Since becoming pregnant I have done a LOT of reading about pregnancy related topics. One of the most important to me has been reading about childbirth and trying to decide how I want to approach it. There are a thousand different opinions out there on the best way to birth and each one IS the best for someone. But what about me? What should I do? How should I prepare? What kind of birth experience do I hope to have?
From the beginning I have been very interested in natural childbirth. My mom gave birth to 4 out of 5 kids without an epidural. I, the first, was actually her only epidural and she absolutely hated it. I think I've always had a bit of prejudice against epidurals because of the story of my birth compared to her other children's. With my sister Lauren, her second baby, my mom prepared extensively with Lamaze and had a very fast, easy delivery. They barely made it to the hospital in time.
Now lest you think I am going to list all the negatives of epidurals, I'm not. They do exist, but I'm not going to get into them other than to say that they often lead to other interventions which often lead to c-sections. I really want to avoid a c-section. But I am also realistic. Epidurals can be wonderful things. And if you've had one and love it, that's great! But there is no guarantee the epidural will work effectively and not lead to other interventions, so I'd rather prepare myself not to get one. If I end up with some ridiculously long labor and am exhausted beyond belief, I will consider getting an epidural. But I am going to make darn sure that I have prepared myself as best I can to labor and birth without one. As long as me and my little guy remain healthy, I plan on having as normal and natural a birth as possible.
So I started doing research on various methods of childbirth preparation. Lamaze and the Bradley method are both well known, but I didn't feel like they gave enough specifics about dealing with labor. I had heard of hypnobirthing and it caught my attention. I read Marie Mongan's book HypnoBirthing and was pretty convinced this was the way I wanted to go. Her method is based on the same notion as Lamaze and Bradley--that fear and tension make the pain of labor worse and in order to diminish pain and let the body do what it needs to, women need to let go of fear and RELAX! Mongan's book is excellent and gives some great history on birth in Western culture. It is meant to supplement a HypnoBirthing class and this is where I had a problem. The only instructors in my area were an hour away and the cost was about $300 for a 5 week course.
I began doing a little more research and found Hypnobabies. I corresponded with an instructor, found some websites, and decided this is the method I would use. It also has a home study course, which due to scheduling conflicts with the instructor in my area, is what I am going to do. Plus, the home study course is half the cost of a class.
I feel really good about this decision. I feel like this is going to prepare me to have a great labor and birth experience. Amazingly, many mothers who use Hypnobabies have little or no pain during labor! From the website:
"Many of our birthing mothers who use Hypnobabies experience only pressure or tightening sensations during birth. They have their babies in a state of deep relaxation, with little or no discomfort or fear using real hypno-anesthesia. Discomfort in childbirth can be the result of the Fear/Tension/Pain Cycle (Syndrome). This begins with Fear, which produces tension in the body, which creates tightness (Tension) and constriction of the uterine muscles, which results in Pain. In Hypnobabies classes, you will learn how to relax both the mind and body, eliminating fear and therefore pain, as well as create hypnotic anesthesia, remain mobile during hypnosis and use post-hypnotic suggestions for ease of birth, recovery and breastfeeding if you so choose."
Now all this doesn't mean it's going to be easy. It's going to take practice and major mental concentration, but it sounds much more doable to me than other methods. I'm actually really excited to see how it all goes. The birth stories I've read from mothers who have used Hypnobabies are really amazing. Of course, I don't know what unexpected things might come up during my pregnancy or labor, but I will be happy as long as I am doing all I can to be informed and prepared.
Here are a couple more links for more information if you are interested: