I was sound asleep when Kenley woke me up a couple of weeks ago to let me know that Kate Middleton had gone into labor. I quickly fell back asleep (I hear I’m not going to get much of it in about four months), but the next day I checked my Twitter feed obsessively, awaiting the news that she had delivered.
I’m not an avid royal watcher, but I am still a media hound who’s fascinated by the latest breaking story.
And this was personal.
There had been several reports that Kate — or the Duchess of Cambridge, if we must be formal — had chosen to use a method called Hypnobirthing for the arrival of her first-born child. And Kenley and I just so happened to be attending our third Hypnobirthing class the very day the future king was born.
I wanted to know how long Kate had been in labor. I was looking for evidence that Hypnobirthing actually worked.
If you’re a loyal Shellevation follower, you’ll remember that I left a recent pre-pregnancy OB-GYN visit with three fliers: one for a fertility specialist, one for an acupuncturist and one for a hypnotherapist.
We loved the fertility specialist, and I still look forward to my weekly acupuncture appointments, but I had put off calling the hypnotherapist — perhaps because I wanted to delay for as long as possible the thought of giving birth to the growing boy now making himself known daily in my belly.
Then, Kenley found an article on Yahoo about Kate Middleton and Hypnobirthing. Kate reportedly had used the relaxation techniques to help her overcome her morning sickness and planned to use it to give birth. (A follow-up article — “If Kate Middleton uses Hypnobirthing, Should You?” — also was posted on Yahoo).
The first article quotes Alisha Tamburri — “a Los Angeles Hypnobirthing practitioner whose clients have included Jessica Alba, Bridget Fonda, Melissa Joan Hart, Alanis Morisette and Emily Deschanel.”
The same woman whose flier was still sitting on my kitchen table!
I called her the following Monday and signed up for her next class.
In the video below Jessica Alba tells Ellen about her experience with Hypnobirthing:
The theory of Hypnobirthing is that women have been conditioned since, well, the story of Adam and Eve to believe that giving birth is painful — is even supposed to be painful. This can lead moms to feel scared, stressed and tense, which leads to long and painful births. The theory is that if you are able to release your fear and to deeply relax, trusting that your body knows what to do, you can experience an easier, faster and more comfortable birth — without medication.
Hypnobirthing uses neutral words like “waves” and “surges” in place of painful-sounding “contractions.” “Birthing” is substituted for “delivery” (Alisha says pizzas, not babies, are delivered).
And there’s no “pushing.” Instead, Hypnobirthing moms “breathe the baby down.”
You learn different slow-breathing techniques — none of which requires you to pant — as well as visualization exercises. You’re encouraged to walk, sit on a birthing ball, and get in the shower or bathtub during labor. Alisha even told the dads to pack swim trunks and a beer or two in a cooler.
“Sounds like a beach party,” Kenley told me.
OK, it’s not going to be that easy.
Alisha often reminds us that what we expect tends to become realized. So we’re taught exercises to help us release negative thoughts and fears about giving birth. She also asks us to visualize the calm, comfortable, joyful, healthy birth that we want.
We were convinced of the power of suggestion during an exercise in the first class, when Alisha had us close our eyes and stretch our arms out in front of us. She told us to “picture, visualize, imagine” that someone was stacking one book after another onto our left hands, and that someone was giving us helium balloons to hold with our right hands.
When we opened our eyes at the end of the exercise, our left hands were by our sides, weighed down by the “books,” and our right hands had risen up next to our ears, without any conscious effort.
The best part about the Hypnobirthing classes is that the dads learn how to hypnotize the moms! Now, some of you might be worried about what your husband could do with this power, but you’re not unconscious when you’re hypnotized, and no one can make you do something you don’t want to do. Instead, you remain aware of your surroundings but learn to deeply relax your body and your mind.
One of my favorite hypnosis scripts asks you to close your eyes and relax as “all the little worry lines around your eyes and across your forehead begin to fade and disappear.” During another, you visualize being on your favorite beach and are told that “you look good and feel good.” And in another, you’re told that the more you let go, the more you relax; and the more you relax, the more you’re in control.
Dads also learn light-touch massage, which releases feel-good endorphins that act as your body’s own natural pain medication.
So when the birth of the future king was announced, I was happy to learn that Kate had been in labor for a little more than 10 hours, short of the 16-hour average — and especially impressive for a first-born who weighed almost 9 pounds!
There have been few reports about how the birth actually went, but at this point it really isn’t that important to me anymore. I feel much more prepared and confident about the birth of my own first-born.