We love getting birth stories from clients! This is a beautiful story from one of Ashley’sHypnoBirthing students. Through all of the unknowns of labor and delivery for a first time parent, this mom describes her birth experience and how relaxing and keeping calm throughout eliminated any room for fear.
Wesley Thomas Sarazin was born 9-2-18 (13 days prior to EDD) at 5:02 pm. At 4:30 am on 9-1 was laying on the bed at my cabin and felt a pop/jolt feeling and thought my membranes released, but I stood up and no fluid was coming out. I went to the bathroom and had instead lost my mucus plug. I laid back down with my husband and had 2 contractions 20 minutes apart, but decent intensity. Since the cabin is about 1 hour and 15 minutes from home, I knew I wouldn’t feel comfortable laboring there and wanted to go home. Chris started to drive, and about 15 minutes before getting home I started to vomit. I got out of the car and fluid gushed. Surges were 6 minutes apart and lasting about 1 minute, with lots of back labor.
We got home and I took a shower, grabbed our hospital bags, and contractions were now about 5 minutes apart. I had wanted to labor at home for a while, but felt that I needed to head into triage because I was doing more vomiting and I felt like I needed to poop so I was afraid to try not knowing what my cervix was doing. I was 1cm and “soft” with baby’s head pretty low at the appointment just over a week prior. We got to triage around 9:00 am. I was still only 1-2cm but surges seemed quite intense and still no more than 5 minutes apart. They confirmed I had released my membranes and I was taken up to L&D by 10:00. I had some high BPs initially but they came down and stayed around 135/85 so they weren’t really concerned about pre-e. I was GBS neg.
Krista, my first nurse, was awesome. She has been in the field for 25 years. I’m a nurse so I wanted an IV in up front, because I don’t have great veins. I got in the tub right away and labored there for about 2 hours. I did not have to do continuous monitoring. They took an initial 20 minute reading (wireless in the tub) and then just traced me for 2 minutes each hour with the portable one. I purchased a bath pillow on Amazon and that made it more comfy. I listened to Rainbow Relaxation and some other YouTube/Amazon playlists that I had ready. I got out and dried off, and did some squatting. I hated the ball. I hated leaning forward; the sensation in my abdomen when leaning forward was less tolerable than the back labor. I had lots of rectal pressure the whole time, probably my least favorite part.
I had them check me at around 1:30 pm, and I had made it up to about 5.5cm and 90% effaced. I continued to labor, now mostly side lying with a peanut ball and some standing/squatting and rocking hips. Krista, the RN, told me to try to get through 4 surges in 1 position and then switch to another position; that it would help time go by, and for me it did. I would do about 3-4 surges and then switch. It gave short term goals to get through. Kind of like when you’ve got 10 more minutes to run but you think of it in five, 2 minute sections, just get through the next 2 minutes.
My husband, Mom, and sister took turns applying heat or ice to my back and some counter pressure. I also held heat or ice over my pelvis as it just felt like menstrual cramps. Between surges, I would tell myself to be “loose, limp, relaxed”. I continued with either Rainbow Relaxation or a really great birthing affirmations track that I had found on Youtube. My favorite affirmation was “My surges are not stronger than me because they ARE me”. Baby did have some late decels but was overall ok.
The first 5 hours I was barely monitored but had to be watched more closely at the end. About 2 hours later I was having natural expulsion reflex and I was about 7.5cm and 100%.
Doc finally came in and I was relieved when she didn’t leave, which encouraged me to know that things were likely happening soon. She was fantastic. Even the nurse commented that she has a very midwife-like approach and I felt totally comfortable with her. She put a warm wet towel on my perineum and did counter pressure during my surges. She told me to keep doing the natural expulsive pushing if it was happening even though I was not 10cm because baby was coming down well, at +1 station and tolerating it. She said, “You’re not going to rip through your cervix, your body knows what it is doing.”
After 20 minutes of active pushing, I was struggling to breathe because my urge to push was so strong it was hard to breathe in as much as I’d like. They threw a mask on me and had me push with 1 leg up through 2 surges and then switch and lean the other way to get baby to keep rotating. They got a little aggressive with how they had me push but at the time I was ok with it because I wanted him out ASAP! His head came in and out through several surges and once I popped that head through his body came all at once, such a relief.
