Hypnobirthing course – Session #1

WARNING: LOOOOOOOOOOOONG POST

My inspiration this week:

All natural birth has a purpose and a plan; who would think of tearing open the chrysalis as the butterfly is emerging? Who would break the shell to pull the chick out? ~ Marie F. Mongan

After 12 weeks of waiting since we registered for the course, Hubby and I finally attended our first session of Hypnobirthing course with Wai Han (WH) last Saturday. I have previously gone for three other sessions by another Hypnobirthing educator named Karin Heinimann with Connie and already knew what to expect and as such, wasn’t very much looking forward to going through everything all over again. Alas, we have paid for the course and I will be attending this with my birth companion a.k.a. Hubby.

How wrong I was! No wonder a doctor labelled her the “Jesus of Hypnobirthing” (no offence to Christians!). Unlike Karin who held the course in an office meeting room with rather uncomfortable chairs, WH’s was conducted in one of the rooms in her house located in Shah Alam. Dimly-lit with cosy paddings and pillows for expectant moms, I felt at ease and blended in instantly. There were a total of five couples including us (the room can’t accommodate more than that). Three expectant moms were in their early third trimester (around 29-31 weeks) while another was in late second trimester (26 weeks).

To me, both Karin and WH are very approachable but the former is more careful in answering doubts and questions from the couples while the latter openly asks and encourages the sharing of our previous experiences, fears and hopes. Probably because of the formality of its room setting, the couples at Karin’s class were more reserved and kept to themselves too. Connie and I only officially made friends with one of the six couples there. Although it was our first class with WH, Hubby and I quickly felt acquainted with the couples there due to the nature of the educator and freedom given to express ourselves.

What did we learn in our first class?
Before dissecting the chapters, each of us was asked to share our fears, worries, perception of birth and goals. Among the topics discussed include:

► What is fear? How does it affect our labour?
► Where does contraction pain (in Hypnobirthing term – discomfort) stem from?
► Why does women’s bodies, perfectly created to birth, shut down even before labour begins?
► What happens to our body during a surge (contraction in regularly used term)?
► History of childbirth and how the society came to view it as something scary and daunting.

Did you know…

► Babies are active participants throughout labour and birth? That they don’t just sleep all the way through but instead, work with their mommy’s bodies to be born? Yes, they are THAT smart!

► EDD is just an estimation. To ward off pressure and unnecessary attention from others, it’s best to mention your birthing month instead of exact EDD. Because what’s stated in resources is calculated based on the average 28-day cycle, our babies can go beyond 42 weeks especially if our period is irregular or of a longer cycle. Allow your baby to tell you the right time to be born by waiting for labour to start naturally, instead of being induced or electing for C-sec. We will never know which part of our baby’s growth process that we are compromising on if we decide to jump start labour artificially.

► There’s no need to panic if your membrane (waterbag) releases and nothing happens after 24 hours, like most obstetrician would warn. Unless it’s a rush of water gushing out at the same time, just keep yourself hydrated and wait for labour to start on its own. WH has witnessed a case where the mom gave birth safely to a healthy baby a week after her membrane released.

► When we are put in a life-threatening situation, our face becomes pale as blood concentrates on other organs that need it most for fight or flight solution. Similarly, when we are fearful of childbirth or try to resist the discomfort from labour surges, our uterus turns pale and functions less optimally too. When that happens, labour gets stalled. This is what most doctors would label as “failure to progress”.

► Even leaders of the Grecian School of Medicine such as Aristotle and Hippocrates believed that the needs and feelings of women in childbirth were to be accommodated. Aristotle wrote of the mind-body connection and emphasized the importance of deep relaxation during childbirth. Childbirth was a celebration of life.

► No thanks to misguided religion activists, there arose a widespread wave of contempt against women especially healers. In Germany where the largest number of execution of healers occurred, Martin Luther wrote, “If women become tired, or even die, it does not matter. Let them die in childbirth.” Childbirth was then regarded as a sinful act and a ‘punishment’ that each woman had to undergo. As a result, no medical assistance was given to laboring women who required it; women were left to labour on their own in fear and solitary. No men were allowed to be present during childbirth at that time too. This also marked the advent of an era where childbirth was thought to be dangerous, painful and life-threatening.

► With the coming of the Renaissance and the “rebirth of learning”, birthing women started to fare better. Childbirth shifted from home to hospital in the late 1800s when Queen Victoria requested for chloroform – which had to be administered professionally – during her labour. Since then, the gateway to anaesthesia was opened. At that time, maternity wards were an abandoned department of hospitals where something as basic as washing hands before handling patients was not practised. Childbirth was subsequently associated with maternal and neonatal deaths due to unsanitised handling/equipment from diseases like ‘childbed fever’ and exposure to contagious illnesses from other patients.

In short, WH elaborated the topics in easy-to-relate and non-theoretical style. She showed us a life-size chart of our pregnancy trimester by trimester. She demonstrated what happens to our uterus during labour and painted similar bodily function scenarios to make it clearer.

Frankly, I thought I knew quite a lot about childbirth after reading up several recommended gentle birth resources (ie. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth) but nothing beats hearing from an expert’s mouth herself. WH herself has given birth in the hospital once, twice at home. According to her, “it wasn’t painful at all.”

I left WH’s class eagerly looking forward to the next session! More updates on class part #2 next week.

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