Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Hypnobirthing

Affirmations like this made me feel powerful during labor.


*I was not compensated for this post.  This is a product that I love, have purchased, and wanted to share with my readers.

In my Homebirth Story post I mentioned that when I was looking for a way to manage my pain, during labor, I stumbled upon The Calm Birth School Hypnobirthing classes.  I had always been interested in hypnobirthing but since there weren't any hypnobirthing classes in my area that I knew of, I didn't look into that method when I was pregnant with Ethan.  When I was pregnant with Alice, since I already had a toddler at home, going to a class once a week was out of the question, so online classes were the perfect solution.  The Calm Birth School is based out of the UK and is ran by Holly and Suzy.  I'm not going to go into detail about their background because you can read it all on their site, but after researching them online and reading nothing but rave reviews from moms, I decided to give it a try.  I started with the free 3 class subscription.  After watching those 3 classes I was hooked and decided to buy the whole series.

What exactly is hypnobirthing though? It's all about being in a calm and positive mindset, ready to accept the changes your body will endure during birth.  If you change the way you view birth before going into labor, and if during labor you employ meditative methods for controlling pain, you can have a calm pain controlled labor (notice I didn't say pain free).  You may be asking yourself, did it work for Luanita? I'm going to start from the beginning, because like I said their philosophy is that in order for this method to be successful you need to start using the techniques long before labor starts.



 
When I used to think of hypnosis the first thing that would pop into my mind is this scene from Office Space where Peter asks if the therapist can make him think he's been fishing all day after he's gotten home from a job he hates.  Even though I knew this wasn't what hypnosis was, I would always chuckle and think after taking the hypnobirthing class maybe I'll think I'm on a beach in Hawaii, instead of in the middle of giving birth.

The Preparation
What I loved about their series is that the classes are short.  They were about 15 minutes, and some were even shorter than that.  On nights that I wasn't completely exhausted, Jeff and I would sit down and watch one or even two videos.  The series also gives you relaxation and affirmation MP3's, and a PDF of all of the information that they cover in the videos.

The videos and MP3's are taught by Suzy and Holly, and I love their approach.  They're calm, understanding, and very open to every kind of situation.  A huge plus is that they have the most lovely British accents (obviously since they're from England). The reason why I loved this so much is because listening to their voices on the MP3's was extremely soothing.  I would put the relaxation MP3's on at night before going to bed and within 3 minutes Jeff would be snoring (he found them incredibly soothing).  Suzy and Holly really recommend that you listen to the MP3's everyday leading up to the birth.  It helps you to relax and begin to meditate on the experience that you may be fearing.  It also trains your mind to be relaxed while listening to these meditation exercises, so that when you play them during your birth it will be soothing even if you are in pain.

My Labor
During the classes they recommend you don't call your contractions contractions, since there are so many negative emotions connected to that word.  They suggest surge or wave so I'll be using the term surge. I found it to be a word that conveyed power instead of pain.  In between surges I used the Calm Birth School (CBS) Breathing to calm down and relax.  During a surge I would use the Wave Breathing.  Both of these helped me immensely.  After taking the class, Suzy and Holly had made me feel that my instincts were to be trusted, and if I listened to myself during labor everything would be fine.  I do feel like this was easier to do because it was my second labor.  I already knew what to expect but I kept praying that this time around I wouldn't have back labor because even with the hypnobirthing I didn't know if I could have a home birth with that amount of pain.

As soon as my surges began to get really intense I told Jeff to put on the affirmations MP3. In this MP3, either Holly or Suzy give you empowering messages about your birth and your body.  I lay in bed and listened to it over and over again, I must have listened to it at least 20 times in a row.  It made me feel strong and confident, it also really relaxed me.  As the audio played I would find myself nodding my head to the affirmations that really resonated, as if I was agreeing with them, and every time I did that I felt better.

I slowly started to notice that the back labor was back.  I was terrified, how on earth was I going to get through this when I wasn't able to do it the first time? I started to think of Suzy and Holly and how empowered I had felt after the classes, so I decided to listen to my body and trust my instincts.  My instincts told me to go to the bathroom, hold onto the sink and sway, so I did.  I felt like I wanted heat on my back so I told Jeff to get the heating pad and hold it on my back, it felt wonderful.  I then wanted to stand in the shower with my back getting hit by water and sway, so I did. I wanted to go to the living room hold onto the edge of the couch and sway, so I did.  Through all of this I continued my 2 breathing techniques and I replayed the affirmations in my mind (still nodding my head whenever I agreed).  The pain was intense, but with my hypnobirthing techniques I was able to make it through each surge much better than I had during Ethan's birth.

Right before the RN checked me I would have guessed that I was 4 or 5 centimeters dilated with the amount of pain I was in. I also felt that if this baby came in 6-8 hours I could handle the pain for that much longer.  You wouldn't believe my surprise when the RN said I was 8-9 cm (I had my baby an hour later).  I wanted to say, "Shut up!", but I thought everyone would laugh at me so I held that back.  Not only had I gone through transition without even noticing, I was in the most intense part of my surges and had been managing my pain really well.

After being checked I went into my shower and swayed with the water hitting my back again.  Slowly I began to crouch down until I was on all 4's (my instincts had taken over).  As a surge would come on I would breathe in and with my exhalation I would make a deep loud guttural sound; it was very primal (this is another breathing technique that they teach).  At this point I had a huge urge to push but my midwife wasn't there yet so I couldn't.  Using this form of breathing helped me control the pain and the urge the push until my midwife arrived.

Hindsight
After all was said and done I had my beautiful baby girl at home and although it had been very painful it was manageable and very calm.  After this experience my mind is filled with questions. If I had taken this class with my first pregnancy would things have ended up differently? Was my labor faster this time because it was my second or because I was more relaxed? No one will ever know the answers to those questions, but one thing I do know is that I felt the same pain with both labors and the way in which I handled it the second time as compared to the first was astronomically better. Since I am a huge SciFi fan get ready for a very geeky reference.  I keep thinking of that scene in the Matrix when Neo is told that if he dies in the Matrix he dies in real life because his mind makes it real.  The power that our mind has over our bodies is beyond comprehension and I truly feel that the methods that hypnobirthing employs lead to a calm mind which in turn opens your body up to the experience of labor.





 
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