During transition I almost asked for some nitrous oxide, but with knowing that the end was in sight, I just kept completely relaxing between surges. I didn’t have any drugs aside from IV fluids. The Doctor did do a pudendal block right before I pushed which I had never even heard of but am super thankful for. I didn’t have the “ring of fire” feeling that some people talk about.
I didn’t get post delivery pit, and had no issue with bleeding. Baby did about 2 minutes of delayed cord clamping, and then I donated the rest. He wasn’t pinking up well and neonatal needed to come. He had lots of fluid/mucus in his lungs and got deep suctioned. H also had to go on CPAP. Once he was looking better, they put him on my chest again, but unfortunately after a few minutes his color was not looking good and we had to call neonatal back for more CPAP and suction. He was threatened with the NICU and I told him to get his act together so he could stay and snuggle with me. I just kept talking to him from across the way. My husband and mom were right by his side as well. The 3rd try to my chest worked. He had mild signs of respiratory distress but his color was looking better.
The next hurdle was hoping his blood sugar was ok since he couldn’t try to latch until his breathing was stable. Luckily that was good! The only thing I would change about the whole process would be to slow down on the pushing because I think that would have minimized my tearing and maybe the baby wouldn’t have had as much fluid in his lungs.
We are in mother baby now, doing fine. He has been latching pretty well. He still is borderline tachypnic so Dad and I are taking turns holding him because he does better that way. No bassinet for him tonight.
I had my Husband, Mom and sister in the delivery room and am so glad they got to witness our awesome birth. The labor and delivery was hard but honestly not as hard as I thought it would be. It was different I would say, in regard to the back labor and rectal pressure. My husband called me a “gangster”. He said, “I don’t know how to say this the right way, because I know it wasn’t easy, but you made it look easy. It didn’t look like you were uncomfortable.”
Before labor and birth, Chris was a lot better than me about trying to use the HypnoBirthing lingo and shut down any negative birth stories that people would tell. We had several people (who are honestly GREAT people, so it surprised me) say to us, “Oh you’ll see once you get into labor, you’ll want an epidural,” or “You don’t get a trophy afterwards.” After a few of those statements, I just stopped telling people that I was going to try for a natural birth. Fortunately, my mother delivered 4 children without medication, so I had her encouraging me and my husband fully believed I could do it, more than I did.
I should say that the reason I took HypnoBirthing was because I believe that our bodies are made to do this. One of my friends, who’s biggest fear about labor was that she would go too fast and not be able to get an epidural, had read the book – Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and she gave it to me when she was done. That book further ingrained the message that our bodies are made to do this and a birth without fear will hopefully progress as it should. I think that is the most important part of preparing yourself for natural childbirth. I can honestly say I was never fearful at any point and had a beautiful, exciting, experience.
Most, if not all, of my preferences were met and I am so happy with my experience. I was up to the bathroom and walking around the room less than 2 hours after he was born, and I’m really not having any pain. Bleeding is appropriate without the dose of pit. Just trying to get some rest but being extra attentive though this first night because of my little guys breathing.
Today we talk with a previous HypnoBirthing student, Annette Beitzel, about her personal experience with HypnoBirthing at Gold Coast Doulas. Although she didn’t use it how she intended, it had an incredible impact on her pregnancy and birth experience. You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.
Kristin: Welcome to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas. I’m Kristin, and I’m here today with my business partner, Alyssa.
Kristin: And we’ve got Annette Beitzel here.
Kristin: And we are talking about Annette’s experience with taking HypnoBirthing class back in 2016. So thanks for coming on! First of all, as far as all of your options of out-of-hospital childbirth classes, what made you choose HypnoBirthing?
Annette: Honestly, I heard about it on a podcast, and it just sounded cool. At first, just the name HypnoBirthing sounds really kooky, like, oh, yeah, those people! But just hearing the person’s experience with it, it was like, oh, my goodness. This sounds like exactly what I want. I already had planned on natural birth at a birthing center. That was my goal, and so it just felt like it fit really well with what my goals were. Breathing is better than medication, right?
Kristin: Of course, yes!
Annette: So yeah, it just sounded like it fit well.
Kristin: Perfect. And did you have any reservations about HypnoBirthing, when you think of hypnosis? When people call our office and ask questions about HypnoBirthing, they get a little freaked out by the “hypno” aspect of it.
