I have known Michael for a little over a year, but I have known her through the childbirth community since her oldest son was born. I have watched from a far her choices of home births, and being a hypnobabies advocate, and birth professional in my area. I was looking for something fun to do, and I talked to her about doing an interview about hynobabies and her experiences…
So welcome Michael, and enjoy reading!
1) What is Hypnobabies?
Hypnobabies is Hypnosis for Childbirth. Some call it “hypnobirthing” but that’s a completely different program. Hypnobabies teaches moms *real medical hypnosis* from Gerald Kein’s famous Painless Childbirth techniques for the birth of their babies. With this technique, moms can enter hypnosis, deepen it themselves and remain mobile during labor, completely comfortable at all times. Using and practicing the Hypnobabies creates an automatically peaceful, relaxing and more comfortable pregnancy, a calm confident “Hypno-Dad”, and an easier, fearless and often pain-free birthing for the “Hypno-Mom”. I mention Hypnosis for birth and I’ve seen people immediately start putting up a wall. They’re confused by the fake stage hypnotists and what Hypnosis really is. It is NOT someone controlling your mind, or having you do silly things while they wave their hands around your head in dramatic ways. All Hypnosis is self-hypnosis. You are always in control of your own mind and your body while in hypnosis. You choose to enter hypnosis, stay in hypnosis, accept the suggestions, and emerge from hypnosis at all times. Stronger-minded and stronger-willed people are easier to hypnotize; not the other way around as is usually assumed. Hypnosis is not religion-oriented at all, just a way to direct your inner mind toward the positive for great personal benefit. What I really love about Hypnobabies is that it’s a complete childbirth education course, in addition to the self-hypnotic techniques. Because it’s a complete childbirth education, they don’t have to go elsewhere to another class to fill in any gaps.
2) Why did you choose Hypnobabies?
My aunt was taking a class to become a hypnotherapist. She first led me to the idea of using hypnosis for birth. I was honestly skeptical. I’m a Christian and was pretty clueless about hypnosis, having only ever seen the stage hypnotists and hearing about “mind control”. I thought it was someone *else* controlling my mind, which is false. I had already decided on a homebirth, so I figured I would look into the hypnotic techniques as my method of birth preparation. In my internet search I found that there were no Hypnobabies instructors in my area. I thought that I would benefit more from a live class so I took another program that did have an instructor near me. I was sorely disappointed. I learned next to nothing about Hypnosis, and it didn’t even touch on what to expect from the birth process itself. It took me a couple of months to figure out that I was severely lacking (and trying to write up my own scripts!!) I talked to my husband about buying the Hypnobabies Home Study program. In his mind, we’d already taken a class. He asked “Can’t you just… tough it out?” I bought the home study. I learned MORE about hypnosis AND birth in just the first weeks “class” than I did in the entirety of the other program. I felt like now I had something that would help me. Because I was so far behind in all this, I read the entire 5 courses in one sitting.
3) Can you tell us how Hypnobabies helped with your birth experiences?
I have had three VERY unique births. The first of which, I had only NINE days of practice with my Hypnobabies tools. NINE days, need I emphasize more? They really suggest at least 6 weeks of practice! I started my birthing time at 5am. I experienced no discomfort at all until 4pm. My son was born at 10:26pm. Between 4pm and his birth I had some pretty severe back labor as my son had turned posterior. The original program that I had taken had this underlying thought that if mothers experienced pain “they didn’t want it enough”. So I was disappointed in myself. However, Hypnobabies does NOT teach that at all. Looking back now, I’m rather proud of myself. Back labor was tough, and at the end was painful. I think I was holding him in. My mother’s plane arrived at 4pm, she didn’t get to my house until 6pm. My midwives said they saw me visibly relax when she walked into the room. Imagine what I could have done with 6 weeks of practice! As it was, I used every break in between a birthing wave to use my Hypnobabies tools and go completely loose, limp and relaxed so I could rest for the next one. That helped tremendously. My mother commented that I would go so deep and relax so completely into her arms that she had to hold my head out of the birthing tub. The next birthing wave would start and I would pop right up and start moving around for comfort.
