My plan for labor and delivery was to use HypnoBirthing to get me through until the epidural but, ideally, to make it all the way through without medication. Laboring wasn't what I expected, so my plans changed. I'd also written up a list of birth preferences, but I tossed those a few days before going into labor.
The thing that really made the difference was the baby's position. She was in posterior position and that brought on back labor. I don't wish that on my worst enemy. With my first labor I had 90 seconds from the end of one contraction to the beginning of another where I could move around or gather things. I wasn't very productive in those 90 seconds, but at least I had a break. Back labor felt like a band of terrible pain across my lower back, coupled with a strong urge to relieve my bowels. When a contraction hit I still had the pain and urge from before, but then there was more pain in my abdomen. When the contraction ended it was back to the nasty back pain. There was no break in the pain, just a break in contractions.
I tried relaxing through the pain and doing visualizations and changing position and getting into the tub and pouring water over my belly. None of it helped for more than a minute or two and most of what I tried didn't help at all. That made it impossible for me to just relax through it. It was all I could do just to shift positions and get my sorry backside onto the bed. I decided before we left the hospital that I was going to request the epidural. I'd only been asleep for two and a half hours when labor woke me. I knew I wouldn't last on relaxation alone when it was time to push;I needed more sleep.
HypnoBirthing came very much in handy after the epidural. When the nurse placed my catheter I needed help to cope with the pain until I fell asleep. You're not supposed to feel the catheter after an epidural, but I can. I felt it even more through each contraction until I fell asleep. Eric took me through a really nice visualization while I closed my eyes and worked on relaxing my body. That got me through until I fell asleep to the calming sound of my husband's voice. After that I was able to sleep.
I did have a lot more interventions than the HypnoBirthing philosophy believes in, but I wasn't upset about any of them. Some were things I agreed with more than I agreed with HypnoBirthing, and some were the price I was more than happy to pay so I could have my epidural.
While pushing I used the "breathe the baby down" technique until nothing felt right aside from pushing with all my might. The baby didn't want to move down at all, so I wasn't really able to see the difference in how the pushing methods made my body react. I pushed for almost three hours, but that was because of how the baby was turned and how that made getting her out so much more difficult. For much of the time I was making no progress whatsoever. In the end I was so tired that I got a redose of the epidural and the baby was delivered with forceps. I would have preferred to avoid all that, but the size of the baby and her positioning were things beyond my control. Besides, it really wasn't terrible. Back labor was terrible.
With the next baby I'll try HypnoBirthing again, but I'm planning on the epidural. It makes me happy.