"Mindfulness is awake attention to what is happening inside and outside so that we can respond from a place of wisdom"
Hypnobirthing techniques I used in labor:
What if I we didn't have to be in pain in labor? What if by tuning into our body and nature, and by breathing, our muscles relaxed, and giving birth was an enjoyable peaceful experience?
What if instead of negative birth stories, we heard about how great it was?
And what if instead of ice chips, we were allowed nutrition packed snacks to keep our body's energy up?
Deep breathing, trust, and PB&J.
On December 5th, this is how Wilder was born.
Hypnobirthing (now made popular through Kate Middleton) is not a revolutionary birth strategy. It is a mindset that brings us back to our roots, our ancestors, ourselves, and nature.
"You will experience birthing in an atmosphere of calm relaxation, free of the fear that prevents the muscles of your body from functioning as nature intended them to. In this calm state, your body's natural relaxant, endorphins, replaces the stress hormones that constrict and cause pain." -Hypnobirthing international
HypnoBirthing taught me to breathe and visualize going into a deeply relaxed state. When our muscles are at ease and open, instead of tense and blocked, the pain melts away and our bodies can do what they were built to do.
3am (Utica, NY) : It's Dec. 5th, two days before my actual due date. Brian gets home from a 4 hour bus ride following his 7pm away game against the Bridgeport Islanders. The moment he drops his tired heavy body into bed, the rustle of his pillow flutters my eyes open to tightening cramps beginning in my belly. The human body, in it's innate amazing intelligence knew to wait until he got home, until I was fully relaxed, to start labor. When that happened, I witnessed the mind body connection operating at it's fullest potential. I didn't experience natural labor with Jameson, so I lay in bed for awhile wondering if the magic is starting or if the excitement is all in my head.
4am: I have a gut feeling it may be real labor, because I am starving. Another intuitive sign from my body that it needs to fuel up for what's coming. I tip toe out of bed in the dark (careful not to wake up Jameson or my mom-who also just got into town), stopping at the top of the stairs to breathe through a cramp, then slowly creeping down to our kitchen. Turning on a dim stove light, I smear together some natural PB, banana, and sprouted whole grain bread. From my experience as an athlete I knew this to be some of the best energy for the body before a big game. I inhale the sandwich like I haven't eaten in days and let my body absorb it's nutrients.
4:15am: I stay downstairs hoping to give Brian at least a few hours of sleep before what could potentially be a long day at the hospital. I curl up horizontal on the couch, embracing the hum of our warm gas fireplace, feeling the hug of a heavy soft blanket wrapped around me. There's a raw cold winter storm warning outside, and the entire living room is dark besides the light that dances from the flame of the fire. I reach for my phone to put on some soft music at low volume. I breath into the 1 minute long contractions, inhaling and exhaling as fully and as deep as I can filling my lungs all the way to the top, and exhaling while visualizing my muscles releasing. Unclenching my shoulders, my teeth, my toes, and anything else that is trying to stiffen with the contraction. Softening the muscles of my body with the most powerful tool I have- my breath.
5am: Laying in the dark, knowing I am delivering at a hospital 50 min away, I begin to time my contractions with the stopwatch on my phone. They are about 10 minutes apart and I call the on-call doctor. She says it could be false labor and to labor at home as long as I can because I don't want to to have to drive all that way for nothing. She says if they grow more intense and become 5 minutes apart is time to come in to the hospital. I focus on the positivity I hear in her voice and don't let myself worry about the distance to the hospital, telling myself whatever happens will be meant to be. I remind myself I am the only one living in my body, that can determine what is truly happening, so I continue to trust my instincts.
8am: My mom, Brian, and Jameson wake up to find me on the couch. Jameson sees me squeeze my eyes shut as I embrace a contraction and he asks me what's wrong. He crawls into the fuzzy blanket with me and snuggles me tight as I assure him and explain what's happening. Instead of hiding myself and my discomfort from our toddler, I decide his sensitivity and warm hug are what I need in that moment and I embrace all of it. My mom is convinced it's time and with the hospital 50 minutes away advises me to take a warm shower and start gathering our hospital bags. Because of my deep breathing, the contractions aren't growing more intense, so I am still skeptical, but I begin to get ready.
9am: I am letting the hot streams of water off the shower hit the skin of my belly as I shut my eyes and give into the experience of labor, blocking out any negative or stressful thoughts that are trying to creep in. I repeat positive mantras to myself like: "it is all going to work out perfectly". I become truly deeply relaxed, when I realize the timer still going on my phone is telling me the contractions are closer together- about 5 min apart now.
9:45am: We jump in the car and start heading for the Syracuse hospital. I call the now new on-call doctor to let her know. She tries to tell me my contractions are too close and to head to the emergency room at the closest hospital. I block out her stressed out tone and my gut feeling demands her to have my own midwife call me. 5 minutes later my midwife assures me I am fine to make the drive to Syracuse and that she will be there waiting for me when i get there.
10am: During the drive, in the less than comfortable front seat of the car, the contractions slow down- a normal stress response from nature, my mind is telling my body I do not want to deliver on the side of the highway. I appreciate this and see it as a good sign. To keep me laughing and distracted Brian recites lines from the office. Every time I squeeze his hand, he speeds up a little.
11am (Syracuse, NY): We pull in and leave the car at the front door of the hospital with no issue. The man at the welcome desks smiles good luck at us and points us to the elevator. Everyone we come in contact with seems so warm, like they are all little guardian angels here just for us, guiding us in the right direction. Immediately upon getting to the delivery floor, my contractions pick up- 5 minutes apart again. My body somehow knows we've arrived. Brian is a little surprised when he sees all the beds lined up next to each other in triage. I laugh and tell him don't worry this isn't where I am delivering. I wait for my midwife to meet me in triage (I confidently et the nurses know that I only want her examining me). She checks me and I am 7 cm dilated and 90% effaced. No one can believe how calm I am- just standing (laying wasn't comfortable), hanging on Brian, and deep breathing as if I am in no pain, quietly in my own world. With my eyes still shut I tell them "it's all breath" and I think they nod their heads in agreement. We slowly make our way down the hall to our private delivery room with the nurse, walking and pausing when I need to.
12pm: After a covid test, bloodwork is taken, and my IV fluids are given to me I am asked not to be hooked up to the baby heart monitor so that I can stand and move around. I don't want to be hooked up to anything. They are happy to do it and just check the baby's heart every 10 min or so. The contractions become closer and more intense and I just keep breathing while standing over the bed, rocking my body, and visualizing the head-down baby getting lower and lower, letting go of all fear and telling myself my body is designed for this.
12:15pm: I ask Brian for the PB&J we packed- some more natural PB on sprouted whole grain bread- protein and carbs that are easy to digest. My body is hungry and craving nutrition for all the work it is doing. I am grateful for the bites and sips of water between contractions.
1pm: I know it's time, because I am still quietly standing and rocking, visualizing the baby moving lower, and it feels like I need to push. We press the call button- and it all happens so quickly as the nurses and my midwife come in and get the room and bed ready. 3 intense pushes during each wave of contraction, and he was out- our peaceful beautiful miracle. Brought into the world by patterns of nature, the way he wanted to be brought in- all I had to do was listen.
“These waves cannot be stronger than me because they are me”