AT 34 weeks' pregnant Erin Johnston lay in a birthing suite.
She was hooked up to monitors and routinely assessed by midwives and other specialists.
The Albury first-time mum-to-be might have lost her nerve or been overwhelmed by powerlessness; she had reason to imagine the worst except for the fact she was perfectly focused on the bigger picture.
Just two weeks earlier Erin and her partner Daniel Lancaster did a hypnobirthing antenatal class in Wodonga.
She used affirmations, visualisations, calming music and breathing techniques to hold her ground.
"There were heaps of people in my room because my baby was premie and I could just block them out," she said.
"I could focus on what I was doing and control my pain very well in a targeted way ... as a premie baby I especially didn't want him to come out doughy."
Willing to be guided by the professionals, Erin and Daniel still felt educated and empowered enough to be active decision-makers in each stage of the labour supported by their Albury private midwife Barbara Roberts.
Daniel had every confidence in Erin's innate ability to birth their baby and she in him to advocate for her.
"It was really the affirmations and the visualisations that gave me confidence in my natural instincts to birth my own baby in my own time without being pushed along," Erin said.
Albeit early Sonny Lancaster arrived in good time at Wodonga Hospital Maternity Unit weighing 2.3 kilograms.
PAEDIATRIC nurse Nonie Giblin was mourning the loss of her mum when she went into labour seven weeks ago.
She spent most of her early labour in the car with husband Sam on the way back to Albury from the funeral.
“Hypnobirthing really helped me as I laboured in the car,” she said.
“I practised for months leading up to the birth and once the recordings went on I could go into a state of relaxation.
“I wrote down all of the affirmations and had them pinned up around the house.”
Within 45 minutes of arriving at the Wodonga hospital, they met Margot, a beloved sister for Freddy, 2.
Sam caught his daughter, Nonie got her drug-free labour and a blissful hour of skin-to-skin contact with Margot.
“Sam said I was much calmer and in control compared to the first birth; we didn’t know for a while how far along I was because I was so much calmer,” Nonie said.
Nonie said she had a great birth, all things considered.
“Birth can be a massive emotional and physical hurdle. I wanted the least amount of intervention I could get away with and I wanted to use my own resources to manage; hypnobirthing empowered me to do that.”
HYPNOBIRTHING has become standard antenatal preparation in some UK hospitals. The Duchess of Cambridge reportedly learnt the light self-hypnosis technique that mums-to-be use in order to mentally program themselves to relax during childbirth.
While hypnobirthing instruction is widely available in metropolitan Australia, it is still relatively new to the Border.
Mother-of-two Sophie Lynch gave up a corporate career to launch Let’s Hypnobirth Baby in Albury-Wodonga in September.
Having used the techniques to birth Paddy, 4, in Sydney and Myles, eight months, in Wodonga, Ms Lynch felt compelled to train as a hypnobirthing practitioner.
She wanted to achieve a calm birth for her first-born and in doing so gained a positive and empowering experience for both herself and her husband, Aidan.
“For me it was the pinnacle of my life to date,” she said.
“The experience of birthing Paddy like that was something I never want to forget.”
Ms Lynch said her positive birthing experience had set her on the right track to navigate motherhood.
“I suffered some mild postnatal depression after the birth of Paddy,” she said.
“I had lots of issues establishing breastfeeding due to ongoing mastitis and through that difficult time I was always grateful for the wonderful birth experience we had; it set me up well to cope with the challenges of a new baby and my first experience of motherhood.”
Ms Lynch said her view of birth as a defining moment for women and their families only grew and she undertook Hypnobirthing Australia practitioner training when she became pregnant with Myles.
“I launched Let's Hypnobirth Baby the week after Myles was born; it must have been the Oxytocin high I was experiencing!” she quipped.
“It's been a juggle but my passion and belief that women deserve this option here drives me to work late in to the night, early in the mornings and to make myself really available to the couples that I work with.
“It’s not all about a vaginal birth without any drugs; it’s about calmly meeting whatever comes because we can’t control the birth process but we can prepare for it.”
BEECHWORTH-based Emma Matthews, another Hypnobirthing Australia practitioner, works with couples in the North East to prepare them for birth.
Mum to Layla, 4, and Niyah, 20 months, Ms Matthews founded Indigo Gentle Beginnings in September after she and husband Steve used hypnobirthing techniques with her second birth.
She has worked with nine couples to date, who have had great birthing experiences.
“All have gone on to have natural births but that’s not the main aim of hypnobirthing; it’s about being empowered in birth however it unfolds,” she said.
“Sometimes the word ‘hypnobirthing’ scares people off but the program really is for everybody; it empowers women by teaching them the physiological processes of birth through education.”
Hypnobirthing Australia director Melissa Spilsted designed the program to suit Australian mothers and their birth partners in Australian models of maternity care for both natural and caesarean birth.
“My dream is that all babies have the opportunity to enter this world in a beautiful, calm and positive environment,” she said.