PJ and I started our Hypnobirthing classes and I have formed a couple of thoughts about it already (as I am wont to do).
If you’re not already aware of it (as most people aren’t) the concept is simple: Most couples approach the process of labor with fear and anxiety (and in a lot of ways rightly so: It is a major event). When you get scared (fear/anxiety) the physiology of your body causes everything to tense up (good ol’ “Fight Or Flight” reflex) and makes the opening of the uterus and cervix difficult and painful. If you can relax and control the fear and anxiety, the birth can be if not pain-free, at least not the huffing and puffing screaming scenario that most of us associate with the idea of childbirth. Matt briefly touched on it in a previous post.
First of all, I kinda think “Hypnobirthing” is a lousy name, because it automatically conjures up visions of corny magicians and some joker holding a pocket watch in front of your eyes until you cluck like a chicken. I wish they would have called it “Focused Birthing” or “Relaxed Birthing” or “The Mongan Method” (after the woman who popularized it). If you say the word “Hypnobirthing” at a party, you automatically feel stupid, and I think the new-age cheesyness of the name could turn people off before they give it a shot.
Second, people who I know who are science-minded natural born cynics have done it and have had great success. Matt’s wife Jackie wrote about it a bit and in conversations with her PJ and I were very convinced (unless you were lying, Jackie. You best not be lying). We’ve seen a lot of videos of these couples giving birth and throughout the whole thing they are focused, calm, often smiling. There is obviously a lot of work when the baby is actually being born, but it isn’t screaming, sweating, “I Hate You!!! What Did You Do To Me!?!” kind of labor, it is relaxed and calm birthing with patient quiet coaching from their birth partner, often whispering in the woman’s ear. The babies are born (sometimes quickly, sometimes after 36 hours of labor) wide-eyed, not crying, calmly aware of their surroundings…not red-faced and screaming like what I used to imagine a newborn to be like.
Thirdly, I really believe it works after going through this simple exercise in class: Relax. Take slow, deep breaths. Close your eyes. Picture a kitchen. A nice kitchen. Somewheren you have been before and have fond memories of. Look at the countertops and the appliances. Feel the textures of the surfaces. Smell what’s cooking on the stove. Feel the heat from the burner and hear everything in the kitchen.