Before writing this post, I was incredibly pregnant with our second baby. I was fully ready to give birth but terrified at the same time that my plan of having a positive hypnobirthing experience would unravel. My first birthing experience was horrible. At the time, I had no knowledge or experience of my own. I was young and the first of my friends to have a baby. So naturally, I felt like everyone but me was in control and my only plan was to listen to those around me making the choices for me and my baby. I’m ecstatic to say, with a second baby in my arms, that I am wholly ready to share with you that I had a much better birth this time around that I did have the positive hypnobirthing experience that I’d dreamed of.
Since publishing this story, I have had 3 hypnobirths. Come follow my journey through motherhood with four boys on Instagram.
Having such a great hypnobirth after such a devastating conventional birth, makes me wonder why more first-time moms aren’t given the tools they need to have a more positive birthing experience. I want to share with you how, what, why, and the tools that I used to go med-free for our second baby.
What is Hypnobirthing?
Hypnobirthing is a combination of self-hypnosis, relaxation, breathing techniques, and poses that women use to overcome pain during labor. It’s basically a lot of humming, rocking, stretching, breathing, and relaxing with maybe a bit of essential oils. The trick to have a successful positive hypnobirthing experience is to PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.
How to Practice Hypnobirthing
The great thing about this birth method is that you can really prepare yourself in the comfort of your own home for free. All you need is a few free tools and possibly a rebozo wrap. I would start practicing your Hynobirthing meditations and yoga at home as early on in your pregnancy as you decide this is a possible route for you. The more practice you have, the quicker you’ll be able to fall into meditation during labor and stay the course.
The free apps that I used are:
- Hypnobirthing: Birth made easy
- Hypnobirthing: Calm Pregnancy
- Katie Appleton Pregnancy Yoga
- Hypnobirthing Rocks
Tools to help your practices:
- Bath tub
- Rebozo Wrap
- Yoga Blocks
- Yoga Mat
- Squatting Ball
Make sure when doing your practices to drink lots of water and really take in the meditation. If one meditation sound doesn’t seem to be working for you, try something different. You may find that you like a variety of meditations or one single track that you continue going back to.
Why I Chose to Have a Hypnobirth
When I found out I was expecting my first, I was terrified. I wasn’t afraid of the morning sickness, or becoming a mother, or even concerned about how I could love anyone more than his father. I was extremely anxious about pain medication and anesthesia. Being my first pregnancy and working in a hair salon, I heard tons of stories from other women: the good, the bad, and the down right ugly. Everyone had their opinions, but the one opinion everyone had in common, was to have an epidural. Of course I didn’t want to feel the “pain” of birthing a child, but I also didn’t want myself or my son to suffer from any side effects of the medication. Come delivery day I still hadn’t decided 100% on how I would manage the “pain”.
The time came and I was quickly admitted into Labor and Delivery. 15 minutes after my arrival to triage, I was greeted by a nurse who explained to me that the Anesthesiologist was on her way up to stick three other girls, if I want the Epidural, get it now. This gave me no time to prepare, and I was afraid that if I passed on it, it wouldn’t be available to me if I wanted it. So, I did it.
The needle itself wasn’t awful. I held my nurses hand, since they have the dad’s stand a few feet away in case they pass out. I took a deep breath in and felt a small twinge in my back and it was in. Within 10 minutes, my entire chest and throat were numb and I still had feeling in my legs and left side. They had me sit straight up at a 90 degree angle for almost 2 hours and it never “dripped” into my left side. Upon 7 cm I was fully laboring and feeling every bit of it. I was hooked up to machines, being pumped full of fluids, and looked like a balloon. It was extremely uncomfortable and I was having a hard time managing every contraction. However, I’m thankful that I missed out on the “ring of fire” sensation because I had the epidural, but I did feel every bit of labor on my left side.
