||Saturday, 20 July, 2002, 23:18 GMT 00:18 UK
'Why I chose hypnobirthing'
Pia Goodman was terrified at the thought of giving birth, but she astonished midwives by having her first baby in just over three hours at home without any painkillers.
Ms Goodman admits she is a worrier and the thought of labour pains and the fears of what could go wrong were almost too much.
So when she was about 22 weeks pregnant she decided to try a pioneering new technique called hypnobirthing.
Hypnobirthing, which started in the States, uses self-hypnosis, relaxation, visualisation and breathing techniques to prepare the mother for birth.
And Ms Goodman, of Wilmslow, Cheshire, said it had worked fantastically during Imogen's birth.
"I am usually quite scared and I was petrified about going into labour.
"I am a worrier and I do get quite panicky about things like childbirth so I thought this might help me."
After taking the course Ms Goodman was so confident that she decided to try for a home birth.
"She was my first and I had her at home.
"I said that I had wanted a home birth, but I did not think I would be able to do it.
"But I went to see my midwife when I was 39 weeks and five days pregnant and said I definitely wanted a home birth.
"She panicked and said I hadn't given her much time, but my mum was my birthing partner and she and I were confident we could do it."
As well as the series of classes Ms Goodman was given textbooks and relaxation tapes and she practised them religiously in the months leading up to the birth.
So when the big day came five weeks ago she was able to put all the theory into practice.
"The midwives were so impressed I had my hypnobirthing tape on and I rocked on a birthing ball and I just breathed.
"I just breathed her out without drugs it was just great and I could not have wished for anything better.
"I think it is just fantastic and it really, really helped."
Hypnotherapist Sonya Wadsworth, of Oldham, said that Ms Goodman's experiences at her birth just five weeks ago were typical of the many positive responses she has had to the pioneering technique.
Since she started the hypnobirthing in the UK last November she has had 26 very happy mothers complete her course and have successful births, including one set of twins.
"It gives women the chance to have choices. We reframe everything for mothers in a positive way so that the mums gain the confidence to have a good birth.
"We use self-hypnosis so that they can do it themselves and so that by the time the birth comes round they are actually looking forward to it rather than dreading it."
But although the technique is ideal for enabling natural childbirth, it can also be adapted for women who know they are going to have complications.
One of Mrs Wadsworth's clients suffered from pre-eclampsia and needed a Caesarean section, but she was able to use the technique to make the experience as pleasant as possible.
"The mothers have the birth that is for them, we do not set them up to fail.
"And the babies born in this way are so much calmer because they have been born in such a calm way. They really are chilled babies.
"We have had women coming to us who are absolutely terrified at the thought of giving birth and they have gone on to have a perfectly natural birth with no drugs, not even paracetamol."
Mary Newburn, of the NCT, said natural birthing methods like hypnobirthing should be encouraged by the NHS as a means of cutting the growing Caesarean rates.
"We should be exploring ways of letting people get over fear.
"The birth process is very straightforward if you can get into the mindset.
"Compared with some other self-help hypnotherapy is quite a minority interest but in the cases of people I have heard who have used this there have been very positive reports."
Anyone wanting to find out more about hypnobirthing can ring 0161 620 8770.