Saturday, January 17, 2009

HypnoDoula training

I have been very interested in hypnosis techniques for birth ever since I got an excited phone call from a doula I worked with in AmeriCorps. It was a year or two after we had finished our AmeriCorps term, during which we had never seen anyone use hypnosis techniques (most people we worked with hadn't even had a childbirth class and if they did, it was usually the class we taught ourselves which was very simple breathing and position suggestions). But now my doula teammate had attended her own sister's birth where hypnosis techniques were used and she was raving about it, saying how amazing it was. I was curious what a hypnobirth looked like and did a little youtubing but didn't find many videos that really showed how it could be and what techniques were used. Since then I'd heard a little about it, but never been sure what to think.

A couple months ago I heard that my current volunteer doula program would be holding a hypnodoula training - I think I was the first person to mail in my check! I showed up for my training this morning not knowing exactly what to expect and was very pleasantly surprised and very impressed. Our instructor described how she had come across hypnobirthing before her first birth because she was so frightened of birth. She started to research epidurals to reassure herself that she would get good pain relief, but ended up feeling very uncomfortable with the side effects and risks of epidurals. When she came across hypnobirthing, it appealed to her as a way to relieve pain without the risks of medication. She's now had three very relaxed, comfortable births using hypnosis techniques and is a HypnoBabies instructor. We got to see the video of her third birth, as well as many videos from different couples using HypnoBabies techniques for labor and birth, and I was very impressed.

A few things that I wondered about that were answered in the training:

- Who does the hypnotizing? Interestingly, it's self-hypnosis - the mother is in control of the process and can have outside people use words or touch to help cue her into relaxation, but can also cue herself in and can exit whenever she likes.

- Does it work for everyone? Of course not, but I was impressed by the high percentage it did seem to work for, to varying degrees. What I liked about it was that if nothing else, the HypnoBabies course does a lot of work to inform women about their options during childbirth and remove a lot of subconscious fear that's drilled in by society. I think that even if none of the self-hypnosis techniques worked for a woman, just those two things would be very valuable.

- What's the point of calling everything by a different name? Can calling a contraction a "pressure wave" really change how it feels? I think this is what I was most skeptical about it, but with more explanation I think I understood better the logic behind it. It's not as if changing the name magically changes the feeling - "Oh, that's not a contraction! It's a pressure wave! See, now it doesn't hurt!" Instead, when you use different terms over and over in preparation for birth, people have the possibility of adopting a different attitude towards the feelings they experience. If you tell someone all their lives that during their birth they will experience "pain" - probably thousands of times - it's a virtual guarantee that they will experience pain. Our subconscious does have some power. If you adjust what someone will expect to feel, they have the possibility of experiencing that sensation differently.

I'm going to send the instructor some of my cards and see if I could work with some of her students in the future, because I'd like to see how it really works in practice. But overall, it was a very exciting and energizing day!

1 comment:

Sally said...

Answers to quiz please!