*All images in this post taken by Vannessa Brown Photography *
Every now and then, when I walk into my master bedroom, I still feel that high from the day my son was born. In less than a month, he will turn a year old, and I find myself reminiscing about the days before his arrival. What I was doing, how I was feeling.
My son was born at home. If you’ve read my birth stories ( here and here ) you’ll know that having a home birth was something that was important to me, but after my first birth didn’t happen at home, I knew I needed an additional tool to help me through labor.
I had heard of hypnobirthing before, but in all honesty, the idea of meditating through labor as a way to manage discomfort and cope through pain (which is really what most women are afraid of when it comes to labor) seemed a little hard to believe. But – I was determined to try it, and to be diligent about it.
If you’ve never heard of hypnobirthing, it’s a form of self hypnosis and guided meditation that you practice before, and while in labor. It guides you through breathing techniques and positive birth imagery and affirmations. It helps your body to relax, and allows it to labor without you fighting against it. It gives you something to focus on to stay calm, and for some women, it has even provided pain-free births.
I bought a hypnobirthing book and read it cover to cover in about 3 days. Pregnancy and labor are topics that I find fascinating, so learning more about the science behind it was incredibly interesting. Once I finished the book, I started to practice the breathing techniques, and every night before bed, I listened to the meditation tracks. It was a routine I continued from the time I was halfway through my pregnancy till the day I went into labor.
Like with many things in life, the more you practice something, the better you are at it. Hypnobirth is no different. It would have been very easy to read the book, listen to the tracks once or twice, and hope that it would help me during labor. I practiced as often as I could. I wanted to train my mind and body to go into a relax and calm state whenever I would listened to the tracks.
In my experience, I started to benefit from hypnobirth even before labor had begun.
I slept better
From the time I was 5 months pregnant, I would got to bed 30 minutes before my regular bed time every night, and I would listen to the meditation tracks. Most of the time, I would fall asleep while listening to them, which was a great sign of relaxation, but since I was already in bed, I easily transitioned into a deep sleep after. We all know how uncomfortable and difficult sleep can be during pregnancy, so deep sleep was so very welcomed.
I felt very connected to my baby
I had dedicated time, every day, to talk to my baby. I didn’t know whether I was having a boy or a girl, so I never called my baby a name, but every time I practiced hypnobirth, Oliver would move a little bit more, or let me know in a way that he could feel me. My Oliver is a very calm and happy baby, and I feel a lot of has to do with how connected we were from the beginning. He understood me, and I understood him long before he entered earth side.
I experienced a very gentle and calm labor
The day came. My water broke and I knew that labor was imminent. I was preparing for a longer birth since my first was 33 hours, but little did I know that my entire labor would be less than 5 hours from start to finish, and only 2 hours of active labor. Perhaps it was because it was my second birth, but I can very confidently say that I felt the hypnobirth practice make a huge difference. It gave me the skills to learn to trust my body, and to then instinctively go along with what my body was telling me to do.
I experienced a pain-free birth
My decision to practice hypnobirth for my second birth was to help me cope with labor, especially if it happened to be as long as my first. Hypnobirth doesn’t promise a pain-free birth, it is simply a tool that allows you to surrender to your body to let it do what it already knows how to do. In my case, I experienced tightening and pressure, but in no moment did I experience pain.
It kept me extremely calm in what could have been a traumatic birth
My son had shoulder dystocia at birth, so his entry to the earth side was not as gentle as I would have liked it to be, and it was a little scary. In spite of this, I was calm and connected to my baby, I knew he was OK all along, and even with a few crazy minutes towards the end of labor, his birth was beautiful, calm and a very positive experience.
It tapped into a strength inside me I didn’t know I had
After my son was born, my midwifes were checking him to make sure he was OK after his shoulder dystocia birth. It was a very easy moment for me to panic and be scared, yet the opposite happened. In the most vulnerable moment, I strength inside I didn’t know I had manifested in song, as I calmly sang my baby to wake.
Recovery was easier
After the birth of my daughter, I remember so many muscles in my body hurting, especially my back from curling over while pushing, and my eyes were quite swollen from the pressure. One of the things hypnobirth talks about is not having to push, because your body will do it on it’s own. I practiced this with Oliver, and after he was born, I clearly remember that the only discomfort I felt was in my abdomen, because it was the only part of my body that had done the hard work during labor, and I recovered very easily.
The first weeks postpartum were calmer
The nights when he cluster fed as a newborn and I was getting very little sleep, I would practice my breathing and meditation while he was nursing. It helped me get through those harder nights a lot easier, and he was calmer after it too. I like to think that my calmness in those moments was passed to him through my milk.
On the days the kids drive me crazy today…. I still go back to that calm
The days that the kids are cranky, or whiny, or are crying more often that usual. I go back to that calm, I slow down and remember to breathe the way that I did while in labor, and I feel better. It’s a tool that I use still, months even after my baby was born.
It gave me a very positive birth experience
My birth wasn’t perfect. Then again, what is a perfect birth? Every woman’s journey is unique. There is no text book birth, and sometimes holding on to that idea is perhaps what leads us to be disappointed when the outcome is different. Hypnobirth gave me confidence that my birth was going to be exactly what my body and my baby needed, and to feel positive about the experience that I had.
Pregnancy and labor are experiences that are different and unique to every woman. In my experience, even my own births were quite different from one another. Hypnobirth was an amazing tool that helped me stay calm and in control during my pregnancy, birth, and even postpartum. The benefits of this practice are something I continue to use on a regular basis in my motherhood journey. I couldn’t recommend this more to all expecting mamas.
Did you practice hypnobirth? Did it help you during labor or postpartum? I would love to hear your stories!
- I read “Hypnobirthing. The Mongan Method” book by Marie Mongan, which comes with a guided meditation CD.
- I downloaded additional tracks from The Calm Birth School . They are narrated by the founder, Suzy, and I find her voice to be so calming. Her tracks helped me tremendously.