I know a lot of women, who go over their estimated due date, start to feel pressured to give birth as soon as possible. They may be told baby will be getting too big and this could cause problems with delivery – and may hear the dreaded shoulder dystocia mentioned. I know for a lot of women, this is a big fear towards the end of their pregnancy.

If you’re pregnant and starting to worry that you’re carrying a ‘big’ baby, rest assured that midwives are highly trained in delivering babies whose shoulders become stuck after the birth of baby’s head. They are taught manoeuvres to release baby quickly and safely, and will do this immediately, without the need for specialist equipment.

Whenever ladies from my classes talk about shoulder dystocia in their birth stories, I’m always happy to hear how lightly they pass over this part of their labour, mentioning it as a normal part of the labour process, rather than the traumatic experience many people fear it might be, in advance of birth.

That was certainly the case for Eleanor, who states, “At a healthy 9lb 5oz, her shoulder got stuck on entry to the world, but the midwives moved me from my all fours position to help her out.”

Having had a traumatic birth experience with her first baby, Eleanor was naturally feeling anxious when she became pregnant with her second. I’m so glad she joined my pregnancy yoga classes and got to hear positive birth stories from the ladies from class. This led her to my hypnobirthing workshop for mums, which led to the decision to attend my full hypnobirthing course for couples, so her husband could benefit also.

When we go through a traumatic birth, it’s something that affects both parents. In such circumstances it can be a really good idea to do some birth preparation together. Learning why birth goes ‘wrong’ and how to practically make it ‘better’ can empower dads to jump back into the role of birth partner. Leaving them looking forward to labour and birth, when they might (privately) have been dreading it.

I’m very happy to report Eleanor’s husband felt ‘calm and empowered’ second time round, and because of this was a great source of support.

Eleanor’s Birth Story

Our daughter was born at the Birth Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, 4 hours after my waters broke – which signalled the start of labour – and less than an hour after arriving at hospital. It was a quick labour and in comparison to our first daughter’s birth 3 years earlier – a far calmer birth. 

When my waters broke they were not quite the ‘Hollywood film’ gush produced during my first daughter’s birth, so I wasn’t 100% certain they had broken. I therefore went back to bed and waited to see what my body would do next! I started having stomach cramps, that were suddenly very frequent (every few minutes) and quite intense. I at first dismissed them as trapped wind, caused by the iron tablets I had re-started taking.

Ignoring them, I showered ready for the day and started getting my daughter dressed. It was only when I instinctively dropped onto all fours and started doing yoga rocking through an intense ‘cramp’ that I realised it was likely to be a surge, and I should probably ring the labour ward to check! 

As the surges intensified, we got into the car to travel to the hospital and I put on my headphones and listened to Wah! ‘Bolo Ram’ on repeat for the entirety of the car journey and practised my ‘up breathing’. To remain calm, I forced my face into a smile as I looked at the blue sky and sunshine out of the window. 

On arrival at the hospital things suddenly changed. I felt the need to push and in hindsight realise that our arrival coincided with the transition period – which explained  why an element of panic crept in. We went straight into a birth centre room where I asked for help. I wanted a midwife to confirm that my need to push was correct and birth was imminent. The speed of labour meant I was suddenly in the second stage. 

I will admit that I didn’t quite master breathing our daughter out, I needed to push her out and utilised gas and air to help. On asking for help, the midwife helped me understand where on my body to focus my pushing. At a healthy 9lb 5oz, her shoulder got stuck on entry to the world, but the midwives moved me from my all fours position to help her out.

I had started yoga to keep active in pregnancy and to replace my weekly hour of ‘my time’ away from work & looking after our 3 year old. I hadn’t realised that hypnobirthing skills were integrated into class – including sharing birth stories. I don’t have a poker face so Donna will have clearly seen my reaction to the first few birth stories which made me re-live my daughter’s birth 3 years earlier – which should have been an easy birth but due to medical staff repeatedly not listening to me had become one of birthing in fear. 

I wanted a different birth this time so attended Donna’s Hypnobirthing workshop, and realised that for greatest impact my husband and I needed to attend the full course (which we did). The course gave us a better understanding of our first daughter’s birth and therefore what we could do differently this time. After our second daughter’s birth, it was great to hear my husband remark that he felt calm and empowered this time. 

The skills learnt were not only invaluable during labour & birth but also generally throughout pregnancy. I kept in a bubble of positivity, protecting myself from less positive birth stories and also from the news – not always easy in the current climate. And I utilised the ‘up breathing’ during periods of being unwell or discomfort in pregnancy.

I’m incredibly grateful for Donna’s support throughout the pregnancy; and for the hypnobirthing skills that enabled us to achieve a calmer birth for our daughter.