Sunday, August 01, 2010

HypnoBirthing: Preface (why is the preface always so long?)

After thinking it over for a while I’ve decided to chronicle my experience with HypnoBirthing as it happens. For one thing, it gives me something to blog about. For another, and more importantly, I want my own record of how I feel about it as it happens for my own future reference. I’m really glad I did that with my last pregnancy.

For starters, I must clarify a couple of things about myself and why I’m trying HypnoBirthing. It has nothing to do with a desire to be natural or use holistic methods or anything like that. When it comes to being natural and holistic, I’m comparable to a Twinkie. mmm…cream-filled goodness… At the root of my decision is a worry that there simply won’t be time for an epidural to be administered when I tell the nursing staff I want pain meds. I also wanted to hold off an epidural for as long as possible to avoid slowing down labor, as happened with my last delivery. The last reason is that I know women who have delivered without pain meds. Some of them chose it and some of them just progressed too quickly. The difference in these women’s opinion of their experience was whether or not they had prepared for it. The ones who had prepared were happy with what happened. The women who hadn’t weren’t so happy. I thought it wise to prepare myself for whatever happens. In the past I have had no desire to have an unmedicated birth. The closest I ever came to that is wondering if I could.

I also think it is necessary to talk a little about my other two deliveries, as they make up the experiences that influence my decisions.

My first delivery was traumatic in every way. Labor was induced at 20 weeks because I had a missed miscarriage (the baby dies, but the body does not immediately miscarry) with my first baby. My husband and I had a cruise planned and we were due to fly out two days after we found out. My doctor gave me the options and suggested an induction because the other two methods, a dilation and evacuation or waiting for my body to miscarry on its own, were less desirable. That was especially true, considering our desire to continue with our vacation plans. The first option had too high a risk for bleeding in the days following and the second option could have put me in labor while at sea, not to mention the emotional baggage of knowing I was carrying a dead baby. My hopes and dreams for a baby had been crushed. I was induced that night with aggressive drugs that are not used in live births. At first I declined the epidural because I knew the baby would be very small and I hoped it would cause less pain. That was a silly thought. It hurt like a beast. I had no idea what I was doing because I hadn’t prepared at all for a delivery. The biggest problem was that the drugs began a tetanic contraction, which is a contraction that peaks and then never comes back down. It was excruciating, particularly when one considers the emotional pain I was in. I finally asked for the epidural and was able to sleep through the rest of the night. The baby was delivered the next morning with no pain, just a feeling of pressure.

We asked that the baby be tested to see what had caused the miscarriage. We didn’t know if it was just a fluke or if it was something genetic that could happen to all our babies. The tests came back inconclusive. That was not a comfort to us. When I became pregnant a second time I was scared to death because I didn’t know if my body could produce a healthy baby. It had never happened before, so I had no assurances that I could expect to carry to full term. As joyful time as it was, it was also terrifying. I knew what I had lived through before and had no desire for a repeat experience. That had a profound effect on how I wanted to deliver for my second pregnancy. I wanted to be in a hospital with all the best technology that could be used at a moment’s notice if the need arose. I knew the chances of something going wrong in the delivery room were minuscule, but that doesn’t matter much to a mother who has previously been one of the few. I wanted it all and I wanted it done by the book.

My second delivery was a much better experience. This time I was able to take my healthy baby home when we left the hospital. It was not a poor experience overall. The nursing staff was knowledgeable, the doctor asked for my preferences when there were choices to be made, and I ended up by holding my daughter. There were also parts I would change. I got lost during shift change and had to wait 45 minutes to start pushing again after I had already started. That was the biggest problem and there were other circumstances around it. They weren’t completely ignoring me, there was just a lapse in communication. I did not like my second nurse, but I didn’t ask to switch because I was afraid I’d have to wait another 45 minutes to get a new one and I was pretty mad. So was my doctor. I pushed a little while I waited and that caused a tear doen below. The tear was going a bad direction and the doctor gave me an episiotomy. I had hoped to avoid an episiotomy, but I preferred an episiotomy to a tear. That preference proved to be correct in my healing process. The last “problem” I had with the delivery was that my epidural wore off. Twice. I didn’t know enough to realize that it was gone when it was time to push. That urge was so strong that it took over the feeling of pain. Aside from those few things, the delivery was just what I hoped for and, as I said before, was not a poor experience. I knew good and well that you can plan all you want, but there are some things about delivery that you just can’t control.
Now, with all that said, I can continue on to why I chose HypnoBirthing. The first time I heard of it I thought it was the stupidest thing I’d ever heard. I didn’t know the woman well and thought she was silly for trying it. After her baby was born she told me how it was. I honestly don’t remember much beyond the part where she said there was still some pain associated with the birth. I thought that was the bonehead statement of the century. A year or two later a friend of mine took the HypnoBirthing class. She had an experience similar to mine with her first pregnancy and delivery, though she chose to be unmedicated from the start. Her HypnoBirthing experience was a positive one. I was pregnant with my daughter at the time and was interested to hear what she had to say. However, I was not interested in an unmedicated birth in the slightest. The epidural had been heaven sent in my first delivery and I wanted another one.

When I became pregnant the third time we were in pretty dire financial straits. I applied and was accepted for Medicaid. By that time I had decided I wanted to spend time laboring in the tub to help with pain management until I was ready to ask for the epidural. The Medicaid plans available at the time included either my doctor or the hospital with a tub in every room, but not both. I chose the one that accepted my doctor and was sad to find out that the hospital I would deliver at had only one tub and it was in a room reserved for women planning to have an unmedicated birth. That was not my plan. I started considering what to do to help me cope with pain during the time before the epidural. I thought of HypnoBirthing. There wasn’t much depth to the thought, but it was there. As time went on I was able to switch my Medicaid plan to the one that included both my doctor and preferred hospital. The thought of learning how to cope with the pain before the epidural was still there, so I did a little research. The further into pregnancy I got the more interested I became. That tends to happen when you get closer to your due date and more involved in preparing for childbirth. The more research I did the more I realized that the majority of women who chose HypnoBirthing had a good experience. I decided that it might help and certainly couldn’t hurt. I wanted to just read up on it by myself rather than attend a class. I wasn’t interested in spending time in a class with a teacher and students who vilify the medical profession and process (I happen to really like my doctor, thank you very much) while singing the praises of doing everything naturally all over the floor of their home. I have nothing against natural and/or home births, but that’s so not my style (I’m a Twinkie, remember?). That is what makes some women comfortable. I find comfort in the sterile environment of a hospital with all the latest technology to quickly take care of any possible problems with my baby or myself. After losing my first baby, that is the top priority to me. And I also don’t have to clean it up. Anyway, back to the narrative.

I did more research and asked more questions about the book in hopes that I could just do it on my own. All the information I got told me the book was meant to go with the class and could be confusing on its own. There was a similar course that offered a home study option, but it cost only $25 less than the HypnoBirthing class. If I was going to pay over $100 for the course, I wanted a real teacher to whom I could pose questions. Our financial situation became much more stable and I knew we could afford the class, so I went ahead and signed up. The first class was yesterday and I will go over my reaction to it in a separate post.

I am now of a mind that I may not want to ask for the epidural. I am emphatically not against an epidural, but I won’t ask for it if I feel comfortable enough without one. We’ll see what happens.

1 comment:

Carrie and Karl said...

I hope everything goes how you want it to. I have heard nurses say that the patients who are calm about what they want are more likely to be able to get it.
I enjoyed reading this post.