Annette: I think that because I heard about it on a podcast with a person who really explained it right away as just relaxing yourself; that’s what you’re doing; you’re doing it to yourself. Nobody is coming in with a watch on a chain!
Kristin: That’s what people imagine, for sure!
Annette: It was harder to explain to my husband. I was like, okay, just listen to this podcast. This will help you understand what I heard. Because it is; it’s one of those weird things. It just sounds that way, right?
Kristin: Right! And you mentioned your husband, so again, one question we get a lot about the class is that people feel like with hypnosis, it’s internal, even with self-relaxation and visualizations. How is your husband involved in both the class as well as your birth using that technique?
Annette: So in the class, you do all the same exercises. A lot of it is dealing with your fears and just understanding the process, and so men come in with those things, too, right? Maybe not the same ones or different ways, but they still have their expectations of what birth will be. And so I think he found it really helpful to really get an expert explaining what’s really happening, that women’s bodies are made for this. And then also they do all of the “hypnosis” along with the women, so everyone is doing it together. I mean, it would feel really weird if the men or the partners were just sitting there watching, but they’re involved. It was all group things, so he understood what I was doing. There were some exercises that he would sort of help me. I don’t remember the different things, like tapping or different things like that, and so he sometimes played a more active role. But also, I think, if I had gone by myself, he wouldn’t have really understood what I was doing in birth because the way it all ended up, he didn’t do really anything. And so I think he would have been, like, oh, my goodness; I’ve done nothing; nothing’s happened here; I’m useless. But he knew what I was doing. He knew I was inside myself. He knew that I was relaxed. He knew all of those things, and so I think it really helped him just understand what was going on and not be like, “Oh, do I need to do anything?!”
Alyssa: I have not gone through the class. I’ve tried to set myself outside of this as a person listening who doesn’t know what HypnoBirthing is, and I’m thinking it still sounds hokey. So when you say “hypnosis,” what kinds of things are you doing in the class, and why isn’t it hokey?
Annette: Right! Because it works would be the main reason I’d say it’s not hokey. So basically all she does is go through a reading of something, and she uses a very soothing, calm voice, so it’s easy to sort of stop thinking that you’re in this room, in this place. You just close your eyes, and you think about what she’s saying. I think the first one you do, she has you raise your hand as if a balloon is raising you up or something. And so you just kind of realize, like, oh, I can go outside of my brain. I can come back into my self-conscious, or I can sort of disconnect a little bit. And that’s all me. I’m listening to her, right, but it’s all me just choosing what I want to focus on, how I want to move my thoughts or my energy. So I don’t know; it does sound a bit ridiculous, and even in the first class, she’s totally talking about that. She’s like, I know this is weird. I know it sounds weird, but you’re relaxing yourself. Don’t think hypnosis; think relaxation. That’s what you’re doing here. And is there anything better for birth?
Kristin: Exactly, opening up and relaxing — that’s key to it!
Annette: So, yeah, to me, listening to a big explanation of what it really was from an expert was really helpful. These are the steps you can take, and this is how it can benefit you. But for me actually being in the class, it was like, yeah, okay; this is me; this just me relaxing; this is me choosing what I’m thinking about, what I’m focusing on. If I want to think about my fears, that’s going to make me tense up or stress out. Or I can think about a flower opening up, and I’m sure that sounds silly, but that’s sure a lot more relaxing than, “Am I going to go to a C-section?!” It’s what do I want to choose to think about, and how will that help me give birth the way that I want to.
Kristin: And certainly it goes over the basic physiology of what your body is going through, understanding the stages of labor and what’s normal, and for those birthing in the hospital, a little bit about what the hospital experience is like, as well as breastfeeding. So anything an out-of-hospital class would cover, in addition to changing the language of birth. That’s one of the things as a doula that I love the most is just changing some the fear-based words. I mean, contraction already sounds like you’re tensed up, and just looking at “surge” as a more opening, positive word, and not looking at pain. You know, you go to the hospital, and it’s like, what’s your pain threshold. They ask you that, like, ten times during labor. So just sort of changing that language and using affirmations, which I love. Being positive and just being relaxed. And the fear releases you do in task — can you talk a little bit about that experience, of doing a fear release?
