I'll admit my finger is not exactly on the pulse of Hollywood happenings. I have far too much going on in my life to add celebrity watching to the list. However, when there is a natural or home birth in Hollywood (things near and dear to my heart), the news usually crosses my path one way or another. And so I was both surprised and pleased to read yesterday that Jessica Alba's new daughter Honor Marie Warren was born via a natural hypnobirth. Hypnobirthing - the Mongan Method - "is a unique method of relaxed, natural childbirth education, enhanced by self-hypnosis techniques."
Jessica told OK! magazine:
"I didn't scream," Jessica tells OK! in an exclusive interview and photoshoot. "It was really Zen." And Cash could only marvel at his wife's quiet strength when she gave birth. "She didn't make a sound," he says. "It was amazing."
"The labor was more like meditation," she says. "I did yoga breathing. I was focused."
While Jessica was pregnant, she told FitPregnancy about her birth plan:
I want to spend as much of my labor as possible at home, and I'm taking a HypnoBirthing class. It's a relaxation technique that allows you to avoid going into panic mode and tightening up. If you are calm and relaxed, your body will just do what it has to do.
Hypnobirthing classes are taught in format of five 2 1/2-hour classes or four 3-hour classes. I took the classes myself in preparation for childbirth when I was pregnant with my first child. Some women who practice Hypnobirthing report relatively pain-free labors and births, describing the sensations as those of discomfort and pressure, but not painful. While I wouldn't say either of my two births were exactly pain-free (though I didn't experience pain with my second birth until I was in transition), I was notably calm for both of my labors and feel that Hypnobirthing was very helpful to me in learning to go within myself and tune out the world. I also feel it helped make my children's entrances into the world as peaceful and serene as possible.
There are plenty of women blogging about their experiences with Hynobirthing.
Hypnobirthing is part-pain management, part-breathing method, part-life philosophy that holds as one of its core messages that giving birth doesn't have to be excruciatingly painful or traumatic. The "hypno" part refers more to learning to self-hypnotize, or really just relax to a point of letting go of the fear and tension that usually accompanies birth, thus decreasing the pain.
She also jokes around and says that due to her partner's suggestible nature, he should be the one having the baby.
I've learned in our classes that the correct word to describe this ability of Mike's is suggestible. Mike is highly, highly suggestible.
Last night's class was a sort of wake up call for me. Firstly, our instructor led us in a relaxation exercise, and quite literally, by the time she was 10 seconds into it, Mike was almost snoring. Not only is this just AMAZING, but it distracted me to the point that I had a tougher time getting into it. I just sat there thinking, I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS GUY !
I definitely have a lot of anxiety and fear even thinking about labor and this class is all about conquering that. And I love the entire theory around the hypnobirthing and how she was talking about everyone just being programmed into thinking labor is painful. I mean, have you ever heard someone not mention pain and labor in the same sentence?
Tiffany at Nature Moms Blog has had two hypnobirths. She feels that Hypnobirthing is "like deep meditation and focus" and that "it teaches you to withdraw into yourself during labor and take control of your pain and your birth experience."
As far as the subject of “pain” and the process of birth, most natural methods, including Hypnobirthing and the Bradley Method are based on the work of Dr. Grantly Dick-Read, who noticed that cultures that do not teach women to fear birth tend to have amazingly smooth, stress free births — in the same way that animals giving birth simply go to a quiet, private place, relax, get into a zone, and “just do it."
Cindy Unger, a Hypnobirthing educator who blogs at Chicago Hypnobirthing, expresses her frustration when health care providers require Hypnobirthing moms to push instead of "breathe their baby down" as is instructed in the classes.
Babies are born beautifully and calmly if mom just lets her body do all the work. Trust the process. Follow this advice: "Purina's Handbook of Cat Care advises owners to pet the laboring cat reassuringly and leave her on her own. She may stay in the box; on the other hand, don't be surprised if she doesn't. The best thing to do at this point is to do nothing. Keep quiet and do not attempt to help her - it's her problem. Mother nature usually takes over at this point and it is amazing to see how she goes about doing what comes naturally."
There is absolutely nothing that has been a more rewarding/organic experience as the morning my firstborn entered this world. Without the skills that are instructed in HypnoBirthing, I would not have been so sure of my commitment to going totally natural, nor would I have had the discipline to stick with the initial pains of nursing. My surrender to a more healthful, less risky approach was a form of empowerment that has made me a stronger person, and to this day I use the same skills to get through physical pain, as well as to find calm during those days I wish I could just bury my head in the sand.
While Hypnobirthing may not be right for every woman, it has helped many women achieve a comfortable birthing experience and is certainly an option worth exploring. To learn more about Hypnobirthing, visit the official site.
Contributing editor Amy Gates writes about attachment parenting, activism, green living and photography at Crunchy Domestic Goddess.
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