I’m thrilled to share a new birth story with you! Jenni shared her first birth a couple of years ago. Now her husband is telling the story of their second birth.
Category Archives: Hypnobabies
“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” –Rudyard Kipling
Recently, I was asked to teach some lovely nursing students about hypnosis for childbirth. I thought it would be an excellent time to slip in some suggestions for using positive language in the birthing room. Regardless of whether a woman is using hypnosis for her birth, she is still in an altered state of consciousness. Words become suggestions when we are in an altered state. In other words, the power of language grows exponentially during our births.
Based on statements I have heard during births, I put together a hand-out for these nurses. Here is a sampling of what I included.
General Language Suggestions
- “You’re safe” instead of “Don’t be scared, you’re not in danger.” When we are in an altered state of consciousness, our brain takes in only the prominent words in a statement. So “you’re not in danger” becomes simply “Danger.” In movies, I hear people saying, “Don’t die on me!” and think “No! Say, live instead!”
- “Your body is wise.” The birthing mother is the expert on this birth. We must never forget this nor should she.
- “Feel your shoulders relax” instead of “Don’t tense your shoulders.” Again. If we speak in negatives, she might hear “tense your shoulders.”
- For IV placement or injections, “I’m going to rub on some cold and then there might be some pressure” instead of “This will feel like a bee sting.” No one likes a bee sting.
- “Breathe your baby down” instead of “You’ll feel burning.”
- “Special considerations” instead of “complications”
- “You’ve dilated so much!” instead of “You’ve only dilated ½ cm.”
- “When babies are in a posterior position, we can try to…” instead of “Your baby is posterior.” (distance the negatives, only personalize positives)
- “You’ll have all the energy you need to birth your baby” instead of “I’m scared you’re going to wear yourself out.” I hear this one all the time as a reason for women to get an epidural. Women release a surge of adrenaline just before they begin pushing. You’ve heard stories of what incredible feats people accomplish under the influence of adrenaline.
- “You look so strong” instead of “You look like you’re in a lot of pain” or “What is your pain scale?” When a perceived expert tells someone they look like they are in pain, then certainly that is going to influence pain.
Do not say:
- “Get mad at your baby.” I cannot tell you how much this one bothers me. I have strong beliefs that regardless of how babies come into the world (cesarean, forceps, on the side of the freeway), they should be welcomed with joy. Why would you tell someone to get mad at your baby? Or get mad at all? Anger and birth don’t mix in my book.
- “This is going to hurt.” Don’t assume what she will feel. Maybe it will/maybe it won’t. But telling her it will hurt is a guarantee that she will expect pain and likely experience it.
- “You’re not allowed/I can’t let you.”
- “I’m going to be your worst enemy” I’ve actually heard a nurse say, “Think of me as the Wicked Witch.”
- Mentioning numbers (dilation, stats, time) unless she specifically asks. During an unmedicated birth, the thinking brain slows way down. Numbers, questions requiring cognitive answers, consent forms, bright lights may keep the thinking brain engaged.
- Telling her what she’ll feel or trying to describe what you think she’s feeling
- Negatives (Don’t tense your jaw)
- Speaking during pressure waves/contractions
- Unnecessary questions. Questions wake up the thinking brain.
When in doubt:
- Be silent. Or murmur how well she is doing. Be frugal with words.
- Give yourself an affirmation such as “I am entering a sacred space and I will use my words and my skills for healing and comfort. These are the gifts I bring.”
What would you add? What language have you heard in the birthing room that hindered rather than enriched.
A First Time Family’s Homebirth Story
I have a new birth story available for your reading pleasure. Tori and Eric were such a pleasure to have in my Hypnobabies class. They were nearly giddy about all things related to their birth.
I’m happy to share their birth story here.
You can also catch them in person at July’s Blessingway. They will be sharing their birth story with our community at 2pm on July 27 at Natural Baby. The event is free and open to everyone!
New Classes and Doula Availability
Have you liked me on Facebook yet?? What are you waiting for? Click here and then click “like” to follow my business there. My work is entirely dependent on social media and word of mouth. Help a doula out.
