There’s a lot of fear surrounding childbirth and for most of my life, the whole concept terrified me. It didn’t help that the only birth stories I’d heard were titbits from family and friends who involuntarily shared everything they went through – like the media, only flogging the bad news like it was a badge of achievement. Without any further knowledge, all I associated childbirth with, was uncontrollable tearing, long strenuous pushing, and unbearable pain. Before I even learned how to breastfeed, I was warned of nipples almost being ripped off, and the horrors of mastitis but that’s a whole other story.
I first came across hypnobirthing when a friend said she was so calm during the birth of her child, that the doctors and midwives thought she was asleep! From the moment I fell pregnant, I knew hypnobirthing was for me.
With nothing to lose, I went into it pretty clueless and a little scared (they’d emailed earlier to say we’d be watching at least three real birthing videos during the first class; as background info, in high school, I’d felt sick to the stomach and had to walk out of the classroom when they played a birthing video during a Health & PE class so until the hypnobirthing class, I’d never actually seen what really happens during childbirth) and I came out of it so informed and empowered. I’m a big believer in ‘knowledge is power’ and the course equipped me with the tools I needed for whatever turn the birthing would take.
Although the term hypnobirthing sounds like something for hippies, it’s all about a positive birth experience. I love that it brought things back to the basics. Drawing from nature, we learned how mammals usually give birth in the dark; they prepare a relaxed environment for birthing by finding somewhere safe and serene. They aren’t taught how to give birth, it’s a primal instinct. A female body is perfectly designed by mother nature to conceive, grow and birth a baby.
So much of this resonated with me. We also learned about the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism whereby our bodies shut down or slow down when we feel fearful, threatened or not in control. This is why so often you hear of labour either slowing down or stopping once women are in hospital – the actual perceived fear of birth plays such a large role in the birthing experience. To undo these fears, different terminology is used in hypnobirthing and these have stuck with me; for example, contractions are surges, like waves in the sea.
I also loved the affirmations and for many weeks, I was practicing the visualisations and affirmations daily. I even actively searched for more hypnobirthing videos. Birthing was no longer scary or gruesome, I could no longer watch a birthing video without crying in appreciation of how beautiful it was to see new life enter the world. I was ready to experience this magical process and I trusted my body to know what to do.