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As a part of my course, I have my students write about the theories in hypnobirthing and then interview someone who has used it. I have seen great births with this method, though most rarely will call it completely pain free. Even so, it is a very effective technique to work through labor. Below, though, is a beautiful story of a painless labor using hypnobirthing as well as some insight into the strength of women. Enjoy!

“I met Sarah* 7 years ago this August. We became fast friends even though we were opposite in a lot of ways. I was raised the oldest of 7 children, constantly surrounded by babies, birth and breastfeeding and she was an only child who never even had a second thought about those things. I desperately wanted to be a mother since I could remember and Sarah wanted nothing to do with it. We spent 2 years of our friendship doing lots of fun road trips with our husbands, playing games late into the night and having each other for dinner and wine. During many of our late night talks, Sarah and her husband let us know that they were never going to have children. They liked their freedom, they didn’t want to bring life into a broken world, plus they just didn’t have any desire at all.

“I got pregnant with my first son and was ecstatic. Sarah was curious. She asked me all sorts of questions and seemed pretty interested in everything I was learning about having babies. The day I had my son (after a long 50 hour labor), she and her husband brought us celebratory beer and she held my [baby] for the first time. A change came over her immediately. Just about a year later, Sarah found out she was pregnant. It wasn’t planned and I was scared for her! She didn’t seem the motherly type, and I could not imagine them giving up their high paced lifestyle to parent a little one.

“Early on, Sarah read Hypnobirthing the Mongan Method and started listening to pregtastic podcasts. I was shocked at her excitement to have this baby and was delighted as she spent her 9 months of pregnancy active and healthy and just glowing with pure joy. She loved being pregnant. She was mentally strong and physically strong and she never wavered in letting stories of pregnancy ailments get to her.

“With my one experience under my belt being a long overdue, long labor, I was trying to prepare her for the disappointment of having your due date come and go. The day before her due date, I left to go out of town for the weekend. About 12 hours later I got a phone call that she was in labor! I was so bummed out that we wouldn’t be there to welcome that baby with celebratory beer and that I wouldn’t be there to talk through her birth story with her.
Just a few hours later I received a picture on my phone with a picture of a radiant Sarah holding a beautiful newborn A. That picture kept me up all night. I would toss and turn and then just look at the picture again. Such joy and confidence filled her face. Not a hint of fear.

“As soon as I got home I headed over to hold the baby and get the details on the birth story, I was also planning on ‘helping out’ since I was sure she was overwhelmed with a crying newborn at this point. Sarah hadn’t even changed a diaper before she had [her baby girl] so I was sure my ‘expertise’ would be needed. I walked into a room with a confident mommy and a peaceful sleeping [baby girl]. Sarah told me her birth story with ease and fondness. She used the phrases, ‘It wasn’t painful!’ and ‘I laughed when I was pushing’ and ‘It was like a party!’. I couldn’t believe my ears! Here a woman without any exposure to birth previously, had learned to trust her own body and had a relatively painless birth!

“Two and a half months later, a surprised Sarah called me with the news that she was pregnant again! She continued this pregnancy like the last, even running up to the last days of her pregnancy. This go around she had asked me to be in the room and to take pictures of the labor and birth.

“I was curious. I had already begun my birth photography business and had photographed many painful labors (many ending in epidural), and in the back of my head I didn’t quite believe Sarah stories of her first birth. The truth would be exposed. When she called me and told me she was in labor, I went to her house where I watched her laugh, finish cooking up some soup, sway and dance. We headed to the hospital not when she was crying in pain but just when she felt like it. In the dark of the night I watched her in her self hypnosis quietly and beautifully sit still during contractions with a pleasant smile on her face. After contractions she would continue her conversations in such a normal manner. There was never once a sound uttered or a ‘I can’t do this’ spoken. Around 9.5 cm she fell asleep! I was in awe! So her stories were true! She really wasn’t feeling pain. That night beautiful [baby girl] was born and joined her family and her sister who wasn’t even walking yet.

“I learned a lot that night watching Sarah deliver her second baby. I witnessed the strength that Sarah had in her mind and how that affected her attitude not only during birth but throughout her pregnancy and parenting. She was never once scared but just accepted birth as a normal beautiful thing. Consequently Sarah describes her labors as relatively painless.”

*Name has been changed.

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Rachel has worked as a register nurse (BSN from University of Utah) since 2004 with a work history in Labor and Delivery, NICU and Postpartum Care. She is also the founder of New Beginnings Doula Training which she organized in 2011. When she's not busy being a mother and grandmother, she can be found reading research papers related to some aspect of childbirth.

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