Attempting Natural Childbirth: Hypnobirthing

As I mentioned earlier, I’m again hoping to have a natural birth. The main thing I want to change this time is the way I deal with my contractions. Last time, I fought each one to the bitter end, which was truly not fun—nor productive, I imagine. This time, I plan to get a breathing and meditation system in place ahead of time to see if the process can’t be a little less horrifically, excruciatingly, monumentally painful. Enter Hypnobirthing.

I went with this method (versus The Bradley Method, Lamaze and whatnot) simply because the doula we used (and loved) last time teaches it. We had our first class last night, in the comfort of our own home, and I’m feeling… good. A little overwhelmed. A little under pressure, remembering the pain and realizing I have to adopt an entirely new mindset to try and create the experience I want this time around. I’m committing to this. I’m just in the early stages of that commitment.

So from what I’m gathering, Hypnobirthing is all about re-framing the birth experience. My interpretation, via Doula Dawn‘s interpretation: When we go into the birth scared and expecting screaming and pain—and awfulness in general—that’s what we get. But if we educate ourselves on what, exactly, is going on with our bodies physically, then train our brains to re-interpret that experience positively, the resulting experience is gentler, quicker and a whole lot less traumatic. As a case in point, Dawn talked about those shows where people don’t realize they’re pregnant until they get a persistent stomach ache, then go to the bathroom and, whoa! Baby head! The pain leading up to the birth wasn’t as intense because the expectation of it didn’t exist.

As part of this re-framing, Hypnobirthing presents an entirely new birth vocabulary. A contraction is a “surge,” or a “wave,” for example. Those Braxton-Hicks I’ve apparently been getting are “pre-labor warm-ups.” The mucous plug and the bloody show are the “uterine seal” and the “birth show.” Both of those were past overdue for a rename, amIright?

So we learned the philosophy, the terminology and the physicality; stuff such as the different types of uterine muscles and what, exactly, they’re doing during a “surge,” and why. She ran us through a couple of meditation exercises, just to demonstrate the goal state, and she popped in a DVD featuring some Hypnobirths.

First was Mindy. The first shot showed her laying quietly on the hospital bed with her eyes closed. The second showed her laying quietly across the bed, face down, legs tucked under her. The third showed the baby quietly coming out, followed by quiet Mindy and her quiet partner sharing a quiet laugh while cuddling their newborn.

Next was Barbara. Barbara hung out in her hospital bed eating red Jell-o. When a “wave” hit her, she’d close her eyes for a few moments, not even bothering to put down the Jell-o. Again, silence. Rock on, Barbara.

This ain’t my first rodeo. I’m not expecting to breathe my way straight through a short, serene, pain-free birth. But I do want to try and do this without drugs. And I do believe in the power of meditation. And I do want to accept all available help to attain my goal.

One thing Dawn said last night that really resonated with me is that this is a new pregnancy, a new birth and a new baby. She deserves her own experience.

So for the next month, I will work on making it just that. Fresh. I’ll try and distance myself from my first birth and its many, many (many) hours of off-the-charts pain and screaming and pushing and acrobatics (all totally worth it, by the way, simply because it led to Roy). I’ll work on getting my mind on board so I can find out firsthand what that does for my body.

Yup. Here we go.



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  1. by anti jen

    On December 21, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    I freaked out like a mother trucker during Sam’s birth. With Zadie, I stayed home and read a book until the last possible minute. It helped. My version of meditation–leave the world and hit the page. You’re gonna rock it. (This post was hilarious, by the way. “Rock on, Barbara” is my new favorite phrase.)

  2. by Heather

    On December 21, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    Go Berit!