I AM doing this!

When my doula came for a visit a couple of weeks ago and we were talking about birth plans and also about fears, we addressed that some women who have experienced pregnancy losses have difficulty “letting go” of the baby and actually pushing the baby out—feeling like they want to keep the baby safe with them. I told her that I envision this baby being born very quickly—partially because I have a history of fast births, but partially because I have feared throughout my pregnancy that she is not safe inside and I want to get her out into the world where I can hold her and see her. I felt very emotional saying this out loud, because before my losses I felt absolutely certain that my body was doing a good job keeping my babies safe and I trusted its wisdom in doing so.ย  However, during this conversation then I also realized, “but, we’re doing it, the fact that we’re here right now shows that I am keeping her safe.”

Early in November I posted a 28 week pregnancy update and in that post I talked a little bit about this same body-trust fear (the lingering what ifs about the cause of my losses) and Molly from the the blog First the Egg commented on my post saying something that touched me deeply and that has lingered with me ever since then as a very, very, very important reminder. She drew a parallel between the classic doula response to the birthing woman’s “can’t do it” comment—“You ARE doing it”—and my own current experience. I am doing it. Regardless of how I might feel, fears, etc., the proof is right there every day—I AM doing this. She is growing and kicking and breathing and hiccuping and I’m living and loving along with her. I have brought this phrase to mind many times since Molly commented on my post and I really thank her for the simple reminder ๐Ÿ™‚

Speaking of birthing plans, I’ve officially started working through the Hypnobabies home study program. I have to confess that it feels very strange to be “taking” a childbirth class after all this time of teaching childbirth classes, especially because I feel philosophically certain that there IS no “right way” to give birth and that women do not need “methods” to give birth, they need to trust their inner resources and give birth in an environmentย  of freedom that lets those inner resources bloom. However, I’ve been curious about Hypnobabies for a long time and now is my final chance to try it out! The scripts are very potent and I’m surprised by how very, completely, totally relaxing it is to listen to them—I look forward to listening as a “break” in the day and in my thoughts, etc. It is remarkable how relaxed I become in listening to them. And, when I “come back” I feel amazingly refreshed and rested. It is pretty cool. I also really like the Joyful Pregnancy Affirmations CD and have listened to that periodically for several months now (it was the weekly class work and script practice that I just started last week at 34 weeks).

I do have two “issues” with the program and we’ll see how they play out as I continue. The emphasis on “calm, peaceful” birth is challenging to reconcile with what I actually believe, experience, and truly enjoy about birth—I feel like birth is a very active process. It isn’t something to be taken “lying down.” It is a rite of passage and transformative event and not something I want to appear to “sleep” through because I’m so relaxed—-birth is something I do, not something that happens to me as I quietly relax in my “special place.” I feel like some of the information from Hypnobabies contributes to a “dissociated” or blocked out participation in birth, rather than a fully engaged, active participation. I do not mind the “out of control,” laborland, altered-state-of-consciousness, wild reality of birth—in fact, I value and cherish that and I would hate to miss the glorious intensity by being overly “calm” and peaceful! There is also an ongoing emphasis in the program on creating your own mental “anesthesia” during your birthing time—I find this incongruous with the rest of the Hypnobabies model/message which really is very contrary to the medical perspective of birth. I feel the “anesthesia” language directly conjures up medical imagery and the medical model. In all other ways and words, Hypnobabies reframes birth and the birth experience in such a positive, peaceful, loving way, I find it disappointing that there is a persistent use of a very medically-associated, “numb,” feelingless term. I also know and value birth as a very embodied process. A physical process. A felt, lived experience. “Anesthesia” communicates a detachment from and a numbing of physical sensation, which is not actually what I want from my birthing time. So, that is where I am right now. I haven’t fully worked through the whole program and we’ll see how my perspective might evolve—there is also an emphasis that you will experience the sensations exactly as you need to/your inner mind will work in exactly the right way for you—but right now, I’m very much enjoying the deep relaxation benefits ๐Ÿ™‚

7 thoughts on “I AM doing this!

  1. Calm and peaceful doesn’t equal laying down quietly. I would say that most of my Hypnobabies moms that I doula for are up and active, moving around and being very aware of what is going on. (there have been a few births where mom labors in the middle of the night and have been more laying down, appearing to be “sleeping” – but most are not like that)

    You can see how while they are calm, they are very interactive and certainly not disassociated at all, in these videos http://www.youtube.com/enjoybirth specifically Angela, Sierra, Missy and Tanya’s birth. ๐Ÿ™‚

    The ‘anesthesia’ that you naturally create is not like medical anesthesia. Some moms who are bothered by this word substitute it with endorphins in their mind. A more acceptable word to some. In the creating anesthesia script it says that this is not like medical anesthesia, in that you will still be able to feel normal things, like touching, pressure, etc.

    Common concerns and hopefully this helps explain a bit more and gives you tips on how to make it work better for you. That is one great thing about Hypnobabies, you can make it work for you the way you want!

    • Thanks for commenting (and clarifying), Sheridan! I definitely need to keep working and see what develops. I also need to practice with the scripts while NOT lying down (sitting up on a birth ball, etc. like the book suggests)–while I like how I feel after listening to the CDs, it is not how I want to feel while in labor/giving birth and I think that is where I’m wondering about the match!

      While I get that the natural anesthesia is not the same as medical anesthesia, I still find it a very odd choice of word considering how awesome Hypnobabies is at restructuring the language of birth to be so affirming and positive in every other way. It doesn’t seem to match the rest of the philosophy or approach to use a word with such strong, strong associations with the medical model. I will try subbing endorphins instead–I like that. I was trying to use “warmth” instead, because the mental image I get with it is of a soft orange glow…

  2. I took the Hypnobabies class for my first birth, and all the things you mentioned were very true for me as well. I loved the relaxation, but I ultimately think the method worked against me during my labor because it’s so contrary to who I am- very active, very vocal! I’m sure the founder would argue that you can be active and vocal AND as relaxed as the scripts make you, but I disagree with that- largely because of the points you make about the anesthesia analogy.

    I didn’t use a “method” for my second birth- I wanted to do everything the opposite the 2nd time (since I ended up with a c-section the first time). I had a wonderful homebirth and was really loud and active the whole time! I still recommend Hypnobabies as a good option for some women to explore- because it definitely kept me relaxed during my very long first labor, but in the end, I didn’t need ANY anesthesia, not even the kind that comes from my mind!

  3. I will be very interested to see your perspective on Hypnobabies through the rest of your pregnancy and as you reflect on the birth. Keep us posted, please! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I, too, am interested to see how it plays out for you. I have been curious by Hypnobabies but (I hate to admit) also a little put-off with the idea of being “detached”. I look forward to hearing more about it and maybe utilizing some of the positive aspects for my own birth. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Oh, and you ARE doing it! She’s almost here!!

  5. You are so very welcome.

    I’m interested in hearing about your experiences engaging Hypnobabies, too. One of the women I respect most in the whole world used a self-hypnosis method when she gave birth to her two babies in the early 1980s, and encouraged me to try it with my first birth. I didn’t–I didn’t want a method, I wasn’t scared, and I needed to experience whatever I experienced on my own. (Plus I have issues from a previous trauma that left me really needing to feel fully clearheaded and in control, and the idea of sort of zoning out or dissociating in any way terrified me. I know that’s not exactly what these methods are suggesting, but I think you get what I’m saying.) So I’m curious!

  6. Pingback: A Virtual Mother Blessing for Molly Westerman! « Talk Birth

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