So while I am on a roll of writing about all things kinda “crunchy”, I thought I might just share another thing that’s close to my heart, hypnobirthing.
I had heard about the concept of hypnobirthing, I had read heaps of positive birth books if you like, when I was pregnant with Jai, then I read a book called “Hypnobirthing, The Mongan Method”. I had listened to the track that came with it, tried to get in to work for me… Did all the relaxation techniques, admittedly with less consistency than they probably deserved, but I just wasn’t getting into it. It all seemed to make sense to me but as an effective form of pain relief during labour? I wasnt totally convinced.
Then two mummy friends I had made in the time since having Josh both shared with me positive first hand experiences about hypnobirths and I was even more intrigued… While I was hosting an Antenatal Class for West Auckland Parents Centre the topic came up and the advice was, if you are interested in this kind of approach, you really need to do a course dedicated to it or something…
I felt like I had no time left to do a course but the more I read about it, the more I liked the idea. And it was while I was in the waiting rooms at Bella Mama, waiting to get a pregnancy massage my mum had bought me for my birthday, I noticed a brochure for a hypnotherapist.
Again, this is just my experience, I am not expert on this matter, just sharing my story. But when pregnant the second time around, I was exploring all different avenues I could to avoid having the same birth as I did the first time and I largely credit hypnobirthing for our amazing and even, dear I say it, enjoyable, birth experience with Jai (I wrote about Jai’s birth story which you can read here).
So the hypnotherapy sessions I went to went something like this, (if you are actually interested in the service please do not quote me on this being totally correct, check with Rebecca at Shine Hypnosis in Auckland or your local service) this is my total baby brain memory of it anyway.
For the first session, she put me under hypnosis and worked at kind of unravelling my pre-existing notion of birth in general. Ridding yourself of the stories, expectations and understandings of birth that don’t surve you well or something like that. To be honest, as soon as we did the putting me under hypnosis part I would have pretty much feel asleep if it wasn’t for the baby in my belly going crazy and doing a mad gymnastics session (I was told that is pretty normal as you are generally more relaxed, and so are the muscles tighten around baby, when you are in hypnosis even more so than sleep).
It’s about reprogramming your expectations and understanding of birth, I was summing it up to a child less friend recently as it changing your thinking and understanding of things, for example, changing “pain” to “intensity” and “contractions” to “surges”. I had done a lot of reading about natural births, Ina May Gaskins stuff featured high on this list. All this made sense to me, our brains are powerful things, my thinking and state of mine totally affected my first birth experience and I was like, “yep, I reckon I can get on board with that…”
Rebecca recorded the session and gave me an audio to take away and listen to twice a day for the next two weeks or so. For the first like, almost week, I feel asleep, ever, single, time I listened to that track. I had to make sure my husband could “spot me” with Mr 2.5 when I tried to listen to it. Every single time she got to the bit about relaxing more a few minutes in and then said my name, I was out for the count a few minutes later. I slowly stayed awake for more and more of the track over the next fortnight and while, man I was sure grateful for those 45min naps twice a day while heavily pregnant and a two and a half year old at home, I was worried I wasn’t getting the full impact cause I kept falling asleep! (to be fair, I still would fall asleep now if I was listening to it tucked up in bed! Luckily Rebecca sent me a post birth relaxation track I can play instead!)
The next two sessions, we worked through concepts about self hypnosis, pain relief methods and other concepts which where focused specifically on the birth experience. This stuff was harder to kind of “master” if that’s the right word for it but it’s totally do-able. Some aspects didn’t gel well with me and kind of made me think too hard which took away from the self hypnosis effects, but that’s the thing about this stuff it’s so personal.
And that option is there with this approach, it’s like which ever part of it is resonating with you most, use that, focus on that. For me, my “happy place” if you like was all about water… Originally when we practised this technique, I had the beach local to us, Muriwai in mind, the waves and the surf and lots of other really specific aspects. Other times, it was about being in the bath with my eldest son and hearing the water from the taps and him slipping and sliding over my huge pregnant puku!
