Before becoming pregnant I knew this much about preparing for child birth: It included a lot of he-heing and whoo-whooing. Is that Lamaze? Or at least what the movies make us believe is Lamaze? I don’t know, but my initial idea of a birth plan included an epidural and possibly an induction. I hadn’t thought much about preparing my body to give birth. In fact, I hadn’t really thought of birth as something that I would do and instead had thought of it as more of something that would happen to me.
Then I watched The Business of Being Born and that changed the way I thought about birth, hospitals, doctors and the whole process of bringing another life into the world. And as cliche as this will sound, watching that movie changed the way I saw myself as a woman. Suddenly, just showing up at the hospital, getting an epidural and going through the motions of labor, which I envisioned as a screamfest `ala the Halloween movie franchise, wasn’t good enough.
And that set me out on a journey to learn more about natural birth – the way my mom and her mom and her mom, and every other female ancestor of mine has done it.
I started with my mommy friends and it turns out not many of them have had a natural birth experience. Some couldn’t because of medical complications that required induction and c-section. Some came at it from the perspective that modern medicine provides the epidural for a reason and “there’s no reason to be a hero.” Some were like me, in that they had never pictured having a natural birth.
But one of my friends (shout out Jenna!) had tried a technique called hypnobirthing and she was really happy with the experience. Hypnobirthing is a method of child birth education that focuses on relaxation, self-hypnosis and birth education that builds confidence in the parents. Jenna speaks about the birth of her son in such a positive, confident way that I knew I had to investigate this method further.
So on Halloween Travis and I went to our first Hypnobirthing class at Peaceful Arrival. We had a private class with Sheri, a hypnobirthing teacher, DONA-certified doula, and apprentice midwife. It was the first of a series of four three hour classes and it went something like this: introductions, Sheri’s birthing story, information about the Mongan Method, breathing exercises and culminated with a few hypnobirthing videos.
My favorite part of the class was when we did a deep relaxation technique where we were supposed to envision our perfect birth. Sheri said to Travis, “You are going to give birth too. It will help you understand what she is going through.”
I’m not going to lie. I wanted to keep my eyes open just to watch Travis during this exercise. Alas, I gave in and practiced my technique (for the record it was completely relaxing). Later Travis admitted that he suffered ADD during this time of the class, which explains why his chair was creaking for the entire exercise. He also admitted that he found it hard to envision birthing a baby because Sheri kept explaining how the cervix dilates to the size of a bagel and there was no way in hell his male anatomy was ever doing that. Sigh….he was there in spirit.
At the end, we watched two hypnobirths that were pretty amazing. The women giving birth had none of the Halloween screaming I had anticipated and instead, welcomed their baby into the room with some very low moaning and even some laughing and smiles.
If you’re interested, watch this news clip about hypnobirthing. It is totally safe for work and doesn’t include any graphic birth scenes.
I’m not here to start an argument about natural versus “non-natural” birth. However, I am finding myself becoming an advocate for women having choice in pregnancy and delivery, but more on that later.