Friday, September 21, 2007

Hippie Dippie Birthing in Portland

The conversation that started off our foreay into hippie dippie birthing didn't start well. I was just barely a month pregnant and Scott and I were hiking with George. Scott suggested that women in non-western countries give birth all the time and it seems so easy, whereas images of western births are filled with a lot of huffing and puffing, swearing at husbands, purple faces, and screaming -- in short, they are filled with images of pain. I shut the conversation down, suggesting that when he could squeeze a watermelon out of a pea, we would revisit the conversation (not perhaps one of my most giving moments).

But it made me think. I had been practicing some killer yoga and through it I was finding that I could control muscles in my body I thought otherwise uncontrollable -- i.e. making that krinkle between my eyebrows go away. I also knew the power of positions like pigeon and frog to help you breathe through pain. What if one could use relaxation, breathing, and knowledge to work with your body during childbirth rather than allowing fear and tension create pain?

So we reopened the conversation, and found a solution in Hypnobabies -- also called our "hippie dippie" birthing class by our friends Joe & Molly. Hypnobabies relies on a combination of deep relaxation, hypnosis, and re-programming to enable women to work with their bodies during child birth. The antithesis is letting fear and tension work against your natural process, creating pain. Breath and deep breathing is an important element in hynobirthing, and is contrasted against the hyper-ventilating breathing techniques seen in movies. Who could sustain hours of hard exercise while hyperventilating?

Utlimately our goal is an easy childbirth -- but embedded in the hynobabies technique is a natural childbirth -- i.e. no drugs. I'd prefer not to be numb during the process -- I also can't imagne how this could help all that work -- and I also like the benefits of having a child born without drugs (apparently they sleep better and tend to be more 'chill' while awake).

We see a lot of video and footage of hypno-enabled births and its pretty convincing. Women laughing through child birth; women getting up and walking around after having given birth. Women not showing any signs of pain. I have to say, I'd like to be on those women.

We're in our 4th week of classes -- which require three hours of class work over six weeks and daily practice. The practice is having profound side effects which make me happy and make me chuckle. Side effect #1 is a very relaxed Eli. I will go into self-induced hypnosis for at least 30 minutes a day. According to some, this is the equivalent of a three hour nap. The result is that I have a ton of energy, and while I'm into my third trimester (when baby is suppose to be zappy my energy), I'm not sure I've ever felt better in my life. I am walking to work, attending regular pilates, and still putting in long hours at the Fund. I am also sleeping marvelously -- which is unusual. Side effect #2 is a very optimistic Eli. This is a result of the reprogramming -- daily affirmations that I listen to while working to work, cooking dinner, etc. The affirmations reinforce positive thinking -- i.e. I'm healthy, the baby is healthy, and we're going to have a healthy, natural, and easy child birth process. Within a few days of listening to these affirmations, I realized that any anxiety I had had about my pregnancy had disappeared. I also realized that across the board, I was looking at the world in a more positive way.

They say 'where the mind goes, the body will follow.' I'm one to believe that these days, as the proof is in the pudding. Who knows how it will all unfold, but right now, I'm OKAY with having joined the hippie dippie contigency in Portland. My parents will be so proud :)