Tuesday, January 27, 2009

An unplanned home VBAC HypnoBirth

One of my couples just recently had an unplanned VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section) homebirth!

The mother had a c-section for her 1st birth using the Bradley Method. She found HypnoBirthing & thought that it would be a good class to take in addition to her Bradley Method techniques. She & her husband often had to leave early from class due to childcare issues. Her husband also had to travel quite a bit during the 5 weeks of class due to a death in the family & family health issues, so they would come to another class session or come after her husband had been up for almost 14 hours traveling. They even missed the 5th class because their daughter was sick!

They were a motivated couple, but with a toddler at home, both parents working (mom going to grad school too!) & a traveling husband, they were definitely busy! I remember that the mother said after the 4th class' fear release hypnosis sessions, that she still felt fearful of having another c-section, of having things go wrong during her birth & that she still didn't feel the confidence she was hoping for. I encouraged her to meet with a Hypnotherapist for a deeper fear release session to help in getting rid of those fears.

Luckily, they had a few months time to continue to practice the HypnoBirthing skills AND they hired a monitrice (a labor support person in between a doula & a homebirth midwife) to help them so they would be able to stay home as long as possible & have support in the hospital. Well, lo & behold, the mother went into labor & by the time the monatrice arrived, the baby was well on its way!

Here is the link to the monitrice's (Barbara Herrera, who is also a homebirth midwife) blog where she describes this HBAC from her perspective: http://navelgazingmidwife.squarespace.com/

I'd say the HypnoBirthing techniques really helped this mother & father remain calm during a very surprising situation!


Addendum: I spoke with this mom today at length & she is elated her birth went so well. Some of the things that she mentioned were that HypnoBirthing really helped her even though she wasn't that confident it was going to work. She said that the only practice she was able to do was to listen to her Rainbow Relaxation CD every night as she went to sleep. She also read the book & read Sheri Menelli's Journey into Motherhood book.
She said one key thing that helped her was that as soon as her surges started, she put the CD on & really listened to the words of the Rainbow Relaxation. She said that even at the most intense surges, she really felt like things were manageable. She said that she felt that HypnoBirthing gave her more information about what to do vs her Bradley classes which she thought gave her more info about how to avoid a c-section & how to manage pain. She said going into this birth, she felt okay if she needed to have another c-section & that HypnoBirthing helped her feel like if she needed to have a c-section, that it wasn't a failure on her part.
She said that changing her language (contractions=surges, pain=sensation) also helped her go into her birth knowing that birth could be natural & normal. Even when people around her asked her during her surges, "Are you in pain?", she'd correct them (at least in her head) & would focus on the sensations.
She said that this birth really healed a lot of her past trauma & guilt from the c-section of her 1st child & that this birth was even better than she could have imagined. The mom said that the HypnoBirthing videos from class also really helped her see that birth is natural, normal & healthy & gave her something to visualize for her birth experience since her memories were of special circumstances that ended in an emergency c-section.
She said that she also used her own version of the HypnoBirthing breathing techniques during her surges & during her pushing stage. She said that she knew she needed to breathe slowly & not hold her breath, so what worked for her was to repeat her own mantra's over & over again to ensure she was breathing out & breathing slowly. During surges, she repeatedly said "Let go....let go....let gooo." And during her birth breathing/pushing, she repeatedly said "Don't leave me, don't leave me, don't leave me" because she didn't want her husband to leave the room.
Her recovery has been really easy compared to having to deal with an incision going across her pelvic area in addition to the fact that baby #2 is nursing well, which didn't happen for baby #1.
One thing that really made me get teary-eyed was her description of her husband's involvement in this birth & in caring for baby #2. The mom said that her husband was there for every step of this birth, involved & interactive, & was able to stay calm as he called 911 to tell them his wife was having a baby right now! She said that for the 1st birth, he was there, but because things became an emergency, he wasn't able to be as involved as he was this time. She said that he commented that he really felt like he "was a part of this birth"...that's the part that made me teary-eyed. I mean, isn't that what all partners should feel like during their baby's birth? And that's what HypnoBirthing can really accomplish...empowering not just moms but dads as well to know how to BE there for the birthing mom.
I really encouraged the mom to write out her birth story as this is something that can really be inspiring to so many people. She plans to write a little here & there since there is SO much to be told & because of her time distortion from being so "in her zone" from HypnoBirthing, the details are all kind of mixed up. She kept remembering more bits & pieces as we talked, which is normal. Once she has it all together, she plans to share it. I can't wait!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Having faith

