During my first pregnancy in 2010, I diligently interviewed all my mum friends to learn about their experiences so that I knew what to expect. I found that a majority them either had C-section or traumatising vaginal births for various reasons (e.g. cervixes that didn’t dilate much; baby was breeched; labour was too long; and one friend didn’t even know why she had to go for C-section).
After some soul-searching and analysing each birth story, I realised that childbirth during my mother’s time and now is very different. My sister and I were born in my grandmother’s house with the assistance of the village midwife, while our younger siblings were birthed at the hospital. My mother has always casually said that birthing at home was very relaxing for her because nobody rushed her. Despite the pressure to birth according to a timeline given that she experienced with her last four births, she still managed to birth vaginally. But with my generation, it seems like C-sections are very prevalent. I decided then that I wasn’t going to let the birth of my children be left to chance and at other people’s mercy and expertise.
I started reading up a lot on childbirths on the Internet and came upon the subject of natural childbirth. I kept digging and I found that the best way to learn about it was by attending a HypnoBirthing course.
These are what I’ve learned that have helped me. Firstly, I knew that birth is a normal bodily function that a woman does – but I didn’t know how to relax. As much as I was mentally unafraid of childbirth, I still had no idea how to relax because I’m naturally a very high-strung person with a penchant for being in control. With childbirth, you can’t be a control freak. You need to let go and release. HypnoBirthing dispels a lot of myths surrounding childbirth and the relaxing hypnosis scripts taught me to relax.
Next, HypnoBirthing taught me to tune in to my instinct. Ina May Gaskin, a leading American midwife says that, “Birth is as natural as it gets. Otherwise there won’t be millions of people in the world today”. Instead of solely relying on numbers to dictate my baby’s and my well-being, I learned to follow my gut feeling. For an example, the Estimated Due Date is arbitrarily set at 40 weeks but a pregnant mother isn’t overdue until she reaches 42 weeks because each woman’s ovulation cycle is different. A baby doesn’t know that he needs to be out by 40 weeks; his body does.
Thirdly, I learned to relax because a woman during labour is very fragile and strong at the same time. Labouring is a fine line between pain and pleasure. With my first birth, I didn’t know what to choose so I fought the surges. With my second birth, I welcomed the surges and chose to see it as pleasure. As a result, I cut my laboring time from 55 hours with the first baby to 22 hours with the second.
For the birth of my first child, I was stubborn and wanted to do it my way despite learning that pushing isn’t recommended in HypnoBirthing because it can cause tearing of the perineum. Despite knowing that fact, I pushed my 3.5kg boy out with all my might, partly due to exertion after a very long labour. I tore as a result. With the birth of my second baby, I practiced the Calm Breathing and Birth Breathing of HypnoBirthing again and out came my 3.1kg second baby and I didn’t tear a single bit.
I successfully breastfed both my babies after each birth. In both births, the baby and I were alert, high from the love hormones that entered our blood streams. The moment they suckled on my breasts for the first drop of that liquid gold, I continued to have strong surges or contractions that helped expel the placenta after five minutes for each birth. Milk production kicked in immediately and I started producing mature milk a few days later.
Following the births and the stable transition into fourth trimester (except for the shaky start with breastfeeding), neither my husband nor I lost much sleep during our children’s infancy because our babies were so calm. They played and napped during the day, and slept at night. The sleepless nights will only start once they’ve become toddlers and have 10,000 requests before going to bed every night.
Attending the HypnoBirthing classes with my husband prepared him for the births of our babies. We watched birth videos in order to desensitise my husband for what he was about to see. During the throes of my pain with the birth of the first one, I begged for pain relief but he recognised that as the hallmark of labour and continued to calm me down and told me that we’d see our baby very soon. He hugged and kissed me. The oxytocin produced from the affectionate act managed to divert the pain therefore I focused less on it while I reveled in the tingling sensation all over my body.
Learning HypnoBirthing isn’t only about birthing vaginally but also how to see the world in a more positive manner. All the preparation we had learned from HypnoBirthing helped our relationship and family life grow stronger. It’s one of the best early investments we’ve ever made for our family.
Mother of two, Ayuni Zainuddin, is a gentle birthing and breastfeeding advocate. She has been active in both scenes since 2010. She teaches HypnoBirthing to expectant parents and also helps them with breastfeeding. When she’s not working, she’s busy surfing Damn You Auto Correct!. Get in touch with her at Birth With Ayuni.
Image Credit: Pure Birth HypnoBirthing