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Hypnobirthing and My Birth Stories

Pregnant BellyAmy at Crunchy Domestic Goddess recently wrote about hypnobirthing. It seems Jessica Alba, who just became a mom, gave birth naturally with the hypnobirthing method. I think it is really awesome that she is is bringing attention to the power and joy of a natural birth. Amy also mentioned that I have had two hypnobirths as well. I highly recommend it. There were no Hypnobirthing classes in my area at the time but I had the book and a set of CDs.

IMO it is not some sort of self hypnotism…it is more like deep meditation and focus. But I guess it could be called self hypnosis in the sense that it teaches you to withdraw into yourself during labor and take control of your pain and your birth experience.

My first birth experience was pretty common I think. Halfway through, the pain started to get intense and I panicked and asked for drugs. I still remember clearly how completely freaked out I was. I kept thinking “if it is this bad now….I aint waiting to find out how bad it will get later.” The drugs made the labor slow and so Pitocin was used to speed things up. My son didn’t respond well to all the drugs so the doc put one of those internal monitors on him…ya know the ones that actually break the skin on their heads! Pushing took 30 minutes and I ripped (sorry if TMI) something fierce despite having an episiotomy first. On a funny note though…what I remember most was getting sewn up afterwards for a looong time and when done the doctor accidentally dumped the garbage bag of blood, fluids, and other birth gunk that was hanging onto the end of the bed, on the floor. My dad walked in on a grizzly seen, LOL.

My first hypnobirth went so well that I was in almost NO pain. I labored without pain at home and in a car listening to Abba while my mom ran errands until I was 9 centimeters dilated.

You can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life
See that girl, watch that scene, diggin the dancing queen

My pain was so non-existent that I asked my mom to take me to Barnes and Noble to go book shopping. I only ended up at the hospital because the maternity entrance was about to close and I didn’t want to have to walk through the ER if I waited any longer. SO I reluctantly decided to have them check my progress…that was about 8:00 PM and I was SURE I had hours to go yet. I truly thought that perhaps I wasn’t even in labor yet. It took about 30 minutes before they even checked me and then my daughter was born just after 9:00 PM and they made me wait to push until the doc got there….which was kind of agonizing because they gave me Pitocin without asking me. They just snuck it in there on me about 5 minutes before I started pushing. I am now fully convinced that Pitocin is EVIL. But my daughter was born after only 2 pushes and I did rip just a little. The sewing part hurt because I was not anesthetized like last time. Strange that the most painful part of the whole birth was getting stitches afterwards. It was the perfect birth IMO….easy, painless. She was almost 9 pounds.

Hypnobirthing BookMy second hypnobirth was not as easy as the first one but I didn’t realize then that I had cancer either….I just thought it was the pregnancy from hell. This was the only birth where I was throwing up…which was related to the cancer. The pain was more intense but still manageable. I did have a nearly ten pound baby in there and a large tumor in the area. I remember my legs were shaking uncontrollably and I couldn’t seem to focus on stopping them. Later months would show me that this too was related to the cancer. My youngest was out in just a couple pushes and within 5 minutes of his birth I was feeling so good I was ready to do cartwheels. The nurses said I was cheeriest post partum patient they had ever seen. I was ready to go home within two hours but they made me stay overnight and then I went home the next morning. Birthing my son brought immense relief to my body and for awhile I felt better than ever. Of course the party would be over only 3ish months later when I would get really sick.

But for any mom that wants to go the natural route I HIGHLY recommend hypnobirthing.

  • Brenna

    Wow, what amazing stories! I wish I had tried hypnobirthing with my first two. Maybe we would have had different results. I also agree that Pit is evil!!

  • As I mentioned on twitter, I used the same book and CD with the first. However, there were a number of issues with that one that prevented me from really achieving the right sort of relaxation. Still, I think it helped me to focus and insist on at least my top priority (next to the safety of me and my child): no c-section.

    I’m hoping this time will be even better and I’ll be able to labor longer at home and have a hypnobirth worth writing about.

  • I’ve never actually heard of hypnobirthing – but it sounds great! I had both of my kids w/ no drugs ie an epidural, but they did induce both times. I agree with Pit being horrible!

  • J

    Hm, I’ve always wondered what hypnobirthing was. I wonder if mine was somehow a self-induced hypnobirth. The nurses actually asked me if I took drugs or something because I was so quiet and calm (I was intently focused on controlling the pain, likened to meditation). My doula mentioned later that this was called the ‘resting phase’. Anyway, birth didn’t hurt half as much as I thought it would. Baby was out in 45 minutes and I barely tore. The worst pain that night was undoubtedly the stitches despite having some local anesthesia.

  • Sheena

    I used my very own method of breathing and I did great. I told myself that if I didn’t relax I’d be in that hospital forever,lol. I did surrender to an epi because my son’s head was so low, he was killing my back. I felt like I had to push but it wasn’t time! Since I started to tense up (trying to “suck” him back in), I stopped dilating. Since I had my son at 38 weeks, they made me stay 2 days..grrrr! I just may try hypnobirthing next time around.

  • Elisabeth A Saliani

    I used the bradley method but bought some hypnobirthing style relaxation cds that got me through labor. Luckily my hospital didnt require IVS with midwife patients so they couldnt sneak any drugs in. I wasnt pain free but it was managable. Your right, the stitches were the worst part!

  • I had a situation with my son that resulted in a c-section. Looking back I truly believe that I was not educated enough about labor and child birth. Had I took classes or read books like the one you suggested here I would have been much better off. Now that I have been through the experience once I now know how to better handle it the next time around. I only hope that when the time comes I will be able to find a doc who will let me try a VBAC and be on the same page with me and natural birth.

