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Hypnobirthing: yay or nay?

post #1 of 43
Thread Starter 

I am finding myself midway through my second pregnancy and at odds with my best friend who is a Hypnobirthing teacher. She has offered to teach us the method, but I am somewhat offended by some of the Hypnobirthing claims.

 

My understanding is that the method basically says everyone is capable of having a pain free birth if they follow the techniques in the class.

 

The reason this claim offends me is because I had a very difficult and *painful* labor with our first child even though we were amazingly prepared. We had a great midwife at a free-standing birth center. I ate very healthy organic food. I practiced yoga. I had chiropractic care throughout pregnancy and had a monthly massage. We planned and meditated on the birth throughout the pregnancy. I meditated during the labor and focused on relaxing my mouth and face. I made low calm sounds. And I really had no fear going into the labor.

 

Yet in spite of all this, I had back labor for 36 hours due to a baby that refused to be repositioned until hour 33. I also hemorrhaged after the birth mostly due to sheer exhaustion (low iron was not the cause). Perhaps it was the hemorrhage, but due to the trauma of the birth my milk did not come in for 6 days. This caused my sweet baby to loose almost 2 lbs. in the first week and become severely jaundiced, even though we were supplementing with the breast milk of friends.

 

This horrible initiation into motherhood has left me really skeptical of just how much influence we have on our birth experience. When my Hypnobirthing friend says I could have had a pain free birth if I had just taken a class, I feel she is telling me it was my fault that I had a bad experience.

 

So I was wondering... am I misinterpreting the philosophy of Hypnobirthing and just projecting the frustration? Does anyone have a different take on Hypnobirthing? Should I give my friend a chance and take the class anyway, trying to keep an open mind? 

 

I should finish by saying- In spite of my first birthing experience, I am very excited to do it again. No one gets the same birth twice, which for me is great comfort.

 

Thanks

 

 

post #2 of 43

I'm not very familiar with Hypnobirthing, but from what I've read here on MDC, I do think your understanding is correct. Have you discussed your offended feeling with your friend?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mamabird83 View Post

When my Hypnobirthing friend says I could have had a pain free birth if I had just taken a class, I feel she is telling me it was my fault that I had a bad experience.

 

I totally agree. There is no way around it. To say, "YOU WILL have a pain-free birth if you do XYZ." is the equivalent of saying, "If you DO have a painful birth .... it is your fault (because you did NOT do XYZ." There's just no way of avoiding it! I really feel the 2 statements are equivalent - so I can totally understand how you are offended.

 

There is so much we can do to increase the odds of a pain-free or manageable-pain-level birth, but nothing we can do to guarantee it. Nothing! Our degree of control only goes so far. & I think it's silly to pretend anything but.

 

I've also heard Hypnobirthing puts a great emphasis on not using the word "Contractions" - such a strong emphasis that if an attendant DOES use the word, it really throws off a woman & makes her have trouble coping. I read once that a doula actually said she prefers not to work with clients using this method because of this sorta inflexibility of the method! While, of course, it's preferable if every nurse & MW would use the language the mama prefers, surely your method shouldn't fall apart if someone uses a very common term instead of your preferred euphemism!

 

I think this same doula was also saying that the method focuses so strongly on "NO PAIN NO PAIN" that if women do start to feel pain, they sorta fall apart as you said - feeling they are "doing something wrong" and failing. :( sad. Whereas Bradley & Hypnobabies don't put that sorta pressure on you. They teach you ways to help reduce pain, but don't focus so much on avoiding it entirely.

 

& honestly, truly PAIN-FREE birth is a pretty rare thing, even among those of us with great preparations, zero fear, etc. Mine wasn't pain-free! Manageable, but still quite painful in transition & of course painful at crowning when I had a minor 1st degree tear.

 

So if all of my understandings are correct, I too might skip it. (I certainly could be wrong.) I hate to say you should turn-down a childbirth class, especially from a friend, but, again, if what I wrote is correct, I say skip it.

post #3 of 43
Two quick things, as I am no expert at all.

