Imagine being pregnant and being terrified to give birth, or so afraid of your birth day that you can’t bring yourself to even think about it. What if you’ve had a previous traumatic birth and you’re terrified of history repeating itself? You may be a first time mom and just honestly not know what to expect on your birth day, besides the gory stories you’ve heard from your friends or family members, and you’re nervous to give birth.
These are such common fears and realities for so many expectant moms, and such valid fears and concerns too. We, as a society, have been conditioned for generations to believe birth is an agonizing and torturous event that happens to a woman and a cross we must bear. But is it? Why does it have to be this way? Why would women continue to birth again and again if it really is as bad as we hear? What can our pregnant moms do to make their births easier, better, and dare I say, actually enjoyable?
The HypnoBirthing® Institute, founded by Marie F. Mongan, has been helping women have comfortable, calm and easier births for over 25 years. It is based on the workings of Dr. Grantly Dick-Read, a British Physician who simply asked, “Why is birth supposed to hurt?” After observing many laboring women, he came to the realization that if a woman removed fear from her birth, she was less likely to tense up, and when a laboring woman didn’t tense up and remained relaxed, she was far, far less likely to feel that excruciating pain we so often see in the media.
Mongan knew that by educating our moms, and teaching valuable tools and techniques, that they could go on to have great birthing experiences. Mongan set forth tools such as Deepening and Relaxation techniques, Breathing exercises, and talks about the importance of Visualizations and Affirmations to condition the mind and prepare the body for the work it will do on the birthing day. When a mother practices and fine-tunes these tools and techniques, she very well may go on to have a faster, easier and better birth for her and her baby.
As a certified HypnoBirthing® Practitioner and the founder of Born Free Birthing, I find the biggest hurdle parents have is the Hypno/Hypnosis aspect. Many of the parents that attend my class expect I will perform a Vegas/Entertainment type of Hypnosis, but once educated and having experienced what Hypnosis for childbirth really is like, they are often blown away at how effective and relaxing it actually is.
A HypnoBirthing® class won’t teach a mother how to give birth; her body and baby already know how to do this. Over the span of five weeks, with each class lasting roughly 2.5 hours, we, as HypnoBirthing® Practitioners, teach our moms about their bodies, and why it is working the way it is in order to birth her baby easily and comfortably. We teach our moms about the powerful muscle that is the Uterus, and how through breathing and relaxation techniques, they can assist in helping it perform to the best of its ability and to not resist and impede what it is trying to do. We teach our moms to trust their bodies, for the birthing body is not a lemon, it is beautifully designed and they must trust the process to just release, relax and let go. We remind our moms they are capable and strong beings.
We prepare our couples for every turn their birth may take, because we know birth very rarely goes exactly to plan, and it is vital to be prepared and educated as much as possible. We pay great attention to the dad or birthing companion, and educating them on how best to assist the laboring mom. We teach wonderful massage and deepening techniques that will help mom stay in her calm zone. We prepare our dads or birthing companions for the birth from the very start to the very end: what to expect through the stages of labor, how to communicate with the caregiver on duty, how to bond with mom and baby before, during and after the birth, hospital protocols, comfort measures for mom on the birth day, and so on. When our dads or birthing companions are fully prepared and confident on the birth day, then mom can relax and birth free of worry or concern. When both mom and partner are educated and prepared for the birth of their baby, the birth day can be one of the most empowering days filled with immense joy, bonding and discovery, for it’s not just a baby that was born, but the parents too.
Hypnobirthing® really can help you have a great birth. And I should know…because I’ve experienced it first hand! So, now I’d love to share our beautiful Hypnobirthing® story…
The Birth of Isla
My first birth was very medicated and much managed. I was told how to lay, when to move and screamed at to push. I was left with PPD and a host of postpartum healing issues. For weeks after, I’d ask myself, “Why? Why would women do this to themselves over and over?” I just couldn’t understand it.
