childbirth, Dan

An Ode to the Other Half, Part Two: Birth Partner

In this series, I’m giving my partner, Dan, his due as a fantastic partner at all stages of our journey to parenthood. Today, I’m going to talk a little about how he prepared for and participated in the birth of our child. I can honestly say that Elliot’s birth would not have been the largely positive experience that it was without Dan’s help.

I’ve already told the story of Elliot’s birth and how I used my Hypnobabies techniques to keep calm and mostly comfortable during labor, especially before getting an epidural. I’ve also talked about how my first epidural started failing on one side because it was improperly placed and I had to have it redone while experiencing the height of pitocin contractions. But that’s the middle. Let’s start at the beginning.

First of all, though he was dubious about its effectiveness, Dan was always willing to participate in the Hypnobabies training. He took to the scripts and the cues right away, and I felt confident that he would be able to help, which made the anticipation of labor less scary. We checked into the hospital at 4pm the day of my induction and he stayed with me for the entirety of my hospital stay, which was almost 36 hours of labor, a c-section, and four additional days, sleeping on couches and staying up all night to soothe the baby so I could rest and recuperate as much as possible.

When we first got into the perinatal room, he helped figure out the TV options while I chatted with the nurse, and later on, he made sure that I could comfortably eat while mostly stuck in bed because of the monitors. Other than the time he spent sleeping the first night (I was pretty oblivious to my increasing contractions while on Cytotec, so I let him sleep as much as he could), he was engaged in the process and made sure to touch base with the nurses to know what was going on. He also was in charge of bringing my cold snacks to the nurses’ station to get them refrigerated, and then fetching gelatin and broth for me later on. I ate a lot of gelatin after we moved to labor and delivery.

But Dan truly started to shine when my contractions became more intense on pitocin. I had a private conversation with him that I was thinking I should get an epidural before I mentioned it to anyone else, and he supported me, while also encouraging me to wait until I talked to the doctor and the doula again, so that I didn’t regret getting it too early. When I did finally decide it was time for the epidural, he was right there with me, helping me relax through the contractions while I had to sit up for the anesthesiologist.

And when that epidural failed and I didn’t think I could keep going on, he was right there with me. I’m so glad our doula was able to snap the picture above of him comforting me through what would turn out to be the worst part of my labor experience. When I had to sit up for the second epidural placement, he was right there with me, helping me with relaxation cues to help me through the contractions while staying still for the epidural. I honestly don’t know if I would have been able to do it without him.

Eventually, we decided that it was time to move to the c-section, and I was so glad they allowed him in with me. I had to go in first, to get prepped, and then they showed him in. I was having really bad shakes from the spinal and it was making me anxious, which made me shake even worse. As soon as Dan came in and sat next to me, he started using Hypnobabies cues and some tricks the doula showed him to help me relax. Even though he claims it didn’t look like it made a difference, I felt much more relaxed and felt like I was shaking less.

Once Elliot came out (greeting the world with a fountain of urine!), Dan was the one to cut the cord and held him the rest of the time the doctors were finishing up. And once I was back in recovery, doing skin-to-skin time, Dan and my nurse made sure to watch us so that I didn’t have to worry about feeling drowsy from the effects of the anesthetic (and over 36 hours of labor and surgery with very little sleep!).

Throughout our hospital stay and the weeks after, he was the one who made my recovery possible. When I had trouble picking up Elliot because of my incision, he reminded me that most people who have abdominal surgery are told not to lift anything, rather than “nothing heavier than the baby,” so that as long as I had him to help, he would do the lifting. Every night when Elliot woke up to nurse, Dan was right there to pick him up out of the bassinet and hand him to me. Sometimes, Dan is better at soothing him to sleep than I am!

His quiet resilience and willingness to help with everything that was possible for him to do made it possible for me to rest and recover from my surgery, while his emotional support has helped me through some of the mentally toughest moments I’ve had. I feel lucky to have such good support and know Elliot feels lucky to have such a good dad.

