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Hypnobirthing: Why we did it and why you might consider it too

This post is going to be a little different than what I usually post on Rabbit Funds. Though, I hope that it will still be useful for my readers. My wife and I recently had our third child – Xander (yes, I am a dork and had a website for him up within hours of his birth). Unlike our two girls that were birthed using traditional methods and epidurals, we chose to take an all-natural alternative with Xander (pictured yawning below).

Several of my friends have asked why we would choose to be unmedicated. I hope to answer that question with this post.

Baby Xander

First, hypnobirthing is a philosophy

More than just focusing on pain management, hypnobirthing focuses on the overall experience and health of mom and baby. It’s about creating an experience that produces bonding, good health and joy. Further, the medical establishment treats birthing as a medical emergency. However, moms have been having babies for a long time without the aid of modern medicine. The body knows how to birth. Hypnobirthing is about returning to a natural, normal and healthy way to birth without often unnecessary medical intervention.

To better explain, I’ll break some of the advantages down by the stages of pregnancy.

Benefits during pregnancy

First, hypnobirthing teaches that the baby inside of you is not just a fetus or embryo, but rather a living human being. He or she is already a baby who needs nurturing. For my wife, this meant a change in thinking. She spent time bonding with the baby in her womb. For example, hypnobirthing includes affirmation scripts and exercises that focus on connecting with the unborn child.

By creating a bond with the child in the womb, new mothers will find having an immediate bond with a newborn child much easier. Obviously, a lot of women are able to create this bond without a hypnobirthing course. But other women need some help.

Further, hypnobirthing trains you to go into a deep level of relaxation. Every night, mother and father spend time practicing the relaxation techniques. Mothers who are uncomfortable or already experiencing pain from the pregnancy or early contractions, will find that being relaxed every night will aide in sleeping better, feeling better and coping with pregnancy ups and downs.

Benefits during labor and delivery

Hypnobirthing is primarily designed to address pain management during labor and delivery. First, let me talk briefly about epidurals. Why not use medical intervention? Largely because it’s not needed if you have a normal, healthy pregnancy. Consider mammals for a moment. Animals do not scream and thrash and threaten during labor, yet why do humans? The uterus has one function – carry and deliver babies. None of the other organs scream out in pain while performing their natural, intended “jobs”. So the uterus shouldn’t either.

Unfortunately, the medical establishment has decided that it knows better than our bodies. If you believe in God, then would not He have designed the most optimal method for bringing life into this world? If you are an atheist, would not millions of years of evolution created the most optimal method for bringing life into this world? Either way, a mother’s body knows what to do. However, her body is not given the opportunity to do its job because women are told what to do by doctors and nurses. Although well meaning, they offer bad advice.

During labor, women can go into a state of deep relaxation where they are able to feel the pressure of contractions and progress towards delivery, but not the pain. YouTube has countless videos of women doing just that. They can do it because they’ve been taught to listen to their bodies and stop treating the event like a medical emergency.

My wife was able to experience contractions while dilated to 8 and 9 cm without the pain. She was calm and relaxed.

The other consideration with epidurals is the risk involved. My wife has scoliosis, which makes effective epidurals difficult and risky. Also, there can be adverse effects on the baby. Studies have shown that epidurals can lead to respiratory problems for the baby. My wife had an epidural with our first two children, who were immediately sent to the NICU with respiratory problems. This child was born unmedicated and experienced no problems. Chance? Possibly. Worth the risk? In our opinion, no.

Also, we were able to say no to an IV or heplock and my wife was only hooked up to the monitoring equipment for the mandatory 20 minutes. After that, she had complete mobility and freedom to shift and move as she wanted. When it came time to deliver the baby, my wife wasn’t put into the human equivalent of stirrups and forced to push (which is very counter-productive for a lot of women). She was able to find a comfortable position and deliver the baby the way her body knew how to.

Benefits after birth

Once baby is born, nurses and doctors again usually step in and create an unnatural experience that can harm the baby and mother’s bonding time. Rather than immediately wrapping the baby up, mom and baby should experience direct skin to skin contact. Further, nurses are trained to put anti-biotic goop on the child’s eyes making it impossible for the newborn to see mom.

With hypnobirthing, the baby is delivered directly to mom’s bare chest for bonding time. Our little guy was able to feed within the first few minutes of life because he wasn’t obstructed by anything. Babies who are drowsy from an epidural are less likely able to feed right after birth. An hour after birth and on his way to the nursery for his first bath, we still had the nurse apply the ointment to his eyes. The object is not to avoid beneficial medical treatment, but to say no to unnecessary treatment and to create an experience that we want – not the experience that nurses are trained to provide.

Wanting to clearly communicate our desires, we created a Birth Preference Sheet that we took to the hospital and gave to the nursing staff. We talked about our preferences during each stage Admittance, Labor, After Birth and Care of Child. For example, we asked that our baby not be given a bottle, formula or a pacifier without our consent. We asked that baby spend as much time in the room with mom as possible. Giving them a document made it quick and easy for everyone to be on the same page, no pun intended.

Is a special course really necessary?

You don’t need to take a hypnobirthing course to do much of what I mentioned above. I have spoken with women who experienced a relaxed, hypnotic like birthing experience without having been instructed on how to achieve one. But that’s kind of the point. A woman’s body knows what to do. The hypnobirthing course teaches women to listen to their body and not just do what a nurse tells you to do – no matter how well intending the nurse may be.

For my wife and I, the course was invaluable. Possibly more so for me. As men, we tend to be clueless when it comes to birthing, and lots of other things for that matter. A course can be a great way for us guys to learn how to help and support our wives. We chose to have private hypnobirth instruction, which allowed us to better tailor the course to our specific needs. For example, I am very uncomfortable watching birthing videos. So each time one was presented during the class, I was able to leave the room, go get a drink, answer some emails, etc. We weren’t pushed to do any specific thing or behave in a certain way.

Would we do hypnobirthing again?

Hard to say to be honest. I think so. We would certainly make some changes, such as having a doula or mid-wife to better help stay relaxed. Overall, this pregnancy and post-delivery experience have been hands down better than the first two. We had a happy, healthy baby boy and that’s all that matters.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. So throw in your two cents in the comments section below. Thanks.

Tags: , , , | Filed under Family, Featured

  • Chichigrizz

    I think that’s great you guys had such a great experience!  I really wanted to go natural with my last but my body won’t birth a baby any more than 6 1/2 lbs.  And since my baby was 9lbs. 1oz. I really didn’t have much of a choice but to do another c-section!  This is a great way to introduce it to people that are conflicted or have any ?’s.  Congrats on your adorable little boy!

    • Thank you very much! And I can certainly understand why you would need a c-section. 9lbs is a big baby. This child was our largest at 7lbs 15oz and he was 9 days early. Otherwise, we may have had a 9lb baby.

  • Jen Brimhall

    I’m glad you posted this.  Even though both my boys were healthy when they were born and we love our doctor, I was disapointed in both cases that I was not given the chance to hold my babies until a few hours after they were born because the nurses just took them away.  I’ve felt really…uninvolved in what happened after my boys were born and felt like the things I wanted were ignored.  This is something I’d really look into when/if we have another baby.   

    • Hey Jen,

      That’s how we felt with the first two as well. They never explain that you have options and control over the experience, especially the first time when you don’t have a clue what’s going on. There really is a lack of education about our rights as parents and patients. So definitely look into it if you have another kid. Thanks for commenting!