One of the coolest things about moderating the Hypnobabies Yahoo Group is I get to work with moms all over the world. Seta shares the story of Marisa’s birth in Japan.
This was my first time with both pregnancy and hypnosis. Fortunately, my pregnancy was uncomplicated with just some mild morning sickness in the first trimester. Another fortunate thing, although I didn’t think so earlier, is that I am in Japan where natural childbirth is the norm. In fact, I had asked my doctor about epidurals and drugs very early on in my pregnancy, but he said that the hospital could only administer these for medical reasons, but never at the request of the mother. When I found out a little later that the hospital did not even offer childbirth classes, I started to worry about how I would cope with labour and delivery. I began searching online for options and this lead me to Hypnobabies.
I began the Home Study course about eight weeks before my due date so I’d been doing maintenance for the three weeks prior to delivery. I listened to the Joyful Pregnancy Affirmations on average 6 out of 7 days depending on how busy I was. As for the daily hypnosis lessons, I fell asleep most of the time (hypnotic amnesia) but woke up at the end of each session. Actually, to this day, I still don’t consciously know what is on most of the CD tracks. If I missed a hypnosis session, I sometimes doubled up on another day. I practiced using my light switch when I remembered to, and then only about two or three times on those days.
So basically, I practiced relatively regularly, but didn’t beat myself up about missing a day or two. I never really felt like I got the hang of the light switch, but I kept telling myself not to judge the experience and just keep at it.
DH practised with me a total of three times, and only in the last week or so before delivery. However, he was incredibly supportive of my efforts, though he doubted it would work on the day. As for myself, I also had my doubts, but then again, what did I have to lose by trying?
The day I started listening to the Birthing Day Affirmations was the day I went into labour, at 39 weeks 6 days.
My labour began with my water breaking unexpectedly. I was lying in bed around 10.30pm and felt some unfamiliar sensations down below, like baby was poking its fingers through the amniotic sac. I felt it once, then sat up, twice, and then the floodgates opened. I felt the warm liquid running down between my legs, similar to urine but without colour or smell. I called out to DH who came running at the excited sound of my voice. “I think my waters just broke.”, I told him, “I think baby’s coming!”. I went to the bathroom and checked the color of the liquid. It was very clear so I told DH that we had some time to get to the hospital and to try and remember all our last minute items for the hospital. I put on a menstrual pad, but that filled up in a matter of minutes, so I ended up folding up a towel and putting it between my legs to catch the amniotic fluid that just kept coming and coming.
On the way to the hospital, a 20 minute drive, I listened to BIRTHING DAY AFFIRMATIONS and did some of that slow breathing that Kerry always starts off with on the CDs – in through the nose, out through the mouth. I didn’t know it at the time, but that breathing technique would be crucial later in my delivery.
We arrived at the hospital and I was checked (here I used my light-switch OFF): 1 cm.
I was hooked up to an IV because I had tested positive for Group B Strep (a bacteria that can harm a newborn baby) and then DH and I settled into our room for the night. Needless to say, neither of us slept very well that night in anticipation of what was ahead. During the night, when I wasn’t sleeping, I listened to BIRTHING DAY AFFIRMATIONS, DEEPENING, and SPECIAL PLACE tracks.
The next morning, I was checked again by my doctor (lightswitch OFF): 3 cm.
He manually dilated me (really uncomfortable!) and in seconds, I was at 5 cm.
I hadn’t felt any pressure waves by this point. But I continued to listen to tracks on and off. Actually, I could have listened to them non-stop, but I felt sorry for DH who, when he wasn’t catering to my every whim and desire (Can you get me some coffee? Can you turn the aircon off? Can you open the curtains?) was just waiting it out. So I would turn my ipod off or volume down, put my light-switch in CENTRE, and chat with DH. One time he even read a script to me which gave him more involvement, and me more relaxation.
Nurses came in from time to time to either hook me up to the monitor, or change the IV bags. If I was in the middle of a hypnosis session (DH said I looked like I was sleeping) then DH would answer any of their questions, or at least ask them to wait until I was ready to answer. I think that having someone in the room who can be your advocate really helps you keep focussed and also helps the staff understand what’s going on so they don’t feel like you are ignoring them. I allowed some internal checks, but refused others – the fact that I could choose whether to have one or not really made me feel in charge of my birthing time (something that was hammered home in the JOYFUL PREGNANCY AFFIRMATIONS). Sometime in the evening, I allowed an internal: 7-8 cms.
At this point, I started listening to the EASY FIRST STAGE track over and over again. For some reason, I had been saving that one for when I really felt like I was in labour, and the 7-8 cms indicated that I was heading into transition, what for some women is the most demanding phase of labour.
Now, the nurses were never convinced that I was in active labour. They kept asking me, “Do you have any p***? Does it hurt?”, and I would also reply honestly, “No”. If they asked DH “Does she have p***?”, he would tell them the same thing, “No p***, just pressure”. So they didn’t believe that I was really labouring, even though they could see my pressure waves on the monitor from their own office, and even though those pressure waves were dilating me. It might be a cultural thing, but every time a nurse would enter my room, she would ask about the p***, and then when she’d leave, she’d say “Call us when she starts to feel p***”. Needless to say, we never had to make that call.
Transition for me was the first time I felt a pressure wave. I didn’t feel the “wave” part, but the pressure was undeniable. I kept telling DH that I needed to do a number 2, but every time I would go to the bathroom, nada. It was uncomfortable and annoying more than anything else. Eventually, after countless attempts to relieve myself, I recognised that the rectal pressure was the baby, and not some huge turd.
