Following the publication of Katie’s birth story last week, I received so many well-wishes and congratulations. Thank you all so much for your support. It truly was an incredible ending to a difficult journey.
One of my friends posted a great comment, though, that I wanted to quote to kick off today’s post. Megan wrote:
So I’m reading kind of mixed reactions to the hypnobabies CDs in this post. I know that a big hope was the thinking about the process without negative words like “pain,” but it sounds like that didn’t exactly translate during labor and delivery, yeah? But at the same time you visualized the birth process almost to a T and you give some credit to hypnobabies for that. Would you say they were still beneficial, and with your experience, what recommendations would you make to someone considering them?
Really great question Megan. I started to write a reply to your comment, but I realized that the response was complicated and probably deserved its own post.
While many Hypnobabies birth stories tell of birth with no pain, Hypnobabies itself bills its method as one that allows you to birth “in comfort, joy, and love.” They talk about replacing negative words with positive words and the hope is that you won’t experience birth as painful.
Birthing Katie was certainly physically painful, and I did a whole lot of hollering. Yeah, you can call it “vocalizing” if you want, but you know me. I calls it likes I sees it. I got loud enough that I cracked a joke to my midwives about what the OB in the office next door must have thought was going on in the birth center.
Let’s be clear though. For those of you who haven’t had babies yet, pain in childbirth is absolutely nothing like pain from cutting yourself or pain from a broken bone or injury. It’s completely different. So different that I think Hypnobabies has it right when they talk about not using the p-word to describe it. If you’re an endurance athelete you can come close to relating to the type of pain that childbirth entails. Childbirth is much more like running a marathon than it is slamming your hand in a car door. Does that make sense? I think in many ways people focus too much on the pain aspect of childbirth and too little on the endurance aspect of it.
I didn’t go into the Hypnobabies expecting it to be pain-free. I couldn’t really bring myself to use the alternate vocabulary very much in real life because it felt a little hokey. What I did expect to get from the Hypnobabies childbirth method was a positive, empowering, natural birth that was free from fear and anxiety.
In that regard, Hypnobabies delivered tenfold.
Do I really believe in hypnosis? Honestly, I’m not sure. But what I do believe is that in listening to the tracks I was able to find a hidden well of confidence and power within myself that I didn’t know I had.
Leading up to this birth, I never felt anything but excited anticipation. During labor, except for those few moments right before Sue told my I was at 9 cm, I felt confident and powerful.
Unlike Gabi’s birth, which I went into with the idea of trying for a natural birth but if I need an epidural that’s okay, I went into this knowing with absolute certainty that I was not only capable of doing this but that I was going to do it. I think that self-assurance showed in my birth preferences.
Hypnobabies helped me to find that confidence.
It was incredible how closely Katie’s birth mirrored the birth I had visualized. I visualized myself having her quickly so I could get back home to Gabi and that’s exactly what I did. And really, y’all. I pushed out an 11 lb baby in 20 minutes. Damn.
Even with Hypnobabies, Katie’s birth was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. It made the half-marathon I ran look like a cakewalk. But it was also the most exhilarating and empowering thing I’ve ever done.
So, sure, Hypnobabies didn’t give me a pain-free birth. But would I use it again for myself if I were ever going to have another baby (which I’m not)? Absolutely. Would I recommend it to a friend. Definitely yes.
And for those of you who haven’t had a baby but are curious about what childbirth is like, go get yourself some running shoes and train for a marathon. That high you get at the end of a race, the mix of endorphins, adrenaline, and tired and sore muscles, is like a smaller version of the feeling you have after unmedicated childbirth.