Listen to the podcast “Hypnobirthing” These days, we hear so much about empowerment. We hear women proclaim the importance empowerment; they emphasize their need to become empowered; they help other women to become empowered. But honestly, I’ve never heard a woman say, “I know that my birth experience could empower me more than any other event in my life. How can I maximize that opportunity for empowerment?”
The media repeatedly tells us that labor and delivery is a painful, panicky process. With that in mind, women have already entered the fear-tension-pain cycle, and seek relief. Most turn to drugs (often those given as epidural analgesia) to minimize or eliminate what they assume will be unbearable pain. I remember the first time I asked an expectant couple why they had decided to use epidural anesthesia as soon as labor began. They quickly responded, “Why would you have pain if you could completely avoid it?” I stood there, dumbfounded, trying to figure out what to say. I’ve never come up with a response.
I always want to blurt out, “So that you could be fully present in the moment! So that you could feel the power of pushing a baby out into the world! So that you could savor the moment of feeling for a few moments as though you were a goddess, suspended between heaven and earth!” Having assisted hundreds if not thousands of laboring women, I completely acknowledge that there’s a time and a place for medication; I’ve seen some really rough labor/births. But I try to help women consider all options, because I know that some of them are missing that truly empowering opportunity.
With so much emphasis on how hospital practices—including medicated labors—can impact breastfeeding, I asked my guest, Robin Frees, to talk about hypobirthing in this episode. She talks about how “feel-good” hormones help you to have a good labor and a good experience breastfeeding, whereas stress hormones set you up for something very different. She talks about the value of writing your own birth story and practicing self-hypnosis. She talks about using imagery, visualization, and positive affirmations, and the power of our subconscious. She tells us that we can create our own birth experiences. How empowering is that?
As Deborah Day observed: “Rewriting the negative beliefs you have learned is the essence of becoming the director of your life.”