During the time that I was pregnant, I did a lot of healing work around the various things that I was aware of that could hold me back in preparing for a natural birth. My midwives taught me a lot about what could get in my way. After years of practice supporting women in labor, they found that those who worked through their issues in advance had a much easier time in labor.
I used many different healing modalities. I did endless yoga (as I was training to become a teacher). I also did reflexology, and energy work like reiki and craniosacral unwinding. But the one that I want to tell you about is hypnotherapy.
I used a hypnosis for childbirth program called Hypnobabies as pain management to prepare for my natural birth. It just made sense to me. Hypnotherapy is very similar to guided meditation, which had been something I was very used to from yoga. The program is based on the idea that all women are born innately knowing how to give birth. But then American society teaches us that it will be a terrible, unmanageable ordeal, so we are thus afraid to give birth without hospitals and drugs. Theoretically, if we can reprogram our subconscious minds to trust that we are born knowing how to give birth, then we will be able to do so without as much fear.
Fear stimulates the adrenaline response in the body, the “fight or flight”. Once this starts, it routes the majority of blood flow to the major organs needed to escape danger. In a woman’s case, it routes blood flow away from the uterus. This response delays labor, and rightfully so- If a cave woman were approached by a bear while in labor, she would need labor to be put on hold so that she could run away to survive. Therefore, it is incredibly important that a woman is not in a state of fear, anxiety, worry, or stress while in labor. Any fighting against the flow of labor would stop or slow the progress.
That being said, I loved the Hypnobabies program as preparation for birth. However, I also felt like I wanted to deal with some very specific issues that I had been carrying around. So I looked up a local certified hypnotherapist and booked an appointment.
I had gone through several experiences through my life that I felt could possibly stall my labor. One of the main things that I wanted to focus on in my session was releasing a traumatic situation from my childhood, and forgiving all of those who had been involved in some way. This single experience had changed the course of much of my adult life, and seemed to always hover in the background for me, haunting me still. I felt that, even after years of effective psychotherapy, there was still a part of me that had never been healed from the trauma. The session ended up being focused around “unplugging” my emotional connection to that situation. I was also able to envision myself in a safe place with all of those who had been involved, and I saw each of them as two people. I understood that they existed in this life in the physical form, with all of their flaws and shortcomings. But I also understood that they also existed in Divine form, as their true selves, beautiful and kind. To be able to see them as living the best that they could through the faults of their human form really helped me to release the emotions I had been holding towards them. It was a wonderful experience.
And at the end of the session, I envisioned myself at the age that I had been when this event occurred. I asked this little girl what I should call her, and she said “Smiley”- my father’s nickname for me when I was a child. I held her hand and we walked together to cut the connection to the trauma. I asked her what else she needed from me to be whole. She said that she would be with me when I became a mother, that I could help her to heal by raising my own child with all the love and care that she had felt wasn’t given to her.
One year ago tomorrow, at 9:10 am, my daughter Simone was born. About a minute after she entered the world, she smiled. My doula looked at her and said “Hi, Smiley.” And my heart was full.