Before I got pregnant, childbirth represented for me what it represents for many women - a land of fear and pain. It was something I dared not fathom until I was on the train and realized I had to get off.
When I first learned about Hypnobirthing®, and then took the classes with Karen, my ideas of how this new life was going to emerge softened and I became optimistic. I had visions of a home birth, quiet and candle lit, and I allowed them to guide me through the pregnancy.
But these visions were compromised when I fell ill with high blood pressure at 33 weeks. The home birth was soon out of the question, and before long, there was persistent talk of a pre-term induction. Terror struck, worse than it had before the pregnancy, and I felt paralyzed... until my midwife said, "Turn to Hypnobirthing® again. It is more important now than ever." And she was absolutely right. I listened to the CD's until I knew them by heart and I practiced the meditation and the breathing, without fail, every day. I wanted very much to have a natural childbirth and I gathered all the tools I could find to do so.
My husband and I successfully warded off an induction until I was exactly 37 weeks. On that day, my blood pressure hit a new high and we found out that I had already begun to dilate, so we agreed to have my waters released.
While in early labour, I quietly settled into the breathing patterns and the meditation. My husband brought white, twinkling Christmas lights to the hospital, my fluffy duvet, pyjamas, a lavender eye pillow and speakers for the Hypnobirthing® CD's. To the hospital staff's surprise, I dilated steadily and gave birth 11 hours later, without any other intervention - outside of my midwife's creativity at the end when our son seemed to stop for a latte in the birth canal.
Then at 2:50am on June 29, a magical little boy was born into my husband's arms... and when he laid him on my chest, he filled my heart with rapture.
Hypnobirthing® helped us to accept the turns our journey would take and to remember that it was indeed our birth to have.
Thank you, Karen.
—N, L and J
The birth went very well. I found the HypnoBirthing® strategies to be awesome, particularly while I was dilating. I had my first contraction around 2 am, called the midwife at 7 am and was seven to eight centimetres dilated when she arrived shortly before 8 am. I felt very calm throughout this process. Once I was fully dilated around 9 am, I lay on my side in my sleeping position and started to have contractions that I wouldn't describe as an "urge to push" so much as a powerful downward undulation that rocked through my entire torso and pelvis.
Unfortunately, my two very experienced midwives who were otherwise fantastic instructed me to do some traditional pushing at this point and in the moment I was fairly open to suggestion. Matt was amazing through this whole process, although we both would be more assertive next time. The pushing totally stalled my labour (I pushed lying on my back and using a birthing stool) and the contractions became less frequent and weakened. The midwives decided we should go to the hospital (I forgot to mention that I had decided to try to have a home birth) because they thought I might need pitocin. Actually, the trip across town in the ambulance (no sirens) was the best thing for me because I was able to lie on my side and rest for a few contractions and after about fifteen minutes the contractions became full-on again in that relaxed position. The ambulance drivers thought I was going to give birth right there in the ambulance. The baby dropped substantially and I was able to deliver him without any pitocin about 40 minutes after arriving at the hospital. We didn't see a single doctor.
The birth deviated a bit from my "master plan" because of the pushing and stalled contractions, but I did accomplish my goal to have the baby without drugs and overall I feel very satisfied about how it went as well as much more experienced. I will recognize those effective contractions for what they are next time and will insist on remaining in a favourable position until the baby moves down naturally. Sheamus did come out with some bruising on the back of his head, probably from the ineffective pushing, but was alert and breast feeding twenty minutes later. We have recommended HypnoBirthing® to other people already.
—Meaghan & Matt
Thanks again for an excellent course. It definitely made a different in the birth of our new son. Sarah went into labour August 28 at 3:00am. We called our doctor at 9:00am and she recommended we come in at 12:00pm to see how far along Sarah was. She was 5 cm dilated. We elected to go home for other 5 hours till when our doctor was on call then goto the hospital. At 7:30pm in the hospital, Sarah was 9.5 cm dilated when our doctor arrived. Sarah was so calm that the doctor and nurses had to ask if she was having a contraction. We went into stage 2 at 9:00pm and Hart was born at 9:56pm. He was pretty calm on arrival and has been since which I am sure is the result of how he came into the world. Everyone at the hospital was so impressed with Sarah and thought she was a prefect example of natural childbirth. Our doctor even said that she would be recommending you and HypnoBirthing®.
Thank you and take care.
—John P Christensen
"I turn my birthing over to my baby and my body."
That is the affirmation that stuck with me as I HypnoBirthed® our beautiful baby boy into the world this summer. And it really helped. He had a mind of his own, as everyone does, and decided to come five days early.
