Natal Hypnotherapy--was my experience an anomoly? Wrong program?(12 Posts)
For dc #1 I practiced a version of hypnotherapy called Hypnobabies religiously from 24 weeks on...I think it's slightly different from the more common Maggie Howell program that seems very popular here (although I'm not super familiar with it so my apologies if I am misinformed), in that one of the most important goals is to eliminate the prospect of pain from your mind because supposedly if you don't expect pain, you won't get pain (you stop using the word, and ask others to stop using it around you as well, etc.). It doesn't teach any methods for dealing with being uncomfortable other than deep relaxation.
Anyway, during the birth when I did actually experienced pain--I freaked out because I wasn't expecting it to happen and certainly wasn't prepared for how to cope with it. I was terrified because I kept thinking, "Oh my god, something must be wrong, I shouldn't be feeling this", which created more fear and making the whole thing worse. Very quickly the hypnobabies program went out the window and I had an epidural. (it probably didn't help that both the midwife and the doula I had hired laughed at me when I told them I was going to be doing self-hypnosis...it is much less common to do this in the states--it's definitely considered more of a "crunchy" fringe thing, and neither of them had experienced a successful hypnobirth, so they were both skeptical and I wasn't very supported)
Anyway, as I approach the birth of DC #2 in October, I am evaluating how to prepare this time around, as I would really like to try for an unmedicated birth if I can as the epidural made it very difficult for me to push (I had zero sensation, no urge to push, etc.) and resulted in a terrible experience with an episiotomy. Anyway, I have heard SO many women/doulas/midwives rave about hypnotherapy here and I am openminded to trying some version of hypnosis again....
What I guess I am wondering is: was my experience abnormal? Could it be that I used the wrong program? Is it possible that hypnotherapy just doesn't work for me?
I want to be realistic about what to expect in labor this time around so that I am better prepared to get through it.
Anyway, any advice/tips would be appreciated!
Thanks in advance
Mmmm I think it is abnormal not to expect pain in an unmedicated childbirth! I had #1 with gas and air only, and had listened to some hypnobirthing podcasts before but hadn't done it in any detail so can't comment on the different approaches.
Much more realistic I think is to accept there will be 'pain' or whatever you want to call it, but that it is the pain of exertion not illness and practice techniques to help you manage it. I would wholeheartedly recommend Ina May Gaskin's guide to childbirth.
No I think your experience is quite common of first time mums who try hypnobirthing.
I know you are told that you have to push the idea of pain out of your mind but my successful experience of hypnobirthing has only worked when I converted the concept of pain into a positive feeling rather than expect it not to happen altogether. Because of this the pain was greatly reduced and because I actually was enjoying it, I could say I wasn't in any pain.
The other important thing I also point out is that many people practice hypnobirthing in a calm environment. Then when they are in labour and in a busy environment, they find it really hard to concentrate.
For this reason, I practice Hypnobirthing in very busy environments and use the noise to drive me deeper into hypnosis. This seems to really work for me.
I would say definitely go for it this time round. You know what to expect and therefore you are better equipped.
I saw a hypnotherapist who had previously helped me with a phobia, so it wasn't a 'course' as such, but I know she'd done extra training herself in hypnotherapy for childbirth (as well as having had 3 children of her own). I also did pregnancy yoga (anything to get me out of the house!). In my experience, the yoga teacher was far more anti-pain relief than my hypnotherapist!
My therapist focused on techniques to help me control my fear of pain/ lack of control, and was much more about calm, strength, and, in my case - probably a different focus for different people, about moving forward through the process, so that once one stage, pain, medical procedure was past, I could calmly face the next bit. Oh, and breathing exercises etc etc.
She gave me a note to give to the hospital to say that I'd been prepared for birth with hypnotherapy, which I slipped into my notes, but didn't mention, as I thought the midwives might scoff too! As it turned out though, I was much further dilated than my outward symptoms suggested when I got to hospital, and I got lots of compliments on how calm I was when it was all over. I sort of assumed they 'said that to all the girls' though!
I suppose my only advice would be to choose your therapist carefully, particularly now that you have more idea what you're likely to experience in childbirth.
The Maggie Howell version doesn't claim you won't experience pain, just teaches ways to try and relax and let it wash over you. YOu might find that better?
My experience of natal hypnotheraphy was that it didn't deny that there would be pain. Everyone has a different pain threshold and there are strageries for coping with pain so that it is not unbearable.
Most women find the first labour the hardest. With the second baby your body has stretched before so labour is often quicker.
I found it helped me to live in the present and not think about long term goals during child birth. It definately helps to have an open mind about pain relief and for some women an epidural is the right choice.
I used Maggie Howell successfully - but it definitely hurt, a lot. I needed to accept that it would hurt and put coping strategies in place.
I also recommend Ina May Gaskin.
I used HypnoBirthing the Marie Mongan method and successfully hyonoBirthed DD 3 weeks ago.. she was back to back and just had gas and air. Can honesty say that it wasn't painful, just felt extreme pressure, aside from when she was crowning and then it was more 'a bit nippy' rather than agonising, and I think that's because the roon suddenly got busier and there was talk of forceps because she hadn't turned, was face up and kept disappearing back inside, so that kind if snapped me out of the zone I was in IYSWIM?
Oh, also, with DD2 I used Maggie Howell, but I wouldn't say I had a hypnobirth. I found that it helped in the early stages, but later on I had to be more 'warrior woman' bellowing. It was one tool in my coping toolkit, not a whole labour strategy IYSWIM.
I used HypnoBirthings (is that the maggie howell one) with dd and natal hypnotherapy with ds. With dd i did feel pain, but no more than a strong period pain. With ds, who was second it was more intense, but from first contraction to cutting the cord was 20 mins so i guess it was always going to be intense.
It sounds like your midwife and doula may have added to your stress, by making you feel like you had something to prove? I know this flies in the face of what you're told to do, but i didn't tell any of my midwives that i was using hypnobirthing and that worked for me.
I used the hypnobirthing techiques (Marie Mongan method) and had a great experience but that's because whilst I was expecting it to hurt, I knew that the more relaxed I became, the less pain I would experience.
So I basically challenged myself each contraction to relax even more than the last one. It worked to the point that I would sleep in between contractions. It certainly wasn't pain free but I always told myself that there is a great deal of difference between pain and suffering and I was very lucky that I had an optimal birthing experince. DS arrived after 5 hours.
Am 8 weeks with #2 and will definitely use the hypnobirthing methods again. I found that I couldn't listen to the cd when in labour but found my own visualisation methods in a bathtub with the lights out worked very well to get me in the zone. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the same experience this time!
I'm not in the UK either and live in a community very epidural/c-section/OBGYN heavy birth environment. I was very grateful that I had both a doula who knew that if I said I wanted drugs, I meant it, and an OBGYN who respected my wishes to try for a drug free labour. They met me in the middle and I had the birth I wanted.
Having said all that, as long as you don't put any pressure on yourself to birth a certain way then you'll be fine. I knew that I wanted to go as far as I could without pain relief if I could, but if I found it very difficult, had a difficult labour or a very long one, I would ask for the epidural. As long as it's an experience that you want, that's what you should aim for.
I was furious after my first birth that I had "given into" the pain (60 hours of labour before I did) and had an epidural and felt like a failure.
I have just posted on this thread at length about it, and would recommend again Juju Sundin's book for the reasons I explain there. It gives brilliant coping mechanisms for the pain, including but not limited to relaxation/visualisation
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