I spent most of this time in hypnotic amnesia, and even now, don’t have total recall of this transitional phase. I was using my light-switch more often by this point, switching OFF to go into deep hypnosis, into myself and my body’s physical experience, and then switching CENTRE when I wanted to re-enter the outside world (ie. To communicate with DH or the nurses). So I only remember bits and pieces of transition, like when I suddenly got the shakes and started shivering uncontrollably and DH covered me with duvets and started rubbing me to try and warm me up. Then just like that, I felt hot and sweaty and needed to have the windows open and wanted to strip down to complete nakedness. I remember looking at the monitor every now and again to see baby’s heartbeat (above 100 is good, below 100 call the nurses station we were told). I remember chanting along with the track “PEEEEACE, OPPEEENNN, RELAAAAX”, probably freaking out the Japanese nurses but by this stage, beyond caring.
Twice I had DH call the nurses’ station to tell them I had to push. The first time they came running, “So is she feeling any p*** yet?”. I think the withering look I gave that nurse answered her question. “I feel like pushing”, I told her. She said a midwife would have to do an internal before we went to delivery. I didn’t object. The midwife checked: 8.5 to 9 cms. The second time DH called them, my doctor came in and checked me: almost 10cms!! YAY!!
A nurse went running to get a wheelchair for me, which I didn’t fit into (damned Japanese-sized wheelchairs), so I walked the short distance to the delivery room.
(***Warning: Put up and reinforce your BUBBLE OF PEACE for delivery room description)
I love my doctor and the attendants that helped us were real angels, but the delivery room, my goodness, what a shambles. I could see big garbage bins filled with blood-soaked I-don’t-know-whats, and shiny stainless steel implements lying on a table. I saw deep sinks that needed a good scrub and the morgue-like fluorescent lights that were just not working for me. I don’t mention these things to scare anyone, but this was the one time during my labour that I desperately and urgently resorted to my BOP to block the negative images before me. I focussed on getting to the delivery bed, or rather, the delivery bench.
(***Relax your BOP, that’s as bad as it got for me J)
As soon as I lay down on the delivery bench, I switched on the PUSHING BABY OUT track. This I would listen to until I delivered baby. I had never listened to either track on the Birthing Day CD, so maybe this had something to do with what happened next, but for some reason, I was unable to breathe the baby down. Each pressure wave, now ranging from between 4 and 2 minutes apart, was manageable, and I was fully dilated, but baby didn’t seem to be making any progress downwards. After an hour of this, three things happened that made me want an alternative. Firstly, another woman was wheeled in to the other side of the delivery room, she pushed and pushed, then we heard the crying of her baby. She had successfully delivered in five minutes! Secondly, without warning, I was suddenly hooked up to oxygen. Baby was apparently not getting enough air and its heartbeat had dropped to below 100 beats a minute. “Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth”, DH said. Well, this came naturally with all my Hypnobabies practice. The third thing that motivated me to try something different was that my doctor was looking, quite frankly, bored. I asked him, “Am I weak pusher?”. “Yes”, he replied, “You’re a weak pusher”. (Hey, I asked). I turned the volume down on my ipod, and said to him “OK, so please tell me how to push”.
Seeing my determination to get the baby out, my doctor coached me on the delivery table with classic Lamaze pushing technique “There’s a con***ction coming” (He had to tell me this because as I mentioned earlier, I couldn’t feel the onset or subsiding of my pressure waves, only the pressure at the peak). “Now take a deep breath….and….PUSH 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. 10 now RELAX”… “Breathe again…and now PUSH…”. Now while I was listening to the doctor, I had Kerry’s voice in my ears, DH with his hand firmly on my shoulder giving me PEACE and RELAX cues and the doctor instructing me for pushing. I felt like I had this whole team of people on my side, encouraging me and cheering me on.
It might be TMI, but what felt really good while I was pushing, was for the doctor or an attendant to push, with a cloth, against my anus, as kind of counterpressure. (I asked my doctor about it later and he said it was to help prevent haemorrhoids, and I’m happy to say it seems to have worked.)
At 12.18am, on November 7, 2009, my beautiful daughter entered this world.
As soon as my baby was out, I ripped out my earphones and tossed my ipod to the side. But word to the wise: If your doctor has to leave you to perform an emergency C-section, then returns 2 hours later to do an internal check and finds a tiny tear that he wants to stitch up, you might want to keep those Hypno tracks handy. I didn’t, and ended up begging the doctor to let me heal naturally, to which he relented. I hadn’t thought of using hypnosis for any part of afterbirth.
HOW HYPNOBABIES HELPED ME
I credit Hypnobabies for so many things:
* My practise sessions really helped me relax during my pregnancy and increased my confidence for this baby, not to mention future ones.
* I was able to stay relaxed and comfortable for all of my labouring and birthing time. Furthermore, I was lucid throughout transition and delivery, the two phases I thought would be the most challenging. Also, because I had been so relaxed up until delivery, I had saved up enough energy for pushing and was not completely exhausted by the end of it.
* DH did not see me suffer. He was worried about the unavailability of drugs with me being a first-time mother, and though he was sceptical at first, he is now a true believer in hypnosis for childbirth. What little practice we did was very helpful in the end.
* Marisa is a very calm and easily contented child. She doesn’t cry very much and then only when she needs something. I know it’s still early days, but for now, she appears very relaxed, a true Hypnobaby.
* My doctor was so impressed with my relaxed state during labour and delivery, he asked if this program was available or would be available in Japanese. He said he wanted to promote this idea amongst Japanese women who are really given no other alternative than to grit and bear it. So Kerry, if you happen to read this, Japan needs Hypnobabies please!
Finally, to all women still considering whether to try hypnosis for childbirth, I highly recommend Hypnobabies. I used the home study course, with great success, and will definitely be using it for my future babies.
To those women that are currently using the program, good luck with your birthing day!! Choose to use your hypnosis tools and enjoy your experience, as I did.
Love, Seta, DH and Marisa