What do you think of when I say Hypnobirthing?
I would imagine at least a good share of people envision a Crunchy Orange County Mom hypnosis technique where some strange fat man swings a plumb bob in your face when labor starts and then you wake up to ‘Oh look… a baby!’ with no recollection of the last 37 hours.
Thankfully my friend Jaime was quick to explain otherwise when she first suggested it to us as a birthing method – far better than the Lamaze classes my parents took.
**Disclaimer: I promise to NOT detail labor here, so feel free to continue**
So anyone who’s ever watched a movie knows that labor and delivery is a stirrup supported cussfest of telling your husband to put down the video camera. But after hearing about my friend’s super short labors for both kids and nothing but pleasant yet unmedicated accounts of the detailed parts, I figured…. Yes, please! I’ll have one of those!
So started my digging and found Four Trimesters here in Singapore and signed us up for 4 hour classes each Saturday for the next 6 weeks. Most men, I would imagine, aren’t in love with 24 hours of birthing instruction, but Steve seemed content enough that all he had to do was show up. Especially since I just spent the last 6 months growing a person for him.
Photo: on our way to class each week
And then school started….
The classes were broken into 3 sections; Mind and Body, Understanding Our Options, and Bringing Baby Home.
In Mind & Body Class 1 we learned about how tension causes pain and that the best thing we can do before the birth is to address any fears we have – both he and I – openly so that we’re not worried about them at all during labor.
For example, After getting woozy at an untrasound of the heartbeat, I was pretty sure he would pass out. So to conquer this, we talked about having a doula as my backup so I knew I was supported 100%.
I would have to imagine, hypnowhatever or not, that this is a solid conversation any new parents should have before the kiddo shows up. Science agrees.
Mind & Body Class 2 was all about physical preparedness. This is where the dad’s got an updated health lesson of what part is connected to other parts and what’s going to stretch, tear, or otherwise change in a few short months with mom’s body. Their reactions and questions were both hilarious and unbelievably reassuring that they wanted to be so involved.
We also got to understand how the baby’s position and our laboring position can make a huge difference in delivery. Like when my doula suggested lunges during contractions while delivery; which worked miracles. Apparently the nurse’s facial expression when from ‘lunges… *scoff* …yeah right’ to ‘holy shit get the doctor!’ pretty quick. Thanks Keidi!!
Photo: Our doula helping us practice our Spinning Babies movements to keep the baby in the best position.
Hypnobirthing isn’t about being ‘natural’ at all costs. It’s about making informed decision about having the empowered birth you want. So Understanding Our Options Class 3 was a big one all about medical intervention and plan B here in Singapore. We talked about everything from what kinds of questions to confirm with your doctor to the differences between the two kinds of epidurals to what medications are commonly used or available upon request in Singapore compared to their U.S. or Brittish alternatives.
This helped us detail Plan B (and C….) with our doctor the steps we preferred should shit hit the fan. So that when the doctor says, ‘it’s time for an intervention’, you knew what was next and had already decided that you’d, for example, prefer to start with small doses of Pitocin rather than being hit with the whole shebang right away.
This came into play when I was in labor for 4 days and then it stopped…. *gah! WHAT?!?* My OB said we could induce today or that he was comfortable waiting up to a week. Thanks to our classes, we knew exactly what kinds of induction I could request and knew that the risks associated with them weren’t necessary yet if we were both still healthy. It took us about 45 second to decide to wait because we knew what exactly what he was talking about.
Understanding Our Options Class 4 got into the ‘hypno’part; mostly knowing when it’s ‘go time’ and what to do get into the right mindset for a relaxed birth. Those 4 hours are probably best summarized to say that I’ll do me and he does absolutely everything else. I breathe and relax and listen to music and my body and he packs the bag and calls the cab and alerts the family that we’re headed in (and tells my mom that I will talk to her later!) and rubs my back during contractions and talks to nurses and makes medical decision and reminds me to breath and move and eat and drink and…. yeah… everything else.
He is and was amazing. End of story.
The nice part was that we had homework; practice relaxing! Tricks I mastered and still use today. And a trick that had us roll up to the hospital making sure to bring my iPad preset to Fourplay Radio.
Side note: This class also solidified our choice to employ the help of an amazing Doula named Keidi; to help him remember to remind me to do all these things and be the calm voice and level head you need through those early morning hours.
This is also the class that really came in handy when touring the baby assembly line that is the hospital system in Singapore. (Where the package includes 12 hours in the delivery room before they start charging a la carte!) And questions about the access to a room with mobile CTG monitoring vs what kind of cable channels or meals are available made me feel like I was a bit more in control of knowing what kind of birth I wanted to have. (Whether I actually was is debatable, but the feeling was nice.)
Then the last two sessions talked about Bringing Baby Home. Class 5 was all about breastfeeding. I’ll spare the details, but 4 hours was well worth the lesson of what to expect…. Almost. Finally Class 6 Parenting 101 let the guys practice things like changing a diaper and helped us all understand a few of the basics of what to expect that first few weeks besides the total lack of sleep.
As far as the classes, I give kudos to all of the men in our class. They are all amazing fathers now (we were all 1st time parents) and have been pretty fantastic and supportive! And our final class was actually on Valentine’s Day – How romantic! HA!
So………. Was it worth it?
Photo: Taken 3 days before delivery after working on relaxation and Spinning Babies movements. Left – Ginny. Right – Keidi
After a short (~12:30am-6:11am) labor and an unmedicated, pain free (yes – it’s possible), not even an IV delivery I can’t recommend Hypnobirthing or having a doula enough.
Because of those classes and their guidance, I knew:
- when to wake Steve — and had the trust and prep for him take over his share of the duties
- what stage I was at — only spent about 75 min at the hospital and pushed for a mere 15-20 of those
- which positions were going to be most comfortable to deliver — the Epi No is brilliant
- how to keep baby in the right position those last weeks — Doula Ginny Phang is one of the few coaches in the world trained in Spinning Babies
- what my options were for intervention — declined induction and a VE because I knew I could and they weren’t needed
And then we had Keidi and Ginny by our side before, during and after delivery for support with relaxation techniques, feeding and all of the other little annoying questions as things came up as a new parent!
I have no doubt our little miracle baby arrived here so quickly and so healthy thanks in part to these two women!
“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” ~Elizabeth Stone