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So What Is HypnoBirthing, Anyway?

hypnoWhen I envision giving birth at home the one thing that scares me the most is not being able to tolerate the pain.

I have a vivid memory of having a contraction while giving birth to my daughter and the pain was so intense I figured I must be dilated to a ten. When I asked the nurse she said, “You’re at a two, hon.”

I got the epidural.

I keep thinking about that pain when contemplating giving birth naturally to my third child and then I realized something; I have no idea what natural labor feels like. None. I was induced with both of my first pregnancies.

According to Childbirth.org, using Pitocin to induce leads to stronger, longer labor pains. “Oxytocin, your body’s natural hormone, is secreted in bursts. However, when you are given Pitocin you are placed on a regulated intravenous pump, to regulate the amount of Pitocin to a steady flow. Therefore, Pitocin-induced contractions are different from your body’s natural contractions, in strength and effect.”

About 80% of women who have had Pitocin say that there is more pain with Pitocin than without. Unlike natural contractions, you do not get the slow build up with Pitocin-induced contractions – hence my intense pain while only being dilated to a two.

In essence, this third pregnancy, my last baby, will be my first “real” childbirth. The first time I will go into labor on my own, have contractions on my own. It’s exciting. And a little bit scary. That’s why I want to go into labor fully equipped with the knowledge and comfort that my body knows what it’s doing because fear leads to pain.

My midwife said something that stuck with me the other day. I was expressing my fear of the pain I’ll experience during labor. I’ll summarize her response:

Basically she explained how we are accustomed to being afraid when our bodies experience pain because pain is usually an indicator that something is wrong, that our life is in danger. With labor pains, however, everything is generally going as it should and we need to prepare ourselves to realize that the pain is a good thing, the pain is helping us bring the baby out of our body. Endorphins are stronger than morphine so if we stay calm and let our bodies know the pain is a good thing, not life threatening, we should be able to relax and let the body do what it’s supposed to do.

So while I have accepted that the pain is a good thing I’m still scared to feel it. Enter HypnoBirthing. A birthing technique that teaches women that by eliminating fear and tension, physical suffering does not have to be part of the birthing experience.

You hear HypnoBirthing and you think of hypnosis. But you’re not hypnotized during childbirth, not sleeping, no mustached man waving a gold pocket watch in front of you, just in a deep state of relaxation. Maybe even separating your mind from your body and the pain it’s feeling.

According to WebMD, “Hypnobirthing teaches women how to hypnotize themselves to manage their labor, helping them to relax and let their bodies take over. The theory is that, in the absence of fear and tension, severe pain does not have to accompany labor. In this calm state, endorphins — naturally occurring chemicals in the body that can relieve pain — replace the stress hormones that contribute to pain.”

Pat Burrell, RN, a hypnobirthing therapist based in State College, Pa., tells WebMD, “Other childbirth processes approach pain as a given and try to find ways to deal with pain, from medication to massage, but hypnobirthing teaches women to transform the sensation of pain so that it feels like something else,” she says. “The healthiest way to deliver a baby is to be very relaxed and allow the body to do it. Once labor begins, it has its own momentum and mom really doesn’t need to do much of anything.”

It is, quite simply, mind over matter.

Some may find HypnoBirthing techniques a little out there but there is no downside to preparing for a calm, controlled childbirth. We’ve been so conditioned to view childbirth as a chaotic rush to the hospital involving sweaty, angry women screaming in agony and begging for drugs. But, just as you’re in control of your outlook in life and your attitude each day, you’re also in control of the mood and environment surrounding your baby’s birth. Empower yourself.

Click here if you’d like to find a HypnoBirthing practitioner in your area.

Did you have a natural childbirth? What helped you get through it?

Read more from Monica on Babble:

Image source: Monica Bielanko

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