Family Magazine

Hypnobirthing. I Failed You.

By Guerrillamom @mariaguido
God, I wanted a natural birth.
I was a woman consumed.  I watched all of the documentaries.  I learned about all of the techniques to employ so I too, could experience this pain-free birth that women kept saying was possible.  One class kept appearing in the natural birth forums - hypnobirthing.
Hypnobirthing is the use of hypnotic techniques during labor by an expectant mother to reduce the pain and emotional stress of delivery.
My doe-eyed, optimistic  pregnant lady response was, Great!  I want reduced pain and emotional stress!  I'm going to give this a try!  I found a local course, sent a check for $350, and anxiously awaited my first session.

We arrived at a cute little brownstone in Brooklyn Heights.  Naturally, it was above a holistic massage center, and the room itself doubled as a yoga studio.  Perfect.  We filed in with the other couples, took off our shoes, and found our places in the circle.
The first few sessions were filled with a bunch of reading aloud from Hypnobirthing Made Easy, the course required reading.  The room we were in was steaming hot because the instructor didn't feel like "competing" with the hum of the AC.  I was becoming increasingly annoyed that I had payed someone to read aloud from a book that I already owned.  I pressed on, confident that later sessions would teach me how to hypnotize myself through the pain of childbirth.
We finally got to our first hypnosis session.  Score!  I was so excited to test the waters, and see how suggestive I was.  Our instructor began:
Close your eyes.  Relax your lids, relax your jaw.  Relax into your seat. Now imagine, visualize, or pretend that you are standing on a staircase. There are ten steps that you will walk down-each step will take you deeper and deeper. There’s a hand railing for you to hold on to-staring at step ten going deeper and deeper.  Nine, deeper and deeper.  Eight, deeper and deeper.  Seven, deeper and deeper...
Now, look down at your hand.  You are aware of your hand.  You know it belongs to your body.  Notice that you cannot move your hand.  You are unable to move your hand, but this does not scare you.  You approach this with acceptance.
Meanwhile, back in reality, I am wildly waving my hand- because I can.  I look up and glance around the room.  I look at my husband first.  He is fucking sleeping.  Then I look around the circle.  I am the only one cheating and looking, everyone else has their eyes shut and is moving nothing.  I look back down at my hand.  Yes, I am aware of my hand.  I am aware that it has no problem moving.  What the hell?
I am now going to count back from ten.  When I finish, you will open your eyes, be in this room, and regain full control of your hand.  Ten, nine, eight...
I pinch my husband to wake him up and wait for all of the fakers to "be in the room."  Our instructor opens up the floor, so we can all share our experience with the hypnosis.
Wow, that was so relaxing.  I can't believe I couldn't move my hand.
At every number I felt myself going deeper and deeper, like I was walking into a lake. 
What?  I wasn't going to say anything, because I hate failing - but I couldn't help myself.
I could move my hand.  I could totally move my hand.  In fact, I can't imagine a time when I would be conscious, and not be able to totally move my hand.  That would never happen.  
Maria, have you always had issues with control?
Touché, lady.  Touché. Hypnobirthing.  I failed you.

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