My second birth I started practicing in my second trimester. I wanted the best use of time and practice, especially with my first baby running around. I hear the “time” excuse a lot. “I don’t have the time for all that practice.” Who does? In reality, everyone is working or doing something in their lives that takes up time. It’s about priorities! What do YOU want out of your birth and are you willing to put the “TIME” into it to get it? In all honesty, I would put my cd’s on before bed and listen to it as I fell asleep. This was a perfectly acceptable way to practice. My conscious mind wasn’t the part that needed to pay attention. My subconscious did. When I got up to pee in the middle of the night, I would put the cd back on. During any down moment during the day, I practiced the “finger drop technique” which is unique to Hypnobabies. It’s what allows moms to use their hypnosis as well as walk around and bounce on the birth ball. I definitely wanted to be able to do this, so I practiced it a LOT. In the end, my second son’s birth was nothing short of enjoyable! It was definitely intense. I knew that going in. Birth is intense! But his birth was intense joy, intense pressure, intense stretching. I laughed during my birthing waves, I enjoyed them. I had mild discomfort during transition, but I had amazing support and I knew comfort measures that helped from having had my previous son. Pushing was wonderful and I enjoyed it immensely. It felt productive! I gave birth to a 9lb 5oz baby boy with absolutely no tearing. Hypnobabies taught me not just to use hypnosis for birth, but positioning to aid in descent. I learned to “breathe” my baby out (which I did in combination with the utter throw down pushes my body produced.) But I was able to ease his head out gently. You can see his birth on youtube : (By the way… Check out Midwife and Science & Sensibility writer Amy Romano in the video!)
4) Tell my readers about your outstanding hospital birth?
Ahhh Trillian. Well first off I have to thank my incredible mother. And my insanely awesome Doula and dearest friend – Emily. Their loving, unfaltering support during my pregnancy and very long birth (by my standards) were nothing short of the best anyone could ever imagine or hope for. I love them with all my heart! Trillian’s pregnancy was such a stressful one. I developed blood clots in my first trimester and was put on blood thinners for the duration of the pregnancy. Home birth went out the window with the snap of a finger. With that, I was thrust into the high risk category, which meant a hospital birth at a big teaching hospital. My dad was a paramedic, I’ve been around hospital all my life. This time though, I was scared out of my mind. I started my Hypnobabies practice EARLY in this pregnancy so I could have the mental relaxation and positive reinforcement to help me get through the pregnancy with some sort of sanity. At every bloody appointment I went to, I had one nurse who loved to tell me “You could die”. Okay, I don’t know if she “loved” to say that, but she did. I can’t tell you how many times I heard “Pulmonary embolism is the number one killer of pregnant women in America.” Regardless of whether it’s true or not, they had no cares about how saying something like that repeatedly would make me feel. So like I said, stressful.
In the end, I was 34 weeks when they first discovered low fluids. We made the deal to see if I could up my fluid levels over night and if so they wouldn’t induce me. Thankfully, I was able to do just that. But the very next visit, my levels were lower than before. I had been downing water like crazy, so that let me know something was wrong. I should have been able to keep it up with oral hydration alone. They also happened to discover her being a footling breech. Here in America, they like to refuse to induce (let alone birth at all) a breech. That would mean an automatic c-section. I made another deal, give me that night to see if she would change position, since she had been head down when I walked into that office. They wanted my fluids up anyway before they started the pitocin, so the deal was made. That entire night I pestered the baby until I felt her head in my hip. I prayed she’d turn head down all the way, and the next morning the resident was completely shocked to find her head down! Induction it was. The next couple of days I was so thankful for the childbirth education that Hypnobabies had first provided me 4 years ago. There was a LOT that I now knew about, and I had options. There’s a quote that I love that says “If you don’t know your choices, you don’t have any.” For the life of me I can’t remember who said it, but I feel that it rings true.
