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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hypnobirthing-personal experiences

So, we have had a pretty interesting discussion on my last post on hypnobirthing, and I thought I should really share more of what I have seen, to give women an idea of where my own thoughts are coming from.  Disclosure: I have never taken a class.  These experiences are all coming from me watching and helping women in labor and from reading the book Hypnobirthing: The Mongan method.

First off, for all of the mothers that I have seen that have taken hypnobirthing(this includes actually taking the class, those who have read the book, and those who have purchased a set online that includes tapes and instruction) they have found some degree of help.  I would bet that most of them would say they are glad they they learned how to do this as it has helped them cope.  There are also lots of wonderful stories out there surrounding hypnobirthing and I would encourage you to look for them.  There is some on the last post also.  But in an effort to help women make decisions on what is best for them, I am offering a few different experiences I've had.

I'll start with a good one.  Which is a lot like many of the other good stories you'll hear.  I was privileged to take care of a wonderful couple that knew what they wanted and understood how to help their birth in a natural way.  They made themselves a calm, quiet atmosphere and brought things to the hospital to help provide her with comfort.  Her and her husband worked very well with each other(which I always like to see).  She had her tapes that she played to help remind her that her body was able to work the way it needed to.  She used the visualizations and worked very well through her pressure waves.  It was a beautiful birth to attend and she was glowing afterwards.  I never asked her what her pain level was, but I would bet she would say it was 0.

Here is an interesting thing that has happened in multiple births where women had been trained in the hypnobirthing method.  I would watch them and get the same sense of awe at how well they were coping.  One lady even came in during transformation(transition) laughing and talking and really enjoying herself.  Many of these women request epidurals.  From the outside looking in, they looked about as pain free as you could get, yet they were obviously feeling something they didn't want to feel.  My guess is that they had started out in the first place, not wanting to feel any pain or discomfort, thus they requested the epidural.  When they started feeling more than what they wanted, they opted for a medical method(while not 100% effective, it is the most effective method to not feel any thing in labor..for good or ill).  I don't know what these ladies thought processes are, but my guess is that they really didn't want to feel anything, they preferred not to have medication if they didn't have to(thus they took hypnobirthing classes under the assumption that it would get rid of their pain), but they preferred no feelings of pressure waves or contractions.

Then there are the ones that really concern me.  We had one patient on the floor that had taken the classes and brought a doula with her.  When she first started labor she was doing really well and using her scripts quite effectively.  Labor was prolonged and she started to get tired.  About half way through the labor, she requested an epidural.  What concerned me about this one is that she had invested so much of herself into hypnobirthing that she felt let down and defeated after she got the epidural.  She felt that somehow she had done something wrong.  That if only she had practiced more, if only she had been more diligent.   I felt like at this point, the program had not prepared her for the exhaustion she might feel after a prolonged labor and how that effects pain.  And then when she started to feel more pain she was not prepared mentally to accept and work with that pain.

So those are my experiences with the whole pain issue.  The other thing I spoke about was how some people cope with labor differently and are more extroverted rather than introverted.  If you look at studies of hypnosis in general, you will find that there are certain degrees that people are able to be hypnotized.  I assume this has to do with a persons personality, and I would say the same would go for those in labor.  Some women are more easily able to use this method of pain control than others.  And it's not about how well you pay attention or how much you practice, it's about how you personally cope and your own personality.

I had one lady that I was working with that needed lots and lots of movement.  Anytime a contraction came on, she needed speed walk up and down the halls like nothing else.  She also wanted other people to talk to her.  With both of these ways of coping, it would have been difficult to do the whole method taught by hypnobirthing.

It reminds me of my cat when she had her kittens.  Many natural childbirth advocates will talk about how animals give birth and how different that is from us.  Most animals will try and find a dark and secluded space.  Usually they won't want anyone around them.  I say usually because my cat is different.  When my cat starts labor, she finds me where ever I'm at and stays with me.  She really doesn't care where she is.  She just wants to be with me.  Which is totally different from what we are taught.  I think the same thing goes for people

Some people want to move, some want to go inside.  Some want to have people around.  Some don't.  Typically the Hispanic culture is loud and very vocal.  This is what many people use to ground themselves.  I have heard many women who'll say that it was the noises they were making, that gave them a sense of empowerment and ability to cope.

At this point, I don't think I would choose hypnobirthing for myself just because I've already come up with my own ways of working through labor.  Some of it involves breathing techniques and vizualization.  At this point I wonder if learning something new would actually irritate me when I'm happy with what I have:)

For other people I recommend looking into hypnobirthing, but to also notice how they usually cope with stress or fear.  Because if there is already techniques that you are used to using, it may be that these will be what you should use.


Enjoy Birth said...

I love reading your insights. I have a post that will come out tomorrow in response to your first post. :) I am a little on the slow side. I started to leave a response, then realized it needed a whole post in response.

Rachel said...

Oh good! I was actually thinking about asking you to write something:) So that works out perfectly!

Birth is a Journey: Does it have to be life changing?

  • One woman might have to climb on an overfilled boat, risking her life and nearly dying as she escapes over the ocean to come to this land. This experience could certainly be life altering. It may very well color the rest of her life, positively or negatively. (I overcame this amazing struggle and here I am triumphant! OR Holy crap, that was SO hard I don’t know if I can go on! By the way, neither response is “right”. No one would judge the woman with the 2nd response.)
  • One woman may buy an airplane ticket, sit on a comfortable 747 and fly to America with a nice smooth flight and landing. She is happy to be in America. Those welcoming her are glad she is here safe and sound. She may only travel by plane 2-4 times in her life, so it is pretty memorable. But the journey itself probably wouldn’t be life changing; it would simply be a journey.
  • One woman may learn to fly an ultra-light plane to lead a flock of geese into America teaching them to migrate. This experience could certainly be empowering and life altering.