[photo by Jenny Corbett]

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childbirth, Hypnobabies

Elliot’s Birth Story

So it’s been over two weeks since Elliot was born (and actually three weeks since this birth story begins!), but I think it’s time for me to share my story. As I’ve written about in the past, I prepared for my birthing time by doing the Hypnobabies home study course, so I wanted to make a note here that I don’t use Hypnobabies language throughout this story. If you’re currently taking a Hypnobabies class and are looking for stories, I’d highly recommend having a strong Bubble of Peace before diving into this one. It’s definitely a “change of plans” story. If you don’t know what any of that means, don’t worry about it.

Anyway, I supposed my birth story starts at 9:15 a.m. on Wednesday, December 26th, when I had an appointment with an OB at my practice for a cervical check. Because I was still only at about 1 cm dilated, I was all set to keep my appointment at the hospital that evening to start “ripening,” where they would give me Cytotec to help my cervix ripen and hopefully start the labor process.

We went home, double-checked that we’d taken care of everything we needed to for the next few days, and I made myself a nice, big lunch. Then, we packed our hospital bags into the car and headed to the hospital around 3pm. We got there around 3:40 and were in a room shortly after 4. I changed into a gown and got settled into the room. We were in the High-Risk Perinatal Center for the evening, not a Labor & Delivery room, so the room was different than the ones we’d seen on our tour.

Then, we met our first nurse, who got me set up with a saline IV lock and the monitors for the baby’s heart rate and my contractions. Around 6 p.m. I got my first dose of Cytotec. Now, I know there’s some controversy around Cytotec, and I don’t want to get into that. Suffice to say, I had a good experience and trust that my doctors chose it for good reasons. I was initially a bit concerned because I had used Cytotec for my missed miscarriage the year before and it had had some unpleasant side effects, but the dose used for ripening was much, much smaller. Rather than 4 pills all at once, I got 1/4 of a pill every 2 hours, so that even after 8 doses and 14 hours, I’d still taken half what I’d taken all at once for the miscarriage. And I had no adverse side effects.

Unfortunately, because I had doses every 2 hours, it was difficult to get much sleep. But I was allowed to eat dinner (and breakfast and lunch the next day!), so I ordered some food, checked out the movies they had, and settled in for the night. After my second dose, the nurse pointed out that I was having some “good contractions” according to the monitors. At this point, I didn’t really feel anything. I did a Hypnobabies Fear-Clearing track and tried to relax, as I was still having a bit of anxiety about pitocin and labor the next day.

A little after midnight, and my fourth dose, I had a bit of excitement when the baby’s heart rate dipped during one of those contractions. I had been turned away from the computer screen (laying on my left side, which will become relevant later on), so I didn’t realize I was having a contraction and was completely shocked when three nurses came in to stabilize me. My main night nurse decided she wanted to put me on IV fluids at that point, so she hooked up to my saline lock. After that, I put an episode of Great British Bakeoff on my iPad and then dozed off until my next dose of Cytotec.

From about 2-6 a.m., I attempted to sleep in between doses, which was made more difficult by the fact that the baby was really good at running away from the monitors, or just kicking them off my belly, so I was constantly interrupted by the nurse coming to put them back into place and get the signal back. It was particularly frustrating because I could feel the kid moving the entire time, so I knew things were fine. Around 7 a.m., I ordered breakfast and had Dan (who had been sleeping for most of the night on the couch in the room with me) make me a cup of tea. Around 9 I got my last dose of Cytotec, and at 11 a.m., the doctor checked me and declared that I was at 2-3 cm dilated and ready to move to L&D for pitocin.

At this point, I was sort of feeling the contractions, though they definitely felt more like “pressure waves,” as the Hypnobabies language suggested. The doctor said that I could get off the monitors until I was moved, so we took the opportunity to walk up and down the hallway a little. I also ordered some lunch, which came 15 minutes before we moved to the L&D room. Not knowing how soon they would want to start pitocin, I opted to scarf my cheeseburger and mashed potatoes before moving down the hall to the L&D room.

The L&D room was huge compared to the perinatal room. I joked that it looked like a yoga studio. I was a little disappointed that being induced with pitocin meant that I had to be tied to monitors and I could take advantage of all that room. The nurse tried to get me a wireless monitor, but the one available was already in use. While we were waiting in the room, I did my “Your Birthing Time Begins” track. At 1:30 p.m., they started pitocin, starting at 2 units and increasing it every so often. I did another fear-clearing session after starting pitocin. I felt the pressure waves becoming more intense, increasing particularly after they increased the pitocin (although I didn’t alway notice when they increased me). I listened to my Birthing Day Affirmations and let the doula know that she should probably come to the hospital.

