After my oldest son was born in what was considered a 'natural birth', I had a lot of fear and self doubt concerning birthing again. When I was pregnant with my second, I found HypnoBirthing. I practiced and prepared myself for my birth. I felt like I had discovered the truth about my birthing abilities. That was an incredible birth, exhilirating, relaxing, and empowering. It was a gift that I felt every woman deserved. I had the wonderful fortune of studying the teachers course of HypnoBirthing with the founder and author, Marie Mongan. For the past six years I have been able to share this precious gift with many couples and have been present at beautiful births. I was able to use the HypnoBirthing technique again when my precious daughter was born at home three years ago. I have discovered my calling; helping women find their power in birth.
When our babies are growing inside of us, they are not only growing physically, they are developing their emotional makeup as well. Recently medicine and science have become aware that our unborn babies are not unfeeling beings that only begin to feel emotions once they can express them. A person's emotional makeup is developed within the womb. The mother's emotions during pregnancy and the state of mind that she is in can impact the emotional and mental state of her baby. This stage of a human being's development is called the imprint stage. What the baby experiences in the womb can strongly affect him or her for the rest of his or her life.
In our society, birth is depicted in a traumatic and scary light. We are exposed to movies and TV shows and stories of horrific birthing experiences. We hear about our mother's 36 hour labor and our best friend's emergency C-Section. When our time comes we are being told by women in supermarket lines how they got induced because their body just never went into labor. Women who give birth naturally, they'll say, are either crazy or have a high pain tolerance. Women are fed and bred on fear of labor and birth.
How does fear affect labor? Our sympathetic nervous system's reaction to fear is the Fight or Flight response. The body sends a signal that causes the blood to flow away from our non-emergency systems to our limbs. The blood flow to our non-emergency systems is restricted. The uterus is a non-emergency organ, and therefore, blood flows away from the uterus to the brain, eyes, ears, arms and legs and the blood vessels and arteries constrict. In turn, the cervix becomes taut and white, not opening easily in response to the drawing up of the uterus in labor. This is the state that most women labor and birth in: in fear. They are afraid because they were taught to be afraid. They are afraid of complications, they are afraid of pain, they are afraid of how much worse it can get or how much longer it can take. This fear leads them into the down spiraling cycle of fear, leading to tension, and the tension leading to pain. And the pain causes more fear and on and on it goes.
There is a different way! Fear not! Our bodies are created to get pregnant, grow babies, and give birth to them. When we realize that our bodies know how to do this, really know how to do this, then we begin to have faith in ourselves, in our bodies. Our faith, when rehearsed and repeated, becomes a strong and solid belief. We are joyful as labor begins; welcome each wave and surge of labor with peace, joy and a deep breath, knowing that we are coming closer and closer to meeting our baby. We see how our uterus is nourished by healthy oxygenated blood, and how our soft cervix is responding to labor by drawing open easily and gently, creating a path for our baby to slide down. The birth path is pliable due to the relaxed state we are in, creating a smooth and easy passage for our baby to come into this world unrestricted, and our body remains intact and undamaged by the process. Sounds like a dream, right?
Now picture how wonderful it must be for our babies, spending their months in the womb nourished by our deep breathing, our self confidence. They grow feeling their mother's belief in herself, which causes them to believe in themselves. They grow in an environment that exudes calm and love. Many mothers of HypnoBirthing babies tell how their babies are peaceful and calm and sleep and nurse well. The relaxation that a woman feels during her pregnancy and birth continue on into the post-partum stage, giving her the relaxed joy and confidence to make good decisions for herself and her baby.
HypnoBirthing in a nutshell shows mothers how they have been affected by the society image of birth until now. And then it draws a different picture. HypnoBirthing give mothers the tools to release their fears and concerns and limiting thoughts, and take back their natural power to birth. Mothers then use the tools of deep breathing, guided imagery, and self-hypnosis to solidify their belief and create a strong imprint on their subconscious. When labor comes along, HypnoBirthing mothers will respond to labor with their breath, with their positive imagery, and with the support of their partners, who are by their sides creating and protecting a peaceful, safe and calm environment for the birthing mother to remain in. The mother believes in herself, and her partner believes in her and can encourage and remind her how powerful she is in moments that she may look to him for support.
In HypnoBirthing, mothers are reminded how to do what they naturally know how to do, to let go and allow their birthing bodies to take the lead role. They watch with awe and joy how the strong and powerful energy of labor moves through their body. They breathe calmly, surrendering to the intense power of labor, releasing mentally and emotionally. Then, at the magical moment that their baby is ready to be born, they go into a deep primal stage and release completely and allow the moment of birth to be a magical and miraculous moment of complete faith, an end and a beginning. The completion of the cycle that began at conception without pain, meeting with a huge surge of the love hormones that a mother, uninhibited by fear and distraction, feels for her new baby, without pain.
Moriel Zacks is a HypnoBirthing practitioner and doula.