Thursday 6 December 2012

Why HypnoBirthing Works

I knew about HypnoBirthing from an unexpected source.  My colleague and I were pregnant at the same time.  She was seriously considering elective caesarean, traumatized by a graphic birth video back in school of a laboring woman screaming in extreme agony.  I was already blogging about natural birth at that time and of course I tried to impart the opposite.  I reassured her that a woman’s body was designed intuitively to give birth and  has the capacity to manage pain.  If that did not work, I outlined how studies have shown anything but good.

So I was pleasantly surprised when I received a call from her one day saying she was going for natural birth.  Knowledge is indeed power!  She did her own research and was convinced that drug-free is the best and safest way to give birth to her baby.  To help her prepare, she is taking HypnoBirthing® classes at ParentLink.  It is a method that helps create a relaxed, safer and easier birthing using hypnosis techniques.

That certainly perked my interest.  I was not a stranger to hypnosis.  Back in college, I was suffering from chronic migraines triggered by endless and sleepless nights that architecture is notoriously known for.   Worried from taking regular painkillers (with dosage getting stronger by the day), I was very eager to try an alternative when I chanced upon a book entitled “The Complete Book of Self-Hypnosis” by John M. Yates, M.D., and Elizabeth S. Wallace, which has this to offer:

“Learn how to make your body and mind work for you and not against you. Free yourself of those nagging ailments, fears, and problems that take up too much time and pain in your life.”

While some might be skeptic about self-hypnosis, which conjures an unsuspecting patient being manipulated by a hypnotist, I was not.  Contrary to popular belief, all hypnosis are SELF-hypnosis.  Hypnosis can only work with the person’s consent.  In short, it is self-induced.  You need to be able to concentrate and visualize well in order to be effective.  And thank goodness for that, I survived those mind throbbing and throwing up days.

Although I already gave drug-free birth to our firstborn, I really felt I could improve on the pain management part.  To be honest, I was sort of dreading the labor again now that I knew what to expect.  So to learn about hypnosis on birthing is like a prodigal daughter returning to her place of comfort.  Why did I never think of that?!

My savior in college.
HypnoBirthing at ParentLink runs 5 classes of 2 hours each for S$495, about the same cost of getting an epidural at Mt. Alvernia or more at other hospitals.  But of course, you get much more out of natural birth.  Nothing can ever replace the empowering, adrenaline-rush, raw and a miracle beyond words when you and your baby are fully alert and can instantly bond - face to face, skin to skin, smell to smell, mouth to a nipple and spend night to day.
The classes were taught by a lovely teacher, Ms. Di Bustamante.  She will be featured separately though as that alone is enough to cover another post =)  Anyway,  I have to say that I was initially disappointed since I expected the classes to focus on hypnosis techniques and drills after drills.  Instead, only half of the time was spent on that while approximately half of the other time, we were watching birth videos and getting into the inner workings of a body in labor.

What I didn’t realize then that conditioning of the mind is more important than knowing a skill.  What the mind thinks pretty much dictate how the body reacts.  And when fear of pain knocks and the mind accommodates, as I would know from experience, all breathing and visualization practice go out the window.  And that is why HypnoBirthing®  - The Mongan Method is as much a philosophy as it is a technique.

They delivered as promised when they say on their website:

“You will gain an understanding of how the birthing muscles work in perfect harmony - as they were designed to--when your body is sufficiently relaxed. You will learn how to achieve this kind of relaxation, free of the resistance that fear creates, and you will learn to use your natural birthing instincts for a calm, serene and comfortable birthing”

A book that will change how you think about birthing.

Indeed, the absence of fear could have not been emphasized more in class.  Coupled with the book “HypnoBirthing®  - The Mongan Method” to read and the relaxation CD to practice positive imagery at home - have truly prepared me mentally and watching all those women giving peaceful and natural births have engaged me emotionally.   So much so that I was actually looking forward to giving birth again.
Enough said, a picture paints a thousand words.  This is how I labored with my firstborn at 6-7cm dilation (deliberating if I should post this photo - for the sake of illustrating a point):
Yes, I also think my hubby is so mean to take this photo when I am clearly in pain.

And this is how I was on my second labor at 7-8cm dilation, deep in hypnosis:
So much the better!
It is also worthy to note that there were five (including my colleague) of us who were pregnant almost at the same time.  Three took Hypnobirthing class and went to give successful natural births while the other two who didn’t end up birthing under the knife.  Is there a correlation or purely coincidence?

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