What it’s like to give birth using hypnosis

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When I was pregnant, I LOVED reading birth stories to help me prepare for and visualize how I wanted my own experience to be. It seemed fitting that one of my first posts to introduce the blog should be our little nugget’s birth story!

I spare no detail … at least, the ones I can remember … so read ahead at your own comfort level. Hubs and I usually tag-team this story so I fill in the blanks with what he usually shares. 😉

For those of you doing the Hypnobabies® program, this story does require a BOP!

But first, Hear me mention my hypnobabies birth on the miraculous mamas podcast intro!

what is hypnobirthing and why choose it?

When I found out we were expecting, I was on a mission to do one thing: have an unmedicated childbirth. I hated the thought of a needle in my back and of not being in total control over my body during delivery. Additionally, I was terrified to rely on an epidural. I feared it would wear off late in the game and I’d be worse off than if the labor pains were a slow build. So I set out on a mission to prepare myself for an unmedicated childbirth. 

Did I mention I usually have a very low pain tolerance? I feel like that’s an important point to mention. Because … well, ouch!

Thanks to a dear friend’s recommendation and her wonderful birth experience which still leaves me in awe, I ultimately decided to try a hypnobirthing program. Medical-grade hypnosis is used in many procedures in which patients are unable to accept anesthesia, either because of allergies or even interactions with other medications. In the past, hypnosis tracks had been extremely helpful in managing my IBS-related travel anxiety, so I was (mildly?!) confident hypnosis would be a good choice for pain management during my delivery. In any case, I was willing to give it a shot.

You’ll probably notice I use weird synonyms for common birthing terms. This is because the Hypnobabies program encourages mamas to reframe how they think about labor and delivery. We use alternate terminology to develop a positive mindset. And it works! Because this post will be seen by other hypno-mamas seeking out Hypnobabies reviews, I am maintaining the language used in the program.

my hypnobabies birth story

On Friday, September 6, 2019, I was in total nesting mode. We had recently moved into our new house and I was taking the opportunity to unpack what boxes remained and clean the house from top to bottom while Hubs worked night shift. I was celebrating that I had made it to my goal date (so my maternity leave would get me through the holiday). I was huge, my feet were swollen, and I was (mostly) ready for this baby to COME OUT!

I wanted to see if I could goose things along a bit. I was still two days away from my guess date on 9/9/19. (How cool would it be to have a baby just in time for grandparents’ day?!) But I was feeling nothing and was convinced this little one was going to take its sweet time. So I decided to do some dancing. At midnight. Because, well … why not?

Ever hear of the Baby Mama song by Starrkeisha? It’s known to help mamas break their waters. Don’t ask me why or how, but apparently it works!

Did I just pee myself or did my water break?

I finally went to bed, and not two hours later at 3 a.m., I woke up to use the bathroom after feeling a big gush. I honestly thought I peed myself and was thankful for the good ol’ Always lady diapers. How much did I drink?! I thought to myself. But the second I got back to bed my birthing waves came on suddenly and were extremely intense and close together right from the get-go. I timed my own waves as best as I could, cursing myself for not thinking to download a timer app sooner. (Mama, do yourself a favor and download a freaking timer app, pronto!)

After about a half-hour of timing 5-10 minute apart waves, I decided to call Hubs and the conversation went like this:

Me: Hi. So … don’t rush home, but I think this might be it.
Him: Oh yeah? OK, I’ll finish up and head home soon.
Me: OK. I will keep you posted.

We hang up. I continue to try to time my own waves, cursing night shift. This continues for another half hour, at which point I gave up timing my waves and simply give in to the fact that they were occurring faster than I preferred.

I texted Hubs: This is not a drill.

Yep. That’s exactly what I said. Another half-hour passes and Hubs comes home. (Cool as a cucumber, he was.) By that point, this baby meant business and I needed to focus. I fully intended to labor at home for as long as possible. So, I put on my hypnosis tracks and got into the soaker tub. I was finally really able to start focusing on my hypnosis.

Meanwhile, Hubs was busy tackling the To-Do list I had thought ahead to create and leave on the kitchen counter. His hospital bag wasn’t packed yet. And the dog needed to be walked and fed. Parents were called to come and look after him while we were in the hospital. The doctor was alerted that I was in labor. And general “it’s go time!” texts were sent to our eagerly awaiting family.

The waves kept getting more intense and I was using vocal cues to help work through each one. In my head, it helped. It also helped Hubs to know exactly when and how often waves were coming and going so I didn’t have to keep “switching to center” (basically pausing my hypnosis) to tell him. At some point, Hubs decided my birthing waves were too close for comfort and he was taking me to the hospital. I’m pretty sure he didn’t give a rat’s behind what the doctor said either. He was bringing me in. End of story. (Well … I guess, technically, it was the beginning!)

