Thursday, April 5, 2012

You Are Getting Very Sleepy - How I Used Hypnosis to Prepare for Birth

photo by ryan marshall of pacingthepanicroom.blogspot.com (that's not me, by the way)

When I was pregnant with the duckling, one of the hardest things to accept, aside from feet that looked like jelly fish monsters, was not being able to plan for something as unpredictable as labor and delivery.  It's not that you don't know what happens during birth, what with all the baby books and the unsolicited war birth stories some women can't resist sharing, but rather you don't know which of the 1,750 scenarios will be yours.  Will your water break on the subway?  Will you be induced?  Will contractions really be that terrible?  Will you poop on the delivery table? What the heck is a mucus plug and will I see one?

Obviously I'm a planner.  I plan events for a living.  How does someone who, for months on end, arranges every corner of every detail of an event not get a say in the birth of their child?  Even worse, with so many scenarios I didn't want to come true, how could I keep a positive outlook in the face of an unpredictable birthing experience?

Wine was out, so I found the next best thing for me - self hypnosis.  I know, this may sound strange. And believe me, when I first started I had more than a few giggle fits as I listened to talk of "my special place", my "bubble of peace" and other mental places I was supposed to inhabit as I navigated the world of childbirth.  And when my husband would ask about my program I was uncharacteristically quiet, mostly because I was a little self-conscious about the whole thing.

But if there's one thing I don't do easily, it's quit, so I stuck with it, and somehow I even roped in my husband to the point where he downloaded some of the tracks to listen to on a flight to New Zealand.  At night before bed (which was my hypnosis practice time slot of choice), I had to remind my husband more than once that the hypnosis was, in fact, for me and that no, he couldn't start listening to the track without me (but yes, he could have his own "bubble of peace" if he wanted one).  While a lot of women use this program as a tool for a natural delivery, I was keeping an open mind about what direction I was going to take, and for once I found myself saying that I would leave the decision to myself in the moment, which is a phrase I rarely utter considering I'm the kind of person who looks up restaurant menus online so I can decide ahead of time what I want to order for dinner that night when we go out to eat.  

How did it all work out in the end?  I had an awesome birth.  Can I credit my relaxation program for that? Who's to say if I would've had an identical labor without it, but it definitely didn't hurt.  Was I relaxed?  I certainly felt calm and in control, but I'd also say the epidural I got at 5 centimeters helped.  Did I feel 100% okay with all of the above?  Absolutely.  I was able to let go of any expectations for or pressure on myself, which was really helpful in staying calm and confident throughout the birth. 

The craziest part?  I actually went into the birth feeling (drumroll, please) prepared.  Through the program I learned to accept the unpredictable, remain positive, trust my body and know that no matter path we ended up taking, that the finish line at the end of each was the same - being able to give our baby a big kiss and wish him a very happy birth day. 

my baby's birth day

Here's a link to the program in case you're interested.  This isn't a paid post, just my reflections on a resource that worked for me.  In fact, I just started the program up again in preparation for my next birth, so if you want to start now too, we can giggle together about our bubbles of peace and lightswitches.

PS - I'm "off" tomorrow for the long weekend, so wishing you a Happy Easter, a Happy Pesach and maybe a Happy Hour or two.

Mwah. XO.

UPDATE: Turns out it was in my cards to give birth to a baby without an epidural after all.  You can read that birth story here.

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