Discussing Hypnobirthing Techniques With Your Obstetrician
Many women go into labor and delivery thinking they will leave it all in the hands of the doctor; many women are disappointed when a birth does not go the way they expected.
Leaving labor and childbirth fully in the hands of a doctor will most likely end in a medically managed birth. This is not the doctor’s fault — an obstetrician is obligated to ensure that mother and baby are safe and healthy. Obstetricians are specialists in surgery and medicine. It stands to reason, then, that these are the tools to which they will turn to assist women who are struggling in labor.
Which is why, if you want something different, you need to actively engaged in the groundwork and preparation, and make sure that the team of people who will assist your birth understand what you want, and why. Discussing with your doctor early and often any birth plan, philosophies and techniques you wish to follow during your labor is the best way to ensure your birth experience plays out as close to your desires as possible
To this end, for anyone interested in a hypnobirthing birth plan, here are some questions that you may like to ask your obstetrician to make sure they’re on board. In general, these questions form a good starting point for gauging your care provider’s support and commitment to a natural birth, which is the core ethos of hypnobirthing.
In some cases, you may find that your doctor is very supportive, but the hospital policies by which they are constrained are not. Remember, just as you would visit lots of wedding venues and caterers, it’s OK to talk to multiple doctors and visit multiple facilities until you find a setting and a team that feel right for you.
Ultimately, however, it’s up to you to decide which of these points are important to you, and which you are prepared and/or able to compromise on. Hypnobirthing requires only that you are calm and relaxed and trust in your body’s abilities to instinctively know how to birth your baby.
Questions to ask your obstetrician if you’re considering hypnobirthing in a hospital
Will you consider induction only if there is a medical urgency or if labor is unusually delayed beyond 42 weeks?
If your doctor answers No, it is unlikely that they will be open to hypnobirthing because this philosophy teaches that all pregnancies and babies are unique and, in the absence of special circumstances, it is in the best interests of the mother and baby for labor to begin spontaneously.
Will I be permitted to maintain hydration during labor by having regular sips of water rather than an IV line?
An IV is not an outright bar to hypnobirthing, but it is a constriction on freedom of movement, and the hypnobirth philosophy advocates for laboring women’s mobility. If your doctor answers No, then you will need to evaluate to what extent an IV line may disturb you, limit your mobility or cause discomfort during your labor.
Is there a time limit that I am allowed to labor for before being obligated to accept chemical or surgical intervention?
If your doctor answers Yes, then you may wish to investigate an alternate provider. Hypnobirthing supports natural, undisturbed labors that are allowed to follow their own rhythm, which can either be much faster or much slower than conventional hospital norms.
Will my partner (and/or doula) be permitted to be with me at all times?
Hypnobirthing aims to make your partner an integral participant in the birthing process. Doulas can be an excellent support for mother and father, too. If your doctor answers No, you may prefer to consider or a family-friendlier alternative.
Will I be allowed to move around during labor and assume a position of my choice for birthing?
Delivery is much easier when doctors allow women to assume a position that allows for gravity and body shape to assist the baby’s exit, rather than the traditional back-lying position which requires mothers to effectively push their baby uphill. If the doctor answers No, this would indicate that Hypnobirthing with that practitioner would be difficult.
I wish to avoid an episiotomy; is this a routine procedure?
If your doctor answers Yes, you may want to reconsider them as a your health care provider. Hypnobirthing relies on the body’s Natural Expulsive Reflex which gently nudges the baby to crowning, reducing the pressure on the perineum and the risk of tears, and eliminating the need for episiotomy.
After the baby is born, will you allow cord pulsation to cease before cutting the cord?
At the time of birth, approximately one-third of the baby’s blood is in the placenta. By delaying cord clamping, this blood is able to transfer to the baby, reducing the risk of anemia. Hypnobirthing supports delayed cord cutting for this reason.
Will I be permitted to hold and nurse my baby immediately after birth?
The hour after birth is known as the “Golden Hour” and is an important extension of a natural birth in terms of bonding between mother and baby. Establishing breastfeeding is very important in this time and immediate suckling will also assist in the speedy expulsion of the placenta. Hypnobirthing supports immediate mother-baby contact for this reason.
Am I allowed to create a comforting environment in the labor room by dimming the lights and playing soft music?
If your doctor answers No, you could explain to him or her the benefits of creating a nurturing and calm birthing environment and possibly reach a compromise.
Is there the possibility of laboring or birthing in a pool?
Water can be very soothing during childbirth, whether it’s used only during labor or for delivery itself. If your hospital does not provide waterbirth, you can ask for permission to bring your own inflatable pool to use for relaxation during labor. Access to warm running water in a shower can also be very beneficial in a natural birth.