I have another parents-to-be series for Natural Baby coming up in June. Click here to sign up or to share with some expectant couples you know. Six Monday nights to explore parenting and learning to listen to your instincts. Class 1: Learning to understand and soothe your baby. Class 2: Breastfeeding. Class 3: The first six weeks postpartum. Class 4: How babies (and parents) sleep. Class 5: Saving money and creating a mindful gift registry. Class 6: The first year of parenting. If you can’t take an entire series, pick and choose the classes you want for 25.00/couple/class.
Registration is open for July/August Hypnobabies classes meeting Tuesdays beginning July 23rd in Greenville. Email me for information (j_byers @ bellsouth.net).
I only have a few more doula spaces left this year. I have space for 1 client in late June or July, 1 client in October, and 2 clients in November.
Thank you for helping me serve families!
I’ve been teaching Hypnobabies since 2009. Lately, I am frequently asked, “What do I do to prepare for my next Hypnobabies birth?”
Hypnobabies strongly recommends that students repeat the class series when preparing for subsequent births. To prepare for another birth, you want more than just a refresher. You want to prepare as thoroughly for this birth as you did for your first Hypnobabies experience. Moreover, your materials are not designed for self-study. If a couple absolutely prefers to DIY, they should purchase the Home Study Advantage set which was created for self-study.
I have two repeat students registered for my March series. What an encouragement it will be for the other students to have experienced Hypnobabies moms in the class.
In order to make this option possible for my repeat students, I charge only 75.00 to take the series again.
February, be gentle
Such a busy month! It isn’t all work-related. I’m also busy socializing my homeschooler. Heh heh.
I have an invitation for YOU to fill up your calendar space with a few choice selections:
“Now What”: a class about the first six weeks postpartum. 20.00/couple/student. Feb. 5.
Greenville Babywearing Meeting: noon. Bring your lunch if you’re on a work break. Feb. 6.
Clemson Babywearing Meeting: new time this month! Free gathering to play and discuss babywearing (or anything else that you fancy). Feb. 7
Spartanburg Babywearing Meeting: Feb. 11 at 11.
“Sleeping Like a Baby“: a class about *yawn* newborn sleep. 20.00/couple/student. Feb. 12
Greenville Cloth Diaper Group: a group for families who plan to or are cloth diapering. Topic and discussion. Free! Taylors Library at 10am. Feb. 13.
Cloth Diaper 101: a free introduction to cloth diapering led by the savvy Jessica. Dads are encouraged to attend. Feb. 16.
Blessingway: I’m so excited about this month’s gathering! Please come to hear Norie’s birth story. This first time mama had a peaceful hospital birth. And the Puppy Nanny will be there to talk about pets and babies. Free! Babies and kids are welcome. Feb. 23
“Having a Baby without Breaking the Bank”: a class about creating a smart and green registry, DIY items, and saving $$. 20.00/couple/student. Feb. 19.
New Member Picnic: I’m hosting this one! A picnic and playtime at Lake Conestee for new members of the Greenville Attachment Parent Meetup Group. Join the AP group to find out more. Expectant moms are welcome. Feb. 19
Organic Nutrition for Pregnancy and Lactation: taught by midwife, Grace Hannon. FREE! Feb. 21
Anderson Babywearing Group: Feb. 25 at 6:30pm.
“Parenting the First Year”: a class about introducing solids, child development, age appropriateness, and more. 20.00/couple/student. Feb. 26
Water Birth and Other Comfort Measures for Labor and Birth: another free workshop taught by midwife, Grace Hannon. Feb. 28.
*Also check the schedules for your closest La Leche League!
Registration is open for my March/April Hypnobabies Class. This series will meet from 6pm-9pm on Tuesdays beginning March 12. Contact me ASAP for information! email@example.com
Oh! And due to a client birthing early, I have a doula space which has opened up for late February or March. I also have space available in May and June. Let me know if you’d like to sit down for a free consult.
The March space is taken! 🙂
I’ve been slack about posting pictures of my Hypnobabies students. I add the pictures to this page but I forget to highlight them here.
Look at these adorable Hypnobabies!
This picture is from a recent class reunion. One baby boy was not able to make it for the photo shoot.
Want some stats?
- 100% of the babies were born without complications
- 100% of the mamas gave birth without medication
- 1 baby was born with a family practice physician at a hospital
- 1 baby was born with midwives at a birth center
- 1 baby was VBAC at home with a family practice physician
- 2 babies were born at home with midwives
- 4 of the babies were born in the water.
