What is it all about?
About birth and labor obviously. A natural, easy, painfree birth, so claims the cover. With audio CD: Do I have to listen to it…? Well okay I take the easy, painfree birth to go, please. So let’s start reading.
So the book is good?
Yes and no but mostly yes. Some passages are difficult especially if you don’t like somehow esoteric ways of dealing with information, but if you practice tolerance, there is a a lot of good in this book. As my midwife said, as I showed her the book and asked for her opinion: “It is good. But you have to be a certain person for it and be open.”
I agree. Not all techniques in the book fit to everybody. So really: feel free to skip some passages instead of quitting to read completely. The book contains very helpful practical advice to practice every day to help you have an easier birth with less pain and to understand better what your body is doing.
Introduction: History of (medical) birth
Great start if you ask me, but also shocking. Only some decades ago the usual practice for birthing mothers was a real horror, especially in the USA (the book refers mostly to the USA but most things are similar in other western nations). Giving birth was for most women something highly traumatic, painful and had nothing to do with a free will and what the individual woman needed but with what made work easiest for the medical staff around her. I can’t believe that my grandparents and parents might have experienced such a horror personally! Some of my dearest readers here might also have been born that way. So this history is pretty close and no wonder that also my generation is confronted with horror stories about excrutiating pain, screaming for hours and… well horror stories. Let’s leave it like this. These stories had a very high impact on my personal opinion about having children really just until I read the book. Not feeling ready for sacrificing such an enourmous act of pain to have a baby was part of my decisionmaking which led to not having a baby earlier. This is crazy, isn’t it? But I guess it counts for many women my age.
On the opposite there are studies which prove that a natural, healthy birth is way easier, with way less pain and stress, faster and all the way just better for both mother and baby. Less c-sections, less complications, less painkillers.
Middle part: How does birth work and what is the role of HypnoBirthing in this context
Primarily it is all about breathing the baby outin stead of pressing it out. Therefore it is of highest importance to relax and let go. To achieve this breathing, visualization and relaxed silence are crucial. The book gives practical advice for various techniques to prepare for labor with meditations, exercises, visualizations and so on. Not every technique is for everybody, as I mentioned above. Nevertheless! They are really good and I decided for myself that I can practice them too, but giving them other names which sound less strange for me like “colour meditation” instead of “rainbow meditation” which was a bit too over the top for me. Read the passages you don’t like quickly but on the look out for information. Like you read a manual. This is not so enterntaining but really useful.
Final part: practical advice around birth and labor: who, what, when, how, where and why.
Really helpful advice for everybody like information about birthing positions, exercise, nutrition, choosing the right hospital, birthing wishlist and so on. Each phase of birth is described to help you understand what your body and the baby are doing and how you can be as supportive and as positive for this natural process. Like this the book really ended happily for me.
What I learned from the book
In fact I let go of my old convictions that birth has to be inevitably painful. This makes me look forward for the day of birth now. I am relly excited to meet our daughter. I still have big respect for the work my body is going to do, but really, believe me I feel no fear. Not at all. Why? because all the information I got is logical. I don’t feel hypnotized. 😉 It just makes sense.
Main reason I am no longer afraid:
…normal, healthy physiologcial processes are not painful or dangerous…
Dr. Jonathan Dye, 1891
Translated by me and only the most important passage of this thought provoking quote from the book. Think about it, really. If something is healthy and normal, it does not hurt. And birth can be taken as a natural healthy process. If the mother or the baby is not healthy of course this might be different. What makes it painful here is fear, tension and the combination of it.
Yes the head of the baby is huge compared to the small opening it has to pass through but this counts also for the anus which is only a point, when it is closed and it easily lets pass way larger things. Stay with me and this comparison: if you are constipated, you know how painful this most natural process of going to the toilet can be. And then too you tend to press, because it has to come out. This can hurt, this can be exhausting and it can also cause damage especially under high pressure.
For constipation we are in best practice for years and we can help with more than only letting go of stress and relaxing but with drinking enough and eating well with a lot of fibre. A birth is a unique event, literally when it is the first child. So preapring for labor is something we can not practice for real but only mentally and with some exercises which accompany labor to make it easier.
Think of tight muscles in general. Have you ever lifted weights with a tense neck? Painful. Then lifted heavily? Very painful. You need to control your breath for heavy weights even when you feel fine, and maybe you swear and huff and puff. Imagine this with tight muscles. Image this in the super sensitive area between your legs. This is why breathing is important and screaming can be natural and all fine even without pain. This is why it is all about smooth tissues and muscles. Normally you adjust your weights from light to heavy. For birth you start with already very heavy. But believe that your body is made for this. This is what I do now.
So if a mother feels the need to press this can be normal, but it is also something which makes the pain worse and can cause damage. Focus on letting go not on pushing, this is what HypnoBirthing is teaching.
As I am into meditation, yoga, affirmations, visualization and so on for at least a year, for some techniques already for almost a decade HypnoBirthing techniques feel familiar to me. I know that these practices worked already for me in other fields but birth and so I feel well prepared. If you are a complete newbie to these techniques I guess the CD or even a class would do a good job for you to start. I decided against such a class and against the CD as I know from other practices, that I really have to be on my own for learning those skills.
So I already told you: this book gets a recommendation from me. And after giving birth to Merle I will come back here and tell you if it really worked, because this is maybe the most interesting question. But as I was lucky to talk to a friend who read the book too and prepared for labor with it and her daughter is already 1 year old I can tell you her answer: “Of course it was tough and it was work. But it was way better than expected and than almost everybody around me suggested. I ended up saying right after giving birth to my daughter: Well, if this is labor, than I can give birth to another baby right away.”
And this is a statement, isnt it?
If your are interested in the book, here you find the link to amazon:
Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method by Marie Mongan (2016-06-01)