As we close in on the final month of life before a newborn, Dan and I have spent lots of time preparing: assembling a crib, building shelves for the baby’s room, figuring out all the best routes to the birthing center, and so on. But now we have one more item to add to the “to-do” list – master the techniques of hypnobirthing. Since most of the people I have mentioned this to have responded with puzzled looks or shrugged shoulders, I thought I’d give a brief overview.
Much like Lamaze or the Bradley method, Hypnobirthing is a series of techniques designed to assist a mother giving birth naturally. The former two, however, are meant as coping mechanisms for the inevitable agony, where as hypnobirthing advocates believe that pain can be eliminated from the equation altogether. It is based on the concept of re-training your mind where childbirth and its processes are concerned.
You begin by re-framing your entire vocabulary to be more gentle. So many terms, including the most common “going into labor” suggest negative connotations and can really affect a mother’s perception. The instructors advise soon-to-be-moms to turn off any television or movie portrayals of birth that sensationalize or even cause terror about the event. The whole point is to insulate yourself from gory anecdotes of family and friends and visualize a peaceful, perhaps even enjoyable experience for yourself.
The course arms you with visualization suggestions, affirmations and breathing techniques that will promote self-hypnosis during birth. While the term “hypnosis” is frequently associated with magicians on stage forcing audience members to quack like ducks or skeptics claiming to be too intelligent to be hypnotized, I see it as a form of meditation, something I have tried to incorporate into my life for quite some time. If you’ve ever given in to a daydream or been driving along without really understanding how you got to your destination, you have unwittingly participated in a form of hypnosis.
Many hypnobirthing moms report pain-free or at least more comfortable births. It’s not a brand new concept, and even though it has received lots of mainstream attention in the past (Good Morning America, and other national media outlets have covered it), it’s definitely not as famous now as Lamaze was back in its heyday. I’m sure there are plenty of people that think it sounds crazy or hokey, but my personal opinion is rooted firmly in the concept of mind over matter.
Because I am Type-A, I believe that I have control over how I react to everything, including pain. Fear and anxiety always make pain worse, or it least it seems that way. The mind is a powerful tool, and depending how you use it, can become an enemy or an ally in situations like giving birth. While I know in the back of my mind that there’s always a chance it won’t go the way I hope, I am confident that ANY scenario will be vastly improved through my staying calm and relaxed. So now, I will work on creating an impenetrable “Bubble of Peace” that I can retreat to at any point I choose. Even now, before the actual birth event, I have been dealing with some people’s negativity about the choices Dan and I are making for our birth plan. But instead of focusing on the naysayers, I am choosing to indulge myself in the people showing support and do whatever I can to stay positive. This is a huge event in my life, but more importantly in our baby’s life. If nothing else, I want the occasion to be as favorable as possible. I owe that to our family.