Annette: Yeah, that was really interesting. So I think that my husband actually experienced that one more deeply than I did because I remember the whole thing. I remember going in the book and pulling out pages and saying, I’m not going to be afraid of this. This is okay. I already know the facts because we’ve gone over what do I expect. Can my body handle this? Very likely, yes! And so for him, he doesn’t remember it at all. He was so relaxed and so into it that he — which is an interesting aspect. Talking about the different affirmations and stuff, you listen to something that’s about 30 minutes long every night, and to me, that was one of the main things that I really did that was super consistent. I listened to it every single night, and it’s Rainbow Relaxation. So it goes through all these colors of the rainbow, and I think by the second color of the rainbow, I’d be asleep every night. And she was like, that’s totally fine. You can sleep, and it’s relaxing, and you’re still hearing it, and it’s fine. And I remember a couple of times, I would wake up at the end, which means I wasn’t actually asleep, I was just in that super entranced state where I was really relaxed, really in my subconscious and feeling it. And it was just such a weird feeling, because you’re like, oh, my goodness; I was awake this whole time. I was hearing these things, but I didn’t really feel that awake. So it’s amazing what your brain can do and just how relaxed you can really get. So with the fear, I don’t think that I came in with the same fears that a lot of people do. I already had two sisters-in-law go through natural births at birthing centers, so I was kind of like, yeah, this it totally doable. I’m not experiencing terrifying birth stories all the time. I came in with relatively positive expectations. And then going through the actual information part of it, it’s amazing. I mean, she really explains to you what is this; how does it work. Your body is made to do this! Now, I have to caveat that my sister-in-law — another one — her pelvis cannot. It doesn’t work. So it doesn’t work for everyone, but for the vast majority, our bodies can do this. And that was my experience, too. I didn’t do anything for labor. It was just there, and he came out, and there we were. I don’t think that the fear thing for me was the biggest part of it. The biggest thing for me was the relaxation, and even through my whole pregnancy, I had a miserable pregnancy. I had SPD starting at 14 weeks, which is symphysis pubis dysfunction. I could not walk without excruciating pain. I couldn’t put my pants on. I couldn’t do anything; it was just horrible. And I was pretty down about it. It was really frustrating because I was going to be the active, pregnant woman that was going out walking all the time and keeping active, and I just couldn’t. Talking to Ashley about that, she just helped me reframe everything, and the last couple of months of my pregnancy were just completely different. I was so much more positive; I was so much more relaxed and comfortable, and even though there was still pain, I wasn’t just grumpy all the time. And I had been up to that point. I would say my husband was probably really glad we took the HypnoBirthing, even just for my pregnancy. I was just so much more at peace, and it was so, so helpful with that aspect of it. So even before we got to the birth, I already felt like HypnoBirthing is amazing because look at my outlook on this pregnancy. It’s okay.
Alyssa: So you had the ideal birth where you said you didn’t have to do anything; it just happened. So what kind of tips or advise would you give for parents for whom that doesn’t happen or if they know they’re getting a C-section. Would HypnoBirthing still benefit them, and how?
Annette: Oh, absolutely! So first of all, I would not say I had the ideal birth. He came out without my working for it, but I actually had some really intense bleeding the night before. I was planning on a birth center and ended up in a hospital because my midwife just didn’t want to touch this; this is scary; could be placental abruption. You know, we didn’t know. So I checked into a hospital at 6:30 in the morning. We thought I was probably at a 6 or a 7. I wasn’t really having intense surges; I wasn’t feeling that much pain. It was there, but it felt more like Braxton Hicks at that point still; maybe a little stronger. We knew I was in labor. They had found that out before because I had actually been in the hospital earlier that night and went home. So at midnight, my water had broken, and 6:30, I’m in the hospital. We were like, yeah, nothing is really happening yet. But it was still a little scary. I was in the hospital and I didn’t really want to be in the hospital, but they went with my birthing plan, which was like an emergency birthing plan, which unfortunately I had to use. So I’m sitting in this hospital. She turned down the lights for me. She’s doing intake paperwork because I’m not supposed to be there, and I’m answering questions between the surges, and all of a sudden, I felt him move into the birth path, and I was like, oh, I feel him moving down right now. And she’s like, oh, good good! I’m like, no, no, he’s coming! And they were like, okay… And I rolled over away from her; I’m not going to answer any more questions right now. And they checked me, and I was at a 10. And this is six hours or seven hours after my water had broken. So it was so, so fast. He was born 20 minutes later. It was actually too fast. He didn’t get properly squeezed out, so he was