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 . . .