There is two schools, hypnobirthing and hypnobabies, they seem to be quite different in important ways, the later being more flexible and less judgmental in my research.

I do think that at least in the Hypnobabies classes ,you are taught that you are capable of pain free births, that to me is very different than saying you will have one if you follow instructions. I crutial difference. The way you stated it, I agree sets you up for feelings of failure and none of us need that!


I was turned off by the details of the hypnobirthing method and terms when I first read about it, despite thinking the general basis was a good one. Hypnobabies was something I stumbled upon not at first realizing there were two different schools of thought and it seem to a dress nearly all my issues. It teaches of a eyes open a poach that does not seem as reliant on the circumstances you find yourself in and the intrustors I have chatted with seem open to a wide range of goals and outcomes.

I hope you find what works for you. A free class if it's the wrong thing for you is not worth the price.
post #4 of 43

I had what sounds like a similar-ish experience with my first: was very prepared, not at all fearful, practised OFP, the whole nine-yards but still ended up with an asynclitic OP baby and a hellish labour.

 

When I was pregnant with my second I was looking into anything and everything that might help me 1) overcome my fear of having a similar birth and 2) help me cope with whatever labour decided to throw at me - because the one lesson I learned *really* well from my first was that we DO NOT have total control over what happens in childbirth, no matter how much we might like to think so (and no matter what those lucky moms for whom everything worked out just right think either).

 

I came across both Hypnobirthing and Hypnobabies.  I had basically the same reaction to the Hypnobirthing thing as you - i.e. it's basically saying that it was my fault I had such a horrible birth experience, because I didn't do the 'mind over matter' thing properly.  That, along with the insistence that you would have a pain-free birth if you did it right, actually put me off the whole idea.  While I liked the idea of a pain-free birth I was prepared to feel some level of discomfort/pain if that's what that birth entailed, and I didn't want my whole comfort ideal to come toppling down on me the minute I felt a twinge - because if I felt any pain then that would mean I was doing it wrong.  (Make sense?)

 

So, ultimately I opted for Hypnobabies - and I really liked it and would recommend it to anyone.  While it encourages you to change your vocabulary it helps you not to be thrown if someone else uses 'normal' words like contractions.  It focuses on helping you to remain calm and centred during your pregnancy - which was a biggie for me, as I was still suffering PTSD from my first birth and prone to freak out.  And it doesn't set you up for failure (or for feeling like a failure) if you feel some pain/discomfort during your labour.

 

My birth was incredibly quick (though looking back on it I think I was in labour for longer than I realised, but it was actually completely comfortable, so I didn't recognise it).  45 minutes from thinking "Maybe this might be labour" to baby out.  There were maybe 10-15 minutes of discomfort/mild pain, but nothing like I'd experienced during my first.  Now, a lot of that might be to do with other factors than the Hypnobabies (e.g. better positioned baby, experienced uterus/pelvis etc.) but at the very least Hypnobabies helped to me to stay relaxed and focused through my pregnancy, didn't make me feel bad about my previous birth experience, and possibly helped me to have a very nearly pain-free birth, that I enjoyed very much.  (Which would be a 'failure' according to Hypnobirthing, because it wasn't *completely* pain-free...)

post #5 of 43

I've used Hypnobabies with my last two pregnancies and births. I did experience some pain but I was able to stay on top of it and had two lovely, empowering births. I'll be using it again in the coming months. 

post #6 of 43
Quote:

Originally Posted by AutumnAir View Post

 

While I liked the idea of a pain-free birth I was prepared to feel some level of discomfort/pain if that's what that birth entailed, and I didn't want my whole comfort ideal to come toppling down on me the minute I felt a twinge - because if I felt any pain then that would mean I was doing it wrong.  (Make sense?)

emphasis added

This is my understanding of Hypnobirthing too & the reason I'd say to avoid it. 

 

I just wanted to bold that portion because this was my experience with BFing! My nipples cracked & the awful LCs kept saying over & over & over, "If your nipples hurt, it's due to a bad latch." I drove myself CRAZY trying to figure out what I was "DOING WRONG." (They would all immediately check my latch & say it looked good. Uh... OK...)