Around 3, I felt a little trickle and assumed I peed a little, but at 4-ish, I went to the toilet and felt a gush, which had some blood in it. When I mentioned the previous trickle, the doctor checked the pad on my bed and said it looked like my water had broken. The doula arrived, the doctor came in to check on me, and my water broke at the same time, so it felt a bit hectic for a minute. My pitocin was around 10 at that point, so I had already talked to Dan about probably being ready for an epidural soon.

When Jenny, our doula, got there, we discussed the epidural and when the doctor checked me and said I’d progressed to 4 cm, I decided it would be good to get the epidural now so I could get some rest, rather than waiting until I was exhausted. Of course, the whole time, Dan was helping me with my Hypnobabies cues, and when Jenny got there, she helped, too. I’m pretty sure Dan picked up on some of the specific ways she helped me stay relaxed through contractions, which were actually starting to feel pretty painful at this point.

A little less than an hour later, the anesthesiologist came in and did the epidural and I had to lie flat for 20-30 minutes to let it start working. I think I actually got a little sleep at this point. Then, I moved to my side with my leg up on a peanut ball to try to encourage the baby to descend (I was dilating and softening, but he was still at -2 station). After a bit, I noticed I was starting to feel pain from each contraction localized in my left hip. We thought maybe it was the epidural pooling because I was on my right side, so I switched sides. Well, at this point, we started realizing that laying on my left side was something the baby didn’t like because he had a few heart rate decelerations. I also noticed that the pain in my hip was getting worse, not better, and starting to spread across my body.

I mentioned that I thought my epidural might not be working, and the nurses tried pushing the button to give me a little surge of medicine. That didn’t help. At this point, my contractions are coming back in full force. They’d also been increasing the pitocin, so by the time it became clear my epidural was failing after only a couple hours, I was at the maximum dose. They called in an anesthesiologist, who tried some of the same things as the nurses in terms of giving me a boost of medicine, including injecting a dose directly into the epidural line. This sent an icy wave down the right side of my body, but I felt no relief on the left. I was probably pretty close to the pitocin equivalent of transition because I was shaking and crying. This couple of hours was the worst of the entire experience, and I was honestly very close to begging them to just take the baby out however they could, but Dan kept me calm and helped me through the experience. Eventually, the anesthesiologist came in with an ice cube and tested my feeling. When I jumped at the coldness when he put the ice cube on my right hip, he said it was time to redo the epidural, at about 9:30 p.m.

I didn’t think I was going to be able to sit up and hold the position necessary for the epidural a second time, while going through these worse contractions, but the combination of Dan being awesome and the anesthesiologist being extremely quick made it happen. And it was ah-maaaaa-zing. It did take a few minutes to really take effect, but I swear I instantly felt the edge taken off. And then I was able to rest.

Unfortunately, between 2 and 3 a.m., the doctor checked me again, and apparently I had been stalled at 7-8 cm with the baby still at -2 station for several hours. Also, the baby kept having increasing distress when I lay on my left side to try to encourage the baby to drop. Apparently, this was particularly scary for Dan because he just saw the monitors and, like the nurses, worried something was seriously wrong. I didn’t realize how worried everyone was because 1.) drugs and 2.) I could feel the baby moving the whole time so I just assumed he was fine.

At about 3 in the morning on Friday, the doctor sat down to discuss “options,” given that the baby wasn’t descending. I asked her “Just to be clear, is this a c-section conversation?” and she said yes. We discussed it with Dan and Jenny and Jenny suggested that, while there were exercises that she thought could help the baby engage better (he was slightly off-kilter and his skull was crammed up against a bone in my pelvis), they all involved lying on my side, which seemed to be a no-go for the baby. So I decided that it would be best to proceed with the c-section now, rather than waiting until it was actually an emergency.

