HypnoBirthing Takes The World by Calm
Our midwife wanted us to take a birth preparation/instruction class, and HypnoBirthing was one of the options she suggested. When I started looking into it, the concept intrigued me. The hypnosis terminology weirded me out a little, which is why I read the book before signing up for any classes.
The basis of HypnoBirthing is that practicing deep relaxation (they call it self-hypnosis) and replacing your fears and pre-conceived notions of birth with positive imagery can help ease your way through birth. Deep breathing during labor helps your body have enough oxygen to work properly, and it also helps you not to get so depleted of energy.
We see all of these terrified, screaming women in labor on TV and hear horror stories from family and friends. This conditions us to fear childbirth, while it is really a natural process of the female body. Fear causes us to tense up and resist the process, when the time comes, and when we are tense, pain (or the perception of it) increases. (HypnoBirthing actually stems from an older method, Childbirth Without Fear, which set forth the Fear-Tension-Pain reasoning.)
This book gives a full explanation of the background and philosophy of the program, and you get the exercises and relaxation techniques. It even comes with a CD for relaxation and for practicing with your partner. It is basically the same information that we are covering in class (yes, we did sign up for class, after I finished the book), but they still recommend taking a class, and I agree; it just helps to have someone who's used the program to talk to, to ask questions of and to explain things more fully. If you can't afford a class, however, and you're interested in having a natural, gentle birth, I would definitely say take a look at the book (you may even find it at the library) and just practice the relaxation techniques on your own.
Our minds control our bodies (when your mind is stressed out, your body will respond by producing stress hormones, and when you're happy, your body responds with relaxing and feel-good hormones), so it just makes sense that relaxing your mind will help to relax your body. Also, focusing on relaxation during birth results in a gentler birth experience for your baby, which can have a lifelong impact on him or her (something I didn't realize).
As with anything, lots of practice will help you implement it more smoothly, so I've started early, to give myself plenty of time to learn to relax. I guess I won't know for sure until I give birth whether it 'works' or not, but I'm a lot more excited about the prospect than I was before, and I'd say that is worth the price of checking it out.
I'm reading this book right now. I'm so interested in trying to learn all I can about the effects of gentle birth on children (and people throughout their lives). The author sounds a little unusual (kind of a hippie mindset, I guess), but I think it will still provide plenty of useful information, since she covers everything from the possible effects of drugs in birth to cesarean, home birth and baby feeding.
This is also on my list (I already ordered it, but I haven't read it yet). I thought it might expand on the same philosophy as HypnoBirthing (which points out that our bodies are designed to give birth, so if we just let them work, they'll do it) to help me solidify the proper mindset.
I haven't read this yet, but I've heard some good things about it.
Take a look at some satisfied users of the method. While results may vary somewhat, the overall response seems to be positive from what I've seen and heard.
What is HypnoBirthing?