 

No one just said what they should have said, "Oh, your nipples are cracked, that's why you're in pain. That stinks. You'll heal in a few weeks. In the mean time, everything else is probably fine since baby is gaining weight very very rapidly, so suck it up & keep at it."

 

No, no one said that.


As a Type A perfectionist, it drove me crazy to feel I was "DOING IT WRONG" and I couldn't figure out HOW to do it "RIGHT." So, lol, this long story to say, yeah, Hypnobirthing sounds like a bad idea to me - but especially for any fellow type A mamas!

 

post #7 of 43

I felt the same thing when I read the hypnobirthing book. Like I failed, which in someways I can admit I did fail, but pain was not my fault, its not that I wasn't 'strong' enough that I ended up with a c/s

 

Quoted below from HypnoBabies website

 

Quote:
Although not every woman will have a completely pain-free unmedicated birthing experience, many of our Hypno-Moms do and our satisfaction rate is excellent, which is very gratifying! Please see our Course Outline below for more information.

 

This makes more sense to me And if you read through their testimonials many women report pain, some even had epidurals and aren't considered 'failures'

 

Though I have heard some judgmental lines of 'maybe you didn't practice right' and a practical "you waited too long to start" (meaning the mom waited until the pain was unbearable before using techniques.

 

We're trying hypnobabies this time around, I'll let you know how it goes in February.

post #8 of 43
Thread Starter 

I guess I need to look into the differences between "Hypno-birthing" and "Hypno-babies". 

post #9 of 43

I used Hypnobabies with my last birth and will be using it again in a few months.  It was wonderful and I wouldn't have a child any other way.  I had back labor with my first two, so I was preparing for the worst.  I was able to stay relaxed and only felt pressure in my lower body.  Hope you find your way to a lovely birth.

post #10 of 43

I registered for a hypnobirth course  in January. Our instructor sent out the cd and book, which I read and listened to, and kinda thought....that's it? But what if it *does* hurt?

 

I don't know.... am now wondering if I should cancel the class, lose the deposit, and switch to hypnobabies homestudy.

 

In another thread here some women were talking about combining the two- does that work?

post #11 of 43

I used hypnobirthing with my last birth and will be doing it again this time in the next 5 weeks :)  I took the class the first time but have just chosen to listen to the relaxation tapes and practice the relaxed breathing tecniques.  I really didn't have alot of pain last time more like overwhelming pressur and discomfort but nothing I that felt like I couldn't handle it.  I definately didn't have a quiet birth like in the hypnobirthing videos, that just didn't feel right.  I walked, swayed and moaned to release all the energy.  Alll the moving and moaning was a bit of surprise to me but it just felt right and I think it really helped me.  Although my birth may not have been a birth to record for the hypnobirthing class I feel it was a sucessful hypnobirth.  I stayed relaxed, and let my body go where it needed to go to do the job it was meant to do.  I don't think it is fair to say all women in all birthing situations will be able to have a pain free birth as there are so many diffrent things that happen in birth that can delay or change the outcome.   There are so many variables and even a epidural birth can have surprises to it.  I have friend who planned a epidural birth and when the epidural only numbed half her body she was surprised and upset by the pain.  Birth is diffent everytime and all you can is make a comfortable choice on how you want to birth but realistically understand you can't control all the variables. 

post #12 of 43

I came across this, a link I got from another thread: http://www.birthnaturally.org/hypnobirthing.htm

 

Quote:
I took HypnoBirthing® classes with my second baby and did have a painless birth (which is why I went on to become an instructor). It turns out, though, according to the 2005 HypnoBirthing® Institute statistics (which I was privy to as an instructor at that time) that only about a third of women birthing at home (which I did) have painless births and even fewer women have painless births in the hospitals. I was very disappointed when I learned those statistics, but they did match what I was seeing in real life.

