question about hypnobirthing - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 02-12-2004, 10:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm a little confused as to how this works. It seems to me, from what I've read on the hypnobirthing site, that it works by eliminating fear and tension. But what if the pain is not a result of fear and tension?

I am thoroughly convinced of the mind/body connection. (Which is one reason I'm planning a UC.) But what about the kind of pain that does not originate in the head? I'm thinking, for instance, about what in my mind appears to have been a purely mechanical problem at my births -- although the contractions themselves had throughout the labor been at worst like menstrual cramps and at times even painless, and the descent of the baby through my vagina was lovely, right before the baby was born I felt like my back was going to split apart. I mean, literally. (I've never dislocated anything, but the sounds I made sounded an awful lot like when my dad dislocated his hip.) I'm assuming that the baby was posterior and pressing against my sacrum. In this case, the pain had nothing to do with any fear, because none preceded the pain. It had nothing to do with the muscles in my uterus, or the tissue of my vaginal canal.

So you can see where I'm going with this. Does hypnobirthing work only by ridding your head of thoughts/attitudes that create a physical environment that is painful, or does it work also by making you somehow interpret your body's pain signals as not painful, as they are being sent? I mean, does it work only preventatively, or also by transforming your normal perception of the pain sensation to something else?

If the latter, couldn't this be dangerous? There is no reason for most birth pain, but some birth pain could be a valid message from your body to do something. The pain I was feeling from my back made me want to avoid it by moving around, changing positions -- was it that which facilitated the birth of the baby? If I'd not felt the pain, would I have just lain down comfortably and not been in a position conducive to the baby descending easily and safely? Or would my body have told me in some other way what I needed to do?

I am really conflicted by this. I don't believe that birth pain is necessary or inherent to the process, and I do believe that affirmations are a valuable part of preparing for birth. At the same time, I have not yet come across any evidence that pain never occurs outside of the pain/tension cycle, and that it never has a valid and important reason for being there.

I would love some insight from someone who understands hypnobirthing more in depth, or from anyone who has used it successfully or not.
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#2 of 8 Old 02-13-2004, 12:27 AM
 
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I don't have answers, but I'm glad you posted it, because I'm looking forward to hearing answers.

I used Hypnobirthing, but I had a big posterior baby. I had frequent (2-5 minutes apart), non-productive contractions and awful back pain for four days before I went to the hospital and got an epidural.

HB helped me relax through the ctx and ride them out, but it didn't make a dent in my pain. I've been blaming myself for not practicing enough, but I don't know -- so I'm conflicted about putting my eggs in that basket again next time.
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#3 of 8 Old 02-13-2004, 05:52 PM
 
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Good questions Blueviolet. I should say I'm not a Hypno teacher or anything and I only speak from my own experience. I'll answer what I can based on what I know.

Here's my experience with hypnosis. My first pregnancy/birth I used HypnoBirthing. I started the program just a little before my 3rd trimester. I listened to the tapes daily as the program insists you do. My labor began with my water spontaneously breaking. Ctx started soon after that. After 5 hours, I had experienced close strong ctx, but not any pain. I was fully dialated at that time. This is where my son's birth gets a different shade of normal. He was posterior (no back labor though) and his hand was presenting. I couldn't push him out. So, we bid our time waiting for him to reposition. He never did go anterior, but managed to get his hand down to his face. While this was happening, I un-dialated to about 8 cm. It took me longer to fully dialate the 2nd time around. And, I did experience about an hour worth of pain while in the birth tub (felt fine once I got out though). I pushed my son out posterior with his hand beside his head with no pain. No tears, no skid marks. Moments later, I told my husband, "I would do this again. Probably not tomorrow, but certainly the next day."

Onto the questions. Here goes --
"Does hypnobirthing work only by ridding your head of thoughts/attitudes that create a physical environment that is painful, or does it work also by making you somehow interpret your body's pain signals as not painful, as they are being sent? I mean, does it work only preventatively, or also by transforming your normal perception of the pain sensation to something else?"

