Preparing for labor was something I knew that I needed to do, because I was planning on delivering naturally (which I did).
My midwife, Sherri (who you can read about in my series on why I chose a midwife), taught monthly classes for all of her moms-to-be and dads were encouraged to come too. She did a great job educating us on a variety of topics -stages of labor, breastfeeding, laboring positions, what to expect postpartum, comforts for pain relief during labor- you name it. However, she did want her first-time-moms to do some sort of additional birthing class and preparation.
I knew of some ladies that had prepared by either reading or taking classes on hypnosis for child birth. First, lets be honest, the whole "hypnosis" things sounds a little bit crazy. And if you're LDS you may think that you're not even supposed to participate in hypnosis. So for your information the handbook says the following:
"The use of hypnosis under competent, professional medical supervision for the treatment of diseases or mental disorders is a medical question to be determined by competent medical authorities. Members should not participate in hypnosis for purpose of demonstration or entertainment." (Handbook 2, 21.3.5)
It doesn't address birth, yet I personally did not feel like taking a hypnosis child brithing class would be in violation of this policy; however, I did think that it sounded weird so I just referred to it as my "birthing class." There are two main hypnosis classes and theories for hypnotic childbirth -HypnoBirthing and Hypnobabies . I chose the later. I wish I could remember what my reasoning for selecting that one was or why I ruled out other methods like Lamaze out. It might have been recommended, I read a high school acquaintance's successful hypno birth story on her blog, and I had a couple friends read HypnoBirthing (the one I didn't select) and tell me they liked it but disagreed with some of what the book said. So I opted for the Hypnobabies class which was actually held at my birth center by certified instructors who teach at a variety of locations.
It was a little crazy to figure out scheduling with a class which worked for both Trevor and my schedules. We even missed the first class but met privately with the instructor to get the missed information. Each session would include some "hypnosis" practice, viewing a brief video clip of a successful "Hypnobabies mom", and some education on various prenatal, birthing, and postpartum topics. Each week there are assignments given -most of which included daily hypnosis practice by yourself and with your "birth partner" aka husband.
Even though I selected this method, I think I was somewhat skeptical of it. I thought it was weird that it was called hypnosis and I wasn't comfortable telling people what I was doing. I even referred to the hypnosis as "relaxation sessions." And honestly, that's what I felt like they were. Deep relaxation. They weren't too different from relaxation/visualizations/deep breathing that I had done in various dance classes. I'm sure everyone has heard of athletes visualizing the perfect plays - well I think it's like that - visualizing the perfect birth. Perhaps it's hypnosis, and perhaps I just didn't achieve that level of ability to really relax into hypnosis, because of my inability to really practice every day. Whenever I would put on the CD's, lay down, and breath deep, after a few minutes I would just fall asleep. Every time. Without fail. I was a very tired pregnant woman and a little frustrated that I could never stay awake for it. Oh well, at least my body got the extra rest when I did it!
The part that was most beneficial for me was one of the CD tracks called "Pregnancy Affirmations." It wasn't "hypnosis" but just a CD of positive affirmations that you'd repeat in your mind. It really made me feel better about being pregnant and I'd recommend that CD track to ANY pregnant woman.
So did I use Hypnobabies during labor?
Well ... kinda. We didn't actually go to the hospital prepared since we just went straight from our prenatal appointment where we had discovered the devastating news. So I didn't have my iPod with the "birthing tracks" with me. My mom was able to go to our house and bring me some items, including the iPod. The method suggests listening to it from the first onset of labor so that you can be be "totally in hypnosis" aka totally relaxed the whole time, because if you try to relax when you really need it -it will be too late.
It wasn't until the intensity was starting to build that I decided to use the iPod to relax. I also got in the tub at this time. I also had my midwife cuing me to "relax" (as the Hypnobabies method teaches and trains you to do with a birth partner or assistant) both verbally and by pressing her hand on, I think, my shoulders or my forehead (don't remember now). I was getting a bit shaky, felt like I was struggling to relax (even though Sherri said I was doing great), and didn't think I was hypnotized by any means (maybe I should have practiced my hypnosis a little more). I thought at this point labor was just getting going, but to my surprise I was going through transition and dilated from 5cm to 10cm in about a half hour during this time in the tub "using" the hypnosis.
Was it painful? No, I don't think it was. Call me crazy but I didn't think it was painful. Was it intense? A big fat astounding YES. Was I able to do it? YES!! Do I believe that any woman that puts her mind to it and prepares can do it. YES, YES, YES.
Do I attest my success to the Hypnobabies class. Um....only kinda. Was it the tub, my midwife, or the "hypnosis" that got me through it? Or was it that my body is just made to birth babies? Or the prayers of my faithful friends that I would have a quick and easy delivery? Or a tender mercy of the Lord? Probably all of it.
Do I think I would have been more able to rely on the hypnosis aka the "deep relaxation", if I had been the "perfect Hypnobabies mom" and practiced more successfully ? I think so. But I guess I'll never really know.
So there you have it, a little bit about why I chose it and how I feel like it went for me.
Would I do it again? I think so. I think I'd like to do it for real and not just half-heartedly and see how it goes. But we'll see. Every birth is different and may need different things. I guess we'll just have to wait and see when that day actually comes.