Tag Archives: natural birth

Blissful Birth?

My Baby Girl was born on the last day of the year.  She’s beautiful and perfect.  This post is not really a birth story – that is really quite personal and far too involved for this blog.  Rather, I’d like to share with you how the hypnosis classes worked or didn’t work for my labor and delivery.

First things first – Blissborn was great, but T is a rockstar.  He was simply amazing and perfect throughout.  Okay, back to the story . . .

As you may recall, I decided to take the BlissBorn series of classes to prepare for childbirth.  My original purpose in taking the classes was to achieve control of my mind and body and develop a plan to work with T as a team through the labor and delivery.  Frankly, when I first signed up I wasn’t even trying to really reduce pain, I just wanted a plan and a sense of control and calm when delivery time came along.  With each class, my perspective evolved into something more profound.  The class was also huge help in preparing a Birth Plan that I was able to show to my providers at the hospital.  They read it and respected my wishes.

T and I took the BlissBorn classes and practiced hypnosis at home.  Mind you, I did not practice as much as the program recommends.  T and I practiced together even less often.  The BlissBorn method calls for daily hypnosis sessions, on my own and with the use of the audio guides.  Sometimes, I’d practice 6 days each week, sometimes just a couple.  In retrospect, I am sure things would have been even better with more practice.  As it was, I am very satisfied with my labor and delivery and I owe a large part of that to BlissBorn for preparing T and I.

As with most everything in life, things didn’t go according to plan.  One week before my due date I learned that would need to be induced.  I was bummed.  I was disappointed that right from the beginning my labor wasn’t going to be totally “natural.”  In the reading the materials for the BlissBorn classes, I learned about an intervention “domino effect” – that is, one intervention tends to require another and another and so on.  I was worried that being induced would change everything and I would have to have an epidural, maybe a cesarean, and who knows what else.

Speaking of natural childbirth and epidurals – the class did change my mind on this subject.  At the outset, I was somewhat ambivalent about epidurals.  I thought, if I don’t need one then why get one?  But if I do want one, what’s the big deal?  Part of the class homework involved reading Ecstatic Birth – Nature’s Hormonal Blueprint for Birth by Sarah J. Buckley.  After reading it, I was convinced that a natural birth without pain medications was the best choice for me and Baby Girl.  At the risk of being too concise, the article basically explains that women’s bodies have a perfectly customized hormone cocktail that makes natural birth ideal for mom and baby (and not necessarily painful).  My body was built to birth naturally so why mess with Mother Nature?  On the other hand, I reserve no judgment for how women choose to birth their babies – to each her own :)  At any rate, I highly recommend reading the article for a fascinating and scientific account of all things hormonal that go on during labor and birth.

So back to labor:  I used the hypnosis techniques that I learned in the class and listened to the final hypnosis session on my iPod once the process of being induced began at about 4pm Friday afternoon.  Things were slow early on; just small contractions.  Then around midnight, after my second dose of misoprostol, my contractions grew much stronger.  By 2am things were moving along and the contractions were strong, just not very regular.  However, by 4am Baby Girl was well on her way and the contractions were strong and close together.  With the hypnosis audio guides I was really relaxed early on and until about 4 am I was able to doze off for several minutes at a time between contractions.  After 4am I relied completely on T and the techniques that I learned, but not the audio guide.

A key strategy I learned was to accept each contraction for what it is:  each one is a step toward the opening of the cervix.  I was taught to think “open and relaxed” with each contraction and visualize the cervix opening and my body getting ready for the birth.  So rather than fight against the pain of a contraction, I welcomed them as being one step closer to meeting my sweet Baby Girl.  And more than just welcoming them, I learned to make them even bigger in my mind so that I was going with the flow and helping my body move closer to birth.

Just one problem – I wasn’t anticipating so called “back labor.”  I’m not going to lie, this was pretty painful.  I couldn’t exactly picture how the pain in my lower back was supposed to be helping this process along but I stuck with the mantra “open and relaxed” with each contraction and I swear that really got me through that painful part of labor.  I held on to T (he was right there for every moment) and said the words aloud at times “open and relaxed,” thinking my body is just opening and I’m relaxing to let it all progress as it should.  I repeatedly used the technique of saying “let go” while breathing out to relax and go back into hypnosis.  (You can come in and out of it at will.)

I did not stay very deep into hypnosis once I began pushing.  I did still feel in control and continued the “open and relaxed” mantra throughout the labor and birth.  The pushing stage, beginning at about 7:15am, seemed to last forever (it lasted about an hour and forty five minutes) and if I had practiced the “shrinking of time” technique I probably could’ve used that, but I didn’t.  Maybe next time ;)  Oddly enough, the only really painful part was the “back labor.”  I didn’t feel a lot of pain otherwise.

For some context, the midwife explained that another woman who had been induced earlier in the week with misoprostol took 19 or 20 hours from being induced to birth.  She also explained it could take up to 48 hours.  Yikes.  As it was, from my first dose to Baby Girl’s grand entrance, about 17 hours elapsed.  I’d like to think that the hypnosis kept me relaxed so that my labor could progress.

