Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pam & Steve's HypnoBirthing Story

Pam & Steve took Carol's HypnoBirthing classes in Encinitas on Tuesday nights in May 2012. Here is their birth story:

I just wanted to share my birth story with you. It didn't turn out exactly how I envisioned, but I was completely amazed by the strength I had to get through what I did.
I started having surges at 10am on the 25th. As they got closer and closer I called my doula, Leigh Fenly. She came over at about 2pm. Once the surges were about 4-5 minutes apart we went to the hospital (around 5pm).

We arrived and got checked in and they put the baby on the monitor. The baby looked great. The next several hours felt like 20 minutes. The surges were certainly intense but I was getting through them. We went for walks and I sat in the shower. The shower was amazing!!! I think I would have benefited greatly from a bathtub but it was great. I finally let the nurse check me around 10pm. I was the same dilation as when my previous day doctor appt. and my water hadn't broken. I decided to give it 2 hours and check again. At 12 pm, it was the same so I let the doctor break my water to get things going. After that things happened verrrry quickly. I sat in the shower and was screaming out during the surges. It was extremely intense but Leigh helped me relax and I was so proud of myself for my strength. I never even thought about wanting an epidural. Then I started throwing up violently in the shower. Even though it was a little scary and very uncomfortable, I remember you saying that when that happens it means it's almost coming to an end. And it was. It was time to monitor the baby again. Baby's heartrate was perfect. And then I got the urge to push. It was about 2am at this point. I was so happy that I was drug free because I tried all sorts of positions. I was doing squats, up on all fours, back (sitting up) and side. It felt so good to push. For the first two hours... I started to get tired but I was still going very strong. After 2.5 hours the baby had not moved at all :( His head was seriously not moving past my pelvic bone (nobody told me this - they kept saying I was making progress to keep me going). The doctor came in and checked me and said she understood that I wanted to have a natural birth and she did not generally let people push more than 3 hours but that she'd work with me if I started making progress. But that she was extremely uncomfortable using the vacuum which it seemed like may need to happen. The top of the head was going into a cone shape like it was supposed to but the rest of it just wasn't making it's way through. I asked her if I could have 30 more minutes and she said that was fine. After about 20 minutes, I was beyond uncomfortable. I asked Leigh for her opinion and she said let's push as hard as we can. But after a little while I asked her what she really thought. She told me that she has seen this before and that I shouldn't feel bad about needing a c-section. She said I have done everything that I could. And she was watching the whole time and didn't see more than the very tip of that baby's head.

As soon as I made the decision to get the c-section everything happened extremely quickly. They got me in the operating room, gave me the spinal, and had the baby out in about 4 minutes. I was so excited to see my son!! I was sad that he couldn't come right on to my chest but I couldn't think about it at that point. I knew I had done my best. He was born at 6:25 am. I had been actively pushing since about 3am. Everyone in the operating room was shocked that I was not on drugs! And I never ever felt pressured to do anything that I wasn't comfortable with.
So in the end it was not the birth that I had planned but I'm trying to look on the bright side. I was able to stay in the hospital for almost 5 days. I took full advantage of the staff. I had the Lactation Consultant in the room everyday giving me breastfeeding tips and watching the latch (we are doing GREAT with breastfeeding!!). I sent Steve with the nurses any time they did anything from swaddling to bathing so he could learn the techniques. We were waited on hand and foot and I was well taken care of. Scripps La Jolla is wonderful.

I was definitely bummed that I went through the whole process flawlessly only to stop at the end. But I've come to terms with it. I was scared at first because when he came out his head was super cone shaped (which I expected) but on the back of his head was a huge dark purple black bruise from banging against my pubic bone. But he's perfect! He only spit up once his first day and nothing after that. Good for a c-section baby! His name is Steven Raymond H., III. As a nickname for the 3rd generation we call him Trey. He was 8 lbs11oz and 21 inches. And he has a huge head!  

So there it is. I will absolutely do hypnobirthing again for the next baby! My child had a perfect heart rate the whole entire 16+ hours that I was in labor. Drugs didn't enter my body until about 4 minutes before he came out (so I am hoping he didn't get as much as if I had been on an epidural the entire time?) He is such a calm baby!! Only cries when he's hungry and is just so relaxed. We're so lucky.

