“How to stay calm during labor and delivery…” I typed into Google the day I turned 35 weeks pregnant. It was 4am, both my cats were laying next to me in bed, boyfriend working the midnight shift and sometime after my 4th trip to the bathroom to pee, my mind started to wander to thoughts of childbirth — so, cue the pregnancy-hormone induced anxiety attack, right?
For me, my focus was not so much on “only having positive vibes”, and I still remain very realistic about the fears, risks and natural pain that comes with childbirth…but I wanted to find a way to learn how to cope with those [very common] negative vibes and fears. (Especially having a baby abroad, in a country I’m foreign to, not surrounded by as much of my friends and family as I’d like).
I stumbled across the terms “natal hypnotherapy” and “hypno-birthing” during this 4am quest for self-assurance, and it appealed to me right away.
WHAT IS NATAL HYPNOTHERAPY AND WHY HAVE I DECIDED TO GIVE IT A TRY?
Hypno-therapy is actually used in many different areas of meditation and counseling. As someone who has worked in the social work/counseling field, I had actually come across the term before but had never looked further into it.
The more I read, the more I liked the concept. And the more I realized how the word “hypnosis” was probably throwing people WAY off. I started to realize just how much society and the media has influenced how we think of “hypnosis.”
Almost everything I thought about hypnosis was almost completely wrong. Call me naive, but the first thing I used to think of when I heard the word “hypnosis” would be some magician who gets laughs by “making” his volunteer cluck like a chicken while standing on one leg and when they come “out of their trance”, they are stuck having no idea what happened to them or why everyone is making chicken noises at them. (Okay, maybe I’ve watched one too many magician movies…) but you get my point – there is a certain way people think of hypnosis and it tends to be in a bit of a gimicky/negative light.
The idea behind hypno-birthing is to allow and teach yourself how to release yourself from the (very common) fears and anxieties you might have surrounding childbirth.
Hypnobirthing classes are usually a full educational program that teach simple/specific self-hypnosis, relaxation, meditation and breathing techniques that will later aid you in having a calm birthing experience.
As my due date drew closer, I realized that all those fears and nerves were right at the surface, feeling so fresh and over-powering during the last few weeks of pregnancy – it’s all I could think about.
“How much will this hurt?
Will I be able to even DO this?
What medical interventions will be needed?
How long will I labor? How long will I push?”
The questions flooded my mind. Between having to wake up to switch positions to get comfortable and make trips to the bathroom every few hours, I realized I was getting less and less sleep at the time marched on. I had always been so excited to have a baby but as the days drew closer, I seemed to get more and more anxious about it all. This was really quickly draining the excitement out of my last few weeks of pregnancy. So, I dove into the world of hypno-therapy with a relatively open mind.
HOW I STARTED WITH HYPNO-THERAPY — I started with some Youtube videos. Listening to these audio tracks every night before bed, after about a week I noticed that I was falling asleep a lot easier and waking up a lot less afraid of the whole childbirth experience. Most of the time, when I couldn’t sleep, I’d put on a hypno-therapy track, lose myself in it and within a few minutes I’d be falling asleep. (A few times my boyfriend actually had to shut my laptop for me because I’d fallen asleep listening to these meditative, relaxing tracks.)
MY INITIAL THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS ON CHILD-BIRTH
Although my boyfriend and I decided to have this baby and were actively trying to conceive, I look back at pre-pregnancy me and I just giggle – because what did I know about pregnancy and child-birth back then? Absolutely nothing. I’d heard stories, we’d talked through our financial/personal situations, I’d read books on becoming parents…but nothing can really prepare you for pregnancy and birth quite like actually being pregnant and actually giving birth.
I remember the doctor telling me my due date was December 20, and in my mind, I immediately subtracted about a week and a half from that. I’m not sure if it was because we had been trying to conceive and I knew my own calculations, or if it was just hopeful thinking that our baby would arrive early – but for some reason I had it in my mind that I’d have my baby way before his due date. I was absolutely convinced.
Maybe this is why, throughout my whole pregnancy, I was relatively calm…up until about week 36. Thinking he could show up at any minute, my mind started to race. I joined a ton of pregnancy/new mom groups on various social media sites, I researched things like hypno-therapy classes and I began to ask every single woman I knew about their birth stories (hoping to only hear positive, short labored stories).
Fast forward to week 40 and my baby still hasn’t made his grand entrance into the world. The waiting is definitely taking a toll on my mind (not to mention putting a crazy strain on my body!). All of a sudden, thoughts about induction and c-sections are clouding my mind and the “fear” that so commonly surrounds childbirth is more prominent.
It’s totally natural to go through “phases” – from being absolutely terrified, to feeling excited and impatient, to feeling like you can’t do this and the baby will just have to stay in there … I’ve felt them all (sometimes all within the same day!)
What appealed to me most about hypno-birthing classes is that it’s something I could DO, all through the rest of my pregnancy right up until the birth. It’s something that’s natural and empowering – and more importantly it’s something that I can DO. It’s an interactive way to prepare your mind and body for the challenges of birth. Your body becomes a host to your baby when you’re pregnant – you find yourself giving up things you love (like beer or wine) and spending all your time shopping for that perfect nursery set.
It’s really easy to forget that preparing YOURSELF for baby is important, too – and a natal hypno-therapy class gives you a chance to express your fears, doubts and insecurities while preparing your mind to calm itself during the stressful times labor and delivery can bring.
I am really hopeful about handling my labor and delivery with the help of natal hypno-therapy because, from the very beginning of this pregnancy, my mind has surprised me in it’s ability to relax me in situations I normally find incredibly stressful. As someone who is prone to frequent anxiety attacks and is not at all good with needles, hospitals or any idea of pain – handling the needles, blood-work and countless doctors check ups has been so much easier than I thought.
Originally, I thought “it’s all for my baby” and that’s why I’m powering through it. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that my mind was totally at ease because I was the one putting it at ease. With meditative prenatal yoga and positive affirmations before every appointment, I realized I was slowly changing how I reacted to certain situations I usually found really stressful.
So, with that in mind, I ended up finding a course that sounded absolutely wonderful, and I enrolled in it with an open mind.
HOW I CHOSE A NATAL HYPNO-THERAPY COURSE — Something about striving for a calming, mind over body, almost meditative child-birthing experience really appealed to me and I thought “this could work for ME, too, if I gave it a try…”
I began to research courses and, through an affiliate program I use for this blog, I found a natal-hypno therapy course out of the UK. After reading more into this specific course, I decided I liked it and applied for the program (which involved a free trial of the course in exchange for a blog post/review about it). I was approved, and have already started my course (spoiler alert: I am LOVING it so far.)
**As always, a little disclaimer – I did get a trial of the full course in exchange for posting a review on this blog about this particular natal hypn0-therapy course. And, as always, my opinions are 100 % my own. I will be honest with you all about this course, how I liked it, what I used, what I didn’t use and how it affected my overall pregnancy and birthing experiences.
So, stay tuned in the new year for a FULL description and review on Maggie Howel’s NATAL HYPNO-BIRTHING course. I will also be posting my birthing story (if this baby ever decides to make his appearance!!), and how the course helped me in the delivery room.
WISH ME LUCK, I’M GOING TO HAVE A BABY! (HOPEFULLY, SOON.)