- None of the mamas needed sutures
- And THIS childbirth educator was not the least bit surprised by these stats!
Email me about classes beginning Oct. 16 and Jan. 27. ( firstname.lastname@example.org)
Upcoming Class Schedule
The holidays wreck a childbirth educator’s schedule so I’m posting the schedule early. If you’re expecting a baby in Nov/Dec/Jan/Feb/Mar, I encourage you to research your childbirth education options early because many educators break for Nov/Dec.
My next Hypnobabies class will be in Greenville on Tuesdays from 6pm-9pm. The first class is October 16th and the final is November 21st. I currently have room for three more couples/students in this series.
After the holiday break, I’ll have a Sunday class from 5pm-8pm in Greer beginning January 27th and ending March 3rd.
I’m working on the dates for another Natural Baby Parenting Series which will happen in Sept/Oct. I’ll post those details when I have them.
Please contact me by email (email@example.com) if you are interested in any of these classes.
Classes and Free Events, July and August
NB Parenting Series: “Try to See It My Way“: Tuesday July 10, 6pm “Why is my baby crying? Is this normal? I don’t understand what she is trying to say!” Come learn about infant communication and cues. We’ll also discuss birth bonding, attachment theory, soothing skills, and finding balance. Plus lots of tricks for calm parenting. Babywearing lessons included!
Greenville Babywearing Group: Wednesday July 11, noon
Cloth Diaper 101: Saturday, July 14, 1pm I’m possibly teaching this class while the instructor is on maternity leave. Join me as we discuss the many options for cloth diapering. Dads are encouraged to attend!
NB Parenting Series: “Breastfeeding“: Tuesday July 17, 6pm In our breastfeeding class, we’ll learn about the biology of breastfeeding. We’ll discuss common issues, finding help through community resources, and returning to work.
NB Parenting Series: “Now What? The First Six Weeks Postpartum“: Tuesday, July 24, 6pm The first six weeks can feel like a whirlwind of emotions and the learning curve may seem steep. Learn what to expect during the postpartum. For mom, we’ll discuss physical changes, healing from birth, and creating a postpartum plan. For baby, we’ll look at common issues such as jaundice and gastric changes. And we’ll learn about baby care basics, newborn procedures at the hospital, and vaccine choices.
Blessingways: A Gathering of New and Expectant Families: Saturday, July 28, 2pm. It is my month to host! Our birth story will be a Hypnobabies birth. I will talk myths and truths about hypnosis for childbirth. Is it pain-free or all smoke and mirrors? Come find out.
NB Parenting Series: “Sleeping Like A Baby“: Tuesday, July 31, 6pm *Yawn* Who came up with the phrase “sleeping like a baby” anyway? Learn about the physiology of infant sleep. We’ll talk about naps and nighttime parenting. And, of course, tips and tricks for getting restful nights for the whole family.
NB Parenting Series: “Having a Baby without Breaking the Bank“: Tuesday, August 7, 6pm Having a baby does not have to put a giant hole in your wallet! Learn practical tips for DIY, saving money, and what is safe to buy used. In fact, saving money can also be a sustainable and non-toxic choice. We’ll talk about creating a lean and green baby registry. What do you really need to raise a baby?
New Hypnobabies Series: Begins August 8 from 6-9pm in Greenville. We’ll meet for six weeks. I have two spaces remaining.
NB Parenting Series: “Parenting the First Year“: Tuesday August 14, 6pm What is baby-led weaning? How can I make my house safe for a crawler? Parents have many decisions to make the first year. This class will discuss solid-feeding, safety, teething, discipline, learning through play, and infant development
I also (still!) have doula openings for August. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Jedi Midwives
The last 9 months, I’ve been birthing new understanding about the power of words. As often happens, many areas of my life have carried the theme lately. Most notably, Star Wars.
You heard me. And I’ll come back to it.
My ears have been listening and my senses attuned to authority figures and their use of words.
- A parent says, “I know you love your brother and want to make amends.”
- A nurse says, “I want you to think of me as the Wicked Witch.”
- A teacher says, “I can tell you are all listening carefully.”
- A doctor doing a blood draw says, “It is going to feel tight and then tickle.”
- A midwife says, “This is going to hurt.”
- A mentor says, “You will make the right decision.”
What we say and how we say it matters.
