Over the weekend Andrew and I had a date day out with a difference… we attended a local hypnobirthing class. Since we first discovered we were pregnant, our dates have slowly evolved from smooth, cocktail sipping late nights out, to cuddly movie nights in surrounded by popcorn, bags of sweets and lots of fizzy pop! And more recently, we’ve traded swanky bars and mellow jazz for village halls and antenatal workshops.
Now, classing a hypnobirthing workshop as a ‘date’ may appear a little strange, but we found the class gave us time together, away from the house and the everyday; time to communicate and connect; time to experience and be open to something new, together. Now if that isn’t the basis of a perfect date, I don’t know what is. Here’s how we got on, and how hypnobirthing has brought a little more intimacy back into our marriage as we embark on the final stretch towards our new lives together…
I’d been interested in hypnobirthing since very early on in our pregnancy. I have always been terrified by the idea of birth and now I was pregnant, the inevitable fate of what I have to do evoked all kinds of anxiety within me. I needed a way to take control and ease my mind of fears and worries surrounding the birth… and so I discovered hypnobirthing.
The basic theory of hypnobirthing is to recondition the mind to replace any negative associations that we may have about labour and birth (those which we glean through the media and anecdotal horror stories for instance), with ones of positivity. The more afraid we are of birth, the more tense we will be, which will naturally hinder the birthing process, thus resulting in a vicious cycle of pain and fear. Makes sense, right?
Our class, in a nutshell…
We attended a local, one day intensive course, run by the wonderful Caroline at The Bump Business. Setting off with an open mind, and not really certain how much we would both get from the session, Andrew and I headed out to a cosy little village just outside of town where the class was to being held.
In a nutshell, the class was amazing. Delivered with a great mix of theory, practical group activities and three rounds of relaxing hypnosis, the day seemed to fly by.
Hypnobirthing and Marital Intimacy
There are many benefits to practising hypnobirthing – the obvious being providing you and your birth partner with a sense of calm and control about your upcoming birth. But another, perhaps more powerful benefit, particularly for Andrew and I, was the intimate connection that it can bring to you and your partner…
1 – communication & collective planning
The class gave us an open forum where we could intimately communicate our hopes and fears for this momentous event in our lives. It allowed us the time and platform to plan our birth experience together (as much as it can be ‘planned’ anyway).
Something that is very important to me is that our experience is a collective one: that Andrew gets as much out of the birth of our child as I do; that he has a vital role to play in bringing our daughter into the world. So it makes perfect sense to weigh up various options and come to decisions together about how we would (ideally) like the experience to unfold…
2 – relaxing together
The three hypnosis sessions which were scattered throughout the day gave us a chance to completely relax together; not dissimilar to how a mutual spa day might make you feel! Although this time his hand was draped loosely on my belly, feeling our little pudding enjoying some form of interpretive dance in response to all this welcome relaxation!
Having been attending pregnancy yoga for a few months now, I found it relatively easy to slip into deep relaxation. When I came out of it and Andrew’s was the first face I saw, beaming back at me, I felt even more connected to him. Happy to be sharing this level of relaxation with him, and excited for us both for the prospect of a happy, calm birth. Genuinely the same endorphin rush I’ve experienced laying side by side on the water beds at our favourite spa!
3 -physical touch & emotional bonding
During the class, there were a number of practical relaxation techniques that we were encouraged to adopt at various stages throughout the labour. These included a simple guided relaxation script, read to me by Andrew and accompanied by light touch massage; and a breathing exercise whereby I lay between his legs with his hands on my belly as we matched each others relaxed breathing.
Despite catching a case of the giggles in the latter exercise, I found both techniques really brought us closer together, both physically and mentally. Cradled in Andrew’s arms, following the strong, reassuring rise and fall of his body with my own, I felt safe. I felt loved. I felt connected.
So a village hall complete with 2 other couples may not seem like the most romantic setting in the world, but in that moment (post giggle fit) I found the intimacy that has in all honesty been lacking over the past couple of months in our marriage, returned with full force. We’re in this together. We’re here for each other.
Whether what we learned on our course will help when D-Day finally comes around, only time will tell. But even if it all flies out of the window, I am truly grateful to have had a unique opportunity to connect with my husband at a time when we are both feeling equally anxious and excited. (Plus we had a fair bit of fun and laughs along the ways too!) Who would have thought an antenatal workshop would offer that?!
So there you have it – how do you increase intimacy during pregnancy? Well you don’t necessarily need to attend a hypnobirthing course (although I would highly recommend one), but consciously take the time to communicate with each other about how you would like your birth to go, what hopes and fears you have, how you may be able to realise and overcome them together.
I would absolutely recommend some of the massage techniques as they’re a great way to both relax you, and bring that much needed physical touch back into your relationship (if you have completely been turned off the obvious by this stage!)
How did you maintain intimacy during pregnancy? Did you go on any ‘unusual’ dates that brought the focus back to you? Have any of you tried hypnobirthing and found it had a similar affect on your marital intimacy? I’d love to know – join me on Twitter @LoveinMindBlog or comment below.