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I took my HypnoBirthing class from an amazing woman who is a friend of my family and a doula, and has been teaching childbirth classes for many years. In Bellingham, HypnoBirthing classes are available through the local technical college.
It made me happy at the 1st class to find that out of the 9 couples, 6 were having their first baby and had found this class and were making an effort to have a great experience. I know that when I had my first baby I'd never really heard of HypnoBirthing and took the class at the hospital. It was okay, and did provide some information, but I found that taking this independant class, even the non-HypnoBirthing topics (like stages of labor, knowing when you're in which part, breastfeeding etc.) were taught in much more detail.
In her book, Marie Mongan, founder of HypnoBirthing, says:
"Many couples find that the months of preparation in relaxation benefit them in the way they deal with day-to-day situations and have a positive effect on how they interact with each other. A mom who was in one of my classes said, 'I came to HypnoBirthing to learn how to have a baby, and I leanred how to have a life.' It's that powerful if you learn to utilize it."
I found this to be true, I found that I was able to use the relaxation techniques I'd learned not only for childbirth but for other situations which might make me nervous. The best example is that I used the self-relaxation/hypnosis during a visit to the dentist. My blood pressure was noticably lower than normal and I was so relaxed during my procedure the dentist kept asking if I was doing okay.
One of the things I learned in the class that I think many people don't realize about hypnobirthing is that it is not just for people who want a natural, home or birth center birth.
Another passage from Marie Mongan's book 'HypnoBirthing':
"HypnoBirthing preparation is beneficial for all families, including those who, because of genuine special circumstances, find themselves in the category of high-risk when their birthings take an unexpected turn. Should the course of birthing run differently from what was planned, and medical intervention or even surgical birth is required, HypnoBirthing enables parents to remain calm, relaxed and in control as they discuss options, evaluate the situation, and make informed decisions concerning the birthing. The attitude of relaxed calm can help make the mother's recovery easier and reduce the necessity for tmedication through the recovery period."
Only one other couple in my class was planning to deliver at our local birth center. The others were all planning hospital births. But they still saw that this method could be useful for them. Even if you're planning to have an epidural at some point during your labor, it's essential not to get it too soon because it can stall labor. HypnoBirthing could be very useful during the early stages of labor.
If you've read my birth story, you may have suspected that I didn't use the HypnoBirthing quite as I'd planned. By the time I tried putting on the relaxation CD, I was nearing transition and was unable to relax during the contractions, it happened very fast. Despite that, I still feel that taking the HypnoBirthing class and practicing with the birth affirmations affected my experience greatly. I believe that because of the classes and the information I had, and the effort I made to read so many positive birth stories, I was much more confident about my baby's birthing day before it even came. I felt empowered and confident that my body knew what to do - it certainly did! My birth experience obviously took a turn for the unexpected when I went into hard labor so quickly then delivered at home. But because of the preperations I'd made mentally, I was able to handle it.
I also believe that the HypnoBirthing class affected me in a positive way just because it got me thinking so much about my baby's birth and what I wanted for myself. It gave me the little extra push I needed to switch midwives when I wasn't completely comfortable to provide myself with a better birthing experience.
As I said in one of my previous posts, one part of HypnoBirthing is changing our perceptions. I love the idea of seeing birth as the beautiful thing it is instead of something scary or painful. This passage from the book struck me and contributed towards this confidence that birth can be wonderful.
"Traditional birthing methods teach that a first stage of labor has, by itself, three distinct segments, slowly bringing a mother's body from 0 to 4 centimeters opened, then from 5 to 7 centimeters opened, and finally from 8 to 10 centimeters opened in a transition period. We don't teach numbers in HypnoBirthing. Experience with HypnoBirthing families shows that there are really no stages to labor. Labor stages are merely chartable milestones developed as assessment tools for medical care providers. For the mother, labor is one continuum, and when the birthing mother is deeply relaxed, birth unfolds. The thinning and opening phase simply spills into the birthing phase at whatever degree that the cervix is opened, and the mom breathes her baby down to crowning, sometimes with only a few unnoticeable birth breaths, to complete the baby's emergence."
I certainly found that in laboring and delivering at home, without the doctors and nurses, things were more fluid. I never wondered what stage of labor I was in, it just progressed how it progressed. In a way, I think that not having someone tell me where I was in the process made it easier. I didn't worry about transition. Birth is such a natural thing, and I think that HypnoBirthing methods can allow you to experience it as such. One of the main goals is transforming birth from a medical experience to a natural one.
Despite the fact that I didn't use HypnoBirthing in the way I thought I would during labor, I am so glad I took the class. Not only did it affect my birth experience in a positive way, but it greatly added to the knowledge base I'm storing up about birth and how we see it in our society. I hope that one day I'll be able to work towards more positive and natural birthing experiences for more women, and this is a great piece of that puzzle. I also gained tools I can use in other parts of my life, which is always a good thing.
This is post 4 in a series about HypnoBirthing and my experiences learning the method. Why not read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3?