Recently one of my pregnant sorority sisters asked me about my experience with Hypnobabies and I remembered a blog post that I had saved in drafts and not yet published! So I will share that post now and then add on my actual experience with it.
This is what I wrote before Caroline was born (I changed everything to past tense):
I am not an expert in the art of relaxation by any means; I can never seem to turn off my brain enough to truly relax. As I’ve mentioned before, Brian always has to tell me to stop moving & to sit down. However, I really challenged myself to do this by studying Hypnobabies: Hypnosis for Childbirth. I did the home study course, so it was all self-run and I really liked the idea behind it. I know it probably sounds really hippie & new-agey (for lack of better words), but I think there are elements to it that were really helpful. It emphasizes positive associations with pregnancy & childbirth rather than the horror stories you hear from so many people and I think that’s so important; going into labor & delivery with a ton of fear in your mind is never beneficial.
The way the program works is that each week is a new lesson. You read a little bit in a workbook, then you alternate between hypnosis tracks depending on what day it is. You are also asked to listen to a “Joyful Pregnancy Affirmation” track every day. This specific track’s purpose is to change all negative pregnancy connotations and to help you think of pregnancy & birth as a positive, healthy, natural thing. It even seeks to change some of the language we use for birthing, pregnancy, etc into more positive language. I liked listening to this track when I took my lunch-time walks around campus. Sometimes I tried to listen to it in my car but pair that with my occasional road rage during the commute & I don’t think that was necessarily the best time for it!
Part of the reason I decided to try Hypnobabies was because I felt like I needed a plan for this birth because we didn’t have a doula this time around. We had a birth assistant but we only met her once before the birth and I felt like I wanted to rely on myself & Brian more this time around. Plus, with Audrey, I tended to become very introverted when I needed to focus, and I thought this would be a great thing for me to be able to focus on. I wish that I had had this training w/ Audrey because I wasn’t able to move around much during her birth (since we were on constant monitoring).
This is how I incorporated Hypnobabies into my birthing experience:
Hypnobabies definitely played a role in my birthing experience, though it was mostly in labor prep & early labor. Even though Caroline is my second, it was easy to get nervous about the birthing experience and how it would go, but I loved listening to the Affirmations tracks because they calmed my nerves immensely. One of their tracks talks about envisioning your perfect birth. This is inspired by the idea that what you think influences what happens. My “perfect” birth consisted of me going into labor early in the morning (not at work) and ideally during the day so Audrey had as easy and normal of a day as possible and so we weren’t stressed about coordinating her caretakers. Lo & behold, that’s exactly what happened. I was in early labor on Wednesday morning when I woke up, Brian drove Audrey to daycare & came home where I labored for a little while, went to the birth center around lunch-time, delivered Caroline around 3pm and we were home by dinnertime. It was like going to a normal day of work…minimal interruptions for Audrey (except that she got a new sister at the end of that day!). I do believe that there is some substance to the idea that how you imagine things will happen can actually help them happen that way (like The Secret talked about…or whatever that book was). I was skeptical at first, but this sort of pushed me in the direction of believing in the power of thought.
When I realized I was in early labor, I kept trying to remember & utilize all of the relaxation techniques that I learned through Hypnobabies. When contractions started getting harder to deal with, I laid down, listened to some tracks & dozed off. On our car ride to the birth center, I tried staying calm by listening to some tracks; when we arrived at the center, I was already 7-8 cm dilated, so I know the relaxation helped with that. Another thing we tried to avoid doing was telling people (except as necessary) that I was in labor because I knew that I would start getting very excited and adrenaline would start pumping and then relaxation would be next to impossible. That’s why so many people didn’t know that she was even on her way until after she had arrived! I laughed when I saw some people posting on my Facebook page that they predicted she would come the next day or the day after that because I knew she was already on her way (or even here!).
Even though I brought my iPod to the birthing center with the intention of turning on some tracks meant for late labor/pushing, I never ended up turning it on once things really got going. Even though that was the case, there were many, many moments during active labor (especially when in the tub) where I referred back to the Hypnobabies relaxation techniques. Relaxation is work to me & requires TONS of focus, and the only thing I could focus on during the pushing stage was…pushing.
Hypnobabies talks about having a pain-free child-birth experience and mine was definitely not pain-free but the pain was VERY tolerable and the birth was peaceful, calm and relatively easy; I’m sure my dedication the home study had a lot to do with it.
Anyway, that is just my take on it for anyone who is curious about my experience with it.