Thanks again for being an amazing instructor. We'll see you again for a refresher course in a couple years :)---Pam

Thanks, Pam, for sharing your story with me! I'm glad that even though things went very differently than planned, that you felt that the classes were still helpful for you. My ultimate goal for teaching HypnoBirthing is to inform & educate my couples so that whatever choices they need to make are ones that they know are right for them in the moment. I hope you're recovering well & enjoying your little baby!

If you're interested in learning more about Pam's doula, Leigh Fenly, please visit

If you're interested in taking Carol's HypnoBirthing classes, please visit www.AWellLivedLife.Net for more information. If Carol's schedule doesn't work with yours, she would be happy to refer you to one of the many practitioners in San Diego. If you're outside of San Diego, please visit for a list of practitioners in your area.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sara and Erich's HypnoBirthing Story

Sara and Erich took my classes at Seaside Women’s Health in Encinitas, North County San Diego. Here is their story:

I could not believe how similar my birth story was to your first baby's birth! I was really shaking in transition, and I remembered that is what you described as well. My doula did not show up to the hospital as promised which was a disappointment. And lastly, my son was born with his hand up next to his head, just like your first baby!
I was overdue and my OB was concerned about the health of the baby. She had scheduled me for induction on Tuesday at exactly 42 weeks
 which was pushing her from her usual 41.5 week induction date. She was
flexible and understood that I was waiting until the last possible moment to be induced. We decided to try sweeping my membranes on the Friday before to see if that would work. Nothing happened except for cramping. I went to Indigo Dragon Wellness Center for their induction acupuncture the same day. Nothing but lots of cramps. We waited it out Saturday and nothing. Sunday came and finally that evening, after walking the beach stairs, I noticed more intense cramping, but nothing that uncomfortable. I just took my time breathing through them.
My water broke soon after and I was surprised at how different the surges felt from the cramps. From there things got much more intense. Thinking we had tons of time to labor at home, I tried to go shower, wash my hair and relax but it was not happening. I put on the affirmations and ran a bath but it was too uncomfortable against the hard porcelain. The doula was not answering her phone or responding to texts. The only position I found to give me comfort was the "slow dance"; hanging on my husband and swaying. After only about 20 minutes or so, the surges were a minute apart and I was really shaky. My mom came over, thinking we were having dinner, and promptly told us to get going to the hospital. As much as I thought we were going too soon, I knew the surges were really close and we should probably get moving.
It took me forever to get to the car, stopping and breathing through each surge. We sped along the 5 freeway to Scripps La Jolla Hospital and again it took forever to get to elevator and up to the maternity area as I didn't want the wheelchair. They didn't bother putting in a hep-lock, taking blood, signing paperwork or putting the monitor on me. The nurse checked and I was at 9cm. We waited a little bit longer for the doctor and it was time to push! The nurse offered me the epidural, even though the birth plan said not to, but at that point I knew I was so close there was no way I was considering getting one. About 2 hours from the time my water broke, Landon Thomas was born alert, happy and drug-free.

Although I didn't listen to the rainbow relaxation CD at all, as there wasn't much time and I was too focused to get it playing, I know that the HypnoBirthing classes really helped me. They made me feel confident, knowing that my body and my baby would figure out what to do on their own. Knowing I was made to do this allowed me to remain fearless about the final stages of labor and the pushing. I walked away from the experience feeling very empowered and happy about the outcome of the birth. My husband was also able to act as a doula, since she wasn't able to get there, and know how to provide comfort and support in a positive way as we learned in class.

So, thank you so much for providing me with confidence and a birth without fear! We couldn't have done it without you :)

Sara, Erich and Landon

Sara and Erich, thank you so much for sharing your story! I'm so glad that you were able to have such a quick birth yet feel educated, informed & in control as much as possible with everything happening so fast! I hope you are continuing to enjoy your babymoon!

If you are interested in taking HypnoBirthing classes in the San Diego area, please feel free to contact Carol for class schedules and more information at: A Well Lived Life. If Carol's schedule does not work with yours, she would love to refer you to other local instructors as well. If you aren’t in the San Diego area but are still interested in utilizing all that HypnoBirthing has to offer, check out The HypnoBirthing Institute and find a Local Practitioner for you!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Jenni & Bobby's 2nd HypnoBirth of a 9.5 lb baby!