I woke up at 3:25 am with contractions that were five minutes apart. This is when they tell you to go to the hospital. Instead I spent 12 hours labouring at home... in the bath, walking around my neighbourhood and in my backyard.
It was a beautiful day.
I was calm and relaxed, which was needed for my 20 hours of labour. I didn't ever have doubt or feel overwhelmed by the process. Don't get me wrong, it's hard work, but I knew I was safe and prepared to bring my baby into the world naturally.
My husband and I both easily assumed our roles with the breathing and relaxation techniques. I surrendered to the process and our son arrived at 11:13 pm. Now he is a calm and relaxed baby.
HypnoBirthing® is an amazing tool and if practised can allow you to give birth to your baby naturally and exactly how you want to.
Even before becoming pregnant, I was adamant about not having an epidural due to the experiences of family members on both sides. Plus, I'm not exactly crazy about needles - especially really long ones! When I first heard about HypnoBirthing® I thought that it could be the answer that I was looking for and I'm happy to say that I was right. My husband and I found HypnoBirthing® a great labouring tool as it helped to keep me relaxed - so relaxed that only in retrospect did I realize that I was in early labour and my water broke the day before giving birth.
The day I gave birth, I felt strong surges at 7:30 am, checked into the hospital by 11:30 am and was holding my baby shortly after 2pm - something I attribute to the fear release exercise from class. I only wished that I had been able to hold down my breakfast that morning so that I would have the energy to use the birth breathing more effectively! Regardless, I'm quite happy about my birthing experience and I'll never forget how it felt to finally hold our baby girl.
I originally sought yoga for staying relaxed during the “pain” of labor because I wanted an unmedicated labor and delivery and was hoping for as little intervention as possible. I was introduced to HypnoBirthing® as a tool during one of Karen’s yoga classes. I read the book, listened to the CD and practiced some of the techniques on my own. In addition, Karen provided a lot of guidance regarding the approach and techniques through her doula services.
I found the HypnoBirthing® approach, with its focus on the mind-body connection, to be very close to yoga and meditation practice. In one session, Karen asked me to decide in my mind how I was going to experience the surges (contractions) and how long I wanted my labor to be. I told myself I was willing to experience intensity and tightening, but not pain, and that I wanted a five-hour labor. At the time, I still thought it was a bit far fetched to do this, but in the end, it turned out I had a pretty painless labor that was about five-and-a-half-hours long!
When I arrived at the hospital the nurses and doctors were quite disbelieving when they realized I was 8 cm dilated but not exhibiting any of the “normal” signs of pain in labor. I hadn’t realized I was in labor either as I kept experiencing the surges as not that different from the benign Braxton-Hicks’ contractions I’d been feeling all through my later stages of pregnancy.
Karen’s presence during the birth was phenomenal. She completely shifted the hospital environment into a more relaxed setting (tea lights, lavender, music magically appeared out of her bag). At critical moments during the labor, she was able to provide insight and interact with us and the medical staff so that the focus stayed on my desire for minimal intervention and on my being relaxed enough to let my body and the baby do what they needed to do.
My experience with HypnoBirthing® was quite powerful. I had a beautiful natural birth after 10.5 hours of quiet labour that passed very swiftly. My actual labour and delivery were smooth and relaxed with no interventions. I was able to move through the different phases calmly and experienced little to no pain. Most importantly to me, however, I felt completely present in my body and in the experience of birthing my daughter. I felt prepared for the birthing process and empowered in it. It was a beautiful experience which we will always cherish. My first few weeks of motherhood were calm and peaceful. Despite all the excitement, business and new challenges that came, I felt grounded and utilized what I had learned when I needed to rediscover my balance. Karen’s yoga class was a vital component of my preparation. It created a space in my busy week to reflect on my pregnancy, be mindful of my body’s changes, connect with my growing baby and meet with other pregnant women. The classes helped ease discomforts and anxiety, and educated me about my body from pregnancy through delivery. Indeed it facilitated my ability to reach a deep meditative space and calm myself during both labour & deliver. It also helped me strengthen my body in new ways that helped me heal after delivery. It is a great gift to give your child to be present in their life. Karen’s support helped me to be a mother who was present for my child’s entry into the world and as we get to know one another face-to-face.
—Máiri McKenna Edwards
I think this makes it unanimous - HypnoBirthing® works. I felt restless at around 2:30 in the morning and when I went to the bathroom, I noticed that the trickle wouldn't stop. Uh ooo. "Ashley? I think my water broke?"
I heard noises that sounded like a wrestling match between Ashley and the bed sheets before he arrived at the door wide eyed - "What did you say?" he said in a calm voice. As if he didn't hear me.
