by Carole Thorpe, CHT, HCHI, HCHD, CLEC, CIHOM
I am a Hypnobabies Childbirth Hypnosis Doula
I assist women with Hypnobabies® Childbirth Hypnosis techniques for comfortable childbirth without drugs. I see women give birth in confidence, peacefully, awake and fully aware of the sensations of birth, in tune with their babies, and in control of their birthing bodies. I watch fathers assume their unique role of hypno-birth partner with confidence and quiet reverence. I see babies who are not drugged, who are strong and attentive at the moment of birth. This all occurs without fear, stress or struggle for the couple, for their baby, or their Hypno-Doula. Calm, peace, quiet, and tender loving kindness reign supreme in these couples’ birthing rooms. So, for me, being a Hypno-Doula is rewarding beyond belief.
Before I was a Hypno-Doula, I was many other things …
“Mom” to four children (all born without drugs or interventions; one hospital, one birth center and two home births). I’m also “Grammy” to five of the sweetest grandkids this side of heaven, and I’m “Carole/Mom” to my wonderful in-law kids. I’ve been a realtor, a graphic designer and illustrator, and a drawing instructor. Now, I am a certified hypnotherapist, a Hypnobabies Childbirth Hypnosis instructor, a lactation educator and counselor, a homeopath and a Reiki practitioner…and of course, I am a Hypno-Doula. Long before any of us were called doulas, I taught my version of the “Best of Bradley & Lamaze” natural childbirth classes to hundreds of couples. I assisted at their births as a midwife/birth assistant for a doctor who specialized in home and birth center births. I had the immeasurable honor, and indescribable pleasure of catching a few of those babies myself. Those moms were in control of their birthing bodies, and stoic, even peaceful, in spite of what they were experiencing physically. Their babies were alert and amazingly strong, and breastfed immediately after birth. In short, I had the rarefied experience of assisting with hundreds of physiological births. No interventions, no medications, no hospital beds with stirrups…350 “normal” births. I assisted at the natural births of 3 sets of twins, and 2 babies who decided that breech was the way to come into the world. I am so very thankful for my unique background with childbirth, and the range of experience I bring to the profession called “doula”.
Then I became a certified childbirth doula, what I call a “traditional doula”, and for the first time, I began attending hospital births. I attended the births of women who had been taught “what to expect” in their preparation for childbirth classes. I helped those women to “manage the pain” of childbirth, and to “cope with the inevitable pain”. Pain that mothers learned was “pain with a purpose”. Pain that mothers were told would ultimately “bring their babies” to them. I offered women comfort measures; back rubs, foot massages, cool cloths on their foreheads, counter pressure on their lower backs, hip squeezes, etc. I helped them with optimal positioning, and reminded them to eat and drink, and pee at the appropriate intervals, and I commiserated with their plight. I reassured them of the normalcy of childbirth, and did everything I knew to help them achieve natural childbirth in the face of that inevitable, daunting pain.
When I was a traditional doula, I would come home from many a birth with bruises on my hands or wrists where moms had clung to me in their fear, and in their anticipation of the next contraction. I would come home sometimes, and cry about how these births were so technological, and devoid of tender loving kindness and reverence. But the moms seemed happy enough, and dads were happy because they had their newborn prizes, and caregivers were pleased with the “outcomes”, but I knew in my heart that these births were far from natural, and much less than normal or physiologic. The natural childbirth methods they had been taught were the only ones available at that time and I longed for “more” to help them with.
Not surprisingly, some of these moms “ended up with an epidural” with its resultant fluid loading and swelling. The kind of soft tissue swelling that makes pushing a baby through the birth canal nearly an impossibility, because the mother now has no urge to push, and she has been rendered immobile, with a catheter in place. Since mom was now paralyzed from the waist down, any positioning tricks I knew to help babies rotate and descend were worthless. I was distressed every time I had to witness the effects of medication on the birthing process. I was distressed that I could do nothing besides wait, watch the mother sleep through her medicated haze, and hope that the outcome would be good for the mother and her baby. Of course, I still assisted the occasional, stoic, peaceful mom who gave birth to her baby naturally, albeit in pain…
BUT, when I assisted my first Hypnobabies couple as their Hypno-Doula, I learned that birth could not only be natural and unmedicated, but that it could also be comfortable…even pain-free for some moms! I was on my way to becoming a Hypno-Doula exclusively. Once again, I was assisting at physiological births. I was observing that Hypnobabies births were easier for moms, easier for birth partners, certainly easier and more peaceful for the babies…and, you know who else these births were easier for? … the DOULA! This is heaven, I thought to myself.
