Way back in March, I posted about hypnosis and childbirth. It’s been a while since I talked about that, so I wanted to give you all an update on how that’s going.
Long story short: It’s awesome!
I selected the Hypnobabies method of hypnotic childbirth, and at this time I have completed the home study course. Just this week I started in on the maintenance part of the program.
The course itself is easy and pleasant to go through. The book is divided into 5 lessons with each lesson building off the previous one. For the hypnosis part, the hypnosis tracks (which are on CDs that you just lay back and listen and follow along with) start by simply teaching you very basic, guided visualization and self-hypnosis. From there, the tracks build on that until you learn to put yourself into hypnosis using what they call the finger drop technique.
The finger drop technique is a cue that you train your mind to accept that triggers you to go into deep relaxation and hypnosis. This is the backbone of the program and one of the main tools I will use during my birthing time.
Hypnobabies is big on associations and cues. It’s basic operant conditioning when you think about it. You simply teach your mind to react in a specific way to a specific stimulus.
For Hypnobabies, those stimuli (cues) include the finger drop, where you bring your finger down like switching off a light switch, and words such as “release” and “peace.” Every hypnosis track starts the same way and has the same music, so I have also learned to associate the voice of the woman reading and the music with the feelings of deep relaxation.
At first, entering the hypnosis feels a little challenging. The mind wanders and it’s hard to really relax. Hypnobabies plans for this, and because I listen to the tracks over and over and because the association cues are consistent from track to track, it becomes easier every time I try.
In addition to the new associations that Hypnobabies is teaching me, they’re also working to disassociate old feelings about childbirth. As a part of this, Hypnobabies uses its own vocabulary to help you disassociate pain from childbirth. Here are a few examples that you will see me start using in future posts about birth (old word=hypnobabies word):
- Labor=birthing time: Doesn’t the word labor just sound difficult and unpleasant? Birthing time is just so much more pleasant to say.
- Contractions=pressure waves: Everyone knows contractions hurt, right? We’ve all seen the movies. Pressure waves though? That doesn’t sound so bad. And if you’ve been in the ocean, you know you can ride waves, let them carry you, flow with them. It’s exhilarating. When you fight ocean waves things get difficult and out of control, but when you dive into them, go deep, and let them carry you, they will move you and take you places.
- Transition=transformation: Transition. That’s that part in the movies where the woman starts screaming at her husband, right? Pretty scary. Transformation feels better to say. It’s less frightening to think about.
Hypnobabies also does not use the word “pain” in any discussions on childbirth.
By dissociating birth from fear inducing words, Hypnobabies teaches you to better handle the intensity of the moment and embrace it with joy instead of shrinking back with fear. In fact, the very first class talks about the cycle of fear and how that can actually slow down and prevent your body from doing the work it needs to do. Clenching muscles and panic do not make it easier to birth a baby!
Lest you thing Hypnobabies is just a bunch of CD tracks, let me assure you. It’s not. The home study course takes you through a complete childbirth education. They talk about interventions and risks vs. benefits, stages of birthing, etc. We took Bradley classes when I was pregnant with the Grasshopper, so most of this is review. However, if you are a first time mom, you will still get the information you need to help you navigate the birth process from a practical and intellectual standpoint.
So far, I’m loving Hypnobabies (if you couldn’t tell!). I fall asleep every single time I listen to a track, which is apparently not a problem at all, and when I wake up in the mornings, I feel so much better. I feel better rested, more confident, and just generally happier. When I wake up at night, I use my finger drop technique to help me go back to sleep quickly. When I had blood drawn at the midwifery appointment, I was able to use the finger drop technique to relax and get through it in a calm and peaceful way.
I’m excited to see how it works out during my birthing time.
Here’s another cool thing: Hypnobabies sells individual hypnosis tracks for a variety of different purposes. I’ve already ordered Needles are Ok! to help me deal with my needle-related fears, but there are lots of others that are intriguing: Baby Come Out, Breastfeeding Success, Peaceful Sleep Now for All, etc.
Hint: If you “Like” Hypnobabies on Facebook, you can buy the CDs and MP3s there at a reduced cost! That’s what I did!
There is one that I will never buy, however: Eliminate Nausea Now.
I do not think this CD would be at all appropriate for someone suffering from HG. Aside from the very definite fact that there is absolutely nothing about HG that is psychological or in the mind, think back to what I said about associations. The temptation might be there for a desperate HGer to give this a shot. To me this seems like a very, very bad idea.
Trust me when I say that associations are powerful. Heck, I was into Firefly when the hyperemesis gravidarum started to hit. Simply watching that as the nausea started to build has been enough for me to associate this show and everything about it with nausea. The theme song, the title sequence, and the voices of the characters have become triggers for me. Heck, it was all I could do to link to that Wikipedia article and write this paragraph.
You do not want this kind of association built for your childbirth method!
The last thing you need to have is an association with fear and vomiting when you hear the Hypnobabies music and the woman’s voice starting to read the scripts. I think that the possibility in an HGer directly relating the hypnosis techniques for intractable nausea is a strong one. This is why I choose to stay away from this track.
This track is probably great for women with morning sickness, but I doubt it would help an HGer and the potential for harm is definitely there. It’s simply not worth the risk in my mind.
That said, the entire Hypnobabies experience has really left me feeling empowered. I’m looking forward to a beautiful birth. I’m excited about joyfully welcoming this new baby into the world!