vomiting up stuff the next night, which is scary in its own right. So yeah, they were, like, oh, don’t push! I’m like, honestly, anything that happened was involuntary. And then the doctor got there. He came out ten minutes after the doctor was there, and he was there telling me, you might want to hold your breath! And I was like, no, I don’t! I remember that conversation. I remember when he was crowning. They told me, oh, he’s crowning. And I was, like, wait, I thought this was supposed to be a ring of fire. Where’s the fire? And that was my thought while he was crowning. I was just relaxed. That’s all I can say. We did not have time for listening to any of the meditations. We didn’t do anything during the actual birth because even during the night, I was sleeping most of the time. So I feel like I barely did a HypnoBirthing, other than the fact that I was relaxed and I was breathing. And that’s what I really took from all of the classes and all of the work, which is part of the reason I wanted to do this, because it was like, hey, I didn’t even really do it, but it still worked, right? I didn’t spend 12 hours listening to relaxation things and breathing him down. I did breathe him down, but very quickly! So yeah, I had a second degree tear and there was all sorts of other things, but my placenta was getting old. They said that was part of the reason for the bleeding, and so there was reason for concern, which I would also say, the whole time, it was like I didn’t want to go to the hospital, but all right, here we are. I think just the knowledge of everything — I never freaked out. I wasn’t worried. It was just like, okay, well, this is what’s happening now. And just very — I think I was very go with the flow. And my husband and everyone else was kind of freaking out. I was texting my family because they’re in another state. I told them I was going to the hospital because there’s lot of bleeding and they think it might be this and whatever, and they were all freaking out. And then 20 minutes later, we’re sending a picture of a baby. Okay, well, I guess it was okay! So, yeah, it was an ideal birth, and also completely not what I was expecting or planning. I was going to be in a birthing tub all night long, right? That was my plan! But even without going along with the plan, it still was just completely changed how I was approaching everything, how I felt about it, what I was even thinking about. I was thinking about my breath and feeling him in my body. Everything else was so peripheral. Oh, there’s doctors out there. I even remember looking up, like, oh, look at all these faces I have never seen before. I think there were five or six people at the end of the bed! And I was like, all right, well, here we go then! And all of it was so — I just got the inevitability of a birth. It was going to happen. It didn’t matter what I was doing. It didn’t matter what they did. Here we are in this place that I wasn’t planning, and here comes my baby, just exiting my body. And I think after that birth, I really did believe and understand the women giving birth in a coma because it was like honestly — I feel like my body did some pushing. It didn’t feel like it. It didn’t feel like what people explain is a birth. It was just like my body helped him exit.
Kristin: You were breathing your baby down, as we talk about, the birth breath in HypnoBirthing. But of course, we see the movies where everything is traumatic and the woman is screaming. That’s not what the reality of birth is, even with a precipitous birth, which can be a little bit stressful and overwhelming if you haven’t prepared the way you did and having that relaxation. And even with your change of plans, in HypnoBirthing, of course, instead of a birth plan, you talk about birth preferences, so what you would like in an ideal situation, knowing that you may need to be flexible, which you obviously were, and you handled it very well.
Annette: Yeah, sorry, I forget some of the terminology. It’s been a couple of years. But yeah, it was amazing. It was, okay, we’re working with my midwife, so we don’t need to tell her what all we were going to do. We were on the same page already, but I was really glad we actually did walk through all of that and come up with a list of what we really wanted from a birth. And he was on my chest for two hours before they even touched him to do anything. They still followed all of the things that I wanted, and I think that was a really helpful part of the class. I was going into it thinking, “That’s not going to happen to me! I’m not going to be in the hospital!” But I was, and I’m really glad that somebody walked me through just saying what I want, if I’m in the hospital. Just lay it all down.
Alyssa: Having the knowledge and being educated ahead of time, I think, is a big part of releasing fear because you know what to expect “if,” instead of walking into this unknown. And then you would have been panicking because you’re in a hospital; there’s six people that I don’t know at the end of the bed; what’s happening to me? You were kind of like, oh, yeah, we talked about this.
Annette: Yeah, it was very much that way. I know what my body is going to do, so you all can hang out if you want.
Kristin: And we have students that have planned Cesareans that want to eliminate some of that fear or students who then have medical issues and then need a Cesarean. That can certainly be helpful. I mean, the situation you just described is just knowing how to plan, how to relax, to use your breath, regardless of how you birth.
