I will never, ever forget the day 10 years ago when I went to hospital with malaria-like symptoms, my then boyfriend tagging along.
Freshly out of university, winding up my first year of corporate employment and relishing the money and freedom, I thought I had the world in the palms of my ambitious hands.
But the doctor’s words almost shattered my very promising world. “You are pregnant.”
I was not ready for motherhood, let alone the pregnancy experience. I immediately got plunged into a whirlwind of ghastly images.
SQUIRMED IN MY SEAT
I squirmed in my seat when I thought of all the horror stories I had heard about childbirth: The excruciating long hours of labour pains, my entire body laden with ceaseless, agonising contractions.
I imagined my lady parts ripping open as a human head forced its way through the tiny opening and into the world.
That is not just my story, but most women’s.
As little doll-embracing girls blossom into teenagers, the countless terrifying birthing stories start rolling in, the intention in some cases to deter these hormone-packed youngsters from engaging in sexual acts early in life.
By the time the girls mature into adults, the damage is done.
Deeply embedded in their minds is the daunting belief that childbirth is a distressing process they are inevitably saddled with.
Cowards like me opt for elective C-sections while others seek medical interventions like an epidural to lessen the expected pain.
But let’s pause there and ask ourselves, did God intend childbirth to be such anguish for us? The Good Book states that Eve might have eaten the forbidden fruit much to the creator’s dismay; but does that warrant the severe penalty during childbirth for the entire womenfolk?
Fact number one, most women look forward to getting attached in committed relationships; and, fact number two, bringing forth kids remains one of the greatest achievements that women work towards.
So is the excruciating birthing experience an inexorable ordeal for those intending to walk the motherhood path?
I have recently discovered that childbirth need not be as agonising as we have been socialised to think. Just like in other animal’s, the human body knows just what to do to bring forth a baby in the most natural, peaceful and beautiful manner.
This knowledge was imparted to me by a hypnobirthing expert and coach, Mrs Yvonne Meyer-Omondi.
Hypnobirthing comes from two words, hypnosis and birthing. As the words suggest, there is a massive element of self-hypnosis, in labour and childbirth.
This involves training the mind to believe that a woman’s body has the ability to bring a baby into the world in a calm and gentle manner without the need for any pain relief or medical interventions.
This is not to say that hypnobirthing equates to painless birthing, but in consideration of the psychological and physical wellbeing of the mother, newborn and birth partner, a hypnobirthing course prepares the mother to accept and embrace whatever childbirth brings in a confident and empowered manner.
Under the progamme, a woman can choose to give birth in a hospital, at a birth centre or at home, in an environment she feels most comfortable.
The hypnobirthing course places emphasis on special breathing, relaxation, visualisations, meditative practice, nutrition and positive body toning.
Interesting to note is that some words normally used in labour and childbirth have been altered to give them a more friendly appeal.
The word surge replaces contractions while the word breathing replaces pushing.
Under hypnobirthing, a positive mental image is already painted in the mother’s mind over time.
She is aware of what’s happening, confident of her body’s ability to handle the situation, and empowered to the extent of feeling very much in control.
WHAT THE COACH WILL DO...
A hypnobirthing coach will typically train the mother and birth partner on self-hypnosis.
This involves making visualisations and positive affirmations regarding the expected childbirth.
The visualisations are relatable pleasant images of nature that the mother compares with the birthing process going on in her body.
Affirmations, on the other hand, are positive thoughts about childbirth that the mother wishes to have. Also written down and recited regularly, they help develop a positive mindset about the birthing experience.
Over time, due to the repeated reciting of the affirmations, the mother’s mind will get accustomed to the positive mental stimulation. Breathing techniques are crucial elements in a hypnobirthing course as they help with relaxation, especially during the surges.
Inhaling deeply on four counts and exhaling slowly on eight is just one of the breathing techniques to adopt during childbirth.
An important aspect of hypnobirthing is the birthing positions.
The UFO (Upright Forward Open) method is used.
Hypnobirthing experts argue that the birth canal is J-shaped, this means that the baby glides down, and up, finally over the pelvis.
Hence when a mother lies flat during childbirth, the opening closes by 30 per cent! The upright position works with gravity, making labour easier for the mother.
Immediately the baby is born, it is held against the mother’s chest for skin-to-skin contact.
This is the magical moment where the hormone of love, oxytocin, is released in abundance.
The unbreakable bond between mother and child is instantly created.
Ten years ago, I wish I knew about hypnobirthing, I would have made a different, more informed decision.