Here is a quote that I love:

"Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step."
~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I think that is so true of HypnoBirthing. So many women are so fearful of what can happen during birth--pain, complications, feeling out of control, tearing, etc---that they choose to be medicated as soon as possible in order to not feel what is going on in their bodies. They choose not to look into other non-traditional childbirth education classes. So many people hear the "hypno" of HypnoBirthing & automatically assume that it's some new-agey, crunchy granola, tree hugging, airy fairy type thing where someone puts the mom in a trance. It is the farthest thing from that though...it's more about de-hypnotizing women about the idea of birth so they can learn to trust their body & the birthing process. I've had so many couples come to the 1st class & admit they are skeptics & say that they don't think they can be hypnotized. By the end of class #1, most are believers. By the end of the entire class series, it's usually the skeptics that are the most vocal supporters of HypnoBirthing!

If more women took the first step in faith & took a childbirth education class that was "outside the box" like HypnoBirthing, Bradley or Birthing From Within, they would have the opportunity to feel more in control of their birth & they would be able to experience birth the way it was meant to be...normal, natural & healthy.

I encourage women to re-connect with their bodies, bond with their babies & give their babies a more peaceful, gentle beginning. Take that step & you'll be amazed at what you can achieve.

(Thank you to Martin Luther King, Jr. for his bravery, for his commitment to his beliefs & for his life. He took that first step & now look where we are...we have the 1st African American President! Truly amazing!)


Sunday, January 18, 2009

What a calm, peaceful birth can look like

Here's the link to a wonderful video of a woman chanting throughout her labor. The lights are dimmed, candles are lit & the mother chants "Ommmm" & "Wowwwww" throughout her labor. This is an example of calmness by using your breath & voice to keep your body relaxed, loose, limp & open. In HypnoBirthing, we teach moms to use their breath to keep their body relaxed & limp. I always encourage moms to use their voice if they need to but to be sure it's a low voice. This video shows exactly what I'm talking about. This mother shows no signs of fear & truly embraces labor. She moves her hips, squats, & chants. I'll be showing my kids this video (along with the HypnoBirthing videos) someday so they can see what birth can look like.




Thursday, January 15, 2009

A True Gift

This is a truly inspiring story of Sommer's birthing experience. Sommer was giving her baby up for adoption & wanted her baby's birth to be as natural & peaceful as possible. She was birthing at the Best Start Birth Center, San Diego's only free-standing birth center & had taken the class with her Aunt Margi. Sommer's boyfriend, Levi, was able to attend one class when he was visiting from out of town & Susan, who would be the adoptive mother of Sommer's baby, also attended a class. It was definitely a group effort & everyone was very excited to learn more about HypnoBirthing. Here is Sommer & her daughter, Siena Rose's birth story:

