Monday, July 23, 2012

Doula-ing a HypnoBirth

Over the weekend I attended the labor of my first HypnoBirth mother. Labor progressed at home for quite some time before arriving at the hospital at 100% effacement and 3cm dilation. This mother was amazing, so calm and in control - I really experienced how to be present for a woman and to affirm her strength in labor.

First, I think I may love HypnoBirth! When I met this particular family they were taking the childbirth education classes and shared how much they were enjoying the philosophy of centered and empowered birth. I was excited to experience something new! At our prenatal visit they let me borrow the book and I devoured the first half in two days.
HypnoBirth is based on the understanding that birth is not inherently painful and it is fear that leads to tension within the body and the experience of pain. Mothers spend a little time each day envisioning a peaceful, gentle, and fulfilling birth while preparing for the physical demands of labor using breathing exercises and relaxing to encourage a state of 'self-hypnosis'. There is also a focus on the baby's experience of pregnancy, birth and postpartum as well as encouragement of bonding during all these stages; which is refreshing to see childbirth education giving information about the psychology of the baby and the impact their experiences have on their psychological development. Preparation for birth involves an understanding of childbirth, just like other classes, but the difference being the use of positive language and affirmations about the strong nature of women's bodies and their right to experience a peaceful and gentle birth. For example, the following list shows some examples of the language used in medicine and the HypnoBirth comparison...
Contraction - Uterine Surge or Wave
Coach - Birth Companion
Due Date - Birth Month, Guess Date
Pain or Contractions -  Pressure/Sensation/Tightening
Water Breaking/Rupture - Membranes Releasing
Pushing - Breathing Down
Mucous Plug - Uterine Seal
Effacing/Dilating - Thinning/Opening
Clients/Patients - Parents
False Labor - Practice Labor

My favorite chapter of the book describes the reasoning behind their philosophy and is one of my personal interests, it is called The Power of the Mind. The opening quote is excellent,

"The mind is capable of anything-
because everything is in it, all the past,
as well as the future." -Joseph Conrad

There are four basic tenets, the Laws of the Mind, they are:
1. The Law of Psycho-Physical response - states that for every suggestion, thought or emotion a person entertains, there is a corresponding physiological and chemical response within the body
2. The Law of Harmonious Attraction - entails that our thoughts/words/beliefs/actions have energy and what we send out comes back to us, therefore you strengthen the vibration this thought/word/belief/action causes and attract the same back to you (ex: healthy people rarely speak of becoming ill, yet people who aren't healthy frequently talk about their ill health)
3. The Law of Repetition - states that when you are frequently exposed to particular concepts, through conditioning these concepts become embedded in your thoughts/words/beliefs/actions
4. The Law of Motivation - states that when the mind is highly motivated, the body responds properly (ex: playing a sport on a sprained ankle; lifting a car off a child)

These are the basis for using positive birth language, affirmations, visualizations and having the people and environment around you reflect the same. I have been growing in my use and understanding of these laws for quite some time and I am happy to see them applied to labor and birth!

The mother I doula-ed for was incredible! She maintained a state of calm throughout the entire labor, with the exception of own short moment of fear when she requested her options concerning pain medications and doubted her ability to handle "anymore"; she likely did this because she was very close to being 'complete' (aka transition). With encouragement, support, and information about choices, she was able to calm and center herself again and maintained this state throughout her pushing. This mother may have already been on a path to a more simple and blissful birth, but I believe HypnoBirth gave her the tools she needed to build confidence in her ability to birth confidently and peacefully. 

~Congratulations to a new family :) Cheers!

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