A Pain-free Childbirth?

A pain-free childbirth? Is that even possible? Some women say, yes! I’m so excited to interview one of my past doula clients Erica. She’s a mom of two and utilized the Hypnobabies program with both of her pregnancies and births. She shares with us her experiences using hypnosis, what worked well for her and how she incorporated the pre-birth preparations into her daily schedule. If you’ve never witnessed a hypnosis birth, it’s a pretty magical and powerful experience! 

1.  First, can you tell us a little bit about yourself, what you do, and your experience with Hypnobirthing? 
My name is Erica. I am 42 and have 2 little boys aged 2 and 5. I work in television - operations management.  It's the unsexy side of things, unless you're kinda geeky.  I used Hypnobabies, which is a specific self-hypnosis program designed to promote a happy healthy pregnancy and birthing experience. I did their homestudy program during both of my pregnancies and the results were phenomenal.  No pain, no meds. Like, I never even thought about meds.  At all!  I'm also convinced that the program helped me sleep better and stay more comfortable during my pregnancies. 
2.  What perked your interest into hypnosis for childbirth, did you have a friend tell you about it? 
I had experimented for years with alternative pain management therapies for chronic headaches and had success with things like biofeedback.  Years before I even thought about having kids, I heard mention of hypnosis for pain during birthing and I thought it made a lot of sense. I guess I kind of stashed it in the back of my mind for the future.  When I learned I was pregnant, I did a little googling and quickly decided Hypnobabies was the right program for me.  The success stories were so inspiring! 
3.  How did you prepare for your births? Was there anything you did differently between the two? 
I did the Hypnobabies homestudy program both times which is super easy.  I listened to a ~30 minute affirmations track every day while I worked out, or washed dishes or commuted to work. Then I listened to one relaxing hypnosis track every night as I went to sleep. That was the bulk of it. There's also some reading that goes with it which is key but doesn't take much time.  In my last two months I started practicing using my Hypnobabies tools whenever I could which was so much fun and so relaxing. It's practicing using the cues on your own to make your body be completely limp and comfortable and then maintaining that comfort level while you move around, walk, talk etc.  My husband also learned some cues he could use to help make me more relaxed and we practiced those too. 
In terms of mental prep, the first time around I focused a lot on choosing to use my tools during birthing.  I wanted to make sure that I didn't forget about the tools I had available to me in the craziness of the moment.  And it went great - I used my HB tools the whole way through without really even consciously thinking about it.  It was very organic, if you will.  The birth was great (http://www.pickinglimes.com/birth-story-2010) and HB worked perfectly but in retrospect I felt like I started pushing before I was really ready. I think I was mentally ready but my baby wasn't quite there yet!  So the second time around my sole focus was to stay completely relaxed and let my body lead the way.  That's exactly what I did and it was an incredible experience (http://www.pickinglimes.com/birth-story-2013).  I learned so much from just waiting and seeing what my body did when it started to push on its own.  All of a sudden I was like "Oh!  That's how you do it!" 
4.  What do you love most about Hypnobabies and hypnosis during labor? 
I love how, in a time that can be so full of list-making and making sure you get things done and do them "right", Hypnobabies is this guaranteed time that you bake into your day to rest and RELAX and remind yourself that, no matter what is still on that before-baby-list, you are doing awesome.  You are relaxed and focused on your baby and your body and it's all gonna be OK. More pragmatically, I love how many real tools the HB program gives you to get you through pregnancy and birthing.  You have tracks you can listen to and physical and verbal cues you and your birth team can use to increase your relaxation and hypnoanesthesia.  Plus there's all the nutrition, health and general birthing education in the reading materials.  You come away well prepared for an event that's really pretty unpredictable from start to finish. 
During labor, I love how using Hypnobabies makes it so easy to completely let go and focus all your energy on relaxing and allowing your baby to be born.  I have a favorite anecdote (http://www.pickinglimes.com/saying-no) about when a whole bunch of residents came in and ordered me off the birth ball and onto the bed for an internal exam by someone I'd never seen before.  Normally, that's the kind of thing that would really make me mad, like, viscerally, body-tighteningly, mad.  But with Hypnobabies, I never even opened my eyes, I just said "No".  It was as if I had a Super Power!  Their words (and general demeanor) rolled right off me and left me as relaxed and happy as I'd been before they came into the room.  I still get chills when I think of it. 
5.  Do you have any recommendations, resources or advice for moms interested in using hypnosis during childbirth? 
I created a website www.pickinglimes.com to help raise awareness about Hypnobabies so I of course recommend that!  It's mostly a collection of my own experiences and bookmarks from my two pregnancies.  I have a fun survey for been-there-done-that Hypnomamas.  Most recently, I've created a survey for birth partners.  I've heard women say that they had trouble getting their birth partners on board with the concept of childbirth hypnosis and I can understand that - it sounds a little "out there" and there aren't many resources that speak to the birth partner experience.  So, I'm working to create a collection of birth stories: for birth partners by birth partners. A resource that potential hypnomoms can recommend to skeptical partners so they can learn a bit more on their own.  I want to empower the birth partners to think of birth positively too - what a great way to support new mom's!  I also recommend the Hypnosis in Childbirth group on Babycenter. There's a great vibe there - the women are so supportive and positive and knowledgeable about Hypnobabies. 
My advice to women who are interested in using hypnosis would be to do what feels right TO YOU to best prepare you for the journey ahead.  Giving birth is kind of like an endurance event.  You wouldn't run a marathon or climb a mountain or even go on a road trip without the right tools and some planning.  You can't guarantee that things will go as you expect them to but you can prepare yourself to be as comfortable as possible no matter what the situation.  Choose the tools that you will most want to use no matter what your birthing brings and then invest your love and energy in them so, when the time comes, they can help to carry you through.  And happy birthing! 

Jen Mayer