what it is, what it isn’t

hypnobirthing

i’ve talked about hypnobirthing every chance i’ve had since taking our classes about a year ago, and helping our sweet little man enter the world in a gentle and beautiful way almost 9 months ago now (where does the time go?!).  simply stated, i’m a huge fan of being informed and empowered- no matter what the situation at hand is. you should know what you want, and more importantly WHY you want it. (you may want a totally different experience than i had, i’m all for it!- as long as you know why you want it. don’t just blindly follow your doctor, or society.)

unfortunately, the name “hypnobirthing” brings up a lot of negative connotations. particularly among christians, many of whom have asked/told me how i would be proud of my birthing experience after using these techniques (or reasons why i shouldn’t be), which they saw as being counter to christian culture.  the “hypno” in hypnobirthing i think is what does it, we conjure up images of freud sitting in front of a patient with a watch, using phrases like “you are getting very sleepy” and “when i snap my fingers you will cluck around like a chicken.” if that’s what hypnobirthing was about, being hypnotized into a complete alternate state of consciousness in which i was totally vulnerable to shake my core truths … you better believe i wouldn’t have put so much preparation and stock into how it would transform my birthing experience. surprisingly, as i was making my way to 10cm, i never once clucked like a chicken, had a watch dangled in front of my face, believed i was someone i wasn’t, or lost sight of Who was in command. in fact, i was steeped in meditation on scripture, breathing, and a closeness to God’s heart for His creation in a way i never have been before. certainly not counter to my core beliefs of my faith.

what IS hypnobirthing?

{8.5 cm. in the middle of a surge. needed to lay down to get monitored for a few minutes}

there is a ton of information available out there in the blogosphere, but this is an important aspect of my point: hypnobirthing is an empowering journey. throughout the courses you will learn facts, information, techniques that will help you as parents prepare for the most comfortable, calm, gentle (often pain-less!) birth possible.  this happens through understanding how God created the female and baby body’s anatomically  speaking (although God is not a part of the curriculum!).  GI Joe’s once told us knowledge is power, and it’s true!  understanding the nuts and bolts of birth strips away fear. fear is, almost always, the catalyst for fighting against our bodies in birth, tensing up when a contraction nears, fighting against those, and ending up in severe pain- extending the length and level of discomfort associated with birthing. breathing techniques to relax and help your surges (aka contractions) along and relaxation scripts are key to staying in that fear-free zone. affirmations regarding the type of birth that you will have are key to preparation.  all in all, it is an outlet that encourages parents to bond with their baby not only pre and post-natally, but through the birthing process as well.  it’s not just about the mother’s experience, this little life is coming into the world, and the way in which he or she enters is sacred, despite what the medical model in our culture states.  you learn what your body is up to, how the birthing process works, how to breathe in between surges, how to breathe during surges, and how to truly relax your body (you may think you know how to relax, but you don’t!), how to simply just birth. not in some dramatic way, but just plain birth a baby.  and most importantly, you learn how wonderfully made the female body has been created- God made us to birth babies as part of life, not as part of some major medical procedure (although i recognize that these are necessary sometimes and am thankful for the lives it has saved).  it’s simple, straightforward, and not something that is only done down by a river while biting down on a stick. promise.  again, the knowledge you pick up throughout the classes helps you make your best decisions possible for your best birth possible. you will always remember this day when your life completely changes, why not make it a happy memory that is filled with empowering decisions and a relaxed atmosphere?

all in all hypnobirthing strives to help make your birthing experience more comfortable. in every way. physically, mentally, spiritually. you gain knowledge about what to expect in the top birthing spots (hospital, birthing center, home).  it also empowers you to understand why you are making the decisions you are. statistically speaking, around an overwhelming majority of hypnobirthers needs no medical interventions at all (epidural, etc). BUT, that is not to say that some don’t end up opting for it. which is fine, as long as it is their decision and they understand why they are making it (unlike the general birthing population who assumes that’s just what you do since, again, they assume their bodies can’t handle it. a precious moment of strength stripped away! … i feel like going on a “fight the man” tangent here!)

so what’s “wrong” with it?

