I am the kind of person that may try almost anything once just see what its about. I was experiencing some complex spinal issues during my pregnancy, so I was already more worried than the average person about the possibility I would need to get an epidural to cope with the pain during delivery. We thought about hypnobirthing with the plan in mind that this was supposed to be some kind of magic trick for me to not have to need to get an epidural. Needless to say, Mike Tyson puts it so nicely when he said, “Everybody’s got plans until they get hit.”
Upon my midwife’s recommendation, I met with the anesthesiologist who performed the epidurals in the hospital months prior to my upcoming childbirth to discuss my my particular health situation. I expressed my concerns about getting an epidural and wanted to know his thoughts. He was a European man with a strong accent and pretty laid back about giving epidurals to anyone who requested one, and told me that it would be very difficult for me to cope with the pain of childbirth without getting an epidural. He said if I was that serious about not getting an epidural, I should take a hypnobirthing class.
“Hypnobirthing?” I asked him. “What is that supposed to do?” He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Well you don’t want an epidural so that’s the next best thing I can tell you to do to help you with the pain when you have your baby. You will definitely need some sort of way of dealing with it.”
I left his office a bit freaked out, thinking about all this pain I would have to prepare for in childbirth that seemed like it would be a near impossible thing to do without getting drugs.
Although a bit skeptical about the idea of doing hypnobirthing, later that evening, in pre-natal yoga I randomly overheard another pregnant woman raving about how great taking a hypnobirthing class was.
I guess it was meant to be. Four months into the pregnancy, we signed up for a hypnobirthing class. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.
The first time we went, we and four other couples looking just as lost as us, curiously walked into the lower level of this woman’s home, took our shoes off, and sat in a dimly lit room with pillows on the floor.
We were then taught about the basics of hypnobirthing and learned a new type of way of using words differently and thinking of the meaning of words differently through the language of hypnobirthing. In hypnobirthing, the philosophy is you aren’t supposed to use the word “pain”, so we were supposed to instead think of the word “pressure” versus pain every time we would have normally used or spoke the word “pain” and ask others to not use the word pain around us before or during childbirth. And instead of saying the word “contraction” we were supposed to think of it with a different, more positive connotation of instead using and thinking of the phrase “having a uterine surge”. Instead of “pushing” the baby out during childbirth we were supposed to be thinking and phrasing it as “breathing the baby down.”
At first it all seemed hard to believe this could ever work, but we decided to keep an open mind.
We met weekly in the same place for a couple of months with the other couples. We did different breathing and relaxation exercises to became more in tuned with listening to the baby’s cues to be prepared for when it was time for her arrival.
The hypnobirthing leader talked to us about the importance of eating healthy and drinking good water and instructed us to read the Hypnobirthing book. She also asked us to write and talk about a “birth-plan” – everything we wanted and planned our childbirth to be and guided us to share and discuss our birth-plan with all of our healthcare providers as well as to bring copies to the hospital we were planning on having the baby in and ask to have a tour of the facility in advance and share our birth plan in advance with the staff there. The more we attended hypnobirthing classes, the more empowered and excited we were about the upcoming birth of our baby.
We watched videos of all different types of births, some in the water, some at home, some at birthing centers. It was fascinating to see through other’s experiences how giving birth to a baby could ultimately be viewed as a positive, thrilling experience.
My husband and I were able to laugh with one another during these classes, we also were developing an interesting relationship with the baby before she was even born while she was still inside of me. We listened to a hypnobirthing relaxation CD every night as we went to sleep.
We became dedicated hypnobirthing soon-to-be parents. However, most of our family members thought what we were learning in hypnobirthing couldn’t possibly change the “pain” of childbirth. They thought there was no way hypnobirthing could ever minimize the “pain” of childbirth. We were taught by the hypnobirthing teacher that there would be naysayers and it was our job to request when someone spoke with us that no stories were to be shared with us about any “painful” birthing experience. It was not really easy because every time we told someone not to tell us about how “painful” “labor” was or “contractions”, they thought it was a big joke and said I couldn’t possibly know what I was about to be “in for” is how they put it.
Despite everyone else’s skepticism, we as a couple, remained strong on our new hypnobirthing philosophies.
When I actually had my baby, my midwife told me afterwards she was amazed at how I seemed to be in a calm, trance-like state the whole time. She said with all the births she had been part of, she never saw anything like that before, and asked me what I attributed it to. I told her having my relaxation hypnobirthing CD play the whole time next to the bed while I was in the hospital, I believed somehow helped. I told her I had been listening to that same CD every night before I went to bed for the past month.
From my perspective, my childbirth was very different than how my midwife saw it. I definitely did not feel like I was in a calm, trance-like state, I’ll put it that way. To sum up my child birthing experience, I will revisit the quote by Mike Tyson of: “Everybody’s got plans until they get hit.”
But, did I get a beautiful baby at the end of it all? Yes!
Did it feel great to get that compliment from my midwife after my baby was born? Of course it did and I do attribute any bit of observed calmness from me from when I had my baby to how hypnobirthing helped and positively influenced my childbirth.
Was hypnobirthing some sort of magic trick that made everything a blissful floating-on-a-cloud feeling when I had my baby? Absolutely not.
Do I regret taking hypnobirthing? No, I don’t regret taking hypnobirthing! I would do it again 10 times over in a heartbeat and wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything else in the world! Hypnobirthing helped us grow together as a couple into the new roles we have now as new parents as well as helped me during my birthing experience. I would highly recommend hypnobirthing to any pregnant soon-to-be mom regardless of whether or not they are planning on getting an epidural.
Please see HYPNOBIRTHING. DOES IT REALLY WORK? (PART 2) for what actually happened at my birth.