I became a Hypnobabies Instructor and I now teach women to use self-hypnosis techniques which automatically induce a kind of natural anesthetic sensation in the body; hypno-anesthesia. I have learned that while keeping my Hypno-doula clients comfortable in mind and body, Hypnobabies’ profoundly powerful hypnosis techniques also create (as a side-effect) the deepest physical relaxation in the body that I have ever seen. This helps my Hypno-mothers to remain calm, relaxed, comfortable, and joyful as they give birth and it is the most amazing gift that they give themselves and their babies.
Now I assist moms in directing their hypno-anesthesia throughout their bodies, to exactly where they need it, and I do this with my “tender-loving-kindness” voice. I describe to them, all the details of their Special Safe Place, and remind them to “be there now with their babies, safe and comfortable”. In fact, I remind moms, “with every breath as you exhale, you go even deeper into hypnosis and comfort, and the more you relax the more comfort you feel, the deeper into hypnosis you can go, and the more powerful your anesthesia becomes”, etc. I now use these beautiful hypnosis tools to assist moms, and their partners and their babies to have the births that every woman dreams of … unmedicated, comfortable, awake and aware, in tune with her body, and in complete control of her baby’s natural, normal birthing.
As a Hypno-Doula, I have many highly effective hypnosis “tools” to assist moms with natural birth. I have word cues that instantly help the mom to enter hypnosis and become comfortable. I can use her deep state of hypnosis to suggest that she create whatever she needs for herself or her baby in the moment. “With every breath, as you inhale, you inhale peace and comfort, and as you exhale you go deeper into hypnosis and breathe away tension”. “Peace … and powerful anesthesia, instantly, automatically flows all through you, from the top of your head all the way down to the tips of your toes … and, you go even deeper now”.
There are physical cues that work wonderfully as well. I can press gently on a Hypnobabies-prepared mother’s shoulder and create an instantly deeper hypnosis and relaxation response. Instantly, all the muscles around her baby go loose and limp and lazy. NO tension … NO fear … NO discomfort here! I still offer cool cloths, and foot rubs, and other comfort measures, but not as a distraction measure to sidetrack, or minimize mom’s perception of pain, but rather as an offering of loving attendance. I now help birthing mothers to eliminate discomfort in childbirth, not just help moms to cope with it. 70% of Hypnobabies moms experience an easy, comfortable birth. Most of the rest experience only mild to moderate degrees of discomfort, and they are able to manage that easily with their hypnosis techniques.
The best thing is, these moms can open their eyes while in Hypnobabies eyes-open childbirth hypnosis, move into positions that are favorable for birth’s natural progression, and remain perfectly comfortable. No more waiting interminable hours for an epidural to wear off enough for the mother to push! On the average, a mom using hypnosis techniques for her birthing gives birth in less time than those moms who are experiencing fear and pain, and who are medicated. Without fear, tension, and pain, a woman can birth her baby more easily and quickly, which is another plus to being a Hypno-Doula!
So, I am here to tell you that being a traditional doula and helping a woman to become empowered by the suffering she endured while bringing her baby into the world, can never compare to being a Hypno-Doula and hearing a woman say, “I did it! It worked! It felt great and I can’t wait to do this again!” (this, as she lifts her baby up and onto her chest, just seconds after birthing him into her own hands).
Nothing I experienced as a traditional doula compares to the time when a doctor motioned me over to a corner of the delivery room to speak with me after he caught my doula client’s baby. He had just witnessed a first-time mom give birth with a peaceful smile on her face. She appeared to be napping in between pushes, and then, she would open her eyes and gently push, in full control, without pain, knowing when to ease up and allow her baby just slip out of her body. It was so rewarding to hear that doctor say to me, “that’s the most amazing thing I have ever seen”.
I get to attend the most amazing, peaceful and gentle births all the time, and for that I am extremely grateful. I love my “work”!
Yours in gentle birthing,
Carole Thorpe, CHT, HCHI, HCHD, CLEC, CIHOM