to take unnecessary risks that could affect Matisse in any way.
Luxmama: Have you used any other hypnosis techniques before?
A: Before giving birth I have only remotely heard of hypnosis and never really explored it any further.
Luxmama: At what stage in your pregnancy did you start the hypnosis classes?
A: I started the classes around the end of my second trimester.
Luxmama: How many classes did you attend and how long were the classes?
A: We had five classes of two and a half hours each after which I felt confident I would do well and manage it on my own.
Luxmama: Did you receive material to do self-study at home and how regular did you practise this in your own time?
A: Yes, during the first class we received a book from Marie F. Mongan which we had to read as soon as possible. Throughout the classes I have used the book as a “manual” to fall back on for whenever I felt like I needed some reminders. With the book also comes a CD with 2 tracks to listen to with a soothing voice helping you to relax, gain confidence and visualize the birth that you are preparing for. I used to listen to the CD quite regularly in the evenings before going to bed and noticed that I was able to clear my mind and get into the “relaxation mode” a bit faster every time I would listen. This way, I conditioned my mind to relax and focus in a controlled way when I wanted to.
In the beginning it is indeed difficult to focus and I used to get very distracted by outside noise. After some practice I was able to completely disconnect from that, still being aware of what’s going on around me but remaining totally focused.
Luxmama: Did your husband also attend the classes and what was his experience or involvement in the process?
A: My husband attended each class and supported me all the way. He was very happy and proud that he could participate in our son’s birth. He often even tells people “we gave birth” instead of “my wife gave birth”!
His presence was crucially important because after the classes, he was the one to take over the role of the Hypno-Birthing specialist. He was the one that understood me, knew my wishes, and make sure the hospital staff would understand and support it too as they might not be familiar with Hypno-Birthing.
He was my rock and it would have never been the same without him…
Luxmama: Take us through the process of what a hypnosis class is like.
A: The beginning of every class usually dealt with any questions, fears or new symptoms we wanted to discuss and give an update on how the pregnancy and our exercises at home were progressing. Each class however was quite different and would cover specific subjects combined with a variety of visualization exercises.
Topics I can recall that we’ve discussed, are the physiology of late pregnancy and birth, the effect of mental state on muscle tone and the baby and the delivery process, to be ready to change a birth position at any time and that our bodies will tell us what the best position is when the time comes.
We were taught to see it as a normal and natural process, rather than trauma (the way it is often portrayed in general). Overall, the focus was most on relaxation techniques, cooperation between me and my husband and the important notion of expecting something wonderful.
Luxmama: Did you feel uncomfortable at all during the sessions and did you find it difficult at first to do the visualisations?
A: In the beginning it was definitely more difficult. It requires skill to distance your mind from your daily routine for a few hours each day and not to think of your to-do list for the rest of the week. It all came about with practice and I never felt uncomfortable.
Luxmama: I understand you gave birth at the Bohler clinic. What was the staff’s reaction to your Hypno-Birthing plans. Were they supportive?
A: The midwife on duty and following me that day was not familiar with HypnoBirthing and neither was she very supportive in the beginning. I had to be induced because my son was not in a hurry to come, even ten days after the due date. The midwife told me I should better take an epidural because after being induced it might be very painful. Luckily we had expressed our wishes beforehand to our gynecologist and he respected that, which was most important. He promised not to take any unnecessary action unless it was really needed.
So to start with I was given half a tablet of Oxitocin in the morning that would gently put things in motion. We were hoping that with only that little push my body would react and commence labor. After a whole day of contractions without much dilation, I was still given the choice to wait until latest the next morning before inducing with the drip (which is more aggressive and could make the baby come in the next few hours). The midwife told me the contractions I had that day would be nothing compared to what was coming and I should better take an epidural now that I still could!
That night I sat on my birthing ball and went into deep relaxation having contractions every 3 to 4 minutes. It is a natural reaction for the body to also contract the pelvic muscles during a contraction because of the tension. I used the visualization techniques I’d been taught to imagine my pelvis opening up like a flower and had to remind myself at every wave to relax those muscles in order for the baby to go down.
My husband was reading texts to me to help me with the visualization exercises. Then at three AM he fell asleep and stopped talking, I lost my focus for a moment and suddenly fell the contractions significantly more intensive. That made me realize how much HypnoBirthing was helping me
The next morning the midwife was very surprised to see that I was seven cm dilated and almost ready to “push”, so it worked! At that point I asked the midwife when I would reach that ‘unbearable’ pain she had earlier mentioned to me. Her answer was that now should be that moment…
Suddenly, her attitude started to change. She was very surprised at how calm I was talking with her and that I was even still smiling.
Soon thereafter, I went into the birthing bath and our son was born completely naturally. Our gynecologist was kept up to date throughout the whole process but only showed up in the last ten minutes to “catch the baby”. I loved giving birth in the water because it was soothing and felt completely natural to me but mostly because I then felt in control and not stuck on a table with my legs up (to provide easy access to the doctors) not knowing and seeing what is going on there. I liked the water to be not too hot and felt comfortable with just a third of the bath filled up. I was sitting upright for gravity to work with me.
The next day, the very impressed midwife personally came by to tell me she doesn’t witness births like mine every day. Later, we actually heard that she had switched her shift with a colleague to be able to attend my delivery. How flattering! I was so thankful that they had given me the time to do it my way just like I had requested without unnecessary intervention.
Luxmama: What tips can you give mamas-to-be wanting to try HypnoBirthing?
A: I would definitely do it all over again for the next baby and I am sure the skills will come back to me in no time, whenever I need it.
I would say to keep an open mind at all times and believe in yourself that you will manage just fine. Sometimes things may unfold differently than what you had imagined if there are complications at your delivery. HypnoBirthing can help you in any circumstances. It also helps you to stay in control of your mind and stay confident when doctors need to take control of your delivery process/body. You are the only one who can control your mindset and how you cope with accepting changes.
Don’t hope for a smooth delivery but prepare for one!
In our last article in the series, you will find your guide to birthing methods in Luxembourg.
More about Angelique:
For the last two years, Angelique has been enjoying life in Luxembourg with her little family and has just launched Mintmouse, an online boutique offering mummy and baby/kid’s items for parents who are looking for unique products not seen before in Luxembourg. She is always on the lookout for new challenges and believes that life is too short to do things you don’t like.
When entering the entrepreneurial world she has set up a group for Mumpreneurs in Luxembourg to meet and gather like-minded mums. The group has been a platform of support but also a source of joyful meetings and new friendships, where entrepreneurial and open-minded women can meet to exchange ideas, experience and customers.