 

post #13 of 43

I didn't know there was a difference (or another option) in hypnobirthing methods.  Now I'm off to look up books for hypnobabies. :)  Thanks!!

post #14 of 43

I haven't read through all these responses, but wanted to offer a quick reply re: my birth two weeks ago. I read the hypnobirthing book and considered the classes, but I was really put off by the "painless" aspect of it also. It really made it seem like the book was implying that pain in childbirth is something that us modern, western women created and that pain simply wasn't a part of "normal" childbirth. I didn't like how the book gave such a specific "one way" to give birth and all these random elements had to be just so. That just isn't life, IMO. Regardless, I practiced the breathing exercises and relaxation techniques. I listened to the CD a handful of times, but I don't think I ever stayed awake for the whole thing.

 

Fast forward to labor day. All of that crap went right out the window. I was very much in control and on top of my pain during labor. I was confident and relaxed. But I wasn't using any of the hypnobirthing techniques I'd practiced. I tried to do the contraction breathing one time and it just didn't feel right, so I went back to what was working for me. When it came time to push, there was absolutely no chance of me "breathing the baby out." Baby was coming out and that was the only part of my birth experience where I felt out of control- my body was doing its own thing and I just went with it. And it worked for me. Allowing myself to acknowledge the pain helped me to accept the pain, I think. If I'd gone into it expecting to feel no pain, I worry that I would have had a much harder time dealing with it. (But who knows, maybe if I'd followed the philosophy religiously, I could have had a pain-free birth?)

 

I also want to note that my labor was fairly fast, completely uncomplicated, and mostly easy. I'm sure I would have dealt with it totally different had the circumstances been different. Also, I haven't had any traumatizing previous births- my first was scary and chaotic and medicated, but not at all traumatizing.

post #15 of 43
I can't really fault you for worrying that someone is judging you if you feel pain. But I know that when I suggest hypnosis for birth, and I say if you aren't afraid then you can have a pain free birth, I'm not laying blame on those who feel pain. For me it's more like Fear tension, uncertainty, can come at you sometimes out of no where. It's no one's fault they felt nervous. Hypnosis is a tool to address those feelings. In my birth I saw a huge.difference in my comfort level when I was calm and looking forward to the birth, as opposed to when I was nervous. When I was able to recenter myself and start again I had an extremely pleasant birth.

I did a combination of both hypno classes. I also took what I wanted from them (positive thinking) and left what didn't sit well with me (the renaming of different birth terms)
post #16 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeliMom View Post

I can't really fault you for worrying that someone is judging you if you feel pain. But I know that when I suggest hypnosis for birth, and I say if you aren't afraid then you can have a pain free birth, I'm not laying blame on those who feel pain. For me it's more like Fear tension, uncertainty, can come at you sometimes out of no where. It's no one's fault they felt nervous. Hypnosis is a tool to address those feelings. In my birth I saw a huge.difference in my comfort level when I was calm and looking forward to the birth, as opposed to when I was nervous. When I was able to recenter myself and start again I had an extremely pleasant birth.
 


I appreciate what you are saying here and agree with you that fear and nervousness can and will increase the amount of pain that you feel. I also agree that meditation or hypnosis is a tool for coping with the fear or nervousness that amplifies pain in childbirth.

 

What offends me is not that someone is blaming me for having fear or nervousness. I did not feel fear or nervousness during my labor but I did experience intense pain due to physiological reasons beyond my control. I used meditation during my labor and it kept me mostly silent and calm throughout the labor- but did not impact the amount of pain I was in.

 

What offends me is when someone assumes the reason I had pain was because I did not meditate properly or that I did have fear that I just wasn't aware or in touch with.

 

Everyone's birth experience is so unique- it is hard for me to swallow a system that says everyone (as long as they are healthy) can have a similar experience or outcome.

post #17 of 43

 

Quote:
but I did experience intense pain due to physiological reasons beyond my control.