Fast forward 2 years…
My Experience Practicing Hypnobirthing
Because of my experience with the epidural, when I found out we were expecting our second baby, I immediately opted out of pain medication. I didn’t want to risk having the same experience, if not worse, with this delivery. After taking about 6 weeks to let it set in that I was having another baby, I decided it was time to figure out how I would birth this baby the old fashioned way: non medicated, fully aware, and feeling every bit of it.
I started researching everything I could online about natural birth. I found a lot of different techniques that worked for some but not for others. Once i talked it over with my husband and had his full support and faith behind me, I brought up the idea of natural birthing to one of my midwives. She assured me that with the right mindset, I could do it but, to prepare myself for possibly giving in to medication and that it was going to still be okay if I did. Being that this was my second birth and he was showing himself to likely be a bit smaller than his big brother, I had hope that labor and the pushing process would be shorter and slightly easier to manage, especially with hypnobirthing techniques. After leaving my appointment and feeling more confident in my decision, Paying $300 per class when I knew all of the hypnobirthing information I needed was right at my fingertips. I scoured YouTube and watched over 100 videos about natural birth, “live” births, even birthing in the middle of the woods. Every video I watched gave me a boost and made me feel even more confident that I could hypnobirth my baby into our world. I also found really incredible short yoga sessions for free by Katy Appleton on YouTube. I started doing her yoga videos once a day, and later in my pregnancy, craved it. There were days I’d visit up her channel 3 times in a day. It opened up such a spiritual side to me that I never knew I had. Which leads me to, my favorite part of the hypnobirthing process, meditation! Everything I read explained to me that hypnobirthing isn’t about being hypnotized with a pocket watch to get rid of your pain, it’s about getting in touch with your body and realizing that the pain sensation you’re having, isn’t actually pain, it’s pressure. It’s a feeling that a woman’s body is meant to feel and it’s completely normal. I devoted 2 hours a day or more, to studying and staying focused on practicing each birthing method so that when my baby’s big debut came, I’d be ready. I was spending my days practicing meditative belly dancing, yoga, bath tub meditation, and listening to my free hypnobirthing app from the App Store (the apps I listed above are a MUST.)
It was so exciting to tell my family that I was going to try for a natural birth. I didn’t get the reaction that I had hoped by some. Everyone was fully supportive, but a few of my family members asked, “who are you trying to be a hero for?” , “they give medication so you don’t have to feel it, why do you want to feel the pain?” I understood where they were coming from but, I wasn’t trying to be a hero, I just wanted to do what I thought was best for my body and my baby. I honestly think that they didn’t feel confident in my decision or that I would actually follow through once the day came, which is totally understandable since none of them had ever hypnobirthed before. My mind was set, I was going to have this baby without medication and I felt confident in the hypnobirthing techniques I was practicing. So, I kept on my routine and practiced my yoga and meditation everyday. I found the best time for my quick yoga sessions were in the morning upon waking, and in the evening before meditation. As for meditation, I got the most out of a session that lasted at least 45 minutes. That gave me enough time to breath, relax, and get to the point where I could let go of everything that day and just focus on my breathing and my baby. I loved meditating in the tub (at a warm, NOT HOT, temperature so you don’t hurt your baby***). It was so calming and peaceful with the lights off and a few candles lit. It was just me and my little boy. I also loved putting my meditation music on once I laid down for bed and letting it put me to sleep. I still do this and I promise it will give you your best sleep ever! The best advice I can give you on meditation, is to actually listen, I mean really listen, to the guide in your music the first few times. Once you listen to the words, you will eventually be able to kind of guide yourself and listen to meditation tracks without a speaker and it will help you understand how to get your body and mind into a trans-like state. My favorite visualization was to think about a floating ball at the end of your feet just floating above them, it can be any calming color of your choice (mine was purple and blue). Try to keep that floating ball in its place and focus on it just floating there. I know it probably doesn’t make sense reading it, but hearing it on a track was so uplifting and soothing and really helped me focus. My other favorite was to think about your body as if it’s a rose opening up. This visualization was great for labor, it really helped me focus on what my body was actually doing and why.