  • Rose

    Thank you for sharing your birth stories! I’m planning a hypnobirth in about 4 weeks (give or take a couple). I was all relaxed and at peace with the idea… but having just spent some time with my parents who are dr’s I was starting to worry. There’s nothing like hearing a daily helpful comments like “Just get an epi like last time” to start undermining the confidence. Your story reminded me how it definitely can work.

    I truely believe the ability to relax will be key. With my daughter I progressed to 4cm with out ever realizing I was in labor. At that point my water broke and I panicked. That’s when it first hurt and probably slowed down. After the epi I relaxed and birth progressed so fast the dr’s weren’t ready. It makes me really wonder what it would have been like if I had never panicked to begin with. Maybe I could have had that same birth… but without the needle… and with out the uncontrollable shaking I got 24 hours later that they said was from the epi.

  • Loved reading about your hypnobirths! I used the Bradly method, which is slightly similar in relaxing and focusing. If I had known about hypnobirthing at the time I probably would have gone that route.

  • Stacey Melis

    My husband and I took private Hypnobirthing classes, I listened to the cd’s, read the books, and thought I had a pretty good embodiment of the process. However, even after a lifetime of extremely high tolerance to pain, my extended labor got the better of this mama, and I decided to have an epidural. Of course, my finely tuned, itemized birth plan called for an all natural birth, but you just never know how it’s going to be until you are there, and there was nothing hypnotic or peaceful about my experience. The Hypnobirthing program helps many women, and I envy those who are able to regulate their pain with it… I just couldn’t make it work that way for me. My daughter and I are healthy and I don’t regret my experience. I always appreciate hearing other womens’ natural birth stories but also appreciate their acceptance of those of us who ended up going a different way.

  • Elizabeth

    So great to hear all these natural birth stories! I’m due w/ my 2nd in 13 weeks & hoping for a repeat of the smooth, relatively quick delivery I had w/ #1 (notice I did not say easy!). It’s definitely time we provide the power of information and options to women who want an alternative to the Dr-centered birth experience!

  • I just had my first baby in May 100% natural with a midwife. And you know how everyone gives you loads of “advice” about how great the epidurals are and how you must get at least one? Well my fiance’s grandmother is the biggest advocate for epidurals and pain pills as a fix all. Oddly enough when she told me about the birth to her first son in Cuba she didn’t have any pain or medication. Because back then (before Castro) they hypnotised women going into labor. She didn’t feel any pain just relaxation. After Castro came into power hypnotherapy was banned and she was happy to take the recommended meds for pain relief with her second 2 children. Shocking and exciting to here huh?!

  • I just gave birth 3 days ago and used the hypnobabies method of hypnobirthing. I will not say that it was pain free though. This was due to 2 things. I had friends over when labor started so by the time they left and I was able to try my hypnosis techniques labor was already intense. The other thing was that labor was so fast for me. Active labor and pushing was a total of 3 hours. When I arrived at the hospital I realized that it had worked better than I thought though because I arrived completely dilated and ready to push. I had a medication free birth. This was a VBAC for me so I coul dnot have been happier. I highly recommend hypnobabies.

  • I was delighted to hear about this successful hypnobirthing too. I just wish every mother could do it because it makes such a difference, not only to the mother, but also to her baby.

    Katharine Graves

    Katharine Graves teaches hypnobirthing classes in London

  • Hummm, Hypnobirthing never heard of it! Guess that’s what I did with my 4th child because I had him natural all the way. Guess after you have had 3 you really know what to expect and too I think too the amount of pain you can handle.. Hummm I can bear pain. So they have given natural childbirth name, Hypnobirthing!

  • Thanks for this great post.

    I am going to try and get pregnant soon, and will have a midwife and doula there to support my home birth. I have not looked into hypnobirthing yet, but it’s on my list of things to do :)


  • Ivyrose

    Great Post!
    I had my second three no almost four months ago. Both of my babys were born at home and it was awesome! No meds obviously and i was really luckey i didn’t tare with either, I was able to labor peacefully where ever i chose (which incIuded in our yard at the beach and in the tub) The tub was great and my second ended up being a water birth. After each birth I felt empowered as a women and a mother and was so glad i had the opertunity to gain that from birth. I chose to have home births because that was where i was most comfortable. I believe that the biggest issue in maternal health in North America is women not realizing they have options. Everyone should have the ability to birth where they feel most relaxed and at ease.

  • Monica

    Great article Tiffany. I’m going to grab the book for sure but wondered if I could manage without the CD’s?? Did you listen to them on delivery day, or are they a prep thing prior. Just looking to be successful but hoping not to break the bank either.

  • Monica

    Thanks Tiffany,
    I should have mentioned that I am wondering if my experience in meditation and yoga has any relevance here, or if this is a “technique” per say that I need to learn? Also, thanks for all your cloth diaper recommendations…I am ready for round two with cloth!

  • Monica,

    I listened to them in the months prior to the birth to learn the process. I did not listen to them during the birth though. I could have though. ;) Since the whole concept was new to me the CDs really helped.

  • Yes your previous experience should be helpful. I had never done meditation and had only limited experience with yoga…aka a yoga in your office cubicle CD, LOL.

  • Layna

    I practiced HypnoBirthing relaxation for 8 months of my pregnancy and had the same experience as your 2nd birth… Almost no pain until I was almost at 10 cm and ready to push. Amazing! So different from my first labor!

  • Great birthing story. I love hypnobirthing and hypnobabies as well!!

  • Natural Childbirth Girl

    My goodness!  You are a champ.  I hope you have recovered from your cancer.  What a story.  I am sure anyone with power over your body like that could conquer anything.  :)

  • Kristin

    Self hypnosis with Hypnobabies allowed me to have a non- medicated natural birtg at home with a recently broken tail bone.