Hi, Carol!
So nice to hear from you :-) All is well for me, Siena Rose and the adoptive parents. It's actually like we're one big family. I've been pumping breast milk for her around the clock, so I've been able to see her once or twice a week when I drop it off. It's truly a beautiful situation. Of course it's difficult, but when I think of how I was able to change these people's lives and ensure that Siena has everything she deserves, I know it's worth the heartache. This situation has even caused me to consider becoming a surrogate for a couple struggling to conceive. Life truly is the greatest gift...
As for the labor... well it was a bit longer than I'd visualized. About 60 hours. It started off slow. At my 41 week check-up that day (Friday), the midwife told me that I was only 2 cm dilated , so Levi (Sommer's boyfriend) and I walked all over San Diego to get it going. By the time we got home, my back had had it. That night at 11:30, the surges became more intense and more frequent. I was able to breathe through them quite easily, then sleep in between them. When they were about 7 or 8 minutes apart, the whole fam went out for breakfast at Hash House a Go Go. Other patrons were weirded out when I'd close my eyes and breathe deeply every few minutes. They couldn't believe that I was in labor! After breakfast, the surges were about 4 minutes apart, so we went to the birth center. I was told that I was at 3 cm, so we went back home.
The surges then began to slow down, becoming 10 minutes apart. By midnight, they were back to about 5 minutes apart and becoming much more intense. I went back to the birth center at 10:00am, only to find that I was still at 3cm! Dang! So Levi, Margi (Sommer's Aunt) and I walked all over Hillcrest for about 3 or 4 hours. That apparently helped, because I finally made it to 4 1/2 cm. It was then that the midwife said, "Well, it looks like we're going to have a baby today!" When she said that, I responded with a silent knee-jerk "No".
Obviously, there was a significant part of me that didn't want to let her go. From there on out, I had a very difficult time letting go. My surges became closer together and more and more intense, but I wasn't dilating. The midwife had even said that my labor was progressing without my body. At 8pm on Sunday, we decided to break my water. At that point, I'd gotten maybe 4 hours of sleep since Friday night and I was exhausted. I could handle the surges, but my back sensations had become unbearable, even in between surges. The midwife kept telling me to just let go, but I continued to resist. I was in a battle with myself.
It got pretty intense then. The midwife asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital, but I declined. They eventually gave me saline injections in my back, which helped immensely. Finally, it was time to "push". I had discussed my HypnoBirthing plan with the first midwife, but we were on midwife #3 and she said that HB only works for second-time mothers. I wanted to debate, but I didn't have the energy. Neither did Margi. (She was pretty intimidated by the midwife, too.) So I ended up purple pushing for 2 hours. It wasn't painful, just exhausting. I was so tired, I was delirious. I was falling asleep between surges. When it came down to the last push, I reached down to receive her, and I was instantly revived.
I placed her on my chest and called for everyone to come into the room. I handed her to Levi, who was right behind me, and he held the 2 of us while she was still connected to me. He cut the cord, then I told Suzanne to take her shirt off so she could receive her baby. I thought that that would be the most difficult moment, but it actually felt right.
After I birthed the placenta, (which felt grrrrrrreat, by the way), the midwife gave us a guided tour of it and described all of its functions. She asked if I wanted to keep it, and at first, I said "no". I paused for a moment, then asked "why?". She explained that it makes an excellent fertilizer, especially for rose bushes. It was then that I decided to keep it to plant a tribute rose bush to my Siena Rose. Right now, it's still in my freezer...
Once everything had calmed down, I was able to breastfeed and nap in between. The adoptive parents, Suzanne and Dino, put Levi and I up in a hotel in Temecula for 3 days so that I could breastfeed, since it's so difficult to pump colostrum. It was really nice to be so close to her for those first few days, too. We even spent Christmas morning at their house, which was also lovely... And it's been lovely ever since.
Awe, man, I love her so much-- more and more every day. This little pumpkin head has undoubtedly changed my life forever, and I am a better person because of her. She has motivated me to realize my dreams and accomplish my life goals. She truly is an angel that was sent to rock my world, and change the lives of many. What a gift :-)
It was a great experience overall. I was able to discuss my concerns about the birthing process at my one week check up. I know that next time, I'll know what to expect. Feel free to post my story! You don't have to edit names, as our adoption is totally open. Besides, her name is too pretty to leave out :-) Thanks again for teaching such a wonderful class and for all of your support, as well.

Thank YOU Sommer for sharing your story! What a wonderful story Siena Rose will be able to read about someday in the future.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

What birth should look like

Orgasmic birth...sounds crazy, doesn't it? Well, the reality is, if you're relaxed during birth instead of tense & fearful, your body can really enjoy birth! Sometimes even have an orgasm!

20/20 recently highlighted the documentary, Orgasmic Birth, on their show about extreme mothering. Here is the link to the clip: http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=6569030
I think every pregnant woman...heck...every woman & teenaged girl...should watch this video! If more women saw that birth could be like this, they might experience birth in a more peaceful way, which in turn means a more peaceful journey for that little baby. This isn't just for hippie, granola, tree-hugger types...this is what every woman needs to see! Women need to regain trust in their body & the birthing process instead of handing it over to someone else. Women need to question why the c-section rate is so high in the U.S. when we're supposed to be the most "advanced"...birth has become highly medicalized here in the U.S. & it's become quite a money-making industry. When the reality is, birth is a natural process & if left alone, can happen quite naturally & normally without all the interventions that most people think are "necessary".

