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For my third birth, I decided to use the Hypnobabies childbirth prep program. Here I will share my Hypnobabies birth story, but you can see my review of the Hypnobabies program here. I suggest reading the review first to make sure you have the background info necessary to understand different references I make.
While all of my pregnancies were special, knowing that this pregnancy was going to (probably) be my last one meant that it was extra special to me. I am really glad I decided to do Hypnobabies even though I did not have the birth I expected to have (but I don’t mean this is a bad way- you will see what I mean as you read).
Note: Hypnobabies has a vernacular associated with it to remove words with negative connotations from the every day pregnancy vocabulary. For example, “contractions” are called “birthing waves.” In this birth story, I am using standard language. If you are a Hypnobabies student reading this, please use your “bubble of peace” to help you look past the language if needed.
Why Did I Choose Hypnobabies?
Long story short, I chose Hypnobabies because of the evolving situation with COVID-19 and not being sure how that would impact my birth. I was considering a lot of different birthing options, and I wanted to be prepared for whichever option seemed to be right for us once we were ready to commit.
I had hospital births with my first two kids and I had epidurals with both. The epidural was poorly placed with my first and I did not get relief. It also led to the use of Pitocin to speed up my labor to what the doctors felt was a more appropriate pace. Being chained to the bed without getting much relief felt like torture.
My second baby was an induction at 39 weeks due to growth concerns. As far as inductions go, I actually had an amazing experience. It was 5 hours start to finish. I got an epidural, but it worked perfectly and allowed me to still feel the pressure I needed to push effectively. However, it did give me low blood pressure issues.
I thought I would probably just do the standard hospital birth thing the third time, but as COVID-19 changed the world and created a lot of uncertainty, I knew I needed to have options and wanted to be well prepared for whatever I felt we needed to do.
Birth Story Part 1: Pregnancy
Despite the crazy situation going on in the outside world, this was the pregnancy in which I felt the most positive, optimistic, and experienced the least amount of stress. I always had something to worry about with my first two babies, but with this one, I was so much more zen.
I definitely credit Hypnobabies for this.
The program is set up to help you have the most positive and bonded pregnancy possible. Many of the hypnosis tracks gave me opportunities to visualize being with my baby, talking to my baby, picturing the exact birth I wanted to have, cuddling my baby, etc.
These exercises were so powerful for a pregnant mom’s mental health. This program is centered upon the love parents have for their sweet baby.
It makes it a great way to bond with your baby and your partner.
My third pregnancy was also my most active pregnancy, and I was able to walk 3 miles a day up until I gave birth! I was never able to do that with my other pregnancies. I credit Hypnobabies with helping me to stay focused on having an all-around healthy pregnancy and encouraging good diet and appropriate exercise.
Birth Story Part 2: The Week of My Birth
I need to start my birth story about 5 days before I gave birth- Sunday, July 19th. This was 2 days past my due date. On that day, I woke up and spent a lot of time doing various exercises, like the inversion from Spinning Babies and the Miles Circuit. Then I went on the birthing ball doing hip circles, bounces, lunges, etc.
I had been doing these exercises because I had some off and on concern about baby’s position. This baby was in the ROT position (right occiput transverse), and while I had never worried about position with my first two kids aside from making sure they were head down, Hypnobabies strongly encouraged belly mapping and doing some exercises to help make sure baby was positioned appropriately for an easy birth.
Spinning Babies doesn’t exactly paint the ROT position in a positive light (ROT means baby is head down, but on my right side with head looking to the left). They consider it to be a posterior position, which can lead to back labor and a long labor.
Side note: I have some mixed feelings on this. While I am no expert, I know there are many true experts that say this— there are not many studies that show exercises or maternal positioning to actually be effective at turning an already head down baby. In most situations, babies will enter the pelvis how they need to enter, and they will turn themselves as needed during labor to find the most efficient way out. Of course, some babies don’t do this and end up coming out “sunny side up,” and while sometimes it’s an issue for mom, many other times it isn’t. Many times, the baby will do exactly what he or she needs to do!
I have mixed feelings on this because it makes the mother feel like it’s her fault if baby isn’t positioned correctly, and often times the position of the baby is for a reason, like the cord being wrapped around the baby’s neck, or even just due to the shape of her pelvis.
But on the other hand, many people feel like these exercises played a part in getting their baby to an optimal position, so if it makes someone feel better to be proactive about baby positioning, and the exercises don’t cause any harm, then why not?