nothing! but, as mentioned earlier, many people do not fully understand hypnobirthing.  they hear hypno and believe that it is truth hypnosis, that someone else, besides God, has power over your thoughts or actions. that you are in a completely altered state of consciousness in which an alternate reality is being played out. this really couldn’t be further from the truth.  somewhat of a misnomer, it should be called relaxbirthing or breathbirthing.  the hypnosis part comes in in that the relaxation scripts, breathing techniques, etc help you bring yourself to a place of pure comfort and relaxation, this “altered state of consciousness” is really not that altered, it’s just stripped down. i have never been more aware of what my body was doing and what my mind was thinking than i was while giving birth. women don’t claim to have a painless birth because they were just so out of it, they have this experience because they were so INTO it.  sure, some of the affirmations and relaxation scripts discuss nature and being one with the earth, and other things that christians may not fully subscribe to, but marie (the founder) herself states numerous times during these: change the words if you want! the words i use won’t work for everyone, so feel free to do what works for you. well, christians out there, what worked for me was, during the discussions on nature and similar topics- i used the word creation. i used the word God. i did not use the word deserve (“i deserve a gentle birth” turned into “i desire a gentle birth”). i took scriptures that gave me confidence and meditated on those. i prayed in the depths of relaxation that the Lord come lay beside me and help me experience His presence like never before. it was honestly beautiful.

{at just about 10 cm. had to lay down again because keaty’s heart rate was slowing. it perked right back up though. my body wasn’t telling me to push yet, so i was just chillin. but this was intense. might not be able to tell from my face/body though, right?! i learned in my hypnobirthing classes what was happening with my body, and how to stay relaxed through it all}

i would dare to say that the hypnobirthing techniques and preparation actually brought me CLOSER to God rather than further. that much time spent meditating, relaxing, and focusing … if you keep your mind clear and pointed towards Him, it can be an amazing time of spiritual growth!

i recognize that as part of the fall, “Eve’s Curse” is often quoted. so does the idea of a pain-free birth go against Biblical notions? i say no (i know, i know. gasp!).  my birth was intense. uncomfortable at times. did i mention intense? but my surges themselves were never painful (keaton switched positions on me during birth and him hitting up against my spine- painful, but surges, not so much). i felt God telling me: this is what I created you for. keep going, bring life. i do believe God’s curse on Adam and Eve were real, and that we experience them daily in incredibly painful ways. i believe that birthing and child rearing, which were created to be purely delightful (as was everything! dangit, adam and eve!) and have no signs of stress, pain, or discomfort, are a piece of the fall. but, i don’t think God is saying simply that giving birth has to be painful. i think He’s saying that this beautiful thing that He created is now marred, now we must think about still born babies, we must think about preterm labor, we must think about how our kids won’t obey us, we must think about getting our periods every month. we must think about a multitude of things that are just flat out painful and frustrating in a broken, ugly world. many versions, including King James, don’t mention painful childbirth. it mentions sorrow, struggle. well heck yes. infertility is a huge sorrow, struggle. having our periods can bring about sorrow, struggle. bringing new life into this world can bring about sorrow, struggle. giving birth is not a sorrowful act in and of itself (although it can be if you are not prepared, or if you have medical care providers who are not looking out for you!), but it can be a struggle (against yourself, against others). the sorrowful portion of birth is, if we think about it, we are bringing another sinner into the world who will only know their propensity to rebel against God.

thankfully God is so much bigger than that. so much better. so much less sorrow. so much less struggle.

so there ya go. maybe i didn’t spell it out eloquently enough, but hopefully you can see where my heart is in this. and a bit about the WHY of why i am so excited to be taking the instructor certification program next month.

i want to pay it forward. i want women to feel confident in themeselves and in their bodies, and to be equipped with as much knowledge as possible before their birthing day. i want my Christian brothers and sisters to realize that this is not some crazy cult-like practice.  i want you to feel excited to take your body and your baby into your own hands! so i have officially decided to take the classes next month and am stoked for what God has in store for me!

how much time did you put into choosing a college to go to? planning your wedding day? planning your stinkin saturday night outfit?! we need to encourage each other to put more stock into our birthing day, it is a day that will transform you in every way possible.

so make it count. make it yours. no matter what that looks like, make it yours.

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