Thursday, May 5, 2011

Hypnobirthing: Using relaxation instead of pain medication during childbirth

Heather's Hypnobirthing story: Did it deliver?

A CBS TV News Anchor finds out if relaxation can replace pain medications during childbirth.

OK, OK... it is NEVER easy showing ANYONE your personal labor and delivery video! Yikes!
Plus, I was 41 weeks pregnant! I thought I was going to explode!
But I had to get past the embarrassment because so many people have asked me if I REALLY used the Hypnobirthing techniques I profiled in this story: Hypnobirthing:Does it really work? 

When I was 8 months pregnant, I interviewed half a dozen moms who told me how Hypnobirthing classes helped them relax before, during and after giving birth, to the point that many did NOT need any pain medications!
It sounds crazy, right? I honestly couldn't believe it! That's when I made the on-air promise that I would take Hypnobirthing classes and see if the relaxation technique really worked for me.
I figured I had nothing to lose... if I needed pain medication or any emergencies popped up, I was at Bayfront Babyplace and would do whatever the doctor wanted me to do.

*Here is my one disclaimer to all pregnant moms
This is a guilt-free story!
We can plan for exactly the kind of birth we would like to have, but in the end, it's not up to us. We have to be flexible and open. I knew at any moment I might have needed a C-section or medical intervention.
We all just want healthy babies. A memorable birth experience is an added bonus.
My husband supported me every step of the way and wanted to make sure I didn't "suffer" at any point. That's one of the reasons we decided to have a doula (which means mothering the mother) guide us through the process. While the doctor may be in and out of the room, a doula is ALWAYS at your side, making sure you are comfortable, coaching you and explaining what will happen next.
I had an incredible Doula, Jane Parker, (click here to read about what a doula does in the delivery room.) Jane is essentially a birth coach, but I found her to be more like my mom that day in the delivery room! I could NOT have done this without her encouragement, education and pure love.
I also had a wonderful relationship with my OBGYN, Dr. Sheila Devanesan. We talked about my birth wishes but I trusted her to do what was best for my baby and me.
 This may surprise you... before I wrote any of these stories, my husband and I had decided NOT to take any childbirth classes. He's in the medical field so we figured he would guide us and we really didn't have a lot of extra time.
When I started asking my girlfriends whether I should take any classes, I found those who did prepare (classes, books, prenatal yoga) had much better experiences. Another TV reporter friend of mine, sent me this DVD - The Business of Being Born - so I could at least understand my options and see why it's important for parents to prepare beforehand. Initially, we didn't really want to watch it (we thought it might be too graphic or boring) but my husband and I both agreed it was worth it.
After hearing all of the positive, emotional and sweet birth stories from Hypnobirthing moms, we paid for several classes. I figured at the very least, I would learn a great relaxation technique.
I am a bit of a granola girl at heart, (Heather's Natural Health) so I can admit, that I did like the idea of not having any pain medications or pitocin in my system or my baby's body. There is something sweet that happens right after you give birth and your baby naturally knows what to do (where to go for her first meal!) and your body responds.

 Here's what I learned throughout this experience:
-Relaxation is key to an easier labor and delivery. Other mammals relax when they give birth so the body can do what it is designed to do. When we tense up, it magnifies the pain and slows down the process.
-I was able to use the Hypnobirthing technique because I had the guided imagery CD playing over and over in my iPod during my 6 hour labor/delivery. Yes, it sounds kind of funny when you first hear it. I listened to it for weeks before birth and it really helped remind me how to breathe through the contractions.
-Contractions are not a constant pain. They build up like a wave, hit a peak and then subside to the point I could "relax like a ragdoll" even toward the end of labor.
-Because I did not have pitocin or any medications that "sped up the process or numbed my feeling" I found the rhythmic, wave-like contractions tolerable. I did yelp at the end when I gave birth to Kingsley (7 pounds, 9 ounces!) My husband says my eyes popped open and I looked like they might pop out of my head! Yes there were a few moments of pain, but they were tolerable and most importantly temporary.
-Even though nurses may encourage you to "push, push, push" hypnobirthing encourages you to go with the flow of your body. Pushing may cause tearing... so as I followed my body at the end of the process... I would feel a "tsunami" contraction... followed by a minor contraction that barely registered! It's as if your body takes time to recover and allows the baby to relax right before she appears.
If I had to do it all again, I would do it the exact same way. I realize that if we have another child, there is still no guarantee that I'll have the same type of birth.
I am happy I took the Hypnobirthing classes and my birth experience turned out the way I had hoped. There were moments where we knew things could change (Kingsley was in the wrong position for most of my labor) I trusted my doctor to do what she thought was needed for the health of my baby. I think giving birth naturally, without any pain medications is like training for a marathon. I personally, would NEVER want to do it without all the prep work!