Ever since my first pregnancy, I’ve been passionate about natural childbirth. But before my childbearing years began, I was afraid of birth. Discovering natural birth, homebirth, and midwifery was the turning point for me, where I found that birth was something I could see myself doing without fear. Then, I discovered Hypnobabies, and birth became something I was actually excited about.
Hypnobabies is a pregnancy and childbirth education program which teaches medical-grade hypnosis techniques which allow moms to experience easier and more comfortable births. Sidenote: Hypnosis, I’ve discovered, can be a “red flag” word for a lot of people; some might think it’s weird, or a hoax, or against their spiritual beliefs. I want to say, for the record, that childbirth hypnosis doesn’t involve any strange behaviors. It’s a state of consciousness that is measurable in terms of brain activity. And, it doesn’t conflict with religious or spiritual beliefs in any way–there’s no “past-life regression” or things like that involved. In fact, as a Christian I find that childbirth hypnosis and my faith in Jesus are strongly connected, and I incorporate my faith deeply into my hypnosis techniques.
The reason I am passionate about childbirth hypnosis is that it is a completely natural tool which allows women to birth in comfort. A simple way to avoid pain during birth, without the use of any drugs or interventions? Yes, please! (I have to be clear here, that not all moms using Hypnobabies will experience a completely pain-free birth. But, with proper practice and use of Hypnobabies tools, Hypno-moms are able to have much more comfortable and easier births.)
Because of what I’ve learned, I believe that birth is a beautiful and sacred part of life, something to be excited about rather than be feared or avoided. I know from my own experience that birth can be much more comfortable than what we typically see on TV and hear from our friends and family. But I’ve still struggled with using the word “easy” in relation to pregnancy and birth. The reality for me is that pregnancy has not been easy or very comfortable, and birth, while not painful, is still not easy. In my journey to becoming a Hypnobabies Instructor, and my journey preparing for my own baby’s birth again, I’ve had to grapple with the word “easy.” The concept of an easier and more comfortable birth is very important in Hypnobabies!
What I’ve learned is that while births using Hypnobabies can and should be easy and comfortable, not all of them are. This can happen for a few different reasons. The good news is that they’re all preventable!
My first birth was challenging, in that it was long, there was a lot of progression and regression, and there were points at which I would truthfully have to admit I had some pain. (I describe my first birthing as 90% pain-free). Ultimately, my planned homebirth turned into a hospital birth, which to me signifies that it was definitely not the “easy” birth I had in mind. But in learning even more about childbirth and hypnosis since then, I’ve discovered several key reasons why this was my experience, and how I can change that for my upcoming birth.
#1. For most women, Hypnobabies will be effective only if they practice and use their hypnosis techniques properly. While I practiced diligently during my pregnancy, I didn’t apply my techniques as well as I could have. In a way, I was overly confident about how easy and comfortable birth would be, to the point that I didn’t use my hypnosis techniques enough! I’ve since learned that when birthing begins, even if it turns out to be “practice” and not true birthing time, Hypno-moms should begin using their techniques right away, and use them continuously. It’s important to really get in the zone for birth, especially when using hypnosis. Waiting until things get more intense is not advised; at that point, some women might struggle to get deeply enough into hypnosis for it to be as effective. Starting early allows Hypno-moms to flow deeper and deeper as birthing progresses.
#2. It is also important to understand choices in pregnancy and birth, and to make informed choices rather than allowing medical care providers to make those choices for you. In my case, I did my research and made my plans for all things birth-related, and yet when it came time for putting them into action, I allowed many interventions that I didn’t really want. As a prime example, I had numerous cervical checks, which I had originally planned on limiting to only one or two. These checks placed the focus on a number, which doesn’t actually determine when a woman will give birth. Ultimately, this number was the reason my midwife advised me to go to the hospital, a decision I now believe was unnecessary.
#3. Lastly, it is vital to pay attention to mom’s emotional state during birthing; she needs to feel safe, supported, and calm for birth to progress as smoothly as possible. My emotional state was very excited during my first birthing. I was so confident about how easy and comfortable I would be that I turned it into almost a party. I invited way too many people to attend my birth, and overlooked the importance of getting in the zone, mentally. I didn’t think enough about what I needed. I allowed people to participate in my birth who did not fully understand or support my use of hypnosis. Looking back, I can see that my birth progressed powerfully when I was alone with my husband at night with everything calm, and then regressed dramatically when people arrived and I stopped focusing on using my hypnosis.
I have learned a lot from my experiences and my training as a birth educator since then, and I hope that my readers can too! As I approach my birthing time in the next several weeks or so, I do so with the mindset that my birthing will be easy and comfortable this time around. I know now that these factors are so important, and I’m getting extra support for myself this time by working with a birth doula. Even though I have an amazing husband as my birth partner, I now understand the tremendous benefit of also having the dedicated, experienced, and focused support of a doula. I think it will make a big difference for me!
But the most important thing I’ve learned is this: “easy” doesn’t mean that birth should be approached casually, or that it will always go exactly as planned without any effort on the part of the birthing mom and her team. “Easy” means that with the right approach, with focus and hypnosis and faith and wisdom, birth can be a simpler and smoother process. “Easy” means that birth can happen naturally, at home or in the hospital, without pain, complications, interventions, or drama. Birth can be something enjoyable, special, and empowering. That’s what “easy” means to me now. And I personally can’t wait for my easy, comfortable birthing of my precious baby girl!