This article written by a physician gives several examples of doctors influencing their patients with words. There are some crazy medical stories out there about patients cured and killed by words.
I’ve been reading all sorts of stories about linguistic placebo. And practicing on my kids, “Let me give you some magic medicine for that boo-boo” and “Your brain will tell your body that the carsickness is gone. Your tummy will settle. You will rest your eyes and sleep now.”
In January, I was poked and tested as we tried to diagnose my mystery tropical illness. A nurse said, as she was holding the syringe, “this is gonna burn.” Wow. It hurt so badly! Then came the flu test. I’d never had a flu test nor seen anyone else have one. I had no idea what was involved. The nurse practitioner said, “this is really going to be uncomfortable.” I panicked. How far into my nose was she going to stick it? I started sweating and saying, “Wait, wait!” I made her give me a minute while I found prepared my hypnosis cues. Good grief. It was not a big deal at all although I almost passed out from anxiety. If she had instead said, “I’m going to swab the inside of your nose and it will tickle some” the whole thing would have been a non-incident.
Give me expectations of pain and my imagination will run wild.
Cedar will freak out if I say, “It isn’t going to hurt.” Because her toddler brain only hears, “going to hurt!” When adults are anxious or groggy or in pain, sometimes our brain only hears in shorthand, too. Instead of using negatives, “this won’t hurt” could we say, “this will feel tingly?” Or could a nurse rub the IV site and say, “I’m going to numb your skin and you will feel cold on your arm.” Why must it feel like a “bee sting”? Who sits still and welcomes a bee sting?
You can see why birth language is so important. We have a few midwives in my area who don’t fancy hypnosis. That would be ok except that they speak words that undermine it. (!!) A midwife, whether she likes it or not, is an authority figure. She says, “I’ve never seen hypnosis work,” or, says to a woman using hypnosis, “This is going to hurt” or “Push past the pain” or “You might feel a burning sensation.” A woman in hypnosis is highly suggestible. What do these statements do?
Interestingly, I rarely see OBs interfere with hypnosis. Maybe they are curious or maybe they just don’t care.
I love quiet midwives. The ones who murmur, “you’re doing wonderfully well.” The ones who don’t assume they know what the birthing woman will feel next. What if she isn’t hurting and you tell her she will feel a burning ring of fire? Or that her pains will become more intense? Do you think that will impact her? Go hang out on any birth hypnosis forum and read how care providers derail births with their words.
So what does this have to do with Star Wars? Scott and I decided to watch the Star Wars Trilogy recently. I realized that this linguistic placebo is like a Jedi mind trick. I have seen this in action. I call them The Jedi Midwives.
You remember the Jedi scenes in the Star Wars movies? The Jedi speaks gently, “We are not who you are looking for. You will let us go.” And then the storm trooper says, “You are not who I am looking for. You can go.”
It works at births. The midwife whispers, “your cervix is dilating easily.” The woman’s instinctual brain intuits the message. And her cervix melts away.
I’ve seen it happen. Happen in ways that were as mind-blowing as some of the medical stories about the power of words. I’ve seen The Jedi Midwives influence the birthing woman’s body with their words.
I realize there are other care providers (midwives, nurses, and doctors) who use their Jedi powers. I’ve simply seen The Jedi Midwives use them most.
What can you do if your care provider does not know the Jedi tricks?
- Help your doula and partner understand the importance of words. Teach them about the force. 🙂 Sometimes the medical care providers will catch on as they hear your team saying, “She’s doing so well” or “your body knows how to birth.”
- Put it in your birth plan. Perhaps you don’t make it Star Wars themed (and certainly not Padme style!) but you could write, “Please do not tell me what I will feel or discuss pain.”
- If you’re using hypnosis, play it up. Most care providers know little about how hypnosis for childbirth works. If you give them some “rules” they may take the high road and not say anything. (Those who have their mouths open all the time generally have their ears shut.
- Ask for silence. Have music playing. Turn the lights out. People are quieter in such an environment. If you’re using hypnosis, have the scripts playing out loud. It might even put your care provider to sleep. I remember a hospital birth at which the nurse kept sneaking into our room to sit on our couch. She said our room was so peaceful and smelled so relaxing. She didn’t speak. Just crept in and chilled on the couch.
The more we learn, the more we discover how much we do not know. —Yoda