I had to wait for an operating room for a little over an hour, but by 4:20 a.m., I was in the operating room. Dan joined me soon after and helped me stay calm. I didn’t realize how much the anesthesia would make my arms shake, and having Dan there helped me feel calmer, even though he says he didn’t notice me shaking any less. The c-section experience was a little surreal. I definitely felt pressure and pulling, but nothing even remotely resembling pain. It probably helped that I have a lot of trust in my OB practice, so I was confident this was the right decision and that they would take care of me, so I didn’t have any regrets or disappointment about having a c-section.

At 4:43 a.m., on Friday, December 28th, Elliot was born, via c-section. He came out crying and peeing on everything. And when they lowered the opaque part of the drape to show him to me, I cried like I had when I first saw him on the ultrasound screen. My little boy was here and was doing great. He definitely got delayed cord clamping because there was a minute of laughing while he peed on the OB, the pediatrician, and a couple nurses. And then they called Dan over to cut the cord and hold him. I was exhausted and actually dozed off for a minute before jerking awake at some point.

A little after 5 a.m., I was wheeled back to the L&D room to recover and do skin-to-skin with Elliot. We got about 20 minutes of skin-to-skin and nursing before I allowed the nurse to take him for a few tests, and then he was brought back for at least an hour. I was so exhausted, but the nurse offered to sit with me and watch us so that I could keep him on my chest without worrying that he would roll off if I fell asleep. After a couple hours in recovery, we were taken up to the maternity room, where our postpartum journey began for real.

Well, this has already become quite long, so I’m going to stop there. I’ll talk about my c-section recovery, and how Dan was so key in helping me through the birth in later posts. But for now, that’s the story of my exciting, 30+-hour induction and c-section and the arrival of baby Elliot.

Exercise, pregnancy, Third Trimester

Exercise and Pregnancy: The Final Months

I’ve spoken earlier in my pregnancy about my exercise routine and how I’m incorporating that into my pregnancy. I managed to continue going to barre class about twice a week until the end of October, when I was about 34 weeks pregnant. Since then, I’ve continued to walk most days, and have tried to make time to do some yoga every week. I will admit, I did find it a bit more difficult to motivate myself to exercise since I stopped having the accountability and scheduling of the barre class. I mentioned in my weekly update that my doula has lent us a copy of the Spinning Babies Daily Essentials DVD to use for the last few weeks of my pregnancy and it’s definitely helped re-invigorate my workout routine.

So the first few weeks of November, when I officially cancelled my gym membership, I gave myself permission to be a little lazy. I mean, I still had to walk a fair amount, since I walk about 50 minutes, round trip, to get to and from work four days a week. And I tried to make sure I got in at least one more day per week of walking, usually our weekly trip to Vigilante Coffee. So I was still averaging over two miles per day of walking, though it was more like 3.5 miles five days a week, rather than a couple miles every day.

But after I got the Spinning Babies DVD, I made more of an effort to work on stretching and strengthening exercises from that DVD. The difference between that and my workouts before is that now I definitely see my goals as explicitly preparing for childbirth, rather than for general fitness. My doctor has even reminded me to walk for a half an hour every day, so I’m trying to make sure to fit in some walking time every day, even when I don’t walk to work. It helps that we have some lovely walking trails nearby.

And then, I do yoga and Spinning Babies exercises. I can do the full 35-minute Daily Exercises routine or the 28-minute yoga flow from the DVD when I have the time and energy, but I try to do a little every day, even if it’s just my favorite 3-4 exercises. And my Hypnobabies course actually recommends doing a small set of exercises everyday. So I do my pelvic tilts, squats, and butterfly stretch every day to keep my body supple and ready for childbirth, while windmills help release the lower back pain that has crept up as I’ve gotten bigger. Unfortunately, I had to stop doing forward-leaning inversions when my acid reflux got bad. But I notice that my body feels better when I do these exercises more consistently. Plus, I can still do my weekly lunchtime yoga class at work, since the instructor is a coworkers of mine and the class is small enough that she can tailor it to our needs.

In this way, I’m helping keep my body flexible and supple, and my mind quiet and prepared for the rigors of childbirth. I’m not going to be running any marathons soon, but I am preparing for the next endurance event on my schedule.

