Thursday, November 27, 2014

Hypnobirthing

Again, newborn photos were taken by Lesley Colvin of Kensington Blue

Today I am grateful for my kiddos.  I am at Oxford presently as our home in London is being torn apart to fix rising damp issues (ugh!  dust, no heat, no kitchen, no living room, no front entrance=effective eviction - but what a lovely way to spend it!).  As I have wandered the familiar halls of my college, Lady Margaret Hall, I have marvelled at these two perfect little beings that have suddenly graced the earth in the short time since I graduated (has it really been nearly five years?!).

I have also been grateful today for the manner in which they arrived on earth.  I promised a post on Hypnobirthing and so, while the children are taking their morning naps (yes, my 19 month old still takes two naps a day!), I thought I'd fulfil that promise on this day when gratitude for their births and lives is near and present.

It took me nearly two years to wade through the pedestrian pseudo-medicine speak filling the hypnobirthing books and trying to get into a trance-like, relaxed state through two natural labors, but I think I finally understand what hypnobirthing is.

Hypnobirthing is a philosophy of natural childbirth. It doesn't mean that, while in labor, a hypnotist or your husband sits by and tries to get you into a trance.  You are to practice relaxing and being hypnotised  - reading or listening scripts to hypnotise you before you go into labor  - over and again for months before labor starts so that when it does, you know how to relax very, very deeply.

Relaxing during labor makes it less painful.  In fact, the more you relax, the less painful it is.  (Actually, the theory is that relaxing prevents pain.)  For some lucky few, they can relax so completely that they feel no pain in labor.

I am not great at relaxing, but with the practice I did do, I noticed a distinct difference between when I relaxed and when I didn't.  And for one or two surges or contractions this last time around, I was able to relax so deeply that they were not painful, just powerful.

The theory is that, just like everywhere else on the body, you've got two muscle groups working in the uterus - the muscles that pull up, or contract and keep the baby in, and the muscles that relax, letting the baby out.  The contracting muscles are run by the parasympathetic nervous system, the relaxing muscles by the sympathetic.  The first is triggered by fear, causing one to take fright, flight, or freeze, the second is associating with relaxing, resting, and digesting.  The only reason the muscle group should cause pain is if they both work at the same time, against each other - what would be called a cramp in other muscle groups. The contracting muscle is stimulated when we fear and tense up, and causes labor to be painful and slow.

Sounds simple, right?  Makes sense to me.  Now if I could just figure out how to relax so much that labor doesn't hurt at all...




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