Annette: Yeah, for sure. That would have been such a huge — I mean, I can’t imagine if they had said, hey, you’re in a Cesarean. I know it was all about — got to keep breathing. That’s what I need to think about! I’m just going to keep breathing, and this baby is coming. I’m going to be holding this baby soon. And if somebody, especially with a planned Cesarean — I know these women have so much fear around that. It’s a surgery; that’s a huge thing. And yeah, that class would be so helpful to process all of those fears and to know your body will be okay. You will be okay. Your baby will be okay. You’re going to come through this. I can’t imagine the difference in being in that situation, but with the confidence and the relaxation and all of that, rather than being scared and stressed out. I imagine that would be much more helpful.
Kristin: So, Annette, at what point in your pregnancy did you take HypnoBirthing? It sounds like you had some time to practice. You were saying you were listening to the relaxation tracks at night.
Annette: I think that we were taking it in November, and then he was born in March. We had a couple of months afterwards, which, like I said, was super helpful. Honestly, I would have taken it at the very beginning, after knowing how much it helped me with pregnancy.
Kristin: Yeah, HypnoBirthing is different than a lot of childbirth classes in that it helps to take it earlier in pregnancy so you have time to practice. Of course, we have students who take it right up until their due date and sometimes even go early and miss a few classes.
Annette: Yeah, we had that happen! We lost a student. It happens!
Kristin: But certainly, like you said, to have a few months or even taking it very early in pregnancy, where other classes, you want it fresh on your mind, especially if it’s focused more on movement and positions rather than the whole mind-body-spirit connection. That is one thing that I think is different about HypnoBirthing is it’s not just the physical movement and breath. It’s a focus on your inner being and peace and serenity.
Alyssa: Yeah, it sounds like it’s not just for birth, and I would venture to say that it probably helps — that you probably even think about it now in day to day. Like, it almost helps you when a situation arises just in life?
Annette: Oh, for sure, yeah.
Alyssa: Just breathing and releasing fear in whatever way you’ve come to do that.
Annette: Yeah. And I do meditation now, and I didn’t think that was a cool thing before, but now I’m like, sure, yeah, that sounds great! I want to get back into that space with my mind where I’m in control of things and thinking about what I want to be thinking about. I’m not usually going through the ones the instructor did, but it’s opened me up to that whole world of what can my subconscious do? And a completely unrelated thing; I’m now doing EMDR therapy, which is also very similar in using the relaxation and controlling what you’re thinking about and all of that. And I think I would have thought that was ridiculous, if I hadn’t gone through HypnoBirthing. So yeah, it’s amazing all the different ways in your life that it can continue touching you.
Alyssa: Our brains are powerful. They do a lot of good and bad for us on a day to day basis!
Annette: Definitely, yeah!
Kristin: So it sounds like your class had a mix of birth center, home birthers, and hospital birthers?
Annette: Yes. I don’t think anyone had a planned C-section, but there was a mix of all three of those, yes.
Kristin: And then another question that we get pretty commonly is for people who are very religious, faith-based, would this class be something that they need to steer away from? That’s a common – because of the hypnosis, maybe, but having experienced it yourself, can you address that for us?
Annette: Yeah. I mean, I grew up super religious. I’m not as much anymore, but for sure, I remember that being something. Oh, yeah, hypnosis; that’s something that you would want to stay away from. And this class isn’t that at all. It’s 100% you controlling what you’re thinking about and thinking about what you’re deciding to. It’s just all you. That’s all I can say, right? You’re listening to someone talking, but you’re choosing everything that you’re doing, and all of the images that you’re seeing and everything is what you want to do. So nobody is controlling your mind. Nobody is coming in and saying, drop this pen, and then suddenly you’re dropping pens or whatever. It’s all you, relaxing, choosing what you’re listening to, choosing what you’re going to respond to.
Alyssa: It really sounds no different for a religious person than prayer to me, right? Like, they could almost — it could feel like prayer to them, and they can call it whatever they want to call it: medication, prayer, hypnosis.
Annette: Yeah, it’s relaxation, right? That was the thing that I came away with, especially. It’s relaxing yourself. So if you want to go and learn how to relax yourself, then this is for you.
Kristin: Thank you so much for sharing your experience. Do you have any last words or tips for our listeners?
