No, I don’t intend to cluck like a chicken during labor, though my husband would argue that I know a lot of “animal-like” sounds he’s only heard me make IN labor ;) But I am aiming for a natural birth with Ella, as we had with Zoe.
While I remain proud that we survived that first natural birth, drug-free, I know I can do better. Sure, nothing will REMOVE pain in birth (or else they wouldn’t call it “labor”) but if anything could make it more tolerable, I’m up for it.
Enter Hypnobirth. Before you ask, there’s no swinging watch involved, and the Mentalist doesn’t show up and put his hand suggestively on your shoulder. The goal of a Hypnobirth class is to help you control your natural response to pain and teach you to visualize positive outcomes. It’s also supposed to help labor happen faster and promote RELAXATION during birth vs. fighting it all the way (bodies naturally tense up from pain and that’s bad for labor).
Plus, if Jessica Alba and Tiffani Thiessen can do it, so can I (yes, they BOTH took the same class with Alisha Tamburri).
And so, I talked my husband into taking a Hypnobirth class. Four sessions, 3 hours each, from 7-10 pm (which I also found odd, given that pregnant women are exhausted at the end of the day, but still). We showed up for the first class and got to “meet” the 12 other couples, all at various stages of pregnancy. We were one of TWO couples that have gone through birth before, though the other couple used hypnobirth (not sure why you’d take the class again) and was due to give birth on the date of our last class, or so.
Anyway, the class is setup with the following structure:
- Talking time (introductions, how did the week go, how do you “feel”)
- Watch TWO births on video
- Learning time (various topics with the instructor mostly telling stories)
- Practice time (guided relaxation at the end)
The first birth video showed a woman who looked like she was sleeping, though she was IN LABOR, punctuated by a push and a baby… I almost laughed out loud. Let’s just say MY birth was nothing like that. I was intrigued, though still skeptical. The second birth video showed a slightly more “vocal” mother, but that’s because “she was a singer” (I, on the other hand, am not a singer – but at least she made some noise and appeared to be AWAKE).
At the break, I explained to the instructor that I was NOT like those women and asked if it was even possible for someone who’d already had a birth like mine to be like that. To which she responded, “Well, Everybody’s Different.” You can say that again, sister.
During one session, which Bart couldn’t attend, I was hypmotized ;) She chose me as the “example” to show the class how to guide your partner through hypnosis. She could not have chosen a more skeptical person in that room. Before she got started, I asked “Are you going to make me cluck like a chicken?” A got a few chuckles but she assured me she would not.
First, I’ll say IT WORKED – but not in the way I envisioned. Through light touch, a very relaxing voice and the power of suggestion “when I do this, you will move to a deeper state of relaxation”, I RELAXED. The thing that got me was when she said “I’m going to lift your arm, don’t help, and when I drop it onto your leg, you will relax” (repeat). I guess I’m open to suggestion after all?
At the end of each session, we were given “HomeFun” to go read a book or listen to some guided relaxations and affirmations or practice. I’ll spare you the 12-hour blow-by-blow and just say, I mostly finished the book, we sometimes did our homefun (though we didn’t listen to the recordings very often), and we rarely practiced.
HOWEVER, I did learn a lot! From using positive self-talk (which I firmly believe in), to breathing techniques, to visualizing what is actually happening and how I can LET my body do that, I will do better this time!
So overall, I say that Hypnobirth an enthusiastic thumbs-up. In a couple of months, I’ll let you know if it WORKED!