When it comes to natural childbirth (a.k.a. childbirth without drugs), there are three basic pain management "methods" that you can choose from:
1. Bradley (a.k.a. Husband-Coached Childbirth)
When I say "method," I am describing a prescribed system or class wherein you follow a particular philosophy.
There is, of course, also an extensive menu of other "techniques" that can be used (aromatherapy, laboring in water, visualization, focal points, soft lighting, music, massage, etc.) in combination with or as part of one of the three big methods.
It is important to note that some women don't use a "method" at all. They just do what seems natural.
I first became interested in Hypnobirthing after William Camann, anesthesiologist and author of Easy Labor: Every Woman's Guide to Choosing Less Pain and More Joy During Childbirth, said he would try that method if he were a woman an labor. He explained that women who used hypnobirthing (as opposed to Bradley or Lamaze) seemed calmer and more able to enjoy their labor experiences.
I found it fascinating so I was excited to read this book and see what all the "fuss" was about.
Essentially, hypnobirthing stands on the premise that, "when fear is not present, pain is not present. Fear causes the arteries leading to the uterus to contract and become tense, creating pain. In the absence of fear, the muscles relax and become pliable, and the cervix is able to naturally thin and open as the body pulsates rhythmically and expels the baby with ease." This foundation is based in large part on the research and writings of Dr. Grantly Dick-Read, a physician and author of Childbirth Without Fear (first published in the mid-fifties). The Hypnobirthing movement officially came on the scene in 1989 and has been slowly growing in popularity since then.
I appreciated the fact that "the basic tenet" of hypnobirthing is that "childbirth is a normal, natural, and healthy function for women." The book also goes on to say that, "the bodies of healthy pregnant women instinctively know how to give birth."
I was relieved when I realized that hypnobirthing is not some strange hypnotic trance that moms are led into with a spoon going back-and-forth, back-and-forth, with a syrupy psychologist's voice in the background. Nor is it like the comedic (and sometimes frightening) hypnotist shows that are so popular at county fairs across the country. The title is, in fact, a bit misleading. The philosophy is more about visualization and relaxation than the way pop culture defines hypnosis.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I had a drug-free childbirth in a hospital setting for my first birth. Before the big day, my husband and I took a one-day "fast track" childbirth course through the hospital that covered everything from epidurals to birth balls to breathing. I also read a lot of literature. When I look back on that day, I would say that my experience was positive (it resulted in a very healthy and happy mama and baby), but I think there was a lot of unnecessary fear surrounding my experience. There were IVs and apparatuses and nurses running here-and-there...not exactly a calm environment.
Next time, I'll likely deliver at a birth center with a midwife...and I'll probably try hypnobirthing to some extent. I'm positive that I'll re-read this book and listen to the accompanying CD.
If you are considering enrolling in a childbirth preparation course, I highly recommend that you look into hypnobirthing classes. You can find a class on the Hypnobirthing website. You might also want to purchase the book, especially if you want to check it out before investing in the class.
NOTE: There is also a class series called Hypnobabies (I'm not exactly sure what the difference is, but I'll get back to you on that. I'm interviewing a representative from Hypnobabies later this week.)
WIN IT! One mama will win a copy of "Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method" by Marie Mongan. To enter, simply leave a comment on this post about your childbirth experience (what method you used, what method you would like to use, what your impression is of hypnobirthing, etc.) prior to Sunday, Mar. 16, at midnight (don't forget to follow the rules). The winner will be announced and contacted on Monday, Mar. 17. * Winner must provide a U.S. mailing address.
* UPDATE * The winner is #16 Kari. Congratulations!