Tuesday, July 20, 2010

20: natural childbirth techniques

For the past 7 weeks or so, I’ve been practicing some birthing techniques that are supposed for a more painless and quick natural birth as I would like to avoid an epidural as much as humanly possible. Below I’m just discussing some of the tenets of the method I have found most helpful and some of the modifications I have done to make it work for me.

HypnoBirthing may sound sort of new age and scare people off with the visualization of people in trances while in labour, but really it is just the use of self-relaxation techniques that help alleviate the fear and tension that make labour more difficult and largely, more painful. According to the method, a pain-free birth is attainable by women who practice the techniques with and without their partner, however I have decided that it could make labour more traumatic for me if I go in expecting no pain and have difficulty becoming relaxed and am overcome by pain. The more techniques and methods I know the more I can bring into my pain management during labour, however I’m expecting their to be SOME pain in bringing this baby girl into the world. And I’m OK with that.

Regardless, I wanted to share what I have learned about the various hypnobirthing techniques, as well as the sites I have found helpful in learning. I hope some expectant mothers might find it helpful!

Four basic hypnobirthing techniques:

Breathing
Visualization
Relaxation
Deepening

Breathing:

This is one area where I’m more closely following the hypnobirthing techniques. I’ve found that almost all of the relaxation and visualization scripts have mostly the same breathing patterns for moving through the different stages of labour, however the hypnobirthing book and site best described them. Even the American Pregnancy Association recommends some variations of these three techniques.

Here are the three different breathing techniques:

Sleep Breathing

In: 4 Count
Out: 8 Count
Place hands on belly and chest; do they move apart when breathing in and come together when exhaling?
Let body become more relaxed every time you exhale.
Use: While practicing relaxation scripts and visualizations. While in labour, this type of breathing will help bring you into a relaxed state and to maintain that state between contractions.


Slow Breathing

In: Slowly and quietly to 20+ (Build up to this amount)
Out: Same
Place hands on belly with fingertips barely meeting; it should seem as if belly is inflating like a balloon.
Use: During contractions. Having your abdomen and uterus raised and extended during contractions helps put them in a position that maximizes the effectiveness of the contraction, thereby shortening labour.

Birth Breathing

Your body has a Natural Expulsive Reflex that slowly moves the baby down the birth canal and out; birth breathing helps to supplement this reflex. Here’s what I found on the Hypnobirthing forums:

Try this exercise: Take a breath, hold it, put your chin on your chest and bear down (push) while holding that breath. Feel what is happening in the muscles in your perineum and around your anus. (Most people feel a tightening in their "bottom.")
Now take a breath, look gently downward (don't put your chin all the way to your chest) open your mouth and bear down while allowing air to come from your mouth. Feel where you are experiencing the tightness--most likely across the top of your abdomen. THAT will help push out the baby, but a tight bottom won't help at all!!
The "J" breath is just a way to visualize the path the baby takes, down the birth path, then up under the pubic bone. Birth breathing sometimes includes a lot of bearing down, and sometimes none at all--moms should do what feels right for them. But if you hold your breath and push, you tighten muscles which should be relaxed. Women in comas birth their babies just fine without pushing--the uterus gently pushes out the baby, and since the mothers are deeply relaxed, the birth path and perineal tissues just open as the baby comes along.

Visualization and Relaxation:

To aid in reaching and maintaining a relaxed state, I’ve been using some downloads I found on the Mindful Mamma website. As I mentioned yesterday, they were around $10 for 4 tracks, which assist you in preparing for different stages for labour. Below are some descriptions of the 4 tracks.

Meadow Relaxation:
A relaxation track which increases your ability to relax quickly and easily during pregnancy and which increases your confidence in birthing. After listening to this track on a regular basis you will discover that you are much more in tune with your intuition and that you learn to trust in your instincts as a mum to be. You can listen to this throughout your pregnancy right up to and during labour.

Surges of the Sea:
This is your birth preparation track and should be listened to from 32 weeks. It will make you feel confident, in control and has suggestions that will help you achieve a calm, comfortable birth. It will also help you to enter into your "birthing zone", and is designed to help you relax more with each contraction you have. You will love the time distortion which means that your labour will feel more like 45 minutes than 4 hours.

Letting Go:
This track helps you get rid of any unconscious fears linked to your birth or to parenthood. Letting go of subconscious fears is very important as it's these fears which can disrupt the process birth. If you are anxious at any level you produce adrenaline which suppresses the release of oxytocin and your body's natural analgesia. Letting go of anxieties and fears will help you stay calm and allow the natural flow of feel good hormones. You can listen to this if you are overdue or if labour stalls as sometimes fear can slow labour down.

Baby Bonding:
Baby bonding is an internal body scan of your baby using a guided visualisation. It really gets you in touch with your baby and is a truly amazing experience!

(Source: Mindful Mamma)

I also downloaded a free track from the Hypnobabies website that is almost 30 minutes long and guides you into and through relaxation. Every little bit helps!

The creator of Hypnobirthing said that you can test your relaxed state by seeing if you can hold an ice cube in your hand until it melts while doing the scripts. I’ll have to test that out in the next couple of weeks!

Deepening:

I haven’t looked into this part as much as it is more specific to the HypnoBirthing method, however it is basically anything that will bring you further into relaxation. It includes things such as cues, light touch massage and using specific words that bring relaxation. If you are practicing HypnoBirthing with a partner (something I’m not able to do), these are very effective as they allow your partner to know or control additional techniques that will bring you further into relaxation if they see you beginning to come out or struggling more with keeping pain at bay. Craig and I will chat ahead of time about how he can make the most of these techniques to bring me comfort during labour, but it won’t be intended as a ‘deepening technique’.

Motherhood


Posted to Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family!

1 comment:

Val said...

I've done hypnobirthing for all 4 of my labors. It worked great for me & I'm a big advocate. What really helped was practicing with my husband rubbing my arm while I relaxed. Good luck!! (I wouldn't hesitate to do it again! Just wish my hubby would be ok with 5!!!)

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