 

Full disclosure:  I am a Hypnobabies instructor but I think our curriculum does a very good job of covering variations of normal in birthing that can result in physical discomfort.  For example, a posterior baby or a compound presentation (baby with its hand by it's head, for example) that can have very physical reasons for being uncomfortable.  That's why Hypnobabies teaches things beyond hypnosis, like positioning or counter pressure, for example, that might help those situations.  We don't assume that no woman will need that information as long as she practices her hypnosis.  Of course, we hope that the hypnosis skills will help people be able to stay calm, even if the birth is challenging because of those variations of normal and then have information to address those challenges.  I really think Hypnobabies has a nice message that no matter what path your birth takes, and even if you experience discomfort, you can stay as calm and focused as possible so that you are receptive to suggestions and physical help from others.

post #18 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by gemasita View Post

Full disclosure:  I am a Hypnobabies instructor but I think our curriculum does a very good job of covering variations of normal in birthing that can result in physical discomfort.  For example, a posterior baby or a compound presentation (baby with its hand by it's head, for example) that can have very physical reasons for being uncomfortable.  That's why Hypnobabies teaches things beyond hypnosis, like positioning or counter pressure, for example, that might help those situations.  We don't assume that no woman will need that information as long as she practices her hypnosis.  Of course, we hope that the hypnosis skills will help people be able to stay calm, even if the birth is challenging because of those variations of normal and then have information to address those challenges.  I really think Hypnobabies has a nice message that no matter what path your birth takes, and even if you experience discomfort, you can stay as calm and focused as possible so that you are receptive to suggestions and physical help from others.


I am so glad to have your input as an instructor. Your post seems to confirm what seems to be the popular opinion in this thread- that Hypnobabies is perhaps more flexible than Hypnobirthing. We did have a class that our midwife taught that covered methods like positioning and counter pressure and I know that these techniques contributed to my ability to have a natural water birth after 36 hours of back labor (10 hours of which being fully dilated with a baby who wouldn't drop). Without these techniques I may have ended up in a hospital with an epidural or more. 

 

I think it is important to embrace these techniques and prepare women for an experience that may be painful- even with the use of hypnosis and other methods.

 

 

post #19 of 43

I am studying hypnobirthing for our baby's upcoming birth...

 

My friend/doula is a hypnobirthing instructor but she also teaches birthing from within techniques...she has merged the two beautifully for me. So for me/us it's working great. 

 

I just wanted to say that hypnobirthing doesn't have to mean that there is NO pain...it just means that we turn our minds over to the birth itself and not focus on what we have been taught to believe that birth is (ie. the most pain imaginable). 

 

Some of the affirmations in hypnobirthing are : 

I turn my birthing over to nature

I am prepared to calmly meet whatever turn my birthing may take

 

I really focus on these two, because they teach me that it's out of my control and what will be will be. 

 

Does this help any? The book is good but not our only resource. BFW really helps to remind me that pain IS possible and that I CAN cope with whatever the sensations are that may arise during labour and birth. 

 

All this said, I have never looked into hypnobabies but from what I have read on MDC, it sounds quite lovely too...but if your friend can teach you hypnobirthing I wouldn't steer so clearly from it...I think it can offer wonderful support!

 

just my 2 cents love.gif

post #20 of 43

I am only speaking from my personal experience with HypnoBirthing.

It was absolutely the best thing I've ever done. Period. I believe it may have saved my life. Seriously! 

My first birth was much like yours. Trauma with a capitol T. I was induced because of PreEclampsia. My baby and I both nearly died because of a medical mistake (overdose) but without the training we got from the hypno class I would have been a wreck. My breathing was suppressed, but I just kept thinking (when I was conscience) about the training and the breathing we practiced and it kept me and my baby from dying. The doctor said later they had no idea how sick I was because I was so calm and that if I had panicked I could have died. We didn't follow it to the letter and yes, there was some pain, but I would take the class again in a moment. My daughter ended up in the NICU for two weeks and again the training came in handy. The breathing techniques and visualizations were very useful while breastfeeding too. 

I'm sure it depends on the teacher and it sounds like you shouldn't take it from your friend. She sounds very judgmental and you sound like you've developed a very negative view because of her attitude. It may not work at all because of this. If you can truly have an open mind you should go for it. 

I just had my second daughter and I again used much of the techniques we learned in the class and had a much better experience. It was wonderful. Long and trying but wonderful.

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