Anyway, the bottom line is the hypnosis worked.  I didn’t take and didn’t need any pain medications.  During labor I heard the nurses and midwives commenting that I was so calm and doing so well during labor (that boosted my confidence too).  I also felt pretty great afterward.  I like to think that since Baby Girl was so alert right from the beginning and looking to breastfeed within minutes after she was born it was partly because I didn’t introduce any pain medications during my labor.  The fact that I was alert afterward was probably as a result of that too, especially considering I’d been awake for about 24 hours.

Eight weeks later, Baby Girl is beautiful as ever.  I feel great and, yes, I can actually entertain the thought of another one . . .

Blissborn Class Update

A few weeks ago I wrote about the birth education/preparation class that I’m taking, BlissBorn.  Today, I’ll let you know what the classes were like and in the new year I’ll get back to you with how everything turns out.

So we took five one-hour classes over five weeks.  I learned how to quickly enter a state of deep mental and physical relaxation (hypnosis).  In just a few moments I can dial down my chatty conscious mind and allow my reptilian brain (subconscious) to take over.  I’ve got about six weeks to continue practicing the techniques that I learned before the real deal requires me to use them.

Simple tools for hypnosis

One of the most fascinating parts of the course was the fourth class where we learned some pain control techniques.  Not surprisingly, this is the most anticipated class.  As part of the class, I placed a clothespin on a somewhat sensitive area (my earlobe) and experienced the discomfort out of hypnosis and then again after going into hypnosis.  What a difference!  Neither was outright painful but I was much more attuned to the discomfort out of hypnosis.  Under hypnosis, I pretty much forgot all about the clothespin pinching my earlobe.  This particular class was definitely a confidence booster.

Listening to the hypnosis tracks on my mp3 player.

One of my favorite classes was the session on fear.  With this class we identified and spelled out our fears about pregnancy and childbirth and learned to transform them into peace, relaxation, and comfort.  We were guided with specific instructions to identify our fears, talk about them with our partner, develop a strategy to deal with them and transform them into positive affirmations, and then use hypnosis to imprint these positive thoughts onto our minds.  This provided an excellent opportunity to really think about the things that made me nervous or worrisome, talk about them with T, and then work through them.  This class gave me more confidence in my ability to handle the unexpected situations that can arise during childbirth.  Basically, I feel less panicky and more prepared.

Best of all, this class has given T an important and defined role for labor and delivery.  Before the class, T was sure that his main job would be make sure I had a steady supply of ice chips.  No joke.  Frankly, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted him to do either.  Now, he feels much more confident in his role in supporting me and talking with the medical staff.  Better yet, we have a mutual understanding and agreement about our entire birth plan.  T still jokes about the ice chips, but thankfully, now it’s just a joke :)

What things did you or your partner do to prepare for labor and childbirth?  I’d love to hear all about the classes you may have taken or some of the books that you enjoyed (or hated) reading!

~R

Delivery Room: Bliss or Chaos?

This week I began taking a childbirth education class (there are many to choose from).  It’s not Lamaze and it’s not the Bradley Method.  I’ve signed up for Blissborn.  Essentially, Blissborn will teach me to use the natural state of hypnotic focus (deep mental and physical relaxation) to control my own mind and body to create the birthing experience that I desire.

Blissborn workbook and dvd

When it came time to think about delivery and what I wanted, I wasn’t really sure at first.  I knew what I didn’t want:  a panicked state of emotion and screaming in pain and anguish.  Basically, I don’t want to be freaking out and I don’t want to be angry and yelling at T.  I wanted a plan, but what exactly?

I investigated water birthing:  it looks calm, peaceful, gentle for mom and baby, and Lovelace Women’s Hospital recently opened a natural birthing center with options for water births.  However, I wasn’t so sure that I wanted to forgo an epidural or try something that my doctor may not have ever done before.  Then my cousin, an obstetrician, mentioned that one of the most calm deliveries she’d ever seen was with a woman who used hypnobirthing.

I looked up the concept and was sold.  There appear to be about three major hypnobirthing classes available:  HypnoBirthing, BlissBorn, and HypnoBabies.  After researching classes in Albuquerque, I settled on Blissborn.  It’s comprehensive childbirth education with the goals of educating women to be prepared and empowered, shortening labor, reducing interventions and complications, reducing fear, and increasing confidence.  It doesn’t zonk (is this a word?) you out so that you don’t know what’s going on and there are no brass timepieces swinging back and forth (much to T’s dismay).  Rather, you learn to relax and control your mind to make childbirth quicker, safer, and more comfortable.

Oh yeah, another cool note on Blissborn is that the founders live and work right here in Albuquerque!  Although I’m not taking the class directly from the founders, my class is being taught by Ryan Chambers at Inspired Birth and Families on 4th Street in the north valley.

I plan to update you along the way and come January, I’ll let you know if it worked for me!

~R