Guest Author: Julie Hoag
It was my first birthing experience and I never expected to use hypnosis. Using Hypnosis wasn’t in my birth plan because I really didn’t think it would work. In fact, my midwife never even mentioned it in our appointments so it wasn’t on my radar. But when she suggested we try hypnosis during labor, I agreed to try it and I was amazed how it worked to reduce my pain.
Natural Birth Plan
I had chosen a midwife for my provider with the plan to complete the birth naturally. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the idea of a pain-free labor with an epidural, I just wanted to birth my son the natural way. I had just graduated from nursing school so I was quite aware of how beneficial natural childbirth could be for me as the mom and for my baby. In addition, I didn’t like the risks brought on with using an epidural. My midwife was a strong proponent of natural childbirth so we set up a natural birth plan to include natural pain control methods.
Labor at Home
My contractions started at midnight the day before my due date. They woke me up from a deep sleep. The pain from the contractions of early labor was stronger than I had expected. I experienced contractions all night long and I followed the midwife’s instructions to get into the bath periodically. At about 8:30 am we headed to the hospital due to the time spacing between my contractions. The ride was jarring with all the swerves, turns, and bumps heightened my pain. It was a giant relief to arrive at the hospital.
Labor at the Hospital
My labor continued all day and it did not stall. My midwife stayed in the hospital room with me most of the day. She had me try several methods to reduce my pain during the contractions including slipping into the bathtub, taking a shower, sitting on the birthing ball, squatting, laboring in different positions, and rocking. The methods gave me varying amounts of pain reduction. The bath slowed down my labor progress so we stopped the baths even though it felt very good for me to soak.
The pain became increasingly stronger as the labor progressed. To be honest the strength of the pain shocked me. Yelling helped me through the pain, but the midwife dissuaded me from yelling because it expended energy I needed to reserve for labor and pushing. Chewing ice chips also distracted me and helped with labor pains.
The Suggestion of Hypnosis
In the middle of the afternoon, the midwife looked me straight in the eye and surprised me with a suggestion. She placed her hand on my shoulder and suggested we try hypnosis to help control the contraction pain. She thought I would be receptive to it plus she stated she’d had success with it for past laboring patients. I was skeptical but I thought about how strong the mind can be so I agreed to attempt hypnosis. I thought what could be the harm in trying.
Hypnosis in Action
She arranged a calm atmosphere in darkening the room by turning off the lights and closing the curtains. The other nurses agreed to avoid coming into my room to keep it calm for at least a little while. She had me close my eyes and breathe slowly to relax. She spoke the same phrases to me in a calm voice and told me to repeat those phrases in my head throughout the entire contraction while keeping my eyes closed. I needed to pay attention to my breathing as well. The plan was to get my brain to think of the pain as helping me push my baby out. She told me to visualize each contraction bringing my baby closer to existing out in the world.
At the beginning of each contraction and throughout I thought these phrases in my mind, “The contraction is helping me push my baby out. The contraction is a tool my body is using to push my baby out.”
The Pain Indeed Became a Tool
I concentrated on and repeated those phrases in my head without pause until the contraction was done. Then I would rest until the next contraction started. I was dumbfounded as my brain processed the pain, perceiving it as having a purpose leading towards birth rather than something that just hurt me. I did not feel the extreme pain while the hypnosis was working, only minor tolerable pain which was at times even non-existent.
I imagined and visualized that the contraction was simply a means to bring my baby into the world. I believed the sentences and hypnosis worked for a whole hour and a half. It was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. I kept my eyes closed the entire time and the feeling of an almost palpable flow was going through my body. It was utterly amazing, unexpected, and I cannot fully describe how it felt.
The hypnosis worked while I kept that mind-frame and while I kept repeating the phrases silently in my head until it suddenly wasn’t working. I let my brain slip and let the outside world in. I lost a grip on that mindset. The pain came on full force and I couldn’t get that mindset back again.
I Viewed the Hypnosis as a Successful Part of My Son’s Birth
Even though I lost that hypnotic state, I felt a monumental success maintaining it for an hour and a half. I would never have thought it was possible if I hadn’t experienced it myself.
Next, my labor stalled and I had failure to progress so I needed Pitocin. I took sips of juice for energy. I hadn’t eaten in over twenty-four hours so my energy level was down. I experienced minor tearing during pushing but by 9:51 pm my baby was out. We were petrified because he didn’t cry at first and the midwife whisked him to a bassinet where another nurse was standing. When we heard our son’s first cry I cried out in relief too because he was ok. The midwife swiftly returned him to us and explained he had meconium in his mouth and she had to suction it immediately so he wouldn’t breathe it in.
Our baby boy was finally out of me and a full part of our world. I was so proud because I had delivered him without the use of an epidural. I felt great success and I cuddled my baby. My natural birth had become a reality and we were a family of three.
Julie Hoag is a wife and a mother to three boys. She is a freelance writer & blogger who writes about the joy and beauty of motherhood, kids, family, pets, and faith.