I feel so good right now! I got my kids to bed early, then lit some aromatherapy candles, started my hypnobirthing relaxation cd, and took a nice warm bath. Aaaahhhh. . . it was so relaxing. This is the first time during this pregnancy that I've listened to my relaxation cd, and it really got me looking forward to giving birth. You may be thinking, "looking forward to giving birth? Are you crazy?!" Let me tell you, it doesn't have to be as horrible as everyone in our society says it is. In fact, the process of labor and delivery can and should be wonderful!
For those of you who don't know about hypnobirthing (which I would assume is most of my readers), let me explain a little. First off, don't let the name scare you. If you're like most people, when you think of hypnosis, you probably think of either stage hypnosis (people doing crazy and embarassing things in front of an audience while hypnotized), or you might think of scary people carrying out wicked deeds vicariously through someone they have forcefully hypnotized.
The truth is, you can't be hypnotized without your consent, and once you are in a hypnotic state, nobody can make you do anything you don't want to do. As Marie Mongan, the founder of the Hynobirthing Method explains, "With a better understanding of hypnosis today, we now know that a person in a hypnotic state is fully awake, is in an even heightened state of awarness and totally in control." All hypnosis really is is a deep state of relaxation, so don't freak out about the hypnosis part.
What I really like about the method is the underlying philosophy that birth doesn't have to be painful, nor is it a medical incident. In searching for a quote from the book, I ended up wanting to quote the entire chapter on the philosophy! It's all so good! I've narrowed it down to a few quotes, but really, you should just read the whole book. Here are some of my favorite quotes concerning the philosophy:
"Like the bodies of our sister creatures in nature, the bodies of healthy pregnant women instinctivley know how to birth, just as their bodies instinctivley know how to conceive and how to nurture the development of the babies they are carrying."
"The Hypnobirthing view of birth is that it is a natural extension of the sexuality of a man and a woman, and, therefore, we believe that birth is about them. It is about family fulfillment. . . . For birthing parents, birth is not about science; it's not about anatomy; it's not about doctors or midwives or nurses . . . it's about family-parents and their babies."
"A Hypnobirthing mother learns to embrace her body's innate knowledge of birthing, to relax into her birthing process, working with her body and her baby . . . The result is a truly rewarding and satisfying birth experience, with the entire family, including the baby, being awake, alert and calm, yet energized."
I used Hypnobirthing techniques with my second son, and I can honestly say that it was an awesome experience. It was not completely pain free, and was certainly a lot of work, but it wasn't the horror that our society makes birth out to be. For the most part, it was a peaceful and calm experience. I attribute the relatively small amount of pain and distress I did feel to my lack of practicing my relaxation techniqes.
My first delivery, however, was the horror I expected it to be. I had not yet learned about hypnobirthing, and fully expected labor and delivery to be the most painful and horrible thing I had ever experienced. And it was. The joy of bringing my son into this world was clouded by pain, fear, and drugs (I had an epidural). The following weeks were dark days I don't wish to remember. While I know that there were other factors that played into the stark contrast between the two births (my first baby was considerably bigger, and he and I both had an infection), I think that my expections and preparations had a lot to do with it. Dr. Dick-Read came up with the idea of the fear-tension-pain cycle. Fear of childbirth leads to tension in the body, which leads to pain (tension also makes labor longer). Had I not been so fearful, perhaps my first son and I would have had a better experience.
It is getting late, and I need to get bed. Otherwise, I would continue my ramblings. Natural childbirth is awesome! I'm sure there are other natural childbirth methods that work well, too. I don't know how to rap this up, except to say that I am excited to give birth in a few months!!