Monday, June 25, 2012

"Let's Go Mongan"

Remember that scene from Zoolander when Hansel says he's going to go monk?

Sounds like hippie-talk, I know. 

That's what I think of when I'm asked to 'go Mongan.' This is a method of birthing that uses hypnosis for an empowered, pain-decreased delivery. Last night my husband, Tim, suggested we give this another try. It was then that I gained an appreciation for how involved he felt when were doing hypnobirthing (HB). To be quite honest, up until transition mode, labor wasn't only tolerable, it was actually a good bonding experience for us. That deserves some reconsideration. You see, just last month I was all gung-ho, but I think studying for Boards made me quite pessimistic about, well, everything.

Here's what I had to say about HB when discussing it with friends online, May 11th, 2012:

"I know I said I was falling off the face of the earth studying. . . And that's still true, but I feel the need to explain hypnobirthing (HB) because lately I've been bombarded with questions about it and I'm actually hoping this little entry will save me some time by not having to repeat myself so often.

  • Is this a movement against epidurals? I did hypnobirthing, and am using it again for this pregnancy, because I love the autonomy and confidence that it instills in mothers. It is is NOT about taking a stance against epidurals. You can have a hypnobirth and still get an epidural. That being said, most mothers who use HB end up having completely natural births. Most say they felt empowered and about 70% claim they felt no pain at all during labor. (See this video if you don't think that's possible.)
  • What's the basic premise? You train for labor and view it as a beautiful experience where the mother is in full control of her body. There is a packet of CDs you listen to that teach you how to go "into the zone" -just like a football player might not recognize a sprained ankle and make it all the way to touchdown without pain because s/he's so focused. Yet it should be noted that birthing is NOT viewed as something inherently painful, the idea is that stepping on a nail or putting your hand on a stove should be painful, but bringing a human being into this world is not pathologic and thus shouldn't cause pain. 
  • So did you feel pain? Up until transitiion I did not feel pain, only pressure. The nurses didn't believe I was in labor. It was a peaceful time, one in which my husband and I were partners, and the exact opposite of those cliche' scenes of women screaming, crying, writhing around in a panic, and hating their husbands. As a med student, I witnessed a lot of that and wanted to avoid feeling that way if at all possible. HB pretty much promises to be effective so long as there are no complications, and even then offers to keep you calm through any bumps along the road. For me, it became pretty obvious that something was 'off' about my baby's position as soon as it came time to push. That period of time was painful, very painful. What saved me is that I had control of all my muscles and no awareness of time (also a HB technique), so I didn't get too flustered and was able to push my baby out in time. At no point did I ever scream out. Only once in the whole labor experience did I make a sound, and it was akin to what weightlifters might sound like when they're pushing themselves to extremes.
  • What are the benefits? Decreased or no pain. Feeling in control of your body. A calm(er) pregnancy. If you don't need the epidural, then chances are your labor will be shorter and you'll be less likely to require intervention (like forceps or vacuums). In my case, every woman in my family has marathon labors (20+hrs) and yet mine was only ~6hrs. I credit HB for that. 
  • What are the drawbacks? Not being taken seriously at the hospital. The nurses questioned my presence at the check-in station because I looked too comfortable. Then I wasn't checked often enough because they were waiting for me to shows signs of distress. There's also a LOT of pressure to get an epidural, and people look at you like you're a freak if you don't want (or need) it. There's also the assumption that you're trying to show off or make a point. I was told, "You're not going to get a gold medal for this."
  • Will you get an epidural this next time?  Maybe, I'm going to discuss my options with my new OB. After I delivered my son, because I didn't have an epidural, they knocked me out during the repair. I didn't see him until 8hrs later! And even then I felt drugged. Epidural or not, I'm still doing HB."
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