They wanted to use cytotec with me but I refused. They wanted to rupture my membranes (wasn’t their concern that I had low fluids?? Not a day ago, they had threatened me with stillbirth if I didn’t go to the hospital ASAP because of low fluids. Now they wanted to take away ALL the fluids?). I refused and said that if we needed to in the end, that was fine but I wanted that protective bubble as long as possible. I opted for a foley bulb to aid in manual dilation. That got me a couple centimeters. Then the rest was all pitocin– upped slowly. I had to remain on the monitors, but they put me in the room that had telemetry. I moved around a LOT. I slept on the floor on blankets instead of the bed because that was what was most comfortable for ME. I sat in the shower for hours. I was very comfortable just using my hypnotic tools, and staying in my “zone” for about 36 hours. I asked that the nurses provided me be ones who would help me achieve a natural (drug free) birth. I had a couple of awesome doctors who kept people out of my room.
There are a lot of what if’s for me. What if I popped my water earlier? What if I had taken something to help me sleep during the night? That was what did me in, I was so SO tired. I had been in the hospital the week prior. I was in the hospital the night before the induction. I was pooped. I was becoming very uncomfortable. I was proud of myself for using my Hypnobabies to handle the back to back birthing waves that never really went away. They were constant. I ended up getting an epidural when I was checked and found to –still- be at 5cm. My goal now went from drug free, to vaginal birth – period. I feared that if I wore myself out too much, I wouldn’t achieve that. I hated the epidural. It didn’t work the first time, leaving my left hip open to all the discomfort. So they had to administer it all over again. They thankfully left it a “low dose” epidural. I didn’t feel the discomfort, but I felt the birthing waves. I could move my legs and feet, but couldn’t really feel it when I scratched my leg. 6 hours later, I was checked and found to be at 8cm. I told them that I didn’t feel rectal pressure but I felt vaginal pressure. They said it would be a while and walked out of the room. I told the nurse again that I felt like she was coming out. She checked me and baby’s head was a knuckle from crowning. I birthed my baby into my hands, with the help of a WONDERFUL nurse to help catch. The video seems to be utter “panic” around the baby being born “without assistance”. The truth is we planned it out, and made it seem urgent. They had their chance, they walked out. Lol I had her 15 minutes after they found me at 8cm. Don’t underestimate mothers, especially a third time mom! There was worry about her health being that she was only 35 weeks, but she came out, peed on me, then nursed. My healthy little thing, I was SO happy. You can see me “breathing” her out here in the video. I did very little pushing, my birthing waves did it all for me. So I literally just breathed and “ahhhhh’d” her out.
5) Would you change anything about your births?
Had this been asked days or weeks after their births, I’d probably say yes and list some things I would have changed. Now, I pretty well accept them. They helped form my thoughts and opinions today. They showed me how much I can overcome, and just the amount of control my mind has over my body. I’m proud of myself, and I’ve loved the birth experiences that I’ve had. Even Trillian’s, though it was less than my idea of “ideal”. I believe that it has gone a long way in helping me to overcome my fears of a hospital birth. I learned just how in control I am over my own reproductive health, even if it takes an argument or two. I learned how backwards their reasoning is sometimes! I learned how loved and cared for I am by the people I chose to be on my support team. They were up and tired just as every bit as I was! So, no. I wouldn’t change anything.
6) Do you think your experiences would have been different had you chose a different birthing method?
I would have to assume yes. I really don’t think I would have had the pain free birth experiences that I have had, had I NOT used Hypnobabies. Their program is so detailed and easy to learn, and their techniques are what helped me in ALL of the births, no matter the outcome. Roan’s birth was super hard, but I accomplished a LOT with only 9 days of practice. Willem’s birth was so amazing, I had the practice behind me and I could literally just sit in the tub, enjoying and relax with my “lightswitch” tool that I learned. Trillian’s birth was empowering thanks to all the incredible information I’d learned and put to good use. Granted this was my third birth, but I had the confidence to say no to a procedure I felt would do more harm than good. I learned how to talk with my care providers, ask the questions, take the time to think it through. Not just blindly jump into a situation. That coupled with my hypnosis, made her birth that much bearable if not easier than had I not. There are so many wonderful programs out there that have excellent childbirth education. It’s my feeling though that the education, and the relaxation techniques – combined with the deep Hypnosis to help in pain elimination really goes light years beyond any other program that I’ve heard of. Hypnobabies really has it all. No offense of course!
There is NO ONE RIGHT WAY. There is only what feels right to that individual mother.
I want to thank Michael for opening up for an amazing post, and great birth experience to share with my readers!