Jenni & Bobby took my HypnoBirthing classes for their first birth and had a great experience. When they found out they were pregnant again, they contacted me for a refresher class. They came to sit in on a class to review techniques in order to prepare for their second birth. Here is their story:

Our beautiful Brynnlee Elaine was born on September 9th at 4:46 in the afternoon! She was 9.5 lbs and 20 inches!!!

It all started Saturday night around 10:30 and my contractions were 10 minutes apart for a good hour or so. They picked up a bit and then tapered off to about 14 minutes apart. Like my labor with Jordan, I let Bobby sleep and kept practicing what I was going to say to him the next morning when he woke up. Ha! I was able to get a decent amount of sleep in between contractions and was getting so annoyed and having to unlock my phone to use my contraction app every time I felt another one coming. I stopped timing them for a good portion of the night, as I felt I was wasting more energy analyzing them than was necessary.
The next morning when Bobby woke up, the most clever comment I could come up with was, "Today's the day!" I guess all of my prep work and practice from the night before didn't pay off. I then sent a text to LaShel and Jamin giving them a heads up that I was pretty certain Brynnlee was on her way and then texted my mom to see if she was able to come down and take care of Jordan during the birth. She was on her way shortly after getting the news.
Bobby, Jordan and I all got up and came downstairs like every other weekend morning. Bobby made me an egg over easy on a piece of toast and I just labored in the family room; sitting on my birthing ball, standing up and swaying, or leaning against the kitchen table. Jordan wanted "uppies", wanted to play and do normal playful things, and we just kept telling her that mama's tummy hurt and she needed to leave me alone.
My mom arrived only a few hours after texting her and was a huge help in keeping Jordan occupied. I continued to labor as I had been, but started to get discouraged when I was noticing that my contractions were 4 to 5 minutes apart, lasting 60 to 90 seconds while I was standing, but would slow down to 7 or 8 minutes apart, lasting 60 seconds max if I sat down. I was also falling asleep in between contractions while I was sitting, so I guess I hadn't gotten as much sleep as I had thought! I had been losing bits of my mucous plug for a solid two weeks prior, but also started to have a little bloody show here and there throughout the morning.
Earlier in the morning, LaShel had written me asking if she was ok to go to yoga at 10:30. I saw no problem with it since things hadn't really picked up. Around 11:30, I figured she would be out of class and I decided to update her and see what insight she may have for me. She called me right back and recommend I try to take a nap and get some rest and that my be just what my body needs in order for labor to pick up. So that's just what I did. When I got upstairs, Bobby had already prepped the room with all the plastic on the floor and under the fitted sheet on the bed. I curled right up on the bed and was able to get some rest after I decided to stop timing contractions again. I stayed there for a couple hours and LaShel checked in on me around 2:15. Contractions were about 6 minutes apart at that point and I was definitely not able to talk through them any more. She told me to let her know when I was ready for them and they would be over.
With Jordan, my water broke, contractions started and progressed steadily, and everything happened so fast. Mentally, I feel like I was holding on to the fact that my water hadn't broken, so I wasn't going to progress. I expressed my concern to her, to which she told me that my water may not break until I start pushing...duh...I knew that, but for some reason, I just expected everything to be more similar to Jordan's birth. Bobby then came in to check on me and I decided to go to the bathroom to make sure a full bladder wasn't preventing my water from breaking. While in there, I started to think about getting in the tub and Bobby must have read my mind because that was the next question he asked. I stayed on the toilet until the bath was ready. Getting in felt AH-MAZING. It was so soothing to my back. next contraction. I remember looking Bobby straight in the eyes and shaking my head, "No" and it was like I didn't know what to do with my body. I just wanted to find that one position that would alleviate all the pressure in my back, but there wasn't one. I eventually ended up sitting in the tub like you would normally to just relax and with each contraction, I laid my head back against the glass of the shower and moaned as deep as I could through it. Bobby was so amazing at being right there with me and letting me know if my tone was too high or if he could tell that I was tensing my butt muscles.

