My first son was born nearly 6 years prior to Abram’s birth. He was exactly 14 days overdue by the time he was born. I used Hypnobirth (Mongan method) during my pregnancy to prepare and also hired a Hypnobirthing doula. My birthing time began in a freestanding birth center. I stayed there for 24 hours. By the time I transferred to the hospital I had been “birthing” for about 30 hours. I was physically exhausted and desperately needed some rest. I received pitocin and an epidural. I was finally able to rest and sleep some. My son was born after 46 hours of total labor. It had been difficult due to the exhaustion, but was overall a very pleasant experience. I really enjoyed the actual “pushing” and felt absolutely elated when he was finally born. Although I really dreaded going to the hospital, the experience was still very wonderful. My doctor did not insist that I have a c-section even though many other doctors would have at that point. He gave me time and allowed me to rest and I was able to successfully push out a 9 lb. 4 oz. baby boy without even a tear or episiotomy. My recovery was wonderful and easy. I truly believed that without the hypnosis preparation I had my very long first birth would have been unbearable and probably ended in a c-section. My ability to cope with the difficulty had definitely been improved by my relaxation practice throughout pregnancy.
My second birth was starting out much the same way as my first. This time I had prepared with the Hypnobabies program since about the 20th week of pregnancy. I used the homestudy course. The preparation was much more thorough and I felt much more prepared and confident. I hired a Hypnobabies instructor to come to my house and go through a “birth rehearsal” with my birth team. It was really helpful for all of us. I think it really helped my birth team feel comfortable and prepared. My friend Kathleen served as my “doula”. She had not ever had a homebirth or used hypnosis, but she was very willing to be supportive and help me however she could. My husband served as my main support and helped throughout the pregnancy reading me scripts. My friend Jason was also on my “birth team”. My hypnosis sessions and visualization of the birth always focused on having a “comfortable and quick birth”. I was especially focused on this because of the long first birth I had experienced with my first son.
My son was “due” on May 29th. He did not arrive until 17 days later on June 15th. We planned a homebirth with a CNM. I was getting very tired of waiting and the pressure of needing to get the baby out due to him being so “overdue” was getting to be very emotionally difficult. Our midwife said that on the 15th we would need to start encouraging him to come out. We decided that a prostaglandin gel on the cervix would be the best way to do this. Our midwife is also a Naturopathic physician so she was able to use the gel at her office and then send us home. We had been trying any other means possible up to this point to encourage him to begin his birthing time. However, I did absolutely refuse to use castor oil! I am still very glad that I did.
At 1:15 p.m. she applied the prostaglandin gel on my cervix and told me to roll over on my side for 15 minutes to let it stay there for awhile. As soon as I rolled over I saw my belly “drop” about six inches. It was astonishing. I saw my husband’s eyes get big and I asked, “Did you see that?” He said yes and we both sat in wonder of what would happen next. By the time I got off the table I was starting to feel pressure waves. The waves were coming about every 2 minutes. This was shocking and I got a little nervous about making it home. The drive was about an hour to our house. I listened to the hypnosis tracks on my MP3. The car ride was slightly uncomfortable, but my hypnosis put me right into a relaxed state. When we got home I relaxed in bed and listened to my MP3. My husband had called our birth team and his parents. By the time I got in bed the pressure waves were already becoming more sparse and less intense. I became a little discouraged and wondered if this was the beginning of another long birth.
My friend Kathleen arrived at 4:15. She documented the birth and in her notes she wrote that when she arrived I was leaning over the exercise ball and my pressure waves were consistent, but she and my husband were having a hard time of knowing how intense they were. I was very relaxed and my hypnosis practice seemed like second nature. The pressure waves were easy and I sometimes talked right through them or just breathed through them. I ate a little bit and about 5:30 we went for a walk. The waves were about 2 minutes apart and 40 seconds long. We kept in touch with my midwife regularly on the phone.
