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Hypno-Dad Kevin’s Version of Violet’s Birth
Thank you to Rachel McNamara of Lowcountry Hypnobabies for sharing this with us.
It’s great to hear a dad’s perspective!
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My wife had our first son the standard way, lying in a hospital bed with an epidural, as expected. We’d attended and paid close attention during birthing class, and even memorized and rehearsed the breathing exercises. That was a fortunate decision on our part, as the epidural didn’t work. Those breathing exercises provided the only slim relief during the very long process. Throw in a large regimen of pitocin, serious back labor, and many many hours of misery and you have our wonderful baby boy exiting his wrecked mother after 34 hours. Clearly, medicine was not the way forward. We decided to find a structured alternative to what was both expensive and miserably ineffective.
My wife is a researcher tried and true, and after weighing all the options she could find, we came down to Bradley versus Hypnobabies. My mother had seven kids using Bradley, so we didn’t doubt its efficacy. However, the schedule for the instruction programs available were probably the primary thing pushing us towards the latter, as my wife worked an odd schedule. How fortunate. Hypnobabies is designed based on clinically-developed therapeutic hypnosis methods for people with allergies to anesthesia, and the program in general seemed quite well presented and structured. So we ordered the packet.
The course was remarkably straightforward, with reading assignments for both mom and me. While I procrastinated both due to some skepticism and a lingering aversion to homework (what, I’m an Engineer, I’ve done my time), it really was a quick read. We slowly worked hypnosis rehearsals into her daily schedule and also before bed for both of us. We learned that even if you don’t hypnotize yourself like me, lying in bed with the audio tracks playing knocked me right out. Do figure out how to play the tracks singly, otherwise you’ll be waking up every thirty minutes. Over time I really began to appreciate the calming effects it was having on my wife, both in general and when I read the hypnosis scripts for her. She even tried to hypnotize me and several other family members. I’m glad that it worked better on her than others, but I kept my faith in her.
Our daughter decided that she wasn’t about to turn head down in the last month before birth, and we decided that she was wrong. The obstetrician recommended an “external version” in which he would basically crank on that belly until baby flipped, a procedure normally done with an epidural due to the significant discomfort involved. The very experienced and skilled doctor was skeptical of this hypnosis mumbo-jumbo, but recognized that an epidural was just a waste of good drugs and tubing on my wife. He brought all the student nurses he could find so that they could see both this somewhat rare procedure and whether Hypnobabies was worth its weight.
1. This procedure was ridiculous to watch and left my wife with one very beaten-up belly
2. She was perfectly calm and comfortable the whole time
3. The medical staff was dumbfounded. I’m not exaggerating. Our doctor was sold on Hypnobabies.
Our daughter came on her own damn time, which was clearly foreshadowing, but regardless we spent the first nine hours of birthing waves at home, doing a lot of walking. Since my wife is very short-waisted, I would apply pressure to the top of her tailbone/hips if the intensity was significant. Learn how to do this. Once the timing got down to below five minutes, we headed to the hospital so that we could walk around some more for three hours waiting for a room with a tub. The ONLY time there was any discomfort is when the hospital insisted that she lie on her back for fetal monitoring. Learn how to say “no” to this, make them do it in a comfortable position for MOM, not the tech.
I held a briefing for the staff that was to be assigned to us, describing our comfort management plan. “Oh, she’s the hypnosis lady… I heard about her!” That was nice to hear. Once in the room we spent a while on the birthing ball, about 90 minutes in the tub, and then the OB showed up for a pelvic. To our surprise, it was time to push! 20 minutes or so later, the water finally broke and out came baby with a lot of noise from mom’s super-omming but again, no pain. Again, a very impressed medical staff and a healthy baby after a mere 16 hours of basically completely comfortable labor.
What recovery? My wife was up moving about on her own, packing up to move to an overnight room within 30 minutes. She had basically no ill effects that a few ibuprofen couldn’t handle. Bring your own, as it is far cheaper.
1. There is no reason to be skeptical or daunted. This program is very straightforward but genuinely rooted in sound practice.
2. Be a man and take charge of the room. Mom has her business, everything else needs to revolve around her plan, and that’s your job. Keep the negativity out of the room, keep the noise out of the room, keep the lights low.
3. Eat ahead of time. Mom can do the same. The only reason they push that fasting nonsense is in preparation for general anesthesia during surgery, and even that is a ridiculously small risk. But seriously: eat.
4. Learn about back-labor relief if your wife is short waisted. Do it.
5. Really learn and memorize your Hypnobabies hypnosis cues for her. Let everyone know that they don’t need to assume that she’s in pain, because she’ll tell you if she is. Noise =/= pain.
6. Bring your own ibuprofen.
7. Have some way of playing the birthing day tracks on hand… speakers are good but an iPod in a ziploc baggie is as well.
8. Be prepared to be amazed.