I started having very light contractions anywhere from 8-15 minutes on that Sunday. They had been going on for about 4 or 5 hours, so I thought they were probably going to go somewhere. We decided to pack the kids up and take them to my parents’ house just in case.
However, by the time we got home again and I laid down to rest, the contractions completely dissipated. I was pretty disappointed because I was feeling so ready to meet my baby!
We decided to leave the kids at my parents’ house as they live 75 minutes away and we were pretty sure labor would start any day now.
As the week went on, every day I experienced some contractions that would last anywhere from one hour to a couple hours, but they would fade away into nothing. It was very frustrating. I had an induction scheduled for 41 weeks (which would be 7/24) and I was really hoping to beat my induction date.
Hypnobabies trains you to view your contractions as a tight, warm hug, or like the feeling of a blood pressure cuff. My prodromal contractions were definitely very comfortable, and even pleasurable. I would miss them if I wasn’t trying to pay attention to them.
My Birthing Day
The date of my induction arrived. I was having a hard time sleeping the night before, so I was up at 3:30 am. Hypnobabies has a special set of hypnosis tracks to listen to on your actual birthing day that are mostly different from the tracks you listened to during your training.
I decided to put on my “Birthing Day Affirmations” track to get myself in the right frame of mind. Once I finished that track, I put on my “Special, Safe Place” track to connect with my baby and see if it would lull me back to sleep (unfortunately, it didn’t!)
After listening to those tracks, I got out of bed and went downstairs to eat breakfast. I needed to call the hospital at 6 am to make sure they had room for me to come in for my 7 am appointment. At 6 am, I made the call and found out that they did not have room at that time and they would call me at 7.
I felt a little disappointed, but I had a similar experience with my induction with my second child, so I figured they would have room soon enough.
They called me back a little after 7 to inform me that they still didn’t know when they would be able to have me come in, and they instructed me to call back at 9. I felt a little more frustrated at this, but I knew there wasn’t much to be done about it, so I just decided to relax on the couch for a couple hours.
I noticed I was having more prodromal waves every 10 minutes or so, but they didn’t seem any different than anything I had experienced all week, so I didn’t want to get my hopes up.
At 9, I called labor and delivery back and was once again told that they didn’t know when, or even if, they could have me in today. They said they were going to call my doctor and get back to me at 11.
I did not handle this well. I was so frustrated. I missed my big kids so much because they had been gone all week and were homesick. I went upstairs to rest in bed and started to cry because I was just so frustrated at the situation. My husband came upstairs and tried to comfort me. I poured out to him about how I was feeling unimportant because I couldn’t get into labor and delivery, how I was so mad that my body didn’t want to get going on it’s own, how this was my last birth, but I wouldn’t get to experience a spontaneous labor, how I had been praying to go into labor on my own but for some reason, God didn’t seem to hear me or care about what I wanted.
All of a sudden, I was overcome with a strong contraction that completely caught me off guard. I stopped and grabbed my phone and timed it– it was about 1 minute long.
I told my husband I had just had a strong contraction and that I had been having the little ones all morning.
8 minutes later, I had another strong contraction. I definitely knew this was the real deal. I decided to go run a bath to see if it could help me relax because I knew I needed to get into hypnosis. I put on the Hypnobabies “Deepening” track.
As I was starting the bathwater, I had another strong contraction. I looked at my clock and realized it had only been a little over 4 minutes. I turned off the water and knew we needed to get to the hospital which was 35 minutes away from my house.
I called my doctor to let them know I was on my way, but I had to hang up because it took so long to get through their phone menu to get to the nurse’s station that I had another contraction right when I was supposed to leave my message. After the contraction, I called back right away and let them know.
We got into the car and started driving. I switched my hypnosis track the “Easy First Stage”, which is the main birthing time track in the Hypnobabies program and I started listening with my bluetooth noise cancelling headphones. The contractions were getting more and more powerful with each one. I was finding it so difficult to get into hypnosis at this point because my contractions came on so strong and fast, and since it takes several minutes to get into a deep state of hypnosis, I was really struggling.
By the time we reached the interstate, my contractions were every 3 minutes apart and very intense. Hypobabies trains you to use a cue word, “Peace,” for instant comfort during your birthing time. Unfortunately, since I wasn’t in deep hypnosis, I had a hard time. With each contraction, I was yelling “Peace” in the car and kind of freaking out my husband.
