We had been told by the medical professionals that it was unlikely we’d ever have children without costly procedures, so when I began feeling fatigued and nauseated I blamed it on my current work schedule that had me flying back and forth between New Hampshire and Chicago. After weeks of feeling ill, my husband practically dragged me to the doctor and we both gasped at the results: we were expecting our first child.
For so many years our focus had been on getting pregnant, that I hadn’t even considered how or where I would have the baby. Our primary care physician suggested that we see the group of obstetricians at the local hospital. My husband took the day off work and we went to our first appointment with high hopes. I was already far enough along to be able to hear the baby’s heart beat. When we arrived, the nurse insisted that my husband remain in the waiting room during the examination. The doctor conducted a very clinical examination and seemed irritated by my questions. Before the doctor started to listen for the heart beat, I reminded him that my husband was waiting and would like to be present to hear the heart beat. The doctor responded that my husband would be able to hear it another time and proceeded without my husband.
Furious, I cancelled all future appointments that afternoon and made a few phone calls. My friend had recently delivered her baby and recommended her midwife. Lucy White, a certified nurse midwife, had recently opened a practice with an obstetrician in the neighboring town. The first time we met Lucy, we knew we had found the right person to deliver our baby. She welcomed my husband at every appointment and answered our questions in a thorough and genuinely concerned manner.
It was during an appointment with Lucy’s partner, Dr. Segel that we first heard about HypnoBirthing. He asked us if we had thought about pain control methods during labor. I hadn’t even thought about it. He told us about several patients who had recently delivered using the HypnoBirthing method and the wonderful experiences they had. My first reaction was disbelief. I associated hypnotism with the comedy shows I occasionally attended in college. It was certainly not anything I was interested in. I prefer to be in full control of my body at all times.
I went home that afternoon with the book HypnoBirthing by Marie Mongan—and out of simple curiosity began reading it on a business trip. Her belief that a woman’s body was created to give birth and that birth was a natural event was something I already agreed with. I learned that HypnoBirthing uses self-hypnosis techniques that allow the woman to relax her body and let the muscles work naturally without tension caused by fear. While in this relaxed state, the woman is not in a trance or under the influence of anyone else. She is aware of her surroundings and in control of her body.
I finished the book before I returned home and convinced my husband to enroll in the classes. Initially, he thought I was ridiculous and made jokes about witches, crystals and magic potions. My sister-in-law accused me of wearing Birkenstocks and eating granola. I simply wanted to have the best birthing situation possible and I didn’t mind avoiding the epidural—like I said, I prefer to be in full control of my body at all times.
My husband and I took the classes offered at our midwife’s clinic from Deb, a local doula and licensed HypnoBirthing instructor. We learned several techniques for relaxation, including my favorite—the light touch massage. We practiced the techniques each night. I would almost always fall asleep before we finished and experienced very restful nights even at the end of my pregnancy. I was ready and I was looking forward to labor and the delivery of our first child.
My water broke at four a.m. on the day before my due date. After a check-up later that morning confirmed that my water had broken and I was in labor, I returned home. I was quite comfortable in my bed but as my contractions were consistently two minutes apart my husband insisted that we go to the hospital. I remember being very aware of every detail as I prepared to leave my home and I insisted that my husband didn’t need to drive so fast.
I was dilated to an eight when we arrived at the hospital. There were moments, as the nurses were trying to slow my labor so that my midwife could arrive, that I struggled to stay calm. My husband was a wonderful birthing partner and helped me return to a peaceful state. My midwife arrived and I gave birth to our beautiful son who weighed in at nine pounds six ounces.
We moved to Utah in 2002. I delivered my daughter the next spring at the University of Utah Hospital. The certified nurse midwives at the Madsen Health Clinic were wonderful and anxious to participate in a HypnoBirthing delivery. Since then, I have delivered two more babies using the HypnoBirthing method. In the subsequent deliveries, my husband and I have been able to control the birthing situations better and have had positively wonderful experiences.
The idea of HypnoBirthing, or relaxation of body and mind, has been around for centuries. In the 1920’s, Dr. Grantly Dick-Read pushed the idea of natural childbirth forward but was largely ignored. Years later, Marie F. Mongan would develop a unique method using self-hypnosis techniques during labor and delivery. There are now hundreds of trained HypnoBirthing instructors around the world.
The HypnoBirthing courses teach a woman to rid her mind of the fear of childbirth. When fear is removed, the body and mind are able to relax to a state where a woman can control how she feels the surges and the progress of the baby. During labor with my first son, I used deep relaxation techniques and felt very little discomfort. With my later deliveries, I remained relaxed and able to control the level of discomfort but turned my focus completely to my body and the baby inside. It was during these deliveries that I became a true believer in natural child birth. It is difficult to describe the sensation as anything less than powerful and exhilarating.
Besides the obvious value of avoiding drugs, there are additional benefits to natural child birth. Being able to walk around can hasten labor. It also allows a woman to get into better birthing positions. During labor with my second baby, I was able to get on my hands and knees and using a pelvis rocking method, rotate my baby from a posterior to an anterior position. For those who are concerned about the expenses of childbirth, delivering naturally can save money. The charges for the epidural and anesthesiologist are eliminated.
HypnoBirthing requires a quiet birthing room. This also allows for a spiritual atmosphere where a husband and wife can connect and experience the birth of their new child without the noise of outside interference. Hospital staff, who are familiar with HypnoBirthing, will be happy to accommodate a woman’s requests for a quiet birthing room.
When considering a HypnoBirth delivery, I definitely suggest taking classes from a trained instructor. Success rates are much higher with women who have taken the courses than with those who have simply read the book or tried it on their own. These classes are comprehensive and can take the place of other birthing classes. Some insurance companies will even pay or reimburse the tuition for the course. Success is also higher for those who practice regularly before delivery.
It is also very helpful, possibly necessary, to have a supportive birth partner. The birth partner should attend the classes and be willing to practice. Before the delivery it is important to have a discussion regarding the woman’s ideal birthing experience and plan with the care provider and the birth partner. They will serve as the woman’s advocates in the delivery room.
I recommend reading HypnoBirthing by Marie F. Mongan. It is a great resource and guide. The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer and The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin are additional resources of great value to the woman considering a HypnoBirth natural delivery.
Open your minds to a truly incredible experience—learn more about HypnoBirthing.