Hypnobabies, pregnancy

Hypnobabies Self-Study Course: Maintenance Check-In #1

Alright, so I’ve finished my Hypnobabies self-study course and I’ve been in “maintenance mode” for a few weeks now, so I thought I’d check in and let you know how it’s going. Currently, my schedule is that I’m supposed to listen to affirmations every day, one long hypnosis track (which rotates each day), and the shorter “Maintenance Techniques Practice.” Once again, I want to stress that this program is not “get fit in 20 minutes a day;” it’s really more like mental P90X, even in maintenance. It does require a bit of a time commitment, and I’m still finding that I need to make a conscious effort to fit in my practice. Oddly enough, I sometimes find that days when I don’t go to work are the days when I’ll struggle to fit in all my hypnosis practice because when I have all day, I’ll often put it off. When I’m going to work, I know that I need to work within a schedule, so I’ll make some time either early in the morning or at lunch to fit in one of my practice sessions so that I have less to fit in in the evenings. I still like to listen to affirmations on the metro.

But since I’ve started noticing the change in my mindset about childbirth, and I’m starting to feel these techniques integrating into my mental and physical body, I’ve also started forgiving myself for not practicing perfectly. I’ve also found that I’m more likely to fall asleep while listening to longer tracks, but that’s okay. And sometimes I’ll just put on a track and let it run while I drift off to sleep, if I haven’t made time earlier in the day. I’ve also found that I can tune into my body and my breath and put myself into hypnosis at times when I need the extra relaxation and support.

Another benefit is that, despite the fact that we’ve been slightly remiss at doing scripts, Dan and I are connecting more consciously over how we’re feeling about the pregnancy, upcoming birth, and childcare. Dan will initiate our version of the weekly partner communication exercise by checking in with me how I’m feeling, and then once in a while we’ll formally go through the questions in the exercise and see if there’s something we hadn’t discussed in a while. I feel like we’re really working together on everything, instead of me preparing for the thing that is going to affect my body, independent of him. I’m feeling better about childbirth largely because I trust that I can rely on him to help me through it.

So all in all, I’ve been mostly keeping up. I’ve had a few days where I didn’t get in all my practice, but I forgave myself and moved on. And in general, I feel like the course has helped my mindset, as well as my connection with my husband surrounding the actual birth of our child.

Previous Hypnobabies Self-Study Posts:

Week Six Recap

Week Five Recap

Week Four Recap

Week Three Recap

Week Two Recap

Week One Recap

Starting the Program

Hypnobabies, pregnancy

Hypnobabies Self-Study Course: Week Six Recap

I’ve officially finished the main self-study course and I’m now in maintenance mode! Week six’s reading assignments are about learning about newborn care and how to navigate some of the choices you have to make as new parents. I was particularly impressed with the chapter on setting boundaries with guests. It was nice because I sometimes feel like I’m being overly strict with the boundaries we’ve decided on for our families and visitors, but the course actually went further in some cases, such as letting visitors who are coming to “help” know that the one thing they don’t get to “help” with is taking care of the baby. No, you’re not “helping” by offering to hold the baby while I take a shower, unless I specifically ask you to. Anyway, our baby will have two involved parents and my husband can always hold his child while I take a shower, and vice versa.

The course reading also went into some specifics about breastfeeding technique, which I appreciated. I probably should look more into classes on breastfeeding, as I know it doesn’t always come naturally, but I have a wealth of available resources, including lactation consultants at both the hospital and our pediatrician’s office, as well as doulas who will be making a postpartum visit and are lactation consultants, plus several friends who have breastfed successfully and can share their tips (such as making sure to always have massive quantities of water on hand to drink).

There were two new hypnosis tracks, plus a new practice track, but rather than doing a new track every other day, this week’s tracks switched to the maintenance schedule, which is a different track every day, sampled among the various tracks that were used throughout the course. It’s nice because this is the schedule I will now follow for the rest of the course. We’re also supposed to keep doing the mini-script exercise. Technically, you’re supposed to have your birth partner read the script every other day, but we only managed it once this week. That said, given that we’ve had early success getting through the scripts, I think we’re doing fine. The two new hypnosis tracks are “Fear-Clearing” and “Visualize your Birth,” plus the “Maintenance Techniques Practice.”

Fear-Clearing Track:

This track helps you put a voice to any specific fears you’re feeling and then visualize releasing them. It’s very relaxing and I like the way it prompts you to deal with just one thing that is worrying you. You can do the track as often as you want and choose a different fear each time. Honestly, this would have been a great track to have from the beginning of pregnancy because it’s not specific to fears just about childbirth.