By 7:00 p.m. we went for a walk again. The waves were becoming fewer and seemed weaker. This was very discouraging. My midwife suggested that I use the breast pump she had sent home with me in order to stimulate the oxytocin and encourage the pressure waves to come on stronger. I ate some dinner and by 8:15 I started pumping. By this time my mother-in-law was there too. We all sat down and watched a movie while I sat on the couch and used the electric pump on my breasts. I used the pump for 20 minutes and then rested for 20 minutes. I had a little bit of “leaking” so I got some towels to sit on. By 9:56 I felt a huge “pop” like a balloon had burst inside of me. We called the midwife again. I definitely felt the pressure waves become stronger. This was the start of my “active” birthing time.
I went to the bathroom and checked the fluid. My husband met me there and gave me my “relax” cues which cued my hypnosis. I remember saying I felt a little pushy. He told me, “No you’re not”…. “Just ‘relax’”. I was a little confused because things seemed to be happening fast. I asked to get the birth tub filled up at 10:24 p.m… I leaned over my birth ball in the living room while my friend read my scripts and rubbed my back. I used my “finger drops” and relaxed beautifully. By 10:45 I was in the pool. It was hastily filled up. It wasn’t quite full enough with air or water, but I really wanted to get in and relax in the water. I leaned over the sides and tried to relax, but the sides were so low and that position was just not comfortable. I was feeling nauseous. At 10:54 I asked my husband to get in behind me so I could sit and lean against him. This position was lovely and really comfortable. The midwife was on her way. They said she’d be here in two minutes. This helped me feel confident. I knew my “lifeguard” would be here soon. My husband faithfully repeated phrases which helped me in my hypnosis. I stayed in “center switch” and kept repeating my “peace” cue to myself. This really helped me stay calm and comfortable. I could feel myself pushing. It wasn’t something that I could stop. My body knew exactly what to do. My husband could hear me pushing and was afraid it was too early. Of course he was also afraid because the midwife had not arrived yet. His calm and steady repetition of the word “relax” began to get more impatient and loud. He was basically yelling at me to “relax”!! It didn’t matter to me because my body was just doing what it had been trained to do. I knew everything was okay and felt confident that I could trust my body.
At 11:00 Abram’s head was out. The only way I knew that for sure was that my friend Kathleen had jumped into the pool to support his head with her hands. She said something comforting to me and spoke in a really calm voice. I’m not sure exactly what she said, but her eyes said everything I needed to know. In a single instance Kathleen and I communicated something that will never be able to be articulated in words. She passed on comfort, strength and confidence in a single eye to eye gaze. That look is probably a look women have given to each other for millennia as they leaned on each other for support during those moments when a child’s birth was eminent. It’s a look that is a cheer and a hug and a prayer all at once. I can never adequately describe it nor will I ever forget it as long as I live. I wish every woman could have a moment like that. That moment was transformative and healing. It is one of the many gifts I received during this birth and I feel blessed that I could have that kind of experience.
Kathleen held the head until my midwife arrived. She arrived at 11:01 p.m. and about two pushes later Abram was born at 11:05 p.m… He was 9 lbs. 14 ozs. And 21 inches long.
The entire “active” portion of my birthing time was about one hour long. I was very thankful that I planned a homebirth because I’m not sure I would have made it in time to deliver at a hospital. I truly believe my hypnosis and my visualization made my birth very quick and easy. I had an intact perineum and never felt any discomfort, only pressure. Evidently it was so peaceful and calm that my birth team really had no idea how quickly my birth was progressing. They were shocked when the head came out because I was so calm and relaxed. It was the ideal birth.
I am such a believer in hypnosis. I think the Hypnobabies program really prepared me for my ideal birth. I had a safe, peaceful, and life changing birth that I will always remember. I wish that every woman could have this kind of experience. It is an experience that makes you thankful to be a woman.
I look forward to attending my friend Kathleen’s birth next May. She is having a homebirth and using Hypnobabies. We will again get to experience the amazing journey of birth together. What a gift!!