For me I had a birth full of sensations, just not pain per say. I could feel my body working. I was an observer and a participant of my labor. I felt like I needed strong ctx and so I marched between them for a while. I sat on the toilet during ctx. My husband and I laughed and sang songs. It was what felt right. I tried lying down at one point and just got the message that it wasn't helping my baby come to me.

"If the latter, couldn't this be dangerous?"

Yes, that would be dangerous. That would be like a zombie state. That's not hypnosis.

"The pain I was feeling from my back made me want to avoid it by moving around, changing positions -- was it that which facilitated the birth of the baby? If I'd not felt the pain, would I have just lain down comfortably and not been in a position conducive to the baby descending easily and safely?"

If you hadn't experienced that as pain, I think you would have experienced it as something else. For me it was tightening sensations, warm/cold feelings, aggitation, overwelming feelin of "this is NOT working," etc. When I shifted my position or my approach, those feelings shifted back to calm/centerness.

"I don't believe that birth pain is necessary or inherent to the process, and I do believe that affirmations are a valuable part of preparing for birth. "

After experiencing a nearly pain free birth, I can tell you I'll never birth w/o Hypno again. I'm using Birth Imagery this time (simliar to HypnoBabies) and really have enjoyed what I've gotten out of it so far. I'm looking forward to a painfree, gentle UC.

Dawn -- please, don't blame yourself. Birth is what it is. I'm sorry you experienced so much pain. Daily practice really does seem to be the key. In my experience, all the women that said that HypnoBirthing (or one of the other Hypnos) didn't work did not practice daily. The HypnoBirthers that I've met, read about and saw posted, who practice every day all said that Hypno was a success for them. Practicing every day, each day is the key. Some women found that they could even start late in pregnancy (beginning of 3rd trimester) and still get great relief, but only if they practiced every day. You'll have to see what feels right for you next time. It might be Hypno, it might not. Either way, I wish you peace.

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#4 of 8 Old 02-15-2004, 02:55 PM
 
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Great response Spark. I have done HypnoBirthing successfully and I’m not an instructor, so the following is just my opinion.

Quote:
Originally posted by blueviolet
I'm a little confused as to how this works. It seems to me, from what I've read on the hypnobirthing site, that it works by eliminating fear and tension. But what if the pain is not a result of fear and tension?
If the pain is not the result of fear or tension, you will feel it as pain. That’s what Dr. Grantley Dick-Reed wrote in his breakthrough and influential book “CHILDBIRTH WITHOUT FEAR” back in the 1940s. You should definitely read it. He was a OB/GYN who pioneered the idea of fear+tension=pain. He saw numerous women across the globe give birth relaxed and without pain (HypnoBirthing was not commonplace when he wrote the book.) But the point is, this is a fact. (His book is out of print, but I found a copy at my local library. Try to buy it on Ebay (last time I looked) and expect to pay $100+.)

Childbirth Without Fear: The Original Approach to Natural Childbirth

Though he did make the point (and this will help you feel better) that if there is something REALLY physically wrong (aside from normal uterine contractions), then it WILL be painful – like placenta previa… and he listed a few other things. This (I assume) he saw from experience.

DAWN – I have heard that HypnoBirthing will not help with back labor. Perhaps the only thing that would have worked was deep massage in that area or your moving about. Don’t beat yourself up over it. You really did great. You were in labor for 4 days (unproductive). You DID great. You tried your best. You DID practice and it DID help - though not with the back pain. Sadly, it can't help with that. But I would defintely still use HypnoBirthing again, because it can only help!

Back Labor No More: What Every Woman Should Know Before Labor
Have you read that book? If you haven't, look into it. That reminds me I should too. I haven't had back labor, but it's good to be "prepared" just in case.