We called our doula (Karen) and went to the hospital. In spite of the nurse who didn't want me to get out of bed, Ashley was assertive and made sure I was given the opportunity to stand up and use the birthing ball. I was able to relax and breathe which proved very effective because before I knew it, Ashley opened the door and told the nurse "I can see the head". Great news. Not long now. But for the nursing staff this was cause to sound the alarm and grab the first doctor around. Somebody had to deliver our babies. As the staff scrambled, I was calm - no matter what, these babies will come.
I thought it was particularly funny after William was born when I told the doctor about the second baby - "There's another? Somebody needs to brief me," she said. Within 15 minutes, Genevieve arrived.
What a phenomenal experience. I'm so glad that I got to experience child birth this way.
One thing we learned was that the nurses have no way to gauge your progression if you're not squirming and screaming. They were taken totally off guard by our birth. At the same time, they were very impressed by the HypnoBirthing® technique.
Taking HypnoBirthing® with Karen turned out to be a great decision. My wife delivered twins with no epidural and without the pain I used to associate with childbirth. The techniques we learned in HypnoBirthing® made all the difference. From my perspective as the father, I found the classes helped prepare me to be an asset instead of just a bystander as she made her way through labour. The name HypnoBirthing® may put some people off, but the class was nothing like the show hypnotism I have seen. I am a complete convert and have told everyone I know about it. Take the class, believe you can do it, and I hope you will be as thrilled as we were with the result.
Sage's little baby brother arrived now 2 weeks ago today. He was born at home in the pool. The labour was incredible, and honestly I can easily imagine having another, which is not at all what I said after Sage's birth- so it's a huge testimony to the HypnoBirthing® program.
His arrival was very fast- at 6am I was wondering if I should give a heads up to our midwife... but I really wasn't sure as I was having regular 5 minute surges but so light that I wasn't at all sure it was labour... At 7:30 we were eating breakfast with Sage wondering what we should do...should James go to work or not, should we find a sitter for Sage? .....we still weren't sure.
Then at 8 I called a friend- could Sage come over? I said I'd let her know when we figured out if and when we needed her... and fifteen minutes later I thought, yes, we'd better take Sage out. So James and Sage headed to our friend's place and the moment they stepped out the door I suddenly flew into full on, back to back surges. There never was time to call to say they were on their way. It was incredibly intense- I just stood there in the kitchen, projecting a different colour with each surge, waiting for James to get back.
When he got home a half hour later I told him to call the midwife, who was still on her way, to tell her I was ready for him to be born. And lo, by 10 am he was here, born into water in the pool, in a most sacred, sweet and amazing way. All in all it was about 2 hours of intensity. Wow. With warmth and a smile, wishing everyone well in the discovery of parenthood and pregnancy.
We had our baby boy on Friday afternoon, at home, after an amazing labour. I found the affirmations and the rainbow relaxations very helpful during labour and really focused on doing the slow breathing during active labour which helped a lot. I spent a lot of time in the tub. Best wishes for easy births to all and thank you to Karen.
Amazing relaxed birth. First signs started on Tuesday night, I thought just beginning - early Labour; it continued Wednesday, I still visited my co-workers at lunch and felt great... then, I went back home, and there was still the labour. I thought it is early labour and thought that it might be painful at the REAL labour - then I called Christian at noon.... We went to the hospital (1.00 o clock), I was 10cm!!!!!!!!!!!! Could not believe it, I still went up by myself to the triage room and the birth room... there was just this immense feeling to push - I made a good mix of pushing and J-breathing. It was fast, amazing and just without words!!! Thanks Karen for the great support... no inducement, no hours of waiting... so we made the right decision when the doc tried to induce me on Monday, one day before due date. not to go!!! Take care.
—Franca, Sophie & Christian
Karen is a great person to lead the HypnoBirthing® class. She is down to earth and practical, and she has a fantastic voice that is wonderful to listen to when she guides meditations. She is also very experienced and dedicated to the arts of helping make childbirth a more joyful experience. I attended her prenatal yoga class which also added to the ease of the birth; at the point of our son emerging into the world I was thinking about all the mothers that have gone before, and the chants from Karen's yoga class were in my mind. The birth was truly a beautiful experience- something that made me want to have such a chance to be in such an amazing process again. This is perhaps the most important testimony because what got me into the HypnoBirthing® class in the first place was the fear that the birth would be as shocking to my system as the birth of our first child, almost 3 years ago. I am very happy to say that the only ‘shock’ was how easy and wonderful a birth can be. Thank you to all those that have worked to make a space for a different kind of birthing reality. It really does feel like reclaiming a natural birthright for mother's and for their babies.