After laboring in the tub for a while, (it felt like at least an hour), I finally told Bobby that I was ready for LaShel and Jamin to come. I just needed to know where I was at and how much more I had to get through. Now looking through my texts, I realize that it had only been 45 minutes since I was texting her myself about my water not breaking. LaShel arrived shortly after 3pm. I got out of the tub once she was all set up and had her check me. Amy, a student midwife, had also arrived at this point and Jamin was on her way. Just like with Jordan, I could have sworn I was not going to be very dilated and I was going to lose my ever-loving mind. My body is now two for two in proving me wrong. I was already 8 cm with a bit of a cervical lip. Oh, I could not have been more relieved. I curled up on my side on the bed and just asked Bobby to apply counter pressure on my lower back. Jamin showed up in the mean time and one of them expressed that they didn't want me laying down and suggested I get up and sit on the toilet...the one place that I found the most excruciating while having a contraction. But.....if it was going to help, I was willing to try it out. The very next contraction that came on while I was on the toilet was H*LL!! The sounds that came out of my mouth were horrifying and I remember hearing Jamin say something like, "Yup, that's what we were hoping for!" I felt so much pressure at that point that I was so ready to get this baby out. I don't remember why, because I was a bit confused as to when I was going to start pushing, but I got off the toilet and ended up spending a few contractions leaning against the sink with Bobby applying counter pressure again. With each contraction, I was starting to squat down into it and finally asked when I was going to push. They told me I could start whenever I felt I was ready, so we made our way to the bed. I didn't want to push while laying on my back again, so I started out on my knees with my upper body over the birthing ball, but the ball was too high, so they stacked a bunch of pillows for me to drape myself over. This position was fine except that I was practically sitting on the bed still and this left no room for the baby to move down, let alone, out. So they told me I needed to lift my butt up a bit. Stink bug it was. My big bare A** up in the air, but I couldn't have cared less. I bared down a few times in this position and then ended up switching to a side lying position. I don't remember exactly why I decided to move, but I did. I continued to push in this position while pleading for someone to tell me how much longer I had to do this and dropping a number of F bombs. It felt like I had been pushing for hours. Time distortion was not on my side, as I ended up pushing for 12 minutes! LaShel ended up having to break my water for me and said that it was actually pretty difficult for her to rupture. It was housing our mighty healthy 9.5 lb baby girl after all! I had to sit with her head crowning in an attempt to help from tearing, but I ended up with a tear anyway. Once her head was out, LaShel told me to reach down and pull my baby out and I couldn't believe she was here. I reached down, grabbed her underneath her arms and went to pull her to my chest, but she slipped right out of my hands! I regripped and was holding my new love, my new life, my new baby girl on my chest. The feeling is indescribable.
And, without further ado, here is the latest addition to our family!
Thanks so much for sharing your birth story! Wow...a 9.5 lb baby! You did an amazing job! I'm glad that the HypnoBirthing refresher class you took helped you have such an amazing experience!

If you're interested in learning more about Jenni's midwives, please visit

If you're interested in learning more about HypnoBirthing classes in San Diego, Please visit Carol's website at www.AWellLivedLife.Net. If Carol's class schedule doesn't fit yours, she would be happy to refer to you some of the other practitioners in San Diego. If you're outside of San Diego, please visit to find an instructor near you.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Gina and Mike's HypnoBirthing Story

Gina and Mike took my classes on Tuesday evenings at Seaside Women’s Health in Encinitas, North County San Diego.

Zoe decided to make an early appearance six weeks ahead of her guess date! She is doing well, and I wanted to write to give you the news and to especially thank you for the HynoBirthing training because despite all the curve-balls we faced that fateful night, I managed to have a beautiful, peaceful hypnobirth!