Visualize your Birth:

This track walks you through your birthing time, kind of like a mental dry run of birthing your baby. Given how much media there is about the frantic and stressful nature of childbirth, it’s nice to have a calm walkthrough to help me feel prepared without feeling keyed up.

Maintenance Techniques Practice:

This is a master practice track that walks you through all the specific hypnosis tools learned throughout the course, including the finger-drop technique, turning your mental switch off, turning your switch to “center,” eyes-open hypnosis, pushing visualization, and the two hypnotic cue words “Relax” and “Release.” It’s a great way to keep these techniques in your mind so you remember to use them. I’m definitely finding it easier to internalize the cues and I’ve even been practicing using some of the cues and techniques when I feel certain kinds of discomfort in pregnancy.

Now that I’m officially done with the main course, I probably won’t be recapping every week, but I will check back in every so often to let you know how my maintenance is going. I’m still finding that it’s a bit of work to fit in all the hypnosis tracks I need to listen to every day, but as I progressed through the class, I realized how much good it was doing me, and I find myself wanting to make time for them, rather than stressing over how I’m going to fit them in.

Previous Hypnobabies Self-Study Posts:

Week Five Recap

Week Four Recap

Week Three Recap

Week Two Recap

Week One Recap

Starting the Program

Hypnobabies, pregnancy

Hypnobabies Self-Study Course: Week Five Recap

I’m almost done with my Hypnobabies home study course! Now, the birth partner is supposed to be reading all the courses with the mother-to-be, but week five is where the course explicitly brings in the birth partners. The slides are addressed directly to the birth partner at times, which meant that the best way to go through the course was for my husband and I to sit down and go through the slides together. Unfortunately, my husband reads a bit slower than I do, so this meant that going through the reading together took significantly longer, but it gave us a good chance to check in with each other about our feelings about the pregnancy and our preparations for childbirth.

This also gave us an opportunity to discuss scheduling some time to actually do the mini-script exercises that we were supposed to start last week. We managed to fit in two mini-script practices, which I’ll talk a little more about below. All-in-all, I liked the presentation of the information about birthing, once again. This week’s lessons focused more on the final stages of the birthing process, with emphasis on how the birth partner can help. Because I’ve already done extensive research while drafting a birth plan on childbirth interventions, I skipped a few of the extra class readings with information about specific procedures because I’ve either already found a lot of information on them and made my own decision, or I’ve already discussed them with my doctor and decided that we’re on the same page.

I also found myself continuing to love the Zenband headphones. Do you like my hypnosis practice selfie with wild morning hair and Zenband headphones? I’ve been trying to take advantage of the fact that I wake up about an hour or so earlier than I want to and use that time to get in some morning hypnosis practice. It’s still a bit of effort to get in all the daily practice sometimes, but listening to affirmations while I commute and doing at least a few sessions in my office during my lunch break definitely helps. I’ve found that if I make an effort to get as much practice done before I get home from work, I’m far less likely to fall asleep than when I do my practice after dinner, right before bed.

The new tracks this week are “Hypnotic Childbirth #2” and “Preparation for Comfortable Pushing,” as well as the two mini-scripts (one was introduced last week and one this week).

Hypnotic Childbirth #2:

This track introduces the “Release” cue and reinforces the “Peace” cue. It’s generally relaxing, and contains a mix of hypnosis with your lightswitch off and eyes-open hypnosis with your switch in center, which is nice practice. As I go through the two “Hypnotic Childbirth” tracks, I definitely can start to feel more and more like this is something I’m internalizing and will be able to use in childbirth.

Preparation for Comfortable Pushing:

This includes a brief finger-drop and eyes-open hypnosis practice, and then moves on to a breathing and visualization exercise to prepare you for using hypnosis during the pushing stage. I liked the instruction in specifically targeting hypno-anesthesia using the “Peace” cue, and I’ve actually been using hypno-anesthesia and my “Peace” cue to help alleviate pains in pregnancy, such as leg cramps and back discomfort. Additionally, the breathing practice includes something like a Kegel exercise to help you learn how to consciously relax your pelvic floor during pushing.