One night, about six months after having my child, I was online researching birthing methods. I found so many, but one in particular kept coming up. It was highly regarded in forums and chat-rooms, it was an internationally recognized and taught method. Celebs were birthing and boasting about their easy births. What on earth was this HypnoBirthing all about? I mean, I’m not a hippy, I’m far from chilled and zen, I don’t meditate and I wanted a hospital birth. My husband, as supportive as he is, would never go for this! Maybe HypnoBirthing wasn’t for me after all. But it was, and I knew I wanted to learn more, so I did! I joined communities, groups, Facebook pages and forums. I studied and researched like crazy. Everything about HypnoBirthing was resonating with me; it was all so obvious. This Marie Mongan lady was a genius, and she was going to help me have the birth I wanted. The birth I needed.
Fast-forward three and a half years, and I found I was pregnant with baby number two. It was awesome, major excitement for obvious reasons, and now it was Game Time. I interviewed some OBGYNs and found my dream team: Nurse Amy and Dr. Arin. So supportive, so respectful and understanding. I mean, you know you’ve hit the jackpot when you list your ‘demands’ and they are met with, “Yes, sure, we do that anyway”… “I’ve never done that, but if that’s important to you sure, go ahead” (Placenta Encapsulation). There was never any pushback or further discussion on any of my birth wishes throughout my pregnancy. I was treated so well and I couldn’t believe how awesome it was building a team so supportive and loving.
My ‘due date’ came and went, as it did with my first child. Induction was brought up and I resisted and resisted until almost 42 weeks. I was to be induced, I was terrified and fearful that everything I’d done and all the hard work over the course of almost 4 years was down the tube, but I checked myself and remembered, I was stronger than any dose of Pitocin. It was still MY day and I was still in charge. I ate, I drank, I walked, I showered, I took two amazing naps, I wore my own clothes, I listened to my HypnoBirthing tracks, I listened to my Pandora. My hubby got to rest, eat and refuel. It was just such an easy and chilled out day. After 13 hours, it was time to meet our child; we still didn’t know the gender so it was exciting knowing we would be finding out soon. With 6 J breaths and primal roars (it turns out I’m a primal mama, lol) my husband told me we had a girl and passed me our second daughter. I couldn’t believe it, I did it! WE did it. It was so much easier than I ever imagined, and so much more powerful than I could have ever guessed. Now I knew why women did this over and over again, because birth was awesome.
I look back on my birth and I remember very specific things. I remember being 7cm and my husband telling me with such a huge smile on his face, he couldn’t even tell I was in active labour. I remember it being 6pm, nurse Amy coming to visit me and say hi, and the sound of her soft whispers as she was talking to my husband while I was deep in my surges. I remember Dr. Arin not saying a word during the birthing phase. There was no yelling to push, she was sitting far enough away I could see her hands and she was just observing and allowing the process to unfold. I remember feeling the urge, thinking that ‘it’s time’ and the excitement and chat I had with myself to focus and let my body do its job. And I will never forget hearing my husband say, “We have an Isla,” as he passed me our newest daughter. I look back and I know I was respected and supported. All my hard work paid off and I had had my amazing HypnoBirth.
I always say my first birth was what I needed to experience in order to have my HypnoBirth. I was in no way prepared for my first birth – I learned that the hard way. Birth is not the time to ‘wing it’. My advice to other expectant mothers: take a great childbirth preparation class. Education is power. You and your baby deserve to enjoy your birth day.
Cliodhna Griffin, HBCE, APPAC, is the founder of Born Free Birthing, with the very specific goal to help pregnant women and their birthing companions have an educated and empowered pregnancy, birth and postpartum period. Cliodhna has been trained in HypnoBirthing® by the founder Marie F Mongan, is a certified HypnoBirthing® Practitioner in Houston, Texas, and is proudly Houston’s first APPA triple certified Placenta Encapsulation Specialist.
Cliodhna is a dedicated practitioner and loves to help moms have happy births and strong postpartum recoveries.
Cliodhna hails from Ireland but currently lives in Texas with her husband of almost 10 years and their 2 fantastic daughters, 1 of whom is a darling HypnoBirthing® baby.
For more information go to www.bornfreebirthing.com . You can follow Born Free Birthing on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bornfreebirthing and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/bornfreebirthing
To find a certified Mongan Method HypnoBirthing® Practitioner near you, go to www.HypnoBirthing.com