Wednesday 17 April 2013

My Hypnobirth Teacher: Ms Di Bustamante

This is the second part of my previous post “Why Hypno-birthing Works”, featuring my hypno-birth teacher, friend and mentor Ms Di Bustamante, owner and director of Parent Link. 

Di, Owner and Director of ParentLink

Meeting Di for the first time at her lovely home one Saturday afternoon in September 2011, I have to admit that I was intimidated at hello.
  She spoke with calm certainty – not the I-know-it-all sort of way but reminiscent of people driven by deep convictions.  Apparently, I wasn’t the only one.  On the way home, my husband also expressed concern that we might feel ‘pressured’ with great birth expectations and would be up for disappointment if things don’t go according to plans. 

This initial apprehension however, quickly went away as soon as we started our first class.  She could have not stressed enough on giving back the power to women on how they desire to birth, of knowing one’s comfort level when it comes to medical intervention based on informed decision, of making sure the husband is actively involved every step of the way, and of building our confidence (understanding how our bodies work) in a very loving and affirmative way. Her passion to support expecting mothers achieve empowering and peaceful births that they dream of (and deserve!) is undeniable.  I had a very good feeling then that she will become more than just a hypno-birth teacher to me.

Di teaching our husbands how to do light massage

I was absolutely right!  A year and a half later after giving successful natural birth to my second daughter, she continues to be an inspiration as I advocate natural birth, breastfeeding and natural parenting.  In fact, one of the most profound things I have learned about parenting comes from her when she shared, “If you want to change something in your child, change yourself first”.   This stuck to me and constantly reminds me that whenever I see something in my girls that need changing, I need to look at myself first.

Her life story also resonates well to a professional turned work-at-home mom like me.  After spending twenty years in administrative management with ROLM Corporation, IBM and Siemens, she made a drastic career change after the birth of her daughter.  She had spent her pregnancies on bed rest and when she arrived in Singapore as a trailing spouse, she had time to research what had happened.  The knowledge propelled her to complete a training and certification as a doula and childbirth educator with Childbirth International.  Now, she is a Regional Liaison and faculty member of Hypnobirthing Institute.

I had the privilege of catching up with her and she shares her thoughts on hypno-birthing and natural birth:

1.       Can you tell us more about ParentLink and Hypnobirthing? 

ParentLink has been around since 1998, the first independent childbirth education centre and doula support organisation in Singapore.  

We currently offer classes in: 
Preconception Planning, Childbirth Preparation, HypnoBirthing, First Aid, Yoga, Infant Massage, Dunstan Baby Language, Conscious Parenting, and Professional Training: Infant Massage, HypnoBirthing, Water Birth

Our services include:
Doula support, Breastfeeding counselling, Pre and post natal massage including Jamu, Birth Pool rental and sales, Birthing Stool rental, Hypnotherapy, and free gatherings for parents for sharing of information and socialising

HypnoBirthing is a philosophy as well as techniques for parents to create a birth experience their baby would want.  5 classes of 2 1/2 hours each including the book by Marie Mongan, HypnoBirthing, 2 relaxation CDs and course handouts. Parents using HypnoBirthing techniques average 5 hours of labour, without the course the average is 12 hours.

2.       Why should moms go for natural birth? What are the benefits of natural birth?

In my classes, I request parents to reflect on the beliefs about pregnancy, labour and birth.  Rarely does anyone mention the baby.  The focus is on the mother's experience.  The baby is aware inside the womb - they are hiccoughing at 9 weeks, constantly tasting the amniotic fluid, seeing by 24 weeks, hearing by 20 weeks, babies are born with all 5 senses.  Human babies are born prematurely in brain development compared to other mammals.  The next two years a lot of connections are being made, synapses are firing.  How we treat babies at birth, how they are born, will cause different connections to be made.  Either fore brain connections (loving connections) or hind brain (survival connections).  

At birth, after the baby emerges from her body, there is a cocktail of love hormones secreted so baby is drawn to the mother and mothering instincts kick in.  That rush of hormones can only be described as euphoria.  If there is an epidural or caesarean birth, this reaction is inhibited.   

3.       How do you best prepare for a natural birth?

I think the most important is to learn to trust your body to what is was designed to do, birth easily without peril or extreme pain - like all our other body functions.  Mothers need to learn to relax and let go.  Fathers need to learn how to support the mother.

4.       Caesarean section births are on the rise world-wide, why do you think this is so?

There are many reasons for this.  Electronic Fetal Monitoring is done routinely in many hospitals and this is only 40% accurate.  That means that 60% of the caesareans due to fetal distress were not required.  Unfortunately, there are still some doctors that schedule caesareans due to their holiday schedule or desire to be home for dinner or not to have to wake up in the middle of the night.  Some mothers do not understand the challenges they will face after surgery - having a newborn that will need to feed every 1 1/2 to 2 hours whilst they are trying to recover.  The WHO states that only 12 -15% of all labours require interventions.  That includes all interventions, not caesareans.  In Singapore the public hospital section rate is 33%.  Way over the recommendations. Private hospitals no longer publish their statistics.  

5.       What do you think are the common myths/ misconceptions on birthing?

That it is so traumatic and dramatic that women must be anesthetized to get through it.  That hospitals are safer than home births. 

6.       My doctor’s nurse actually told me that Epidural (anesthesia, most popular form of pain relief during labor) must be one of the greatest inventions of the 21st century.  What is your take on that?

In some cases this is true - usually women that have had their labours induced or augmented.  However, doctors fail to inform parents of the risks involved and women routinely think this is a normal, natural birth.  Labour is powerful, yes, but it is the only physiological function we have that requires us to be drugged.  Animals are not drugged - what is it that makes us so different?  Women are duped into believing our entire lives that childbirth is something to be dreaded and feared.  Many women are now trying to take back their body and is ability to labour without peril or extreme pain.  We need to educate our daughters and sons that this is a normal, lovely, empowering experience - bringing a baby into the world. AND, I find it very entertaining that women are told throughout their pregnancy to stay away from drugs and the moment they head into hospital to birth they are asked - are you ready to be drugged now?

7.       Induction of labour is commonly done nowadays when pregnancy goes beyond 4 days from EDD (estimated due date).   What advice do you have for mothers who are confronted with such proposal?

With Di at a Small Business Group Workshop
Seek a second opinion from a doctor that does not routinely induce.  As long as mother and baby are fine, leave it alone.  Inductions lead to more interventions including drugs, suction, forceps and caesarean births.

8.       If you have to define birthing in one sentence, what would it be?

Birth is a normal, physiological event that women's bodies were designed to do; it is glorious and amazing.

What a great way to look at birth!  We are so blessed to have Di around!  Thanks Di!

Crossing paths at a Small Business Group Workshop
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