The woman that is interviewed at the end uses hypnosis (probably HypnoBirthing or another hypnosis for childbirth education class) to teach her how to get her body to remain calm & also to release any fears she has. I love that HypnoBirthing teaches women the physiological process of birth & why it doesn't necessarily have to be a horribly painful experience. It teaches techniques to use during birth not to mask the pain, but to relax the body so the body can birth the baby without the interference of tense muscles, which is what causes the pain. It also helps them learn how to release their conscious & unconscious fears about birth & becoming a parent. All of these things help prepare her (& her partner) to go into the birthing experience more prepared & in control. This leads to calmer moms & calmer babies. Go to www.HypnoBirthing.com for more information &/or to find a practitioner near you. If you're in the San Diego area, contact me to find out about my classes.

So, I encourage people to share this link with their girlfriends, spouses, family members, daughters, etc. so more people can be exposed to the fact that if a woman's body remains calm & relaxed instead of tense, birth can really be more than just manageable, it can be a beautiful, enjoyable experience!


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Time frames for birth

This is from a HypnoBirthing homebirth midwife, Jenny West, in New Mexico who really knows her stuff...regarding a discussion about time frames for birth:

In New Mexico our guidelines say the time frame for 2nd stage labor is 2 hours for multips--experienced birthers & 4 hours for primips--first-time birthers.

Now all this begs the question of how many vaginal exams/VE's are being done, because--technically--no one should know when a woman is exactly 10cm's! I wait until the mother feels grunty before beginning to think about charting second stage. Usually, the mother is 10 cm's when she has that little shot of adrenaline that makes her restless, wants to change position, wants to go home.... if she is not at 10, then she is at 8 or 9 and just support her and assure her she is fine (we talk about this as a hallmark of labor progression as well in HypnoBirthing class).
We need to be offering the idea of refusing to be checked all the time--the nurse or midwife can then chart that the 'patient' refused VE. By watching the body language of the mother, I usually know where 'we' are.
My clients usually fall into to two categories of WANTING to be checked: right when I walk in the door--because they want to know all this focused breathing is worth something......OR having that first downward sensation-it all feels so different from what has been happening up to then I'm constantly amazed at how low the baby's head is when Mom has the shift in surges, and so thrilled that she has breathed the baby under the bone without causing any 'fetal distress'--medical birth term, meaning that the baby's head is so squished that the oxygen supply is less and the baby's heart rate is less, or falters at this part of the labor progression. In fact, nurses count on seeing this on the monitor so they know when to 'magically' appear bedside and start the stress and pressure to push your baby out! I rarely see this anymore, even with mothers built like ten-year-old's and a baby that is over 8 pounds with a nuchal hand!
So, some of this begs the question about charting--so no one is too far outside their protocols....Since I'm being 'refused' a VE, I have to chart that and what body language I'm seeing. Once you look at what the mother's body and breath are doing, you don't have to check. Now, I get to do all this in a relaxed, safe, private, un-observed environment----the mother's home and in the water. It might be more difficult to observe these things in a hospital room, but not impossible. Set up the suggestions to clients that they are safe, private and un-observed no matter where they are. (this is why many women want to be in the shower or bathroom when birthing at a hospital--trying to 'cave', to get away to somewhere more private than the merry-go-round hospital bed!)
PS most of my clients have a 2-10 minute "pushing" stage because you wait until the body asks for more help than just breathing. Just had a grandma ask if her daughter was too relaxed and that was why she didn't have the urge to push... the misinformation is soooo ingrained. I told her that there was no such thing as too relaxed and it just wasn't time to bring the pushing idea into the room. Her daughter was having that 'I can't get comfortable, changing position with each surge' part of labor and I know the urge to grunt/bear down was right around the corner for this particular client!

Albuquerque, NM

Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Jenny!


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

An interesting & surprising birth

This birth story came from another HypnoBirthing practitioner...thanks Anita!

