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I had all the same questions when I was considering whether or not to try a natural birth. Seeing others go through such an ordeal makes you wonder if you're crazy for even considering it. The more research I did, the more confident I became that I could do it. Not all births are filled with tension, screaming, and the worst pain of your life. I found many birth stories of people who had beautiful, peaceful, enjoyable births... naturally! (gasp!)
I think the biggest thing is if you are healthy and there are no problems requiring medical intervention, you can make it through the process by 1) being prepared with a positive attitude & going into it without fear, 2) learning how to completely relax so your body can do the work it was designed to do.
Okay... I admit I'm not speaking from actual childbirth experience yet... I'm looking at others' experiences and know that it is possible. I'm still a few weeks away, but I am completely confident that I will be able to do it. I read everything I could get my hands on regarding being healthy during the pregnancy/good preparation and learned as much as possible about the stages of labor and all the coping strategies, positions, techniques, etc. I later encountered some AMAZING birth stories and videos of childbirth using hypnosis. They were remarkably different from other natural birth stories I'd seen and read about, so I had to find out more. I decided on the Hypnobabies (www.hypnobabies.com) home study course. At around 28 weeks I started it, and I LOVE it. I have completed the course and am on the maintenance phase now. It has given me even more confidence and more positive thoughts about childbirth and I can now completely relax my body on cue.
You can find lots of encouragement by reading through birth stories of other mothers who have done it naturally. It will also give you a better picture of what to expect, although you'll see that childbirth is in no way predictable.
Amanda pointed out some very important factors. Another thing to remember is this: those women were not PREPARED by PRACTICE and EDUCATION for a natural childbirth. Much of it has to do with those three factors, being healthy, and perception. If you expect the worse pain in the world, you will have the worse pain in the world. If you expect joy, you will experience joy.
Another good option for you is Bradley Birthing. They teach many similar concepts to Hypnobirthing and Hypnobabies - and take things from a somewhat more medical standpoint (proper terminology, physiology of labor, emotional signposts of labor, medication and other intervention options and their pros and cons, etc....)
There are many other options as well. Check out the sticky here for more of those.
As far as pain goes - some women experience none, some experience quite a bit - but none of it is 'as horrendous' as those who don't PREPARE, EDUCATE, and PRACTICE - because the pain is not the focus in these labors - it's the baby. Another good thing about the discomfort of labor is that it is 'pain with a purpose'. It's not like stubbing your toe or breaking an arm. I thought that that pain was worse than labor pain - that pain has NO purpose except to tell you something is wrong. Birthing discomfort is telling you something is RIGHT and HAPPENING. Uncontrollable thrashing and screaming pain tells you that you need to recenter, stop panicking, and remember what you are there for.
Another good thing about labor discomforts is this: you get a break. The contractions generally last for 45-75 seconds (avg 60) and then they leave you alone for a few minutes. If you were told that you had to flex a muscle repeatedly over hours, with 2-5 minute breaks inbetween, in order to help an infant-someone be safe and protect them from potential harm, I am sure your muscles might cramp and you might get tired, but I am also sure that you would do it if it meant keeping that infant safe. That is the same thing that labor accomplishes.
Ok - enough of me rambling - I need to go get my shower and get dressed for the day. Check out the other threads here as the information is spread out based on questions. There are lots of nice ladies here with a wealth of knowledge. Welcome and hope to see you around!
Another good option for you is Bradley Birthing. They teach many similar concepts to Hypnobirthing and Hypnobabies - and take things from a somewhat more medical standpoint (proper terminology, physiology of labor, emotional signposts of labor, medication and other intervention options and their pros and cons, etc....)[/b]
I learned about the Bradley Method before finding hypnobabies, and I wanted to clarify that HYPNOBABIES teaches all of these things (and more) too. The founder of it was a Bradley instructor for 10 years. It is a very complete program, which is why I recommend it every chance I get. It has really helped me prepare for my birthing with not only confidence and relaxation techniques, but also all the info about pregnancy, nutrition, starges of labor, interventions, birth plans/preferences, etc. Hypnobirthing does not have a home study, so I am not sure about the whole program, however, I did purchase the hypnobirthing book + CD before finding hypnobabies and while it was interesting, it was lacking in the areas that you mention and I found it to be be a little New Age feeling, whereas Hypnobabies is not at all. It's very open ended and does not interfere my beliefs that God designed my body for childbirth and meant for it to be a beautiful experience.
I have taken the hypnobabies course as well as Bradley (it with a friend as I was her doula) and found it lacking in lots of areas that Bradley fulfills. But I found it also fulfilling in some areas that Bradley lacks.
Check here for my dissert on Hypnobirthing (not liking that one at all) I would encourage a woman to go with Hypnobabies before Hypnobirthing hands down.
So, after going through both Bradley and Hypnobabies I still believe that Bradley is much more well rounded (although it also depends on your instructor). And, after reading the materials for Hypnobirthing and reading the biography, I would recommend Hypnobabies over Hypnobirthing.
Mostly, though, it is personal preference: MOs if you will. Hypnobabies was the perfect choice for my friend based on her MO. Mine is Bradley.
Perhaps the most recent edition has more info. I already had good background knowledge before beginning hypnobabies and thought it did a good job covering it all again, but it could just be a difference of opinion.
I haven't taken a course, but DH and I have read everything we can, practice relaxation and such, and really, just expect it to be a wonderful experience. I feel like I've become more confident as the time nears because of support, too. I've made it clear that I DO NOT want people telling me horror stories or asking over and over why I'm not getting pain meds or telling me that I'm stupid for not agreeing to it ahead of time. Instead, I've listened to the ones who have told me that I can do it. Silly and small, but it helps me. I'm also just not afraid. I'm lucky to have a high pain tolerance, if it is very painful, but I'm even luckier to approach it knowing what I get at the end of it (a baby!!!) and that the discomfort and pain means that, for once, my body has agreed to do what it's supposed to do. Contractions are good, dilation is good, all of those things are GOOD for me and are helping my baby out. I also know that I get breaks in between contractions most of the time and labor really and truly CANNOT go on forever.
Wonderfullymade--you're exactly right. I've just thought of it as something that my body has to do for a long time to ensure the health and safety of the baby. Labor seems so much less daunting that way.
Seriously, at this point, I'm still more "afraid" of pooping on the table.
I actually love the study of Hypnobabies, it just isn't, like I said, my MO. And, if I know someone is looking into HBi, I don't try to sway them to Bradley, but definitely try to persuade them to Hypnobabies.
I actually love the study of Hypnobabies, it just isn't, like I said, my MO. And, if I know someone is looking into HBi, I don't try to sway them to Bradley, but definitely try to persuade them to Hypnobabies.[/b]
Hehe. I definitely prefer Hypnobabies to Hypnobirthing, but I think that DH and I tend more toward Bradley. Not all of it, mind you, but moreso toward that than anything. The ONLY childbirth class we even have available here is....Lamaze. I just don't really like much about it. I'm sure that it works very well for many, but it seems counterintuitive to me.
Here's hoping that just "listening" to my body counts for a lot.
I'm a total panic person...I freak out. So since I made it through with minimal freaking, I'd say anyone could!
Something that definitely helped me was to pray specifically. When I got exhausted and overwhelmed, I prayed for a break and got to sleep in between a few contractions (that had a longer resting period than the others). When I was completely at my wits end, prayed that God would make her come out now, and almost immediately it was time to push. So the "secret" for me was fully relying on God (and my awesome husband who God was using to center me).
"Unborn children should be welcomed in life and protected in law." George W. Bush