After practising this stuff and having another session with Rebecca, there was an audio track I listened to as I practised self hypnosis in the weeks leading up to birth. As I said before, the time out to rest and recharge, but also connect with my baby and focus on the coming process, was a blessing in itself!
When I was in the very, very early stages of labour, it was the early evening, everyone was well asleep, I was excited and anxious and hardly felt like sleeping but put on my track and laid back down for a few hours and did actually manage to chill out and get some sleep again.
When my labour was establishing, I was just straight up confined to our bath, which is amazingly deep thankfully! I kept draining all the hot water and making my husband boil pots of water on the stove! The whole time, my hypnosis audio track was playing in the background.
When we were in the car on the way to the hospital (this is the second time I’m referring to, read more of the story in Jai’s birth story post), one of the most uncomfortable and difficult parts for me this time, I had my head phones in, eyes closed, curled up in some ridiculous position, trying desperately to imagine fine details of that beach or bath!
When we got to hospital and we’re shown our room, the first two things I was barking orders at my husband for was the audio track and water, I jumped in the shower before they had finished admitting me. I also had some essential oils for birth and labour that I did have first time round also and those too are amazing for your “birth kit”.
That track played so much my husband couldn’t tell when it actually finished as it was imprinted and repeating in his brain haha I would scream at him, breaking deep hypnosis every 45 mins the track finished as we didn’t work out how to loop it!
The last hour or so of my labour with Jai, the bit I remember being really hard with my first labour, was so so different. I was under deep hypnosis, I lost all sense of time completely, I just remember being on my knees in the shower, I had gas and air at the end there so I was chaffing away on that, leaning over a Swiss ball with my husband sitting next to me on the toilet seat hahah
I suddenly looked up at him with my hand between my legs, “I can feel something!” it turns out it was the bottom of the water sac, which was good cause I was wondering why my babies head was so squishy! She turned and said, “it will be just a few minutes, I will call another midwife, there needs to be two of us for the birth”, before she had finished her sentence, plop! Jai came out, almost totally encaul, inside his wee water sack… He actually hit the shower floor in his delivery haha it was speedy and over so quick.
And then, like literally instantly, he tried to start crawling up me while I was on my knees on the shower floor. Crawled right up to my shoulder! And he held on, he was always a strong baby even in my puku.
I got helped to my feet, carried Jai to the bed in the room and sat on the bed with him cuddled up to me, smelling his hair and all the other details the visionalisations I had been working on and listening to pointed out. He feed straight away and we had “skin to skin” the whole first hour or more of his life, then while I showered he was weighted and measured and then dresses for the first time by his dad.
We left the hospital about an hour later after he feed some more and I had tea and toast the nurse gave me, then we discharged ourselves and got home before sun rise, with a few hours to spare with just our latest addition in the house before we had to pick up his big brother at lunchtime, obviously, we all spent this catching up on sleep, expect for the few hours or so that I just stared at this tiny life that had just come out of me… As you do… ?
Image from Shine Hypnosis post
Jai was a very chilled newborn too, one of the other great effects of hypnosis late in pregnancy apparently.. I thought it was awesome, and if you are thinking about birth, even not a hypnobirthing approach, just remember that fear is the enemy of a smooth birth and that it is totally normal and natural and safe, you are more likely to have a crash on the way to the hospital that to have super serious complications in child birth from a normal pregnancy in this day and age. Try and let your body do its process and thing without your mind getting in the way too much…
If you think you might be into hypnobirthing, at least do some research about it… It truly is awesome.. Hopefully it works as well for me if there is a next time (yep that’s right a potential “next time”, I blame both hypnobirthing and placenta pills, we had always only ever talked about two kids until then!) ?
If you are in Auckland, check out Shine Hypnosis – https://facebook.com/ShineHypnosis/
I had three sessions with Rebecca and highly recommend her services..
But it doesn’t have to be her, just explore the concept more… Birth seriously doesn’t always have to be horrible and painful, despite obviously being intense and a lot of work!