On November 10, I gave birth to my beautiful baby boy Daniel using the HypnoBirthing technique. I wrote about it in my column Family Time that runs biweekly in Glen Falls newspaper The Chronicle, but wanted to share an interview with our HypnoBirthing instructor, Suzanne Fremon, for some further information about the technique.
Here are Suzanne’s answers to my questions:
1. How long have you been teaching HypnoBirthing?
Since 2001, but particularly in the last 10 years
2. What brought you to this technique?
I was suffering from burn-out as a labor support doula. I realized that my clients weren’t nearly prepared enough for their upcoming births. They all went to childbirth prep classes, where they were shown how to relax, but not encouraged really to learn the techniques. So, under the pressure of unexpected events, things don’t work out as they should, and the laboring woman gives up her hopes.
3. What is your background as a doula/instructor?
In the mid-90s, I was trained as a DONA-certified labor support doula. I attended around 100 births at various hospitals in New York City and surrounding areas. Then, after mounting frustration over (in my opinion) unnecessary medical interventions and C-sections, I heard about the use of hypnosis in childbirth. (I think it was a feature on DateLine). That made sense so I tracked down Marie Mongan and became trained and certified as a HypnoBirthing practitioner.
4. What are some of the most memorable HypnoBirthing experiences you’ve witnessed?
There are many, but one that I seen happened at Beth Israel Hospital in NYC. The anesthesiologist visited my client describing the epidural process to her. She said “Thanks but no thanks”. He’d heard that before so wasn’t perturbed. Later, when she was at about 8 cm dilated, surges going very strong, he poked his head into the room. The doctor was sitting nearby, watching as her patient remained completely calm. She jumped up to shoo the anesthesiologist away. They were all a-twitter at the nurses station because they could see from the monitor how strong the surges were, and she wasn’t using medication. I know that she had really learned the relaxation techniques and used them brilliantly.
5. What are the basics that everyone needs to know about HypnoBirthing?
It’s really simple. It involves deep relaxation and deep breathing. These are things that everyone knows are good ideas. However, to do it right, it’s helpful to start at the beginning of the 3rd trimester and learn through practice how to do these techniques reliably. Then they’ll kick in when needed.
6. Can you describe the origins of HypnoBirthing?
Marie Mongan had the first 3 of her 5 children back when it was standard practice to put laboring women completely under. She thought there had to be a better way than completely missing the birth, as she had. Over some years, she developed the program that became HypnoBirthing. Along the way, she trained as a hypnotherapist, among other things.
7. What makes it better than other techniques?
There are many good methods to make childbirth easier. Most of them have to do with relaxing, breathing and visualizations. There’s nothing unique about these ideas but most programs that I’m familiar with don’t insist on having people really learn and practice them. I do – I’m a real pain in the neck about that. But it works.
8. What else do you want people to know?
Hypnosis has a funny reputation. There’s a parlor-game version that most people are familiar with – Jump up and down and quack like a duck, that kind of thing. Using hypnosis therapeutically is an altogether different matter. It features relaxation and affirmations and uses the subconscious level of the brain – like meditation, prayer or the alpha state you hear athletes talk about. Also, the father/birth partner take an active part and are included in the classes.
9. How can one sign up for your class?
Call me (518)532-0305; email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out my website at www.northcountryhypnobirthing.com. Classes take place at the Snuggery at Glens Falls Hospital usually on Wednesday evenings. The course consists of 5 sessions, spread out over a 10-week period, preferably, so expectant parents have time to learn and practice the skills.