Hypno-birthing, the latest self-help modality that I dove right into knowing that I wasn’t as physically prepared as before to birth naturally as I had been in the past. I read up on it thinking that if my mind was prepared, the body would follow. And that’s exactly what happened. However, the painlessness and some of the techniques that minimize the pain of childbirth didn’t come to pass as I expected. The pain came with a very valuable & quite possibly life-saving price: Intuition.
Since beginning this journey to a natural, holistic lifestyle several years ago, becoming more aware and relying on my intuition has been no secret or newfound “ah ha” moment. However, I can say that the level of intuitiveness increased dramatically. So what is hypnobirthing?
What is HypnoBirthing® you ask? HypnoBirthing® is a tried and proven method that guides and prepares a woman in giving birth in a peaceful and extraordinarily beautiful manner. It is a program a that considers the psychological, as well as the physical, well-being of the mother, her birth partner, and the newborn, independent of context, whether that be in the quiet of a home, a hospital, or a birth center.
It’s no secret that the yelling, screaming and the “trauma” of birth is seen as something women should fear going through. Some women opt for, ahead of time, medical intervention without realizing what a woman’s body is really capable of. And for those of us who choose the natural way – letting our bodies endure the pain, well, we’re just ‘strong women’…with a little cray cray in us, right?.
Not entirely true (yes, some of us are a bit cray cray… that’s another post), but ultimately, we just want the best for our babies, bodies, and minds. Doing it “naturally” isn’t proving our strength or endurance levels, it’s really just doing it because it’s really the best for the mother and baby. Do you realize that women experience PTSD symptoms from births that have had medical interventions and/or the emotional trauma and negativity on their ability to birth?
A medical study of 500 women that evaluated the effects of obstetric intervention concluded that in a first childbirth experience such interventions have psychological risks “rendering those who experience these procedures vulnerable to a grief reaction or to post-traumatic distress and depression.”(8) While the PTSD rate varied from study to study, in this case up to 5.6% of women were found to have PTSD.(9)
Several other studies found that when mothers felt that they had no control over the birth experience and their partners and staff were not supportive, the risk of PTSD increased.(10) These studies mesh with the statements of the women I interviewed in that they identified unwanted procedures and interventions as one of the primary causes of their PTSD reactions.
So, did this method help me? YES.
According to the hypnobirthing site: us.hypnobirthing.com I was expecting this outcome:
Through a very simple program of self-hypnosis and education, healthy, low-risk women, as well as women who need medical assistance because of special circumstances, learn to dismiss fear-based stories, misinformation, and birthing myths; and they are helped to see birth as normal. They learn to trust that their bodies know how to bring their babies into the world in the calm and gentle way that Nature intended.
I listened to hours of audio, learning the art of immediate relaxation throughout my whole body. I learned specific breathing techniques to use during a “surge” or contraction. I mediated and released fears of “I can’t, it will hurt, my body isn’t ready, and any other thoughts of a negative outcome for my birth.”. I did all the practice breathing and relaxation practices of hypnobirthing except one: Creating Anesthesia for Birthing.
This lead to my pain and the very intuitive moments of when to birth…sooner rather than later.
I really don’t know why I never got around to doing that particular audio. I had plenty of time. I purchased the online home study course around 35 weeks. Our baby girl graced us at 41 weeks. But for some reason, I didn’t do it. I’m thankful I didn’t. It’s a powerful hypnobirthing technique. As a matter of fact, the brain’s capability to put a part of the body into a numbing state has been proven through actual surgery on people who are in a Hypno-anesthetic state. Using only their minds for pain-numbing relief(1).
The hypnobirthing practices worked amazingly well during the first 5-6 hours of labor. My husband commented that I have never looked so relaxed and controlled during my surges. AS a matter of fact, I do believe the word beautiful even snuck in there. 🙂
As I felt my body move into the transition portion of birth, my relaxation breathing came shorter and less relaxed. My husband noticed my cues, my breathing wasn’t as regular – I was tensing up. So he used his words of relaxation and affirmations to help me through it. It wasn’t pain-free, but his voice, his love, and the cues helped ease me into and out of the surges. He didn’t have to use counter pressure on my back like the previous births – only after the transition did I ask he apply pressure.