When I got to 34 weeks, I was hitting my studying even harder, doing yoga every single day a handful of times, and NEVER missed a night meditating in my tub or while laying in bed. I was getting nervous and afraid of not having the strength to do this. A part of me was even questioning if I did the right thing by not paying for the classes, but it was too late. I read a ton of great information about drinking red raspberry leaf tea late in your pregnancy to help open your cervix and also using clary sage oil in an infuser during labor. Once I got the “okay,” from my midwife, I was drinking 3 cups a day of red raspberry leaf tea. It wasn’t fruity, it just tastes like a non flavored hot tea. I’ve also heard that it’s beneficial for your cervix to take primrose oil but, didn’t try it myself. When packing my hospital bag, I included a small vile of clary sage oil and asked my husband to request a room with an essential oil infuser, a tub, and a birthing ball. During my entire pregnancy, I thought that I’d end up in the tub laboring like all the other women I saw on YouTube. So I was very demanding when it came to requesting a room with a tub. To keep the meditative environment, I also brought battery operated candles, honey sticks, and red raspberry leaf tea bags.
My Positive Hypnobirthing Experience
At 4:15 AM on April 4, 2014, I leaned over, grabbed my phone, texted my dad to calmly shower, pack, and head over, and then woke up hubby to tell his mom that we’re ready to go. I got out of bed, used the potty, got dressed, even put on a little make up, made hubby a sandwhich, and walked out the door. Thinking back now, I am pretty sure we forgot something and had to turn around when we got up to the end of our street but, either way I made it to the hospital! We checked into triage and I had to sit with monitors for at least 25 minutes before they would give me a birthing room. This was probably the most difficult time for me honestly. I just wanted to sit on the potty lol and stand, and move but, with the band monitors I had to stay in a certain position so they would get a good reading. FINALLY, I gave them what they needed to send us to our room and once we got in, I had the lights shut off, my infuser full with clary sage oil, battery operated candles glowing, and my meditation in my ear.
A few times, I changed positions but, once I got into a spot I liked, I didn’t want to move from there. I also made my own hospital gowns for my stay which was a little more comfortable than the ones they give out and it smelled like my home instead of a thrift store. lol Believe it or not, I didn’t use a birthing ball or get into the tub but, I did have a few sips of my tea and loved not being hooked up to an IV and only needed monitoring every hour for fifteen minutes.
When I reached 8 cm a nurse came in and asked if I wanted to be checked. I did of course because I was ready to see my baby but, after a cervix check, which is already a tad uncomfortable since my cervix is always high, things can start to move along quicker. Once she was finished, she put my belly bands on and checked on the baby. I remember looking over at her and asking, “does it get harder than this?’ She legit, chuckled and said to me, verbatim, “Honey, you’re done. If you were going to want medication, you would have asked already. You’re past the point that most people give in, you’re doing this and you’re doing amazing.” I started balling. Her words just gave me more encouragement and more satisfaction that I CAN do this, I am already doing this. I’m at the worst part and it’s not even that bad! Granted, it’s not all roses and buttercups but, I did my work, and I worked hard to get to this point so that I could make it this far without the medication. I also remember commenting to my MIL that I wish I had filmed this so, I could put it on You Tube. No joke. & I even looked over at my mom a few minutes later and said to her, Mom, I’m doing this. I have no medication. I”M DOING THIS!” She couldn’t believe it and replied to me that this was the most calm and collected she had EVER seen me in my life.
Those of you who personally know me, know that I have a bouncy, puppy-dog type personality. For my mom to see me so calm and cool was just my mind taking over my body in this meditated state. The music I chose was perfect for me. It played in my ear the entire time until my baby was born. I replayed the same song over and over again for almost 5 hours and it kept me in a safe spot in my mind. It was important in the moment that there wasn’t a change of songs mid labor. So I would squeeze husband’s hand when I needed a restart on the song. Believe it or not, I was even calm enough to let him venture down stairs, grab some coffee, and even let him eat breakfast in my room while I was in labor. The smell? I didn’t even notice it. I was so involved in my meditation that I could care less.
