As we were planning for Cole's arrival, we kept most of our birth plan to ourselves. We both had hopes for how everything would go, but we were smart enough to know that most births don't go according to plan, things change and situations happen, and it's important to be flexible. All that matters in the end is that you have a healthy baby. And I didn't want to share our grand plans of how we wanted things to go and then be disappointed when nothing went as we expected.
That, and I didn't want everyone to think I was a nut. Because our plans were slightly unconventional. After of all the interventions we experienced over the past two years, I wanted a zero-intervention birth. No meds, no counting minutes, no exams once we arrived at the hospital, no one in the room except those who were completely necessary. I didn't even want to be touched. I basically wanted to go into a dark room and be left alone until my baby came.
Before I got pregnant I started researching hypnobirthing. I know. This is where it has the potential to get weird. But hear me out. I was intrigued by the idea of training your body to go into a state of deep relaxation, loosen all of your muscles, and let your body do the work while your mind rests. I read a book about it, and then instead of taking the routine birthing class, Nick and I signed up for a hypnobirthing class. It was one of the best experiences of my pregnancy, and we really enjoyed sitting in a room every week with other couples who were hoping to have the same birth experience that we were.
Hypnobirthing takes quite a bit of commitment. You have to practice early and often. During my last trimester, I spent about two hours a day practicing self-hypnosis, relaxing in a chair or in bed, loosening all my muscles and bringing my mind to a different place. I gained confidence that at the very least, hypnosis could ease any anxiety I had once I went into labor. Instead of being afraid of any pain or discomfort, I focused on the end-result - our baby being born. And the theory behind the practice is that if you can completely relax your mind and body, there will be no fear hormones coursing through your body, your muscles won't tense and cause pain, your body can do it's job, and your baby will arrive faster and easier.
This is all really easy to say, but I had to be realistic with myself. I had never had a baby before. I didn't know what it would feel like. I haven't experienced those sensations. And I'm also the most pain-sensitive being on the planet. But the hypnobirthing training teaches you that birth doesn't hurt, exactly. There is pressure and sensations, but nothing that you can't handle calmly.
Again. I know. Get your eye-rolling out of your systems now. While I held confidence that this would be the case, there was a little piece of me rolling my eyes also. Birth doesn't hurt? Okay. Good one. This is why I didn't share our plan with many people. How would you react to a pregnant woman telling you, "I've trained my body to completely relax through self-hypnosis, and I've taught my mind to believe that birth doesn't hurt"?
In addition to my hypnobirthing, we opted out of using an OB and chose to go the midwife route. And in addition to our midwives, who were supportive of our hypnobirthing plans (if not realistically skeptical), we decided to hire doulas. Doulas are basically birth supporters. Our doulas came to our house for meetings during my last trimester, helped me plan how I wanted to deliver, guided me with nutrition and exercise, and basically supported us however we needed to be supported. They would then come to our house once I was in labor, accompany us to the hospital, and then help us with postpartum care.
Let me tell you now that I would never deliver another baby without my doulas. They are incredible, loving women who made us feel comfortable from the minute we met them. I know I couldn't have had the birth experience that I did without their support. And now that Cole's here and we've recovered, I find myself telling everyone about his arrival. But that's a long story for another day. Stay tuned!