Thursday, July 22, 2010


Ok, so with Eli's birth in mind I was quite scared at the idea of giving birth again from the moment I discovered I was pregnant. I was slowly coming around to the idea and realisation that what happened was so rare and bizarre that it would not happen again and chances are I'd have a great birth this time when I was introduced to the book Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method by Marie Mongan.

I must admit that it sounded a bit out there for me. I had all the standard prejudices around hypnosis but was open to reading the book. The book is fantastic. Great history around birthing particularly Grantly Dick-Read's work in the 1800's. He came up with the Fear-Tension-Pain Theory. The theory explains that when someone is fearful it creates tension in their body due the flight/fight response and tension leads to pain. In the context of birth any tension centers around the uterus as a birthing woman is fearful of the pain, experience or idea of having a new baby. Tension in the uterus means that blood to the area is restricted and the baby is pushing against hard muscles causing pain and obviously a Failure To Progress, which funnily enough has the same acronym as Fear Tension Pain (FTP). Obstetricians who have performed cesarians on women who have Failed to Progress have found the muscles of the uterus to be white. So the main objectives of hypnobirthing are relaxation, visualisation, imagery, affirmations to create a calm, gentle, even painless birthing for you and your baby.

Anyway there is more to it than that and I strongly recommend a read of the Hypnobirthing book. So now I was really interested in the philosophy and skills that hypnobirthing had to offer. The woman who recommended the book to me had recently arrived in Dunedin, New Zealand with her family and is a Hypnobirthing instructor. She wanted to run a course for couples she had met. Unfortunately (fortunately for us) we ended up being the only couple interested and I was already in the second half of my pregnancy. So our instructor was happy to run it just for us. There were pro's and con's to that, but ultimately it was a fantastic course. As well as the skills of relaxation, visualisation, imagery and a really positive view of natural birth we also had the opportunity (created for us by our instructor) to process Eli's birth and have time together with this new baby pre-birth. It was a great opportunity for my partner to understand what I was trying to achieve and ways that he could support the process and be involved in the birth of his child. The fact that the course is run for couples is a great thing.

I would recommend a hypnobirthing course to anyone. Great to get it right the first time and if the first time wasn't ideal it's great for setting you up to have a more ideal birth the second time. As part of the course we watched 'Birth as we know it,' a fantastic DVD created by a Russian midwife. Also highly recommended.

I really hope that the hypnobirthing instructor here in Dunedin continues to offer courses to couples and that midwives around the world start to adopt the philosophy and skills of this wonderful technique.

Look forward to writing a post on my birth experience to come and how hypnobirthing helped me.