Once I reached 9 cm, and very soon after, got to 10. My water had to be broken, as it was in my first but, no big deal. My midwife came in, checked that I was at 9, felt around for my water, and simply asked me, “It’s up to you. Do you want me to break it? Do you want to have your baby now or do you want to wait a little while?” I knew I was ready so, I replied, “No, I want to see my baby. I’m ready, let’s do it.” Not even 20 minutes later and I was pushing out my beautiful little man. The only sensation that I remember actually being “painful” was the burning in my legs from pushing and I DID feel that glorious ring of fire down below during my two last pushes getting his shoulders through, which led to two pretty loudÂ screams but, otherwise I was pretty silent and “painless” throughout my laboring and delivery. As I said before, what most people feel as pain is really just pressure and if you put the practice and work into it, as long a things go smoothly for you and your baby to be safe and healthy, you can have a painless labor without medication. I know there are skeptics and those with their experiences and opinions but, this was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life and if I was asked I would do it all over again the same way.
Before having little Kenedy, I also planned to keep my placenta and encapsulate it. Basically, I found the number to someone who picks up, dehydrates, grinds, and encapsulates your placenta for you within 48 hours of your baby being born. The only thing you have to do is bring a small styrofoam cooler with you to the hospital and fill it with ice. Once you deliver, warn your *help* first, they will package it up for you and place it in a cooler until the person comes to pick it up. I had a terrible recovering 8 months with Colin as far as my body goes. I was always tired, hungry, nauseous, getting small cysts in my ovaries, I was just a mess. So, when I heard about this process and that it rejuvenates all of the lost nutrients in your body, I was game. I know this may seem a little taboo but, really, it’s just like taking any other vitamin but, probably better for you since it’s from your body. Did you know we’re one of the only mammals who don’t eat our placentas after birth? Crazy right? And in a lot of other cultures it’s just a normal thing, for a lot of mothers, their placenta is their first meal after giving birth. Okay, enough of my side track, back to my story….
So, right after they burst my water, baby had a bowel movement and my midwife informed me that I may not be able to keep my placenta but, baby is healthy and it was only a little. I was terrified. I did all this hard work and the only words I heard her say are: Meconium, bowel movement, baby, might not be able to…My immediate thought was, “OMG. No, I am not having a C section. I have worked so hard, I’m almost done. No.” I asked her out loud if I was going to have a Cesarean delivery because of the baby’s little accident but she laughed and told me absolutely not! You’re ready and the baby is still healthy. He just wants out! After about 20 minutes of pushing, baby was here and I remember grabbing for him and just saying, “my baby, my baby.” He immediately latched on and had no problem looking at the world around him with his uber huge eyes and bright smile. I couldn’t believe how alert he was and pulled his head up on his own within the first few minutes of being born. Everyone in the room was amazed by him and by my hypnobirthing experience and couldn’t believe that I had this baby with no medication. Even the nurses were discussing it among other nurses who came in to weigh and check the baby. Unfortunately, our little Kenedy was jaundice and had to have 28 hours of phototherapy which, led to tears every time he left my side. But, today he is my healthy little bundle of patience, kindness, and big brown eyes.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story. I am in no way an expert on hypnobirthing or birthing in general but, I am an expert at my personal story and I know what did and didn’t work for me. The best advice I can give you is to be open. Be open to change, ideas, techniques, and to others’ advice. There are so many hypnobirthing techniques that I practiced which I “KNEW” I would use during my laboring process but, when it came down to it, I only used less than a handful. Also, if you have a story or similar experience you would like to share, please leave it in the comment section below for other readers to see!
These videos below helped me SO much to keep my mind right through practice! Thanks to Tracey for all of her amazing words!
@hypnobirthingrocks on Instagram.