“HypnoBirthing didn’t work for me”

September 15, 2011

As a HypnoBirthing practitioner, I hear this phrase occasionally: “Oh, HypnoBirthing didn’t work for me,” or “I wasn’t a very good hypno-birther.” When I ask the new mom why she feels that way, I will usually hear one of the following responses:

  • “I didn’t look like one of those moms in the videos. I was noisy.”
  • “I wasn’t very relaxed. I totally felt everything.”
  • “I felt pain. I must not have done it right.”

That’s like saying “I made it to the top of Mt. Everest, but I must not have done it right because my legs were sore and my lungs hurt.” Really?

Sometimes I get the sense that these moms were hoping that HypnoBirthing would give them a mental epidural. They didn’t want to feel the baby come out, but idea of a needle in their spine freaked them out, so they thought they would try this hypnobirthing thing. I am always careful to explain to my classes that, although the moms in the videos look half-asleep during their labors, their internal experience is very intense, powerful, and requires their complete focus and attention. HypnoBirthing moms are NOT numb, but they are also NOT suffering. The breathing, relaxation, deepening and endorphin-release techniques we learn in class, along with lots of fear-release work, gives our moms the tools they need to surrender to the power of birth.

But what about those moms who relaxed, surrendered, breathed correctly, did everything right, and STILL think they failed because they felt pain?

Here is a metaphor I use during class: When I splurge on a massage, I always ask the therapist to “go really deep and use as much pressure as possible.” Those wimpy massages where you can’t feel anything are so disappointing. During a thorough massage, I can sense myself having to actively release and relax my whole body. Even my skin seems looser and more pliable. The best part is when she finds those really tight knots and just goes to town on them. Sometimes the sensations are so intense that I have to focus on my breathing and surrender to the endorphins. It only HURTS when I tense up my muscles and fight what the therapist is trying to do. Sound familiar?

We have all, at one time or another in our lives, experienced pain that doesn’t hurt. Particularly those of us who love hard work and a good challenge; those of us who really get going when the going gets tough. The word “HURT” implies that something is injured, damaged, broken, or ill. During a massage or chiropractic adjustment, intense exercise, or during a normal healthy childbirth, nothing is being injured, damaged or broken, and so the sensations of “Pain” can be very positive and productive. It can actually feel GOOD. In the absence of fear, a few intense “painful” contractions during transition can release floods of endorphins which then make bearing down and birthing enjoyable, and even ecstatic.

I remember the moment that my 10 pound baby boy slipped easily from my body in the back of our mini-van. The sensations of intense pressure as his head crowned could be defined as “painful”, but it was pain that didn’t hurt. It felt incredible. I’ll admit it: I’m now a “birth junkie” and I can’t wait to get to experience that moment again: the unbelievable and sudden relief; the lightness and emptiness in my belly; the full-body chills that reached a crescendo when I saw his fat little face for the first time; the overwhelming love for my son, my body, my husband, and the whole world. When it was over, I looked at my husband and said, “I feel like a super-hero! I’m super woman!” He just smiled and said, “Honey, I know!” I am a different human being because of that moment. I had ascended my own personal Everest, and in doing so, was healed of my past birth trauma.

The point of HypnoBirthing is NOT birthing without pain. The point is to birth with LOVE and CONFIDENCE, without FEAR, without unnecessary INTERVENTION, and with a supportive team who shares your birth vision. THAT is the definition of a successful hypno-birth.



{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Care Messer April 5, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Wonderful article Laura! Can’t wait to share it – my birth changed my life to – for the better :)

Debbie Snider April 5, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Great post! I am one of those girls who feels like I didn’t have much success with hypnobirthing, but I must say that it did indeed help me so much until I was totally exhausted. I look forward to my next birth because I know it will be the experience I want for me & my little baby.

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