Quote:
Originally posted by blueviolet
So you can see where I'm going with this. Does hypnobirthing work only by ridding your head of thoughts/attitudes that create a physical environment that is painful, or does it work also by making you somehow interpret your body's pain signals as not painful, as they are being sent? I mean, does it work only preventatively, or also by transforming your normal perception of the pain sensation to something else?
HypnoBirthing works by training your body to RELAAAAAAAAAXXXX… when you are relaxed and NOT tensing any muscles (except for normal standing or leaning over or sitting – you can still be relaxed) then the Contractions won’t feel painful. But if you are tensing your muscles, then you are literally “fighting” your uterine contractions (tensing against them) which makes it painful.

Dick-Reed points out that NORMAL labor contractions are NOT painful in themselves. They BECOME painful when women tense up – as the majority of Western women do during labor (thanks to fear of the unknown, fear being drilled into us about giving birth from society, other birth stories, etc...) (I curled up in the fetal position whe I first felt contractions and YEOWWWW!!!!! I had to really concentrate to remember my HB tapes and what to do – then the pain stopped. No more pain for the next 18 hour hospital labor. )

Quote:
Originally posted by blueviolet
The pain I was feeling from my back made me want to avoid it by moving around, changing positions -- was it that which facilitated the birth of the baby? If I'd not felt the pain, would I have just lain down comfortably and not been in a position conducive to the baby descending easily and safely? Or would my body have told me in some other way what I needed to do?
I think your body would have told you.

Interestingly, Spark felt her body working. I did not. We were given a choice in the class on HOW to feel how body working (Hypnosis prompting) and I chose I didn’t want to feel anything – which I do regret. I would have LOVED to feel my muscles moving. I could see my uterine muscles moving, but I did not feel anything. I did however, feel endorphins when I was even more deeply relaxed - in the shower.

And twice – while I was on Pitocin over 2 hours (after an 18 hour labor, when I finally reached 10 cm, but was so tired due to lack of sleep and food, that my contractions STOPPED) I felt a sharp twinge of pain. It also showed up as sharp peeks on the EFM. But then it left. Nothing after that. Weird. Point is, IF something is seriously amiss, you will know / feel it as such. (I hated being on Pitocin. I hated that my baby was getting hits of it. But it was either get the Pit or get a C-sec... so I chose the Pitocin.)

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#5 of 8 Old 02-19-2004, 01:34 AM
 
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I e-mailed my HypnoBirthing practioner and asked her to respond to your question. She was having trouble registering... anyway she asked me to post her response here.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I am a Certified HypnoBirthing Practitioner as well as a Faculty member of the HypnoBirthing Institute. I would like to respond to your post to clarify a few of your questions.

Although hypnosis can be used to shut off pain or for total anesthesia as is used for several open heart surgeries, root canals, c-sections, etc when chemical anesthesia is not an option or perhaps not a desired option, it would never be used to mask or eliminate pain without a doctor referral (at least by any ethical Certified Hypnotherapist). I once had a friend suffering from severe migrain headaches. Had I not required a doctor referral, her Brain Cancer would have never been detected. You only remove pain with a doctor referral saying there is no pathological/physiological reason for it.

Pain is certainly given to us for a reason. It lets us know that something is wrong. The whole philosophy of HypnoBirthing is that when there is nothing physically wrong, then pain should not accompany childbirth. When the mother trusts her body, and allows herself to remain relaxed, then there should not be any pain as nature never intended childbirth to be this way. Having a baby is the most natural, basic, physiological, fundamental beginning of life. However, when a mother is relaxed and is experienceing discomfort, then the mother should be encouraged to listen to her body. Your back pain was certainly an indication that perhaps the baby was not quite in the most optimal position. I would have encouraged you to listen to your body and perhaps change positions, get in the tub, etc to allow for and indeed encourage the baby to finish rotating to the proper position.

The fact is that in over 400 births of which I have attended over 60 of them, I have only had two women experience "back labor". It is just not common with HB moms. I believe this to be due to the fact that by practicing regularly, the entire body goes into relaxation "including the uterus" so that daily--the baby has every opportunity to rotate to the perfect birthing position which is what nature is going to naturally do.