I simply MUST share this little story with you, as it is an example of how sometimes certain clients just don't fall into our categories.
In my series that concluded in October, I had a couple in their early 30s, expecting their first. She hired me as her doula because she was admittedly fearful of the unknown, but in her heart, she wanted to believe in birth. She just felt she would need that extra support. Since my doula services include HypnoBirthing, they took the class. They participated fully, did the relaxation exercises, and everything. Then came class #4, where we do the Birth Companion's Deepening Practice and I go around the room doing the wrist-drop on each mom. When I lifted this mom's arm, it felt like it was literally spring-loaded! I was shocked! I stayed with her for several minutes, saying, "Let me do all the work, soft and loose and limp..." several times. NEVER before have I felt such resistence to relaxing!
I finished the "round," and ended the class by emphasizing how important their daily practice is, and that the goal is to "go deeper, faster." I didn't want to call attention to my "discovery" during the exercise, and decided to address it privately with them when I did their prenatal home visit.
Well, when I got to the prenatal home visit, the husband told me how he discovered her "spring-loaded arm" in their practices together after the classes ended, and how he kept trying to get her to relax. She was starting to worry, based on his insistence that she wasn't relaxing, that she "couldn't do it right." I worked with her for several minutes in her home, trying several different little tricks (alternately tensing and relaxing, light touch, etc.), and still - never got to the point where her arms was "heavy-limp-relaxed."
But in our conversation, I heard no residual fear or tension around birth. She was really looking forward to it with great anticipation. The only "problem" now was her worry that she wasn't "doing it right." So, I didn't want to continue down that road. I turned it around, saying that I noticed how very cooperative she is in everything: she always did the reading, practiced her relaxation, listened to everyone, and even on the arm-drop, at a subconscious level, wanted to "cooperate" with whomever was leading the exercise. So I told her, "With that kind of cooperation, I'm sure your body will cooperate in the same way when you're in labor and breathing your baby out. When labor intensifies, remember that, and focus on cooperating with the force of your labor..." or words to that effect. I was going purely on instinct, and hoping it was right!
My first labor call came at 3:20 on Thursday afternoon. It was her husband, saying she'd been having a lot of surges through the day, and she just got home from having her hair done (I LOVE it when women have their priorities in order!), and now they were about 7-10 minutes apart. I told him this may or may not be "it," and for her to drink some water, have a snack and try to get some rest. I'd be on the "short leash" for them whenever they needed me. When they didn't call back, I sent a text message at about 6:30, not wanting to disturb them if they were resting. The next call came at about 10:20p.m. It was the husband, saying they went to the hospital to be checked (I immediately thought "aaah, damn - here we go..."), and...she's at EIGHT CENTIMETERS!
So I did a quick change, jumped in my car and headed to their hospital. When I got there, she told me she was afraid she was only going to be at maybe four, so she didn't want to bother me! And, if she was only at four, she was going to "scrap" the birth plan and get an epidural, because she couldn't imagine how much more intensity it would take to get to complete. But when she heard "eight," she decided she could wait for me:-). Baby was born at 1:24a.m. Friday. Beautiful birth, impressed the entire staff, and new family bonding and enjoying "baby-heaven."
Life is full of surprises...
Anita Butler, IBCLC,, HBCE, CD(DONA)
Support for the childbearing year


Thursday, January 1, 2009

Wishing you the best for 2009

Happy New Year!

Here's a wonderful affirmation that I posted on my bathroom mirror so I can read it every morning & every night...it's from The Secret's daily calendar.

An affirmation for the rest of your life:
"In the new picture of the coming years, I see my life growing & expanding in everything:
in health, youth, & unlimited energy at all times & in all circumstances.
I see myself in complete freedom.
I see unlimited growth in my personal capacity, mental power & intellectual brilliancy.
I see constant improvement in all the elements of my personality & my body.
I see daily growth in my wisdom, understanding, insight & realization.
I see myself in peace, harmony, love & joy & I see my character expanding to be stronger &
more beautiful.
I see the never-ending betterment of friends, associations & environments.
I see myself in everlasting joy & infinite bliss."

I really liked the Daily Calendar made by the people at The Secret. It kept me focused on the positive & was a nice was to start the day. I highly recommend it & will be getting the new one for this year (which isn't a calendar).

Wishing you the best 2009!