I didn’t think the peace cue was working, so I stopped using it during one contraction, but I noticed instantly that when I stopped it was much more painful than it was before, so I went back to using it.
We got to the hospital when my contractions were 2 minutes apart and my husband was driving 80-90 mph (thank goodness we did not pass any police officers!)
My husband dropped me off at the doors and went to park. I got in and went through their COVID screening as best as I could, but I had my noise cancelling headphones in and was clearly more focused on my contractions than I was on their questions, so they kind of just let me past. They stopped a random doctor walking in the lobby and asked her to accompany us to L&D. We waited for my husband to come in and I just started sobbing because I was so overwhelmed.
We got up to L&D and they got us into a room right away. They checked me and said I was a 9 with bulging waters and asked if they could break them so we could get this baby out for me ASAP. I consented, they broke my water, and baby was born a bit after that after about 3 pushes. Miraculously I had no tears, and clearly the babies ROT position did not cause any issues.
Baby was born at 10:43 am after having my first real contraction in my bed at home at 9:30. It was a very intense experience.
How Did Hypnobabies Help Me?
While I was disappointed I never got an opportunity to get into deep hypnosis and experience the program as intended, I know that my baby and I had the perfect birth for us. Having the “peace” cue was instrumental in helping me cope through the strongest contractions while being buckled into the front seat of the car (my contractions felt much more manageable when I was standing, and for the bulk of my labor I had to be sitting in the car, so that wasn’t fun).
One thing I wonder is if my hypnosis worked a little too well that I didn’t recognize my early birthing time contractions, which means I missed my opportunity window to get into the deep hypnosis. I am not sure if those earlier contractions that seemed just like the prodromal labor I had been experiencing were advancing my dilation or not. I had had a cervical check 2 days prior and the prodromal labor I had experienced thus far hadn’t changed my dilation or effacement at all.
I was thankful for the hypnosis training I did to help me have a positive pregnancy and give me the confidence I needed going into my birthing time.
I had heard that third babies were the wild card, but I certainly wasn’t expecting this! But I had so much to be thankful for.
I was thankful my kids were already at my parents house because otherwise my husband would have had to miss the birth. I was thankful that I got to the hospital in time and that my waters held strong because otherwise I may have had a car baby. I was thankful that God answered my prayers and that I ultimately didn’t need my induction.
I was thankful that my husband had been working from home due to COVID/we had an induction scheduled that day, and that my husband was home when my contractions started. I can’t imagine if I had had to wait for him to make his 45 minute commute home to get me and then drive me 35 minutes to the hospital!
Ultimately, everything worked out so wonderfully for us and I am so grateful for the whole experience.
Tips for Using Hypnobabies
Here are a couple of tips based off of my experience for using this program:
- Start the program between 28-30 weeks pregnant. I started at 24 weeks and I did have some burnout that I was able to fix with a new routine, but I realized the extra month I signed myself up for was a bit overkill (it’s not a program you do in 6 weeks and then you’re done–after the 6-week program, you go into “maintenance mode” until the day you give birth–so I added an extra month of practice that I probably didn’t need).
- Hypnobabies recommends Zenbands for headphones, but have some noise canceling headphones for the car unless your car ride is very short. The road noise makes it hard to hear with the Zenbands. I used the Zenbands for my practice every day, but then I realized on the drive home from my parent’s house while listening to a couple of tracks that I needed noise canceling for the drive to the hospital.
- Find a routine and stick to it. If you just try to fit in your tracks whenever you can, you will probably end up skipping it a lot. This program does need to be done consistently for the best results. I eventually settled into a routine of listening to the pregnancy affirmations first thing in the morning, doing my finger drop practice late afternoon, and listening to my main hypnosis track when I was ready for bed.
- Try not to overanalyze how good you are at hypnosis. I didn’t always feel like I was in hypnosis. However, I’ve learned that hypnosis isn’t a feeling. As long as you are listening to your tracks and putting in the time, you are doing it right, even if your mind wanders or you’re just not feeling as relaxed as you think you should feel. All you need to worry about is consistently listening to the tracks and allow your subconscious to do the work for you.
Well, that’s that! That’s my Hypnobabies birth story. I’m sorry I can’t elaborate more on the hypnosis during active labor–I wish I could, but alas, our labors unfold on their journey regardless of how we think they should go.
Did you use Hypnobabies for your birth? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!