Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hypnobabies, Home Birth and Naysayers

29 weeks

As I drag my gorgeous, luminous, beautiful (read:ballooning) body closer to my baby's ETA, I am starting to look forward to my second home birth.  When I was pregnant with Lucy, a lot of people looked at me funny when I told them I was having my baby at home.  They also looked at me funny when I said that I was planning a peaceful, comfortable birth with my Hypnobabies training.  A few helpful people even laughed at me.  Outright LAUGHED at my choice to birth differently than most people will tell you is possible.  Ummm...thanks for your support...?  When I told a friend of mine I was birthing at home she said, "I might have done that with my SECOND baby.  But never with my FIRST.  You just never know what could HAPPEN!"  Then I said I was doing Hypnobabies (which is, incidentally medical hypnoanesthesia - the technique they teach to people who have life-threatening allergies to anesthesia but require major medical procedures), and that I was training my mind to feel the contractions as waves of pressure rather than pain.  I said I was fully expecting a pleasant, comfortable birth experience.  She raised her eyebrows with an "isn't she cute?" smirk on her face and said "Whatever!  Good luck with that!"  And again...thanks for your support!

What is it with people who insist on telling first-time moms horror stories about birth?  Seriously?  I know people want to tell their stories.  This is how we connect - and the urge to connect and share is especially strong in mothers because birth is such a life-changing experience.  But the seed of fear is insidious and it can grow out of control.  Most of us are afraid of childbirth to begin with, and fear only exacerbates pain because you literally cannot relax if you are afraid.  It defeats the purpose of the fear in the first place.  You are supposed to be tense if you are frightened - that is how we survived as a species (Eh, there's a tiger coming to eat us.  I'm awfully scared, but I feel so RELAXED!  I'll get around to running in a minute).  However, tension and fear are completely counterproductive to helping the body open in childbirth.  And birth is not something to fear!  It is something to relish and enjoy and triumph in!  Yes, it is intense.  Yes, there is an incredible amount of power surging through your body while you birth.  And yes, it is probably the most challenging thing you will ever require of your body.  But it isn't scary if you allow the power instead of fight it.  And if you allow yourself (and train yourself) to think differently, it doesn't have to be painful.  Really and truly.  The human mind is incredibly powerful, and it controls the body.  THE MIND CONTROLS THE BODY.  Many wise people (including a certain Jewish carpenter) have said "As you believe, so shall you be".  Think about that.  As you believe, SO SHALL YOU BE.  Want something different in your experience?  Believe something different about your experience.  That is what I learned from my daughter's birth.  I didn't want it to be painful or traumatic or scary.  I taught myself to believe that it wouldn't be.  And it wasn't.  Now it wasn't a cakewalk, either, but it was peaceful and generally comfortable and pretty damn easy all things considered, especially in comparison to all those running-down-the-hallway screaming-type births that they insist on showing you in TV.  It was beautiful, and I can't wait to do it again!  I am not in denial, either.  I know things go wrong at births.  You hear about it all the time.  But that is why I have wonderful 2 midwives that I completely trust to tell me if something is amiss.  That is their job.  To make sure my baby is born safely.  If something looks like it is heading in a worriesome direction, they will say, "Hey, Jenny, let's take this to the hospital to have a doctor check things out".  And because I trust their judgement, I will say "You know, if you think it is a good idea, let's go".  The goal for everyone is a healthy baby and a safe birth - not simply a home birth.

And on that note, here's another thing that drives me nuts.  Why can't people just let women birth their babies where ever the hell they want to?  Why all the hullaballoo about home birth?  Women aren't stupid.  Home birthers are not choosing the "experience" of birth over the safety of their child.  People who believe that are idiots, plain and simple.  What do they think we are telling ourselves?  "The experience at home is so nice that I don't care if my baby dies"?  What kind of jackass says that?  The fact is, the research is there (and this link is just the tip of the iceberg).  All the credible research shows that PLANNED home birth with a trained professional birth attendant - for low-risk, healthy mothers - is as safe, if not safer than birthing in a hospital.  So quit telling me that I am irresponsible, irrational, foolish, or even dangerously putting my baby's life at risk and give me easier access to those trained professionals!  Good lord.  And while you're at it, can you please tell my insurance company to reimburse me for my low-tech, low-cost home birth?  "Low-cost" should be a HUGE selling point to insurance companies on home birth.  But certainly, we here in the US don't need to tweak our system at all.  Our maternity stats are some of the best in the world, right?  We have lower costs, lower maternal death rates, lower c-section rates, lower neonatal morbidity and mortality rates than the entire civilized world, right?  Why change ANYTHING in our sleek as a shark, completely efficient, evidence-based healthcare system?  Oh...wait...I was hallucinating again...

So...yeah.  That was a rant.  Sorry. 

So I am planning a second home birth.  A second Hypnobabies birth.  I am very excited about it.  Lucy was born in the water, and I am starting to imagine Muffin being born there, too.  I am starting to imagine holding him for the first time in the quiet dark of the middle of the night.  I am starting to imagine crawling into my own bed with my husband and my sweet little girl and my new baby boy - my beautiful family completed.  I am starting to get impatient to meet him and see who he will be.  

Ten more weeks.   


  1. Absolutely freaking brilliant.

  2. Love it! Thanks for speaking out about this important topic, all the best with your next Hypnobabies home birth! I'll be planning the same kind of birth when we get pregnant :)

  3. Good luck on your wonderful, beautiful birth!

  4. Just in case any readers didn't catch the sarcasm, United States is at the bottom ( or close to) of the charts for infant and mother mortality rates for childbirth.

  5. Sigh. I have my family, my midwives, my doula, everyone on board for a home hypo/water birth - except my husband. It's truly tearing us apart right now. He thinks I should be in the hospital with an epidural. That is how our first was born, and now I have a much clearer idea on what I want, but he is so attached to the medical system, he is not listening to anything I tell him about it. I'm not due until December, but I'm starting to feel like I have to choose between my marriage and my birth. Either way, I won't be true to myself or what I believe is right. And really sad, my husband really is the best husband and father, he just has his head stuck in the mud on this topic.

  6. Jenny, That is wonderful. Thanks for explaining so clearly why a homebirth is a safe option for so many moms!

    Have a wonderful birth.

  7. Janet - that must be so hard. I wish I could help you or give you something to try that you haven't tried yet to convince him. I feel very lucky that my husband hates hospitals almost as much as I do, so it wasn't an issue. I hope that you find some gentle ways to at least soften his views on this - it is so important to have a positive birth experience with a supportive partner. Hopefully he'll come around to you! One thing that helped a friend of mine with her husband was saying - "Please understand I am planning to have this baby hat home. I can ALWAYS change my mind and have a hospital birth if I want it. But once I plan for the hospital, I can't change my mind about it and go home. Please let me try my way first." It wasn't the same as having him 100% on board, but at least he was willing to trust her enough to "let" her try it at home (and it went perfectly!) and not insist on the hospital.

    Good luck to you!