Friday, October 12, 2012

20. HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method

By Marie F. Mongan

The Wikipedia sums up the theory of HypnoBirthing as follows:

Hypnotherapy during childbirth is based on the theory that to experience an easy and comfortable birth, women need to have an understanding of the way in which the uterus functions naturally during normal childbirth when unencumbered by fear, along with the ill-effects of the fear-tension-pain cycle on the birthing process. Birthing women and their support partners are taught non-pharmcological strategies, such as relaxation, meditation and visualisation, that allow the body to birth normally without restrictions to assist in pain free, easier, more comfortable birthing. 

What I found most interesting was how Mongan looked at the history of birth, drawing from historical sources like Childbirth Without Fear published in 1942 by obstetricians Grantly Dick-Read and Michel Odent.  In the past it was midwives who were responsible for helping the laboring woman give birth. At some point in the post-Industrial Revolution, the role of midwives were taken over by men and eventually became medicalized.

During this transformation, much valuable knowledge was lost or overlooked, and pregnancy and childbirth became a medical condition, mostly due to the belief that women’s bodies were imperfect. Worse, pain during childbirth was regarded to be normal and expected, and thus, the fear of childbirth was born. This becomes a self-fulfulling cycle since if you’re afraid, you’ll naturally tense up, which then greatly impedes the birthing process.

As much as I found HypnoBirthing fascinating, I did not read the later chapters which explains how to practice the breathing exercises and relaxation techniques.  It is just as well because now having experienced my own labour and birth, there was no way I was going to transcend the blinding pain that I went through!  Though I ended up having a medicated, non-natural birth, I did not feel cheated out of my expectations and had a positive experience, thanks to the top-notch care and attention I received at my hospital, which was already up on the latest trends, like recognizing the importance of skin-on-skin contact and breastfeeding your newborn as soon as possible.  It was just eye-opening to know that there are alternatives for expectant mothers out there.

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