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Volume 13 Issue 5
March/April 2008

What's the Scoop on Chocolate?

Late-breaking Natural Health News!


Living "Green" Both Inside and Out

Ion Cleansing: The New Trend in Detox

Now is the Time to Awaken Your Powers & Heal the Earth

For the Love of Horses


A Method for Women to Experience a Relaxing, Joyful, and Empowering Birth

by Marie Berwald
Marie Berwald

When Vadna Ward learned in February, 2007, that she was pregnant, the birth of her baby was immediately on her mind. After witnessing her sister's experiences with both a chemically-managed birth and a natural birth, she decided that natural birth was the best and most healthy choice for her and her baby.

As a working ultrasound sonographer, Vadna knows more than many women about the medical model of birth, which often views it as a painful and hazardous medical procedure. However, at her prenatal yoga class Vadna was presented with a different outlook on birth: birth as a natural, normal, and healthy event in a woman's life. Instead of something to endure, birth was discussed as an event which allows a woman to connect with her own beauty, strength, and grace. This second vision of birth resonated with her, but Vadna was still not sure how to achieve it until she discovered HypnoBirthing, a method which teaches women exactly how to experience that kind of positive birth.

After enrolling in HypnoBirthing, she learned techniques to create a joyful and empowering birth. "I enjoyed talking with other women in my class with the same philosophy and it was helpful to watch the videos of other women experiencing this type of birth. It helped me to visualize myself giving birth in this way," Vadna told me. The CDs and textbook allowed her and her husband to continue to practice relaxation at home throughout her pregnancy. "I was able to relax deeply very quickly. My husband and I would listen to the CDs each night and we would easily become calm and peacefully focused." In her own words, Vadna describes the impact of this method on her labour as "nothing short of divine". She adds, "The birth was an awesome experience and I loved every minute."

During the pregnancy of my second child, I, like Vadna, was amazed to discover how HypnoBirthing could transform my birth experience. As a prenatal yoga instructor, I was already coaching women on how to relax and work with, rather than against, their bodies, but I was so impressed by this method that I decided to extend my training and become a certified instructor.

HypnoBirthing, also known as The Mongan Method, is a childbirth class, created by Marie Mongan, MEd, MHy (Certified Hypno-Anesthesiologist), which uses hypnosis to allow a woman to tap into her natural birthing instincts and allows her to work with her body so her baby can be born in the easiest, gentlest, and most comfortable manner possible. It is a common misconception that hypnosis is either hocus-pocus or a type of mind control. In reality, it is neither. Practitioners of hypnotherapy describe it as our innate ability to achieve very deep levels of relaxation, accompanied by an intense focus on a desired goal. It is important to note that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis; a person will only accept the new beliefs and suggestions that they wish to adopt.

HypnoBirthing is as much a philosophy as it is a technique. The concept behind it is not new, but rather a "rebirth" of the philosophy of birthing as it existed thousands of years ago, and as it was recaptured in the work of Dr. Grantly Dick-Read, an English obstetrician, who first forwarded the concept of natural birthing in the 1920s. HypnoBirthing teaches that in the absence of fear and tension, severe pain does not have to be an accompaniment of labour. Through the training, expectant women gain an understanding of how the birthing muscles can work in perfect harmony when a body is sufficiently relaxed. Birthing mothers learn how to achieve this kind of relaxation, freeing them of the usual "Fear-Tension-Pain" cycle and allowing them to take advantage of the body's natural endocrinology during the birth process. Birth Partners or Companions are taught how to observe, connect, and help their partner relax deeply. Through the use of positive visualization, breathing, repetition, and practice, mothers, babies, and birth companions can experience the true art and joy of birth.

When a woman has a baby with HypnoBirthing she is not in a trance or asleep. Instead, I would describe the experience as similar to focusing that occurs when you are engrossed in a book or staring into a fire.

Birthing mothers are conversant and in good spirits-totally relaxed, but fully in control. Awake throughout their births, these mothers are aware of their body's uterine surges; but because they have trained themselves to reach complete relaxation, they are able to determine the degree and the type of sensation they feel during uterine surges. In this calm state a human body's natural relaxant-endorphins-replaces the stress hormones which constrict muscles and cause pain.

HypnoBirthing classes are taught in a series of five two-and-a-half-hour sessions. The cost of the course is $300 and includes the textbook, HypnoBirthing: A Celebration of Life by Marie F. Mongan, two self-hypnosis practice CDs, and a workbook. Participants also receive support and advice throughout their pregnancy. This method can be taught either in a group setting or privately in one's own home. Birthing mothers and companions learn all the basic physiology behind the birth process, as well as what to expect during each stage of labour. What they do not learn is how to "deal" with the pain, as that concept means one is already anticipating and expecting to be suffering. However, they do learn comfort measures and ways to ease their minds, thereby easing the birthing body. These classes are meant to be relaxing, encouraging, and to help put both expectant mothers and their partners at ease about the birth process.

As a final point, it is important to remember that this is also the baby's birth experience. What kind of first impression of the world would you choose for a newborn? Babies want a calm, reassuring, and loving entrance into this new world. They want their first few moments on earth to be spent skin to skin on their mother's chest feeling warm and secure, looking at their parents and nursing. By preparing for birth with HypnoBirthing you can give this gift of a peaceful joyous birth to yourself and your baby.

Marie Berwald, BEd, HBCE, is a HypnoBirthing Practitioner and yoga instructor living in Regina, SK. To contact her call (306) 761-2252 or email: marie.berwald@birthbliss.ca. You can also find out more and read birth stories of women in and around Regina by going to www.BirthBliss.ca. Also see the display ad on page 21 of the 13.5 March/April issue of the WHOLifE Journal.


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