Of course there are "special circumstances" and indeed valid reasons for birthing moms to experience pain. You need to listen to your body and follow it's lead. Usually it is fixed by a change of postion, etc. But if changing positions does not take care of it then perhaps the body or baby is signaling that more attention needs to be given to the situation.

By all means, if at the end of the birth, we have a healthy mom, and a healthy baby-then the birth was a total success. I don't care if there was medical intervention or not. But barring any "special circumstances" then keeping the body relaxed and free from fear should eliminate any potential pain that is indeed caused by the fear=tension=pain syndrome.

If you have a healthy baby, I can't imagine you feeling anything but total pride and joy in your birth."

Teresa

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#6 of 8 Old 02-19-2004, 02:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks Tanibani, your response and that of the practitioner you know were very helpful in clarifying for me what hypnobirthing does and doesn't claim to do, and what its philosophy of birth is.

I find her theory about back labor -- that it should not happen when the uterus is relaxed -- and the evidence for it to be very interesting. Both of my labors were extremely relaxed and only mildly uncomfortable or painless, until someone showed up that I wasn't comfortable with being there. In one case it was the midwife (although I loved her, I still felt inhibited and like my concentration was broken,) and in the other my mother-in-law (who I also love, but who was not invited -- it was meant to be a *private* labor.) I have always suspected that it was not coincidental that my labor turned extremely painful from the time they appeared -- but at the same time it seemed unlikely to me that my inhibition could cause such a dramatic change as I know happens in the "fight or flight" scenario. But perhaps it could. But then again, one would think that if my uterus were tense, that I would have felt the pain in my uterus -- whereas, in fact, when I felt my back pain there was literally no pain anywhere else.

She says also: "Your back pain was certainly an indication that perhaps the baby was not quite in the most optimal position. I would have encouraged you to listen to your body and perhaps change positions, get in the tub, etc to allow for and indeed encourage the baby to finish rotating to the proper position."

I agree. It's also long been my suspicion that with the intrusion of an unwanted person into my labor space, the hormonal choreography was somehow set awry so that my uterus pushed the baby down too soon, before she had rotated. And I did in fact respond by changing positions, rapidly! The pain did not cease until just before the birth, but I do think that my movements helped the descent of the baby and hastened 2nd stage (which was itself quick and complication-free.)
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#7 of 8 Old 02-19-2004, 03:15 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by blueviolet
It's also long been my suspicion that with the intrusion of an unwanted person into my labor space, the hormonal choreography was somehow set awry so that my uterus pushed the baby down too soon, before she had rotated. And I did in fact respond by changing positions, rapidly! The pain did not cease until just before the birth, but I do think that my movements helped the descent of the baby and hastened 2nd stage (which was itself quick and complication-free.)
Wow what a story Blue Violet... yeah I think you are right... you felt an intrusion and you felt tense as a result (mild disappointment, anger, etc...)

If I planned for something private and someone uninvited showed up, I'd be annoyed too. I HOPE this doesn't happen at my homebirth!

Funny, at the hospital... I just ignored the nurses who walked in... I didn't get caught up... I was in their space. But in MY space - that's a different story. I would expect people to respect my need for privacy.

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#8 of 8 Old 02-25-2004, 11:14 PM
 
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I just want to say that I did HB with my second child and it made a completely different experience. My first birth was painfull and confusing, I was disappointed at how painfull it really was so I was really sceptical (think i spelled that wrong) about being able to have a painless birth with my next birth. I didn't even take the class i just read the book and listened to the c-d. (in my 8th month of pregnacy. And my second birth was everything I could have ever hoped for and more. It was so magical, the next day my bedroom didn't even look like the same room i gave birth in. It seemed so much bigger and white, i don't remember any color really. It was like it was all a dream. I wish that every pregnant woman would try this, it would change everything!! Besides what do they to loose? Its better for mom and baby.
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