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Carole Thorpe, Hypno-Doula x 300+ Hypnobabies births, answers FAQs about working with Hypnobabies mothers and their Birth Partners.
I received these questions from a birth doula who recently became a new Hypno-Doula. They are typical questions, and I thought I’d share my answers to her about the differences between being a Hypno-Doula vs. traditional doula…
(1) How do you tailor your prenatals to help your birth hypnosis clients, especially if you are not an instructor or are assisting women who took other birth hypnosis classes?
(2) What selling points do you use with birth hypnosis clients? Do couples usually feel pretty self sufficient since they have so many tools? Do you support the birth partners more by helping the moms with cues?
(3) Since I’ve not attended a Hypno-birth, I’m curious to know how doulas monitor the mom’s progress. If there is less/no pain/just pressure, do you pay more attention to how often she’s having her pressure waves? Watching how they progress (length and time in between)?
(4) Do they still show some of the emotional signposts as they progress from early to active, then active labor to transformation?
(5) If you’re laboring at home, and she’s going to a birth center/hospital, how do you decide when it’s time to go?
Carole’s answers: …
I only work with couples that have taken Hypnobabies classes, either the ones I have taught, or couples that other Hypnobabies instructors in the area have referred to me. The ones who have been in my classes are good friends by the time we even do prenatal visits, so we don’t need a “meet and greet” to discover if we are a match in that case. A birth preferences meeting is the first of our three prenatal meetings.
This is what I do at an initial ‘meet and greet’ and at each of the three prenatal visits: I offer what I call an initial “meet and greet” to get acquainted with the couple, and to see if we are a match (for couples who are referred to me).
(1) My first doula prenatal session is to discuss their birth preferences, and what role they would like me to play as their doula…how do they want me to support both of them during their baby’s birthing.
(2) I offer a preparation for breastfeeding class once each month to all my first-time-mom doula clients as the second of our prenatal meetings.
(3) I hold a “birth rehearsal” visit about 3 weeks ahead of their “guess date”. At this meeting we practice their techniques, and run through when to call me, and what needs to be ready in their early birthing time, and how we will manage getting to their place of birth (if not at home), and how it will be to get mom settled into the hospital room, etc…all the while doing practice birthing waves in between the discussion. The hypnosis practice is as much for my sake as the couple’s. I want to know how mom is doing with her hypnosis and if she needs to practice some aspect of it a little more in those last three weeks before baby is ‘due’.
The “selling points” for me are that I have assisted 300+ Hypnobabies couples as a Hypno-Doula, as well as having attended 250 other natural birthing couples before that. And, the biggest plus to being a trained Hypno-Doula in general, would be that we know about their hypnosis techniques, and about keeping our language positive, so we won’t undermine their hypnosis by inadvertently saying something not in line with the prompts they have instilled during classes. We NEVER tell a Hypno-mom what she WILL FEEL, and we don’t let others do so either, otherwise we are giving mom a hypnotic suggestion, and we are creating what we are warning her about. No “hard work” commiserating words, or warnings of “ring of fire” or “transition is the hardest part” talk.
As for self-sufficiency… that all depends on the couple and the birth partner especially. It is different with each couple…the same as with other birthing methods. During the birth preferences meeting I always ask how the couples see the three of us filling our roles during their birthing. Usually the couple wants me to assist with the hypnosis techniques, and to fill the usual doula role of explaining options and encouraging, offering water and food, making sure mom pees, changes positions, etc…and, they typically want the emotional and physical support to come from the birth partner. And, the birth partners want the relief of being able to enjoy their baby’s birthing without having to orchestrate it…much like any other couple that hires a doula.
It IS a little tricky to monitor a Hypno-mom’s progress at first, and to know when to go to the hospital… because Hypnobabies moms are so calm, and they can talk to you all through their birthing waves (if they want to). The usual standard of knowing mom is in active labor…”when mom isn’t able to talk through the contractions anymore” doesn’t apply to a mom using Hypnobabies’ “Eyes-open childbirth hypnosis”. So, I have to rely a whole lot more on physical signs, like bloody show, and trembling and nausea, or the whole getting hot and cold thing, and being a little short with people. Or beginning to feel a lot of pressure in their bottoms. And, yes…the timing of birthing waves. Mostly, you will simply develop a sixth sense about these things, as you gain experience with Hypnobabies births…the same as other methods.
And, yes Hypno-moms also exhibit the emotional signs, just a lot more subtly. A lot of Hypnobabies moms don’t show the usual signs of late first stage. They’ve been told in hypnosis that “the longer, stronger and closer together your pressure waves are, the shorter they each seem to be to you…and every 20 minutes seems like only 5 minutes to you”. And we NEVER ever tell a Hypno-mom anything close to “late first stage is the hardest but the shortest part of your babies birthing”…because for them, it simply isn’t so.
A Hypno-mom will begin to focus a lot more intently on her hypnosis as she progresses, and not want to come to CENTER/eyes-open childbirth hypnosis for very long, or even consider coming out of hypnosis either, as she enters late first stage, and possibly they might not want to be touched any more since it’s taking all of their attention to stay focused and deeply in hypnosis. (Very similar to other methods of natural childbirth just very, very subtle). One thing to do is to trust mom to know when she needs to leave for the hospital. She’s more in tune with her body since she is focused on sensations rather than distracting from them. This suggestion applies more to the first time mom.
AND, this is the biggest caveat to ALL of the previous stuff I have shared…this doesn’t apply so much to a second time mom who is using hypnosis for the first time with her second birthing. A LOT of those ladies just can’t believe they are as far along in their labors as they are, and then don’t make it to the hospital if we rely on their say-so! They are waiting for it to be as “HARD” or “PAINFUL” or somehow FAMILIAR feeling…and when they compare it to their first birthing (which usually was a nightmare, and that’s why they came to use hypnosis this time), sometimes it only begins to feel familiar to them when they are PUSHING! TOO late for a second timer to make the drive to a hospital.
With second timers, who are new to hypnosis for birthing…I pay very close attention to the physical signs. Since their bodies are so very relaxed and can function as nature intended them to, and second babies as a rule come a lot quicker. For instance, I have had more than one second time Hypnobabies mom never have birthing waves get closer than 7 – 8 minutes apart and not last over 45 seconds, and still birth their babies in only a few hours! I caught one of those babies myself. Second stage began with mom’s water breaking and was only three pressure waves after that, with no real bearing down by mom (and baby was OP!).
It’s definitely rewarding to be a Hypno-doula, and soooo much easier! Easier for the moms, easier for the babies, easier for the birth partners and soooo much easier for the doula. You have tools that actually work to eliminate any discomfort, not just manage it or control it! Lovely stuff!
Carole Thorpe, Hypnobabies VP, Instructor and Hypno-Doula