So while I was pregnant I started reading Mongan’s HypnoBirthing book because I know a lot of natural birthing-moms really like that method. I couldn’t explain the whole method well, but let’s just say that moms who use this method use visualization and concentration to relax their bodies to the point of apparently not feeling pain at all. In fact, the book emphasizes the importance of ridding the mind of preconceived ideas about childbirth– namely, that it’s painful–in order to free the mind and body for birth. In other words, if you don’t think it will be painful, it won’t be. And granted, the method seems to work. A lot of women claim to have had pain-free births.
Well, God bless ’em.
Even though I had a good attitude and a very positive curiosity about this method, once I began reading the book, I kind of started to reject the idea. I just can’t seem to fully swallow the idea that if something feels painful to me, that I shouldn’t call it for what it is. I guess it seems unfair to me that I should feel something painful and not be able to say, “I feel pain right now.” Now, I totally get the Grantly Dick-Reed philosophy of the inter-relationship between fear-pain-tension. (we fear pain, which makes our bodies tense, which increases pain) But just because I recognize something as painful does not necessitate that I fear it, don’t accept it, or don’t willfully prevent my body from tensing up as a result. This is why we do relaxation exercises, right? Because the natural tendency is to tense up when we feel pain and when we are afraid. And in childbirth education we train our bodies to relax under those circumstances. We practice mantras such as Hurt Not Harm, or Open The Door Let The Pain In. In fact, this is what Hypnosis does too, only the word pain is not used.
As I self-reflect on this experience I’ve started to realize that maybe my insistence to hold on to my right to pain is associated more with my sense of drama. Ever since my first birth, I fantasize about the dramatic nature of it. A woman’s labor and delivery is really a beautiful story arc, complete with a rising action, a climax, and a denoument. The pageant, if you will, of childbirth is so beautiful. This is one reason I did not want to anesthetize myself through it. You miss all that drama if you take the pain away.
Perhaps the same could be said of hypnosis. The women who use this method describe a peaceful, pain-free birth. It all sounds great… for them. I think maybe I just love the drama. Now don’t get me wrong– I don’t want real drama, like with ambulances or plunging heart rates or medical intervention. No thank you. But the natural drama of a healthy, normal, natural birth is just thrilling. I’ll take the pain with the adventure. It’s worth it.