My water started leaking steadily and fairly heavily at 10:45PM on the 14th, and because I was only at 34 weeks, I called the midwives' line at UCSD and luckily got a hold of Erica Wu, who was one of the midwives I'd seen during my prenatal visit. She suggested that we go down and get checked out just to be sure, and so we collected all our things very calmly and drove down to the UCSD Medical Center in Hillcrest at around 12 am. I was sure that the baby was coming, and Mike was just as sure she was not, but luckily, he indulged me and drove me down! When they began monitoring me, it appeared that I was already in the 4-1-1 stage, but I never felt a thing except a very mild pressure. Erica said that because I was less than 36 weeks, she wouldn't be able to deliver me at the Birth Center, but that she would find the most natural birth friendly OB resident and attending, and that she didn't see any reason why I couldn't have a natural birth. She was true to her word, because by the time my surges became really powerful--around 3 AM, the nurses and OB resident had met with me, assured me that they would respect all our birth preferences (that we hadn't had a chance to discuss with our midwife or write down yet) and they did. The neonatologists, however, were less accommodating, and insisted that I give birth in the OR, but by then I was completely in my zone, breathing with each surge, changing positions, moving about, and never once opening my eyes or talking. It didn't matter to me where I gave birth because I was well and truly within myself and unaware of my surroundings. I had been listening to the Rainbow Relaxation and comfortable with Mike’s light massage during early labor, but I didn't want to listen to the CD or be touched during active labor. Our doula, Jenna Anderson, was awesome, applying cold and hot compresses, taking turns with Mike to apply counter-pressure on my hips, and at around 5 after I had a massive bout of vomiting (which felt really good afterward), she suggested that the resident check my cervix because she thought I was close (the resident said that she didn't need to check me at all before that because I was progressing so quickly and she didn't want to put me in any discomfort). I was 9 cm dilated at 5 am, ready to push by 5:30, and baby came after about 40 minutes of a combination of "purple pushing" and bearing down, both of which seemed completely intuitive to me at the time. The doctors and nurses (Drs. Mimi Schaeffer and Yvette Lacroisiere, and Juliette, the nurse), Jenna, and of course, Mike, were so encouraging and wonderful--- I felt like I was running a sprint with my most ardent fans egging me to the finish line, as gently and warmly as possible. No one ever mentioned Pitocin, epidurals, or episiotomies to me, I was allowed to do everything I wanted to, and even with a portable fetal rate monitor that I continuously had on my belly, no one ever gave me cause for alarm. Baby came easily, and I did tear very little, needing 1 stitch, which hasn't bothered me at all. Incidentally, we practiced perineal massage for the first time the evening of the 14th, so that poor perineum didn't get a chance to get properly exercised! I was really touched when both the nurse and resident said that they felt honored at having witnessed such a beautiful birth--Jenna said that she had never seen OBs treat a birth with such dignity.

If anything, the neonatologists have not been quite as respectful as the OBs, because they did not allow me initial skin-to-skin time with Zoe, nor an attempt at breastfeeding and they whisked her away to the NICU almost immediately. Mike went with them, and they did bring her to me briefly, but that part of it has been less than ideal. This is despite the fact that she weighed a respectable 5 lbs at birth, cried lustily as soon as she was born, and was pink, healthy, and vigorous. She's still in the NICU as a "feeder and grower" so that's hard, but I am so glad I was able to give her a drug and anesthesia-free birth. We are hoping that she comes home very soon, so we can continue bonding in a more comfortable space, when she doesn't have a dozen monitoring devices attached to her. Without the natural birth, I wouldn't have been feeling this good physically so soon after giving birth, and my time with her would be much more limited. I am almost fully recovered from the labor and delivery, save for some lingering exhaustion at the end of each day and my rigorous pumping schedule every 3 hours round the clock.

Thanks you for giving us the tools to be able to do this---it will always be one of the most amazing experiences in both my life and Mike’s.


Congratulations, Gina and Mike! I am so happy that Zoe's birth was just as beautiful as you desired, even if it was a bit earlier than anticipated! I am thankful to hear that the HypnoBirthing techniques came in handy, and am also thankful to know that Zoe was on the road to recovery soon after you sent this story in. How wonderful you felt so respected and empowered for your experience!

For more information on Gina’s doula, Jenna Anderson:

If you are interested in taking HypnoBirthing classes in the San Diego area, please feel free to contact Carol for class schedules and more information at: A Well Lived Life. If Carol's schedule does not work with yours, she would love to refer you to other local instructors as well. If you aren’t in the San Diego area but are still interested in utilizing all that HypnoBirthing has to offer, check out The HypnoBirthing Institute and find a Local Practitioner for you!