The goal was to get to the car without a birthing wave. I ended up having two. Meanwhile, I was trying to act completely normal so our overly anxious lab wouldn’t be concerned. Poor Gumbo. My little shadow didn’t have a clue what was coming.

Gumbo (dog) spent many days alongside me as I was practicing my hypnobirthing techniques

What I remember most about that drive, aside from hoping it would end, was the sunrise. My favorite part of every morning. It was fitting. A new day. Our lives were about to change. It was both exciting and terrifying.

To Valet, or Not to Valet

That was the question when we pulled up to valet at the hospital somewhere around 5:30. No one was in sight so Hubs said to hell with it and left the car. I’m pretty sure he left me, too. I felt this overwhelming urge to cry—I was so overwhelmed! It turns out Hubs was inside trying to find a wheelchair for me. A passerby wished me luck. All I could think was this is it. This baby is coming. And soon.

Or so I thought.

I was expecting a long, drawn-out triage visit, but I was admitted to L&D. The OBGYN came to check on me about 10 minutes later. We gave her my birth plan and they were surprisingly receptive to hypnobirthing. (I found out later that they had heard about hypnobirthing, were intrigued by it, and were excited to witness one firsthand. It turns out I’m one of two cases for their entire OB/GYN practice!

I was 5 cm and slightly discouraged. How was I ever going to keep doing this for 5 more centimeters? The waves were so intense and coming so quickly. It was hard to breathe through them and every time I moved it was so intense. I remember looking at Hubs in desperation, not sure about what I was going to do. In that moment, he looked me square in the eyes and said exactly what I needed to hear: He told me it was ok, that if I needed to change course he would support me, but that he knew I was strong enough to do this. I hunkered down and took it one minute at a time.

In the midst of hypnobirthing and utilizing my Hypnobabies techniques to work through a birthing wave.

At this point, I was grateful to be at the hospital so I could just play my hypnosis tracks and zone out. And that’s just what I did, for hours. I refused to look at the clock. I didn’t want to see how much time had passed.

Birth partners, it’s ok to nap

This statement, spoken by our birth class coach, made us LOL for days afterward. The thought of a birth partner having the luxury of a nap in the midst of labor chaos boggled my mind. It became a running joke in the days leading up to our birthing time.

Hubs and I had every intention of being the only ones in the delivery room. But we had an agreement that if he needed to tap out, or if I needed additional support, my mom would be close by waiting at our house. He did just leave a night shift after all, and I wasn’t heartless.

We ended up needing to call in reinforcement. I was so happy my mom was able to capture so many special moments for us from that day.

I had an amazing birthing staff … with the exception of one nurse who was simply not meant to be a L&D nurse … or she was having a very bad day. She had little patience for me as a first time mom. I don’t know if it was her doubting my hypnobirthing ability or if my birthing time was taking too long for her. She also didn’t believe us when we expressed a concern that I was bleeding too much.

Zoned out using Hypnobabies birthing techniques during my hospital hypnobirth

I will pause here for an important Public Service Announcement

I had done extensive research and learned postpartum hemorrhage is the number one cause of maternal mortality, but there is usually no way to determine how much blood a mother loses during her birthing time, which is a problem. I knew to keep an eye out for excessive blood loss. And I was concerned about the gushes of blood I was feeling every single time my uterus contracted. For hours on end.

After several hours of changing chux pads wave after wave, Hubs and my mom did the side-eye of concern to each other and tried to handle it with the nurse discreetly so they didn’t alarm or distract me from my hypnosis. But being under hypnosis I could still process what was going on around me. I had the ability to fade in or out as I wished. And I could either choose to acknowledge it or ignore it. Under hypnosis, I was in full control at all times. The truth is, I was concerned, too. I simply trusted they had it handled.

I share this very important part of the story because I hope it empowers you, mama, to speak up for yourself if you feel like something is off. It could very well save your life. At one point I’m pretty sure Hubs was close to arguing with the indifferent nurse, and pulled bloody chux pads out of the trash when she didn’t seem to care or want to check. He was my biggest supporter that day (and every day). Make sure whoever is with you on your birthing day can be your advocate if you are not in a position to speak up.

back to the hypnobirth story …

Every time I changed position I would get an extremely intense wave that rendered me motionless. But I was able to keep telling myself “I can do anything for one minute,” which helped pass the time when waves would hit. Hubs and my mom also applied counter pressure which felt amazing.

The rest of the day is really a blur for me. I was fully focused on my hypnosis tracks. Hubs did mention that he thought I was much calmer once I got settled into listening to the tracks and I definitely zoned out during the 15-hour birthing time to where I could care less about what was going on around me.

