I am going to give natural childbirth (oh really? My sister-in-law did it, although I could never do it.")
I am going to give birth using the hypnobirthing method (What's that? with a "your crazy" look)
I am giving birth in a birth center (What? why? what if something goes wrong?!)
Please know that I think westernized medicine is great. It is truly amazing what they can do nowadays for pain and illnesses. I promise I don't look down on any woman who has an epidural during labor and delivery.
For me, I truly believe that pain during labor and delivery is actually not necessary, and it's quite possible to deliver a baby with no drugs and no pain. (insert every "you're crazy" stare here, and comments on how i have no idea because I have never actually gone through it, followed by graphic horror stories of their own or a friends delivery.)
So let me explain in the simplest way I can:
The uterus is a muscle; actually it is three muscles although with the birth process we use only two of them: the inner and the outer layers. The inside layer actually works all throughout a woman's pregnancy by holding the baby inside, and the outer layer does not come into play until labor. Here is a picture of the three layers of the uterus, sorry it's so small:
Top = outer layer. Middle = middle layer. Bottom = inner layer
*picture from book: Hypnobirthing: the Mongan Method
At the end of pregnancy when the time comes the baby releases the hormones indicating that it is done developing, and the woman's body releases a similar hormone indicating it is ready for the baby to get out. Those hormones together start the body into labor.
How labor is supposed to work: The hormones tell the outside layer of the uterus to start pulling upward in a wave like motion. At the same time those hormones tell the inner layer of the uterus to stop holding tight, so those rings you see release and the muscle relaxes allowing the baby to move down and through the birth canal. If these muscles work how they are supposed to there should actually not be any pain, just a sensation of pressure, or tightening, or perhaps something similar to period cramps.
Sounds easy enough, right? So why does every woman tell about the excruciating pain? I will tell you, it comes down to fear. We have been trained through stories, movies, etc. that childbirth is painful. If we fear something and are faced with it our bodies are incredible things and we are equipped with a process we call fight or flight. Once we enter into this state our brains tell our bodies to start pumping blood to our legs, hands, and senses (because we will either need to fight, flight, or freeze). So our bodies take blood from other parts of our body that don't seem as important at that moment... like the uterus.
When the uterus does not have enough blood the outer muscle of the uterus still surges upwards but the inner muscle does not have enough blood to release and soften so it still holds tight in those rings not allowing it to thin and move upward. This creates a contrasting situation... thus what we call contractions (and pain). Did you know many women who deliver babies in this intense state of fear, Dr's say their uterus is white? It's white because all the blood is being pumped to other parts of the body.
So now that I have explained how it's possible to deliver a baby without pain (or I guess I explained why there is pain) I will explain the hypnobirthing method:
When I tell people I am going to deliver using the hypnobirthing method, the biggest question I get is: "you are going to be hypnotized?" Yes, sort of. But the word hypnotized carries with it a kind of stereotype or connotation of a watch swinging in front of your face ...you are getting very sleepy... then at that point your will is taken away and you will do anything the hypnotizer tell you to do, right? Well.... that's really not the way it works.
In fact it just means you are in a deep state of relaxation and you actually have a heightened awareness with full control over your will and your body. (it is not the imperious curse from Harry Potter) Hypnobirthing helps to teach you how to relax and get to that deep comfortable relaxation. I don't know about you but if someone tells me to "relax!" my body doesn't necessarily respond immediately and slump down in a relaxing way. However in yoga classes when it comes to the relaxation part and the instructor, in a calm soothing voice goes bit by bit through my body "...now picture your shoulders melting into the floor. With each breath every muscle and ligament loosens and relaxes..." that puts me really deep and I feel completely tranquilized.
So guess what hypnobirthing does? It basically teaches Trevor how to be a yoga instructor, well I guess more of a relaxation instructor. Seriously, it's so simple. Once you re-program your views of labor and delivery with positive affirming thoughts, free of any fear, the next part is getting to a deep relaxing state. Trevor and I practice, he will talk to me in a soothing calm voice and tell me to "...relax your jaw, let your tongue release and drop behind your upper teeth..." he encourages me to visualize our baby descending the birth canal in a smooth easy transition; he reminds me that my body was made for this and that our baby and my body are working together for a perfect, normal birth; and on. We are getting to the point that when he starts talking in that gentle way, or he lightly tickles my skin, I go almost instantly to a deep relaxed state.
It has enabled an incredible bond between the three of us, and Trevor doesn't feel like a spectator in the whole process, he is an active participant.
I truly believe that the whole pregnancy and birth can be a spiritual experience; I believe this because i have already had some incredible experiences, I know this little girl. I also know this method works, I have seen it work and because I know it will work for me, it just makes sense. But don't take my word for or against it, do your own research, I promise you won't regret it.
So there you have it, in my very simplified and unsophisticated point-of-view. If you would like to know more please read the book: Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method by Marie Mongon.