After 6 hours of labor…then, I asked for counter-pressure. Talk about the husband’s relaxed state to help you and not feel weary after hours of rubbing your back raw!!
Breathe Your Baby Down…
Well, that didn’t happen. Unbeknownst to us, our baby was a bit stuck in a single position. I noticed how inactive she was during the labor. Every birth experience has been unique, however, what has been a constant between them all, is the activity of the baby. The baby being actively engaged in the labor and delivery just as much as the mother. In this case, she wasn’t as active (nearly immobile) and in the processes of relaxation and breathing, this hypnobirthing technique allowed me to focus completely inward, on my baby.
This newfound intuition seems to have activated a primal instinct that indicated not all was right. My transition stage quickly escalated to stronger and intentional surges, urging the baby into the birth canal. There went my relaxation – breathing the baby down! From this point on, my surges were just 90-120 seconds apart and exceedingly strong…and painful. But that pain was quickly replaced with the urge to push my baby down and into my arms. Each surge that I thought I couldn’t handle (due to the pain) was quickly replaced with the instinctual act to birth quickly and bring my baby to me.
I won’t get into the details, but let me tell you this: due to the baby’s position, my cervix did not fully efface. I’ve had this condition before when I gave birth (for the last time – prayerfully) to baby #4 and I was on my back for hours laboring in the hospital. The midwife saw that the cervix had actually been pinched and then swelled due to the pressure of the baby in the one position for so long (and we wonder why birthing on our backs is complicated!).
Instead of feeling my baby’s head crowning, I felt a sizable, swollen lip blocking her grand entrance and into my awaiting hands. The instinctual and very intentional need to birth her quickly was overwhelming. No amount of pain stops a mother from protecting her young. The strength didn’t come from willpower or endurance. No, the need came from my body’s response to protect my child; thus the rush of much-needed hormones flooded my bloodstream – intense surges, pain-numbing oxytocin, and love. I held back that cervical lip to allow the passage of my baby.
After our baby girl was born after 1/2 a dozen strong and directed surges, her restraint was evident. The umbilical cord had wrapped itself twice around her neck – limiting any activity to move within my womb with the surges that had been gently hugging her into the world.
If I had not practiced the hypnobirthing method, I don’t know how relaxed and in-tuned to my baby I would’ve been to birth her sooner rather than later.
The wrapped cord had delayed her first breaths and gave us a bit of a scare. The amazing work of the placenta though was our back up until she started breathing on her own a few minutes later. Blood, oxygen-rich blood and nourishment continued to pump from me to the baby until the placenta detached from my body. After she was breathing on her own, the detachment from mother to baby completed its course and purpose; the cord was done with its perfect transfusion. Her chunky-red face, flushed with oxygen-rich air scrunched in a cry as we completed the process and cut the cord.
Hypno-birthing brought me the ability to relax completely and intentionally focus on my baby, allowing my body to do what it does best…birth with a purpose.
Yes, I had pain. I probably always will (if we have more). I watched countless videos of these beautiful births of what seemed like an effortless entrance into the world, birth. The women were so serene, calm and next thing you knew, they held a baby in their arms. That may never be me, but I know I can work with my body, allow my body, and love my body through the birthing process, I don’t have to fight against the surges. The relaxation alone is powerful enough to keep you calm and focused for any disruption that may occur.
Books I recommend reading if you fear your body’s ability to birth in a calm and even pleasurable way:
What are your first birthing instincts? Share a story below! 🙂
Hypnobirthing Institute – HypnoBirthing
(8) Fisher, J., J. Astbury and A. Smith. 1997. Adverse psychological impact of operative obstetric interventions: a prospective longitudinal study. Aust N Z J Psychiatry 31(5): 728–38.
(9)Creedy, D.K., I.M. Shochet and J. Horsfall. 2000. Childbirth and the development of acute trauma symptoms: incidence and contributing factors. Birth 27(2): 104–11.
(10)See note 9 above; Czarnocka, J., and P. Slade. 2000. Prevalence and predictors of post-traumatic stress symptoms following childbirth. Br J Clin Psychol 39(Pt 1): 35–51.