I’m not exactly sure how to describe my first hypnobirthing class, or how odd the whole thing struck me once we got there. I was so sure that I was going to be really into this – because, after all (and I don’t know if I’ve ever talked about this on the blog before), hypnosis is what cured me of panic attacks when I was in my mid-20’s. So I know from first-hand experience that it can work, at least as a method of relaxation. But hypnobirthing is very different than anything I had ever experienced before.
For one, Dave had a project that was due this morning, so he was a bit cranky about losing two hours’ worth of work time, which I understand. I felt bad about dragging him away from work when he really needed to be concentrating on finishing his presentation. And when he’s jittery and anxious, it tends to rub off on me, so I don’t think either one of us was exactly in the mode to take deep, cleansing breaths and try to relax. (In fact, 20 minutes into it, I remembered what my mom used to do for us in church when we were little, and I gave him a pen and a piece of paper so he could doodle. Worked like a charm.)
Other than my mindset, though, there were just some things about the class that I didn’t understand:
* Women who talk about wanting to have natural childbirth because they want “a positive birth experience.” This makes no sense to me. I know that life is supposed to be all about the journey and not the destination, but in the case of childbirth, isn’t it the end result that counts? When it’s all said and done, if you have a healthy baby in your arms, wasn’t that a “positive” experience? Does it really matter how the baby got here, whether it was with or without pain medication, or maybe even (gasp, god forbid) via C-section?
* The renaming of all terminology that has to do with childbirth. For example, instead of labor, you say “birthing”; contractions are now called “surges,” etc. I guess the idea is to trick your brain into thinking about childbirth with new names that don’t necessarily have painful associations, but I don’t know if I buy it. However, one exception that I fully embrace: they have renamed the mucous plug, which I have always thought was the most disgusting term ever. So from now on, I shall call it a “uterine seal” just like the other hypnobirthers. Doesn’t that sound nicer?
* I got the distinct impression that there is an underlying mistrust of doctors, nurses, and the medical profession in general. I understand their argument: that women have been having babies since the beginning of time, so why does it have to be treated like a medical condition when it’s just something natural that women’s bodies know how to do? And I totally get that. But isn’t there also a reason why (in this country at least) you almost never hear phrases like “died in childbirth” anymore? Aren’t medical advances the reason why both maternal and infant mortality rates have dropped so much in the last hundred years or so?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not criticizing women who choose to have a home birth. I think that if you live within a reasonable commute of a hospital (in case of emergencies) and you have some sort of a backup “Plan B,” more power to you. I just don’t understand why, in order to have the “natural birth experience” that some women want, there has to be a feeling of suspicion raised toward those in the medical community. I know that doesn’t apply to everyone who wants a natural or home birth, it was just a vibe I got from a few people (including the instructor), and for some reason it really bothered me.
Oh, and if there were other women in the room who were planning to combine hypnobirthing with pain medication, no one admitted to it. Not that I did either, everyone in the room seemed very against the idea of using drugs of any kind. The whole thing felt very judgmental, and about halfway through it, I was feeling like I wanted to cry because clearly, these women were all stronger souls than I. And I’m pretty sure that developing an inferiority complex was not the point of the class.
So. I guess that about sums it up. I’m calling it one very expensive class (as opposed to five not-so-expensive classes), and we won’t be going back. I got the book and a couple of relaxation CD’s, and I’ll go through those to see what I can take from them, and what I should leave behind. I do think there’s some value to the concept of hypnobirthing, but as a whole, I don’t think it’s very “me.”