Overall, I progressed relatively quickly from 5-8 cm within a couple of hours, but getting to 10 cm was a challenge. Once I was at about 10 cm, I spent somewhere around 2 hours pushing and it turned out her poor little head couldn’t come down because of a cervical lip. The doctor suggested we take a break from pushing after her manual manipulation to move the lip failed to work.

She suggested a few routes for me to consider including a hot shower, IV fluids, the peanut ball and pitocin. I decided to take a shower, which felt amazing, and agreed to the fluids because I knew I must be close to dehydration since I couldn’t keep anything down. The peanut ball helped move the baby down. I declined the pitocin for the time being in favor of the other methods. The shower, IV and peanut ball worked and I felt the intense urge to push again about an hour later.

Again, my waves stalled after a little while and the doctor suggested pitocin to help regulate the waves. I ultimately agreed because at that point I was exhausted and was growing more and more frustrated that my waves were spreading out, making pushing less productive.

Well don’t you know that as soon as I agreed to the pitocin, our little nugget helped her mama out. I ended up birthing her from the side lying position around the peanut ball. At this point, I pushed her out very quickly using sets of four or five deep breaths followed by my peace cue. Even though there was discomfort, Hubs used the peace cue after each push. In a way, it reenergized me. The best way to describe my hypnosis during pushing was that it made me wildly motivated and ready to bear down. I looked forward to each push. I brought her safely into the world at 6:41 p.m.

our first family photo

Miss Olivia Rae was born on Saturday, Sept. 7 weighing 7 lbs and 15 oz. (Her actual length is still a mystery. There were two different numbers provided in the hospital, but we go with the first one we remember hearing which is 20 ¾ in)! We decided not to find out the sex prior to her birth so here she is in the cutest unisex outfit I could find (thanks GiGi & Max!):

welcome to the world baby

my hypnobabies birth review

I loved the Hypnobabies program. It brought confidence, self-assurance, joy and ultimately peace to my entire pregnancy and birthing experience. And I will 100% use it for my next birth (if I should be so lucky).

I am usually very anxious about the unknown. My mind starts to wander and then I become anxious about what could happen. Hypnobabies helped me to maintain a positive mindset throughout my entire pregnancy. More importantly, it better prepared me to face decisions that would need to be made.

I have never been more in love with Hubs for stepping into such an active role with initiating my cues. We only practiced once together the entire time I was doing the program after an uncontrollable fit of laughter. There were some cues we probably could have remembered to use more frequently to help my discomfort level, but he came through when I really needed him to help keep me focused.

That said, Olivia came out sunny-side up. I didn’t think much of it at the time. But according to the American Pregnancy Association, a baby in this position can lead to trouble descending through the birth canal. (Yep!) This puts the mother at risk for an increased likelihood of interventions and complications ranging from prolonged labor (oh yeah), use of forceps, an episiotomy, or unplanned C-section.

This is important to mention because the Hypnobabies program was designed for a birth without complications and a baby in the correct position. So my story may not be the ideal Hypnobabies success story. Hubs likes to tease me that I was the first parent to curse in front of our child when referring to my level of … um, discomfort … during labor. But I was so proud of myself for proving to no one else besides myself that I could do it.

Only later did my OB/GYN and Hypnobabies leader validated the level of difficulty I managed to get through. I absolutely attribute this success to my Hypnobabies preparation.

Hypnobabies program admin acknowledged the difficulty of my hypnobirth

It was also pretty cool because my doctor and my OBGYN practice had little experience with hypnobirths and I was able to show them how peaceful such a birth could be. They were intrigued and excited to see how it would go for me.

At my follow up appointment, my OBGYN mentioned how the other doctors were asking about how it went and how impressed she was with the experience, even though my own impression was that it could have gone better. It was comforting that my doctor, as a spectator and a professional birth witness, felt positively about hypnobirth. Now, she will be supportive of other mamas who also choose this path!

I’m interested in hypnobabies. How can i learn more?

You can read more about what Hypnobabies is all about and the prep work here. I highly recommend checking it out if you’re interested in an unmedicated birth. (Update: Since I first wrote this post, I was invited to become a Hypnobabies affiliate and have updated the link accordingly.)

You can also read my 10 Tips to Achieve an Unmedicated Birth post here. I plan to write a post about Hypnobabies soon, so drop me questions in the comments section and I’ll include the answer in that post!

my favorite first picture of our little baby

Like this post? You can check out my other posts here.

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Thanks for reading!

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2 thoughts on “What it’s like to give birth using hypnosis”

  1. You. Are. Amazing. Even though you shared with me parts of beautiful Olivia’s birth story before I read this, recounting it here reiterates just how strong you are! You were meant to be a mama!

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