It's basically like creating your own personal fantasyland.
The idea of pushing a human out of the vagina is incomprehensible, even if you've already done it. The foreign woods between pregnancy and the postpartum experience, childbirth, are a fantasy land where the body, mind, and spirit are pushed past their limits to a space where they're floating in timeless (sometimes painless) amnesia.
If you're having a natural birth, without the aid of a childbirth preparation method, you must move through the bowels of pain before you reach the fantasy land.
If you're having an assisted birth, sans childbirth preparation tools, you must wait for the needle to be injected before you flow into the fantasy land.
If you're having a hypnobirth, you create your own fantasyland and get yourself there as soon as possible.
A hypnobirth consists of mixing the ins and outs (emphasis on "out") of traditional childbirth preparation, like conscious breathing, uterus and perineum education, and how to not pulverize the birthing partner emotionally or physically, with the real gems like affirmations, visualization, and the crown jewel: self-hypnosis.
It all sounds lovely, but what is it really like to harness these tools during one of the most challenging experiences a woman will ever move through?
1. You have to practice if you want it to work.
Reading about this concept and taking a class isn't enough. To squeeze the sweet juices of pain relief from my hypnobirth, I had to soak all aspects of my being in these concepts every day. Every. Day.
2. Pain doesn't just tip-toe away.
During birth, my mind kept yelling "This REALLY hurts!" and it needed to go somewhere else, because my body listened and responded with pain. I had to force my mind to concentrate on something besides pain so my body and baby could do their thing without distraction.
There are many brands of fairies-dancing-on-cotton-candy-clouds visualizations in the hypnobirthing modality, but my mind went to a place where it was riding black mammoth waves to the rhythm of each surge — and it worked.
3. You might hallucinate.
Hypnobirthing gave me the power to let go of control during birth ... and see weird sh*t. When you let go of control during a time of extreme mental, physical, and spiritual challenge, there's nowhere left to go but that aforementioned fantasy land. Sounds are morphed, people become fuzzy, the body assumes a free-floating quality, and the mind starts playing psychedelic movies.
4. You will probably make wild animal sounds.
Some proponents of a hypnobirth advocate silence. As someone who has experienced my own hypnobirth and witnessed many others, I can tell you that it's normal, and often necessary, to let those vocal chords go for it in the right moments. Wail your heart out, you sexy beast.
5. You will have to explain the language you use.
Hypnobirthing, or the Mongan Method, asks birthing mothers to use more gentle and accurate language when describing birth. Instead of "contraction," we say "surge"; instead of "pain," we say "sensation," "pulling," or "tightening." This new use of language may confuse people, specifically hospital staff. Be prepared to explain what the heck you're talking about, and ask everyone to respect and follow the gentle birthing language.
6. You and everyone around you will be much calmer.
Hypnobirthing places significant emphasis on the birthing environment. My birth included low lighting, calming essential oils, humidifiers, unicorns (sadly, I'm kidding), soothing colors, soft materials, gentle voices, and relaxation recordings playing on repeat. My frantic nurse couldn't help but slow her roll every time she came into my zen zone.
7. You won't feel like you're pushing a stranger out.
An integral part of pre-hypnobirth preparation is whispering sweet somethings to the pre-born baby, dancing with her, reading to him, asking her questions, telling him secrets, and other bonding activities.
This prep helped me feel connected to the human I pushed out of my body. Feeling like I was putting in all that work for a stranger would have stolen a few doses of my birthing gusto. Bonding with my son before he was born gave me the superhuman stamina to keep on keepin' on.
8. You will feel like a Jedi Master badass at the end.
You will eternally have the force bowing down to you after you birth a baby. Your aura, vibes, presence, chakras, and all that other good stuff will have gone through a cosmic shift after you empower yourself to take charge of your birthing experience, then let it all go.
Claiming my birthing experience moved me into the postpartum chapter with a take no sh*t attitude, realization that I can truly do anything, and a brand new take on the meaning of true love.