The tech at my chiropractor’s office asked me today if I was planning a natural childbirth (she’s also pregnant).
I admit my first thought was, “Natural? As opposed to what? Unnatural childbirth?”
She wanted to know how it worked for me with Duncan. I wasn’t quite sure what to say.
I’ve had a bunch of people ask me about self-hypnosis for childbirth and how well it works. I do recommend it to people, but I always do so with some hesistation. I feel like I need to explain my experience, without actually telling them how much pain I felt.
What I realized in the shower today was that our expectations of childbirth are plain unrealistic. Whether it’s the epidural that’s supposed to take all pain away — but doesn’t always work exactly like it’s supposed toÂ — or hypnobirthing.
Hypnobirthing definitely helped me. It gave me something to return my focus to, it helped me relax, and I’m positive that it helped Duncan make a steady transition into the world. I dilated quickly and smoothly, he dropped, I pushed (OK, for 2 hours) and out he came. His heartbeat never wavered (being induced, I was hooked up to the fetal monitor the whole time).
However, I felt a lot more than “pressure.” I felt pain. Intense pain.
And I felt a sense of failure. Because I wasn’t giving birth like those women in the hypnobabies videos who barely moan and sigh and look half-asleep and out comes a baby.
I felt like I wasn’t doing it right. Like it was my fault it hurt.
Would I have felt it was my fault if I’d had an epidural and it only numbed my right side? No. I’d have modern medicine to blame for that.
So who’s fault is it that I felt pain instead of pressure? Did I not practice enough? Believe enough? Focus enough? Did my birthing team not give me enough of the right signals/cues? Who knows. Maybe induced labor really is a whole lot harder and more intense. Maybe expelling a 9+ lb person out of a small hole is supposed to cause a little discomfort. Maybe I just suck a dealing with pain (this is true. Being in chronic pain causes me to have a low pain threshold and fibromyalgia has something to do with feeling pain more intensely than other people).
Anyway, the brilliant realization I came to today had something to do with my expectations – of myself and of any method of pain relief.
Maybe hypnobabies shouldn’t be promising a pain-free childbirth experience. Maybe they shouldn’t focus so much on that. So that if you do feel some pain instead of pressure you don’t feel like you’re failing.
I am going to use self-hypnosis again. If it helps me relax, keeps things progressing smoothly and gives me something to focus on it’ll be a success. There may be some discomfort involved. And I think I can be OK with that.