Annette: If you’re thinking about HypnoBirthing, do it. It’s amazing, truly; 100%, I tell every single pregnant person I meet: have you heard about this thing called HypnoBirthing? And then I tell them my story. It’s a weird one. I didn’t use it the way you’re supposed to, but it still made a huge difference. Even now, I’m like, I don’t know; did I earn the woman badge of giving birth? I feel like I kind of didn’t, but here’s my kid…
Kristin: You totally did!
Annette: So apparently, I did!
Alyssa: There’s the proof!
Annette: but yeah, it’s amazing. It really is, and I think it’s perfect for any birth situation, for anyone who’s going to give birth. Do HypnoBirthing. It really is amazing.
Technology is an amazing tool that we use daily for our work and personal lives, but it can also be the thing that drags us down. We need it, we love it, but we hate it.
It’s time we take a good look at our data usage and figure out what’s draining us. Why not find some parts of technology that are being used for good instead? They do exist. I’m going to give you several options for positive ways to use technology that can actually help you improve your mental health, whether you’re pregnant or not.
This is a free app that helps individuals and couples support their mental and emotional wellbeing while preparing for having a baby or becoming a new parent. It teaches brain education (the importance of mindfulness and meditation), the difference between mindfulness and mindlessness, and gives an overview of a child’s brain development.
This is a guided meditation app for your fertility, pregnancy, and motherhood journey. Their team of licensed hypnotherapists, meditation experts, a psychologist, and a sound engineer have created 10-20 minute meditations customized just for you. This app offers a free trial then requires a paid monthly subscription.
This free app claims to have the largest library of guided meditations in the world. Although it’s not specifically made for pregnancy, it seems to be a great app for meditations and sleep, and it is offered in 30 different languages.
This free app was created by a cardiologist. After having three children she couldn’t find an app for new moms that focused on health and wellness. This app is meant to improve overall health by focusing on fitness, activities that decrease heart disease, ways to be active with your baby and how to create new memories. It provides motivational feedback and highlights positive choices you can make throughout the day.
This app was created to offer new parents a positive way to interact with technology. The goal is to take a few minutes out of your day to reflect on something positive or that you are grateful for. The app leads parents through a positive and affirming conversation, but it will also notice when they are down and offer some reflections to support during struggles. Comments are not monitored by an actual person, so if someone is struggling with severe depression or anxiety this app is not meant to be a replacement for therapy or treatment for mental illness. It’s unclear if this app is free or paid.
This is a free self-care app that they call “a daily pep talk in your pocket”. You will set a self-care goal and get personalized audio challenges and self-improvement audio tracks to help you grow. You will receive texts with researched- backed affirmations to feel more confident.
This app has hundreds of themed meditations on everything from stress and sleep to focus and anxiety. They are “bite-sized” to easily fit into your busy schedule. They also offer what they call “SOS Exercises” for sudden meltdowns. This app offers a free trial and then requires a paid subscription.
Using apps like these can be a great start to boosting your mood, lowering anxiety, or helping you sleep. Please do not substitute professional support for a phone app. If you are struggling with a mental health disorder, please seek the help of a professional therapist. We are able to give some trusted recommendations if needed. If you are struggling as a new parent and need in-home support, contact us about postpartum doula support. If you aren’t sleeping, contact us about our sleep consultations. We offer a discounted rate for postpartum support to anyone seeking treatment for a perinatal mood disorder.
Alyssa is Co-Owner of Gold Coast Doulas. As a Certified Postpartum Doula, Newborn Care Specialist, and Certified Infant & Child Sleep Consultant, she is passionate about the mental health of families during the fragile postpartum period. She is a member of the Healthy Kent Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders Coalition and was recently honored as Health Care Professional of the year by MomsBloom.
Gold Coast Doulas is pleased to announce a guest blog by Dr. Erin Stair on her headbands that are perfect for listening to HypnoBirthing scripts or childbirth playlists. I use them for listening to podcasts like “Ask the Doulas” with Gold Coast Doulas on Soundcloud and Itunes.
Erin is the creator of ZENBands, ZENTones, author of Manic Kingdom, and the founder of bloomingwellness.com. She writes all of the blogs at blooming wellness and interviews all of the guests, with the hopes of building an intersection between science and wellness. She is a graduate of West Point, where she was recruited to play soccer, and after the Army, went on to medical school, earned her medical degree, and then received the Global Health Leadership scholarship from New York University, which she used to earn her Masters of Public Health. She has a keen interest in population-level interventions for stress, depression, obesity, anxiety, and disease reduction in general, and for the last several years, has served as the chief of research for an international digital health company. She lives in New York City and is always working on her next book.
