Mind & Spirit : NST Life & Times 15/6/2010
BY CHIM LI YEN
Relaxation techniques through breathing and hypnosis as taught in HypnoBirthing reveal childbirth as a beautiful rite of passage.
If we hope to create a non-violent world
where respect and kindness
replace fear and hatred…
We must begin with
how we treat each other
at the beginning of life
For that is where our deepest patterns are set
From these roots grow fear and alienation…
— or love and trust.
— Suzanna Arms
WHAT are your first thoughts when you think of the word “childbirth”? For many, it is associated with intense pain, fear and emotional stress. In ancient times, our pagan ancestors honour Mother Nature, Mother Earth and Mother Creator. Their lives revolved around nature and motherhood. Women were revered as the givers of life and birthing was regarded as the highest manifestation of nature. Birthing was a “celebration of life” instead of the painful, agonising ordeal we have made it to be.
Hippocrates, father of Western medicine, advocated that nature is the best physician and that it should be allowed to function without the intrusion of “…meddlesome interference”. In his writings, he gave no indication of pain linked to childbirth. He believed that it is important that the needs and feelings of women in childbirth are accommodated. Certified HypnoBirthing practitioner Soo Wai Han demystifies all my beliefs about childbirth, allowing me to view this beautiful rite of passage in a different light. This mother of three shares her personal journey on motherhood and her experience using the HypnoBirthing method to birth all her children which includes two home births.
HypnoBirthing is a programme developed by award-winning hypnotherapist Marie Mongan in 1989 based on the work of English obstetrician, Dr Grantly Dick-Read, the father of natural childbirth. Mongan is also a mother of four children, all born in the late 50s and early 60s. She went through all four labours using the techniques of Dr Read and two of her birthings were entirely free of anaesthesia at a time when it was unheard of.
Soo says: “Childbirth is simple but might not be easy for everyone. Many of us have been negatively conditioned by horror stories we have heard, movies that depict childbirth as a dramatic, noisy event and many myths linked to childbirth such as an episiotomy (a surgical incision through the perineum made to enlarge the vagina to assist childbirth) is necessary to widen the birth path.”
Educating women in the physiology of labour teaches them that birthing muscles in the uterus are perfectly designed to give birth smoothly. When the mother is relaxed and free from fear, the three layers of muscles in the uterus functions in harmony as nature intended. If she is tense and anxious, the body’s sympathetic system is triggered and creates a “fight or flight” response. Blood and oxygen is directed away from the uterus causing the muscles at the neck of the uterus to tighten and the cervix to remain taut and closed. Relaxation techniques through breathing and hypnosis is taught in the HypnoBirthing course to eliminate fear, infusing calmness and confidence in both the mother and her birthing companion.
The HypnoBirthing course consists of five sessions of 2½ hours each and covers a variety of topics from Prenatal Bonding Techniques to Birth of the Placenta. The philosophy of HypnoBirthing is that childbirth is a normal, natural and healthy function for women. The body of a healthy, pregnant woman instinctively knows how to birth, just as the body instinctively knows how to conceive and nurture the development of the babies they are carrying.
“HypnoBirthing assist mothers to connect with their own innate wisdom to give birth gently, comfortably and joyfully. It is not a new concept. Childbirth is no longer a mysterious adventure once a couple goes through the course as they will be mentally, emotionally and physically prepared to welcome a new life into the world,” says Soo. Couples are encouraged to attend the course together as the support of the father creates a partnership necessary to bring the qualities of trust and assurance to the birthing environment. Single mothers can either attend the course alone or bring along a close friend or relative to accompany them through the process.
HynoBirthing empowers parents as they are given the knowledge necessary for them to actively explore and find the optimal setting for the birth of their child. They are offered the gift of choice — being able to make an informed decision about options they have to ensure their baby’s smooth transition from the womb to their loving embrace. Evidence shows that babies in the womb and newborn babies are aware and sensitive human beings with feelings. They are active participants in pregnancy and birth. Soo claims that some of her clients have succeeded in communicating with their babies by asking the baby close-ended questions and the baby responding with two taps for a “Yes” and one tap for a”No”.
Dr Christiane Northrup, author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, challenges all birthing mothers. “Imagine what might happen if the majority of women emerged from their labour beds with a renewed sense of the strength and power of their bodies, and of their capacity for ecstasy through giving birth. When enough women realise that birth is a time of great opportunity to get in touch with their true power, and when they are willing to assume responsibility for this, we will reclaim the power of birth and help move technology where it belongs — in the women, not their master,” says Dr Northrup.
Soo has been teaching HypnoBirthing since 2005 and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about HypnoBirthing and her classes visit www.hypnobirthing.com.my. Soo will be giving a free talk titled “HypnoBirthing: Gentle Birth to Gentle Being” at The Violet Flame in Jalan Bangkung, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur on June 19, 3pm. Call 03-2095 9868 to register.
The writer is co-founder of The Violet Flame Holistic Shop and Therapy Centre, Bangsar. Check out her website at www.thevioletflame.com.my.