As promised in my recent blog post on hypnobirthing I used a piece of equipment called an Epi no ( Episiotomy NO!) in the third trimester of my pregnancy (from 37 weeks to be exact) to prepare me for a natural childbirth.
This is not a very well known product, in fact my midwives had not heard of it before. I had been recommended it by a family friend who swore by it. She had been induced and had a very fast birth with a big baby and had no tears and had not needed an episiotomy.
Kerry also used this product but was not able to say if it helped her ‘downstairs’ as she ended up having a section (see her birth story here). Kerry did feel using this and training with it helped her mentally though.
So I researched their website and read a few blogs on women who had used it and watched some YouTube videos on the epi no. I was sold!
I was never very good at doing the kegal exercises the midwives told me I should be doing throughout my pregnancy and I couldn’t see myself doing pereneal massage. So having a tool do it for you seemed like a good option for me personally. Plus spending £99.99 on it would surely force me to use it!
I looked at labour as a marathon (you would train for a marathon so I looked at labour in the same way). I trained myself to relax, be positive and breath with my hypnobirthing and this was a tool to help me physically. It turned out, it helped me mentally too as the training made me believe in myself (See my birth story here).
Basically from week 37 I used this daily. I also listened to my hypnobirthing track (HERE) while using this.
You insert the deflated balloon, like you would a tampon. I bought a water based lubricant for this ( I ordered it online as was too embarrassed to buy it in a shop, such a prude!). Once inserted you then take the hand pump and pump the balloon until it feels slightly uncomfortable (you cannot tell what size the balloon is while you are doing this, you go off what is your edge of comfort and discomfort personally). You then keep this inserted for 10 minutes or so. By listening to my track while having the balloon inserted I soon forgot it was even there (again like a tampon/ you know it’s there but you don’t feel it).
Then comes the part where you expelled the balloon. Again I used my breathing and visualisations I had learnt in my hypnobirthing books and classes. This is uncomfortable and the first few times I felt tense. I found that if my jaw was relaxed and I focused on my breathing it helped relax everything downstairs.
When pushing out the balloon I was able to feel the sensation of the balloon going out and back in slightly and out again (this meant when I was birthing Sam and his head went in and out I was not put off or disheartened that I was not progressing as I knew what this felt like).
Once the balloon is expelled you then measure the size of the balloon against the chart you receive in the kit. This shows how many centimetres dilated you were and trains your body to stretch each time you use the epi no.
I remember feeling disheartened on some occasions as I had the balloon blown up and was struggling to expel it and I let out some air on the valve before pushing it out. I would then kick myself for not persevering, especially if it was measuring under my personal best. (I became a bit obsessed by how many cm I got to each day!). My personal best was 7.5cm, the balloon had been bigger inside but I had only ever expelled the balloon at 7.5cm before having Sam.
Obviously the birth experience is slightly different but I did feel more confident in myself and my body. I knew that I could get to 7.5cm so hoped with the help of the contractions my body could get to 10cm and I could mange the expelling of my babies head. I knew it was all natural and my body was built to birth but by doing this training I felt much more confident.
The good thing about this was that I could try different positions too in the comfort of my own home. I did tend to do this in the morning when my husband had left for work and I knew I wasn’t expecting any visitors. You need to have about half an hour and be feeling relaxed to do this. It was a bit of a chore to do this each day but it was so worth it for me personally anyway as I feel it played an integral part of my smooth birth and the fact I did not have any tears or an episiotomy with my 8lb 11 oz baby boy.
Post birth the epi no can also be used to do kegal exercises to help tighten everything down there too. For this you again insert the balloon but this time tighten and tense your muscles and use the gauge on the pump to see where the needle sits. You the. Hold your muscles to keep the needle in that position for the count of ten. You do this ten times and can do this for days/weeks/months as you desire.
Trust me though with a newborn in tow getting the time for this isn’t easy and it is no longer a priority but it does work if you make the time, plus it helps justify the price tag!