This is the only advice I think I would give a woman who is going to have a baby and is not sure how to prepare for labor. Please do yourself a great big favor and take a Hypnobirthing class or do a home study course.
I can’t speak of any other birthing method and I’m sure there are some other great ones out there. This is the only one I ever used. All it really is, in a nutshell, is a combo of breathing, visualization and affirmations that keep your body calm and relaxed, so you don’t tense up during labor and make it more difficult than it has to be. It’s actually pretty simple. You can call it, “fooling yourself that you’re not really in labor” and that’s pretty much what it boils down to.
And I don’t know at all what my labor would have been like if I hadn’t used this method, or some other kind, but I can tell you this: For 26 hours I labored without any crying or screaming, or yelling at my husband, “YOU did this to me!!!”, and there was no epidural- not so much as a Tylenol- and after four hours of pushing, out came my 9 lb, 7 oz, 23 inch baby boy. I have to say, I did not experience much in the way of pain. I was however, quite exhausted from the whole experience. I imagine I might have ended up quite a bit more exhausted had I not been able to relax throughout my labor.
And though I did not labor much with Sofia -who was born via c-section due to breech presentation- I used the Hypnobirthing technique again to get through the two external versions that the doctors used to try and turn her. Now that was painful, but certainly shorter in duration. The breathing helped to calm me and keep my from getting too worked up. And I employed the techniques yet again in the operating room when they were prepping me for the section. I was pretty anxious knowing I was about to have major surgery but the techniques I learned help me keep it together.
Anyway, I think it’s a great method and cannot recommend it enough. I think what you get out of it is equal to what you put in. The more you practice the breathing and visualization, the deeper the state of relaxation. I’d say I was in a pretty moderate state of relaxation. I mean, I never fell asleep, never was so relaxed I forgot where I was, nor would I say that my birthing experience was “discomfort- free”. I listened to the tapes pretty regularly for a couple months, but I would almost always fall asleep before I got to the end of them. I still wonder if my brain absorbed the instructions that came at the end of those lessons.
Nowadays I’m not finding much time for practicing the method. I’m hoping a refresher crash course in March, coupled with my previous experience will help me get through what I anticipate to be a shorter, more pleasant labor. At least I’m hoping not to push for four hours. That was a bit much.
If any other moms have some good delivery room advice I would love to hear it. Someone recently reminded me that I need to pack a bag to take to the hospital. You’d think that’s a no-brainer but honestly, I had forgotten about that. Maybe that was the instruction at the end of that tape I slept through.