Mini-Scripts #1 and #2:

Mini-script #1 was actually introduced last week, but we were remiss and didn’t get to practicing it. So we practiced it this week. Mini-script #1 includes practice of the “Relax” cue, with the birth partner putting a hand on your forehead or shoulder, while mini-script #2 includes practice of all three cue words: Release, Relax, and Peace. I was really worried about how the script practice would go because I’d heard on the Hypnobabies Facebook group that it’s really common for you both to get the giggles the first few times you try to practice. But my husband turned out to be pretty natural and finding his “hypnotic voice” and having the music to play in the background helped a lot. We got through both scripts with no giggles, and I definitely appreciated how it helped me understand how the “Relax” cue would work. I was worried about it because I sometimes flinch at being touched, especially if I’m meditating, but I found the “Relax” cue paired with touch to be extremely soothing. And it definitely helped us figure out how this was going to work with the two of us together.

Week five kind of gelled things together for us, I think. Interestingly enough, this week was when we really started getting things together to prepare for childbirth and the arrival of our baby, and I think that going through this course together has strengthened our bond as a couple. See you next week for the final week of the course as I enter “maintenance” mode.

Previous Posts:

Week Four Recap

Week Three Recap

Week Two Recap

Week One Recap

Starting the Program

Hypnobabies, pregnancy

Hypnobabies Self-Study Course: Week Four Recap

This week started off a little rough. I managed not to start my new week’s lessons until the afternoon on Sunday, so I didn’t get around to listening to my hypnosis tracks at all until the evening. Luckily the practice track was the same “Eyes-Open Childbirth Hypnosis Practice” track from last week, so I didn’t feel so bad about missing a day of it, and I also missed a day of listening to my affirmations. But I guess part of the program is learning to move on when things don’t go exactly as planned, so I tried to just forgive myself and pick it back up the next day.

I wanted to talk a little bit about focus during hypnosis. Because the visualizations refer to “hypno-anesthesia” being an orange-colored light, the Hypnobabies Facebook group is full of photos of orange light as inspiration and they recommend using a pink salt lamp as a source of dim, orange illumination. Now, I didn’t want to buy a lamp, but I saw these candle holders on Amazon. They hold a tea light, which sits deep enough in the candle holder to both give it a subtle peach-orange glow, and be inaccessible enough that I feel comfortable using it during hypnosis training without worrying that my flame-obsessed cat won’t stick her face in it while I’m in deep relaxation. And I can use a flameless electric tealight if I want to bring it to the hospital with me (it’s about the size of a large coffee mug).

As far as the course goes, this week’s readings focused on the physical side of birth, describing the progression of early birthing time. It goes into the progression of Braxton-Hicks pressure waves to early birthing into active birthing time, as well as describing some of the exams or procedures you might experience leading up to your due date and when you arrive at your birthing location. It was very comforting to have a thorough description of childbirth written in a way that was specifically intended not to make it sound intimidating.

The tracks were largely the same, with the hypnosis practice being the “Eyes-Open Childbirth Hypnosis” practice track from last week, and with the familiar “Deepening Your Hypnosis” track alternating with the new track introduced this week. And of course, affirmations every day. I’m starting to enjoy listening to them on my commute in the morning to set the tone for the day. But the other day, I was feeling particularly low and worried and found that listening to the affirmations while going about other parts of my day really helped me cheer up and feel a bit more positive.

Hypnotic Childbirth #1:

This track introduces the “Relax” cue word and describes how your birth partner can use it to help you deepen hypnosis and relaxation during childbirth. It’s very similar to the other tracks so far, and provides a deep sense of relaxation as well as helping instill the hypnotic cue word in your subconscious mind. While I haven’t noticed it yet with “Relax,” I can tell that the “Peace” cue has worked it’s way into my subconscious mind when I hear the word on the affirmations track.

So that’s where I am with the program. This week starts the final content week of the course, and then in week six, I’ll transition into maintenance mode, which will continue for the rest of my pregnancy. Hopefully this not only stays a good way to maintain calm and health in pregnancy, but gets me prepared for a positive childbirth experience.

Previous Posts:

Week Three Recap

Week Two Recap

Week One Recap

Starting the Program