I’ve always been very interested in noninvasive, natural anxiety-reducing techniques and how effective they are during stressful times. My interest led me into the world of sound therapy, particularly binaural beats, or what some call phantom beats. Many people listen to binaural beats to help reduce stress, anxiety, induce sleep and boost mood. The scientific body of evidence for binaural beats isn’t robust, but there is no shortage of anecdotal evidence, and I’m betting this will be a hotbed for future research. After talking to a few scientists and sound engineers, I began designing my own binaural arrangements ( ZENTones) including arranging different frequencies of sounds with sequences of tones. I held several focus groups during which volunteers, mainly veterans with PTSD, listened to the arrangements of sounds to see if various ones improved sleep quality, reduced anxiety or boosted mood. Many folks listened while lying down and a recurring theme in feedback sessions was that their headphones or earbuds were uncomfortable. Their ears hurt after lying down, and the headphones/earbuds were painful or too heavy. Their feedback was my inspiration for creating the ZENBand.
I wanted to create something simple, lightweight, eco-friendly, and portable that would help make listening to the ZENTones more comfortable. I also wanted to include tenets of color therapy in our design, since color significantly impacts mood. Hence, the ZENBand , a headband and speakers combo, was born. We use cotton for the bands for two reasons: Cotton is lightweight, and unlike many artificially-designed cooling fabrics, polyester and fleece, cotton does not contain microplastics. There are flat, lightweight, custom-made pillow speakers inside the band that can be removed and easily plug into phones, laptops or MP3 players. They truly feel like cushions for the ears. We also get them made in a variety of colors, so folks can find one that suits their mood. The speakers are purposely not noise-canceling, as we want people to be able to hear others around them, especially since a lot of folks wear them at night. You still want the ability to hear noises, alarms, kids crying or dogs barking. Furthermore, ZENBands can also act as eye masks to help keep out ambient light and reduce anxiety. Light can aggravate anxiety and stress. Based on feedback, the next version coming out this Spring will be a little wider, to make it easier to pull the ZENBand over the eyes and optimize the relaxation response.
While most of our customers used the ZENTones and ZENBand for anxiety, travel, or sleep, one time I received a message from a woman who was pregnant and close to giving birth. She asked if I could expedite shipping, because she planned on wearing the ZENBand for hypnosis during labor. I wasn’t sure what she was talking about, but after receiving several more orders with a similar request, I started researching relaxation techniques for pregnant women. They included deep breathing exercises, pregnancy cards, prenatal yoga, positive affirmations, guided meditations and hypnosis. I even talked to Ob/Gyn doctors and midwives who mentioned noticing reduced anxiety and fear levels in women in labor who used one of the aforementioned anxiety reducing technique during pregnancy.
That was a few years back and now we get orders from pregnant women all over the world. We work with a lot of birth professionals and birth centers. Women have sent us photos of them in labor, wearing their ZENBands, and it’s pretty awesome. We love being part of the birth process, even if it’s just a tiny part in making women more comfortable. A lot of women write us and tell us that they love that the ZENBand allows them to listen to their relaxation scripts or birthing music while also keeping their hair and sweat out of their eyes. I should note that the ZENBand is not Bluetooth, as we feel more comfortable with reducing EMF exposure so close to one’s head, and we want to make sure that people always have access to their sounds/affirmations when they need them most. Bluetooth doesn’t always work well in every location, including hospital rooms. Also, phones can be a big distraction when it comes to relaxing. Phones can be a huge source of anxiety and listening sessions can be interrupted with incoming calls or the impulse to jump on Social Media or check your messages. To help eliminate those impulses, reduce anxiety and enhance relaxation, we recommend using the ZENBand with an old-fashioned Mp-3 player. It can be pleasantly refreshing and a much needed break from our phones.
To check out ZENBands and ZENTones, please visit us at bloomingwellness.com. As a token of our appreciation, please use code ZEN for a first-time customer discount.
Erin Stair, MD, MPH, founder of Bloomingwellness.com
*Note: Gold Coast was not compensated for promoting this product. It is one we personally use and recommend.